PoP 61

Perversion of Purity

Year 3: The Looming of Shadows

Chapter 19: New Steps and Old Friends

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, Regress, and Thanos for their incredible work on this story.

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Author’s Note:

Here is the complete version of chapter 61. The first two scenes have been cut out of the version posted on FFN and AO3 due to some potentially triggering material, but I have included them here for the devoted readers who want to read them.

December 18, 1924
Landsberg Prison
9:33 PM

Gellert’s footsteps echoed through empty halls. Nothing else moved but for a few guards lurking in shadow. Gellert inclined his head to each as he passed and shifted so that his conjured badge shone in the low light.

These are the people we hide from? he thought for the thousandth time that night. People whose high-security facilities are breached more easily than a young witch’s bedroom?

The cell he stopped before was unguarded and occupied by a single, dark-haired man who sat on a cot in its corner with his head bowed. His scribbling was louder than most things in the hall. His hand trembled slightly as he wrote.

“Good evening,” Gellert said as he unlocked the cell and stepped inside, casting a wandless Silencing Charm and Notice-Me-Not ward as he moved.

The man looked up. His pale eyes narrowed with suspicion. They were intense eyes that would unnerve many.


“I have not seen you before.” The muggle’s voice had a whip-like quality even whilst he spoke quietly.

“That is unsurprising.”

“Have you brought me a letter? It’s late for that, is it not?”

“I have not brought you a letter.”

The man’s eyes hardened, growing cold as chips of ice. “Then leave me. I will not be mocked by lesser men.”

“Mocking you is of no interest to me.”

“And leaving?”

“Of even less.”

“You are not a guard.” He spoke surely; everything this man said was spoken in that same way.

“I am not.”

“Who are you?”

Even whilst in prison, he speaks as though in command.

“Someone with similar goals, but of a different disposition.”

“What are your goals?”

“I crave a world where the worthy can live without fear. A better world without the burdens that plague the one we live in; a world in which lesser beings exist only to aid the strong.”

It was so easy. This was the man who had helped create such a stir before landing himself here? This was the man who Gellert’s agents said a portion of Germany could rally behind? Was this a fine example of what muggles were capable of?


Sporadic brushes of Legilimency were all it took; Gellert knew exactly what to say.

The man’s eyes gleamed. “What is your name?”

Gellert offered a small smile. “Gellert Grindelwald.”

The dark-haired man looked thoughtful. “I have never heard it before.”

“I am unsurprised. Many of my kind are fools who do all they can to hide from the likes of you.”

Suspicion crept into the man’s expression. “Your kind? What kind is this?”

“Allow me to demonstrate.” Gellert slid the Death Stick from his sleeve into his palm and gave it a flick. A chair appeared before him and he took the seat, smiling at the aghast look on the muggle’s face. “A different disposition, as I said.”

Gellert brushed his mind again and received a rush of emotions. There was suspicion, doubt, and even terror, but above all, there was hunger so powerful, Gellert had rarely felt its like before.

“I assure you that no trickery was involved in my demonstration. I will prove it further if I must.”

The muggle studied him and Gellert met his pale eyes, focusing on the hunger and dimming the man’s more troubled emotions. “What is it you can do?”

Gellert’s smile returned. “The better question, Mister Hitler, is what I cannot do. That would be far more difficult to answer.”

“Why can you do these things and I cannot?”

“Blood. There is great power in blood and great weakness in its taint. More could do things like what I am capable of once, but that was long ago. Long before blood was tainted by some of the lesser beings I have already spoken of.”

Hitler’s eyes grew more intense. “The Jews! They stole it!”

“Unsuccessfully. They feared it and sought to take it for their own. They failed to account for their own lesser blood and achieved only the dilution of power and the near demise of a better age.”

“How can this be fixed? What must be done to bring the power back?” Hitler’s eyes went wide. “Blood. You said there is power in blood and weakness in taint. It’s about purity.”

“Perhaps. Many have tried solving the puzzle, but none have succeeded. That is largely due to the failings of my own kind. Many among us would sooner remain hidden and limit ourselves.”

“Madness — a complete and total waste.”

“It is a problem I will solve, but one that will take time.”

“And the problem of purity?”

“Our mistakes have cost us dearly. I think your kind would do better with your science than we would do with our magic, for as great as it is, it cannot just provide us with the answers we seek.”

