Perversion of Purity
Year 3: The Looming of Shadows
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, Thanos, and Yoshi89 for their incredible work on this story.
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September 6, 1993
The Great Hall
Harry felt energized at lunch when he entered the Great Hall flanked by Theodore and Pansy. Their last lesson before lunch had been Charms and Harry had stayed behind to ask some more advanced questions. Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle had gone on ahead, but Theodore and Pansy had waited.
Harry and the others had entered that morning to find a blazing sun smiling down at them from the enchanted ceiling far above. It was the first bit of sun any of them had seen since their arrival at Hogwarts. Harry had heard some students muttering about how the dementors had brought with them a perpetual downpour of rain and gloom.
Between the bright weather and their last Charms lesson, Harry was feeling better than he had in days. Flitwick was one of the first professors to let them cast magic instead of slogging through reviews of last year’s curriculum or, in the case of Harry’s new classes, teaching the basics.
Or doing whatever the hell Trelawney’s doing. What a waste of time. I’d feel cheated if I didn’t get a time turner… Snape had wanted him to take all the classes, but he had refused to sit through Muggle Studies. They had argued, but Harry had won. His four classes were still impossible without the time turner, so there hadn’t been much Snape could say. Guess it means I can’t drop Divination, though. Pity.
Harry’s eyes sought out Granger. She was sitting with Weasley and looked unchanged. Figures, the year’s barely started. It would be interesting to watch the strain on her this year. She’s taking more classes than me and probably doesn’t know Occlumency. We’ll see how worth it these time turners are.
“What took you so long?” Draco asked once Harry took his seat.
“I was just asking Flitwick something about a spell we’ll learn later this year.”
“What was it?”
Harry frowned. Weird, Draco’s never been interested in this stuff. “I know we’ll learn the Cheering Charm this year, so I asked if there was a spell that did the opposite. I think it was the dementors that made me think of it.”
Draco pushed away his half-eaten plate. “And what did he say?”
“He said we won’t be learning any charms like that.”
Draco scowled. “So he didn’t answer the question.”
“Not really, but I bet there is. He would have just said no if not.”
“There is,” Theodore said quietly. “It’s a curse, not a charm. I’m not surprised Flitwick didn’t tell you.”
“How do you know that?” Draco asked, his scowl deepening.
Theodore looked around, ensuring others were occupied in their own discussions. “I don’t know the incantation or what it’s actually called, but Father’s always called it the Suicide Curse.” Hairs stood up on the back of Harry’s neck. This sounds lovely… “Grindelwald made it famous in the twenties and thirties. It’s how he got rid of a bunch of high-ranking officials who opposed him.”
Harry kept his composure, but barely. Why does that surprise me? Why does every awful thing I hear about Grindelwald surprise me? Was it because of seeing his past? Had Harry grown too close to him? Had he begun overlooking everything he had done? I’ll get more context soon; he’ll definitely show me stuff from the war.
Draco twirled a fork between his fingers. “I’ve never heard of it.”
“I’m not surprised. I don’t recall you having ancestors who fought on Grindelwald’s side.”
Harry nearly dropped his own fork. The Notts fought for Grindelwald? Why? They were among the harshest blood supremacists in Britain and Grindelwald viewed all magicians as equals. They must have seen an advantage in it somewhere. I’ll ask him about it; that and the Suicide Curse.
“If you’re all quite finished,” said Pansy, sliding back into her spot beside Harry, who blinked; he hadn’t realised she had left. “I have gossip.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “You always have gossip. No offence, but I personally don’t care who was caught in a broom cupboard by the patrols last night.”
Pansy sneered at him. “I’ll have you know that no one was caught last night, thank you very much, and that this gossip is more up your alley.”
“Go on, then,” Draco said with a long, suffering sigh. He really is a jerk to Pansy. I know he’s joking a lot of the time, but he never shuts up.
“We’re going to be fighting boggarts today.”
Draco really did drop his fork and Theodore nearly cut himself with the knife he was holding. “What?” he asked, putting the knife aside.
