Disclaimer: HP ain't mine, oy. I make no money. Ever. I am, in fact, a hobo.
This fic is entirely for my own amusement; I offer no apologies. DON'T JUDGE ME. Erm. Beta'd by Dress-Without-Sleeves, so any lingering errors are totally her fault. (Just kidding, don't kill me, please, eurgh, I die, I die, see how I die...) Oh, and thanks for the reviews! Couldn't survive without 'em.
Don't know when I'll update again; assume it'll be before the end of April. (Only a month or so before my birthday! Yayness! So…who wants to buy me expensive presents?) Anywho, this may or may not become HarryDraco. The original plan was for it to be HD, but they keep snarling at each other. My characters never cooperate. Le sigh.
Chapter Two: How To Infuriate The One Thing Between You and Certain Death (For Dummies)
Every hero has his or her own particular helpers. The Mentor, the Side-Kick, the Significant Other – all of these are there to help you, the hero, in one way or another. Heroes are, under no circumstance, to alienate one of the aforementioned helpers. When it comes to teamwork, harmony is obviously the key to success: the people who keep a hero grounded and/or alive are the people he or she should appreciate most. Please keep in mind:
1) Mentors do have valuable wisdom to impart, even if they at first seem to be little more than candy-crazed fortune cookies on legs;
2) Friends who can remind you that you're merely human are not to be underestimated, no matter how emotionally dense said friends might be;
3) Anyone willing to help you out of a dangerous situation should receive proper gratitude; a hero simply cannot take assistance for granted. Baiting one's rescuer is not only in bad taste – it's deplorably stupid.
4) Most importantly: knowledgeable and bookish friends are to be worshiped, loved, and paid exorbitant amounts for their valuable services to the world.
-Hermione Granger's Guide to Practical Heroics
Somehow – to Harry's considerable surprise – Malfoy had revived him and even healed him up fairly well by shoving what felt like an entire apothecary down his throat. Most of Harry's minor aches and pains had vanished completely, and his broken and fractured bones, while agonizing, were already beginning to knit themselves up. His shoulders were stiff and sore, but at least they didn't feel like they were on fire anymore; his various gashes and cuts had scabbed over, and his head was slowly beginning to clear.
Harry still felt somewhat dazed, though that was mostly because, against all expectations, Malfoy had actually managed to break him out of both his chains and Voldemort's Manor. The Slytherin had had a portkey on hand, a crumbling old book written in a language Harry had never before seen. It brought them both to the outskirts of what looked like a small but prosperous Muggle town.
Harry staggered into Malfoy with a grunted, "Oomph". He didn't move away from his rescuer once he'd regained his balance, and fortunately Malfoy didn't protest. He was certainly doing loads better than he had been back in that cellar dungeon, but his entire body was still throbbing with pain and he felt uncomfortably weak-kneed. If he tried standing on his own – well, Harry was fairly certain that not much actual standing would be involved.
They were on the side of an empty road, near a stand of some rather skimpy snow-laden trees that looked like they'd bend in two at the slightest hint of a breeze. Snow lay in heaps all around them, though the road was mostly clear of it. Harry shivered, and Malfoy pulled out his wand and cast warming charms on both of them. Harry almost thanked the boy, before he was struck by the realization that he was wandless, and thus entirely at Malfoy's mercy.
He shivered again. The sky was just beginning to lighten from midnight black to an early morning navy blue, and Malfoy's hair blazed silver in the pale moonlight, kind of like a unicorn's mane or tail. Harry's lips twitched at the thought, but he managed not to laugh out loud. Malfoy was many things, but he was pretty sure 'pure' wasn't one of them.
"Huh," he muttered in bemusement, forcing himself to focus on more important matters than his former classmate's hair. "You'd think Voldemort would be smart enough to put up anti-Portkey wards."
"He did," Malfoy said, rather breathless from supporting most of Harry's weight. It was decidedly odd, Harry thought, to be leaning on his school rival (he refused to acknowledge that he was, in reality, clinging more than leaning), and even more so to have said rival's arm about his waist. Very, very odd, and more than mildly disturbing. "Severus managed to disrupt them somehow. He'll arrange matters so it looks like I'm solely to blame; better to have one traitor than two. This way he can still be useful."
Harry couldn't help stiffening angrily at the sound of his former teacher's name, but he remained otherwise unresponsive to the revelation that Snape was involved in his rescue. He should've figured – Malfoy wouldn't have risked a rescue on his own. Snape'd probably brewed the healing potions, too, considering how powerful (and disgusting) they'd been. Nasty to the last drop.
Malfoy shot him a curious look, apparently startled by his lack of immediate shouting, screaming, and carrying-on at the news that his escape had been partially due to Severus Snape – a man he supposedly thought evil. "You don't seem very surprised that he would help you," the Slytherin said cautiously.
Harry shrugged one shoulder, and immediately regretted it as pain shot through his damaged torso. "Got a letter from Dumbledore. After the funeral," he muttered haltingly as they began to walk down the road towards the town. Or hobble, in Harry's case. Either way, the effort of movement left him barely able to form full sentences, which was annoyingly embarrassing, given Malfoy's usual eloquence. "Said Snape was following orders."
