[Fanfic] Out of Shadows – Chapter 20

Out of Shadows

Chapter 20

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

Harry closed his eyes, trying to focus.

Happy. The happiest I have ever felt.

Images and memories replayed in his mind:

He was sitting on the floor of a cave, laughing. Sirius’s barking laugh came from where he was sitting a few feet away, and Hermione was next to him, her face lit up with amusement, too. Their laughter filled the small cavern.

It was Christmas morning at Lupin’s. Harry passed a present to Hermione’s parents nervously. Lupin nodded, looking pleased. He glanced at Hermione, who smiled at him reassuringly. He returned her smile and noticed that she looked surprised, but appreciative­ she probably hadn’t expected him to give them all gifts.

Professor McGonagall smiled and put her hand on Harry’s shoulder before giving Hermione a quick hug and leaving the room. Hermione laughed and told him how rare it was to get affection from the witch she looked up to.

Tonks transformed part of her face and changed her hair to help them visualize her story. She was telling them about one of her appearance­altering adventures from when she was younger. He looked over next to him and saw Hermione laughing lightly; he felt himself smile.

“Alright, try the spell, Harry,” Hermione encouraged gently. Her voice was close to him, and it broke his concentration somewhat.

As he regained his focus, he noticed something in common with all of the happy memories that came to his mind: Hermione. In all of the memories he had thought of, she had been there with him, smiling and laughing. Instead of getting distracted by his surprise, he decided to just go with it, thinking of other memories of times he had been happy with Hermione.

He was sitting on the floor close to Hermione. She was pointing to a picture in the book on her lap. He wasn’t sure what the picture showed; he was watching the emotions play across her face as she told him about her years at Hogwarts.

Hermione was lying on a sofa, looking somewhat disheveled. Harry gently arranged a cold cloth on her forehead, smoothing her hair and brushing the strands out of her face. Glancing down at her face, he couldn’t read her expression.

It was dark, he and Hermione were whispering to each other.

Hermione slowly stepped forward and wrapped her arms around him. His breath hitched, and he felt his heart pounding as he slid his arms around her and pulled her a little closer.

Harry let the feelings from these memories envelope him and spoke the spell clearly.

“Expecto Patronum.”

Harry felt a surge of power and opened his eyes. Thick, silver mist streamed out of his wand to produce the form of a medium­sized animal. The bright shape stood before them. Harry could believe it; he’d done it. After all the time they had practiced, he had somehow gone from mostly pathetic wisps of silvery smoke to a full, corporeal Patronus.

Hermione looked at the animal with intent curiosity. Her own Patronus had run off and disappeared just a minute ago.

“It looks like a wolf,” Hermione said quietly. She was right.

A wolf? Awesome! I wonder what qualities made me most like a wolf…

“Harry, you did it!” Hermione said excitedly as the wolf started to fade. She turned and hugged him tightly.

Harry froze and before he could fully process what was happening, she let go and continued talking. He didn’t miss the light blush on her cheeks, though.

“That’s so great!” she said happily. “And a wolf…? Hmm,” Hermione frowned in thought as she continued, “I think wolves are known for being able to work well alone or in groups… they do best in small, close­knit packs, though. I read a book at the Hogwarts library about human­animal characteristics. Those with personalities like wolves were supposed to be… mysterious and complex, natural leaders, sometimes aggressive when angered, and sensitive to others’ feelings but they don’t readily reveal much about themselves.”

She paused for a moment, trying to remember more as Harry listened with interest.

“They were also good under pressure, athletic, loyal and extremely protective and concerned with the well­-being of others.”

Harry simply stared at her in amazement.

“What?” Hermione asked as the light flush returned to her face. “I have a good memory,” she explained, looking a bit embarrassed. “That does sound like you, though,” she added thoughtfully.

Harry had to admit, it did. He grinned.

“I know,” he told her, glad that she had pushed them to work on the spell again before they left for Godric’s Hollow that evening.

Later that day, they were packed and ready to leave for Godric’s Hollow. They stepped close together and Harry flung the cloak over them, allowing Hermione to check that they were completely covered. Then she took his hand, and they apparated together like they had practiced repeatedly.

