Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity
Year 2: The Erosion of Innocence
Chapter 20: Wounded Lions Part I
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.
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Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity
Year 2: The Erosion of Innocence
Chapter 20: Wounded Lions Part I
January 3, 1993
Ron swerved hard in mid-air and the bludger sailed straight past him. There was something truly exhilarating about flying. Nothing else quite compared to the feeling of streaking unassisted through the sky. The pitch sprawled out far below them, so smooth and green that from up above it could have passed for an expanse of emerald sea.
The roar of the crowd was deafening. This was not Hogwarts, but a different, larger venue packed to capacity. The very air seemed to vibrate as the crowd’s collective roar mounted and Ron caught a glimpse of gold from the corner of his eye and dove.
His robes whipped in the wind as he rocketed down towards the pitch. They were red like always, but the shade was different and he knew without looking that there was no lion on his chest, but a Union Jack. The wind whistled in his ears so loudly that even the noise of the crowd seemed to dim, but Ron could still sense the opposing seeker nearby. He was actually closer to the snitch, but Ron knew he would get there first. His path was more direct and his movements more precise.
The crowd were truly in a frenzy now as Ron raced to the snitch. They could be heard again over even the whistling wind, but the sound they made was odd. Ron could distinguish no cheers or boos, just a sharp and persistent sound, almost like someone was knocking on a door.
Ron ignored them and their odd sounds — they mattered not to him. Not with victory so close. It was right there! Just another inch and he would have it! The other man was reaching, too, but he was too far away. Ron could feel his nails scrape uselessly against the back of his hand as he felt the cold metal against his palm and made to close his fingers… but Merlin, was that sound ever loud…
“Ron! Ron! Are you there? Wake up!”
Ron jolted awake so fast that he sat bolt upright… and then immediately let out a loud cry of pain as he slumped back into bed. It was unlike anything he had ever felt before. It was like his nerves were on fire. Every time he demanded something of them, the flames would roar and light them ablaze all over again. His muscles felt awful. It was like they had all been tied in painful knots. The ache was unbelievable. Jolting awake had been a miraculous burst of energy. When Ron tried to sit up once more, he found himself lacking the strength to do so.
“Ron!” the familiar voice called from the other side of the door to his dormitory. “Is everything okay?”
“I…” Even his voice sounded like it was in pain. It was a ragged, croak of a voice that struggled to tear free from the tight grip of Ron’s constricted throat.
He heard the lock click then and the door swung open. “What’s going on?” asked Hermione. “Ron, it’s past ten and you said we were going to meet up an hour ago. What’s—” she broke off then and her jaw fell open.
“What?” Ron managed to croak. “W-what’s happened?”
“Ron… you look awful! What… what happened to you?”
“Happened?” Ron had only ever seen Hermione wear that expression once before. It had been seconds prior to his sacrifice in the magical chess game far beneath the castle last June. Something must really be wrong.
“You look pale as a ghost and you’re shaking everywhere!” Ron had not noticed it until then, but she was right. Even when lying still, he trembled. But no… trembled wasn’t the right word. Twitched would be more accurate. His muscles twitched of their own accord as if an electric current was ceaselessly streaming through his body.
“I…” he had nothing to say. What could he say? He had never felt so horrendous in all of his life.
“Stay here,” said Hermione, “something seems wrong! I’m going to get a professor!” She was gone as fast as she had appeared and Ron could do little more than stare vacantly out of the door she had just left.
That night, in the Slytherin Common Room…
Harry watched with keen interest as the returning students piled back into the common room after a long winter break. There was much bustling and even more chatter. The mood seemed light and weightless as freshly fallen snow, but Harry was less optimistic.
The last number of days had been extremely hard on him. At first, he had suspected that Grindelwald may have sent him that final vision in retaliation for his demand that the former dark lord cease his efforts. The more Harry considered that theory, the less he believed it held any weight or value.
He had only vague memories of what he had seen, but what he remembered did not match the theme of Grindelwald’s visions. Nothing about it made him think. Everything Grindelwald had ever sent him had something captivating about it. The vision that had last woken Harry was different. It was just… grim. There was no more to it than that, sans the horrible pain that had greeted his stirring.
