Ch. 5- "A Brush With Death"
Notes: This fic will probably be kind of long... bear with me if there are lapses between chapters, as I do have a career that exhausts/frustrates me quite often. I have never written HP fanfiction before, either, so sorry if I do the characters OOC or something.. ok, scratch that, there will be OOCness. This IS a slash fic, after all. =p And I think this is my first non-anime fanfic, too... o_O scary...
Thanks to Mami-san for beta-ing the fic- goddess knows I'm too damn lazy to spellcheck my own junk. @_@
I got the title frum the song of the same name from "Fushigi Yuugi"- it's Soi's song, I believe.
Warning: This is a Draco/Harry SLASH fic. Don't like that, bugger off. -_- And for those of you who despise Draco, I understand.. ^.^; He IS quite the shithead... but I can't help but like this couple. Also, if you haven't read all 4 current HP books, this fic will most likely contain spoilers. You've been forwarned.
The next couple of times Hermione took Harry to practice dancing in the library, Ron stayed behind. He and Hermione seemed irritable towards each other, especially whenever any mention of the upcoming Ball was made.
Harry avoided Kyle whenever possible in the halls, but somehow he always seemed to run into Malfoy. The two bickered the few times they came face to face, and once Harry had to grab Ron to keep him from putting his fist in the smirking blonde's face after a particuarlly nasty comment concerning the Weasley family.
With his aggravation towards the pale Slytherin, Harry soon forgot Kyle's words from that night at the lake. He was more concerned with trying not to bash Malfoy's face in than trying to understand the way his mind worked.
The arrival of their dress robes from Mrs. Weasley was a sharp reminder of the impending Ball-- there were only two weeks left before the special night. The girls were more giggly than ever, running around in little clumps as they whispered excitedly to each other about their dates, their makeup, and how they would wear their hair. Ron made a visible attempt to be a little nicer to Hermione, and she cooled off considerably; much to Harry's relief.
Harry was looking around for his newts' toes in Potions a few days after the arrival of the dress robes when he noticed Snape frowning towards the other side of the room. Harry glanced over curiously as he pulled the ladle from under his textbook, wondering what could have distracted the professor.
Draco's chair was empty.
Crabbe and Goyle, who always sat beside him, were also consipicuously absent. Harry looked at his watch. They were fifteen minutes late. Surely Snape would give them detention.
"Mr. Potter. Come here."
Harry looked up quickly at Snape's snapped command. The Potions professor was standing before his desk, hands clasped behind his back as he scowled at his student. Harry exchanged a dreaded look with Ron and slid out of his chair, walking up to the front of the classroom. "Yes, professor?" he asked, hoping he didn't sound as resigned as he felt.
Snape tilted his heads towards the empty desks. "Go find Mr. Malfoy. Make sure he hasn't gotten stopped in the hall by another teacher and bring him to class."
Harry had to bite his lip to stop his protest. Why him? And by the looks of it, it didn't seem that Snape had any intentions of punishing his favorite Slytherin student. Fuming, he turned on his heel and marched out. "And be quick about it," Snape called irritably after him.
"Yes, sir," Harry ground out, not looking back.
Harry hurried through the halls, glancing down corridors and grumbling under his breath. The three troublemakers were nowhere to be found in the halls, so he hurried to the staircases, waiting for one to rotate towards him before running down them, taking the stairs two at a time. He couldn't afford to miss much of Potions- he wasn't doing too well in it so far this year, and couldn't risk missing anything important.
"Stop screaming like a bunch of ninnies, you dunderheads, and go get someone!!"
Harry whirled at the familiar voices. It was Malfoy and his two goons- though their voices were fearful, and Malfoy's tone was strained with what sounded like barely-restrained panic.
"Hurry it up!"
"Wait right there, Draco, we'll go get someone!"
Harry took another staircase and dashed down it. He heard Crabbe and Goyle running and followed the sound. He came up to a random staircase as they dashed up it, darting past him without seeing him, their eyes wild. "Hey-" he gasped, but they didn't hear him, and dissapeared down a hall. Harry hesitated, catching his breath, and peered down the staircase. It was one of the older, crumbling ones, and had stopped half-way through one of its rotations. The end of it was sticking out in mid-air, not even connected to any hallways. Malfoy was nowhere to be seen. With a feeling of dread rising in him, Harry slowly descended the stairs.
