A/N This story was formerly under the account of Lukekenobi, which still exists but is closed up now. I used it for some time as a secondary account but found it easier now to put all my stories under my main penname. So, this is not some plagiarism thing – they were mine to begin with.
Drip. Drip. Drip
Drip. Drip. Drip
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"POTTER! Stop that infernal noise!"
Harry looked up in confusion from the water jug where he had been scooping up water and letting it drip down back into the jug. The voice came again.
"Come here. Time for Occlumency lessons."
"No, please, don't make me go to those lessons," Harry begged, "Snape hates me. He will kill me. I looked, you know. I didn't mean to, I was bad. I was a bad boy, Aunt Petunia, please don't hit me, the frying pan is hot, please…"
"Your aunt is not here, Potter. Sit."
Harry obeyed the voice without question.
"Now, remember what I taught you. Banish all thought from your mind. They are all gone – packed up."
Harry relaxed. His mind became blank.
"Now walk into your home, the Gryffindor Common Room. You are alone here. Your secrets are stashed away. Your memories are safely hidden. You alone know the password."
Slowly, very slowly, Harry opened his eyes.
"I hate you, you know," he remarked pleasantly, "Insane is a much more pleasant state of mind here."
A grim smile appeared on his cellmate's face.
"I can imagine," said Severus Snape.
Harry pondered. "Tower to A4." He moved the piece.
"You're getting better," Snape remarked.
"We play chess for hours every day. I'd have to be pretty dim-witted not to get any better."
"With only me to play against, you'll find that there is a limit to your improvement," Snape said dryly.
Harry picked up one of the pieces. It had taken them two weeks of working the entire day to create the chess set from pieces of wood lying around, using a shard of stone. Then they had carved a chessboard into the small table in the cell. The pieces were uneven but they served well. They also used the pieces and board to play Nine Men's Morris when they got bored of chess. Slightly deeper carved lines indicated the shape of that board.
"Shields up. Incoming Dementor," Snape warned.
Harry immediately closed his eyes and focussed on his Occlumency shields. The Dementor's power rammed against his shields, sucking at them, trying to extract the memories, but fortunately they held. The feeling passed as the Dementor left.
"Oh, food," Snape said.
The tray contained a piece of bread, two bowls of an unidentifiable stew and, to their surprise, a newspaper clipping.
"Remus Lupin's final appeal for release of Potter and Snape overturned," Snape read out loud, "I did not know the wolf was even trying."
Harry sighed. "At least someone tried to get us out of Azkaban," he picked morosely at the bread, "they don't all believe we are killers."
"In my case they would be correct in believing that, Potter," Snape tossed the piece of paper aside and grabbed a bowl, using his fingers to delicately pick the larger chunks of bad, fatty meat and carrots from the bowl before drinking the rest down.
"How much water did they give us?"
"More than yesterday," Harry peered into the new jug.
Harry walked towards a large barrel in the corner and emptied half the jug and the remaining water from the old jug into it. The cell they were in had been used as a storage facility at some point in time and held all sorts of odds and ends. They collected part of their water each day. Over the course of a week, they collected enough water to wash themselves over the barrel. They preserved the water they had used for their bath to wash their clothes. Severus had insisted on this ever since they were tossed into the cell and Harry, well versed in survival techniques after his years with the Dursleys agreed with him. Considering they were still very much of a mind to kill each other in those days, that could be considered a miracle.
"Is there a date on that paper?"
"I believe so. Oh, look at this. July 31st, 1997."
"Wonderful, that means I'm seventeen today," Harry dipped a battered mug into the jug and held it up in a celebratory toast, "Hurrah for me."
Snape sneered but returned the gesture. "To adulthood. The beginning of something new."
Harry snorted. "Sure. New. We've been here for two years already – how much more new could it get?"
"You are an adult now," Snape smirked, "which means two things. First, your magic is now available to you, unlimited. Second, no one can force you to live with your guardians anymore."
"Point taken, but you are still overlooking the slight predicament we are in, and have been for quite some time."
"We won't be staying in this predicament," the dark-haired former professor leaned back lazily, "you'll see. Any visions from Tom?"
"He's very excited about something," Harry said after focussing intently, "something big. Do you know something I don't?"
Harry focussed some more on the evil Dark Lord's brain and gasped. "Oh my…"
"Ah," Snape smiled, "I was correct."
