PoP 35

Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity

Year 2: The Erosion of Innocence

Chapter 22: Brewing Storms

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

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Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity

By ACI100

Book 2: The Erosion of Innocence 

Chapter 22: Brewing Storms

January 30, 1993

The Headmaster’s Office

9:15 PM

Albus Dumbledore did not often indulge himself, but he slowly poured yet another glass of oak-matured mead as he awaited his next expected guest that evening. He thought the mead was Madam Rosmerta’s finest offering, and by Merlin could he use it tonight. 

One could not tell the time by looking outside. It was a dark night filled with bitter cold and surging snowfalls. Albus could hear the wind ripping at the side of the castle, causing the glass panes in his office window to shutter softly against its surging onslaught. Flakes of white snow drifted down from the sky. Some of them splattered against the window or castle walls, but more still fell and blanketed the ground far below. It was difficult to tell from a glance but the flakes appeared heavier than usual. 

Albus did not need to glance to the clock to know what time it was, though it felt much later. This day seemed to have stretched on forever. As he aged, days seemed to blur by and lifetimes seemed to pass as student after student passed through the halls of Hogwarts, but this day had felt like an entire year all on its own.

What was he to do now? The attacks had moved well beyond what they had been fifty years ago. No longer were they random assaults on outspoken muggleborns. Now they were targeted strikes against some of the most prominent members of the castle. Today’s had certainly sent a strong message.

Minerva was as gifted as anyone. Whatever dwelled in the Chamber of Secrets must have been immensely powerful to have overwhelmed her so utterly and to have left no signs of a struggle. It made Albus’s heart speed up as he pondered what it could be and whether he himself might be next.

It was an interesting thought. Tom had always steered clear of him when possible. Even during the Purity War, he had only ever engaged with him when Albus himself had forced his hand. Even then, it had been swift and ended with a tactical retreat at the first available opportunity. He was no fool. Tom was not afraid of him and he was not delusional enough to think that was the case, but he had always been wary and harboured a healthy, if grudging, respect. 

Yet this was perhaps Tom’s best chance. Loosing something on him he didn’t know the identity of was the greatest opportunity he would ever have to dispatch of him. On the other hand, chaos would descend upon the castle if that were to happen, and Tom knew it. Even in his darkest hour, Albus knew he would never do anything he feared would close the castle’s doors forever. That had been one weakness he had always been able to count upon. 

It was reassuring to know that any incarnation of Tom would think this way, for it was difficult to know exactly what he was dealing with. He could not see how Tom was doing all of this from so far away. Perhaps he had ensured the loyalty of another last year, or perhaps… no. He would know if Tom had gone so far. There was no way that could happen without his knowledge.

There came a knock on the door then. Dumbledore called for his guest to enter and there was Severus, looking as calm as ever as he strode forward and took the chair across from him.

“You look tired,” Snape said by way of an introduction.

“I certainly feel tired,” Albus admitted. “It has been a long and trying day. I don’t suppose the search of the castle turned up anything of note?”

“No,” said Snape with a shake of his head. “We have enlisted the house elves’ assistance, but they have been no more successful than the rest of us.”

“A clever ploy nonetheless,” Dumbledore commended. “I thank you regardless, Severus, and I apologize for what must come next.”

“What must come next?”

“You know the position you must fill now?”

“Deputy Headmaster,” Snape said silkily. “I am ecstatic for the extra paperwork, I assure you.” His face twisted into that trademarked scowl. “Why you insist upon labouring me with the position when Flitwick has been teaching at this institution since I was a boy, I will never understand.”

“Oh, I think you understand just fine. You may simply be unprepared to admit it to yourself.” Snape said nothing as he stared blankly back across the desk, his black eyes seeming to swallow all the low light that flowed through the room. “There will come a time when I am no longer wanted here,” said Dumbledore.

“They may try to remove you,” Snape acknowledged.

“I fear they may well be successful. This has moved beyond strikes on muggleborns. The purebloods’ attention will be drawn now that a professor has been attacked. I don’t know who the assailant may target next, but a couple of more influential strikes and I imagine my tenure at the castle will be at its end for a time.”

“For a time?” 

“Yes, for a time. They may remove me, but I have no plans of staying removed.”

Snape dipped his head, though his expression stayed neutral. “And you still do not know who is behind these attacks?”

“I suspect I know who has facilitated them, but I am as out of ideas as anyone as to who is carrying them out.”

