Disclaimer: I do not own J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter universe. I do own this sandwich thoug—aaaand it's gone.
Chapter 1 – Well, that didn't go according to plan
A cold wind blew through a tiny village in the West Country of England, rustling through leaves that lay heavy on the ground before dashing itself against the legs of a man that definitely did not belong in such a quaint little hamlet, or, indeed, in any place where happiness and warmth made its home. The midnight robes he wore were sent fluttering in the icy breeze, but they were not what marked him as an outsider. In fact, just for this night, his attire seemed right at home, as all around this peaceful little town, men and children alike roamed about dressed as goblins and devils and monsters in celebration of Halloween. The children shrieked with glee and clutched bags of sweets as they darted to and fro, all while their parents watched on with happiness and pride and, in some cases, patient humor as they wore ridiculous costumes at their children's insistence.
One might think it was the lack of a child by his side that so marked him as an outsider, or perhaps the absence of any friend or spouse at his elbow to gossip with, as was the case for so many others around him. Or perhaps it was his stride that so set him apart, moving with a blend of undeniable purpose and almost serpentine grace while everyone else joyfully gamboled and stumbled about without a care, drunk on the joy of the holiday.
Whatever it was that so marked this man in the eyes of any who gazed upon him, one thing was absolutely clear: a stranger had come to Godric's Hollow, and he most certainly did not belong.
Of course, not every set of eyes was upon him. Some were too caught up in rustling through bags of sweets or talking with friends or laughing at each other's costumes. Such was the case for one young boy as he dashed from one house to the next, all the while staring aghast at the box of raisins placed in his bag by the weirdos at the previous home. Truly, some evil in this world is simply beyond comprehension.
However, as he was so distraught over this horrendous crime against humanity, he forgot to watch out for that one piece of sidewalk that always stuck up higher than the others between these houses, and so he was sent sprawling to the ground, his bag filled with sweets and one horrible abomination sliding ahead of him to stop at the feet of the robed stranger.
The boy bounced to his feet unharmed, too filled with sugar and excitement to give a second thought to his tumble, but as he started to dash forward to pick up his bag of (mostly) precious loot, he drew up short, noticing the man for the first time. It was understandable that this would make him hesitate, as the man had just bent over and slowly picked up the boy's bag with what looked like an enormous pale spider moonlighting as a hand.
Of course, something like that couldn't keep the boy back for long, but as he ran forward to stand in front of the stranger, he froze once again, this time from looking at the face hidden underneath that black hood.
The boy just stood there, unable to move or blink as he stared at the stranger's face and the stranger stared back at him. But finally, the boy's face took on an expression that was a curious mix of horror and delight, a combination only a child could manage.
"Are you a monster?" the child blurted out excitedly, not sure if he was looking at a mask or a face under that hood.
The stranger grinned at the question, which curiously enough made the boy's mixed expression become far less mixed, before slowly reaching out and placing the bag of sweets in the boy's shaking arms.
"No. I am not."
The man strode past without another word.
The stranger chuckled quietly as he reached his destination. He stared up at the unassuming little cottage before gazing up and down the street outside. Few of the revelers were out and about in this part of town, but each one that was seemed simply unable to cast their eyes on the cottage before him. Their eyes flicked from the house on its left to the one on its right as if there was nothing in between them at all, and not a one of them seemed to notice anything odd about this in the least. The stranger grinned.
He reached out and delicately unlatched the garden gate, allowing it to creak shut behind him before finally latching, and in the icy stillness, that small metal click sounded almost … final. Like a cell door slamming shut.
As he strode up the garden path, he found himself thinking back to the little boy's question. 'Are you a monster?' He felt a laugh bubble up in his throat at the memory. He had often heard that question levied at him, but never with such … innocence. Indeed, there was often a very different tone to such questions when he was involved.
He lifted his wand to point it at the door in front of him. He felt his magic roil and burn inside him, pleading to be released like a slave under the branding iron. He allowed the faintest whisper of that power to escape, oh so gently reaching into the tiny mass of metal and levers in front of him to unlock the door. The click of the latch, echoing loudly in the cold, silent night, was almost buried under the triumphant scream of his magic reveling in the joy of pleasing its lord.
The door swung inwards, bathing him in the warm glow cast by the fireplace in the cottage's living room, in front of which a small, loving family was gathered to celebrate the holiday in comfort and safety, neither of which they would be finding tonight.
