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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October 2, 1993
An Abandoned Classroom
Harry’s knee slammed against the stones, sending a lance of pain down his leg. It throbbed so fiercely that his previous pain was forgotten.
Both pains vanished. Harry still felt muscles wriggling beneath his skin, but they were beginning to calm. He took a deep breath.
“Don’t rush to your feet,” came a voice from some distance away.
Harry gave himself a moment, then stood. The pain was gone but his right leg was stiff. It felt like the muscles of his calf had curled into a tight, unyielding ball.
Cassie tossed him his wand. “I never even saw the spell,” he admitted. “What was it? The Sfíximo Curse?”
Cassie raised an eyebrow. “I didn’t think you’d know the spell.”
Harry shrugged. “I read about it in the Black library.” The truth was that Harry had watched Grindelwald use the spell in a skirmish at Durmstrang.
Cassie flipped a lock of hair behind her ear. “It’s impressive how many spells you know for your age.”
“Was I right?” Harry asked. “Was it the spell you used?”
“It was. I almost missed — the spell clipped your leg as you sidestepped.”
Shame I didn’t step a bit further. “Can you show me the wand movement again? I’ve never actually cast it, but I’d rather avoid that one.”
Cassie traced her wand more slowly through the air. “There’s a countercurse, but I don’t envy anyone casting it on themselves. The curse isn’t easy to ignore or shrug off.”
“Maybe if you got hit with it enough times, your pain tolerance would just adapt.”
Her lips curved down. “I doubt it. There are ways of raising your pain tolerance quickly, but they’re frowned upon and considered unsafe.”
Harry gave her a piercing look. “You just conjured spikes under my feet and threw a minor torture curse at me and now you’re lecturing me about being safe?”
Cassie grinned. “I wasn’t lecturing you. I never once said you couldn’t do it or that I would hide it from you.”
“Then how do you do it?”
“There’s more than one way.”
Harry put on an exaggerated scowl. Is she trying to be difficult just for the sake of it? “What are they, then?”
Cassie chewed her words. Weird. She’s usually pretty open. “They’re… not natural things.”
Curiosity coiled tight about him. What is that supposed to mean? Harry held her gaze. “What are they?”
“I’ve heard of them.” A handful of books had referenced them, but never more than that. Not that the idea is hard to work out.
“Black family library again?” Harry nodded and she sighed. “No one in their right mind should ever have given you access to that place.” She was probably right given what he had seen. And I’ve avoided all the worst books. I wonder what’s hidden in them…
“So some of these rituals… what, boost your pain tolerance?”
Cassie twirled a strand of blonde hair. “There are different types. Most people just think they’re parts of horror stories, but my father’s said that they really can work. He just doesn’t think they’re worth it.”
“What do you mean by worth it?” Harry asked.
Now she was tugging on that same strand of hair. She looks stressed. “It’s complicated. You don’t just do a ritual and get better at something. There’s always risk and sacrifice, at least that’s how it is in the stories. You should ask someone who knows more than me. Just… be careful.”
That won’t be a problem. Between Voldemort and Grindelwald, there was a treasure trove waiting for him. I bet the Black Library has some books that actually explain them, too. Harry had hoped books like that lurked in the Chamber of Secrets, but he had found nothing so far. There has to be something down there; it can’t just be empty rooms.
Harry had planned to ask about Occlumency and whether that could be used to numb pain, but he decided against it. I should change the topic; she looks really stressed. “Have you found anything out about Astoria?”
Harry had asked Pansy to pass along a note about Astoria and ask whether or not Cassie would investigate the rumours. She was uniquely positioned as a sixth-year prefect; they worked closely with the first years and made sure their classes went smoothly.
Cassie stopped tugging at her hair. “I talked to her yesterday.”
“She was petrified just talking about it. It was weird.”
“That’s not that weird, is it? Aren’t most first years embarrassed if they don’t do well?”
“I don’t think she was embarrassed. She looked really stressed.”
Harry drummed his fingers on his knee. “Did she say anything?”
“Just that the rumours are true; her spells don’t work right. I know Pansy told you about the Lumos incident, but it’s not the only one. Her Colour Changing Charm turned the whole desk blue and it took Flitwick ages to turn it back. I’ve never heard of anything like it.”
His curiosity mounted. “That makes no sense.” Harry twirled his wand between his fingers. Now I’m actually curious. This was just supposed to be getting back at Daphne. It still was, he told himself, but there was another motive now. I don’t like not knowing things…
Harry’s footsteps echoed, mingling with his tangled thoughts. Should I feel guilty? Aren’t I just planning to do the same thing the Malfoys did to me? It made him uneasy but he forced those thoughts down. Better uneasy than blown up by a statue.
What surprised him was how easily Cassie followed his lead. Suspicion prodded him sharply. It would make sense if she’s working for Voldemort. It mattered not for now. Voldemort was on his side for the time being — he would worry about that if it changed.
That thought bothered him less now. No matter the morality of his plans, he felt better having them. Being in control of things after such a chaotic summer was a relief. One day I’ll feel like this all the time; one day I’ll control everything, I just need to be stronger.
A shadow crawled up a nearby wall; first a head, then the rest. I really need to work on noticing when people get close.
“Oh, it’s you,” said Draco, sliding his wand back up his sleeve.
Harry did the same, falling into step beside him. “I didn’t expect to find you wandering the halls.”
