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A/N: This is for those who did not find my ending to An Alternate Ending satisfactory, either because they crave a happy ending or because it wasn't conclusive and didn't tie up the loose ends Ieft. I present A New Beginning. Possibly ten chapters long at it's most, I hope to complete this before the release of the HBP and so, without further ado, I shall allow you to read :o)





Chapter One
A Series Of Disheartening Discoveries


“It is done, my Lord,” Bellatrix said that evening as she bowed down before Voldemort, “We have infiltrated the Order and the charms upon the house will not allow Dumbledore to re-enter. The house will be silent by morning.”

“Good…” Tom said as he stared across the room, his pale and slender fingers twirling his wand between them and a smile on his blood red lips, “Never would they believe that they were surrounded by impostors again…”

“Never, my Lord,” Bellatrix echoed to him and he smiled down at her.

“Very well, you may go,” he told her, “but leave Harry for me; young Mr Potter must learn his error of blind trust.” He grinned widely.

Voldemort rose to his feet and walked boldly across the large chamber, down to the lower cells in the large prison. He made sure that he walked past the large room which had once held his second set of impostors. His smiled widened as he passed the door and he silently congratulated himself on a plan well made as his steps echoed down into the higher security cells.

“Good evening,” he said quietly as he stared down the row of cells, each of them inhabited by one terrified member of the Order of the Phoenix all in varying states of baldness from the hair taken for the Polyjuice potion. Sobbing could be heard, mixed with sounds of hushed whispers and whimpers. It was music to Voldemort’s ears.

A malevolent smile touched his features as he looked down upon the Order members which were starving and tortured around him. He would not kill them yet for to live is to suffer – he knew that more truly than any could have realised.

Slender but misleadingly strong fingers closed around a small paperweight with a tiny phoenix inside and glass shards fell to the floor. In Grimmauld Place, Harry Potter clasped his forehead once more as agony ripped through it, not seeing the wands raised against him until it was too late.


***


Harry stifled a cry of pain as he awoke on a cold stone floor. His vision was blurred and he could just about make out some horizontal bars over his view. He blinked but his vision did not become any clearer. He could see the vague form of something which could have been his glasses close to him and he reached out his fingers. They brushed lightly over the surface and he felt cool metal under his fingertips with a smooth surface which was not quite as cool. It could easily have been glass.

Slowly, using the one arm at his disposal, he slipped the object he hoped to be his glasses onto his nose and everything became clear again. He was lying on his side in a cell in what he could only presume to be Azkaban. Shivers passed through him and he felt extremely ill all of a sudden. Despite the fact that he was now wearing his glasses, the room blurred and span slightly before he took in a deep breath and became calm again.

He gasped when a jolt of pain shot up his right arm and bit his lip to prevent himself from crying out. Harry instantly regretted his attempt at sitting up and it appeared that the arm he was lying on was broken or possibly dislocated. He couldn’t tell and he didn’t particularly want to know either.

Lumos,” he murmured softly as he concentrated on the space in front of him but nothing happened. Clearly the cell he was in was strongly protected against any magical activity, meaning that there was very little chance of escape.

Across from him he saw a slight movement and he noticed for the first time that there was a cell opposite his on the other side of what appeared to be a corridor. There was a slight movement within it, perhaps from someone turning over in their sleep and then they were still and silent.

The silence hit Harry suddenly and it was almost overwhelming. It seemed as if it was a deafening roar and he had the sudden urge to cry out to break the silence which surrounded him. The strange paradox which was the roaring silence was not broken by him however; it was eventually broken by the person in the cell opposite.

“Harry?” The voice was quiet but amongst the hush it was easily heard.

“Tonks?” he asked, uncertain as to whether it was her voice he had heard.

“Yeah, it’s me.” She sounded sad but he couldn’t see her well enough to distinguish her expression. Although the corridor which ran between the cells was bathed in light, none of it touched the inside of the cells which remained darkened and gloomy. Tonks was merely a dark shape opposite him and he realised that it could easily have been anyone else impersonating her. But why would they bother?

“Are you all right?” he asked her, trying again to sit up. Pain shot through his arm once more but it was somewhat duller than it had been. He leant against the wall as his breathing became more laboured from the agony he felt.

“I’m fine, well…” she trailed off; both of them knew that no one in there was fine, “What about you? What’s wrong?”

“My arm,” he managed through clenched teeth as he forced himself into a sitting position with the assistance of the wall.