"Does that mean you won't attempt to hunt him down and kill him, now?" Malfoy asked wryly, an elegant eyebrow quirked in inquiry.
Harry clenched his jaw, then sighed and said, "Won't hunt him down to kill him." Malfoy nodded, satisfied.
"Just hunt him down to kick him," Harry continued darkly, as they paused long enough for him to get his breath back. "Very hard. In the balls. Wonder what he'd sound like as a soprano. Can a soprano's voice be oily? Snape's voice is as oily as his hair. You could use it for lube."
Malfoy blanched, when winced as Harry stumbled over a stone and nearly toppled the two of them over. "Potter," he said, sounding vaguely ill, "you're disturbed."
"Like you're one to talk," Harry said sourly. "At least I don't go prancing around on people's faces."
"You know, a little gratitude might not – "
"I don't owe you anything." Harry's voice was quiet, but no less vicious for it. It occurred to him that he should probably at least wait until he had a wand before angering a fellow wizard, but he'd never let good sense stop him before.
Malfoy ground to a halt and forcefully shoved Harry away. Harry wavered and fell to his knees in the snow, but managed not to collapse completely to the ground. He tried very hard not to vomit at the sudden motion and accompanying pain, but some things can't be helped.
It was entirely accidental that the resulting spew ended up decorating Malfoy's shoes. Really.
"Okay," Harry allowed hoarsely, wiping at his mouth and trembling with the force of his reaction. "Maybe now I owe you. New shoes, if nothing else."
Malfoy looked like he was about to burst into frustrated tears, but manfully (or ferretfully) restrained himself. "Potter," he said in a tight, barely-controlled voice, "we are in a very delicate situation. If you cannot restrain your less appealing tendencies…" He trailed off threateningly, arms crossed over his chest.
"You think I have appealing tendencies?" Harry asked, eyebrows migrating north.
Malfoy closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and said, "One."
"One appealing tendency?"
"Two. Three. Four. Five…" He continued this way until he'd reached ten, by which time Harry had managed to struggle to his feet, using a nearby sign post for support.
"Wow. My appealing tendencies apparently multiply by the second. Now I have nearly a dozen."
"I was counting to ten for patience, Potter," Malfoy snarled, having reached the end of his rope only to find it on fire. "Because you're trying mine."
"Nope," Harry said with mock cheer. "Already tried it and found it guilty. So what's the next step of your masterful plan? I'm assuming you have one, of course."
Malfoy didn't grind his teeth, but he looked like he dearly wanted to. Or perhaps that was the expression he wore when he wanted to kill someone – specifically, someone whose name started with an 'H' and ended with 'arry'.
"The next step," he growled, "is to make our way to a pub where Severus said he would meet us sometime tomorrow. The bartender is supposedly a squib sympathetic to your Order of the Phoenix, and we'll be given a room for a night."
"Fantastic," Harry grumbled, reluctantly letting Malfoy once more support him. He hadn't missed the singular 'room' – really, was escape worth a night spent in close quarters with Malfoy? If it got too bad, he supposed he could just beg Voldemort to take him back. That decided, Harry sighed and said, "Well, let's get on with it."
"Do try to restrain your enthusiasm," Malfoy said crankily, and Harry incredulously thought he saw a hint of a pout.
"Oh, I'm gleeful on the inside."
"I hate you."
"Hate you more."
"Shouldn't you not be shouting my name when we're on the run from a murderous psychopath? Just a thought." Harry almost grinned as Malfoy once more went red, but the ferret didn't get a chance to respond – a Muggle jogger was approaching them, dripping sweat and panting.
Harry stared at the Muggle and, out of the corner of his eye, saw Malfoy doing the same. Why would anyone be out before dawn in the middle of December, exercising?
The man neared, eying them curiously – he was no doubt startled to see anyone else up and about at such an ungodly hour, particularly two scruffy-looking teenaged boys in robes.
Draco sniffed, his disdain for the Muggle clear. Harry pointed to Malfoy with the hand not wrapped around the other boy's shoulders and helpfully told the jogger, "He wants you to die."
The man hesitated, staring at them, and then suddenly went from an early morning jogger to early morning run-the-hell-away-er in record time. Harry smiled to himself, pleased, as Malfoy sputtered furiously. "You," the blond snarled once he'd regained some measure of coherence, "are the most idiotic, annoying pest ever Sorted, you stupid cow-brained ass!"
"I'm sorry, did you say something? I got caught up looking at that tree."
"I loathe you."
"But…I have appealing tendencies!"
When on the run, a hero should never be overly visible. Choose a false name if you must interact with others; do not, no matter what, draw attention to yourself or your identity. This is common sense. If you have more than a pea for a brain, you wouldn't even have to read this passage to know that attention is not welcome when you're being chased down by the enemy. And no, Gryffindors, subtlety and cunning are not synonymous with cowardice.
Honestly. You have brains, heroes; use them. I promise it won't hurt.
-Hermione Granger's Guide to Practical Heroics