Descent into Darkness

BY : Athey1024
Category: Harry Potter AU/AR > Slash - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 69308
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



– –



One of the things he enjoyed most about Moody's Defense Against the Dark Arts classes was that they were often very active, and focused on practical work. Moody didn't spend the entire class block lecturing, or having them read from their textbooks. He almost always set them to actively practicing spells in class.



The class was currently spaced around the room, all partnered off, and practicing the disarming charm. The thing about the class was that it had an odd number of students, so they could never get an even partnering set up. Since, by this point, Harry knew most of the spells that Moody was teaching the 4th year students, he had taken to standing back and observing in the class, or sometimes even reading.



'Moody', however, had also taken the opportunity to take Harry aside and teach him some slightly more advanced spells from time to time. Something which Harry had appreciated greatly. He now wondered exactly what the man's motive was behind the action. For that matter, 'Moody' had been trying to help him with the tournament the whole year.



Harry had come to the realization that he was not entered in the tournament so that he would die in it. Voldemort needed him in order to complete his resurrection ritual. So killing Harry was most definitely not the immediate goal. So why enter him in the tournament at all? Harry didn't know. But he intended to find out.



In fact, there were a lot of things that Harry wanted to find out, and his ultimate conclusion was that there was only one man who could really answer all those questions, and that man was Voldemort himself.



The rest of the students in his defense class were scattered around the room, all weakly attempting to disarm their partners, and most of them were failing miserably. It was quite honestly pathetic. Harry sneered at their pitiful attempts and rolled his eyes. He pushed himself off the wall that he had been leaning against and walked casually towards Moody, who was correcting Seamus's wand movement.



"Professor," Harry said in a quiet voice.



'Moody' turned and narrowed his one proper eye at Harry. "Yes, Potter? You need something?"



Harry glanced back and forth to see if any of the nearby students were paying them any attention. When he was sure that they weren't he leaned in a bit closer. "I was hoping that I could speak with you after class. Privately. It's important."



'Moody' looked suspicious – but he always looked suspicious, so this wasn't much of a change – and finally he nodded his head curtly.



Harry grinned lightly and took a few steps away and 'Moody' refocused on a Ravenclaw boy and started yelling at him for his poor pronunciation.





"You coming, mate?" Ron asked as he slung his bag over his shoulder and started heading for the door of the defense classroom.



"Moody asked me to stay after class," Harry said, as he finished back up his notes.



"What's he want?" Ron asked looking confused. Hermione's head came up and her eyes were filled with curiosity but she didn't say anything.



Harry shrugged. "Won't know till I go talk to him, will I? I'll catch up with you guys later. I may be late to diner if whatever he has to talk about takes a while."



Ron shrugged and started to leave, but it was obvious from Hermione's face that she was dying to ask some questions. Harry pointedly ignored her and turned to head back to the front of the class where Moody was standing beside his desk. His one normal eye was narrowed on him suspiciously, while his magical one was trained on him intently.



Harry waited until both Ron and Hermione had gone, leaving only he and 'Professor Moody' left in the room before he turned and smirked at the grizzled-looking old man.



"I asked you to stay after, did I, Potter?"



"I do apologize, sir, but their curiosity has been getting rather bothersome lately. Hermione especially, has been getting exceptionally nosy," Harry said with slightly annoyed look to him as he glared back towards the exit of the classroom. He refocused on 'Moody' and grinned. "Can we take this into your office?"



The suspicion in 'Moody's' eye grew several measures but he nodded his head and motioned with his arm for Harry to head towards the door at the rear of the classroom that come into the back of Moody's office.



The two entered the cluttered room and Moody sat down in his chair. Harry noticed that the older wizard had his wand clasped loosely in his hand and was twisting it in between his thumb and forefinger.



Harry hesitated before sitting in the chair opposite the desk and glanced at his professor. "Do you mind if I cast a privacy ward?"



The corner of Moody's mouth turned up in apparent amusement. He waved his hand. "Be my guest, Potter."



Harry pocketed his wand and held his hand out, palm facing towards the front of the office. He slowly began to hiss out a sequence of words to form a rather powerful privacy ward over the room. It would not only place a silencing spell over the room, so no one on the outside could hear them; and lock the doors; it would also set off an alarm the second anyone approached either of the doors to the office. It was a fair bit more powerful and useful than the 'normal' magic privacy ward he knew, and he had no qualms using parselmagic in front of 'Moody'.



Once he was done and he turned back to the professor, he could see the surprise and curiosity glowing in his eyes.



"Interesting piece of magic, there Potter... I must say, I'm more than a slight bit curious as to where you learned it."



Harry grinned and let himself fall gracelessly into the chair opposite Moody's desk. "From a book."



"Mind your cheek, Potter. Not gonna give me more than that?"



Harry chuckled and shrugged. "It was a book that once belonged to Salazar Slytherin. Before me, the last owner was a man named Tom Riddle. Heard of him?"



"Slytherin! Where in Merlin's name did you find a book that used to be owned by Slytherin?" Moody exclaimed, not responding to the second half of the question.



"Down in the Chamber of Secrets, actually. You didn't answer my other question. Ever heard of a man named Tom Riddle?"



"Riddle?" Moody paused, looking thoughtful, although the man's expressions were somewhat hard to differentiate given how scared and messed up his face was. "Can't say that I've ever heard the name. Down in the chamber, you say?"



"Yeah. The chamber. And I suppose I'm not too surprised that you hadn't heard the name," Harry paused and sat up a bit straighter, giving the old wizard a calculating look. "Before I say what I've got to say next, I want you to promise that you'll hear me out before you start throwing curses."



'Moody's body tensed, and his grip on his wand visibly tightened. "What do you want, Potter?"



"I want you to take me to him. Screw this waiting till the end of term, or the last task, or whenever the hell it is you lot were planning on taking me. Take me now."



"What the hell are you talking about Potter!" Moody spat with a tone and stance that spoke of ignorance and confusion, but Harry could see the tension and wariness in the other man's pose and demeanor.



"Voldemort. Take me to him. I'm volunteering my services. My blood. Whatever the hell he needs for this resurrection ritual of his. He can have it." Harry paused, and then smirked. "Well... up to a point. I'd really rather not end up dead. But I suppose that's part of the reason I'm volunteering."



Moody was standing before Harry was even done talking and he had his wand trained on him. Harry left his wand in his pocket in hopes of it being a sign of non-aggression. He was fairly confident in the parselmagic shield charm he knew, as well as his ability to dodge.



Harry raised his hands, palms out to show he wasn't putting up a fight. "I asked that you hear me out," he reminded the older wizard, loudly.



"And why, exactly are you coming to me about this suicidal little request of yours?" Moody spat, still attempting to feign ignorance.



"Because I know you're not Alastor Moody," Harry said, as he continued to sit in the chair with his empty hands bared. "You're Barty Crouch Jr. Convicted Death Eater, who was supposed to have died in Azkaban about a decade ago. Why you're not dead, and why you're here, I can only guess. I figured maybe you dad broke you out and left your mum there in your place. Couldn't quite figure out why, but I suppose that really isn't any of my business, is it?"