“Who was behind them last time?” Snape sneered. “How they could ever have imagined Hagrid capable of such things—”

“Yes, it was quite ridiculous to think a man as compassionate and kind-hearted as Rubeus would do anything so heinous.” Snape’s lip curled at the deflection, but he said nothing. 

“It was a boy,” Albus said at last. “A prefect from your house who was in his fifth year. Tall and pale, he commanded the attention of all in the day whilst he traipsed about the shadows at night.”

“You are sure it was him?” 

“I am.”

“And you believe it is him again.” It was the first time Snape’s expression had changed, sans his scowl. His lips had pressed together and there was an intense look in those dark, unnerving eyes.

“Any other answer would be too great a coincidence.” The two men sat in silence for a moment; the only sounds in the room were the deep, sleeping breaths of the former Headmasters and Headmistresses in their frames and the softly crackling fire still burning in the hearth. 

Snape conjured a glass and reached for the bottle of mead without prompting. The sound of pouring liquid filled the room. They could have been camping in the wilderness, what with the fire and a sound that could pass for running water.

“He is coming back,” Snape said after a long pull from the glass. 

Dumbledore sighed, but nodded as he himself reached to refill his own drink. “Yes, I believe so.”

“The mark has begun to burn again. Not hot enough for a summons, but more painfully than it has since he failed to kill Potter.”

“How long has this been happening?”

“For the better part of a month. Two times in particular I had feared he may truly have returned.”

Two times the mark had burned red hot… two times Harry had shared a mind with Voldemort…

“…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 was not surprising, as such, but it was troubling. 

“I believe that on both occasions, he did at least take significant steps towards a return to power.”

Snape’s eyes narrowed. “How is it you have come by that assumption?”

“Harry dreamt of him. His memories are vague, but what he described of the first dream he had sounded to me like some kind of dark and twisted ritual.”

“Potter… dreamt of him?”

“He did.”

“And…you place stock in these dreams?”

“I do not believe that they are dreams at all. Visions would be more apt.”

“I see no reason to assume that Potter, of all people, is a seer.”

“Nor do I. Need I remind you how hesitant I was to allow Divination to be taught here at all?” Snape’s expression darkened but he shook his head jerkily. 

Albus, meanwhile, had taken to his feet. The tumultuous surge of thoughts and emotions had become too much to bear whilst sitting still as Minerva lay in the hospital wing. His precious phoenix let out a soft trill as Fawkes lifted his head. Albus felt the load upon him lessen some. He paid the bird a passing smile before he came to stand near the window that overlooked a large portion of the Hogwarts grounds.

“Harry shares a unique connection with Lord Voldemort,” he said after a time. “I have suspected it for some time, but I am sure of it now.”

“A… connection? With the Dark Lord?”

“The Killing Curse touches the very soul,” Dumbledore said softly. “That kind of twisted magic is not so easily defeated.”

“Does this… connection pose any threat to the boy?” Snape asked, slowly and clearly annunciating each and every syllable.

“Not yet, but in time, that may change. There is little to be done for now. We have our own pressing set of circumstances we must attend to.”

“I suppose that we do,” Snape agreed as Dumbledore moved to retake his seat. There was something different about Snape’s eyes. A vacant air about them that had not been there before.

Good, Albus thought, if that was what it took to make Severus understand how dire things could swiftly become, then so be it.

Some time later, at the home of Rita Skeeter…

Rita’s chest ached from how hard her heart had been beating as she poured over the mountain of letters that littered her desk. They had come swiftly today. The birds that carried her mail had arrived swiftly and persistently as the snow that fell outside. She had been vexed at first, but her mood had quickly changed.

Mysterious attacks were happening at Hogwarts. She had heard whispers of them over the holidays, but she had not looked too far into the issue. The Wizengamot had been providing enough drama with the Conservatives still rebelling against the Muggle Protection Act. That had begun to settle now, and the evidence before her was undeniable.

A cat, a no-name muggleborn, a second-year girl from her own house, and now a professor? Things were certainly escalating in a timely manner. 

She tapped an acid green quill upon her desk as she thought, sucking on a mint as she did so. Its potent flavour filled her mouth and caused her saliva to thicken. There was a sudden thirst that came with it, but she quenched it for now. There were more pressing things that required her immediate attention.

The attacks at Hogwarts would have been newsworthy enough on her own, but rumours about the opening of a fabled chamber? She had heard vaguely of the Chamber of Secrets years ago. History of Magic had been her favourite class at Hogwarts and with Binns as the professor, a great deal of extracurricular reading had been required to succeed. What she remembered was vague. Old tales about Slytherin’s vengeance and a mysterious monster that would purge the school of the unworthy. 

