Prologue ~ ...To Watch
Harry had just taken the orb and they were all staring at it when a voice drawled, "Very good, Potter. Now if you would be a good boy and hand that over, we can be gone."
Harry felt himself go cold and his body seemed to no longer be his. Indeed, his body smiled, walked right over to Lucius Malfoy and placed the delicate ball in the man's outstretched hand.
"Harry!" Hermione cried. "What are you doing?!"
Harry's body turned and sneered at his best friend. "Silence, you pathetic little Mudblood."
Hermione looked like she'd been slapped.
Ron stepped forward, looking furious. "Don't you dare speak to her like that! I don't care how moody you are!"
Harry's body rolled his eyes. "I'm not moody, Ronnie. I'm simply telling you my real feelings." His body snorted at the looks of disbelief on his friends' faces. "Oh, come now. Surely I didn't actually trick you with my moody act?" His body paused, then laughed scornfully. "I did! Oh, this is too precious, don't you agree, Lucius?"
"Of course, Potter," Lucius drawled next to him, the sphere Harry had handed him given to another Death Eater to, no doubt, pass on to Voldemort. "But, surely, you knew what Gryffindors were like, having lived amongst them for so long?"
"Of course," Harry's body replied, sounding disgusted. "And to think, I was one of them once."
Luna stepped forward suddenly, understanding on her face. "Harry," she whispered, "Harry, you can fight this off."
Everyone stared at Luna for a long moment in amazement and Harry felt a stab of hope. He quickly tried to get control of his body again, but whatever it was that had the control just started laughing. Loudly. It was a terrifying, evil sort of laugh. And Harry wondered how it could come from his mouth.
"Dear, dear, Loony," his mouth said once it'd stopped letting out the horrible laugh. "How stupid you are. And here I thought you were a Ravenclaw!" Next to him, Lucius snorted, as did a couple of other Death Eaters behind them.
Luna shook her head, eyes eerily clear. "No! I know this isn't you, Harry! You're wrong!"
The controlling force in Harry's body was no longer amused. It, too, had seen the hopeful looks in his friends' faces. The knowledge that, certainly, Harry wouldn't really do this. No. Not possible. Harry wanted to scream at his friends, Yes! Yes! Listen to Luna! She's got it!
Harry's body moved before anyone could act and his wand was pointed at Luna's heart. "Avada Kedavra."
Harry felt as if his soul had been torn in two. It hurt. The magic and watching as Luna fell to the ground, eyes lifeless; it hurt. He screamed in his mind, hoping, wishing, needing someone to hear him.
Harry's body smiled coldly at the remaining four people, who were all looking back and forth between Harry and Luna in disbelief. "She really was crazy," his body explained. "I thought I'd put her out of her misery."
"You monster!" Neville shouted, jumping forward and lunging at Harry, his wand forgotten where he'd dropped it in his shock.
Harry's body side-stepped the attack and he heard a female laugh from behind him as a one of the Death Eaters caught Neville. "Hold him for me, Bella," his body commented pleasantly as he turned back to Harry's other friends, waiting to see what they would do next.
Ginny stepped forward, looking certain. "I know Harry," she said in a soft, yet steady voice. "I know how he feels about us and how little he would want us hurt. And I know those feelings weren't a lie." She took a deep breath, then looked him straight in the eyes. "You're not Harry Potter."
Harry's body continued to smile and he turned his wand on the girl. "Crucio."
Harry screamed in his mind with Ginny. He screamed from the pain of casting the Dark spell and from casting it on his own friend. And he mourned the fact that he couldn't do anything. And he wished he were dead.
Harry's body stopped the spell, then tapped his wand against his mouth. "Lucius, I'd like you to do something for me."
"Of course, Potter," Lucius replied, sneering.
"Put the Imperius on her. We may need her later, if you know what I mean?"
"My pleasure," Lucius hissed, then turned his wand on the girl.
Four things happened at the same time. Lucius cast his spell as Ron shouted, "Expelliarmus!" Hermione cried, "Stupefy!" and Harry's body waved his wand, cancelling the two students' spells before they got past Ginny's head. Ron and Hermione watched on, frozen by some of the Death Eaters behind Harry, as Ginny struggled against Lucius' spell then, slowly, succumbed.
In his mind, Harry screamed.
