Chapter 8 : Jeffery Gibbon: The Sting of Cowardice
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Disclaimer: Everything to do with Harry Potter belongs to J.K Rowling. I own nothing.
Gibbon looked around him horrified. He was in a street full of Muggles. Had they seen him apparate? This could not be happening! First his wife, and now this! Had he given the wizarding world up to the Muggles? Would the Ministry of Magic be arriving soon to wipe these muggle’s mind’s to what they’d seen and arrest him?
He was so shocked and scared that he found himself instantly just freezing up and just standing there. Gibbon was certain that if someone was to look into his head they would see a piece of parchment where his brain ought to be saying, 'Busy, come back later' in ink. He didn’t know how long he stayed like that but he found himself snapped out it by a muggle woman with a child talking to him.
For one horrible second he considered killing the woman. He wouldn’t be cruel. All he had to do was just pull out his wand and say the killing curse and then she’d be dead. But then of course that would mean he’d have to kill the whole village, including the woman who was staring at him in her car, including the teenagers lounging by the shop and the men staring at him from the pub. But he decided not to. There had already been more deaths than he could handle today. But he had to do something! He couldn’t leave the muggles knowing about the wizarding world!
But much to his intense relief it became apparent to him that no one had seen him apparate into the street. The glances he was getting from the muggles was due to his clothing. As soon as he’d realized this, with one more look around him, he began to run. He could only vaguely hear a man’s shout behind him but he hadn’t paid attention at the time. He had more important things on his mind. He had to go back.
Running into the alley way he saw the dead end and swore under his breath. Nothing could be easy for him could it? ‘Will it be safe to return to my home? Or will they still be there?’ he thought hurriedly to himself as he stared at the wall in front of him. He didn’t have time to ponder any other options because he heard a man’s yell again and the sound of someone running.
Swearing again Gibbon looked around to see that he wasn’t in danger of exposing himself to muggles this time, and seeing that he wasn’t, he apparated out of the Muggle town.
He appeared right outside his house, and drew back quickly when he saw the Dark Mark floating in the air. “No!” he gasped as he stared at it, “No, it can’t be true”. How had they managed to find them? He and his wife Maria had picked out a secluded area to live, how could the Death Eaters have found them? That was irrelevant now. He had to see her, see how she was. Pulling out his wand Gibbon opened the door with a shaking hand.
The mess in the main room hit him instantly. Broken glass scattered across the floor from where his garden window had been hit with a curse- or was it a stunning spell? Pumpkin juice lay spilt on the table dripping down onto the floor staining the carpet. He remembered Maria holding that glass of juice only hours ago, only sipping from it delicately as she laughed at one of Gibbons jokes.
Gibbon caught his breath when he saw the blood against the wall. His eyes fell to the body of the dead wizard on the floor, his physical complexion ruined so that he was beyond been identified. He wondered if they had tortured him before killing him. Gibbon shook his head as soon as this came into his head, he didn’t want to think about it. With one flick of his wand a white sheet from thin air appeared and covered the man. “I’m sorry” he muttered before leaving the main room.
It hadn’t been the wizards fault. He was a friend of one of Maria’s friends and had been there to congratulate her. He hadn’t known that when he arrived on their doorstep that he would never be leaving the house. That he was going to die.
Gibbon stood by the stairs not really knowing what to do. While he wanted to see Maria there was a part of him that didn’t, too afraid of what he’d fine. As he stood indecisively by the stairs he suddenly heard a high, cold voice. “Why so hesitant Gibbon?” Turning around, his wand at the ready, he expected to come face to face with a Death Eater who had waited for his return... It wasn’t a Death Eater.
He screamed terrified as he realized who it was. He Who Must Not Be Named. You Know Who. He couldn’t believe this!
Standing there in front of him You Know Who had a cruel smile on his lips, his red snake like eyes looking over him with cruel amusement. Forgetting about fighting altogether Gibbon turned around and ran- ran to get as far away from the monster in front of him as fast he could. He was an idiot to think he could escape. The moment Gibbon had turned his back on You Know Who and started to run he was hit in the back with spell, probably Stupefy.
Gibbon smashed into the vase of flowers by the ornaments breaking it and just about the rest of the objects as well. Water splashed onto him soaking not only his head but also the top half if his robes. He could feel himself shaking all over. He heard You Know Who laugh cruelly as footsteps approached him. “My wife- my wife- don’t kill her!” spluttered Gibbon rubbing the water out of his eyes and standing up to stare at You Know Who desperately. “My wife is pregnant!”
