Small piece of clarification: There are times when I'll use things from the movies instead of the books, because they're more convenient.


"If I didn't know any better, Draco, I'd say you were scared."

"Scared, Potter?" Malfoy scoffed.

A twig snapped. And neither of us had stepped on one. Both of us stopped and looked at each other.

"Did you hear that?" Malfoy asked, his face half-illuminated by the lantern he held in his right hand. His slicked-back hair glimmered by the candlelight. After a long moment of no more twigs, we started walking again. Malfoy took the lead with the lamp.

The enormous trees of the Forbidden Forest towered above like gnarled pillars holding up the night, each ten feet thick or more. The canopy blotted out the stars, leaving Malfoy's lantern the only light save a light splashing of moonlight on the other side of the leaves. The only sound was our footsteps on the dirt. I stepped faster and caught up to Malfoy. Even though standing next to him made my skin crawl, it was better than being in the pitch dark.

It was far too quiet. Nothing was moving except us. No skitterings from the tree branches, no crackling leaves but the ones under our shoes. It struck me right then that there was something strange about that. Was it us that was making everything go quiet as we went by? Maybe.

Or maybe it was whatever had snapped that twig.

The pattern of the trees changed ahead. Malfoy kept on walking, so I didn't falter. I just wanted to make sure I stayed in the little circle of light that the lamp cast. Fang, Hagrid's dog, whined at my side. I shushed him.

Detention. With Malfoy. And one hundred fifty points lost from Gryffindor. That's what we got for our meddling with Hagrid's dragon. Now for our punishment we were wandering around the forbidden forest looking for a dying Unicorn. I wouldn't say anything about it with Malfoy in earshot, but I was a little scared. I mean, we were first years. Hagrid would have kept us safe, sure. But…he had kindof left us to wander by ourselves. Malfoy had already scared Neville and made him throw up red sparks, so I got stuck with Malfoy instead.

We kept walking.

And walking.

I had no idea how much time had passed, now. I was getting really tired.

"Servant stuff," I heard Malfoy grumble.

"Malfoy will you shut up?" I shout whispered at him. He stopped and glared back at me.

"Oh right! Sure!" He snapped. "You think this is all quite normal! That that oaf should be making four first years wander about the Forbidden Forest looking for a bloody, bleeding Unicorn! Oh, and nevermind what made the Unicorn bleed in the first place!"

"Stop calling Hagrid an oaf," I growled, my teeth clenched. "And stop yelling like an idiot. Who knows what's out here?"

"I do!" Malfoy shouted, all caution forgotten. "Werewolves, Acromantula, Trolls! Everything in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that kills Wizards! Frequently!"

"I said shut up!"

"You shut up, Potter!"

We glared at each other, then set off again, shoulder to shoulder, neither of us letting the other get ahead. Fang stayed close by my leg, bumping into it on every other step. I didn't talk to Malfoy again, and he didn't talk to me. Again the only sound was our feet.

We stumbled over roots and tore our way through bushes and brambles. Our cloaks got caught on thorns and got holes torn in them. The flame in Malfoy's lantern was guttering – it was getting harder and harder to see. What were we going to do if –


The lantern went out. We both froze. Malfoy messed with one of the knobs on it.

"Come on, you stupid-" He cursed frantically. The lantern clanked and squeaked. Malfoy opened one side of it and inserted his wand.

"Incendio!" he shouted. A burst of flame shot from his wand, but nothing lit. After a momentary flash we were still in darkness.

"I think it's out of fuel," I commented in the black.

"I know it's out of fuel, stupid!" Malfoy barked. "What do we do now?"

I raised my wand in answer.

"Lumos." A small white point of brightness appeared at the tip of my wand. It only had a portion of the light of the lantern, however.

"That is completely inadequate." But Malfoy pulled out his wand and lit it too.

He was right, though. The light shone in my eyes just as much as on the trees, and only lit an area of about three feet. We walked for a while, but when burn marks started showing up on my vision, I lowered my wand and muttered, 'nox.'

