All the Dementors of Azkaban
Alternate CoS: When Luna Lovegood is condemned to Azkaban prison for her part in opening the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter is the first to protest. Minister Fudge is reluctant to comply, but then again he never really had a choice in the first place.
Warnings: Alternate Universe. Includes, but is not limited to: Lunacy. Out-of-character-ness. Underage drinking. Irresponsible behavior. Gambling. Cliches. Complete and utter crack. Artistic licence has been taken. Read at your own risk.
Author's Note: I've borrowed several things from several places. Let's see... the disguise joke is inspired by clell65619's Harry Potter and the Trademark Dispute. Actually, I think that's it. (And, really, clell65619 is a much much better writer than I am. Go read his stuff instead.) There's a bunch of stuff that was probably inspired by other authors in there too but I can promise that I didn't intentionally plagiarize anyone.
Anyway, this story is a what-if based on the premise that Luna, not Ginny, was the one to open the Chamber of Secrets in her first year. Harry gets to know the quirky blonde pretty well due to the changed circumstances, so when she is sentenced to a year in Azkaban Prison...
Disclaimer: I don't own anything that does not belong to me. I don't own Harry Potter either.
Loony Lovegood Attacks Student Population with Giant Snake; Sent to Azkaban!
-Headline of the Daily Prophet, 4 June 1993
15 June 1993
"Hello, Harry Potter," large silvery eyes blinked at Harry through the thick iron bars of a prison cell. "What brings you here?"
Harry frowned at Luna through the bars, noting the matted blonde hair and the gauntness of her face. Azkaban was no place for a twelve-year-old girl. "Did you know that the Ministry of Magic has no rules for visiting Azkaban? It seems the Dementors are so scary no-one wants to visit, so it's never come up before. Aside from the mandatory inspection every year, there's no-one here except for the prisoners, the Dementors, and a few House Elves."
"Do you suppose it has something to do with the Rotfang Conspiracy?" the imprisoned girl wanted to know.
"It would explain the lack of an Auror presence, yes..." Harry trailed off in thought. Then he shook his head. "Anyway, since there are no rules against me staying here, I'm camping out until you are released."
He looked around.
"...Well," he said after a moment's thought. "At least it's bigger than the cupboard, I suppose."
Azkaban had high ceilings, with windows close to the top so that no witch or wizard, no matter how tall, could ever reach them. Those windows were tinted a light green, and that the light that entered through them was a murky, sickly color that did nothing to lighten the atmosphere. The cells themselves were not large enough to be considered palatial, but were larger than what Harry remembered of the cells in the Muggle prisons in the movies his cousin had watched.
Luna's cell was no exception. There was a mattress on one corner, with a single sheet atop it. A bucket in one corner served as the loo, as it was enchanted to Vanish any contents put inside of it. Other than that, the cell was bare.
"Is there anyone in this cell?" Harry poked at the cell across from Luna's. The door creaked open ominously. "Suppose not. Well, this will have to do."
He dropped his pack on the floor and withdrew a miniature trunk. "What did Mr Weasley say the right spell was?" He hummed in thought. "Enbordo– no– Ha! Engorgio!" With a swish of his wand, the trunk expanded to its proper size. Harry dug around in it until he found the book he was looking for. He flipped to the index. "Vanishing spells, let's see... page three-twenty-four. Right."
Luna was watching in interest. "What are you doing?"
"Just getting rid of this door– don't want to get locked in by accident," Harry said absently. He flicked his wand, and the iron groaned in protest as it was forced to disappear. "Hey, do you know any good Cleaning charms? For dirt and dust and stuff?"
"Try 'Evanesco,'" Luna suggested. "That's what Daddy always says, anyway."
"Evanesco," Harry repeated. "Hey, it worked!" Not that the charm had done much to improve the appearance of the dank cell. But at least it was cleaner.
He set about putting up the Wizarding Tent he'd purchased in Diagon Alley in the middle of the cell. He gave the provided mattress a look of disgust. A few dozen cleaning spells later, it was almost presentable.
"Hey, Luna, want an extra mattress?"
"Does it have a Wrackspurt infestation?" Luna wanted to know.
Harry shrugged. "No idea. How about I put it in your cell and you look it over?"
He levitated the mattress into his friend's cell and went back to setting up his tent. It wasn't a very fancy model, but it had all of the basic necessities: a bedroom with a ridiculously plush four-poster bed, a bathroom with a bathtub deep enough and wide enough to double as a swimming pool, a kitchen stocked with every sort of food imaginable, and an empty library that rivaled Hogwarts' library in size. Even better, it would reshape itself into a simple silver sing if he tapped it with his wand and uttered a special passphrase.
He'd bought it from an odd little shop that had disappeared as soon as he had turned it back on it. The odd little storekeeper had seemed vaguely familiar, too. He hoped he found his way back to the shop called 'Deux Ex Machina: to give a leg up to those poor unlucky sods marked by Fate' again soon.
16 June 1993
"And how are we today, Harry?" Luna asked the next morning as Harry emerged from his tent.
Harry shrugged. "Pretty good, I suppose."
"How did you get the Dementors to stay away from you?" Luna asked cheerfully. She hadn't seen hide or cloak of them since before Harry's arrival the day before.
"Dunno," Harry frowned sadly. "I thought they might get lonely here with no visitors, so I tried to be nice to them. I mean, they must get bored here with nothing to do, right? So I offered them some chocolate and some pranks I bought from Zonko's to liven things up, and they all ran. I guess they don't want to be my friends," he concluded sadly.
"You'll always be my friend, Harry," Luna said quickly.
"And you're my friend too, Luna," Harry told her, his mood flipping again. He smiled at her. "Ron and Hermione said they'd visit before they went off to Hogwarts, but Hermione's off in France with her parents and Ron says his dad has just won some kind of prize, so they're going to be going to Egypt in a week or so, and they'll be staying there until August. So that won't be for a while."
Harry stretched out. His first night in the tent had been exponentially more comfortable than any night he had ever spent at the Dursleys' house. "Well, let's see what there is to do today. He opened his copy of 'Household Charms for the Charming Household' and flipped through it. "Huh... cleaning charms, dusting charms, a charm to fluff pillows... they have everything in here."
"Try the section on paint," Luna suggested.
Harry did so. "There's a flashing paint charm, but that's not it... you mean like a color charm?"
Luna shook her head. "No, those are temporary. Try one that conjures paint. That way we can fingerpaint the walls with patterns and colors. It will be fun!"
Harry shrugged, and complied. "Any color in particular?"
"We can paint designs on it tomorrow," Harry assured Luna. The walls, floor, and ceiling of their rooms were painted a solid neon pink. "Are you sure this won't wear off?"
"Most conjurations would, but Mummy taught me a locking spell before she died," Luna said cheerfully. "Would you like me to teach it to you?"
Luna demonstrated a complicated swirling maneuver with her finger. "And then you say Flibbertigibbet!"
"Do that again?" Harry asked. "Okay, I think I've got it." He tried to mimic Luna's movements, but ended up dropping his wand. Luna giggled.
"Flibbertigibbet!" Harry declared triumphantly. It had taken him over an hour to manage the spell; Luna had clearly been amused, as she had spent the entire time giggling at his efforts. 'At least it kept her mind off of being imprisoned,' he rationalized to himself.
"Yay! You got it!" Luna clapped her hands excitedly.
There was a bark of mocking laughter from the next cell over. Harry paused. He had been so wound up in Luna's predicament that he had not considered the other criminals that had been imprisoned in the fortress.
He peered over at the occupant of the cell. A woman's face framed by matted, tangled hair grinned madly back at him.
"Stupid mudblood," the madwoman cooed. "So stupid it doesn't even realize that's not real magic! Stupid, stupid..." She mumbled incoherently into her blanket.
"That's Bellatrix Lestrange," Luna informed him somberly. "She tortured some people into insanity."
Harry thought Luna might be being purposely vague about who 'some people' were, but Luna was always vague so he soldiered on. "Was she..."
"She was a Death Eater, one of You-Know-Who's most loyal and feared," Luna finished, nodding. Then she ruined the somber mood by adding, "I think it's an infestation of Wrackspurts, actually."
"Wrackspurts? Like you said were in the mattress?" Harry asked, grateful for the distraction.
"They enter your head through your ears and make your brain go fuzzy," Luna nodded. "I'd make you a necklace to keep them away, but the Aurors confiscated all of my Butterbeer caps when they took me in."
It was past noon when the Dementors finally showed up. Harry looked up at the first sign of creeping ice, and he was full-out smiling by the time a grimy black figure cautiously turned the corner.
Even Luna was adversely affected, as she wrapped her thin blanket around herself, shivering. The other prisoners began to wail, scream, and rock back and forth in their cells. Some rattled the bars, others babbled incoherently.
Harry hauled himself to his feet with some effort. He concentrated on not feeling the chilling fog that the creatures emitted, and walked towards them, still smiling. "Hello again! We didn't get to properly introduce ourselves yesterday! I'm Harry..."
