Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity
Year 2: The Advancing of Shadows
Chapter 4: Promises and Progress
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, Regress, Raven, and Yoshi89 for their incredible work on this story.
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July 30, 1992
Raindrops fell fast, beating against the ground like hurried footsteps and assaulting all under the vengeful clouds like liquified bullets. The sky was a gloomy grey colour, not even dark enough to bring with it the promise of a storm; simply dull and lifeless. The air was thick and full of moisture, bringing with it the swarms of bugs who were attracted to such things.
None of this mattered to the lone figure stood atop a lush green hill, peering down at the spot where his former friend now laid.
The Weasley family in its entirety had attended the funeral of Neville Longbottom. The affairs had recently concluded, but the youngest male in the contingent had asked for a moment alone.
He stood atop this hill, under a large oak tree, and peered down at the spot where the casket containing his friend was now buried by fresh, moisture-soaked earth. The grass all around his feet was wet and he could feel water seeping through his battered shoes and soaking his knitted socks, but he cared for none of it.
His attention was entirely on the ground and all the implications that were attached to the sight.
He had mostly managed to distract himself for the better part of the last month, largely with the help of Cedric and his older brothers, who had been uncharacteristically understanding — even though they knew nothing of the circumstances which had truly led to Neville’s death.
Seeing the casket lowered into the earth had brought back all the worst feelings he had experienced and all of the terrible sensations he had just barely managed to keep at bay for so long.
It was overwhelming. He felt as though a weight had been forcefully shoved down his throat. It had constricted his breathing on the way down and was now compressing his chest in all sorts of painful ways that he couldn’t describe. Even that failed to account for the horrible pangs in his stomach, like someone was ringing a gong of despair deep within his innards, but it was the best analogy he had.
It was all far too much.
He couldn’t cope with this, and for the first time in weeks he felt tears sting his eyes. He didn’t raise his hand to wipe them away as he might have normally. He instead allowed them to flow freely down his cheeks, adding to the cascade of water drenching the ground all around him.
His shoulders began to shake as the tears came faster. Ron didn’t know when he had ended up on all fours, but he supposed his legs must have given out. Not all that surprising given how much they had been shaking. He fought the urge to curl in on himself as deep, wracking sobs tore at every inch of his being.
There were people around him now, and their voices came to him as if from far away. Voices he recognized as his mother’s and sister’s were the most prominent, but he could hear others, too. Hands gripped him and slowly pulled him to his feet. His vision was blurred by tears, but he could make out the somber visages of his twin brothers, who had been the ones to pull him upright.
“It’s gonna be alright, Ron,” one of them said, sounding more sincere than he’d ever heard as they pulled him into a tight embrace.
The other joined in, patting him on the back as his entire family converged upon him. Ron just let his body fall against the wall of flesh, trusting them to hold him upright for his legs could no longer perform the task.
He hated this feeling.
It was worse than any he had ever felt before. Clear thought was not a luxury he was enjoying at that time, only one declaration screamed to him, echoing and reverberating off of every inch of his skull; seeming to pierce not just his ears, but his very brain.
He would do everything he could to ensure he never felt this way again.
For both his sake, and that of those like Neville, who deserved much better than they had gotten.
He had to be better.
Somewhere in the distance, in a vast field near the towering gate which marked the edge of the Longbottom’s property, a shorter figure stood. He watched the huddling figures standing atop the hill with an oddly blank expression. If one looked into his eyes, they would be shocked by what they saw. They carried no hint of emotion, but complete and total emptiness, as though all light behind them had been extinguished.
“Knut for your thoughts, Harry?”
The boy stiffened and slowly turned, pushing aside a great deal of hair that had become stuck to his forehead thanks to the rain, and met the gaze of a man who he had not expected to see.
The man was dressed in plain black robes for the occasion, which somehow looked more strange on him than his usual, flamboyant style. His eyes were less vivid than usual. Perhaps it was just Harry’s imagination, or perhaps it was the water making his half-moon spectacles appear less transparent. It was impossible to be sure.
