CoP 46

Conjoining of Paragons

Chapter 46: Children of a Broken World

By ACI100

Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction based on the Harry Potter universe. All recognizable characters, plots, and settings are the exclusive property of J.K Rowling. I make no claim to ownership.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to my editor Athena, as well as my other betas 3CP, Luq707, Raven, Regress, Thanos, and Yoshi89 for their incredible work on this story.

Self-Promotion: I have a Discord server where you can chat and read all of my chapters early. If you would like to join, simply copy the link on my profile. You can do likewise to follow the ACI100 Twitter account — @ACI_100 — for live updates and to check out my official website.

If you like what you read and wish to generously support me directly, I also have a P*T*E*N page, where you can support me in exchange for exclusive, Patron-only benefits. Patrons at the $5 tier or higher get access to all of my chapters many weeks in advance of even Discord, who in turn get chapters long before FFN and AO3.

November 20, 1943
1:32 PM

Someone screamed from far away. It echoed off nearby buildings and out across the pockmarked square, but Harry hardly heard it. 

Everything was spinning. Spires of smoke curling up from fires lit by Dumbledore’s last attack whirled before his eyes like great, grey twisters, their harsh scent sharp in his nose. 

Nothing matters. We’re all dead anyway. What could he do? The one man capable of defeating Grindelwald was dead. I’m on the top of his hit list, but all of Britain will fall. 

Footsteps padded nearby and an arm fell across his shoulders. “Come on,” whispered Emily, brushing strands of soot-streaked hair back from his eyes with a gentle hand. “We have to move.”

“Move?” The word tasted strange on his tongue. The syllable was foreign and his voice struggled to make the right sound.

“Yes,” she said, “move. Grindelwald could come back. For all we know, he’s gathering enough reinforcements to secure the village. We can’t be here if he returns. We’re in no shape to fight.”

Harry looked up, wincing when a burning lance stabbed through his side. The world lurched again and he sagged against Emily, using her to steady himself. 

Her face was deathly calm. A small cut ran down her cheek, bubbling with unspilled blood. 

How can she be calm? “What’s the point? We’re all dead anyway.”

Her face twitched and something dark flashed behind her eyes. “We are not dead.” Her voice was soft but sharp as steel. “I will not stay here and submit to Grindelwald’s mercy. I don’t plan on dying and I won’t let you, either.”

“I don’t see that we have much choice.” Harry looked around the square. Once lush grass was scorched away, replaced by blackened stone or seared patches of sand whose grains were grey with smoke. “So what if we leave? Grindelwald’s after me. You should go, you should—“

She placed a finger to his lips. “If you suggest that again, I promise you’ll regret it.” She let her arm drop from around his shoulders and snaked it around his waist. “Come on. Up.” 

Harry gritted his teeth, his face screwed up against the pain. His knees trembled, but he stood, leaning against her and coughing, squinting his eyes against the still-thick smoke.

Harry scowled. “Where will we go, then?”

Emily gestured back up the path leading from the village. “Hogwarts.”

Harry might have laughed had his ribs not hurt so bad. “Are you mental? Grindelwald knows it’s me he wants, he knows that I’m at Hogwarts.”

“There’s no better place.” Her voice was hard and firm, her grip around his waist tightening. “Most of Europe has fallen and the Soviet Union would never let us past their borders. Getting to America would be nearly impossible. Our best bet is the United Kingdom and Hogwarts will be the last place to fall.” 

She said it less like a prediction and more like a fact. It’s her home, just like mine. She has to make herself believe it. Something panged deep in Harry’s stomach, the first rays of sadness piercing his cloudy veil of shock and numbness. But there’s no Dumbledore. 

“I know it’s hard having hope.” She pulled him tightly against her, giving his waist a gentle squeeze, “but think about it. Where in Britain has stronger wards than Hogwarts? Not even Grindelwald can punch right through. That will take a concerted effort. We’ll know when he arrives and we can plan accordingly. If things get bad, there’s always the chamber.”

“She’s right,” rasped Charlus, finally getting to his feet. “I don’t know what chamber she’s on about, but Hogwarts has never been taken. It held against Emeric the Evil, and then Egbert the Egregious when he beat him. Father…” Charlus swallowed hard. “Father always said Hogwarts would hold even after Britain fell.”

A dull ache began spreading behind his eyes. It seems so stupid going back after today, but they’re right. Hagrid had called Hogwarts the safest place in Britain and there was no Voldemort here.

But… “We’ll have to deal with Grindelwald’s agents.”

Something cold seeeped from Emily’s eyes and fell across her face. “We will. They can’t be allowed to wander anymore.”

“Agents?” Charlus asked coldly, fingering his wand.

“The attacks against me,” Harry explained, “I thought they were being done by Grindelwald’s agents.” A shiver ran up his spine. “Now I know I’m right.”

