They talked about their summer adventures for the rest of the
trip. As Harry got off the train he was amused to see Hagrid
gathering up the first year students, and how many of them gawked
at him in awe. They made their way to the horseless carriages and
made the trip to the school. When they got at their tables Harry
was not surprised to see Mr. and Mrs. Mrs. Potter sitting at the
professor's table. But he was appalled to see Professor Snape
there in his usual place. When everybody was in and they were
waiting for the sorting ceremony Professor McGonagell tapped her
glass and called for order.
"I can see some disturbed looks on your faces," she began, "so to quiet everybody down I would like to introduce Samuel Snape who is your new potions teacher and if you think there is a resemblance to your old one, that's because he is his twin brother! I would also like to introduce Professor Potter and his wife. Professor Potter will be your new defense against the dark arts teacher, and his wife will be your new teacher of divination. Your former teachers will be unavailable this year so I hope you will greet these teachers warmly. Now, let us have the sorting ceremony, greet our new arrivals, and enjoy our meal!"
They had completed the sorting ceremony and Harry had been eating for a few minutes when the doors opened and a man entered wearing the uniform of an Azkaban guard. The prefect at one of the tables rose and went over to him. He was handed a note, which he quickly hurried to the teacher's table with, and handed to the headmistress. She opened it, folded it back up, and put it on the table, staring down at it. Then she tapped her glass.
"Harry Potter," she remarked, "there is a gentleman at the back door that would like to speak to you. You are at liberty to take whatever time necessary to fulfill his request if you wish, but you are not obligated to do so."
Harry rose, bowed, and answered, "Thank you!" and hurried to the door with everyone watching him curiously. The man opened the door, stepped outside, and motioned Harry to follow. After he had shut the door he spoke.
"I'm Herbert Dunwell, Harry, chief of guards at Azkaban. I've been sent because a prisoner has made a special request to see you. If you wish to fill that request you must come quickly because there is not much time. You are at liberty to refuse. But if you have a kind heart I would not. The prisoner is Lucius Malfoy."
"He wants to see me?" Harry asked.
"Yes," the guard answered, "and if you wish to do so we must hurry!"
"I'll go get my cloak and broom," Harry answered.
"No need," the guard answered, "they're at the gate. Come!"
They hurried to the gate. Harry donned his cloak and picked up his broom, and noticed the guard didn't have one. "How are you going to.....?" Harry didn't finish the sentence. A dementor descended from the sky, took ahold of the guard's shoulders, and lifted him into the air! Harry quickly took up pursuit. In a short time they circled the prison and landed. Harry was quickly led through dismal corridors. A cell door was already open. There seemed to be more light in it. A dementor stood outside of it. Harry was ushered in and sat in a chair. The withered form on the bed whose face was covered with sores turned towards him.
"Is that you, Harry?" he asked. "The eyes are almost gone. I can barely see anything."
"Yes," Harry answered, "Mr. Malfoy, what happened to you?"
"I was using dark magic, Harry, stealing life energy from muggles to keep myself alive. I have not been allowed to do that here, and death is waiting outside the door for me. And I do not think death is going to be pleasant for me, Harry. I know we have not been friends, we have been enemies. But I would have you do something for me, if you would be so kind!"
"What?" Harry asked.
"Take care of Draco, Harry. The life I planned for him will never be. If he follows the path I intended he will find nothing but despair. I ask you to give him this message, the last one from me. The star that I thought was rising, that would be our glory is descending, and a new star is rising. I have asked that star to guide you. Follow its wisdom and you will do well. At times I have said bitter things to you, when you were right and I was wrong. I ask you to forgive those things, because when all else is said and done you have been a good son, and no father could ask for more. Can you give that message, Harry?"
"Yes," Harry answered, "yes sir! I'll give that message. And I'll do my best to look out for him."
'Then all will be well," The old sorcerer muttered, "all will be well!"
He closed his eyes and his chest stopped its labored rising and falling. The dementor came in, touched the old sorcerer's forehead, then lifted the blanket and covered his head. Harry felt compassion. The dementor looked at him, bowed, and retreated.
The head guard returned. "How can you deal with this," Harry asked, "how can you deal with things like this day in and day out?"
"Sometimes it isn't easy," the guard answered, "but you know that somebody has to do it. My father did it and his father before him, and my sons will work here. Come on! We'd better get you back. I'm sure everybody's worried, and somebody's waiting, waiting for the words he doesn't want to hear."
"Yes," Harry agreed, "yes!"
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