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Silas Harding-Clarke

I see but deep within is utter blindness

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Silas Harding-Clarke

Silas gathered his shower supplies even though he knew he didn't need most of them in the prefect's bathroom, which was always equipped with all manner of soaps, shampoos, fresh towels and other linens. The end of year exams were upon them but for once, he was not fixated on grades and studies. In fact, try as he might, he was unable to focus on schoolwork at all. Even his independent studies in legilimency were suffering.

 

Partially he was frustrated and bamboozled by his own sudden inability to focus, but realistically, he knew exactly what the problem was. The conversation he'd had with Addison on the midway in a Florida theme park had left him feeling both hopeful yet unsure and anxious. He didn't want to open himself up to rejection again--not from her. Do your worst, she'd said. 

 

"Right," he muttered to himself, also issuing the password for the prefect's bathroom. The door actually didn't respond as it normally did, but he was too lost in thought to notice that it was being opened by a person instead of magic and so he nearly body-checked a freshly showered Irene as she pulled the door open. "Oh, snitch," Silas said, dropping most of his stuff automatically to instead place his hands on Irene's upper arms to steady both her and himself. She had a towel wrapped around her dark hair and smelled like something sweet.

 

"Sorry," he said, looking back over his shoulder in confusion. "The password.. I mean, I didn't realize someone was here."

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Irene Redgrave

End of terms were always stressful. This year Irene was trying to get every opportunity in to make a good impression before the Headmaster decided on his Head Girl pick for next year. Additionally she had decided to take apparition this year, instead of coupling it with her NEWT exams and practical magic had never been her strong suit.

 

The stress of trying not to magically splice herself into multiple pieces was Large. Then she had also gotten knocked out of the dueling tournament and her team had not won the Quidditch cup. Stress of success was piling up on her tiny shoulders.

 

What Irene really needed was a steam. The locker room showers were unfortunately usually occupied by the team's captains and their respective beaus and belles looking for privacy before the year was over - and no amount of stress in the world could make her possibly barge in on Kirk and Reid having personal time.

 

She shuddered at the thought. Instead she'd done what any self-respecting 6th about to 7th year prefect would do - she went and threatened to hex anyone in the prefect's bathroom so she could use it herself in private.  Given the large amounts of water in the place - Irene's smiting hex was not to be trifled with. She had the showers to herself.

 

After a long steam and once she felt relatively human again, Irene re-robed and used a very expensive cream to try and make herself feel as fully pampered as possible. It was the only way she'd ever face her divination notes again. Really there was no possible way that subject was ACTUALLY useful, Irene was absolutely convinced.

 

She assumed it was her distracted thoughts which caused her to almost run into someone else coming into the shower. Except... she was still in it. And she'd recognize the hands that steadied her anywhere.

 

"S'fine," she chuckled as little containers hit the floor. "Hoarding supplies, Clarke?" Her own hands had come up to hold onto his arms and she patted him to let him know she was fine. "I'm finished, come on in." She stepped back into the room to help scoop up soaps as they rolled away.

 

Of course the first time she bent over her towel came loose and dark wet curls slapped her in the face. "Ugh." She dropped the towel in a basket and it magically disappeared. One of her hands came up to shake at her loose hair. And the other juggled soaps as she brought them back to Silas near the door.

 

"I might have used all the hot water in the steam." For the first time she looked up at grey eyes and saw an unusual level of consideration and... suspicion?

 

"Silas? Is everything ok?"

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Silas Harding-Clarke

Silas watched as Irene's towel-wrapped hair fell free of its bindings to swing around her face, the damp curls causing the sweet smell he'd been unable to identify to intensify. It was only when she asked him if everything was okay that he realized he hadn't moved from his initial position inside the doorway and she had stopped to collect his things and he'd just been.. Well, staring. And apparently frowning, if the sudden release of pressure from his forehead was any indication.

 

He gave a shake of his head as if to clear it and offered an apologetic smile. "Yeah, sorry, I'm fine," he said as she stacked his things back into his arms. After a pause, however, he said somewhat haltingly, "Actually, I -- I heard about you and Tobias." It wasn't that he was angry with Irene, at all-- how could he be? They'd never promised one another anything, and though he'd been nearly obsessed with her and her wellbeing since her mother had passed away, he'd removed his own feelings from the equation because it had just seemed like it would be easier (on both of them) than dealing with them.

