A/N: No, you're not hallucinating, The Ultimate Betrayal is back and better than ever, if I do say so myself. :) Read, enjoy, and review…I'm already working on chapter 2.
Chapter One: Of Secrets and Lies
THE- BOY- WHO- LIVED TO THE- MAN- WHO- KILLED TO THE NEXT DARK LORD? By Rita Skeeter
This reporter has received several statements from some of Harry Potter's closest friends that our beloved hero has indeed been delving into the very dark arts he saved us from. When I interviewed her, Hermione Weasley nee Granger had this to say:
"Well as you know Harry has been my brother in every way but blood since our first year at Hogwarts together. He has changed so much since that time. Harry left his beloved fiancée (Ginny Weasley) and completely cut off all contact with those close to him for weeks. He has been holding himself in the Black Family Home, delving deep into the darkest of magic. Harry's become frightening and it is a very real possibility that he's already started recruiting followers. I just wanted to warn everybody that our beloved hero is not who he used to be, he's extremely dangerous…"
Could we have been duped? Could Harry Potter have defeated You-Know-Who not to save us, but to take his place?
Harry Potter balled up the Daily Prophet and threw it in the fire before grabbing his firewhiskey and plopping unceremoniously down on the couch. He hadn't left the house in weeks; people feared him now. Granger and Weasley had been telling everyone, via the Daily Prophet, that he was becoming the next dark lord.
It made Harry chuckle darkly whenever he thought about it; they were so close and yet so far away from the truth. He had been reading all the tomes in the Black Family library, to fill the void that had plagued him since he had fought Voldemort. But he hadn't been plotting or out recruiting followers, just the opposite; he hadn't spoken to another human being in weeks. Since the Prophet had started printing stories about him turning dark not one person would look at him. Old supporters of Voldemort would just as soon kill him before they uttered a single syllable towards him and everyone else was terrified of him. Of course who wouldn't be terrified of the defeater of the worst dark lord in centuries going dark.
Harry took another drink, continuing his nightly ritual of getting so inebriated that his thoughts would become incoherent. He didn't want to think about the hatred, the loneliness, how his friends ditched him…again…for breaking up with Ginny.
Ginny had wanted to attend all the fancy balls and relish in all of his fame. She wanted to have pictures in the Daily Prophet and bask in the limelight that she had never had before. Ginny was just like Ron, wanting nothing but Harry's fame. He on the other hand wanted to hide from the world. Harry had never been so depressed, so empty. It was as though he were just a shell of himself. In a world full of people he felt more alone than he ever had, even before he discovered the world of magic…and that was saying something.
None of who he had grown close to had understood. He thought at first Hermione had, her eyes had taken on that knowing glint that he had seen many times over the years, but she hadn't. As frustrating as it was he had tried hard not to hate them for it because he hadn't understood it either. Circe, he still didn't understand it completely.
Harry missed Voldemort. In some strange, twisted way he missed having Voldemort's soul inside him. Those annual murder attempts had been so full of magic, so thick and heady with power that it made his body catch fire, his mind go hazy, and his soul sing.
Back then he had been so caught up in the moment, in trying to stay alive that he hadn't thought much about those moments… now that he had mastered Occlumency he could watch those nights over and over, feeling the intense passion as if it were really happening. But reviewing those nights left him filled with such need, such longing, that he was inconsolable for weeks. It was best if he shoved them away, he tried to bury them in the back in his mind…yet the loneliness would get too much and he would cave in, knowing full well how devastated he would be afterwards. It was a vicious cycle he was powerless to stop.
Life had no purpose now. What had once been thrilling and awe-inspiring was now dull and colorless. What had once brought him happiness now only brought back memories of happier times. Now he sat in the Black library, devouring some of the foulest books he'd ever seen whilst basking in the lingering magic that vaguely reminded him of Voldemort's. It was wrong, and he knew it. He should not long for the man who had wreaked havoc on the world, who killed thousands, who had tried to kill him on multiple occasions. Harry definitely should not want the piece of soul back, should not be desperate for it when he knew that in order for him to have it Voldemort would be alive and immortal. But even if he had been taught to loathe the man, he couldn't care.
