[Fanfic] Out of Shadows – Chapter 36

Out of Shadows

CHAPTER 36

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

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Everything in the world seemed to be closing in on Harry as he sat on the floor of the headmaster’s office, staring ahead without really seeing.

Now he knew; he had to die.

In order to rid the world of Voldemort, the cost was his life. His parents had ultimately given their lives for this cause, and now it was his turn.

His heart was pounding forcefully in his chest, and he was very aware of every shallow breath that passed through his lips.

So much depended on him doing what Dumbledore had planned now, sacrificing himself willingly. While his mind was filled with doubts, his heart knew what he would do. Perhaps that is why it was beating so powerfully, to try to stop him.

“What will you do?” a voice suddenly asked.

The voice surprised Harry, but he was so caught up in the information he had just received that he didn’t react immediately. He considered the question before worrying himself with who had asked it.

There was a short stretch of silence.

“I’m going to turn myself in,” Harry answered, surprised that his voice sounded calm.

 

He felt numb, hollow. But part of him new this would be his choice and that it was the right one.

“You would have made a fine Gryffindor,” the voice answered.

Harry’s eyes drifted upward, and he found himself looking into a face he had never seen in person, but now knew well. He looked almost exactly as he had in Snape’s memories, and some of his own.

Albus Dumbledore gazed at Harry for the first time, his bright eyes searching Harry’s. Apparently, Dumbledore had decided to return to his painting in the headmaster’s office amidst the attack on Hogwarts.

“A lovely lady in a painting by the corridor outside the headmaster’s office was kind enough to let me know that someone had gotten the password correct and gone up the stairs. I thought it might be in my best interest to find out who had come here,” Dumbledore explained.

“I must admit, while I had considered the possibility, I was surprised to see you, Harry.”

“How did you know?” Harry asked suddenly. “How did you know what I’d just seen in the pensieve?”

“I did not know,” Dumbledore answered calmly, “but often one is able to make quite accurate guesses based on the circumstances.”

“For example, if I saw a student eat a white Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Bean, and afterward his face contorted into one of disgust, it would be reasonable to guess that he had picked one which tasted like sardines. Earwax is similar, but personally I don’t find that nearly as offensive.”

Harry understood his point in spite of the strange analogy. As he looked at Dumbledore, he realized something: even though it had been Dumbledore’s plan all along, he was not going to push him to take the final step.

Maybe he should have been angry; maybe he should have hated this man for convincing him to follow his plan only to lead him to his death, but he found that he felt neither.

Instead, Harry felt a sense of acceptance.

He didn’t want to die.

He was scared, but he was scared of the future, too. If he survived, what then? Sacrificing himself, dying to save the lives of others, that wasn’t a bad way to go. But he also wanted a chance to live without the constraints that had bound him all of his life… the Dursleys, the Malfoys, the Death Eaters, and the one he could not escape until death: Voldemort.

Confusion swirled around in his head as his fears and uncertainty collided.

“Have you heard the tale of the three brothers?” Dumbledore asked interestedly.

“I have,” Harry replied, being partially drawn out of his thoughts.

“Which one appeals most to you?”

Harry hesitated only a moment before answering.

“The Resurrection Stone.”

Dumbledore nodded as if not surprised or displeased by this answer.

“What if I told you that it is already in your possession?”

“What?” Harry asked, shocked.

“It resides within the snitch I left to you in my will. Simply turn it in your palm three times.”

Harry pulled the snitch out of his pocket and looked at it closely.

“‘I open at the close’…” he muttered to himself, thinking quickly.

“Not here,” said Dumbledore, “but soon. You will know when.”

Harry nodded, pocketing the snitch again.

“Voldemort has the wand,” said Harry. “He stole it from your tomb.”

“Does it obey him?”

“Yes, but only as much as other wands he’s used before. He thought it wasn’t letting him use its full potential because he wasn’t the one to kill you and take it from you.”

“Am I correct in assuming that he then went after Snape, thinking that killing him would win over the wand’s allegiance?”

Harry nodded.