“I thought it only right to come and pay my respects,” said the old wizard. “Especially as I feel most personally responsible for the travesty we all presently grieve over.”
His eyes looked past Harry and up to the top of the hill, where the Weasleys were now gently guiding a very distraught Ron away.
“A very powerful thing, death. Perhaps not quite equal to the force of love, but it touches many just as deeply. Like its counterpart, it is as terrible as it is beautiful.” Dumbledore sighed. “In this case, I fear it is firmly and completely the former. Let us hope that those like young Ronald Weasley keep their eyes on the light and make the best of what they feel, for there is always hope, even in the darkest of times.”
Dumbledore turned back to look at Harry. “I must confess, I had not expected to see you at this gathering. Please do not take this as a lack of enthusiasm to see you, I just find myself surprised, is all. Between the two of us, it is an occurrence which doesn’t happen all that often.” Harry shuffled uncomfortably, painfully aware of how the headmaster had been the one who’d asked him to return to Privet Drive. “Might I assume that you are no longer residing at your aunt and uncle’s?”
“I’m not, sir.”
“May I ask why?”
“They… didn’t treat me well, sir.”
Dumbledore’s face fell. “It pains me to hear; the bond of family is a beautiful thing that should not be treated with such carelessness. I do hope you will consider returning to them next summer with extra precautions in place, but I will not press the matter. They are your legal guardians, but I will not condone their mistreatment of you. Perhaps in time, you will trust me enough to explain what it is that has happened.”
Dumbledore studied him very closely. “How are you holding up, my dear boy? I have no doubt it has been a trying month for you.”
“I’m… alright, sir. It was… a really hard week or two, but I had a lot of time to think about things. I… actually wasn’t sure I would come here. I didn’t really know Neville. What happened to him is awful, but I kind of just saw it. I wish I hadn’t, but I’m sort of… numb to it now.”
“A perfectly understandable reaction. You saw something so horrible I would never wish it upon anyone, regardless of their age. It is not at all surprising that you have had some difficulties processing everything. I know it must be difficult, especially since the circumstances of such a thing aren’t ones you can speak of with any who have not been made privy to them. If you ever have need, I am always happy to take letters from the likes of you. Or, of course, speak more directly once school is back in session.”
“Thank you, sir. It… means a lot, since I know you’re so busy.”
“Think nothing of it, Harry. An old man will always find the time for those who will succeed him.” He checked the watch on his wrist. “Speaking of time, I am afraid it is making a fool of me once again. It was a pleasure seeing you and I apologize once more for all you have been through at such a young age. I look forward to our time together this year, but for now, I must be off.”
Harry watched with the same blank numbness and ignored the way water streamed from the mop of hair over his face and glasses as Dumbledore stepped off the property and disappeared in a swirl of robes.
That night, at Malfoy Manor…
The day had been sombre, even though Harry was the only one in the Malfoy home truly affected by Neville’s passing. It had been Narcissa and Mr. Malfoy who had encouraged Harry to attend the funeral. Narcissa had said it might help him cope with such things, while Lucius had said it would be best for his public image if he were seen at such a gathering. Harry had been more than a little bit reluctant, but he had eventually acquiesced.
He found himself in an odd headspace by the time he returned to the manor that evening. After dinner, he retreated to his room, burying himself deep in the compendium on duelling and not looking up until a soft knock on his door jolted him hours later.
The door opened silently and Harry found himself surprised by who it had admitted.
He had been expecting Draco or even Diana. The form of their mother surprised him and the look she levelled him with froze him in place.
“I have told you, Harry, to call me Narcissa. My husband might insist on formality to keep his image intact, but we are family.”
“Sorry,” Harry mumbled, casting his eyes around the room and away from the woman’s face as he tried not to blush.