 

No, it was that his best mate had pursued Silas's ex--his only ex, where Toby had many-- without even running it by him, that troubled him. Toby, who always got mad at Silas for not telling him things, stupid things, like kissing Columbia. "I guess I just wanted to let you know that I knew," he said a bit lamely, "so that you wouldn't have to feel weird about it or.. Obligated to hide it from me, or something." Not that it was any of his business what Irene did or who she liked, but she'd made him promise not to abandon her again and so he was trying to keep that vow in good faith.

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Irene Redgrave

...You and Tobias.

 

Irene blinked uncomprehendingly at Silas for a moment before she gave an unladylike snort. "Ohkay." He'd said it like they were a Thing, like he'd heard some grand secret and they were off having trysts. He didn't seem happy about it. It's not like she could fault him for being concerned over his ex and his best friend - hadn't she had similar misgivings when Addison had spoke of her feelings for Silas under the duress of her potion sickness?

 

Her hands went into her pockets for lack of other engaging activity and she rocked back on her slippered heels. With her tongue half dug into her cheek she shrugged with mischievous eyes, "Do you wanna talk about it?" Of course she couldn't read minds, she didn't know why in particular he seemed at the least inconvenienced by whatever rumor he'd heard - most likely that Toby had asked Irene out during their tournament duel. #what-is-the-opposite-of-romance. But the idea that some part of him might echoed her own discomfort about the other one of them dating served to soothe her lady pride.

 

The way he looked at Addison now, Irene could tell herself she was happy if her friends were happy. In fact she'd wished Addie luck when she'd realized her best friend had long standing feelings for Silas. But faced with the reality of both of them together Irene had found a tiny part of her still saying - no, that was mine. It wasn't clear yet whether she was jealous of the relationship and those implications for her own past given the timing of everything or whether she was jealous of Silas' feelings.

 

"I don't think this was covered in the whole - we promise to always be there for each other thing." One of her hands emerged and curled her pinky in the air, a reminder of their promise to each other. "But I meant it. You can always talk to me." Her glib tone faded into a genuine smile of reassurance.

 

"For the record," Irene thought standing weirdly was ... well.. weird so she reached for his arm that wasn't cradling soap and pulled him to sit on a bench behind them. Their arms linked in a casual, familiar way that she'd always know blindfolded. "There's no 'Toby and I'." She smiled in casual dismissal, "He says he likes me though - so you know, thanks for the heads up," she chuckled. Of course Irene assumed Silas would know that his best friend had entertained feelings for herself- shouldn't he know these things?

 

Her head tilted to the side to catch a glimpse of his face. Silas could be a stone cold wall if he wanted to be- but she didn't want to spill her girl talk all over him if he didn't want to hear it. Despite the fact that she sorely needed someone to talk to.

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Silas Harding-Clarke

"Do you wanna talk about it?"

 

"No," he said, a bit abruptly. Whether she and his roommate dated was her own business, but he definitely did not want to have to hear about it. Irene held out her pinky finger and Silas lowered his eyes to the floor. He did always want to be there for her... he cared deeply about Irene and her happiness, regardless of what role he played in it. He thought he had made that clear the previous summer when she'd lost her mother. He would have done anything for her, if it would even have helped the smallest iota.

 

"You can always talk to me."

 

"I'm trying to be better about it," he said ruefully, and it really was true. Starting with Grace, who loved him no matter how much of a butt he was being, he had begun to open up more frequently, and it was trickling down to his other friends and relationships, though he was still cautious about what he shared, and when. It was still more and better than nothing... at least, he hoped.

 

"For the record, there's no 'Toby and I'."

 

"Oh," Silas said, but before he had any time to really digest that, Irene was ribbing him for not giving her a warning that Toby liked her. "You think knew?" he retorted. "As if. I think I was the last person to know. Actually.." he turned to face her, bringing one leg up on to the bench, the other foot still planted on the floor. "Kaelyn told me, by accident. I guess I kind of had a... moment... about it." He realized how that sounded and quickly held his hands up. "I mean, not that it's not allowed, or that you can't do whatever, I just--"

 

He sighed, suddenly more interested in the texture of Irene's terrycloth robe than looking her in the eye. "I was pretty pissed off he hadn't, I dunno, asked me if it was cool, before casually asking out the only girl I ever.." he caught himself, but probably not fast enough. Silas rubbed his eyes with his fingers, distorting his face a little with the pressure of the squeezing. "Dated."

