Perversion of Purity
Year 3: The Looming of Shadows
Chapter 17: Seizing Power
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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July 13, 1924
Gellert stood on the highest slope of the mountain Wylla Nurmen had died atop. A crowd of shadows lurked below, looking up at him with wide eyes that sparkled under the magical light hovering between them. The night was clear and the moon pale, its light shimmering off Lake Königssee. The higher peaks surrounding Gellert’s perch loomed up from the darkness like shadowed giants peering down on them all.
Gellert had never felt as powerful as he did now. This was the place it had all begun. This was the place where so many had been slaughtered. Soon you can all rest. Justice will be served.
“My friends,” Gellert called out over the crowd, arms outstretched, “I bring you here tonight as brothers and sisters. You have heeded my call as individuals, but now we will be as one — united together for the greater good.”
It was not the first speech Gellert had given. Soon after concluding his research on the Inca people, he had followed the whispers of war back home to Europe and watched from afar.
The war was a petty thing, fought over the death of a muggle who should never have mattered. Magicians had no place in such squabbles unless it was to finally seize what was rightfully theirs.
Things had changed once the war ended. Germany boiled, stirred by the muggles and their foolishness.
The muggles were rallying around a group of speakers and Gellert had taken note. They’re more willing to listen now than ever before. Following the muggles’ lead sickened him, but he choked down the bile each time it rose. Nothing is not worth a perfect world; soon, it will be them who follow.
“Some of you have questioned me.” The crowd grew restless. Shadows shifted and gazes fell. “Do not hide your doubt.”
“I do not demand blind loyalty. It is not power I seek, but correctness. I yearn not for domination. I crave a society that favours the rare souls who were blessed with our gifts — gifts the muggles fear and envy. I dream of a world where dominion is decided by merit. I crave a world in which we do not live in fear of lesser beings who know only destruction.”
He let his arms fall back to his sides. “I do not demand your loyalty, simply your attention. You doubt me; that is good. It would be foolish to believe all I have told you about an unparalleled weapon and secrets long-lost. This revolution will not be led by fools.” Gellert let a cold smile touch his lips. “The time for talk has passed — the time for proof has come.”
The church doors burst open. Two wizards levitated four bodies towards him.
“We are joined today by Jonas Gustafsson — the priest of this church — along with his wife and his grandchildren, who are living with him after their parents’ tragic demise.”
The crowd jeered. Tears rolled down the children’s cheeks. The priest looked out over the crowd, pale and trembling.
Good. Let him fear the way I feared, let him hurt the way she hurt.
“Who here knows our noble priest?” More than a few voices called up to him. “What a wonderful coincidence. I happen to know Jonas quite well, though he will not remember.”
His eyes grew cold and reflected the icy storm blowing through his veins. “When I was but a boy, I came to this church each week with my mother. She was a muggle. My father loved her dearly and forsook magic for her. I knew naught of our power until a fateful day almost thirty years ago, when this man gave the order for a little girl to die.”
The crowd’s restless drone grew louder. “The girl was barely my own age, with eyes like blue ice and hair like spun silver. This man watched a crowd of muggles reduce her to nothing but a husk whose blood stained this place forever.”
Gellert let the crowd’s furious cries fill the night, then raised his hand for silence. “This is what happens when we let them rule. This is what happens when inferior beings shove great men aside.” A pale wand etched with faded runes slid from his sleeve. Gellert thrust the Death Stick skyward. “We will no longer live in shadow!”
“WE WILL NO LONGER LIVE IN SHADOW!” the crowd called back.
Gellert rounded on the priest. His head tilted up against his will, his mouth unbound. A choked gasp escaped him. “Please!” he begged. “Never again, I’ll never do it again. I won’t let them—”
“Them?” Gellert asked, his voice an icy whip. “You head the institution responsible for these crimes and you speak of others?”
“Can you not accept responsibility?”
“Silence!” The priest’s mouth remained open, but no sound escaped. “You will speak when spoken to, the way it should always have been.” Gellert flicked his wand and the priest lurched forward and kneeled against his will. “Say her name.”
“Her name, priest. I will hear you say it. The girl I watched you murder for her gift — say her name!”
His screams echoed off the surrounding mountains, thrown back over and over again until it sounded like a hundred men were screaming and begging for death.
Gellert lifted his wand and the man’s writhing ceased. “Her name,” he whispered. “Say her name.”
“N-N-Nurmen,” he choked through panting breaths, “Wylla Nurmen.”
