Actions

Work Header

Azkaban Destroys or Rebirths

Chapter Text

Prologue

How the Aurors on duty could have missed the baby he was holding was beyond him. Seriously, if this was the state of the wizards charged with keeping the peace and fighting Dark wizards, Sirius was beginning to understand the Ministry's failures during the war. Throwing him in Azkaban without a trial was one thing but throwing Harry in with him was just pure incompetence. And of course, his status as a mad murderer made it impossible for him to explain the situation, the few times he bothered trying, without someone laughing in his face.

 

He really should have given Harry to Hagrid when he’d had the chance, for surely anything would have been better than a cold, humid cell in Azkaban, surrounded by Dementors and criminals. Half the people in this prison wanted to kill him for Merlin’s sake! How was he ever going to raise Harry properly in an environment as unforgiving as this?

He was pulled from his thoughts by a small whimper coming from Harry. Immediately, he scrambled to get to the child and pull him into his arms. “It’s alright, it’s alright”, he whispered, holding the boy close and peppering small kisses on top of his head. It seemed to do the trick and, after a few minutes of Sirius rocking Harry gently, the boy went back to sleep.

 

Sirius sat back against the cell’s wall and looked up at the ceiling. “Lily, James, I’m so sorry”, he choked out on the sobs that were starting to escape him. He had failed them both and now he was all alone, left to care for a baby without his best friends’ guidance. The only one left was Remus and he hadn’t seen him in months, didn’t dare hope he would ever see him again. That was fine (it wasn’t), it just meant he could focus all his attention on Harry. He had to pull himself together, stop crying or dwelling in the past. He had responsibilities now. Sirius may have to raise Harry in Azkaban, but the kid would get all the love in the world and Sirius would everything in his (granted, extremely limited) power to provide all that a child needed to grow up.

 

But first, they had to survive a meeting with Bellatrix.

She had arrived a few hours prior, had been thrown in the cell across from Sirius’. Fortunately, she was stunned, but it was only a matter of time before she woke and noticed both him and Harry (the kid wasn’t discreet when he was awake). His luck must really be rotten because, as soon as he said her name in his mind, he saw her body, clad in those awful prisoner clothes and lying on the hard ground, twitch before a groan fell from his cousin’s lips. She pushed herself to her knees, seemingly in pain but was soon attempting to stand up, grasping the prison bars for support. She raised her head then, and met his eyes, hers widening for a fraction of a second before she started cackling madly. “Oh, the irony”, she said, tone condescending, “Little Sirius, thrown in jail by his precious Light friends”. She smirked at him. “Proud of yourself cousin?”

 

He wanted to lunge at her, slap her for what she’d said but he used the tiny bit of self-restraint and common sense, because obviously there were two sets of bars separating them, he had left and merely snarled at her. He wanted to bite back with a snarky remark, bitter words already at the tip of her tongue but he was interrupted by the shifting of the bundle of flesh in his arms. Harry opened his eyes and, upon seeing him, began to babble in that baby’s language that no adult could ever pretend to understand. Apparently, Bellatrix had noticed Harry because her whole body seemed to have shifted to face the baby and she proceeded to look at him fondly, a fleeting look of adoration passing on her features, before she noticed the tell-tale scar on his forehead and let out an animalistic growl. “What is he doing here?” she asked, gritting her teeth noisily. Sirius scoffed before looking back up at her. “Like it’s any of your business to know” “He killed my Lord of course I have the right to know,” she bit back. “Besides I heard he’d disappeared before they could get him to safety”, she said, softer.

“He didn’t technically disappear. Just… nobody looked for him in the right places. He’s been with me all this time. Damn Aurors didn’t even check what I had on me before throwing in this bloody cell. No wonder we almost lost really…” Briefly, Sirius wondered why he was even telling her that before remembering that he was never good at keeping secrets, especially when talking to his cousins. “I’ve been giving him half my rations. Merlin knows the kid needs it more than I do, and he’s been sleeping on my extra outfit. It’s not ideal but it works, I do my best.” As he rambled on, Sirius saw Bellatrix’s face soften, something akin to compassion appearing. “Poor child,” she said, “you were destined for Greatness yet are forced to achieve it in the deepest pits of hell.” She was lost in her thoughts for a few seconds, a faraway look on her face, before she straightened up and said, with a determined look on her face and a tone that left no place for arguments “Doesn’t matter anymore now that I’m here. They’ll see. They’ll learn. Even by throwing us Azkaban they won’t be able to destroy our faith. And that little man,” she pointed at Harry, “he’s going to show them all the truth about us. We’re going to teach him and he’s going to be great.”

