Chapter 1: The Return

December 23rd

A shadow crept eerily forward on Grimmauld Place as it made its way to Number Twelve. There was no noise or wind, as one would suppose there would be on such a dark and foreboding winter night. When an unknown man cloaked and hooded in black creeps steadily towards the headquarters of the last resistance to Lord Voldemort, there's usually a little wind, at least. The light from the streetlamps split the man's shadow like scissors to a paper snowflake, all even; all a perfect, yet unfinished facsimile of his one true form. The figure, who had a rather large snake entwined on his shoulders, seemed to be sucking the wind out of the air with his very presence.

He had a small traveling bag that wrapped around his shoulders and across his chest; in his hand, there was a large staff that was topped with a whitish-clear orb, glowing dimmer than the pale full moon, but still bright enough to see from a distance in the dark cold – the staff enclosed the orb on only one side and jutted out at the end. Around his neck was a thin chain that bore a round, golden amulet which was inscribed with an unknown language and had a serpent in the middle. There was simply and unmistakably a dark feeling surrounding the man. He was a powerful wizard - a killer.

Stopping at the window of the mansion, the cloaked man looked in and saw what to any normal eye would be a discouraging scene. In one corner was a man in a lounge chair who seemed to be utterly exhausted. He had disheveled red hair and the look of a man who was once very cheerful but had been drained by the worries of the world, leaving him empty of any cheerfulness. Arthur Weasley got up from his seat and walked across the room to where his wife, Molly, was sitting. She was at a desk, evidently responding to various owls that had been sent to her that night, holding back tears she didn't want to shed until after she had finished. She walked out of the room with her husband - it was evident she was trying to be strong for the others who were present.

Among them were Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. If one could describe loneliness in detail, then what the cloaked man saw on their faces would be the muse. The two of them weren't close together or far apart, but it was evident to anyone they were both missing something they hadn't truly realized they could lose until it was gone. Ron was looking into the fireplace kindling, but not really seeing anything; Hermione, meanwhile, was looking down into a book that was on her lap, but the man could see she wasn't turning any pages.

In the face of this raw human emotion, the man outside the window could do nothing else but look inside himself, for he also was human...or, at least, he believed he was at the moment. There were times when his life almost seemed completely gone. His breath came out in puffs that sliced through the bitter cold, but he himself was not affected. He had endured much worse than the cold of English weather. What his mind was completely focused on was where he wasn't – inside with the ones he loved.

He could see the lower half of his face reflected in the glass, so he pulled his hood back a bit wanting to see his own eyes. They were as green as emeralds and the darkness underneath them showed how very tired this man actually was. He looked at his hands, straining to see something, anything - as if looking at them would provide answers to the questions he was seeking. Once he realized that there weren't any answers to be found, he raised one of those hands to his forehead, straining to figure out how to go about approaching the people he longed to face. As he rubbed his head, he came across the scar...that curse of a scar. If there was one thing that Harry Potter hated more than Voldemort, it was the blunt scar that had haunted him for more than seventeen years.

July 31st

Harry lay spread-eagle across his bed, looking intently up at absolutely nothing. It was his birthday, but had he not received so many owls to remind him, he would have forgotten completely. It was a bright summer afternoon and it was the day he was to leave his relatives' house forever. His Uncle Vernon had been bustling about, singing a happy tune all day while the rest of his family seemed to be making preparations for his departure. How they would actually "prepare" for him being gone, Harry did not actually bother to ponder, but, all the same, Petunia and Dudley worked and scrambled about in preparation.

He laid on his bed letting his mind wander to all the endless possibilities it offered: the prophesy, Dumbledore's death, Ginny, Snape, anger, pain, doubt, revenge. In time, it became one giant jumble of emotions, and he was unable to think straight. It didn't matter if he could think straight, however, because today Harry didn't want to care. He had a decision to make and if the hurricane blowing in his mind helped him make that unavoidable decision, then so be it.

He could hear many sounds in his room that helped him relax despite the tension he always had. Hedwig was perched in her cage, hooting peacefully, but not sleeping because of the snake that was so close by. Harry's snake was lying under the lit lamp on Harry's desk, his tongue flicking in and out, regarding Harry's owl with the same caution. Harry hoped they would get along and was pretty sure they would.

