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Chapter 1 : Deep Thoughts and Shadows
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Neighbors peeked from behind their windows into the darkening sky. They watched the lonely teenager walk down the street. They didn’t trust him. Not from his fly-away hair to the ratty trainers he wore. They sided with Petunia when she talked about how awful the boy was, how he was ungrateful and in trouble all the time. He was so bad that they had had no choice but to send him to a special school dealing with hoodlums, in an attempt to make him a useful citizen of society. Just to look at him proved they were right to believe him to be the worst hoodlum ever to have crossed anyone’s path.
It didn’t matter to him, though, what they thought. He barely glanced at their jewel-tinted windows anymore. He was nearly free of Privet Drive and he suspected that he would be far happier than his relatives to leave this place.
He caught one neighbor quickly dropping their drapes as he passed by their house. He couldn’t wait for the next couple days to pass. He wouldn’t return here, ever. He smiled wryly when he considered that perhaps after he had dealt with Voldemort, he could come back. After all, there was a whole vault of riches and he could certainly make himself more than presentable. People in the wizarding world certainly appreciated the rich more than the others, and he had the feeling it was the same in the Muggle world. He chuckled softly as he shook his head at the idle thought. It wouldn’t work, but it was great to think about.
He had slipped away instead of listening to Ron and Hermione bicker yet again about the television and its programs. Ron was completely agog at the moving pictures and kept insisting it was magic. Hermione countered each time trying to explain about how a television worked. Then again, Ron was more interested in the commercials instead of the actual shows. He changed the channels just to keep watching the commercials while Dudley bawled because he couldn’t watch his favorite shows.
If Ron and Hermione weren’t arguing about the television, it was nearly always about studying. Hermione felt they should be studying every minute of every day given they weren’t returning to Hogwarts and none of them knew exactly what they needed to know how to find, let alone destroy, a Horcrux. They only had his experiences with two Horcruxes to guide them. One was completely by accident and the other wasn’t really a Horcrux.
He sat on the swing that someone had fixed in spite of Dudley. He pushed himself back and forth slowly with his foot as he lost himself in thought. His hand rested near his wand, just in case a Death Eater happened to jump out of the bushes, intent on taking him to Voldemort. He had no doubts that they were lurking and waiting for him to lower his guard. After all, Voldemort would only have to keep him for a couple more days and then kill him. It was just another happy thought to keep him company.
His thoughts turned to Ginny. He missed her horribly and he needed to talk with her. Perhaps she would have some advice… But he couldn’t write to her or talk to her. He couldn’t trust himself to not beg her to be her boyfriend again. If he did, she wouldn’t be safe and she had to be safe. He needed her to be safe. He rubbed the back of his neck. Chills ran through him just thinking about Voldemort using her again just because he cared deeply for her. He didn’t want to chance that Voldemort would discover exactly how much Ginny meant to him. He didn’t want to lose Ginny because he didn’t think he could survive losing her. He could only hope she understood and would wait, but how would he keep his resolve to remain away from her while at the Burrow? Neither of them would be able to stay away from each other. The more he thought of Ginny, the more uncomfortable he got.
He turned his thoughts deliberately to the reason he broke up with her. The Horcruxes Voldemort had created, and more specifically, the diary. The very first Horcrux Voldemort had made. The same one he had destroyed with a Basilisk’s fang when he’d been in his second year. A complete accident because he didn’t know it was a Horcrux. Professor Dumbledore hadn’t known that Voldemort had made it a Horcrux until after being told what Voldemort had said in the graveyard. Or if he had known, he had kept silent about it. Certainly he had thought it more than a little odd how it had worked.
Then there was Slytherin’s ring. Professor Dumbledore had discovered where Voldemort had hidden it and had destroyed it. He remembered Professor Dumbledore wearing it on his finger when he had picked him up to take him to meet Professor Slughorn and then continue to the Burrow. He had asked Professor Dumbledore what had happened to his hand but he had declined to answer at that time, wanting to give the story a good telling. Harry sighed. He hadn’t asked Professor Dumbledore again and now the story was lost.
Another Horcrux was Slytherin’s locket. The memory of what they had gone through caused him to frown severely. Professor Dumbledore had discovered where it was hidden, but neither of them could have known someone else had gotten to it first with the intent to destroy the locket themselves. The only bright spot in the fiasco was that Professor Dumbledore had died believing they had gotten the Horcrux. Now all Harry had was a fake locket that Hermione had locked in his desk so that none of the Dursleys could touch either it or the note. He didn’t know anyone by the initials RAB. Hermione hadn’t even been able to find the smallest whisper of anyone going by those initials.
Yet another Horcrux was Hufflepuff’s cup.
Something of Ravenclaw’s or Gryffindor’s – though Professor Dumbledore had been certain all Gryffindor’s relics were safe. He remembered Professor Dumbledore glancing at both the sword and the Sorting Hat when he mentioned the relics’ safety.
Finally, the last Horcrux, Nagini, Voldemort’s snake. He sighed slowly. They had decided it would have to be the last Horcrux. Otherwise Voldemort would know that others knew of the Horcruxes and their intentions to destroy them. Voldemort would then move the remaining Horcruxes to unknown locations. Perhaps would even make new ones. Though how many times could one divide their soul and live?
As it was, he only knew of a few places they could be hidden. Professor Dumbledore had kept stressing that Voldemort would have them hidden in places that meant something to him. He’d talked with Ron and Hermione about every little detail. They worried apart every little thing until they also knew Voldemort’s life story as well as he did. He chuckled to himself.
