Disclaimer: I do not nor will I ever own the Harry Potter story, characters, villains, heroes and creatures. I also sadly do not make any money off this story. Trust me; my bank account cannot lie about that.
Thanks to Nancy for her help as always!
FLAMES OF BETRAYAL
The young man in the cell shivered violently. He curled up into a ball, trying to find some warmth from the cold. His thoughts were incoherent; the images of his mother's screaming and dying were running repeatedly through his head. He shifted his body and buried his head under his arms, trying to block the sounds of screaming coming from his mind and from the other prisoners.
He slowly uncurled and sat up as the images faded away. The spell had been deactivated and his thoughts were now his own. He leaned against the wall, feeling weak. The food wasn't very good and the guards gave the prisoners enough to make sure that they didn't die, though that would've been a mercy. He'd thought he was lucky when the Ministry sentenced him to Azkaban. The Dementors had left the prison when they sided with Voldemort. He figured that he would be free from their effects, but two weeks after his imprisonment -- the Dementor spell -- as they called it, was integrated into the wards. It mimicked the effects of the Dementors, sucking out every happy memory.
The spell activated hourly for the first week of the month and with each week, the length between the activation of the spell grew. By the end of the month, there was a four-hour respite from the effects of the spell. I guess they don't want their prisoners too insane, he thought bitterly.
A small sob escaped Harry, but he quickly repressed anymore from escaping. He wouldn't give the guards the satisfaction of seeing him cry. They periodically came by to taunt him, to get a glimpse of the former savior's suffering.
Harry wondered how things were in the Wizarding World now. Was Voldemort getting closer to his objective? How many were dying? It hurt him to know that he could have saved man of Voldemort's victims if only he could've told someone about his visions. Though Voldemort hadn't successfully possessed his mind since his last attempt at the trial, he had been sending Harry visions to torture him. For several months, all he had seen was the mayhem Voldemort had caused -- the torture, the rapes, and the deaths. Then suddenly, the visions stopped. For some reason, his mind had closed and Voldemort could no longer send him the visions. Harry had wept for joy when he realized that Voldemort could no longer torment him. He wondered if it had anything to do with the new wards around Azkaban. It was probably harder for the Dark Lord to try to break into his mind. It was more than likely that Voldemort didn't see it worth his time or effort.
Of course, even with the new wards, Voldemort would've still had problems getting into his mind. On his seventeenth birthday, he'd gained his magical inheritance, and it involved gaining a significant amount of power. He'd been amazed at the feeling of power he'd had when he awoke from the magical coma. Since the power influx, he had trained to use his wandless magic. He couldn't do a lot as his body was weak, but if he'd been out of prison, he would've been able to do a lot more. It had become second nature for him to use it, but sadly, there wasn't any reason to use it in Azkaban. He decided to teach himself so that he didn't go crazy.
Another wonderful thing that had happened was that he had gained an Animagus form. He had been very surprised because as far as he knew, a Witch or Wizard needed a potion to help find a person's Animagus form. To his delight, he transformed into a large silver wolf, and though he found it amazing, there wasn't a lot he could do with it. The Ministry had decided to reinforce the wards after the scandal of Black's escape, so even if there were Animagi, they couldn't escape from Azkaban. The Ministry had wanted to take no chances that any of their prisoners could escape.
Harry didn't use his form all that much. It helped sometimes when the effects of the spell got particularly bad. He could transform and the effects would lessen, but nothing really stopped the effects of the Dementor spell.
He would've loved to share the information with Ron, but Ron hated him. Harry bowed his head and a couple of tears escaped, trickling down his face. He missed Ron, his best friend, his brother. Ron had been with him through it all. He had believed him when no one else had, when everyone had turned on him and didn't bother to try to find the real killer. Ron had fought for him and stood by him, secure in the knowledge that Harry had not been his sister's killer. Harry was grateful for that support and always would be, even if he never saw his best friend again. It saddened him when he remembered the look of betrayal on Ron's face at his trial. He also understood the look. Veritaserum was the one thing a person couldn't lie under. He never had the chance to tell Ron about Voldemort's possession. He hated that his friend thought that Harry had killed his sister and that his faith had been misplaced.
Ron had never tried to visit Harry, but he really didn't blame him. He hoped Ron and his family was getting along now. Pain shot through him as he thought of the rest of the Weasleys. Harry gritted his teeth, rage flaring up as he remembered them turning their backs on him and destroying his property. Molly Weasley had looked smug when she told him that she destroyed his trunk and everything that was in it. She laughed at his pain. The looks of hate and contempt that came from the Weasleys had added fuel to the flames of pain and anger Harry had been feeling.
