Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Masked Child

Imprisoned, Then Away

by ShadeDancer 0 reviews

Chapters 3 and 4

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: R - Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Crossover - Characters: Harry - Warnings: [!] [?] - Published: 2006-04-22 - Updated: 2006-04-23 - 4344 words

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, any similarities to Man in the Iron Mask, or Lord of the Rings.

Harry wasn't quite sure what had happened after that, but when he woke up he was no longer in the shop in Knockturn Alley. It took him a moment to orient himself, to reconcile that the horrible flashes he was seeing in his mind were real, before he began to hyperventilate. Desperately he brought his hands up to the cool, unyielding iron encasing his face and began to claw at the metal casing and lock in hopes of prying it off. While doing so he imagined that he could almost feel slight grooves in the metal where previous owners had tried to do the very same thing.

Whimpering even more frantically, he continued clawing at the mask until his fear exhausted him and it was too painful to keep tugging at the iron with his ripped fingernails and bloody fingers. An unnatural calm settled over him. The last thing he could remember was a scream harshly ripping its way free from his throat and the word /obliviate/. He knew the spell hadn't been aimed at him though, that one had been for Aramis so that the man would not remember what had transpired there that night; the Professor was not taking any chances with Aramis' conscience. With a sigh, Harry abandoned this hopeless train of thought and turned his attention to figuring out where he was now being held while the calm was still upon him.

The room was dark and musty, grime encrusting the walls. A lumpy mattress with a threadbare blanket was pushed up against one wall and in one corner there was a latrine hole beside which was a battered bowl with tepid water swirling in it. The fourth wall had a wide door of bars set into it. There was nothing else. Upon closer examination Harry saw grooves etched into the walls, marks just the right size to have come from human fingers. He had not been the first person trapped within this desolate cell, he did not want to think of what must have happened to its previous occupant. Harry felt his chest heave as if underneath a great pressure and a scream ripped its way free, echoing out thought the mask to bounce through the desolate corridors of his prison. If he would have known what sort of horrible creatures his screams would draw to him, he would have remained silent for the rest of eternity. Yet now he knew where he was. Azkaban. Placing him in an iron mask had not been enough for the Professor, he had thrown him in Azkaban as well. Harry still didn't know what he had done so horribly wrong that the Professor would do this to him.

~~ ~~ ~*~

At first it was only one or two dementors, their chill sweeping over Harry to leave him huddled upon the floor, weakly clawing at the mask encasing his face as he relived the horror of its donning again. He saw once again the cold look in the Professor's eyes where before he had only been able to see warmth, his fingers throbbing in pain as he tried to free himself from the iron mask.

"Please," he whimpered, "please no. Please."

"A child," one of the dementors rasped in a whisper, sounding startled as its companion echoed the phrase.

"A child."

Another dementor showed, soon followed by another, and Harry felt frozen to the bones even as his ears continued to hear the conversation going on about him. It seemed as if every dementor in Azkaban had heard the murmurs of a child and had come to the corridor in which Harry's cell was located. Then the crowd of gathered dementors parted and one that was obviously their leader came forth and Harry felt as if he had suddenly gone numb, he couldn't move, couldn't think, could only listen to the ghostly whispers the dementors uttered.

"A child should not be here," the Leader whispered almost sadly, "how did a child come to be here?"

"The man," one of the dementors whispered in answer.

"The old one with the beard," another further elaborated.

"The man with a sick soul," a third proclaimed, causing a murmur to run through the gathered dementors.

"He left the child to rot," the first dementor spoke again.

"But he's a child," the Leader whispered, broken, "has he no heart?"

"A child," the dementors began to whisper all over again as if it was a mantra, their voices swelling and rising until it was all Harry could hear.

"Yes," the Leader whispered, "a child, our child."

