Harry didn’t look back as he ran, knowing that he had a decent head start on Lucius Malfoy, who had hesitated in surprise when he took off. In the split second it took to make his decision, Harry knew that a public duel would only draw Ron and Hermione back into the alley, endangering the welfare of Hufflepuff’s cup, and so he ran in the opposite direction to his friends. Barging across the alley, Harry pushed past an unsuspecting witch and wizard who had stopped in the middle of the street, keeping his face hidden as he cast another Shield Charm. No more curses came his way for a few moments, Malfoy holding back as a witch beside him cried out in shock, watching the scene unfold.
Taking advantage of this, Harry slipped down Knockturn Alley and ran, grateful that it was relatively quiet down there that day. Looking over his shoulder, he rushed down the stone steps and past a stand of unidentified dark trinkets. Malfoy was not far behind him, his wand poised and ready. As Harry turned down a side street the stone work above his head crumbled under Malfoy’s curse, the close call making him run even faster. It was more difficult to see down this alley, and he stumbled and slipped in a puddle, catching himself on the handle of a door. It was open. Throwing himself through the door, Harry slammed it behind him and dashed through the cramped and dingy store, hardly seeing the customers and items for sale. Hearing Malfoy pursuing him, Harry pulled over a large display of what appeared to be an innocent table setting, and then headed for the front of the store.
A bell chimed over head as he slammed open the front door, emerging back into Knockturn Alley and running down the full length of the alley, his feet barely able to take him fast enough. People looked at him in surprise as he passed them, but he ignored their curious glances and turned into another side street at the last minute. He was blissfully alone again, the side alley containing nothing but some large boxes that appeared to have been recently delivered. Looking up, Harry thought of the many hours he and Ron had spent perched on the rooves of Diagon Alley, occasionally looking across to the rooftops of Knockturn Alley. Instinct sent him leaping up onto the boxes, tucking his wand into his pocket and grabbing hold of the drainage pipe on the side of the building. For the first time in his life Harry was grateful that he had lost weight, the climb up the drainage pipe and onto the roof being easier than he expected.
The peak of the roof was quite low, the tiles slipping a little beneath him as he lay flat and withdrew his wand again. On the ground below him, Lucius Malfoy appeared again, his long blonde hair whipping around as he gave the alleyway a quick once over before heading back into the main alleyway. Even from the roof Harry could tell that he was as frantic as he himself felt, knowing that Harry had something to do with Draco’s long disappearance. Harry didn’t move, listening carefully as he heard Malfoy shouting at his wife, ordering her back up to guard the entrance to Knockturn Alley. Harry wondered where Draco was for a moment, expecting that he had already been taken to safety by his mother. With a horrible pang Harry realised that Draco hadn’t been Obliviated as planned, his attack on Harry coming as such a surprise. He would tell his parents about what had been stolen, not that he would understand the true implications of his actions. If the Malfoy’s told Voldemort….Harry didn’t want to think about that.
The Malfoy’s were gone, and Harry thought maybe he had a chance of escaping. He thought of his Invisibility cloak, last seen in Diagon Alley, and he prayed it was still there. If he could just get back to that everything would be fine. Clenching his eyes closed, Harry tried to think clearly, knowing that Ron and Hermione would already be panicking in his absence. Acting now, Harry carefully rolled onto his side and got to his feet, regaining his equilibrium before moving again. His hands were shaking, his heart pounding as he tried to catch his breath, but he didn’t dwell on these limitations. As carefully as he could Harry straightened up and clamoured up the sloping roof, getting right to the top before the tiles began to slide out of place beneath his weight.
His heart stopped as three tiles slid off the roof and crashed to the ground, shattering loudly. Swearing, he took off quickly, roughly sliding down the other side of the roof and dislodging more tiles as he leapt across the small gap to the next building. He could hear shouting, and chancing a glance down he saw customers in Knockturn Alley pointing up at him and calling out. There was a bright flash of red as the roof beneath his feet gave way, Lucius Malfoy catching up to him on the street below. Stumbling, Harry regained his feet and carried on up the next roof and down the other side, casting a Shield Charm to protect himself again.
“Stupefy!” Harry yelled breathlessly as he dashed up the next roof, brandishing his wand towards his pursuer. A wizard to Malfoy’s left crumpled under Harry’s curse, though this only encouraged Harry more. “Stupefy!”
