A/N: I love reviews. Thanks to everyone who has, and will review this story, I threw a lot into it and it means a lot. Reviews are the only payment I'll ever get for this, so if you could take the time to tell me what you think, however briefly, I'd really appreciate it. Pretty pretty please with a cherry on top? Sirius on top? ;) (and he's in chapter two, if you care to keep reading). This, I suppose, is a five-shot- the sort of story I could only write on fanfiction. Enjoy.
(And, oh, it's not really mine. I just like to pretend. :) )
"...Gideon Prewett, it took five Death Eaters to kill him and his brother Fabian..."
"And then, to see them surrounded by all those other happy faces... Benjy Fenwick, who had been found in bits, and Gideon Prewett, who had died like a hero, and the Longbottoms, who had been tortured into madness... all waving happily out of the photograph forevermore, not knowing that they were doomed..."
Fabian Prewett doesn't seem to be in the photograph. This story started there.
As always, they stood together.
The two men were angrier than usual. The air cracked still from their arrival, and the slightly slighter man leaned back against a lamppost. The broader one crossed his arms and boyishly rocked a touch forward on his toes in his own half-lean.
"Don't you want to be a hero, Fab?" Gideon Prewett was all earnestness, like he was wheedling his way into second helpings or out of trouble.
"No," replied Fabian Prewett, without looking up.
Gideon's mouth fell a touch agape, a silent oh. "...Why not?"
Fabian scuffled his feet and grinned. "No consuming desire to share a title with a Muggle sandwich and a load of dead men."
His brother scoffed. "Not all heroes die."
"'Course they do."
Gideon rubbed at his chin in consideration before running with it. "Well, yes, eventually of course, but not everybody gets knocked off in the middle of heroing..."
"You're not naïve enough to believe that," Fabian interrupted, straightening.
"Sure I am," said Gideon, shrugging. Fabian began to pace in the circle of light puddling around them on the sidewalk.
"Gideon... you've been called a lot of things, sure enough, half of 'em by me, and most're true enough. But I never thought anybody could call you gullible. Don't prove me wrong. This vigilante nonsense of our madcap mentor back there?" He jerked his thumb for emphasis, face taut. "It's not for us. I want you with me on this."
Gideon Prewett rubbed at his eyes, half-smiling. "Fab, when haven't I been with you? But ye gods, man, if you're not gonna give me a reason for this besides not wanting to be associated with lunchmeat and corpses..."
"Don't be a git," Fabian snapped. He forced his tone back to his regular cadence before he spoke again. "Look... it's just... we're not the hero sort."
He received a quirked eyebrow for his pains. "Oh. Now there's a particular sort?"
"'Course there is. We've met a few of 'em," he said, letting his hands slip into his pockets. "Heroes are fools."
Gideon's face broke into an easy grin. "That's us."
Fabian shook his head weightily. "Nah. I don't reckon so. We're clever enough to duck when Bludgers come our way, aren't we?"
"Or hit 'em at someone else, yeah."
His smile drooped under the most measured stare Fabian could muster. "Well, this is a Bludger we're better off ducking if we want to stay in one piece."
Gideon let a low sound of disgust rise from his throat. He half-turned away, foot skimming the curb. "You're on with all this metaphorical stuff again, aren't you. You've been spending too much time with Hestia, mate, it's turning your mind to mush again. Reckon-"
"I'm seri- not jesting, Gideon."
He clapped his brother on the shoulder, spinning him around and holding him there. "Gid, I like where my life is going. I like where your life is going. I'm not keen on ideas that'll end with our end. Especially when it seems it'll be premature. And sticky. Invariably, it'll be sticky if we try to play hero."
"Oh, come off it."
Fab's voice rose with annoyance. "Heroes end stickily. Stickily, Gid. That's not a happy picture."
"Here's where you're a bit confused,"said his brother. He patted the hand on his shoulder with mock gentleness."Heroes, they're the good-looking fellas who come out on top and ride into the sunset with the distressed damsel."
He pulled his arm back. "No, Gideon, they don't. Heroes lose the girl, ride off into the dark west and die alone."
