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Never Afraid - Never Brave by Hiduras
Chapter 1: Never Afraid - Never Brave
a/n: Hallo everyone!
This is my ”Out of Your Realm” – entry… I hope you all like, and if you don’t please tell my why and help me improve my writing!
I am always afraid.
They know me; all of them know me. I am the one they question; I am the one who makes them wonder. I hear them whisper. I don’t belong.
The fear is consuming me, devouring me. Afraid of doing something, afraid of doing nothing. Was I always this way? I have done brave things in the past, but never alone. The skilled, the gifted, the ones who do belong were always with me. This time I will do it alone. I have to. My worth will be proven to them, to me.
I am scared, afraid, terrified and the only one left to do anything. You can’t be brave if you are never afraid; I will be brave.
A tiny beam of light shimmered on the floor, a reflection of the last glowing embers from the fire to be exact. It appeared to be illuminating the common room because of its emptiness. Reaching down, I picked it up and turned it over in my hand, a Timeturner. It rested lonely in my palm. I had read about them briefly some time ago, but my memory was not one of exceptional calibre. One thing I did know, it was for time travel. My heart was beating faster and faster, my veins seemed smaller and my throat was dry. How did it end up in the Gryffindor Tower? Was it dropped by accident? Did someone mean for me to find it?
Discomfort with the reality of having to make a decision crept up on me. It was too easy to make the wrong choice and too hard to make the right one; I was afraid. The proper thing to do was obviously to turn it in, go to McGonagall. Ask for help from some other student would be another way out. Who was left to ask? Harry, Hermione and Ron weren't here anymore and I didn’t know who else to trust. I would have to make a decision myself. My stomach stirred uncomfortably and my head spun. I had to do this alone.
If I used it, what would happen? Would I go back in time? Forward? Would I be able to come back again?
A determination I had never felt before rushed over me. I had nothing here; I was of no use to anyone. In a brief flicker of enlightenment, I tossed the chain that held the Timeturner over my neck, and flicked it with my index finger.
Hogwarts as I knew it was gone from my sight forever.
I don’t know what I had expected. A year ago, yesterday, next month... Not this.
I was standing in the exact same spot, but somehow I knew it was different. The furniture was not the same and sat in different places. It was lighter outside and even though there was no one else in the common room, it felt less empty.
Regaining my composure, I grew scared again. Somehow it was different, though my first instinct wasn’t to run away. I had jumped without thinking and I had landed on my feet. Sure, I was standing on an edge and barely keeping my balance, but I was standing. The angst was pumping through me like adrenaline, ready for anything in spite of my fear.
With the common room behind me, I started walking towards the place I knew I could get the most answers: the Headmaster's office. I had no clue who the Headmaster would be. I just hoped it was McGonagall or Dumbledore, which would mean I wasn’t too far back or forward in time. Dumbledore, he could be alive. I didn’t dare to hope. Just thinking about him made my eyes water.
The real question was in fact how far I had travelled; I had to focus on that. Some of the dangers of time travel hadn’t escaped my attention when hearing about it. Curious how it is always the most grotesque we remember when reading and learning. If this was the future, I could run into myself, if it was the past, the chance of that happening was nearly impossible seeing as I didn’t recall any changes being made in the common room my first years at Hogwarts.
Judging by the brightness of the sky and the emptiness of the halls, I assumed it was after lunch and both the teachers and the students were attending classes. The familiar halls of Hogwarts calmed my nerves and anxieties. I had been spontaneous, free, and I didn’t want to ruin it. There had to be consequences, but I would have to cross that bridge when I came to it.
Being so occupied by thoughts of time travel, I hardly even noticed where I was going. Looking up, I found myself outside the faculty room. I had been there once before, in a lesson with Professor Lupin in my third year. As a cold bucket of ice, the fear hit me once more; Snape. He could be in there. I didn’t know how long he had taught; I could have travelled only ten years back. Grabbing my wand from the inner pocket of my robe, I knocked on the door. If I saw him, I would kill him or die trying no matter what the consequences were.