Later that night, the Order was coming to pick him up and, for a while, Harry pushed this fact out of his mind, assuming as he always did that this was what should and would happen. However, things were different now. He looked around the empty room with a withering look. All his possessions were at the Order's headquarters so he didn't have much to do. After a few moments, his eyes fell on the giant book on his nightstand. It was an old and brittle looking book that had a lot of wear and tear. Its pages were fine and delicate and held thousands upon thousands of writings. Harry sat up and took it into his lap, opening it to the place he had left off. He had been reading this book with complete zeal since he had found it, just three weeks previous.

July 9th

Looking intently into the fire that was burning furiously in the living area at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, Harry found himself drifting once again into horrible thoughts of anger and revenge. I shouldn't be thinking about these things. What would Dumbledore think? Harry began to ponder; he was palming the locket in his pocket furiously. Then, another voice took over. Oh, hang Dumbledore. Why didn't he just tell me the truth from the beginning? Why did he trust Snape? Why isn't he here now?

Harry shook his head – he couldn't allow himself to sink into this disparity. He looked around from the armchair he was sitting in next to the fireplace and saw that his friends were looking at him; he figured they had been doing so for some time.

Ginny Weasley was sitting on a small couch across the room with a book in her hand, but not bothering to pretend she was reading it. She met his eyes and had a pitiful look on her face. Harry felt bad for Ginny; the previous year was just as tough for her as it was for anyone. He promised to make it up to her, but for some reason, he couldn't prioritize her feelings. In the past month, he had relied so much more on Ron and Hermione's support and friendship than hers. While Harry still had deep feelings for Ginny, he was having an extremely hard time sharing with her as he did with his two best friends. He wondered if that would ever change.

On the other side of the room, sitting on a larger couch were Ron and Hermione. They also were looking at him, but with a much different look. They were concerned and knew Harry would want to talk soon, but they were calmer. They knew Harry was tormented by many things, but, unlike Ginny, they knew why.

Not only that, but they also had other things on their mind, like their current relationship. Harry was having trouble seeing where it was going. It was the oddest series of events Harry had witnessed in a while. Their relationship was likened to a person playing a video game when the power kept going on and off. They would start things off very well, but gradually things would revert to their old ways of bickering and anger; however, suddenly, without warning, things would seem to start over and they would become two turtledoves once again. They weren't the most romantic of couples, but it was obvious they cared for each other very much during those times. Harry didn't think he wanted to understand how their relationship worked.

He did not like, however, the fact that, many times, it was taking away from what mattered – helping him discover a way to find all the horcruxes and destroy them. Soon, Harry would be of age and on his own and he would have to get to work on fulfilling his apparent destiny...for better or for worse. He needed Ron and Hermione's help – or at least he thought he did. How could he do this alone?

Things weren't getting any easier and as each day went by, Harry was becoming more and more agitated. In fact, everyone in the Order was hit hard with the loss of Dumbledore. He was the one rock against the Death Eaters – the one safe place everyone could be reassured by. Now that he was gone, fear had taken over Grimmauld Place along with the wizarding world. What made matters worse was the fact that everyone knew who had betrayed the Order and killed Dumbledore mercilessly. Hagrid had never been in a worse state when he came to apologize to Harry, Ron, and Hermione for never believing them. That had only made Ron and Hermione feel terribly guilty. Inside, they also believed Snape was good, in the end. Harry was the only one to ever see through him and they knew it.

Making matters worse, Harry had been right about Malfoy as well. Harry's enemies were more than just childhood rivals – they were the assassins of Dumbledore, and no one saw it coming, even when Harry was sure there had to be something going on. Ron and Hermione had become bitterly sorry for it and constantly told Harry so, but they figured a true acknowledgement from Harry would only come once the war had ended – he just had too much on his mind to consider the lesser emotional conditions of his two friends.

Harry never held their mistake against them, though. If Snape could deceive Dumbledore, then there was no reason to assume Hermione and Ron should take Harry's side. Harry always had trouble trusting Snape because he hated him so much, not because he really thought Snape was still a loyal Death Eater. He was fooled like everyone else. And while Harry had been proven right about his suspicions concerning Draco, he had been too weak to carry out Voldemort's order – Dumbledore was murdered by someone with completely evil intentions and Harry recognized that as well. Snape was the only one who had betrayed the Order and known exactly what he was doing.

This thought made Harry's insides boil again. For a while after the funeral, he had been having constant murderous thoughts and sometimes his hatred had so much control of him in the moment, that, when interrupted, he would lash out at anyone who was trying to speak with him. Harry knew this was affecting the other members of the Order.

