Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J. K. Rowling. No money is being made.

A large thank you to my Beta lovingsiri for beta reading this chapter for me.

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Independence of the Dark

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Chapter 3

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After arriving at the bus stop near the Leaky Cauldron, Harry quickly made his way to the dingy pub. However before entering it, Harry discreetly made sure that none of the muggles were watching him and swiftly covered himself with his invisibility cloak. He pushed the door open and took one step into the pub before his nose was assaulted with the smell of Firewhiskey and other vile concoctions. He could see a hag nursing a large glass filled with a bubbling acidic neon green liquid that had something suspiciously looking like fingernails floating in it. Harry nearly gagged upon seeing the contents in it.

Harry hastily turned his eyes away from the revolting drink and glanced around the pub to see if he could spot any of the Order members present in the vicinity. The first Order member he spotted was a red-faced Dedalus Diggle who, to Harry's immense surprise, was squabbling furiously with a middle-aged woman whom Harry did not know the name of. He had always assumed Dedalus Diggle to be a soft-spoken man, perhaps a tad bit easily excited. While he did not know the woman's name but he remembered that he had seen her a few times at Grimmauld Place, thus leading him to believe that she was an Order member as well.

Thinking quickly, Harry firmly shoved his morals to the side and decided to eavesdrop on their conversation. Morality was nothing but a hindrance, Harry decided cynically. Harry had guessed that there was an even fifty percent chance that they could be arguing something Order related. Silently, he sidled next to the pair of them.

" I tell you Hestia, what he is trying to do is not right", Dedalus Diggle insisted.

Hestia made a placating gesture with her hand and said," I know that Dedalus but what else can we do?"

"But it's unfair to the boy", Diggle growled with an angry expression on his face. "And he is such a sweet boy too", he muttered to himself.

Hestia shushed Diggle and continued in a quieter voice, " Life is unfair, Ded. We must all make sacrifices and this is the boy's turn. That's all ."

Diggle shook his head with a stubborn expression on his face. "How can you say that? That boy has made enough sacrifices, Hestia. There is no need for more. I still believe that what we are going to do is not right. At the least, we must ask the boy's permission. We are violating his trust."

Hestia simply opted not to further discuss the topic. They were in a rather public place and they had already discussed much more than it was safe to discuss outside of warded doors.

Harry silently left the duo with a contemplative expression on his face, once it became apparent that they were not going to be discussing any more Order business.

From the 'boy' Dedalus Diggle had mentioned, Harry knew he could safely assume that the 'boy' they were referring to was himself. But who was this 'he'? Harry could only think of one person who would violate his trust and make the others think that it was the right thing to do too. Harry sneered. Albus Dumbledore. Really the man had no boundaries, did he?

Well, whatever he was trying to do, Harry was going to put an end to it once he knew what was exactly going on. Harry's thoughts drifted to the concerns voiced by Dedalus Diggle. Perhaps he could try to manipulate him to sympathize with his plight for freedom with a few crocodile tears. Harry smirked at the thought. Really. It was blatantly obvious that the man had a soft spot for him; he could capitalize on that. Harry really needed someone in the Order on his side to spy for him. For now, there were two potential candidates; Tonks and Diggle. Perhaps, Remus too. He still didn't know where he stood in all of this.

Harry stood patiently in the small, walled courtyard of the pub, waiting for someone to tap on the stone bricks so that the archway could open. Just then, a portly witch holding a cat entered and did exactly that. Harry quickly slipped around the witch and entered the alley and gasped. The twisting cobbled street was bustling with people doing their shopping and hardly an inch of space was left free for a person to move undetected. How on earth was he going to get to the bank?!

Scowling, Harry navigated the crowd occupying the streets. Damn crowds. Harry clenched and unclenched his hands. Cursing the people won't help a thing, Harry sternly told himself. Really, how come so many people wanted to shop at the same time?

