[Fanfic] Out of Shadows – Chapter 19

Out of Shadows

Chapter 19

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

Harry crashed into the ice-­cold water, and pain flooded his senses.

He knew hitting the water was going to hurt, especially since he had a few fresh burns and injuries. He thought he was prepared for how much.

He thought wrong.

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Shocked by the unexpected intensity of the stinging in his open burn wounds, Harry gasped. Apparently the automatic response to cry out from pain did not care that he was underwater at the time.

Frigid water surged into his mouth, burning his throat and choking him. Opening his eyes, all he could see were the bubbles spilling out of his mouth and more being caused by his flailing. He forced himself to stop sucking in water and tried to determine which way was up.

Darkness started to creep into his vision, and he could feel his consciousness slipping. Fighting to try to keep his eyes focused, he tried to find the surface. His head swam and he could feel himself sinking down deeper. The sound of blood rushing filled his ears and his limbs stopped thrashing. All of the energy was draining from his body fast.

Hermione…

He was vaguely aware of something hitting his arm.

A noise reached his ears, but it sounded far away.

Everything went black.

He felt a faint pressure on his chest.

There was a strange noise like a sharp intake of breath.

Harry’s eyes opened to reveal Hermione’s face surprisingly close to his. She was leaning over him so close that his eyes immediately found hers. She froze. His breath hitched in his throat as his heart stopped, only to return a second later, pounding faster than normal. Her hair was dripping wet, and her breathing was heavier than usual. And she was very close to him.

For a few moments, neither of them moved. It registered in Harry’s mind that one of her hands was resting on his chest, right near where his heart was all but hammering its way out of his ribcage. Belatedly realizing that she must have noticed the racing muscle, Harry felt self­conscious.

He opened his mouth to speak, but all that came out was a bit of water, causing him to choke and cough.

Hermione quickly pulled him into a sitting position, patting his upper back.

“Harry, are you alright?” she asked in a worried tone once his coughing had subsided somewhat.

“Yeah,” he answered breathlessly. “Yeah, I think I’m alright. What happened?”

“I’m not sure. We let go of the dragon and fell into the water. I got to the surface, but you didn’t come up. I couldn’t see you anywhere. I panicked and dove back under to try to find you. It was hard to see, but somehow I found you and pulled you to shore.” Hermione still seemed to be catching her breath.

“At first it didn’t seem like you were breathing normally. I thought I was going to have to resuscitate you, but then you just… woke up. I’m so glad you’re alright.” She did look relieved.

Harry’s mind was slowly processing and half­remembering what she was telling him. He noticed Hermione’s cheeks were tinted red.

Resuscitate… as in mouth to mouth?

Harry swallowed thickly, feeling a bit nervous.

“So…” he said awkwardly, “you didn’t have to, then? I woke up on my own?” For some reason he found it important to clarify.

“Yes,” Hermione answered. “I pushed on your chest a few times, and then when I leaned down to… well you just woke up.”

He could tell she was a little embarrassed from the situation­ he was, too.

 

There’s no reason to be embarrassed about that. She was trying to get me breathing again. But I came to. Either way, she got me out of the water. She saved my life. Again.

Harry mentally shook off his awkwardness and smiled at her.

“Thanks, Hermione,” he told her sincerely.

When she smiled in response, Harry noticed that she was shivering. Only then did he realize how cold he was, too.

Their icy, wet clothes were not helping the situation.

Hermione took care of that quickly, casting a drying spell on them. While it was a big improvement, Harry was still cold, and he bet she was, too. They walked inland and transfigured a new tent as fast as they could. Since they didn’t have much to work with, it wasn’t as nice as the other tent they had shared. When they were done, they lit a small, controlled fire inside to warm up.

They sat on a blanket on the floor of the tent, sitting close to the fire, and each other. It was quiet for a while, as they were both lost in their own thoughts.

“Oh, Harry!” Hermione said suddenly, startling him and breaking the silence. “Your arm! And the burns! I need to heal you. How could I have forgotten?” She seemed flustered and annoyed with herself.