None of Grindelwald’s visions had ever made him feel like that. It almost felt as though it was his scar that burned, but he knew that made no sense. Wherever the pain came from, it still lingered, if barely. That first day, it had been almost blinding and without rest. Now it was bearable; a barely noticeable prickle of discomfort every now and then. What was so interesting to Harry was that nothing he seemed to do mattered. No matter how much water he drank or how vehemently he avoided light, it persisted. The spikes of pain followed no observable pattern as far as he could tell. It seemed to have nothing to do with light or motion. Something about it just seemed… wrong.
But what was he to do? He would be laughed out of the hospital wing if he complained that his scar had been more painful than anything else he had ever felt. They would think he was mad and perhaps he was. Perhaps he had imagined the whole thing and Grindelwald had simply driven him to the point of insanity. Perhaps the pain in his skull was just a direct effect of remembering the pain Grindelwald had felt second-hand as he tore ruthlessly through the other student’s mind.
The pain was less pressing now and he tried not to think of the final vision, or the one of Grindelwald tearing the boy’s mind to shreds. Both of them made him nauseous in ways so different from one another. The conversation he had shared with Grindelwald, too… it warranted no further consideration.
What did require more attention was the fiasco on Yule. Students using polyjuice potion was a pretty big deal. Especially when those students — infamous for wild and dangerous adventures — had clearly been fishing for information. They had almost gotten it. Worse still, it had almost been his information. Had he not stepped in when he had, Harry was sure Weasley, Granger, and whoever else they told would by now have been aware that he was a Parselmouth and therefore the most obvious suspect in the mysterious case pertaining to the Heir of Slytherin.
Harry only knew one Hogwarts student capable of brewing potions as advanced as the one used in the common room. Well, perhaps others could have brewed it, but to think of it and know how it was made?
He watched Daphne Greengrass as she conversed with her group of friends. What was it she wanted? Was it possible she was aligned with Weasley and Granger? He remembered thinking back on what Snape had set about not only polyjuice potion, but yet another, equally illegal concoction.
“Pathetic, all of you. The most powerful truth serum in the world is Veritaserum. It is a colourless, odourless liquid, which makes it ideal for subtle use…”
The way he described Veritaserum was eerily similar to whatever had been put in Harry’s pumpkin juice. He still had the liquid, poured from his goblet into a stoppered vial and stored in his trunk.
If it really had been Veritaserum, Greengrass clearly wanted something from him. Or to know something. Weasley and Granger had been fishing for information about the Heir of Slytherin. Harry had decided some time ago that Greengrass must have thought him the Heir and sought vengeance after Tracey’s petrification. It was the only thing that made sense and if that was the case, her acting through others added up. Especially after Harry had gone and revealed himself as a Parselmouth to the rest of Slytherin House.
Greengrass must have felt his stare, for she looked at him then and Harry felt a sharp stab of pain behind his eyes. It was not the same pain he had been feeling for days, but something different. Something that coincided with the momentary widening of Greengrass’s eyes before she adopted an expression that could only be described as contemptuous.
Harry almost shivered. The older students had been a pain in his neck all year, but he suspected they would now leave him alone after the revelation that he shared their founder’s gift. Daphne Greengrass would do no such thing and Harry privately thought she was more dangerous than all the upper-year bigots combined.
Meanwhile, in the hospital wing…
Ron gritted his teeth as another agonizing tremor wracked his body. The pain had eased some since Madam Pomfrey had forced a strange and foul-tasting liquid down his throat. Her expression while doing so had stuck in his mind. Never had he seen her look so… worried? She looked almost panicked despite reassuring him all would be well and that there was nothing to worry about.
Hermione had returned soon after leaving his dormitory with Professor McGonagall in tow. She too had looked strangely concerned before conjuring him a stretcher and floating him down to the hospital wing. Finding the right potion to ease the pain had taken hours. The matron had tried vial after vial to no avail before deciding on the final one Ron had swallowed. Of course it had to be the most foul one that worked…
“Good evening, Master Weasley.”
Ron almost leapt up — or, tried to, at least — when the new and vaguely familiar voice jolted him.
“Dear me. I apologize for my suddenness in arriving. I suppose it must have caused quite the scare.”
“It’s… all right. Uh… should I call for Madam Pomfrey to get you a chair?”
