Title: Comes Out of Darkness Morn.
Disclaimer: The recognizable characters, events, and settings in this story do not belong to me, but to J. K. Rowling. I intend no copyright infringement and am making no money from this story.
Warnings: Violence, language, references to rape and torture, messed-up psychology, character deaths later in this and other stories in the series.
Notes: Yes, I know I'm posting a day early. That's because I'll be traveling tomorrow, so I won't have time to write the chapter then.
Welcome to the third story in this crazy AU I'm writing. Comes Out of Darkness Morn will have references and resemblances to the canon plot of Prisoner of Azkaban, but it's moving further away from it than the first two stories did from their canon inspirations, because of the changes that have built up as the AU continues. Therefore, if you haven't, I strongly suggest you read Saving Connor and No Mouth But Some Serpent's before this story. Otherwise, COoDM will be nearly incomprehensible.
As a warning for this individual story: Except for the seventh one, which will cover the War, this is most likely the darkest in the series. Harry's plummeted to the bottom and has to work his way back up.
That's the reason the first chapter is like it is. Harry is telling it, and his mind is, um, kind of a mess right now, because of what happened at the end of NMBSS. It gets better, but it starts near the bottom. Onward!Chapter One: Reintegration
Twice in one week, all the windows in Malfoy Manor shattered. Once they broke and cracked and crazed in the shape of lightning bolts. The second time, they formed coiled serpents with Locusta markings. Harry played with them, the magic healing any wounds the glass inflicted on him as soon as they were made.
Narcissa came up beside him and repaired the windows each time, then led Harry away from the mess they'd made. Harry couldn't always remember just what she said, but later he thought there was pumpkin juice and Narcissa's voice telling stories of what had used to happen when she was a child in the Black family and lived with her sisters Bellatrix and Andromeda. They were always mild, cheerful stories. Harry listened to them, and sipped at whatever drink she gave him, and felt Draco standing as silent sentry beside the chair or the divan, until he fell asleep.
The star was five-armed, made of clear glass in the center and opaque, white glass towards the edges. Harry traced one finger away from the center and down to the points. They were sharp enough to cut. Of course they were. There would be no reason to have this gift in such a shape, otherwise.
Harry looked up and away from the star to Lucius's face. Draco's father stood, tensely, on the other side of the sitting room. He'd levitated the star to Harry rather than trying to bring it to him, considering that Draco and Narcissa both stood on either side of Harry and watched him suspiciously. But he had brought it. He was supposed to. The star was the Midsummer gift, the middle-of-the-year gift, the fifth gift in this strange dance he was doing with Harry which supposedly proclaimed he wanted a truce. He had sent a ring set with a piece of ice enchanted never to melt, and a green stone to symbolize the growth of new bonds. Harry had replied with a piece of ebony, indicating his distrust of Lucius's motives, and a red stone, to remind him of the blood that still lay between their families.
Harry gazed down at the star. The clarity of it told him how much Lucius trusted him, and the positioning of the clear patch in the center indicated that the trust could grow in any direction. Of course, since Harry still had no idea why Lucius had chosen to play this game, to pretend that he wanted a truce when he'd already hurt Harry by handing Tom Riddle's diary to him, that clear patch could mean anything. Lucius Malfoy was perfectly capable of playing along until something happened to benefit him, such as his Lord returning to life.
Harry had to reply to the star, or at least nod to show that he accepted the gift and would find a suitable reply later. He put a hand on the star and closed his eyes instead. His magic rushed to his command. It was still near the surface, churning and slashing at his thoughts whenever he wasn't using it. After so long confined, as Professor Snape had explained in one of the letters that came twice every week, it had a force of its own, nearly a personality. Harry had to use it. If he denied it, the way he had for years, then it would simply break free on its own. It had already done so, shattering all the windows in Malfoy Manor, as Harry dimly remembered.
Now, though, he could put it to a productive use, and he did so, altering the gift. As he gazed, strands of frost raced across the star, hardening it and obscuring the center, so that the glass was entirely opaque. He levitated it back to Lucius, carefully. He had to be careful with everything he did with magic lately. It took so little to rouse it to full, raw strength, at which point he smashed things. Finesse and control were far harder arts than summoning power.