“Good.” Gellert smiled. “Now I will show you what true power is.”
Gellert flicked his wand and the priest’s wife was thrown against the church so hard that something cracked. She hung feet off the ground, spread-eagle against the wall like Wylla had been all those years ago.
This is justice. This is how it should be.
“Silence.” Another flick of his wand and the man’s screams ceased. “This is the man who commands our future. This is the man who sentences our children to death. I ask you what power he holds that gives him such authority. Ponder this while I show him what his evil feels like.”
The priest’s eyes widened. “Worry not,” said Gellert, “I am not like you and your kind. I will not harm children in some grotesque display.” The children floated away from the church, hanging opposite their grandfather.
Gellert closed his eyes.
Pale snow drank Wylla Nurmen’s dying blood. His mother’s face looked blankly out at him from a jeering crowd as fire licked up his leg. Albus stared at him and said that their plans were no more.
The Death Stick blazed and a gout of green fire poured forth, swelling higher than the trees and sprouting a pair of burning wings, twisting and contorting until a flaming dragon roared and leered down at the church and the crowd.
Some fled whilst others screamed, but more still stared on in awe. The dragon thundered again then lunged, burying the church in emerald Fiendfyre.
At last, Wylla, you may rest. Gellert slashed the wand and the dragon collapsed, nothing left but smouldering ashes. The Death Stick shuddered hungrily in his hand. Not now. You may feast another day.
“That, my friends, is the power that should rule.” The crowd erupted, every last member cheering. “Wylla Nurmen’s soul may now rest, as may the other unnamed victims.”
“What about him?” someone shouted from the crowd, gesturing with a jagged stone towards the still-bound priest.
“Ah, yes, our friend Jonas. I will show him the mercy he showed a young girl thirty-five years ago.”
A pile of rocks appeared before Gellert and his three captives. The priest’s face paled. Gellert smiled, then pointed the Death Stick at his grandchildren.
Harry’s head spun when the tower cell formed around him. What did I just watch?
“Not pleasant, but necessary.” Grindelwald’s voice came from his cot in the room’s corner. “How do you feel?”
Dazed. Harry shook his head. “What happened to the kids?”
“I presume you can deduce what happened immediately after you were pulled from the memory?”
“You made them stone the priest.” A note of cold clung to his voice.
“You do not approve?”
“Not of that. It wasn’t the kids’ fault.”
“It is in their nature. Ask yourself, have you ever met a muggle who was not afflicted with their sickness? Their need to destroy everything that threatens them? Their need to purge anything that risks their deluded sense of superiority? Their need to destroy?”
Harry bit his lip. He’s right. “No, but you still should have left the kids out of it. They didn’t deserve it just for being muggles.”
“And Maria? What were her crimes outside of marrying her husband?”
“Why?” Harry grasped for words but found none. “You are being illogical. There is nothing separating one case from the other. All that is different is that Maria had sinned and the children had not yet stooped so low. They were muggles — it was destined to happen.”
Harry shut his eyes tight. “I don’t like the idea of them remembering that. I grew up having nightmares about Voldemort laughing as he killed my mother.”
“You will find that neither of them remembered anything of that day.”
A block of ice formed in Harry’s chest. “You killed them?”
“Did you not hear what I told their grandfather? I do not stoop to their level — I showed the priest a new perspective and set the children free with no memories of anything that happened.” Grindelwald’s expression hardened. “You forget that I too saw things as a child I once wished to forget.”
“Once?” Harry asked. “You don’t anymore?”
“Not for a very long time. Those memories are what define me — every person is a complex tapestry made up of all the images they see each time they close their eyes. I know not what I would have become without those threads, but I am pleased with who I am, despite my life’s outcome.”
“Do you regret any of it?” Grindelwald raised an eyebrow. “Sorry,” Harry muttered, “just a thought.”
“The only thing you must apologize for is looking like a scolded child. Curiosity is not a sin.” Harry nodded. “I regret, but not the war, nor anything I did in it.”
“I lost both my partner and my war that day behind his home. Together we would have changed the world.” Grindelwald closed his eyes for a moment, then reopened them. “I will ask you again — how do you feel?”
Harry’s thoughts churned like a restless sea. The priest screamed. Harry had not seen those children throw the stones, but he could imagine what it looked like. But not for long. Every time he imagined it, Wylla hung from the church’s wall, looking wide-eyed and afraid.
Harry’s fist clenched, his blood boiling beneath his skin. “Satisfied.”
