AN: The characters presented in this story are, in varying degrees, OOC from canon. If there are bits I need to smooth over in the development of characters, let me know, but be aware that they're not going to end up canon characters in the end.
Disclaimer: This story contains references to trademarked characters owned by others. No claim is made to ownership of said characters or their source materials. This disclaimer applies to all subsequent chapters or parts of this story.
The Nemesis of Rationality
Harry Potter learned the truth, and it did anything but set him free.
No, the truth was a horrible, wicked thing. Twisted and black and vile. The knowledge that he’d gained, that he should never have gained, cast everything into stark shadow. The truth was that good and evil were just labels, and they could look remarkably similar in the British wizarding world.
His awakening had been a slow process. It started when he’d gotten that last letter from Hermione during the summer after second year. She’d told him she wouldn’t be returning to Hogwarts. She said she was going “across the pond” to somewhere that didn’t have so much prejudice. She and her parents were moving her out of fear for her safety after she’d been petrified and she was just expressing her distaste for people like Malfoy along the way. Like avoiding the pureblood prejudice was a kind of consolation prize for having to leave.
After that, he’d started to notice things. Ron was… he was a very… he had red hair and was good at chess. Those were, Harry realized, the only two redeeming traits of his “best friend”. As he looked around, he noticed that Ron’s laziness and all around weakness of character was far too common. Especially among the purebloods.
Without Hermione around, Harry had been forced to advance his own studies or fail, and he wouldn’t stand for failing. Failing put him back amongst his relatives, who were the very worst sort of muggles, and that was just unacceptable. So he pushed himself. He pushed himself hard. When Sirius Black was looking for him, he delved into Defense with a passion, even picking up some borderline dark spells in the hopes that he could defend himself.
It was the summer of the World Cup that he realized that he was being carefully isolated. His godfather had escaped the Kiss through some quick work on Harry’s part involving a time turner Dumbledore had slipped him in the hospital wing, but he hadn’t been allowed to spend more than a few minutes with him before being rushed back to his relatives’ home. Then it’d been a summer of ghastly muggles and Weasleys and Dark Marks and Death Eaters.
The lessons from that summer seemed to be that light sided purebloods were good and pretty much everyone else was bad. The Tri-Wizard did nothing to help that impression, and the following summer wasn’t much better. Sure, he got to spend some time with Sirius, but Molly Weasley was there the whole time, deriding Sirius as a bad influence and countermanding him at every opportunity.
Of course, whoever was setting him up must not have counted on what happened in the Department of Mysteries. When Snape’s lessons in Occlumency had turned abusive, Harry had sought out texts of his own to study. He’d found them in the Chamber of Secrets, though who had left them there was far from certain. If Snape’s reason for mastering Occlumency was spying on Voldemort, then he suspected that the books belonged to old Tommy.
When he’d gotten the false vision of his Godfather being tortured, he’d known it for a fake almost immediately. However, he wanted to know what was so important about him going to the Ministry and he’d appropriated a fast broom and his cloak to find out. Six Death Eaters died before the note that Harry left was noticed and reinforcements arrived. The reinforcements were more of a hindrance than anything, and Sirius getting himself knocked through the Veil almost made him use an Unforgivable on the bitch that’d done it.
Lucky (for a given value of luck), Voldemort had chosen that time to show up. Then Dumbledore showed up and the two elder wizards dueled while Harry stood by helplessly. Eventually, Voldemort made a mistake. A horrible, horrible mistake.
He possessed Harry.
Now, in true test of magic, Voldemort would have beaten Harry within seconds. A battle of mental magics or a physical fight would have gone the same way, though possibly a little slower. The one arena that Voldemort could not possibly hope to beat Harry in, however, was a battle of souls. Harry’s soul, for all of the beating his body had taken over the years, was strong and pure. Voldemort’s was a ragged, sickly thing. The fact that Harry’s soul had been riding alongside a fragment of Voldemort’s for years, gaining resistance to it, didn’t help matters any.
Harry could never have described what happened next, though “I ate the fucker” came pretty close. The backlash of it almost knocked Harry out, but he managed to remain conscious long enough for Dumbledore to portkey him away from the Ministry’s inquiring minds.
Ten minutes later, Harry snapped out of the haze he’d fallen into. Voldemort wasn’t gone… not exactly. Voldemort had been merged with Harry, integrated. He was still Harry Potter, but he also had a little Tom Riddle in him. Fortunately, having a whole soul (well, more than a whole soul, really) cured the insanity of his one time nemesis, though his mind was a swirling mess of confusion.
The one thing he knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, was that he needed to get out of Hogwarts in a hurry.
So he did. He ran out of the castle, pausing for no one, and crossed the wards. He used his newly obtained ability to Apparate to the last place on earth anyone would have expected him to go. Malfoy Manor.
He was only mildly surprised when the wards recognized him and allowed him entry as Voldemort. He made his way inside and to Lucius’ drawing room and the secret cache of money and items it contained for an emergency such as his. He was in the process of shoving galleons and muggle currency into an expanded pack when he felt the sharp poke of a wand in his back.
“Hands up,” a femine voice growled and Harry hastily complied.
A rush of information from Voldemort flooded into his mind and he breathed out heavily. “Narcissa.”
