NEW A/N: 6/10/14: New and returning readers! Hey there, I'm back. Or trying to be. I'm leaving this note here to tell you: Please disregard any notes left in chapters up to 14 (Creep) regarding pairings. This story is a part one of two, and there will be no pairings part one. Part two will have a somewhat high chance of a m/m no sex relationship. Oh yes, you read that right. Also, if you didn't know: My story is a long-winded, deeply introspective look into a disturbed individual. It moves slow and is apparently about a nine on the angst-o-meter, as well as creepy as all hell at certain points. Looking back, I would love to revise the hell out of these chapters, but at the moment I feel that that would put me off updating any more of the story, so I'll put that on the back burner for now. Please refer to my newly-rewritten profile for more information on what's going on. Enjoy!
Prologue; The End
It amazed Harry, in a vague sort of way, that he could recall some things with such clarity still, after all this time… He blamed Voldemort. It was easiest to blame him, now… But it was easy to blame everyone, with all he'd gone through. It would have been better if he couldn't remember at all…
Almost two years ago to the day—or so he had been told; it was hard for him to track time, and he didn't trust a thing out of the Dark Lord's mouth—had been the disastrous trip he took with his gaggle of DA members into the very bowels of the Ministry, and the Department of Mysteries. The day he endangered school children so unlike himself on a misinformed, under thought rescue mission when he knew—he knew!—the Dark Lord would be waiting.
It had been the day he had been possessed by Voldemort. The day he lost his Godfather to the Veil. The day he confirmed—though, he'd somehow kind of known—that the Dark Lord lurked in his mind already.
The day he heard the Prophecy that had sentenced his parents to death fourteen years previous, and seemed to hang the same sentence over his head. Harry knew why Voldemort wanted him dead.
Dumbledore, Harry recalled murkily, had not managed to mask his surprise when instead of yelling (when the old codger had refused to let him escape and mourn in isolation) he had stared at the man, furious beyond words, and the door had shattered. And Harry left.
No one had bothered Harry, then. His…friends…recovered from their wounds and kept their distance, and Harry's guilt was a muted thing, pushed away more easily than it should have been. The rest of the school left well enough alone at news of Voldemort's return being confirmed by the Daily Prophet…and Harry ignored anyone who tried to talk to him about it.
There were more important things to concern himself with.
Like hell was he going to go down without a fight; he spent his usual isolated summer with his relatives reviewing the past year's books. Harry would fight for himself, and for Sirius. He had the feeling his godfather would appreciate it more than him mourning.
His sixth year started with him making enemies of his own House—the fools. They didn't understand…couldn't. Before the Welcoming Feast was through harry had turned in his Quidditch Captain's badge to McGonogall and announced his resignation from the team. He loved to fly, but he would have no time…never enough time. There was a death clock over his head, ticking away the time remaining, the time he had to live, to get stronger and kill or be killed. And the time was coming quickly.
By breakfast the whole school knew he'd left the team, and he became the focus of all discussions once again. Ron had been particularly vocal about Harry's decision, and it had only resolved him that he'd made the right choice to do this alone. Harry would protect his friends, even if it meant they would no longer consider him one. They didn't need to know about the Prophecy.
A routine started; one that lasted the rest of the year, and nothing and no one could stop. As soon as his last class let out Harry went to the Room of Requirement—what he needed was always the same. "I need training—to get strong, skilled, fast. No one can stop me, can find me. Whatever it takes—I need everything."
Hogwarts complied—gave him everything. Harry would kill the Dark Lord or die trying (and hopefully take down as many Death Eaters he could in the crossfire). Apparently, the nearly sentient Hogwarts didn't care what spells (rituals, training, everything…) she gave him were legal or not, either. What the Ministry ruled as Dark didn't matter to the Castle; Magic was Magic. (And if Harry recalled Voldemort's words from his first year at one point, he brushed them aside quickly enough.)
