Out of the Shadows
Chapter 6: The Memories
Writter: fall shadow
Summary: Harry has been raised to follow a path of darkness, but when he meets Hermione things start to change and he finds out everything he has been led to believe is a lie. Now, with a strengthened resolve, he must do whatever it takes to stop the one he once considered his master.
Harry fell back into the room, his chair tilting back somewhat before righting itself with a thud as he landed. A swirling pool of memories sat before him in a pensieve. That’s pretty much how his head felt, spinning, with his insides churning. Dumbledore had left him a collection of memories, some of his memories, designed specifically for Harry. The sheer vastness of the information Harry had just had thrust upon him was enough to leave him reeling. The fact that several of the memories had been about him, and about his future, or lack thereof, just added to that in no small way. He felt like he could hardly breathe.
‘Neither can live while the other survives.’ I was marked by him. He tried to kill me, but couldn’t. That’s how I got my scar. He really did kill my parents. I’m only one who can kill him. And if I don’t, he’ll kill me. Why didn’t he just do it before? He would’ve had plenty of chances while I was at the Malfoys’.
I’m the only hope for the whole Wizarding World. So now I have to defeat one of the darkest wizards of all time, and up until a few days ago, I was doing his bidding and thought I was going to become one of his followers myself.
Could this really all be true…?
There was more to see, but Harry needed a break. His stomach felt sick, and he thought for sure he was going to throw up.
At least I didn’t eat breakfast this morning before looking at this stuff.
Lupin walked into the room, his eyes quickly assessing Harry.
“Here,” he produced a silver bar from his inside coat pocket. “Eat this; it’ll help,” Harry seriously doubted whatever it was would cure his inner turmoil, but glanced at the object anyway.
“It’s chocolate.” Harry noticed that it was, indeed, a bar of chocolate wrapped in silver paper. Just looking at it made his stomach twist uncomfortably, but Harry gingerly took it and placed it on the table next to the pensieve.
“Was it that bad?” Lupin asked him. It seemed the man had expected something grave in the memories Dumbledore had left him.
“I’m not even done yet,” Harry managed a small chuckle at his own expense, but they both knew it was halfhearted at best. “Don’t know what else he could drop on me after that.”
Lupin stood there for a minute, finally saying, “I’m not going to ask you to tell me anything, but if I can be of any help, all you need to do is ask.” With that he turned to leave, saying, “Hermione is with her parents. I’m sure she would be willing to help you, too.” As an afterthought he added, “Although, she may not be as willing to let you off with not telling her what you found out.” Harry could hear the slight undertone of teasing in his voice, and watched him walk away.
After a few minutes, Harry’s eyes drifted back to the silvery-white, semi-transparent liquid whirling in front of him. He took several deep breaths, trying to steel his nerves. It wasn’t working. Sighing, he looked over at the
Eh, why not? He picked up the chocolate and ate half of the bar. I doubt it could make me feel much worse. Turning back to the basin and readying himself, Harry started to lean forward. Whatever it is, it can’t be much worse than last time…
A short while later, Harry once again returned to his chair. He didn’t know what to think. Everything in the house was quiet for several minutes. Harry tried to go over what he had learned from Dumbledore’s memories; there was just so much. Horcruxes, a dark, evil magic that few people even knew about. Voldemort had split his soul into pieces in an attempt to safeguard his life.
Dumbledore had explained the process, to his knowledge, his theories on the how many Horcruxes Voldemort had, how to destroy them (though there wasn’t very much on that subject), and some spells that might be helpful. The wise old wizard also said that he had left Harry some items in his will that might help him on his journey.
The journey; the impossible-sounding voyage to who-knows-where to find famous or otherwise significant objects that had been tainted with the darkest kind of magic, and destroy them by some unknown means, only to return and fight one of the most powerful wizards in the world who just happened to also be the one who killed his parents. How the hell was he supposed to do that? He didn’t even know where to start. And the longer he waited, every day, every week, every month that passed, Voldemort got stronger and more and more people died. Harry sighed wearily; his whole body and mind felt drained.