The woman holding the infant stood at an angle facing the door, and so she was the first to see the visitor that had come calling. Her skin paled to a sickly white as he reached up and lowered his hood, baring his face to the world. He smiled. "Hello, Lily Potter."
She desperately clutched the child in her arms. "V-Voldemort," she breathed.
The man beside her spun to face the doorway. His jet black hair formed a stark contrast to the paleness of his face as he rapidly reached the same sickly shade as his wife. "Y-y-you!"
Voldemort smiled even more deeply. "Hello again, James."
James took an involuntary step back from that gaze before gritting his teeth and drawing his wand. "Lily! Take him and go! Run! I'll hold him off!"
Voldemort chuckled. Now that tone he was more familiar with. He idly watched as the woman darted upstairs, huddled over the child in her arms as if hiding him from view would somehow make him safe.
"Hey!" James shouted as his wand flashed with a spell that Voldemort lazily deflected, not even turning to look at his attacker. "Leave them alone and face me, you monster!"
Ah. There's that word again. Monster. Voldemort mused on this as he finally turned to face the Potter scion. Him, that boy, everyone seems to enjoy calling me that. His own wand flashed as James Potter screamed. None of them seem to understand. He seemed almost bored as he leaned away from a barrage of desperate curses from the bleeding man in front of him before casually flicking his wand and sending that man to the ground, his wand rolling away from his spasming fingers. Lord Voldemort is far more than some common monster. He looked down on the trembling man lying at his feet before slowly raising his wand once more. I am a devil. A sickly green light burst from his wand, and a final breath passed the lips of the Dark Lord's latest victim.
He gazed dispassionately at the corpse in front of him before turning his gaze to the staircase the woman had ran up. And it's time to ascend my throne.
As he started up, his thoughts turned to the home he had invaded. No magical pictures, no enchanted items, there was almost no evidence of magic in this house whatsoever. He gently traced his fingers along the banister as an expression of disgust colored his features. How could they stand it? There were no screams of magic being twisted and shackled into a broom. No magic sang its groans and cries as it was forced into any number of shapes and forms needed to power the innumerable enchanted items that were so essential to a proper wizarding home. Were it not for the wands and the wards he could still feel outside, he would think he had wandered into a muggle home.
He started across the second landing. How did their skin not crawl from this mundane air? How were their minds not twisted and broken from this silence? But, then again, no-one but him ever seemed to hear magic's song. They were all lost to silence, even standing in the middle of Diagon Alley. He chuckled to himself as he stood before a closed door, hearing the pulse and cry of magic from the woman's wand on the other side. Perhaps that is why they are all so mad.
He opened the door, ruthlessly shredding the trap ward the woman had placed on the other side. He could see her face fall as he did, but as he started forward, that expression was replaced with a look of determination and fear as she raised her wand at him.
He paused at the sight, and then he laughed outright for the first time. "Lily Potter. You are a talented witch, there's no denying that, but you know you cannot win against me." Her wand wavered. "Stand aside, little girl. You can't stop me. You know that. There's no reason for you to waste your life trying." He stepped forward. "Leave, Lily Potter. And live."
A moment stretched out into an eternity as the two stared at each other, one with amusement, and the other with fear and hatred. But then, ever so slowly, Lily lowered her wand. Her face filled with loathing before she softly stepped to the side.
Voldemort's smile deepened. "Smart girl." Her face flushed with fury as she dropped her eyes to the floor. He stepped languidly past her, watched her body shake and her hand twitch as he drew level with her, heard her rapid breathing draw almost to a halt before he moved on. But as he moved past her, he drew to a stop. He could feel her eyes hard on his back as he slowly raised his hands out at his sides, not even turning to face her.
"Well?" he asked quietly. "I'm waiting, smart girl."
Oh, he could practically taste her despair at those words. Exquisite. He laughed once more, and at that high, cold sound, Lily struck. An inarticulate cry of rage and desperation tore free of her lips as her wand let loose a brilliant emerald light aimed directly at the Dark Lord's back.
Voldemort felt the magic rise up in the woman, felt it twist its way down her wand, heard its scream as it was let loose. He might as well have cast the curse himself. He spun, moving at an inhuman speed as magic pumped through his veins and flooded his wand. The woman's curse reached him … and was swatted away.
