Descent into Darkness

BY : Athey1024
Category: Harry Potter AU/AR > Slash - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 70162
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 stuck his head through the study's door and glanced inside. Voldemort was sitting in his chair, but it wasn't behind the desk where it would normally be. Instead it was to the side of the desk, and he was working away on a very large piece of parchment. He was hunched over it, and scratching away at certain areas with a quill, and appeared quite focused on his work.

"Oh... excuse me, I'm sorry," Harry said quietly. Voldemort's head turned infinitesimally to one side so he could better see Harry out of his peripheral vision.

"Yes, Potter?"

"I got the items out of the Room of Requirement."

"Place them against the wall by the door," Voldemort said without looking up, as he continued on his work.

Harry nodded his head and slipped through the door, into the room. From there he could finally tell that the large sheet of parchment on Voldemort's desk was actually a topographical map. From what little he could see, he suspected it was a map of the manor grounds and surrounding area. He quickly focused on his task, crouched down, slipped his trunk from his pocket, enlarged it, and began pulling the items out of it while neatly stacking them in a pile.

The process took about ten minutes until he was sure he had removed every one of the strange objects, trinkets, and books he had pulled from the box in the hidden room. He sighed, closed the trunk, shrunk it, slid it back into his pocket, and stood to his feet. "They're all here. I'll just head back to Hogwarts, I don't want to bother you."

"Wait," Voldemort's voice called out through the thick silence and Harry froze. "I will be done shortly and I have a few things that need to be dealt with concerning you."

Harry blinked. "Alright. Where shall I wait?"

Voldemort's left hand rose and indicated that Harry should approach, so he did. "Sit. I am working on planning the manor's new wards. It will take me another twenty minutes to reach an appropriate stopping point. You will read this," he paused and dug a book out of one of the desk drawers, "until I am ready."

Harry quickly accepted the offered book before looking around, searching for a place to sit. There weren't any other chairs in the room at the moment. He wondered where the one he sat in the last time he was here had gone, but Voldemort, once again, was engrossed in his work, and Harry didn't want to bother him. Harry's mind quickly settled on the floor. The idea didn't really bother him any, the question was where on the floor to sit.

He eyed the open space between the door and the desk, but his body was yearning to be closer to Voldemort. Closer to the man's magic, and the pulsing invisible waves of his magic. Harry's eyes lulled closed a tiny bit as he lost his senses in the feel of the magic and found himself sitting down in a smooth motion, directly beside Voldemort's chair. He opened his eyes and furtively darted them up to see if the Dark Lord had watched him sit, and if there appeared to be any disapproval in his choice of spots. There was none. Voldemort was still engrossed in his work.

He sat cross-legged and hunched over the book. It was on creating false auras and false affinity signatures. Deceiving the Inner Senses, and other detection spells by Barat Facen.

Harry began to open the book and saw there was a small bookmark about half-way through the book. The chapter that was marked was about the counter to the affinitatem reveleo spell, so it was pretty obvious that this was where he was intended to start.

Quite some time had passed before he heard the scratching quill and ruffling parchments finally quiet, followed by Voldemort heaving a quiet sigh and shifting in his chair. Harry didn't even know when it had happened, but at some point he had shifted his position from sitting and hunching over the book about a foot from the side of Voldemort's chair, to actually leaning his back directly against the side of the chair, and stretching one leg out while the other was bent up.

Despite the fact that he was on the floor, he had felt exceedingly comfortable sitting there in the study, silently reading, while Voldemort worked. When he thought that the time was coming to an end and he would be leaving soon, he felt a pang of disappointment. When he let his rational mind think about it later, he would realize how utterly surreal that was. But at that moment, sitting in Voldemort's presence, he just felt calm and comfortable, and simply didn't want that to end. The quiet mingling of their magics also gave the room a wonderful taste to the air. At least, Harry thought so. He was still unsure if other people actually sensed these things like he did, and had to admit, he wondered why.

Voldemort leaned back and melted a bit into the chair. Harry wondered how long Voldemort had been working on the wards, and what all they would do. He wanted to ask, but was unsure if it was really his place to do so.

