AN: This story was inspired by Baronvonblack's In Darkest Night. This is a one-shot… for now. I don't own Harry Potter, or DC Comics.

Prologue: The Night's Darkest

-Continued from the hospital wing after the third task of the Triwizard tournament. Harry is AU-

It was impossible to get any sleep, even after taking a potion to induce it. Of course, I could pretend, but being surrounded by a concerned group, from my Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, to Mrs. Weasley, a mother figure in my life, to my best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermoine Granger, conditioned me to resist its effects. I close my eyes and pretend to drift off to sleep, aware of the several sets of eyes watching my every movement. They were right to be concerned. Because tonight was the culmination of months of ignorance, a refusal to look at the facts in front of me, and perhaps even another round of manipulation from the venerable headmaster. All of this has led to the death of a friend and comrade, Cedric Diggory, the return of the most evil wizard in recent times, Lord Voldemort, and the unmasking of an impostor who moved the pieces to acquiesce to his Lord's wishes, Barty Crouch Jr. To be me, Harry Potter, the famed Boy-Who-Lived, has never been a grimmer proposition than it is right now, even when other highlights in my life include being chased by a basilisk and being surrounded by a hundred dementors.

It is impossible to think of that title I have been saddled with as a blessing, as a mark of recognition. It is a curse. And now that I think of curses inflicted upon me, it is impossible to not think of my greatest fear, the most visible omen of doom's approach. Since Voldemort killed my parents, I have been shadowed. Wherever I go I am followed. They are agents of impending destruction. Black, wings flapping, screeching, always watching; the bats.

I remember when I was seven, my cousin and his friends had jumped me and had beaten me like usual. When I finally awoke, I had no idea where I was. But I knew I was being watched. Suddenly, I remember being swarmed by hundreds of tiny boomerangs with high-pitched voices. It was the bats, coming to mock me, to ridicule me for being so weak, to take pleasure in my pain. Since then, whenever I was punished by being locked in the cupboard, through the small crack that allowed light to pierce my dank existence, on nights where the moon shown white through the hole, there was always a bat there. And since then, whenever the worst was to happen to me, the bats followed me, laughing over the fate in store for me. Tonight was very typical.

I can remember vividly watching Cedric fall to the ground. It was slow motion, like time itself had stopped. I caught a glimpse of his eyes; the life was gone, they were empty and soulless. And around us the bats fluttered and flapped. It was always the bats. And before I could even comprehend, even really register that Cedric was gone; I was slammed against the headstone. One look at it told me all I needed to know: Tom Riddle. The bats laugh manically, confident that this time I will finally die.

They had tried several times before, those bats, to finish me off. At the Dursleys, they were guards, stalking and taunting me with how I couldn't escape my personal hell. They tried to break me. And at Hogwarts, they tried again. They watched with amusement when I went after the Philosopher's Stone, scrambled to the Chamber of Secrets, almost futilely battled the dementors for my godfather, and stumbled throughout each of the three deadly tasks Voldemort and Crouch manipulated me into. And even though I triumphed, and I survived, the bats always won. They always had the Dursleys to try and break me again. It was especially painful when it seemed an escape was finally in reach with Sirius, only to have the bats win the day once again. And now, the bats had gone a step further.

Pettigrew has just stabbed my right arm, just after he added "bone of the father" to his concoction. Soon he adds the blood and his own hand. And the color changes, the steam billows, and the bats swarm around us, resting in trees, angling for a better look. And finally, after futilely hoping something had gone wrong, that Pettigrew had made a mistake with the potion, a snakelike man emerged. Lord Voldemort returned. Looking at his snakelike face, his slit like eyes, it suddenly strikes me as how odd it is that my greatest fear, the most persistent enemy, is the bat rather than the snake. After some testing and flexing of his new body, he is ready to commence his rebirth ceremony. A touch of Pettigrew's dark mark, and the Death Eaters have arrived, masked and dressed in shadow black, standing menacingly in a circle surrounding me and Voldemort. And Voldemort, like any true evil genius, decides to document his struggles and his eventual triumph for all his Death Eater's to hear. All those that were present anyway. And as he talks, the bats swarm and synchronize, cackling madly once again. They seem certain that today will be my end. And they are probably right.

