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



– –



Sirius Black was extremely antsy. He just couldn't sit still. His godson would be partaking in a deadly and dangerous task in just a few days time and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. He couldn't even be there when the damn thing happened. The minister for magic would be there, not to mention 'Mad Eye' Moody and his damned magical eye. Even if Sirius showed up in his animagus form, Moody's damn eye could probably spot him, and then everything would be thrown to the shitter.



He was returning from another trip down into Hogsmeade Village, playing his role as the lovable stray, Snuffles. He came upon the entrance to the cave and transformed back into his human form. He'd been doing this for months now and perhaps he'd gotten complacent, or perhaps his mind was just too distracted by his worries about Harry; whatever the reason, Sirius Black was caught completely off guard when he came face-to-face with a man, leaning against the rock wall beside the entrance to the cave.



He froze for a stunned moment before he had his stolen wand drawn and aimed at the unidentified man's chest. The man in question, who looked to be around twenty years old and had dish-water blond hair tied back into a loose low ponytail and had bright blue eyes, did not actually respond to suddenly having a wand drawn on him. Instead he just grinned and slowly rose his hands to about mid-chest, with his palms out showing that he was unarmed.



"Who are you, and what are you doing here!" Sirius demanded as his eyes began to dart around checking for any signs of an ambush or aurors.



"Don't worry, I'm alone," the man said calmly.



Sirius could detect a trace of amusement in his voice and he narrowed his eyes suspiciously at the young man. "That didn't answer either of my questions."



The blond man grinned wider. "No, I suppose it didn't. My name isn't really all that important, so I'll skip that one and move along to the second instead. What I'm doing here, Mr. Black, is to provide you with some information, and make an offer."



Sirius froze. Whoever this guy was, he knew who Sirius was. How the hell did he find me!



"I mean you absolutely no harm, and if, in the end, you are not interested at all in what I have to offer you, I will leave and you will never hear from me again. I won't tell the aurors or call out dementors or anything of the sort. I was only sent here to deliver a message."



"Sent by who?" Sirius asked.



"We'll get to that," the man said with a smirk.



"And I'm supposed to just trust what you're saying?"



"How about this? I'll make an oath. Swear on my magic. Would that help you feel better?"



Sirius's eyes widened minutely in surprise. Only an idiot would throw out a magical oath carelessly. Magical oaths were serious business.



"Alright, but draw your wand slowly."



The young man nodded his head and snapped his wrist lightly causing a yellow-golden wand to shoot out of a hidden holster and into his hand. Sirius tensed at the sight of it but the man kept his movements slow and obvious. He held his wand in a loose grip, pointing it at his chest and spoke clearly.



"I swear on my magic that I have no ill intentions towards Sirius Black, and have no intention of harming him while I am here today. I do not have, nor will I call in reinforcements, and I swear that I have not, and will not report his location to any branch of the Ministry. I also swear that the information that I am here to deliver to him is, to my knowledge, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So mote it be." A golden light swirled out of the wand and then around the man causing him to glow for a moment before it faded.



Sirius was stunned, but as he fully took in the words, he did feel himself relax, even if only minutely. If the young man standing before him went against his word in any way, he would be left as nothing more than a squib.



"Satisfied?" the man asked and Sirius was pulled out of his shock.



"Alright," Sirius nodded slowly. "I'm listening. So what do you want?"



"I've got quite a bit to say and some things to show you. Can we, perhaps, go into the cave?"



Sirius's eyes narrowed but he nodded his head. He led the man into the cave, and they were instantly greeted by Buckbeak the hippogriff. The man stood a few feet from the large half-horse, half-eagle creature and bowed low. Buckbeak eyed the man for a long moment before it lowered his head and bowed back. The man grinned and walked forward to lightly brush the creatures head before turning back to Sirius who had watched the entire thing with a significant air of surprise.



"Impressive creature. He got a name?" the man asked as he walked to the opposite side of the cave and pulled a small mokeskin pouch from inside his black robes. He tapped it with his wand and it tripled in size.



"His name is... Witherwings," Sirius said.



The man looked up at Sirius with a raised eyebrow and chuckled. "Sure it is." He pulled the opening to the bag open wide and pulled out a large heavy bowl with runes engraved all around it. Sirius's eyes widened again.



"Is that a pensieve?"



The man looked up and grinned as he pulled out two small crystal phials filled with the silvery liquid that he recognized as memories.



"That is correct, Mr. Black. This is a pensieve."



"Those are pretty hard to come by," Sirius said slowly. "Damn expensive and rare."



"That they are," the man confirmed. "I've borrowed this one actually, and have to make sure it gets back undamaged. However what I have to tell you is difficult to believe, and I doubted you would even consider believing any of it without some sort of evidence."



"Okay..." Sirius said slowly as he came to stand beside the man as he conjured a table and two chairs with a few wordless flicks of his wand. Sirius had to admit he was impressed. It was one thing to transfigure a table and chairs from something, but conjuring from nothing was a considerably more difficult thing to achieve. Chances were that the pieces of furniture would dissolve in a couple hours though.



The man placed the pensieve on the center of the table and set the two phials beside it as he sat down in one of the chairs. Sirius followed suit and watched the man suspiciously.



"All I ask is that you keep an open mind and realize that I am not trying to deceive you. I swore an oath to you that what I'm telling you is true to the best of my knowledge and I meant it," the man started and Sirius nodded.



"You are Sirius Black, once the best mate and best man of James Potter, and the man that he and his wife Lily named as the godfather of their son, Harry James Potter," the man began. "This being the case, I am assuming that James Potter at least mentioned to you that there was a prophecy made about Harry Potter...?" the man trailed off as a question.



Sirius stiffened and his eyes went wide. "I have no idea what you're talking about."



The man smirked. "I'm sure you don't. During Lily's third trimester Albus Dumbledore went to the Potters and informed them that they were likely the target of Voldemort because a prophecy had been made that targeted their son. He had been there when the prophecy was first made, and witnessed the entire thing. However another person had been spying on he and the seer and had also overheard part of the prophecy. This individual happened to be a marked Death Eater and took the partial prophecy to Voldemort. Dumbledore told the entire prophecy to the Potters, but I suspect he told them not to tell anyone else, so I would assume that you are unaware of the exact wording, correct?"



Sirius floundered, unsure what was safe to say. He really didn't know what the prophecy said, and this guy clearly already knew about it's existence...



"No, I don't," he admitted finally. "I have no idea what it says."



"I do. I have it right here. Want to see?" he said as he picked up one of the phials and swirled it a little between his fingers.



Sirius felt his heart thrumming loudly in his chest and slowly nodded his head. The man uncorked the phial and slowly poured the silvery liquid out into the bowl in front of them.



"Have you used a pensieve before?" the man asked and Sirius nodded. A moment later they were both 'descending' into it together. They landed suddenly in the center of the Hog's Head pub in Hogsmeade. Sirius blinked for a moment, catching his bearings and looking at the room around him. The Hog's Head was a fairly shady place during the first war. People had been unaware at the time that the pub was actually owned by Dumbledore's brother, Aberforth, and that the headmaster of Hogwarts had taken advantage of its seedier clientele to spy on Darker wizards. Sirius also knew that Dumbledore had used the pub a few times to leak information to the Death Eaters and Voldemort.



"The Hog's Head?" Sirius asked, in surprise.



"Yes, funny thing that, huh?" the other man said. Do you know what Dumbledore was here to do?"



