(1937-10-03) Love Hopes
Details for Love Hopes
Summary: After talking to Kaiden and spending some time recovering in her room, Ophelia seeks Hephaesta out to share the news of the change between herself and Kaiden, and to see if there is really hope for herself and the inventor…
Date: October 3, 1937
Location: Club Room, Hogwarts
Related: Love Hurts

Hephaesta has been working in the club room all through the afternoon and into the early evening. So focused is she on her current project that she didn't even notice when a few Arts Club students came in and asked if they could alter the room for their activities, forcing them to leave in frustration (and thinking her awfully rude). She is hunched over a table, hands working furiously, swapping out parts and components. Sparks fly from the tip of her wand, being used like a welding torch. Naturally, her Site-Rite Goggles protect her eyes. A daffy smile sits on her lips, and in the flicking light of her welding, she looks a bit like she might re-animate some corpse monster any moment now, hollering It's aliiive!

Thankfully for Ophelia, she ran into some of the frustrated students in her search for Hephaesta. Grumpily, they directed her to the club room, and after stopping to apologise to each of them and promise to see if she can get the experiment moved, the ginger has finally made it to the room. She enters quietly, her expression subdued and her eyes a little red-rimmed, though a tiny smile finds its way to her face as she watches the experiment go on. She waits until the wand is pulled back, not seeming to mind how long this takes, and then very quietly, her voice breaking partway through, asks, "He… phaesta?"

Hephaesta jerks upright, flicking her wand to put out the Welding Charm. She glances around, disoriented for a moment. It's no wonder, her goggles are set to very dark lenses. She pulls the eyewear off, blinking a bit against the sudden light. As the blurry spot of orange coalesces into the pretty ginger, a happy smile forms on her lips. But as she blinks into sharper focus, seeing Ophelia's expression and registering the tone in her voice, a touch of worry causes her smile to falter. "Ophelia? Are you alright?" She immediately moves over to receive her friend, leg-brace click-whirrring along as she goes.

Ophelia presses her lips together, nodding. "Yes, I'm… well I think so, anyway. Its still a little difficult to tell." She laughs, nervously and walks forward to meet Hephaesta halfway, her eyes searching Hephaesta's. "There's something I need to tell you. And I'm honestly not sure how. But you should know." She takes a slow, deep breath, and one more step forward, reaching out for one of Phae's hands.

Hephaesta gives her friend a sympathetic frown. "You can tell me anything." She places a hand in Ophelia's, and as might be expected, her breath catches a bit at the touch. But she forces herself to inhale and breathe steadily. This is no time to turn jelly-brained!

Ophelia has to take another breath. Nodding, she looks down at their hands together. For a little while, she just stares, working up her courage. Her thumb, meanwhile, starts slowly rubbing across Phae's hand. Slowly, her courage surfacing, she closes her eyes and says it as simply as she can. "He let me go."

Hephaesta suddenly feels as if someone just kicked her in the stomach. Surely, a fraction of what Ophelia must be feeling. For a time, she just stares wide-eyed, lips parted in shock. Isn't this what she wanted? How many times did she say that he didn't deserve Ophelia? How many times did she wish them separated? But now that her wish has come true, all she feels is a hollowness. "Ophe," she finally manages to speak. "I'm so sorry." It's more than an offer of sympathy. It's an admission of perceived guilt.

Ophelia nods. "Its… " She sighs, opening her eyes and looking sadly at the brunette, "Well, its not alright, not yet. But please, don't blame yourself. I didn't come to blame you. I came because you're one of my best friends, and I needed you to know. And because… because he let me go," She swallows, and the tears she had held back earlier start to fill her eyes again, "So that we could have a chance."

Kick to the gut number two. "But…I was so mean to him. I…I didn't yet get a chance to apologize again." Phae squeezes Ophelia's hand, as much to comfort as to find support herself. "I don't understand. He said he's crazy about you. Why…what…what happened?"

Ophelia shakes her head, "I don't know. He just… showed up, looking ill, and said we should break up. That you should have a chance with me, that someone should step back a-and that he decided it was going to be him." She sniffs, blinking back the tears, "I really don't understand. It was almost… like he started believing it. What everyone says about him."

