Paved with good intentions

"Come out, come out, little Harry! What did you come after me for, then? I thought you were here to avenge my dear cousin!" Bellatrix Lestrange's voice still rang in Harry's ears.

"I am!" He remembered screaming at her.

"Aaaaaah...did you love him, little baby Potter?"

What had happened next had stunned even Harry himself. Something inside him caught fire at her taunts. His head was buzzing, everything faded out slightly and tilted oddly to the right. He wanted her to suffer, as he was. Because his heart was set to burst with grief and regret. And he knew it was just the beginning. He was still in shock. He knew the worst would hit him later, when he was alone. And he hated her for it. Barely seeing what he was doing, he raised his wand to her. She didn't even raise hers in return.

She just laughed. She was underestimating him.

"Crucio!" his voice was hoarse, but at moment he couldn't seem to remember why.

Bellatrix hit the ground screaming, just as Harry hoped she would. He could feel his grin widening, adrenalin pumping through his veins furiously. Something in the pit of his stomach exploded forth gleefully. He'd never felt so alive as he did right then. She was screaming and writhing under his wand, and he loved her agony. This was the beginning of his revenge, and he couldn't wait to feel the rest of them suffer under his wand.

OoOoO

Harry sat in his dingy room at the Dursley's, sighing as he watched the window, barely seeing beyond it. He'd just woken up, and wasn't looking forward to another day at the Dursley's.

"Sometimes I wonder why I even get up anymore." He sighed under his breath. Hedwig hooted at him softly from her cage.

Ever since he'd had his confrontation with Bellatrix, he'd felt strange. Itchy on the inside almost. That was the only way he could think to describe it.

Hogwarts was set to begin the next school year in two weeks, and he was supposed to be picked up tonight by some members of the Order to go to the burrow. He was hoping the itch would stop when he was back with his friends. Or at least, once he returned to Hogwarts.

It was starting to put him on edge. Though it did feel like he was missing something vital, it didn't feel like it was Sirius, or his friends, that he was missing.

If he were perfectly blunt, he hadn't really felt much grief at all for Sirius' death. And it worried him no end. The only conclusion he could come to has that the Death Eaters had done something to him in the Department of Mysteries. For the second time that morning, his mind drifted back to when he cast the Crucio curse on Bellatrix. An odd shiver ran up his spine at the thought.

There was definitely something wrong with him, he decided.

No one in their right mind should get a pleasant shiver while thinking about torture. He sighed again and got up. He needed to figure this out, and fast.

When he got downstairs, he headed straight out the front door, grateful that no one seemed to notice him leaving. He would deal with the consequences later. Right then, though, he needed to be anywhere else. He ended up behind some buildings in an alley. Confident no one would find him there, he slid down the wall and let out a breath he didn't realize he'd been holding.

He couldn't bear the thought of telling anyone about what he'd been feeling lately, let alone his friends. He resolved to work it out himself. No one else needed to worry about him as well as the coming war.

And it was coming now. No if or buts. The minister had seen Voldemort with his own eyes. There was no denying it now. Of course, no one had apologized about treating him like a leper, Harry mused bitterly. All he did was warn them, and he had been treated like a mental patient, at best.

Harry found himself growling in anger and had to force it back down. He'd never growled in his life. Something needed to be done, because the itch was only getting stronger. And Harry was only getting angrier. After finally getting a grip, he reentered the house.

Later that night, after only being sent to his room without supper, Harry waited on his bed, musing his lack of punishment. The best he could come up with was that he was leaving tonight, and they couldn't be bothered sparing the energy.

As soon as he heard the Dursley's turn in for the night, Harry began to panic.

As far as he knew, Moody, Lupin, and Tonks were taking him back to the burrow. What if Moody somehow sensed his quickly growing anger? He heard a knock on the door and his uncle yelling about inconsiderate freaks.

He was quick to grab his trunk and Hedwig and race down the stairs. Fear be damned, he wanted out. And he wanted to see his friends. He was still holding onto the hope that the itch would fade away with good company and distraction.

A short time later they'd apparated just outside of the Burrow's wards. "You feeling alright Harry?" Tonks asked. She looked sympathetic.

To Harry's shame, it took him a few seconds to realize why.

"I think I'll be ok," Was his response.

