Out of the Shadows
Chapter 11: Pitch Black
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.
From around the corner of the cave walked a man from the picture Lupin had given Harry of the Order when they had fought Voldemort the first time. He was speaking with Dobby animatedly. The only reason Harry even remembered him was that he had been standing right near his parents in the picture. Harry stood up, and the man let out a bark-like laugh when he spotted him.
“Merlin, elf, you weren’t joking,” the man smiled and approached Harry. “I was afraid they’d get me before you turned up. You look so much like James…”
Harry felt unsure of himself, looking at the man before him whose name he didn’t even know. Hermione moved to stand next to Harry.
“Hermione, right?” the man asked her. “I think I’ve seen you around Headquarters once or twice.”
“Yes, good to see you are alright, Sirius,” Hermione said before turning to Harry.
“Harry, this is Sirius Black.” At the name, Harry flinched, looking like he had been slapped.
“I see my name precedes me,” the man said in response to Harry reaction. “Whatever you heard is probably a bunch of-” sensing foul language coming, Hermione cut in.
“He isn’t what most people believe him to be,” she said, smartly, shooting Sirius a disapproving look.
“No,” Harry said, “No, I know. He didn’t kill anyone- Wormtail did. He came around the Malfoys sometimes, but they wouldn’t let him stay there.”
“The Malfoys’?!” Sirius barked. “The elf said you had been held captive at the Malfoys- he told me just now- but I didn’t believe it.”
“Dobby does not lie, Master Sirius!” Dobby piped.
“Well, it’s true. The Malfoys kept me there and once Vo-” Harry was cut off as Sirius dove at him and covered his mouth with a hand.
“You can’t say his name,” Sirius told them quickly. “They have some sort of spell on it now. I don’t know when they started- it must have only been a day or two or I’d have been caught, too. They got some of us with it already, though. Whenever that name is spoken, the Death Eaters get alerted somehow and pop up within minutes.”
Harry and Hermione shared a look- they were going to have to be careful seeing as they both used the name frequently.
For a while, Harry once again explained what had happened to him, using as little detail as possible. At the end, Sirius seemed so outraged that Harry thought he might just go fight the Malfoys himself. He seemed proud that Harry had chosen to save Hermione though, and had laughed out loud when he told him about shoving Bellatrix, saying that maybe it would knock the last few screws out of his deranged cousin’s head.
They talked for a while afterward, a lot of the time filled with Sirius telling tales of him and James, and sometimes Lupin, from their younger days as “marauders”.
James and Sirius had been best friends growing up, and had befriended Lupin, and regrettably, Wormtail later. He told them how they had formed the Marauders, and become animagi to help Lupin with his “problem”. Lupin was a werewolf (Sirius assured Hermione that Remus would find a safe place for her parents before the next full moon), Sirius became a black dog which he showed them, and James took the form of a stag, while Wormtail was a rat.
Harry was incredibly surprised to find out that Sirius was actually his godfather. He was the closest thing to family Harry had now, since he didn’t count the Dursleys, who hated him anyway.
Sirius then explained how he had been framed by Wormtail, who killed a street full of people and chopped off his own finger to incriminate him. He vaguely recounted how he had escaped Azkaban and eventually found Remus. Smiling, he told Harry how it was actually thanks to Hermione that Lupin believed his innocence. Apparently, Hermione had found a magical map the young marauders had made of Hogwarts, which showed everyone there, displaying their name, in their exact location.
Harry thought the map sounded amazing and got side-tracked asking questions about it before Sirius brought the conversation back to how it cleared his name.
“You see,” Sirius had told him, “Hermione here, with her strict following of the rules and overall nosiness…” he shot Hermione a smile which wasn’t returned, “found our old map in the hands of two new would-be troublemakers. So naturally, being our lovely Hermione, she took it from then and handed it over to the first teacher she saw, which happened to be Remus. Bloody good stroke of luck she ran into him first, too, otherwise I might still be branded a criminal by everyone, including my friends.”
Harry turned to Hermione in disbelief.
“You cleared my godfather’s name?”
“Well, no,” Hermione answered. “He isn’t technically cleared; the Ministry still thinks he is guilty. But now the Order knows the truth, at least.”
“Because of you,” Harry added.
Hermione protested, saying it was all just a good bit of luck that it worked out, but both Sirius and Harry seemed to credit her for it anyway.
Then, Sirius told them how he was currently hiding out in this cave to keep an eye on Hogwarts.
“Apparently, the Death Eaters are taking over Hogwarts,” Sirius said.
“What?” Hermione asked, sounding angry and surprised.
“Yeah, the Order heard about their plans. They are well on their way to taking over the Ministry and now they want Hogwarts, too. Snape is likely going to be made Headmaster any day now… the greasy git is going to have everyone learning the dark arts. I also heard they are going to come up with some way to determine everyone’s blood status.”
“Surely Professor McGonagall won’t stand for this, and what about the other teachers?!” Hermione protested adamantly.
