This story came out of left field, *really* out of left field. I was attempting to write a Percy fic - as per normal, when this idea suddenly struck me.
Why, I have no idea. It's rare of me not to think of a story line that evolves around Percy. While I've always had a soft spot for Seamus, he's not exactly a favourite. I think it has a lot to do with the fact people seem to forget that being Irish involves more than shamrocks.
Big thankies to WeasleyTwin2, who was kind enough to beta read for me, and did a fantastic job. All mistakes are mine, not hers, knowing me I've transcribed some of the errors wrongly, or forgotten about them altogether :)
After you've finished here, go check out her wonderful stories at: http://www.fanfiction.net/index.fic/?action=directory-authorProfile&userid=7776. There *are* some grammar mistakes, but that was due to my email account having problems reading WeasleyTwin2's email, not the brilliant gal herself :)
On to the story!
Warning: PG-13 rating for some violence and death - not of any canon characters.
Title: When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.
Summary: Seamus is haunted by memories of his past.
"We said an hour, why the hell haven't they contacted us!" One of the balaclava clad men demanded, glaring at the clock on the wall.
"They don't think we are serious," One of his companions coldly stated, his tone chilling. "Maybe we should prove to them just how serious we are."
It was from a fabulous dream about winning the Quidditch World Cup that Harry found himself being shaken awake from by his best - and at the moment, rather annoying, friend.
"What is it, Ron?" He asked, rubbing his bleared eyes.
"It's Seamus," his friend replied breathlessly, tugging one of his own shirts roughly over his head. "He's having another one."
Harry bit back the groan that had begun to well in his throat, guilt quickly setting in over his reluctance to help his friend. Wordlessly he got to his feet, sparing only a moment to grab his dressing gown before following Ron over to Seamus.
Dear God. And he thought that *nothing* could have been worse than last night.
His Irish friend was thrashing wildly on his bed, his face twisted in fear and desperation. Dean was unsuccessfully trying to shake his friend awake, the terror in his own eyes enough to scare Harry alone. The trembling body suddenly stilled, and a single cry ripped itself from the boy's throat.
Eyes that had previously been closed flew open, and the stark horror that they held was enough to make Harry take a step back.
"It's over, Seamus - just a nightmare," Dean quietly said to the now awake boy, who seemed to be slowly regaining his senses. "What was it about this time?" He questioned gently as Seamus pushed himself up to a sitting position.
"Same old, same old," The frail grin was stark in it's contrast to his terror sweeped face. "Snape naked - nothing scarier than that, eh?" he laughed gently, wiping the fear induced sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand.
"Nothing to worry about, nothing at all. Nopers."
"Come on, Seamus - lets get those sheets off, hmm? The last thing I want to have to explain to McGonagall is how you drowned to death in your own bed." With a gentleness that belied his tall frame, Dean wrapped his arms around the smaller boy's shoulders and gently manhandled him out of the drenched bed and onto his own.
"Here Seamus, drink this," Neville offered awkwardly, handing him the cup of tea he had gone to make the moment he'd been woken by Seamus's shouting. Dealing with Seamus's nightly nightmares was becoming routine, Harry mused, as he stripped the bed down. A routine that didn't seem to have a resolution in sight.
Seamus accepted the mug with a small nod, his eyes becoming fixated on it, resulting in his face being hidden by his mass of sandy curls.
"Seamus, do you want to talk about this?" Ron spoke up hesitantly. Seamus's gaze remained stubbornly on the mug.
"Go to bed, guys - it's late ..."
"Early," Harry corrected with a smile. His joke fell flat.
"It's *early*, we have classes in the morning, I'm fine." He finished, glancing up at them for a moment, an attempt at an encouraging smile on his face. It was his eyes however that Harry found himself drawn to. Eyes that were ridden with angst and seemed far too old and knowing to belong to a 15 year old boy.
"Seamus?" He asked softly, confused. This was so unlike the energetic and sly Seamus that they were used to.
"Let's go to bed, Harry," Ron instead answered, patting the bed he'd just finished making. "Seamus is right, we do have class in the morning." His tone left little room for argument. Neville nodded in agreement. Harry was about to protest when Ron grabbed his arm and literally dragged him to the other side of the room.
"What the hell did you do that for?!" Harry questioned angrily under his breath as he dropped onto his bed, eyes still focused on his upset friend.
"You think there is any chance of Seamus saying what's wrong with us there?" Ron hissed back. "With us gone he might talk to Dean this time - we'll find out from him in the morning."
