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



– –



Harry's shaking hand stretched out and offered the bloodied dagger to the small skeletal grip of the Dark Lord.



"On your knees, Potter," the cold hard voice of Voldemort ordered.



Harry instantly acquiesced to the order, and had to bite his lip to hold back the whimper from the pain the movement caused. It really wasn't anywhere even remotely as painful as the accellerant potion had been, and as Voldemort had watched the entire process of Harry carving into his own flesh, the Dark Lord's excitement had grown. With that excitement, had come a powerful welling of Voldemort's magic, and Harry had eagerly fed off that energy, letting the euphoria of it cloud his mind and dull his pain. Still, the sudden movement of falling to his knees had cleared his haze enough to remember that he was currently bleeding – a lot – and that the raw, open wounds were not pleasant in any way.



Harry felt the Dark Lord's magic surge in another wave of eager excitement and he grabbed hold of that feeling and wrapped it around himself like a blanket. The feeling of the Dark Lord's magic was so indescribably familiar and comfortable, not to mention the dark inebriation it induced. He wondered for a moment how Barty and Wormtail didn't seem to be effected by it at all. Did they not feel it? Maybe they couldn't?



A tiny startled noise escaped Harry's throat when the blade first pierced his back, between his shoulder blades, but he managed to squash any further sound. It hurt, but he wasn't going to disgrace himself by crying out. The cuts were shallow and the runes were not all the complicated. What little understanding he had gleaned about dark ritualistic magic like this told him that things should have been much more convoluted and complicated than they were. The relative simplicity of the ritual was truly a comment on just how much of a magical genius the Dark Lord was.



The arithmancy calculations and planning alone that would have been necessary to construct a ritual this optimized and efficient was incredible, and the fact that the Dark Lord had done it in under a week, truly spoke volumes. Harry was mildly surprised that the man had gone to so much trouble to minimize the suffering Harry was having to endure. A little less effort would have resulted in much more complicated runes, and a lot more of them, but the effect on the end product of the ceremony would have been unchanged. Voldemort's body would have been resurrected the same either way. The extra effort had gone in solely and entirely for Harry's benefit, and he knew it.



Still... he wasn't stupid enough to say anything about it aloud when others were present. Perhaps if he had the opportunity to speak to the Dark Lord without an audience he would thank him.



Harry breathed a quiet sigh of relief as he felt the last rune completed and the blade leave his skin for the last time.



He was now kneeling in a mess of his own blood. Not quite a pool of blood, but it was still a considerable amount of blood. He also noticed that all of the blood seemed to be magically drawn to a spot two feet in front of him where a crystal bowl sat on top of one of the runes on the floor. He supposed that was why he wasn't sitting in a pool of his own blood – the blood was being drawn to that point and getting magicked into the bowl. He decided that, if nothing else, he could slip into the hospital wing when he got back to school and nick a blood replenishment potion. Hopefully Madam Pomfrey would have some in stock.



Harry's mind was clouded by the combined forces of his loss of blood, light-headedness, and pain, and then all of that was compounded by his own intentional hold on the Dark Lord's magic in the air. Letting the magic wrap around and encase him helped numb the pain, but it also left him rather out of it. He could feel his body swaying precariously while he knelt on the floor in front of the large cauldron.



He was vaguely aware of some magical words being spoken, and of Wormtail dropping a few things into the cauldron, including the bowl of his blood. Next thing he knew the Dark Lord's magic suddenly pulled back and its absence snapped his mind to attention. Harry's head shot straight up and his eyes opened wide. He watched as Wormtail cut off his own hand, dropped it into the potion with a strangled whimper, and then as Barty carried the Dark Lord's tiny homunculus body into the circle, over the cauldron, and then dropped him inside it.



The sudden and intense surge of magical energy was enough that it nearly knocked Harry out. As it was, it took almost all of his strength and concentration to stay upright on his knees.



The cauldron frothed and bubbled violently while plumes of steam and swirling colored smoke shot out from the top of it. Then the cauldron itself was melting away as if it were made of chocolate, until it was a dark liquid pool that bubbled and vanished on the ground a moment later. Rising from where the cauldron and it's contents had been was a twisted pale form that looked mildly humanoid as it grew and expanded and jerked rather violently.



Harry could feel the Dark Lord's magic swirling powerfully around the new vessel as it continued to form and morph. Slowly, it began to look more and more human. The body filled out and grew defined. The limbs reached the proper lengths as the bones grew to their correct sizes and stopped bending and twisted into place. The muscle groups and tendons formed properly and the skin stretched and came to rest along it in a smooth, flawless surface.



The tone started out whitish and pale, as the homunculus had been, but as the body began to look more and more human, the white-gray pallor began to pinken and turned to a more natural flesh tone. The face grew to the proper size of a human skull, but it was gradually loosing the serpentine quality that the smaller incarnation had suffered from. The cheekbones sharpened and the nose grew from the flat plane where there had once only been two slits for nostrils. The eyes remained closed, but above them where once there had been a hairless plane, grew in two black, shapely eyebrows. Equally black hair began to sprout from the scalp and lengthen. It continued to grow, very slowly, while the rest of the body finished forming.



When all of the smoke and steam and melted cauldron had settled, there, standing directly before Harry, was a very naked, and very impressive looking man. Harry felt his breath catch as he took in the sight before him before he quickly diverted his eyes.



Barty was hurrying forward now with an elegant black robe with silver embroidered trim. The man-Voldemort, reached out an arm and allowed Barty to slip it over his shoulder, and then maneuvered around to slip it around Voldemort's other arm. Voldemort completed wrapping himself up loosely in the robe and took a few steps forward, clearing himself of the mess that remained where he and the cauldron had been only moments before.