Lily's face showed absolute shock as the Dark Lord did the impossible and deflected the unblockable curse. She reflexively winced as her curse struck the wall near the ceiling, leaving a crater, but other than that, she did not move. She couldn't. She had failed. She felt tears fill her eyes.
Voldemort straightened casually, as if he hadn't a fear in the world. "Smart girl … and foolish. I told you that you couldn't stop me." He shook his head in mocking sadness. "You should have just stepped aside and given me your son."
Lily's eyes flashed at that. And all at once, all the despair left her face, leaving only rage. "I'll die first!" she screamed.
"Yes," Voldemort said simply.
She raised her wand once more, a curse on her lips … and she was struck by sickly green light.
Voldemort shook his head as he watched the fierce woman fall. As with the man, he stood and gazed at her for a moment. Her pale complexion suited her in death, just as her blood-red hair suited her in life. With a snort, he noticed that her head was turned towards the crib on the far side of the room, and her left hand was extended as if reaching out to the child within it, even from beyond the veil of death. He sighed. He would never understand these people. He offered her a chance at life, and she just threw it away, knowing full well that nothing she did could stop him. Although, he had to admit, that little plan of hers was the closest anyone had ever come. Had he been anything less than he was, it would have even succeeded.
He heard a rustle at the far end of the room, and he finally turned his attention to the entire reason for his visit. In the crib stood a child, little more than a year old, with a mess of black hair and eyes as vividly green as the woman's. Those eyes were staring at the dead woman on the floor, but they rose as Voldemort came to stand before him.
"So … you're the one that's supposed to have the power to destroy me?" Voldemort raised one non-existent eyebrow before his face twisted into dissatisfaction. "Strange. You look rather like a human child, not some angel of death."
The boy blinked his large, tear-filled eyes. "Bad man."
Voldemort raised both eyebrows at that before giving another high, cold laugh.
He raised his wand as his eyes glowed an unearthly red, shifting his vision from the mundane to the arcane. Colors seemed muted, but certain things glowed brightly. The woman's wand, for instance, glowed the bright emerald green of summer grass from the floor behind him, while his own lit up in the pale green shade of his beloved curse. With his Sight, he looked beyond the boy, seeing past his diminutive exterior to the crackling core of his magic. He blinked at what he saw.
"Well … maybe you might actually have proven a challenge to me one day." He snorted. "Maybe."
He built up the magic inside himself, watched it twist and jerk as it flowed from his core down his arm and filled his bone-handled wand. The tip began to give of a pale green glow, and with his Sight, he took careful aim at the boy's glowing magic core. Unnecessary, perhaps, but apotheosis called for a certain flair.
And so, with his wand leveled at the boy's heart, he spoke his final words as a mortal.
Pale green light launched from his wand and struck the boy in the chest, reaching deep within to strike at his very core of magic, and presumably reaching even further to sever the boy's very soul, though he liked to believe that they were one and the same. He watched that core fracture like a solid glass orb as his curse struck, and with a final pulse of light, the boy fall back in his crib, dead.
Voldemort's eyes ceased glowing as he lowered his wand. He breathed deeply, tasting the air for the first time as an immortal. As he gazed on the tiny, broken form of his supposed nemesis, he found himself thinking back to his past, all the way back to that filthy orphanage and its fanatic harridan of a caretaker. What was that one line from that damnable book she loved so much … He grinned.
"And behold, I am alive for evermore."
With that, he turned his back on the fallen child and began to leave, already turning his mind towards his final ritual to seal his immortality. The boy's murder would perform nicely as its catalyst. But as he passed the woman's body, he paused. Just for a moment, he thought he heard something, something just on the edge of hearing. Is that … no, it couldn't be. But … it almost sounded like … song.
He spun back towards the crib as he heard a faint rustle. His eyes bulged. It couldn't be. He stared at the unmoving form of the child in the crib until his eyes burned, but finally, he gave a rueful chuckle at his jumpiness and started to straighten. However, his amusement lasted only a moment. Right before his eyes, the child convulsed before dragging in a desperate, agonizing breath.
Voldemort dropped his wand in shock at the sight. It's … it's not possible. He struck the boy dead with the killing curse. He watched the light go out of his eyes! But there he was, coughing and pulling in one heaving, painful breath after another. Numbly, Voldemort started back towards the crib, not even collecting his wand in his shock, but before he could take a second step, the child began screaming.
