Harry is released from prison. He's not free yet, as the ghosts of his past follow him.
Lucius Malfoy tossed the scrap of parchment he had been reading into the fire. His perpetual sneer firmly in place, he contemplated the rewards he would reap for turning over potter to the Dark Lord after so many years. Lucius reclined on the chair and remembered the path that led him to the position he sat in now.
Shortly after disposing of Potter, Minister Fudge had called him into his office.
"AH! Lucius! So good to see you! Thank you for coming. Iknow how dreadfully full your schedule is."
Malfoy sketched a bow. "I am always available for our esteemed politicians."
"Yes. About that." Fudge looked somewhat pale, almost as if he was under the weather. "It seems there are rumblings in the Wizengamot that there have been some...ahem.... inappropriate dealings going on. I do not need to point this out to you that this puts my re-election in jeopardy."
Lucius fought back the scorn he felt for the puppet before him. How easy it was to manipulate the man! He had planted the seeds of the rumor a few weeks ago, and had been softly prodding Fudge for an appointment to one of the Ministry's open positions for several days.
"I believe it would be in our best interests to bolster the internal support for my leadership by adding someone who I know is above this petty backstabbing. Lucius, I am prepared to offer you the Governorship of Azkaban. Now, understand, as this is an appointed position there is little real power within the ministry that comes with it. You would simply be responsible for managing the island's employees, reporting on the prisoners, and submitting a budget for each year."
Malfoy placed a look of shock on his face. He marveled at how transparent the man was. It would be easy to rip him from power when the time came.
"Of course, Minister. I humbly accept the position."Lucius thought of the people he would free for the dark Lord. By bringing some of his followers back within his control, any suspicions that Malfoy knew where Potter was would be deflected.
Fudge's face flushed with relief. He knew that Malfoy would not let him be ousted from power. They had had too good of an arrangement in the past. "Excellent! Now, after this afternoon's Wizengamot session, We shall have a celebratory drink!"
Lucius again bowed, allowing his hair to fall over his face and hide the snarl that erupted from his lips.
Malfoy knew that Potter was to be released today. He had planned the situation out carefully. Then while Potter was still trying to adjust to being free his minions could swoop in, and kill him. Lord Voldemort would be pleased with his performance, as long as he never found out that Lucius knew where Potter had been these past years.
Lucius looked at the large grandfather clock in the corner of his office. The hand clicked over and the bell tolled five mournful times.
Harry looked around the small town of Yarrow. The town's namesake grew in large patches along the main roadway. He had been dropped off of the boat at the docks, and left to fend for himself. The first thing he had done was to scurry to one of the shadows underneath a rotting set of nets and barrels beside the dock and tuck out of sight. His mind was awash in sensations that he had never dreamed he would ever feel again. He gawked around trying to straighten his thoughts.
The village boasted a dock that was sadly in need of repair. The largest building was probably a pub with a few rooms to rent above. Next to it was a small church with a diminutive rectory beside it. The rest of the buildings seemed to be small cottages, many with their own garden plot in the yard. A healthy man could walk across this village in two minutes.
Harry's head snapped to the side in surprise as he heard some of the village's mothers calling in their children for the evening. His eyes followed the children's noisy escapades across the village's main road. He squinted in an effort to make out faces, but from this distance, it was useless. In his memory Harry saw fleeting indistinct images of a bushy haired girl standing with a smiling group of red-headed people.
A silence settled over the village. Harry's indecision was crippling. His mind shrieked at him that this wasn't real, that he was hallucinating in his cell still. But the sounds, smells and the rough feel of the nets and wood under his hands anchored him in the now.
Two muffled cracks sounded from the dock area behind Harry. He froze as voices washed over him.
"Why are we in this ruddy little slum? I think Malfoy has finally gone right barking mad!"
The second man shook his head in disagreement. "He's just as sly as he was when he was in school. He sends us out on a 'Potter Hunt' just like the thousand other wild goose chases we've been on looking for the brat. When we fail, he blames us. If... and that's a big 'if', we succeed, he takes the glory. Either way, we lose if we don't even try."