When he'd assumed that he would hide under the invisibility cloak, he'd never taken into account the difficulty it would present for him to make his way through a crowded alley-way. His cloak was pulled and prodded in all directions; he was slightly scared that it would tear or something. Thankfully, no one bothered to check out the invisible body moving among them. After all, weird things were a common occurrence in the wizarding world. Why, even now, he could see wizards like Mundungus Fletcher selling potions that had a person grow a third arm whose effect lasted for an entire hour.

[(-XX:::::::OOO:::::::XX-)]

Harry grinned. Finally. He looked upon the towering snow-white building that was Gringotts and could spot a pair of goblins standing guard at the burnished bronze doors. Harry swiftly climbed the marble white stone steps and silently slipped past the guards. The entrance led to an ante-chamber that had a set of solid silver doors facing him.

He made to stand beside the silver doors and glanced at his watch. Harry groaned. He was 15 minutes early. Usually it would not have been a bad thing , only the goblins were never anything but punctual, and they wouldn't arrive a minute early or a second too late. Sighing, Harry looked at the words engraved on the doors.

Enter, stranger, but take heed

Of what awaits the sin of greed,

For those who take, but do not earn,

Must pay most dearly in their turn.

So if you seek beneath our floors

A treasure that was never yours,

Thief, you have been warned, beware

Of finding more than treasure there.

Huh. That was very informative, Harry observed. It obviously indicated the security measures that were in place for the intruders which just made Harry all the more wonder what they were. He had never seen anything out of place during the cart ride to his vault. So, the security must be for the older purebloods' vaults, Harry surmised.

Just then, Harry caught sight of Moody approaching the entrance doors. Shite, Harry cursed and ducked into a crook in the side wall. Thankfully, Moody did not notice him and entered the main chamber through the silver double doors. Harry slowly let out the breath he had been holding. It would have been rather degrading had he been caught by that paranoid bastard.

Harry slowly moved to a corner and slanted his shoulders against the wall. Now, he had a clear view of the people entering the bank as well as the people exiting the bank through the silver doors.

Just when he was about to doze off due to the fact that he hadn't slept a wink the previous night what with his sojourn to the Chamber of Secrets and all; Harry caught sight of a platinum blonde head a.k.a. Draco Malfoy, dressed in impeccable black robes, leaving the bank with a house-elf in tow. When the blond had descended the steps, Harry was pleasantly surprised to see Malfoy waiting for his house-elf to catch up with him. And when the elf toppled in its haste and fell on the hard ground, he was even more surprised to see Draco enquiring whether it was okay. Harry had simply assumed that Malfoy would just ignore it and expect it to pick itself up and follow him. It seemed that the blond ferret had grown up without him knowing. How was that possible? Harry wondered. He always kept tabs on Draco Malfoy.

As if hearing Harry's thoughts, Draco's shoulders stiffened and he slowly turned to face the bank . His eyes began searching for something only he knew and those mercury eyes passed the spot where Harry was hiding several times. After a few minutes, Draco swiftly turned on his heel and left. Within minutes, he was lost in the crowd. Harry sighed and leaned his head back on the wall.

[(-XX:::::::OOO:::::::XX-)]

At exactly 3 pm, a stocky goblin fitted out in a pinstripe suit stepped outside of the silver doors and casually made to stand beside it. If anyone noticed an extra goblin guarding the doors, they thought nothing of it. Harry slowly approached the goblin and quietly asked "Are you Gornun Silvertongue?"

The goblin glanced in the general direction of where he was standing and nodded imperceptibly. Then, Silvertongue turned on his heel and swiftly entered the spacious white marble hall. There was a long counter on one side of the hall where nearly a hundred goblins sat on high stools behind it. On the other side, there were innumerable doors leading off the hall to goodness knows where.

Just when Harry was guessing which door they were about to enter, Silvertongue made for the door marked with the number 1. Yet another pair of goblins wearing uniforms of black and silver stood outside, guarding the door. However, unlike the other goblins, these two were equipped with weaponry; the pointy-nosed goblin was holding an axe in his hand while the other one was gripping a spear.

Harry wondered what he would do if they chose to attack him that instant. He quickly reassured himself by patting the wand residing in his pocket. Then out of nowhere, he was suddenly hit by the question of what he would do if he ever lost his wand during a battle and immediately grimaced at the thought.

