[Fanfic] Out of the Shadows – Chapter 16

Out of the Shadows

Chapter 16

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.

Source: here

side by side

For the second time in less than an hour, Tonks nearly fell after tripping over Harry’s makeshift bed of blankets.

“I told you to let me move them!” Harry protested loudly. “One of these times you’re going to hurt yourself!”

Ignoring Harry, she looked at Hermione, who was snickering at her clumsiness, with a mischievous smile.

“Wait until you’re pregnant, you’ll see.” Her smile grew as Hermione blushed scarlet at her following words, “Hopefully your husband will be able to be there, to pick up all the pieces in your wake.” She glanced at Harry, not trying to be discrete.

“Tonks!” Hermione said indignantly.

Grinning at the pair of them with a guilty look on her face, she waved a hand indifferently and left the living room.

The last few days had certainly been fun for Tonks, who quickly saw that she could get a rise out of them if she even hinted at something suggestive.

They looked at each other and both breathed out a sigh in accidental unison; Hermione with an eye roll, Harry without.

Smiles slowly spread on their faces at having sighed at the same time.

Within seconds they found themselves laughing.

“Hermione?”

Harry’s voice pulled her from her thoughts as they sat on the couch, relaxing after practicing the Patronus Charm.

“Hmm?” Hermione acknowledged, her mind still wondering.

“Is it alright if I ask what memory you use?”

Hermione regarded him for a moment before answering.

“Sure,” she said, “I’ve tried loads of different things though, while we’ve been practicing.”

“Well, the ones that worked the best, then,” Harry requested.

“Alright,” Hermione’s face became thoughtful before she answered. “Some memories with my parents have worked pretty well: memories of holidays with them, vacations, birthdays, everyday life… just being with them in general, but… I don’t really think those are going to work now.”

Noticing the change in her tone, Harry was quick to ask, “Why not?”

She hesitated for a few moments before answering, not looking at him.

“Usually I lose focus. I remember that I don’t know whether or not they are still safe… I start to worry about where they are and if they’re okay now and it interferes with my concentration on happier times with them in the past.”

Guilt seeped into Harry’s chest and he felt it tighten painfully. It was his fault she didn’t know if her parents were safe or not; his fault she was here, with him, instead of hiding away safely at Lupin’s or wherever they were now. He shouldn’t have let her come. Why should she have to sacrifice and put herself in danger to help him?

Without meaning to, he clenched his fists.

“It isn’t your fault, Harry.”

Her words reached through his thoughts, and shocked him back to the present.

How did she know what I was thinking?

Either she really could read his mind, or his face must have showed his surprise at her comment.

“I could tell by the way you tensed up. That’s what you were thinking, right?” she asked, but he felt like she already knew the answer.

“You shouldn’t have to be here,” Harry said in a low voice, looking away from her. “You should be with your parentswhere it’s safe.”

“I don’t have to be here, Harry; I chose to be. It isn’t safe for me, or any of us, until this war is over. You can’t do this on your own. You need help, and I’m going to help you,” she paused for a moment to let that sink. Then, in a tone that left no room for arguments, she added, “And you’re just going to have to accept that.”

Silence filled the room for a short stretch of time until Harry spoke up.

“I-” Harry started to speak in a quiet voice before knowing what exactly he planned to say. “Remember when you asked about how You-Know-Who came back?”

Hermione nodded, letting him continue.

“I was… part of it,” Harry admitted to her quietly.

He just barely heard the sharp intake of breath, and when he glanced at her face, he saw the surprise in her eyes.

Even in the dim light covering the living room during the quietly waning evening hours, he was sure he saw fear.

He looked down before continuing.

“It was a few years ago. Wormtail came to Malfoy Manor and grabbed me- brought me to some graveyard. There was a big black cauldron between the tombstones with some sort of potion brewing in it. He bound me to a statue. He said it was so I wouldn’t run away when things got interesting.”

Harry took a shaky breath before continuing.

“He… took bones out of a grave there, You-Know-Who’s father’s, I think; put them in the cauldron. And… then he sliced off his own hand. That went into the cauldron, too. After that… he walked over to me. He was saying an incantation- might’ve been directions to the potion- and he ripped open the sleeve of my shirt. He pulled out a knife and made a cut down my forearm… then… he took the blood, my blood, and added it to the cauldron, too.”

Harry noticed his hands trembling slightly now, but forced himself to keep talking.