Barty quickly took several steps back before falling to one knee and bowing his head reverently. Harry could see enough of the man's face to see the wide, insane smile that graced Barty's face, and suddenly realized he was sporting much the same look, despite his light-headedness and pain.



He looked back up at the Dark Lord who he had just helped to resurrect. It was not what he had been expecting; not with the serpentine quality that his homunculus had featured so strongly. This man looked... like a man. Human. A lean, lithe body, lightly muscled with long shapely limbs, a slender neck and a striking face. Harry realized that he could see the same features that he had seen on the shade of a 16-year old Tom Riddle, from his second year; now aged to adulthood.



What stood before him was a tall, powerful, and if Harry was being honest with himself, incredibly attractive man. He appeared to be no older than thirty, although he could probably pass for a bit younger – which again, Harry was quite startled by. His lips were thin, his nose was long and refined, but rounded a bit on the end. His eyes were the same piercing ruby red slits that Harry had become accustomed to, and he found himself glad that they hadn't changed to something more human with the rest of him.



His hair was a bit of a mess, but Harry suspected the man would waste no time in trimming it and cleaning himself up. It looked like it hadn't all grown in at the same rate, so it was rather uneven in some parts. The longest it got was just above shoulder length, and it had a gentle wave to it.



Harry watched, transfixed, as a hand, with long slender fingers came up and ran through the hair, pushing it back behind his ear. The man grinned. Voldemort grinned. Harry found himself smiling again. This man was his new Lord. This beautiful, powerful, man...



"Wormtail – my wand," the man spoke and the voice startled Harry. It was deeper than he had expected. Smooth yet whispery. Like warm melted chocolate.



Wormtail was still cradling his handless arm and he whimpered and cowered as he quickly shuffled forward and pulled out Voldemort's wand and handed it over.



Voldemort smiled mildly at him and then turned away, and took two steps until he was standing directly before Harry and looking down on him. Harry's breath caught as he looked up at the other man. He could feel tremendous waves of magic radiating from him, and it was intoxicating. Part of Harry wanted to close his eyes, fall back onto the floor, and just fall asleep while basking in the feel of the magic washing over him like waves. But he held himself together and kept his eyes open.



Voldemort brought his wand down and pointed it directly at him. Harry didn't feel the slightest bit of apprehension at the sight, and simply waited. Whatever spell it was that Voldemort cast, it was non-verbal, so Harry never heard it. But he felt the magic focus through the wand and then assault him in a powerful rush that seemed to course through his entire body, and dance across his skin.



He gasped at the intensity and felt himself waver from side to side before he managed to regain control of his balance.



A small keening sound escaped his throat, but he made no other noise while the magic did it's work. When it did finally leave him, he suddenly found that all of the burning, stinging, pain, that had been dancing at the back of his consciousness, was now gone. He glanced down at his bare chest to find the skin there unmarred. He looked to his right bicep and found it equally lacking any evidence of the rune he had carved into it, earlier that hour. He was even clean now. The blood had been removed from his skin, and his pants were no longer stained with it.



He looked back up and smiled. "Thank you, my Lord," Harry breathed.



The corner of Voldemort's mouth turned up slightly and he gave a curt nod. He then turned his attention on Wormtail and asked for his arm. A moment later, Wormtail's missing hand had been replaced with a chrome-finished hand that apparently worked just as good as the old one had. Wormtail cowered and bowed, and sniveled while profusely thanking his master.



Barty seemed disgusted by the Wormtail's sniveling, but his face instantly turned awed reverence when he looked upon Voldemort.



"Will you be summoning the others tonight, my Lord?" Barty asked as he bowed his head.



"Not tonight, Barty. In light of recent events, I have decided to rework some of my plans and wish to complete a few tasks before calling my followers back to me," Voldemort said easily as he began to stride out of the ritual circle and towards the doors that Harry had come in through. "Return Potter's wand to him, Barty."



"Yes, my Lord," Barty said as he quickly reached into the pocket where he had stored Harry's wand.



"Potter, collect your things and come with me," Voldemort said without even bothering to look back.



Harry blinked in surprise and quickly stood to his feet. He staggered a bit and felt a rush of dizziness. He shook himself, trying to sort himself out, but was pretty sure that even though he'd been healed, he was still probably pretty low on blood.



"Ah yes. Wormtail, I believe I told you to have a blood restorative ready?" Voldemort said as he collected a pile of parchment from the side table.



Wormtail squeaked and fumbled into his pocket for a moment before pulling out a vial and making his way towards the still unsteady Harry. Barty was now standing beside him, offering Harry his wand. Harry quickly grabbed both offered items, slipped his wand into the back pocket of his pants, uncorked the bottle and downed the potion in a single quick movement. He handed the empty bottle back to Wormtail, trying not to glare at the man too much.



He nodded his head at Barty and offered the other man a grin, which he returned. It was a strange sense of camaraderie, that he felt with this man who had been masquerading as his teacher all year. The intense suspicion that had always filled Barty's eyes, or rather, 'Moody's' eye, seemed to have disappeared now, replaced by respect.



"Thanks," Harry said quickly to Barty before turning and jogging to the side of the room where he had left his folded shirt and robe. Voldemort seemed to have collected his things now and was waiting impatiently by the door. As soon as Harry had picked up the bundle, the Dark Lord was turning and walking out into the hall.



Seeing that he didn't have time to put the clothes back on, he simply darted after the other man, carrying the bundle under his arm. He caught up quickly, but had to walk fast to keep up with the other man's long confident strides.



Harry followed in silence as Voldemort went down several corridors, back to the entry hall, up the stairs to the second floor, and then directly towards the study that Harry remembered clearly from his visions.



