Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Summary: A Death Eater meets an Auror in a forest...
Author's Note: Inspired by the 23 November 2003 word on the 15minuteficlets livejournal community. Any canon goofs, grammar mistakes, continuity errors, implausible characterizations, boring passages, and Americanisms are entirely my fault. (And yes, this was written in November of 2003, long before HBP was published.)
The incantation was soft, the voice level and flat. Draco, caught halfway through spinning to face his opponent, fell awkwardly on his side. Booted feet moved into his reduced field of vision.
The man nudged Draco's shoulder with his foot, rolling him onto his back, and squatted down on the forest floor. Green eyes stared calmly at him, masked behind those infernal glasses. Potter. He should have known.
"Hello, Malfoy," said Potter, plucking Draco's wand from his frozen hand.
Draco forced a small hiss from his paralyzed lungs.
Potter's mouth twitched. "Yes, I'm sure you'd love to have me in your position," he said. "But you don't. Now listen carefully, because this is a one-time offer.
"I hate you, and I'm sure you hate me too. But as far as I know you haven't killed anyone for Voldemort yet, and I don't feel right killing someone I know just for being a rotten bastard and a daddy's boy.
"So. You have three options. One, I leave you here with a marking spell and the other Aurors take you into custody. You know what they do to Death Eaters. Two, I let you go, you try to stab me in the back, and I kill you. Three, I let you go and you do what I tell you."
Potter rocked back on his heels. "What do you say, Malfoy? Blink once for option one, twice for options two or three. The spell's weak enough to let you move that much."
Draco fumed. He was not a daddy's boy! Just because his father had served the Dark Lord didn't mean that Draco hadn't made his own choices. And he would be damned before he'd ever give Potter any satisfaction.
But he didn't want to die. And his death here wouldn't do the cause any good. His capture would be even worse. What other options did he have? Potter had his wand, and he'd always been a better duelist anyhow, damn him.
Draco blinked. Twice. And when Potter loosed the spell, he took the offered hand and let the other wizard raise him to his feet, not reaching for his wand even as Potter slipped it into Draco's pocket.
"You realize I'm going to escape," he said.
"Yes," said Potter. His mouth twitched again. "I suppose I'd feel a bit lost without knowing you were out there, hating me." He held out an acorn. "Portkey. Go."
Draco stared hard at Potter, searching for deception in the green eyes. "You're still a bastard," he said, and reached forward.
As their hands clasped, the acorn whirled him away.
AN: Thank you for reading, and please review! I welcome all comments, but I'm particularly interested in learning what parts of the story worked for you, what parts didn't, and why.
Special Notice! Nekare has remixed this story for Remix Redux IV. Her story, "Lesson Number Two (The Open My Eyes Remix)", elaborates on my bare-bones scenario and offers glimpses at Harry's more complex motives. You can find it posted at: remix . illuminatedtext . com / dbfiction . php ? fiction(underscore)id(equals)440