Merlin, he was pathetic. He really needed to train. But when he thought of all the training ahead of him, Harry couldn't help but feel slightly depressed. He was very excited, true, but he was nonetheless slightly depressed at all the hard work that he would need to put in after five whole years of lazing around. Oh, he wasn't scared that he would slack off because he would not. Once he made up his mind, he would not easily be deterred. Besides, he was at a loss of how he was going to learn so much within three months' time. Maybe he could try to find a time-turner in some of the illegal stores in Knockturn Alley. That would surely buy him an additional three months' time to train.

Harry breathed deeply. He would find something; he always did, Harry assured himself. With that in mind, Harry focused on the conversation that was taking place before him in rapid Gobbledegook. Harry could understand some of the words the goblins were saying, since in a burst of impulsive curiosity during his fourth year, he had decided to learn Gobbledegook. Only it had lasted for a month or so, before Hermione had admonished him for wasting his time to learn a not-so-necessary language. Only now he realized, Harry knew it was just her jealousy speaking.

Finally, Silvertongue pushed the door open and paused for a few moments to allow him to slip inside. Harry glanced around the ornate room he was currently ensconced in. It had an high arched ceiling and the stone walls were decorated with paintings that depicted the Goblin wars on one side while the other side of the wall had rows and rows of portraits, all of them featuring aged goblins attired in flowing robes, not much unlike the wizarding robes; the floor was covered in a thick gold carpet that had an oriental design on it. And sitting behind an elaborate mahogany desk was a wizened old goblin with wise black eyes, clad in sky blue robes. He had long white hair that was tied with a gold ribbon.

"You may remove your cloak, Mr. Potter", stated Silvertongue who had entered the room after him.

Harry slid the cloak off from around his shoulders and turned to face Silverhook expectantly.

"Please take a seat, Mr. Potter. This is the Chief Goblin Fireclaw who is the Head of the Gringotts Bank as well as one of the Elders of the Goblin Nation."

Harry inclined his head respectfully in the Elder goblin's direction before he took the indicated seat. He already knew that the Goblin Nation was led by a council of twelve Elders although he was slightly surprised to know that the Head of Gringotts was an Elder. " It is an honour to meet you, Gornunuk Fireclaw. But, what is it that has had you request me to attend this meeting?" Harry asked.

Harry could tell that the chief goblin was very pleased when he addressed him properly with the goblin honorific. " It is a pleasure to meet you as well, Mr. Potter. However before we begin, I must request you to allow us to take a look at your back", the Elder goblin told him.

"And why is that?" Harry was immediately on the defensive. For all he knew, this could be some sort of trap set by his enemies and when his back was turned, they would probably stab him. The only thing that stopped him from pulling out his wand was that he did not want to insult the Elder Goblin and also he had a feeling of safety radiating from Fireclaw.

"Because we're bound by the oath not to reveal any secrets to you unless you bear the mark on your back", Fireclaw informed him.

Harry sighed. He couldn't help but think that they were speaking the truth. He also knew that whatever it is they were searching for was most likely on his back. Harry came to the conclusion that it must have something to do with the weird itching on his back that he had been experiencing for the past week. Harry stood up and unbuttoned his shirt before sliding it off completely. He wasn't particularly embarrassed about his body. Due to his overly large clothing, many assumed him to be on the thin side. No, instead, he was lean muscled and slightly tan from all the quidditch practices for the past five years. Although, he was slightly disgruntled with the fact that he was one of the shortest blokes in his year. But, Sirius had assured him that he would hit his growth spurt in his seventh year, just like his father. Harry could only hope.

Harry slowly turned and displayed his back to the two eagerly waiting goblins to which the response he got in turn was a gasp and a gleeful chuckle. This response made Harry wonder as to what exactly was on his back. In his haste, he had completely forgotten to check his back in the mirror, as he'd promised himself he would do.

