(1938-01-16) Ophelia Comes Out of Hiding
Details for Ophelia Comes Out of Hiding
Summary: After hiding away from rumours and gossip for two days, Ophelia musters up the courage to talk to Hephaesta.
Date: January 16, 1938
Location: Ravenclaw Common Room
Related: Tell Me!

For two days, since the rumor of Kaiden and Briar's break-up first reached Ophelia, she has reverted to her old ways. She's kept herself scarce, seeking out quiet places, avoiding the common room almost completely, and going straight up to bed right at curfew to avoid conversation. Today she was finally forced to interact with some, who reminded her that this was, perhaps, not the best course of action. And so she spent the evening gathering her courage, and came into the common room. Her cloak, dripping from a day spent out in the snow, hangs by her chair, which she's pulled as close to the fire as she can safely get, both to avoid anyone noticing her and for the warmth. Her bare feet are tucked up on the chair with her, trying to get as much warmth as they can. She stares into the fire, unable to mask her worry and fear.

For two days, since Ophelia started cloistering herself away, Hephaesta has been an emotional wreck. The otherwise happy, quirky girl has returned to fits of weeping, almost no appetite, and generally unsociability. Only when she can bury herself in her projects has she been remotely "normal." For the second night in a row, she has emerged from the school workshop after hours of literally hammering away at various pieces of metal to shape them for her latest gadget. Aside from the usual clicking and whirring of her brace, she is making quite a bit of clatter as she enters the common room with her box full of spare parts rattling around. The ruckus stops suddenly, as she balks at the side of that ginger hair by the fire. For a moment, she is stunned, unsure what to do as her emotions battle with each other. But it is hurt and anger that win out, and she continues limping toward the girls' tower, a firm frown set on her lips.

Ophelia wasn't moving much to begin with, but as she hears that familiar sound she tenses. Its a moment before she reminds herself to breathe, and another before she can stand, and turn to face Hephaesta. She's been trying, and managing until now, to keep from crying. But as soon as she sees Hephaesta's face, and the anger there, the tears start flowing again. Wrapping her arms around her waist, she steps away from the chair, "P-Phae… "

Hearing her name spoken is like a lasso around her waist, and she stops dead at the bottom of the stairs. She lowers her eyes to the box in her hands, summoning whatever meager willpower she has just to keep from crying. "What," she murmurs weakly.

"I'm sorry." Ophelia flinches her step faltering, then picking up again. "I didn't… I just got so scared. Everyone… " No, she reminds herself, not everyone, "Those… those girls, the things they said about me, so many people, thinking I… would do something like that. I-I didn't know what to do, I just… I hid."

"You never come to me," Phae blurts out, turning to face Ophelia with a hurt frown. "When things go badly, you never come to me. You hide, or talk to anyone else. But never me." She hobbles to a nearby table, setting the box down with a thunk. "Then these stories start going around, and you avoid me, like you have something to hide. You did it to me again, Ophie. You ran away, and just let my imagination run wild, and now I don't know what to think." Her lip starts to quiver, her strength failing already.

"No." Ophelia hurries forward, closing the distance between them. "No, not you, I didn't… " She stops just short of touching Hephaesta, "I didn't mean to avoid you. I haven't… I haven't even seen Kaiden since th-that last time, outside of the classroom. I don't know why everyone is saying these things. They just… people kept saying I'm… "

Hephaesta flinches back a step when Ophelia comes near, stiffening. "I know what they've said. I made Wanda Warburton cry because I said she was a foul-mouthed liar. The I went looking for you. I checked everywhere we usually meet. I even looked in the closet where…where I first realized I was in love with you." She lowers her eyes again, staring hard at the floor. "But you didn't even send me a message. You didn't even try to come to me…to tell me it was all lies, or even just to let me hold you and make you feel better."

Ophelia drops her head, closing her eyes tightly. "I… I did go there, at first. And then a firstie came in and I had to leave." Her voice is now a whisper, and one hand clenched tightly to the table. "I'm so sorry. I'm an idiot, Phae. I keep hurting you, when all I want is to make you happy. I keep making it worse."

Hephaesta's voice is a faint whisper. "Yes…you do. I…I don't understand why. You know it will hurt me. Why would you do something that you know will hurt me?" There is growing bewilderment on Phae's face.

