"Minister, our latest intelligence tells us that Voldemort is going after Azkaban. The reduction in dementors gives us an advantage, but not much. We aren't sure what he hopes to accomplish in this attack, most of his supporters still there are insane. However, it is the Order's recommendation that we transfer Prisoner number 8561 elsewhere. Even if the prisoner is insane Voldemort could, conceivably, use the connection between them to strengthen his own powers." Twenty-five year old Ronald Weasley, official liaison between the Order of the Phoenix and the Ministry of Magic, looked carefully at Minister of Magic Amos Diggory.
The Minister thought for a moment and then signed the parchment Ron had brought, approving the transfer of Prisoner 8561, better known as Harry Potter, from Azkaban to the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix at Hogwarts.
Ron picked up the parchment and left the Ministry central building and apparated directly to the coast. From there, he used his Ministry ID to gain immediate passage to the fortress of Azkaban. As he rode the gentle waves of the Styx Sound, his memory drifted back ten years to the day when his best friend betrayed him.
"Come on Ron! I'm just tired of being stuck inside the castle. We can sneak down to the Three Broomsticks and have a butterbeer." Harry begged one January evening of their fifth year.
Ron thought for a moment.
"Ron, I'm going stir crazy!" So was Ron when he thought about it. Because of the threat of Lord Voldemort all Hogsmeade visits had been canceled as well as all activities outside on the grounds. That meant no Quidditch for two years running. The articles in the Daily Prophet did nothing to help matters.
"Ok, Harry, let's go," Ron finally decided.
As the two approached the statue of the One-eyed witch Ron fleetingly wondered why Harry hadn't asked Hermione. Then he dismissed that thought realizing that Hermione, a Prefect now, would not allow them to go.
They emerged from Honeydukes and headed towards the Three Broomsticks. Ron's teeth were chattering and he was looking forward to the nice warm butterbeer.
As they passed an alleyway, Harry had suddenly lurched sideways and pushed Ron into the darkness. Scrambling up Ron looked at Harry, "You ok? Why did you fall?" Ron's eyes widened, "It wasn't your scar, was it?"
"No it wasn't." Harry said and glanced around at the alleyway.
Ron, confused, looked around also.
As soon as Ron was no longer looking at him, Harry pushed Ron backwards into the side of a building. Ron fell through the wall of the building and landed in a dusty basement. A moment later Harry came through the wall.
"Harry? What is going on here?" Ron was starting to get angry. He stood up and pulled his wand out.
"Expelliarmus!" Harry disarmed Ron.
"Well done, Potter." A voice from the shadows spoke, "You have proven your loyalty to our master!" Ron shivered as he recognized the voice of Lucius Malfoy.
With an unintelligible yell, Ron started towards the wall through which he had entered.
"Crucio!" Harry said and Ron collapsed in screams.
Suddenly other people entered through the wall.
It was Remus Lupin and Snuffles, followed by Hagrid and Arabella Figg.
Harry immediately released Ron from the Cruciatus Curse and turned to the others.
Lucius Malfoy and two other men who had not made their presence known before started firing curses at the newest arrivals. After a moment, Harry joined them. He shot a curse at Sirius and then made a dash for the wall.
Hagrid, shocked and angry, moved to intercept the boy.
"Avada Kedavra!" Harry shouted and ended the life of the gentle giant. Then he disappeared through the wall.
Arabella Figg followed with a grim, determined, look on her face.
Ron, tears streaming down his face by this time fired off a Stunner at Lucius Malfoy and the fell unconscious himself.
When he regained consciousness, he found himself in the Infirmary. He heard voices and turned toward their source. He saw the Headmaster and Remus Lupin talking quietly beside the bed of Sirius Black.
"Headmaster?" Ron called softly.
Albus Dumbledore turned and walked quickly over to him.
"Mr. Weasley, how are you feeling?"
"I'm fine. What happened? Who was impersonating Harry? Why were they after me?"
Albus Dumbledore closed his eyes, "Ron, it wasn't anybody impersonating Harry. That was Harry."
"What! It can't be! Harry would never, he…" Ron trailed off at the defeated look on Dumbledore's face.
