By That Last Candle's Light
When the one candle that lights the room is extinguished, all that is left is darkness – More than just Sirius died that night at the Ministry. Harry is left strangely empty, driven by one thought only, a burning desire for revenge on the witch who killed his Godfather. But the further he goes, the more blurred everything gets, and slowly for both of them the borders between hate, violence and lust are becoming fluid in a world that is torn by war, and seemingly has lost its hope, the day its supposed saviour vanished.
Post-OotP, Dark!Harry, Harry/Bellatrix, mentioning of violence and torture. Oh, and I wouldn't mind reviews.
Well, this story is different than anything I've written before, not the least because it's written in first person. This first chapter is just a short prologue, that takes place within the last chapter of Book V. Update rates may vary, because I have an erratic schedule; and writing in general is not that fast for me since English isn't my first language. On that note, feel free to point out any mistakes you find; I'll try to correct them, it'll help to improve myself.
Thanks goes out to the members of the Dark Lord Potter Forums for their helpful comments. Story ahead, enjoy :)
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
A vast expanse of fluffy, snow-white clouds. On one, an ornate gate, made of black steel. Stairs are leading up to it; from below the clouds. Near the right post, a man, holding a golden key. Above a sign, forming an arch, the letters likewise made from steel: 'Faith brings freedom'. Behind the gate a golden desk, with a picture of a wise, ancient man with a long white beard set atop.
Caiaphas (Paces): Fools, one and all! Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. Was it not so? Yet there ye are, blind as a bat, seeing nothing, doing nothing, and letting the world tear asunder. For one man! He be brought in!
Caiaphas (Behind the desk): Stiller -
Convict: I'm not Stiller!
Caiaphas (Continues): - he be silent. He has been tried and convicted, for not being what he ought to, not doing what he had to, not dieing when he was supposed to. His offence is not fulfilling his purpose; his verdict eternal damnation. He be gone!
Man with the key: Nietzsche, at your service. I said: 'God is dead,' and I ask: Ye wage war? Ye fear your neighbour? So take away the border stones - so that ye have not neighbours. But ye wanted the war, and therefore only ye planted the stones. Was it not so?
By That Last Candle's Light
Prologue: 'Tis the First Stone
It would be a fair guess to say that I lost myself some time after Sirius' death. I felt strange – but no, that wasn't quite right: I felt nothing, and that was strange. No grief, when I thought about Sirius, no happiness when I thought about my friends. Nothing. All the pain I felt after Sirius' death, increasing by the minute, suddenly vanished after reaching a roaring crescendo in Dumbledore's office – just when it felt like it would tear me up from the inside. Maybe it did, who knows?
In any case, with it disappeared everything else and I was left apathetic. I don't know exactly how or why, that was just the way it was.
It would be hard to describe what I felt, or rather didn't feel. It was like wandering in thick fog, or roaming underwater or being packed in foam; every sensory input that came from without was strangely muted, surreal and oddly unimportant.
The fact that it was me, who had to kill Voldemort? Irrelevant. That Dumbledore had withheld the whole story, a story that really should have affected me so deeply, for years? No matter.
I was in lost my own world, and that world was within me and that world was empty. In hindsight, I'd say it would be unlikely that this was purely because of my Godfathers death, I barely knew that man, as much as I liked him. Perhaps it had always been there and Sirius' death served as a trigger of sorts; perhaps it was more about what he stood for: hope, family, strength. Maybe. Whatever.
All I can say is that he was more to me than what would be apparent, from what little place and short time in my life he had. Somehow, with his death, a major anchor that kept me in place was torn away, and I was drifting into the emptiness inside me, aimless, rudderless, hopeless.
The outer life I carried on like on auto-pilot, some basic routine in my head that kept me alive by doing the most rudimentary forms of living, like eating and sleeping, while the rest of my mind was lost in itself.
It wasn't until I had a talk with Hermione, some days after the incident at the Ministry, that this changed. Of course, it probably wasn't the way she intended it to change. Nevertheless, it was then I realised something, then when everything changed, sending me on the path on whose end I am now.
It was a Sunday morning and I was in the hospital wing. I had avoided going there, like I had avoided pretty much everyone since the day after the fight at the Ministry. It was only because I met Madam Pomfrey outside in a corridor, who told me that Hermione wanted to see me and effectively shoved me into the hospital wing, that I was there.
Most of the beds there were empty, and Madam Pomfrey went into her office at the other side of the room, so I was alone with Hermione, who was reading Sunday's Prophet, and Ron, who was snoring one bed farther away. It was fairly early, so that was only natural.