Hermione was the first to turn on him. That stunned him. He'd figured with all the years they had been friends and everything that they had been through, she would've stood by his side and remain true to their friendship, but she hadn't. He could still remember the betrayed look on Ron's face when she smacked Harry and told him she wished he would burn in hell. Ron was in love with Hermione, but when she turned on Harry, that had been unacceptable to Ron and those feelings died a quick death.
Harry was glad that Sirius was no longer alive to see the state that Harry had found himself. He knew with all his heart that Sirius would've believed him regardless of what Remus Lupin had shouted to him at his trial. Sirius knew that not all things are what they seem, considering his own stint in Azkaban.
Harry began to feel the cold creeping up on him and he whimpered. The spell was active again. He could feel his mind slowly spin away from him and the screaming in his mind began again. He whimpered in pain, rocking back and forth, looking for some semblance of comfort. He slowly became unaware of his surroundings. He could only hear the cries of his mother and the evil laughter of her killer.
A couple of weeks later, Harry was sitting against the wall, his eyebrows furrowed together in concentration. He had a moment of respite and the Dementor spell would activate in a couple of hours. Harry decided that he would practice some wandless magic to relieve the boredom.
He stared at the tarnished cup that had previously held water. He concentrated and felt the power well up in him and flowed down his arm. His hand started to glow softly and he looked at the cup, imagining that it was a mouse. He felt his hand grow warm, and with a slight pop, the cup transformed into a small mouse. He felt a sense of elation rush through him. He leaned back against the wall, panting softly. He was so very tired, and he felt drained. He couldn't do practice wandless magic very often as it passed the limitations that his weakened body could handle. He grinned brightly and laughed aloud with satisfaction. He had been working on transfiguration for the last couple of months. The cup had always transformed with a tail, an ear or part of a leg, but today had been the first time he had transfigured the whole thing.
He picked up the transfigured mouse and petted it. He sighed deeply and closed his eyes, exhausted. He sat there while he mentally shared what he had done with Ron. He wished that his friend were here so he could share this moment with him. Whenever he made a big leap in his wandless magic, in his mind, he let Ron know what happened. He could just imagine the 'Bloody Hell' he would've received, and the look of amazement that would turn into a proud smile. Ron would clap Harry on the shoulder, tell him that he was proud, and then ask him if he wanted to go play some Quidditch. Harry laughed sadly, choking on a sob. He refused to cry.
He heard a noise and opened his eyes. He looked towards the door and cocked his head as he listened intently. There were footsteps coming down the hallway of the prison. Harry sighed in annoyance; the guards must be coming to taunt him again. That was the only time he ever heard anyone walk in the hallway by his cell. Of course, if it were Boric, there would be more than taunting. Boric liked to come into the cell and smack around the former savior. Great, he sighed, there goes what little good mood I had today. He'd actually been having a good day, but it looked like it was going to get worse.
He waited until the voices got closer, then shifted and moved to the corner of the cell. He huddled into a ball and made his gaze distant. He didn't want the guards to know that he wasn't crazy. They would be suspicious, and he didn't want them to watch him any closer than they already were.
The guards stopped in front of his door and opened it. Someone came into his cell and called out softly, "Potter?" The person walked up to him and nudged him softly with their foot. "Potter? Harry? Can you hear me?" the voice asked. The man squatted down in front of Harry and grabbed his hand gently, trying to get his attention. "Harry, it's me Percy Weasley. Can you understand me?" Percy asked softly.
Harry had frozen when the person grabbed his hand. He stiffened even further, shocked, when he heard the name of the person who was talking to him./ Percy Weasley? What the hell was going on? What the hell is he doing here? Why is he here in my cell? Why is he talking softly to me as if he actually cared?/
Percy sighed and turned to look at the two Aurors that had come with him. "He doesn't seem to be aware of what's going on around him. Help me get him up and out of this disgusting place. The Headmaster," Percy sneered, "wants him taken to Hogwarts. The Ministry is taking care of the pardon so there shouldn't be any problems."
Why was he was going to Hogwarts? What was this about a pardon? Did they finally find out what was going on? Did they finally find the real killer? Harry tried not to react, tried not to get his hopes up. For all he knew Dumbledore could be moving him for the safety of the Wizarding World. Wouldn't want the big bad Dark Lord to get the traitor, he thought sarcastically.
