Chapter 1 : Where Dark is Light and Light is Dark
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Harry twitched the Invisibility Cloak to make sure he was completely covered, blinking furiously.
The wizarding world had gone downhill since the death of Albus Dumbledore. Two years had passed and Harry was attending the fourth funeral for someone he knew well – now, Arthur Weasley.
Ginny was at the front, next to her mother. Harry tried hard not to look at her. Since they had gone their separate ways in 1997, he had only seen her at the funerals, and every time no-one had known he was there.
Ron had been captured within a few months on their hunt to track down the Horcruxes – he had given the other two the slip in order to see his brother Percy’s funeral. Hermione had vanished shortly afterwards when they had split up in their attempt to break Ron out. Since then Harry had been on his own, desperate to find and destroy the Horcruxes and end the war before anyone else died.
Sirius, Dumbledore, Hermione, Ron, Mr Weasley, Percy, Remus Lupin, Flitwick and Tonks were all gone. No more will suffer, Harry told himself for the hundredth time. I will end this. I will.
There were still three more Horcruxes to go, not counting Voldemort himself. Harry was growing more desperate each day. A growing doubt that he would ever achieve his goal was constantly gnawing at him, leaving him far more frightened than he would ever admit. And it was a lonely road. He had taken to talking to himself, in an effort to convince himself he was not on his own. It rarely worked.
A scream snapped him back to the present. Death Eaters were suddenly swarming round the crowds like vicious rooks, wands firing in all directions. The scream was the first victim falling to the ground – Molly Weasley, hit with one of Dolohov’s famous cutting curses. The next one was hit a split second later with Avada Kedavra, too soon for anyone to have reacted. Harry recognised the green dress robes and black bun.
No! Not again! I’m not losing anyone else! He pulled out his wand and jumped into the suddenly fully-fledged battle. Most of the remaining Order had been in attendance at the funeral but they had been taken by surprise.
Harry rushed to the crowd gathered round the coffin. He was still invisible and though he tried not to drop his Cloak, defending the innocents was far more important. Within minutes another cutting curse nearly hit him – it missed him, but his glasses shattered, leaving glass in his eyes, and rendering him to his knees with his hands over his bloody face.
A second later he felt a sickening crunch as the heavy coffin was overturned onto his legs. Before he had a chance to so much as whimper something hard hit him in the back of the head.
Not exactly the most dignified way to die, was his last clear thought as the world spun and darkened. Among the blackness came a sudden flash of green light, and a kind of numbness overcame him.
He could hear murmuring voices, but couldn’t make out what they were saying – or who they belonged to, for that matter. His head hurt.
Harry twitched his arms and legs. He seemed to be lying in a bed. It was a luxury that had been denied to him for quite a long time and he sank into the soft mattress, relishing the touch and trying not to think about anything. Breathing deeply, he recognised the clean, sharp smell of Hogwarts’ Hospital Wing.
Wait. Hogwarts? I thought it closed! Or did McGonagall re-open it?
He opened his eyes, and regretted it a moment later. The walls seemed a much brighter white than he remembered and he had to squint. The indistinct voices paused, and footsteps rushed towards him.
“Don’t crowd him!” someone said. “Stand back, give him some space!”
The figures round him moved backwards. Harry squinted. He didn’t recognise the man who had spoken. He struggled upright, feeling around for his glasses.
“Are you looking for these?” the man asked, handing them to him.
“Um, yeah, thanks,” Harry muttered, taking them and putting them on.
The man who had handed them to him, now that he could see properly, seemed vaguely familiar. He was tall, with dark hair and sharp grey eyes and a very intelligent , yet shrewd, face, and there was something about him that immediately made Harry distrust him. He looked about seventy and was dressed in long sweeping green robes with silver trimming.
Very Slytherin, Harry thought.
“Why thank you,” the man smiled broadly. “My House, when I was a student.”
Harry stared. “You’re a Legilimens?”
“Really, sir,” a woman – the only one in the room – said, laughingly but with a hint of nerves, “you shouldn’t publicise it so.” She also looked familiar. Her dark hair was loose and thick, and her eyes … Harry swallowed as he was reminded of Sirius.
“Black?” Harry snapped back to the man, whose eyebrows were raised. “How do you know him?”
“Who are you?” Harry demanded.
He received a laugh in return. “Really, I should be the one asking that. You’re barely of age. A boy is going to defeat the most powerful Dark wizard in the world? I think not.” His eyes grew curious. “You have a name?”
“Who, me?” Harry was astonished. He seemed to have found a wizard on this planet who didn’t know his name. That was rare – no, it was unheard of. “I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.”
The dark-haired woman tentatively put a hand on the man’s arm. “Sir, he’s hostile. Would it be a better idea to be friendly? We need him, even if he is only a boy.”
“I’m nineteen, for your information, and I’ve faced Lord Snake-Face more times than most Aurors.”
The room rang with laughter. “Lord Snake-Face! That’s a good one,” the man chortled. “But I can’t see why you called him that.”
Harry gave a wry grin. “Yeah, you’re right. It’s offensive to snakes.”
“Excuse me.” One of the other men in the room moved forward eagerly. “You said you’ve faced him before?”
“And came out alive?”
Harry nodded. “Out of luck, mostly, but yeah.”
The first man shook his head, the amusement gone. “That cannot be right. For a start, Dumbledore knows you’re the Chosen One – unless you hid your mark, he would never have let you out alive. Second, you’ve only just arrived. How can you have faced him already?”
It took half a minute for Harry to work out what he’d said.
“Uh, is there a Healer in here? I would really appreciate knowing what spell I got hit with. I could have sworn you just said Dumbledore was the Dark Lord.”
Shivers ran round the room.
“Well, he’s brave all right,” someone muttered. “That’s something.”
The first man smiled, but it was humourless. “You heard me correctly, young man. And I think in future it would be best if we restricted the use of that name. We don’t want anyone fainting.”
Harry shook his head like a dog as if trying to remove water from his ears. “No, I’m definitely hearing things. Or I’ve got concussion. Or someone’s playing a joke. Dumbledore? Dark Lord? Nuh-uh. He’s dead for starters.”
“If only that were true,” someone muttered.
“Two,” Harry continued, fighting a surge of anger at that, “There’s just … no way. I mean, Dumbledore????? We are talking about the same Dumbledore, right? Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore?”
How on earth did he remember those names? Oh, yeah. They were on his tomb. Even two years after the event Harry still had trouble remembering it had happened.
A murmur ran through the Hospital Wing. “How on earth do you know all that? Most people don’t even know his first name!”
The first man shook his head. “I thought I was the only one. The only one on our side, anyway. And yes, we are talking about the same – person. That’s his name as sure as mine is Tom Riddle.”