By Crow Skywalker
Disclaimer – I don't own Harry Potter or its characters. They all belong to J.K. Rowling and whatnot. I'm only borrowing them for some fun ;)
Author's Notes – This is the beginning of a plot bunny I thought of, and then decided to write. I'm not sure if I will continue this fic, nor if I do continue it, when the next update will be – depends on the time I have, and how many people are interested in this fic, I guess. The fic was spawned for my liking of Veela!Draco, though after reading the first chapter you may have no idea why this fic was spawned from that, lol. It will all come forth in later chapters though. Now I hear some groans about this, but before you click the back button, I want you to read this chapter. You see, this fic was spawned by my liking of Veela!Draco fics – but I'm tired of the same old Veela plot lines. This fic will be totally different from those fics, so have no worries. Anyway, I don't have much more to say – just that if you really wish for me to continue, you should review and tell me so. I have a ton of other fics I'm writing, and I need to know if this one is worth writing. So R&R, and most of all, enjoy the chapter! (Though right now it makes little sense)
Pairings/Warnings – Takes place…after Hogwarts, I guess. The timeline is a bit odd, because during Harry's seventh year the events that went on caused the school to shut down, so nobody really graduated. I guess you could still say they're still in school, since they haven't exactly finished – but they have yet to return to Hogwarts due to the war and the deaths. As for pairings, the main couple will be Veela!Draco and Crazy!Harry. There will also be side airings such as Hermione/Fleur, and mentions of past Ron/Pansy. Rated R for obvious reasons.
Summary – In the dark depths of Azkaban an old newspaper flew through the cold and windy hallway, twisting and ruffling until it stuck up against a damp wall. Despite the faded colors and the tattered paper, the headline could still be well seen. In big, spirally letters it read, "Famous Boy Who Lived Sent to Prison for Life for Killing Ronald G. Weasley!"
It was stormy out, the summer's warmth disappearing into the harsh night outside. The sea was churning, the waves a dark black in the clouded sky, almost high enough to tip over any boats that dared to set sail within the waters. Above, lightning flashed, lighting up the sky and the waters for a split second before a rumbling noise ripped through the clouds. It was raining relentlessly, showing no sign of giving up, nor the storm giving any sign that it would soon be over.
She stood on a boat, holding onto the rails of the Muggle invention as she stared ahead into the darkness. A waterproof cloak wrapped securely around her, she paid no attention to the storm as she kept her grip firm on the rails and her eyes narrowed ahead, trying to see something through the dreadful weather. Once again the sound of thunder roared overhead, causing her to shift slightly as the wind took hold of the hood of her cloak and ripped it back. Long red hair took flight in the wind, and she gambled her life as she let one hand leave the railing to brush her hair out of her face and smooth her hood back into place.
"Miss!" someone called through the wind and storm, but she could barely hear it. "Miss!" the same voice tried again, and this time she caught it. Turning her head, she looked up to see the captain within the boat trying to capture her attention.
"Yes?" She called, her voice raised so that he would hear her over the rain.
"We're coming up to the island," he called back just as lightning flashed above. "It'll only be a few more minutes!"
The girl nodded, turning back to the front of the boat as she kept a close watch, trying to see the island that was her destination. He stared after her, wondering how in God's name he had ever let her talk him into this. This was the stormiest night he'd seen in all of his days, and it really was dangerous to be out on the water during a storm as fierce as this.
She'd come to him just a little after supper time, the storm already raging outside as he and a few other fellow sailors were sitting down to their daily meal. They hadn't heard the knock on the door at first, the sound of the wind and rain pelting the small shack from outside making it unnoticeable. But as the banging proceeded to get louder, one of the sailors had finally left the table to check it out. They'd returned seconds later, the dark cloaked red head in tow.
At first, they'd been very surprised. They hadn't thought that anyone would venture out into such a storm, especially not a girl! They'd quickly offered her a seat and a towel, wondering what she had been doing outside on such a night. She'd declined, telling them she wasn't in need of their help – that she came with a request. At first they laughed when she asked them to bring her to an uninhabited island off the coast – but then they had realized she was serious about her request.
"Are you mad?" One of the sailors, Ben had shouted. "Look out the window! It's hell on earth out there!"
She'd taken down her hood then, her hair oddly dry despite the weather. Reaching into one of her pockets, she pulled out a few bills and held them up for everyone to see. "I'm willing to pay," she offered, counting out several bills onto the table, "This much for a ride there and back."
The sailors sat dumbstruck, staring at the amount on the table. Then, finally, he had stood up, his chair rattling against the wooden floor beneath him.