“Yes?” A quite startled voice sounded from the opposite side of the door, a woman's voice.
I pushed the door open and dropped my wand in shock; I had travelled back in time, no doubt about it.
The reality of my whole adventure hit me hard. Up until then it had been a strange new thing, nothing made it real, no one was there to pinch me and tell me it wasn’t a dream. In front me stood my teacher. She looked almost the same, but just as Hogwarts, it was little things. Professor McGonagall was not young, but definitely younger.
Without realizing how I got there, I was sitting in a ruby red chair with a teacup in front of me. Feeling quite puzzled as to what was going on, and probably with a look that matched, I waited for the professor to speak.
She seemed to have noticed my surprise and seeing as I had blacked out, it wasn’t that hard to figure out. Her stern but friendly gaze stayed upon me as I sipped my tea.
“Are you feeling any better young man?” she asked apparently thinking I had had enough time to gather myself.
“Yes, thank you for the tea Professor Mc...” I tried to cough to cover my mistake, but from the look she sent me, she had already picked it up. However, she didn’t mention it right away.
“Let’s get on with it then. There is not one student in this school of which I do not know the name and face, especially not a Gryffindor student. Do you see where I am going with this?”
Talking to professors had never been my strong suit and as always, I felt my hands getting sweaty and my throat pulling into a knot, making it difficult to breathe. Looking at Professor McGonagall, I realized that she wasn’t my teacher; this was my chance to make a different impression. Even though the sweat and the knot remained, I found a way to speak.
“I understand how this could look Professor, but I am probably more confused than you.” The truth had a way of pouring out of me and knowing McGonagall, it was for the best anyway. My heart started pounding faster and harder. The sweating did not limit itself to my hands anymore; my hair was sticking to my forehead. The worst thing that can happen, I calmed myself, is that she doesn’t believe me.
“What year is this?” I asked her with a voice that trembled in spite of my efforts to calm down.
She looked at me quizzically, doubt overcoming her features. Being the fair witch that she was she seemed to give me the benefit of a doubt. I did not plan on misusing that. “Nineteen-seventy-six,” she said shortly keeping her eyes on me.
I almost choked on my tea.
The idea of travelling more than fifteen years back in time hadn’t even occurred to me, even though it should have. It was too outlandish to comprehend. My parents were fine... As that thought entered my mind, it went blank. Minutes must have passed before I snapped back in to reality. Professor McGonagall was silently watching me while I attempted to regain my composure once again.
My mother; Images of long lost memories washed over me. The rosy smell of her shampoo, her blue eyes sparkling with joy, her kind words of love for my father and me. Recent memories pushed their way in. Hospital beds, gum wrappers and only brief flickers of hints to what used to be a happy, beautiful witch.
My father; Brave, loving. The scent of mud under his shoes when he had worked in the yard for hours. The distinct scar on his cheek when it had still been a rosy kind of red. Again the more recent images of him sneaked up on me; laying silently with his eyes open. Not recognizing me, Gran nor his own wife.
I passed out yet again.
The lightness of the white sheets covering and surrounding me made me close my eyes just as I had opened them. My brain tried to process all that had happened, but found the task too difficult. Slowly I opened my eyes, little by little. A man with auburn, grey stained hair was hovering over me, making him the first thing my eyes found rest upon, amongst all the white. Dumbledore, Professor Dumbledore. It was at that moment everything came back once more. This was not a trick; not a prank pulled by someone who still had some humour left in the darkest of times. Dumbledore was, most certainly, dead. Yet here he was standing beside my bed, the twinkle present in his eyes as it should be.
“You have created quite a spectacle of yourself young man,” he began, apparently aware of my regained continuousness. “The whole school is buzzing. I haven't had this much riot since Minerva last danced at a school event.” He chuckled lightly.
Discovering that my mouth was hanging open as a sign of my surprise to see the Headmaster, I closed it.
