Out of Shadows
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.
The trip back through the underground tunnels leading away from the Chamber of Secrets was a long one. He was tired and sore and bruised, but Harry felt nothing as his feet carried him toward the exit and his arms carried the body of his first friend. The small elf felt weightless in Harry’s grasp, in complete contrast to the heaviness of his heart.
His childhood rival’s wand now sticking out of his pocket, Harry trudged on, following the footsteps of whoever was ahead of him.
Mere minutes after Draco had fallen to the basilisk venom and Harry had found Dobby, Ginny returned to the Chamber with several professors at her heels. Harry remembered vaguely hearing Hermione speak with them.
She probably explained how they had found the Chamber, how Colin’s petrified state had been smashed, how Dobby had managed to blind them momentarily to save them from looking into the basilisk’s eyes and blinded it permanently, how the friendly, helpful little elf had seen the eyes himself and died instantly. He also imagined her telling them of Draco, a Slytherin to the core who had always longed to be a Death Eater but quickly found out that it was more than he bargained for, who had been forced to open the Chamber and had ultimately sacrificed himself to help them kill the monster he had awoken.
He was aware of the others making the trip back to Hogwarts with him, but to Harry, they felt miles away.
Some of the group split once they got back to the bathroom, but Harry didn’t take notice of who left and who remained.
Realizing someone had been speaking to him directly for more than a few seconds, Harry forced himself to listen.
“Mr. Potter,” Professor McGonagall was saying in a gentle voice, “what would you like to do with him?”
“I want to bury him,” Harry said and the hoarse voice that came out sounded nothing like his own had for the past few months.
The older witch merely nodded and led him from the bathroom. He could sense someone else following them but didn’t care to know who it was.
The first rays of sunlight were just coming up over the horizon as Harry finished, his friend buried at dawn on the Hogwarts’ grounds. Something in his mind told him that standing outside of the school Death Eaters currently controlled when he was enemy number one wasn’t a smart thing to do, but Harry didn’t listen. Instead, he assumed that McGonagall had found a way to make sure he wasn’t seen as he buried the elf.
For a while, he stood in silence, his mind wandering through dark memories and thoughts. After some time, he felt a light pressure on his arm and flinched away from it. Turning, he saw Hermione holding out his invisibility cloak to him. He understood the message- they should get back inside.
Not meeting her eyes, he nodded once and allowed her to wrap the cloak around them.
Seconds of silence passed before Hermione took his hand and began leading him back toward the castle.
Harry had let go before they reached the doors.
When they finally reached the hideout, no one spoke to them. Someone must have warned the others to give them space. It didn’t spare them from the eyes following their every move, though.
Sitting down on his cot, Harry figured that he should feel tired, seeing as it was morning and he hadn’t slept all night, but he didn’t. Or maybe he was tired but he just couldn’t tell.
Without looking he knew Hermione was watching him, trying to gauge what he was thinking and feeling and trying to figure out what to do, but he put it out of his mind.
“We should really try to get some sleep,” she said eventually. Her voice was quiet and hesitant, and her tone said “I’m sorry” though her words didn’t.
For some reason, he was glad she hadn’t said it aloud.
Harry simply nodded and when she handed him a change of clothes, he went to the bathroom in the hideout and mechanically switched outfits. Not sure what to do with the dirty, blood-covered clothing he had taken off, he returned to Hermione with the old clothes still in his hands.
Cautiously, she took them from him and asked if it was alright if she got rid of them. When he nodded again, she took care of them; Harry didn’t watch how.
A minute later, Harry was staring at the ceiling of the hideout. He was now acutely aware of everything around him, and it was a while before Hermione fell asleep.
Listening to the sound of her calm, even breathing soothed the war of emotions inside him somewhat. Without warning, his mind replayed the scene in the Chamber: the basilisk closing in on her, her back to a steep pile of rubble, she dodges, but is unable to get away the second time; he is watching, too far away, without a wand, helpless.
For the first time since they slayed Slytherin’s monster, Harry looked at Hermione.
She had changed clothes, too, but what he could see of her body was covered in a variety of minor injuries… how easily it could have been her instead of Dobby, instead of Malfoy.
As he looked at her, he saw her lying in the bed at Grimmauld Place, covered in bloody wraps and towels in his mind’s eye.