The wand tip never wavered as she prodded him again. “Over there. Turn around slowly and tell me what you are doing in my home.”
Harry sighed but did as directed. When he faced her, he was gratified to hear a soft gasp. Harry let a little bit of Voldemort’s power shine through, just enough to turn his eyes red. “Narcissa, things have changed…”
The wand tip dipped and a stricken look passed across her face. A second later, she was crying and clinging to Harry’s chest, though she had to stoop to do it. Voldemort’s emotions crashed in on him and Harry could do nothing but gently stroke the much taller woman’s hair and make soothing noises. Voldemort hadn’t loved her, exactly, but what he’d felt for her was as close to love as his shriveled heart could have managed.
“Cissy… you have to pull yourself together. I’m not… I’m not exactly Tom. I’m not Harry, either, at least not entirely. He… he was a very sick man, but he cared about you. He would want you to be safe,” he said, keeping his voice calm and level. He didn’t have much experience with crying women, and Voldemort’s… well, women tended to be crying because of him, not to him. Pushing aside the distaste he felt at that, he pressed on. “Your husband, the fool, has gotten himself arrested. You must take steps to protect yourself.”
Narcissa had regained some of her composure by that point and nodded to me.
“Sirius Black is dead, which leaves your son standing to inherit,” Harry said, his voice growing colder. “You must undo the damage your husband has done to him and make him into a man worth of being the head of the House of Black. If he is still a pathetic example of a pureblood the next time I see him, he will not be pleased with the result.”
“Take me with you,” she said, all in a rush. Harry smiled at her sadly. “Narcissa… Cissy… would that I could, but I am not the man or boy I was yesterday. You have a son, as wretched as he is, and I have much to accomplish before I can rest.”
“If you won’t then… one last night. It is all I ask.”
Harry blinked in surprise. The thought of plowing Draco’s mom’s fertile feeds had a certain “Dear Penthouse” allure, but he couldn’t risk it. “I can’t. Time is short and I must be gone.”
He did give her one last kiss, standing on his toes to do it, before sweeping out, the expanded pack slung over one shoulder and bulging with emergency funds.
One more quick stop, a few quick spells, and a thousand pounds later, he was winging his way to Austrailia by muggle means. On the flight, he finally had time to settle down and make some sense of everything that had happened to him. When he’d absorbed Tom, he’d taken much more than his memories. He’d taken his magical essence, and with it the many enhancements and rituals Tom had performed over the years. Fortunately, the prices for those rituals which had made Tom both insane and inhuman had already been paid, leaving him with all of the benefits and none of the drawbacks.
One of those rituals had been the single darkest ritual known to the European Ministries. Anyone found to even be in possession of the instructions for the ritual was Obliviated to a drooling vegetable, stripped of their soul by a dementor, and then killed. Preferably, the body was thrown into something like the Veil of Death to completely eradicate it. It’d taken Voldemort years to obtain it, but only a few minutes to perform it.
The ritual did something very simple, but very profound. It granted the performer the ability to see magic. It also revealed the Big Lie that the Eurpoean Ministries upheld. Purebloods were, on the whole, only half as strong magically as wizards and witches with some measure of muggle blood in them.
It was also, Voldemort had known, the reason why wanded magic was the only kind taught. Because magical power was limited by the wand, the power difference was very difficult to spot. Especially since the degree of magical efficiency one could manage with a wand was highly dependent on the length of time they had been using one. Purebloods started with them much earlier, and thus looked equal or better than the muggleborns. If such comparisons were made later in life, they would have yielded much different results.
Voldemort hadn’t chosen his followers because he agreed with their ideals, but rather because they were less likely to pose a threat to him in the long run. The fact that purebloods also tended toward stupidity and sloth only made them more attractive as servants.
Not that the Ministry was any better, of course. Keeping the status quo required that muggleborns be systematically repressed and denied opportunities to advance until they either left the wizarding world or left Europe. Australia and the Americas were filled with magical refugees looking for an even shake, and it was into their midst that Harry intended to flee.
No sooner had Harry’s plane landed than he passed through customs and disappeared into the Outback. It was a dangerous but beautiful land and he did his best to get thoroughly lost in it. It wasn’t like a wizard could starve or die of thirst, when food and water were a few simple spells away, after all.
Two months passed before Harry stepped foot in civilization again. When he did, he was a changed man. He’d been able to employ meditative techniques Voldemort had known but rarely practiced to filter apart his magical essence. He had created two separate essences within himself, one dark and one light. All living creatures possessed both, to some degree, but few had them in any purity. Now he held both.
Voldemort’s worst memories had been suppressed and his useful ones assimilated into Harry’s regular mental toolset. Though Voldemort was a great deal older than Harry, his studies had revolved around immortality and the soul much more than practical matters. He was still a good all-around wizard, but his true mastery lay only in a couple of, admittedly effective, areas. That left many little gaps and areas where Tom had knowledge but little experience. What Dark Lord uses cleaning charms? That’s what minions are for. Regardless, he would have time to learn more when he got to his next destination.
There was no way that Harry would go back to England, not after discovering so many well hidden truths. There was every bit as much chance of him being assaulted for being a Dark Lord as there was of him being welcomed as a hero. No, he intended to find the one person that had ever been a true and honest friend to him. Hermione Granger.
To be continued…