"On the Wings of a Phoenix"
Summary: AU, where nothing as simple as good vs. evil. A summer spent trapped in Number 4 and barred from contact with his
friends leads to Harry accepting an offer to correspond with a Death
Eater. He learns several things that leave him seriously considering if
his relationships with Dumbledore and the Order are what they seem. The
consequences of thinking for oneself are far reaching.
Disclaimer: This is JK Rowling's world. I'm just borrowing it. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
The portkey had deposited Harry and Cedric in the middle of a great, dark field peppered with standing stones and yew trees. Wormtail and the ghostly figure of Voldemort had appeared.
"You know what to do," the ghost had said dismissively to the short man and Wormtail had nodded and sent the killing curse at Cedric.
Then Wormtail had dragged Harry to the central standing stone in the largest circle, the one that read HIC IACET ARTORIVS REX QVONDAM REXQVE FVTVRVS, and bound him tightly with conjured rope.
And then Voldemort had called Wormtail back to Cedric's body and ordered the rodent to cut open Cedric's chest and remove the heart. Harry hadn't watched.
The next thing Harry had seen was the bubbling and sparking cauldron spewing thickening clouds of steam that blurred the outline of the nearest stones and trees. Then the ghost had come into Harry's field of vision and ordered Wormtail to start the ceremony.
Wormtail had lifted from the ground at the base of the cauldron the limp, robe-clad body of a man and hoisted it with difficulty into the potion. And then Wormtail had spoken to the night.
"Seed of man, given of himself, sacrificed so that he might be whole once more..."
He had tossed the red heart into the cauldron, muttering uselessly to himself as he did so.
"Flesh of an innocent, unknowingly given, offered in the name of the gods..."
A snapping sound, not unlike thunder, had sounded from where Cedric's body lay. Harry's attention was drawn to it just as the wind picked up and began whipping and howling across the field.
The blood had vanished and the slices from Wormtail's knife had sealed themselves shut. Cedric looked no different than when he had fallen.
A hiss from the cauldron had drawn Harry's attention back as sparks flew in all directions and the potion turned a vivid, shimmering blue.
And then Wormtail was whimpering. He pulled the long, thin, bloody knife from his cloak again. His voice broke into petrified sobs.
"Bone – of the servant – w-willingly given – you will – revive – your master..."
He had stretched his right hand out in front of him – the hand with the missing finger. He had gripped the dagger very tightly in his left hand and swung upward.
And Harry had not watched then either. He had not opened his eyes again until he felt Wormtail struggling one handed to draw blood from Harry's arm and catch it in a vial. It too went into the potion.
"Blood of the enemy... forcibly taken... you will... heal your foe."
The magic had worked. Harry had wished it wouldn't. Voldemort's ghost had disappeared and the potion had startled sloshing and splashing over the edges of the cauldron as the man inside stood. Voldemort had been returned to his body. The dripping wet man that was Lord Voldemort was nothing like the monster that Harry had imagined... he looked so human, so normal... it was frightening.
Eventually, that man's attention had fallen on Harry.
"You, Harry Potter, stand on the spot where King Arthur fell in battle. But I don't suppose you would know that story. Could you even name three or our gods and goddesses?" He had paused to scoff. "Of course not. Too many 'modern' wizards are told that such tales should not be discussed in polite company. How wrong they are, Mr. Potter.
"Dumbledore," he had spat, "is so sure that it is better to leave our young, our future, to filthy, ignorant muggles.
"Muggles like my father. Have you heard about him, boy? He didn't like magic. When he found out that my mother was a witch, he left her and went back to his useless muggle parents before I was even born. And my mother, she died giving birth to me... lived just long enough to name me after my good-for-nothing father... leaving me in a Muggle orphanage with more ignorant, disgusting muggles."
His pacing and storytelling were both interrupted by the sound of swishing cloaks.
"Ah, but my true family returns..."
"Welcome, my warriors," Voldemort had said quietly. "Thirteen years... thirteen years since last we met. Yet you answer my call as though it were yesterday... We are still united under the Dark Mark, then! Or are we?"
He had then returned to pacing, walking the circle, hands clasped behind his back, chin held high.
"I sense guilt," he had said. "There is a shiver here, and not simply the wild magic of this field, no. You are guilty, and you know it."
Perhaps against logic, many in the circle did shiver, as though each member of the group longed, but did not dare, to step back from him.
"I see you all, whole and healthy, with your powers intact – such prompt appearances! – and I ask myself... why did this band of wizards never come to the aid of their master, to whom they swore eternal loyalty?"
"And I answer myself," Voldemort had whispered, "they must have believed my broken. They thought I was gone so they did not search for me, for a cure to my predicament. They did not have the strength of heart, the fortitude of spirit to continue the fight for our cause, so they pretended it did not matter. They pleaded innocence and ignorance and bewitchment... they begged at the feet of those meek sheep that would gladly follow the fools who offer a very temporary salvation, before they throw their own to the 'mercy' of the ignorant masses.
"Perhaps they believed that those fools were greater powers... perhaps they now pay allegiance to another... perhaps to that champion of commoners, of Mudbloods and Muggles, Albus Dumbledore?"
At the mention of Dumbledore's name, the members of the circle had stirred, and some had muttered and shook their heads. Voldemort had ignored them.
"It is a disappointment to me... I confess myself disappointed..."
They had gone to the Department of Mysteries, had found the Hall of Prophecy, had made their way to row ninety-seven. Lucius Malfoy and a pack of Death Eaters had been there. They wanted the prophecy with Harry's name on it but he hadn't given it to them.
Then Bellatrix Lestrange, a woman-turned-skeleton by Azkaban, had wanted to torture Ginny.
Harry had caught a glimpse of a strange look between two of the Death Eaters Bellatrix had ordered to seize Ginny.
"Bella," Lucius had growled. When she gave no indication that she had heard him, still looking Ginny over predatorily, as if planning which limb to take off first, he had nodded to two big Death Eaters who then stepped forward and each took one of Bellatrix's arms.
She had tried unsuccessfully to wrench out of their grip. "NO!" she had shrieked. "I get the girl... she's mine. I want to make her bleed."
While the two burly Death Eaters whispered hurriedly, eventually casting the Imperius curse on Bellatrix and ordering her to us her wand only to defend herself, Lucius Malfoy had again tried to negotiate with Harry.
Eventually, the negotiations had turned into a full out battle. Bellatrix had fought off the Imperious and killed Sirius. Not long after, Harry had found himself in the Atrium of the Ministry of Magic, watching Voldemort, Bellatrix, and Dumbledore. Voldemort had possessed him, saying
"Kill me now, Dumbledore... Kill us both. Or will you wait for another way to fulfill your precious prophecy?"
Let the pain stop, Harry had thought. Let him kill us... End it, Dumbledore... Death is nothing compared to this...
And I'll see Sirius again...
And as Harry's heart filled with emotion, the creature had hissed quietly and Harry had felt an answering, identical feeling of loss grow with his own and overwhelm him. The last thing he had felt before the pain was gone and he blacked out was the impression of comfort and safety on the wake of the other presence.
But then, Harry had startled awake to find himself lying facedown on the floor, his glasses gone, shivering as though he lay upon ice, not wood, and there were voices echoing through the hall, more voices than there should have been.