"Yes. Yes, you were," Harry shook his head, reinforced his shields. Then he began to laugh, softly at first, but harder until he collapsed onto the floor.
After a long time, he looked up, panting a little and focussed on Snape.
"I know. Me too." The spy replied, staring straight ahead.
Albus Dumbledore was worried. Voldemort was up to something, with his penchant for certain dates, he was sure of it.
Since Severus and Harry had been arrested, he had not had an efficient spy in Voldemort's ranks. Which sometimes led him to wonder…but no. He had to have been right. Snape had taught Harry Dark Arts and corrupted his mind. They were beyond hope and Azkaban was the right place for them. The boy's godfather himself had said so. Sirius refused to talk about the son of his late friend at all.
Harry. The boy had turned seventeen today. An adult. That meant it was quite likely that Harry would be Kissed, along with Snape, in the near future. It all depended on the politics of the Minister.
First things first, however. No doubt Tom, in honour of Harry's birthday, would attack somewhere.
A mere half hour later he knew. When an Order member's Patronus came sailing in through the window, screaming for help at the top of its lungs. Azkaban had been taken, and Diagon Alley was under attack.
Snape and Harry had found themselves taken forcibly from their cell by Death Eaters and escorted to Diagon Alley where Voldemort was waiting for them.
"Ah. The traitor and my young nemesis," the snakeman smirked, "unfortunately you will have to be patient a little longer until your precious Order shows up."
"Their response time was always abysmal," Harry commented to Snape.
"Not to mention there is no use in starting the villains exposition without them," Snape nodded.
"Honestly, Order of the Turtle would be a more appropriate name," Harry shook his head after ten minutes waiting, "or Snail."
Voldemort was wearing a look that seemed undecided between annoyance, amusement and impatience.
Finally people began to Portkey and Apparate in, until the entire Order of the Phoenix was standing in front of them.
"YOU!" Ron Weasley shouted, "I knew it! You went Dark…"
"Be quiet!" Voldemort ordered, bored, "I will not listen to the babbling of ignorant children. Though, I must say, it was quite convenient that you so easily believed Potter and Snape guilty."
Sirius sank to the floor in a stupor. Ron looked around in confusion while Dumbledore paled significantly.
"Harry and Severus were found guilty…" he began.
"Of murdering his relatives," Voldemort finished the sentence. "Yes. Of course. Those loverly Muggles you stuck him with. You shouldn't have blamed him if he DID kill them. I had intended for you to betray only Potter, but it was quite convenient Snape was the first of your Order to arrive – the only effective one, really. I could not enter the house, of course, but my loyal, unmarked servants brought out Potter, his wand and his relatives. I am the only one that can use Potters wand, so I used it to kill his relatives. Then I deposited them all back in the house. You fell for it beautifully."
"Told you he wanted a villains exposition," Snape told Harry, "you owe me two galleons."
"No way! I agreed with you, so it was a tie!" Harry protested.
Voldemort turned around in annoyance. "Stop doing that," he hissed, "You two are going to die soon, you realize that, don't you? Along with the people who betrayed you. Azkaban must have been harder on your minds than I thought if you can joke in the face of death!"
"We don't all fear death like you do," Snape said, suddenly serious, "There are those, like Lily, who welcomed it if it would keep their loved ones safe. That you do not understand does not mean we are crazy."
Harry stepped forward, determined.
"It's supposed to be you and me, Tom. You know that. So why don't we finish it, right here and now?"
"Harry NO!" Dumbledore cried out, "You cannot defeat Tom, not after…"
"After being in Azkaban for two years?" Harry glared at the old man, "after being drained by Dementors constantly? I have no particular reason to fight for you, you know. Riddle here can kill you for all I care. The only reason I am issuing this challenge is for my parents."
Voldemort smiled wickedly. "Very well then, my young opponent. Shall we?"
"There's the little matter of a wand," Harry remarked casually as he moved in the circle formed by Death Eaters on one side and Order members on the other.
He frowned, then walked up to Dumbledore. "Give me your wand."
The boy didn't wait for approval, but in one quick motion snatched the wand from the old wizard's hand.
"There we go. Wand."
"Well, well, Harry Potter. Not so idealistic and naïve anymore, are you? No taunts? No pleading for me to be remorseful?" Voldemort smiled, a smile that was almost friendly and thus, all the more scary.
