Descent into Darkness

BY : Athey1024
Category: Harry Potter AU/AR > Slash - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 69307
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, nor any of the characters from the books or movies. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.


 



Disclaimer: Don't own Harry Potter. JKRowling does.



First Beta Pass by Clemex



– –



"Harry!" Hermione exclaimed the following afternoon as Harry tried to slip from the common room unnoticed. Clearly, he had failed.



He turned around to face her and gave her an innocent smile. "Yeah, Hermione?"



"Where do you think you're going!"



"Er... for a walk?"



"And what happened to your promise to explain what you did in the task?" she asked in a hushed voice as she came up to his side. "Did you, or did you not, transfigure yourself? And what was it that Professor Dumbledore wanted to talk to you about, yesterday after the task?"



Harry scowled slightly and gave her a brief glare before masking his expression to one of hesitant worry. He knew he couldn't dodge this forever. Although, admittedly, he had hoped for more than a day to pass before he was interrogated again.



"Alright," he mumbled. "But if I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it with both you and Ron, in one go. I don't want to have to explain it again.



Her eyes lit up and she smiled. "Alright, I go get him."



He rolled his eyes at her back and sighed. "Let's do this up in me and Ron's room. The other guys are all down here, so we'll have some privacy up there."



She nodded over her shoulder and quickly hurried across the common room to the table where Ron was engaged in a game of chess with one of the second years who had been gullible enough to agree to play him.



Ron looked annoyed at being interrupted, but Hermione was clearly being rather insistent. Harry stood there and tried to go over in his mind exactly how he was going to approach this situation. It wasn't like he actually cared if they were offended that he had kept secrets from them, but he wanted to avoid some sort of conflict if he could manage it.



Finally Hermione came back with Ron in tow. Harry sighed, but mostly in exasperation and annoyance at having to deal with this.



The three made their way up the stairs to the boy's dormitory and positioned themselves around Harry's bed and desk. Harry took out his wand and pointed it at the door. A few simple flicks and swishes later and the door was locked, and a privacy ward had been put up.



Hermione and Ron were both looking at him with wide, curious and slightly confused eyes.



He ducked his head in mock bashfulness and rubbed the back of his neck as he took a seat on his bed.



"I er... don't want this getting out. Theoretically, I could get into real trouble for it," Harry said, looking up at them and giving them a weak grin.



"Get into trouble for what!" Hermione asked as her eyes suddenly grew extremely wide with worry.



"Well... okay, so you know how you asked me two questions? You asked if I really did transfigure myself, and what the headmaster had wanted to talk to me about after the task?"



"Yes," Hermione said nodding her head. Ron just looked a bit lost, and watched the two of them curiously.



"Well, they're sort of linked. The headmaster wanted to know what it was I did too. I told him, and he's okay with it, so I'm not in trouble with him. I just can't risk it getting out to anyone at the ministry."



"What did you do, Harry!" Hermione asked in an exasperated tone.



"I er... became an animagus," he said with a sheepish grin and a shrug.



Ron looked stunned, but Hermione looked down-right flabbergasted.



"You what! How? When! Becoming an animagus takes years! How –"



"I started it last year. Early-on, actually," Harry mumbled, looking down at his hands and fingering at his wand.



"What! But... wait, when? And why didn't you say anything about it?" Hermione asked, her tone shifting to hurt, rather than surprised or disapproving. Ron was frowning and looking equally upset.



"I... I just couldn't. I mean... okay, do you know much about how one becomes an animagus?"



Ron shook his head, but Hermione, as expected, had an answer. "First you have to brew a rather complicated potion. The potion reveals whether or not you have an animal form, and what it will be. And then you have to go through months of meditative practice, followed by many months of gradual partial transformations of each of your individual limbs and body parts. Then –"



"Right," Harry said, cutting her off. "So the first thing I did was discover if I could even do it, and what my form would be."



"Right," Hermione said with a curt nod, prodding him on.



"Well, I sort of... freaked out, when I saw what my form was."



"What is your form?" Ron asked, finally speaking up for the first time.



"Er... a snake," Harry mumbled.



Ron's eyes went wide and his skin went pale.



Hermione had apparently already figured this out and didn't really seem surprised.



"Yeah... so, anyway, when I realized what my form would be I... I guess I didn't want to tell you. I didn't want to say anything before then because I didn't want to get my hopes up on the whole thing working only to discover I didn't have an animagus form at all. And then I go and find out my animagus form is a great bloody snake and I knew that it would weird you out," he said, looking straight at Ron.



Ron looked like he was about to protest, but Harry cut him off by continuing.



"I did the meditation and breathing exercises at night before bed, just... I don't know, just for the hell of it. I wasn't even trying that hard at it the first few months. It was mostly something to just keep my mind off other things.



"But during the summer, when I was stuck back at the Dursley's, I worked on it a lot more. I mean, I had nothing else to do. They locked up all my school things in the cupboard, and wouldn't let me leave my ruddy room most of the time. So I just laid in bed, practicing the animagus transformation."



