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Severus closed his eyes as the Dementors came floating down the corridor; he was certain that they would take him back to Voldemort who had yet to finish with him. The happiness inside him was sucked out and left him with a feeling of isolation and fear as memory after memory flashed on his closed eyelids.

He waited with ragged breath for the cold clutches of the Dementors to drag him away to agony and suffering but it never came; they never got as far as his cell and it was only when the feeling began to recede that he realised he was not their target.

Harry felt nauseated as he felt himself dragged to his feet by the Dementors. Their touch was like ice and he could barely see the world around him, just a vague swimming of bars in and out of focus. The Dementors didn’t care; their job was to transport their charge to their master and then they would leave. Harry knew already where he was being taken, as did everyone else around him and all of them silently prayed that he would come back to them alive.

The path which the Dementors took him down was a long and winding one. Rows and rows of cells flashed by Harry’s vision as they walked at a quick pace along the stone passageways, but he did not have the energy left in him to do anymore than distinguish between his memories and the prison. Once or twice he thought he noticed someone stir in the cells to the side of him but he knew this could not be so; there was no one in the prison apart from Death Eaters and the Order, and the Order had been kept together for Voldemort’s ease in reclaiming them.

He knew that he ought to be scared, Harry was being taken to the Dark Lord who had long since desired the removal of his life and yet he felt nothing inside him except the turmoil which had been brought about by the Dementors. He felt a strange, almost relief, inside him at the idea of finally facing Voldemort. The terms were not his own, he was not skilled and he was in poor health. To Harry it was if he was going to be executed and he did not mind. It would be over once and for all; his life, the prophecy and the worries which had plagued him for so long. Hopefully, all with one swish of a wand although sadly, Voldemort was not known for merciful killings.

Harry’s musings were cut short as it appeared that they had finally reached their destination. There were no more cells lining the corridor in which he stood and in front of him was a large, wooden door. Harry could almost sense the magic emanating from it and he realised that he was more aware and had a little more energy than he had had in his cell. He didn’t know what the cells did but they were very suppressive, which was clearly what the makers of the prison had in mind when they built it.

The doors were flung open from the inside by two Death Eaters, the faces of whom Harry couldn’t see. Inside there were masses of Death Eaters and it was clear that there was a meeting taking place. At the head of the room sat Voldemort, high enough so that he could easily look over those he ruled over and observe him as he was dragged over the threshold and into the large chamber beyond.

“Welcome Harry,” he smiled and Harry felt a wave of terror wash over him. His thoughts of relief had drastically changed and he found that he didn’t particularly wish to face his death and the giver of it just then. Unfortunately for him, he was not given much of a choice in the matter. He was pushed to the ground and the large doors shut behind him with a thud which sounded final and dead. Harry briefly reflected that soon he would be also before his thoughts were abandoned.

The echo of the door clanging passed down the corridors and passageways of Azkaban, reverberated through every cell bar and just met the ears of each of the prisoners being held there.

Severus was certain that he had just heard the large doors to the main chamber clang shut but they were a long way from there and even in the silence which surrounded them and overwhelmed all inside it, surely the sound could not travel so far. He found that he wasn’t particularly bothered about the matter as he was not on the other side of them, had he been on the other side of the doors with Voldemort, he reflected that he would probably be thinking less about the doors then as well.

Pain shot through his left arm as he moved to a more comfortable position on the cold stone floor. They had not been provided with anything upon which to sit, which he felt was a shame but then again he was imprisoned, he was not being catered to, which once again was quite the shame. He made a mental note to comment along the lines of ‘don’t entertain much, do you?’ to Voldemort the next time he was summoned to him. It would be unwise, but it could have highly interesting consequences.

Once again the pain jolted up his left forearm and he gingerly pulled the sleeve up to reveal the Dark Mark. It was still on his skin and looked as livid as ever set against the reddened flesh. He did not know what Voldemort had done to it in their brief meeting some few hours ago but, whatever it was, it caused much suffering.

He reached out with his right forefinger and brushed it over the top. It cracked slightly and he immediately regretted it. It was agony, it was all consuming, it was… gone. His gaze was immediately drawn back down to it and he stared, a bewildered and rather amused smile on his face as his eyes ran over the Mark.