Harry's body just chuckled. "Ginny, love, if you could please step out of the way?" Ginny moved to stand next to Lucius and Harry's wand turned on the horrified Ron and Hermione. "Ah, say good-bye, my friends. Avada Kedavra. Avada Kedavra."
Hermione and Ron's bodies hit the ground as Harry cried in his mind, unable to even feel the pain of the spells any more.
Harry's body turned to Neville, who was staring at him in terror. "Now, what to do with Neville? Maybe, you should take up residence in St Mungo's, with your parents, hm?" Harry's mouth took on a truly terrifying smile. "Yes, I believe that would be a fine fate. Bella, would you care to do the honours? I know you had so much fun with his parents and all..."
"You honour me, Potter," Bellatrix Lestrange replied, then bound Neville and said, "Crucio."
Harry wished he could be properly ill. He wished he could throw up. He wished he didn't have to watch as his best friends were killed. He wished he could just kill himself and save their lives. He wished...
Bellatrix let the spell go after what seemed like an eternity and Neville remained on the ground, drooling. Harry managed to catch sight of his friends' eyes; they were dead and broken. Neville...
Harry's body let out a cold chuckle, then he turned to the silently watching Ginny Weasley. "Ah, I think it's time we end this," he commented, sounding pleased as he turned his wand on Ginny's unmoving form. "If you all would?"
The Death Eaters hurried off, some using portkeys to leave. Harry just stood there, staring at the unmoving Ginny. He wondered what was happening for only a few moments before a tingle went through him. As if for his benefit, his body said, "Ah, and there go the wards. I guess your Order is here. What a pity. Crucio."
Ginny fell to the ground, screaming.
It was only moments later that Harry felt his body go rigid, thanks to the Body Bind Curse. He watched, silent and hopeless, as Order members swarmed around them, whispering curses as they realized what had happened. Ginny was fed a potion and then, once she'd apparently recovered from the Cruciatus, asked what had happened.
As Ginny retold the tale with slight differences, Harry suddenly understood. This was all Voldemort's plan. Make him kill his friends. Get him out of the way. Most of the Wizarding World already thought he was mad, and this would convince the rest of them.
In his mind, Harry closed his eyes in defeat. He couldn't watch any more.
The trial was a sham. Pathetic.
Ginny, under Lucius' control, told the whole tale to the courtroom. She left out the involvement of Lucius, placing his actions upon Bellatrix or Harry and completely leaving out the fact that she was under the Imperius Curse. Harry's body showed no thought for his supposed actions and nor did it look as defeated as he felt. Even when Ginny slipped from Lucius' control once and gave Harry an apologetic look, Harry didn't feel any better.
So what if Ginny still believed in his innocence? She couldn't do anything. She'd already begged the court to only make her go through the horrible ordeal once, then Obliviate her. Even after the trial, there was nothing she could do. Nothing either of them could do.
The verdict was called. Harry Potter was sentenced to life in Azkaban.
Chapter One ~ ...To Hope
Harry didn't have an animagus form to rely on. Nor did he have the knowledge that he was innocent to help him – he had killed his friends with his own wand. It never helped that dementors already affected him something horrible, and the visions Voldemort gleefully sent him of the prophecy and the deaths of innocents only made his life that much more terrible.
Within a month, Harry became a little crazy and began talking to himself.
Within five months, Harry had started seeing his dead friends coming to visit him. They called him horrible names and told him they'd always known he was a Death Eater.
Within the year, Harry had become comatose, no longer reacting to anything. His eyes simply stared off into nothing.
It was the beginning of his third year at Azkaban that it happened. A flash of bright light came from his body and Harry returned to the world, looking a little worse than he had two years previous when he'd shut himself within his own mind, but feeling all the better for it.
Harry didn't understand why he was awake. He'd never intended to return to the real world ever again. The only person alive who could have saved him from Azkaban had her memories of the horrible day removed, and the evidence was too solid. No, he never intended to face this world's horrors again.
There was a sound at his cell door and Harry quickly made himself appear catatonic. If he had to be aware, he'd rather no one else knew.
Two men and a large dog stopped outside his cell door. The one man, an Auror, sneered at the other. "You've got five minutes, werewolf, though I doubt it'll do much good. He doesn't react to nothing." The Auror walked off, laughing manically.
