Perversion of Purity
Year 3: The Looming of Shadows
Chapter 20: The Unearthing of Schemes
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.
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January 2, 1994
The Entrance Hall
A shivering mass of students stepped through Hogwarts’ large, oak entrance doors with audible sighs of relief. It was a clear night and the stars shone like a thousand distant Lumos Charms, but the air was bitingly cold.
Black Manor was further north than most ancestral homes and Harry was nearly unaffected by the dementors they had all passed by in thestral-drawn carriages. Many of the others were worse for wear; Goyle practically dragged Crabbe along with him and Draco looked paler than the Bloody Baron.
“I haven’t missed those blasted creatures.” Draco tried sounding fierce, but the effect was somewhat ruined by a slight quiver in his voice. He shot an envious glance at Harry. “Whatever you have, I want it; they don’t even bother you.”
“Not much does,” said Pansy, who looked very pleased about something with her arm snaked through Harry’s. “He’s Harry, isn’t he?”
Draco scowled and looked away.
“Oi, you lot!” Harry looked towards the source of the voice and felt his stomach twist. It was Cassius. “Us prefects have been told to make sure everyone heads into the Great Hall. They’re holding some kind of feast.”
“Feast?” Pansy asked. “They never hold feasts when we get back from winter break. Only for the start of term, end of term, and holidays.”
Harry frowned; that was quite odd. “I’ll see if Cassius knows more than he’s saying. I wanted to talk to him, anyway. Can you save me a seat?”
Pansy had begun sulking but beamed when Harry asked the favour of her. “Of course!”
Theodore raised an eyebrow before following her, Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle into the hall. Harry could do little more than shrug.
“Are you free for a word?” he asked Cassius.
“Depends who you ask. I’m supposed to be a good little prefect and usher everyone into the hall.” His lips curved up into a slight smile. “But I see other good little prefects doing that, so sure. Where are we talking?”
Harry ushered him through the crowd and into the hidden alcove situated beneath the marble staircase. A hissed command later, and the two of them were standing in a pitch-black tunnel.
Cassius shivered. “That’ll never not give me chills.”
“Yeah.” He hesitated. “My father’s told me stories about the Dark Lord using it in the war. Some things he did with it were bloody terrifying.”
“Shame I haven’t figured them out yet.” Both of them smiled, but Harry’s expression fell fast. “Look, Cassius, I’m sorry about the holidays. I hadn’t thought about you staying behind; I was just so caught up in actually having somewhere to go and—”
“Is that what this is about?” Harry cut off and nodded. Cassius just sighed. “Mate, don’t be dramatic. I’d probably go home too if things were different.”
“I still should have at least warned you. Staying behind for the holidays was sort of our thing.”
“I’m sure you can make it up to me,” Cassius said with a grin. “You are the Dark Lord reborn — surely there’s something those mystical dark powers can help me with.”
Harry grimaced. “How many people actually believe that trash in the Prophet?”
Cassius waved a hand. “Anyone who does is too thick to matter. I wouldn’t worry about them. It’s probably just the Gryffindors who’ll give you problems.”
Harry sighed. “Not like they haven’t done that since the Quidditch match, anyway.”
Cassius scowled. “Excuse you, I don’t recall you getting pranked by those damned terrors once.”
“The twins?” Cassius nodded grimly. Harry hesitated. “I think I’ve got a weird truce with them. It’s complicated.”
“Lucky bastard.” Cassius glanced back towards the smooth wall behind them. “We should get back. I’m not sure what this is about, but I bet there’s something behind it.”
The hall was filled with bright star light and excited chatter. A pool of moonlight surrounded the staff table, and Harry followed it and looked closely at Dumbledore. If the headmaster had anything planned, his expression gave nothing away.
“Harry! Over here!”
“Thanks, Pansy,” he said, sliding into the seat beside her. She wrapped both arms around one of his and leant her head against his shoulder. Draco looked away, but Harry addressed him anyway. “Any idea what this is about?”
He shook his head. “Father never mentioned anything, but that doesn’t mean much. He hasn’t told me much this year.” Bitter, are we?
“How was your holiday?” Pansy asked, looking up from his shoulder.
“Busy. I went to the ministry’s gala with Regulus — er, Lord Black — and the Malfoys, plus I had some other things to take care of.”
Pansy prodded him lightly on the arm. “And studying; it’s you, I know you did plenty of that.”