Hermione gasped. "But Harry! We're not supposed to practice magic outside of school!"



"Yeah, but this doesn't require a wand, and I don't think it registers with the magical trace the way normal magic does. It's not actually cast the way normal spells are cast. In any case, nothing that I did ever resulted in a howler from the Ministry, so they obviously didn't catch on to anything.



"I didn't practice an awful lot the first month or so of school, but after I got dragged into the tournament, and you two ditched me, I had a lot more free time on my hands, so I refocused on my training. And then, after I got the clue for the second task and realized that I would need to go into the Black Lake, I figured that my animagus form could help me out a lot with the task, so I started working really really hard on it. I only mastered it three weeks ago, actually."



"I... I can't believe you didn't trust us with this, Harry," Hermione said as she looked over at him sadly.



Harry huffed. "It's not about trust. I just... I mean, yeah, I was pretty sure that you guys would freak out a bit about the snake thing, although I also figured that you'd get over it at some point. But mostly I just... I don't know why, but I just wanted to keep this to myself. It was like... this was something that my dad did. Sure, I found out later that he did it with his friends, but originally I just wanted to do it on my own. And after the way the two of you turned on me after Halloween I didn't really.. want to share it with either of you. And even after we made up, I had kept it secret for so long I just didn't know how to tell either of you."



"Oh Harry..." Hermione said, giving him that sad, understanding look that made him want to sneer and scowl at her. He managed to restrain himself, and kept his head bowed and began to finger the hem of his robes nervously.



"It was incredibly reckless of you to do it alone though," Hermione said with a long sigh. "It can be so dangerous, Harry! There are so many things that can go wrong when attempting the animagus transformation!"



Harry just shrugged and kept his head ducked sheepishly.



An awkward silence fell heavy in the room for a minute.



"So... you can't like... pick your animagus form or anything?" Ron's voice said, breaking the silence.



Hermione gave an exasperated huff and glared at Ron. "No, Ron. You cannot pick your own animagus form. Not everyone even has one. Most people don't."



"Well... How is your animal form chosen, exactly?" Ron asked.



"This animal form is not chosen by the wizard, but determined by their personality and inner traits. Thus, one's Animagus form is a reflection of one's inner nature," Hermione said in her 'I'm repeating something I read' voice.



Ron's eyes widened and he gave Harry a scrutinizing look.



Harry looked up and scowled slightly. "See? That's why I didn't want to tell you."



"What!" Ron said, defensively. "I didn't say anything!"



"Maybe not, but I can tell from the look on your face what your thinking. You're wondering what about my 'inner nature' could result in me ending up as a snake," Harry said, grumbling and scowling in a rather immature looking pout. He hoped it was convincing.



"I was not!" Ron exclaimed, but his voice wobbled a bit that told Harry that his statement had been right. Not that he had doubted it any. He had a pretty good understanding on how the ginger's mind worked.



"Harry, it's alright. You don't have to hid this sort of thing from us. We're your friends," Hermione said, as she shot a rather scathing glare at Ron, who pouted.



"Yeah, Harry. I mean... yeah, it's kind of... weird, but so what? It's still cool that you can turn into an animal, right?"



Harry looked up and let a small sheepish grin curve up the corner of his mouth. "It is pretty cool. And I can still cast parselmagic while in my sea krait form. It's brilliant."



Hermione gasped as her hand flew up to her mouth. "That's impossible! You're kidding!"



"Nope. A normal animagus can't perform magic while in their animal form because they can't hold a wand or speak, but all I need to do to perform parselmagic is speak in parseltongue, which I can still do as a snake. You know that locator spell I taught myself for the task, but wouldn't show you guys? It was actually a parseltongue spell. That was why I really didn't want to practice it in front of you. I knew you'd ask why I was learning a parselmagic locator spell, instead of learning a normal magic one, and then I would have had to explain about the sea krait thing."



"Wait... what's a sea krait?" Ron asked, looking confused.



"It's the kind of snake I turn into."



"Oh..." Ron replied, still looking confused.



"It's the only sea snake that retained enough traits from normal land snakes to live on both land and in the sea. So it was really convenient for the task. I can swim wicked fast underwater."



"Wow..." Ron paused and looked thoughtful for a moment – which meant he looked constipated. "Can... can I see?"



Harry blinked in honest surprise. He glanced over and saw excited curiosity burning behind Hermione's eyes too.



"Uh... I guess so. Yeah, sure," Harry said as he stood up and walked awkwardly into the center of the room.



It had been more than three weeks since the last time he had performed the transformation while above water, so he felt a little weird about it at first. Down in the chamber he had found that it worked best if he did it while kneeling, so he did that know. He took in a deep breath, closed his eyes, and focused on the process of transforming his body.



He felt the tingles of his magic like pins and needles across every bit of skin, and the strange sensation that came with his legs magically melding together, and his arms shrinking into nothing.



