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Ferret in the Fire by dennisnmike
Chapter 1 : Caught
 
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A/N: Yeah. Yet another fic by Mike. Yuuup. This one is, again, totally different than all the others. Well. Read, review, this is the first chapter so that’s all I have to say so far.

Happy readings!

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Caught

Draco cried out in his sleep often these days. He was being hunted. His godfather was trying his best to protect him, but that was all there was to it. Aurors were a strange group of people, highly intelligent, well trained, they could not escape for long. If Draco had known his nightmare of being caught would become a reality that day he may not have gotten up.

“Shut up, boy. I’ve had enough of your tears and noises, I’m trying to get rest so I can bloody think!” Draco ceased in his sobs, holding his breath and waiting for the fear to subside. It never fully did, with every passing day it became more suffocating.

“Profe--” Snape glared his way. “Severus, what if they find us?” He questioned, not caring he sounded pathetic and sniveling. He wanted to know if there was a plan, something to keep total disaster at bay should they be found out. Or rather, when they were found out. Draco was not stupid, he knew it to be only a matter of time.

Perhaps . . . No, there was no way around it. If he had not done what the Dark Lord asked, he would have been killed, along with his parents. Lucius had the same sort of fear, but his came with a deep loathing and a want for power. Yes, Draco had these things also, he was a Slytherin, but they would not have been enough to make him attempt the impossible, stupid task of trying to kill his Head Master, the famous wizard featured on Chocolate Frog Cards. Merlin, he missed his mum, his warm bed, his immaculate clothes. If Severus Snape would have done a better job of protecting him and not killed Professor Dumbledore, they may have gotten off . . .

“Well, no doubt you’re expecting they’d believe we were under the Imperius, as there were Death Eaters all about, but they wouldn’t. I was not trusted for years because there were those that believed I was still spying for the Dark Lord. No, they will throw me in Azkaban.” He turned slightly, looking at Draco as if assessing him. “But you really did nothing wrong. Aside from poisoning a fellow student and giving another a cursed amulet . . . Oh, well you did use an Unforgivable on Rosemerta, but they’d probably forgive you, as it was to protect your family. You could get away, Draco.”

He stared. He disliked Snape because when he still thought his plan was going good he suspected Snape of trying to steal his glory, and then it turned bad and he finished it off against Draco’s will. But he did not want him to go to Azkaban. As much as he loathed the thought, Severus was really all he had at the moment.

He was making sure Draco got food to eat on a semi-regular basis, he kept him from public places, and four times had shown him out of rather difficult situations. Draco did not know or care which side Snape was loyal to, only that he was the only protection the boy had from the harsh, cruel truths that faced someone that had done as he had, whatever their age. In spite of all that he didn’t like about his former professor, he respected him in the cool way Malfoys showed any emotion, feeling, or belief (unless it was hatred, of course. That could be subtle or openly expressed).

“Go back to sleep, Draco. We need it, there will be no rest today.” Draco sighed bitterly, frowning as his shoulder touched the hard Inn bed. Snape said they would get no rest that day as if it were something new, a warning he needed. When was the last time he had lazed in the sun? When was the last time he had taken a relaxing bath? When was the last time he had breathed without his chest feeling constricted, as if something wrapped tightly about his middle and attempted to close out what little comfort he may have sought from simply taking in oxygen? It seemed like years, but truthfully it was only the beginning of summer break.

Never before had he felt so unhappy that school was something he would never see again. At least he seriously doubted it, considering most of the student body would probably not feel grateful he had attempted to end their Headmaster’s life and then stayed hidden out with the one who had done so. Not going to school wasn’t so bad, except that it forced him to find a career he may not especially like as many would not accept him with only six years of grades under him and the words ‘attempted murder’ on his resume. Consider it, he hadn’t been able to finish school, he hadn’t even been able to complete the simple task of properly killing someone, who would want to hire him?

“Get up, boy!” Snape demanded, fingers like claws in Draco’s shoulder as he shook him ruthlessly.

Draco sat up, ready to leave though his head was still seemed heavy and fogged, having gotten very little sleep lately, and his stomach seemed to be eating at itself. “Professor, why are--?” He began, only having the nerve to question their move because he was feeling so dull and downright physically sick.

Snape turned from his packing of a blanket into his bag to glare at Draco, his obsidian eyes flashing maliciously as though only just remembering something very distasteful was near. “They’re coming, you idiot, bloody get your arse out of that bed and out or we’ll be caught.” The word stung Draco as the insults never could. Caught. Not caught, caught was for the animal, for the beast. He was nothing to be caught. He was a pureblood. He couldn’t really be caught.

