Title: As the Darkness Clears
Summary: Harry returns the summer after his fifth year to discover the Dursley's are no longer afraid of him. What happens when their abuse goes too far, and Harry ends up permanently blind? Of course, it is only when Harry can no longer see the world that he begins to 'see' it as it truly is.
Warning: Rape (in first chapter only) and slash
A/N: Hello, HPLV fans. I understand there was a lot of confusion about who was writing this story, and it keeps getting abandoned, etc. So I promise you – I will not abandon this story! Also, this story was really popular when Ash was writing it, apparently, so I hope I can do half as well. Wish me luck, and I hope you enjoy! Also, to those who have never read this before, I warn you, Voldemort is pretty OOC.
Number 4 Privet Drive
July 20th, 1996
Harry James Potter had never felt more miserable in all fifteen years of his existence. For those who knew his story, this was truly saying something, for Harry had not led an easy life. However, the last year had been the worst of all, and Harry had been nowhere near recovered from the trauma of the fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry before he had been thrown into another situation that was almost as bad. Because Harry knew that although in his childhood, the Dursley's only abuse had been neglect, their hatred of him had risen so much over the last five years that the only things keeping him safe were the threat of his godfather's fury and the social embarrassment of having various witches and wizards from the Order of the Phoenix show up on their front porch.
However, the death of Sirius Black was big news; not just in wizarding circles but muggle ones as well. After all, he was the notorious escaped murderer, Sirius Black. Extremely dangerous. As soon as Cornelius Fudge leaned of Sirius's death, he contacted the muggle authorities to tell them of Sirius' demise. Soon, the news that Black was dead, and everyone was save, was all over the news channels. And Harry had almost been able to see the Dursley's minds clicking into gear as they stared at him past the large and bulky television set.
Still, he had had the Order's promise of protection to fall back on, and the idea that this may save him lasted only about a week into his summer vacation. It was then that Harry, and the Dursley's, noted that it had been seven days since Harry had spoken to anyone from the Order, and there hadn't been a bit of magical activity anywhere near Number 4 Privet Drive. Honestly, Harry hadn't thought Vernon brave enough to call the Order's bluff. Of course, he also hadn't known there was any bluff to call. He had been under the impression they had meant it, as strange as that sounded to him now.
It had been a month since Harry had entered the Dursley's household for the summer, and it was now only a week until his 16th birthday. But Harry did not feel like the Boy Who Lived, who would celebrate his birthday with his friends, with people who were like family to him. Who could look forward to gifts, warm smiles, well wishes and cheer. Now, he didn't even know why he bothered remembering what day it was. No one else would.
Currently, Harry was curled up, as small as possible, in the cupboard under the stairs. He was already small for his age, and malnourished; curling up like this made him a tiny target when faced with the rage of his relatives. He wasn't faced with them now, but he always assumed this position, trying to make himself safe, invisible, in a world that had become bewilderingly dangerous in only a few short weeks. He lay, perfectly silent and perfectly still. He had the act down pat; no muscle quivered, no careless breath moved his chest, no flicker of emotion crossed his still, blank face. It was as if he had simply died in his sleep, and no one had yet discovered the body. But Harry was not dead. At least – not yet. But how he wished he were...
Every single part of him ached. There was barely a white spot left on his body from the various bruises splotched over him, numerous cuts and scratches from Dudley's prized Swiss army knife burned from the contact of the rough carpet beneath Harry's bare chest. A particularly nasty looking bruise on his chest showed where a couple of ribs had been fractured, and had healed poorly on their own. He had a black eye that was swollen and nearly impossible to see past, and a raw and bloodied lip. His hands were rough, and bleeding as though he had been punching someone, rather then having simply suffered the effects of hours of scrubbing the floors, or weeding the garden, or doing whatever other chore they assigned him. Every single one of Harry's muscles seemed to have failed him, every patch of skin burned or ached. And his mind... his mind was far more broken then his body.
