Perversion of Purity
Year 3: The Looming of Shadows
Chapter 24: Prodding Vipers
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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March 21, 1994
The Chamber of Secrets
It was odd being back in the main hall again given how much time he had spent pouring over Slytherin’s journal and all the other secrets the man had hidden. Those rooms had a comfortable feel about them despite all they hid, whereas this chamber always felt ominous.
Vast pools of shadow filled its centre and danced around its edges. Often Harry thought he saw movement from the corner of his eye, but each time, it proved naught but a trick of the light. Then there was the basilisk’s corpse, still sprawled against one wall where it had fallen. I really need to do something about that.
Bright green powder spread in complex runes all across the floor, glowing, appearing almost to give off its own sickly light.
A conjured clock chimed and he took a deep breath. The solstice had arrived and it was time to begin.
It began like the first ritual, a quick slice across his wrist and a small stream of blood spattered across every inch of powder. The pain throbbed in time with his heartbeat, but he paid it no mind. Dread had more success at creeping in. The first ritual was awful, and this one’s bigger.
He came to the end of the final rune and looked over his handiwork. The crushed serpent horn still glowed, making the smears of blood look darker, more a wine red than crimson.
He took a deep breath and discarded his wand, plus the ring and the chain carrying both his amulets. Here goes nothing.
The pain was different this time — not sharp needles, but something deeper. It started in his stomach then built like water raging against a dam, pushing outwards, tearing at something inside him. It never spread like the last, just grew more intense until black spots swam before his eyes.
Then it ended in a golden flash that left a spinning chamber behind. The black spots swelled and his knees gave way. At least he warned me I might pass out.
March 26, 1994
An Abandoned Classroom
Gasping breaths filled still air as Harry panted, leaning against one wall and clutching a stitch in his side. I’m gonna need more physical enhancement rituals. I never imagined duelling could be so exhausting.
It was the most intense duel he had ever been in. She was trouncing me not that long ago — I almost had her.
That was when he realized he was not the only one panting. The first clue came when his wand was not immediately returned, the next when he forced himself to hold his own breath and listen. She’s as tired as I am.
The realization was a shock that wiped the fatigue away. His legs hardened beneath him and the dull ache ebbed away all at once. Even his heart seemed to slow, his breaths calming as joy bloomed inside his chest.
“You’ve gotten good,” Cassie said as if reading his mind, straightening up and wiping loose strands of blonde hair from her face.
“I’ve had a good teacher,” he said with a grin. That much was true. Cassie was an exceptional duellist with exceptional patience.
She smiled. “I think you’ll actually beat me before I graduate.” She didn’t sound bitter, just surprised.
“I hope so.” I’d better. You’re good, but you’re no Voldemort.
“I wouldn’t worry too much either way,” said Cassie, tossing him back his wand. He caught it deftly, feeling fonder of it than ever as he twirled it through his fingers. “I’m honestly not sure if anyone else at Hogwarts could beat you right now.”
His stomach dropped with surprise. That can’t be right. The more he thought, the more he realized it might be. Bloody hell, this year’s gone well.
“Are you all right?” she asked, frowning.
“Yeah, sorry, I drifted off. I’d never really thought about it like that.”
Her frown vanished, replaced by a chilling smirk. “Don’t get too confident. You haven’t beaten me yet, and until that changes, I’ll be sure to remind you.”
Harry’s own expression smoothed, muscles tensing beneath his skin. “Another round, then?”
March 31, 1994
I have tried convincing my sister for months that she needs to see reason, but she’s never listened. I don’t know if you’ve enchanted her, or if it’s just been blatant manipulation. I plan to end it.
You might not have been the Heir of Slytherin, but there are far too many coincidences around you. Professor Quirrell died the same night you disappeared, and that’s saying nothing of the Chamber of Secrets. We never did find out who was responsible — probably because you made sure they never found the body.