 

‘Oh Merlin’ Sirius thought, ‘I’m screwed’

Chapter Text

Chapter 1:

 

Bellatrix had somehow taken up the role of a mother in the few weeks that she’d been in Azkaban with Sirius and Harry. At first, she would simply coo at the baby from across the prison hallway, making silly faces at him (and wasn’t that shocking, that his noble cousin would stoop so low as to engage in such childish behavior) or telling him stories about her noble ancestry.

In the beginning, Sirius was wary of Bellatrix, but Harry had warmed up to her so fast that he’d relented and let her have time with the baby. After a while, seeing that they were both so comfortable with each other, he agreed to Bellatrix’s proposition, which was for her to watch over Harry while he got some much-needed sleep. It was easy really, Harry had begun walking already and, with his small size, passing through the bars was child’s play. They had to be careful, exchange him when the Dementors were far away to minimize their effects on the child but all in all, their system was efficient and helped the three of them. Both adults were pleased with the way things worked out. Bellatrix was holding on to her sanity thanks to the little ray of sunshine that was Harry Potter and Sirius had gained an ally in his cousin.

 

After a few weeks of this, Bellatrix declared that she would begin Harry’s proper pureblood education because “We may be stuck in this hellhole for many years, but that doesn’t mean we have to spend them surrounded by heathens”. Her first step was convincing Sirius that ‘Hadrian’ was a much better name than ‘Harry’ and that she refused to call a Potter by such a plebeian name. His cousin may be a stone-cold bitch, but she was a Black; stubborn and proud. Hell, he’d cut all ties with his family, but he still retained all these qualities.

Within a few days she was actively lecturing Harry on pureblood mannerisms, ranging from table manners to the proper way to talk to a fellow member of a Noble family. And Harry was soaking it all up, eager to impress the beautiful lady he’d begun to call ‘Bel’. Life was going well for a group of pseudo-criminals living in the wizarding world’s worst prison.

 

Until, of course, things hit the fan and Harry met the Dementors. They should have seen it coming really, what with Harry constantly being in the prison’s hallways, going from one cell to another, being a generally bubbly toddler.

Dementors usually didn’t bother visiting the prisoners and when they did, it was around the same time for each visit, it wasn’t hard for Sirius to hug his godson and hide him as far away from them as possible. So, when the rotations changed, both Bellatrix and Sirius were taken aback. Harry had been playing in ‘his’ hallway, frequently looking at either one of the adults and babbling away before going back to his game.

Sirius had been the first to feel the Dementor’s presence, a cold and dreary feeling overtaking him, a shiver raking through his body and cold settling into his bones. Immediately, his eyes sought Harry and he almost screamed at him to “Come here Harry! Don’t stay where you are! Hurry to me!” But the child didn’t hear him, or he didn’t care, already fascinated by the being that was approaching, gliding rapidly over the stone hallway.

“Look Siri! Funny cloud!”, the kid had said excitedly before going back to his staring. He didn’t seem to be affected by the creature’s presence. He had even begun walking tentatively towards it, a tiny hand extended in front of him, as if he wanted to pet it. The Dementor came to a stop a few steps before the child and Harry looked up at it in wonder before tugging lightly on its misty robes. “Hi Mr. Cloud,” the boy said, “Be my friend?”

Sirius was frozen in fear at the sight, thoughts and heart racing, ‘My kid’s going to die, Merlin I’m such a bad guardian’ repeating through his mind in the milliseconds it took before the Dementor moved. And when it did, it was to lean towards the child, and raise a bony hand to touch his forehead. A low, guttural sound came from the creature and Harry, wide-eyed and mouth gaping, felt his skin heat up where the Dementor had touched him. “Tickles,” he giggled, hands coming up to touch his head. He turned back to Sirius and, with a huge smile, proudly declared “Siri, have friend!”

Sirius felt his heart skip a beat upon seeing his godson’s forehead where, right next to his lightning scar, black runes were forming. Having never taken the subject at school, he could only rely on the knowledge he had retained from conversation with Lily or Remus, both of whom had had a great interest in the study of the runic alphabet. He recognized the sign for friend easily though, as he had gotten it tattooed on one of his biceps upon graduating from Hogwarts, along with James, Remus and Peter.