"No," Sirius said shaking his head.



The other man nodded his head towards the door as it opened and Sybil Trelawney walked in, then loudly announced to the barkeep that she was there to see Dumbledore for a very important interview. She also made it a point to mention her great grandmother, who even Sirius recognized as a well renowned Seer.



The barkeep lead her up the stairs and Sirius and the blond man followed them up. Dumbledore was already in the room waiting and the two went through some standard greetings and began to commence the interview.



"He's conducting a job interview!" Sirius asked incredulously. "In the Hog's Head?"



The blond man snorted. The two watched with mild disinterest as the 'interview' continued for a few minutes. "You were an auror," the blond began, stating it rather than asking a question, "so were you trained to spot anomalies in memories?"



"Of course," Sirius said.



"Is there anything... off about this memory? It came from Trelawney, by the way. Just so you know the source."



"Yes, I figured it was her," Sirius said distractedly as he seemed to concentrate on the illusion around them. His brow puckered and he frowned for a moment before his eyes went wide with realization. "She's under the imperius!"



The blond smiled and nodded his head. "I noticed that as well. Funny thing that. If you dig into the memory with your magic you can feel the spots where her exact words have been manipulated. The important part is about to come up, so pay attention here."



A moment later Trelawney's eyes glazed over and her voice changed as she clearly entered a trance and began to recite the prophecy. Sirius watched intently. Half way through they heard the scuffle in the wall outside the room and Sirius was distracted by it for a moment before he refocused on Trelawney. Once she finished speaking there was a knock on the door and Aberforth appeared holding Snape by the collar and began to growl about having found him in the hall eavesdropping by the door.



Sirius looked like he was about to explode in anger when the blond man froze the memory.



"We'll get back to the fact that Severus Snape was the spy who gave Voldemort the partial prophecy later. Lets go back to the actual prophecy," he said as the images before them suddenly reversed and then replayed at the start of the actual prophecy. He paused it again when the disturbance first sounded in the hall.



"This is as far as Voldemort heard," he said turning to Sirius. "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... With that much of the prophecy Voldemort deduced that there were two possible candidates for the identity of the one who would have the 'power to vanquish' him. One was the Potters, the other couple was the Longbottoms. Both Lily and Alice were pregnant and due at the end of July – the seventh month. Both couples had openly opposed Voldemort and had faced against him and survived, on three separate occasions."



"Frank and Alice..." Sirius breathed in a quiet voice.



"Correct. The thing that eventually separated Harry Potter from Neville Longbottom was that Neville was born on the 30th while Harry was on the 31st. So it was the Potters that Voldemort decided to focus his efforts on, and thus, the Potters went into hiding under the Fidelius."



Sirius refocused on the man with suspicious eyes. "You are extremely well informed," he said in a low voice.



"I am. And there's more. First, we need to ask ourselves, what could be behind the fact that Sybil Trelawney was clearly under the Imperius curse while making that prophecy."



Sirius's eyes darkened and he frowned. "The prophecy was fake."



"And what's more, someone wanted it to be overheard by the wrong sort. The only reason to have that conversation in a place like the Hog's Head is if you want someone to overhear it. Look here," the man said pointing to Dumbledore. The memory was still frozen at the moment that the scuffle had begun out in the hall. "Does he look pleased?"



Sirius looked at Dumbledore's aged face and gave a small start of surprise as the anger in his eyes as he glanced at the door. It wasn't the annoyance at being disturbed, it was far deeper than that.



"It looks to me like someone wasn't very pleased that their eavesdropper got interrupted," the blond man mused with a hard look at Dumbledore.



Sirius's brow furrowed for a moment before realization crossed his face. "You think Dumbledore set this up?" he gasped.



"Dumbledore wanted that prophecy to get to Voldemort. Dumbledore put Sybil Trelawney under the Imperios curse," the man said and there was no amusement in his face or voice.



"That's absurd!" Sirius shouted angrily.



"I ask that you reserve judgment. I have one more memory to show you. Come on."



And with that the memory dissolved and the two of them were back in their seats at the conjured table in the cave. The blond man used his wand to siphon the memory out of the basin and back into the phial before uncorking the other one and pouring it in.



They entered the memory to find themselves in Albus Dumbledore's office at Hogwarts and Sybil Trelawney sitting in the chair opposite the Headmaster's desk.



"This is the previous day," the blond man said as he came to stand at the end of the desk and Sirius came to stand beside him.



"The previous day?" Sirius echoed.



"Correct. This is the date that Sybil Trelawney and Albus Dumbledore originally had scheduled time for an interview. In Sybil's modified memories, she recalled getting an owl an hour before the interview from Dumbledore telling her that something had come up and asking to reschedule it for the next day down in the pub. This memory was a bit harder to find, but it was still there. Dumbledore was afraid that if he mangled her memory too much it would have an affect on her Seer's sight."



Sirius gaped at the blond man disbelievingly but his attention was drawn back to the memory as Sybil's voice suddenly shifted to a lower, gravely tone.



The only one with the power to match the Dark Lord approaches...



Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies...



The Dark Lord will come for him and mark him as his equal.



He will have two paths from which to chose. From one path, the End will fall upon us all. From the other, we shall be saved.



The Dark Lord and his Equal will either rule together, or destroy each other.



For either to die, it must be at the hand of the other for neither can die while the other survives...



The blond man stopped the memory and stood there silently as Sirius stood there dumbfounded.



"Can you play it again," Sirius whispered.



The other man nodded and the memory resumed from the beginning of the prophecy, playing through once more.



A thick silence spread through the room for a few long minutes afterwards.



"If you examine the magical signature of the memory you can see that it hasn't been tampered with and she is not under the Imperius here,"the blond said.



Sirius nodded his head slowly, as if numb. "Yes... I noticed," he said hoarsely.



"Do you understand what it means?"



"According to this prophecy, the only way for Voldemort to really die is if he and Harry kill each other..." Sirius said slowly. "Harry has to die..."



The man nodded. "It would appear that Dumbledore either misinterpreted it in the beginning, or he simply hoped that having Voldemort attack the child would be sufficient to destroy the Dark Lord. Dumbledore modified Trelawney's memories and then used the Imperius curse to control her and make her reenact the interview and prophecy in a more public setting – only with a modified prophecy that would make the Dark Lord target the child and try to kill him; thus destroying himself. He used Trelawney, Snape, and the Potters in a scheme to destroy Voldemort without having to actually lift a finger himself. They were all expendable pawns in his plans for the greater good," the man sneered



Sirius seemed to snap out of his stunned silence and turned to look at the man with a horrified expression.



"No!" he hissed.



"Yes!" the man hissed right back. "And when Harry Potter was alive afterwards, and marked on his forehead Dumbledore realized that instead of finishing the prophecy he had only set it in motion. He knew then that Voldemort wasn't really dead and that the scarred child left behind would be left with two paths he could choose from. On one hand, Harry Potter could choose to be a martyr for the Light and destroy the Dark Lord by sacrificing his own life. On the other hand he could go dark and join the Dark Lord, making him unstoppable. Dumbledore, being the master manipulator that he is, decided that he would need to try and control the child to make sure he would make the right choice," again the man sneered the last few lines with disgust.



