Disclaimer: Harry Potter and its universe belong to J.K. Rowling. I make no claim to any of it with this fanfiction.

A/N: First fanfic and self-beta'd. You have been warned!

- Control -
Prologue I

Black fire burned behind my closed eyes.

Slowly, the flames parted and I drifted back into consciousness. Pain… I thought, barely stifling a hiss as I felt my cracked ribs protest my very breathing. I hate this place.

I lay there for a long moment, gathering myself, calling upon my immeasurable will and wreathing my mind in a sphere of blackest obsidian – Occlumency in its more advanced stage. My breathing evened after several long moments of internal reflection, my body once again enslaved to its master's will. Better…

Slowly, I sat up and looked around the smallest bedroom at #4 Privet Drive, stifling a wince as I looked at the splatters of blood on the floor near where I had lain. The coughing from earlier… lung damage? I mused to myself, sighing quietly and dragging myself to my feet, feeling hairline cracks spread across the barriers of my mind as my body rebelled. A will to shatter stars… I repeated within the halls of my mind – my mantra, my creed – and clarity returned.

This can't go on… I can't let it go on… I thought, standing rigidly in place. 12 years is far too long to suffer in a place such as this… my thoughts darkened, a sudden spike of fury rattled my occluded mind. It was too sudden to stop, too strong, too furious to contain – I snarled in pain as the freshly-made barriers shattered, the pain returning and warring with the anger.

"Control yourself, Potter," I growled aloud, my arms wrapping around my wounded midsection as I slumped against a wall, not allowing myself to slide down it. Hard enough to get up once… must focus… I whispered within the halls of my mind, slowly reforming the shields anew and sighing in relief as the pain faded.

"This is all your fault Dumbledore..." I whispered darkly, looking around the room and letting my eyes light on the snowy owl in the corner, glaring lightly as she hooted at me. "You know it is, the old bastard sent me back here… I told him this would happen…" I sighed, forcing the anger away before it could break my newly-regained control.

How long had I suffered because of that old fool and his meddling? My thoughts betrayed me, refusing to stay contained despite my burgeoning prowess in the mental arts. They warred against me, demanding retribution against perceived wrongs. A familiar chill ran up my spine as my thoughts darkened, the single window in the room rattled within its framing and a low growl escaped my constricting throat. What I would give for a single moment of freedom from this place…


Something I'd been denied my entire life. Enslaved to suffering for reasons I could not yet fathom. Oh, I knew the stories – stories of dark lords, stories of murder and sacrifice. Sometimes I wish I had gone with you mother, it would be so much simpler… I thought, turning my eyes up to the white plaster ceiling.

I closed my eyes again, focusing inward and entering a mindscape that reflected my torment – a war-torn patch of broken land surrounded by a shell of darkest obsidian. I never could get it to look like Hogwarts… I thought with a trace of dark amusement, looking at the ruined remnants of a castle around me. I walked slowly through the halls of thought and memory, glaring balefully at a door reinforced with iron bars, the faintest feminine scream still audible if one listened closely. Hello mother…

I continued on, deeper into the ruins, the corridors growing smaller and more crowded. More doors were in this hallway, more doors than could possibly have rooms – this area was from before. Before I had learned Occlumency, before I had brought peace to the maelstrom of my mind. All of these memories I had hurriedly organized in my rush to form workable shields, many of my memories had been damaged by the effort. I was such a fool… I thought, opening a door at random and stepping through, sighing explosively as I beheld the massive beast from the Chamber in all its glory.

Hello… well, we never did quite get on speaking terms, did we? I thought bemusedly, walking around the basilisk – currently frozen in a striking posture above a small boy. I was so small… am so small. I corrected with a grimace. Was it really only a month ago? A month since I'd been broken by the remnant of Tom Riddle, a month since I'd battled a beast of legend… a month since she had died.

Perhaps the Dursleys are my penance…? I asked myself, stepping past the giant snake and walking to the ethereal form of my most hated nemesis. Is he truly, though? The thought gave me pause. True, it's his fault I'm here, his fault I suffer… but is Dumbledore not just as much to blame? Isn't this broken world just as much to blame for allowing it all to happen? For allowing me to… fall… I sighed again, sitting down on the damp stone floor and looking at the murky water that pooled before Salazar Slytherin's statue.

