For Ash's Fanfiction Tournaments — May, week 4. Marauder's Era.
They say that the descent into hell is easy. They say that the descent into evil is something that happens so slowly that the person doesn't notice, that no one notices until it's already happened. They call it a slow fade.
They also say that every man does what he does because he believes it to be right, that no man would do evil for the sake of doing evil, that no man thinks himself a villain as he acts — that history is written by the victor and only then does conviction become insanity.
They say a lot of things. Some of them are true. Some are not. Just because the masses believe in an idea, doesn't mean it is true.
His descent is a slow fade into the darkness, but he does not for a second believe that what he is slipping into is right.
But it doesn't seem to matter, and it doesn't seem to help him stop it.
The problem is, he spent so long clinging to her, so long anchoring himself to her, that when she began to pull away he had nothing left to hold on to. It is a side effect of the unfortunate codependence that he inadvertently created — he put his everything into her, into gaining her friendship and becoming who she wanted him to be, and he left absolutely no room for the possibility that she might leave.
He didn't even consider it.
It's one of those things where he can't figure out which one happened first but once one began, it triggered the other and… and positive feedback. The original stimuli was amplified by the secondary stimuli that it caused, which in turn amplified the original stimuli — what some would call a vicious cycle. He started slipping and she started pulling away or she started pulling away and he started slipping or… does it even matter anymore? Something happened to start it all and then it created a downward spiral to land him here.
Here, where she won't even look him in the eye. Where he called her the worst thing he could have possibly come up with because he was embarrassed and he wanted her to hurt — in that moment. He is, in the aftermath, consumed with regret.
He is full of regret and pain and guilt and… and he doesn't know anymore what it is to be happy, and he cannot recapture it, cannot quite remember how he felt when she smiled at him.
And he hates it all. He hates the way she looks at him, with pity and disgust. He hates the way Potter looks at him, that smug, self-satisfied smirk. He hates the way the darkness calls to him with an undeniable allure, hates the way it makes him feel — loves the way it makes him feel — powerful.
He is no longer the person he tried so hard to become, for her. He is instead the person they want him to become, the boy from whose lips words like Mudblood and curses that taint his mind as he speaks them would slip so easily.
And he cannot resist. He cannot resist the allure of power, the allure of respect. He wants to show them all what he is capable of. He wants to prove to them and to himself that he is stronger, better than James Potter.
He wants to prove that he is worthy of her.
And some part of him knows this isn't the way to do it, that same part of him that knows this darkness he is slipping towards is wrong, but he cannot see another way.
What started as a slow fade becomes an all out tumble into the pit, and he doubts he will ever emerge.
(Eventually, he does, but not as the same man who fell. He is forever scarred, forever broken, forever tainted by the path he never entirely meant to take.)