Lucius accepted the star and gazed at the lack of a clear patch. Then he raised his eyes to Harry's face. He did not look offended. He merely nodded thoughtfully and turned to slip from the room.
Harry closed his eyes for just a moment, as he thought, but opened them in the bedroom the Malfoys had turned over to his use. The window was open, and he could smell the scent of roses through it. Sunlight streamed in, and the radiant songs of birds. Harry lay there and listened.
After a little while, Draco came in and put a hand on his arm. "Mother said I should go if you wanted me to," he whispered.
Harry let him stay. His hand was warmer than the sunlight, and even though Harry found it as hard to understand the things he talked about as it was to understand the birds, together they made a sharp and musical kind of sense.
Harry's memory was tattered and fogged, bits of webs clinging to each other the way they had before Sylarana died and took a large part of his sanity with her. But they suddenly tore away on one day towards the end of June, as he sat in the broad piano room and listened to Narcissa play.
Harry blinked and sat up. Narcissa looked over at him, but never stopped the graceful, swift motion of her fingers over the keys, or the low, crooning drone of her voice that accompanied it. She was teaching one of the history songs to Draco, the ones the purebloods had taught their children when the old ways had to be memorized and instinctive. Draco sat at the foot of the piano and gazed intently up at his mother, mouthing the words along with her. He was learning about the dance, the rights and rules of a host or a pureblooded wizard or witch on his or her own land, the proper ways that one treated a guest, and all the other courtesies for living life among powerful people with recourse to magic that would end each other's lives in an instant. They were rituals rarely used anymore. Draco had asked to learn them. Harry had the faint recollection that the asking had something to do with him.
But the music. The music.
Harry sagged back against the couch he sat on, and listened to Narcissa's voice caress the notes. She was telling the tale meant to seal in notions of marriage to most pureblooded children, the tragic love story of Pomona Ironbrand and Septimus Prince. They had not been equals; Pomona had chosen Septimus because she was in love with his weakness, not any strength that could match hers, and Septimus had killed her in jealousy and himself in grief. The lesson, repeated in every refrain, was to choose only a mate of equal power, or to be sure that true love existed between a mismatched pair.
Harry had known the story by the time he was six. He'd read the history songs out of books, since his own mother was Muggleborn and his father wasn't interested in holding on to pureblood customs he thought were old-fashioned and probably Dark besides. There was something different about hearing it sung.
Don't think about them.
For a moment, Harry's anger trembled on the edge of control, and if his parents had been there, he would have asked them the questions that waited behind the anger. Why had they felt the need to weave webs into his mind as they had? Why hadn't they brought him up to control his power, rather than deny it? Why had they thought that the only possible place he could have in the family was as guardian and guide to his brother Connor? Yes, Connor was the Boy-Who-Lived, Voldemort's enemy, but did that really mean that Harry's childhood and very self had to be sacrificed on the altar of necessity? Why hadn't they taken more of a part in defending Connor? Why had they never come to visit him when he lay in the hospital wing after driving Tom Riddle from his head last December? He knew now that Riddle had promptly possessed his brother, and that was the reason Connor hadn't come to visit him. What were his parents' excuses?
And battling that was all the training he had received until this point in his life, or the broken remnants of it, arguing that they had done what they had done for the best reasons, that he had to understand, that he could never fully understand until he confronted them and listened to their explanation, that, that, that…
He didn't realize the music had stopped until he heard himself making jagged little noises, like a dog with a bone caught in its throat. Then Draco was beside him, a hand on his shoulder. He steered Harry through a few more rooms, each smaller than the last, and finally through a door made entirely of glass and into a small garden. This garden was the source of the roses and the birdsong that gave Harry such joy through his bedroom window. It looked nearly overgrown now, roses curling in wild profusion on the gates and the walls and the bushes, roses of all colors, white as joy and red as blood and yellow as pain.
Draco lay down on a patch of sun-warmed grass in the center of the garden and drew Harry firmly into his embrace. Harry had to lie with his body sprawled beside Draco's and his head buried in the other boy's shoulder and pale hair, because he didn't have any choice. He might have struggled to pull free at first, especially since the heat was so stifling.
