Disclaimer: I own nothing; it all belongs to J.K.Rowling. I'm just borrowing the characters to play with for a while. This is for pleasure only, no profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
PROLOGUE – Imprisonment
Harry Potter sat still in his cell. He remembered how his time in Azkaban began. How he never cried out loud, but he had completely irritated his eyes unable to stem the flow of tears. Having the only memory of your parents, be that of their murder is not a good thing. But it was the betrayals and pain he felt at people he had been foolish enough to trust before. The double standards the world had applied to the Boy-Who-Lived had disgusted him. He had used an unforgivable on a deranged lunatic escaped murderer who had just killed his godfather. And for that the Wizarding World condemned their savior as a traitor. As a Dark Lord in training. As a sympathizer of Voldemort. As evil.
It was two years into his ten year sentence when Harry made a startling discovery that changed his life. One of the age old debates was solved in Harry's head. Magic was sentient. It was not merely a force that existed and could be utilized. It was essentially alive. Harry wasn't sure it would be fair to call it truly alive, because if that were the case then magic could die. And Harry was pretty sure it couldn't die. You can fight it, you can resist it, you can block it or even negate it. But magic would still exist. And it had a mind of its own.
After two and a half years of struggling under the effects of the dementors, Harry was slowly building a resistance and his thoughts and understanding were becoming much clearer. When Harry realized Magic was sentient, he finally figured out it was trying to communicate with him. Knowledge he had never had before became instinctual to him. He understood his connection to Voldemort and was able to control it at will. Concepts and the ability to manipulate magic in ways he had never thought possible was at his complete command. He realized immediately he could break out with relative ease. He had enough understanding of magic, that his quantity of power was irrelevant. Even if it hadn't been, Harry was pretty sure he was really powerful. He suspected Dumbledore, Voldemort, and himself were all three in a class of their own. Exactly where among them he wasn't sure. But he had complete certainty that not only could he control and manipulate magic better than them, but that in fact Magic liked him better than either of them. And that was a pretty much insurmountable advantage.
Only very briefly did he toy with the idea of breaking out. Living a life as a fugitive would not have been ideal, but he wasn't opposed to it. But if he escaped, he would just be doing exactly what they expected of him. Vilified even more and appearing the traitor they believed him to be. That he could not stand for. He wanted to serve his sentence and leave. He was absolutely certain he didn't need any of them. Just as he was certain, that unless you supported Voldemort, then you definitely needed Harry. The community and Wizarding World offered him nothing and he would have no part in its society. He wasn't going to abandon magic, just the people who decided he deserved to rot in prison. He daydreamed of perhaps settling into a magical town outside of Europe. Or even just somewhere private on his own. Perhaps claim his own island as a secluded home and sanctuary. He had time to decide his own future once he had served his sentence.
Harry never had any visitors in the following seven and a half years. Dumbledore had only come to him once. Shortly after the first anniversary of his imprisonment. The old man wanted to see how he'd respond to the knowledge that Remus Lupin had been killed. The one man who had been trying to get Harry freed and believed the rest of the world was nuts for locking him up. Harry had been unsurprised at the knowledge of Moony's demise and had no reaction to Dumbledore at all. This was because three nights ago he had seen Remus die through Voldemort's eyes. It saddened him and hurt him, but there was the wonderful fact that he had taken Peter Pettigrew with him. Remus got some of the revenge he was owed and did his part to appease the spirits of Prongs, Padfoot, and Lily. Remus's life had not been very good at all. But his death had been spectacular. Wormtail had his silver hand squeezing Remus's neck. It was actually burning and sizzling on contact eating the flesh away, but Remus's instincts and werewolf strength snapped Wormtail's arm like a toothpick. Wormtail transformed to get away and Moony's dying action had been to grab the rat forcefully and bite his head off. Even Voldemort got a kick out of the scene.
Dumbledore seemed unperturbed at Harry's lack of reaction to the news of Moony's death. Harry didn't know if it was because the old man thought him crazy already. Or even thought Harry was 'too far along down the path of the Dark.' Harry half wondered if Dumbledore even considered the fact that Harry might have already known. Either way, Harry showed no emotion, though inside the brief respite from the dementors was appreciated. Mild taunting from the rare occasional auror passing through was the only other human contact he had in Azkaban.
The dementors it seemed did not openly ally with the Dark Lord. They already had too sweet a deal with all their needs being met by the prisoners. If forced to choose, it was most likely a foregone conclusion they would side with Voldemort but no one was able to force them to choose. They represented too powerful an ally or formidable an opponent for the Ministry to manipulate. And Voldemort decided they would be best served as a trump card only to be used if absolutely necessary. And not even Voldemort was certain that if forced they would submit to him when they already had a good deal that met all their needs. This was why they were Harry's only physical companions for almost a decade. When he was first put there, the dementors seemed to feed off him a lot, and he heard his parents and his so-called trial nearly continuously for the first few months. The constants of their pull seemed to dull with time to Harry. The voices in his head got gradually quieter, and the dementors in turn, seemed to leech less off him as he apparently didn't provide them the sustenance he had when he first arrived. After two years they barely affected him. And with his understanding of magic he could see why. They never seemed to pick on him, or go out of their way to try and harm him. Harry surmised they respected him somewhat. He sometimes wondered if communicating with them was possible or would even serve any purpose. But decided they were merely magical creatures doing their own part in life, and attempting to open lines of communication would not be worth risking inciting their wrath or aggravating them.