I am no match for Lord Voldemort, even with all the studying I have secretly done. And to prove to me the pointlessness of a further struggle, Voldemort brushes a hand against my face, and it burns. Not for him, no, he's finally defeated the blood protection. It burns for me. To know that my Mother's blood no longer prevents Voldemort from touching me, to know that once again Albus Dumbledore's vaunted plans and protections have failed.

Of course, to prove his superiority over me, he arranged for a fair duel. And then he used the cruciatus curse on me. Pain, like I'd never felt before flooded my body. Not when my relatives beat me. Not when I fought Quirrell. Not even when the basilisk fang stabbed me. I wanted it to end, to stop the bats absolute power over me. And then he laughed, and asked me if I wanted more. I might have wished for the end, but I refused to go out like a sniveling coward. He even used the imperious curse to try and force me to yield. But I was a stubborn git. And then he used that blasted curse on me again. Finally, after it ended, I tried my best to resist. If I was going to die anyway, why should I use my true power, to give him the satisfaction of knowing I was anything but a weak mark? So I cast the weakest thing I could, expelliarmius, the disarming charm. And then there was the amazing echo parade, which saw all of Voldemort's most recent victims heckle him and help me flee. And despite Voldemort's and the bat's best efforts, I survived.

But I still died a little inside. Because my survival as at the cost of Cedric's. We were comrades in arms; brothers. And I as good as killed him. Sirius once told me about how he didn't kill my parents but as good as killed them, and I finally understood that distinction. If I hadn't insisted on him coming with me, or if I had forced him back, he'd still be alive. But I didn't. I failed. The bats triumphed, even if it wasn't my end. But the bats will try again. They always do. They have followed me my entire life, and one day, they will win. Finally, my thoughts racing, I fall into that abyss of sleep, my dreams troubled by those recent tragic events.

Today was the end of year feast, but I wasn't celebrating. I had since come to terms with Cedric's death, but I then turned my attention to the resurrected Dark Lord and the ministry backlash. That fateful night, Cornelius Fudge, the pompous fool, refused to believe my claims of Voldemort's return. And since then, Dumbledore has apparently been taking measures to try and combat Voldemort when he emerges back into the fold. But for now, he is silent. He is a snake at his core, and that means using the shroud of disbelief and uncertainty about his return to his advantage. Followers, intelligence, money; he has ample time to gather as much as he needs.

Since Cedric's death, I had been practicing like a maniac. In the last four years, I have had to face a form of Voldemort three times. Now that he ahs returned to a corporeal form, it's time to push myself. I realize there is little I can do to close the gap between our abilities when his fifty years of insurmountable intelligence and grisly experience gives him an absolute edge. Still I practice. I am still mastering non-verbal spellcasting. I have been doing so for a year, But Voldemort has already got that one down.

I brush the sweaty hair out of my eyes. I have just finished my final training session of this year in the room of requirements. It is a magnificent room that a managed to stumble on in my third year, to help with my patronus casting. Since then, I have used the room to practice advanced magic, or prepare for the tournament, and now to try and learn as much as I can to defend myself from Voldemort.

It secretly amuses me how everyone has taken to this idea that I'm a naive child; no intelligence and average magical ability. Of course, I have worked extremely hard to convince everyone around me of this. But it amuses me how they all believe that façade, how they don't look beneath the surface. I suppose, all modesty aside, that I have always been extremely intelligent. It took hard work to make myself appear to be a dim-witted child when I grew up at the Dursleys. But, to escape my tormentors, my relatives or Dudley's gang, I would take refuge in the library, a place no bully would dare venture. It was here that I learned; to read, to think, to understand. Books have always been a hideout for me, a place of security. And though I read, and learned, I hid all I knew, so that the Dursley's would never know, would never get suspicious, and would never punish me for knowing more.