But even that was too much, it seemed, because the Dementor had begun to back up as soon as Harry had gotten to his feet, and by the end of his small speech was gliding away as fast as it could.
Luna breathed a sigh of relief as the chill receded. Harry only frowned.
"They don't like me," he complained.
There was a rattle and a bang from one of the cells further down the row. "You! You, boy..." a hoarse shout came. "You are keeping them away from us?"
Harry headed down the corridor somewhat confidently. He consoled himself with the thought that even if these were hardened criminals, they were mostly defenseless and didn't have their wands. Even if one should happen to escape, he should be able to subdue them easily.
The wizard who had spoken had clearly seen better days. His hair was black with grime, and from its long length Harry could tell that he had been imprisoned for some time. His face bore lines that testified to his suffering. "You... what is your name, boy?"
"Harry Potter," Harry told him cautiously. If this wizard was a Death Eater...
But the wizard merely threw back his head and laughed. "The Boy-Who-Lived!" he cackled madly. His voice echoed off of the stone walls. "Dementors are scared of the Boy-Who-Lived!"
Harry backed away as quickly as he could, and entered his comfortingly pink cell despite the dripping paint.
17 June 1993
"What will we do today, Luna?" Harry asked cheerfully the next morning.
"The same thing we do every day, Harry," the wide-eyed blonde replied. "Try to find the mysterious home of the Crumple-Horned Snorkack!"
"Huh..." Harry wracked his brains for a moment. "Nope, I don't think I've ever heard of it. Anyway, I found a deck of card in my tent. That should entertain us for a while, I think. Any games you like?"
"Exploding Snap?" Luna asked hopefully.
Harry shook his head. "No, sorry. Just an ordinary deck of cards. The only enchantment makes the king and queen dance when you put them next to each other and poke them with your wand."
"I don't know any other games," Luna confessed.
"That's all right!" Harry beamed at her. "I'll show you. Right." He took a seat in front of her cell, and she sat directly across from him, though the iron bars obscured their view. "This one is called Go Fish..."
20 June 1993
"Good afternoon, Minister," Harry's smile was forced as he looked at the Minister of Magic who had come on his yearly inspection.
Minister Fudge looked around, took in the pink cells, blue floor, and the grimy teen in front of him. "Good afternoon, Harry, my boy!"
Harry blinked, and frowned. "With all due respect, I'd prefer if you called me 'Mister Potter.'"
Cornelius Fudge brushed the sweat off of his forehead. "I... see... Well, Mister Potter, I don't suppose there is any way I can convince you to return to your relative's home? Don't you plan to go to Hogwarts in September?"
"Well, Minister," Harry mimicked the pretentious little man, "I don't suppose there's any way I can convince you that Luna is innocent and should be sent home as well? I'm not going anywhere until she does."
A Dementor floated closer. Fudge's trembling increased exponentially. "Dratted things," he mumbled. "Surely you wouldn't rather be away from these things, Harry?" he asked hopefully.
Harry's eyes widened.
"You shouldn't have said that, Minister," Luna's voice said from behind the Minister. "Harry doesn't like it when people insult his friends."
"Friends? The Dementors?" Fudge's voice cracked. The high pitched squeak that he made, made Luna smile. "Preposterous! Harry, don't tell me you're seriously listening to this... this lunatic!"
All remnants of a pleasant expression had fled from Harry's face. His eyes narrowed in anger. "Now listen here, Minister..."
The ensuing loud rant questioned the Minister's political views, personal honor, parentage, and described in great detail exactly what he could do with his idiotic insults and stupid suggestions. It was also loud enough to be heard from three cellblocks away. Two floors down, a black dog lifted its head in confusion.
After Fudge had stumbled away, his ears ringing, with his escort of Aurors all shooting Harry looks of mingled amusement, respect, and fear, a tall black Auror stopped by Harry. "Is that even physically possible?" he wanted to know.
"If you Vanish enough bones, anything is possible," Harry replied immediately. "You're not going to tell me that Dementors are evil too, are you?"
The man cracked a grin. "No... while I don't personally agree with you, I think you might have a point. I just wanted to let you know that you do have a few friends in the Ministry. If you ever need anything, just ask for Kingsley Shacklebolt."
"Or John Dawlish," said another Auror who had also stayed back to talk to Harry. "I was in Hufflepuff when I was at Hogwarts, you know." He clapped Harry on the back, and the skinnier, shorter boy stumbled several steps forward from the force of the friendly blow. "Just wanted to say, I like what you're doing. Always liked to see loyalty in a boy."
Harry watched as the Aurors trooped off after the Minister and the rest of his retinue. "Well," he said to Luna. "That was interesting."
22 June 1993
"You'll never guess what I got!" Harry declared as he skipped up to Luna's cell. The skinny blonde was curled up in a corner reading one of Harry's old second-year schoolbooks. "Hey, Luna!"
"Yes, Harry Potter?"
Harry wrinkled his nose, causing his glasses to slide down precariously. "Please just call me Harry."
Luna looked up from the Herbology text and smiled vaguely. "Whatever you say, Harry Potter."
Harry shrugged. "Anyway," he continued, "I went to Diagon Alley and got some cloth! I thought these cells would look so much more homey with some curtains and the like."
Luna clapped her hands. "Ooh! What colors?"
"Well..." Harry paused, looking ashamed. "I wasn't really sure, so I might have bought out the whole store."
In the end, they had enough fabric to make bright curtains for every cell on the block, streamers to be hung from the ceiling, and floor coverings. There wasn't a grey space left on Level Three.
5 July 1993
"Go fish," Harry said. "Got any sevens?"
A pale hand emerged from the bars to shove two cards in his direction.
"Awesome!" Harry grinned, arranging another neat pile of cards next to him. He'd already accrued two other piles of four, while his opponent had none. "Got any Aces?"
"Go kill your filthy Mudblood self, Potter," Bellatrix Lestrange spat at him from behind bars. Her yellowed teeth were exposed in a mockery of a grin. "Got any threes?"
"Damn you," Harry pouted, and handed over three cards. "That was going to be my next guess."
27 June 1993
Harry and Luna were sitting on the floor making shadow-puppets as best they could in the flickering blue light of a jar of bluebell flames.
"That doesn't look like a dog to me," Luna disapproved of Harry's hand gestures. "It looks more like a Moon Frog."
"Really?" Harry perked up in interest. "What's a Moon Frog?"
"Well," Luna was about to explain, when a clattering from down the hall and the sound of footsteps made them realize that another person was loose.
Harry drew his wand, holding it in front of him protectively. He edged into the shadows near Luna's cell, taking aim with his wand.
The figure of a man walked closer as his footsteps got progressively louder. Harry waited until the man had passed him before hitting him with a 'Petrificus Totalus!' to the back.
A 'Lumos' revealed a grimy, unkempt man with long stringy hair and filthy robes. "Must be a prisoner, then," Harry said grimly. He levitated the man into his cell and cancelled the spell, careful to keep his wand trained on the man at all times.
"Let me up, I've got to get out," the dirty man rasped at him. "Come on. I've got to get him, he's at Hogwarts, I've got to..."
"Hogwarts? Really?" Harry asked, interested despite himself. "I go to Hogwarts too, you know. Maybe I know this person you're looking for."
"I doubt it," the raggedy man snorted, but he took a closer look at Harry. "Merlin's pants, it can't be..."
"He is Luna Lovegood, and I am Harry Potter," Luna said from her cell. "Or was it the other way around...?"
"No, you're Luna and I'm Harry," Harry corrected. "Who did you say you were again?"
"My name is Sirius Black," the man said. "But... why are you in Azkaban?"
Half an hour later, Harry had finished up with his explanation, and Sirius Black was shaking his head in disbelief. "It sounds like something James would do, all right," he said, "But on second thought, not even James would do something this crazy."
"James... are you talking about my father?" Harry's eyes lit up. "Did you know him?"
That, of course, prompted another round of explanations that lasted until the early hours of the morning.
28 June 1993
"Don't mind me," Sirius said at around noon. "I'm just going to trip the wards so they know I've escaped, head over to the mainland and get a bath, a shave and a haircut, some new clothes, that sort of thing. Mind if I borrow your wand? I'll be back in an hour at most, I promise."
"Sure," Harry handed over his wand without complaint. "Just don't lose it or break it or anything."
Luna was not accustomed to being the voice of reason in any debate, but she did make a token protest: "Harry Potter, this man has been in the company of Wrackspurts for many years. Do you believe it is wise to allow him to take your only means of defense?"
Harry just shook his head as Sirius set off at a leisurely pace for the exit. "If the Wrackspurts are really that big of a problem, we should stage an intervention. Do you know any way to ward them off?"
When Sirius returned, it was to the sight of Harry and Luna, drunk on Butterbeer and singing dirty songs very loudly as they made necklaces of Butterbeer caps.
Sirius blinked several times. "Harry... what are you doing?"
"We're -hic- making Wrackspurt deterrents!" Harry waved a half-finished Butterbeer cap necklace in the air. "There's an infestation, you know."
Sirius pondered the relative benefits of telling Harry that Wrackspurts didn't exist, but asked instead: "But where did you get fifty cases of Butterbeer?"
