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



– –



The ritual was not that weekend. Nor was it the next Wednesday. On Thursday afternoon, Harry tried to catch 'Moody's' eye several times, but the professor basically ignored him.



The week had felt like it was dragging on, and Harry's patience was wearing thin. He had tried to keep himself preoccupied by spending a half hour each afternoon practicing various magics – mostly dark – down in the chamber, and then spending an hour or two copying more pages of the old elven book. He still spent his late evenings in the common room with Ron and Hermione to get his classwork finished, but even they could tell he was distracted.



By Friday, Harry had twenty pages of the book copied into a bound parchment notebook and gave a copy to Hermione so she could start translating it. She had been extremely eager to start working on the translation of it. She had been devouring her copy of the Old Aldric book all week long, and had spent many of their meals raving to Harry about how fascinating the language was.



Harry had been regularly checking the charmed parchment that was linked to a counterpart in 'Moody's' possession. Nothing had appeared. To say that Harry was getting frustrated, was an understatement.



Harry was sitting in Potions, Friday afternoon, lazily stirring the Wit-Sharpening potion in his cauldron. It was currently a milky white color with inconsistent little lumps floating about, but it was supposed to turn into a translucent yellow by the time it was done. He really wasn't paying it much attention. It was a stupid-weak potion, as far as Harry was concerned. It's effects would only last for about an hour and a half hour, and you couldn't take another dose for twenty-four hours after that. How useless is that?



Harry had found several potions, spells, and rituals that had far more beneficial effects on one's wit and cleverness than the potion they were practicing that day. The thing was that most said potions, spells, and rituals were either dark, illegal, or required illegal ingredients to brew. Sooo... the potion they were brewing that day was the best anyone trying to stay on the proper side of the law, could rely on. Harry was under the impression that there were some post NEWTs level potions that temporarily aided in one's intelligence that were not illegal, but they were so difficult to brew that few could pull it off.



In any case, Harry felt he had very little interest in the potion he was currently brewing, and was only doing it as a part of the class, and not because he would ever want to use it at some point and be grateful of the knowledge.



What was even worse was that the damned potion was in it's incredibly boring stage of the brewing. He had to just sit there and stir, once, counter-clockwise every 3 minutes, and then wait thirty seconds and do five quick clockwise stirs, before waiting 3 minutes to do the counter-clockwise stirs again. Rinse and Repeat. He was very very bored.



He had just hit the three minute wait and leaned back on his stool to stretch his back a bit. He sighed heavily and glanced around at his fellow students around them. From what he could tell, Hermione was the only other Gryffindor who has at the 'stir and be bored' stage. Her potion was the same color and consistency as Harry's was. A quick glance to the other side of the room showed that at least, Malfoy, Zabini, and Greengrass were also at that stage, although he couldn't see into their cauldrons to see what color they were.



Snape swept through the center aisle and paused to glare disdainfully down at Harry. Harry rose a single eyebrow up at the man with a questioning, yet also disinterested look to him.



Snape's eyes narrowed and his lips curled, but just before he was able to open his mouth to spout something that would undoubtedly result in Gryffindor house loosing some points, a knock came at the dungeon door.



Snape's head spun around glared, curiously at the door.



"Enter," he drawled with a sneer.



At this point, just about everyone had turned on their stools to look back at the entrance to the classroom, looking at the door with notable curiosity. When the door opened, and the person responsible for the interruption was revealed, to say that everyone was rather shocked, would be an understatement.



Igor Karkaroff, walked in through the room, holding his head high, but looking decidedly nervous, if the way his eye was twitching was any indicator.



Harry's eyes narrowed and he watched the man walk straight for Snape and begin to whisper rather furiously.



Snape held up his hand and looked around at the room full of curious eyes that were trained on the two of them.



"Get back to work!" he barked and everyone quickly began to shuffle their supplies and look busy.



Snape looked exceedingly displeased with the other man's appearance, but jerked his head towards the back of the classroom and the two made their way over there.



At this point, Harry already had his wand out and in hand below his desk. He pretended to knock some random potion ingredient off of his desk so he could bend down, and while out of view, he pointed the wand at his ear and silently incanted Declamo in his mind. Next he pointed his wand at the two adults on the other side of the room, from under his desk and kept it trained on them, like a long-distance microphone.



"– are you out of your mind! What the devil do you think you are doing interrupted my class!"



"You cannot avoid me now, Severus!"



"I am not avoiding you," Snape sneered. "I have been busy!"



"Something is going to happen, Severus! It has never been so clear! Not since..."



