I hope you have a wonderful day and may all the wishes you've made in all past years come true this year. ♥ ♥ ♥
This is a warfic, slightly non-linear Harry/Draco with very little porn and lots of character stuff and plot (but like I said, slightly non-linear)
It's long because I am apparently physically incapable of producing anything short. [~5000 words]
Unfortunately unbeta-d because I was writing until the cows came home. I hope you like it. ♥
Rated R for some sexual content, harsh language, violence, minor character death, and general non-kid-friendliness.
"This is not a list. These are people."
The thought travels through his mind like a poisonous snake slithering through grass behind the Hogwarts greenhouses. Almost deadly. He studies the parchment and rereads the name at his fingertip.
Her mother was a Muggle and that is why Millicent has to die. She can't help it, though, can she? Why did he have to get this list - these people - out of all the rest? Why? The candle on the table has melted almost to the base. He's sat here for hours, staring at the names - people - marked for death, as sure as his left forearm was marked for murder. How long till he can wash all that blood off his soul? Is it worth it?
She was ugly, Millicent was. He remembers her, awkwardly bulky with eyebrows thick and black as coal. She had a deep, rumbling, surly voice that made one think of wind in abandoned wells. She looked like her father; nothing Muggle about her facial expressions. Nothing Muggle about her wand-work, either.
Vincent and Gregory had detention and Marcus Flint had Draco bent over the sofa, hitching up his robes. "I'll teach you a lesson you'll never forget," he growled, thick fingers spreading Draco's cheeks. "Show you how to pay attention to the Snitch, you little wanker." Draco was biting down on his knuckles, metallic taste in his mouth. He did not call for help but before Flint could do anything, she had come into the common room.
"Impedimenta!" boomed her man-voice and the sick pressure at Draco's opening was gone. He straightened up and helped her kick Flint until there was blood on the silver hearthrug, splattered as though paint across a canvas. Artful. She whisper-shouted hoarse words: terrifying things about destroyed innocence and men like Flint getting what they deserved.
When Millicent's father died in seventh year, Draco told the Ministry people that she had, in fact, been at his house. The blood was from a pig they were trying to transfigure. Preparing for school. Damnedest thing, sir. Draco was trying to transfigure the animal but instead cast a severing charm.
When you slash a throat, there is an initial gush in the first few seconds, and it produces a remarkable amount of blood. It was an accident, sir. It was Draco's fault, sir. Children, as you know - not yet fully qualified wizards. Sir didn't need to know that Draco could transfigure pigs in his sleep.
She helped him get rid of Flint's body later that year. Draco Malfoy did not forget past wrongs. Only one person had ever earned Draco's forgiveness. The one who went into the Forbidden Forest at the time of the centaur revolt during seventh year. He went to bring back Pansy. He came out, bloody and battered but with Pansy in his arms and Draco told him, "I forgive you, Potter. Now get out of my sight."
Potter smiled, world-weary and empty; he walked away with a limp, leaving the smell of death in his wake. Had he killed for her? Draco brushed Pansy's dirty, blood-matted hair from her face and pressed his mouth to the beating pulse point at her temple. Draco had Millicent and Pansy had Draco.
Pansy is gone now, whisked away across the ocean to temporary safety. And Millicent... Millicent is marked for death and Draco is marked as her executioner. Mudbloods all, the list - the people. Half-blood is no longer a word. How pure, how simple.
"Impedimenta," he whispers to the dead candle in the darkness. "Impedimenta."
Lights a new candle, picks up a quill. Stares at a blank piece of parchment for hours, finally shoves it aside. Pulls the list towards himself, signs his name at the bottom and summons his owl. The wistful scratching of his quill is still in his ear, his final chance at relative normalcy ebbing away like the candle that's now puddling at the base of its holder, shiny wax like new blood.
He ties the people - the rolled-up list - to the owl's leg.
"Take this to Harry Potter."
He watches the owl's powerful wings recede into the darkness beyond the window and wonders how such a small creature can bear such a weight.
Potter's thin frame is silhouetted against the stone steps of the church, the swinging streetlight lengthening those shadows into bizarre monster-shapes. It's been a long time since Draco was afraid of monsters. Fearing oneself is rather counter-productive, after all.
