PoP 29

Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity

Year 2: The Advancing of Shadows

Chapter 16: Poisonous Peers

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

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November 28, 1992

Severus Snape’s Office

10:24 PM

Snape’s office was as dark and ominous as Harry remembered. The low, ghostly light of the place contrasted sinisterly with the floating jars and vials of things Harry didn’t even have names for. Some of the things gleamed in whatever liquids they were drenched in whilst others practically dripped with thick and colourful slime. 

Harry was focusing on none of this. He had eyes only for the man sitting across the desk from him. Snape had been watching him from the moment he had stepped across his threshold and his eyes had not left Harry since. It made the youth uneasy. He wanted to fidget, but he resisted the urge. Snape was exactly the kind of man who would take such movements for guilt or weakness. The last thing Harry wanted was to be falsely accused of something he had never done. If anyone in the castle was likely to do that, it was probably his own Head of House. The irony of the fact was not lost on him, but he took amusement in the sick truth of his situation.

“My my, Potter, you have found yourself in quite the predicament, haven’t you?”

A year ago, Harry thought he might have spouted off about how he had never done it and where he had been during the attack. He would have reeled off how much he liked Tracey and how he had no wish to see her hurt. A year ago, he might have made a blustering idiot of himself, but not now. Snape would ask for only what he wanted to hear. Giving more than that would make Harry seem desperate, so he resisted the urge to spew forth every single thought that flitted chaotically across his mind.

“Yes, sir,” he answered instead. 

“Why is it you were unaccounted for during the window of time the attack might have been carried out, Potter?”

“I was practicing, sir.”

“Practicing what?”

“Practicing duelling, sir.”

Snape’s expression did not shift, but Harry could sense a change in him. “And why does the infamous defeater of the Dark Lord believe he needs to learn to duel?”

Because said Dark Lord wasn’t dead? Because half of the house would love to see him made a fool of in front of the entire school? Because he had seen three corpses in the past year, not counting poor Wylla Nurmen via Grindelwald’s visions? He could tell almost none of this to Snape. Dumbledore had made him swear back in the hospital wing that the secret of Voldemort’s return needed to be kept between the two of them. As for Grindelwald… that was an entirely different situation that troubled him more at this point than Britain’s own Dark Lord or even the fate of Neville Longbottom. The way he felt while watching some of those memories… it scared him. The last thing he wanted was for a man like Snape to glean any of the reasons why it troubled him so much. Best if he had no notion about any of that.

“It’s my housemates, Professor,” he decided to answer. “Ever since my argument with Draco, a lot of the purebloods in upper years have been hexing me in the hallways and the common room.”

“Can anyone attest to this, Potter?” asked Snape. “Or am I to believe the son of a man who would tell his professors the world was ending if it meant it won him a moment of their attention?”

Harry felt a blush threaten to rise, but he tried hard to fight it down. Something about that comment had cut him and he could not explain why. He should have no connection to his father, yet the remark had hit home. He knew little of the man beyond his aptitude in Transfiguration and that he had fought against Voldemort. Narcissa was slowly revealing tidbits about the man over her letters, but they had begun coming not long ago. Harry had no idea whether the insinuations Snape was hurling at his father were true. He hoped not, but he did not dare to speak up. Both because he feared the validity of his doubts and because of all the professors at Hogwarts, Snape was the one he wanted to anger least at the moment.

“I don’t want attention, sir.” Harry forced himself to look at Snape as he made his voice come out as polite as he could possibly manage. “I want the opposite. I wish they would leave me alone. They won’t listen to me, though, so I want to learn to duel.”

Snape watched him intently. Harry sensed that the man was looking for any reason to doubt him or trying to find an opening to cast aspersions, but evidently, he could find none. 

“Very well. Can anyone’s word prove that you were indeed where you claimed to be tonight?”

“Cassandra Yaxley, sir. She’s been helping me practice.”