“Bloody fuck!” Charlus’s voice shook along with his shoulders and Harry could make out tears shining in his eyes. “It’s all my fault. All of this is my fault.”

Kind of. If Charlus hadn’t cast Fiendfyre… No! Grindelwald would have come after us no matter what. Maybe he would still have beat Dumbledore. This is a different world.

“It’s Grindelwald’s fault. All of this is Grindelwald’s fault.”

“How do we stop him?” asked Charlus, looking around the pockmarked square. 

Harry felt Emily stiffen. “We’ll find a way,” she vowed, staring up through the clouds of smoke with hatred in her eyes. “I swear it.”

Several hours later…

The Ministry of Magic felt like a large, somber church. Aurors had arrived and taken Harry, Emily, and Charlus in for questioning. Water streamed from gilded statues while they traipsed across a wondrous atrium, but it was the only sound. Any faces they saw while walking the ministry’s halls were grim and worried. 

“I’m fucked,” Charlus muttered while the three waited in old, rickety chairs while the Head of the DMLE prepared to question them. “I’m—“ 

Emily shushed him and flicked her hand. Harry felt the ward raise. Wandlessly? “Think about where we are,” she said. 

Charlus stared down towards the floor. “What does it matter? The second they hear I cast Fiendfyre—“

“They won’t.”

Charlus scoffed. “Come off it. There had to be a hundred people there when I cast it.”

“Most of them are probably dead or captured.” Harry’s stomach knotted. I hope Dorea and Elena got away safely. 

“Not to mention confused,” said Emily. “I doubt many could identify who cast the spell and I doubt the ministry would take scattered accounts too seriously.” She grimaced. “They might not persecute you even if they did. Their target is Grindelwald and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone paid some hush money to keep you around knowing that you can cast that spell.”

“I still shouldn’t have cast it.”

Emily pushed strands of hair back from her eyes with a weary hand. “No, you shouldn’t have, but understanding why you did is easy. Going forward, we’ll need greater caution when confronting Grindelwald.”

I hope we never have to fight him. It was a vein hope. Harry could see in Charlus’s eyes how badly his friend still craved revenge. And Grindelwald will come for me. I won’t get a choice. He smothered a hot flash of bitterness. I never get a choice. 

“It’ll take all three of us,” said Charlus. “It might still not be enough, but if we plan and practice…”

Bloody hell, he must be desperate. Less than a year ago, Charlus had been wary of her. The enemies of my enemies are my friends. That must be how Charlus thought, but still the idea of them three practicing together punched a small hole in the thick clouds of sorrow rolling in on the edge’s of a valley filled by dread and numbness. 

Emily’s fingers curled into fists. “It will be enough! It has to be.”

She sounds desperate. Does she really hate him that much? Every muscle looked taut beneath her skin, her eyes were narrow, but wild. There’s something going on there. 

Charlus let out a long breath. “I just… I can’t imagine him losing. Not after today.”

Emily uncurled her fists and sagged in her chair. “I don’t plan on duelling him fairly. There are other ways… there have to be other ways.”

That evening…

Swirling green flames gave way to a circular office shrouded in darkness. Harry’s chest constricted, holding his breath hostage. Dumbledore’s office. 

It had been in his time, but here it belonged to his predecessor. There were none of the remembered trinkets and Fawkes was nowhere to be found. Bookshelves lined the walls and encircled the room, intermingled with stunning portraits whose like Harry had never seen. 

It had been strange seeing this office when Dippett questioned him following Abraxas Malfoy’s death, but now it just hurt. His ribs had been healed hours ago, but a worse pain lingered in his chest, spreading down into the pit of his stomach and crawling up his throat until bile choked him.

“Ah, you’re back.” Dippet sounded more tired than Harry had ever heard him. “Miss Riddle and Master Potter returned some time ago. I was growing worried.”

Harry might usually have faked a smile, but it wasn’t in him now. The numbness was fading and being back in this office just made him want to scream or cry.

“I was the last one questioned, Headmaster.”

“Ah, I see.” Dippet rubbed at his eyes. “Please stop by the hospital wing, Master Pavonis. I’m aware you were healed, but I’m sure Madam Violetta would appreciate an opportunity to look you over.”

“I’ll head straight there, Headmaster.”

Harry stepped off the marble staircase before ever reaching the hospital wing, heading straight for the girls’ bathroom on the second floor. His head still spun. I need time to think. 

Harry strode across the pile tales and stopped before the engraved sink, staring around the room. Lucky Abraxas didn’t become a ghost like Myrtle. “Open.”

Harry’s heart leapt into his throat when the chamber ground open. That’s gonna take some getting used to. Emily and he scarcely met up down here, but she was sitting in the room’s centre. She rocked gently back and forth, her hands folded in her lap.