"However, Dumbledore also knew that James Potter undoubtedly would have told you about the fake prophecy since you were the child's godfather. You would know that Harry had been foretold to be the one who would destroy Voldemort and you would raise him appropriately. With you Harry could have had a happy childhood with people who loved him. He would know what it was like to have joy in his life, and he would want to live. You would also train him to fight. You would have taught him advanced magic and raised him to be a proper marauder," the man smirked at Sirius's surprised expression.



"Dumbledore would have no control over him if he were to be raised by you. Dumbledore didn't need a fighter, he needed a weapon who would die by Voldemort's hands. He didn't need someone strong willed and happy, he needed someone broken and malleable. Someone that he could sculpt into his perfect weapon. The perfect martyr. Harry Potter's childhood was beyond miserable. He was beaten and starved by people who hated him and treated him no better than the Malfoy's treat their house elves. Then he was rescued by Rubeus Hagrid, who was sent by Albus Dumbledore personally. Hagrid, who did nothing but proclaim what a great man Dumbledore is. Dumbledore needed to be Harry's savior. His mentor and the person that Harry looked up to and confided in. The only way that this would all work is if Dumbledore maintained control over Harry's living arrangement.



"Fortunately for him, the rest of the world was under the impression that you had been the Potter's secret keeper. Are you aware who it was who cast the Fidelius around the Potter's house?"



Sirius frowned and shook his head. "I wasn't there. Peter was the only other one there because he was the secret keeper."



"Neither James nor Lily cast the actual spell. Neither had done it before and they didn't trust themselves to the task. They were afraid it wouldn't be cast properly or be done strong enough, so Dumbledore volunteered to cast it for them."



Sirius's face went white and he suddenly looked ill.



"Obviously, since he was there, and he cast the spell, he knew perfectly well who the secret keeper was," the blond finished airily.



"How do you know this?" Sirius whispered hoarsely.



"Peter told me."



Sirius's face went from horror stuck to fury in point-five seconds.



"WHAT! When! You've seen that rat bastard? Where?"



The man chuckled lightly and held up a hand. "We'll be getting to that in a moment actually. Shall we exit the memory?"



Sirius nodded his head jerkily, still clearly upset and a moment later the images around them were dissolving away and they were back sitting in the cave.



The man used his wand to siphon the memory back into the phial and corked it before slipping them back into the bag, followed by the pensieve. He shrunk it down and slipped it back into the inner pocket of his robes.



"As you can see, I still have my magic, so I have not lied to you," he said easily as he settled back into the chair and crossed one leg over the other knee.



Sirius blinked, seemingly confused for a moment before he frowned and nodded his head.



"Dumbledore knew that you were not the one who betrayed the Potters. I have no proof, but I would be willing to bet that he knew that Pettigrew was already a marked Death Eater. I would even be willing to bet that it was he that originally suggested Peter to James as an alternative to you as the secret keeper. Dumbledore wanted Voldemort to get to Harry, after all."



"No..." Sirius said in a weak whisper as he shook his head.



"Denial is more than a river in Egypt, Mr. Black," the man smirked, but Sirius saw no humor in the current situation. The man waited a moment and then spoke again. "He threw you away. You were in his way. You were no longer useful or necessary to his plans, so he considered you expendable – everyone is always expendable if it's for the greater good. He always had the power and the knowledge to get you free, but he let you rot away in Azkaban because as long as you were there, he had control over Harry Potter's life. Control over his weapon."



"No... no, I... I can't believe it," Sirius said again, shaking his head furiously from side to side as his face contorted in anger and despair.



"Dumbledore is not the man that everyone believes him to be. He puts on this grandfatherly facade; the barmy, slightly-senile, but brilliant old wizard that is kind and loving and that you can always trust to do the right thing," he said sarcastically and then snorted. "It's all fake. It's a lie. He puts up a fake persona to put people off their guard. He's a lying manipulative, deceitful old bastard, and you can not trust him. Least of all, with Harry Potter's safety. Dumbledore doesn't want to save Harry, he wants him dead. Why the hell has Harry Potter come face to face with almost certain death in every year he's been at Hogwarts? Ask yourself how many of those things could have been stopped by Albus Dumbledore, and then ask yourself why he didn't stop them?"



Sirius was still shaking his head, but he knew he couldn't deny the truth in the other man's words. He couldn't deny what he had seen in the pensieve. He still didn't know what to think of that prophecy. The real one.



"You said you spoke to Peter," Sirius said after a moment, latching on to a distracting diversion for a moment.



"Yes. I suppose its a good time to transition into the proposition portion of our little talk. Where to start... well, I suppose the direct approach is best. I was sent here by the Dark Lord."



Sirius was suddenly sitting ramrod straight, and at full attention. His mouth was open to say something, but Sirius found himself so stunned by the statement that he didn't know what to say.



"What!" he finally gasped, hoarsely.



"The Dark Lord sent me. He's returned to a body and is already full strength again. Has been for some time now. He's building things back up quietly before going public. He's given me permission to offer you Wormtail. Peter is unaware of this, of course, but who gives a damn what he wants, hmm?" the man chuckled and grinned as he clasped his hands on the knee that was folded over the other leg.



Sirius's jaw floundered for a moment. "Offer me Wormtail? What do you mean? In exchange for what?"



"Even trade. You get to take him and do whatever the hell you want with him – be it torture and kill, or hand him over to the Ministry and get yourself cleared – and in exchange, you join the Dark Lord and take Pettigrew's place."



"NEVER!" Sirius hissed as he stood to his feet.



"Why?" blond asked calmly without so much as flinching at Sirius's outburst.



"Because he's a murdering bastard!"



"And Dumbledore isn't?"



"He killed James and Lily!"



"Dumbledore set them up. Voldemort never would have personally targeted and gone after them if Dumbledore hadn't concocted the fake prophecy and intentionally leaked it to one of the Dark Lord's Death Eaters."



"He's a bigoted bastard. He wants to wipe out all the muggleborns and kill off all the muggles!"



"No he doesn't," the man said simply.



Sirius scoffed. "Oh really?"



"Still under my oath here," the man reminded Sirius with a pointed look. "The Dark Lord doesn't give a damn about the muggleborns so long as they can keep a damn secret and follow the rules, and he has no intention of allowing his Death Eaters to resume slaughtering muggles this time around. The muggles have progressed a long way and their news travels fast now. Attacks upon the muggles would risk our exposure which is, quite literally, the last thing he wants. He wants to gain control over magical Britain and demolish and rebuild the governing system. It is corrupt and run by incompetent fools."



Sirius stared at him for a long minute, still angry and confused. He shook his head slowly and spoke. "I would never betray everyone like that. I would never betray Harry." He paused and gave the blond man a hard glare. "That's why you want me, isn't it? To get to Harry. Voldemort wants to get Harry on his side and you figure that you can do that if you get me to join?" he scoffed and stuck his nose in the air, insulted.



"No. Believe it or not, that is not why I am making you this offer. We have absolutely no intention to try and use you to get Harry Potter to join the Dark Lord. Oh, and still under oath, here," he added, smirking as he waved his wand and conjured a wordless lumos to illuminate the cave. The sun was setting and it was growing a bit dim but Sirius knew that the real point was to demonstrate that the man still had his magic.



Sirius looked back disbelievingly. "Why, then?"



"There are a number of reasons. The Dark Lord is willing to take you in Pettigrew's stead because he knows you'd be a considerably better asset. Wormtail is a worthless ball of sniveling, cowardly, lard. The man is a pathetic dueler, he can't act as a spy except in his rat form, can't really risk being seen in public, he is a rather low powered wizard, he sucks at wards and charms and is only mildly good with transfiguration and herbology, which is still not remotely useful to the Dark Lord.



