PoP 15

Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity

Year 2: The Advancing of Shadows

Chapter 2: Corruption and Control

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 editors Athena Hope and Fezzik, as well as my other betas 3CP, Luq707, Raven, Regress, and Yoshi89 for their incredible work on this story.

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July 7, 1992

The Headmaster’s Office, Hogwarts

8:00 PM

The night was dark and the clouds were thick, allowing no moonlight to penetrate their persistent veil. This cast the titanic form of Hogwarts castle largely into shadow, making the massive shape seem like a looming fortress on the horizon to any who might approach.

Inside this structure, all seemed quiet. Almost all of its occupants had retreated home for the summer holidays; the sole exception was the place’s master, who still resided in one of the castle’s highest towers.

This man sat behind his desk and peered at his office’s door with folded hands and a patient expression. He seemed to be waiting for something and he did not so much as flinch when his clock struck nine, nor when there came a knock from his door.


A sallow-skinned man with long, greasy hair stepped inside, closing the door behind him with an impressive lack of noise. He crossed the office just as silently, sliding smoothly into his place across from the silver-haired man who sat behind the room’s desk.

“Ah, Severus. So long it feels since we have last met, yet so short a time has truly passed.”

Snape did not look impressed. “I did not come here for niceties, Dumbledore. I came here for answers, as you well know.”

“And I promised you would have them; a promise I very much still plan on upholding. Forgive my delay, but it is always proper decorum on the part of the host to at least try and inquire after their guest’s wellbeing.”

“Your concern has been acknowledged,” Snape said with a curled lip. “Now, how long must I wait to be given what I came for?”

“No longer, I suppose,” Dumbledore answered with a weary expression. “I fear this discussion may be taxing on the both of us, which only means it is best if we see it through with haste.”

“What happened the night after exams concluded? Not one, but two students in the hospital wing; not to mention the heir of a Founding Twelve family dead without a satisfactory explanation.”

Dumbledore closed his eyes and thought very deeply. “What I am about to tell you is something which can never leave this room.”

One of Snape’s eyebrows rose. “Was that not simply a working assumption?”

“I certainly hope so, but this is different. This is a truth more monumental than any I have imparted onto you thus far. Swear to me, Severus, that nothing I say will ever leave this room.”

Snape watched Dumbledore impassively and the headmaster could practically see the man’s mental calculations through his black, tunnel-like eyes. 

After a time, Snape nodded slowly. “Very well. Nothing you tell me will ever leave this office. I swear it and will vow with my life if I must.”

“I think not,” said Dumbledore. “Your word is enough for me.” The headmaster sat back in his chair, running a steady hand through his beard as he thought very deeply. “You know, of course, that Quirinus spent the entirety of the school year hoping to get ahold of the Philosopher’s Stone?” Snape nodded curtly. “Then I am sure it will come as no surprise to you that he decided to make his move on the very night you speak of.”

Snape nodded once more. Dumbledore had figured that Snape would assume that had been the case, but the old man thought it only prudent to start there.

“I had thought not,” Dumbledore continued. “All of this, you have easily deduced from basic extrapolations of relevant facts. What I think it likely you have not discovered is that, for the duration of the year, we were not fighting Quirinus Quirrell, but the one-time master you so bravely abandoned.” 

Snape’s eyes actually widened for a full second before he gained mastery over his emotions once more. “He… was here?”

“He was indeed. You will remember that, on the night we spoke of protecting Lily’s son, you told me that there was no need?” Another nod from Snape, this one much more stiff. “You will also doubtlessly remember what I told you on that night?”

“You said that the Dark Lord would one day return.”

“I did indeed, and this year has only proven me to be correct.”

“In what capacity was he here?”

“He has not yet returned, if that is the reason for your question. It is difficult for me to hypothesize about what state Lord Voldemort has rested in for the past decade. I have always thought, however, that it is likely something akin to a wraith.”

“You’re telling me that he possessed Quirrell for an entire year without the fool fighting him off or his body decomposing from the stress?”

“Yes and no.” Dumbledore suddenly looked more grave than usual. Snape would have even gone as far as to say the man looked put off. “I am saying that Voldemort, in one way or another, came into contact with our former professor during his travels. Likely in Albania, as I have had my suspicions for some time that Albania is where he has dwelled for all these years. When they met, it is likely that Voldemort disillusioned Quirrell with promises of power and grandeur the likes of which he had never even dreamed of. Once he had him completely spellbound, it seems that he must have arranged for an accident of some kind.”