Warmth filled his stomach. It’s nice having someone notice those things who isn’t trying to kill me. “And that, yes.”
“Get anything fun for Yule?”
“Nothing all that surprising. Some interesting books, but nothing much beyond that.” Another book filled with Nott family magic had probably been the highlight of his haul; that or an obviously illegal book on abstract magic from Regulus. The timing of that last one couldn’t have been more perfect. Plus there’s that spell the Halfblood Prince sent, whoever that is. Harry had yet to test it.
Pansy opened her mouth but was interrupted by the sound of descending silence as Dumbledore got to his feet.
Everyone in the hall held their breath as the headmaster looked amusedly out at them all. “I’m glad to know the holidays have not stripped away your eagerness to listen.” A few chuckles echoed through the thick silence but most just continued staring up at the headmaster, who smiled.
“Many of you appear to have guessed already, but I do have an announcement.” His eyes twinkled. “I assure you, you need not all be so tense. This particular news is much less grim than some other things I’ve announced this year.”
Several sighs were audible as some of the air seemed to return. A moment ago, it was like every drop of it had been sucked from the hall.
“It is my great privilege to be the first to inform all of you that, next year, Hogwarts will participate in the returning Triwizard Tournament.”
The what? Many must have felt the same way, for the muttering that followed Dumbledore’s announcement had an inquisitive air about it.
“Do you know anything about this?” Harry asked Pansy. She just shook her head. He looked at Theodore but he too knew nothing.
Dumbledore remained standing as the hall fell quiet again. “The first Triwizard Tournament took place some seven hundred years ago and was designed as a friendly competition between the three largest European schools of wizardry: Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang.”
Harry jolted. Durmstrang… Stone walls, rough mountains, and a frozen lake flashed through his mind as he remembered how Grindelwald walked down the torchlit slope and into the castle for the first time. Harry had relived countless memories there; he could probably get around the castle just fine based on those memories alone. I can probably get around better than some of their students.
“A champion was selected from each school,” Dumbledore continued, “the idea being that they were to serve as their academy’s best representative. Once chosen, the champions competed in three curated tasks selected to test their magical prowess.
“All of this remains the same. In the past, each of the three schools took turns hosting the tournament until its abolishment in 1792.” He smiled. “Here is where I have some changes to announce.”
There was another brief stir in the hall, but it soon quieted. “I can’t yet reveal all the relevant information pertaining to the tournament, but I can tell you that, in the spirit of international magical cooperation, each of the three schools will take a turn in hosting one of the tournament’s three tasks for the first time in its history.”
His smile widened. “Anyone who meets the criteria for a Triwizard Champion will be allowed to travel to each school for a portion of next year if they wish, along with the seven highest performing academics from each year.” Dumbledore held up a hand as the noise swelled. “I must inform you that this applies only to students in the fourth year or higher.”
Many younger students kicked up a fuss almost immediately. Their voices rang through the hall like rough wind across restless water. Dumbledore remained unperturbed and simply waited for all the noise to cease.
I can’t blame them. Thank Merlin I’m a fourth year in September. Had Harry been too young, he would have been livid. Not that they were equal. Harry knew Durmstrang; he had lived countless days there — it was more a home to him than Privet Drive had ever been. Missing the opportunity to attend in person would have been crippling.
“I must also inform you,” Dumbledore said when the noise quieted, “that despite everyone in the fourth year or higher being permitted to attend, only those students seventeen or older will be considered for the Triwizard Tournament. Trust me when I say it is most unlikely anyone younger would be at all competitive.”
It was another announcement that sent ripples through the hall. Harry felt a prickle of annoyance too but wondered why; he had never much cared for things like this before.
The conclusion he came to surprised him. Imagined eyes burned phantom holes in his back as he strode across a splendid hall, relief filling him when gilded lift doors blocked out the stares. A damning headline stared out at him from the Daily Prophet’s front page, conjuring up memories of a time when he’d been so utterly alone. And, oddly, the warmth he’d felt when Pansy remarked on his simpler habits.
It’s nice being noticed for something I can control. If I won the tournament, I’d be more than the Boy-Who-Lived.
“Official dates are yet to be decided,” said Dumbledore, “but we know the first task will take place at Durmstrang Institute. More information will be forthcoming but, until then, enjoy your term.”
“Have you ever heard of this tournament?” Pansy asked Harry once Dumbledore retook his seat.
