"Are you sure about this?"
"Completely," Sirius replied. He looked James up and down. He looked exhausted, but nonetheless cheerful, and more importantly: ready. Sirius couldn't say he felt the same way James looked, however. His arms felt like logs, his eyes stung, and he very much fancied a long sit down with a cup of piping hot tea. What if we get stuck? Sirius thought, What if we can't return back to normal?
James placed a hand on Sirius's shoulder, and Sirius looked into his friend's eyes. Peter was sat not far from them, his eyes downcast, as he made no effort to hide his standard miserable outlook. Looking at Peter made Sirius feel better; there was no way he looked as pathetic as that, and it made his chest swell with egotistical pride.
"Right. Three, two – one!" James cried, and Sirius closed his eyes, focusing upon the buzzing feeling that he had been learning to trap for the last few months. It was there: the buzz of magic, like an exposed coil of wire. He didn't know how quite to describe it: it was very much eldritch in nature, despite being part of himself. He was dimly aware of his arms twitching and cracking, contorting and grinding. Yet, he felt no pain, only a warm, electric sensation that coursed through his body.
And then, he opened his eyes: the world was different, the colours wrong, but as he looked at the proud stag and quiet rat nearby, he felt nothing but warmth within his heart.
6th October, 1992, Durmstrang Institute
Harry's head hurt. In fact, it seared with agony: his scar felt, for the first time in his life, as if it was being prised apart by demonic claws. Harry writhed on the floor, hands clutching at the scar that was hidden upon his forehead; that made him invisible to the people who sought to hurt him. As he thrashed and writhed, his head connected with the cold marble floor, breaking the skin, just as his nails raked the floor.
"Dolohov. You have failed me."
Harry roared as the voice filled his head, and he felt a hand try to close around his wrist. He lashed out, and there was a strangled yell, and the familiar crunch of broken bone. The voice didn't just come from his head, it was if he could hear himself speaking, hear his cold, high-pitched voice.
"No! Master! We managed to get him-"
Harry felt his arm raise and lash out. He felt the hand connect with the cold, sweaty cheek of the man that appeared both before and in his mind, like an impressionist painting he was only a shadow, a vague shape. It felt as if Harry had four arms, four legs, two heads; two hearts.
"Severus got him! And even he could not fix the mess you made, Dolohov! The Carrows, dead. The Ministry of Magic alerted, and what's more, according to Severus, Dumbledore is now aware of Sirius' innocence."
Harry's voice was both furious and unfamiliar, furious and calm, deadly and peaceful. He felt himself rising to his feet, his wand in his hand: he could see what was around him now. A scared Draco and Elise stood before him, watching. Elise's eyes were wide, watching, and Draco's features, shocked and contorted-
Agony enveloped him again, and a scream tore out of him. The shadow that was Dolohov was in front of him, on his knees. His eyes were red, his face bruised. Harry's wand raised itself, levelled at his head.
"You have to be punished, Dolohov," Harry heard himself say, even though his lips never moved. "Understand, I will not tolerate failure again."
Harry heard screaming, echoed both around him, and in his mind as the shadow flailed in front of him. He rose into the air, the tendons in his neck straining visibly as his back arched back. Harry could dimly see the flailing form of Draco in front of him, in the air.
There was a flash of red, the shadow dropped to the ground as did Draco, and Harry blocked the spell silently: his phantom arms felt like they were attached to his own by string, he couldn't move one without the other.
"Master, what is it?" a soft, tempered voice spoke from the side.
"Nothing, just a –"
Harry blocked again, except this time, the shield did not form just in one area, but rather in multiple spots to deflect each of the crimson stunning spells. Harry's wand moved of its own accord, his arm moved unwillingly, and he spoke without meaning. The spells stopped, and a new shadow moved into place, beside Draco.
"I feel, almost as if I am elsewhere. Curious." Harry hissed.
"What do you mean, my lord?"
"Severus. You are an accomplished legilimens, are you not? I can see it in your eyes: you suspect something. What is it?" The nasal voice that escaped Harry was low, quiet, yet carried more authority and expectation than Harry had ever heard.
"No!" Harry roared as the pain flared again, and this time it was his own voice. He fell to his knees, screaming as he slammed his head into the floor.
"My lord – I, believe that you are possessing someone."
"And I am not aware of it, Severus?" The nasal voice sounded incredulous.
"More that you did not intend it, my lord."
Harry felt his phantom limb lift his arm, and he saw a vague shadow in front of him: was it Dolohov again? Harry couldn't tell, he couldn't think. There was only the pain in his scar.
"Stay back!" roared Draco as Elise stepped forwards. He recognized the voice: why were they staying back? They should help him! Harry wanted the pain to stop, why wouldn't they stop the pain?
His wand sparked, and Harry tried to bit his tongue but as soon as he moved his jaw, another scream erupted. Harry tried to focus on a single, lone memory, of when he had a snowball fight with Elise and Draco. His eyes strained, and the vein in his head felt as if it were about to pop as he tried to concentrate.
In front of Harry, he saw a pale wand erupt flames: except, the flames seemed slightly off, as if it were a pack of rats swarming rather than billowing, as flames should. The phantom limb was still, more precise than Harry had thought possible.
