which there is bickering and blood oaths ~
“So, you actually thought you could escape?”
The two students were pushed into a thicket as Severus Snape strode in front of them. “Stay out of sight,” he muttered.
The Death Eater stiffened as he saw the boy standing before him. “You!” he gasped.
Severus stopped, eyes narrowed. “If I have to hurt you, I will,” he replied coldly.
The Death Eater clenched his fists. “Who are you? ...I have no business with you! Stand aside!” he cried.
Snape stood his ground and was joined with Draco and Ginny glowering beside him.
“I told you two, get back!” Snape snarled at the two teenagers, as he threw a hex at the shocked Death Eater.
“Well, you heard him,” Draco said somewhat relieved, starting to back away.
“No! We can take him together!” Ginny yelled, grabbing his sleeve and pulling him forward.
“Get your filthy hands off me, Weasley!” snarled Draco. “As if we could do anything!”
Ginny glared at him. “You coward!” she spat. “We could at least try!”
“I already told you I’m not getting myself BLOODY KILLED for you, so fucking LET GO OF ME!” roared Draco, ramming Ginny to the ground.
Snape rolled quickly out of the way, just missing the crackling curse. “SECARE DEXTRA!” he bellowed.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw the Death Eater fling himself behind a fallen tree, but a sharp scream diverted Snape’s attention. To his horror he saw the body of Ginny Weasley writhing on the ground in agony, with Draco standing over her in equal horror.
“I-I didn’t mean to…”
“I TOLD YOU, GET BACK!” Snape shouted, directing his wand at the now-standing Death Eater and knocking Draco to the ground with his other arm. “LOCOMOTOR MORTIS!”
“MOBILIARBUS!” Snape roared, diving to the ground and directing his wand at the Death Eater’s fallen tree.
The massive log flipped up into the air and crashed down onto the leg-locked Death Eater.
Draco’s head spun at the suddenness of the duel, barely feeling a clammy hand brush against his ankle. His whole body turned numb as he looked down at Ginny Weasley still writhing in pain.
“UNCURSE HER YOU STUPID FOOL!” roared Snape, scrambling off the ground to sprint towards the fallen Death Eater.
“Finite Incantatum!” Draco cried immediately. He wasn’t feeling the wave of satisfaction he thought he would, but ill and horrible as he stared down at her wiping tears from her closed eyes. He got up quickly and turned away, sprinting over to where Severus was standing by the fallen tree. To his shock he saw that the other boy was holding the Death Eater’s wand and that the owner of which was still alive.
“Would you prefer to die of suffocation or would you like a nice clean death?” asked Severus coldly.
The Death Eater gave a hollow cough before answering. “The Dark Lord will avenge me,” he muttered, and shut his eyes.
Severus stared at him inscrutably before lifting the Death Eater’s wand to his purple throat. “Turn away, Draco,” he instructed and started to mutter a curse when the Death Eater jerked involuntarily.
Snape flinched, startled. Draco had spun around, sensing something was wrong. The Death Eater glared up at them, the whites of his eyes barely visible in the shadow of his hood.
“How long do you think you can keep this up?” he growled venomously. “My Lord will find you, and if he doesn’t…one of you will betray…”
But Snape’s curse had done the trick, and the Death Eater’s head fell forward with a sudden sharp movement. Snape swallowed and checked his pulse. He snapped the wand and threw it next to the body.
“Let’s go,” he said shortly, flicking his head towards Draco as they walked back to meet a shaky Ginny.
The trees had thinned out somewhat, but Ginny was finding it increasingly difficult to keep up. They were moving a lot faster than before, and Severus was constantly darting from the rear to the lead, his wand out and brandishing the broom like a spear. She felt strangely light-headed, and thought that perhaps the boys wouldn’t mind if she just took a quick rest… perhaps right now… just a little while…
The young Gryffindor fell to the ground in a swoon. The two boys stopped and looked back in surprise.
“How could I be so ignorant?” Severus muttered. “We’ll put her on the broom.”
Draco didn’t argue but watched on silently. Ginny managed to regain herself just enough to hold onto the broom handle.
“Draco, watch her will you?”
Draco muttered an assent.
Severus glanced around at the swaying leaves and kept moving. Try as he might, he couldn’t shake the words of the dying Death Eater. “One of you will betray...”
Severus couldn’t sleep. Whenever he closed his eyes he saw the Death Eater’s glaring back at him, uttering those foreboding words just hours before and sounding horribly familiar. He wondered if he’d gone to school with him… probably. The Death Eater seemed to have recognised him…
Draco and Ginny didn’t seem to be losing sleep over it. But of course, they didn’t know that he had the Dark Mark.