"Remus saw the two of you leave. He happened to be looking at the Marauder's Map. You know that Map doesn't lie. Arabella went after Harry. She didn't catch him, but he dropped his wand on the way. If the owner of a wand is missing, you can locate them by using their own wand if they have touched it in the past twenty-four hours. We found Harry near the edge of the Forbidden Forest. He has been charged with using the Cruciatus Curse, collusion with known criminal offenders and murdering Rubeus Hagrid."
Ron lay there stunned in his bed. He couldn't believe it. He turned away from the headmaster, pulling the blanket over his head, wishing he had never regained consciousness.
The boat, known as The Charon to most, bumped the pier gently, startling Ron out of his dismal memory. Shaking himself, he instructed the boatman to wait for him and the prisoner. Walking past the two security checkpoints, he then entered Azkaban proper. A wave of cold settled over him, reminding him of the presence of the dementors. Although the Minister had removed the majority of the creatures a number of year earlier, for fear of them joining Voldemort, there were still fifty who were bound to the Fortress.
From all reports, the reduction in number of dementors had not reduced the number of inmates who went insane. Ron set his mouth in a grim line as he approached the cell of his one-time best friend. The dementors, though in another part of the structure at the moment, still affected Ron as they evoked the memory of the trial.
Ron himself had testified, as had Remus Lupin and Arabella Figg. They had used Priori Incantatem to prove that it was, indeed, Harry's wand that killed Rubeus Hagrid.
In the end, there had been no doubt that the Boy-Who-Lived had turned from the light and joined Voldemort.
Yet, Harry still sat there, pleading, proclaiming innocence. The judge hit him with a silencing spell. Because Harry was a minor, they could not sentence him to the Dementor's Kiss. Instead, he got two life sentences in Azkaban.
As two dementors escorted a fainting Harry from the courtroom Ron shed one last tear and then resolved to do everything he could to destroy the darkness that had claimed his friend.
Standing in front of the cell, he looked at Harry Potter for the first time in ten years.
The man was painfully thin. His ribs were outlined with the thin prison issue garments. His hair was limp, no longer the wild mess it had been. His famous scar was not visible under the tangled mass of bangs that lay on his forehead. A pair of glasses, missing one earpiece, was clutched in a bony white hand. His eyes were closed and he was sleeping. Every so often, a shudder would run through his body.
Ron muttered the password to unlock the cell and stepped inside. The occupant jumped awake at the screech of metal.
"Prisoner 8561 you are to be transferred to the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. Any resistance on your part will be met with harsh consequences. Stand up and face the wall."
Harry Potter, after putting on his glasses, did as instructed, face showing no emotion for or recognition of the man standing in his cell.
Ron conjured manacles for his hands and then, taking him by an elbow, escorted the man to another part of the fortress. He left him in a room and locked the door.
"I am transferring Prisoner 8561 to Hogwarts by order of the Minister of Magic. I request all prison records concerning this man." Ron said, producing the Minister's instructions for the man who sat in the Processing room.
"All of this seems to be in order, Mr. Weasley. Please wait one moment while I retrieve the records.
Ron sat and waited, contemplating what kind of person would take a job at Azkaban. He knew that the workers were on two-week rotations. They would work for two weeks and then get six weeks off the island. It must have been the most miserable job on the planet.
When the man returned Ron thanked him, took the file on Harry, and exited. He shrunk the file, put it in a pocket, and returned to Harry.
He took him past the two security checkpoints, where he had to show the Minister's instructions each time, and returned to the boat.
Following Ministry procedure, he then chained Harry to the seat in the boat (prisoners had been known to attempt to drown themselves during transport). When they reached the mainland Ron took Harry to the Land-Side Processing Station for the final checkout and stamp for a Prison Transfer.
When all the paper work had been completed, he took out the portkey Dumbledore had given him, took hold of Harry, and activated it.
They arrived at the front entrance of Hogwarts. Unable, to compensate with his hands, Harry had fallen to the ground. Ron, wand on Harry, levitated him back into a standing position.
"Thank you, Mr. Weasley." Sirius Black's voice came through the now open door. "If you will bring the prisoner with you, I will lead you to his cell."
Ron and Harry followed Sirius Black through the halls and down stairs to one of the lower dungeons where there was a secure cell.
After closing the door, they removed the manacles from Harry's hands and left him alone, with one person to guard the hallway.