Soon after arriving at Privet Drive, Harry began reading the Daily Prophet that came every morning, as he always liked to do when he was cooped up in his room all day. He realized that while he thought of Dumbledore as the world's last defense against Voldemort, the rest of the world, including many members of the Order, were under the assumption they had another – himself. Harry's spiral into a depressive and sometimes, irritated mood was not helping the morale of the remaining resistance to Voldemort.

Remus Lupin was as tired-looking and raggedy as ever. His hair was almost a full-blown grayish color and his eyes always had bags under them. He had taken over unofficial leadership of the Order, along with Mad-Eye Moody, who seemed to be the only one who was able to act like himself. He did have Tonks however, and it seemed to keep him together. Harry was happy things had worked out between the two – joy in the midst of sadness was a story he was always fond of.

Nothing about Mad-Eye's demeanor had changed once Dumbledore died; he was, however, more understanding of the morale, or lack thereof, in the Order. Harry found him to be helpful and his presence was sometimes a breath of fresh air. When Harry would get the chance, he would talk with Mad-Eye about the old Order and the tactics they used when combating Voldemort. He would tell Harry stories of his parents and about the three times they narrowly escaped from his grasp. It gave Harry a little peace to hear about how brave his mother and father were. They despised Voldemort and according to Moody, they never feared to say his name "with some disgust, I might add," he would add slyly.

Mad-Eye also taught Harry a couple of useful spells that he had learned along the way and Harry was always eager to consume every word he said. Talking with someone who had been affected by Voldemort and had been through the chaos once before was comforting to Harry, because it made him feel he was sharing his own pain and intense animosity.

The rest of the Order, however, faired just as badly as Remus in the weeks since Dumbledore's death and there didn't seem to be any real plan on getting to the heart of Voldemort. Harry closed his eyes and bent his head. It was pounding from all the pressure and he felt like he wanted to go crawl somewhere and wither away.

"Are you alright, Harry?" Hermione had finally asked, her voice even and expectant.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"Are you still thinking about yesterday?"

"It was just a burned down house I have no recollection of Hermione."

Harry didn't know how else to reply. He wasn't alright and he was thinking of that burned down house every other minute. He raised his head and spoke again. "I'm sort of wishing I had the Prince's boo— potions book. I've read and nearly perfected Dumbledore's notebook, but never got to finish reading that. In fact, I've just gotten used to reading anything that takes my mind off things."

Hermione suddenly got a look on her face that Harry knew to be her look of disgust and, more recently, pettiness. Harry knew it was coming the moment he brought the Potions book up, but he didn't care.

"How can you still want to read that book when you know what it is?" Hermione snapped. "You should have thrown that book out the moment you knew what it was. It's not like it can possibly be helping you at all." She was now slightly glaring at him. She was still obviously jealous of Harry for matching her in potions the year previous.

"What exactly is your problem, Hermione?" Harry stood up, suddenly very angry. He wanted to get the feud he had with Hermione off his chest once and for all. "Did it ever occur to you that maybe it was Snape who was holding me back and that I would have excelled in potions last year even without that book? Don't you think that maybe I have the ability to follow directions as well as you? Maybe I even learned it from you, so why was using that book so wrong? All I did was follow the directions, same as you!"

"What was wrong? What was wrong?" Hermione stood up and matched Harry's glare. "Maybe the fact that it was the work of Snape himself is what's wrong! Maybe if you had turned that book into Dumbledore, he would still be alive!"

Harry felt like he had been slapped in the face. He stepped backwards, but his leg did not seem to want to cooperate and he was sent reeling to the floor by Hermione's sudden outburst. She had tears in her eyes and a look of anger, but only for a moment, when it was abruptly replaced with a look of utter horror. She could only gape at Harry with her mouth open for she was unable to say anything else. Ron and Ginny were looking at Hermione as if they couldn't believe what they had just heard. Harry just sat there, looking up at her, a look of anger and shame on his face as tears surfaced to his eyes.

For what seemed an eternity, Harry and Hermione just looked at each other. Harry knew she was sorry the moment she said it and hadn't really meant it, but she had voiced Harry's fear and he was angry at her because of it.

"You're right Hermione," Harry said as he slowly got up, allowing his cloak to shroud his entire body so no one could see that his hands were limp and useless. "He is dead because of me. He is dead and so is Sirius and so are my parents." His voice was cold and his eyes had iced over. This wasn't new to Harry. The fact that Dumbledore's death was Harry's responsibility wasn't a surprise to him anymore – it was inevitable.