He heard raspy breathing as he neared the bottom, and paused, gripping the railing carefully and peering over the edge. His heart gave a little jump.
Malfoy was hanging over the edge of the staircase, his robes snagged on a jutting part of rock on the bottom edge of the last step. He was dangling over nothing but air and random staircases some distance down. It was a very long drop.
He was hanging absolutely motionless, his face paler than ever as he breathed harshly, obviously fighting back panic, his eyes wide as he stared down in horror at his impending fate, hands clasped in a tight grip on the collar of his robes in an attempt to prevent strangulation. Harry's heart began to pound madly. Any second the rock could crumble or Malfoy's robes could rip, and there would be nothing that could save him from a broken neck.
Getting down on his knees, he crawled down the last four steps. He slowly and cautiously leaned over the edge, swallowing hard. His stomach lurched a little in protest at the feeling of empty air below him, and it occured to him that if he were in Draco's position he would probably be in hysterics. "M-Malfoy," he called tentatively. "You OK?"
Draco glanced upwards quickly, startled, lips parted as he panted in quick little gasps of air. Surprise flashed across his features before they twisted with impatience and the strain of holding himself motionless. "Potter," he growled. "Don't just sit there, get me up!"
"Just- hang on a second," Harry said quickly, looking around for something for the other boy to grab onto. There was nothing nearby, and he couldn't risk running off to find something. By then it might be too late.
Grasping the handrail in one hand tightly, he leaned over a little farther, extending his hand. "Grab my hand," he urged. "Move very slowly."
Draco hesitated, glancing once towards the staircases below him and then up at the proferred hand. He released his left hand from its death grip on his collar and carefully raised it, grasping Harry's hand tightly.
The cloth caught on the craggy edge gave a little ripping sound, and Draco's eyes widened even more.
"Just hang on," Harry said quickly, and began to pull with all his might, slowly leaning backwards. "Grab the edge," he gasped, practically lying on his back. "Let go of my hand and grab the edge!"
Draco looked up at him wildly as if he was crazy. The cloth made another quiet ripping sound. After a moment of frantic indecision, Draco finally released Harry, yanking his hand away and grabbing the edge of the step. He was now facing the stairs.
Harry scrambled forward on his hands and knees and grabbed two fistfuls of the back of the other boy's robes, pulling on them as he rose to his feet, knees quaking at the effort. Draco reached up to grab the stair with his other hand, and the rock that had caught his robe suddenly snapped away.
They both yelled in terror as Draco slipped, nearly yanking Harry off the edge with him. Harry let go of Malfoy's robes with one hand and grabbed wildly for the banister, wrapping his arm around it and catching himself.
Draco seized the step with his other hand, panting as he strove to lift himself, his arms shaking badly.
"Hang on," Harry shouted, regaining his footing. He hauled the other boy slowly upwards, until Draco was able to get his elbows over the step and pull himself up half-way. Harry let go of the back of his robes and seized him by the collar, dragging him farther up, helping him as Malfoy grabbed the banister with one hand and pulled himself painfully onto the staircase.
Then he was over the edge, and Harry tumbled backwards, Draco collapsing on top of him as they panted from the exertion, their arms and legs aching from the effort.
Pounding footsteps on the stairs announced that help had finally arrived.
"Draco!" Crabbe and Goyle screeched to a halt a few steps above the tangled boys, huffing and wheezing from their mad race through the hallways. Behind them, Snape had to grab the banister to keep from crashing into them. His eyes were wild, and he was breathing quicker than normal from his run.
"Potter," he snarled in something eerily akin to hatred, eyes flashing.
Harry twisted his head around painfully to stare up at the man incredulously. Surely Snape didn't think HE'D had something to do with it! "I-"
Draco was already pushing himself to his feet, dusting himself off, still shaking a little from his previous fright. "I'm all right, Professor," he muttered. He hesitated, as if it caused him physical pain to say his next words. "Potter pulled me back up."
Snape flicked a disbelieving look towards Harry as he pulled himself carefully to his feet. "Well," he huffed after a moment, straightening his robes and squaring his shoulders. He turned a glare on Malfoy. His voice was harsher than it usually was when he addressed the Slytherin. "That will teach you to keep off the stairwells Filch has deemed unsafe, now won't it, Mr. Malfoy?"
Crabbe and Goyle gaped at him, as if they couldn't believe he would act so angry towards their ringleader, but Malfoy merely nodded sullenly, avoiding eye contact.
