A/N: This was written for the second round of the TGS Quidditch World Cup Writathon, where we were charged to write an OC Hufflepuff with blue eyes, brown hair, and a fear of spiders. While not required, I've included all of these traits in some form, some very subtlely and I wonder if my readers catch them.
Also, incredibly huge thank you to my dear friend, Annie (Ellerina). Without her input and patience this story wouldnt be what it is today. And to Gryffin_Duck and DarkLadyofSlytherin for their input as well. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for reading and reviews are always appreciated.
"You're a boy, Hubrecht! How can you be afraid of spiders?"
Though the words must have been spoken years ago, you hear her child's voice still ringing out as clear and bold as the heavy bells that bore the news of your homecoming.
They’re trapped, however.
Despite having leaked from the perforated box of your memory, her voice does not travel but remains locked within the confines of the stones that surround you. The stone cuts them, and what little remains of you, off from everything--everything except the spider that is making its way up the summit of your arm.
It wasn't so long ago (or maybe it was) that you would have recoiled at the tickle of the spider across your skin, whimpered as it scurried across your chest. But, you feel nothing, and see nothing, and there is no air to form sound within your lungs.
Even the light of your memory is dimming. Blackness scorches the refinements of the room as time moves forward and the sunshine of your childhood melts into the darkness of your tomb. And yet, your child self remains suspended in the moment, and you answer her accusation with a shrug and hover behind her, anxious for her safety, as she crawls under the bed in quest of the beast that has taken residence there.
She scuttles back from the edges of the dream with dust marring her golden hair and a great big spider cupped in her girlish hands. “Look,” she orders with authority beyond her years, “it won’t hurt you.”
Compulsively, you step back, but do not go far (you would never dream of going far from her), only to have shame replace your fear when she stares at you with all the glory of a field in midsummer. You have never felt less of a noble man (or a nobleman) next to her, not when her presence makes you feel like a brick wall behind the colorful tapestry of her existence. She retains all the violent beauty of the richest elements—she is rubies and gold and has emeralds for eyes while you are the earth, cool and brown from days spent out of doors, exploring all the wonders of nature with your pet Crup.
Your friend drops the spider on the floor before her, and raises her foot.
“Don’t!” You cry a second too late, and you wince as her boot comes down upon the creature.
“I thought you were afraid of them.”
You stare at the blackness that has swallowed the spider, and nod. “But it was alive,” you whisper quietly.
And so once were you, but now your body and heart lie still together in impenetrable darkness. Never again will you be able to watch the light with a child’s fascination as it filters through the leaves, or listen to them as they ring with the voices of angels as a breeze passes between their branches. Gone forever is the warmth in your feet from when your Crup would curl up at the foot of your bed, on nights when the harsh winter air would rattle the drafty castle windows. These moments, and thousands of others are recalled and released, never to be regained from the emptiness that surrounds you.
In the moment it takes for the spider to lay the first strand of silk across the crook of your elbow, the memories pass like water and the girl child becomes a woman and you broaden into the capsule of a man. From your father, you have learned to ride out and examine crops and talk to your people, and, from your mother, you have learned to listen to them and to respect their simplicity and their diligence.
She has taught you that all beings are begotten from the earth, and all will return from whence they came. And in that sense, all beings are equal. It’s a truth that stuck with you at an early age, and, even now as a youth, you are still as steady and generous as the soil in your mother’s garden.
But the girl child blossoms into the heavens to which the plants aspire. Her presence humbles you, though she tells you, time and again, to never undersell yourself, to never feel that you are less than others, for you are worthy as any man of the blessings bestowed upon you, and probably more than most. She says it is foolishness to believe otherwise.
You tell her it is indeed a failing on your part, and she looks scornfully upon you, for it infuriates her that you are vigilantly aware of your faults and blessings, but never your worth.
She says that you are not a boy anymore.
Her visage as she speaks those words remain as clear as crystal through the darkness that rolls over you. The scarlet of her cloak is brighter than ever as it flaps around her on that windy hill on that sad day.
She tells you that you are Lord Hubrecht now, the young Earl of Hufflepuff.
(You are far too intimate of friends to be a lord to her, though she will always tread through your soul with the consequence of a Lady.)
“Your people love you, Hubrecht. And you will be great for them.”
That is the day of your father’s funeral, and she cannot foresee the spider that will find its home in you after your own.
She tells you, as you stand together like the old friends you have always been (or perhaps you have always been more), that you have eyes as honest as the sky and as deep as the ocean, and she cannot bear to see them rain. Her words caress your soul and become part of you. Listening to her, you suddenly find yourself upon the horizon, at that point of infinity where earth and sky meet. And there, carried in the wind and grief is the moment your intended becomes your beloved.
And you never did want it to end. For against all of her well-intentioned words, you feel even more blessed than before. The marriage between you has always been inevitable. From a young age, you were drawn together by family loyalty, but now your spirits are lifted to think your wedding day will bring great happiness to both your family and your own heart.
“Godefe,” you call to her right before she turns away with tears in her eyes. Her brother and your mother make their way slowly up the slope towards the two of you, and you want to make the most of this moment with her.
Somewhere there is a stirring in your faded self, a longing, a strong desire to call her name once more. You want, if you can still want, to tell her not to weep. To tell her not to weep for you.