'Moody' was strafing slowly out from behind his desk and kept his wand trained on Harry the whole time.



"And how, exactly, did you work all that out, Potter?"



"A whole slew of different sources that I pieced together on my own. Most of those sources, no one else could have access to, so you really don't have to worry about anyone else working it out the same way."



"Is that so?" 'Moody' spat, disbelievingly.



"Look, Crouch. I've known that you were impersonating Moody for months now. I didn't realize that you were the same Barty that was working for the Dark Lord though. I only just figured that out this last weekend, which is why I finally figured I'd come and have this lovely little chat with you. Now, if I had been so inclined to turn you over to the old goat, I would have done so ages ago. Dumbledore has no idea about any of this, and it is entirely my intention to keep him in the dark."



"And you think you can just offer yourself to the Dark Lord and then walk away from it, unharmed?" 'Moody' sneered before chuckling darkly.



Harry shrugged. "I think I have things to offer him. I know he wants me dead, but I think I can be of a greater value to him alive. I also happen to know that this resurrection of his could be more powerful if I participate willingly."



'Moody' looked at Harry skeptically and paused. "How do you even know about it? And what makes you think your cooperation would make any difference at all?"



"I have visions. I see into his head sometimes. It's random, and admittedly, I have no control over it at all, but I've been in his head several times this year."



"You? In the Dark Lord's head?" he hissed, disbelievingly.



Harry rolled his eyes and raised one hand to tap at his scar. "This is more than ornamental, you know. I'm connected to him. He left a bit of himself behind that night when he tried to kill me. This year I stopped fighting against that bit and started accepting it instead. It's brought about a real change of heart in me."



'Moody' gave him a long, hard look. "Is that so?"



Harry just shrugged and rose his eyebrows a bit into his forehead before relaxing back into the chair.



"So basically, I just want to see him. I need to tell him some things, and honestly, I'd like to ask him some things too. We also need to work on this ritual of his because I'm positive that once he learns about my decision to say 'eff you' to the old goat, he'll need to make some adjustments to it.



The old ritual he was planning on using at the end of the year would really only work if my magical affinity was light... which it's not."



"Really, now? Has been Dumbledore's golden-boy been tinkering in the dark arts?"



Harry curled his lips into a fierce sneer. "I am not Dumbledore's anything. And I certainly know my way around the dark arts."



"And how exactly have you been able to to practice any of this dark magic of yours? The wards around the school notify the old man of any dark magic cast."



Harry snickered. "Nothing to be worried about. I've actually been having quite a bit of fun down the the Chamber. Best thing about it is that it's beyond the reach of the school's wards. Dumbledore doesn't know a damn thing about what I do down there. And you know, while we're on the subject, I've been incredibly curious about that stunt you pulled at the start of year where you cast the Unforgivables in class. Dumbledore had to be aware of what you did – he had to have thrown a fit over that!"



'Moody' snorted. "He got over it."



Harry chuckled. "Awesome. So. Me going to see the Dark Lord. My greatest asset to him will be if I can maintain a cover here after everything is said and done, so if we can work my visits to him to be as inconspicuous as possible, that would be better."



'Moody' gave him a speculative look. "You're really serious about this, Potter? You know you very well be going straight into you death? There's absolutely no guarantee to you that you'll be allowed to leave alive."



Harry shrugged dismissively. "I'm pretty confident."



'Moody' gave a disbelieving snort. "Cocky brat."



"So do you have a way to get to him? A portkey or something? And do you have a way to contact him?"



"Of course I do. But in order to use the portkey we have to go beyond the boundaries of the castle and it's grounds."



"Are you aware of the secret passage way down the hall from here?" Harry asked suddenly, and 'Moody' looked a bit surprised by the sudden question.



"Secret passage?"



"Yeah, just down the hall from the defense classroom is a statue of a one-eyed witch with a hump-back. If you tap her back with your wand and say dissendium, it'll open up and reveal the entrance to a secret passage. It goes down a ways and eventually leads to a tunnel that goes all the way to Hogsmeade. It comes out in the cellar of Honeydukes. About half-way through the tunnel, you escape the reach of the castle's anti-apparition and anti-portkey wards. We can just slip down there, go half way through the tunnel, and take the portkey from there. Is it a two-way portkey?"



"Of course it is. And you really seem to have thought this through."



"Well, I've been researching and planning it for a while now."



"You've been planning on going to the Dark Lord?" 'Moody' said with surprise and a tinge of respect.



Harry paused and looked thoughtful as he cocked his head to the side slightly. "Not... exactly... But... I suppose a part of me has been considering it for quite a while. Longer than I really realized it, anyway. I feel... drawn to him. I didn't used to understand it, but I do now," he chuckled and shrugged. "I suppose it all comes back to this," he said as he reached up and tapped his forehead again. "I'm bound to him. Trying to deny it has only brought me trouble, my whole life. Ever since I started to embrace it, I've been much better off, as far as I'm concerned."



"Hmph..." 'Moody' snorted. "Alright then... I'll contact the Dark Lord tonight... I can't say I'm all that comfortable with letting you leave here, knowing what you know..."



Harry rolled his eyes. "I've known what I know for ages now. If I haven't gone to the old goat before now, I'm certainly not about to go do it now."



"If you've known for ages then why haven't you come forward before now?"



"I told you – I knew that you were impersonating Moody with Polyjuice, but I didn't realize that you were Barty Crouch Jr."



"Who did you think I was?"



"Your father, honestly. Which really only confused me further."



"My father!"



"I've got this charmed map of the school. It shows a small dot to represent every person in the castle at any given time, and has their names listed beside the dot. Where I would expect it to say Alastor Moody – say, when you were at meals or teaching class and I was looking straight at you, instead it said 'Bartemius Crouch'. The map only gives first and last names. No middle names and no extra bits like Jr. or Sr."



"Do you now? Sounds like a rather interesting magical artifact... does anyone else have access to this thing?"



"No. I keep it on me at all times. And it's the only one. My dad made it back when he was a student here."



'Moody's' eyebrows rose a bit, to show he was mildly impressed. "So how did you finally figure out who I was?"



"Well I've seen you, as 'Barty' in my visions from Voldemort. I'd heard him refer to you as 'Barty'. But since I knew what you looked like, and you most certainly didn't look like the old man that I associated the name 'Bartemius Crouch' with, it never even occurred to me that the 'Bartemius Crouch' impersonating Moody could be the same Barty that was working for the Dark Lord. This last weekend I was talking with someone and found out a bit about your dad's backstory. Someone was talking about your being caught as a Death Eater and getting sent off to Azkaban, and that someone referred to you as 'Barty'. It simply turned on the light switch in my head."



"Light switch?"