I still felt guilty from time to time, guilty for the knowledge I had sought and the dark gifts I had developed. If only they knew… I thought with a trace of amusement. My eyes locked on a single, suspended drop of water falling from high above down to the murky water before me. As I watched it began to move, slowly at first then finally plopping into the water at speed – the memory had begun to play.

The boy dodged to the side just as the huge serpent crashed into the masonry behind him. No help is coming… he thought, panic cracking the occlumency he had so recently learned. I'm… going to die here… his thoughts were betraying him, weakening him. He dove behind a pillar, not daring a look back – knowing the eyes would kill him just as soon as the massive, poisonous jaws. I'm such a fool…

He let out a yelp as the column behind him shook with sudden impact and dashed away from the failing stone. No help for it… please don't miss … he thought, turning and training his eyes on the ground as he blindly fired the first curse that came to mind, "Diffindo!" A beam of crimson flashed from his wand, impacting the side of the basilisk's open mouth and dislodging a single scale – he had aimed at its eye.

"Damnit!" He cursed, turning a corner and fleeing into a series of tubes as he heard the beast crash into a pillar behind him – the sudden direction change had sent it sprawling. Get it in here, easier to aim… I need something stronger… he thought, recalling all the trips to the Restricted Section, all the spells he'd learned by wand light behind the safety of his drapes. Dark magic…? There's no choice… he thought, unable to stifle the rush of exhilaration at finally daring to use the taboo magicks – the rush was short-lived, however. Can I even cast them…?

He knew what was required, of course. It had indirectly led him to learn the mind arts, after all. He had wanted an escape from the sorrow and the rage that was his life, a way to take control of his storming emotions and a way to lock away the nightmares of memory. An obscure text in the Restricted Section had referenced it and he'd spent nearly the entire year learning it. Among other things… he thought darkly, turning another corner and stumbling as he tripped over a small pile of rat skeletons.

Hate and rage were needed to cast the dark curses, dark emotions to fuel dark intent. No shortage of either of those… he thought with some trace of amusement despite the panic chiseling away at his mind. The problem was focus, and that had been another reason he'd sought the shelter of an occluded mind. He had followed the book's tenants, he had ignored the warnings of seeking too much progress too quickly, and he had mostly succeeded. Mostly…

He had managed to block the memories of his torturous childhood some months back, and now he knew he'd have to open them again. He hadn't separated the emotions as the book had said; instead, he'd rushed to lock them away… and now he'd have to face them again. Along with a 30-meter snake… brilliant…

"You stupid beast! Kill him already!" A voice shouted from somewhere down another pipe, causing Harry to snarl. This fool was the reason he was here after all, this fool and her. He ducked into another pipe as he heard the serpent draw closer. I'm tired of running. He thought suddenly, stopping in his tracks and looking down at the wand gripped tightly in his hand. With a single, intense glare of focus he ripped open the halls of his memory and let the nightmares free.

His arm snapped audibly as his Uncle wrenched him up from his cupboard and slammed him into a wall…

He hacked blood as Dudley and Piers rained kicks onto his abdomen…

He stumbled up the stairs, ears still ringing from the impact of Aunt Petunia's frying pan on his skull…

A woman screamed his name as viridian fire claimed her life…

Harry faltered, forcing down the bile in his throat as the memories struck him with vengeance; turning and focusing all the hate he could glean from the stream of memory. "Falx!" he roared, jerking his wand in a horizontal arc through the air just as the massive basilisk turned the corner. A scythe of violet power roared forward, slamming into the beast's face and drawing a howl of rage from its open mouth and a grin of sick pleasure from its intended victim.

Hope it hurts, fucking abomination… he thought, dashing back into the more open area of the Chamber and glaring at the remnant of Voldemort standing over… her…

Ginny Weasley had been a port in a storm. His first year had been dismal; he made few friends – a half-blood in a house of pureblooded serpents. He had sought shelter in the arms of knowledge, but he refused to be like that mudblood Granger. He had studied in secret, studied spells to warp and strengthen the mind, spells of darkest wrath and blackest intent to be found in Hogwarts. He had braved Knockturn Alley in the summer months, spending what he dared take from his trust vault on illegal tomes. He told himself he'd use the knowledge to break free from the life he'd suffered, and yet all it had done was isolate him further. Ginny had spoken to him and sought him out despite her fool brother's anti-Slytherin propaganda.