“You wife is dead.”
“No” whispered Gibbon his voice low as he looked in disbelief at You Know Who. But one look confirmed him that this was the truth, and he fell to his knees howling. Why did he expect differently? He had practically seen Fenrir Greyback leap at her. Maybe he had just not wanted to believe it, or maybe he had hoped she would pull through. But he was wrong. Maria his wife and his forever unborn child were dead.
How had his life turned out so bad? Granted he had not had the best upbringing but he had pulled through in the end and made a life for himself. Not that he had one anymore.
Gibbon was a Half-blood born from a Muggle mother and Pure-blood father. He couldn’t remember much about his father, only that when he was eight years old his father left the family and Gibbon never saw him again. His mother took it hard, especially because of the fact that his father never explained he was a wizard. From the minute he turned eleven and was offered a place at Hogwarts he had changed in his mother’s eyes.
At first he had being more like a burden; a constant reminder of the husband who had abandoned her. By the time he was eleven she had already remarried and had another child. But when he was told he was a wizard by a Ministry official and told he had a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry, she saw him as something inhuman. “The freak” she used to say when in a particularly nasty mood. He was the freakish offspring of her good for nothing ex-husband.
Gibbon found it such a relief to go to Hogwarts. He wouldn’t have to put up with his mothers snide remarks, nor see her badmouthing him to his stepfather. He spent most of his time working hard and remaining quiet, not really socializing with anyone. It was only when he was seventeen and of age that he finally left his mothers home for good.
He’d like to say left because it gives the impression of someone leaving bravely and with dignity, with their head help up high- but he didn’t leave like that. Ran away is a more suitable word. He had skulked away like a spineless coward. Gibbon was known for not been the bravest of people. It was probably a reason why he’d never been considered for Gryffindor by the Sorting Hat.
In the dead of night he packed everything he owned and ran out into the night not looking back. He had left a note to his mother explaining why, and to this day had never seen her again. He could just imagine her ripping the letter to pieces and then burning it with her cigarette.
He had hitched a ride on the Night Bus paying with the little Galleons he had and then used the rest to buy a room in the Leaky Caldron. Of course it hadn’t been easy, but he had got by. He managed to get a job in Diagon Alley earning a modest salary and lived off what he earned. He may not have been the richest or most respected wizard out there but it had been a good life.
And it had got better. He had met Maria and fallen for her. He loved her eyes, her smile, her wavy black hair that fell to her shoulders, and the fact that she actually seemed interested in him. They had soon married and he had brought a house for the two to the live in, and it was there that Gibbon and his wife had lived peacefully and happily soon to await the birth of his child when Maria became pregnant.
And then they had both heard the news. Cedric Diggory, a boy who was a contestant in the Tri-Wizard tournament (been played at his old school Hogwarts), had been found dead, and Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived who was also a contestant had said it was You Know Who who had returned along with his Death Eaters. They had been worried, especially Maria, who had instantly went to talk to one of her friends eager to hear their thoughts on the whole matter.
But they had calmed down when the Daily Prophet had said that it was all lies. That Harry Potter was just seeking attention, that Albus Dumbledore was going mad, and that the boy Cedric Diggory’s death was merely a tragic accident. He had believed it, grasping to it like a man to an object when drowning in water. He had not wanted to believe that He was back. So he continued to live and ignored any signs that said otherwise about You Know Who, believing that everything in his life would be fine.
They came the late afternoon. The sun was out shining in the slightly grey sky and Maria was throwing up in the bathroom with morning sickness. Her friend’s friend, the wizard who had been killed, was busy asleep in the guest’s bedroom. She had gone downstairs to have pumpkin juice while Gibbon and the wizard had followed preferring coffee. He had then gone back up to bed to try and doze off. He had just lain in his bed, still only half asleep, when he heard Maria’s scream. He had thought it was a dream but it was only when he heard the shatter of glass and the wizard scream as well that he realized that it was happening in the house and had ran downstairs.
And then he had seen them.
Four Death Eaters standing in his living room, wands raised, pointed at Maria who was clutching the table for support while the wizard crouched on the floor moaning. Two of them were very large; another was big and with more muscles while the last one was the smallest with cold grey eyes. Behind the four Death Eaters stood a big man with matted grey fur and what appeared to be whiskers. When he spoke or laughed he had a horrible raspy voice. Gibbon recoiled a bit as the smell of sweat and blood hit him. He could smell it even from where he was standing. He knew instantly that he was Fenrir Greyback and he hated that he was here in his house.
