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 Totally About the X-Men, Will + Tori
William Reese
 Posted: May 14 2017, 04:23 PM
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Hufflepuff
17 YEARS
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Whumph!

Will’s body was not light, by any stretch of the imagination. So when he collapsed into the brightly upholstered yellow armchair, a large puff of dust clapped into the air, settling back down as he flung both of his feet over the arm, settling his bulk into the expertly padded chair. Like most things in the Hufflepuff Common Room, the chairs were designed to be comfortable, and like an actual badger den, they tended to engulf you like a tiny nest would. And to be honest, Will enjoyed it more than he let on. He loved being able to flop comfortably in a chair and just get eaten up while he read a book or something.

But there was more than reading on his mind when he picked the chair closest to Tori, a couple of thick chocolate bars wrapped in gold leaf and stamped with “Wickedly Welsh” balanced on his legs, an X-Men comic book in his large, strong hands, holding it as gently as a baby. Elias hadn’t been gone from the room more than two or three minutes. It was exactly how long it took Will to go back up to his room to grab a comic book and break into his emergency stash of chocolate. Because chocolate was the world’s greatest panacea, a cure all for emotional ailments the world over. And as someone whose world occasionally felt too small and whose body sometimes felt too heavy, Will knew more than most what a chocolate bar delivered at exactly the right moment could do for you.

So for a couple minutes he didn’t say anything. He just opened the book and glanced over a couple pages. They weren’t anything special, just the Inhuman Royal Family fighting off demons in purgatory while they struggled to free black Bolt, whom the X-men had kidnapped. He pretended like Tori’s problem was no big deal, like he wasn’t even aware the event had happened, even though he’d heard everything from about halfway through her yelling rant, standing just out of sight at the foot of the stairs. Yelling in the common room tended to summon him like a bolt of lightning.

But eventually he spoke, sounding just as nonchalant as he hoped. A thick Welsh accent gave his words a sing-songy quality. “So, Tori, did I ever tell you about Iceman?” he said casually, pausing his reading. “It won’t mean much to you, but Iceman is one of my favorite X-men. They are a group of superheroes in muggle books. Well, Teenage Iceman found himself falling in love with this cute Inhuman boy,” he chuckled, pausing his own story, “he’s this fledgling little gay, and it’s adorable, but that’s neither here nor there,” he shifted back into his storytelling voice, “This Inhuman boy, well, the Inhumans and the X-men were kind of at each other’s throats. Very Romeo and Juliet. And the X-men attacked the Inhumans. They totally wrecked their home, and the Inhumans were demonizing the X-men, as anybody would. But it left Iceman and his boyfriend really confused.”

Will paused, trying to find a good way to deliver the message of his story, “And Bobby…that’s Iceman’s name…Bobby asks his boyfriend if he’s scared of mutants. And his boyfriend is trying to say no, but you can tell what he really thinks, so he just says ‘Not you Bobby. You’re not like them,’. Well you can imagine how Bobby feels. So he says ‘I am. I am a mutant. Don’t pretend like I’m not because the truth isn’t what you thought. Your family is lying to you. And you believe it because believing it is easier than saying you might be the bad guy.’” Will stopped to give the sentence the gravitas it deserve, then pressed on, “Bobby breaks up with his boyfriend, and is heartbroken, as any young gay is when his lover basically says all his people are awful monsters. But,” Will grinned at last, “Bobby’s boyfriend realizes what he did. And he realized, a few issues later, that Bobby was right. And he goes back to the Royal Family and he tells them what Bobby said. He tells them how they are demonizing a whole group of people. And the Royal Family and the X-Men stop fighting long enough to realize their whole war was a misunderstanding. Of one person thinking they were in danger, when really they both had wanted the same thing.”

Will stopped again, not because the story needed it, but because he choked up just a little bit, and had to take a couple swallows and a couple blinks to continue. “Bobby’s love for that Inhuman had saved a lot of people’s life. And had changed the minds of the most staunch blood purists to ever live. But they had to fight to get there. There was heartache and yelling matches before anybody realized how similar X-Men and Inhumans really were. But Bobby’s boyfriend didn’t forget about him or love him any less. He understood.”

