A/N Many thanks to Kimpatsu no Hoseki for beta-reading this story for me, thus helping me to finally post it :)


Warnings: m/m sex in future chapters, violence, self-harm, mild angst, hurt/comfort


Prologue

"Draco, you mustn't go back to Lord Voldemort."

Draco was too busy running to wince at the sound of the Dark Lord's name. Since Snape turned up, he felt he was doing everything pretty much automatically. Running somewhere with his professor, two ideas kept looping inside his heated brain: Dumbledore promised me and my mother protection! I failed; the Dark Lord will kill me!

"You mustn't go back to Lord Voldemort". The words struck him with the power of a train. What? The man who'd just murdered the one who promised him and his family protection, was speaking out loud his silent worries.

"I thought you're bringing me there," said Draco, now wondering why on earth he'd been running with Snape all along.

The professor was busy shooting spells over his shoulder.

"You will go into hiding," Snape cut short.

"Where to?" panted Draco, exhausted from their breakneck pace. He stumbled over a root and fell face down on the cold wet ground.

Snape jerked him up by the scruff of the neck, thrusting a piece of a parchment into his hand. Draco produced a weak Lumos and stared at several lines, written in a spiky handwriting.

"It's not an appropriate moment for jokes, sir," said Draco very sternly, looking up from the parchment. But Snape already urged him on, explaining, "No one will ever look for you there. I will take care of your mother,-"

"But! He hates me!"

"In your place, mister Malfoy, I'd rather relay on his mercy than on that of the Dark Lord. You'd better never cross Voldemort's path again. And don't use magic at that place, you sure don't want unnecessary attention. Destroy the parchment..." Snape broke off, pushed the boy forward and yelled, "Run, Draco!"

Draco apparated some miles away from Hogwarts, drew his wand, uttered Lumos and re-read an unfamiliar address with a very familiar name above it. His hands trembled, lines of spiky handwriting blurred, and he hated himself for this. After memorizing the address, he muttered a quick Incendio. He had nowhere else to go anyway. He'd become an outcast, an enemy for both sides – and each would want him dead. His safe and confident world crushed and collapsed, replaced by dangerous uncertainty.