Voldemort's left arm fell down onto the armrest of the chair and his hand hung over the outer edge. His fingers dangled down and brushed against the top of Harry's head. Harry sucked in a harsh, startled breath at the intensity of the sensation that shot through him at the brief, direct, physical contact.

Voldemort's hand stiffened the instant after it had brushed against Harry's head, but Harry didn't know if it was in response to Harry's shocked breath, or if he had possibly felt something too.

Harry's mind was jumbled and confused. He couldn't quite put words to what he had felt. It had happened to fast, and been too brief. All he knew was that it was decidedly good, and he wanted to experience it again. Harry closed his eyes and tried to clear his mind. It didn't matter what he wanted. This was the Dark Lord Voldemort. Asking the man to touch him was out of the question. More than that, it was idiotic.

Finally, Voldemort moved again and Harry quickly shifted his position so that he was no longer leaning against the chair, just in time for Voldemort to push it back and begin to stand. Harry quickly scrambled to his feet, as he simultaneously moved the book mark to the page he had ended on and closed the book.

"You will leave that book here. You can come back and continue to read it while you are here, but you will not be taking it with you," Voldemort said as he began to straighten up a few pieces of parchment on his desk.

"Oh..." Harry ineloquently replied with a bit of surprise.

Voldemort apparently finished up with what he was sorting through and turned to face Harry. Something flickered across his ruby eyes for a moment, but was gone before Harry could make sense of it.

"Come with me," he said as he began to quickly stride from the room, making Harry scramble to keep up.

Voldemort lead them down the hall to the staircase, and went up this time. Harry hadn't had any visions where he traveled to the third floor, so he really had no idea what was up there. At the top of the stairs, they took a left, and entered the first door on the right. As they entered the lights instantly came on. From what Harry could tell, it was a storeroom for various objects. He suspected that many of the things he had recovered from the Room of Requirement would probably end up in here. As he quickly glanced around, he realized he could hardly identify anything he saw.

Voldemort walked directly over to one of the floor-to-ceiling shelves and pulled out a medium sized, carved box with a hinged lid. He took the box over to the center of the room, where a bare table was sitting and set it down. He looked over at Harry with a pointed expression and Harry quickly made his way over to stand beside the man.

As he got there, Voldemort opened the box, and Harry saw that it was full of... wands. He blinked in confusion.

"You will need a second wand," Voldemort began, "All wands purchased for young children from Ollivander have a ministry trace spell applied to them. It automatically dispells when you turn seventeen, along with the trace spell that exists on your person. The secondary wand will have no such tracking charm in place. You will also need to make sure you only ever use your secondary wand for the dark arts. If you are ever in a situation where you have been accused of some misdeed or crime, they will check your wand before anything else. Are you aware of a spell called Priori Incantum?"

Harry shook his head.

"It will reveal the last spells you cast with your wand. They can keep casting it on your wand and reveal as many as the last fifty spells you have cast. There is a spell called Deletrius which removes evidence of previous spells cast by the wand, but you will not always have the time or opportunity to use the spell to clear your wand if put into a tight situation. Not to mention, a cleared wand history looks suspicious. If you have performed any dark arts recently, those spells will show up your wand if someone casts the priori incantum on it. If you only use your first wand for your classwork, and your second wand for your dark arts practice, you will be safe."

Harry was nodding his head in agreement. It had never occurred to him that any of that could happen, but he realized he should have. Now that he thought of it, Crouch Sr. had cased the priori incantum spell on his wand at the World Cup. It had shown that his wand had been used to summon the dark mark. Now that he fully realized what it meant, he definitely agreed that it was important that he get a second wand.

"I had a storehouse of supplies that was fortunately left undiscovered during my absence. I made it a point to collect as many wands as possible over the years during the war for just such occasions as this. Go through these until you find one that is acceptable," Voldemort said as he waved his hand towards the box and stepped to the side.

Harry quickly stepped forward and picked up the first wand. It felt completely wrong on his hand, so he didn't even bother giving it a flick before setting it down on the table. He just kept going from there; going from one wand to the next. Some wands felt cold, some just felt numb. Some were mildly warm and tingled a bit so he set them to the side as 'potentials' to sort through later.