Will stopped speaking then, looking back down at his comic book and idly flipping through pages. Like he hadn’t said anything at all.

@Tori Deveaux-Carroll

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Tori Deveaux-Carroll
 Posted: May 14 2017, 08:46 PM
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Victoria Deveaux-Carroll really couldn't bring herself to object when her cousin insisted on leaving. She knew he was right to, that it would be best to have some space even though that's all they seemed to be giving each other lately, but she really wasn't sure she wanted to be alone right now. She stood, almost rooted to the spot where Elias had left her, watching the common room door swing shut behind him. As the door clicked in finality her emotions came rushing back up and hot tears started flowing down her cheeks.

The hurt from his words at the party coupled with the loneliness she had felt without him these past months and mixed together with the anger at the words he had spoken mere minutes ago to combine with the guilt and disgust she felt for yelling at him and also for asking him to show how much he cared for her by being more open to muggles. They were all shaken together to make what was probably the messiest emotional cocktail ever created and she leaned heavily on the arm of the chair to keep from falling to the ground. Rust gave an indignant hoot as she was unseated and flew out of one of the small open windows near the ceiling.

She let herself sink back, onto the cushion of the armchair, sitting in it sideways as buried her face into the back of the chair. Then there were footsteps on the stairs and she quickly pulled away, forcing herself to stop crying. Her hands roughly brushed across her cheeks and eyes and she quickly grabbed her book off the table to hide her face in. She couldn't focus on the words and would only bother pretending to read for a few moments before escaping up to her dormitory.

She kept her eyes trained on the page, sniffling quietly as she commanded herself not to start crying again. Whoever it was that had interrupted her sat down, or rather flopped down given the fact she could hear them. Tepid curiosity won her over and she peeked around the side of the book to see who it was. Just Will, with what looked to be a comic and come candy. She quickly turned her gaze back to the page in front of her lest she be caught looking.

She was just about to leave, thinking she had definitely played at this long enough, when the other hufflepuff addressed her. "What? Who?" She asked, startled by the sudden question. She sat up, righting herself on the chair and gave her attention to the boy. "One of your comic characters?" She allowed her own Welsh accent to show, matching his. Usually she hid it when she wasn't at home, people expected the Deveauxs to have proper and posh British accents or fancy French ones to match her grandfather's. The British accent had been carefully taught to her by language tutors as a child while her Welsh one had been pointed out by snobbish adults at gatherings and parties. It had become second-nature to speak with a British accent when at the Deveaux estate and that transferred over to when she was at Hogwarts. But around Will she couldn't help but switch back to her native accent, the speech style her father used and had taught her.

She stayed quiet as he talked though, her eyes on the floor so he wouldn't see her red eyes. She knew who the X-Men were, but had never heard of the Inhumans. Comics were something she perused out of curiosity or boredom, but never really got too interested in. She just had no clue where to start with them, one book seemed to go with another but then contradict a third and it was all very confusing. Her novels tended to follow a single plot line or multiple ones that were interconnected, but the start was very clear and it made sense to her, so that was what she stayed with.

Her hands gripped at her skirt as he continued. It was clear what Will was getting at and she had to wonder if that was actually something that happened in his comic or not. He had heard her argument with her cousin, he might have been making this stuff up just to make her feel better. His story did have a nice ending, and she did want to believe that maybe Elias would do the same as Iceman's boyfriend and rethink everything, realize that he was wrong.

Tori waited when he stopped, not sure if he was going to continue again or not. She looked up finally and he was back to paging through his comic book. That probably meant he had said his piece and was done now. "You were listening?" She didn't say it with any venom or anger. Just a simple fact posed as a question, she already knew the answer. If he had been in his dormitory, it would probably have been hard not to listen when she started yelling before.

She sniffed and blinked back the tears that had started to well at the thought of her own yelling before. "I don't think it's the same as your book. I dunno if it'll turn out like that," she said it quietly, almost as if she had meant it for herself. Usually she was so optimistic, forcing herself to see the brighter outcomes to things, but in her exposed and fragile state she really couldn't lie to herself about this. And if she couldn't lie to herself, then she wouldn't be able to voice the lie to say to Will.