Upon entering the room, Voldemort walked over to a large wooden desk, pulled out his wand, and summoned an ornately carved and finely upholstered wooden and leather chair that had been shoved towards the back of the room against the wall, and placed it directly behind the desk. He smirked down at it with a look of triumph on his face. Harry had a feeling the man was gloating to himself that he could now make use of the chair, rather than relying on the tiny floating seat he had been using prior to the resurrection of his proper body.



"Sit," Voldemort said dismissively as he flicked his wand again, and another chair zoomed across the floor from where it had been shoved up against the wall in a corner somewhere. It came to rest directly opposite the desk and the seat that Voldemort himself was now sitting down in.



Harry quickly made his way over to the offered chair and sat while he shifted his bundle of clothes onto his lap. Before anything else, he shifted and unwrapped his robes until he found the inner pocket where he had placed his shrunken trunk and pulled it out.



"I brought more books," Harry said as he did all this and he glanced over just in time to see the lights of interest flicker in the other man's eyes. He grinned and bent over to place the trunk on the floor in front of him. He reached behind him and pulled his wand free of his back pocket. He tapped the trunk simply and it instantly expanded.



Harry glanced up then, silently asking for permission before opening it. Voldemort smirked and nodded his head while giving a tiny wave of his fingers in approval.



A moment later and Harry had hissed the password, opened his third compartment, and had begun pulling out more books. As he worked, Voldemort sat back in his chair and ran his long fingers over the carved wooden armrests and the soft fabric tops and another small triumphant look crossed his face.



Harry glanced up and smirked. "I can't even imagine how much of a relief that must be... finally having a proper body back," Harry said before ducking his head and continuing to pull out books.



Voldemort narrowed his eyes slightly and rose an eyebrow at him, making Harry wonder if he should have just kept his mouth shut. After all, it was still entirely within reason for Voldemort to blame him for the loss of his last body.



Part of him wanted to apologize for the loss of the Dark Lord's last body, but he refused to let himself do that because it would be admitting fault, and Harry was still convinced that whatever had resulted in the Dark Lord's last fall, was in no way directly caused by his fifteen month old self. His mum, perhaps, but he could find no logical, fathomable excuse as to how he could have done it.



Unless he had been born with some inexplicable resistance to the killing curse. While that would be exceedingly handy, Harry had no intention of testing out that theory, only to be proved wrong... and end up dead.



"You've brought me quite a lot of books," Voldemort mused as he watched Harry continue to pull them out.



Harry grinned up at him. "I've been busy. I've gotten really quick at copying books, actually. It was really slow in the beginning, but I think I've got it down to a science now. Goes real fast. I've been trying to copy every book in Slytherin's study that looks strong enough to survive the spell. The real fragile and crumbly ones would take more effort, and I'm afraid I might damage them in the process."



"I can show you a variation on the spell that I used to restore the ones I worked on."



Harry's eyes lit up. "Really? That would be great. I saw the big pile that looked like they'd been worked on. I figured you probably did that when you were at Hogwarts fifty years ago, but didn't know how exactly you did it. I tried looking up some spells, but the books all seemed too delicate and I was afraid I would just screw them up."



"It is not a complicated spell. I'm sure you can manage just fine. I believe that you were also hoping to learn the way to prevent someone from casting the affinitatem reveleo spell on you?"



Harry blinked once in confusion before his mind went over the name of the spell and realized that it was pretty obvious what it probably was. "The spell that will tell someone that my magic is Dark?" Harry asked, and Voldemort nodded. "Yes, that would definitely be something I should learn."



"Yes it probably is. The counter to it has two levels of proficiency. The first will simply nullify the spell and return no response at all, however with practice, you can cause the spell to return a false response of your choosing. It is more difficult, but would it would probably be best if you learned to do it, since getting no response from the spell will likely make whoever cast it, suspicious."



Harry nodded.



"We can go over these things, and a few other matters I wish to discuss the next time you come. Until then, I have a task for you."



Harry's eyes lit up and he sat up straighter. "Yes?" he asked with a mixture of anticipation and anxiety.



"All of the books you have brought me so far were all lost to me after my sixth year. By that time, Dumbledore had managed to speak with the ghost of a certain person and began to suspect that whatever it was that I was up to, it was connected with the girls bathroom on the second floor. I had very few opportunities after that point to go down there.



"At the end of each school year, Dumbledore would always come up with some subtle excuse to have my things searched," Voldemort continued, making a sneering face. "Because of this, I was forced to find an alternative location to... hide certain objects. Even at the end of my seventh year, I was still being watched annoyingly closely and was forced to leave behind a great deal of my possessions. I would like for you to retrieve them for me."



"Alright," Harry said eagerly.



"Most of these objects are in fact objects, however some are books. You are not to make copies of the books for yourself before hand."



Voldemort could see a flicker of disappointment flash through Harry's eyes for a moment, but Harry quickly nodded. "That's fine. Where do I find these things?"



"There is a magical room that you can access from the seventh floor corridor. The room only appears when properly summoned. There is a tapestry of a wizard that is trying to teach a group of trolls in tutus how to dance ballet," Voldemort made a disgusted face and rolled his eyes before continuing. "Walk past the wall opposite the tapestry three times while repeating in your mind, 'I need the room where things are hidden'. After the third pass, the door will appear."



Harry's eyes went wide and he grinned. "That's brilliant. How'd you find something like that?"



"I will admit that it was something of a fluke. Knowledge of the room seemed to have been lost to all else and I could only find one document that made reference to it. The room was considered 'legendary' and as such, assumed to not exist," he smirked and made a scoffing noise. "It is referred to as the Room of Requirement. Anyway, when you enter the room it will likely look like a giant junk heap. The room is quite vast and it would seem to be very easy to loose track of things inside it. The items I hid there are all contained within a single box with a space expansion charm on it and it is locked. However my magical signature is likely still on the box and it is entirely possible that if you remove it from the box the school's wards will detect it. You will need to extract the objects from the box and put them in your trunk. The password is parseltongue. A simple open will do the trick.