Remus Lupin touched the bars separating himself from the seemingly lifeless Harry Potter. "Harry? Oh, Harry, what has happened to you?"
The dog next to Remus turned into a gaunt-faced man. "Oh, my Prongslet," the man whispered. "Oh, what would James think, seeing us now, Moony? What would he think of us, letting his son go into prison."
Remus shook his head. "Sirius, I thought you said you'd stay a dog."
Sirius Black shook his head. "I can't, Moony. He looks so broken. He smells broken, Moony. It's like he's got no hope left." Sirius turned his attention to the silent figure in the cell. "Prongslet, Harry, please, I don't care if you can't hear me. I don't care if you hate me forever. Please, please don't lose hope. I can't lose you to Voldemort's lies."
Remus froze and looked down the hallway beyond the cell door. "Padfoot!" he hissed.
Sirius returned to his dog form, looking at Harry just as desperately as he had as a human.
The Auror returned. "Well, your time's up, monster. Leave this Death Eater to himself, now."
Remus bit his lip and shook his head. "Harry, we know you didn't do it. We know you didn't kill them. And we're trying to get you out. We won't stop trying. Ever."
The Auror laughed at the werewolf and the dog, then proceeded to herd them from the cell of the Boy Who'd Fallen.
In the following silence, Harry turned broken eyes towards the empty cell door. A spark of life danced deep within the green depths next to a desperate hope that their words were true. A desperate hope that someone, anyone knew he hadn't killed them. That Hermione and Ron and Luna and Neville's futures hadn't been destroyed by him, but by Voldemort.
It took Harry a month of looking through Voldemort's memories without the Dark Lord's knowledge before he knew that the light that had woken him was his magical inheritance. It took him only a week after that to learn that, since he didn't have any spells to learn his new abilities from, he would have to look at his magical core and figure it out himself.
Not that finding his magical core was easy, really, but at least he had the required time. It wasn't like he would be going anywhere or anything.
Another month of solitude dragged by before Harry finally figured out how to find his magical core and read it so he could figure out what had come of his inheritance. The results were nothing short of shocking.
He had the expected strength in Defence, the known ability of Parseltongue and the semi-expected ability to become an animagus; but the expected abilities ended there. He had a weak gift for controlling water and a stronger gift for controlling wind. A very faint ability to morph his form accompanied a second animagus form and even the possibility of a third, if he really worked at it. A very faint connection with the plane of death – from when he'd been hit with the Killing Curse as a baby, Harry hypothesized – gave him some powers of Necromancy. To round off his magical insanity, Harry learned that his blood was rather poisonous, most likely from the basilisk in his second year.
Harry spent another month trying to figure out how to use all his new abilities to his advantage, especially with the wards around Azkaban, which used a wizard's own magic against them by using their magic to power the wards that didn't allow a wizard to cast any spells. So the magic was still being used, just not by the prisoners.
The month provided Harry with the knowledge that most of his abilities – the morphing ability, the many animagus forms, the Parseltongue, his blood and, surprisingly, the Necromancy – didn't need the magic which the wards fed off of. When Harry thought about it, he should have realised that the animagus forms wouldn't be stopped, since Sirius managed his. Sadly, Harry considered, unless he was something small, he wouldn't have much luck with the forms, especially since the dementors didn't seem to affect him any more. Harry didn't know whether to blame the coma or his inheritance on that development.
After two months of silent meditation, Harry managed his first animagus form: a small black snake with faint streaks of white and an eerily green lightening bolt on it's head. As far as Harry could tell, he was highly poisonous and had no magical properties to speak of. From what he gathered from Voldemort's mind, he was a member of the scientific hydrophiidae family. He was a sea snake, which, he figured, played to his gift with water. But, alas, the whole idea was pretty much useless in his dry stone cell, and he didn't know enough about his form to guess at how long he could remain out of water – not even Voldemort knew all that much about sea snakes.
It took him almost four months to master his second form, which turned out to be a thestral, much to his disgust. As ironic as the form was, he really wished he didn't have it. Yes, it could fly and, yes, not many people could see it, but, really! Didn't he have enough death on his hands? Bloody hell.
Harry wasn't sure if he wanted to know what his third form was.