Hephaesta goes silent for a moment. She's made no secret in the past that she believes it, too. But even Phae can see the giant warning signs telling her what a bad idea it would be to say that now. She looks around the room, as if for some club prop or tool that would make all of this better. A bench! That will do. "Come sit down?" She gives Ophelia's hand a little tug to coax her over to the seat.

Ophelia follows without resistance, nodding a little. "I argued with him, on that point. I mean, no matter what anyone says I'll probably agree more with Ria on which of us is undeserving." She manages a tiny smile and a half of a chuckle. "But he insisted, said he knew it was the right thing. And maybe… maybe he's right. I was starting to wonder if there even was a right thing to do anymore."

I'm the right thing! Hephaesta wants to shout it with elation. But she simply sighs, sitting beside Ophelia to keep their hands linked. "Whatever anyone says about him, you shouldn't ever think you didn't deserve him. You're the most amazing girl in school. Everyone thinks so. Ria…she told me she doesn't know much about relationships. I don't think she's ever even been in one. So she can hardly be an expert." That may be the first time Phae has ever admitted fault in Ria, and she is suddenly so very glad that she didn't take her cousin's advice…at least not all of it.

"She's not with, um, Proudmore?" Ophelia frowns, surprised. "When I saw him in the infirmary, he seemed so… well maybe it was just me." A couple of tears finally break free, and she reaches up to rub her face with her free hand, sighing. "I'm sorry. You're probably- well I can only guess at how you're feeling."

Hephaesta swallows, suddenly on the spot. Her heart thumps loudly in her chest. What to say? "I…I…" she stammers, "I'm just worried about you. You…you know how I feel." She offers Ophelia an encouraging smile, despite the uncertainty in her eyes.

Though its still not that large, Ophelia's smile grows a little, and a tiny bit of it even reaches her eyes. "I'll be alright, I think. I, ah, took some time to think," Here, thinking can also be reinterpreted as crying one's eyes out, as her red-rimmed eyes show, "And some thingswell a lot of thingsoccurred to me. One is that I think Kaiden will be okay. I'm going to keep helping him to study," She watches Phae carefully as she says this, worriedly and almost guiltily, "since I can't be the reason he stops and gives up again."

Hephaesta has matured quite a bit in the last few days. But she is still not accustomed to handling these powerful emotions, so the thought of Ophelia and Kaiden continuing to spend close, quality time together receives a visible wince. "Well…um…m-maybe I could help? He's my cousin…and I owe him for saying those awful things." No, there's no ulterior motive there at all.

Ophelia nods, and squeezes Hephaesta's hand. All in all, she looks relieved by the offer. "That would be nice, actually. Thank you." She takes another of those big, steadying breaths then, and turns to look at the far wall. "There's one other thing. I'm not sure if I should be saying this now. And please understand, I'm still going to need… time. Its all still so overwhelmingly confusing. But, well. Do you remember when we talked last, in Hogsmeade?"

Hephaesta has to work to keep her breathing steady. She expected this…if this is what she thinks it is. But it doesn't make it easier to hear. "I…I remember."

Ophelia glances at Phae, and just as quickly looks away again. "Well, ah, d-do you remember what I said about, ah, about how you should smile more?" This time, she doesn't wait for an answer before continuing. "Because, you see, I've been thinking about that. Quite a lot, actually. A-about how b-beautiful you looked… "

Despite her preparation, Hephaesta is suddenly crushed…wait, what? No, she isn't crushed. She's confused, at first, as it takes a few moments for Ophelia's words to register. Then there is that happy memory, that moment of unadulterated joy when Ophelia drew that smile out of her. The memory of the feeling becomes the feeling itself, happiness rising up in her until it reaches her lips, and an overwhelming bright smile of pure sunshine illuminates her face.

When she doesn't hear a reaction, Ophelia looks back over at Phae worriedly. And there it is. That smile. And if possible, its even more this time. Ophelia smiles in return, the widest smile she's had on her face now. She also bursts into tears, making for a very awkward combination. "Yes, yes just like that."

Hephaesta's tears come on the tail of Ophelia's, falling silently down her cheeks. She cannot stop smiling. Just the knowledge that it brings Ophelia joy causes her to smile more, in the sort of stretched, madly happy, hurts-your-face kind of smile. With slight hesitation, she offers her other hand to Ophelia as well; a gesture to acknowledge this bonding moment.

