A/N: This is my first fanfic, and it's been floating around in my head for ages, but I can never decide how to do the first chapter. Hopefully I've managed it now, with the help of a couple of blinding flashes of insight.

Disclaimer: JKR really did write the HP series, it wasn't Martians in disguise.

–––––––––––––

Prologue

–––––––––––––

1996

Harry's summer activities had always been rather unusual: everything from escaping from his relatives in a flying car to fighting Dementors sent after him by the government.

But this topped them all.

Stealing records from the Department of Mysteries.

With a little planning, it wasn't too hard: he had sneaked past the Order guards at Privet Drive under his invisibility cloak, summoned the Knight Bus, gone to Diagon Alley where the Ministry couldn't trace the several anti-detection charms he had then cast on himself, walked two miles to the Ministry building, entered through the visitor entrance and followed the route he had taken two weeks ago. Knowing it was probable that there were wards placed on the records similar to the ones that had put Broderic Bode in St. Mungo's, Harry had used an assortment of muggle tools to avoid touching anything or setting off magic detectors.

As he read through the information on the Veil, it soon became apparent that Dumbledore had not told him the truth, and why. The Veil's actual name was the Carcer Negra, or Black Prison; it was made by an ancient Dark Lord and led to a magical space in which inmates were subjected to pain similar to the Cruciatus Curse and psychological torture similar to the effects of a Dementor, while at the same time being healed and nourished so that their minds remained intact and they did not die until they fell to old age. But the good news was that they could be gotten out; the rest of the bad news was that only a Dark Lord could get them out.

So Harry then replaced the records of the Veil and located the ones on Dark Lordship. According to the file, no one knew the origins of the Dark Lordship, but it could only be held by one wizard at a time and it increased the effects of any dark magic they used, and there were several artifacts designed for use by the Dark Lord, including the Veil. To become a dark lord, you had to kill the current one, and then you would be offered a choice of whether or not to accept Dark Lordship; if you refused it would then be offered to the wizard with the most raw power, and then the second, and so on. Dumbledore would have been offered it when he defeated Grindelwald, but he had obviously refused it, so it would have been offered to Tom Riddle.

As Harry left the Department of Mysteries, he vowed that he would get Sirius back, and it didn't matter how he did it.

–––––––––––––

1996

7:00 AM

Harry set Ritual Magic by Salazar Slytherin down as he reviewed the incantations for The Leaping for the tenth time. So far the book had been nothing but a string of surprises, and he really didn't want any while working a particularly dangerous (and stupid, a voice in the back of his head told him) ritual.

That Hermione had sent him a book containing extremely dark magic had been the least of the surprises; she thought that it would be good for him to study the rituals that Voldemort had likely used, to gain an idea of his strengths and weaknesses. That was all well and good (if rather unpleasant), but the animated snake on the cover was convinced that he was Salazar Slytherin, having apparently not realized that he wasn't the only parselmouth to have ever lived. Then when he'd actually gotten as far as opening the cover, Harry had seen Slytherin's handwriting; it was strangely familiar, as if he should have known who it was. It certainly wasn't like Voldemort's, or anyone else Harry could think of, but it really irked him that he couldn't place it.

Then Slytherin had dropped a bombshell on him with the first page; the Founding Snake had written that many rituals were 'black magic' and 'should only be studied for the advancement of knowledge, I myself have avoided using them and advise the reader to do so as well.' After further reading Harry had decided that 'white' was probably broader than 'light' and 'black' a little narrower than 'dark'; but it was still a shock to see one of the most famous dark wizards in history advising against dark magic.

Most of the white rituals dealt with increasing the caster's physical abilities, though there were several others such as the animagus transformation and one that would allow the caster to convert their magic into a specific element; although Slytherin said that it was impossible to increase your raw magical power. A quick glance at the black rituals (nearly all of which dealt with achieving immortality) had told Harry that he didn't want to even read any of them: most of them dealt with torture, rape, murder or sacrificing bits of your soul.

So far Harry had completed a strength enhancing ritual (his muscles didn't look any bigger, but he'd been quite pleased with the increase in strength) and the Animagus Transformation (his form was a displacer beast, a panther-like creature with human intelligence and the ability to turn invisible). The ritual Harry was about to perform was a particularly dangerous white ritual known as The Leaping; Slytherin had advised against it because of its danger but admitted to performing it himself. Harry was definitely going to find out more about Slytherin when he got the chance…

The Leaping could be cast up to seven times, and sent the caster to another time, but not into the future. Harry's plan was to travel into the past to train so he would be able to catch up with Voldemort and possibly become a dark lord himself, and so that Sirius did not have to suffer while he prepared to free him from the Carcer Negra.

Hopefully he wouldn't be ripped to pieces and scattered across several decades…

–––––––––––––

A/N: So, did I torture you by waiting so long to post or did I torture you by posting at all? I should have the next chapter up soon, it's mostly written.