Deflecting his curses with ease, Malfoy kept up his pursuit, struggling to keep sight of Harry as he kept running. He had nearly reached the end of Knockturn Alley, and without another roof for him to jump to Harry slipped back closer to the edge where he could see Malfoy. The stand full of dark trinkets was a few feet ahead of him, his wife waiting on the other side with her wand poised up at Harry.
The stand of dark trinkets exploded just as Malfoy began to pass it, the keeper shouting and stumbling about, crashing into Malfoy and inhibiting him further. Still moving, Harry panicked a little as he remembered he had reached the end of the rooves, taking a few hasty steps and jumping off before he could think twice. His hastily cast Cushioning Charm was too late, and he landed on the cobbled stone ground with the full impact of his jump, his legs crumpling as he threw out his hands to break the rest of his fall. Rolling onto his side he was paralysed in shock, unable to move until he saw Narcissa Malfoy running out of Knockturn Alley in search of him.
Catching his breath, Harry raised his wand, stunning her before she had even seen him. Crying out in pain, Harry got to his feet and took off again, ignoring the stares and surprised shouts of the witches and wizards in the alley, some of whom thought they recognised him. He was halfway up Diagon Alley before he looked over his shoulder, his heart falling as he saw Malfoy in hot pursuit. His strength fading fast, Harry allowed instinct to guide his feet, dodging the curses that came his way before seeking refuge down the alleyway that lead to the back of some shops. Moving as quickly as he could, Harry slipped down the back of the stores, ignoring certain doors until he found the one he was looking for.
He practically fell through the back door of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, knocking over boxes of product and upturning the desk as he passed through the storeroom, hearing Malfoy in the alley behind him. Entering the main area of the store Harry collapsed to the floor behind a stand of joke crystal balls, his legs unable to bear his weight anymore. He tried to catch his breath, his chest heaving as he tried to process the pain in his legs. He had half been hoping to find Ron and Hermione in here, but he was alone, and quickly getting his breathing under control Harry tried to listen to his surroundings.
Listening, he could hear nothing except the violent pounding of his heart and the sharp intake of his breaths. No noise came from the storeroom to indicate that Malfoy had followed him inside, but Harry did not move, knowing that he wasn’t safe. Time seemed to pass incredibly slowly as he sat and waited, the pain in his legs making them shake along with his hands. He held his wand tightly as he sat up a little, looking around the stand that was his sanctuary to the storeroom. Without his wand lit it was dark, too dark to see with the only light coming from the gaps in the boarded up windows. He detected a slight movement from the storeroom, the subsequent silence pressing in on him and making him doubt what he had heard.
Suddenly there was an almighty crash, the stand above him breaking and sending the crystal balls crashing to the ground, smashing as Harry leapt out of the way. Glass rained down on him as another stand smashed, forcing Harry to move again, and from the corner of his eye he could just make out the silhouette of Malfoy standing in the doorway. There was a shower of sparks, one of the smaller of Fred and George’s fireworks igniting and rocketing around the store. It flew past Harry and scraped his right hand, leaving a long burn on his skin before crashing into the opposite wall and burning out. Diving behind another stand, Harry struggled to contain his panic, squashing it down as he looked around for something to help him. There were a few loud bangs as half a dozen Decoy Detonators activated, having fallen from their displays and scurried off, leaving only the smell of gunpowder and fire in the air.
The eruption of products finished, Harry went completely still again, seeing his reflection in the mirrored display in front of him. He watched the reflected silhouette of Malfoy come deeper into the store, looking around for him without a sense of fear or desperation. Harry got a sense of deja vu, remembering how only a few hours ago, he Ron and Hermione had been in this very room, preparing for the break in, and he hoped they were okay. Harry crouched up on his feet, watching in the mirror as Malfoy casually moved closer and closer to him, stopping suddenly to regard something on the ground.
Harry focused on breathing evenly, holding his wand and preparing to force himself upright at the right time, knowing that he only needed one perfect curse to get himself out of this mess. Brushing his fringe out of his eyes Harry took a deep breath, preparing himself mentally, knowing that he had been in worse situations before this. Calmer now, he felt his heart rate slow and his hands steady, his strength returning with a much needed sense of focus as he watched Malfoy’s reflection intently. Malfoy was still regarding something on the ground, looking up in Harry’s direction before he bent down to pick it up.
Acting without thought, Harry stepped out from behind the stand and raised his wand, the required curse on the tip of his tongue. From then on, conscious thought evaded him, replaced only by pain and shock as something hard hit the side of his face, smashing on impact and making him stumble. Throwing his hand out, it smashed through the glass shelves on his left, and there was nothing to grab onto as his whole body fell against them, the mirror behind cracking from the impact. There was beautiful silence as Harry lay on the ground unmoving, but he was only vaguely aware of it as Malfoy appeared above him for a moment. An instant later conscious thought returned to him, and Harry could hear his gasps for breath as he struggled to sit up, catching a glimpse of his inner right leg where blood bloomed across his jeans.