“That’s what Lupin has done so far with all the third years. We have his class today, don’t we?”
“Right after lunch,” Harry confirmed, mind racing.
“A boggart?” Theodore asked, casting his eyes about the Great Hall. It’s like he’s looking for an escape. “Is he mad?”
“He’s something,” sneered Draco. “I doubt anyone who dresses like that can be sensible.”
Harry looked away, remembering the rags he’d worn on Privet Drive. No. That’s over, you’re never going back. Think about other things. The first thing he thought about was fighting a boggart; that was hardly any better.
“How’s it going to work?” Theodore asked Pansy. “Are we going to wait out in the hall or something while one of us fights the boggart at a time?”
Pansy chewed her lip. “The others all fought the boggart in the same room, one after the other.”
Harry imitated Draco in sneering. Bloody hell, he really is mad.
About an hour later, in the Defence Against the Dark Arts Classroom…
Lupin’s classroom was more like Aberforth’s than Quirrell’s. The walls were bare and his desk was empty but for a stack of parchment. The curtains were pulled back and sunlight spilled through the large glass windows, leaving bright pools on the otherwise empty walls.
Lupin shuffled some parchment then set it down atop his desk. Draco had a point; never had Harry seen a professor look so unfit for the job. His robes were tattered and fraying at the edges, all colour long-lost from them. His skin was thin and pale, his hair patched and greying.
Lupin had hardly finished taking the roll when Theodore’s hand went up. Lupin raised an eyebrow and pointed to him. “I’ve heard a rumour that you plan to have us face a boggart.”
The professor furrowed his brow. “Whoever passed it along is well-informed.”
“So it’s true?”
“That’s the plan for today, yes.”
“Isn’t that unsafe?” Greengrass asked.
Lupin frowned. “Unsafe?”
“Being thrown at a boggart just seems extreme. What happens if someone reacts poorly? What happens if the experience leads to trauma?”
Harry resisted the urge to glare. Why must I agree with her? Why can’t she just be wrong for once in her life?
Lupin looked unperturbed. “Boggarts can elicit some strong reactions, but that’s exactly why I think it’s important to cover them.”
Greengrass chewed her lip. “That sounds somewhat counterintuitive, Professor.”
“Does it? I would think you’d rather first meet a boggart in a classroom than at random whilst unprepared.” Greengrass had no answer to that. “Are there any other objections?”
“I heard you made the others face the boggart in front of the class,” said Theodore.
Lupin‘s lips thinned. “I did.”
“I won’t do that.”
The professor shrugged. “I can’t force you to. You may leave if you’d like, but it will be covered on the end-of-year exam and you may want the preparation.”
“You really mean to have us face our darkest fears in front of the entire class?” Draco asked with his trademark sneer. “Do you realize how dimwitted that is?”
Lupin appeared frustrated now, fingering the tears along the edges of his robe.
“Have you ever thought to consider that I might have my own reasons for overlooking those risks?”
“Did you ever stop to consider that some of us may actually have gone through traumatic experiences we don’t want others knowing about?” Greengrass asked.
“I will not have any of you face a boggart alone.” Lupin’s tone became sharp for the first time. “I understand why some of you may be concerned, but this is the only way I feel comfortable conducting this lesson. The more of you there are on hand, the more confused the boggart will be.” Greengrass backed down again. Draco muttered something about his father under his breath. “Tell him if you wish,” said Lupin, “I’m sure he knows that boggarts rarely take the forms of more serious fears.” How the hell did he hear that?
“What do you mean?” Greengrass asked.
“Boggarts become a manifestation of fear, but not always the fear itself. It’s easy for a boggart to become a spider when faced with someone who’s arachnophobic. It’s harder for a boggart to match deeper fears like failure because that doesn’t have a single form. I think some of you might be surprised at how little your boggarts actually give away.”
Lupin offered them all one final chance to leave. When no one took it, he led them into the staff room. It was large, dark with its curtains drawn and empty but for the class and a cabinet that rattled violently when they entered.