"To locate the box, enter the room, immediately turn left and follow the wall until you reach the corner. Look for a very large, broken, marble statue. The box is dark green. It may take some digging to find it."



Harry nodded his head. "Okay. Is there any chance that a simple 'accio Tom Riddle's box' might work, or do I need to actually go searching through the junk to find it?"



Voldemort stiffened and Harry felt the magic in the room grow cold and still. Harry instantly knew he must have made a mistake.



"How... do you know that name?" the man hissed as he looked up at Harry through narrowed eyes.



Harry swallowed a thick lump in his throat.



"Was it the old man? Is he going around telling people that name?" Voldemort said, and spat the last two words like they were filthy.



Harry's mouth floundered for a second before he took a deep breath and tried to regain his courage.



"Actually... you sort of told it to me."



Voldemort sat up and eyed Harry through narrowed eyes. "One of those instances where you were in my head? I seriously doubt that to be the case, since I have not even thought that name, even to myself, in quite a while."



"Er, no. Not exactly. It was in my second year. I sort of spoke with your um... 16-year old self on two separate occasions. There was this old magical artifact that found its way into the school. It possessed a girl and she opened the Chamber of Secrets and let the basilisk out. That was the year I discovered the chamber and –"



"HOW!"



"Huh?"



"How did the diary get to the school!" Voldemort yelled and the powerful anger in the magic was swirling all around the pair of them like a hurricane. Although it was apparently invisible to all the world except Harry, who seemed inexplicably tuned into it. He visibly shivered, and yet it was agood kind of shiver, as the powerful dark anger blew through him.



He took a deep breath, pulling himself back together.



"Uh.. Malfoy. Lucius Malfoy did it. He – He was trying to ruin Arthur Weasley, and stop this bill Mr. Weasley was sponsoring. It was a muggle protection act or something, and it was gaining ground in the Wizengamot. Lucius figured if he managed to cause some horrible incident at Hogwarts and connect Weasley's name to it, it would ruin him and stop the bill. So he slipped the diary into the cauldron of Weasley's daughter, Ginny, while they were shopping in Flourish and Blott's the summer before school started. She started writing in it and ended up possessed. At one point, she got scared and started to suspect that she was the one causing students to get petrified so she tossed the diary into a toilet. I found it..."



Voldemort's anger seemed to be simmering now and he sat back in his chair, giving Harry a curious look. "Did you now? What happened when you found it?"



"Well... I wrote in it. But only once. You... or.. you're younger self, I suppose? He wrote back. He told me his name was Tom Riddle, but at that time I had no idea that he was you. Then he sucked me into the diary, almost like a pensieve memory. I watched the memory of you finding Hagrid with his acromantula and accusing him of having set the creature on the students on accident. The whole thing was just to lead me down the wrong trail, of course. Anyway, I kept the book in my trunk, but sometime later, Ginny heard me and my er... friends talking about it and she panicked when she realized that I had it, and that you might reveal all her secrets to me. Oh, she had a crush on me, and she had apparently been writing about that a lot in the diary. Um... long story short, she broke into my dorm, ransacked my stuff, and stole it back. End of the school year, the diary possessed her enough to lure her down into the Chamber alone and tried to drain her of all her magic so that the shade could gain corporeal form."



"What happened then?" Voldemort said, his face growing harder. Harry swallowed and then sighed.



"Er... nothing good. I mean... well, I was twelve!" Harry exclaimed defensively, all of a sudden. "I was still the very definition of a good Gryffindor. You know... hero complex and all. Ginny was my best mate's sister, and I figured out where the entrance to the Chamber was and that I – as a parselmouth – was the only one who could go down and save her. So I did. I didn't realize that Tom Riddle was behind it, or that Tom Riddle was you until I got down there and found this sort of non-corporeal version of him standing there in the chamber, over Ginny's unconscious body. After a bit of banter, he showed me the way his... er, your full name was mixed around to become the anagram I am Lord Voldemort. It was after that that I had to kill the basilisk, while trying to save Ginny, and escape."



"You, as a twelve year old, really killed the basilisk! How!" Voldemort hissed, with far more curiosity and disbelief than the anger he had shown only a moment earlier.



"A sword, actually. The basilisk bit my arm, and I had the sword in my hand. The blade went straight through the upper pallet of it's mouth and through it's brain. One of it's fangs went right into my upper arm, though, and broke off."



"The basilisk bit you?"



"Yeah... the sixteen-year old shade of your younger self was almost corporeal at that moment and he was basically just standing there and mocking me while I slowly died. I figured, if I was going to die, I was going to take him with me, so I pulled the fang out of my arm and stabbed the diary with it."



Voldemort's eyes narrowed and his lips thinned with anger.



"Basilisk venom. How ironic..."



"Huh?"



"There are extremely few things that can destroy what that artifact was..."



Harry hung his head. "I... I apologize... I'm sure it was an important artifact to you. I mean... I'm not sorry I didn't end up dead, but in retrospect, if I could have gotten out of there alive without destroying the book, I would now. At the time I was rather desperate though, since they were threatening to close the school if the attacks didn't stop. If Hogwarts closed... well, I'd have to go back to those muggles for good and... yeah. I was desperate. I'm sorry."



Voldemort was deathly silent for a long moment and Harry could feel the icy anger of his magic floating through the air like a deadly mist. Suddenly it began to dissipate and Voldemort actually sighed. Harry looked up and blinked, in surprise.



"I will not direct all of my anger towards you. You were a young, ignorant child, and you had no idea of what it was you were doing. Lucius, however, knew entirely too well how important that item was to me and will learn how serious of an infraction he has committed," Voldemort finished with an angry hiss and his ruby red eyes glowed in anger.