Harry hiccuped and grinned. "Well..."
"Actually," Sirius interrupted, "I don't want to know." He looked down at the wand in his hand, then back to Harry. "And I think I'll be keeping this until you're sober."
1 July 1993
The arrival of the Aurors three days later was somewhat anticlimactic.
"Sirius Black?" Harry asked, pasting a confused expression on his face. "No, haven't seen him at all. He escaped? Do you know how?"
"There are listening charms in the cells of all Death Eaters," Auror Shacklebolt said. "He's been mumbling to himself in his sleep, saying 'He's at Hogwarts' and things like that. Even since Minister Fudge's visit, really."
"Did he say anything else?"
"We've known Black is insane for a long time," Shacklebolt admitted. "Ever since he started pretending to be some sort of animal, making barking and whining noises at all hours. Probably regressed to a feral state. He's more dangerous and unstable than ever. But he's not likely to come back to Azkaban for any reason, so you'll be fine. Actually, you're probably safer here than anywhere else."
"Glad to hear it," Harry said.
The black dog by Harry's side woofed.
"A dog, Harry?" Shacklebolt raised an eyebrow. Harry watched the gesture jealously– he'd never been able to manage to get his own eyebrows to comply when he tried. "I didn't know you had one."
"Well, my owl Hedwig is staying with a friend because she doesn't like the island. Apparently she only likes me when I give her bacon," Harry fabricated. "So I got a dog to keep me company. It's not against the law or anything, is it?"
"Not at all," Shacklebolt seemed pleased with the development. "This could be a good thing. If anyone else escapes, or tries to, you'll have a big strong animal to protect you."
The dog preened.
"Oh, yes," Harry said. "I'm thinking of calling it Twinkletoes, what do you think?"
The dog looked at Harry in betrayal.
"It's a very girly name for a big pet like that," Shacklebolt said diplomatically. "Maybe you'd better pick something else."
"I suppose I'll have to go with my second option and call him Padfoot," Harry sighed. "Thanks for the advice, Auror Shacklebolt."
"Anytime, Harry," the Auror waved goodbye as he headed for the exit.
5 July 1993
Sirius had brought a Tent with him, though it was a more ordinary Wizarding Tent that didn't have quite as many features as Harry's did. He set it up in the empty cell next to Harry's, but only after painting the cell a neon orange that clashed with Harry and Luna's bright pink.
At the moment, Sirius was watching Harry and Luna play their umpteenth game of Go Fish. "It's such a boring game," the 'escaped' convict complained.
Harry shrugged. "To tell you the truth, it's the one of the only ones I know. Why? Do you know any other card games we could play?"
"How about poker?" Sirius suggested.
"Poker?" Harry asked innocently. "What's that?"
Sirius grinned savagely.
His good lasted until Harry won his shoes, socks, and all of his newly-bought hair care products.
He threw his cards down in disgust. "I can't believe you never played this game before!" Sirius pouted. "You're way too good at this. Admit it, you lied!"
"I didn't lie," Harry protested. "I never told you I hadn't played poker before, I just asked you what it was and you assumed I hadn't."
Sirius stopped to think about it. "Huh... I suppose you're right." Then he took on a crafty look. "You know, I bet Luna's never played poker before."
Luna perked up in interest, but Harry shook his head fiercely. "No way! Luna's my friend, and she's too nice and innocent to be able to play a cutthroat game like poker. Go con someone else into playing with you."
Sirius pouted. "You're no fun anymore."
20 July 1993
"I just can't believe it, Harry," Hermione shook her head. "I've read all about them, and the things they've done, and it's horrifying! I can hardly stand being near them."
"They're just misunderstood!" Harry urged eagerly. "Think about it! I bet you would be upset too if everyone tried to avoid you, and then locked you up on an island with a bunch of criminals."
Hermione stared at him, shocked. "You... you're right!" she said, horrified. "Oh, those poor things! I bet no-one's ever shown them any love!"
"I knew you'd understand," Harry smiled at her. "Most people think I'm just crazy, you know."
And so, the Society for the Promotion of Understanding of Dementors (or SPUD for short) was born.
31 July 1993
"I wasn't aware you had a dog, Harry," Dumbledore said kindly.
The Hogwarts Headmaster looked around. A good half of the cells in Luna's row had been painted various bright (if clashing) neon colors. While he approved of the new color scheme, he was worried of the implications for the lonely thirteen-year-old boy locked within.
"He keeps me from getting lonely," Harry said. "And he's fun, too. He helps me play tricks on the inmates."
Dumbledore looked at him pityingly. "If you are getting that lonely, it is always possible to leave Azkaban, my boy. You have made your point quite clear. No-one would bother you should you choose not to stay any longer."
Harry frowned. "No! I'm not going anywhere. It's not fair that Luna has to stay here. She hasn't done anything wrong! The only reason she's in here is because the Ministry wants to control the Quibbler."
"Harry," Dumbledore said slowly, "Why do you think the Ministry would want to control the Quibbler? They have the Daily Prophet to print any news they want."
"Because the Quibbler is the last free voice in the nation!" Harry's eyes took on a fanatical gleam. "And Luna's father is the only one who dares to expose the Ministry for what it is– Minister Fudge is trying to keep them quiet. But I won't let them get away with this!"
"I... see..." All Dumbledore saw was a young boy who had been driven mad by the expectations thrust upon him. "While I commend your loyalty to your friends, my boy, I must insist that you leave. It is for your own good."
The Headmaster raised his wand, but whatever spell he intended to cast was lost in the panicked yelps he made when an enraged canine began to bite, rip, and tear at his colorful robes and pasty white legs.
"Expelliarmus!" Harry yelled at the same time, and Dumbledore's wand was ripped from his grasp and into the waiting hands of Luna Lovegood.
The Headmaster's eyes widened. For a second, he forgot about the dog that was chewing on his ankle. He had just seen his most prized possession– the Elder Wand– fly into the hands of the last person he'd thought would ever get their hands on it.
Luna was examining her new wand with gusto. She waved it, and let out a shower of pink sparkles. "Shiny!" she giggled.
It took the Headmaster nearly ten minutes to sort things out. Harry's dog returned to its master's side, still growling threateningly. Luna handed her shiny new wand back, but the gleam in her eyes told Harry it was only a matter of time before she got it back.
7 August 1993
"Hi, Bella!" Harry greeted the madwoman cheerfully. "How are you today?"
"Ready to die, filthy blood-traitor? Scum of the earth, not even fit to wipe my shoes, how dare you talk to me this way..."
Harry intervened before she could work herself into a full-fledged rant. There was no stopping her some days. "Anyway, I was wondering if you wanted something from Diagon Alley? I'm going on a shopping trip today."
Bellatrix's rant trailed off, and she stared at the green-eyed boy thoughtfully. "Your dead, broken body?" she asked sweetly.
"Sorry, no can do!" Harry said, and scampered to the next two cells. "Hey, Dolph, hey Robby, anything you want from Diagon Alley?"
"Your head on a platter," said Rodolphus Lestrange, at the same time that Rabastan asked for "A case of Firewhiskey."
The twins stared at each other. "Traitor!" they declared at the same time. "What? You're the traitor."
"No, you are," Rodolphus insisted.
"No, you," said Rabastan.
Harry kept going, as the argument showed no sign of abating. There were more requests to take, after all.
When he returned, almost four hours later, it was completely burdened with half a dozen large packages. Harry tossed the first to Sirius.
"More hair care stuff for you," he said, wrinkling his nose. "Are you sure you aren't related to Malfoy?"
Sirius flushed slightly and looked away. Harry moved on.
"Luna! The course books for third through seventh year Divination, Arithmancy, and Muggle Studies." The box of books landed on the floor of Luna's cell with a thud. It was followed by a smaller package. "And a rug for the floor, too."
"Thank-you, Harry Potter," Luna said as he moved on.
"Bella! I got you some new robes," Harry handed the package to her through the bars gingerly.
"New robes?" Bellatrix perked up, looking less hostile for the first time.
"Yes, and I even got them in Slytherin colours."
Bellatrix tore the package open savagely, but handled the silken cloth within with a surprising gentleness. The shimmering fabric unfolded, and she smoothed it through her hands as though it was the first time she had seen such a thing.
Harry looked away and moved on.
"I wasn't able to get you any Firewhiskey, they wouldn't let me buy any because they said I was too young," a frowning Harry told Rabastan Lestrange. "I tried to explain that I was buying it for you, not me, but that didn't go over very well either. So I got you Butterbeer instead."
Harry ignored Rabastan's anguished groan of "But it's not even alcoholic!" and moved on.
"And for the rest of you who wanted my dead body, my head on a platter, the return of the Dark Lord, or anything like that... well, unlike Bella I had no idea what you might want. So I just got each of you a bar of chocolate."
Harry's good mood at his good deed for the day lasted until the next morning, when he saw the headline of the article written by Rita Skeeter:
'Boy-Who-Lived in Cahoots with Dark Lord? Azkaban Protest a Cover for Illegal Smuggling Operation!'