Harry had to admit Ron had a point. With them gone, Dean had wrapped an arm around Seamus's shoulder, and was murmuring softly to him. Dean *was* his best friend after all ...
Morning. He'd find out was wrong in the morning.
"What do you mean he didn't tell you anything?!"
"Exactly what I said, Harry," Dean said with a sigh, pushing his lunch plate away from him. "Seamus doesn't want to talk about."
"Do you have any idea what this is about?" Hermione asked, her eyes darting nervously around the room. Seamus had excused himself from lunch only moments before, having had to see Professor Plump about some assignment or other. His absence had given the others the perfect opportunity to quiz Dean.
"I honestly have no clue, Hermione."
Not that they were having much luck.
"I mean, it's been going on for a week now - you'd think he would have told me." Dean didn't attempt to keep the hurt from his voice. Seamus should be able to trust him, *did* in fact trust him. Yet, in the four years they had been friends, his nightmares had always been a no-go area. "They never used to be this bad" He softly added.
"You mean he's had nightmares before?" Harry asked, startled.
"Occasionally," Dean admitted, unable to squash the feeling he was betraying his friend by admitting as much.
"He seems fine now," Neville mused. Indeed, Seamus *was* acting like nothing had happened. A little paler, a shade quieter, but all that aside, he was still the goofball he usually was.
And *that* worried Dean to no end. All that emotion had to come out sometime.
"Brilliant!" Seamus cried, watching with unadulterated glee as Fred Weasley sent a bludger crashing into Draco, almost unseating the arrogant boy.
"Superb!" Dean agreed cheerfully, finding the other boy's excitement contagious as always. Few things excited Seamus more than Quidditch, especially when it was in a grudge match against Slytherian.
"Did you see the way he made the ball curve slightly, utter skill, man! To be ..." As Seamus babbled on about the technical side of the move, Dean tuned his friend out with a smile. At times his friend's obsession with Quidditch was a bit *too* much to take. Nodding at all the right places, Dean instead chose to study his friend, grinning at his animation and seemingly inability to sit still. Eyes that had been dull and lifeless this morning were now practically gleaming with anticipation.
Maybe the horrors of the last for evenings were over. He prayed to whatever Gods looked down on cheeky Irish wizards that they were.
The blood oozed from the gapping wound, turning the cream carpet into an insipid pink. Unable to stop the flow of tears, he buried his face in his hands, trying to block out the sight of yet another bloodied body.
This wasn't happening, *couldn't* be happening ...
"Why is it that all the history classes at Hogwarts are taught by ghosts?" Dean muttered as he slid into his seat next to Seamus.
"Maybe because everything about it is *dead* boring?" Seamus replied with a tired grin, extracting a groan from his best friend.
"Seamus, I swear - your jokes get stupider by the day."
"If that is so, then by my calculations, in 5 million, 3 thousand and 34 days, my jokes will be just about as dumb as yours."
Dean had no time to reply as Professor Kitchener floated into his class. As far as teachers went, Kitchener wasn't bad, Dean reflected. He was open to discussion and debate, and it was something the class often embarked on. It was just that muggle history was just damn bor~ing.
"Right class," the Professor started with a smile. "Open your text to page 23. Today we will be discussing the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, and the justifications behind it. I think you will all find it highly interesting."
"I doubt there is anything can justify the slaughter of innocent people in the name of war, professor." The calmness of Seamus's voice was off put by the rigidness of his body. Kitchener smiled, obviously delighted that one of his students had not only done the required reading but was interested in discussing it.
"Come now, Seamus - the dropping of the bomb brought about the end of the war, saving thousands of American soldiers lives in the process."
"And resulted in the death of millions of *innocent* Japanese who had nothing to do with the war!" Seamus angrily retorted, his soft accent more pronounced. Dean stared at his friend, eyes widened slightly with confusion - what had gotten into him! Seamus usually liked to debate *anything*, yet this aggressive stance just wasn't natural.
"Semus, calm down, man!" Dean hissed, grabbing his arm.
"It's all right, Mr Thomas," Kitchener interrupted, a small smile tinged with concern. "Looking at the situation from the peaceful position we live in today, it can be hard to visualise the desperation the Americans faced - either a full fledged war with Japan, or a quick solution."
"Quick solution of Final solution?" Seamus replied bitterly, causing Dean to gasp quietly. Seamus comparing the A bomb to Hitler's purge of the Jews was shocking and completely ...
