AN: I got an idea and it just didn't. Let. Go. Just wrote this entire prologue in one single sitting, and I already know where I want to take the story. I also expect it to be roughly 50k words in length – though it could realistically be anything between 30k and 100k – so I figured I should just make this my Camp Nano project instead. So, I won't be writing nearly as much Recursion, but instead you get a story that is – hopefully – finished by the end of the month.

Disclaimer: I do not own anything Harry Potter-related.


Prologue: In the Graveyard


"Stun the other."

A red flash, and Cedric fell to the ground, unconscious. Before Harry had time to react, red light flashed again, and his wand flew out of his hand, caught by the hooded man. A sequence of "Immobulus, Wingardium Leviosa, Incarcerous" tied Harry to a gravestone. Shocked, Harry noticed the name on it. Tom Riddle.

Riddle, of course, had been Voldemort's real surname. He'd met a younger version of her – when she still called herself Tess Riddle – in the Chamber of Secrets two years ago.

As the hooded man continued his work, Harry noticed he was missing a finger of his hand, and with shock he realized it was Wormtail, and the words of prophecy shot through his mind. The Dark Lady will rise again with her servant's aid, greater and more powerful than ever she was.

In horror, he watched as the ritual unfolded. Bone of the father. Flesh of the servant. Blood of the enemy. And thus Lady Voldemort rose again. Impatiently, she demanded Wormtail to clothe her, and then she stepped out of the cauldron, and Harry looked at his greatest fear. The visage of his nemesis was paler than bone, accentuated by bright red eyes. She had two slits where her nose should be, and was completely bald. The woman looked him over and got a pale wand out of her robes as she smiled and pointed it at him.

"What a lovely evening."

Harry struggled in his bonds, but was unable to move even an inch.

"Stupefy. Expelliarmus. Rennervate."

The wand moved so fast it appeared like a blur in Harry's eyes as Wormtail fell to the ground and Cedric's wand flew to Voldemort's hand just as he woke up.

"There was not supposed to be a second," Voldemort said, looking at Cedric. "No matter, we'll work it out." She waved her wand at Harry, and the ropes vanished.

"Harry Potter, we've met before, of course. Please, stand, you cannot be in a comfortable position like that. And you must be Cedric Diggory, right?"

Harry strengthened his resolve as he stood. "Voldemort," he growled, causing Cedric to gasp. "What do you want from me?"

Voldemort returned a smile and conjured two chairs. "To talk. Please, sit down, both of you. You've had a hard day with that maze and I wouldn't want you to fall over." She grinned, a truly frightening sight. "Meanwhile, I'm bursting with energy and life, so please don't mind that I will remain upright for the moment."

Wary and not having much of a choice, Harry moved to one of the chairs and sat down. Cedric, looking about as suspicious, did the same.

"Now, where to start…" Voldemort muttered, pacing back and forth. "You'd think I know what to say after more than a decade to think about it." Absentmindedly, she shot a spell at Wormtail's bleeding stump, which immediately dried up. "I suppose the first thing I should tell you is that catching a Killing Curse – even a rebounding one – does wonders for one's sanity. You're probably better off forgetting everything you know about me. It may have been true in the past, but it won't be in the future." She waved her wand again and a third chair appeared, opposite Harry and Cedric, and she sat down in a ladylike posture, legs crossed.

"And, more than anything, I owe you an apology, Harry Potter. Over time, the choices I have made have led me down a path that culminated in the murder of your parents, leaving you an orphan. As an orphan myself, I know just how much you have missed in life. I'm sorry."

Harry gaped at her. What was she trying to do? He was at her mercy, and she didn't kill him – she wasn't even gloating, like the last two times they'd met. And beyond that, she was looking him straight in the eye, and either she was an even better actor than Harry thought – which really was quite possible – or she was actually sincere.

"What do you want?" he asked again. Cedric still hadn't spoken.

"During my life," Voldemort spoke, "I saw myself forced, at times, to take regrettable actions. I believed them to be necessary for my own safety, or to alleviate some of the fears I had. Some of the choices I made caused something else. You see, over time, I started to go insane. You know the rest, as does everyone else. However, then came that Halloween night. The prophecy spoke of a person who could be a threat to me—"

"Prophecy?" Harry asked.