Deciding to leave his last animagus form alone for the moment, Harry moved on to practising and testing his morphing abilities. He quickly learned that he couldn't change his body into anything that wasn't human – no pig snouts for him – and he couldn't make himself a girl. He could change the colour of his hair, as long as it was a natural colour, and the same restrictions for his skin, which was fine. He could change his height within one foot either way of his current 5'2" and he could make himself appear to have more muscles, but that didn't make him any stronger. He could create freckles, moles and wrinkles. He could move his current scars around, but he couldn't get rid of them or make more – the only exception to that being his lightning bolt scar, which he couldn't do anything to. His hair could be changed to be pretty much any length he wanted, but if it got too short it still had the tendency to act like his normal hair and do whatever it damn well pleased. His eyes, Harry was pleased to find, could be changed to any colour under the rainbow, including a rainbow itself, though he couldn't make his pupils do anything that wasn't natural to a human.
Still unsure whether he wanted to do anything with his third animagus form, Harry moved on to testing his abilities in Necromancy. Within Voldemort's mind was a wealth of knowledge on the subject, though most of the information Harry quickly decided was useless, since he didn't intend to make himself immortal with his powers over death.
Necromancy, Harry learned within his first week of study, was not an easy subject to study and practising it was illegal in the eyes of the Ministry, earning anyone who was caught a minimum of twenty years in Azkaban. Since Harry was already in Azkaban for life, he figured that the laws hardly pertained to him and, really, it was the Ministry's own fault that the prison wasn't warded against the branch of magic. Of course, Harry learned after further study, they couldn't block that branch in Azkaban, since the dementors required Death magic to exist.
To fully understand Necromancy, Harry found himself studying the various branches of magic, which he hadn't fully understood until he looked for it, though purebloods supposedly grew up learning about it. He was immediately disgusted with the Wizarding World for not making sure that Muggle-raised witches and wizards had the same chances to learn about the branches too. But, really, he shouldn't have been surprised, he supposed.
There were three main categories, or branches, of magic, Harry learned from the library that was Voldemort's mind: Light, Dark and Death. Light magic had three sub-categories: Healing, defensive and offensive. Dark magic also had three sub-categories: Mind, offensive and defensive. Death had two sub-categories: Blood and Necromancy.
Since both Dark and Light magic had the sub-categories of offensive and defensive, some spells were up for debate about which main category they actually belonged to and often the uses of them were ignored unless someone was seriously harmed or killed through their use.
The Unforgivables, Harry hadn't been surprised to know, all fell under the Dark classification, though both Voldemort and Harry himself believed that the Killing Curse should have fallen under the Death category, even though it was neither Blood magic nor Necromancy.
After two months spent learning all he could about the various branches of magic and all that Voldemort knew about Necromancy, Harry felt himself capable of trying the magic out. His first attempt involved calling out to a dementor as it passed. When he'd tried getting five different dementors to stop and gotten nowhere, he decided he'd have to try another route and returned to Voldemort's mind.
As far as Voldemort knew, one had to perform a complicated ritual any time they wished to use any form of Death magic, since humans had no other way of connecting with the plane of death. Voldemort had also found that casting the Killing Curse as part of a ritual shortened the ritual and made it much simpler to complete, though Harry wasn't interested in that.
As far as Harry was concerned, he shouldn't have to do a ritual, since he already had a very faint connection to the plane of death. He just had to expand on that connection. He hoped.
Harry spent three weeks working on making his connection to the plane of death stronger, though he wasn't quite sure how he managed that, other than just sitting in his mind and staring at the ugly black line for hours on end. Of course, as was his luck, he opened it too much and got sucked in.
When Harry landed on the other side, he found an older, but just as pretty, Luna smiling at him. She helped him to his feet, then commented, "I knew you didn't kill me."
Harry blinked. "Uh..."
Hermione ran up, looking disapproving. "Harry James Potter, just what do you think you're doing here?!"
"Yeah, mate," Ron said from behind Hermione's bush of brown hair. "You shouldn't be here. It's not your time yet."
Harry frowned at that. "Yeah, well, what do I have to live for down there?" he demanded, ignoring how rough his voice was after years of disuse. "A bloody cell in Azkaban and no visitors? Thanks, but I've already gone crazy once in there, I don't care to do it again."