Harry looked at the chief goblin from over his shoulder and arched an eyebrow in a silent question. Fireclaw just conjured two mirrors out of thin air and angled the mirrors so that the reflection of his back in the first mirror was in turn reflected on the second mirror placed in front of him. What he saw indeed took him by surprise but Harry didn't let any emotions show on his face. There was a beautiful tattoo done in black ink adorning his back. It was a stunning combination of intricate designs done inside an elaborate oval frame and the oval frame in turn was engulfed in swirling flames on both sides. The flames started from just above the small of his back and ended in a swirling tip a few inches below his neck. If he looked closely, he could make out a few letters written in a language he wasn't familiar with inside the frame among the designs. However, the most enthralling effect was the way the flames seemed to shimmer and move whenever he slightly changed his position.

"What does this mark mean?", Harry inquired.

"It means that you are one of the chosen ones. But the question remains. Will you be able to make it unlike the others? " Fireclaw muttered the last sentence to himself.

Harry quickly put on his shirt and reoccupied his chair. He was very curious to know what the tattoo was all about. He had heard that comment about 'chosen ones' and he was slightly exasperated with this new development. Really. Could anymore weird crap happen to a person?

"Mr. Potter, you must be wondering about the mark on your back. Tell me, Mr. Potter, how much do you know of your family history?"

"Well, as far as I know, the Potters are an old pureblood family whose origins date back to the early 12th century", Harry recited the only piece of fact he knew about his family.

"I see. Please follow me, Mr. Potter, this may take a long time to explain. Silvertongue, you may remain here, if you wish, since you've already heard the story numerous number of times since your childhood."

Silverclaw simply nodded and began ruffling through some documents he'd brought with him.

The chief goblin rose and made to stand beside a metal door which had been previously hidden from view with the help of some warding charms Harry figured. Fireclaw ran a long fingernail along a vein in the intricately designed door.

Harry quickly followed him into the side-room. This room was just as elegant as the former room he had been in. Only it had an unused air about it. Without wasting time, Fireclaw immediately led him to the first painting on the wall and allowed Harry to observe it for some time.

The painting obviously depicted a meeting hall where rows and rows of seats were raised around a circular podium. However, the most interesting and unbelievable thing in the painting was that the meeting room was not just filled with wizards. Instead, the wizards were in conjunction with various magical creatures like vampires, goblins, werewolves, centaurs, merpeople, veelas, leprechauns, etc. From the arrangement, it was blatant that both creatures and humans were involved in some sort of political discussion.

Harry was shell-shocked at what the goblin was showing him. Surely this was not real. It just meant that a painter somewhere had an over-active imagination.

"No, Mr. Potter. I know you are thinking that this is just a fantasy painting, but that is not the case here. This is the hard truth of how it was once. Both creatures and wizards were given equal rights back then and were allowed to participate in the government. All magical creatures had a spokesman present on their behalf in the House of Magical Beings."

Harry turned to look at the painting once more with undisguised awe on his face. He simply couldn't wrap his mind around the concept.

"It wasn't the 'Wizarding World' back then", the goblin said, disdain dripping from his words."It was recognized as the Magical World. There was no Wizengamot or the House of Lords, where only wizards are allowed to participate. No, it was the House of Magical Beings where any and all creatures that had the ability to speak were allowed to be present."

"And there was no discrimination against the creatures?", Harry asked.

"No. The wizards were afraid of incurring the wrath of the Dark Ones."

"Dark Ones?" Harry couldn't help but think that the name was a bit pretentious.

In answer to his question, Fireclaw pointed him to the next painting. There were four people in it- two men and two women- all of whom were exceptionally beautiful but the most captivating thing was their eyes. It did not have any white surrounding the pupils. Instead, the whole eye was a swirling pool of vibrant colour.

"The Dark Ones were the rulers of the magical world. They were a combination of creature and human. As hard as they tried, they could not remember how they came into existence. It would always remain a mystery to them. So, they called themselves the 'Dark Ones' for they were masters in the Dark Arts; it came as easily as breathing to them. In addition to that, they were immortal. They maintained peace and bred equality among the magical beings. Both Dark magic and Light Magic was respected and practiced by everyone" Fireclaw began pointing to each of the figures and told him their names.