Internally, he was reeling that he had forgotten all about Sirius' death. Who forgets something like that? He had to be more careful. He didn't want to let on that there was something eating away at his insides.

Inside the burrow, everyone was solemn. Hermione hugged Harry, as did Ginny, and even Ron. As Harry was passed around the room for hugs and more condolences, his hope that the itch would leave upon his arrival fizzled out. It was still there. Furious and unreachable as ever.

As he lay in bed, chatting quietly to Ron, he felt the itch begin to noticeably intensify. He felt his throat begin to close and his whole body start to shake with the force of it. Ron continued to speak, oblivious.

Harry's skin was on fire. The sensation was all at once pleasurable and painful. He had one hand clasped over his mouth and the other grasping his hair as if he was holding on for dear life. He then felt what he could only describe as an explosion in his solar plexus. It stopped, just as Harry thought he could take no more without shouting out.

By the end of it, Ron was still talking. To Harry, it felt as if it had lasted hours.

The next morning, it was easy to play it down. 'It wasn't as intense as I remember,' he thought to himself.

'And in no way, did it feel good.'He mentally added.

As Harry sat at the breakfast table, he found himself almost grateful for Sirius' death. If not for that, then they would have to pin his odd, silent behavior on something else.

For the second time in two days, The Boy Who Lived felt utterly ashamed of himself.

Just as the thought crossed his mind, owls swooped in all over the kitchen. Their Hogwarts letters had arrived. It was quietly decided that they would leave for Diagon Alley after breakfast.

When they arrived Harry felt a burning desire to break off from his friends and explore Knockturn Alley.

It was a decidedly bad idea, but it was there, and driving the itch crazy. And by proxy, him.

He headed to Gringotts, deciding to keep at least Ron at his side at all times, lest he be tempted to wander off somewhere he wasn't supposed to go.

Harry followed Ron aimlessly around the alley. Though he knew he should be getting his school things, he didn't trust himself and Ron didn't seem in any hurry. They ended up in Magical Menageries, as Ron had decided, on a whim that he was ready for a new pet. After Scabbers, Harry thought that no one should ever be ready for a new pet. But he didn't judge.

Harry quickly got bored and ended up staring into a tarantula tank.

"It's in you," Harry spun at the familiar sound of a snake talking.

He spun to find the small snake in a tank under a sign that read;

'Caution, highly venomous.'

"Huh? What's in me?"He whispered back.

"Get me out of here, and I'll tell you what I know." It hissed back.

Harry then decided that the cage was rather small. No wonder it wanted out. But he could hardly have a snake as a pet. They were decidedly dark animals. Not something that he should have. But all the same, it could know something about the growing itch in his gut. And it was cruel to leave it in such a cramped cage. Right?

"Fine."He told it. He quickly called over an assistant.

"I'll take this," He said hurriedly, pulling out the required money, and picking up some owl treats as an afterthought.

"Of course, sir. I'll get the handling gloves." She made to leave but Harry stopped her.

"Its fine," he told her, sticking his hand in the tank. The assistant looked horrified.

"Sir! That's a very dangerous snake!" He shushed her.

"Don't make yourself known, Snake."

He hissed, and the snake slithered up his wrist, becoming some sort of morbid bracelet. The assistant blanched. She didn't comment though.

As Harry neared the counter, he noticed that Ron had bought another rat, and Harry nearly scoffed at him. Harry fought down the urge with worry. He had never felt the urge to scoff at anyone, least of all Ron. Ron finished paying and upon seeing the owl treats, told Harry that he would wait outside.

Harry took advantage of his absence, asking the assistant for all the accessories he needed for the snake to be shrunken and added to his purchase. As he left, he sighed with relief. He'd managed to get the snake and everything it needed, while going completely unnoticed by Ron.

Though he was the dark haired boy's best friend, Harry couldn't deny the ginger was the dumbest person he'd ever had the pleasure of knowing. Once again, he squashed the unwelcome thought down, only to have it rise right back up again as he realized that Ron was nowhere to be seen.

His resolve to not visit Knockturn Alley only held up for three minutes without Ron to distract him. He cursed under his breath as his body led him, seemingly without assistance on his behalf, toward the infamous alley.