“I know you respect her, but she is no match for an army of Death Eaters, the Ministry, and You-Know-Who,” Sirius told her darkly, “even with the other professors, too. I’m sure some of them are trying to help the students out in secret. Nothing is final yet anyway. They want to make sure they secure the Ministry first. And I heard that toad Umbridge is right up there helping them out.”
The discussion about Hogwarts continued for a while, although nothing good came of it. By the end of the conversation, Hermione was irate, almost to the point of tears in frustration, while Harry had a headache and felt even more weighed down by the unimaginable task ahead of him. Sirius seemed fairly grumpy about it, too, and put off the air of wanting to do more than sit around and spy from a hidden cave.
Dobby, who mostly listened while they talked, cleaning some of the cave, had also given Harry his wand back. The elf told them that he had picked it up before disapparating. Unfortunately, it was broken and beyond repair.
Later that evening, after Dobby bid them farewell to return to Hogwarts, promising to tell only Professor McGonagall about Harry, Sirius told them that they would probably have to spend the night there. He said he wasn’t sure when it would be safe enough for them to move and go somewhere else. According to Sirius and whoever he was in contact with, going back to Lupin’s didn’t seem like a safe option right now.
They didn’t mind that much, though, seeing as both of them liked Sirius.
“Why don’t we conjure up some better sleeping arrangements or transfigure something into another cot?” Harry suggested.
“I would,” Sirius answered, “but we aren’t too far from Hogwarts, don’t forget. It really isn’t safe to do magic here, with Death Eaters crawling around. I doubt anything would happen if we did, but you never know who is trying to trace magic and the last thing we need is them charging in here to get you.”
Even though Harry didn’t know his godfather well, he got the feeling that Sirius knew he was important in the war against Voldemort.
So they got ready for sleep without magic; Sirius on his usual small cot (which the other two had refused to take) and Harry and Hermione lying on the ground with their heads propped against their bags.
Sirius fell asleep first, snoring loudly enough to let them know he was definitely out.
A while later, Harry was lying on the freezing cold cave floor, still unable to sleep. It was odd, he didn’t feel exceptionally troubled or worried, and he did feel tired, but his mind wouldn’t rest. He quietly rolled over and was surprised to hear shuffling from Hermione’s direction, too.
Maybe she is just moving in her sleep?
It was too dark to see her, but he knew where she was from when they had set up their sleeping areas. Harry moved again experimentally. He heard a quiet movement from her direction again in response. Taking a chance, Harry let his curiosity get the better of him and slid closer to where he thought she should be. He knew he had been sort of between her and Sirius, and judging by the snoring, he was moving away from this godfather. He lay out on his back with one of his hands behind his head, listening intently. Even with that noise in the background, he could now hear Hermione’s breathing if he concentrated. He noticed that it was a little uneven, and guessed that she was awake, too.
“Hermione?” he whispered, so softly that he wasn’t sure she would hear it even if she was awake.
Her breath hitched slightly before she whispered back.
“Harry? Are you alright?”
“Yeah, just can’t sleep,” he answered, before adding, “Are you okay? Why are you still awake?”
“Yes, and I can’t seem to get to sleep either.”
In the pause that followed, Harry noticed that he felt warmer than he had in his own spot and wondered just how close to her he had moved in the dark.
“Do you want to talk or anything?” Harry asked finally, his voice sounding unsure even being so quiet. “I think it might be a while before I can fall asleep.”
“Sure, but we don’t want to wake Sirius,” she cautioned.
“True…” Harry agreed. “Should we just try to sleep, then?”
For a moment only the noise of Sirius snoring filled the cave, before she answered.
“No, that’s alright. We can talk if we are quiet.”
Harry nodded before realizing that she couldn’t see him, and hastily whispered his approval.
“So, what did you want to talk about?” Hermione asked.
“Oh, err… I didn’t really have anything in mind. I just sort of thought we could talk, since neither of us can sleep…” Harry now felt foolish for suggesting they talk without having any idea of what to talk about.
“Oh, well that’s alright,” she answered. “I can think of something, then.”
There was a long pause before she spoke again, and when she did, her soft voice sounded rushed.
“There’s something I want to ask you.”
“Alright,” Harry whispered back, feeling nervous all of a sudden. She wanted to ask him something?
What could she want to ask me?
He heard her shift around a bit before speaking again.
“Earlier today…” she said in a much calmer voice, “when I was in trouble, you jumped in the way… Why?”
Harry took a long time to respond; he didn’t know what to say. He honestly didn’t know why he had put himself between her and Voldemort.
Wasn’t really the smartest thing to do, seeing as I’m supposedly the only one who can defeat him. Why did I…? He was casting the spell- I almost died.
The finality and truth behind that thought hit him hard, sending a shiver up his spine, but to his surprise, he didn’t regret what he had done.
“I- I’m honestly not sure,” Harry finally answered, “I just… did. Sorry if that isn’t a good answer.”
“That’s alright, you don’t have to apologize,” she reassured him quickly. “I was just curious.” A few seconds later, she added, “Thank you… for trying to save me.” Her voice was so quiet this time that he wasn’t sure he’d heard it.
