(1937-09-27) Midnight Melancholy
Details for Midnight Melancholy
Summary: Phae and Ophelia have been avoiding each other, but a chance midnight meeting leads to a flood of teenage angst.
Date: 27 September, 1937
Location: Ravenclaw Girl's Tower
Related: In the Closet

Four minutes to midnight, and the castle is quiet as the grave. Up in the Ravenclaw tower, there is a stirring, however. Unable to sleep, Hephaesta tugged on a cotton robe over her shift and came down to the common room where she wouldn't disturb the other Fourth Year girls. In pitch darkness, she uses her Site-Rite Goggles to see as she tinkers. Her lame leg is bared, and extended along the lounge where she sits. Her clockwork leg brace is off and in her lap, where she makes some adjustments with her tools, working in near complete silence.

Hepaesta is not the only restless Ravenclaw this night. Ophelia stumbles stiffly down the stairs a scant few minutes later. She's dressed in a pale pink nightgown, which she has paired with old checked pajama pants and a faded housecoat, her hair mussed from tossing and turning in an attempt to find sleep. Pulling at some of the tangled locks with her fingers, she reaches for her wand and sleepily mutters, "Lumos."

Hephaesta lets out a squeak at the sudden light, frantically pulling the goggles from her head. Momentarily blinded, she squints, peering in the general direction of the light. "S-sorry…did I wake you?" She whispers to the near-empty room.

Ophelia jumps back, nearly dropping her wand. "Who- what? He… Hephaesta?" Reaching up, she clutches the lapels of her housecoat over her heart, working to control her adrenaline-fed heartbeat with a few slow breaths. "No, no I just… I couldn't sleep. Should… " Trailing off, she bites her lower lip and looks around for something, anything to do or say that would be right.

That voice…Ophelia! Phae's own heart skips a beat, her throat already going dry. She'd been avoiding the pretty ginger ever since Ophelia had discovered (to Phae's surprise, even) that Phae had a crush on her. But, of course, Ophelia was beyond her reach, having become an item with Hephaesta's own cousin, Kaiden. Phae swallows, wetting her lips and grasping for words as much as Ophelia. "I…couldn't sleep either." As her vision clears, she suddenly becomes aware of her malformed leg poking out of her nightclothes in plain sight. Horrified and embarrassed, she quickly moves to pull her robes over it, struggling as the fabric is bunched underneath her.

Ophelia glances up, frowning curiously, then away again. She takes a single step forward, then another, haltingly moving toward the lounge. "May I ask what happened?" She gestures, a tiny motion of her hand, in the direction of the braced leg, her eyes now on the fireplace. She's certain she probably shouldn't be asking. But considering the alternatives for conversation, she's thinking it might be the preferable choice.

With an almost panicked grunt, Hephaesta finally manages to get the twisted leg covered. Her cheeks are flushed red, and her eyes downcast. "I was…born that way," she mumbles softly, as she reaches for a tool that fell from her lap in her frantic struggle to cover her infirmity.

Ophelia pauses to process the information, her face kept carefully neutral. After a moment she just nods, accepting it as well as she can. "Did you make the brace?" Hopefully, maybe, that will be easier to talk about. Once more she resumes her walk, continuing to the fireplace where she releases the light spell and starts working to reheat the embers.

Hephaesta swallows, trying to find the courage to say something…anything. Why is she talking like nothing happened? "M-my father made it. I just…I've modified it. I mean, we modified it. Together." As the embers start to brighten and cast an orange glow on Ophelia's face, Phae could just melt. "I love you." Before she can stop herself, it's out. Those fateful words would not stay confined in her mind.

Ophelia barely moves at first, except to close her eyes. Then she swallows and turns facing her friend She steps forward, her hands reaching toward Phae, but is unable to move any farther and drops her hands again. "Oh, Heph. I… I love you too." Her face gets that pinched look of someone about to cry as she hurries on, "I mean, I do, I just don't understand what sort it is, and I don't know what to do. I just… I don't want to hurt anyone. And I don't want to lose you."

Hephaesta wants to turn away. Looking at that beautiful face and hearing those words is unbearable. But she can't. Painful as it is, she is entranced. "I'm sorry," she whispers. "I shouldn't have said that." Even though it's true…or as true as it can be to a confused fourteen-year-old.

"No." Ophelia finally makes herself move forward, an idea occurring to her suddenly, and drops down on the floor in front of the lounge. "No, you really should have. I mean… in all the stories when something like this happens, things fall apart and everyone dies because they don't talk about it, right? Maybe talking about it is what we're supposed to do." Or maybe it will just make them all explode. She's no expert on matters of the heart.

Thump, thump, thump-thump-thumpthumpthump…Phae's heart beats faster as Ophelia draws nearer. "S-stories? I don't know." She can't seem to recall any stories about a young witch in love with another young witch. "But…we can talk." Anything you want. Just stay.

Ophelia offers up a tiny little smile. "Thank you." Of course, that means she now has to think of something to say. Brilliant. "I really… want to stay friends with you, Hephaesta." She frowns, frustrated, "You've meant so much to me. And the thought of losing you, or making you unhappy in any way, I can still hardly bear to even think about it. And I can't even imagine how much harder it must be for you. Ajax doesn't really talk about that sort of thing with me, so I don't have much to go on… "

Hephaesta's eyes drift down below Ophelia's neckline, following the silver chain to the little winged clockwork heart hanging there. "You said…if I'd said something sooner, that maybe…that we might…" What? It's awfully hard to make a case for something that remains such a mystery to oneself. "Shouldn't….I mean…doesn't that mean that you feel…more? Like how I feel?"

