Out of the Shadows
Chapter12: Cold as ice
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.
Thanking Sirius in his head for interrupting his conversation with Hermione about his nightmares, Harry got some of their food together for his godfather. Also seeing that their talk was over, Hermione pulled out a large volume which she began to read, glancing at Harry often. Harry sat with Sirius, and before long he pushed the thoughts of his dreadful nights to the back of his mind.
“So, Harry, did I ever tell you about the time James and I snuck into the Forbidden Forest in third year after Lily overheard us talking about it, and said we’d never have the nerve to go in there alone?” Sirius asked Harry, with a mischievous grin, looking excited to recount the tale.
Harry could also feel Hermione’s exasperation as he caught her roll her eyes from where she sat a ways away, reading. He smiled slightly and listened to Sirius’s story with interest. A few of the nights had been like this- Sirius had come back and told Harry, and Hermione, when she wanted to listen, about his time with James and the Marauders.
The stories involving his parents were understandably the most interesting to Harry, especially those with his mother in them, since they were less common. Harry would listen with rapt attention, trying to picture everything Sirius described. He had to admit, Sirius was a good story-teller; what he lacked in detail and fancy language, he more than made up for with enthusiasm and amusing antics. The night he told them briefly about how they had all decided to become animagi was particularly hilarious. And for the first time in his life, Harry felt like he actually knew his parents, by more than just a face and a name.
After finishing the story, Sirius lowered his voice and the excitement left his eyes. He suddenly looked a lot older.
“You know, I didn’t have the best childhood either,” Sirius confessed, “my parents, my brother, my relatives- evil and twisted- the whole filthy lot of them. They were into the dark arts and followers of You-Know-Who.” He gave a humorless laugh. “They all hated me, the lazy, good-for-nothing Gryffindor. I think I was the only one in my family in about a century not in Slytherin.” Sirius looked miserable talking about his family, but Harry could tell (and so could Hermione, who couldn’t help but listen nearby) that he was trying not to make it seem too pitiable.
“But, then I made some friends and things got a bit better,” after a second Sirius added with a grin, “and a lot more fun.”
The grin faded and no one said anything for a minute.
“There isn’t a day that passes when I don’t think about your dad,” he told Harry sincerely. He paused. “Having you here… it’s like… well…” he trailed off, and Harry could tell he wasn’t sure how to say it, but he understood.
“I don’t remember my parents, really. Hearing these stories about them… it means a lot,” Harry admitted, too, not looking at Sirius.
Hermione looked up from her book, watching them silently. She could almost feel the emotion in the air.
“Right, well, we don’t want to get too soppy. Might start sounding like a pair of girls, eh, Granger?” Sirius said after
sharing a look of understanding with Harry. “Now, on to a man’s topic!” he announced to the room, “Quidditch!”
Hermione couldn’t help but roll her eyes again as she went back to her book, muttering about guys being ridiculous with a small smile on her lips.
It was quite late before they all went to sleep that night, though Hermione decided to turn in before the boys this time.
Just before evening the next day, about an hour after it had gotten dark, Harry was taking a nap before Sirius got back when he began to thrash around in his sleep. Hermione quickly walked over to him and knelt down.
“Harry,” she said, trying to rouse him.
“No,” Harry mumbled in his sleep, “Have to… No! It broke… it broke…”
Most of what Harry was saying was slurred with sleep, but Hermione could make out bits and pieces.
“Please- I didn’t- It wasn’t my fault,” he whimpered.
She reached out and shook his shoulder, hoping to bring him out of his nightmare. After a bit of shaking, Harry’s eyes flew open and he jolted into a sitting position.
“Harry, it was just a dream. Are you alright?” Hermione asked him in a concerned voice, her hand still resting on his arm lightly.
He was panting and wide-eyed, looking frightened.
“Harry?” Hermione asked again after he didn’t respond right away.
He looked at her, his breathing more under control, but said nothing.
“Harry, what was your dream about?” she asked. When he didn’t respond again, she prompted, “What broke? What wasn’t your fault?”
Harry sighed. If she had heard that much, he doubted she was just going to let it go this time.
“Remember the prophecy from Dumbledore’s memories- about me and You-Know-Who?” Harry asked wearily.
When Hermione nodded, he continued.
“Well, he did know some of it, and he wanted desperately to know the whole thing… so… a few years ago he had me sneak into the Ministry of Magic to try and steal it.”
“Yeah,” Harry acknowledged, clearly uncomfortable.
“I was disguised, of course, and I got the prophecy without being caught… but at some point when I was trying to escape- I’m not sure exactly what happened, but it broke,” he told a stunned Hermione.
“You broke into the Ministry of Magic?” she asked disbelievingly. She seemed to have difficulty wrapping her head around the idea that a teenage wizard could infiltrate the center of their wizarding government without being caught.