The tallest crimson-haired man with midnight black eyes was Agron. He had his arm wrapped around a slightly shorter man who had raven-coloured hair with glowing silver eyes known as Javed. Standing slightly apart from them was a blond haired woman with sea blue eyes called Galena who was enfolded in the arms of a taller dark haired woman with amber eyes known as Seshafi.

And all of them radiated power. No wonder they were able to rule the magical world, Harry thought.

"After a long reign of peace, nearly 5000 years ago, a wizard named Aeron was born. He was not powerful but he was very sly and had the ability to move crowds with his words. So, when a few rogue creatures killed his sister, he started revolting against the Dark Ones in secret. He started spouting propaganda and the like. Within a few short years, almost all of the wizards rallied to his side. However, what sealed the wizards victory was his highly underhanded move.

You see, the Dark Ones were very powerful, true, but even they had a weakness. Their son, Cailean O'Dorchaidhe. It is a Gaelic name which means 'young warrior- descendant of the Dark One'. Since the four of them were attracted to their own gender, they were not able to procreate. So, they performed a dark ritual to create a wizard child with their genes. Aeron kidnapped 5-year old Cailean and threatened to kill him if the Dark Ones didn't kill themselves. Now, this is where we come to the series of events that had been set in motion that has resulted in your mark."

Harry unknowingly leaned forward, very much caught up in the story.

"The Dark Ones decided that they wouldn't let their death be in vain. So, after receiving the oath that Cailean wouldn't be harmed after their death, they fearlessly killed themselves by slitting their throats. After their deaths, Aeron quickly secured victory in a short span of time. He followed that by setting laws that declared the magical creatures to be beneath wizards and the use of Dark Magic illegal. He also destroyed each and every record that had any mention of the Dark Ones. These paintings are one of the only records present that could be secretly salvaged from those times. He was the person who founded the Ministry of Magic and named himself the First Minister of Magic.

However, the prohibition of Dark Magic led to a great many number of wars among the wizards themselves, giving rise to Dark Lords, but none of them ever fought for the freedom of the Creatures. We, creatures, were treated as vermin and were only barely tolerated by them. When, in truth, the magical creatures were the ones who came into existence prior to the Wizards, but somehow, they always fail to remember that fact."

Harry could feel his blood boiling when he thought of this Aeron person. He couldn't just let things be, could he? He reminded Harry an awful lot of Albus Dumbledore. He was also furious with the way wizarding world treated the Creatures. He could remember countless instances which clearly portrayed the bigotry of the wizards against creatures.

Unaware of Harry's rather violent thoughts, Fireclaw continued," However, what the others did not know was that the Dark Ones had cast old magic before killing themselves to make sure that their magic was preserved in their heir's line. So, when a worthy wizard was born of their blood, their magic would reassert itself in that particular person's magical core and they would receive some of the characteristics and power similar to that of a Dark One. This wizard would lead the Dark to its freedom. The task of finding and informing the chosen one was given to us goblins which is also one of the reasons we opened Gringotts. But, this inheritance doesn't mean that you will become powerful in a day. No, you will have to train and train hard."

"And when will this said change take place?", Harry asked. He certainly wouldn't mind a boost of additional power. He was powerful, true, but he still didn't have as much magical potential as Voldemort and Dumbledore.

"The change takes place when the person turns sixteen but this does not mean that they will be able to make it through the change. Usually a person's magical core once formed will not take kindly to any change done to it. So, once the old magic has been triggered, your core has no choice but to change and if it doesn't, you may end up dead or even worse, as a squib. It depends on a person's will power to make it through. In all these years, only four people have been marked but none of them made it through the change."

Nothing could ever be easy, could it? Harry sighed. Well, No Pain No Gain, it seemed.

"Take a look at your family tree. The O'Dorchaidhe line lasted 700 years before it was unable to produce a male heir and the female heir was married into the Edna family. Due to similar circumstances, the magic was transferred through five families before it was brought into the Potter family 600 years ago through the marriage of Vasilisa Darth to Corvus Potter. Vasilisa was the direct female descendant and heir to the O'Dorchaidhe line. Of course, she didn't know that. The O'Dorchaidhe line was completely forgotten by then."