"Sorry. Muggle thing. Nevermind. Anyway, my er... friends are gonna start getting suspicious if I take too much longer," Harry said as he reached into his bag and began to dig around. 'Moody' tensed and watched him carefully. Harry brought out a piece of folded parchment and placed it on Moody's desk.



"What's this?" 'Moody' asked, eying it skeptically.



"It's a charmed parchment. Anything you write on it will disappear and appear on its counterpart, which I have here," Harry said as he held up another identical piece of parchment. "It's not perfect, but I was a bit rushed. Anyone could read it, for example, so don't go leaving it around, and when you write something on it to me, keep it inconspicuous."



"I'm not a moron, Potter," 'Moody' snapped.



Harry smirked. "Obviously not. Honestly, I think you're pretty brilliant, even if you're not really Alastor Moody. You've been my favorite defense teacher, second only to the werewolf that taught us last year."



'Moody' snorted.



"So," Harry continued. "I'll check my parchment as often as I can for any messages from you. If you get word from the Dark Lord on when you and I can show up there, let me know. My house mates are getting a bit annoying in their curiosity about my frequent disappearances, but they've also become rather used to them. I usually disappear down into the chamber every bloody day, so if I suddenly disappear to some other place instead, no ones going to notice. Still can't be out past curfew though, or even more people will start asking questions."



"I'll take that into consideration. What's your schedule like, Potter?"



"Mondays, Thursday and Fridays are completely full. My last block on Tuesdays is open, but Wednesday I'm free from lunch on since I've only got Charms. My standard habit for the last few months is to head down to the chamber as soon as I'm done with dinner and not come back for about an hour and a half. My dorm mates are used to that, and it won't look strange if I'm gone for an hour after dinner most nights."



'Moody' nodded, as he memorized the information. "Alright, Potter. Now get the hell out of here."



Harry snickered and stood up. "I see that I've worn out my welcome. I'll be in touch."



– –



"What was that all about, Harry?" Ron asked as Harry sat down at the Gryffindor table in the great hall several minutes later.



"Moody wants to offer me some advanced lessons during and outside of class. Seeing as how I've already taught myself all of the 4th year defense spells that we're learning in class, and I'm going up against people three years ahead of me in schooling for the tournament, he figured it could do me a lot of good," Harry lied effortlessly as he began to pile food onto his plate.



"That's fantastic Harry," Hermione said softly, although the enthusiasm in her voice seemed a bit forced.



"Yeah, sounds wicked," Ron said, "Moody is a brilliant teacher... totally mental, but brilliant. But will this mean even more homework and stuff? I mean, you're already so busy all the time..."



"I'll probably be doing the extra defense lessons on Wednesdays when I've got the whole afternoon off. My evenings are starting to free up now so I may be spending some of them with Moody instead."



"Your evenings are freeing up?" Hermione asked, innocently and pointedly not making eye contact. Harry's eyes narrowed minutely, but he kept his overall disposition amicable.



"Well, most of my old projects are running dry, now that the second task is over. Some of the things I was studying weren't really 'done' with the task, and they were interesting so I kept working on them, anyway. I did sort of stumble upon a new thing though."



Hermione looked like she was struggling between being ecstatic that he was telling them things, and being frustrated by how vague he was being.



"New thing?" Hermione asked.



Harry looked up at her with consideration for a moment. Harry had spent the previous night with companion... or Voldemort's soul shard... or whatever, trying to brainstorm on some ideas of how to deal with his 'friends' and specifically, how to deal with Hermione.



She was only going to grow more and more suspicious of him if he didn't do something soon. His companion had suggested involving her in his most recent project. Specifically, his attempt to learn Old Aldric and translate the ancient book that was hidden beneath Slytherin's desk. The idea was to let her think that he was finally sharing something important with her, to set her off all of the other things he was working on. And as a side benefit, he would get some help translating the book.



Harry had instantly been wary of involving her with it, but his companion had insisted that the information that they would translate would only enlighten her, and would pose no threat to Harry, or what he was doing.



He wondered what exactly that meant, but if there was anyone left in his life that he honestly trusted, it was his companion.



Feeling resigned, Harry sighed, reached into his bag and pulled out the book on Old Aldric. "It's an ancient language that was spoken by the British elves before they left this realm. I found a book that was written in their language, and I've been trying to translate it. This," he said, motioning to the book, "is a book on the language and how to learn it."



Hermione's face was alight with that excited glow she got when exposed to some great new learning opportunity.



"Harry this is incredible!" she exclaimed, snatching the book and running her fingers over it reverently. "The elves, you said? Oh Harry! This is remarkable! There is hardly anything left in recorded history about them! It's all myth and legend! You seriously found a book that was written in their language?"



"Yeah, but it's falling apart it's so old. I'm hesitant to even move it. I've started just copying it so that I can translate from the copy and not have to man-handle the original so much. I'll bring you a copy of it as I get it ready."



She gasped and looked as if she were about to burst with excitement. "Oh Harry! This is so incredible! Where on earth did you ever find such a thing?"



"Sorry Hermione. Not telling that part. I'm letting you in, but only so much. Prove to me it's not a mistake and I might tell you more." Harry said in a straight, serious tone before turning his attention back to his plate.



Hermione's excitement came up short, her brow furrowed, and she looked thoughtful for a moment. Finally she nodded her head in determination. "Alright Harry. I'll prove that you can trust me again. Let me help you."



Harry looked up at her, feeling rather skeptical, but he nodded in response.



Ron, sat there, watching the two of them through their entire exchange looking utterly confused.



"What in Merlin's name are you two on about?" he finally asked, when his confusion became so frustrating that he could no longer remain silent.



"Harry found a book written by the elves!" Hermione said with the excited glow returning to her face.



"House elves?" Ron asked, twisting up his face?



"No, Ron! Not House Elves! High Elves! The ancient elves of Britain!"



"Oh, that's a load of malarkey! There's no such thing," Ron said dismissively.



"There was to Ron! And this here is proof! It's a book all about their language!" she said, holding it up in front of him defiantly.



"That could be a book about anyone's old language. What proof is there that that came from High Elves? And if High Elves really existed, then where did they go? How come no one has ever seen one?"



Harry twisted up his face. "I think they left... to another realm, or something."



"Why would they do that? That's just silly."



"I'm still working on that part. Although, I think that the story in this book actually talks about it..." Harry said, hesitantly.



Hermione gasped and looked at him with even greater excitement. "Are you serious, Harry!"



He shrugged. "I think so, actually. It seems to be an origin story. It talks about what happened to the elves, and how human's first got magic."



Ron snorted. "Fairytales."



Hermione scowled angrily at Ron before turning back to Harry. "Harry this is an absolutely astounding discovery. I'm dying to know how you came about it, but I'll hold my tongue for now, alright?"



Harry grinned and nodded his head. "That would be appreciated."



"Can I borrow this book to start reading it?" Hermione said, looking down at the Old Aldric book in front of her.



