[Fanfic] Out of Shadows – Chapter 27

Out of Shadows

CHAPTER 27

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

OutOfShadow_27

Harry was staring ahead mindlessly into the forest. If he had been awake enough to think, he might have wondered how he had managed to stay conscious this long. But he was determined to let Hermione sleep.

Just as the sky far above was beginning to turn a lighter shade, he felt her stir against him. She shifted slightly before slowly opening her eyes.

“Harry?” she asked, sounding confused. Her eyes darted around for several seconds before she seemed to realize that she was leaning into him.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said quickly, pushing away from him, “did I… fall asleep on you?” A blush spread across her face.

“It’s alright,” Harry answered, feeling awkward, too. “I didn’t want to wake you since you’d finally gotten to sleep.”

There was a pause as their eyes danced around, looking anywhere but at each other.

“Did you sleep well at least?” Harry asked, wanting to say something to fill the silence.

“I think I did actually,” Hermione admitted, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear and looking somewhat surprised as if she had just realized this.

“I guess I make a good pillow, then,” Harry said with a nervous smile, hoping to ease whatever tension there was between them.

Hermione laughed lightly, and Harry relaxed.

“You should get some sleep now,” Hermione told him, “I know how tired you were last night.”

With as worn-out as he currently was, Harry didn’t need to be told twice.

That evening, they found themselves standing alone in the room of the Hog’s Head where the secret passage was located, waiting for someone to take them to Hogwarts. They had managed to slip stealthily into the closed pub in the evening just after darkness had fallen without much trouble.

Harry had no idea what they were going to face once they reached Hogwarts, but if Aberforth’s solemn expression was any indication, it wouldn’t be good. They had talked to the late headmaster’s brother briefly before he left the room shaking his head.

Glancing at Hermione, he knew there was another reason he was worried. Harry knew she cared about Hogwarts and some of the people there a great deal, and he wasn’t sure how she would react to what they might find.

He followed her gaze, which was focused on the portrait with two small shapes coming closer. As they became clearer, Harry noticed that it was once again Neville who would greet them.

The guy looked pretty similar to what Harry remembered, except maybe a little thinner and more tired. The grin that appeared on his face at their return wouldn’t show it, though. Jumping down from the ledge, he addressed them.

“Hermione, Harry, good to see you’re alright,” his eyes moved between them several times before Hermione gave him a quick hug.

He held out his hand to Harry, “Heard rumors about some of the things you’ve been doing.” Harry took his hand and shook, not used to the friendly welcome. “Some rubbish about you breaking into Gringott’s and riding out on a bloody dragon.”

The look of complete disbelief on Neville’s face faded as Harry and Hermione shared a glance and hesitated.

“You can’t be serious?!” he asked them, sounding thoroughly entertained.

“I suppose that is basically what happened,” Hermione reluctantly admitted, not looking at Neville.

Neville laughed and congratulated them on a job well done, saying how the others would never believe it.

“Oh,” Neville said, as if just now remembering something, “I passed McGonagall in the hallway the other day and she slipped me this. It was addressed to you,” he said to Harry,” so I guess it’s yours? I need to go ask Aberforth something, so I’ll be right back.”

With that, Neville handed Harry the package and strode out of the room.

Harry opened the small package, surprised to find his father’s cloak tightly crammed inside.

“How did she know this was mine?” Harry asked.

Hermione shook her head, not sure either.

“Maybe Dobby told her, at least that means he got here,” she reasoned.

They stowed the cloak in Hermione’s bag, and after a minute, Neville returned to the room.

Together, the three of them clambered into the secret passage behind the painting. When Hermione asked how things were at Hogwarts, the amicable atmosphere suddenly shifted.
“Not good,” Neville said solemnly. “The Carrows have been especially cruel lately when they catch anyone. And with Snape as Headmaster, I doubt things are going to improve any time soon.”