As soon as he set foot in the alley, he let out an appreciative sigh as the itch slowly ebbed away, replaced by a pleasurable burn, like sitting by the fire in winter. His feet no longer led him with such desperate speed, and seemed to let him have the reins back. His willpower officially shattered, he wandered down deeper into the alley, ignoring its patrons. He slipped into an obscure book store that seemed to make his insides sing. He set straight to browsing, barely registering that the titles were decidedly evil.

He quickly zoned into the books, not noticing the store owner until the last moment.

"May I be of assistance?" Harry nearly leaped out of his skin. He turned to face the old wizard.

"Oh, no thank you, just browsing." The wizard just stared at him blankly.

"Harry Potter," He said simply.

"What on earth be bringing you here? Gonna fight fire with fire?" The Wizard smirked at him then.

Harry decided it was a bad idea to have come here. He hadn't even considered being recognized, but now that he was here, he couldn't believe how stupid he was. This place was crawling with Death Eaters. He might as well of jumped from the astronomy tower, if he was that keen to end himself.

"Uh, no, erm. Well it was nice meeting you," He started to leave.

"Aw, don't be like that boy, I aint gonna sell you out, I aint on no side. I were jus' being curious."

Harry slowly turned back to face the man. The itch had started in his belly again at the thought of leaving with nothing.

"I, I don't really know sir." Harry answered truthfully. The man nodded as if it were a perfectly acceptable answer.

"Well by all means, lad. Look around. Let me know when you found somthin'." He said it confidently, as if he knew Harry would buy something.

After a short time, Harry's attention was caught by a book in a glass case, with the word 'Parselmagic' on it. When Harry had first glimpsed it, it was little more than scribble. Then all of the sudden, Harry could read it. Harry knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was the book he was leaving with.

"Excuse me," he called to the man, who seemed to be taking inventory behind the counter.

"Yea, boy? Found somthin' you fancy?" He asked, heading toward his customer.

"Yeah, this." Harry said gesturing to the cabinet. The man whistled under his breath.

"That be a rare book, boy. Very costly. Not even in English, that one." He looked at Harry as if he weren't all there.

"Oh, I know, sir. I have enough money, if that's what you're asking." Harry told him.

"Well, if you don't mind at all, I be wantin' to see yer money." Harry sighed and pulled his money bag out of his robe pocket. He opened it to let the man glimpse his money and then quickly shoved it back where it came from.

"If that's all?" Harry was getting impatient. His friends would be missing him by now, surely. And he wanted that book, oh so badly.

"Yes my lad, that be plenty enough." He grinned toothily.

After finally getting out of the store and back into Diagon Alley, the itch didn't return. Harry felt himself hoping that it would never come back, and that that would be the last trip he would take down Knockturn. A small part of him knew it wouldn't be, if he didn't stop whatever was happening to him.

He quickly withdrew more money from Gringotts, feeling oddly dirty after going to the alley. He felt as if someone might smell it on him.

He headed toward Diagon's bookstore, relived to be in a place he was allowed to be, and feeling strangely exhilarated for getting away with it. He quickly purchased his books, looking around for Hermione, hoping she and Ginny were headed this way. He needed a level head. A distraction. He really needed to stop doing things that he knew was wrong.

He considered telling Hermione. If anyone could figure out what was happening, it was her. He then dismissed the idea quickly. So far, his shame was still winning over his desire to find a quick solution. And besides, why did he always have to rely on Hermione to solve all his problems? He could figure it out for himself, for once.

He felt it was a flimsy excuse, but it was still an excuse. And until it wasn't, this was his problem, and his problem alone.

He headed to get his robes, after waiting a few minutes for Hermione and Ginny. They didn't show and he decided to just leave, waiting be damned.

He browsed the clothes store, getting half lost among the many shelves. He didn't realize he had a visitor until a voice made him jump.

"Thinking about putting a bit of effort into your clothing this year, Potter? That would be a first." That was the second time that someone had snuck up on him that day. He really needed to pay more attention to his surroundings.

"Take off, Malfoy." Harry said disinterestedly.

"Why don't you grow a pair and make me, Potter?" Harry was still browsing robes. He sighed.

"Seriously, get a life." He heard Malfoy scoff behind him.