I’m giving you until the start of May to cut ties with my sister. You’ve convinced her to like you, so I don’t want it to be sudden. Do it politely and with enough time left before exams so she isn’t distracted. That’s the last thing she needs given her troubles.
Sharp pricks of heat appeared on his arms, rising up his neck and settling in his cheeks. She’s threatening me now? Blatantly threatening me? Surely if she believes half of what she’s saying, this note is suicide.
It made no sense at first, but Harry began realizing where her confidence had come from. She acted against me last year and I never struck back. She must think I’m afraid to act.
That angered him almost as much as the letter. The attack had been one thing, but the way she assumed everything about him made his hands tremble. There had been a time not long ago before magic when all the disgusting creatures around him thought they knew everything there was to know. Much longer ago, a crowd of those same monsters assumed things about an innocent girl even as they pelted her with stones.
I’ll just have to prove she doesn’t know as much as she thinks. Then, she’ll never act again.
Harry sensed someone’s approach before the footsteps came near his bedroom door. He blanked his face and turned his chair around.
Keeping his expression smooth was difficult once the door opened without a knock. There was no dark hair, grey eyes, or anything else that distinguished Regulus Black. Instead, he was greeted by pale skin and scarlet slits as Lord Voldemort stepped across the threshold.
“I wasn’t expecting you.”
Voldemort’s red eyes roamed around the room, but there was little to see. “That was by design.”
“Did you ever investigate the lead I passed on over the winter holidays?” Let’s see how open he is. I’ll know if he lies this time.
“Recently. My findings were most interesting.”
I didn’t expect that. The question hung between them, but Harry was unsure whether to reach for it. Sod it, there’s no better way to judge him. “Was there anything you’d be willing to share?”
Voldemort’s lips curled. “Curiosity is not a sin, Harry. It is a great tool when directed, but I won’t be sharpening it quite yet.”
“Not until I give you a firmer decision?”
“I’ll take it you have not yet come to one?”
“I need more time. It’s a big decision to make. Dumbledore keeps a close eye on me and I worry he’d puzzle it out.”
“A half truth,” Voldemort purred, chilling Harry’s blood. “I think you’ll find that, soon, you’ll need not worry about Dumbledore.”
I doubt that. Voldemort had had a decade to deal with him and failed. Grindelwald himself called Dumbledore the greatest wizard he had ever met. Muggle lover or not, I don’t see Voldemort getting rid of him so easily.
“Think on your decision,” said Voldemort. “I await it eagerly and by the summer holidays.”
“Of course. May I ask a question?”
“I’ve heard people call you the most feared legilimens of all time. Is that true?”
Voldemort smiled, a cold, snake-like expression. “I am the most feared wizard of all time for a reason. Legilimency is but a single stroke of the grander picture.”
Harry chose his next words carefully. “You told me to investigate the Carrows and I took your advice.”
A gleam appeared in those scarlet eyes. “And your findings?”
“They move almost in sync. It’s actually kind of creepy. It can’t be a coincidence; I’ve watched too often and it’s all too perfect.”
Voldemort’s face bore no expression. “Curious. And you wonder whether a psychic link may be responsible?”
“Something like that, yeah.” He hesitated. “I asked someone else recently, but they told me any magic like that would break someone’s mind.”
“They may well be right. Not even I have pushed the mind so far. It’s an intriguing possibility, but it’s not how they’re connected. None but I could forge that link.”
I’ll just assume your sixteen-year-old self doesn’t count, then. “Do you have any ideas you’d be willing to share?”
“There are other links outside the mind.” A sudden shiver ran up Harry’s spine. One of those connections existed between him and Voldemort, a fact the Dark Lord must know naught of. “I think you would do well investigating those possibilities.”
Then he turned and left, gliding out of the room with the tassels of his black cloak slithering behind him.
Harry watched him go with dread coiled tightly in the pit of his stomach. Something’s really wrong with the Carrows and it’s way worse than I realized.