In fact, the longer time went on the less he cared. The loneliness became more and more crippling each day, in turn Harry would spend more time secluded in the back of the library trying desperately to absorb the minimal magic in the fowl books. And the longer he spent, curled up with his eyes flying across ancient, yellowed pages, the more he started to realize he had been fooled.
It had started with history books, learning of how the Statue of Secrecy had come about. Harry hadn't realized just how many muggles knew of magic or just what the wizards gave up to keep peace. Behind the excuses of protection and ease for wizards were contracts with muggles from centuries back banning at least ten different types of magic including: Blood magic, elemental magic, necromancy, true illusions, and instrumental magic. All because the muggles had been too frightened to even live knowing somewhere out there someone could do such things.
Then Harry had learned of the Elven wars and how the Nomaic Elves had betrayed their own for humans. He was fascinated by the stories of Griblanc Elves and their bluish tinted, white skin and imposing, seven foot tall statures. Grim Elves were most definitely the most entrancing, with their short statures, ebony hair and eyes, and impossibly wicked magic. While all elves, Harry learned, were gifted in branches of magic such as divination, weaponry, and runes, the Grim Elves were a clan so different from the others that he wasn't sure why they were even called elves. They delved deep into necromancy and blood magic, preferring to control their target via their blood rather than wield a mighty spear or bow. Grim Elves had been the ones to curse the Nomaic Elves to their current status of house elves.
And finally, shoved between giant tomes and so battered the front cover was torn off and gone, was a small book that held an air of superiority; as if it held knowledge that was even more shocking than the others…and it did. Harry was dumbfounded by book that turned out to be a journal by Araetheus Ignatius Black (1790-1894.) This man claimed to be an illusionist of great skill and wrote all about his life in the tiny journal. Harry was sucked in to a world of magic's most elite families and Britain's political structure. He learned of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, of old political maneuvers such as flooding and roundabouts.
But what had truly been the most shocking was the history he learned behind a word he had never used. Mudblood. It was not a word used often, hardly at all in fact, since the downfall of Voldemort. A word he frowned on until he read of how the increase of squibs directly correlated to the increase of muggleborns. With the current laws they had come in already firm in their muggle views and intolerances. They had come in and over time, changed a world that used to cherish history and tradition more than anything, to fit them. It was horrifying.
And Harry had fought for this to continue.
It made him shudder, it made him sick. Whenever he was reminded of what exactly he had fought for he would cringe and grab the bottle, trying to drown out the mortification and disgust that ate at him like flesh eating slugs.
However, as much as he believed in what the "dark" side had fought for, he found himself unable to truly care. Harry had nothing left to get worked up. The only thing that truly mattered to him was that Voldemort was gone. He had fought so hard to destroy him and now he would give anything to be back in the man's presence one last time. To be a horcrux once again.
He'd grown up with that piece of soul and not realized the comfort that it brought him. You truly don't know what you have until it's gone.
With a heavy sigh and more tears welling up Harry looked around the room. Compared to other manors Grimmauld Place was tiny; with only six bedrooms, four bathrooms, a basement, kitchen, library, parlor, tea room, study, and a dining room, but it was enormous to him and just served to remind Harry how alone he was. No one ever came over, no one asked him to go out…no, Harry had only a demented house elf and a glaring portrait for company.
He had to get out, at least under his invisibility cloak. Harry knew his thoughts would soon turn suicidal and…well he couldn't come up with a single reason why he shouldn't just end it. Instead though, Harry grabbed his invisibility cloak and stumbled his way outside the wards. Apparating drunk was always a risk, but Harry secretly hoped that he wouldn't survive. With his luck though he arrived at the small abandoned alley behind Weasley's Wizarding Weezes…sometimes being the Boy-Who-Wouldn't-Die really sucked.
