Disclaimer: Harry Potter is not mine.

I'm sorry I did not update last week. It was finals week. I was swamped. I know I said I'd update two chapters this week but this is only the first one. Next chapter will be coming in two or three days. I'm sorry I fail so much.

THE DARK CHRONICLES

Chapter Three: First Impressions

- o - o -

The first time Harry felt something strange was up was when his parents asked the house elves to take him to Healer Wycksworth's instead of taking him themselves. His father had told him that they had something 'important' to do. The incident struck Harry as strange because James was grinning and there was a happy light in his eyes. In all his years, Harry could not ever remember his father in such high spirits. His mother looked more cheerful too and he often caught his parents in some corner of the manor cuddling together and whispering to each other.

On that Saturday, he'd accidentally eavesdropped on their conversation as they prepared to go somewhere 'important'.

"Do you think we should tell him now?"

"I don't know, Lils… It's a little too soon, don't you think?" James hedged. "We're not even sure yet, that's why we're going to St. Mungo's today. And that whole mess with Sarah MacLeod and Bradley Fenwick was just three months ago. He's probably not over it and this might just add a whole new level of confusion."

"Hmmm…" Lily traced her belly. "All right. We should get it confirmed at the very least."

James grinned and made to lift her in his arms, whereupon Lily shrieked with laughter and Harry, hiding behind a rusting suit of armor, walked quietly away careful not to interrupt. He wondered what sort of wonderful secret it could be that his mother and father were keeping together.

He was glad to see them happy. For a long time after he was taken away and found again, things between him and his parents had been tense and hard. They never touched him and whenever they looked at him, they looked away immediately like there was something about him they didn't want to be reminded of. That night, after he had been found, they'd taken him to a man with long white hair all over his head and around his mouth. Everyone had called the man Dumbledore.

Dumbledore had gazed sternly at Harry and asked him to tell exactly what had happened. The man had looked so formidable, telling Harry that he shouldn't lie because bad things happened to little liars. Harry wasn't even sure what a 'lie' was. He'd managed to tell Dumbledore in shaky whispers everything that had taken place and then he'd felt all tingly and the darkness had started coming out but then Dumbledore had made him drink something that made him sleepy and that was the last he'd remembered of that night before waking up in bed.

Harry was just glad it was all over.

- o - o -

Two months later

His mother and the old woman were having tea in the backyard. Half-hidden from behind the door, Harry spied on them. There was little else to do in the house these days, considering that his parents had still not found a new governess for him.

The old woman had arrived half an hour ago and although she looked strange with the bright clothes, red handbag, and birdlike hat there was something about her demeanor that suggested she brooked no disobedience. Harry had seen glimpses of his parents' friends and colleagues who popped in and out of the house over the years but he had never seen this woman before. His mother knew her, though, bending down to kiss her cheek and calling her 'Mrs. Longbottom'.

His mother. Harry frowned.

She and his father had been acting even more peculiar. They had ordered the house elves to clear out one of the old, unused rooms in the manor and it was being redecorated for… something. And his father was always touching his mother's stomach. Harry had noticed that his mother had gained weight there and it was bulging out slightly. Nobody had bothered telling him yet what was going on.

Harry had been going to the library when the old woman had arrived and although it had only been for a second, she'd looked at him with a cold speculation that sent a shiver down his spine. It reminded him a lot of Healer Wycksworth. And then she'd smiled only it hadn't been a smile at all because she didn't look happy while she was doing it, only tired.

"How is the boy?" the old lady had a crisp, strong voice.

His mother sighed. "The same. As far as James and I can tell. Harry's never really been very… expressive. The only difference as far as we can tell is that his… abilities are acting up again. They've gotten worse since the incident. Healer Wycksworth says it's like all the work that the potion and his therapy has accomplished so far has been reversed."

Mrs. Longbottom pursed her lips as though she'd eaten something sour. "Wycksworth," she harrumphed. "Wouldn't know his hat from his horns. I am still incredulous that a practical girl such as yourself would place your son in his hands."

"It was at Dumbledore's suggestion and it was necessary. Healer Wycksworth was the only one who could continue the ritual of suppressing Harry's powers."