He frowned and continued, “Weird things have been happening, too. A few people have gone missing. We’ve looked, but we can’t find them anywhere. We don’t know if Snape had them locked up in a dungeon or what.

Everyone keeps hoping they’ll just turn up one day, but I think there’s more to it.”
Harry looked from Neville to Hermione, whose expression was tense but revealed little else.

“Is there anything we can do to help?” Harry asked.

“Not much more than you are already.” Seeing that Harry didn’t understand, he added, “Knowing you are alive and fighting gives them hope. For years there have been rumors, but no one knew if you were still around after sending You-Know-Who packing. Now there’s a new story about you every week.” Neville shot Harry a smile as he led them
on, “You’re pretty popular, Harry.”

Harry grimaced, but didn’t know how to respond.

Neville chuckled, but his serious expression quickly returned.

“We’ve been on the lookout for what you asked, but so far nothing’s turned up. Luna had a few ideas, but…” he trailed off before finishing. “It’s been tough getting around so we could check them out.”

“That’s alright, Neville,” Hermione chimed in for the first time in a while. “We know the clues we left you with were rather vague.”

They had reached the exit on the other side of the tunnel.

“The group’s grown while you’ve been gone,” Neville warned them, “you ready?”

Harry nodded once. Hermione did the same.

Neville opened the portrait and walked out onto the ledge in the room.

“I’ve brought you a present,” he announced to whoever was there to hear him.

Harry nodded to Hermione and they walked out of the passage into the room. For the first few seconds, Harry’s eyes had trouble adjusting from the very dim light of the tunnel to the well-lit room. It was bigger than it had been last time, and there were definitely more students living there. Hammocks were now hanging in several places and there were cots scattered around. The room was cluttered with belongings and there were colorful banners decorating the otherwise bare walls.

There was a group of over a dozen students, all with their eyes on them as they hopped off of the ledge with Neville. Most of them shouted out and cheered upon seeing who Neville had brought with him.

Following Hermione at a distance, Harry noticed her hug Luna before some of the students asked them questions about what they had been doing. During this, Harry hung back and gladly let Hermione handle the explanation. She did much better than he would have anyway; as he was sure she was much more tactful.

With all of that out of the way, the small crowd dispersed, leaving only Neville, Luna, and Ron.

“So,” Neville spoke up first, “what brings you guys back to Hogwarts?”

“Well, we were looking for Dobby,” Hermione answered, trying not to look upset. “Have you seen him?”

“No, he hasn’t come by in a while,” Luna told them. She didn’t seem concerned, though.

Harry and Hermione shared a brief glance before Hermione continued speaking.

“We also wanted to see how everything was here, and help out if we could,” Hermione answered.

“I don’t see how you could help, really,” Ron said, “unless you’ve got a way to find the ones who’ve gone missing.”

“Neville mentioned that before,” Hermione frowned as she spoke, “what happened?”

“Well, some of the disappearances are just rumors, but a few days ago, Colin snuck out to go to Gryffindor tower.

We warned him that it was too dangerous to go that night, but he was worried about his brother, Dennis, so you can’t blame him,” Luna explained with a sympathetic expression.

“I certainly blame him,” Ron put in. “He’s not the sneakiest bloke, and going out at night? He should’ve waited for one of us to go with him.”

“Why was he worried about him? And how did Colin get here?” Hermione asked.

“They’ve started checking everyone’s blood status. We don’t know what it means for muggle-borns, but it can’t be good,” Ron explained. “There’s a rumor they might get kicked out. And Colin and Dennis have muggle parents.”

“They can’t do that!” Hermione said angrily.

“Unfortunately, as long as Snape is Headmaster, they can,” Neville said with a dejected expression. “Colin got luckyRon ran into him one morning when he was out and brought him back here. It was right after they started checking people. But his brother wasn’t with him. We don’t know how long it is taking them to check everyone, but Colin was worried his brother might get caught.”

“Yeah, so he went and got himself in trouble,” Ron said, shaking his head. “I told him I’d go with him the next day to try to find Dennis.”

