A/N: Well, after a long absence of anything from me, the publication of HBP has inspired this. There are obviously spoilers for this book within the story so PLEASE don't read it if you haven't finished the book.
I'm not sure how many chapters there will be yet, but probably not more than 5. I'm a bit rusty, so please bear with me! This chapter may seem a little odd, but all will be revealed soon enough.
Obviously I own nothing and would prefer not to be sued if at all possible.
The young Auror's boots crunched noisily on the black shale that marked the path from the windswept beach to the wizard prison of Azkaban, and it had it had begun to rain the second that she had stepped foot onto the godforsaken island. The wind snapped eagerly around robes the colour of damp ashes, seeking a way beneath the hood of the Auror's travelling cloak to remove it from her head, but unknown forces held the hood in place, keeping it completely still as the wind howled its' frustration in the gale.
Less than a hundred paces along the path, the prison loomed above her, as dark and forbidding as anything she had ever seen. Seemingly a triumph of neo-gothic architecture, the building had been hewn from a black stone that the Auror could not identify, and it seemed to steal away even the grey half-light of the January day. Perhaps a hundred windows, glazed only with bars, stared bleakly out to sea, impossibly close together, and gathered around a single entranceway, which was topped by an intimidating portcullis. The only way in, the Auror thought to herself.
The only way out.
A new coldness settled about her shoulders as she passed underneath the portcullis, an indefinable feeling of dread and despair, the hallmarks of prior dementor occupation. Even though they had left Azkaban a long time ago, the Auror felt their lingering presence as surely as though they were standing right in front of her. As it happened, and to her relief, only a wizard stood waiting impatiently for her before a black studded door; he was, she noticed, clad in robes of deepest purple - the uniform for the prison guards - and he was hopping from foot to foot.
"Hello," the Auror greeted the short, balding man from within the confines of her hood. He squinted into the space beneath her hood where he knew her face to be and gave a short nod in reply. "I'm here to see - "
"- I know who you're here to see!" He rasped, examining the card which she proffered to confirm her identity and glancing at the insignia she wore on the left hand side of her chest. "Auror First Class, eh?" He muttered. "You'll need more than that with him."
He turned to the door, which opened soundlessly and without his interference into a gloomy hall. They both stepped into the room and the door closed silently behind them. Somewhere in the distance, the Auror could hear the trickling of water. Looking around the hall, she could see moisture on the black walls, which pooled into dark puddles at every opportunity. The guard followed the direction of the Auror's gaze.
"Been here before, have you?" He asked.
"No." She was curt. "I am not here by choice."
"Who is?" The guard managed a wheezy laugh and produced a Secrecy Sensor from an inside pocket of his robes. He ran it efficiently up and down the Auror's back and front. It did not identify anything illegal, and was tucked away with a barely-concealed sigh. "Wand."
It was not a request.
The Auror handed her wand over without protest; she had been prepared for this.
"What's in the bag?" The guard pocketed her wand without as much as a single glance at it. He was looking at the canvas bag that she wore diagonally across her torso. The Auror removed it without disturbing her hood and showed him the contents.
"Clean robes. Soup. Bread. All of which I was led to believe would be permitted."
The guard nodded, but there was disgust in his eyes now. "He doesn't deserve anything."
In the concealing darkness of her cowl, the Auror almost smiled.
"I was instructed to bring them."
The guard had produced parchment and a quill, and was detailing the items she had brought.
"Reason for visit?" He enquired.
"Official Ministry business."
He sighed, and proffered the parchment.
"Sign here. I'll be back in a minute. Wait here."
He turned and disappeared into a dark corridor, and the Auror listened to the sound of his footsteps as their echo faded away. Alone in the hall, she pulled her robes a little closer to her body and crossed her arms in front of her. If it were possible, it seemed colder within the prison than it was without. She waited for nearly fifteen minutes before the guard reappeared; now jingling a large bunch of keys.
"You've been cleared," he grunted. "Follow me."
The Auror's boots made no sound on the floor, even though it was deeply pitted in places and waterlogged in others. The guard unlocked a door at the end of the hall. It looked new. The Auror understood, but the guard said it anyway.
"Didn't need locked doors when they were here, of course."
He was leading her down a long corridor which looked as if it ran the length of one half of the building. It had no windows, and torches burning at intervals along the walls provided the only light. The corridor was lined with endless other doors, all cells.
They were all empty.
"If no one is here by choice, that does not explain your presence here," the Auror addressed the guard quietly. She found herself slightly curious in a way that demanded an answer.
"Oh, it's quite simple." He shortened his stride so that they were walking alongside each other. The Auror nodded.
"Money?" She asked.
"Money." He replied grimly. "Six months a year here pays better than twelve anywhere else."
"Do you have a family, Guard…" She glanced at his badge. It said 'Head Guard'.
"Yeah. They understand though…we all have to make sacrifices sometimes, don't we?"
More than you know, the Auror thought, but murmured her agreement all the same.
A few steps further on, the Guard came to a halt in front of what was nearly the last cell on the corridor and reached up to free a torch from its bracket on the wall. He thrust it towards the Auror, who took it, and then moved forward to the cell door. Checking through a narrow opening at the top, he unlocked the door. It swung creakily open, revealing a cell which was barely three metres by two. The cell contained three things that the Auror could see.
A litter which seemed to be made from straw.
And a man.