Harry knew his mind was not the same. He recognized that, but could not work up the energy to care. In the last year, Dumbledore had proven his cowardice by betraying Harry and avoiding him for a year, nearly getting him killed in the process. Ron and Hermione had shown him that when push came to shove, their true loyalty lay not with their friend, but with their headmaster, the one who could carry them to glory and greatness, the one who had all the answers. Umbridge had pronounced him a liar, and had tortured him with her quill without anyone seeming to notice or care. Most of the students had turned their backs on him. And Sirius. Sirius was dead. Gone. The only person Harry had left of his family, the one person, aside from Remus, that Harry trusted completely.
But now what did Harry have?
He had a broken, shattered body.
That was about it.
It was numbing, in a way, to realize that his body, and the clothes that covered it, were the only things in the world he had, now that the Dursley's had taken everything else away. As he lay there in that cupboard, perfectly still, quietly enduring both the mental and physical torture of the last couple of weeks, he realized that he was not going to survive until the end of the summer.
In some ways, the thought was calming. It would mean an end. An end to the pain inside of him, and end to everything. But the Durlsey's were not stupid. They weren't actually setting out to kill him. One day, they would go too far. Harry knew they would. But maybe not for weeks. And that just wasn't soon enough.
He winced, suddenly, alarmed by what he was thinking. Harry Potter was not the type to commit suicide. And even if he were, he had enough pride left to not want the Dursley's to push him into ending his own life. It would be much too satisfactory for them. He would survive as long as he could, no matter what it cost him. With that thought in mind, Harry cleared away the wince that had marred his features, then let himself drift off to sleep, welcoming the darkness that meant the pain would disappear.
Still Number 4, Privet Drive
The Next Morning
Harry looked up from the cloth he clutched in one pruned, scarred hand, and glanced across the kitchen floor to the door that led to the parlor, where the voice was coming from. His eyes were at half mast, as he struggled to stay awake, his usual state after the insomnia that had gripped him shortly after arriving back at Number 4. He dropped the soaping rag back into the bucket of water, and sat back on his heels, wincing slightly as he rubbed his raw hands onto the leg of his baggy sweat pants, trying to dry them.
"BOY! GET IN HERE!"
Somehow, Harry wasn't entirely sure how, Harry managed to stand up, nearly crying out as his swollen and battered knees protested the movement. Staggering, he managed to move across the kitchen and towards the parlor, pausing in the doorway. He stared in some disgust at his uncle, who lay sprawled into his favorite armchair, staring at the television as if hypnotized, the remote dangling from limp fingers. Vernon sensed Harry in the room and glanced over.
"About time." The man grumbled angrily, "Get the mail."
Harry moved automatically towards the front hall to obey, then paused as a memory washed over him, flickering through his mind like a tape that had been viewed too many times and was starting to fade. He had been only ten years old, and hadn't known a thing about wizards other then what he read in fiction books. Harry, Dudley, Vernon and Petunia had been sitting around the kitchen table, and they had all heard the mail fall through the slot into the front hall.
"Get the mail, Dudley" Vernon had muttered, absently.
"Make Harry get it." Dudley had whined in return.
"Get the mail, Harry."
"Make Dudley get it."
"Poke him with your smelting stick, Dudley."
Harry had gotten the mail. And that was when the had seen the letter – the first letter he had ever received, the first ray of hope that his life might be more then just a broken existence under the Dursley's torture. Now, as Harry moved to get the mail, he wondered what he would have done differently back then, knowing what he did not. He would have learned not to trust so easily, to question the world of his headmaster, and of those who wanted to befriend him, for one thing. Harry had been manipulated and taken advantage of once; he was determined that he would not be again. Perhaps, if he had it all to do again, it would have been better if he'd never gotten himself into that mess in the first place. If he had simply run away from the Dursley's and made a life of his own.
