I've a 600-something word, gen-rated one-shot. Would anyone care to beta it asap, please?
Pairing: None etc.
Summary: A look at Neville's fears
Disclaimer: Neville Longbottom is JKR's brainchild, not mine.
His First Fears
His earliest memories were of white faces that shone out of black backgrounds, and terrible, cruel black eyes. Those fierce eyes dogged his memories. That darkness terrified him. Black eyes glinting at him could make him wet his pants, even when it was his sloe-eyed Uncle Algie cracking a joke, usually at his expense. He was afraid of Uncle Algie. Uncle Algie could hurt him. And he did. Often. But Uncle Algie always claimed he did it just to see how the child would react. But he never reacted. He was usually stock-still with terror.
He had always been afraid of pale people. Once, he had been poring over a book in Grandpa's old study, and he read that unnaturally pale skin was a charateristic of vampires. Vampires. Those memories that never left him had come back in full force. He had instantly remembered those shining black eyes, those white faces, those cruelly laughing mouths and those big, sharp teeth. He had closed his eyes, face scrunched up, lips pulled back to reveal teeth clenched in terror. He had gathered the book to his plump chest, and had rocked back and forth, willing that memory to go away. His most powerful memory. But it hadn’t. And on the dark canvas of the insides of his eyelids, he had watched brilliant flashes of coloured lights blazing across blackness, lighting up harsh-featured white faces in vivid colours, and screams… those screams…, and frenetic, frenetic activity, and bodies twitching, and someone’s body had contorted hideously in tune to that music, that… chant, sacred in its intonation, powerful in its resonance, a litany of crucio, crucio… so powerful. So powerful. He had fainted that time.
He had always been afraid of disappointing Gran. But he had been afraid of Gran, as well. It had been Gran who had caused him the greatest pain he had ever known when she had suddenly turned her wand on his nearly three-year old self, and had croaked out the words of a spell so dark that it had nearly ended him. He remembered excruciating pain, he remembered twitching and convulsing, puking and puking, he remembered he had soiled his pants. He did not want to remember anymore, and mercifully he didn’t. But all too often, that memory would also come, unbidden, lucid and clear.
His only other memory of that day had been words he'd heard exchanged between Gran and Uncle Algie, when he'd been coming to..
'...never take him from us...'
'.. dampen the flow...'
'... won't be detected by them...'
'... mother, Frank and Alice won't...'
'.. forever in St Mungo's now..'
'... no more magic...'
'...mother, not a squib..'
'..the only way..'
He'd been so afraid of Gran since then, he never had the courage to speak to her about this memory. Whenever he remembered, the questions roiled in his frightened mind. What had been dampened? What would his parents not have like? He had never dared to ask.
He had never even dared to ask why, on that long-ago day when he had bounced out onto the road, Gran had not congratulated him with the rest of the family, but had sunk to her knees and had burst into tears 'I am forgiven, I am forgiven!' Why hadn't she comforted him, or, as was her habit, alternately berated him? Why had she started to cry, instead? He had been so terrified when he'd seen his formidable Gran break down…
Neville Longbottom had always been afraid of people, of the world, and at times, even of his own shadow. It had been a cruel twist of irony that he had been sorted into the house whose watch-word was bravery.