Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity
Year 2: The Erosion of Innocence
Chapter 21: Wounded Lions Part II
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Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity
Year 2: The Erosion of Innocence
Chapter 21: Wounded Lions Part II
January 15, 1993
The Headmaster’s Office
Tonight had been one of Harry’s worst nights in regards to the practice of Occlumency. Dumbledore had sat as stoic as ever, but Harry knew that there was no way the old man was not aware of his lapse this evening. Those deep blue eyes seemed to see everything. They saw through flesh and bone and seemed to pull truths from one’s very soul. Harry had never sat before a man with a stare as unnerving as the headmaster’s — despite how warm it appeared.
“I believe that will do,” said Dumbledore, sitting back in his high-backed chair and inspecting Harry with a critical air. “What ails you, Harry?”
Damn Gryffindors. For all his brilliance, Dumbledore was oftentimes as blunt and straightforward as any other Gryffindor Harry had ever met. It was off putting sometimes. How Dumbledore could go from impassive and calculating to… this. From a chess grandmaster to a concerned old man in the blink of an eye. Dumbledore was truly an oddity, elsewise he was extremely good at playing both sides or had begun to suffer from multiple personalities in his old age.
Harry pondered whether or not to speak. The memories sent by Grindelwald were protected under a binding magical contract. Harry couldn’t share any of those, even if he wanted to.
But the other visions…
He was so sure that the more recent visions had not been sent by Grindelwald, but by another. Harry could speak about them, he was sure, but did he want to? Dumbledore would surely think he was mad. One did not just claim to have dreams like what Harry had last experienced.
“It’s nothing,” he said, keeping his face as impassive as ever.
“No,” said Dumbledore, “it is not.” He leant forward in his chair once again. “I will not attempt to convince you to share your secrets with me, but I would like a reason as to why you wish to withhold them.”
“I don’t think you would believe me.” There was nothing else for it. There was no way Harry would have been able to come up with a lie the likes of which would convince Albus Dumbledore in such a short period of time.
Dumbledore interlocked his fingers as he peered intently over his half-moon spectacles. “And why is that, if I may ask?”
“It… seems impossible. Most people would just think I was going mad.”
“Allow me to dissuade any fears you may have on that front. I do not think you are going mad no matter what ails you. There is nothing you could tell me that would speak to the contrary.”
Harry could refuse. Dumbledore had said himself he would not be pushing for information, but was it worth it? The old man may well glean it one day from peering inside Harry’s mind. Perhaps it was better to speak now and ask Dumbledore’s opinion on the matter.
“I’ve… had a couple of dreams lately that have bothered me.”
Dumbledore raised an eyebrow. “May I presume these have been out of the ordinary in some way?”
“They’re… hard to explain. I don’t remember them perfectly, but… they’re different.”
Harry wrung his hands as he tried to decide how to begin explaining. “I’m not me in the dreams,” he said. “I’m… someone else. I see everything through their eyes, I hear their thoughts… I am them.”
Something flashed in Dumbledore’s eyes. It was gone so fast that Harry had no hope of identifying it, but it had been there. “That is rather odd, yes,” the old man said quietly. “May I ask whose mind you occupy in these dreams?”
“I… don’t know exactly. They’ve never said.”
“But you believe you have the answer,” Dumbledore prompted gently.
Harry nodded slowly, but swallowed hard once he realized that Dumbledore was waiting for him. He took a deep, centring breath as he braced himself for the rebuke, the chastisement, or even the accusations of falsehood.
The name was spoken in barely more than a whisper but every syllable seemed to echo through the office. Many of the portraits depicting former headmasters and Headmistresses who had been pretending to sleep a moment earlier jolted at the name.
Harry paid them no heed. He watched Dumbledore’s face for a reaction. One was there, but it was not what he had expected. The lines in the old man’s face had deepened. To Harry, it looked as though the Chief Warlock had aged by a decade right before his very eyes.
“I had suspected as much, yes,” said Dumbledore.