November 26, 1993
The Slytherin Common Room
Astoria sat near the smouldering ashes of a fire long extinguished and watched Harry leave the common room, flanked by Parkinson and Nott and followed by Malfoy and his two goons.
I want to follow him. I’m just a burden, he’ll never actually be friends with me. She wondered why he tutored her and put up with so many failures. Ice seeped through her veins. He might not now that Daphne’s noticed.
Hushed voices whispered softly off the tunnel’s stone behind her. A vice of dread closed around her chest when Astoria recognized both. Oh, Merlin, help me.
“Good morning, Astoria,” said Daphne with a sickeningly sweet smile. Tracey fidgeted by her side.
“Morning, Daph. Hi, Trace.”
“Waiting for someone?”
Astoria flinched at the stiffness in her voice. “Daphne—”
“Or has Potter already left you behind?”
Astoria’s skin itched and her blood boiled. “What’s your problem with him?”
Daphne straightened up. “He is the Dark Lord come again.”
Astoria scoffed. “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”
“Is it?” Daphne asked, a single eyebrow arched. “He can speak to snakes—”
“That doesn’t mean anything!”
“Don’t be daft, Astoria.” Daphne lowered her voice. Like her or Tracey haven’t cast a ward already. “You’ve heard the whispers just as I did. Some say the Dark Lord transferred a bit of himself to Potter the night his spell failed.”
Astoria crossed her arms. “Prove it!”
Daphne’s eyes were colder than ice. “Do you know what the Killing Curse does, Astoria?”
She stuck out her tongue. “Kills.”
“It completely tears a soul from its body. Even the dementors only take most of a soul.”
Astoria suppressed a shiver thinking about what happened when dementors came close. Don’t let her win! She always wins! “So?”
“So the curse rebounded and struck the Dark Lord. If any spell could impart something, it’s the Killing Curse. That mixed with Potter’s Parseltongue ability — keeping in mind no one from his family has ever spoken to snakes — and I think it’s a pretty clear connection.”
“That’s a guess based on stuff you don’t know.”
Daphne grabbed her shoulder and Astoria winced when her sister’s nails dug painfully into her skin. “I know more about magic like that than almost anyone. Do you have any idea the things I’ve studied to help you?”
Astoria’s anger was doused in a cold pit of shame. “I’m sorry, Daph, I didn’t mean it like that.”
Daphne shook her head. “It isn’t important. The problem is you hanging out with Potter.”
“Why? He’s helped me. I can actually do a few spells without the magic just running wild now, all because of him.”
“Abilities the likes of which he shouldn’t have at his age…”
“Oh, come off it. You just said you knew more about the Killing Curse than almost anyone, and you’re thirteen. You’re a genius and could probably teach the Ancient Runes class or Arithmancy class. You can’t say he’s a dark lord just because he’s smart.”
“Not on its own, but when combined with—”
“When combined with what? A guess about something no one understands? Answer me this, Daph, how did Harry survive the Killing Curse?” She glared up at her sister. “If you know everything, then answer that.” Daphne’s mouth remained closed. “Exactly.” Astoria stood.
“Astoria, I wasn’t finished!”
She kept walking and let her sister’s words fade as the common room’s exit soon separated them.
“Stupid!” she cursed aloud. “She only ever cares about being right!”
December 2, 1993
The Defence Against the Dark Arts Classroom
Beads of sweat trickled from Ron’s brow and fell gently down his cheeks as he shuffled from foot to foot, watching Professor Lupin read from a piece of parchment behind his desk.
The class had been dismissed a moment ago and Professor Lupin’s attention hadn’t shifted. Bloody hell, he looks even older when he reads like that.
Ron took a deep breath and cleared his throat. “Uh, professor?”
Lupin’s head jerked up. “My apologies, Ron, I didn’t see you there. Do you have a question about the essay?”
“Uh, not exactly. I think I can figure out trolls decently enough.”
Professor Lupin raised a greying eyebrow. “Something else, then?”
Ron nodded. “I, uh… wanted to ask if you’d teach me the Patronus Charm?”
The professor frowned. “That’s very advanced magic. I would never imagine that someone your age would be able to cast it.”
“Can we try, Professor? It’s just —” Ron blushed, his voice cracking. He swallowed, then went on, “The dementors… they bother me worse than the others.”
Lupin’s eyes softened. “Ah, yes, you were the one who fainted on the train, weren’t you?”
Ron winced, but nodded. “And fell from my broom,” he grumbled. “I can’t let that happen again. If Dumbledore isn’t there —” his voice broke again.