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Irene Redgrave

The fact that he'd had a reaction at all to the idea of Toby stirred something in her. Maybe he's not immune either. It was a small validation she treasured regardless of its truth. Meanwhile she had the urge to make a biting retort about all the people Kaelyn 'talks' to but swallowed it. Apparently she talked to Everyone about Everything, or maybe she just talked to everyone about Irene. How annoying.
  

He had turned so she did as well, she tucked one ankle behind the other in a habitual ladylike sitting pose she assumed without thought though it was handy for times like now where her attire consisted of a bathrobe.  

  
"Well to be fair," Irene blew a piece of damp hair out of her face, "I'm not sure he really knew either." She gave a less than genuine laugh and muttered, "He definitely didn't mean to ask me out in the middle of our tournament duel. He took it back immediately." How sad it was: the only date request she'd ever gotten was a joke and a mistake.

  

 "...before casually asking out the only girl I ever.... .... ... Dated." 

  

She heard the word he couldn't say and chalked up his hesitation to an attempt to spare her feelings. She'd once made him promise not to lie to her. So he couldn't say now with the wisdom of hindsight that he'd loved her. It wasn't a surprise anymore, it didn't cut as deep even hearing him struggle with it.

  

She saw his gesture because she didn't need to avert her eyes, not from him. Irene had grown up a lot in the last year and felt she was coming to accept what she saw as her lot in life. For a long time she had wished a great many things about her relationship with Silas but she no longer had those wishes because she knew now that it wouldn't have mattered. She knew now about his past with Addison.

  

Her hand carefully took the one stabbing into his eyeballs and pulled it away from his face to hold loosely between them. She wanted to tell him the truth: that he didn't need to be evasive for her because she knew about his real feelings. He didn't need to cover them up. But she couldn't because she'd promised Addison.

  

"When I say that you can tell me things, I mean all the things. I wish you wouldn't censor yourself for me. I can take it, hell I'm lining up to take it." She shook his hand for emphasis with a laugh. If she'd had mind powers she would have projected right through his stubborn head. Treat me like a real friend.

 

"You have other people, I know." She shrugged but smiled, "But none like me." Perhaps with the exception of Columbia, Irene felt certain not a single person he knew was a dark and twisted inside as she was. She knew she could carry any burden he'd ever have because unlike all his other friends, she'd carried her own alone.

Edited by Irene Redgrave

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Silas Harding-Clarke

"I'm not sure he really knew either."

 

"I doubt that," Silas said with uncharacteristic flatness.

 

He was surprised by what she said next, primarily because... he didn't understand where it was coming from. He gazed back at her, puzzlement evident on his face. "What do you want to know?" he asked sincerely, trying to think of something interesting to tell her about. "You mean about all this crap with Toby? I really don't think he just blurted that out during your duel. Frankly, once I found out, a lot of things kind of clicked. Those flowers he gave you in Transfiguration after your mum passed," he said. At first, he'd picked up speed, talking animatedly, ready to steamroll her with evidence, but having to recount that her mother had passed away slowed him down and he turned his head away.

 

"He was so.. I don't know, annoyed, how much I worried about you. And now this. And Kaelyn is a damn mess," he said bitterly, remembering how she basically reacted like a heap of dirty laundry to his insistence that she stop protecting Toby and grow a spine. "I don't know what Toby wants, and I don't think I want to find out."

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Irene Redgrave

"What do you want to know?"  The same thing as always, Irene thought first but then realized it wasn't true. The things she wanted to ask, that Addison prevented her from asking were also things she was afraid to have the answer to. 

 

So she brushed aside the question ruefully as Silas went on and on about Toby. A couple of times her mouth opened to say something but closed again as his litany of evidence continued. She let what he said settle into the back of her mind for later examination but smiled when he ran out of steam.

 

"...But... you don't want to talk about it." The smile lifted higher on one side.