Then he laughed. It echoed around the corridors and around the empty cells, it echoed down the passageways and just reached the large chamber but within it was not heard.

“I think you will drastically change your mind, Harry,” Voldemort said to him as he loomed over the young boy. There was no relief there now, nor was there any desire to meet his end, just to escape the situation he was in. The Dark Lord stood over him, a sadistic smirk playing on his lips as he offered him a place at his right hand side. “You could be great…”

It’s all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that— the words of the Sorting Hat so many years ago echoed in his mind and he wondered briefly whether Voldemort had intentionally picked the same words.

“… you would have all the power you ever dreamed of and the lives of those you care for would be forever protected,” Voldemort continued but Harry was barely listening; he knew that his words were poison and that to listen to them would most likely bring about not just the end of himself but his friends also. They would never forgive him if he turned to the Death Eaters, whether for their safety or not. “Do you accept?”

“No,” Harry said simply. He stared into Voldemort’s eyes and for a moment he saw a flicker within them, perhaps of fury or contempt but he was not sure and he found that he didn’t particularly care, not once the Cruciatus Curse was upon him, and it soon was.

“You will learn from your mistakes.” His voice was calm and collected; it rose above the din of the Death Eaters as they laughed at and mocked Harry as he fought his way back to his feet. The Dementors had weakened him greatly and he knew that they were hanging in the doorways, ready to return him to his cell the moment Voldemort gave the word. Then suddenly it all became ominously silent and Harry felt that the whole room must be able to hear the thudding of his heart as it tried to burst out of his body; it couldn’t take the pain anymore. “Now, will you accept my Mark?”

“No,” Harry repeated. He could feel his will beginning to waver slightly and he could sense the Imperious curse tugging at the ends of his mind but it appeared his Occlumency had been of some use after all; not even the Imperious curse could reach inside his mind and influence him now. Snape would be proud, if he lived through the experience that was, and if hell had frozen over perhaps.

“You will regret this, Harry,” he said quietly as he walked over to him. He was standing rather too close for Harry to want to stay on the ground and he hauled himself back to his feet. Voldemort opened his mouth as if to add something else but then a smile curved his lips and Harry felt dread settle in his stomach like lead. He didn’t know what was coming but he knew whatever it was would not be good.

“Bring the wolf,” Voldemort snapped at the Dementors at the door and it appeared that they knew of whom he spoke as they drifted off out of the room moments later, slamming the doors shut after them. He turned back to Harry who realised he could almost see some life in those cold eyes. It was not life which should ever have been born, Harry found himself thinking as he tore his gaze away.

For Merlin’s sake Potter! This is not a staring contest! the voice of Severus Snape echoed in his mind as he found himself thinking of past Occlumency lessons with the man, Now if you enjoy being alive I would stop staring into my eyes, moron. Everyone knows that Legilimency works ten times better with eye contact! Now stare at the floor you insolent boy!

“So tell me, how does it feel knowing that just by existing you’ve endangered the lives of those you care about?” Voldemort asked, that same smirk playing around his lips. Harry did not rise to the bait but instead kept his mind closed and his thoughts and his worries locked away even as panic at Remus’ imminent presence began to weigh on his mind. He hoped that something would happen and that by some amazing chance the Dementors would get lost, although he knew that they would not, and they had not.

They dragged Remus down the corridor; he was too weak to walk in their icy grasp. Corridor after corridor passed with the vaguest sensation of consciousness mingled occasionally with the memories which flashed before his eyes. Horizontal bars flickered through his thoughts and the past, twisting the house of the Potters into a prison cell and the Shrieking Shack became more so.

They had stopped, Remus realised and he pushed away the memories which threatened to overwhelm him entirely and looked around him. He was outside the main chamber of the prison in which they ate the few meals they were given. The bars and the cells had long since vanished and a large door which stood at around ten feet tall met him. It was opened from the inside and he felt instantly nauseated at the sight that greeted him.

Harry was on the floor and Voldemort had his wand pointed idly at him as he thrashed on the floor, the Cruciatus Curse playing out its effects upon him. The urge to turn and run fought against the desire to challenge Voldemort if only to stop the curse upon Harry. In the end neither won and he was dragged limply into the room and deposited by Voldemort’s feet.