Technically, that was still an option. He could run away. Leave this all behind. But he could not. Some part of him still hoped, still prayed, that someone would come for him, save him. That he could have a life, instead of just struggling to survive. And as he walked towards the front fall, his mind was focused entirely on the mail, a foolish, optimistic part of him desperately hoping, even expecting to see a letter there. Not a letter telling him of supplies needed for the next year, but one from a friend, from Remus, maybe, or even Ron, just someone who could get him out of here. Of course, as he lifted the pile of envelopes, and shifted through them, he saw only bills and a random postcard. An absurd sense of disappointment filled him. Of course there was nothing for him.
Harry started to turn back towards the parlor, but froze in place as a strange noise met his ears. It was a soft, pained cry, but not a human sound. Animal. Definitely animal. It was Hedwig. Rage shot through Harry, and before he even knew what he was doing, before he registered the pain his movements cost him, he dropped the letters and bounded up the stairs, taking them two at a time to reach his owl.
Dudley had managed to get Hedwig from Harry's old bedroom, and was holding the owl captive in his own room. He held a smoking candle over the owl's cage, allowing the hot wax to drip over the side and onto Hedwig's back. She gave soft, strange, cries of pain, and rattled fiercely in her cage, but she could not escape or make the older boy stop.
"Dudley, stop!" Harry screamed, the first words he had spoken in days. He lunged forward and knocked the candle from the other boy's hand, knocking it to the ground. Dudley spun back in surprise, but grinned a stupid, evil grin. Harry recognized that look; he had come to know it, come to dread it, over the last four weeks.
"No.." He gave the soft, low cry but knew that protest was useless, that even as he turned towards the door, Dudley would grab him before he could run. The other boy may not have been faster then Harry, but he was stronger, and much bigger. Dudley swung his fist towards Harry's face, and Harry barely had time to cry out in fear before the other boy's fist hit his already-blackened eye. Pain rocketed through him,causing him to drop to the ground, and he almost passed out from the sheer agony of the blow. By the time he had scrambled to his knees and cleared his vision, Dudley had closed the door and was advancing on him. Hedwig, in her cage on the shelf behind him, was still crying out, but if her shrieks were heard from those downstairs they were ignored.
Dudley grinned that horrible smile once more before grabbing Harry's shoulders and pulling him towards him, kissing him with a wet, slobby, forceful kiss that nearly made Harry gag. Desperately, he pushed backwards, away from his cousin, and landed on his back on the rough floor.
"No, Dudley, please."
He wanted to scream, wanted to yell and pray that someone would save him. But he was ashamed. He felt broken, defiled, as if nothing were ever going to be right or good in him again. This was his fault, his mind told him, and he could not refute it, though he wanted to. Besides, he knew that Vernon and Petunia knew what was going on. But they would never admit it. Never accept it. And never save him.
Dudley dropped heavily to his knees and lay over Harry, his unbelievable weight pressing Harry into the floor as he kissed the smaller boy again, forcing his tongue past Harry's lips, making Harry sob and splutter and gag. Dudley was pulling down Harry's pants, even as Harry fought fiercely, uselessly, beneath the bulk of his cousin. The chubby, sausage like hand wrapped around Harry, squeezed, stroked roughly and Harry felt sickened.
Then Dudley was removing his own shorts, pinning Harry down with his chest and shoulders as he wiggled out of his trousers and drawers. He managed to lift his weight off the smaller boy, grabbing him, turning him, forcing him into position. And still Harry struggled, crying out quietly, begging, pleading Dudley to let him go. Hot tears of shame and fury poured down Harry's cheeks, and when Dudley entered him dry with one rough, harsh movement, Harry could not hold back the scream of pain. He crumpled forward, the fight gone out of him, and allowed Dudley to hold him up as the other boy plunged in and out of him from behind. Blood trickled down Harry's thighs, and Dudley's hot , putrid breath washed over his neck and ears as the older boy grunted and squealed like a pig in his pleasure. Then it was over. Dudley pulled out, and Harry heard him moving around, but did not move, did not open his eyes, merely lay there, crumpled, and cried silent tears.
