Chapter 1 : Darkened shadows
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Title: Darkened Shadows
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Rating: PG-13 (of course that’s liable to fluctuate with my mind… damn *tainted* innocence)
Disclaimer: On the off chance that you required confirmation, I do not own anything out of the HP world. I’m just a humble fan fic writer so there’s no point if you’re considering suing.
A/n: *Cringes* Damnit- I do usually make it a rule not to cliché in a fic, I absolutely hate doing so, but of course this is going to be an exception to that self-imposed rule. In this fic I’m going to be heading down the oh-so well worn route of ‘Hermione the adopted secret Slytherin’. To elaborate, that is to say this will be the kind of story where Hermione turns out to have been adopted and really is the product of Slytherin death-eaters and is thus really a pureblood who is in turn expected to produce a child for Voldy with her betrothed Draco Malfoy. Okay so I’m certainly going to vary that idea, but it is the basic concept. Now I realise it is hardly an original idea but I’m hoping that, like most of us, I can put my own unique spin on things.
I have seen a number of fics of this plot line, and the quality of many of them has *forced* me to write my own. Now I’m not saying that there aren’t any good, or indeed excellent, ones, however there are a number that seem very…sketchy. I don’t want to sound like a know it all who thinks he can do better, but a number are fault ridden, often with the same *blunders*. Often Hermione is far too complacent about it all, and will switch sides at the drop of a hat, or Draco falls madly in love with her because she’s now a ‘pureblood’ (and I blame him for the hurried plot… many writers are just trying to get some Hr/D interaction going).
Anyway time to stop babbling and actually have some solid fiction to back up my gripes and moans… and hopefully not turn out to be a complete hypocrite. With any luck the fact that I’ve written this will mean I will not repeat past mistakes… oh well time to see
Prologue: Headmasters Musings
The eyes of Albus Dumbledore slowly, dutifully rose as the cold, brisk, metallic chime entered his darkened office. Like a reaper to the corn, it cut through the silence of the room with all the ease of a hot knife through butter, carelessly discarding the sheath of morbid tranquillity that had occupied it moments before.
His gaze continued to tenaciously ascend until finally it rested upon the source of the noise, and also the disturber of his deep stupor. Suitably woken from his deep thoughts he fixed his full attention on the clock that haughtily ordained itself on one of the walls of his spacious office.
The clock was indeed a sight to behold. Its casing was made of a number of rare metals, its inner workings an intricate complexity, its numerals elaborately scripted and its sculpted hands interlaced with precious gems. The clock in essence was the life work of a master clockmaker and a suitable monument to Father Time himself, that very fact made it look quite out of place in the headmaster’s office.
It was a gift from a certain rather wealthy family of one of the houses, given to the school on graduation of one of their lineage a fair few years back. Despite that the timepiece still seemed to be in pristine condition, unmarred and unspoilt by the sands of time, but that was undoubtedly due to a charm that had in all likeliness been put on it. The very fact that it was a gift from *that* time had ensured its place in the room, mostly because of the volatile political situation at the time, the beginnings of the descendant of the darkness, and the need to specifically please prominent members of *that* house. However it would never really be completely assimilated into the room of a Gryffindor, much less the organised mess of a ‘work space’ that was deemed the ‘office’ of Albus Dumbledore.
At first glance the mass of books, quills, and sheets of paper might have made the owner of the room out to be just a little more than slightly disorganised. However someone with the opportunity to see scarcely more than a glimpse of his work-quarters would certainly have their opinion changed on that score. Strewn amongst the official items, that were *bound* to belong to an important man, were far less… standard ones.
Owl treats littered the room in a concentrated manner, more sparsely accompanied by, as many students secretly suspected, a product of the owls digestive system… however that trail of thought was more often dismissed by the pondering of who would let *that* substance rest on official Ministry of Magic letters. There was an assortment of other questionable objects and beings also, the game of Wizards Chess that stuck precariously out supporting a column of tomes, threatening to disengage itself from the pile at any given moment. There were several different editions of wizarding snap that littered the room in a more violent manner, no doubt the result of a number of rather heated games, although the identity of the other player was highly questionable. There was also the elusive sorting hat which had made its home somewhere amongst the chaos. There was too the mysterious phoenix, Fawkes, who currently was anything but, as he resembled a look that was little more than death warmed up, the age old cycle of his kind plainly at work.
