Disclaimer: As everybody has guessed I'm not JK Rowling, therefore no money is made with this fic, not copyright infraction, etc. If you recognize it hers if you don't it's mine. ;-)
Chapter 1: Death and betrayal
Life had not been very gentle with Harry Potter. When he was a baby he had big bright green eyes everybody loved. His mother used to say it was the window to his soul. His father, who wasn't as poetical as his wife, just claimed it was the stomach's dipstick. He claimed he didn't see anything but the hunger in them. Of course, nobody knew if it was true or not as James Potter had the earned reputation of a prang master. Unfortunately, nobody will ever know if it was true or not as James and Lily Potter were murdered by Lord Voldemort, the evilest dark lord to ever walk on Earth shortly after Harry's first birthday.
Harry had survived the encounter. He gained a few things and lost a lot of them. Love was gone forever as were his parents. He gained a lighting bold scar on his forehead, the title of the Boy-Who-Lived and a first veil of shadows in his magnificent eyes. But nobody noticed the former as he was sent to live with his relatives who didn't care. If fact they even applied themselves to diminish the light in the little boy's stare. Until he received a letter…
This letter brought him to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, to a world where nobody knew him but his 'famous' scar. A world where magic was everywhere. A world where he met more hate he could have conceived (especially in the form of his potion master, Professor Snape), where he had to fight Trolls, Dragons, Dementors (happiness suckers, literally), Giant Snakes who could kill with a stare and many other creatures. He also found friendship and death… Death because he had to kill to survive (once) but especially because he had to see people dying and getting killed. All of these things kept adding shadows in his eyes. So much that some found his stare as old as Headmaster Dumbledore's.
The old man had been an authority figure full of induce respect to many but especially to Harry Potter. His funerals the day before had pained the young man. He had felt his eyes extinguish themselves. No more light, no more will to fight, just pain, suffering and grieving.
Harry was seated on his bed in the 6th years Gryffindor dormitory pondering what to do. The next day he'll be returning with the rest of the students to London, but he needed answers. In fact he acknowledged to himself, he didn't really need them but he desperately wanted them. He knew he should stop to think about the old Headmaster; after all he was the one (and probably only one) to say "Death is but the next great adventure". He wouldn't want people to dwell on his departure for this new journey. Still he had taken actions and decisions Harry didn't understand and he really wanted to.
Startling his roommate Neville Longbottom by his sudden action, Harry jumped to his feet and left the dormitory. Once in the common room he was stopped, once.
"Harry…" said a small voice.
His eyes met Ginny Weasley's. God she's so beautiful he thought. But he had important things to do and his resolve to break up with her was disappearing faster each second he was by her side. He looked at her with his dead eyes. She bowed her head, a small tear gliding along her chick before moving aside. He exited the room the fastest he could and went half walking – half running to the North Tower. There he stepped on the silvery ladder that met him and found himself in Sybill Trelawney's classroom. The divination teacher was there staring at him with her big bug-like eyes.
"Come in, Mr. Potter. Come in" she said in a soft voice "I was expecting you."
"You did?" asked Harry bewildered before noticing how rude this kind of question was to a 'supposed' Seer.
She laughed a bit. "Yes indeed. I was. Of course, thank to the Eye I knew you'd come today, but common sense was enough to know you wanted to know more on how I became employed in Hogwarts. Am I right or am I right Mr. Potter?"
"Err… You… You are right, Professor." Answered Harry astonished the old fraud could have something right for once.
"Then come here, sit next to me." She said nicely, extending her hand to him.
Harry walked to her and was politely going to sit down when he touched her hand. The instant he felt her skin he knew he had made a mistake.
Professor Trelawney's eyes roll in the back of her head, she went stiff and started talking in a voice that wasn't her own but he'd recognized from everywhere: she was going to make a prediction, and as usual it wasn't going to be good.
"THE PIECES ARE IN PLACE… THE PAWN IS TOO FAR ON THE BOARD TO PROTECT OR ATTACK… THE QUEEN AS BEEN TAKEN… THE FATE OF THE PARENT FROM ABOVE HE WILL MEET… PREDICTIONS OF THE PAST WILL BE BENT… OTHERS WILL FIND THEIR RECIPIENT… DEATH IS BUT THE NEXT GREAT ADVENTURE… NOTHING IS PERMANENT BUT THE PIECES ARE IN PLACE… THE PAWN IS TOO FAR ON THE BOARD TO PROTECT OR ATTACK…"
Harry quickly conjured a quill and parchment. He managed to write everything down and putt it in his pocket before Professor Trelawney awoke form her state.