“Voldemort had his snake kill him,” said Harry.

“Do you know how the wand works for him now?” Dumbledore asked.

“No, but he’s probably right- now that he’s killed Snape, what’s stopping it from-”

Dumbledore held up a hand from within the painting, and Harry stopped speaking.

“Wands choose their loyalty based on more than murder,” Dumbledore explained. “No one knows exactly how or why wands choose certain witches and wizards, or why others may win their loyalty. But I have studied wandlore, and there have been many cases in which a wand becomes loyal to another after he or she defeats its master in a duel.”

Harry listened, not sure where if he followed the brilliant man’s line of thinking.

“I was disarmed before Snape performed the Killing Curse on me.”

It took a few seconds to sink in, then, “Malfoy.”

“Correct,” Dumbledore said. “Young Mister Malfoy disarmed me before I died, meaning the wand could very well have been loyal to him.”

Harry nodded.

Then something crossed his mind, shocking him. Back at Malfoy Manor, he had disarmed Draco one of the times they had escaped.

“I disarmed Draco, after that,” Harry said hesitantly.

“Then it is likely you are the true master of the Elder Wand,” Dumbledore said. “Meaning the others should be capable of defeating Voldemort once his remaining links to life have been broken.”

Silence settled over them, and quickly, the reality of the situation came rushing back to Harry: what he had to do and how his time was so limited. Breathing once again became difficult as fear gripped him.

“I am sorry,” Dumbledore spoke, and Harry was surprised how sincere the words sounded, “that it must end like this and that I could not tell you sooner. I regret not having the chance to know you in life.”

Harry knew he had to go now. As he stayed here, people were dying. Good people, innocent people. He wouldn’t let anyone else suffer.

Slowly, Harry rose to his feet. For several seconds, he met Dumbledore’s penetrating stare before turning and letting his feet carry him out of the room. When he reached the exit, he wrapped his father’s cloak around himself, hiding his presence. He descended the stairs and was surprised to find the hallway more chaotic that when he had been through there minutes ago.

How long had he been up there, in Snape’s memories?

Suddenly, Harry felt more motivated to move quickly. If the hour was almost up, he didn’t want to waste any more time.

With great effort, he tried to remain focused on his own task and the path ahead of him, but he found it difficult to stop his eyes from wandering to the battles going on around him. It seemed some of the Death Eaters had gotten into Hogwarts.

Walking past the Great Hall, Harry footsteps slowed. There were two wizards Harry did not recognize standing near the entrance, casting shield charms and stopping anyone from getting too close. Beyond them, in the large room, Harry could see several people lying down with others surrounding them.

Panic seized him as he realized that they might dead, casualties of the battle. For a few short moments, he stood frozen, trying desperately to see their faces, to glimpse who it was who had fallen. When the others within the room shifted and he caught sight of them, he realized that none of them looked familiar.

Voices came from behind him, and Harry had to move quickly to get out of the way. Several people were carrying in two more injured, and Harry felt his stomach drop as emotions rushed through him.

Tonks and Lupin.

The two guarding the door looked at one of the men carrying them. He shook his head, grimly.

The message was clear; they were dead.

Anger and guilt and sadness hit Harry hard.

His chest tightened uncomfortably, but he turned, nearly losing his footing, and forced himself to keep walking. He had to end this now. No one else would be hurt because of him; no one else would die. If only he had figured things out sooner, if he had done better, maybe they could have been saved…

His memories of them flashed through his mind with each step. Lupin’s words tugged at Harry’s heart: ‘I hope that you will be a part of his life in the future, as well as ours.’ Their son, Teddy… he would never know his parents…

Just before leaving the castle, Harry saw Neville and Luna. He was so consumed with the grief filling his thoughts that he probably wouldn’t have noticed them if they hadn’t been directly in his way. It seemed like they had stopped another Death Eater from getting into Hogwarts. The pair moved to the side to take cover until another enemy came along.

Harry was about to walk by them, intent on continuing to the forest, when a thought struck him. He quickly walked over to Luna, keeping the cloak on.

