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written by SnitchSnatcher






Benjy Fenwick

He is five years old and he doesn’t quite understand what death is just yet, but he knows that his mummy is gone.

“She’s gone?”

“Yes, Benny, she’s gone.”

“When will she come home?”

His father doesn’t respond, merely pats him on shoulder and kisses the crown of his head. Hemay not understand all the complications of death or where people go after they die, but he knows that his mummy isn’t coming home because his dad said she’s not. And if Dad says it, it must be true.

His mum wouldn’t take him to practise or show him how to tie his shoes or ride a bike. She wouldn’t cut the crust of his sandwiches or make his cereal just the way he liked it. She wouldn’t tuck him into bed at night and threaten him with tickles when he doesn’t say his prayers. She wouldn’t attack his hair with a wet comb or smooth the wrinkles out of his shirt before he went to school. She wouldn’t whisper that she loves him more than life itself or that she couldn’t imagine life without him.

She wouldn’t do any of those things because she was gone. And while he might not know that her flesh will rot and decay until the earth swallows her up whole, he knows that he will never again feel the comfort and the relief and the love his mother’s embrace; he will never be able to say that he loves her too.

His mummy might not have been able to imagine life without him, but now he must live a life without her.

*

He is nine years old and finally, after years of his family fretting that he’s a Squib, he’s
performed his first bit of accidental magic. His father is so excited, he doesn’t even get mad that half of the cat’s tail is gone or that the living room is a complete and utter mess from the explosion.

After he’s been hugged and kissed and congratulated to the point where he feels like he’s going to be, he notices a picture of his mum has been knocked over and goes to pick it up. When he looks at the photograph, she winks up at him and mouths the words ‘I love you’. For the first time since she’s died, he doesn’t believe her and puts the frame back where he found it. Perhaps his father will fix it if he ever sees it.

*

He is eleven and it is time to say goodbye to his father, time to leave home behind for Hogwarts. Instead of hugging his dad like all of the other first years, he shakes his dad’s hand and darts into the smoke before the moment can get too sentimental; he just knows that his dad will bring up his mum and he doesn’t want to think about her.

There’s an empty compartment at the end of the corridor and he slips into it, stowing his trunk and pulling out a book to read. It doesn’t take long for several other first years to wander in, searching for a place to sit.

“What’s your name?” one boy asks after the others have introduced themselves, save for a petite girl with a shy smile and a shock of white blonde hair.

“Benjy,” he answers, colouring. The only other Benjy he knows is that ruddy dog.

“Well, I’m Grigg and that’s my sister, Stella.” He points to the smallish girl next to him, who averts her eyes the moment they make contact with Benjy’s. “Want a Chocolate Frog?”

He hesitates before taking the Frog, not knowing that he’s just cemented a friendship that would have lasted a lifetime in different circumstances.

*

He is fifteen when he realises that he might be in love with Stella.

She’s kind and she’s funny, but he’s always known that. Like Grigg, she’s been a constant fixture in his life. They’ve grown up together; he witnessed as she grew into her gangly figure and she laughed when his voice cracked.

He’s always liked her; he’s always thought she was pretty and she’s humble. Funny, humble, and kind. Her laugh makes him laugh and her smile makes him smile. When he’s around her, he gets nervous and his hands start to sweat and his pulse quickens. And in the summer when they play two-aside Quidditch and they win and she hugs him, his body does a million and one crazy things, and he hugs her back and it just feels right.

But it’s not until she sits with him in silence on the worst day of the year that he realises that maybe, just maybe, he loves her.

*

He is nineteen and his entire world has been turned upside.

“Grigg’s dead.”

“What?”

Grigg’s dead, cries Stella. Killed by Death Eaters.

He tries to garner more information from her, but she’s too devastated to talk. Instead, she sobs into his shoulder and he tries to console her, but his heart isn’t it in because this is his best friend, not some old school friend.

His best friend is dead. Gone. Dead is dead, and the dead never come back. He knew that because his mum - his mummy - never came back to him.

Grigg’s dead. He is dead and gone and six feet under the ground.

Tears sting his eyes, but he doesn’t cry. He stays strong because it is the only thing he can do.

*

He is twenty-one before Alastor Moody asks him to join some organisation called the Order of the Phoenix. At first, he thinks the craggy man is crazy. Nuts. Mad. But after a few rounds and some goading, Benjy is talking about justice and how he wishes he could claim it for his friend, his fallen comrade.

“You say you want justice, but you won’t take an opportunity,” accuses Moody as Benjy knocks back another shot.

“There are no opportunities,” replies Benjy, scowling, “not in the Ministry.”

“Exactly my point,” Moody says, taking the shot glass away before Benjy can down
another. “This is your chance. You’re a fantastic Auror, Fenwick, I’ll give you that, but the Ministry is wasting your talent behind a cubicle. Join the Order.”

Benjy stares at his hands.

“Fight back,” Moody whispers fiercely.

*

He is twenty-five when Stella leaves him and nearly gets himself killed in battle. Moody smacks him upside the head and tells him to forget her, but somehow, he knows he won’t ever be able to.

*

He is twenty-nine when he realises that it isn’t enough.

There isn’t enough time, there isn’t enough sound, there isn’t enough light, and God, oh God, he’s not ready for it. Nowhere near ready to face it.

He’s always known this moment was likely to happen from the very beginning, yet he has not prepared for it. Hasn’t even given it much thought, despite the years of death and tears and chaos around him. He’s pushed it to the back of his mind where trivial things like the bills, Quidditch stats, and remembering to take out the garbage are stored.

Everyone dies. It is just another part of life like living, breathing, falling in love, falling out of love, getting your heart broken. He has known this ever since he was five years old and his mother was unfairly ripped from his life. He has known that death is inevitable ever since he was a child, ever since he could remember, yet he’s so poorly prepared for it that he doesn’t realise that it is moments away until his back is against a wall and he is forced to look.

It isn’t the type of instance you could prepare for because if life has taught him anything thus far, it is unexpected. It is a cornucopia of surprises, of twists and turns, of black periods and startlingly clear moments. It is a maze of wants and have nots and desires and wishes and hopes and dreams. It is a desert of failure and disappointment and love and fear and fight or flight and heartache and tears and so much more. It is everything that it should be and more than he could have ever asked.

He is twenty-nine when he dies, and vaguely, he wonders if his mum still remembers how to make cereal just the way he likes it.

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