Normal Disclaimers apply. Warning. The story is going to portray mild graphic violence, sex of dubious consent with a minor, and other content which is not suitable for kids. Non-Magic. Demons and other unwordly beings.

Many thanks to Angelwarrior1 for beta-reading this chapter.

Summary: Harry Potter is a normal fourteen year old boy who has lived under the tender care of the Dursleys for twelve long years. As usual, Dudley and his friends were up to something idiotic and forced him to join a betting pool - and losing. The foolish dare that followed - sets a disturbing chain of events in motion and plunges Harry and those around him in a state of chaos. Harry wants none of it to happen but apparently he is the instigator. Once the contract is formed, it must be fulfilled - after all.

What atrocities would Harry be willing to commit to prevent his own death and those of others? Will he live through it, or would the demon consume his soul?...

Chapter rating: T. Rating subject to change.

-x-

Enter

Emptiness-

A hollow feeling that continued to rattle against the tiny box…

There is that box where I kept this faded existence.

An existence that one could fear and hate or love,

For the ever-changing world that threatened to take away

Seasons have gone by

The world did cry - and laughed, ended and began anew?

-and yet I remain the same.

Is this the price of immortality?

-x-

It was mere curiosity that started this descent into madness. By some unfortunate circumstance, a young man, chided by his friends, if they could be called that, foolishly entered the Riddle manor. A manor whose name was even taboo to some, and yet they still came and defiled it.

The manor, a work of art, was kept in its pristine condition. The very same way it looked before the horrifying murders of the Riddle family. It was rumored to be a haunted house, yet there was no evidence that it was haunted although none have refuted the outrageous claim. None were idiotic enough to confirm the truth of it, for such matters were better left untouched - especially when no orders from the court would do so. No one complained. Therefore, why waste effort in settling an already settled matter?

"Harry, remember, you can't leave that place until you take something."

"B-but… that's stealing-"

"As if you've never done that before."

"I haven't stolen anything, and I really think this is a bad idea."

"Well, you lost the bet! We just want to know if there are ghosts inside…"

"Ugh! No that was just a joke. But yeah, yer cousin has a point. You lost the deal. You dun want ter mess up that pretty face of yours dun you?"

"Shh! Keep it down you guys. Someone might hear. Anyway, Harry, anything would do as long as you nick it from the house."

"Dudley, your mother would have our heads if she finds out about this."

"Oh but she won't, and if you tell on us, you know what'll happen. Tsk."

"I-"

"Take something good, like… panties or I dunno."

"Pervert."

"We'll wait for ya' here. Don't take too long."

...........

"Fine! Why do I always get caught up in things like this?"

Harry shivered as a gust of wind penetrated the thin material of his shirt. Dudley's gang practically kidnapped him while he was sleeping, and here he was - half awake - a shivering wreck facing the consequences of a rather unimaginative punishment. It was a mistake on his part to join the bet in the first place.

It was pretty simple enough. They wanted to confirm how long it would take for a certain third grader to wet his pants under the tender care of Dudley's goons. Since Collin Creevey was a spineless brat, he did wet himself very fast - and naturally, with Harry's mark being the farthest, he gets this silly little dare.

A yawn made it past his throat as he crawled through the rose shrubs - nicking his arm in the process. He collapsed on the ground and stayed there for several seconds before he heard several hisses. His audience was getting agitated from the lack of action.

"I swear to God I will kill them for this."

The night sky was surprisingly clear - the moon giving him just enough light to appreciate the beauty of the abandoned place.

Several statues lined the pathway to the front entrance, and if what Dudley said was correct, there must be another entrance at the back. The eager crowd was watching him, and inside Harry's head, he was cursing every one of them. Especially his half-wit cousin who would probably accuse him as a thief, barking like the dog that he was to his parents. Utterly remorseful of the act and blaming Harry. It's all Harry's fault. His fault. ALWAYS- resulting in another spanking session from his uncle.

His family was a terrible bunch and Harry often wondered what it would have been like if his parents didn't die. Maybe he would have grown exactly like Dudley - then maybe they would finally get along.

Harry shuddered, this time. Not from the cold, but from the mere thought that he would be anything remotely similar to the lying tub of lard.

He just wished he could blame someone for his predicament. Several times now, he wondered what it would be like to run away from home, knowing that it would only cause several people trouble. The Dursleys would probably take him back. Out of desperation, not concern. If anything, it would be for their own dwindling fortune.