“Luna, it’s Harry,” he said quietly.

She and Neville, who had heard too since they were close together, jumped.

“Harry?” she whispered back.

“Did you get the diadem?”

“Yes, it is destroyed.”

“And Hermione- is she…?” he couldn’t get the words out. He was scared, terrified to ask. The sight of Tonks and Lupin was too fresh in his mind.

“Yes, she’s alright,” Luna answered. “I saw her just a minute ago.”

“Okay, listen,” Harry said, trying to keep his voice even and continue speaking normally as an intense feeling of relief washed over him, “you know Voldemort’s snake?”

“Yeah,” this time it was Neville who answered.

“Well, we’ve got to kill it. Hermione knows, but just in case…”

Words failed him. He couldn’t face the possibility that something would happen to her, knowing in minutes he would no longer be there to protect her.

“Kill the snake?” Neville guessed.

Harry nodded, but it went unseen under the cloak.

“Kill the snake,” Harry confirmed aloud.

“And look after Hermione,” he added in a rush.

“Why, where are you going? You’re not turning yourself in?” Neville asked, looking alarmed.

“No,” Harry lied, glad his face and expression were still hidden, “of course not. I just have something I have to do. I just wanted to make sure.”

“We’ll watch out for her, Harry,” Luna vowed.

A sense of gratitude toward both of them coursed through him; they had helped him and Hermione so much.

“Thanks,” he said, feeling the simple word was inadequate but not knowing what else to say.

Neville was about to speak, but as he opened his mouth a spell hit him without warning and he dropped to the ground. Luna was quick to react, her wand protecting the three of them as another jet of light streaked toward them.

“Go,” she whispered. “We will be alright.”

Harry wanted so much not to leave them to defend themselves, but he already saw others coming to their aid. Forcefully telling himself that they would be fine, he refocused on what he needed to do.

It was still dark as Harry stepped outside, but there was more visibly than before, signaling the approach of dawn.

To avoid the duels and fights taking place on the grounds, Harry had to keep close to the lake as he made his way to the forest. As he walked forward, his thoughts began to return to what he was about to do. He could feel his heart beating; it was strong and very much alive in his chest. More so than ever before, he was aware of everything he felt: how his legs moved with each step, how the ground felt beneath his shoes, the clothes on his back, the glasses resting on his nose. Draco’s wand was still in his hand.

Quickly his thoughts turned to those who had lost their lives: his parents long ago, Dumbledore, Sirius, Colin, Draco, Dobby, Snape, Tonks and Lupin, and possibly others lying in the Great Hall. He would be added to that list soon. Strangely, a sense of pride filled him as he thought of the others on the list. Most of them were Gryffindors and people he had come to respect.

He had never really known Colin or Dumbledore, but the others he had. His parents, though he didn’t remember them, were a part of him. Sirius, his godfather, seemed like a good man and had helped Harry feel connected to his parents. Draco, who for years had longed to be a Death Eater, had a change of heart when he was actually accepted and asked to do evil; in the end, he had died to help right his wrongs and end Voldemort.

Dobby, the house elf that had been his first friend, had also died bravely, saving him and Hermione. Harry had grown up disliking Snape more than most Death Eaters, but after seeing his memories, he wasn’t sure how to feel about the man. One thing he was sure of, though, was that Snape was an extremely brave man.

While they had lived with Tonks, Harry had grown to like her a lot. She was funny, clumsy, kind, a loyal member of the Order and often looked as though she had a bit of mischief up her sleeve. And she had just had her first child not long ago.

Losing Lupin was something that affected Harry deeply. In the months since his eyes had been opened to the truth, Lupin had become the closest thing Harry had ever remembered having to a father figure.

Soon he would join them.

Even sooner, he would be able to see and speak to his parents for the first time. He felt the snitch in his pocket, waiting impatiently to be opened.

“Harry, wait.”

Harry froze. Had it been anyone else’s voice, it might not have pulled him out of his thoughts, but he was much too aware of hers.

