The faint light in the darkness caused the man to stir. Lying curled up on the cold stone floor, wrapped in the ratty old blanket that served as his bedding, he turned his head stiffly to look out of the barred cell door. Light was almost unknown in this hellish place. The jailers didn't need it to do their job, and the few humans who staffed the prison very rarely ventured down to the deep cells for any reason except to verify a prisoner's death.
With difficulty, the man sat up and rested his back against one of the rough stone walls and watched as the light slowly made its way up the corridor in the direction of his cell. Now as he focused his attention on the light, he could hear voices too. These stood out from the normal whimpering, moaning and screaming which made the now unnoticed background noises. They were the voices of people who were accustomed to using them to talk regularly every day.
Long minutes passed as the light and voices slowly made their way steadily closer. After a time, the man came to recognize one of the approaching voices. Although there were now some things he forgot after spending close to twelve years in Azkaban, the voice of the man who had sent him there without a trial was not one of them.
The Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, did not like having to come to Azkaban for the yearly inspection. He always needed a good stiff drink or two before and after his visits. It was beyond his imagining how the people who worked here on a daily basis managed it. He had to give them a lot of credit though, for doing a job that not many people were willing to do no matter how good the pay was. Shivering as he was led into the highest security area located on the second deepest level of the prison, Minister Fudge wasn't paying much attention until the warden, who was leading the two person inspection party, pointed to the man's cell.
"And here's a face you're sure to remember Minister. You sent him straight to me right quick after they caught him. I don't seem to recall that there was much of a trial for him either," the warden said quietly to Fudge as he held out a hand expectantly.
"Yes, right," mumbled Fudge as he handed over a folder piece of paper. "I'm sure that you'll find everything is in order there, just like it has been for the last eleven years. Let's move on shall we? We shouldn't linger down here."
"There's only us and Black in his cell there, Minister. It's funny though, out of everyone down here, he's lasted the longest and is still fairly sane compared to everyone else," the warden said as he examined the Gringotts bank draft that he now held.
"Yes, yes," Fudge said hastily as he stared uneasily at Black's cell and fidgeted with the newspaper he held rolled up by his side. "That's all well and good. Can we just hurry up and leave?"
"Certainly Minister," replied the warden. "We can go back to my office and discuss the year's budget."
"Anything you like. Let's just get going," agreed Fudge.
As the two turned to leave, the man in the cell, Sirius Black, struggled to his feet and leaned weakly against the cell door.
"The paper, please," Sirius said in a raspy voice. "Could I see the paper? Just to know what year it is."
"Here," said the Minister and tossed the paper at the cell door.
As the two men walked away, Sirius reached out and grabbed the paper from off of the stone floor in front of his cell. Unrolling it quickly to take advantage of the fading light, he glanced at the front page to see a large family smiling and waving at him from the picture there. He was about to turn the page when he noticed a rat sitting on the youngest boy's shoulder. Taking a closer look, he gasped in surprise and anger as he spotted the rat's front paw. It only had four toes.
"He's at Hogwarts," rasped Sirius quietly. "That traitor is at Hogwarts."
Anger started to overwhelm him, and Sirius began to pace back and forth in his small cell. Thoughts of revenge were all he had until a single stray memory made its way to the front of his mind. A small, laughing, black haired, green eyed boy. Then a name surfaced in his thoughts. Harry.
Suddenly, another sensation began to overwhelm him. A feeling of cold and unhappiness was making its way down the corridor. With these new thoughts of Harry in his mind, Sirius acted quickly, and in seconds a large but thin and starved looking black dog stood where he had just been. Crouching in a corner, he waited for the dementor to come.
He didn't have long to wait. The dementor, sensing these new happier thoughts coming from Black's cell, hurried down the corridor to feed. It reached Black's cell and opened the door to allow itself access, but stopped in confusion as the sense of a person in the cell diminished. Turning away slowly, the dementor missed seeing the black dog slip out of the opened door and start inching its way up the corridor the way Fudge and the Warden had went. Closing the door, the dementor decided to make its rounds of the prisoners now while it was here.
Following the scent of people, the dog slowly made his way up through the levels of the prison. Whenever he felt dementors, he found whatever shadows he could and hid there until they had passed. Hours later, the smell of fresher air led him to a small barred window that was just above the rocky ground outside. Painfully, he squeezed himself between the bars and clawed his way out of their grasp. Panting after the struggle, the dog stood on the rocky ground of the island of Azkaban in the faint gray light before dawn.
Keeping hidden, the dog made his way to the water's edge. He didn't know how long it would take to swim, but he was determined to make it so that he could see Harry and get the traitor.