Jake Floy was a man in his thirties with no real family of his own. His wife had long since left him, and he had had no children. Now, the sea was his family as he spent nearly every day out on the waters in his boat, and he knew the coast very well. Along with his fellow crew, he lived in a small shack like house near the wharves, and he made a living off of fishing.
"I'll take you, m'dear," he told her calmly, and at once all eyes were on him.
"Are you off your rocker, Jake?" One of them blurted out, eyebrows raised.
"I need the money," he answered simply. Then he turned to the young girl, who couldn't have been much older than seventeen. "Where is it that you want to go again?"
"To that island off the coast," She repeated, her brown eyes shining in the light of the room.
"That place is uninhabited, you know," Jake told her, "Why would a girl like you wish to go to such a place?"
"I'm afraid I can't tell you that," she replied truthfully, then: "Will you take me?"
Jake looked rather uncomfortable, looking back to his friends before nodding his head. He would take her.
Looking back on that moment, Jake realized he should have listened to his fellow sailors and stayed home. Any amount of money wasn't worth going through the troubles of the storm to bring a girl to an island. He knew for a fact that there was nothing there, so what kind of business would the red head have there? He decided to keep his mouth shut about it though, and didn't ask any questions. It was too late to turn back now, and the money was almost as good as his.
Another crack of lightening lit the sky, and he held on tight to the steering wheel of the little ship as he caught sight of the island before them. There were rocky cliffs on all sides, and there was only one place that he could possibly drop her off at. A small beach lined the shores on the western side of the island, and if he let her off there she might be able to climb her way up the old path that used to lead up to the island. The path was almost totally caved in though, and she would have the most difficulties getting through.
Steering the ship towards the beach, he narrowed his eyes as the wind blew hard from the north, causing salt water and rain to drench him from head to toe. Another wave washed up over the ship, and through his water filled eyes Jake yelled, "You might want to come back here where it's safe!"
The girl waved it off, one hand gripping the boat railing. The storm didn't seem to bother her one bit, and Jake was beginning to think that maybe his friends had been right – she was mad.
"We're coming up to the beach now," he shouted to her, "I can't bring you up all the way – it's too risky, and I don't want to damage my boat!"
"That's fine," she called back, pointing to the small extra boat that was kept on deck in case of emergencies. "May I use that?"
Jake blinked, staring hard at the girl. "Miss, I really don't think-"
"I'll be alright," she told him. "And I promise to bring it back if you wait for me."
Jake struggled to hear her voice over the wind, but he nodded. He'd let her go – it would be her own fault when the small boat capsized in the stormy waters. He'd tried to warn her, after all. Besides, she'd already paid him to do his job. He'd brought her here, and he'd wait for her. That's all he was going to do. Maybe she wanted to risk her life to get to the island, but Jake planned to live for many years after this.
The girl hesitated once the boat was stopped and anchored, glancing at the captain before she set about getting the boat. Jake got the hint and, with a sigh of defeat, he decided to do this one thing for her. Jumping down from his place next to the steering wheel of the boat, he made his way across the deck, careful of the water and slipperiness as he went to help her with the small boat.
"You sure you want to do this?" He asked her, one brow raised as he hefted the small boat up over the rail of his ship. Using ropes, he managed to lower it down the side and into the stormy waters safely. There, it bucked and twisted in the wild sea, but he held on tightly.
"I'm positive," she answered, and he nodded his head in the direction of the ladder.
"You'll have to climb down there to get into the boat," he informed her, and as she walked past him his hand shot out, grabbing hold of her cloaked arm. "Be careful, the ladder is slippery."
The girl pulled away, a strand of red hair blowing across her face. She pushed it to one side, offering a small smile. "I'll be careful," she told him, before heading off to the ladder, "I should only be gone for a little while. Probably less than an hour," she called to him as she held onto the rungs of the ladder, pulling herself over so that she could edge her way down to the small boat. "You'll wait for me, won't you?"
He nodded, leaning over to watch her descend the ladder. He winced as one of her hands slipped off a wet rung, and he almost cried out as she dangled there for what seemed like eternity – but she managed to get her grip back and continue downwards. When she finally had both feet in the rocky boat, he sighed in relief.
She waved up at him, signaling that she was alright before she took a seat.
A thought suddenly occurred to him. "You know how to work that thing, right?"
She didn't answer him, and he thought that maybe she hadn't heard him over the wind. However, when he opened his mouth to yell down to her again, he stopped when he saw her pull something out of her pocket. Lightning flashed, and he could see her lips moving. As darkness washed over them again he heard the motor start up, and he watched her, bewildered, as she waved to him and started towards shore.