He heard a gasp from Hermione, and a whimpering noise from Ron, but ignored it as his body sunk down and elongated across the floor. He opened his eyes and flicked out his tongue, tasking the air around him. He slithered across the floor to the base of the chair Ron was sitting in. The redhead looked as if he were about to faint. In fact, as Harry got closer, Ron actually lifted his feet off the floor and grabbed hold of his knees.



Harry 'laughed' which came out as a series of hisses. He raised head up off the ground with ease, until his head was now almost eye level with Ron's. Harry was a very large snake, after all, so this was quite a simple task.



"Blimey," Ron squeaked in a comically high pitched voice.



"Wow..." Hermione said in a hushed voice.



Harry lowered himself back to the ground and slithered around the space for a minute before coming back to the spot of floor right in front of the two of them and coiling into a large heap in front of Hermione. Again, he rose his head up high so that he was now about level with her lap. Hesitantly, she reached out and pet his head. He hissed out another chuckle, and her eyes widened for a moment before her face broke out into a smile.



She pet her hand down his head and a bit down his 'neck', smiling more and more with each subsequent stroke.



"You're so soft... I never expected a snake to feel like this," she mused quietly.



Harry looked at her with a bit of surprise, but then he supposed it shouldn't be that surprising that Hermione had never touched a snake before.



"You want to feel, Ron?" She asked turning to the redhead, who still looked mildly horrified.



"What!" he squeaked. "Uh, no... er, that would probably be a bit... weird."



Hermione rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to Harry.



"Well, Harry, I have to admit that the snake bit was a little weird at first, but I think it's brilliant now."



Ron gave her a look that told Harry that he thought it was anything but 'brilliant', but he remained silent.



Harry grinned, internally, and slithered back to the open center of the room where he quickly transformed back into himself.



"That is just... it's just incredible, Harry!" she beamed, standing up and rushing over to him. Much to his surprise, she pulled him into a tight hug. "I'm so proud of you!"



She pulled back and the smile on her face was so bright and happy that he actually felt a spark of guilt surge through him, suddenly, for lying to the two of them so much. Well... not the two of them. Just Hermione.



"Er, thanks," Harry said, ducking his head and reaching up to rub the back of his neck nervously.



"So are you going to tell Sirius?" she asked excitedly and Harry just blinked at her in surprised shock.



"Oh, I er... I... don't know. I hadn't really thought about it much."



"Hadn't thought about it!" Hermione echoed in disbelief.



"Well, I mean, I sort of thought he might have the same sort of response as er... Ron," he said, shooting Ron an apologetic look. Ron's ears turned a bit pink and he looked slightly embarrassed.



"Don't be silly, Harry! Sirius will never think any less of you for having a snake as your animagus form. I'm sure he'll be so impressed to discover that you've managed to learn such an complex and difficult piece of magic, when you're still only fourteen! I mean, honestly Harry, this is truly an incredible accomplishment! I don't think you realize just how huge a deal this is!" Hermione ranted.



"Yeah... I guess, I'll tell him then... if we really do see him in person, that is. I'm not going to risk writing about this in a letter."



"Why not?" Ron asked.



"I don't want to risk the Ministry finding out," Harry explained, looking back to Ron.



"Huh? Why not?"



Hermione gave an exasperated huff. "Because then he would have to register, of course," she said before pausing and looking back at Harry. "What did professor Dumbledore say about that, anyway?"



"Not much, honestly. It's not actually required by law to register a person's animagus form until they turn 17, so I can't be prosecuted for not telling them, before then. But I'd like to stay unregistered for as long as possible, if I can manage."



"Why not just register?" Ron asked.



"Because then it's a matter of public record, and anyone and everyone will know that my animagus form is to turn into a great, huge, snake."



"Oh... yeah, I guess that would be a good reason to keep it quiet," Ron said.



"Anyway, I agree that it might be for the best not to register if you don't have you. But you should definitely tell Sirius if we see him next weekend," Hermione said in a rather bossy tone that Harry had long since grown used to.



He rolled his eyes but gave her a genial smile. "Fine, fine. I'll figure out how to tell him. Anyway... I really was wanting to take a walk around the castle to clear my head, so I'm going to head out for a bit."



"Want some company, mate?" Ron asked, looking hopeful.



"Nah, thanks Ron, but I was hoping for some peace and quiet. I'll be back in an hour, okay?"



Ron frowned but sighed and shrugged his shoulders. "Yeah, sure," he grumbled.



Harry removed the locking charm, and the privacy ward with a flick of his wand, picked his bag back up and escaped from the common room.



He was quite impressed with himself. Not only had he managed a pretty impressive bit of acting, but he had barely felt the urge to strangle either of them. Which really was quite the feat considering that they were keeping him from his dark arts training. Any excessive delay in his daily dark arts practice, and he would get edgy and snappy quite quickly. He was starting to feel more secure in his control over the dark magic that was growing ever stronger inside him.