"The man has no backbone and the only reason he returned to the Dark Lord in the first place was because he hoped that Voldemort could protect him from you, Dumbledore, and Harry Potter. He did not return out of loyalty or a desire to see the Dark Lord reborn, he did it out of fear and in an attempt to save his own sorry hide. He is worthless and a total waste of space.



"In contrast, you were one of the most formidable aurors to cross the Dark Lord's forces during the first war. You are a powerful wizard with a great many useful talents. You are a highly skilled dueler and if we give you Pettigrew and you hand him over to the Ministry, it will clear your name and people will realize that you were not responsible for the Potter's deaths, and not a death eater. They will likely feel guilty for you having been wrongfully imprisoned and you will be welcomed back into the Light with open arms. And when Dumbledore calls his Order back together, you will undoubtedly be invited back in."



Understanding dawned in Sirius's eyes and he scowled. "You want me to be a spy," he hissed.



"Among other things, yes."



"I won't be a murderer, I won't be marked, and I won't betray my friends," Sirius growled.



"You won't be asked to kill if you do not wish to do so. If you ever go on raids you can stun and use other non-lethal spells. As for being marked, obviously it would be unwise to mark you if we wish to use you as a spy, so that is not something you will have to concern yourself with in any sort of immediate situation. As for betraying your friends, well that's relative."



Sirius barked out a disdainful laugh. "Relative, he says."



"We hope to bring Remus Lupin to our side. He is a werewolf; he belongs with the Dark. Dumbledore will never truly push through any reform that benefits werewolves, no matter what he claims. He is the Light Lord, and werewolves are Dark creatures. They do not fall under his protection and he bears them no responsibility. It is a part of the Dark Lord's task to reassure the safety and prosperity of all Dark magic users, both human and creature. When he builds a new magical government the dark creatures will be treated with the respect that they are due."



Sirius snorted. "Moony would never join the Dark."



"He might. If you and Harry joined. The only thing that's keeping him back are his ties to the light. His debt to Dumbledore, who really is only just using him, and his loyalty to you, and to Harry Potter."



"And what about Harry? He wouldn't join you. You would have me betray my own godson? Never. I will never join the dark."



"Let me pose you different question, then," the man said calmly. "Would you join the Dark if Harry chose it?"



"What?" Sirius blanched.



"The prophecy itself says that Harry Potter has two paths. That he could rule by the Dark Lord's side as his equal. If Harry Potter chose that path, would you support him? Would you stand by his side?"



Sirius scoffed. "Harry would never join Voldemort. Voldemort killed his parents. No matter what role Dumbledore might or might not have had in it, it won't change the fact that Voldemort killed James and Lily."



"Hypothetical scenario. If Harry joined the Dark Lord, would you follow?"



"He wouldn't!"



"Hypothetical scenario!" the man said, raising his voice for the first time.



Sirius scoffed and looked away scowling. "If Harry chose to go against Dumbledore... if he... if he joined Voldemort – which he wouldn't... then I'd stand by Harry. He's my godson. I failed him before and left when I should have stayed, but I won't abandon him again. I'd stand by Harry no matter what path he chose. It's my duty. He's mine to protect."



The blond man smiled softly and Sirius was startled and confused by the depth to the expression.



"I sure hope you mean that, Sirius," he said and Sirius watched as the blond man brought his hands up and began to slide a silver ring off his finger. The moment it left his hand completely his appearance shimmered and then melted away.



Sirius gasped as he found himself sitting opposite his godson.



"H-harry?" Sirius asked.



"Will you join us, Sirius? Please?" Harry asked with hope in his voice.



"Whaa.. how... Ha-harry?" Sirius stuttered while his mouth floundered like a fish.



"I'm sorry I had to lie to you Sirius. I've been hiding things and you've been so worried about me, with the tournament and all... but I just couldn't risk telling anyone what's really going on. I couldn't risk anyone finding out the truth. If Dumbledore gets wind of what I'm doing... of who I'm with, then... I don't know. I wouldn't be surprised if he tried to have me killed. Or lock me up somewhere. If he realizes that he's lost control of his weapon; that I've joined Voldemort, he'll probably do anything to keep me from him. There's no telling what Dumbledore will do if he gets desperate. I just couldn't risk it."



"What... what is going on! How did this happen? You... you joined Voldemort! Harry, are you insane!"



"He's nothing like what I used to think he would be. Not really."



"He's Voldemort! He killed your parents!"



"Yeah, well I've forgiven him for that, alright! Besides, he was tricked! Dumbledore was trying to trick him into destroying himself, and me and my parents were just collateral damages! Voldemort was used and manipulated right along with the rest of us! Dumbledore is still doing it! Every year, he has allowed these different situations to spawn and grow out of control, all in the hopes that Voldemort and I will come head to head and finally just destroy each other! I'm not going to be that man's pawn anymore! I refuse to be someone else's weapon!"



"So you'll be Voldemort's weapon!"



"It's not like that! And at least Voldemort is honest with his followers! No one joins Voldemort without knowing exactly what they're getting into."



"Yeah! Death, murder, torture and servitude!"



"IT'S NOT LIKE THAT!"



"VOLDEMORT IS AN INSANE, MURDERING, MEGALOMANIAC!"



"HE IS NOT!" Harry yelled, standing to his feet and knocking his chair out from behind him.



Buckbeak made an annoyed screeching sound and the two turned to look at him warily for a moment. Harry still felt himself fuming but he picked his chair back up and sat down.



"At least... he's not insane. Yes, he's a murderer, but he only kills when it's necessary to progress his plans. And he's not a megalomaniac... he's just really ambitious," Harry said in a low cold voice.



Sirius barked out an incredulous laugh. "Ambitious? Harry, he's trying to take over the world!"



"He's trying to save the world!"



"That's ridiculous!"



"You don't know anything about what's really going on, Sirius! I mean it! Nothing! There is so much more going on than anyone ever realized. Publically, people were told that the war was all about wizarding supremacy and power over muggles, but it never had anything to do with that! Not really. Voldemort drew in some of his followers with that line just so he could get them to work for him, but his goals, his task, has nothing to do with that!"



"Well what the hell is it then?"



"I can't tell you!" Harry moaned and collapsed back into his seat. "Not yet... even I only know bits and pieces of it and that's because I stumbled across it on my own and confronted him about it. He admitted that I was right, but hasn't yet been willing to go into deeper detail. He's bound by an oath to Magic itself. This is so much bigger than anyone knows."



"How can you possibly trust him, Harry? How? He's... he's a monster, Harry! Even if what all you say about Dumbledore is true and he really is a lying manipulative old bastard, how can you think that Voldemort is any better?"



"I know because I've spent the last few months getting to know him. I mean, really getting to know him. He's nothing like I ever expected him to be. Nothing, Sirius. You don't know what Voldemort is like in person or in private because you've never seen that side of him. Hardly anyone does. He keeps his true self really private because he can't really trust hardly anyone. But he is a person. He's got this big, omnipotent, scary, alter-ego that he shows to the public and to his lower followers, but it's just a mask. It's how he deals with his responsibilities. How he maintains control of so many aggressive and ambitious personalities. He has to use fear and respect to control most of them, but if you really get to know him, you see he's a real person behind the scenes. He's still human."



