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Freedom by witch_in_training

Format: One-shot
Chapters: 1
Word Count: 2,552

Rating: 12+
Warnings: Mild Violence

Genres: Drama, General
Characters: Dumbledore, Sirius

First Published: 01/03/2008
Last Chapter: 01/05/2008
Last Updated: 01/05/2008

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“Who are you?” he asked at last, defeated.

The man inclined his head, just far enough to enter the dull ray of sunlight that flowed through a nearby window. Sirius had to stop himself from letting out a startled and horrified gasp or moan.

Chapter 1: Finally Free
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Disclaimer: J K Rowling owns the Harry Potter world, the Potterverse. I own only the plot fill-in here, which I wrote for a story challenge by another author!

A/N: Here is my entry for StoryLover3095’s Sirius Black Escape challenge! 

A storm raged outside the small window, lightning flashing dangerously close to the fortress walls. A man stared absentmindedly past the bolts at the water crashing against the rocks supporting the building. He would give anything to be out there, even now, with the dangerous possibility of electrocution.

The truth was, he was getting desperate. Oh, how he itched to break free of this prison, to somehow outsmart the dementors who swarmed the place. There was no chance of getting out now, though, not after he had failed every attempt for the last twelve years.

But now he had extra motivation. After seeing the newspaper yesterday, he knew for sure that Peter Pettigrew was at Hogwarts castle. Peter, the reason he was in Azkaban now, and the one of the people he trusted least around his godson. His old friend had to be found and caught as soon as possible, or else the next papers Sirius would read were likely to include a front-page article on Harry Potter’s murder.

I can’t let that happen, Sirius thought frantically. I promised Lily and James I’d take care of him. If anything happens, I’ll never forgive myself! 

Still, what could he do about it? He was locked in a high-security cell, guarded by creatures that never slept, ate, or took any break for any reason at all. Not to mention the slight predicament of not having a wand.

There was one possibility, of course, one that he considered every time he really put his mind to an escape plot, but it was risky. For one thing, he wasn’t sure if he could do it anymore, and even if he could manage, there was always a chance that the dementors would suspect something. There were other perils, too, such as someone would see him leaving, and he knew for certain that no animals were allowed in the fortress. He still remembered the incident with the old woman and her Chihuahua.

And even if he could manage to escape his cell, and then the building, where could he go after that? Azkaban fortress was surrounded by a lake, which acted as a castle mote. The theory was that even if a prisoner was to escape, unlikely as that was, they would not be able to Apparate across the lake. However, as Sirius liked to think, if one was still able to transform into a dog, then said person could probably manage Apparating the few hundred feet over the body of water. If the first part of his escape succeeded, then hopefully the second part would, too.

Sirius Black took a long, deep breath, making up his mind. He was finally going to try it. Tomorrow night, he would escape from Azkaban.

Now I just need to get a good night’s sleep and act normal for another day, he observed. He cast one last long glance out the rain-streaked window, knowing that if all went well, he’d soon be out in the fresh air. And if all went wrong…. Well, if all went wrong, then at least everyone would know he’d gone down fighting, whether they thought of it as honorable or not. 

The sun rose as usual the next morning, but Sirius was already awake and out of his miserable little cot for a bed. He was anxious to turn into his Animagus form, but he didn’t want to rouse the dementors’ attention before it was absolutely necessary.

He was doing an old crossword puzzle, trying to pass the time, when a quiet voice made him jump.

“Out of bed already, Sirius?”

Sirius spun to face his visitor, dropping the issue of the Daily Prophet on the floor, its pages crinkling as they smashed against the stone. The speaker was in the shadows, making it impossible for him to tell who it was. The voice was so hauntingly familiar, yet for the life of him he couldn’t think who it was. There was a name, right on the tip of his tongue, but however insistently he urged it, it would not move any farther.

“Who are you?” he asked at last, defeated.

