Summary: A crossroad demon and a lonely hero, sitting on the swings.
I have so many HP/Supernatural plot bunnies running around, so if you want one- just ask.
If you think I own this, you're nuts.
I'm not sure if, or rather when, there will be a second chapter.
As the swing creaked in protest under his weight, Harry wondered what would happen if his cousin Dudley sat on it. The thought provoked a shadow of a smile out of him. Harry began swinging back and fourth, slowly gaining pace; up, up, up. It was close enough to flying that some of the darkness on his tail drifted away with each repetitive action.
When he swang down, cutting through the air with a soft woosh, he saw something. His foot jerked down in shock, grinding his swinging to a swift halt. It was dark enough that the park was nearly empty, so he looked around quickly, before his eyes returned to the person in the swing beside him.
His heart thumped with shock, and he barely dared to hope...
"I'm not him," Ron Weasley said. Harry looked at him hard. On the surface he looked exactly like Ron, freckle for freckle, but there was something different. A darkness his best mate didn't possess unless someone tried to stand between him and his next meal.
Harry's hands slid down the swing chain, gathering dust and dirt as he rested his hands on his thighs, beside his wand. His mind raced in confusion. Polyjuice potion? There was a sudden lump in his throat. Imperius?
"Relax," it said, words coming out of his best mates mouth. It didn't sound like Ron either."Your friend is safely snoring with mommy, daddy and his dozen siblings."
Mommy? Not mum, or even mummy. American. Hermione had gone on about the spelling differences one evening, seemingly oblivious to Ron and Harry's desperate attempts to escape.
"What are you?" Harry asked, unable to help the hints of nervousness weaving through his voice. Death Eaters, Voldemort, Dementors, Basilisks, Snape, but this was different. None of these terrors had been able to find him at his home, wearing his best mate's face.
"A Crossroad demon," it said. Harry stared at him, and as his hand snuck up his thigh to his pocket, Ron's hand dropped on his thigh. He flinched in surprise, boldly meeting the demon's eyes. It was smiling with Ron's mouth, eyes crinkling up in the same way Ron's did.
"I don't usually tell people this much. I don't usually make house calls," the demon said, a thoughtful twist in his best friend's mouth. "But you're different. Harry Potter, the wizarding saviour." The demon grinned at him, hand tightening painfully on his thigh, but Harry refused to flinch."Boy, oh boy, was I surprised to find you on my list."
Harry's brow furrowed in confusion."What do you mean?"
The demon looked at him through Ron's eyes."I'm here to make you an offer."
Harry scrambled his brain desperately for any and all information on Crossroad demons. Unfortunately, most wizards believed demons to be extinct, so there was little known about them. Demons were glossed over, and Harry had never been a particularly good student. Hermione would know, he was sure of it.
"What are the drawbacks?" Harry asked warily, because if the Dursleys had taught him anything it's that nothing was free.
The demon stared at him for a second, and grinned. "Ten years," it said. "You have ten years to enjoy it, and then you belong to us."
Ten years. Considering Voldemort had returned, it was a good offer. He could die before he reached sixteen. But his soul would belong to the demons.
"What are you offering me?"
The demon's grin toned down into a smirk, and it's swing rocked slightly. "Revenge," it said. "On anyone you want."
Revenge. He could get Snape back for all those classroom tortures. He could punish Malfoy for everything. He could...He could end it. He could kill Voldemort. He could save everyone, and all it would cost is his soul. Ten years with Ron and Hermione, without death threats, or terror, or pain.
Harry imagined it, closing his eyes. A peaceful life. He could live with Sirius, maybe. He could be happy, and normal. A smile curved on the edges of his mouth.
But the demon wasn't done.
"Your guardians..." it purred. Harry's eyes snapped open, and he cursed himself for drifting off so recklessly. "They've hurt you, locked you up, mistreated you." The demon leaned forward, Ron's blue eyes wide and intent. "They've never loved you, and nobody cares."
The demon was right, Harry concluded absently. The Dursleys had mistreated him, shoved him away, snarled and neglected him, worked him like a slave, and treated him no better. He'd been used as a punching bag for Dudley since his childhood. Sneered disgust, neglect verging on abuse, and they got away with it.
Anger crackled through his veins, poisoning his mind, and he thought about the skinny, desperate child he had been; friendless and afraid.
"Or your friends?" The demon continued. Harry stared at her, blinking his rage filled haze away."Those who left you here, all alone. Ron knows how those monsters treat you," it hissed."He saw the bars, and the locks."
"Ron tried to tell someone..." Harry protested feebly, more of a reflex.
"He could have tried harder," the demon said, catching his gaze, blue eyes drilling into green."Wouldn't you have? If someone locked up your friend?"
"He's always been jealous of you," it murmured."And she is no better, always nagging, and goading, demanding."
"Hermione cares about me," Harry said, but he wavered.
