Grey Maiden III: Servant of Darkness
Summary: As Harry slowly recovers from his ordeal in the Chamber of Secrets, he is forced to confront both his actions and those of his guardian.An overheard conversation leads to a revelation that shocks him to the bone, and makes his destiny clear.With his best friends standing firmly beside him, Harry slowly begins the momumental task of becoming the leader the wizarding world needs him to be. New allies and friends will pave the road to victory, but it is a long and difficult road. But as the first stones are laid, Harry is forced to deal with a ghost of his past, a maniac who seems set on his destruction...But as it always is with the Boy-Who-Lived, things are not always how they appear to be...
Prologue: Whispers in the Dark
It was perhaps the part of his job that English Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge hated the most.
He could take the bumbling idiots that served beneath him. He could take the incompetence of the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad, and the headaches that accompanied a Muggle escaping to tell half the town about what he saw. He could even take the purebloods breathing down his neck about destroying the Muggle Protection Act.
He could even take the constant questions about Harry Potter, and what the Ministry was going to do with him.
The answer to that question was, of course, nothing. Potter was at Hogwarts, under the guard of Dumbledore and his guardian. Fudge would be a fool to go toe-to-toe with Daphne Dressler. The woman had a number of powerful allies. She'd certainly trounce him in a duel.
For that matter, Cornelius thought as he shivered in the cold air of the North Sea, I doubt any of my Aurors would be able to defeat her. Especially if these ridiculous rumors about the Grey Maiden defeating a shade of You-Know-Who were true…
Of course, the Daphne Artemis Dressler's reputation preceded her. It was entirely possible that she had done just that.
Cornelius hugged his arms closer to himself, looking out over the prow of the small boat that was taking him to the place he hated more than any place in the entire world. A gloomy dark hellhole on a craggy island nearly twenty miles from the shores of the Orkneys.
The very name sent shivers down the backs on many wizards and witches, and Cornelius was no exception. As if the island was not terrifying enough, with the cold downpours and hurricane force winds sending salty spray into the rocky shores, the guards somehow made it worse.
Dementors. Foul, hideous creatures that had been bound to wizards for five centuries. The Dementors fed on happy thoughts and emotions, but of course, their favorite source of nourishment was human souls…
Cornelius shivered. Foul, foul creatures…
"Are you alright, sir?" Auror James Dawlish asked. Dawlish had been with Cornelius since his childhood and the man was a damn good Auror. Both Dawlish and Fudge's fathers had home schooled their boys, believing Armando Dippet a disgrace to Pureblood Wizards. Both were from Light families, who, nonetheless, held true to the old ways. That said, Cornelius had nothing against Muggleborns; he employed a number of them. Cornelius valued loyalty and wanted his people in positions of power; it was the best way to work the system. If a Muggleborn witch believed in his views and was willing to work for him and advance his goals, and a pureblood was not...?
Why not take the Muggleborn? Why sacrifice what you want because of something as stupid as… blood?
A spray of cold saltwater caught him in the face as the boat hit a wave. To prevent escapes, it was impossible to cast magic on this stretch of the ocean. Wands had to be adjusted by special technicians to function on the island. Obviously, the Aurors needed such wands, but some of the prisoners were dangerous Death Eaters, some of who had at least partial command of wandless magic.
They finally reached the landing and Aurors Dawlish and Sarah McGlinchy, the daughter of one of Cornelius's top advisors, helped him out of the rocking boat. Cornelius was just happy to be on dry land, even if the gloom and despair of the Dementors assaulted him as soon as he'd gotten his bearings.
"Bloody wraiths…" he muttered under his breath.
"What was that, sir?" McGlinchy asked.
"Nothing, nothing," Cornelius muttered. "Let's see these prisoners and get off this bloody island." Dawlish nodded vigorously. He didn't like it anymore than his superior.
They approached the massive gates, which swung open after a signal from Dawlish to his Red-Robed comrade manning the only entrance in the outer wall of the fortress. Cornelius knew that Azkaban had been built almost two millennia ago. From the Goblin and Elven Runes that could be found scattered throughout the structure, if they had not constructed it, they had played a large role. It had been under the rule of the Goblins until 1538, when it was ceded to wizards under the terms of the peace treaty that, in exchange, gave Goblins exclusive mining rights. There was a reason that no Muggle ever discovered the vast gold and silver deposits in Wales.
