The Match and the Spark

All characters belong to J. K. Rowling.

Prologue

There was blood trickling warmly down his forehead and over his cheek. No matter how many times he wiped at it, it continued to flow. The muscles in his legs burned as he scrambled uphill, hauling himself up with his hands over rocky outcrops, and dodging the tree roots that seemed aimed at tripping him up. He would not falter now.

His wand—he needed his wand.

He knew he did not have it. It was lying somewhere amongst the debris of Hogwarts. It was useless to kick himself over it, but he swore viciously, nevertheless, for the umpteenth time—he would not be able to Apparate now.

The climb continued upwards, but he would not give up. He was without his wand, but all was not lost. He knew exactly where he could go. How he would get there, he was unsure. He supposed he could keep an eye out for some unsuspecting Muggle that might come along in one of those car things. First, though, he would need to find a road.

How long he'd been running, he had no idea, but every muscle in his body seemed to be protesting now, and he had to slump against a rock, breathing deeply. A moment's rest, he could allow himself that much. He dared to look behind him, and there, across the valley, looming out of the side of the mountain, were the smoking turrets of Hogwarts.

He felt like laughing—a wild laugh of abandon. They'd never catch him now. It would probably be a while before they even noticed he was not amongst the dead or captured, and by the time they did, he'd be long gone. He will have escaped the net—one of the very few to do so. He'd fled past so many of his fallen comrades during his flight from the stricken castle that he had to wonder if he would be the only one to do so.

He pushed himself to his feet, wiping the blood off his cheek with his sleeve. He needed his wand. Still, the fact that he'd lost his wand might, in time, work in his favour, and besides, no doubt he could get his hands on another one soon.

He struggled on mercilessly, and eventually the terrain, to his relief, began to flatten. He paused once more and rubbed his blistered hands on his robes, taking several exhausted breaths. He was in an area of woodland now, and he moved carefully between the trees until he stood looking over a verge. There was now a clear view of what lay before him. It did not fill him with relief. The prospect was miles and miles of jagged, bleak mountains. He scanned the horizon helplessly; which direction to choose? Would it matter?

He needed to find the nearest Muggle settlement. It was ironic, but they would provide his cover for the time being.

But who knew how far away safety lay? And with darkness descending…

Winding through the valley below, he noticed, was the railway line. That, at least, would be a path to follow, for now.

There was nothing for it, except to give up there and then, and that was not an option. He took to his heels once more and headed onwards. The Dark Lord might be defeated, but he would not be. He would not stand trial like some common criminal. He would not be thrown into Azkaban to rot for all time.

It was all working out in his head, already. His plan—his deception. First, he just needed some shelter.

He smiled as he ran.

It would all be so terribly easy.