Summary: An 'accident' concerning a Dementor changes Harry's life. After OotP, non HBP-compliant.
Disclaimer: JK Rowlings owns Harry Potter. I got the idea for this fic after reading 'Darkness Unleashed' by MadnessPersonified
A/N: I know, I shouldn't be starting another story when "Innocence" isn't finished yet. But the plot bunny bit me, and now I'm stuck. Blame the bunny, not me.
I'm not happy with this chapter. It doesn't feel original enough, and I'm always scared of becoming someone who steals other's work... But it begs to be written, so what can I do?
To Shred A Soul: Chapter 1: Something Wicked This Way Comes
July 31th 1996 – late evening
Elphias Doge was a member of the Order of the Phoenix. He had been part of it since Dumbledore started it – in the seventies, that was – and had survived all those battles with Death Eaters because he was quick with his wand, but old age had started nibbling at his reflexes. Yet, he had agreed to guarding the Boy-Who-Lived today. He knew how strong the protection around Privet Drive 4 was. The Potter boy couldn't get in any trouble here. Of course, there'd been that business with those Dementors last year, but the odds of something like that happening again were extremely small, even with You-Know-Who on the loose.
Had he known Harry Potter at all, he would realize that if there was a tiny chance of getting into trouble, Harry managed to let it happen. Alas, he did not know Harry that well, and thus he wasn't as observant as he should have been.
He followed the boy when he went to the park nearby, but his Invisibility Cloak seemed to get stuck on something when he rounded a corner. He cursed softly and pulled at the cloak. Ah – the perpetrator appeared to be a protruding nail.
Several minutes later he entered the park, and wondered where Harry Potter was. He always came here, he always took the same route, and he couldn't have disappeared, right? What could happen in a few minutes?
A feeling of dread rose in his suddenly-too-tight chest when he finally found Harry Potter. The Boy-Who-Lived wasn't the reason, though – it was the dark shape in front of the boy whose presence made Elphias hands shake.
The Boy-Who-Lived was on his knees, his hands pressed tightly against his scar, in front of a Dementor.
And the Dementor was Kissing him.
Elphias whipped out his wand as fast as was possible with his old and trembling fingers, prayed silently it wasn't too late, and yelled out the Patronus Charm.
Before he could finish the charm, hower, the Dementor disappeared. It didn't glide away, it just faded into nothingness. There was a small explosion of dark light – a darkness so utterly overwelming it resembled a negative sun – and Harry Potter dropped on the grass like a puppet with broken strings.
Elphias begged every god who would listen that he wasn't actually Kissed. Let it all be a bad dream, he is the Chosen One, don't let him become a human vegetable, he's just a child...
It was as he approached Harry Potter, when he realised something wasn't right. He could still feel the Dementor's influence, the cold and the icy dread...
But there was no other Dementor nearby. The uncomfortable feeling was coming from the Boy-Who-Lived.
August 3rd 1996 – around noon
It was cold. He didn't know where he was, he couldn't remember going to sleep, and he barely even remembered his own name. Everything was a haze – he was still half asleep.
He tried to turn on his side, but something kept him from moving. He struggled to become a bit more awake, and tried to move again.
Yes, there was definitely something keeping his arms at his sides. The same went for his legs, they too were strapped neatly to the flat surface he was lying on. Also, he could feel a thick sheet resting on top of him, the soft cloth tickling his chin, but it didn't help against the cold. He shivered, and opened his eyes.
Well, he wasn't in Voldemort's dungeons, he supposed. Unless old Tom had decided to redecorate everything in a clean, hospital-like white.
Wait. Hospital? Now he mentioned it, this room did look a bit like the infirmary... Only a lot smaller. Was he at Hogwarts?
He tested the restraints and found himself quite unable to move. If this was Hogwarts, why was he chained to the bed?
The door in the corner suddenly opened. Two people entered, and he fished for the memories about who they were... Oh, right. Snape and Dumbledore. The latter looked exceptionally grave, and even a bit pained. Snape's face however was expressionless.
Dumbledore took a seat across the bed. "Harry."
Harry? Right... His name... Harry Potter. Together with the name other memories came tumbling back, about his life, his friends, Hogwarts... But nothing about the reason he was here, restrained.
"Professor, what happened?"
Dumbledore looked at him gravely. "So you are finally awake. Good." He smiled faintly. "I cannot explain everything to you, I'm afraid. I won't be able to remain in this room much longer. My Occlumency is weakening too fast. But Professor Snape is strong enough in Occlumency, and he shall explain to you what I can't."
Harry blinked. Why did Dumbledore need mental barriers in this room? Harry didn't feel any strong Legilimens nearby...
"As you may have guessed by now, Harry, you're in Hogwarts. Do you have any recollection of what happened at the park?"
Harry shook his head, since it was the only body part not restrained.
"Ah. Perhaps the memory shall return. In the meantime I'll tell you what I've managed to puzzle together thanks to the eyewitnesses and the proof we found.
According to your relatives, you left the house on the evening of the day you turned sixteen. One of your Order guards, Elphias Doge, followed you to the park. Sadly enough, Mr. Doge was less than completely careful and lost your trail for a few minutes. When he found you, you were on your knees in front of a Dementor." He saw Harry's horror and smiled sadly. "This is nothing to be ashamed of. You have seen horrible things, and after just losing your godfather... My guess is you were overwelmed by the Dementor and it... took advantage of that."
Harry swallowed. "What are you trying to say, Professor?"
