For the as Strong as We Are United Comp with the prompts Home,, Different, Childhood, Courage, Obsession,

For Ash's Fanfiction Tournaments — March. Pre-Hogwarts.


The pencil skims across the smooth paper effortlessly. His sketchpad is propped up against his knees as he carefully shades in the bare branches of the old oak tree. It's somewhat of an obsession — the shading must be exactly perfect or it just looks wrong.

This one is one of those. Abruptly frustrated, he tears the page out of the sketchpad and balls it up, hurling it as far as he can.

He's trying to escape, trying to draw and forget, but it isn't working today. Not after what happened. He sets the sketchpad down beside him and buries his face in his hands. He's sick of it. He's sick of being different. He's sick of people looking at him like he's a freak.

He didn't mean to wind up on the other side of the playground in the time it took him to blink. He doesn't even know how he did it. He's just as baffled as they are. Jenny had snuck up behind him — not on purpose —and put her hand on his shoulder and he'd just startled, and then suddenly he was on the other side of the playground, shoulders hunched, posture protective.

Jenny had screamed, and he couldn't even blame her. She'd screamed and he'd muttered endless apologies amidst the whispers — freak, weirdo, unnatural. Dean had curled further into himself, as though he could physically shield himself from their words.

One of the older boys had come over at the sight of the conflict, and Dean had watched his concern change to understanding as he saw who is was standing in the center. This wasn't the first time Dean had been involved in strange things he didn't understand. They looked at him like he should stop, like he could control it.

He just wanted to go home.

But then he'd imagined his mother's face if he'd've called her and told her that he wanted to go home because they were laughing at him — knew she'd be disappointed if he did. Not that she'd show him, no, she'd pick him up and take him home and tell him about people looking down on her, staring at her, about how sometimes the world is a cruel place, but she thought he was her strong, brave, courageous little boy. He wasn't going to disappoint her.

He could survive a few snickers, a few stares.

But the truth is, he's sick of it. He's sick of being different. He's sick of being stared at, and he's sick of all the whispers.

The tears begin to fall. He can't. He doesn't know how to handle this. It isn't fair.

But the world isn't fair, and Dean knows that. He doesn't expect fair. That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.

He sits with his back against the tree at the outskirts of the forest, staring at his backyard. Staring at the lonely oak. He thinks about all it must have survived to still be standing there. All alone.

He picks the sketchpad back up. His pencil flies across the page, rebuilding the intricate outline before once more attempting the careful shading.

And he tells himself that he, too, will be a survivor. Even if he's standing alone.