Disclaimer: No, I do not own HP.
Chapter 3: The So-Called 'Rescue'
Dumbledore shivered slightly as the small boat slowly neared Azkaban. He resisted the urge to pull his purple robes tighter about his person, instead focusing his attention on the pale twitching figure next to him.
Merlin...what has the wizarding world come to that such incompetence is reveled instead of feared?
For the Minister of Magic, one Cornelius Fudge, was huddled against the furthest edge of the rowboat, his entire body radiating the fear of a cornered animal. While his Aurors, proud as they were, knelt about their leader's frightened form with their arms outstretched, offering candy and other such sugary gifts.
"Cornelius?" Dumbledore said quietly as the rowboat came to an abrupt stop landing softly in the sand, causing the younger man to squeak in fright and almost topple out. "Let's proceed. The less time Harry spends in Azkaban the better."
The Minister nodded doggedly, scampering out of the boat nervously.
Dumbledore raised an eyebrow at the man's uncharacteristic behavior, but remained silent. After all, Dementors were horrid creatures, mind you...
"The Prophecy you mentioned Dumbledore," Fudge managed to stutter out, his eyes dark with fear, as their small entourage slowly made their way up the hill, the dark forbidding gate of Azkaban rising up to meet them. "I-is there a chance perhaps that you've somehow...misinterpreted it?"
Dumbledore instantly bent down and glared at the man. "Cornelius, you shouldn't speak of it," he hissed softly. "Even if you don't know the full content, the fact that you even know anything would be enough to draw Voldemort's attention."
The entire squadron of Aurors flinched in fear.
Fudge likewise squeaked, before nodding his head violently. "Of course, headmaster. I completely forgot," he whispered, turning around as if fearing You-Know-Who might suddenly appear. "But...how sure..."
The headmaster sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose in annoyance. "I'm positive, Cornelius. Every prophecy to this date has always come true. No one has ever managed to escape from it. Destiny always triumphs in the end."
The Minister let out a low moan of misery, while one of his Aurors fainted.
All the while, Dumbledore and the remaining Aurors stared on, completely baffled at what could have possibly caused the Minister to collapse and burst out into messy tears...
'We need a new leader. Most definitely,' Dumbledore thought in despair.
Harry paused, jerking his eyes away from the ceiling at the sound of footsteps and hushed whispers coming his way. A dark smile flickered across his face as he heard a familiar simpering voice. A voice that he knew almost by heart.
Cornelius Fudge. Minister of Magic.
The person who had single-handedly destroyed everything that Harry James Potter had once stood for - heroism, bravery, strength...and transformed the bloody bits and pieces into something better. Something special. Harry grinned as a harsh chuckle emerging from his lips.
Yes. I am special now. Truly special.
He leaned his head back against the protruding stone in the corner of his cell, emerald green eyes dull yet disturbingly thoughtful. Harry knew that he'd always been rather emotional. He cared to much about the opinions of others; he feared their rejection; he dreamed of their acceptances...of their love. And everyone, his so called friends, Dumbledore, his teachers...had been quick to exploit this weakness.
'You're so called friends have been working for me all along...'
Harry chewed the inside of his cheek thoughtfully. Perhaps it might be in his best interest to feign sanity...or perhaps insanity? He let out an experimental moan of pain, followed up with flinging his arms about randomly. He needed to do this; he needed them to trust him for his plan to work. He needed them to believe that he of all people was still the weak pathetic pawn that he'd always been.
The footsteps froze mid-step before quickly hastening over.
Harry heard a sharp gasp and a man cursing softly under his breath, before he was gently lifted and cradled into his assailant's arms. He forced himself to project the image of an abused victim; of a child trapped within the depths of his deepest and darkest nightmares.
'Come now. Show me what humanity is truly capable of...'
He thrashed wildly about; he screamed bloody murder.
'...show me you're true selves. No more hiding. No more lies.'
He could hear the men trying to comfort him; he could hear their lies, their false assurances. Harry's eyes flickered open dazedly, before snapping shut, a wild animalistic cry of hate emerging from his mouth. He felt the Aurors snap into attention. He felt their hands against his arms - restraining him, holding him down...protecting him from himself.
And Harry continued. For he needed their sympathy. He needed them to belittle him; he needed them to pity him. And above all, he needed them to trust him...
And what fool wouldn't trust a crazy abused child?