"It – I'm so sorry, my boy - Kissed you."
Harry couldn't quite grasp it. What was Dumbledore saying? It was impossible, right? "Shouldn't I be, er, soulless then?"
"Theoretically, yes. But something unusual happened."
Harry snorted. "The story of my life." Snape gave him a glare for interrupting the Headmaster, so he added: "I'm sorry Professor, please go on."
"We don't know what you did, Harry, but we do know the Dementor disappeared right in front of you, and upon approaching you, we could still feel its effects. You were – and still are – spreading the same influence a Dementor does. Which is why only someone with strong Occlumency barriers can enter this room.
I believe you have somehow merged with the Dementor, thus absorbing its powers. When you woke..." Dumbledore gasped. "I'm sorry, Harry, I must leave now. Professor Snape will tell you the rest." He hurried outside.
Harry stared at Dumbledore's retreat. It was all a lot to take in, and he was feeling rather panicked. Was he destined to remain the rest of his life in this room, so as not to hurt anyone? "Can't I turn it off?"
"Not unless you work on it," Snape spoke up, his tones crisp and as cold as Harry felt. "The Headmaster believes learning Occlumency might help you. Take this more seriously than last year, Potter. We haven't got another mut for you to get killed."
Harry balled his fists. "Don't talk about Sirius like that!" He could nearly feel his own anger, rolling through the room like silent thunder. It seemed to affect Snape, who snarled and pressed a hand against his head. "Keep that up, Potter, and I'll leave without telling you anything."
Harry tried to calm down, and after a few deep breaths he nodded to Snape. "Fine, sir. Why am I restrained?"
"You were mad when you woke up. Your... aura, by lack of a better term, flared even more and you kept trying to escape by floating through the window. We caught you before you could harm anyone – including yourself."
"Well I'm fine now, so if you could at least let me sit straight –"
Snape smirked. "I don't think I will. I prefer you to remain where you are. Who knows how dangerous you still are."
"What?" Harry glared at him. "What if I need to go to the bathroom?"
"That isn't my problem." With those words, Snape left the room. Harry heard several locks closing.
He sighed, and tried to figure out how he felt about all of this.
Horror was a part of it. Disgust too. The idea to be actually Kissed by a Dementor... And worse, actually being turned into his own greatest fear.
And there was worry. Would he manage to tone down his 'aura' enough to live a normal life? Well, normal for him, at least... Would his friends still like him? And Dumbledore, would he still let him attend Hogwarts?
It all seemed so... surreal. As if it was all just a bad dream. He didn't feel like a Dementor. And as far as he could see from the toes sticking out from under the thick blanket, he still didn't have any gray, scaly skin.
He just felt so cold...
August 3rd 1996 –evening
Harry had spend the long, boring afternoon lying on his bed – not that he had much choice in this, mind – and trying to amuse himself by counting all the cracks in the ceiling. In the meanwhile he thought about his predicament, and had come to the conclusion it was all a lot of rubbish. If he'd really been Kissed, he would be imitating a vegetable by now, right? And he didn't feel any different, or look any different, as far as he could tell without a mirror. Perhaps it was all some kind of joke. Dumbledore who wanted to get even for Harry wrecking his office at the end of last school year. Or perhaps the Death Eaters had captured him and were attempting to make him go crazy. (Harry admitted this wasn't very probable, because Voldemort wouldn't go through so much trouble for him when a few Crucio's would work as well, but it was still possible, right?)
When his boredom was disturbed by the sound of several locks being opened, he craned his neck to see the door. When it swung open to admit Madam Pomphrey, a gust of warm wind seemed to accompany her presence. Harry revelled in the warmth, that finally drove away the cold which had been haunting him since he woke.
Madam Pomphrey looked horrible. She was pale and shivering, and her lips were pressed tightly together. She put the tray with food on a small table near the door, and then turned to Harry. She had her wand in her hand. "Libera." Harry's restraints loosened. Gratefully, he pulled his arms and legs from their bindings and sat up straight. "Madame Pomphrey, why-"
"Ex- ex... Expecto Patronum." The silvery shape of a cat jumped from the tip of her wand. It approached Harry, and hissed menacingly.
Harry suddenly found himself in the corner farthest away from the patronus, with a strange fear twisting in his stomach and an uncomfortable feeling, like pinpricks, all over his body. The warmth he had felt had disappeared when the Charm was cast, and together with the slight pain of the 'pinpricks' the cold had returned.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Potter," he heard Madame Pomphrey's voice. He didn't dare to look up, completely fixated as he was by the silvery cat and those odd feelings. "I needed to talk with you and this is the only way I can without being overpowered by your aura. My Occlumency training is flimsy at best. I need to examine you, to see how much you've changed, but I can't come near you. That is why Profesor Snape will be your Healer for a while – at least, until you've mastered your new... talents, and I can examine you properly. I've put some food on the table, if there's something wrong you can alarm me or Professor Snape by touching the mirror I put next to your plate and saying his or my name." She took a deep breath. "Good luck with controlling this, Mr. Potter."
She left the room. As soon as the door fell closed, the patronus faded away.
Harry took a shaky breath. The cold remained, but at least the pain was gone. An icy realisation took shape in his skull.
The way he'd felt when the Patronus Charm was cast... The way he reacted...
"Oh god. It isn't a joke. It isn't, it isn't, it isn't..."
He had really absorbed part of a Dementor.
Harry did the only thing he could do in this situation. He closed his eyes, and screamed.