"Follow me," he mutters. Potter disappears beneath an Invisibility Cloak and all along the way, Draco can only tell he's there by the even trail of footprints by his side. The snow whispers to them, singing songs long forgotten even by the descendants of Druids. A shame, really: they are beautiful songs.
The heavy oak door admits two where there should have been one. The meeting's already started. Draco stares into the centre of the circle, where his father kneels before his lord and master.
"The Mudbloods assigned to you and your son have all escaped. You have failed me for the last time, Lucius. Come forward, Draco."
Draco sways but steps into the circle. He doesn't fear these monsters any more than he fears Potter's shadows on the wall. Sibilant voice speaks from beneath a mask, two red circles glittering with malice - hungry eyes. Hungry. Blood.
"Kill him," says the cold voice, carving a path across Draco's heart.
When Draco told him about Flint's punishment, Father said he should have taken it. Told Draco he should have let the bastard violate him. That was rather wrong, Father. Dead wrong, Father. Take it like a man, Father? You take it like a man. Father.
When the people on the list failed to be where they were supposed to be, old Dolohov came to search Draco's dwelling. Lucius's list in his pocket, Draco leant against the wall and watched Dolohov work. "Looking for something in particular?" he inquired in politest tones. Dolohov asked for his list then and Draco gave it to him, looking appropriately scandalised. Father trusted Draco; it wasn't difficult to nick his copy of the list.
Lucius coughs. "My son will never-"
Air green as poison, high-pitched laughter laced through it like spider webs. Draco lowers his wand and smiles beneath his monster's mask. Fuck you too, Father. Sincerely, your only son. The rat-like man by the Dark Lord's side - Draco can never remember his name - whimpers and casts a distrustful look into Potter's corner. Draco glances that way but sees nothing.
After that, it's business as usual. Once again, lists for Draco and his new partner, Blaise "Darling" Zabini. Nicknamed so because he calls everyone "my darling" despite being straighter than a Maypole. Blaise's fingers waggle in greeting, Draco reciprocates. Meeting adjourns as they all do. Harry Potter must die.
Draco tries to suppress a chuckle at the thought of Potter in that corner, listening to their prattle. Succeeds. Tries to picture how inane it all must sound to an outsider. Fails. Makes an excuse for why he doesn't simply Disapparate. He wants to talk to Potter. Says he fancies a walk. Blaise wants to join him but Draco gestures towards his father's dead body.
Father-killer. Millicent. Impedimenta.
A walk. The snow sings to them again but Draco isn't paying attention. He's listening to Potter's footfalls, straining against the wind. They reach a dark alley and Draco feels a tug on his cloak's sleeve. A moment later he is in the alley, underneath Potter's Invisibility Cloak.
"You killed your father."
"I did. He would have killed me, were he in my place."
"You can't go back now, Malfoy."
Potter's heart beats a little faster and the air is warmer still. Draco stares at Potter's mouth, watches as he says the name. The "o" at the end is so pink and precious that Draco thinks he might cream his pants right there. Instead, he shifts to make sure Potter can't feel his hard-on.
"Can you explain it to me?"
Draco bites his lip. "Explain what?" No way he's telling Potter about Millicent. She's his and she's safe now. He'd do it again if he had to. For his Millicent. Pansy would do it for him, for her Draco. Slytherin loyalty was not something a Gryffindor could ever understand.
But that's not what Potter wants to know. "Why does he kill people who do something wrong? What about the troops' morale? I mean, you lost the list, big deal."
Draco smiles and it's vicious. He can tell it wounds Potter, but he wouldn't have it any other way. Idealism is a sure way to death, and Potter is not going to die, not on Draco's watch. "No, he lost the list."
He regrets asking Potter to use his first name now. How the fuck is he supposed to concentrate when that mouth is red with a slight flash of teeth as it rounds out the "o"? Malfoy has an "o" at the end, too, but it doesn't look like this and it probably tastes different.
"Draco?" Confusion's little squiggles swimming behind the glasses, green as you please.
"So, killing his own people? His Death Eaters? What sort of politics is that? Makes no sense."
Draco musters all his willpower to form a half-hearted sneer. "Oh, it makes sense. You kill enough of your own and the enemy fears you because you're insane and unpredictable. It's all about fear, Potter."
Draco can see a flicker of tongue in the name before the lips are back.
Green eyes widen. A puff of liquid crystals hangs in the air. "What?"
