PoP 47

Perversion of Purity

Year 3: The Looming of Shadows

Chapter 5:

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, Luq707, Raven, Regress, and Yoshi89 for their incredible work on this story.

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August 6, 1993
Black Manor 
9:33 PM

Wind rattled the windows, raindrops pounding against the glass. Thunder boomed and Harry looked up from his book. Towering shelves cast long shadows that crawled through pools of flickering torchlight. He had often mistaken those shadows for movements in the corner of his eye, but he had grown used to them since. 

Until tonight, when all the old ticks returned.

Harry looked out the window to take his mind off things but could see nothing through heavy sheets of rain but for the tops of distant trees.

He glanced down at his book but grimaced at the first spell. He had stayed away from the more gruesome tomes for over a month, but Voldemort’s return changed everything. I have to be ready. It’s the only way I’ll ever be free; the only way I won’t always be afraid.

Harry had done well that night and really did believe that Voldemort had no plans of killing him, but he knew that plans could change. The longer he pondered, the clearer his path became. His heart raced just thinking about it, a long, treacherous path cloaked in death and shadows.

It’s not like I have better options. I could go to Dumbledore, but what would it get me? House points and less time, he guessed. Would the headmaster still take time to teach him while busy combatting Voldemort? And if he did tell, Voldemort would know… I hate feeling trapped. I hate being afraid.

Harry’s choices were two pits of vipers, but at least one offered prizes for taking the plunge.

He glanced back down at his book, steeling his nerves.

Ossio Exploso

Harry looked from the spell to its diagram, face unchanged by the shifting images of exploding blood and gore. It doesn’t bother me like it would have before. Harry thought back to a cold, winter’s day, standing atop a mountain overlooking Lake Königssee. Gone were the fear and worries about sliding down a slippery slope. All that remained was anger and an iron purpose. I never want to be in that position… I’ll never feel helpless again.

August 13, 1993
5:57 PM

Ron looked around one last time. A small village lay behind him whilst, in front, the sand appeared to stretch on forever, covered in long shadows as the sun began setting. A hot breeze blew, kicking up sand that broke against his cloak.

Ron wouldn’t miss the sand. It got everywhere and was impossible to clean without magic, but it and the heat were the only things he looked forward to leaving behind.

This trip had been the happiest he had been since Neville’s death. People like Cedric had tried to help, but Bill had done more in three weeks than any of them had in more than a year. Ron found talking with Bill easy. Bill listened well and never treated him as if he were made of glass. I’m gonna miss him.

A hand landed on his shoulder and he looked up. “You don’t look thrilled to leave,” said Bill.

Ron swallowed a lump in his throat. “I’d have liked to go on another job or two.”

Bill smiled. “Those don’t come around all that often, not ones like the last. Most of them would be too dangerous to take you on.”

“But I actually learned stuff this trip — important stuff, stuff that’ll actually help me.”

“Study,” Bill told him.

Ron grimaced. “It’s not the same. I like doing things, not reading about them. I’m good with that sort of stuff and it feels like I was just getting the hang of runes.”

“You know you could take them at Hogwarts?”

Self-loathing gnawed at him as he looked down towards the sand. “I can’t. We picked our courses ages ago and I chose Care of Magical Creatures and bloody Divination. I just wanted easy classes, I never thought of how useful stuff like runes is.”

“You can always ask McGonagall if she can change your timetable.”

Ron looked up. “I can?”

“She’s your Head of House; things like this are exactly what she’s there for.”

Ron had never thought of it like that. McGonagall had always just been their Transfiguration Professor. Guess she just doesn’t feel like our Head of House compared to Snape running around and giving Slytherins points for breathing.

“What about Arithmancy? Should I take that, too?”

Bill pursed his lips. “Why do you want to take Ancient Runes?”

“Well, they’re dead useful, aren’t they?”

“A lot of things are useful. What about their use appeals to you?”

Ron wiped sweat from his forehead. “Wards are important, and you said runes can be used in duels, right?”

“It’s an unusual approach, but I’ve seen it done.”

“There you go. I want to take care of myself.” His eyes fell back towards the sand. “I want to take care of my friends.”