"What were you saying dear?"
"I just wanted to say good bye in fact professor. Professor Dumbledore hired you because you are good at what you're doing and that's all I need to know. I want to thank you for your teaching. You gave me a lot of things to contemplate, Professor" answered promptly Harry. After all he had rehearsed this speech in advance for everyone as he didn't have any intention to come back the next year. His destiny wasn't to go to school but to find and destroy Voldemort (and his horcruxes in the way).
"Well, that's very sweet of you my dear. Come and have tea with me in the fall, will you?" she responded pleased by his flattery.
"Of course, professor. If you'll excuse me, I really must be going'
"I know. Go, my dear. Happy holidays, Mr. Potter"
"You to professor."
Harry quickly made his way to his common room, hoping to discuss what he had just witnessed with his best friends. Hermione Granger with her analytical mind will be able to help him and Ron Weasley was a chess champion. If someone could understand anything about the board and the pawn… and the attack… and the defense… it was him.
Harry kept rushing went suddenly his world became black and he lost consciousness.
When he awoke, Harry found himself spread eagle at the bottom of the stairs. Looking at them he found they were wet. He had the worst Dark Lord on his tail and he nearly killed himself with wet stairs!
"Stupid Filch! Can't even… Ouch!" Harry's tirade was stopped by the pounding on the back of his head.
He managed to sit down but had to acknowledge he couldn't get up for a moment. He stayed there, sat on the cold hard stone floor and read this new prophecy (more a puzzle to him) again and again.
The more he sat there, the less it made sense but for two parts:
THE QUEEN AS BEEN TAKEN obviously meant Dumbledore. He had been recently murdered (taken) and he could do nearly everything, like the queen in chess.
PREDICTIONS OF THE PAST WILL BE BENT probably meant he will get killed or kill Voldemort but something else would happen as well…
And who was the pawn? Was it him? Or not? Did…
Harry couldn't stand it anymore. In a quick movement he got up bringing a wave of dizziness in front of his eyes. Once it was passed he bolted away to the Gryffindor Common Room, still taking caution paces on the stairs. He quickly gave the password to the Fat Lady and…
… met a spectacle he would have wanted to never meet.
The entire Gryffindor House was in a circle around Professor McGonagall and the school Nurse. Ron was on his back, his eyes staring to the stone ceiling, not moving. Everyone was quiet when Madam Pomfrey got up and whispered
"I'm sorry Minerva, there was nothing I could do. The curse was… It… It was the Killing Curse. He died in an instant. I really wished…"
"It's all right Poppy, I understand. You did the best you could I can't expect better from you. You've already done more than I…" answered Professor McGonagall but she was cut by Harry's cry.
Whatever reaction he had been expecting wasn't the one he received. Everyone turned to him and turned their wand to him. Even the professors.
"Shut up!" "Don't you dare move" "I can do the killing curse too, Potter" "Came to finish the job?"
The common room begun to fill itself with angry shouts directed to Harry until they all silenced due to a big bang. Hermione was near Ginny's sobbing form, tears flowing freely on her face, her wand raised in the air. She calmly walked to Harry and murmured.
"Why Harry? Because he had just asked me out or really from jealousy?"
"What? Hermione… I… What are you… I don't understand…" stuttered Harry but he never managed to for a coherent sentence as Hermione rammed her knee in his groin. He doubled under the pain to receive a well placed blow in the side of the head from Neville Longbottom.
For the second time this night Harry Potter lost consciousness and there it wasn't due to his lack of attention.
Steven Ronston was 6'2 feet tall, he had red hair and pale blue eyes. It was early summer therefore he only had a thin mustache but in winter he turned it in a full beard. To keep the cold out he said, but the truth was he didn't really want to spend time to shave and had to make a deal with his wife: Half of the year shaved and the rest undisturbed.
On this early June's day he was on a boat. Unfortunately for him he wasn't fishing but in duty. He and five other colleagues escorted a prisoner to Askaban. His eyes rested pensively on his charge. Unlike all the others he kept quiet, like if he knew his pleads would meet deaf ears, or if he knew they couldn't do anything, even if the wanted in the first place. Or maybe he didn't care. Maybe he though that without the dementors he'll be fine. If only he knew…
Auror Ronston's squadron had two things to deliver. One was the prisoner but the second… It came directly from the Department of Mysteries. It was a device for the guards. One for every guard but only for them. It would protect the Aurors but will create the exact same effect as the dementors on the prisoners except for two things: they worked on animagi (at least the Black fiasco had served one purpose) and couldn't take a soul away. Ronston shuddered once again: it was said these devices contained bits of dementors in them. He kept his eyes fixed on the prisoner when a whiff of wind blew his fringe of, revealing a scar. A lighting bolt scar! He was escorting Harry Potter to Askaban!