But, gradually, he relaxed. The heat was stifling, and added to by the sunlight and the sweat that covered his own skin and Draco's. But that very closeness made it comforting. There was no way that it would pull him back and leave him alone in the center of the ice that he still remembered from his defeat of Tom Riddle. Harry's breathing slowed down, and he shifted to put one arm around Draco's shoulder in turn. He could feel the other boy smiling, but his voice was sad when he spoke.
"Not yet?" he whispered.
Harry shook his head and pulled back slightly, so that his head still rested on Draco's shoulder but he could see just a slit of blue sky.
He'd tried since he came to Malfoy Manor, even though he hadn't done it for years. Draco and Narcissa seemed convinced that, if he could do it, it would represent a victory over his years of training. And he had much to mourn—the passing of one stage of his life, the death of his illusions about his parents, Sylarana.
But still it hadn't happened. Harry couldn't cry.
A barn owl came in the middle of the night at the end of June. Harry opened his eyes and found it waiting for him on his windowsill. It hooted softly when it saw that it had his attention and hopped forward, holding out one talon. Harry stood and wavered across the carpet towards it, oddly conscious of the way that the cloth pressed on his bare feet and how the breeze through the window stirred his pyjamas around him.
The owl waited patiently while Harry took the letter from it and fumbled for a Knut from the table near the window to put in its pouch. Then it took off. Harry watched it skim over the garden and then gain height, turning north, towards Scotland. He blinked, then fumbled at the letter.
It was brief, but then, all the letters Snape had sent him over the summer holidays tended to be.
You will find little that exhausts your magic like destruction. The power of Dark spells themselves shows this. They will tire you, and enable you to rest with a clearer head. Do what you must to keep yourself sane and whole. If that means the destruction of chairs and windows, so be it.
Harry closed his eyes and clenched his hands on the letter. He knew that it was a proper answer to the letter he'd written Snape five days ago, asking for potions or some other means to keep himself under control without destroying things. His magic raged inside him and wanted that mayhem. Harry himself did not. He hardly dared to face the fury that he felt against his parents and against Dumbledore. He wanted to use his magic to guard, to protect, to defend, to heal, to create, as Snape had promised him he could when he'd come and rescued Harry from the storm. Why should he have to destroy?
But this answer was simple, clear, cold, and the truth. He had to destroy because, otherwise, his magic would destroy him. Denying it and caging it was what had allowed it to grow to such nightmare proportions, to the cold voice that Harry heard whispering in his dreams. And then, when he faced Tom Riddle in the Chamber of Secrets, his magic had absorbed power from the diary and the memory of Voldemort in a way that Harry still did not understand. Either way, he was stronger than he had been.
He had to let it free.
He sighed, dressed in a robe, and then slipped out of the Manor and over the lawn. He could feel the glow of wards around him, but the Malfoys had given him free rein as a guest for as long as he stayed with them. He stepped past them without much trouble and into the wild country that surrounded the Manor.
His magic flared, raw power that barely obeyed the confines of spoken spells any more, never mind his wand, and created a number of light wooden figures in front of him. It disturbed Harry that some of the figures looked human, but he could pretend they really weren't, in the maze of the starlight and the moonlight. He closed his eyes, and that helped, too.
He flung his first spell.
The night flared with light as the fire caught, and then Harry was hurling other spells, spells to freeze or blast or maim or chop the legs out from under the wooden figures, and he couldn't seem to stop. His magic surged through him, high and singing. It would be so easy to go on using it, or even to turn his back and focus his attention on a real challenge, like the wards around the Manor.
Harry pinched his lips together tightly, hearing the coaxing tones of his wild magic in those thoughts, and refused to listen. He flung spells to destroy the figures, create more, and destroy them again, all the while shielding the grass and the scattered trees from the destructive effects of his spells.
By the time he collapsed, panting, on the ground, he realized that Snape had been right: he had used the magic, and, at the same time, gotten it used to weaving through and integrating with himself, rather than shutting it up in a box in one corner of his soul or mind. He could feel the touch of magic burning beneath his skin, under his ribs. He supposed that was better than before. A little bit better.