He sighed in slight annoyance after he'd gotten through almost the entire box and still hadn't found anything that felt right... or even close to right. Voldemort chuckled and Harry looked up at him and felt himself smirk at the Dark Lord's amusement at his impatience.

"I was at Ollivander's for ages before he pulled out my holly and phoenix feather wand," Harry said as he continued to pick up wand after wand, and quickly discard them.

Voldemort hummed and looked off into the room.

Harry paused and a deep, thoughtful look crossed his face. "Do you still have the same wand you first got from Ollivander? Or was it lost?"

"I still have it."

"The one with the phoenix feather? Yew, I think?"

Voldemort narrowed his eyes and rose a single eyebrow questioningly.

"Ollivander told me about it because, apparently, your wand, and the wand I ended up with, are the only two wands that Fawkes ever gave tail feathers for. He said our wands had twin cores, or something. Said it was 'curious' in that annoying way he talks and that my wand was destined for great things or something."

Voldemort scoffed in amusement. "Sounds like something that man would say. I can even hear him saying it in my mind. That bit about our wands having twin cores is quite curious though. May I see your wand?"

Harry quickly pulled out his holly wand and handed it over. Voldemort took out his yew wand and held the two side-by-side, one in each hand. He shifted the holly wand into his wand-hand and acted as if he were getting a feel for it.

"Hm. This wand would work for me as well. They are quite similar. The holly doesn't conduct my magic as well, though. I can definitely tell the cores are almost identical though."

Harry couldn't help but eye Voldemort's yew wand with an air of intense curiosity, but suspected that asking to hold the Dark Lord's wand was probably a bad idea, so he kept his mouth shut.

Voldemort seemed to sense what he was thinking and smirked at him with an air of amusement. He handed Harry's wand back to him and Harry quickly pocketed it as he resumed his search through the box of wands.

There were only six wands left in the bottom of the box when Harry finally felt something right graze his fingertips. He paused and moved his hand back to the wand he'd just brushed up against. He grasped it, pulled it out and held it firmly in his grip. His magic coursed through it smoothly and easily. It seemed to magically vibrate at the same frequency as his own magic and the way it was in sync with him felt perfect. Harry was startled to realize that it felt like a better match than his holly wand.

"Found a match?" Voldemort's curious voice broke through Harry's stupor and he quickly nodded his head.

"Er... yeah. This one. Definitely this one."

"Let's see it," Voldemort said holding his hand out. Harry handed it over and Voldemort tapped his wand against it and some glowing text appeared over it that only the caster could really read. "Hm. Interesting," Voldemort said with an air of amusement and a smirk gracing his lips.

"What is it?" Harry asked, suddenly extremely curious.

"It is cypress wood. The core is dragon heart-string. Apparently from a Chinese fireball. You had to face that breed during the first task, didn't you?"

Harry blinked. "Oh. Yeah. Huh. Well, that's interesting, I suppose. I've never heard of a wand made of cypress."

"I don't think it's one of the types that Ollivander generally uses. I would guess the wand is foreign made by the core and wood type." Voldemort held his and and the cypress wand side by side. "Same length. So that makes this 13½ inches." He handed the wand back to Harry. "How good is the match?"

"Perfect," Harry said as he stared down at the wand in his hand. "Honestly, it feels like a better match than my holly wand does. I used to think it fit me perfectly."

"As I understand it, your magical core has shifted and grown considerably in the last year. It makes sense for the wand to suit you less now than it once did. Some types of wand wood conduct the dark arts significantly better than others. When Ollivander received only two feathers from Dumbledore's pet chicken, I imagine he intentionally used two contrasting types of wood for the two wands he created. One with a notably 'light' leaning wood, and one with a notably 'dark' wood. Yew, is more commonly associated with the dark arts. Performing the dark arts is easier with it as a conductor. Yew is a symbol of death and the hope for eternal life. Holly, in contrast, symbolizes holiness, consecration, material gain, physical revenge, beauty, and immortality."