“So what you’re saying is that Quirrell was never here this past year and that the Dark Lord was in complete and total control of what was essentially an empty vessel?”

“I confess that I hadn’t known such a thing to be possible before, but it is the only conclusion I can come to. I had my suspicions that Voldemort may have been occupying Quirrell’s body with the man’s twisted blessing, but our confrontation at the year’s end dissuaded me of that belief. There was no sign of Quirinus in that corridor. It was truly and completely Voldemort. He was greatly weakened and at most a shell of what he had been, but everything about him was undoubtedly him.”

“The unicorn blood,” mused Snape. “That is why so many were lost this past year.”

“That is my belief, yes.”

“And for how long did you suspect the Dark Lord to be at Hogwarts?”

“Since quite early in the school year, I must admit. An attack on Nicholas’s home took place early in the summer prior, which was what prompted him to deem it necessary for the stone to be more firmly protected. He had no available usages of the Fidelius Charm left, you see, so he entrusted it to me. He wished for me to put it under a Fidelius of my own, but I talked him down from that idea. That is a charm I do not want to waste now. You do not get to use it freely and at the time, I hadn’t the foggiest idea that Lord Voldemort might be involved. It was him who I was saving my usages for, in essence. If I had known, I might have been more agreeable to Nicholas’s original plan.

“Yet when I placed it at Hogwarts and Quirrell returned not to retake his post as professor of Muggle Studies, but of Defence Against the Dark Arts, I won’t say that I did not have my suspicions. I believe the curse on that position to be very real. So naturally, I watched him closely. As you yourself said to me on the night of Samhain, he was most unlike himself. Of course, this could have been explained away through his travels, but there were other, more troubling things.”

“Oh?” asked Snape, sounding oddly detached by now.

“You had implied that night that Quirinus taught your Slytherins with a shockingly high degree of competency despite the rest of the school perpetually complaining about the man’s inability to teach. This was odd to me. There was, of course, the obvious fact that Harry Potter was in the very house he seemed to grant priority; but there was also the lesser known fact that before he became known as the monster that is Voldemort, he was but a boy. A boy who, upon his graduation from Hogwarts, wanted nothing more than to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts.

“The headmaster at the time denied him, citing the fact he was much too young. Voldemort even returned years later to inquire after the position again not long after I had replaced old Armando as the castle’s headmaster. I had always been suspicious of Voldemort as he grew and matured, and I felt uneasy about the whispers I was hearing about him by then. I, of course, declined him the position, but he never let it go. There is, obviously, the curse on the position, which I always thought was his doing, and now there was this. In a sick sort of way, his actions allowed him to both study his defeater and live out his childhood ambitions.” 

Dumbledore’s face scrunched up in distaste. “There is also the business with Argus. Voldemort and his followers always were fond of the Imperius Curse, and I do not think Quirinus was ever capable of such magic.”

“Yet you told none of your suspicions?”

“I believed Voldemort to be no more than an attachment of Quirinus. Still a brilliant mind, but not nearly as threatening as he turned out to be. It was a horrific mistake on my part which may well have cost the young Longbottom boy his life. For that, I will forever be regretful.” 

“There is… something I don’t understand.” When Dumbledore just stared pensively back towards him, Snape took it as his cue to continue. “You told me that when the Dark Lord attacked Potter, the Killing Curse rebounded.” Dumbledore nodded. “By all laws of magic, the Dark Lord should have died — yet he did not. He lived on as a wraith, if you are correct, and still had the power to not only plan his return, but to forcefully possess others. I… fail to see how this is in any way possible.” 

There was a long pause during which Dumbledore’s expression was completely blank. Snape wondered whether or not the man was trying to piece the same thing together, or whether he was trying to decide whether or not the Potions Master should be made aware of things he already knew.

“I am not certain,” Dumbledore said eventually. 

“But you have ideas.”

“A few,” the man admitted, “though none I will speak on without irrefutable confirmation. I am certain that it is only through the blackest of magics that Lord Voldemort survives. Magics that I will not dare speak of without just cause, even with you. I trust you explicitly and know you are very far from a pure soul, but there are some things that men are just much better off not knowing unless circumstance deems that blissful ignorance to be impossible.”