Pulling her boat up onto the sand, the red haired girl made sure that the boat was secure and wouldn't drift away as she left it to walk down the sandy beach. The sand beneath her feet was wet with rain, causing her feet to sink into it, though she paid no attention to it as she continued her way. Making her way to the only known route onto the island, she glanced over her shoulder and searched for Jake on the ship. When she saw that he was nowhere to be seen, she yet again pulled her wand out of her pocket, holding it in front of her as she took her first step up the rocky path.
A wave of magic washed over her, the illusion of the blocked path disappearing as she continued on. Stepping into the magical barrier of the island, she paused briefly as she looked back over her shoulder once again. Through the barrier the ship could still be seen, though she knew she had now disappeared from the Muggle eye. Around her, the storm had calmed, still visible outside the field, but not strong enough to penetrate the powerful magic of the island. The wind still blew, and the lightning still flashed overhead, but the rain had stopped.
She looked back to her destination then, a shiver going down her spine as she looked at the dark cliff in front of her. She shifted her cloak, hoping to gain some warmth from it as she walked towards the cliff, her eyes on a gigantic arc door that had stalactites and gagged rocks hanging down from it almost like teeth. The place was giving her the creeps, and it was beginning to show.
"Halt!" A hoarse voice commanded, and the girl's head snapped up to meet the dark gaze of a man standing at the mouth of the entrance. He wore an old gray cloak that was frayed at the bottom, his hair scraggly and white and his eyes an eerie yellow. "What are you doing here?"
She took in a sharp breath, trying to gather her courage. "I'm Ginny Weasley. I'm here to visit a friend."
He looked at her, studying her up and down before his face split into a smile that showed yellow fang like teeth. "Ah, I see. You took the old route here, eh?"
Ginny tried not to look too disgusted as his rolling yellow eyes roamed over her once more. "I had to. I'm hardly old enough to learn how to Apparate, and there was no other way."
"I see, I see," he grinned, his teeth clicking as he spoke. "Still, 'tis a long journey here for such a young girl. Tell me, what is your real business here? What is such a young girl doing in a place like the gates of hell?"
"The gates of hell?" Ginny questioned, looking up at the gaping mouth of an entrance.
"Azkaban, of course!" The man laughed, coming towards her. "'Tis where no one leaves, and everyone suffers. The Dementors that still reside here – they do their jobs well. They suck the soul out of everything they can, they do. No one within Azkaban can keep their minds. They're all insane in there, they are."
Ginny frowned at the man, keeping her guard up. She'd heard the stories of Azkaban – she knew what went on in there. And now that the Dementors had returned from wherever they had went to join the Dark Lord, it was rumored that Azkaban was even worst off than it was before. "I'm here to see my friend, if that is alright."
"Oh yes, yes!" The man nodded, looking at her from under bushy white eyebrows. "But be warned – he probably isn't the same as he was before, no, no, no! You'll be lucky if he still remembers your name, yes, yes!"
Ginny looked somber, chewing on her bottom lip and she nodded. She knew that there would probably be some differences, but he'd still remember her – wouldn't he? "Will you take me there?"
"I am the guard of the mouth of hell, yes! Follow me, and I will take you to Azkaban." He made to walk towards the entrance of the cave, "Are you sure you want to go up? The Dementors…most people can't even handle visiting, that's how bad it is up there!"
"I can handle it," Ginny replied confidently, though she wasn't so sure. Even standing here, at the entrance of Azkaban, she could feel all her happy emotions starting to dwindle and disappear. Once she got topside, it would be even worse.
"If you say so," The elder man walked into the darkness of the cave, and Ginny followed silently after him. She tried hard to keep her eyes straight ahead, afraid of what she might see in the shadows of the cave. Ahead of them, somewhere within the cave, a green light shone, showing them the way. When the man next spoke, it startled Ginny because he had been silent for so long. "I haven't been through here in a long time, you know."
"Really?" Ginny muttered, not really wanting to engage in conversation with the odd man.
"Oh yes, yes. Not many visitors come my way, you know. They all have their fancy magical ways to get here, and meanwhile I'm left down here guarding a gate that no one ever really uses." He looked thoughtful for a second, rubbing at his matted white hair. "I think you might be the first to come through here in oh…about a century."
"That's a long time," Ginny's eyes snapped to the side where she thought she had seen some movement. Watching a rock as she passed, she pulled her cloak around her and crossed her arms protectively in front of her. "You've been down here all this time?"
"Yes, yes!" The man replied, looking quite proud of himself. "I've lived down here for a long time, yes I have!"
He looked like he was about to go on when Ginny asked, "How much longer?"
"We're almost there. The lift is just ahead now, yes!"