Harry blinked. "Do you have an eidetic memory?"

Voldemort laughed. Literally laughed. He stopped quickly though, but smirked at Harry in amusement.

"As a matter of fact, I do. Although I didn't come by it entirely naturally. It is the result of a ritual I performed in my forth year at Hogwarts."

"Really?" Harry asked, with obvious interest in his voice. "I'll have to look into that one... Anyway, so what's the symbolism behind cypress wood, then?"

"The cypress tree is a symbol of death, because once cut, it never springs up again from its roots. It is also associated with the Greek god of the underworld, Hades. It is, like yew, more often than not considered a dark wand material."

"Ah... I see," Harry said as he looked down at his new wand with peaked interest.

Harry shifted his grip on the wand a few times, trying out how it felt in his hand. It was a few inches longer than his other wand and he wondered if the added length would mess up his casting any. The weight felt well balanced and the wood was smooth and polished. He found himself wishing he could start using that wand in class instead, and just drop the holly wand all together, but he knew that would defeat the purpose of getting it at all.

Harry turned to face the door they had come in from and cast a couple very simple spells. A lumos, a gentle breeze charm, and a localized warming charm; just to get a feel for it. He was grinning widely by the time he was done. He turned back to find Voldemort putting all of the other wands back into the box and then placing it on the shelf where it came from.

"Thank you for this... a lot. I mean it. It's fantastic. I never would have thought I'd find another wand that I'd feel more comfortable with than my holly wand," Harry said, earnestly as he looked down at the wand again with honest joy in his eyes.

Voldemort found himself almost uncomfortable with the words, and look of true appreciation and thankfulness in Harry's face. It wasn't a reaction he got often. It wasn't like he ever did anything unselfishly. If he did something for someone else, it was only because it would also benefit himself as well. Allowing Harry to get caught would only cause the Dark Lord's plans to come crashing down on his own head, so it was only prudent to start taking some precautions.

Voldemort gave Harry a dismissive wave of his hand. "Yes, of course. Just make sure you keep this one hidden from anyone else at the school. Also, this is only half of the precautions we need to take before I can let you perform any substantial magic while in the manor."

Harry stood straighter, taking on an air of serious attention.

"As an underaged wizard, you have a Ministry Trace spell on you. The wards that I currently have around the manor have prevented any of the magic performed in here from being detected by an outside source, which is the only reason the trace hasn't gone off on you already. However, we cannot entirely rely on that alone if you are to practice and perform any spells while here."

Harry's brow creased as he listened. "How does this Trace work?"

"It is a very rudimentary magic detection and location based spell. It cannot detect if you specifically cast any magic, but it can detect magic being cast. Once a spell is detected, the first thing it does is check to see if you are in, or near Hogwarts. If you are, it shuts down. If you are not, then the next thing it checks for is if there are any adult wizards around. If there are, it shuts down, assuming that the adult wizard cast the magic. If there are not any adult wizards, it assumes that you performed the magic yourself and the alarm goes off in the Ministry. At this point, it also checks to see if there are any muggles in the immediate vicinity and if there are, an additional infraction is noted, and a ministry obliviator is contacted."

Harry's eyes went wide as he took this in. "So, every time I perform magic, the Ministry can figure out where I am?"

"No. The spell cannot inform the Ministry of your location specifically, only if you are, or are not in Hogwarts. It uses the castle's wards to check."

"Oh... well, that's better at least..."

"Yes... in any case, we want it gone. There is a ritual that will dispell it quite easily, and you will return here tomorrow night for that."

Harry felt a bit queasy at the prospect of partaking in a ritual again so soon. The last one hadn't exactly been terribly pleasant for him, even if it could have been a lot worse. Voldemort could, apparently, see this in Harry's expression because he smirked and chuckled lightly.

"Do not worry so much, Potter. This will not involve any blood or knives. It won't even hurt for more than a minute and the pain is quite mild."

"You've performed it?"

"When I was fifteen, yes. I had absolutely no intention of returning to my summer living arrangements without free access to my magic, but I was also not willing to risk expulsion by getting caught."

