Perversion of Purity
Year 3: The Looming of Shadows
Chapter 16: Demons
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, Regress, and Thanos for their incredible work on this story.
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November 6, 1993
The Slytherin Common Room
The afternoon blurred by. It was like a fast-paced duel, one face blending with the next to form a tapestry of meaningless people offering him meaningless praise. It was his first real afterparty — his first win had seen him unconscious in the hospital wing, and the next had come during the height of last year’s panic — yet it felt unearned. It would feel nice being praised for something I actually did, if I had done anything. Weasley wasn’t even near me.
Yet still they gathered round, offering food, sweets, even firewhiskey — whatever he wanted. The team was in a place of high honour, and the house reveled in their victory.
Harry was just happy to escape the cold and rain. The rest meant little — less still when the afternoon began to age. Pansy squeezed into his chair and practically straddled him as she prattled on and on about his catch. This wouldn’t be so bad if she talked normally.
That was about when Harry decided he’d had enough and headed for the Chamber of Secrets, where he practiced magic until exhaustion filled his lungs. A trip back through time saw him in the library, creeping into the Restricted Section thanks to his cloak. If anything in the library will help me get stronger, it will be in here.
The sky grew dark outside and exhaustion prompted Harry’s return to the common room. The party had continued, but it was more subdued now. Groups of older boys quietly bantered, clustered around bottles of firewhiskey. More students were gathered in corners, their limbs and lips tied tightly together. Harry looked away from them, blushing, and spotted his friends.
Pansy beamed. “Harry! Where have you been? I’ve missed you!” There was a thick layer of pink in her cheeks.
I guess the alcohol got passed around to the lower years, too. “I needed some air and got a bit carried away. Sorry, Pansy, but I’m exhausted. I’m heading up to bed.”
Draco yawned. “I’ll join you. I’m bored and want some sleep.” It almost looks like he’s tried already. His skin was a shade paler than usual and dark shadows lurked beneath his eyes.
“Are you okay?” Harry asked when they were out of earshot.
Draco nodded curtly. “I’m fine.”
Sure you are, Draco. “You should get some dreamless sleep from Madam Pomfrey. You look like you need it.”
A shadow passed across Draco’s face. “How would you know? The dementors don’t seem to bother you.”
“Just because the dementors don’t bother me doesn’t mean I don’t know. I used quite a bit of dreamless sleep this summer.” At least when I didn’t want to dream about Grindelwald.
Draco sneered. “I’m not walking past all those people and then coming back in with a dreamless sleep potion. That would be pathetic.”
“You don’t need to; there’s a passage out of here near the dorms.”
Draco pursed his lips. “I’ve never heard of it.”
“It’s not exactly the sort of thing most people can find.” Harry stopped when the tunnel thinned and turned towards the wall on his left. “Open.” Draco flinched as the wall moved noiselessly aside. “What?”
“Pardon me for not being used to my friend hissing at walls.”
“You’ll get there eventually. Come on.”
One of the forks up ahead led down to another tunnel Harry suspected would bring him to the chamber, but if they followed the upwards sloping passage straight ahead, they would be deposited near the hospital wing.
Madam Pomfrey bustled out from her office the second the pair entered. “Mister Potter, Mister Malfoy. What happened?”
“Nothing serious, ma’am. Draco and I just wanted some dreamless sleep.” Hopefully Draco won’t kick up a fuss if I ask for it, too. Harry’s face twitched as he suppressed a grimace. I’ll probably need it at some point, anyway.
“That must be Weasley,” Draco whispered when Madam Pomfrey went to fetch the potion, gesturing at a bed with its curtains pulled closed.
The dull thud of his body against the grass played inside Harry’s head. “Can you delay Madam Pomfrey for a minute?” Draco raised an eyebrow but nodded, and Harry cast a Silencing Charm on Weasley’s curtains before slipping through them.
Weasley bolted upright and reached for his wand. “Oh,” he said, wincing with his hand halfway there. “Potter, it’s you.”
