To Define Treachery
Chapter VII / Whatever's Begun in Anger
by en extase
It felt like sacrilege. The whole sordid affair of commissioning a new wand he didn't even intend on using - at least in the traditional manner - made him feel uneasy. He waited outside the chainlink fence with his hands thrust into his pockets, doing his best not to fidget. All of that on top of having to wait, which he so despised. He'd deliberately timed his arrival five minutes late in the hopes that Lucifia would be there waiting and they could get the exchange done and over with a handshake and a few terse words of farewell.
But, she hadn't.
Instead, it was he who was waiting another five minutes before - at last - the rolling steel shutter-door on the front face of the warehouse opened. He suppressed a flash of irritation as he realized she must have seen his arrival but had decided to make him wait.
Tom forced a smile as Lucifia strode out. This time she was more appropriately dressed, wearing a sleek red leather blazer over a top with a picture of a skull on black and equally dark jeans with silvered lining. He noted that the fabric at the knees were torn with a touch of derision. It perfectly suited the punk sensibilities he'd guessed at from seeing her room.
But he had to admit, it was the kind of getup that made him consider his own warddrobe. He'd looked like any other Muggle. At some point, he wanted to divest himself of these... rags and wear something befitting his infamy.
She appeared unarmed save for her wand.
"You have it?" he asked.
She reached within the inside fold of her blazer and produced it, holding the slender wand.
She slid it through one of the holes in the chain links, and he accepted it.
The wand chooses the wizard as much as the other way around.
He hid it well, but the sight of that wand... She had followed his specifications to the letter, reproducing something that could almost pass for the real thing.
"I might as well give it a wave."
Just out of curiosity.
He did so. A fitful smattering of sparks flew out, fizzling and falling instead of the triumphant display he remembered of his old wand.
He looked at the wandsmith accusingly.
"You told me you didn't care," the blonde girl said defensively.
Yew and dragon heartstring, he thought distastefully. If only phoenix feathers weren't so hard to come by.
But it was indeed what he had asked for.
"I know," he said pleasantly, "Thank you for making good on your end of the bargain."
"Well, if that's everything, goodbye."
He watched as she returned inside without so much as a backward glance at him.
That went well enough.
He walked away, rotating the wand ceaselessly in his fingers.
The immediate bottleneck had been removed, and his plans were slowly, steadily, making progress.
Harry sat on the floor, back resting against the base of the couch and staring over the surface of the coffee table. The diary rested there, looking innocent, and yet mocking.
He wasn't sure what to think anymore.
What do you do, when you come that close to escaping?
He'd laid his plans as well as he could, and one train ride away, at the last minute, everything went straight to hell.
The one critical instant where you need things to hold together just for a little while longer - and it doesn't.
The urge to laugh sprang from out of nowhere. He felt it building up in his lungs. Why not? And he gave in.
He sounded foreign even to himself. His bitter laughter stung his ears.
He'd become so jaded.
God, what the fuck does it take from get away from him?! he thought.
Now another person who had tried to help him was dead.
He'd taken his opportunity and ran, ran until his feet blistered and he felt his lungs burning. He'd dived into the heart of Birmingham, kept on the move, and Tom had still tracked him down.
Albert had been just a Muggle drunkard at first, but Harry had liked his mischievous nature. He'd had that air of authority around him, and Harry couldn't help but trust him to get him to London.
He groaned, covering his eyes but the gesture did nothing to blot out the image of the man standing in the tracks, waving at him.
He felt so tired. The guilt was eating away at him, the sheer weight of his defeat, and the turning of hope to ashes had taken everything from him. He was empty.
None of this would have happened if you had saved me, he thought, eyes starting to moisten.
Dumbledore. The name was becoming more and more of a curse than his only chance at salvation.
He looked at the diary once more. His stomach turned at the sight of it. Everything - all of this chaos and death, had happened because it had fallen into an unsuspecting little girl's possession.
Innocent. Yet mocking.