He had helped her with classes she struggled with, been her friend as those in her own house isolated her, held her when she cried and she'd returned the favor when his fledgling attempts at Occlumency failed and the memories washed over him anew…

And now she's going to die… his thoughts whispered, watching as the memory of Riddle grew more opaque. No… NO! he snarled, bringing his wand forward. "Cruormorsis!" he shouted as a sphere of sickly yellow-green erupting forth from his wand and passed through the shade of Voldemort, drawing a cackling laugh from the specter.

"Dark magic, Harry? So surprising… a pity that you're a bit early, try again in a few more moments," the teenaged Dark Lord stated mockingly. I really fucking hate him… Harry thought, turning just in time to hear an echoing roar – the serpent had recovered. It entered the room and swirled its ruined head, fluid oozing from two ravaged eye sockets and mingling with the poison steadily dripping from bared fangs. He looks pissed…

A cool wind blew up his spine as he beheld the beast, his eyes closing involuntarily for a single moment. What was that…? He queried his mind, opening his eyes as the beast's head snapped to face him. I'm so tired of running… thoughts began to turn to despair within him, and yet the chill in his spine intensified, spreading through him and replacing his doubt with purpose. Is this dark magic? He thought in surprise as he felt his mind clear, eyes narrowing when the clarity made it easier to hold on to the rage he'd earlier bought from memory.

To hell with it, I'd sooner die here with Ginny than run like a coward any longer… he stated determinedly within his mind, raising his wand to the approaching serpent. "Cruormorsis!" he growled out, the same sickly yellow-green sphere racing from his wand and impacting the serpent's ruined head, splashing across it and immediately searing it away with acid. Harry smiled grimly as the beast thrashed before him, launching a quartet of dark cutting curses at its body – two of which found their targets and opened deep gashes in the beast's neck.

He was panting now, the exertion of the spells tiring him even as they filled him with euphoria. The coolness in his back was now a hungering cold, demanding more – needing more. Why is it still moving…? He thought in dismay, watching as the beast began to inch towards him once more, opening its maw wide and rearing back to strike.

Let this work… "Cryomortis!" Harry yelled and pointed his wand into the gaping maw before him as a sphere of purest cerulean flew forth. The curse bathed the beast's mouth and fangs in hoarfrost as it passed, making it halfway down the gullet of the serpent before detonating and snap-freezing internal organs and flesh alike.

Harry fell to his knees from exertion, watching as the basilisk swayed for a moment before finally falling to the stone floor. "If he gets up from that I quit," the dark-haired boy quipped, slowly pushing himself up to his feet then grunting as he was blasted across the room. He impacted a stone column with a sickening crunch and slid to the floor, dazed.

"A valiant performance, Mr. Potter. A pity it was all in vain," a voice mocked him, the sound of footfalls – solid footfalls – echoing on the cold stone. No… too late… Harry thought dazedly, his mind slow to recover from the impact and the haze of pain that followed. Ginny…

"You took her from me…" Harry whispered, pushing himself to his feet and swaying before finally locking eyes with the creature before him. "I'll kill you…" he whispered, eyes flicking to the pale body lying on the stone some distance back. The cold in his back had spread now; a black fire consuming warmth and spreading hate. Icy fingers wrapped around his heart and began to squeeze.

"I welcome you to tr—" the Dark Lord started.

"Avada Kedavra!"

Another droplet fell and impacted the water, the ripples spreading in concentric rings before slowing and stopping along with the memory that bound them. I stood slowly and dusted off my pants, a pointless gesture within the halls of one's mind – yet it helped to bring a semblance of closure to the now-frozen memory. I turned and slowly walked past the cold body on the ground, refusing to spare her a glance. I walked past the mutilated corpse of the serpent, past the shocked face of a teenaged Dark Lord, ducked my head under an arc of viridian lightning and patted the shoulder of my enraged younger self.

"We tried," I whispered quietly, continuing forward – my footfalls oddly loud on the cold stone.

The door closed behind me as I stepped away from the memory, turning my eyes up to the ruined ceiling. Enough reminiscing… I thought to myself, wiping a few traitorous tears from my eyes as my mindscape fell away to be replaced with dilapidated furniture and blood-spattered floorboards. Welcome back to the waking world, Harry Potter… I thought mockingly to myself, glancing at the door before pulling out the pocket watch Ginny had given me at Christmas. 9:38pm.

