Title: Endless Cycle
Category: Harry Potter
Warnings: Swearing, as usual. Hey, did you expect anything else from me?
A/N 1: No, this is NOT HP/LV, as you'll see at the end.
* * * * *
It was dark.
It was dark and cold.
It was dark, cold, and absolutely full of dementors.
These were the observations of one Harry Potter as he sat in his dark, cold, but for once dementor-free cell in the place known as Azkaban.
A scream rang out, pain-filled and desperate, before subsiding into broken sobs; Harry didn't even flinch. Such things were common here, after all, and only a month in this hellhole were more than enough to accustom him to despair.
A month. Four weeks. Thirty-odd days. Why did he even bother to count? It wasn't like he was ever getting out. The penalty for using an Unforgivable was life and sanity, even if it was on a Death Eater who was trying to kill you, and unlike Sirius, Harry didn't have his innocence to keep him sane.
He figured he'd lose track of sanity soon enough.
There was one thing that kept him functioning, though. Harry smiled. The expression on Bellatrix Lestrange's face as the emerald light rushed towards him had almost been worth it. Not quite, but almost.
Suddenly the sixteen-year-old paled, twisting his head about in terror as the zone of hopelessness that heralded the approach of a dementor descended on he and his fellow inmates.
Then Harry was gone, spiraling down into a darkness filled with screams and pleas for a mercy that never came.
* * * * *
An eternity had passed before Harry came back to himself, or maybe only a moment- it could just as easily have been both, or neither. He blinked and stretched his lips in what might almost have been termed a smile. Closer to an eternity, judging by the multiple inches added to his hair.
So that was what it felt like to go insane.
It had been exhilarating, if a bit unpleasant. Rather like that time he and Weasley drank too much firewhiskey in Hogsmeade. Nice while it lasted, but the next day you swore never to do it again.
Harry blinked again. Since when had Ron become Weasley?
… since he betrayed you…
The young wizard frowned. He wouldn't exactly call it betrayal, since Harry was technically guilty.
…No! He should have saved you, he betrayed you… they all betrayed you…
Hmm. Harry would have to think about this for a while. After all, it really was an interesting train of thought.
… betrayed… always betrayed…
* * * * *
The cold woke Harry, snapping him brutally back to reality as his shuddering gasps echoed through the tiny cell.
The once savior of the wizarding world was now a pitiful wreck. Long strands of filthy hair hung from a deathly pale face, shadowing eyes that held more than a hint of madness from behind the same old glasses. Very little was left of the Gryffindor Golden Boy. All that had been frozen out of him by months? years? in this place. Along with all hopes, all dreams, all emotions- save one.
At first, it was just the Death Eaters and their Master that he hated, and maybe the Dursleys. That wasn't enough, so his hate expanded to those who had left him here- Weasley, Granger, Dumbledore… the list was endless.
Even that had soon become inadequate. Now there was only one person he truly hated- himself.
No, not himself. If he hated himself he would have committed suicide, by starvation, maybe. No, he hated… Harry Potter. The Boy-Who-Lived. That stupid-ass title and the person who went with it.
Him Harry would have cheerfully strangled with his bare hands for messing up his life.
Without warning, his musing was interrupted. A booming clang echoed even through the thick stone walls, and Harry realized someone was walking down the corridor towards his cell. He watched as a shadow covered the small window in his cell door, and the rusty hinges creaked open, revealing the last person he expected to see, particularly alone. "You!" His voice was rusty, but still clear.
Lord Voldemort smiled wryly. "Me."
The Dark Lord had changed a lot from when Harry had seen him in the graveyard, or even in the Department of Mysteries. Nothing remained of his inhuman appearance save for his crimson eyes, though that, combined with the odd smile, was enough to make him seriously creepy.
The young wizard struggled to sit up, malnutrition and his lack of exercise making him weak. "B-but where-?"
Voldemort's smile widened. "Are my minions? They're freeing the other prisoners. This needed to be… private." Uneasiness flashed through Harry as the dark wizard knelt, bring his eyes nearly level with the prisoner's. "You see, Harry, I came here because I wanted to offer you an… opportunity."
"I'm not going to join you." If there was one thing Harry's disordered mind was still sure of, it was that he'd never serve someone else.
The Dark Lord didn't seem to be offended, though. "I never expected you to. You are far too proud to bow to another." He gazed at the young man through narrowed eyes and leaned forward. "Tell me, Harry, do you hate them?"
Harry hesitated, a bit confused. "… No. I used to, but not any more." He cocked his head to the side, curious. "Why are you calling me Harry? It was always Potter before."
"Because you are no longer Potter," Voldemort said, his face turning serious. "You are yourself now."
Well, this conversation was definitely taking a turn for the odd. Frowning, Harry decided to ask another question. "Why… why are you being so… nice?"
Voldemort laughed, and the boy shuddered slightly. "Isn't it obvious? I want something from you."
Ah, of course. "What do you want, then?"
"I want to know who you hate the most."
Now this was one Harry could answer without even thinking about it. "Harry Potter."
The Dark Lord leaned back, apparently satisfied and not at all surprised. "I was hoping you would say that. Now, if I told you I could give you the chance to get back at him, what would you do?"
Harry shrugged and stood shakily, feeling a little bit of hope for the first time since he'd stepped on the shores of this island. "If it didn't involve serving you, just about anything in my power." He blinked, looking cynically around at his cell. "Not that I have a lot of that right now."