 

And his godson had been marked as a friend of this Dementor. Why? Sirius could only make assumptions. Maybe it was the curse scar he’d gotten last Halloween, maybe it was Azkaban’s ambient magic that had mixed with Harry’s own, maybe it was because he had a strong link to death and darkness. Who knew?

 

As far as Sirius was concerned, the only thing that was actually important enough to talk about was the fact that Harry was definitely not going to have a normal childhood.

 

He turned his head towards Bellatrix’s cell and saw her wearing the same dumbstruck expression as he was before she smiled, a cold, mad grin and announced that Hadrian was going to grow up to rule the world, seeing what he could already accomplish.

 

And the kid, completely unaware of Sirius’ inner torments, was running circles around the Dementor, laughing and hugging the creature, climbing into its arms and playing with its cloak.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2:

 

After befriending the Dementors, Hadrian had taken to wandering farther from Sirius and Bellatrix’s cell, trailing the Dementors on their patrol, exploring the prison and discovering all its secrets. And Azkaban, being an old building, built by wizards, had plenty of them.

 

Azkaban was his playground.

 

He also began talking with the other prisoners, in other wings of the fortress. Harry had an easy smile and a quiet demeanor that made even the most hardened criminal coo at him. He was told stories of the outside and everyone taught him about subjects in which they were familiar. And there were many, especially those that were banned by the Ministry, and often led the experts to the cell in which they were today. At 4 years old, he had had a better education than most 11-year-old purebloods.

He had been taught the theory behind Charms, Transfiguration and Potions, he had just begun learning Ancient Runes and Arithmancy and he was told basics about Blood Magic, Necromancy and Soul Magic. Of course, without wands, books or any kind of material, it went slower than what Bellatrix wanted but after Harry had stumbled upon a master of wandless magic, his schooling had picked up speed and he had begun casting small charms that wouldn’t be detected by Azkaban’s wards.

 

It was during one of his walks that he came across two individuals that looked familiar. They were in two cells right next to each other and a single glance was enough to determine that they were brothers. Both were sitting in the back of their cells, arms wrapped around their knees and eyes downcast. They only looked up upon hearing footsteps in the hallway, an unusual occurrence for them.

Bella, the perfect pureblood, had been a decent artist and, with a piece of rock and dirt, she had managed to draw portraits of some of the more prominent members of pureblood society, including ones of her husband and her brother in-law, which she liked to sketch more than the others. “It helps me remember them,” she had once said after he’d asked her why they came up more often in his lessons than other people.

So, when he met the eyes of one Rodolphus Lestrange, he recognized him immediately as both a Lord and Bellatrix’s husband. He gasped before falling into a perfect bow. “Lord Lestrange, it’s an honor to meet you sir, your wife Bellatrix has told me all about you!” he said excitedly, Bellatrix’s drilling on proper manners the only keeping him from jumping in joy. Rodolphus couldn’t keep his surprise from showing on his face at the child’s words and he barely recovered in time to ask Hadrian, his voice barely above a whisper, if he knew where Bellatrix was held.

Hadrian blinked at him, eyes full of childish innocence, as he said, “Would you like me to take you there?”

“Take me there? Last I checked I was locked in a maximum-security prison for life and with no chance of ever getting out of this,” Rodolphus answered, eyebrows raised at the kid’s proposition. He wasn’t even sure why he was still talking to him, with the luck he had, Hadrian was actually an hallucination, a sign of his growing madness and he was just deluding himself by thinking he still had a chance to see his family.

But Hadrian simply looked around and whispered, “If we’re quiet and fast, because I don’t think my uncles would be very happy to see me with a stranger, even if you’re from Bella’s family.” He then placed his hand on top of the cell’s lock and scrunched his face, deep in concentration. A small crack, then the door swung open, the metal groaning, not used to being moved.

Rodolphus looked at the child, unable to let out anything but a weak “How?” before Hadrian took his hand and began to drag him out into the hallway. “Come on! Bella’s on the next level but we have to be quick because Uncle Heriotza* is usually in these parts around this time. The kid began running, leading Rodolphus through the labyrinth of corridors before stumbling and stopping in front of a cell. He heard a high, familiar voice scold the child “Hadrian, I’ve told you this before: running is unbecoming of a proper young man such as yourself.” “Sorry Aunt Bella,” was the kid’s response and, at this, Rodolphus’ heart skipped a beat and he raced to the child’s side, seeing his wife for the first time in 3 years.

