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Dale McQueen-Trengrove

There are cracks in the mirror as we stare broken and abused

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Dale McQueen-Trengrove

Two days before the start of the Christmas holidays

 

His face was hidden in the hood that he wore so that he would pass through the halls of Hogwarts without a second glance. No one seemed to pay the hulking first year much mind as he made his way through the throngs of people following the morning meal. Even though he was finally out of the hospital wing Dale still hadn't often gone past the common room. He would often sit in there and read, with the book covering up most of his face as he did so. 

 

The new rules with them having to be escorted everywhere with a buddy had made things worse. There was no way he wanted to go anywhere with anyone. It was too painful and it was easier to just avoid it. 

 

He just wanted to be left alone. 

 

And that was impossible today with the end of the term coming up and his fellow students studying. Life, despite everything, had gone on. Hogwarts was still not normal - the new rules indicated as much - but it had returned somewhat to a state of existence in that students had gone back to classes and professors had resumed their lessons. Dale had skipped all of that, not able to subject anyone to his face.

 

He told himself that he was doing it for them, to save everyone from the reminder of the attack that was all over his face now. But in reality, he was doing it for himself. He couldn't bear the stares. It was bad enough the way Jack had stared at him and he just couldn't take it. 

 

Dale stumbled over to an unfamiliar place in his search to be alone. The bathroom looked desolate and empty -- in short, it was perfect. The first thing he noticed was the mirrors on the wall and Dale tried to avoid them at first. He sat down with his back to them as he tried to read the book that he brought with him. A few pages went by without incident. But he still couldn't help but think about it. 

 

It being his face. Dale stood up, brushing off his robes which had gotten a little bit dusty from sitting on the floor. He stood there, looking at the mirror with his hood up, hiding parts of his face. Hands shaking, he pushed the hood off of his head and then stared at himself for a good long while. It was probably the first time that he was truly taking in what had happened. Before he had barely been able to go seconds without needing to turn away -- or worse, puke. His face was pale as he looked at himself, hands on both sides of the sink. 

 

And then for the first time since this had happened, he allowed himself to cry. The tears rolled out, streaming down along his face, as reality finally set in. 

 

There was no going back. His face would be that way --

 

Forever. 

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Richard Stafford

One would think that Ringo had learned from his previous experiences with the staircases to expect their ever shifting nature, but, apparently, he was nothing if not a slow learner. He could hardly be blamed, though. With the end of term steadily approaching, and exams steadily approaching with it, he needed a place to get himself in the studying mindset. Transfiguration was the one class Ringo knew he’d have a hard time with and, attack or no attack, Professor Knaggs wasn’t too keen on grading students lightly. He’d studied earlier in the year with Jacquetta, but that had ended in a fiery disaster that hadn’t brought him any closer to actually getting a grip on Transfiguration.

 

So, when the staircases jostled and moved, Ringo groaned, but otherwise did nothing because... well, what was there for him to do? He couldn’t stop it. At least now he could search for a quiet, desolate area for him to practice (and, truthfully, fail) Transfiguration in peace. He quickly found himself in a familiar part of the school that he’d been sent to when he was in a wholly different emergency. Memories of a time when all he worried about was his too full bladder came to mind, and he sighed wistfully. That would never be the case for him anymore. He’d been too changed by trauma now to ever be the sort of person who regarded instances like that with the same air of carelessness as he once did. But, still, a quiet space was a quiet space, and he couldn’t hear the sound of singing like he did before when he’d stumbled upon Harper that day that, now, seemed too far away to have only been a few months ago.

 

His feet led him on the path to the girls’ loo, his wand clutched in one hand and his Transfiguration notes in the other. He stilled, however, at the sight of another person. This was a recurring theme, it seemed. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know anyone would be up here.”

 

But the person before him wasn’t a girl like he’d initially believed. From the reflection in the mirror, he could see the scarred face of Dale. Ringo gasped at the sight of Dale’s face, then mentally scolded himself for having such a reaction. He hadn’t seen Dale since the night of the attacks, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out that Dale was intentionally avoiding everyone, and for good reason. The scars on his face weren’t pretty, in every sense of the word. “How have you been?” How has he been? Was that really the best he could come up with? “I mean... I’m sorry.”

 

Ringo stepped closer to Dale, careful not to stare at his face. “I’m so sorry, mate.”

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Dale McQueen-Trengrove

Dale's hands were still gripped tightly around the sink when he heard something. A voice. Crap. The tears were still dripping down his face and he quickly wiped them away with his hand hoping that whoever it was hadn't seen him crying. And then he realized that it was Ringo's voice who he had heard. 

 

Ringo who he had not seen since that night. 

 

Dale had vague memories of the boy screaming but he had been unconscious and couldn't remember anything very clearly other than the face of the wolf -- the one that had swiped at his face. The rest of the night blurred, most of the memories hazy and on the edges of his mind save for the other moment when he had told them all to leave him.  Now though Ringo was coming and telling him that he was sorry. 

 

Sorry for what? His face? 

 

The tough exterior that had always formed to block out the inner demons quickly snapped into place as he wanted nothing more than to be left alone. He hated the fact that Ringo possibly saw him crying. 

 

"Don't be," he snapped completely ignoring the question about how he was. "I don't need your pity." 

 

That was the last thing he wanted. For it to be made a bigger deal than it already was. He saw the stares. He knew. 

 

His face was wore the mark of the monster that brought them all the nightmares of the full moon. 