He had screamed when Fenrir had charged at Maria knocking her to the ground and had then began biting and attacking her like a dog would do. He had ran into the room to confront the four Death Eaters, now only two as Maria had taken one of them down, while the wizard had dealt with the other much bigger one.
The wizard was too tired and weak from his fight with the big Death Eater and was taken down easily by the big muscled one. It was as he stood there, listening to his wife’s shrieks and Greyback’s laughter, and facing the two remaining Death Eaters unharmed and wands ready that Gibbon… that he… that he…
That he ran.
Without any thoughts of concern he had apparated out of his house, leaving his wife to be attacked and the wizard to die. How brave of him. Gibbon knew he was a coward when faced with situations such as that, or any situations really, but never once had he suspected that he was that low and traitorous. He had placed his life with more importance than his pregnant wife, choosing to save his own slimy skin than save hers and the wizard.
And that was when he had appeared in the Muggle street, scared and panicking about what had just happened, only to realize that he had to go back. Well it was much too late now to try and be noble. He’d had his chance and he’d blown it the first chance he’d got. He was nothing by scum.
Gibbon still lay crouched at You Know Who’s feet and still wept at his wife’s death and the fact that if he hadn’t of run she could still be alive. She may have had to live scared but she still would have being alive. But she wasn’t. She was dead and it was his entire fault. “So upset Gibbon?” spoke You Know Who, his cruel voice taunting.
“She’s my wife I loved her, of course I’m upset!” yelled Gibbon angrily at You Know Who’s words, lifting his tear stained face to glare at the dark wizards white, inhuman snake like one.
“Love?” muttered You Know Who. He said the word as if it was an ugly, alien thing to him, something which he couldn’t quite understand. “You loved the mudblood?”
“Yet you abandoned her, pregnant with your child, to die?”
At these words Gibbon let out an agonized moan, howling even harder than he had before. It was while he was busy sobbing that he saw You Know Who out of the corner of his eye draw his wand.
With a frightened yelp, Gibbon backed away from You Know Who, begging, his hands rose as if to shield himself. “Don’t kill me!” he begged pitifully as You Know Who advanced towards him, “I beg you! Don’t kill me!”
You Know Who gave a nasty mirthful laugh. “Don’t kill you? Why? What use would you be to me Gibbon? I do not want a wizard who will run away at the first sign of danger or death” he insulted.
“I won’t- I won’t do that” stuttered Gibbon as he stared pleadingly up a You Know Who, his face wide with fear and desperation. His eyes suddenly fell on the stairs and a burning question began to fill him. “Please” he implored, “please I must know. Who were the other three that are responsible for my wife and unborn child’s death?”
“Why do you think Lord Voldemort would know, Gibbon?”
“Well.... they were Death Eaters... weren’t they?” Gibbon didn’t know what to think now. If they weren’t Death Eaters then who could they possibly be?
And then Gibbon’s mind snapped under the stress of it all and his guilt over his cowardice and desperateness to make up for it caused him to grasp at any explanation he could find no matter how ludicrous it might be. “No” gasped Gibbon stunned, “that can’t be true”. He turned to face Voldemort and spoke in a horrified but angry voice,
“They are Ministry Workers who are also members of the Order of the Phoenix aren’t they? They have betrayed me like they are deceiving and betraying everyone else in the wizarding world. They dressed as Death Eaters merely to hide their identity and shift the blame onto you and your followers. Greyback who I saw was merely a fake wasn’t he? They and the Order have been the bad ones all along!” Voldemort listened to these words and smiled, his lips twisted in a cruel smirk.
And something happened to Gibbon right there and then, something which had never happened before. A powerful emotion came over him, so powerful that he felt as if his body could barely contain itself. It was hate and it began to consume him. Suddenly he found himself not begging for his life but instead for revenge. He wanted to live so he could make the Ministry, Order of the Phoenix and every damn supporter suffer. And most of all he wanted to kill the four men who murdered his wife. If he couldn’t make up his running away and leaving her he’d do the next best thing- avenge her death.
“So you wish to become a Death Eater?” whispered You Know Who, now more to himself than Gibbon. “You do have potential and I can see that you’re serious about joining me” His red eyes fell on Gibbon who he spoke to again. “If I let you live Gibbon you will serve me loyally and with out question until the day you die”
“Yes, yes” Gibbon said only half paying attention. So consumed was he by thoughts of revenge that he wasn’t even paying attention to You Know Who’s words. It was a big mistake.