"What's to say you will?" Luna asked. "You've got your magic to explore now, and you know Sirius and Remus believe you're innocent."
"Harry, please," Hermione whispered. "It's not your time to die."
Harry shook his head furiously, remembering watching them die. "Oh? And it was your time to die four years ago? Was I supposed to kill you, then?" he demanded bitterly.
"No." Luna shook her head. "And you didn't kill us, Voldemort did."
"I might as well have, as much as I fought against him," Harry replied.
"You didn't have the intent," Ron tried to explain. "You didn't want us dead, therefore you couldn't have killed us."
"And Voldemort is a very powerful man," Hermione added. "Never mind that Umbridge had already shot a spell at you that was supposed to make his taking over your mind that much easier."
Harry blinked a couple times, then said, "Wait, what?"
"Umbridge cursed you on our way to the forest," Hermione explained, looking stricken. "I don't know much about it, since we only learned about it later, when Voldemort was awarding her for her good work, but she cursed you with something that would make you more susceptible to Voldemort taking over your body when Lucius Malfoy said the key words."
Harry shook his head. "So, so you're saying..."
"You couldn't have fought him off," Ron offered. "He knew you could throw off the Imperius Curse so he wanted to make sure he could possess you without you kicking him out."
Harry felt as though a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. It wasn't– "It wasn't my fault," he whispered, awed.
"No, Harry," Hermione replied, drawing him into a hug, "it wasn't. There was no way for you to have fought him."
"You don't belong here, young man," a firm voice said from behind Harry.
Harry extracted himself from Hermione and turned to look at the tall man with wild black hair behind him. It took him a moment before Harry realized who this was. "D-dad?"
James Potter's frown turned into a smile and he scooped Harry up into a tight hug, then proceeded to twirl around. Laughing, he set his son back on the ground and said, "Yes, Harry."
A red-haired woman stepped up next to James and hugged Harry with much less excitement as he whispered, "Mum..."
Lily pulled away from her son and gave him a worried look. "Harry, child, why are you here?"
Harry shrugged uncomfortably. "I was trying to see if I could open my connection to this plane enough to use my Necromancy gift without performing the rituals."
"Oh, Harry..." Lily sighed and cupped his face in her hands. "You don't have to open that connection any more. Merely the fact that it's there at all allows you to use your gift. But Necromancy the way you can use it doesn't require spells, and it doesn't affect the dementors."
Harry furrowed his brow. "But, then, how am I supposed to use it?"
"Yours is an interesting side of Necromancy," Lily explained. "It's not one you'll find anything about in Voldemort's head, since he's not interested in ghosts."
"Yes, Harry. Your strength is in commanding ghosts and sending them to the world beyond." Lily paused and frowned, unsure, then let out a sigh. "Sending them beyond, and calling them back."
"Calling the–" Harry's eyes widened as he realized what his mother had said. "Wait, you mean I could call your ghosts down to me and you'd have to come?"
"After a fashion, yes," Lily agreed, looking wary. "But because we've already passed on, you'll really only be calling echoes of the echoes of a person, and you'll be the only one who could see us."
Harry nodded in understanding – it wouldn't be as great a gift as he wanted it to be. "But, ghosts that are already in my world, like the ones in Hogwarts, could I call them to me? Even if they're bound to an object?"
"In theory, yes," Lily allowed. "Your gift is very unusual, you see, and I'm not quite sure what will happen when you do some things. You can certainly try, I suppose. It's hard to hurt a ghost." She smiled.
Harry nodded thoughtfully. "Alright. I suppose I'll go back to Azkaban and try that, then."
"Harry," Luna cut in before he could actually leave. He turned to look at her curiously. "I don't know if it would be wise for you to try this again. When you return to Azkaban, call me down."
Harry blinked a few times in surprise. "You're sure?"
Luna smiled. "I, too, had a gift for Necromancy in life, so I can travel between the planes, once I have a Necromancer on the other side that I can bond with. This way, we'll have a way to tell you if we learn anything important, and you'll have someone to talk to."
Harry nodded, a little shocked, though he shouldn't have been. Luna had always been an odd one. "Alright. How would I call you?"
"Call my name and envision me as being there. For real this time, not as one of your hallucinations," she added, shaking her head.
Harry laughed nervously. "Right. I'll keep that in mind. How do I get back?"