The next half an hour was spent with her treating his injuries as he sat there gritting his teeth and trying to be still. Once she was done, Harry did feel better, but he knew he would still need some time to heal. Then he noticed a nasty­looking burn on her right arm.

“Your arm…” Harry trailed off. He knew he had been burned in the vault, but he should’ve realized that Hermione might have been touched by the cursed treasure, too. “Let me help,” he offered.

Hermione seemed unsure before nodding and saying that he could give it a try. Harry reached over and gently pulled the torn sleeve back away from the injured area. It looked really painful. Harry winced involuntarily and his eyes flickered to hers. He grabbed his borrowed wand and pointed it at Hermione’s arm, but he hesitated.

“This wand still doesn’t work that well for me,” Harry said uncertainly. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Here,” Hermione said, reaching around and producing her own wand, “try using mine.”

Harry discarded the other wand and took hers. It felt different in his hand than the other wands he had used­ not quite like his own wand had felt, but it still felt comfortable; for some reason he was confident that it would work well for him.

With Hermione’s wand pointed at her injured arm, Harry carefully repeated the spell she had used on him several times. When he was done, her arm still looked painful. Harry looked down, wishing he was as good at spells as her. He was sure she had done a better job with his burns.

“Thank you, Harry,” she told him kindly.

She smiled at him when he looked up and Harry didn’t feel as bad.

“So… we got the Horcrux,” Harry confirmed, “and then, we sort of found the sword of Gryffindor… but it ended up being a fake?”

Hermione considered this thoughtfully for a moment before responding.

“Yes, and it seems so. Griphook must have known it was a fake. He wouldn’t have rejected it if he wasn’t sure.”

When she didn’t continue, Harry asked, “What was a fake of the sword left to me by Dumbledore doing in Bellatrix’s vault?”

“I don’t know…” Hermione said. Her face held an expression of frustrated concentration as she tried to put the pieces together. “I can’t see any reason why Bellatrix would put a fake in her vault. If You­Know­Who knew the sword would help you, and he somehow got it and was trying to hide it with one of his Horcruxes… that would make sense. But then why was it a fake…?”

They let that question hang in the air several minutes, since neither of them had an answer. Eventually, Harry spoke.

“Maybe they didn’t know it was a fake?” Harry suggested.

“That is possible. Goblins are known for their metalwork. I’ve read about goblin­made objects being enchanted with powerful magic.” Hermione thought for a moment, “Maybe goblins can tell based on that magic or the craftsmanship whether or not something was actually made by one of their own. As for why it would have been in Bellatrix’s vault, we can’t be sure. There are so many possibilities…”

“Well, even if we don’t know why, the important things are: we got the Horcrux, and we still have no idea where the real sword is,” Harry summed up.

“I suppose so, but I can’t help but feel like we might be able to find the real sword if we knew why there was a fake in her vault.” She didn’t seem to want to give up talking about possible theories behind the counterfeit sword, but seeing how tired Harry looked, she let it go for the time being.

“But for now, at least we made it out of there together,” she said.

“Yeah,” Harry agreed. “Let’s get some rest.”

“You sleep first,” Hermione told him in firm voice. “You almost drowned. I will be fine staying awake for a while.”

Not having the energy to argue, and knowing he would lose this one anyway, Harry simply thanked her and moved to his cot.

 

He was standing in a long, dark hallway. Acutely aware of everything around him, his ears listening for the slightest echo of sound, Harry walked forward. The wand in his hand gave him strength­ he had been through so much with this wand. It had been the only comforting constant in his life for years, even though he had been forced to use it to do things he would rather forget.

The room shifted to another, with incredibly tall shelves. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of small glass orbs surrounded him. His feet moved automatically as his eyes searched for the numbers he had been told.

Several minutes later, he was running as fast as he could, his wand in one hand occasionally shooting spells behind him. In the other, he was tightly clutching what he had come to retrieve: a prophecy. Jets of light were flying past him, and he knew fierce battles were taking place all around him. It was surreal.

A flash and Harry was on his knees, the broken prophecy in from of him, glass shattered and magic gone.

He saw rage and fury and a blinding wrath. Voldemort had not been merciful about this failure.