They appeared on a street lit by light posts. Most of the buildings had lights outside their doors, too. The cottages looked old­fashioned, but sturdy, well­kept, and charming. The atmosphere was relaxed and cheerful, and there was a light snowfall slowly covering the ground. Harry wasn’t sure how he could feel nostalgic for a place he didn’t even remember.

The streets were quiet, but not eerily so. Every so often, a couple would leave a building and walk down the street: hand in hand, arm in arm, snuggled close together.

Is everyone in Godric’s Hollow a couple? Seeing so much affection made Harry uncomfortable; it surely wasn’t something he was used to.

“What’s with all of the happy couples?” Harry asked quietly, with a slight edge in his voice.

“I think it might be Valentine’s Day,” Hermione whispered suddenly, after thinking for a minute. “It should be around the middle of February.”

Harry glanced back at one of the couples. The girl was holding a bouquet of roses. Maybe it was Valentine’s Day. There weren’t any decorations he could see to confirm it, but it would explain the abundance of romance.

Harry felt Hermione’s hand grip his a little tighter and nearly jumped out of the cloak in surprise. He hadn’t even realized that they were still holding hands from when they apparated. Heat rushed to his cold face as he thought of one of the couples they had passed, holding hands as they were. Looking over at Hermione, he noticed that her eyes were focused ahead and she looked troubled by something. He followed her gaze to the source of her discomfort: the ruins of a house.

Harry wasn’t sure what he had been expecting, but it certainly wasn’t this. His parents’ house was there. Well, part of it. Apparently it had been left there as a memorial to the Potters and a reminder of the awful tragedy that had taken place there. Harry felt this throat tighten.

When they moved on, something else on the street caught Harry’s attention. In the middle of the town square, there was a statue. He pulled Hermione closer and the sculpture became clearer: his parents sat holding him as a baby. It was a statue of the Potters, another memorial and memento to their lives before Voldemort had killed them. Hermione moved a little closer to him under the cloak and Harry felt her arm pressing into his side.

Next, they went to the graveyard. After they passed through the kissing gate, they removed the cloak and split up to search faster. Harry told her it should be okay to take the chance in the quiet, more secluded area. Really, he didn’t want to be invisible when he first stood before his parents.

Not long after starting to look around, Hermione found a grave with an interesting mark on it; the symbol of the Deathly Hallows. She examined it curiously. The grave belonged to Ignotus Peverell.

“Harry,” Hermione called quietly, “you should really see this.”

When he didn’t respond, she looked around and saw him standing stiffly, looking down at a grave marker; he didn’t even seem to have heard her. She sucked in a cold breath, knowing he had found his parents’ graves. Leaving the Peverell grave behind, she walked over to join him.

Harry stood, reading the words on the gravestone over and over, memorizing, though he knew he would never forget. Emotions warred within him so much that he couldn’t even tell what he felt. Just being in the village where they had lived caused conflicting reactions within him. There was pain and longing for what he had lost and never had, guilt for the things he had done following the Death Eaters and Voldemort’s instruction, and happiness that came with the inexplicable sense that he felt much closer to his parents after meeting some of their real friends. What would they think of who he had become? For a moment, he remembered the story of the Deathly Hallows, and longed for the Resurrection Stone to be real.

Slowly, Hermione’s hand slid into his and she gently laced their fingers together. All at once, Harry felt less in control of his emotions, yet more at ease. Struggling to keep himself in check, he stood there with Hermione quietly. After a few minutes, it suddenly occurred to him that he hadn’t brought anything to leave for his parents.

As if reading his thoughts, Hermione drew her wand with her free hand and silently conjured a beautiful flower arrangement. Harry looked at it in awe; it had some sort of greenery around the bottom near the vase, with red roses and white lilies adorning the bouquet.

Harry felt a powerful rush of affection and gratitude for the witch standing next to him. She was there, supporting him, sharing this with him. He had never imagined anyone with him when he thought of visiting his parents’ graves. She couldn’t know what it meant to him not to have to be alone for this.

