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 grounds of Hogwarts were dark as Harry followed Ron out of the castle. On their way out, they had passed a group of Order members, accompanied by a few of the older students, heading for a spot on the perimeter to hold off the impending Death Eater forces. Harry wondered where Ron was taking him, but tried to keep the suspicion out of his mind as he led them in the direction of the forest.
The grip he had on Draco’s wand under the cloak was so tight Harry could faintly feel his heartbeat in his fingers.
“Over there,” Ron said, coming to a stop and indicating a spot in front of them.
Harry narrowed his eyes, trying to see what he was gesturing to in the moonlight. The only thing he could see was an extremely large willow tree.
“There’s a tunnel under that tree, in the roots” Ron explained quietly. “But we need to hit a spot on the trunk or it’ll knock us clean out of there.”
Harry gave Ron a confused look that he didn’t seem to notice. He wasn’t sure if Ron meant for him to understand what he was talking about or not. After waiting in silence for several moments, with Ron frowning at the tree, Harry spoke up.
“Huh?” Ron started, as if forgetting there was someone with him in his concentration. “Oh, right- you need to hit a spot near the base of the tree, otherwise it goes nuts and attacks you if you get too close.”
Harry blinked, not sure how to respond to an attacking tree.
His eyes drifted upward, and he noticed that the tree did seem to be moving more than the light breeze surrounding them warranted. It suddenly looked much more ominous.
“I think I see it,” Ron said, “but I’ve got to hit it…”
Harry pulled attention from the tree and looked at Ron as his eyes scanned the ground around the tree. He pointed his wand to a broken twig lying near the trunk.
With a swish and a flick, the twig floated up into the air. Ron directed it toward the tree and jabbed it into what Harry sincerely hoped was the correct spot.
Instantly, the movement of the tree slowed to a stop as if it was frozen in time. Now that the tree posed no threat, Ron walked forward slowly. Harry hesitated, unconvinced that the tree would remain harmless, but if he wanted to stay under the cloak, he had to move forward.
When Ron showed him the small, earthy opening around the roots, Harry offered to go first, so Ron crouched down and allowed the cloak to slip off of him as Harry crawled into the tunnel.
Even with his wand lit, it simply illuminated dark walls of dirt, and despite his fear that this might be a trap, Harry found his mind wandering.
I hope Hermione’s found the diadem by now.
Eventually, the passage began to slope upward and Harry hesitated, sensing that they were near their destination.
“It’s just up there,” Ron whispered from somewhere behind him.
“You should go back,” said Harry suddenly. “I’ve got it from here.”
“Are you mental? You expect me to just go on back and leave you here by yourself while You-Know-Who’s likely right there?”
Deciding that they didn’t have time to argue about it, Harry whispered, “Nox,” and the light emanating from his wand disappeared.
Crawling forward as quietly as he could manage, scared that his shallow breathing or thundering heartbeat would give him away, Harry neared the end of the tunnel. Voices drifted to his ears as he got closer, and Harry found that the end of the passage was blocked by a large crate. Leaning against one side of the wall, Harry looked through the small space around the edge of the crate, peering into the room ahead.
He could see the large snake, Nagini, floating in the magical cage Voldemort had created to protect one of his remaining links to life.
“I regret what must happen, Severus, but it is the only way,” Voldemort’s voice spoke from within the room.
“My Lord!” Snape objected, and Harry saw his face. A shiver went up Harry’s spine. It looked pale white and lifeless already.
What was he supposed to do- Voldemort was right there?
Movement caught Harry’s eyes and he saw the magical cage moving forward, advancing on Snape. In seconds, his upper body was enclosed in the cage with the snake.
The hiss caused Harry to shiver again, and all he could do was watch as the snake bit down on Snape, near the junction of his neck and shoulder.
An awful scream of agony followed, which left Harry shaken.
Without another word, Voldemort left the room, bringing Nagini, still in the protective cage, with him.
Somehow, Harry sensed that he was headed to the Forbidden Forest to wait out the rest of the hour before burning a path through Hogwarts to find him if he did not turn himself in.
Pointing his wand at the crate blocking his path, Harry hurriedly levitated it out of the way. He pulled himself up into the room, pausing for a moment as he stood, staring at the dying man who he had despised for so long.
Snape had always treated him with exceptional disdain and loathing, but the memory of when he’d overheard Snape talking Bellatrix out of forcing Harry to kill a prisoner entered his mind as he approached his summer potions instructor.
Slowly, Harry removed the invisibility cloak, looking down at Snape’s black eyes as he gasped for breath.