“No…” Harry managed to gasp, watching as Malfoy fell to his knees beside him and pressed down on the wound. Harry cried out in pain, laying back down as all strength left his body. Instantly he began to relax, and surely he was dreaming again because he must be falling, falling somewhere deep and dark where there was absolutely nothing. He struggled to keep his eyes open, to stay awake and alert, but the falling sensation completely overwhelmed him, and he desired nothing more than to fall asleep.
He closed his eyes.
Ron’s heart was pounding as he and Hermione walked along Charing Cross road, racing across the streets and dodging cars as they headed for the alleyway where they could safely apparate. Looking over his shoulder he searched desperately for Harry and Malfoy, though he knew he wouldn’t see them under the cloak. Unnerved by the sudden appearance of Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, Ron grasped Hermione’s elbow as they walked, picking up their pace. They didn’t look at each other, too nervous to speak as they raced across the street, aggravating drivers who slowed down to accommodate them. It didn’t matter. Nothing would until they were back at Privet drive with Harry and Malfoy, all four of them safe and whole. Running through the process in his head, Ron knew they would Obliviate Malfoy before setting him free, that thought lifting his spirits a little.
“Everything’s alright,” he said, the very moment that he and Hermione rounded the corner and entered the deserted alleyway where they would Apparate. “He won’t be far behind us.”
“What if something happened?” Hermione hissed nervously, both of them looking expectantly towards the mouth of the alleyway. “What if the Malfoy’s saw them?”
“They’re under the cloak,” Ron reassured her, though at that moment the thought of Harry being captured again was too horrible to consider. “Did you get the cup?”
Hermione looked at him as though he were from another planet, finally recognising what he meant and shaking her head. “Yes, of course we got it! Why are you worried about that? What about Harry?”
“He’s fine,” Ron insisted, glancing at the briefcase in relief. “They’ll turn up any minute now, crapping themselves about seeing the Malfoys.”
Hermione seemed to hesitantly accept this, though they stood together in absolute silence, listening for any sound that might indicate Harry was on his way. The only sounds they heard were of the traffic and people outside the alleyway, none of whom were whipping off an Invisibility Cloak. Minutes passed, Ron and Hermione growing more and more concerned for their friend, and finally after five long minutes Ron could take it no longer.
“Right,” he said lowly, turning to Hermione. “Go back to Privet drive with the cup. Wait there, I’m going back.”
“Like hell!” Hermione cursed in dismay. “I’m coming with you.”
“No, you need to guard that cup!”
“I’m coming back,” she insisted, grabbing him furiously. “I’ll leave it at Privet drive, it will be fine!”
“I said no,” Ron instructed her firmly, grasping her shoulders and forcing her to look at him. “The most important thing is to guard that cup. Take it away from here! I won’t be long, Harry and I will be back in no time.”
Hesitating, Hermione looked at him wide eyed with fear. Nodding at his instructions she picked up the briefcase. “If you’re not all back in fifteen minutes, I’m coming back too.”
“Alright, agreed,” Ron said, giving her a swift kiss on the cheek. Turning away he marched down the alley, not hearing her plea for him to be careful.
As soon as he was out of Hermione’s sight, Ron broke into a run, wondering why on earth he had waited so long. He should have turned back immediately, should have thrown their agreement out the window and stunned the Malfoys when their backs were turned. A thousand thoughts ran through his mind as he raced through the traffic and back to the Leaky Cauldron in record time, calming himself before entering the pub again. As before, no one paid him much attention, and within seconds he was passing through the brick wall into the alley, where immediately he knew something was amiss.
The normal atmosphere of the shoppers had been interrupted, and as he slipped down the street back towards the bank, Ron desperately tried to listen to the whispered chatter around him. Hearing Harry’s name spoken in hushed tones, Ron sped up, walking as quickly as he could without drawing attention to himself. With no regard for what he might say to the security guards, Ron headed towards the alleyway that led to the service entrance of Gringotts, racing around the corner and promptly slipping over. Landing hard on his side, Ron swore to himself loudly, not having the time to be fumbling and falling all over himself. Righting himself, Ron looked around on the ground in search of what he had slipped on, his heart sinking when he found it.