Harry eyed the cabinet. What is my boggart? The question had plagued him since lunch, but he had no answers. Years ago it would have been Vernon, but he was past that now. Many children may fear Voldemort, but Harry knew his boggart would not be the Dark Lord. Wylla Nurmen, maybe? That feels most like what it would have been last year.
Harry still had no inkling by the time Millicent Bulstrode faced the boggart. It became a bloodless corpse, its eyes dark, chalk-white hands outstretched. Davis’s boggart was a pair of dead bodies belonging to who could only be her parents, whilst Moon’s became a rabid werewolf.
Harry was beginning to realize by the time the first of his friends moved forward that he would face the boggart unaware. It doesn’t matter; I got through Privet Drive, this will be nothing.
Harry had just enough time to see crimson eyes frame a snake-like face before Lupin stepped in front of Goyle and the boggart became something round and silver. The moon? Why would he be afraid of the moon. The better question was why Goyle would be afraid of Voldemort. I expected people would, but not purebloods whose parents were probably Death Eaters.
The line of students thinned. Pansy’s boggart was tame after Goyle’s — herself, but skeletally thin and wearing robes that made Lupin look well-dressed. Zabini was next, faced with the corpse of a beautiful woman.
Theodore hid a snicker. “The Black Widow’s son is afraid of his mother’s death? How ironic.”
Crabbe’s boggart was taller and bulkier than he was, but it resembled him so closely that Harry wondered, for a moment, whether he was afraid of himself. Then he realized it must be his father. He made fists so tight that his nails bit at his palms. This he could empathize with. It would have been my guardians if we did this two years ago. A sick part of him was glad, not for Crabbe’s pain, but for his own empathy. I’m changing, but not in bad ways. I can still feel sorry for people — Grindelwald isn’t brainwashing me, or anything.
Crabb’s hand shook so violently that his wand looked fit to fall from loosely clutching fingers. It’s like when the dementor walked in. Harry wondered how many dementors Lupin had seen in these lessons. Not that it will be mine… that whole thing still makes no sense.
“Next!” Lupin called, realizing Crabb’s plight. Harry stepped forward, but Draco was faster. His legs trembled, but his head remained high. His might be a dementor, Harry thought, but then dismissed it. Probably upsetting his father, or something.
The boggart was at least as tall as Lucius, but its hair and eyes were too dark, its skin too pale.
Harry restrained a gasp — Draco’s boggart was Tom Riddle.
Draco’s arm halted, his wand half-raised. Riddle smiled, holding up his hand. A ring gleamed on his finger, etched with something Harry could not read, blinded by torchlight sparkling off a deep, green emerald.
“RIDDIKULUS!” Blue flashes so brightly that, for a moment, Harry could see nothing at all. When it faded, Riddle remained, kneeling at Draco’s feet with his head bowed and wearing house-elf garb.
Riddle… Draco’s afraid of Riddle. What did that mean? Was it just because of how close they’d come to death, or was there more?
“Boggarts become a manifestation of fear, but not always the fear itself. It’s easy for a boggart to become a spider when faced with someone who’s arachnophobic. It’s harder for a boggart to match deeper fears like failure because that doesn’t have a single form. I think some of you might be surprised at how little your boggarts give away.”
It could mean a hundred things.
Harry leant forward when Greengrass faced the boggart. It still sickened him just looking at her. If the last year had taught him anything, it was how much he loathed treachery. Not to mention she tried killing me… I’ll get her for that.
A young girl screamed, pulling out clumps of brown hair whilst her face twisted in apparent agony. Greengrass waved her wand and there was a flash of blue light, then the girl was smiling, the light of laughter in her eyes. She looks familiar.
“Her sister,” Pansy whispered in his ear. She had come back around after facing her boggart.
Harry could have smacked himself. That was where he had seen her. So what? She’s afraid of her sister being in pain? Something told him that was wrong and that this was another less literal boggart. She didn’t want me seeing it, that must be why she pressed Lupin so hard. A smile split his face. That’s it, that’s how I get back at her. It would need more thought. I won’t hurt a little girl, but there must be another way.