Ginny shivered, feeling as if she was being watched from the darkness. A rat ran across her path, and she side stepped it in disgust. She hated rats – especially since she'd found out about Scabbers. Who would have known that the family rat would turn out to be a backstabber, a loyal Death Eater, even? Scowling at the direction the rat had disappeared in, she continued on for another few minutes before the old man in front of her finally stopped.
Looking up, Ginny found herself in dimly lit room. The green glow she'd noticed early seemed to be originating from this place – candles of the oddest shade of green hovering just before a smaller cave that was too dark to even see into. The cave, too, looked like a gaping mouth, and Ginny almost panicked when the man moved for her to continue alone.
"This is my stop," he informed her, his knobby fingers pointing towards the small cave, "You must continue on, yes!"
"C-continue on?" Ginny stuttered for a moment, blinking at the old man.
"'Tis the lift, yes! It will take you to the surface!"
Ginny looked back to the cave, staring at it for a moment before she stepped forward, her wand still in her hand. She was afraid – what normal girl wouldn't be? – but she had a mission to fulfill, and there was someone up there waiting for her. Or so, she sure hoped so.
Turning around to look at the old man, Ginny opened her mouth to say thank you, but gasped at what she saw. He was disappearing slowly before her eyes, his body melting into a misty fog. Soon, all that was left were his yellow eyes, which looked back at her in amusement, and his voice echoed off the walls: "I'll see you if you come back, yes!"
And then he was gone.
Ginny stared at the spot she had last seen him. "He was a ghost," she murmured quietly, her voice echoing off the cave walls. She suddenly frowned, whirling back to the smaller cave entrance. With a big breath, she stepped into it, only to find that she could only enter so far before a wall stopped her.
"What.." She started, but almost lost her balance and toppled over as something under her feet began to shudder and move. She braced herself against the stone wall, her fingernails digging into the rocks as she held on tightly. What was going on? Why was the floor moving? Then something the old man had said came back to her, and she relaxed somewhat. He had told her the 'lift' was inside the cave and she had obviously found it. Magic was lifting the floor so that she could get to the prison above.
She moved, still holding onto the wall as she saw a bluish glow surrounding her feet. Just as soon as it had started, there was a jerk beneath her feet that almost caused her to lose her balance, and she fell against the wall as the blue light disappeared and a strange silence fell upon her. Then, the floor began to turn, and she helplessly held on as she watched an opening appear behind her.
Stepping out of the magical lift, she paused to regain her senses for a moment before she took in her surroundings. She was standing in a dark hall now, the walls made of a strange black marble that shone every time lightning flashed outside. The hall was empty, and Ginny realized she didn't know where she should go. She'd never been to Azkaban before, and she had no idea where she was going.
"Lost, are ye?"
Ginny jumped, startled as a voice spoke behind her. Turning around, she looked everywhere, but couldn't find the source of the voice. She silently scolded herself for being so jumpy, and thought that she had imagined the voice. With a shrug, she began to walk down the hall.
"That's the wrong way, young gal," the voice spoke again, and this time Ginny knew she hadn't been hearing things.
Cautiously she called out, "Who's there?"
"Why, it's the old guardian of the lift, Matilda!" The voice answered as Ginny continued to look around her, confused. Finally, the voice sighed, and said, "Up here, my dear."
Ginny looked up, finally seeing an odd marble face coming out of the wall. It looked female in the face, the hair long and the face thin – but the eyes were hollow marble, and the lips frozen in a silent scream. Ginny felt a shiver run down her. "You're a statue," she said bluntly, then looked embarrassed at being so rude.
"Ah, yes. Frozen forever in time as punishment for trying to escape Azkaban," The statue told her. "I was wrongly accused you know, and when the Dementors tried to throw me into prison and suck all my happy memories away from me…I attacked one of them in attempt to escape. The wizards who run Azkaban chose an even better punishment – they beheaded me and cursed me to live forever, my head put here like a plaque and turned to marble."
"That's horrible!" Ginny gasped, her hands up to her mouth, suddenly looking very worried.
"That was centuries ago, my dear. I've been here almost as long as Azkaban has been." She paused, her frozen screaming lips never moving, then, "Now, how can I help you? My job is to guide travelers from the lift. You're the first one to use that in a long time, you know."
"So I was told," Ginny said quietly, remembering the old man who'd guided her through the caves below. Glancing down the dark hallway, Ginny raised her eyes to the statue. "Can you please tell me where I am?"
"You're in the corridor that leads from the visiting area to the dungeons below," Matilda replied. "I suggest you head to your left, or you'll encounter the Dementors, my girl. I doubt very much you want to venture into the dark oblivion of Azkaban, either. Go left, and you will eventually come to an open room. There will be people there that will help you."
