You would think that attempting to swim through the North Sea in the middle of the night is an insane thing to do. It's true that I was cold but twelve years in Azkaban meant that I was actually slightly warmer than I had been in a very long time.
However considering that I was attempting to escape, swim to England, travel the length of the country on foot, break into the most secure building in the UK which also happened to be my old school, stop the man who framed me for murder and not get caught at any point, the cold was the furthest thing on my mind.
Currently my most pressing problem was the fact that even in my dog form my weak frame and the years of malnutrition meant that I was rapidly losing the fight against the water. The waves pounded me from left to right; I barely noticed that the sun had begun to rise. I focused on the thin strip of land I could now see in front of me.
I had to keep going. I was the only one who knew Pettigrew was alive, the only one who could save Harry. Harry. He was the reason I was fighting, why I had to get to shore. I was so close.
I couldn't stay as a dog, it took too much effort, and I felt my arms and legs return to human form. I swallowed another mouthful of sea water.
I wasn't going to make it. I knew deep down I wasn't strong enough no matter how much I had to get there. I let out a scream of frustration, my voice hoarse from lack of use, as I begun to lose consciousness.
I'm not sure of the exact moment I slid beneath the surface my hand remaining there for a fraction of a second longer than my head. Black spots began to appear in front of my eyes. My lungs screamed but I simply couldn't do it, my limbs had turned to lead.
I'm sorry James.
That was the last thing I thought before I drifted away. I could have sworn I felt a hand enclose my wrist at the last second. My heart stopped beating, I know that for certain.
And then I was on the beach hands pounding on my chest, lips breathing air into my lungs and I sat up in a hurry expelling a fountain of salt water and vomit. I opened my eyelids and looked at my saviour.
She was kneeling by my side, hands on my robe as I shivered uncontrollably. Her short brown hair dripping onto the ground, concerned blue eyes searching my own.
"...you ok?" I heard her ask as I gradually regained my hearing. I managed to nod not yet trusting myself to speak.
"Can you get up?" I shook my head at that one. She looked at me and chewed her bottom lip as she thought about something. Then she pulled me up pulling one of my arms around her shoulders and half carried me to a small house by the seaside.
She deposited me on her couch and went to get a couple of towels, one of which she gave to me. I put it around my shoulders and eventually the shaking subsided. She sat opposite me and handed me a glass of water. I frowned at her slightly.
"Salt water makes you dehydrated." She explained
I drank and suddenly realised how thirsty I really was. I finished the glass quickly and she went to get me another. Then she spoke again.
"Are you going to tell me why you were crazy enough to swim in the North Sea in the middle of the night?"
I answered her vocally this time "I'm trying to get to Scotland."
"Wrong country mate, this is the middle of England. You want to get to Scotland you need to go that way." she said waving her hand to the right.
There was a silence.
"Are you an escaped convict?" I inhaled the rest of my water.
"I mean there's that island in the middle of the North Sea and people say that it's a prison, and you're wearing clothes that look like those old convict clothes in the movies."
I gathered from the words she used that she must be a muggle or she would have called them robes.
"Yes I am." No point lying she was obviously stating a fact rather than asking. Clearly a smart girl. "Does that scare you?"
"No." Maybe I'd overestimated her.
"Why not?" Who wouldn't be afraid of a criminal?
"You've just nearly drowned, so you're exhausted, plus you're skinnier than a skeleton I'm pretty sure I could take you if it came to a fight."
I watched her for a while. Then said in a disbelieving tone "You aren't bothered to have a convicted murderer in your house?" Then I winced because she didn't know my conviction was murder and if she called the police I wasn't exactly going to make it very far in this state.
She didn't even blink "Did you do it?"
Out of everything that had happened today this was the thing that threw me the most. The fact that in twelve years, a complete stranger and muggle to boot was the very first person to ask me that question.
"No." I looked her straight in the eye as I said my heart filled with something I hadn't felt in a long time. Hope. The hesitant overwhelming thought that maybe I could get one person, just one to believe that I was innocent.
"Not been asked that before have you?" I shook my head still looking straight at her.
"I didn't even get a trial." She stared straight back at me, blue meeting grey. My eyes were silver once but I imagine they've been dulled by the years of never-ending despair.
"I believe you." I looked away startled to feel the back of my eyes prickle.
We don't speak for a while, the sun climbing higher in the sky.
"So how long have you been in prison?"
"Twelve years." It's even more alarming to say it out loud, I'd been stunned enough when I'd seen the date on that newspaper that Fudge gave me.
Her face mirrored mine, only she looked horrified as well as surprised. "So you've broken out for what? To prove you're innocent?"
She's only half wrong, but I decide not to mention that I'm planning to murder my former best friend. Involuntarily I think of Remus and my stomach twists slightly in pain. He's been alone all this time, thinking two of his friends were dead and the other was a raging psycho. I wonder for a moment whether he's managed to get a job with his furry little problem.
Then I realise that I haven't answered the question. "Yeah, I mean I kept waiting for someone to realise but no-one even bothered to look past the obvious evidence, so now I'm going to do on my own."
She looked at me with something in her expression I couldn't quite recognise, I thought for a moment it was admiration and then she said "Good luck with that."
I nodded and got up feeling much stronger "I should go before they come looking."
She smiled slightly and got up to show me out. Just before I disappeared into the wood behind the house she called out to me "Hey you know it's illegal to not give someone a trial." I paused "You could sue once you've cleared your name."
Unnecessary information seeing as I'm planning to commit murder for real this time but I appreciate the sentiment and realise I haven't been very grateful.
"Thank you." I say and I mean it. Then I take off running. It's not until after I've transformed that I realise I didn't even know her name.
I realise that I regret not asking. She showed me more kindness than anyone has in a long time and she doesn't even know me. It warms my broken heart for a brief moment that there is still such a thing as a random act of kindness in this bitter world.
A/N I have an idea of how to develop this further but I'm equally happy to leave it as it is;) It depends on what you think?