Stepping out of the alley Harry glanced up at the flamboyant sign and felt yet more tears stinging his eyes. He wasn't allowed there now, even if he was the one who made it all possible. After dumping Ginny all the Weasley's had turned their backs on him…including George. He would have done the same if he'd had a sister and she was dumped rather cruelly. But it still hurt, to know that those who he tried to make family had turned on him instead of helping him in his time of need.
Harry was about to turn and walk away from the place that evoked emotions he couldn't handle right now, when the door to the dark shop opened and the sound of bells chimed. An obviously drunk Hermione, Ron, and Ginny tried to make their way down the steps, just as Harry stepped out of their path. He wanted to hex them, to curse them ten ways to Sunday for how they'd abandoned him after everything they had endured together, but Ginny spoke before he could do anything.
"Honestly Hermione, how could he be like this when he doesn't even know? He's completely oblivious to what we did and he's still being a whining git. I'm a much more suitable partner than that- that monster." Her tone was one that Harry had grown familiar with over the last two years, whining and angry. It sounded as if they were finishing a conversation from earlier.
Harry's curiosity was peeked; he knew that Ginny was talking about him. What had they done? What had they hidden from him? Harry fell into step behind them and he watched Hermione giggle and push herself into Ron's side, brushing her breasts against him. What he wanted to know was what she meant. A more suitable partner than that monster? What monster?
"I don't know, Ginny. Harry's always been a tad, er, hopeless. He was so easy to manipulate, but I think that's because we were his first friends." She hiccupped and giggled some more with Ginny, who looked like she had just seen the funniest thing in the world. Harry wanted to puke, but he also craved to have Hermione under his wand. How could she say that about him? And what did she mean manipulate him?
"Remember what Dumbledore said," Hermione continued, "that soul mates, even if unaware, never get over the death of the other. He might be like this forever-" Harry's mind was having trouble processing this sudden turn in the conversation…he had a soul mate?
Harry's hands were shaking and his chest constricted. There was only one person who could even come close to filling that role…the only person who had simultaneously made his life hell and made him feel more alive than ever…
"I know of a jealousy potion you could try, Ginny. Harry would sniff out a love potion but if he's jealous of you then he'll likely fool himself into thinking it's because he loves you." Harry's wand was no more than four inches away from Granger's skull and a curse was on his lips when Ron spoke, distracting Harry for the moment.
"I can't believe we pulled it off. Even now when it's been a few years. Potter killing his own soul mate! When I was finally alone I laughed for hours! Dumbledore was a genius for pulling the whole thing off even in death. Though, I would have killed my soul mate too if they were a Dark Lord, or even a bloke. I always knew Potter was gay...I just didn't think he would still be dark if he fought against Voldy. Oh well cheers to nine happy hears without the evil bastard!"
Dumbledore, the man he had viewed as a mentor and pseudo grandfather had…and Tom was his…all the anger simultaneously quadrupled and cooled off. He was not angry, nor livid, nor murderous. He was the cold, beautiful calm before a storm; he was the eye of a hurricane that leveled whole parts of countries.
Like a veil had suddenly been removed Harry recounted his time in the wizarding world, able to recall the manipulations with crystal clarity. Sending him to the Dursley's had been to break him and keep him malleable. Sending Hagrid had been because he worshipped the ground Dumbledore walked on and would voice a hate for Slytherins. The Weasley's on the muggle side of the platform. Letting Voldemort inside the school and the stone…
'You've raised him like a pig for slaughter!'
Severus Snape's words from the pensieve rang through, breaking his rehashing. It was true; Dumbledore had raised him like a pig for slaughter. The despair hit and buried him like an avalanche. Harry's knees buckled underneath him and he collapsed on the cobblestone. One tear fell, then another, and another, and within a minute they were full out, gut-wrenching sobs. What little he had to try and keep himself glued together had melted away and he was lost, drowning in a stormy sea of despair.
