The harshest thing about being in Azkaban, is what it does to the mind.
Part of what I wanted to show here was how the mind degrades and folds in on itself while in Azkaban. It also shows just how ugly a place it is, as without the positive emotions that the Dementor's have consumed, the mind would end up believing that it belongs there. A fate worse than death.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, anything to do with it, nor anything like that. This is just a fanfic, a poor attempt to pay tribute to the work of JK Rowling and in no way steal nor lay claim to her work.
not the least bit shiny,
Except for the times when the Dementors do their rounds. That's when the fun realy begins. If, by Fun, you mean pain as bad as the Cruciatus curse combined with everything good in your life that you've ever known being sucked out and replaced with every bad thing you've ever felt, magnified.
As I said, Lots of fun for all the family.
Actually, it doesn't hurt so much now. It used to, but after spending the first two weeks trapped in my own past. Screaming endlessly for it all to stop. Begging for forgiveness from Sirius as he fell through the veil. Pleading with Cedric to forgive me. Hearing my parents die over and over again. After all that, I slowly came to a realisation.
Actually, I came to several realisations, but the first and most important one, is that Other people make their own choices and I am not responsible for their choices. If their choices get them killed and hurt, then that's the way things go. I cant control fate, I cant control destiny. I am the pawn of that bitch and she makes my life hell.
The second realisation was that I cant trust anyone except myself. They all betrayed me, they all let me down when I needed them most. The living ones anyway. I could trust Sirius, but he's dead. It was partly my fault that he died, but he made his own choice to go to the ministry. I cant blame him, only myself. I could trust my parents. They gave me life, they died protecting me. Their own choice, I'd have understood if they didn't though, I'm pretty much a let down to what they imagined, or so I guess. After all, they were hero's and I'm a failure. I am you know? I made my own choices. I choose to cast that spell at Bellatrix, I could have cast a Stupefy or a Reducto or even /Expelliarmus/, but I choose to cast an unforgiveable curse. I made the wrong choice. I should have used the Killing Curse, then at least she'd be dead. I'd have come here anyway, but at least she wouldn't be free.
Free, it's an interesting concept. Was I ever free? I was a prisoner at the Dursleys, living as their slave, their house elf. Then I went to Hogwarts, where Dumbledore made sure I was trapped in a different way. Trapped by other peoples belief of what I really was. The-Boy-Who-Lived. I was never just Harry, I was always Harry Potter, their idol, their saviour. To Ron, who I thought was a friend. I was someone to be jealous of. Sure, he attatched himself to my legend. He played the part of my friend, and he played it well. Too well, I believed him for too long. I trusted him, then he betrayed me. Fourth year was pretty bad. He slipped up there at the beginning, he let his true colours come out. He wasn't getting the fame he so craved. So he turned his back on me. Then he testified against me, said that I was having visions of Voldemort, said I had a connection to him. He betrayed me. He had his piece of fame. He used it to get rid of me. He probably wanted to get more time with Hermione. I'm out of the way, now he can make his move. She will be more open to her best friend now.
The Dementors are doing their rounds again. Memories wash over me. Bitterness and pain. My mother screams again and again. She pleads for my life, but dies in the end. Cedric dies infront of me again. Sirius falls through the veil. Ron tells the court that I'm going dark. Moony turns his face away from me. Ginny cries into her hands, refusing to even look at me. Fudge declares that I'm guilty.
They are moving on now. I'm not much of a meal for them any more. I don't have anything good left. It's all gone. The memories are too vauge now. I think I smiled once, years ago. I cant remember why. Something to do with broomsticks. I know that a broomstick is important, but I cant remember why. I don't want to remember anyway. It just means the Dementors will stay longer, make it worse for me.
Pulling my robe closer around me, I struggle to sit up. I was sitting before, not on the floor. I must have fallen off while the Dementors were here. Not that it makes a difference. Noone will come for me here. I deserve to be here.
That's an interesting idea. I deserve to be here, with the Death Eaters and rapists and worse. I cast an unforgiveable curse. I belong here. That's why I plead guilty at the court. They were all so surprised. Dumbledore turned white, there were screams from the gallery. Fudge looked like he was about to do a dance of joy on the table. It didn't matter to me. I knew I belonged there, I knew I was guilty. I knew they'd send me back here anyway. I deserved it.