"What are you doing?" Malfoy demanded, pausing.

"It hurts my eyes. We'll eventually adjust to the dark," I explained. Malfoy reluctantly lowered and extinguished his wand as well. I was right. After about five minutes I was able to see the outlines of the trees, and of Malfoy and Fang. We kept walking.

After another long spell Malfoy stopped.

"We're lost."

"I know," I said.

I think he raised an eyebrow at me.

"So, Potter, what do we do?"

"I don't know. I guess…throw up red sparks?"

"…whatever." Malfoy flicked his wand skyward and red sparks shot up through the trees like a firework, lighting the trees and foliage in a bloody scarlet. It flew out of the canopy and burst like a flare, sweeping back down and fading.

We sat down and waited. I sat a little nearer to Malfoy than I normally would have done, merely so I knew where he was. I was starting to get jumpy and sleepy at the same time: not a good combination. I kept a firm grip on my wand and fought to stay awake.

We waited.

And waited.

"You don't suppose they're not coming?" Malfoy blurted.

"Don't be daft," I answered. I looked down the path where we'd come. "Hagrid had to have seen that. I mean, how high did it go?"

"….f-fifty feet? Maybe?"

"If it'll keep you quiet, throw up another one."

He glared at me.

"I'm not scared, Potter."

"Did I say that?"

He muttered something about idiots and stood up, his cloak billowing. He stepped away from the tree trunk into a clearing between, so the flare would have a chance to get through the branches. I saw him raise his wand, looking at the sky. Then he froze and looked straight ahead, at the trees, his arm still raised.

"Potter," he whispered.

"What is it, Malfoy?" I wondered. I didn't even bother getting up. I was sure it was one of his tricks, trying to do something nasty to make up for his fear. But he didn't move. He didn't even lower his arm – he left it there, wand still pointing comically to the sky like the Statue of Liberty.

"There's a-"

I got up. I sensed something, too. Something in his voice, and something about the trees. Everything had just gotten still. As still as the grave. All the hairs on my arms stood up and a thrill of energy flew down my spine.

A low growl rumbled from the trees.


A shadow burst from the silence. Malfoy screamed and thrashed out his wand. Something bright flashed and zipped across to one of the trees, missing its target, slamming into the bark with a crack.

The shadow dodged to the side, and I could see its shape, a shadow among shadows. A huge wolf, stepping with silent grace, its eyes fixed on Malfoy. I raised my wand. I didn't like him, but I didn't want to see Malfoy ripped apart in front of me, either. Maybe the wolf hadn't noticed me. But what spell could I-?"

The wolf snarled and jumped at me faster than I could blink. It slammed its paws into my chest and knocked me off my feet. I slammed backwards into the tree, then fell down, my back against it. It was on top of me, smothering me with its putrid fur.

"Gaaaa!" I yelled and closed my eyes as I felt its teeth rip into my right wrist. I screamed and screamed, thrashing, punching, kicking, trying to get the massive thing off of me.

"Stupefy!" Malfoy screeched, his voice cracking. A flash of red. The creature yelped and got off me. I cradled my bleeding arm and rolled away, hiding myself from view. It was like fire was running through my skin, and dull, deep points simmered in my bones where the teeth had pierced. I heard the monster snarling, footsteps, shouting, yelling. Then the creature yelped. Something lumbered away.



Tears ran down my cheeks. My heart was pounding so bad I thought it'd burst against my ribcage. I opened my eyes and forced all fear from my voice.



I pulled myself up. My arm flared and I whimpered. I held my wrist in my left hand. My blood was like warm water on my palm. It was starting to dry and get sticky. I could feel the torn skin under my fingers. Every touch on any of the wounds screamed protest.

I managed to look at Malfoy through the haze of my pain. He was sitting in the clearing between the trees, sitting almost like I was.

"I - …It bit me," I said. Malfoy looked up at me. Even in the darkness I could see the terror and despair in his eyes.

"It bit me, too." He held out his hands. His left forearm was bloody.


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