"So... how is it that you are not dead?" Voldemort asked flatly after a moment.



"Hm?"



"The basilisk. It bit you. Why aren't you dead?"



"Oh! That."



Voldemort rolled his red eyes and waved his hand for Harry to continue.



"Right... well, Dumbledore's phoenix flew down there and it cried it's tears onto the wound and healed it."



"Dumbledore's bird? That's curious..."



"Is it?"



"Why would it suddenly appear down in the chamber? How would it know to find you there? For that matter, how would it even get in?"



"Well, when I went down into the chamber, I didn't close the door behind me. Didn't think to, honestly. Afterwards, Dumbledore said that I had to have shown true loyalty to him to have called Fawkes to me," Harry mumbled, feeling entirely idiotic for ever having been so loyal to such a lying, manipulative old bastard.



"I doubt that. It is far more likely that the old fool sent the bird after you. I suspected for a long time that Dumbledore had not only figured out where the entrance to the chamber was, but had a pretty good idea that Slytherin's creature was a basilisk. He had no proof, of course, and had no way of getting down there himself without a parseltongue to open the way."



Harry sat up straighter and felt renewed anger boiling inside him. "So you're saying he knew I was down there. He let me go down there and battle a fifty-foot basilisk, alone, knowing it was going to happen, and the only assistance he lent me was his filthy bird? I didn't close the entrance so if he seriously knew I was down there, he could have come down after me..."



"He led you to come down after me to get the stone in first year, did he not? He has allowed you to stay in this ridiculous tournament, knowing that it was most likely a plot to kill you; has he not? Honestly, I am often unsure if he is perhaps trying to get you killed, but that just doesn't make any sense..."



Harry clenched his fists and teeth as he boiled in his own rage. "We need to know what that damn prophecy says," he growled out.



Voldemort's head flew up and he looked at Harry with surprise for a moment before it shifted to curiosity. "You know of the prophecy?"



"Only of it. I don't know any of what it says. My er... companion told me that even you don't know the whole thing."



"It spoke to you of the prophecy?" Voldemort said, and he scowled a bit for reasons Harry was unsure of.



"Only after I asked him about it. I remembered you thinking about it, during a few of my visions. I asked him if he knew what the prophecy said and he said that he only retained impressions of knowledge from you, but not always specifics. He knew of the prophecy, but not the exact wording of it. He also knew that even you did not have the entire thing."



Voldemort looked both thoughtful and irritated for a few long minutes.



"You are to never tell anyone else of the prophecy's existence," he said finally, in short, clipped tones.



"Of course," Harry said instantly. "Not like I can tell anyone anything though, since I don't even know what it says." Harry grumbled under his breath and ran his hand through his messy hair, feeling rather frustrated. "Look..." he began after a long moment, "If you don't want to tell me what it says, then I certainly can't make you, but I'll still ask, at least this once. Can you tell me anything about it? I mean... it is basically the reason my entire life has been one giant crazy mess. Some prophecy, made by some unnamed seer, basically set the most powerful Dark Lord in half a millennium after me, and then resulted in the craziest, most manipulative old bastard alive, to target me and make my life a living hell. I would really like to know what the hell brought all of this down on my head."



Voldemort eyed Harry with cold, calculating eyes for a long, uncomfortable moment before the corner of his mouth turned up the slightest bit in amusement.



"Alright Potter. The prophecy was not made by some nameless seer, but non other than the pathetic excuse for a divination teacher, currently stationed at your school."



"Trelawney!" Harry shrieked and nearly choked on his own shock. "That batty old loon! But she's a total fraud! You cannot seriously mean that my whole life has been fucked to hell and back because of HER!"



Voldemort actually cackled at this point and looked decidedly amused as he propped his left elbow on the armrest, and rested his hand in his long curling fingers. "Yes, her. But apparently, this was one of her exceedingly few real prophecies."



"Are you sure? I mean, she prophesizes my death every week in class. It's like clockwork. Every week she has some new and creative way in which I'm going to die a horrible nasty death. What if the whole thing is bull? What if there really is no prophecy?"



"I have seen the memory of my spy who witnessed it being prophesied. I am sure that it was authentic, Potter. I would not still be seeking it, or paying it any attention, if I had my doubts about whether or not it was legitimate."



Harry expelled a great breath of air and fell back into his chair. He sat there for a long second, processing the mindblowing idea that bloody Trelawney had been the one who made the prophecy, when a memory flickered in the back of his mind.



"Her second true prophecy..." Harry whispered and Voldemort looked at him curiously.



"Pardon?"



"Dumbledore told me once..." Harry hesitated and then looked up, meeting the Dark Lord's eyes. "At the end of 3rd year, just before I found out about Wormtail and my godfather, I was in the Divination classroom, a bit after class and Trelawney suddenly went into a sort of trance. She said something like 'the servant will break free and set out to rejoin his master. The Dark Lord will rise again with his servant's aid, greater and more terrible than ever he was.' I didn't know what to make of it at the time, but then, that night, everything with Wormtail was revealed, and he escaped. I told Dumbledore about what Trelawney said and he told me that it was probably her second real prophecy. Bloody hell! Why didn't I ever ask what the first one was? I had the perfect opportunity..." Harry paused and then scowled. "Not that he would have actually told me, of course."



Voldemort snorted. "Of course he wouldn't have. That old man holds onto his secrets with all his strength," he paused and looked at the scowling boy opposite him and smirked. "Well, would you like to hear what of it I do know?"



Harry's head jerked up and his eyes were wide and suddenly filled with hope and excitement. "Yes! Please, my Lord."



Voldemort's smirk widened. "Fine. The Death Eater who overhead the prophecy was there for the majority of the meeting the two had – it was apparently a job interview for the Divination position. About half way through, Trelawney went into a trance and said 'The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches...Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... '. At that point, the innkeeper of the Hogshead interrupted my spy, and prevented him from hearing whatever came after."



