Chapter 1 : Fear
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I'd just like to say thanks to my wonderful, watermelon-obsessed beta, WeasleyTwins. *sends out cosmic love to Twins* I owe all these characters and the Wonderful World of Harry Potter to JK Rowling. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy!
For Curiosity_is_not_a_sin’s Emotions Challenge
Fear n. 1. an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
It was almost palpable in the air. He could even see it (his eyes could see things others couldn’t. It had always been that way – because he had always been extraordinary). Light red sparks of fear littered the air and, if he had wanted to, he could have caught one on his tongue like a snowflake and tasted it. Voldemort smiled a twisted smile as he looked out the window of the Shrieking Shack. Fear was so interesting. People did such strange things in reaction to fear. It was so strong and enchanting just then that he almost forgot how angry he was in his excitement.
He was angry with Lucius for the diary and the prophecy, and for being so transparent in his lies. With Bellatrix for the sword and the cup, and for losing her wand, and for being beaten by a mudblood, a blood-traitor and Potter. With Draco for being too weak to complete the task he had given him (things would have been so much easier if he had). At Dumbledore for his mere existence and for thinking that he could outsmart someone like him.
And he was angry with Severus for having to die. Death was such an inconvenience. One that only lesser men had to deal with.
It was regrettable, but it had to be done. It really was such a waste. And what was worse was the fact that he was killing him out of fear.
Fear that Potter might know another secret of his – one that would truly ruin everything. As things stood now, he had the advantage. Nagini was by his side in an impenetrable globe (a special little invention of his own. He really could be such a genius) but Potter only needed one more gift from chance. One more accident and he would be in a rather difficult spot. Nothing he couldn’t handle, of course, but he did hate undue stress.
It wasn’t that he was afraid of Potter (that idea was positively laughable. Lord Voldemort, afraid of a schoolboy? Ridiculous!). He feared accidents, and human frailty and stupidity and, most of all, Harry Potter’s unfathomable luck.
Once the wand was his, he would be unassailable. Luck wouldn’t even factor into the equation. Lord Voldemort would have nothing to worry about, nothing to fear ever again.
And Potter would be just another bad memory from the past.
Hermione had been anxious for weeks on end. Months. Years, even.
She had always been a worrier, even as a child. Her mother had started calling her a mother hen when she was four and had planted daisies in the kitchen window box. She had watered them faithfully and watched them worriedly day and night, as though they were her children, waiting for them to sprout.
But sometime in the hours since they had first entered the castle that night her constant nervousness and unease had turned into fear. It was the kind of feeling that made your joints ache and your teeth sore. Her stomach no longer pained her though, the way it had for so long. It was like it wasn’t even there anymore. Her insides felt hollow, empty.
She looked over at Ron, feeling guilty for remembering the way he had kissed her earlier in the Room of Requirement now, while they were all gathered around Fred’s lifeless body.
Hermione tried not to recognize how easily Fred looked like Ron as he laid there, dead on the floor – with the same red hair, the same nose, the same freckles. The biggest difference between them was that Ron’s heart was still beating, still pushing hot blood through his veins, and Fred’s wasn’t.
But it could have easily been the other way around.
She shivered and wondered vaguely where on earth Harry had gotten to. She looked around the Great Hall absently, searching for his head of untidy black hair and then realized how silly that was. Harry would never have entered the Hall when he saw the grieving people and line of bodies in the center. He would be off somewhere, blaming himself for the actions and deaths of others.
She had worried about him for so long – Harry and his Saving People Thing – but now, she didn’t think she had the strength to worry about one more thing. Not for one more second. Not right now.
She was too stricken by everything that had happened to be strong at the moment.
Mrs. Weasley’s sobs broke through her thoughts and she choked down tears of her own. Whether they were from sadness or from fear she didn’t know, but her throat began to hurt from the pain of suppressing them.
Then she wondered why she was trying not to cry. Maybe if she did, she wouldn’t feel so hollow inside. If she could just get everything out, then maybe she wouldn’t feel so afraid for everyone.
Fred was dead and George would never be the same.
Remus and Tonks were already gone and they were never coming back.
She took a shaky breath as she thought about poor little Teddy. An orphan already. He wasn’t even a year old and he was all alone.
Her non-existent insides twisted fearfully.
By the time this war was over, would she be all alone too?
Ron wasn’t afraid anymore.
He had been, for even longer than he realized, but now his heart was filled with a cold fury that simply made the existence of any other feelings impossible.
Watching someone you loved die must do that to you, he thought.
It had always been in the back of his mind that this might happen. There were nine of them and the odds had always been bad. But to actually have his morbid wonderings come true –
It was even worse than the nightmares and terrifying daydreams that had plagued him for years. He almost wished that he could feel his insides boil with anger like they usually did. That might make him believe that this was real.
This was real. He had seen it happen.
And the only way he could think to fix it was revenge. His wand arm itched to throw a curse at someone. It ached for retribution.
But even then, he knew it wouldn’t be okay. Things would probably never be truly okay ever again. He hated that he couldn’t fix this.
Death was so cruel and final. Nothing could be done to make it otherwise.
He looked over at Hermione and was startled by the empty look in her eyes. Her lips were pale and her eyes were red-rimmed, but he didn’t remember seeing her crying. He wanted to go to her and hold her - to make her feel better and have her stop staring at Fred’s body like that – but he was afraid that she would be frightened by the icy rage emanating from his insides. That was the kind of thing you just didn’t share with other people.
Harry would understand though. He had had to watch Sirius die. Suddenly, Ron remembered the terrible screams that had been wretched from Harry’s chest, as he had struggled to get away from Remus so he could exact his revenge on Bellatrix. Ron knew exactly how he felt.
And now Remus was dead too.
Another layer of frosty anger hardened over his heart as he looked from Fred to Remus and Tonks.
Perhaps, if Ron had thought about it, he would have felt afraid again because his might be the next life taken. He could be the next to leave everyone else behind.
But he was too busy thinking that, if he had his way, he would never watch anyone he cared about die ever again.
Harry hated when he knew he was afraid. He supposed that he had felt this way hundreds of times without knowing what he was feeling.
Doing the right thing was so much easier when he didn’t know he was afraid.
He wondered at how strange it was that now, when he was feeling the most fear he had ever felt, he was even more determined to go through with it.
How could that be? Fear was supposed to induce some kind of fight-or-flight response, wasn’t it? So why was he going to surrender? That was neither ‘fight’ nor ‘flight’. That was ‘give up’. He had never given up before and it felt wrong. Especially when he was giving up on something like this.
His heart squeezed at the thought of leaving everyone behind.
Ron and Hermione.
They had been through so much together. They had insisted on following him through nearly every stupid, reckless decision he had made.
He was glad they couldn’t follow him now. It had been hard enough to let them come with him to the Shrieking Shack when he had known Voldemort was there. He could never have watched them die.
Maybe this way he would never have to.
His lungs seized up with fear for her. Visions of her white face against the flame-red of her hair as she lay dying in the Chamber, of her injured on the floor of the Department of Mysteries, flashed in front of his eyes.
This was the least he could do to keep her safe. If this worked –
He shook his head. Fear meant nothing in the face of doing the right thing.
Saving everyone else was enough.