"Get back to class, all of you," Snape ordered, standing aside. "And stay off these bloody stairs! I'm going to get Filch to put a sign on this staircase."
They all hurried past him silently, and after he watched them turn down the correct hallway, he turned his feet in long strides towards Filch's office.
Crabbe elbowed Harry roughly out of the way, pushing himself forward to walk beside Draco. Harry winced, grabbing his arm as he scowled at the hulking boy's back. Ouch..that would leave a bruise.
"You all right, Draco?" Goyle asked nervously. "We thought you'd die!"
"Well I didn't," Malfoy snapped irritably, eyes straight ahead as he walked quickly. "Quit fawning over me, it's annoying."
"Snape had no right to talk to you like that," Crabbe growled, grinding one big fist into his beefy palm. "What's his deal?"
"He was angry because Malfoy almost got himself killed," Harry snapped, suddenly angry at Malfoy's complete lack of gratitude.
Draco glanced at him over his shoulder, face its normal arrogant mask. "Now we're even, Potter," he said shortly, and looked away in dismissal.
Harry sputtered. "You-"
Goyle turned on him, glowering. "You got something to say, runt?" he demanded, stung by Malfoy's rebuff and willing to take it out on the nearest victim.
"I've got plenty to say," Harry said hotly. "As if your stupid boss monkey there would listen!"
Goyle grabbed him by the front of his robes and shook him.
Harry's head snapped back and forth, his teeth clicking painfully together. He grabbed the other boy's big hands, feeling as if his spine would snap, unable to utter any noise. It was like being trapped in the middle of an earthquake with nothing solid to grab. And Goyle wouldn't stop shaking him, his beady eyes lit with fury as he shook the smaller boy like a rag doll, harder and harder..
"That's enough, Goyle!" Draco's voice was like a whip.
Goyle released Harry with a vicious push, slamming him into the wall. Harry grunted, the air driven out of him, and slumped to the floor. His head was spinning wildly. Crabbe began to laugh loudly, and Goyle took encouragement from the sound. He nudged Harry none-too-gently with his shoe, sneering. "Just stay on the ground like a little cockroach, Potter," he suggested snidely. "You stupid-"
Draco strode over and grabbed the bigger boy by the shoulder, yanking him around to face him.
His fist cracked into Goyle's face with vicious cruelty.
Goyle howled, staggering back with his hands over his face. "Owooooooooohhh!!! 'Oo boke by nobe!!"
"'Ey, Draco, what's the matter with you??" Crabbe hollered in surprised fear. Draco whirled on him, eyes flashing, fists clenched by his sides, and the bigger boy retreated quickly, hands held up in defense. "Hey, hey, calm down!"
"I said ENOUGH," Draco snarled, shooting heated glares at the both of them. He flicked his narrowed eyes towards Harry for a brief second before turning sharply on his heel and marching off down the hall. After a moment Crabbe and Goyle hurried after him, Goyle still moaning and blubbering.
Harry sat alone against the wall, staring after them numbly, his head pounding like a bass drum.
He wasn't sure how long he sat there, but he snapped out of his daze when he heard measured footsteps coming towards him. Climbing carefully but quickly to his feet, he stumbled the way the others had gone.
"Not so fast, cowboy," a familiar voice drawled.
Harry hesitated, glancing over his shoulder.
Kyle stood by the shadows of the wall, lips turned up in a grin, eyes hooded as he gazed at Harry knowingly. "Well, well," he said lightly. "Looks like you've been in a tight spot recently." He chuckled and stepped forward. "Come on, hero. I'll get you back to class."
"I don't trust you," Harry said honestly, avoiding the hand the taller boy extended.
Kyle smiled tolerantly. "Now that's not very nice," he said lightly.
Harry stared up at him silently, unsure how to answer that.
"Funny how I seem to know what I'm talking about every now and then, isn't it?" Kyle murmured, eyes gleaming, still smiling that intolerable smile. "About Draco, I mean," he added, almost as an afterthought.
Harry glared weakly at him. "I still think you're nuts," he said shortly.
"Aren't we stubborn," Kyle tsked, and took hold of his arm before he could draw away again. Harry wearily submitted, allowing the other boy to lead the way back to Potions class.
Here's a pic of Kyle:
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Chapter 12 + Epilogue