There were a number of other indistinguishable odds and ends, woolly socks and lemon sherbets, chocolate frogs and, interestingly enough, a grow your own warts kit. Apparently more than a healthy amount of the room was a shrine to Honeyduke’s itself, and most of the rest to Zonko's.
As it was said though, the uses and origins of many remained forever a secret, swallowed and buried in the disarray. Many were forever destined to be perceived merely as trinkets from the wizarding world; although it was suspect that an almost equal proportion was muggle in origin… the headmaster was hardly one to distinguish personal preference between the two.
Things like that were not worthy of any concern at the moment though, trivial in comparison in fact. If the most that Albus Dumbledore had to worry about in the whole world was the state of his office, his heart would be a much lighter place, and his soul a much more joyful chamber. If all Dumbledore had to do was attend the odd Quiditch and meaningless social functions, then his life would be very different.
However Dumbledore was no ordinary wizard, content to bumble through life in some insignificant role, in a wasted existence like many of his peers. No he’d decided that he was going to make a difference in the wizarding world long ago, to help, to aid, to revolutionise it, and that was his life. He’d achieved his aims too, for he was no front man, controlled like a puppet on strings by someone secreted away in the darkness above him. If anything he *was* the puppeteer, for he was, in effect, the man who had brought the wizarding through the good and bad times, kicking and screaming, out of the darkness and into the light.
He and barely a few trusted others has prevailed at a time when the ministry was all but broken, and thus the wizarding world at its knees, the ‘powerful’ cabinet in disorder and confusion, the heads of it all but ready to surrender themselves into the ranks of servitude of the dark lord, like oh-so many wizards and witches had done previously. He was one of the main reasons for the wizarding world being how it was today, and he was certainly *the* reason that Hogwarts had not fallen apart in those times. No he’d devoted himself whole-heartedly to the idea that Hogwarts would be a safe haven from the darkness, a sanctuary. He’d ensured that there was something constant and normal in the lives of the youth of that era, well a constant and as normal as could be.
His position had required decisions, the privilege and curse of being a leader, and of course each decision had amassed consequences, some big, some small, some weighty, some light- but all had consequences. From deciding where to attack and where to defend to having exactly 7 sugar lumps in his tea, consequences had been the result of every action he’d had undertaken, whether or not they were all together clear. That was the reason for tonight, consequences of actions, actions that had been undertaken almost 17 years previous.
The clock despite its rather eye-catching appearance was in fact a simple timepiece. It chimed every quarter of an hour, chiming multiple times, if appropriate, at the hour mark. The chime that Dumbledore had heard moments before had been that foretelling the approaching of the upcoming hour (i.e. the ‘quarter to’ point). Although the inanimate object couldn’t realise it, the chime was to be perhaps the final prelude to one of the most fateful days in recent times for the wizarding world. When the clock struck next, and announced the dawn of the new day, whilst sealing the end of the old one, it would also be proclaiming the start of a series of events that would irreversibly change the balance of the scales between good and evil. Battle lines would have to be redrawn, depending on who she chose to follow in the aftermath of it all.
Reflexively he withdrew his gaze from *that* clock, in favour of his other, the one that was usually a better source of comfort for him. The ‘other’ clock was the type used by countless wizarding families, it told him where he was or what he was doing- or rather where or what he *should* be doing. Usually it was a pleasant to look at because it reflected his seemingly ever present merry humour, today however that was not to be the case. Currently the hand was almost pointing at the ominous words “All Hell Breaks Loose”, teetering on the edge of the words in anticipation. Now this might have seemed humorous to a casual outside observer but not to Dumbledore for he knew better, he knew different, he knew how true those words could turn out to be.
Months ago the clock had sprung up with the words ‘Tell Her’ and his inner doubts had resurfaced as they had been rekindled. He’d considered doing just that more than a number of times; it seemed so easy after all. A few words and a lot of persuasion, it shouldn’t have been a problem for the headmaster of Hogwarts… but it was and so he ended up keeping his vow of silence, and all because her possible reactions scared him.
There weren’t many things that could scare a man who had seen as much as he had, this was one of a precious few number of exceptions. The reason he was worried, scared, was because if her reaction was ultimately a negative one, then it would be his fault, for he’d personally decided her fate all those years ago. At the very least the news could cause a loss of trust between her and him. At most it could force her over to their side, divide the trio and cause Harry and Ron to lose all faith in their headmaster, and possibly in fighting for him, for the side of good. Deceiving her was also to deceive them, and they too would feel hurt because she would be hurting, and angry at him for hurting her so.