A firm hand reaches out then and clasps you by your shoulder. Godefe’s brother nods to you sympathetically, and you look up to him as you always have; to you, he is the elder brother you crave and his support means more than you can comprehend in that trying time.
“Godric,” you call as he turns away. (You’re always calling out after people, taking the initiative too late.) He turns back to you.
“Thank you, for the support you’ve shown my mother and I during this difficu—”
But, a violent torrent of screams and death-rattles drown out the rest of your words and the memory shifts. War is fought in hills and valleys too distant to be seen, but you cannot ignore it. Those who have grown fearful of the Muggles have also become bitter. Some ancient families turn to the Dark Arts for their answers, and this you cannot abide. Though you care not for the hard clash of sword against sword or the shout of curses, your allies ride out to battle and so must you.
Your opponent looks so young (younger even than you) as he lays at the mercy of your sword. You stare into his wide, frightful eyes, and you haven’t the heart to end his life. You relax your grip. Then, as the force of his retaliatory blow sends you into the mud of the battlefield, you realize your hesitation will be your downfall. Once again, you’ve failed to take the initiative. Now, the spider crest on his shield swims before your vision as you stare up through the blood that runs into your eyes.
You blink away the blood and still, you see scarlet. You’re on that windy hill again. Godefe’s cloak whips before your eyes as she wills you to be stronger than you are. But, it’s her that makes you strong, and you long to speak but the moment is passed.
You open your mouth and scream as pain unimaginable rips through your body. Your enemy’s enchanted sword has sliced through your armor and sears like acid. You lie helpless and still, a fallen knight who was never truly suited to wear armor. You think of home and the harvest, and imagine that the titter of the dying men around you is the singing of the birds as they flee south for the winter.
Your memories are fused together as the last of your sentience escapes your bones and dies within your tomb. They bleed into each other as you have bled into the earth from which you were begotten, staring up at the heavens as your friend appears from nowhere and rages above you, defeating the foes you could not strike down.
You look up to him as the elder brother you have never had, and that he might have been if things had turned out differently.
“I’m frightened,” you confess in the moments when you know only the terror of dying, before you know how comfortable death can be.
He kneels beside you on the battlefield when your foes are beaten back, and clasps your shoulder firmly.
Your fears quell, and you nod.
“Tell my mother”—blood soaks your words—”that I’m sorry.”
“No,” Godric says quietly, “I should have looked out for you better.”
It feels as though the mud has turned to ice around your skin, and you shiver, making it difficult for you to speak. “Tell her.”
Reluctantly, Godric nods at your insistence.
His mouth twitches at the mention of his sister, and he clutches your shoulder tighter.
“Tell her…do…not…weep for m—”
In your very last moments, you think of the life Godefe will live without you. You pray that it is happy, and that she will flourish and never regret the life you might have had together. You pray that your mother’s heartbreak will heal quickly, and that Hufflepuff will continue to flourish. You make only one request for yourself as you die: that this pain and fear not be the last thing you remember.
Godric dips his head to your mother as the two of you prepare to mount, your saddles ladened with the goods of war.
“Godric, you silly boy, come here,” she responds.
He reluctantly allows himself to be pulled into a hug, and, biting back a smile, you glance over to Godefe, who is biting back her own. Your eyes lock for a moment that encompasses the entire world, and you smile in earnest.
“Hubrecht, my dear child.”
Your mother is very close to you when she speaks these words, and you turn to her. Your smile evaporates to see tears in her eyes as she reaches up to you. You bow your head and allow her to kiss the top of it as if you were still a little boy. As you're barely of age, still full of hope and inexperience, you have to swallow back the emotion that rises in your own throat.
It is a simple request, and you nod to her.
“I will, Mother.”
In a flash, you and Godric are past the gate and are riding out to join the fight, when the sound of galloping hooves pulls your attention. The party halts, and you turn in your saddle to see a goddess on horseback. Her scarlet hood slips back and her golden hair streams behind her like a flag. The gravel crunches as she comes to a sudden halt facing you, her eyes ablaze. Your heart races at the sight of her.
“Godefe! What in Merlin’s name are you doing here? It’s far too—”
She holds out her hand to silence her brother, and surprise washes over you when he falls quiet at her request.
She guides her horse closer to you. Your cloaks are picked up in the wind and swirl together, mixing the colors of your great houses, which gives the illusion of rubies still held within the earth.
“I could not bear to see you go without telling you…” She hesitates for the first time you can ever recall, “without telling you to come home—for me, as well. Come home for me.”
It’s a request spoken only for you, and you have every intention of keeping your promise. You do not know that this will be the last time you will look upon her, and that the next time she sees you, you will be splayed upon an oxcart, pale and unseeing with your shield upon your chest.
But this is your moment, and you do not want to let it pass you by.
Her name is a melody on your breath as you lean forward in your saddle and kiss her softly. And you suddenly find yourself upon the horizon, that special point of infinity where earth and sky finally meet.
You wish the moment would never end.
But eventually nothing remains, not even your soul. Its energy slips back into the stones of the earth and rests there. Eventually, there’s just a spider left, weaving a dreamcatcher for a home upon the shield of a corpse.