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Thanatophobia by AlexFan
Chapter 1 : Falling Asleep
Rating: 12+Chapter Reviews: 16

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Hugo Weasley was terrified of dying. Ironically enough, he was dying; it’s funny how life works out sometimes, isn’t it?

He had been sick since he was fifteen, at the time the Healers hadn’t thought it was anything serious but as time went on, things got worse and worse. His family had no choice but to check him in at St. Mungo’s when they found him lying on the floor, spitting up blood. The Healers had run a bunch of tests on him and given him countless potions but nothing worked. It wasn’t until he was seventeen that the Head Healer had given the family the news that Hugo would die.

It was an unknown disease, as far as the hospital knew, Hugo was the first one to ever be diagnosed with it. When his parents had asked the Healer's how they knew that Hugo was going to die if they didn't know what the disease was, they had replied with the fact that whatever it was that he had was slowly eating away at him. Everything inside of him was slowly shutting down. The tests that had been run on Hugo came back worse and worse, showing signs that his arteries were becoming weaker every day.

Hugo was now nineteen and his entire life revolved around St. Mungo’s. He was in a hospital bed twenty-four seven, hooked up to countless bags of medicine and alone. He didn’t blame his family for not always being there, they had jobs and school to think about and Hugo couldn’t exactly demand that they abandon all of that to be with him.

Being alone gave him time to think though and Hugo Weasley had discovered that he was absolutely terrified of death. He spent hour after hour attempting to distract himself from the thought of dying and what would happen to his body. There were times when he was paralyzed with fear when he imagined death and what it would be like.

What if it was painful? What if he was in so much pain when he died that he would remember it forever and always? What if he died while he was sleeping? He would never know that he had died and maybe he would be stuck wandering the unknown with no idea of what was going on.

He was so painfully aware of his heart beating in his chest and pumping life throughout his body, the idea that that would stop happening terrified him. He didn’t want his heart to stop beating. He didn’t want it to be still, he wanted it to keep working. He wanted to breathe in the oxygen and let out the carbon dioxide, he wanted to see the sun rise and set and to see the flowers and trees bloom but he didn’t want to see them die. They would only remind him of the fact that eventually he would die.

That eventually he would just be a corpse, a body without a working heart, without working lungs and a quiet brain with no thoughts.

Eventually Hugo Weasley would stop breathing and every time he thought of his lungs sitting still, he would take in a large deep breath and remind himself that he was still breathing and alive at the moment. He would never be able to move his legs or arms or speak words; he would never be able to think again, he would simply cease to exist.

He couldn’t bear the thought of not existing, of not being.

It was funny how the fact that you were going to die soon suddenly made you more aware of the world around you and everything that you had to lose. Hugo didn’t want to lose everything, not his life, not his friends and most certainly, not his family. It seemed that luck wasn’t in his favor; everything in his life seemed to lead up to the point where he died and lost everything good in his life.

His family worried about him and the fact that he barely spoke, moved or noticed them but Hugo was too busy thinking. He would look at his hands and flex his fingers and think about he might not be able to do that soon.

If he had to die he hoped that it wouldn’t be painful or bloody, it would be his worst nightmare to die while he was in one of his episodes. He didn’t want to think about the fact that he might die while choking on and attempting to spit out the blood clogging his throat. He didn’t want to think about the fact that he might die on one of those days where he couldn’t move his arms, legs or head. 

He didn't want to die helpless.

The worst thing about all of this he thought was that he didn’t know when he would die. It could happen any time and he wouldn’t be able to do anything to stop it. He might not even be able to get to say goodbye to all of his family. Maybe if Hugo knew when he would die it would be easier for him to accept the fact that he would eventually pass away. Perhaps that was the fun part of death, Hugo thought bitterly, you didn’t know when it would come and claim you as one of its own.

He tried to cheer himself up with the thought that he would go to the place where his Uncle Fred was and his cousin Lily's Granddad James and Grandma Lily. He’d finally get to meet them at last, but even that thought didn’t succeed in cheering him up for long. The fact was that even if he did get to finally meet them, he would still be leaving everyone else.

Soon, he would be flesh on bones and then he would be buried six feet under the ground. His family would visit him but he would just be bones in a coffin, unable to speak to them or offer comfort.

As Hugo got worse, so did his fear. There were times where he went days without sleeping because he was so scared that if he closed his eyes he might never wake up again. His family and the nurses urged him to get some rest because he was doing himself no favours by staying awake. In fact, he was probably helping to make himself worse and that scared Hugo more than anything else that the Healers had told him. So he slept and tried to get better but couldn’t.

He started to have more episodes, began to spit up more blood and choke on even more than the amount that he spit out. Nurses were rushed in and often had to clear his throat and bring him back to consciousness. Each time he would think this is it, this time I really die. Hugo moved less and less as the days went on and turned into weeks. He now had to be fed most of the time. There were days when he didn’t recognise his family or friends and was scared out of his mind about the strange people sitting around him.

He was more terrified of dying than ever and the hallucinations of demons and other frightening things coming for him weren’t helping that. There were days when he was delirious with fever and saw these strange things reaching for him and he thought that this was it, they were finally coming for him. Whoever they were, he didn’t know and neither did anyone else.

His family knew that the end was near and even though Hugo denied it, he knew that the end was near as well. He just didn’t want to accept the fact that soon he would close his eyes and never open them again. His soul would simply float out of his body and wander the earth, looking for something to do. His family would bury him and he would slowly decay. They would visit him every year and lay down fresh flowers on his grave and read him stories.