Dumbledore smiled tightly. “You are kind to offer, but there is no need.” The old man slid a wand from his sleeve and gave it a casual flick, summoning from nowhere a comfortable-looking armchair made from fine-looking leather. “Here we are,” said Dumbledore as he took his seat and interlocked his long, thin fingers. “You have given us all quite the scare today, if I may say so.”
“My dear boy, it is through no fault of your own. It is simply the truth.”
Ron had no idea what Dumbledore meant. Given people a scare? Did this have something to do with the expressions worn earlier that day by the matron and Ron’s Head of House?
“I… don’t know what you’re talking about, sir.”
“Don’t you?” asked Dumbledore with a deep frown. Ron thought even he looked concerned. “May I ask you some questions, Master Weasley?”
“Uh… if you’d like.”
“Thank you.” Dumbledore leant slightly forward in his chair and Ron could swear the blue of his eyes had grown brighter in the dim light of the hospital wing. “Describe how you felt after waking this morning for me, if you would be so kind.”
“Awful,” Ron remembered with a shudder that sent a sharp shock of pain so violent through his body that he groaned aloud. Dumbledore sat patiently and waited, though he watched him very closely. “Everything ached. My muscles just wouldn’t work; they felt so sore and weak, I could barely move.”
“And you can remember nothing that would explain such pain?” Ron shook his head; he had felt perfectly fine last night and it wasn’t as though he and Hermione had done anything interesting since their failed attempt to interrogate Malfoy in the Slytherin common room. “What was the pain like, exactly?” pressed Dumbledore.
“What was the pain like?” Ron asked, blinking.
“Yes. Was it a dull, throbbing pain? Or sharper; more like a stab or a violent shock?”
“More like that, yeah. It’s… hard to explain. I’ve never felt anything like it before.”
“No,” mused Dumbledore, “I doubt you have. Tell me, Master Weasley, can you remember anything of note from the past few days? Anything from last night, in particular? Anything odd or out of the ordinary? Anything at all?”
“No,” said Ron. “The last few days have been perfectly normal. I just remember going to bed last night, dreaming about Quidditch, and then waking up.”
“Do you usually remember your dreams?” Ron had to think about that. It was such an odd question and had never been something he had considered. After a moment’s pause, he shook his head. “I feared not,” Dumbledore said as he ran a steady hand through his long, silver beard.
“Professor,” started Ron, “what is all this about?”
“Discovering the truth,” said Dumbledore.
“The truth?” asked Ron.
“Yes, the truth. People do not simply wake up with pain so intense they cannot move. Not without reason and not pain like that which you described.”
“But… nothing happened.”
“Nothing that you remember,” Dumbledore corrected gently.
“What… what are you saying?”
Dumbledore reached up and slid his spectacles down over his nose to look at Ron more directly. “I am saying that I believe you were attacked and do not remember the event ever taking place.”
Ron’s eyes widened as his heart seemed to leap so violently into his throat that he thought it might spill from his mouth. “I… what? That’s impossible! Why-why would anyone attack me?”
“That is the question, isn’t it?”
“What did they do? Did they curse me? Or throw me down stairs, or something?”
“I believe I know what they did.” The man’s voice had become grim for the first time and Ron’s heart quickened still more at the change in inflection.
“I think so, yes.” Dumbledore sighed as Ron waited, shaking slightly, with an expectant look about him. “Master Weasley, has your father ever told you about the Cruciatus Curse?”
January 9, 1993
Harry had been grateful for the return of classes. They had served as a welcome distraction from all that ailed him at most hours of the day. He never thought he would wish for the upper years’ attacks, nor Aberforth’s cruel detentions, but he lamented having so much free time this past week. Not that he had not made the best of it. Large portions of his time had been spent sneaking off to abandoned classrooms to practice new magic. Curses, hexes, charms, and transfigurations all featured and Harry felt like he was really beginning to make steady progress in pulling far ahead of his peers.
Not that it helped him any time he duelled Cassie. The better he got, the more pressure she applied. Harry knew that he was improving fast, but it never felt like it while duelling Cassie. She was just miles better than he would be any time soon and it showed. He did take some comfort in the way Lord Malfoy had described her. If he was to be believed, she would be one of the very best duellists in Britain by the time she left Hogwarts. That at least gave him some hope that, one day, he might reach the level he sought. Being battered around as a second year by one of the best duellists in the nation was acceptable, he supposed.