@William Reese

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William Reese
 Posted: May 14 2017, 09:42 PM
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“Nothing quite so rude as listening,” Will said softly, still not meeting her eyes, “Your voice is very loud when you yell, though.” He chuckled a bit reaching the end of the comic book and shutting it, sliding back into the clear plastic casing that kept it safe from dust and water and dirt. Like a tiny pocket for the comic book. He pressed it tight and the plastic adhered to itself like cling wrap. He did this methodically, like he’d done it a million times before. Which he had. Will could often be seen reading comic books around the common room or in his dorms. They were often new editions, too, flown in by his mother and hand picked by his best friend. Who else would know if the stories were worthy of his attention? The thought of his two favorite people back home twitched his lip in a small smirk, sad and happy mixed there in perfect, painful balance.

“My mam taught me manners. You know which ones I mean, like,” he said, a knowing nod aimed at the accent she’d let slip. Southern Wales was recognizable the world over, the musical quality rather distinct and not all that different from French. “So when I hear a lady in distress, I come. You had it well in hand, although I wouldn’t have apologized to the little git.” He chuffed, a kind of angry little exhale. In that moment he looked much like a large, displeased dog, With nothing else to do with his hands, he crossed them over his chest, nestling a little deeper into the comfy chair.

“I could tell you another story, but I think we’re past that point now, don’t you?” Will said simply, turning towards the door Elias had left by, “I think that one’s stubborn as a mule. You’ll need to drag him, kicking and screaming, to the right side. But I think he’ll go, I do. He’s young, and he sounded sorry, for what it’s worth.” His eyes grew a little harder, some of that friendly exterior shuffling off as Will mentioned things closer to home. His brows furrowed a bit, big thick things on his forehead that made his otherwise smooth skin a mess of lines and shadows, “His kind is a dying breed though. He’ll see that soon enough. In his generation, I bet, public sentiment will swing the opposite way. We won’t be made fun of, and more and more muggleborns are waking to magical talent. How long before we outnumber them? How long before Halfbloods realize their money doesn’t spend anymore? Before Muggleborn Families rise to the same heights and suddenly the blood purists are simply embarrassing relics, no more respected than Nazis?”

Will stopped himself, realizing he was going off on a tangent. He shut down that well of emotion, taking several breaths to steady himself. Then the apologetic smile slid onto his face easy as drinking water. “Sorry, sore subject. But this is about you, not me. How you doin?” He grabbed one of the chocolate bars and opened it up, cracking off a large chunk and biting into it. He gestured to one of the two remaining bars still resting on his leg as he chewed the gloriousness that was chocolate. He let the chocolate do his job, feeling that heat leech from him. Will should be used to it by now. Nobody said anything to his face, of course. Will was a veritable giant, and he’d knocked out teeth before, because he was also Welsh and fuck your common decency and social decorum. But finding out who around you was a blood purist was like a little burr, a thorn that constantly egged at you. And since nobody would reveal themselves to someone who could and would and had beaten the blood purity out of people before, Will had to learn it second or third hand. And he rarely got a chance to actually express any of his views on it. So he just sat back and listened for a bit, let Tori talk while he ate chocolate and calmed the holy hell down.

“One’s for you,” he finally said, jiggling his leg under the chocolate bar so she understood what he meant. “I figured you could use it.” Then he went back to chewing his chocolate, taking another big bite and moaning out a little approval. “Chocolate is heaven’s gift to man. I’m no catholic, but it’s the closest proof of the divine I’ve ever seen.” He rested his head back, eyes closed, and just kind of enjoyed the moment like a lazy cat, soaking up the sun.

He stayed that way for several long minutes. Minutes stretched in a comfortable, lazy silence, before he spoke again. “I know I said this isn’t about me, Tori…” Will paused, not wanting to pry, “But you’re the nicest person I’ve ever met. And you yelled at him. Like, yelled.” Will’s voice suddenly fell very flat, and tension shot through him. The dog baring its teeth, if an allegory needed to be drawn. But he never opened his eyes or moved an inch.

“What did that little fucker say about me?”