Ron and Sirius then walked to the Headmaster's office to report.
"Albus, the Prisoner transfer was successful." Ron said.
"And how was the prisoner's behavior?" Albus asked. Ron knew that he was really asking if he was insane.
Retrieving the folder from his pocket and enlarging it Ron handed it to him, "Here is the prison record on him.
"Thank you Ron. You may go now." Ron left.
Albus and Sirius then proceeded to review the prison record.
Prisoner ID: 8561
Prisoner Name: Harry James Potter
Sentence: Two Life terms
Current Age: 16
Date of record entry: 17 November 1996
Physical Condition: The prisoner is underweight.
Mental Condition: Unknown. The prisoner has not made a sound since entering the prison. He seems to be rational, but at times he spasms and holds his head.
Other Comments: None.
The record of each year following said pretty much the same thing. Albus and Sirius could come to no conclusion about his sanity.
Albus sighed heavily. He rubbed his face as he tried to figure out what the Dark Lord's next move would be. His spies only knew that it was something big. Whether it was an attack on Hogwarts, the Ministry, or something else they didn't know. All were equally likely.
There was a knock on his door. "Come in," he called, grateful for the distraction. The door opened to reveal a young woman who looked slightly troubled.
"Yes, Auror Moon?"
"Well, sir, you wished to be notified of any changes in the prisoner's behavior. He's…well, he's talking, and insisting on speaking to you."
Albus' eyebrows drew together in confusion. Harry Potter had not spoken a word since he had been brought to Hogwarts. To Albus' knowledge, he had barely spoken at all for the past decade. Slowly he stood up, his muscles and bones protesting so much Albus was sure the young woman could hear them.
"I shall see what the prisoner wants."
As he walked down to the cell where Harry Potter was being kept, his mind was still pondering the latest intelligence and trying to make sense of it. Approaching the prisoner he heard a scratchy voice say, "I will stop him this time!"
"Mr. Potter, you wished to say something."
Harry jumped, startled, as the door opened and Albus entered. The door closed behind him and the Auror remained watching everything.
Without preamble Harry said, "Diagon Alley. His next target. A week from tomorrow in broad daylight with approximately 300 supporters."
Albus Dumbledore regarded Harry carefully.
"And how do you know this? Not even my best spies know what his target will be."
"They don't attend every single meeting between Voldemort and one or more of his Death Eaters. The only ones who know the full plans are Wormtail, Lucius Malfoy and Marcus Flint."
"And how do you know?"
Harry gave a dry, humorless laugh, "Azkaban couldn't dim the connection; if anything, the dementors intensified the effects. If you hadn't thrown me there I would have been your greatest information source. In the past ten years I have heard every detail of every attack being planned out weeks or even months before they happened."
"Are you telling me this, hoping for mercy Mr. Potter? We must reap what we sow." Albus' voice contained no anger as he had long since decided it was futile to become angry at Harry's choices.
Harry gazed at him, "I am hoping for mercy, but not in the way you are thinking. Any life that can be saved by giving you this information means one fewer death that I feel, one less Cruciatus curse that I must endure. That is all the mercy I am expecting. For the past ten years I have been reaping in abundance that which I did not sow." With that, Harry lay down on the bed and turned away from Albus.
Albus left the cell, contemplating what he had been told.
He called an Order meeting immediately after returning from Harry's cell. As the members all filed in he sighed, wondering how best to tell them his information came from their infamous prisoner.
"Thank you for responding so quickly to my summons. I have new information regarding Voldemort's next target. He plans to attack Diagon Alley next Thursday around noon. My source says he will have about 300 supporters. Now that we have this information, we must work quickly to avert a disaster."
There were murmurings from the assembled crowd. Someone spoke up, "How did you come by this information, Albus? None of our covert ops have turned up this much detail. Is the source reliable?"
Albus sighed, "I don't know how reliable the source is. Because of certain circumstances, my source has only recently been able to pass information on to me. I have no doubt my source knows exactly what is going on; how much of what is conveyed to me is the truth? I only have my instincts. Other things my source said lead me to believe this information is the truth."
After a few minutes, the group as a whole decided to act on this intelligence and prevent a disaster.
