Author's Note: There seems to be some confusion, and I just wanted to remind people that this story is labeled as an AU. :) In here, Harry was never the Boy-Who-Lived; there will be some similarities to canon, but… there was no supreme Dark Lord: Harry grew up with the Dursleys (explained later), went to Hogwarts, passed each year at school relatively unscathed (except when final exams rolled about…), and managed to get into Auror Academy by the skin of his teeth and a whole lot of praying. Last chapter was—literally—the first time that Harry Potter came across anyone by the name of "Voldemort"~


II.


There always comes a threshold in every wizard's life when events become weird to the point where there's no turning back: belatedly, Harry Potter realized that he had finally reached that stage of his life. With his Auror partner dead beside him, Dark Arts practitioners' bodies surrounding him with broken, bleeding, and lifeless forms, it only made sense that, of course, a summoned demon would be the last and final cherry-on-top.

It was with this acceptance of the absolute nuttery of the world that had been bred into the wizarding families over countless generations as a survival tactic that had Harry sitting down at the edge of the summoning circle, looking up at the demon that was currently sprawled lazily over his conjured settee.

Each stared silently at the other, at a stand-still and at a loss as what to say: Harry not knowing what good conversational topics applied to a demon ("So, eat any good kittens lately?") and the demon—Voldemort—obviously intended to stay as close-lipped as possible. Which left them both at an impasse.

"So… er. How about them Chudley Cannons?" Harry ventured as he awkwardly tried to grope for a conversational topic that would be considered "safe." The demon, however, looked less than impressed: he glanced over to the sitting Auror, eyebrow slowly inching up his pale forehead. Harry scowled at the obviously humoring expression upon the other's face, and the look that he gave Voldemort was dirty. "Well, I don't see you attempting to make any conversation and alleviate the awkward silence," he shot at the still-silent creature.

Voldemort snorted in amusement, running long, spindly fingers through his wavy dark hair. "Of course not," he responded, statement simple. "Why should I?"

Harry's scowl deepened before the boy finally sighed and let the topic go—or, more specifically, allowed his attempt to be amiable and start a conversational thread that would be acceptable to them both. Feeling awkward and stupid wasn't worth it. So, with green eyes slanting to the side to watch the demon's reaction from the corner of his gaze, the Auror finally decided to zero in on the crux of the matter: "Is there any way to send you back to Hell without any repercussions for either of us? I like having a soul—it's good for moral fiber and all that."

The demon sighed, sitting up from his recline to give Harry his full attention. "Unfortunately, I cannot return back to my plane of existence until I've managed to fulfill the contract that the practitioners had managed to work into the ritual. In this case, it's granting your truest desire."

The young man immediately lit up at hearing the terms. Promptly: "World peace."

Voldemort paused for a moment, just staring at the green-eyed Auror. Slowly, as if speaking to a simpleton, the demon carefully annunciated each and every word that left his lips: "I'm a demon." The "you idiot" was left unsaid, but—then again—there was no need to say it. Harry flushed and glared darkly at the creature, to which the demon just laughed gaily. "Unfortunately, I can only grant desires that are within my power to do so. Bringing about world peace? This is something that I'm incapable of—loathe that I am to admit it—and wouldn't do, even if I could."

The creature smiled like a snake as he added on the last part, leaning so that he could settle comfortably against the back of the settee, watching Harry from beneath his hooded eyelids. Voldemort crossed a leg over his left knee, the epitome of aristocratic elegance.

Harry sighed at that and glanced away once more, staring absently off into the distance as he considered what it was that he truly wanted: it was hard, coming up with the list, perhaps because Harry never really gave much thought to what he wanted. What he truly desired. But, if he wanted to be honest with himself, Harry knew full well what it was that he was so tempted to wish for:

Whilst he had been in his second year at the Auror Academy, Harry and the other three in his year had been offered the chance to accompany Shacklebolt and his partner to Hogwarts to remove a powerful artifact that Headmaster Dumbledore had found within the school's hallowed halls one night when he had been out wandering as he was sometimes prone to.

Hogwarts had always been a place of pure magic, of mystery: not even the Headmaster knew all of Hogwarts' secrets, and perhaps it was better that way. But the secret that Dumbledore had stumbled upon that night was one that he feared would be too dangerous to keep close to children and, thus, had asked the Aurors to take it to the Department of Mysteries for study and safekeeping.

Men have wasted away before it, not knowing if what they have seen is real, or even possible, the Headmaster had wrote the Auror Department when speaking of the artifact, and the old man's concern for his students had shone strongly through within the letter. I do not want any of the children to inadvertently stumble across the Mirror and be caught within its trap. Please come and remove it from the school so that I may sleep soundly once it is gone.

