Under suspicion







Prologue





"No! NOO! Leave them alone! They didn't do anything to you! Leave them ALONE! It's me you want! Take me! Leave them alone! No! NOOOOO."

Harry Potter opened his eyes. The dementors were away now - finally away - to check on the next cell's prisoner. They had left him supper - a peace of bread and some water.

Harry was lying on the floor of his little cell in Askaban and waiting for the time to pass. He had seen nothing but the cold walls of the grey cell and those horrible dementors in about fourteen years. No, that was not entirely true, he remembered. Once a year he was allowed visitors. These visitors had always been the same people: Hermione Granger, Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall - the only people who believed him innocent - or had the guts to say so in court. But their word hadn't been of much use in the progress, for there had been more then three people saying how he tended to break rules all the time. One of those 'more than three' was Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, so the progress was lost before it had even began. Harry sobbed. It was all so terrible. He was innocent. INNOCENT! But they didn't believe him. Harry often wondered why they just didn't believe him - nothing was proved, after all. How could it possibly ever be proved, it was not true. The truth wasn't nice also, though, and he had to see it about ten times a day - always, when the dementors checked on him. Harry suspected the Ministry-people had only put up this lie to make life easier for themselves. Of course it was easier this way, much easier - for him it was hell. In truth it had been Deatheaters - about ten Deatheaters.

'But hey - this is not perfectly in order - we don't believe Voldemort has returned, no matter how bloody obvious it is! Hmm. what can we do now? Hey - no problem - we just take a guy near that place - in this case the easiest is Harry Potter - and declaim him the murderer! Yeah - this is easy! Now there is no Voldemort anymore and we can all go back to our peaceful little lives! Hooray - everything is in order again! Well - of course it is, we are The Ministry after all and it is our job to keep everything in order. We are very conscientious of course, and anyone saying anything else gets a life-sentence in Askaban! Ah, and no fan-mail on Sundays, on Sundays we rest, you know?'

There the sarcastic voice in his head was again. Normally he liked it, it was somewhat the only thoughts he ever had that were not entirely depressed. They were angry - furious - but not as sad as the others.

Harry heard the sobbing voice of Lucius Malfoy in the cell next to him. Lucius had been one of the Deatheaters there. Harry had managed to shock him as he wanted to disapparate with the others and Malfoy had been found there by the Ministry. Harry had been found shocked as well - Wormtail, who had been the last one to disapparate, had managed that. Harry had been too busy moaning over the bodies to watch his back.

Lucius Malfoy - though he had paid very well - had been too hard to get out of it all, so the Ministry had imprisoned him along with Harry as an accomplice of the murderer.

Malfoy and Harry had hardly ever said - or better shouted, as there was about ten metres space between the two cells - a word to each other in five years at the same place, but Harry felt somehow sorry for that man, although he had been one of the people ruining his life. He heard Malfoy suffer a lot when the dementors were near and he feared Malfoy might not take it much longer.

Harry heard Malfoy beg the dementors. "Please. please. some more bread! Only a little more. please. I need it. really. please. this only time. "

There was not much point in begging, Harry knew that. He had tried begging for food a few times in his first month there in Askaban. The dementors would just ignore him or beat him up until he would be quiet. He remembered Malfoy laughing at him as he had tried. He had often imagined Malfoy suffering that much and him laughing at Malfoy. Now finally, five years later, he had his chance, but he didn't feel like it. Again he felt sorry for Malfoy.

Harry stared at his bread and listened to Malfoy quietly sobbing in the background. He was hungry. Never before Askaban Harry had known how much hunger could hurt, now the pain was a daily feeling, and it made you insane. The urge to eat something though there's nothing there.

Harry grabbed his bread and raised. Malfoy's cell was about ten metres away and Harry had to throw it exactly in front of the door, where Malfoy could break it in two halves and take it in through the barriers. If he failed, the bread would lie between the two cells where none of them could reach it.

Harry threw the bread and it landed about one inch in front of the barrier. Harry was happy. Happy. Happiness was a feeling he had never felt in five years. Really never. It was the best feeling he could remember.

"Malfoy?" Harry shouted. He hadn't used his voice quite a long time now and it sounded really strange.

The man didn't answer but continued sobbing. He wasn't in a good state, Harry thought.

"Malfoy, do you hear me?"

"Shut up, Potter, leave me alone!" He sobbed, just loudly enough for Harry to hear.

"Malfoy. there's something lying on your doorstep that might interest you!"

"Shut up you ass!" Malfoy managed to yell before bursting into sobs again.

"Damn you, Malfoy, take it before the dementors do so!" Harry shouted as loud as he could.

