(1937-09-25) In the Closet
Details for In the Closet
Summary: Hephaesta inexplicably flees the Great Hall on the verge of tears. Ophelia and Llewellyn follow to check on her, only to find her shut away in a broom closet.
Date: 25 September, 1937
Location: Great Hall and a closet

In her sudden departure from the Great Hall, Hephaesta managed to move rather quickly for a girl with a twisted leg. But it soon becomes evident that she didn't go far. Muffled sobs and sniffles can be heard from the broom closet off of the Hogwarts entry hall.

Oh, there she is. Llewellyn breaks into a flat-out run as soon as he hears the sound, not even waiting to fully catch up before he calls out to Hephaesta. "I'm sorry, I should have talked to you sooner about— look, I didn't think, all right?"

Ophelia is pushing her way through the doors as Llewellyn speaks, breaking into a run of her own as soon as she's able. She quickly catches up with the Slytherin, frowning and gesturing to the door, "Is… is that Hephaesta? Did I miss something?"

In the closet, Hephaesta's tears choke off for a moment, as a voice penetrates through the door. Is that Llewellyn? Through another few sobs, she manages to croak out a soft, "Please…l-leave me alone…"

Oh, Salazar Slytherin's pet newt! Llewellyn sighs, moving over to a nearby stretch of wall and leaning against it, burying his face against crossed arms. "We had an agreement," he half-explains, "and I thought it would be all right but— I didn't think she—" Well, whatever he's trying and failing to get at, clearly it's turning his brain upside down and giving it a good shake. And this is a boy who not two minutes ago found himself with a handful of dancing dead chicken leg, too.

Ophelia bites her lip, her eyes filling with the threat of tears. She reaches out, placing a hand on the door, and looks to Llewellyn. "What deal? What did you DO?" Anger quickly replaces fear, though tears still wobble dangerously at the corners of her eyes.

When Hephaesta hears Ophelia's voice at last, a whole new panic takes over. The crying stops suddenly, and from the darkened room she watches the shadows under the door. She remains dead silent, fearful that Ophelia's apparent anger may also be directed at her.

"We said…" Llewellyn turns back around, slowly sinking down into a sitting position on the floor, in keeping with his mental state. "We agreed. That if we didn't have anyone else to go with —" Abruptly, he looks up again, gesturing wildly with his arms. "But it's still /weeks/ away! And I mean, if I can find someone, then she should have no problem —"

Ophelia frowns. "What… what?" Anger fading almost as fast as it had risen, she switches from angry glare to puzzled frown. "I don't understand. You think… she doesn't want to go to the dance with you? Hephaesta?" Looking once more at the door, she taps the surface gently, "Is this because of the dance?"

Hephaesta is on the spot…and clams up. What can she say? Everything is so confusing. Nothing makes sense, but everything hurts. Why does she feel like this? Is she sick? Is she losing her mind like her grandfather? Being a teenager can really suck sometimes.

Rant evaporating as quickly as it materialized, Llewellyn slumps again, shaking his head. "I think she does want to go. Or did. I'm sorry!" he repeats, turning back toward the closet door now. "I didn't realize— I should have, but—"

Beyond confused now, Ophelia shakes her head at Llewellyn. "I don't understand." She repeats. "Did you find someone else to go with? Does she want to go with someone else? Hephaesta." Again, she taps on the door, "Please, come and talk to us. Just tell us what we can do, I promise we'll try to help!"

Hephaesta sniffles, and finally speaks, her voice muffled by the door. "I don't want to go the stupid dance. I just…I…I can't believe you're going steady with Kaiden!" At that, the sniffles start to escalate into sobs again.

Wait. What? Llewellyn hops up to his feet and turns back toward the door, running the fingers of one hand through his hair. "Oh! I completely misunderstood, I—" Well, he knows Kaiden, but he has no idea why Hephaesta would care about him - or why Ophelia would, for that matter - so he merely shrugs and leaves off, turning to the redhead in hopes that she can jump back in and unsnarl things.