"It means… " Ophelia shifts, pulling one knee up and hugging it to her chest, "That I would probably have given you the same… chance I gave Kaiden. Before all this, last year, I thought you were both amazing. He was gorgeous, and to be nice to people like me while living in a family like the Sykes meant he has bravery in him. And you were so pretty too, the way I've always wished I was. And so brilliant. The things you can make." She reaches up, touching a finger to the heart. "Its like you talk to the machines, and they just become whatever you want them to be."

Hephaesta bites her lip when Ophelia touches the heart. She didn't know it at the time, but she had poured so much of what she was feeling into that little collection of gears and springs. "But…" No, Phae hears her own arguments before she says them out loud. Even she is beginning to see how petty it must sound to try to talk someone into breaking up with the boy they'd pined over for a silly girl like her. She lowers her head, trying not to show just how miserable she feels…and failing badly.

Ophelia glances up, trying that tiny smile once more. "But he's lazy? I've been picking up on that, its how everyone seems to see him." She lifts her shoulders in a small shrug, "Perhaps he is. For now. And perhaps he'll change his mind about me. Or perhaps I'll change my mind about him. I really don't know the rules for this. And like I said, I still don't know exactly how I feel about you, or about him. I didn't even expect anyone to be so interested in me except as a potential tutor. But… but it can't be right, making you sit there and wait for perhaps."

Hephaesta lifts her gaze again, with visible effort. Her pouty lips half half open in an expression of confusion. "You shouldn't be surprised," she says quietly. "Everything about you is amazing. S'no wonder everyone wants to be with you." She inhales deeply, trying to fight the tightening knot in her stomach. "If you want me to stop…I just won't say anything about it anymore. I…I hate making you upset." For a brief moment, her hand moves as if to reach toward Ophelia, but she quickly retracts it, tucking it back into her lap.

Ophelia shakes her head. "I don't mean it like that. I mean… " She sighs. "I just… well, its true, all of it. But- and please don't misunderstand, its just… well it doesn't change… where things stand." She looks up, her eyes pleading Hephaesta to understand, not to be hurt even further by this, "Perhaps we could have been more. But we can't, not now. Not without hurting someone else. And I don't want to make things worse for you by making you think we can."

Until now, there was hope. Until those words, it had never been so clearly stated, and it is too much for Phae. The tears come without warning, her face twisting with sudden hurt. She pushes herself up, letting her tools and leg brace tumble to the floor. Leaning against the lounge, and whatever furniture she can get her hands on, she limps in obvious physical pain toward the stairs to the Girls' Dormitory, stumbling frequently.

"Nononono… " Ophelia scrambles to her feet, her arms reaching out to grab at Hephaesta from behind, "Don't run away again, please don't run away!"

Hephaesta doesn't get far. Walking on a leg that's weak and twisted the wrong way won't with any marathons. So she's in no position to resist Ophelia when grabbed. She just stops, sobbing helplessly, leaned up against the back of a chair. "I…I c-can't…it's…s'not fair…I just can't…"

The sobbing just makes Ophelia hold on tighter. "I know it isn't!" Moving more quickly now, she steps around Hephaesta so she can hug her tightly, her own tears falling onto both of their robes, "It's horrible and awful, and if we aren't careful it will ruin everything! But don't run away. I'll do anything, just don't run away from me."

Sorrow so easily turns to frustration when it has no release. Hephaesta pounds a fist into the back of the chair, her voice rising (and threatening to wake other Ravenclaws). "I deserve the same chance he got! I d-deserve it more! Because he doesn't deserve you! He has to ch-change to be your boyfriend…but what about me? I…I work a hundred times harder than him every day of my life! But he gets to have you because he promises to finally give a-…" She cuts off, catching herself almost cursing. Even in despair, there are some things Phae can't bring herself to say.

Ophelia's eyes remain closed tightly. The tears still find a way to leak out, though. "He gets to be my boyfriend because he asked." She explains softly. "And I never asked him to change. Nor will I ever ask you to. You're both amazing people to me. If I knew how, I would… I would love you both. But I don't think it works that way." She's nearly ready to try at this point though, even though she thinks it might break her in two.

"That's it? Because he asked?" Phae just shakes her head, as if denying the painful reality will make it go away. "Let me go…please," she moves as if trying to make for the stairs again, but doesn't struggle hard.

"No." Ophelia's hands take some time in falling away from Hephaesta. "No, that's not it. But he did. Before I knew… any of this." Hands at her sides now, she steps back to give the other girl space, asking with her head hung in defeat, "Just tell me. Tell me what to do. Please… "

By now, stirrings can be heard from the dormitories, as Phae's hysterics have surely awakened a few other students.

Hephaesta takes a shuddering breath, momentarily disarmed by Ophelia's plea. "You won't do w-what I want you to. So…I just…I just want to be alone." She starts toward the stairs again, biting her lip to stifle the cry of pain each step on her left foot brings.

Ophelia slowly nods, whispering. "Alright then. Go. I won't… I won't stop you." She turns away, going back to the fireplace, where she curls up quietly on the floor before the hearth and stares into the embers, her eyes dark with pain and a slowly growing anger.

After climbing a few stairs, Phae risks a look over at Ophelia. She gives a whispered, "I'm sorry," before continuing her difficult ascent. When she finally makes it to her bed (ignoring questions and complaints from awakened students), she collapses on top of her covers and whimpers quietly into her pillow until exhaustion overtakes her.

Ophelia stays on the floor for hours, just staring at the fire. She barely moves until the light begins to change outside, she shifting of the shadows calling her attention to the time. Then she too makes her way to her bed (ignoring herself the earliest of risers who are surprised to see her up before them), pulling the curtains tight and remaining there, even after classes have begun for the day.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License