Finally Malfoy crawled to the door and saw what Harry had done. He looked up at Harry unbelievingly, tears running down his hollow cheeks.

"Y. you did this, P. P. Potter?" Malfoy stuttered.

"Yes, Malfoy. Do you think you'll have problems getting it through the barriers? I thought it would easily work if you broke it apart. Will you manage?" "Y. yes." Malfoy laid his forehead against the barriers of the door, his face towards the floor so Harry didn't know for sure whether he was sobbing again, but it certainly looked like that.

When he had calmed again he only stared at Harry a while before he started laughing like mad. Not like mad - he certainly was mad now. Well, that was the impression Harry had.

"What's so funny, Malfoy?" he carefully asked.

"You are, Potter!" Malfoy yelled back. "What did you do that for, you prat? Do you honestly think I will give you anything in return? You? " Malfoy continued laughing like mad.

'A simple 'Thank you, Potter' would have done it, too' Harry thought, but he knew this was Malfoy's pride. The pride of a Deatheater. Things like 'Thank you' and 'I'm sorry' were words they never used, just to Voldemort. Otherwise it was weak - a Deatheater was never weak. Harry didn't really blame Malfoy for that - all proper Deatheaters were brainwashed.

An invisible Albus Dumbledore was carefully breaking the last protection- charm of Askaban. He was rather exhausted after all the charms and harmless little dark arts spells he had done on the prison. He didn't like those charms he had needed for this task, but he had no problem using them if it was necessary, he was on the good side after all, and good will could excuse quite a lot, as far as he was concerned. Naturally he wouldn't do any harm to the people, that was what he was fighting after all.

Dumbledore knew he wasn't the best in his subject anymore, but he was still rather good and he didn't mind 'Stepping aside for the youth', everyone had a right to become old sometime, and he was beginning to enjoy the use of this right.

'Huh - finally' he thought as he walked towards the cells where the prisoners were held. He reached the boy unseen.

Harry Potter was lying on the cold stones in the cell and sleeping roughly. The boy was terribly pale. 'No wonder' Dumbledore thought. 'With he food he gets here he's lucky he's still alive.' Harry's face was turned to the door with the magical barriers, so Dumbledore could see his hollow cheeks and the dark rings under his eyes. Harry Potter was a mess. 'He should have left this place fourteen years ago' he thought with a guilty feeling in his stomach. 'What kind of friend am I, doing nothing about this in five long years?' But then, it had been Harry's own wish to live through this. "Better 30 long and horrible years in Askaban and then enjoy the rest of my life than live in hiding 'till I die." He had said back then, but Dumbledore didn't think Harry still had such an optimistic opinion of Askaban.

Dumbledore took the invisibility charm off himself. "Harry. Harry, wake up!" he said quietly.

Rita Skeeter would really appreciate it if he was caught now. He could easily imagine what next day's front page of the 'Daily Prophet' would probably look like: Albus Dumbledore sneaking into Askaban - has the greatest wizard of modern time turned against us? He didn't like that imagination though, and he certainly disliked Rita Skeeter a great deal, so he wouldn't risk it.

"Harry, come on, boy! Harry!"

"Don't. please don't. " Harry mumbled quietly. "I didn't kill them. please, believe me. I didn't kill them. no, don't! Don't. Leave me alone! Go AWAY!"

Whatever Harry was dreaming, it certainly didn't sound pleasant. Dumbledore suspected it was something about his treatment here at this horrible place, he knew what this fool Fudge ordered people here to do to his prisoners. Prat.

"Please! Go AWAY! LEAVE ME ALONE! DON'T! NOOOOO!"

Harry was nearly screaming now and rolling around on the floor wildly. He was breathing hard and fast and was trembling as if in great fear.

"Harry! Wake up and be quiet, or we will both regret it!" Dumbledore whispered a bit louder. He had bent down and his face was not far away from Harry's now. "Harry!"

Harry woke up with a start. It had been this dream about the Aurors again. Yeah, the Aurors - the Aurors making sure he was not treated too well.

"Harry, finally. I nearly gave up hope to get you to wake up until sunrise and I really wouldn't appreciate being seen here chatting with a prisoner."

Harry turned around and gasped. Was he still asleep or was this Albus Dumbledore standing at the side of his cell in wizarding high security prison in the middle of the night?

"What on earth are you doing here?" Harry asked surprised. The next visiting was not before three month, that much he was sure.

"Please, Harry, be quiet, I do not wish to be caught."

That was definitely Albus Dumbledore.

"Sure, sorry." Harry whispered, fully awake now. "Please explain to me what all the secrecy is about, though."

