A/N: Written for violet_dreamer4 in the "Be My Hetalia" fanwork exchange on LiveJournal. It's late…and I apologize! Had a lot of work and this turned out to be rather lengthy. I hope anybody who reads this will enjoy!
Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling
Axis Powers Hetalia belongs to Hidekaz Himaruya
Lovino raced down the spiral staircase, tripping on a hewn edge which almost sent him sprawling. He caught himself at the very last second, a curse bursting loudly from his mouth. Ignoring the scandalized looks on the faces of the two fifth-year Gryffindors nearby, Lovino continued hurtling downwards.
The end of the staircase opened out onto the fifth floor corridor, so that was where Lovino eventually tumbled. Horrified at the prospect of meeting other students, he screwed his eyes shut, balling his fingers into fists, so he could will them into not shaking anymore.
I want to be where nobody can see me. Where nobody can find me. I want to hide.
He ran down the hall blindly, begging whatever higher power there was out there to grant him his wish.
Lovino had tripped again. This time around, he was less fortunate. All too soon the floor loomed closer from below, and the resulting collision of his chin to the stone floor brought about the most jolting, reverbating, hard shock of physical pain that Lovino had ever felt before.
Once again, a magnificent string of curses peppered the air as Lovino hauled himself up onto his feet.
"Ugh," he hissed, gingerly touching a finger to his chin. Another fresh scrape for the collection. All he wanted to do was get away from everyone else in this stupid castle.
Then he blinked. He was absolutely certain that there had been no door here, earlier. True, it wasn't a very big door: wooden with dull silver hinges and a matching handle. No carvings, no plaque – unassuming and innocent. Lovino frowned at it, suspicious.
"I can't believe we have five chapters of History of Magic to read. Five!"
"And that Potions essay. I'd fight a dragon to get away from that."
The voices drifted down the empty corridor. Somebody was coming just around the corner. Lovino wrenched open the mystery door and dove inside.
"Ow! Son of a –"
It turned out to be a broom closet. Lovino tried to upright himself amongst the rags and bottles of stain-removal potion. He froze upon hearing footsteps.
"…got a kicked off the Quidditch team for hexing that second-year in the halls…"
"…always thought he was a bit of a boor…"
The footsteps died away and Lovino sighed. Sitting down on an upturned bucket, the Italian third-year buried his face in his hands, thinking back onto the events of the past hour.
Defence Against the Dark Arts was just perhaps Lovino's least favourite subject at Hogwarts. Yes, more than the tedious yet meticulous processes of brewing potions, more than prodding various objects into transfiguring into other forms, and even more than trying to remember all those useless dates in History of Magic – because at least he could duck behind another student to catch a quick nap.
The thing that he disliked the most about Defence Against the Dark Arts was the practical component. Lovino was sure that Professor LaGuardia's secondary motive for being a teacher was to humiliate his students in front of the rest of the class. Like that Red Cap…Lovino insisted that it was highly unnerving to allow into school a creature that was attracted to places were blood had been spilt, but Professor LaGuardia had dismissed his protest by claiming Red Caps were easily defeated by simple charms. Lovino was loath to agree, especially since the little demon had instantly gone after him with those freakishly long fingernails.
No, it wasn't because Lovino's wand hand was shaking too hard from fear, rendering him unable to perform any spells. That would be absurd.
So now, a week later, he was lurking at the back of his class, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. The other Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws shuffled around impatiently, staring at the wobbling chest before them with great interest. Lovino was grateful; if he had to encounter another mimed impression of his speedy escape from the Red Cap once more, he really would hex somebody.
Professor LaGuardia marched towards the chest, rolling up the sleeves of her robe.
"Alright, class begins now," she announced. "And as a warning, today's lesson will be a smidgen more advanced than the last. So anybody who had trouble with the Red Caps pay extra attention!"
All heads swivelled towards the Hufflepuff at the back who slouched down in his seat. Lovino scowled at his classmates, reddening by the second.
"In this chest, I have a boggart."
A collective chorus of ooooohs arose from the students. Professor LaGuardia rapped the lid of the chest with her knuckles, nodding approvingly at the reaction.
"A boggart is a shape-shifting creature." The sound of students hastily pulling out quills and parchment peppered the air as Professor LaGuardia continued to lecture. "Nobody knows the true form of a boggart due to its penchant for hiding in dark, enclosed spaces – such as this chest right here. As a magical life-form, it possesses keen sensory abilities to tailor itself against its target."
The blank expressions on a few faces gave her cause to pause. "What I mean is that a boggart is a strong magical opponent as it has the power to change itself into your greatest fear."