15 August 1993
"Harry!" Ron greeted him enthusiastically. Then he took a good look at his surroundings, and continued more slowly. "Eh... I love what you've done with the place, mate. But did you have to use so much pink?"
Harry shrugged. "Luna wanted it– said the place was too dull and needed sprucing up. I've been trying to get the Dementors to tie-dye their cloaks, but they seem to be avoiding me these days."
Ron had paled visibly at the mention of the Dementors. "Those... those creatures? You actually went near them?"
Harry frowned at the red-head's words. "Don't say that kind of stuff about them! They're people too, and they have feelings!"
"Right," Ron snorted, but he was smart enough to know a losing battle when he saw one and changed the subject accordingly. "How's Luna doing?"
"I am doing very well, Ronald," Luna said from behind bars. "How was Egypt?"
Ron began to ramble on... and he was still in the middle of an amusing tale in which Fred and George locked Percy in a pyramid when he glanced down at his battered watch and realized it was time to go.
"Blimey!" he said, blinking rapidly. "Didn't realize it was so late. Mum's going to have a fit. Well, it was nice seeing you, mate. Think you'll be coming to Hogwarts this year?"
Harry shook his head. "No, I'm staying here with Luna until she's freed."
Luna waved good-bye as Harry walked Ron back to the Floo Room.
Ron only shrugged. "Your loss, mate." He poked at the dying flames in the fireplace until they flared up. "Oh, and Hermione says she's sorry she can't come, but she'll see if she can persuade the Headmaster to let her visit over the weekends."
He threw in a handful of Floo powder, and with a shout of "The Burrow!" was off on his way home.
3 September 1993
Harry Potter was bored. All of his friends were in Hogwarts, learning all kinds of new and exciting things, with the exception of Luna Lovegood who was playing Go Fish with him at that very moment.
"I win," the wide-eyed blonde declared with some satisfaction. "Again?"
Harry shook his head. "No way! You always beat me, anyway." He looked over at where Sirius was amusing himself by conjuring brightly colored paper streamers and fixing them to the ceiling. "Hey, Sirius! How about a trip to Diagon Alley?"
Sirius paused long enough to frown at him in consternation. "Are you sure? People will recognize me, you know."
Harry only smiled mysteriously. "Just leave that to me."
They walked down the stairs two levels and to the Dock in a companionable silence. It was only when they were nearing the rickety little boat that was the only way aside from Floo Powder to get back to the mainland, that Harry spoke.
Harry stepped into the enchanted boat. "What I wouldn't give to be able to Apparate," he bemoaned quietly.
"Who says you can't?" asked Sirius from beside him. "Once we reach shore, I can teach you."
"Really?" Harry beamed at him as the enchanted boat rocketed back towards the shore. "That would be great, thanks. I thought it was a really hard discipline that you had to be seventeen to learn!"
Sirius spat over the side of the boat into the churning waves. "Ha! That's just Ministry propaganda for you. Besides, can you imagine how much trouble a gang of Apparating teenagers could cause?"
Harry hummed. He send Sirius a measuring sideways glance. "Are you sure you wouldn't rather stay here and search for Peter?"he asked quietly, rubbing his hands together in his lap for warmth.
"Search for him? I already know where he is," Sirius shook his head. "And besides, I have more important things to do. Like look after you. Not even your father would have done something this insane. You need someone to stay with you and keep you out of trouble."
There was a moment of comfortable silence as they watched the distant shore come rushing towards them.
"So what was this unbeatable way of sneaking into Diagon Alley you had?" Sirius wanted to know.
"Here," Harry handed Sirius his glasses. "Put these on."
Sirius did so. "Whoa... Wait, Harry, why am I glowing? And why do you have a purple aura around you?"
"Do I?" Harry looked vaguely interested. "Those aren't normal glasses. Luna got them for me– I'm not sure what the enchantments do, exactly, but the glowing is just the Wrackspurts in your head. I'll have to ask Luna what the purple means."
Sirius wisely decided to keep silent.
3 September 1993
"Good heavens!" a portly witch screamed, dropping her shopping bags in horror. "It's Sirius Black! And Harry Potter!"
"Harry Potter? Where?" Harry looked around frantically. "I don't see him anywhere!"
"Oh," the witch flushed in embarrassment. "For a second I thought... you look just like him!"
"Nonsense," Harry said pompously. "Harry Potter wears glasses. I don't have any glasses on, so obviously I'm not Harry Potter."
"Exactly," Sirius said from beside him. "See, I may look like Sirius Black from a distance, but Sirius Black doesn't wear glasses, does he? Since I'm wearing glasses, I'm obviously not Sirius Black."
"Of course, of course," the witch said quickly. "I'm so sorry, gentlemen! I don't know what came over me to make such a silly mistake."
She bustled away.
"...You mean it's really that easy?" Sirius asked, aghast. "Really?"
"Most wizards haven't an ounce of common sense," Harry paraphrased what Hermione had said at the end of their first year. "Now come on, the goblins won't be so easy to fool, but they also don't care about silly things like escaped convicts on the run."
3 September 1993
"We're back," Harry sang as he waltzed back into Azkaban. "Anyone miss me?"
"I did!" Luna called loyally.
"Why don't you do us a favor and drown yourself?" Mulciber yelled.
"If I drowned myself, who would enjoy these lovely books I bought for you?" Harry asked sensibly.
There was a moment of silence. The Death Eaters sent each other confused glances through the bars of their cells, none of them knowing what to make of the phenomenon of a helpful Harry Potter. Except Rabastan Lestrange, who asked eagerly, "Do you have my chocolate, then?"
"Sure do!" Harry said cheerfully. "Except, I didn't know what kind of chocolate you liked, so I bought you some of everything." He tossed a shrunked box into Rabastan's cell, and enlarged it to its full size. There was easily a year's worth of chocolate within.
"Thank you!" There were tears in Rabastan's eyes at he looked adoringly at the chocolate piled before him.
"Blood-traitor!" Bellatrix hissed at him.
"No fighting, now," Harry admonished. "Bella, I don't want any more of that language from you. It's foul."
"And how does the filthy half-breed think he well get me to comply?" the madwoman taunted.
Harry brandished a book at her. "This is the most recent edition of 'Hair Care Tips for Dark Witches,' it just came out last year... but if you don't want it, I can understand that."
Bellatrix perked up. "Really? A new edition comes out once every seventeen years, I hadn't realized..." Then, as if she realized what she just said, she spat: "Like I care, half-breed!"
Harry just shrugged. "Your loss."
But he saw the longing glances Bellatrix was shooting at him for the rest of the day, and if the witch found a new book in her cell the next morning, she never mentioned it to anyone.
6 September 1993
"Ha!" Harry announced. "I figured it out!"
"Really? So where do they live?" Luna asked vaguely.
"Wait, what?" Harry shook his head. "No, what I mean is I figured out a way for you to be able to walk around a bit!"
"And how is that?"
"See, the rules clearly state that you have to stay in your cell. But I was thinking, what if we do that? I mean, shrink the bars and make a bracelet or something. Then you're still in your cell, technically, but you can walk around and stuff, too."
"Or we could just open the door and let her out," Sirius suggested lazily. "The alarms don't go off unless you actually try to leave the island."
"That's stupid," Harry said. Then he shook his head. Of course it was. This was the Wizarding World they were talking about, a world so backwards it still thought that the Earth was flat, Muggles lived in hovels, and Dementors were evil soul-sucking monsters. All untrue.
15 September 1993
"I'm going exploring!" Harry declared. "See, Azkaban has what, four levels and a basement? And it only has maybe a hundred prisoners in it, total. That leaves plenty of room for other things. We've only really seen this corridor, which means that there are four other floors full of potential secret passages! Who wants to come?"
"I do!" Luna declared immediately.
"I'll come too," Sirius said, as soon as the transformation from dog to man had finished. "Count me in."
Harry looked around. A dozen hostile Death Eaters stared back at him angrily. Bellatrix Lestrange spat at him. Mulciber called him an ignorant Mudblood, and Travers grinned nastily and told him to give the Dementors his love.
Rabastan Lestrange just gave him a thumbs-up and went back to reading the extended version of 'Hogwarts: A History.'
"I'll do that," Harry told a surprised Travers. "Well? No-one else? Okay then, let's get going."
A flick of his wand let Luna out of her cell, and they all walked down the corridor.
"According to the Ministry, there should be House Elves somewhere around here," Harry said conversationally as they turned a corner and went down a flight of rickety stairs. "Hey look, a door. Let's go in." They did. "So if you were a House Elf, where would you be?"
"Spider," said Luna.
"I don't think House Elves fit in spiders," Harry said thoughtfully. "Unless the spider was an Acromantula, I suppose."
Luna shook her head. "No, look! Spiders!"
Harry and Sirius looked left, then right, then behind them. "What... spiders..." Sirius asked slowly, his voice fading as he looked up.
A thousand beady eyes stared back down at him.
Sirius only had a moment to scream like a girl before the writhing mass of spiders descended on them. After a few seconds of panic and confusion and a few hundred spider bites, the three intrepid explorers righted themselves.