This lesson had been especially brutal. Harry had pressed Cassie hard. He had a lot of pent-up frustration and the winter break had robbed him of time practicing. He was a touch spiteful and wished to make up for lost time. Pressing Cassie harder just meant that she retaliated in kind. Harry’s body ached by the end of the practice, but it was the satisfied kind of ache that any who push themselves grow to appreciate.
“You’re getting better,” Cassie told him at their lesson’s end. “You’re improving faster than I ever would have imagined.”
“Thanks,” said Harry. “This year’s shown me that I need to get better.”
“You have,” she said with a frown. “I doubt you would have taken it to Cadmus the way you did if you hadn’t improved.”
Harry felt heat rise up his body and take refuge in his cheeks. “I… uh, I’m sorry about that.”
“No, you’re not,” said Cassie, “nor should you be.” She sighed and swept her long blonde hair over one shoulder. “Look, Cadmus is an arrogant toerag sometimes. I’m not blind; I can see that as well as anyone else. It was his decision to start that conflict. It’s now up to him to live with the consequences.”
“Fair enough,” said Harry, blinking and unsure what else to say.
“If it happens again,” Cassie warned, “expect a very brutal next practice. Earned or not, I don’t appreciate seeing my little brother hurt.” Her words may have had a lightness to them, but Harry knew they were no joke and that she meant every word.
“I’ll remember,” he promised before leaving the room and beginning the trek back to the Slytherin common room.
Really, he ought to thank Cadmus Yaxley. The boy’s stupidity had resulted in Harry revealing himself as a Parselmouth, which in turn seemed to have driven off all threats by the upper years. It was nice walking through a corridor without worrying what would jump out from behind the next tapestry or what guessing what spell he would need to shield against next.
Or so he thought, anyway.
Someone did indeed step out from behind the next tapestry and Harry did indeed raise his wand and prepare to cast a shield. When no spell came, he peered at his would-be assailant more closely. Her appearance surprised him far more than any curse could have done.
It was odd so casually she greeted him. It was as though they had spoken in the past three months. Theodore had stolen away to join him in the library here and there, but Harry had scarcely interacted with Pansy past stolen glances here and there. It had been maddening. She had always offered something none of the others did and he had missed that immensely in the months following his falling out with Draco.
“What are you doing here?” Harry asked her.
Pansy raised an eyebrow as she looked a bit up at him. “Is it so hard to believe I just want to catch up with a friend?”
“Draco’s not watching you like a hawk? I’d have thought you might have tried to catch up earlier if he wasn’t.”
“He’s been… different since we got back.”
Harry actually frowned at this, beginning to walk back towards the Slytherin common room when Pansy gestured that they should do so. “Different how?”
“He’s more… drawn in. It seems like he’s brooding, or thinking, or something. It’s… odd. It’s not like Draco not to spout off about whatever’s on his mind.”
It was odd of him. Harry could remember it happening before, but those had been the scarce weeks in the fall of their first year. Looking back on it, Harry wondered whether Diana had spoken to him before each of those periods of time. They fell conveniently close to when Harry and Diana had spoken if his memory was serving him well.
“The Malfoys might view you as a tool, but that doesn’t mean all of us do.”
Daphne had betrayed him, but Harry had long-since decided there was some truth in her words. How much was and always had been the question. Had Diana lectured Draco because she cared, or had it all been a ploy to maintain his friendship with Harry? He wanted to believe otherwise. Diana had been the most reliable person he had known since entering the magical world. Losing her like he had lost Draco would be pain past what he feared he could bear.
“That is weird,” Harry admitted, “is he sick or something?”
“He’s fine,” said Pansy, “just sulky.”
“So he’s not paying as close attention to you lot?”
Pansy scoffed. “I doubt he knows where we are half the time.”
“Does this mean I can expect more drop-ins from Theodore?”
Pansy huffed. “How am I supposed to know?”
“Isn’t knowing people kind of your thing?”
“I know people and usually how they feel. That doesn’t mean I know what they’re going to do. How am I supposed to know how boys’ brains work?”
“Yeah, I guess that would be tough for you. I bet it’s hard to imagine someone thinking about more than shoes or makeup.”