When you want something done right, do it yourself. Draco does. Noisy breaths. Draco's tongue against those lips - parting, slowly, then a shiver of pleasure as their tongues touch. A muffled moan - Harry's. Draco rests his hands on Harry's hips and pulls back.
They don't talk about the kiss for weeks.
Perhaps they don't because they don't see each other. Blaise is annoyingly enthusiastic and it takes all Draco has to lead him on one wild goose chase after another. Blaise has always been a follower. He follows Draco to pubs on "reconnaissance missions". He follows him to empty houses, darkened windows like hungry mouths drinking the darkness. Blaise drinks Draco's health, wide smile with perfect teeth.
Draco isn't even tempted, and not because Blaise isn't interested. Somewhere, there is Harry with lust in his eyes and Draco's name on his lips. Not a difficult conquest and yet the toughest challenge Draco has ever faced in this sort of game. It gives Draco something to look forward to during pensive watches of the night. It gives him hope. When he passes Millicent on the street one day, Draco feels heavy tears start to fall, or perhaps it's the first spring rain.
Millicent catches up to him a moment later. It's the first embrace they'd ever shared but Draco feels at home. He thinks of his mother; away in Spain somewhere, or maybe Italy. The thought is fleeting, like the snowflakes now dancing around them. The sky had lied; it is not time for spring yet. He pulls back and looks at her dirt-stained face; there are pale trickles from her eyes to the corners of her mouth.
"How did you know?" she asks, her voice reminding him of buried secrets and shared nightmares: treasures, all.
He sees blood in her soul, always - and now she sees blood in his soul. They are the father-killers. Impedimenta.
"That I was going to be here."
"I didn't. I am just going to meet with Blaise."
"You and Blaise are...?"
"He is my new partner." They look at each other, a parcel of understanding heavy on the wind that tears at their cloaks.
"He misses you," she says softly before she leaves.
Draco looks up at the roiling silver sky and thinks of home.
When Draco arrives, Blaise is impatient. "Come on, we have to hurry. I just spoke to Baddock via Floo; they've sighted Potter near Cardiff. All hands on deck."
Draco's heart is still beating out on the street with Millicent.
They Apparate to a small wood next to a bed-and-breakfast that has seen better times. There are probably strips of sticky paper hanging off the ceiling inside, dead flies peppering them for years and a day. A children's swing creaks in the wind nearby: a lament for the lonely. Bellatrix is waiting for them, her eyes like dying embers in a wayward forest fire.
"My lovely nephew. My darling Blaise. Tonight, we will win the war," she says, her voice tinged with single-minded, scorching madness. Draco feels sick. He knows what he must do.
"Not on my watch," he thinks.
"Where is he?" Draco asks, careful to sound urgent and eager. It's not difficult.
Bellatrix shakes out her twisting hair. "He's gone into the wood. We got his sidekick, so he is alone." She nods at something to her right and Draco sees the shock of ginger hair first, then the still body. He takes a few faltering steps and sees the red snow under the late Ron Weasley. It's a sickening pink further out from the body; he must have bled to death.
"The Dark Lord?" asks Draco in a meticulously awed tone.
Bellatrix lets out a short laugh, like a bitch barking. "We are to bring back Potter dead or alive."
Draco nods and turns to Blaise. "Let's go."
He doesn't want to kill Blaise or even hurt him, so he tells him to go that way while Draco goes this way. "If you catch him, bring him to me," he orders. "Potter and I have scores to settle. I will kill him myself."
Blaise nods deferentially. Draco hopes he won't have to kill him. "Goodbye, Aunt Bella," he says softly. Whatever happens tonight, they will not see each other on the same side again. She does not hear him; she's setting off in the opposite direction. Draco trots along a barely visible path, grateful for the nightfall. At least there is no glare to deal with.
He strains to make out lurking shadows between the trees. He cannot call Harry's name; someone might hear him. He cannot do anything but watch, and hope to be seen. A noise from his left - some sort of startled animal. Draco doesn't know what kinds of animals there are in these woods. Darkness falls in deeper layers and Draco begins to despair. What if Bellatrix finds Harry first? She will kill him without a second thought; what does she care about Draco's alleged schoolboy grudges?
A sharp gust of wind sends him stumbling off the path into thick brambles. Draco rests in their shadow for a moment, thinking. Then he knows. He rises, extinguishes his wand light and sucks in a huge lungful of air.