 

"So new topic then!" Irene laughed, happy as he was to talk about Not Toby. Irene paused and swung their joined hands in unconscious movement because she was always doing something with her hands. She let go and folded her hands in her lap to still them when she realized what she'd been doing.

 

"There's... Well, I mean..." Irene immediately began trying to talk herself out of the question It doesn't matter now. "I guess I keep smothering you with my intent to be a good friend to you because ... you're still my best friend, like family, and I just... it's not something I have a lot of so, even though I know you're closer to other people than me I'm not closer to other people than you." She was rambling. She knew she wasn't making any sense.

 

"And it's not your fault really, but I sort of take it personally when you don't seem to even consider me." And I'm not sure how much of that is based on the fact that I will always feel slightly proprietary where you are concerned. "So I guess I reactively try to shove my caring down your throat." So that someday you'll think to pick me.

 

She shrugged with a self-depreciating half-smile-half-frown and wondered if anything she said had made any sense to Silas. Probably not. He was a male.

 

Irene almost had the feeling that she'd blacked out somewhere along the way. The ability to recall what she had just immediately said vanished.

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Silas Harding-Clarke

Irene took his hand and Silas didn't think anything of it, because he really loved and cared for Irene and it seemed second nature for her to indulge in that sort of closeness. It was only when she dropped her hand away abruptly that it dawned on him that she'd been holding his hand, and now the absence was apparent. He curled his fingers a little bit, reflexively, filling the space. 

 

When he asked what she wanted to know about, he didn't really anticipate the stream of consciousness that followed. It wasn't even a list of things that she wanted to know--it was a list of feelings. Feelings that he had never known existed. He'd thought he had been the one shoving his friendship down her throat--showing up at her house uninvited because he had an inkling that something was wrong.

 

"When I don't consider you?" he echoed softly. So many words, and so few of them made sense to him... It was like he saw smoke in the forest and was trying to find the source, the fire that was giving off such a reaction, but no matter how he searched he couldn't find the beginning. Meanwhile, the sky turned black with all the haze. Silas felt lost in utter confusion, and as he looked into Irene's sharp green eyes he felt the foreign desire to do something he had never considered before: using Legilimency for selfish reasons.

 

Instead, he lowered his eyes again and took the hand she had dropped in both of his hands. "I do consider you, I worry about you all the time," he said.

 

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Irene Redgrave

She knew it. She wasn't making any sense. Her eyes were averted but her face was sad, resigned, focused on their hands as he took hers. How could she possibly articulate that it was nice and sweet that he worried about her and she didn't want him to stop caring about her - she wanted to be treated like all his other friends: an equal- valued for their potential to contribute to his life and goals, rather than a broken doll in need of supervision? She felt like a second class citizen in his life. She couldn't say that and not sound insane. She couldn't ask that of him and not sound ungrateful for the emotions he did give her. She couldn't force feelings that didn't exist.

 

"Never mind," she sighed and tried to smile, "I'm just being a girl." Irene leaned towards him and brushed his cheek with her lips. "You've gotta be used to girls making no sense by now." Her feelings were her own problem. She couldn't and shouldn't try to force herself in his space. Tampered down and of no consequence to anyone else, that was the box her feelings belonged in. Irene would shove them in that box if it killed her.

 

"You probably want to shower or whatever, I can leave you to it." But she didn't get up because he still had her hand. And she didn't want to leave because she felt like this was an important precipice. Something inside Irene told her that how she left this room could affect the rest of her life.

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Silas Harding-Clarke

She dismissed him and her face fell, visibly. Silas didn't realize it, but his face fell too, when he saw how disappointed she was. Instead of listening to what she was saying now, he tried to recall what she had said mere minutes ago. That he could tell her anything.. that she was lining up to take it. That had to mean she was expecting some kind of bad news, didn't it? Silas's brow furrowed in a frown as he tried to think of some bad news he might have for Irene.

 

You have other people, I know, she'd said. But none like me.

 

Other people to talk to, Silas thought, the pieces finally clicking. Had Grace maybe told Irene some of what he'd been working on? Did she already know? Was she trying to get him to tell her in his own words so that it could be shared knowledge between them and she wouldn't have to suffer pretending not knowing? He couldn't imagine Grace having any reason to talk to Irene about much of anything, much less what was probably his greatest secret.

