The sounds of multiple people apparating from the direction of the street shook Harry from his thoughts. He ducked down below the kitchen countertops next to the cabinets and counted to three before chancing a peek above it. With a delicate hand gesture, he used magic to adjust the curtain that hid window above the sink. A group of Aurors – he could tell by their standard issue navy blue robes – had gathered in the driveway, their wands just visible beneath their sleeves.

'I knew it had been too easy,' Harry thought. 'Stupid, stupid Potter. You should have left the moment you arrived.'

He crouched back down and mentally ran through the list of spells he had learned to do without a wand. Glamours, summoning charms, unlocking charms, finite incantatem… all no good. This would be interesting.


Harry barely heard the light creak of main entrance door opening, but he definitely heard the shuffling of many pairs of feet entering the house. Then the footsteps all stopped. They couldn't have gotten any farther than the entranceway, unless they had used a charm to muffle the sound. And a bloody good charm that was, too. What Harry would give to have a wand! But he quickly realized that they had not used any such charm, as soft murmuring met his ears. The words were unintelligible from the distance of the kitchen, but Harry could tell that they must have stopped in the entryway to talk amongst themselves. It was odd that they had not yet moved in on him. He removed his shoes to minimize the sound of his own footsteps and moved closer to where the Aurors had gathered, taking extra care to stay low and in the shadows of the walls. He strained to hear what they were saying, but he only caught snippets of different voices that all seemed to be whispering to each other at once.

"...ought to just come out and tell him..."

"...waiting for... hurry up... going to escape... again..."

"...no wand... not even a 5th Year... place surrounded... no way out..."

The more he listened, the less these people sounded like Aurors.

'In fact,' Harry thought, 'they sound quite like the Order. Never could get their shit together, that group.' He thought of their many bumbling, failed attempts at capturing him in almost fond reminiscence. He was half tempted to come out of his hiding place and invite them all inside for tea, just to see what would happen.

Except, they did make a good point: they had him. He'd never been cornered in a building before – all his prior encounters with Aurors and the Order had always been outdoors, for some reason or another. Then again, they probably didn't have the entire house surrounded. The Order had always had a very loose definition of "surrounded," which usually meant, "We've got one man at every door." But he didn't need to take out all of them – it only takes one door (or window) to get out. Harry nodded to himself with new resolve. He could get out of this. He just had to get outside.

A woman's voice calling, "Harry!" quickly followed by an equally loud "Shh!" brought his mind back to the present. The feet were shuffling again, and it sounded like they were spreading out. He berated himself for getting lost in his thoughts yet again. He knew better than to allow that to happen, and this time, there might be serious consequences. He heard footsteps nearing his hiding spot. There was no way he wouldn't be seen at this point – he just needed to find a way out of the house. Harry made the blink decision to make a run for it, away from the direction of the footsteps.

"Hey! There he is!" a man's voice yelled. "Quick, stun him! Stun him!"

Harry barely had time to register that the man's voice sounded strikingly familiar as all the footsteps seemed to change directions at once, coming after him. Harry took the stairs four at a time and dashed into the nearest room, with just happened to be his old bathroom. The window would be the perfect way out, and he ran up to it. Locked. The Order was following him up the stairs. They seemed to be taking their time, and were all talking now, phrases like, "Where was he?" and, "I don't see him, do you?" or, "Had to use the loo, I s'pose!"

He couldn't concentrate to use Alohomora!, and now it was too late – he could feel them right behind him. He stared out of the window at his almost escape, and braced himself for the attack.

Then another female voice from behind the others said, "No, don't stun him! Harry!"

A hush pervaded the group, and they all fell quiet. Harry saw no other choice but to turn and face them, and he was greeted with a substantially different Hermione Granger pushing her way to the front of the group of vaguely familiar faces. Once she got there, she just stood and looked at him, her eyes big as an owl's.

"Harry," she repeated, and reached out a hand, palm up. Out of reflex more than any sort of emotion, though he felt many at the moment, he shifted backward and pressed his back as far as it would go into the window. He stared at Hermione's hand, that seemed to wait for him to take it. He didn't understand – what was she doing? Why hadn't they attacked him by now? Why was everyone just standing in a group at the threshold of the bathroom, gazing wide-eyed into the cramped space as though there were some invisible barrier holding them out?

Then, as if to prove that there was indeed no barrier, Hermione took a step forward into the bathroom. She looked about to say something else to him, but she was interrupted by a quiet pop! of apparation and the appearance of a man between them.

Harry decided that he must be dreaming, because there in front of him stood his school nemesis Draco Malfoy dressed in muggle denims. The people outside the bathroom seemed just as shocked as Harry was, because they all erupted into shouts. Harry watched absentmindedly as Malfoy put up what appeared to be a shield charm, blocking everything that the Order threw at him.

Then he turned to Harry and said with the same old smirk that Harry remembered so well, "Sorry I'm late, Potter. Shall we?"

Without waiting for a response, Malfoy grabbed Harry's arm tight and yanked it until the next thing he knew, everything went black; he was being pressed very hard from all directions; he could not breathe, there were iron bands tightening around his chest; his eyeballs were being forced back into his head; his eardrums were being pushed deeper into his skull and then – (1)

Harry bent at the waist, bracing himself on his knees, and he gulped great lungfuls of air, unable to stop himself from dry heaving. He kept his eyes fixed to the black and white marble floor beneath his feet, and tried to catch his breath. Malfoy moved to stand beside him, and all Harry could see was a pair of trainers that looked particularly out of place with the decor. He straightened up and let his eyes follow up from the trainers to the jeans, to the t-shirt, to the baseball cap, and the one raised eyebrow beneath it.

Malfoy said, "You look like shit. I forget that you must have never Apparated before. Well, welcome to Malfoy Manor, Potter."


A/N: Yeah, yeah, I know it's short. But we're finally getting somewhere! Aren't you happy? Please review. Suggestions welcome.

(1) Apparation description taken from Half Blood Prince, American edition, page 58