"Human! Harry are you kidding me? I mean, I guess I haven't seen him since his grand return, but if he looks anything like he did before, he hardly classifies as human! Bloody snake-faced bastard!"



"That's just a transformation! He can still look human if he wants! In fact, it took him more than a month to teach his new body to take on his old form."



"What?"



"It's not important. The point is that he is human. He still looks human, as long as he's with someone he trusts – which admittedly, isn't often – and no matter how much of a crazy bastard he acts in public, he's still a man. He still thinks and feels and is still capable of giving a shit about people. Yes, he's a controlling bastard. Yes, he's a murderer. He has goals and he believes strongly in them, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals, but that doesn't mean he's a monster."



"Has it ever occurred to you that maybe his 'real person' thing could be the act, and the controlling insane bastard is the real him?"



"It's not," Harry said with a hard, determined voice. "Look, Sirius, I've been at this for months. I've gotten to know him pretty well."



"And how the hell did you get to know him? How could you have been working with Voldemort for months! You've been in school!"



"I go visit him every bloody day, Sirius! I've got a two-way port-key that takes me directly to his manor house and back, and I use a time-turner so that it never looks like I'm missing from the school."



"Oh, Merlin!" Sirius groaned as his hands came up and began to rub his tired and haggard face.



"Come on, Sirius! I'm trying to help you, here! You won't have to stay in this damn cave, or any cave, if you come join us! You can stay in the manor house with a bed and three meals a day! Tom's house elf Mixey is a great cook and she's not weird or crazy or anything. And I'll be there! That's where I'm staying this summer."



"Wait, what!"



"I'm not going back to the Dursley's this summer," Harry stated in a hard voice while sitting straighter and folding his arms across his chest."



Sirius paused and sat, unsure what to say for a moment. "Does anyone know of this plan?"



"Ron and Hermione are aware that I don't intend to stay with the Dursley's. Obviously they don't know where I'm really going. I'm going to let them think I'm staying in France."



"France? Why France?"



"Hermione and Ginny are under the impression that I've got some secret love interest at the school. I wouldn't tell them who he was with the excuse that he wasn't out to his family yet, and we didn't want to risk the tabloids getting a hold of his name. Basically I intend to let them think I hooked up with one of the male students that stayed this year from Beauxbatons. If Dumbledore thinks I ran off to France with my boyfriend it will look less suspicious than me just disappearing from sight for three months without any explanation at all.



"I know it would be easier to stay under Dumbledore's radar if I just went back to the Dursley's, but I absolutely refuse to go back there! I will not be forced into the company of those bastards, ever again. The only reason Dumbledore sent me to live with them in the first place was because he wanted them to break me. Well fuck him! And fuck the Dursley's! I won't ever go back there!"



"Fine, Harry. Alright. But... but Voldemort's manor? Are you crazy?"



"I swear it, Sirius! It's nothing like that for me. He trusts me. I trust him! I know it sounds mental, but I... he and I we're like... friends?"



"Friends?" Sirius echoed incredulously. "Lord Voldemort does not have friends, Harry! That's idiotic! It's just an act! You're angry that Dumbledore manipulated, but now you're just being manipulated by Voldemort instead!"



"I AM NOT!" Harry roared. "You know nothing about this, Sirius! Nothing! You're making all of these statements and assumptions from things you saw and heard second hand during the last war, but you've never seen it yourself or actually spoken to the man as an ally or a friend. He's totally different. You've only seen the side of him that he shows to enemies on the battlefield! I've spent hours and hours, every single day for three months in his company, Sirius! I'm not a fool or an idiot. He's not playing me."



"What the hell are you doing with him to warrant spending hours with him every bloody day!"



"He's been teaching me. Dueling and magic. We also work out together."



Sirius stared at Harry with shocked disbelief.



"You what? You work out together? What the bloody hell does that even mean?"



"He has a big gym set up in the manor house with exercise equipment that he designed and built. Weight training and muscle building. He'd been working out in there every morning since he got his new body back. He needed to get it into proper shape, so it made sense for him. After he started teaching me dueling, he told me I needed to work on my stamina and endurance so I could last longer in battles, and to improve my dodging and foot work. That's when he told me to start coming for his morning work out too and he'd teach me to use his equipment."



Sirius still looked dumbfounded and blinked several times as if he was still having enormous trouble wrapping his mind around what he'd just heard.



"The Dark Lord works out in a gym?" he said slowly.



Harry smirked. "Yes, he does. Most of his exercise equipment looks like it's basically modeled after muggle exercise equipment too. He's even got a magical treadmill."



Sirius's jaw floundered for a moment before he shook his head in disbelief. "I cannot even picture that."



Harry laughed.



"He's in his real form whenever we're in the gym. I guess it would probably look pretty weird to see him in there each morning in his serpentine form. I'm going to have to get used to that form though, since he's going to be using it a lot more often during the summer."



"Oh?"



"Yeah, well he's going to be bringing in all his old Death Eaters soon. He's been sending out magical pulses through the Dark Marks on a regular schedule for the past month, and he's sped it up to every two days, and by next week he'll be doing it every day, and then at the end of that week he'll actually call them."



"Wait, why is he doing all that?"



"Warning, really. Giving them time to prepare. They'll know that after it's pulsed once a day for one week that he's going to call them to him, and knowing that, they'll be able to plan and prepare for it. They also know he's back to full power now because the magical pulses have been growing in strength for months. With this much advance warning, there's no excuse not to show up. Anyway, once he's called them back to him, Death Eaters will be coming and going from the Manor all the time, so he'll probably be staying in his Serpentine form almost all the time."



"What about you? You said you'd be staying there this summer. You'll get seen."



"That's what this is for," Harry said, pulling the ring out of his pocket. "Actually, I want to key you into it, so we'd may as well do that now." Harry slipped it back onto his left index finger and his appearance shimmered and shifted back into the older, blond-haired man from earlier.



"That is crazy," Sirius said with a bit of awe to his tone. "Where on earth did you find something like that?"



"The ring?" Harry asked, although his voice was lower and smoother now.



"Yeah! Merlin, it even disguises your voice!"



"It's incredible, isn't it? Tom made it."



"Who?"



"Oh, shit. Er... Voldemort."



Sirius's eyebrows rose slowly into his hairline. "His name is Tom?"



Harry chuckled and shrugged. "Yeah. But I wouldn't recommend ever ever calling him that to his face. He'd probably crucio you, if you did."



"What about you?"



"Well, he lets me call him that. But he and I have a... weird sort of relationship between us. The whole prophecy thing. There's also this er..." Harry paused, pulled off the ring and then pushed his messy black fringe away from his forehead exposing his scar. "My curse scar? It's more than anyone ever really suspected. Voldemort and I are connected together by some incredibly powerful and old magic. You know the part in the prophecy about how we can only die except by the hands of the other, and neither can die while the other survives?"



"Yeah..." Sirius said slowly.



"It's... true. I mean, we're literally immortal unless we kill each other. He cannot die as long as I live, and I cannot die as long as he lives. The only way that the two of us can die is if we shoot Avada Kadavra's at each other at the same time. Otherwise, we're immortal."



Sirius's jaw dropped and he fell back into his chair as if he had just been stunned. "That's insane!"