@Tori Deveaux-Carroll

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William Reese
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Tori Deveaux-Carroll
 Posted: May 17 2017, 08:41 PM
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A blush crept onto the small hufflepuff's face at his words. Of course yelling made anyone loud, but she had never thought of herself as a loud person. Oh, she certainly didn't think she was quiet; there were times when she was quiet, her voice soft and gentle, such as when soothing an upset friend or talking to her father during one of his darker periods. The smirk that flashed across Will's face reminded her of her father, the pain it hinted at. She was about to ask him, to shift the subject from herself, but he spoke first and she tucked the question away.

That was probably for the best. Trying to explore his pain always seemed to make her feel vulnerable herself, and she didn't much care for that feeling, so she had stopped ages ago. If she caught it, she would sometimes ask, but for the most part she tried to distract him. Perhaps she should start again, though? It wasn't a bad thing to be vulnerable around people one trusted, and she did trust the other hufflepuff. Maybe it was herself she didn't trust, maybe if she let herself be vulnerable around him then she wouldn't be able to pick herself back up afterwards.

"I didn't apologize for my words, just for yelling." It was never really good at yell at people, to let emotions explode out like a curse. It just had such a connotation of wanting to hurt someone without physically trying. She did yell though, especially when she got angry. And always she would feel terrible afterwards, as if she had smacked someone across the face. She let herself sink into the back of the seat, almost like she was trying to hide in the cushions.

Tori was always willing to listen to another story. She loved them, whether they were read from a book, made up on the spot or spoken aloud from memory. But she suspected Will was right, they weren't going to get anywhere with another one. Her fingers traced across the pattern on her locket and she sighed. "I might be able to sway him, sure. But I think he wants to be like that." She half-muttered her words, saying them in a moment of uncertainty and vulnerability. But then she regretted them as Will began to speak again. Would he dislike Elias more now, after what she said?

She bit her lip, his words striking confusion into her. Not so much that what he was saying was hard to follow, she just wasn't sure how to feel. Her family was wealthy, and powerful, and predominately pureblooded. Sure, her grandfather preached tolerance and most of the pureblood marriages were purely chance, but that didn't change the facts. And she herself was a halfblood and she supported her family entirely. Part of it was certainly because it was her family, but she couldn't help but wonder if it was also because of the influence they could command. Were the Deveauxes included in his rant?

Luckily he stopped before she got herself more confused. The feelings stayed there, as they would until she either forced herself to forget or she sorted them out, but at least for now they would not grow. "I'm alright." The lie slipped from her lips with practiced ease and it was not until she heard herself say it that she realized she was answering at all. It was second nature for her to give that answer to that question and so she didn't even think about it. Once the words left her mouth she shook her head and bit the inside of her cheek. "No. That's not... I've been better, I guess." He knew the truth when he came down here, he wouldn't fall for the lie and she wanted to be honest right now. She was a mess, confused by both Elias and now Will. And she didn't know how to give a truly honest answer without rambling pointlessly. But it seemed that might be what he was wanting her to?

"It's just.... After my mum--" she broke off, biting her cheek again and running her thumbnail along the edge of the locket. She didn't talk about her mother. That was too much vulnerability. A deep breath and she started again. "Eli's always been there for me, but his father's been so full of anger since his wife's death and he just keeps infecting Eli with it and it's hard. Trying to keep that influence from spreading. And I don't think I'm doing a very good job of helping him..." There had to be something more she could do to get Elias to see that muggles were not an enemy. That they were just people, some of them good and some of them bad. "I feel like I'm losing him and-and he's all I have," her voice wavered and broke and she pulled her feet into the chair to hide her face in her knees in case she started crying again.

She had her brother, but his heart was darker even than her uncle's and she could hardly talk to him. She had her grandfather but the man was distant as best and she somehow always felt like she was disappointing him, again someone she could hardly talk to. Her father was still there, even if she no longer saw him as much anymore, but some times he would go weeks without talking and there were times Tori would talk to him but it seemed like he couldn't even see her. Her cousin had been there since her childhood, helping her cope and comforting her when things got too heavy. And now there was a rift between them that couldn't be solved with some cookies and an apology and everything felt a bit like it was falling apart.