The Leader had come forward then and the door to Harry's cell swung open at her approach, Harry somehow knew the Leader was a female even through the numbness that held him, though she didn't touch the door. Behind her the dementors crowded closer to the bars of his cell, trying to get nearer to him. Harry remained huddled upon the floor, tried to remain huddled in on himself as the dementor lifted him up and lowered her head towards his. Panicked, he wondered if the dementor was going to suck out his soul as he had read they did, and hysterically wondered if she could with the mask in the way. But the dementor did not try and press her lips to the mouth slit, but to the forehead of his mask, directly over his scar, and Harry could feel the kiss burn even through the metal. As if some spell had been broken, Harry no longer felt numb and the dementor's chill no longer affected him negatively, but seemed to reach out to comfort him instead. The biggest change was in the dementors themselves though. No longer did he see the dementors in terms of scabby and decaying flesh, but viewed them in the ethereal forms they had possessed before black magic had twisted them into what they had become. His mind was also flooded with knowledge, knowledge of ages past, knowledge from the collective minds of the dementors, a mind he was now a part of.

"Our child," the Leader, Harry now knew her to be called Alara, once again whispered, and this time it was beautiful instead of raspy.

Out in the corridor the words were taken up, the mantra of 'a child' becoming 'our child'. Alara had tried to get the mask off of him then, seeing in his mind how it had come to be on him, but she had been unable to do so. One by one the dementors had tried all sorts of craft to remove the mask, but their magic had been unable to affect it, their hands unable to release the lock. Some of the dementors had actually wept them, distressed that in this first task they could not help their child, but Harry had gathered himself back together and bade them stop. From their mind he could tell that they would continue to try and remove the mask, but he also now knew that their magic was too different from that of wizards to be of any help. There was nothing else he could do but bear this burden, but now things weren't as bleak as when the mask had first been fitted to his face, as when he had woken up in this cell. Then he hadn't had the dementors to support him, to care for him. Now he did. It was amazing what being an individual, yet a part of a collective mind could do to boost ones morale.

~~ ~~ ~*~

It had been roughly two weeks since Harry had found himself in Azkaban and became the child of dementors. Since then they had moved him away from the mean cell he had first been laid in and deeper into the bowels of Azkaban where they could keep him from prying eyes and could stay with him. His new room was nice and comfortable, if a bit sparse, and the dementors had made sure he was fed well. They had also begun to teach him some things, like how to move about their collective mind as well as to keep his own thoughts closed off when he wished them to be. It was difficult, but Harry welcomed the tasks as it kept his young mind from dwelling on his current plight. Already a few times he had lapsed into despair only to find either Alara or her mate at his side to comfort him and cheer him up as much as they were able, though they weren't overly affectionate in their attempts. Currently he was working on learning how to master the script the dementors used, the runes flowing uncertainly from the quill onto parchment Alara had procured from somewhere.

A sudden 'pop' from behind him startled Harry from his concentration and he whirled, he knew that sound.

"Milpy?" Harry was both excited and shocked to see the little house-elf, "what are you doing here?"

"Milpy was sad and missing her Harry," the little house-elf proclaimed, bobbing up and down, "His Headship made Milpy to work in the kitchen, but Milpy was sad and the other house-elves was wondering. His Headship said the house-elves could not be wondering and told Milpy to come to her Harry. But what is her Harry wearing?"

Milpy had finally gotten a good look at Harry and her eyes had widened in shock, her voice filled with disbelief. Bitterly Harry turned away from the little house-elf, not noticing the tears threatening in her tennis ball eyes.

"It's a mask, Milpy," Harry's voice was flat, "the Professor had it put on me and then threw me in here, but here wasn't nearly as nice as it is now."

The little house-elf was aghast, "not His Headship. Not to Milpy's Harry. But her Harry doesn't lie. Oh my Harry!"

As the dementors had done, Milpy tried to remove the mask using her house-elf brand of magic, but it proved just as futile as all the efforts Alara and the others had made. When her every effort failed, Milpy started to bawl, pulling her batty ears over her eyes as she twisted them. Harry was at a loss at what to do for the little house-elf and so settled for resting a hand upon Milpy's shoulder as Alara had begun to do whenever he was distraught, even though he could now use some comfort himself. As if thinking her name had conjured her to his side, Alara appeared in the doorway of his room and looked curiously at Milpy while wondering what had happened to distress both a house-elf and her Harry.