Telling her sooner had not been a viable option, years ago she was too young for the news, and besides, he wanted her to see the good side in all its glory, for undoubtedly *they* would completely warp her view of it otherwise. At least by seeing how evil the dark side could be she would not be so blinded by their promises of *love* and acceptance… both of which she’d crave after the news, that would be a natural human response. She’d visit them for the answers, the validation, the corroboration that he couldn’t give her… and he’d just have to pray that she turned her back on them instead of him.
Hope was something he often told others to have, but it was easy to advise those who all too often didn’t have the full picture anyway, much harder to follow your own advice when you knew exactly what the chances were. Blind faith was a truly wonderful benediction… it was a pity Albus was far too aware of things to be able to have it, naivety is its own sweet blessing.
There was no point to continually muse over the situation though, for it was far too late to change things, he’d decided not to act and that was that. As a leader he’d have to stick by his convictions, his beliefs, his decisions; or he should have relinquished the title years ago.
Lost in his thoughts Dumbledore failed to notice that five minutes had all too slyly ticked by on the clock, with all the stealth of the Slytherin house, which in itself wasn’t all too surprising.
To say he wondered about the scene that would play out the next day would be wrong, he practically *knew* how it would. If he wasn’t already over familiar with Voldemort’s style then the ambiguous comments that Severus had thrown his way had confirmed his ideas over exactly what would happen. He could quite plainly see it in his minds eye; and it took scarcely little effort to conjure, which was frightening in itself.
It would certainly happen in the morning during the breakfast meal, along with the usual owl post, it’d arrive. The bird that would be dispatched with the letter would of course be a falcon, no doubt a descendant of those that were used by the wizarding royal families centuries ago, who like their muggle counterparts preferred them to other birds; the purebloods of the bird world in essence.
The bird would grace the Great Hall either during the time-honoured morning post, or slightly afterwards so as to be fashionably late. It would be immediately acknowledged by people, not only because it would look startling and elegant and completely out of place, but because it had been bred to be noticed. Voldemort wasn’t going to be secretive about this, no he was going to be as showy as possible- if only because it would provide further enticement later for her to join his side.
The first to table to go completely silent other than the teachers’ would undoubtedly be the Slytherin. Many would realise almost as soon as the bird entered the room that its kind were solely used by the dark lord and his avid, public, supporters. The rest would follow the silence of their peers, their betters, out of obedience towards them- it was the Slytherin code after all. The rest of the hall would rather quickly be subdued into a hush, some whispers would go around to spread the news and everyone would look at the bird with undisguised curiosity. The only exception would be her.
She would be sitting there like she usually did with a book supported in one hand, and a piece of toast in the other, half listening to her two companion’s idle chatter. He’d noticed this set-up since the beginning of term, when he’d been ‘reminded’ about her and had his interest renewed in her. She would be the last to see the majestic bird, for she’d be a world away from the hall and all its banter, locked away in the dusty tome that she’d predictably be holding in her delicate hand. It would be a fair few seconds after the silence had first descended upon the room before she’d look up, finally realising her friends had desisted in their conversation. It would be then that the falcon would descend, when it was sure it had *everyone’s* attention, especially the recipient of the letter it had been sent to deliver. With refined elegance and mastered grace it would swoop down at her table, coming to a dead stop in front of where she sat, its eyes intently upon her, waiting for her move.
She’d look shocked at it, then glance around, looking for who it belonged to, modesty refusing to let her believe it was for her. Eventually though it would become undeniable and with flushed cheeks she’d cautiously reach out for the parchment bound to the bird’s leg. Carefully she’d unbind it from its holding and unfold the scroll, the crackling resounding around the humongous hall like the boom of summer night thunder. Then, with the whole room watching her intently, she’d begin to read…
That was as far as he knew, what happened next would be impossible to ascertain, although Dumbledore had already made the intelligent guesses. The only sureness in all this that he had would be that the outcome would change the lives of many, even if it only shaped the life of one.
Five more minutes had passed, although this time they had not gone completely unnoticed, subconsciously Dumbledore could feel the hour approaching.
Briefly he considered which members of the faculty would be watching with bated breath like himself at the dinner table that morning. Serveus would certainly, for despite the lack of verbal confirmation from him, Dumbledore had the gut feeling that he knew- and Dumbledore always listened to his gut feeling, it was a Gryffindor trait after all. After what would be his 7th year of teaching her how could he not have noticed the truth that was so glaringly obvious. How could he not have noticed her looks or her natural aptitude in specifically his subject. How could he not have placed her laugh as the mirror image of her mothers, or her infamous temper as that of her fathers. He couldn’t have ignored her eyes that were an almost identical reflection of her mothers when they flashed with anger, or the scowl that was the epitome of her fathers when house-points were being deducted from Gryffindor. Really it was quite impossible that Serveus Snape could not have realised that his Goddaughter was at Hogwarts.