It was slightly damp, having been discarded onto a puddle, but there was no mistaking the rare Invisibility cloak that belonged to Harry. Picking it up, Ron held it up before him as though it might tell him what had happened to its owner, finally bundling it up tightly and throwing it under his arm. Moving back to the mouth of the alley, Ron ignored the witch who was watching him from the shop front a few feet away, looking around Diagon Alley for some sign of where Harry might have gone.
Rather uncomfortably, Ron looked towards Knockturn Alley, and aside from a rather frazzled looking stall keeper rearranging his dark trinkets, there was no sign of a disturbance. Moving a little closer, Ron peered down into the dark and dingy alley, seeing that it was practically deserted. Broken stone from a wall lay on the ground a few yards in. Shaking his head to himself, Ron walked away, knowing that Harry would probably end up somewhere he was familiar with, especially if he were running with Draco Malfoy. Convincing himself that he was about to find Harry and Malfoy holed up in hiding somewhere, likely about to strangle each other, Ron set off back the way he had come. His feet automatically took him down an opposing alleyway, towards the back door of Weasley Wizard Wheezes, trying to keep himself hopeful when he saw that the back door was wide open.
Ron reassured himself, knowing that he had closed the door firmly when he had left the store earlier that afternoon. Harry must be inside. Slipping through the door Ron made to march through the store room, Harry’s name on his lips until he stopped dead in his tracks, observing the chaotic scene before him. Shivering, Ron knew this was only getting worse, and as he climbed over the upturned desk he lit his wand and raised it high into the air, illuminating the store floor ahead of him. Coming closer now, Ron realised that he was shaking, and took a sharp intake of breath as the light from his wand fell over the destruction in his brothers’ shop. It was horrifying to see, the implications for Harry even worse, and Ron raced inside, terrified of what he might find on the other side of the upturned shelving.
“Harry?” he called, having no regard for potential Death Eaters that may still be lurking around. Already Ron knew that something was very wrong, that he should have turned around immediately to help his friend. “Harry, are you in here mate?”
From the corner of his eye, Ron spotted a long thin object on the ground a few feet away, recognising it as Harry’s wand. With great trepidation, Ron came closer and picked it up, turning it over in his fingers and looking at the broken glass on the floor. He knew what he was going to find even before he stood up, but nothing could prepare himself for the agonizing pain he felt when he looked further and found generous smears of blood on the floor. Harry’s glasses lay beneath the shower of glass. His shoes crunching over the broken and bloodied glass, Ron came closer and looked at the smashed shelving, mentally trying to assess exactly how much blood had been spilt. There was too much, enough to make Ron’s head spin and his stomach turn, and realising the implications, Ron turned away and ran out of the store, clutching Harry’s possessions.
There was nothing he or Hermione could do now. If Lucius Malfoy had taken Harry, they would both be long gone by now. With his body filling with adrenaline, Ron’s thoughts raced through his head, and as he bolted out the back door and through Diagon Alley, he mentally assessed what he had to do now, making split decisions on the spot. He flew through the Leaky Cauldron, apparating the moment he stepped out onto Charing Cross road, Statue of Secrecy be damned. Appearing on the front lawn of Privet drive with all limbs intact, Ron prepared himself for what he was going to tell Hermione, knowing that he needed to be calm enough to make her trust him.
“Where is he?” Hermione demanded the moment Ron opened the front door, having been waiting in the hallway. With her own appearance back, she barrelled towards him and looked over his shoulder impatiently. “Harry, are you there?”
“’Mione,” Ron began softly, wondering where to start. Thankfully, he didn’t really need to, Hermione spotting Harry’s Invisibility Cloak and wand in Ron’s possession.
“Ron?” she began desperately, clapping her hand over her mouth. She began to cry. “Ron, where is he?”
Ron shook his head, taking a heavy breath. “We have to go,” he managed, pushing past her and heading into the dining room. He dropped Harry’s things onto the table, going in search of the sword and Dumbledore’s penseive. “Get that bag, we need to pack all this up.”
“You hardly even looked for him!” Hermione accused loudly, not moving from the front hallway. She shook her head to herself, marching towards the front door. “I’ll look for him myself.”
“No!” Ron shouted, dashing through the lounge room to intercept her before she could reach the door. He grabbed her by the arm, pulling her away. He couldn’t let her go there, couldn’t let her see what had happened. “He’s gone, Hermione! Malfoy’s taken him. We have to go!”
“We can’t leave him!” she shouted, quickly growing hysterical. She shoved him hard, but with the pain he was feeling for Harry, he hardly felt it. “He’d never leave us behind!”
