‘This changes nothing,’ Remus announced in a determined voice.
‘Remy is right,’ James said with a hand each on the shoulder of Remus and Andy. ‘We stick to the plan. Sirius, Remy and I will keep any dementors back if we come across them and you 2 focus on getting Harry,’ looking at Andy and Ron.
The young auror and DA member nodded back at this and they all prepared themselves for what they would find around the next corner.
The passage flattened and opened out into a cavern similar to the one they had already passed containing the stairs. This one, however, was evidently magical in construction as it was not only much larger, about the size of Hogwart’s Great Hall, but had an impossibly high ceiling considering the manor that rested above the room. It soon became apparent as to the design of the room as the group looked up and saw the floating black cloaks of 5 dementors circling the vast ceiling. The rest of the room was empty save for a battered old table that stood near them at the entrance to the room and held an assortment of instruments of torture from whips, hammers, pokers and other brutal tools whose use was a mystery to even the experienced aurors among them, but none of them had any really desire to know their purpose.
In the centre of the room was a platform about 4 feet above the ground and atop this was a cage. It was not a prison or a dungeon but a cage. That was the only way of describing it. It was a 3 feet cube of rusting iron bars. And there curled into a ball in one corner of the monstrosity was the unmistakable raven haired figure of Harry.
‘Andy, Ron go!’ James cried stepping into the room and casting a patronus between his trapped son and the merciless skeletal grasping hands of the dementors. Sirius and Remus followed suit as Ron and Andy tore across the room to Harry. Andy flung a curse at the small door of the cage and it flung of its hinges clattering noisily to the floor.
The loud noise appeared to have gained the attention, if all be it the quite delirious attention, of Harry. Harry, thinking he was being fetched for more punishment, curled impossible smaller into the corner he hid himself into.
Andy, seeing his baby brother for the first time in too many months, reached for Harry’s shoulder and pulled him away from the corner and out of the cage where Harry found his feet and clutched, knuckles white, onto the bars of his cage for support as he looked up into the face of his torturer.
‘Andy?’ Harry croaked in response to the figure standing before him, his voice hoarse from dehydration and screaming.
‘Harry, it’s me. We all came for you, me, dad, Ron, Sirius and Remy,’ replied Andy taking in the confused and empty look in Harry’s eyes.
Harry then looked up to see the gangly figure of Ron stood to the left of Andy and over his shoulders 3 figures casting shimmering silver patronuses towards the ceiling that he couldn’t fail but recognise as his father, godfather and professor. At this realisation his mind went foggy and he felt his legs begin to give way beneath him despite his iron grip on the bars of his cage.
Andy, seeing the look of relief pass over Harry’s dirty and bloodied face, reached across to grab his brother under the arms as his legs gave out and he started to fall. ‘Ron give me a hand, we’ve got to get him out of here.’
Ron was already lunging forward and he grabbed Harry’s free arm at the shoulder, keeping him standing. He began to feel a warm wetness spread across his chest where Harry’s arm hung, followed quickly by a wave of ice cold realisation as to what the substance was. To confirm what he already knew to be true, Ron looked down at his own reddening chest to see Harry’s left wrist engulfed in an iron handcuff that was chained to the cage. The tightness and sharpness of the bracelet had dug into Harry’s wrist and become seemingly integral to the structure of it. Dried blood crusted the edge of the wound but this was beginning to darken under a new coat of blood which they had freed when moving Harry. Ron turned to Andy with a horrified look on his face to find Andy staring back with a mirror image of emotions. He had discovered the same thing on Harry’s right wrist.
The two men shared a look of helplessness at this new development and turned together and called out.
James whipped around at the cry of absolute fear that he never thought he would hear from his son’s best friend, let alone his own eldest son.
‘Sirius, you hold off these guys,’ gesturing wildly in the direction of the ceiling and the encircling dementors. ‘Remy come with me.’
Remus and James sprinted into the centre of the room to be met by a sight that no father should ever have to witness. By now Harry’s legs had entirely given out and as a result he was now lying partially on the floor and partially on Ron, who was sat supporting Harry from behind with a look of sheer horror plastered across his face. Next to him knelt Andy calling out Harry’s name while gently shaking his shoulders, his voice betraying the panic he was managing to keep from his face. Between the two of them lay Harry. His face was covered in dirt so thick that it would have been impossible to make out Harry’s unique scar if it hadn’t been swollen red with a line of blood leaking from the end. His glasses and clothes were scratched, ripped and hung twisted on his impossibly thin frame. How had his little boy ended up in this situation and what had they done to him?
He was pulled out of his reverie by Andy’s panicked voice.
‘We can’t get him out Dad. These handcuffs won’t open to any magic we can think of.’ After discovering the handcuffs, Andy had proceeded to wrack his brains for every unlocking charm his auror training had taught him, for none of them to work.
James carefully lifted Harry’s left wrist to examine the torturous bracelet. He was dismayed to discover how light Harry’s arm felt and how his hand hung limply, causing the rusted metal to cut into his flesh further. James was unsure whether he was more worried about the deep wound or the fact that Harry barely flinched at the deepening of the cut. He turned it over in his hands and saw a small key hole lighting a spark of an idea in his mind.
‘Remy, you gotta pick the lock.’
Remus glanced at James before reaching into the inside pocket of his robes and pulling out his tools that he always carried on his person.
‘Where on earth did you learn to do that?’ Andy asked as Remus began to fiddle in the lock that James was holding.
‘Being a werewolf means you sometimes find yourself in unexpected situations nak... without clothes, like people’s back gardens,’ he replied with a slight reddish hint of a blush creeping onto his face.
‘Yeah, you have no idea how difficult it is getting back into Hogwarts when completely naked,’ added James, increasing the blush falling across Remus’ pale and scarred face.
‘Ok, I got it,’ said Remus, followed by a soft click as the lock opened. To the horror of the 4 men though, the handcuff stayed attached to Harry’s wrist, embedded into his flesh.
James’ stomach turned but he forced himself back into the situation when Harry murmured a single word.
James eyes filled with tears. ‘I’m here Harry, don’t worry. We’re going to get you out.’
He turned to Remus and, gesturing to Harry’s other wrist, said, ‘Get the other one.’
James turned his eyes back to his youngest son. ‘Ok Harry, I’m really sorry but this is going to hurt. But once it’s over we can go and it will all be over.’
Harry gave a shaking nod of acknowledgement and James turned to Ron and Andy.
‘Ron, hold his shoulders and Andy try to keep him awake.’ Both men mirrored Harry’s shaky nod. By now Remus had unlocked Harry’s other wrist and was holding it in a similar fashion to James.
‘James, we’ll do both at the same time. We don’t want to put him through this twice,’ Remus said, any hints of pink disappearing from his face as he cottoned on to James’ plan.
James nodded in agreement and the two men looked at each other.
‘Right, on three then,’ James said taking a deep breath. ‘One, two, three!’
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