Bill squeezed his shoulder. “Then stick with runes. There’s plenty of use for Arithmancy, but it’s not the weapon of men who want to fight.”

“Ron, hurry!” called his mother, beckoning for him to come back over to where her and the others gathered around a weathered old saddle.

“Go,” said Bill. “Just remember you can write. I’ll try and make sure I reply whenever I can.”

Ron hugged him before walking off towards the rest of his family, jumping when a hand landed on each of his shoulders.

“Ancient Runes, Ronikins?” Fred asked in a low voice just before they reached their mother.

August 14, 1993
Diagon Alley
12:04 PM

Harry stepped through emerald flames and into a dimly-lit restaurant. A well-dressed waiter rushed over. “Welcome, sir, we…” he trailed off, eyes lingering on Harry’s forehead.

Why does everyone stare? It’s just a scar. “I should be under a reservation made by Lord Lucius Malfoy,” he said, ignoring the man’s stare.

The waiter swallowed. “Right this way, sir.”

Draco and Diana were already waiting for him, as were Crabbe, Goyle, and Cassie. Theodore, Cassius, and Pansy had yet to arrive.

“Pass along my thanks to your father,” Harry told Draco when he’d sat down between Diana and Cassie. Draco smiled, but there was no hint of his usual smugness. Weird. His father probably spent a fortune on this place, I was sure he’d be insufferable. 

Theodore arrived next. Harry watched him closely. His smiles look strained. The Notts were notorious blood supremacists and close with the Malfoys. Is it Voldemort? Is that why he looks so awful? Harry shuddered at the thought. Surely Theodore’s father would keep him away from all of that.

His eyes flicked towards Cassie. She was the oldest in the room, plus the best duellist. If anyone in our group’s gonna be involved, it’s her. The Yaxleys had never been linked to Voldemort, but that meant little, especially when most of Lord Corbin’s friends had been.

Cassius entered, calm as still water. Pansy too looked normal, if a bit flushed.

“I never thought I’d meet anyone less punctual than Cassius,” Diana said when Pansy arrived.

Her nostrils flared. “I was being lectured by my parents.”

Theodore smirked; it was the most normal he had looked all summer. “That sounds like a convenient way of saying that makeup took longer than you expected.”

Pansy rounded on Cassius. “How long were you here before me?”

He shrugged. “About five minutes.”

“See? That’s not that bad. What was your excuse?”

Cassius grinned. “Flying.”

“Flying?” Pansy asked, whirling back to Diana and Theodore. “You have the nerve to give me grief after his excuse was flying?”

“Flying is a perfectly good reason to be late,” Draco said with the hint of a smile, turning his grey-eyed stare on Harry. “Don’t you agree?”

Harry too grinned. “Completely.”

Pansy huffed. “You’re all menaces. No one’s safe from the lot of you.”

Oh, Pansy… His eyes went from the Malfoy siblings, to Theodore, and then to Cassie. You have no idea how right you might be…

Hours later, in Knockturn Alley…

The day was spent shopping and gossiping.

“Father thinks it’s different than last year,” Draco had said when asked about their next Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor. “He doesn’t think Dumbledore’s playing any games at all; he really does think no one wants the job.”

“Can you blame them?” Pansy had asked. “No one’s made it the full year since the late sixties.”

“Skeeter didn’t help anything,” Diana added. “She brought even more attention to the curse last year, and I bet her book on Dumbledore hasn’t helped.”

“They say he’s going to resign as Chief Warlock tomorrow,” said Theodore.

“Do you really think any of it’s true?” Pansy asked.

Diana nodded. “Some of it must be. The details are too fleshed out for them all to be fake, but it’s Skeeter, so I’m sure plenty of it is nonsense.”

“Do you think he was really friends with Grindelwald?”

Harry schooled his features. He alone knew the truth but would say nothing. Those were questions he wanted no part of.

“It wouldn’t surprise me,” said Cassie. “Gifted people connecting is pretty normal. Father’s been trying to convince me I should start writing to the Romanov heiress. She’s apparently a duelling phenom at Durmstrang.”