“Anyway,” Neville said, “when he didn’t come back, a few of us went out looking for him before curfew, but so far…”

A bang interrupted their conversation, and Harry looked over to see a group of three boys surrounding a smoking object on a table. One of them, who had been charred a bit worse than the others, raised a hand in their direction.

“I see Seamus hasn’t changed,” Hermione commented as if random explosions were a common occurrence.

“Not an ounce,” Neville answered with a mildly amused face.

There was a pause before Hermione asked, “Where is Ginny?”

“Oh,” Luna answered, “she went to look for Colin and try to get information about what is going on outside of the hideout.”

“She had better be back soon,” Ron grumbled. “Once the curfew hits it’s too dangerous to be out now.”

“Is it that bad?” Hermione asked, looking disappointed. “I was really hoping we could go and see Professor McGonagall.”

“You should wait ’til morning, at least,” Neville suggested. “The rumor is people have been disappearing overnight.

Either way, you’ll have to be careful that no one sees you… And we don’t even know where she is staying right now, since Snape is Headmaster,” Neville continued. “We think she might be back to her old office, but we haven’t had anyone check yet. I don’t think they want us to know where to find her in case we try to plan something.”

“Oh!” Hermione exclaimed suddenly, “I can find her!” She rummaged through her magic bag and quickly produced the Marauder’s Map. “Maybe we can use this to find the missing students, too.”

She briefly showed them the map and explained how it worked.

“Where’d you get something awesome like that?” Ron asked.

Hermione gave him a look.

“From your brothers, actually,” she answered in a voice Harry thought sounded just a tiny bit smug. He couldn’t help but smile a little, but no one seemed to notice.

“What?! From Fred and George?” Ron asked, clearly shocked. “How’d you get it from them?”

“I found them using it, and I told them it was too dangerous to keep something like that in case they lost it. In the hands of someone who wanted to sneak into Hogwarts, it could be extremely dangerous.”

“There’s no way they turned it in…” Ron said doubtfully.

“No, I turned it in,” Hermione confirmed. “They gave it to me.”

“How did you get them to do that?” he asked.

“Simple,” Hermione told him. “I threatened to do the one thing I knew would get them to give up.”

“And what’s that?”

“Write to your mother,” Hermione said with a small smirk.

After a minute, they found McGonagall’s dot on the first floor (back in her old office, it seemed). However, Colin’s name was nowhere to be seen.

“That’s impossible,” Hermione said, staring at the map with a frown, biting her lip as her eyes continued to scan the parchment.

“Maybe it’s wrong?” Ron said with a shrug.

“No, Ron,” Hermione answered impatiently, “the map is never wrong.”

“Look,” Luna interrupted, “there’s Ginny.” She pointed to a dot with the name Ginny Weasley on a different area of the first floor.

“What’s she doing all the way down on the first floor?” Ron asked no one in particular.

They watched Ginny’s dot walk down a corridor toward one of the many staircases in the castle. Another dot moved into the corridor further down and when Harry read the name, he felt a reflexive sense of dread: Draco Malfoy.

“Malfoy!” Ron said in an angry tone. “He better stay the hell away from my sister!”

The two dots stopped a good distance apart, having obviously noticed each other.

“What should we do? We can’t let her get turned in by Malfoy!” Ron said, standing up and looking at them expectantly with a worried expression.

“We can try to get down there, but I doubt we’ll have time…” Hermione said, sounding distressed.

“We’ve got to try,” Neville said with certainty. “Ginny won’t let them catch her without a fight,” he told them confidently.

“You should use my cloak,” Harry hastily added. Not missing a beat, Hermione pulled it out of her bag seconds later.

“Great idea, Harry,” she told him. “Harry’s invisibility cloak,” she explained, seeing varying degrees of confusion on the others’ faces.

“Harry and I will go and get Ginny,” Hermione said. Noticing Ron about to protest, she added, “The cloak isn’t big enough for four people- three would be a tight fit if we need to bring Ginny back- and we wanted to see Professor McGonagall anyway.”