 

But that also didn't seem like something she was lining up to take.

 

Silas lifted his head finally, searching her face for clues, and answers, resisting the powerful urge to whisper the word that would act as a key to unlock all the solutions to her riddles. But that would be too simple--he was going to have to do it the way normal people did. By communicating. "Are you talking about Addison?" he said quietly. 

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Irene Redgrave

The silence went on for a moment. Then another. Irene was about to get up and walk away when he finally spoke.

 

Her brow lifted. His question had come seemingly out of context. She'd offered to leave and he'd asked her about Addison... he'd been lost in his own thoughts. Her lips pursed in resigned amusement, who knows what he'd even heard her say - could have been everything or nothing. When Silas got contemplative he zeroed into his own mind, like it was a separate space from the real world and nothing would touch him.

 

She made a comedically dramatic show of looking around. Her stomach squeezed at the promise she'd made Addison. "I," she drug out the single word and pointed to herself, "Am not talking about anyone." She glanced back expectantly at him. "But you are free to talk about anyone or anything you like." Finishing carefully and going back over her words she was positive that she hadn't done anything wrong. Though she might have implied she wasn't free to talk about certain things.. he might be distracted enough to not pick up on it.

 

There was a feeling in the pit of her stomach though. It was similar to what she'd felt at all of Addison's confessions, like her body knew on some molecular level that she wasn't going to like what came next. In her mind was a picture of Addison grabbing Silas by the hand to drag him in an arcade on the last charms trip.

 

"Do you want to talk about Addison?" Or Anything Else. At All. Stop. You're a dutiful friend. He cared about her when she was sad. She would care about him when he was ... whatever he was. Her face was soft and unassuming. She would sit here as long as he needed her whatever it cost her. Whether he liked it or not, whether he cared or noticed or not, he was her person. Irene would give him anything.

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Silas Harding-Clarke

Irene looked both ways like a cartoon character checking both sides of the street before getting hit by an anvil that fell out of the sky. It was clear she felt like she couldn't talk about Addison. But why? Silas suddenly felt a little bit sick, remembering how the tournament had ended and the summer that followed, where she bid him goodbye and bequeathed him with her wand.

 

He was glad Irene hadn't been in the stands to see him at his worst, with the oil-like film of internal filth rising to the top of his person and floating on the surface instead of buried beneath where it belonged. To see him systematically remove the threats one by one, using their soft spots as bait. He was capable of such disgusting things, and it only took the flip of a switch to activate it.

 

"No, not particularly, I guess," Silas said the words slowly like he was sifting through pebbles in wet sand. "You just said you were lining up to take whatever I have to say.. I assume you were expecting me to say something bad." He sighed. "But now that I'm thinking about it, I did do something bad, Irene. In the tournament last year, something bit me, and I.. Well. I sabotaged Reid, and Grace, and Addison. I would've taken down Margie, too, if it had come down to it." He was depressed just saying the words. Margie! His little darling sith baby

 

"What made it worse was, like... I used knowledge I had as me. Of what mattered to each person or if they trusted me or loved me. It would've been better if I'd just lost my ##### entirely, hexing people and foaming at the mouth. At least then someone could've identified me as the threat and taken me out."

 

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Irene Redgrave

She listened, curious and then resigned. And anything you say to me about Addison would feel bad. Irene accepted the unspoken words for what they were. It was enough for him to imply it and then it was just out there ambiguously without either of them having to acknowledging it but both of them knew the other knew. It was as much of a confidence as he'd ever given her. She nodded in understanding and acknowledgement. It would always hurt a little bit but they were growing up. As she'd learned repeatedly, pain was just part of the package.

 

Actually she hadn't necessarily meant he had to tell her bad things - she just would always step up first to shoulder any burden he had. There wasn't a moment to clarify though, he'd started talking about the tournament of champions. A curious change of subject though Addison had been there too - Addison was at every pivotal moment in Silas' life it seemed.

 

They'd had to watch various tapes in defense class and Irene had been sent updates of various things by Columbia when she hadn't attended the third task. Though those were more along the lines of - O m g , wish you were here Reenie, Reid just lost his shirt! - rather than useful information.

