"What would they think of me?"
It was something Skull thought to himself many, many times.
He was part of the Strongest Seven, had been for decades now. Decades they had believed they knew him.
Weak, they called him with sneers and smirks. Pathetic. Fool. Lackey. Stupid. That civilian child who had no place among them.
Skull scoffed to himself, his face twisted into something part mocking, part anger, with slivers of hurt and a sadness that would never truly leave him. Honestly, he was so tired.
They had looked to him from almost the moment he was born, had called on him as their 'knight' the 'fix-all' solution to their problems. He had needed to be strong, to stand at the front, to lead and protect and be their Chosen One for all things. He was expected to fight and bleed and die while they hid and cowared in their homes. Ignorant sheep the lot of them. Incapable of standing up for themselves.
It was too much, much too soon.
He had won their war, and they wanted so much more from him, wanted and wanted and wanted. He dealt with the symptoms, not the cause and they were all too willing to go back to how it had been before and he hated that.
Skull was fed up, done with it all, he had enough. He left it all behind him. He left word with his people, with those who had the same sleepless nights and helpless rage at the Wizarding World as he did. He left with an apology and well wishes but he still left.
It was time for him to live for himself.
Not for his friends, not for his dead family, not for the people who looked at him and saw their Savior, not for Dumbledore's plans, not for anyone but himself. He wished as a child before Hogwarts to be someone else, someone different and now he was making that wish again. He was an adult now, he could do as he pleased. He could be anyone he wanted to be.
Especially someone Not Harry.
So he chose in remembrance and as a warning and became and still was Skull De Mort- always a reminder of what he had walked away from and his victory against Tom Riddle- Voldemort. Against what the Wizarding World had allowed an orphaned magical child to become.
In a feat worthy of the infamous Potter Luck, he had stumbled upon stunt riding by accident. A circus with a sideshow of stunt drivers arrived in one of the towns he had been staying in.
Skull still remembered sitting in the crowd, his heart in his mouth, watching as the rider rode a motorcycle up a ramp while in a handstand- one hand on the seat the other gripping the handlebars- and the jump. Skull remembered the seemingly endless moment the rider was in the air, the moment Skull had thought for an instant- He's not going to make it- remembered holding his breath and then he remembered the landing and the great exhale he had released with the crowd.
Skull had been so…
He didn't really have words for it. The second Blood War had hardened him. Pieces and parts of him had been scraped out, broken and hollowed. He had…too many scars, too many responsibilities, all on top of the pressure from them, the expectations that he needed to just keep going, that it was his duty which meant he was never truly given an opportunity to heal as he should have…
Skull was a soldier. He was a child soldier who had staggered through the aftermath of a war with all the other child soldiers- schoolchildren- all the while still being expected to be General even long after he should have been done.
Leaving had helped.
When he had found the lights and noise of the stunt show, initially it had been a distraction. A passing thing, something that had reminded him of happier times- when Sirius had been alive and the two of them had slipped away with no one the wiser and Sirius had taught him to ride motorcycles- something to look at and move on.
He hadn't expected to feel a small spark of interest- the first spark of genuine interest he had felt in years that didn't involve the need to survive. It reminded him of when he first climbed on a broom and took to the skies.
Skull had pursued it and that spark slowly grew.
He went from waking up in the morning with bloody images and dark memories of the war, of screams in his ears, of pleas he hadn't been able to answer echoing in his mind, of the raging agony of the torture he had lived through throbbing like a phantom pain all the time to waking up still suffering from these things, but he had something to look forward too now. It wasn't all consuming. There was a growing space where he could breathe.
There was light in his darkness for the first time.
Skull wondered sometimes if that had something to do with his love for freedom. The freedom to jump and soar with death hovering close by, as it had always been in his life.
It could have been anything.
Regardless, whatever had sparked that interest that day, whatever had shown him a flicker of light in shadows and pain, that was the beginning of a new life.
This had been a chance to be not Harry, to be a stuntman, and this chance offered him the glimpse of light at the end of the road.
And so Skull De Mort the Immortal Stuntman was born. The man who Death himself hated. That had a grain of truth in it, but one that no one would believe.
He was new to this world of amusements and glittering light. He was learning still, not yet the best, not yet aware of what danger he would one day bring to his door. For once, this would come from what he was and not from what others saw him as. Still, the danger and adventure would call and even if he didn't quite know what he would one day walk into, not yet, he couldn't help but accept.
In this moment in time, Skull watched the Arcobaleno walking ahead of him, beginning to grow again now that the Curse held no hold over them. He couldn't help the sliver of fear and uneasy curiosity and he wondered…if they knew what he had done, what he had lived through….
"What would they think of me?