“I think it is time I found out your name. After all, I can’t keep calling you young man.” He didn’t ask for information, he demanded it. As nice as he was to the people he knew, as firm could he be to someone who could be a threat.
“Neville Longbottom.” I answered truthfully, though I could detect a flicker of doubt behind the half-moon glasses.
“Longbottom? Augusta has never mentioned you,” he said, seriously penetrating my very being with his gaze.
A knot was forming in my throat again. Of course Gran hadn’t mentioned me, she didn’t know me. If I had felt a little better, I would have made a run for it; nobody was going to believe me. Even though my eyes were watering and my voice seemed to function less than normal, I went on; “She wouldn’t have sir, I... wasn’t exactly born yet.” I felt immensely stupid; Professor Dumbledore could see me with his very own eyes. Fear reared its ugly head again. I couldn’t bear to look at Dumbledore. Turning my head I felt a tear rolling down my cheek and entering my ear.
The Hospital Wing looked the same as always. It calmed me somehow, to know that not everything had changed. My gaze settled upon a figure lying in the other end of the Wing. A boy, probably sleeping. I hadn’t even noticed him, but then again, a sleeping person doesn’t demand a lot of attention.
When Professor Dumbledore spoke again, I forced my eyes to meet his. I wasn’t a coward and I wanted him to know I was being truthful.
“Who are your parents? I would imagine that I know them, if only by name.” His tone was soft and reassuring.
“Frank and Alice Longbottom, though my mother's maiden name is Dearborn.”
Dumbledore looked at me worried. Until then, he had been standing beside my bed. He pulled a chair up and sat down. His hands were folded in his lap and he seemed to be weighing every word carefully as he spoke.
“Alice Dearborn, yes, she is a sixth year Gryffindor student.” He looked saddened. “I do not know a Frank Longbottom.”
This couldn’t be; if my mother was here and she was a sixth year student, my father would have to be here too. He was only a year older than my mother. I wanted to tell Dumbledore this, but how could I? If the Headmaster didn’t even know him, who would? My world was spinning and on the verge of collapsing.
“Feeling any better there champ?” Sitting casually in the chair where Dumbledore had just been was a boy. He had brown eyes, a crooked smile, black hair and bore a striking resemblance to Harry Potter. “I am James, James Potter, you might have heard of me.” He smiled securely and placed his feet on the edge of my bed.
“Erh...” I didn’t really know what to say, a minute ago I had been talking to Dumbledore and now this cocky boy, who was the father of my friend, wanted to chat. “Where is Professor Dumbledore?” I asked trying to buy myself some time to come up with a story if he asked.
“Well you barfed and then you passed out. He said he would come and check on you. He must be on his way.” He looked over his shoulder as if expecting to see Dumbledore walking in the door.
This had to be a record, in a day I had passed out three times so far.
“So, who are you? I see you wear my colours.” He pointed at my Gryffindor robe that was hanging over the back of the hospital bed.
“Yeah well...” I hadn’t found a remotely good excuse and was lucky to be rescued as Dumbledore entered once more.
“James, you will have to wait for your answer. Now go back to your own bed and pretend you don’t hear us, will you?” Dumbledore winked at him and turned to regard me. “I hope James wasn’t too hard on you. He should be resting, but as he is up here more often than not. He tends to take Madame Pomfrey's directions a tad too lightly.” He glanced over at James’ bed and smiled. “How are you feeling?” Dumbledore asked devoting his full attention to me.
“Fine, I guess.” I wasn’t fine; I was far from fine. I couldn’t piece it all together. How could I be alive if my father didn’t exist?
“I wanted to ask you something; how did you get here? And more importantly, where did you come from?” He seated himself again waiting for an answer.
Even though I somehow knew that he would believe me if I told him the truth, it was hard. There was so much I didn’t understand myself, how could I ever explain it. “With a Timeturner sir, Augusta Longbottom is my grandmother.”
