The Coward

For as long as remembered, long stretches of unmeaning time spread through the chest with an unnoticed warmth. It was only when that warmth disappears that its absence is acknowledged.

It's harsh reality that's floating away from the tips of fingers, and it's slippery and cold. A bar of soap – wet and it's falling and hits the floor with a soft thud or a loud thud or a catastrophic bang, but it's too chaotic to tell as water rushes into the ears and blocks out all whispers and secrets of the world. Now it's only life, breathing, cold, people.

Frightened visage squirms from side to side, looking for a home among the crowd. There's one, and he's so relieved he ignores the sad or angry or hopeless or happy expression adorned on the boy's face. Happiness can only come in reassurance, and this is his last hope.

The trembling boy looks down from the platform, head held high, but inside he's cowering, and the only thing that keeps him from bolting is the look on the familiar face. Eyes are caught, and the two boys stare at each other until the one on the platform has a thick snake coil around his neck. It's hissing and it's slithering and the boy closes his eyes tightly and is dying inside.

But he opens his eyes, determined not to make the late minutes regretful ones. His feet are glued to the floor, but he can't control the shaking. Grey meets silver, ivory meets ebony, in a panicked look – halfway back in the crowd. He's not cowering, the boy thought to himself. He tries to find strength in this, out of this brave young man before him, but, before he gets the chance to try, the ground slips out from under his feet, his eyes close again, ashamed, snap, and there's no air and Harry Potter was never thought of again by Draco Malfoy, a coward.