 

Irene sat quietly while Silas spilled what was clearly a disturbing memory for him. She wanted to reach out to him but didn't think he'd welcome the contact. She had dark moments herself and folded into herself when they came about - it felt safer somehow to put up a wall and make that piece of her separate from anything anyone saw. Not because she feared judgment really but it just shouldn't touch anyone else. Though this wasn't about what she felt - she wanted to afford him the same courtesy. If he wanted her comfort he would let her know, she wouldn't invade his space unwanted anymore.

 

He stopped talking but didn't ask any questions. She didn't know if he was looking for absolution or understanding. "Magical effects tend to release holds we put on ourselves in various areas." She said quietly. It was like that with spells and plants - if she were hit with something or infected with a toxin, it could only work with what was already there - break down the synapses in your brain that restricted things like rage, or terror, inhibitions, or histamines. Magical animal bites probably worked the same way.

 

"It sounds like you experienced part of yourself that... worries you." She almost said 'disgusts' but she didn't want him to think she was judging. After all, I've been there. She thought and had a flashing memory of the sick satisfaction she felt every time she knew a knife and it landed solidly in a target, scarring it, ruining it. At her will.

 

"Does it disappoint you more that you've been made to face it... or that other people saw it?" She wondered, knowing her own darkness was private. The worst thing she'd ever done in front of anyone was "Accidentally" stupefy Jake Morent down some stairs. She didn't think about how she'd casually acknowledged this aspect of Silas - as if she weren't shocked he could be ruthless or dangerous or cruel. She wasn't. Irene and Silas were not very different in many respects. The difference here was she kept hers in a little box and tucked away, and his had been ripped open, exposed. 

Edited by Irene Redgrave

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Silas Harding-Clarke

"It sounds like you experienced part of yourself that... worries you."

 

Was that true, Silas wondered? Did it worry him, or shame him? He'd always had some level of uncharitable, judgmental thoughts, although in recent years they'd quieted a little bit, or become less incisive at least. But that was part of being a person--of having the superego, that part of you that governed the id (feed me) and the ego (me me me). The part that knew right from wrong. But the bug venom had not only removed his inhibitions, it had changed him; he had even taken delight, in that form, at doing horrible things. He was pretty sure that had been borne entirely of the toxin. He'd never taken pleasure in being cruel to someone before.. not that he could remember.

 

"Does it disappoint you more that you've been made to face it... or that other people saw it?"

 

That was easy. When Addison had briefly talked him down, gotten into his mind--his real mind--with her words, it had been by saying everyone is watching. She probably hadn't meant it the way he heard it. That everyone was seeing his worst. That he was making a spectacle--something he hated to do. But that had been enough for him to wrest control away from the dark side of him that had come to the fore, long enough for Addison to pull him from the pillar and to the safety of obscurity while the rest of the school watched Margie engage in a slap fight with Seeley.

 

Even though it was easy, he waited a beat before responding, because admitting it to Irene was shameful too. "What do you think?" he said wryly. "I can handle my own thoughts, my own disappointments, the things that I don't pride in myself. I can manage all that." He exhaled. "I'm never going to lose control of myself like that again."

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Irene Redgrave

What did Irene think? Irene thought that Silas would never quite have the same level of dependency issues that she did - he would care what other people saw of him to the level of it affecting the way they respect or defer to his 'better judgment' in a situation, but he would be more upset with himself for not having overcome it in the first place.

 

What was more surprising to Irene was his insistence that he could handle all the bad things about himself. As if he thought there were some massive grocery list of flaws he worked to better on a daily basis.

 

"Mmm." She made a non-committal noise and tapped her fingers unconsciously in a random pattern on her leg. Never was a strong word, one Irene tried not to use in her attempts to be better prepared for any potential outcome in a situation. Especially when it was something like this - but Silas was a confident person. A talented wizard. If there were a person she would not say something's impossible about; it would definitely be him.

 

She scooted a little closer and lowered her voice a touch.

 

"Probably wouldn't hurt if you uh... had some help though." The words were cautious, testing. "I remember writing all those essays for Professor Foster awhile ago." Essays plural, of course, because Irene did the homework of any number of Slytherin Quidditch players. A fact Silas had been aware of since she'd made the Slytherin team as 'team tutor' her first year.