The mention of the chamber made these attacks all the more interesting. Even more so as it seemed that nobody had the answers. First a dead student, and this year, random attacks and whispers about a mysterious chamber and a mythical monster?

It had been the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor last year. Anyone with a working brain could piece that much together. 

Well, that was certainly an angle…

She stopped chewing her mint for a moment as she contemplated the thought. Aberforth Dumbledore did not seem particularly interesting, but she imagined there were all sorts of secrets that could be dug up…

“And all for a good cause, of course,” she muttered. “Investigative journalism at its finest.”

February 14, 1993

The Great Hall

8:46 AM

Harry knew something was wrong even before he entered the Great Hall. Valentine’s Day had arrived with none of the splendour he remembered from the year previous. The walls had been luridly decorated and the suits of armour had been utilized. There was none of that now. Just an unmistakable air of tension the second he entered the Great Hall for breakfast. 

Well, a tenser air than usual, he supposed. Moving about the castle had felt like navigating a minefield as of late. Everyone was on edge after Professor McGonagall had been petrified. It was one thing when the victim was a rather annoying first-year muggleborn. It was another altogether when it was an esteemed professor who had served at the school for decades. McGonagall would just have seemed untouchable if Harry had been forced to categorize her. She would have been near the very bottom of any list of potential targets he would have drawn up.

Rita Skeeter’s article had not helped matters. She had finally begun covering the Chamber of Secrets and the attacks at Hogwarts. A part of Harry wondered why she hadn’t done so earlier. Perhaps attacks on a couple of unknown students and a cat just weren’t enough to attract her attention, or perhaps students hadn’t felt the need to spread the word over the winter break.

All of that had changed the day after Professor McGonagall had been found petrified. It had been front-page news — a bold headline splattered across a vivid depiction of the Slytherin House emblem. Skeeter had also promised to get to the bottom of things. From the little Harry knew about the woman, that could only mean a great deal of trouble. He just hoped that whatever she did, she did not decide to take up arms with the Gryffindors and paint him as Lord Voldemort’s heir apparent. 

Gryffindor House had taken its leader’s downfall very poorly. They wrought all sorts of misery upon Slytherins any chance they had. Harry, in particular, had become something akin to the house’s punching bag these past two weeks. He had taken to wandering the castle under the guise of his invisibility cloak in the daytime hours. He still preferred to move around unimpeded by the cloak at night, so long as curfew had not yet fallen, but doing so in the middle of the day had become genuinely dangerous. A number of unpleasant spells had found their mark in the past two days alone and the twins had tried to ambush him four times in the last week. Every time they failed, they seemed to grow more and more spiteful as their plans became more and more malicious.

It was immensely frustrating. Professor McGonagall had been one of the teachers whom Harry had actually liked a great deal, for one thing. For another, he had only shaken off the upper-year Slytherins a month earlier as a result of revealing himself as a Parselmouth. He had been enjoying that respite and was more than a little bit bitter to see it come to such an abrupt and sudden end.

It had been a long two weeks, but this morning was different. Harry knew that before he understood why, but it was not difficult to put it together.

A sort of hush hung over the Slytherin table. It was unlike anything Harry had ever experienced whilst at Hogwarts. All the other students seemed to be looking at them. Harry thought for a moment it was just the usual hateful stares, but there was more than that. He realized that the second he felt someone’s eyes burning a hole straight through him.

It was Greengrass. She had looked at him often since her return from the holidays, but this… Merlin. Harry had never seen anyone watch him so hatefully. When he looked back at her, that was when he realized.

Tracey Davis was not the only one missing from her usual gaggle of friends. Bulstrode, Moon, and even Pansy were with her, but the tall, dark skinned boy who usually hung just behind her like a creeping shadow was noticeably absent.

That was when it clicked.

Blaise Zabini had been petrified. The son of the infamous black widow had been struck down on Valentine’s Day and it sent a very clear message.

Not even the pureblooded Slytherins were safe from whoever was behind these escalating attacks.

February 27, 1993

The Dungeons 

9:56 PM

Harry sidestepped a purple spell from Cassie and dove to the side. There was no use throwing up a Shield Charm against the kind of magic she was using. It would eat straight through whatever magical protection he was capable of conjuring.

She was so fast — the spells seemed to come without pause, hurtling towards him one after the other. He was going to buckle under their onslaught soon, but there was one thing he could at least try.