He controlled it with greater and greater ease as more time passed, and it didn't leave him nearly as mindlessly crazed as it once did. It still felt unbelievably amazing though. The power truly was addictive and he loved every minute of it. There were some days – usually days where he had to attend History of Magic or Divination – where he spent the whole bloody day desperately looking forward to his time in the chamber.



He ducked behind a tapestry, slipped on his cloak and pulled out the Marauder's Map to check to make sure there wasn't anyone to worry about before making the quick trek to Myrtle's bathroom on the second floor.



He really needed it tonight. He was itching to blow off some steam, and he could feel his whole body vibrating with anticipation of what was to come. With a wicked grin plastered across his face, he headed for the chamber, and the basilisk corpse that lay within.



– –



§Ahh, Nagini. Just what I needed. All of this time alone is giving my mind too much time to wander.§



§What troubles you, my master?§ Nagini hissed as she slithered up the back of the armchair he was perched in beside the large window of the study. She continued down to lay her head upon the armrest and his hand came up to begin lightly stroking her soft, smooth scales.



§Many things trouble me, pet... Things I have been unable to do anything about for so long, that they trouble me greatly as I try to plan how to tackle them now. The time draws near that I will finally be able to resume my work, but I fear it may be too much, even for me. I have lost so much time... and even before the unfathomable mishap that left me in my pathetic half-life for over a decade, I had wasted so much time, and missed so many opportunities. I really should not let my mind dwell on these things, but on nights like this, I find myself unable to stop.§



§I'm not sssure that I understand, my masster. Can you tell me more? I wisssh to understand. I wissshh to help.§



He looked away with distant eyes, unfocused, and sighed, relaxing further into his seat as he trailed his fingers gently over her head.



§In my youth I was so naïve,§ he began quietly. §Thought I could save the world from itself,§ he chuckled humorlessly. §I didn't see the point in waiting until the End-Of-Days, to stop the coming doom. Why wait to stop the muggles when it happens? Why not just begin working on it now? Eradicate the worthless little monsters. Destroy them before they can destroy all of us. Ah... if only it were that easy.



§I long ago saw the error of my ways. My less than stellar upbringing by the wretched muggles at that orphanage clouded my judgment. I fell from my path, and I was sloppy. By the time I began to realize what I had done, I felt like I had wasted so much time... And then I heard that damned prophecy. I must admit I panicked. The prospect of having someone who would 'vanquish' me before I was able to make up for my mistakes and wasted time... Before I could truly set what needed to be done in motion... I couldn't allow it. I had to remove the threat before it could be fully realized. If that meant killing an infant, then so be it. It wasn't how I usually preferred to operate, but it was what needed to be done.



§But of course all my efforts accomplished was to delay me substantially further because of how it all blew up in my face... quite literally," he scoffed, bitterly. "I was left in nothingness for more than a decade. A decade where I was not dead, but not quite alive either. I could not continue my work, but Magic could not deem a new Lord to take over my role because I was still somewhat alive, and therefore retained my title and it's powers.



§Thus the Light's power flourished, and the balance was upset even further. What's worse, that damned fool Dumbledore has been in control of educating Britain's wizards, almost entirely unopposed, all this time, and he has pushed his skewed ideals into the minds of an entire generation of wizards.



§I fear the End is nearer than I ever thought possible. The more I learn about the advances the muggles have made while I was... away, the greater my concern grows. Their science had become powerful, my love. Too powerful. If they were to discover us... to discover magic, I think they just might have the tools to steal it from us. If not now, they will soon. Less than a decade or two, I imagine.



Once upon a time I sought out immortality to guarantee I could stay in the land of the living long enough to personally fight the battle that is to come, and now I wonder if that was ever even necessary. I think I just might see it during my natural life span. Then again, if I had not taken such steps, I would not have survived the incident with the Potters.§ he added bitterly with a scowl.



§I suppose one of my greatest fears is that my idiotic mistakes may have brought us closer to The End, sooner than we would have otherwise. Although the blame still lies almost entirely in that great fool Dumbledore's hands. I fear that there is not nearly enough time for me to set things right. That things have gone beyond even what I can control.§



§You are sssstrong masster. If anyone can do it... it isssss you.§



He chuckled and rubbed his tiny bony thumb along the top of her head. She turned her head into the massaging motion and hissed out in pleasure.