Harry’s eyes widened. “You knew?!”
“Oh, no, I assure you my assumptions were made loosely and based on many unproven theories.”
“But… you guessed?”
“I did,” the old man admitted. “I have suspected for some time that you and Lord Voldemort share a unique and mysterious connection.”
“What kind of connection?” asked Harry, his heartbeat quickening as his breaths laboured. He did not wish to share a connection with Voldemort. The one Grindelwald had forged was troublesome enough on its own and Harry had cut even that link off.
Dumbledore watched him very closely for a moment. His expression was blanker than Harry had ever seen it before. It was like he was pondering something very deeply.
“The night Lord Voldemort sought to kill you,” Dumbledore began, “he used an especially dangerous curse that has never failed to eradicate its target. The spell works in a way so unique that there is no hope of replicating anything like it. Its arithmetic equation stands as a logical fallacy, for the spell does something that violates the very laws of nature and should not at all be possible.”
“Sir, I don’t mean to be rude, but what does that have to do with me?”
“The importance is in the magic, not in you. See, for all the masses’ talk of special powers that the rest of us mere mortals knew not, it was a unique set of circumstances that allowed you to survive that night.”
“My mother’s sacrifice?”
“Precisely. It was the only thing that could have stopped that spell from killing you, but such magic is not so easily defeated. It will find a way to do the damage it was called forth to wrought. Magic like that leaves marks that will never truly fade.”
“Wait!” Harry raised a shaky hand and pressed a finger to his infamous lightning bolt scar. “Do you mean—”
“Your scar, yes. It marks the place where Voldemort’s spell touched you.” Dumbledore stroked his long, silvery beard. “Tell me, has your scar ever bothered you or acted in a way that normal scars should not?”
“After the dreams… my head… I’ve never felt anything like it. It hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt after the first one. The only thing that felt like it was when I touched Quirrell last June. I… I thought it felt like the pain came from my scar, but that made no sense.”
“It is likely that the pain does come from there, yes.”
“Last year,” Harry remembered, “when I was in Defence Against the Dark Arts or—”
“When you were otherwise around the spirit of Lord Voldemort,” Dumbledore finished. “You would feel similar sensations to the one you are describing now?”
“Yeah, I’d forgotten all about that.” He looked almost pleadingly towards the headmaster with wide, emerald eyes. “Sir… does this mean—”
“That you are not imagining things? No, Harry, I do not believe you are. In fact, I am quite sure of it, though I wish I could say otherwise.”
“Why? What does it all mean?”
“It… could mean nothing.”
“But you don’t think so?” Harry pressed, borrowing Dumbledore’s own probing technique from earlier that evening.
“I do not,” the old man admitted with a sigh. “It is apparent that your scar reacts any time you find yourself too near Lord Voldemort. Physical contact last June seemed unimaginably painful.” Harry shuddered at the memories of what he’d felt before blackness had claimed him.”
“Well, yeah,” said Harry, “but I haven’t been near Voldemort all school year.”
“You have not, which is troubling if your scar has plagued you so. Though I do believe I have an answer that might explain what is happening.” There was a dark look about Dumbledore’s eyes that Harry did not like. “I must confess that I am not particularly fond of the conclusion I have reached.”
“What do you think is happening, sir?”
“I think that Voldemort’s power is growing. I think that last year, as a wrath, there was only so much power his existence held over you. That is why it took physical proximity to trigger the connection.”
Harry felt a shiver run up his spine at the implications of what Dumbledore was saying. “You think he’s gotten more powerful since the end of last year?”
“I think it is very possible, yes. He has always had and will always have his supporters. He may well have contacted some of them last year whilst masquerading as Professor Quirrell. He still showed himself to be sharp as ever and if I know Voldemort, being so close to regaining the power he once held will only drive him further.”
“What… what does more powerful mean, Professor? He can’t come back without a body, can he? But he can’t have a body, right?”