April 4, 1994
Bright sunlight filtered through dark stained glass, dappling across shining silverware as the sounds of clinking utensils slowed.
“Are you excited to go back?” Regulus asked.
“It’s been less than four days,” Harry said with a smile.
Regulus waved his hand. “That’s entirely beside the point.”
“My Mind Arts instructor at Hogwarts is less pleasant company than you.”
Harry had asked after Regulus’s Occlumency that first night back. It stood to reason the Lord of the Founding House of Black would be an occlumens, and Regulus was apparently an excellent one. They had worked on Legilimency each of the days he spent at Black Manor. It had gotten more focus in the past four days than at any time with Snape and Harry was shocked how intuitive it was.
Regulus’s smile remained, but Harry thought something in it looked strained. “Yes, Snape is an excellent wizard, but was never much of a looker.”
“I think he passed along a spell after your brother first attacked me. I can’t be sure, but I think so.”
He had thought long and hard about the Halfblood Prince. There weren’t many options. Dumbledore would just have told me the spell in his office and no one else would pass along something like that. It made sense; that spell could easily have been what severed Black’s hand.
“Which spell is this?”
“Ah yes, that was a specialty of Snape’s back at Hogwarts.”
“It was definitely him, then?”
“I can’t say for sure, but I’d imagine so. Lupin probably knows it, but it’s not exactly the sort of spell he’d pass along.”
“Partly. One of the reasons Snape created that spell was to deal with Lupin.”
Harry frowned. “Deal with Lupin?”
Regulus’s eyebrows rose. “You haven’t worked it out, have you?”
“Worked out what?”
“Lupin’s a werewolf.”
Harry spat out a mouthful of orange juice. “A werewolf? Lupin?”
“Yup. I never knew at Hogwarts, but he helped Dumbledore try and negotiate with the wolves during the Purity War.”
Harry’s mind reeled. That must have been why the spell was so violent. Werewolves are supposedly durable, but I doubt they’d survive something that carves through stone. “And Dumbledore let him teach,” Harry said, shaking his head.
Regulus’s lips thinned. “Dumbledore has a habit of putting faith in people who don’t deserve it. Ask his opinion on Lupin, if you’d like. Feel free to tell him who told you if he asks. It might lead to an interesting discussion.”
“I’ll keep it in mind,” said Harry as he eyed the clock. “There was something else I wanted to ask you before showering and getting ready.”
“Is it possible to create some kind of bond between souls?”
Blood leached from Regulus’s face, leaving him chalk pale. Something akin to rage boiled in those storm grey eyes, flashing like jagged bolts of lightning as every line in his face hardened.
“Why are you asking about that?” His voice was colder than ice and sharper than steel.
Harry resisted the urge to gulp. Bloody hell, I’ve put my foot in it somehow. “The Dark Lord told me to watch the Carrows. They were the ones with the diary last year.”
“I’m aware.” Regulus’s words were no softer.
Harry mussed his hair. “Well, I watched them a bit and they do everything in sync. I thought at first it was some sort of link between their minds, but both Snape and the Dark Lord told me that was probably impossible without breaking them.”
Regulus closed his eyes and took a deep, shuddering breath. “I’ll answer, but I want your promise that you won’t go looking into soul magic.”
Harry frowned again. “What —”
“Your promise, Harry.”
Harry met his gaze, unwavering as it was. “All right,” he agreed, “I won’t go looking into soul magic.” Something cold brushed across his knuckles. Weird. It felt like it came from the ring Lucius got me.
The tension ebbed from his guardian’s shoulders. “It’s possible,” he said. “I’ve never heard of two souls being linked, but based on the artifact that controlled them, I can imagine it happening. That diary touched their souls in a way most magic can’t. That sort of magic…” He grimaced. “It’s vile — disgusting magic like that leaves scars, and I’m the furthest thing from a believer in the ministry’s propaganda about dark magic and all that other nonsense.”