His father had believed that any respectable wizard should know the history of those that preceded him. Hence, Cornelius had studied the history of the wizarding world with a passion. But what Cornelius had focused on was the politics, and how to manipulate the system to one's own gain. His father had been quite pleased when he demonstrated his knowledge, but sadly, Edward Fudge had died four months before Cornelius was elected to Minister.
They walked through the dank, dark corridors of the fortress, leading to the inner walls, where the prisoners were kept. At the time, there were about forty. Around twenty-five were former Death Eaters, and kept under top security, with Dementors patrolling directly outside the cells. The remainder was serving short terms of 1 month to 5 years, with only a few exceptions. They merely had to stomach the presence of the Dementors, though they weren't exposed to them directly.
They passed by a number of cells. Fudge gave an occasional glance to the huddled forms inside. Most of them still looked relatively healthy. They were fed a decent meal at regular intervals. While prison fare was no banquet, it was tolerable, or so said the guards. The prisoners often had other ideas.
Fudge didn't recognize any of the men until they reached the last cell. Mundungus Fletcher was huddled in the corner, shivering and trying to eat a bowl of stew. Cornelius vaguely remembered the facts of the case. If his memory served him right, Fletcher was serving the second week of his one month sentence for his fourth charge of thievery. In this case, of several valuable potion ingredients. The bumbling idiot might have gotten away with it, too, if he hadn't run directly into an off-duty Auror that was patrolling around Knockturn Alley. Petty thieves like Fletcher were rarely sent to Azkaban; they were mostly held from one day to five years in the prisons beneath the Ministry Complex. No Dementors there.
Dawlish and McGlinchy saluted the guards, who responded in kind. Cornelius acknowledged them with a wave, and they opened the gates into the top security cells. An Auror greeted them. He wore the red robes, of course, but with a patch on his breast that identified him as a Commander. For simplicity's sake, only three ranks existed in the Aurors: trainee, graduate, and commander.
The man was tall with well-trimmed light brown hair and blue eyes. He was younger than Cornelius, but had a grizzled edge to him that implied experience. In this hellhole, in the middle of the ocean, he was the picture of health. "Minister Fudge, I am Commander Thaddeus Griffin, Head Warden of Azkaban Prison."
"Can we just get this over with?" Cornelius asked, shivering. "I don't want to be here any longer then I have to."
Griffin nodded. "Very well, right this way, sir."
They began to walk. The cells they passed were empty, or at least appeared to be. It was possible that the inmates were hiding under the stone benches covered in straw that served as beds.
"Commander Griffin?" Dawlish asked.
The man stopped and turned around. "Yes?"
"Can you insure that we encounter no Dementors? None of us are very fond of them."
Griffin snorted. "I might be concerned if you were. We've sent Patronuses through the path we're following, but I can't make any promises."
"We'll take what you can offer Commander…let's just get going!" Cornelius implored. He hated this place.
"Very well sir," Griffin replied. "Our report on the prison is rather simple. We've had no inmate deaths since your last visit, and no additions to the You-Know-Who Section…that's the high security area," he clarified. "No escapes, obviously, we've never had one. The Dementors are content for the moment it seems. Other than that, sir…really, everything's going as it always does."
"Excellent, Commander," Cornelius said. He really appreciated the work of people like Griffin. "Let's get on with the tour."
Griffin snorted again. Cornelius thought maybe he should revise his opinion of the man. "Yes sir."
They began to walk, and Griffin would name the prisoner in each. He heard the names of some of the most feared Death Eaters alive, such as Dolohov, Rookwood, two of the Lestranges, Jugson, Mulciber, Yaxley, Travers, Coran, Harkness…it was a roll call of You-Know-Who's best and deadliest.
Finally, they reached the final two cells, where their guide had to chase away a persistent Dementor that appeared to be interacting with a woman that Cornelius recognized on sight. Bellatrix Black Lestrange had once been beautiful, but her skeletal frame, sunken features, and hooded eyes made her appearance hideous. A glance into her eyes was all it took to know that she had lost her sanity long ago. Only she would attempt to converse with a Dementor…
If Bellatrix was the most disturbed Death Eater, by far the strangest was in the next cell.