"Tom…Tom…" Harry whispered as he wrapped his arms around himself in a useless attempt to keep himself from falling apart. "Don't hate me…"
He would do it. When he managed to get home he would end it. End the constant suffering that seemed to be his life. On the other side he would hunt that old man down and-
The air shifted around Harry, disrupting his thoughts. It became heavy and dense, so thick that it was difficult to breathe. The air seemed saturated with magic that was unlike any Harry had ever felt before. Slowly he pushed himself up and made it to his feet. Before him was a sight that shocked him.
The first things that caught his notice were her height and her hair. She had to be at least six foot and towered over Harry's petite 5'5. Striking crimson hair fell in perfect ringlets and ended at curvaceous hips. She was dressed in a black…was that a toga? It draped across her ample bosom and wrapped around her body tightly, spilling around painted toes that were not touching the cobblestone. When Harry's eyes travelled back up the woman her black eyes bored into his emerald ones.
"W-who are you?" This was not your average witch; Harry knew that by just looking at her. Her magic could not be human, it was too thick, too powerful, too crushing. The mere thought of it running through his body made him cringe.
The mysterious woman's head tilted and a beautiful, frightening smile played on her full lips. "I was called Arae for many years amongst the mortals."
Harry grasped his wand behind his back, confused and wary of how she used the word mortals. This action only made her smile impossibly bigger, her blindingly white teeth showing now. "Harry Potter." The woman, Arae, nodded, seemingly unaware that that name now caused most to blanche and leave. It only backed up his theory, she could not be human.
"I have a proposition for you, Harry Potter. You see you have a thirst for revenge that rivals that of the Titans and I am able to give that to you…for a price." Harry could feel his eyes go wide and his jaw drop open.
"Who are you?" Arae's smile returned at his question.
"I am a lesser known goddess of witchcraft and curses. However over time my name has been pushed aside and eventually forgotten. What few temples I had erected in my honor have been destroyed and now I have no mortals calling upon me and worshipping my name. Over the last few centuries my power has diminished to near lethal levels." If it were possible Harry's jaw would have hit the ground. He wanted to laugh and call the woman crazy, but he couldn't. He knew she was telling the truth just from being in her presence. There was nothing human about her.
"However, there are ways for me to return to strength, which is where you, my dear, come in. I have enough power left to give you the opportunity to extract the revenge you desire, to change it all and never feel the loneliness, the heart ache, the emptiness you feel ever again."
It sounded as if…Harry was frozen in shock, his mind screaming at him that there was no way. He hadn't realized Arae had moved until her whispered words were no more than an inch from his ear. "I am a goddess Harry Potter, I can do anything. They took your childhood, your innocence, your freedom, your soul mate, and your future. They took everything from you…I can give it back."
Harry's heart was racing as Arae pulled back and their eyes locked.
"What do you want?" Harry whispered. However much this felt as if he were making a deal with the devil, he wanted this, no needed this. Arae's eyes sparkled and her lips turned into a predatory smile.
"I only have enough power left to send your soul back fifteen years. After that I will be reduced to my animalia form. You will sign a contract," Arae snapped her fingers and a piece of ancient parchment appeared in a puff of dark grey smoke along with a quill. A quill he had quite personal experiences with. He couldn't help but rub the back of his hand where the words were still raised.
"Stating that you will protect my life with yours. I will be very weak afterwards and you will be my guard. Not only will you protect me, you will dedicate yourself to me. You will worship at my alter; as will your soul mate, your offspring, and their offspring. While your guard duties will not last more than five years, as stated in paragraph two, you and your blood will forever honor me, I will be the patroness of your line. Whilst you are going about exacting revenge I will be on the lookout for a worthy consort. Someone to bear me a godling so that they may bring my name back to life, raise my temples and bring the mortals to honor me. I will rise to power and you shall get your love and your revenge.