"Harry m'boy," a familiar voice said softly. Dumbledore's voice, Harry recognized. "Fear not. You're safe now, you hear? I won't allow anyone to hurt you..."
Harry resisted the urge to roll his eyes and 'accidentally' jabbed his foot smack into the old fool's face. The sound of shattering glasses and bone cracking resounded about the room...
And chaos erupted.
Aurors crashed headlong into one another; Fudge started babbling with fear and hugging Dumbledore's now bloodstained robes; and the Dementors...they floated about with an almost cheerful air as they sucked in the havoc and crazy emotions running about...
That is, until one brave Auror finally gathered his nerve.
And the boy-who-lost-his-soul fell into the warm arms of oblivion.
Azkaban: The Departure
Dumbledore pulled out his handkerchief and pinched the bridge of his nose, hoping against hope that he'd somehow be able to stop the bleeding. Or at the very least, prevent his nose from developing a distinctly Snape-like shape. Merlin Forbid! And though he was perhaps the strongest and most renowned wizard of modern times, he had to admit...
...he was absolutely shoddy at healing.
Give him a wand or a stick and he'd be able to easily wipe his opponent off the floor and even through an open window (it was once! just once!) But healing...
He'd most definitely pull a Lockhart.
Dumbledore tilted his head in contemplation as he watched the guard stun his most prized student point black, only to be knocked out by one of Harry's flailing limbs. And Fudge was currently watching the scene with horror written plainly across his face as he unconsciously latched himself against Dumbledore.
The headmaster had considered, during one of his sleepless nights, that perhaps there was a method to his madness. That perhaps he had associated with fools like Lockhart and Fudge on a daily basis for a...confidence boost? Or perhaps, dear Merlin, he had felt connected with the two idiots on some intrinsic level. After all, they of all people couldn't be any better at healing then he, right?
"Alveo Episkey," Fudge murmured, pointing his wand at Dumbledore's nose, and waited for white bandages to appear and form a sort of cast around the older man's injury.
Dumbledore's eye twitched. 'Damn it.'
The group of Aurors hastily jumped into action when they saw their comrade drop to the floor. One of them silently prodded Harry's leg as strands of white bandages emerged from his wand, creating a sort of white plaster cast. Another hesitantly poked the boy with his wand before sending another stunner at the fallen child 'just in case.' After all, seeing as how the safety of two of the most powerful men in wizarding Britain fell on their shoulders, they couldn't afford to take any risks.
"Albus?" Fudge said, staring strangely at the stunned figure on the ground. I could have sworn that wizards couldn't possibly live without a soul. The Potter boy should have died within an hour or so of his 'execution.' He cleared his throat awkwardly, as he fiddled with his lime bowler hat. "Before I could release Potter into your jurisdiction, you need to sign his release form."
Dumbledore looked slightly miffed.
"It's standard ministry policy, you see," Fudge announced pompously. "Any high security prisoner who is being released into society must have a guardian at least for the first few months. After all, the last thing we want is to let someone potentially...unstable back into our community. Thus, this is where you come in. If you sign the form, you will become Harry Potter's magical guardian until he...regains his very few mental capabilities..."
"Alright," Dumbledore agreed. "Where's the for-"
"But," Fudge interrupted, "as a guardian, you will be legally responsible for everything that Potter will do. His health, his happiness, and his overall existence depends solely on you. And when I say everything I mean everything." And thus, with a magnificent flourish, Fudge reached into his coat and pulled out a large brilliant manuscript and tossed it at Dumbledore's feat.
The headmaster picked it up and skimmed it over. Everything seemed about right. "There," he sighed, transfigurating a random piece of rubble into a black feathered pen and signed the form. "Now, Cornelius, may I take Harry back to Hogwarts?"
Fudge nodded awkwardly.
"Then in that case, farewell," Dumbledore stated, his beard twitching in amusement. "It was a pleasure working with you." With that said, Dumbledore promptly stepped on the only unwarded tile in the entire prison before Apparating away.
Fudge shifted uncomfortably.
'It's only a matter of time till they find out the truth.'
The Minister of Magic slumped dejectly against the stone wall, oblivious to the concerned queries from his Auror squad. And he was certain, undoubtedly so, that once Dumbledore found out...he would definitively be in for one hell of a shit storm. For he alone, had single-handedly destroyed Great Britain's one and only chance to win again You-Know-Who. Fudge paled even further at the thought of all the Howlers he'd be recieving.
I so need a vacation...