He hadn’t the strength to stay on his feet and fell into a heap next to Harry where their eyes met briefly. He saw the apology written in Harry’s gaze although the situation was far beyond his control. Remus merely smiled slightly and shook his head, rejecting such an apology without words.

“Now Harry, you are going to learn what happens to those you care about when you refuse such offers to join my ranks,” Voldemort said to Harry, ignoring Remus completely but he was long since used to such treatment from those who thought themselves above him. Remus felt a strange feeling of dread twist in his stomach; so that was why he was there. He was there to show Harry just why he should follow the orders of Voldemort; Remus could only hope that he would choose the right path and not stray from the line just because of some torture on his part.

It sounded easy thinking of torture, but when faced with the reality Remus knew it would not be quite the same. He only hoped that he would not be subjected to watching Harry tortured more so than he already had been because he knew that he would be unable to endure it. Seeing those he cared about hurt had always been a terrible weak spot where he was concerned and it struck him that if Harry was the same then neither of them would last very long.

He had not heard the curse coming when it struck him in the chest. Remus was knocked backwards and around him he could hear the laughter of the Death Eaters and his own cries of pain as the curse did its duty.

Harry refused to watch Remus writhing in agony and kept his gaze fixed firmly on Voldemort. He felt his head turning against his will back to the scene in front of him and the more he pushed against it, the more his neck fought back. His eyes also felt as if they were being kept open against his will and they began to water slightly from his inability to blink, at least that’s what Harry would tell himself later on.

For Remus the world had blurred and eventually turned black although the pain was still as real as ever. The laughter of the Death Eaters seemed somewhat toned down, as did the screams which fought their way out of his throat but as soon as the pain had started, it had stopped. He opened his eyes, not realising that he had shut them and tried to force himself into a sitting position.

Above him Voldemort stood, towering over Harry who hadn’t the strength to get back to his feet. The same awful smile had yet to leave his lips and he felt a sickening sense of foreboding as the wand was moved away from him towards his charge. Harry stared up into Voldemort’s eyes, neglecting one of the first rules of Occlumency for the second time that day, not that Remus was aware of that.

Remus felt his eyes glued to the sight of his godson twisting and writhing in front of him, his gaze could not be averted and the screams which were dragged from his lungs could not be silenced, at least not by him. Time went on and he could not look away.


*


Severus Snape stared down at his arm whilst around him the Order spoke in hushed voices of the fates of Remus and Harry; it was unheard of for two people to be ‘seen’ by Voldemort at once and naturally that they had been was not a good sign. Severus couldn’t care less about Potter and Lupin at that present moment, well that was a lie but at that time his bare forearm was all which interested him.

The Mark had come off.

The moment he had touched it, it had cracked beneath his fingertip, sending bursts of pain throughout him but it had left his arm shortly afterwards. Now the pieces of the mark which had once been embedded in his skin lay against him and he brushed them off him into the corridor beyond his cell.

It was a little known fact of anyone but those who made up the Death Eaters that the Dark Mark was something inserted into the skin, it was not a mark charmed to appear at certain times, nor was it like a Muggle tattoo. It was supposedly a sign of their devotion to Voldemort that people would be willing to have such an object inserted under their skin. Severus snorted indignantly as he stared in wonder at his forearm, knowing that he would never feel that familiar burst of pain when he was wanted ever again. He was finally free. Or as free as a man in a prison cell could possibly be.

“Look, Granger, as far as I’m concerned they’re as good as dead,” Mad Eye snapped at Hermione who was nearing tears by the looks of things. Alastor was not the best of people to have around especially when comfort was required. He was more the sort of person you wanted around when you were contemplating attacking someone, not that many of the Order did that frequently so he had become somewhat of an inconvenience.

“There is no proof that harm has befallen either Remus or Harry yet so please allow the subject to rest,” Minerva said, trying to keep the arguments between them to a minimum but with little success.

“I think it dubious that they would enter the company of the Dark Lord and escape unscathed, don’t you agree?” Severus said, adding his voice to the argument which previously appeared to have been Mad Eye against the rest of the Order. He almost heard the groans that ensued from Minerva and Kingsley who had been attempting to keep things relatively calm and peaceful between them.