Yes that would certainly come as a shock to her, Severus Snape her Godfather, it was ludicrous. Although it certainly balanced the universe, the child of the light had Sirius Black and the child of darkness had Severus Snape… the Gods must have devised this arrangement for it seemed a class of cruel humour that only they were capable of.
McGonagall probably knew if her recent fussing of the child in question was anything to go by. If anyone else was likely to pick up on the true identity of the adolescent witch it would surely be the Gryffindor head. After all she’d been his companion on that night all those years back, when they’d delivered her to the muggle orphanage, the night when the dark side fell. McGonagall was one of the few he could trust in such times, one of the few who would share his compassion and concern for the young infant, who would not kill or discriminate against the newborn because of its parentage. Together they’d gone to that place and left her in the care of the muggles, it seemed the best option at the time, it seemed the only way that she’d live any longer than a few hours, which surely would have been the case if left in the wizarding world. The irony that both a child of the light and a child of the darkness had become orphans on the very same night, and had made the exodus into the muggle world was not lost on Dumbledore… it made him want to chuckle.
Dumbledore had no idea how much Voldemort knew on the matter; if he knew who the child was and had done so for years, or if he didn’t even know whether she was still alive. His sources had revealed nothing and he had been too respectful than to ask Severus, for not only was he a co-worker and spy for Dumbledore, he was also a confidant and close friend. None of the wards or charms placed on her had ever been breached or even attempted to be broken, but that meant nothing. All too easily Voldemort could have found a chink in anyone of the spells placed upon her, despite the fact that Dumbledore had performed them himself even though they were not his area of expertise.
Of course Voldemort could have decided to bide his time and wait for her 17th birthday, the night when all spells placed upon her would be temporarily broken, as she made the transition from adolescence to adulthood. He’d probably decided to wait till now just so he could show Albus the extent of his power of persuasion, of just how much better he was than him. He probably knew too that the child would have gone to a muggle family instead of a wizarding one; he probably liked the idea as well, just so that when she learnt she was part of the ‘elite’ group of ‘purebloods’ after years of being taunted with cries of ‘mudblood’, she’d feel an even greater pull over to their side.
Whether she’d go over to his side was impossible to determine. She’d shown loyalty to the good side in her caring and compassionate nature; it wasn’t merely grades that had made her head-girl. She had shown disgust towards the dark side and all that it stood for, but that meant nothing when it came down to it. She had power, a tremendous amount in fact, more than any witch at her age should have, even more than many of the adults did. Because she was powerful, she’d have a thirst for it, to improve her abilities, to hone and perfect them; a thirst the dark side would be more than willing to quench. She’d be praised for her power, respected and feared because of what she could do, and admired because of her determination to improve them, instead of mocked.
She’d fought for the good side on a number of occasions, and it had been only down to her that on several of these instances that young Mr. Potter ad not left her life. However this in itself was rather frightening. The day when very dark magic had been unleashed during a duelling tournament, albeit accidentally, had not been forgotten by any of the staff, even if the students could barely remember. Even the DADA professor hadn’t known the correct counter-curse off the top of his head, much less the familiarity with it to be able to use, but she did. Several students could have died that day when that entity was released, but because of her they lived, not that they knew the danger they had faced, nor was it likely they would ever.
There was also the incident with the deatheater; the curse she’d hurled at him was truly unbelievable. He’d had to inflict her mind with a very powerful memory charm, lest the ministry discover what she had done. To do that to deatheater required you to be Auror, and a bloody good one at that. If they’d found out it had been her and it had been anyone but a deatheater then she’d be dead herself, self defence or not, it was in the same league as they unforgivables.
The clock struck through the room as it had done fifth-teen minutes before, coldly and briskly. Dumbledore realised he’d been mouthing the seconds as he had subconsciously counted down that last minute, and it caused him to laugh, not there was any joy in his voice. It was a mirthless laugh that he let out as he realised what the other significance of the date was. Not only would it be the date that would decide if Hermoine Granger was to begin her descent into the darkness, but it was also the anniversary of the first rising of a certain dark lord.
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