"I know very well, you fool. Now shut up, and get out of my classroom!"



"What if he summons us!" Karkaroff hissed in a panicked voice.



"What you do is entirely your prerogative, Igor," Snape sneered, "What do, is my business and my business alone."



"I cannot go back! He vill kill me for sure!"



"And I. Don't. Care!" Snape hissed "Now, OUT!"



Igor stood up straighter and pierced Snape with a look of pure loathing. He spun on his feet and headed back down the center aisle and out the door with a quick stride.



Harry quickly tucked his wand away and glanced at his point just in time to realize he had missed stirring it and it was turning brown.



Well, crap. He muttered to himself before sighing and banished the whole cauldron of potion with a quick flick of his wand.



– –



"So what do you think that was all about?" Ron asked in a hushed voice as he, Harry, and Hermione exited the dungeons twenty minutes later and began to make their way towards the great hall.



"What was what, all about, Ron?" Harry asked in a disinterested voice.



"What! Are you joking! That thing with Snape and Karkaroff!"



"Oh... right. That."



"Uh, yeah... THAT." Ron said, exaggeratedly.



"Do you think something is going to happen?" Hermione said in a worried tone as she looked at the other two. She seemed to hesitate and was looking at Harry while chewing on her bottom lip. "Harry?"



Harry eyed her with mild suspicion, but kept it hidden. "Yeah?"



"You... you remember when you told us about that dream you had at the end of summer? The one with You-Know-Who and Wormtail... and the other man?"



Harry's steps slowly slightly, but he kept his face impassive. "Yeah? What about it?"



"Have... have you had any more dreams like that?"



Ron's eyes were filled with quite a lot of curiosity at this as well, and was looking at Harry expectantly.



Harry simply shrugged and shook his head. "Nope. Not a thing. My scar hasn't even hurt once. I mean, Ron can attest to the dreams thing. I haven't woken up with a single nightmare all term, have I Ron?"



Ron scrunched up his face and looked thoughtful – a.k.a. constipated.



"Hmm... now that you mention it... you haven't. Not since before Halloween anyway. Didn't you have one or two of them in September?"



This time Harry twisted up his face, but then shrugged dismissively. "If I did, I don't remember them."



Hermione turned forward and the three of them resumed their journey to the great hall. She looked to be deep in thought, which as far as Harry was concerned, was never a good thing when it came to her trying to figure out a secret that involved him. But she hadn't seemed to piece anything together about him so far this term, and he'd been slipping into her head for surface scans from time to time, just to make sure she wasn't getting too close to anything dangerous.



She wasn't. She was suspicious, but she had no idea what was going on with him. She had formulated a whole slew of theories, and while some of them were mildly concerning, they still weren't even remotely close to the truth.



The trio reached the great hall, found their seats, and Ron instantly set to loading his plate with food. Hermione continued her deep-in-thought look and Harry had to repress an annoyed scowl.



He sighed and decided to deal with it after getting some food in his stomach, so he focused on his meal instead.



About fifteen minutes later, 'Moody' stomped his way into the great hall and made his wait straight to the head table, and to his usual seat. Harry glanced up at the man, and instead of being pointedly ignored, like he had for the entire previous week, the man was staring straight at him. Harry almost did a double-take, but managed to subdue it into a mild flinch.



The pair met eyes and 'Moody' did a curt nod before reaching his hand into the front inner-pocket of his robes and pulling out the slightest sight of a piece of folded parchment before it was instantly pushed back inside.



Harry's eyes lit up with an excited fire, and he only just managed to refrain from taking on an enormous eager grin. Instead he gave the other man a small smirk and an equally curt nod before looking down at his meal and continuing to eat, as if nothing had happened.



Once he was done with his food, and Ron, clearly was not, Harry pulled out his bag and fished around in it for a book. The book in question was called Defense on the Dark-side of Gray by Temerity Winickus, but the cover was charmed to look Defensive Magical Theory by Wilbert Slinkhard.



Folded between the last two pages was what normally looked to all the world like a blank piece of parchment. Harry pulled it out and folded it, just slightly below the lip of the table to keep it out of view. He looked down and was thrilled to see 'Moody's' handwriting, where there was usually nothing.



It's tonight.



Midnight by the statue.



A wide, wicked smile had spread across Harry's lips as he stared down at the parchment. He quickly schooled his expression, and tapped the paper with his wand, clearing the text. He folded it back up and stuck it back in between the last two pages of the book.



Tonight! Tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight!



