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Chapter One: Unexpected Falls

Nightmare images assaulted him; a feeling of weightlessness, of urgency and of enormous pain - confusing enough when he was unable to understand the rapid-fire sensations, but he didn't remember hitting anything to cause the pain - until the ground made contact and all went black.

Harry stirred slightly from where he rested against the solidity of a massive tree trunk. The sound he'd heard was less like the expected - but not hoped for - approach of a vehicle, and more like the sound of conflict. A not-so-brief scream of pain... a distant yell of triumph... even the crash of one of the thinner trees as it was brought down by something. Not good.

The debate on whether or not to investigate that which he was certain would lead to yet another "adventure", or to just remain where he was and wait to be tracked down by agents of either side took a few minutes due to the lassitude of his current thoughts. Harry's foot scuffed repeatedly against a piece of rock that stuck up from the packed dirt of the forest, one of many that did so. Eventually, he decided that despite the events of his fourth year, Harry hadn't quite had the last remains of his life sucked from him completely. At least, he had enough left to make him press himself wearily to his feet and squint through the evening sun across the road towards where he had heard the sounds. On the boundary between the small road and the forest where he had ... found himself... it was difficult to see more than the resumption of the tree line which the small road wound its way through. Especially with cracked glasses. Sighing, his internal debate resumed at the prospect of having to walk, on top of having to leave the tiny hope of catching a ride from someone driving on the deserted road.

Grumbling at the minor bruises he'd acquired when he'd been thrown from the car, Harry carefully commanded his limbs to carry him on his way. It wasn't much, but he did have an objective to avoid collecting more injuries tripping over forest roots. More couldn't really be thought of at the moment. He crossed the road and entered the forest, trudging up and then down the slopes on either side of the cracked asphalt.

Keeping his movements slow enough to keep the sounds he made to a minimum, he set out in the direction he thought he'd heard the fight from. The trees made for good cover, some of them being old enough that their towering size necessitated that their trunks develop a respectable girth to support themselves. A roundabout route would be best, especially one that would maximize the forest cover. He knew of the game called "Hide and Seek"; even saw groups of kids playing it at the school he'd gone to before attending Hogwarts. He'd used the idea behind the game on furtive trips to the kitchen during those rare occasions in which he hadn't been locked into his cupboard or later his small room for the night; even before their son was put on his diet the Dursleys hadn't exactly gifted him with lavish meals. Now he was using it for what could become a matter of survival. This wasn't a matter of great importance but rather one of habit.

Finally he reached the area of the fallen tree... and found a body sprawled untidily near its base, a broken broomstick nearby.

The sensation of his twitching legs dragging over the ground was the first thing he became aware of. That, and the leftover effects of ... something. The pain that caused his periodic and uncontrolled spasms.

Next, the fact that he seemed to be moving vied for his attention. Moving backwards at that. And something was wrapped under his armpits and across his chest. He looked down and saw... hands. Two of them, and young looking. When a pause came in their travel and the hands readjusted themselves for a firmer grip he saw that the fingers were scraped and dirty. He felt himself lifted a little again and the dragging travel resumed before it occurred to him that there was something odd about this arrangement. Something wrong that he couldn't bring to mind. Speaking of mind, it was about that point that his splitting headache made itself known to him, and he groaned softly. The backwards progress came again to a halt as the owner of the hands made a shushing noise and said, "Keep still. Whoever hit you might still be around," before the dragging resumed. Apparently, whoever this was agreed with the spasms in his legs that he wasn't going to be walking on his own anytime soon. The voice itself was youthful but carried a weariness that seemed to be more emotional than physical, judging by the amount he was being lifted from the ground.

As though prompted by this thought he found himself slowly flexing his hands and bending his arms at the elbows, sending up shooting pains as a result and causing his transport to grunt and make a quick readjustment before continuing on. "Hold still, sir - you're slipping."

There was a pause before he felt himself being dragged up an incline and then quickly across a small and old but paved road before moving down on the other side. Small rocks were imbedded in the dirt of the inclines before changing back to the leaf-strewn dirt of the forest around him. Soon afterwards he caught a glimpse of the boy who had moved him as the boy proceeded to settle him into a large bole of a massive tree. Thin and near to gangling with dark, messy hair and wearing cracked glasses. The boy's shirt was rumpled, dirty and torn near the elbow and his jeans weren't in much better condition, the whole of which was rather ill fitting.

Sitting back on his heels, the boy looked at the man and then over his shoulder back at the road before saying, "I've got to hide our trail from whoever's out there." With a touch of trepidation, the boy increased the man's confusion by rising to his feet and warily but respectfully saying, "I'll be right back, Professor Snape."


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