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Many thanks to Lady of Rohan for spending her valuable time editing this story!

Fallen Grace

Harry was in the kitchen washing the morning’s dishes when there was a knock at the door. Surprisingly, his thin goose-necked Aunt Petunia got up from her place at the couch—strategically placed for maximum visibility for spying on the neighbors—instead of yelling at the lanky “disgrace” of a boy, who was currently immersed up to his elbows in water, to answer the door.

A pleasant and distinctly feminine voice floated in from the open passageway.

“Hello, my name is Grace Silverton, we’re your new neighbors just across the way.” Harry imagined a portly woman with graying hair and a jovial face pointing at the house across the street where the moving trucks had been ever so busy. It’s not like they didn’t know new people were moving in. “I just came by to introduce myself—”

“Oh, come in. Come in!” That was unusual. Aunt Petunia was in Full Charm Mode, which she usually saved for important dinner dates out of which Uncle Vernon hoped to get huge contracts; the nights Harry was banished upstairs and forbidden to make any noise. Though, honestly, he didn’t mind too much. She was talking quite fast, detailing about how everyone was so interested in the new neighbors, how she was so glad someone had finally bought the house that had been stranded on the market for seven months, how she looked so nice, “Let me show you my sweet Dudley, you’ll just love him! He’s certainly the sweetest and most gentlemanly boy around.”

Out of curiosity Harry leaned back to look through the door to the sitting room. That explained a bit. She was not a portly woman with graying hair; this Grace Silverton was a teenage girl with shining light brown hair that moved like silk. Although her nose was tad large, and she was fighting a visible battle with a teenage girl’s most persistent nemesis: acne, her broad smile and emanating good nature were the only things that really caught one’s attention. She was by far the loveliest thing that had graced the Dursley household. Not that that was a hard thing to accomplish.

Petunia tried to vainly squash the poor girl and the monstrous Dudley together, she slightly terrorized and he looking quite pleased with the arrangement. Dudley leered unattractively as she tried to recoil while still remaining polite. Aunt Petunia learned that her parents were Henry and Josephine Silverton, and they had moved when the software company Mrs. Silverton worked for opened a branch in Little Whinging and offered her the position of one as the lesser managers.

Harry continued to finish the dishes, while listening in detached amazement at how much information his aunt could get from someone in so little time. Grace was seventeen, loved the sciences, and her family had come from Wales. Mr. Silverton was a lawyer, was looking into setting up or joining another firm. Grace herself had every intention of never involving herself in politics in any shape or form.

Having finished the dishes, Harry headed upstairs; he had work to do. He wasn’t welcome downstairs anyway. But the logical path to the stairs led right through the living room.

Seeing someone her own age, possibly a savior from the detestable clutches of Dudley and his horrid mother, Grace immediately jumped at the chance. “And who are you?” Her smile was a mix of cordial cheer and a plea for help.

Petunia’s lips narrowed so much they almost disappeared completely. “That is my nephew. A little strange in the head, you would do best to stay away from him.”

Harry took this as a challenge. With his best winning smile he said, “My name is Harry. I believe I heard your name was Grace?”

She dimpled. “Right you did.”

“Would you like me to show you around the neighborhood? You best know your way around.”

Aunt Petunia was livid. Not only did she have to house the spawn of evil while feeling guilty for detesting him, but then he had to subvert Dudley’s chance at anything! Before she could get another word, Grace quickly accepted and was whisked out the front door by a very smug Harry Potter.

Outside, she was no longer all smiles and simpering amicability. There was a puzzled and slightly calculating expression dancing across her face, now free of the scrutiny of the adults. “Thank you for getting me out of there and away from that awful boy, Dudley.” She stuck out her tongue as if gagging and wrinkled her nose.

“Nothing gives me more pleasure than making it harder for Dudley to torment someone,” he replied with a grin.

“So are you really going to show me around?”

“Why not?”

Harry spent the rest of the afternoon with Grace, her hair of silk, her lilting bell-like laughter and witty sense of humor. She was disappointed to learn that Harry attended a private boarding school, so she would still know no one, and overjoyed to learn that Dudley went to Smeltings, which was all-boys anyway. Grace would be going to the local secondary school, Stonewall.

They never really spent any time together after that afternoon of the neighborhood tour and making jokes about stupid fat people and what they would both like to do to Dudley. Grace said she wished that all food Dudley touched would immediately turned into snakes that bit him. Only little garter snakes, though; because then they could bite him over and over again, and he’d die of starvation anyway.