She wanted to say this, to just explain everything to her friend, but she couldn't seem to find the words to say. Again he spoke so she didn't have to and she peeked up at him to see what he was referring to. A few second passed before she unfurled herself and reached over, taking the chocolate bar with a small thank you. She couldn't help but laugh at his moan and words, a real laugh that left her feeling strange having it mixed in with the hurt and confusion she was feeling. "I dunno, I think it depends on the type of chocolate," she pointed out, nibbling on the corner of her own candy bar. A handful of M&Ms could hardly make her feel anything other than a brief moment of happiness.

The larger badger stretched himself out, not speaking anymore and Tori allowed herself to relax. She sank back against the chair again, taking small bites from her chocolate. She would have to remember to get something for Will to make up for this. The way he sat, looking as content as could be reminded her strangely of a dog on a warm day.

She was going to mention this but he once again spoke before her and she lost the thought. "I not really nicer than anybody else." She frowned at the thought. "There's plenty of people nicer than me. Like Aki or Fin." She had never seen Aki get angry at someone and she half-suspected that the 5th year was just incapable of it. And for Finlay, if someone even thought about being sad he seemed to suddenly appear with a hug ready. The fact that she had yelled at her cousin didn't seem too out of place for someone who wasn't too terribly nice.

A sigh at his question and she bit her cheek, trying to think. "I don't think he's ever mentioned you personally," she said slowly. Elias Deveaux was too involved in his own world to notice people most of the time. It was why she was constantly trying to find people to be friends with him.

@William Reese

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William Reese
 Posted: May 19 2017, 07:47 PM
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Will shook his hand quickly from side to side. “Not like that,” Will said, “I’m sure he doesn’t know me from a post in the ground. Maybe he’d be better if he did. People tell me I’m good to be around. I don’t believe them mind you,” he chuckled in his reclined position, his face hidden but his adam’s apple bobbing up and down across his exposed throat with each little exhale, “I’m just a meathead from Wales, but it won’t hurt to try, right?”

The brown haired boy continued, some of the mirth leaving his voice. “No, I meant about us, collectively.” The large Hufflepuff wanted an answer, and so he picked his head back up, opening one eye, reverse wink style. He gestured between the two of them, indicating something they had in common. “You don’t get into shouting matches with someone from an old family and toss about terms like muggleborn, half-blood, and you don’t count unless he’s said something that’s going to make me uncategorically angry.” Will tried to look friendly about it, but it wasn’t a friendly question to ask. “You say that he’s a good kid. And you’re one of the best judges of character I’ve met, when it doesn’t involve animals,” Will said with a grin, “Honestly, Tori, you’d let a dragon eat you because you thought it was cute and that it might be hungry.”

The hulk of a teenager sat more upright in the chair, swinging his legs off the arm until he was leaning forward, elbows perched on his thighs. Large, calloused hands grabbed each other to keep them from fidgeting. “If you really believe there’s hope for him. I’d like to help him, if I can.” His voice hardened a bit then, one hand coiling until his left hand was holding a fist, “But he hurt you. And he’s old enough to know better. He’s what 14? 15? Plenty old. Someone’s got to teach him a lesson. Besides, if he’s angry, I can take it a lot better than you, no offense. Telling him not to have anger doesn’t do one lick of good,” Will reached out towards Tori in that moment, pushing a lock of hair from her face.

The Hufflepuff was fucking smooth.

Will liked to believe he’d make a great youth counselor some day, because the next words out of his mouth were aimed right at the girl, even though he was still pretending to talk about Elias. They were soft, and quiet, like you’d talk to a wounded animal, “You gotta let it out. Otherwise it festers and turns into something dark and ugly.”

Will hadn’t ignored all the signs Tori threw up. Half started sentences, nearly choking into sobs. Retreating, knees pulled up to her chest. But just like the x-men story, focusing on Elias was just the distraction, the bit of the conversation meant to lull his normally chipper friend into saying something. And she almost had. But her body had told him so much more than her words. “It’s okay, you know. To say something. To feel something. To be a wreck.”