“Not until now. Sounds interesting. I haven’t really put much thought into the world outside of Britain.”
“No need, really,” said Draco. “Britain’s been the dominant magical power since Grindelwald massacred half of Europe.”
“It’s exactly what British people would say,” Theodore said with a smirk.
Draco flushed. “Do you disagree?”
Theodore shrugged. “Hard to say. Russia repelled Grindelwald during the last war and have always been secretive. America’s gotten stronger over the years.” Theodore scowled. “We do have Dumbledore. Whatever you think of him, there’s a reason the Dark Lord never fought him openly, and there’s a reason Britain shows him off to the other powers in the ICW.”
“How big a difference can one wizard make?” asked Harry.
Theodore twirled a fork. “A big one. There are reports about Grindelwald duelling dozens of aurors at a time, and the Dark Lord sometimes wiped out entire crowds with a single spell.”
Dozens of aurors at a time? Harry let that sink in. He’d been growing much better as a duellist. His duels with Cassie were not yet closely contested, but they were not as lopsided as they had once been.
It’s still not enough. If Grindelwald could duel dozens of aurors, I need to put in more time with the time turner. I’ll never be free from other people if I don’t.
January 6, 1994
Harry’s eyes fluttered as he waited for Astoria. Their meeting was set for 8:00, but the youngest Greengrass sister often arrived early. Harry was perfectly happy for that tonight.
True to his word, he had pushed himself harder than ever before this past week and spent almost as much time training in the past as he had in the present. I need to catch up with Grindelwald and Voldemort.
Harry smiled. I was gonna fake it, but there’s no need. There was something infectious about Astoria. He had only ever meant to use her against Daphne, but she had a way about her that brightened even his darkest moods.
“Evening, Astoria.” He glanced around the library, feigning nervousness. “You haven’t seen your sister, have you?”
Astoria scowled. “Why does it matter?” Harry raised an eyebrow, surprised by how forcefully she had spoken. She looked down at her hands, folded on the table in front of her. “Sorry. She’s just such a pain. She’s trying to stop me from meeting you.”
Savage joy clawed at Harry’s chest. Serves her right. I hope it burns her worse than she burned me. “I never meant to cause you trouble.”
He thought back to memories of Grindelwald manipulating high-ranking officials prior to the outbreak of the Second World War and tried to mimic him as well as he could. It’s his attention to detail. Everything is done perfectly.
“You haven’t! It’s her that’s caused me trouble. She needs to mind her own business!”
I’ve got her, Harry thought with a rush of pride. She’ll stick with me, even against her sister. “We can meet somewhere else, if you’d prefer? I’ve been putting up wards, but Daphne’s taken one down before. I could find us a secret passage, or something. I know the castle pretty well.”
“No, let her see. What’s she gonna do about it? Maybe if she sees that I’m not listening, she’ll go away.”
Or do something drastic and give me an excuse to fight back. “If you’re sure,” Harry said with a frown.
Astoria’s eyes blazed. “I’m sure.”
Harry smiled. “Well, if you’re really sure your sister being upset doesn’t bother you, you can always come sit with us for meals.”
Astoria’s eyes widened. “With you and your friends?”
Harry shrugged. “Sure, they won’t mind.” Not now that they’ve as good as called me their leader.
Astoria chewed her lip. “You’re sure, right? It’s just that, well… Daphne’s always said Malfoy’s a bully and I’ve never had many friends.”
“Daphne isn’t perfect. You don’t agree with most of what she says about me, do you?” Astoria shook her head so hard, her ponytail whipped from side to side. “Draco’s one of my oldest friends; I’ll vouch for him.”
Astoria took a deep breath, then smiled. “Thank you.”
“That’s what friends are for.” Harry smiled. “That and helping you figure out magic. Shall we?”
Soon after, in the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom…
“I just can’t do it!” Ron groaned, slumping to the floor with his head in his hands.
This had gone on for months. Once Lupin agreed to teach him, he had foolishly believed everything would change. The professor had tried telling him it wouldn’t, but Ron hadn’t listened. Now he was in Lupin’s classroom but in the same position he’d found himself in every time he tried and failed to cast the Patronus Charm — angry, frustrated, and afraid with his head in his hands and tight fists bawled in his hair.
“It’s all right,” said Lupin from his place in the corner, “up you get, Ron.” Ron’s face twisted with frustration but he stood. “Your memory must not be strong enough—”
“I can’t think of anything happier! I’ve tried so many.”