Ophelia takes the other hand and holds it, holds them both as though they were anchors to keep her steady. For some time she holds tightly, just crying and smiling and even laughing a little, though really its difficult to distinguish from the crying, with all the tears. Eventually, though, she pulls one hand back and very slowly reaches up, brushing the tears from Hephaesta's cheeks, "Just look at this. The first time I tell you you're beautiful and you cry. Some sweetheart I'll make."

Hephaesta feels she might just faint, so overwhelming are the emotions stirring in her. Mere weeks ago, she had never even given a thought to sweethearts. Now, here she is holding hands, under the tender touch of the most wonderful girl she's ever met. A laugh escapes her lips, a happy sound that would not be contained. "S-sweetheart?" There is such hope in that word.

Ophelia lifts her shoulders, then drops them again. "Yes, well. A-as I said I will need some time. I still… need to sort out my feelings completely. But I thought, perhaps, if you're willing, maybe we could… go to the Hallowe'en dance?"

Hephaesta's jaw drops, stunned. It causes the smile to fade for a moment, but it quickly returns — could it actually be any bigger and brighter? It certainly seems like it. "YES!" she squeals, and in her enthusiasm, throws her arms around Ophelia in a tight embrace.

With a gasp of surprise that comes out as more of a squeak, Ophelia rocks back from the impact of the sudden hug. She hugs back, though, holding on tightly, chuckling even as a few more tears leak out and drop onto Phae's shoulder. "Good."

Hephaesta is content to just stay right there in Ophelia's arms, cheek pressed to her shoulder, and glad to catch those precious tears. "Ophelia," she whispers softly, "I will show you I'm worth it. I promise."

"Oh, Phaesta." Ophelia turns her head to rest it on the brunette's shoulder. "I've never doubted that. Not once, not since even before I got up the courage to talk to you." She reaches up one hand, letting her fingers skim along Hephaesta's hair. "Never forget that. Its only me that struggles with being worth it."

Hephaesta squeezes her tighter. "Well, you shouldn't. You're the most wonderful thing that's ever happened to me. I lov-…" She balks a moment, and murmurs, "I'm sorry…is it harder if I say it?"

Ophelia is very still, and requires yet one more steadying breath before she can reply. "N-no. Its not hard. Surprising. But not hard, not… not this time." She pulls back then, to wipe her own face again. "I'm only… not certain I can say it back, yet. I never said it to Kaiden, either. Will that hurt you, that I can't?"

Hephaesta sits upright, letting her hand fall in such a way that it tries to seek out Ophelia's again. She shakes her head, "No…I understand. I want to hear it, but I can't make you feel that way." She takes a deep breath, steeling herself, it somehow requiring more courage now that she has permission. "I love you."

Was Ophelia blushing, when Hephaesta tried to say it a moment ago? With all the tears and emotions spilling over one another, it was difficult to see it. But not so, now. Now her cheeks are quite pink. She takes Hephaesta's hand gladly, and smiles down at her own lap. "I.. thank you. I don't know how I can possibly deserve this. But thank you."

Hephaesta's smile persists, thrilling at the reaction. "You deserve it because you're the kindest, prettiest, most brilliant girl in school. You're just…perfect."

Ophelia chuckles softly. "I could easily argue all three of those points. But this time I'll argue just the one, if you don't mind." She squeezes Phae's hand as she glances pointedly at the experiment on the table, "I believe its rather difficult for me to be the most brilliant when you obviously already hold that title."

Now's it's Phae turn to blush, her cheeks turning rosy red. She's been called beautiful and brilliant by her sweetheart (oh yes, she's already her sweetheart in Phae's mind). She squeaks with abashed glee. "Thank you," she whispers. "Oh! I have something for you!"

"F-for me?" Ophelia blinks. Her free hand instantly goes up to the lump under her sweater where the pendant was kept safe from the drizzle outside. "Is… is it here?" And its then that she remembers the Art Club students, and winces, "I think I may have to write an apology to them later… "

Hephaesta rises, reluctantly releasing Ophelia's hand, and limping around to the end of the table where she had been working. "To who?" She clears away the spare parts to better reveal the contraption, which should look familiar by now. Looking a little different from the first prototype (that nearly set Gabrielle on fire), it's the updated version of the wand buffer. "I just need some wand shafts…fake wands, not with cores in them. To test it with. I don't want to risk a real wand."