“Go upstairs, get your bag!” he instructed her, grabbing her by the arm again and hauling her to the foot of the stairs. “We have to get the cup out of here.”
“And what about Harry?” she demanded angrily, drawing her wand on him. “He’d never leave us!”
Ron growled to himself, wondering why now of all times did she not understand. “He’s already gone, trust me! Death Eaters are gonna be here any minute, looking for us! We’ve gotta get the cup out of here!”
Realisation dawned on her, and she gasped as her eyes went wide with understanding. “We didn’t Obliviate Malfoy…”
“No, we didn’t,” Ron agreed, pushing her upstairs. “He’s gonna be here any minute, get your bag!”
With that, Hermione took off upstairs, and with a breath of relief Ron ran back into the lounge room, hauling the Sword of Gryffindor and Dumbledore’s penseive out from underneath the couch cushions where Harry had stashed them that morning. He dumped them unceremoniously on the table and began gathering up the parchment that lay scattered around the house, stuffing it all into the bag when Hermione finally returned with her bag.
“What do we need most?”
“Just get everything that ties us to Gringotts and the Ministry and put it in…we don’t want to implicate Harry in any more than he already is.”
As he said this, Ron wondered where Harry was, but didn’t dwell on this for too long. There would be plenty of time to worry and wonder, plenty of time to revert back to the painful waiting game they played last August, when this had happened for the first time. Allowing Hermione to stow away the sword and the penseive, Ron ran upstairs and gave it all a one last check over, slipping into the room Harry had been occupying and checking that also.
“Hurry, Ron!” Hermione called from downstairs, panicking greatly.
Abandoning his final checks Ron raced back down stairs, taking Hermione by the hand and leading her out the back door and into the garden. Checking that she still had the bag in her possession, Ron squeezed her hand tightly and looked to her, waiting for her signal that she was ready.
“Are you sure about this, Ron?” Hermione asked him, fear evident in her eyes. “I feel like we’re abandoning him too quickly. He could still be in Diagon Alley.”
Ron shook his head, picturing the blood he had found. If Harry had sustained injuries that led to that much blood loss, he certainly wouldn’t be hanging around Diagon Alley. “We can’t wait any longer, Harry would do the same. Besides, he’s not there, trust me.”
Hesitating, Hermione squeezed his hand back in reluctant agreement, and together they apparated far away from Surrey, holding onto every last hope that their friend would be alright.
There was only darkness to greet Harry when he finally opened his eyes, and he welcomed it gratefully, not yet prepared for the impact of what was happening to him. Exhausted, Harry closed his eyes again in attempt to regain the thoughtless state that had been keeping him calm so far. Already his head was buzzing with thought, and he tried to stop the onslaught of confusion and fear, wanting to stay in sweet denial just a little longer, where he didn’t have to be brave and strong.
Restless now, Harry made the grand mistake of trying to shift his position, terrible pain shooting down his arms, neck and back, and he couldn’t prevent the cry that he emitted. Clenching his teeth, Harry went quiet again, opening his eyes and trying to see through the darkness. The discomfort remained, and his eyes did not adjust to the darkness. Gasping under his breath, Harry noted that his hands were suspended high above him, the full weight of his body on his arms, and judging by the pain he had been this way for some time. He looked down now, confused to note that he could definitely touch the cold hard floor with his feet. In fact he was almost kneeling, his knees only a foot away from giving his arms the relief they needed.
Acting without thinking, Harry tried to move his legs before stopping abruptly, groaning harshly as he felt strong pain deep within his right leg. Stopping still, Harry stayed frozen in that position, his right leg poised and ready to bring himself to his feet, but he couldn’t move. He stayed there like that for a while, the pain in his leg ebbing away into a dull throb as the pain in his arms increased. Thirsty, he licked his lips and tasted dried blood.
Before he could think again, Harry put both his feet flat on the floor and unsteadily began to stand, his whole body trembling as the terrible pain wracked his arms and back again. Gasping for breath when he became upright, he slowly pulled his arms down from their position above his head, feeling dizzy for a few moments. Swaying on his feet, Harry managed to bring his hands down to about shoulder height, the tight bonds not allowing him any further. Celebrating this small relief, he tried to wiggle his fingers, which were cold and numb, the circulation slowly improving with the change in position.
Shivering, Harry turned to observe his surroundings, but he couldn’t see anything other than darkness. He breathed deeply through his nose, cringing at the smell of stagnant water and mice, the air heavy with dust that made him cough. Desperately he searched for light, uncomfortably remembering how thirsty he was. His right leg was throbbing sharply, and thinking hard, Harry recalled the bloom of bright red blood that had spread across his jeans. That was the last thing he remembered.
