Into The Night Where The Monsters Wear No Masks
Chapter One - Awakening Darkness
Prior To 1996 -1997 School Year
Bellatrix shot a second jet of red light, hitting Sirius squarely in the chest. The laughter does not leave his face, but his eyes widen in shock, and he seems to fall backwards into the veil in slow motion, his body arching gracefully, a look of mingled fear and surprise on his wasted once handsome face. The veil fluttered as if caught in a strong wind for a moment, and then fell back in place, still and silent as a graveyard. Blood rushed in Harry's ears, and everything became silent behind him, as if he had become detached from the entire world, the only noise being the frantic hummingbird fast beating of his heart against his rib cage. He does not know how long he stands, staring at the veil, begging every higher power he can remember to please let Sirius step out of the veil, to get back up and fight, but he is vaguely aware of Remus grabbing him so that he can not follow, and Dumbledore showing up far to late. The sound of Bellatrix's laughter filters in past the barrier, mocking and childish and cruel, and suddenly Harry is turning, breaking free of the werewolf's grasp, with a scream of anger that seems to shatter the numb silence so that he can hear all that is going on around him, and he is running after the woman who dared kill his godfather, killing intent clear on his face.
She mocks him in her baby-voiced teasing when he finally catches up to her, and hatred beyond anything he has ever known fills him. He throws himself out from behind the fountain of magical brethren, and casts the first spell in his mind. "Crucio!"
He has never cast that spell before, he doesn't expect it to hold. At most, he expects the spell to knock her off her feet, silence her laughter, get her attention, and let her know how serious he really is. Only, that is not what happens. The scarlet light of the curse hits her smug face dead center, and she falls to the ground, writhing in pain. A sort of gooey warmth spreads through him, and he suddenly understands why Death Eaters are so fond of this curse. He doesn't know how long he holds her under the curse, but he cancels it when she has stopped screaming, and blood starts trailing out of her ears, nose, mouth, and eyes. He falls to the floor on his knees with a manic giggle similar to her own had been, and she lays quite still in her unconscious state as he catches his breath again.
He walks over to her, and kicks her in the side hard enough that she turns over, and then he has to cast the reviving spell six times before her eyelashes flutter weakly, and her eyes shoot open with unadulterated fear written across them. She reaches for her wand, but Harry is faster, disarming her and casting a full body weakening curse on her before she can make any move. She begs then, quiet little pleas on her lips, and Harry feels another rush of arrant irascibility. He doesn't torture her then, no matter how he wishes to. Instead he drags her up by her chin, points his wand at her forehead, and calmly, sweetly, caresses her face in an almost mockingly loving manner.
"Offer me power." He demands softly, and she nods.
"Yes, all that you wish." She says, clever girl that she is underneath the madness. "And money too. I have much I can offer you."
He nods in approval at her. "How about, promise me anything I desire." he say then.
"Whatever you wish, it will be yours." She dutifully promises, nodding fast.
The smirk that spreads across his face in that moment is no sweet thing, but the same look to grace the face of a hyena on the hunt. "I want my godfather back, you bitch." He whispers in a voice that sounds almost amused, and she nods in agreement before the words catch up to her and her face fills with terror. "Avada Kedavra!" He says, and the green light hits instantly, her cold body slumping down to the floor, her cold dead eyes staring up at the ceiling as if pleading with the gods to spare her, or to go easy on her when she meets them.
As with the last spell, there is a rush of warmth throughout his entire body, more powerful than earlier, but this time he manages to keep himself standing as the effects rush through and fade. It is just as he has caught his breath again that he becomes aware of clapping behind him, and he whirls around with his wand pointed at his audience. It is Voldemort, standing there in his almost petrifying serpentine glory, without a wand in sight, or a single ounce of intent to maim or kill like Harry would expect.
"Well done." He says, and he isn't mocking at all.
Harry doesn't put his wand away, but he does lower it, his curiosity getting the better of him. "Are you here to kill me, Riddle?" He asks.
Voldemort's hairless eyebrow twitches in annoyance, but he smirks and shakes his head. "Not anymore, at least." He answers, and his face and voice convey no untruthfulness.
The boy-who-lived nods. "Well, that's nice of you." He kicks Bellatrix in her face as hard as he can, and her skull caves in with a satisfying squishy crunch. "Not going to apologize for her." He tells the Dark Lord. "She deserves to rot in the darkest corner of the underworld."
"I didn't expect you to apologize." Voldemort says. They two frown when the sound of rapidly approaching footsteps reach them. "Necromancy is mostly hogwash and parlour tricks. I've never given it much thought, but if you are interested in pursuing such a path, there is a promising rumor that if you consume the freely given heart of a dying Thestral, you will gain the true powers of a necromancer." He says this all nonchalant, as if he isn't offering information Harry would have killed for freely.
"The catch?" Harry asks, knowing they need to hurry before Dumbledore and the Order show up.
