Disclaimer – Isn't mine.
Betrayal of the worst kind.
Chapter 1 - Freedom and fear
Harry Potter waited with growing annoyance at the side of the stage. He hated public speaking but Dumbledore had insisted, just as he always had.
It had been two years since Sirius died; two of the most difficult years of Harry's life. And that was saying something. He had been closeted in Hogwarts during the school year, not allowed to leave even just to go to Hogsmeade. Instead, as his friends were drinking butterbeer in the Three Broomsticks, Harry had been training how to cast shields that would stop almost anything but the Unforgivables. As Ron and Hermione had bought sweets from Honeydukes, Harry had learnt how to brew some of the most potent poisons known to man, and, as the rest of his seventh year classmates had spent their time worrying about their NEWTs and who was dating whom, Harry had learnt to throw the killing curse without so much as batting an eyelash.
He had grown powerful. Very powerful. The only way his tutors could now better him was by dueling six on one. Dumbledore, Snape, Flitwick, Moody, Remus and Kingsley Shacklebolt would routinely pull him out of class, off the Quidditch Pitch, and even out of meals, to throw anything and everything at him; the final battle seemingly the only thing of importance now. All in all it wasn't much of a life.
'For Merlin's sake, hurry up.' Harry muttered.
'What was that, Harry?' Hermione, this year's Head Girl, asked from his left.
'Nothing.' Harry sighed.
He glanced around the hall. Today was graduation and families and friends from all over had come to see them. Harry, felt more than saw, the glances that kept coming his way, most he knew were trying to tell if it was really him.
He had changed.
A lot in fact.
Gone were the glasses and the too big clothing, replaced with an eye correction spell and black fitted pants and shirt and a Acromatula silk cloak that all but scream wealth. The messy hair was longer, tamer, tied back at the nape of his neck. Nine months of good food, exercise and physical training had done wonders and he stood tall and proud, the dark cloak draped elegantly around his shoulders and green eyes coolly surveying the room as if judging and finding them all wanting. The expression had left more than a few with flashbacks to another powerful young man who had also been Head Boy. All in all, it made many people in the room slightly uncomfortable, Dumbledore included. Voldemort had been very quiet of late but all knew he would try something before Harry left Hogwarts with the other students in three days.
'And now, our Head Boy and Girl will give their final address. May I present Hermione Granger and Harry Potter.' Dumbledore finished talking and turned to beam at them. Harry inwardly groaned as Hermione practically raced up the little stairs and cast a sonorous charm before speaking. Harry stood patiently to one side as she rambled on about what an honour it was and how they would go out into the big wide world and show everyone just how strong they were.
At her words Harry couldn't help but seek out a pair of dark eyes, watching as they rolled, and allowing his mouth to twitch slightly in return. He scanned the room once more and caught another pair of eyes looking back at him in anticipation. Harry just raised an eyebrow in response to the unasked question and watched, smirking inwardly as the owner of the set of eyes practically bounced in their seat.
Applause broke out and Harry snapped back to attention, realising that Hermione had finished. He waited for her to step back before walking to stand in the middle of the stage and once again casting his gaze around the room. He held the gaze of everyone as they looked up at him in no small amount of awe and without moving a muscle or uttering an incantation he wandlessly cast a Sonorous charm and began to speak.
'Good evening.' He said politely, if a little coldly. 'Hermione has pretty much covered everything in regards to our schooling, our futures and our thanks to the teachers. I too wish to add my thanks. They have certainly trained me well.' He said quietly, the soft tone of voice not quite hiding either the sarcasm or the well of power that was building within the young man.
Harry could see Dumbledore's blue eyes twinkling blindingly as they tried to hide their concern at Harry's demeanor. 'No. Today I wish to talk to you about saviours, or heroes, or what ever you like to call them. I know the basic way a hero or saviour grows up. Naturally he, or she, is an abused, skinny orphan, who through misadventures, whether accidental or orchestrated.' Harry glanced at Dumbledore once more as he said this, his eyes narrowing as the old wizard blanched ever so much, 'learns and becomes stronger. The mighty unbeatable person, who supposedly knows everything; can fix everything. Now here's the cracker people, heroes do not know everything. Saviours do make mistakes. And either can hurt other people.'
Many of the looks of awe that were previously on the faces of those watching were beginning to fade and be replaced with something entirely different.
'You invented the saviour, the Boy-Who-Lived, when you became scared. You wanted to know that somebody out there was still innocent and un-touched with the evilness that lurks among the wizardkind. You wanted somebody to take the responsibility, somebody to be the savior…and you wanted somebody to blame. You all suddenly became innocent, as all the bad things that occurred were saviour's fault; apparently he had failed to prevent them happening.' Harry's eyes flashed. Whether with anger or pain no one could tell.