“One of them will betray…”
Well, it wasn’t as if he was talking about me, thought Severus peevishly to himself.
He shook his head and got up, making his way out of the thick gorse bush from where the other two were sleeping. A quick walk to shake off these ridiculous thoughts would do him good.
He had only gone a small distance away when a sudden rustle froze him in his tracks. Without warning he was knocked to the ground by a terrific force. The thud of enormous hooves hit the ground next to him, causing him to panic that he was lying on his wand arm.
“Don’t move, marked scum!” cried a deep voice.
Severus struggled to get to his feet when he was pressed against a tree trunk by a tawny bulging fist.
“Get –get off me!” he gasped.
Although it was almost pitch black, it was obvious to Severus what his attacker was. Clopping hooves, bulging biceps… He was being held up by a centaur.
The great beast brought his face very close to Snape’s. “You do not belong here, Death Eater.”
Realisation dawned upon the shocked Severus. He wondered how on earth he could see his Dark Mark but realised that pleading his innocence was probably more important at the moment. “I’m not!” he protested through breaths, as the grip tightened. “I mean… You don’t…understand…”
“Severus!” came a cry.
Ginny Weasley came running up, her eyes wide and her wand dimly lighting the area. Draco followed just behind her and saw the other boy pinned against a tree by an enormous-looking centaur. The young Slytherin swore and stopped in his tracks.
“Leave him!” Ginny yelled, pointing her puny wand at the gigantic flanks.
To their shock, the centaur obeyed her command and allowed Severus to stumble back to his companions. Draco soon recovered his disbelief, and turned on the other boy. “What the hell did you do to make him so bloody hacked off?” he hissed.
“Nothing!” Snape hissed back, rubbing his neck where he’d been grabbed. “Be quiet!”
The centaur gazed at the three students seriously, as if he hadn’t just slammed one of them against a tree. “So, you are still alive then,” he murmured, his voice no longer angry. “I doubted this very much. You are the three missing Hogwarts students, are you not?”
Draco started opening and closing his mouth in shock.
“Yes! We –” put in Ginny eagerly but the centaur raised his hand for silence.
“Albus Dumbledore is searching for you, I know. I told him you were dead but he still believed there was hope. There are still others who are looking for you...”
“You told him we were dead?” cried Draco indignantly, forgetting his shock.
The centaur shifted his solemn gaze to the Slytherin. “The skies read terrible things about you, Draco Malfoy, and you Ginny Weasley,” he added, his blue eyes boring into the fourth year’s light brown ones.
Severus narrowed his own eyes, noticing that the centaur was seemingly ignoring him.
“I fear I have put you all in danger by telling Dumbledore you are dead,” the centaur said. “I thought him foolish when he did not believe me. Perhaps if I had not shaken his faith, you would have been found by now. I have wronged you, and by the laws of my people, I am in your debt, yet those same laws forbid me to help you. My reading of the stars was wrong, this time, but I fear time shall prove it true.”
Ginny shrank back, alarmed at the unpleasant prediction, but the centaur’s gaze softened, and he gave Ginny a thoughtful nod.
“Courage, child,” he said. “These are dark times, but if we stand together, we may chance to see the light again. In this spirit I offer you my oath, so it may bind and protect you three. Will you take it?”
Snape looked at him silently, not willing himself to speak. Draco narrowed his eyes suspiciously.
“Will you take my oath?” the centaur asked again, his eyes shining in the gloom.
Ginny gazed back at him, thinking he was the most beautiful creature in the world. “I’ll take your oath.” she said easily.
“Wait,” said Severus, the suspicion obvious in his voice now that the centaur didn’t seem threatening. “What’s this oath about?”
“It will help you on your journey.”
“Snape,” Ginny hissed, “ –that’s about the clearest answer you’ll get from a centaur. Come on, it’s not as though you could get this from the Standard Book of Spells. How many people could say they’ve experienced this sort of magic?”
“Wait, are we thinking new, powerful magic?” Draco muttered, his eyes gleaming.
“Certainly not!” said Snape sharply.
“Maybe!” exclaimed Ginny.
“I’m in,” said Draco, holding up his left hand with a smirk.
“You’re both idiots,” Snape growled, wrestling with the idea of grabbing them both and running.
The centaur strode over to Draco who flinched as he touched just below his collarbone. “May I?”