Theodore moved towards the boggart, his footsteps echoing in the otherwise silent room. He was the final student in line aside from Harry. What is his boggart? He looks awful.
The boggart changed. Hovering just feet from Theodore was a green skull from whose mouth protruded a serpent — Theodore’s worst fear was the Dark Mark.
Why? His father’s a Death Eater, he admitted it himself. That makes no sense.
The dark mark contorted and became discoloured until it was a pale cloud drifting towards through the dark staff room. He drew his wand. Let’s see what it is, then.
Lupin stepped between him and the cloud. There was a flash of blue light, then the boggart was gone. “It seems that I’ve misjudged the time,” the professor said, his smile strained. “You all did excellent. There will be no homework today.”
Harry felt the stares on his back when they left the room. Let them stare. Lupin must have thought his boggart would be Voldemort given his past. Not facing it would make the exam more difficult, but he hardly minded. Seeing the livid look on Greengrass’s face when the lesson ended was worth it. How does it feel when things don’t go your way, Greengrass? Curiosity gnawed at him despite the victory. I wonder what it would have been.
September 9, 1993
The Headmaster’s Office
Ron looked around the circular room, hardly believing he was here. I doubt even Fred and George have been here. Percy — perfect, Head Boy Percy — probably had been, but it was something to rub in the twins’ faces later.
A soft squawk drew Ron’s attention. He actually jumped when he saw the phoenix lift its head.
Dumbledore chuckled from behind his desk. “Fawkes inspires the most delightful reactions.”
Ron blushed furiously. “I thought he was a statue,” he mumbled. The bird had been soundless and sleeping not a heartbeat before.
Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled. “That is certainly a first. Thank you for bringing me something unique. I’m so rarely surprised in my old age — and, when I am, the surprise is usually of the unpleasant variety.”
Ron grasped for words. “Uh… you’re welcome, sir.”
“I think we have talked enough about birds and surprises. Come, take a seat.” Ron obliged him, suddenly wary. What does he want? I haven’t done anything.
“You aren’t in trouble,” Dumbledore said as if reading his mind. “Quite the opposite.”
“Quite. I have heard some worrying third-hand accounts involving you and wanted to ask after you.”
Ron screwed up his face and thought. The answer came fast. “Lupin told you?” he asked. “He said he wouldn’t, he swore no one else…“ Ron trailed off when Dumbledore raised a hand for silence.
“It is Professor Lupin. Always address people by their correct names, Master Weasley.”
Ron’s blush returned. “Sorry.”
“It is a lesson many young people must learn; you are not the first and you will not be the last. You can take solace knowing that Professor Lupin did not tell me about the events of your first practical lesson in Defence Against the Dark Arts.”
Ron wracked his brain, trying to think of who may have told Dumbledore. The possibilities were disturbingly numerous. Most of Gryffindor House had been talking about, sans a few girls who mocked Hermione for her boggart — herself, puffy-eyed and dressed in tattered robes. That had confused Ron. She said it had nothing to do with being poor but wouldn’t explain. Girls.
Not that he could judge anyone — his boggart had reminded him of that in the most painful way possible.
Earlier that week…
Ron wondered, not for the first time, what it meant to be brave. Gryffindors were supposed to be bold and courageous, but his knees were shaking and he felt anything but brave. Thinking about what was coming just made it worse. That horrible cold, those rattling breaths, that slimy grey hand that had protruded from the monster’s sleeve…
The boggart began changing and Ron readied himself. How the hell do I make a dementor funny? I’m not ready! I…
Someone screamed. Hermione stared up at him through lifeless eyes. Ron stared. The front of her robes were drenched in blood, its crimson fingers reaching out across the floor. The wound was in her chest — a gaping, sword-shaped wound that had already killed her. Just like it killed Luna… just like I killed Luna…
Ron gasped for air. It felt like he was flailing beneath the water, trying to gather his thoughts. It’s not real! It’s not real! It’s not real!
How could one find humour in death? How could anyone think of something to laugh at whilst staring their greatest failure in its lifeless face? Ron’s lips moved, but no words came out. His arm began dropping, the room spun past him, torches spinning past his eyes.