"Harry, no...please...I didn't mean that. You had noth—"

"Stop Hermione," Harry interrupted, his voice still quiet, but sharp. "You were right. I have to come to grips with the responsibility I have in their deaths. The only thing I ever seemed to be right about was Snape and Malfoy and who could blame anyone for paying so little attention to what I believed about them? I was wrong so many times before.

"You've been so angry and disagreeable to me for such a long time now, Hermione, but I see that I deserve it... I've done nothing but bring death to this place."

The four people in the room were quiet. Hermione sunk to her knees, still completely consumed with grief over what she had said. Harry saw that she realized she had been completely horrid to Harry in the past eight months and was now trying to come to grips with why. Harry didn't care anymore. He knew what he had to do. He walked slowly to the end of the room, opened the door to the main hallway, and closed it, walking towards the front door.

Before anyone even went after him, Harry pulled out his wand and summoned his broom, walked out of Number Twelve and soared up and out of sight. He sped through the night without a real destination in mind. His thoughts wandered to the truth in Hermione's words. What will I do now? Harry thought; This is where I test my fate. Do I wallow in self-pity or do I make up for my mistakes? The choice was easy. I'm not letting this take me. I am going to kill Voldemort and make everyone who has gotten in my way suffer. Harry knew he was traveling down a path on which he could not go back, but his decision was made. He was going to train himself to defeat Voldemort. He was going to kill him... or die trying.

Harry didn't know why he made his way to Diagon Alley – he was just letting his subconscious guide him. Perhaps he would visit Knockturn to test his wits and courage in the face of his bold new agenda.

It was late, so he didn't think he would find many people. Nevertheless, he flew down and landed in front of Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes. It was closed, but the lights were all on, so he knew Fred and George were probably hard at work.

"Evanesco," he muttered, vanishing his broom with his wand. He walked quietly down the street, observing everything around him. The street seemed to have become full of sorrow. Six years ago, Diagon Alley had become a hallowed place for him – a safe place. Now, like everything else, it has been enveloped in the fear of Voldemort. Harry hated him more than ever. He was not afraid of him, but he was no match for him either... not yet anyways.

He spotted the intersection of Diagon and Knockturn Alleys and boldly, but carefully, started down the narrow, grotesque passage. The night was chilly, despite the summer season and Harry wondered if it was the street itself that chilled his bones as he walked. Like Diagon, Knockturn was deserted, but, surprisingly, many shops were open. His eyes couldn't help but notice that Borgin and Burkes was also open. He was curious to see what he could find, but he didn't want to be recognized, as he was sure it would not help him there. He hooded himself and then pulled out his wand and performed a small charm on his face. His face became shrouded in a murky shadow, so that a person could still slightly see his face, but would be hard-pressed to tell who he was, even upon close examination. Not even Harry's glasses would be seen – just his eyes. He had learned the charm in a book he had wandered across in the library when he was studying for his final exams the year before. Harry chuckled in spite of himself. If Hermione has gotten past her hang-ups, Harry thought, she'll probably be proud to know I am such a curious reader now.

He walked into the dimly lit store and looked around. Some things were familiar and some were not. All of the items, however, had a sinister nature to them. Harry couldn't help but wonder why the store had been allowed to operate for so long when it had been proven to sell items no one should legally possess.

He suddenly became aware that he was not alone—not really at least. On a small stand, near the door, was a cage that held a rather large-looking python, no less than five feet long. It was brown with black speckles and it had a large black diamond spot on the top of its head that split its eyes near the base.

It was quite uncomfortable just looking at such a large snake being kept in such a small cage; it was even more uncomfortable to be stared at by that same snake. Harry was only fazed for a second, but then walked up to the cage and, concentrating his mind, greeted the snake in what he hoped was Parseltongue.

"Hello," Harry mustered.

"I assume you're expecting me to return the greeting, masked stranger?" the snake replied in a hissy, bored voice, if there was such a thing.

"No. I'm just trying to be polite," Harry returned in a calm, rather dead voice. I'm not going to give anything away. If he wants to be apathetic, two can play that game. Maybe this is the way to get information from him.

"Polite – now that is an interesting term. I find that no matter how long I am forced to sit politely in this rat cage, I will never be referred to by that term."

"How can you be when people are unaware you can even speak? And if you're so tired of your cage, why don't you just leave it?" Harry prodded him on. He pulled out his wand and waved it over the cage. The cage top unlocked, popped off, and landed on the floor.

