As Harry wandered through the halls of Hogwart, he wondered how everything could have gone wrong so quickly. He'd only been trying to save Sirius, but somehow, everything had gone wrong and Sirius had been killed at the fiasco at the Ministry, and now Harry was trying to avoid everyone. After blowing up at Dumbledore earlier, he didn't want to lose his temper at anyone else. Except for himself. He knew it was his fault that Sirius was dead. If only he had worked harder at occlumency and hadn't angered Snape. And now his godfather was dead. He sighed.
"That sounds serious. Something the matter?" Harry turned towards the voice, frowning. "I don't really want to ta-" He broke off when he caught sight of who had spoken to him. "You're a portrait."
The man shrugged his painted shoulders. "What's your point? Just because I'm some paint on a canvas doesn't mean that I can't help you."
Harry shrugged. "I guess you're right." He looked closely at him. He had a pale, almost triangular face with arching brows and deep, ageless eyes that seemed to penetrate Harry even more that Dumbledore's could. Like most of the paintings at Hogwarts, he looked like someone out of an old movie. The man raised an eyebrow, leaning back in his chair. "So, what seems to be the problem?"
Harry laughed tiredly. "Everything." He sat down on the floor, leaning his head against the wall. "My godfather just died, and it was all my fault."
"Really?" The man asked. "Did you kill him, then?"
"I- I might as well have," Harry gasped. "It was all my fault." He pulled his knees up to his chest, resting his chin on them.
"How was it your fault?"
"He was trying to help me."
"So he was killed trying to protect you?"
"Yeah. If I hadn't needed protecting, if I had been more careful, he would still be alive."
The man watched him compassionately. "That does not make it your fault."
"But it was! Everyone who gets close to me ends up dying!"
"But that's not your fault. Who else are you referring to?"
"They are gone as well?"
Harry laughed dryly. "They're dead too. They've been dead for years. And I don't know how, but I'm sure it was somehow my fault."
"How did they die?"
"They were killed by Voldemort."
Harry nodded. "He killed Cedric too," he whispered.
"Was he somehow connected to the death of your godfather as well?"
"Yeah, Sirius- Sirius was killed by one of Voldemort's followers, Bellatrix," Harry almost spat out the name.
"So it sounds as if this Voldemort is the one responsible, not you. What kind of a name is Voldemort, anyway?"
Harry chuckled, wiping at his eyes. "That's not his real name, it's just the name he picked for himself."
"What! Then why are you honoring him by calling him the name he chose? Call him by the name he was given at birth. He deserves nothing more than that."
Harry frowned thoughtfully. "I guess you're right about that. And I know he doesn't like the name Tom Riddle." He smiled slightly. "I'd like to see his reaction if I called him that to his face."
"Harry?" He heard someone call from around the corner. "Harry, where are you? Are you alright?"
"I'm fine, Hermione, I'm coming," Harry called back. He turned back to the portrait. "Thanks for, you know, talking to me." He shuffled his feet awkwardly. "It- it really helped me out."
"You are welcome, Harry. And anytime you need someone to talk to, just come and visit me. Or anytime you are bored, really. Very few people can find my portrait, and it can get lonely."
Harry stood, combing his hand through his hair to straighten it. He smiled at the other. "I'll do that." As he turned to leave, the man picked up his book from where he had set it next to him. "Oh, I almost forgot," Harry turned back to him. "What's your name?"
The man looked up with a smile. "I am Terence."
Terence watched Harry walk away until he turned the corner and was lost to sight. Harry might not know it, but he would be the catalyst for a lot of change in the wizarding world, change that was necessary to prepare the way for something bigger. Deep in the magic of Britain, something was stirring. Albion was preparing for the return of Camelot.