[Fanfic] Out of Shadows – Chapter 37

Out of Shadows

CHAPTER 37

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_37

Once he was pretty far into the forest, Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out the golden snitch given to him by Dumbledore. Slowly, he raised the winged ball to his lips.

“I am about to die,” he whispered against the surface of the snitch.

When he brought it away from his face to examine it, the ball opened in his hands, revealing a small stone. Doing as Dumbledore had instructed, he turned it over in his hand three times.

He hadn’t really been expecting it to work. Maybe that was why a sense of shock filled him as he stood staring at his parents for the first time.

They were not real, not quite alive– of that he was sure. But they didn’t look like ghosts, either. Instead, they appeared to be somewhere between the two, but they were there and that was enough.

Four stood before him, but he hardly noticed the others at first.

Harry’s green eyes took in his mother’s appearance eagerly, trying to solidify her features into his memory as if he feared she would fade away. So many years he had longed to see his mother; speak with her, hear her advice, get to know her. She smiled at him, waiting until finally he looked into her eyes which so perfectly reflected his own to speak.

“Harry,” she said his name gently, “We’re so proud of you.”

Moisture instantly blurred his vision as he tried to keep his composure.

“But, I’ve- I’ve done so many horrible things… he came back because of me,” Harry protested, unable to believe that his mother could truly think that.

“You were forced to help them,” his father spoke up. He looked a lot like Harry, with messy hair and glasses. “We’re so sorry- about everything you’ve been through… but you’ve found your way.”

“You have become a wonderful man,” Lily told him. “You’re almost there.”

“What’s it like,” Harry asked suddenly, “being dead?”

James smiled.

“It’s not so bad when you’re with people you love,” he said, glancing at Lily fondly.

“Does it hurt?” the question seemed childish, especially after everything he had endured, but who wouldn’t wonder?

“Not a bit,” answered another voice that belonged to neither his father nor his mother. “I didn’t even realize what had happened ’til I saw James!”

Harry’s eyes found a grinning Sirius, who had answered. Next to him, was Remus; he had been so focused on his parents, whom he had never seen, that he hadn’t really noticed the others. Both were clearly younger than Harry had ever seen them, and they looked content, happy.

But Harry’s mind quickly turned to darker thoughts.

“Remus, your son…” Harry said in a strained voice. “I’m so sorry…”

He couldn’t help feeling responsible for the fact that Teddy would grow up not knowing his parents, just as he had.

“It is a shame, but he will know why we died, and I hope that someday he will understand. He will live in a safer world once this is over.” He paused for a moment before adding, “We named you his godfather.”

Harry’s head snapped up, his eyes quickly finding Lupin’s. No words came to him, and Remus continued.

“Dora and I agreed that you would be right for the job.”

At Harry’s stunned expression, the group laughed lightly.

“And of course, we made Hermione the godmother. With as well as the two of you work together, we really couldn’t see it any other way,” he explained, shooting Harry a meaningful look that made him feel sure he had missed something.

Pushing images of Hermione caring for a young Teddy, alone, and telling him stories about them out of his mind, Harry continued with difficulty.

“But now he won’t have me, either…” said Harry, his tone filled with regret.

“Don’t worry. Since Hermione is still so young, Andromeda will take care of Teddy. But I’m sure that Hermione will make sure he knows all about the three of us and the sacrifices we made.”

“They will be safe,” Lily assured him.

It was time to go, Harry could sense it. They were all looking at him, calm, supportive, expectant. He took a deep breath.

“Stay with me?”

For most of his life, he had grown up without support or comfort, but he felt he needed it now, in his last moments.

“We will,” said James.

“Will they see you?” Harry asked.

“Don’t worry, only you can see us,” said Sirius. “We’ll be right here.”

Harry nodded, trying to will his fears away and be brave.

Soon, I’ll be with them. It’s all I’ve ever wanted… to be with my parents, get to know them, to not feel so trapped…

His eyes found Lily’s and he stepped closer to her, between his parents. Harry pulled on his invisibility cloak, somehow knowing that the four of them would still know where he was.

They turned to walk with him as he numbly forced one foot in front of the other, heading deeper into the forest.

I can do this. Soon, it will all be over. They’ll beat him and then these people can live in peace. No one else will have to go through what I went through. No one else will have to die.

