Legs trembling, forehead sweating, heart thumping, breath choking. I dodge one curse only to face another, aim only to have my wand knocked out of my hand. Dropping to my knees, I scramble among rubble and pools of blood, grasping at anything, everything.
My fingers brush something cool, smooth, slightly resilient...
I spring backwards as I realized I have just brushed the arm of a young, dead woman. Her pink hair is sickly in the flashes of color that illuminate the hall. Her eyes are wide, mouth gaping as if she has not expected to die. But then again, does anyone?
I dive away from the violet jinx, skidding into another still body. The walls begin closing in on me, pushing tighter and tighter, the breath can barely squeeze its way out of my throat, I need to get out!
So. This is the glory I sought when I crept back from the evacuation. The exhilaration of battle I pictured as I snuck past Madam Pomfrey. I'd had this vision of holding my own, Death Eaters piling at my feet. But battle is quick, disorienting. And it's surprisingly hard to aim when one's hand is shaking.
“Move, kid!” a man leaps out of nowhere and pushes me aside, only to get caught by the curse. His hand drops from my shoulder, his eyes darting back one last time to the pink-haired lady.
I stumble backwards, trying to get out out out. As I retreat blindly, I catch a glimpse of the sky through a hole in the wall. The sky is velvet, sequined with hundreds of stars. It cries to be wrapped around someone.
“Hello, there...” a sneering Death Eater turns a corner in the hall and reads the terror in my eyes. “Tut tut, you can't be thinking of leaving the battle... It's only just started.”
I think I might be frantically shaking my head, but all I'm sure of is the stone cold wall pressed against my back. Death is cold.
… and pain is white.
Something wet trickles in my ears as I writhe in pain. I am lying on a cottony cloud, and as I attempt to hold on to it, it only turns to fog, engulfing me in bright, deafening white. Something loud rips from my mouth; a scream?
As the pain fades, I rock back and forth hugging my knees; when I fell, I cracked my head against the wall and blood now drips steadily down my face. I gnaw on my pants to keep from sobbing.
“I'm so glad you can stay for the fun...” the Death Eater says, towering over me, his eyes the color of death. But they are too far away for me to recognize the shade.
A gangly red-haired young man sprints toward me as the Death Eater collapses, bleeding from a dozen wounds. I think his name is Weasley... He was Keeper for Gryffindor last year...
“What's your name, kid? Are you all right?”
“Stewart Ackerley,” I mumble, but Weasley's face swims in front of me. I can't even see the freckles that were there a second ago...
“Stewart...” Weasley says, but his face tips backward. Next thing I know I'm lying on the floor.
A large man turns the corner and spies Weasley and I. Weasley's back is turned to the man, and time moves too fast for me to warn him. With a single curse, Weasley is lying moaning on the stone next to me. The Death Eater raises his wand again and points it straight between my eyes.
“No!” with a roar, I am somehow once again on my feet. Shaking like mad, but definitely on my feet. Then momentum of what I've done hits me, and I stagger, head throbbing. The Death Eater grins, revealing a mouthful of rotten teeth, and aims once more.
I realize I do not want to know the color of death.
“Stewart!” Weasley groans, as I make a running leap for that hole in the wall. The sky is still beckoning. What floor are we on?