Somehow, I didn't think he minded the stay in the Hospital Wing too much – he had as much sleep as he wanted, and, judging by the pile of sweets next to him, as much to eat as he wanted, too.
Ron could be that way.
Hermione looked up as I came in and planted myself in a chair next to her bed. She started talking, and then reading aloud from the Prophet, but I didn't really listen; I was busy staring at the wand across the room.
The wand was white.
"Are you listening to anything I'm saying?"
White and empty.
"I know that you're hurting from Si- him –"
I was hurting?
"– but you have to realise that it wasn't you fault that he died!"
What? Why on earth would I think that Sirius' –
"He died to save you; I'm sure he wouldn't have wanted to see you like this. I know it is hard, but you have to stop!" She looked at me gently. "It isn't healthy if you keep it all bottled up. You didn't kill him, but Bellatrix Lestrange did, don't you see?"
Now that name set off a spark in me. For the first time in days, I felt something different than empty nothingness. A fire, deep and dark within me, filling me, filling the blankness, and I latched onto it like a man dying of thirst in the desert.
"Please try speaking about your guilty feelings. To me, to anyone. We're your friends, Harry. We want to help. When you're back at your home, you have time enough to grief properly –"
Who said anything about grieving? I didn't want to grieve (much less properly), what I wanted was – revenge. Yes. That was it. The moment the word popped in my mind, I knew that this was it. It ripped me out of my trance-like state, it gave me goal, and showed me a way. Suddenly, I knew once again where I was, where I wanted to go, and who I was supposed to be.
I wanted to show that bitch Bellatrix a world of pain, for what she had taken from me, and everything else could simply fuck off.
Including Hermione, who currently told me something about the Stages of Grief.
Now, that didn't mean that I hated my friends. Really. Only that Hermione was presently getting on my nerves, big time. Every now and then she had a habit of doing that, and even if I felt better than before – well, I felt, period – I wasn't quite in the mood.
"– and – Harry! Where're you going?" she said, while I was standing up.
"Uhm – to Hagrid," I said. "He's just come back, you know, and I promised I'd go down and say hello and tell him how you've been."
Which wasn't a lie. At least not the part about him coming back.
I'd seen him walking on the grounds while I was passing a window on the corridor that led to the Hospital Wing.
Hermione's expression softened. "Well, at least you're talking to someone. You'll see, it'll do you good. Say hello to him from me, will you?"
I nodded, and turned, away from her and the windows through which the first rays of the morning sun peeked. Madam Pomfrey was still in her office, so I was free to leave.
"And ask him how his – his little friend is!"
I waved my hand to show I understood as I left the room. I had no intention of visiting Hagrid, much less speaking with him about my supposed guilty feelings, but Hermione didn't have to know that. Still, going outside seemed like good idea. I needed a quiet place and time to think, and there wasn't any such place in the castle. At least none that I knew of.
The corridor and the castle as a whole were silent. It was early, and a Sunday to boot, where most of the students slept in; especially since the exams, O.W.L.S. and N.E.W.T.S. where all done for. I, on the other hand, didn't sleep that well anymore. Blame it on the stress in my life.
I walked through the portal into the fresh air of the morning and crossed the grounds. I passed Hagrid's hut, thankfully without him noticing me, and went some good way off around the lake, finally settling onto a heavy trunk in a little clearing, behind some shrubs; hidden from the view by the sturdy old trees that seamed the outer ranges of the Forbidden Forest.
My thoughts went back to the day at the Ministry. There was the prophecy. But somehow, I couldn't muster the energy to care all that much. Even though it said that I had to kill Voldemort, if I didn't want to be killed myself, what by all means should have made him my Arch-Enemy; and not to forget that it was him who killed my parents, the hate and rage I felt for him was nothing compared to my feelings for Bellatrix.
Maybe it was because I never knew my parents, and Sirius had been the substitute for that, my only family, if you will (obviously the Dursley's didn't count); and I guess I had still hoped that one day I could leave those goddamn Dursleys to live with him – she had taken that away from me. She had killed family.
There weren't many things you could a hundred percent rely on if push came to shove; not even best friends; but you always had family. They backed you without a second thought, despite whatever you may have done, and you did the same in return. Somewhere along the line, I'd realise that, mostly from observing others. And now, he was dead.
Someone would pay for that.
My thoughts moved to a specific event at the Ministry. Bellatrix running trough the Atrium. Myself behind the fountain. My Cruciatus. Bellatrix screaming for a short while, but getting up only moments later. Again and again. I'd had a chance to hurt her, and wasn't able to use it. My Cruciatus hadn't worked properly. That simply wouldn't do in the future.