"Actually, I can just spell you a copy. That book predates the copyright charms that are on all the books in the library, so there's nothing stopping us from just making you a copy."



Hermione gasped again. "You can perform the book copy charm! Harry that's an incredible bit of transfiguration! That's beyond NEWT level! It's hard enough to conjure something from nothing, let along permanent conjuring, and of something as detailed and thick as a book!"



"Well, I won't lie and pretend that it's easy. I've had more than a few failures, but I've been practicing quite a bit lately and I'm pretty sure I can make you a copy of this one."



Hermione gave him a speculative look. "You've been practicing the book copying charm?" she asked, with mild confusion. "Why?"



"I've been copying some books," he said with a smirk and a pointed look, silently reminding her of her promise not to ask too many questions.



She huffed a bit in frustration of being denied answers to her questions and pouted, but didn't press.



Harry grinned. This would probably work pretty well. Hermione had a desperate thirst for new knowledge, and as long as he was holding this elf stuff over her head, she was going to be a lot more cooperative.



"Anyway, once we get back to the common room, I'll work on spelling you a copy of the Old Aldric book, and you can start reading it. Unfortunately, the other book is far too fragile to risk using the spell to copy it so I'm having to do it a page at a time. It's taking me ages, so I'll need to disappear again tonight so I can keep working on it.



"That's where you were yesterday?" Hermione asked in a quiet voice. Harry huffed.



"Yes. That is where I was yesterday."



"Why couldn't you just have told me that?"



"Because you want to know where specifically I'm going – right?"



She nodded hesitantly.



"And you want to know where I've found these books?"



Again, she nodded.



"Well I can't tell you. And as things stand right now, I don't intend to tell you. If you can work with me, without knowing those details, then we're golden. If not, then there's nothing more we can do about any of this."



"I'll work with you Harry!" she said with an air of desperation in her voice. "I'm going to prove to you that you can trust me. I just... I want to make sure that you're not doing anything that might be putting you in danger. I mean... you aren't leaving school grounds, are you! You heard what Sirius said, Harry! If you leave, it makes you exposed! You could be attacked!"



"I'm not leaving school grounds. I swear. Nothing I'm doing, with these books, is at all dangerous and no one can attack me. Alright?" Harry said in a calm, reassuring voice.



Hermione gave him a long hard look, seemingly trying to gauge his honesty. Finally she nodded her head and smiled.



"Alright, Harry. I trust you. Thank you for finally telling me some of it."



Harry gave her a soft reassuring smile and nodded his head. He still wasn't entirely convinced this was a good idea, but at least it would keep her distracted for a bit. And he had to admit, he could definitely use the help in translating the book.



– –



Potter -



Can you get out late unnoticed?



Harry sat at Slytherin's desk, looking at the recently changed parchment, and chewing on the tip of his quill.



Yes, but it works best if I do it after all my dorm mates are already asleep. 1am would be best.



He wrote on the parchment and the words disappeared from the parchment a moment later. Harry had a full set of classes the next day, so he didn't exactly fancy staying up all night, but he would if he didn't have any other option. His first class on Fridays was History of Magic and he could always use it for a good nap if needed.



As he waited for a response from Barty, he returned his attentions to the ancient elvish book and his slow, tedious job of copying the contents of each page the hard way. He had found that he'd gotten quite accustomed to the strange shaped letters, and his handwriting had improved dramatically as he progressed. Hopefully Hermione wouldn't have any trouble reading it.



1am it is, then. Meet me by the statue you mentioned, tonight.



Harry glanced over at the spelled parchment and watched as Barty's writing appeared. He groaned internally, grieving the imminent loss of sleep. If he was going to see Voldemort, he knew there was no way that this would be a brief visit. He wondered if he could sneak into the hospital wing and nick a vial of Pepper-Up potion to help him function, come morning.



Fridays were his busiest days, and he didn't have a single free period the whole day long. Worst of all, he had double-potions in the afternoon with Snape. Tomorrow was going to be a long day.



Harry tapped his wand on the parchment, clearing the last message before bringing his quill down and responding with a quick, 'Agreed. I'll be there.'



Harry took one more long look at ancient elvish book and sighed. He stood up, reached into his pocket and pulled out his trunk. He tapped the top of it, and restored it to it's full size, before hissing the third compartment open and beginning to sift through the books within.



– –



Sneaking away from the dormitory once all of his roommates were asleep was just as easy as it had been back when he was taking his potion once a week. Only this time he didn't tell Ron he might be waking up early, since Harry hoped that he would be back before any of the other boys woke up.



He slipped through the castle, beneath his invisibility cloak and with the activated Marauder's Map under the cloak with him. He got down to the second floor defense corridor and saw a dot for 'Bartemius Crouch' standing beside the one-eyed witch statue. When he actually approached, he didn't see anyone though. He reached out with his magic and could sense the presence of another wizard and after squinting, he determined that the other man was under a disillusionment charm of some sort.



Harry pulled back the hood of his cloak and smirked at the spot where he could feel Barty's magical signature coming from. He checked the map one more time just to make sure no one was going to be showing up in the next few seconds, before taking out his wand and tapping it on the witch's hump.



"Dissendium" he whispered quietly. The passageway quickly opened up and he nodded his head towards it.



'Moody' appeared and was eying Harry speculatively. "How exactly did you know I was there?"



"I could feel your magic," Harry said with a dismissive shrug. 'Moody' looked skeptical, but quickly made his way through the opening and down into the tunnel. Harry followed and closed it behind them. The two each cast Lumos spells on their wands and started a brisk pace down the tunnel.



About ten minutes of walking later and Harry came to a stop as he felt the oppressive weight of the castle wards suddenly lift from his shoulders and he let a small relieved sigh escape his lips.



"Okay, we can use the portkey now," he said as he turned to the older wizard. 'Moody' rose his eyebrows in mild surprise.



"You can sense the castle's wards?" he asked with mild skepticism.



Harry blinked back at him. "Yeah... you can't?"



"I'm perfectly capable of sensing magic, brat. I'm just surprised that you can."



"I don't see why that should be such a surprise... I mean, sure, a year ago I wouldn't have been able to do it, but I was wasting the majority of my magical energy on trying to keep a portion of the Dark Lord's soul from devouring my own. Since I stopped wasting so much of my bloody magic on something so pointless, I've got a much better handle on things. I figured this was probably what it was like for everyone."



'Moody' snorted. "Hardly, Potter. Very few wizards are in tune enough with the flow of magic to detect wards and auras. It is not a common talent."



"Hm," Harry hummed in his throat as he rose his eyebrows mildly. He gave a dismissive shrug, as if it really didn't matter... because, honestly? It didn't. And he held his hand out. 'Moody' looked at it and cocked a single curious eyebrow.



"The portkey?" Harry said.



'Moody' rolled his eyes and dug into his pocket, pulling out a bottle cap with a hole punched in it and a small thin chain going through it.



Once Harry and 'Moody' were both holding the chain, 'Moody' said "morsmordre" and the portkey activated.