Snape's words again returned to him, when Harry had said he didn't want to have the power he had. "But you have it. And you should use it, Harry. Otherwise, it will make an impact on the world, and not one that you desire. It has its own personality at the moment, and its own desire for freedom. If you try to deny it, the same thing will happen again. And perhaps this time you will kill someone else, instead of trying to escape doing so…You are closer now to becoming another Dark Lord than you have ever been."
Harry let out his breath, told himself that, yes, it was for the best, and wallowing in self-pity would not change that he was magical or how magical he was, and went to bed. For the first time since his arrival at the Manor, he slept without dreaming of dark Chambers or golden snakes.
Harry froze, then deliberately picked up the Chocolate Frog that Narcissa had said he could have after lunch and opened it. He caught the frog as it tried to hop away and placed it gingerly into his mouth. "Mr. Malfoy," he said, when he had chewed and swallowed the Frog and Lucius had still not gone away. He was beginning to consider it no coincidence that one of the house elves had had an accident that required Narcissa's supervision and that Draco, thinking of a question to ask his mother, had run off to find her. One or both of them had been with him at all times since he arrived in Malfoy Manor. They had never allowed him to be alone with Lucius.
I think that is about to change, Harry thought, and forced himself to lean back in his chair and look at Lucius evenly across the small, highly polished table. He forced himself to see Lucius's reflection in the table and find it amusing, rather than terrifying or as if he suddenly had two powerful, impatient, murderous former Death Eaters to face. He let his breath carefully out of his lungs, and watched Lucius's face.
"Have you seen the Daily Prophet today?" Lucius held the newspaper out in front of him as if it were a peace offering.
Harry blinked, then regretted it as he saw a muscle clench in Lucius's cheek. He had just lost a step in the dance by showing his surprise. He could afford to lose no more.
"I figured it could have little of importance to report," he said distantly as he met Lucius's eyes again, "given that I would have known at once if something had happened to my brother."
Lucius's eyes narrowed. Harry watched him. Let him meditate on that, try to work out how much is truth and how much is lies.
"There is news of other importance," said Lucius, and then slid further around the table, coming towards Harry without making a sound. "For example, if someone who once acted in the name of the Dark Lord was coming to kill you, the Prophet might report on that. Surely, you would want to know."
Harry felt his magic wake, and wondered, also distantly, if Lucius realized just then how much he was taking his life in his hands. Draco had seemed determined to protect Harry from his father. Harry knew Narcissa was wiser than that, and sometimes had feared to find her husband dead and bleeding on the floor if he pushed too hard.
"I would surely want to know," said Harry, "if something like that was going to happen. And if the one who had once acted in the name of the Dark Lord gave me the courtesy of letting me find out beforehand." He raised his magic higher. He knew that Lucius, like Draco, knew how to sense other wizards if they were powerful enough. Usually, shields protected him from headaches and the other unfortunate consequences of that. Let him feel pain spilling over the top of the shields, then.
Lucius's eyes widened, and then he nodded and backed away, sitting down in a chair at the other end of the table. "Mr. Potter," he said, dropping every pretense of the dance now that the falling of his own mask had stripped his advantage away, "you should know that I do not mean myself."
"So this is not another of the articles exclaiming over the brother of the Boy-Who-Lived going to stay with the Malfoy family, and how inappropriate that is, and how you will surely kill me and use my blood in some ritual to raise your Lord?" Harry asked. He could be blunt, too.
Lucius winced. Then he took a deep, calming breath of his own and slid the paper across the table towards the boy. "Read this, Mr. Potter," he whispered. "Just the article on the front page. I think you'll understand."
Harry glanced down. He didn't need to read the article, actually. He needed only to read the headline, and to understand how very wrong he had been, to think that Connor was safe in Godric's Hollow and that he could stay away for the duration of the summer.
PETER PETTIGREW ESCAPES FROM AZKABAN
Harry could make out the picture beneath that, an old photograph in which Pettigrew, caught between two Aurors, jerked his head around in several directions as though looking for an escape. Harry knew it had to be him from his parents' descriptions, though he had never seen a whole picture. Shortly after Peter's arrest, Sirius had gone through all the Marauders' old photos and cut the traitor out of them.
He put out his hand and concentrated. This was something he could let the magic destroy, and gladly.