"They-" Gideon gaped at him briefly, jaw spasming. He held back his laugh under Fabian's remonstrating gaze, but couldn't keep his bemused indignation from his eyes. "Who'll die alone? I got you, and then there's me. And Molly and her brood, 'course. We're not alone."
"Heroes are always alone," Fabian said, expression sage. "In the end. And there's always an end."
His brother's brow furrowed. "Most've 'em did alright for themselves."
Gideon sputtered. "Merlin, don't go putting me on the spot-"
"Pinned in a tree forever and ever by some soggy strumpet," Fabian retorted at once.
Gideon blinked. "I wasn't naming him! But if you're on about it, that Arthur fellow- the King, not Molly's, he did alright for himself…"
"Lost his wife to his best mate and killed by his bastard son who wrecked the kingdom? Sure, sounds alright..."
"Okay. Right." He frowned."But he'd slept with his sister, which wasn't very hero-like, plus, y'know, inbreeding... and wasn't he supposed to come back someday?"
"Kiddie stories. Because it's nice to think that when you're right and noble, everything works out okay."
"Nothing ever happened to Robin Hood. He got a title and the dame…"
"Until she died a year or two later and Robin got bored, went back to the forest, ended up bled to death by a lady cousin he trusted…"
"Never heard that part before?"
Fabian nodded again. His neck was getting sore. "Molly skipped the epilogue when she read that to us. Not child friendly."
Gideon's eyebrows pulled still closer in deep thought. "The Greek fellow, though, the one gone for twenty years who came home to a faithful wife after all those adventures? He made out all right."
Fabian leaned against the lamppost again. "Wasn't much of a hero. All his mates died while he did his best just to make it home. He was mad clever, though," he allowed, mulling. "Still, he ended up playing hero anyways, didn't he? And know what happened? He finally got whacked off by a wizard who happened to be his own son, thanks to his bit of fiddle-diddle-dee with Circe while his wife was waiting so faithfully…"
"Where'd you hear that?" sputtered Gideon, hand in his hair with frustration.
"It's on the back of Circe's Famous Witches and Wizards Card. Must be true."
Gideon ran his hand through his mop of hair, rubbing the back of his head in annoyance, before thrusting his hand out in another attempt. "Look…"
"All these heroes Molly liked so much?" said Fab, cutting him off. " The handsome ones in shining armor? They all got their heads lopped off and stuck on spikes and their entrails strewed across the ground and eaten by crows and ravens and vultures…."
He raised a finger knowingly. "Told you. Sticky."
Gideon's arms folded. They were back where they started, Fabian with black-painted metal supporting his spine and Gideon with nothing to lean back on. Gideon kept his feet flat this time. "When exactly did I turn my back while you went and became a cynic overnight?"
"When we were asked to go and get ourselves killed just because some overgrown school boy with identity issues decided only people with a certain kind of blood are the right sort of people, that's when. I'd say around twenty minutes back. Didn't realize you'd missed it." His tone was light, but Gideon knew his twin too well to miss the fringe of bitterness.
"They're not asking us to die….."
Fabian drew upright, jabbing a finger at Gideon's robes. "Lay our lives on the line is pretty tantamount to asking us to die for 'em. And I- I got things to do, Gideon. You got things to do."
His twin stepped back, spreading his arms out expansively as if stretching or readying for a bear hug. "What could be more important than this?"
"The kind of hero they're asking for… it makes it a right and noble sacrifice to go and get offed to save some strangers!" He looked away and down before meeting Gideon's square gaze once more with a shrug. "Sometimes it's harder to live, y'know? To go and work everyday and raise a family and protect the folk who love you and who you-"
"So you'd let the rest of the world go to blazes because Fabian Prewett thinks it's more heroic to crawl in a hidey-hole and ignore the wolves huffing at the door?"
"It'd make us targets, Gideon! It'd make Pops, Molly and Arthur, Billy and Charlie and Perce and the one in the oven, Hestia… might as well dress 'em and stick the apple in their mouths ourselves…" His arms flopped limply at his sides. "I can't let that happen…"
Now Gideon was angry, advancing. "So we let others do it for us?" he spat. "Let them run the risks? They love their families too. They're still doing what's right."
Fabian hesitated. "Gideon, if you could save ten strangers or me and Molly, who'd you save?"