"IMPEDIMENTA!" he bellows. "IMPEDIMENTA! IMPEDIMENTA! IMPEDIMENTA!"
His throat is raw from shouting into the icy wind. He coughs, tastes copper in a brief memory of Flint, collapses onto his knees. This will bring friend or foe or both. Moments pass with no sound but the wind howling in the treetops. His robe's knees are soaked through and he's starting go shiver. "Impedimenta," he croaks. "Where are you?"
"I'm here," says Harry's voice from somewhere just outside his field of vision. "What the hell did you do that for? You'll bring all the Death Eaters and their favourite grandmother."
Draco starts to crawl through the snow, towards that voice. "I don't care," he rasps. "I'll kill them all." He reaches Harry and grabs his outstretched arm. "I'll fucking kill them all." Harry is lying on his stomach behind a clump of bushes that's arranged almost like a corner table - the wind is less forbidding here and it seems warmer, somehow. Draco throws an arm on top of Harry and buries his face in Harry's neck. "For you, I'll kill them all."
"Fuck, Draco, you're burning up," says Harry, his voice like the last string on a violin, about to snap.
Draco laughs, barking like Bellatrix. "Are you joking? I'm fucking freezing."
Harry says something but Draco feels as though it's coming from a distance, so far away, but Harry's right there, why is Harry's voice playing tricks on Draco? Draco is a father-killer but this is a bit much. Draco tries to tell Harry that he doesn't deserve such dirty tricks but he can't hear himself. There is a ringing in his ears and a distant shout of "Impedimenta!" and then it's just too damn dark to see anything, so Draco closes his eyes.
Everything is white and there is something heavy on top of Draco. He turns and hits Harry's forehead.
"Millicent," whispers Draco. "Impedimenta."
Harry's glasses are covered by a thin layer of frost or fog, but Draco can see his brow furrowing in a frown. "Millicent?"
"She saved me," says Draco. There is something soft under his head, soft and coarse, like a cloak. Harry's cloak. Draco's own cloak is open, he realises - Harry has wrapped them both in Draco's cloak. White snow all around them, like a wall. "Did you-" he says, jerking his head to one side.
"I piled some snow around us. Couldn't use magic. I think they're still around."
"Millicent," says Draco. "She saved me." It seems terribly important.
"From my father." It's true, she did. Somewhere far ahead, a red sun rises.
Draco turns quickly to look, to catch that "o" but he's too slow.
"Do you think you can walk? We should find a safe place and Disapparate."
"I'll splinch myself," says Draco matter-of-factly. He may be delirious, but he's not completely crackers.
Harry sighs. "All right, so I'll make a Portkey."
"They'll be able to track it."
Harry gives him a lopsided smile and Draco shuts his eyes. "That's okay. I'll time it just right and they won't be able to follow where we're going."
Draco coughs, then remembers. "Weasley is dead." He feels Harry go stiff on top of him. "There was nothing... he was already dead when we showed up. Pink snow. Impedimenta."
Harry goes limp and suddenly Draco can't breathe. Harry's cheek is pressed close to his and Draco feels something hot and bitter slide against his cheek.
"Ron," chokes Harry, and Draco's mind is pierced with horrible jealousy but he can't breathe. He tries to move but he can't.
Draco sees white but there is no longer a weight on top of him. Ohmygodheleftmeheretodie. He tries to sit up.
"I'm sorry," says Harry's quiet voice. "I should have been more careful. It's just... Ron."
Bile rises to Draco's throat. The "o" is not the same, though. It doesn't sound the same when Harry says Weasley's name. Draco sits up and leans against the snow bank. He's soaking wet and starting to freeze. Harry's holding some sort of glowing stick between his fingers; it's giving off an odd smell - similar to pipe weed, only rancid. Draco watches in fascination as Harry lifts the thing to his mouth, closes his lips around it. His cheeks hollow out for a moment, then he takes a deep breath and exhales smoke that smells even more awful than the stuff coming off the tip of the glow-stick.
"What are you doing? That can't be good for you," Draco says, unable to keep the alarm out of his voice.
Harry gives him a small, sad smile. "It's not, but it helps with the nerves."
Muggle head-doctors and their medicine. Draco shakes his head in disgust and eyes the glow-stick apprehensively. "I'm hungry. My stomach is sticking to my back," he says. "And that smell is making me want to vomit, except I've got nothing to throw up."