"Anyway," Luna said as if they weren't covered in arachnids, "I suppose the House Elves would be in the basement."
"Really?" Harry asked hopefully. "I wanted to ask them about the food. I don't think gruel and water is really appropriate."
Sirius brushed a spider off of his face before saying, "I agree, the food here is horrible."
"Right," Harry looked around. "Well, since following the spiders don't work this time, what do you suggest we do?"
"Vanish them?" Sirius suggested hopefully.
"I suppose," Harry frowned, "But it would take too long to Vanish each one. There must be hundreds in here!" He didn't even flinch when a spider crawled across his nose.
"Maybe if you overpower it, it will take out more than one," Luna suggested.
Harry shrugged, and tried it. His overpowered Vanisher took out most of the spiders, all of the dust, and Sirius's eyebrows.
"It could be worse," Sirius said as they closed the door on the spider room, not even the slightest bit upset at the loss.
Auror Barracks, Level Three
"Huh," Harry poked at a rotted wooden chair with his wand, and it collapsed into a pile of termite-eaten splinters. "This place has been abandoned for a while."
Sirius nodded. "Yeah. This used to be the Auror Barracks, back when there were actually Aurors stationed on the island. After the Ministry negotiated with the Dementors, well, there wasn't anyone willing to stay here any more, so I guess it's just gathered dust."
Luna just smiled vaguely. "No Wrackspurts!"
"Really?" Harry perked up. "Hey, that's great. This can be our clubhouse, then."
"...Clubhouse?" Sirius asked eventually, when no other explanation seemed forthcoming.
Harry nodded as he absentmindedly Vanished dust and spiders. "Of course! Where else would we hold the weekly poker tournaments?"
"...poker tournaments?" Sirius repeated faintly.
25 September 1993
Refurbished Auror Barracks, Level Three
The first tournament ended up being held the following Saturday. Harry and Sirus showed up, along with five Dementors who huddled outside the door until Harry promised not to offer them chocolate any more.
After that, the game went a bit more smoothly. Each person had brought along a few items they didn't mind losing: quills, articles of clothing, loose change, and in the Dementors cases, a few shiny rocks.
Harry did well, winning most of the items on the table, until the Dementors got a hang of how to play. After that, the direction of the game changed greatly...
"Three of a kind," Harry declared in satisfaction.
The Dementor beside him let out a bone-chilling rattle and laid down a full house.
"What?" Harry demanded, scandalized. "Damnit! You guys have the best poker faces. And you can tell my emotions! This sucks!"
The Dementors around him all rattled. It was their version of a laugh, Harry realized. One of them reached out with a slimy, rotted hand to pat Harry on the shoulder.
Sirius the dog was curled up in the corner; after having lost all of his clothes, he had given up entirely instead of trying to win them back. The Dementor that had won his clothes had donned them immediately.
10 October 1993
Refurbished Auror Barracks, Level Three
"It's your birthday today!" Harry told Luna cheerfully. "October tenth, right? Your father came for the party, but I think the Dementors were too much for him. He fainted two minutes after setting foot on the island."
Sirius dragged the unconscious man into a corner of the redecorated Auror Barracks. The two had put up decorations for Luna's birthday, and a special chocolate cake was displayed prominently on the circular table in the center of the room.
Xenophilius Lovegood moaned from his corner, but didn't awaken.
17 October 1993
"Mipsy is happy to have visitors, yes she is," the House Elf said with deranged cheer. "Mipsy is so, so happy to be having visitors now."
Harry was surprised to see at least fifteen House Elves in the basement of Azkaban; he hadn't thought fifteen of them were necessary to make the meals of thin gruel that were served to the prisoners. However, from the looks of the House Elves, prolonged exposure to Dementors was just as detrimental to their health as it was to the humans'.
"I'm pleased to see you too, Mipsy," the green-eyed boy told her seriously. "Do you cook the food around here?"
"Yes, Master Visitor Sir! Mipsy is cooking yummy yummy food for the naughty little girls and boys, yes she is..." Mipsy's voice trailed off, though her lips continued to move.
"Well, Mipsy." Had Mipsy known Harry better, she would have known to be scared of the glint that entered Harry's eyes. "I have an idea for you..."
18 October 1993
"Potter! This is your doing, isn't it!"
Harry looked up. The shout had originated from Rabastan Lestrange's cell, so he ambled over, his History of Magic text still dangling from one hand. "Hey, Robby, what's up?"
Rabastan gestured at the plate of food in front of him. "What is this nonsense?"
"It looks like fried chicken to me, but if you want to call it nonsense that's up to you," Harry said seriously. "Why do you ask?"
"Is this some sort of trap?" the Death Eater demanded.
"Trap? What are you talking about? I visited the House Elves earlier because the food they normally serve doesn't have enough nutrients to support a healthy witch or wizard."
"Harry was very persuasive," Luna called over from her cell. "I don't think I've ever seen a House Elf cry that much."
Harry flushed a bright red. "Yes, well."
Rabastan gave Harry a measuring glance. Then he smiled. "Good work, Potter."
31 October 1993
Sirius's idea of a Halloween Party involved wearing costumes and dancing wildly to the music of the Wizarding Wireless Radio set that Harry had bought the week before. Surprisingly, it seemed that the Dementors also enjoyed the music of the Weird Sisters, and no few of them showed up to the party.
So when Headmaster Dumbledore in his brightly-coloured glory walked into Harry's little celebration, the should-be third-year was understandably surprised.
"Headmaster Dumbledore!" he exclaimed. "What brings you here?"
"I just wanted to check up on your health, my boy." The twinkle in the Headmaster's eyes dimmed slightly as the black dog by Harry's side growled loudly. "And to see if you were ready to return to Hogwarts yet, of course."
"This is much cooler than Hogwarts," Harry said stubbornly. "I get up whenever I want, do whatever I want. I can do as much magic as I like, too."
"But wouldn't you rather be with your friends, my dear boy?" Dumbledore's eyes twinkled at him gently. "I fear that if you stay here much longer, you will be forced to repeat your third year at Hogwarts... you will no longer be able to have classes with your friends."
"My true friends will stick by me no matter what," Harry insisted. "And I'll stick by them, too, which is why I'm here. Unfortunately, Ron and Hermione have parents who won't let them come along, but I know they would if they could."
The black dog by Harry's side barked encouragingly.
One of the Dementors placed a slimy hand on Harry's arm and gave Dumbledore a chilling glance. The Headmaster paled greatly, made a few stumbling excuses, and left as quickly as he could.
"Shiny," Luna said happily, twirling her reclaimed wand around her fingers.
2 November 1993
Bellatrix stared in shock at the frilly pink bed in front of her. "Do you like it?" Harry asked cheerfully. "I thought you'd want something to brighten up the place, and look, it came with a mirror too!"
He arranged the enchanted mirror in a corner, setting it down and enlarging it with his wand.
"My, what a horrid looking place," the mirror's girlish voice said immediately. "This won't do at all!"
Bellatrix just kept staring in horror as the mirror proceeded to give her fashion advice.
13 November 1993
Refurbished Auror Barracks
Luna had the same blank smile on her face as she raked the piles of mixed stones, quills, coins, and other oddities toward her. Harry stared.
"Is something wrong, Harry?" Luna asked.
"You're my new hero," Harry decided, star-struck. "Can you teach me how to have a poker face like yours? I'll give you anything you want!"
The Dementors rattle-laughed. Luna merely smiled.
"But Harry," Sirius said loudly, "I thought Luna was too innocent for poker? You didn't want her to get torn to shreds by us world cardsharks, remember?"
Harry only glared.
24 November 1993
"Okay, here's the deal," Harry began.
The newly-freed Death Eaters were too busy staring in shock at the open doors to their cells to reply.
"As you may or may not be aware," Sirius said.
"We've begun bi-weekly poker tournaments in the room that used to be the Auror Barracks," Harry finished his sentence for him.
"But we have a major problem," Sirius continued.
"Who goes by the name of Luna Lovegood, but what most of you don't know, is that underneath her strange exterior,"
"Luna Lovegood is actually an extremely crafty witch."
"And a genius at poker," Harry added.
"Too right." Sirius nodded. "Anyway, we're tired of losing."
"So we're drafting you!" Harry said cheerfully. "You all have played poker before, right? Good! Just remember: don't bet anything you don't want to lose, don't attack the Dementors, and if you try to cheat you won't be invited back for a week."
"And if you try to escape, we won't rescue you from the Dementors," Sirius added. "Ignore Harry, he's barmy and thinks that they're adorable, misunderstood creatures."
5 December 1993
"Good news!" Harry beamed as Hedwig flew away, a letter tied to her leg. "Ron and Hermione wrote me– they're going to visit right after Christmas."
"Their parents let them?" Sirius looked surprised. "I didn't think Molly and Arthur had it in them."
"Oh, Ron was actually really sneaky about that. He kept telling them about how Luna was Ginny's age, and how it could just as easily have been Ginny locked in here, and how would they like it if Ginny was locked up and no-one came to visit her?" Harry's grin widened. "They caved pretty quickly after that, according to him."
