A chill ran over his aching body, causing him to shiver uncontrollably. The lack of food and sleep was weighing heavily on him and he could no longer control the constant tremble in his body. The rain was pounding steadily in rhythm with his feet as he ran through the overgrowth in an unknown forest. He knew he was somewhere in England, judging by the small towns he had come across, but he was unable to ask anyone exactly where he was for fear of being found. Instead, he nicked food out of rubbish bins behind cafés and restaurants in the dead of night, traveling by the darkness of shadows.
He stopped in front of a gathering of large boulders. Three were arranged as a sort of shelter and he quickly squeezed into the space, shuddering against the freezing rocks. Again, he wished for his wand.
He had been ambushed in his home nearly three months prior and held captive in the dungeons of Lucius Malfoy’s home. Draco and Severus Snape had been regular visitors of his, tormenting him and mocking him, then leaving him with a Dementor to be ransacked by nightmares. He was fed just enough to keep him alive and they gave him a glass of water a day, but nowhere to relieve himself of the burden on his bladder. It had been utterly humiliating to have to find a place in his cell where he could do so, praying they would not find him at it. He had been completely mortified and defeated.
Lucius often reported to him, telling him things Ginny had been doing. He was spying on her, watching her and torturing Harry with the thoughts of him being near her. He had often been told that she cried herself to sleep, which made his entire body heat with suppressed rage. Their bedroom was on the first floor!
It had been a while since they reminded him that his child, he didn’t know if it had been a boy or a girl, had been killed in the crossfire that day. He couldn’t help but cry when they first told him. That baby held all his hopes and dreams with Ginny and they had slaughtered him like an animal. It killed him to hear the details. He had retched and lost his daily meal that afternoon. After a few days of them pounding it in, he was so numb to it all that he couldn’t even muster the energy for his heart to speed up or his body to jerk in anger. He hated them. He wanted to kill them.
They had long since broken his wand. They mocked him by snapping it easily right in front of him, then throwing it to the ground and burning it. It had been the wand that aided him in defeating their Lord and they made sure that was the first to go while he was shackled to the dripping wall.
He fell asleep sitting upright between the rocks, his head pounding with the sound of the steady rain. His nightmares plagued him that night and when he jerked awake, his head came in contact with the rock above him.
He slid out from between them and stretched the taut, aching muscles in his legs. He rubbed the small lump forming atop his head and continued to walk in the direction he had been going, his heart heavy with the nightmares of his lost child.
Draco Malfoy was furious. He sliced through a thick bunching of weeds with a quick Cutting Charm, cursing his father, his teacher and mentor, and Peter Pettigrew. The latter, being the reason for his easy dismissal and enslaved search. He aimed his wand into another dense overgrowth, clearing his path once again.
I’m going to kill him when I find him. No more toying with him. I’m sick of it, he promised himself with a disgusted sneer. It seemed like every time they had him in their grips, he would slip away. Not this time. Even though Pettigrew screwed this up, Draco was going to finish it once and for all. Harry Potter was a dead man; he would make sure of that.
He paused beneath a robust tree, needing time to rest and eat a bite for lunch; the tree’s branches made for some shelter from the rain. He was starving. This search for Potter was going on too long. It wouldn’t hurt if his damn father and his friends would help. Maybe then they’d get somewhere, but no, this was his “initiation” and they were watching Potter’s house and his slag of a blood traitor wife.
He spat onto the ground before taking a bite out of his plain sandwich. He couldn’t even get a house-elf to accompany him with warm food and firewhiskey. He hated his father at the moment. He was nothing but a backstabber.
Pettigrew should be the one searching. It was Peter Pettigrew who had left the latch undone on Potter’s cell. Draco knew it was a repayment for the life debt he owed the stupid half-blood. His father had no clue, but the sniveling little rat had lost his tongue and spilled his guts to Draco, confessing he despised the fact he owed a life debt. That had to be how he escaped.
He finished up his sandwich, throwing his napkin on the ground, and then stood up to continue his journey. He was going to kill Potter, then Pettigrew. Neither deserved to live.