I deserved to be dragged from the Dursleys in the middle of the night. The Aurors said I was charged with using an unforgivable, they said I'd be given a fair trial. Kingsley was the one to bring me in. He looked disapointed more than anything. He shouldn't be, I don't deserve to be a hero, I never did. I never wanted to be. The holding cells in the minsitry were full they said. Something about death eaters. I don't really remember. I was barely conscious. They said they were sending me to a secure facility where I would be held till my trial. I just nodded. I deserved to be punished. I knew this. I killed Sirius, I cast the spell. It was my fault.
Azkaban. Hell on earth. They kept me here for three months. The Aurors that guarded me said that there were delays in the courts. The death eaters trials were taking longer than expected. So I had to wait my turn. I just nodded. No point speaking or arguing, I deserved to be here anyway. They didn't seem to care that I never said anything to them. Twice a day, a house elf would deliver a bowl of stew. I made a point, if I was ever awake, I'd thank them. They werent bad, they didn't deserve to be here. Twice a day, two words would pass my lips. Thank you. I couldn't say more than that. I didn't have the words. Even those two words hurt. My throat was always raw from screaming after the Dementors visited. It hurt so much sometimes. I'd end up coughing up the blood that drained into my lungs from my split throat. That hurt too, I knew I was loosing my voice. Not that I cared. I didn't deserve a voice. I deserved to be here.
I was told I'd been there for 3 months when they came to take me for the trial. They'd finally got around to me. Not that there was a hurry. Voldemort was back. Everyone knew it now. There were death eaters to capture and imprison. They needed to be taken care of. I could wait. I didn't mind. So they carried me from my cell, with my view of the fog that surrounds the island. They carried me to the ministry. I say carried because I couldn't walk. I'd barely been eating, so I had lost a lot of weight. I don't think I could have walked even if I had wanted to. I could count the ribs in my chest now. My stomach had sucked in on itself. Not that I knew how I looked, I hadnt seen a mirror in months. They'd hose me down once a week, so I suppose I wasn't too filthy. I'd pretty much lost any sense of smell by then anyway. When you sit in your own filth for a week, you don't tend to smell much. At the ministry they put me in a cell while I was waiting for my trial. 2 Aurors inside the cell, 2 outside. I was chained to a chair to stop me from escaping. I was a dangerous dark wizard I guess, to deserve such high security.
Dumbledore came to speak to me before the trial. I knew it was him because I recognised the beard. I didn't look up at him, didn't meet his eyes. He had made his choices too. He'd choosen to keep me in the dark. He choose to only tell me about the prophecy when I was at the worst I'd ever been. He could have told me at any time in the past 5 years but he didn't. He should have told me after first year. Even after second year. I'd proven then that I could handle it. Even after fourth year, I was certainly ready then. He waited, he delayed, he justified to himself that he shouldn't. That was his choice. He kept trying to get me to look at him, to say something. I wasn't listening. I didn't want to, I was a failure. He kept saying how they'd do everything to get me released. That I would always have a place at Hogwarts, that I should remain strong. He didn't know how I felt, that I wasn't strong.
The trial was show trial. Fudge was making a new name for himself. The judge of all things dark. No death eater was safe from his wrath. He'd sentenced Lucius Malfoy to the dementors kiss, a part of me wanted to ask if it was because he was guilty, or because fudge didn't want anyone finding out how much money Lucius had given Fudge in the past to turn a blind eye. I didn't ask though, it wasn't my place. I was carried in, to gasps of shock from the crowd. I guess they werent ready to see what their hero looked like. Long hair, unshaven, filthy robes. I was later told that I looked like a skeleton I was so thin. I didn't care, I just sat in the chair while they chained me down. I didn't even try to hide the shakes in my hands. I was asked how I plead to the charges of casting an unforgiveable.