§My only consolation is that the wizarding world is so set in it's ways that it has changed very little since my idiotic mistake with the Potter brat. They are stubborn and slow to adapt. But now that will work against me. I must gain control of the Ministry, and quickly so that I can enact the changes that need to be made. Control must be attained with haste, so I am not sure I have time to set my people for a slow infiltration and a subtle take-over. My methods may need to be quite violent to succeed in time. However the more violence I must resort to, the stronger the Light will fight back.§



§But their own survival depends on what you must do, my masster! They are foolsss to fight againssst you!§



He snickered. §Yes, love, they are foolsss. But they are mostly ignorant and gullible. They believe what that old goat tells them, and nothing of what I would say.§



§Can you not simply explain it to them?§



He scoffed. §They would never believe the word of a Dark Lord. The old ways have been long lost to the lesser wizards. They have all been brainwashed into believing that dark equals evil, and light equals good. The good could only ever want what is right and just, and that could only ever lead to greater happiness and easier lives. But life is not easy, and survival requires sacrifices. They have forgotten where our magic comes from. They have forgotten the price we will have to pay, should the Light's current goals succeed. They are mindless fools, and the they must be controlled by force to bring about what is needed. They will never willingly go along with it because they do not understand the consequences.§



§All those who opposssse you will perish, my massster. None possess the power necesssary to stand againssst you.§



He smirked, §Ah love, you flatter me. But even I am not all powerful, no matter what I would have the rest of the world believe. It will be a great task to gain control over the wizarding world of Britain and then Europe. But no matter the importance of the Ministry, true success would be found in full control over the schools. After all... the children are our future. Only through re-education of the wizarding world's youth can we hope that those of Magic will survive the muggle's End-of-Days.§ he said and sighed heavily as he ran his tiny hand over his face and back over his bald head.



§I am so tired, Nagini... but I cannot let anyone see my weakness. If I am seen as weak, I will lose them, and that is not something that I can afford.§



§You are ssstrong, my masster. I know that you will prevail! The Magicssss themssselves chose you. You will sssshow the world your ssstrength and all of the wizardssss will cower at your feet!§



He chuckled and grinned. §Ah, Nagini... you always know how to cheer me up. You are right. I am being far too sentimental, and worrying on things that I can not yet control. I have been too distanced from my magic lately.§



§You time of return approachesssss... Your power only growss greater with each day.§



§Yes... yes it does,§ he said as a wicked grin spread across his face. §When I am fully returned I will show them all what true fear is, and I will force them all to see just how weak their reliance on the Light has made them. We will reign, and protect only those of magical blood from the doom that the muggles will bring down upon themselves.§





Harry woke up very... confused.



It had all made perfect sense... last night. When he was Voldemort, every word he had said and thought made sense and he understood the greater meanings behind all of it.



Now, however, it made almost no sense at all. The memories necessary to gave context to the conversation that Voldemort had had with his familiar, Nagini, did not come with the vision. And now that Harry was just Harry again, he had trouble making heads or tail of what he had experienced the night before.



It was also quite odd to experience such a contemplative and pensive mood as the Dark Lord. The man was so surprisingly... human.



He had felt like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. A huge task and monumental responsibilities that he felt bound to take care of. It didn't matter what was necessary in order to complete his task, it was worth it. The task was too important for anyone to stand in his way...



But what was the task?



It wasn't the first time that Voldemort had mentioned this task of his. But no matter how many visions Harry experienced in Voldemort's mind, he never got a complete enough picture to have even the slightest clue as to what it was.



Harry sat up in his bed and chewed on the inside of his cheek for a moment. Then, suddenly, he swing his legs over the side and went over to his desk. He pulled out a quill and a piece of parchment and sat down in his simple wooden desk chair.



He decided he really needed to start making some sense of these visions he had, and the best way to do that was to write some of it down.



Where:



Harry wrote the word on the parchment and then stuck the end of his quill into his mouth as he scrunched up his face, and sifted through his memories of all the visions he had had, thus far.



Large, grand, manor house on a hill outside a small town.



Muggle village



He paused again, trying to remember what the town was called. He'd thought it several times... and Wormtail had even brought the local paper to him... It was... little? Little something... Little Hangleton!



He wrote it down.



Who is with him/helping him:



Peter Pettigrew - 'Wormtail'



Barty -?



Nagini (snake)



Harry paused again and looked down at the parchment. He decided that he needed to just write down everything that he did know about what it was that Voldemort was trying to do. He had utterly discarded the idea that Voldemort was just out for world domination and muggle eradication.



He had clearly held a powerful hatred for muggles when he was younger, and at that time, he had thought that wiping out all the muggles would help him in this... task, whatever it was... but he had apparently given up on that plan.



But muggle killing had never been the goal, it had merely been something that he had though was a means to the goal, and had since changed his mind.



So what was the goal?



His task:



He talks about the 'End-of-Days'



Muggle Apocalypse?



It sounds like he's trying to stop it? Or prevent it?



If he fails, everyone dies... if he succeeds, wizards survive.



The muggles will die no matter what. There is no saving them. They're doomed no matter what we do.



Harry stopped and stared down at the parchment in bewilderment. He didn't even know where that had come from. He didn't recall Voldemort specifically thinking that, and he hadn't actually said it to Nagini either... and yet, Harry somehow knew it was true.



But how? Was it just because he had been in the man's head so much, and Voldemort knew it?



Were the muggles seriously doomed? What the hell was going to happen to cause all this, and why in Merlin's name was Voldemort of all people the one tasked to stop it?