“Well I figured as much. I was looking for a bit more information, why don’t you start at the beginning?”
I told him everything that had happened when I found the Timeturner. When I first got started, I felt like I couldn’t stop, the words just poured out of me. Several times Dumbledore had to stop me; he told me that some things were not meant to be known before you lived them. When I had finished my story, I couldn’t help but feel dumb. Why should he believe me? I didn’t know where the Timeturner was and that was my only proof.
“Interesting” Dumbledore said, like this was a particularly rare plant he was studying. “I will have to make some arrangements with Augusta, to make you a Longbottom in this time too. If you were a Gryffindor before, you can be a Gryffindor again.”
“When will I be going back sir, to my own time?” He spoke as if I was supposed to stay there, in that time. It had crossed my mind when I first travelled, but Dumbledore was powerful, he would be able to send me back, or forward.
“I am sorry Mr. Longbottom, time travel only works one way. The future is not yet written. Even though you come from it, you are now a part of your own past.” He gave me a sympathetic look, but it didn’t help. All the blood from my face seemed to rush downwards making it difficult for my heart to keep up. It pounded faster and faster. The waterfall of new information flooded me. I wasn’t going back, ever. My home was twenty years away.
“I will give you time to rest and figure out what you want to do. We will talk again later, but remember; even though some things are meant to happen, people should never know too much about their own future.” With that he left, he left me with a lot to think about.
Before I could gather my thoughts James came rushing towards me again.
“You are from the future?” He didn’t look completely convinced, but apparently Dumbledore had the same leverage in this time as he had in mine.
“Yeah, would you mind telling me what is going on, I mean in the world.” You-Know-Who had to have some kind of power at this point as far as I knew, but people didn’t seem as suspicious.
“You are in the past, and you want to learn about world events?” James rolled his eyes and raised one eyebrow. “Fine. The Minister of Magic is Landon Redmond, a bit cocky if you ask me, he won't last very long. And there is this idiot out there spreading these fanatic Pureblood agendas, a lot of people are joining him and he is gaining more and more power, you know politically. He calls him self ‘Lord Voldemort’ though I doubt that it is his real name!”
I felt like someone had knocked the wind out of me. The fear of the name itself almost made me pass out again. I had always heard stories of how terrible it had been in the first war, but apparently it hadn’t started for real yet.
Something else suddenly grabbed my attention; two girls were walking in, one of them had red hair and familiar green eyes, she was pretty. But the other one; her hair was long and golden, her cheeks were rosy and even though her eyes were a bit swollen probably from crying, she was beautiful. Stunning.
“What’s wrong?” I asked her almost not audible.
“Oh, that filthy Slytherin Penelope Bufort hexed my hand, it is all...” She looked up and stopped talking as she realized that she didn’t know me. “Who are you?” She regarded me suspiciously.
I hadn’t thought of what to call myself, I could pick and choose. Neville had never worked well for me; maybe it was time to take a new name. James hadn’t heard anything but Longbottom. Then it dawned on me; my dad, he didn’t exist in this time, not yet anyway. Dumbledore had said that the future was yet to be written and I knew that my father had done great things. Maybe Frank was a better name than Neville.
“My name is Frank... Longbottom, who are you?”
As she told me her name, I knew that Dumbledore was wrong, the future was set.
“Alice Dearborn, pleasure to meet you Frank.”
I am always afraid.
No one know me. I am the one they question, I am the one who makes them wonder. I hear them whisper. I don’t belong.
The fear is consuming me, devouring me. Afraid of doing something, afraid of doing nothing. Was I always this way? I am going to do great things in the future. Skilled, Gifted, one who do belong. I am ready. My worth will be proven, to them, to me.
I am scared, afraid, terrified because I know what’s comming. You can’t be brave if you are never afraid; I will be brave.
Thanks to my beta Drommen for catching those last typos that just wont show themselves to me!
**A special thanks to Jynx67 for helping me out with this, I couldn't have done as well without you!**