Realizing that Snape was trying to speak, Harry knelt down next to him, trying his hardest to ignore the blood spilling from the man’s neck.
From Snape’s eyes, a silvery substance was leaking out, and with a jolt, Harry realized what it was; it looked extremely similar to the substance in the pensieve Dumbledore had left him in his will, full of memories. Harry panicked for a second, not sure what to do, when Ron handed him a small flask.
Not pausing to ask questions, Harry took the container with shaking hands and guided the memories flowing from Snape into it with his wand.
“Find the… headmaster’s office…,” Snape struggled to tell him. “Dumbledore… a pensieve…”
Not knowing what else to do, Harry nodded.
“Look… at… me…” Snape whispered, in a tone Harry had never before heard him use.
His green eye found Snape’s. Within seconds, the black eyes looking back at him became dull and empty.
For some time, Harry stayed kneeling next to Snape, silent and still.
Without warning, a cold voice spoke and Harry jumped up and swirled around, grasping the flask and Draco’s wand tightly. But there was no one there, and Harry realized that this must have been what happened before when Voldemort sent the message to Hogwarts.
“Your hour is up,” the voice spoke as if right next to him, and Harry shuddered involuntarily as the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. “My followers will wait no longer. I command my forces to begin their assault on Hogwarts. Find Harry Potter and bring him to me, alive. Spare no one else.”
In the distance, from somewhere far outside the Shrieking Shack, Harry heard a muffled war cry and the yells and howls of a small army. Several seconds was all it took for Harry to run through the list of allies he knew Voldemort to have in his mind: dementors, giants, werewolves.
“Harry Potter, I now speak to you. I shall wait one more hour in the Forbidden Forest, should you choose to turn yourself in. Now every minute you hide like a coward, rather than facing me yourself, those protecting you will die. If at the end of that hour, you have still not come to me, I shall join the fight myself and I shall find you. And along the way, I shall punish every last man, woman, and child who has tried to conceal you from me.”
Harry felt cold and numb, Voldemort’s harsh words still echoing in his ears: every minute you hide like a coward, rather than facing me yourself, those protecting you will die.
“W-we’ve got to get back to the castle,” Ron’s voice broke through Harry’s thoughts suddenly, “to Dumbledore’s old office.”
Harry frowned and the events that occurred before Voldemort’s second message came rushing back to him.
“Right- yeah- let’s go.”
“I’ll take you there,” said Ron, leading Harry back through the small tunnel. “We’d better hurry.”
They crawled through the passage silently, but Harry’s mind was already back at Hogwarts, wondering how long they could hold off the Death Eaters, what protection they had in place, if all the younger students had made it out and if Hermione was alright…
As they neared the exit by the roots of the enormous willow tree, Harry heard more clearly the sounds of battle. He could faintly hear the shouts of spells and crashes and screams. His stomach twisted into a tight knot as Voldemort’s words reached him again: Spare no one else…
Finally, they emerged from beneath the tree, carefully making sure they were both covered by the cloak. Harry’s eyes swept the grounds of Hogwarts, now a battlefield. There were small groups fighting in several areas scattered outside, none too close to them.
One battle caught Harry’s attention and he strained to see in the darkness. Dawn was approaching, but the sun had yet to rise, so there wasn’t much visibility. He saws flashes of a man’s face as spells flew by him and from his own wand.
Then he heard his voice, and despite the distance, Harry was sure who it was. Without thinking, he rushed forward to help, slipping out from under the cloak.
“Harry!” Ron called after him, loud enough for him to hear but quiet enough not to alert anyone else. Harry ignored him, glad it was still dark so that no one saw him approaching.
A single man was fighting two masked Death Eaters, managing to hold off both, but making progress against neither.
Harry shot a spell when he saw his chance, and one of the Death Eaters fell, stunned. In his momentary confusion, the other Death Eater was taken down as well.
Light from the wand of the man who remained standing shone brightly, and Harry saw Remus Lupin send him a smile of thanks before turning back to the Death Eaters to make sure they wouldn’t be returning to the fight any time soon.
Harry dashed back to Ron, who met him in the middle and threw the cloak back over him.
“Sorry,” Harry hastily apologized for holding them up, “let’s get to the headmaster’s office.”
They hurried forward as quickly as they could while both staying safely under the cloak. Harry once again found himself wondering where Hermione was and if she and Luna had been able to locate and destroy the diadem.