 

"Occulmency, even if you don't like full on study it as an extra subject... just the exercising and practice strengthen your mind. Surely if the bonds between all your neurological responses are stronger, preferably with magic, but even at all..." she sifted through her memories of the subject and extrapolated her own potential applications, "You could build up a resistance to magical creature toxins just like any other form of coercion. There are creature based ingredience in Veritaserum, for example. It's all gotta process the same way." Her fingers had moved up to tap against her lips as she worked it all out.

 

"I could re-pull my research, though I'm sure your essay was fine. There are some good books on magical psychotropics. Perhaps there's more to be found on how to break them down. Couldn't hurt anyway, if you're interested?" She also hadn't picked an area for her NEWT level submission for potions next year - psychotropics sounded as good as any other, and would be interesting to try her hand at.

 

She turned her head and looked Silas in the eye, on some level looking for approval for her intellect but mostly to gauge his response to the idea in general. Professor Foster was a longtime acquaintance/family friend of Silas's family and she had been nothing but dismissive and cautionary in her descriptions of legilimency and occulmency - as if none of them should bother looking further into the subject. She wouldn't want to push him towards anything he might have to face Foster over.

Edited by Irene Redgrave

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Silas Harding-Clarke

"Probably wouldn't hurt if you uh... had some help though."

 

Silas didn't move from his spot on the bench, as Irene came closer, the scent of her hair curling over him in invisible, sweet scented tendrils. He tried not to breathe too deeply, although the impulse was there to smother himself in the fresh, comforting scent. He had wrapped himself in the coolness and the pleasantness of the aroma, and so while he didn't exactly jump when Irene said Occlumency, he was definitely a little bit startled. 

 

But then, as she espoused all the benefits of Occlumency and everything she had learned, Silas couldn't help a small, soft laugh. "My essay got me detention with Foster," he told her. "Are you sure you didn't get detention, too? Are you sure you aren't an Occlumens?" Silas let out a long breath. "I actually did start trying to study Occlumency," he said quietly. "But it was before that, and I obviously wasn't very good at it by then because I still did... all of the things I did."

 

Silas looked down at his hands, one cupped inside the other, face-up. "I would like to see your notes, actually. Any any cross-references you may have on those topics about Herbology." He knew how she studied. Knew she'd have colored tabs to remind her about the secondary applications in another subject. "Do you remember when I was spending a lot of time with Kaelyn?" 

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Irene Redgrave

Irene smiled at Silas' detention. "Of course not. No one notices me." The words were quiet, matter of fact, and true. Irene was just the type of person who didn't make a splash - she got top marks but not THE top marks, she had random skills but was never utilized or celebrated for them.

 

Whenever a bright light cut across a surface, there was a shadow that cast the light into stark relief. A person would invariably pick out the light and ignore the presence and importance of the shadow. Irene had come to realize she was the shadow. No one really cared what she did. Certainly not Professor Foster. "And I haven't practiced anything like that. You know me, I'm just an encyclopedia." Books, and cleverness. None of the important things.

 

Though of course he would have attempted it. Irene was both surprised and not at the shocking information that Silas would try magic so involved and mental. Something to close himself off further not from the world around him but the people in it. He hadn't needed her to tell him about Occulmency because he'd already pieced it together for himself.

 

She had been about to say something along the lines of try harder. But he asked her a favor and a question... and the question felt like a trap. Should Irene admit that she was always weirdly attuned to anytime Silas spent large quantities of time with any female? Probably not a good idea.

 

"Mmm." She was getting quite good at those noncommittal noises. If there was a career to be had in professional murmuring, Irene could be ideally suited. Her fingers twisted idly in her lap.

 

There were several thoughts going through her mind now - had he told Kaelyn about all this? Kae was the biggest gossip she knew, how could he trust her and not Irene? And if Kae knew then Toby probably knew... did everyone but her know?

 

Ruthlessly squashing down these insecure thoughts - Irene stayed quiet and let Silas say whatever he wanted to say. He was telling her now. That was enough.