“Bella,” he choked out, “my love, I have missed you so much” He sank to his knees, taking his wife’s hands in his own, laying his forehead on the bars to try to get closer, to try to touch more of Bella’s skin. She had tears in her eyes and her usually expressionless face was full of a bittersweet joy as she took in her husband, who, like her, had not benefited from the comforts of Azkaban. “My darling, I’m so glad to see you. I was so scared, I thought they’d had you killed when you didn’t appear in this wing. Oh, I love you!”

 

Hadrian, seeing that his aunt was suddenly focused on Rodolphus turned to Sirius to babble about his day’s exploration in the fortress and the people he had met. “I think I’m going to be grounded by Uncle Muerte though, because he told me I’m not supposed to let strangers out of their cells but they never let me have fun anyways so I thought that I would make Aunt Bella happy so that she would balance out their punishment for breaking the rules. Besides, you both tell me all the time that if I help someone it’s only going to offer good opportunities in the future and Aunt Bella says it’s never too late to start building up connections so really it’s both of your faults if I did this and…” Hadrian was interrupted by a sharp glare from Sirius, who sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose and simply told Hadrian that he would let the Dementors punish him and that “I’m going to turn gray before I hit 30 because of you, kid”, before letting Hadrian skip away, presumably to beg forgiveness to his overprotective uncles and promise never to step a foot out of line again (Ah! As if!).

Chapter Text

Chapter 3:

4 years had passed, and Harry was shaping up to be a smart, cunning and mischievous child. His magical knowledge had been sharpened and his uncles had even taught him their people's mystic arts, a field of magic that had never previously been mastered by humans and that Hadrian had taken to like a dish in water. Some inmates had taken to calling him Little Master and Hadrian certainly lived up to his nickname. He had a vicious streak and was known to be devious when it came to those that somehow offended him or that he hated on pure principle.

One day, he had come upon a man in one of Azkaban's lower levels, a small time criminal only here for thievery and arson. But Hadrian had an uncanny talent in judging people and, upon seeing the man, he had felt disgust and hatred. At first, he couldn't figure out why his first impressions was so intense but, after digging in the man's mind for a while, he discovered that the man had been part of an underground smuggling ring that dealt in cursed items, wizarding drugs but also women and children.

His first instinct was to find one of his uncles or a random guard but he then remembered Sirius' lessons on justice in Wizarding Britain, mainly that it's stupid and doing things yourself is far more efficient.
The man was found unconscious and unresponsive a few hours later. His mind had been scrambled and his bones had all been shattered. Everyone knew who could have and had done it, but no one ever said anything. Who they were afraid of, we'll never know.


Three years later, in June of 1991, Hadrian found an owl, dead and cold to the touch near Bella and Sirius' cells. It was clutching a letter in its beak. Written in green ink, the front said:

Mr. Harry Potter
The Hallway between cells 304 and 307
Azkaban Prison

The letter was sealed with red wax and a crest bearing a snake, a lion, a badger and an eagle.

'Huh,' Hadrian thought, 'I didn't think they'd actually be able to track me here.' Hogwarts was, after all, a powerful entity but Azkaban's wards were no small feat of magic and neither Bellatrix nor Sirius thought the school's owls would survive the trip. Well, they were right on that point. 'Better go tell them then.'

Hadrian strolled over to his pseudo-parents' cells, letter in hand and announced, as soon as he was standing between them "Guess who's going to Hogwarts!". Judging by Sirius face, that definitely wasn't what he was expecting his Godwin to say. Bellatrix, on the other hand, only answered with a small 'uh'.
When Hadrian turned towards Bellatrix, he noticed that she had a small smile, which could only mean trouble. "Merlin Bella, what do you want me to do this time?" He asked, voice hinting at his amusement. Bellatrix only smiled wider, a glint in her eyes that told Hadrian she had something planned that would leave all of Wizarding Britain in the dust.



Meanwhile, in Hogwarts, the headmaster stood in his office, staring at the book of records, and particularly at the single line that had appeared a few minutes earlier, detailing on Harry Potter's current address. For reasons perfectly understandable by those who knew it, Albus Dumbledore was shocked. Of course, he knew that Harry was alive, he had periodically checked the book to make sure of that but the last thing he had expected was for Harry to be in prison. Of course, Albus had known that Harry had inherited some of his father's prancing tendencies, as had been evident in his infancy but he didn't think a prank made by a young child could actually land said child in the worst prison in the world.