Harry looked deeply focused at this point. "Can you say it again?" he asked, without really looking back up at the Dark Lord.



"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches...Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... " Voldemort repeated with a bored air of disinterest.



Harry nodded his head slowly and finally looked back up, making eye contact. "So as far as we know, it never actually says anything about me being the one who 'vanquishes' you, simply that I supposedly have the power to do so... which really doesn't make sense. In reality, it's more like, I have the power to prevent anyone else from 'vanquishing' you... Or perhaps you already invalidated the prophecy, by coming after me? Like, maybe at some point in the distant future I could have grown strong enough to 'vanquish you', but by you interfering when I was a baby, and getting a piece of your soul lodged in me, you've made the prophecy null. Or maybe prophecies don't even work that way... I really don't understand this seer shite nearly enough. I hate divination," Harry grumbled and scowled.



"There has to be something more significant to the prophecy," he continued. "More that might explain some things if we knew the whole prophecy. It really doesn't make sense from just that... Was I really the only child born at the end of July who had parents who had er... thrice defied you?"



"There was one other."



Harry sat straighter as curiosity took over. "There was?"



"Yes. The Longbottom's had thrice defied me, and also had a son born at the end of July. You were born on the 31st, while he was born on the 30th."



"Neville!" Harry choked. "Bloody hell!" he gasped and then laughed. "Wow... now that's hard to imagine. I can't fathom Neville Longbottom vanquishing anyone, least of all you." Harry shook his head and chuckled.



"Yes..." Voldemort drawled.



Harry sighed and looked deep in thought again. "So the only people who know about the prophecy at all, as far as we know, is you, me, Dumbledore, your spy, and Trelawney – but the only ones we know who know the full prophecy are Dumbledore and Trelawney?"



"It is unlikely that Trelawney actually knows it. My understanding is that she is somehow completely ignorant of her own prophetic visions."



"Ah. Yes. She was that way after that prophecy about Wormtail... Once she came out of her trance, she had no idea that she had said anything odd." Harry paused again for a moment before speaking. "Do you think it might still be in her sub-conscious, even if she isn't consciously aware of it?"



Voldemort's brows rose slightly and he sat forward. "That seems plausible."



"Do you think Trelawney knows occlumency? I mean... she's such an idiot, I don't see her as having the propensity for it..."



"Are you suggesting that someone use legilimency on her? I only have a few followers capable of such a thing, none of them currently aware of my return, and none of them in a proper position to use the technique against her. There is, theoretically one, however I am unsure as to his allegiances at the moment and am not yet willing to expose myself to him."



"I could do it," Harry said eagerly. "Use legilimency against Trelawney, I mean. And I'm in her class every week, so I get loads of opportunities. She's always focused on me, and frequently stares right at me to try and make her predictions seem that much more ominous."



"You? You can perform legilimency?" Voldemort asked with an amused air of disbelief.



"Yeah. I mean, when I started doing it in the fall, I had no idea what it was even called, I just sort of did it."



"You just sort of did one of the most advanced and complicated forms of mind magic?" Voldemort echoed with sarcastic disbelief.



Harry blinked. "Erm... yes? It was one of those things that I kind of just knew how to do one morning when I woke up. It was like the morning that I woke up and just knew that certain breeds of dragons could understand parseltongue. I had a problem, and was stressing over how to find a solution to it, and... I think I spent that night sort of bemoaning my problems to my c-companion... and uh... well, in retrospect, he probably gave me the knowledge as a solution."



"It gave you the knowledge?" Voldemort repeated incredulously. "A piece of my soul just gave you the knowledge of how to use legilimency?"



"I think it was more of a really solid foundation, and an understanding of how it was theoretically supposed to work. It took several tries for me to really get the hang of just what to do and how to do it."



"Has it just given you any other bits of knowledge like that?" Voldemort asked, incredulously.



Harry twisted up his face as he thought it over. Had it? He really wasn't sure...



"I think he put the idea into my head to go back down to the chamber when I was trying to come up with somewhere private that no one else could get to. I just sort of woke up one morning knowing that it would be the perfect place for me to go to endure the hells of the accellerant potion. I'm pretty sure that he also 'inspired' me to explore the chamber further to see if there was more to it than just the anti-chamber where the basilisk corpse was. However, at the same time, I don't think he told me where the entrance to Slytherin's study was, I found that on my own."



"That is not the same thing as having given you the ability to use an extraordinarily complex bit of magic," Voldemort pointed out airily.



Harry shrugged, "No, but it was the only other instance I could really come up with of my having just known something that I shouldn't have. I wonder though, if maybe me having such an easy time with the legilimency might be another part of that magical power I gained through my connection with you. You know, like how I can perform parselmagic, even though there's no history of it in the Potter line."



"I suppose that is plausible... how good are you at it?"



"Parselmagic?"



"No, fool. Legilimency."



"Oh, right. Well... I think I'm pretty good at it. I've used it on several students, and a bit on Professor McGonagall."



"You used legilimency on McGonagall?" Voldemort asked with an air of surprise mixed with amusement.



"Yeah, I wanted to test it out. I only scanned surface thoughts with her because I didn't know if she'd be able to sense it or not. When I used legilimency on Viktor Krum, he seemed to sense that something was off, but didn't quite know what it was."



"Krum? Isn't he the champion from Durmstrang?"



"That's right."



"Hmm... it is not terribly surprising that he would notice, and others wouldn't. They don't shy away from teaching the dark arts at Durmstrang, so he has probably been exposed to some mind magics during his education." Voldemort seemed to contemplate something for a moment before refocusing on Harry. "I highly doubt that Trelawney of all people would even be capable of mastering occlumency, even if she tried. However, despite her lack of mental shields, the information may be buried deeply in her subconscious. It may not be a simple matter to find it. More specifically, it may take you quite a bit of time to search for it."