Dumbledore was halfway through standing to speak for me when I rasped out my plea. "Guilty". Well, you could have heard a pin drop for the first few seconds before the gasps and shouts started. I just sat there, staring at my hands. They hadnt stopped shaking since the first week in Azkaban. I cast the spell, I was guilty, was that so hard to understand? They asked me if I was sure if that was what I wanted to plead and I just nodded. I knew I deserved to stay there. Dumbledore tried to ask the court for leniency. He detailed how I'd been under emotional stress, how my father figure had died a minute before. He detailed who I was fighting and her past record. He even played the trump card, how many times I'd faced Voldemort, how I was a good person. It didn't help much as the ministry started to parade people who said how dark I was. That the Dursleys were called was a surprise, their status as muggles normally meant they were ignored. They gave their testimony on how I was a freak and always terrorising them. The hypocrites. Ron was the hardest. He went on about how Voldemort was infecting my mind, how I'd been pushing everyone away, that he'd gone to the ministry to try to control me, to stop me hurting anyone. The bastard. None of the other Weasleys were there, except Ginny, who didn't stop crying, except Percy, but he doesn't count. He just looked smug.
In the end, none of it mattered. Both sides had their chance to drag me through the mud in some form or the other, before I was pronounced guilty. I guess Dumbledore had pulled some strings before the trial, because I was only given 9 months in Azkaban, due to mitigating circumstances. Of that, the three I'd been there would count, so only six months to go. I don't know if it was good or bad that they didn't bring Draco Malfoy up to testify against me. Or Snape.
I didn't resist or struggle as they took me out of the court. I didn't look back or around. I couldn't tell you who was in the audience, or what their reactions were. I simply didn't notice. All I knew was that I was going back where I belonged.
Some muggle scientists will tell you that time is a constant, that it doesn't change. In Azkaban it does. A single minute can take an eternity to pass as you sit there, waiting for something to happen. Then a month passes in the time it takes to blink an eye. I'd come to my realisations of the truth of the world early into my second month, by the end of the fourth I decided they needed to be made more visible. By this stage I could barely lift myself to eat. I'd eat the stew they gave me, and then a few hours later it would all come back up when the Dementors passed by. So much for letting it digest. This resulted in a trip to the infirmary. It was fairly simple. They strap you to a stretcher so you cant escape, carry you there, pour a dozen foul tasting potions down your throat over the space of an hour, while the guards play chess. Then the next day they pour another dozen potions down your throat before they ship you back to your cell. Those potions wake you up, flesh you out, give your body all the nutrients and things it needs, they fatten you up and force you back into perfect health. None of which is painless. I'd generally spend the next day whimpering in agony, because it hurt too much to scream.
After my fourth month, I decided that as I'd been so nicely bought back to health by the matron of Azkaban, that I should add some decorations. Opening a vein with my teeth wasn't hard. It hurt, but I'd been in more pain just yesterday and blood could be used as paint. So carefully, because I didn't want to waste any, I painted my two new slogans to live by on the walls, as many times as I could before the blood stopped flowing. NEVER TRUST was the main one. It was the most important to me. The other was simple. THEIR CHOICES ARE THEIR OWN. That summed it up to me. I managed to get a dozen Never Trust's down before a guard noticed. I was stunned and taken to the infirmary to be healed.
I think it was the fifth month when I finally went insane. I am still not sure of wether there was a trigger or wether I just drifted into it. Sirius never went insane because he knew he was innocent. He had something to cling onto, something to keep him going. I didn't have anything like that. I knew I was guilty, I'd made my choices. In retrospect, it must have been a gradual slide, into an animalistic state. I never uttered a sound any more, not even a scream. In a small part of my mind, I was aware of what was happening to me, but it was crushed under all the negative emotions. Without anything to support It, I devolved into an animal. Maybe it was a survival instinct. By cutting itself off from conscious thought my mind could survive. Like an animal gnawing it's own limb off to escape a trap. I don't know, maybe I'll never know. I don't want to go find out.
I don't remember leaving, I'm told I was carried out, almost catatonic, lashing out at any physical contact. They took me to Hogwarts, of all places. Thinking I'd feel safer there. In the home of those who betrayed me the most. They gave me my own room in the hopital wing. I don't remember getting there. I am told I broke some of Snape's ribs when he tried to force a potion down my throat. Pity I cant remember that. It's the sort of thing you want to remember.
