Nobody ever asked my birthday

A Cage of Fear

It was hard to see the boundaries of the room, Harry thought, peering around for moss.

Unseen, water dripped slowly. Other than that, everything was quiet.

Harry's feet crunched the hillocks beneath him - some of them sat suspended over water, the strength of old dead wood the only thing keeping him from sinking... who knows how far. Wouldn't that be a thing? Harry thought, thinking of the dark, watery voids beneath his feet.

With the humidity, it didn't feel like Scotland anymore.

And with the heat, it certainly didn't feel like the dungeons.

Harry followed a path that seemed... reasonable.

But in this dire swamp, there seemed to be dozens of paths.

Harry stepped around another green and spiky bush, the stairs fading from sight.

Without the stairs, it was hard to think of even being in Hogwarts anymore.

And this was not a place Harry wanted to linger - he felt a chill trail up his spine.

Harry was not going to let his fear get the better of him.

If Dementors couldn't do him in, surely he could withstand a dismal swamp?

Harry tread carefully, calmly - he breathed in and out, making every breath a moving meditation.

Step false, and you fall, he couldn't help but think to himself.

He rounded a bend, and all that he faced was a puddle - and surrounding the puddle, a mangrove thicket.

No purchase, no way through.

Harry turned around, and began his slow tread back.

He made sure every step was firm, directly where he'd stepped before.

As soon as he was able, Harry turned away from the exit, though his instincts screamed for him to run upstairs.

His instincts were rarely wrong.

Master your fear. The voice of iron rang out, echoing in the confines of Harry's skull.

It was his own voice, of course. The one that had kept him safe at the Dursleys.

Safe and quiet.

Harry's footfalls stopped, as he stood still, barely breathing.

That was the sound he'd heard. Not the dripping of water, but the lack of any other sound at all.

Birds fell silent when hawks drew near; as he'd fallen silent at the Dursleys when his Aunt or Uncle drew close.

He felt the danger like a palpable beast, trying to enfold him in a merciless embrace.

Harry took a deep breath, and then another, his heart racing.

He let the adrenaline rise, starting to advance quietly and softly.

Harry remembered, from years at Hogwarts, the adrenaline signalling a need to fight.

He remembered, from years before, the need to quell his fight. To bide his time.

Harry trod on, wary and watchful.

[a/n: Leave a review? Do you like this at all? I'm hoping this is giving some of you chills - it's even near Halloween.]