"She is not one of ours," Alara stated matter-of-factly in the dementor tongue as she came to stand next to him and place a hand upon his shoulder.

"No," Harry replied in the same language, causing Milpy to jerk her head up in surprise when she realized he wasn't using English, "Milpy had been my companion as long as I can remember. The man with the sick soul sent her away to rot with me so she did not accidentally reveal my existence in her sorrow."

"My Harry?" Milpy questioned, "What is My Harry doing?"

Harry turned to Milpy, "this is Alara, Milpy. She leads the dementors and takes care of me. They have claimed me as their child and brought me from the dirty cell the Professor left me in to hide me away here."

For a moment Milpy glared defiantly up at Alara before dropping her eyes and wringing her hands in the tea cozy she wore, "Milpy will share her Harry, just don't send Milpy away from her Harry. Please let Milpy take care of her Harry!"

Alara could not repress the ghost of a smile that crossed her face as the house-elf before her managed to appear defiant and yet subservient all at once. "I will not separate you from your Harry, Milpy, but you must share him. Harry is our child now just as he is your Harry."

Milpy nodded sharply and looked shrewdly, or as shrewdly as a house-elf could, around Harry's room and declared, "Milpy's Harry is needing things, Milpy shall be getting them."

With a pop similar to the one that had heralded her arrival, Milpy disappeared before Harry could stop her. With a sigh he settled back down with the parchment he had been working on as Alara drifted back off, now satisfied that he was fine. Yet Harry couldn't concentrate on the work he had been doing before as he waited for Milpy to return, he wondered what she had gone to get.

Thankfully Milpy wasn't gone long, but when she came back she was nearly in tears, a big pile of books teetering next to her.

"All her Harry's things," Milpy wailed, "all her Harry's things. Gone. All gone but books. Milpy brought all the books. Milpy wouldn't leave them to disappear. Milpy knows how her Harry loves his books."

A coldness settled in Harry as he went over to comfort Milpy, the mask seeming to constrict even more around his face. All his personal things were gone, most likely destroyed or given to Harlan. The Professor was good; Harry had to give the old bastard that.

It was with an odd sense of expectancy that Harry realized it was his birthday. In just a short time he would be nine. He was actually looking forward to having a birthday this year, unlike last year when he had miserably snapped at everyone to leave him alone. Today also marked his second year of being imprisoned in Azkaban, two years of wearing the mask. He had realized the coinciding of the dates last year. The Professor had certainly known how to make a birthday memorable. This year would be different though. Milpy had somehow gotten a hold of a tiny cake for him and the dementors had promised him a wish.

"We have no presents to give you," Alara had said mournfully, "indeed it is risky to even allow you to keep the books Milpy finds you, but we can try and grant you a wish that is in reason and in our power to give. Think well upon it and be prepared to share it with us tomorrow."

He had been thinking about it ever since, but was still unable to come up with the perfect wish. Oh, he knew of many things he wanted to wish for, but they were beyond what the dementors could give. They couldn't remove the mask, couldn't give him his freedom, couldn't return his parents to him. Not that Harry would ever voice that last wish even if he thought it possible, it would break Alara's heart and Necromancy wasn't something to be messed with lightly. Necromancy was what had twisted the dementors into what they were today. Perhaps he would wish for a new set of clothes. The baggy and rough set of uniform prison issue clothes he had woken up in tow years ago were now ratty and threadbare, nearly worn through in spots.

It would be great to have something soft to wear, something unstained and clean, but Harry suspected that if the dementors could get him new clothes that they would be a duplicate of what he wore already. Come to think of it, Milpy never mentioned trying to find him clothing either, but that could be because she was a house-elf. He was surprised that she occasionally managed to bring him a book or some small treat. He suspected the books had been abandoned by their previous owners as most were well worn and often bound with spellotape to keep them from falling apart. Harry was so caught up in his thoughts that he almost didn't realize that the dementors were gathering around him until Alara spoke.