The chant ran through his head, and it was all he could do to keep his face impassive, while internally, he was dancing an insane little jig.



"Hey, Harry. What's up with you?" Ron's voice broke in through Harry's internal glee, causing him to look up with a quick snap.



"Huh?"



"You just look like you're in a pretty good mood. What's up?"



"Oh. Uh... nothing really. It's Friday. You know... just looking forward to the weekend."



Ron grinned. "Yeah, me too. I hate having Snape's class last on Fridays, but I'm glad it's over."



"Yeah," Harry said grinning. "Me too..."



– –



Harry knew he was being fidgety that evening. He was anxious and excited. He could hardly focus on any of his homework and finally he made an excuse about getting some fresh air, which Hermione and Ron knew was just an excuse for him running off to whatever place he disappeared to, but they both had learned by now that asking where he was really going was a waste of time because he just wouldn't tell them.



Harry went down to the chamber and went straight for the basilisk. He was grateful that the thing was over 50 feet long, because he was quickly decimating it's corpse with his spell practice.



He quickly lost himself in his violent dark magic assault on the beast. His mind was euphoric and utterly absorbed in what he was doing. He was exceedingly relieved for a distraction to help the time pass faster, and before he even realized it, the 'watch' on his wrist was beginning to grow hot, signaling that it had been an hour and he needed to reign his magic in.



He was panting from the exertion, and his eyes were on fire with the blazing euphoric insanity the dark magic induced. As he slowly pulled himself back together, he calmed the giggles that he often found escaped him after an especially violent session. He was going to have to move onto a new section of snake soon. He had gone through skin, muscle, and even some of the bone in the section he had been concentrating on for the last couple weeks. And apparently basilisk bone was supposed to be damn-near impenetrable. But then again, it's skin was supposed to be 'magic resistant' too, and it clearly wasn't.



It had become obvious to Harry that when people talked about things being 'magically resistant' they were talking about 'normal' magic. Neutral magic, and probably light magic too, although he admitted that he had found next to nothing on magic that was specifically 'light' in nature. He knew that the Patronus was a light spell. He had actually tried casting it a number of weeks prior, just to make sure he still could. He could.



It wasn't difficult to cast, although it did feel strange now. It felt... wrong. The taste of the magic was all sour and he didn't like it at all.



He had considered searching the school's library for books on specific light spells, but had only a mild curiosity on it, so he hadn't yet bothered. He wasn't the least bit surprised not to find any books on that type of magic down in Slytherin's study.



In any case, he seriously doubted that even high level light spells could get through something like basilisk flesh. From what he understood, light spells just weren't intended to be that destructive. It was the destructive nature of the dark that made it so powerful.



Even after his 'work out', Harry was feeling too edgy to go back up to the common room. He knew his behavior would seem really off, and if he spent time around the Gryffindors, they would notice that he was acting even stranger than usual. Instead, he settled himself down on the chaise lounge and opened up to a chapter of Tip-Toeing Through the Mind of the Unaware by Clair Videre.



He'd skimmed through the book a few times, and bothered to read all the way through a couple of the chapters. With the book, he had learned that the nifty little mind-reading trick he'd been using was something called Legilimency. What had really interested him lately, and what had made him pick the book back up, was the discovery that Legilimency had a 'brother' magic called Occlumency. While Legilimency let you read a person's mind, Occlumency taught you how to create barriers to keep others out of your head.



Tip-Towing Through the Mind of the Unaware, however, was a book on Legilimency; not Occlumency. It only had a single chapter dedicated to Occlumency, and that was what Harry was reading now.



It sounded fairly complicated, and had several levels of proficiency. The first level – the only one discussed in the book in any depth – was the act of simply clearing your mind the moment you detect an unwelcome presence. Clear the mind, and leave them in a big empty expanse so that, even though they're in your mind, they have nothing to read.



While this was fine and dandy, Harry was more interested is keeping a person from entering his mind at all, and for that, it was obvious he was going to have to find a book, specifically on Occlumency.



Harry sighed, set the book down on the table beside the chaise, and massaged his temples. He closed his eyes and let his mind wander to what was going to be taking place that night. Voldemort – the Dark Lord – was going to be performing a ritual to restore his body, and Harry was going to go voluntarily help him accomplish it.



Rationally, Harry knew he was being... very irrational. Or perhaps, he was being too rational. He wasn't really sure. He tended not to actually think about what he was really doing, all that often. He was a bit too overwhelmed by the emotions that surrounded it. He knew that on some level, it felt entirely right. His magic was pushing him towards this, and he felt insanely excited over the prospect of the Dark Lord, returning. Rationally, some tiny part inside him knew he should be screaming and running fighting tooth and nail to stop this from happening.