After stopping briefly to avoid what appeared to be a fight between two giants, Harry and Ron made it to the castle entrance. Thankfully, none of the Death Eaters seemed to have made it that far yet, and Ron slipped out of the cloak to get someone to let them in.
Inside the castle, people dashed by them, and every once and a while Harry heard crashes and shouting. Twice he and Ron had to nearly dive out of the way to stop someone from running right into them as they tried to stay hidden under the cloak.
As he followed Ron, his eyes darted around, finding few familiar faces.
“It’s just through there,” Ron said, panting slightly from their trip. “You just need the password…”
Harry thought for a second, remembering Snape’s final words to him, and then said, “Dumbledore!”
The gargoyle standing right in front of them moved to the side, revealing a spiral staircase which Harry assumed led to the headmaster’s office.
“Go on,” Ron told him, “I’m going to go find Ginny and make sure she’s alright.”
Harry nodded, “Thanks, Ron.”
Ron nodded and took off back down the hallway in search of his sister.
Regarding the spiral staircase in front of him, Harry took a deep breath and walked forward, hearing the gargoyle move back into place behind him as he climbed the staircase.
For a moment, he stopped in awe of the headmaster’s office. There was a large desk and all sorts of interesting magical objects, and more frames hanging on the wall than he could easily count, all of which were currently empty.
A distant bang brought Harry’s mind back into focus. Remembering why he was here in the first place, Harry looked around for the pensieve. Spotting it, he moved further into the room to where it was stored, and pulled the vial with Snape’s memories out of his pocket.
Pouring the strange substance into the pensieve, Harry took a moment to steady himself before leaning forward and falling into the memories of a man he had grown up wishing he would never see again.
Getting his bearings, Harry looked around to try to make sense of the scene and froze. A few feet from him was a young girl with red hair and eyes exactly like his own.
“Lily, don’t do it!” the girl next to her shrieked.
Lily was swinging higher and higher until finally she let go when she was so high in the air it made Harry’s stomach drop. But she didn’t fall to the ground. Instead, she laughed and seemed to float, coming to land neatly on the asphalt.
The girls began to argue, and Harry watched as a young version of his mother showed the other girl, whom he now realized was his Aunt Petunia, more of her magical talents.
Without warning, a young boy leapt out from behind a bush off to Harry’s right and Harry was so surprised he jumped and shouted. Thankfully no one could hear or see him, since he was in Snape’s memories. Then it seemed to come back to him. He had been so caught up in seeing his mother, he’d forgotten where he was: in Snape’s memories.
Refocusing on the conversation, Harry listened and then watched as the girls gave the young Snape a pair of disapproving looks before turning and walking away.
The scene dissolved and reformed several times, showing Harry different snippets of Snape’s younger life, and his mother’s. He felt guilty, knowing that these were the memories of the man who had just been killed, but Harry found himself focusing more on his mother than Snape.
As he listened to the conversation, he watched the reactions and expressions play across her face, trying almost desperately to learn more about the girl who had become his mother. It hurt him to see her and not know her; he really knew nothing of her personality, her likes, her beliefs. The only things he knew for certain was that she had gone to Hogwarts, been sorted into Gryffindor, and had later joined the fight against Voldemort.
She was a muggle-born. How did I not figure it out before? Petunia was her sister and she wasn’t a witch. She never even mentioned magic and told me my parents died in a car crash. Then the Death Eaters… of course they never said she was muggle-born… they had me believing she and my father were against muggles and muggle-borns.
Harry hadn’t been paying very close attention to the scene currently playing out around him, so he was surprised to hear a voice other than his mother’s or Snape’s speak up in the small compartment. Harry turned, and he saw two boys sitting in the same compartment.
Shock ran through him as he recognized a young Sirius- and then his father, who looked much like he had years ago.
He listened as his father spoke of Gryffindor, and watched as his mother and Snape left the compartment after Sirius insulted the boy hoping to be in Slytherin.
With some excitement, he watched his parents’ sorting, despite already knowing where they would both end up. He noticed that Snape had also gotten his wish: Slytherin.
The scene changed again…
Lily and Snape were walking ahead of him, and Harry rushed to catch up. He noticed quickly that they were much taller than in the last memory and wondered how many years had passed. When he caught up, he realized that they seemed to be arguing.
Lily was stating her strong disapproval of some of Snape’s friends, many names which Harry recognized as future Death Eaters. Snape tried to turn the conversation around by pointing out the mischief his father, whom they both referred to as ‘Potter’ he noticed, got up to with his friends.
Harry listened on as Snape tried to incriminate Lupin, and felt a rush of anger toward the lanky, dark-haired boy.