“Sometimes, the most obvious memories aren’t always the best. Keep looking. Your wand movement is perfect and so is your pronunciation. It must be the memory.”
Or I just can’t cast it. It’s supposed to be really advanced and I’ve never been anything special. His mid-term grades had been disappointing. His mother had been impressed and they were his best yet, but he had hoped for better. I’ll be better this term. I’ll show them all.
There was one way of finding out. Ron had more friends than just Hermione — friends the two of them still met with each week to practice Defence Against the Dark Arts; friends who Ron had learned more from than most of his professors.
Cedric was a fifth year and a bloody good one. If he couldn’t cast the spell, then none of them could. That would mean it was either beyond them or that Bill and Lupin had known for so long, they were forgetting something. If Cedric could learn along with him, then maybe he could offer insight none of the others could.
“I’ll try again,” said Ron, readying his wand but thinking not of days spent soaring above the bright orchard between the Burrow and a nearby village, but of the next time he would be in the Knight’s Room with Hermione, Hannah, Susan, and Cedric.
January 24, 1994
The Slytherin Common Room
Two quills scratched in perfect unison against duplicate pieces of parchment. One twin reached up and brushed the hair from her eyes just as the other reached back and tightened her ponytail. Their quills returned to scratching at the exact same time, their words written at the same, measured pace.
That’s not just a coincidence.
Harry stood right behind them, blanketed in his invisibility cloak as he watched the Carrows work away. Every now and then, he would glance over his shoulder and make sure no one came too close. Just because he couldn’t be spotted didn’t mean he couldn’t be run into.
A detection ward would have been better, but even if Harry cast it earlier in the day, it would never notify him so long as he wore his cloak. It really was a two-way magic dampener, just as Grindelwald had theorized.
Thinking of Grindelwald brought a sigh to Harry’s lips, but he restrained himself.
That old bat is never wrong.
Not only had he guessed the nature of Harry’s cloak, but he had been right to suggest learning the Disillusionment Charm. If Harry ever wanted to covertly cast magic, his cloak would be of no use.
Not that I’m complaining. None of the wards at Black Manor had stopped him whilst beneath the cloak. There aren’t many things I’d rather have than that.
Harry thought back to that last discussion he’d had with Grindelwald. It was lucky that Grindelwald almost always wound up being right because Harry could still hardly believe how willing he was to help him.
“So that’s Protego Diabolica,” Harry said when the graveyard faded and he appeared back before Grindelwald.
Harry shivered. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“It is one of the most powerful pieces of magic I know. Less destructive than Fiendfyre, but much more versatile and just as difficult to stifle.”
“And it’s true,” said Harry.
Grindelwald raised an eyebrow. “What is true?”
“My friend talked about reports of you duelling dozens of aurors. It was actually a bit of a wake-up call for me.”
“It is better to avoid those confrontations.”
“But you could do it?”
“I did it on occasion, yes. Always difficult and very dangerous, but possible, especially when commanding the Death Stick.”
“How big a difference did the wand make? Dumbledore still beat you in the end.”
“Dumbledore is the most skillful magician I have ever seen and it is my opinion none have ever surpassed him. The wand is not infallible and it has its faults, but I did things with that wand considered by all to be impossible.”
Harry yearned for that wand, but Grindelwald had warned him not to pursue the Hallows. It was an obsession that had led many to madness and Harry had one already. There was no way of finding out where the other two were and that was that.
But imagine what I could do with that wand… “Can you teach me more about combat? I’m practicing with a really good duellist, but that kind of magic still seems impossible.”
“I can give you instruction in combat, yes, though it must be nothing more than instruction given my current circumstances.” Grindelwald smiled. “Once you perform a ritual on your own and master the Disillusionment Charm, we can begin.”
Harry was unsurprised, but still he frowned. “A ritual without your help? Doesn’t it seem a bit early for that?”
“I will verify your work before you perform the ritual, but it should be yours. The runes matter less than how you interpret them, and whatever you sacrifice alongside your blood is simply a matter of understanding magical properties and relationships so long as your desired boon is reasonable. Choose one of the simpler rituals we have discussed and outline its preparation. I will not let you fall, but you will never improve without stumbling along through darkness.”
“What about Legilimency?”
Grindelwald raised an eyebrow again. “What of it?”
