It was dark, freezing, and there was barely enough room for a child, let alone a man. But he pushed on through the dark, closer and closer, until he reached the end of the old tunnel; the way out. He pushed the bars open, let them swing down, and crawled out, until he was on his knees on the ground. The wind was light and the sun was warm; he suddenly felt better, like he could finally breathe. He thought of his friend, who had given him the 'only way in'.
“You are so going to pay for that.”
He got up slowly, unsteady due to cramp, and turned right, further into the alley.
A flash. Sirens. Aurors. They're coming.
He ignored the fact that his legs felt like they would give way and fled, further and further away from the scene, until he could no longer hear them, and slowed. He turned the corner, his head turned to make sure he wasn’t followed, and breathed a sigh of relief. They couldn’t get him.
He froze. He knew the voice of the one in front of him. Potter. More Aurors circled the man who'd found him, trapping him. “It was only a matter of time, AJ.”
Then just as quickly it all changed and suddenly he was running. His grey prison suit was a size too big, causing him to trip over his feet one too many times. But his arms were out, the sleeves tied around the waist of his vest, which was a small consolation, thinking he didn’t have to add it to his list of worries. He made it to the top, above the prison cells, and felt free for the first time in years; the wind ran through his hair and he welcomed the warm breeze. Just like that day, he could breathe again.
He dodged the passing spell, the red jet of light fading into nothing in the air, and continued to move.
“There’s nowhere to go, Wolfe!”
He wanted to laugh at the guard’s words; there was always somewhere to go, always a way out. But he was all but trapped on the roof of a prison, which was surrounded by water; that was his only way. He sped up, pushing himself over the edge, and jumped.
The icy water stabbed him like knives.
AJ gasped for breath, feeling the water enter his throat and drown him. Or he thought he was, until he opened his eyes and found himself still locked inside the cold, dark, square cell that had been his home for the past three years. His back was stiff and sore and, most importantly, cold. AJ was lying on the floor, the old, moth ridden blanket tangled around his legs. He sat up slowly, rubbing the back of his head; he must have hit it hard when he fell off his bed. He tried to make sense of what he saw. The first had been a dream, he knew, of the day he got arrested. He had that dream every so often, reminding him of his stupidity; he lost everything because of that.
AJ forced myself not to think of it, and focused on the other. The second, however, had not been a dream, but a vision. His ability allowed him to see himself escaping Azkaban. It was so real, so vivid, and he knew exactly what that meant; it was happening and soon. He was getting out. He was finally getting out. He had no idea how or why, but he was.
Ha! I told Louis everything would be alright. I told him I’d figure it out.
AJ untangled the blanket and dumped it in a ball on the bed, then got up and walked to the metal bars of his cell. He stretched his arms above his head, kept them raised on the bars right above him, and looked out. There were faint murmurs from the cells around him, from the guards down the end of the corridor; it was early morning, he guessed. Prisoners would start waking up, guards would be changing shifts, breakfast would be served soon. AJ scanned the empty corridor. He'd come to know Azkaban over his time here, memorized everything from the moment they'd dragged him through; he could walk out the door blindfolded. As much as he'd love to, the action would humiliate them if it worked, that would more than likely get him caught and thrown back in. They'd probably extend his sentence and he'd never get back home to his family. Besides, he wasn't blindfolded in his vision. And his prison suit was open, the sleeves tied around his waist, just like they were now.
That vision was so strong, he knew that day was close; today or tomorrow. Soon enough for him to need to remember the way to the roof and not listen to his head, wanting him to stop and think of his sentence. He had a year left, less if he continued his good behavior. That would all be over if he were to escape and then get caught again. They'd bring him back, tear him away from his family again, and AJ didn't want to come back.
But that vision meant something. It was just a small piece of a bigger puzzle, he was sure. AJ would See more, but in order to do that he had to follow this vision now. Which meant ignoring his head, getting out now, and hope she would forgive him for it.
Forgiveness wasn't exactly her forte, though. Not when it came to him. She hadn't said a word to him since he'd been arrested, hadn't visited once, and the letters he got she only wrote for their son, if her cousin wasn't there to. Their son thought he was away, that he had to leave for a while; he had no idea that place was jail.