The boy howled in utter agony, and Voldemort dropped to his knees and howled right alongside him, as far more than just the boy's lungs were screaming. Voldemort was racked with unbearable pain as the boy's magic screamed along with him, striking Voldemort more viscerally than any spell or mere sound ever could. He could not longer place himself, no longer remember where he was or what he was doing. That indescribable shriek pierced his mind and shook him like a dog shaking a rat. Desperately, no longer able to consciously direct his actions, he activated his Sight and looked beyond the boy. What he saw horrified him.
The boy's core was shattered, resembling a crystal ball that had been blown into pieces from the inside out, but it wasn't dead! The pieces weren't scattered and dissolving. No. They were hovering in place beside each other, maintaining the sphere's shape. The light of what he was seeing burned him, blinded him just like the scream was deafening him, and yet he couldn't look away. He watched as the edges of those crystalline pieces liquefied, flowing towards each other to fill the gaps left by his attack. He could feel magic's agony as it happened, and he distantly registered the boy convulsing in a seizure from the pain even as he continued his unending howl.
The boy's core changed. It now resembled some glowing primeval planet with a crust riddled with brilliant, lava-filled cracks. Those fluid cracks flared with light once more, reminding him of the agony he was under, but he no longer cared. He no longer heard the scream of the boy or his magic. He no longer felt his own throat as it bled from the strain of his continued shrieking. He no longer even registered his own magic as it thrashed and cried out from this torture. All he felt was the song. The song that he had so distantly heard before the boy drew that first breath. The song that reached his broken, blackened soul and drew agony from it that he didn't even know was possible. The song that rose in broken cadence as the boy's tortured core grew brighter and brighter.
The song that he had heard once before.
The song reached a crescendo as an indescribably bright wave of light burst free of the boy's core. Distantly, as if in slow motion, he watched the light demolish the wall behind the crib and the ceiling above him. By the time it reached Voldemort himself, he couldn't even feel his own body anymore. He couldn't even remember that he had one. He felt no loss as the light vaporized his physical form. He felt only the horrifying agony of his broken soul being twisted and mutilated even further as it was wrenched free of his former body. He felt what was left of his soul being pulled taught as it was caught between an unstoppable force trying to drive it out of this world and an immovable object in the form of one of his earthly tethers. Like a meat hook driven into his flesh, he felt that tether catch and hold him as his very soul wailed in agony. For a moment, for one brief, indescribable moment, he wished that tether would fail and just let him go. Anything would be better than this. But just when he felt that this would be his fate for all eternity, the luminous wave passed on, barely an instant after first catching him, and suddenly his soul was moving, drawn inexorably towards that same tether.
He longed for the blackness of unconsciousness to take hold of him to spare him the memory of the torture he had just endured, but he was granted no such mercy. This new form could not sleep, could not rest. It could only exist. And so he did. His mind and soul shuddered and wailed in agony from that horrible memory, but he lived. And so he retreated, allowing his tether to draw what was left of him to a dark, hidden place in one of the forgotten corners of the world. He would recover. He would rise again. And he would have vengeance.
But for now, back in the ruined cottage, the infant, granted the mercy that Voldemort was so denied, slept, unaware of what happened to the bad man, unaware that strangers would be arriving soon to stare aghast at the wreckage before looking in shock at the shredded black robes of the intruder or the infant sleeping quietly nearby. He was unaware of how many eyes would be turned to this scene, or of the legend that would grow from it. He was unaware of the scar shaped like an inverted triangle now branded on his chest, or of the twinkling blue eyes that would soon study it before gazing on the fallen form of his mother nearby. He was blissfully ignorant of how much his life would be shaped by that simple moment, or that he would soon be whisked off to a place where the abnormal was hated and the name Potter despised. The boy slept on, knowing nothing of the fate that lay in store for him, or that his story was only just beginning.
Author's note: Hello. I'd like to point out a few things about this story before we really get started. First, this is an AU story, as I'm sure you've noticed by now. There will be some changes to things like character ages, personalities, and even genders for a few, and some events will play out differently than in canon (other than simply as a result of the main character's actions, I mean). There will also be some OCs, but I don't plan on them being the center-point for the story, which will primarily (although not exclusively) revolve around Harry's time at Hogwarts, starting with first year and the story of the Philosopher's Stone.
On a more personal note, I hope you all enjoy my first real attempt at writing, and please let me know what you think in the reviews. Just be gentle. It's my first time ;)