It's All the Same

Azkaban.

An island caught in endless darkness.

Albus Dumbledore shivered under his cloak, and watched as they neared. The grey walls stood unyielding against the storm that raged. The prison was ominous, even from a distance, and what he was about to do did not make things any easier. He glanced down at the bag he had tucked under his cloak, containing an important letter and a holly wand.

He was nervous. And he had no idea how to go about this. His stomach was jittering, and not just from the storm that was tossing the boat about. It was a small, wooden thing, protected mostly from the raging sea by magic and propelled by a grumpy wizard across the water. He had to take this route as other forms of magical transportation were blocked by the prison wards.

Something deep inside him told him what was about to happen and he resigned himself to it, but he could not help but hope.

It had been a very long time since he'd seen the boy. A year. He'd thought of himself justified, that the boy was irredeemable. He'd thought that the boy was guilty. Completely and utterly guilty. He had been standing over them with a smile on his face and his wand in his hand. And he had run. But he didn't get far.

It was an entirely fair trial. He was questioned, and he admitted to it, without the use of any truth potions whatsoever.

Recent evidence had come to light, though.

That was what he was doing here, near this god-forsaken island, doing something he would have never even thought about a week before. Releasing Harry Potter.

The boat reached the docks, and Dumbledore stepped off. A grim-faced guard nodded to him and gestured to the shade. Once Dumbledore had reached it, he held out his hand expectantly.

"Then you've heard?" Dumbledore said, taking the letter from the pouch. It wasn't a question. He handed the letter to the man, and watched as the man ripped it open and read it quickly. Ripping the letter, he nodded and stalked to the gates. Dumbledore hurried behind him, watching as they opened by themselves.

He had come to Azkaban before, but it was not enough to fully know his way around. He was led through the bleak and dark halls, attempting to ignore the Dementors that floated about. It was easier, as most of them had already joined Voldemort.

They finally reached a cell. He could not see beyond the bars.

"In," the guard said gruffly, unlocking the door. Dumbledore walked inside.

It took him a bit of time to adjust to the dark, but once he did, he could see a bed and a chamber pot, nothing more. But he wasn't concentrating on that. Instead, he was looking at the ragged figure on the bed.

The boy's face was bent, and he could only see his hair. Harry was sitting quite stiffly, looking at his legs.

"Harry," Dumbledore said, softly.

It took a few seconds. Then Harry lifted his face and blinked. He looked tired and his eyes seemed sunken, but otherwise he seemed fine.

"Dumbledore," Harry rasped, in an unused voice.

"I was expecting you to be more incoherent," Dumbledore said. Harry didn't reply. Instead he stared at his fingernails. "I have good news."

"Good?" Harry wondered, his eyes still on his fingers. "Why good? Why not bad?"

"You are to be set free."

"Why?"

"We know that you are not guilty. We know that you had been cursed with the Imperius. So we have come to set you free."

The boy stared at him. And he smiled.

"Really?" Harry said. "Well isn't that bloody fantastic." And he returned to staring at his fingernails.

Dumbledore watched him warily. He waited. The boy continued to ignore him. He sighed, wondering what effect Azkaban had on the boy.

"Now, Harry."

The boy did not look up.

"Harry," he said, forcefully.

"What?"

"Let us leave this place."

"Why?"

Dumbledore hadn't expected that answer. "Surely you wouldn't want to stay here?"

Harry frowned. "It's all the same. Here and … it's all the same."

"What do you mean?" Dumbledore asked.

"It's the same," Harry insisted.

"Harry –"

"It's the same," Harry hissed.

Dumbledore, not quite feeling up to staying in a Dementor-infested place, grabbed Harry by the elbow and lifted him out of the bed.

"It's all the same," mumbled Harry.

Dumbledore tried to stifle his guilt as he led the boy out of the cell and into the hallway. The boy moved his feet complacently. The guard glanced at the mumbling boy, and shook his head. He lead them through the hallway, Harry slowing them down considerably.

The boy kept repeating the sentence over and over again, until Dumbledore became fed up of trying to get the boy to walk on his own that he whipped out his wand and lifted him into the air.

Soon, they reached the boat. Dumbledore lowered Harry into it and followed him, looking at the wizard who steered the boat and nodding towards him. Soon, they were racing again across the sea.

Harry had stopped mumbling, instead twiddling his thumbs and looking particularly detached. Dumbledore sat opposite him, looking for something to break the uncomfortable silence.

He remembered.

Withdrawing the last item from the pouch, he handed it to Harry, who snatched it almost hungrily from his hands.

The boy stared at it wordlessly, caressing its wooden surface with his fingers. He looked fascinated and amazed at its presence, holding it protectively against the storm.

Finally, Harry spoke. "Imperius?"

Dumbledore almost sighed in relief. "Yes. There was a battle the week before and Voldemort had let it slip that he had put you under the Imperius Curse and made you kill your friends. It was more of a boast, however…"

"Friends?" Harry said. "What friends?"

He most likely didn't remember. "I'm afraid," Dumbledore said gravely, "that it was your two close friends, Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley."

"I never had any friends…" Harry said.

Dumbledore stared at him, slightly ruffled. This was troubling. Maybe the boy had indeed gone mad in Azkaban.

"You must remember Harry," Dumbledore said. "It was not that long ago."

Harry stayed silent. He stared at Dumbledore for a while, not blinking. Then he looked over Dumbledore's shoulder, and his eyes widened. Dumbledore glanced behind him and found nothing. He only saw the wizard, steering the boat. He turned back to Harry, who had started playing with his wand.

"I remember," Harry said. His voice was cold. Distant. "They were lying, at my feet. Bodies torn apart. The blood …" He blinked. "It ruined my cloak. It was my favorite one too."

"I'm sure it was very hard for you too watch –"

"It felt nice," Harry said, shivering. "Peace and…. Peace… and…Peace and quiet…."

Dumbledore suddenly started feeling that something was wrong. He reached out for his wand, only to realized that it was not there. It was in Harry's left hand.

"Very, very nice," Harry said, standing up. He smiled. "Like Quidditch." A force suddenly slammed into Dumbledore and sent him sprawling. He was not knocked off the boat, however.

He felt something wet against the back of his head, and when he sat up and looked behind him, he noticed that the wizard that had been steering the boat was dead, his head sliced cleanly off. The blood was trickling across the wooden surface. He turned back to Harry in horror.

He could only assume one thing. "The Imperius? Voldemort is still there?"

Harry blinked. "Voldemort?"

His smile grew.

"No. No. Very, very smart. He knew."

Dumbledore feared the worst.

"He knew," Harry said. He gestured to himself. "Guilty. Guilty." He grinned murderously. "Guilty," he hissed.

"B-But…" For the first time in his life, Albus Dumbledore was lost for words.

It was just as well.

There was a green flash.

--

A/N: This isn't editted or looked over. Just got the idea and had to write it. I realize it's rushed, but as this isn't a serious work of fiction, more like a plot bunny, I didn't find myself inclined to put a lot of effort into it.