I pushed myself away from the wall and immediately faltered, forgetting my wound for a moment before pain spiked past the barriers of my mind and struck home. I'm sick of dancing to the tune of dark lords and doddering old fools… the thought gave me pause. It wasn't that the thought was particularly new – it wasn't – but it struck a chord with the memory I'd so recently relived.

Ginny is gone. Tom Riddle took her just as he took my parents… and Dumbledore will take what's left of me by keeping me here… I thought to myself, hearing my Uncle's heavy footfalls and bracing myself with all of my will as the door slammed open.

"Boy! Get down here and wash the dishes for your aunt! You know she works hard to feed us," I never see any of it… "and the least you can do is clean up for her!" Vernon roared, stepping forward and grasping me by the neck and pinning me to the wall. He spared a glance at the splatters of blood on the floor and continued "And if you so much as mention your disciplining to that… that… Headmaster of yours, you're going back in that cupboard and you'll wish you'd have died in that car accident with those freak parents of yours!"

"It wasn't a car accident," I whispered, wondering where the sudden rebellious words came from and bracing myself for the strike to follow. I wasn't to be disappointed as a sudden backhand sent me tumbling to the floor.

"Shut your freakish mouth! What have I told you about backtalk!?" Vernon snarled and kicked my already bruised ribs once before turning and stomping from the room. Hate him… hate this entire family… I thought and slowly pushed myself up and spat out another mouthful of blood. Hate Voldemort, hate Dumbledore… hate this world…

A familiar chill spread up my spine.

That feeling again… I thought, my eyes widening slightly. I hadn't felt that euphoria since the Chamber. Why do I suffer here? What's the point? They'll kill me long before I graduate Hogwarts…

My thoughts darkened as I questioned why I suffered; the black fire in my breast spread as I considered the die I had been cast in… and ways to break it. I heard my Uncle yell my name again from the bottom of the stairs. My eyes slowly tracked to the open door to my room; it was the first time the locks had been released in a week. Freedom… all it would take is a few spells… Azkaban is better than this, if it could even hold me…

I smiled then, truly one of the first and only times I would ever do so within these halls. A numbing chill spread through me, sheets of ice forming along the barriers of my mind. I welcomed the cold.

I picked up my watch from where it had fallen and inspected it. 9:49pm – perfect time to change my world. I thought with some amount of dark amusement.

The door beckoned me and I answered the call, walking through it and feeling the anticipation grow within me. I'm taking control; to hell with all of this… I thought darkly, my steps seemed to take ages to descend. Ginny wouldn't want me to suffer here…

"He's finally coming, dad!" the youngest fat whale proclaimed in glee, his girth taking up the entire hallway at the bottom of the stairs. "How's the ribs, Potter?" Dudley asked with a wicked grin on his pudgy face.

"Falx," I whispered, almost caressing the words with my tongue as the dark cleaving curse lanced from my wand and severed my dear cousin's legs at the thighs. His screams are… amazing. They spoke to some part of me, whispered within the depths of my mind and spread the cold stain on my back.

"Dudley? What are you going…" Aunt Petunia appeared from the living room, her eyes widened as she beheld the twitching stumps of her son's legs. Dudley was rapidly going into shock on the floor.

"I don't think he's getting up, Aunt Petunia," I stated mockingly, raising my wand and snarling a familiar acid curse as she opened her mouth to scream. The curse struck her high in the chest, eating through her small endowments and soon exposing the ribs and tissue beneath. She fell back to the floor, gurgling and twitching as the acid continued to consume her flesh. The bones are so… white… I thought suddenly.

I walked into the living room and suddenly found myself staring down the barrel of my uncle's shotgun. "You… you freak!" Vernon snarled - the open gun cabinet behind him was an obvious source of the weapon. I forgot all about that. I thought. "Look what you did to your… my… I'll kill you!" the lump of a man roared, time seemed to slow as I hurriedly put one foot within my mindscape.

Protego works on magic and reflects it, less effective on physical attacks… I was wracking his brain at this point, part of me running down ruined hallways and flinging open ironbound doors. I watched as Vernon leveled the weapon slowly; time traveled differently in the realm of thought. Something… something… suddenly it came to me, my wand rose as my lips muttered a word I'd until now only read on yellowed parchment, "Reverto Telum."