Then Lily said that James had saved Snape by the tunnel near the Whomping Willow, and Snape completely lost his composure, stuttering and clearly at a loss.
He went on insulting James, and Harry frowned until he caught Snape saying his father fancied her. A second later, Lily called James and arrogant toerag.
This left Harry even more confused about his parents’ relationship.
So, my dad liked my mom for years, but she thought he was an arrogant jerk? Then how did they end up together…?
When the scene changed, Harry watched his father lift Snape into the air, tormenting him. Guilt and doubt spread through him as he watched his father’s actions as a teen. Seemingly out of nowhere, Lily ran in to defend Snape, but he was livid and humiliated and lashed out at her, too.
Harry watched as Snape called his mother a Mudblood, his chest tightening involuntarily, knowing he had used the word before, too.
When the scene changed again, Snape was trying to apologize, but Lily wasn’t having it. She accused him and his friends of wanting to be Death Eaters, which Snape didn’t deny.
So my mom and Snape were friends since they were kids, but their friendship ended because he wanted to be a Death Eater and she was against Dark Magic and Voldemort?
The next scene shocked Harry more than all those before it put together.
An older Snape, now around his age or a few years older, approached a man he recognized as Albus Dumbledore. Dumbledore also looked much younger than Harry had ever seen him, but he knew who it was instantly.
Snape spoke, begged, pleading with Dumbledore to protect Lily. To Harry’s surprise, he offered Dumbledore anything in return for her safety.
When the scene changed again, Snape was hunched over in a chair in the headmaster’s office, sobbing with such pain that Harry could feel his agony. And in that instant, Harry knew.
Snape had loved his mother.
He spoke to Dumbledore, who convinced him that if he truly loved Lily, Snape should watch over her son, Harry.
The scene shifted to years later, though the two men were in the same office.
“You know something, Severus,” Dumbledore said, his bright blue eyes searching Snape behind half-moon spectacles.
“I do,” Snape replied, and Harry could immediately tell from his tone and the slight hesitation that he had some reason for caution.
“Have you found the boy?” Dumbledore asked.
“I know that he is alive,” said Snape carefully.
“You have not forgotten our conversation…?”
“I have not,” Snape answered immediately. “I will do what I can, but no one must know.”
“You have been sworn to secrecy?” the older man asked, touching his fingertips together as his elbows rested on his desk.
“The Unbreakable Vow,” Snape confirmed. “Despite my years of service, they do not seem to trust anyone with information about this.”
“I understand, Severus.”
“It is like seeing his arrogant father all over again,” Snape said, contempt now apparent in his voice.
“You see what you wish to see,” Dumbledore replied smartly.
And the scene once again dissolved.
They were again in the same room, and Snape immediately began scolding Dumbledore for putting on a ring. Harry jolted, seeing Dumbledore’s blackened and dead hand, realizing that the ring must have been the ring Horcrux Dumbledore had mentioned in his own memories.
Snape was saying how he could have spared Dumbledore longer had he been contacted sooner, but Dumbledore seemed surprisingly indifferent when Snape gave his estimated prognosis: a year to live at best, no chance of curing the curse.
Then Dumbledore moved on to another topic, which Harry listened to closely, extremely curious.
“I refer to the plan Lord Voldemort has constructed to have young Malfoy murder me.”
Harry jolted, having not heard of this.
How did I not know about this? I lived at Malfoy Manor…
Flashes came back to him of Draco acting strangely, different, less arrogant- afraid even. At the time, Harry had believed it because of Voldemort’s increasing power and his father’s slow but steady fall from favor. Now Harry looked at these memories in a new light, with increased interest.
Was this really why Draco was so shaken…?
Harry listened as Dumbledore guessed, apparently correctly, that should Draco fail, Snape was to kill Dumbledore instead. Then, to Harry’s shock, the old man asked him to go through with it.
They’d planned it?!
Snape didn’t seem to like this idea, but Dumbledore was insistent.
The scene faded and changed as Snape’s irritated voice came through.
“What are you leaving for the boy? Why do you trust Potter with information… you trust him… you do not trust me. You have never even met the boy!” Snape was obviously angry, but keeping himself in check, though his voice was raised more than normal.
“It is not about trust, Severus. He needs to receive the information necessary to fulfill his destiny. And unfortunately, it seems as though I will not live long enough to have the pleasure of meeting him.”
Snape snorted, sneering slightly.
“Why not just tell me?”
“A smart man never puts all his eggs in one basket, especially not in a basket which often dangles from the arm of the enemy.”