“I thought I heard something snap when they threw you in there,” she said quietly before asking suddenly, “Will you tell me something?”

Harry briefly wondered what knowledge he possessed which she did not before he realised. She had been there for months, almost a year in fact. She had no idea what was going on in the world outside, she didn’t know that they had been impersonated for months and months on end only so that when their antics had finally been discovered they had saved entirely the wrong people.

He realised the stupidity of what they had done as he leant back against the wall, the cold of it passing through his thin robes and sending chills down his spine. He had done exactly what Voldemort had wanted; he had believed his dreams, believing them to hold wisdom which Voldemort had not wanted him to see when it had been quite the opposite. In retrospect it seemed ridiculous that Voldemort would have kept them all in one room together in which a Portkey could work. A grim smile touched his lips at the knowledge of his own foolishness.

“Harry…?” Tonks asked quietly and he realised that he had not yet responded to her.

“What do you want to know?” he asked softly.

“Everything,” she replied, “Everything which happened to you this year, how you ended up here, what happened when we disappeared…”

“I think we’d all like to know that,” said the voice of Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody from the cell to the left of Tonks’. Harry watched as the old Auror moved into the light at the edge of his cell and he could see his battle worn face looked, if possible, more scarred than it had the last time he had seen him.

As Mad Eye moved to see him more clearly, so did everyone else in their cells. Harry moved to the edge of his own cell to get a better view down the corridor and he saw all the familiar faces of those he cared about staring back at him.

Minerva was on the other side of Tonks and it was she who began to tell their tale first.

“When you disappeared, you were instantly replaced by an impostor who played their part as you until we discovered that they were not who they pretended to be,” she began but she was interrupted by Kingsley.

“Yes, we know this,” he told her, “We were replaced by Death Eaters, all of whom had extensive study of our characters so that they could more accurately play our parts.”

“Clearly they played them very well,” Remus muttered darkly from the right of Harry.

“Where is everyone? Surely there are more of us than this?” Minerva asked suddenly and from the silence which greeted her she knew already that not everyone had been permitted to live. She changed her question and asked in a softer tone, “Who didn’t make it?”

Harry felt a wave of sickness hit him at the euphemism and he felt his stomach twist in anxiety to the news which was about to be delivered.

“Arthur, Ginny and Filius,” Molly said quietly from somewhere on Harry’s left. There was silence which followed her words as Minerva and Harry absorbed what had been said.

Harry couldn’t believe it. They were really dead, and two of them were Weasleys. He couldn’t possibly fathom how Molly felt at that moment and he decided that he probably couldn’t bear it if he knew. Soft sobbing could be heard and Harry realised that Molly had dissolved into tears.

“Molly doesn’t speak much now,” Tonks said to him from across the corridor. Harry wasn’t particularly surprised; she had lost her husband and her only daughter whilst she was forced to remain alive in imprisonment.

“Not that we can blame her,” Remus murmured to the side of him. Harry felt some odd comfort in the fact that he was not lying in a cell completely isolated from his friends. Suddenly he felt an odd stab of fear – how did he know that they were really who he thought they were? He had been tricked twice, what was there to prevent it from happening again?

No. He would not become suspicious of them, he couldn’t! He surely couldn’t survive if he was truly isolated from everyone he knew, he just had to believe he was really with those he cared for.

“Where’s Snape?” Harry asked suddenly, realising that he had yet to hear a snide comment from the potions master.

“We don’t know,” Bill replied, “he wasn’t brought in when you were so we think that Voldemort’s seeing him now.” Harry felt quite cold at the idea of being ‘seen’ by Voldemort and he didn’t want to think of the many awful things that could have been happening to him.

“How long have we been here?” Minerva asked them but there was no immediate reply.

“It’s difficult to gauge time in here, we have no windows leading outside and we don’t know when we sleep or for how long,” Remus replied when no one else did, “but I think you’ve been here for two hours, maybe three.”

“The worst thing is the boredom though,” Ron said, speaking for the first time somewhere further down the corridor to Harry’s right.

“The boredom?!” Mad Eye snapped, “Personally I find that the occasional torture is the worst part.”

“Torture?” Minerva repeated faintly.

“Can’t be held prisoner by Voldemort without being occasionally tortured now, can we?” said one of the twins, although Harry could not tell which one it had been who had spoken.

“Basically we sit, slowly rotting in cells all day, every day,” Mad Eye said, “We’re fed once a day in the company of Voldemort after which we’re permitted one trip to the toilet.”