The two Aurors walked into the cell, grabbed him gently under his arms, and lifted him up. He didn't weigh a lot, thanks to the crappy food that they served in Azkaban. They walked forward, dragging him slightly. They walked out of the cell and turned to walk down the hall. They passed several doors before turning again. The walked a little farther until they reached the stairs. They went up the stairs, and the Aurors held onto Harry gently, guiding his way.
They made it up the stairs and went down another hallway, passing several more doors. He could hear the whimpering of the prisoners behind the doors and he shivered with sympathy. After several more twists and turns, they finally reached the large entrance doors of the prison. They walked out of the prison and for the first time in almost two years, Harry saw the sky.
They continued down the path until they had passed the wards, and then stopped. Percy pulled out a small parchment and the Aurors made sure that Harry's hand was touching it. "Hogwarts Infirmary," Percy said and Harry felt a pulling sensation at his navel. The next thing that he knew, he was standing in the infirmary at Hogwarts. He started to sway back and forth, feeling very dizzy and nauseous./ I hate portkeys,/ he thought to himself as his world slipped into blackness.
He drifted in the warmth, not wanting to wake up. He knew that when he awoke he would be back in Azkaban, and the memory that he was at Hogwarts would be nothing more than a dream.
He heard someone walk up to him and he froze. What the hell? He heard soft humming and the sound of glass clacking together. He realized he wasn't in Azkaban any longer. He opened his eyes slowly and looked around warily. He still didn't know what was going on, and he didn't want to give himself away. Everything was fuzzy and realized that he didn't have his glasses. He changed his eyes to that of his wolf form. He realized in Azkaban that he could change the vision of his eyes by exchanging one set of eyes for the other. It allowed him to see in Azkaban without his glasses. He looked around and realized that he really was in the infirmary at Hogwarts. He had been here enough times when he was in school to know what it looked like. It hadn't been a dream.
He glanced towards where he heard the humming and he could see Madame Pomfrey working busily. She was sorting through her potions, the glass making noise every time they hit each other. He heard noise at the door and watched as Dumbledore and Lupin walked into the room. He quickly changed his eyes to their original state. If Lupin hadn't been there, he would've growled at the sight of them. With Lupin's sensitive werewolf hearing, he would've heard Harry and he didn't want Lupin to know that he was aware of his surroundings. He has to find out what was going on first before he did anything. If he was free, he doubted killing those two would help him any. He had to be patient.
"Poppy, how is your patient?" Dumbledore asked kindly.
"He's doing as well as he expected physically. With all the nutrient potions that I forced him to swallow, he's doing much better. I gave him several energy potions to help his body cope with his extreme exhaustion. Physically he is as good as he can be, and with some food, he should be better in a couple of weeks. Mentally however, I'm just not sure. We'll have to wait and see what his condition is like when he wakes up," Madame Pomfrey replied.
Lupin sniffed and looked over towards Harry. Harry quickly blanked expression and stared at the wall. "I think he's awake now, Poppy. It looks like his eyes are open."
Madame Pomfrey whirled around in his direction and walked over to him swiftly. "Mr. Potter, how are you feeling?" Harry continued to gaze at the walk blankly and he could hear as Madame Pomfrey took out her wand and cast a couple of scanning spells. She clucked as she read the information of her scan. "Mr. Potter, are you able to understand me?" she asked, waiting for a few seconds, before sighing when she got no response.
Madame Pomfrey looked at the two men who had walked over to Harry. She shook her head. "I'm afraid he doesn't seem to be aware of what's going on. That may be a simple case of his mind needing to realize that it's safe to come back, or it could mean that he could be permanently catatonic. I can't say. The mind is a tricky thing and I can't hope to guess how it will heal."
The Headmaster nodded at looked at the catatonic man in front of him. He sighed sadly, wondering if Harry would ever heal. He needed Harry to be in perfect health to defeat Voldemort. Looking at Poppy he asked, "Is it safe to move him to his room? Dobby has asked to take care of him and I think somewhere safe might help."
"Yes, he's fine to move. He should be able to understand the basic commands like sit, stand, lie down and eat. He should have no problem with eating. Dobby needs to make sure that he does," Madame Pomfrey said sternly.
Dumbledore nodded and looked over at Lupin. He gazed at the sad looking man for a second before asking, "Do you want to carry him to his room?"