They were words Will’s therapist, his muggle, mortal therapist, had told him before. On days when Will didn’t want to be there. When he didn’t have the energy to move, let alone speak. So as the boy talked, his eyes were kind of distant, words now talking about himself as much as Tori or even Elias. “And some days you don’t feel like you’re worth all that much, or that you don’t have anything, or that it’d be better if you just…stopped. And that’s a fucking lie. Because look at you. You’re brilliant.”

Will grinned, real and warm and toothy. “Not like, smart brilliant, because that’s rubbish and changes from day to day. Like, bright brilliant. Like sunshine, yea? I see you every day and it’s this golden sunny ray of hope. And you never get down and you never stop trying, even though you got a million reasons to give up,” Will’s head started shaking, “I know exactly what you’re thinking. ‘No, I’m not that good’ or ‘There’s so many people that deserve that more than me’ or ‘Really I’m garbage stop it’. And that’s the little scared part of you that you need to give the finger to. Every day. Give it the finger and say ‘No I am sunshine. And I am gonna win today. Oh and also, chocolate is delicious.’ Really gotta believe that last part.”

“I don’t know what you’re holdin back. I can never know, really. But I know that you’re just as good as goddamn Finlay,” Will laughed then, barked out a sharp, low belly laugh. It felt good, because his own voice had started to waver. Will was almost crying himself, and he sniffed hard once before realizing he’d done it. He’d probably been doing it for a couple minutes, now. “And if that little shit is holding on real tight to his emotions, and turning into something dark and ugly…well maybe he needs you to be sunshine, too. And you can’t do that for him if you don’t let it out.” Will ended the stirring, Oscar-worthy speech with a sharp, playful poke on the girl’s forehead. He’d stolen most of it from his therapist, but the bits about sunshine and chocolate were all his.

@Tori Deveaux-Carroll

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Tori Deveaux-Carroll
 Posted: May 20 2017, 07:11 PM
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"You are good to be around. You're honest and kind. It's nice." She said quickly, shaking her head when he said he didn't believe them. There were people that were so good, so blindingly amazing and kind, that just being near them made you feel like you were a better person, but it also made you feel like there was no way you could ever be as good as them. Tori felt like that a lot whenever people spoke about her mother. Spending time with Will was different; she felt like if she tried, she could become a better person but that she wasn't expected to try, it would be her own choice. It probably would do Eli some good to hang out with the older hufflepuff.

Ah, so that's what he had been asking. There wasn't a point in talking about it. There wasn't even a point in thinking about it. She had been trying to make herself forget his words for months, because they just weren't worth it, yet the more she tried to forget the harder her mind held on to them and the more her heart ached. "It was nothing, he probably didn't even mean it." It was just a thing she needed to ignore. She wanted to argue against the dragon bit, but she couldn't quite find the words to counter-act his, and besides, she could tell he was leading up to something again. So she held her tongue and let him say his piece.

The phrase 'teach him a lesson' did put her slightly on edge. She knew Will, had known him for almost six years, and she knew he wasn't above getting into a fist-fight. But he wasn't seriously going to pick a fight with her little cousin, was he? The slytherin was half his size and there was no way Eli would let himself get pulled into something like that.

The small girl's shoulders tensed when the other hufflepuff tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear and she could feel a small blush appear. She really hadn't expected that, especially in a conversation about her cousin. But the gesture had made it obvious that what Will was saying wasn't about Eli, it was about her. If he had been directing his words at Elias Deveaux, he would have looked at the door or the ceiling or done anything else that wasn't touching Tori.

It wasn't okay. Not when the things she wanted to say were about how it was unfair of her father to force her to be the adult. Not when she wanted to tell Elias that at the party she had been ashamed to be related to him. It wasn't okay to want things she couldn't have. Like her brother to stop being so hateful. Like her family to see her as someone other than the only Deveaux who couldn't cast a hex. Like her mother to be back. It was too selfish and would cause too much hurt and guilt in other people. She couldn't cry and wail and throw a fit because it wasn't allowed for a lady of her status. There were far too many expectations for her, it simply wasn't okay.

She wanted it to be okay, though, as the tears prickled at her eyes again and she sniffed. Her chocolate was relegated to the table with the forgotten letter, book and glasses as she pressed her palms against her eyes. She wanted it to be okay to be a wreck, and Will's words were slowly lulling her into believing it was okay, at least for this small moment in this small space.

