Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all related things belong to JK Rowling. Disclaimer applies to all chapters. I am not making any profit out of this except the one to my ego if I get 'rave reviews' and the betterment of my written work if I get criticism. No money to pay lawsuits...yadda, yadda, yadda.
Warning: This is an angsty fic, hence the rating. Does not contain Slash, 'Dark! Harry' or 'Evil! Harry'.
This is pretty AU. Starts in GoF at the Third Task. Barty Crouch was never discovered as Mad-Eye and remained under that guise until recently when the Dark Lord's rise to power is almost complete. When Harry was about to portkey out of the cemetery after Voldemort's resurrection, Voldemort couldn't stop him but he managed to cast a very powerful Dark spell on the Triwizard cup. Harry arrived back at Hogwarts and was immediately surrounded by a huge crowd. Someone tried to take the cup out of his hands and that activated the Dark spell. It killed or injured almost a hundred people gathered around that area but left Harry unscathed in the center. Some students, teachers and many spectators died that day. Barty Crouch managed to prove Harry responsible for Cedric's death. The evidence gathered in the investigation all pointed to Harry as the caster of the Dark spell since his wand was brother to Voldemort's. The Death-eaters at the Ministry and biased Ministry workers gave Harry an unfair trial and sentenced him to fourteen years in Azkaban for the mass-murder at Hogwarts. Dumbledore tried to interfere and lighten his sentence but the solid evidence provided by the Death-eaters in disguise had even convinced him of Harry's guilt along with everyone else. In the end no one came to Harry's rescue.
Chapter 1: Prologue
Harry Potter, the-damned-boy-who-lived glanced morosely at the bowl of soaked, stale bread that passed for a meal in Azkaban. He was pretty sure his taste buds were all but dead after a year of eating nothing but soggy bread twice a day for so long. He leaned his head against the wall behind him and sucked in his breath as he felt two dementors passing two floors above him.
He began to think he'd sunk into another one of his nightmarish memories as he heard voices. But the coldness receded and the voices became stronger. He raised his head to see two Death-eaters in the customary robes and masks opening the door to his cell. For a moment he thought he had fallen asleep and was having another nightmare, until he was roughly pulled to his feet.
"Are you sure this is the right cell? This doesn't look like Potter" the Death-eater holding Harry's arms asked.
"Check for the scar" the other suggested.
The first one roughly pushed Harry's long, matted hair out of his face. Seeing the lightening bolt shaped scar on his forehead, he nodded to himself and dragged Harry out of the cell, not that Harry had any energy or even the inclination to fight him. He had known this day was coming through his nightly visions of Voldemort.
"What...that IS Potter? Whatever happened to his hair?" the other asked bewilderedly.
"Never mind that. Let's go before the Dark Lord is displeased at the delay."
Harry was pushed into a boat beside a group of other prisoners and immobilized by a body-binding charm before the two Death-eaters began to row towards the opposite shore. As they neared the shore, Harry could see a huge crowd gathered in a clearing among the trees. 'It won't be long now' he thought to himself though he wasn't sure if he felt melancholic or relieved about his impending doom.
The newly freed prisoners jumped out of the boat the moment it reached shore and hurried to Lord Voldemort's side, kissing the hem of his robes and thanking him for their freedom.
Harry was dragged out of the boat and thrown in the center of the crowd. As he raised his head from the ground, he noticed Voldemort flanked by Death-eaters standing in front of him and Dumbledore, Arthur Weasley, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, the minister and many others standing around helplessly surrounded by Death-eaters who were pointing their wands menacingly at them.
"Nott, you fool! I told you to bring me Potter. And you brought me some miserable old man. How dare you fail me at such a simple task. Crucio! " Voldemort intoned.
One of the Death-eaters fell writhing to the ground screaming in unbearable pain.
"My Lord, this is Potter. He's got the scar and all" he replied between heaving ragged breaths when the curse was let up.
"What? Have you gone mad? Potter is a boy not an..." Voldemort paused and strode to where Harry was half-lying on the ground. He grabbed Harry's chin roughly and turned his face upwards to look into the emerald eyes before flicking away his hair to see the famous scar. And yes, under the white hair the famous scar was still evident.
"Ah, yes indeed, he is Potter. Finally our hero is here. The Savior of the Light, the boy-who-lived" Voldemort drawled sarcastically.
He turned to look at all the people gathered there. He began strolling around the clearing surrounded by the crowd of people flanked by his Death-eaters at wand-point.
"Look at him. See what you have done to your savior. Abandoned him to Azkaban for something that he didn't do. Who's going to save you now?" he asked them mockingly.
Harry decided he wasn't going to take all this lying down, so he slowly got up to his feet. He seemed to struggle with just that simple task. Voldemort noticed the movement and turned back to him.
"Well, are you going to save them Harry? Are you going to save these ignorant fools who were so quick to get rid of you when they thought they didn't need you? These people who gave you so much grief that it turned all your hair white at such a young age. Do they even deserve to live?" Voldemort asked him with a manic glint in his eyes.
"If you think you can persuade me to join you, let me tell you you're wasting your time" Harry replied in a flat tone.
Voldemort looked momentarily surprised at Harry's lack of emotion. He considered Harry's white hair and thin, malnourished frame for a moment. He decided that whatever that long ago prophecy had said about Potter being his equal couldn't be in terms of his magical powers. Voldemort certainly didn't need a weak, almost dying boy's help to conquer the world. He had already accomplished a great deal on his own in such a short time.