"Did you plan on repenting?" Harry inquired. "No, I didn't think so. Nothing anyone can say will make a difference now; you've made up your mind long ago."
"A weak mind turns from the chosen path," Voldemort hissed, raising his own wand.
"A wise man turns from the wrong road as he recognizes it, but a fool clings to it blindly," Harry shrugged.
That was it. Voldemort spat out the killing curse as Harry quickly ducked away.
Spell after spell was fired, most of them being deflected or absorbed into shields. Snape followed the battle anxiously. Harry was capable, he knew, but they were both weakened by their stay in prison.
Finally Voldemort sent another killing curse to Harry, who reacted with an Expelliarmus.
The spells hit. The killing curse was reflected to its caster and Voldemort dropped dead to the ground, his eyes wide in shock.
Silence reigned for a good minute or so, Harry panting and not really believing what had happened. Then he realized that all eyes were shifting from the prone form on the ground to himself.
"Well, what do you know. I didn't need my own wand after all," he commented.
The Death Eaters finally seemed to realize that their leader was dead, for good this time. A large number of them started to flee. A few attacked Harry and Snape, or the Order. Those were the fanatics who did not want to admit that they had lost. Some, like Lucius Malfoy, simply surrendered.
The few fighting Death Eaters were easily overpowered, and the fleeing ones pursued. They would be caught over the course of the next few days.
Severus Snape quickly moved to support Harry, who only now realised how tired he was.
"Very well done, Mr Potter," the Potions Master smiled, "thank you."
Then they saw the Order move in on them.
A day later, Albus Dumbledore found himself face to face with the two men he betrayed. The two men who, as it turned out, would have done anything for him. When they had taken them from the Alley, they had been brought to Hogwarts where they had been checked over by Poppy, put on nutrient potions, and then locked into a set of room with instructions to bathe, dress in clean clothes and sleep.
Meanwhile, Albus Dumbledore had worked through the night to set his latest plan into action.
The boys hated him now, that much he understood. He would not deny that he deserved it. Nevertheless if he let them go, he would not see them again. So, in his wisdom, he deduced that the best way to make sure they were safe, and would eventually come to see that he had acted as he thought was best for the greater good, was to keep them in the castle.
He had no illusions that they would be happy about his little scheme, but on the grand scale of things, it was the best thing to do. He was sure of it.
"Let me see if I understand you correctly, Headmaster," the Potions Master summarized. He and Harry wore identical, blank expressions.
"You arranged for our release from Azkaban. I can only imagine how difficult that must have been to accomplish, considering the whole Wizarding World learned of our innocence yesterday. You then proceeded to get a sentence passed in which we are put under your supervision for an undetermined amount of time, which we will spend here in the castle, Harry as a student, and myself as your Potions Master."
"I think you've made yourself clear, Headmaster. Harry and I will retreat to our rooms, now. We are still not entirely ourselves and need some rest."
Back in their rooms, they first put up their strongest anti-eavesdropping wards. Severus raised an eyebrow. "Remarkable restrain you showed there, Harry."
The boy turned bright red. "He shocked me into silence! Only my shields prevented me from jumping up and throttling him! How dare he do this to us!"
"Calm down, Harry," Snape admonished, "I agree this is a most foul trick he played on us, but I believe we can use it to our advantage."
Harry took a deep breath. "He stipulated I must resume my studies, presumably he even hired that mutt to teach, and you must take the Potions position…" an unholy gleam entered his eyes.
"Yes, now you are thinking like a Slytherin," Snape smirked, "he merely arranged for our presence in the castle. He wants us here. So, I have no fear of being dismissed, no matter what I do…"
"And I cannot be expelled, no matter what I do," Snapes smirk transferred to Harry's face, "I hate this, but it does have its good side."
"That, and we find a lawyer of some kind who can get this ridiculous sentence overturned," Snape nodded.
"I didn't know the wizarding world has lawyers," Harry remarked.
"England does not, however, other countries have a less corrupt government than we do. Suspects are actually allowed lawyers there. I will find a way to contact one, possibly through the Potions Masters Guild. Meanwhile, since we must stay here until then, we might as well take advantage of the research facilities in the castle. You do not have to act like a student, but we would be fools not to utilize the library while we are here."
"Very true. I do intent to study, although not the curriculum they have in mind."