The change in Harry that both provided him with the understanding and the ability to leave came with the bitter irony of taking away any desire he had to leave. It all began when he stopped caring. He felt no more hatred towards Voldemort. He felt no more bitterness towards his former friends. He felt no more guilt for consequences beyond his control. It was simply a minor nuisance now to just bide his time until he had his freedom in the eyes of the Ministry of Magic's sense of justice. He used his time taking care of himself. Exercising and practicing magic that should have been impossible. Learning about and manipulating his mind as a tool and weapon. Skills and arts like Occlumency, Legilimency, Empathy, Telepathy, why and how they all worked. Organization of his mind and exploitation of his link to Voldemort. He was able to use it to spy on the Dark Lord. He could see through his eyes and read his surface thoughts. He had been doing this for a couple years before Voldemort ever even noticed his presence. Harry just happened to explore a little deeper than he should have and Voldemort recognized the mental attack and expelled him from his mind. Harry would slip in occasionally but Voldemort had complete control of his own mind and would expel Harry immediately upon noticing him in there.
Harry even voluntarily opened lines of communication with him. Voldemort responded with far more dignity and respect than Harry had expected. Voldemort constantly tried to get Harry to tell him how he was doing this and why he wasn't crazy. He briefly tried to sway Harry to join him in his conquest but Harry made it clear that was a lost cause. Murdering his parents and completely destroying all chances at a happy youth was simply not something you could ignore. Harry assured Voldemort he had no strong desire to hunt him down and exact his revenge. Harry's parents had sacrificed their lives so that he could live. Not so that he could spend his life fighting a never-ending battle between two factions of magic that only existed and were defined by the presence of the other. Dark magic and light magic were merely two sides of the same coin and both served their necessary purpose. Harry had no friends on either side, but if he were forced to acknowledge enemies they would no doubt be more prevalent on the dark side.
Voldemort briefly toyed with idea of breaking into Azkaban and capturing Harry. His ponderings were interrupted by the appearance of an incorporeal Harry Potter right in front of him. He informed him in no uncertain terms any future attacks on his person would be met with extreme prejudice. He explained he was somewhat indifferent as to whether he actually wanted Voldemort to be his enemy, but that if Voldemort had any sense at all he would not want Harry as an enemy. The fact that Harry was completely nonplussed to be in the Dark Lord's presence and putting himself there should have been impossible helped Voldemort make up his mind. Harry Potter was exactly the sort of sleeping dragon you don't want to tickle. Harry felt a little pride at the fear he could sense in Voldemort and they both had respect for the other's capabilities.
He had initially been crushed when his friends did nothing to help him. He remembered Ron's angry face at his trial and Hermione's disappointment. Harry assumed Dumbledore had something to do with their response no doubt painting the picture of Harry as an evil on his way to becoming another Tom Riddle. The fact that the trial was seemingly fair and proved that Harry had illegally led five other students and broken into the ministry in attempt to get to Sirius Black. A man who was a known escaped fugitive, and had regular contact with him. Since he had disappeared his innocence could not even be proven unless Pettigrew was found. All these were factors and charges brought against him but the icing on the cake was the casting of Cruciatus. The victim of his curse could provide no evidence but all signs pointed to a dark future for the young man. His five 'friends' received immunity in exchange for their own complete cooperation in the trial. Manipulating the questions they asked they were painted as victims who fell under Harry Potter's allure and blindly followed him. Ron seemed angry, like Harry had used him. Hermione seemed saddened by the whole situation and did nothing to help Harry in any way. Ginny, Luna, and Neville seemed like meek children following orders. None of them ever looked Harry in the eye, though Neville and Luna looked slightly hesitant to answer questions that would make Harry look evil but they answered them anyway as they would have been facing charges if they hadn't. Some small parts of Harry had felt sorry for them and couldn't blame them for their own predicament. But then he considered whether if the situations were reversed, what would he do? And Harry realized he would have stood up next to any of them and gladly gone to prison rather than lose their trust. When he realized none of them had similar feelings of care or trust for him, he became angrier and angrier thinking about them. Until the day came, when he stopped caring. They were beings who weren't even worth considering much anymore.
Feeling nothing is an incredibly freeing emotion. You cannot be hurt or feel the same sort of anguish others can. You lose all the pain and the guilt and the concerns but at the cost of compassion, trust, and love. This is not to say he lost his ethics or morality. He isn't without inhibitions nor is he a void of emotions that can cause harm without repercussions. But he wouldn't mourn the deaths of those that would cheer and jeer at his own death. Anything they call him or think about him matters little to Harry, as to him, their opinion is worth next to nothing. He thought for a while about the question of which was the worse evil: those who commit evil acts or those who have the ability to stop them and choose not to. He rationalized that dilemma away by realizing the concept of evil is entirely dependent on how the world is defined presently. The victors write the history books. The only difference between an uprising of civil unrest and a revolution of an incapable government is defined by who surrenders at the last battle. Today's atrocity may be tomorrow's moment of triumph.
And so the next chapter of Harry Potter's life was set to begin. He had served his ten years acting as an apparent model prisoner. Leader of the light and still Headmaster of Hogwarts Albus Dumbledore made his way to Azkaban to assist in the release of the Boy-Who-Lived.