“You won’t tell me then?”

“One day, if any of my suspicions are proven correct, I may. Alas, that day has not yet come. Do you have any further questions for me, Severus?”

“That night,” Snape reminded.

“Ah, yes. It is my understanding that Masters Weasley and Longbottom, along with the young Miss Granger, actually thought you were the would-be thief.” 

Snape actually snorted derisively, sneering at the mere idea. “Leave it up to one as idiotic and thick-headed as Weasley,” he drawled. “I’d have hoped at least the Granger girl might have dissuaded such foolishness. For all of her many faults, I did at least think she was intelligent.”

“I believe they caught sight of your injuries post Samhain after having seen the cerberus prior to. They leapt to what, at the time, seemed the most rational conclusion.

“They decided to go after the stone that night on a horribly misguided mission of keeping you away from it.” Dumbledore’s expression darkened. “Young Master Longbottom had the misfortune of being alone with Voldemort in the final chamber. He was not immediately killed, but immobilized and later used as a hostage when I arrived on the scene.”

“And Potter?”

“I am… unsure as to how Harry came to be there. I don’t get the impression he went after the stone. I think it’s likely a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Snape’s sneer made it known exactly how likely he thought that possibility to be. “He came face-to-face with Lord Voldemort and, as any young boy in his position would, lost his head. When I permitted Voldemort to exit the castle with the stone—”

“Excuse me?”

“Come now, Severus. Surely, you would not have had me condemn the boy to death?”

“If the alternative is the Dark Lord’s return, I fail to see how keeping the boy alive could be justified.”

“Would you say the same thing if Harry was in his position?” 

Snape visibly hesitated and then scowled. “What does it matter to you?” he snarled. “I have never once claimed to be the peak of human morality. You should have expected this when you took a former Death Eater as your spy.”

The old man sighed very deeply. “I do not judge you, Severus. It is the same flaw that drove you to the light in the first place, so I cannot revolt too heavily against it. I am only sorry your life experiences have willed it into existence to begin with.”

“If you are quite finished doing a pathetic impression of a therapist, I believe you were telling me how the Longbottom boy died.”

“So I was. After I permitted Voldemort to leave the castle with the stone — which, for your information, was an attempt at stalling — Harry intervened.” Snape had not seen such an overwhelming amount of sadness in Dumbledore’s eyes since the night the Potters had died. “He really did believe he was helping,” said Dumbledore. There was an odd note of bitterness in his voice. It clearly wasn’t towards Potter, but towards the circumstance itself. 

“But when he took matters into his own, useless hands,” gritted out Snape, “he spelled the doom of his fellow classmate.”

Dumbledore nodded resignedly. 

“I am unsure if it is better or worse that Potter stumbled into this situation of his own accord and not by any machinations of either yourself or the Dark Lord.” 

Dumbledore winced imperceptibly despite not being all that surprised. Snape was a spiteful man when angered, and he would lash out at any target in his vicinity.

“Do you have any other questions for me, Severus?” The man shook his head. “Very well, I believe that is all for tonight, then.”

Snape was out of his chair before Dumbledore had started speaking and the office door had slammed shut before he had finished. The bang awoke his phoenix, who raised his head and blinked at its master, obviously perplexed.

Dumbledore just sighed again. “Some things never change, my friend.”

July 17, 1992

The Burrow 

8:12 AM


By Rita Skeeter

“Honestly,” thundered Molly Weasley, “the nerve of that… that… conniving, two-faced trollop!”

Ron suspected that either Fred, George, or both would have whistled or applauded the creativity of their mother’s cursing had the situation been different. As it was, making light out of the death of a student was a touch far, even by the twins’ lofty standards. 

“Oh, if I could get my hands on this parasite,” Ron’s mother continued. “Leeching off the death of a child just to further her own career! And she goes on and on in this rag about how there was no good explanation! She makes it sound as though Dumbledore is covering the whole thing up like it’s some sort of great murder mystery. Why can’t she just let the families grieve and be done with it?”

“That’s Skeeter for you,” said Arthur tiredly, pushing his half-eaten breakfast aside as he got hastily to his feet. “Well, I’d better get to work. I know it’s a touch early, but I’ve got a long day ahead of me. Have a nice day, Molly, dear.” He looked at his children. “Behave yourselves,” he said firmly, quickly exiting the room before any of them could reply. 