“I don’t see why we can’t just drop this conversation entirely,” Bill said, joining the fight for peace.

“Yes, some of the people here are far too young to hear of such awful things as the truth,” smirked Severus, deliberately stirring things in the group.

“Why? Is this conversation too grown up for us?” Ron snapped at him and without needing to see them, he knew that half the Order had just rolled their eyes.

“No but if you would rather contemplate the possible torture and death of one of your closest friends than speak of other things then I think it’s time to re-evaluate your state of mind,” Minerva snapped at him. Tempers were running high in the group and they were beginning to feel the strain of being always in one another’s company in less than desirable conditions.

Severus smiled slightly; people were so easily brought into arguments but his smile didn’t last. For them to survive they would probably have to work as a team. He shuddered slightly at the thought, although he knew that outside help would also be required. Their situation was rather hopeless, he knew that now as he leant his head back against the cool, calming stone and let the arguments wash over him; he no longer cared.


*


Harry’s eyes closed and they did not open again. Voldemort smirked slightly at the sight of the two exhausted individuals, shaking madly on the floor from the effects of the Cruciatus Curse. He knew that if he kept it up he would be able to break the boy, although of what use he would be when finally broken he was not sure. The safest way to ensure his loyalty would have been to keep the lives of his friends and ‘family’ in the balance, which sadly meant that he would not have the fun of removing the lives of those in the Order, leaving Harry alone and miserable.

“Take them away,” Voldemort ordered, four Dementors stepping forwards the moment the words had left his mouth. He watched as the limp forms were removed from his sight, his mind still wandering over the possibilities of making Potter just like him. It would be difficult, he decided, but not impossible. A wide grin passed over his face briefly before he turned back to his Death Eaters, his prisoners having left the room.

Outside in the corridor Remus grabbed hold of Harry’s wrist as they were pulled along and instantly a mental link formed between them. Wandless magic appeared to walk in the corridors, although there was little use for it as all that happened was their worst moments mingled together and that was nothing to be desired.

Harry cast Remus an enquiring look as they were practically carried back to their cells but he didn’t have the strength to reply, at least not in speech.

Are you okay? Remus asked him, maintaining a tight hold on his arm. A sense of amusement greeted his thoughts from Harry and he realised how ridiculous the question had been; he had just endured what felt like hours of torture and he was asking of his health.

Never been better, Harry replied without really thinking. I’m––

Don’t even think it! Remus cut him off quickly. You have nothing to be sorry for so just leave it. All that matters is staying alive and getting out of here in the same condition… Harry felt his mind wander over the only times that their cell doors were open: when they went to dinner at some point during the day and when they were led individually to Voldemort. Neither of them seemed like promising chances of escape and yet if they could only get out into the corridor they might stand a chance; the corridors clearly allowed magic, or at least more of it than the cells…

It won’t work, Remus. You may as well face it, we’re trapped and there isn’t any way for us to get out of this, Harry said to him after running his own mind over Remus train of thought. Remus was surprised to say the least; someone he had always thought would be planning their escape all this time had finally given up? Surely it wasn’t possible… and yet their time was so awful, their situation so hopeless and their only help inside with them. How could they ever get out alive without the help of Dumbledore?

Dumbledore will help us, he has to, Remus thought as his mind considered the possibilities.

What makes you so sure? He had no one to come to Azkaban with him except for us and we’re already inside! Harry argued and fought for the control of his mind as images washed over his vision. Inside his head he felt misery take hold although he knew it was not his own. He glanced at Remus and smiled slightly, giving his hand a quick squeeze as they were pulled apart to their own cells.

They could both sense the eyes of the other Order members upon them, none of whom were strangers to their method of magical communication, Severus especially. The eyes of the Order widened slightly as they were put back into their cells and a thousand questions formed on their lips but neither Harry nor Remus were in a state to answer; both of them slipped easily into a state of hazy unconsciousness the moment the Dementors departed. Their questions would have to wait.


Five chapters left... I told you it was going to be short but there's a lot to come, I promise you that!
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