Harry thought he saw surprise flash in Snape’s eyes, but it was gone so fast he was sure he’d imagined it. The Potions Master had always been as impassive as a hundred foot wall of solid stone.

“I will be speaking with Miss Yaxley next. We shall see if her word supports your tale.” He leant forward and now his eyes seemed to be doing their best to burn a hole straight through Harry’s face. “Can you think of anyone who would have liked to see Miss Davis petrified, Potter?”

He couldn’t, actually. If Travers had known that Daphne was the one who had poisoned him, then maybe. Perhaps he might have thought the Greengrass heiress too risky a target and settled for her halfblood friend. That would have made sense but Travers had not left the care of Madam Pomfrey. They had considered sending the boy to St. Mungo’s, but the school’s matron had been confident she would be able to see that the boy returned to full health

Harry doubted Travers had orchestrated the attack from a hospital bed and he had no way of knowing that Daphne had been behind his own recent bout of trouble. Beyond that… Tracey was a halfblood, so there were doubtlessly some hostile upper years, but most of them largely ignored halfbloods as a general rule. They would sneer at them, or shove them out of the way, or the like, but rarely would they truly scorn them. Harry was an exception — not every halfblood had been the downfall of a man whom many of their parents had once sworn fealty to. Maybe if Tracey was a muggleborn then they may have had the desire, but outside of that.

He bit his lip as he remembered the way the house had been so willing to let Weasley take the blame. “Not specifically, sir.”

Snape’s eyes narrowed. “Explain.”

“Well… I don’t know why anyone might have attacked Tracey specifically. If it’s a Slytherin behind the attacks though… well, attacking another Slytherin might pin the blame on another house.”

“A… very well-reasoned hypothesis,” Snape said after a time. “Do you have any other brilliant suggestions to narrow down the field of suspects?” Harry shook his head. “Very well,” said Snape. Harry expected to be dismissed, but Snape did not immediately grant him leave. “I am aware that you were present the night Neville Longbottom met his demise.” Harry felt as though somebody had injected icy water straight into his veins. It seemed to flow through him and cool his blood by twenty degrees. “Do calm down,” Snape continued, “I have no intention of spreading the fact to the public.” He sneered. “If you fear my suspicion, I think your involvement in Longbottom’s death about as likely as your involvement in this fiasco. Which, for your information, I deem to be about as possible as either of your parents rising up from their graves.”

“Then why are you questioning me, sir.” Harry wasn’t sure what made him ask the question. It was bold and probably foolish, but it sprang to his tongue and he could not help but part his lips and allow it to flow free.

Snape’s lip curled. “Because as much as I often despise the fact, my job description necessitates I do more than brew potions in this dungeon and pretend that the insufferable occupants of this castle do not exist.” The man’s expression hardened. “If you plan to ask why I am making a point of informing you of all I know, it is because I wish to warn you, Potter. Rushing head-long into every situation will get you killed much faster than your hair-brained father.” There was a pause during which Snape seemed to wait for a reaction, but Harry did not grant him one. “And putting yourself into situations which make it look as though you have done so may see you on the wrong side of a prison cell door faster than your good-for-nothing godfather.”

November 29, 1992

A Balcony Overlooking the Hogwarts Grounds

4:34 PM

The past twenty-four hours had been the most trying of the year for Harry. He had dealt with the scorn of the Gryffindors ever since Colin Creevey had turned up petrified, but this was an entirely new level. News of his absence from the common room around the time of the attack on Tracey had somehow spread throughout the school. Harry wasn’t sure who exactly had snitched, but he supposed it didn’t really matter. There were a whole myriad of upper year students who would gladly have spread the news around in hopes that his life would become a living hell.

There was a significant portion of the school that had been skeptical of his involvement before Tracey went missing, but now, many of them seemed convinced that Harry’s innocence was a facade. He had already missed the days when he could walk through the corridors unaccosted, but he now found himself missing the days when the only spells flung towards him were ones without the intent to cause long-term harm.