Her hands shifted and her fingers tangled through her hair, pushing her bow out of it and onto the chair. Tori looked at Will as he smiled at her, blurry half because of the pressure of her palms and half because of the tears that were falling now. She wasn't sunshine, she wasn't golden and light and hope and everything she wanted to be that this boy somehow saw in her. She was small and weak and scared and she never stopped lying.

Yet he seemed to be able to exactly read her mind as he countered her thoughts with ease. She let out a choked sound, somewhere between a laugh and a sob at the chocolate bit and her hands moved again, wiping at her cheeks before clutching at her skirt as she bit her lip to keep from sobbing. Fin seemed to reside on that same unobtainable level as her mother, and she could never see herself as being as good as either of those two. But Will said she was, and he was honest, she had said so herself just moments earlier.

He was right, she could hardly be of any help to Elias if she ignored everything. If she just shoved it down and let it stay and pretended and lied that everything was fine. But it wasn't easy to just force herself to just let it all go, either. Her left hand moved again when he poked her, reaching up and forcefully intertwining her fingers in with his for some bit of a connection. Some physical reassurance that she wasn't alone.

A breath in to try and calm herself enough to talk, but she was shaking. What was she supposed to do? "What do you want me to say?" Her voice was hoarse as she forced the words out. She wasn't used to this. She hadn't cried in front of someone since she was a child. Now she forced herself not to cry and when she couldn't do that, it was always while she was alone. Into a pillow when she knew nobody was around. This was strange territory.

@William Reese

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William Reese
 Posted: May 21 2017, 03:45 PM
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Will’s eyes softened as Tori grabbed his finger like a toddler. Hell, depending on what she was repressing she might be feeling like a toddler. Will knew his own breakdowns about his father hadn’t been much more dignified than that. Then she twined her fingers in his, holding his hand and keeping him from pulling back away from her. IT was unexpected, but hey, when you encourage someone to open up and bare their soul to you, some physical comfort is probably going to come along with the territory. Will didn’t mind entirely. Tori was adorable, and holding hands with adorable girls was kind of what was expected for a seventeen year old boy, wasn’t it?

“I don’t want you to say anything more than exactly what you want to say,” the brawny hufflebuff tied the words tighter than a bread tie, letting Tori think whatever she wanted to think from it. “I’m not here to force you to talk. I may not even be the person you want to talk to. Maybe short, scrawny, and angry is more your speed to open up to. If that’s so you don’t gotta say nothing.” Will looked off in the direction of the door to the common room, like talking about him might suddenly summon Elias from parts beyond. “All I’m here for is to let you know that you can. Talk. If you want.” He grinned a small, sheepish twitch of the lips, shrugging, and then tugged on Tori’s hand so he pulled it further into his chair. He didn’t do anything with it, just tucked his tight against him. The hand was sandwiched between his own, much larger digits and his chest, rising and falling steadily for several long minutes. Will had been in enough therapy that telling people to open up was hard. Opening up when they asked was even harder.

“I see a therapist, kind of regularly, on our vacations,” he said suddenly, breaking the quiet, “We talk about all kind of stuff. Sometimes it’s just catching him up on what I do at my ‘boarding school’ between our sessions. Sometimes it’s a lot heavier,” Will actually chuckled at that, like he’d said something funny to himself. “But every time I see him, he gives me the same advice. Tell. Someone. Secrets have weight. Feeling have weight. And ’You’re a strong lad, you’are, but unless you spent all year working out, not even you can hold up the whole world.’” The hufflepuff’s voice took on a thick, heavy accent, making it clear he was impersonating someone else. “He’s right, too. Degree’s worth more than just paper after all, yea? No matter how many sweaters you put on, no matter how many blankets you crawl under, at the end of the day all you have is yourself. And if yourself is pretending something didn’t happen, or is acting like something doesn’t bother you, or can’t stand up and be yourself…then at the end of everything, you’ll never really be happy.”

