The pound of his bare feet against the wet dirt made a squishing, thumping noise. It was the only thing he could hear besides the quick, but evenly paced thuds of his heartbeat. Though he wasn’t quite sure if he was actually hearing his heartbeat, or just feeling it hammer in his chest and ears. He didn’t take the time to stop and contemplate it.
A misstep into a shallow hole has him falling to his knees. Pain from the impact lances up his thighs, however, it’s the pain caused from putting pressure on torn kneecaps that really hurts. Sucking in deep breathes of air is his only attempt at soothing himself, and he quickly stands again. He has no time for tending to his wounds. He has no time at all.
Continuing his running, Harry knows he needs to think of something else. While he could probably run for another hour or so if he pushed himself, they could run for much longer. Sparing a moment to stop and look around he rests his back against a tree. He doesn’t dare sit down in the mud. He might not have the strength to get up again.
There are a few large trees he could climb, if he could ignore the burning in one arm the numbness in the other. However, that wouldn’t save him for long. They could either climb up after him, or more likely wait until he had no strength to hang on any longer. Then he would just fall out and they would have him. No, trees wouldn’t work.
He knew that there were a series of cave systems in the area. If he could make his way into one he could hide there. As soon as the though runs through his head he discards it. He really can’t hide. They would smell him out. His best chance was to out run them. Find a wizard who could protect him.
So he ran. Sometimes he could tell they were close. A sense leftover from his remaining magic, warning him that danger was approaching fast. He didn’t need to be warned; he already knew. When he took the time to think about it, he could hear them howling the background.
It was their language. Stolen from real wolves, the werewolves communicated in burst of sound vibrating against their vocal cords. It was harsh sounding and lacked the harmonic melody real wolves possessed. Although, when Fenrir wasn’t around, they would sometimes use their given voices. Harry didn’t like that though. He wanted to think of them as animals, not humans who choose to act like vicious creatures. When they acted like humans Harry hated them.
His lungs were burning, but he no longer felt the blisters and cuts on his feet. He knew that was a bad thing, but at the moment it felt like a blessing. He had started crying again, but wasn’t sure when. It was surprising, because he hadn’t cried in a long time. Truthfully he thought his eyes had been damaged when Fenrir had poured all that blood and urine in them. Before that was the last time he had shed tears.
Letting the salty drops flow down his face he continued to run. He passes an uncountable number of trees and rocks. Hope suddenly raced through his body when a bright flash of light caught his attention. Turning towards the light, Harry willed his legs faster. Bursting through a ring of trees he hit sand.
Confused at first by the presence of the soft malleable ground, Harry didn’t look ahead. When he did it made sense; there was a lake. Or was it a river? Shaking his head cleared the thought from his mind, it didn’t matter what type of water it was. There in the lake, sitting in a small rowboat was the source of Harry’s light.
Despair filled every cavity and pour of his body. It was a Muggle, an old, poor looking Muggle out for a night of fishing. No one who could help him. Hearing the howls getting closer Harry made a quick decision and waded into the water. It was cool, and soothed his burning muscles upon entering. The boy began swimming as fast as his body would let him out the old man on the boat. Maybe if he was fast enough together they could row away and escape the oncoming terror.
Just a few minutes into the water Harry was ready to give up swimming. It tolled his body worse than the running. He was shivering now, the coolness of the water turning bitter. In an unwise decision he stopped moving and tried to float. The waves, small as they were, flowed over his head and pushed him under. Water gushed into his mouth making him choke. His vision, what was left of it anyway, started fading as the oxygen in his body was quickly used up.
A swirl of activity in the water above him and a hand was grabbing a hold of his arm. With an effort that would have impressed Harry if he had be paying attention, the old man of the lake pulled him aboard the battered boat. Gasping in air was his only concern. His loud gulps echoed across the lake.
The man was talking to him, but Harry couldn’t understand what he was saying. A rushing noise blanketed his ears, but he could see the man’s lips moving. His vision was returning. Suddenly the man gripped Harry’s shoulders hard, and if Harry had the extra breath to spare he would have complained. When the man released Harry he made a grab for the oars of the boat and hurriedly put them in place. This made Harry fear again, for what would cause this man to react like that.
His hearing still impaired Harry used what little strength he had left to grasp the side of the boat and pull himself high enough to see over the edge. His hand dipped into the water as he half sat, half laid against the side of the boat. While he couldn’t make out the details he could see several forms swimming towards them. He didn’t need his glasses to know that it was the werewolves.
Fear shot through his veins for what felt like the millionth time. He thought he would get over that reaction ever time he saw them, but he never did. Closing his eyes as they got closer he realized he could hear the old man cursing and rowing the boat with all of his might. Harry knew it didn’t matter. The old man couldn’t row fast enough or far enough. They would catch up, soon if Harry could judge the distance right.
The thought left him feeling empty. He truthfully thought he would be able to escape. Even through the months he had been held captive and the torture he endured, he had always held onto the hope of an eventual rescue or escape. Now all of that was gone. Harry knew that he would be recaptured. He would be tortured and kept alive for as long as possible, maybe for years. A sob tore from his mouth at the thought.
Then the most unusual thing happened, he felt something touch his hand, the one in the water, and a soft question of ‘what is this?’ floated through the air. His eyes snapped open and he looked into the water. It was a snake, a copper-mouth to be exact. Hope flooded him again. He spoke to it. “Bite me.”
It hissed at him in confusion. What animal asked to be bitten? Harry snatched it out of the water and yelled at it again. “Bite me. Bite me. Bite me!” It reared up at the boy and struck. The fangs sunk into the once soft flesh of Harry’s left cheek and deposited its poison. Once the fangs released, the snake demanded to be let go.
Harry felt the numbness settle in at once, but then he remembered the old man. Taking pity on him, he told the snake he had to bite the other human as well and then to bite him once more for good measure. With a promise made from the snake Harry let go. He didn’t see the other man get bitten, and he didn’t feel when the snake came back and bit Harry twice more. Once because of the promise and once because of the annoyance the snake felt.
By the time the first wolf climbed aboard the small boat, Harry’s heart had already stopped. His face was swollen and his leg bloated from the bites. The old man was still alive, but death was once seconds away. When Fenrir took the body back to his den in anger, Harry’s face had thinned out once more and a sad smile could be seen.