He was only five years old; he'd been two when AJ had been arrested. Everyday he was here he was thankful she had never told Cameron where he really was. He was also thankful that she actually told their son about him at all, however little. Cameron knew about him, asked about his daddy, had letters written for him. That was enough until he saw his kid again. Until then it was Louis who came with news and the letters. Louis' partner and AJ's friend, Alejandro, didn't come with him; he was suspected of criminal activity, they both were, but, unlike AJ, never charged. Law enforcement didn't like him, so he stayed away. Louis, however, was a Hit Wizard; they couldn't stop him. They suspected him because of his relationships with Ally and with AJ, but they couldn't touch him. Louis liked to rub that in their faces, with smart remarks and waving the best cases in front of them. He could be childish sometimes, but he was loyal.
AJ turned his head to the right, hearing voices; guards were moving. Something was happening. He stepped back, away from the bars, and waited. He'd go to his friends when he was out, wait for whatever vision he was sure would come next and go from there. Aurors, most likely Louis' uncle, Harry, would go there looking for him, but they could handle that, if AJ timed it perfectly.
Just like you timed the last one perfectly?
Shaking his head, he thought instead about visiting his family, but he was suddenly scared she'd call Harry the moment she saw him and send him back. Maybe he could get her to listen to him first. She knew about his ability; she might understand.
He scoffed, she stopped listening to him when he was arrested, even when he'd tried to tell her why he'd done it. No, Lucy Weasley would not believe him if he told her how he felt about this. But maybe if he did something in return...
"I'll come back," he whispered to himself. "I'll do whatever I have to and come back."
He knew his sentence would be extended, he'd have to wait longer to see Cameron again, but if he got Lucy to listen and not call the Aurors if she saw him would it be worth it?
AJ almost decided against it; he would rather run, go underground, than promise Lucy he'd come back to Azkaban. But he wouldn't see Cameron then either and he desperately wanted to. In order to see Cameron, he had to see Lucy. "I'll come back," he promised the walls of his cell.
"Cell check," a guard called out.
AJ stood stunned for a moment, their last cell check hadn't been all that long ago and shouldn't be happening now, but then he grinned and waited. They were probably trying to surprise them, hope to find something. Once a month the guards would bring the prisoners clean blankets and prison wear, a law they'd past after the second war, along with removing the Dementors. They called it 'cell check' because they were nosy bastards and liked to 'check for contraband' that visitors might have tried smuggling in. There never was anything because they checked it all before they allowed prisoners to take it. Except for special circumstances, such as having a Hit Wizard for a best friend and having things brought personally. Just because they didn't trust Louis, didn't mean they were allowed to go through everything he brought with a fine tooth comb, despite the Ministry's best efforts to do so. He was an employee, one of the best in his field, and they really couldn't touch him. His boss wouldn't allow it, though they never found out why he had such faith in the blond or why he never cared for AJ's cases. Louis never brought anything they could use against either of them, but they liked to check anyway.
Cell check was perfect; he'd be out of his cell while they went through everyone's stuff. He'd cause a distraction, he'd run and would be further enough away that he'd get to the roof before they could get to him, just like in his vision. If they were stupid enough to only have two guards at a time and to work from the bottom then really they deserved it.
The door to AJ's cell opened, the hinges squeaking and groaning noisily along with everyone else's, and he stepped out with the other prisoners. He moved to his left as was the rule and waited a few moments. When the two guards got to the third cell, AJ faced the prisoner in across from him, Seth Briggs. He was a petty criminal, small time robberies and schemes mostly, nothing compared to others in the dark prison. Even compared to AJ's reputation, he was nothing. Briggs' sentence was only eighteen months for violating his parole and getting caught robbing a guy's house while he slept. This was his second time in prison during AJ's sentence. But he had a temper, caused most of the fights that kept him in his cell more than half of the time and without benefits. No doubt it would be extended soon enough; AJ couldn't see him winning his next parole hearing after he beat the officer who's tried to bring him in. He was a good enough distraction.
"Glad to be back, Seth," AJ said quietly, leaning back against the wall.
"Fuckin' missed it here," he snarled.