“Yes,” Harry answered distantly. “They devised the plan, mostly, but I had to improvise some, too.” After a pause, he added darkly, “I have done a lot of things in the past that I am not proud of.”
The look on her face changed, and he felt her grip on his arm tighten a little. She spoke softly when he responded.
“Harry, I-” she stopped as they heard noise from the mouth of the cave. It sounded different tonight and they both immediately got the feeling that something wasn’t right. A chill went up Harry’s spine and the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. Some kind of screeching alarm sounded outside.
They shared a quick look and Hermione drew her wand. Harry panicked for several seconds before finding the wand Sirius had found and given him.
In seconds, Harry’s godfather appeared at the mouth of the cave.
“Get the cloak on and get out of here, fast!” Sirius shouted at them in an urgent, whispered voice. “And don’t apparate!”
He turned around and was gone as quickly as he had come.
Harry and Hermione dashed around the cave, scrambling to grab their belongings and stuff them into bags as fast as they could.
At last, Harry yanked his invisibility cloak out of his bag and turned to Hermione, speaking fast.
“I don’t know if we can both fit,” he told her anxiously.”Well we have to try! It’s dark out, at least.”
She quickly moved close to him and tugged the cloak, which they threw over themselves.
“No good- your feet,” Harry told her.
She stepped closer to him, their shoulders now pressed together with Hermione slightly in front.
“Let’s go,” Harry whispered.
They immediately caused the cloak to slide up around their ankles.
We don’t have time for this.
Harry quickly pulled Hermione tightly to his side, wrapping an arm around her to hold her in place. She gasped at the sudden movement, but copied him, and they both crouched down somewhat just to be safe.
They reached the cave’s entrance and slipped out unnoticed into the darkness. The blaring noise was so much louder outside they cringed. Immediately, a man spoke a ways off to their right. The pair froze, listening intently.
“Must be hiding… Send in the Dementors!” he commanded in a loud voice. “They’ll find ’em.” They tensed. Harry pulled Hermione away from the direction of the man’s voice before she took the lead, guiding them toward what looked like a small village. The moon was giving them just enough light to have an idea of where they were going.
If we’re near Hogwarts, that must be Hogsmeade.
They crept into the dimly lit village as quickly as they could without risking the cloak slipping too much. An icy chill spread through the air, and into Harry’s body. Hermione stopped suddenly, near a building to one side of the road that Harry couldn’t see well in the dark. Harry hurriedly looked around and spotted the problem; hooded figures were gliding toward them from both ends of the street, and they were closing in fast.
Harry’s chest tightened as they grew closer.
Dementors… all I’ve heard about them is that they prey on fear and “kiss” their victims. Damn. What do we do!?
Instinctively, Harry turned Hermione and pushed her face-first into the side of the wall closest to them. He then quickly shielded her body with his, trying to protect her. A distant scream worked its way into Harry’s mind. Seconds later, he heard rattling, raspy breathing just behind them. Dark images fought for dominance in his head: times he had been tortured, times he had been forced to torture others, watching Hermione tremble with pain and look at him pleadingly, her eyes begging for help.
He felt a hand on his shoulder. Even through the cloak, it felt freezing. The woman’s scream grew louder, pushing out the other images in his mind until all he saw green light. He held Hermione tighter reflexively.
Pain shot through his scar and the scream grew louder and louder, consuming his consciousness, until- suddenly it stopped. The green light blinding Harry’s closed eyes faded.
The hand had flown off his shoulder and the cold darkness surrounding him had ebbed slightly. Moving away from Hermione just enough to look around, he saw a silvery-white mist in the shape of a goat. It charged another dementor and knocked it further back down the street.
“In here,” a voice called, and they saw a door ajar a few feet from them. “Hurry up!”
Not giving it a second thought given the situation, they dove inside. The old man ushered them further into the building, which looked like a bar.
“Go upstairs. Keep the cloak on,” he instructed. “And stay quiet.”
He quickly walked back to the front door as they ascended the stairs.
From upstairs, they heard him say that letting his cat out had set off the alarms (Caterwauling Charms) and that his patronus chased the dementors away when they started swarming him. He lowered his voice and said some others things they didn’t quite catch, but the men at the door didn’t seem to like it.
“Fine,” they heard one of the men say eventually, “we’ll let you off with a warning this time.”
Shortly after, they heard footsteps coming up the stairs. The old man walked into the room. Harry noticed in the light that behind his long beard and glasses, he had bright blue eyes.
“Alright, you can take that cloak off now,” he told them, “they’re gone.”
As soon as they got the cloak off, he started to question them.
“Now who are you, and why are you trying to sneak into Hogsmeade in the middle of a war?”
Hermione answered quickly.