You need to mean them, Potter! You need to really want to cause pain – to enjoy it…
Her words, meant to mock me – now it seemed like they were a real help, help of a kind I'd never get here or from anyone around me. Oh, I'd show her, the next time we met. And there would be a next time. If she wasn't going to come to me, I damn well would be looking for her.
Voldemort could wait. He would hardly run away, and there wasn't anyone that would challenge me for getting a shot at him anyway.
You need to really want to cause pain – righteous anger won't hurt me for long…
So my anger then hadn't been enough? I wondered. Did I want to cause her pain?
The answer came to me again in that brilliant clarity, like it did back in the Hospital Wing; and almost surprising in its ultimacy. Yes. More than anything else. I wanted her to feel what I had felt, when Sirius fell through the Veil, wanted her to suffer, to see her on the ground, thrashing in endless pain, clawing at her own skin in an attempt to make it stop…
In one corner of my mind I noticed that I suddenly felt wood in my hand, Holly; my wand, clutched so tightly that my knuckles stood out white. It vibrated gently in my fist, the tip glowing in a pale, angry red, while my thoughts were racing.
Incapable to think straight, lost in my fantasy, a thousand voices yelling in my head that this was right … wrong …
Through this haze there was a fat, black beetle crawling on a rock, less than a yard away. It shimmered in the dim sunlight that fell through the branches above … shimmering black, I remembered … Her long, black hair, shimmering softly in the flickering light of the torches in the hallway, such a contrast to her gaunt face…
And the voices went away, blissful silence. The only thing I saw was that beetle – her … Entranced, my wand went higher, until it aimed squarely at that beetle. Bellatrix … screaming … writhing on the floor, her back arched in an unnatural, almost impossible way beneath me … dancing flames of a fire behind her, illuming the scene … burning, white-hot knives drilling into her body … Crucio!
The beetle writhed in silent spasms, it shivered and rolled onto its back, but it wasn't enough, no, not by a long shot. There was something flowing through me, a pull, or maybe a push – my wand vibrated again, but it felt good – comfortable – right – the beetle flailed and ripped out its own leg, and then –
I ended the curse and watched curiously the place where the beetle, up until now, had felt my bundled hate for Bellatrix.
All that was left was a wet, yellow-greenish stain on the rock.
I scratched my head. As it seemed, the beetle couldn't withstand the curse, and when that much magic was focussed on it, it simply burst. Just like that.
Anyway, the control Bellatrix spoke of, the one I hadn't had in the Ministry, was now there. I had held the curse for as long as I wished, and ended it when I wanted. The only question now was whether or not it was strong enough.
There was a sudden noise in the copse net to me, that jerked me from my thoughts, back into reality. Who was there? I looked around wildly, my heart beating fast – still from the rush before, or the fear now, I couldn't tell. There couldn't be anyone here – nobody was supposed to – to see me using – leaves rustled –
A dove flew into the sky. I let out a breath I hadn't realised I was holding. Just an animal. Still, my actions had been foolish. I began cursing mentally. How stupid could you get? Using an Unforgivable at the Hogwarts' Grounds, in broad daylight no less, directly under Albus Dumbledore's crooked nose!
If there was one thing the headmaster knew how to do, then it was being informed of everything all the time, everything that happened in and around Hogwarts. He had to have dozens of little devices in his office that showed what magic was used and where. He probably way already underway.
Again, I turned my head and looked around – wasn't that a dry branch that snapped under a footfall? I had to get away from here.
As quickly as I could, I moved away from my little clearing, through the bushes and further away from the castle, alongside the lake. I ducked under braches and stumbled over roots until I felt safe, well, safer, at least; I had come far enough, so I simply stood and waited.
But no one came. My heartbeat calmed. The lake to my left lay still and glittering in the sun, which was high enough for it to be almost noon, somewhere in the forest behind me sang a bird, wind swept through the trees, sighing lightly. Everything was as always. The world went on.
Oddly, it was that realisation that brought the shock. Slowly, what I had done made its way into my mind. I had used an Unforgivable, and used it successfully!
I had done, what Voldemorts henchmen did, had used that bit of magic that had earned Bellatrix fourteen years in Azkaban. I wasn't better than her!
And the worst thing was, I didn't care.
I knew that, and it changed nothing. What was more, there was no punishment – I didn't feel tainted, because I had used what was 'Dark Magic', my wand felt as always; there was no chastising hand that came down from the heavens above, no lightning struck me down, no one appeared to take and snap my wand.
In short, I had used the darkest of Magic, and the world didn't care. It ignored me and simply spun on. I thought that I should have felt disgust, with myself and for what I had done, but yet again, there simply was – nothing.
And this shocked me to the core.