She waved a hand. “I didn’t come and find you to talk about silly things like names and formalities.” Harry adjusted his gaze to rest upon her once more, asking a voiceless question with his stare alone. “I came to check on you, Harry. How are you feeling?” When he looked confused, she sighed. “I know the Longbottom boy’s death has bothered you more than you’ve let on. Your nonchalance might fool Draco, but it hasn’t fooled any of the rest of us.”
Harry actually did blush this time, but he got it under control in short order. “I’m okay. I… didn’t really know him. It was just… a surprise, is all. I’ve heard our families were allies for a long time.”
That part was actually true. He had read up more on the Longbottoms after Neville’s passing and it was indeed true that their two families had fought alongside one another in many of the most harrowing wars Europe had seen over the centuries. The fact also made for a good cover story in situations like this one.
“You don’t need to know someone for death to affect you,” Narcissa said knowingly. “It’s a very scary thing for all of us, especially for someone your age. Have you ever experienced it before?” She looked pained. “Disregarding your parents, of course, since you were too young to really understand when it happened.”
He shook his head. No one he had known had died while he’d been living with the Dursleys. None of their closely related family had either, as far as he knew. The closest thing he had come to gaining experience with death was the old cat lady, Mrs. Figg, telling him about how some of her pets had passed away over the years.
“It isn’t something you can understand until it happens. It’s a thing all of its own. I just want to make sure you’re doing alright, because plenty of people your age don’t handle it well.”
“I’m doing okay, I think. It’s just… weird. It still sometimes doesn’t feel real, like today at the funeral.” He frowned. “Can I ask you something? It’s a bit… I don’t know how to explain it. It’s something that’s been bothering me.”
“Of course, dear.”
“And… you won’t judge me for it? Or tell anyone else?”
“There is nothing you could tell me that would make me think less of you and I won’t tell a soul unless you ask me to. Not even Lucius.”
He took a deep breath. “Does it… make me a bad person if I just felt… numb while looking at his grave?”
Narcissa watched him very closely. “It doesn’t make you a bad person, Harry, it just means you don’t live and die by emotions. People react differently to situations. You won’t react like Draco to the same situation, and he won’t react the same way as Diana. People are complicated and we’re all different. If anything, I would think that’s a good sign. You said you didn’t know him, so it’s not an unreasonable reaction. It might just be that you’re starting to come to terms with the concept.”
That made a degree of sense and Harry was sure she was in some ways correct.
Of course, she also didn’t know how Neville Longbottom had really died, nor what about his passing had truly been plaguing him, but those feelings were passing. Ever since his arrival at Malfoy Manor, he had begun to feel better. Whether shrugging off something so horrible made him just as bad, he sometimes questioned.
The next day…
The oddest part of Harry’s stay at Malfoy Manor came that next day. He had hardly even remembered it was his birthday, he had become so conditioned to treating it as just another day that the idea of celebrating it seemed unnatural.
Harry’s routine at Malfoy Manor was similar to his routine at Hogwarts. He would rise early and make his way down to the library, then read about duelling, or Charms, or Transfiguration, or any number of things. A house elf would usually appear in the room and announce the family was having breakfast, at which point Harry would retreat to the dining room and join them.
When he did this last part on the morning of July 31st, he was assaulted by a wall of noise as soon as he entered the room. Draco, Pansy, Crabbe, Goyle, Theodore, Cassius, Cassandra, and Diana were all present; along with both Lucius and Narcissa. A heaping breakfast had been spread out before them, and Harry suddenly realized why Narcissa had been subtly probing him about his culinary preferences since his arrival.
After breakfast, they went out to the grounds. Those interested played Quidditch while those below simply enjoyed the company of the others. It was not unlike the second day Harry had been at the manor.
The unusual parts for Harry came after they had spent most of the late morning and early afternoon outside.
Dinner was served not in the dining hall, but in a large ballroom. The day hadn’t turned into a formal gathering by any means, but there were a number of people there for dinner who Harry had never met. Lords Nott, Crabbe, and Goyle were all present, as were both Lord and Lady Parkinson. There were a few other families present, as well, but only one other man really caught Harry’s attention.