"Hmm," Sirius hummed. "If they're good at poker, this might be a good thing, you know. I'm still tired of losing."
Luna smirked at him from where she was Transfiguring her many spare quills into colorful statuettes with the stolen Elder Wand.
"Yeah," Harry agreed. "You know, for a bunch of superior pure-bloods, you lot are a real disappointment in poker."
"Shut it, Potter," Mulciber growled good-naturedly. "I'm not the one with no shoes, now am I?" He gestured to the comfortable shoes that he had won off of Harry the night before. "You're just a sore loser."
29 December 1993
Floo Room, Level Three
"Mate!" Ron grinned at him as he tumbled out of the fireplace. He moved out of the side quickly to make room for Hermione. "Good to see you!"
"Harry!" Hermione shrieked, dropping the many bundles she was carrying onto the floor so that she could hug him fiercely. "I missed you!"
"Missed you too, Hermione." And it was true. As amusing as Luna, Sirius and the Death Eaters could be, he still missed the presence of his best friends.
"You should visit us sometime," Ron told him. "We've got this wicked Defense teacher– his name's Lupin, and he's really good at what he does. Knows tons. I've learned more this year than any other."
Harry shrugged. "I know, I could always Floo to Hogwarts, but I wouldn't want any of the teachers to see me! What if they assigned homework?" He shuddered. He hadn't had homework in months!
"How about your cloak of invisibility?" Ron asked. "Why don't you use that?"
"Well," Harry blushed, "about the cloak... I might have lost it in a game of poker."
"You lost your father's invisibility cloak in a game of poker," Hermione repeated, deadpan.
"Hey! Don't look at me like that! Luna's really, really good at poker– she's got a wicked poker face. She says she'll teach me as soon as I find a Crumple-Horned Snorkack for her."
"Do you realize that–"
"They do exist and nothing you say will convince me otherwise!" Harry interrupted her.
Hermione blinked. "I was going to say that gambling is illegal, but now that I think about it, considering you're already in prison anyway, I suppose it can't hurt."
"Does that mean you want to join?" Harry asked hopefully. "Wednesday and Saturday nights are the bi-weekly poker nights, and I'm tired of losing all the time."
"Sure," Ron shrugged. "I brought some Firewhiskey, if you're interested."
"Ron!" Hermione snapped, scandalized.
"What's Firewhiskey?" Harry asked innocently.
30 December 1993
Refurbished Auror Barracks, Level Three
Harry opened his eyes blearily, groping around on the floor around him for his glasses. It took him a few moments to realize that he was not in his comfortable bed, and a few minutes longer to realize that his glasses were already on his face.
He sat up.
They were in the room they usually used for their poker nights. A half-empty bottle of Firewhiskey was sitting on the table, along with a dozen half-empty shot glasses. His friends were passed out around the room.
Ron was curled up around a Dementor, snuggling into it and mumbling incoherently in his sleep. The Dementor in turn looked a bit put-out.
Hermione and Bellatrix Lestrange were leaning against each other, and Antonin Dolohov had sprawled out across their legs.
Luna and Sirius were amusing themselves by arranging Augustus Rookwood and the Lestrange brothers in an embarrassing position. "Harry!" Sirius greeted him cheerfully. "Mind removing their robes once we're finished?"
Harry opened his mouth to refuse, then thought better of it. "Fine, but only of you don't use Dolph for this, he's married."
Sirius pouted pathetically, but agreed. He dragged Rodolphus over to a corner and put Mulciber in his place. "See, it's like one big Death Eater orgy," he giggled.
Harry rolled his eyes, but obediently removed their clothes. He covered his eyes with one hand and Conjured a blanket. "Everything covered up?" he asked Luna.
"Yes, Harry," she replied, and he peeked through a crack in his fingers before opening his eyes entirely. He dropped the filthy Azkaban robes in a corner, and winced at the smell.
"We all need showers," he said disgustedly.
"About that... I had an idea last night..." Sirius began.
30 December 1993
Hot Tub Room, formerly Auror Mess Hall, Level Three
"A hot tub?" Hermione was aghast. "You gave Azkaban a hot tub?"
Harry leaned back in relaxation. "Yup! It was Sirius's idea, originally. Did you know that this used to be the Mess Hall where the Aurors ate? No-one's used it since they left, so I thought I'd give it a purpose."
He closed his eyes and enjoyed the heat of the water. Azkaban was chilly at the best of times, as the strong winds and cold air gave it a permanent chill. At worst the temperature bordered on freezing, especially with the aid of the Dementors' aura.
He opened his eyes.
"No!" she said immediately. "No more of your crazy schemes. You said you wanted to stay here for Luna, and I wholeheartedly support that. You said you wanted to befriend the Dementors, and I understand that. You said you wanted to make the Death Eaters see the error of their ways, and I suppose I can try to understand that. You want to have bi-weekly poker nights? A hot tub? What next?"
Harry just looked at her expectantly.
"Oh, all right." Hermione shed all of her layers, revealing the bathing suit she wore underneath. She eased herself into the hot water, sighing in pleasure. "What do you want to do next?"
"Why did you bring a bathing suit to Azkaban?" Harry was confused.
"I had an idea you'd try something like this," Hermione confessed. "And as for the rant, well, I want it on record that I made a protest and told you it was a bad idea. Anyway, you were saying...?"
10 January 1994
"No, no," Rodolphus shook his head. "It's a jabbing motion. The harder your jab, the more force gets put into your spell. Try it again."
"Confringo," Harry cried, jabbing his wand forward. A section of the grey stone wall was reduced to rubble.
"Much better," Rodolphus said in satisfaction. "You have a real talent for this, you know. Now, what's next on your list?"
Harry looked down. "The Conjunctivitus Curse."
Rodolphus grinned. "Good. This one is good for blinding people you don't like. It's easy to undo, unfortunately, if they get medical treatment in time, but if it's left on too long it can become permanent..."
15 January 1994
Poker Room, Level Three
"What I don't understand," Harry said as he dealt out the cards, "is how you two managed to convince your parents to let you come here every weekend. I mean, I understand Christmas, since it's a holiday, but every week?"
Ron only shrugged. He scowled at his cards; his poker face was so bad that he didn't even bother to hide his emotions. "It was easy enough, mate. Just used the same argument as last time."
Hermione was staring blank-faced at her cards, but her left index finger was tapping the table in a particular rhythm that Harry knew to mean that she had received a decent, if not good, hand.
"Hermione?" He said, hoping to distract her into giving something away. "What exactly did you do to the Dementors? They've been acting odd ever since you gave them those presents for Christmas."
Hermione, to her credit, didn't even twitch. "Oh, I've taken up knitting as a hobby. I thought they might like some new hats, considering how cold it is here. Why? Do you think they like them?"
"Dementors aren't supposed to be happy, Mudblood," Bellatrix Lestrange spat at her. She still hadn't forgiven Hermione for having won her last bottle of nail polish from her in the Christmas tournament.
A Dementor rattled threateningly, Bellatrix fainted, and by the time order was restored ten minutes later Harry had gotten a good look at everyone's cards.
'Mission accomplished,' he thought to himself smugly.
Somehow, Luna still managed to win.
5 February 1994
Poker Room, Level Three
Had Harry known of what would happen when he agreed to let Neville Longbottom accompany Ron and Hermione to the next poker tournament, he probably wouldn't have done it.
"B-B-Bellatrix L-L-Lestrange?" Neville stuttered, backing up in abject fear.
Bella watched him in amusement. "What's wrong, boy, Dark Lord got your tongue?"
Neville somehow managed to draw up the small measure of courage that had gotten the Sorting Hat to place him in Gryffindor. "You tortured my parents into insanity!"
"Oh," Bellatrix frowned in though. "I suppose I did. Sorry."
"You're sorry?" Neville squeaked in outrage.
"Not really, but I thought it might help," Bella shrugged. "Are you going to play or not?"
With another glare at the Lestrange family, Neville took his place at the poker table.
Two hours later...
"Bloody hell, kid, how did you get so good at poker?" Sirius was aghast as he pushed the last of his winnings over towards Neville.
The pudgy boy merely smirked as he piled up the quills, stones, potions ingredients, sickles and knuts before him. "So, why don't we make this more interesting?"
Harry felt a cold shiver run down his back and decided it was time for him to do something else. "So, Luna, I've been feeling a need to visit the house-elves."
"Oh, yes," Luna agreed quickly, jumping to her feet. "Let's."
They practically ran out of the converted Auror Barracks, only pausing for breath several corridors away.
"Do you feel bad, leaving them to their fate like that?" Harry asked breathlessly.
"No," Luna said. "Let's put more room between us and them."
"I like the way you think," Harry said approvingly. "I think we should hide out in my tent, that way we won't hear any screams and be tempted to investigate."
"I'll have to check for Blibbering Humdingers, first, but that should be all right."
6 February 1994
Poker Room, Level Three
"You're all alive," Harry said upon entering the room the next morning. "So what happened?"
"You're a true Slytherin, boy, a real cunning snake," Rodolphus Lestrange was telling Neville with grudging approval.