"My life is much better than yours, Potter. You'll do well to know it." Harry was beginning to get annoyed.

"Can you stop saying my name? Anyone would think you have a crush." Harry remarked.

The blonde spluttered.

"You watch your back, Potter!" He all but yelped, before disappearing.

The fact that he said it again wasn't lost on Harry. He laughed to himself. This year was going to be interesting, for sure.

After finally finding Ron, they settled into Fortescue's, where they were supposed to meet Hermione and Ginny in half an hour.

While picking his flavor Harry found himself oddly wanting blood flavor. He almost had to smack himself to stop looking. He got chocolate instead.

What the hell was wrong with him? Who ate blood flavored ice cream? That was disgusting. And very unlike him, to say the least.

They sat outside the store, eating their ice-cream and watching the people. Harry spotted Hermione and Ginny coming toward them.

Internally, Harry was so very glad the day was nearly over. He was so ready to sleep. Resisting himself earlier seemed to take a lot out of him.

"So where did you take off to before? I looked everywhere for you." Ron finally asked.

"I could ask the same thing, Ron." Harry said. It came out harsher than he wanted it to, but he couldn't help blaming his friend for his lapse. If Ron hadn't left, he wouldn't have gone down that alley. He knew it wasn't logical, but the blame needed to fall somewhere, and he was sick of putting it on himself. Ron looked affronted.

"You mustn't have looked that hard. I was across from the Magical Menagerie, getting some sweets." Harry nodded, floundered.

He needed to think of a place that Ron wouldn't go, but wasn't practically illegal.

"I was at the potions ingredients store." Harry finally decided.

"We don't take potions this year, mate." Ron looked bewildered. Thankfully, Hermione and Ginny reached them then. They dropped the conversation.

Back at the burrow, Ron challenged Harry to a game of wizard's chess. Harry had accepted begrudgingly, wanting nothing but to go to sleep, but not wanting to bring attention to how oddly exhausted he was.

Sitting across from Ron as he set up the board, Harry let his mind wander off. For the third time in just two days it went back to torturing Bellatrix. Again it sent a shiver down his spine. It was getting more and more pleasant to think about.

Again, he got to wondering what was going on. Maybe when he was casting Crucio, another Death Eater threw a curse at him? He definitely remembered feeling very strange. It was a possibility. Hell, at the moment, it was the only possibility.

Harry tried to force himself to remember further than the curse and Bellatrix's screams. It was proving difficult. He vaguely remembered that Dumbledore had been there, at the end. Harry had fainted then. He tried to remember the sensation that he felt when he cast the curse, but everything was so fuzzy.

All he knew, was that it had felt better than anything else he had ever felt. That in itself was worrying. He resolved that when he got to Hogwarts, he would raid the library for any type of curse that would cause a normal wizard to suddenly crave the darker side of magic. It sounded to him like the perfect weapon really.

Turn the Chosen One to dark magic? That would be one way to win the war.

"Harry?" He jerked his head up and saw Ron, who looked a little bewildered.

"Yeah?" Harry was suddenly worried he had started chanting in parseltongue or something.

"You won." Harry had never won a game of chess, especially while not even paying attention.

No wonder Ron was shocked. Harry didn't even remember saying checkmate.

"Wow, that's never happened before." Harry stated the obvious.

"Yeah," Ron seemed a little deflated, and Harry couldn't help but feel angry at him for it. All the years he'd been friends with Ron, he'd always won at chess. And Harry had always lost graciously while Ron whooped around the room like some sort of champion. Harry had merely smiled and told him 'congratulations.' So now, when Harry had won his first game of chess ever, Ron sat there sulking. It made him angry. Like so much did these days.

"Don't be too happy for me, Ron." Harry all but snarled.

"Whatever, mate. Probably fluked it. We all know I'm the best at chess." Harry clamped his nails into his leg so hard he swore he drew blood. He needed to calm down. If he stood up and cursed his best mate, the others were sure to know that there was something up with Harry. They would probably pin it on Sirius' death, but he didn't need the unwanted attention.

"Sorry, Ron." He gritted out. He had the distinct impression that he wasn't the one who should be apologizing. But there it was.

"It's alright mate." Harry heard the bite under his tone, and once again, had to restrain himself.

He ended up in Ron's room, having had to leave. He was dangerously close to maiming his best mate.