Why me? How can you just drop something like this on someone?
With all of the thoughts fighting for attention in his head, Harry had a serious headache and was finding it difficult to focus on any one thing for more than a minute. Casting his eyes toward the hallway, he wondered what Hermione was doing.
Probably reading that book Dumbledore left her in his will. I wonder why Lupin waited to give it to her until he gave me the things left for me.
Forcing himself out of the chair, he trudged down the hall toward Hermione’s room. He figured that her parents must be sleeping or reading in their guest room, because the door was ajar, but he couldn’t hear any noise. He had no idea where Lupin had gone, and he didn’t know which room was his of the few remaining. Unable to find more reasons to stall, Harry faced Hermione’s room. The door wasn’t completely shut, but Harry tapped lightly on the door and waited for her permission to enter anyway.
She was sitting on her bed wearing the same clothing as this morning, which Harry reminded himself was not long ago, with a book next to her. Her eyes took in his appearance for a moment.
“Oh, Harry, are you alright?” her voice was full of worry. “Was it that bad? I can’t imagine what it would be about, or why he would have left it to you specifically. What did you see?” She seemed to say all of this in one breath. Harry, whose head was already swimming, winched at her questions.
“Err… look, I know you want to know about everything, but I have an awful headache, and for right now I think I want to just lie down.”
Hermione looked like a child that had just been told she would have a wait a week to open her Christmas presents. Despite his own lack of experience with gifts and having a real Christmas, he couldn’t help but crack a smile at the image that popped into his head: a younger version of Hermione, skinny and with bushy hair and braces (he wasn’t sure why he pictured her this way) wearing a t-shirt that was slightly too large for her and plaid pajama bottoms with bare feet, sitting amid a small mountain of presents, a lot of which were book-shaped.
Harry blinked, coming back to the present, and noticed that Hermione was now standing a few feet in front of him.
“Are you alright? You- what are you smiling about?” Hermione looked genuinely confused, and for some reason Harry felt that was a rare sight.
“Nothing,” he answered. The small grin on his face faded fast as the smothering reality caught up to him again. He sighed. “I’m sorry, I know you want to hear everything now, but it was a lot to take in, and-”
“It’s alright,” Hermione told him, before he could finish, “I understand. I can wait to hear about it.” She still looked disappointed.
“Thanks,” Harry said sincerely, “I think I’m going to rest for a while.”
There was a short pause, and Harry felt like she wanted to say something but held herself back.
“Lupin went out somewhere, but I’ll be here. Let me know if you need anything.” She looked at him again as she sat back down, picking up her book and opening it to the page she had marked.
Harry wasn’t even aware of the short trip back to his room. To his great surprise, he fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. Not that surprising, however, was the fact that he woke up not long after, feeling miserable and like he had hardly slept at all.
Harry gave a heavy sigh and turned to look out the window, trying to judge the time. It looked pretty dark, and he guessed it to be evening. Listening carefully, he could hear people talking in another room, probably the living room or kitchen.
Is there any chance that was all just a dream? Falling into a bowl of memories and finding out that I am destined to kill the dark wizard who murdered my parents, or die trying… that sounds more believable as a dream than reality.
Is this even real? What if they are lying to me? But Lupin had a picture with himself and my parents… and Dumbledore’s memories… that couldn’t all be made up could it? The Death Eaters never really gave me any proof at all- I just grew up thinking what they had told me because it was all I knew.
Harry pushed himself up and walked to the bathroom, washing his face, which helped to wake him up. He walked into the kitchen to find Hermione standing there alone, with her parents’ voices drifting in from another room. Hearing the floor creak, Hermione turned around.
“Harry, you’re awake. How do you feel?” She was holding a plate in her hands that looked wet.
“Better than before, but… not much,” he admitted.
She gave him a look of sympathy and didn’t push further, turning back to the dishes, but Harry got the impression that she was still willing to talk.
“So, did you find anything interesting in the book?”
