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CHAPTER ONE


The man was out cold.

Draco Malfoy sat on his chest, looking down at him. Well, he thought, my head is surprisingly clear considering I had just slipped and fallen from an old tree and had the lucky fortune to land upon such a dastardly auror.

He did remember seeing the man walking up the trail as if he had the right to be there. He remembered pulling his dagger, since his wand had long been destroyed when Voldemort was defeated and the ministry decided to rid of anyone who's ever been assorted with Voldemort, never mind if there was a dark mark on their arm or if they were spies. The ministry wasn't taking any more chances of an uprising and that was bad news for him, being a Malfoy and all.

He remembered thinking that the man looked eerily familiar. He even remembered taking a step onto a lower branch so he could leap on top of him at the exact perfect moment. The problem was, he never remembered the exact perfect moment.

He leaned closer, his dagger clutched in one fist, and scowled at the auror, trying to look mean, arrogant and cunning all at once—trying to look like the Slytherin he is.

He searched the auror's face for signs of a trick. He couldn't take the chance of letting his guard down and finding out that the man was really awake.

He placed the blade of his dagger close to the man's neck.

The man didn't move.

Was he dead? he thought.

He bounced on top of the man a couple of times.

The man's breath came out in a soft woosh.

He watched the man closely—very closely.

The man slowly inhaled in that shallow even way when those asleep or unconscious might.

He pressed the point of his dagger against the man's neck.

If he moved, he would stab him.

He looked around for signs of more aurors knowing that raids have come too often around here. Finding none, he gave a snort of disgust that aurors have become too confident in their raids doing it alone.

He leaned a bit closer, until his nose was almost touching his. The nagging feeling that this man was familiar swept by him. The auror's breath was soft and warm, as if he'd had just eaten an apple. That thought reminded him that he was so very hungry and why he had actually came up with this plot in the first place.

With his free hand, he searched the auror's upper body in case he had something to eat tucked away.

No apple. No bread. No cheese. No nothing. He did, however, find a wand. He tucked it in his robes for safekeeping.

Sighing, he leaned down and gave him a look that was as powerful as Avada Kedavra. He swiped the hair off the man's cheek so he could look at the auror's face and send curses with his steely grey eyes.

He stopped suddenly, seeing the man's face. Now he knew why this auror had been familiar.

It was Harry bloody Potter!

He looked at Potter's forehead where a bump was slowly starting to form right beside his ever so famous lightning bolt shaped scar. He rubbed his own forehead and winced. He'd knocked heads with him. He supposed that fact might delight his father, since he'd often commented on ways for him to put his hard head to good use.

Potter's shoulder was broad and his hair was sticking up in all places just as it had always been. It seemed time never did tame that jet-black hair. His face, however, had changed, not to mention he had grown taller, much taller. The child-like features were gone and were replaced with a square-jaw and strong manly features.

He thought bitterly with a pout of his own face that never quite reached the strong manly features puberty had given Potter and his height that stopped growing all too soon. Instead, he was stuck with prominent cheekbones and small lips and 'delicate' features Zabini have pointed out every bloody time some muggle mistook him for a girl.

Stupid blind idiotic muggles! Robes weren't dresses!

Potter exhaled again. Potter's breath swept across his lips and nose snapping him out of his train of thought.

His belly growled. He knew hunger well, knew that it made people do things that they might not do otherwise. Ever since the ministry has been on the hunt bringing every suspected death eater in Azkaban, he'd been on the run. Moving in the muggle world knowing it would be what the ministry least expects.

He looked at Potter long and hard to see if he was really awake. But his breathing was evenly shallow, so he relaxed.

A twig cracked in the woods near his right.

He froze. His grip tightened on his dagger. Without moving his head, he cast a sly look to the right, then to the left.

He recognized the familiar mutter and rolled his eyes. Not more than a second later it sounded as if someone were swimming through the nearby bushes.

'Swimming or drowning in them.' Draco thought with a snort.

"Goyle!" Draco called out.

"Yeah! It's me. I'm stuck." It sounded as if a team of Hippogriffs were tramping through the woods.

Draco waited.

Gregory Goyle stumbled out of the bushes, twisting this way and that, mumbling and spinning while he tried to free himself and his robes from a thick bush.

Draco didn't know whether to laugh at him or yell at him.

Finally free, Goyle turned and walked to Draco's side. He knelt beside the man, leaned over and peered down at him. After a moment he turned and looked at Draco, fidgeting nervously.

"Er… Draco… that looks a lot like Potter. Scar and all. " he said anxiously, "Is… Is he dead?"

Draco rolled his eyes as he slid his dagger back into his belt. "Yes, Goyle. That is Potter. No, he's not dead. Only knocked senseless. A proper state for him I might say."

Goyle wasn't laughing with him. He looked as if he was about to run back to Blaise and Pansy with fresh tales of Draco's latest mistake, not that there were many of course.

Draco reached out and placed his palms on either side of Goyle's head. He turned it so he could speak into Goyle's left ear since he's right was almost deaf because of an explosion in the war sometime ago. "Lucky for us, Gregory Goyle, that Potter is out cold, since you've just made enough noise for Voldemort to hear us."

Goyle frowned, and slightly winced from Voldemort's name. "But You-Know-Who is dead."

"My point exactly."

Goyle stared at him, confused. He said as realization dawned on him, "Oh. I was very loud, huh? My robe got caught."

"You were suppose to stay hiding in the broom bush until I called for you."

"I was hiding in a bush."

"Not where I told you to hide."

"But I was worried about you."

"Worried about me? Now why would you be worrying about me?"

"He's bigger than you, Draco."

Draco poked a finger in Goyle's chest.

"This oaf!" He turned away and crossed his arms in disgust. "I can't believe you thought I couldn't take him."

