Harry Potter and the Perversion of Purity
Year 3: The Looming of Shadows
Chapter 2: Black Tidings
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, Luq707, Raven, Regress, and Thanos for their incredible work on this story.
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July 24, 1993
Heavy black curtains were pulled shut over towering windows, plunging the Black family library into darkness except for the candles and torches burning throughout the room. The shelves reached up so high that some of them were lost in shadow. They reminded Harry of the tunnel leading to the Chamber of Secrets. This place is probably about as dangerous.
Regulus had warned him about the Black family library the first night of summer. “It might be the country’s largest collection of books on twisted magic.”
Most of his time here hadn’t been spent reading any of the Blacks’ books, but The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore.
The book had divided public opinion. Rita Skeeter had droves of devoted readers who took everything she said as gospel. They were a raging mob, shouting for Dumbledore to relinquish his positions of power.
“Do you think they’ll get their way?” Harry had asked Regulus over dinner.
Regulus just shook his head. “Not a chance. Dumbledore has too much power and support. It would take something catastrophic for him to lose his positions unless the ministry or Wizengamot actively pushed for it.”
“And neither of them are?” Regulus shook his head again, chewing his steak. “I would have thought people like Lord Malfoy would take the chance to try weakening Dumbledore’s base of power.”
“You’re learning, but slowly.”
“What do you mean?”
“Plenty of idiots believe everything Skeeter says, but plenty more have functional minds and think for themselves. Skeeter has spouted off too much nonsense over the years for people to believe all this. It’s a start. If something else happens, Dumbledore would have a hard time fending off the masses. He might still give up a position for the sake of public appearances, but no more than that. People like Lucius will be hoping for something bigger to happen while Dumbledore is more vulnerable than he’s ever been. That’s when they’ll pounce. Not over a book full of rumours.”
If only people realized most of the rumours might actually be true. Dumbledore really had been friends with Grindelwald. How far that had gone, he did not yet know, but there had been something there.
July 20, 1899
The Dumbledore Family Home
“Believing any trail to them remains here is foolish.”
Days had been spent together since that first dinner. The two of them had bonded from the moment his aunt mentioned the Deathly Hallows. Gellert’s obsession had reignited with another believer onside, and they had talked of little else since.
Now they sat in Albus’s living room and rehashed the old debate. It never ceased to frustrate Gellert. Never have I met anyone so controlled by their own closed-mindedness. A fire swirled inside his chest, purpose unlike anything he had ever known. I must break these barriers — for him and the world.
“Why are you so insistent on this?” he asked. “This is the resting place of the most successful Peverell. Surely you do not mean to tell me you believe the tale’s fancies about Death after all this time?”
“I’ve found the same sources and drawn the same conclusions you have about the Peverells.”
“Then why would this not be the beginning? Ignotus once called this place home. The others might have for all we know. There must be traces.”
“I have told you already that I’ve known of the Hallows for longer than you. I heard the story years ago.”
“As did I.”
“But I didn’t wait. Patience has never been a virtue of mine. I searched everywhere I could. You don’t think I’ve scoured Ignotus Peverell’s grave? You don’t think I’ve searched every corner of this infernal place?”
Gellert smirked. “Perhaps I just think I’m more gifted than you are and believe that I can do something that you could not.”
“Then you’re more arrogant than I took you for.”
“What one man calls arrogance, another calls confidence. It has always served me well; I see my paths and speak them into being.”
Albus’s lips thinned. “I have never been fond of Divination.”
“Why not? There are records that prove its power.”
“A small number of records over thousands of years. My point isn’t that Divination doesn’t exist. My point is that so few have the gift that the subject is all but obsolete.”
Gallery smirked again. “How shortsighted of you.”
“I prefer to call it pragmatic.”
Gellert laughed, a cold and wild sound that poured from his lips. I never realized how rarely I laughed; the sound has changed since I was a boy.
“Do you, Albus?”
Gellert’s head snapped around. The voice came from the sitting room’s entrance.
Standing at the threshold was a boy who looked remarkably like Albus; he had the same long face, auburn hair, and the same piercing blue eyes, but he was shorter and not quite so thin. A girl hung from his arm. Gellert thought for a moment that she was a partner, but then he looked closer and remembered her sitting beneath a canopy of dying leaves.