Draco’s cheeks filled with pink. “I‘ll have you know that I wasn’t wandering at all.”
“Walking, wandering — same thing, really.”
Draco sneered at him. “Are you going to ask where I was, or are we going to spend the next ten minutes talking around the point?”
Harry raised an eyebrow. Draco’s patience for quips and banter was shorter than he remembered. He’s been like this since the train ride. “What were you doing?”
The two boys walked in silence, unbroken until the common room loomed ahead. “I was practicing.”
Draco practicing? “Practicing what?”
“Isn’t that part obvious? Aren’t you supposed to be the smart one?”
“I’m not sure smart has anything to do with understanding you. Sanctity.” The stone wall slid aside, admitting them into the common room.
A wall of noise greeted their entrance. Older students clustered around bottles of fire whiskey whilst lower years quibbled over cards or chess. Some students worked in the common room’s corner, shrouded in shadow and slaving over piles of parchment. They almost make me not like Saturdays. Two armchairs sat unoccupied near the fire, surrounded by naught but empty space.
Harry glanced towards the armchairs. Draco sighed, but nodded. We’ve hardly spent any time alone since making up.
“You were practicing magic in secret, weren’t you?”’ Draco nodded, staring into the fire. “Was it the boggart? Did it represent something about the Chamber of Secrets?”
“The Chamber of Secrets?” Draco asked. “What does that have to do with anything?”
Harry studied him but saw no signs of deception. Why is Tom Riddle his boggart, then? Why is everything so confusing lately?
“Just a guess,” he said. “I thought it might have represented the way you felt after Diana was captured or something. It would explain why you started practicing.” Draco just shook his head. “So what were you practicing for? Your grades are good, aren’t they?”
“My grades are fine, it isn’t about that.”
Harry considered the things that motivated him. Neville’s death, the Malfoys’ manipulations, Voldemort’s wand hovering just inches from his metaphorical throat…
“That feeling isn’t your boggart, but it’s why you’re practicing, isn’t it?” Draco gave no answer, but that was all the confirmation Harry needed. “What are you working on?”
Draco stared straight into the flames. “Curses.”
“Have you actually practiced with another person?” Draco shook his head. “You should ask Theodore if he wants in.” He would have offered himself, but he was busy enough and would just have thrashed Draco. That wouldn’t be helpful; Theodore’s a better match.
Draco twisted the fabric of his sleeve. “I’ll think about it.”
I expected him to just reject it. “You really have grown up. When you said it on the train, I was wondering if you were serious. You were, weren’t you?” Draco nodded. “What changed?”
That could mean anything. His tone was enough to make up Harry’s mind. “If you ever need help with anything, let me know.”
Draco finally looked up from the fire. “I didn’t think we were friends.”
Harry made himself smile. Draco’s earned this last chance; you can give him that. “We weren’t. We started over. I wanted proof that things would be different.” He offered Draco his hand. “I think this is enough proof for now.”
Draco hesitated for only a heartbeat before seizing his hand, wearing the first genuine smile Harry had seen on his face in months.
October 5, 1993
The Gryffindor Common Room
Ron stepped into the common room, flanked by Fred and George. Panes of glass rattled, shaken by the fierce winds outside. Ron shivered in memory.
Their practice had started smoothly. It was a bright, clear night flecked by a thousand shining stars. The air was warm and the visibility was excellent; they could not have asked for better conditions.
Then the wind had died and an awful cold seeped through Ron’s blood, halting his breath and chilling his bones. A hundred shadows glided over the high-winged gates, floating towards the pitch. Ron’s grip had slackened as he buried a ruby-encrusted sword into Luna Lovegood’s chest over and over again, feeling it halt then sink deeper each and every time.
George had noticed his plight and signalled to Wood, who ended the practice. Ron had been dragged into the changing room, where he remained until the dementors retreated back off the grounds.
“I don’t get it,” he snarled once he and Hermione had been left alone, sitting near the fire. “How do you lot just deal with them when I almost fall off my bloody broom? It’s pathetic!”
“What’s pathetic is the fact they’re here at all,” Hermione said. “Honestly, I know Professor Dumbledore argued, but surely there must have been something he could do.”
Ron scowled. “Dumbledore’s lost some power. Not that he can overrule someone like the minister anyway.”
“But why would the minister want dementors near students? It’s so incredibly backwards!”
“I dunno, but I’d like to take one of those beaters’ bats and hit whoever suggested it over the head.”
“I just don’t understand how these people have any power in the first place. I thought we had it bad with some of the idiots in the muggle world, but then I came here.”
Ron tried to shrug, but the effect was ruined by a shiver. He wrapped the scarlet blanket more tightly around himself, trying not to think of bloody fingers stretching across the chamber’s floor each time he looked at it. “It’s just how it is.”
“But why?” asked Hermione. “Surely someone could do something?”
“I kind of just want to figure out what to do about those bloody dementors. I’m sick of feeling useless any time they’re around.”
Hermione looked out the window, scowling. “Yes, let’s focus on that.” She stood, looking expectantly down at him.
“Where are we going?” he asked, clutching at his blanket.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “The library, Ron, where else would we go to learn new spells?”
Don’t get too hung up on the teases about rituals and the Chamber of Secrets. Neither of them are going to dominate this story going forward, they’re just small pieces of a much larger puzzle.
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