"I can certainly empathize with that," Harry muttered darkly, as he remembered how many times during the previous summers, he had wished he could use his magic and not get caught. Suddenly he realized that was exactly what would come of this.

"Wait... so this... this will be permanent right? The trace will be gone from me, so even during the summers I can use magic and not end up expelled?"

Voldemort rolled his eyes in exasperation. "Yes, Potter, that is exactly what it means. Although, I suspect that there are additional magic detection charms built into the wards around that muggle hovel the old man sends you to each summer."

Harry scowled darkly and Voldemort could see his knuckles turning white from strain. "Why the hell should I even have to go back there?" Harry muttered, angrily.

"You shouldn't have to go back. And honestly, you don't," Voldemort said as he casually leaned against the table in the center of the room. Harry couldn't help the portion of his mind that thought the man standing before him looked incredibly regal, and enticing as he propped himself against the table with one hand, in such a confident and relaxed pose. Harry shook his head to clear it of the strange thoughts.

"That may be true, but Dumbledore still insists I go back every year. He won't let me leave until he says it's okay –"

"And what right does that man have to dictate where you spend your summers?" Voldemort broke in with a disgusted sneer. "He is the headmaster of your school, not your legal guardian during the summers. He handed those rights over to the muggles when he abandoned you on their doorstep. His authority over you ends the moment you leave the boundary of the school. The muggles dictate where you go during your holidays, and if you can convince them to approve of your absence, then that is all that matters. You inherited the Potter fortune, did you not? Take your money, disappear for a few months and give the old man a heart attack."

Voldemort said it in such a flippant and dismissive way that Harry actually laughed. "You know... I really should," Harry said through his chuckles. "The problem is that he would track me down where ever I went."

"Leave the country. Take a holiday. Keep moving. Never stay in one place for more than a day or two, and he will not be able to track you," Voldemort said, waving his hand and then standing up straighter. "He will see a rebelling, angsty teenager. Of course, as an alternative, you could simply stay here, and assist me. I certainly wouldn't mind having someone more competent than Wormtail around to aid me. I will have called back my other Death Eaters by then, but they all have lives, careers, and public personas to maintain, so they will not be able to stay here for any long durations. Additionally, once I have completed my wards, there is no way that Dumbledore would be able to find you, as long as you were within them."

Harry stared at the man in utter astonished disbelief for a very long minute. Had he just been invited to spend the summer with Voldemort?

"In any case, the choice is yours to make," Voldemort continued dismissively. "Now, It is late and I need my rest. I'm sure you could use some as well, seeing as how you have classes in the morning. Return tomorrow night at 9pm."

Harry stood straighter, sensing the dismissal, but was a little unsure about the time frame for his return.

"Nine o'clock might be a little difficult. Unless it's going to take less than a half hour. Seeing as how curfew is at ten... it's just harder for me to get away with my dorm mates not noticing that sort of thing unless I slip out after they're all asleep."

"It needs to be nine. Make sure you are not late. Getting back will not be a problem either, I already have arrangements made," Voldemort said simply as he began to leave the room.

Harry was uncertain, but if the man said he'd made arrangements, Harry could only trust he meant it. He quickly followed after the Dark Lord as he was escorted back to the entry hall where he used the portkey on his cuff to return to the school.

– –

The following day felt utterly surreal. It was Monday. Just a plain, regular, Monday. It was a stark reminder that the rest of the world was still utterly oblivious that everything had changed, and they just didn't know it yet. Monday morning brought Herbology with the Hufflepuffs, and then Care of Magical Creatures. Harry spent most of Lunch going over in his mind, different ways he might tackle his task of dealing with Trelawney. He was still utterly dumbfounded that it was her, of all people, who had made the prophecy that basically dictated his entire life.

On one hand, Harry suddenly felt like he needed to learn a whole lot more about this Divination nonsense, seeing as how it had managed to play a huge role the whole foundation of his life, and he had been utterly ignorant of it. On the other hand, he wanted to read Trelawney's mind, find out the prophecy, and never again set foot in her presence. And possibly find some way to horribly decapitate her later on without getting caught.