“Harry,” introduced Narcissa, “I’d like you to meet somebody who you ought to have known for years if things were… different. This is Regulus Black, Lord of the Founding House of Black.”
The man was of average height and had a slight, athletic build. His features were sharp and aristocratic and he seemed to have a perpetually haughty look about him. His grey eyes were darker than either Draco’s or Lucius’s and they had a searching quality about them. The image was topped off by straight black hair that fell to his shoulders and a short, well-kept beard of the same colour.
“It’s good to finally meet you, Lord Black.”
“A pleasure, Harry. I hope you won’t mind me cutting the formalities; I’ve spent most of my life using them, so it’s always refreshing to talk like normal people. Please call me Regulus, while we’re at it. Lord Black was my grandfather, and it’s always odd to me hearing that title.”
This wasn’t what Harry had expected from Lord Black. He was most definitely articulate and he carried himself well, but he expected someone more like Mr. Malfoy. A clean, composed politician who stuck to formalities at all times and never let that mask slip.
“Um… yes, s—I mean, Regulus.”
“I’ve heard your Hogwarts grades were nothing short of excellent,” said Regulus. “Any subjects you favour?”
“My favourite is Defence Against the Dark Arts. I’m also probably best at it; that or Transfiguration.”
“I was always partial to Defence. It was my best class by a mile and I found it the most interesting. I’m not surprised by Transfiguration being a favourite of yours, though. Your father was a genius with it and your whole family is notable in the subject.” His face darkened. “So is mine, actually. It was probably my brother’s best class at school.”
“In Azkaban, yes.”
Harry had heard of Sirius Black. He had murdered about a dozen muggles and a wizard named Peter Pettigrew the day after Voldemort’s defeat and been sentenced to life in Azkaban. He had come up in The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts.
“Sorry if I brought up any bad memories.”
Regulus waved an airy hand. “Not your fault; I’m the one who broached the subject. Any thoughts on duelling?”
Harry and Regulus spent quite some time talking about duelling and defensive magic in general. Harry was thoroughly outclassed in the discussion, seeing as he was only a second year, but he sat back and absorbed all he could. Regulus had a sort of natural charisma about him that just put people at ease. Where Lucius was intimidating, Regulus was the opposite — though Harry had no doubt that the lord of a family like the Blacks could be fearsome if the occasion called for it.
Judging by his vast knowledge of defensive and combat-focused magics, it would be a natural transition. Apparently, Regulus used to duel in organized competitions around the time of his Hogwarts graduation. He was the adult who Harry spoke with most that night, and Harry couldn’t help but take a natural sort of liking to the man.
Soon enough, gifts were being torn open, which was the oddest part of the whole day for Harry. Most of the presents were tokenry, but a few were interesting.
Draco had bought him a book on Quidditch tactics, likely knowing he would try out for the Slytherin team. Diana — who had seen Harry perusing the book on duelling — had bought him one on curses. Some of them looked… questionable, but he wasn’t complaining.
Lucius and Narcissa had bought him a number of things; among them were stunning dress robes, a number of books, and a large voucher for Flourish and Blotts. Mr. Malfoy also told Harry that when they travelled to Diagon Alley, he would buy Harry a gift of his choosing. Draco had looked oddly miffed about that, but Harry had thanked the man profusely, hardly able to believe his words. It was like how Dudley had been treated by Vernon and Petunia, and Harry suddenly realized exactly why Dudley had been content to go along with all of it. It was a rather nice feeling.
His favourite gifts of the lot came from the Yaxleys and Regulus. Cassandra and her father, Lord Corban Yaxley, had bought Harry a wand holster. Well… he wasn’t actually sure they had bought it. He wasn’t positive as to their legality, which was something Lord Yaxley — who worked for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement — cleared up.
“Quick-draw holsters like this are the top-of-the-line. They’re perfectly legal to own and use… they’re just not legal to buy.”