In the mean time, Harry was thinking back to the last three days. He had been judged.
More than half the Gryffindors sworn they had seen him have a brawl with Ron, they said Harry was jealous of the Weasley family and killed Ron in a fit of anger claiming he didn't have the right to have what he didn't. Hermione spoke of his obsession of trading his money for the Weasley family. Ginny of his dead eyes, of the eyes of a murderer. Even Sybill Trelawney spoke of his strange good-bye message, like if knew he wouldn't be coming, of how he run from her classroom like a demon.
He was still a minor, the Veritaserum was refused to him especially as his Uncle and Aunt refused to speak to the ministry employee and therefore didn't give their consent as his guardians. In fact it didn't really matter because he had 'dropped' his wand near the body in his hast. The Prior Incantatem proved it was used to cast the Avada Kedavra. As Mrs. Bones had put it "an unforgivable Mr. Potter. Didn't you expect to be forgiven because you survived one? I think not. All in favor of a life sentence in Azkaban under the effect of the induced dementors?"
When he proclaimed his innocence a journalist asked him if they had to believe everything he said because two years ago he had said the truth. Harry had shut up as everyone laughed and sniggered.
Once the sentence decided he had been allowed to see one person, but Ginny refused, then Hermione, all the Weasleys, Remus, Hagrid, even Neville. No one wanted to see the 'monster'. He had spent two days in agony when he had understood one part of the prophecy: PREDICTIONS OF THE PAST WILL BE BENT. He was sent to Askaban, therefore he couldn't kill Voldemort but the other way around was still possible… or maybe that was what 'BENT' referred to… People will believe him dead and Hermione will tell the prophecy, but the prophecy wouldn't be succeeded, he had to take actions. He asked to see the only goblin he knew: Griphook. To his amazement, his request had been acknowledged. If anyone had found that odd, nobody said anything.
He remembered the interview. Griphook had come not knowing why but with all his account data. As a goblin he wasn't stupid enough to believe Harry Potter wanted to see him for his wonderful personality and good look, after all he hardly knew the boy. He had seen him once and that was all. Therefore if he was requested it was certainly for business. Still he knew the Ministry would allow it thus he hid the files under goblin magic: undetectable to humans.
Griphook entered the tiny cell. Harry Potter was lying on a straw mattress but got up quickly and offered him the small stool while he sat on the floor. The accountant could hardly believe his eyes and ears. A wizard sitting below a goblin? Even on the verge of death none would do that. He set the books on the stool and joined Harry on the floor.
"Good evening, Mr. Potter"
"Good evening Griphook. Thanks for coming and bringing news"
"News Mr. Potter?" inquired the goblin
"Yes, I didn't know it was evening"
"Oh… You know it came to me as a shock that you still remembered my name"
"Why? You are the first goblin I ever talk to, and in fact the only one but for a few 'Hello, I'd like to get some money from my vault' and 'Here is my key'."
"Yes, I understand." Answered Griphook before posing for a moment "Mr. Potter why did you ask for my presence?"
"Aaah! Griphook, always the businessman he?"
"Always, Mr. Potter, always."
"Okay, well I wanted to know the state of my finances if you had any data with you but as I see you don't…" started Harry.
"No to worry Mr. Potter, not to worry" cut the goblin revealing the books
"Harry please, Harry".
"Harry then. Here you have a trust fund originally filled with 6,000 galleons, currently holding 2,863 galleons 9 knuts I might add, to pay for your studies, supplies and a bit of…'prank material'?"
"Certainly an idea from my father" Harry answered smiling "Not sure my mother approved though"
"Then there is a second vault containing the personal assets of Mr. Sirius Black. The amount was 24,973 galleons 3 sickles and 1 knut until last year when he has been declared free, dead and unjustly imprisoned by the minister of magic. All the three at the same time, I might add. At this time the amount of 1,200,000 galleons has been added to the vault."
"Nice pay" commented Harry "but no money can heal you from twelve years of dementors exposure."
"Then you have the Black and Potter Family Vault. Both contained books, weapons, money and heirlooms, quantities unknown to us. We only know that both are assured to the maximum in case of breaking and have blood recognition wards.
"Finally, there are your parents' vaults. Your mother's holds only money to a total of 3,934,562 galleons, thanks to smart investments she made years ago I might add. Your father's… well, we don't know what's in it but he required the same securities as for the family vault.