According to the Potter will, a sum of money would be entrusted to Harry's guardian(s) if Lily and James had already passed on, or were unable to care for him. They would not be able to acquire their share of the fortune until Harry was seventeen - although a small amount could be taken yearly for Harry's living expenses. Thinking about it, the Dursleys were in debt with the Potters before this guardianship thing and therefore in debt with him. Yet he held no power over them.

However, no one in the village of Little Hangelton would help him. His relatives decided to move to a place where the people that could help him were out of reach. Those who could have would not lift a hand simply because Vernon kept their mouths shut with money so little Harry did not and will never bother them. No one believed his own relatives would be capable of cruelty. The Dursleys were perfect. Mean, lying, two-faced people.

He honestly missed Godric's Hollow. His parents died when he was two years old. His life from before was a distant past, never again to happen and Harry almost believed it. He was brainwashed to the point where he would not blink in the face of his uncle's continued cruelty.

He wasn't even supposed to know about the will, or that he was rich, that he was worth more than the three Dursleys combined. He wasn't supposed to be wearing second hand clothes, have second hand things, and not be living this second hand life. Only a concerned post informed him of the truth. Vernon and Petunia Dursley made him believe that he was being taken cared of out of the goodness of their hearts. If he told them that he knew about their deceit, who knew what the crazy bunch would do? He wouldn't put it past his relatives to kill him just to claim the money. Their love was like that, cruel and painful.

That was why he was apathetic, waiting for the opportune moment - it was only three more years until he reached seventeen. Until then, he would have to bear with the ridicule.

Harry brushed back the petals and licked the cut on his arm, once again wishing that he had had the presence of mind to have donned a new pair of clothing instead of being stuck in his night clothes. The flimsy apparel did nothing to shield his body from the cold. He gave a quick salute to his annoyed flock of admirers before casually striding towards the front doors. He was half hoping he'd get caught so he could put a stop to this idiocy and go back to sleep. However, Dudley had been telling the truth this time and there was absolutely no one except him in the vicinity of the manor.

The front doors creaked open when he turned the knob.

"Ha… It's as if they've already gone inside and they're just doing this to scare me."

He pushed the doors fully, and winced at the sudden darkness that engulfed his vision. It was quiet.

Far too quiet in fact.

It was as if something was watching him, but he had no idea what it was. Harry gathered his courage and firmly told himself that he did not believe in ghosts, because he has not seen one. There were no such things as ghosts and therefore it was only logical for him to proceed with whatever it was that he was told to do without acting like a paranoid, skittish rabbit.

An unmanly squeak left his mouth when the front door slammed closed. His heart beat was at his throat.

"Who's there? If this is a trick Dudley, I'm not buying it. I know what you guys are up to. You just want to scare me don't you?" Harry asked out loud.

Only the echo of his voice was heard. Harry looked around for any open windows, trying to rationalize how in the hell the door closed by itself. His heartbeat calmed down when he spied a half open window, white curtains fluttering against the breeze.

'Ah good.' He thought.

The door didn't close by itself. Waiting for the darkness to recede, he stayed still as a statue. After several moments, he laughed to himself, awkwardly. He could see something now. Having adjusted from the quaint light, his feet took small steps forward, until he bumped into what seemed to be the stairs leading to the second floor.

He reminded himself that there was no need to be queasy about touching the railings - or anything for that matter, because the caretakers of the house should have cleaned up any residue from the incident. He had a nightmare about it once, because the murders were brutally done. Even if it happened around twenty or so years ago, the murder was still a hot topic of discussion. It was one of the childhood stories the townsfolk would narrate to their children to threaten them to be good. Else they end up like Jimmy and Tom, whose feet were sawed off and eyes gouged out, who were left in pieces and tatters and the same would happen to them if they weren't good.

Harry was not sure if half of them were true, but there must have been a semblance of truth in them… for the stories to evolve to what they were. It's a fact of course that the whole family was slaughtered in one night. Not a soul found out until their rotting corpses were seen by a concerned neighbor, who complained of the putrid smell.

There are no ghosts. No ghosts. NO GHOSTS! "GOD!"

Harry felt his eyes glaze when he felt something wet slide down his fingers from where he was gripping the railing. Did he nick himself again? Or was that just water? Somehow it was crusty, yet it was thick, sticky, and as he brought it closer to his face - it was reddish. And it smelled like. Paint.

Harry laughed to himself perfectly at ease now that he knew that there were several pranks waiting for him and none of them were real. He forced himself to calm down, breathing in and out carefully, expelling the nervous build up that kept the paranoia haywire.