“It will be done.” There was still no sign of submission in Hitler’s voice. He was not taking an order; he was making a vow.

Gellert stood. “Be warned that it may require more action than you imagine. These people you seek are deceitful and cunning. They will flee.”

“They will go nowhere! Not if we control it all.”


“My time here has reached its end,” Gellert said with a final smile. “It was a pleasure, Mister Hitler. I think you will breathe fresh air again very soon.”

“That was Hitler,” Harry breathed when the tower cell formed around him.

“Do not speak his name with such awe. He was an ambitious muggle who ultimately failed in every way that matters.”

“Sorry,” Harry muttered, “it’s just… he’s one of the most famous people ever in their world. For all the wrong reasons, but still…”

“And how well did all that prestige serve him when faced with real power?”

“I honestly expected more from him,” Harry admitted. “He just seemed power hungry and a bit paranoid.”

“He was cunning, ruthless, and ambitious. Those were his greatest weapons, but his delusions and paranoia dulled them in the end. Adolf Hitler became a slave to the same affliction that all muggles suffer from — the need to destroy what frightens them.”

“But you wanted him to attack the Jews, didn’t you? That was what I just saw.”

“Hitler never feared the Jewish people, not truly. He fought out of hatred and raged a war for what he perceived as vengeance. The people he feared were his allies, both inside and outside his own circle. Fear dampened his rationale and was one of many things that led to his loss.” Grindelwald’s eyes darkened. “Not that any of it would have mattered once Albus defeated me. His plans were henceforth doomed.”

“So the Holocaust — that’s what muggles call it — you started that?”

“Oh no. Do not absolve Hitler of guilt, nor dismiss his actions because of what you saw. He was always going to move in the ways he did. I just nudged him in their direction and encouraged him to broaden his plans.”

Harry frowned. “What do you mean, ‘broaden his plans’?”

“Hitler fought out of hatred. His efforts were confined to the salvation of Germany and purging the land of Jewish citizens. That would not have aided my goals.”

“What do you mean? Did you want him to do more damage because it would help bring down the Statute?”

“Yes and no. I hoped he would unite the European muggles beneath a single banner. It would have made collapsing the Statute a simpler process and required but a single, well-timed strike compared to dozens.” Grindelwald shrugged. “I am here and he died decades ago, so it is obvious my plan failed.”

“Was it true?”

“Which part?”

“What you said about the Jewish people stealing magic.”

Grindelwald’s lips twitched. “Not a single word of it. It was but a targeted spin on blood supremacy.” He spread his skeletal arms wide. “I cater to my audience.”

“Was there anything else important from the memory?” Grindelwald shook his head. “I had some of my own questions.”

“Unrelated, I presume?” Harry nodded. “Ask them.”

“The dementors retreat any time I get near them. It happened on the train ride to Hogwarts and I thought it might have just been a coincidence, but it’s happened every time they’ve been near me. Do you have any idea why they do that?”

Grindelwald’s expression was unreadable. “They flee from you?”

“I guess so. When I flew above a crowd of them who were looking up at my friend, they backed off. I told one to leave on the train ride back to London for the holidays, and it listened.”

“I have never heard tales like these.” Harry felt surprised, but was unsure why. Dumbledore had been flummoxed; it was not surprising Grindelwald would be too.

“Dumbledore said that a few wizards have controlled them in the past. Voldemort did it, apparently, and he mentioned another.”


“Yeah, that sounds right.”

“He was the first we are aware of to stumble upon the island now housing Azkaban Prison. That was where the first dementors were discovered. Some say they served him. I believe they served themselves but that their goals aligned.”

“Maybe that’s it? Because I want to kill Black, they…” but Grindelwald was already shaking his head.

“Death is absolute. The soul moves on once the container is destroyed. The dementors do not seek Sirius Black; it is his soul they chase. You killing him does nothing for them.”

“Do you have any ideas then?”

The pause was longer than Harry was used to. “None worth the speculation. I spent little time researching the intricacies of dementors.”

Harry leant forward. “What do you know about them?”

Grindelwald studied him. “This interests you, doesn’t it?” Harry nodded. “All the better; an expedition into the abstract is never wasted time. Little is known about the dementors and much that is considered fact is nothing but hearsay. I will not bore you with the basics of what they are and what they want. A relevant detail to your case is that dementors are blind.”

“Blind?” Harry asked. “How do they tell people apart?”