“Dinner with Voldemort. Sounds fun,” Harry said grimly.

“Oh, it is,” One of the twins said, “we have a right laugh with old Voldie, we tell jokes–”

“–sing songs–”

“–get tortured–”

“–and poisoned–”

“That is enough,” Molly said from the other side of the corridor. The twins were silent immediately and for a few moments the rest of them were also.

“Poisoned?” Minerva asked and Harry wondered just how Filius, Arthur and Ginny had died.

“That’s how Filius…” Mad Eye began but broke off as a metal door at the far end of the corridor was swung open and it clashed against the wall. Mad Eye did not finish what he had been saying, but he didn’t need to; the meaning was clear enough.

Harry watched as Snape’s limp form was dragged past him and thrown into the cell on his left. Cold encompassed him and he felt like he was going to be sick, or faint, or…

Harry’s vision swirled sickeningly and then it all went black as screams rang in his ears.

“Harry?” Remus asked from next to him but he received no answer.

“He’s fainted,” Tonks informed him and Remus nodded, it had been what he had expected. His life had become considerably worse since his last meeting with Dementors, it was only reasonable that he wouldn’t be capable of remaining conscious in their presence.

Remus closed his eyes as the Dementors walked past him and he saw images flashing before his eyes of his past. There were more flashes of green and screams of horror than he would have liked to admit.

Then, as quickly as the feeling had overtaken him, it was gone again, leaving him slightly nauseated and trembling. The conversation had died with the appearance of the Dementors and everyone soon slipped into fitful slumber.

It was Severus who first awoke four hours later to the sound of eerie silence which seemed all too common amongst them. Everywhere ached, most especially his limbs and he was shaking, though not from fear or cold. He was slowly learning to gauge the length of time he had been under the Cruciatus curse from the intensity of his aches and pains and the length of time he had remained unconscious. It was an awful sign of the tortuous nature of his life that he had attained that particular skill.

“Hello?” he managed to choke out through a throat raw from screaming.

“Severus,” the voice belonged to Mad Eye and sure enough, that menacing eye became visible as the intimidating ex-Auror seated himself at the edge of his cell, “Good to see you’re still with us.”

“It doesn’t feel particularly good,” Severus muttered and he wondered if it would have been better for him to die; at least then he would be rid of this world and everyone in it. Perhaps he would start afresh with a new life, perhaps there was some mysterious afterlife or, most hopefully, there would be nothing. Nothing at all, “I take it that not everyone is still with us then?”

“No,” Mad Eye answered, “unfortunately not.”

“Do I dare to hope that Potter was amongst those who didn’t manage to stay alive?” he asked coolly.

“No you don’t,” Harry said from the cell next to his. There had been one moment of bliss and hope in which he silently prayed that it had all been a terrible dream as he kept his eyes squeezed tightly shut. The reality was a terrible thing to face as he opened his eyes to find himself lying on a cold stone floor with horizontal bars across his vision. He was going to have to start sleeping on his back if only so that he didn’t see bars every time he woke up.

“Pity,” Snape said lightly, “I don’t suppose you’re going to tell me who didn’t survive then?”

“You know, you’d be really sorry you’d said that if Harry had been one of the ones who had died,” Tonks butted into the conversation and Snape cast a cool look in her direction but didn’t comment, “Arthur, Filius and Ginny were the ones who died, if you care to know,” Tonks added when he didn’t respond.

Of course I care to know! Why do you think I asked you imbecile?! Severus thought but he did not voice his opinion. Clearly tempers would become much more frayed as time wore on and it was only the new arrival of Minerva, Severus and Harry which had kept them from tearing out each other’s throats through the bars.

Severus leant back against the wall and closed his eyes. He had no idea how long he was going to be trapped in there before he was eventually killed but in the company of the Order it was likely to be a very irritable one.

He remained silent even as the others awoke and began to converse with one another, lost in his thoughts. He wondered why they were still alive and had not yet been murdered. Perhaps they would prove to be good hostages should he desire anything from the Ministry or maybe he just enjoyed torturing those who opposed him. One thing was for certain; Dumbledore was still out there somewhere, even if they were not and even if Potter was murdered he would still fight for freedom and the world as they knew it. It was either that or Voldemort would take over the world. Then it would probably be better to be dead.

The door clanged open and Severus closed his eyes as the Dementors swept along the corridor. They were there for the next person with whom Voldemort desired company. He truly felt sorry for them, although as flashes of his life appeared before his eyes, he felt too sick to care.

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