"Well, since you've already made your decision, I don't see any point in your staying ali-"
"You can't kill a defenseless boy. How can you be such a coward?" a young man standing in the crowd cried out interrupting him. He was immediately subjected to the cruciatus by a Death-eater standing nearby.
"Coward? I would be a coward if I killed a defenseless boy? Well we must certainly not let everyone think that. Well then how about another duel? You proved yourself quite capable the last time, Harry Potter." Voldemort looked questioningly at the thin, young wizard.
"You're an idiot, Voldemort. Don't you ever learn anything? Your bloody desire for drama was your downfall the last time. Why don't you just kill me and get it over with?" Harry replied calmly.
There was an unheard gasp from all present at Harry's unconcerned reply. Voldemort's mouth was pressed in a line of anger and his eyes glittered dangerously.
"Crucio! " Voldemort curse hit Harry with the force of Voldemort's anger. Harry dropped to his knees as the waves of pain hit him. However no sound came out of his mouth. He had been subjected to that curse through his visions almost every night for his stay in Azkaban and though the pain never lessened, he had learnt to endure it without screaming.
It was an eternity before Voldemort released the curse. Harry was aware that it was one of the longest times he had been under the curse but he felt a small surge of triumph knowing that Voldemort was left angry and unsatisfied because of not hearing him scream.
"Well if you're finished with the drama, can we get this over with?" Harry asked in an unbelievably serene voice.
"You can't wait to die? Whatever happened to Gryffindor bravery? Aren't you Gryffindors supposed to struggle on with reckless courage till your dying breath. That is what causes your downfall and it is such a pleasure to watch" Voldemort smiled sinisterly as the Death-eaters laughed at Harry trying to get to his feet on wobbly knees and falling down again.
As the Death-eaters continued to laugh and Voldemort twirled his wand glancing around lazily, Harry calmly took a look all around him. His weak stance and wobbly knees seemed to have fooled them all.
"Yes, I suppose you were counting on my Gryffindor recklessness to provide you with some entertainment. Did I mention that the Sorting Hat had wanted to put me in Slytherin?" Harry asked from his place on the ground.
In a flash he was up and grabbing the wand of the Death-eater right behind him and pushing him back, he pointed it straight at Voldemort.
"Too bad for you that Gryffindor courage with Slytherin cunning is a lethal combination. Avada Kedavra! " Harry intoned amidst the Death-eaters' dying laughter. The deep-rooted hatred he felt for Voldemort giving his magic the ability to cast the death curse with deadly accuracy without any previous practice.
For a moment everything stood still. Everyone looking at the green light shooting out of the wand and striking Voldemort. Voldemort fell to the ground, his dead eyes reflecting the beginnings of shock. For a moment no one could believe that such a powerful dark lord was dead and the prophecy was fulfilled so quickly in such a simple manner. Then everyone began to move. People in the crowd knocking off the wands pointed by Death-eaters. Aurors taking out their wands and stunning them. Some people just wrestling the Death-eaters to the ground and knocking them unconscious. And some Death-eaters recovering enough to Disapparate out of the area. Harry lowered the wand he was holding but continued to stand there staring at Voldemort's corpse.
Once the Death-eaters had been stunned, the crowd became silent again as they looked at the thin boy with dirty white hair standing in the center. The filthy, ragged coat he was wearing was torn in places and reached to his ankles. All of them felt suffocated as the guilt crushed their hearts. He was staring unblinkingly at the corpse, still completely unemotional.
All of a sudden, Harry sucked in a sharp breath. Dropping the wand he was holding, he began to walk woodenly to a tree close to the shore and leaned against it. It was a few moments later that the others felt the coldness in their bones that signaled the coming of the dementors. They were floating across the murky water, rapidly approaching the shore. Everyone was still rooted to the spot as the dementors took hold of each of the prisoners freed earlier, guiding them back to the boat. One of the dementors approached Harry and pulled him away from the tree. Harry leaned against the dementor and let it lead him to the boat. It was as if a loving parent was leading away his sick child. Harry didn't even glance at the crowd around him, nor did he try to fight the dementor like some of the other prisoners were doing. He was taken to the boat and his wrists were put in the customary black chains attached to the boat.
As the others just stood watching the calm acceptance of the child with horror, one man broke into a run towards the boat. Sirius Black splashed unheedingly into the ice-cold waters to reach his godson's side. He stood there knee deep in water, looking at Harry as the dementors continued to load the prisoners into the boat.
"Harry....I, I'm so sorry. God, how did this happen? How could I.....Harry, please look at me....I...I didn't know..." Sirius' voice cracked with emotion as he gripped the side of the boat.
Harry who had been staring unseeingly at the floor of the boat looked up at Sirius' hand on the boat then at Sirius. Sirius dropped his gaze to the waters when he saw the blank gaze his godson was giving him.
"Harry....I'm sorry I failed you...I....should have known better......Ha-Harry.." he looked up to see Harry leaning in closer to him, tilting his head, raising his hand to his ear causing the chains on his wrist to jangle.
"Can't hear you. You have to speak louder.....parents screaming.." his voice was barely a whisper.
Sirius' face contorted in horror and pain as the meaning of Harry's words sank in. And then before he could move, the boat was moving and Harry dropped his arm and returned his gaze to his feet. The boat sailed away as Sirius just stood there staring after the boy who was his dead best friend's only son. The boy who had saved the world from Voldemort. The boy whose emerald green eyes were so dead.