"It's true. It's really complicated, and I can't really risk some of the details getting out so I'm afraid I won't be explaining it in any more detail, but just trust me when I say it's true. I know that you're afraid that all of this stuff is just being fed to me by Voldemort and that he's manipulating me or tricking me or something, but I seriously found out most of it on my own. He didn't get me, Sirius, I went to him. I found him, and went to him on my own. He was shocked when I first showed up. He thought it was some sort of trick or a trap. And he didn't feed me the prophecies, I found them. I went digging around in Trelawney's head and dug the memories out of her on my own. I gave them to Tom!"



"What do you mean that you dug it out of her head?"



Harry grinned. "I'm really good at legilimency. Anyway, I got side tracked," he paused and put the ring back on, slipping back into his blond alter-ego. He rubbed his finger over the green stone set into the thick silver band and then extended his hand across the table to Sirius. "Touch the ring and it will key into your magical signature."



Sirius looked as if he wanted to protest and get back on the thing about his godson being skilled at legilimency of all things, but huffed and touched the ring. It glowed for a second and a moment later Harry's appearance shimmered and shifted back to that of black-haired, green-eyed, Harry Potter. But he was still wearing the ring.



"What just happened?" Sirius asked.



"I keyed you into the ring. Now you'll be able to see through the glamors to the real me. I can wear the ring all the time at the manor over the summer. When I look in the mirror I will see my real face, although I can switch it so that I see the glamors myself in case I want to make adjustments to it. Anyone keyed into the ring sees my real appearance too, but anyone else sees the fake me."



"And Voldemort made that?"



"Yup. It's incredibly complex magic. He's amazing at crafting things like this. You should have seen this magical orb that he made for when I went to Snape."



"Snape? Snape! He was the spy who told Voldemort the prophecy!"



Harry rolled his eyes. "Yes he was, but he's been used and fucked around almost as much as the rest of us. Dumbledore has screwed him almost as much as he screwed you. But Snape got a cushy job out of it. You got locked away with fucking dementors."



Sirius's face went hard and he scowled angrily.



"Anyway, Sirius... I hate to do this, but I really need some promises from you before I can keep going. I've already told you way too much, but I really want to trust you."



Sirius sat up and looked at Harry. "What do you need?"



"I need a vow that you won't go to Dumbledore. An Unbreakable Vow that you won't reveal any what I've told you, to Dumbledore. You don't have to join Voldemort or the Dark if you don't want to, but I need to know you aren't going to betray me to the Light either."



"I would never betray you, Harry!"



"Then make the vow. Please, Sirius," Harry pleaded.



Sirius stared Harry in the eyes for a moment before sighing and running his hand through his hair. "Of course, pup. I'll make the vow."



The next five minutes was spent with their left hands clasped while they each held their wand in their right, pointing at their joined hands and speaking the vow.



Sirius swore to never reveal the secret of Harry's allegiances to anyone, but specifically Dumbledore or anyone in the Order of the Phoenix or Ministry, unless given express permission by Harry himself. Once the magic had settled the two sat in silence in the dim cave for several long minutes.



Finally Sirius heaved a big, defeated sigh and leaned forward in his seat, resting his elbows on his knees.



"Are you really sure about this Harry? I mean... Voldemort?"



Harry chuckled and shook his head at his godfather. "Yes, Sirius. I really am sure."



"How did this happen? How did you end up going to Voldemort? You said you found him? That you went to him? How...?"



Harry sighed and leaned back in his chair, crossing one leg over the other knee. "After my name came out of the cup on Halloween, everyone ditched me. Everyone. I mean, I know you stood by me, but you weren't here. It took months for letters to come back and forth between us, so I was basically all alone. Ron and Hermione ditched me.



"I did a lot of thinking in the beginning. I sort of went into myself and started questioning and thinking about things that I'd ignored or taken for granted before. I also sort of accidentally stumbled across this huge resource of magical energy inside me that I didn't realize was there. I can't really explain it, but an enormous amount of my magic was being diverted and focused on something completely frivolous. Once I stopped it, I suddenly had access to all this magical energy and mental focus that I never had before. I could think more clearly and my mind was more focused. I gotthings. And I could see and feel the magic around me. It suddenly became so much easier to do magic, and it was amazing.



"I started teaching myself some more advanced magics in preparation for the tasks and it just sort of took off from there. I ended up digging into the Dark Arts all on my own," Harry paused as he saw Sirius's head shoot up in attention and his eyes widen a bit. "There's a place inside the school... it's not on the Map so I don't think you or the Marauders found it. It's called the Room of Requirement."



Sirius frowned. "I've heard of that. But everyone said it was just a myth. James tried to find it but we never did."



"Well I know where it is. It can be whatever you need, and that includes unplottable and exempt from the dark magic wards around the school. If you perform dark magic in there, no one will know. I practiced it in there."



Harry had decided to just stick with this story for consistency sake, but also because he wanted to keep at least one of his secrets in the school secret. If ever he needed to escape somewhere inside the school, he wanted to be able to go to the chamber without anyone knowing that he was there.



"So that's how I started getting into the Dark Arts. You remember how I told you about that vision I had during the summer? The one where Voldemort was talking with Wormtail and another man I didn't recognize? Voldemort told the third man that he wanted me for something – remember?"



"Yes, I remember," Sirius said nodding his head.



"Well, that wasn't the last vision I had. I kept having them all year and they got longer and clearer the more er... the more I tapped into my own dark magic. Not only did they get easier to remember, but they stopped hurting. I guess the more my affinity shifted to dark, the more compatible my mind was with the visions from Voldemort's mind so they didn't hurt anymore.



"The thing I never really explained to anyone about my dreams and visions about Voldemort is that I wasn't watching the dream, I would experience the whole thing from Voldemort's perspective. Like I was him. I would speak his words and think his thoughts and then I'd wake up from it and be all confused and disoriented for a minute while I realized that those weren't my thoughts, but his. Anyway, the more visions I had and the more I got into his head, the more I realized that there was something much bigger going on. Things that had been hidden from me my whole life by Dumbledore. I also realized that Voldemort was a person. He had thoughts and feelings like a real human being – not the insane monster I had always thought him to be.



"The more time passed and the more visions I had, I started to figure some things out. I also figured out where he was staying, and who he had working for him inside the school. So the week after the second task I confronted his spy inside Hogwarts and asked that he take me to him.



"By that point I had already decided to... I don't know... help him? Join him? My affinity is completely dark now. I'm a Dark Wizard and I'm proud of it. I love the Dark arts. They're thrilling and exciting and... everything is just so... it's just..." Harry's voice trailed off in awe and he was shaking his head and had a far away look in his eyes. Sirius could see a slightly crazed glow in Harry's eyes and felt a pang of fear.



"Harry, are you addicted?" he asked suddenly.



Harry's head snapped back and he refocused on Sirius. "Not anymore. Tom's made sure I got it under control. But... well, I was. I guess it was probably pretty bad too."



"Tom did? Sirius asked incredulously.



"Gah... Voldemort. Voldemort made sure I got it under control."



"I get that, I just find it hard to believe. Seems to me like he'd benefit from having his followers addicted."



"Dark wizards who are in control of their magic are far more useful than Dark wizards who are controlled by their magic," Harry said, repeating something that Tom had told him several times. "And he didn't want me to be weak or for my actions to be controlled by my magic, rather than my mind."



"Maybe he says that, but I know for a fact that the more high on Dark magic a wizard is, the more apt they are to go to him. The Dark magic makes them desperate to go to the Dark Lord. You can't claim that it had nothing to do with you going to him."