Hermione was talking about the Arithmancy essay that was due in her next class – a class that took place at the exact same time as divination. Harry paused in thought for a moment.

"Hey, Hermione?"

Hermione paused in the middle of whatever it was she had been saying, that no one had actually been listening to and blinked at him. "Yes, Harry?"

"Do you know if it's possible to start a new elective even if you're beyond third year?"

"No... I don't think so," she said slowly as she screwed up her face in thought. "I mean, a person wouldn't be able to join in with my class on Arithmancy or Runes next year because they'd missed last year and this year. It wouldn't be possible to get caught up."

"No, not join your class... if I did take up either subject, I'd be in with the third years, but I'm honestly okay with that."

Hermione looked a bit stunned, but then she looked a bit excited and curious. "Are you serious, Harry?"

"Yeah. I mean, if I started either subject next year, I'd have enough years to take OWLs in the subjects. I wouldn't be able to take the class long enough to sit my NEWTs, but even three years of those subjects will be loads more useful than ruddy divination."

Hermione had a proud, excited expression on her face. Ron looked horrified.

"Are you mental, mate! Do you have any idea how hard those subjects are?"

Harry rolled his eyes. "Do you have any idea how valuable those subjects are? Honestly Ron – it may seem brilliant to take the light classes, and get an 'easy O' now while in school, just so that you can have more time to screw around, but it's only going to make more work for you later on when you get out of school."

"ARGH! You've turned into bloody Hermione!" Ron groaned in slightly exaggerated horror.

Hermione scowled at Ron for a moment before returning her extremely proud expression on Harry. "Oh Harry! I'm so pleased that you've started to realize these things for yourself! I definitely think you should go talk to Professor McGonagall and tell her about your idea. Which subject are you thinking of taking? Or do you think you could handle both, because they very taxing courses. It's a lot to handle."

Harry fought the urge to scowl at her. No matter how far he'd come, and how well he performed in classes, it seemed she would always think him inferior to her in the smarts department. He seriously doubted that Hermione could perform even half the spells he had mastered down in the chamber. But that was primarily because she just didn't have the magical affinity, or the stomach for that sort of thing.

"Yeah, I think I'll be taking both. If McGonagall is worried about the work load, I'll just drop Care of Magical Creatures. I mean... I know Hagrid will be upset, but I'm sure I could convince him that it's for the best."

"You'd drop Care!" Ron exclaimed in horror. "You can't drop that too! I mean... what about Hagrid? What about me? I'm gonna end up alone in both classes?"

"Hagrid will survive. And it's not like you're alone Ron. You can still partner up with Seamus or Neville in both classes," Harry said, only barely stalling his eye roll.

"But won't that be weird? Being in two classes with a bunch of third years?"

Harry shrugged and took another bit of the large turkey sandwich on his plate. He waited until he'd swallowed, and then said, "Honestly, I don't care if it is weird. I think that those subjects are too important to pass up."

"But why? You don't need either of those to be an Auror. Why bother?" Ron asked, with obvious confusion.

This time Harry did roll his eyes. "I don't want to be a bloody Auror. I'm still not positive what I am going to go into, but I know it's not that."

"What!" Ron and Hermione both exclaimed at the same time.

"But Harry... I... I thought –" Ron began, but his voice trailed off weakly in confusion and surprise.

"When did this happen? I thought you'd been set on being an auror since last year?" Hermione asked.

"I didn't exactly have any idea what my options were, honestly. Basically, I knew my dad was an auror; aurors catch dark wizards; and the whole wizarding world expects me to fight dark wizards. It was more of those 'this is what's expected of me, so I guess I'll just do that' sort of deals, rather than looking at my options and putting forth the effort to find something I actually want to do."

"Well, have you looked at the options, then?" Hermione asked.

Harry frowned and looked thoughtful. "Well, I'm only in my forth year, so it's not like I have to make my mind up already, and I've still got lots of time to change my mind later all... I think that I'd probably prefer to avoid the Ministry, all together, but if I did go to work for the Ministry, I suspect the only job I'd be interested in would be becoming an Unspeakable."