He didn't even hitch. "You and Moll, naturally."
"The people in there?" Fab said, jerking his thumb at the building behind them. "They're better than us. They'd save the strangers."
Gideon rolled his eyes. "You're not telling me Black's any better than me. You're not telling me he'd save strangers over Potter. No matter how pretty they were."
"He would- if Potter told him too. And Potter would. Especially if they were pretty."
"Mhmm. Doubt it."
"Well, everybody in there's willing to give their lives for this great cause. Their families' too? They're not thinking that far."
"Fabian." Gideon smiled, rueful.
"You're being selfish."
He answered with disbelief. "For not wanting my entrails strewn?"
There was a pregnant pause. "I don't think they do that anymore."
"Have you met Bellatrix Black?"
"Lestrange," he corrected.
"She got married. While back."
"Did she? Really?"
"Sweet Merlin. Imagine. Her, as a mother…"
"Yeah, yeah, I know…."
Collectively, they shuddered.
After a moment, Fabian cleared his throat. "But generally, I mean… I don't want this, Gideon. I thought… I used to think living in interesting times would be…"
"Well, yeah. But after a while… how many times can we get lucky? How many fireworks can backfire before one blows me to smithereens?"
"Or me," interjected Gideon, looking insulted his capacity to explode was in question.
"Be serious. No, no, don't say it- but honestly, they always backfired on me."
"Lady Luck likes me more," he said, eyes flashing tauntingly. "Just like Mother and Molly do."
Fabian threw his neck back in exasperation, face rising to the cloudy black sky. "Oh, for heaven's- Look, Gideon! I'm- we're- not even properly grown-up yet, and we're getting crows' feet from trying to stop these night raids and Muggle hunts with the Hit Patrol, and now you want a side job that marks our houses for these madmen to move onto when they're wearied of tormenting Muggle-borns? That's what you want? So we can have a jolly old adventure and get medals, maybe someday, and you can get a chance for a few extra shots at Wilkes and a chance to show Black up in front of McKinnon?"
He wouldn't be halted. His face was red with embarrassment, fury, fear, any baker's dozen of messy things. "Do you think it's not tempting? That it doesn't seem grand and glorious, might over right and all of that, like the Knights of the Round Table? Do y'know what happened to them?"
He brought his hands to his face, covering his eyes with his palms. His fingers curled in. He opened his eyes into his life-lines, breathed deeply, and lowered his hands. Gideon's eyes were wide, with either confusion or anger. He wasn't sure. "Gid… I'm no hero. I want some place to hang my hat, where I can come home and, and… grow things, and have dinner with my girl, and maybe someday, have, y'know, ickle Prewetts running around who'll raise hell…"
"You think I don't?"
From the way Gideon reeled and his head reared back, Fabian knew he'd struck him.
"Yeah, Gid," he said, blowing air out of his cheeks, deeply annoyed. He gestured low, dismissively. "I do. It's in your eyes. When we duel for practice, when we're arresting some stupid bastard on a FWI, when Molly read us stories when we were kids, when somebody mentions how you're shaping up to be officer material-"
His voice dropped, harshening. "I told you to shut your trap, Fay. You're my brother, and I love you, but you're being a right bastard, Mum pardon me for saying it."
"There are so many things more important than you and your little world. There are-"
"-things worth dying for, dammit!"
"There are things worth living for, too."
Their gazes locked, even.
"A man's got to stand up. Someone's got to."
"It doesn't have to be us," he replied, low.
"It has to be me." Gideon was almost apologetic, but firm.
"If I didn't, if I let somebody else take the fall for something I can do, to stand back and let someone else run ahead and try to protect folks not so different from me and kids like Billy and Charlie-"
He waved him off, the passion of his tone mounting. "I couldn't live with myself. Is it so wrong that this fight, and everything it stands for, means more to me than anything I've done or anything I can do?"
Fabian shot him a bemused blink. "Now you're just being melodramatic."
"It's past time to kid around!" Gideon answered hotly, arm shooting out. "If someone doesn't fight, then all the standing aside in the world's not gonna do us any good. It'll be Arthur with his Muggle thingamabobs and the kids next! That's after they've knocked off Madam Meadowes and the pretty Evans girl because their blood's not pure…"
"So now working for the law's not enough? We have to feckin' be it, too? What's it Pops always said about vigilantism?"
