[Fanfic] Out of Shadows – Chapter 25

Out of Shadows

CHAPTER 25

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 enters Bathilda's bedroom. He illuminates his wand. (SC130)

They appeared outside of Malfoy Manor, Harry guessed just within the barriers that protected the house. It was late, and Harry was glad Hermione had suggested the dark clothing. The group crept quickly around behind the house. Dobby motioned toward a side door near the back of the house. Once they got closer, Harry and Hermione paused to slip under Harry’s invisibility cloak.

Dobby somehow managed to get the door open, and Harry silently led the way inside. Thankfully, he knew the layout of the house well.

As planned, Dobby split up from the other two to go check the rest of the house. Harry led Hermione to a room he figured would be empty to wait for Dobby­ his old room.

“Let’s just wait in here,” Harry whispered almost inaudibly, pulling Hermione into the room and away from the doorway.

The room was silent other than the sound of their quiet breathing under the cloak. Not wanting to think about where he was, Harry’s eyes found a familiar spot in the room­ the window.

“Was this… your room?” Hermione asked quietly after a minute. Harry kept his eyes on the darkness outside.

“Yes,” he answered flatly.

He was trying hard not to let his mind focus on where he was and all the memories associated with this place. The feelings of fear and helplessness, sickness and loneliness, all threatened to surface and envelop him. With effort, he kept them at arm’s length.

Harry felt a touch on his arm as Hermione tried to gently turn him to face her. Slowly, he complied. Neither of them had realized how close they were standing, squeezed under the cloak until they faced each other.

A sharp intake of breath told him that now Hermione had noticed too, and for a few seconds, Harry froze. Getting over the surprise of their proximity first, Hermione spoke.

“Harry, are you alright?” she asked in a whisper. “We can go to a different room,” she offered. “No,” Harry answered, avoiding the first question, “I just­”

A crash from somewhere outside of the room cut him off. Yelling immediately followed.

They rushed to the doorway, Harry’s cloak slipping off of them in their haste. Hermione grabbed it, and balled it up in her arms. A high­pitched yelp reached their ears, followed shortly by Dobby, who ran at them gasping.

“We must go! They has found Dobby!” the elf urged, a dark green blur running in the dim light. “Dobby cannot leave with his magic!”

Realizing they had little time, Harry darted out of the room, the other two at his heels. There was noise coming from the bottom of the steps, so Harry opted to go the other way down the hall. It didn’t leave them many choices, but they needed to avoid being caught.

Halfway down the hall, two smaller corridors intersected. Harry turned left and stopped abruptly. He had almost run straight into Draco. Harry met Draco’s icy eyes, panic beginning to stir up in him. To Harry’s surprise, Draco looked as if he had seen a ghost. His features appeared haunted.

Draco glanced away, toward the stairs where the commotion was coming from. He stepped aside swiftly.

Not sure what to think, Harry led the other two down the hall past Draco, and into one of the two rooms there.

Throwing the cloak back around them, they huddled together against the wall next to the door so that they might be able to hear what was going on.

“Where did they go?” a shrill voice asked an instant after they had cleared the doorway. Harry felt Hermione wince next to him, and he knew she recognized the voice. He could still hear Dobby breathing heavily, but it hardly registered in his mind.

There was a brief hesitation.

“That way,” Draco’s voice answered.

Harry held his breath. He was sure Hermione and Dobby could hear his heart pounding. Dobby had somehow been stopped from using his magic to leave, the barrier for he and Hermione to apparate was outside, a decent distance away, and now, in seconds, one of his least favorite Death Eaters was about to burst into the room where they were hiding.

But she didn’t.

The noise grew more distant, and he could hear crashes and a loud, threatening voice moving away from them. Harry tensed as someone entered the room.

It was Draco.

“I know you’re here,” he said quickly, “come out.”

Harry slipped out from under the cloak and revealed himself, meeting Draco’s stare. “What are you doing here, Potter? You’ve only got a minute before­”

A noise behind him cut him off, and Harry whirled around to see Dobby stumble out from under the cloak, swaying unsteadily. Harry rushed to him and kneeled down.

“Dobby, what­” he stopped, his eyes widening. There was a slowly growing patch of red on Dobby’s pillowcase. “Dobby…” Harry trailed off. He didn’t know what else to say. His chest tightened and he felt lost.

“Dobby, must save Harry Potter,” the elf said as he staggered toward Harry. “We must… be getting out of here now, sir.” “He needs medical attention,” Hermione said, pulling off the cloak and walking forward, looking upset.

Harry looked to Hermione, his eyes silently pleading with her to help his friend.

“You don’t have time to heal him,” Draco cut in quickly. “If you don’t leave now, you’re all dead.” Harry turned back to Draco, who looked uncomfortable and annoyed.