At some point, early on, Harry stopped leaving the Room for anything but classes anymore, and that was only to keep from being suspended. He needed all the time he could get to train; homework was half-assed—if done at all—and sleep became…optional. Harry came to dread sleep. Not only was it a waste of his valuable, limited time, but every time he slept he was assaulted by visions of torture and murder. Harry knew Voldemort did it on purpose; the visions had only gotten worse since his possession in the Ministry, despite attempts at Occlumency. The visions were worse than him simply witnessing the acts; he was in Voldemort's mind—was Voldemort—feeling the creature's (for he couldn't be a man anymore…right?) emotions…the joy, twisted with sadistic pleasure, as he slaughtered countless defenseless people…
So no, Harry didn't sleep much.
Sometimes the Room would insist that he learn something, and would bring it to his attention. Usually by dropping a heavy tome on his head with no warning. Hogwarts had a sense of humor, apparently. One such time it had done this was as Harry studiously re-read a journal on dark magic theory, the night of Winter Solstice.
He'd thanked the Room (voice cracking from disuse), rubbing the sore bump rising on his head, and opened the bookmarked page in the thick, old tome. It was a ritual book—all of them illegal for one reason or another, most of them likely punishable by a lengthy stay in Azkaban—and dated back to the time of the Founders.
The Room shifted around him even as he read the bookmarked ritual—the entire book was written in an annoying slew of Olde English—that, if it could be believed, was supposed to "rejoin Himself with His natural Magick", making learning easier and spells more effective. Hogwarts hadn't led him wrong thus far—the effects of the ritual seemed to be just what he needed—so Harry preformed the ritual right then. It needed to be done on the eve of the Solstice.
It was an easy thing to do, and there was practically no was to mess up. Harry hadn't figured out until it was already done and irreversible just why this ritual was classified as a Forbidden Art.
Even now, though, with his mind opened and torn asunder, Harry still couldn't remember everything about that night: The room hazy with fragrant smoke, moonbeams from the changed, open ceiling. Stinging across his throat as he drew his blood with a clear-quartz blade. Crimson swirling into an obsidian bowl, magic and moonlight making it glow eerily and beautifully. The taste of blood on his lips and liquid weigh heavy in his stomach—his skin tingling and hair standing on end as if he'd been shocked.
He'd tested, and indeed, his spells had preformed better, with less effort.
And when, in the next few days, he'd found himself quicker than usual to anger and his thoughts more vindictive, he'd attributed it to lack of sleep…or bleed-over from Voldemort. So, it had come as a shock when after a week of no sleep that he had fallen unconscious in the middle of another training session and pulled into a vision, and begun to realize an unexpected side-effect of the ritual.
Voldemort was particularly vicious with the slaughter, on this occasion; it stood out as the first time Harry had seen an Inferius. It was an extraordinarily vicious, bloody, and horrible slaughter of an entire family, including two children too young to even attend Hogwarts and a bedridden grandmother. As always, Harry felt Voldemort's emotions as if they were his own.
When he woke, though, he knew something had been different; something had been…wrong? His throat didn't ache from screaming, as it usually did after a vision. He wasn't sweating, and his eyes were dry…he didn't feel sick, either. The only proof he had that it hadn't been a simple nightmare was a small trickle of blood from his scar.
He remembered now that he'd sighed and pushed the ideas of wrongness away, and deciding that whatever the cause, it would be better if he weren't so affected by such things anyway… Not when he was learning to throw curses just as bad…
The room continued to (literally) drop practical material on his head, most of which Harry knew was strictly forbidden, illegal even. Still, he didn't care. The Death Eaters didn't pull punches, so neither would he.
It couldn't have been more than a month after his ritual when a thin book on the Animagus transformation dropped into his lap. Falling into a meditative mindset to discover his inner animal had been far easier than he'd expected, after hearing from Sirius firsthand that it often took years to complete even for even prodigious learners.