Hadn't I always learned, ever since I set my first step into the magical world, that it was the highest of crimes to use one of the three Unforgivables? Those, that fed off your darkest feelings, most forbidden desires, most terrible fantasies, not even to be whispered on the quiet, so perverse that it made you ill?
So why was there nothing?
– – – – – – – – –
It was past noon when I finally left the woods, still without answers, and still without a care that I just used a Cruciatus curse successfully.
I walked through the grass in thoughts, barely noticing the students lying here and there in the hot sun, reading, talking; I passed them by, ignoring those that waved or called, seemingly eager to show me that they knew what happened and believed me, now.
So unimportant, now. The last days had brought with them a shift in focus, and students that did or did not believe me were at the very bottom of my what's-important-list.
I met the exception after I had passed the huge oak doors, separating the summer heat outside from the refreshing coolness inside the castle. As I was about to take the first step up the broad marble stairs leading from the Entrance Hall up into the other parts of the castle, Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle appeared in the doorway to my left, that led down into the dungeons where the Slytherin Common Rooms were.
Both they and I stopped dead.
We were alone, only some few voices drifting into the Hall through the half open doors; distant yelling, laughter. Malfoy took a look around and seemed to realise that as well, then turned and came up to me.
"You're dead, Potter," he said quietly.
I regarded him dispassionately.
"You're going to pay." His voice was barely above a whisper. "Pay for what you did to my father."
Or maybe he was just like all the other students. What was it, that made him an exception from my too-unimportant-to-care-list?
I yawned. Had to be the cold castle air, after the heat outside.
Malfoy looked furious; advancing now, flanked by Crabbe and Goyle.
"You think you're such a big man, Potter. You just wait. I'll get you. You can't land my father in prison. I'll get you, just like my aunt got that blood-traitor cousin of yours –"
There was the reason. I went from indifferent to boiling anger and hate in under a second. I had my wand drawn before he even got his fingers to his, and aimed it at his chest.
"Shut up!" I hissed.
There was only Malfoy now, no one else, I had only eyes for him. Once again hate cursed through my veins – Cruci –
The voice cut through the Entrance Hall. Snape had appeared on the stairs that lad down to his office, and he regarded the scene maliciously. I never really saw Malfoys face, white as a sheet, his eyes fixed on the tip of my wand, again glowing red.
When I heard Snape's voice, the hate I had felt before for Malfoy paled to what I felt now. It almost reached the levels of that the great rush I felt whenever I thought about Bellatrix – thick, black hatred, welling up inside me –
"What are you doing, Potter?" said Snape, as coldly as ever, as he strode over to us with long steps.
I turned, mechanically, my wand still raised, now levelled at Snape.
He stared at me.
"Put that wand away at once," he said curtly.
Just one word … one …
"And that's ten points from Gryffin-"
He had turned his head while speaking, looking at the giant hour-glasses on the wall and sneered.
"Ah. I see there are no longer any points left to take away from –"
Hatred, deep within me. One word to express it all – C-
"I told you to lower your wand, now!"
His black eyes seemingly drilled holes into my head, then he recoiled, as if stung.
"For that alone, Potter, we'll have to –"
"Add some more?"
Another voice jerked me out of my haze. I hastily lowered my wand, as Professor McGonagall stumped up the front stairs, arriving at our little gathering, complete with bag and all. I took the chance while they were busy distributing points, and snuck past them, up the stairs, further into the castle; smiling coldly.
My time would come. Bellatrix. I addressed her in my thoughts directly, that burning rushing through me. Your days are numbered, and each of them will be filled with pain.
– – – – – – – – –
Across the castle, in one of the smaller towers, with windows overlooking the grounds and the Forbidden Forest, sat Albus Dumbledore in his round office and stared at his little apparatuses and trinkets thoughtfully.
As in a jigsaw puzzle, he took one silver-shining piece after another, turned it in his hand, and moved it to a specific place on his desk. He then gingerly stuck one into a second, requiring rangy fingers and his whole concentration.
With his left hand, he held both pieces together, and, balancing it on his right thump, he brought a tiny bolt in position, next to an equally small hole. The bolt went inside, and he delicately opened his left hand. The pieces stood.
He sighed, and gazed around the dozen or so of other metallic pieces, all more or less broken. Harry made nothing by half, you had to give it to him. He could only hope that his relationship with that boy could be fixed as easily as his trinkets, and that he would be alright, given time. He'd barely spoken, and avoided everyone the last days.
Before him, his newly, easily fixed device – his Hogwarts detector for Dark Magic – gave a little shudder and fell apart once more, with a soft metallic ping.
Nothing's mine but the ideas in my head that won't leave me alone until I write them down.