'Heroes are the models of our race. Saviours are the people you put all your trust in. That's why it's so hard to understand, and even harder to forgive, when one of them fails, or does something wrong or worse, unthinkable. The first reaction is denial. Then comes the ultimate feeling, betrayal.' Harry's chin lifted slightly.
'It's even worse than when a family member betrays, because the members of a family are only humans. Heroes and saviours are one step higher. They are half-gods, they are powerful, and when they betray, they become dangerous.' Harry's eyes narrowed once again and he set such a piercing stare at the headmaster that the grey haired man actually took a step back.
'No.' Dumbledore whispered as what was about to happen finally dawned on him.
Harry's cloak seemed to flare and a small shockwave of power rolled out of him and across the room, rippling through every witch or wizard that was watching. Finally he smiled, quite a scary sight if truth be told. 'And once they become dangerous, then it begins...'
Suddenly the doors to the great hall were thrown open and hundreds of dark cloaked figures swarmed in. Harry stood defiantly silent and still as the teachers were quickly disarmed and silenced and the others in the hall were held at wand point or their wands taken. The Death Eaters outnumbered the guests and students two to one and while a few reckless Gryffindors tried to fight their way out most realised it was futile.
Dumbledore seemed stunned that the Death Eaters had made it onto the school grounds without setting off the wards and he looked questioningly at the other staff members, nearly all of whom looked as surprised as him.
The crowd near the door parted and a tall cloaked figure swept into the hall and up to the stage. It lowered its hood and surveyed the room, screams ringing out as people realised the red eyed figure was actually Lord Voldemort.
The Dark Lord turned back to face him. 'Harry Potter.' He hissed. Harry glanced at Dumbledore who looked as if someone had cancelled Christmas. As Harry caught his eyes the young man could see a spark of hope spring to life.
'Hi Tom.' Harry said easily. Riddle grinned and stepped forward to embrace the young man he had taken on as his equal the past summer.
The screams, yells and gasps of horror were deafening as the two pulled away. 'I've missed you.' Riddle said quietly.
Harry shrugged, nodding his head towards Dumbledore. 'He wouldn't let me out after what happened at Christmas.'
Suddenly an angry voice yelled out. 'Harry, what the hell are you doing?' Ron Weasley was desperately trying to get out of the restraining arms and to his friend.
Harry sighed inwardly. 'What does it look like, Ron?' he drawled.
'But that bastard killed your parents.'
The green eyes turned icy. 'Yet he gave me life. Which is more than any of you have done.'
'What are you talking about? We're your best friends, Harry.' Hermione asked, standing nearby with a Death Eater either side and eyeing Voldemort with distrust and no small amount of fear.
'And yet you barely know me.' Harry spat.
'B...but you can't join You-Know-Who.' Neville stuttered from the front row of the hall. 'You're the Boy-Who-Lived.'
Harry laughed darkly, a harsh, biting sound that cause many in the hall to shift uncomfortably. 'Boy-Who-Lived. Ha. I haven't lived. I don't live. I should have been called the Boy-Who-Existed for that is all I do. Exist, until such time as Dumbledore decides to pit his faithful pet bulldog against the evil dark snake.'
Riddle stood back and watched as Harry responded to the attacks from his friends. He watched the boy's power build, the cloak swirling around him as the charmed sky overheard flashed with lightning and he knew he had made the right decision. The three Slytherins had been correct. The Boy-Who-Lived was powerful, very powerful, and very, very disheartened with his perceived role in life. Dumbledore had made a grave miscalculation last summer, leaving the boy at his muggle relatives, with barely any contact from his friends. All it had taken was several letters from a young Slytherin to the young Gryffindor, a couple of Portkeys, a switching of the locator charm the batty old headmaster had placed on the boy saviour to another, and a serious amount of Polyjuice used by that same faithful young follower who had yet to be marked. The ridiculous Order of the Phoenix hadn't even noticed they were watching Blaise Zabini and not Harry Potter.
Harry had stayed the summer at Malfoy Manor and his arrival had certainly been an eye opener. When the Portkey had activated landing him in the parlour and Harry had immediately and wandlessly dropped the dozen guards with two wide range stunning spells leaving him with just Voldemort and Lucius Malfoy, both of whom were looking at him in surprise.
'I see your son was quite correct, Lucius. The boy has indeed grown powerful.' Riddle had hissed.
'Do not call me a boy.' Harry had growled, keeping his hand raised slightly.
Voldemort had laughed, startling the young man. 'You are quite right, Harry. You are definitely no longer a boy.'
Harry's eyes had narrowed, flicking between red and silver. 'What do you want, Tom? Malfoy said you had a proposition.'
'I do, Harry. I asked you to join me five years ago, do you remember?' Harry nodded slowly. 'Back then I offered you family. I can't offer you that now so I won't even try. And I'm not going to offer you power. You already have that. Or wealth. You have that too. And lastly, I'm not going to offer you your life. I have it on very good advice that you could take me on and win right now. What I am going to offer you is the one thing you don't have. The one thing you will never have, even if you defeat me.'