It surprised him on some level. Left him more clumsy and uncoordinated as he worked his limbs numbly, they left the Inn and headed on. After all of this time of running, of being hunted and scared, did he really not realize what was happening? He’d had nightmares every time he caught a bit of sleep, no matter how exhausted he was, about fleeing and ending somewhere, somewhere dark, being backed into a corner and nabbed. Perhaps it had never really sunk in that this was truly happening, he felt more as if it were all just a nightmare, every second something fabricated from insubstantial imagination, something that couldn’t really hurt him.

Caught. Draco did not want to be caught. He would run instead. No, he would not be caught.

But now the fear that came usually only after crying in his sleep was back, more hideously stunning and willing to freeze his nerves than any other time as if it had somehow grown. How had he fled from them, had four close calls, and never felt it could happen?

There was only one answer. He knew it, but did not feel ready to admit it to himself, because that would really scare him. That would more than scare him, he thought somewhere deep inside of himself it may hurt him, hinder him, keep him from moving or simply cause him to drop into a faint. His godfather was currently trying his best to protect him but Draco did not think he’d keep up the pretense of caring for another being to the point of helping him should he fall and be taken. No, Snape would run all the faster, he wasn’t a stupid Gryffindor with their bravery or a twity Hufflepuff with their loyalty, he’d save himself the Slytherin way, perhaps even going as far as to shove Draco into harm’s way to save his skin.

Sometimes Draco truly thought being the bad boy was harder than the tough work and expectance of being a good soldier.

Really, almost anything would be easier than running along behind your loathed godfather and attempting to ward of the feeling of impending doom. Merlin, he wasn’t a sissy, he needed to keep moving. Move faster. He tried as best as possible.

He felt eyes on the back of his neck. At that moment the fear gripped him, tugging more unpleasantly at around his navel than Apparation and digging deeper into his flesh. Icy claws moved up his spine, pulling an unwilling shutter from him and trying to squeeze the small amount of air in his already-burning lungs forth. Draco’s legs felt leaden as he pulled them from the ground that was a slick mud because of the nearby river and-- Oh Merlin, Draco thought, realizing where they were headed. Snape actually believed Draco could swim over that damned river in his condition? Was the grease in his hair killing off his brain cells?

He didn’t have much more time to think on it as he fell to the ground, the movement seeming graceful in an odd way because of the momentum that continued urging him forward even as he sprawled onto the forest floor. His hands took the brunt of it, nicely sliced by bracken that made its home very near where he had fallen. He stood as quickly as was possible and continued on.

Apparently Snape did think Draco could swim the river . . . Or he just didn’t care either way. They were now at the bank and Snape plunged into the frigid water, his signature billowing black cloak hampering movement and snagging on the many large, jagged rocks that made this very river so dangerous and the water rolling over it white and frothed.

Draco hesitated. He didn’t want to be caught, but he didn’t want to drown like a sewer rat, either. Leave that to Snape, he looked the part much better. CRACK! He should have jumped. He should jump now. Draco knew these things but there was some strange instinct, or maybe it was merely that his brain paused in its work, that forced him to turn and look, see what made the noise. Curiosity killed the cat. He quoted dolefully and duly.

“Alright?” A stage-whispered asked. Draco’s storm-grey eyes searched the trees behind him for the sound, for the people that were there. Nothing. Then he saw a flash of brilliant bubble-gum pink. It was now or never on the going ahead.

He was so tired. He just wanted to give in, stop running, turn himself in. But he didn’t want to be caught. Draco turned and leapt into the water noisily. His own robes seemed to be pulling him rudely to the bottom of the deeper riverbed as if it were a grand idea. He floated and stroked to little avail as he made his way over the rocks, more down the river than across it. His arms reached out from rock to rock, pulling himself along and fighting against the raging, forceful current. The next rock was too far, he’d have to allow for a bit of swimming . . .

He let go and his side slammed into a large bolder that was fairly well hidden in the water around him with the clouds of dirt he had been making. Now he could no longer feel the river under him. To be fair, he couldn’t feel much of anything else but the deep, stinging ache in his side. Something had broken upon impact, and from the fact that his breath caught raggedly with each inflation of his lungs pained severely, he was willing to bet it had been at least one rib.

Caught! A frightened piece of his mind shrieked. No, not caught. He would keep moving. He pushed away from his rock, every bit of his body protesting . . . And was thrown mercilessly into a smaller, more cutting rock, his cloak now ribbons and his cheek nicely sliced. The pale hands that had already been stung and bit at by plant life now bleeding messily and steadily. If he were anywhere but where he was, he would have been thoroughly disgusted by seeing the shape he was in.

“Stop!” Someone yelled from shore. Snape was almost out, but the Aurors were now nearer to him at the bank he had come from. “Boy, if you don’t, we’ll make you.”

Draco closed his eyes and held his breath, then dropped hold on the rock . . . Only to be brought under by the current. It wasn’t all that bad, though rocks scraped along his back cruelly. That was, until his shoe got stuck between to heavy rocks.

