Rating: General Audiences
Characters: Marcus Flint, Marcus Flint's Father, Marcus Flint's Mother
Summary: Marcus could see monsters in every shadow. Especially Mister Rabbit at the foot end looked more menacingly than usual.
Lightning flashed through the drapes, closely followed by an ear-deafening crack that seemed to be make everything in his room rattle. The bright lights formed strange shapes on the cream coloured walls of his room. Marcus could see monsters in every shadow. Especially Mister Rabbit at the foot end looked more menacingly than usual. His older brother Julius had given the toy to him for safekeeping when he had left for Hogwarts last week.
Julius loved Mister Rabbit, more than he loved his little brother at times, and he used to get very angry when his little brother wanted to play with it. So, that he had entrusted his faithful companion to his sticky-fingered brother had been a big surprise to everyone. Of course, Marcus had been honoured at first by the trust his big brother had put in him. He had paraded around with for days with his small chest puffed up and chin high in the air.
Now, though, he wished that Julius had taken the scary toy with him to school. Marcus was sure the beady-eyed thing wanted to hurt him. The fluffy white rabbit kept winking at him and the evil thing had bitten him yesterday. He was sure of it, no matter how hard his mother tried to convince him that fluffy toys did not bite little boys. The indentations of the rabbit’s pointy teeth were still visible on his ankle.
Marcus tried to kick off the rabbit from his bed, but his legs were too short to reach it. All he managed was to stagger it a little; it must have dug his claws into the blankets. Shiny beady black eyes watched him, mocking him, scaring him.
The reverberating sound of thunder and the sound of the lashing rain against his windows added to his fear. Marcus let out a small squeak and felt around on his blankets until his fingers found what he was searching for. He hastily pulled Froggy close to him and curled up into a small ball of misery under the covers, it was warm and more importantly, safe under there. Another lightning sliced through the darkness, followed by thunder that shook the house. A small yelp escaped him again. Marcus didn't want to be alone anymore and at the same time, he didn’t dare to run to his parents.
He was a big boy now, five whole years, all his fingers on one hand. Big boys didn’t run to their parents whenever they got scared. His father had told him so yesterday when he had taken him for his first flying lesson in the park. Besides, Julius had never run to their parents, his brother never got scared. Wiping away his tears of fear, Marcus began repeating his new mantra with his eyes closed and Froggy pressed firmly against his small chest.
“I’m a big boy now; I’m a big boy now.”
As he repeated the words for numerous times, his drifted off to a restless sleep. His stuffed frog wet with his tears.
Marcus woke up with a start.
At first, he couldn't pinpoint what it was that woke him up as he peeped into his room from under his blankets. The storm had stopped by the sound of it. There was nothing more than the gentle rustling of the trees outside and moonlight shining through the creak between his curtains. However, after a few moments, he heard it again, a soft growling sound.
Marcus pulled the covers over his head again, his heart beating erratically. “I’m not scared,” he told himself loudly in a high-pitched voice.
The growling stopped and the only sounds audible were the ones on the other side of his window. After a few minutes of intent listening, Marcus threw his blanket back a little for some fresh air and let out a shaky breath. He felt silly for being afraid earlier, but proud that he hadn’t run to his parents’ room.
“That was stupid, wasn’t it Froggy?” he asked the furry green toy. Its remaining glass eye just stared back in answer, its lips forever frozen in a pink stitched smile. “I wasn’t scared at all, were you?”
Marcus did this a lot; talk to his most entrusted companion whenever he wasn’t able to fall asleep at nights. It didn’t matter that Froggy never answered him; Marcus knew he always agreed with him anyway. Moreover, it was just a toy and toys never talked back. His mum had told him so.
He was in the midst of relaying his first flying lesson for the umpteenth time when he heard that soft growling again. His first reaction was to duck under the covers, but the he remembered that the thunder hadn’t hurt him. Maybe, Mr Rabbit wouldn’t either. Swallowing hard, he pushed himself to a half-upright position, Froggy squished in his tiny fist for support and protection.
His room was still dark, the silvery moon outside his only source of light. There was nothing out of the ordinary. Until his eyes fell of Mr Rabbit that was. Where it had been on his foot end before, it was now nearly half way up his bed. However, that wasn’t the worst part. It winked and grinned at him, bearing his big pointy teeth.
Marcus blinked a few times, his mind trying to process what he was seeing. It wasn’t until the rabbit toy moved towards him, his survival instincts finally kicked in. Without thinking, he jumped out of bed, falling to the ground in the process. Without thinking about his chafed knees and palms, he scrambled up and ran to the door, panting in panic while his heart was ready to jump out of his chest. It took a few desperate, fear-filled attempts to open the door; he had forgotten that he was supposed to pull instead of push. All the while, he heard the rabbit behind him: growling and hopping towards the door with dulled thuds.