Harry nodded."Isn't there any way that I could come into my inheritance before my birthday?" Harry asked in a curious voice. After all, his birthday was nearly two months away and would it not be better to train with those yet-to-be-known skills of his for three months rather than just one month?

Fireclaw considered that for a moment, his mind quickly at work searching for a solution, before he replied," There is no potion to achieve that. However, if you become the Lord of the House of Potter now rather than on your sixteenth birthday, the Magic will recognize that you are ready to receive your inheritance now itself. This is the only loophole available to us."

Lord of the House of Potter? Wait. How could that be? As far as he knew, only the rich purebloods like the Malfoys, Blacks, Parkinsons had a seat on the House of Lords. After all, he had never heard Mr. Weasley referred to as Lord Weasley, had he? So, how come the Potters had one? He would get his answers later, Harry decided.

Harry nodded resolutely, "Then we will do that."

The Elder goblin gave a grin and continued in a rather grim tone, "Before we do this, we still have some delicate matters to discuss regarding your Black fortune."

Harry just blinked before understanding dawned in him along with a crushing wave of sadness. Bellatrix, he reminded himself. Bellatrix was still out there and he would kill her, crush her as inhumanly as possible and watch as her life drained away from her body. And he would enjoy every second of it, he vowed.

Harry nodded and indicated for the Chief goblin to lead the way. Once they entered the main office, Harry noticed that Silvertongue had left the room during their absence. Shrugging his shoulders, he resumed sitting in the chair he'd vacated earlier. He watched as Fireclaw rummaged through his drawers and pulled out a thick sheaf of parchment along with a glass sphere.

After placing the glass sphere right in the middle of the table, he announced," This is the Last Will and Testament of Sirius Orion Black."

Just like Trelawney had risen from the Pensieve, a revolving figure of Sirius came out of the sphere and started,

"I, Sirius Orion Black, being of sound mind and body, do hereby declare this my Last Will and Testament. I direct that my godson, Harry James Potter, be the executor of my estate and work in cooperation with Gringotts Bank to carry out the provisions stated in this Will.

I, hereby, name Harry James Potter my heir and bequeath the title of Lord Black to him including all of the social and political obligations thereof.

The provisions are:

First, to my best friend, Remus John Lupin, I leave a sum of 200,000 galleons and a villa in the Erudian Forests. I kindly ask that you would buy yourself a large wardrobe of clothing, Moony. Merlin knows I tried. I know there is no need to say this but please take care of my Harry and always support him in whatever he does.

Second, to my cousin Andromeda and her family, I leave a sum of 50,000 galleons. Andromeda, I wish we could have spent more time together catching up old times but it was not meant to be. So, I wish you a good life, dear cousin of mine. Tonks, you are a great person and you should always do what your heart says. I know that you hold authority in high regard, but also beware of their fickleness.

Lastly, I leave the remainder of my estate and assets to my godson, Harry James Potter. Harry, always remember that I will love you forever, no matter what you do. Follow your heart, Harry. It will always lead you right. Also, beware of the cobwebs surrounding you. Remove them and you will have a much happier life. That is all I can say for now. And remember, you can always count on Remus.

To everyone else, see you until we meet in the great beyond..."

Harry wiped the corner of his eye from where a single tear had escaped without him knowing. Grief tightened his heart. Sirius must have known the duplicity of the people around him. Why hadn't Sirius warned him before? Perhaps, Sirius had been scared that he would not believe his words. He could only wonder. After composing himself, Harry looked up at the Chief.

"As you can see, Mr. Potter, Sirius Black named you as his legal heir which means you are set to receive all the Black fortune and properties. However, I was visited by the Chief Warlock Albus Dumbledore a few days ago. He requested to view the will of Sirius Black. After examining it, he left the room slightly displeased. The very next day, he brought with him a legal document which practically reinstated him as the financial holder of the Black vaults until you came of age. This could be done because he is now your temporary guardian until you turn seventeen. The document also included a clause that stated money could be withdrawn from the charge's vault to fund organizations. I quickly realized that by the mention of organizations, Dumbledore was referring to his own group known as the Order of the Phoenix."