When Hagrid came bearing my Hogwarts letter, my shock was genuine. I had no idea magic was what I had been doing all those years. I knew I had some power, I could feel it inside of me, like a vast ocean, limitless and endless. I had even manipulated it a few times, when I needed that power to heal, or hide, or retreat. But the world he described was wonderful. And yet, it was such a disappointment. I quickly realized that that I was once again holding back. Probably because the tests, and essays, and whatever else didn't really matter. There was no reward, no more advanced class, just a smile and a nod.

I moved faster on my own. It took to haunting deserted classrooms in the middle of the night, to practicing and experimenting with magic whenever eyes weren't watching me. It still wasn't enough. And all my triumphs at Hogwarts, my great adventures, I handed off to luck and my "friends". I have no doubt that they're my friends, but that if Dumbledore came around with his wise old man concerned about Harry routine, they'd sing like a canary.

I never understood what instinct held me back from letting loose once I got to Hogwarts, now that I was free of the Dursely's influence. I suppose the hat was right when it said I belonged in Slytherin. Never the less, I did hold back, and I did craft a persona of being Dumbledore's Gryffindor golden boy. It was what everyone expected, after all. But they never knew the thoughts that went on in my head, that my colloquial speech and unintelligent mannerisms were a lie, that I dumbed down my grades and played to a specific constructed image of myself I wanted everyone to see. For what purpose, I never really knew, but my instincts told me to do it, and if I couldn't trust myself, then whom could I trust? Eventually, I figured out why I let myself be perceived that way; Dumbledore.

If ever there was a sheep in wolves clothing it was that man. I could pass off some of his mistakes and blunders as individual chance. Until all the evidence started to pile up. Which led to two conclusions; he was either an insane headmaster with too much power and too little sanity, or he was a scheming old man who'd woven me into his grand plans. The first evidence I had was when I visited his office in the second year. The portraits immediately tipped me off. Why would a man with a nearly limitless supply of portraits that could be stationed in any painting in the castle keep them all in his office when they could all be out patrolling, keeping tabs on the heir and his monster? Unless he already knew what the monster was. In which case, why hadn't he informed anyone of the danger? If he figured it out, as Hermoine eventually did, then why didn't he import roosters, or give every student a mirror. And if he didn't know, did that mean the Headmaster of Hogwarts was not willing to do everything in his power to try and stop this threat against his students? Why was he acting the way he was? Why indeed?

The second piece of information that convinced me of his manipulations was in his office after slaying the basilisk, when he informed me that he once taught Tom Riddle, alias Lord Voldemort. If he taught him, and had been around him so much, and knew he was such a talented student, then why did he think that those pitiful first year protections would be enough to prevent Voldemort from stealing the Sorcerer's stone? If he had once opened the chamber, and had possessed a teacher the year prior, then why did he not examine students for possession? The mounting evidence made me realize he was a scheming old man. He had a plan, which he stuck too, and it didn't involve preparing students for the dangers he had brought to his school. The other thought, that he was a doddering old fool everyone else had propped up onto the perennial throne was too discomforting, even for me.

Eventually I figured out that was the reason I had hidden my intelligence. It was so easy, so simple, to present the front as a heroic Gryffindor. I pretended to be a mediocre student, with average magical power. While I hid my intelligence, I can confess that I've always had trouble working my magic. I don't know why, but spells do take longer for me to learn and master. Consequently, I've had to become a master of the theoretical; proposing what magic is, and how to better wield it. But it was easy to hide my intelligence in the guise of a reckless Gryffindor; a fierce "loyalty" to Dumbledore, rushing headlong into dangerous situations and surviving by "chance", and no common sense or smarts. It was a ruse everyone fell for. Even Dumbledore. His feeble attempts at legilimency provided me an opportunity to feed him false memories, what he wanted to see. I've always been a natural oclumens. Organizing my thoughts and defending them came naturally to me even at the Dursleys. I could remember books in explicit detail; concepts and facts stayed forever. And Dumbledore couldn't look into my head, or see what I was thinking. Neither could Snape, though the bastard, my fear personified, tried. Oh, how he tried… and failed. But now it was all for naught.