“Expecting someone else?”
Weasley grimaced. “I heard Malfoy’s voice outside and figured he’d come to be a git.”
Harry raised an eyebrow. “Has he actually done that at all this year?”
Weasley opened his mouth, then closed it. “Mostly just sneered at me,” he admitted.
“Draco doesn’t seem all that interested in being a git for the sake of it. I think the chamber made him grow up a bit.”
Weasley’s expression darkened. “Guess I’m not the only one.”
“That’s what you relive when dementors come too close, isn’t it?”
Weasley looked down towards his feet. “I hate it,” he muttered. “I hate them more than anything.” He looked back up, a sudden gleam in his eye. “How do you do it?”
Harry frowned. “Do what?”
“Just shrug them off. They don’t even seem to bother you.”
That’s not the real question. Harry was pretty sure why he shrugged them off. My worst memories have no power over me; I’ve just gotten used to them, they don’t bother me anymore.
What confused him was their reactions any time he drew near. Once is a coincidence, but not twice. I’ve never seen them run from anyone else. It makes no sense.
Harry realized Weasley was waiting for an answer. “There isn’t much they can use against me. Once enough happens, you just learn to live with it.”
“How much has to happen before you get there?” There was a note of desperation in Weasley’s voice.
Harry’s stomach panged. This world needs serious fixing if two thirteen-year-olds are this broken. “I don’t know.”
Footsteps came from outside. Harry gave Weasley a strained parting smile before casting a Notice-Me-Not Charm on himself and slipping back out through the curtains just as Madam Pomfrey slid by him.
“New friend of yours?” Draco muttered as the pair left the hospital wing.
Harry ignored the jibe. “Just someone I have more in common with than I realized.”
“You and Weasley? He’s just a child.”
“I’d keep up with staying away from him if I were you,” Harry said as they re-entered the same passage from earlier. “Whatever you think of him, Weasley isn’t a child anymore.”
November 7, 1993
The Knight’s Room
Ron grunted and hurled his wand against the wall. A shower of white sparks exploded outwards before it clattered against the floor.
“Ron!” Hermione scolded. “What was the point of that?”
“I can’t do it!” he cursed, shutting his eyes against the warmth that stung at their corners.
That only made things worse. The sweet smile and platinum blonde hair of Luna Lovegood burned behind his eyes, her robes stained crimson and a ruby-encrusted hilt protruding from her chest.
Ron clawed desperately at the memory of Potter’s words. Is it true? How much crap do I have to go through? When is it gonna end? Ron tried clinging to that hope, but it slipped away, lost in a storm of cold and memory.
“Were you doing what Bill said?” Hermione asked.
Ron scowled. Bill’s advice had sounded so easy, but still nothing had happened. “Obviously,” he snapped through gritted teeth. “I’ve even tried different memories, but nothing works.”
Hermione chewed her lip. “Everyone says it’s complicated. You only just got Bill’s letter today. Maybe it just takes more practice.”
Ron’s skin itched as he tugged at several strands of fiery red hair. “I almost died, Hermione. If Dumbledore hadn’t been there…” his voice trailed off. Thinking it was one thing, but saying it was another. The heat beneath his skin had been quelled, replaced by icy cold. Ron swallowed a lump in his throat. “I can’t let that happen again. Someone might not be there to catch me next time.”
Hermione looked tired. She’s looked tired a lot lately, it’s weird. “Well, you clearly can’t force it. We’ve tried that for weeks and nothing’s happened.”
That same desperation returned. Ron wanted to run, or fly, or do anything but stand here drowning in sorrow. “What else can we do? I need to learn this.”
Hermione ran her fingers up and down the wall. “Professor Lupin drove the dementor from our compartment, right?”
Ron scowled. “I wouldn’t know, would I? That’s what you lot told me.”
“Right. He obviously knows how to cast it — you could always ask him.”