Voldemort blames it on Dumbledore



Harry wrote the words and sat back in his chair to look down at them. He nibbled aimlessly on the end of his quill as he tried to search his memories for some clue as to why Voldemort blamed Dumbledore... A spark flashed through his mind and the instant later, his quill was back onto the parchment.



Dumbledore wants to save the muggles. He doesn't realize he can't.



If he tries, we all die. We can only save ourselves.



Again, Harry didn't know where the knowledge came from, only that he knew inside him that it was true. It made some sort of sense too. He could totally imagine Dumbledore doing something absolutely idiotic, in an attempt to save the muggles. Even if it meant putting us all at risk. Did Dumbledore know the same things that Voldemort did?



Obviously not all of it... at least not the part about it being impossible to save the muggles. Or perhaps he knew, but wanted to have faith that he could save them somehow anyway.



But save them from what?



Harry grumbled in frustration. He only knew bits and pieces of information and it was all out of context.



In any case, it was now blatantly obvious to Harry that there was a whole hell of a lot more to the last war than Voldemort killing muggles and wanting to rule the wizarding world. He wasn't just a megalomaniac. There was a much deeper motive behind the scenes that either, no one knew about, or no one was talking about.



Harry refocused on the parchment, deciding to move onto the next topic.



Why did he come after me as a child?



This was another point that obviously had some history to it. Several times Voldemort had made reference to a 'prophecy' but it had always been in passing before. Last night he had gone into more detail when speaking to Nagini. Whatever this prophecy was, it sounded like it had said that someone would 'vanquish' Voldemort... and that someone was... Harry?



That was an extremely difficult thought to process, and an even harder thought for Harry to put down on parchment.



It would explain why Voldemort had come after Harry, specifically; why he had come himself, instead of sending his Death Eaters to do it for him. Voldemort had theorized that Harry's mum had used some old blood magic to protect Harry from Voldemort's killing curse. Harry's parents had known that Voldemort was after them. They had gone under the Fidelius, after all, to hide from the Dark Lord. And his mum knew that Voldemort was after Harry, specifically, if she had been researching ways to protect him with old blood magic.



He huffed and put his quill to parchment.



A prophecy was made that said I would defeat him. -? (Hard to believe, but okay...)



He set out to kill me when I was an infant - before I became a 'threat'



He paused again and frowned.



Why didn't I die?



Mum's dark blood magic?



He sat back and reread everything he'd written so far.



His task:



He talks about the 'End-of-Days'



Muggle apocalypse?



It sounds like he's trying to stop it? Or prevent it?



If he fails, everyone dies... if he succeeds, wizards survive.



Muggles will die no matter what. There is no saving them.



They're doomed no matter what we do.



Voldemort blames it on Dumbledore



Dumbledore wants to save the muggles. He doesn't realize he can't.



If he tries, we all die. We can only save ourselves.



He paused there and ran his hand through his hair. His thoughts on it were more organized now, and he felt like he had a slightly better grasp on things, but he also felt like he had a mountain of new questions, and no idea where to find answers.



For a split second, he considered asking Dumbledore, but instantly snorted and scoffed the idea away. Dumbledore would never tell him. He was too young, Harry thought with a sneer.



And even if he wasn't 'too young', he doubted the old goat would ever be that honest with him. The man was a sneaky, manipulative old fart and Harry didn't trust him at all.



He wondered suddenly how much of that distrust was really his own. He knew some of it was from his companion, but that was mostly because his companion disapproved of how Dumbledore had handled Harry. But Harry knew, on some level at least, that a great deal of his distrust for Dumbledore had absolutely nothing to do with how he had been treated by his headmaster.



Was this a feeling that had bled over from his visions as Voldemort? It didn't seem like he had had enough of the visions for emotions and opinions of Voldemort to have 'bled' into his own through them. But then again, he had to admit that he didn't really understand the strange connection he shared with the Dark Lord.



And he hadn't exactly been fighting against the visions or the Dark Lord's influence either. Harry had a few theories as to why his visions were no longer painful for him. His first theory was that it was because his magical affinity had been changing. He was no longer a light wizard. In fact, Harry had come to fully accept the fact that he was quickly on his way to being a dark wizard, and no matter how badly he knew it should bother him, he just couldn't find it in himself to think this was a bad thing. So he theorized that, being a dark wizard himself, made it so that it no longer hurt to be inside the mind of another dark wizard.



Still, that didn't fully explain it. His affinity had only recently really gone dark, but the visions hadn't hurt since...



Since he pulled down the barriers around his companion and accepted him...



Harry frowned and twisted up his mouth in thought.



He really wasn't sure if he was comfortable exploring this line of thought, but he also knew he had been avoiding it for too long. He knew that his companion was the source of his parseltongue ability. He knew that his parseltongue ability came from the power that Voldemort had left in him when he was a baby. But he also knew that his companion was a sentient entity. A separate personalty from his own. A separate person, inside him.



A separate person that came from Voldemort.



No... a piece of Voldemort.



Harry clenched his eyes shut, forcefully, momentarily wishing the thought had never actually crossed through his mind.