Without realizing it, Harry’s hand squeezed and held hers tighter.

Hermione took hold of the arrangement with her free hand carefully after storing her wand back in her coat pocket.

Harry pulled his eyes from the flowers to look at Hermione. Her nose and cheeks were tinted a light red, at least partly from the cold, and her winter hat had a light dusting of snow. There were snowflakes in the hair cascading out from under the hat, too. The brown eyes looking into his were misty with emotion, but shining lightly in the moonlight.

She is beautiful.

Hermione softly gestured to the arrangement she was holding, and Harry realized that he must have been staring. Her cheeks were definitely a darker shade of red than when he had first noticed. Blinking and looking away from her face, he reached to hold the flowers with her. She moved to let him take them, but he didn’t. Instead, he kept the bouquet pressed into her hand, too. Glancing at her and hoping she understood, he deliberately moved the flowers slowly toward the ground.

Hermione guided the arrangement with him, and together, they placed it in front of his parents’ graves. When they straightened back up, Harry turned to Hermione, their hands still linked.

Whatever he had wanted to say quickly left his mind when he saw an old woman standing near the gate of the graveyard, obviously watching them. A chill went up Harry’s spine and he felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. He forced his eyes away from the shadowy figure to look at Hermione. Her face clearly showed that she had noticed his sudden change in expression, even though he had masked it shortly after spotting the woman.

“What is it?” she whispered urgently.

“There is an old woman standing by the gate watching us,” Harry answered quietly, moving his mouth as little as possible.

Hermione nodded almost imperceptibly to show him that she understood.

Harry glanced at the woman again. She was looking right at him. Then she turned, moving slowly, and shuffled out of sight.

“We should follow her,” Harry immediately suggested. “She might know something.”

Harry was already starting to pull Hermione in that direction.

“Harry, it could be a trap,” Hermione quietly warned.

“Or it could be someone Dumbledore told to find me and give me the sword if I ever turn up,” Harry reasoned. “I don’t trust it either, but we’ve got to try. We need something to go on.”

Without really knowing why, he felt strongly about finding out the identity of the old woman and seeing what she wanted with them.

When they reached the kissing gate, she was gone. For a few moments, Harry glanced around, confused.

Where could she have gone? She was just here.

Harry turned to look in the other direction up the street for the third time and jumped, barely holding in a shout of surprise. The woman was standing a few feet from them, looking at Harry intently. Harry’s eyes widened and he felt Hermione grip his arm harder. Now that they were closer to her, he saw that she had pale skin and white hair. From the picture Hermione had shown him, he was pretty sure this was Bathilda Bagshot, the old witch who had supposedly known Dumbledore well.

She beckoned for them to come with her.

Feeling like they didn’t have much choice, they followed.

The old witch led them down the street to a house they assumed was hers. Harry let go of Hermione’s hand to try to help the woman, and with shaking hands, she opened the front door, allowing them inside. He shared a glance with Hermione as they walked in. She was nervous, too.

The inside was dusty and smelled odd, but Harry couldn’t place the scent. Looking around, he saw photos of witches and wizards, one of whom looked like pictures he had seen of Dumbledore. A copy of Rita Skeeter’s book about the late Headmaster sat on one of the end tables.

“You’re Bathilda, aren’t you?” Harry asked, finding it difficult to break the silence.

The woman merely nodded, looking into Harry’s eyes in a way that made him feel very uneasy. He wanted to just come out and ask about if Dumbledore had mentioned him at all, or left anything for him, but he couldn’t seem to find the words.

Bathilda gestured for Harry to follow her down a hallway in the house, and he stepped forward. When the woman shook her head, Harry noticed that Hermione had taken a step with him. It was clear that Bathilda only wanted Harry to follow her, but Hermione looked reluctant to let him go without her.

He nodded to her, in a way that he hoped said that it would be okay. Something felt wrong, but they didn’t come all this way to leave empty­handed. They needed some sort of clue.

Hermione hesitated, clearly wanting to say something, but she held herself back and remained silent as they walked slowly away.