Draco gave him a hard look and undid something around his neck. “Here,” he said, handing it to him reluctantly. “Watch it, the wings are quite sharp.”
Snape looked at the miniature silver dragon on a chain. “Where did you get that?”
“My father,” Draco said defiantly, glaring at the ground.
The centaur held up the swinging dragon and instructed them to make a small cut on their palms.
“A blood oath can’t be broken,” murmured Snape warningly, as Ginny was the first to make a small nick on her right palm.
Ginny shrugged and looked from the centaur to Snape. “How could you not trust him?”
Severus narrowed his eyes but quickly made the small incision, feeling horribly trapped and willing the centaur’s eyes to draw away from his. He passed the chain back to Draco, who hesitated before making the scratch.
“He doesn’t want us to discover that his blood’s not red,” muttered Ginny to a tense Severus.
Draco muttered something rude in response and slashed his palm quickly. The centaur gazed at them approvingly.
“And now, the wounds must be aligned.”
“Wait, wait,” said Draco, quickly. “What d’you mean, aligned? As in, together?”
“Of course,” replied the centaur, looking at Draco as if he was dim.
“I seem to recall mentioning this was a bad idea…” growled Snape at Draco’s annoyed expression.
“Here, Malfoy, give me your hand,” interrupted Ginny, looking at him steadily.
“What?” retorted Draco incredulously. “Weasley, don’t you understand? This isn’t a temporary handshake, this is binding us together forever –”
“It is not forever,” said the centaur, interrupting without having to raise his voice. “Indeed, the bond is solely dependent on your willingness to be bonded to the other person, and could quite easily fade over time or disappear in an instant.”
“Well,” said Draco disbelievingly, after a long pause, “ –Well, I must say that’s a fat lot of good to us then, since we all hate one another.”
“You just said that you didn’t want to be bonded together forever so isn’t this a good thing?” demanded Ginny, but then turning to a stony-looking Severus. “You said we’ve got no choice; we have to trust each other. It only has to be until we’re safe. Until then though, I know I’ll need all the help I can get.”
As Ginny’s determined expression continued to bore into him, Snape eventually looked away and muttered an assent.
“Only until we’re safe,” Draco muttered, aligning his left thumb with Ginny’s right, to cross Snape’s gash horizontally. “What’s the bet we’ll never be safe...”
The three students looked up at the centaur restlessly, and were surprised to see his eyes shut and a curious chant being muttered under his breath. Without warning, he stepped forward and placed both his hands over their joined palms. Severus, Draco and Ginny couldn’t help but stare in slight awe, as his voice rang clear through the night.
Blood on blood, fire and ice
Treachery and betrayal, none suffice
Blood on blood, earth and air
Respect and courage, enemies, beware!
The centaur gave them all a small smile, and the three students drew their hands slowly away. To their surprise, the wounds had completely disappeared, leaving no trace of blood or scarring.
“As long as you need it, those spots will sting if one of you is in serious danger. Whether you three survive depends on how you help each other,” the centaur said solemnly. “I only wish you greater fortune than what I read in the stars.”
The students blinked at each other and the great beast directed his gaze towards Severus. “I am sorry for being slightly hasty in my accusations. I must have been confused…”
Snape lowered his eyes to the ground. Stop talking...don’t say it...don’t apologise for the Death Eater business...
“I shall be leaving now, to inform Albus Dumbledore of your survival,” said the centaur, much to Snape’s relief. “Good night, Hogwarts students. May my oath serve you well...”
And so saying, the centaur kicked off with a giant leap and sailed over the undergrowth, with only the sound of galloping hooves to indicate that he was ever there in the first place.
“Well, that’s something that doesn’t happen every day,” murmured Ginny, breaking the silence.
“You mean ‘night’,” responded Draco automatically, but then grumbling, “I thought he was going to give us something more than that. A pain in the hand isn’t exactly what I had in mind.”
“I know,” admitted Ginny, following Draco in the direction of the gorse bush. “But still, it was pretty cool when…”
But Snape wasn’t listening to the others. He stood alone in the glow of his wand. He touched his right palm gingerly and looked at Ginny and Draco as they walked away together.
What had he gotten himself into?
The sun beat down on the unlikely companions.
“We’ll stop here,” Snape called, pausing at the edge of a bubbling brook.
Draco gave a strangled cry that sounded like ‘finally’ and threw himself onto a soft spot of grass. Ginny wasn’t far behind him, dropping the battered Firebolt to stumble towards a nearby stream.