Another gasp echoed around the classroom. Lovino thought his heart skipped a beat. Was Professor LaGuardia insane? Why would she even do such a thing to bring this…thing into the classroom? He couldn't help wondering what the boggart would do to him. His greatest fear? Lovino ducked his head even lower behind the frizzy puff of hair of the Ravenclaw in front of him. He didn't even know what his greatest fear was.
Professor LaGuardia ignored the murmurs of conversation that now filled her classroom, instead shoving her robe sleeve back up to her elbow again. "However, there is an easy spell to protect yourself from a boggart. Repeat after me: riddikulus."
"Riddikulus," they intoned obediently.
"Excellent. This spell will force your boggart to change itself into something comical, which itself incites laughter. This is key, students. The riddikulus spell will not defeat the boggart alone, but the resulting laughter does. Think of amusing scenarios to change fear into confidence. Years ago, under another professor, one student managed to put his Potions master into the clothes of his grandmother – and the laughter that came from that nearly finished the creature off right away!"
A few students grinned dutifully at this, but most of them looked too nervous. Everybody knew how Professor LaGuardia favoured live demonstrations, but nobody was willing to disclose their greatest fears. Particularly a Hufflepuff third-year named-
"Lovino! I'm sure you're feeling much better from last week's mishap. Let's see you take on the boggart."
No. No, no, no, no.
"No!" He felt himself blushing again, and clutched his wand so tightly that a feeble spark burst out of one end. "I mean, no thank you, professor."
She raised her eyebrow at him. "Come on, now. You've got to get over your aversion to practical training. The Dark Lord was not defeated all those years ago because Harry Potter sat at the back of his class every week!"
"But he was the Chosen One," Lovino muttered. Nobody was listening to him. Some students failed to hide their snickers, and plenty of girls were staring at him with wide, unsympathetic eyes. Yet somehow, Lovino found himself standing up and making his way down the aisle, ignoring the jibes and pokes thrown at him. Professor LaGuardia looked far too pleased in spite of this.
"Righto, Lovino. Let's go over the spell once more. Riddikulus."
"I feel ridiculous," he told her. Unfortunately, she wasn't paying close attention.
"Good! This will be a cinch for you. Got your amusing scenario fresh and ready?"
"No, because I don't even know what my greatest fe-"
"Excellent. Stand your ground, now. I'm going to open the chest."
The class held its breath as she moved off to the side, aiming her wand at the chest. Lovino held his own wand before him and trembled.
Everybody heard the whirr and click of the chest's lock opening and the lid flew up. Before Lovino could stop himself, he squeezed his eyes shut.
He didn't want to see, he didn't want to know. Whatever his greatest fear happened to be…
His eyes flew open. A young boy who resembled Lovino very much was trying to climb out of the sides of the chest, stumbling over its edges. The vacant-yet-sweet expression on his face clouded over for a moment as he banged a knee against the side.
"Vee..." he pouted. The boy caught sight of Lovino and smiled brightly.
What on earth was Feliciano doing in the chest? Lovino gaped at this image of his brother now wandering towards him, looking just as stupid and happy as he always did. Lowering his wand arm, Lovino made to scold him for interrupting his Defence Against the Dark Arts class, wasn't the little idiot supposed to be struggling his way through Transfiguration right no-
Feliciano suddenly dropped to the floor with a terrible choke. Lovino watched in horror as his brother flailed wildly against invisible forces that kept him down. Feliciano managed to reach one hand up to his neck through all the spasms. Then Lovino suddenly knew what was going to happen, supposed to happen, before he could do or say anything…
Just as abruptly as he had begun, Feliciano stopped twitching. The classroom was silent as the body slowly rolled over - glassy amber eyes stared straight up at the arched ceiling, the classically pale tone of his skin colour betraying the ugly, awful bruises dotting his neck. Strangulation.
Lovino didn't even realize he had stopped breathing before a loud cracking noise prompted him to jump back, covering his face. Only a surprised buzz from his classmates got him to succumb to curiosity, and he looked.
Bella stood in Feliciano's place, smoothing out her skirt. As she bent over to examine the hem, Lovino could only see the top of her blonde head, golden save for the one stripe of blue ribbon that tied back her beautiful curls so neatly. Straightening back up, the Ravenclaw prefect looked at Lovino and held out a hand towards him.
"Lovino!" He nearly jumped out of his skin at the voice. Professor LaGuardia gestured with her wand. "The spell!"
He turned back to Bella, who was staring at him questioningly. "Ridi….rid…"
His knees nearly gave as her expression changed. Lovino cringed as Bella crumpled up, dreadful third-degree burns appearing all over her arms and legs, in front of his shaking wand. He couldn't stand looking at her anymore when they reached her neck, and he turned away.