What!? Ophelia gapes at the door. "Wha- you… what? But why?" She gives Llewellyn a completely lost look. "What's wrong with him, Hephaesta? Did he do something to you? Did he say something? Tell me, please. I won't stand for it, if he did. But you have to tell me."

"Nooo…" Phae admits reluctantly. "He just…he's stupid and lazy, and he doesn't deserve you." Sniffle. "And now you're going to spend all of your time with him and you'll forget about me."

"No one's going to forget about you, Phae," Llewellyn chimes in, now that he's at least got the vague outlines of a picture drawn. "How can we? You're the only girl in the school whose glasses are bigger than her head!" He says nothing to contradict her statements about Kaiden, though. The boy hasn't completely forgotten the time when his thoughts were kind of hung up on the ginger.

There's another pause from Ophelia, who stares blankly at the door. And then she snorts, giving Llewellyn a 'seriously?' look. "Have you gone daft? Have you any idea how important you are to me? I never in a million years thought I could have two best friends. Why on earth would I do something as idiotic as forget about you?" She reaches for the door handle, giving it an experimental tug, "And he's right. Not about the glasses part. But you're brilliant. Only a complete imbecile would forget you."

Hephaesta squints against the light as the door opens. She is sitting against the wall inside the broom closet, much like Llewellyn outside, but her braced leg is extended straight out, her other knee propped up. She looks miserable, her tear-stained face tightened up in angst. But she makes the effort to look up at Ophelia, and her mouth turns down in an embarrassed frown. "I'm sorry, Ophelia." Her voice is barely a whisper.

Llewellyn moves in from the other side at about the same time, shoulder pressed against the side of the door as the door opens. "Hey. Hey. I don't really know what's going on with any of this" - now it's been established that his previous thoughts were haring off in completely the wrong direction - "but I know you two have both got a good head on your shoulders. You'll be all right, right?" Read, is it okay if he bogs off now to go make his other apology that needs making?

Ophelia nods absently to Llewellyn, her eyes remaining on Hephaesta. "Yes, I think so." She steps into the closet slowly, dropping down onto her knees as soon as she's close enough, and throws her arms around her friend. "Don't be sorry." She murmurs, "Don't /ever/ be sorry for wanting to be my friend."

Hephaesta gives Llewellyn a noncommittal shrug. That's probably as much as one can expect from the distraught fourteen-year-old. She leans into the hug from Ophelia, so much of her tension draining at her friend's embrace. Her arms work around to cling tightly to Ophelia's back. She mumbles pitifully against the other girl's shoulder, "So you're still gonna go out with Kaiden?"

"Should… should I not? Do you really not want me to?" Ophelia pulls back just enough to peer into Hephaesta's eyes. "If you're worried I'll spend all my time with him, don't. All we're doing right now is studying anyway, and just once a week. Really." She sighs, grinning crookedly. "Seriously, someone must have put some kind of glamour on me when I wasn't looking."

Hephaesta looks up at Ophelia with a kind of awe and wonderment. "You don't need a glamour," she says meekly. "You're b-beautiful…and amazing." She swallows hard. "It's no wonder everyone w-wants to be around you. You're just…perfect."

Ophelia blinks. And blushes. "H-Hephaesta." She protests with a weak laugh, "I'm really not. I go around without shoes and my hair practically refuses to let itself be styled properly and I've spent so much time thinking about wands that I dont even know how to dance or grow anything that can live longer than a day. And I'm afraid to fly."

Hephaesta shrugs and sniffles. "That doesn't matter. It's who you are, and you're perfect…to me," she insists quietly. Her gaze drops abashedly, and slumps back against the wall. "I just want us to be friends. It…it hurts when you're not around. And when I think of you and Kaiden…" Her face tightens again, and she glances away.

Ophelia listens, her lips parting slightly as she begins to guess at what she's hearing. "Heph… you don't… maybe… wish I would go to the dance with you, instead of with Kaiden? Do you?" She watches her friend, wary, as she shifts again to sit more comfortably.