“No,” she told him in a tone that clearly said she was not pleased with that answer. “I read the whole book and looked things up in some of my other books I brought from home, and… nothing. It just looks like a collection of children’s stories. Why Dumbledore would leave me a book of stories like that, I have no idea.”
Her frustration was palpable, so he decided to try to change the subject. He walked over next to her and grabbed a dry towel that was on the corner.
“Here, I’ll help,” he offered his hand and she gave him the plate.
“Thank you. There aren’t many more,” she still seemed distracted, and Harry frowned.
“Do you want to hear about some of the stuff from Dumbledore’s memories?” he suggested, though not wholeheartedly. Just thinking about it made his chest tighten uncomfortably.
She perked up for a second, but then seemed to decide against it.
“No, that’s alright. Why don’t we just try to forget about it for tonight and tomorrow? It’s Christmas.”
“What, it is?” Harry asked startled to realize that he really had no idea what day it was.
“No, tomorrow is,” she told him, amused by his shocked reaction. “Tonight is Christmas Eve. So, why don’t we just try to enjoy it while we can?” Harry wasn’t convinced that she was convinced of her own idea, but a day to relax sounded alright with him. That is, if he was able to relax with everything going on in his head.
“Anyway, I have a feeling that after Christmas, we aren’t all going to be able to relax together for a while.”
“What do you mean?”
She glanced over at him, and quietly told him, “I have to do what I can to put a stop to what is going on… they didn’t take me hostage for nothing you know.” Seeing that Harry was about to say something, she spoke first, “But like I said, let’s just worry about that after Christmas. We can talk about it later.”
Just then, Hermione’s cat hopped up on the counter next to them, eyeing Harry warily.
“Oh, Crookshanks, it’s alright. That’s just Harry,” Hermione told the cat, ignoring the snort Harry couldn’t hold back in response to its name. “But you really shouldn’t be up on the counter.”
With a haughty flick of the tail, the cat jumped back down and left the room, not even looking back at the pair of them.
“…Crookshanks?” Harry asked, his eyebrows raised and a smile playing on his lips.
“Yes,” she told him, not looking up from the dishes. “That was his name when I got him from the shop in Diagon Alley. He is part Kneazle.”
Having finished the dishes, Hermione cleaned up the area and took the towel from Harry, putting it away. He watched her, a dozen question running through his mind.
“My parents are in the living room having some hot chocolate; you would like to properly meet them? Showing up in the middle of the night unexpectedly and demanding they leave their house isn’t much of an introduction.” Her tone was light, but Harry felt nervous all the same. He had appeared in the middle of the night, a complete stranger, with their daughter, and forced them out of their home with little explanation.
He gave an awkward laugh as his response, and she picked up on his obvious unease. Rolling her eyes, she told him, “Honestly, they are nice people. You have nothing to worry about. Compared to the-” she stopped short, but he knew she had been about to say Malfoys. “Well, unless you are afraid of dentists?” she asked, jokingly, trying to redirect their focus. At Harry’s confused look she told him that her parents were both dentists. Seeing that she was trying to lighten up the mood for his benefit made him feel a bit better.
“Oh, I don’t really want to tell them about… everything that happened. If they ask how we met, I’ve got it covered. Just… try to be honest without telling them too much.”
Harry nodded, hoping that he would be able to do that. He wasn’t exactly used to meeting people who could be called “nice”.
This is ridiculous. After everything else today, I certainly shouldn’t be worried about meeting a couple of muggles.
Following her into the living room, he saw her parents sitting on the couch looking at a muggle radio which Lupin was pointing his wand toward.
“Thank you for doing the dishes,” Hermione’s mother said to her as they walked into the room. “Remus is fixing an old radio to tune into a Christmas station so we can at least have some holiday music.”
“Oh, good, it wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without Christmas carols,” Hermione answered.
She seems excited. Harry noted, as he hesitantly sat down with Hermione on the smaller couch. Crookshanks immediately locked his piercing eyes on him from across the room as he neared the cat’s master, as if scrutinizing him.