“It is believed the dementors can decipher the differences between two souls.”

Harry shuddered. Merlin, that’s creepy. “I didn’t know that was possible. Telling souls apart, I mean.”

“You still do not. There is no proof nor any way of obtaining it; I have simply yet to find a better explanation. There is no way to replicate the theorized effect with something like Homenum Revelio.”

Harry frowned. “Dumbledore never mentioned any of that.”

“Didn’t he? How curious.”

“Do you think he knows?”

“Of all I have said? Certainly. Albus was an expert in abstract magic even as a boy. Perhaps he sought not to speak on matters pertaining to the soul. Albus always frowned upon such magics.”

Harry shrugged. “It doesn’t really matter, I guess. I had something else.” Grindelwald waited. “I’ve worked on the magic sensing you talked about. I’m not perfect at it, or anything, but I can sense basic wards and I felt Black behind me when he transformed into a man.”

“Continue progressing. It is but a matter of practice.”

“Do you have something else for me too? You said it would just be keeping up the same exercises, right?”

“Exercises and exposure, yes.” Grindelwald pondered for a moment. “The solstice approaches, does it not?”

“In less than two days, yeah.”

“I think it is finally time I explain the principles of ritualistic magic. There is power in days like the solstice.”

December 21, 1993
Black Manor
12:00 AM

Shadows lurked around a room bathed in darkness. The only light came from several pools near the room’s centre, made from magical spheres that floated around the room’s lone occupant as he straightened up and surveyed the space around him. The walls were made from grey stone and completely barren, as was the ceiling. The floor was made from the same grey rock, but spatters of powder formed dark lines along the floor that conjoined to form a seven-pointed star.

Harry stepped back and examined his work. His heartbeat quickened as he deciphered the star and runes around it. The former was simple, but the latter was where mistakes could be made. Grindelwald had gone over each rune in detail, but many of them were marks Harry had never seen before. If even a single line was off, this could all go wrong.

He drew a piece of parchment from his robes and studied the runes, comparing them to the ones on the floor. They were as close as he would ever get.

Harry pocketed the parchment and raised his wand to his wrist. I’m not looking forward to this bit.

“Rituals are not a set of instructions that provide you immediate power. Most of them grant only the slightest advantages that will largely go unnoticed and even those exact a price. The greater the boon, the more you must lose. Blood will almost always suffice for the foreseeable future. How poorly you perform and feel for some time after each undertaking will be the other thing you sacrifice.”

This isn’t going to be fun.

Harry sliced his wrist with a wordless Diffindo and began splattering blood over his star and runes. The cut stung fiercely in the cellar room’s cold air, but it was over quickly and Harry sealed the wound with another wordless spell before banishing his spheres of light and discarding his wand outside the prepared space. Any magic like that in conjurations or wand cores could offset things and lead to unpleasant results, he had been told.

Harry stood in the centre of the star and closed his eyes, channeling magic the same way he had back on Privet Drive when unlocking his bedroom’s door.

The effect was immediate.

Crimson light seared his eyelids, but the spots dancing in his vision were quickly forgotten when a horrible pain came over him. It started as a sharp prickling in his chest but quickly spread and grew many times more intense. It felt like someone had stuck a burning knife into each of Harry’s muscles and was slowly pulling them apart. Harry found that air would not come. Between that and the pain, he felt like he was Grindelwald again, standing atop the pyre and waiting to die.

It ended all at once. The pain was gone and Harry was panting on all fours as muscles twitched uncontrollably beneath his skin. His head fell onto his arms and rested there.

I feel the same. The longer he laid there, the more he realized that wasn’t quite true. There was a certain feeling in his muscles that was difficult to describe, but it was nothing he would have noticed had he not been searching for something. Everything just felt… firmer, more solid. It was an odd feeling.


“Hello, Kreacher,” Harry croaked from his place on the floor without looking up.

“Master’s hurt?”

He actually sounds worried. “I’m all right, Kreacher. Do you have the blood replenishing potions?”

“Oh yes, Master. Kreacher brought plenty.”

“Good, let me see them.”

Harry thought back on his last talk with Grindelwald whilst gulping down the metallic-tasting potion. It was not quite like drinking blood, but it wasn’t far off.

Whatever was going on with the dementors, he was intent on finding out. Something that stumped both Grindelwald and Dumbledore was interesting to him. A selfish part of him wondered whether he could find something his two mentors could not, and a larger part of him was simply curious.