Harry surmised that this must have been what Diggle had been talking about. So, Dumbledore had obviously presumed that he could steal money from HIS vault without him knowing. Harry particularly didn't care much for money but he would rather die than allow Dumbledore's wrinkled old hands anywhere near his possessions. Besides, Harry figured that the money could be used to fund his own side in the war.

"So, instead of agreeing with Dumbledore, I asked him for a few more days' time to ponder on this matter. Dumbledore had failed to consider the fact that in case you became Lord Black, he wouldn't be able to be the financial holder or your guardian."

Harry smirked. "Then could you please present me with my family rings, Gornunuk Fireclaw?"

"Of course, Mr. Potter. However, the instant you put on the Potter ring, you must know that you will start undergoing the change."

Harry nodded. He knew that the possibility of him surviving the change was very slim. But, he wasn't scared of dying. At least not much. This was bound to happen anyway. So, better sooner than later.

"I've got a question. After the change, will I be a creature or a human?", Harry asked. He didn't care what he was either way but he figured that knowing couldn't hurt.

"You will not become a creature, Mr. Potter. Rather, you would be a human who has some of the characteristics similar to that of the Dark One. You will know more about it after you've completed the change"

Fireclaw produced a black silk cloth upon which a beautiful but simple ring rested, done in white-gold with a large square black diamond fixed on top of it. Harry placed the ring on the little finger of his right hand. After a brief flash of magic had passed through him, recognizing him as the new Lord Black, Fireclaw slowly opened a thick velvet cloth to reveal a twisted golden band that had a griffin head on top of the ring. The eyes of the Griffin was replaced with two small rubies. Similarly, the sides of the band had 3 inlaid rubies on either side of the Griffin head.

Harry placed the ring on the index finger of his left hand. Harry was about to ask more questions about the Potter fortune but before he could do that, he was suddenly consumed by a wave of intense pain. Noticing this, Fireclaw immediately led him to a door at the far end of the office, which when opened, revealed to be a bedroom tastefully done in blues and golds. Harry quickly lay down on the bed before he was wracked with another bout of crushing agony.

Merlin, he had not known that there was pain worse than the Cruciatus curse or that it was even possible. But fuck, he was experiencing it firsthand now. Every nerve ending in his body felt like it was being electrocuted. His chest was burning a hole inside him. It felt as if his blood had thickened and he couldn't even breathe properly. Shite. Was he going to die after all?

After enduring hours of agony, Harry wanted to die but at the same time, he didn't want to. How many hours would it take for this to end? He felt so thirsty. Although, it was hurting like hell, he refused to let a sound escape him. He could feel the coppery taste in his mouth from his bitten lips. The only thing that had him from giving into the blissful darkness was his resolve. Resolve to prove that he was much better than the others who didn't make it, more powerful than them. Resolve to prove to the wizarding world how wrong they had been. Resolve to kill Bellatrix. Resolve to prove to Voldemort that he was the most powerful. Resolve to make Dumbledore pay for his mistakes. Resolve to win the war for the Dark. Until then, he would endure...

[(-XX:::::::OOO:::::::XX-)]

The first thing he felt when he regained consciousness was the feel of cool silk sheets against his naked back. Subsequently, he was hit by the joyous realization that he was alive; he had made it through the change when none before him had. Harry grinned. He had felt the Power that came with the change. It was still out of his reach but he would conquer it. Soon. During his unending agony, Harry had come to a startling conclusion. Power. Glorious Power. Only Power mattered in the world. Not blood or status as the majority of the Purebloods believed.

Smirking, Harry opened his eyes only to close it immediately in the next instant. He vigorously rubbed his eyes before he opened them again. Nope. Everything was the same, only a ten times more clearer and vivid than he'd ever seen things before. He didn't even need his glasses. So, enhanced vision was one side-effect, Harry noted.

Actually, it made sense. His magical core was large but the Dark One's magical core was much larger. So, when the two of them merged, his survival instincts would have kicked in subconsciously and would have tried to channel some of the excess magic to his extremities. Harry guessed that he would probably have enhanced hearing, sensing, flexibility, and speed amongst other things.