His thoughts turned to Professor Dumbledore. Had Professor Dumbledore known that he was going to die that night? It had seemed odd that he had made him promise to do what he said without bickering. Or was Snape supposed to have healed Professor Dumbledore instead of killing him? He paused as he fought to keep control. Again, he didn’t know the answer. It didn’t matter how many times he replayed Professor Dumbledore’s last moments in his head, he still didn’t see any way for Professor Dumbledore to have been healed once Draco had entered the tower room. Professor Dumbledore had even spent the precious time left to him trying to convince Draco to leave Voldemort’s service. Whatever decision Draco had made was changed when the other Death Eaters charged into the room.
He frowned as he considered Draco’s actions. It had taken awhile for him to think about that night without wanting to hex Snape and Draco. Only a few days back had he been able to consider what happened that night and try to understand what happened. He couldn’t help but feel a very small bit of concern for Draco. His father was a Death Eater who was currently residing in Azkaban. His nearest relatives, barring Sirius, were Death Eaters. He showed every sign of following in his father’s footsteps, but when it came right down to it, Draco couldn’t kill someone he knew. He had disarmed Professor Dumbledore but didn’t kill him. Not that he felt too sorry for Draco because he was cruel and mean. He rubbed his neck again. It seemed there was a small bit of decency hidden deep inside Draco. Something at odds with what he knew of him. Was it really possible that Voldemort was forcing Draco to serve him? Professor Dumbledore had not only offered to hide Draco, but also had offered to hide Draco’s mum. Could Voldemort be holding Draco’s mum hostage? Yet a snippet of what Dobby had told him years earlier drifted into his mind. Hadn’t he said something about his masters? Was it possible that Draco’s mum was a Death Eater? He was fairly certain she hadn’t been at Voldemort’s rebirth while Lucius Malfoy had been there.
The one thing he couldn’t get over was the trust Professor Dumbledore had in Snape. Professor Dumbledore had pleaded with Snape but Snape killed Professor Dumbledore. He rubbed his neck again. Professor Lupin had expressed his utter disbelief as to why Professor Dumbledore trusted Snape. Everyone knew that Snape and his dad hated each other. No one who knew of their hatred for each other could understand why Snape would have felt sorry for causing his parents’ deaths. Harry grimaced. Perhaps Snape felt a bit sorry for causing his mum’s death, but never his dad’s. He just couldn’t see Snape saying sorry about that.
He rubbed his neck again as he thought again about Professor Dumbledore’s reason as to why he trusted Snape. There had to have been another reason. One that was more realistic. Was Professor Dumbledore trying to make Snape not seem so evil? Was he trying to get Harry to trust Snape by telling him that Snape didn’t mean for his parents to die? Again, why?
He shivered slightly. His neck still prickled uncomfortably. Why did Professor Dumbledore want him to be at peace with Snape? It didn’t seem likely. Not from his perspective and certainly not from Snape’s. He scowled. It didn’t matter what he thought about Snape. He’d make certain that Professor Dumbledore was avenged.
He sighed when his thoughts turned back to Ginny. Darkness had fallen and Dudley’s gang had passed by. He stood and began walking back home. It was only because Ron and Hermione were there allowed him the freedom to move about as he wished. So now he could come home after Dudley, though Aunt Petunia would look wild eyed, certain that he was up to no good while Uncle Vernon would mutter under his breath about ungrateful whelps.
He slipped inside and locked the door behind him. He had been out later than he had thought. Even Aunt Petunia had finished wiping down the kitchen and had gone upstairs to bed. He made his way quietly up the stairs and peeked into his room. Ron was already asleep. He shook his head and settled into bed for the night.
Only after Harry had left the swing for some time did a person step out from the shadows. The pale blond-haired man with gray eyes considered the swing Harry had sat on for a long moment. What had he been thinking about? Did he suspect that he was about? And how had he known that he’d become a Death Eater? Snape had warned him repeatedly to be more cautious because of Potter’s suspicion. Apparently Potter had told Dumbledore who in turn told Snape about the suspicion. He thought he had been careful to hide the Dark Mark. Finally, he shook his head and moved from the darkened park. There were more important things he needed to do than to worry about Potter. No matter how irritating Potter could be.
Only when the young man was well away from Privet Drive did he stop. He looked around, making sure there were no Muggles before Disapparating. Normally, he wouldn’t care about Muggles, but for right now he didn’t want distraught Muggles gaining the Ministry’s attention. Their attention would make it harder for him to move about. He especially didn’t want their attention here where Potter lived. His father had told him just before their Second Year that the only wizard who lived in Little Whinging was Potter. Therefore, any magic done had to have been done by him, especially if it were near Privet Drive. Only now Potter wasn’t the only wizard because his friends, Weasley and Granger, had decided to spend the summer with him. They were of-age and able to use magic outside of school, just like he was. He disappeared with a loud crack.
He appeared just inside a forest. He looked around at the old trees. He remained silent even though he wanted desperately to laugh at how Potter lived. Potter, the great Potter, had to live with filthy Muggles. He couldn’t blame Potter for seeking places away from the Muggle stench.
He sneered; he was finally free of his once-Potions Master – he finally convinced that rat to let him go. It was easy convincing the rat that he only wanted to look at his wand. He took a deep breath. That would be the other reason he didn’t want the Ministry’s attention. For the first time since the whole debacle in June, he was free. He had to think carefully what he would do. There was too much at stake for him to make a mistake now. A smile grew on his face slowly before he disappeared with another crack.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this chapter. I began writing this story before “Deathly Hallows” was released and now it has become part of the Alternate Universe. However, I’m trying to keep the characters as close to canon as possible.
Thank you very much for your constructive criticism!
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