Ron couldn’t blame his father for wanting to get away, even if his attempt had been terribly transparent. He had wanted nothing more than to get away himself for the past number of weeks, though his reasons had little to do with Rita Skeeter — the woman certainly hadn’t helped matters, however.

She had written on and off about Neville’s mysterious death ever since the close of Ron’s first year at Hogwarts. He could understand writing an article. It was a major event, whether anybody liked it or not. He had never heard of a student dying at Hogwarts, so he could understand that this was big news. Especially since it had happened under Dumbledore’s nose and in a place that many considered to be among the safest in the country.

The official story had been that Neville had stumbled and fallen down a set of stairs one night while on his way back to the common room. It had been the night after they had all completed their final exam, so it wasn’t entirely unreasonable to assume he had been fatigued. Especially since he had apparently gotten tripped up by the infamous trick step, which was now apparently being disenchanted due to the tragedy it had caused.

What made these articles so repulsive — besides the number of them that had been published — was the fact that Skeeter just seemed completely unwilling to accept that cause. She had spent the better part of a month speculating about Neville’s passing and exactly how it had happened. Worse still, the speculations weren’t even so much whether or not it was a cover up. They were more so wondering exactly how bad the truth had been if the school felt the need to cover it up.

And the worst part was knowing that the hag was actually right to doubt the cover story and right to wonder how bad the truth had been.

Ron, of course, knew how Neville had died, and it only made things all the worse.

It was Quirrell, not Snape, who went after the stone. Dumbledore had filled in the gaps in the story they didn’t have. Quirrell had read about the stone during his travels and had become slightly deranged. He had thus returned to the school in search of the artifact, knowing it would grant him wealth and power beyond his wildest dreams.

He had murdered Neville in the final chamber before taking the stone, at which point he had been stopped by Dumbledore and — if he and Hermione were right — Potter.

They could think of no other reason to give Slytherin as many points as Potter had earned during the final feast. How on earth he could have played such a large part in stopping Quirrell, neither of them knew.

“Well,” Hermione had said, “he is the Boy-Who-Lived. He beat You-Know-Who as a baby and no one knows how he did it. Maybe whatever let him beat You-Know-Who was what let him beat Quirrell?”

It had sounded so fantastical that Ron had had a difficult time believing it, but he had no better explanation to put forth. 

How Potter could have figured anything out about the stone, or about Quirrell, or about any of it, they had no idea.

Ron didn’t know the boy all that well. He hung around with a bunch of twats, but the two of them had scarcely interacted. They had nearly come to blows over the remembrall back in September, and Potter had somewhat been a part of Malfoy’s ploy to get him into trouble that night. That had not been a good first impression, but the two really hadn’t interacted much after that. Potter was quiet in Potions — the only class Ron shared with him — and seemed to mostly keep his head down out of class. He was often found in the library, sometimes alone, sometimes with his friend Nott, and on other, rarer occasions, he was joined by his gang of wankers. 

Ron knew he had nowhere near enough information to have a real opinion of Potter. He hung out with twats and had helped Malfoy enough, so he had thought him likely a tosser, but perhaps he had judged wrong if the young Slytherin really had helped to prevent the stone’s theft.

He supposed it didn’t really matter in the end.

The only thing that mattered was that Neville was gone. What was even more surreal was that — as they had discussed in hushed, morbid whispers — it could easily have been either him or Hermione. Any of the three of them could have advanced to that final chamber, at which point they would have met their end at the hands of a deranged Defence Against the Dark Arts professor.

Skeeter’s articles just reminded Ron about that, not to mention the horrible guilt he felt for even having played an indirect role in the whole thing. If he had just been better, maybe they wouldn’t have had to go after Quirrell in the first place. Maybe they could have stopped him earlier or, at the very least, gone to Dumbledore sooner and prevented the whole thing.

It was all just painful to think about.

Cedric had done his best to keep Ron’s mind off of it all so far this summer. The boy had first approached him and Hermione on the train, joined by their yearmates Susan Bones and Hannah Abbott. The trio of Hufflepuffs had ridden with them the entire ride back to London and they had all promised to keep in touch.