"Well, I was worried because you screamed so loud I even heard it in my right ear."

"Are you implying that I scream like a frightened woman? Me? Hah! I would never!" Draco waved a hand in the air as if his throat weren't still raspy and sore, as if he hadn't screamed bloody murder when he fell. "You needn't be worrying yourself about me. The blood of ancient purebloods runs through my veins. I am a Malfoy."

"I thought you broke something."

"If I did, I hope it was Potter's neck." He laughed and laughed. He did think that it was quite amusing.

Goyle, however, was still not laughing.

"Oh come on Goyle! It's just Potter and I'm fine." Draco faced him. "I promise you nothing will go wrong this time."

Goyle looked at him as if he had just promised to become the next minister.

"He's Potter, Goyle. Harry Potter. Boy-who-lived. The one who defeated Voldemort. The ministry's Golden boy. The wizarding's Hero! Look at his scar."

"I can see that he's Potter, Draco. I'm not doubting that. I just believe that you think everything will be all right, but there's a difference between what you think, Draco, and what actually happens." Goyle's expression grew sour.

Draco tried to stand. Something stopped him and he landed back on Potter's chest with a thud!

His robe was caught underneath Potter. He reached around and grabbed it, then tugged so fiercely he could feel his face turn red.

A moment later there was a loud rip.

"Damn Potter! When did he get so bloody big!" he murmured through clenched teeth as he wadded up more fabric in his fist and pulled again.

"Do you think he'll wake up soon?" Goyle asked.

Draco finally got the plaid out from beneath Potter. "I don't care if he never wakes up."

He stood and planted his feet on either side of Potter's waist. A pose of the conqueror over the conquered, he thought smugly.

He stared down at Potter. Draco was oddly quiet for a couple of minutes for a brilliant plot had just popped into his head. He grinned and resisted the urge to rub his hands together in wicked glee.

"I know that look, Draco! Blaise and Pansy aren't going to be happy about that." Goyle backed away as if he was facing a monster. "You've got another idea haven't you? That look was what Blaise and Pansy warned me about."

"Wait!" Draco ran around and blocked Goyle's huge frame. "This isn't an idea, it's a plot. A very good, very brilliant fiendish plot."

"That's what you always say." Goyle said as he tried to side step around him.

Draco grabbed his arm. "Listen."

Goyle gave a resigned sigh and looked at Draco.

"There shall be no little ransom for the Golden Boy."

"What are you thinking?"

"Well, he's Harry Potter, isn't he? There's going to be someone who'll miss him." Draco said in anticipation.

"You can't seriously be thinking of asking the ministry for ransom. They'll send us to Azkaban if they even catch a glimpse of us. What would they do if they found out we've kidnapped the Harry Potter?" Goyle asked terrified and shocked.

"We're not going to ask the ministry for ransom, Goyle." Draco said amusedly, "We'll ask his friends, the mudblood and weasel. Surely, they know that Potter wouldn't want to be put in the spotlight. And they wouldn't even think of contacting the ministry if they want Potter in good condition. Besides, they're Gryffindors and, not to mention, the Golden Trio. They wouldn't ask for help. They'll go blindly into trouble before even considering the ministry or anyone for that matter. I'll not let this opportunity pass."

"I don't know, Draco…" Goyle looked as if the sky were about to fall down. On him.

"It's a plot, Goyle. Not just some idea that popped in my head."

"This doesn't sound like a fine idea... I mean plot." Goyle said hesitantly.

"Goyle. Tell me why you do not see it."

"See what?"

"Fate's plan. Right here before our very eyes."

Goyle looked completely confused, which Draco figured was a good thing.

"Think about it. I fell at the exact moment Potter was walking past. Surely you…" He paused placing a hand over his heat innocently. "you would not have me question the hands of fate? I fell right on top of him. What else could it be but destiny?"

"Clumsiness?"

Draco waved a hand. "You might think that, but remember what Trelawney said. If it is fate's will, then one should and could not fight it. The way I see it, I was supposed to fall on Potter. We are supposed to ransom him. You cannot say there will be trouble when this is fate's plan instead of something I just dreamed up."

Goyle stared at Draco in complete silence, then turned and looked at Potter. He turned toward Draco and stared as if the truth would be written on his face. Draco resisted the urge to laugh and crossed his arms over his chest and raised an eyebrow. He knew those Divination lessons Goyle kept on insisting they take would come in handy someday.

Fates? Hah!

"Well? You would surely not oppose Fate's plan, would you?"

Goyle shook his head vigoursly.

"I thought not." Draco moved a step closer to Potter.

Goyle frowned at him. "How do you do that?"

"Do what?"

"Manage to twist your argument until you make sense?"

"It's a gift from God." Draco answered over one shoulder as he knelt beside Potter and struggled to push him onto his side. He grunted to Goyle, "Come, and help me push him over."

Draco noted sourly that Goyle didn't struggle like he did.

'I just lack the exercise.' He justified silently.

"Hand me the rope, Goyle."

Goyle pulled out a rope from inside his robe and gave it to Draco.

"What are you going to do with that?"

Draco looked at him incredulously, "I'm going to bind him with it. Come, now. Help me."

"How?"

"Grab that broken branch and clobber him if he moves."

"What broken branch?"

"The one that's lying next to him."

"That branch? Me?" Goyle took two steps back.

"Yeah."

"What if I kill him?"

"You won't."

Goyle look unsure as he grabbed the branch.

"You guard him while I try to tie this rope around him." Draco started to roll Potter over. "Remember, Goyle. If he so much as opens an eye, clobber him."

Too bad both the Slytherins were oblivious to the fact that Harry Potter was never out cold in the first place.


TBC…


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