It was all quite exhausting, and that was to say nothing of what was going on inside of Slytherin. Daphne had not spoken a word all day. The usually outgoing girl seemed to have drawn into herselfdrawn in. She had even been quiet all throughout classes. Harry had wanted to talk to her, but he had no idea how. He liked Tracey and was disappointed she had been attacked, but Daphne was much closer to her. Harry had never had a friend that close so he had no idea how it must feel. Blaise was as stoic as ever whilst Millicent and Lillian seemed to be in similar headspaces to Daphne.

Classes had just wrapped up and Harry had practically fled from the common room. The tense dynamic was driving making him mad and he needed some air after the day he had been having. He had dawned his invisibility cloak and slipped through the half unimpeded. It was a nice feeling to avoid the spells for the first time in weeks, though he had to move slowly. He couldn’t risk bumping into anyone — the cloak was the most useful tool he had in his admittedly limited arsenal. The last thing he wanted was for someone to discover he had the tool in the first place. That would only make it likely that the tool would become much less practical for him to use.

His feet carried him through a hidden passage and up a set of stairs concealed behind an ancient tapestry. He had put no thought into the matter, but he was standing atop the same balcony he had spoken with Diana several times. 

The already cloudy sky was growing darker far above. It seemed as though a dark cloud of grey was spreading outwards and consuming the light of the sky. Harry felt something wet run down his face and nearly jumped before he realized what it was. The first snowfall of the year had arrived in the Scottish highlands. The flakes fell slowly, but they were thick and seemed like a white veil as they fell. Harry knew that that next morning he would awake to at least a light dusting of snow painting the greens white, even if it didn’t last.

“I’ve always liked snow.”

Some time ago, Harry might have but he was becoming much more comfortable with other people and much harder to scare. “How is it we always seem to end up talking up here?” 

Diana laughed lightly as she stepped up beside him and peered down at the grounds sprawled out far below. “Because we’re both human beings who need breaks. It just so happens that we like to take them in the same place.”

Harry snorted. “It was either this or go and explore the castle.”

“You do that a lot, don’t you?”

He shrugged. “More the last few weeks, but yeah. It’s a hobby of mine.”

“I imagine that makes it easy.” Harry wondered what she meant for a moment before she gestured to the silvery cloak pooled at his feet. 

Oh… bollocks!

He had been so careful whilst moving through the halls only to allow the cloak to slide off of him and lay at his feet and in plain sight. He had become so distracted by the scenery that he had allowed his concentration to lapse. This was bad. He hadn’t even told Draco about the cloak during the peak of their friendship. He wanted to trust Diana — she seemed the most trustworthy person he had met so far in the magical world — but he was unsure if he could.

“The Malfoys might view you as a tool, but that doesn’t mean all of us do.”

Harry needed to get to the bottom of his situation with the Malfoys. He had decided by now that Lucius had probably been manipulating him and Draco and his relationship had deteriorated some time ago, but what of Diana and Narcissa? He wanted to trust both of them, but he wasn’t sure he could. It was something he needed to figure out at some point in the near future. Living with the uncertainty was not only massively inconvenient, it was also exceedingly stressful.

“Don’t worry,” said Diana, looking at him closely. Harry realized some of his inner conflict must have shown on his face. Diana had clearly interpreted it as him being worried about the cloak. She wasn’t wrong, he supposed, she was just less right than she suspected. “I won’t tell anyone about the cloak. This explains a lot, actually. How you seem to know the castle better than almost anyone I know, how you just slip away sometimes, how you manage to come back to the common room ages after curfew without being caught.” Her eyes drifted back down towards the cloak. “May I ask where you got it?”