But then he asked himself... why? Why should he not want this? Harry opened his eyes and looked across the room at nothing in particular. It seemed like a valid exercise. Why should he want it, versus why he shouldn't. He shouldn't just let his gut drive him on this. He knew he needed to make sure he put some serious thought behind it too.



First off... reasons to be excited. Reason to want it.



Voldemort was the Dark Lord. Harry had become a dark wizard, and he liked it. He refused to even slightly regret his choices, and had come to terms with the fact that he had gone dark. As a dark wizard, he felt drawn to the dark lord – he knew that. But he was also positive that it was greater than that. He felt connected to the man in the most indescribably intimate way. He knew it was because a portion of his soul had resided in Harry for as long as he could recall – even if he hadn't realized it until recently.



So... why should he want to stop it.



Voldemort was violent... well, that was true. But Harry had become rather violent himself and it didn't seem nearly as such a bad thing to him now as it had only six months prior.



Voldemort would start the war again. Loads of people would die. Harry conceded that that was possibly a valid excuse, but Harry also had an extremely strong sense in his gut that this sort of... needed to happen. The fact that he didn't understand why, kept him from entirely agreeing with it, right out though. But he also refused to use the war as a reason to not resurrect Voldemort either. He just didn't understand enough about the true motives and needs behind the war. Without that understanding, he couldn't use it to argue for or against the resurrection.



Voldemort killed his parents.



Harry rolled his eyes. Well that was a stupid reason. For Harry, his parents were just ideas. Intangible, idealized notions that had no real substance or meaning. He had never known his parents, so their loss didn't really mean anything to him. What was tangible was the way he was raised by those filthy muggle bastards, and the man who had abandoned him there. That was tangible. And Voldemort was waging his war against that man.



At least in part.



Well, as far as he was concerned, he simply didn't have enough reasons to not help. If he helped, Voldemort would stop trying to hunt him down and kill him. He was pretty sure of that. Even with the whole 'part of his soul' and 'making him immortal' thing, Harry knew that if he continued to pose a threat to Voldemort, Harry was sure the man would still come after him. But if Harry sided with the Dark Lord... well, self-preservation was a pretty strong motivator. And in this case, it was really just a really good excuse to add on top of the fact that deep down in his gut, he really reallywanted to join the man.



So! Gut feeling, combined with desire not to die equals voluntarily aiding in the man's resurrection.



Harry chuckled to himself and rolled his eyes at the wall opposite him. He knew he was being ridiculous but really didn't care.



He cast a tempus and groaned in annoyance at the time displayed. It was only 8:30pm. But curfew was at ten o'clock, so it wasn't like he could stay down in the chamber much longer anyway.



Harry got up off the chaise and went over to the desk where he had the ancient elven book. He pulled out the copy that he'd been manually working on and opened to the last page he had worked on.



His copy and Hermione's copy were charmed together so anything he added to his would appear in hers as well. It had seemed like the easiest way for her to start work on translating it while he was still in the process of copying it.



He resumed where he left off after setting an alarm to ring once it reached nine o'clock. He would need to spend at least some time in the common room or else his friends would badger him all weekend.



– –



Two and a half hours later, Harry was sitting down in the common room, trying not to scowl at the ruckus going on at one of the large tables in the common room, that currently housed, the twins, Lee Jordan, Seamus, Ron, and a couple other Gryffindors that Harry wasn't very familiar with.



They were playing some game that had managed to be even more annoying than exploding snap – a feat which Harry had never thought possible. Apparently the twins invented it. If anyone could invent a game this obnoxious, it would be them. Harry thought bitterly to himself as another ear piercing noise erupted form the table, followed by peals of laughter.



It was eleven o'clock, which meant that Harry only had one hour left till he needed to meet 'Moody', but none of his dorm mates had gone to bed yet, and the common room was still filled with people. Since it was Friday night, none of them felt it all that important to get to bed at a reasonable hour, and had chosen, instead, to stay up watching or playing the twin's and Lee Jordan's new game.



Harry had to face the fact that they would not be going to bed before him, so he was going to have to pretend he was going to bed, rig his bed to look occupied and probably apply a sticking charm to his bed hangings, and then find a way to sneak out of the common room while it was still full of people.



His invisibility cloak would get him past everyone, but he would still need to open the portrait hole, and that would get noticed. Hermione, at the very least, would notice if it opened and closed an no one appeared to be there. She would know that Harry was sneaking out in his cloak.