Pansy swatted at him, but Harry stepped aside and laughed. “You’re a prat,” she chastised, but Harry saw she could not withhold her smile.
“Then you have bad taste in friends.”
“What was your first clue?
“Draco and I,” Harry suggested. “A pouty brat and the so-called Heir of Slytherin.” He could feel the atmosphere change when he said it. He peered at Pansy, who suddenly looked pensive. “Do you actually think I’m the Heir?”
“No,” she answered at once, “but I think you’re an heir.”
Harry frowned. “What do you mean an heir?”
“You can speak to snakes, Harry. The only people who can do that are Salazar Slytherin’s descendants.” She looked at him pointedly. “I don’t think you’re going around petrifying people, but I think you could if you wanted to and found the chamber.”
“You actually think it’s the Heir of Slytherin then? Not some older student using some obscure curse?”
“I doubt it. If it was a curse, Dumbledore would have set them right by now. He’s a sodding twat, but he’s brilliant with magic. I doubt even Draco’s father would deny that.”
They were drawing near to the common room now. The smooth stone wall loomed ahead like the way the face of a mountain might welcome an incoming hang glider looking for a perch to land atop.
“You go ahead,” said Pansy, knowing that Draco was far from that oblivious. “I’ll walk a loop of the dungeons and come back.”
Harry nodded. “Thanks, Pansy. It… was really nice talking to you again.”
“We’ll have to make it happen more often, then,” she waved and was gone as Harry stepped inside the common room.
There was quite the commotion inside. Not even his entrance had quelled the noise and it had been doing that ever since he had animated snakes and set them against Cadmus Yaxley. The students all appeared to be congregated around the wall on which notices and the like were usually held.
“I’ll save you the effort,” said Diana, walking up to him with Cassius and Cassie flanking her on either side. “They’re hosting another duelling club meeting in three weeks.”
Harry leant back against the wall of warmth that cradled him in its arms. The rocking motions were smooth and pleasant and he could feel his eyelids growing heavy as whoever held him hummed melodically in a somewhat familiar voice. A softly crackling fire blazed in the hearth and he could see his Nagini coiled at his caretaker’s feet.
The effort of keeping his eyes open had just become unbearable when there came a knock from the warm room’s door and the woman holding him called out in a colder, less pleasant tone of voice.
The door opened and a blond-haired man in immaculate robes stepped inside. Harry could see his eyes widen with something that looked like worry from under his own, half-closed eyes.
“If our lord is asleep, I will return—”
“There is no need, Lucius,” Harry said in a high, cold voice that threatened to crack on each and every syllable. “I am awake.”
The man hastened to kneel and bow his head. “I apologize, my lord. I did not mean to presume otherwise.”
“Rise,” Harry commanded and the man stood to his feet once more. “What brings you to me?”
“The sample has been secured, my lord.”
Harry felt a rush of excitement greater than any he had felt in more than a decade, minus the day he had been reborn. “Show me.”
The man reached a hand into the pocket of his robes and withdrew a clear vial filled to the brim with a crimson liquid Harry recognized at once. He needed not smell the vial’s contents to know that it was blood. He had spilled enough of it in his time to distinguish the liquid from sight alone.
“Very good,” said Harry. “All went smoothly then, I take it?”
“Yes, my lord. No one is aware as far as we can tell.”
“Good. See that it stays that way.”
“Of course, my lord.”
“Leave me,” said Harry, leaning back against the woman’s chest as he smiled a thin smile. She was wonderfully warm even if he detested the way she held him so protectively. He should not need to be protected.
It mattered not. Soon, the need for such farces would pass. Only one more step still needed to be taken. It was the most difficult of all, but he would see it through. He would see through anything necessary if it meant he could reclaim what had once been his.
I know this one was shorter, but I split the planned chapter into two. I think it works better for the sake of pacing and there has been a lot of chapters this year that turned out longer than I expected.
We are getting relatively close to the end of book 2. I expect at least six more chapters, but not many more than that.
Please read and review.
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PS: Anyone who signs up to my Patreon page can read THE REST OF BOOK 2 RIGHT NOW! THAT IS THE NEXT NINE CHAPTERS! Feel free to sign up if you are interested.
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