"Actually, he's a Gryffindor," Luna interjected as she entered the room.
"Then he's a true Slytherin at heart," Bellatrix cooed.
Harry was taken aback a moment. The gesture seemed incredibly out of character. "What exactly happened here last night?" he asked again, more slowly.
"It was incredible, mate," Ron said. He and Hermione were leaning against the wall. Hermione's head was resting on his shoulder and she was snoring gently. "Neville kept upping the stakes– first we played for favors, then money, then properties, then–"
"Wait, how does that work?" Harry interrupted. "They don't have any money on them!"
Ron grinned. "They swore binding magical oaths to uphold any deals made. It's a common practice in high-stakes poker like this– can't risk one party or another getting cold feet and backing out, you know. Anyway, Neville started losing, and we were pretty worried for him–"
Hermione was awake by this point, and she rubbed at her eyes. "Yes, I was very worried. We decided not to play, only watch, after the stakes were upped to include money. And when Neville started losing..." she shuddered theatrically, which Ron took as his cue to wrap his arm around her.
"He lost everything! All his money, all of his properties... So then Neville proposes that everyone go all in for the last round, and the losers would all swear Unbreakable Vows to obey all of the winner's commands for the rest of their natural lives–"
Harry was grinning as well by this point. "Don't tell me–"
"Yup," Neville's smirk was back in place. It looked scarily right on his face. "I now have three new human House Elves. Speaking of which, Harry, would you mind performing the Unbreakable Vow for me? I need someone with a wand to do it."
"Allow me," Sirius whipped out his wand with a flourish. At Harry's questioning glance, he merely smiled. "I knew a trick when I saw it. Didn't stop me from helping Neville trick them into it, though."
Three Unbreakable Vows later, Sirius was looking at Neville with newfound respect.
"That was a prank worthy of a Marauder, kid," he said, wrapping his arm around Neville's shoulder. "In fact, I think I'll make you the first of the next generation of Marauders!"
"Hey!" Harry pouted. "What about me?"
"You're insane," Sirius said plainly. "No-one in their right mind would willingly stay in Azkaban when they didn't have to. But I suppose you'll have to do as well."
12 February 1994
Floo Room, Level Three
Neville had said something of the situation when he went to Hogwarts, because when he, Ron, and Hermione returned the next Saturday for the bi-weekly poker tournament they were accompanied by Professors Dumbledore, McGonnagal, and Snape.
"Harry, my boy, I trust you are well," Professor Dumbledore said as he brushed ashes off of his flourescent green robes.
Harry gave him only a cursory glance. He turned to Neville instead to complain, "Nev, Bella's been telling everyone all week about how she's going to adopt you as soon as the Dark Lord returns for her. Apparently, you're going to be Voldemort's Heir Apparent."
"Oh," Neville was taken aback. "Okay, then. I can deal with that."
"How are the Dementors?" Hermione wanted to know. "Did they enjoy the socks I left for them?"
"I think so," Harry said dubiously. "They've been wearing them all week. But I don't know if they enjoy them or not–"
He was cut off as a Dementor swept down the corridor, bringing along with it a wave of chilling cold and hopelessness. Harry brushed off the sensation with practiced ease.
The Dementor hugged Hermione.
The Hogwarts Professors drew their wands quickly, looking frightened and serious. "Don't panic, Miss Granger, we'll take care of this–" Professor McGonnagal began.
"No!" To everyone's surprise, it was Ron, not Harry, that jumped between the Dementor and the wands. "It doesn't mean any harm!"
"It– doesn't– harm–"
Luna prodded Professor Snape with one toe. He was rocking back and forth, muttering under his breath. "I think you broke him."
"Miss Lovegood, would you care to explain why you are not in your cell?" McGonnagal rubbed a hand over her forehead. "Mister Weasley, I assure you, none of us mean any harm towards your friend. Kindly back down. Mister Potter... I have no idea how you did this, but it is probably all your fault. Ten points from Gryffindor."
The black dog at Harry's side barked approvingly.
12 February 1994
Floo Room, Level Three
With the assurance that Neville had merely been playing a tasteless prank on them, and that the five adolescents would be staying out of trouble ("Honestly, Professor McGonnagal," Hermione had said innocently.), the Professors had agreed to leave.
Dumbledore had drawn Harry aside, however, with the intention of sharing some rather grave news.
"I'm afraid that you will have to repeat your third year," Dumbledore told Harry sadly. "Without proper instruction, there is no way you can advance normally..."
"But I've been practicing, Headmaster!" Harry said eagerly. "If anything, I'm ahead of everyone else."
Dumbledore raised his eyebrows. "And how is this extraordinary feat possible, dear boy?"
"Oh, that's easy," Harry smiled innocently. "Dolph is teaching me curses, see, and it turns out Bella knows a lot of Household Charms, too, even if she says they're useless. Robby likes History of Magic, and he's much better at teaching it than Binns is. And then–."
Dumbledore had paled significantly as Harry spoke, and he interrupted the boy before he could continue. "Harry, you can't possibly be talking about Bellatrix, Rodolphus, and Rabastan Lestrange."
"Well, of course I am," Harry said as if he was talking to a stupid person. "Who else is here who could possibly teach me? Anyway, they're not nearly so bad as you seem to think they are."
Dumbledore choked on his lemon drop.
19 February 1994
Sirius grinned madly as he performed the Unbreakable Vow ceremony for every Death Eater in the prison. Apparently after hearing Bellatrix's boasts about how her Little Dark Lord was able to fool even the great Albus Dumbledore, there wasn't a Death Eater in Azkaban who didn't want to be one of his sworn followers.
25 February 1994
"Harry," Sirius complained as he tagged along after his godson, "are we there yet?"
"No," Harry replied for the umpteenth time as the two walked deeper and deeper into the heart of the Darkest and most dangerous Alley in Magical Britain.
"Bad dog!" Harry snapped. "No biscuit!"
Sirius whined reflexively, then looked around to see if anyone had noticed. "That wasn't very nice."
"Be quiet," Harry admonished as they turned another corner. "We're almost there."
Sirius grumbled. His silence didn't last long; when he saw the sign of the store that was their final destination, he yelped in surprise. "Hey!"
"But– Borgin and Burkes! It's right near Diagon Alley! We were going in circles!"
"To throw off the people who were following us," Harry explained patiently. "Don't you know that the Minister's army of Heliopaths are supposed to follow anyone who goes into Knockturn Alley? Luna was telling me about it yesterday."
Sirius had already learned the futility of trying to persuade his godson that Luna's theories were anything but the absolute truth. He merely mussed his hair, pasted a dangerous expression on his face, and stormed into the store.
Harry picked at his nails for five minutes before Sirius exited, looking calmer and carrying a large cardboard box under one arm. "You've got everything?"
"Yeah... does that mean you're going to tell me why we had to come here in the first place?"
Harry shrugged. "Bellatrix is showing me how to set up an illegal export and import business."
"Harry," Sirius began slowly, "when the Daily Prophet said you were smuggling items to Death Eaters, I don't think they meant for you to take it as a suggestion."
19 March 1994
"It's so nice to have a sleepover like this," Hermione said cheerfully as she braided Bellatrix's hair. "The other girls don't like me, see, and they spend too much time talking about make-up tips and boys and such."
"Oh, yes." Luna had spread her own sleeping bag over the floor. "I used to have sleep-overs with Ginny Weasley, but she wrote to tell me that she wasn't my friend any longer."
Bellatrix hesitated, then gestured towards a book lying on the floor. "I've got a book..."
Luna picked it up and squealed. "Hair Tips for the Dark Witch! I've heard of this!"
As the three girls began to giggle over the book, Hermione took a moment to think of what her male friends could possible be up to. Then she shook the thought from her mind. After all, how much trouble could they possibly get into without her?
19 March 1994
Poker Room, Level Three
"Poker? I dunno, mate..." Ron backed off a little. "I always seem to lose at that, you know."
"Come on, it's just a friendly game," Harry urged. "It'll be just us, Dolph, and Robby. And the Firewhiskey, of course."
"We're getting tired of being beaten by Lovegood and the Dementors all the time," Rodolphus said, scowling slightly. "It's not proper, it isn't."
Ron surprised himself slightly by being in agreement. "Yeah. It's not that Luna's crazy, or that the Dementors are evil, soul-sucking demons..."
Everyone ignored Harry's yelp of protest.
"...but we're strong, virile pureblood wizards and we should be better than that!" Rabastan finished triumphantly. The two sworn enemies shared identical grins, then looked away just as quickly.
Eleven hands and five shots of Firewhiskey later, Ron was utterly lost to the world. To the world of sobriety, at least. The drunk thirteen-year-old was giggling madly as he looked at his cards. Rodolphus and Rabastan were both faring similarly, though between them they had drunk most of the bottle.
Harry was still sober, and was eyeing his drunken companions with a maniacal gleam in his eye.
20 March 1994
"Urgh," Ron groaned as he awoke. "Did anyone catch the hippogryph...?"
"No hippogryph, mate, just you having a bit too much Firewhiskey," Harry said cheerfully. "Have a Hangover Remedy."