“She’s got a point, Ron,” Neville said. “Besides, if you find them, you might do something rash, mate.”

Ron appeared as though he wanted to argue but couldn’t.

“Be careful,” Luna told them as they prepared to leave.

“Only twenty minutes to curfew,” Neville cautioned in an anxious tone.

“We’ll be alright,” Hermione said.

She stepped closer to Harry and they threw the cloak around them, inching in tighter to make sure their feet stayed hidden when they walked. Harry noticed some of the others in the room look up as they exited the door.

Hermione lit her wand and checked the map for Ginny, who still seemed to be talking to Malfoy several floors below them. She scanned the stairs to guarantee that no one was in the area and led Harry to the Grand Staircase.

In spite of their situation, Harry found it difficult not to look around. Even in the dark, he could see the outlines of hundreds of portraits and paintings, and more staircases that he could count.

Suddenly, Harry felt the stairs begin to move beneath them and panicked. Instinctively, he grabbed onto Hermione, who laughed quietly at his reaction. She held onto the railing which she had been walking closer to in case the stairs decided to move, and helped stabilize Harry with the other. Eventually, the staircase locked back into place and
Hermione quickly adjusted their route accordingly.

After descending numerous flights of stairs, which was made more difficult by their close proximity and confinement under the cloak, Hermione led them off the stairs and down a hallway.

They turned and were walking down a dimly lit corridor when Hermione stopped so suddenly that the cloak slipped off of them before Harry realized what had happened.
“They’re gone,” Hermione said in a tone of disbelief. She frantically searched the rest of the map for her friend’s name. Apparently, she had lost all concern for the fact that she was standing in the middle of a corridor in plain sight herself.

Harry rushed back to her, covering them with the cloak again.

“What do you mean ‘they’re gone’?” Harry asked in a whisper, his eyes checking their surroundings to make sure that they were still alone.

“They were on the first floor, in that corridor, right there, just a minute ago,” Hermione said in a hurried, anxious tone.” And now I can’t find either of their names anywhere!”

“Hermione, you’ve got to quiet down before you get us caught,” Harry told her in a firm, but gentle tone. “Let’s go in a classroom or something and we can check the map over again,” he suggested.

“Harry, they aren’t on there!” Hermione said, clearly frustrated. He was glad that she had lower her voice to a whisper, at least.

“Where are we now?” he asked her. He was still looking around nervously, expecting to see someone in a black cloak appear out of a hallway or closed door without warning.

“On the second floor,” Hermione answered. “There’s a staircase just over there that would’ve taken us to where Ginny was.”

“Didn’t you say Professor McGonagall is on the first floor?” Harry asked. When Hermione nodded, Harry suggested, “Then why don’t we see if we can find her. We can tell her about Ginny and check the map again, just in case, in there.”

Harry had a bad feeling about whatever happened to Ginny, and he honestly wasn’t sure what to think of Draco after the last time they saw each other, when Malfoy had let them escape for some reason.

Harry knew he and Hermione had gotten incredibly lucky that time, but he still didn’t know if Dobby was alright.

Pushing these thoughts out of his mind, Harry tried to focus on their current situation.
“Fine,” Hermione reluctantly agreed. Looking at her expression, he could tell she didn’t want to leave Ginny. Wanting to put her at ease as much as he could for the moment, Harry began speaking quickly.

“Look,” he said, “I know Malfoy let us go last time, but I still don’t trust him. We aren’t giving up. Something doesn’t feel right about this, I know. We will do whatever we can to find Ginny, I promise, but right now, we need to get out of the middle of the hallway before someone comes along and we get ourselves caught.”

When Harry finally stopped to breathe, he noticed Hermione was looking at him with a slightly amused smile.

“Thank you,” she said, touching Harry’s arm and giving it an affectionate squeeze, before slipping her hand into his and leading him to Professor McGonagall’s office.

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