“So, Mum and Dad, this is Harry. He helped me out the night we came to get you.”
“Hello, Harry. I’m Lynn Granger, Hermione’s mother. It’s nice to meet you.” She held out her hand politely to shake, and Harry had a second of panic as he reached out.
My hands are sweating. And shaking. She is going to notice, for sure.
Her handshake was gentle, but not weak.
“And I’m David Granger, Hermione’s father.” He held out his hand, too, and met Harry’s eyes before they shook. Their handshake was definitely firmer on both sides, but not unfriendly.
“So, you are a wizard, Harry?” her mother asked him.
Harry nodded, and then added, “Yes,” feeling it might be more polite.
“Did you go to Hogwarts, or some other wizard school?” Out of the corner of his eye, he could tell he had Hermione’s undivided attention, as well as Lupin’s.
“Er, well, no. I was… home-schooled.”
“Oh, are your parents magical, too?” her mother asked. Hermione tensed next to him, but Harry didn’t react much; he had expected it.
“Yes, they were. But my parents died when I was very young,” he said, avoiding saying that they were killed. “I grew up with my Aunt and Uncle, and their son. They are muggles- non-magic people,” he added quickly, trying to make sure it didn’t sound like a negative thing, which was hard to do when talking about his relatives. Not to mention that he had been raised to think of muggles as scum. “Then, when I was ten, I… went to live with another family. They were witches and wizards, and they… taught me magic.”
“You’ve been there since you were ten?” Hermione asked in a quiet voice, sounding horrified. Her parents seemed to notice and gave him an interested look. The expression on Lupin’s face was attentive, but he kept himself from reacting much.
“Yes,” he answered to Hermione and turned to her parents, “the family that I lived with, they… weren’t the nicest people.”
Well that was the understatement of the century.
“Harry had a rough childhood,” Hermione added quickly on his behalf, before they could ask more about his past. Her parents seemed to understand from Hermione’s tone not to ask more about it for now, and were quiet for a minute, debating what to say.
“Well, is there anything you like to do?” her father asked finally.
With only a moment’s hesitation, Harry answered, “Flying.” He felt a curious gaze from Hermione. “I always got the worst broom, but I loved it. And Quidditch. A few times when they were short a player, they let me join in. I’m a fair seeker. And I’m not that bad at the other positions. Once they figured that out though, I didn’t get to play as much.” Harry was going to continue when he noticed the looks on their faces.
Hermione looked intrigued and curious, and also a little sympathetic. Her parents both wore expressions of confusion; though he could tell they were trying to follow along.
“You have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?” Harry said, laughing at himself a little, looking uncomfortable again.
“I’ve read about Quidditch, and I went to a match once or twice at Hogwarts, but that’s about it,” Hermione told him. “And I don’t think my parents know anything about it.”
“Oh,” Harry said, feeling foolish for having said so much about something they didn’t understand, “sorry about that, then.”
“Maybe you can explain it to me some time,” Mr. Granger offered, “I like to watch some sports, and it sounds interesting.”
Harry nodded and the conversation turned to Christmas: traditions, presents, how they would handle it this year in hiding, memories from other years and trips, and various other things about the holiday season. Lupin was sitting there listening and occasionally adding to the conversation. At first, Harry was truly interested in hearing them talk about their family and past Christmases. They all looked happy reminiscing and listening to the Christmas songs once the radio was fixed.
For a while, Harry smiled with them, trying to forget about everything else going on. But eventually, his thoughts turned to his own life.
I’ve never really had a happy Christmas, or any holiday… that I can remember, at least. And now… I may never get the chance.
Harry looked away from the Grangers, a hollow feeling spreading through him.
I will probably never have this… real holidays, presents, a family. I’m not sure I ever expected to, but now it seems so much more real that I never will.
Harry got up quietly, and walked into his bedroom. Bracing his arms on the windowsill, he looked outside. Because it was nighttime, all he could see was his own reflection. He stared at himself in the window, surrounded by darkness, and wondered what would become of him. Right now, he wasn’t even sure he knew who he was…