It is three hours before the end of the year feast, and I've just finished toweling off from my final training session. I knew enough magic to have passed all my NEWTS if I took them tomorrow, but it wasn't enough. Dodging spells, constructing advanced shields, practicing typical dueling tactics; it all wasn't going to cut it against Death Eaters. Almost every member knew all of these spells and more, and the second I started trying to use them in the midst of battle, the kid gloves would comes off, and I would be broken, permanently. I was backed against a wall.

I needed a plan against Voldemort and his merry band. Training in private wouldn't work because of the fallout from Dumbledore and Fudge. I'd been allowed to sneak off in private for so long because I was in "grief and was brooding". In truth, I'd gotten over Cedric's death fairly quickly; I was sad he died, but I decided to turn my energies towards revenge on his and my parent's behalf. But I imagined Fudge would keep a closer eye on Hogwarts next year, and Dumbledore a closer eye on me. Voldemort had 50-60 years of training and experience on me. True, I was about at the level he was at when he was my age, but he had fifty years to build and expand on it. He also had several handpicked and personally trained Death Eaters capable of slaughtering me in a heartbeat. Running away wasn't an option because either Dumbledore or Voldemort would find me. But as it stood now I needed to even the odds. I needed to level the playing field. I needed a course of action. I needed an ally. One who would advise me, and go against Dumbledore on my behalf. I needed-

-Sirius. Yes, why hadn't I thought of him earlier? It would be easy to convince him of the headmaster's manipulative ways. He had years of training as an auror, he could advise me on what to do. But how could I get in touch with him? Wait a second; this is the room of requirements, isn't it? So I concentrated. I need to get in touch with Sirius. I need to get in touch with Sirius. I need to get in touch with Sirius. And then the room created a fireplace and provided floo powder for me.

I timidly walk towards the fire, the flames crackling merrily, and grab the floo powder. I toss it in, and yell, "Sirius Black." And when I stick my head through, and whom should I come face to face with but the crafty marauder himself. His grey eyes locked onto my green ones, and he jumped.

"Harry, what are you doing here?" he asked.

I shrugged. "First up, where is here? And second I need to talk to you."

Sirius's expression darkened. "This is the house I grew up in, and now the new headquarters for the Order of the Pheonix; Dumbledore's anti-Voldemort coalition." He took on a look of understanding. "You need to speak with me," he said softly. He probably thinks this is about Cedric and the tournament. And in a way, it is.

I nodded. "Come on through, I have a secure room where no one will find us and we'll be able to talk uninterrupted." He looked doubtful such a place existed and uncomfortable with what I just asked of him. I sent him a pleading look. Two second later, the room morphed so that Sirius and I would have a comfortable room for conversation. He took a seat opposite me, his eyes never leaving mine.

"Are you alright Harry?" he asked me softly.

"Well except for a resurrected Dark Lord, a manipulative old headmaster, a power struggler between said headmaster and the ministry, and the death of a friend, I'm fine," I remarked bitterly.

Sirius looked at me quizzically. Oddly enough, he has focused on my second statement, though the other four are far more pressing concerns. "What do you mean 'a manipulative old headmaster'?"

I gave him a look of disbelief. "Don't tell me you haven't figured out he's been manipulating you and me for years?" He gave me a look of doubt. I shook my head in wonder. "Tell me Sirius, you were sent to Azkaban without a trail or even a Verituserum questioning session. Why? Consider that the Longbottoms had just been attacked and driven out of their minds. They believe you're a Death Eater. Why then didn't they question you about other Death Eaters at large, or families at risk? Isn't that a logical step for making sure no one else dies? Dumbledore is the chief of the Wizengamot; isn't it in his interests to make this questioning happen so he knows which order members are compromised, and what order plans and contingencies have fallen into enemy hands? Or at least get close enough to use legilimency on you to obtain that information? Don't even get me started on the injustices of how unfairly you were treated. Then, thirteen years later, when you break out and meet me, he's very quick to believe that you're innocent isn't he. Why couldn't he have convinced Fudge to do a Verituserum questioning session to see exactly what you were planning? He's the most influential wizard in the world, except when his chess pieces need to be in trouble."