“Yes. Aberforth, Ariana, this is Gellert Grindelwald. He is Bathilda’s nephew and has become a dear friend of mine.”
“That explains a lot,” snarled Aberforth, scowling. “I’ve never seen you so neglectful.”
The air grew frosty. Neglectful? What nonsense is he speaking?
“Aberforth, there is a time and a place—”
“That time is now. Look at her!” He turned the girl towards her older brother. Frail is not the half of it; Albus understated.
“Ariana, what’s wrong?”
The girl trembled, tears welling in her eyes. Gellert watched as his friend deflated. There is more here than I realized.
“Tell your aunt that I, at least, will attend. My sister is sick and I’m unsure whether she or my brother will make it.”
Gellert’s pulse quickened, anger boiling beneath his skin. Another wizard made a slave to lesser beings. When does it end? Albus agreed about the muggles. Those talks always made him uneasy, but he agreed. Why let them control him? He must know there’s nothing he can do for her.
Gellert formed tendrils of magic and reached out towards her. The gesture was small and subtle; just enough to brush her mind.
Flaming daggers descended inside his skull. A short breath escaped him and his hand drifted towards his wand. Albus must have noticed; he would attack at any moment.
Nothing came. The girl was looking at him with wide, fearful eyes. The boy beside her still stared at Albus. Impossible; she’s a child. There was no other explanation. A natural occlumens? How can she possess such skills but be so broken?
“I’ll leave.” There was nothing to be done. Albus would see reason in his own time; he had to. “It was a pleasure meeting you both.” He smiled at the youngest Dumbledore. “I hope your health improves, Ariana.”
“You don’t need to leave,” said Albus. Gellert almost grinned at the look on his face. Yes, he will learn soon; he resents it already.
His stomach twisted. Thinking of Albus like he did others always made him feel sick. He was better than them — the only person who ever made Gellert feel whole. It will be better for him; you act for the greater good.
“It’s all right. I’m sure we’ll talk soon.”
“I’ll owl you this evening; our discussion is unfinished.”
Gellert threw a careless grin over his shoulder. “I look forward to your letter.”
Back in the present…
I’d ask him to speed the memories up if it wasn’t letting him win. Giving Grindelwald inches worried him. Giving him the chance to take a mile was almost unthinkable. But Merlin, he was curious. How did they go from being so close, to the greatest duel of all time?
Skeeter wrote about Grindelwald fleeing after Ariana’s death, but he hoped that was untrue. If Grindelwald had been the one to kill her… that did odd things to his mind when he considered how similar they were, often surfacing another memory.
“We’re similar, you know. Both halfbloods, both orphans raised by muggles unfit to lick the hems of our robes. We were both sorted into Slytherin House and quickly became prodigies in our own right. We’re probably the only two Parselmouths who have come through this school since the great Salazar Slytherin himself and we even look somewhat alike.”
Shut up, Riddle! I’m nothing like you! I’m better — I’ll prove it!
Meanwhile, in Cairo, Egypt…
“I dunno how you put up with it,” Ron told Bill as the two of them trudged through a sea of sand that smouldered under a blistering sun. “That portkey was awful.”
“International ones are never pleasant, but getting paid to take them helps.”
“Guess it would, yeah,” Ron grunted, wiping sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand.
Bill had greeted them an hour ago, waiting at their point of arrival. Having spent the past handful of years working here, he knew the land well and had taken time off work, sans a few low-risk expeditions he said would take little time.
Bill had been staring a hole right through him from the moment they’d arrived. The hell did mum tell him?
“Is it always this hot?” Ron asked.
Bill pushed sweat-soaked hair back from his eyes. “You lot chose the hottest time of the year to pay me a visit, but it’s never exactly like back home.”
“Somewhere in between would be nice.”
“Funny how things usually don’t end up that way. How have you enjoyed Hogwarts?”
That was a trap question if he’d ever heard one. Blimey, Bill’s the one I always got on well with. “Snape’s as big a git as any of you said, and Quidditch is great.”