First he was dragged forward with river’s momentum, then he hit the bottom face-first because he had gone from floating on his back to the opposite direction as his foot couldn’t move. Then his ankle twisted and he tugged at it, pulling with all of his might, but it wouldn’t budge.

Caught. The word took on an entirely knew, even more horrific meaning. He couldn’t reach the surface, he couldn’t breathe, his lungs burned and the water had now taken his cloak, trying its best to separate the rest of his body from his trapped ankle. Caught. He was drowning. He was going to die.

Panic set in as he fought valiantly for the only cause he ever truly cared for, that which supported all the wishes of one Draco Malfoy, and the desire that topped the list was not dying. He wanted to live forever . . . Or at least longer than this damned river was willing to offer.

The air he had held despite the pain in his side and the constant burning in his lungs floated up and met with the other rushing water in a burst as he could no longer retain it. The smoldering in his lungs did not subside with this act for more than a second before it was back with a passionate vengeance, seeking to kill instead of maim this time. For a good two minutes he struggled heartily without any air at all, shifting his aching ankle.

Then it stopped. The blaze that had filled his chest and made him feel close to death just dropped away, leaving behind a sort of baffling silence in his mind that made his brain feel sort of . . . Fuzzy. It was almost a feeling he would understand to cause a giggle. Strange. The fear was gone, the panic an unimportant memory, and the deep, harsh sound of the river very far away from his ears. Nothing really mattered, he could just lay there . . . His eyes unfocused, though it seemed to him that one point became very clear while everything else faded right into blackness, then even that point was gone as he slipped into unconsciousness.

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Hours later he awoke. Voices surrounded him, discussing something. A part of his mind demanded he fall back asleep because this was so obviously a mistake, after all, he was dead. Then another insisted that dead people did not hear, so he may as well open his eyes and ask where the hell he was.

Draco’s eyes fluttered open, only to find a fairly stark room and that same pink as before. The color happened to be that of a young woman’s hair. She must have been an Auror.

She looked to him as if he was an assignment, not a human and most certainly not a sixteen-year-old boy who had just gone through a traumatizing experience. “Severus Snape was caught just after you went under.” She told him flatly. Caught. That word haunted him as he remembered the water flowing all around him. “He’s going to Azkaban, and you should be too. But you’re a kid and your family was at risk.” She sniffed as though thinking this was no excuse.

“Then . . .” He began slowly, voice small. “Do I get to go home?” Draco questioned hopefully, blue eyes deadened but almost comprehending.

The woman paused, refraining from saying whatever she had almost blurted, then looking thoughtful for a moment. “No.” She finally confessed. “No, I don’t think so. I was told that they’d already decided to let you off, with how long you’ve been in here we’ve had some decisions made. You were found not guilty.” She stared down at him as his faced took on a pinched and anxious look. He wanted the bad news over with. “But there are many families that disagree . . . The Minister thinks there will be too many complaints no matter if we put you in or take you out.”

“So what will they do with me?” Draco asked impatiently as she paused again.

“Well, I’ve heard you’re to stay with a trusted, proper wizarding family. That way someone can watch and take care of you properly, but monitor your behavior and check in with the Ministry.” She appeared almost nervous about something as she turned partially away from him, looking beyond and out the window though her eyes flitted back to him every few seconds.

“Which family, will I know them?” He doubted it, the only families he knew would not be considered ‘trustworthy’ by the new Minister, he was fairly sure.

She took a deep breath and placed her hands palm-down on her knees, sitting forward slightly. “They needed it to be someone with experience with having children around the house. Boys, especially, you see. That’s the only reason these people volunteered.” Great, someone who would be itching to rip his throat out? “And they have multiple family members in the Ministry, so they’re definitely dependable.”

“Who is it?” He asked again, rolling his eyes heavenward and praying for the best.

“Well . . .” Draco glared at her. She gulped, not because of her glare but because she wanted him to be a good little boy for these people who were like family to her but she knew he wouldn’t be. She knew he was a horrible person, Harry hated him and Draco had broken Harry’s nose! She wished this didn’t have to happen . . . “The Minister thought . . . Who better than the Weasley’s?”

Draco stared blankly, not taking the last in for several moments and then trying to convince himself he’d heard wrong.

//CHAPTER ENDS//

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A/N: So yeah, this idea just wouldn’t leave me alone after I got it and it pestered me until I wrote it down and developed itself! I am writing the second chapter to one fic and doing really well (I think) by being on my fifth one on another which I update regularly, so I shall try to get time for the second chapter for this in time for it still to be a regular update! Reviews may help me work faster, any tips on what I did wrong or what you like or even just some encouragement is TOTALLY welcome and worshipped!



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