Sirius looked at me, at first in disbelief, but after a few moments of silence, that look slowly changed from disbelief into horror. "Why? WHY WOULD HE DO THAT?" he shouted.

"Simple. He wanted me raised in a home with no love and lots of abuse so when I was brought back into the wizarding world I was uneducated and would look up to him as a savior of sorts. Except by the end of the second year I'd seen through his genial old man act. I've told you about my first two years here, right?" he nodded. "Well, tell me, if you're the Headmaster, and a monster of some kind is terrorizing the school, then why didn't you station portraits to try and catch a glimpse of the monster, especially when the last time a similar series of events happened, Lord Voldemort was attending your school? I'm guessing it's because he already knew what the monster was? Why then didn't he distribute mirrors or import more roosters to kill it? Unless he wanted to test his brave 'Gryffindor Golden boy' once again? It's especially obvious in hindsight because Voldemort possessed a teacher the year before. Why wouldn't he find another body to inhabit, and another way to try and kill me? Then, after I nearly die in the chamber he reveals in his office that he taught Tom Riddle before. If you've taught him, and fought against him, then why would you think those flimsy protections on the stone the previous year would stop him? Unless they weren't meant to stop him, but challenge three first years, one of whom he'd wanted to test? So all in all, no I don't trust Dumbledore, his motives, and especially his plan for me. Which is why I need you Sirius." I finished my rant and looked at him expectantly.

We sat in silence for several minutes, Sirius thinking over my worlds, and growing more depressed by the second. "He condemned me to hell." He finally whispered. "Because he needed me out of the way he condemned me to hell." I went over and hugged him. It was hard to see a grown man become completely disillusioned with the world he was in, but it was necessary. Finally he stopped. He looked ready to kill Dumbledore.

"Sirius stop, you can't kill him. Just keep an eye on him, monitor him, and you'll see what I'm saying. But to shatter your views on the headmaster wasn't why I called you here. I need help." Sirius signaled for me to continue. "For years, I've been pretending to be a mediocre student, barely above average, except when circumstances, like the dementor invasion or the Hungarian Horntail, demand I master an advanced piece of magic. That's all a lie. True, I needed help with those spells. But I'm much more gifted with magic, much more intelligent, than I ever let on. But with Voldemort's return, I find myself outclassed by a wizard with fifty plus years of experience on me, and whose minions could take me down easily. So that's why I'm coming to you. I need advice, a plan, anything to grasp at really." I finished with the desperate plea audible in my voice.

"What are you trying to accomplish Harry? Revenge. You can't. It'll taint your soul. Defending your friends. Nothing you do can really defend them. I remember when we fought against him the first time around. We were reduced to ruin. We only pulled off our little pyrrhic victory because of that once in a million fluke you provided. What we really need to do is run," Sirius replied in a voice of forced calm.

"Sirius, the thought did cross my mind. But no matter where I run, they'll find me. And when they do, I'll be killed. Okay, let's start at the beginning. Why is Voldemort after me?"

Sirius contemplated for a moment. "I think it's because of the prophecy."


Sirius stared at me, amazed that I didn't know what he was talking about. Finally he clapped a hand to his head, as he finally understood something. "Yes, Lily and James told me right before they went into hiding. It was the reason they went into hiding. There was a prophecy made that you or the Longbottom child would be the one to defeat Voldemort with some sort of "power he knows not" or something which Dumbledore heard. Lily thought it was bunk, but James thought that whether it was nonsense or not was irrelevant. Voldemort believed it, he apparently learned of it from a spy, and he was hunting both children. That was why he killed your parents and tried to kill you; he believed you were the child of prophecy."

"All of this was over a prophecy?" Harry asked dumbfounded. "Do you have any idea what the prophecy said?"

"No, but the Department of Mysteries has records of prophecies. You can make an appointment and go during the summer." Sirius answered.

"Like Dumbledore would ever let me leave Durzkaban, especially to hear a prophecy he's been keeping from me for years. Okay Sirius, I need a way to escape, to train over the summer. Can you help me?" Harry begged.