“Take off the cloak,” her voice requested quietly from somewhere behind him. With only a slight hesitation, he did as she asked, letting his father’s cloak fall to the ground.

She walked around him, coming to stand right in front of him.

“I’m not going to let you turn yourself in,” she told him firmly.

He could see the determination in her brown eyes, behind it only sadness.

“How did you find me?” Harry asked, avoiding her statement for the time being.

“Luna said she’d seen you. You left me the map.”

Her explanation was short and to the point, brisk, concise.

When he didn’t respond, wouldn’t look at her, he could almost feel her frustration.

“Harry, you can’t do this. It isn’t going to solve anything. We can-”

“I’m the last Horcrux.”

Hermione immediately stopped speaking, stopped breathing. A sharp intake of breath told him that she understood.

“There weren’t six Horcruxes; there were seven. Voldemort doesn’t know it, but he made another- accidentally… me.”

Silence hung in the air between them as the noise on the rest of the dark grounds seemed far away.

“No,” she whispered finally. “Harry, you- you can’t.”

Harry finally raised his eyes to look at her and instantly regretted doing so. Her eyes were filled with tears and her expression looked broken, desperate.

“I’m sorry,” Harry said, averting his eyes from her face again.

A second later she was hugging him tightly. His arms quickly wrapped around her and held her closer.

“I’ll go with you,” she whispered against him.

“No,” Harry said without hesitation, moving back to look at her. “You can’t. No one else is going to die for me. I need to believe that you are going to survive this. That you’re going to be happy and able to live without fear.”

They were quickly running out of time.

Harry could tell that she wanted to say something but was struggling with finding the right words.

“After all this time…” she started, a few tears now beginning to slip out and spill down her cheeks. “I- I can’t imagine not being with you- not seeing your eyes, hearing your voice…”

“Hermione…”

Harry took a breath to steady himself, feeling his pounding heartbeat speeding up in his chest as he fought to hold in his own emotions. His hands gripped her arms a bit tighter.

“Even if you can’t hear my voice, I’ll be right beside you, always.”

The promise in his words surprised her.

Her eyes held his intense gaze for several seconds before she leaned forward and kissed him, her lips firmly against his.

It was completely different than the first. Before, it had been hesitant, fleeting, and unsure; this time it was wholehearted, lasting, and full of meaning.

Harry responded to the kiss, one of his hands sliding up her arm to rest against her neck while the other wrapped around her back. He felt her hands, which had still been at his sides from their hug, slide around his back also, pulling him closer to her.

The emotions whirling around inside him and the things he was feeling from the kiss were enough to make him feel light-headed.

Much too soon, Harry forced himself to pull back, knowing their time was limited. Somehow he had managed to remember that there was a war going on around them while the girl in his arms took over his senses.

His bright green eyes took in her flushed face, trying to memorize every detail. When his eyes dropped to her lips involuntarily, he noticed that she looked a little breathless and dazed. A smile tugged at the corners of his lips, realizing that he probably looked similar or worse.

But as much as it hurt him, he knew this couldn’t last.

He had no choice; he had to leave her.

But in the end, hopefully it would save her.

Harry reminded himself that many other lives also depended on him, and that he didn’t have time for a long goodbye- he had to go.

His eyes looked into hers, and it hit him so strongly he almost couldn’t hold her gaze. What he felt for her was stronger than he had realized.

And how he would miss those eyes…

“I have to go,” Harry whispered, his tone laced with regret.

Hermione nodded, no longer trusting her voice.

“Don’t be afraid. You will be alright, and it will be over soon,” Harry told her, trying his hardest to keep his voice even.

He pulled her into his arms again, giving her a quick hug, before stepping back. Reaching down, he picked up his father’s cloak.

Their eyes met one last time before Harry turned and walked away. He couldn’t look back now; he knew that if he did, he might change his mind.

Watching him walk away was the most difficult thing Hermione had ever done. Tears flowed silently down her face as it really hit her that she would never see him again. For months they have been together almost constantly, and they had become so close…

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