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Silas Harding-Clarke

"Now that's just not true," Silas interrupted when Irene said nobody noticed her. He remembered once he had noticed Irene for the first time. And it felt like he never stopped. Even after they had split up, he searched every room for her, in every class his eyes gravitated toward her and often times his body followed, joining her for a quiet discussion on whether they were going to kidnap experimental plants, or whether she was okay after a portkey.

 

Silas would never not notice Irene when she was in a room. She had left a lasting impression.

 

And probably on Toby, as well, Silas thought a little bit bitterly, wondering how long Toby had really been interested in Irene, finding it impossible to believe that such an inclination had appeared out of thin air one day during a duel. He shook the thoughts off as Irene acknowledged his question in the affirmative, about having spent so much time with Kaelyn.

 

"After the attacks on the castle, she wanted to start studying ways to fight back. You know me, I'm not a duelist, so for me that was obviously.. books. And I came across it, then. Occlumency, the only known defense for the Imperius Curse..." He looked at her. "I felt like I had to have it. I had to do it." Silas blew out a breath, ruffling the hair on his forehead. "So, I'm working on that, still. Don't tell anyone, all right?" He gave her a pleading look. "I just... I know you hate secrets, but I feel like... it helps me. It helps me feel safe. I don't want everyone to know because then it belongs to them, too."

 

 

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Irene Redgrave

Her eyes rolled at his first words but like any Girl she let the unfinished compliment settle in around her. The light warm breeze that teases spring just before the final snow of winter comes. It appeased her and because she hadn't asked for or expected it, it warmed her all the more.

 

Of course he was learning it. The super dangerous magic they weren't supposed to have access to: ding ding, might as well have written a queue card for a car to pick up Silas at the airport of knowledge. Even his word choice "had" past tense, like he already had it in his tool belt of defenses. Irene smiled at both the arrogance of the notion and the sure knowledge that Silas would indeed master it.

 

Then she wiped her face clean of emotion, "Tell anyone what?"  

 

"I don't think secrets are bad." Irene carefully corrected him. "Everyone has them. And I think that for you they might not be a burden, you find a place of strength and defense behind them. They're leverage you have that other people don't. Or a level of control you exert to protect yourself. I don't think I ever realized that before." Unlike my secrets...

 

Irene paused and shrugged, "When I don't tell someone something about me, I guess I always felt the opposite: It's something I don't want other people to carry or see. Sometimes I deem it necessary for the betterment of other people and sometimes it's to protect me but either way it sets me apart from other people. Like there's a distance now you can't cross. I don't really enjoy it. Hence why I guess I always remind you that you don't have to hold me off that way if you don't want to. I wont take it as personally when you need to."

 

She looked Silas over with a critical eye, reaching out and turning his shoulders so his torso moved this way and that before cracking a smile again. "I don't see any bruises or lesions though. I think you have managed to survive letting this one out."  

 

Irene inexplicably felt lighter. Like he'd let a piece of himself belong to her - a secret he'd given to her and trusted her to keep safe. They really were friends and she wasn't just a bridge to Addison. Her pinky curled out in a familiar gesture. "I wont tell anyone. Always and forever."

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Silas Harding-Clarke

"Tell anyone what?"  

 

Silas raised an eyebrow at her; Irene was one of the worst liars he'd ever known, second possibly only to Grace (who had learned) and his youngest sister Tabitha, who had admittedly become less terrible as she'd gotten a little older, but she still had tells, like squirming like she was going to pee her pants. But even though an interrogator might know Irene was hiding something from him, he'd probably never know what. Though a bad liar, she was also capable of talking in circles better than anyone in possibly the world. 

 

"I don't think secrets are bad."

 

The teasing look melted away from his face and he looked at her with his face open and earnest. This had been the main source of miscommunication and grief in their relationship, and he was willing to learn what mistakes had been made and how he could relate to her better in the future. But instead, she surprised him-- she saw it his way, instead, if only briefly, if only a cursory glance through a neighbor's window. She reached out and manipulated his posture like a ventriloquism puppet and then smiled, teasing him about sharing with her. 

 

"It doesn't happen at the telling, the danger is in the keeping," he said with a faint smile. "It's up to you to keep it--me--safe now."

 

She offered him her pinky in promise, and he hooked his around hers without hesitation.

 

"Thank you, Irene."

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