His mind seemed to cringe at the title 'best mate,' and Harry sighed. He needed to fix himself.

With that thought in mind, he addressed the snake still on his wrist.

"You can come out now."Harry hissed as quietly as he could.

"Massster."The snake seemed to smile. Harry wanted to cut right to the chase.

"You said something was in me."The snake nodded.

"What is it?"He prompted.

"The Darknessss."the snake hissed back, almost reverently. And you had to be worried when a snake said something reverently.

"How do I get rid of it?"The snake seemed offended.

"Why would you want to do that?"The snake's tone was appalled.

"Because, I'm supposed to save the world."He didn't really want to have this conversation with a snake.

"The Darknesssss could be a great help to you,"

He was suddenly reminded of Adam and Eve, and how Eve was convinced by the snake to eat the forbidden fruit. And Harry wasn't going to fall for it. He was going to tell the snake that he was never going to give in to the Darkness.

Instead, he said;

"How?"The snake seemed like it had won the lottery.

"With the Darknessss comesss a great capacity for learning. If you are willing, you can pick up any magical art with eassse."Now that did sound handy. The itch that was slowly returning in his gut seemed to squirm with anticipation.

"But you need to keep it fed, of courssse."the snake added.

"Of course,"Harry said absently. Then, he realized exactly what had been said.

"What? Fed? Fed what?"The itch squirmed, and he felt as if he had entered some contract just by saying 'of course,' but that was nonsense, right?

"Sssimply by performing a little dark ssspell every now and then. Not that big a problem, I sssuspect."Harry frowned. He was torn. If the snake was right, then he could learn as much as he could, as fast as he could, and they would have a fighting chance in this war. But he would have to perform dark magic. He decided in an instant that it was worth it. A few dark spells that would never hit anyone for the sake of the wizarding world? He would be selfish to refuse.

"That sounds fair,"He stated evenly, though his heart was racing a mile a minute.

As soon as the words crossed his lips, the itch exploded into a full blown fire, as if rejoicing. Harry gasped and doubled over. He really wished that it would stop doing that at random times, it was frustrating. And a little worrying.

"Are you well, Massster?"The snake didn't seem that worried, though.

"First thing's first, snake. Stop calling me master, its weird. Second, why does that keep happening?"He asked.

"I have a theory, Massster."It said, seemingly ignoring his request.

"I believe the Darknesss isss trying to communicate with you."Harry reeled. Communicate? It could do that?

"But I think you are ressissting."Harry was going to keep on resisting. There was no way he was going to talk to this Darkness thing, he was going to use it, then get rid of it.

"It is likely to keep happening, massster."Harry told the snake to hide in a small nook in the wall in Ron's room. He would feed it when necessary, and collect it when he left to go to Hogwarts.

To be fully honest, he really wanted to leave it there. Though leaving a highly venomous snake behind at the burrow was a good way to get them killed. He would have to take it. Because for some reason, he couldn't kill it.

He didn't even know what type of snake it was, really. Just that it was poisonous. It might even come in handy. Though it seemed to have an agenda. But Harry had always been paranoid.

The next two weeks were as uneventful as Harry could possibly make them. He had only nearly lost it once more since the chess incident. He'd gotten angry at Ginny, strangely. She kept pushing Harry to talk about Sirius' death. It had made Harry mad, because as of yet, he had hardly felt anything. It wasn't really Ginny's fault. He was more upset with himself.

He had one other conversation with the snake, and he learned it was a Fertura snake, and that their venom, to date, had no antivenom or cure. Once bitten, you could be in your death throes for up to a week, feeling nothing but white hot agony and slowly losing your mind.

If he had known that when he got the damn thing, he would have thrown it straight back in the tank, information be damned. Though it was too late now.

OoOoO

The morning they were to leave for Hogwarts, Harry was laying on the floor of Ron's room, holding his middle and rocking side to side.

"Dammit," he hissed under his breath. The strange pleasure-pain was back again. It had happened more and more frequently in the last two weeks, and Harry was willing to bet that it was 'hungry'. He just couldn't risk casting a dark spell here. There were three aurors in the house as it was. One of them was Moody. And he didn't know the extent of his ability to sense dark magic.