“Which I do on your orders!”
“And you do it extremely well. I do not underestimate the danger you put yourself in by working so closely with Voldemort. To give him useful information, but withhold the most important details is a job I would entrust to nobody but you.”
“Yet you confide much more in a boy you do not even know! Surely you remember the incident I told you about? Last summer when I was being forced to attempt to teach the boy potions-”
“Yes, Severus, I remember.”
And Harry immediately knew what they were talking about. Once during a potions lesson, Harry’s scar had started throbbing and he had seen, through the eyes of Voldemort, him duel and ultimately murder a woman he later learned was Amelia Bones.
The conversation went on and finally ended when Dumbledore told Snape to come to his office again later that night, saying he would no longer doubt his trust in him.
The office reformed, and Harry could tell by the darkness outside that night had fallen some time ago.
Everything in the room was still except Dumbledore, who was walking around the chair in which Snape sat.
“Harry must not know until the very last moment, not until it is completely necessary.”
Harry stared at the scene, wanting desperately to know what Snape had just discovered.
“Listen carefully, Severus. There will be a time when Lord Voldemort will seem to fear for the life of his snake as well as his own, if I am correct.”
At this, Harry did remember something in Dumbledore’s memories suggesting a snake as a possible Horcrux, but Harry hadn’t believed the theory, then, and with all the other possibilities and information, he had overlooked it.
“You mean Nagini?” Snape asked, looking completely confused.
“Yes. If there comes a time when Voldemort seems to fear for the life of his snake, and he begins to keep it closely with him, I think then it will be safe to tell Harry.”
“Tell him what?” Snape asked.
And Harry nearly stopped breathing so as to make sure he caught every word. He had no doubt that this was what Snape had needed to tell him; why he had given him these memories.
“Tell him that when Voldemort tried to kill him as a boy, and Lily used herself as a shield, dying to save him, the Killing Curse rebounded upon Voldemort and a piece of his very soul was ripped from his body. It then latched onto the only living soul left in the building. Part of Lord Voldemort lives inside Harry, and it is that which inadvertently allows him to glimpse into the mind of Voldemort. While the fragment of his soul, unknown to Voldemort, remains protected by Harry, Voldemort cannot die.”
Harry stood frozen in shock, feeling almost as though he was falling though his body had not moved.
“So the boy… he must die?” asked Snape evenly.
“And Voldemort must do it himself, Severus. That is essential.”
There was a long pause of silence.
“All these years… I thought I was protecting him for her. I tried… tried to stop their corruption of him,” he said quietly, more to himself than Dumbledore.
“I must trust what little you have told me about him, Severus, and that he is truly his parents’ son. For if we are wrong, it would be disastrous. I must put faith in the fact that when he does set out to meet his death, it will be the end of Voldemort.”
“You have had me try to keep him alive simply so that he can die at the right moment?”
Snape looked horrified as Dumbledore gazed at him solemnly.
They continued to talk, but Harry heard nothing else of their conversation. He was vaguely aware of Snape casting a Patronus, but he did not know why; he did not care.
After all this, after everything, he was meant to die…
The headmaster’s office dissolved and this time reformed into a different scene. Snape was standing next to Harry, watching from the shadows as Draco disarmed Dumbledore.
Harry didn’t think he had ever seen Draco look so shaken. His wand, which Harry now possessed, was pointed at the Headmaster, his arm unsteady. Malfoy was sweating, and sounded on the verge of tears as he spoke in a strangled voice.
Dumbledore responded and after a few moments, Draco began to lower his wand. Immediately, Snape swept out from the darkness. Harry noticed little else but the flash of green light leaving his wand and Dumbledore falling.
Next, the scene showed Snape back in the headmaster’s office, talking to a portrait of Dumbledore on the wall.
“Potter nearly got himself killed- trying to act the hero like his father- ridiculous- if I hadn’t knocked into Bellatrix’s arm, she would have surely hit one of them,” said Snape, speaking with a great deal of frustration.
“He did well, Severus. This shows that they have not truly corrupted his heart,” the portrait of Dumbledore answered.
“How am I supposed to watch over him now? If he begins to openly oppose the Death Eaters, how am I to keep him alive?”
“I trust that you are capable. But he cannot realize that you have helped him. You must be sure that he receives the items left to him in my will.”
Snape didn’t look very pleased, but he answered, “I know.”
Turning on his heel, Snape left the room. Harry rose out of the pensieve. He took several steps back before slowly sinking to his knees.