Uselessly, Harry tried to reach down and touch his leg, the bonds disallowing his arms any lower than his shoulders. Sighing, Harry rested his head against his hands and took the weight off his injured leg, finding relief in the cold and dark environment. His scar hurt terribly, and his headache remained, reminding him of his trip to Gringotts that afternoon….was it still Monday? He thought of Ron and Hermione, knowing they would have panicked when he and Malfoy didn’t arrive in the alleyway behind them. He prayed they kept their heads, that they took the cup and ran, protected it before thinking of him. Their agreement to protect the cup at all costs had been reached reluctantly, but all three of them knew that destroying it and keeping it a secret was more important that anything.
Raising his head, Harry looked over his left shoulder, sensing someone there. He held his breath and listened, his heart rate accelerating despite the heavy silence. He looked over his right shoulder now, certain that he was not alone. Swallowing nervously, he took a controlled breath and tried to calm himself down, his hands clenched tightly as he broke out in a sweat. He knew he was in a bad situation, but for a long moment he felt like he was in real certain danger, that whoever he could feel there with him meant permanent harm. He flinched, as though expecting a blow. As soon as this thought came, the feeling of danger passed, his heart rate slowing as his breathing eased. Still panicked, Harry kept looking around, still unable to see anything.
He thought of Ron and Hermione again, and for a moment he wanted to break down and cry. Draco would have told his parents what had been stolen, where he had been for the last eight weeks. Raising his head again, he looked again for some sign of another person in the room, realising he could still prevent Voldemort from finding out. He could no longer sense any other presence, and despite his dry mouth, Harry took the deepest breath he could muster.
“I want…to talk!” he shouted as loudly as he could, taking another breath and repeating his call. “I want to talk!”
“Then start talking,” came a low voice from in front of him.
Harry visibly jumped, the sudden outside intrusion on his solitude was unexpected. Pain shot through his leg, and he gasped out loud as he turned his head. The room was completely silent again, and perhaps the voice had been a hallucination.
“Where are you?” Harry asked quietly.
“Right here,” came the voice, this time from somewhere to his right.
Recoiling away, Harry realised that his feet too were bound, and he was unable to move them more than a foot either way. It was still pitch dark, and though he recognised the voice of Lucius Malfoy, Harry couldn’t see his bright blonde hair, though it was right in front of him. Touching his face, Harry felt the soft material that had been wound around his head and over his eyes. Annoyed that he had not noticed it before, he quickly pushed the material up and off his head, ignoring the sting in his cheek.
“Really, a blind fold?” he questioned hoarsely, the blindfold dropping to the ground. Still he could see nothing. “I already know who you are, you don’t need to hide your identity from me.”
“Disorientation,” Malfoy stated, making no indication that he cared about the blindfold remaining in place.
Harry shrugged his shoulders, now relishing in the pain and discomfort. The movement sought to relieve his tight muscles.
“What do you wish to talk about?” Malfoy asked impatiently.
Harry licked his lips again as his eyes still tried to adjust, still tasting blood. “Bit of light in here wouldn’t hurt.”
There was a long pause, Harry listening intently as Malfoy stepped away from him, an oil lamp igniting a few feet away. Harry flinched away and threw his hand across his eyes, temporarily blinded. Blinking, he lowered his arm and carefully opened his eyes, allowing them to adjust to the light before he turned back to Malfoy. The light was unnerving now, giving him a full but blurry image of Lucius Malfoy, who stood a few feet away, twirling his wand. Sickened, Harry noted that his normally pale hands were smeared generously with blood, the sleeves of his dark grey robes also stained.
Looking down at his leg, Harry swayed uncomfortably and looked away for a moment, steeling himself before looking back. The leg of his jeans were stuck to his skin, the material stained red. It was difficult to see the wound at first, which had been closed, but still remained unhealed. Swollen and painful, the cut he had sustained falling against the glass shelves was almost the length of his hand, and for a moment Harry flashed back to the moment it had occurred, when he had sat up to find Malfoy pressing down on it.
“Did you do that?” Harry asked quietly.
“You would have bled to death,” Malfoy stated, still impatient. “You’re no good to me dead.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Harry replied. A part of him wanted to say thank you, thank you for not allowing him to bleed to death in the storefront of Weasley Wizard Wheezes, but he quickly quashed the thought down. He owed this man nothing.