As the Order of the Phoenix dispersed the leading members, Arthur Weasley, Sirius Black, Mafalda Hopkirk, Ryan Zambini, and Minerva McGonagall, Severus Snape, and Ron Weasley lingered waiting to speak with Dumbledore.
They entered a smaller meeting room and they all sat down.
Severus started without preamble, "Who is this new spy who has information on the most inner workings of Voldemort?"
Albus Dumbledore sighed, "You're not going to like this. There was a reason I didn't just announce it to the whole assembly, and it wasn't to protect the spy."
Everyone tensed, this didn't sound good. "Well?" asked Minerva, after a few moments of silence.
"I want you to think about this objectively, do not let your judgment be clouded. I believe my source is telling the truth and if this latest information is the truth I think we can rely more heavily on this informant."
"Who?" asked Mafalda impatiently.
"Our prisoner downstairs told me Voldemort's latest plans."
There was absolute silence.
Sirius' face darkened. He spoke in a low voice, "And you have decided to trust the word of this traitor? How do we know this is not a trap that he is sending us into."
Albus sighed; he had known that this would be Sirius's reaction.
"I have thought of that possibility. I do not believe those are his intentions. He is telling us the truth in an effort to help us."
"No Death Eater has ever willingly given information without asking anything in return," cut in Ryan Zambini, "Whether it is lenience in sentencing or only after a dose of Veritaserum, they never give information completely willingly."
"Ryan, I am well aware of this," Dumbledore put in mildly, "I took this into account and addressed this fact. Mr. Potter is, in fact, getting something in return if we are successful."
Minerva gave the headmaster a confused look and asked what he meant by that.
"If we are successful then Mr. Potter will not be made to witness the innocents dying, feel their torture, or watch the destruction."
Understanding dawned on Arthur Weasley's face first. "His scar still connects him to Lord Voldemort? He has lived in Azkaban for the past ten years, watching every attack?"
"Not only watching every attack, but seeing the plans being drawn up months in advance, and not being able to do anything with that knowledge."
Severus Snape cursed himself in his head. He didn't dare do it aloud. That monitoring spell the Dark Lord had put on him allowed Voldemort to see and hear everything he could see and hear. The battle was at the castle gates now and Dumbledore was commanding all who were able to strengthen the wards. Voldemort had not yet joined the fight. Instead, he sent Severus into the castle, with a monitoring spell on him, to get Potter. If Severus betrayed him, he would kill him instantly through the monitoring spell.
Severus had pondered what to do. Should he betray his position in order to keep Potter out of Voldemort's clutches? No, Voldemort would get Potter anyway and then Severus' death would have been unnecessary. Severus knew that he still had work to do in the fight ahead. So he clung to the almost dead hope that Potter would refuse the offer. Then he scoffed at himself. Of course Potter wouldn't refuse the offer.
Arriving at the cell, he opened it and called out, "Prisoner, you are offered a choice. Stay here and rot, waiting for the castle to crumble, or come with me and rejoin the Dark Lord. Will you rejoin Voldemort?"
Potter looked at Severus and Severus felt a chill run through his body at the face on the man. It was the face a walking dead man.
Slowly the head nodded and Potter stood up, ready to follow. Severus was now yelling out every curse he knew in his head.
"Very well, Potter, follow me."
Snape didn't even bother to put any type of restraint on him. Where would he go alone? What would he do? His intent was to rejoin his master, so what would he gain by not following Severus?
Silently, Potter walked after his old Potions Professor.
As they approached the gates, Severus' heart plummeted as he saw the tide of the battle turning against Dumbledore's allies. Voldemort had erected a dome security spell, which enclosed himself, Dumbledore and two Death Eaters who were holding onto the old man. Albus was struggling to retrieve something but the barrier prevented it. Snape realized with a start that he was trying to reach his wand.
Voldemort knew they were approaching and he created an opening for Severus and Harry to enter into.
"Severus, a job well done. I am pleasantly surprised. Now leave the circle."
Snape, seeing no other alternative, left. He watched in morbid fascination as the circle closed, sealing him off from his mentor.
He couldn't hear what was going on, but he, and everybody else on the field, was watching intently. Death Eater and Order members stood side by side, all fighting forgotten, waiting to see what would happen.