Ron stumbled back from the flash of blue light only to find that Lupin had stepped between him and the boggart and was now forcing it back into the cabinet.
The fear was gone, but there was no relief. Ron thought he would rather face the boggart ten more times than feel how he felt now. Nothing was worse than knowing he had failed again.
Back in the present…
“I see that you’re confused,” said Dumbledore, bringing Ron’s attention back to the present. “There is no need for you to puzzle out the truth, I intend to tell it to you.”
Ron blinked. “You do?”
Dumbledore smiled. “I can hardly expect you to be honest if I myself sit across from you on a throne of secrets.”
Fawkes let out a trill that clawed at Ron’s heart. It was cold and unlike the music felt down in the Chamber of Secrets. Guilt twisted at his stomach, but there was nothing to be guilty for. “What was that?”
Dumbledore looked ten years older. “A reminder.”
Barmy, he is. Brilliant, but barmy. “I, uh, don’t mean to be rude, but why am I here?”
“Ah yes, we have strayed from the topic at hand. My apologies. I have never been good at staying topical.” Dumbledore slid his half-moon spectacles down his nose and peered at Ron. ”I was told about your boggart by Professor McGonagall, who was in turn told by Miss Granger.”
Ron jolted. “Hermione?”
“She worries for you. Most children your age fear mundane things they may one day grow out of. What that boggart became is something darker, the root of scars that may never heal. Miss Granger was right to worry.”
“So what?” Ron asked, his hands moving restlessly in his lap. “Are you gonna ask me what it means or something?”
“Heavens no. I can guess what it means, but my interpretation matters little and it is not my place to ask such questions. I will listen and offer advice if you ask for it, but I will not press you. I want only to know how you’re handling the events of the past two years.” His expression soured. “I ought to have had this talk with you long ago. You have my sincerest apologies for overlooking the traumatic end of your first year. That was callous of me.”
Ron had been unprepared for this. What am I supposed to say? Dumbledore was a mythical figure like Circe or Merlin. “Thanks, sir, but I don’t think there’s anything you can do. It’s just… hard.”
“May I ask a potentially invasive question that you are under no obligation to answer?” Ron nodded; what else was he going to do? “What is it that troubles you most?”
Ron’s answer was immediate and painful. “That I could have saved them.”
Dumbledore closed his eyes; he looked even older now. “You could not have saved them.”
“Maybe not Neville,” Ron admitted, remembering the true tale of his old friend’s death — a tale that Dumbledore thought he knew not. “I could have saved Luna, though.”
Dumbledore opened his eyes; they were wet and filled with sadness. “I was not in the Chamber of Secrets, so I will not argue. I will say only this. Those who experience loss often wonder what they could have done. Your mind might conjure a hundred ideas, but they are nothing more than dreams. Anyone who is good and kind must know they did all they could. It is hard, but necessary. It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
This is why Dumbledore’s so great. He was wiser than any man Ron had ever known. I’d be dumb not to ask while I’m here. “What would you do if you were me?”
“Do not dwell on those dreams, but hold onto them and remember what the lost mean to you. Think of them during times of need and continue forward. Light can be found even in the darkest of places. Remember that, Ronald, it is of the utmost importance.”
Meanwhile, in the dungeons…
Tonight was Harry’s first Occlumency lesson with Snape and he couldn’t quite decide how he felt. Harry was ready to endure the worst Snape had to offer, but still he was excited. The prospect of reduced strain was becoming more welcome with each passing day — a night had yet to pass without Harry completely crashing.
Someone moved behind him and Harry turned, wand raised, ready for Greengrass, one of her plans, or even Sirius Black.
“I should probably have warned you I was coming up behind you.”
Harry glared at Theodore. “Do that next time.”
“I’ll keep it in mind.” The pair fell into step together. “Where are you off to?”
Harry grimaced. “I’m supposed to learn something interesting, but we’ll see.”
The two plunged deeper into the dungeons, nearing the dark room Snape called his office. Harry waited. Theodore was pondering something and would speak when he was ready; Harry knew that about him by now.