"I still say it's a bad idea," Mrs. Longbottom was frowning but she took a sip of her tea and allowed the topic to fade. "And what about you? How are you? I've heard about your… condition."

Lily laughed, a pure, clear sound that had Harry's heart thudding loudly. "Gossip does travel, doesn't it? James and I just found out over a month ago and outside of family, Sirius, Remus and Peter, we hadn't even told anyone about it yet."

"Oh pish posh, I don't see why not. Looking at James these days, it's almost like he wants to take a page out of the Daily Prophet to announce the impending event to the rest of the Wizarding World."

"Yes, well, we both agreed it would be best kept quiet. This world is no safe place to bring a child into, what with the escalating Death Eater attacks everywhere," Lily's voice faded a bit and became more somber.

Mrs. Longbottom made a garbled sound that may have been some form of agreement. "And your pregnancy is coming along well? No complications? The baby is healthy?"

"Healer Shelton says everything is smack dab at the middle of normal ranges and the baby is developing nicely. No complications whatsoever. We don't know if it's a boy or a girl, yet. It can be a little surprise and hopefully, the little one will come just in time for Christmas," Lily's face was almost flushed with pleasure.

Confused, Harry turned away from the door. What was 'baby'? He left his mother and the old woman to their tea and tottered off to the library. Carefully, he climbed up the chair and placed his hands on the big, old book that was the dictionary. His fourth governess had taught him how to use it and Harry tried to keep his clumsy fingers from tearing the pages as he went to 'B'.

Baby: a very young child who has not yet begun to walk or talk; an unborn child; the very young offspring of humans. Harry frowned. 'Child' was himself and other small boys and girls like him. Did that mean that there was a small boy or girl in his mother's stomach? How did it get there? Why was it there?

And why could it make his mother and father smile when he himself couldn't?

He heard a noise coming from the hallway and turned to see one of their house elves, Slippy, carrying a big bunch of toys that were taller than he was. Harry saw the house elf totter before regaining his balance. Jumping off the chair, Harry followed the house elf upstairs to the room where all activity in the house had been centered on lately.

The other two house elves already in there cast him nervous glances when he entered but otherwise ignored him. The room was bright, cheerful, lively and sparkling with the newness of recent dreams and hopes. It rubbed Harry raw because he could tell (he knew) that the baby with his mother right now was not going to be like him. That baby would be laughed with, played with, spoken to, loved.

Standing in the middle of the yellow room, the forlorn little boy felt a tear slip down his cheek, and another one, and another one. For the first time in months, he was crying.

The runes on his skin started to glow and the very air shuddered.

- o - o -

Lily had never felt so relaxed in months. She could almost put the horror with Harry away and pretend it had all been a nightmare that had never happened. For now, at least she could pretend she was like any normal witch having tea with a family friend and with her child on the way and not living in this world where Death Eaters could set foot on your doorstep when you least expected it.

She had been about to ask August Longbottom about the woman's grandchild Neville when they heard the sound of loud thuds and shrill, shattering glass.

"Oh dear Merlin, not again," Lily whispered before she pushed back the chair and stood up. Mrs. Longbottom's calming hand on her arm was what prevented her from running full-out. Instead, both women walked as swiftly as they could towards the room in the manor's second floor where the commotion was coming from. Lily's heart hammered painfully in her chest when she realized it was from the new nursery.

One of the house elves, Slippy, was cowering in front of the open door. He squeaked and hurriedly crawled away as a splintered piece of wood that looked like it had been torn off from the baby's crib came hurtling towards him. Lily and Mrs. Longbottom both took out their wands and approached the door. The older woman gasped while Lily felt faint.

Harry was sitting in the middle of the room and even the tear tracks on his cheeks seemed almost black in the intensity of his power. His voice, eerie, echoed through the room's high ceiling and the reverberations made it sound inhuman. Grunting, heart-wrenching sobs and with each choking cry, the room pulsed with a malevolent magic that sent things crashing into destruction, into each other, into little pieces of glass and wood. The body of another house elf was on the floor, pinned down by a huge armoire and unmoving. The other house elf was cowering underneath a three-legged table. All the chaos revolved around and was attracted to Harry – he was their sun.