“It was my father’s,” Harry answered. He supposed that there was really no point in lying now. If Diana knew he had it, it hardly mattered if she knew how he had acquired the cloak in the first place. He would leave about the bit about Dumbledore sending it to him, but the rest…

Diana was looking at him strangely. “It was… your father’s?” He nodded. “Harry… invisibility cloaks aren’t supposed—”

“Aren’t supposed to last for more than five or so years? Yeah, I know; I looked them up in the library ages ago.” He shrugged helplessly. “I don’t get it, either, but the cloak is perfect. It’s never not worked the way it’s supposed to.” 

Better than it was supposed to, maybe. He thought back to the way Voldemort had tried to detect him and failed until he had blown off Harry’s cloak with some sort of magical wind. Whether invisibility cloaks were supposed to prevent detection charms from working or not, Harry had no idea. If they weren’t… well, that only added to the mystery and it at least was one ace he could keep up his sleeve for a little bit longer. Or a lot longer, in an ideal world.

“I’ve never heard of anything like it,” Diana admitted. “I’ve heard of especially powerful cloaks lasting close to a decade, but if that was your father’s… it’s at least eleven years old.”

“It’s definitely older. He had it while he was at Hogwarts. It’s at least fifteen-years-old, I’d say.”

“That shouldn’t be possible.” Diana’s fingers were drumming rhythmically on the balcony’s railing as she stared up into the steadily-darkening sky. Flakes of snow were nestling themselves in her long blonde hair, but she seemed to neither notice nor care. 

Harry had not put a great deal of thought into his cloak as of late. It had been a mystery he had spent some time researching in his first year, but that had been before he had been traumatized through the collective efforts of two dark lords. He had been a touch distracted ever since. It actually sounded like an interesting project to distract himself with again, though he knew it would require him to sneak into the Restricted Section. This time, he would be much more careful not to anger any of the books that could scream so loud it made his ear drums want to burst. Finding the Mirror of Erised had been interesting, but he did not cherish the idea of sprinting through the halls to escape the horrible screams again. He wondered what happened to the mirror after Neville’s death, but he made up his mind to move on quickly. 

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live,” Dumbledore had said. They were words Harry was taking seriously. If he didn’t, given everything that had happened since they had been spoken… he might well and truly be mad by now.

Diana shook her head slowly as if to clear it. “I guess the cloak doesn’t really matter. It’s just… strange. Anyway, how are you handling everything?”

“I’m handling it,” said Harry. “It’s really just more of the same. The curses are more brutal and there are more of them, but it’s the same thing I’ve been dealing with ever since Creevey got attacked.”

“Is it still mostly the Gryffindors?”

“Mostly, but there are some Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws, too. No Slytherins in public, obviously, but some of the upper years would still love to curse me in the back. They probably would if not for Daphne and maybe my spot on the Quidditch team.”

“They would still curse you even with you being on the team,” said Diana. “They would just make sure their spell was reversed before the next match.”

Harry laughed despite himself. It was a painfully apt description of the house of cunning. “Lovely. Well, here’s hoping none of them actually try it.”

“Just spend more time under that cloak,” Diana advised. “If I had one of those, I’d probably spend most of the day under it. I’ve been meaning to try and learn the Disillusionment Charm, but it’s not as solid as an actual invisibility cloak.”

Harry raised an eyebrow. “The… what charm?”

“Disillusionment Charm. It’s a sort of camouflage charm. It lets you blend in so seamlessly with your surroundings that if you’re standing still, you might as well be invisible.”

 “If you will forgive my lack of modesty for a moment, I do not need a cloak to become invisible.”

Harry wondered whether or not this had been the spell Dumbledore had cast over himself that night or whether he had used something completely different. If it was this, he had exaggerated things, if Diana was to be believed. The spell seemed useful, but it was far from true, unimpeded invisibility. Harry would be sticking to his cloak for the foreseeable future.

“Maybe I’ll take your advice on that,” he said thoughtfully. Spending more of his day invisible really didn’t sound unappealing. “I’m all right, though. I just needed a bit of air was all.”

Diana smiled. “It does help, doesn’t it?” She turned back towards the castle. “Have you had enough of it?” Harry nodded and followed her back inside.