'Oh, come on, Harry. You can't pretend you didn't already know.' he thought to himself, as he sighed and sank back in his chair.



He decided not to dwell on it just yet. He would... he would discuss it with his companion that night when he went to bed. As it was, it was still very early and his dorm mates would be waking up soon and expecting him to go to breakfast with them.



He picked up the parchment and folded it in half. He moved over to his trunk and hissed the password for the third compartment. He checked on Rita's jar and gave it a quick, violent shake, jarring the fatigued beetle awake and probably scaring the crap out of her.



He snickered as she quickly cowered along the bottom and then put the jar back in his trunk. It had been a week and a half since the task and other then conjuring a small amount of water into the jar, he hadn't given her a thing, and had left her in the pitch black of his trunk the whole time. He picked out one of the parselmagic books he had taken from the chamber and placed the folded parchment inside it and then put the book back inside his trunk.



After making sure that it was locked securely, he grabbed his toiletries and made his way to the loo.



– –



That day was Friday and the past week and a half had been quiet and boring, up until his vision that previous night. Since the task he had spent an hour each afternoon down in the chamber doing his dark magic training, but without the need to practice swimming in the lake, or any other training related to a tournament, he found he had a surprising amount of free time. Thanks to the tournament and his overloaded schedule, he had gotten into the habit of getting his homework done quickly and efficiently as possible, and that habit had not changed.



Of course, the fact that Harry didn't have all this stuff occupying his time, all of a sudden, or the tournament, as an excuse for ditching Ron and Hermione, they both expected him to spend all this new found free time with them. Their excessive clingyness had made going down to the chamber a bit more difficult, but he had managed. Unfortunately he had not yet found a block of time large enough that he felt it would be sufficient to deal with Rita. He wanted a few solid hours for that because he wanted to enjoy himself without worry of being missed.



He had another thing on his mind that day though. The following day was the Hogsmeade visit that Sirius had asked for the date of, but he still had yet to hear back from his godfather since he had replied.



Ron and Harry left their dorm room and headed down to the common room to find Hermione there waiting for them. The three of them then made their way down to the Great Hall for breakfast.



As soon as the post owls began arriving, the small brown owl that Harry recognized as Sirius's appeared in the air, and soared straight for Harry.



He looked at in with a mixture of stunned surprise, excitement, and considerable worry. Sirius visiting in person would bring about a number of potential problems, and some real, legitimate concerns.



Harry reached out and took the letter from the bird's leg and unrolled it.



"Be at stile at end of road out of Hogsmeade (past Dervish and Banges) at two o'clock on Saturday afternoon. Bring as much food as you can."



Harry turned the parchment over to make sure he hadn't missed anything on the back. There was nothing else. Just that one bit of text.



He sighed in slight exasperation and shook his head.



"He's out of his mind," he quietly moaned. "I just hope he knows what he's doing. Coming to visit me isn't worth the risk of getting caught," he grumbled as he rolled the letter back up and gave the owl a bit of bacon.



Harry resumed his meal and began to mull over what the next day would likely entail. One thing he would have to worry about was the fact that Hermione and Ron would undoubtedly expect to come with him. In fact they were already making plans, in hushed whispers while he ate quietly beside them.



Sirius would expect to discuss what Harry had seen and observed about Snape and Karkaroff, but Harry hadn't told Ron or Hermione about any of his suspicions that Snape might actually be an ex-Death Eater. Maybe not even 'ex'.



Then there was his concerns about the Moody-Crouch thing. It was definitely really weird that Mr. Crouch was at Hogwarts all the time, and that he was doing it disguised as Moody. The old man had struck Harry as a bit odd, during the Goblet of Fire selection thing... but... Harry shook his head. It was weird, and confusing, and he knew there was a lot more going on than he had figured out yet.



But he wasn't sure if he wanted to tell Sirius about any of it until he had a better idea of what was going on.



There was one other rather significant weight of guilt pressing against the back of his mind though.



Harry knew where Wormtail was.



Or at least, he knew enough that the traitor could easily be found. A big mansion on a hill outside Little Hangleton. Wormtail was there almost constantly, except for when Voldemort sent him out on little errands into town.



If they caught Wormtail, then Sirius could be exonerated. He could be a free man and wouldn't have to be on the run anymore.



But Harry couldn't give away Wormtail's location without giving away Voldemort's location with it...



Harry frowned and put his fork down on the plate. Why wasn't he giving up Voldemort's location? The thought hadn't even occurred to him. He hadn't even considered giving the man up to Dumbledore. This would be the best time to do it. Voldemort was still fairly weak, and his body was hardly equipped for dueling – although Harry knew that even in his little homunculus, Voldemort would still be formidable.



But Harry... Harry didn't want Voldemort to be caught.



Bloody hell! He didn't want Voldemort caught! When the hell had that happened? And what would it mean? Harry's magical affinity had gone dark. He didn't even try to deny that to himself. In fact, he was rather enjoying it. He found himself frequently empathizing with the Dark Lord. His growing deep fascination with learning old and obscure dark magics was incredibly similar to how Voldemort felt on the same subject.