His first look at his inner animal had left him conflicted—stunned, content, terrified, and comforted—but also inexplicitly proud. He knew, even within his mind, looking into the great yellow eyes, that no one could ever know about this form.
If it had ever become known that he was a Basilisk, the Wizarding World would declare him the next Dark Lord before Voldemort had even fallen. ('Fickle fools,' the monster in him snarled.)
(In the long time he'd had to think since then, and Harry had a guess as to just what that ritual had done to him. Sirius had once said, talking about both Azkaban and his schooldays, that in his "grim" form his mindset became more "dog-ish". Harry hypothesized that the ritual bridged the mindsets of both his forms—bleeding "magical serpent; predator" into his human mind, and vice versa. But that was only him taking shots in the dark.)
At some point wandless magic and physical fighting had become part of his training routine. Wandless magic came to him easily enough, once he'd figured out it relied on the belief he could more than anything. He knew he wasn't impressive physically, though; he was fast, but his growth was stunted, he was malnourished and really lacking sleep. Still, he'd learned and honed the art of getting the hell out of the way, and he could always take cheap shots easily enough… At the time, he could only hope it gave him the element of surprise, and an advantage in a tight spot.
All-in-all, his sixth year had been passed in a flurry of Gryffindor dodging—most of them trying to force him to reclaim his Quidditch position—, intense study and training. He scraped through his classes on practical classwork alone; there was just no time for him to do homework. (In the end, he suspected that it was by Dumbledore alone that he had been allowed to pass onto the next grade, but he kept it to himself and didn't complain.)
He remembered vividly that the train ride back to King's Cross Station was silent, bitingly so. His friendships had suffered when he'd refused to allow them to become involved in his training; Hermione especially so, because for some reason none of the old DA could find the Room of Requirement anymore.
That summer was the only one in his memory that the Dursleys didn't antagonize him, but… Harry didn't really give them the chance to. Call it a preemptive strike. When they'd arrived outside Number Four, Vernon made to start his usual re-faced rant; Harry had turned towards the tub of lard, wearing a smile just short of pure evil (he blamed the Basilisk in him) and cast a wandless silencing charm. As his Uncle's face did a fair imitation of a bloated plum, Harry had explained—still wearing his dangerous smile—that the Ministry couldn't trace wandless magic, and he would be in his room, don't bother him, thank you very much.
He'd studied out of some of the Room's books he'd taken, and mentally continued along the steps to prepare his body for his first, and most difficult, eventual animagus transformation. It still seemed a small eternity of wasted time until the Order arrived to take him away from his relatives. When they did come to collect him—two days before his seventeenth birthday—, Harry left number four Privet Drive for the last time. He'd only looked back long enough to watch their reactions as he discreetly gave Dudley a pig's tail, and smiled grimly as he was portkeyed to Headquarters.
The night of his seventeenth birthday Harry watched Voldemort slaughter the Dursleys in their home, and when the Dark Lord laughed over their mutilated corpses, he wasn't alone in it. The act of killing the last of his blood relatives had probably been meant to spur Harry into making a rash move out of revenge, but it took the Boy-Who-Lived all he had not to send the Dark Lord a thank-you card for the best birthday gift he had ever been given.
He thought Voldemort might have known, anyway…
His time at Grimmauld Place was spent studying, and since he was an adult in Wizarding World standards he exercised his right to use magic by locking the annoying Order members out of his space. The Black Library turned out to be a true treasure trove of interesting spells that not even Hogwarts had. One in particular caught his eye, and he very carefully devoted it to memory.
