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A Tale of Two Phobics by EverVengeful
Chapter 1 by EverVengeful
Achluophobia: Fear of Darkness
He always keeps a candle burning by his bed as he sleeps, and probably always will. It has never been a problem; he has always been the richest boy in the dorms, and the richest boy can do whatever he wants. But what the richest boy can’t do is keep other boys from snickering about him behind his back, saying that he’s a sissy, can’t even go to sleep without a light. But sometimes all the richest boy can remember is being frightened and alone in the dark, hearing the rush of water over bloody hands and wands and his father’s laughter. And so he sleeps with a light.
Acousticophobia: Fear of Noise
The Great Hall is disgustingly loud and when she first entered it, she wondered why her brothers had never warned her. Girls relate gossip to each other while the boys try to pretend they don’t care, and they are all revoltingly loud while doing so. Every time she walks in, it takes her every nerve not to bolt. No, at school she much prefers the quiet of her dormitory, without noises to intrude on her thoughts. When at Twelve Grimmauld Place, as she is now, her room also offers solitude, but a stray bump in the night is enough to give her nightmares.
Agateophobia: Fear of Insanity
His father is a gibbering mess now, capable only of regurgitating what the Dark Lord has already declared. Azkaban, even without Dementors, did something to him, turned one of Voldemort’s highest and proudest servants into a servile creature with intelligence roughly equivalent to that of a house-elf’s. Worst of all he does not know he is changed, but cries in bewilderment when his son beats him at chess. Insanity has wrecked him and in turn his son is lost.
Agliophobia: Fear of Pain
Charlie deals with dragons all the time and she has no idea how he does it. How can he think of beauty when at any moment half his flesh could be scorched off with no warning? And how can everyone else in her family so resignedly accept a fight with the Dark, when such a conflict is guaranteed to end only in misery, and most especially pain? She would gladly rush to certain death for her brothers, for her parents, for any Order member, even —she flushes— for Harry, but she cannot make herself accept pain. And that kind of cowardice is unacceptable; especially now, when war is imminent and everyone is expect to put his or her life on the line. She must flee, for if someone finds out about her weakness she will be instantly shunned.
Agoraphobia: Fear of Leaving a Safe Place
He knows, quite suddenly, that he will snap if left to do this much longer. He simply cannot continue in this way; feeding his father in the morning, noon and night, dodging the Dark Lord’s orders for the rest of the time and comforting his mother with what precious little time he has left in the day. The whole ordeal has turned into a leeching, unbearable monotony, and he knows the only way to break it is to leave. But how to do that? If he’s honest with himself, he already knows; he must simply pick up and leave, taking little (if anything) with him. Yet a small part of him protests, telling him that he will be in more danger if he flees, that the Dark Lord will immediately suspect him of conspiring. This is the ugly, cowardly part of him, and he knows that, but right now it is also the largest part of him.
Androphobia: Fear of Men
She knows she’s being ridiculous. Twenty miles away from anyone she has ever known or loved with what little money she had in the first place already spent on a night’s shelter and all she hopes is that the man sitting in the corner booth won’t come any closer. She doesn’t know why he’s here; this is, after all, a boardinghouse for women in trouble, hardly a gathering place for the less-fair sex. But so far the only men she’s met that haven’t hurt her are either related or still boys, so one can forgive her for being frightened.
Angrophobia: Fear of Anger
He is cold, tired, hungry and about to explode, but years of self-control rein him in. The sight of a frightened girl across the room nearly sends him over the edge again; after all, who is she to look as if he’s going to stalk across the floor and demand her head on a platter at any moment? Then guiltily, he remembers that he is, after all, in a boardinghouse for women that his mother tearfully gave him directions to; he has no right to be welcomed here. So once again, he pulls down his ire.
Aphenphosmphobia: Fear of Being Touched
And now, so help her, he’s coming towards her, actually approaching her and she’s nearly shaking. The only thing giving her any reassurance is that he’s clearly as nervous as she is; his drink is sloshing over the edge of the cup with the ferocity of his tremblng. He puts his goblet across from hers and takes a seat. Her hand is on the table, and when he reaches to touch it she immediately recoils. Then she remembers how nervous he was about coming to her, and if he can recover from that then she ought to be able to surmount this fear.
Arsonphobia: Fear of Fire
When he’d decided that he was being ridiculous and that it couldn’t possibly hurt to ingratiate himself towards the girl, he hadn’t realized quite how close her table was to the fire. But it is very close indeed, and already he can feel his face heating up. She must be feeling it too, for her palm is damp and sweaty under his. Clearing his throat and hoping his voice won’t come out too soprano-ish, he says, “It’s hot in here. Would you like to go outside?”
Astrophobia: Fear of Stars
She nods briefly and they rise simultaneously. Once outside, she follows him to a nearby wood that she assumes is an Apparation point. When they are just outside the wood he stops and looks at her expectantly. Unsure of what he wants, she clears her throat and says, “It’s a nice night, isn’t it?”
He jerks his head in a tense movement she assumes is a nod. “Lots of stars.” He pauses. My mother…” He grits his teeth and bows his head for a moment before continuing, “My mother used to tell me that the stars were angels, watching over me. She told me the angels were hers, so she could always see me.” He gives her an awkward half smile that Ginny can’t bring herself to return. Wherever Molly Weasley is, Ginny knows she would be ashamed to see her daughter.
Atelophobia: Fear of Incapability
Conversation lapses for a time until Ginny can no longer stand the silence and asks, “So, why did you come here?” For a moment, she considers pointing out that this is, after all, a boardinghouse for women and he hardly has any place here. Then she remembers that even if he is a man, he is still a Malfoy and therefore guaranteed to be welcomed by anyone who doesn’t want to be killed. Ginny is so caught up in her own thoughts that she barely notices when he answers her question. “I couldn’t quite manage being what I needed to be.” He smiles and she wants to cry. “My mother needed me, my father needed me, You-Know-Who needed me, and I couldn’t quite deal with it all.” He looks her in the eye. “You understand, don’t you?”
Athazagoraphobia: Fear of Being Forgotten
Now he turns Ginny’s question on her, and she blanks. In theory, she knows why she left; she didn’t want anyone to know how cowardly she was. But it’s dark, and Malfoy is a nicely anonymous person to confess to. “I felt a bit out of place.” He nods in what she assumes is understanding. “You know, Harry, Ron and Hermione—"
He interrupts. “You mean the Dream Team?”
“The Golden Trio, no less.”
“The Gilded Gryffindors.”
“The Voldemortargets.” This makes him laugh and she takes a moment to feel unexpectedly gratified. She also takes the time to notice that mirth turns his normally unremarkable features astonishingly handsome. Before her thoughts can linger on this, she continues. “Anyway, they have their own thing, and so does the rest of my family, with the Order, and I thought I would just kind of fall through the cracks.”
Autophobia: Fear of Being Alone
After their respective confessions they are both embarrassed, looking at the stars to avoid each other’s faces. Finally, he makes a show of yawning and stretching and announces that he will head back inside. Unsure of whether he is trying to escape her or if he is genuinely tired, she tells him that she will stay out a bit longer. Finally, however, she realizes that after their conversation she almost finds the silence unnerving and rushes back to the boardinghouse to find him. And find him she does; indeed, almost trips over him as he’s sitting on the steps. “I wasn’t sure I could face being the only man in there,” he says shyly. “I needed an ally.”
Ginny gets an unexpected rush of warmth from knowing she is wanted. Willing her hand not to shake, she proffers it. He takes it and swings himself up, and together they walk inside.
Should this be continued, or should it end here? Feedback is always appreciated.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.