Harry's stomach tightened. Even after all this time he could recognize the voices of the elder Crabbe and Goyle. His brain was on fire with the instinct to flee, but he knew the moment he moved they would see him. It was as if he was back in Azkaban. The dementors were outside his door, and if he couldn't clear his mind, they would turn their soul draining power on him.
Harry's mind locked into a vicious circle of flee or hide. His vision tunneled down to a pin-point, and the ringing in his ears drowned out anything the two Death Eaters were saying. His awareness lost its focus and he was floating in calm.
Perhaps this is what people felt when hit by an Avada Kedavra? Am I dead?
"Quiet! I think I hear something!" Crabbe drew his wand. With it at the ready, he advanced up the dock towards the small shore. Goyle followed a few steps behind.
As they approached Harry's hiding spot, Crabbe and Goyle could hear a strange low rumbling sound come from the netting. Goyle stopped and said,"Great job! You've cornered a mutt! Kill it before it bites us."
The being that was normally known as Harry Potter tensed its muscles. Its eyes glowed with an inner fire that was almost malevolent. It had formed several times before when his brother had been threatened by the dementors. Because it had no real memories, the dementors would leave after only a few minutes. Each time it had been summoned, the being had been able to muster more and more power from Harry's reserves, but how to use it? Harry wouldn't need it. He couldn't use it anymore. The early dementor visits had made sure of that.
The creature sifted through Harry's memories. It stopped on one and examined it in detail. It could see a tall greasy haired man shouting, "Clear your mind!" and then delving into Harry's innermost memories for the most terrifying, humiliating ordeals it could find. The creature saw how it could use this "legilimency" to delay an attack for the instant it would need.
It had been born of the need to survive, the want to not have to deal with the darker parts of Harry's life. Its only drive was to care for Harry. He was Harry's righteous guardian in mind, body and soul. He was akin to the angel Ezekial in purpose, action and name.
Gathering its self, almost like a panther readying for akill, he waited for the right moment. Ezekial was pitiless, and would stop at almost nothing to protect Harry. He insinuated a tendril of thought into Crabbe's mind, looking for something that would give him pause.
Locked away deep in a dark niche, Ezekial found a childhood memory. As with most children's fears, this one was deep seated, and still very real to the man before him. The monster under the bed, what's in my closet, strange sounds made by the house at night all rolled up into a swarming nightmare.
Crabbe could see light reflecting from the eyes of the mongrel hiding in the junk. He pointed his wand at the netting and drew abreath, only to let it loose as a scream. The pile of refuse had burst with something from the pits of hell. All he could see was death come to take him.
Ezekial's hand snatched the wand away from Crabbe. He spun around the man's immobile body and snapped eyes into contact with Goyle. As he completed the turn, Ezekial slammed his fist into the back of Crabbe's neck, and broke the wand held in the other.
Goyle gazed into twin pools of power. He had never seen such a focused gaze before except on his Dark Lord, Voldemort. His long time partner's unconscious body slumped to the ground like a marionette whose stings had been cut.
Without a second thought, Goyle squeezed the pendant that hung around his neck He vanished with a blaze of lingering energy from a port key. A split second later, Crabbe's spasming body disappeared also.
Ezekial surveyed the dock, carefully listening to see if he had been spotted. Not even a dog was barking. Nothing remained to threaten his brother. His stomach rumbled and he felt a wave of giddiness that reminded him that his job was not yet finished. The energy he had used to protect Harry was almost the last of the reserves. He relaxed his grip on the power and turned to the small rectory.
He raised his hand and weakly knocked on the door. An older man, well groomed and wearing decent clothes answered the door.
"Yes, who is it?"
The man stepped back from Ezekial in surprise for a moment. He surveyed Harry's pathetic state and wrinkled his brow in concentration.
"Are you hurt? Do you need a doctor?"
Ezekial looked up at the man. Their eyes connected for amoment and he found no scorn, instead it was a true feeling of concern for his well being. He opened his mouth and said, "Please. I need help."
Smells and warmth washed over his body as the door closed. His vision had narrowed down to a tunnel. He could rest now that Harry was safe.
"You're looking pale, are you going to faint?" Ezekial gazed at the man holding his arm and saw the first smile he'd ever seen. Then, the world went black.
Lucius was a tower of rage. The two idiots had managed to completely foul up the simplest of things! Kill a man who had been tortured for the past ten years. No fuss, no complicated plans. Just point and shoot.