Sirius thought it over. "Well… no." He saw Harry's glare. "I mean, there's nothing I personally can do, like harboring you, or setting up magical tutors. However… if you left the country of your own accord, then…"

"Do I have the money to do that?" Harry interrupted.

"I know James gave a lot to the war effort last time, but I think you should have enough. Head by Gringotts and check out your vault," Sirius suggested.

"So let's put that on the list of things I'll do once I'm free of Dumbledore. Do you have any idea of how to fool whatever monitors he has so I can make an escape?" Harry asked.

Sirius frowned as he thought. Finally, after a few minutes, he spoke again. "Well… perhaps- it is rather dark, being blood magic and all, but…" he seemed to hesitate, standing firmly on the wall of decisiveness.

"Sirius!" Harry prodded, annoyed.

"Fine. I think Dumbledore has some kind of blood monitor over your summer jail. So, if you remove, maybe a quart of your blood, and some skin, then perhaps… we can fool the monitors for maybe a week or so, before one of the Order discovers you're gone. That should give you enough time to…"

Harry hugged him. But then he drew back, as if he'd been slapped. "What about you?" he whispered. "What will they do to you?"

"When they find out I've helped you with this?" Harry nodded, scared at what his Godfather might be putting on the line. "At best, being kicked out of the Order and house arrest, and at worst… well, considering what you've told me, I wouldn't put it past him to try and hand me over to Fudge as a peace offering."

Harry hugged his godfather harder, knowing it might be the last time they ever saw each other. And Sirius, almost regretfully, threw powder into the fireplace and stepped through back to Grimmald place. Harry stared at the crackling fire, feeling more determined and resolute than he could ever remember.

It had gone off without a hitch. Sirius was right; the blood magic had fooled the "powerful protective wards" that had annually sentenced him to the prison that was Privet Drive. Once free of his "jailers", otherwise known as one filthy man passed out in a haze of alcohol, he had hopped on the Knight Bus and headed for London. He was thankful he'd worn a hat, as Fudge had wasted no time in organizing a slander campaign against him and Dumbledore courtesy of the Daily Prophet, and what he needed to do today had to be done without anyone's eye on him, be it Fudge's, Dumbledore's, or Voldemort's.

Gringott's goblins were extremely amenable to helping him. Harry had no way to know that all the help they gave him that day was due to the breakdown in negotiations with Lord Voldemort's forces hours prior. Nevertheless, they informed him of his financial situation, the two pieces of property he owned- both of which needed to be rebuilt, and arranged a way for Harry to withdraw galleons overseas without being traced.

That done, Harry headed over to the Ministry of Magic building. Sirius had shown Harry that if a person knew there was a prophecy about them stored in the Ministry archives, they could request a private viewing. Harry had owled the Department of Mysteries, and explained that he needed to see the prophecy in question without anyone being the wiser, or even knowing he was at the Ministry. As Harry stepped into the security line, a black robed figure came over and interrupted the security guard about to question him, claiming to the guard on duty that he needed to question Harry on the Department's behalf. It was a common enough occurrence that the guard just shrugged and moved onto the next person while the Unspeakable led Harry away. A lift ride, several sets of long, windy corridors, and Harry was being led down a row filled with smoky glass orbs littering both sides of the aisle.

An hour later, he was being escorted out of the Ministry with his head abuzz. His disbelief was split into two different, but equal, camps, the first camp not believing he was supposed to be the one to defeat Voldemort, and the second full of righteous indignation over Dumbledore's keeping it from him. Now that he had definitive evidence that he couldn't trust the aged Headmaster, or his motivations, there was only one thing for it.

After he left Diagon Alley, he returned home via the Knight Bus. He stole some of his Uncles's old suitcases, and put all the items that could pass for normal in them. Then, he placed all of the things that would give him away into another suitcase, and added a timed portkey he purchased from the goblins. Once he found somewhere else to live, he could take his stuff with him. That done, he took the ordinary suitcase with him and, via the Knight bus, returned to the front of the Leaky Cauldron. However, rather than reenter the Alley, he walked across the street, and hailed a cab after ten minutes of signaling and waving like a madman.

