Chapter One

Harry stared at the roiling water below. The bars in the window allowed him to pull himself up when the dementors weren't around his cell; something which didn't happen very often lately.

He pressed his forehead against the ice cold bars and closed his eyes. The coolness of the bars sated the throbbing of his scar most of the time, but today was an exceptionally bad day. Occlumency was out of the question, for as soon as he had calmed his mind enough to start bringing up his shields, the dementors came flooding back to his cell, as if they could feel him blocking their efforts.

Harry dropped back to the floor. He looked back up at the window and let out his breath in a long slow sigh. It had been three years since he had been put in his cell. Much of the time blurred together into nightmarish memories of the dementors feeding on his happier memories.

A small viewing port snapped open on the cell door. Harry looked over with disinterest. His jailers fed him on a rather loose schedule. Thin soup and stale pastry stuffed with near rancid meat was all the prisoners of Azkaban had to look forward to each day. Today was no different, with the exception of a small potion bottle on the side. The first time Harry had seen it, he had thought the jailers were giving him poison to kill himself with. He had carefully tested the contents on a rather large centipede that he had managed to corral. The insect was unaffected by the potion. After a week of testing, he found another potion, the same as the first with his meal.

It seems the ministry did not want any of the prisoners to die due to any kind of perceived torture, so they made sure to provide a mild nutrient potion each week. The potion did double duty to help suppress any escape attempts by enhancing the magical signature of the inmates. Dementors could sense them from miles away. Harry had decided quickly that he would rather die of starvation than give up any chance of escaping from the hell that Fudge had stuffed him into.

"I wonder how Sirius managed to keep himself sane for twelve years of this?" Harry pondered. Thoughts of Sirius dragged up the memory of Harry's trip home and the trial.

The warning that had been given to the Dursley's had almost been enough to give Vernon a stroke on the spot. He had shot Harry a look filled with poison and simply jerked his head towards the waiting car.

Aunt Petunia's coarse voice cut through the background babble of homeward students, "Harry! Get your filthy bird and trunk in the boot of the car. Dudley is already going to be late for his boxing training!"

Harry glanced back at Moony and Mad-eye. He grimaced in resignation and picked up his trunk. With a last moment thought, Harry ran over to Hermione.

"Would you take Hedwig for the summer? I have a feeling this will be a long 'vacation' and I don't want her to be punished with me."

Hermione looked at Harry with her eyes wide and full of tears. "Of course I will! I'll send you regular letters so you can visit. You have my telephone number, right? Call if you need help!"

Harry smiled at Hermione and turned back to the waiting Aunt Petunia. She huffed and strode to the parked car. Harry picked up one end of his school trunk and dragged it to the boot. With a grunt, he lifted it into the car.

The car was silent on the way home from King's Cross Station. Vernon's face was still hovering at a bright red, and the vein in his forehead was throbbing in time with his hissing breathing.

"When we get home, Potter, you will bring your trunk in and wait for me in the entrance hall. Understand? We need to get a few things straight for this summer."

"Yes, Uncle," Harry sighed and looked out his window at the passing scenery.

The car arrived at Number 4 Privet Drive with a lurch. Vernon had managed to keep from yelling at Harry so far, but he knew he was in for a record breaking explosion.

Harry sat waiting in the front hall for only a minute before Vernon came thundering in from the kitchen. He towered over Harry for what seemed like forever before opening his mouth to speak.

"You will put your trunk into the cupboard under the stairs, where it will be locked away for the summer. I don't want any of your freakishness to be on display at all this summer. You will write your letters to those 'friends' of yours in my presence. If I see or hear anything I even suspect has to do with your freaky friends, you will regret it!"

Harry sighed and pushed his trunk into the cupboard. He watched in misery as his only link to the magical world was locked away from his reach.

"Now, go and wash up, then make supper! I expect to have it within the hour!" Vernon turned, and strode into the family room.

Harry stood staring at the cupboard for another long moment then dejectedly entered the kitchen to make supper.

That evening, Harry was in his room, lying on the bed staring at the ceiling. His thoughts were running over and over what had happened to Sirius. As his mind was playing through the scene for the hundredth time, an out of place sound started to pierce his awareness. Harry had managed to keep the sneakoscope that Ron had given him. It sat on the corner of his desk. The strange little device was spinning and whistling in a gradually rising pitch. Harry sat up out his bed and walked over to the little ball. He glanced out the window only to see a flash of red across the street where his "minders" were stationed.

Harry's eyes widened with the realization that the house was under attack. And his wand was locked in the hall! Harry ran to the door of his room and grabbed the knob, a quick tug, threw the door open. Harry took one step through the door and was knocked off his feet from running into a man standing just outside the door. He looked up to see the end of a wand pointed at his face.

"Stupefy." A red flash and Harry knew no more.

The sound of someone hammering was the first thing he was aware of. His brain felt about three sizes too big for his skull, and his mouth was full of cotton. What had happened? Where was he?

Harry tried to shift and realized he was chained to the chair. His eyes flew open as his surroundings came into focus. He was chained into the chair in the middle of Courtroom Ten. He had been here for his underage magic trial.