Sometimes they’d both be outside doing some domestic chore or another and exchanged a friendly wave, but nothing more. She was busy unpacking and getting registered for school. Harry had a whole other world of trouble on his mind.

He spent hours holed up in his room, only coming down for meals and quickly finishing all the idle chores Aunt Petunia shouted at him; Uncle Vernon had decided the best survival skill was just to leave all interactions to his wife. He had carefully written down everything he knew about Voldemort; each memory, his own encounters, and the list of possible horcruxes was in an enormous stack of papers arranged every which-way with no semblance of order. Dumbledore help the poor soul that tried to find something in that heap. Harry thought that maybe if he wrote down everything, he could glean some new information from his observations and notes; Hermione had rubbed off on him. Thus far, the only thing it resulted in was a deterioration of his handwriting, which wasn’t much to begin with.

Ron, Hermione and himself had divided up the jobs while Harry was renewing his protection: Hermione would research horcruxes and all other relative information through books, as she was the only one who could stand to read them. The last Hogsmeade trip she bought half the bookstore and made Ron and Harry make several trips to get them from the carriage to Gryffindor Tower. Of course, when it was time to leave she charmed them to all fit in her suitcase and only weigh about five pounds so she didn’t have to work. Ron was to bug his parents to let him into the Order (he was of age), and to pave the way for the other two to join as soon as possible. Harry, who didn’t have much flexibility due to his living circumstances, would go over the information they all ready had. Dumbledore’s pensieve sat on his desk.

He must have gone over this a hundred times. There were seven. Seven horcruxes. At least if there weren’t, then there would be problems. Voldemort, diary, ring, locket, Hufflepuff’s cup, Nagini, and something of Ravenclaw’s or Gryffindor’s. Three were destroyed, leaving four remaining pieces. They had been found in the Gaunt’s old house, passed to Ginny Weasley from a chief death eater, and in a cave Voldemort had once tortured two little kids. There was nothing else! No other hints, no other clues.

Harry slammed his fist down on the table. He was no Dumbledore. He was no auror. He was a teenage boy who hadn’t even finished his schooling yet. How could he ever hope to destroy Voldemort?

* * *

A friendly light enveloped the room, the man immersed in his paper, his wife and daughter rolling in laughter over some joke. The man looked as if he was pointedly ignoring the said comment. There was an air of happiness and peace in the room, like everything was going to be okay even if the sky came crashing down.

With a sickening crack, figures swathed in black appeared along the perimeter of the room, the Grim Reaper and all his cousins come to call. Malicious laughter echoing hollowly at the expressions of fear and confusion on the muggle family’s faces.

The man’s paper slipped through his fingers. “What do you want?” He was obviously trying to sound intimidating and unafraid, but his voice failed him and cracked.

“Only a bit of sport.” Voldemort cackled. “Crucio.” The man was instantly writhing on the floor in immense pain.

The elder woman gasped aloud, face white in terror. The young girl however, did no such thing. Her eyes narrowed to mere slits, hands clenched tight into fists.

“Leave my father alone.”

But Voldemort merely laughed and continued to watch her poor father in open enjoyment.

“Leave, my father
ALONE!” She was standing now, and had done so with a grand thump. But when that elicited no reaction, the slight girl rocketed forward and punched the man in the stomach.

The blow had no visible effect on the Dark Lord, and merely caused him to smile. “Your mother then? Crucio.” Her mother was reduced to terrified screams.

“Stop it!” Her fists were balled in anger and held stiffly at her sides.

“And just how do you plan on stopping me, you filthy muggle?”

She glared at him. “’Sport’ you say? Sport?” She countered. “It’s all fun and games to you?” Her hazel green eyes darkened. “You’re despicable. Compassionless, heartless.” She said each word as if it was the ultimate insult. “For someone so powerful you are much less than a man.” Her voice had dropped to a menacing whisper.

“That is where you would be mistaken, I am much
more than a man. Crucio.”

She did not cry out. She would not give him that satisfaction. Her lip was bleeding freely from biting down to hold in her shrieks, and her nails were making fast work of tearing the delicate skin of her palms to shreds. She shook violently; beads of sweat glistened on her contorted expression, and staggered to her knees. But still she did not make a sound.

He gave a wicked smile, and motioned for the death eaters to curse and torture the two older muggles at their leisure. Curses abounded, making the poor man tap dance while under the cruciatus curse.

The girl flung herself at her parent’s attackers, to no effect. The only result was she got hit with another cruciatus, and staggered backwards, falling at the foot of the couch.