"When it's not enough, YES!"
"Gideon… it's suicide."
"Not necessarily. It's brave, that's all."
"Fine line between bravery and stupidity."
Gideon shook his head. "No line at all."
Fabian frowned. "You at least see that it's stupid, then?"
"Somebody's got to do stupid things. I happen to be a professional."
"No, no, I get it. Somebody's got to watch out for our own. And somebody's got to stand up."
"Good thing there's two of us, eh?" He looked away. "Don't worry. I can watch my own back."
"Never had to before, but I can do it, right? Got a sister who told me there wasn't anything I couldn't do if I simply applied myself. For once I should maybe get cracking. Take things seriously. No pun intended."
His brother reached out and grasped his arm. "Think-"
Gideon smiled lopsidedly, the faint imprint of a dimple danced like a phantom over his freckled cheeks. "Don't want to. My thoughts'll invariably turn to entrails and heads on pikes and general stickiness. And well, if I'm gonna play the hero, I might as well get started…."
Forcibly, he shrugged off Fabian's arm. "Ah, fuck off, Fab. I don't want to hear it. Can't hear it. Got bigger fish to fry." He forced a laugh, and the sound bit into the cold air as his breath emerged like smoke.
Together, they watched the foggy tendrils fade and continue to emerge in steady puffs, vanishing into the night again and again.
"Waste of breath to argue with you, hmm?" Fabian finally managed, voice hoarse.
Gideon coughed into his hand, a scoffing sound. "Waste of breath to live a way other than this life. Doing other than what's… what's right." Biting his lip, he grinned again, backing away into the light of the street lamp and stretching his arms up, flexing his fingers. The light caught on his ginger hair, turning it a leonine gold. "Besides, living on death's edge, you don't get a better fucking rush than that."
Fabian's answering grin was weaker, as he ran a hand through his darker red.
"You think on that, now!" Gideon shouted, backing away. His grin broadened, tongue curling up behind his teeth. He shot Fabian two thumbs ups, which he tipped forward at his brother, his pointer fingers extended like firing wands.
"Where you going?" Fabian shouted after him, as his brother, younger by seven minutes and eleven seconds backed out of the glowing circle of one light and glided into the light of the other. He moved slowly after him, the shadow cast by the light behind him mingling with Gideon's shadow from the light ahead.
"Told Sturgis and Mack I'd meet up with 'em at the Green Dragon after we'd thought it over! And hope to hell she didn't get Sirius to tag along!" The shadows flitted across the planes of his face. "You can come, if you like!"
Fabian waved him off, his throat suddenly tight.
"It'll be quite the time, Fab!" Gideon hollered, cupping his hands around his mouth, still walking backwards. "Doc'll buy you a round! McKinnon might make you dance, she'll make me dance, but it's worth it! If only for the cost of fags we can bum off 'a Podmore!"
He cupped his own hands over his mouth and shouted at the broad, boyish shape of his brother, whose shadow was flitting further away. "Molly hates it when you smoke those things. She'll turn red and you'll miss out on her dinner!"
"Yeah, but it's worth it!"
Gideon swiveled away, but he turned back on his heel in a move just shy of graceful, like a dance step made awkward by misbehaving feet. "Fab!"
His brother looked up, the corners of his lips lifted in a pained smile.
"It is worth it!"
The empty street resounded with a sharp crack as Gideon vanished from his sight, his shadow evaporating with him.
Fabian shook his head and ran his calloused hand up the bridge of his nose to rest against his brow. He shook momentarily as a morbid sort of laugh escaped him and then dismissed concerns from his mind. He straightened and adjusted his robe collar. Hestia and Molly were expecting him, and he couldn't disappoint his two best girls.
"Damn fool," he muttered, not sure whether he meant his brother or himself, or both.
He couldn't follow him where he was going.
He couldn't not follow him.
Swearing fiercely, he Disapparated for home.
His words echoed for the merest instant in the street before fading into the quiet, leaving only the shadows and the streetlamps.