"Ah, there is also the property of a 'flying motorcycle'?" asked Griphook. Seeing Harry nod he kept on "of a destroyed property in Godric Hollow, of a house elf name Kreatcher, of a house in … err, placed under the Fidelus Charm apparently, of a manor in London, a cottage in Hogsmead, a few shops in Knockturn Alley, one in Diagon Alley (Ollivander I might add) and a small castle in Scotland."
Harry took some time to ingest all these information. Then setting up his mind he looked at Griphook. "Ok, here is what I want to do…"
Harry was taken out of his musing by Auror Ronston.
"We're here, Mr. Potter. Please come nicely or I'll have to stun you"
Harry followed calmly and was lead to a cell. The castle was ominous and stank of decay but the most oppressing was his first view to his new 'home': nothing but four walls and a bucket.
The Auror sniggered. "I hope you like it Potter" one of them said. Harry didn't have time to reply as they engaged their devices. He heard voices
'Kill the spare'
'What do you think of Harry Potter?'
'He's a beast, a monster, a murder. When I think I once loved him I feel dirty'
'There's nothing you can do, Harry… nothing… He's gone'
'Not Harry Please… have mercy… have mercy…'
And Harry knew no more.
Harry woke up in his cell. An auror opened the door.
"Today is Christmas Potter. Enjoy it. It's a dementor free day. If you're lucky someone will come to see you but I fail to see why someone would want to see a murderer"
Harry painfully sat up and waited. Somebody will come to see him. Maybe Remus or Hagrid…
Harry was still waiting when the devices where re-engaged and felt into unconsciousness again.
Days passed, followed by weeks then by months. The outside world kept on living but Harry was oblivious to it. He started to loose his sanity until he could hardly do or understand anything. His mind destroyed itself, trapped in its own memories. The people who once knew him graduated, found job, got married, started families… They lived their lives. He only lived to live. No goal no purpose.
Voldemort had been very happy with both Dumbledore and Harry out of the picture. The attacks had increased to a point where no one could do anything. Ten to twenty Wizarding houses were attacked every night, muggles died by hundreds. The few caught Death Eaters were rookies who never made it to the cells: they were freed before.
The Ministry was trying to do something but its main job was to hide magic to the muggles and even that started to be very difficult with the number of pictures and movies of Dark Marks. Nobody wanted to work for it anymore, it was too dangerous. The number of Aurors decreased so much nobody wanted to be one: they weren't more than fifty for all Britain, that is to say, no more back-up, no help when the shit hit the fans and low results. The requirements dropped to a point were all you had to do was to have a wand and be able to perform a stunning spell. It helped increase the manpower and the security feelings but gave a final blow to law enforcement's image and capability.
Hogwarts was still untaken but at least one student was killed each semester. Still it was much more secure than home-schooling.
The only bright point was that people started to defend themselves, a bit, when attacks happened but weren't able to really do anything against the Death Eaters's level, especially with the destruction provided by the Dark Arts.
No one knew who to trust, who was a Death Eater or who was under the Imperious Curse. Fear was everywhere and kept growing. People didn't say voice it but knew that it was only a question of time before He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named conquered England. Things were worst than during the First War. Hope seemed to disappear. There was no more hero, only death.
Harry woke up in his cell. An auror opened the door.
"Today is Christmas Potter. I suggest you try to enjoy the maximum of it. It's a dementor free day after all. If you're lucky someone will come to see you, but they didn't this last decade, I don't think they will this year either"
Harry didn't move nor said anything. With the little bit of his mind out of the fog he waited as he did every Christmas for one single thing. Somebody will come to see him. Maybe Remus… Yes Remus, he hadn't come the previous years but maybe this time…
Harry was still waiting when the devices where re-engaged and he felt into unconsciousness again.
Hermione Granger was at her desk when her boss entered her office.
"Yes sir?" she answered.
"I was looking at this prophecy you gave me…"
"Are you sure it's genuine?" he enquired.
"Well I'm not certain, but pretty sure, Har-… Mr. Potter gave it to me a year before his incarceration, and I don't see why he would have lied to me at the time." Answered Hermione puzzled. It was the first time her work for the Ministry was questioned.
"Right, I want you to go to Azkaban and give some truth serum to Mr. Potter. I want to know who made this prophecy, when, where, how he came to know it. You can take an auror with you."
The man stopped in his tracks and said "Oh, and I also want to know where Dumbledore and him went the night of the old man's murder. Give him Veritaserum then" and he kept on going as if nothing had happened. As if he hadn't asked to one of his men (well women in this case) to interrogate the man she hated the most because he once was her best friend.
