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Shades of Existence

Prologue

The fire was cackling away merrily in the study. Tom Riddle Junior sat in his chair by the fireplace. One hand held a yet another report sent by the inapt bumbling fool of the Minister, a useful puppet in the office; the other hand nursed chilled Beer, his old favorite. It was a plain old muggle drink; the wizards drank Firewhiskey. Once upon a time some pompous Pureblood would have dared to suggest another drink; now no one dared. Tom himself controlled most of the Ministry of Magic nowadays; both Light and Dark wizards sought his favor with equal fervor.

Tom sighed. It was a tedious report on an inane law some Pureblood bigot thought up to further restrict Mudbloods and Halfbloods. He took a long sip from his mug. He had envisioned a better world. Revolution was what was needed to shake the footholds of aristocratic Purebloods, and yes he had succeeded. He had laws in place to show the Muggle and Muggleborns their place in the eyes of the Purebloods. Yet he was clever enough to leave loopholes for those talented enough to find them; most of them did with the help of his well established Underworld. The elites could go live in the fairy tale of Pureblood supremacy. The real world was entirely different thing. He held the keys to both levels of life in the British Wizarding world. He smirked enjoying the horror on the faces of the conceited upper levels of society if they ever found out just how the inbreeding was weakening their magic and intelligence. Well Fuck them!

The later years of the power struggle had shown him the basic flaw in the reasoning of Purebloods. He had maintained decent relations with the Muggle Prime Minister. He was interested to learn just what made the Wizards different and more powerful than Muggles and the age old question; 'Where do the Muggleborns Wizards and Witches come from?' They both had Muggle scientists conduct the experiments in collaboration with the Unspeakables.

The results had managed to shock him at first. The explanation was simple 'mostly dominant but complex mutations in a gene cluster containing roughly a dozen genes' allowed magic; a simple higher function of brain. The genetics were more complex but verdict was unanimous. If the dominant Magic mutations were allowed to pool together for several generations the genes either turned off (became recessive) or became toxic. The toxicity manifested as degenerative diseases madness being the most common; the next was higher miscarriages when the baby wasn't just compatible to survive. The Muggleborns were something nature gifted the magical world to negate the dangers of Magic. Hell, even Muggles helped them. They found that the Half-bloods in both Light and Dark families were much more healthy, talented and powerful than their Pureblood counterparts. He himself was much more powerful than rest of his demented deceased family put together. Though she had given birth to him Pureblood Merope Gaunt was little more than a squib.

These studies were the reason he was tempered now in his laws. He knew that fresh blood was needed to preserve the dwindling magical lines. Slowly but surely he was eroding the strict laws under which the Pureblood children were brought up. He had outlawed the arranged magical contracts (signed mostly in infancy) and magical bonding of underage couples, allowed divorces and advocated the freedom of choice coupled with mandatory education in both Dark arts and Light magic at Hogwarts; a typical carrot and stick approach worked wonders with both the ancient logic-befuddled and the young upstart Wizards and Witches. The Dark Arts were dying anyways. It didn't matter whether students knew them or not; the curious like himself had always found a way and the lazy sods never gave damn about any subject. Go figure! His lips quirked in amusement at his obvious Muggle approach.

His eyes drifted back onto the papers. Parchments were fanciful and expensive; paper was cheap. Therefore he had relegated parchments to high priority documents only. Quills were showy and slow, so pens were bought in. He carried a gold encrusted fountain pen now and encouraged research in Technomancy, a new field combining modern technology and magic.

The new creature laws he was drafting were aimed to provide the legal backing for employment and protection of Werewolves and Vampires. It included the preservation of their vampire culture, new residential reserves for them to stay during bloodlust or full moon lights and rights to employment. It was an ambitious proposal but his Ministry faction couldn't protest against it. After all, they had welcomed the same as allies when fighting against the Ministry. He ruled his faction with an iron hand now and there were none who would match his will or wiles. He may have shed his old Lord Voldemort persona but he was still Lord Slytherin and main advisor to the Minister; a much more formidable title. The Giants bill would follow soon and his expose of the hypocrisy of the purists will continue. He rewarded his allies handsomely. He had never liked the Centaurs much but he knew that he had to take care of them lest they be tempted by his opponents.