Augusta Longbottom's face was ashen. "I never realized it was this bad. With Neville, nothing of this sort ever happens," she murmured. "How do you get him to stop?"

"I don't know, I don't know," Lily moaned taking a few tentative steps forward.

"Stupefy!" but Mrs. Longbottom's spell simply evaporated like mist.

"Harry!"

"Lily, you silly girl, be careful!"

"Harry! Please, listen to me. Stop it. You have to stop. Harry!"

"Lily, get back here! You can't, oh! – ouch!" Augusta Longbottom stared in dismay first at the bleeding gash on her arm where a shard of glass had just cut and then to Lily who was inching slowly, past flying debris, into the heart of all the darkness.

The little devil turned and stared, crying, at her. His eyes were black and those runes were black and Augusta Longbottom could not repress shivering, Merlin help them all. This was a monster.

"Lily!"

"Harry? Harry, it will be all right. You can stop crying now. There, don't cry. Calm down. Just calm down and come here. I'm here."

"Get away from there!"

"Harry – "

But the little demon was reaching out with one grubby hand and there was a long, low moan that echoed and made the rafters and foundations of the house tremble and it came from Harry and he was reaching out, reaching out at the bulge on Lily's stomach. Augusta Longbottom felt sick with something she could not name and Lily was suddenly frozen in place with fear.

"Harry you don't want to do that. No, Harry, just stand up and we'll get away from here all right?"

The boy shrieked, shrill, this time and Mrs. Longbottom reflexively covered her ears and winced. There was the sound of more splintering. Her foremost thought was that they had to get help. Where was that James Potter anyway? The fireplace. She had to get to –

There was a sharp, surprised cry of pain and before Mrs. Longbottom could even think of leaving the room she turned, knowing the worst, towards Lily. One of the heavy, flying chairs had collided into Lily sending her sprawling on her back on the floor. The violently shaking chair was still on top of her and although Augusta Longbottom rushed to her side, ignoring all the other dangerous flying wreckage, she already saw that Lily was clutching her stomach and she could smell the faint metal-scent of blood even before she saw it trickling from between Lily's legs.

"Oh. Oh!" Lily Potter was holding her in a death-grip, green eyes pleading not to be told the worst. "My baby. My baby!"

Her outcry coincided with one last wail from Harry before he shut up and stopped crying and everything that was flying about the room just… stopped and fell to the floor. There was silence, then Lily's moans, then the whimpers from the one house elf still there and conscious. Harry was staring wide-eyed at Lily, at the growing puddle of blood on the floor.

There were voices and pounding footsteps and suddenly James was at the door. He gaped, shocked, at the apocalyptic rubble in the room, at Augusta Longbottom's horrified expression, at his own wife's anguish and at his only son, sitting placidly with tear streaks, now clear, on his face. His eyes were drawn, magnet-like, to the blood that was gathering below Lily and he snapped.

He covered the distance between him and Harry with a few short strides and gripped the small boy by the shoulders, shaking him violently. "What have you done? DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'VE DONE? That was your baby brother, or sister in there! That was – That was my child! You've killed him! You've killed a member of your own family! You're nothing but a murderer! A MURDERER!"

Harry's eyes were wide with fear staring at the enraged image of his father with eyes almost popping out and spit flying from his mouth. James suddenly released him as though he had just then realized what he was holding and Harry toppled to the floor. There was the sound of more people coming and suddenly Sirius Black and Remus Lupin were crowding the hallway. Remus only took one look at Lily before breathing a sharp "I'll call St. Mungo's."

James stared at Harry with the same spiteful hatred he usually reserved for the Dark Lord. "You are no son of mine. You're a MONSTER."

- o - o -

Five days later

The objective was simple.