“Uncle Harry?” Hugo asked, his voice weak and hoarse as he turned his head to look at his uncle. He hadn’t spoken for days and his throat hurt now that it was being put to use all of a sudden.

“Yes Hugo?” his uncle asked in turn.

“You died, right?”

“I guess you could say that I was dead for a few minutes, yes,” Harry replied, chuckling as he leaned back in the plastic, uncomfortable chair that the hospital had provided for him.

“Did it hurt?” Hugo asked, “did dying hurt?”

“Quicker and easier than falling asleep,” Harry said, smiling sadly at his pale nephew. Hugo managed a grin; his Uncle always had a way of making him feel better about things. He knew just what to say and when to say it.

“Thanks Uncle Harry.”

“No problem Hugo, go to sleep, you need it,” Harry said, ruffling his nephew’s head. Hugo closed his eyes obediently and drifted off to sleep.

The next few days Hugo got worse and worse. He had purple bags under his eyes, his skin was the colour of paper, his face was gaunt and his body was the thin, frail body of an elderly person, not the one of a young boy. His hair was matted and slowly falling out bit by bit, day by day.

Hugo wouldn’t take any food, he only drank water and if he had to use the washroom, he went in a tub that was connected to a bag strapped to his leg. He felt and looked pathetic, he just wanted this to end, he wanted this suffering to end, and he didn’t want to see the look on his families face when they looked at him. Hugo welcomed death even though he was terrified of it, it would be better than living in his own personal hell.

On his final night, Hugo was surrounded by family. None of them knew what was going to happen; they had all just wanted to be there with him. Everyone had brought food and drinks, Nana Molly’s cookies were being passed around for everyone and Hugo had taken two and eaten them.

He had a private room at St. Mungo’s but that didn’t stop his family from going to the rooms of other patients and offering them food. The night went on with everyone telling stories about their childhood and stupid things that they had done. It was by far the happiest that all of them had been in the past few months.

And while Hugo was happy, he couldn’t shake the feeling of dread that he had. He felt as if Death herself was in the room and watching his family enjoy themselves. Like she was waiting for the right moment to come forward and claim Hugo as her own.

Eventually, the talking died down and everyone slowly drifted off to sleep one by one. Chairs had been brought in by the nurses and everyone had managed to squeeze themselves into one. He saw cousins laying their heads on each other’s shoulders. He saw his parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents sitting next to each other, holding hands while they slept. Rose was the only one that was still awake.

She’d just finished her piece of roasted chicken and was wiping her hands clean when she heard Hugo calling her.

“Rose, come here,” Hugo said as loudly as he could, and patted the space on the hospital bed next to him. Rose sat down on the edge and pretended to fix up Hugo’s hair.

“Yeah Hugo?” she asked him softly.

“Can you hold me Rose?” Hugo asked his sister.

“Are you cold, do you need a blanket?” Rose asked her brother, all of a sudden worried.

“No, I just want you to hold me, I want to be close to someone when I die,” Hugo said, moving over to make room for Rose to lie down.

“Hugo, don’t say stuff like that –“ Rose protested.

“Rose, I’m going to die, I know I am, I can feel it and I know you can too,” Hugo said, looking his sister straight in the eye, daring her to deny what he was saying. She didn’t say anything though, she just stared at her little brother who looked like a living corpse. The sight of her brother lying helpless in a bed broke her heart but at the same time she was incredibly proud of her little brother because he’d held on so long. Hugo could see it on her face; it made the pain of leaving everyone lessen a little.

“Alright, whatever you want Hugo,” Rose whispered. She lay down next to her brother and wrapped her arms around his thin frame. She held him close to her body and Hugo patted her hand because it was the only thing he could do.

“I’ll miss you Rose,” Hugo said, after a moment of silence.

“I’ll miss you too Hugo, more than anything else in the world,” she replied, her voice thick with tears. Hugo could feel the tears land on his back as Rose cried silently.

“Thanks Rose,” Hugo said. Her grip on him tightened, as if she wanted to hold Hugo so tightly that he would never be able to leave. The two stayed like that for a while, neither saying anything, simply holding on to each other, their last night as brother and sister.

Rose soon drifted off to sleep, her breathing becoming deep and even. Hugo was left alone, staring off into the dark. He was waiting for Death to show up; he was waiting for her to appear in front of him and to take him away from the world. As he lay there and waited, his heartbeat picked up, his blood was pounding in his ears as he looked around the room for the woman that had come to take his life. He could feel her reaching into his heart, her cool, soft hands pulling away his pain. As the pain left him, Hugo relaxed and let his fear leave him as well.

He looked out at his family and relatives, all of them asleep on chairs and leaning on each other for support. They all looked so peaceful and relaxed in their sleep, there was no sign of the worry that was always apparent when they were around him.

“Bye,” Hugo whispered to his sleeping family, and then he too closed his eyes to go to sleep. He found that Uncle Harry was right; it really was quicker and easier than falling asleep.

A/N: so what did you guys think? I've never writtten something like this before so any feedback that you can give will be very appreciated. I never thought I'd have this much fun writing something about death. Anyway, your thoughts are welcome!
Disclaimer: "Quicker and easier than falling asleep," comes from page 699 of Deathly Hallows.

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