"The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he is on."
― Joseph Heller, Catch-22
Dark Water by Pseudonymous Entity
Summary: When Harry and Ron steal the flying car things go horribly wrong. Harry Potter is nearly killed, and ends up lost and alone in the Forbidden Forest. When he emerges it is with a greater respect for magic, and for his life. But this year? He isn't the only one making a comeback...
AN: Harry's adventure in the forest isn't over yet...
ANx2: Always love hearing theories and guesses from you lot.
Ever Yours, Pseu [The Clever, Magnificent and Ridiculously Good Looking]
"Extraordinary people survive under the most terrible circumstances
and they become more extraordinary because of it."
― Robertson Davies
Harry made slow progress through the icy dark water.
Fair hands with long fingers held tightly, obsessively to the floating trunk which was used as a buoyance operated floatation device…and lifeline. Shoes kicked under the water propelling boy and trunk toward the closest shore. The one also farthest from his desired destination. It was hard to push the trunk, it wasn't easy to steer and resisted being moved. Harry's legs ached with the strain.
It wasn't until Harry's feet hit against the muddy bottom of the lake that Harry's fingers considered loosening their death grip. The wizard did not know how to swim and had no intention of giving it a go any time soon. The trunk wedged into the muddy bank. For several minutes Harry lay there, his body draped over his trunk, legs in lake, dripping water. He was exhausted.
Eventually, with a groan, Harry pushed himself wearily to his feet. He couldn't leave the trunk in the water and mud, he knew. He needed to move it further into the trees and get himself a bit of cover. This was still Forbidden Forest and Merlin knew what could be lurking around. Pulling the trunk up into the brush and the trees was harder than he'd figured on it being. It was absolutely dark and he couldn't see a thing. All the sense of direction he received was from feeling tree branches or bushes snagging on his clothes or his hair.
When his legs were close to giving out Harry called it quits.
He got flashes along the edges of his mind. Of being in the car while the water was flooding it. Of thinking he was going to die. Harry shoved them to the side forcefully. He couldn't afford to think about the right now. Not the car or the water or even Ron and the possessed tree. Right now he needed to focus on finding a place to stop for the night. The sooner he slept the sooner it'd be morning. With the morning came the sun. All he needed was the light and he was certain he'd find his way back.
He turned in a circle taking in deep breaths. Through the trees ahead of him lay the lake, he knew. It was as far as he was willing to go. Harry sat on his trunk and went through the process of pulling off his water logged shoes and his socks. He set them to the side, rolled up the legs of his jeans and curled up on top of his trunk. As soon as it was morning he'd head out toward the lake again and make his way around it. He'd be at Hogwarts tomorrow.
He'd be home.
Something brought him out of his sleep.
Some sound. Some instinct within him responding. Harry's eyes fluttered open. His body lay still as if still asleep. Muscle memory Harry thought it was called. He'd been quite used to such scenarios when he was younger. Listening for his relatives waking up or going to bed. Listening intently, trying to guess where they were going and whether they were heading in his direction. It wasn't his cousin Dudley's heavy footsteps that had woken him however.
Green eyes snapped open wide. Harry's body sat up of its own accord and already he was searching through the dim early light of dawn. Eyes and ears straining for the source of his disruption. When no obvious culprit was forthcoming Harry decided it was time to go. Contrary to the reports of his large curiosity, Harry had no inclination to go out in search of the mysterious noise maker. Shivering in his bones, body anxious for a response to the unseen threat, Harry swallowed and closed his eyes briefly. Get a grip, he ordered himself.
Harry leant over his trunk, reaching down for his socks and shoes. They were damp but no longer dripping water. Good enough. Harry tugged them on and tired his laces. The rest of him was still damp as well, even his hair. But damp was almost dry and he'd get warm enough when the sun came up in another hour. Harry grinned to himself. He'd learned that from the Dursleys as well. When he'd had to tend to Aunt Petunia's garden and use the hose. It was cold at first but always dried quickly and felt pretty good when the sun was especially hot. His smile faded.
Harry was a long way from Privet Drive.
Dragging his trunk back through the trees was just as delightful as he remembered. It constantly got stuck on tree roots and rocks. The third time it caught on something Harry began to wonder if the forest had rearranged its self during his sleep just to spite him. There, the lake. Harry did not go near to it, instead he made his way along the back, circling around to the right. If he kept going this direction he would eventually get to the part of the forest he'd traversed with Hagrid during a detention the year before.
If he was lucky he would run into that friendly centaur. Maybe he would give Harry directions. Or maybe Hagrid would find him and take him back. Harry's thoughts wandered about the different ways he'd find himself safe in the castle that night. He could even wander onto the grounds and into the castle all by himself. Surprise everyone during dinner. Hermione would be furious.
Of course, he could always run into less friendly creatures.
One foot after the other Harry made his way. Stiff from the cold his muscles ached and groaned. Twenty minutes into his walk Harry heard it. A whispery creeping sound and that made him shudder involuntarily. Flashes of his previous encounter in the forest. Images of a cloaked figure bent over a unicorn… Harry was running with his trunk dragging behind him, stumbling over roots. He made his was almost blindly in the dim light into the wood searching for a place to hide. It was silly. Voldemort had left when Quirrell died, Dumbledore had told him so. But then he'd also been told there was no safer place than Hogwarts.
When his brain kicked back in and his fight or flight reflex began to fade Harry came to a stop. His chest heaved and his legs shook. His body had not been ready for that. Harry turned and sat on his trunk, collecting himself. You can't run off like a rabbit at every little sound, Harry chastised himself. It was true there were things to be wary of in the forest. Running like an idiot through the trees dragging a heavy trunk was a surefire was to alert anything menacing lurking nearby that Harry was there.
Rolling his eyes Harry tugged at his trunk and turned it around to head back. He glanced up and froze. Where was the lake? Where was it? Green eyes roamed the trees and brush surrounding him, desperately looking for something familiar. For a sign of where he'd come from. But the ground here was covered in low sturdy grass and weeds, and each tree looked the same as any other. He let go of his trunk and walked a few steps forward. No tracks from his trunk nor his shoes. No broken brush or twigs where he'd gone past. Be he had to have come from that way. Or maybe… Harry turned around. That way?
"Oh come on." Harry groaned.
He kicked at a small rock spitefully. The second year was going to be in enough trouble as it was. The longer he took more likely the trouble would increase with it. Oh and Hermione would be so very cross. Harry sighed thinking of the speech he was bound to get from McGonagal as well. He allowed himself to feel sorry for himself just a bit longer then returned to his trunk determinedly. Best to head back where he thought he'd come from and cross his fingers, really. He'd have more luck that way than just standing there anyway.
That's when the sound returned. A creeping whisper. Harry's head whipped around, eyes darting through the trees. His heart banged against his chest and the hairs of his arms rose up on end.
He was lost, but he wasn't alone.
"If you don't hunt it down and kill it, it will hunt you down and kill you."
― Flannery O'Connor
AN: Thoughts? Comments? Theories? Limericks?
ANx2: Too bad there aren't any wizarding survival classes…
Ever Yours, Pseu