One of the greatest difficulties the Dark Lord had with moving against the Order of the Phoenix was that Dumbledore's merry band of misfits was so frustratingly well-organized. And although there were those among them who proudly proclaimed to the Wizarding World that they were Order members (that Longbottom couple for one), the identities of the other members of the Order were for the most part unknown to Voldemort. The Order's meetings were as equally well-hidden as their identities. Which was why it was such a breakthrough – and a brilliant stroke of luck but the Dark Lord was never one to believe in such inanities as luck – that the fools from the Order actually believed Snape had defected to their side. Having a double agent within the Order of the Phoenix was going to start paying off and it was going to start paying off now.

Usually meetings of the Order of the Phoenix were planned well in advance in order to prepare their meeting place properly. But it seemed that Dumbledore had slipped up and this next meeting had only been hastily patched together a couple of days ago. And even better, Snape had managed to glean that it was going to be taking place in the Longbottom residence.

The Dark Lord allowed his features to soften into something resembling satisfaction. No Fidelius Charm, shaky anti-Apparition wards, and lax watchers.

Nothing could save Francis Eveleigh now.

- o - o -

"Darling?" Keelan Eveleigh turned at the sound of his soft-spoken wife's voice. "Have you seen Francis?"

Keelan turned to survey the general scene of chaos in the hallways of the Longbottom manor and sighed. He knew it wasn't a good idea to schedule this meeting so fast and he wasn't quite sure what Dumbledore's justification was but if he were a betting man, then he would've bet it had something to do with the fact that Lily Potter was noticeably absent and James Potter was in a mood to kill.

"He's probably out somewhere playing, Mira. But if you want to, I'll go find him," he offered.

Miranda gave him a smile. "I realize it's a little silly to worry when we're surrounded by our friends here but…"

Keelan squeezed her hand. He understood. It had been a pretty big move for him since all the generations of Eveleighs before him had been purebloods and members of Slytherin and even now, walking amongst the members of the Order still made him uncomfortable. Miranda had been a big part of why he had decided to change his ways in the first place. And now his only son was destined to be the Savior of the Wizarding World. He knew why Miranda always felt so overprotective over Franics – he himself felt the same.

Before he and Miranda could start searching for their son there was a commotion somewhere by the front door where the crowd was thickest. It attracted more people like flies. Someone exploded their wand with a loud bang and a bright flash and there was silence. The Eveleighs heard slight wheezing before they recognized the voice of Mundungus Fletcher who was supposed to be outside on watch duty.

"Dark Lord… Attack!"

As if a strong wind had surrounded them, all the windows and doors suddenly slammed open and there was a general outcry before pandemonium ensued. They heard faint popping sounds coming from outside and knew that there were people Apparating in.

"Prepare yourselves! Drive them back!" Dumbledore roared.

The initial air of panic became replaced with determination as most of the women and children were sent to Floo away in the fireplaces and the remaining people planned how to fight back. Though this had not been anticipated, the Order had planned for such scenarios already and everyone knew what role they had to play.

Keelan suddenly found Dumbledore standing beside them. "Find Francis and Portkey out of here," was the wizard's instructions. "You know where all the emergency Portkeys in the house are stashed. I have a hunch he is the real reason Voldemort chose to strike today of all days. Remember his life is of the greatest importance!"

"We'll go with them," a grim-faced Sirius Black volunteered, James Potter in tow.

"Very well. Go. And make haste."

They did not need to be told twice.

- o - o -

It had been the worst week of his life.

Harry Potter sat with his knees pulled close to his body in the darkened room and just stared off into space. He could still remember the words his father had yelled at him. It even echoed in his mind when he tried to sleep. He hadn't seen his mother since that day when she had been bleeding and then realized only later on that he had been at fault. Even the house-elves grew petrified of him, and they took to leaving his meals outside his bedroom door instead of directly to him.

Without warning his father had simply barked at him earlier in the morning to get ready, they were going someplace. They had wound up in a big, old manor and Harry had seen the old woman, Mrs. Longbottom again. She and his father had talked for a while and then he had been led in this room and given strict instructions to stay here.

They probably thought he wasn't paying attention but he had overheard part of their conversation. It was about someone named Neville, who was being taken to some secret place in the country and this place would be guarded by someone named Fidelius. And then Harry heard his father asking Mrs. Longbottom if it would be a good idea to send Harry there as well, to keep him safe but more importantly to keep others safe from him.