“A relevant detail to your case is that dementors are blind.”

“Blind? How do they tell people apart?”

“It is believed the dementors can decipher the differences between two souls.”

“I didn’t know that was possible. Telling souls apart, I mean.”

“You still do not. There is no proof nor any way of obtaining it; I have simply yet to find a better explanation. There is no way to replicate the theorized effect with something like Homenum Revelio.”

“Dumbledore never mentioned any of that.”

“Didn’t he? How curious.”

“Do you think he knows?”

“Of all I have said? Certainly. Albus was an expert in abstract magic even as a boy. Perhaps he sought not to speak on matters pertaining to the soul. Albus always frowned upon such magics.”

“It doesn’t really matter, I guess.”

“Master Regulus gave Kreacher a letter for you, Master.”

Harry blinked and pulled his thoughts back to the present. The world was much steadier now, his head clearer. “Did he?” Kreacher offered Harry a small piece of parchment.

You will meet with the Dark Lord again the last night of the holidays. You were to be unaware.


So Voldemort wants to surprise me again? It made sense. If the Dark Lord was to accept Harry fully, his loyalty should be beyond question. The best way to judge something like that was to catch the person by surprise and observe their default reactions. Clever.

“Thanks, Kreacher,” said Harry as he clambered back upright. His legs burned beneath him. “Pass my thanks back to Regulus, just make sure he’s alone.”

Kreacher vanished with another CRACK, leaving Harry alone once more. He would cherish this time alone even whilst ensuring it was productive. It appeared there would be even more politicking to take care of before returning back to Hogwarts.

December 25, 1993
Black Manor
8:56 PM

A cold wind blew outside his window, whistling softly and rattling panes of glass. Harry looked out at the swirl of snow and reflected on that day. It’s weird liking Yule. Christmas on Privet Drive had always been a bleak affair.

Not that the day had been perfect. There was that article — the one he scowled just thinking about.

By Barnabus Cuffe

The dementors served He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named during the Purity War. Accounts from that time say that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named even commanded the dementors personally. It is the only verifiable account in recent times we have of the dementors being beholden to a single witch or wizard.

So what does it mean now that they pay those same respects to the famous Harry Potter — the very boy who conquered He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named himself? Is it nothing but a coincidence, or does Harry Potter have dark and dangerous powers the rest of us could never dream of?

Rubbish. Harry was pretty sure whatever was going on, it did not mean he would be the next dark lord.

Harry saw something soaring through the snow outside. What the hell? Soon he could make out a dark pair of wings framed against the falling snowflakes. What’s an owl doing showing up at this time and in the middle of a blizzard?

He opened the window and let the bird inside. Its dark grey feathers were flecked with snow and sopping wet. It shivered even after he closed the window. Hopefully whatever it’s carrying isn’t soaked.

A single piece of parchment was strapped to its leg. Harry reached out and untied it. The note was short but caused goosebumps all along his arms. It reminds me of Dumbledore’s letter back in first year about the cloak.

You might find success using the Sectumsempra curse the next time you find yourself cornered or in peril. The incantation is as written and the wand movement is a violent slash. Be warned, this spell is only to be used against one’s enemies.

Happy holidays,

The Halfblood Prince

December 31, 1993
The Ministry of Magic
9:22 PM

Swirling green flames gave way to the most splendid room Harry had ever seen. Ever-changing golden symbols drifted across a pale-blue ceiling whilst below, witches and wizards stepped in and out of gilded fireplaces set along the dark polished walls.

Harry’s eyes drifted towards the room’s centre, which was dominated by the famed Fountain of Magical Brethren. Five golden statues stood tall and imposing, half again as large as they would be in life. A noble-looking wizard stood with his wand held high, flanked by a beautiful witch and looking kindly down at a house elf, a goblin, and a centaur. Water streamed from various points on each as the three creatures looked adoringly up at the witch and wizard.

There’s no way a centaur or a goblin would ever look at witches or wizards like that.

“First time in the ministry?” Regulus asked, stepping smoothly out from the fireplace beside him.

“I hadn’t really thought about it until Mister Malfoy mentioned coming here for the New Year’s Gala.”

“That’s most people’s first reaction. Most kids never have a reason to come here, not unless there’s some groundbreaking event going on in the Wizengamot.”

“When was the last time that happened?”

Regulus’s face was unreadable. “Probably the Death Eater trials.”