He was reading the same books that Voldemort had read when he was Harry's age, and spending all of his free time down in the same hidden room in the chamber that Riddle had spent his time in. It made him feel oddly connected to the Dark Lord – even beyond the obvious connection they shared through his scar. Hell, if he was being honest with himself, he was in awe of the man's power and knowledge of the dark arts. When he was Voldemort during his visions he could feel the power he possessed and it was incredible.



And then there was that whole 'deeper motives' thing he had just begun to understand.



Even when he thought about the fact that Voldemort had come after him as a baby, and had killed his parents, Harry couldn't quite muster up the strong force of anger he once had when reminded of that fact. He knew now that Voldemort did it as an act of self-preservation. He wasn't just slaughtering some innocent family for spite, or for the fun of it. He was trying to protect himself from his prophecized killer.



But he killed my parents! It's because of him that I ended up with the Dursley's!



...No. I ended up with the Dursley's because Dumbledore put me there. Voldemort took my parents away, but I still could have had a happy childhood if Dumbledore had just checked up on me once or twice and seen how I was being treated... He could have placed me with a family that would treat me decent, but he didn't.



But.. even if he had known how I was treated all those years, Dumbledore wouldn't have let me leave them. He knows now, how I'm treated, and he still makes me go back! He doesn't care how I'm treated at all, as long as his precious weapon is safe from Death Eaters. Hell... he very well DID know how they treated me all those years. He could have known and left me there anyway!



Harry felt prickles of pain in his palms and looked down to realize he had clenched his hands into such tight fists that he now had four crescent shaped gouges into each of his palms from his fingernails. He quickly unclenched his hands and stared down at the tiny beads of blood forming at the tiny wounds.



Weapon.



That's what he was to Dumbledore, wasn't it? He was the one who had been prophecized to destroy Voldemort – Dumbledore's ultimate enemy. Harry was nothing more than a weapon to be used to defeat Voldemort.



He could feel his anger boiling inside his veins all all the pieces began to fit together in his mind. His magic was beginning to swirl, dangerously around him and the plates and silverware on the table around him began to rattle. Even behind him on the Hufflepuff table. Harry blinked and his eyes widened in horror at what he was doing. He was going to blow everything if he let his rage get out of control in somewhere as public as the Great Hall!



He locked his jaw and took in slow breaths through his nose, trying to calm himself down and pull the magic back inside him, and under his control.



"Blimey! What was that?" he heard Ron's voice as if it were underwater. His head was still pounding from his fury, and the strain of holding it back when it so desperately wanted to explode. He was angry. He wanted to hurt someone.



"I don't know... that was odd," came Hermione's muffled voice next. Some more murmurs passed around him, but he was too busy trying to think of something less infuriating than Dumbledore, to pay them any mind. But no matter how hard he tried, his mind just kept swirling around the idea of the old goat's manipulations.



He had treated Harry like a pawn! The world was a giant chessboard to Dumbledore and people were his pieces. Voldemort was much the same, but the Death Eaters knew they were being used. They knew they were pieces in a grander scheme and participated willingly.



Dumbledore tricked people into playing his game for him.



He had tricked Harry. Tricked him again and again. Used him. Manipulated him. Lying deceitful old man!



"Harry, are you alright?" Hermione's concerned voice broke through his haze and he looked up at her and blinked owlishly.



"Huh?"



"You... don't look so good. Are you okay?"



"I..." Harry paused and took a slow breath. "No. I'm feeling kind of sick, to be honest with you... I think I'm gonna beg off from History of Magic. I think I'd pass out if I showed up, anyway. I need some more sleep. I think everything is starting to catch up with me. Can you tell Professor Binns why I'm gone?"



Hermione looked stunned, but then it was instantly replaced with concern. "Of course! What do you think is wrong? Do you need to go to the hospital wing?"



"I just really need some rest, I think. I'll be okay."



"Will you be skiving off Charms too?" Ron asked from across the table.



"He's not skiving, Ronald!" Hermione snapped.



"I... I'm not sure. If I'm feeling better by second block I'll head in, but if not, will you let Professor Flitwick know why I'm gone?"



"Of course!" Hermione said.



"I hope for your sake that you're better before the end of lunch," Ron began to say through a mouth full of food. "If you miss potions, Snape'll give you a detention – sick or not."



Harry rolled his eyes, and gave them a weak grin. "Yeah, I'll make sure to drag myself out of bed by then. Hopefully I'll be feeling better by then."



He began to stand up and grabbed his bag.



"Thanks guys, I'll see you later."



Hermione looked legitimately worried, but let him go.



He left the Great Hall and hurried towards the Grand Staircase. The anger was still boiling away inside, just under the surface, and he knew exactly what would help him burn off his rage. A frighteningly evil smirk graced his lips for a second before he masked it away.



Time to go pay a little beetle a visit.



– –




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