“What do you want to talk about?”
Harry shrugged, still looking over his injuries. His left wrist was swollen and bruised, possibly broken judging by the pain that was emerging, and further up his arm was a spattering of lacerations, glass twinkling in the light from the oil lamp. Harry clearly recalled putting his arm out to break his fall, and instead sending it straight through the first of the glass shelves. Turning his wrist over, he realised just how lucky he was that he hadn’t bled to death after all, noting the long cuts on his forearm. The Dark Mark on his arm glittered with tiny pieces of shattered glass, making the skull seem as though it was laughing at him. He shook his head to himself. That skull was always laughing at him.
“I don’t suppose the weather holds much interest?”
“No, it doesn’t.”
Harry nodded slowly, wondering where he was going to go with this. “What’s the time?”
“How long have I been here?”
Harry swore under his breath. He was getting nowhere, and decided to get straight to the point. “Have you told him?”
“Him? The Dark Lord?” Malfoy asked, his interest peaked.
Harry nodded again. “I’m sure Draco told you what we did…have you told him yet?”
Malfoy considered Harry for a moment, and Harry focused on maintaining the eye contact. “I haven’t, as of yet.”
His sigh of relief made Malfoy raise his eyebrows. “I suggest you don’t tell him.”
“And why would you suggest that?” Malfoy asked, moving closer to him. “Why would you, or he, have any interest in the possessions of my ancestors?”
“Because that goblet is his,” Harry answered quietly, careful not to give too much away. “He asked Lestrange to hide it…but you already know that…don’t you? You would have taken me straight to him if you didn’t know.”
“So you stole from him?”
“Technically, I stole from you,” Harry explained. “I stole the goblet that you were supposed to protect, took it right out of your vault. In fact, your son took it out for me. That’s why you won’t tell him.”
“I’ll do as I please,” Malfoy hissed angrily, furious as he began to understand exactly what Harry was saying. “I can have you begging for mercy at the Dark Lord’s feet in minutes, if I please!’
“No, you won’t!” Harry shouted, pleased when Malfoy stepped back in surprise. “If you tell him what I’ve done, it’s you that’ll be begging at his feet! Your family is who let me steal from him! It was your vault! Your son! Your screw up!”
He belted Harry harshly, though he had been expecting the abuse to begin pretty quickly. Despite his instinct to go quiet, Harry started laughing at him, knowing that despite his horrible position, he had backed Malfoy into a corner. Malfoy hit him again, and this time Harry went quiet, carefully testing out his throbbing jaw.
“And what of your screw ups, huh?” Malfoy growled, trying to turn it all back on him.
“I’ve had plenty,” Harry smiled, looking away from the dark expression on Malfoy’s face.
“What about leaving your pretty little girlfriend behind for me? What about your Godfather? The Ministry?”
“What did you say?” Harry demanded, looking up in surprise. His blood ran cold, his breathing picking up. Had he heard correctly? “What did you say about Sirius?”
Malfoy looked rather satisfied by Harry’s outburst, stepping closer to him and making Harry recoil. Folding his arms across his chest, Malfoy stood up tall and smirked at him.
“I thought you’d know, by now,” he said with a smile. “After all, it was months ago.”
Harry swallowed uncomfortably, considering this for a moment. “What happened?” he asked, trying to connect together what Tonks had already told him about Sirius.
Raising his eyebrow, Malfoy explained. “The Werewolf, Remus Lupin, turned on him, led him into an ambush one full moon. If it’s consolation, I heard it didn’t take long.”
Breathing deeply, Harry closed his eyes and collected his thoughts, remembering what Tonks had told him only a few weeks ago. But doubt nagged at him from the back of his mind, and he suddenly realised that he hadn’t seen Remus or Sirius since war broke out. Was it possible?
“I don’t believe you,” Harry said firmly, hearing the words come out of his own mouth affirming his belief. “I know what you’re playing at. You’re just trying to rattle me…before you get onto the bigger picture.”
“The bigger picture? And what is that?” Lucius smirked, enjoying Harry’s momentary doubt.
“The fact, that I’ve screwed up your family. If You-Know-Who finds out about that missing goblet, he won’t be happy.” Harry paused there, letting the effect of his words sink in. “And by the way…it was Ginny who stole the Sword of Gryffindor. I’ll bet you were pretty pissed off that she managed that, under your watch no less.”
“And she suffered severely for it,” Malfoy growled in assurance.