"If constant nagging is caring, then your aunt loves you."
Over the years, he'd noticed a certain trait Hermione had in common with his Aunt Petunia: neither of them ever gave him a break.
"They promised to help you," the demon coaxed."And where are they?"
"I don't know," Harry choked, horrified by the sudden burn behind his eyes. Anger and pain intertwined so effortlessly. Where were they when he was screaming his throat raw into his pillow, begging for Cedric's life as his mother had done for his?
Cedric was a good man. He was the kind of man Harry could have seen himself becoming. Cedric had been kind and noble, and now he was dead. A flash of green light, and he was dead.
Harry could barely breath through the sudden weight on his chest. It suddenly seemed like a good idea to make his 'friends' pay. To see how they dealt with the constant nightmares, guilt, and the- the expression on Cedric's face as he fell.
They promised. They promised, but they lied. They were just like everybody else. They abandoned him to this festering depression, to the Dursleys. How could they do that to him? Ron and Hermione were supposed to be there for him, were supposed to love him.
Struggling within himself, swamped in rivers of pain and rage, Harry wondered if this was how Tom Riddle thought, how he felt, how he fell.
He climbed to his feet, watching the surprise cross the demon's false face.
"No," he gritted out, voice gruff and rough, and so unlike him."If I want to kill someone, I'll do it myself."
The demon watched as Harry walked away until his lone figure disappeared down the street.
"Stupid boy," the demon muttered, and disappeared.
Harry spent the rest of the week away from the park, spending long days hiding out in the smallest bedroom, mulling over the demonic encounter, regretful but determine. He didn't write to Dumbledore about the demon, even if he thought the old man would respond, he doubted anyone could, or would, do anything about it. Sometimes Harry found himself wondering what would happen if he told anyone, would it finally be enough to prompt Ron and Hermione into picking up a quill?
Ever since his conversation with the crossroads demon, Harry's temper had been sharper. Things tended to break whenever he thought of his friends, and considering the likely reaction, being assalted by letters telling him he wasn't allowed to leave the house anymore, to anyone finding out, he decided it was best that he didn't turn Surrey into a sink hole. So, that left him on his own.
Harry ordered every book he could find on demons, and was almost half way through them all when he realised that by hiding out in his room for fear of running into the demon, he was imprisoning himself better then almost a summer worth of letters could do.
The next morning, Harry left his books inside, and went for a walk. He was barely out of the Dursleys back garden when a set of of footsteps fell into step behind him, and then behind him. Harry stared ahead, eyes not even flickering to his left where the demon walked. The smooth pavement took a dive for the beaten the further he walked, and Harry managed to lulled himself into a state of denial until the demon spoke.
"Your life could be so much easier."
"No," Harry said firmly.
Hermione's voice sighed. "I could give you the world," she said.
"I don't want the world," Harry said.
"What do you want?" the demon asked.
"I want you to leave me alone."
"Sure," the demon said. "I'll leave you alone, and all you have to do is say yes."
Harry stopped, and turned, staring into his best friend's eyes with as much anger as he can dig up- and it's enough that Number 7's windows break, and 8's crack. "No," he snarled, bitter rage vibrating through his voice.
"I could take care of Pettigrew for you," the demon continued temptingly. And that was just...
"If I say yes, I go to hell," Harry said, but it wasn't quite a denial. His godfather could be free, and with the traitorous rat's imprisonment- or death- his parents could finally rest in peace. They could be a family, Sirius and him. They could be together, away from the Dursleys, away from the dementors; all those awful things holding them down.
"Wouldn't it be worth it, Harry?" Hermione's brown eyes bore into his, and even knowing what was behind there, Harry felt at ease because his best friend, his sister, was here. His anger and hurt at the real girl couldn't touch this moment. "You've suffered so much," Hermione's bottom lip trembled lightly, and suddenly, it was wrong. Wrong because Hermione would never say that to him, wrong because she would never cry like that; trembling and pouting, instead of tears and sobbing. "You deserve to be happy."
Harry looked away, and felt the 'spell' break.
"No." As he answered, Harry wondered if bringing him to the edge of temptation was enough for the Crossroads demon. How long would it be before the demon stopped appealing to his darker side, wearing a friend's face?
Harry started walking abruptly, quicker then his usual pace. The demon followed.
"Leave me alone," Harry hissed, not daring another glance. His speed increased until he was power walking, the wind disrupting his already chaotic hair.
There was a sense of poetic satisfaction in the demon's response, "No."
"Why are you still here?" Harry asked almost an hour later, rocking gently on his swing.
The demon tore its loathful gaze off of a group of screaming children, and looked at him. "I'm waiting."
Harry waited for the demon to continue. It took several moments of staring for him to realise the demon needed some prompting. Hardly believing he was actually doing this, Harry asked,"For what?"