Then, Harry watched, as the flames formed into a single huge snake, which towered above the shadowy Dolohov. Harry was startled, his head felt close to bursting as he focused on the memory, of the cold ice and slush: and he saw that the fiery creature existed only in this shadow world.
But his own, his real, wand was not without its own activity: fiery animals escaped and quickly vanished for just a flash. Then, as his the pressure in his head built, the world went dark.
7th October, 1992, Durmstrang Institute
"He's waking up," spoke the familiar voice of the nurse in the ward. Harry's eyes were open, and he saw wary figures around his bed: Draco, Elise, and Dimitri. As Harry parted his lips, he gasped loudly, breathing heavily.
Harry blinked wildly: why was Dimitri there? Where had the pain gone? His mind reeled endlessly, and it felt like he was falling through an abyss. Gradually, he realized what had happened, what must have happened. He tried to sit up, and as he did so, he found Dimitri's wand pointed into his face. He slowly raised his hands.
"Uh, how did I get here?" Harry asked lamely.
Draco and Elise looked at one another, "you, uh-"
"I know. I remember," Harry grimaced as he saw the expressions of shock onto their faces, "That wasn't me. I had no control, it was like I was-"
"Possessed," finished Dimitri. "However, if you remember it, you clearly were not possessed." Dimitri lowered his wand, eyes still fixed on Harry warily. Harry grimaced: he had never seen Dimitri look at him quite this way before, like he was a feral animal rather than his student. Harry looked away and searched for his glasses so that he didn't have to look at them. I am dangerous, though, he thought, I performed the cruciatus curse on Draco.
"Do you have any idea of what happened, Corvus?" Draco asked, and Harry hesitated. He remembered hearing a familiar voice from his lips, and judging by what the two people were calling him… Harry shivered, a cold chill running down his spine. He wanted to tell them what he had seen, what he had saw. But they might figure out who I am, he thought. It wouldn't make sense for him, with no connections to Voldemort to suddenly see into his mind.
"Uh, no," Harry answered, staring at the table beside him.
"Are you sure?" Dimitri pressed, "If you remember what happened, then-"
"I said I don't remember," Harry snapped. The room fell silent.
Dimitri nodded after a few moments, "As you say."
Harry's guts felt like a stirring pot: one that was going to boil over at any moment. He needed to talk to his dad; he needed to talk to Sirius. He would be able to help him: he always did. Harry grimaced, and pulled on his glasses: there was a crack in one of them, and so Harry reached for his wand only to find it missing. He searched around frantically until-
"Here you go, Corvus," Elise said, and handed him his wand. Draco flinched.
He nodded, and pointed the wand at his own head.
9th October, 1992, Malfoy Manor
"Sirius. We need to talk." Lucius stood over Sirius who was lain upon the plush sofa in the Malfoy's drawing room, trying to nap as the various potions in his system helped him back to health. It was nearing dusk, judging by the light from the open windows, and the air that blew in chilled Sirius pleasantly; if he had been in any shape to, he'd have turned into a dog.
"What is it?"
"Well, I just grabbed this letter that Corvus sent for you, and on my way to give it to you, I read it." Lucius extended the letter towards Sirius who saw Harry's neat writing upon the parchment, he also saw the blotches of ink that splattered it and the randomly thicker words. Sirius took it, winced as he shifted his arm, and began to read.
Something's wrong. I don't know what happened. I was with Draco and Elise, and then I just felt this horrible pain in my head, like my scar was ripping itself open, and I could hear his voice. He was angry, and punishing someone named Dolohov: I was speaking. I felt like I was him – I even mirrored his actions in real life. It hurt so much, dad, I was screaming until he spoke (apparently I was hissing in parseltongue), and when he tortured the man named Dolohov, it made me cast the cruciatus curse on Draco. I didn't mean too. I think it was Voldemort. Is it do with my scar? I'm scared: he realized that I was in his head after a while, and was using me like a puppet, blocking spells from Draco and Elise. I didn't want to, but he was making me do it. I can't tell them what happened: they might realise who I am. Dimitri was there, Draco and Elise had called for him, so the staff know what happened too.
What if he comes for me, dad? He was starting to figure it all out at the end, talking to a man named Severus. Talking about occlumency. How do I stop it from happening? Can I?
I want to tell them. I don't like keeping this secret: I'm scared, and I want to talk to them about what happened. What if it happens again? Nobody would know, and they still don't understand what happened. I think Draco is scared of me now. I can't blame him, I want to make things right. Voldemort said that Dumbledore knows you're innocent now. Does that mean I can go to Hogwarts? Does that mean he can help us? I don't know what's happening.
Please reply soon, I'm scared.
Sirius felt cold, and not because of the breeze. He looked up at Lucius, his fingers tightening around the letter despite the flaring pain in his arms. "So," Sirius started, "the secret's out." Sirius didn't look away: he knew that Lucius had started to win this game of chess, that he had finally uncovered what he – doubtlessly – must have been wondering for months. Lucius wasn't smirking, but the reflection of Sirius' own despondent face in his eyes was all that Sirius needed to know what he was thinking.
