Jo took in the Professor’s directions easily enough. In theory, getting rid of a Boggart wasn’t extraordinarily difficult—laughter in itself wasn’t difficult to produce, even if her idea of what might be funny didn’t seemed like it lined up with others (if Nando’s ideas of what constituted humor were anything to go by). Laughing in the face of fear though…that might take a few tries to get right. She thought it might be best to prepare herself, practice a bit before the real deal. She wondered what was she afraid of.
Her first thought was death, of course. Who wasn’t afraid of their own mortality? Of leaving before they were done with their life, of leaving something behind? It seemed plausible that she might be met with her own corpse when it was her turn to try. How could she make her own corpse funny enough to laugh at? Put a funny hat on it? Make it do a flip? Maybe turn it into someone else? She finally settled, if the Boggart turned into a dead Jo, on forcing it into a brutally fast-paced jig followed by a series of bumbling gymnastics that was sure to leave the Boggart tangled in knots. That was funny, right? People laughed when people got hurt? Right?
But as she stood next to her assigned older student and watched the professor’s demonstration, doubt made her second-guess herself. Was she afraid of death? Or maybe a better question: was death the thing she was most afraid of?
Time was ticking down as they moved up the line towards the Boggart. If not death, then what? Being alone? Being trapped? Being hurt? Being chased? She was afraid of all of those things, but none significantly more so than another. Was there something wrong with her? Did she not have anything she significantly feared?
She kept trying: spiders or bugs? No. Puppets or dolls or mannequins moving on their own? Not particularly. Big animals, maybe even dark creatures? She was a Beastly, it wasn’t in her to fear the thing that made her mother’s line famous. Heights, falls, small spaces? Being watched, being alone, being forgotten? Why was this suddenly so difficult?
She mulled over everything she could think of, and again and again, came up short. Sure, a lot of things were frightening…but nothing took some kind of crazy lead over anything else. For a moment, Jo was forced to come to the uncomfortable conclusion that…she might not be afraid of anything.
A few pairs of students ahead of her she could hear Nando shouting “Shrek,” over and over again, and she shuddered to imagine what kind of buffoonery was taking place up there. Although, she supposed, that was the point of this particular exercise. Advantage Nando, this time. Ooh, she hated when it was advantage Nando.
…Should she turn her Boggart into Nando?
No, that wouldn’t do. He might get upset with her if she laughed at him, and for some reason, she didn’t want that to happen.
She looked up at her partner, wondering what they were thinking. Should they come up with some kind of plan together? Did they have some kind of idea as to what their fear was, or were they as clueless as she was? Should they come up with some kind of plan of attack? Well, it wouldn’t do for them to just amble up to the Boggart like everyone else appeared to be doing and make themselves look like morons. Might as well try to keep from looking like a complete idiot, and that meant they needed a strategy. She took matters into her own hands.
“I’m Jo,” she said. “What are you afraid of?”