He withdrew his wand and moved to stand behind Harry, who refused to watch him. A moment later, his black shirt vanished, and Harry tensed, feeling the tip of Malfoy’s wand against his skin. There was a sharp crack of pain across his back, making him gasp and clench his teeth. Twisting around in anger, he could just make out the previously healed scar that had been reopened. Suppressing the tirade of curses and threats he wanted to make, he turned from again and clenched his teeth, trying to catch the breath that had suddenly evaded him.
“After I finished with her, you two really are a perfect match,” Malfoy finished, moving back in front of Harry.
“I don’t doubt what you did to her, I’ve seen it myself,” Harry said, only lying a little. He thought of the bandages he could feel underneath Ginny’s trousers, of the way she flinched when he touched her back. Looking back to Malfoy, Harry smirked at the perplexed look on his face. “Oh, did I forget to mention, I’m the one who helped her escape. I’ll bet that was on your watch, too.”
Malfoy nodded. “We suspected it might be you,” he began. “The giant wasn’t convincing with his story of hungry Acromantulas.”
“I bet you looked for her,” Harry smiled, relishing in Malfoy’s narrowing gaze. “I bet you searched the Forbidden Forest for days.”
“You’ve never been doubted as a worthy adversary.”
“That’s smart of you.”
They fell into an awkward silence, neither of them knowing what to say next. With great determination, Harry looked Malfoy in the eye, pleased when he began to see Malfoy grow uncomfortable under his gaze.
“You’re thinking about the last time you were in this position,” Malfoy began slowly, twirling his wand around his fingers a few times.
“I must admit, it’s crossed my mind once or twice. But a lot’s happened since last August.”
“Oh yeah,” Harry confirmed, keeping his face passive. “There’s also a big difference between now and then.”
Harry took a moment, considering how much trouble his words might get him into. “I had the answers last time, I just didn’t want to give them.”
Harry smiled now. “I know exactly what you want…and it’s a relief that even if I wanted to, I can’t give you the answers.”
“What is it that you think I want to know?”
“Where that goblet is,” Harry answered, pleased with himself. “Even if I did know, I wouldn’t tell you.”
“You expect me to believe that you don’t know where it is?”
“Believe what you want, I don’t know.”
Malfoy breathed out slowly, praying for patience in the way that Hermione sometimes did. “I’ve spoken at great length with my son. He had many great things to tell me about you, Granger and Weasley. What you did, where you went, when you went. He describes you all as methodical…routine…well practiced and rehearsed. What were his words? ‘Nothing was left to chance,’ he said.”
Harry snorted. “So?”
“So? To me, that means you planned for everything.”
“We tried,” Harry laughed, thinking about their near misses at the Ministry.
“You know exactly where that cup is.”
“Okay, okay,” Harry began cooperatively, looking as though in great thought. “If you’ve spoken to Draco, then I can assume you’ve been to Privet Drive?”
Malfoy said nothing to this, but his minute change in expression told Harry enough.
“Right, so you’ve been to Privet Drive. I take it from our conversation that Ron and Hermione weren’t there…otherwise you would have found the cup already, and I’d be…what did you say? begging at the Dark Lord’s feet? I’m not sure what to tell you then.”
“Tell me where they are,” he countered, raising his wand directly to Harry.
“I can’t!” Harry emphasised. “Like Draco said, we planned for everything. Our plan if something went wrong, was to run. Leave everything behind, and run.”
“Don’t know,” Harry shrugged, painfully honest. “I wish I knew...then at least there’d be a reason for what you’re going to do, but that was part of the plan. We didn’t know where were would run to…truthfully, we mostly make things up as we go. There’s not often much of a plan for living arrangements.”
“Ah, but you forget,” Malfoy said boldly, moving closer, his wand still held in threat. “There’s another big difference between now, and the last time you were in this position.”
“Such as?” Harry asked, mimicking him.
“The Dark Lord, for all his expertise in interrogation…is far too patient with his subjects. He was quite willing for you to be with him for many weeks, months even, if that’s how long it took. I, on the other hand, am not a patient man.”
“Neither am I,” Harry agreed, feeling nervous at these words. He tapped his bare foot on the cold tiles, trying not to shiver. Without his shirt, he felt much more exposed, especially as Malfoy kept stepping closer to him. “We should get along just fine.”
A/N Thanks for reading everyone, please don’t forget to review!
According to Lynn6t7, the story has been selected as a favourite by 100 readers. Thanks to all those who keep up with the story, and especially to those that review and let me know what they think and feel about it all. Cheers.
And cheers to Emily and Tricia, who keep my plot going and my spelling in check!
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