True to his word, Cedric had written Ron just a few days later and asked whether or not he might enjoy a bit of Quidditch. Their fathers knew each other at work and either through that connection or through some other way, Cedric had heard that the Weasleys had a large orchard in which the family practiced Quidditch.

Ron might not have known Cedric for long, but the boy had seemed like a good bloke on the train. The fact that he was two full years older intimidated him for a while, but Cedric just had a way of putting any who spoke with him at ease. It helped that the two Hufflepuff girls from his year seemed to view him as an older brother, which somehow just made the whole thing feel more natural.

In a way, Ron could already see exactly why they thought the way they did.

For the few weeks the pair had known each other, Cedric had spent much of his time at the Burrow. During said time, he had probably inquired after Ron’s wellbeing more times than his actual brothers had done over his entire life. And it wasn’t even that he was persistent — he was just supportive and fairly consistent.

And a damn good seeker.

Cedric had been the reserve seeker this past year, but he would almost definitely be on the team full-time starting in September. Ron was actually unsure whether or not he would be able to beat Cedric to the snitch. The boy wasn’t the most incredible raw flyer Ron had ever met — he had nothing on Charlie and honestly, Ron thought himself to be more talented. But Cedric had a brilliant mind for Quidditch. He had an eagle’s eye and a knack for finding the snitch; always taking the shortest route possible without so much as a second thought. He had an instinctual way of playing Quidditch that was simply awe-inspiring.

Ron appreciated Cedric’s presence more than he could put into words. Especially since Hermione — now with her parents in the muggle world — hadn’t been able to meet up with him and likely wouldn’t be until their inevitable trip to Diagon Alley. 

During those moments with Cedric, Ron had experienced a fleeting reprieve from everything that had encompassed the end of his first year, but Skeeter’s articles brought everything back into perspective.

Hell, even the few articles she hadn’t written about Neville hadn’t been at all pleasant. Most had slandered his father and his proposed Muggle Protection Act, whereas others had broken the news that Hagrid had been sent to Azkaban on a one-year sentence. Charlie — who worked with dragons in Romania — had actually said he’d gotten off remarkably easy and chalked it up to probable intervention on the part of Dumbledore.

“Mum,” Ron asked suddenly, an odd thought creeping up. 

“What is it, dear?” his mother answered in a clipped tone of voice. His brothers and sister were all looking at him like he was crazy for daring to speak to their mother whilst she was in this kind of mood, but he didn’t care.

“Can I, or we, or whatever, go to Neville’s funeral?” A heavy air filled the room. “I mean,” he continued, “he was one of my best mates at Hogwarts. It… it helped with Uncle Billius when I was a kid. I… thought it might help me deal with… you know.”

Molly’s expression softened. “I doubt it will be a public event, Ron, but I’ll mail Augusta Longbottom and see what she says. I… understand this must be hard on you, and I’m sorry you had to go through it.”

Ron felt himself encompassed in a tight hug and, unlike most times his mother seemed to try and squeeze all oxygen from his lungs, he didn’t protest nor attempt to pull away. This time, he actually felt as though he’d needed it.

July 22, 1992

No. 4 Privet Drive 

11:14 PM

Harry’s eyes shot open as he took a deep breath of air. 

Stale, dry air that had been trapped in his room for as long as he had.

Earlier that day had been the first time his door was opened for anything other than closely escorting him to the bathroom once or twice a day. It had been by his uncle, who had barged in and informed him that he, his wife, and his son would be leaving Privet Drive that night to attend a dinner party hosted by one of Vernon’s more important coworkers. They would likely be spending the night in a hotel and Harry wouldn’t be let out that evening to use the bathroom. 

Harry had just blankly nodded along at the time, hoping beyond hope that his suspicions about the plan he had been hatching for the past two-and-a-half weeks were correct and that it was going as well as he thought it was.

It all hinged on the wild idea Grindelwald had shared with him during that first dream vision. An idea that Harry had quickly warmed up and clasped onto like a drowning man might a raft when he realized it might well be his only option.

The Past

July 3, 1992

Nurmengard Prison

10:08 PM

Harry blinked at Grindelwald, hardly able to believe the man had solved his plight in a matter of seconds. “You know how to get me out?”

“I do. The solution is quite simple, from a conceptual perspective. In actuality, I am afraid its execution will be anything but — though I have no doubts you will manage. Look at it as an opportunity to prove your potential. Not to me, but to yourself; for I know you do not believe in your capabilities quite as highly as you should.”