“Giving a history lesson, are we?” Lucius strolled towards them with Narcissa hanging off his arm in a dress of pale silver, their two children trailing slightly behind.

“Always the tone of surprise,” Regulus said dryly.

Lucius merely smiled. “I never took you for the lecturing type.”

“You’re confusing me with Sirius.”

“Nonsense,” said Narcissa, her eyes flicking briefly towards Harry, “you’re much saner.”

A dark expression flashed across Regulus’s face, but it was covered up almost at once. Harry had told him about his two confrontations with Sirius, minus the bits about the time turner and invisibility cloak. Regulus had been quiet for several days after their talk, much like his silent stretch back in the summer. Not until the morning of Yule had things returned to normal.

“Shall we then?” Regulus asked, gesturing towards the gilded doors ahead.

Harry suppressed the urge to fidget as he moved through the crowd. Mutters rose like steam whenever someone spotted him. A few even had the gall to point; even the subtler ones’ eyes bored a hole into his back.

It’s even worse now after that damned article.

The doors ahead opened and the group mercifully stepped into a lift that closed behind them with a ding, drowning out the muttering voices and blocking off the searching eyes.

Lucius pressed the number five and the lift began rising. He turned towards the children. “I hope I don’t need to remind any of you the types of people you’ll be in company with tonight. The three of you will conduct yourselves with the utmost grace and courtesy, will you not?”

The lift paused and another ding sounded. “Level seven, Department of Magical Games and Sports.” The doors opened but no one else entered, so they closed again as the three youths nodded and the elevator rose.

“Father, will the minister be here?”

“Cornelius usually attends, yes. Be sure to tread very carefully, Draco. I know you’ll want to introduce yourself, but the minister is a busy man dealing with many problems since Black’s escape from Azkaban.”

Ding. “Level six, Department of Magical Transportation.”

Narcissa began fussing with her children’s robes. Harry shot a questioning look towards Lucius and Regulus, jerking his eyes down to his own robes and raising his eyebrow. Lucius nodded and Harry breathed easily again. The black robes trimmed in emerald green looked good to him, but Harry knew little of these things.

Ding. “Level five, Department of International Magical Cooperation.”

“Come,” said Lucius, beckoning as he stepped from the lift and into a neat corridor with offices on both sides. The hall ended in a pair of double doors flanked by two red-robed aurors. It must usually be a conference room.

“Invitations?” asked the right-most auror in a deep voice that rumbled like quiet thunder.

“Here.” Narcissa reached into a decorative handbag and withdrew immaculate pieces of parchment. The dark skinned auror examined each of them before stepping aside and beckoning them into a bright room with pale walls and plenty of open space.

“Lucius!” called a jovial voice. Why is it familiar? “Fashionably late as ever, I see.” Harry looked around, then he saw him. A portly, well-dressed man with a lime-green bowler’s cap atop his head. Merlin, it’s Fudge.

“My apologies, Minister,” Lucius said with a smile and a bow. “Narcissa was very particular about everyone’s attire tonight. She wanted us all to look our best.”

Fudge chortled. “Not to worry, not to worry. I expect these sorts of things from you, Lucius.” His eyes found Regulus next. “Ah, and Regulus too! What a pleasant surprise! It’s been quite some time!”

Regulus’s smile came easily, but Harry recognized feigned joy when he saw it. “It has. It’s good to see you again, Minister.”

Fudge turned towards Diana but froze when his eyes found Harry, who nearly sighed. The Minister for Magic, of all people?

“Harry Potter!” Fudge bounced forward and clasped Harry’s hand so tightly, the tips of his fingers began tingling. “Goodness me, I’ve been ever so excited to meet you! So many people for you to meet; come, come!”

Being led around the room like a trophy on display by the Minister for Magic was an odd experience. Harry did his best to ignore the staring eyes and look pleased. It was for the best. Many of these people really were quite important.

“You must sit with me!” Fudge eventually said, leading Harry and his precession towards the front-most table. Fudge sat at its head with Harry, Regulus, and the Malfoys closest to him.

Introductions began and Harry soon realized that every single department head within the Ministry of Magic was present. Some — like Ludo Bagman — were unimpressive, whilst the likes of Amelia Bones and Barty Crouch were significantly more imposing.