Do we have a deal, Harry Potter?"
For several moments Harry could only stare stupidly at her. And then his brain began to reboot itself and started processing what Arae had said. She was dying, because she was no longer being worshipped. He was dying, because he had killed his soul mate. Arae had come up with a solution that would help them both. But he had questions.
Harry looked up to Arae, "What does it mean to dedicate myself to you? What does it mean that you will be the patroness of my line? What exactly am I doing when if I agree for my children, and theirs, to be pledged to you?"
Once again Arae smiled, this time though, she looked genuinely pleased. "To dedicate yourself to me is to worship me, to become one of my children. You will have an alter in my name and every day until I am once again strong you will honor me with a ritual I will teach you. It is not uncommon; you wizardlings have chosen gods and goddesses to pledge to since the beginning of time; however the practice has become less popular in the last century. We will bring it back.
"To make me the patroness of your line you will need to claim your lordship. But after that your home will include an altar of mine, you will honor me in ways in which I will show you, and your crest will change. You will practice the old ways and in exchange you and your line will become infused with more power.
"And to your last question, you will raise your children in my name. You will teach them of me, how to honor my name, how to do my bidding if I ever desire, and pledge them to me when they are the appropriate age. They will do the same to their children, and it will go on. I would never harm them, or you, for you will be my first worshippers in centuries. I will bless you and protect you; in exchange you will do the same for me."
It seemed fair enough, even if he had no idea what worshipping a goddess included. Deep down, though, he knew he was going to say yes, even if he had to have a human sacrifice to worship her. So Harry let his other questions rest and nodded.
"I want to read the contract first." With a simple flick of the wrist the parchment disappeared in a cloud of smoke and then reappeared the same way in front of him. It was parchment older than he had ever seen and on it was words written a very flowery script and black ink.
The first paragraph outlined the main points. The second was the details on his duties as guard. Arae would be reduced to an animal form after this and would be for a while. So he would take her on under the guise of a familiar and would bring her with him everywhere he went. At no time were others to touch her and she was to be well fed. Neglect or failure to keep her safe resulted in his death. The duration of his guard duties would last no more than five years, as Arae had said.
The third paragraph was basically a nice way of saying that he was bound to secrecy. He was unable to tell anyone of her true identity, without explicit permission, or their deal in any way possible or his magic would kill him. The fourth was his promise to pledge himself, and his line to her patronage. Should he select another god upon her return to the stars was betrayal and resulted in, surprise surprise, his death. Should his offspring stray from her she had the right to visit them and if they still strayed, a curse would be set in motion. The curse was outlined in the next paragraph, basically stating that they would never find happiness until they returned to Arae. The second to last paragraph, number six, was Arae's end of the bargain. Upon signing this contract she would send them back fifteen years. She would care for him and his children to come as long as Harry held up his end. And the final paragraph recounted all points and very boldly stated that breaking this contract resulted in the death of the guilty party, Arae included.
For the first time in years Harry felt the small flicker of hope rage into a roaring fire. A real smile pulled his lips up and he hastily reached for the quill. The torrent of hope and anxiousness were so powerful he barely felt where the words carved into the back of his hand. When he was done, when Harry James Potter was written on the left line Harry looked up to Arae with glee. He was going back. Back to the days before Hogwarts and manipulations. Back to the days when Voldemort was still alive.
Her smile was genuine and she too signed her name at the bottom before the parchment was engulfed in purple flames. When it was gone Arae spoke.
"Very well, Harry Potter. Are you ready?"
"Yes," he nearly shouted. He was so ready for this. To feel the horcrux inside him again, to feel that bond with Voldemort, and to see all those who betrayed him die.
"I will see you soon."
Arae waived her hand and murmured a long string of words in a language he had never heard before he felt a jerking motion. He could feel himself floating, leaving his body, and had just enough time to look down and catch a glimpse of his unmoving body lying on the cobblestone before everything went black.