He saw a jet of green light rapidly approaching her.
His eyes moved to her face, which looked surprisingly peaceful despite everything that had happened, and he remembered her eyes. In an instant, he knew what he wanted to do.
Quietly sitting up, Harry glanced around the room. There were a few people there, but most of them had gone back to sleep.
Getting up slowly, Harry knelt down between their cots. Reaching into Hermione’s magic bag, he pulled out the things he needed: one of the small backpacks Hermione had in her bag just in case, his invisibility cloak, the sword (which he had heard someone say was Gryffindor’s), the other Horcruxes (the cup and the locket), enough food for a few days, and his snitch.
He packed the items into the backpack, carefully wrapped the sword in a strong fabric he found in Hermione’s bag, quickly before putting it on and standing.
Stealing one last look at Hermione, only partly to make sure she was still sleeping, Harry turned and headed toward the portrait.
The young woman in the painting seemed to understand what he wanted, and the frame swung forward, revealing the secret passage leading out of Hogwarts. Looking back into the room his eyes locked with Neville, who was sitting up on his cot, watching silently.
For several seconds, Harry held his gaze, but then he turned back to the passage, climbed up onto the ledge, and didn’t look back.
Harry spent most of the time in the shadowy tunnel telling himself that he was doing the right thing. Somehow, he was sure that Hermione wouldn’t have let him go without her if he had told her his plan.
When he hopped off the ledge on the other side, he was surprised to hear people talking. Instinctively drawing Draco’s wand and tensing, listening hard, he realized that he recognized the voices. After a minute, the speaking stopped and Harry heard a door close.
Then, to the surprise of both wizards, Lupin walked into the room to find Harry standing there, wand at the ready.
“Harry,” Lupin said, clearly not having expected anyone to be in the room.
They considered each other before Lupin’s eyes strayed from him.
“Where is Hermione?” he asked.
Harry tried not to look like he had just been punched in the gut.
“Back at Hogwarts,” he answered in a tight voice.
“What happened?” Remus asked. Harry was sure the man could tell that he didn’t want to talk about it, but for some reason he wasn’t backing down.
“It’s a long story,” Harry said, trying to dodge the real question.
“I’m sure it is,” Lupin agreed carefully, “but I’m also sure there’s a much more simple reason Hermione isn’t with you.”
“I left her there,” Harry confessed, not seeing the point in trying to avoid it anymore. What he wanted more than anything at that moment was to run out of the pub and not stop until he was far away from everything.
“Does she know?” his parents’ friend asked.
“Not yet,” Harry told him. “She is asleep.”
Lupin seemed to consider this for a moment, studying Harry closely.
“Why are you leaving her behind?” he asked finally. “I doubt she will be happy about it when she finds out.”
“I know,” Harry answered half-heartedly, not really caring if she wasn’t going to like it.
“That doesn’t answer my question,” he pressed.
Somewhere within him, Harry felt anger at being held up and Lupin’s refusal to leave him alone.
“I’ve known Hermione for quite a while,” Lupin said slowly. “She really cares about you.”
Whatever Harry had been expecting him to say, it certainly wasn’t that.
Something in Harry’s chest tightened.
“I can’t- she’ll get hurt,” Harry struggled to get out, not looking at the older wizard before him.
To his surprise, Lupin let out a quiet laugh.
“For quite a while, I pushed away a woman who cared about me in order to protect her,” he told Harry. “But she didn’t give up on me, and eventually I realized that all I was really doing was making both of us unhappy.”
Harry’s eyes traveled to Lupin’s face, unable to hide his curiosity.
“Now she is my wife,” Remus said, watching Harry’s reaction.
The comparison caught Harry off guard, and it showed in his eyes. Why was Lupin comparing his situation with his wife to what he and Hermione were going through? Surely it wasn’t similar enough to compare…
“Think about that,” Lupin suggested, seeing the confused expression on Harry’s face.
Not knowing how to respond, Harry waited for Lupin to speak again.
“Speaking of my wife,” the change in his tone was clearly evident, “she had our baby not long ago.”
Harry’s eyes shot up again.
“We named him Teddy,” Lupin added. “I hope that you will be a part of his life in the future, as well as ours.” His tone held a genuine sincerity.