Craning his neck to the sky, Snape looked up at the setting sun, his gaze finally resting back on the exhausted teenagers in half-pity. “Who’s hungry?” he grunted.
“Merlin, I’d eat a live rabbit,” said Ginny, collapsing on the bank.
“I feel hungry all the time now,” said Draco bitterly. “It never goes away, it’s horrible.”
“I won’t be far,” Snape called, pulling out his wand and descending into a thicket.
Ginny yawned and shut her eyes. “I can’t believe all this stuff that’s happened,” she murmured. “Centaurs… Death Eaters… eating rabbits…”
Ginny sat up and threw a clod of soil at the lazing Slytherin, which completely missed him.
“If I wasn’t feeling half-dead, I would’ve hit you,” she reassured him.
“Yeah, whatever you say, Weasley.”
Perhaps it was mere exhaustion but their insults seemed to have lost their usual sting. True, they still lost their tempers at times, but it was as if they had gotten used to being around each other somewhat. The exchange of insults had become almost relaxing in their familiarity.
Shaking herself from her doze, Ginny began picking out strands of grass and spider web from the Firebolt. Snape soon returned, his pockets full of berries.
“Lunch,” he called, emptying them into a pile on the grass.
After the berries were eaten, they accompanied Severus back to the bushes to pick some more. Half an hour later, all three sat back by the stream and sighed.
“How much longer till we reach Hogwarts?” said Ginny.
Draco looked up from washing his juice-stained fingers in the stream.
“Maybe three days,” said Snape. “We’re travelling slower than I thought, and with a lot more detours.”
He had climbed a tree that morning to check on their progress. It could be worse he supposed. He found it was getting easier to keep his cool, trudging around in the wilderness all day… Even Draco and Ginny didn’t seem to be getting on his nerves so much.
“But we’ve been walking for three days already!” exclaimed Ginny.
Snape grunted and Draco gave a suffering moan.
It had felt a lot longer than three days.
Draco rolled onto his back and looked at the stars. They were in the middle of a large gorse bush again, but it wasn’t nearly as warm as the tree they had spent their first night in. He had found himself in the middle for some reason, and both of his companions kept poking him in their sleep, keeping him awake. At least he wouldn’t have another nightmare about his father – the one last night had been the worst.
Severus and Ginny had been in it, and they had relived that horrible Death Eater scene with the screaming and the tree, only this time his father had been the Death Eater. He narrowed his eyes, willing himself to stop thinking about it, about him. His mind switched instead back to Ginny on the ground, screaming, writhing.
Draco rolled over, scowling at her peaceful back. Something was happening to him. There was something seriously wrong with how he was taking this. Maybe it was the oath.
Yes, probably, he thought relieved. As soon as they got back to school they wouldn’t have to see each other and the oath would become obsolete.
Draco drifted to sleep with that last thought on his mind. For some reason it still wasn’t too comforting.
As soon as the light hit the trees, Severus Snape opened his eyes. He glanced down at his sleeping companions thoughtfully.
“Oh no you don’t!” shouted Draco immediately, sitting up.
Severus gave him an amused smile. “I wasn’t going to do anything,” he murmured to himself.
Ginny sat up and rubbed her eyes. “Ho, yes, sure, Severus, I bet...”
“Time to go!” barked Snape quickly, making his way out of the bushes.
“Enthusiasm in the morning should be outlawed,” commented Draco bitterly. “And not even a ‘please’.”
Ginny murmured an agreement, still half-asleep as she stretched languidly.
“Hurry up, I want a good two hour walk, then breakfast.”
The two students groaned but followed tiredly after.
“Water!” exclaimed Draco fervently, barging past the two of them and leaping into the stream.
Severus rolled his eyes but Ginny couldn’t help snickering, throwing up any restraints she had and jumping in after him.
They’d had to take yet another detour to avoid a particularly wide chasm. It wasn’t getting over it that Severus was worried about, but the horrible snuffling noises that seemed to be coming from within. Draco and Ginny hadn’t heard a thing, and Severus didn’t know whether his sharp, cat-like hearing was a blessing or a curse. If they took too many risks then they’d never get to Hogwarts, but the same would be true if they didn’t. That detour must have cost them at least four hours.
Snape sighed and swept his eyes over the area. Seeing nothing of any harm, he allowed himself to perch gingerly on the bank of the stream, scowling at any splashes directed his way. “All right, I suppose we can stop here for the night.”
“What’s for dinner then?” asked Draco after a while, making his way towards Severus with his face finally clean and his hair plastered wetly back. “I hope it’s not rabbit again.”