“I do not know,” Dumbledore admitted with a tight expression. “I certainly think he can, but I doubt he has a body in the sense that you are thinking. I imagine there would be some signs if he had regained his full power. No, I think it more likely he is somewhere between where he was when we last saw him and where he wishes to be. Powerful enough that the connection between the two of you is awakening and expanding, but not powerful enough to be an immediate threat we must hasten to contain.”
“What do you mean by awaken and expand?”
“Well, you have told me that last year, you felt pain only when in direct proximity to Voldemort?” Harry nodded. “That is not the case anymore, as we now know.” Dumbledore’s stare seemed to become even more intense if such a thing was possible. Harry swore he felt the weight of it pinning him to the back of his chair. “What can you tell me about what you dreamt while occupying Lord Voldemort’s mind?”
“I… don’t exactly remember. Blood… a lot of blood. The first time… it was confusing. Everything was dark until it wasn’t and then… more blood than I’ve ever seen before.”
“You say you felt what he felt? How did it feel to see through his eyes?”
“Like I had just caught the snitch or something,” Harry admitted with a pained grimace. “It… felt happy. Like something incredible had just happened.”
Dumbledore nodded stoically. “And the second dream?”
Harry turned the memory over and over in his mind. It was foggier and more difficult to decipher. “I… Voldemort was in a chair, or something? He was sitting on something because he could look down and see the floor, and the snake, and the—”
“The snake?” cut in Dumbledore.
“Er… yeah, the snake.”
“Very well, carry on.”
“He could see all of that from his position; he must have been sitting. Someone else was there, too. Maybe more than one person. They kept calling him ‘my lord’ and they said… They said something about a sample and Voldemort seemed happy again. It… was like the first time, but different. Not as strong, but more…” he shook his head; it was impossible to put the emotions into words.
Dumbledore’s fingers had unlaced themselves at some point during Harry’s retelling and were now drumming upon the surface of his desk. He seemed to be pondering for a moment in the oppressive stillness of the room. The portraits had given up trying to feign sleep, but none of them so much as moved. It was like they were frozen in place or else unwilling to disturb the tension hanging like precipitation in the vast, circular room.
“What does it mean?” Harry asked again when he could no longer bear the pause. “I don’t get it! What am I seeing? Why am I seeing it?”
“You are seeing through Lord Voldemort’s eyes just as he sees it, I believe.”
“So… that all actually happened?”
“I think so, yes. The why is more complex, but I would hazard a guess and say that whenever Voldemort feels particularly powerful emotions, the link between the two of you becomes more active. It is likely that he has no idea of its existence. I am sure he would never willingly provide you such insights into his mind if he knew.”
“How do I stop it?” Harry asked. His heart had leapt upwards into his throat at the revelation that he really had been living parts of Voldemort’s life. Grindelwald had been bad enough, but at least that had been somewhat consensual on both sides. This was different. It felt… dirty.
“Occlumency,” the Headmaster answered simply. “There is no other way. You must continue improving and one day, you will be able to repel such attacks on your mind, deliberate or not.” He looked away from Harry for the first time in what felt like an age to study the odd clock hanging on his wall. “For now, I believe this conversation has stretched on long enough. Do not allow yourself to become too troubled. Rest is all you can do for now. More will come in due time.”
Harry hated it; he hated all of it. It was just like the end of first year. Just like how Dumbledore had told him he would know why Voldemort had come for him, but only when he was ready. It was maddening. All of it was maddening. Voldemort, Grindelwald, Dumbledore… he felt like a ball being pinged back and forth between the three of them and he was sick of it.
Harry felt the haze of anger break when a soft note played through the room. The Headmaster’s prized phoenix had let out a long and haunting trill and Harry’s overwhelming feelings of anger, sorrow, and helplessness had dissipated all at once. It had actually been disconcerting, but as he took to his feet and made for the door, Harry thought he much preferred this kind of disconcerting to whatever the hell the rest of his year had been.
January 23, 1993
The Hidden Room
There was a certain gravity to this meeting that Ron had never experienced before. There had been tense gatherings, sure, but nothing quite like this.
