AN: Firstly, I am SO SO SORRY! I know it's been a million years since I updated anything, and I apologize. I'm hoping to make myself write more, I really do miss it. It's been about 3 years since I actually sat down and wrote anything, can you believe that? High time for an update. Secondly, because I started writing this back before HBP came out, I'm going to stick with the original ideas I had for it, which will make it an AU I realize. But it will just work better without incorporating the canon in HBP and DH. And finally, I'm going to suggest to you all that you go back and reread the story before you continue on with chapter 5, because I know I've made a few changes to some of the chapters between my last proper update and now. Nothing major, but changes none-the-less. And a big thanks to all of you who are still reading and everyone who reviews, even though I've been an awful author and left you in suspense for so long. Faithful readers are hard to come by. So I thank you. Enjoy.
Draco cantered with Armand down Eagle Hawk Run, furious. He and that little trollop Granger had gotten into an argument almost as soon as he had arrived at the stable that morning. What a bitch.
Now here he was, riding out his frustrations. The air was cooler then normal for this point in the end of June, because it had rained the day before. Now the sun remained hidden behind some sparse clouds, and a cool temperature hung around in the humid air.
Draco tried to concentrate on his surroundings, but his mind kept drifting back to the argument he had had with Granger not ten minutes ago.
He had purposely bumped his shoulder into hers as he strode past her, snapping a snobby, "Watch where your going Granger," as he passed. He did this every morning he could, just to annoy her.
Normally, she just brushed him off with a scowl and an eye roll. But some bug must have crawled up her ass that morning, because she flipped.
She told him off in no time, demanding that he better cut the pureblood superiority crap, or she'd hex him into a puddle, Ministry be damned. This proclamation was followed by a rather vigorous spat regarding the difference between his blood and hers. This ended in him being thoroughly annoyed because she just had to bring up the fact that though he may be pureblood, she had still bested him in grades and OWLS, a fact that infuriated him to no end. So he took off, cursing her and detesting stupid mudblood Gryffindors even more.
And now here he was, Armand's smooth canter taking him further into the woods. And then suddenly, they came to a jolting halt, the earth coming up to meet him at an astounding rate.
Draco hit the ground hard, the breath knocked from his lungs and his leg broke with the sickening sound of a gunshot as Armand landed on top of it. It took him a disoriented moment to figure out what had happened. Armand had slipped in the mud caused by the previous day's rain, and both horse and rider had hit the ground, Armand's weight pressing painfully down onto his left leg.
Now Armand was panicking, trying to get back up. Draco cried out in pain as his leg was pressed down on even harder by Armand's shifting weight, before the horse slipped again in the deep mud, landing on Draco's injured leg yet again.
Pain shot through his leg, and he quickly reached out and stroked the horse's neck to try and calm him as best he could, begging that he would stop moving.
After Armand tried and failed several more times to get up, he finally laid down, his head resting in the dense foliage on the side of the trail.
Draco silently thanked all the gods he could think of that Armand had stopped struggling, his mind quickly trying to come up with some sort of plan to get them out of their tricky situation.
His wand wasn't an option, not only because of his age but also because it was tucked his left boot, the one currently being pinned under his horse.
His mind raced through several more possibilities, each one increasingly pathetic, when it finally dawned on him.
Of course! His whistle. Why didn't he think of that in the first place? Sandy insisted that every rider wore a loud whistle around their necks, so that someone could hear them if they were in trouble. Well, now he was in trouble all right. So he fumblingly got his whistle free from under the collar of his shirt, took a deep breath, and starting blowing SOS.
Hermione turned right from Butterfly Trail onto Clayton Pass, still furious with Malfoy. The nerve of him! Acting all high and mighty, strutting around like he owned the place! Well she had had enough!
Ok, so maybe it wasn't so fair to bring up grades. She very rarely used her brains to put someone down, it just didn't seem right. Knowledge shouldn't be flaunted, knowledge should be shared. But Malfoy had just pushed her buttons too far, and she couldn't seem to stop herself. She felt slightly bad about it now, but there was no way she was apologizing to the likes of him.
Suddenly, Hermione heard a faint, far off whistle. She pulled gently back on the reins, stopping Vixen to listen. Three short blasts, three long blasts, three long blasts.
SOS! Someone was in trouble!