Gibbon screamed as a pain he had never felt before in his life entered his body. Twisting and writhing on the floor, Gibbon’s hands scratched and tore at the carpet with the pain. He let out a gasp of relief as the spell was lifted and the pain left instantly. And while he wheezed, taking deep breaths he heard You Know Who say,
“Yes Master” panted Gibbon dejectedly, lying at his new master’s feet, gasping with every breath he took. This was the worst he’d felt in his entire life.
“Give me your arm Gibbon” You Know Who ordered softly.
“Your arm Gibbon.” You Know Who’s lips turned up into a nasty, humourless smile as he waited patiently.
His mind was suddenly pulled away from his hate and now he was feeling fear again. Gibbon just sat there staring at You Know Who puzzled. And then he realized what You Know Who was going to do and he recoiled turning his face away. But eventually he gave in, too scared of another attack. His eyes now wide, his face a sickly white, sweat mixing with the water on his forehead and his remaining hand balled up tight, he lifted his arm towards You Know Who who instantly clenched it and put his wand to the arm.
Gibbon screamed again as the wand burned into his arm, like fire, or as he presumed acid. Kicking out and struggling to free his hand, he was unable to as You Know Who stood there hand tightening around his arm as the wand continued to burn the mark into his skin. When he was done, with one final cruel laugh at Gibbon who was now nothing more than a pathetic crying bundle on the floor, nursing his arm now engraved with the burning Dark Mark, You Know Who apparated leaving him alone.
“I’m sorry” he cried as he lay there, “I’m sorry I left you” he said it over continuously to the dead Maria who he was sure was lying upstairs on the floor. He had betrayed her.
“Are you listening to me?”
Gibbon shook out of his thoughts as he turned to face a Death Eater named Yaxley who had a rather brutal appearance and was looking at him agitated. Yaxley had never quite liked Gibbom and he had never hidden this fact from him or the public. Maybe it was because Yaxley knew that Gibbon was a coward who would run at the first sign of danger without a second though to family or friends?
“What?” he muttered.
Yaxley sighed angrily and took a swig of some Fire Whiskey while a massive blonde Death Eater by the name of Thorfin Rowle sitting near him spoke this time.
“He said Gibbon that when we enter Hogwarts you will enter the Astronomy Tower and set off the Dark Mark”
Yaxley had finished his Fire Whiskey and glared at Gibbon, “Understand? Or is that too difficult for you?”
Gibbon just shook his head picking up his own pumpkin juice and drinking from it. He turned back to his two fellow Death Eaters and asked, “Is it only Dumbledore the Dark Lord wants killed? What about Potter?”
“Potter is not to be killed or harmed, only Dumbledore or anyone else who gets in our way” answered Rowle as he drained his goblet, filling both his and Yaxley’s one’s again with Fire Whiskey.
From across the room there was a wheezy giggle. “The Order is in for a shock tonight. So are the professors and the students” Amycus Carrow giggled again and then drank from his goblet. The only one in the room who wasn’t drinking out of the five Death Eaters was the only female Alecto Carrow, who was sitting next to Amycus inspecting her wand looking very bored. Her face lightened up when she saw a rat a couple of distances away from the table and fired the killing curse at it. Her expression soured however when she missed.
It was only later as they had entered Hogwarts with Draco Malfoy guiding the five of them through the pitch black corridors that Gibbon’s thoughts drifted to the past.
He was blamed for the deaths. Gibbon read about it in the Daily Prophet the next day as he stayed with the rest of the remaining Death Eaters.
The story was that Maria had been cheating on him with the wizard and that the baby had been his not Gibbon’s, and that when Gibbon found out he had went into a rage and killed the both of them. It had been incredibly hard for Gibbon to read but he had continued and kept the article because it helped not only fuel his anger but also serve as an encouragement for him to continue with what he was doing- his revenge.
It was also believed that he had become a Death Eater before the attack, but the Ministry was hushing this up just like they’d hidden the fact that the Dark Mark had been hovering over his house. Of course they would be. They wouldn’t want anything to do with the Dark Lord going public since they wanted the wizarding world to still believe that the Dark Lord had not returned. The Ministry and the Daily Prophet had been the Dark Lord and Death Eaters dreams come true then. At the time Gibbon so filled with hate towards the Minsitry and Order had seen it only as means to make them appear innocent and that what they really didn’t want was for evidence to come out and expose them.