It wound up doing an odd amalgamation of burning the newspaper, shredding it, and making it cease to exist. Harry gave himself fully over to that brief burst of power, and was the calmer for it when he recovered. He nodded and looked up at Lucius, who was leaning back from him. He did not breathe fast. His face was not paler than usual. But Harry could feel him nonetheless, poised to strike, and knew that Lucius truly had guessed how much danger he was in.
"Understand," Harry whispered. "I care for my safety. I would not have come here if I had thought I was in danger from you, or rather, that you cared more about my death than your son's happiness. But I care about my brother more than anything in the world, and it is the seventh of July now. I should be returning home soon."
"No, Harry. You aren't fully recovered yet."
Harry sighed as Draco rushed back into the room and put his arms around him. Draco meant well, of course, but he had just revealed what could be an important weakness in front of someone Harry still thought of as an enemy. Harry put a hand on his back and stared hard at Lucius over his son's head.
Lucius did not move. He did not say anything. He watched. His gray eyes had gone so blank and his face so still that Harry was no longer sure what he was feeling.
Harry turned his attention to comforting Draco, who was watching him pleadingly. "You've only been here for a month," he said. "We were going to celebrate your birthday in the Manor. The house elves were going make a special meal just for us, and you won't even believe the gift I bought for you. It'd be the first time that you had a birthday just to yourself, without Connor, wouldn't it?"
Harry smiled gently. "It would be," he said. "But Peter Pettigrew is free, Draco—"
Draco's face promptly took on a faintly guilty expression. Harry raised his eyebrows. "You knew about this?"
"I didn't want you to worry," said Draco artlessly. He let go of Harry, but moved around and sat in the chair beside him. "The wards on the Manor wouldn't let him through, and it's not as though you need to worry about him attacking you. Why would he want to hurt you?"
"That's the problem," said Harry. "He wants to hurt Connor. And for all I know, he could get through the wards around our house. Our parents have already proven that they can't protect us." The venom in his voice shocked him, but he forced himself to let it go and continue speaking rationally to Draco. Rationality had to penetrate that stubborn sulk some time. "I have to be there when Pettigrew arrives, just in case he tries to hurt Connor."
"He could already have Apparated there," Draco pointed out. "Please, Harry, I don't want you to worry about this." He leaned forward earnestly. "Wouldn't Connor have to protect himself sooner or later, anyway? Let him do it this once."
Harry sighed. "Can we go somewhere else, Draco?" he asked, looking towards Lucius.
Draco reached out and clenched his hand. "You can speak in front of him," he said. "He hasn't tried to hurt you, Harry. Mother and I have watched. You can trust him." He hesitated for a moment, then added, "I've read some of the older books, and I can recognize the truce gifts now. No one exchanges them up to this point if they mean to break off the treaty and hurt the other wizard." He looked at his father.
"Very good, Draco," said Lucius, in a polished voice. He was looking at Harry, and he didn't seem inclined to stop. "I am glad to see you furthering your education. It is indeed true that I have committed to an exchange of six truce gifts with Mr. Potter thus far. That leaves only ten. By this point, the two wizards are bound to continue, unless one of them sends the other an unmistakable sign to break off the negotiations." He paused, for effect, Harry was certain. "I have no intention of sending such a sign any time soon."
Draco beamed at his father, then turned to Harry. "You wouldn't end it, either, would you?" he whispered. "Please?"
Harry understood the impulse that led Draco to ask the question. After all, if Harry and his father were allies, there was no way at all that Draco would feel torn between them. Draco would never have to confront, fully, what Harry knew he was beginning to suspect: that Lucius had acted as a Death Eater of his own free will, without being under the Imperius Curse. He could follow through on the decision he'd made to face Tom Riddle at Harry's side, without losing his family.
Harry knew that, if it came to an open break between them at the moment, Draco would choose him over his father.
There were no words for how much that knowledge honored him, and for how much it terrified him and made him sick to his stomach. He did not want that measure of control over another being's life. He could hardly face ordering house elves around since the Chamber, and he knew that most of them (Dobby was an enigmatic exception) were frantically eager to serve. How could he put someone under compulsion when he'd been under it himself, from possession and the web in his head?