The return trip to Hogwarts was spent all alone once again, in a locked and warded compartment. Harry decided it was best to isolate himself after almost flaying a second year Hufflepuff for grabbing his arm; he hadn't slept in over a week and was getting twitchy again…
He'd easily slipped away from the crowd, having chosen to skip the staring at the Welcoming Feast for the peace of the Room of Requirement once more. That was the night that he completed his animagus transformation. At sixty feet long with alternating emerald and Avada Kedavra green scales—magic resistant, most definitely—and a magnificent black crest, he would have been an intimidating sight to behold. Add to that his killer yellow eyes and too many fangs with their deadly toxic venom; he was the stuff of nightmares. It made him proud, that the reflection of his personality was such a magnificent thing.
Even so, his studies continued.
By mid-September Harry knew Voldemort was going to act soon; there had been no attacks since the Dursley slaughter in July. (Harry still couldn't help the creepy little smile that snuck onto his face when he thought about it.) It hadn't reassured him any that he had only been feeling anticipation coming from Voldemort's end of their connection…
It just happened that he was caught out of the Room early one Saturday and dragged down to Hogsmeade by Ron and Hermione in an attempt to rekindle their friendship…
(He wonders how many times in these past months that they blamed themselves for what happened…)
The only warning the students got before the Death Eaters arrived was Harry clutching his scar and leaning against the nearest wall in agony. The screaming started—Harry remembered feeling vaguely thankful that it was still early, so there weren't as many students out yet—and Harry retaliated, snapping off all manner of spells at the skull masked attackers. His training paid off—the sheer brutality of his spells had given them pause—and Harry cut a bloody swath through the mob of Death Eaters… At least, he had until he was struck down from behind by friendly fire.
He'd taken a violent slicing spell to the back, could feel burning agony from shoulder to hip, and heard more screams, and remembered thinking—Gods, maybe I should have included them, at least so they could aim!—before his skull felt like it would crack from the pain in his scar.
When Voldemort arrived he'd found Harry immediately, and had looked at him with a kind of interest in his odd, snakelike eyes that was so different than the hate he'd seen in the Atrium last… He'd wretched Harry to his feet—prompting Harry to curse and almost vomit between the pain and movement—and apparated them away, his Death Eaters presumably having followed.
It was at this point that his perception of time became a bit…iffy (And what was this? He felt like he was forgetting things…). Voldemort had kept watching him with that same weird interest as he snapped Harry's wand; Harry recalled the almost physical pain he'd felt watching the Dark Lord burn the holly and phoenix feather shards.
Then, after that there had been…dark and…cold…and silence. Absolute silence.
It must have been a small cell; he remembered pacing before he became too weak. At one point he remembered cursing himself for having such a large animagus form; it was completely useless here.
At the time there had been no way to tell how much time had passed in the darkness. A few times he remembered being pinned to the floor and a potion forced down his throat. By then he'd been too weak to even try to fight back physically (and his wandless magic was a special surprise just for Voldemort; he knew that much). For all Harry knew they could have been feeding him poison, but at least some of the time he recognized the taste of a nutrient potion. Just enough to keep him alive, and nothing more.
When exhaustion would finally drag him unconscious, Voldemort would send visions of his triumphs. The vicious murder of Hermione's parents was tame compared to the tortures inflicted upon Order members and Light supporters. Voldemort would often summon venomous snakes and have them bite the people, inflicting hours of agonizing pain, and sometimes curing them at the brink of death before repeating the same process. Again and again.
But things changed again, and Harry was moved. He passed out in his cell, and the next time he woke was to an even more uncomfortable situation, far, far, worse than having been tied to a gravestone and used in a ritual. His clothes had been changed to the same cheap and threadbare clothes as an Azkaban inmate, but he was not in Azkaban… Harry woke to find himself shackled to the floor beside the Dark Lord's throne.
Outside the dark hole of a cell they'd kept him in it became easier to track the passage of time. Voldemort called a Meeting every third day: Every third day Harry sat passively at the Dark Lord's feet as the Death Eaters jeered and taunted him over the steady fall of the Light. They'd seemed to find it funny that Voldemort allowed the snake Nagini to wrap herself around the "Chosen One". They didn't find it so finny when one day Harry hissed at her to attack Wormtail an, so used to obeying one Parselmouth, she attacked the man without hesitation. The vicious smile Harry had worn as his parent's traitor screamed in agony hadn't been missed by anyone.