Harry sighed and ran his hand through his shaggy black hair. "It did. I'll admit that. I know now that it's true. I probably wouldn't have actually gone to him if I wasn't so enticed by the power of the Dark magic I had been using. But I can only be grateful that that happened. The path that took me to him was a bit iffy, but I wouldn't change any of it. I'm glad I went to him. So much has come out of it that I wouldn't give up for the world. And I finally feel like I'm in control of my own destiny. For the first time I'm staying on top of things. I finally know what's going on, and I'm doing things about it.



"And the more I've learned about what's really going on – the more I learn about the Ministry, and Dark creatures, and what the real differences are between Light and Dark magic... the more I realize I agree with Voldemort. With his real goals. His political ideals. There are some things we come to head about, but they're minimal. And he's not unreasonable. He's willing to listen to other opinions on things. He just doesn't want to show weakness to his followers, so if a person ever disagrees enough to try and contradict him, they just have to make sure they do it in private. If you go against him in public it'll just make him angry, but if you are respectful about it, and do it in a private setting, he'll listen to a logical, rational, argument. He welcomes it, even."



Sirius sighed and shook his head. "I just have some trouble taking what you're saying and what I personally saw in the last war and reconciling the two."



"I know, Sirius. I know. But... can you just give him a chance?"



"You mean, can I give being a Death Eater a chance?" Sirius asked, grimacing.



Harry sighed. "Is it true you have a Dark magic affinity?"



Sirius's grimace deepened. "Just barely. It's more neutral than Dark. Heredity and years of tutoring is hard to counter act, no matter how badly you want it."



Harry nodded his head. "He is the Lord of all Dark wizards. Deemed so by Magic itself. He fights for the rights and prosperity of Dark magic. The Light has been in control of magical Britain for so long that the balance is completely out of whack. Things are too one-sided. He's going to fix that. But he's also working towards an even greater thing. Something so important... it's not just for the Dark magic users, it's for the good of all magic users. Wizards and creatures alike. If he fails... it'll be bad Sirius. People don't realize what's really at stake."



"Then tell me! Help me understand, Harry."



Harry huffed and ran his hand through his hair again. "It's complicated...but... here's how I first learned about it. Before I even spoke to To-Voldemort about it. Tens of thousands of years ago, when the the High Elves still lived in our world, their seers foretold the end of the world. According to their vision, if muggles ever discovered the existence of magic, they would try to steal it for themselves. When they succeed at that, the end of the world will come, and we will all die.



"They somehow communed with Magic so that they could warn it of their vision, but it already knew. They learned that Magic was setting a plan in motion to try and save at least some of us. It could only save the magical creatures and the magical human half-breeds – wizards – but not the muggles. It assigned two magical Lords – a Lord of the Light, and a Lord of the Dark. It was the task of the magical Lords to keep a magical balance, and to make sure that the secret is kept and that when the time comes for the muggle's Armageddon, we stop them from stealing the magic and save ourselves.



"Dumbledore is the Light Lord and I think he may know about all this, but I don't think he realizes that there is no way to save the muggles. I think he thinks he can save everyone. Or something... I don't know. In any case, he's a fool for ignoring the harsh reality of the true prophecy, which is that the muggles can't be saved. They're doomed no matter what. Our options are to save ourselves, or save no one. We all die, or only the muggles die. To-Voldemort has no qualms with sacrificing the muggles. He admits that in his youth he thought he could just bypass the waiting and destroy the muggles now, saving the rest of us. But he's realized that will never work. That he was young and naïve. He isn't going to focus on the muggles this time, but instead focus on the magical system. Getting things back in balance, and increasing the security and secrecy of our society. And when the muggle Armageddon comes, he'll fight it. But he isn't going to do anything that will risk making it happen sooner than needed – which is what the muggle slaughtering was really doing in the end."



"You're serious?"



"No, you're Sirius."



Sirius blinked at him before chuckling and shaking his head. "I cannot believe you just used that joke."



"What?" Harry asked in mock innocence and laughing.



Sirius sighed but smiled. "So where did you find out about this whole end of the world thing?"



"An ancient book I found. The whole thing is written in Old Albric. Hermione, Ginny, and I spent most of the last term translating it. The legend was in it."



"Old Aldric? How in Merlin's name did you translate that?"



"A book I found on the language," Harry said shrugging.



Sirius blinked at him in mild disbelief for a moment before chuckling and shaking his head. "Alright, fine. So you went and confronted Voldemort about all this then?"



"Yes. He was pretty shocked I found out about it on my own. Just about no one knows about this stuff anymore, and he's bound by an oath of secrecy not to speak about certain aspects of it. It has something to do with how he became the Dark Lord in the first place. Apparently there's some sort of system in place where each successor has to discover how to take the role on their own, so no Dark Lord can speak of it to any one else. It's to prevent a Dark Lord from choosing their successor. Fate has to do it, or something. It's the same for Light Lords."



Sirius frowned and gave Harry a long, piercing look.



"You aren't aspiring to be the next Dark Lord, are you?" he asked suddenly, in a completely serious tone.



Harry blinked once before bursting out laughing. "No Sirius. I'm not going to be the next Dark Lord. It's impossible."



"And why is that?"



"Because a new Dark Lord cannot come into power until the last one has died. The only way that Voldemort is going to die, is if I die with him. So, no chance of me being his successor."



Sirius grimaced and his brow furrowed deeply. "I still don't get what's going on with that. How the hell can the two of you be tied to each other like that?"



"I told you it's complicated and I also told you that I can't tell you about most of it."



Sirius grumbled and leaned back in his chair, pouting slightly. "Can you tell me about any of it?"



Harry sighed. "It's a combination of things. He's immortally linked to me because of something that went wrong when he tried to kill me, and I'm immortally linked to him because of an unexpected side-effect of the ritual we used to give him a body back a number of months ago. We didn't really get any of it figured out until after I'd found the real prophecy and we did some real digging into it's meanings. It was after that that we realized that we had already accidentally made it true without even realizing it."



"But how can you be immortal?"



"It's not perfect immortality. Not a physical immortality. Our bodies can still be damaged, and potentially even killed. His was destroyed all those years ago, for example. But our souls and magical cores are immortal. We're both bound to this world by each other's existences. We're tethered here, so our souls cannot cross over."



Sirius shook his head and looked, unfocused at the cave wall. "Crazy..."



The two sat there in silence again for a minute. "I need to leave soon," Harry said, finally breaking the heavy quiet. "I'm going to need you to make up your mind before the end of term. It'll be harder for me to get away from the manor after that. Once I don't show up at Privet Drive, Dumbledore is going to be searching for me like crazy. As long as I stay inside the manor's wards, he won't be able to find me, but that means I won't be able to come out to meet you then."



"You're going to spend the entire summer inside Voldemort's manor?" Sirius gaped.



Harry rolled his eyes. "You do realize that otherwise I would have been spending my entire summer locked inside my room at the Dursley's and only let out of it to clean their house and do their gardening, right? I didn't get to go anywhere there either. In fact, I had considerably less space. The manor is quite large and the grounds are expansive. Voldemort made sure the wards extended all the way out to the edge of the property so there's a lot of land. The grounds and the garden are pretty overgrown and messy, but he's planning to get a couple more house elves in the next month to help keep the place up. Since it was just him and Wormtail there regularly right now, he didn't see there being a lot of need for more help, but since the Death Eaters will be frequenting the house soon, he decided to finally do it."