Harry’s eyes opened into the dimly lit tent. The fire had turned to embers and Hermione was nowhere to be seen. He expected that she was outside keeping watch.

Trying to calm his breathing, Harry lied there for some time, shaking. He remembered it all too well. It was so vivid it was striking. As the dream faded, his memories filled in the gaps. His hands tightened into fists as he fought off the memories. Closing his eyes, he relied on years of practice to find himself again before eventually falling back to sleep.

His mind would not let him rest that night, however.

Harry was standing along the wall of a dimly lit room. Voldemort was torturing a woman he vaguely recalled being a professor from Hogwarts. Something reached his ears about her being a muggle­lover.

Harry,” Voldemort called, and an involuntary chill shot up his spine. He hands began to tremble. “What do you think of this?”

He hadn’t been listening. In fact, he had been doing everything he could not to listen. But he had to say something.

She’s disgraceful,” he said. His voice hadn’t held enough disgust, enough malice. He knew.

Why don’t you show her how you feel?” the Dark Lord suggested.

Harry knew better. It was no suggestion. It was an order.

The Death Eaters watched, all of their eyes trained on him, as Harry stepped forward. He raised his wand, noticing that his arm wasn’t shaking. Harry focused on this as he said the spell.

Crucio,” the curse left his lips and his body felt hollow. Unforgivable.

The curse was weak. He would be punished later. But he knew he had added to the witch’s pain, and that cut deeper than anything they would do.

The scene jumped ahead and Harry was back against the wall. There was a flash of green and the Death Eaters laughed and cheered and jeered at the now lifeless woman before them. In their excitement, no one noticed the momentary drop in Harry’s mask, the pain in his eyes.

Voldemort spoke and gestured for Nagini and Harry couldn’t watch anymore. He slipped out of the room to be sick.

Nausea overwhelmed him as he came to, and he worried that he wouldn’t be able to stop himself from being sick. His body was covered in sweat and his head felt awful. He coughed a few times before taking deep breaths to try to settle his stomach.

Hermione walked into the tent and Harry was surprised for a moment that he didn’t feel reassured or more relaxed seeing her. Lately, he had.

“Harry, are you alright?” she asked, coming over to him.

“No,” he answered in a distant voice, “I’m not.”

“What is it?” he could hear the concern in her voice.

Harry didn’t answer; he didn’t know how. The memories haunting him had created a chasm between them, and Harry didn’t know how to build bridges. Something in his mind told him that she would never understand­ that she had no idea the things he had done and that she would hate him if she did.

What he had done, like the curses he had used, was unforgivable.

“Harry?” she touched his arm and he flinched.

Surprised, she pulled back. He glanced at her eyes and she looked hurt. That wasn’t what he had been expecting and it unsettled him.

“You don’t know me­ not really. I­ I’ve done terrible things­ tortured people. You shouldn’t trust me… I’m not like you; I’m not… good.”

Harry’s voice was hoarse and broken.

“Harry, I do trust you.” Her tone was strong, but he heard a slight tremble behind the words. “No matter what you were forced to do before, now you are making your own choices, and you are choosing to fight back. You saved my life.”

She took one of Harry’s hands, and this time when he flinched, she didn’t shy away. Instead, she held on tighter.

“People can change, Harry, but I don’t believe for a minute that you were ever evil.” Seeing that he was about to say something, she continued. “People who are truly evil don’t feel guilt like you did, they aren’t bothered by the things they have done, and they don’t doubt themselves and their actions and wonder if they are doing the right thing.”

“You are not a bad person, Harry. I’ve seen how you act these last few months­ how you treat people, how you treat yourself. Despite everything you’ve been through, you are caring and protective and understanding. You’ve put yourself in danger more than once trying to keep me safe…”

“I don’t know why,” Harry blurted out self­-consciously before she could say anything else. He felt embarrassed, but some of his doubts were easing, too. The darkness threatening to consume him was being pushed back. “I’m not trying to be some hero.”

“I know you aren’t trying to be,” Hermione said sincerely, “but maybe you just are. You have already saved my life several times.” Her tone became just a bit lighter as she admitted this.