Ophelia shakes her head. "I don't mean to. I never mean to hurt you. I told you, I'm not wonderful, I'm not what you kept saying I was. I'm dumb, and scared. I didn't know how to handle those girls, so I just went where I didn't have to handle anyone. Gabrielle's right. I'm a selfish, spoiled, brat."

Hephaesta scowls, "Gabrielle doesn't know what she's talking about. She's the brat." Her defensive ire raises, ready to take on anyone that maligns her dear Ophelia. But it soon settles, the pain still too fresh. "When I'm hurt, or scared…you're the first person I think about, Ophie. All I want is to be near you, because I know you'll make me feel better. I should be that person to you. I want to be that person."

"I'm sorry." Ophelia repeats. She looks up, then, peeking at Hephaesta. "I… I want you to be that person too." She steps forward, a tiny step, bringing herself just a little closer, "You were hurt. But I swear, nothing happened. We've only even talked twice, without someone around. And the last time was outside the classroom, and then you were there. Cheating… that's… kissing and stuff, and I would never."

Hephaesta keeps her eyes fixed downward. "I already said I believe you. I don't care what those stupid girls say." She sniffles, tears welling slowly. "But you've lied to me, Ophie…and you're keeping things from me. Running away from me. It's like…you're closing a door in your heart…a-and…I don't have a key."

"I'm not keeping anything. And the lie, I was only trying not to hurt you." Ophelia's tears start falling again, "I know, you believe me. I just… its what I should have said, before. That… that I'm still confused, but I'm not cheting. What I know about my feelings, I told you. Wh-when I think about the future now, its…. its you, there. Not him. I just get so confused."

Hephaesta finally lifts her face to Ophelia. "I'm confused too! I'm always confused, and scared, and…but it doesn't matter. Because you're there to make it all make sense. I don't know how, but when you're here, things just make sense. They feel right. But now you're the one not making sense, so I have no one to go to…and it frightens me, Ophie. I'm just…lost." She goes to pick up her box again.

Without thinking, Ophelia reaches for Hephaesta's hand. "I'll come to you, then. First thing, every morning. And before bed, every night. And if you can't find me, get Snidget. Whatever I have to do. I'll… I'll sleep in the fourth year dormitory, if I have to."

Hephaesta pulls her hand away at Ophelia's touch. "I think you were right, Ophelia. You have to think about things. You have to think about whether you really want to be with me. If all it takes is Kaiden saying he misses you to cause all of this, then something isn't right." She picks up the box, holding it between them before she'll meet Ophelia's eyes. "I love you. I really, really do. But…you're hurting me, and I don't think this is supposed to hurt so much." She starts to turn toward the stairs.

Ophelia flinches. "No." The sound is barely a whimper, the look on her face one of terror. "No." The second time her voice gains a little strength, but her legs loose theirs, and though she tries to take another step she wobbles, and has to grab hold of the table again.

Hephaesta stops on the first step. She can't bring herself to keep going when Ophelia seems to be in physical distress. She looks back with worry, awkwardly balancing the box on her lifted leg.

"Please." Ophelia stares up at Hephaesta, "Don't go. Don't go away. I'll do anything, just tell me. Please."

Hephaesta is never the strong one. Her feelings for Ophelia have gotten the better of her ever since she started realizing she had them. But perhaps these recent events have hardened something in her. "I'm not going away. I'm…giving you space to think about what you want. I hope it's me." She takes a shuddering breath. Even this newfound strength only goes so far. "But if it's him…I'll be heartbroken, but it's better to not…not…" She balks at even verbalizing the words, "…not lie to ourselves."

Ophelia stares for a little longer, then looks down with a nod. "If that's what you want. I'll think. I… do you want… me to do anything else?"

Hephaesta can't contain it any longer, and she nods quickly along with her shuddering tears. "Love me?"

Ophelia nods, and nods some more, sniffles, and looks up. "I do. I promise, I'll never lie about it. I love you, Phae."

Hephaesta breathes deeply to try to speak through the tears, managing a raspy, "I love you, too." Hanging her head sadly, she makes her way slowly up the stairs, one step at a time.

Ophelia waits until Hephaesta is gone before she lets herself fall to the floor and cry, really cry, the way she's been trying not to since she was asked by a bunch of Hufflepuff girls what she had against Briar. She stays on the floor for nearly half an hour before making her way to bed, but she doesn't sleep tonight.

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