Diclaimer. I don't own anything Harry Potter related and I'm not making any money of this. I did not even come up with this story.

The original author, Firstsecond, had to abandon this story which really disappointed me. Its one of those stories which I got hooked on with the first word and which I think was too good to let go. So Firstsecond allowed me to adopt the story. Hopefully I'll do it justice.

What's posted in this chapter is what Firstsecond has written. The next posting will be the first of what I've written.

Ship: Harry/Hermione

Shades of Gray

The Black family library had books that made the most frightening tomes of Hogwarts' Restricted Section look very tame in comparison. Dark magic—curses, potions, rites—was literally at Harry Potter's fingertips all summer.

Grimmauld Place had closed itself to the Order on its new owner's instructions. Harry told them that the will Sirius left must not have taken into account the house's own magic. It would only let itself be owned by one it deemed worthy—which was true. Harry just didn't tell them that he had been found worthy.

Dumbledore was unable to break down the old, powerful wards and so the Order had found a new headquarters.

As he'd expected, Harry's request to spend the summer with the Ron's family had been denied. Dumbledore insisted that Harry stay with his aunt and uncle to renew the blood wards, so Harry had dutifully agreed and then promptly moved into his godfather's home.

That had been weeks ago and despite the frantic post he kept receiving, Harry felt no inclination to tell anyone where he was. He wrote back to everyone telling them he was safe, but ignored the threats from his headmaster.

Dobby had brought Winky to him and she had happily bound herself to him. He'd been unable to give Kreacher the clothing he deserved because of all the secrets he'd heard while the Order met at the house, but Harry had taken great delight in informing him that his head would never hang on the wall with the other elves that had died serving the Black family. The devastated expression on the wretched beast's wrinkled face had taken away some of the pain that living with the creature who had betrayed Sirius.

Dobby himself didn't live with Harry, but he popped in frequently the first several days of the summer to help Winky clean.

The house was unrecognizable now. Furniture gleamed, the silverware glistened, the rooms were flooded with light, and though Harry doubted Grimmauld Place would ever feel as homey as The Burrow, the elegant surroundings were growing on him and he saw glimpses of the refined man who had been his godfather in the house.

The-Boy-Who-Lived had spent an equal amount of time exploring the treasures his new home held and soaking up as much knowledge as he could from the rare books he knew he'd never have access to once the school term began.

He discovered that whatever the Ministry of Magic used to detect underage spell casting could not reach through the archaic wards set on the Black family's ancestral house. Since then he'd been practicing defensive and offensive spells for hours every day. The events at the Department of Mysteries still haunted his nightmares, but Harry swore that Sirius' death would not be in vain. He would avenge his family.

However, he was growing surer and surer that following Dumbledore was not the best way to defeat Voldemort and his Death Eaters. His headmaster had kept too many secrets from him—secrets that, had Harry known, could have saved Sirius.

The more Harry thought about Dumbledore's actions the more his faith in his once hero fell.

The strikes against the manipulative old wizard were stacking up. Dumbledore has spoken for Snape but allowed Sirius to be thrown in Azkaban without a trial.

Dumbledore had turned a blind eye to Harry's living conditions at the Dursleys. Even if he had been unaware for the first ten years, after Harry's Hogwarts letter was addressed to the cupboard under the stairs the man would have known of the abuse. Still he sent Harry back every summer regardless. Who did that to a child?

Dumbledore was fully aware of the extent of Snape's hatred towards Harry, but still forced Harry into a situation where the bitter man could justifiably rape his student's mind. It was Harry's trust that made him go to his mean-spirited Potions professor and be violated; trust that Harry now realized had been misplaced all along.

Who knew why Dumbledore did what he had done. Harry was sure it was "for the greater good" but the man's action made him think uncomfortably of the wizard's chess that Ron was so talented at—sacrifices were made to win, but in real life who was allowed to play with people like chess pieces? Maybe Albus Dumbledore felt entitled, but Harry was tired of being a pawn.

This was where Harry was at the moment. Sequestered in a hidden house with a crotchety house elf who might as well have killed the last living member of Harry's family, distrustful of the person he had put all his faith in for the past five years, terrified of the resurrected dark wizard who was prophesized to either kill or be killed by a fifteen year old boy, and surrounded by books humming with dark magic.

He had three weeks before he expected his school lists to arrive. After that he knew he'd have to at least leave for Diagon Alley.

Harry felt like he had accomplished a lot so far; he'd identified the ritual that Pettigrew had used to give Voldemort a body again. It couldn't be reversed, but Harry felt that he was more aware of the level of darkness he was facing now.

He'd also looked for and found most of the curses he'd seen the Death Eaters casting at the DoM. He had no way of knowing whether or not he was able to cast them yet, but he'd memorized the incantations and wand motions for the counter curses in preparation for the next time he was facing off a dark wizard.

He'd tried looking into how Voldemort was almost able to come back through the diary second year. That line of research had been the most difficult so far. He didn't know what he was looking for exactly and as a result was only getting the very vaguest of leads.

What Harry needed was help and he knew who he wanted, but he felt like the moment he told Hermione where he was she would inform Dumbledore. Her respect for authority figures was unwavering and she'd never believe that he was better off without adult interference.

Still, he'd reached an impasse. There wasn't much more spell practice he could do without a partner. He was stuck with his research; that had always been his friend's forte anyway. And besides those important reasons, he was lonely.