"Think of your body," Lily replied.
So Harry closed his eyes and thought of his body. He cracked open an eye when nothing had happened after a few moments and was shocked to find himself back in his cell. He sighed, then decided to try calling Luna. He imagined her as she'd been on the plane of death and said, "Luna."
"Lovely place you've got here," Luna offered as she appeared. "Bit chilly, though."
Harry smiled bitterly at her. "You get used to it, after a while."
Luna sighed and sat in front of Harry on the ground. "I'm sorry. You shouldn't be here."
Harry shrugged. "I know, but it's not like I have a choice, right? I mean, if I could get out, I would."
Luna shook her head. "But you can. You can become your snake form and get out of the cell, then turn into a thestral and just walk out."
Harry's shoulders fell and he shook his head. "No. I can't see myself doing that."
"Even to just get out of your cell long enough to see the sky again?"
Harry shivered. "I can't, Luna."
"Not even if getting out for a couple hours means you can practise your elemental gifts?"
Harry paused and thought on that. He did want to practise his water and wind gifts and he probably should, at least a little. He could take a bath... He blinked, then snorted at himself. "I could take a bath, couldn't I?"
Luna smiled. "You could."
Harry mulled that over, getting more and more excited about taking a bath. It was rather sad, really, that the one thing he wanted most in the world wasn't his freedom, but a bath. "I think I'm going mad," he commented, "but now that I've thought about it, I really want a bath."
Luna laughed at that. "Yes, you need one." She paused suddenly and seemed to be listening to something, then frowned at Harry. "But not right now. Hermione says that Moony and Padfoot are coming for a visit."
Harry's eyes widened. "I– Luna, do you think I should talk to them?"
"Harry, that's for you to decide," Luna replied, then drifted into the far corner so Harry wouldn't get distracted by her.
Harry resumed his vacant look as he heard steps in the hallway. The same guard as last time left Remus and Padfoot at his cell door with the warning that they had five minutes before walking off.
Padfoot suddenly turned into Sirius and said, "Harry, Harry, please speak to me. To us. Please. I know you're in there. Moony can smell it too, can't you Moony? Harry..." Sirius fell silent, staring at Harry with tears in his eyes.
Harry let out a mental sigh, then whispered roughly, "What do you want from me?"
"We want you free," Remus said, watching the young man he considered Pack warily.
Harry laughed bitterly. "Free. What is freedom but another cage?"
"Harry..." Luna breathed from her corner.
"Harry, Prongslet, I know you didn't do it," Sirius whispered desperately. "You couldn't have..."
"If only they hadn't been so strong," Harry whispered, seemingly to himself. "If only they hadn't thought ahead. Hadn't cursed me and weakened my will. If only–" He choked and closed his eyes. "It hurts, to kill people. It hurts like you'll never know. And it hurts the most when it's you doing the killing and you can't stop it." He turned to look at the two at his cell door. "I tried to stop him. I tried to fight."
"Harry, the guard!" Luna hissed desperately.
"Guard," Harry whispered, then turned forward again and resumed staring off into space as Sirius once again became Padfoot.
Remus paused as the guard was leading them away, then said, "Harry, you're innocent, and we'll get you out of here, somehow. But, until then, we'll just keep coming back so you know we're on your side. So you don't lose hope."
"You're a fool, werewolf. You can't find innocence when it doesn't exist," the guard laughed, then force the two Marauders to leave.
Harry looked at Luna. "I'm going to take a bath, and meet some ghosts and train my elements and become an animagus again," he stated firmly. "Then, if I must, I'll go out there and find my own innocence. And I'll kill Voldemort if it's the last thing I do. I'll kill him for Mum and Dad. I'll kill him for Cedric and Neville and Ginny and Ron and Hermione. I'll kill him for you, Luna."
"And will you kill him for yourself?" Luna asked, moving closer to Harry carefully.
Harry considered that, then nodded. "Yeah. I'll kill him for myself."
Harry nodded and transformed into a snake to get out of his cell, then a thestral to move through the halls, forcing himself to remember the way back to his cell.
And when Harry got outside the prison and he saw the retreating boat with two men and a dog on it, he let out a loud cry which, surprisingly, struck hope into the heavy hearts of Remus and Padfoot.