“We were trying to get into Hogwarts, but then someone sent dementors after us.”
Harry sat there silently, impressed with how quickly Hermione had come up with that story.
“The Death Eaters- they’ve taken over at Hogwarts. Don’t want anyone getting in or out who they don’t approve of. You don’t want to go there now. Not with the Carrows dealing out the punishments.” The man looked weary, but sharp. “So who are you, then?”
Hermione hesitated, clearly not sure whether to reveal their true identities.
“I’m Hermione Granger,” she eventually answered. “And this… this is Harry Potter.”
The man looked interestedly at Harry.
“My brother always swore you were still alive. Had some sort of grand scheme for you, I expect.” His words sounded bitter. “Well, I don’t know how you survived this long, Potter, but your best bet now is to get as far away from here as you can.”
Harry wanted to mention Sirius, but thought better of it since he didn’t know if he could trust this man or if he knew of Sirius’s innocence.
“We need to get into Hogwarts,” Harry told the man. He still felt strongly that one of the Horcruxes or something that could help them might be there.
The man shook his head.
“Not with my help, boy… you haven’t got a chance in there. No, the best bet is to find a way to get you out of here.”
Harry went to say something, but the man continued speaking, somewhat to himself.
“You can’t leave at night; you’ll set the charms off for sure and have dementors flooding the place again. If you wait until the morning, just after the sun comes up, you might be able to sneak out using the cloak. But then you need to get out of Hogsmeade as fast as you can. Head into the mountains; there are caves up there where people hide out once and a while- usually the Death Eaters don’t find them there.”
“You mentioned your brother,” Hermione said once he finished speaking. “Who is your brother?”
The man looked uncomfortable but answered anyway.
“Albus was my brother. I expect you knew him,” he said, addressing Hermione.
“Oh, I didn’t even know Professor Dumbledore had a brother, even with everything I read about him…” she looked a cross between disappointed in herself and puzzled.
“Yes, my brother rarely mentioned me. I did not have the same ambitions of greatness and change. My name is Aberforth.”
“We really need to get into Hogwarts,” Harry repeated. “Your brother left me with a job, and I need to go there if I have any hope of finishing it.”
“He left you a job?” Aberforth asked. “Had you ever even met him?”
“No, but-” Harry tried to respond.
“Then why are you going around following a dead man’s orders? All you are going to do is get yourself killed.”
“I have to do this,” Harry answered. “Your brother figured out how to stop You-Know-Who and he left memories for me explaining how to stop him. I’ve got to be the one to finish this.”
“You don’t have to do anything,” Aberforth said a bit more forcefully. “This plan of my brother’s, did he even tell you all the details? Did he make everything clear to you? Was he completely honest with you?”
Harry didn’t answer. He couldn’t. Aberforth was right- he didn’t even know Dumbledore. Could he really trust him? Was this plan anything more than a blind excuse to cling to hope?
“You might as well give up now, Potter. The Order of the Phoenix can’t handle them this time, and You-Know-Who has got the Ministry and now Hogwarts. It’s done.”
“I’m not going to give up, not when I know there is still a chance- still something no one’s tried,” Harry told him finally. “We are the only ones who know about it, and we are the best chance anyone’s got. So if you aren’t going to help us, then we will leave quietly in the morning, just like you want, and figure out a way in ourselves. But if there is any way you can help us, anything else you can tell us, you might just be saving the entire world by not letting us die trying to sneak into a guarded castle.”
Harry wasn’t sure what to expect from Aberforth in response, but for at least a minute, he just regarded Harry with his bright blue eyes. And Harry stared back at the brother of the man Harry had spent a considerable part of his life believing to be his greatest enemy.
Eventually, Aberforth stood and walked over to a large painting of a girl. Harry quickly noticed that it was the only
form of decoration in the whole room. He had been so focused on the man who saved them that he hadn’t even taken the time to look around.
Aberforth merely nodded to the girl, who smiled and walked away from them into the distance in the painting. Harry had never seen a painting do that, but before he could question it, Aberforth spoke.
“They’ve blocked off every other secret entrance. This is the only way into Hogwarts, now,” Aberforth told them in a resigned voice. “But once you get inside… I hope you don’t expect it to be easy to avoid Snape and the Carrows. Not to mention all the other Death Eaters and dementors stalking around. I still think you’d be better off getting away from here and out of the country, but that’s on you.”
The girl returned, walking back toward them in the painting, but this time she wasn’t alone. There was someone with her, who looked like he was struggling a bit to keep up. The guy looked taller than the girl in the painting, and when he got close enough to see his expression, he looked quite confused.
Suddenly, the portrait swung open like a door, revealing a passageway. A guy looked out at them, bewildered and scruffy-looking. A large smile spread across his face as he spotted them.
Harry had no idea who he was.