And they had both left Harry in the room and hadn't returned. He'd been there for a couple of hours but except for when a house elf delivered a plate of lunch that he'd nibbled on earlier, it seemed they had forgotten about him.

And then the door slammed open and the windows crashed outward but the only sign of surprise on Harry's face was the slight widening of his eyes. He had tentatively unfolded himself and was about to go to the door to see what was wrong when the screaming started.

It was strange, hearing screams and realizing it was coming from other people and not from him. He was so used to hearing the shrill, frightened sound clawing its way from his own throat. So novel was this experience that Harry just stood there for the next ten minutes and listened to the cries coupled with other sounds of confusion that seemed to be coming from somewhere down below the house.

After the novelty of listening had worn off, Harry padded quietly to the window and looked out at the backyard. The room where he was in was at the top floor of the manor and way down below he saw a woman running out of the house, holding her wand up high. She looked familiar – maybe she'd been to their house once before. He saw her stumble and when she did another figure emerged from inside the house.

This one was dressed all in black with a white mask covering his or her face. The first sight of that person sent a chill down Harry's spine. He hardly realized his hands were clutching the metal frames of the windows as he angled lower for a closer look. The witch on the ground tried to get up but the black-robed wizard shot a jet of blue light and it looked as though it had pinned her to the ground. Then the black-robed wizard raised his wand and said words Harry could not decipher. Green light shot from his wand, hitting the woman.

Then… nothing. The black-robed wizard calmly knelt down, checking on the witch it seemed, before he about-faced and swiftly walked back into the house. The woman never got up. Harry was speechless as another evening and another woman (and man) assaulted his memory. But those two had been covered in blood. This one was just… lying there. Dead. She was not ever getting up again.

Now Harry really wanted to scream. There was a scuffling sound behind him and a heaving, scruffy man was looking over his shoulder, at the same time pushing a boy around Harry's age into the room. Surprised, Harry stood rooted to where he was.

The small boy was just as skinny as Harry and his face was dominated by bright blue eyes that widened when he saw Harry. "Uncle Lew…"

"Francis, we have to get you – " the man stopped short when he noticed the black-haired boy near the windows. "Oh sweet Merlin." Fear and dislike flashed through his face – emotions that Harry always associated with how others saw him and it didn't surprise Harry that this man felt much the same.

The boy though – Francis – was staring at Harry with undisguised fascination and despite himself Harry was interested as well. He had never met anyone his own age before.

"Francis, stay put, okay? And you," his face was a mask of disgust and it colored his voice when he ran his eyes over Harry, "Just stay there and mind your own business." The man then hurried over to a small wooden chest by the corner of the room, unlocked it by tapping on it with his wand and then began rummaging inside it frantically.

Harry cast a curious look at the man at the same time that the boy Francis was observing him. The man was groping deep within the chest, muttering, "Portkey… Portkey… where is it…" It was around that time that voices drifted through the walls coming from the corridors outside, along with heavy footsteps and a shrill, cold laugh. People were coming. Seeing how the man's face paled to an almost sickly shade of milk, Harry guessed these weren't very nice people.

"Uncle Lew, he's so strange," the boy Francis piped up, breaking the tense silence in the room. "He's not moving. He's not even blinking. And what are those weird drawings on his skin?"

It took Harry a while to realize that Francis was talking about him. Absently, he ran a hand down one arm. He'd never thought of the runes on his skin as 'weird'. They had simply always… been there. Like Healer Wycksworth. Like pain. He slowly blinked and heard the boy Francis gasp softly at the movement. The noises outside were getting louder and he heard a wintry voice announce, "Check all the rooms. He is near. I can sense it."

The man muttered words under his breath that Harry had only heard his father say when he was angry. "No time… why isn't it here, it's just supposed to be here! How difficult can it be to find a damn vase anyway?"

There was a step that was almost directly outside their door and Harry saw sweat beading on the man's forehead. He moaned, "NO! Francis, you must escape from here! But they're here. What can I do, oh dear Merlin."