He came to a startling realization.
He was so fucking sick of seeing it.
And from the emptiness, something else started to stir.
When he had nothing else, hate was there to keep him company.
He was almost resigned to this understanding. That even when he's been ground to dust, there would still be that well of hatred that waits and clings to survival.
This is the way prisoners feel, or the captive animal as it nears the moment it is slaughtered. Hate... That last delusional scrap of power a creature holds before its existence is destroyed. You can go out eaten by guilt and despair and fear, or laughing in defiance. That somehow you weren't defeated completely. It is indulgence.
Was this it? The grand epiphany the hero of the story undergoes that lets him change his fate?
You were wrong, Dumbledore. I know nothing of love, he thought vindictively, staring at the diary and imagining it torn to pieces.
The air was starting to thicken with the charge of magic. It tasted faintly of poison, maybe snake venom.
Cracks were forming in the wood of the coffee table as his anger grew. He stared at it, watching them stretch outward and marring the smooth surface, reaching for the dairy at the center. The table burst apart under it, ripped apart by an invisible force and sending chips of jagged wood flying, but they miraculously missed him.
He was dimly aware of a shattering sound, and then the feel of a soft breeze on the back of his neck.
He slowly stood up and turned around.
Everything in the room was utterly broken. The television was wrenched into a heap of scratch metal, the walls were scarred by gouges that completely penetrate the plaster. The island in the kitchen lay compressed into a tight ball of... whatever it was made of. The couch had been ripped to shreds.
And then he saw that the windowpanes had shattered, and shards of glass littered the floor, rattling with the flow of the wind. He'd tried breaking them earlier, but to no avail. They'd been enchanted just like in the seer's summer house, but this time they had broken as easily as china falling from a second storey drop.
Almost in a trance, he took the diary from the remains of the table, and tucking it under his arm, he inched closer to the glassless opening. The wind wailed, dragging at his hair.
He lowered his head, sliding under the metal crosspiece and setting his feet onto the ledge.
He remembered something clear as day. One of the most important moments in his short life leading up to his fateful meeting with Hagrid.
His hair grows back a day after his aunt sheers it all off.
A strangely-dressed man wishes him well on the streets of London.
These things happen, Harry supposed.
But when he was running from Dudley and his gang, and wished with all his might to escape, his prayers had been answered, and in a blink of an eye he had found himself sitting atop the roof of St. Grogery's Primary School. Safe and unharmed.
That was the first time he understood that what he had been had been stone cold impossible.
Maybe he wasn't thinking clearly. Maybe this was suicide and whatever he thought of his destiny counted for nothing.
But maybe - just maybe - he could pull it off one more time.
He quietly took in the length of the drop, the dots of pedestrians going about their way. His spectacles slipped a little down the bridge of his nose, and he calmly removed them. Folding it, he stowed it away in his pocket, and tightened his grasp on the diary. He couldn't think of anything else to take with him and took a deep breath.
Ginny, Albert, this is it, he thought. If I survive this, I'll get him... I don't care how long it takes...
He gave his respects to the girl he had failed to save, and the man who'd died trying to save him.
But in case he was wrong, in case this was the end - he wanted his last thoughts to be of his friends who still lived. Who were waiting for him.
Ron, Hermione... Wish me luck guys.
He stood at the edge, looking at the sprawling streets below.
Sirius Black woke up.
He lay still on the threadbare cot, his muscles stiff and reluctant to the slightest motion. He was cold, but he used to it by now. When you feel cold three hundred sixty-five days a year, it ceases to be noteworthy.
It didn't mean he could simply rise and move about right off the bat though. He rolled over onto his back and staring blankly at the ceiling. He really had four options as to where he stared blankly at - he could look at the ceiling, at the walls, or out at the corridor, or through the bars at the water.
It didn't matter - drab grey (or greyish blue in the case of the sea) met his eyes wherever he looked.