Professor LaGuardia put a hand on Lovino's shoulder.
"I think we've seen enough…"
He could feel her grip tightening as the boggart changed form once again. He knew he probably should let the Professor take over…It was clear to everyone there that Lovino was in absolutely no position to fend of this, and who could blame someone for having a deep fear of watching everyone he cared for hurting and dying -
Lovino had always told him to straighten his red and gold tie, the bastard. And to get that soft, ever-so-slightly-curly brown hair out of his stupid green eyes. The ones he couldn't meet without feeling like word vomit. Without wanting to smack that dumb (and maybe a tiny bit just wonderful?) grin off his douchey (or beautiful?) face…
Antonio stood blinking at Lovino, looking about him with mild confusion. When his head turned towards the third-year, Lovino's eyes welled up, knowing exactly what was going to happen.
A girl's scream broke the silence. A stream of blood began to pool from the corner of Antonio's mouth, and he shuddered, stumbling forward a little. Lovino dimly became aware of the shadow creeping up his body – Antonio was rather tall. The Gryffindor fifth-year reached out a hand, similar to the way boggart!Bella had, but this time the fingers were streaked with red. More students screamed as Antonio convulsed one more time and suddenly the ground was sprayed with blood everywhere, spurting from Antonio's mouth and neck and chest and wherever the deep, horrible gashes were now appearing –
"That's ENOUGH!" Lovino was pushed roughly to one side as Professor LaGuardia took charge of the situation. "Riddikulus!"
Between the force of her shove and his already too-weak knees, Lovino went crashing to the stone floor without even a hand thrown out to steady himself. But he didn't even register the pain shooting through his skull as he looked up and saw twenty pairs of eyes staring back at him. Ignoring the voice of his Professor calling to him, Lovino sprang up, threw himself at the door, and fled from the Defence Against the Dark Arts tower.
…And this had all ended with him hunched over a bucket, surrounded by mops, and hating the entire world. One thing he wasn't doing was weeping, obviously. Lovino was sure that his eyes were only stinging due to some sort of irritating ingredient in these cleaning potions – he was just really sensitive to this sort of stuff, alright?
He clumsily got up from his seat and awkwardly made his way to the door of the closet, narrowly missing the corner of a shelf in the process. Since he couldn't hear any noise from outside, Lovino carefully pushed the door open.
Stepping into the fifth floor corridor once again, he squinted out the window, where it was still allowing the sunlight to pour in. The corridor seemed deserted. Class was probably still in session, then.
At the end of the corridor were possibly his two least favourite people in the world. Clearly having found a way to sneak out of class, Francis waved gaily at him as Gilbert cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted again.
"Heard about your freak-out in Defence! Not awesome, dude!"
Francis grabbed Gilbert's elbow and began dragging him down the hall, also calling. "Lovi, mon cher, you need comforting…?"
Uh, hell no. After screaming just that, Lovino sped off again before the Slytherins could catch up to him. After twenty minutes of pure running, several flights of stairs and more narrow misses with the floor, Lovino darted out of the castle and onto the grounds. All was calm and quiet. The lake glittered beautifully in the rays of the sun, disturbed only by a few ripples as the giant squid moved around in its depths. The forest was quiet save for a few bird calls, and even the whomping willow was still, a dot in the safe distance.
Without warning, Lovino heard the sounds of hundreds of Hogwarts students bursting out of their classrooms, chattering to each other and clattering books and wands and potion ingredients about. Any minute, they'd find him at the door, so he darted down towards the boathouse.
Lovino grumbled to himself as he picked his way down the steep path. How the hell did Gilbert find out so quickly? Did everyone else in the castle know? And – his stomach flipped a little – did that mean Antonio now knew about the boggart…?
The voice chilled his insides, in spite of the warm weather. Lovino froze on the path, noticing all too late the footfalls crunching in the dirt behind him.
"Lovi, are you okay?" Antonio fished around in his pants pocket. "Feliks sent this note to Elizabeta, but Gilbert stole it and showed me during Charms…want to talk about it?"
Lovino whirled around (not an easy feat on the uneven ground) and glared.
"No. Go away." He avoided those green eyes.
Antonio hadn't stopped walking, and was now only a few feet from him. "But he said, here…it was 'so effin' scary and creepersville'." The older student frowned slightly, trying to comprehend Feliks's strange vocabulary and loopy handwriting.
"I just want to be there for you Lovi…"
"I don't want you to." Lovino stumbled as he took a step backwards on the slope. "Leave me right now or I'll…" He pulled out his wand. "Or I'll hex you!"