"And here's good ole' Sirius Black," Griffin said, indicating the figure sitting upright on his bench, in tattered clothing and with hair that looked like it hadn't seen a comb or a Hair Arranging Charm since his birth. He gave Cornelius a calculating look. Then his eyes darted to the lump in the Minister's jacket.
Cornelius shook his head in disgust when a voice called out behind him. "Oi, Fudge!"
Cornelius turned around. Black was standing in his cell, beckoning for him to return. He approached the inmate cautiously. "What do you want, Black?"
"Just that newspaper you've got," Black said quite calmly. "Always loved the crossword…plus, it's nice to know what's going on, eh?"
Cornelius shrugged. The issue was over a month old, and he'd read it thoroughly. He wasn't completely sure why he'd forgotten to take it out of his coat. Why not?
Bellatrix was cackling something now, and whispered something to his cousin that Black neither reacted to nor pretended not to hear. Why do I care about what that insane bitch is saying anyway?
"Here," Cornelius said finally. He shoved the rolled-up paper through the bars. Black walked over and picked it up.
"Thanks Minister, I'll vote for you next election."
Cornelius rolled his eyes. "Let's go," he said to McGlinchy and Dawlish.
Sirius watched as the Minister of Magic and his bodyguards, neither of whom he recognized, walk back through the cellblocks. Turning away, Sirius retreated to his 'bed.' The Dementors would likely be returning soon, and the farther from the bars he was, the better.
He learned this in many long years of unjust imprisonment at Azkaban. He'd also learned that protesting his innocence was simply a way to earn Silencing Charms from irritated guards. And the Dementors certainly didn't care.
His innocence did have one benefit, though. He never had to relive torture at the hands of his Master, Voldemort, like so many of the Death Eaters at Azkaban. He did not have to relive the horrific crimes he had committed. He had killed, but he had never seen either the man's or the woman's face, and thus they did not haunt him when the Dementors drew close.
No, his worst memories were probably those of a burning cottage on the outskirts of Godric's Hollow, and the crushing, sinking, hollow feeling of having failed to protect those who had become his family. It had started with James's argument with Remus… Merlin, where is that old wolf now…?
Sirius carefully unfolded the paper, flattening it on the bench. His eyes scanned rapidly over the headlines. Same old junk, hasn't changed in twelve years…weather…sucks this time of year…purebloods…Lucius…bloody death eater…St. Mungo's…when are they not getting tremendous donations…let's see…anniversaries of Goblin rebellion…how hypocritical can we get…Boy-Who-Lived…heard that before…
Wait a second…Harry..?
Bloody hell I've been out of touch for too long, Sirius grumbled to himself. Boy-Who-Lived..? …ah, of course, Daphne thought he'd survived that curse…guess everybody knows now…
The mere thought of Harry was enough to drive even the mundane thoughts that he used to keep the Dementors at bay out of his head. It brought back memories of those hellish twenty-four hours. He had already lost one friend, who thought they were turning on him because of what he was, then he was betrayed by another…and then two of his friends had died as a direct result of the cowardice of Wormtail.
And their son, Harry…He had been taken away by a woman that Sirius, Remus, James, and Lily had all thought they'd lost to the darkness. Sirius had been one of the first Aurors to reach the home where Edmond and Daphne had lived…the carnage was gruesome to behold.
It was even worse to know that it was done by Lily's best friend.
Sirius snapped out of his reverie and began to read the article where he had seen Harry's moniker mentioned. He noted the date. It was nearly a month and half old. At least it was if his sense of time was at all accurate. Sirius had been able to figure out the date by using the equinoxes and solstices as starting points. He'd also overheard the occasional conversation when one of the guards mentioned the day or month. Sirius had always been good at keeping time, just a strange ability that was very useful…or had the potential to drive a person into depression, depending on which way you looked at it.
Either way, Fudge had had the newspaper in his pocket for quite a while. Probably why the Minister was so willing to give it away.
The Boy-Who-Lived: Innocent Victim or Dark Prodigy?
By Rita Skeeter
Ever since our sons and daughters returned home with the stunning stories of what had happened during the 1992-1993 school term at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the central issue has revolved around the Boy-Who-Lived, Harry Potter.
Potter, 13, to the best of this reporter's knowledge, remains unconscious in Hogwarts' infirmary. No information has been given as to his specific condition or as to why he has not been moved to St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Ailments. The only information known was gleaned from student's recollections of the End of Term Speech by Headmaster Albus Dumbledore. Dumbledore explained a great deal, and also revealed that Harry Potter was seriously injured and was "fighting for his life and his sanity."