Maybe he could open one of the windows up in the dorm room and fly out with his broom? That was a viable option. Harry hadn't touched his Firebolt in months, so he almost forgot he had it most days.



Harry glanced around the room, taking note of the locations of all his dorm mates. Dean was standing beside the large table, watching the game. Seamus and Ron were actually playing the game... but what about Neville...



Harry looked around, trying to find his most timid room mate. He scowled when he didn't see him. Was Neville already up in bed? That would complicate things... He was sure he'd seen Neville down in the common room a few minutes earlier.



If Neville had just gone up, then Harry might still have a chance. Neville always took a shower before going to bed at night. He apparently hated doing it in the mornings and going to breakfast with wet hair.



Harry quickly began to pack up his homework into his bag. Hermione noticed this and looked at him questioningly.



"I'm getting pretty tired... I think I'll call it a night. Besides, I think I may be getting up early tomorrow."



"Oh? Why?" she asked curiously.



Harry raised his eyebrows and gave her a pointed look. She scowled at him, rolled her eyes, and huffed. "Fine, fine. Don't tell me," she grumbled while glaring at him through narrowed eyes.



Harry smiled. "Thanks Hermione."



Her glare softened into a resigned frown and she sighed. "Fine, fine... goodnight, Harry."



"G'night," he said as he slung his bag over his shoulder and raced up the stairs. Harry entered the room just as Neville was slipping into the bathroom and Harry heaved a brief sigh. He didn't have any time to waste though because Neville wasn't much one for long showers.



He ran over to his bed and grabbed one of the pillows. He transfigured it into a dummy with scruffy black hair. It looked like a pretty ambiguous store mannequin, but it would be sufficient as long as no one actually looked at it. He pulled the covers up over it and then pulled his hangings closed and applied a sticking charm to hold them shut. He quickly dug out his Firebolt, invisibility cloak, and the map. He tapped the top of his trunk to shrink it and slipped it into his breast pocket. He'd copied a few more of the books from the chamber during the last week and figured he could take them with him.



He put his invisibility cloak on first and grabbed his broom. He made his way over to the largest window in the dorm, unlatched and opened it, mounted his broom and hovered out. Once he was floating just beyond the window, he used his wand to shut it and relatch it.



The cloak didn't completely cover the broom beneath him, nor did it conceal him from anyone standing directly below him and looking up, so he quickly descended to ground level. Once he had landed he applied the shrinking charm to his broom and put the miniaturized broom into his pocket. He still had about forty-five minutes until he had to meet 'Moody', but figured he'd may as well start heading that way.



He activated the map and made his way towards the closest entrance that would let him back inside the school.



Thirty minutes later he was leaning against the wall in the defense corridor, just down the hall from the one-eyed witch statue. He'd had to dodge Filch, Mrs. Norris, Peeves, and a couple patrolling prefects, so it had taken him longer than he had anticipated. So he was glad he'd had such a head start.



At five till midnight, Harry felt a mild disruption in the magic in the air and reached out with his magical senses. He was positive he was sensing what was probably 'Moody's' magical signature and almost pulled his cloak off before looking at the map. Fortunately he didn't. He glanced down at it to compare the location of the dot with where he thought he sensed the disillusioned wizard and nearly choked when he saw the name 'Severus Snape' by the little dot.



His eyes widened and he quickly pulled out his wand, just to be safe. He looked back at the map, searching for Bartemius Crouch and saw the man coming their way from several corridors away. Harry cast a silencing charm on his feet and began to make his way down the hall and away from where Snape had planted himself against the wall opposite the statue.



Once Harry got to the end of the hall and turned, he switched to a full-out run and headed straight for Barty. He caught up with the man's dot and was surprised to see him just openly walking down the hall and not disillusioned at all.



"Moody!" Harry whispered harshly from a few feet away.



'Moody' froze and spun around with his wand drawn. "Potter?"



"We've got a problem," Harry growled lightly as he pulled the cloak off his face enough for the other wizard to see his eyes.



"What kind of problem?" 'Moody' asked as he rose a single eyebrow.



"Snape is down by the statue, disillusioned. Did you tell him? I mean... is he invited, or something?"



"What? Snape? Of course not. What the devil is he doing there?"



"Hell if I know. But wasn't he a Death Eater?



"Snape is a spy. Whether he's Dumbledore's spy or the Dark Lords, is still up for debate. I wouldn't trust him as far as I could spit."