He sighed. Things had just gotten more complicated and the stress was getting to him, especially when he thought of all the protections he had to put in place for the stone. He was seriously considering going back on his promise of keeping it safe while Nicholas arranged for adequate security in his house. Nevertheless, a promise was a promise and Albus was nothing but honest when it came to his dealings with friends. He would have to talk to Minerva about recovering the boy from Azkaban and to the rest of the teaching body, at least, those he could trust, about creating defenses for the stone.

It was shaping up to be a long year.



Minerva McGonagall was, without a doubt, one of the bravest witch of her generation but even she had balked at the idea of retrieving a child from Azkaban, even one as illustrious as Harry Potter. She wasn't ashamed of saying she was absolutely terrified of what she would find in there. After all, overexposure to Dementors was known to have negative effects to an adult's mental capacities so she couldn't even begin to imagine what it would do to a young boy's. Nevertheless, she had taken the small, rickety boat provided for the few visitors the prison received and had gone through the few security checks, giving up her wand to a guard before she was led to the actual cells. They took her to cell 304, the one which was a part of young Harry's address and left her in front of a man, an old student if hers that she never thought she'd ever see again.

"Sirius Black...Why am I not surprised that you're somehow responsible for this whole mess?"

"Minnie! I am so happy to see you! It's been years! How have you been?" Sirius said with a cheeky smile.

She was about to respond but a high-pitched laugh came from behind her and she turned around, her eyes falling upon the inhabitant of cell 307, one Bellatrix Lestrange née Black.

"Sirius darling, look how sweet it is! Our little Hadrian is getting special treatment from our favorite little Deputy Headmistress! Oh, how he's grown. He's going to Hogwarts and next thing you know he'll be a powerful Dark Lord and the entire world will bow down before him!" Bellatrix had a faraway look in her eyes and a mad grin adorning her face and she sighed wistfully, lost in a fantasy of her own. Suddenly, her eyes snapped back to Minerva, who shuddered, unnerved by the other woman's gaze.

"You're not going to get in our way are you, Minerva?" She asked, eyes boring into Minerva's, the madness she was known for apparent in her gaze. Before the Death Eater could make a threat, she was stopped by Sirius, who had apparently decided that now was the best time to interfere. And frankly, he was right.

"Oh come on Bella, don't threaten our guests, we get so few as it is, wouldn't want to scare them off." He then turned to look directly at his old teacher. "I imagine you're looking for Hadrian?" At her nod, he continued "He's probably with one of his uncles, they'll have notified him of your arrival by now so take a sit, sip your imaginary tea and enjoy the wonderful comforts of Azkaban!" The sarcasm seeping out of his words was almost palpable but nonetheless, Minerva smiled and leaned back against the wall, tense with nervous anticipation, and waited for her future charge.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4:

Hadrian had, following his talk with Bellatrix, gone down to Rodolphus' cell. He was accompanied by one of his uncles because that didn't trust him with the Lestrange family, especially after the first couple times he had broken them out of their cells to visit friends and family. So he trailed after Uncle Surema, who was lecturing him in the language of the dead that so few could understand about the need for young, growing men to obey their elders and their superiors. Hadrian just rolled his eyes. He had heard the same speech from every single one of the Dementors over the ten years he had been here and by now, he could almost recite it by heart. And it wasn't like he'd endangered himself in anyway, what with the constant protection he was given as a Friend of the Dementors.

Rodolphus, like always, had been overjoyed to see him and after having Hadrian recall everything thing that had happened to him sice he had last seen the boy, he finally let Hadrian tell him why he had come.
"My Hogwarts letter arrived."
"Already? I can't believe you're this grown up! You still look like a little baby to me!"
Hadrian rolled his eyes "That's just because you're old, Uncle."
Rodolphus had sighed at that and had said under his breath that Bellatrix was spoiling him too much, letting him get away with talking to his favourite uncle like that.
"Nah, Bella would kill me if she heard me. I'm just lucky she hasn't found a way to monitor me every second of every day. She's the one who sent me here by the way
"Oh? What does my sweet little wife want me to do for her?"
"She wants you to name me your heir."

Rodolphus frowned, his eyes narrowing in concentration. "She's planning something isn't she?" He knew her well enough that, when it came to pureblood matters, she always did what would benefit her and her family.
"It's a secret. But she told me to tell you that power and recognition were a fundamental part of her plan."
"Well, I'm not one to go against my wife. Get me some parchment and we'll get everything sorted out."