Voldemort seemed to be saying something to Dumbledore. Albus' eyes widened as he replied. Voldemort laughed and said something else. Albus glanced at Harry and the closed his eyes, hanging his head in defeat. Voldemort laughed some more and turned to ask Harry a question. Harry slowly nodded his head. Then he opened his mouth and said something. Severus could see Albus shudder and wondered what was happening. Voldemort pulled out his wand and waved it.
"Here you are Potter!" everyone could now hear what was going on, though the security dome remained intact. Voldemort handed his wand to Potter.
"Now, kill the man who betrayed you!" Voldemort said. Severus could hear the anticipation in his voice. Snape's breath caught in his throat as he saw Potter take the wand and turn to the venerable old wizard.
"Let him go and step out of the circle," Harry's voice was rough and scratchy from disuse. The two Death Eaters looked to Voldemort and he nodded. A slight part in one of the sides of the dome and the two men were out.
"Say your last words, Albus Dumbledore!" Voldemort said, almost gleefully. Dumbledore lifted his head defiantly, but said nothing.
Harry pointed the wand at Dumbledore and shouted "Avada Kedavra!"
Albus Dumbledore stood between two Death Eaters, struggling to retrieve his wand. Voldemort laughed at his attempts. After a few minutes, the Dark Lord turned to see two figures approaching. When they were closer, Albus could see that they were Severus and Harry.
"Ah, here they come. I think it a delicious irony, don't you Albus? That you will be killed by your Golden Boy. The one you thought would defeat me!"
Severus and Harry entered into the circle. Voldemort commanded Severus to leave.
"Now Albus, before you die. Let me tell you something. Harry Potter did not murder Rubeus Hagrid, nor did he ever use an Unforgivable. He is innocent as he claimed."
Albus stared wide-eyed at Voldemort, "But the map…" he mumbled, confused.
Voldemort laughed, "And who helped make the map, but my faithful servant Wormtail? It worked perfectly! A spell on his own creation and a bit of Polyjuice Potion and you all fell for it!"
Albus looked at Harry, at the man he had become after spending ten years in Azkaban. Remorse that he had never known welled up inside him as he realized what he had done.
He had condemned an innocent fifteen year old to the hell known as Azkaban. As he recalled the words Harry had said "For ten years I have reaped in abundance that which I did not sow," he realized that what Harry felt in Azkaban was ten times worse than what Sirius Black had endured. The boy's connection with Voldemort had provided new horrors, probably nightly. In the face of what he had done, Albus hung his head in defeat.
Voldemort laughed again.
"Harry Potter, would you do me the honor of killing the great Albus Dumbledore!"
Albus heard no direct reply, but the a scratchy voice said, "I wish all to hear what is happening and I will need a wand."
Albus shuddered at the coldness in the tone and the thought of his impending death.
Voldemort voiced a spell that Albus knew would allow those outside of the security spell to hear what was going on.
"Here you are Potter!" Albus, eyes still down, assumed that Voldemort had handed Harry his wand.
"Now, kill the man who betrayed you!" Voldemort shouted.
There was a pause and then Albus heard Harry's voice again, "Let him go and step out of the circle." After a moment the two Death Eater's holding onto him let go. A small humming sound accompanied their departure through the security spell.
"Say your last words, Albus Dumbledore!" Voldemort cackled.
Dumbledore lifted his head and looked at Harry. He refused to die looking at his feet.
Harry lifted the wand and shouted "Avada Kedavra!"
Complete pandemonium broke out. Severus stared in shock at Potter. He had missed! Snape knew it couldn't have been an accident. Potter had purposely aimed the killing curse so that it would not hit Dumbledore, but instead hit the dome itself.
Any spell done to the dome from the inside automatically rebounded onto the one who the dome was tied to, in this case, Voldemort. The Dark Lord screeched in rage as he realized what Potter had done. He attempted to dodge the green light that was reflected back towards him, but it was futile. The Killing Curse struck Voldemort full in the chest. It didn't kill him, but it weakened him considerably. The dome flickered as well.
Potter reached in his pocket, pulled out a wand, and threw it to the astonished Headmaster of Hogwarts. Snape realized with a start that it was his wand. How had Potter gotten hold of it?
"Together!" Potter said.