Compliments and words of gratitude were foreign to him, and he really didn’t know how to take them. He stalled for a moment, not sure how to respond, before settling on the simplest answer he could come up with.
Hermione didn’t say anything else right away, but after a minute, he heard her take a deeper breath.
“Harry-” she stopped talking immediately when Sirius gave a loud grunt.
They heard his cot squeak as he rolled over, both holding their breath, instinctively afraid of being caught. Soon however, his snoring returned and they relaxed.
“We should probably just try to sleep now,” Hermione said quietly.
“Yeah,” Harry confirmed.
Neither of them said anything for a while, but eventually Hermione broke their silence again.
“Goodnight, Hermione,” he replied.
With that, Harry felt her move a little farther away from him. He wasn’t sure how he felt it exactly, but it was like the air next to him shifted. Figuring he should move back to his original spot, too, Harry rolled onto his side.
It’s so much colder over there… but I can’t stay here.
Sighing almost inaudibly, Harry slid back toward where he had started out for the night, finding the lumpy bag he had been using as a pillow. Resting his head on it and shivering slightly, he finally let his eyes drift closed.
The next few days went very much the same; Hermione spent nearly the entire day reading, while Harry divided his time between reading, playing with his snitch, and sitting around lost in thought. When they weren’t occupying themselves with those things, Harry and Hermione often talked about the Horcruxes and their possible locations (Harry thought Hogwarts would be a good place to look- Hermione kept mentioning Gringott’s), or the news Sirius had brought them the night before. Most days he would leave early in the morning to go do… something, and wouldn’t return until after dark. When he got back to the cave, he would eat and tell them what he had found out for the day. They all knew he wasn’t telling them everything, but were glad to at least have some information on the outside world.
One night, Sirius walked in looking more optimistic than usual.
“Pup,” he said once he spotted them.
Harry looked up, now used to his godfather sometimes using this nickname for him.
“You needed a wand, right?” Sirius tossed one to him.
“Thanks,” Harry told him, inspecting it.
“Not a fancy one, but I picked it up today and thought you could use it.”
Harry nodded gratefully.
“Sirius, I made soup if you want some,” Hermione offered, walking over to the pot.
“Hah! You’re spoiling me, Hermione. I may never want the two of you to leave,” Sirius said, sitting down.
At night, Harry was having a difficult time staying asleep. Sometimes he woke up twice a night after nightmares involving Voldemort. Once, Hermione had even shaken him from sleep because he had been having a nightmare in the morning. It struck him as odd though; sometimes he was having dreams about people he had never seen before, but suddenly someone spoke their name and he knew it was right. And in one dream, he thought he’d seen Hogwarts, which he never had in real life.
Many of his nightmares, though, took place at an all-too-familiar location. The Malfoy Manor was a common setting for his dreams, where he saw new prisoners and others being tortured and killed. Sometimes Harry experienced these things in a first-person perspective, performing the spells that harmed these people, which only made things worse for him.
Hermione seemed to notice that something was wrong, but usually she let it go without too much trouble if he simply said that he didn’t want to talk about it. She certainly didn’t seem pleased with this answer, though, and Harry would often notice her eyes following him, full of concern.
One evening when Hermione brought it up again, he expected to evade her questions easily.
“I’ve told you,” Harry said uninterestedly, “I have been having some trouble sleeping. It’s not a big deal.”
And with that, he went back to lazily catching his snitch from his position seated on the cave floor.
“Not a big deal?” Hermione asked doubtfully. “Harry, you look like you haven’t slept properly in days, and you keep mumbling and tossing and turning in your sleep.”
“I’m fine, Hermione. Can we just drop it?”
“No, you are not fine, and no, we are not just going to drop it,” Hermione answered in a firm, irritated voice. She paused before adding in a more gentle tone, “Harry, tell me what is going with you… please.”
After a few moments, Harry resigned himself to talking about it.
“Alright. I’ve been having nightmares; visions of what You-Know-Who’s been doing, seeing stuff from my past, things that could happen in the future… I don’t know, there’s nothing-” Harry stopped abruptly as they heard a noise from outside the cave.
They tensed, eyes locked, before Sirius’s voice drifted to them, whining about not being able to grab a meal all day.
And so for the time being, the conversation was over.
Harry knew she wouldn’t let it go, though. And that meant he couldn’t keep avoiding it either. Trapped together in a cave, he had nowhere to hide and he knew he would have to face her again soon. Lately, he spent most of his days trying to forget the night before, and forcing himself not to think about the darkness creeping back into the cave as the sun began to set.
Harry knew some of the nightmares must have some significance, but he wasn’t sure if he was ready to face that in the daylight, for the things he was witnessing every night were truly horrifying. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he felt like he knew some of what was happening in his dreams was real, happening as he watched it, helplessly. What he scared him the most about the dreams, though, was when he was the one doing the yelling, the torturing, the killing. Why was it like he was seeing it through his own eyes- feeling it in his own body? What did that mean? And what would Hermione think if she found out?