Deciding whether or not he agreed with that statement would require more self-reflection than Harry was willing to do whilst preoccupied with trying to escape from his prison.

“What’s your idea, then?”

“Wandless magic.”

“Wand… what?”

Grindelwald smiled. “I am unsurprised you have never heard of it. Even in my time, Hogwarts was the most consistent school because its goal was to churn out as many productive magicians as possible. The problem with this approach is that it does not breed excellence, nor does it promote exceptionalism. Durmstrang was quite the opposite. It is unreasonably demanding and produces outstanding witches and wizards.”

Harry frowned. “Durmstrang is another school, then?”

“It is indeed. The one I attended, as a matter of fact.”

“So it’s better than Hogwarts?” Harry had been told by no small number of people that Hogwarts was the best school in the world.

Grindelwald gave a noncommittal gesture. “Who is to say? Better is an abstract term that can be applied in many ways. I believe it is better suited for exceptional magicians who wish to reach their full potential, but many students fail out of Durmstrang each year. Many more than the numbers who drop from Hogwarts each decade. Whether that is better or worse is really a matter of perspective.”

“Right,” said Harry, “so wandless magic, I think you called it?”

“Yes, I was saying how I am unsurprised you have never heard of it. I doubt they will ever mention it at Hogwarts, let alone teach it. Not when their penchant is to produce competence rather than excellence. Wandless magic is as simple as it sounds, yet infinitely more complex. It is the name given to any feat of magic performed without the use of one’s wand.”

“How is that complicated?”

“It is complicated because to actually use it, one must gain a true mastery of the spell they wish to cast with. Only then can they have the ability to cast it wandlessly and even then, many could never dream of attaining the ability.”

“What if I don’t have the spell mastered?”

Grindelwald raised an aged brow. “Do you not?”

“Well… I have no trouble with the spell—”

“You will have no trouble then.”

“But, I haven’t used it much—”

“That matters not. Not all magicians are rabble who must slave away for hours over the simplest of spells. For some of us, magic is our gift. It flows more naturally and seems to bend to our whims. I was one of these lucky few blessed with such a magnificent gift and so are you. You have also been casting with a wand for only a year, which will make things much simpler. Fear not, Harry Potter. I see no reason why you can’t be free of your prison by the month’s end.”

Back in the present…

Grindelwald explained the general theory of how magic was cast, which was something Harry had never learned before. 

Magic wasn’t within a person; it was a force all around them. What separated witches and wizards from muggles was that they had the ability to draw that magic in and project it back out in order to yield desired effects. They were, in essence, conductors. Some of them just so happened to be better conductors than others, which was how one wizard might be more ‘powerful’ than another.

Grindelwald had warned Harry not to put too much stock in this. Power was far from everything, according to him. He said he would give Harry that lecture another day if the boy wanted it, but only after he was free. The long and the short of it, he had said, was that power did not define a wizard. It perhaps indicated their potential, but nothing more than that. It was actually one of the less important factors for most wizards, according to the former dark lord. If he was to be believed, it hardly even ever mattered unless the wizard in question was truly exceptional and had mastered most other elements of magic.

At that point, he seemed to indicate that it mattered a great deal more.

Wands were apparently used because they made conducting magic much easier. Witches and wizards could just get greater effects from less magic with a wand, which was why all British wizards — along with most others around the world — received one at the age of eleven. 

The only downside to this, according to Grindelwald, was that the longer one used an implement, the more reliant they became upon it; which was why he had said Harry only having one for a year might make things easier.

Not that they had been easy.

Casting a spell without a wand, as it turned out, was the single-most difficult thing Harry had ever done.

The concentration required was of a level Harry could barely comprehend. He had to understand everything about the spell — even things like it’s Arithmetic equation, and hadn’t that been an interesting thing for Grindelwald to explain to a child who had barely even heard of Arithmancy. 

Just knowing everything about it wasn’t enough though.

It all had to become automatic and conjoin with intent so clear that Harry still hadn’t managed it, weeks later.

But he was close.

He had known for about a week he was close, but yesterday had been by far the most tantalizing attempt. He had actually felt the lock shift, though just not enough.

Somehow, he knew tonight was the night.