For the first couple of months Gibbon was silent, not talking to anyone. He kept to himself and only spoke when spoken to. He didn’t do much either for he didn’t find much fun in his life. When he did do something it was following the Dark Lords orders, whether it was using the Imperious, Cruciatus, or Avada Kedavra curse on someone. And he enjoyed it all by revelling in the pain he was causing to the Order members and Ministry workers and their followers or supporters. He had recently participated in the murder of Emmeline Vance, and had been the main attacker.
He may not have been the best Death Eater around like Lucius Malfoy, or Bellatrix Lestrange, but he was good and loyal enough. And while he’d spent the last year trying his hardest to block out any thoughts of the life before he’d become a Death Eater it had proved hard. While easy to forget in the day, he’d remember at night which would cause nightmares. He always had the recurring dream of Maria dead looking at him accusingly, and condemning him, saying he betrayed them. He’d nearly always wake up in a sweat.
It was only after the twelve Death Eaters attempt to receive the prophecy from Potter in the Department of Mysteries that Gibbon discovered the identities of the four Death Eaters who had killed his wife and the wizard. As a small horrified part of him had suspected for awhile after that nightmarish day, Lucius Malfoy was one, having been the smallest out of the four and the one with the cold grey eyes. The big muscled Death Eater who had been standing next to Malfoy unharmed, having attacked the wizard easily was Walden Macnair, a worker in the Ministry as an executioner of dangerous beasts. And the last two, the big Death Eaters taken out by Maria and the wizard, had been Crabbe and Goyle.
By the time Gibbon had found this out the four were in Azkaban, the attempt in the Department having failed, and eleven out of the twelve Death Eaters been captured by the Aurors. Gibbon could not have been able to describe the rage he felt when he found this out. It was his dearest wish that the four never left Azkaban and stayed there till they died. Or even better yet he hoped he could have a chance to kill them, horribly was the preferable option. But the harshest truth for Gibbon was that he had betrayed Maria.
And it was true. He had betrayed her… but he had also betrayed himself.
Not only had he ran away leaving her but he had also joined the very wizards who had killed her. The Dark Lord and the Death Eaters strove to sustain blood purity in the wizarding world, eliminating any witches or wizards with Muggle ancestry, or Muggles and Mudbloods in general. And yet he was a Death Eater. A Half-blood Death Eater who killed Muggles, Mudbloods and any other witches and wizards the Dark Lord ordered him to. He who had Muggle blood in his veins and he was killing them. He was the worst of the worst. Pure-bloods at least had no Muggle blood in them.
And to top it off he was only a Death Eater and working for the Dark Lord to save his own life. While at first it was purely out of revenge and loyalty to the Dark Lord who he felt had been right all along, but now it was different. He couldn’t just leave the Death Eaters; he now had to stay until he died. It was either that or death. So like the coward he was he chose to live instead. He wasn’t doing it because he believed in blood purity; he was doing it because he didn’t want to be killed. He couldn’t face dying. He didn’t want to die. He’d chosen to live disgraced, rather than die bravely. After all, Gibbon was a coward, always had been.
Gibbon jumped as he heard a yell from below the Tower stairs, it sounded like it came from Yaxley. Taking out his wand Gibbon pointed it at the sky and yelled, “Mosmorde!” Soon right above the Astronomy Tower was the Dark Mark, and Gibbon stared at it hating everything to do with it. Now all he had to do was wait, wait for Dumbledore to arrive. But as Gibbon stood there he started to get more and more nervous, and then soon he was looking anxiously at the Tower stairs.
He couldn’t stay. He wouldn’t be able to wait there for Dumbledore, to see the look in Dumbledore’s eyes which he knew would be there. Pity and disgust, he wouldn’t be able to stand it. He knew that when Dumbledore saw him, he too would know the sad, horrible fact that Gibbon had known the moment he had abandoned Maria and became a Death Eater. He was beyond forgiveness. Or…or maybe he wasn’t, maybe he could find peace one day and not have to suffer from the nightmares that disturbed and troubled his nights. Maybe…hopefully…never.
Gibbon ran out of the Tower and down the stairs planning to just leave Hogwarts like he’d done that year ago at his home. He would run away like the coward he was; it was all he was really ever good at doing anyway. Who knew, maybe he wouldn’t always have to run away; maybe he wouldn’t always have to be a coward. He thought this as he ran down the stairs to the fight that was going on between the rest of the Death Eaters and the Order members, not really noticing the flash of green light that had just narrowly missed a shabby, ragged looking wizard with greying hair, coming straight towards him.
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