Hearing movement off to his right and ahead of where he was Harry froze, listening carefully. He sensed the others stop with him.

A man’s voice drifted through the trees toward them, but it was too distant for Harry to make out the words. Another voice answered from what Harry could hear, straining to focus on the sound. As the voices moved further away, Harry followed, guessing they would take him where he needed to go.

After following the voices for what felt like a very long time, the trees ahead began thinning considerably. There was a clearing, and Harry could see several dark figures. He crouched down slightly, peering at them from behind a large tree.

Death Eaters.

So Voldemort had chosen this alcove to hide and wait?

“The hour is nearly up,” one of the Death Eaters said, sounding nervous.

“I had hoped he would come, but it seems… I was wrong,” Voldemort’s chilling voice answered. “He is more of a coward than I anticipated.”

At this, the small group of Death Eaters laughed cautiously.

Harry stood, gently letting the Resurrection Stone slip through his fingers, knowing that they would still be with him. Hastily, he pulled off the cloak and stuffed it under his clothes, wanting to keep it close. Taking a few strides forward, Harry spoke.

“I’m not a coward!” he said, putting as much courage and defiance into his voice as he could muster.

Every head in the clearing turned to look at him, but Harry saw only Voldemort. Cruel, angry red eyes found him, and the Dark Lord’s lips curled into a smirk.

“Harry Potter,” he said, looking at Harry curiously.

Everything in the forest seemed to still, waiting with a sense of immense tension to see what would happen next.

Voldemort raised his wand toward Harry, who stood defenseless in front of him. In the face of death, Harry’s thoughts quickly jumped to Hermione: her voice, her smile, her eyes…

Voldemort spoke the curse, but the words sounded distant in Harry’s ears, as if his senses had already begun to fade. A jet of green light flew at him, and in the last second, he closed his eyes, ready to accept his fate.

Gradually, a sense of weightlessness left him and the heaviness and awareness of every sore muscle, every fatigued limb, returned. Opening his eyes, Harry found himself surrounded by fog. Looking around, he saw that he was standing on some sort of platform, and to his right and left were stairs. It looked similar to the Grand Staircase in Hogwarts, except none of the staircases were moving and everything looked misty and light.

The path to his right led upward, with a destination he could not see through all of the fog. It was the same to his left, but the steps led down.

Harry was confused only a moment before he inexplicably knew what two paths lay before him. And when he looked back up to the right, he saw his parents waiting partway up the stairs. They smiled at him warmly, welcoming him, inviting him to join them. Just behind his parents, he noticed Lupin and Sirius, then Tonks, and Dobby next to them, short and waving, his bat-like ears wobbling slightly.

The corners of his lips rose in response to seeing them; they were content, and he knew he could be, too, if he joined them.

Without much thought, he glanced to the left, but down the staircase, he saw nothing but fog. His eyes lingered, as if waiting for something or someone to appear, but nothing did.

He looked back to his parents and the others, waiting for him. It was all he had ever wanted: to be reunited with his parents, to get to know them, to be free from the people and prophecy that had imprisoned him his entire life.

The scene of visiting his parents’ grave entered his mind, and he closed his eyes to the light. With surprising detail and clarity, he could still picture Hermione in that moment: her nose and cheeks tinted red, a light dusting of snow in her hair, brown eyes full of emotion.

He could see her reaching her hand out to him, as she had done so many times in the past months, offering her guidance, her support, her courage to him willingly.

But when he opened his eyes, she wasn’t there. The group to the right was still waiting for him, patient and smiling, but to the left, there was still just a staircase, leading down into the fog.

Somehow Harry knew that once he chose his path, once he set foot on one of the staircases, there would be no turning back. As he felt the shift in his weight and lifted his second foot, he knew he wouldn’t even if he could.

Hesitant footsteps approached, snapping twigs and rustling long-forgotten leaves.

Harry froze. He had no time to come up with a plan or react, so he lay there silently, hoping that somehow he wouldn’t be found out. Cool, mossy ground pressed into his cheek, pushing his glasses askew.

Despite his efforts to calm his body, his heart was pounding defiantly in his chest. Surely if they checked for a pulse, they would find one; it was now all Harry could hear, all he could feel.