“Can you teach me that?”
“Not effectively, not from here. Legilimency is as much about practice as it is instruction. I imagine even more for you.”
Now it was Harry’s turn to be confused. “Why more for me?”
Grindelwald smiled. “No one who gains an aptitude for magical sensory so quickly can be anything but a natural legilimens. You will find the art comes remarkably fast, but only if you find the correct pathways. Guiding you through that process from here would be impossible.” Grindelwald looked thoughtful. “What of your instructor in its sister art?”
“I believe that was his name, yes. Ask him.”
“I doubt he’ll teach me. The only reason he’s doing it with Occlumency is because Dumbledore asked him to.”
“In which case you hear the word no. I have told you already — meekness gets you nowhere but atop a cliff overlooking a world of wasted opportunities.”
How do you argue with someone like him? “All right, fine. I’ll ask Snape.”
“Marvellous.” Harry hesitated and Grindelwald’s eyes narrowed. “What can you possibly remain wary of asking me?”
“About Gemma Fawley. The one who gave me the portkey to Nurmengard.”
“What of her?”
“She told me all she knew was that it was a portkey and its activation phrase; that and that I wouldn’t die.” Harry met Grindelwald’s eyes. “Is that true?”
“She knew whose orders she acted upon and how important I believed you were.”
“How did you even get orders to her in the first place?”
“Did you believe your amulet was the first I created?”
Shock seized him. How does he do all of this? “Gemma has one? How?”
“The Fawleys were little known agents of mine stationed primarily in Britain. Their objective was espionage and they were only ever called abroad to aid in subtle bits of subterfuge.” Grindelwald looked almost smug, the same way he had when discussing how he’d baffled those who looked into the mind he’d fractured. “The International Confederation of Warlocks never did discover many of my subtler supporters. None can free me here and all lack the power to chase the greater good, but I do not remain so powerless as those fools believe.”
Harry bit his lip. “I should trust her, then?”
“I cannot vouch for a woman I have never met. You can avoid holding her previous actions against her and pass your own judgement. In the end, you remain far more important than she.”
Now it was Harry who felt proud. I took a risk that worked; I was right about her. “I should go.”
“You should. Be aware that my memories will come faster now that we must speak more often and that your confidence has swollen.”
Harry smiled, hardly able to believe the next words he spoke. So much has changed… “I look forward to them.”
Back in the present…
Harry watched the Carrows for several more minutes before shaking his head. There was nothing here to learn beyond the odd way they did everything in sync. That could not be natural, but Harry had no idea what it meant.
I need to sleep, I’m so tired. That had been a problem lately given how often he used the time turner. Occlumency’s nice, but not perfect.
Harry’s scar prickled when his head hit his pillow, only for the soft cushion beneath it to vanish. A sense of vertigo gripped him as, suddenly, he was not in his bed but in a high-backed chair at the head of a familiar table. His followers were absent; all but one, who knelt at his feet with his head bowed.
No! Not your feet — Voldemort’s. This is a dream.
It was like being doused in cold water, but the dream did not fade. Harry still saw the world through Voldemort’s eyes, but he could recognize that he was Harry and not Voldemort.
His euphoria lasted until a sense of suspicion came over him. He wondered at it for a moment before realizing what it meant. Panic gripped his heart. Had Voldemort realized?
Harry cleared his mind at top speed, focusing on nothing but warding his thoughts as Voldemort’s own filled his mind again.
The suspicion faded.
“My lord,” Lucius Malfoy said from his place on the floor.
“My contacts have investigated Crouch, as you asked.” Voldemort felt Lucius’s apprehension rise and could practically hear his heartbeat quicken. “They found nothing, my lord.”
Nothing? The girl was Crouch’s assistant; that had to be who she referenced.
Did you really believe Lucius and his contacts were capable of besting a man like Barty Crouch? Lesser men like him never stood a chance.
“Disappointing, but not unexpected. You may leave, Lucius.”
Voldemort watched him go. What secrets are you hoarding, Crouch? What could possibly be so important?
Crouch had been a formidable enemy during the Purity War, but he could not know of his return. So what is it? Frustration gnawed at him. Lucius will learn nothing and he is best-positioned. He flexed his fingers, his heartbeat quickening. I have remained hidden too long.
A test, then; let’s see what Barty Crouch is hiding.
The year’s conclusion is coming fast. Seven chapters left to go.
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