Finally, long after the other boy had gone, Harry found the strength to stand. To clean himself up with a numb, empty mind, to dress and make himself look as normal as possible. But he didn't leave Dudley's room. Not yet. He crossed the room to his owl's cage and opened it, letting Hedwig hop feebly onto his arm. With tears still drying on his cheeks, Harry got a cloth and removed as much of the wax as he could, wincing at his friend's burned skin. Then he moved to the window, flung it open.
"Go to Remus." He whispered. "It's not safe for you here. I will find you again, girl."
The owl regarded him with her wise, golden eyes, and Harry was almost positive she knew exactly what he was saying. Hopping further up his arm, she nuzzled his cheek, the friendly, caring gesture causing moor tears to leak out of Harry's eyes. Then the owl moved to the window sill and spread her wings, cautiously testing if they could still hold her after the burning wax. Then she jumped, her wings holding her up and carrying her through the air. Harry watched her until she disappeared from view, then felt himself stiffening in terror when he heard the door open again behind him. He knew that Dudley had returned, but there was no way he was going to come at him again, right?
Instead, Dudley noticed that his newest toy was no longer in it's cage. Harry spun and watched the boy's glazed, stupid eyes flash from the cage to the open window, to Harry's face.
"What did you do?" Dudley roared, crossing the room to Harry. Harry winced, and drew back, then relaxed slightly as Dudley changed course to Hedwig's cage. But the older boy snatched the top of the metal cage and swung it like a weapon, smashing into the side of Harry's face. Harry fell backwards , almost toppling through the window. He snatched the sill to save himself, and pushed himself forward back into the room, moving away from the open window as he clutched his jaw.
"You idiot!" Dudley screamed, "That was mine! "
Harry thought of Hedwig's pained cries, her trusting face, the way she had nuzzled her cheek. A sudden, unexpected rage shot through him.
"No. She wasn't. She was my friend." He croaked, his voice still rough from disuse and hoarse from crying, "You could have seriously hurt her."
"That was the point." Dudley grunted, his expression dark. "The stupid bird isn't your friend. You don't have any friends. You don't have any family. You don't have anyone or anything. Even your stupid godfather died rather then hang around you!"
He swung the cage again, and crashed it into the other side of Harry's head. Harry fell, and lay for a moment, still and silent on the ground. Rage was still pumping through him, an anger unlike any he had felt since first arriving at the Durleys that summer. He was so sick of it. So, so tired of being pushed around, beaten up, raped, and taken advantage of. He hated that the Dursleys could mock the people he loved, torture the only friend he'd still had with him, and leave him crumpled in a corner to suffer alone.
No matter what had happened to him in the past year, the people who had betrayed him, the ones who had died, no matter what he had and what he didn't, no matter who respected him and who didn't, he was till the bloody Boy Who Lived. He was Harry Bloody Potter, and Harry Potter didn't just put up with this. He glanced up into Dudley's red face and, without warning, launched himself at his cousin. Only the fact that he'd taken Dudley by surprise allowed him to knock the older boy to the ground, but he didn't allow Dudley to recover. All his rage and pain of the last month poured out of him as he plowed his fists into his cousin's stomach and face again and again, hitting as hard as he could, wherever he could, until Dudley recovered his senses and tossed Harry bodily from him. Harry smashed into the wall, smacking his head hard and falling to the ground yet again.
Dudley didn't attack him though. Instead, sobbing and blubbering and screaming, he dashed from the room and down the stairs. Harry managed to stand yet again, stumbling to the door and slamming it shut, fumbling for the lock. When he was safely locked inside the room, he scrambled back against the furthest wall and curled up, making himself as small as possible. A moment later, he heard a roar of rage from downstairs, and Petunia's scream. Then there were heavy, thundering footsteps on the stairs, and Vernon pounded on the door.
"BOY! OPEN THIS DOOR RIGHT NOW!"