Footsteps rushing through the heavy debris of dead leaves on the ground made him stop and listen carefully. They were faint, but definitely human. There were only two distinct footfalls. He smirked to himself. Stupid Potter can’t even cast a Silencing Charm on himself. This is great. He stealthily moved along silently, his feet and heavy breaths not making a sound. He passed by a gathering of stones, noting the indentations of human feet in the muddy dirt. The same footprints he had been following since he left the small comforts of Lestrange Manor where they had been forced to stay after his own mansion had been burned to the ground. Potter was his.
He followed carefully for a mile or so, keeping the muffled footsteps close enough to hear clearly, but still keep him out of view. He knew Potter would be on high alert to anything unusual.
The footsteps stopped.
He continued, his wand drawn, in the direction of the last known sound. There’s no way Potter would get away this time. He’d make sure of it. He wasn’t as useless as his father seemed to think. He’d prove them all wrong and bring home the trophy of Potter’s head.
The prints ended underneath a tree and he looked around confused. He couldn’t have Apparated; he didn’t have his wand. Stepping back a few feet, he looked around the scene, unable to distinguish where his prey had gone. By chance, he looked up, right as a figure was falling swiftly toward him. He felt his neck crack and everything went black.
Harry knew something was following him. He felt it like an intuitive sensation running through his head. He ran quickly, dodging through trees and overgrowths, switching directions and going another way before turning again. He was trying to lose whatever it was on his trail. He could feel the sense of foreboding as his predator closed in on him. He wasn’t sure if it was man or animal, but the lack of sounds coming from behind him made him think a predatory animal or a wizard.
His breathing was coming in short gasps as his lungs burned from exertion. His legs throbbed from running after being immobile for months on end. He was certain he had a concussion: his head was throbbing painfully, making him nauseous. He wanted to vomit, but knew there was nothing in his stomach to lose.
Taking a chance, he pulled himself up onto a tree branch, climbing higher and higher to catch an escape. His burning shoulder was protesting excruciatingly the entire way. When he was satisfied it would take a moment for him to be spotted, he stopped and crouched low against the branch and trunk, hidden behind a bushel of thick leaves.
His heart was pounding furiously in his chest and he was afraid it was going to give away his position. He had a clear view of the ground below.
A platinum blonde head came into view. The man’s arm pointed at a mass of weeds, hacking them to a stub, but there was no accompanying sound. He stopped just under the tree, looking first at the footprints Harry hadn’t known he had been leaving and then around, his eyes narrowed. He watched as he took a few steps back then began looking up and around again.
Harry had no time to think about what he was doing. He dove off his branch at the man, falling on top of him. He heard the break of his pursuer’s neck and his breathing hitched. Had he killed him? He pushed himself off the man, his arms and legs protesting violently.
Draco Malfoy lay in a heap at his feet, unmoving, not breathing. He pressed his trembling fingers to the side of his neck, the bones pushing underneath the skin at the base. There was no pulse. Oh God, he thought helplessly, backing away from the body. He didn’t mean that he really wanted to kill them! He backed up more, his back running into a trunk before he turned and began running again.
His mind was racing. He had just killed Draco Malfoy! Yes, but he was going to kill you, his mind’s eye reasoned. He had a wand, why did you leave it?
He stopped running. Draco had a wand. Maybe that wand could help get him home. He turned again and headed back to the body.
Draco was still laying there, his head rolled to the side and the bone poking under the skin. His skin was paler than usual and it seemed almost transparent. His lips were dull blue and his lifeless eyes were staring unseeing off to the side.
Harry looked around for the wand, but it wasn’t in plain sight. He kicked the leaves around Draco’s body. The wood of course would blend in well with the natural debris flooding the forest floor.
His foot came in contact with something and he bent over to inspect. His hand picked up a dirty, thick wooden wand. A crack caused the top half to hang precariously from the bottom, attached by a splinter. He felt the tears come to his eyes. Draco was taunting him even in death. He threw it down, his last hope at getting home anytime soon.
He hung his head in defeat and walked away, disappearing into the denseness of the forest.