For a while Harry and the snake just looked into each other's eyes. Harry was trying to maintain the look that he really didn't care what the snake did. He knew the snake could only see his eyes, but he wanted to know what this snake's story was. The snake, it seemed, also wanted to maintain that aura.

"Oh yes, very bright," the snake scoffed after a few more moments. "A snake loose in the city. I'd be caught within a day and who knows who I'd end up with? No, freedom is a luxury I can only hope for when people aren't allowed to capture me; then I would be truly free."

"If that's what your hopes are invested in, you will never be free," Harry replied. "In fact, it would seem to me that you have no hope at all. I freed a snake in a zoo once and he was much more grateful."

"Would you like a medal?" the snake angrily replied. Harry was starting to get somewhere. "Besides, I have hope, but it is placed in someone who can restore prosperity to snakes and allow all of us to live like we wish."

Harry knew what he was getting at. "Oh don't tell me you've bought into Voldemort's lies as well?" Harry chuckled ominously. Voldemort had gotten snakes onto his side, probably by understanding what they wanted. He needed to do the same if he was going to get past Voldemort's pet, Nagini, in the future.

"It's not a lie!" the snake hissed. "He has promised all snakes freedom!"

"And how do you know this, snake? How do you know he actually wants to help you instead of using you for what you're good for?"

"I don't know, but he's all we have."

"That's not true. I'm here aren't I?"

"And who are you stranger? Some protector of snakes? A man with a covered face and an offer in a secluded and evil shop is hardly deemed a hero in these dark times. Why should I believe anything you say?"

"Well, snake, all you would have to do is realize that as far as you know, I have not lied to you, while Voldemort is the greatest liar in the world. He has even lied to himself and made himself believe he is the most powerful wizard in the world, when, in truth, his end is near."

The snake regarded him carefully for a moment. He had evidently placed his entire hopes on Voldemort, not thinking there could be another way. It was easy to see this snake had never known there was more than one Parseltongue in his known universe.

"What is your name, snake?" Harry decided to break the ice, as well as the silence. The snake obviously had had a rough life. Harry was beginning to think a friend might be what tipped the tide in his favor.

"I don't have a name," the snake replied bitterly. "The owner of this store, a fowl man named Borgin, has only ever called me worthless."

"A creature that has hopes of freedom is far from worthless. From now on, your name will be Worthwhile. Take it or not, that is what I will call you until you tell me to stop."

"Why are you helping me?" The snake was once again regarding Harry curiously. He raised his body out of his cage so that he was eye-level with him.

"Because I, too, want to be free of those who would treat me like I am anything else but what I want to be...because I too am trying to change my fate." Harry was leveling with Worthwhile and it felt good, however surreal it felt at the same time. "Tell me, what relation does Borgin have to Voldemort?"

"Borgin thinks he's in the Dark Lord's circle, when really, he's fooling himself," the snake sighed. "Any intelligent being could tell you Borgin is just a trafficker of goods and magical items. Voldemort has never actually come here, but I do remember that one of his Death Eaters came here once, looking for a specific item. Borgin acted the fool and denied having such an item. He can be quite crafty. However, after the man left, he took out a large black box from behind his counter and started tinkering with it for almost an hour, before giving up in frustration. If I'm not mistaken, it's still there. For the past year now, he has been trying to open it, but has never come to figure out how. However, he will never open it, because the box is a very special magical item. I know this because I opened it."

"You opened it?" Harry raised an unseen eyebrow.

"Indeed," the snake hissed in reply. "I opened it, because that box can only be opened by a snake... a snake or –"

"...or someone who can speak snake language," Harry finished. "How did you figure this out?"

"There is an adage above the lock that I recognized easily because it is in the language of the serpent tongue. It must be spoken in that language for the lock to release. I had been moved to that very counter while Borgin was helping one of his shady customers. He had accidentally knocked off the lid to this prison and I, at first, had planned on escaping, but when I realized the futility in this, I decided to find some leverage I might be able to use in the future. I went behind the counter and spotted the box.

"The first time I had laid eyes on it, I was too far away to read the inscription, but being that close, it was quite easy. Quickly ciphering and uttering the text, my expectations were met. It opened a crack, but I did not see what was inside, for my owner spotted I was out. I quickly made up my mind and with all my might, I pushed down on the box and closed it. I have since told no one of what I found."

"A box that only a person with one of the rarest gifts in the world can open," Harry's eyes gleamed with amused confidence. "No wonder Voldemort was so eager to possess it."

"Yes," the snake replied quietly, realizing he may have given away too much.