An accredited professional in the Mental Care Ward of St. Mungo's, who wished to remain unnamed, says that "I believe that Mr. Potter suffered some sort of mental trauma from his ordeal. If he truly was possessed, it is possible that the possessing sprit (whether it was You-Know-Who or not) was violently removed. I've seen cases where that action has caused serious damage before."
But it is what occurred during the school term involving Mr. Potter that is most shocking.
During the year, no less than six students, along with the caretaker's cat, were attacked by the mysterious 'Heir of Slytherin.' Little information was given, and the students were forced to rely on little more than rumors. Hogwarts staff refused to answer any questions.
Reports indicate that Mr. Potter was a likely candidate from the beginning. "He's a Parselmouth," a student reported. "He's very quiet, isn't around much. He basically sticks with his friends and that's it." Mr. Potter is also among the top students at the school and is also known for "knowing all kinds of spells they definitely don't teach second years."
However, no matter how mysterious Mr. Potter is, the fact remains that the thirteen-year old is not the Heir of Slytherin. In his End of Term Speech, Headmaster Dumbledore addressed a number of issues. From the students we've interviewed, we understand that he absolved Mr. Potter of any wrongdoing, claiming that he was an innocent victim. In fact, a number of students claim that Albus Dumbledore seemed to show a great deal of concern for how the Boy-Who-Lived was viewed and treated by his peers. "Dumbledore is definitely looking out for him," Seamus Finnegan, a Gryffindor in Potter's year, said of the venerable Headmaster.
Regardless, the mystery surrounding Harry Potter's involvement in the attacks is far from solved. How complicit was Mr. Potter? Did he know of his possession and fail to inform others? Was there a possession at all? How did Harry Potter's guardian, the legendary ex-Auror Daphne Dressler, fail to notice his behavior? How did Albus Dumbledore fail to detect such terrible events until it was too late?
This reporter will continue to work to find the truth.
Sirius felt the blood rush from his face. He couldn't believe what he was reading. His Harry, his Godson, James's only son…attacking students?
It simply could not be true. It would mean that maybe they had been right about Daphne…but surely Dumbledore would have done something if Daphne wasn't a good guardian? He cares about Harry's welfare, doesn't he?
Sirius knew that Lily and James Potter had been two of Dumbledore's favorite pupils. Both had endeared themselves to a Hogwarts Professor; James had been McGonagall's favorite, Lily had been one of the first members of the 'Slug Club,' started by their Potions Professor, Horace Slughorn.
Surely his attachment would carry over to Harry…
But what if he doesn't know? Or if Daphne won't let him take Harry from her…she was always so protective of Lily, even more so after she lost her family. Harry's the only 'family' she has left. She'd probably fight tooth and nail to keep him…and she was never against using Dark Magic. Has she taught it to Harry?
That would make sense, unfortunately, Sirius knew. Daphne would want Harry to be able to defend himself. And she would probably go to any length to keep him safe.
Harry was thirteen. Sirius could not believe it had been that long. I wonder what he looks like…
Snap out of it, Sirius. Your Godson might be in danger!
His inner voice had a point. Whatever the situation, something was wrong. And he was the Godfather; he was the one who had been given the task of taking care of Harry if something should happen to his parents.
But what can I do? I can't escape!
What about Padfoot? The Dementors can't find him.
Sirius had often used his dog animagus form to escape the effects of the Dementors. The emotions of a dog were much less, well…human. They were less complex and more animalistic. Dementors were blind, but they could find prey by focusing not on magic, but on emotions. He was probably thin enough to sneak through the bars…
It won't be easy. But I've got to do it. I've got to do it for Harry…
I need to get my Godson back…
A/N: Welcome to book3. Bet you weren't expecting the book to begin with Cornelius Fudge.
So, here you see my first big departure from canon. If Pettigrew was on the front page, he didn't look close enough to see it. This book could be described as a case study of misunderstandings. So Sirius is going to try to take Harry away from Daphne...not a good idea.
Speaking of our hero, you'll find out how he's doing next chapter, but he's not going to be insane. He'll 'relapse' at times into his worst memories, and he'll be a little less 'young,' but he's too strong a character to be changed that easily.
New allies? What could that mean? Hmmm...
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