It was an hour's drive to Heathrow through London traffic, all of which harry used to marvel at the traffic jam the likes he'd never seen before. Soon, he was in front of the flight board in Heathrow, wondering where he wanted to go. Closing his eyes, he randomly pointed in a direction, and opening his eyes, saw he picked Hong Kong. He booked his flight, checked in, and within a few hours, was on a plane leaving Britain. All without the Order ever realizing what he'd done.

Three Years Later

A figure dressed all in black appeared with a loud crack in a deserted field just south of Cornwall. It was the first time in three years he'd set foot on the British shores. He brushed the shaggy, black hair out of his eyes as he adjusted his cloak and began scanning the surrounding area, searching for signs of life, making sure he was alone. The last three years had taught him there were the paranoid few, like Alastor Moody, and the many dead. After he finished casting every detection charm he knew, he sheathed his wand, and turned to sit on a nearby rock.

He sighed at how empty and alone he felt. The cold autumn night was not helping his depressed mood. His right arm began to ache, as it normally did when the weather turned cold. Despite his best efforts, the arm's nerves had never properly recovered from the cursed blade it had been stabbed by. Ducard.

Harry sighed, pushing away memories of a time and place he wished he could forget. Now of all times, he needed to focus. If he lost his head at this juncture, then he would never manage to overthrow Voldemort's puppet government or the Dark Lord himself.

No matter how he thought about it, the situation was grim, very grim. Those he could call friends, or at the very least, allies, a few years ago were unreachable at this point, either turning traitor, being incapacitated, or believing him to be a traitor. It's only fair, Harry… you did betray them first.

He could never have imagined the consequences his absence would have on Great Britain. After a few years of maneuvering, content for the time being to play Fudge against Dumbledore, Voldemort had struck. With one massive assault just a few months ago, he'd overthrown the Ministry of Magic. The changes in public policy were accredited to Fudge's successor, Pius Thicknesse, Voldemort's appointee for Minister. Of course, the new public policy was to treat muggleborns and magical creatures like Jews and Gypsies had been treated under Hitler and Grindlewald.

Harry had spent many sleepless nights in the past months imagining the Weasleys, Hermoine, Dumbledore, Sirius, and Remus blaming him for abandoning them. He knew they were right. The Weasleys were all imprisoned in Azkaban, as were Sirius and Remus. The animagus wards prevented Sirius breaking out a second time. Many of his former classmates, those who'd known him, and tried to form a resistance in his name, like Neville Longbottom, shared cells bordering theirs. Most muggleborns, rather than being killed outright, were sentenced to work camps for their crime of having "stolen" magic from Wizardborns. And Dumbledore was supposed to be lying low, though many of his order members had been shown cells in Azkaban as well. He and Moody were the only known resistors, besides him, to be on the loose. Even Harry's grisly imagination couldn't have conjured up a darker scenario with any grimmer odds against him.

Now's your chance to atone; for leaving… for Ducard. Almost involuntarily, his thoughts returned to his old mentor. Henri Ducard. He'd met the man in Myanmar, after having been jailed for crossing the border illegally. Henri had introduced him to a new life. The League. Henri had taught him so much, everything Harry knew. But still, his admiration of his mentor had pulled the wool over his eyes in regards to the League's leader plans, orchestrated by their leader, Ra's al Ghul. The league was a bloodthirsty and ambitious as Voldemort, but had the exact opposite in beliefs. Rather, they directed their energy at purebloods. Harry finally woke up, and realized that he was serving a poor copy of the Death Eaters, only killing purebloods in their name rather than muggleborns. Perhaps that was why he'd burned down the League's headquarters and killed Ghul. Perhaps that was why he'd rescued Herni, perhaps it was a start on the path to redemption.

Harry sighed, and forcefully pulled himself out of his memories. At this moment, Britain was almost literally burning. And now, he had to find a way to clean up the mess he'd made. The only possible solution within his grasp was to become an embodiment of the Dark Knight.