Ron considered. Why do I always need help from everyone. That resolve crumbled when he remembered icy fingers creeping through his veins and blood trickling across the chamber’s floor.
“All right,” he muttered, “I’ll ask Lupin soon. I doubt he’ll go for it, but I’ll ask.”
November 12, 1993
The Headmaster’s Office
A chime went off just as Harry stepped into Dumbledore’s office. “Ah, Harry, much has happened since we last met. Please, sit down.”
Harry took his usual seat across from Dumbledore. “It has, sir?”
“I’d say so. Last Saturday’s Quidditch match was quite eventful.”
Harry grimaced. “If by eventful you mean a nightmare.”
“Don’t complain too loudly. I imagine young Master Weasley would happily take your place.”
“I saw him out of the hospital wing a couple days ago.”
“I’ve been told his injuries healed well. Madam Pomfrey is very good at her job. I only wish those injuries had never occurred at all.”
Harry chewed his words. “The dementors are still here.”
“Yes. The minister has been quite stubborn. I’d hoped that Sirius Black’s attack would convince him his plan had failed.” Dumbledore’s face fell. “All it did was make him even surer that dementors must remain on hand.”
“Can you talk to them, sir? The dementors, I mean.”
“They can understand basic commands and give brief accounts.”
“I heard someone in the common room say the reason they rushed the pitch was because they were getting impatient to catch Black and was wondering if that was true.”
“They grow impatient, but not for Black’s capture. It matters very little to them whether or not Sirius Black is free. They want his soul.” A rare scowl crossed the headmaster’s face. “Failing that, they would happily take another.”
And the ministry wants these things near a school? “Do you think they’ll get worse if Black just stays hidden?”
“They’ll certainly grow more restless. I have done everything in my power to ensure that a repeat of last Saturday does not occur. I was most displeased.”
Harry suppressed a shiver. I’ve never seen him like this before; it’s the closest he’s ever been to angry. “Yes, sir.”
Dumbledore studied him. “I must admit that I am surprised. I expected them to trouble you.”
Harry’s pulse quickened. “They’re not exactly pleasant.”
“They are awful creatures. I am happy you avoided the worst of their effects, but I am also surprised.” Dumbledore slid his half-moon glasses down his nose. “May I ask you something personal?” Harry nodded, keeping a firm grip on his expression. “What happens when a dementor approaches?”
Can I tell him? That wasn’t the real question — the real question was whether he could lie and get away with it. There’s no point; it can’t be that big a deal and Dumbledore can keep a secret.
A bitter taste filled his mouth as he remembered sitting on the Black Lake’s bank and telling Weasley what really happened to Neville Longbottom. Sometimes he keeps them too well.
Harry carefully chose his words. “It’s really weird.”
Dumbledore stroked his beard. “Yes, I thought it might be.”
“I just feel cold, but they don’t seem to focus on me.” Harry hesitated. “When I flew near Draco, the dementors under us backed off.” He met the old man’s eyes. “Do you know why that is, sir?”
Dumbledore pondered. “I have never seen the dementors behave that way towards someone they have no dealings with.”
Harry frowned. Weird wording. “What do you mean, ‘no dealings with’?”
“Just that the dementors come to recognize certain witches and wizards. People like the Minister for Magic and the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement interact with them more often.” A shadow crossed Dumbledore’s face. “There are others throughout history who have allied themselves with the dementors. It is said that Ekrizdis had dominion over them the likes of which our ministry could only dream of.” The shadow darkened. “They also allied with Voldemort during the last war. I suspect they gave him a wide berth any time he came close.”
Another similarity between Voldemort and I… His stomach writhed. It doesn’t matter; I’ll be better, I swore I would.
“But why me?” he asked. “I’d never even seen a dementor before this year.”
Dumbledore’s expression was impassive. Too impassive. It’s like when I use Occlumency to hide something.
“It’s impossible to say,” he said at last. “I will think on it more, but it’s difficult to guess at something with no precedent.”