November 30, 1991

The Dungeons 

9:09 AM

Harry had taken Diana’s advice and spent much of the week hidden under the cloak. Daphne was still strangely distant with him, so he had felt no real need to spend much time with the group. He’d spent the week wandering the castle and exploring the Restricted Section. He had yet to find any explanation regarding his cloak, but he had found a number of interesting tomes that contained spells the likes of which he had never imagined before. Some he had seen in some of the more recent memories Grindelwald was feeding him. He had been witnessing his first few years at Durmstrang recently and near the end of his second year, Grindelwald had begun looking into some… interesting bits of magic.

Today was the final day of classes for the week and the Slytherins and Gryffindors were congregated outside the Potions Classroom, waiting. Weasley was conversing in a low voice with Granger, but Harry could see Draco making his way towards them and knew things could get ugly quick.

“Drop the act, Weasley,” drawled Draco. “Why bother pretending that you don’t know who the Heir is? You’re embarrassing yourself.”

Weasley’s cheeks turned red as a fierce blush rose up his cheeks. “Stuff it, Malfoy. I knew you and the rest of your group of gits were the ones who came up with that stupid song.”

Draco staggered back, clasping his chest as though it had been pierced by a dagger. “Didn’t you like it, Weasley? We all spent so much time making sure it was perfect. I can try and make it better, if you’d like? Anything for a man doing good and honest work.” He sneered at Granger. “I’ll let you write the thing yourself if I don’t have to see her stupid teeth any time—”

Draco’s sentence was cut off when Weasley flung himself forward. Draco reached for his wand, but Weasley was on top of him before he could draw it. Crabbe and Goyle stepped forward to take hold of Weasley, but Thomas and Finnigan had drawn their wands. Harry’s was out, too, but he hesitated. He remembered the Cutting Curse he’d struck Weasley with earlier in the year. The problem was that he also remembered the numerous nights he had spent in detention with the Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor as the man tried and failed to goad Harry into killing the lamb each night. Every time his wand would raise, he would remember the horrible voice he’d heard inside his own head that first night and the way it had screamed for blood.

A spell blasted Weasley and Draco apart. They went rolling away from each other with each of their robes having been ruffled. Weasley was the first to his feet. Blood was trickling from his nose as he glared hatefully towards Draco, whose lip was split and who looked every bit as livid.

“What is going on here?”

Everyone looked around to see the very unimpressed visage of Professor Snape as he glared at the lot of them. 

“Weasley attacked me, sir,” said Draco.

“You bloody—”

“Ten points from Gryffindor, Weasley.” Snape waved his wand twice and healed both boys’ injuries. “Now, everyone, inside. Despite your exhaustive efforts to disrupt each and every single one of your peers, there is still a class to attend.”

Harry couldn’t help but notice that as they all stepped inside the room, the way Weasley and Granger whispered back and forth seemed much more animated than it had been before. What was even stranger were the odd glances that Granger occasionally threw in his direction before flicking her eyes towards Draco and then averting her stare altogether. 

December 7, 1992

The Great Hall

8:37 AM

Snow had officially taken up its annual residency upon the grounds of Hogwarts. The ground was solid and it gleamed with the sparkle of the light dusting that coated it. It was a bright and sunny day and the rays shining down from the ceiling high above sparkled off of the plates and made the spoons, forks, and knives glitter like strangely shaped gemstones. 

Harry wanted to glare up at the sun for daring to mock him. Many around the hall were in high spirits, but not Harry. Today was the day the heads of house went around to their pupils and collected the names of everyone who would be staying at Hogwarts over the winter holidays. For many, it was a reminder that soon they would be back home with their families. For Harry, it was a reminder that the blasted Dursleys still lorded power over him. Lucius Malfoy had promised him during the summer that would change, but he had heard nothing on that front. Perhaps it had been another one of the manipulations Daphne had subtly accused him of.

