Clayton Stagg

Foreverly Clayton's

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Clayton had a child in one arm, the girl tightly held up against his arm giggling as he spoke gentle nothings into the baby's ear. He held a set of flowers in his other. White petals dominated the most with a few blue ones that were meant to match the exact hue to Everly's eyes. "I'm sorry for being late, love." He immediately told the second year. "We were unexpectedly given a child to care for during muggle studies and... Well, not to be unkind but I don't know if I trust a child with most my classmates." He chuckled lightly, carefully holding out the flowers towards Everly. "I do appreciate you, though. I appreciate you taking the time to meet me and do this properly with me."

 

Clayton waltz towards one of the unused desks, purposely picking the astronomy tower since he knew nobody would take the effort climbing those steps. They'd have a lot more piece and quiet here, not to mention a beautiful sight of the stars in the sky. The relaxing environment would help them get in a calm and caring mood as they tried to engage in the lightest of magics. Healing.

 

"So... I've brought some books with me so we can work on studying a bit today. I figure if we go over some of the healing theories and work towards the mindset we should take before we begin that will help us pick it up quicker the next time we meet." Something about Clayton was a bit disorganized as he tried to center himself quickly. It was as though he regretted being late by ten minutes and felt he needed to quickly make that time back. The fourth year carefully placed the baby down from his arms close by. Clayton was a sucker fro children. He secretly adored them and they tended to love him back. If only it was that easy for adults. A couple books he checked out from the library were removed from his bag and placed on the desk's surface.

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Loathe he was to admit, that little bit of cardio Everly was doing during Defense was making the treks up and down the stairwells easier than the year before. He supposed it was nice being able to get to the top of the Astronomy tower without feeling faint. Perhaps he would be more inclined to go atop that tower without the coercion of a class, or the destination selection from his date.

 

Not his date. It was not a date.

 

Wiping his palms across his trousers for the tenth time in ten minutes ticked off a box on the ‘you might be on a date checklist’, but nothing else was a date. They were meeting to learn healing magic. Studying was not a date. The study partner finally appearing with a baby in his arms; definitely not a date. A bouquet of flowers? Oh, mon dieu was Everly confused.

 

Nervously, he returned the chuckle and accepted the flowers, with a grateful “Merci,” suddenly hearing nothing in his head except I appreciate you on repeat. “Uh, wow, that’s quite the homework assignment…I wouldn’t trust my toad to mine either, really…” He was awfully lost on what else to say regarding a baby being with them. Clayton was pulling out books and setting up a study area, but Ev was still a bit focused on their third wheel. (Wasn’t a date, stop calling her a third wheel, Cantrell). Gently he reached out and patted her head, just the once, just enough to serve as proof. “And she’s real. She’s a real infant.”

 

Taking a seat in the nearest desk, Ev just continued to hold his flowers, finding it a bit weird to see how comfortable Clayton was with toting around a baby. Didn’t girls usually prefer to take care of babies?

 

“Oh, that sounds like a good plan instead of just rushing in to it.” That always tended to backfire. *coughLevicorpuscough* “How are you at the mending charm? If you’re good at that, then maybe healing won’t be so hard?” Ev definitely hadn’t thought of that on the fly; he had a few questions prepared so he didn’t look stupid.

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"Merci," The french boy said, seeming to like the flowers. Clayton was lucky that small first year walked in on him when he had been practicing the dark arts in one of the greenhouses. Hazel had helped him chat all about flowers and Clayton used this meeting with Everly to act as a distraction so the girl didn't go touching his flower to see he had cast the sharpening hex on the petals causing them to be razor sharp. He wouldn't know what to say if that girl looked up at him with wide eyes and bloodied fingers for touching his plant just to see it had been tainted by the dark arts.

 

He wouldn't be surprised if he was kicked out of school for it.

 

So instead, the male used Everly as a means to his ends. He twisted this study session into his excuse to spend an hour or two with the first year as he laughed along and complemented her nonstop. Term two was coming up fast, and Clayton was growing more anxious by the day. Now, he needed to find a way to help Everly teach him some healing magics in case anyone were to be hurt by Clayton's underground dark arts club next semester. After placing the giggling child down off to the side, the fourth year turned on his heel and decided to put all the attention he could onto the pale beauty.

 

"I feel like it might be my responsibility to find out which muggle Gawkrodger had stolen this poor child from." Clayton said shaking his head. "He's off his rocker. Tch." He muttered, a noise of disappointment leaving his lips in a heavy sigh.

 

"But yes I..." He turned to glance towards Everly as he lifted his wand, glancing at the bone coloured wand. "The mending charm..." And then Clayton had to be honest with this boy. "I've to admit, darling. Prior to coming to Hogwarts I hadn't been taught many subjects Hogwarts covered. I actually was studying some beginner level psychological magics and—" dark arts. Though Clayton wasn't stupid enough to say that. "—I was actually quite involved in a different type of dueling that Hogwarts doesn't use." Clayton stringed the sentence together without missing a beat, trying to deceive Everly like he did to everyone else.

 

"I'm a bit behind in subjects like charms and transfiguration. I'm... Awful at them." He chuckled. "I know healing probably isn't taught here too and it's not something I should be focusing on this much but... I don't know. School just doesn't interest me much, I suppose. Would you mind taking some time to teach me the mending charm before we continue on with the reading sections?"

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“Gossip says he’s always been off his rocker,” Everly commented with a shrug and small smile of embarrassment; as if a second year would know anything important about their interim headmaster.