Hadrian took out the parchment he had filched from downstairs and handed it, along with a quill. Rodolphus wrote, in the flowing cursive that seemed to be prominent in pureblood families, the official words that would name Hadrian his heir in blood, name and magic. He signed it and bit his finger, letting three drops of blood fall onto the parchment.

 

After taking care of that business, Hadrain headed back to Bella and Sirius' cells, intent on talking with his godfather about what would be coming next and the arrangement that might have been made. However, when he arrived, he was met by a visitor (and wasn't that a strange thought), a tall witch, the beginning of wrinkles showing on a strong face. She was wearing traditional if a bit old robes in a deep emerald color. From the few possibilities of visitors he could have gotten, he could rightfully assume that this was the representative for Hogwarts, Minerva McGonagall.
He bowed slightly to her, as she was a future professor of his and deserved proper respect. "Mistress McGonagall, what brings you to our humble abode," he said, a smile on his lips, eyes twinkling with humour.

 

Minerva was, to say the least, not expecting Hadrian James Potter to look, act and speak like he did. The young was one of the most collected child she had ever met and his clothes, the nondescript, one size fits all uniform of Azkaban somehow gave him a noble air. But what was most striking about his figure was the unnaturally bright green eyes that seemed to be glowing in the prison's dim lighting.
Had she not been a teacher for many years, and had she nor seen many things in her life, she would have gaped at him. Fortunately, she maintained her composure and began her usual speech for new students, with a few changes, as this situation had never been observed before.

"Mr. Potter, you have been accepted into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. From what I can infer, it seems your... guardians have told you of it. Due to your special circumstance, we will have to remove you from here as soon as possible and I reckon a family will be found for you, so that you have a home during summer." She was about to continue but was interrupted by a sharp 'No' from the boy. "I will not allow complete strangers to make decisions as to who my family should be, when I have a perfectly good one here that will, I assure you, not be happy should I leave."

To say she was shocked would be an understatement. She had never thought she would one day have to deal with someone that wanted to stay in Azkaban, a prison that was known to be awful to a long term prisoner's well being.
"I... I can't in good conscience let you stay here," she said, her voice shaking, "and I'm sure we can find a solution that will please everyone."
Hadrian looked doubtful but he nodded and said "I have to speak to my uncles before we do anything then I believe the Goblins will be helpful once I explain the situation. Shall we go?"

Chapter Text

Chapter 5:

Minerva followed Hadrian through what seemed like endless passageways into the very heart of Azkaban. He was fast, and it seemed like to him, the maze that was Azkaban was as simple to move around in as any house. Well, he had lived there his whole life, she thought, and it seemed like he had never been restrained to a cell. If he was anything like his father had been, he must have a wild and energetic child and had no doubt spent a clear majority of his childhood exploring this place. How he had managed to shield himself from the insanity that seemed to reign supreme in the prison. She would have to talk about this to Harry’s ‘Uncles’, whoever they may be.

They were now walking through a part of Azkaban that felt, somehow, darker and drearier than before. After a few more minutes of walking, Hadrian stopped in front of a set of double doors, marked with faintly glowing runes and lined with writings in a language she didn’t know.

Hadrian looked back at her and showed the Potter smirk his father had been infamous for before whispering, “Follow me, ma’am. And… don’t be too scared”. He winked at her and threw open the doors, walking through with utmost confidence. Minerva, however, was frozen at the sight in front of her; Dementors, hundreds of them, more than she had ever heard existed, were standing, or levitating, in a grand hall worthy of the ancient castles of Muggle history. They were parting for Hadrian as he made his way to the back of the room, towards a throne, standing on a raised stone platform, that seemed to be made up of shadows, wispy bits of smoke surrounding it. A Dementor, larger and more foreboding than the others, sat on it but he rose as Hadrian arrived close to him. He glided down towards the boy and knelt, embracing him. It was frankly the most terrifying thing Minerva had ever witnessed and although the whole affair had barely lasted a minute, she felt as if she had lost 10 years of her life. The Dementor straightened up and looked at her, as if gazing into her very soul. It opened its mouth and let out a guttural sound that chilled her to the bones.

She was honestly quaking with fear and the only thing that kept her from turning around and getting the hell out of this place was her pride and the fact that her charge was with her and that protecting the children came before anything else. Nevertheless, she was considering grabbing Hadrian and making a run for it, but her plans were foiled by the young boy’s laugh, the sound breaking her from her thoughts and snapping her gaze towards him.