Hermione urged Vixen on, not daring to go any faster then a trot on the muddy trails, pulling her own whistle out of her shirt and giving one hard, long, answering blast to let the rider in trouble know she had heard them.
She rode on in the direction of the continuing whistle, hoping she could help.
Still trapped under Armand, Draco stopped blowing for a moment, straining his ears to hear a possible response to his SOS. When he heard none, he tried again, then stopped, waiting.
Yes! An answering whistle! Draco breathed a sigh of relief, then answered them with a long blast on his whistle. Now all he had to do was wait for them to reach him.
Hermione paused; trying to discern which direction the whistles were coming from.
Her left, most definitely, she decided. So they turned left onto Eagle Hawk run, where it junctioned with Apple Grove. As they neared the turn in the trail, the whistling became louder, until it was no longer necessary, she was almost right on top of them.
Finally they came around the bend, and Hermione found the last person she wanted to see lying on the ground, pinned under his horse. He was stuck in at least 5 inches of mud, which was splattered all over his shirt and face, making the normally dignified and proud Slytherin look quite ridiculous.
She couldn't help it; she laughed.
Draco stared shocked at his rescuer. Granger, of all people! And then she laughed! She was actually laughing at his predicament!
"Glad you think a broken leg is funny Granger!" he snapped at her, infuriated.
She sobered quickly, dismounting and tying Vixen securely to a nearby tree. Then she stepped gingerly through the mud towards the fallen rider.
"You're leg or Armand's?" she asked, concerned.
"Mine. Armand's not injured as far as I can tell," he replied.
"Oh, well that's ok then," she said, crouching down and stroking Armand's neck gently, her mind already working on a way to get them both out of the mud.
Draco fumed, and she looked up from Armand to her nemesis, then rolled her eyes at his angry look.
"I was joking Malfoy, lighten up. Or I may very well leave you here to your own devices."
"Just get me the hell out of this Granger," he said, teeth gritted, the throbbing pain in his leg getting progressively worse.
Hermione was thinking, her mind trying ideas on how to get him out of the mud.
"Is your leg still in the stirrup?" she asked.
"I don't know. Probably."
"Hmm," she said thoughtfully, "I think the reason Armand can't get up is your weight. We need you off somehow."
"I'm open to suggestions Granger," he retorted.
She threw him a glare, then continued, "Let's try undoing the saddle and trying to get him up."
Quickly, Hermione unbuckled the girth, making sure it was out of the way.
"Can you pull your leg up so it's not resting against him?" Hermione asked, tapping Draco's non-trapped leg.
Draco did as she requested, fumblingly removing his foot from the stirrup and bending it up and back.
Hermione stepped carefully through the mud to Armand's head, leaned down and grabbed his bridle, gently encouraging the big horse to get up. Slowly and carefully, Armand pulled himself free of the mud, very dirty but no worse for the wear. Hermione led him over to more solid ground, trying him up across from Vixen.
Draco breathed a sigh of relief when his mount's weight was finally off him, his head falling back against the ground, grimacing at the pain still pounding through his injured leg.
"You alright Malfoy?"
Draco opened his eyes to see Hermione bent over him, mild concern creasing her features.
"Oh I'm just swell Granger," he replied sarcastically, "just peachy. I only had a thousand pound Thoroughbred land on and break my leg, but other then that I'm terrific, how 'bout you?"
"I'm sick of your whining. So shut up and hold on to me," she quipped back, taking his arm and putting it around her shoulders, pulling him up.
Draco growled in pain, his leg completely useless as they hobbled out of the mud. Back on solid ground, Hermione wordlessly bound his leg and helped him back onto his horse.
They rode back to the stable in complete silence. Each thinking much but saying nothing.
Though neither one knew it, as they walked their mounts in silence down the trail, this one event would change everything.
Ending notes: I realize that I have no idea how English weather actually behaves. 0o Complete guesswork based on minimal knowledge gained from Harry Potter and other British movies/books/plays, so don't fry me up too badly please. Hopefully I'll be sitting down to write more of TRR soon (but not tonight). Review please, and maybe I'll be inspired to write faster… ::cheeky grin::
Cyber high five if you know what movie I'm making a partial reference to with the name "Clayton" Pass.
So… yeah. Review please!