Harry nodded thoughtfully. "Well... I'll look for an opportunity to discreetly go digging around in her head. See if I can come up with anything. If an opportunity presents itself, I'll slip in and take a look around. If it doesn't... perhaps I'll find a way to make an opportunity present itself. At least I'm in her class, so if I go pay her a visit, no one will question me doing it."



"Good Potter. Do that. Also, before you leave tonight, I have one more thing to give you," he said as he reached forward and pulled a drawer out of the desk. Harry straightened his back and waited, wondering what it could be.



A moment later, Voldemort retracted his hand with something clasped in it. He stood and Harry instantly stood as well. This action caused the bundle of shirt and robes in his lap to fall to the floor, thus reminding him that he hadn't actually put his shirt back on the entire time he was sitting there. He suddenly felt a little stupid and very exposed.



His embarrassment was pushed to the side as the Dark Lord came to stand directly in front of him and held out his hand, presenting Harry with what looked like leather cuff, with loose leather strips for tying it closed.



Harry blinked at it in mild confusion.



"You cannot be marked. Not yet, at least. There is too great a risk of exposure, and keeping your allegiance to me secret is of great importance," Voldemort began to say in response to the confused look on Harry's face. Voldemort brought his wand hand up and tapped the leather cuff while saying "morsmordre". A small version of his mark; the skull with the snake coming out of it's mouth – appeared as if it had been branded into the leather all along.



"Wear it. It will warm up whenever I use the mark to summon my Death Eaters. I can also use it to summon you specifically, and it will also serve as a portkey that will send you directly to my entry hall."



Harry's face lit up with excited understanding as he reached out and was handed the leather cuff. "Brilliant..." he whispered, reverently. "How do I activate the portkey?"



"Parseltongue," Voldemort said dismissively. "Simply say §morsmordre§ while holding it and it will activate. Speaking the word in English will make the mark appear or disappear. Speak it in parseltongue and it will activate the portkey. Obviously, you should keep the mark cleared when at school."



Harry nodded his head to show that he understood. It was strange hearing another person slip in and out of parseltongue so easily, but Harry realized he could actually tell the difference between the two now. Even though the switch had been subtle. Parseltongue still sounded like English to him, it just had an extra something to it... as well as sounding sort in innately hissy.



Harry quickly began to attach the cuff to his left arm. When he went to tie the loose leather pieces, they actually tied themselves to the perfect tightness and he grinned. Once it was properly in place he looked up at Voldemort and smiled. "Thank you, my Lord."



The corner of Voldemort's mouth pulled up and Harry could see the pleased approval reach the man's eyes.



"You may get dressed," Voldemort said dismissively and Harry felt his cheeks warm up and he quickly grabbed his button-down shirt and slipped it on. "I want you to inform me immediately if you have one of these visions of yours. I want to see if I can detect when you are in my mind."



"Yes, of course," Harry said as he finished up the last of the buttons and began to slip his robes on.



"You may visit the library now. I need to speak with Barty, but you will need to use his portkey to return to the castle. I will send him to fetch you there once he and I are done."



Harry nodded his head and bent down to tap his wand on his trunk and shrink it back down. He snatched it up, slipped it into his inner pocket and did a quick bow. "Sounds fine. I can wait however long you need. Um... one more question though."



"Yesss?" Voldemort drawled while raising a single brow.



"Er... when is it okay for me to come via the portkey, and when is it not? I... I don't want to show up uninvited and anger you by interrupting something..."



"You may come at anytime that is convenient to you Potter. I will not be angered as long as you do not interrupt me personally while I am specifically doing something else. If I am busy, wait in the library, or in the entry hall. I will get to you when I am able."



"Alright. Thank you, sir. I'll go to the Room of Requirement as soon as I'm able tomorrow and locate the box. If I can slip out again tomorrow night, I'll bring the box then."



"Good. You are dismissed."



Harry did a quick bow of his head and turned and left the room. As he closed the door behind him, he saw Barty climbing the stairs and heading his way. The two nodded at each other in passing as Harry went down the hall towards the library.



He entered the oddly familiar and comfortable room and couldn't help but smile. He sat down in one of the stuffed arm chairs, unshrunk his trunk, grabbed one of the books he'd been reading recently and resumed where he had last left off. About twenty minutes later, the door to the library opened and 'Moody's' head popped through. Harry did a small double-take at seeing the auror's old scarred and pot-marked face, instead of Barty's, but quickly recovered and packed up his things.



The two quickly made their way to the entry hall, and then used Barty's portkey to return to the secret tunnel they had left from.



Another fifteen minutes and Harry was slipping in through the portrait hole and into the Gryffindor common room. He was absolutely exhausted and was eagerly looking forward to his bed. Despite the blood replenishment potion, he was still feeling rather lightheaded and weak on his feet. A good sleep would do him a lot of good.



He was also feeling rather overwhelmed by the events of the night. But it wasn't a bad sort of overwhelmed. He just felt like there had been so much that had happened, and yet here he was, back in Gryffindor tower, and to everyone else, nothing had changed at all. It would be weird to act like the world was the same tomorrow as it had been yesterday.



No one else knew it yet, but that night, the whole world had changed.



And Harry had helped it happen.



– –



Harry slept through breakfast the next day, and was only up about a half hour before it was time for lunch. He spent a bit of time in the common room immediately after lunch with Hermione, while the two of them worked together on some of the book translation, while Ron played chess against some third-year. After Ron had thoroughly trounced the younger student in three games, he came over and Hermione decided that was the perfect time to switch to homework.