Bloody hell, this is complicated. “So you think there might be some sort of side effect from the diary?”
Regulus had the air of someone choosing their words very carefully. “I think it’s certainly possible, yes. The Dark Lord would know better than I.”
He didn’t want to tell me, either. There really must be some twisted things you can do with soul magic if neither of them will explain it.
April 9, 1994
Harry breathed a sigh of relief when he finally extricated himself from Pansy. She’s great and all, but Merlin that girl can be overbearing.
He grimaced when remembering the excuse he’d used to get away. Her birthday was approaching soon and he really would need to find her a gift if he wanted to avoid her suspicion.
Part of him hadn’t wanted to be in Hogsmeade at all. The workload had increased since returning to Hogwarts that previous Monday. None of his classes were at all difficult, but the sheer amount of homework took more time than he wanted, especially the nonsensical predictions demanded by the fraud, Trelawney.
Only the memory of a black shadow had pulled him back. If Black’s staying in Hogsmeade, it’s time to find out where.
Harry moved invisibly across the street, finally having mastered the Disillusionment Charm. He reached the mouth of the alley from where Black had seen him on Valentine’s Day, then frowned.
The snow had melted, but puddles shimmered across the stones ahead, reflecting dark rooftops and pale rays of sun. In his Animagus form, Black could notice the slightest disturbance if he was nearby and Harry trodded through them. The ground around the stones was soft and caked in mud, but it was the better option. Harry silenced his feet to avoid any sounds and crept slowly down the alley.
He almost reached its end when he saw the first paw print.
Got you, Black.
Following the prints was easy, but when he came to the spot they stopped, he just found himself confused. Why the hell would Black be walking to Honeydukes?
A buzzing crowd still bustled inside. Moving through the droning din of noise and bodies wasn’t easy. Being silent and invisible didn’t stop him from being solid, and a collision could cause problems he wanted nothing to do with.
Almost half an hour passed and Harry thought the search lost until he saw a single print — faint lines of mud still smeared behind the counter, beyond which was nothing but a single, rickety door.
A wordless Homenum Revelio told him no one was behind the door, so he crept through. Beyond it was nothing but extra storage. He felt no sign of Black, nor anyone else. Sure he was alone, he lit his wand and crept around the room, pausing when his eyes widened upon something set in the floor.
You bastard, Harry thought, reaching for the trap door. I’m going to get you.
April 16, 1994
An Abandoned Classroom
The air left Ron’s lungs as he sat down hard, his wand slipping from numb fingers and clattering across the stones.
“Are you all right?” Cedric asked, offering him a hand up. Ron took it with a scowl, pain still stabbing sharply beneath his ribs. Twice in one day, bloody hell.
It was the second time Cedric had beaten him in the past twelve hours. The first had been out on the Quidditch pitch. At least losing to Potter was flukey. The worst part was that Ron knew he could have won — knew that if he kept his attention on the snitch and away from the dementors that he could have made the catch.
“Fine,” he grunted.
Hermione, Susan, and Hannah were still locked in a three-way duel. None of them could beat Cedric, but Ron had frustration to take out and was probably the next best duellist, so he had fought him alone.
Cedric frowned. “You wish we were practicing that charm, don’t you?”
“A bit,” Ron admitted. That had been his plan, but Cedric said they were all burnt out and needed a break.
“Ron,” he said with a patient expression on his face, “I worry about you sometimes. You’re obsessed with that charm. It’s all you ever talk about and I’m worried you’re just not ready to cast it.”
“And what the hell is that supposed to mean?”
Cedric held up his hands. “Nothing like that, just that a break might be —”
“No! No breaks! I can get it; I have to get it.”
Strain cracked Cedric’s expression, but he sighed. “Fine. Have it your way. You ready for another round?”
Ron nodded. “Let’s go.”