Hermione didn't wait long. She had wanted an occasion like this one for years. She wanted to know why Harry Potter had killed Ron Weasley, and she had the authorization to do. She didn't care about the prophecy and Voldemort's horcruxes, she already had these answers. She wanted the ones to her own questions and she'll have them.
Making her decision, Hermione hurried to the elevator. If she was lucky Neville would still be on shift and would agree to come with her.
A pop alerted the guard. Someone had reached the island by apparition. Therefore it was someone who came from the ministry and didn't have the dark mark, but better safe than sorry. Eric Jones dropped his arm when he encountered Neville's wand. As an auror he knew the Longbottoms' story. The parents' gone crazy and the son, the only auror to gain Alastor 'Mad Eye' Moody's respect. No a small feat. And he was accompanied by Unspeakable Granger! Well, sure thing: those two weren't Death Eaters. He left them pass, happy not to have been cursed.
Hermione felt her head spin a little when she came in range of the dementor effect devices but her Occlumency walls held solid. In a few minutes she found herself in front of a cell. She didn't want to open it but she had to. She deactivated the device and open the door.
Harry Potter had not changed in the ten years she hadn't seen him but for his weight. He looked like he was still sixteen. He was still small with unruly hair (long one now) and an unshaved bear. He looked like a toy she once had, a child with adult's features. Close to her she felt Neville debating with himself if he should rush to help him or torture his former friend. She didn't want to have these doubts. She checked his health sheet. Apparently he was force feed once a day since his arrival as if he had had the Kiss of the dementors. She hardly had the time to ponder if he might have had it when Harry moved.
He opened his eyes and looked at his company. His stare was empty, it was like he didn't see nor hear anything.
She had to bid back some tears, he looked so frail, ready to be broken. Neville took matters in his hands and said, in a business tone voice:
"Mr. Potter, we are mandated here by the Ministry of Magic to ask you questions. As you are a legal adult you'll be injected Veritaserum to ensure the truth of your answers. Do you understand?"
Harry didn't do anything. Neville opened his mouth and left three drops of the potion fall on Harry's tong.
"Hurry Hermione. He is in bad shape. He might not survive the drops, be quick" murmured Neville after a quick computation which included Harry's weight, size, age and the potency of the potion.
Horrified, Hermione turned to Harry.
"What is your name?"
"Harry James Potter"
"How old are you?"
"… I don't know..."
"How old were you when you went to jail?"
Harry started to show discomfort. Neville panicked "Hurry, Hermione!"
"Answer the question!"
"I was sixteen soon to… soon to be… seventeen".
"Why did you kill Ron Weasley?" she asked. This was the only reason she was there, she had been looking for this answer for years; still she didn't got quite what she expected.
"… I… I didn't… I didn't kill him."
"Who did?" asked Neville.
"I… don't… know."
"Where were you when the murder happened?" asked Hermione falling to her knees and trying to keep back tears at the wrongness she was facing. He hadn't done it. She had hurt him and sent to jail and he hadn't done it. After Sirius she should have been more careful, she should… She was taken out of her musing by Harry's unarticulated voice.
"Trelawney gave… new prophecy… stairs… unconscious… think… wet stairs… not sure…"
"Hermione!" interjected Neville. "We've got to give him the anti-serum. He's going to die"
But she didn't listen to him. She went closer to Harry, tear flooding freely on her face. She took his hand and felt a piece of paper. She spared a look at it, a prophecy… One sentence gave her pain like fire on her flesh: THE FATE OF THE PARENT FROM ABOVE HE WILL MEET. Like is godfather he went to jail as an innocent…
She looked down. "Harry… I…"
" 'm sorry. Didn't do it…"
Hermione's mind was working furiously. Harry couldn't have fooled the potion so… Potion! Maybe someone took Polyjuice to look like Harry. But how did he/she get his wand? Didn't he say he was unconscious? Knowing she'll have to interrogate him later she gently placed her finger on his lips. "Shhh, keep your strength, we're taking you out Harry."
But in the heat of the moment, Hermione forgot about the truth-serum which wormed its way in Harry's body. Thus, it's in the arms of the woman whom he loved as a sister but betrayed him that Harry James Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived(-To-Be-Sent-In-Jail-Despite-His-Innocence), the prophesized child, expired.
Potions, spells even CPR, nothing worked. The next day's headlines were reading: "HARRY POTTER, FOUND INNOCENT, DIED IN AZKABAN".
Please Review. It's my first fic and really need them to progress and write a story you'll. Ideas welcome. Thanks