The man inclined his head, just far enough to enter the dull ray of sunlight that flowed through a nearby window. Sirius had to stop himself from letting out a startled and horrified gasp or moan. Of all the people in the world, Albus Dumbledore was the only one who would think to pick this, of all days, to show up in Azkaban, the very day that Sirius planned to escape. If Dumbledore was hanging around, then his hopes were dashed.

“What, ah, what brings you to the prison, Albus?” Sirius queried nervously, finishing the question with an awkward swallow. And what do I have to do to make you leave it? 

“I was sitting in my office, and I suddenly felt this strange desire to visit an old student,” he answered cheerfully. One of the dementors who guarded Sirius’s cell turned its hooded head toward silver-haired man in what could have been anger. It was clear that his happiness was not something they appreciated much; it was bad enough that their prisoner hadn’t gone insane like the rest of the inhabitants.

Seeming to read his mind, as was his nature, Dumbledore peered at him through his half-moon spectacles and said, “I see you still haven’t given into the dementors yet. I’ve often asked myself how it is possible for you to resist them.”

Sirius stared into Dumbledore’s blue eyes, as if searching them for a hidden message. He found none, but thought he saw a knowing twinkle. That can’t be possible, he told himself firmly. He certainly doesn’t know anything; I just imagined it. The only thing that Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore thinks he knows is that I’m a worthless traitor that handed his best friends over to Voldemort, and that’s as far from the truth as he can get. 

Dumbledore didn’t notice his dark mood. He reached into his purple robe pocket and pulled out a yellow muggle candy that Sirius vaguely remembered as being called a lemon drop. He and James had once raided a muggle shop for food, and if he recalled that day correctly, James had made the most horrible face as he sucked on the sour candy, rushing to the bathroom and coughing it up in the toilet. What he would give to spend another summer like that….

He snapped out of his reverie as Dumbledore let out an exclamation, having just looked at his watch. “Is that really the time? Well, it seems I must be off. Goodbye, Sirius, and good luck.” Sirius could have sworn that he was given a deeply meaningful look before the old wizard swept away from him. He couldn’t have imagined that as well, could he?

For the next hour or so, he could do nothing but stare at the ceiling, his mind’s eyes visualizing those blue eyes and the last look they gave him before turning the other way and into the darkness. The image lingered with him for a long time, until he thought the memory would last longer than those of Peter’s betrayal.

He can’t know anything. He repeated it over and over in his head, but he could never quite convince himself it was true. If he knew something, which is impossible, then he’d have alerted an Auror, or else just had those foul dementors suck out my soul on the spot. He can’t know anything! 

If he had had a wand handy, he simply would have used a Memory Charm on himself, but of course he wasn’t allowed a wand in prison. Just another reason why he spent hours cursing himself for letting that treacherous little rat be the Potter’s Secret Keeper. If he had trusted Remus a little more, he wouldn’t be in this mess now!

Now he was getting far off track. He had to forget how blind he was before, ignore the look he only thought he had seen Dumbledore give him, and get back to his escape plan, which he still had absolutely no way of forming. His best chance was to just get out there and get it over with as quickly as possible.

Night had fallen again by now, and with no light, he was less likely to be seen by any human guards. As a dog, he could see better in the dark, and it would most likely be harder for the dementors to sense him. He was so thin that he could slip right through the rusty bars, and hopefully right past any of the rotting fiends watching him.

It’s now or never, he thought grimly. He sucked in the stale air around him and started to transform.

Jet-black fur sprouted on his bare arms, his hair shrank to the length of a pin. His nose grew wet and leathery, sharpening his sense of smell and forcing him to breathe in the dementors’ foul odor. He felt his teeth lengthen and his body begin to shrink, his two legs no longer enough to support him. In a matter of moments, he was on all fours, the claws on his paws scraping against the cold stone floor. Even if he didn’t make it out of Azkaban, to him he was free anyway. He was no longer Sirius Black, but Padfoot, the black Labrador known only by his friends, Prongs, Moony, and Wormtail.

It took a minute for him to remember the plan he was supposed to be carrying out. Careful not to make too much noise, he crept over to the bars and squeezed through the two that looked farthest apart, praying the dementors wouldn’t hear the sound of his fur scraping the metal.