The messages were clear to Harry: he wasn’t alone, there were people who cared about him, who wanted to know him beyond the war; he had the possibility of a future.
Maybe it should have reassured him, but after everything that had just happened, Harry felt a terrifying, suffocating fear start to seize him.
“Th-thanks,” Harry choked out with difficulty.
Sirius, Dobby, Malfoy, all of the others he hadn’t known…
“I need to get going,” Harry said in a rush, moving toward the door. When he reached it, he paused for a moment, turning back to look at Lupin.
Harry wanted to say something, but he couldn’t find the words.
“Just don’t do something reckless,” Lupin advised seriously. Then he added in a lighter tone, “If something happens to you, I don’t want to be the one she comes after for not stopping you from leaving.”
Harry simply nodded. He really did like Lupin, but he had to go.
With that, he pulled on his invisibility cloak and slipped out of the pub and into the fresh, morning air.
Hours later found Harry asleep in a small tent, surrounded by trees. He had apparated back to the Forest of Dean once he was well outside of Hogsmeade and conjured a small tent. Pausing only briefly to put up some of the wards before dragging himself inside, he collapsed on a cot, completely spent. He had only the essentials with him in a backpack lying next to his cot: the sword of Gryffindor, which he had gotten while in the Chamber of
Secrets, the two Horcruxes he and Hermione had located but hadn’t yet destroyed, his invisibility cloak, a small amount of food, and his snitch.
When Harry woke up, he felt disoriented. It was dark outside, and several parts of his body were sore and bruised. Slowly, he remembered the horrors of the Chamber of Secrets and leaving Hogwarts alone, falling asleep sometime in the morning when his tired body could no longer support him.
Glancing around the dull, unimpressive tent, Harry tried to make sense of what had happened. He had no idea what time it was or how long he had slept, but he guessed it was some time the next night. An uncomfortable feeling squirmed in him as he realized that by now Hermione would definitely know that he had left without her.
She would be mad, of that there was no question, but how mad he wasn’t sure. Despite this, Harry told himself again that he had done the right thing. Leaving her behind was for the best.
Draco, Dobby, and the Hogwarts student Colin had all been killed in the Chamber. And he couldn’t stop it; he couldn’t save them. The other students rumored as missing must have been ones who found their way to the Room of Requirement to hide out, according to something he had heard McGonagall say to one of the other teachers.
Reaching into the backpack he had taken from Hermione’s beaded bag, he got out some food and forced it down with difficulty.
So, the diary was destroyed in the Chamber- by Draco. That was definitely a Horcrux. And a basilisk fang is what destroyed it. Hermione said the sword absolutely should work for the others… something about it taking in things that make it stronger. Dumbledore also said he had destroyed a ring, so that’s two. We found two more: Slytherin’s locket and the cup of Hufflepuff.
That’s four total, so there should be two more if he really split his soul into seven pieces, with the last part still in his body.
I’ve also got the snitch Dumbledore left me, but I’ve no idea what that’s got to do with anything. ‘I open at the close’…
And there’s the whole Deathly Hallows story. I know he’s looking for the wand, if he hasn’t gotten it already. An unbeatable wand- as if this wasn’t impossible enough, he’s probably going to have an unbeatable wand…
I don’t know much about the other two, except what they are supposed to do, but they shouldn’t matter if he doesn’t want them.
The Resurrection Stone… being able to speak with the dead…
For a reason he couldn’t explain, Harry put off trying to use the sword to destroy the Horcruxes he already had and instead sat thinking about the ones he had yet to find. When he hit a dead end, he tried to guide his thoughts to other information which might be useful. He spent hours concentrating on these things, simply thinking rather than acting, and a few days passed before he got the courage to do more than that.
Maybe it was because his body still felt so strained and tired. Maybe it was because he felt so alone without her.
Maybe he just needed to devote all of his energy onto keeping his thoughts productive. Because as soon as his focus slipped and his mind wandered, he found himself back at Hogwarts, deep underneath the castle, surrounded by suffocating damp walls and a maze of tunnels, facing his fears.
Many miles away, a distracted witch was lying awake, too. She had been told in earnest that she was one of the smartest of her age. If this was true, then why- why couldn’t she figure out what was going on with her and the person she had thought she was growing so close to?
He couldn’t be gone; he just couldn’t really be gone…