A/N: Written before Deathly Hallows, no spoilers, blah blah. And yeah, there's something in this which DH proves wrong, but just go with it anyway, it hardly matters. Enjoy!


Cowards.

by Flaignhan.


She sprinted along the seventh floor corridor, wand held loosely in her left hand, cradling her right arm against her chest, biting on her lip to stop herself from crying out in pain. She skidded to a halt at the patch of wall opposite the tapestry of Barnabus the Barmy and walked back and forth in front of it, thinking hard.

I need a place to hide, I need to be safe, I can't help them when I'm like this so I need to hide, give me somewhere safe, please.

She looked up and saw that the door had formed in the blank stretch of wall. She pulled it open and darted inside, sliding the bolt across the door and then turning around.

Looking back, she supposed she should have raised her wand. Even when it was in her left hand, she supposed she would have been able to do something to defend herself. Luckily for her though, she didn't need to, his wand was lying on the table, the wood snapped in half, only the thin piece of dragon heartstring keeping the two pieces together.

He had a nasty cut on his forehead, and there were a few droplets of blood oozing out of it, leaving trails down the side of his face. His grey eyes had a dark look about them, haunted, even old. He was only seventeen yet he looked so much older, the last year being spent doing things she didn't want to think about having taken its toll on him. He gestured for her to sit down in the armchair opposite him, and she did so, teeth still biting painfully into her lip in an attempt to keep her from yelling.

"What's happened to your arm?" he asked, voice completely devoid of malice, bitterness, sarcasm or vindictive pleasure, which surprised her.

"I think it's broken," she said softly, squeezing her eyes shut and arching her back when her arm gave another painful throb. "McNair knocked me over and that bust of Paracelsus fell on top of it."

"Give me your wand," he said quietly. She laughed harshly, despite the pain she was experiencing.

"You've got to be joking!" she replied. "Yeah, I'll just hand over my wand to a Death -"

"Do not finish that sentence, Weasley. Now give me your wand."

"You could just take it quite easily you know," she reasoned.

"That would insinuate that I have no manners. And as I was brought up in a proper fashion, barring the Dark Arts lessons, it would be nothing short of sinful to act in such a way. So I'll ask you for a third time. Give me your wand."

"What are you going to do?" she asked, fingers clenched tightly around the wooden instrument in question. "Are you going to kill me?"

"Do I look like I'm going to kill?" he retorted. He was right, she thought. He did not look like a killer in the slightest. He was a broken teenager who was hiding away from the battle that was going on downstairs. But then again, so was she. They were just a couple of teenagers hiding out in a room far away from the fighting, waiting until it was all over. They liked to think that there was a reason they couldn't fight, but there wasn't, not really.

A broken arm was nothing compared to the injuries she'd seen today. She could make do with her left hand, until she came across someone who could fix her arm for her. But she'd run away. A broken wand wasn't too much hassle either; there were plenty of lifeless bodies downstairs, their wands still held loosely in their hands, he could have chosen from a wide selection. But he'd run away.

She tossed him her wand and he caught it. She didn't even flinch when he pointed it at her, his face expressionless, no emotion whatsoever. She was surprised when he muttered the word "Episki," and her arm seemed to shift back into place, the sharp pain disappearing to be replaced by a very dull ache, so faint that she could only feel it if she concentrated. He tossed the wand back to her and she caught it in her right hand, glad to have her only weapon back in her possession.

"Thanks," she said quietly.

"No problem. Just one coward helping another one out," he said grimly. She pointed her wand at his and the pieces rejoined, the dragon heartstring no longer visible, no cracks in the wood, just one solid wand.

"Thanks."

"Just a coward returning that favour." Neither of them moved. They were both ready to go back outside, him turning left and her turning right as they went back towards the battle. They'd probably duel each other at one point, possibly stun each other to save them from death by another on their side, and then the battle would keep on going, eventually coming to an end.

But neither of them moved.

"Malfoy, I'm too scared to go back out there," she told him, looking him straight in the eye.

"Me too Weasley. But we have to, don't we?"

"Are you going back to him?"

"Not a hope in hell."

"Good."

They waited for a few moments before they finally moved, and he unbolted the door and held it open for her.

If the circumstance were different, she might have thought he was being polite. But as he was sending her out first into a war zone, that opinion was kept at bay.

"After you, Weasley." The corners of his lips twitched slightly, as though restraining a smile.

She smiled and shook her head, walking past him, wand gripped in her hand.

He followed, and they both turned right.


The End.