I like Crouch. There’s no gaping from him, he just talks with his assistant. Harry looked over at the pair of them again. Wait! His stomach lurched and his heart pounded in his chest. It can’t be…

“And this bright young woman here is Barty’s assistant,” Fudge said just a moment later. “Miss, err…” he descended into an obviously feigned coughing fit, but the former Head Girl took it in stride.

“Fawley, Minister,” she said with a kind smile, “Gemma Fawley.”

“Yes, right, Fawley. So sorry, my dear.”

Gemma Fawley…

The last time I saw her, she sent me off to Grindelwald.

All the fear from that night returned as Harry remembered the bent necks and splintered bones, the way he’d landed in eerie darkness with no idea where he was.


I don’t hate her — I don’t even dislike her.

Had they reunited sooner, it could have been disastrous. Back when the visions still unnerved him, this meeting could have been volatile.

Back when I was still afraid of Grindelwald. So much has changed. Now… Merlin, that portkey is one of the best things that ever happened to me. Harry had lived another life through Grindelwald’s eyes, one that had aged him, but one that had become a part of him. Goosebumps prickled all along his arms. I’ve never thought of it like that.

“We’ve met before.” said Gemma. “I was Head Girl in Harry’s first year.”

Harry feigned a smile of his own. “You actually tutored me; I’m not sure if you remember.”

Her smile widened. “I remember.”

The meal continued but Harry could not help watching Gemma from the corner of his eye. She had changed little since graduating Hogwarts; she just looked more put together now, wearing immaculate robes and sitting primly beside the stiff-backed Head of International Magical Cooperation.

Fudge insisted on introducing Harry to even more people when the meal wrapped up. They bustled around the room, shaking hands and sharing smiles. How does he have so much energy? Fudge spent the whole time bouncing on the balls of his feet and beaming at everyone they met.

Harry finally extricated himself when Fudge left for a restroom. There was no sign of Draco, Diana, or any other member of Harry’s contingent by the time he did. The thicket of bodies was just too much; picking any single person out was nearly impossible.

“I’d hoped we could talk before you leave.”

Nearly. “It’s nice to see you again too,” Harry said, looking up at Gemma; she was shorter than he remembered. “Any surprise vacations for me this time?”

Her smile looked strained. “I’m afraid not. That sort of surprise really only works once.”

“Did you know?” Harry asked, covertly flicking his wand and raising wards around them.

The only sign Gemma noticed the wards was a very slight narrowing of her eyes. “I knew that it was a portkey and I knew the activation phrase.”

Harry watched her closely but could see no sign that she was lying. Not that it meant much. She had been a talented student and came from a Sacred Twenty-Eight family. She probably knows Occlumency. I should really learn Legilimency.

Harry used his own Occlumency to mull things over more clinically.

The results surprised him.

I’m almost grateful. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

She must have some connection to Grindelwald. There’s no point in making an enemy out of a potential ally who made my life better.

“Where do we stand?” Harry asked, at last meeting her eyes.

She hesitated. “I think that depends on you.”

Harry held out his hand. If she’s working with Grindelwald, she’s working with me. “I don’t forgive you for tricking me. You could have sent me to die, for all you knew, but it worked out and I get why you did it. From the beginning then?”

She smiled and took his hand. “Maybe not quite from the beginning. I’m not sure new acquaintances would tell you the sort of news I mean to pass along.”

News? Something I’m to pass onto Grindelwald?

Harry furrowed his brow. “What sort of news, and why tell me?”

Gemma’s expression remained impassive. “I didn’t know much on the train, but I knew you weren’t going to die. Let’s just say I have my reasons and leave it at that. If you need an oath about how truthful I’m being, that’s fine.”

“Don’t worry about an oath.” Oaths couldn’t make someone tell the truth. All they could do was make someone tell what they believed to be true. That was far too flimsy where magic was concerned.

Gemma raised an eyebrow, but asked nothing. “Your newer master might be interested to know what’s at the home of a very important ministry official.”

A block of ice formed in Harry’s stomach. My new master? How could Gemma know about Voldemort? Had the Dark Lord told her, or was this Grindelwald’s doing? There’s no way she could have worked it out alone.

“I’ll pass along the message,” Harry said. He wanted so badly to press her but knew she would never give the answers he craved.

She offered him another smile. “Good. Enjoy your night, Harry.”

He watched her go and lowered the wards around him, loping back off into the bustling crowd.

This break really is more interesting than I planned for.