Hadrian was looking up at the Dementor, mirth apparent in his eyes and a beaming smile gracing his features. He proceeded to hug the being and if that wasn’t frightening enough, it hugged him back, skeleton fingers resting lightly on the boy’s back.

He then turned around, a smile still on his lips and he beckoned her to come closer. He seemed unafraid, and as she approached slowly, footsteps hesitant and shaking slightly, he spoke, in the same tongue as the Dementor. That, more than anything else, chilled her to the bones. To hear a child, who were believed to be still pure and innocent, speak the language of Dark creatures, was beyond her imagination and she wondered for a split second if this was worth it. Was she willing to invite a boy raised in Darkness into her school, with students she sometimes saw as her children?

She mentally chastised herself for even thinking for a moment that she would be able to let a child be denied his right to a proper wizarding education, especially one where he could relate and learn more about his family. Hadrian could trace back his family tree for centuries and she knew that a good portion of them had attended Hogwarts, and that they had left traces in the school. Things like Quidditch Cups, Special Achievements, Awards… No, the boy deserved to see all that, especially after all this time in Azkaban.

 

Without realizing it, Minerva had come closer to Hadrian and the Dementor and was now standing right in front of them.

Hadrian, upon seeing that they had her full attention, said “This is my Uncle Thanatos," he gestured at the Dementor by his side "He's what you would call a King to the Dementors. He'll be the one acting as my guardian and discussing the terms for my going to Hogwarts”. At that, Hadrian rolled his eyes and muttered "Overprotective bastard." He paused for a few seconds, lost in thoughts, before turning back to his 'uncle' and letting out a string of that guttural language that chilled her to the bones.  
The being answered, a short sharp sentence that somehow sounded like a disguised threat. Perhaps this tongue had effects on emotions, like the Dementors themselves did because she swore she was being influenced, emotions that weren't hers dancing at the forefront of her mind.

Finally, Hadrian turned back to her. "I'll leave you two, Uncle Thanatos prefers to conduct his business away from 'little, innocent eyes'." The boy's voice dripping With sarcasm, he bowed then skipped out of the chamber, leaving Minerva alone in front of one of the most terrifying situations she had ever found herself in.

"Hadrian is Our Friend," it said, "And we would have him protected while he is not in Our direct view."

At that, Minerva sputtered in indignation, replying with a sharp "I assure you sir, that Hadrian has nothing to fear at Hogwarts. We are, after all a school and we take the utmost care for the safety of all our students!"

The Dementor laughed. And wasn't that a terrifying thing to witness?

"You talk of safety when there is a powerful artefact in your Headmaster's possession, one that would attract much unwanted attention. We have eyes everywhere, Madam and are aware of the threats you refuse to acknowledge." He lowered himself, his upper body floating towards her while the rest of him stayed high in the air. It reminded her too much of the Kiss to leave her unperturbed. She could know see the opening where the mouth should be, a gaping hole of shadows and wondered if this was to be her last moments on this Earth or if she would live to tell her tale. But it stayed still, and while the dreary feel of Dementors had intensified, it wasn't unbearable. "One of my people will accompany him," It finally said and for a few seconds, she was too shocked to do anything but gape before she returned to her senses and found herself glaring at the being in front of her, anger written on her features. "I will not endanger my students by bringing someone like you into my school!"

Sometimes Minerva wondered why the hat had sorted her into Gryffindor as she had quite a few Ravenclaw tendencies, but right now she was absolutely certain that she had deserved her spot in the house of bravery. She was having a staring contest with a Dementor and was barely flinching, although she wasn't sure she'd win, especially as the creature got progressively closer, until she could feel its breath sucking at tendrils of her happiness and, while its power was quite obviously muted in some way, it still unnerved her.

Tension was rising in the room, a show off of power between an angry mother and a wild, dangerous predator. Minerva was still staring at the Dementor when it spoke, voice softer than it had been minutes before. “I will have you understand, Ms. McGonagall, that Hadrian is Our friend, Our child, Our Prince. Should anything happen to him while he is in your care, we shall take it as a declaration of war,” Minerva gulped, “And I do not think you wish to be held responsible foe the death and destruction that our wrath would sow…” It glided away fast as he said that, closing in on his throne, where he was surrounded by the other Dementors, who had obediently stayed still, watching. “Believe me, Ms. McGonagall, wizards may have forgotten why they were once terrified of us, but we are long lasting and remember far more than you should ever hope to learn. We have not forgotten how to make a puny human suffer and crawl at our feet.” It seemed to grow taller with these words, towering above her, a demonstration of power, aided by its voice, which was growing colder by the minute until she swore she could see ice forming in the air and on the floor.