Without hesitation, Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore pointed their borrowed wands at the Dark Lord and shouted in unison, "Avada Kedavra!"
This time Voldemort did not survive.
Even before the dome had completely vanished in the wake of its anchor's death, the Order members had reacted and stunned every Death Eater they could see. A few fought, a few ran, but all of them were stunned shortly.
Snape watched as Dumbledore picked up his own wand and started a complex incantation over the body of the Dark Lord. When he had finished, Harry Potter stepped forward and muttered a charm. He then dropped the wand of the Dark Lord onto the body. They were both immediately engulfed in flame.
While Order members gathered the stunned Death Eaters, Severus approached Dumbledore. The headmaster handed his wand back.
"Albus? What happened?"
"Harry is innocent. He was framed, Severus. We sent an innocent child to Azkaban." The headmaster said in a deeply pained and remorseful voice.
Severus' eyebrows snapped upwards. He quickly looked around and saw Potter walking slowly across the grounds.
"Severus, please follow him. Do not disturb him, but do not let him out of your sight. Let no one harm him."
Severus nodded and set off after him. Dumbledore summoned all of the ranking Order members and whatever Ministry workers had arrived.
They quickly congregated in the hallway.
"Headmaster, what happened?" demanded Oliver Wood, an Auror with the Ministry.
"Why did Potter do that?"
"Why did you let him walk off?"
Questions came from all sides. Dumbledore raised his hand for quiet.
"What you did not hear while I was in the circle, was Voldemort's admission that he framed Harry Potter for those crimes. Harry Potter is an innocent man."
There was a general silence.
Ron Weasley's mouth hung open in utter amazement.
"But, Albus, the Map…" Remus spluttered.
Albus closed his eyes as though in pain, "Remus, who made the map? Who knows every spell that went into it? You, Sirius, and Peter. Who could have altered it? You, Sirius, and Peter. Who impersonated him and altered the map? Peter."
Sirius Black gasped in horror and stumbled. Someone caught him, but he couldn't tell who it was. He moaned in agony as he remembered his own stay in Azkaban and realized that his Godson had no animagus transformation to shield himself with.
Remus stared in shock and slowly, silently, sank down to the floor. He sat there, unable to speak.
Sirius sat staring into the fire. However, he didn't notice the warmth the cheerfully flickering flames gave off, nor did he realize that the rest of the room was dark and that he was too far away from the fire to feel its heat.
A door opened somewhere behind him. The rest of the room lit up.
"Sirius?" a woman's voice called.
He made no answer; indeed, there was no indication he heard her.
She walked across the room to stand in front of him, "Sirius? Are you okay?" she asked, seeing his vacant stare.
There was no response.
Arabella Figg-Black bit her lip; the last time she had seen Sirius this bad was when his Godson was put in Azkaban. She couldn't imagine what had happened now. She tentatively reached out and touched his hand. It was cold as ice. She sucked in her breath sharply. Standing back, she used her wand to move the couch he was sitting on closer to the fire. Then she found a blanket and placed it over him.
She moved into the kitchesn area, took out a few ingredients, and returned a few minutes later to Sirius, with a cup in hand. She placed it directly under his nose.
As he inhaled the scent, his hand automatically grasped the handle and he started to drink. However, Sirius still seemed to be oblivious to her presence. A trill of fear ran through her. What had happened to make him react like this? She had not gotten any details of the battle. She had finally been released from the infirmary and had immediately returned to the chambers she and her husband shared.
Now she wondered what had happened in the battle. She gently took the cup from his hand and set it on the table. Then she slapped him across the face.
He blinked and focused on her.
"Sirius, what happened," her voice was distressed.
Sirius closed his eyes and started shaking. Then he started crying. Then it grew to a bawl and then to a howl.
Arabella gaped at her husband. In the more than thirty-five years they had known each other, she had never ever seen Sirius Black cry. He had not cried when his parents had been killed in his sixth year; he had not cried when James and Lily had died; he had not cried when the ministry had declared him innocent; he had not cried when Harry betrayed them all.
There was a small knock on the door and then it opened without an invitation. Arabella glanced around and then jumped up with a gasp, clutching her wand in her hand.
Sirius somehow heard the hatred in her voice through his wails and turned to see who had entered. Immediately he was silent.