"What does the inscription say?"

The snake hesitated. He was still highly unsure of Harry, especially since he still could not see his face. He seemed ready to tell Harry, when he was interrupted.

"Who's there?" came an angry voice from the back of the store. A hunched-over man with greasy, black hair now appeared from behind his counter and when he saw the cloaked and hidden Harry, his face showed a slight fear. Once Borgin eyed that the snake's cage was opened and the snake had emerged from it, however, he gained some of his courage back. "What are you doing with my merchandise? Get away from there!"

Harry regarded the man for a second before hatching a plan.

"Tell me about the black box you have stored there," Harry said quietly, but aggressively, pointing to the counter as if he could see right through it to the box Worthwhile had spoken of. Harry's eyes told Borgin clearly that lies would do him no good. While still calm and self-controlled, Harry had decided he was not going to be intimidated, especially not by the stooped coward of a thief who he had personally come to loathe. Instead, he was going to control things.

"Th-That is not for sale," Borgin stammered, clearly intimidated by the masked stranger – beads of sweat were forming on his pale forehead. "Even if it were, I doubt you would be able to afford it stranger. Perhaps, you had better be moving along." Borgin's courage was fading as Harry approached him, staring intently into his eyes with a fierce gaze. Harry was going to have the box and he knew how to get it.

"I will make you a deal, proprietor," Harry finally said. "I know for a fact that you cannot open that box. You are weak and that box can only be opened by the powerful. So, I will make you a wager. If I can open that box, you will sell it to me for 500 galleons." He pulled a large money pouch from his cloak and tossed it on the dealer's counter. "Not only that, but this snake will also come into my possession."

Borgin was looking at the pouch of money with lust in his eyes and the beads of sweat were starting to pour down his face. He regarded the very cool-mannered Harry for a second before returning to the conversation.

"And what happens if you are unable to open the box?" Borgin demanded.

"Then I leave empty-handed and you keep the 500 galleons."

Borgin was now in a pickle. He was looking from the box to the money and seemed to be debating with himself about whether he himself would ever be able to open the box in the first place. Meanwhile, Harry shifted over to Worthwhile and, once again, looked at him. "So, what will it be my friend?" Harry asked. He pulled out his wand and revealed his face to the snake.

Borgin made up his mind and turned to see Harry looking at the snake again. It almost seemed to him that he was talking to it, but he didn't really care at the moment. He pulled the box up from behind the counter and finally spoke: "I accept your challenge, my lord."

Harry reapplied the shrouding charm to his face and turned to the cowardly little man. He approached him and flicked his wand to the box, levitating it out of the man's hand and onto the counter. The man backed away as Harry slowly approached the box. Harry mustered his mind completely on the lock on the box. He knew what the inscription above the lock now said and he needed to make sure he uttered it perfectly. He closed his eyes and repeated the words over and over: "Liberate te ex inferis." He then opened his eyes and quietly said the phrase in Parseltongue. The lock instantly sprung and the box opened. Suddenly, the room went dark and from inside the box came a humming noise. A moment later, an object inside began to give off a dull purple glow, as if a black light inside were covered with a thin cloth. Harry approached the faint light emitting from the box and saw a very large book sitting on a black velvet-lined cushion. The lights came back into the shop and Harry wondered what had just happened. Regaining his wits, he looked fiercely at Borgin, who was now ghostly white. Picking up the pouch of money from the counter, he tossed it to Borgin.

"I will be taking what is mine. You will speak no word of this to anyone – not that you could anyways. If Voldemort knew you had this in your possession, you would have been destroyed on the spot... not that I'm someone you want to trifle with either."

Harry picked up the book and put it under his right arm. He turned and stopped at Worthwhile's cage, holding up his left arm. The snake instantly slithered out of it and onto Harry's shoulders. Harry walked resolutely out the door, reanimated his broom with his free hand, and soared off, once again, into the night. He had some reading to do.

END Chapter 1

Author's Note: The few negative reviews I have gotten have all been about the flashback style I use, so I'm going to leave this note at the end of the first chapter for all of you future readers. If you get confused easily or do not have the patience to wait and see what might actually happen when you don't know what's going on exactly at that moment, don't read this. I wrote this to challenge myself and my readers. It becomes clear in time, but you're not going to be rewarded 4 or 5 chapters in. This is a novel I wrote with care and the 95 percent of my other reviews tell the story of just how good this book is if you don't believe me. So, I warn you now, you need a little patience to read the first half of this book. Enjoy!