January 1, 1994
Greengrass Manor
5:33 PM

Astoria yelped when a soft knock sounded against her bedroom door. She tried to ask for more time, but her face was buried in a hamper of clothes as she decided what to take back with her to Hogwarts and what to leave behind. Her call came out muffled and the door opened a moment later.

“Hi, Mum!” she said, grinning broadly as she popped her head up, two different shirts hanging from her neck.

Celia Greengrass just looked amused. “Busy packing, I see?” She swept her eyes around the room. “And it looks like you’ll be busy packing for the next while.” Astoria grimaced. “Are you regretting putting it off so late now? Your father and I did try and warn you.” Astoria blushed a deep shade of crimson and looked away. Celia just chuckled, but it didn’t last long. “There’s something I’d like to speak to you about.”

Alarm bells chimed inside her head. Her mother was always careful with her words, but she never drew out sentences so formally — not unless someone had done something wrong.

“What?” she asked with lips pulled tightly together.

“Daphne told me that you’ve been spending time with Harry Potter.”

Her blood boiled. That harpy! “And?”

Her mother raised an eyebrow. “Nothing your sister has ever said about him sounds flattering.”

Astoria’s eyes flashed. “Daphne thought he was the Heir of Slytherin, Mum! Then he got an award for stopping whoever it was. But sure, just believe everything Daphne says.”

Celia’s eyes narrowed. “Watch your tone, Astoria.”

Her rage built. “Only if Daphne minds her own business!”

“She is trying to do what’s best for you,” her mother said patiently, “she doesn’t think—”

“That’s the problem! Daphne’s smart and everything, but she can’t admit she’s wrong. She cares more about being right than anything.” She glared at her mother. “Even Father’s said that before.”

“I don’t deny that Daphne can get very carried away. She’s very prideful, but she’s always cared about you. Everything she did for years was because of you, Astoria.”

She huffed. I’m not letting her hold that over me. “That doesn’t mean she gets to be a jerk.”

“And what about the article about him in the Daily Prophet?”

Astoria screwed up her face. That was an odd article. She had woken up the first day back home only to be greeted by a front-page headline that took her breath away.


It was impressively scandalous. I can’t remember anyone other than Skeeter writing that dramatic. It’s weird.

“It’s just a newspaper article. You and Father go on all the time about how useless the Prophet is.”

Celia pursed her lips. “True. I only want you to be careful. There have always been strange rumours about him. No one knows where he went after Samhain or why no one could find him. No one knows how he vanquished the Dark Lord. There were families once that thought he might succeed him.”

“That’s stupid. I know Harry; he isn’t some dark lord.” The memory of him strolling through that icy corridor and facing down the dementor swam to the forefront of her mind, but Astoria pushed it away. She knew better than anyone that odd magical anomalies did not at all define a person.

“I trust you, dear, but I trust your sister too. Your father and I always say Daphne is the smartest of us all. I’m not going to tell you that you can’t be friends with someone just because your sister doesn’t like them, or because of a newspaper article. I just want you to be careful and keep your eyes open, okay?”

The lamp beside her bed began to tremble. No!

She focused on one of the exercises Harry had given her when they last met and reigned the wild magic in. It tended to act of its own accord when she was angry or afraid.

“I will, Mum.” she said after a moment, trying to pin a smile on her face. She could tell her mother was unconvinced, but she smiled back anyway and left.

Fine. See how you like it when we get back then, Daph.

Later that night, at Malfoy Manor…

Harry sensed Voldemort before he was joined on the balcony. Lucius had invited Harry out here some time ago to discuss his last term of classes. He had put on a good show of it — had Regulus not warned him, Harry might even have believed it.

“The Malfoys might view you as a tool, but that doesn’t mean all of us do.”

“Despite his numerous flaws, Lucius has always had good taste.”

It took a concerted effort not to turn towards Voldemort’s voice.

No signs of weakness. Obedience, but not weakness.

The Dark Lord moved beside him and rested his pale hands upon the railing, looking down at the maze of hedges far below. The garden was situated directly underneath the balcony but little grew there this time of year. Harry had thought the railing was pale, but not now that Voldemort rested his hands upon it. It’s like they’re nothing but bone.

“What sorts of flaws?” Harry asked, still looking out over the Malfoys’ grounds.

“Many,” said Voldemort. “Lucius is clever, but his ego is inflated. He will always think himself the smartest in the room and that habit can get him in trouble when he tries to deceive the wrong man.”

