LbN: Written for sweeternity's Irrational Fear Challenge.

There were a lot of things Vincent Crabbe hated. He hated his dad and mum. He hated how they hated him. He hated that everyone thought he was stupid. He wasn't. He just needed more time for things. He hated that he needed Draco—how his connection to the illustrious Malfoy family was the only thing keeping him from being kicked out of his house. The house he hated, but needed.

He walked morosely down the stairs. It was the time of summer for parties—ostentatious Death Eater gatherings that made him more than a little queasy. He'd spend the evening playing bodyguard to Draco, possibly getting him to talk a bit. He wasn't on Draco's level, though, as everyone constantly reminded him. So he'd stare into space, imagining the things he could be doing if he didn't have to be there. The list wasn't extensive. Building things, or beating someone up. He straightened his robe and made his way to the deck, where guests were already assembling. Before he reached the door, he stopped in his tracks.

There were many things Vincent Crabbe hated, but only one he truly feared. Voldemort could return and Bellatrix could come after him in a psychotic rage, and his reaction would be stoic compared to what was outside.

A dense fog covered the deck. There were plenty of lights and torches, but still. He didn't know why it scared him, or how long he'd had this fear, but he was paralyzed at the thought of exiting the house. He backed away a few steps, into a lamp.

"Easy, boy!" his father said, coming into the room with two drinks.

"Sorry," Crabbe grunted. He pulled out his wand and righted the lamp.

"No matter. Here, have a cocktail. You'll need to be used to drinking by the time we get to the World Cup. The Irish don't mess about. What's wrong with you?" he asked, seeing Crabbe's ashen face.

"Nothing, Dad," Crabbe said, taking a sip. He made a face. "Can I greet the guests at the door?"

"Everyone's Apparating into the yard." He sneered when his son's face fell. "Bloody hell, boy! You're fourteen! You'll be a man in three years! And you're sniveling at a little fog?" His dad grabbed him roughly by the shoulders and pushed him toward the door.

Crabbe fought. He hated that his dad was bigger. He slid toward the door, but twisted out of his father's grasp. His drink fell to the floor, glass shattering. He sank against the wall, allowing himself to fall all the way to the cold tile. He choked back his sobs of terror with difficulty.

His dad gave him a cold stare and rolled his sleeve back. It looked as if he were going to hit him, but the man was simply showing him something. It was a tattoo. "Vincent," he said softly. "You remember this? It's been getting darker now for a few weeks. I expect things to change within this next year. Pure blood will be seen for what it is—stronger, better, the ruling class. You will be called upon to be a part of that change, boy. And you'd better realize that there are bigger things to fear than some smoke and fog." With that, he repaired the glass and walked out into the party.

Crabbe sat there for a while. Yes, there were a lot of things he hated, and one he truly feared. He stood, adjusting his robes. In the back of his mind, he knew his father was right, but that didn't stop the tears from falling. He put on his mask, thankful that it would cover his face for the whole night. Shaking from head to toe, he opened the door and stepped into the cool, damp air. One thing he truly feared. But that would end tonight.