Lupin nodded his head and swallowed the large lump that had formed in his throat. He bent down to pick Harry up. He picked him up easily enough, even with his werewolf strength. Harry was light and he looked worse than Sirius did after twelve years in Azkaban. He blinked away the tears that threatened to fall. He turned and followed the Headmaster out of the infirmary.
Harry grumbled mentally at the thought of Lupin carrying him anywhere. He realized that they had walked down several sets of stairs and passed through many hallways until they reached a portrait of a young milk maiden. She blushed and giggled at the sight of the three men. "Password please," the milk maiden asked.
"Forgiveness," Dumbledore answered and Harry snorted mentally at that. First thing, change that stupid ass password. Like there is going to be any forgiveness going on anytime soon. They entered the room and Lupin carried Harry to the bed. Lupin laid him down gently and covered him with a blanket.
"Dobby," Dumbledore called out.
The house-elf appeared in front of the Headmaster. "Yes sir?" he squeaked.
"We have brought Harry to his room. Madame Pomfrey wants to make sure that you'll bring him some food. He needs to eat and grow stronger. Right now, he is not aware of what's going on around him, so you need to pay extra close attention to him. I have a meeting in a few minutes, so if you would please watch over him, I would appreciate it," Dumbledore explained.
The house-elf nodded his head vigorously. "I will, Dumbledore sir. Harry Potter is a good wizard and Dobby will take care of him."
Dumbledore smiled at the excited house-elf. "Very well then, we'll be back to check on him later."
Lupin gave Harry one last look, sighed and followed Dumbledore out of the room. Harry mentally sneered at the pathetic look the man had given him./ I'll forgive you when there's a cold day in hell, you back stabbing werewolf,/ he thought viciously. The door closed behind the two men and Dobby turned to look at Harry.
He stared at Harry intently for a second or two and then smiled widely. He walked over to the man lying on the bed and patted him on the arm. "Dobby is ever so glad that Harry Potter is all right. Dobby was scared that he would never see Harry Potter again. Harry Potter was not a bad wizard as they said. Harry Potter is a good and kind wizard. Would Harry Potter like some food?" Dobby asked and waited for a response. After few minutes of silence Dobby looked at Harry, his head cocked sideways. "Is Harry Potter angry with Dobby? Dobby knows that Harry Potter is well. Dobby can sense it. Dobby will not tell anyone if Harry Potter does not want anyone to know."
Harry glanced at the house-elf, startled. "How?" he croaked. He coughed a couple of times and tried again. "How do you know that I was faking?" he asked, his voice hoarse.
The house-elf shrugged his shoulders. "Dobby just knows. Would Harry Potter like something to eat?" he asked.
Harry nodded his head. "I would like something light. I haven't had substantial food in months."
Dobby smiled at Harry brightly and disappeared. Harry struggled to sit up. He was still weak, but not as much as he had been. He leaned against the pillows and looked around at the room. The door to the bedroom was open and he looked into the other room. It was a suite. It had a main room with a small kitchen off to the side and there was door leading to the bathroom. There was a door in the bedroom that probably led to the closet.
Dobby reappeared with a tray of food. He walked over to Harry and settled the tray on the bed. He climbed up on the bed, grabbed the tray and placed it on Harry's lap. "Dobby will stay with you on the bed, Harry Potter. In case Dumbledore comes back, Dobby can feed you. Make sure to keep it a secret," Dobby said slyly.
Harry looked at Dobby in surprise before giving him a small smile. "Thank you, Dobby," he said hoarsely. Harry looked at the tray and saw that Dobby had brought him some chicken soup with saltine crackers. There was bowl of peaches as well. He grabbed the pitcher, looked inside and found Pumpkin Juice.
Harry began to eat carefully. He didn't want to make himself sick by eating too much too fast. He looked at Dobby with a curious look. "So, tell me Dobby, how long was I in prison?" he asked.
"Eighteen months, Harry Potter. Dobby was very upset when he heard. Dobby waited and waited until the Headmaster called for him today. The Headmaster told Dobby that Harry Potter had been freed and that Harry Potter would be coming to Hogwarts. Dobby demanded to take care of Harry Potter. Dobby didn't want Harry Potter's bad friends to take care of Harry Potter," Dobby said angrily.
"Which friends?" Harry asked curiously.