Harry turned those words over inside his head. “Has he ever tried deceiving you?”

“Many years ago. Lucius learned quickly.”

“Are there any other flaws that you’d share?”

“You’ve grown bolder.”

Harry’s pulse quickened. “Is that a bad thing?”

“No. There’s no harm in being bold; not so long as the niceties are remembered.”

In other words, be polite and remember who’s in charge. “So are there more flaws?”

“The same as many witches and wizards. Lucius is predictable and easily controlled. Nothing means more to him than his own skin and he will always support the winning side. A useful habit when things go well.”

“And when they don’t?”

“I wouldn’t know. I don’t make a habit of losing.” Harry could practically hear the smile on Voldemort’s face. “Now it’s my turn to question you.”

Harry continued looking straight ahead but could feel those scarlet eyes upon him, so he kept his face impassive. “What is it you want to ask?”

“The article about you — the one about your supposed power over the dementors — how much of what was written is true?”

There’s no reason to lie. If Grindelwald doesn’t know, I doubt Voldemort does. “What it said about me and dementors is true. They’ve always backed off any time I got close.” Harry finally chanced a look at Voldemort. “I haven’t been able to figure out why yet.”

“How curious.”

Harry’s stomach lurched. I was wrong — he knows something. His arms had come down off the railing and hovered closer to his sides. He’s guarded. Harry considered asking but did not dare. Don’t push, this is dangerous, I know it.

“I heard something at the gala last night that might be important.”

Voldemort’s gaze had momentarily left him, but it returned now. “Might be?”

Harry shrugged. “It was vague and I’m not sure how much it can be trusted.”

His heart thundered inside his chest. That last part had been a lie. Gemma’s probably right. It wouldn’t be the first time she knows something she shouldn’t. His throat knotted while Voldemort absorbed his words. I just lied to Voldemort…

“I will be the judge of that. Speak.”

“I was told you’d be interested in something at the home of a very important ministry official.”

“Told by whom?”

Guilt twisted inside his stomach. Sorry, Gemma, there’s no way to keep your name out of this. “Gemma Fawley.”

Voldemort gave no sign of surprise. Had he told the Fawleys of his return then? “She works with Crouch, does she not?”

“Fudge called her his assistant, but he seemed a bit daft and couldn’t remember her name.”

“She has done well at the ministry. I’ve heard that Crouch is grooming her to succeed him.” If she works that closely with Crouch, he must be the ministry official she’s talking about. “I will bear it in mind,” the Dark Lord said after a pause. “Was that all?” Harry nodded. “Good. Where is it you stand on our agreement?”

Harry had known this question would come. “I’m more sure of it than I was last summer.” Grindelwald had helped him work on this answer, but it wasn’t untrue. So long as working with Voldemort paid dividends for Harry…

“That will do. I’ll expect something more in the summer.”

Harry nodded. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Prioritize the Carrows.”

Harry frowned. “You mentioned them before. What’s up with them?”

“Soul magic leaves deep scars. Some of them are even useful.”

So the diary was soul magic. “I’ll try, but I’ve never really talked to them.” Harry waited for an answer but none came. He turned, but Voldemort was gone.

He sighed. There was still work to do when it came to magic sensing, as there was with so many other things all at once.

One day, I’ll be the one in control.

Author’s Endnote:

I was skeptical of this outline because I feared the holidays would need more than one chapter. I’m pleasantly surprised at the quality of this one and think it turned out well. I’m sure you guys don’t mind a longer than usual chapter this week 🙂 Let me know what you think, as always.

Please read and review.

Thank you as always to my lovely Discord Editors, blood and Idefix, for their corrections/contributions on this chapter.

A heartfelt thank you is extended to my Mage-level patron, Cup, for her unwavering generosity.

PS: The next chapter will be posted next Saturday, February 25th, 2023. ALL DISCORD MEMBERS CAN READ THE NEXT EIGHT CHAPTERS RIGHT NOW! THE NEXT TWENTY-THREE CHAPTERS CAN BE READ RIGHT NOW BY ANYONE WHO SIGNS UP TO MY PATREON PAGE! That is the entirety of Book 3, plus the first fifteen chapters of Book 4. Chapter 85 will be posted there tomorrow.

All those links can be found in the pre-chapter notes. If any give you trouble, use the direct links on the website homepage.

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