"Order! Order!" Cornelius Fudge pounded his gavel again. The Wizengamot quieted and settled into their seats.

"We are gathered at this sealed emergency meeting to review the occurrences that happened in the Department of Mysteries a few days ago. I'm sure you have all read over the reports that the Aurors provided of the willful damage and destruction of the Prophesy Vault. Additionally, the massive amount of Ministry property that was destroyed, including the Atrium, is attributed to this incident. Please remember this session will be sealed, and you may not discuss the events once it is over. Failure to follow this will result in time spent in Azkaban by the offender."

Harry tried to speak out, but found he was silenced. Apparently this was going to be Fudge's show, and he was taking no chances of being de-railed from whatever outcome he had planned. Harry noted that neither Dumbledore nor Amelia Bones were present.

"In order to complete this investigation, and close the matter, charges have been laid against Harry James Potter for the following: Willful destruction of property, mischief causing destruction of property, breaking and entering a restricted area, conspiracy, and aiding and abetting an escaped criminal, namely Sirius Black."

An uproar of raised voices came from the members of the Wizengamot. Fudge pounded the gavel again.

"The accused has already provided a statement, in an attempt to remove responsibility from himself, he has made false claims of the Dark Lord returning. In response to the claimed sighting by myself and others on the night in question, I call upon Miss Delores Umbridge to read the report that was provided by the forensic team."

Umbridge stood and walked over to a small podium. She ruffled the papers in front of her and looked up at the collected members of the Wizengamot.

"Hem hem. As per the findings provided by the Auror forensic team, the reported sighting of He-who-must-not-be-named was false. Due to the immense magical resonance still left in the air from the massive destruction of the prophesies in the Vault, random magical effects were sure to happen. After an in depth scan of the Atrium, there was no specific portkey or apparition signature found to support the sighting."

Umbridge looked down at Harry. He could see the glee with which she read the report.

"There you have it. Clear as can be. I believe that is the pertinent part of the report, Minister."

"Yes, thank you, Delores. Please take your seat. I now call upon Lucius Malfoy for his statement."

Lucius strode down from his seat in the viewing gallery. He walked to the podium and carefully folded his hands on the top.

"Thank you, Minister. I had come to the Ministry that night to apply for several portkeys to be used for my family's vacation this year. I was here by special appointment to see Mr. Hughs. I had planned on surprising my family with a trip to France, and it fit better with my schedule to come at that time. Mr. Hughs was accommodating enough to be in his office late that night so I could complete my transaction."

Fudge cleared his throat, "Please notice the information package you have shows Mr. Hughs as clocked in on that night. Continue Mr. Malfoy."

Lucius bowed his head in a slow nod. "I had finished my business when I felt a tremor. I knew there shouldn't be anyone else in the ministry this late, so I took it upon myself to investigate. Imagine my surprise when I saw Potter and his accomplices go storming into the elevator! I quickly floo'd the aurors, and then attempted to stop the hooligans myself. Imagine to my surprise when they started firing spells at me!"

Harry was stunned. He could hardly believe how smooth Malfoy was at the lies he was spreading. He strained at the chains in a desperate struggle to stop what he could see coming. The chains simply grew tighter and locked Harry into the chair even more firmly.

"I pursued them into the Department of Mysteries death chamber. It was there that Sirius Black was hiding. He immediately started to duel me. It was all I could do to deflect the deadly spells and hexes that were cast at me. It was then that I managed to push him through the veil with an Expelliarmus. I was stunned shortly afterwards by one of the fellow students of Potter. I don't know what happened after that. I would assume they moved up to the Atrium to escape in an orgy of vandalism!"

The gallery burst into angry yells and shouts. Harry was stunned. He felt none of what he was seeing was real. His mind was detached and he felt like he was floating free. Fudge banged his gavel for a minute solid before the crowd quieted enough to continue.

"Let me be the first to thank you for removing such a dangerous criminal from our streets. I have submitted you for an Order of Merlin, First Class for your terrific courage in facing such an evil man."

Harry's face was wet with tears. His heart felt like it was going to stop beating in his chest if he had to listen to the character assassination of Sirius any longer. He shook his head and was trying to shout out, "No…no!" The silence held.

"Fellow Wizards and Witches, I see no other choice but to convict Mr. Potter for his heinous crimes. All in favor please stand."

Harry watched as every person in the gallery stood up almost in unison. His throat was on fire from screaming to be heard, and his eyes burned with disbelieving tears. It felt like he was falling through a grey tunnel, farther and farther away from the courtroom. His senses were dull and far away. Sounds came to him as though they were heard through a thick door.

"Very well. Guilty. Harry James Potter, you are convicted and hear-by ordered to serve no less than 10 years in Azkaban Prison. Due to the seriousness of the conviction, I am also ordering you to be restricted to solitary confinement. Aurors, take him away. This court is dismissed."

An Auror walked in front of Harry, and with a flourish, snapped his wand. There was a small burst of fire, and his wand was destroyed.

Harry faintly felt hands take hold of him, and a cold object pressed against his arm. As the portkey took hold, and yanked from inside his stomach he could hear Fudge speaking to Malfoy, "These thing always make me hungry. I'd be honored to accept your dinner invitation…."