AJ rolled his eyes. "Touchy, are we? Because you only got eighteen months for something my grandma could have gotten away with? She'd probably be faster than you, too."
That did it. Briggs was in his face, his breath hot and his hand raised in a fist. But AJ was quick, ready for the attack, and ducked. His own fist collided with the man's stomach and winded him. That made it worse. Briggs turned to grab him, but other prisoners joined their fight and AJ was already gone.
He pushed past the other prisoners, working on getting to the roof; he didn't bother hiding the fact that he was escaping. He found the stairs at the end of the corridor and raced up them, ignoring prisoners' cries to get out. He was almost to the top when he heard footsteps and yelling. They'd finally norticed one was missing. Guards called for backup, following him. "Wolfe, Stop!"
It played out exactly like in his vision; he welcomed the breeze, they called for him to stop, he jumped.
And the icy water stabbed him like knives.
Thankful he was a strong enough swimmer, AJ eventually pulled himself up from the under the North Sea, coughing up water as he did so. He swam to the nearest bit of dry land he could find and climbed out. He shivered violently and turned to lie on his back, letting the morning sun warm his freezing, exhausted body and his heartbeat return to normal. Once he was calm, AJ stood up and searched for any sign of life he could find while figuring out what to do next.
The Ministry has his wand and while he was fairly skilled in wandless magic, it was rather limited, basic at best. Wandless magic was Alejandro's forte. He also couldn't apparate without his wand, which meant using public transport to get back to London, making his journey back a little harder since he had no money. That left two options; find alternative means such as a floo network, or find money any way he could and hope he wasn't rusty when it came to blending in, so he could use public transport without been seen. Both when it came to paying and to not being noticed and reported on the way. The Ministry would assume he'd survived the jump, not taking any chances; people may already be out looking for him. He wondered if they'd risk giving the hit to Louis. Or Albus, the bounty hunter. Both were the best for the job, neither would send him back. There were members of Weasley family he could trust.
I wonder how the Weasleys would take knowing their family was so far from perfect.
With such good friends in high places, he mused, and with only one of them under suspicion, only Harry could be reliable in finding him in the Ministry's eyes. Maybe Louis' boss, Theodore Nott, if he cared for the case this time.
Voices made AJ move faster. He glanced at his wet prison wear, then continued to look for life. He had to get out of the clothes. It only took him a few minutes to find the source of the voices; a couple of older men, probably in their forties, arguing over what to have for breakfast. Fishermen he guessed, judging from the smell and the boat. Hiding behind the end of the boat, crouching low, AJ waited for them to leave and crept onto the deck. It was small, just a cabin with a steering wheel and the deck, but inside had what he was looking for; fresh clothes and boots. They hadn't gone out yet.
"Thank God," he muttered, rushing back out and away. He got changed quickly, leaving his prison jumpsuit and flat shoes in a pile on the ground. They were a little big, but would do until he got to his friends. AJ carried on moving; he had to find money or a house occupied by wizards and get to London soon. The quicker he was at Louis' the better, then he could figure out what to do next.
He seemed to walk forever before he found more signs of life, then the signs of life became a town. AJ kept his head down, but no one seemed to recognize him. Muggles, great.
He continued a few minutes more, then bumped into the next man he saw. "I'm so sorry," he said hurriedly, quickly digging into the man's pocket and hiding the wallet behind his back. The man nodded and continued walking, while AJ checked the wallet; there wasn't much, but the money was enough for a train ticket, at least. He pulled it all out and stuffed it into his pocket. He had no need for the cards or ID. "Sir, I think you dropped this."
The man stopped and turned, confused when AJ held out the wallet, and checked his pockets. Realization dawned on him that his wallet was missing and he took it from him. "Thanks, mate," he murmured appreciatively, put it back in his pocket and walked away. AJ rolled his eyes at the man's faith in him being a good samaritan. "I would have checked the wallet," he muttered to himself.
He asked where the nearest train station was and thanked the woman gratefully.
Next stop: London and Louis. Then Cameron.
A/N: Thank Polyjuice_ and Wistful for helping me with my title and summary. I came up with the title, but I used the summary. :)
I hope you enjoy my new mystery. Lots of secrets and lies hidden away. ;)