Lupin sighed. “The truth is, Ron, that I’m not sure I can teach you. Something like that can only be taught so much and I’m no expert.”
“But you can cast one, right?”
“I can, yes.”
“So you’re better than some old book.”
Lupin offered him a tired smile. “I’ll take the compliment.” His expression hardened. “You’re serious about this, aren’t you?”
Ron nodded. “I’ll do anything you ask. Just… I have to learn that spell.”
Lupin rubbed at his red-rimmed eyes. “I’ll try, but I make no promises. I’m still unsure it’s something that can really be taught. Even if it can, casting it in an empty classroom is a far cry from doing it when faced with a dementor.”
Ron’s eyes burned with a determined fury. “It’s better than what I have now.”
“I guess it is.” Lupin glanced at a calendar he’d pinned up behind his desk. “I’ll tell you what, I’ll think on it over the holidays and we’ll begin some time after you get back from them.”
Ron beamed. “Thanks, Professor.”
“Don’t thank me yet, and don’t get your hopes up too high.”
It was much too late for that. Ron moved with renewed purpose as he strode from the classroom, finally confident that something would go right.
December 18, 1993
Harry’s last day at Hogwarts before the winter holidays had gone well. The Hogsmeade visit had been the best so far — Pansy paid for both his butterbeer and chocolate and called it ‘something extra for Yule.’ Nervous butterflies had fluttered inside his stomach when he’d seen how tense Draco was, but the uneasiness had passed as the blond had relaxed.
The trip had been nice, but Harry had been relieved to return back to the castle. The village was blanketed so thickly in snow that it was difficult to walk. His trainers kept sinking beneath its surface, and by the trip’s end, his feet had been numb with cold.
They burned like Grindelwald’s atop the pyre when he re-entered the castle, unused to the pleasantly warm air.
He and Cassie had even fit in another practice before the train left that next morning. Harry grimaced at the thought of packing. Why do I always leave it until the last minute?
A shiver ran up his spine when he sensed… something.
Not this time!
Harry spun and slashed his wand, firing a purple jet of light towards a black dog that leapt aside while transforming into the man Harry hated so desperately.
Holy shit, he really did lose a hand. Black’s right arm ended in an ugly stump, his wand clutched in his left hand.
“You shouldn’t have come here!”
“You don’t understand.” Black’s voice sounded like steel scraping steel as it tore roughly from his throat. “You have to—”
“Kill you for what you did!” Harry pelted spells at Black, who dove aside but was caught in mid-air and thrown back by a well-placed Banishing Hex.
Yes! He’s mine! His form shifted in mid-flight and landed on four legs. One was missing a paw. Good to know that transfers over.
Harry continued firing spells, but Black weaved in and out of them with his Animagus form. Merlin, losing a paw doesn’t seem to have slowed him down much. Black reverted back when he was only paces away and slammed his shoulder against Harry.
He toppled backwards but maintained a hold on his wand. The stone shifted beneath him and canines began rising from the floor. Not this time.
Harry’s hand burned and the hair on his arm was singed as fire rushed from his wand. It rolled over the dogs like they were made from paper and swept towards Black.
Barks and whines echoed off the walls.
Did I get him?
Harry’s heart gave a lurch when the flames began rising, their burning tips almost brushing the ceiling. Not good.
He slashed his wand and focused on the warm glow he’d felt in Hogsmeade when a beaming Pansy paid for his sweets.
“Opposite intent,” Grindelwald had said when Harry asked him how to end this spell. “Any malice-based spell is usually ended via opposite intent.”
The flames did not collapse the way Grindelwald’s dragon had, but they sputtered out and hissed like a hundred restless serpents.
Harry looked around. The corridor was a smouldering mess, choked so badly by smoke that it was hard to breathe. But no dog… alive or dead.
Harry let out an anguished bellow and slammed his fist against the wall. Pain lanced up his arm, cruel as laughter.
Fuck the pain. Who cares? All that mattered was the fact Black had escaped again. I blew it again… I might never get another chance, I…
The breath froze in his throat and his heart thundered in his ears.
Harry reached beneath his collar and withdrew the time turner, its hourglass sparkling in the light of a nearby torch. I haven’t missed my chance at all… I’ve set a perfect trap.
Harry laughed, but he could hardly hear it over the blood pounding in his ears. Not so easy this time, Black. Ready or not, here I come.
I feel like this is the first big cliffhanger since chapter 45, so that’s fun 🙂
Next chapter will be an eventful one on several levels, so I hope you’re all excited.
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