Harry twisted up his face, trying to fully understand that last bit, but shrugged it off. Don't trust Snape. Easy enough. I never trusted him in the first place. "A spy huh? Interesting... It can't be a coincidence that he showed up tonight like that."



"No it can't," 'Moody' growled with a deep scowl. He turned his one good eye on Harry and narrowed it. "You didn't let it slip to anyone did you?"



"No! And I cleared the parchment the second I'd read it. Not like anyone else would be able to figure out exactly which statue you mentioned. There're thousands of statues in the castle."



'Moody' nodded and scowled down the hall. "I'm going to need to do another bug sweep of my office," he grumbled. "Makes me wonder what else might have been overheard..."



"You do that. Anyway, we're really lucky I realized who he was. At first I thought he was you, coming in disillusioned like that. I'm glad I looked at the map before I took my cloak off."



"Map? The one that tells you the names of everyone in the school?"



"Yeah, that one."



"Is he still there?"



Harry pulled the map out from his cloak so that just his hands and the map were now floating in space in front of 'Moody'. Harry pointed at Snape's name with his other hand. "Still there."



'Moody' made a growling noise in the back of his throat and then pulled out a pocket watch and frowned.



"We can't sit around and wait for him to leave. We'll have to get out a different way. You wouldn't happen to know about any other secret passages, would you?"



Harry looked thoughtful for a moment. "Well, there's a secret passageway that goes from the Shrieking Shack to the base of the Whomping Willow, but we'd have to go out to the Whomping Willow to get into it. There's also supposed to be one behind the statue of Gregory the Smarmy, but I've never used it because I was told by the Weasley twins that Filch knows about that one and has it booby-trapped."



'Moody' snorted. "We'll take our chances with the tunnel behind the Smarmy statue. Filch is just a stupid filthy squib. Whatever 'booby-traps' he might have come up won't be a problem."



Harry nodded his head and pulled the map and his arms back under his cloak.



"I'll lead the way," Moody began, "you stay under your cloak and follow."



"Got it," Harry said.



Another five minutes and the pair of them were standing at the statue of Gregory the Smarmy. It only took 'Moody' a minute to figure out how to open the doorway behind it, which Harry was relieved for since he really had no idea how to get into this one.



Fifteen minutes of walking down a very narrow tunnel, while occasionally throwing freezing and stasis charms on whatever rudimentary alarm systems Filch had erected, and the pair felt themselves leave the boundary of the wards. 'Moody' pulled out the portkey, they both held onto it, and a second later, they were both being whisked away with a soft pop, and an uncomfortable tug behind the navel.



The two appeared in the same entry hall as last time. Harry managed to stay upright with only a little trouble this time, and once he had himself steadied, he reached into his pocket and pulled his wand out.



'Moody' instantly got on his guard when he saw Harry reaching for his wand, and was then only mildly surprised when Harry flipped the wand around in his hand so he was holding the tip of it and offered it to 'Moody'.



"I expect I still won't be permitted my wand, so I figured I'd save you the trouble of asking for it," Harry said with a smirk.



'Moody' humphed and snatched the wand away. He instantly spun around with as much grace as a man with one wooden leg could have and began to make his way through the entry hall towards a hallway.



Harry looked after him curiously for a moment before he quickly hurried after. 'Moody' led him down a couple of corridors with detailed wooden wainscoting and ornate polished lighting fixtures that had their light bulbs removed and were currently being lit with magically conjured balls of light.



Harry felt a tingling sensation in his scar appear and begin to slowly grow the further they traveled through the house, and a wide grin began to spread across his lips. He pulled his magic out and let it stretch out and around him as he tasted the magic around him. The house was originally muggle and that was obvious, but was also clear that a number of magical additions had been made to the structure. Harry was pretty sure he detected some space expansion magic from behind a few closed doors.



He sent his magic out further and instantly knew where they were heading. There was a powerful mass of magic in a room at the end of the hall. It was also the same place that the tingle in his scar told him Voldemort was.



'Moody' was about ten feet from the door when he suddenly hunched over and began to twist and clench. Harry froze, surprised by the sudden change in the man's demeanor. He was confused for all of five seconds before he noticed the man's skin bubbling and stretching. Moody began to scramble at the fake leg, releasing the belts and latches that held it in place, and slid down the wall and onto the floor. The next moment, his hand was up, clasping over his magic eye, just in time to catch it as it popped out of his socket.



Harry scrunched up his face as he watched 'Moody's' Polyjuice dose wear off, and the man slowly transformed back into his true self.