Harry remained silent, cowering in his terror. His rage had faded, leaving him with a sense that he had done something incredibly stupid, and was already regretting it. Vernon began slamming his body weight against the door, preparing to break it down. One slam. The door shuddered violently. With the second slam, there was a cracking sound, as if the wood around the lock were weakening. With the third and final slam, the wood around the lock splintered, and the door swung open. Moving surprisingly fast for a man of his size, he shot across the room and hauled Harry to his feet. Without a word, he dragged a struggling and protesting Harry out of the room, down the stairs, and into the parlor, tossing him carelessly at Dudley's feet.
"LOOK WHAT YOU DID TO MY SON!"
Dudley scrambled back from Harry, as if afraid, and hid behind his mother, who was standing in the corner and regarding Harry with fierce eyes, hatred seeping out of every pore. Before, Petunia had looked away when Harry was about to be beaten, or left the room. Sometimes she even cried for him. But that had clearly changed. Harry had just lost the only person who had any sympathy for him in this home. He didn't care, though. There was no way out of this – he had done the unforgivable and fought back for once. Now, he had to pay the price.
Harry yelped as Vernon suddenly yanked him up from the ground and slammed him into the mantle. He gasped as all the breath left his body, then choked as his uncle pounded a beefy fist into Harry's stomach. Harry screamed brokenly as he crumbled t the ground, and he felt the pain of whaling fists and kicking feet. He heard a crack and knew that his ribs had broken yet again. Vernon slammed down hard on his arm, at least fracturing, possibly breaking it, causing Harry to yell again as agony pierced through him. He sobbed, begging for the pain to end. A final kick was aimed at his face, and his glasses shattered. A red hot fire of pain flashed through his eyes. And then, suddenly, there was a loud CRACK. Harry would have recognized the sound anywhere. Someone had apparated into the room. CRACK. CRACK. CRACK. More then one someone.
Harry began to cry harder, because the beating had stopped, and there was hope. Whoever this was, surely they would save him. He tried to get to his feet, and only managed to land on his hands and knees. He couldn't see anything. The room appeared to be fading from his view. First, it was as if there were a thick mist obscuring his vision, but as he moved forward, it grew darker until the room was pitch black. The pain was too much. He heard his own pained, desperate cries, but beyond that there more more screams, flashes and bangs, shouts and screams of rage. He crumbled to the carpet get again, but could not curl up as he usually did, his broken ribs impeding the movement. So he lay there, uselessly, sobbing out his pain, crying for help. Finally, the room faded to near silence, except for his gut-wrenching cries. A horrible smell pierced the air – a coppery smell. Blood. Was it his? Harry was in too much pain to care.
He heard the sound of someone cursing quietly, as if in horror. Someone else in the room was gagging. But there was one... footsteps approached him; light, gentle steps that could not belong to his uncle or cousin. Still, Harry drew back automatically, cringing, his arms flashing up to cover his eyes, which still burned with a horrible, endless pain. A soft voice was speaking. Soothing him, whispering gently to him. The voice was familiar to Harry, but he could not place it – it was a warm, velvet voice, and he instinctively wanted to trust its owner. Still, experience had him trying to move backwards, knowing it was unsafe to trust this unknown person.
Hands were on his shoulder. Lifting him, pulling him into someone's arms. Someone was cradling him, as if he were a small child. Urgent commands were being spoken in the background: they were preparing to take him somewhere. Somewhere safe, they said. They would heal him. He recognized other voices too, but could not place them, either.
"No!" Harry wailed, "Please, please, leave me..."
The person cradling Harry tightened his hold automatically.
"No, Harry." The voice replied softly. "Calm yourself."
Harry reached up, clutched at the person's robe.
~ Kill Me ~ He hissed, barely realizing, in his pain and terror, that he was speaking parseltongue. Then, to his surprise, the person replied in the same tongue.