Ginny nodded, giving her thanks as she headed in the direction the statue had told her to go. Sure enough, after a few moments of walking down the dark, fire lit hallways she found herself in a large room. Open windows lit this room – the lightning outside flashing still. Desks were placed around the room, and a few witches and wizards sat behind them. Chairs were set out against the wall, and Ginny flinched as she caught sight of a scraggly looking witch in the corner, her legs drawn up to her as she stared ahead blankly.
"Ignore her, child," one of the witches whom sat at a nearby desk said. "She has been charged for the murder of her son, and she's awaiting the arrival of the Dementors to take her to her new home."
A chill went down Ginny's spine, and she turned her back to the witch in the corner, focusing her attention on the lady at the desk. "Hi, I'm here to see a friend of mine. The name's Ginny Weasley," she offered a friendly hand, and the elder witch stared at her, one brow raised.
"One would think that you would have no business with your 'friend', after what he did," the witch responded emotionlessly. "Why would you venture out in such weather to visit such a person?"
Ginny let her hand drop to her side, straightening as she answered, "That's none of your concern. Now may I see him or not?"
The witch made no move to do anything. "Are you sure this is what you want? You do realize that he's not who he used to be, right?"
Ginny swallowed hard, looking down at the marble floors as another boom of thunder erupted overhead. "I know."
The woman nodded, turning to one of the others who were seated behind the desks. "She wishes to speak to the boy – please tell one of the Dementors that he is to be brought up here, and I want the room guarded well."
The other woman nodded, swinging her blonde hair over her shoulder as she left the room, heading down the hallway that Ginny had just come from. For a moment, Ginny looked confused – were they really going to send a simple woman down into the depths of Azkaban? What if one of the Dementors got a hold of her, or she got too close to one of them? Surely she would lose her mind!
The woman at the desk seemed to notice her troubled look, and said, "Don't worry. She's part Veela – couldn't you tell?"
"Part Veela?" Ginny asked hesitantly. She knew what they were – she'd seen and met with a few of them in the past. But what did having to be a Veela have anything to do with this?
The witch nodded. "While the Dementors suck the living soul out of every creature around them, Veelas are immune to them. Didn't that school teach you anything?" She frowned.
"Sorry," Ginny shifted, frowning herself. "I was only in sixth year when it happened, and it was during the beginning of the year."
The woman shook her head. "Back in my day, they taught you stuff like this in first year!"
Ginny chose to ignore the ignorant woman from then on, standing uncomfortably in the large room as she waited for the Veela woman to return. It seemed like eternity before she finally came back, looking as if she'd never just walked through the horrors that dwelled beneath the first floor of Azkaban. With a smile, she took Ginny's hand and led her down the corridor and into a room that Ginny had not seen on her way there.
"Wait here," the blonde woman said in a pleasant voice, "They will be here shortly."
Ginny's eyes widened slightly. "The Dementors?"
The woman looked amused. "Of course not – they're bound to the lower levels now, since their return. They are no longer able to leave the lower levels – they couldn't leave even if the Dark Lord himself stormed Azkaban," she smiled. "The guards will bring him here, and will stand watch closely."
"I see," Ginny nodded as the woman left, closing the door behind her. She was left once again in the eerie silence, a lone candle flickering from a chandelier overhead. Growing uncomfortable, she unconsciously played with her fingers in her lap as she sat in a chair across from the door, a desk between her and the door.
Finally, the door re-opened and a figure stepped through flanked by two guards. They roughly pushed him into the other seat, forcing him to sit straight while they used their wands to charm him so he couldn't leave the chair.
"If you need us, we'll be just outside." The gruff guard said, and he left soon after.
For a moment, Ginny could only stare at the person who sat in front of her. He seemed like a totally different person than she had known back in Hogwarts – he certainly looked a whole lot different. He was taller, for one, and much skinnier than he had ever been. He looked like he was being starved to death, and his tan was gone. His hair was almost past his shoulders, tangled and dirty around his face. His black robes were full of dust and dirt, torn and ragged. But what shocked Ginny the most were his eyes, which had been so emerald green and full of life – they were now dull, blank and lifeless.
"Hogwarts is under attack!" Dean cried, running from the Great Hall. He bumped into Harry and Ron on the way out, and for a moment the three of them stood there stunned, Dean in a panic. "Harry, thank Merlin I found you! Do you have any idea where Professor Dumbledore is? We're under attack!"
"That's impossible, Dean!" Ron scoffed, looking quite amused at his friend's joke. "Who put you up to this?"
"I'm not joking!" Dean cried, quite frantic as he grabbed hold of Harry's robes. "Death Eaters! They're in there right now!"