Ron blanched and Hermione gaped at him in shock.

"You'd want to be an Unspeakable!" Ron said in a harsh whisper.

"It's one of the things on my 'to consider' list, at least. But I'd need to get NEWTs in arithmancy for that job, so after graduating Hogwarts, I'd have to hire a private tutor, or do private study and eventually take the test at the Ministry on my own."

"You've really put a lot of thought to this, haven't you," Hermione said with that proud look on her face.

Harry wasn't about to correct her assumption. Truth was he hadn't put much of any thought to it. It was all stuff he'd read in other sources and was only just now putting together. It hadn't even occurred to him, before that day, to try taking Arithmancy or Ancient Runes at Hogwarts, and while he had been fascinated about the Unspeakables when he first read about them in one of Tom Riddle's books, it hadn't occurred to him before that very moment to consider that as a career goal. Now that it had occurred to him, it seemed obvious, and he wished he'd thought of it sooner. He could only imagine what sorts of things he could discover for the Dark Lord if he got in there. Although, ideally, by the time Harry would be old enough to get a job there, Voldemort would have already gained control over the Ministry, so it was possible this was all moot.

Harry shrugged at Hermione. "I suppose. I've been trying to think about a lot of things, more now, than I used to."

"Well, I'm glad!" Hermione said with a smug grin and a bob of her head. Ron scowled and rolled his eyes.

"Come on, mate. We've got to get to Divination," Ron grumbled as he began to grab his bag and stand.

Harry nodded, grabbed his things and stood as well. They bid Hermione farewell and began to make the long trek up to Trelawney's tower.

When they finally got there, they found that the seats had been rearranged so that they formed a very large circle around the center of the room, where a round, stone, fire pit was placed. Trelawney was standing over the fire pit, pointing her wand and levitating a bunch of rocks into a pyramid shape, and then placing white wooden driftwood around them in a circle.

Harry rolled his eyes at the woman, not even bothering to wonder what the hell she was on now, and sat down in one of the chairs, followed by Ron. A few minutes later, most of the class had arrived and Trelawney used an incendio spell to light a fire in the fire pit. Once everyone was present, she began a lecture on smoke scrying. Apparently, the first half of the class they would try to see... er, something in the spoke from the fire. Then, after that section was done, she would be dousing the fire with water. The water, poured over the hot stones, would create steam, and they would then try to see stuff in that.

Harry silently griped and wondered if she had performed something like this, only added some questionable herbs in with the burning stones right before making the prediction that destroyed the first thirteen years of his life.

"Do not follow the smoke up but rather allow the smoke to forms patterns within your spiritual gaze. In time you will see visions of many far off events," Trelawney was saying at one point and Harry heaved a sigh as he began to stare into the billowing smoke.

He saw... nothing. He imagined he saw himself strangling Trelawney, but he seriously doubted that was a prophetic vision, nearly as much as what he just really really wanted to be doing.

He tried, several times, to make prolonged eye contact with the teacher, but she was pointedly staring off into space, which made this rather difficult. At one point, Trelawney began to call on each of them so that they could describe what they had seen, and Harry quickly concocted a story to tell when she got to him. Finally, it was his turn, and as she focused on him, she looked him straight in the eyes.

He began to spout off the nonsense he made up, while at the same time, splitting off a bit of his consciousness to slip into her mind. He went digging through a disorganized mountain of memories and images, trying desperately to find something useful in what little time he had available to him. He tried focusing on the lines of the prophecy that he actually knew, but he was coming up with nothing. Absolutely nothing.

And then he was pulled out of her mind as she turned her head towards the fire pit again and began to recount how impressed she was with his progress. His inner-eye had apparently been developing nicely these last few months, since he learned how to be a better liar and a better actor.

He sat there and stewed in his own annoyance. He had known that it wouldn't be easy to find, but he had still harbored some hope that it would just work.

Frustrated, he sighed and sat back in his seat to wait out either the next opportunity to slip into her head, or until the end of the class so he could get the hell out of the smoky, stuffy, tower room.

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