Into the Lightening
A/N: Disclaimer-I do not own nor make any profit from this hobby of writing HP fanfic!
Introduction: What if Harry was so sick of the wizarding world after he defeated Voldemort that he decided to disappear? What if he had fled so that no one would see the extent of his powers and whisper that he was now destined to be the next Dark Lord? What if Severus had not really died in the Shrieking Shack, but had also left Britain to find peace and freedom? What if they ended up in the same place?
Harry landed flat on his back, the wind knocked out of him so that it felt like an absolute impossibility that he could inhale. A puff of dirt flew into his face and he closed his eyes tightly, rolling his head to the side as another cloud of dirt rained down. Dimly, he heard shouting around him and then hands were on his shoulders. The hands didn't try to move him, but rather held him still as a voice close to his head said, "Easy there, Zag. They got old Steamer away. Just lay there until the doc can check ya out."
Harry finally sucked in a deep breath into the empty lungs, but felt the tell-tale sharp pain of broken ribs when he did so. Wincing and biting back a moan he pieced together the last few moments. He had taken a dare, a bet really, that he couldn't stay on the meanest bull in the pen for the required 8 seconds. Steamer was a rangy, black and brown short horn that had gotten his name from the way he pawed the ground and snorted whenever a human got too close to his females. In the winter, this sent clouds of steam up around his snout. The thought that this non-magical animal might beat him at last was just too irresistible.
The men around him had cat-called and goaded him, making his decision to ride the bull easy. The dusty wild feel of the animal beneath his thighs had been heady, recalling a different creature long ago, bucking and trying to kill him. That creature had felt of cold smooth scales and Harry had managed to slay it. He kept thinking his 'luck' should run out. But so far it held as true in the muggle world as in the magical one. He always seemed to survive the dares, the brawls, the reckless forays into dangerous waters.
New hands were on him now. "Zag? Hey boy! Open your eyes and let me see 'em," a harsh voice commanded.
Harry slowly forced himself to open his eyes, wincing at the new pain in his head when he did so. A light was shown into them, rough thumbs holding the eyelids open.
The light was taken away and Harry closed his eyes again, focusing on making his arms and legs obey his command to sit up. The hands held him down. "Stay still… do you have pain in your neck?"
Harry couldn't answer that, now could he, if they wouldn't let him move. He winced again when he tried to shrug his shoulders. Over his head he could hear the loud voice cursing at the men hovering around in a crowd. He knew it was the man they all called 'Doc', although the man wasn't really a doctor, but a gray man who had seen a few tours of duty as a marine medic.
"You idiots! You think it's funny to goad a man to ride a bull like Steamer when he's not much more than a greenhorn? Does the phrase reckless endangerment mean nothing to you worthless fuckers? Do you all have bullshit for brains?"
Hands picked his hands up and squeezed. "Squeeze my fingers, boy, hard as you can."
Harry obeyed and the hands went to his neck, fingers probing gently along the nape of his neck, before moving to his feet. "Get his boots off," the voice commanded.
Harry was mildly alarmed when he didn't feel the movements of his legs as the boots were removed. It felt vague and distant, like his tooth had that time he had gone to a muggle dentist. For a moment his thoughts went to Hermione, and the grief he felt at her death. He had gone to a dentist when he had a toothache, wanting to know what it was that her parents had done for a living, needing to feel some kind of connection to that family, even if it was to go to an American dentist for a root canal.
He felt the numb tug as his bare foot was raised. "Feel that, Zag?"
Harry winced again as he tried to shake his head. Another voice over his head spoke in a whisper, although it was a loud and rough whisper, "Keep your head still. Do not move your neck."
Harry agreed and stopped trying to move. Fingers pried his eyes open again and the newest voice rasped, "Left pupil is dilating. He has a concussion."
Doc spoke, "…no response to his feet. Get the neck brace…"
Harry forced his eyes open and looked up. Deep black eyes in a weathered tan face met his. He stared, his left eye watering. Vaguely, he knew he should be worried by now, but the eyes were familiar in a way that gave him a sense of peace.
He whispered, "I knew eyes like yours once… mean bastard… "Then he felt the pull of unconsciousness, as random thoughts crowded his brain. Maybe bull riding hadn't been a good dare to take. It would be about right for his luck to turn just enough for him to be paralyzed but alive. On the other hand, maybe he had finally found the one thing that he couldn't come back from. Maybe it was finally his turn for the next great adventure. Maybe he would see Sirius again, and Hermione, and Remus and Tonks… so many to see… meet his mum and dad…
Above him, shocked black eyes blinked rapidly. How in the seven depths of hell was it possible to go to all the trouble to hide so deep in the muggle world…only to end up right in Potters lap? Maybe because this was one of those depths of hell?
Doc was speaking rapidly. "Come on Yank. You're supposed to know what's what. Hold his neck while I get this on him."
Doc eased the thick brace around Harry's neck, securing it with that curious material they called 'velcro'.
The other men that Doc had been cursing had brought out a long narrow board and they laid it next to Harry, alongside his body. Doc arranged his arms so that they crossed over his chest and held them while three of them rolled Harry's body as one unit so that the board was slid under him and he was laid back down on top of it. They wound thick canvas straps around and again used velcro connections to secure Harry in place.
They lifted him at the three count and Severus Prince followed behind Doc as they carried Harry up to the big ranch house.
A/N: My Muse will not give me peace until I post this first chapter. Your response will tell me if I should do more. I actually have it almost complete, as it was my NaNoWri Mo project for 2010. It's different, and many elements have been researched as I wrote them. I will not claim to be an expert in the cattle industry, Native American Lore, etc. I manipulated the information in as factual way as possible. In the interest of entertainment please remember that this is fiction, AU HP, and therefore I can do it like I want to! Thank you for reading!