"Right... Wormtail... So... so you've seen him? You seriously spoke to him?" Sirius asked, incredulously.



Harry nodded and then remembered something that caused him grin, wickedly. "I have. In fact, I got to practice two unforgivable on him."



"What?"



"When Voldemort was teaching me how to do the Imperius, we used Wormtail as my test subject. And a number of weeks ago when Wormtail did something insanely idiotic, and Voldemort was punishing him for his undeniably grievous mistake, he let me throw the cruciatus at the stupid, fat little man as reward for stopping the mistake from becoming a huge problem."



"You've cast two of the three Unforgivables!" Sirius exclaimed before groaning. "Oh, Harry..."



"Actually, I've cast all three. Got the killing curse to work the first time I tried it."



Sirius's head snapped up and he looked horrified. "Harry!" he hissed. "Please tell me you're joking!"



"I'm not. And the stupid bitch I threw the curse at deserved what she got."



"Oh, Merlin, Harry! Please don't say that..." Sirius moaned.



Harry just sat there with a blank, unapologetic expression on his face.



Sirius sighed and looked up. "Who?"



"Rita Skeeter."



Sirius blinked and gaped at him.



"You killed Rita Skeeter."



"Yes."



"Anyone else?"



"No. She's the only one."



"How long ago?"



"It's been months."



"And no one suspects it was you?"



"She was an unregistered animagus. Her form was a small beetle and she used it to spy on people. No one knew of her form and no one knew she was sneaking into Hogwarts. There's no way that anyone could suspect me of having the opportunity to do it."



Sirius grumbled and ran his hand through his long, messy hair in a frustrated gesture. "You've got to be careful Harry. Using just one of those curses on another person is enough to get you a lifetime sentence in Azkaban. And believe me when I tell you that you do not want to go there."



"I know, Sirius. Don't worry. I'm not an idiot. Besides, if I ever got caught, Voldemort would get me out."



"You can't know that, pup."



"I know it," Harry said in a tone that showed no doubt.



Sirius sighed and shook his head. "Alright, Harry... look, I said I would stand by you and I meant it. You're my godson, and I'm going to be there for you, no matter where you go."



"Don't agree to this lightly, Sirius. You can stand by me and remain neutral too. Just stay out of everything. Don't agree to join the Dark unless you really think you can do it. You won't have to kill anyone, but you will have to show Voldemort deference. You have to treat him with proper respect, and follow his orders. But if you do join, he's willing to hand over Wormtail. We're going to have to clean out the last year of his memories with one hell of a powerful obliviate, but you can have him once we do that."



Sirius nodded his head slowly as his eyes shown how intently he was thinking over this.



"If you get an offer to go back to the Order, you will be expected to spy for us," Harry continued.



Sirius groaned lightly under his breath. "Right..."



"But if you join, you get your name cleared, and if you want, you can stay at the manor this summer with me. A soft, clean bed, three square meals a day with clean clothes and access to me for as long as you stay at the manor. Of course you'll be a cleared man by the end so you can come and go as you please."



Sirius gave him a long, scrutinizing look before he sighed and nodded his head.



"I'll do it, Harry."



"You have to be sure, Sirius."



"I'm sure. I'll..." he heaved a large sigh, "I'll join the Death Eaters."



Harry smiled at him softly and nodded his head. "Okay, but I'm still going to give you some time to think on it before I take you to him. I don't want you rushing into this and regretting it because there's no going back afterwards. If he gives up Wormtail he's going to want something in return. He's willing to do this only really because I asked him. This is a personal favor to me, you know. He's still a bit iffy towards you because of all the trouble you caused him during the first war."



Sirius quirked an eyebrow and Harry noticed the corner of his mouth threaten to turn up into a proud smirk.



"If you do this, you cannot be an ass to him in any sort of public setting. I meant it when I said he doesn't mind hearing opposing ideas and input, but it has to be in private. You can't openly oppose him if there are any other Death Eaters around, you got me? You can't push his buttons. He wont' stand for it. And I don't want you getting hurt."



"I can look after myself, Harry. I'm the adult here, remember?"



"Yeah, and you're a Gryffindor."



"So are you."



"I'm nothing more than a snake in the lion's den, Sirius. I was never supposed to be in Gryffindor."



Sirius blanched. "What?"



"The sorting hat wanted me in Slytherin. I had to beg and plead with it to put me anywhere else. It reluctantly put me into Gryffindor, but not after making it blatantly clear that it thought I belonged in Slytherin."



Sirius's lips moved slightly but no sound came out. He closed his mouth and sighed. "You were still a Gryffindor."



"I was forcing it. I was trying so hard to live up to everyone else's expectations. All I wanted was to finally please someone. To finally make people happy. My whole childhood was spent being told I was a worthless, good-for-nothing, freeloader and a freak. There was nothing I could do that would please the Dursley's. Nothing.



"Hogwarts was like a fresh start and all I wanted was to finally be able to make someone care about me. Make someone proud or pleased. It was all a part of Dumbledore's plan – I see that now. Do you realize that the first two people I really spent any real time with in the wizarding world were Hagrid and Ron? And you know what both of them told me? Gryffindors were brave and courageous, and Slytherin's were all dirty lying bastards who went dark and turned into murderers. And the guy who killed my parents was a Slytherin and he was the darkest most evil bastard of them all. How do you think I felt when the hat said I belonged in Slytherin?"



"Oh... Harry..."



"So I tried... so hard to prove the hat wrong. I was sorted into Gryffindor and I had to prove to myself and to everyone else that it was where I was supposed to be. I was sorted there because it was where I belonged, not because I begged the hat not to put me in Slytherin. That's the real reason I acted the way I did. Part of it was real, but part of it was always forced. It was a reaction... an over-reaction. It was me compensating..." Harry sighed and leaned back in his chair, running his hand through his hair roughly.



"I feel better now," Harry said quietly. "I feel more like... me. Like I'm finally comfortable in my own skin. Like I've come to terms with things and I'm not lying to myself anymore. I know, rationally, that there are things a bit... wrong, with me. But I'm okay with that. I enjoy things that the moral standard says are wrong to enjoy. But I don't care. I'm done lying to myself. Done trying to force myself to be something I'm not. Anyway, we've run off on another tangent again, and I really do need to get back.



"The point is that, while this life is the one for me, and I would really like to have you as a part of my life, and to be able to help you, I also know that this life might not be the life for you. So, I'll come back the last week of term – probably a day or two after the third task. If you're still sure then, I'll take you to him."



Sirius held Harry's eyes for a long moment before he nodded his head. "Alright pup. I'll... I'll think on it."



"Good."



Harry stood up and straightened his nice black robes. Harry pulled the mokeskin pouch out of his inner pocket again and pulled out a smaller bag from within it. He set it on the table and with a tap of his wand, it unshrunk to the size of a medium sized suitcase.



Sirius looked at it and then up at Harry in confusion.



"Food," Harry said with a small smile and a shrug. "And several sets of clean robes and a few other supplies."



Sirius ducked his head, feeling ashamed that his godson was having to take care of him when it was supposed to be the other way around. He had failed Harry in so many ways...



"Thanks, pup," he said in a raspy whisper.



"I'll see you in a week," Harry said as he headed to the mouth of the cave.



"Bye Harry."



"Bye."



– –




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