He dodged a dark blue spell, leant out of the way of a sickening crimson one, and then saw the Stunner flying towards him. Harry’s arm felt like lead, but he forced it to raise nevertheless. His shoulder screamed with the effort of it; this had been one of the longest duels he and Cassie had ever engaged in.

He lashed out with his wand as the spell drew near. His wand’s tip met the jet of light in mid air and sent it spinning back towards its target. Cassie’s eyes widened as she just barely managed to bat the spell back towards Harry, who this time sidestepped and cast a string of spells as fast as he could. It put Cassie on the back foot and he advanced, but his onslaught did not last long before it and he had been cut down.

“You’re better than I thought you were,” Cassie commended. “How long have you been able to deflect spells?” It had been something they’d worked on for some time, but Harry had not yet mastered. 

“This was the first time I’d actually done it,” he admitted. “I thought I’d figured it out last duel — I just wasn’t fast enough — but I wasn’t sure.”

“That’s impressive,” said Cassie. “Plenty of novice duellists can’t deflect spells. That alone will help you beat a lot of witches and wizards.”

“It’s not enough to beat someone like you, though.”

She smiled thinly. “No, it’s not, but you really are getting better. I might have to find someone a bit less experienced to come practice with you sometime. I’d be curious to see how you did against an older student who isn’t me.”

“Your casting speed got me,” said Harry. “I know you’d have beat me no matter what, but I don’t understand how you cast so fast.”

Cassie eyed him critically. “Well,” she said after a moment’s pause, “since you seem to have gotten the hang of spell deflection, I suppose I can show you.”

Harry’s eyes widened. “Really?”

The older girl raised an eyebrow. “Are you here to learn, or not? Yes, of course I can show you,” she said with a smile. “That’s the entire reason we’re here.” 

That was something Harry had always liked about Cassie. She was easygoing despite her prowess with a wand. She was deceptive that way. A bubbly personality who could cut you to pieces with if you ever gave her just cause. And she really enjoyed duelling. She wasn’t just good at it, she enjoyed it. She enjoyed talking about it and she enjoyed teaching it. Harry found it infectious. 

His trust in people had waned this year and Cassie was no exception. The more skeptical he became of the Malfoys, the more he pondered Cassie’s motives. But he liked her. Whatever her aims were, he liked her and hoped immensely it was a friendship he could retain. So long as she did not betray him like so many others, he really could not have had a better teacher.

“Get out your wand again,” she said, “we still have some time. When I cast rapidly, I’m using a technique called chain casting…”

Meanwhile, in an abandoned classroom…

“What if we slipped him a poisoned sweet?”

“Don’t be thick, they’d expel us if we killed the git.”

“Oi! I never said anything about killing him!”

“But you want to play around with poisons?”

“Do you have any better ideas?”

“Clearly not, brother dear. If I did, we might not still be in this room.”

“Novel idea, that. I’m getting sick of seeing the inside of this room. Why can’t we just roll up on the git and curse him into oblivion?”

“Do you really need me to answer that?”

“No, but it would be fun.”

“It would, but not worth it.”

“I hate when you’re right.”

“Only when I’m right about something you don’t want to hear.”

“Well yes, Forge, that’s how narratives work.” 

Both twins chuckled as they brushed red locks of hair from their eyes in unison. They had been bent over stacks of paper for the best part of six hours now and their necks had long since begun to ache. 

“Seriously though,” said George, “we really need to solve this before one of us goes mad.”

“One of us? We both know if one of us goes off the deep end, the both of us will drown.”

“Touché.” George opened his mouth to say more, but he was interrupted by a loud tapping sound that came from the room’s window. “What the…”

Both boys turned their heads and saw that there was an elegant-looking eagle owl flapping its wings outside, a roll of parchment looked to be tied to its leg. 

The twins exchanged looks as they made their way towards the window. “We really need to work out how owls find us in places like this,” Fred said as he opened the window and allowed it inside.

“I never have quite got that,” George agreed as he untied the parchment from the owl’s leg and removed its burden. “Like, how the hell does this thing get off finding us here?”

The owl squawked loudly once the letter had been removed from its leg and shot back out the open window and into the brisk winter air before either twin could so much as move.

Both of them had moved on by now and were leaning over the letter. As their eyes moved down the parchment, they grew wider and wider.

“Blimey,” said George. “This is it, isn’t it?”

Fred grinned sharply as a devilishly gleam came alive in his eyes. “I think it is, brother dear.”