The shotgun fired a moment later, the buckshot disappearing into a dark miasma that sprung to existence before me. "You fucking little fre—," Vernon's words were cut off as the mist reformed and suddenly redirected the deadly projectiles. The oversized man gurgled as over a dozen lead bearings slammed into his chest and stomach.

"A return spell, Uncle Vernon," I explained in my best Granger-voice. "It was created in the 1600s to redirect arrows from archer fire. I confess, I wasn't sure if it would work on muggle bullets… they travel so much faster, you see." I continued mockingly, unable to resist a chuckle as my uncle fell over the couch and crawled towards the fallen shotgun. "A pity though, as there seems to be a limit to how much velocity it can reflect…" I mused aloud and watched impassively as my uncle reached the weapon and managed to pump it once, chambering a new shell. "Something to consider for later," I finally concluded and raised my wand once more.

"Crucio," I whispered almost lovingly, truly the most affectionate voice I'd ever dared use around my family. A pulse of red energy struck and Vernon screamed loudly, hands twitching and firing the weapon in his hands again – the shot slamming uselessly into the nearby TV and bringing a hail of sparks from the ruined electronics. "Careful uncle, what will the neighbors think?" I asked with a mocking drawl, twisting my wand and forcing more of the hate forward. The spell intensified, causing arcs of crimson energy to dance over the beached whale before me. Vernon's back arched to nearly impossible degrees as froth spilled from his open mouth. This is incredible… I thought, feeling the feedback of the Unforgivable, the euphoria cracking the shields of my mind and letting the raging inferno of dark fire seep into my thoughts. I cackled loudly then, pricks of madness dotting my vision.

Suddenly, a staccato of pops sounded from outside the house and brought my occlumency shields slamming back into place. The chill within me rebelled as I cut the torture curse but I forced it down with sheer will alone, this was no time to revel in my vengeance. The popping sounds were unnatural in a muggle neighborhood, and I wracked my brain for the cause. Apparition makes such noises… I recalled from a textbook on the art, my eyes widening as I realized what I'd been doing. Aurors… Ministry tracking charms on my wand, underage magic, unforgivables… I'm such a fool! Panic set in then as I rapidly cast a cleaving charm at my uncle to finish him and looked around hurriedly for an escape.

I have to get out of here… I thought, looking around at the broken remnants of my family. Dudley had long since bled out on the floor, Petunia's organs were visible beneath the bleached bones of her chest, and the cleaving curse had split Vernon from hip to shoulder. I looked at the discarded shotgun nearby, hoping that the aurors wouldn't recognize the muggle firearm for what it was. I lifted it with my free hand, grunting at the weight and casting a quick lightening charm on the weapon, pumping it once as my uncle had done. Slowly and quietly I slipped to the hallway before the front door, just as I heard the quiet murmuring of an unlocking charm on the other side. I spared a glance at the weapon in my hand, trying not to dwell on the fact that my knowledge of muggle firearms likely wasn't much greater than that of my adversaries; I knew where the trigger was though and the results of what happened when I pulled it, and that would have to be enough.

Hopefully the firearm would give me an edge before I had to result to magic, as I knew aurors were trained in defense against the dark arts I employed. Still… my thoughts were interrupted when I heard the first quiet footfalls in the hallway. I steeled myself and swung out, holding the lightened firearm forward with my left hand and firing before the auror got over the shock of seeing a child wielding the long stick of metal and wood. My eyes bulged as the recoil struck, the lightened weapon only served to increase its force and I winced at the sound of my wrist snapping. The shotgun fell from my limp hands, striking the floor at almost the same time as the first auror. I'm such a fool… I hissed to myself at my own ignorance of muggle weapons – I hadn't even considered the damnable things could strike back at you!

I ducked hurriedly into the kitchen, trying to focus on anything but the pain as a stunner slammed into the open doorway I'd just vacated. Of course, aurors travel in pairs… I thought, glancing at the plaster wall between kitchen and hallway. Dudley tripped and nearly fell through that once… my thoughts continued, recalling how weak and thin the plaster truly was and raising my wand towards it. "Falx!" I whispered, making a wide diagonal slash across the wall as the curse rushed forward, carving through the unenforced muggle obstruction and sending a gout of blood through the nearly-made hole.

I felt more than heard the anguished scream of the second auror on the other side, my eyes widening almost comically. I just killed two aurors… My thoughts were coming harder now, a familiar heady euphoria spreading through me and consuming any notions of grief or regret over my actions. I needed to get out of this house, needed to get away from here. Maybe the Knight Bus?