Harry was frankly surprised that he hadn't picked anything up so far. Harry was glad for it. He really didn't want to talk about his growing Darkness. Or his newly forming plan. And how he wished it would work out. This was his secret weapon. It was volatile, sure. But it was potentially the decider of this war.

When the feeling passed, Harry stumbled to his feet. Ron walked in then, and Harry thanked his luck that it didn't happen while he was writhing on the floor.

"You alright, mate? You look a bit flustered." Harry realized he was panting a little.

"Yeah, yeah. I'm good. Just a bit tired." Ron frowned but didn't comment.

"You all packed? We're leaving for the station in a half hour." Harry was grateful that Ron hadn't pressed him further. His excuse was flimsy at best. He found himself feeling quite fond of the red head just then.

"Oh, yeah. I didn't realize we were leaving so soon. But I'm all packed." Harry found it hard to keep a straight face when Ron had said they had half an hour left. When Harry had left everyone to tide over the Darkness, they had an hour and a half left.

Harry had been in pleasurable agony for an hour. That was new. Harry almost couldn't be bothered being worried any more.

When Ron left, Harry let the little snake crawl out of its space and onto his wrist. He'd be lying if he said that he didn't feel a little bit safer with a deadly snake at his disposal.

But he would never admit it out loud.

When he got to the station with the Weasleys and Hermione, he felt his hope that the Darkness would fade when he got to Hogwarts again. But he knew better now. It wasn't just a feeling, it was another entity, growing in him. The thought made him sick. Though the itch in his gut responded to the thought with what felt to Harry like a smile.

Again, he was worried. It was now showing primitive emotion. And in Harry's opinion, any advancement was a bad one when it came to the Darkness.

As soon as Harry boarded the train, he felt the familiar burning in his gut intensify. Harry barely contained his shock. It had barely been a half hour.

He spouted something vague to his friends and got away as quickly as he could. He closed himself in an empty compartment and cast silencing and locking charms. He promptly fell to his knees and yelped.

This time around, it felt stronger. And if he focused hard enough, he could fell its hunger. He'd never felt what it felt before. It was more pain than pleasure this time, and he got the impression he was being punished.

"You're real hungry, huh?" Harry rasped out.

'Yes' Harry was by no means expecting a response.

This was bad. Very very bad. He was supposed to keep it contained.

"I'll do it. I'll do it now, just stop." Harry was at the end of his tether. There was nothing nice about this episode. It was only getting worse, and he was only about ten minutes into it.

If the last bout was anything to go by, he would be in agony for a while.

The pain quickly stopped then and Harry was grateful for it. Even though he now had to cast a dark spell. He quickly realized that the only dark spells he knew were Unforgivables. And he was sure the train would have an alarm for that type of thing.

"Any requests? I'm not exactly a hardened criminal." Harry's voice was gravelly.

'Liquida tenebris… No…Wand.' It's voice was small and weak. And Harry didn't want it to get any stronger. He had to stop it getting through. But now wasn't the time.

"Don't use my wand?" He repeated.

'No…Can trace…Don't.' From what Harry could gather, it meant the Ministry could trace what his wand did. But he wasn't going to ask. It didn't need to talk any more than necessary, lest it grow stronger.

Harry raised his hand warily and braced himself. He had no idea what the spell did, but he guessed it wasn't going to spawn rainbows. On top of that, Harry had never done wandless magic before. But if his snake was right, he was supposed to pick up magic like a sponge now.

Harry had to admit, not needing a wand would come in very handy. Just that one thing almost made it all worth it. He took a deep breath and whispered the incantation.

"Liquida tenebris." What looked like tar poured from his palm, then seemed to crawl up his leg then continuing up his body, eventually covering half his face.

He was officially freaking out, at this point. But the Darkness wouldn't intentionally hurt its host, right? And so far, it just felt warm. And kind of comforting. It seemed to be seeping into him as fast as it was coming out. The warmth grew until he was mewling with pleasure. It was like getting a massage in front of a fire while laying on silk. Only better. Before Harry knew it, it stopped.

"Neh?" He asked intelligently.

'That is enough. Thank you.' It wasn't lost on Harry that it sounded stronger now. And that he had just cast another dark spell and enjoyed it.

He couldn't quite bring himself to care.