“Are you enjoying your ‘sport’?" She spat at him. The girl’s legs wobbled as she slowly regained her feet, but she did not remove her gaze. “Where your poor victims have no defenses and lie there helplessly before you in pain? Have you no hearts? Do you not care at all?” The girl seemed to grow with each word she uttered, fueled by her anger. And all of a sudden seemed much taller than the dark-robed death eaters with her menacing presence.

Voldemort did not seem affected. “Crucio.” She shook, she winced openly with pain, and her breathing was getting heavier, and more labored. But she still did not scream.

LEAVE MY PARENTS ALONE!” She thundered a breath after the curse was lifted. “Why can you just leave us all alone? What did we ever do to you? You filthy heartless bastard!” She staggered, catching the edge of the nearby coffee table, the blood from her hand spilling onto the fastidiously polished surface.

“My dear lady, I am not a bastard. I am Lord Voldemort.” His red eyes glittered down at her in a condescending manner, openly displaying that he believed she deserved the pain and humiliation.

“Lord?” She scoffed. “Working your way up the ladder? Not marquis or duke yet?”

His eyes fired dangerously, but the girl did not seem to notice, or at this point she was just beyond caring. “Crucio.”

Her hand clenched the wood tabletop in a vice-like grip, swaying back and forth dangerously. Her face was a mask of silent anguish, a Picasso masterpiece in the flesh.

“Leave.” The girl did not raise her voice at all, but there was power in her words. She raised her face to meet his, eyes full of pure, unrefined hatred. It was enough to make a six-foot-seven soldier tremble in his shoes, and have a compelling desire to bolt in the opposite direction. Lightning bolts flashed behind her eyes, threatening to strike the first person to get in her way. If looks could kill, this would be the one to do it. Voldemort remained undaunted. He was so far from human that he was unafraid of mere mortal power.

The majestically beautiful girl was thrown back violently into the wall with a flash of green light.

“This will not be the last, Harry Potter,” hissed a familiar and extremely unwelcome voice.

* * *

Harry woke in a cold sweat. Grace. A light breeze had snaked its way through the partially open window, swirled up around him, tickling his skin with an eerie and unsettling sensation. That was Grace. He fumbled automatically for his wand and invisibility cloak, Ministry warnings had long ceased to scare him.

The cool night air ruffled his clothes and nipped his skin. There was no friendly light shining through the windows of the Silverton residence.

He almost expected to walk into a silent house, and find all three Silvertons sleeping peacefully in their beds. It was late. He hadn’t been in Voldemort’s mind for a very long time. It could have been just a dream. The back door through which he arrived opened to a kitchen, and a dining room. Nothing was out of place, everything seemed just fine. It must have been his imagination toying with him. He had been spending an unnaturally long time attempting to analyze Voldemort.

Harry peaked around the corner, ready to retreat back to his house, when his heart dropped cold. Mr. and Mrs. Silverton lay in grotesque positions on the floor, faces contorted in fear and horror. They were both dead.

One of the walls was smashed, debris littered the dusky blue carpet. Within the ruins, Grace lay; her silken hair falling about her face like a soft cloth. Her eyes were closed, unlike her parents, and her expression was much more relaxed. Though that was comparatively, considering both her parents had a gross over-taxation of the cruciatus curse. Even if she had been alive, her body would have been broken. She lay draped over boards; her spine in a jagged line.

Harry held her cold, limp hand in his own. The flesh was icy, and left a sticky residue of blood still oozing from where her fingernails had punctured her soft palms. There was no life left, no laughter, no happiness. He narrowed his eyes. It had not been a dream. Voldemort had wanted him to see this.

She hadn’t done anything. Neither had her parents. They were a family of muggles living in complete ignorance of the wizarding world and content to continue that way. She hadn’t done anything. She was an innocent, spirited and intelligent girl, whose life was just robbed away by a murderous villain. Never in his life had Harry felt so determined. It was an odd feeling, he didn’t even know her. Sure, he had been a little attracted, but nothing more than that. Never in his life had Harry despised the man named Tom Riddle, who paraded around the wizarding world as Lord Voldemort. Not when he learned the truth of his parent’s death, not when Cedric died feet from him, not when Sirius was lost forever. Those people knew and understood the enemy, the dangers they faced. It was the death of a clueless and innocent muggle girl that struck deep into his heart. The image of Grace’s eyes was branded into his memory, her hate channeling his own. Never had he loathed Voldemort so much.

This will not be the last… Voldemort’s menacing words ricocheted ominously, bouncing hollowly off the inside of his skull.

Harry gently released her hand and carefully set it down, brushed a few silken hairs away from her pretty face. He rose with a dark expression.

He had horcruxes to hunt.

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