He did not want to. So he told the other thing, the secret he had been waiting to tell Draco until it became pressing.
"It's not just Pettigrew's escape, Draco," he said softly. "I'm feeling a pull back to my brother." He lifted his hand and touched the nape of his neck, tapping the back of his skull. He waited for the pain, and sighed in relief when nothing came. A week ago, doing that would have made reverberations race around his head for an hour. It seemed that he was finally beginning to heal. "The—the golden thing I told you about." He was not yet ready to reveal to Lucius of all people that he had a web that glowed golden and had a voice like a phoenix's in his mind. "It's tugging at me, telling me to go home. I'm already losing sleep and not feeling as hungry. I don't think it will stop until I'm back in the same house as Connor. I'm sorry," he added.
"But it didn't do that before," Draco whispered.
Harry nodded. "I know that. But it wasn't damaged then, and I think this is the way it's reasserting itself. I'm sorry," he repeated.
Draco dipped his head and gave a long sigh. "But your parents," he whispered. "Do you think that you can handle them?"
Harry nodded again. "I think so. As long as I exercise my magic, I can keep from hurting them. And since they'll ignore me anyway—" he'd told Draco about the Fugitivus Animus spell he'd cast on his parents that made them devote every bit of their attention and perception to Connor "—I should have plenty of time to practice my spells."
Draco bit his lip a few times more, then put his arms around Harry and held him tight. Harry embraced him back, and ignored the stare he could feel from Lucius's direction. Lucius wouldn't know if Harry was really showing affection, or only feigning it so that he wouldn't hurt Draco's feelings. Lucius knew nothing about the bottle he'd given Draco, which shone with the true emotions Harry felt towards him.
"I'll send you your birthday gift by post, then," Draco whispered. "I think I can do that."
Harry nodded. "Thank you." He drew back from Draco and turned to Lucius. "As I'm not old enough to Apparate by myself, Mr. Malfoy," he asked, "may I do you the trouble of asking you for a Portkey?"
Lucius opened his mouth to answer, but a cool voice from behind Harry said it for him. "I will give you one, of course, Harry. It's no trouble." Narcissa stepped in, stared hard at her husband, and then glanced down at him. "If you are sure that you must leave us?" she added, her smile sad.
Harry nodded. "I am, Mrs. Malfoy. Thank you for your hospitality. It's been wonderful here. If you can tune the Portkey to Diagon Alley, I'll owl Remus Lupin, who's a family friend, and ask him to meet me there." It would do no good to try and tune a Portkey to Godric's Hollow, since Harry wasn't about to tell the elder Malfoys just where his brother lived, and the wards wouldn't let them through anyway.
"Not your parents?" Narcissa murmured, but she was already stepping out of the room to hunt for some object which might make a suitable Portkey, and didn't stay to listen to his answer.
"But tomorrow, right?" Draco whispered. "You won't leave today?" Now his smile was wan, at least until Harry nodded back to him. He grabbed Harry's hand. "Good. Then you'll have time to try and guess your birthday gift."
Harry blinked. "I thought you didn't want me to guess my birthday gift."
"I still want you to guess," said Draco, tugging him towards the door from the dining room. "I just don't want you to guess right."
Harry nodded, then glanced once at Lucius. The pull at the back of his head had eased the moment he spoke of going home to his brother, but he could still feel the other wizard's eyes slicing into him.
"It seems my son has found a true friend," Lucius said, his lips hardly moving. "It is such a wonder when one finds a friend this young, and such a shame when one loses them."
Harry inclined his head back. He could understand that statement well enough: it was the beginning of a new dance, and while Lucius would hardly break off the truce negotiations yet, that did not prevent him from doing anything else he took it into his head to do.
Harry had expected it. Lucius was still a Death Eater. And Connor was still the Boy-Who-Lived, and Harry's brother.
And then there is Draco, thought Harry, as said obstacle gave a yank on his arm hard enough to nearly spill him to the floor. Who is always tugging me somewhere.
"Come on, Harry," said Draco, giving him another prompting pull. "It's even hidden in my bedroom. I'll blindfold you, and you try to find it."
Harry shook his head and yielded to the wonder of having such a friend as this, for a little while.