He sensed someone leaning down over him. A cold hand touched his neck, pressed in, and then pulled back, hesitating.

“Is Draco alive?” a voice whispered so quietly he wasn’t sure he’d heard it properly.

Harry’s heart was hammering in his chest; it was Draco’s mother. What could he say?

“His last words,” Harry breathed out, “were ‘beat him’.”

Please, let her understand. Let that be enough. He wanted to see Voldemort defeated in the end. Please believe me.

For several long, silent seconds, Harry could do nothing but hope that she would decide not to reveal him.

Mrs. Malfoy moved away from him slowly, standing up next to his limp form.

“Dead,” was all she said, and Harry could scarcely notice the hint of pain in her voice. A moment later, he knew none of the Death Eaters would detect it as a small cheer rose up from behind where Harry lay.

“You see,” Voldemort’s triumphant voice rang out in the quiet forest and in Harry’s ears, “no one can match the power of Lord Voldemort. Harry Potter got lucky once, but now that wrong has been set right. Now he is dead and no one will ever again question my power!”

There were several cheers from the Death Eaters who had remained with Voldemort as the others fought.

An odd sensation filled Harry’s body, one with which he was sickeningly familiar. It had been a while since he had been punished this severely, and months away from the cruelty had pushed it from his mind. But his body did not forget, and he immediately knew what was happening.

Half a second later, pain flooded his senses and he had to fight not to make a sound. He was not surprised; he hadn’t expected them to leave his body untouched. Laughter and voices reached his ears, but the sounds were distant and unimportant as he focused on keeping up the lie, wondering what they would do next.

They’ll take me to Hogwarts to show everyone I’m dead, but will they stop fighting then?

The pain Harry felt subsided slightly and his prediction came true.

“For months there have been rumors, whisperings, that he was the one who could defeat me… I think Hogwarts needs to see its great hero now,” Voldemort announced.

“Carry him until we reach the path,” Voldemort instructed, “then we can drag him.”

Harry wanted desperately to see who was to carry him, worrying that they would realize that he was not as dead as they thought. Hands lifted him, and Harry tried desperately to remain still and limp, his mind screaming at him that he was far too alive, too warm, for them not to notice.

But whoever it was said nothing. Two sets of hands where carrying him, by his legs and his upper body, but he couldn’t tell who. Now he regretted paying not attention to which Death Eaters were in the clearing with Voldemort when he had thought he was going to die.

They must have reached the path because they dropped Harry to the ground. A rope was tied roughly around his ankles as Harry lie still on his back, his eyes closed.

“Fix his glasses,” he heard Voldemort say impatiently. “He needs to be recognizable when we reach the castle.”

Harry felt someone adjust his glasses, which had nearly fallen off at this point, and waited. With a tug, Harry began to slide along the ground, the ropes digging into his ankles. The path was smooth for a forest floor, but a few painful roots and fallen branches kept Harry alert and focused on staying quiet.

Sensing the change in the air around him, Harry could tell the moment they reached the edge of the forest. Even with his eyes shut, he knew it was still dark out, though it seemed lighter than before, as though dawn was quickly approaching.

Slowly sounds of dueling grew louder as they approached the castle. The small group paused, and Harry felt an odd sensation run through his body. It took him a few moments to realize that he was being lifted into the air, levitated by one of the Death Eaters present. With a concentrated effort, Harry kept himself limp as he floated along, glad at least that the pain constricting his ankles had somewhat subsided.

“Defenders of Hogwarts!” the shout of Voldemort’s cold voice rang in Harry’s ears. “I have heard the rumors…,” Voldemort continued, “talk of a mere boy being able to defeat me. Now I bring you proof that this is false. I am unbeatable!”

The background noise of fighting was now rapidly quieting down. In his mind’s eye Harry could almost picture witches and wizards pausing in their duels and pouring out onto the front steps of the castle to see what was going on.

Harry could feel more and more eyes on him, and he became more nervous that he would somehow give himself away. A bead of sweat slid slowly down the back of his neck, and he was hyperaware of everything his body felt, from his pounding heart to noticing that his ankles were still sore from where they had been previously bound.

“Harry Potter is dead!” Voldemort shouted.

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