"Do you think you'll be able to walk? I don't want to activate the Portkey from here, we need to use it from somewhere else. If they find our hiding spot and detect Portkey activation, they might be able to trace us to the way station."
Draco's head swims briefly. "Way station?"
"It's a place on our Portkey access route. We rely on that route as a safe backup passage and we can't risk it being discovered."
Draco begins to realise just how little he really knows about the other side - his side now - and its movements. He's spent the past months only pretending to be a dealer of death. He scrambles up to his feet using the snow bank for support. Harry watches him from over the top of his glasses, which are once again clear. The wind has died down and the snow's no longer falling. Draco stands. "I'm okay," he says.
Harry rises and gathers his cloak from the ground. He shakes it out and throws it about his shoulders. "Let's go."
They trudge through the snow for fifteen minutes when Draco notices something in the snow to the left of the path. He hobbles over for a closer look and realises it's a person - cloak, boots, Death Eater hood. The hood isn't fully attached; it's splayed out on the ground behind the person, seeming like a grotesque extension of the head. Harry walks up to Draco and stares down at the Death Eater. He crouches down and turns him over.
Draco's heart clenches and he wants to howl. Blaise's face is frozen in a look of abject terror. "I know that face," says Draco. "He used to drink my health and laugh at my jokes. He chased Millicent's cat around the common room and pulled on Pansy's braid when we were firsties. I hexed him for that; he had boils on his arse for a month."
The memories are too much and Draco feels his stomach and chest clench so tightly he thinks he's going to burst, but instead he dry-heaves - over and over until he doesn't think he can stop it and there isn't any air.
"This is war. We haven't got time to cry for those who are lost," says Draco's favourite man-voice from somewhere behind him. The realisation of who it is startles him so much that the dry heaves stop and he's able to breathe again. He turns around and there she is, cloak bundled tightly around her, wand at the ready.
"I wasn't crying. I was trying to throw up," he points out, feeling light-headed.
Millicent fishes a small package out of her pocket, pulls a thin white stick out of it and jams it in her mouth. "Incendio," she mutters around it, holding her wand tip close to the stick. It flares briefly then starts to glow bright orange, smoke curling into the white sky.
"Et tu, Brute?" mutters Draco.
Millicent grins and takes the glow-stick out of her mouth. Spits on the ground from between her teeth. "You done here? Because you both look like wet rats and there are still Death Eaters about."
"How did you find us?" asks Harry. His voice startles Draco and he turns around to look. Harry's cheeks are bright red on his pale face; he must be running a fever.
Millicent spits again, and puts the glow-stick back in her mouth. "Moody said if you're not back by morning to go and look for you." Her features darken as she puffs on the glow-stick and expels a stream of smoke through her nostrils. "You know about Ron?"
All colour drains from Harry's face. "Draco told me."
"I tracked Draco from there. There wasn't much snow overnight and I could still see tracks. He's got a bad leg from that Quidditch injury in sixth year, remember?"
Draco winces. That was the most ignominious fall he'd ever taken off a broomstick. Madam Pomfrey huffed and puffed but she couldn't mend it perfectly; the bone was smashed to little pieces and some were still lodged in his leg. He did have a bit of a limp because of it. His heart is suddenly in his throat. "Theodore will know about that, too. We need to get the hell out of here," he says.
Harry takes several steps closer to him. "I've got the Portkey, but what about tracks?"
Millicent puffs on her glow-stick for a few moments, her eyebrows knotted in concentration. "Here's what we'll do. I'll levitate the stiff and you'll activate the Portkey from where he is right now. Once you're gone, I'll put him back down, clean up and Disapparate to the Wales warehouse. I'll cover my tracks from there."
"Works," says Harry. "C'mon."
The Portkey makes Draco pass out somewhere between the jerk behind his navel and their final destination.
He can't see anything and it's taking his eyes a while to adjust. He is in a bed, or at least what he thinks is a bed, beneath a thick warm coverlet. There is a stale smell of those glow-sticks lurking in the air. He can hear voices from beyond a wall on his left. A celebration.
"Impedimenta, " whispers Draco into the darkness.
"SHIT!" exclaims someone on Draco's right. "You scared me." Harry.
"What happened to Gryffindor courage?"
"Courage is not when you never get scared. That's insanity."