She looked up when the door opened, watching him wordlessly, her face still a mask of calm. 

Harry ought to feel annoyed. I came down here to let everything out. I can’t do that with Emily right here. Harry clamped down on his Occlumency, but a strange warmth still lingered in his chest.

Emily patted the spot beside her and Harry took a seat, letting out a long, tired breath. “How do you feel?” she asked, turning her head and watching him.

“Probably about how you think.” His eyes dropped towards the floor. “I can’t remember many times feeling worse.”

There was a short silence. “I’m sorry about Dumbledore. He and I never saw eye-to-eye, but I know he mentored you. I wish things between us were different, but I can appreciate the things he did.”

It’s so much more than that. Dumbledore had trusted him back when the rest thought him the Heir of Slytherin. Dumbledore had shown Harry the differences between himself and Voldemort. Dumbledore had always been there — a constant shield against the worst the world could offer.

Now he’s gone. I’ll never see him again; no more lessons, no more talks, no more advice. Warmth stung the corners of his eyes and Harry forced his mind clear. The thought of crying in front of Emily made heat rise towards his cheeks and embarrassment crawl through his chest.

“Dumbledore might be the greatest man I ever knew. I’m… gonna miss him.” Harry jolted when warm fingers slid through his. Who’d have thought a year ago I’d be holding hands with Riddle?

Emily squeezed his hand. “I know. Today’s been hard on you.”

Harry nearly laughed. “Today’s been hard on everyone. Grindelwald’s coming. We both know Britain can’t stop him after what we saw today.”

“It was always bound to happen. Dumbledore…” she trailed off. 

Harry sighed. “I know you don’t think he would have fought him. You reckon the fighting would have come here anyway.”

She offered him a weak smile. “I’m sorry.”

“No, I get it. I… I think Dumbledore would have done what was right in the end. I think today proved that, but I get that you think of him differently.” I hate lies. “You don’t need to pretend you don’t just because he’s… he’s.”

She squeezed his hand again. “It’s okay, you know. I understand you’re human. I didn’t give you an Occlumency book hoping to change that.”

Harry snorted, but it came out more like a sniff. His throat felt tied in knots and a dull ache was slowly filling his chest. “What do you know about being human?” It came out harsher than he meant. “Sorry,” he muttered. “You’re just so… unbothered. Our world might have just ended and you’re acting like it’s just another obstacle.”

Emily sat there, staring up at Slytherin’s statue while she squeezed his hand. “We look at life differently,” she said at last. “Grindelwald doesn’t feel like a threat to me the same way he does to you.”

She’s mental. “Emily… you saw—“

“Yes, I saw. I know it might sound arrogant. I don’t believe I can outduel Grindelwald, but today changed little for me. I never relied on Dumbledore the way you did, and my enemies have always come in different shapes than yours.”

Harry lifted his head and look towards her. Her eyes were pointedly looking up towards the statue and not at him. “What enemies?”

Silence stretched between them again and her grip on his hand loosened. “Death, Harry.”

Confusion punched a small hole in the spreading despair. “What—“

“My enemy is death.” Harry felt her shudder. “You’re wrong about me. You think I shrug everything off, but that’s not true. I fear death more strongly than most people fear anything.” Her eyes dropped from the statue to the floor. “I can’t count how many nights we left the orphanage and sheltered in stone buildings, listening to explosions and sirens while bombs fell everywhere. I always wondered whether we’d be hit, whether that night would be our last.”

Harry could do little but squeeze her hand back. Fucking hell. It was a life beyond imagination. Not even Voldemort was a threat like that. I got breaks and was only faced with him a couple times. “I… never considered that.”

“I don’t blame you. It’s not the sort of thing most people do.” She offered a smile that shook on her lips. It’s faker than any smile she’s ever given Slughorn. “This changes nothing. Grindelwald is just another bomb I’m waiting to fall. All that matters is beating death before it lands. The goal is the same; nothing has changed for me the way it has for you.”

Harry let that sink in. That’s why Voldemort came after me. What had his father said? Something about a prophecy saying one would kill the other? If Voldemort was this afraid of death, of course he tried killing me. It’s probably how he survived the Killing Curse — he must have spent years finding a way. 

“And you think you can beat it? Death, I mean?”

Emily closed her eyes and let out a shuddering breath. “I have to. I don’t think I could go on otherwise.”

The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 

Fuck it — I trust her. I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I do. “Have you heard of the Deathly Hallows?” Emily shook her head. “There are three of them. I found them while looking up myths about the Elder Wand.”

“Idiot,” she said fondly, swatting him on the shoulder.

“I think Grindelwald really has it. That symbol he was standing in — that’s the symbol of the Deathly Hallows. One of them is the Elder Wand.”