“What’s wrong with rabbit?” demanded Ginny, wringing out her hair as she trudged with sodden robes onto the bank. “I mean, it’d be nice if they weren’t so old and tough…”
“Well, why don’t you fetch it for once?” replied Severus in annoyance, waving his wand over them and drying them instantly.
“What?” said Ginny blankly, catching her hair back into a messy ponytail. “Me? Why not Malfoy?”
“I’m not a bloody house-elf,” said Draco imperiously.
“And what d’you think I am?” said Severus, feeling tired for the first time in days. “It’s about time you two did something even minutely useful. You can grab the dinner for once.”
Draco and Ginny stared at each other incredulously.
“You can’t expect us to –”
“You’ve got to be joking –”
“She’ll get us lost –”
“He’ll get us killed –”
“NO WAY!” they yelled simultaneously.
“You do realise this is all your fault, don’t you?”
“Shh! You’re going to– LOOK! Get it!”
Draco threw himself forward at a squawking hen-like bird. The flustered bundle of feathers gave him a peck on the nose and flew away.
“You let him get away!” cried Ginny in anguish.
“You try diving for the bloody thing next time, and see how you like it!” snapped Draco indignantly.
Both of them were refraining from using their wands, as neither had full control over the strength of their stunning spells. The first one they had stunned had gone flying backwards and squashed messily against a tree, and neither was willing to repeat it.
“Got one!” cried Ginny triumphantly, snatching at a bird that just flew out of the thicket.
Draco gave her his most scathing look imaginable. “Well, my family’s not used to hunting for our food.”
To his annoyance she just gave a laugh, and he turned away huffily. Fortunately however, he managed to seize a dopey-looking bird that had just stumbled from the thicket. “Ah-hah!” he cried, and held up his prize triumphantly.
Ginny glanced at it and grinned. “Very good, Malfoy,” she reassured, and, with three larger ones in her arms, she started to make her way back to a bored Severus.
The sun shone overhead, tinting the enormous leaves and boughs of the passing trees. They had been wandering for six days now, and Severus, Draco and Ginny were starting to get used to spending hours upon end walking. They’d taken it in turns to lead, zapping undergrowth from their path, and also following up the rear by zapping plants back into place to cover their tracks. It was only recently that the forest had evened out and no longer required beating a path to walk. Although untidy and usually dirty, their eyes were bright and each had grown accustomed to the noises of the forest. During the occasional break, Severus had offered to teach them how to properly duel, and both Draco and Ginny were getting lightning fast with their wands. However this could also be due to the fact that Severus was forcing them to catch every second meal now.
Whatever the reasons, all three of them didn’t seem as easily irritated as before, and the silence as they walked didn’t feel as strained. It was almost peaceful at times, and Severus was surprised when he noticed the change in his companions for the first time.
It was odd how not even a week stuck in the forest had changed them so much, he thought. They looked so much more... ready? Confident? Mature? And especially Draco – although still usually scowling, the underlying sneer and smugness had lessened dramatically.
Snape wondered if he himself had changed. He didn’t feel any different... except of course, more relaxed. It wasn’t as if he was forgetting his duty though, they were quite close to Hogwarts now, he was sure of it.
thought it had been a good experience for them, perhaps they could do this with
students more often. Well... minus the Death Eaters. And some of the
life-threatening animals that had caused so many detours. And the centaurs –
meddlesome beasts. And the quicksand… What was he thinking? The
Severus glanced at Draco and Ginny. So why had he enjoyed the past few days so much?
It must just be the fresh air, he thought. Or perhaps the triumph of getting away from the Death Eaters scott free…
Severus tried to ignore the tiny doubt gnawing at the back of his mind.
Death Eaters never gave up.
“Hey, you two! Come and see!”
A clear voice pierced the peaceful silence of the early morning. Draco Malfoy yawned and scrambled up the tree surprisingly quickly. “What is it?” he said, taking his place next to the larger dark-haired boy.
“Hold on!” cried a third voice grumpily, the owner of which making her appearance soon after.
Severus said nothing, but drew back a large branch. “Look for yourselves,” he motioned.
The two students gazed at the view, broad smiles creeping to their faces. “Hogwarts!” they cried in unison.
Far into the distance was a familiar, grey castle, early morning sunlight glinting off the shiny surface.
“A fast walk or jog should get us there by the afternoon,” Snape nodded, snorting at the absolute glee on their faces.
Draco and Ginny practically fell from the tree in eagerness.
“What? You actually want to start straight away?” called Snape disbelievingly. “It’s barely dawn!”