Vase? Wordlessly, Harry pointed to a shelf near the ceiling. The only thing that was placed on it was a hideous red and green vase with a twirling black dragon. As far as Harry had observed, it was the only vase in the room. "Vase," he said softly.

Francis' eyes widened. "Uncle Lew… he just…"

"What dyou want, you little devil?" was the biting statement at Harry but Lew's eyes followed the trajectory of his finger, saw the vase and immediately gave a groan of relief. "That's, yes, we can – "

At that moment the doorknob turned and things happened in a swift succession that left Harry's mind dizzy. The door was slammed open with a force that cracked the windows and shook the walls, sending the ugly vase tumbling from its position on top of the shelf to the floor, where it rolled harmlessly to a corner. Lew's eyes were bulging out of their sockets and his raised his wand, pointing it at Harry and cried, "Muto oris!"

White light shot out, directly at Harry and he could only stand there in shock as it hit him, engulfing and blinding him, so he didn't see as Lew directed that same white light over to Francis. When he finally managed to blink the brightness out of his eyes, the first thing he saw was a black-robed figure with a white mask standing in the doorway. The figure wasted no time pointing their wand at Lew and crying out in a female voice, "Casus!"

Lew was immediately hurled straight into the wall and there was the sickening sound of bone cracking as his leg bent at an unnatural angle. He landed near where the vase had rolled to and he tried not to make his desperate glances at it too obvious as the black-robed woman lazily slinked into the room. Francis had cried out when the spell had hit Lew and had instantly run to him except that… it wasn't Francis.

It was supposed to be Francis since that was where he'd been standing only moments earlier but the boy who was now kneeling next to a pale, sweaty Lew had all the features of Harry. He had the messy black hair, the glasses, the green eyes, the skin rune markings, he even had the clothes. Francis-who-looked-like-Harry seemed blissfully unaware of this fact as he cried in front of 'Uncle Lew'. Harry could only gape. He saw the woman inside the black robes and white mask kick his look-alike who ended up doubled over next to Lew gasping in pain. Harry cocked his head. He didn't think it hurt that much to be kicked in the midsection. Certainly, the Cruciatus was worse.

There were more footsteps and a thick silence engulfed the room, punctuated by Francis-who-looked-like-Harry's sniffles and a low, pained growl from Lew. Flanked by other people in similar black robes and white masks, a tall man with the contorted facial features that resembled a snake strode in. He alone wore no mask and his presence commanded all attention. As slitted red eyes ran down Harry the only thought to cross Harry's mind was: this person also knew what it felt like to be different.

The woman who was now standing in front of Lew and Francis said in a low voice, "Francis Eveleigh, my Lord."

Harry understood. They were here for Francis. But why was the snake man looking straight at him and not at Francis? He wasn't –

In the glass surface of a mirror that was conveniently positioned a little behind the snake man, Harry caught a glimpse of his reflection. Francis. It was Francis. He was Francis. He lifted an arm shakily and the image of Francis in the mirror did the same. He was controlling Francis' body, he was in Francis' body. But how – The white light!

He suddenly cast a terrified glance over at Lew and the real Francis but the man glared back at Harry with such hatred, daring him to say anything, one arm holding Francis-in-Harry's-body close to him with his hand over the boy's mouth to prevent him from talking.

The snake man barely paused to glance at Uncle Lew and Francis. He headed straight for Harry who felt frozen in place.

"I did not realize that this would be all too simple," his voice flowed with sibilant tones and it was so low Harry was certain he was the only one who could hear it. From behind him, his followers shut the door but the snake man lifted a long-fingered hand and ran cold digit down a statue-like Harry's cheek. The only emotion Harry could remotely feel emanating from him was amusement. As though this were all a game.

The snake man spoke raising his voice a notch and Harry saw that each one of the masked people listened intently to his words. "See now my faithful followers. Here we have the Savior of the Wizarding World whose life is literally in our hands. Savor this moment. The last hope of the Light is about to be extinguished forever."

There were murmurs of excitement and obvious pleasure and it reminded Harry of the fanatically pleased gleam in Healer Wycksworth's eyes every time they alighted on a whimpering Harry. From the corner of his eye, he saw that Lew was whispering something to the real Francis who nodded frantically, frightened eyes still trained on Harry.