Ophelia chuckles. "The Art Club? They tried to come in earlier, didn't you notice?" She stands more slowly herself, pushing herself up with some effort. As she walks to the table she starts to smile more widely, and the sight of the buffer brings a happy light to her eyes. "Its lovely… oh! I have tons of those, its what I do in the Arts Club, I practice making them. They aren't all that great yet, but I have a few that should at least fit in my trunk."

Hephaesta stares, bemused at the mention of the Arts Club. Nope. She obviously didn't notice. Oh well, it's quickly forgotten. "That's great! So, as long as we can try a bunch with different attributes, and nothing cracks or catches fire, I can make more of them. Oh, and if you do woodworking in Arts Club, maybe you could design a really nice casing for the buffer?" Right now, it is little more than a series of mechanical armatures with brushes on them, connected to a flat rectangular base, and adjustable rings to grip the wand on either end. Not the prettiest of designs, but functional. "Then it could be a project from both of us!"

Ophelia reaches out to carefully run her fingers around the base, "I could try. I've not done much more than wands, really. But it would be good for me to branch out. I'll see if I can get some pieces in the right size." She smiles at the contraption, anticipation a gleam in her eye, then looks up to grin at Hephaesta, "Its fantastic. Thank you."

Hephaesta beams at Ophelia. Those smiles just keep on coming. She is on Cloud Nine, with no sign of coming down anytime soon. "How many will you need for the first batch? I've got plenty of time before Christmas to make them."

Ophelia's smile brightens as well, she just can't help it in the face of Phae's joy. She turns back after a beat to regard the buffer thoughtfully. "Hmmm… three? For Ajax and my parents. No, four, I'll send one to my grandparents as well. Will that be alright?"

Hephaesta nods emphatically. "Uh huh. No problem!" Of course, she makes a mental note to make at least five. Ophelia needs one, too. "This is going to be fantastic." She turns to face Ophelia, and bam, she's stunned, as the reality of the day's events hit her all over again. She just stands, staring at Ophelia with that beautiful smile, completely dumbfounded.

Ophelia's eyes remain on the buffer for a few minutes, her mind working to plan out the possible additions she can make to it. When she does look up, she smiles at first, though the smile quickly fades and then she's just staring, amazed, and slowly starting to shake her head, "Did… you ever feel like you were inside a dream, things were so… so strange?" Strange, she knows, is not the word for it. But its difficult to make even an intelligent brain function properly, when there is a smile like that to look at.

Please, please, please don't let this be a dream. But Hephaesta nods slowly, "For a while now, really." She lets out a nervous giggle. "This isn't a dream…right?" She steps a little closer, her hand again trying to fine Ophelia's, seeking the reassurance of that contact.

Ophelia takes Hephaesta's hand, and then the other, "No. No I don't think so. I do feel sort of… disconnected from the world, the way I do in dreams. But at the same time, the things I am feeling are too strong. Still," She looks again at the buffer, "We should probably get this upstairs before it gets too late. Or at least, I think I need a cup of tea and some of my grandfather's biscuits, and you're welcome to join me, if you're done here."

Hephaesta nods vehemently, and starts packing the buffer and the spare parts into a burlap bag with one hand. She refuses to let go of Ophelia's with her other. It doesn't take long, and she slings the bag over her shoulder. "Ready." She leans her head momentarily on Ophelia's shoulder, a moment of affection before they depart.

Though she doesn't pull away, Ophelia does seem to find it amusing that her hand is 'held hostage' all through the cleaning up process. She helps as much as she can, though she refrains from touching any of the more complex-looking pieces, for fear of sending yet another flaming ball of metal at a window. Once Phae announces her readiness she nods. With her free hand, she reaches up, touching lightly the back of Phae's head on her shoulder. She smiles, trying now to hide the lingering pain from the day, and after a minute gently squeezes the brunette's shoulder and starts for the hall, her face calm, tired, and peaceful. Because even the anticipation of tea can solve many, many problems.

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