“Come on!” laughed Ginny, scooping up the scruffy Firebolt and starting to run.
Draco gave a very un-Draco-like-whoop, and sprinted after her. Even Severus smiled as he landed softly on his feet. He soon caught up and all three slowed down to a walk and enjoyed the silent anticipation. All of the pain and hardships of their journey seemed far away now that the end was in sight. Even the birds seemed to be twittering almost sweetly as the three of them soaked in the morning sun.
“You know it hasn’t been that bad,” said Ginny after a long pause. “Almost sort of… fun.”
Draco made a face at her but it was a half-hearted scowl at best. “Your idea of fun is pretty rotten,” he said at last.
“Of course it would have been better if you two weren’t so pathetically unfit,” added Snape.
His two companions rounded on him indignantly. Snape’s mouth twitched and Draco shoved him hard into a prickly bush.
“Ha!” cried the young Slytherin, as Severus untangled himself. “Who’s unfit now?”
“You know what I’m going to do as soon as I get back?” murmured Ginny dreamily, taking no notice of the jostling going on around her. “I’m going to eat so much food that I pass out on my wonderfully soft bed.”
“I’m going to pass out in a huge foamy bath, eating ice-cream,” said Draco at once, frowning however as Ginny burst into a fit of laughter. “What?”
“Do you… d’you like ice-cream?” Ginny gasped, her eyebrows raised. “That seems so very… I mean, you seem more of a flan person.”
Draco looked at Ginny as if she was an idiot and Severus rolled his eyes, thinking about an armchair by the fire and a glass of Firewhiskey. He wondered if Dumbledore had been seeing to his stewing potions, and despite the warm breeze against his face, he felt a sudden rush of longing for his old office and Hogwarts.
Ginny pulled a tangled piece of vine from the Firebolt fondly. “It’s going to be weird getting back to Hogwarts,” she said. “I wonder if anyone noticed us missing…”
Draco followed her gaze and scowled. “Why d’you still have that thing? It barely flies.”
“I’ve been fixing it,” said Ginny defensively. “And it belongs to… Well, it doesn’t matter, it’s a Firebolt,” she finished, blushing.
Draco looked at her in deep disgust. “Hey Severus,” he said, turning to the other boy. “As soon as we reach Hogwarts, let’s lose the Potter-worshipper.”
Ginny shielded the sun from her eyes and looked at him crossly. “Look, I was starting to think you were all right—”
“Oh, all right. Well, that’s all right then, THANK you very much!” interrupted Draco sarcastically.
Ginny gave him a scathing look and turned to Snape. “Severus, don’t you think –”
“Oh, Severus, oh, so now we’re on first name basis are we, Severus? Won’t you please tell me your opinion, Severus?” Draco continued sarcastically, batting his eyelids in mock imitation of Ginny.
Ginny glared at him. “Is there a problem, Malfoy?” she replied icily. “You know you call him that also.”
“Well, I’ve more of a right to do so!” said Draco immediately.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” demanded Ginny.
“We’re nearly there you two,” Snape interjected testily. “Can you just give me a bit of peace so I can enjoy the last of my pleasant walk?”
Draco and Ginny gave Severus somewhat betrayed looks.
“You know Potter’s just going to burst into tears when you give him that broom,” muttered Draco under his breath.
“You don’t know Harry at all,” Ginny hissed back.
Draco snorted and picked up the pace. “Well, neither do you.”
“I remember this spot!” exclaimed Severus, looking around in surprise. “We’re barely a mile away now!”
Draco looked at him suspiciously, but Ginny cut in first. “How do you know that?”
Snape cursed mentally. How was he supposed to explain that he often went this way to collect rare herbs?
“Er...I came here with Hagrid a few weeks ago. He’s, ah… We went for walks while I stayed here over the holidays,” Snape finished off somewhat lamely.
“Right,” said Ginny sceptically, raising an eyebrow at Draco.
Draco shrugged. “Barely a mile, eh? Race you then, Severus.”
Ginny rolled her eyes.
“No... I don’t want to leave you two behind,” muttered Snape, looking around.
Draco opened his mouth to protest, when a slight stinging sensation in his left hand made him cry out.
Snape whirled on him and grabbed his shoulder. “You felt that too?” he hissed.
Draco winced in reply and threw a look at Ginny. Ginny stared back at them with wide eyes. “I felt it too,” she whispered.
“Here we come,” growled Severus, and pulled out his wand.
A/N: “Secare Dextra” – latin words for ‘slice right hand’