I stayed like that for over a month I was told. They had to stun me or put a body bind on me in order to give me any potions. Food was given to me and I'd use my hand to eat it, they learnt early on not to give me any cutlery after I'd used a knife to carve NEVER TRUST into my arm. I've still got the scar from it, despite Madame Pomfrey's best efforts. In the end it was Ginny who pulled me out. She'd sit in the room and just talk to me. She never moved closer to me, she never pushed. She'd walk in each morning, sit down and start talking. She'd talk about the weather and what happened that year in school, an almost day by day accounting. She'd read from her textbooks to me, and read out what she was writing down as she did her homework. I would have moments of clarity, sometimes for a second, sometimes for an hour. Where I'd realise where I was and how I got there. However, it would end the same way. I'd realise that I didn't deserve any of it, that I didn't belong there. I belonged in Azkaban. Then it would come crashing back to me, and I'd retreat into my mind once more.
I'm sure that Ginny could see when I came back to myself. She wouldn't react though, just keep on talking, or humming or making some kind of noise. She was an anchor point I'd realised. It didn't matter to her if I deserved it. That thought left me stunned. It took almost a day to process it. She didn't care that I was guilty, she was going to stay anyway.
I didn't know how to react to that, and in those more common moments of lucidity, it'd try to understand why she made that choice. I was sitting on my bed in my room, rocking slightly, trying to understand, when I realised something was different. Something was missing. My eyes darted around as I tried to work out what it was. The sun was shining in through the window, Ginny was on a chair, there was noone else present. Then I realised, the noise was wrong. Ginny wasn't talking. She was sitting at her chair just looking at her hands. Tears were dripping off her nose in time with the shudders of her shoulders. I didn't understand. Something must be wrong for her to cry, but I didn't know what. Eventually she started to talk again, but now I was listening.
"I cant do this Harry, I'm not as strong as you. I want to be. I really do, but I cant. I don't know how to save you Harry, I'm trying, I am. I want you back, but I don't know how to reach you. Why cant I reach you Harry?"
I sat there, on the bed while she cried and talked to herself. I could tell she didn't know I was aware of what she was saying. She looked so vulnerable sitting there, like an angel. So strong, but so tired. I then had a realisation, that she didn't care if I didn't trust her, she didn't care that I had done the unforgiveable, she forgave me. She'd seen me at my worst, covered in filth, emaciated and insane, but she chose to stay with me. I'd howled at her and struck her, but she stayed. When noone else had. For the first time in a year, since Sirius had died, I felt something. Something that wasn't pain and hurt, that wasn't betrayal or sorrow. It was hope.
How could I tell her? How could I admit it to myself, that there might be hope for me? The feeling was so new, so terrifying, so overwhelming that a sob escaped my lips. I'd tried to hide it, to not let it escape, and just as I had it buried, a terrible thought struck me. One that left my mouth dry and my stomach in knots. That she might leave me too. That she might take away this feeling that I so desperately clutched to. Fear and horror at the thought of never feeling it again was overwhelming me, panic gripped me as I stared at her, praying to whatever gods may listen, that she not abandon me too. I barely noticed that she was watching me, that her tears had stopped as I reached out a hand to her. Shaking fingers touched her wet cheeks as she sat, frozen.
"d...d....don....leave" was all I managed to gasp out. My voice harsh and rasping. Desperation to hold onto this feeling was filling me so utterly that I couldn't think of anything else. "p..p....please, don't leave me"
It was a new feeling that overwhelmed me now. A small part of my mind named it Joy, as she took my hand. I'd been given a second chance, new feelings, new emotions, as she gasped and pressed my hand to her cheek
"I wont leave you Harry. I'll always be here for you. I'll never leave." And hot tears started to spill from her eyes, to match my own. I could almost feel that her emotions matched my own. A desperate hope and wondering joy, the dream of a second beginning. It was almost ironic. Fear of being alone, had bought me back. That fear of what I had hoped for, had given me a second chance.
Now, years later, I am still recovering from the scars of Azkaban. The cold of that place never left me, I dress too warmly, I don't laugh much and when I do it is too loudly, as I desperately cling to every feeling I can. I have to leave the light on at night or the memories come back, the pledge I made never to trust. I cling to Ginny then, clutching her tight as a shield against the dark, my angel of hope. Letting her touch and words keep the darkness at bay.