"Dean," Harry tried to pry the other Gryffindor's hands off of him. "This is Hogwarts…Death Eaters wouldn't dare come around here. Even Voldemort is scared of this place – it's greatly protected, and Dumbledore is here!"
Ron nodded in agreement, "Dumbledore is the most powerful wizard around!"
"Take a look into the Great Hall and then tell me you don't believe me!" Dean shot at them, pushing past the two boys as he ran down the hall. "If you won't help me find Dumbledore, then I'll find someone who will!"
Ron and Harry glanced at each other and shrugged. They were both sure that there were no Death Eaters within the walls of Hogwarts – perhaps someone had been playing a trick on Dean? And a very bad one at that!
"It wouldn't hurt to check at least," Harry said quietly, moving towards the doors of the Great Hall.
He stared ahead as if he didn't even see her sitting there, didn't see the darkness of the cold marble walls behind her. He didn't move, didn't speak, and didn't even blink. For a moment, Ginny thought that he was asleep with his eyes open, and she fearfully reached out a hand towards him. "Are you okay, Harry?"
The sound of his name seemed to snap him out of it, his eyes focusing on her sitting across the desk in front of him. He remained silent, his eyes studying her.
Hesitantly, she dropped her hand and asked, "Do…do you remember who I am, Harry? Do you remember my name?"
They were shocked to find the Great Hall was indeed invaded by cloaked figures, and for a moment they stood just outside the door dumbly, taking this information in. Ron was the first to open his mouth, spluttering like a fish as he took a step back. "Oh my…we have to get Dumbledore!"
"What're they doing here?" Harry wondered out loud, making sure to keep his voice as low as possible. If the Death Eaters were to hear him and suddenly turn around to see their most hated enemy spying on them in the doorway, then all hell would break loose.
"Forget what how did they get here?" Ron hissed.
"I…I don't know!" Harry almost choked. "This is impossible! We've got to be seeing things!"
Ron nodded, but not before his eyes narrowed and he took a good look at the Death Eaters. "Uh, Harry…aren't they kind of short for Death Eaters? I mean…they look like they would be about our age!"
Harry nodded, and the feeling of dread in his stomach tightened as he realized something. "They're not real Death Eaters Ron…they're the students that Voldemort has recruited since his return. Those cloaked figures…they're students!"
He didn't reply, still didn't move. Ginny shifted uncomfortably under his gaze. "Harry?"
"Harry?" Ron asked heatedly, "Is that…is that who I think it is?"
The feeling of dread disappeared as Harry caught sight of a taller, more feminine figure. In the glow of the Great Hall, she was easy to make out, especially since she had lowered the hood of her cloak and her face was in full view. The dread disappeared, and as memories of the night his godfather Sirius Black died returned to him, the dread was replaced with fierce anger.
Ginny's eyes widened and her heart stopped. Harry had spoken, after about ten minutes of silence. It wasn't the name she had hoped for, but it was good enough. At least Harry had said something – Ginny was beginning to think that living in Azkaban had taken away much of his sanity, and his voice. "No Harry," she replied in a soft voice, "I'm not Bellatrix."
"Harry! You can't go in there by yourself!" Ron pleaded, trying to hold back his furious friend. "Those may not be full fledged Death Eaters, but they're your school mates, Harry! They've learned just about everything you have, and there's over twenty of them, plus a crazy lady who's off her rocker! You can't just barge in there and start throwing curses at her!"
"I'm going to kill her!" Harry announced through clenched teeth. This was his chance to get his revenge, to make Bellatrix pay for what she did to Sirius!
"Harry, please! Wait for Dumbledore to get here!" Ron tugged on Harry's robes again, but this time Harry pulled back and Ron lost his grip. He watched as the angry boy entered the Great Hall, and he moaned out loud and cursed the name 'Harry Potter'. Grabbing his wand, he followed his friend into the lion's den, planning to back Harry up as much as he could.
"Going to kill…"
A cold shiver shot up Ginny's spine and she shook her head, reaching out to grab hold of Harry. It was difficult due to the desk being in the way, but with a frantic look she gazed into his eyes. "Don't talk like that, Harry! You don't want to kill anyone!"
He didn't move, even when her fingers dug into his old robes and bit into his flesh.
"Ron, sod off! This is my fight!" Harry yelled at his best friend, shooting him a glare over his shoulder. The Death Eaters were watching now, their faces hidden under their cloaks and their hands by their sides, waiting for the signal to get out their wands. Bellatrix, however, raised a hand to stop them, and with a smile upon her pretty lips, she stepped forth to greet the famous Harry Potter.
"Ah, Harry, so nice to see you again. How have things been for you?"