Antonio stared. Lovino knew that it was completely unlikely, but there was something that felt just so strong – much stronger than his usual reasons of Antonio being a dumbass – that told him Antonio had to stay away.
"Don't be ridiculous."
"I-I'm serious! Don't touch me!" The words popped out of Lovino's mouth as Antonio reached out to block his wand arm. He had reached with his right hand. The same one that had been stained red and sticky, and Lovino could almost see the deep cut that had burst open in front of his eyes just an hour earlier –
"Lovi, it's me. I'm fine, it's okay!"
Lovino had forgotten how much stronger Antonio had always been. But even so, it was easy enough to grab Lovino's wrist, yank away his wand, and pull him into a tight hug.
"Don't cry," He assured him.
Too late. All the emotions that Lovino had locked up inside of him ever since the moment the Boggart had assumed Feliciano's form had finally cracked their safe, and tears rolled down his cheeks, dripping off his chin and wetting Antonio's sweater.
"I-it's just…" He gasped in between sobs. "N-not because you guys are, are…important to me or anything! It's just a creepy thought…any, anyone would have been scared of that too…"
Biting back a smile, Antonio merely wrapped his arms even tighter around him and waited. After a lot of sobs, sniffles, and incoherent declarations that were clearly in denial, the Hufflepuff finally gave a half-hearted push against Antonio's shoulder.
"You okay now?" Antonio asked.
Lovino blushed and nodded. Instead of letting him go, Antonio merely shifted his position and began to wipe Lovino's cheek with his sleeve.
"S-stop," grunted the third-year.
"Aw, but hey, you got hurt." Antonio's fingers traced the scrape on Lovino's chin. "Looks painful."
"I'm fine," Lovino began desperately, but Antonio had already leaned forward and lightly kissed him on the lips.
"Better?" Antonio grinned at Lovino's stunned expression. "Need another one?"
"Um." Had Antonio known before that this would have silenced Lovino, he would have done it a lot sooner.
Both boys were startled at the cry coming from above them. Feliciano, short but full of life in his slightly too-large uniform, was frantically racing down the path with Bella on his heels, her hair ribbon bouncing with each step.
"I'm so sorry!" Feliciano hurled himself at his brother, not even realizing that Lovino himself was entangled in Antonio's arms. "Everyone's talking about the boggart, veeeee, and I'm so sorry you had to see me, and it must have been soooo bad…"
"Don't worry, Lovino!" It was Bella's turn to wrap an arm around him, squeezing him in sympathy. "We're your friends, we'll be here for you."
Antonio's mouth twisted into what probably wanted to be a smile, but it was taking every scrap of respect for Lovino's wishes not to. Feliciano hung onto his arm, nearly sobbing himself.
"If Grandpa Roma ever found out…!"
"He'd be crying just as bad as you are." Lovino shook his arm in vain, but Feliciano held fast. "Get off!"
"Looks like he wasn't the only one crying…" Clever Bella didn't let a single clue get past her. "Is he alright, Antonio?"
Lovino shot him a glare, but it was significantly weaker than ever before.
"Let's just go," he muttered.
Bella smiled. "Okay. I trust you guys. Come on, Feli. Lunch will be served soon."
Feliciano straightened, but continued with his death grip on Lovino's arm. "Vee…will they let us sit at different tables?"
He was referring to Antonio and Lovino's linked fingers, to which Lovino blushed and Antonio grinned.
"I guess we'll see, won't we?"
Bella laughed and linked her elbow through Antonio's. And with that connection, both physical and emotional, the four friends made their way back up to Hogwarts.
Lovino sucked in his breath as they walked towards the castle, past the lake and the whomping willow. They were in full view of other students now – he spied two Slytherins, hair of silver and hair of gold – lounging near the side entrance, waiting for them.
It wasn't just them. A lot of people were waiting there, to question, to stare, to tease and to whisper behind his back. Lovino knew there was nothing he could do to stop the rumours and the jeering.
But he had his brother on one side, a friend on the other and…somebody altogether quite different holding his hand.
A/N: I never thought I'd write anything Harry Potter related, but here we are! It was something I'd played around with in my mind for a while, and when I saw Spamano and Harry Potter AUs on the list, I thought ah, finally a way to employ it ^-^
(I am not sure about that ending though :C)
To my normal alerters: Thanks for reading and not losing faith in me =.=" I've been so horrible at updating; I feel super bad. But just to let you know, I swear that NONE of my stories will be abandoned. Even Of Lovers and Madmen, I'm still trying to get that one back on its feet! Expect something new for Thicker Than Water in a few days.