Will’s eyes did that distant thing again, his words reflecting back on himself. As he spoke his thumb gently ran over the back of Tori’s hand, tracing figure eights on her skin. He took a large, sharp inhale before continuing, “You’ll pretend like it. You’ll laugh at jokes, and you’ll avoid conversations that might get uncomfortable. And you’ll maybe stop doing that thing you love to do because it hurts now or someone might not like it. And eventually that’ll feel normal. But every time you push something down, it’s like a layer of dirt on a bowl. One layer? Two? You don’t even notice it. What about thirty layers? Fifty? Lies you have to tell yourself, words you have to be careful to avoid. Eventually there isn’t room left for anything good.” The broad-shouldered teenager chuckled again, “I find the worst metaphors, don’t I? Time to wash your bowl, Tori! You got some junk in there. So find someone to do the dishes with you.”

“As for where to start? Start at the beginning. Where else?”

@Tori Deveaux-Carroll

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Tori Deveaux-Carroll
 Posted: May 22 2017, 08:19 PM
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It would have been a relief that he didn't pull his hand away if the fear that he might had even crossed the small hufflepuff's mind. But so concerned with her own emotions and trying to stop crying, she had barely even noticed she grabbed his hand much less that he didn't pull away. She would, much later that night, remember it, but that was a thought for a different hour.

For now she rubbed at her cheeks with her free hand - trying to dry them to no avail - and focused on Will's words. What did she want to say? She did want to say something, she could feel it inside her, but when she reached for it, the words slipped away like trying to grab at ink in water. She watched as he turned towards the door at the mention of her cousin, half-tempted to turn herself. Eli was good to talk to, or at least he had been when they were children. He still let her in occasionally, but she never truly let him see her. She comforted and mothered him when he needed it and always put on a happy face for him. She wasn't even sure when she started closing herself off to him, but now that she thought about it, she had.

She felt suddenly very lonely and the ache of admitting that to herself clawed at her chest and redoubled her tears. She leaned onto the left side of the chair, hiding her face into the armrest to muffle the sound of her sniffling and wails as quiet as she could make them otherwise. Her right hand clutched at the chair as if it were going to be pulled suddenly from her, fingers starting to hurt in their awkward grip. But her left hand was warm and comfortable and the gentle rise and fall of the chest it lay against, the faint tempo of the other badger's heartbeat calmed her and she focused on that until she quieted again.

She kept her freckled face hidden, red hair falling over the side of the armchair, as the large boy started talking again. Her fingers squeezed his briefly, half to show she was listening and half because the idea of therapists scared her. They were just doctors, she knew that, but when your father is taken from you and stored in a building full of them, they bring out unpleasant feelings. But it sounded like whomever he saw was a good person, and it helped with those feelings.

The pattern he was tracing into her skin and the way his voice flowed put her in a trance and she was focused on him, her thoughts coming together on her own without her grasping for them. Her nose scrunched at his metaphor but she laughed against the fabric of the seat, the south muffled and breathless and breaking off shortly. "I like them, they're fun and cute." She smiled and turned her head to the side so she could talk, still half-laying in her chair.

Start at the beginning, he told her. But that was too hard of a place to start, with the ink floating down near the bottom of the well. It was too hard to reach that just yet. That was her mother and her father and everything that had ever gone through her mind as she was forced to grow up and care not only for her elder brother and little cousin but also her parent.

But the words had been found, words that had echoed inside her mind and chest for months. Words that drew a lump to her throat every time she looked at her cousin in the hallways. "Muggleborns and filthy scum who choose to procreate with the lot deserve to die. That's what he said." Well, more or less; she had changed a word or two. Her voice was quiet as she spoke and her hand squeezed against Will's again. He had said she didn't count, but it still felt like she did. She counted, Belle counted, and her mother counted. Not to mention Will, Liam, Aki. Belvedere, basically half of all the people she knew. They had all counted when Eli has said that, regardless of what he tried to take back now.

Her teeth bit into her lip as it quavered and she shook her head. "He used to be so sweet, and he's still a kid, but I don't know what happened." And she was failing at trying to fix it. She had told herself that Elias had created the rift between them with his careless words, but maybe she had done it years ago when she stopped trusting him with her thoughts and began to block him off. He still loved her and it probably hurt him when she had pulled away, just as much as his words hurt her.

@William Reese

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