His short stint in the hospital wing had become public knowledge within hours of his arrival. What had been less known was exactly how he had wound up there. A small mercy it was, for he feared to imagine what the school would have done with the knowledge that somebody walking its halls was proficient with both the Memory Charm and the Cruciatus Curse.
That fact was disturbing enough for Ron, let alone everyone else. He had spent many hours locked up in abandoned classrooms discussing with Hermione who the culprit could have been and what on earth they might have wanted.
Ron thought it had to be the Heir of Slytherin. Who else would traipse about Hogwarts casually throwing around Unforgivable Curses? He had never heard of anything like this happening in the castle despite all his brothers’ collective experiences.
Hermione had taken a more logical approach.
“It’s all well and good to be able to cast the spells,” she had said, “but why would the Heir want to torture you? You’re a pureblood. Besides, there’s no rule that says only one person with dark plans can wander around the halls at night.”
Ron’s only real counter to that had been that perhaps the Heir had wanted retribution for trying to track down their identity. Hermione had unfortunately bit back with something rather difficult to argue against.
“If the Heir of Slytherin was worried about you catching onto them, why wouldn’t they have just petrified you like the others? That way, you couldn’t go around talking.”
It was all a mess. This entire damn school was a mess. So much for his parents’ preaching about Hogwarts being the safest place in the world. Not even Professor Dumbledore had been able to protect the castle from the wrathful grasp danger seemed to have held on it for the better part of the last two years.
Ron really would have liked to come up with some answers before facing Cedric, Susan, and Hannah. Their expectant glances upon his entrance were as crushing as a speeding bludger. Ron had known they would be there, but it did not make being subjected to them any more pleasant.
He had contemplated lying about what had happened or trying to fabricate some kind of story, but he was a miserable liar. His and Hermione’s confidence in their own subtlety also wasn’t exactly at an all-time high after the fiasco that had been their failed intrusion upon the Slytherin common room the night of Yule.
Cedric, Susan, and Hannah listened with rapt attention as Ron recapped all that had happened from the time he awoke to the time Dumbledore had finished speaking with him that night in the hospital wing. A part of him thought the three Hufflepuffs wouldn’t believe him, but he could see at once that was not the case.
“You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil…”
Just and loyal was certainly one way to put it. As for unafraid… Ron thought reckless might have been more apt, but he was hardly in a position to pass judgement after how his first year had ended.
“You have no idea who did it?” asked Susan.
Ron and Hermione exchanged glances. “No,” said the latter. “Honestly, we have no idea.”
Ron tried not to make a face, but judging by Cedric’s narrowed eyes, he had failed. He was less sure than Hermione they did not already have a culprit.
The way their probing of Malfoy had been allowed to continue for so long but had been forcefully halted the second Potter was brought into the equation. The way he had systematically taken the two of them apart before sending them packing. The look in his eyes as Ron had retreated — it had not seemed a stretch then to imagine him petrifying students, or worse.
Hermione’s biggest sticking point was that a second-year student had no way of knowing anything like the Cruciatus Curse. Ron could not articulate a strong counterpoint, but when had the rules ever applied to Potter? If he had survived the Killing Curse before his second birthday, why was it impossible he knew dark and vile curses before the age of thirteen?
“There’s no point stewing on it for now,” said Cedric, pulling Ron from his thoughts with a sudden jolt much like the one that had awoken him that fateful morning almost three weeks earlier. “All we can do is our best to make sure nothing like that can happen again.”
They all nodded as they raised their wands, but for the first time since Neville’s death, the shadow of doubt loomed over Ron as he tried to escape from its oppressive clutches. If there were students in the school capable of such advanced magic, how were they ever to match them in time?
January 30, 1993
The Great Hall
Harry felt the somewhat familiar rush of excitement when his opponent crumpled to the floor, hit with a Stunner that had slipped through their defences. The boy had been fast and aggressive, but sloppy. He overextended his wand movements and put himself out of position with footwork that just tried to do too much. It had been an interesting duel due to the boy’s unorthodox style, but not an overly competitive one. Really, the only competitive duel Harry had faced had been against the red-headed terror who had summoned the snake back during the duelling club’s first official meeting.