He knew, objectively at least, that his world hadn't been reduced to monochrome entirely. There were darker crevasses in the walls and floor, but he saw the same shade everywhere. The finer details were lost in the wash of dead color.
In fact, he was sure all of his senses had been dulled.
He hadn't been able to really taste the gruel prisoners were fed even from day one. The coldness numbered his sense of touch.
His hearing, his keenest trait, had been battered by the endless droning of the waves of the Black Sea.
It was like listening to an old record play over and over again, ad infinitum. Eventually, you memorize every bar and the patterns settle in your mind. The water took a different character every season. In the fall, there was always a particular beat. Mid-morning, the waves swelled and thrashed and sent a tremor even through the unbreachable walls of Azkaban before quieting. Flecks of moisture would drizzle him and he'd be left with the taste of salt in his mouth for the rest of the day.
It was almost his clock, his substitute calendar.
He got bored of looking at the ceiling. He shifted over onto his side, and peered out into the corridor. Sometimes the other prisoners were in a talkative mood at the same time he was, and he could pass by a few minutes trading insults and insinuations. But more often than not, they were insensate and silent, more dead than alive.
He soon got bored of looking there, and almost switched to the walls before he noticed something.
A newspaper lay outside his cell. The wardens did this sometimes, leaving weeks-old editions of the Daily Prophet for him. Out of kindness or as a way of taunting him, he couldn't be sure. Many times he would not simply bother to read them. He had little use for outdated news.
But this time there was a bottled up restlessness inside him, and he was compelled to reach out with a bony arm through the bars.
The paper crinkled as he dragged himself back to the cot and tried to make himself comfortable.
He scanned the headlines, and didn't have to go far for something to captivate his attention. Two caught his eye in particular. He frowned, wondering if his eyes were deceiving him. He rubbed at them, and reread them, trying to summon his concentration.
He still hardly believed his eyes.
A picture of a rat missing a finger from its left paw, perched on the shoulder of a smiling redhead boy.
He stared at it for what seemed like hours, processing the image and mulling it over in his mind.
You're hiding with the Weasleys?
The longer he dwelled on it, the more the thought angered him. Growling, he nearly tore the newspaper apart.
But there was one more item of note.
He calmed down.
A picture of a young boy in a Hogwarts uniform. Not just any child.
The Boy-Who-Lived Still Missing in bold lettering. He supposed it was possible, if not highly improbable, that such news would drop off the front page if it was old.
Harry... he blinked at the sight. The anger at seeing Peter Pettigrew once again drained away, and he instead felt an unbearable sense of sadness.
I always knew you'd take after your father.
He wondered if James would have crowed about it, delighted in seeing his son resemble him so. Lily would've shot back that Harry had her eyes, and declare that it was his best feature. He quirked a small smile, finding the imagined scenario not far off from what might've been, with James' insufferable-ness and Lily's knack for veiled insults.
His smile slowly faded. They were gone. Everything they'd fought for, it all came down to making the world safe for their child.
Even making him godfather... He shivered at the memory of being named thus by the Potter patriarch. At the back of his mind, he had known it wasn't just because he was James' best friend. James had known he would be willing to protect the boy if he and his wife were gone.
He sat there, lost in thought.
In the span of minutes, he'd gone from utter indifference to utter turmoil.
He'd let countless things pass him by, he couldn't even keep track of them all. New Ministers had risen and fallen over the long years of his imprisonment, and never once had he been shaken from his resignation. The Death Eaters had slunk away like the defeated dogs they were, Albus Dumbledore was still alive, and he hadn't cared what went on.
Let the world turn. Let the Ministry grapple with its dysfunctions. Let Dumbledore try and change things for the better, and let Lucius Malfoy and the rest of his ilk sabotage him.
Revenge was waiting for him out there. Redemption, too. It was a heady combination.
He set the newspaper aside and collected himself.
Maybe it was time for a change of scenery.
A/N: The first arc has been completed, finally. Let me know what you think. I'm working full-time for my summer job, but if you guys are still there, I'll keep writing.