No warning, no hesitation. The snake man trained his wand and, "Avada Kedavra!"

Green light flew to embrace a Harry Potter in the likeness of Francis Eveleigh.

- o - o -

Lewis Sinclair felt sick to his stomach as he watched Francis' body – although it was truly the Potter boy's – crumple to the floor. He felt sicker as he realized that it was his fault that the other boy was dead. He had effectively sacrificed the life of Harry Potter for Francis Eveleigh's. But Harry Potter. Who would miss him? Not his father who couldn't stand to look at him or his mother who he had sent to the hospital.

That could have been Francis. Thank Merlin it wasn't Francis. He felt Francis grow rigid and start struggling as he realized what had happened to the other boy who now lay unmoving on the floor.

"Stop it! Remember what I told you?" he whispered frantically as the Dark Lord walked over to the prone body. Francis nodded, whimpering.

"All right then. On my mark," he muttered as he inched them closer to the ugly red vase that was the Portkey. "One, two, three!"

The rest of the Death Eaters turned at his loudly proclaimed last word but they could not stop as he and Francis reached out and grasped the Portkey together. There was a tugging sensation, a falling into madness and finally, finally they were safe.

- o - o -

"My Lord?" Parkinson was the first one to brave the silence.

The Dark Lord was just standing there, staring after the man and boy who had Portkeyed out of the room. The vibrations the Death Eaters were getting from the Dark Lord now bordered on displeasure.

"You imbeciles," that low voice edged with harshness spoke. "Let them escape."

"But, my Lord. We have eliminated the Eveleigh child!" Rudolphus Lestrange protested.

"Have we indeed, Lestrange?" the Dark Lord gestured with a cutting motion to the body on the floor. They all sucked in a quick breath. It was not the honey-featured Francis Eveleigh anymore. On the floor was skinny, dark-haired Harry Potter.

"Tricked by a Form Switching Spell," the Dark Lord murmured. "And now Albus Dumbledore will be barging in with his high and mightiness any moment. Well what are you failures waiting for? Round up the others, the child has escaped to Salazar knows where and we will accomplish nothing here! GO!"

The walls and windows shook with barely suppressed wrath. It took every inch of willpower not to start torturing his incompetent Death Eaters then and there. There was a time for everything and that time would be later. Right now, the lot of them were scampering off like scared rats to avoid the cat's fury.

"Francis Eveleigh. Fortune was with you this time around but the next time we meet will be your end," he hissed to an almost empty room.

Almost empty.

"Master." A voice, hesitant.

He turned angry eyes to one Bartemius Crouch who was practically prostrating himself. "Master… the boy…"

It was on the tip of his tongue to snarl out, What boy? But then he saw a faint black light hovering like mist around the body of the boy who had taken the Killing Curse in place of Francis Eveleigh. The child was curled in a fetal position and breathing deeply, normally, impossibly alive. There was no spell, no potion, no ritual in the world that could bring one back from death.

"He is alive," Crouch's voice was ashen.

To defeat the Killing Curse… this boy also seemed familiar. Just who was he? One of the things the Dark Lord hated most was not knowing.

"Crouch."

"Yes, Mast – "

"Animus."

Crouch's eyes turned slack and empty. Voldemort observed him for a moment before speaking. "You will forget of this. You did not see this boy. You know nothing of him."

Crouch nodded stiffly, murmuring in an emotionless voice, "I know nothing."

"You will go down and gather the remaining Death Eaters and begin evacuation. You will go now."

"Now, Master," Crouch muttered and walked out. His gait was rigid and the Dark Lord waited a full five minutes before releasing Crouch from the effects of the Control Curse. It was a powerful spell and Voldemort took a minute to compose himself again. He did not quite know why it was so important that no one know of this but the Dark Lord had gotten this far by trusting his instincts.

Kneeling down, he contemplated the best way to transport this child out of here.

- o - o -

TBC

Please review. Let me know what you think good or bad. Hastily edited. Please inform me of mistakes so I can fix.

Coming up: Harry, Voldie, elementals.