Bill snorted. “Youngest seeker in a century they’ve taken to calling you?”
Ron blushed. “They did in first year. The nickname died a bit when I lost to Potter.”
“I heard about that too. Something about a cursed bludger?”
“It wouldn’t leave him alone. Chased him no matter what he did. Fred and George have never let me live that down; the fact I lost to someone who was busy flying away from a bludger the whole game.”
“Not your finest moment, no.” Bill came to a stop and withdrew his wand, conjuring a blanket and taking a seat, gesturing for Ron to do the same. “We’ve been walking for almost an hour. It’s best to rest in this heat.”
“I’m fine,” Ron defended, wiping more sweat from his face.
Bill gave him a hard look. “Poor choice of words.”
“You’re a lot of things, but I doubt fine is one of them. Not after how your last two years at Hogwarts ended.”
Ron’s cheeks burned. “Have Mum and Dad—”
“No one’s put me up to anything. If you must know, they did write to tell me what happened, but nothing more than that.” He gave Ron a pointed look. “I first saw a friend die during an expedition after I graduated.”
Ron sobered. “Sorry,” he muttered. “I never knew that happened.”
“Every cursebreaker sees it. We got too close to a violent ward; he was the closest.” Bill removed two flasks of water from his bag, handing one to Ron and taking a deep pull from the other. “That day popped up in my dreams for months, and I wasn’t eleven.”
Ron hunched his shoulders. “That was more than a year ago. It was really hard, but I’ve had time.”
Ron shifted beneath his brother’s gaze. Did I mess up? “I was under the impression that Neville Longbottom fell down a flight of stairs.”
Cold seeped through his veins despite the blazing sun. I definitely messed up. “What—”
“I said that I watched someone die and you implied you went through that same thing after his death.”
“I didn’t mean—”
“Didn’t mean to tell me? No, I imagine not.” Bill took another sip of water while Ron fussed with his robes, heart pounding against his ribs. “Since you’ve been bottling it up for a year, do you care to actually tell someone how Neville Longbottom died?”
“I didn’t see it. Honest, I didn’t.”
“So you were proxy to it; it’s close enough.”
Why does he have to be so bloody smart? “I can’t.”
“Why not?” asked Bill, lying down on the blanket and peering up at Ron. “You know I’m not the type to run off and tell Mum or Dad.”
Ron wrung his hands. “I promised Dumbledore I wouldn’t say anything to anyone — even my family.”
“Did you now?” Bill asked with a frown. “Serious business, then. Is it at least safe to say what happened was no simple accident at school?”
Ron nodded. “It wasn’t, no. I… wish it was.”
Bill scowled. “Then you’re a fool.”
Ron’s eyes widened. “What—”
“If it was no accident, then it meant something. Some stupid fall down a jinxed set of stairs is meaningless. It doesn’t do the person justice. I don’t know how Longbottom died, but your reactions tell me it had more purpose than that.”
Ron swallowed a lump in his throat. “It… yeah, it did.”
“There you go. What about Lovegood’s?”
Ron blinked back hot tears. “I saw that one.”
It was so close. Ron could feel the truth on his tongue. The moment was perfect, but something gave him pause. The last thing he wanted was for Bill to think him some sort of fool. And that’s if he doesn’t think I’m a killer.
“And that’s the worst part for you?” He nodded. “There’s no easy advice to help with this one. All I can say is that you’ll work through it and that you should learn from it.”
Ron swallowed hard again. “What do you mean learn from it?”
Bill shrugged. “It’s hard to say without knowing more. I know that you were in the Chamber of Secrets with that supposed Heir of Slytherin. It must not have been a pleasant thing to see, but there was probably a lesson to be learned. Something that can be taken away from it that will make you better.”
Another lump formed in Ron’s throat. “I’ll think about it,” he rasped. “I just don’t want to think about it all that much.”
“Distractions are nice.” Bill took his longest sip of water yet, but his eyes never left Ron. “Do you remember what you said when I first told the family I wanted to be a cursebreaker?” Ron shook his head. “You said that you were going to become one, too.” Bill grinned. “If professional Quidditch didn’t work out, of course.”
Heat flooded his cheeks again. “It sounded cool.”