This gathering was far more organized. Duels had not devolved into playground brawls this time around, and the pairs seemed more evenly matched — in most cases. Harry had managed to spot Cassie standing alone with her opponent seemingly unconscious on the floor. He knew first-hand exactly how lethal she was and he did not envy any of the poor sods Aberforth kept pairing up with her.
The final spells of dying duels faded as Aberforth gruffly cleared his throat and prepared to speak but before he could, a louder, more unexpected noise tore through the still room and caused the floor beneath their feet to shake.
“What the hell was that?” someone asked.
“It came from above!”
“Listen!” called another. There was a sound that was getting louder and louder. Harry thought for a moment it was directly connected to whatever had just happened, but he didn’t realize until some time after that it was just Peeves. He was singing madly as he flew straight through all the floors between them and where he had been, singing about destruction and lost trinkets all the while.
“The trophy room,” said an upper-year Ravenclaw girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. “The bit about the lost trinkets — whatever we just heard must have happened in the trophy room.”
Aberforth seemed to believe her, at the very least. His wand was drawn like a sword a moment later as he made for the door, unwillingly leading a procession of several hundred students in his wake.
Something felt wrong to Harry. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end as goosebumps rose all along his arms. Something was wrong here; he could not explain how he knew, he simply did.
Yet what was he to do? He had been swept up in the mob of students making their hasty exits to follow in Aberforth’s wake. The man himself had barely spared any of them a glance. The only distraction he had allowed himself had been to conjure a large, silvery something and send it streaming out of the room ahead of him.
Harry allowed himself to be led away by the crowd, but his eyes lingered on the Great Hall as long as they could.
Minutes later, on the third floor…
Diana had been following the crowd just like everyone else when she had seen her. The girl’s platinum-blonde hair stood out stark as shining stars against the inky blackness of the night sky and she was dressed… eccentrically. What exactly was hanging from her ears, Diana had no idea, but she found she did not much care. All that mattered was that she sought to do what had to be done. Whether it take a day, a week, a month, or the rest of the school year.
The girl stood alone and a fair distance away from her nearest classmates. She was short and had a frail sort of look about her. One breeze appeared as though it might be forceful enough to sweep this girl away like the last vestiges of summer fleeing the north on a south-bound breeze.
“Miss Lovegood,” said Diana, “it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
The girl looked startled for a moment. The girl’s eyes were almost comically wide. They were among the brightest things in the corridor as they shone silver in the relatively low lighting.
“Hello,” said Lovegood. “You’re popular. I see you with friends all the time.” She frowned. “I don’t have many of those. If you’ve lost one, you might do better asking somebody else.”
Diana blinked several times. This had not been what she had expected. It was well-known that Xenophilius Lovegood was an odd fellow, according to even the most patient of men, but this was something different altogether. The daughter of a man who owned a newspaper so… open. And not open like most people — open in a way that suggested her brain just didn’t think better of any words that slid onto the tip of her tongue.
“I… haven’t, thank you.”
“Oh,” said Luna Lovegood in a sing-song kind of voice. “Well, that’s nice. You wouldn’t want to lose anything. I’ve been losing things all year.”
Diana peered at her through skeptical eyes. Part of her thought this young girl had to be playing some kind of joke or trick. Perhaps she might have chalked it up to a facade if she had been older, but she was convinced that no eleven-year-old girl could put on a facade of this nature in such a convincing manner.
“I’m… sorry to hear about your year,” Diana said with a smile that managed to form on her face right in the nick of time. “You’re Xenophilius Lovegood’s daughter, aren’t you?”
“That’s right,” said the girl, bobbing her head in an odd, discombobulated variant of a nod.
Diana held out her hand. “My father has been wanting to meet yours for a long time so I thought I would check in on you while I had the chance. I am Diana, Heiress of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Malfoy.”