It just all aligned too perfectly to be anything other than the case. The Dursleys were gone and Harry was sure he could do it.

He crossed the room and placed his hand on the doorknob, focusing harder than he had ever focused before. 

His first six attempts failed — which resulted in him standing there for some time — but on the seventh, the lock finally clicked after nearly three weeks of waiting.

Harry’s face split into an ear-to-ear grin as he practically sprinted out of his room, down the stairs, and unlocked his old resting place, pulling from it his trunk, wand, and all other magical items he owned. This door had been easier. Harry had heard of the placebo effect before and he wondered whether or not it had any impact on magic. Perhaps now that he knew he was capable of performing the spell, it would become less difficult.

Harry already had a plan. 

He heard of the Knight Bus from his pureblooded friends, and Lucius had told him at the train station, in no uncertain terms, that Harry was welcome at Malfoy Manor whenever his relatives allowed. 

What he hadn’t planned for was the owl, carrying with it an official warning from the Ministry of Magic not to use magic outside of school again. 

At first, Harry had thought it to be a note of expulsion and he had almost dropped dead from heart failure. When he realized it was only a warning, he had breathed a deep sigh of relief. 

Better to be warned for breaking a relatively minor law than to be trapped in a room by people who weren’t fit to clean his wand. 

Some time later, at Malfoy Manor…

Harry had walked out onto the street and stuck out his wand arm, as he had been told that would summon the bus.

It did, though Harry had been unprepared for the speed of its arrival and the accompanying BANG had jolted Harry so badly he’d ended up on his rear end.

After a pimply teen not too many years older than Harry had asked him what he had fallen over for, he had been let on the bus after lying that his name was Justin Finch-Fletchley as opposed to Harry Potter. He didn’t want the attention and thought a posh-sounding muggleborn name would do best. 

Not long later, he was getting off at the start of a long drive, lined by towering hedges which gave the whole thing a dark feel. Far ahead, he could see massive, wrought iron gates that were mercifully left open. Harry briefly wondered why on earth they would be left open and intended on immediately informing Lord Malfoy of the security risks that posed. 

Then, he remembered that wards existed and he had become rather sheepish and just hoped they would allow him through, since the Malfoys had extended an invitation. He had no idea whether or not wards could work that way.

He was alone in the dark and out in the middle of nowhere. He felt as though some sort of creature would appear from the shadows and strike at any moment. It was odd and irrational, but Harry didn’t consider it at the time. 

He just slid on his invisibility cloak and trudged his way towards the manor’s front entrance, as the cloak was the thing at Hogwarts that had made him feel most safe.

He was so caught up in worry whether the Malfoys may be upset by his late-night arrival that he completely disregarded the odd fact that, as soon as he threw on the cloak, all fear washed completely away.

Minutes later…

Lucius had been doing work in his study when he had been alerted that the front door of the manor had opened.

His blood had run cold.

The wards hadn’t alerted him to anyone’s arrival and both Narcissa and Draco were asleep in their rooms. 

He could only think of one man who might have the desire to enter his home and the capabilities of doing so in this manner. 

It made an odd sort of sense, since the man had allegedly written to him not all that long ago.

Yet he did not find that man in the entrance hall of his home.

Instead, he found a young boy with raven hair and bright green eyes dragging a trunk that looked much too heavy for him and carrying something oddly silver under his arm.

“Mister Potter?” he asked, so taken aback he forgot all about the title of heir. 

The boy had been apologetic and had even seemed terrified Lucius would be upset, but the man wasn’t upset at all.

Draco had complained to no end about how the Potter boy hadn’t been responding to his letters and Lucius had become worried the muggles may not have followed his orders. He had actually begun making inquiries at the Ministry in an effort to find where Potter lived. It was apparently one of the most heavily-guarded secrets in the wizarding world judging by how difficult it was to get an answer.

Yet here the boy was in his home, which had been the plan all along. 

All Lucius could wonder, as he sent the boy up to one of the many spare rooms to sleep for the night, was how in the name of Merlin he had breached his wards — seemingly without a second thought. 

As concerning as it was, Lucius supposed it was but one more reason to stick to the plan.

Author’s Endnote:

I didn’t want to drag out the Dursley stuff for too long, so I’m happy to be done with it. There will probably be three or so more chapters of the summer, and then they will be back at Hogwarts.

Please read and review.

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