A/N: I love the idea of Harry becoming Dark, or at least (and sometimes even better) Gray. If you know any good fics like that, please tell me.

Anyway, this story starts right after the climax of OotP. I'm not sure how long it'll take.

I have a few Harry Potter fics going right now. As I am currently OBSESSED with HP, I will probably update fairly quickly for a while. I am already writing the second chapter for this fic. However, I will be encouraged to update more quickly if you review! Please?

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, blah blah blah…

Warnings: Dark!Harry, Powerful!Harry (I will do my best to make them both realistic)

On with the fic!

"You need to mean them, Potter!"

Weeks later, Bellatrix Lestrange's words still continued to echo in Harry's head. He had dwelled endlessly on those words, on the failed Unforgivable Curse that had provoked them, on the hated face that had sneered as the equally hated voice spoke them. He didn't feel anxiety over his O.W.L. results or grief for Sirius; he didn't even have space for anger at Dumbledore or worry about the prophecy. He simply kept dwelling on those six words, turning them over one at a time, thinking about everything they meant.

Bellatrix had meant the Cruciatus Curse she had used on Neville, and Voldemort had meant the same curse when he used it on Harry… but despite Harry's anger at Bellatrix, he hadn't meant to hurt her, to cause her endless, unendurable pain…

Which brought him back, relentlessly, day after day, to the million-dollar question…

Why the hell not?!

Why hadn't he meant to use that curse? With all his anger at Bellatrix, all his hatred, all his need for vengeance, why hadn't he meant to torture her?

After hours and days of dwelling and pondering, he thought he had his answer.

Because he had done it for Sirius.

Sirius wouldn't have wanted Harry to use an Unforgivable Curse. He wouldn't have wanted Harry to use Dark magic for anything, not even to avenge him, not even against Bellatrix Lestrange. And part of Harry, the same part that had realized that Sirius really was dead, had known that. That part of him hadn't let him cast the curse.

So there is was, the answer to Dark magic and the Unforgivable Curses, so simple it could be laid out in a single sentence…

If you couldn't mean it for your own sake, you couldn't mean it. Like Bellatrix had said, righteous anger would only hurt your intended victim until the righteousness caught up with you. You needed to really mean to use the curse. You had to intend to hurt them, and want it…

Which, when Harry thought about it, wasn't all that different from regular spells. Riddikulus, Expecto patronum… The incantations (and, sometimes, the wand movements) had to work together with the intention of the spell. If you didn't really want it to happen, it wouldn't.

After coming to these conclusions, Harry did something he had never done before when they didn't have homework:

He asked Hermione to help him navigate the library.

A/N: Okay, I know this chapter was short! The next one will be longer—this one is kind of like the prologue. See? Okay, please drop a review on the way out!