Voldemort smiled again, softly, almost fondly. "Well, then." He stood as well and drew his wand, waving it in a complicated pattern as melodious, sibilant chanting filled the tiny cell.
Harry watched in curiosity as the corners of the cell blurred, and began to take on a grayish hue. After a minute, Voldemort stopped and placed the wand back in his robes, and turned to the boy. He stepped forward and looked down at Harry, sighing. "I know you don't understand, but you will soon. Soon you'll understand everything."
The former prisoner stared in shocked amazement as his 'archenemy' leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on his forehead, before walking out of the cell with a quiet whisper. "Be strong, Harry…"
For a moment more Harry stood, wondering if that had really just happened or if he was utterly and completely insane. Then all rumination ceased as the walls vanished, and his vision went gray, then black.
* * * * *
The pressure was almost unbearable.
Harry was being squeezed from every side, so hard he couldn't breathe. Not that he could breathe anyway, since there seemed to be a distinct lack of oxygen wherever that spell had sent him. It was nice and warm, though, and the wizard would have enjoyed it after the chill of Azkaban if it hadn't been for that little matter of suffocation.
It was odd, though, how the pressure kept coming in waves. Something about that tugged at his memory, as though if he could take the time and think about it, he'd be able to figure out where he was, but the surges kept forcing him backwards.
Harry could feel his lungs about to explode just as he felt cool air on the back of his head, and his face slid out of whatever it was he had only just realized was confining him. He opened his mouth and gasped in the fresh air, only to open his eyes in surprise as a thin wail unexpectedly tore from his lips.
There is something very wrong here… The wizard was almost panicking with the discovery that his eyes wouldn't focus, before he realized he didn't have his glasses. Mind you, that wasn't the only thing that was wrong, but unmovable limbs didn't have quite the urgency of the possibility of being blind.
Harry whimpered as an enormous sound blasted his ears, eventually reconciling itself into recognizable words. "Alright, dearie, now just give us another good push…"
He whimpered again as the pressure around the lower half of his body increased, shoving him back, until abruptly he was falling. If he'd been able, Harry would have screamed, but then the fall was arrested by a pair of… hands?
Oh, shit… There was no fucking way someone could be that big. Even the giants were only about four times the height of a human, so the only way this could be happening…
Was if he was very, very small.
It was only then that everything clicked, and he knew why someone was reaching over him with a sharp scalpel and why there was a sudden, sharp pain in his navel.
He was a baby.
A fucking baby.
Harry fumed silently as someone- presumably a nurse- set him down on a metal surface, so cold it nearly burned. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but considering he was rather pissed at the moment…
"Why, what a big boy! He's almost four kilograms!" The same voice rang out above him, far too cheerfully for the wizard's state of mind. People, in his experience, were only that happy when they were getting something they wanted or when they were completely, utterly miserable and not wanting to show it because that would make someone else miserable.
Odd, how rarely you heard the latter.
The hands lifted him up again, and Harry flushed unnoticeably as another wail escaped his throat. Why the bloody hell couldn't he stop making that infernal racket?
"Here you go, love, a beautiful baby boy…" the nurse crooned, and he found himself deposited into someone's arms. The arms tightened around him, and Harry blinked in shock as his eyes at last focused on his mothers? face.
A wealth of midnight hair framed the woman's pale face, and deep blue eyes gazed lovingly down into Harry's own. Her lips parted in a soft 'O' of surprise. "He has his father's eyes…"
"And your hair, it looks like, dovey." The nurse reached down and tugged gently on his hair. "Except it looks like it might be a bit more manageable."
His mother laughed softly, kissing Harry on the forehead. "You know, it almost looks like he's looking back at me."
The nurse laughed with her. "Don't be silly, dear! Babies don't learn how to focus their eyes for at least a week."
She smiled dubiously. "If you say so…" Then she closed her eyes, and Harry felt a shudder pass through her. "I… I'm not going to make it, am I?"
The other woman sighed, looking away sadly, and the wizard suddenly realized with a shock that this was what she'd been trying to hide behind her smiles. "…No, I'm afraid you… aren't. You were… too hurt when you came here, and your body isn't strong enough, especially after laboring that long."
Seeing the sorrow in her patient's face, the nurse sighed. "Please, dearie, won't you tell me who hurt you? We could help you-"
"No!" Harry blinked again as his mother's sapphire eyes hardened, and denial filled her face. "No," she repeated, more softly. "He loves me, he loves me and he'll always love me…"
"Alright! Alright, love, you don't have to tell me. Just…" The woman wiped a tear from her eyes, looking down at her tiny patient. Her gaze drifted down, until it rested on Harry. "So, what'll you be naming the little tyke, then?" she asked brightly.
Harry's mother- damn, but that sounded odd- glanced down, her expression instantly softening as she smiled at her child. "I think… yes, I'll name him after his father." She gathered him closer to her chest, turning her smile up a few watts. "Thomas."
"My little Tom Marvolo Riddle."
* * * * *
A/N: This is just a little one-shot I wrote the first half of a year ago and then finished tonight. At least, it's a one-shot unless I manage to pull a sequel out of my vacuum-for-a-brain, which I will only try for if you want me to.
If you have any questions, just review and include your e-mail address, and I'll answer when I can.