Harry looked mildly curious. 'And what's that?'
'Freedom, Harry. Your freedom. To be who you are, who you really want to be.'
Harry looked at the Dark Lord, his eyes narrowed in thought. He could hear the stunned Death Eaters around him beginning to wake but showed no outwards sign of doing anything about it. Tom Riddle waited patiently as Harry contemplated the offer, watching as the green eyes glanced firstly at Malfoy before looking at the now standing figures around him, all of whom had wands raised.
Finally he looked back to meet red eyes watching him intently. 'I will not bow to you, Tom. I will not debase myself before you like some grovelling sycophant. If I choose to join you, it will be as your equal or not at all, for that is what I am.' There was a defiant glint in the young man's eyes as if expecting the Dark Lord to refuse and strike him down where he stood. The expressions on the assembled Death Eaters were priceless. They too obviously thought the Boy-Who-Lived would not much longer.
Riddle startled them all by snorting softly before climbing down off his special throne and crossing the room to stand before the young man. He noticed the slight wince and frowned. Oh, yes. The scar.
'We will have to do something about that if you are going to be staying.' He said quietly.
Harry's eyes widened slightly before he gave Riddle a small smile. 'Thank you.' Harry said equally as quietly. Riddle had just nodded and then gestured for Lucius to show their newest guest to his suite of rooms.
That had been the beginning of six weeks of the most enjoyable summer holidays Harry had ever had. True to his word Riddle had given Harry the freedom he so desperately craved. With a new type of Polyjuice potion Harry could disguise himself as someone else and walk the streets of Diagon Alley for hours with anonymity. Once a day he plucked three hairs from his head and sent them with Hedwig back to the Dursleys, where Blaise Zabini was masquerading in his place, and received several in return for his own use when he went out.
Disguised as Blaise also meant he could hang around with Malfoy whenever he liked, which in itself was quite good as Harry had come to appreciate the blond Slytherin's sharp wit and wicked sense of humour.
Harry also met with the Dark Lord each day who enquired after him before leaving him alone, although by the end of the summer the two would spend hours each evening arguing over the politics of their world. The fire crackling between them as they disputed the positives and negatives of pure blood. Of course it had taken Harry several weeks to get Tom to admit to his muggle heritage. All in all, it was the most liberating time of Harry's life and he hated having to give it up when September the first came around.
As the year progressed Malfoy had passed on letters from Tom and sent his back in return. This lasted until Christmas when Riddle gave him one of a set of mirrors like Sirius had. As the months passed, Harry had talked to the Dark Lord every day, telling him what he had learnt and who was teaching him. Riddle had kept the attacks and raids fairly small, building for the one last one at the end of the school year that he knew Dumbledore and the Order would be waiting for. Instead, he spent the time firming his spy base, building his army of followers and planning with the Boy-Who-Lived for the ultimate graduation speech.
Speaking of which. Harry seemed to have finished his current rant and was looking at him expectantly.
'Can we go now?' he asked.
'Aren't you forgetting something?' Tom's eyes showed his amusement.
Harry frowned. 'Oh yes.' He turned to the teachers, casually flicking his hand and dropping the silencing charm that had been placed on them. The group of almost a hundred guests was silent, waiting to see what would happen. Harry opened his mouth to speak but Dumbledore cut him off.
'What are you doing, Harry?' the headmaster said imploringly. 'You're parents would be so disappointed in you.'
It was quite the wrong thing to say. 'In me, old man?' Harry yelled incredulously. 'You drove me to this. If they would be disappointed in anyone it would be you. When will you learn you can't use people and throw them away until you need them again. You did it to Tom and you've done it to me. People aren't pawns.'
'But Harry, he killed your parents.'
Harry stiffened. 'And you killed me. The only difference is that my Mum and Dad got to spend eternity in heaven and I had to spend it here with you, cleaning up all of your messes and waiting until you needed your little tool again before you would let me out.'
'Harry, please, just listen.'
'Why should I?' Harry burst out.
'What?' Dumbledore looked startled.
'Why should I listen to you?'
The headmaster was speechless, he seemed unable to answer so McGonagall spoke up from his side. 'Because we care about you, Harry.'
Harry glanced at Riddle before snorting loudly. 'You care about me?' he scoffed. 'When did that start? When you left me on the Dursley's doorstep knowing what they were like? Or when you left me to take on Tom unaided at the age of eleven? And twelve for that matter. Or fourteen. Or what about when you sent me back to those muggles every summer, knowing what they did and how they thought? Where did all of this supposed care fit in with that? All you care about is your precious Order and that they win no matter what the personal costs to the individual. What's a few lives sacrificed for the greater good?Well, that's all well and good as long as you aren't one of the few.' Harry watched the headmaster pale. 'That's right, I heard you.' The challenge to deny the truth in the young man's words was very clear.