(In hindsight, he realized that it was stupid of him to act so rashly, and it wasn't because Voldemort tortured him over Wormtail's death. The man did die. No, in some ways this was worse than a painful torture, the fascination the Dark Lord fostered for him. The man-snake-creature would hiss little things at him—though Harry never answered, never spoke—and would constantly touch him. Face, hands, hair, back: As starved for touch Harry was, he still would have preferred the Cruciatus Curse over Voldemort's constant attention…)
At some point, he learned that his time spent in the dark cell had been six months. Huh.
Harry blinked slowly as his consciousness returned to the fore of his mind; it was the only sign to any observer that he was aware of his surroundings again. He listened with half an ear as Voldemort organized his ranks for the day's takeover of the Ministry. Harry wasn't surprised that the creature was finally making his move to take over the world: If the things he saw in his visions were anything to go by the Wizarding World was out of hope. Their Savior had been gone eight months, now.
Harry made a small noise of pain as he was pulled up off the cold stone floor; his cramped and severely weakened limbs protested him standing, and he fell back against the too-tall form of Lord Voldemort. There were noises of outrage from the Death Eaters, but Harry felt the Dark Lord laugh to himself and wrap one of his arms around Harry, holding him up and tight to his chest.
Harry let his mind retreat so that it was easier to ignore Voldemort's hold, staring blankly ahead at the mass of skull-masked figures as they let out a cheer, presumably at the Dark Lord's rallying speech. The sudden squeezing sensation of apparition forcefully pulled his mind into coherence in time to notice a multitude of cracks! as the Death Eaters arrived in the Atrium.
(Ah, Interim Minister Malfoy must have lowered the wards…)
The smooth, dark wood of the floor was warmer on his bare feet than the stone of Voldemort's throne room had been. Interestingly enough, the room was still and quiet; the fireplaces along the walls weren't burning. The expected screaming at the appearance of the Dark Lord suddenly appearing in their midst wasn't there…
Harry felt Voldemort hold him more possessively as what appeared to be all of Dumbledore's Order—and some of Harry's DA members, if he saw correctly—assembled between them and deeper entrance to the Ministry. Harry watched them blandly; most of them looked shocked to see him. They thought he had been killed long ago…Harry blamed them for not trying to rescue him. That's what they get for assuming things…Even if he had been missing eight months.
They stared at him for the longest time, until shock turned into disgust as Voldemort ran his spindly fingers through Harry's lank hair; he felt the creature's amusement through their connection. He didn't bother trying to pull away. He knew he was too weak to stand alone, anyway.
Harry found Dumbledore's blue eyes—for once not twinkling—and simply blinked tiredly at the old man. Why was he here? Didn't the Headmaster recognize the hopelessness of the battle he was about to fight? Harry sighed, slumping weakly in the possessive hold he was trapped in, and the hollow sound seemed to echo in the eerie silence.
Voldemort must have taken that as a cue to start talking; Harry didn't bother listening, instead focusing all of his energy into staying upright. At some point a pale, long-fingered hand grasped his chin and moved his head, as if Harry himself were looking around; Harry supposed Voldemort was gloating over his "defeat" of the Boy-Who-Lived.
He must have finally struck a nerve somewhere, for one moment all was still and the next there were spells flying everywhere. No one was attacking Voldemort, though, not even Dumbledore. Not head on. The Dark Lord was using Harry as a shield (the cunning bastard; no one on the Light side would attack their Savior…).
The turning point in the battle came by the way of Severus Snape, and Harry had to admire the man for being able to do all the things he did as a spy and still stay loyal to Albus Dumbledore. The Potion's Master attacked Voldemort from behind his own lines—he distracted the Dark Lord, causing him to release Harry.