“A minute later, he tossed something else in the cauldron and You-Know-Who just sort of… rose out of it. Thin black robes formed around him, and Wormtail gave him his wand. He must’ve told him about me, because You-Know-Who didn’t seem at all surprised I was there. That was the first time he talked to me, in that graveyard. He told me he was glad I was part of the ritual and apologized for Wormtail’s rough treatment of me. He…”

Harry’s shaking hands fisted the fabric of his pant legs from their position near his knees.

“He told me that he was proud of me- no one had ever told me that before- and he said my parents would be proud, too; proud that I was helping him.” Harry shook his head in anger and disgust. “He said he understood me and that he had often felt alone growing up, too.”

Harry hardly noticed Hermione’s hand gently coaxing the hand closest to her open soothingly as she listened.

“I never really trusted him,” Harry told her with what he hoped was certainty in his voice. “But I did believe him… most of it, anyway. I might’ve even believed in him.”

“I just don’t see how I could’ve, looking back.”

Before Hermione could say anything, he spoke again.

“And he needed me to come back; he said so himself. It’s my fault. Everything. All the people dying, all the families ripped apart. And it’s up to me to stop him, and I don’t even know what the hell I’m doing!”

“Harry,” Hermione cut in firmly.

He stopped talking, but the tension and emotions warring inside him fought on, and his muscles remained taut.

“This is not your fault.” Her voice demanded it though it was steady and calm. “Him coming back isn’t your fault- none of it is.”

Harry noticed the tight grip of her hand on his as she spoke.

“He used you- they used you- just like so many others. What they did to you and what they forced you to do is not your fault, Harry.”

Slowly, his fists released the crinkled fabric of his pants and the storm inside him subsided.

“I’m so sorry for what they did to you,” Hermione said, her voice full of the pain he had felt moments ago.

For quite a while, neither of them spoke. She sat by his side and her hand stayed atop his, until they were both ready to move. Harry looked at her face for the first time since he had started the story. Contrary to his expectations, he found no fear or resentment there. In a sort of understanding, he nodded.

They got ready for bed in silence.

Harry felt drained. Speaking about those events out loud was almost like reliving them. As damaged and worn as he felt as he let his body rest on the blankets that night, inside he thought he might’ve felt just a little bit lighter.

“Goodnight,” he whispered into the darkness.

“Goodnight, Harry,” he heard Hermione whisper back.

Though it was soft, her voice held a tone he couldn’t quite place.

The next day, Hermione was glad to be feeling a little better, at least. Her shivers and fidgeting had stopped, but she still felt groggy and had a headache. Harry had been sitting in a chair near the couch that evening, as he had been most of the day, reading a book she had lent him, when he heard a noise outside.

He immediately tensed. Putting the book down without a thought about losing his place, he picked up the wand sitting next to him. Even though it had been with him for a while now, he still didn’t feel that comfortable with it.

Hermione had noticed and drawn her own wand, too.

With a quick glance at each other, they rose as one, wands pointed at the door. They waited for nearly a minute but heard no further noise. Then, there was a quick, quiet knock. Harry looked at Hermione again, who mouthed “Dobby” with an uncertain look on her face; it was more of a question than a statement.

“Get Andromeda,” Harry mouthed back, hoping she could tell what he wanted. Given her adverse reaction, he figured she understood.

“Go!” Harry mouthed more forcefully, his expression urgent.

Hermione moved quickly and silently, and for a second, Harry’s mind wandered enough to be thankful it wasn’t Tonks out here with him.

Another knock snapped him back into focus. He could feel his heart beating rapidly in his chest, but he held his wand steady, still pointed at the door. A second later, Hermione rushed back into the room and to Harry’s side, copying his stance.

Andromeda walked to the door.

She knocked once. Then there came an answering knock. She knocked again, in a pattern. The outsider responded.

This went on a few more times, Harry and Hermione never letting their guards down.

Finally, the old woman sighed with relief, and opened the door to reveal a dark figure.

He quickly stepped inside and Andromeda closed the door behind him.

Harry looked at him in the light. He wore a beige-brown, worn sort of jacket, and he had a weary expression on his scratched face. Before anyone could speak, the man’s face broke into a genuine smile. Harry marveled at the look on his face and light in his eyes for a moment before turning to find the source of his happiness: Tonks.

In seconds, and without even tripping once, she crossed the room and walked into her husband’s waiting arms.

Seeing their embrace, the look on Lupin’s face flickered back into Harry’s mind. He didn’t know if he’d ever seen that look on anyone before. It was an expression he didn’t exactly understand or know how to explain, but he knew that whatever it was, it was powerful.