The old woman led Harry to a room upstairs.

In a quiet, shaky voice that sounded like it hadn’t been used in some time, she asked, “Harry Potter?”

“Yes,” Harry answered, not seeing the point in trying to hide his identity now, “I am Harry Potter.”

The woman turned around as if to show him something and then suddenly her body began to twist and contort. Frozen to the spot and not understanding what was happening, Harry watched in horror as an enormous snake emerged from the body of the woman as she limply crumbled to the ground. Suddenly nauseous from the repulsive scene, Harry swallowed the sudden urge to be sick. Fear quickly replaced the disgust Harry felt.

A second later, the snake dove at Harry with surprising force. He flung himself out of the way, crashing into a piece of furniture in the room. Scrambling, he tried to draw his borrowed wand. Before he got his hand securely on it, the large snake knocked into him, sending the wand rolling across the floor and out of reach. Panicking, Harry tried to wrestle the powerful snake away from him. He turned and slammed the snake into a nearby dresser as hard as he could from his awkward position on the ground. The snake swayed, stunned, before lunging back at Harry, wide mouth open and fangs bared.

Somehow, Harry managed to dodge the snake’s fangs, but seconds later, in the back of his mind, he registered the tight pressure against his abdomen and around one of his arms; the snake was constricting him. He tried to call out to Hermione, but he could barely breathe in the snake’s hold, and little more came out than a painful exhale.

Harry tried to fight, but he could no longer move with his legs now being wrapped up as well. The snake coiled the head of its long body back, preparing to strike again.

“Confringo!”

A small, bright light entered the room, followed shortly by a few blasts of noise. Harry felt the snake loosen its grip on him and quickly tried to disentangle himself as much as he could. His scar throbbed blindingly, hindering his escape. Hermione rushed into the room toward Harry, who was still trapped and struggling.

Before Harry could get completely free, the snake lashed out and knocked Hermione back.

“Hermione!” Harry called out. His body had not recovered from the snake’s hold on him, causing his voice to come out as a breathless gasp.

He crawled toward them, grabbing at the creature desperately, trying to get it away from Hermione. Snatching her wand from the ground where it had fallen, he pointed it at the beast.

Time stopped and in an instant Harry felt the pressure return to his chest, this time clenching his heart and lungs. The snake’s mouth was clamped onto Hermione near her right shoulder. Her eyes looked unfocused. Harry had no idea if the snake was poisonous or not.

Fury surged through Harry and the serpent was blasted off of Hermione. For several seconds, nothing in the room moved. Icy coldness spread through Harry’s veins as he stared at Hermione’s unconscious form.

Distantly, Harry heard voices and the rushing of wind. Outside the cottage, darkness came ever closer.

Before he had time to act, the pain in his scar blurred his vision and the snake abandoned Hermione to attack him again.

There was a crash and Harry heard the shattering of glass. He opened his eyes again. Instantly, whatever tiny ray of hope he had left drained from him; before him stood one of the darkest wizards of all time: Voldemort. He smiled down at Harry wickedly.

Harry no longer felt the snake’s crushing hold on him. His body had gone numb with pain and fear. He couldn’t move his wand arm, and he was wrapped up in a snake that was much stronger than him; Hermione was unconscious with a possibly deadly snake bite.

“Harry Potter… we meet again.”

Harry had no response. His body was constricted. His scar was burning. He couldn’t think straight.

“I see you have kept the girl around,” Voldemort commented, his expression slipping to one of curious disgust for a moment. “Has she proved useful to you?”

Something about the way he said it caused a surge of anger through Harry. His muscles flexed despite the snake around him and he found his voice.

“She’s not just some thing to be used,” Harry growled dangerously.

Voldemort’s cold eyes stared into Harry’s as if trying to read him. It was beyond unnerving. A cold chill ran through his already strained body.

There was a loud crash downstairs, and Voldemort’s face contorted into an angry, confused look. Clearly he had not been expecting anyone else to show up. Before he could even raise his wand, there was another noise, closer this time.

Surprise registered on both of their faces as a figure burst into the room that no one had expected.

 

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