“I can take the elf to Hogwarts,” Draco said. “Someone there can treat him. Don’t know if they can save him, but it’s your best bet.” From his tone, you might think he was trying to start a fight rather than offering to help save someone’s life.

For a moment, Harry was too stunned to speak. Sure, Draco had been acting weird lately, but this?

“We both know you aren’t going to leave him behind, and if you get caught here, You­Know­Who will kill us both,” Draco said as a way of explaining, looking irritated and urgent.

Harry wasn’t sure how accurate that was, but he wouldn’t be that surprised if Voldemort would kill Draco for not outing him in the first place.

“Where are you, you filthy little vermin?!” hearing her angry voice loudly, Harry figured he didn’t have many options, or time to analyze Draco’s sudden chivalry.

Harry nodded to Draco, helping Dobby toward him. He quickly reached back and pulled his father’s cloak from Hermione’s hands, draping it around Dobby.

“It’s going to be alright, Dobby,” Harry whispered, his voice shaking because he knew it might not be true. “My cloak will keep you safe.” “Draco?!” the woman screeched.

Harry saw a flicker of fear cross Draco’s face.

“I need to get back to Hogwarts,” he answered her in what Harry suspected was his best attempt at a confident voice considering the situation. “He asked me to do something important, remember?”

“Go,” Draco added to them in a whisper, “out the window. I can apparate. It’s my house.”

Harry simply nodded, not questioning it, and crossed the room to the window with Hermione. She whipped out her wand and opened it hurriedly.

“Just because the Dark Lord gave you another job to do, doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want,” she answered in a patronizing tone. “And remember last time he had you take care of something? Didn’t go very well, did it?” she taunted.

Hermione was out the window and had landed on the ground safely. Harry could hardly see her in the darkness. “I don’t need to be reminded of that,” Draco spat. “And I don’t need your permission to leave.”

With one final look at his childhood rival, Harry began to climb out the window.

“And where is the elf?! I saw him come up here! If he isn’t here, I’ll kill you­ son of Lucius or not!”

Harry could hear that she was getting closer now and froze. If she saw him, Draco and Dobby would be in even more danger. If she had checked the whole other side of the hall and found nothing, she would punish Draco harshly for sending her in the wrong direction.

Thinking quickly, Harry let go and landed on the ground.

“Get out of here,” Harry told Hermione, “go back to Grimmauld. I need to do something first.”

“Harry, no,” Hermione argued, but they heard more yelling from the room they had just been in and Harry swore he heard the word ‘window.’ It must still be open.

“I will meet you there in a minute. Go!” Harry demanded and he took off running toward the other side of the house, his heart pounding.

He knew Bellatrix wasn’t going to let Draco go without interrogating him about if he had seen Dobby and why he had told her to look the other way. And Dobby needed help, fast.

Looking up, Harry saw a window that had to be from the other side of the hallway, where Draco had told her to check. He pulled out his replacement wand.

“Reducto!”

The window exploded, and Harry heard several noises and shrieks inside before turning and sprinting for the anti­apparition line, knowing he had little time. He was almost there…

Reaching a good distance, he felt relief begin to calm him. Just as he went to apparate, he felt something grab him.

Everything that happened next was a blur. There was a dark figure apparating with him. He knew his destination was Grimmauld Place, and now it was too late to change course.

And Hermione was waiting for him inside.

The doorstep of Number 12 started to come into focus and Harry blindly shoved the dark figure away from him. He whipped around, frantically searching for the door. Grabbing the handle he turned and slammed his shoulder against the door.

His eyes quickly found Hermione, who was standing a few feet away, her wand pointed at him. He ran to her and took hold of her arms. “Apparate us somewhere,” he said, “hurry!”

There was a yell from behind him.

Not pausing to ask questions, Hermione held on to him and in a blink, they were gone. A second later, they stumbled into a new location.

Using their grips on each other, they steadied themselves from the fast trip. “What happened?” Hermione asked, sounding anxious.

“When I was trying to apparate, someone grabbed me,” Harry told her. “…Grimmauld Place won’t be safe anymore.” He looked down at the ground. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright, Harry. I suppose we are back to staying in a tent, then,” she reasoned. “We’ve been spoiled, staying at Grimmauld Place.” Her tone was lighter as she said this, and Harry could tell she was trying to make it so he didn’t feel bad.

Harry sighed, shivering a bit in the cold air already. “Let’s get a tent set up, then,” he suggested.

A few minutes later, they had magically constructed a decent tent, similar to the ones they had stayed in before. Since it was already dark and quite cold outside, they wasted no time in getting inside the tent and making a small fire.

“Where are we, anyway?” Harry asked.

“The Forest of Dean,” Hermione answered. “My parents and I went on vacation here, once.”