Harry ignored Arabella and looked steadily at Sirius. "You wanted to see me, Mr. Black?"
"Harry, Harry, Harry," Sirius started babbling, scaring his wife even more.
Resolutely she took a step closer to Harry Potter and said, "I don't know how you got out of your cell, but would you please leave. Haven't you caused enough pain for this man?"
Harry turned and regarded her with ice-cold eyes. She shivered. Suddenly he pulled out a wand and with only the slightest flick of his wrist, and no words, he disarmed Arabella. Catching her wand, he pocketed it immediately. Arabella paled, thinking of the night she had seen this boy murder Rubeus Hagrid. He moved closer to her, she stiffened. When he was mere inches from her he moved his wand, Arabella closed her eyes. Then…he was past her. She looked at him and saw that he had only been putting his wand back in his pocket.
How did he get a wand anyway?
She watched as he stood menacingly in front of her husband. He crossed his arms. "Well? What did you want to say?"
Tears started running down Sirius' cheeks again, "Please Harry, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I failed you. I betrayed you. Oh Merlin, I have never been more sorry for anything in my life. When I think how much I hurt you, oh Harry, I don't even know what to say to you. I misjudged you and I can never forgive myself for that. I know you probably won't ever forgive me either. But I needed to say I was sorry Harry. More sorry about this than anything I have ever been sorry about."
"More sorry than switching secret keepers?" Harry said without emotion.
"Yes," Sirius answered without hesitation, "I failed you, I betrayed you, I misjudged you, and I made the biggest mistake of my life."
"Misjudged me. Yes, you misjudged me, you all did," emotion crept into Harry's face for the first time, and it was pure pain, "Do you have any idea how many lives were lost as a result of that misjudgment?"
Sirius looked at him uncomprehendingly.
"I saw and heard every detail of every attack weeks before they happened, and I could do nothing. I saw those plans unfold. I saw those people die. Do you know how much it hurt to have that prior knowledge and not be able to do anything? Do you know how close I was to going insane and killing myself? Do you have any idea how much torment I went through? I felt every Cruciatus Curse Voldemort cast this past decade. Then there were the dementors. They brought every pain, every death, and every scream to the forefront of reality. I relived every single Killing Curse and Cruciatus Curse a thousand times.
"You may have been in Azkaban for twelve years Sirius, but you can't imagine what I went through. I kept my sanity because I wanted revenge for all the pain. That is what kept me alive."
With that, Harry Potter left the room. Arabella, still not sure what had just happened. She looked at her husband, who was rocking back and forth on the couch, clasping and unclasping his hands and whimpering.
Arabella made a cup of tea, put a calming potion in it, and gave it to her husband.
He drank and slowly unfolded from his curled up position.
"Sirius," Arabella said gently but firmly, "can you tell me what happened?"
"Ari, Ari, I am a failure."
"Sirius, please talk to me so I can understand!" she begged him.
"He's innocent Ari. He was framed, just as I was. By the same person. We threw an innocent child into Azkaban. I was an adult, I was almost twenty-two, but he was only fifteen. He was the most innocent of innocents Ari, and we all betrayed him! Harry never harmed anybody in his life. He didn't have a malicious or mean bone in his body. And what did we do? We damned him to hell.
"Ari, I don't know if I can live with myself. I just want to die. I have failed. I failed Harry and James and Lily, utterly and completely."
Arabella was staring in horror. Harry Potter had been innocent all along? How was it possible?
"I knew him, Ari. Even if I didn't believe his statements, I should have at least pressed for Veritaserum in the trial. I owed him that much! I can never repay him Ari. None of us can. I would let him murder me if I thought it would undo what I did to him." Sirius was crying again.
"What do you mean, none of us can repay him?" Arabella asked shakily.
Sirius took another few gulps of the potion-laced tea. It seemed to be working because the hysterical note had gone out of his voice as he explained what had happened in the battle.
"In the battle, he…he…. Voldemort had Snape go and offer Harry freedom if he would join Voldemort. Harry accepted and came out. Things were looking grim by that time. Voldemort had Albus, wandless, in a security dome. He could have killed him. But Voldemort loved the irony of it being Harry who would defeat the Light. Nobody else heard, but in the circle, Voldemort told Albus that Harry was innocent. Then Voldemort gave Harry his wand and offered for him to kill Albus. It was hopeless; none of us could do anything to help Albus. He, himself, gave up. He knew what he had done to Harry and he gave up. Have you ever known Albus Dumbledore to give up?