Harry stopped a few feet away from her, his eyes narrowed and his teeth clamped tightly together. "How do you think things have been? You killed Sirius, I'm on everyone's death list, and now I come here and find a bunch of backstabbers about to run off with Voldemort's bitch!"
"Bitch?" She raised a brow, looking quite insulted. Then a wicked smile spread across her face, "What are you doing here anyway, young Harry? Are you here to challenge me to a duel? You know I'll win – I fight dirty."
"Harry!" Ron shouted from somewhere behind him, "Don't do it!"
"Shove off, poor boy," Bellatrix laughed. "Let little Harry duel me if he wishes!"
"Harry!" Ginny shouted, shaking him. He'd been silent for over five minutes, his lifeless eyes still staring into her own. "Come on, Harry! Snap out of it! Talk to me!" She begged, "I know you can speak, so please say something!"
"Stop bothering me Ron! Stop it!" Harry cried out, his eyes shutting tightly. "Stop it, stop it, stop it…"
"Harry!" Ginny shook him again, listening to him repeat 'stop it' over and over again.
"Come on little Harry, is that all you've got?" Bellatrix laughed, dodging yet another spell that Harry threw her way. The young man was very angry, and he was letting the anger take over. He misjudged the distance and time between spells, and Bellatrix danced around him in circles laughing as if she was having fun. "Too slow!"
"Harry, stop it!"
"Ron, stay out of it!" Harry answered back, following Bellatrix as she moved, his hand gripping his wand tightly.
"Stay out…stay out…stay out…"
"This has been fun, Harry, really it has – but you see, I'm running on a tight schedule. I have to get these new recruits back so they can get their Marks!" She grinned wickedly. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to end our little game."
In the blink of an eye she had her wand raised at Harry, and she laughed as she said, "Here's your chance to see old Sirius! Say hello for me, won't you? Avada Kedavra!"
The death curse glowed green, curling through the air and coming straight at Harry. He straightened, his wand falling from his hand as he realized he had no escape – he was about to die. Or, he would have died, if someone hadn't had jumped in front of the spell and pushed him out of the way.
Harry rolled to his side, quickly getting up – just in time to see Ron hit the floor where he had just been standing, his eyes rolling back in his head and his red hair fluttering as he limply fell to the ground. Moments clicked by as if in slow motion, and suddenly Harry started to scream.
"It's my fault! My fault! He's dead…my fault!" Harry started to shake, pushing Ginny away as he hugged himself and rocked back and forth. "Told him to stay out of it…told him…didn't listen. We fought…killed him…Ron…oh Ron!"
Ginny sat numbly next to Harry, wondering what was going through his head. Perhaps the last few moments Ron had been alive? Was he reliving it inside his head, seeing it all over again? Ginny felt the tears running down her face, listening to his words. No one really knew what had happened that night – by the time Dumbledore had arrive, the gang of Death Eaters were nowhere to be seen. There had been quite a few missing teenagers the next morning, including Ginny's current boyfriend Dean.
No, the room had been empty…except for a sobbing Harry, who had been in hysterics on the floor, hugging something close to him. When they had found Ron in his arms, lifeless and reeking of the afterglow of the worst Forbidden Curse, they had been shocked to say the least.
"Harry," Ginny reached out and put a hand on the young man's shoulder, "Harry? Can you hear me?"
His shaking didn't stop, but he did look up at her with dull green eyes. For the first time since he entered the room he blinked, his gaze turning from her face to her long red hair. He raised a shaking hand to it, twirling it between his fingers as he continued to move back and forth.
"Red hair…red hair…Ron hair…"
Ginny smiled bitterly, reaching up and taking his hand within her own. "That's right. Ron's hair…I have the same color hair as Ron's. Do you remember, Harry? Do you remember who I am?" A sob escaped her lips, and tears dripped down upon her hands. "I'm Ron's sister…Ginny Weasley."
His gaze was still transfixed on her hair, but he began to mumble softly, "Ginny, Ginny, Ginny.."
She hugged him then, drawing him close despite the fact that he made no move to return the gesture. "Yeah, Ginny! Oh Harry, I can't believe this happened! I'm so sorry! You know I don't believe the rumors!" She smiled into his dusty cloak, "I never believed them! I know you wouldn't do that! Me and Hermione…we're working on something, and we're going to get you out of here soon, okay?"
"Soon, soon, soon…"
She pulled away, letting him continue his rocking back and forth. Nobody knew what had happened on that night – there had been no witnesses besides Harry, and he hadn't been in the right mind since that night. They'd had to close down Hogwarts for a year, because of the death and missing students, and Harry was worse off now than he had been on that night.