I rushed out into the hallway to leave only to trip over the body of the first auror, who I realized to my shock was still alive. The man locked eyes with me; he gurgled on his own blood and reached for my leg while his other hand fumbled in his robes. I snarled at him, kicking at him viciously and succeeded in freeing my leg just as he pulled a length of golden chain from his robes and disappeared in a flash. Portkey… I didn't spare a thought to how close I had come to being transported to the Ministry as I jumped over the corpse of the very-much-dead second auror and fled the house.

A sudden vindictive anger sparked in me as I looked at the perfectly-manicured front lawn, turning with a hiss of rage and firing off a trio of flame curses into the open door and windows. I smiled grimly as the enchanted flames grew and began to consume the setting of many of my nightmares, though my revelry would be short-lived. I turned at the series of sudden pops behind me, firing a spell before I even registered the new arrivals completely.

Two more aurors had arrived; my acid-burst spell struck the shoulder of the one on the right just as he was spinning around. It splashed over his face, sending him to the ground screaming as I turned to face off against the other. My eyes widened at the head of familiar bright pink hair before me. "Tonks!" I exclaimed, recognition seemed to dawn in her eyes and her wand lowered slightly.

"Harry…? What are you doing here?" She asked, eyes hardening as she spared a glance at the now-dead auror some meters away from us. "What in the buggering hell have you done, Harry?" She asked again, the tears prickling in her eyes were visible even from my distance.

I wracked my brain for an excuse, for a reason to give her that didn't mention the dark hate within me or the stain on my soul that was spreading within my breast. "Tonks, I…" I started, my own wand faltering. More aurors would be arriving soon, but I didn't want to fight the woman before me – and yet I'd have to if I wished to escape. Or will I…? "Imperio!"

The sudden unforgivable by a 13-year old wizard struck her by surprise – she was still a trainee auror, I had to remind myself. Confusion flooded the link to her mind that the spell had created, and I recognized what I had to do. "Tonks, help me!" I cried into her mind, injecting my mental voice with the very real panic I was feeling. "They're trying to hurt me!" I continued, just as several more pops heralded the arrival of reinforcements. It hurt me to twist the mild affection she felt for me to my own ends, but the regret was swiftly crushed by the swelling cold in my chest. I felt her anger at my would-be adversaries as she turned and squared off with two of the new arrivals.

I dashed across the street as the sound of spellfire echoed from my left when I suddenly tripped and smashed my face into the pavement. I wrenched my legs apart from the tripping jinx and glared hatefully at the gnarled auror that had just appeared to my right.

"Enough Potter," the man grumbled, his staff alight with power as he leveled it at me. I pushed myself up slowly then snarled out my favorite cleaving curse, watching in dismay as he simply raised his staff – both halves of the curse splitting and dissipating behind him. "I've seen it all before, lad," the man continued, firing a magenta curse that I'd never seen with such a speed I couldn't so much as raise a shield.

I fell over when the spell struck me with sudden nausea. Panic curse…? I realized, feeling the barriers of my mind begin to crumble from the assault. "Tonks! Save me!" I yelled down the still-open channel to the auror's mind, feeling her respond. I forced myself to my feet just as a hail of spells flew over my shoulder and impacted the shield of the grizzled auror before me, hearing his muttered curse as he was forced to deal with his new aggressor.

The panic curse was still affecting me, seeping into my mind and filling me with doubt. I ran to the house across from #4 and jumped the fence, hiding in the back yard as the fear took hold of me. I fought with it, warred against the rebellious thoughts in my head and finally shook it off. "Should have stunned me, one-eyed codger…" I muttered under my breath, hearing the sounds of spellfire begin to fade moments before the connection to Tonks was suddenly and violently cut. Now what…? My eyes scanned the fenced-in backyard around me just before the fence turned into a 5-meter high wall of stone in a powerful display of transfiguration.

"Harry Potter!" A voice roared from the other side of the house, and I felt the blood in my veins match the temperature of the chill within my soul. Albus Dumbledore had arrived.