Harry had spent the time utterly distracted by the events of the previous night, but had managed to keep himself moving forward by the interesting puzzle the book presented. Now that he had switched over to his transfiguration essay, he was finding himself entirely unable to stay focused.



His mind kept wandering to the tasks he knew he needed to start working on. First was to find this hidden room that Voldemort had told him about, and recover the Dark Lord's things.



Next, he needed to try using legilimency on Trelawney and see if he can recover any of the prophecy from her mind. He had divination on Mondays, so at least he wouldn't have to wait all week to start working on it.



Going over the tasks he needed to work on was the only thing that could keep his mind from spinning away in circles over the insanity of what he'd taken part in the previous night. He was still indescribably jubilant that everything had gone so smoothly and that it had really, truly worked.



Everything would change now, but it would be behind the scenes for quite a while now. No one else would know. It was so strange to be in on such an enormous secret. Such a reality shattering, profound, huge thing. And no one else knew...



"Harry?"



"Huh?" Harry said, as his head shot up and he blinked at Hermione in mild confusion.



"Are you alright? You seem awfully distracted."



"Oh, yeah... I'm fine. I'm just a bit out of it. I'm probably going to run to the library a bit later. I need to return a couple books."



"I could go with you," she instantly offered, and she had that hopeful glow in her eyes.



"No, it's okay, Hermione. I'm probably going to go for a walk around the castle afterwards," Harry said, trying to give her an innocent, and apologetic smile.



Hermione's eyes narrowed for a split second, before they shifted to dejection and she sighed in defeat. "Alright, Harry. Fine."



An hour and a half later, Harry was standing in the seventh floor corridor with his back to a large tapestry featuring trolls in tutus trying to do ballet. He looked at the blank stone wall slightly dubious. Finally he shrugged his shoulders, closed his eyes and began chanting in his mind 'I need the room where things are hidden', while walking back and forth in front of the wall.



After the third pass, he opened his eyes just in time to see a large door materializing out of nothing.



His eyes widened, and his smile spread across his face. He quickly walked over, pulled the door open and entered. The room on the other side was enormous, and looked to all the world to be a graveyard for broken junk. The ceilings were incredibly high, and the room seemed to go on forever. Harry couldn't actually see any sign of the back wall from where he was standing at the head of the room.



The room was filled with a mountain of broken and damaged furniture, thousands upon thousands of books, many of which looked to be banned; chipped bottles of congealed potions, several rusting swords, and even a bloodstained axe.



Harry walked forward slowly and looked around the room with wide, curious eyes. He lingered at several piles of books, making note to come back with his trunk again later to sift through the room's treasures. As it were, he was on a timetable so he had to force himself to hurry up and went straight for his goal.



He turned back to the wall, followed it all the way down to the corner and looked for the large broken statue. He went ahead and tried to 'accio' the box, but it hadn't worked. Instead, he spent the next ten minutes digging through a mountain of junk until he finally uncovered a green box that fit the description Voldemort had given him.



He knew for a fact it was the correct box when it opened up the second he spoke the parseltongue password.



He cleared himself an open space to work, enlarged his own trunk, and set about the task of removing everything from the box and moving it into his trunk instead. He had to use his first compartment, since it had a space expansion charm on it that provided more room for the wide array of strange and unidentifiable magical objects. A lot of the things in the box wouldn't properly fit inside either of his book storage compartments, so it was the only option.



In the end, he came to realize that there was a lot of stuff inside that seemingly small box, and it took him quite a while to get it all moved over.



Finally, he shrunk his trunk back down, returned it to his pocket, and left for the common room.





Despite his efforts and desires, Harry found it impossible to leave that evening to return to Voldemort. Ron and Hermione were on him like leaches, and by night fall, he was exhausted.



Sunday passed very much the same as Saturday, and Harry was equally distracted. He finished up all of his homework from the previous school week, and spent another hour with Hermione on translating the book. Shortly after 10 o'clock that night, he claimed exhaustion, slipped into the dorm room, transfigured his pillow into another dummy, slipped on his invisibility cloak, made sure his trunk was in his pocket, and flew out the window on his Firebolt. Harry flew low to the ground, so that no one looking up would be able to see him under the cloak, but instead of slipping back into the school and using one of the tunnels, he simply flew on his broom towards Hogsmeade until he felt himself pass through the wards.



This was going to be his first time entering Voldemort's manor house without 'Moody' escorting him. He was both eager and wary. He wished he had a way of letting the Dark Lord know he was coming so that, if it were a bad time, the man could tell him not to. But Voldemort had said he could come any time, and Harry could only hope that were true.



He landed, shrunk his broom and pocketed it. He pulled up his robes and exposed the leather cuff on his arm. He had discovered that it had a waterproof charm on when he had not wanted to remove it during his morning showers. He just didn't feel right allowing it out of his sight, for even a few minutes. Not to mention that he just didn't want to ever take the thing off.



He... liked having it. Wearing it. It was a physical reminder that it had all really happened. A physical symbol of his connection to the Dark Lord.



He tapped it with his wand and whispered "Morsmordre" and the mark appeared on it. It sent a crazed thrill through him and he almost chuckled at how absolutely insane he was for finding this exciting. Fundamentally, this was the mark that symbolized everything that his parents and their allies had dedicated their lives to fighting against. But he had come to realize that that really meant nothing to him. He wasn't indebted to dedicating his life to follow the ideals of people who he never knew. It was his life now, and he was going to chose his path.



And this was his path. He had chosen it, dedicated himself to it, he enjoyed it, and was utterly fucking thrilled that it was really working so far.



He sighed, and did a finite to clear the mark from the cuff. He shifted to parseltongue and said the password again, this time activating the portkey instead. A quiet pop, and a tug behind the navel later and he was landing, unsteadily, in the entry hall of the manor.



– –




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