The feeling of having a fish hook latch on to the back of his navel and pull him backwards through a straw overcame him, and a swirling moment later, he was landing unsteadily on the floor in the entry hall to a very familiar manor house.



He only just barely managed to keep from falling over, and quickly steadied himself. His heart was racing, but he was honestly surprised to find that it was eager excitement far more than fear that was powering it. He was still a bit worried. There really was nothing guaranteeing that he would be leaving this building alive tonight, and yet he was oddly confident that he would be.



Harry paused and looked around the large, grand space. It was obvious that the muggles who owned the house before Voldemort took up residence, had been very wealthy. It was also obvious that it hadn't actually been inhabited in a great long while. Harry knew that Wormtail had been tasked with cleaning the place up a bit, but the man was clearly no house cleaner.



Still, it was grand and impressive, and with a little spell work, the place could probably look quite nice.



Harry's musings were brought to an abrupt halt when he felt the cool point of 'Moody's' wand press into the back of his neck.



"Is that really necessary, Barty?" Harry said in a bored tone.



"Your wand, Potter."



Harry sighed and dug into his pocket, pulling it out and handing it over.



"It's not like I could really use the thing all the way out here anyway. This far away from Hogwarts and using it would set off the Ministry trace," Harry grumbled, defiantly.



"Up the stairs, Potter," Moody said, ignoring Harry's comment, and jerking his head towards the stairs in front of them.



Harry rolled his eyes and set off at a brisk pace.



"Is he in the library, or the study?" he said casually, over his shoulder.



'Moody' paused and Harry could almost feel the man's narrowed, suspicious eye burning into his back.



"The library," he said after a moment.



Harry reached the top of the first flight of stairs and made a right, heading directly for the library. 'Moody' came up beside him and continued to eye Harry suspiciously.



"So, out of curiosity," Harry began to speak in a casual tone, "Are you going to let your polyjuice dose wear off while we're here? I'd be interested to see you with your real face, rather than Alastor Moody's."



"Probably not, Potter."



Harry shrugged, only mildly disappointed before he came to a stop at the wide double-doors that would lead to the library and paused, glancing over at his escort.



"Just open the doors, Potter," he said.



Harry grinned and reached out with each hand to open the pair of doors in one sweep. A few steps into the room and Harry's eyes were drawn to the back of the small, levitating chair that he had become familiar with through his visions. He could just barely make out a small hand with long, skeletal fingers curling over one arm rest, showing him just enough to know that Voldemort was currently occupying the chair. The visual was merely a confirmation though, since he could feel the waves of magical power emanating from the occupant of the chair.



The feel of that magic was remarkably familiar, and the intensity of its darkness was literally intoxicating. Harry took a deep breath and had to fight to keep his eyes open and looking forward. The sheer power of the dark magic that was rolling off the Dark Lord was indescribable.



"My Lord," came 'Moody's' reverent, awe-filled voice, from behind Harry. "I have brought you Harry Potter."



"Ah, yes... so you have... you have served me well, Barty. I am pleased."



Harry took a few more steps closer and came to a stop. The chair began to turn, slowly, to expose the small homunculus vessel that the Dark Lord Voldemort currently resided in. He was piercing Harry with bright red, narrow, and suspicious eyes



Harry took two quick steps forward that caused 'Moody' to tense and aim his wand at Harry. Harry ignored the man and lowered himself onto one knee in a quick, fluid movement, and bowed his head.



"My Lord," he breathed the words, through his insane elation. He looked up at the piercing red eyes, through his fringe of messy black hair, and knew that his own emerald eyes were probably glowing with his excitement. His blood was pounding through his veins and his magic was dancing around him maniacally.



He couldn't rationally understand how he could feel so excited at this moment, but he was. He felt almost giddy. He was really here! Before the most powerful dark wizard of his time, and the man was looking straight at him, and he could feel the man's magic lashing out and tangling with his own. Licking at each other's magic like flames, and then dancing together dangerously. Deliciously.



He barely suppressed a shudder as he saw the Dark Lord shift forward in his undersized levitating chair.



"Your Lord?" the high pitched voice of Voldemort's homunculus spoke with a mixture of disbelief, and amusement. "I never anticipated such a thing would ever be willingly uttered by the Boy-Who-Lived," he said, sneering the title with obvious disdain. "You will forgive me if I am appropriately skeptical of all this."



Harry's eye twitched and he sneered lightly. "I hate that name," he muttered under his breath.



"Hmm? What was that Potter? Speak up brat."



"I hate that name," Harry said, louder, as he rose his head and smirked at the miniature dark lord. "The Boy-Who-Lived. What a load of tripe. Famous for something I don't remember and had absolutely no control over. It's idiotic."



"Hmph. Yes, well, I can't say that I entirely disagree with that assessment," Voldemort said, raising a single hairless brow. "Still, I am quite curious about this 'My Lord' business. Not that I do not believe that I am more than deserving of your respect and deference, but I am curious as to what has spawned the realization in you."



"It is merely fact. You are the lord of all dark wizards. Magic deemed it so, right? That's just how it works. I am a dark wizard. It is both my chosen, and practiced magical affinity, so that makes you mylord. It's just that simple," Harry said with a simple shrug, as if this were obvious.



The look in Voldemort's face said that he had not expected this response.



He held his wand in his bony, undersized hand and performed a few quick swirls and flicks.



Harry blinked and raised straightened slightly, while still remaining bent on a single knee, as he sensed a wave of magic course out of the wand and encircle him. There was a confused moment where he wondered what exactly the spell was, but all thought left him a moment later as he felt the powerful magic course through him. It was all Voldemort, and it was incredible. His magic tasted like him, if that made any sense at all, which Harry knew it didn't. It just reeked of the man in every indescribable way, and feeling it for the first time as it came out and touched him, was mind blowing.



The spell wasn't intended to actually feel like anything, he could tell. It wasn't the spell itself that was affecting him, but rather Voldemort's raw magic that formed the spell.



Harry's head had fallen back onto his shoulder and a small noise emanated from deep in his throat before he felt the magic leave him.



He blinked in surprise, and mild disappointment at the sudden disappearance of the spell – whatever it was. It hadn't been a curse. For that matter, it hadn't even been a dark spell, but Voldemort's magic was fundamentally dark, and that had been more than enough to effect Harry deeply.



Harry suddenly became aware that a bright, saturated, red light was now glowing from around him. He raised a single questioning eyebrow and then looked back up at the Dark Lord questioningly. The man had an expression of mild surprise on his face, which was slowly morphing into a wicked grin. A wonderfully frightening cackle emerged from Voldemort's lips next and it sent a thrill down Harry's spine.



The cackling died down a moment later, but the amusement never left the Dark Lord's face.



"Oh, this is just precious! Dumbledore's little golden-boy, with a powerful affinity for dark magic!"



Harry blinked and he realized what spell had been cast on him. "That's the spell that reveals a person's magical affinity, wasn't it?"