Voldemort looked at him, confused. "Dumbledore never told you? There is a prophecy foretelling that 'the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lady approaches'. I will admit I do not know the entire prophecy, you'd have to ask Dumbledore about that, as he witnessed it. To get back on track – I believed you to be a threat because of what the prophecy said, so I decided to kill you. I'm not entirely certain what your mother did, but it created a protection powerful enough to reflect the Killing Curse I threw at you to myself. If it weren't for the… precautions I had taken, it would've killed me like it would have killed anyone else. It did not, however. It only reduced me to a wraith – as I'm sure you're aware, considering we met three years ago. More importantly, however, it restored my sanity. Let me tell you that sudden sanity after terrorizing a country for a decade is…" She paused, looking for the right word. "Agonizing. I've spent several months barely able to form coherent thought after that Halloween. When I got out of that, I started thinking about the situation here in Britain."

She looked at the teenagers for a moment.

"I've heard… snippets, during the last year, but tell me, what do you think about House Slytherin? Don't mince your words, I know the truth."

"Close-minded bigots," Cedric said.

Voldemort nodded. "When I'd reached the point where I had lost enough of my sanity to come to believe it was a good idea to overthrow the government, I needed to find a way to gather followers. Now, I'm not sure if you're aware, but I am actually a halfblood myself. My father" – she gestured to the grave Wormtail had defiled earlier – "was a muggle, while my mother was a near-squib from an inbred line, who died giving birth to me. I was raised in a muggle orphanage. For all intents and purposes, except a maternal relationship to Slytherin, no matter how remote, I'm muggleborn. Do you know why I chose pureblood supremacy to gather people to my banner?"

Despite who he was listening to, Harry found himself interested. "No?" he asked, urging her to go on.

"Because the powerful, rich families believe in it," Voldemort said as she stood up and started pacing again. "The Malfoys, the Lestranges, the Blacks – most of them –, and so on. By declaring myself in favor of blood superiority, I gained allegiance from a powerful segment of the population. Now that I'm a little more sane, I find myself not looking at ways to gain power, but rather at how it was so easy for me to gain it before. Do you know the conclusion I've come to?"

She looked at Harry and Cedric for a few seconds before continuing.

"The Magical British society is rotten, with or without my influence. On top of that, the Ministry is corrupt enough to basically leave those people in charge – look no further than Lucius Malfoy for proof of that." An unsettling smile came over her face. "Wouldn't it be nice if those bigots would find themselves killed participating in illegal activities? A raid gone wrong, an insane Dark Lady killing them for their failures, maybe some infighting, or a few tragic accidents… I think you know what I'm getting at, don't you?"

"You want to fake a war to get the Death Eaters killed?" Harry asked.

She nodded.

"I don't believe you. I saw you in first year, when you were trying to get the Stone. You tried to kill me!"

She shook her head. "You still had your mother's protection, Harry. I knew full well I could not kill you. I will admit I attempted to steal the Stone and regain a body in that manner – it was easier than this method I used today. When you entered that room, I knew Dumbledore would not be far behind, and I had already created my plan to get the Death Eaters killed in war at the time, so I knew I would need him to see me as an enemy. The man means well, but he lacks the hardness to do what must be done. Though, I believe I should apologize for that day too. Until the physical contact actually happened, I had not realized how much power it would take out of you. If I had known, I would have delayed longer and 'fled' when Dumbledore caught up."

"And you also opened the Chamber!" Harry said. "You killed Myrtle!"

Cedric looked at him, confused.

"Ah," Voldemort sighed. "Yes, I did open the Chamber. In a way, that was the first big mistake I made. I had no intention of actually killing anyone at the time, you know. It was… a plaything, for me. When Myrtle died, it became completely different for me, and I reacted wrong. If you know about the Chamber, I suppose you've encountered my diary?"

Harry nodded.

"I'd hoped Lucius would be smart enough to keep it with him until I returned and could take it back. At least I hope no one died this time?"

Harry shook his head. "Only petrifications. The girl that got possessed by the diary almost died, though."

"But she didn't? What happened?"

Harry was about to answer when he remembered who he was talking to, upon which he decided to keep his mouth shut.

Voldemort sighed and nodded. "It's okay. We can leave that story for another day. When Myrtle died, I was afraid someone would discover the truth and I would be executed for it. I had already been looking into various ways of immortality because it intrigued me, and I had come across a method of immortality that seemed almost tailored to my situation. It required very little, apart from a murder and a few actions that I will not repeat. The murder had already been committed, even if I hadn't meant for it to happen, and the other actions, no matter how vile, did not require me to harm anyone. I performed the ritual, and put part of my soul into my diary. As long as the diary existed, I would be immortal." She gave a wry smile. "If only the book would have mentioned the ritual took away part of my sanity…"

"But the diary is gone!" Harry said. "Why aren't you dead then?"

"Because, idiot that I am, I thought it was a good idea to repeat the ritual several more times. You see, the first ritual made me hateful enough that I killed my father when I found out he was still alive and had never even looked for me. With his death, I created the second. That made me insane enough to kill to make a third, and by that point I'd started to believe I was so far above everyone else that I deserved to rule Magical Britain. But our talk is starting to take too long. I intend to send you back to Hogwarts, Harry, and spin a nice tale about my resurrection, how I called the Death Eaters here, and how we dueled and you somehow managed to escape. As for you, Cedric… I hadn't ever intended for you to be here, Harry was supposed to win the tournament on his own, but I could use some help from people who don't believe in blood supremacy. Are you willing to fake your death for the coming years? I will personally train you, so you don't need to worry about that. By the time I'm done with you, only me, Bellatrix, Dumbledore and maybe Harry here will be able to match you."

"You're… letting us go?" Harry asked in disbelief.

"Yes," Voldemort said, plainly. "I've killed enough people, now it's time for me to save some."

"Fake my death?" Cedric asked.

"If I had still been insane, you would never even have survived until my resurrection. If we want to keep up appearances, people will have to believe you're dead. And… well, the Death Eaters can hardly be killed in action if they don't get any action, so I will have to send them on raids and things like that. If I would have someone – or perhaps even multiple people – on hand to make sure no innocents were caught in them, that would help immensely. So it would help me out twice." She sighed. "Actually, I don't think I'm willing to let you leave, no matter the circumstances. I'm sorry for not giving you a choice here, but if people start to suspect my goals have changed, it might all fall apart. And once again, I will personally train you."

"This is just a ruse, isn't it?" Cedric said. "I… I don't trust you. No, I'd rather die than serve you."

Voldemort sighed. "Do you two know what an Unbreakable Vow is?"

Cedric nodded, but Harry shook his head.

"It's basically what the name implies," Voldemort told Harry. "A Vow that cannot be broken. Trying to do so kills the one who speaks the Vow. It requires three people. One to request the terms of the Vow, one to agree to it, and one to cast it. I can command Wormtail to cast the Vow for us, as I intend to obliviate him anyway – he, too, is to believe Cedric is dead."

"What… what would the terms of the Vow be?" Cedric asked.

"The exact wording is up to you, obviously, but I would suggest something along the lines of 'do you, Tess Riddle, guarantee I, Cedric Diggory, will not need to participate in any activities commonly associated with Death Eaters, and do you guarantee I will not need to support the phenomenon commonly known as 'blood superiority'?' Would that do?"

"What proof do I have that 'Tess Riddle' is your real name?"

"It is," Harry said. "Dumbledore confirmed it to me two years ago."

Cedric nodded. "I will do it then, seeing as you're not giving me the choice to walk away."

Voldemort pointed her wand at Pettigrew. "Rennervate, Confundus. Wormtail, you are to cast an Unbreakable Vow for me and Cedric Diggory here. And give me Harry Potter's wand."

Wormtail walked to the trio, dazed by the Confundus Charm, and handed over the wand, standing ready for the Vow. Voldemort stuck out her hand, and Cedric, still somewhat wary, clasped it, then started talking.

"Do you, Tess Riddle, guarantee that I, Cedric Diggory, will not need to participate in any activities commonly associated with Death Eaters?"

"I guarantee it."

A ribbon of fire shot out from Wormtail's wand and spun around the clasped hands.

"And do you guarantee I will not need to support the phenomenon commonly known as 'blood superiority' in any way?"

"I guarantee it."

A second ribbon released.

When Cedric did not ask for anything more, the ribbons started writhing around their hands for several seconds, until sinking into the skin, and they unclasped their hands. Voldemort pointed her wand as Wormtail once again. "Obliviate. Stupefy." The rat fell to the ground.

"I'll have to obliviate him again after we're done here," Voldemort muttered. "Ah well, I didn't want to risk him getting any ideas in the meantime. Traitor. Time for the final part. We're going to send you back to Hogwarts, Harry, and you're going to have to spin some lies. About how Cedric got killed on arrival, my resurrection, the arrival of the Death Eaters and your miraculous escape. It may be hard to keep it consistent, however, and I have absolutely no intention to give you fake memories of any kind. The thing is, I have heard that you can throw off the Imperius Curse. Is that correct?"

"Uh, yes…"

"With the knowledge you can end it at any time, are you willing to be put under it to make certain the story you tell is such that it corresponds to my old methods?"

Harry hesitated. "Is that safe?"

Voldemort chuckled. "You only have my word to take for it, but after tonight I hope you have an idea of my newfound priorities. Yes, it is completely safe, and is in fact a strategy I have employed in the past to allow for better coordination when working together with another person in situations where conversation is not possible. As long as the target does not resist, it is really easy for the caster of the curse to control both bodies. And as soon as you do resist… Well, I'll have to either let go or risk either the people around you or the Death Eaters around me noticing something is wrong. Oh, and before you get worried, I will obliviate the Death Eaters so they will remember the same story I will be telling through you. Can't have loose ends like that sticking around."

"And what if you're not giving me active orders?" Harry asked.

"Then you won't notice anything different. The default state of the Imperius is to just continue doing what you'd normally do. You will do nothing out of the ordinary unless I prompt you to do so and you either cannot or will not resist." She smiled. "From what I heard, the 'cannot resist' isn't much of a problem for you."

She reached into her robes, where she'd hidden Harry's wand, and was about to give it to him when she gasped. A single wave caused a spray of golden sparks.

"I've never come across a wand so compatible with me as this one," Voldemort said. "Do you happen to know anything about that?" She handed it over.

"Mr. Ollivander said our wands have a core from the same phoenix," Harry admitted.

"We do?" Voldemort asked. "Take a few steps backward and send a stunner at me. I'll counter with a stunner of my own. I want to see what happens."

Harry did as she instructed. The moment the red beam shot from his wand, another shot from Voldemort's wand – only she had bothered with neither an incantation nor any wand movement. The beams met in the middle, and turned golden as Harry's wand started vibrating heavily. Just as Harry felt like he was starting to lift off the ground, Voldemort snapped the connection away by pulling her wand.

"Interesting," she said. "Once all this is over, we should look into it more. I bet people like Ollivander and Dumbledore would love to watch the effects. Well, we really should get to it. Are you ready, Harry?"

"How do I get back?"

"The Trophy is a portkey. Imperio."

That sensation of bliss washed over him like it had before when Moody had put him under the spell. Rather than throw it off, he let it rule him… and then it disappeared.

"Did… did I throw it off by accident?" Harry asked, confused.

Voldemort remained silent as she stepped up to him, closer than she had before, and brushed his hair back. She was just a little taller than him, allowing her to inspect his scar without having to stand on her toes.

"What's wrong?" Harry asked.

"Interesting…" Voldemort muttered, not replying. She stepped back and her eyes went blank as she stared into the distance, focusing on something Harry couldn't see.

Hello.

Harry jumped. Where had that voice come from? In front of him, Voldemort smiled.

"Remember what I told you about putting pieces of my soul in various items to ensure my immortality?" Harry nodded, and Voldemort continued. "I had meant to do that again when I came to kill you in 1981, and had already done the preparations. I think the rebounding Killing Curse wedged the piece of my soul that I would use loose, and it instead attached to you. That seems to have established a connection between us, which could be very useful in the times to come. A form of mental communication between us… We'll be playing both sides of the chess board, Harry."

Harry wasn't so enthusiastic about having a connection to Voldemort, even if she seemed to have changed a lot from the Voldemort everyone knew. Then, a horrific possibility entered his mind.

"Wait… if those pieces of your soul make sure you can't die, does that mean you cannot die unless I die first?"

Voldemort nodded. "Unless someone would find a way to separate my soulpiece from your body, yes. But for that matter… Do you know why I went through the effort of getting you through that tournament and making sure I used your blood for my resurrection, Harry?"

He shook his head.

"Two reasons. First, having you blood in my veins cancels out the protection your mother gave you. I was certain it would become inconvenient at one point or another if I didn't do that. But more importantly, it gives you a protection. As long as I am alive in this body, you are also bound to this world. If someone wants to kill you, Harry, I have to lose this body first. And believe me, I'd rather not become a wraith again. But shall we send you back now?"

Harry nodded. As long as I am alive in this body, you are also bound to this world. That was basically a promise she would never turn against him. Suddenly, the bliss of the Imperius Curse returned – he hadn't even noticed the incantation – and he followed it's orders. Voldemort had transfigured some rubble into a perfect lookalike of Cedric, except - obviously - appearing quite dead, and Harry grabbed it before taking the Cup in his other hand. The jerk behind his navel pulled him away from the graveyard, back to Hogwarts.


AN: For those wondering, Voldemort noticed a second soul when she put Harry under the Imperius, that's how she discovered the horcrux.