At this point, even the most courageous woman would have no choice but to agree to the Dementor’s terms, and seeing as she was hardly foolish, she knew that if she decided to deny the thing its request, she would either die painfully, or the Dementors would find a way to sneak into Hogwarts (she really wouldn’t put it past them, with all the things she’d seen today…) and inevitably provoke a disaster. And so, knowing she had no choice, she sighed inwardly before saying, voice as firm as she could make it in the situation she was in, “I agree to having one of your subjects accompany Hadrian, but I have some restrictions to make.” It looked pleased, somehow (How could she even feel that, the thing didn’t have a bloody face!) and nodded at her to continue. “It shall not voluntarily hurt the students in any way or form and I insist that it doesn’t go into the dorms or the Great Hall. It can follow Hadrian from afar, but I will not allow the possibility for it to distract or accidentally hurt one of my students.”

She felt a sense of smugness come from the Dementor as he replied, “Don’t worry, Ms. McGonagall. We are more civilized than your Ministry will have you believe. We know how to blend in.” At that, he swept his hand towards a shadowy corner, a gesture that made him look more royal than anyone she had seen before. Her gaze inevitably followed the creature’s arm to where it was pointing, and she felt rather than saw a figure detach itself from its surroundings. It was tiny compared to the others but no less imposing. As it came to stand in the light, it looked like normal snowy owl, with sharp, piercing dark eyes. It was perched on the shoulders of another Dementor. “This is Hedwig. They are Our eyes and will report any and all transgressions immediately. I trust that this will not be a problem?”

With an angry huff, Minerva let out a sharp “Of course not.” A hand was extended towards her and she warily took it, sealing the deal. “Hadrian should be here soon. I’m sure he’s said his goodbyes until next summer, so you may leave as soon as he arrives. His human guardians will have given him a list of suitable families that will be able to host him until September 1st.”

 

Suddenly the door opened with a bang and all eyes, including Minerva’s, snapped to the boy standing in the doorway. “Well,” a young voice drawled out, “I see that you haven’t be idle while I was away…” Keen eyes swept over the room and he smirked at the scene in front of him: a Dementor King and a frail looking old lady shaking hands while a bored owl pierced another Dementor’s shoulder.

“I’ve collected my belongings and since it seems that you are ready, we should get going soon. It would be best to leave while the day guards are here – they’ve always liked me better”. Hadrian was, again, completely unphased by what he’d walked into and had taken advantage of Minerva’s confusion to walk around her and grab Hedwig, who began grooming his hair. Hadrian let her, as if that was an everyday ritual for the pair. Really, anything was possible at this point.

What surprised her though was his obvious eagerness to leave. While in normal circumstances, that behavior would be expected, the boy seemed at home here, now that she thought about it. He was quite obviously loved and cherished, he’d had a thorough education, judging by his speech and the fact that he was familiar with Azkaban proved that he hadn’t spent a long time behind actual bars. So why hadn’t he left earlier, if only for short amounts of time? The Dementors and the guards all knew him and as a little kid, he could have wrapped them around his fingers easily (which he obviously did) and asked for a visit to the outside.

‘Merlin this kid is confusing!’ For all she knew, the boy was doing this for her, to allow her to leave this uncomfortable island-prison as soon as possible.

Of course, her interrogation had led her to the even stranger question of why Sirius and Bellatrix were still in cells, seeing as they, through Hadrian, had the Dementors’ favor.

 

Setting these questions aside, all the while promising herself she would ask Hadrian about what he knew, she stepped out of the room, letting Hadrian say goodbye to the Dementors in privacy. When he came out, she followed him back to the guards’ quarters to officialize their departure. There, they were met by a team of ragtag Aurors, tired and bone-weary. When Minerva requested papers and authorizations, she was expecting resistance or at least some kind of trouble but the officer in charge basically told her that Hadrian had never been officially announced as a prisoner of Azkaban and was thus permitted to wander in and out as he pleased. He also added that frankly, even if there was an administrational difficulty, he would rather fraud something than to find himself under the stern gaze of his old Transfiguration Teacher.

And with this anticlimactic scene, Hadrian stepped outside the prison he had made his home, and the world, this poor, innocent world would never know this was the moment it all went wrong.