"Yes, of course, you stupid brat. What the devil did you think it was?"



Harry shrugged. "I do not doubt that you probably know thousands more spells than I do. There was no telling what you were casting." Harry paused and looked rather thoughtful. "Is there a way to prevent that spell? Block it or something? It would be incredibly inconvenient if someone cast that on me at school.



Voldemort's amusement shifted slowly to the cold calculating curiosity from earlier. "There is. Perhaps I will tell you later. Now, tell me how this happened brat. In your first year, you were every bit the stupid Gryffindor beacon of the light."



Harry snorted and looked away slightly. "Yeah, well in first year I was a naive, stupid little eleven year old boy who hadn't known a damn thing about magic a year prior. Dumbledore stuck me with muggles to keep me ignorant of the magical world and malleable to his ideals. He wanted a clean slate that he could write only what he deemed appropriate on, once I came to Hogwarts. I acted the way I felt I was expected to act. My only real priority was to be accepted by those around me because I spent my entire youth being loathed by those who were supposed to be my family.



"Dumbledore worked it so that he had full control over what information I had access to, and he had full control over what opinions I could form about the way of magic and the wizarding world. He set it up so that he could mold my thoughts and ideals towards his own. It worked... for a while. This year, however, I had a bit of a wake-up call," Harry said with a sly grin.



"Do go on," Voldemort said, waving his hand and grinning. He seemed entirely amused by Harry's rant on the damned old fool, Dumbledore, and honestly a bit impressed that Potter had managed to see what the Light's beacon was doing, for what it really was.



Harry paused and shifted his position slightly. "Can I sit? This story will take a bit of time, and the whole kneeling thing is going to get rather uncomfortable rather quickly."



Voldemort looked less amused at this, but sighed a bit in exasperation before waving his hand and summoning a chair from some place in the room and bringing it to rest beside where Harry was kneeling. "Impudent brat," he muttered.



Harry grinned roguishly and quickly stood up and shifted over to the chair. He threw himself into it in a rather undignified manner and Voldemort sneered slightly at Harry's inexplicably confident demeanor, given his situation and surroundings.



Harry, oddly enough, found himself feeling right at home in the manor library. He had strange, vague impressions of memories of spending a great deal of time relaxing and reading in this room, in addition to the very clear memories of several visions that had taken place mostly here.



But aside from his comfort with the room he was sitting in, it was the magical ambiance from the Dark Lord opposite him that felt the most familiar. It wasn't quite the same as the vibe he got off of his companion, but it was remarkably similar. It made sense, when he thought about it logically, but it was still seriously weird when he realized just how strong the urge was to go touch the man... er... little creature, opposite him. The only positive touches Harry had ever regularly experienced had been in the embrace of his companion... who was in actually, a piece of the wizard sitting opposite him.



Combining his strange familiarity with the room, and the irrational comfort he got from being so near the magical signature of the Dark Lord, he almost felt as comfortable here as he did down in Slytherin's chamber with his companion whispering to him.



"Oh!" Harry said, having suddenly remembered something. "I almost forgot," Harry said as he reached into his robes. 'Moody' who was standing to the side with his wand trained on Harry, tensed and watched Harry's movements very closely.



Neither of the men had entirely expected to see Harry pull out a small object, the size of a matchbox.



Harry took his miniaturized trunk and set it down on the floor in front of him. He paused and looked over at 'Moody'.



"Can you unshrink it? Seeing as how you've taken my wand, I can't do it on my own."



"What's in it?" 'Moody' asked, eying the tiny trunk as if it were contaminated with something deadly and dangerous.



Harry rolled his eyes. "Just books, and none of them are even cursed."



Harry noticed, out of the corner of his eyes, that Voldemort's demeanor shifted slightly, and a margin of curiosity entered the tiny figure's eyes. "Do it, Barty," Voldemort said with a disinterested tone that didn't fool Harry at all.



'Moody' walked over and tapped his wand on the top of the trunk. It instantly returned to it's normal size and Harry leaned over, turning the latch and hissed out the password to the third compartment.



Voldemort's eyes widened and blazed with curiosity.



"Notechus?" Voldemort asked, translating the name that Harry had used for his parseltongue password back into English.



"Er, yeah. Notechus Noir is the alias I've been using when ordering things from Knockturn Alley, and any questionable vendors. The name Harry Potter is a bit too well known, after all. Notechus is the Latin name for the tiger snake. Noir is for Black, as in my godfather, Sirius Black..." Harry paused and looked around the room, suddenly. "Where is Wormtail, by the way? I was honestly hoping to see the little rat bastard while I was here."



"Wormtail is otherwise engaged at the moment... how is it that you knew he was here?" Voldemort asked with annoyed curiosity blazing in his eyes.



"Ah, yes. I'll be getting to that real soon here. Let's get this out of the way first. Consider it a bit of a peace offering, I guess. It's sort of an 'I'm sorry I was such a stupid little brat in my first year and delayed your revival by an extra three years'-gift. I won't apologize for the thing that happened when I was a baby, because I honestly don't think that had anything to do with that. I mean... I am sorry that it happened because a decade as a floating spirit really had to suck, but I don't think it was my fault." Harry said as he began to pull book after book out of his trunk and stack them on the floor beside it.



"Those books!" Voldemort gasped as he began to recognize them.



"I brought you the originals. I made copies of quite a few of them for myself to keep though. When I first thought up the idea to bring them to you, I kind of hated it because it would mean parting with them myself and I've grown quite fond of these books. I set myself the task of figuring out how to copy them, and since pretty much all of these books predated the copy-protection charms that book publishers use these days, it wasn't too hard for me to manage. In the end I knew it was worth the effort. I knew you'd appreciate this more than just about anything else I could bring you right now."



By the time Harry had finished talking and pulling out all of the books he had prepared to give to Voldemort, the small man-creature had directed his levitating chair up much closer and was now leaning forward and inspecting the books with wild, excited eyes.



"You found Slytherin's study." Voldemort stated, not taking his eyes off the books.



Harry grinned. "Yup. Been spending most of my time there this year, actually. The chamber is just fantastic for dark spell practice since it's not connected to any of the school's wards, but still shielded from the Ministry's magic detection. I can cast all sorts of nasty things while I'm down there and no one is the wiser at all. It's bloody brilliant!"



Voldemort continued to examine the pile of books with a carefully concealed excitement for a moment longer before his eyes narrowed with suspicion and they slowly trailed up to look at Harry.



"Enough stalling brat. I want an explanation. You know things you should not know. There is more going on here than you've let on. I demand answers."



Harry nodded his head and gave a weak grin. "Alright. Are you aware that you left a piece of yourself behind when you tried to kill me when I was a baby?"



"A piece of myself?" Voldemort said in an almost mocking tone. "And what exactly is that supposed to mean?"



"A sliver of your soul broke off and got stuck to me."