Seconds later, mentally convincing himself that he was not afraid of the creepy dark house, a smile lit on his face at the rare opportunity to explore. The first floor consisted of the sitting room, the ball room, the kitchen, and there was a cellar and even a hidden compartment leading to the basement. Harry told himself he would never go down that creepy place until it was absolutely necessary. When he reached the second floor, he was all eyes for the opulent designs of the rooms. No doubt the Riddles were rich. He admired the craftsmanship that was required to carve several patterns on the wall and the numerous antiques that lined them as decorations throughout each hallway.

The numerous portraits of the Riddle family were hazy, given Harry's source of light, but seeing them up close made Harry think it was a waste to kill such beautiful people. He felt bad for disturbing their privacy. As if he was disrespecting the dead by trouncing in their homes uninvited.

'Well who was going to invite me anyway?'

He was staring at a particular spot until he heard a clock chime. He did not know what time it was but he supposed it must be around midnight, or one. He was dizzy for a moment and held onto the wall for support. He felt a weight lift and unconsciously he traced his lower lip, unaware that he was gnashing on it with his teeth. It was tingling, and there was a bitter taste left inside his mouth but he thought none of it.

Sooner than he thought it would take, he managed to explore the whole manor. He opted to take a piece of underwear from a random room.

"Sorry for taking this, but my friends need it."

It was silly apologizing to a presence that wasn't even there. He knew that but one can never be too certain. He wouldn't particularly like it if a ghost showed up demanding his underwear back. Now that would be a sight.

Harry felt strangely exhilarated at completing the monumental task. A yawn left his throat as he pushed open the front door, crawled beneath the troublesome rose bushes. He met up with Dudley and his followers who were shouting praises at him and berating him for taking too long. Harry stared listlessly at the sky, inwardly thinking what a boring, useless experience that had been, blocking the sounds of raucous cheering and half heartedly answering questions as he got poked around for his valiant feat.

Ghosts aren't real.

Hah.

-x-

Two weeks later...

He suffered the wrath of his uncle. The drunken rage was more violent than normal that Petunia had to intervene. Unable to move, if at all, he was locked in the attic with nothing but misery as his company.

He was even contemplating several ways to attempt suicide. Seeing his friends and his own desire to have payback for what everyone did to him was what kept him going. On his return to school, he got sick and suffered a breakdown. Soon after...

Dudley Dursley died.

He was shocked, at first that such a sudden thing could happen. Vernon was quick to point a finger at him, drinking wine like water, night after night. This resulted to several days of being unable to attend to class.

That was when it showed itself.

A faint silhouette moved apart from the shadows of his room. Harry was far too tired to move away, or attempt to hide. His body was exhausted.

The kiss - and the bargain.

"Do you remember now?"

Harry felt a few memories returning. He always wondered about that night in the Riddle Manor. There was a feeling that something was amiss. Something wasn't right...

"What should I do to prove to you I was real?"

Sporting several new bruises and tied to the bed like a lamb to slaughter, he ended up laughing, and laughing, and laughing… so much that tears even escaped his eyes.

"An insignificant creature like you could not understand, but I will humor you . Tell me. If I were to give you death, will you? Will you finally believe me?"

So foolishly, carelessly offered something and so casual as well like he was offering a candy to a child. He did not know whether or not he was elated or frightened.

"You care so little for your soul you would offer it so crassly - to a mere stranger even? You are… interesting."

Both he guessed. He could feel the suffocating weight of the arms seeking to possess him, as he stared at the blood-red eyes. It coiled upon him, a heavy presence - and the overpowering scent of roses... and something else entirely. His breath quickened, wishing he could forget about it and ignore it, treating the presence as a mere product of his imagination.

"Please tell me this is just a nightmare."

The embrace tightened as he fell immobile, hearing the screams of his uncle as perhaps he too died.

"No my dearest, it had taken awhile for it to sink in but…"

Harry closed his eyes. It opened when something dug on his arm, gasping against the fingers shoved down his throat.

"I am. Very. Real."

-x-

Word count: 2500

Submitted: 2/2/10

Last edited: 2/4/10

I would love to hear some comments and or criticisms. (Edit) I'm done with the second chapter and Angel is beta-reading it for me. yey! Anyway. If you liked this chapter - review, please, be it positive or negative. It's just a click away. It spurs my updates faster. (Edit) Thanks to all those who alerted, and put this in their favorites - and to the people who were kind enough to leave a review. You guys rock. - Emri