"That's why I am here, Harry. Please understand that our situation out there is not going well in these days, with Voldemort at power and all. "

"Please get to the point, this sounds emergency." Harry interrupted.

"Very well Harry." Dumbledore hesitated before getting back to the actual news. "Well, boy. we cannot do this alone any longer, he is too strong for us to defend ourselves. we need your help, Harry. I know you planned to take your sentence in Askaban, but with the situations being what they are." Dumbledore didn't get any further when he was interrupted.

"Let me get this straight." Harry said. "You want me to break out of Askaban to help you defeating the Dark Lord?" Harry was confused. He had thought Dumbledore of all people would understand his decision.

"Believe me, Harry, I do not like this either, and I would not ask you to do this if it was not absolutely necessary."

"No. Simply no." Harry stated. "There is no way I am breaking out of this, Albus, no matter what is going on out there. Certainly you will know other ways to take them down, don't you? Because it would ruin my whole bloody life if I left this hell now, and you know that. Under no circumstances I am doing that."

Dumbledore sighed. He had wondered a long time whether or not to go here and ask Harry, because he indeed knew what this would mean to his friend. But there had been many lives lost in this war, if one life had the chance to save all of this, it would be plain stupidity not to use that opportunity. But he would not force him, this was a great decision for Harry and only Harry could and would have to make it, the loses were all his after all.

"How are you planning this all anyway? Do you want me to go to the Leaky Cauldron, say 'Hi, I'm Harry Potter, the Askaban escapee, and I'd like to have a guest room until I finally get the opportunity to kill Voldemort to make the world a little bit better?' "

Dumbledore looked down and said nothing for a while. "I thought. you could get a new identity and stay at Hogwarts as a teacher. You always were good at Defence against the Dark Arts."

Harry laughed. Dumbledore wasn't sure whether that was a good or a bad sign. He personally didn't see anything funny in their conversation and he feared Askaban had some really bad effects on his friend.

"Harry?" he asked carefully.

"The supposedly most powerful wizard breaks into the safest prison there is to free a supposedly murderer to make him his newest staff member. That's by far the funniest thing I've heard in all the time here."

"So you will?"

Harry immediately was serious again. "No, Albus, please understand how hard this is for me. It would ruin my entire life. Please don't make me do that!"

Dumbledore did his best to hide the sadness. Who could help them if not Harry? "Sure, Harry, I fully understand. It was a bad idea to ask you to do this. But don't worry, we'll somehow manage."

"Fine then."

"I'm sorry I have to leave you with that, Harry. I will head back to Hogwarts now, there's important stuff to do. Goodbye, Harry, I wish you all the best. See you in about four month then."

"Yeah sure. Goodbye, Albus."

Dumbledore was gone. Gone, and Harry was alone again. Alone, with no one but perhaps Malfoy and some Aurors to speak to, and both didn't really like him. Harry grinned to himself before going back to sleep. 'Not really like' was not exactly a good explanation for how they felt about him. The Aurors used to make fun of him anytime they saw him and treated him as bad. as inhuman. as they could without really breaking the law. As for Malfoy. well, he was Malfoy and acted like you would expect him to. It was not really good companionship.

***

Harry Potter woke up after an awful dream. The dementors had just brought him breakfast. Well, what they called 'Breakfast' was some water and a little piece of bread.

And again, Harry had a whole day and nothing to do but to live. Not that it was that easy, though. Many prisoners had strangled themselves or just stopped breathing or something similar. But Harry would survive. He had survived quite a lot and he had already been there for fourteen years now, if he had given up he would have done that earlier, and not suffer five years in hell for nothing. Dumbledore had spoken for him in court and the Ministry had taken his age into account. His sentence - 30 years at least, but Harry was optimistic - was rather mild compared to others, because he was a juvenile.

Harry thought about Dumbledore's visit last night. He had sounded like it was emergency, and Harry knew Dumbledore had huge problems out there as well, but he just couldn't take it. He would never be a free man again, never. But then, as Harry thought about it - How many lives had this war already taken? If he could end it all, would his life - one single life - really be a too great loss considered what it could save? No, it was not. Definitely not.

"How very stupid of mine." Harry muttered. "How very. egoistic. cowardly. "

Those thoughts were enough to make him willing to leave. 'Yeah, leave, escape!' he thought. 'I will leave this place forever tonight.'

Harry grinned and closed his eyes, dreaming of life outside Askaban. Breaking outside would not be a problem for him. No, not at all. He would have to change his look, but he would think about that later.

*** At sunset that evening Harry was ready to leave. The whole plan was set up in his head.

Harry saw the dementors coming. This would be the last time. For now. One last time he would suffer at their presence when they brought him what was called 'supper' over here. He would not eat it today, there were others who needed it more. He would be out in about an hour after all.