Azkaban could do that to someone, Ginny thought grimly.
"Killed Ron! Ron's dead! Goodbye Ron…bye Ron…" Harry continued to shake. From outside there was a knock on the door, and a few seconds later one of the guards popped his head in.
"Is everything alright miss?" He asked, keeping a close eye on the young man seated in the chair. "I heard some loud voices."
"It's nothing," Ginny replied quickly, wanting the man to leave them to talk. "He was just talking to himself."
"Crazy, that one is," the guard scoffed, and Ginny narrowed her eyes at him as he said, "The Dementors had a great time feeding off his emotions. He probably doesn't even remember his own name, never mind yours."
"You're cruel," she spat bitterly, reaching out to Harry. "Harry honey, talk to me – please!"
Harry stopped his shaking, his green eyes looking up at her troubled face. He said nothing to her, only stared with his mouth slightly open as if he'd never seen her at all in his life. She bit her lip, hoping for some kind of response.
"Give it up lady – he ain't gonna respond to you. He hasn't said a full sentence since that night, and nothing he says makes any sense!"
Ginny glared at the man, then turned her gaze to the boy in front of her. With a sad smile she reached out and ruffled his hair, but he didn't seem to notice she was touching him. Instead his eyes were locked on her hair again, his mouth moving as he whispered to himself. Suddenly he sat back in his chair, startling Ginny so that she almost fell backwards.
"Stop it!" Harry said loudly, "Stay away!"
"Stay away from what, Harry?" She asked gently. She reached out a hand again to calm him, but he was moving back and forth again, and once he saw her hand he slapped it out of the way.
"Stay away!" He said a little louder, "I killed him!"
Harry's eyebrows narrowed as he looked up at Ginny, his mouth twisting into a nasty scowl. "I killed him…and I'll kill you too!"
"Don't say things like that!" Ginny insisted, and once again reached for him.
He started to struggle, trying to stay away from her outstretched hand. "Nobody's safe!"
"Miss, I don't think you should do that," the guard commented. "You're upsetting him."
"He was already upset to begin with!" Ginny snapped, not looking away from her old friend. "Harry, please calm down!"
"Not safe…not safe…" He was breathing heavily, still struggling against the spell that had been put on him. Though, no matter how hard he tried, he could not move from the chair.
"Stop it Harry!"
"Stay away!" He yelled, his teeth showing now as he struggled, looking at Ginny almost as if he hated her. "Away! I'll kill you!"
From the door, the guard moved forward, his partner entering the room as well. "I'm sorry miss, but he's really acting up. We're going to have to take him back to his cell."
Ginny stared at them wide eyed, "But I'm not finished talking to him!"
"In all truth, he won't reply to you. He hasn't really spoken to anyone in almost a year; all he does is rant about random things regarding that night. We need to take him back to his cell so that he can cool off a bit." The guards moved to take the spell off of him, each holding on to one of Harry's flailing arms.
"Get off me! Stay away!" He yelled, struggling against them.
The guard grunted as Harry accidentally hit him in the stomach, but he didn't move. The other raised his wand and took the spell off, and Harry immediately sprung to his feet, his eyes on Ginny as she started to lunge in her direction. The guards held him back, of course, but that didn't stop him from struggling against them, his eyes set on the scared girl.
"You came back!" He said, almost a giggle, "Red hair! I killed you!"
"That's enough boy," one of the guards jerked his arm forward. "You're scaring the poor girl with your crazy talk."
"I kill everyone!" Harry insisted, his eyes wide as they dragged him out of the room.
Ginny stood shaking from the whole ordeal, confused and afraid as she watched Harry. In her mind she kept telling herself that what he was saying was just crazy ranting, but it still sent shivers through her. Seeing Harry now, and remembering what he had been like in the past – it was like seeing a totally different person. Harry was a totally different person.
"I'll…I'll be seeing you again sometime soon!" She called to him, unsure of what she was supposed to say to her insane friend.
From the doorway, which they were currently dragging him through, Harry suddenly stopped his insane ranting and an odd silence washed over him. He stared at the young red head for a moment before his head tilted to the side, and he graced her with a smile.
"Bye, bye, Ginny Weasley!" He called, just as the door shut behind them. He started to laugh then, his laughter echoing off the walls as the guards escorted him back to his cell, where the Dementors would take further care of the insane boy.
Down in the dark depths of Azkaban an old newspaper flew through the cold and windy hallway, twisting and ruffling until it stuck up against a damp wall. Despite the faded colors and the tattered paper, the headline could still be well seen. In big, spirally letters it read, "Famous Boy Who Lived Sent to Prison for Life for Killing Ronald G. Weasley!"
To Be Continued…