There was no answer, not that Harry expected any, so he just shook his head, crossing the room to pluck three wands from the hand of Lucius Malfoy who had retrieved them from a nearby Death Eater. The silver eyed man smiled and Harry smirked in reply. He tossed two to the waiting Slytherins in the front row before crossing to where the teachers were standing. He passed by the silent group, seeing the fear in their eyes, before stopping at the final member. He raised an eyebrow in question, idly twirling the wand between his fingers.
The potions master smiled. 'Harry.' He said softly, answering the question. If he had said Potter, it would have meant he wanted to stay at the school, that after all that had happened, he was still loyal to the light. Harry, meant he was ready to move forward, to continue what had started last summer and carried on under a cloak of secrecy throughout the year.
'Severus.' Harry smiled in return, handing the wand to the older man before moving to stand with Riddle.
'We are leaving now, Dumbledore.' Riddle hissed. 'We could kill you all and be done with it, but I think the thought of your saviour, your hero, turning from you, to me, not to mention the loss of one of your best spies will be quite punishment enough.' Riddle glanced down at Harry before adding. 'For now, anyway.'
Harry nodded and Draco Malfoy and Blaise Zabini stood up and moved to stand beside the young man as Severus Snape crossed the ten steps to place a hand on Harry's shoulder.
'Goodbye.' Harry said curtly. 'I really hope I don't see any of you again.' He finished quietly before turning away and heading towards the door.
'Harry, please.' Dumbledore pleaded. The appeal echoed by many in the room. Harry stopped and turned back, his green eyes alighting momentarily on each of his friends before finally coming to rest on the headmaster.
'I can't.' he said softly. 'Can't you see? This is who I am, what I am. This is what you made. You took a little boy who just wanted to be treated like a little boy, and thrust the fate of the world upon his shoulders. Not only that, you expected him to carry the burden on his own, in spite of your promises. You took away my childhood and expected me to fight for a way of life that I hadn't even lived yet. You told me it was for a better world, and yet my world, if anything, got worse.' Harry blinked several times, feeling the comforting weight of the hand on his shoulder squeezing gently. 'You gave me nothing to live for, or fight for. You took away my freedom and locked me away like a toy soldier, trained to the point of exhaustion, only to be let out when the time was right; when it was time to lay my life on the line. Well, that time has passed. I'm sorry. I want more, and you can't give it to me.'
'And he can?' Ron spat, visibly angry for several moments until he realised just whom he was pointing at. The Gryffindor paled and swiftly dropped his hand as Riddle smirked wickedly.
Harry glanced at Tom before speaking. 'Yes, he can.' He said quietly. 'And more importantly, he did. Without ever being asked. He knew what I needed without being told.' Harry looked back at the Dark Lord and Riddle returned the look with something akin to fondness; an expression that dropped jaws around the room.
'Is there nothing we can say to change your mind, Harry?' Hermione asked desperately.
Harry looked around the room at the shocked and saddened faces and knew once again he had failed. In trying to have a life of his own he had failed everyone else. As if knowing what he was thinking he heard a soft voice whisper, the warm breath ghosting over his neck.
'You are allowed a life too, Harry.' The hand squeezed again and Harry leant back slightly, the long sleeves of his robes covering his hand as he reached behind him and sought the others before clasping it possessively.
'No, everything has been said already. Goodbye.' He turned away and walked silently to the door. Riddle by his side. A Petrificus Totalis flew from Ron's wand towards him, Harry dispelling it with nothing more than a wave of his hand as he turned back one last time. Both Snape and Riddle had wands drawn the killing curse on their lips but Harry held out both hands and gently pushed their wands down.
He looked at his old friend and shook his head. 'Before sending anything like that again Ron, ask Dumbledore what I have been doing all year while you have been playing Quidditch and going to Hogsmeade and being a normal teenager. Make him tell you the truth and you will soon realise that it will take a lot more than that to stop me.'
Harry looked around the room at the faces of his classmates, his eyes suddenly flashing with anger. 'Anyone else want to have a go?' he said quietly. Whether the Boy-Who-Lived purposely added the flare of magic that rushed out of him causing the hair on the backs of everyone's necks to stand on end, or if it was just an overflow from the anger he was feeling, didn't seem to make any difference. Nearly every eye in the room looked away and Harry sighed. It was time to go. Tom clasped his elbow and as one the large group, which now included most of the Slytherin seventh years and their parents, left the hall and walked slowly down to the gates before apparating away with a huge crack.
Back up in the now half empty hall everyone turned to look at Dumbledore. Some scared, some upset and some angry. Answers were wanted and wanted now and the Headmaster was going to have to provide them.