~Never. I will never hurt you again ~
And the person reached up their wand, and Harry felt the tip of the wand resting against his temple. The person murmured a spell, one that would make Harry fall asleep. But he struggled against the sudden, overwhelming weariness. He needed to think. To understand what this all meant. And just as sleep overwhelmed him, Harry pieced it all together.
The man was speaking Parseltongue. He could only be Lord Voldemort. And yet his voice, which Harry had found so difficult to place, had been that of a 17 year old Tom Riddle, the one Harry had heard in his second year. The other voices had been Lucius Malfoy and Severus Snape, voices he should have recognized sooner.
Voldemort had found him. Harry didn't know how, or why he was being treated so well, or why Voldemort would swear not to hurt him. He also didn't know why Voldemort sounded exactly as he had when he was 17 years old. But sleep crept up on him, and before he could think any further, he fell into unconsciousness.
June 24th, 1996
Tom Morvolo Riddle sat in one of the tall chairs in his darkened meeting hall, enjoying the silence and the dark of the empty room. He leaned forward, resting his head in his hands, and for the first time in a while was far too distracted to marvel at the strands of dark hair that fell over his fingers. Ever since Harry's blood had been used to restore Voldemort's body in the cemetery, Voldemort had been slowly regaining the youthful appearance he had had while in his last year at Hogwarts. He had needed to use a glamor, of course, during his attack on the Ministry of Magic, so no one would know, but in the last couple of weeks, the transformation had completed, making him look exactly like his seventeen year old self.
He had no energy to remain happy about that, however, because he had far more pressing things on his mind. Such as the near-death of one Harry James Potter. A year ago, Voldemort would have been thrilled to find the protective barrier around Harry's house gone, with a near-dead Harry inside. Now Tom Riddle was merely filled with relief – relief that they had gotten there in time, that the boy would survive his ordeal.
It was all that boy's fault. A year ago, Voldemort had been ugly, cruel, dark. Now, he was handsome once more, and though he still felt darkness churning within him, none of it would be – or could be, directed at Harry. He wanted to say that the only reason he felt this way about the boy was because of some demented magic their blood transfusion had done. But he knew it wasn't true. He had cared about Harry long before that, but he had not known how to handle it. He had been cold, cruel and heartless for so long. He had decided Harry was a necessary sacrifice, and had tried desperately to kill him. Even as the blood continued its work, allowed him to care for Harry as normal people cared for each other, he had tried yet again to kill Harry at the Ministry. And he had failed. He was unable to do it. He had come to care far too much about the teen. For a while, it had infuriated him. But then, he had learned from Severus and Draco what had happened to Harry in the previous year, and he realized Harry needed him.
All summer, Voldemort had been searching desperately for Harry, but the blood bond had been protecting his location. However, that afternoon, something had changed. Voldemort didn't know what it was, but the blood bond was no longer protecting Harry. He had been able to apparate to him shortly after the bond had broken. And just in time, too, as it seemed. Again and again the images flashed through his mind, the sight of Harry, broken and bloody, trying to crawl across the floor, desperately trying to escape. He remembered the amazing feeling of holding Harry in his arms, of clutching him tightly to him. Then Harry's whispered plea, "Kill Me". It broke his heart, that plea, and that pain was an unfamiliar feeling for him. But he was determined. He would protect Harry. But he would not change. If Harry could not accept him, could not accept that despite his unexplainable feelings for the boy, he was still the Dark Lord, then they wouldn't have the kind of relationship he craved. But he would still protect Harry. Because he... had to.
Suddenly, there was a quiet knock on the door, and Voldemort glanced around. Straightening and schooling his expression, he called out, "Enter."
Lucius Malfoy entered the room, walking forward until he reached his Master's chair, and bowing low.
"Harry Potter is awake, my Lord."
Voldemort stood quickly. It had been two days since they had rescued Harry from the Dursley's house. The Sleep spell should have worn off a long time ago, and Voldemort had feared for the child's life, despite Severus' assurances that the boy simply needed rest.
"Very well." He said, forcing an outward calm. "Lead the way."