"You're out of line, Seamus," Kitchener sternly replied, ignoring the harsh glare aimed at him. "Defending yourself from a hostile threat and the eradication of an entire race are two *completely* different things. You are young, you cannot understand the brutalities and fears that will drive you to these kinds of decisions."
Dean supposed the comment was meant to both reprimand and calm down Seamus at the same time, yet all it did was serve to infuriate him further. He watched in utter disbelief as Seamus rose from his seat, shooting daggers at the Professor before speaking in a voice that was cold and harsh - so unlike Seamus that it made Dean shiver.
"Ever been to Dublin, Sir? Lovely place if you can past the fact it's being torn apart by a *freak'n* war! You tell children who have seen their parents slaughtered before their eyes simply because they were of the wrong religion that their deaths are justified! You tell some woman who has been widowed 50 years too early that it was a sacrifice for a greater good! Tell them that - tell them! *Then* tell me it is justified." Dean watched, stunned, as his livid friend turned and stormed from the room, slamming the door brutally behind him.
His mother had given him the scrapbook when he was five. He'd always been one for keeping odds and ends - newspaper clippings, brightly coloured railway tickets, awards.
Old school photo's.
He traced a lone finger across the faded picture, caressing it like it was an old friend. Guilt coursed through him as his gaze lingered on one young face, then another.
It should have been him.
"Seamus Patrick Finnigan! What do you think you are doing?" Six year old Seamus grinned guiltily, dropping his hand quickly from the bow tie he was desperately trying to wrestle off from around his neck.
"Mum, it makes me look like a nerd!" He protested, gazing up at her with innocent eyes as blue as a forget-me-not. Bedia Finigann shook her head ruefully, patting her son's sandy locks.
"You're father wears a bow tie, Seamus dear," she murmured, straightening up the tie as he squirmed uncomfortably under her grasp.
"Exactly! Dad is *old*. Why would anyone want to play with dad the way *he* dresses?"
Bedia found herself laughing, despite herself.
"I think you're father looks very handsome in his bow tie, my little leprechaun. Are you saying your mother has bad taste?"
"You have the best taste in the world mother - you love me, right?" His cheeky grin was contagious.
"Off with you, leprechaun, time for you to make trouble elsewhere. You will be late for class." She replied with a smile, ushering him towards the door. With a quick peek on the kiss, he was gone, running down the path in hopes of catching up with Sean, no doubts. She stood, leaning against the door frame as he disappeared around the corner, a smile playing on her lips. Seamus was a delight of a child - enthusiastic, bubbly, far to cheeky for his own good. He would grow up to be a fine man.
And an ever better wizard.
"Oh man! I can't believe she made you wear the tie!" Sean cackled as they lined up for their class picture. Seamus glared at his lanky friend, why was it that Mr and Mrs Kirk-Patrick didn't mind their son coming in nothing more stylish than a pair of jeans and a shirt, yet *his* mother made him wear this strangulation device?
Life wasn't fair.
"I think it looks sweet," Lasha spoke up, trying to be supportive. "Don't you think, Emilia?" Lasha's best friend looked first at Seamus, then back again to Lasha, disbelief colouring her pale features.
"You've got to be kidding, right? That has got to be the most ugliest thing I've ever seen - I think the devil took possession of your mother this morning, Seamus - there is no other explanation."
"Like that purple dress you're wearing came on angel's wings, Emilia!" Seamus taunted back, poking his tongue out as he did so. A crimson flush - one that clashed with the dress quite horribly, Seamus thought evilly, spread on the other student's face as she let out a small 'hmph'.
"Move a long children!" Mr Jophson called, gently pushing the students into line. "Let's get this over as quickly as possible so we can all get back to class."
Seamus glanced futilely at the clock. Another 40 minutes. 40 minutes until he was free of this horrible class and could go out and play with Sean. 39 minutes and 42 seconds. He was so focused on the clock that he didn't hear the slight tap on the door, nor noticed Mr Jophson going over, curious to see who was interrupting his class.
He *did* hear the gun firing, however. Heard it echo in the small room, smothering everything else into silence. He watched, disbelief warring with fear, as Mr Jophson sank to the ground, a crimson river flowing from his temple. It was only when the three armed men, each blanketed in black, fully entered the room did the first scream erupt, followed almost instantaneously by many others.
His own was one of them.