"I will have the two of you flayed and thrown into a pit full of rats! I will give you one chance to fix your mistake. If you can't, don't bother coming back to me alive! Now get out!"
Crabbe and Goyle cowered from Malfoy. They had tried to explain the gibbering fear that the thing had caused, but when they tried to explain, it had sounded completely fabricated.
"And gentlemen? If one word of this gets out, I will personally tell the Dark Lord about your Friday night .... entertainments. Do we have an understanding?"
Both men paled and nodded. The rushed out of the office towards the Ministry apparition point.
Lucius Malfoy was a true Slytherin. He had gathered blackmail information on anyone he could, and used it fully to his advantage. Crabbe and Goyle had been one of the easiest pairs to get enough information on to subvert to his own needs. The two buffoons would go to London on Friday nights and go into the muggle night clubs. While they were there, they would pretend to be gangsters, and pick up muggle women for their beds. The best part was that they were wont to calling themselves part of the "Riddle Gang". Voldemort wouldn't even think twice about killing the two if he found out.
Malfoy say at his desk and contemplated his next step. He wouldn't depend on the two idiots for finding Potter. It was too risky. Lucius sat forward and began to make a list of the locations Potter was likely to visit now that he was out.
Harry felt warm. He was covered with something soft, much softer than his nest in the cell. Slowly, he could sense more and more things. His face felt cool, as if the beard he had grown while in the prison was missing. He was lying on something that was soft and comfortable. There was arhythmic sound that was gradually coming into focus as his mind climbed out of the dream world.
Harry slowly opened his eyes. His body ached horribly, and his muscles screamed anytime he tried to move. There were tubes attached to his arms, and something stuck to his chest that had wires running from it to amachine next to his bed.
With a sluggish dawning, Harry realized he was in a muggle hospital. With careful movements, he found the call button pinned to his bed sheets by his hand. He squeezed the control and waited.
A few minutes later, a young lady entered the room. She was dressed in a nurses uniform, confirming Harry's guess. She picked up the clipboard attached to the end of the bed, and checked a couple of things off. The she came to the bedside and looked at Harry's face.
"Where am I?" Harry rasped out.
"You're at St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London. We've been treating you for severe malnutrition, dehydration, and exhaustion. Can you tell me your name?"
Harry looked at the woman's face. He knew he couldn't tell her his real name. They would find his records from when he had been here with a broken arm as a little boy. That would just open him up to being found and losing the small amount of control he had on his life now.
The nurse smiled. She wrote the name down on a pad of paper, and then on the clipboard.
"Okay, James. We're going to bring in some broth for you to eat. Do you think you can manage that? The physician will be by later in the day to speak to you give you a look over now that you're awake."
"Thank you, Miss. Could I have something for the aches?"
"I can bring you Tylenol, but that's all until Dr. Brown can see you."
"That would be fine. How long have I been here? How did Iget here?"
"You arrived by air ambulance three days ago. The priest at the Yarrow Parish called for it. The parish paid for the transport. You are alucky young man. The Accident and Emergency doctors said if you had been left without treatment any later your heart would have stopped and you would have died. Now, rest some more. I'm going to change your I.V. bags and have that broth brought in."
Harry relaxed into the bed. He felt odd not having to think about Dementors, or freezing to death in his cell. He swore to himself that someday he would go back to the parish that had saved his life and repay them for helping him.
As the nurse was leaving the room, Harry asked, "Umm.. What's the date? I seem to have lost track of it."
"Sunday, September 10th, 2006."
Harry's stomach fell. He had been in Azkaban for ten years. No one had come looking for him for ten years. His eyes filled with tears, and he silently wept for the time he had lost.
I had some things come up while writing this chapter, and it turned out to be shorter than I had planned. I refuse to hammer out some crappy chapter just to get it done. While this is not the best I could do, I am satisfied it follows along with the general outline I've created for the story.
Please, keep the reviews coming in! As I'm sure you can tell, I don't have my story beta'd, so these are raw writings. Any comments, both positive and negative are welcome. How can I improve if I don't have feedback?
For all of you who are enjoying the story so far, thank you. I hope I can keep your interest with the upcoming chapters!