March 8, 1993

The Hidden Room

8:43 PM

The sound of Hermione’s wand clattering to the floor seemed to echo through the hidden room as though someone had shattered glass in an otherwise empty void filled only by darkness and silence. Everyone seemed to stop what they were doing and turn their attention to her and Ron, whose jaw hung open.

He was as surprised as anyone to have disarmed her. Nobody but Cedric had managed to get the best of Hermione in a duel. It was actually a strange feeling to watch her scramble for her wand. Her cheeks were tinged pink and she did not meet Ron’s stare, but he didn’t care.

The sound of her wand against the floor had sent a rush through his body. It was as good as any Quidditch victory he had ever experienced. Catching the snitch was one thing, but this was different altogether. 

He had been on a war path to improve ever since their ill-fated attempt to recover the Philosopher’s Stone had ended so miserably last June. Nothing had compared to that crushing pain Ron had felt whilst standing atop the hill and peering down at Neville’s grave through eyes that stung with the salt of tears. 

His efforts had only been redoubled after he had been tortured and enchanted to forget the whole thing had ever happened. Crushing dread had filled him then at the daunting challenge the school faced, but it had eventually solidified into a drive that had never been paralleled.

To see all of that manifest in one moment as the brilliant muggleborn’s wand was torn away from her… it was powerful. Something seemed to awaken and roar within Ron’s chest as a warm, primal glee surged forth to fill him like a potent drink on a cold winter’s night.

This was the beginning. This is what it would take to become the wizard he needed to become in order to honour Neville’s memory and to make sure nothing else so horrible befell him or his friends. It was only the beginning, but it was a good one. Ron squared off against Hermione once more, ready to go again and continue his thrilling journey.

March 20, 1993

The Dungeons 

10:11 PM

Harry’s streak of good nights spent duelling with Cassie had ended tonight. One of the bastards in the hallway had caught him with something vile. It caused all the muscles in his calf to contract horribly. They had felt fit to burst and it had been very fortunate that a sixth-year Ravenclaw prefect had been there to reverse the spell’s effects. Even after they had been reversed, Harry still limped on the leg heavily. It made duelling a right pain. It made duelling someone as talented as Cassandra Yaxley next to impossible. That night had consisted mostly of Harry getting battered around as Cassie put in minimal effort and did as she pleased. Not the greatest night for morale, but it had at least reaffirmed to Harry that he was resilient and was now beyond panicking when the exchanges were not going his way.

He was beyond sick of students cursing him in the halls. It had been nearly two months since McGonagall had been attacked. Harry had hoped briefly after Zabini had been petrified that perhaps there would be a reprieve.

The general consensus among the Gryffindors seemed to be that Harry had attacked Zabini to cover his tracks. He had even heard a couple of Hufflepuffs go as far as to mention that Voldemort had been notoriously cruel to those who had served him. If one dark lord had acted in such a way, surely it was only natural that the next one followed in his footsteps?

Harry was sick of it all. Sometimes, it made him want to do things that Voldemort and Grindelwald would likely have been proud of.

Grindelwald… that was a name Harry had not pondered in some time and it was better that way.

He cleared his mind with Occlumency as he rounded the next bend on his way back to the common room…

And froze at the sight before him.

No, he thought, this can’t be happening.

Large red letters spelled out a vivid message upon the wall, but there was no body sprawled across the floor. Was this what it looked like for the alleged Heir’s victims before their monster struck? Had Harry walked in on the setup of an attack seconds before it took place.

But no, that was not right — the lettering was different. It was crimson and resembled the colour of Gryffindor house more than it did human blood. 

Oh, Merlin, that was not a good sign. 

Harry put the pieces together just as he read the writing on the wall but by then, it was much too late.

The little snake’s bite might turn students to statues, but the snake should be careful that statues don’t bite back.

Then a sound tore through the common room as something nearby exploded outwards. Harry could see rushing fire and feltmany sharp pierce his skin as dreadful heat enveloped his body, but blackness claimed him before he could put together exactly what had just happened.

Author’s Endnote:

As I’m sure you can tell by how fast the months are speeding along, the setup for the year’s climax is mostly complete and the pace has picked up drastically now. There are only four or five chapters left in book 2 depending on how a few things go and I hope you are all as excited for them as I am.

Please read and review.

PS: The next password will be released next week. The entirety of book 2 is available for patrons, AS IS THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS OF BOOK 3! THAT’S THE NEXT NINE CHAPTERS!

If anyone is interested in reading those early, head on over to my Patreon page and sign up on there.

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