He glanced towards Daphne now, but little had changed since Tracey’s petrification. She seemed to speak only when spoken to. The charisma that seemed to ooze from her at all hours of the day appeared to have dried up or else leaked out of her. It was still odd seeing her this way and Harry didn’t like it, but he did not dare get involved in this mess. Not after how poorly his first year had ended when he had tried to do too much.

Vast, dense clouds of brown and grey temporarily seemed to try and block the sunlight as hundreds of owls streamed into the hall with the morning’s post. Hedwig was easily visible among them since she shone every bit as white as the snow outside.

She greeted Harry with a hoot when she landed in front of him. She nipped his finger briefly before fixing her beady eyes intently on a plate of bacon not far down the table. Harry allowed his lips to curve upwards as he snatched a piece and fed it to his bird. He glanced down at his bit of mail and saw that it was from Narcissa. He would read it later, he decided. Their letters had become more personal, as of late. The last thing he wanted was some older Slytherin to see what it was they were writing about. They would wrongly take it for a weakness. If they did, they might be stupid enough to think they could use it against him.

Harry turned back towards his cup of pumpkin juice only to find that someone had taken it. Hardly surprising, he supposed. It had still been full and he had become distracted. Some older Slytherin had probably just swiped it on their way past. It was likely that they hadn’t even realized who it was they were taking it from.

“Here, Harry, take this one.” It was strange to hear Daphne talk, at this point. It had happened so scarcely that Harry was startled for half a heartbeat before he reached out and took the glass of pumpkin juice from her.

“Thanks, Daph—”

His eyes widened as his hand almost went slack. It took a conscious effort to keep a hold on the glass as he peered down at it as though it was some kind of artifact that had fallen from outer space. 

He cast his eyes numbly from the glass in his hands to the chain that hung about his neck — the very chain that Regulus Black had given him for his twelfth birthday… the chain that had heated up and that was glowing a faint red colour.

“So long as you’re wearing it, it will detect any poisons before you drink. It’s never been known to be wrong and it’s not stingy about what it classes as a poison. If it can cause you harm, the chain will warn you.”

Shock washed over Harry.

Poison?! Daphne had tried to poison him?!

It had to be Daphne. She had handed him the cup and she had already proven herself more than capable of it in the past. 

But… why?

Complete and total disbelief clung to Harry like perspiration as he stared towards Daphne and met her eyes. Her expression was blank as she looked back at him, her eyes devoid of any and all emotion.

The fingers Harry had wrapped around the glass began to tremble. He had been so sure he’d found a friend in Daphne, and then this of all things had happened. Was he destined to never have a friend? Dudley had seen to that whilst he lived on Privet Drive, but even in the magical world, he had known nothing but betrayal. 

No, he thought, that wasn’t true; he was making things out to be a touch worse than they were. Diana had never betrayed him… or had she?

The plates and goblets around Harry began to shake as though a tremor ran through the rock clif that the castle sat atop. Harry knew he would explode if he stayed. The shock was beginning to wane now and give way to other emotions. There was so much hurt, anger, and betrayal rising up within him that he wasn’t sure he wouldn’t use the Cutting Curse again… or worse — he had learned worse since. Yet if he did this time… he wasn’t sure his aim would be to create a simple cut.

If Harry sat in a chair instead of resting upon the wooden benches all students occupied, the force with which he stood would have sent it careening backwards. As it was, he was on his feet and storming out the door as a red sort of haze seemed to cloud his vision as a similar-coloured tinge of anger seemed to touch every inch of his skin as he began to shake. He hardly noticed that he was still holding the goblet in his hand, though he noticed her stare. He felt it as he left the hall and knew without turning around that Daphne had not taken her eyes off of him since Harry had laid a hand on the goblet.

Author’s Endnote:

I’ve been building to that scene for a while, so I hope it reads well. A scene like that is very tricky. It tends to be anticlimactic, so I hope I have avoided that pitfall and that you all enjoyed the chapter.

Please read and review. 

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