Luna hummed. “I don’t think daddy’s ever mentioned your father.”
It was fortunate that her father had chosen Diana for this task and not Draco. He would surely have lost patience with this girl already. That last comment about their father would have done him in had nothing else before quite managed it, Diana thought.
“Yes, well, your father is quite busy and doesn’t seem to attend Wizengamot meetings.”
“Of course he doesn’t,” she said as though as it was the most obvious thing in the world. “The Wizengamot only meets on blue moons and to discuss ways to hide the pact between the mermen and the centaurs.”
“You haven’t heard of it?”
“I… can’t say I have.”
“Hm, well, I guess they’re doing a good job, then. Shame. Daddy’s wanted to do a piece on it in his newspaper for ages now.”
Diana felt the crowd pressing her back the way they had come. She had not been near the front of the cue and therefore had no idea what Aberforth had found in the trophy room. Judging by the uniform drone of grumbling voices, nothing; or, at the very least, nothing that was of any real interest.
Now the crowd was moving again and Diana felt herself pulled along with them, though she noticed that the Lovegood girl was still beside her. Good, she thought, solving this particular puzzle was going to take much longer than she had anticipated.
Soon after, back on the first floor…
The further away the crowd had drawn from the Great Hall, the more and more nervous Harry had become. He couldn’t be sure why. There had been nothing back in the Great Hall, yet Harry somehow felt compelled to return there. No sinister student or Mysterious monster had awaited them in the trophy room and finally, the large crowd had begun making its way back downstairs.
Harry’s heart beat faster with every footstep of his that echoed off the flagstone floor as they reached the castle’s ground level once more. He glanced around to watch the others, but no one else seemed troubled by what was taking place.
Perhaps he really was mad, no matter what Dumbledore said. Or perhaps his instincts knew something the others’ didn’t. He hoped this was false, but he feared that wasn’t the case and as they drew near to the Great Hall once more, Harry’s suspicions were swiftly confirmed.
The first thing he noticed was the writing on the wall. It was done in a dark, crimson colour that looked and smelt unmistakably of blood. The writing was still wet and it dripped and seeped down the wall, falling in small droplets to break against the floor several feet below. It was difficult to see what was written despite the flamboyance of the message, for many taller, wider bodies blocked Harry’s line of sight.
Yet something else had stunned the crowd into silence that Harry had not yet seen. Many of the mutters died and were replaced by shocked and horrified silence. A couple of girls actually screamed. People began shoving one another to get away; Harry saw one girl faint. The crowd had descended into complete and total madness.
Not that Harry was complaining. It allowed him to move closer to the writing on the wall and read it for the first time.
Even the queens of the jungle must one day lay before their lord and master.
Harry read the words three times but did not understand them — not until he glanced downwards.
Lying face-up beneath the words was a figure wearing straight black robes. Despite her plain attire, it was not at all difficult to recognize her. Her lips — usually pulled in a stern line of disapproval — were slightly parted and halfway through forming an exclamation of some kind.
“Merlin,” Harry heard an older student mutter from nearby, “the bastard got Professor McGonagall.”
We are getting quite close to the end of the year. I hope to wrap it up in five more chapters, but we’ll see 🙂
As for this chapter, it is nice to have that final scene written after having it planned for so long. I think I will feel that way a lot with these later book 2 chapters.
Please read and review.
A massive thank you is also extended to my Olympian-level patron, ShadowWolf, for his incredibly generous support on that platform!
NOTE FOR PATRONS: This probably won’t be a huge deal to you guys, but I have a feeling I am going to do a lot of editing of this chapter, both to add imagery and to clean up what I think was a lot of sloppy prose. Until I do that, I hope you all enjoy the chapter nevertheless.
PS: Anyone who signs up to my Patreon page can read THE REST OF BOOK 2 RIGHT NOW! THAT IS THE NEXT EIGHT CHAPTERS! Feel free to sign up if you are interested. For those who would rather wait, the next password will be released in a week.
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