"Quiet children!" One of the men snarled, "Unless you want to join your dear teacher with our good Lord?" the threat that lingered in his words had an instant effect, quietening the children immediately, although the odd sniffle still rose occasionally above the oppressing silence. With a twisted smile that dripped with malice, the man beside him reached into the backpack that he had flung over his shoulder, and took out a cell phone. Long fingers quickly typed in a number, and it took mere seconds for the person on the other end to pick the phone up.
"Hello? Yes, I'd like to talk to your Prime Minster, Pommy sir," He spoke, with casual cheerfulness. "Oh, he's not taking calls? Not even from IRA terrorists who are holding a class full of children hostage? Right then, don't suppose you could pass on a message for me, could you?" Seamus watched, eyes transfixed on the man as he raised his gun, pointing it towards Emilia who was sitting in the front row.
"No," he whispered, his mind telling him what the killer had planned just before he pulled the trigger.
The high pitched scream that was abruptly cut off by the sound of a bullet ripping into flesh most certainly could have been heard from the other side of the phone.
"There we go, heard that then? Pass it on and tell the big boss that if he doesn't have Shannon Allenery realised and cleared of all charges, a child will be killed every hour. Cheerio!" Hanging up before the man on the other end could answer, he then grinned at his comrades.
"Easy as stealing candy from a baby, boys, no way that boffoon is going to let a classroom of kids get slaughtered this close to election time."
Seamus didn't hear a word, his eyes were still fixated on the slender frame of his dead friend, the purple dress that was slowly becoming black ....
The tears had dried long ago, leaving only a dry oasis in it's wake. 5 hours, five lifeless forms ...
"Hour's up, which kid's on the receiving end this time?" One of the gunmen asked, his voice grim.
As the steel eyes settled on him, he felt himself begin to tremble. Oh Gods, no - please no! The Gods however had stopped listening.
"How about this pretty wee fella?" The taller one asked, rubbing a hand gently through Seamus's sandy hair. He shivered, the seemingly friendly contact so similar to his mother's loving caress this morning.
"The lad should do fine," The smaller man replied, giving him a quick once over, before turning his attention back to his gun. Suddenly, the man's head jerked back up, and the calculating gaze studied him again.
"Tell me lad, what be your name?" The man asked, his head titled slightly.
"S~Seamus Finiginn, sir," He stammered, unable to control the terror that dictated the words.
"You'd be Bedia's son, then?" The warm smile that lit the terrorist's face was completely out of place with the situation. "I went to ... school with her, nice lass. Choose another kid." The last sentence was directed towards the henchman who had originally picked him as the next target.
"This one, boss?" If it could be possible, Seamus's heart begun to beat even faster. Sean - no, not Sean!
"Please, no!" Seamus pleaded, throwing himself at the man who had known his mother, hoping he would provide some form of ally. "He's only a kid, *we're* only kids - we didn't do anything!"
"Poor child," the man murmured quietly. "I know this may be hard for you, but you must understand, your innocence is what gives our cause it's depth, your sacrifice now will lead to a future that benefits the greater good. His death -" he waved a hand towards Sean, "- while it be sad, child, it is justified when you look at the bigger picture. One day you will understand that." Turning away from him, the man nodded towards his partner, who brought his gun up level to Sean's chest.
"Run Sean!" Seamus cried, all rational thoughts blanketed by his desperation to save his friend. Rationality was where the tears and their Gods were hiding. Sean however was frozen to the spot, eyes wide with disbelief. His eyes locked wildly with Seamus's for a moment, betrayal and blame dominating them. This was all his fault. Both Seamus and Sean knew it.
Seamus could do nothing as his friend collapsed in a boneless heap to the ground, his face twisted into a mask of pain and horror. His mouth was still shaped in a gaping 'O', silent screams tearing themselves from the dead boy's throat.
He had been wrong, the tears hadn't dried up after all.
"Seamus, buddy - you ok?"
Trust Dean to ask such a stupid question. Then again, he'd been keeping his friend in the dark all week, what was Dean supposed to ask?
"Not really, Dean," he replied softly, raising his eyes from the photo in the scrap book to his friend, who at some time in the last 20 minutes had come and sat cross-legged opposite him on the bed.
"You know you can talk to me about it," Dean replied, his voice equally soft.
He knew. He'd always known. Trust simply wasn't something that came easy to him, especially over this. Oh, his parents had tried every avenue to help their son overcome the guilt and fear the event had drenched him in. At first he had actually tried working with the counsellors, at times even dared to believe that their soothing words held some element of truth in them.