And so the Aurors—and the trainees—had flocked to Hogwarts en masse per the Headmaster's request; once they arrived, Dumbledore had immediately taken them up to the highest room in the tallest tower where, once upon a time ago, Harry had always believed the sleeping princess dreamt—but instead of a beautiful young woman, each law enforcement officer was presented with the sight of an ancient, tarnished mirror, so old that its glass was foggy with its age.

It was while the six men and women had assembled around the Mirror of Erised, shifting so that everyone could get an equal hold on it (since, as the Headmaster had discovered for himself, the Mirror refused to be moved by magic), that Harry accidentally stumbled across his reflection.

A nineteen year-old boy had stared back with eyes that were as green as springtime grass, and surrounding him were people—so many people. His mother and father stood on either side of him, beaming proudly at their only son—the son who had decided to follow in both of their footsteps. Slightly behind them was his godfather, Sirius, alive and well and as energetic as the last time Harry had seen him at the age of six. Grandparents, too, dead before Harry had ever been born: cousins that had never existed—and right before he could turn away, the Dursleys had stepped in next to Harry's mother and father, and Dudley had clapped Harry on the shoulder in a friendly manner.

His throat had burned, and it had taken all of the willpower that had existed within himself to turn away from the image that called to him, called to him so desperately. The sight had left behind an ache that Harry knew would never be filled: how could it, when the reflection he saw would never be fulfilled in reality?

The memory was enough to make Harry's heart clench, and the young man released the slight breath that he had been holding. There was the telltale prick of tears at the corners of his eyes, but Harry had fallen asleep to the memory on many nights and had learned, early on, to hold back his tears—had had to learn that talent as he had placed the black rose on his godfather's coffin during his funeral.

So it was with dry eyes that Harry glanced back up at the demon that had been summoned, the demon that he was wise enough to refrain from freeing it of its prison-circle. "What happens if the thing that I really want is also beyond your power to grant?" the Auror asked, verdant eyes flat.

Voldemort's own eyes narrowed dangerously at that. "Humans do not harangue on a sole desire—ever," the demon retorted, though Harry did notice the way that the creature had slightly tensed. "Surely there are plenty of wishes that I can grant for you." –and then destroy you with, Voldemort thought with a glittering gaze.

Idly, Harry just spread his hands wide, uncaring of how weak his uncertainty and lack of concern appeared to the creature.

"What of fame?" Voldemort asked, attention intent upon the young human. Harry shrugged before shaking his head negatively. He had seen firsthand just how pompous one became when offered a little bit of fame: he'd rather shoot himself with a Stupefy than take after Malfoy when his father had been elected Minister of Magic. "Then what of riches?" That question made Harry snort in bemusement: he had no need of money or any other riches, not when he had full access to the Potter vaults and his godfather had bequeathed the Black vaults to the boy within his will. He was richer than God, and not even the Malfoys had pockets as deep as Harry's.

The listlessness towards two desires that had most humans salivating, however, brought a snarl of annoyance to Voldemort's mouth, twisting full lips into an expression of feral anger. "If you have no need of fame or riches, then surely you won't turn away the offer of power," the demon finally suggested once he managed to regain control over his expression. And how could this boy refuse this particular offer? Everyone wanted power.

For the first time, Harry's mouth quirked up in a slight smile. "I feel the need to warn you that despite the fact that I'm a wizard, I did attend a Muggle primary school. One of my teachers was obsessed with Elizabethan literature—made us read a ton of it, 'to make sure that we knew what a great literary history we descend from' and all that. The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus was one of the works we read. And while it's been a while and I was little when I read it, I remember enough to feel comfortable with pointing out that accepting power from a demon is never an intelligent decision. Just sayin'."

"Hn," Voldemort felt the need to comment. "This makes you one of the rare smart ones."

Harry laughed, a sulky-sweet smile tugging lopsidedly at his mouth. "Ah, well. My appearance can, at times, be deceiving. But, anyway—this still means that we're at a stalemate. I'm sure you want to go home, and I want to keep my soul. Any suggestions on how we can both get what we want?"

The demon glanced sidelong at the human, lips pursed thoughtfully. "Since you've turned down all of the wishes that I offered up to you, what is it that you greatly desire? Since you're already fully aware of it, boy, you may as well impart that same knowledge to me since it's apparently beyond my power to grant."

The wizard glared at the usage of the term "boy," but let it go in the end—what point was there in fighting an all-powerful, supernatural being that probably had more magic in the tip of its pinky than Harry did in his entire body? It didn't take a genius to realize how that particular battle would end. "I want my family back," Harry finally ventured in replying, glancing away from the derision that he knew he would see in the demon's gaze.

Because Harry was looking away, he missed it: Instead of derision, the demon's eyes widened slightly before a slow, pleased smile curled the edges of his mouth upwards as he realized that, perhaps, there could be a solution to this stalemate between himself and the stubborn wizard. "Tell me, boy, have you ever heard of the legend of the Peverell brothers…?"