"Allow me to leave before they arrive with Bellatrix and your wand." Voldemort states, and Harry opens his mouth to protest, only to be interrupted by the reasoning behind the insane request. "You cast two unforgivables. One you might have gotten away with, if it was badly cast, but two well cast, one being the killing curse, and even you won't be able to escape Azkaban. You can get another wand, and come collect your wand from me during our next meeting, whenever that will be."
Harry rapidly thinks, and decides the knowledge needed to get Sirius back is worth the chance Voldemort will kill him with his own wand. He tosses the dark lord his wand.
"I'm interested in what you will become." Voldemort says, and Harry is not surprised when he is hit with a crucio, and left panting in agony as Voldemort disappears, only seconds before the Order and Dumbledore show up. He inwardly smirks as they rush up to him.
"She got away." He croaks up at Remus. "Took my wand."
With that he slumps into his godfather's werewolf mate's arms, the man who would be his second godfather if not for his monthly affliction, knowing he is safe, and knowing he can see if Voldemort's information is as reliable as it sounds.
Harry doesn't go back to the Dursley's house that summer, not after finding out about the prophecy and seeing them reveal to his hated relatives the passing of his beloved godfather. Instead, Harry gets himself a room at an inn called The Slaughtered Witch for the summer in Knocturne Alley, under a different name, and no one questions his late hours and the fact he never removes his black hooded cloak.
He spends the first few weeks doing research, reading up on necromancy, and emancipation law, and general magical history and traditions. By the end of July, he has managed to get himself emancipated, gotten his lordships earlier that he should have, started learning dark magic, and been to the reading of his godfather's will, which left everything to him, including Grimmauld Place. No one is still there with Sirius dead, because they need the owners permission to reside in the house, and Harry refuses to give it.
He threatens to fire Kreacher after the second attempt on his life, and then he hires a few other house elves to help him clean the place. Mute is, as his name implies, unable to speak, but he is good at house keeping, and better at making sure Kreacher cannot steal all the dark objects and books. The locket of Slytherin has the same feeling as the Diary of Tom Riddle, and Harry easily secures Kreacher's loyalty by promising to destroy it. With Kreacher's new loyalty, and the combined powers of Winky, Mute, Valsi, and Rave, the removal of Walburga's horrible portrait is easy. Harry burns it with feindfire in the backyard.
Along with the black fortune comes full control over the sister accounts, including the Malfoys and Bellatrix Black's own vaults. He nearly empties out one of hers buying nutritional potions, books, and new clothes, both magical and muggle just to spite her. It is in this vault he finds a cup like the locket, and the Black Necromancy Grimoire containing the information Voldemort gave to him the night of Sirius's death.
Harry reads and rereads the grimoire until he has memorized every word, every letter, and every stain of the human skin bound book. He makes his move the night following his birthday, using the secret passage from the Shrieking shack in Hogsmeade to get to the Forbidden forest, where the only herd of Thestrals he knows of resides. It is easy to find an old dying Thestral, and easier still to gain permission from the creature to steal it's heart. He waits until the Thestral draws in its last breath to plunge his hand into its chest, and he rips the still warm organ from its chest as it beats its very last beat.
The first bite is the worst, like eating stringy raw slightly spoiled steak, and every bite is a struggle. He nearly empties his stomach after he manages the last bite, but he forces it back down. The Thestrals surrounding him make a terrible noises around him, flapping their skeletal bat wings ferociously as Harry stands. That's when the pain hits.
It is like being hit by multiple cruicios at once, like being rolled around through broken glass, having barbed wire pulled trough every vein and artery, and having acid poured over him all at once. There is no escape from the agony, and his body bends and contorts itself in ways he would never be able to do himself, and his mouth opens in a silent scream. It could last for seconds, hours, or days, but it is dawn by the time he finds himself again, and the Thestrals are all still watching him.
He slowly stands up, shaking with the bone deep ache leftover, and finds his magic easily leaping to his fingertips so he can conjure a mirror. His suspicion that the ritual would change his looks is easily confirmed. His hair is straighter and neater, though certainly not neat by any means. It is more devil-may-care, just rolled out of bed after a nice shag, than the sloppy windswept birds nest it had been. It's darker too, less brunette black and more ebony, and longer, brushing his shoulders and falling in his face. He doesn't need his glasses anymore, and his eyes are no longer his mother's emerald, but killing curse green like he painted his irises with iridescent candy apple ink. He is taller, paler, his cheekbones are sharper, his lashes longer, his nose slimmer, and his body is healthier and nothing but lean muscle. The book did say he would be healed by the ritual, and he has been taking nutrition potions all summer, so that is no surprise, but the sharp black nails, vampiric teeth, and the few thin white streaks in his hair are unexpected.
One of the Thestrals nudges his arm, and he pets its head instinctively. He watches the skeletal bat-like horses eat their recently deceased herd mate with no fear, only a detached sort of curiosity. Harry waits until they are done before leaving back to his home.
The proof of the ritual working was obvious the second he entered the door.