"Harry pointed Voldemort's wand at Albus and used the killing curse, but he purposely aimed wrong. It hit the dome and reflected back onto Voldemort. Then he handed Albus a wand and they both shot the killing curse again. Voldemort died. Albus did a spell to make sure his spirit did not escape as it had before and then Harry burned both the wand and the body.
"Voldemort is gone Ari, and we owe it solely to the one we betrayed." Sirius put his head down and moaned in agony.
The Minister of Magic came to Hogwarts as soon as was possible.
"Albus," Diggory said catching his breath, "the things I've heard! Tell me what has happened."
Albus sighed and indicated for Amos to take a chair, "Voldemort is defeated, once and for all. We owe it completely to Harry Potter."
"Potter?" exclaimed the Minister, in disbelief, "That traitor?"
The Headmaster shook his head, "He is not the traitor. We betrayed him. Voldemort framed Harry for those crimes. He admitted it openly and we have a full confession from the actual perpetrator. Harry Potter is innocent."
Amos Diggory was stunned. This turn of events was unprecedented in his mind. He gathered his thoughts together and decided to sort through his emotions later; there was business to be done now.
"In light of that, we will need an official pardon, and compensation for him. We must meet with him in order to meet his demands." Amos said.
Albus nodded, "The sooner the better."
The next afternoon four people sat in the Headmaster's office to determine the future of Harry Potter.
Amos, Albus and Sirius all apologized profusely to Harry, but as soon as they saw those apologies were not being received they desisted.
"Mr. Potter, you are granted a full pardon from the Ministry of Magic and an official apology," Amos stated formally, "your money has been deposited into your Gringots account, as well as remuneration for your false imprisonment. All holds on your personal items have been released and they should be returned to you by tonight. You have your wand and we grant you full Wizard privileges. Is there anything else you want?"
Harry sat uncomfortably in the chair, his Godfather to this left and Albus Dumbledore to the right. He said nothing.
There was a sigh and Albus spoke up, "Harry, you can't imagine how sorry we are. What do you want us to do?"
Harry turned to stare at the old man. Then he stood up, retracted a piece of paper from a pocket, and handed it to the Minister of Magic.
"I want all of my money exchanged for Muggle money, no percentage taken out for the cost of exchange, and put into a bank account under my name at the Bank of Britain. Then I want a Wizard's oath that neither you," he addressed Albus, "nor your school will ever enter into my life again, that neither you," he turned to Amos, "nor the Ministry of Magic will ever enter my life again, and that you," he turned to Sirius, "will never come near me again."
Silence reigned in the office as the implications of that sunk in.
Harry was leaving the world that had betrayed him.
Three days later, a letter arrived at the Daily Prophet.
To Whom it May Concern,
I am Harry Potter, the wizard you betrayed.
You don't think it was betrayal? It was. You hung every hope on me, called me your hero, put me up on a pedestal, and then, on nothing more than flimsy circumstantial evidence, condemned me to Hell on earth.
That is what Azkaban is you know. You forced me, every day for ten years, to relive the deaths of my parents, to see Voldemort rise again, to see Cedric murdered again, to relive every pain I have ever felt.
How dare you say you love me and then throw me away like that!
I killed Voldemort, but I didn't do it for you, I did it for myself, revenge on the man that has ruined my life at every turn.
You played right into his hands, you know. You foolishly and unwittingly became his allies. It wasn't enough for you that I had fought against everything he stood for, ever since I entered your world. You just assumed, even knowing that people have been framed before, that I had joined the one man whom I wish had never been born.
I say this once and I don't intend to say it again. I never want to see or hear from anyone in the Wizarding world ever again. If so much as one person comes up to me or owls me and says anything about the Wizarding world, you will be sorry. You have been warned.
The day his letter appeared in the Daily Prophet Harry Potter Apparated away from Hogsmeade, severing all ties to the wizarding world. He went to his bank in London and closed his account, withdrawing more than fifteen million pounds. The next day Harry Potter disappeared.