“I’ve thought about trying to write Viktor Krum,” Draco admitted.

“He’s the teenage Quidditch phenom, isn’t he?” Harry had asked. “The one who got subbed in for Bulgaria’s World Cup qualifying matches back in June and hasn’t missed a snitch?”

“That’s him,” said Cassius. “He’s brilliant — one of the best I’ve ever seen.”

Pansy’s throat clearing had halted their conversation before they could get too carried away. “And what about Dumbledore and Grindelwald?”

Harry chewed his words. Careful. “We know Dumbledore had connections. Wasn’t he in contact with Flamel before graduating?”

“That much has been known for years.”

The sun had begun setting when Cassie proposed a stroll down Knockturn Alley. Harry’s heart had missed a beat. His stare became suspicious. It’s like she waited until it was almost time for my meeting there… 

It was the first time Harry had been to Knockturn Alley without an adult, and the first time at night. The buildings looked ugly and grotesque in the light of day, their displays odd but unimpressive. That changed at night, when most of the alley’s light came from its larger and more well-lit neighbour. Things that looked comical before lost their humour and made hairs rise on the back of Harry’s neck. He fingered his wand, ready to draw at a moment’s notice.

No need had come by the time the sun dipped below the tops of nearby buildings. Harry looked around, heart racing. Most of his friends looked unsurprised when he excused himself. Only Pansy asked after him whilst Crabbe and Goyle looked confused. The others were all hard to read.

Harry moved down the dark and deserted streets alone. Briefly he had considered wearing his cloak, but he had dismissed the idea. If I can’t handle walking down an alley, how will I ever be ready for someone like Black?

Harry stopped in the shadow of a tall building that looked fit to collapse. Plaster peeled from rotting walls and mould crept across grease-stained windows.

“A charming place, isn’t it?”

This time he had warning — Regulus had given him the invitation days ago — but still the voice made Harry shiver.

“You look different,” he said, turning to face the man he knew was Voldemort. Gone was his chalk-white skin and gleaming red eyes, replaced by a strong jaw and carved, handsome cheekbones.

“Coming here would be ill-advised if I looked the same as when we last met.”

“You have a good memory. I doubt I could remember what I looked like years ago well enough to recreate it.”

If the comment surprised him, Voldemort showed no signs. “You would be surprised by the things a man remembers.”

“Occlumency, right? Something about improving memory recall?”

The Dark Lord smiled. “Or maybe you would be unsurprised. Has Dumbledore begun teaching you Occlumency?”

Harry knew his expression had given away and saw no reason to lie. “It was the only way he’d tell me the prophecy.”

“The old man always liked his secrets.” Voldemort raised a hand and Harry could feel… something change. Weird. It’s like the wards in Grindelwald’s memory, but I can’t sense magic like him. “Occlumency can be used to recall memories perfectly.”

Bloody hell, that sounds useful. “Passive Occlumency, I’m guessing?” Voldemort nodded. “I haven’t learned any of that yet.”

“What would you say if I pointed out that you were using it as we speak?”

What? Harry frowned. “Probably that I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Any time you force yourself calm or inspect your own emotions, you’re using a form of Passive Occlumency.” His blue eyes sparkled. “The form is just less interesting than others you could use.”

“What would you do if I asked you for that? If my one request was for you to help me master Occlumency.”

Voldemort spread his hands. “I would see you become among the world’s best.”

Him and Grindelwald talk the same way. It’s like they already know their goals will happen just like they plan. It was hard not believing them.

Voldemort leant forward. “Is this what you’re asking of me?”

“I don’t know yet,” Harry admitted. “I’m still thinking.”

“So you have not yet come to a decision?”

“Not yet.” The path looked clear, but that last step was daunting. There was still one thing he planned on doing before taking that leap.

“You have until the summer’s end,” said Voldemort, turning away from him. Harry watched him step into the shadows and vanish without a sound. Why does everything have to be so complicated?

Author’s Endnote:

This part of the story is very delicate and I hope that I’m communicating Harry’s thoughts and feelings well. They’re important, but I don’t want to make my old mistakes and spend rambling paragraphs on them where there is really no need.

Please read and review.

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