Draco sits up. "What's courage, then?"
Silence. Then: "What you did back there. Shouting. That was brave."
Draco shakes his head, amused. "I'm not brave. I'm crafty. Do you know the Muggle study of economics?"
"Er, no. I only went to Muggle school until I was eleven; they don't study economics so young."
"Well, wizards invented economics. Salazar Slytherin was the one who came up with the concept of cost-benefit analysis. He had a diary, you see. The pages from this diary have been scattered all over the world. Some French bloke found the one on cost-benefit analysis, about a thousand years after Salazar wrote it. The Frenchman immediately applied it to economics, but Salazar had applied it to people and not money. Or, rather, he applied it to power. Which rests with the people, ultimately."
"You know what else he said?"
Exasperated-sounding sigh. "What?"
"As long as there is power, people will fight for it."
He can practically see that "o" formed by Harry's lips, and it's more of an "oh", like a moan, pleading. "Yeah?" His voice is thick suddenly, and he no longer feels the dull ache in his temples, because he can hear and feel Harry moving closer. A warm hand covers his, then there is a pleasant weight on his legs, pleasant because it's Harry.
Draco does, and it doesn't matter that Harry tastes like those awful glow-sticks; if they're so good for the nerves maybe Draco will start using them too and then they will both smell terrible and it won't matter. Draco's tongue fucks Harry's mouth until Harry is rocking back and forth on top of him and Draco is dizzy from the effort of thrusting to match Harry's movements. Harry's hands are everywhere; searing heat everywhere he touches, a frenzy of movement until-
Draco grabs Harry around the waist and pulls him close, forcing him to stop moving. Harry moans into his mouth and breaks the kiss. "What?" He sounds vaguely irritated and it makes Draco ridiculously happy because it's such a bloody normal thing, like the wizarding world isn't at war and he's just being a wanker on purpose and tomorrow, they'll go and sit in the Leaky Cauldron and work on the same goddamned crossword puzzle all day.
Draco bites his lip and tightens his arms around Harry. "I don't want our first time to be rutting against each other like crazed llamas on Hubertus's Happy Powder."
"Draco," groans Harry and licks his neck.
Draco's cock tells him to just let Harry do whatever, but Draco ignores it. "This is not what I want to remember," he whispers carefully into Harry's ear, and Harry stops struggling. Draco's eyes have adjusted to the darkness now and he can see the outline of Harry's face right in front of him.
"What do you want to remember?"
"Do you remember when you brought back Pansy?"
"Yeah. Took a hoof in the chest, those centaurs were-"
"Shhh. Remember what I told you then?"
The answer is like quicksilver. "That you forgive me."
Draco lifts a hand and traces Harry's jawline with his finger. Light touching. "That's how I want to remember. Like you remember that day. Like I remember it."
"You're not making any sense."
"That's because you're thinking with your cock."
Harry laughs. "What's your point?"
"You'll understand. Just trust me."
Harry laughs again, shaking his head a bit. He climbs off Draco and settles on the bed next to him. "Okay."
ARTEFACT: Page from private diary of Salazar Slytherin
DATE: unknown, ca. 984 A.D. [UNCONFIRMED]
CLEARANCE [PLEASE PRINT CLEARLY]
Department of Mysteries clearance granted to Draco Lucius Black, Deputy Minister of International Relations, Order of Merlin, First Class. Release signed Harry James Potter, Head Unspeakable, Order of Merlin, First Class; witnessed Hermione Jane Granger-Lovegood, Minister for Magic.
Copy authorisation granted in accordance with subsection 16b, paragraph 3c of the Decree of Preservation and Dissemination of Magical Historical Records [see also subsection 56j of paragraph 8p of same Decree for further restrictions]
Date released: June 22, 2005
Releasing agent's codename: CARBONISED
Godric said something interesting today and I got to thinking. This is what he said: "the death of one person is a tragedy. The deaths of thousands, a statistic." Sometimes when you save someone else's life, you also save your own, thereby preventing two tragedies at once.
And sometimes you can set off a chain reaction of saving lives and preventing tragedies by a single act of courage. What is courage? Godric and I never see eye to eye on this. Here is what I think.
Courage is not about fearing nothing, nor is a respectable man fearless. The respectable man at his most courageous is the man who makes peace with his enemies. The ultimate act of courage is to trust because you want to, not because you can.