"You did well. Nearly twelve years without a single soul knowing where he was. Who he was," Lucius complimented. "I already knew, but it is always nice to have one's ruminations reassured. I'm sure you suspected my plotting as well." Sirius thought that Lucius had given him too much credit: if he'd truly been suspicious, truly realized what Lucius had been planning, he wouldn't have let him get so close to the truth.
"What are you going to do?"
"Nothing," Lucius replied smoothly. "Actually, I was thinking of sending Corv- pardon me, Harry, something."
Sirius scowled, he was rubbing it in – no, the blonde git was warning him. "What?"
"A diary, to keep track of his thoughts." Lucius sounded sincere, but Sirius wanted to laugh: a diary? What good would a diary do? He decided he didn't trust Malfoy.
"You're bullshitting, what's the catch?"
"There isn't one. It may help him: and when we can, we can read it and get a better impression of what's going on. I have my theories, of course."
"Fine. Send him the bloody diary." Sirius wanted to break something: his face felt hot, and his ears pounded like he were marching to war. His fingers tightened like a vice, and the pain that coursed through his body felt subdued, if only for a moment. And then he realized: "Severus. He mentioned Severus with Voldemort."
"So, not only did wound you, but he has returned to the Dark Lord."
"He didn't bloody wound me, he tried to kill me."
"No, I think not," Lucius started, "for if he had, he would have never bothered with anything but the killing curse. You had never seen him-"
"The coward would never dare face me," Sirius interrupted,
"so there was nothing for him to fear." Lucius carried on, "I feel that Severus has a much more complicated agenda than you would think at first glance. Where that agenda comes from, we know not."
"I've told you, his work for Dumbledore is a front."
"Speaking of Dumbledore: he now knows that you're innocent. What shall you do, Sirius?" Lucius ignored him. Sirius fumed.
"Nothing. And what about you, now that you know about Harry?"
"As you said: nothing. I want to see how he acts without outwards influence," Lucius replied.
Sirius wanted to shout, he wanted to scream, he wanted to shake Lucius by his neck, to choke and crush his neck. The pain returned to his arm, and his scowl only grew: he was powerless. He had lost to Lucius, he couldn't keep Harry's secret safe any longer. Maybe Hogwarts would have been better: Sirius may have lost Harry, but he would at least be safe.
He wasn't safe at Durmstrang.
12th October, 1992, Durmstrang Institute
Harry sat alone at the table, silently eating his lunch when the package arrived in front of him, dropped by Krum, who looked confused, frustrated, and exasperated all at once: Harry could see it in his brow, lowered ever so slightly, but without the energy to lower it enough to glare. His lips curled downwards unpleasantly, and his eyes half closed.
"Why are you on your own, Corvus?"
"Draco and Elise are scared of me."
Krum sighed, and sat down beside Harry to lean upon the table, "You're wrong. They're not scared of you."
"You don't know what happened," muttered Harry.
"I do. Dimitri told me everything, as did Draco."
Harry blinked slowly, and looked back to his captain whose eyes bored into him. Krum looked more tired than ever, and Harry noticed how gaunt his cheeks looked, how his usual brooding features seemed unable to sustain an invisible weight. Shoulders slouched, and back bent, he looked completely different from the boy who had commanded Harry's respect for so long now. "Then you know why they avoid me."
"They don't. You avoid them. They're scared for you, not of you."
"Then why didn't they come over here?" Harry demanded.
"Because you're the one who sat here in the first place. Often, Corvus, the people we think are cutting us off, are the ones being cut off. It's hard to see the effect you have on others."
"But I cast the cruciatus curse on him-"
"And he understands that wasn't you. You've never cast it before: I doubt anyone has successfully on their first attempt. Talk to them, Corvus. They're worried about you." Krum stood up, and spoke one last time, "By the way, the package is from Malfoy's dad."
Harry was sat up late; late enough that Draco was soundly asleep, when he unpackaged the diary that Lucius Malfoy had sent him. It was a rather plain, ordinary book: black leather cover, and seemingly from a variety shop in London. Harry flicked open the first page, and blinked in surprise: there was already a name there! T.M. Riddle. Harry thought it odd and idly wondered whether it had belonged to a friend of Lucius Malfoy.
As Harry flicked through the pages, he saw that they were all blank. He turned back to the first page, and dipped a quill into his inkwell.
My name is Corvus Black, although my real name is Harry Potter. While Harry wondered whether writing down the secret of his identity was a good idea, he noticed something rather odd starting to occur: the words he had wrote seemed to be slowly swallowed by the page until they were completely vanished. Bewildered, Harry leant down to inspect the book more closely before yelping in sudden surprise.
Hello Harry Potter. My name is Tom Riddle.
And that concludes chapter thirteen! I'd like to do something a little unorthodox in this note, and promote my other story that I recently started: What Is Left Behind.
What is Left Behind is a post-hogwarts story that looks into the relationships of the main trio, their romances, and their attempts to fit into a world that has not given them time to return to normal life. I'm rather happy with the first chapter, and would greatly appreciate it if you checked it out!