His banner now was the mightiest, more so than even Albus Dumbledore. Oh! The old wizard still held the positions of Supreme Mugwump but his feather were trimmed; mostly. He now played his games in the Wizengamot than in the actual battle arena with his old nemesis. After all the success of a revolution depends on the actual power gained. His pureblood loyalists had convinced the Wizengamot and Minister to agree to a political resolution. He would staunch the blood struggle and appreciate aristocracy and talent. Since they covertly practiced these rules anyways they had folded like the deck of cards and granted him special favors which he milked for all they were worth. His opponents lost the war spectacularly without even fighting the battles.

After the struggle in the Ministry had ended he had gathered the rest of his horcruxes and re-assimilated all but one of them in himself. One was enough to grant him immortality he once craved but now thought of as necessary evil. He now was back to his aged but handsome appearance resembling his youth before the Dart Arts had mutilated his soul. The peace this time was absolute with almost everyone surviving unscathed through the second war. The few affected families were amply compensated and the Wizarding world was satisfied with their petty squabbles for land, rank and marriages.

He would have had absolute control but his one mistake had dearly cost him and gave Dumbledore the foothold he desperately needed. The Boy-Who-Lived-Under-Dumbledore's thumb had fulfilled his purpose well. Dumbledore was back to his games. His one mistake, one Harry Potter was now sitting in the same room by the window. His eyes were fixed to the view outside. All this time in this Manor, he had sat at the same window everyday from the time he woke to the time he slept; his eyes seeing everything yet nothing. The haunted look in his eyes had never changed. For all his fame and money there were few who could have taken care of him in the state he was in.

The Weasleys had tried but the care was expensive and required more people than they could spare. Their presence stirred restlessness in him to an extent that he would have fits lasting anywhere between minutes to hours. He had himself witnessed several of his episodes. Only in those times he had seen a flicker of longing and desperation pass though those normally lifeless orbs. Harry looked as if his body wanted to touch and feel but his mind refused to cope. These forced his best friends, his only family and sometimes (surprisingly) Blaise Zabini on weekends and holidays to see him to the lair of infamous Lord Voldemort stay away behind a see though wall. He never minded. He had a big Manor. They were Gryffindors, famous to go till the end of the earth for their loved ones. They stayed in a different room looking at him from a distance while their red headed monkeys of kids ran about in the room where the once famous now forgotten Harry Potter sat. The kids never bothered him. They would play near him and sometimes on the rare occasions Tom would see a slight curve of lips showing presence of his consciousness which now evaded his mind on a general principal. He was getting worried by each passing day. The episodes have slowed and lately stopped altogether. The lack of any emotion from the boy was making him edgy. In his heart he knew though; Harry Potter the Boy-Who-Wouldn't-Die was slowly dying.

Tom had once wanted to utterly destroy his nemesis and he had succeeded. He now wished that he hadn't. Two years ago the power struggle had made him mad enough to wish to wreck vengeance on his nemesis- one Harry James Potter. He had placed one stipulation in the negotiations which made the marriage between one Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy possible and inevitable. He had hoped to turn the boy into his camp firmly by binding him in marriage by the rites of Magic. The Light faction had agreed hoping that the Malfoys would be swayed to the Light side and literally wrote the contract of marriage between the two. What followed was the sham marriage of two individuals one smug in his triumph and the other numbed by the betrayal of all but himself, Hermione and the Weasleys.

The next day was anticlimactic. Harry emerged from his wedding chambers not by himself but was carried out by house-elves and then sent to St. Mungos. A violently ill Draco Malfoy managed to tell him about an obscure ritual Harry had used to slowly kill himself before he had a nervous breakdown. The public was told that he had committed suicide while he secretly shipped Malfoy off to France. He had worked with healers for the whole day and saved his life; well they saved his body. His mind was beyond repair by that point. That was the day he had discovered that Harry carried a tiny sliver of his soul in his fragile body. By all Magic, he had to protect the boy now. He bound all the healers under unbreakable vows, sealed all the records and took the boy with him. The old man had tried to interfere but he got the custody through Malfoys. The Light had relinquished their claim the moment they had signed the contract.

The truth was only known to those who remained faithful to Harry and Lord Voldemort. Harry's medical files were sealed to anybody not family and later were destroyed in the catastrophic fire in St. Mungos. As the time passed, the tensions cooled. Tom had learned to tolerate that the boy would live in his care for the rest of his short life. With time he had even began to care whether he had eaten in the day or slept well through the night, a rare occurrence even now. Only once he had witnessed the screams which ripped through the boy in his unconscious state. The memory still gave him chills.

He had once hoped to make Harry his heir by making him see the darkness permeating the Light of magic but in the process had managed to completely break him. Tom sighed. Revolutions better the world, yet each had a price paid in blood of those who were innocents.