The nightmares would always bring the truth crashing back, the uncompromising guilt with it.
He'd soon found that the counsellors were easy to manipulate, spin some sob story and then appear to be over it, and they felt their job was done. It was far easier dealing with false emotions than the ones that tore at his soul far beneath the surface. He'd eventually managed to push even those down into some forbidden part of his memory, wrapping himself in the fraudulent security that he had projected to the others. Denial and self-deception had worked wonders.
This time, Seamus doubted he could deal with this by himself even if he had wanted to.
"I've never shown you this picture before," he started hesitantly, turning the scrapbook around so that Dean could see it properly. "It's a class photo from when I was six."
"Nice tie," Dean smirked, and was rewarded by having a pillow thrown at him. Unable to stop himself, the corner of Seamus's lip curled up into a smile.
"Yeah, I know." He took a deep breath - now for the difficult bit. "The same day the photo was taken, our class, I mean it was ..." Shit, he was trembling. Dean took one of his hands in his own, giving it a gentle squeeze of reassurance. He clung to it tightly as he tried to quench the quivers, as well as calm his ragged breathing.
"This is so unmanly," he muttered under his breath, causing Dean to laugh softly. He didn't let go, however - and for that Seamus was grateful.
"That day, my class was taken hostage by IRA agents," he paused, locking eyes with his best friend. "They shot my teacher at point blank range, and a child every hour the British government went past the deadline to release one of the IRA prisoners." Dean swore quietly under his breath. Seamus placed a finger on a picture of a girl in a brilliant purple dress. "Emilia," he dragged the finger across to another student, and then another. "Ailin, Ardan, Eamonn, Megan ..." He trailed off as his finger lingered on the next face, a lump rising uncontrollably in his throat. "... Sean ... Lindsay and Torin."
"Oh, Seamus." Dean quietly replied, obviously at a loss at what to say. That was to be forgiven, Seamus reflected wryly, it wasn't everyday your best friend informed you he'd been a witness to such senseless murder.
"Sean ... Sean was my best friend." His finger once again came to rest on the long dead boy. "He wasn't supposed to die - not then, anyway. I was."
"Seamus?" Dean question, surprise tinged with fear in his voice.
"I ... I was supposed to be next, but one of the gunmen must have noticed how much I looked like my mother, and guessed who I was. He spared me because he went to Hogwarts with her."
"A wizard?!" Dean exploded, shocked. "A wizard would kill innocent children with a *gun?*"
"This is Ireland we are talking about, Dean - religious supremacy is something that can only be gained through sacrifice." His voice was devoid of mockery or pain, it simply held an aged wisdom and infinitive sadness.
"Did Professor Kitchener's classes cause you to have the nightmares in full force this past week?" Dean asked, thoughtfully. Seamus paused, unsure whether to take the subject further. Dean had given him a plausible escape route, one that was far more easier to deal with than the real cause. Yet the concern that lingered in his friend's eyes convinced him to come completely clean. Flicking through the scrap book, Seamus pulled out it's newest entrant - so new in fact that he had yet to glue it in.
"This was in the Daily Clover a week ago," He said, handing Dean the newspaper clipping, watching silently as he skimmed it. "The school that was bombed ... it would have been the one I would have gone to if I hadn't been accepted into Hogwarts." The trembling started again, and this time not even the once comforting grip of Dean's hand could calm him.
So his friend went one better.
Dean slid around the side of the bed until he was next to Seamus, and then wrapped his arms tightly around the other boy, enfolding him in his warm embrace. Even though this was even *more* unmanly than holding hands, Seamus wrapped his own arms around his friend, biting back a sob.
"I should be *dead*, Dean! I should have died in that bombing, I should have been killed that afternoon in that class room - not Sean! Why them?! They were innocent, God damn it!"
"So are you," Dean softly said, tightening his grip on his friend. "You are just as innocent, Seamus. You dying in place of one of them would make no difference - just a different life dying for a war they don't want to be a part of, a war they have no control over. Besides -," Dean softly said, "This may sound selfish, but what would I be without you?"
The tears that Seamus had somehow managed to keep at bay for years finally broke through their barriers. His body shook violently as his sobs began to take over, the pain and self-blame coming to the surface where it could no longer be hidden, no longer be oppressed.
He finally allowed himself to grieve.