Harry stood up gracefully and slipped on the dark green silk robe that had been placed on the night stand beside his bed. Tying the belt, he moved to stand in front of the large full-length mirror propped against the wall and gasped. The person in the mirror was him, no doubt about that; only, much more handsome. The changes were subtle. He had been good-looking before; but now, his features had a more refined look to them.

His cheekbones and jaw were now even more chiselled than they were before along with a firm aquiline nose. His rather thin lips had slightly filled out and now looked an enticing blood red. His mop of dark hair had lengthened and fell to his shoulders in neat waves and shone a lustrous raven-black from the early-morning sunrays reflecting on it.

He'd even gained a few inches height. Although, he would never be as tall as Draco Malfoy, he now stood at a height of 5'8. However, he was slightly annoyed with the fact that his tan had faded off giving way to glowing porcelain complexion. (He wasn't sure whether he liked it or not. He'd always been of the opinion that only blondes looked good with porcelain skin like Draco Malfoy.)

However, the most captivating feature on his face were his eyes. They now resembled a deep vortex of vivid greens, without any whites, just like the Dark Ones' eyes.

Before he could continue his ogling, he was interrupted by a polite clearing of the throat from the Chief Goblin Fireclaw. Harry turned to face the goblin who had a huge grin plastered on his face, "I believe congratulations are in order, Lord Potter."

Harry simply smirked smugly and replied, "Indeed, Gornunuk Fireclaw."

After a few minutes of small talk, the Chief Goblin resumed a more serious air, " Mr. Potter, it is indeed an admirable feat to have done this but you must be aware that you now have a huge well of power that resides in you, on par with Dumbledore and Voldemort. But, unlike them, you haven't harnessed it yet. But, also unlike them, your magical core is much wilder and if you don't control it, it will begin to control you. We will provide you with instructors who are the best in their respective fields ."

"And why would you do that for me?", Harry asked with honest curiosity in his voice.

"You are the Dark Ones' heir and it is our duty to provide whatever it is that you require."

"And is that all?", Harry asked, knowing that the goblin wanted to add something else as well.

"No, that's not all. You should know that the goblins were the most trusted beings by the Dark Ones. We were the most loyal and the most powerful. The one thing they clearly stated to us when they assigned us our task was that there would be no more wizards marked in the future, once the Chosen heir had successfully undergone the Change. So, this means that you are the last hope for the Dark."

"Even if I die, there is still Voldemort. He is still fighting for the dark, isn't he? Why won't you help him but only me?", Harry asked. He already knew the reason but he still wanted verbal confirmation from the Elder goblin.

"As I said earlier, many Dark Lords were there in the past but, not one of them ever fought for the creatures. Oh, there were several clever ones who allied themselves with some of the creatures but once the war was won, they were cast aside. The dark lords fought for power or for the right to wield Dark Magic by the wizards or like in Voldemort's case, for muggle subjugation. But never for us."

"And what makes you believe I would?", Harry asked, testing the Chief goblin.

"I know that it was presumptuous of me to assume that, but I still do. I can clearly see the fire that burns in your eyes whenever I speak of the bigotry against the creatures. So, I know that you will fight for us."

"Indeed, that was presumptuous of you, but nonetheless true", Harry quietly noted.

"Thank you. It means a lot to me to hear that from you. Like I said, this is not just a wizard's war like the countless ones' before. No, this will be a war which involves everyone. Both wizards and creatures. This is the one chance where the Dark will rise once more or it will meet its end once and for all. This will be our last stand. But, I must warn you, the Goblin Nation will be involved only if you prove to us that you are able to control your magic. We would rather perish than follow a mad leader who is a prisoner of his own magic."

Harry nodded. He would never be controlled by anyone or anything ever again. He was free at last and nothing would ever hold him down. He would destroy everything that was an obstacle in his path to freedom. Even if it was his own magic. Harry pivoted to face the mirror with a sinister smile and an unearthly glow in his green eyes.


A/N: I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please leave a review?