“Why did Lupin stop you from facing the boggart?”
Harry took a few more steps before he answered. “He never told me.”
“But you know, don’t you?”
Harry sighed. “I think he expected it to be the Dark Lord.”
Silence hung between them. “Would it have been?”
Harry cast a handful of detection charms under his breath, but they were alone. “You think I would have accepted a truce if I was that afraid?”
Theodore shrugged. “It would be a good way to stay safe.”
“It would be a good way to get betrayed.” Harry forced himself not to shudder. “I guess that might still happen, but here’s hoping.” I just need to buy time. One day, I’ll be strong.
Theodore shook his head. “The Dark Lord would be mad to betray you. He understands what kind of ally you could be.”
Do you understand that, Theodore? Harry wondered. Is that why you’ve been so involved lately? Things had begun adding up. First the book of Nott family magic, then continuously choosing him in small ways over Draco, then his attentiveness to the smallest of Harry’s needs.
Harry rid himself of those thoughts. Don’t be so paranoid, you’re friends. “What about yours?” he asked.
“Your boggart. It was the Dark Mark, but I don’t understand why.”
Theodore’s next step was awkward and he nearly stumbled. “The Dark Lord… wasn’t pleased with those who used the Imperius Defence,” he said, recovering. “He saw it as a sign of disloyalty. I still worry that he might snap at Father.”
Liar. Harry knew not why he was so sure, but he was. There’s something more he isn’t telling me. There was no point in prying; Theodore would reveal no more than he had already. Add it to the list, he thought, remembering the other fears he would be investigating.
September 15, 1993
The Ancient Runes Classroom
Hermione strained to watch him through the crowd, marked by a head of unruly black hair. A first year squeaked when she shoved him roughly aside, but she paid him no heed. “Potter!”
His steps stuttered and he glanced over his shoulder, fingers flexing. “Granger?”
“Can I have a word?”
Surprise passed across his face, but not for long. “Sure. Follow me.” They wove through the bustling crowd on its way down to dinner and around the next bend, through a tapestry Hermione had never noticed and into a secret passageway hidden behind it. The crowd’s bustling was still audible, but muffled by the walls and tapestry.
“This good enough?” She nodded. “All right, then. What was it you wanted?”
Hermione reached beneath the collar of her robes and withdrew the golden hourglass. “You have one of these.” It was not a question.
She waited for him to fidget, but instead he smiled. “Caught on, have you?”
She narrowed her eyes. Is he mocking me? I can’t tell. “I noticed the first week but wanted to be sure.” She crossed her arms, frustration mounting when his smile turned knowing. Her cheeks flushed with sudden knowing.“You knew I had one!”
His smile faltered. Now he ran a hand through his hair, finally discomforted. Good. “Snape told me the day I got mine.”
That’s horribly unfair! Professor McGonagall had made no mention of another time turner inside Hogwarts. She scowled; it was just another example of Snape’s blatant favouritism. Not that it really matters.
She scowled. “How do you look so calm? This is insane!”
His expression smoothed. “Yeah,” he admitted, shifting from foot to foot. “That’s about what I thought when Snape gave me the time turner.”
“That’s it? You just thought it was insane and moved on?”
His look made her eye twitch, the look of someone inspecting a slow child. “Granger, what else was I supposed to do? I wasn’t going to complain and give it back.”
“It doesn’t bother you that they’ll just give these out to children?” She placed her hands on her hips, glaring slightly up at him. “What about the dementors, or the blood supremacy, or everything else wrong?”
His face twitched but he hid his thoughts well. Too well, she thought, resisting a shiver. That’s not natural. “It bothers me,” he admitted. “Less the time turners and more some of the other things, but we’re students. We can’t do anything yet.”
Her heart quickened, visions of change swimming behind her eyes. “Do you think things can be changed? Do you think people like us can make this world make any sense?”
Potter appeared to chew his words, his face void of all emotion. “There are always ways to change things, but they’re usually messy.”
The pace will soon be picking up — fewer chapters are spent covering the year’s first couple of months compared to the last two books.
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