"We are ready to hear your wish, our child," Alara told him via the collective mind of the dementors so that they all could know what was going on, and Harry suddenly knew what he was going to wish for.

"I wish to go outside for a bit," Harry whispered aloud even as he also relayed the thought through the collective mind, "I only ever remember being outside once, the night I was doomed to wear the mask."

Harry heard Alara breath a soft sigh and she turned to her mate.

"Near dawn would be best, right after the guards change," he said slowly, picking up on Harry's unconscious desire to see the sun, "and the courtyard is always empty unless a new prisoner is brought. The guards will never know, do not know of our child. They will not come near enough to us to become suspicious either."

"It can only be for a brief bit," Alara warned Harry as she turned back to his, glad she was able to grant this wish to her child.

"I still wish it," if anyone could see Harry's face beyond the mask they would have seen the expression of a wistful child.

"Your wish is granted," Alara confirmed and held out her hand to Harry to seal the promise, "we shall have to be quick. I will come back for you when the time comes."

A few hours later Harry almost couldn't believe it was true as he took Alara's proffered hand again and followed her quickly through the dark and silent warren of halls of Azkaban, a handful of the dementors not currently assigned to patrol accompanying them. Only once during their trek through the corridors of Azkaban did they come across an auror on guard, and even if he had not fled in the opposite direction at their approach, he wouldn't have seen Harry in the midst of the dementors or believed that a child would willingly be encircled by what the wizarding world viewed as the most vile creatures to walk the earth.

By the time they emerged from the bowels of the prison and made their way to the courtyard door, the sky was beginning to lighten. Every bit of this outside world was an assault on senses used to moldering stone and dank gloom. That wasn't to say that the island of Azkaban wasn't a dreary place on the outside, but it was much less stifling in darkness outside the confines of stone walls. Harry's feet were tentative as he moved from the relative and familiar safety of the prison walls. The dementors let him go out by himself, holding themselves back to let their child do this on his own, they didn't want to intrude on his wonder besides feeling what emotions slipped past his blocks.

For a moment Harry's steps seemed almost aimless until it became clear that he was being drawn to the single growing thing in the courtyard, the single growing thing upon all of Azkaban. It was a tree, its bark that once could have been silver or white now a dull grey in parody of death. No one knew what color flowers the tree had ever bore, if any. Harry came to a halt under the bare grey branches of the tree, one hand reaching out to lightly caress the withering grey bark as something extraordinary happened. The sun rose. Now the fact that the sun rose wasn't a miracle in itself, but the fact that the sun's light managed to pierce the gloom of Azkaban to shine directly onto Harry was.

The sun light seemed to engulf Harry and the tree, causing Harry's eyes to water and tears to stream down his face at the unfamiliar brightness. A scattering of those tears fell through the eye slits of the iron mask as Harry pitched his head forward in an attempt to shield his eyes from the light and splashed upon the roots of the dying tree. In horror Alara tried to reach her child, but a pure light had surrounded him, keeping them apart.

"Harry child!" Alara cried out as Harry fell to his knees, hand still touching the now-blooming tree.

The light flared, forcing the dementors to flee back into the gloomy protection of Azkaban. When they could finally emerge again, Harry was gone.

~~ ~~ ~*~

He was falling through the light. It was shooting around him, both comforting and harsh. The knowledge of ages past flowing through the light, just waiting to be explored. Desperately, Harry reached out to stop his fall and the light flared again. Slowly the light that had engulfed him receded, and Harry once again felt the bark of the tree under his hand, the ground firmly beneath his knees. But this tree thrummed with life, the silver bark smooth and the flowers blooming in white profusion. The ground beneath him was not barren, the air not heavy with gloom or scented with the perfume of a decaying beach meant to imprison those who dwelt on a forsaken island. He wasn't, couldn't, be on Azkaban any longer and he could no longer sense the communal mind. As Harry realized this a hand, a human hand, landed on his shoulder and Harry whirled in shock, staring up fearfully at the man speaking to him. In the past few years the only contact Harry had with other humans had been the insane prisoners of Azkaban, and this large man before him looked anything but insane.