Once he managed to open the door, Marcus ran as fast as he could and didn’t stop until he reached his parents’ bedroom door. He twisted the doorknob and threw the door open, making it bang against the wall. He breathed a small sigh of relief at seeing his parents in their bed. His father snored loudly while his mother stirred.
“Marcus, honey, is that you?” she asked sleepily as she lifted her head.
Marcus let out a small sob and flung himself in his mother’s arms, knocking the breath out of the woman. “Mr Rabbit,” he quivered and promptly started crying. “He wants to eat me, Mummy.”
Sally Flint sighed deeply; she should have known that Julius had something up sleeve when had generously offered his toy to his little brother. Marcus just wasn’t imaginative enough to make up stories about biting toys. She sighed again and threw her covers back. “Come here, love. I’ll protect you.”
She didn’t need to say it again as he clambered onto the bed in light speed as soon as the words left her lips. He climbed over his mother right under the thick blankets, safely tucked in between his parents’ warm bodies. This was familiar and safe; nothing would happen to him here. His father was still asleep, snoring loudly. Afraid to wake him, Marcus tried to make himself as small as possible, still shaking and his eyes shut tight. He didn't want his father to scold him for running scared again.
A soft hand brushing a lock of hair from his face startled him. Marcus reluctantly opened his eyes, meeting his mother’s sleepy smile.
"You’re safe here, darling. Sleep now."
Marcus nodded sheepishly and his mother's smile widened. She wrapped her arm around him and adjusted the covers around them. Another arm draped itself around Marcus with a softly murmured 'little bugger'. Marcus closed his eyes thankfully; his parents weren’t angry with him for being scared. Surrounded by the warm bodies of parents, he fell asleep.
When Sally was sure that her son was asleep, she spoke out softly, “William, are you awake?”
“Can’t get much sleep with him moving around, can I?” William replied gruffly. He loved his sons, he really did, but Marcus had the nasty habit of kicking in his sleep. And usually, he was on the receiving end of it, mostly in his sensitive areas. The chances were, tonight would be no different. He had hoped that the stern talking to would have helped with keeping Marcus in his own room. It had worked with Julius years ago.
“Go check his room,” Sally told him, ignoring his concealed complaint, “I think Julius has left a little surprise behind.”
William lay very still in hopes that she would give up and fall asleep eventually if he ignored her. He did not fancy getting out of his warm bed and clean up after his eldest son’s pranks on his brother. The boy enjoyed torturing Marcus a little bit too much, getting more creative as time went on. A kick to his shins and a hissed ‘now’ was enough to let him know that she would not rest until he had done as she had told him.
Sally watched her husband reluctantly get out of bed and shuffle out of the room, muttering profanities under his breath. She put her hands on Marcus’ ear; even though if he was asleep, she wanted to protect him from the foul language her husband liked so much. It was silent for a long time until she heard a muffled ‘what the’, soon followed by a ‘Finite Incantatem’. There was a moment of silence and then an angry ‘Reducto’.
Not for the first time, Sally wondered if they had done right by allowing Julius to keep those old spell books Great Aunt Martha had left him. Mainly because he seemed to be enjoying trying out new spells on his brother.
“My poor boy,” Sally murmured as she caressed her sleeping son’s soft hair and tried to pull his thumb out of his mouth. Hopefully, he would soon learn to stand up for himself. Then again, Julius would only see that as a challenge.
William was still cussing when he returned to their room. In the faint light, Sally could see bits of stuffing in his hair. “What was it?” she asked when her husband sat down on the edge of the bed and removed his slippers.
“The rabbit,” he grunted as he settled under the covers. A part of him was proud that Julius had successfully managed such a difficult enchantment on a toy before his twelfth birthday. It was just a shame that he chose to use his talents to torture his little brother. “Remind me to send Julius a howler in the morning.”
“Just a howler?” Sally asked in indignation, “He won’t-”
“A howler, every day for the rest of the term. He’ll receive his proper punishment when he gets home for Christmas.”
Sally thought it over for a minute. It was embarrassing to receive those kinds of letters. Heavens, she had received one during her fifth year at Hogwarts and it had been enough for her not to step out of line ever again. Receiving one every day, she could only imagine the humiliation. “We’ll alternate, so he’ll now that he’s in trouble with the both of us.”
"Yeah," William yawned. "Can we discuss this in the morning? I'm knackered."
As the older Flints settled down again for the night, both still troubled by their eldest son’s behaviour, young Marcus dreamt of fluffy bunnies and flying on his toy broom. The terror he had felt mere hours earlier was in the past. He didn’t need to be scared anymore because his parents would protect him.
They always did in the end.