It only took a moment, but Harry was sure it was not a pleasant experience. Barty Crouch stood, unsteadily, to his feet and nudged the fake leg that now lay on the floor, over to the wall. He pocketed the fake eye and looked back at Harry.



The man standing before him looked to be about thirty years old, had pale skin, messy straw-colored hair and a light dusting of freckles on his skin. He had dark eyes that were sunken and had a wild insanity to them. As he looked back at Harry he gave him a rather mad-looking toothy grin.



"Well, Potter... now we go to our Lord. Are you ready?"



Harry returned the toothy grin and nodded his head eagerly. "I am."



Barty cackled lightly and turned back towards the doors at the end of the hall. It was a set of double-doors, but he only pulled one open and slipped in quietly. Harry hurried after him and as soon as he entered the room, he was instantly met with a kneeling Barty just a few feet in front of him.



"My Lord. I have brought back Harry Potter," Barty was saying with a reverent glee, while keeping his head bowed low.



Harry stood there for a moment, taking in his surroundings. From what he could tell, they had just come in a back entrance to a mid-sized ball room of sorts. Any furniture that might have once been there had been banished. In the center of the room was the largest potions cauldron that Harry had ever seen. It was suspended above a magical fire and the contents in it were already boiling away.



Around the cauldron were concentric circles etched into the floor, along with a number of runes and odd symbols at key points. Hunched over, and still in the process of writing some of these symbols, was none other than Wormtail. And sitting in his levitating chair, towards the side, was the Dark Lord himself. He turned and Harry saw the tiny reptilian man smirk at the kneeling Barty.



"Very good, Barty. And welcome, both of you, to my resurrection." he said with a grandiose wave of one of his tiny bony arms and a wicked cackle. Barty's head rose and a wild delight spread across his face while his eyes blazed with triumph.



Harry found himself sporting a rather similar expression, as he felt the intense anticipation in his chest growing to a breaking point.



Voldemort motioned his arm towards the only piece of furniture that remained in the room, a small, but long buffet-type table that was placed along the wall beside the door that Harry and Barty had entered through.



"Potter, there are instructions there that you should make yourself familiar with," Voldemort said with a dismissive wave of his hand.



Harry bowed his head in a quick motion. "Yes my Lord," he said as he turned and took a couple quick strides to the table and picked up the parchment. He quickly read through it, his eyes widening with each additional line. His eyes darted back down to the table, where he saw the ritual dagger laying on a piece of black velvet.



He glanced back at Voldemort who had a wicked grin on his face. He rose a single questioning eyebrow at Harry as if daring him to argue. Harry rolled his eyes and began to take off his robes.



"Alright. Do I have to carve them into myself, or is Barty going to be doing this? I'd really rather it not be Wormtail, but I do realize that I don't have a lot of say in the proceedings," Harry said as he folded his school robes and began to unbutton his undershirt.



A very brief look of surprise flitted across Voldemort's serpentine features for a second before his smirk returned.



"It doesn't bother you? This will not be a pain free ordeal for you."



"I never expected anything of the sort. Besides, it says they won't scar, and that's the only thing I'd really worry about since my dorm mates would probably notice strange ancient runes-shaped scars on my body that didn't used to be there. I doubt the pain will be the worse I've ever experienced, and certainly not the worse self-inflicted pain. I think I've managed to set the bar pretty high for that already."



"Is that so? You've peaked my curiosity, Potter. Explain."



"Ever heard of Drajiou's Excellerant potion?" Harry asked as he began to slip the now unbuttoned shirt off his arms and fold it.



Voldemort's eyes grew wider now and he actually began to chuckle. "Did you finish the full process? All eight doses?"



"Yup," Harry said with a pained look before placing the now folded shirt down on folded robes.



"And you survived with your sanity in tact?" Voldemort asked with mild disbelief in his tone.



Harry laughed. He laughed hard. Then he shrugged and looked sheepish. "Well I suppose that's debatable, isn't it? But I would say I did. I actually escaped into my mindscape during the majority of it, but it was unavoidable to experience some of that pain, no matter how quickly I tried to slip inside myself once I'd taken the dose."



"They say the pain is worse than a half dozen simultaneous cruciatus cursesdrawn out over a ten hour span of time," Voldemort mused with an air of mild respect. "Why would you put yourself through that, may I ask?"



"Well... I suppose that I didn't honestly expect it to be that bad, when I first set out to do it. But I really wanted to fix my body. I was just... sick of living with the results of being treated like a house elf for a decade. I mean..." he paused and waved his hand down at his now bare chest, "I'm rather fond of the results, if I'm being honest. What I looked like before the accellerant potion doesn't even compare."