Voldemort's face took on a look of incredulity, which morphed into shock, which then morphed into dawning realization and understanding. Harry found it fascinating to watch the expressions unfold on the face of the miniature snake-like human creature. All of this transpired across his face in a matter of seconds before he mastered his expression to a mask of suspicion.



"Explain," Voldemort ordered in a harsh whisper.



And so Harry did. He began by telling the dark lord how he used to escape into his mind when he was younger, but there was a dark spot there that scared him, so he began to try and build a mental wall around it. About his theory that he had done some sort of accidental mind magic, and had, for years, continued to focus an enormous amount of his magic towards keeping that wall up, and keeping him separate from the dark spot in his mind.



He told him about at the Halloween feast, when his name came out of the cup, how everyone had turned against him. About how the supposed great, indestructible friendship between he and his Gryffindor friends, had been tossed aside so easily.



He explained the first night that he slipped back into his mindscape in years and years, and his rediscovery of the dark spot. His realization that he had been throwing a mountain of magic at it all these years, and his decision to take the magical wall down.



Voldemort remained surprisingly silent. He didn't even snap at Harry for going on about idiotic sentimentalities. Instead he had a calculating look to him. He was obviously taking in every detail the boy was saying and analyzing the hidden meanings and explanations behind every event that Harry still didn't entirely understand.



"Looking back I see how much the way my mind works changed during that time... but at the time, I didn't notice anything at all," Harry mused at one point. "I started thinking differently. Not having so much of my subconscious dedicated to keeping up that wall allowed my mind to work so much faster and clearer. I was able to see the hidden motives and agendas behind things. I..." he chuckled and shrugged, "I became a lot more cynical about things, but honestly, I like to think that I became lot more realistic. Less gullible. Less foolish.



"I started to see Dumbledore's manipulations for what they were. I know you've got Wormtail here, so I assume you know at least a bit about the whole business with my godfather? Sirius Black was my parents secret keeper, and he got framed for giving them up, and then killing all those muggles that the rat blasted apart. He got sent off to Azkaban without a trial. Not even a questioning under Veritaserum. Nothing. Just carted straight off to prison.



"Thing is, I started to wonder – why wouldn't Dumbledore have done anything to make sure Justice was properly served? That's his thing, isn't it? All moral high ground and that rot. He's the head of the Wizengamot. He could have insisted that Sirius at least get a questioning under truth serum. Shouldn't he have wanted to? To get some more information about me having survived? If he was really your follower and was in on the whole you coming to get us plot, then he might have known something. He should have been questioned. But Dumbledore didn't insist on anything of the sort. He let him just get carted straight off to prison.



"So I was wondering... why? But then I found out something even more interesting. Apparently, Dumbledore had me taken straight from the wreckage of my parent's house to the Dursley's front porch, the night it all happened. I was found on their doorstep on November 1st. Sirius hadn't even caught up to Wormtail by then, let along have been accused of killing him and a bunch of muggles. When I was left in the hands of those disgusting muggle trash, I still had an entirely valid and worthwhile guardian assigned by my parent's will, to take me in.



"I wrote my aunt a letter about a month ago asking her about what they were told by Dumbledore about having to take me in. I knew she would never be too keen on helping me out, so I laced the letter with a compulsion charm, and the stupid bint wrote back right away. Apparently Dumbledore only left a letter with me. That was it. He left me on their bloody doorstep, all night long, with nothing more than a letter, telling them that they had to take me in. He didn't even stick around to talk with them. Just ditched me on the porch. In his letter, he gave every indication that it was a permanent placement, and they had no choice but to accept. He had no intention of me ever leaving them to go to my godfather.



"That's why he let Sirius get carted off without a trial. He didn't want me to end up with him. He wanted me with those muggles. His excuse about me getting a fat head from fame, if I had been raised in the wizarding world may sound valid enough, but I think it's a lot more insidious than that. He wanted me ignorant," Harry growled. He didn't realize it, but his eyes had slowly begun to glow a deep verdant green as the slow boiling rage within him grew. Voldemort watched this with concealed glee, and a powerful curiosity. The glowing green color was remarkably reminiscent of the glow of the killing curse. He could feel the dark magic rolling off the boy and he had to admit that Harry Potter seemed to contain a monumental amount of magic for his age.



Voldemort's experience observing the boy during his first year had been annoyingly disappointing. Harry Potter, his prophesied vanquisher, was a down-right pathetic student, and a below-average wizard. There was nothing magically remarkable about the boy at all. In fact, he had seemed magically weak. But now, knowing what he knew about the boy having dedicated what had to have been a tremendous amount of his magic to keeping his horcrux at bay, the boy's poor magical performance earlier in life made a world of sense.



Harry sighed and ran his hand through his head as he visibly centered himself and pushed down some of his rage. Next he began recanting how his 'companion' began to grow in consciousness. How it became a presence in his mind, and how it began to relay images, ideas, and emotions to Harry, even during his waking time spent outside of his mindscape.



Harry described the potions class when his 'companion' first spoke to him, and then how he was gradually able to speak more often, and remain in Harry's conscious mind for longer periods of time. Harry explained about how his companion's voice tended to be a rather raspy staccato, and how he was more often than not, rather vague, but that he was still able to get the message across when it was really important.



He continued on, eventually covering the visions, and the various things he had gradually come to understand over the last few months.





Voldemort found it utterly fascinating that his horcrux had become sentient and powerful enough to communicate with the boy, and yet he was mildly concerned that it had told him what it was. As Harry continued to describe his interactions with his horcrux and the things it had taught him, and guided him to figure out himself, he was intrigued. Apparently it had only recently told him what 'it' was. That it was a piece of Voldemort's soul. It had also left out the fact that there were others, or what they were called. Potter never once uttered the word horcrux, and it appeared this 'companion' as Potter referred to it, had a tendency to be rather vague when explaining things. Still, the fact that anyone knew about his horcruxes was upsetting.



The fact that he had inadvertently made Harry bloody Potter into one left him in a state of uncertainty. He needed time to analyze the various ramifications of this. He also needed to completely rethink his resurrection ritual.



When Barty had first come to him and told him that Harry Potter had come to his office, and volunteered to help with Voldemort's resurrection, his initial reaction was to think the whole thing a trap, and wonder how the hell the old man had found out what was going on.



He had known that if it were true – which, surely it could not be true – that he would need to make a few alterations to his ritual. It would be considerably more powerful if Potter's blood was given freely in an act of betrayal... and if the boy's magic was truly dark, as Barty had suggested it might be, then... well the possibilities were rather intriguing. His resurrection could be going much better than he had expected, if any of this were true.



But now... now! Oh, how this changed things... The boy truly was dark. Incredibly so. He rarely saw such a purely dark aura, and never in one so young. Granted, his own aura had been that dark at this age, but he was rather unique. But it really did make sense when considering that his own soul had tainted the boy so thoroughly. So the boy was dark, and it really did appear that Potter was willing to betraying everyone and joining his side. The boy honestly wanted to aid in his resurrection of his own free will. All of these factors would drastically change his ritual, but add the fact that the boy was a horcrux, and he was having serious trouble reigning in his own insane glee.