~~ ~~ ~*~

Two months had passed since the War of the Ring and Aragorn still found it hard on occasion to believe that he was really the King, that they had really entered the Days of Peace. There were also times when he wished to be able to melt into anonymity, to take up a Ranger's gear and disappear into the wild. It was why he took these early morning walks just as the sun was rising so that he could enjoy time away from duties and responsibility without those of Gondor's court surrounding him to curry favor. People had come to respect this time as his, and therefore he was surprised to see a kneeling figure under the White Tree. No one was ever out here at this hour and so Aragorn assumed something must be wrong with the bowed figure. Moving with the silent grace of a Ranger, or someone raised among the elves, Aragorn approached the figure and placed a hand upon their shoulder, his other resting upon his knife just in case.

"Are you alright?" The figure had startled at his touch, drawing back from him as he spoke.

But Aragorn was just as shocked as the boy, he could tell the slight figure was a boy now, and probably not very old at that. The child looked half-starved, his clothes rags about his thin frame, but that wasn't what really caught Aragorn's attention. The child's head was encased in metal, frantic breaths rasping through an aperture left for his mouth, bright green eyes fearfully staring at him from out of their holes. This boy was definitely not much more than a child. Who would dare do something so cruel to a child? No child could possibly do something evil enough to warrant such punishment.

"It's all right little one," Aragorn spoke as if to a wild animal, hands out to show he meant no harm, "I won't hurt you."

Gradually the child began to relax, his shaking abating as he stopped shrinking away.

"Yes," Aragorn continued to coax, "that's right. There's nothing to fear. Come on, take my hand. We'll see if we can get this thing off of you. My name is Aragorn."

Harry allowed Aragorn to help him to his feet, trusting this man even though he was surprised to hear another human speak in a tongue that was so similar to the dementor's language.

"I'm Harry," he finally managed to speak; "The mask won't come off. It's hopeless."

The child's resignation was heartbreaking.

"We will still try," Aragorn reassured Harry as he began to lead the child through the castle complex, softly asking questions as they went.

The odd pair met no one on their way to the castle smithy, but the blacksmith was already up and hard at work by the time they entered his domain. Quickly Aragorn explained what little he knew of the situation, which wasn't much. He had found out that Harry was nine years old and a man he called the Professor had ordered the mask put on him. The blacksmith set to examining the iron mask and declared the lock would have to be busted off. Quickly the smith gathered the tools he'd need, but Harry shrunk away in fear as the man tried to approach him. Letting the man look over the mask and lock had been one thing, but to let him so near with those tools was another. Harry had given his trust to Aragorn easily, but wasn't too sure about this new man who looked as if he could easily break him in half.

"Perhaps I should try," Aragorn took the tools from the protesting smith, speaking softly to Harry until he relaxed enough for Aragorn to attempt to bust off the lock.

Still speaking to Harry, Aragorn raised the smith's hammer and brought it down on the spike they had wedged into the iron lock. Harry whimpered but held still as he watched the hammer descend, the whimper becoming a cry when the hammer actually struck the spike, his head jarring painfully within the mask. The spike had shattered, a red glow fading from the lock and mask before Aragorn's very eyes.

"Magic," the blacksmith grunted, moving away slightly, "ain't nothing here will get that thing off the boy."

Harry hung his head in despair; he had not realized how badly the expected failure would hurt him. "I told you."

"We're not giving up yet," Aragorn stated firmly suddenly knowing he would deeply regret it if he gave up on freeing the boy from the mask, "if nothing here will work, then we'll go to the elves."
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