Triumphantly he wriggled through, wincing as his wagging tail hit the left bar with a particularly loud thump. He waited fearfully, holding his breath, but no screech came from the inhuman guards. He breathed out with relief and padded down the hallway, making sure his footsteps didn’t echo in the empty space.

A sudden fantasy popped into his head, interrupting his mission. He imagined him, Prongs, and Moony were all playing another one of their pranks and had to make their grand escape. This was just another of those times when the reckless friends had nothing more to fear than a teacher’s lecture and detention. They’d gotten detention often enough, of course, but that was when they went public with the joke. When they didn’t want to get caught, however, it was easy enough to evade capture, although everyone would know who had done it anyway, including the teachers. Once and a while, that was enough for the Marauders, just simply being admired from afar.

Now was a time where admiration from afar had to be enough. Now was the time that he didn’t want to be caught, and in order to avoid that, he had to take whichever route had the least obstacles. It had been easy enough at Hogwarts; why should here be any different?

Starting to feel like this was more of a game, he kept his ears erect for any noise and his eyes wide and alert for movement. At the first sign of life, he would flatten himself against the wall, keeping as still and quiet as possible.

Surprisingly, he never had the need to do so. Not once did a surprise figure show up, and Sirius was finding his safe passage very odd. That is, until he got to a door, transformed back to a man, and pushed it open.

There, standing purposefully in the pitch black night, was Dumbledore, looking as at home near the menacing tower as in his Hogwarts office.

“Hello, Sirius,” he greeted casually, as though this was completely normal. “I was expecting you.”

Sirius felt numb to the bone. So Dumbledore had known something, and he hadn’t imagined those looks. But why wasn’t he getting the Ministry’s attention? Perhaps he plans to duel me himself. He gulped in terror at the thought.

Dumbledore patted his arms comfortingly. “No need to look so scared,” he said kindly. “I have helped you get this far, why would I ruin it now?”

Helping me? Sirius blinked, and then something dawned on him.

“I didn’t meet anyone coming out here,” he said slowly. “Was that your doing?”

Dumbledore nodded and smiled. “It was indeed. I did not doubt your capability, of course, I just thought it would be a bit nicer to lend a hand and make things easier.”

He could do nothing but stare, dumbfounded, as his former headmaster conjured up a broom.

“I imagine this would be easier than Apparating your way across the lake. More enjoyable, and less energy consuming.”

Still unable to speak, Sirius took the broom wordlessly in his hand and mounted, ready to take off, but before he left, he looked straight into Dumbledore’s twinkling blue eyes. “Thank you. I have no idea why you trust me, but thank you.”

The twinkle died in the old man’s eyes. “I’m afraid there is nothing more I can do for you,” he warned gravely. “There is no proof I can give of your innocence, and I must pretend that I believe you guilty for the sake of my school. You must stay in hiding somewhere, and don’t go near Hogwarts. There will be dementors there, no matter how much I fight against it. Harry will be fine.”

Understanding flooded Sirius’s heart. “Thank you,” he repeated in a low whisper. Then he took flight, steering the broom with expertise toward freedom and leaving the dark, cold prison behind.

A few months later…

A raven-haired boy and his friends, one of them an obvious Weasley and the other a girl he didn’t know, were all in the Shrieking Shack with him. His heart beat faster as Harry Potter gave him a death glare. He wanted to scream out the truth, but he was terrified that his godson wouldn’t believe him. If only someone the children trusted would come and explain, someone who would make a difference….

That was why he was all the more thrilled when none other than Remus Lupin entered the room. This was the time, after twelve years in Azkaban for a crime he didn’t commit, that he would be avenged. He and one of his best friend would take care of Peter for good tonight, his name would be cleared, and Harry would live with him forever, his only godson.

If only he knew how unkind fate could be.

A/N: Sorry if the ending was too lame! I couldn’t think of anything. Anyway, that was it! My entry! Hope you liked it!