The panic within me had nothing to do with the curse from earlier as I leaned against the back of the house. I'm done for… They'll give me the kiss me for this… My thoughts were traitorous but correct, I realized. There was no choice for it, no avoiding what was to come. My thoughts returned to Dumbledore. Figures the puppet master would come to see the results of his work… I thought savagely, a new resolve blossoming within me. Maybe the aurors would kill me rather than capture me; maybe I could bring the king down with his pawn…

I knew not the source of the confidence within me as I stepped out from behind the house. Slowly, I walked forward with purpose to the front lawn and faced no less than half a dozen aurors and the man who had slain the Dark Lord Grindlewald himself. I noticed Tonks among the aurors flanking the old man; the look of betrayal in her eyes very nearly brought me to tears. I forced down the sorrow and latched on to the familiar rage – there was strength in anger, strength to change one's destiny. For better or worse…

"What have you done, Harry?" The man asked, the golden gerbils running around his enchanted robes all stopped in their frolicking to give me disapproving looks. It was mildly disturbing. How does he do that, anyway? I grumbled within, though my face remained impassive.

I sneered at him and the last vestiges of the twinkle in his eyes. "I cut the strings," I stated simply, watching as the final twinkling died when he processed my metaphor. I grinned savagely at that; it was a victory in itself as far as I was concerned.

"You've killed tonight, Harry," Dumbledore stated, his eyes boring into mine and sending warning flags into my mind as my occlumency shields were tested. I shifted my gaze to his spotted nose and glared at it for all I was worth.

"Don't you read the Prophet, Professor?" I asked mockingly. "According to them, Ginny Weasley was my first murder." I continued, recalling the hateful articles condemning me as a dark lord in training ever since I'd walked into the infirmary at Hogwarts with the pale, lifeless body in my arms.

"We both know that wasn't you, Harry," the man across from me continued. I watched as the aurors all spread out in a semicircle around me, though they kept their wands lowered just as I did. They seemed content to let me and the Headmaster have a bit of a heart-to-heart here in the middle of Privet Drive, surrounded by broken bodies and the light of a burning house.

"Of course it wasn't, it was you!" I snarled, the hate within me cresting the walls of my mind and forcing action. My wand snapped up and fired a spell; a globe of cerulean flew forward – though it was far too slow, as the old man fired another spell just as quickly. The spells collided in midair, my frost spell detonating far too close to me and too far from any intended targets. Shards of ice sliced into my flesh, drawing numerous small wounds and filling the area with a thick fog of snap-frozen air.

I refused to be denied, bringing my wand up again and focusing on the slight outline of the old man through the haze. "Avada Kedavra!" I snarled, gathering all of the black hate within my breast and shoving it into my wand. The gathered aurors wore expressions of shock as viridian flame bloomed at the tip of my wand and bathed all those gathered in an emerald glow. Lightning lanced through the air, arcing wide and curving back towards its intended target. The auror's wands were rising, but they would be too slow. The old man himself seemed frozen in shock, shock that I could possibly harbor enough hate for him to use the darkest of the Unforgivables. I watched with sick amusement as the gerbils on the front of his robes all fled to his back in fear.

"Albus!" the nearest auror shouted and dove in front of the curse. I watched in dismay as it struck his shoulder and sent him spiraling to the ground; emerald sparks danced over his flesh and between the teeth of his open mouth, snuffing out the last vestiges of life and severing the anchors of his soul. It was beautiful in a way, bringing a familiar euphoria of darkness into me that helped to overcome the sense of failure over not claiming the headmaster.

I locked eyes with the old manipulator as the return fire of the aurors struck me, sending me flying into the air to crash into a tree on the property behind me. I heard more than felt the snap of my spine; my legs immediately going numb as I fell to the ground in a heap. A disarming spell had claimed my wand at some point during my aerial journey, and I realized I was defeated. I slid my hand into my pocket slowly and withdrew the watch that Ginny had given me. The face was cracked down the center, and the bronze framing was dented in a few places – but still it told me what I wished to know more than anything. 10:02pm. 13 minutes of freedom… I thought, smiling suddenly and hacking up a globule of blood from my newly-punctured lungs.

I began to laugh then, a mad cackling sound that visibly unnerved the aurors and caused a heartsick expression to appear on the up to now stoic old man. Equal parts blood and laughter escaped my lips as I turned my blurry gaze to the man that I held responsible for all of my suffering. "13 minutes!" I yelled at him and his damnable gerbils, just as a quartet of stunners slammed into my broken body and drove away my consciousness.

A/N: Please read and review.