"Wheezy's mum," Dobby answered with a grimace. "Dobby had to silence her when she found out Dobby was taking care of Harry Potter and not her," the house-elf said smugly. Harry smiled at the house-elf. He knew what Mrs. Weasley was like when she didn't get her own way. He was glad that she wasn't taking care of him. He wouldn't have enjoyed it at all. Harry finished eating and leaned back against the pillows. He yawned widely as he felt his body getting heavy. He was tired and ready to go bed. He looked at Dobby and smiled. "Thank you, Dobby. I'm very tired. I think I'll get some sleep."
Dobby nodded, took the tray and popped back to the kitchen. Harry lay down on the bed and cuddled up to the pillow. He yawned widely, closed his eyes, and fell asleep.
Harry awoke to the sound of low voices arguing. He kept his eyes closed hoping to find out who was in the room with him. He listened and realized whoever they were; one of them was sitting on the bed with him. He listened intently to the conversation that was taking place in front of him.
"I don't care what you think. I'm his caretaker and if you have something to say, then say it. I don't give you permission to move him, Dumbledore. You know as well as I do what will happen if you try to gainsay me. Go ahead. Hell, try it. I want you to. I would love to see your magic dissolve and the whole Wizarding World panic because you were stupid enough to try and do something you were not supposed to," Ron said snidely.
Dumbledore sighed heavily and looked at Ron with a benevolent expression. "Mr. Weasley..." he began.
"Don't call me that," Ron hissed venomously.
"Ron, he will be safe where I take him," Dumbledore said gently.
"I said no, Headmaster. You were all for letting him stay here when you thought you had control of him, but now that you don't, you're trying to remove him from Hogwarts and away from me. I'm letting you know now that you can't move him without my expressed permission, nor may you have anyone else move him. If that happens, then it'll be a breach of contract and you'll lose your magic. I don't give a damn if you like it or not. You'll just have to deal with it. Now, leave this room before you wake him," Ron demanded coldly.
There was a moment of silence before Dumbledore sighed, exasperated. "Very well, Ron. You do know that he's catatonic, don't you? He's not aware of you, or anything else for that matter," Dumbledore explained.
"I don't care. I need to make my apologies to him in private. Please leave," Ron said firmly.
Harry heard the Headmaster walk out of the bedroom and make his way to the door. A moment later, he heard the door close and his heart started to pound rapidly. Ron was here. His brother had come to see him. He had prevented the Headmaster from moving him elsewhere. He smirked internally as he wondered what the Dumbledore thought of the contract that he had unknowingly signed./ I bet it pissed him off to realize that he would have no say in what happens to me./
He heard Ron sigh and leaned back on the bed. "Hey, mate. I heard you were catatonic. Madame Pomfrey doesn't know if you'll ever come out of it or not. I know you probably can't hear me, but that's all right. I need to say this to you regardless. I'm sorry I failed you in the end. I stood with you, as I should have, until the trial. When you confessed that you killed Ginny and the others under Veritaserum, my heart broke. I couldn't believe it. I still had doubts about it for so long, but I let myself be swayed by my former family. Yeah, that's right, my former family. I have decided to go through the /Ritus Emancipo/. Since you didn't grow up in the Wizarding World, you may not know what that means, but it's the Rite of Emancipation. I've decided to leave my family and the family name behind. I'll no longer be a Weasley. In fact, I'll have no last name unless someone gives me one. I waited for you because I wanted you to be there. Even if you are catatonic," Ron explained. Harry heard Ron take a shuddery breath before letting it out again.
"Harry, I'm so sorry. Please wake up so I can let you know. You're my brother and my best friend. I've missed you so much. The guilt I feel is killing me," Ron said brokenly.
Ron began to sob softly and Harry could no longer stay still. He opened his eyes and looked at his friend. Ron's hair was long and still the bright red it had always been. It touched his shoulders and he looked as if he grew several more inches since Harry last saw him. He looked skinny, as if he hadn't been eating enough, which was strange when it came to Ron. Harry couldn't see Ron's face because his hands were covering it. Harry lifted his hand and Ron's hands away from his face. There were dark circle under his eyes, which were red from crying. He looked pale and his freckles stood out.
Ron looked at him, his expression shocked. Harry saw the surprise and hope shining from his brown eyes. "Harry?" he whispered.
"Hey, Ron," he said with a gentle smile directed at his friend.
"Bloody Hell!" Ron exclaimed, and then grinned widely. He reached forward and grabbed Harry in a hug. Harry leaned against him and sighed contently. He had his friend back and no one was going to take him away again.
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