How he had gotten his hands on one, Harry didn’t ask. He didn’t want to know, but he thought this might be his most useful gift — though the one from Regulus had been impressive as well.
It was a silver chain with a tiny stamp of the crest of house Black on the clasp. Harry wondered whether or not he could remove Grindelwald’s pendant from his other chain and transfer it over to this one. It would make things more practical, at the very least. Beyond its sleek, aesthetically pleasing appeal, it also had very practical usage.
“So long as you’re wearing it, it will detect any poisons before you drink,” said Regulus. “It’s never been known to be wrong and it’s not stingy about what it classifies as a poison. If it can cause you harm, the chain will warn you.”
By the time Harry laid his head down upon his plush pillow that night, he could do little more than reflect about how his life had changed so drastically in the course of a year. All because of one letter and largely due to a fated meeting in a robes shop.
It was funny how things like that played out.
August 2, 1992
Harry made his way down to the dining room earlier than usual the Sunday after his twelfth birthday. He usually waited for a full family breakfast, but such things almost never happened on Sundays, from what he could tell. It was the day the Wizengamot met every week, so Mr. Malfoy always had to leave without time for things like family meals.
Harry had been told from the day he’d arrived at the manor to just call for an elf named Dobby if he needed or wanted anything. He had, thus far, abstained as the elf gave him odd vibes. It was typically rare they saw the elves at all, but Dobby was an exception. The creature was hard to mistake, what with his bulging, tennis ball-like eyes. Harry had caught the creature watching him from around corners on more than one occasion. He had considered telling Mr. Malfoy but he really didn’t care enough to cause a fuss.
This morning though, he decided to call upon Dobby for the first time. The elf appeared instantly but looked extremely skittish. He wouldn’t meet Harry’s eyes and he was practically bouncing with nervous energy. When Harry made his request for an early breakfast, the elf popped away at once, and Harry found breakfast was served only a few minutes later.
He propped up both the compendium on duelling from the Malfoy family library, as well as the book on curses Diana had gifted him just days earlier and read as he ate.
“Are you interested in duelling?”
The cool voice came from the room’s entrance not terribly long after Harry had started eating. He looked up, startled, but it was only Mr. Malfoy. He was bedecked in his plum, Wizengamot robes and was obviously on his way to a meeting. He probably planned to use the floo; the closest fireplace was through the dining room and down the next corridor.
“I’m interested in Defence Against the Dark Arts and magic in general, really, but yeah. It… sort of came to my mind after we talked about the older Slytherins.”
“It’s a perfectly wise pursuit,” the man complimented. “Have you tried any of the spells you’ve read about?”
“A few, yeah.”
“Have you had trouble with any of them?” Harry shook his head. Mr. Malfoy studied him very closely. “Would you like to learn to duel? Really learn to duel, I mean. Learn from those who are skilled in the art?”
“That would be cool, yeah. I like learning about magic in general, like I said, but duelling would be a useful thing to get good at.”
Mr. Malfoy’s expression became a touch more stern. “If I arranged for this to happen, could I be sure you would be one hundred percent committed to doing your absolute best to improve?”
Harry’s eyes widened but he nodded hastily. “Of course, sir.”
The man nodded. “Consider it done then. I believe you met Corban Yaxley on the night of your birthday?” Harry nodded again. “His family is well-known for being highly proficient duellists. I will get into contact with him. I am sure either he or his daughter will be adequate.”
Harry raised his eyebrows; Cassie was one of the pretty, popular girls in Slytherin. She hadn’t struck Harry as a master duellist.
“Is Cassie actually that good, sir?”
Mr. Malfoy’s lips twitched upwards. “It is no coincidence she was made a prefect this year. She has posted some of the highest Defence Against the Dark Arts grades that school has seen in quite some time. At present, she would easily best most fully grown witches or wizards, though she would struggle against some of the more skilled in the art of combat. By the time she graduates, I doubt many in the country would want to cross wands with her.”
From Mr. Malfoy of all people, that was extremely high praise.