Ron slurped down the foul concoction and felt marginally better. His headache remained, however, and he glared at his grinning friend. "Didn't you drink just as much as I did? Why are you so awake right now?"
Harry shrugged innocently. "No idea, mate."
A loud snore reminded them of the presence of the Lestrange brothers. Both were snoring on the floor, but...
"Did someone shave their heads?" Ron asked incredulously.
"Yeah, well..." Harry ran a hand through his hair nervously. "Apparently they ran out of things to bet during the night, and they bet their hair and lost it."
"Nah, it should still be in your pockets," Harry said.
Ron checked his pockets, and found one of them to be full of greasy, matted dark hair. He pulled it out and tossed it away from him, gagging slightly. "What about me? Did I lose anything?"
Harry looked apologetic. "Yeah, sorry mate... you bet your rat and I won."
"Scabbers?" Ron thought about it for a second. "Well, he's getting old, and Hermione's cat keeps trying to do him in. He probably wasn't going to last much longer anyway. I'll bring him over next Saturday, how does that sound?"
"Sounds fine," Harry grinned.
26 March 1994
"That him?" Harry looked at the thin rat sleeping in the palm of Ron's hand. "He looks, um..."
Ron rolled his eyes. "You can say it, mate. He looks terrible. Here." He thrust the rat at Harry. "Next time we play, make sure I win your owl, all right?"
"No way! Hedwig is mine. I'd never bet her," Harry denied.
"How about your Nimbus 2000, then?" Ron asked craftily. "I mean, since you can't play Quidditch here, you're not exactly using it, are you?"
27 March 1994
"Buck up, Harry," Sirius said supportingly. "I'll get you a new broom for your birthday, how about that?"
Harry just moped. "How could he? I mean, yeah, I won his pet rat off of him, but my broom is worth way more than any stupid rat."
Sirius froze. "You won his rat? Can I see it?"
Harry had no sooner pulled Scabbers from his pocket, still sleeping, than Sirius lunged for it. Harry dodged backwards, and Sirius landed on the floor.
"Come on, Harry!" now Sirius was the one whining. "It's Peter! Remember, when we met and I told you about how he framed me? Come on! I just want to kill him, just a little bit..."
"No." Harry looked at the rat in his hand in a new light.
"Let me kill him, please, Harry," Sirius begged. He widened his eyes and looked at Harry pleadingly. "Pleeeeease," he whined.
The slow, mocking grin that spread across Harry's face made Sirius pause. "I have a better idea," the green-eyed boy said. "Watch."
27 March 1994
Abandoned Cell, Level Two
Peter Pettigrew knew he was in trouble the moment he opened his eyes to see the dull grey stone walls and iron bars of a prison bars. What really terrified him, though, was the dark-haired man seated in front of him.
Peter squeaked in fear, scooting backwards. His back hit the wall, and somewhere in the back of his mind he wondered exactly when he had transformed back into a human.
"S-S-Sirius," he stuttered. "H-h-how n-nice t-to see y-you."
Sirius smiled. It was a dangerous smile with lots of teeth. "Peter, ole buddy, ole pal. I've been looking forward to this moment for a long time."
Peter squeezed his eyes closed and waited for death. Any moment now...
"Oh, don't be like that, Wormy," Sirius admonished. "Come on, open your eyes. I'm not going to kill you. In fact, I have a little proposition for you..."
Peter opened his eyes to see Sirius lay down a deck of cards between them.
Sirius's grin took on wolfish proportions. "Now, this is a little game I like to call 'high-stakes poker...'"
2 April 1994
Floo Room, Level Three
Harry was surprised to see Headmaster Dumbledore and Augusta Longbottom tumble through the Floo after Ron, Hermione, and Neville.
"I have been hearing worrying things about you," Dumbledore began seriously. "I insist that you return to Hogwarts with me."
"Sorry, mate," Ron interjected. "I had to tell Mum why I didn't have Scabbers any longer, and she told him. I didn't mean for this to happen."
"It's all right," Harry said brightly. "I don't plan to go anywhere. I'm well within my rights to stay here. Aunt Petunia gave me permission, said it was good to show loyalty to a friend."
Actually, she had told him that she had always known that he belonged in a prison, and she would be altogether too happy to be rid of him for good should he choose to stay there. But her signature and Uncle Vernon's were on the sheet that allowed him to stay there in any case.
Dumbledore frowned in consternation. Nothing this year seemed to be going according to plan. It had started with the incarceration of the Lovegood girl, and that maniac Sirius Black hadn't even shown up to test Harry! Also, the Elder Wand was missing again, and he was out of lemon drops. This was shaping up to be a fiasco of epic proportions.
In the meantime, Neville was taking his grandmother to meet his new human House Elves.
"Gran, this is Bella," Neville gestured to his pet Death Eater. "Say hello, Bella."
"Hello," Bellatrix said obediently.
"My word," Augusta Longbotton gasped, pressing a wrinkled white hand to her bosom. "I thought you were having me on, young man!"
"He is the perfect Slytherin, isn't he?" the dark-haired madwoman boasted. "No-one suspected him at all! In fact, even after this, they'll only believe it was a matter of chance... they won't realize his true intentions until it's too late!"
"Bad Bella!" a red-faced Neville cried. "Don't listen to her, Gran, she's mad."
"Now, now, I'll have you know that I was a Slytherin in my day as well," Augusta Longbottom peered more closely at Bellatrix. "Hmm, you may have a point there. Well, Neville, it seems you have hidden depths after all. Well done."
With that, Augusta Longbottom went off to examine Harry's living quarters, poking around his little wizarding tent until it looked decidedly lopsided.
"You're so lucky, Neville," Ron said with a fearsome pout. "Mum and Dad would never let me bring a Death Eater into the house as a pet."
30 April 1994
Poker Room, Level Three
It wasn't often that Hermione brought along a book to the poker tournaments, let alone a book on wizarding law. Only Neville was brave enough to ask why.
"See, according to Wizarding Laws of the Twentieth Century, House Elves cannot be imprisoned in any prison against their owner's consent for more than six months at a time." Hermione explained, smiling. "Since the Death Eaters are now your House Elves, Neville, and they have been in Azkaban for longer than six months, you can take them out whenever you want."
"Wicked!" cheered Neville, perking up. "Wait 'till I tell Gran!"
Bellatrix grumbled goodnaturedly, but Harry knew that she, her husband, and her brother-in-law were looking forward to being under the control of the new Dark Heir. Mulciber bowed to Neville, and Travers cheered out loud.
3 May 1994
The headline of the Daily Prophet caught Harry's eye. He picked it up and read it out loud to Sirius: "Black not a Death Eater? Treacherous Rat Peter Pettigrew Stripped of Order of Merlin for Crimes Against Wizardkind!"
Sirius was scowling at his beans and toast. He poked at his breakfast with a fork, scowling.
"I still don't see why he had to turn himself in," Sirius grumbled mutinously. "What good does that do?"
Harry sighed in frustration. "Honestly, Sirius, don't you see? Peter will be convicted of his crimes. Where do you think he will be imprisoned?"
"In Azk..." Sirius's eyes widened as his voice trailed off. "He's coming right back! Ha!"
"And then, in six months, we call in that law about the human House Elves, and he comes back with us," Harry finished triumphantly. "You can't kill him, obviously, but you can make him walk through Diagon Alley wearing a pink tutu and a sign that says he likes to sleep with young boys."
"I take back everything I ever said about you," a starry-eyed Sirius proclaimed. "You are a true Marauder at heart after all."
Harry thought about it. "I think I'm going to take that as a complement," he decided eventually.
1 June 1994
"This has definitely been the best year ever," Harry declared as he, Luna, and Sirius headed to the docks for their trip to the mainland.
"I agree, Harry Potter," Luna adjusted her sparkly enchanted glasses on her nose.
"I just don't see why Dumbledore says you have to go back and stay with the Dursleys this summer," Sirius pouted. "I'm your legal guardian, you know!"
"Oh, don't worry," Harry said vaguely. "I've got a plan."
Sirius stopped in his tracks. "Oh no you don't!" he said fiercely. "Let me remind you, your last plan involved you camping out in the most feared prison in the Wizarding World!"
Harry rolled his eyes. "You're being melodramatic, Siri. Let's just say... I've invited a few friends to visit me during the summer."
"...Friends?" Sirius asked with clear trepidation. "Which friends would these be, exactly?"
Harry turned to wave to a few of the Dementors as they passed by. The Dementors, inexplicably, waved back. He turned back to Sirius and winked. "You know, some people I met during the schoolyear. I bet Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon will be delighted to meet them."
Sirius looked from Harry to the Dementors, to Harry, and back again. "This keeping you out of trouble business is more trouble than it's worth," he sighed.
"Does that mean you're giving up?"
"And miss out on all the fun? Not on your life, kid."
(Please do not try this at home)
Author's End Note: Yes, Luna now owns two of the three Deathly Hallows. During a hunt for the habitat of the Crumple-Horned Snorcack, she will find the third, and her drive for world domination will be unstoppable...