“Does it still? Even after I’ve told you about colleagues stumbling to their deaths?”
“That doesn’t make it any less cool. It just means it’s more serious than I realized as a kid.”
Bill chuckled. “You’re still a kid whether you like it or not. You’ll tell me I was right in two years, then again in another two, then again two years after that.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. So, what were you saying about cursebreaking?”
“The sites I’ll be off to whilst you lot are here have already been examined. It’s simple work. Go in, take down some wards, and remove whatever they’re protecting.”
“If you wanted the distraction and any of those expeditions landed on days the family wasn’t doing anything interesting, I was going to offer to take you along.”
Ron’s jaw fell open. Merlin… “You’d take me?”
“So long as you promised to listen at all times and stay back until told otherwise.”
His heart sank. “Mum would never—”
“I’m sure I can talk her around.”
“I am. You need it and she knows that.”
The two boys sat in silence for a long time. “Thanks, Bill. I need all this.”
July 25, 1993
It felt strange being back at Malfoy Manor. Nearly a month of summer had passed, but finally Harry’s friends were all freed up from whatever had been keeping them busy.
Harry was the first to step from the fireplace and was fawned over by Narcissa until Pansy’s arrival not long later. The dark-haired girl was practically vibrating with excitement as she chattered away at a hundred words per minute.
Crabbe and Goyle arrived just seconds apart, but the arranged meeting time came and went before Theodore finally stepped from the fire.
He looks different. His skin was a touch too pale. His eyes too looked wrong, too blank and guarded.
“Summer taking a lot out of you?” Harry asked, quietly enough so only Theodore would hear whilst they all walked outside.
“Just tired is all.” Theodore fidgeted. He doesn’t look tired to me…
“Quidditch?” Draco asked Harry, Crabbe, and Goyle. Guess he figures the others won’t be interested.
Harry shot one last glance back at Theodore before agreeing. Theodore must not have expected it because his expression slipped. Something really is wrong, Harry thought as he mounted his Nimbus. I’ve never seen him look so worried.
July 28, 1993
Theodore’s expression plagued him those next few days — mixed with his worries about Grindelwald and half a dozen other things. A string of beautiful days all dawned, bright and vibrant, but none of them washed his worries away.
Those worries were strong this morning, so Harry made his way down to the sitting room to eat breakfast with Regulus, who usually said something interesting to take his mind off things.
This morning, that thing was Quidditch. “I just don’t really know anything about professional Quidditch,” Harry admitted.
Regulus sipped his tea. “You enjoy the game, though?”
“You’d love watching professional Quidditch.”
“Probably. I’ve just never had the chance. I don’t even know all the teams.”
Regulus smirked. “You hardly need to know all the teams. Teams like the Chudley Cannons haven’t been relevant in a century.”
“Aren’t Chudley the orange ones?”
“That’s them.” Regulus grinned. “See? You know more than you realize.”
Harry shrugged. “Not really. Draco just mocked Ron Weasley loads for supporting them.”
“Probably one of his better reasons for mocking someone.” A shadow passed across Regulus’s face. “Your father and his group of friends sometimes went around the halls loudly supporting Chudley for the sake of being contrarians.” Regulus shook his head. “That and starting fights.”
Harry laughed as Kreacher popped into the room with that morning’s mail. Harry’s laughter ceased the moment Regulus glanced down towards the Prophet’s front page.
It was like all the blood vanished from his body for how quickly he paled. His hands trembled so badly he was forced to set down his cup of tea.
That’s not good. “Regulus, what—”
“I’m sorry, Harry. I’ll be in my study. Call for Kreacher if you need anything.”
Never had Regulus dismissed him so soundly. It stung worse than expected, but he ignored it and reached for the paper while Regulus rushed off. What the hell could make him react like that?
A handsome face stared out at him with eyes so much like his brother’s. Long black hair tumbled past his shoulders, grinning like he knew some secret no one else did.
SIRIUS BLACK ESCAPES FROM AZKABAN!
By Rita Skeeter
Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians! I hope you and your loved ones enjoy the weekend.
I’m sure many of you expected this cliffhanger at some point, but it’s still fun 🙂
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