Hephaesta freezes. Still staring away, her eyes gradually widen to saucers. Her heart starts to beat faster, and suddenly she's finding that her breath is getting away from her. Ever so slowly, she turns her gaze toward Ophelia, her face painted in bewilderment and dread. "I…" her voice croaks, her throat dry. She swallows, wetting her lips. "I don't…" Her mind reels at the suggestion. But despite the miasma of confusion, it is as if a candle were suddenly lit in the darkness. If she could just get close enough to see what it illuminated.

Ophelia, after watching the changes in her friend's face for a moment, manages a small, sad smile. "I'm so sorry I didn't realize sooner, I never would have thought… " She reaches across to carefully take one of Hephaesta's hands in hers. "Maybe… if its alright, you should talk to Ajax? He might be able to help you figure some of it out."

Hephaesta the touch is like electricity to Hephaesta. Suddenly, Ophelia has transformed from her dear friend into a mysterious, alluring creature that has caught Phae in her spell. "A-Ajax? Wh-…why would I need to talk to him?"

Ophelia looks to one side, eyeing the brooms thoughtfully. "Well. You, ah, ever see him in the same room with Theodore Dupont? Ever notice how he tends to miss entire conversations because he's usually too busy staring?" She squeezes Phae's hand, one of her favorite comforting gestures.

Hephaesta stares blankly for a moment, then shakes her head.

Ophelia chuckles softly. "Well he does. And I'm betting that right about now he's wishing he knew a way to get Theodore to go do the dance with him." Her smile fades a little, her eyes somber as she continues to think about all these new implications.

"Oh." Phae finds that a sobering thought. She dares to squeeze Ophelia's hand back, which just sends her heart thumping again. "So…he likes a boy…and…" …and I like you. The revelation still has her spinning, but there is a comfort in it, also. But there is one shadow that looms over all of it. "Kaiden…you like Kaiden. Not me."

Ophelia sighs, the breath coming out very slowly. "I don't… I don't think its that simple." She murmurs, "If I had known about this? Before he decided to show an interest? Well, like I said you are brilliant. And, I'll admit, pretty fantastically pretty yourself." She pulls in a deep breath. "But I /do/ like him. And I don't want to hurt him. Or you." Her head begins to shake, the confusion becoming too much.

She's up, then she's down. Being called brilliant and pretty by Ophelia sends Phae soaring to the clouds…but the acknowledgement that she was simply too late brings her crashing to the ground. She swallows, her heart catching in her throat. "It's…it's okay," she whispers, her voice cracking as she barely restrains another torrent of tears. "I don't want to hurt you. You…you want Kaiden. I just…I won't bother you about it anymore." Suddenly, the closet feels like it's closing in on her. This is too small a space to hide away in any more — it's too hard to breath. With a grunt, she starts to push herself up to her feet, bracing her back against the wall.

Ophelia releases Phae's hand and quickly stands as well, giving her friend (Is she still allowed to call her that?) room to get herself up. "Don't… " She reaches up, then pulls back again, fear and uncertainty warring for dominance in her eyes, "Just don't stay away. Please? Don't stop being my friend?" The last part is whisper soft.

Hephaesta gives Ophelia the same look: full of fear and uncertainty. Her eyes shimmer with apology. "I can't…watch you with him." Her tone sounds more like pleading than explanation, and her hand goes to her stomach, as if trying to comfort a physical pain. "It hurts." The closet walls loom, threatening to trap her forever. She hurriedly limps out, pausing briefly once she has escaped the little chamber to take a breath. She looks back with a face heavy with intent, and starts to say: "I…" Her tongue goes to make a L sound, but her lips won't say the rest. Because how can she know that, when fifteen minutes ago she didn't even understand why she was upset? Crestfallen, she continues on to make the slow climb up the grand stairway.

This time, Ophelia doesn't follow. She's doing all she can to stand, making her legs move as well would be impossible. So she just stares, unmoving, the tears finally welling over and spilling down her face. When she is able to move, she still doesn't pursue Hephaesta. Instead she reaches out for the door handle and slowly pulls it shut, closing herself inside. The broom closet, it seems, is a good place to have a cry today.

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