Voldemort's eyes narrowed and he looked rather displeased. Harry felt a bolt of fear shoot through him, but it was fear that he had somehow managed to displease Voldemort and he had no idea why.



"What did these muggles do to you, exactly?" Voldemort hissed and Harry found himself caught off guard by the question.



"Oh... well, they tossed me in a boot cupboard under the stairs and made that my 'bedroom' up until I was eleven and got my Hogwarts letter. I had to clean their house, cook their meals, do their gardening, do the laundry, and they frequently refused to feed me as a form of punishment for not meeting their oh so high standards of perfect normalcy. Oh, and if I was ever unfortunate enough to perform any accidental magic, I was locked in the cupboard and refused food for days. As a result of spending an inordinate amount of time in a tiny, dark space without food, I ended up malnourished, short, and sickly. Even the regular meals at Hogwarts weren't enough to counteract the damage done over the previous ten years, so I was scrawny and pathetic looking. I prefer this," Harry finished, making another motion towards his chest.



"What potions did you accelerate?" Voldemort asked, looking away and trying to appear disinterested. Harry felt a burning in his scar though, and saw a glimmer of pure rage in the man's ruby eyes. He rose a single eyebrow – wondering exactly what that was about, but quickly realized that the Dark Lord had asked him a question, and that it would not be wise to keep him waiting.



"Just two. An advanced nutritional restorative potion, and a bone and muscle restructuring potion. So basically the accellerant tore apart my bones, muscles, and tendons, each time I took it, and rebuilt it. After eight doses, it was done."



"You didn't use an aging potion in the mix? You do not appear fourteen to me."



Harry blinked, surprised by the comment but quickly swallowed his surprise. "Er... thanks? Uh – my Lord."



Voldemort scoffed, but it sounded remarkably similar to a snort. "When did you do all this? If it was too recently and any of the potion remains in your system, it could complicate the ritual."



"Oh, I finished my last dose nearly two months ago. It shouldn't be a problem."



"Good. As to answer your earlier question, you must carve the runes into your own flesh, except for the ones on your back, which will do."



"Oh," Harry said as he blinked and took this in. "Alright," Harry said with a quick breath and then a determined nod.



He returned his focus to the parchment and read it through again, paying attention to each of the symbols and where, exactly they would need to be carved into his flesh. He was glad there weren't too many of them. It could have been a lot worse. From what he could tell, the whole 'him carving runes into his flesh'-bit was the alternative to a much simpler ritual that would require Harry's entire body be sacrificed and bled dry. The pain would be unpleasant, but it was preferable to being dead.



"I do appreciate you opting to go with this version, over the one where I would have been a live sacrifice," Harry said as he continued to read.



"Yes, well the amount of extra effort on my part is very minimal, and your potential future usefulness outweighed it enough that I chose this path instead."



"Like I said. Much appreciated," Harry said, glancing up and smirking.



Voldemort rolled his eyes and scoffed.



"When you feel ready, we will begin," Voldemort said in a dismissive tone as he levitated several objects from the floor behind him and began to move towards the cauldron in the center of the room.



Harry refocused on the parchment and reached over to pick up the dagger. He balanced it in his palm for a moment before grasping it, blade facing towards him, and practiced different grips for holding it.



He took a deep breath, steeling himself and began to walk towards the circle.



He passed by Barty, who was now standing towards the outside the outermost circle, not far from Wormtail who had apparently finished his task, and was now cowering in the shadows. Barty appeared to actually be mildly impressed with Harry and was watching him with an air of intrigue.



"You will stand here," Voldemort, pointing to a spot on the floor where the runes and circles came to a certain formation. "You have ten minutes to complete the runes before we can move on to the next part. If you do not complete it in ten minutes, we will have to heal the woulds and start over. Do you understand?"



Harry nodded, but at the glaring red eyes he quickly spoke, "Yes, my Lord."



Voldemort smirked and nodded in approval.



"Once you have completed the runes on your front, hand the dagger to me and I will complete the two on your back. Begin when ready."



Harry shook his head again, took another calming breath and spent a few minutes practicing the movements necessary to carve the shapes into each of the specified spots. When to shift the dagger into different grips when he moved onto a different location, and then practiced holding it in his left hand and traced where he would carve for the rune he would need to carve into his right bicep. Once he felt comfortable with what exactly he had to do and in what order, he began.



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