He’s hiding something, just like he always is. There was no point in pushing. Dumbledore was attached to his secrets and would share them only when he thought necessary. At least Voldemort and Grindelwald are open.
“What about my question from last time?”
Dumbledore rubbed his eyes. “That one is more easily answered.”
Harry’s eyes lit up. “You came up with something? Something I could use now if Black attacked?”
“What is it, sir?”
“It is a very potent variation of fire.” Harry’s heart lurched. He can’t mean… “I must warn you how dangerous this magic is and plead that you use it only if it means life or death.”
Harry nodded while butterflies beat inside his stomach. “Of course.”
“The spell’s incantation is Ignis Potentia, and there is no specific wand movement. You will find that it requires especially strong malice to cast.”
So not Fiendfyre, then. “Why is it so dangerous, sir?”
“Because unlike the basic conjuration, this fire is imbued with your intent and will eat straight through most things.” His expression grew pensive. “That and the nature of the intent. The malice that one must feel to cast this spell should not be felt lightly. That would be a dangerous habit to encourage.”
Harry almost scoffed. It sounds like what idiots told Grindelwald at Durmstrang. There’s no such thing as addiction to magic. Just use Occlumency.
He just smiled, voicing none of those thoughts. “I understand, sir. Thank you.”
Harry watched with bated breath as Astoria raised her wand. If this doesn’t work, I’ve really got nothing… not sure Grindelwald does, either.
Harry closed his eyes.
Astoria’s joyful cry gave away the results. Harry opened his eyes. Her wand glowed more brightly than was normal, but the spell no longer blinded him.
So Grindelwald was right, but how? His theory had been that, somehow, Astoria was conducting abnormally high amounts of magic. But he said power doesn’t mean that much? How can she be so powerful?
“It worked!” Astoria beamed. “It actually worked!”
Harry smiled. “It’s still brighter than it should be, but it’s good progress.”
She frowned. “I tried doing what you said. I tried imagining just a little bit of light and like I was trickling the magic.”
“I know. You did well, it’s just something you’ll need to practice.” She had done it faster than he had expected. Grindelwald had warned it would be difficult without Occlumency.
Astoria bounced up and down in her chair. “Are we going to try other spells?”
Harry considered it, then shook his head. “Once you can get the Lumos spell to shine faintly, we’ll move on. That’s still pretty bright. I’m not sure what would happen with harder spells.”
Astoria pouted, but the effect was ruined by the joy in her eyes. “Thank you.” Her voice shook. “I thought that after a few weeks, you’d give up.”
Something sharp stabbed at Harry’s innards, tearing a cold pit deep in his stomach.
“You take something from a person by betraying them. You leave behind a cold void that can never be replaced.”
He made himself grin. “Not a chance.” Astoria beamed back at him. “It’s just about practice,” he said. “Soon, you’ll be better than—” his voice trailed off.
Something’s wrong. Harry focused. The ward… it’s been tripped.
There had been several ideas for Harry’s next area of study after nonverbal magic. Grindelwald had first proposed the Disillusionment Charm, but Harry had shot him down.
“I don’t understand why you fight against such a pragmatic spell.”
“I’m not fighting against it, It’s just not as useful for me as it is for other people. It feels like a waste when I could learn something else.”
That was when Harry revealed his cloak. There had been nothing else to do; Grindelwald was unrelenting until he did. Still he was skeptical and quick to point out the flaws in invisibility cloaks, but he did eventually back down and proposed something more interesting — something that would prevent someone like Black from sneaking up on him again:
It was harder than nonverbal casting, harder than anything Harry had ever done. It will be worth it — any advantage is key.
Sensing his own magic was easiest and he felt the change in the ward. Harry glanced over Astoria, spying a pair of sapphire eyes watching them around the nearest bookshelf. She does not look happy.
Harry glanced at Astoria, worried how she might react. Her eyes darted between Harry and her sister. She doesn’t want to leave… I have her.
Savage pleasure blazed inside him. Checkmate, Greengrass.
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