April 24, 1994
The Slytherin Dorms
The fire had died by the time he crept back into the common room, replaced by smouldering embers. It was odd seeing no one lounging in any of the chairs or working away at any of the desks. There was just him and the embers — not that anyone would have seen him anyway, invisible as he was beneath Ignotus Peverell’s cloak.
Harry had come from his dorm and crossed the common room, now plunging down the opposite tunnel for the first time. There were supposed to be wards on the girls’ dorms to keep boys away, but they wouldn’t trouble him now, nor would any wards placed around Daphne Greengrass’s bed.
Soft breathing was the only sound when he crept into the third-year girls’ dorm. Silver curtains were drawn, but it mattered not. You shouldn’t make enemies with someone whose friend sleeps in the same dorm as you.
Harry pulled the curtains aside, keeping his hand wrapped in fabric smoother than water and finer than silk. Magic rippled across the cloak’s surface as he stepped past the wardline, but none of it touched him and its feeling receded.
He let the cloak fall, pooling around him on the floor as he added a Silencing Ward for good measure. She probably has one already, but I won’t be the one to check.
Her face was peaceful in sleep; strands of blonde hair were splayed across her forehead. A single string of drool protruded from her mouth as her chest rose and fell. How mortified she’d be if she knew I saw her like this.
Harry cast a Full-Body-Bind without words before taking a deep breath and pointing his wand at her forehead.
Multi-coloured petals drank in dazzling sunlight as it dappled across green leaves, shining down from a pale blue sky. It shimmered off a lake’s surface and shone like bright polish. Daphne’s blonde hair sparkled too as she laughed from the upper branch of an old oak tree.
It will never happen. You should never have threatened me; now, I really will take her from you.
Harry imagined himself on the branch beside the sisters and the scene changed.
Daphne watched them from across the Great Hall and seethed with rage as Astoria smiled adoringly up at him. Next came an argument in the Slytherin common room, then that first night in the library, and finally…
Harry’s face burning behind her eyes as she stirred a steaming cauldron, tight knots of fury tying themselves inside her chest any time she remembered the way he had smiled at Tracey.
Harry followed that strand all the way, extracting every last memory Daphne had of brewing Veritaserum and concocting her plan to dose him.
Harry broke the connection with a gasp. Blazing knives stabbed behind his eyes, gritting against his skull as pain throbbed with every burning thrust.
Greengrass was awake now, her eyes wide and filled with rage and terror as she struggled uselessly against his spell.
“It’s over,” said Harry with his wand aimed between her eyes. Her eyes stilled. “I’ll be extracting those memories and the second anything happens to me, they’ll find themselves on Dumbledore’s desk before the day is done. I’ll arrange another copy to arrive at the ministry, hopefully in the hands of Amelia Bones.”
His smile was colder than the snow that bathed in Wylla’s blood. “Did you know that the unauthorized brewing of Veritaserum is illegal, and that its unauthorized usage can even lead to time in Azkaban?” Harry leaned closer. “Oddly enough, using Legilimency is perfectly legal. I’m just not allowed to learn it — funny loophole, isn’t it?”
There was no humour in her eyes; even the rage had receded, replaced by a desperate fear Harry had not seen since the priest from Grindelwald’s memory of the night he burnt down St. Bartholomew’s church.
I’m interested to see how the pacing in this chapter is received because it’s a bit different than the usual style. Let me know what you think — there are officially three chapters left in Book 3 and things are getting serious.
Oh, and if it isn’t apparent from this chapter — yes, King John’s ring has a purpose and it will be revealed later. It’s not some world altering plot device that will shape the story’s ending, but it will come up in the future.
A lot of people have asked about it lately, so I thought I would address it here. It has not been forgotten; I’m just playing the long game there 🙂
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, April 1st 2023. ALL DISCORD MEMBERS CAN READ THE REST OF BOOK 3 RIGHT NOW! THE NEXT TWENTY-ONE 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 eighteen chapters of Book 4.
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