Harry saw the best opportunity he would ever get, and carefully recalled the incantation for the spell he had found in the Black Library. He was sure that had the Ministry know about it, they would have deemed it punishable by the Dementor's Kiss. That was the thing though; Harry was sure that they didn't know, that no one else knew of the spell…how he was so sure of that he couldn't be sure, but he trusted the feeling. Maybe because after he'd memorized the incantation the book had disappeared from his hands, as if it had never been there at all. It was for the best.
The spell, if preformed correctly, was supposed to rip the magic out of the target's very soul and adding it to the caster's own. If done incorrectly, however, it would kill both the caster and the target. The way Harry saw it this was the perfect spell for the situation, whichever way it ended.
As he whispered the complicated incantation under his breath, Harry felt his magic gathering in his hands. Just as Voldemort was turning back to him, having dispatched Snape, Harry struck out and grabbed either side of the pale face in his charged hands; he watched intently as the red eyes shifted from showing surprise to blinding agony. The Dark Lord screamed, high and inhuman. The room went suddenly still and silent, poised and waiting.
Harry's eyes stayed locked onto the agonized, serpentine eyes of the Dark Lord, his fingers digging into the creature's face, eyen as he felt a rush of power flow into him and his eyes blurred momentarily from a terrible ripping sensation in his chest.
The Dark Lord Voldemort fell dead at his feet, and he staggered and fell not a moment later between physical exhaustion and the sensation of the older, twisted magic meshing with his own.
Someone shouted his name—it might have been Hermione—and suddenly there was chaos again; spellfire and fleeing bodies blacked him off from everyone. He was too weakened to move from where he fell, next to the—was it dissolving?—corpse of the former Dark Lord. His eyelids felt weighted down; he couldn't open his eyes, even to see whose cruel, bony hands had grabbed his stick-thin arms and started to manually haul him across the Atrium floor.
The noise quieted suddenly, and Harry was sure they were now heading deeper into the Ministry. With the sudden surge of vertigo he realized that the person had levitated him; they kept moving, the person smashing him violently against the walls, even as they continued on towards some destination. His head smashed hard against a wall—
Harry regained consciousness as he was dropped onto what felt like cold, shattered flagstones. He felt a trickle of blood make its way down his face, but his entire body hurt and such a small wound was hard to pinpoint by pain alone…
Then Harry heard whispering, and it wasn't from the person who had brought him here; no, he could hear them pacing some feet away, their footsteps echoing loudly. No, he hadn't heard whispering like this since..!
Harry managed to open his eyes long enough to confirm that—yes—he was in the Department of Mysteries again, in the Death Chamber, and was lying only a couple feet from the Veil. The very same Veil his godfather was thrown into almost exactly two years ago, by his cousin Bellatrix LeStrange.
The loud clicks of high-heeled shoes on flagstones came close to his head, and—speak of the devil—Bellatrix LeStrange started screeching at him. How she would get rid of him the same way she got rid of her pathetic cousin; shameful, muggle-loving, blood-traitor that he was. But Harry didn't care. He'd never intended to live after the "Final Battle" anyway; he'd expected to die. He did think, though, that gloating monologues must be a trait one acquires when they "go dark" (or go insane—interchangeable, really…). He's vaguely thankful that he'll apparently die before he can get to that point.
The feeling of vertigo came again, and then suddenly it felt like he was being slowly immersed in something icy-cold and viscous. The whispers grew in volume until it felt like someone was screaming in his ears; he forced his eyes open and saw, through the translucent material of the Veil, Bellatrix (just as crazy looking as ever) right in front of him.
Harry flung out a hand and snarled the Killing Curse, every bit of hate he could muster going into the spell, just as a group of Order members—Dumbledore at the lead—ran into the Chamber. Bellatrix fell to the ground, dead, from the flash of sickly green light.
The world fell around him, and in a far corner of his mind Harry realized that the Veil was being destroyed.