He had wanted to involve one of his horcruxes in the resurrection ritual. It would have made things so much smoother, and returned his new body to full strength almost instantly. There would be no long arduous process of acclimating the body to his magic once it was completed.



It had been one of the reasons he had made Nagini a horcrux using that stupid ministry bint, Jorkins, who so conveniently stumbled across him the summer prior. But Nagini was a horcrux created after his body had been destroyed and he discovered that this would prevent him from properly using her in the ritual he devised. No... it had to be one he had created prior to the disaster with the Potters. But would one created because of said disaster work? It would! He was sure of it. In fact, it was ideal.



When he'd first realized that Nagini wouldn't work he had considered going after one of his other horcruxes, but that hadn't been a viable option in the end because he was no where near strong enough to get past all of the protections he had placed around the ring and the locket. He had no chance of gaining access to Hogwarts for the diadem, and didn't trust anyone else in retrieving it for him. Bellatrix was locked away in Azkaban, so he had no access to her vault to get the cup, and Voldemort didn't trust Lucius and his powerlust with Voldemort in his currently weakened state.



So he had had to settle for other options. He had turned to relying on only the boy's blood instead.



But now... now he could have the best of both worlds. It was as if the Fates were finally smiling upon him.



But that thought really only brought him back to other concerns.



The damned Prophecy. What would all this mean with the prophecy? He never had heard the entire thing. Could it have perhaps spoken of the boy turning? If he allowed the boy to live, would he be putting himself at risk? The boy couldn't possibly vanquish him, seeing as how as long as the boy lived, Voldemort was immortal. The boy's very existence made it impossible for him to die.



There had to be more. It was more obvious than ever that he needed to learn the full prophecy. Could he use the boy for that?



Voldemort refocused on Harry Potter and a sly grin spread across his lips. He had remained quiet for several long minutes once the boy had stopped relaying his story, and the other had been surprisingly patient for someone his age. He looked oddly... comfortable. That was almost unsettling. No one ever looked comfortable in his presence. Terrified, cowed, reverent... but never comfortable.



"I will need some time to rework the ritual," he said finally and Harry grinned and nodded.



"I figured as much."



Voldemort's eyes narrowed but he didn't acknowledge the statement any further. He had been greatly unsettled when Potter had recounted his 'dream visions' he had where he had been inside Voldemort's mind. Seeing, thinking, and feeling as him. Given the nature of their unique connection, he could understand how it was possible, but he was still entirely displeased by this breach of his mental security. If things had been different; if the boy hadn't turned dark; the breach could have been disastrous for him.



However, Potter made it sound like any of these 'visions' that he had, before embracing Voldemort's horcrux, had been vague, difficult to remember, and so painful he found it difficult to think clearly after one. It wasn't until he had begun to turn dark and meld with the horcrux that the visions cleared up and became coherent.



Voldemort considered his next action for a long moment. He was greatly inclined to simply hold the boy at the manor until his preparations were complete. The idea of letting this opportunity slip through his fingers by allowing Potter to go back to Hogwarts, left bile in his throat. But it would be a necessary test.



If he was to incorporate the boy's voluntary participation in the ritual, it had to actually be voluntary. The boy had to choose to return for the ritual. And he felt strangely sure that the boy would return.



"Barty will take you back to Hogwarts. I will contact him when I am ready to perform the ritual. It shouldn't be long. You will come when he says it is time. Is that understood?" Voldemort said in a tone that booked no room for argument. Oddly enough, the boy grinned.



"Sounds like a plan. Not that my input is really welcome, but if you could work it to be on either a Wednesday afternoon or sometime during a weekend, that would be great. If it's got to be an all-night sort of thing, then a Tuesday night would be grand. I've only got charms on Wednesdays and nothing else. I could easily skiv the class off too, if need be."



"Still so confident that I'll be letting you leave, afterwards?" Voldemort remarked drying with a raised brow.



"You're letting me leave now, aren't you? Besides, even without the whole 'my existing makes you immortal' thing, I know I can be useful to you if I stay on the 'in' with the old goat."



Voldemort smirked, even thought he knew he should have glared. The brat was obstinate and impertinent, and yet it somehow didn't piss him off. The boy reminded him of himself at that age, only with far more pathetic manners, and an annoyingly cocky demeanor. But he could work on that. This arrangement with Potter could prove to be extremely beneficial if he played his cards right.



He had thought that Dumbledore was trying to groom the boy into taking his place as Lord of the Light, but it was looking more and more that the old man had only considered the boy his weapon, and nothing more. Well, if he had hoped the boy to one day take his place, he was in for quite a surprise.



His grin spread.



Very interesting, indeed.





It was nearing dawn by the time everything had been completed and Harry returned to the manor's entry hall with 'Moody'. The man had continued to drink from his flask and maintain his transformation, rather than under go the painful discomfort of transforming back to his true self, and then back into Moody when it was time to leave. Harry was mildly disappointed at not getting to see Barty in his true form, but knew it really didn't matter at the moment.



They activated the 2-way portkey and reappeared at the exact same spot in the tunnel that they had left from. Harry was exhausted and once he and 'Moody' parted ways after exiting the tunnel, Harry slipped on his cloak and made his way to the hospital wing. He'd been there plenty enough times that he knew exactly where Madam Pomfrey kept the Pepper-Up potions and a simple Alohomora was all that was needed to unlock the cabinet. Considering that the unlocking charm was a second-year spell (although, of course, Hermione had known it in first), he wondered why people even bothered using such a weak locking spell on anything.



He slipped the potion into his pocket, intent on taking it shortly before breakfast, and slipped out of the hospital wing unnoticed by any. By the time he made it up to his dorm room, there was only an hour and a half before the rest of his dorm mates would be getting up to get ready for breakfast. He quickly changed into bed clothes and laid down in bed. An hour and a half of sleep wouldn't likely do him much good, but he could at least slip into his mindscape and discuss the nights events with his companion.



The experience had been bewilderingly exhilarating. Part of him still couldn't believe that he'd really done it. He had gone to Voldemort! He had spent the night in the company of the most powerful dark lord to come about in centuries, and he had loved every ruddy minute of it. Just being near him had been incredible to Harry's magical senses. The very air was alive with the powerful wizard's magic, and that was despite him being in an extremely limited form.



He couldn't wait until the man was fully restored. How insane was that? He was bloody excited, and vibrating with anxious anticipation for the resurrection ritual. He wished it would be that weekend, but he doubted it would be ready so soon. Perhaps it would be the following Wednesday? If it ended up needing to be any other day of the week he could still make it work. It would make Hermione suspicious, but hopefully he could work around it. Make something up about the old Albic book? Or maybe something else entirely. He'd work something out.



Harry let out a long sigh, trying to disperse some of his excitement, and slipped into his mindscape.



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