They fell silent, and before long Harry’s mind wandered back to Malfoy Manor. Dobby had been hurt badly trying to help him. Staring at the fire, Harry lost himself in his thoughts.

Why did I ask him to help us? I knew it was dangerous. I shouldn’t have asked him to take that risk for me. We didn’t even find anything there. It was a complete waste.

 “Harry,” Hermione called softly. She had moved to sit next to him. “What happened wasn’t your fault,” she told him. Harry tensed, once again caught off guard by her ability to read him and angry with himself.

“You couldn’t have known that would happen.”

“I shouldn’t have asked him to take us there. It was too dangerous,” Harry told her, his voice strained. “It’s my fault he got hurt. We don’t even know what happened to him. And it was all for nothing.”

“If there is any chance of healing him, I’m sure someone at Hogwarts would be able to save him.”

Somehow, that didn’t make Harry feel much better. He kept picturing Dobby’s big, yellow­green eyes, looking up at him with respect, and the red stain spreading across his shabby, old pillowcase.

“You don’t get it, Hermione.” “What don’t I understand?”

“It’s my fault!” he told her loudly. “It was my idea to go there­ it’s my fault he’s hurt! I’m sick of everyone getting hurt because of me!” Hermione hesitated for a moment, the pieces connecting in her mind.

“This isn’t just about Dobby, is it?” she asked cautiously.

He averted his eyes away from her and sat silently. Eventually, he answered a quiet, “No.” “Harry,” she moved a bit closer to him, speaking in a gentle tone, “that wasn’t your fault, either.”

“I was the one who wanted to go there,” he said finally. “You said it might be a trap before we went. You were right… and you got hurt.” The pain and regret in his voice tugged at her heart; she could tell he was choked up.

“I agreed to go with you,” Hermione reminded him. “And I don’t regret it.”

The memory of her standing with him in front of his parents’ grave came back to him as he met her eyes. His feelings of guilt and self­loathing gradually lessened, for now.

There was something in the look she was giving him that he couldn’t read, something important. The light from their small fire danced in her eyes, making the flecks of lighter brown shine. Without really meaning to, he smiled slightly.

“Thank you.”

The words left his lips so effortlessly. He hadn’t even meant to say anything, but remembering how she had been there and how she had conjured a beautiful arrangement of flowers for his parents’ grave, it seemed like the right thing to do.

She returned his smile. “You’re welcome.”

Her eyes were searching his, and without warning, something nervous and jumpy spread through Harry. Feeling unsettled, he blinked and broke their eye contact, his eyes darting back toward the fire.

“Well, err, what should we do now?” Harry asked, trying to figure out what had gotten him so flustered all of a sudden. Hermione took a few seconds to answer, and when she did, her voice sounded different than it had a moment ago.

“Maybe we should go to Hogwarts. You left your cloak with Dobby, and we could make sure he’s alright. We were planning to go there soon, anyway.”

Harry nodded, not finding a fault in her logic. “To Hogwarts, then,” he affirmed.

“For now, we should get some rest. I’ll take first watch while you sleep,” she told him, standing up. “Are you sure? You can sleep first,” he offered, getting up also.

“I’m sure,” she said. “Now get some rest. You must be exhausted.”

“Alright, fine. Wake me in a few hours, though,” Harry reluctantly agreed, “or whenever you get tired.” “I will,” Hermione assured him.

She shifted to move toward the front of the tent, but paused. For a second, she seemed to be debating something with herself, before she turned back toward Harry. He watched her with mild curiosity, wondering what she wanted.

Her eyes met his before quickly looking away, and he was sure he had seen a bit of uncertainty there. This puzzled Harry even more.

Before either of them could think about it further, Hermione took a quick step forward, placed one hand on his shoulder, leaned in, and pressed her lips lightly against his cheek.

In an instant, Harry was a mess of unexpected sensations. He felt his face and body heat up, his heart jumped and picked up its pace considerably, his stomach tightened and felt a bit squirmy, and his voice box got lost in the mix.

She moved back hastily, and spun around toward the exit. “Goodnight,” was all she said before disappearing out of the tent.

The sudden rush of feelings had left him a little dazed, but Harry was sure he had seen a blush on her cheeks before she turned away, too. And her voice had definitely not sounded normal. He swallowed thickly.

For several minutes, Harry stood rooted to the spot, not sure what to think, but thinking so many things at once that the idea of moving simply never occurred to him. When he finally did lie down on his cot, he laid awake for quite a while, replaying their conversation and the kiss in his mind.

Having no previous experience with such things between friends, Harry really had no idea what it was supposed to mean. Was it even supposed to mean anything? What was he supposed to do? Was he supposed to do anything?

Not until the fire in the tent was only a smoldering pile of embers did Harry finally fall asleep.

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