 

Focus didn’t last long on the headmaster or the infant chewing on her shirtsleeve. To quickly distract himself from making a disgusted face, Everly looked to something attractive, the white and blue flowers still held reverently in his hands, and of course, the older Slytherin across from him. This all still felt like a dream, but in a dream he could never capture the intricate details of the white wand Clayton was holding, with its many grooves, so artfully carved to resemble…a…a…skeleton? No, Everly’s imagination could never had created a wand that looked like that.

 

A yes or no to his mending charm inquiry would have been too easy. Instead, Everly felt he was being imparted with information unlikely told to others. His grip on the bouquet stems tightened at being called darling again as he schooled his face and nodded imperceptibly to show he was listening. Appreciative instead of offended of how delicate Clayton was being with his words, Everly found himself smiling in return to Clayton’s chuckles.

 

“You can say it, you know…with me,” Everly remarked as he gently laid down the flowers, using the moment to stall while his mind madly scrambled to think of something to mend. “You can say dark arts in front of me.  And yes, of course, I’ll show you…” Leaning over the table slightly, Everly accidentally met Clayton’s eyes as he pulled one of the books closer. Merlin….. “Uh, this should do…” he murmured while opening the book to a random page and just ripped the page from its bindings. Withdrawing his dogwood, he pointed to the page. ”Reparo,” he commanded the page to be magically sown back into place.

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Clayton paused, his face absolutely caught off guard the way Everly tried to bring up dark arts with him as though it was... Okay. Atticus had stuffed it in Clayton's head so many times now. So heavily. Don't speak about the things that happen in the basement. He learned it at a young age, taught not to question or wander down there. Don't speak to your fans about your father. He was never allowed to so much as mention he had a father during interviews of conversations with people. Don't speak about what you've been learning with me. Dark arts. Of course it was dark arts.

 

Why did Clayton have to invite one of the brightest second years to learn about this with him?

 

Everly seemed to try and brush over it, already moving onto the mending charm before Clayton could properly respond to the first part. He might have been paying attention if he wasn't feeling an anxiety crippling over his each and every breath. "Hey," Clayton ignored the sheet of paper that had been mended back into it's rightful place. "Why would you say that?" Clayton pulled the book away from Everly, drawing it in towards his body and closing it as he made sure to cut eye contact with the second year.

 

This was important. Clayton needed to know what he's done wrong. He was already feeling terrified of just how receptive Everly was. "Dark arts." His sentences were chopped up, his thoughts clearly disorganized as he sharply brought the subject back up, halting everything they were there for. "Why would you say about dark arts?"

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Fascinated by his own magic, Ev watched each stitch weave in and out, securing the page he’d assaulted into its rightful place. Had they done this in the library, surely the horror of a hundred Ravenclaws would have cried out at once. The mental image was somewhat amusing, and his lips started to lift at the corner.

 

Suddenly all humour and all satisfaction in his spellwork was lost at how Clayton pulled the book back. “Why would I…” he started to repeat, yet as he was momentarily lost as to what Clayton was referring, his voice reflected his confusion and couldn’t complete the question. His icy blues blinked owlishly at how the other Slytherin almost hugged the book Everly had just toyed with to prove he could mend something.

 

And then finally he got his answer. “Oh,” he breathed. “I’m sorry,” he immediately said out of instinct. Honestly, he meant his apology. There had been so many hints and rumors to the life Clayton had lived before coming back to Hogwarts. Everly hadn’t cared. He never cared if there was the possibility of a friend in the end. All of Killian’s harder sides and family history fell on blinded eyes and deafened ears; if Ev saw and heard it all would he still obsess over admire Killian as much as he did?  

 

“I…maybe I assumed…but…if I didn’t,” Everly felt his cheeks burning. “I want you to know I accept you for who you are…not your…beginner training in psychological magics.” Nervously he glanced at his flowers, ready to take them and bolt; he wouldn’t ever leave behind such a gift. “If I mucked this up…I’ll…I’ll go.

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Clayton's gaze didn't leave those bright blue orbs. He could taste the confusion dripping from Everly's aura from the expression alone. He was tense, desperately wanting the second year to explain how he knew. His hand was still clasped down over the book's cover tightly. Everly would have to put some serious man power in if he planned of prying it out from Clayton's weight anytime soon. the harder he leaned onto the book, the closer he leaned in towards Everly.

 

One could only imagine if the pressure was on as Everly struggled to get his thoughts together. “I…maybe I assumed…but…if I didn’t,”

 

"You did—" Clayton nearly whispered the beginning of a sentence when he quickly cut himself off realizing Everly was about to puke out a proper sentence for once.

 

"I want you to know I accept you for who you are…not your…beginner training in psychological magics.”

 

Clayton's mouth dropped slightly, very delicately searching for a word or sound that could fill the void. With that one word Everly found a way to transport the both of them into a whole new place. Keeping his eyes on the exits and entrances to the room didn't matter. “If I mucked this up…I’ll…I’ll go." Everly said it as though it was already decided.

 

The fourth year's hand shot out, releasing the book from the tight hold he had on it. Instead, Clayton reached out sternly taking hold of Everly's arm. He couldn't even begin to think of something to say, but couldn't possibly find another way to express he wanted the other boy to stay. What was the right thing to say in this situation? Everly knew him. He knew everything. Clayton had never felt so vulnerable since coming to the school and here someone was telling him that he was accepted. That he wasn't a monster. That he wasn't evil. Clayton bit down on his bottom lip, nicking a small piece of skin against the fake fang in his mouth, then finally managed his own bundle of word vomit.

 

"... Stay."

 

He plopped back down in his seat, quietly re-opening the book as though voicing that one word was what brought him back to reality. Clayton tore a page from the book and placed it down in front of Everly. "Sorry. I'm ready to watch it properly this time."

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