“Thank you, sir,” said Harry. “I… really appreciate everything you’ve done for me.”
The man smiled. “Think nothing of it, Harry. For all the wrong our world seems to have done you, it is only right someone atones for it. I also happen to find you a very pleasant young man whom I think will go far in time. Now, if you will excuse me, I must be off.”
That night, at the Burrow…
A door slid quietly open on the top floor of the Burrow and a tall, gangly boy stepped outside. He wasn’t the most fleet-footed individual, but he did do his best to creep along quietly; taking particular care to avoid stepping on the number of creaky stairs as he made his way down to the home’s ground floor. Both of his parents were snoring away and were each heavy sleepers, but Ron didn’t want to take the chance.
Once he had gotten downstairs, he quietly snuck out the back door and stepped out onto the property, making his way towards a bit of land just off of the orchard that wasn’t easily spotted from any of the Burrow’s windows.
He had vowed to get better the day of Neville’s funeral, and it was a vow he had planned to keep. He had actually approached Percy for help for what might have been the first time in living memory. He had done his best to subtly inquire about the Trace and had, to his mild fury, learned that the ministry couldn’t possibly know if he had cast magic while at the Burrow. His parents had never explained this and it didn’t take a genius to know why. They would absolutely not have allowed any of their children to practice magic out of school, but Ron was about to take that decision out of their hands.
Percy had begun to grow suspicious near the end of their discussion, so Ron had instead probed him about good books for learning defensive magic. This had surprised his elder brother so much that he had appeared to forget that he was suspicious and had even let Ron borrow a number of books from his personal selection; though he did make his younger brother promise to handle them with great care.
On his way outside, Ron nearly bumped into another figure. He drew his wand hastily but froze at the sight of who it was, absolutely dumbstruck.
“Shh!” she hissed, glancing all around to make sure they were alone. “Shut up, you dolt; you’ll get the both of us caught.”
“What the hell are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same thing.”
They glared at one another. “Fine,” said Ron, “I’ll tell you what I’m doing if you tell me what you’re doing.”
Ginny hesitated, but nodded. “Only if you go first.”
Ron rolled his eyes and muttered something about kid sisters. “I’m sneaking out to practice magic.”
Ginny’s eyes widened. “Won’t you be caught?”
“Nah, apparently the Trace only tells them where magic’s been cast.”
Ginny looked thunderous. “So Mum and Dad have lied to us this whole time!”
“Uh… not really,” Ron said, shifting uncomfortably. “They never lied, they just didn’t tell us. I just don’t think they want us practicing. Makes it a bit easier for them if we don’t know we can practice in the first place.”
Ginny huffed, but Ron was looking at her expectantly, so she sighed. “If you must know, I’ve been sneaking out and stealing the twins’ brooms to practice flying, since Mum never lets me fly with you guys.”
Ron’s mouth fell open. “You’ve been stealing—”
“Yes, Ron! That’s what I just said!”
The two of them stared at one another. Then, Ron’s face split into a wide grin. “Nice going, Gin,” he said, raising his hand for a fist bump. His sister’s eyes had widened with surprise, but she reciprocated. “That’s clever; didn’t think you had it in you.”
Despite herself, Ginny smiled. “Thanks, Ron. I’m… uh, gonna go in and sleep now. Good luck with your practice.”
Ron’s focus reaffirmed as the two of them parted ways and thoughts of Neville and his own failure resurfaced. Still, it had been an interesting night and he would never quite be able to look at his not-so-innocent little sister the same way again.
Just in case it reads like the contrary is true, I am absolutely not going to bash Molly or Arthur. Molly is an overbearing mother, which is why she won’t let her kids practice magic. This isn’t bashing, as it is basically just her canon character and I have no plans of hyperbolizing the fact. It does not make her a bad person or even a bad mother. She has no ulterior motives and is just trying to keep her kids safe.
I just wanted to clear that up right here in case anyone got worried over it.
One more chapter left of summer; then, they’re off to Hogwarts.
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