"For you to realise how much better your life could be," the demon gazed steadily at him. "It's a good deal. Are you going to live for ten years if you don't deal with me? With Voldemort so desperate to kill you?" there was a cool menace coating the demon's words, and Harry couldn't help but listen."You won't be losing anything, Harry. You can only gain from this deal."
"Why are you so desperate?" Harry murmured with a heavy tongue. He tore his gaze from the demon, and stared at the ground. "Why am I so special?"
"Because you're Harry Potter," the demon said, leaning forward so that Harry could almost feel its breath on his neck. Warm seduction dripped from its borrowed voice.
"Can you make me someone else?" he asked lowly, and felt goosebumbs prickle over his skin."Make me normal?"
The other swing creaked as the demon leaned back, and away. Harry straightened from his unconsciously slumped posture, and looked over at Hermione's face. "Some can," it said, with a frown on its face.
"You can't," Harry said confidently. "So don't bother asking again."
The demon's gaze burned through his skin, and Harry crippled the urge to reach for his wand. "I could bring your mother back," it said coldly.
Harry couldn't help but wince, as he rasped,"No deal."
She died for me, he reasoned logically, she'd rather die then have me in hell.
A cold pit opened up in his stomach, a gorge of guilt.
While the demon distracted him from Cedric, instead filling his nightmares with visions of an imagined hell- ever since he realised the catch to a deal- it was more then capable of ripping old wounds open.
"I've heard you were the self sacrificing type," the demon mused.
"Appearently watching someone's brutal death has an effect on your personality," Harry said, deadpan. "Who knew."
"It's strange being so open with a client," the demon said.
Harry gave it a sidelong glance full of disbelief."Are you trying to start a conversation?"
"You're going to make a deal with me in the end. I've been ordered not to leave until you do."
"Don't hold your breath," Harry murmured, and then paused. "Actually, please do."
The demon stared at him, almost curiously. "Some of souls on the rack act like you are right now," the demon informed him. "Right before they snap. It's called gallows humor."
"The rack?" he asked dreadfully.
"The rack," the demon searched for an explanation he would understand. "The souls are left on the rack, and tortured by the demons until they become demons."
"Wait," Harry froze, staring at the...person in shock. His breath had been stolen from his lungs as an awful pity made itself known."The souls become demons?" Harry shook his head. "You're doing a really bad job of making me want to sell my soul to you."
Somehow, the demon looked awkward. "This is my first job," it admitted. "I'm...not like other demons."
"You were like other demons when we first met," Harry said, and eyed him. "You're different now."
"Am I?" The demon's eyes glowed a terrifying red that reminded Harry far too much of Voldemort, but he could control his flinch. "This is an unusual deal, and I'm an unusual demon."
"Two token attempts to sway me," Harry said. "It's going to take more then that."
"You'll give in eventually," the demon grinned nastily, sharply. "Humans can't resist the call of vengeance."
"I'm not going to deal with you," Harry swore, but under the demon's gaze he didn't feel so sure.
"Once upon a time, there was a man who underwent tortures unimaginable for thirty long years. He spent thirty years on the rack, tortured by the best of the best until there was nothing left- until the next moment whenthe man was re-made, only to be broken time and time again. There was no respite in sleep, because the dead do not sleep. There was no respite in unconsciousness, because the dead could not be any less conscious. He was offered a choice, a way off the rack, and for thirty years, he said no. Until one day, he said yes, and broke every soul he ever laid his greedy hands on." There was a special vehemence in the demon's tone that suggested it had been one of those souls."In the end, everyone breaks."
"Why should I make this deal?" Harry asked absently, shaken by this new knowledge. If someone could resist hell for thirty years, what were they doing down there in the first place? Had they been ignorant, or had they been stalked and pushed into it like Harry was being? Except he'd never say yes, unless...Unless Voldemort came out of hiding; he'd make the deal then, to save everyone, if he had too.
"Because you'd get ten years out of it with your loved ones, instead of a couple of years full of misery and death seeking antics while everyone you've ever interacted with was murdered by an obsessive dark lord." The demon made sure to catch his gaze. "And that's what will happen if you don't deal."
"I don't believe you," Harry lied, and looked away.
The demon's smirk hovered at the edge of his vision. "Yes, you do."
It was too much. Harry sprang out of the swing, and marched forward, desperate to put as much distance between them as possible- he didn't care if it made him a coward. It was too close. He was too close to giving in, and he couldn't. The demon would find someway to mess it up.
"If I make a deal, I have to honour it," the demon said from behind him. Harry ducked his head, and kept on walking, swallowing his desire to turn around, and say yes, to sell his soul. "I thought you heroes were all about self sacrifice!" it called when he was at the edge of the park.
Harry remembered Cedric's face as he died, and he remembered long hours, crouched in his cupboard, imagining himself as a hero, as someone better then a skinny kid clinging onto his sanity with the tips of his fingers.
"I'm not a hero," he murmured, and kept going.