Harry’s eyes met hers, and he held her gaze for some time.

“I think you saved mine, too.”

They stayed sitting together for a while before Harry decided that it was Hermione’s turn to sleep and he took watch. When he left Hermione and exited the tent, some of his doubts began to creep up again, but this time, he was able to hold them off. Focusing his mind on the good he had done since leaving the Malfoys and his happier memories with Hermione and the others he had met, he silently watched and waited for dawn.

The next few days were spent resting, recovering, reading (in Hermione’s case), and discussing plans of what to do next. They also spent a while trying to destroy the Horcrux, which so far both of them had found impossible. They had taken turns using spell after spell, trying to slice it, burn it, slash it, smash it, and… nothing. Not even a scratch appeared on the little cup. Deciding to give up on destroying it for now, they kept it safely hidden in Hermione’s bag, but even when it was out of sight, it was weighing on their minds almost as much as trying to figure out where to go next.

One evening, Harry finally built up the courage to suggest what he really wanted to do. It had been plaguing his mind for days, and he decided it was time to bring it up.

“I was thinking…” Harry said into the previously peaceful quiet, fidgeting restlessly, “that maybe we should go to Godric’s Hollow.”

Hermione looked up from her book to consider him for a moment. Harry wondered if she could tell how nervous he was about asking. He wasn’t sure why, but he wanted so badly to go there. It was where he had been born, where his parents had lived and died. And his parents had been in Gryffindor House at Hogwarts, which Hermione had told him at some point was named by one of the four founders of the school, Godric Gryffindor. That couldn’t be a coincidence.

He had rehearsed in his head over and over the reasons for going and how it might be beneficial, expecting to have to win Hermione over.

“He might be expecting you to go there,” Hermione cautioned uneasily, “but I think you’re right.”

Harry perked up immediately, and she continued.

“It is likely that there is something useful there, like the real sword of Gryffindor; it is Godric’s Hollow. Dumbledore might have left the real thing there for you. I still don’t know about the fake in Bellatrix’s vault though…

“And I read that an old friend of Dumbledore’s is supposed to still live in Godric’s Hollow: Bathilda Bagshot. Maybe he left it with her, or maybe she knows something.” Hermione paused for a few seconds. “And… we really aren’t sure where else to go.” She certainly didn’t look enthusiastic about the idea, but Harry was glad she had agreed nonetheless.

An excited grin spread across his face despite the dangers and uncertainties surrounding them.

When Hermione noticed this, a small smile crossed her features, too, as she shook her head at him, sighing.

The following days, Harry and Hermione practiced apparating and disapparating together under Harry’s invisibility cloak. Hermione wanted to make sure they could do it flawlessly before trying it at Godric’s Hollow. She had also suggested using Polyjuice Potion again, but Harry said that they didn’t have another month to sit around and brew the complicated potion. While Hermione seemed annoyed with herself for not thinking to make and bring extra with them, she relented, agreeing that waiting another month was not a good option.

“I should’ve made more; I should have known we might need Polyjuice Potion again,” she lamented.

“Don’t worry about it, Hermione,” Harry told her. “I doubt there would have been enough ingredients at Tonks’ house to make much more, anyway. We were lucky that she had enough of everything to make it for the two of us.”

Hermione sighed.

“Yes, I guess you’re right,” she said, though she still seemed disheartened.

“Well that’s a first,” Harry said jokingly, trying to lighten the mood.

Hermione glanced at him, and seeing his smile, her own lips quirked up a bit in response. She rolled her eyes.

“Harry, don’t be silly. You have been right before.”

He was about to retort when she pulled a pensive face and continued.

“There was that one time…” she trailed off, pretending to think about it.

Harry noticed the mischievous mirth in her eyes, and gave her a dirty look, not completely able to hide his own smile.

Harry found that he couldn’t sleep that night. But maybe it was for the best; if he wasn’t sleeping, he couldn’t have nightmares.

Tomorrow, they would be leaving for Godric’s Hollow.

Harry hoped that after all this time he was ready to face his past.

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