When there was enough distance between himself and the dementors, Harry transformed. He chose a mouse, so he could easily slip under the barriers. 'This is stupid' Harry thought. 'They enchant the barriers so it hurts terribly when you touch them. The space between them however. it's naïve to believe there are no unregistered Animagi around.' But then, the Ministry was always stupid, it was no real surprise anymore. Harry Potter was what people called a Multi-Animagus, a wizard who could change into different animals. He was the only of his kind he knew about. There had been one in Seventeen-forty-something, but was all ever registered. Harry had never seriously thought about sharing such valuable information with the ministry, they would probably make it official and his 'nice surprise' for Voldemort would be ruined. Besides, he didn't like the Ministry at all and saw no reason to do them a favour.

Harry had left the little cell within five seconds and was really surprised there was nothing interrupting his escape. But then, he had once heard there were no walls needed to hold people in Askaban, the dementors were doing a good job. They were, but this was still easy.

Harry had pushed the slice of bread and the little bowl of water along with his little mouse snout. Now he put an invisibility spell on himself and headed with nothing but his dirty clothes and his 'supper' for Malfoy's cell.

He pushed the food into Malfoy's cell, careful, not to touch the barriers, because the last thing he needed now was waking up the whole prison with a scream in pain. "Good luck" he whispered before transforming again, this time into a raven.

Harry Potter flew all night long without a single break and finally reached Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry at about eight o'clock in the morning. He had not needed a wand or such to change his face and he had had time enough on the flight. His hair was still messy, but blonde instead of deep black now. He had changed his mouth, ears, nose. his skin had darkened only a little. and - of course - his scar was well hidden. Only his eyes. his eyes. he liked his eyes. Not that he did not like the rest of his look, but he wanted to keep something the way it was supposed to be. And the eyes are the mirror of the soul.

Albus Dumbledore was rather confused as Minerva McGonagall told him there was some man she did not know standing at the entrance of the castle wishing to see him.

"I said you were busy but he insisted to see you right now. I led him into the entrance hall and he took a seat waiting for you. I hope you don't mind."

Dumbledore smiled. "Of course not, Minerva. There are Anti-Dark spells on Hogwarts, he cannot be a Deatheater or he would not have reached the entrance. And you should always welcome guests properly. I'm on my way. Wonder who that might be."

Dumbledore also did not know the man sitting in the chair in the hall, but when the man saw him he immediately stood up and greeted the headmaster - with a hug. Now Dumbledore was even more confused. What on earth was that?

"Sorry, er. " he muttered stupidly "Do I know you?"

Now the stranger laughed. "What, don't you, Albus?"

Albus? He had never seen this guy before and he hugged him and called him by his first name?

"Er, sorry. " Dumbledore stuttered. "I do not really remember. " Nothing like this had ever happened before. He usually remembered faces of people pretty well, but he did not recall this one. only the eyes seemed familiar, but you cannot know a pair of eyes when you had never seen the person those belonged to before, now could you?

"Let me introduce myself then. My name is Henry Evans and I'm here because you were looking for a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. I think I'd like this job. Is it taken yet?"

"N-no. Please follow me into my office, then."

Albus was totally off. He remembered neither the face, nor the name of this man. Never heard about him before, and he was certainly no former Hogwarts student. He was quite young and Albus would certainly remember this guy. He didn't like that.

"Take a seat, please." Dumbledore offered when they were in his office. The man did.

"So you really don't remember the appointment we made, er." the stranger looked thoughtful. "What's the date, by the way?"

"Huh?" Dumbledore was surprised. Did this guy just ask for the date? "Er. it's Monday, the 20th of August, I believe."

"Fine!" he grinned. "Then. you don't remember our appointment on Saturday night? Getting old, Albus?"

Saturday night. he had done some research on Alchemy notes on Saturday night. then he had been at that. horrible place. But he had certainly not made any appointments. Strange.

Dumbledore was still lost in thoughts about the strange behaviour of this stranger, when an owl entered the room through the window.

"Oh, sorry, just the 'Daily Prophet'!" Dumbledore muttered. He gave the owl three knuts and took the newspaper from it. The title was even larger than usual and Dumbledore knew the answers to all of his problems when he read it:

Harry Potter escaped from Askaban

Dumbledore slowly lifted his head and looked into the - quite familiar, he realised - eyes of his friend.

"Welcome back home, Harry. I missed you." he whispered quietly.

"My name is Henry Evans, you know." Harry said with bright eyes. "But I missed you too. It's great to be back."