After they had all greeted Lupin, he turned to address Hermione.

“Hermione, I want you to know that your parents are safe,” he told her in a kind voice.

“But I’m afraid that is all I can say for now. I hope you understand.”

“Of course,” Hermione told him quickly. Harry noticed the pitch of her voice was a bit higher than usual. “Thank you so much for protecting them.”

Lupin nodded.

“I went to check on Aberforth and he said that he had something for you… from Dobby.” He held out a glass vial in Harry and Hermione’s direction. Hermione took it carefully as Lupin asked, “Do I even want to ask what this is and what it’s for?”

“No,” Harry and Hermione surprised themselves by answering together.

Lupin looked confused. Tonks laughed lightly.

“Sorry,” Hermione said, “but it might be better not to ask this time.”

With a resigned sigh, Lupin shook his head.

“Alright, just don’t go getting yourselves into trouble. You’re both too important.”

Harry was surprised by the sincerity in his voice. Both Lupin stayed for the night. But not before he told them in a flat tone that he could only stay for one night. Everyone in the room could pick up how disheartened he was by this, even though he tried to mask it. He did promise to return soon to stay for a while soon, though. A quick shared look told Harry that Hermione was thinking the same thing he was- they wouldn’t still be here when he came back.

Before heading off to the other rooms, he handed Harry and Hermione a large, folded piece of parchment. Harry wasn’t sure what it was, but Hermione seemed to know.

When he gave it to her, he said it was just in case.

“I can’t believe he just showed up like that,” Harry said to Hermione once everyone else had left the living room.

“Apparently it was really dangerous for him to- I heard Andromeda and Tonks talking in the kitchen earlier when I got up to use the bathroom,” Hermione told him quietly.

“Why’d he do it, then?” Harry asked.

“He loves her,” Hermione answered.

The way she said it was unsettling to Harry- like it was simple, a fact.

After a long pause, Harry voiced one of the thoughts on his mind.

“But why would he put her in more danger by coming to see her?”

Hermione studied him curiously before attempting to answer.

“Well, I’m sure he misses her. And she’s pregnant with his child, so I think he is upset that he can’t be with her and help out more. He must be worried about her, and the baby, with the war going on and everyone in hiding. Everything else is probably harder for him to handle without her there, too.”

Harry considered this for a while after he ended the conversation and they had said goodnight.

He felt like he understood his parents’ old friend a lot more, and he felt bad for his situation. This war was keeping them apart. By trying to help others, they were sacrificing more than Harry realized. Harry didn’t know Lupin very well, but he could see the pain he was putting himself through by staying away from his wife. It was a strange thing for Harry to consider, being so hurt and torn simply because you were being kept apart from another person. Such feelings were foreign to Harry, but the pain and longing in the man’s eyes when he thought no one was looking were not.

After a few minutes, the sadness Harry felt ebbed and was replaced by a fire he hadn’t felt since he had seen Hermione being threatened and tortured. He was going to end this war; he was going to stop Voldemort. He had to.

Harry sighed into the darkness. Tomorrow, the polyjuice potion would be ready, according to Hermione. Time had passed while they were staying here, and Harry couldn’t help thinking they hadn’t made much progress. It had been about a month since they had fled the cave with Sirius and gone to Hogwarts, ultimately ending up here, with Tonks and her mother. He had a long way to go before being ready to face Voldemort, and in the back of his mind, Harry knew that with every passing day, more innocents were dying.

Closing his eyes brought him no peace that night. Visions of Voldemort’s plans filled his dreams. He saw flashes of the Dark Lord torturing and killing, opening a tomb, speaking with the Malfoys about something he couldn’t make sense of, Dark Lord torturing and killing, opening a tomb, speaking with the Malfoys about something he couldn’t make sense of, and then talking alone with Snape.

Hogwarts entered his dreams. His dream took him through a life he had never known. As a Gryffindor returning for his final year, he was standing next to Hermione, smiling. Pinned to the front of each of their robes were badges, which Harry understood meant for them to be Head Boy and Head Girl. They parted and a while later, when they reunited in a different room, Hermione smiled and her eyes lit up. She walked to him and hugged him tightly. But then the image faded and they were outside, in front of Hogwarts. Suddenly dark clouds spread over the horizon. Voldemort’s voice spoke in Harry’s mind, telling him that this was wrong; it wasn’t what his parents would have wanted. The cold voice hissed things about Hermione, warning him, telling him to leave her.

He woke up in a cold sweat, panting, and struggled to understand what had happened in his dream. And the emotions it evoked in him.

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