Harry wavered on the decision for two days before he decided that Hermione would forgive him eventually. He penned a hasty note to his friend and wrapped a small medallion in a handkerchief. The Black family crest was a portkey that would always bring the user back to Grimmauld place. He knew Hermione would probably be terrified, then furious, but he was prepared. This was important, more so even than their friendship, and she would have to trust him.

She wouldn't have a choice.

The ritual Harry had chosen was definitely not something he would have learned at Hogwarts. He would shortly be binding his best friend to him.

He'd waffled over a spell that would implant feelings of trust and loyalty, but didn't feel he could justify manipulating Hermione's mind just so she wouldn't hex him. Instead the spell he'd decided on would simply prevent her from leaving his side or disobeying an express order. It wasn't ideal, but Harry couldn't risk her leaving and bringing back an adult or telling anyone what they were doing.

As long as he didn't tell her right away that underage magic was undetectable here, he figured that the risk of expulsion would protect him from her vast arsenal of jinxes.

Just under two hours after he had sent Hedwig with the letter, Hermione landed on the kitchen floor. Harry rushed to help her to her feet and secretly enjoyed the bewildered expression on her face.

"H-Harry? What?"

"I'm so sorry, Hermione. I wouldn't do this if there was any other way."

While Hermione was trying to sort out her surroundings, Harry had been leading her over to a chair by the worn kitchen table. He sat her down then quickly bound her.

"Harry! What are you doing? What's going on?"

He felt horrible that his friend was starting to panic, but he'd make it up to her afterwards. He opened the old leather bound text that he'd left lying on the table to the spell he'd marked earlier. Hermione started crying and Harry paused long enough to smooth a hand over her cheek.

"Hermione, it's okay. I promise. I just have to do this first."

His friend took a deep shuddery breath, trying to calm down.

"Please, I don't understand. Just let me get up, Harry. Please."

Harry tuned out her begging and began to chant. The language was Latin and he could feel the magic in the words.

"What does that mean? Harry what are you doing?"

He didn't stop speaking as he ran his wand over his palm, creating a shallow cut. Harry took the book in his uninjured hand and turned to Hermione, who had gasped when she saw him draw blood.

"No, Harry. Don't. Any spell that uses blood is dark magic. Don't do this, Harry."

He repeated the incant as he smeared streaks of his blood onto his friend's hands, forehead, and mouth. She tried to move away from his bloody hand when it touched her mouth, but he pressed his palm firmly against her lips. Some of the blood made it into her mouth and a swirl of magic blew around them both before the air seemed to unnaturally still.

Harry closed the book and set it carefully on the table before he cleaned the blood off his friend and healed his hand. Hermione was staring at him with a frightened expression.

"H-Harry, what… what have you done?"

He flicked his wand once more, releasing the ropes that had tied her to the chair, before he knelt on the ground in front of her.

"Hermione, I had to. I need you here but… I had to do this."

"What was that, Harry? It was dark magic."

Harry sighed and ran a hand through his hair nervously.

"Hermione, you cannot tell anyone about what I've done today."

Hermione started to open her mouth, but a wave of magic startled her. The bond had recognized the command and was enforcing it. Hermione's eyes narrowed.

"What just happened? What have you done to me?"

"I've bound you to me—in word, thought, and action. You can see the book, if you'd like. It explains everything. I needed to be sure. I'm sorry, Hermione."

She didn't say anything, but her expression was horrified.

"Hermione, it's not so bad. Honestly, it's a relatively light bond. I won't force you to do anything but keep my secrets and stay at Grimwauld Place until we have to go back to school. You'll probably even enjoy it here. I need your help researching."

"Harry, you've bound me. This is the magical equivalent to slavery. You've made me a slave."

"That's not true. This binding ritual was often used in Pureblood wedding vows before the Ministry made it illegal."

"This is illegal? Gods, Harry, what have you done?"

Harry sat back on his heels, searching for something to say that would smooth this over. He was really tempted to just order her to stop talking about it, but he knew that wouldn't be fair. Besides, as frustrating as having to explain himself was, Hermione was adorable when she was scared.

"Do you think this is funny? It's bad enough that you've performed underage magic; you know Fudge has it out for you. Now you're telling me the spell is illegal too. I don't get the joke if there is one."

He winced as he listened to her shriek. She must have seen him smile over her cute flustered expression. It wasn't his fault though. Hermione had really grown up. She was pretty last year as well, but the summer had really changed her looks. His friend was bloody hot. She had a faint tan and her hair was a sexy mess of curls. He was also eye-level with her petite legs and the shorts she was wearing didn't cover much. Merlin, he loved Muggle clothes.

Harry forced his eyes up to her flushed cheeks and met her angry gaze.

"I'm sorry, Hermione. I'm not laughing, but I am happy. I know you're furious, but I've missed you this summer. I wouldn't have done this if I didn't think it was absolutely necessary. I need you here. I need you."

He lifted his hand to the smooth skin of her thigh and inwardly smirked as her breath hitched.

"I just don't understand, Harry. Why have you been hiding all summer? We've all be so worried? Is this where you've been?"

Pleased that she didn't sound so angry, Harry carefully started to tell Hermione about his summer. While he talked, he rubbed small circles on her skin. Her slight blush was the only indication that she noticed his touch, but obviously thinking that his gesture was unconscious, she didn't say anything.