“That doesn’t mean he has the wand,” Emily said gently.

“Not on its own, but I’ve done a lot of research. The wand’s trail ends centuries ago, but a lot of people think it was in Germany. Some think Gregorovich, the family of wandmakers, had it.”

“And you think Grindelwald stole it.”

Harry nodded. “It’s just a feeling, but I think the Hallows are real. The more I read, the more I believe.”

“What are the others? Hallows is plural.”

“One is the invisibility cloak. Not a normal one,” he said when he saw her eyes narrow. “It’s perfect. The stories say it offers complete invisibility, whatever that means.”

Emily studied him. “And the third?”

Here we go. “The Resurrection Stone — a stone with the power to raise the dead.” Emily’s eyes widened and a pang went off in Harry’s stomach. “I’m not sure if that’s what you’re looking for,” he said. “The main story… well, it doesn’t sound like true resurrection. It’s like… it’s like it brings back a shadow, or something.”

Her face fell, but only for a moment. “It could be studied,” she decided. “It’s closer than almost anything else I’ve read about. That’s if it exists at all.”

“I think it does. I doubt Grindelwald would use the Hallows symbol if he didn’t believe in them. Grindelwald’s a lot of things, but he’s not stupid. I bet he’s studied them.”

“And if he’s found the wand, that’s a perfect reason to use the symbol.” Harry nodded. “Then we find and study the Resurrection Stone.”

We? Harry had no memory of saying he was afraid of death. 

“I don’t plan on dying and I won’t let you, either.”

The warmth in his chest returned, but it was quickly snuffed out. “I doubt it will be that easy.”

“It’s not about being easy.” There was a rabid excitement in her eyes. “We’re the two brightest students of our generation. Together, we can do it. We can conquer death itself.”

It’s crazy how willing she is to believe now that I’ve mentioned the stone. That same pang went off again in his stomach. If not for her, I’d hope I was wrong. 

“If I’m right, Grindelwald has the wand. It won’t matter if we find a way of raising the dead — not if he kills both of us.”

“If the wand exists, it’s not unbeatable. If it’s trail is true, then Emeric the Evil lost that wand. So did Egbert the Egregious and a handful of others.” She spun on the floor so they faced each other and clasped both his hands in hers. Warmth snaked up his arms. “Don’t you see, Harry? There’s a path forward. We can conquer death. That means immortality and never-ending armies. Grindelwald is irrelevant — no one can win against those odds.” 

Her eyes lit up; Harry could practically see the gears churning inside her skull. “Then there’s the cloak. If it really offers true invisibility, then how can Grindelwald fight it? One of us can wear the cloak and kill him. Surely true invisibility means completely undetectable!”

She was giddy now. A wildness shone behind her eyes, her face bright despite the bleakest day in living memory. Harry felt her hands trembling with excitement. 

Doubt still curled in the pit of his stomach. Despair still dragged each one of his thoughts down into a dark, depressing void. I wish I could move on like her. His heart ached in that strange way it sometimes did near Emily. 

Harry sighed. “Emily, I don’t—“

Warmth swallowed his lips and something forced its way between them. Harry sat there numbly, unable to move. Did she just… oh, fuck. 

Emily’s lips were slammed against his, her tongue in his mouth. It’s so… wet. Yet still something stirred in his chest, something wild and restless. He found his tongue wrestling hers, his lips pushing back.

Her arms snaked around his neck and she deepened the kiss. His lungs began aching, his ribs searing with pain. 

It mattered not. Nothing mattered. Not Dumbledore, not Grindelwald, not death itself. Something was roaring in his stomach, satisfied at long last. 

I’ve fancied her all along. He knew not how long ‘all along’ was, but he knew it was true. That feeling… bloody hell. 

Her lips pulled away and they both panted. His lungs burned, filled again with the chamber’s dank air. 

“No more doubts,” she said, taking both his hands again. ‘Together, we’ll do it. Together, we can do anything.”

Author’s Endnote:

I am INCREDIBLY NERVOUS for this chapter’s reception. This has been building for a long time and it has been heavily foreshadowed in the past ten chapters. Still I worry how it will be received. There’s a lot of pressure and romance has never been my forte. I just hoped this lived up to expectations and I welcome all feedback!

Please read and review. 

NOTE FOR PATRONS: I have shown Harry studying the Elder Wand a couple of times. I have kept how much he knows intentionally ambiguous because I was a little bit unsure how the timeline would work. Those previous chapters will be edited and updated to make it clearer he knows the essential information for this chapter to work.

PS: The next password will be released in two weeks. THE NEXT FIVE CHAPTERS ARE AVAILABLE FOR PATRONS RIGHT NOW! If you would like to read them early, feel free to sign up to my Patreon page.

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.

%d bloggers like this: