Grimdark
Chapter 01 – Hello, Goodbye

It was the worst thing that could happen. He'd been expecting bad as soon as he stepped into that accursed maze; but this, he'd never even considered this. A shame on his limited imagination.

Cedric was dead; this he had considered. It was hard not to in a tournament infamous not for its winners, but its survivors. Death was something he'd given much consideration, not least of which, his own; something that might not be far off.

Strong cords bound him hand and foot to a massive grave marker. The sort of grave marker that would have been ostentatious in its own time, which spoke much to future generations what the person buried beneath it thought of themselves.

Many such markers dotted the grounds as far as he could see. Beneath the stones in the mist covered earth the last remains for generations groaned dissent, much as they'd done in life. Talk of maggots and gossip of the latest worms rolled in endless complaint over the family marked Riddle.

A large cauldron boiled amidst the graves, tended by the sniveling servant of the last son of the otherwise dead family. Into the cauldron he went; a deformed sort of grub, and as in a million other times, mirrors of the moment through innumerable iterations, the ritual began.

Bone of the father, rudely ripped from the earth and cast to the cauldron. Flesh of the servant, a hand removed with a piteous wail. And the blood of the enemy, a fourteen year old boy, bound to a stone, helpless to avert the event unfolding before him.

Smoke poured and the cauldron roiled as foul magic congealed, took form, and did what nature had never intended be done. The dead returned to life.

"Robe me."

The verminous servant, bowing and scraping did as bade, covering his masters nakedness. And for a moment all was still; the world held its breath; fear, anticipation, silence.

"Ah, Harry."

He'd been noticed. The end was nigh. Or so he believed, as the dark lord stepped from the cauldron and approached with an even, flowing stride.

"Harry Potter. Properly, we meet at last."

A million thought rushed through his mind; curses, insults, witty quips. None of them seemed sufficient, none could express the things he needed to express. None, save, "Why?"

"Hmm, what was that?"

"Why?" he repeated with greater force.

"Why? You mean why kidnap you? Why did I kill your parents? Why did you, and you alone, of all my victims survive?"

"Yes."

The dark lord chuckled, "You don't ask for much, do you."

Turning from the boy who had not long to live, "Wormtail, your arm. No, the other one."

With a fallen face, he offered his whole arm; the hideous mark as clear and vibrant as the day it was placed came to life under the dark lords wand.

The call was sent, and soon they came. Foul men; powerful men; the unknown or well acquitted, the survivors of the aftermath. Black cloaks and white skull masks, they came; the few, the fearful, the death eaters.

Harry recognized them from the world cup. He struggled against his bindings but it was no good. He was trapped, forced to watch as the dark lord went around chastising the men who had come for their questionable faith.

Some names he recognized; Goyle, Rookwood, Malfoy. They were powerful men; influential, well-connected, and all cowered before the misshapen thing that was their 'beloved' dark lord, flesh once more.

"I returned to you," the traitor sniveled.

Harry openly scoffed, knowing better even than Voldemort how loyal the rat was; what really sent him scurrying back to his vile master. There was however, some compassion in the thing that had once been Tom Riddle. The silver hand he produced to replace the one sacrificed was an impressive piece of magic. More theatrics; flexing in front of his minions.

"Now, it is time. Go, fetch the things from the house, quickly."

Pettigrew took off at a loping run; peculiar sort of thing yet entirely appropriate to the one doing it.

"He is rather useful you know," said the dark lord, his tone conversational as he calmly circled his prey.

"He's a bloody coward," Harry spat.

"Exactly. Cowards are very useful, and most people are cowards to some degree. It's just a matter of knowing what they fear. Know this, and you can make them do anything."

Pettigrew returned with surprising speed, much to Voldemort's delight. "Excellent Peter. Now my friends, let us put the past behind us. All is forgiven. Rise, rise and make ready. Nott, you were here the last time, and Rookwood. Prepare the circle. Let us make ready to send Mr. Potter on his way."

The death eaters burst into activity. Black and red candles were placed about a swiftly inscribed chalk circle. Strange shapes were added and filled with items whose purpose Harry couldn't even begin to guess at. He suspected they weren't pleasant though.

"Amazing isn't it?" The dark lord watched his minions with a smile akin to a proud father. It seemed painfully unnatural on his distorted face. "The vast potential of magic, truly a sight to behold."

"Looks like a lot of junk in a circle," which it did to someone who'd never studied rituals, like Harry.

Voldemort frowned, "I suppose I should expect that from you. The tragic result of a Hogwarts education.

"Do you know they used to teach a number of subjects no longer offered. They proved too challenging for some, too dangerous for others. Yet they still 'teach' divination."

Something in the way he shook his head at 'divination' caught Harry's attention. The quirk of the lip, rueful almost. "Don't tell me you took divination."

"Merlin no!" he scoffed. "The teacher was a fraud, a fact she herself fully acknowledged. Still," he allowed, "perhaps if I had, we would not be here right now."

"Master, preparations are complete."

"Excellent. Begin the chant. Malfoy, you lead. The rest of you join in when you can."

"What're they doing?" He was afraid to know the answer, but at the same time his curiosity was piqued.

"Opening a portal," the dark lord explained, "so we may send you on your way."

"You're not going to kill me?" slipped out before he could thing about it.

When he put it that way Harry wondered if he should be hoping for him to try.

"No Harry, there are powers involved beyond either our understanding. In so many ways we are bound together, you and I. Blood, battle, and perhaps most importantly, prophecy."

"WHAT!"

"Yes, sounds absurd, doesn't it. You see, I went after your family, because I was brought a part of a prophecy that led me to believe you would be my downfall. And in my haste to avoid that fate, I ran head long into it. Funny, don't you think?"

No, he did not. He couldn't even believe what he was hearing. "That's why you murdered my parents, some stupid prophecy?"

"No, only part of a stupid prophecy." He wore an insufferable grin, like it were all some great joke. Harry couldn't find the humor, it had gone into hiding when the wind started picking up.

"I admit, it was a foolish thing to do. Acting with incomplete information. There's no faster way to failure Harry." The dark lord shouted over the howling wind, seemingly oblivious to the flashing and twisting of space behind him.

"It's possible I could kill you Harry. But then again, perhaps not. Thanks to our friend Peter, I now know the prophecy, in full. I won't bore you with the details, we haven't time, but the short of it is, so long as one of us lives, the other cannot survive."

"So why not kill me?" Harry shouted, the wind now screaming at a frightful pitch.

"Perhaps I could. But I failed once, your mother, granting you protection with her sacrifice. Perhaps I could kill you, but I see no reason to try my luck twice, when there are better options."

Upon saying this, the warping space broke and a crack appeared in the universe. Harry felt the heat on his face, stifling; it stole his breath and he gasped for air but it all tasted of dust and sulfur.

"What—is…" he tried to ask but the assault on his biological breathing apparatus hindered his inquiry.

"You were raised by muggles Harry, surely you must know. Shouldn't the sulfur and brimstone by sufficient clue."

"What are you talking about!" he screamed, fear overcoming survival instinct in the face of the universe breaking before him.

"I believe it was likely the inspiration for the Christian realm of eternal punishment."

A smile lit the dark lords face as realization struck Harry like a freight truck.

"That's right Harry. I'm sending you to hell. And when you are gone there will be no one to stand in my way. All Britain will bow, and then the world."

He screamed as the dark lord began to laugh; fought with all his strength when the grave statue rose and began floating toward the crack.

"Goodbye Harry Potter. Safe journey."

Screaming to beat the wind, Harry Potter was hurled into another world, the break in the universe sealing shut swiftly behind him. And in the following silence, the dark lord did smile.

"The world is mine."