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Richard Stafford

Dale hadn’t been conscious for it, but when Ringo’s eyes landed on the sight of his body, pale and practically pouring blood, the Ravenclaw boy had immediately retched so hard it felt like his stomach would cave in on itself. Even after they’d all reached the safety (could that even truthfully be said anymore?) of the castle, even after Ringo’d gotten patched up and been cleared to leave, and even after he’d slid into his bed that night—the absence of his roommates adding insult to very real injury—with the lights left on, he still saw Dale’s body. Jack had assumed that Dale had been dead—he should’ve been dead a voice told Ringo; no way someone could lose that much blood and still be alive to stand before him—and Ringo’d been inclined to agree with his roommate. In fact, Ringo had secretly wished Dale had died, only because a life cut short would’ve been more of a mercy than what the Slytherin boy had to endure now.

 

When Ringo had first approached the girls’ loo, he’d been too far away to notice the sheen of tears making their way down Dale’s face. He was able to sneak a momentary glance once he’d stepped closer to the other boy, before Dale had wiped at his face to wipe away the tears. Ringo’s ma had always told him that it was wrong to stare at the injured and deformed—it made them feel like circus freaks on display, she said; and it was never nice to make someone feel like they were in a cage being poked at to perform a trick. Ringo usually disregarded her words when he openly gawked at Professor Hambledon and his half-goblin stature, but now he decided to heed his mum’s warning and not stare so openly at Dale. His face looked like a car crash scene that sucked you in and made you unable to disengage, but Ringo had to practice self-control in this instance.

 

His eyes flicked nervously around the washroom before they found a spot on the floor to settle on. He remembered that he still had his wand gripped in his hand and tucked it away for later, same with his Transfiguration notes. “Dale...” He started off slowly before stopping. He’d never been in this situation before. A bully-turned-friend (were they even friends now?) needed to be comforted and all he could do was shuffle awkwardly. “It’s not pity. I mean... it’s not intended to be pity.”

 

God, why wasn’t there a handbook for these sorts of conversations?

 

“I’m sorry about what happened to you because you didn’t deserve it. None of us did. And, also, I’m sorry about...” Dale was going to hate him for admitting this, but he had to get it off his chest. It’d been eating him alive since the attacks. “I’m sorry about thinking that you deserved what happened to you. At first, I mean. I was just so angry with you because you were a bully to me earlier. You gave me a bloody wedgie, Dale! So when I saw you get attacked, at first I thought you deserved it, ya know? That it was your karma, or whatever.” Ringo paused to allow Dale to digest everything he’d just been told, and also to give himself the chance to really think about his next words. “But then I saw you get attacked again and again and I... I-I just...” His bottom lip quivered and his voice shook slightly. “I’m so sorry, Dale. You didn’t deserve that.”

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Dale McQueen-Trengrove

Ringo was apologizing. And for far too long for Dale to like it. He didn't like where it was going one bit because he knew he wouldn't know what to say. He didn't want to re-live that night either and Ringo's words were putting him back in that place. He re-lived the night enough in his own nightmares. 

 

And the part where he thought he deserved it and then didn't somehow made things worse. He didn't know why but it did. Did anyone of them deserve it, no? The damage and all the pain had been caused by the werewolves. They had done this. To all of them. Before this, he had never really given werewolves any sort of thought at all. Now they were all he could think about. 

 

They showed up everywhere for him. He despised them. 

 

Some part of him wished that Julian had let him bleed out. Things might be better that way. Now he felt alone and like a freak, going up everywhere with his hood, talking to no one. Not even Julian who was his best mate. He wanted to do something against the werewolves but he was too weak to do it. He was nobody. A monster with a hideous face. 

 

The only saving grace was that he had not been bitten too. If he had, he would have definitely wanted Julian to let him die. He would have wanted all of them to let him die instead of becoming that 

 

After Ringo finally finished, Dale found himself giving a hallow laugh. 

 

"No one deserves this, Ringo. But thanks for apologizing, I guess." His voice rose a little as he continued on with his mini speech. "You think a little wedgie is anything compared to this? I gave you a freaking wedgie. This, this is permanent. So thanks." He turned back to the mirror that he had been staring at before Ringo had walked into the room. Catching the sight of his face as he did so wanted to make him vomit and cry at the same time. But he didn't want to do that here. Not now. Not with Ringo in the room. 

Edited by Dale McQueen-Trengrove

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Richard Stafford

Ringo hadn’t really known what he’d expected. He didn’t know what he wanted Dale to say in response or how he wanted Dale to physically react, but the edge in Dale’s voice definitely wasn’t he’d wanted. Even with his confession, Ringo wasn’t sure what he’d hoped to gain from exposing such a thing. He wanted to clear his conscience, that was for sure, because the thoughts had plagued him since he first witnessed his Slytherin counterpart getting attacked. The images of Dale being slashed through and through replayed like a video from an old video camera that his dad owned—the types that required rewinding the tapes all the way through when you wanted to go back to the beginning. It was horrid, and Ringo wanted to rid himself of the guilt that those images bore. So, in truth, his reasons for telling Dale had been entirely selfish, and he now stood in a weird spot where he didn’t know what to do with Dale’s ire.

 

He didn’t think it was directed at him, though. He wasn’t the one who put those permanent marks on Dale’s still youthful face.

 

“You’re right, it was just a wedgie,” Ringo admitted, staring at Dale’s face in the mirror. He would not back down—now was not the time. “But, Dale, you’ve gotta remember that this was before the attacks.” It was a hard thing to do—remembering the time before meant realizing how preventable all of this was, and it also meant opening up old wounds about how so many life plans had now either been destroyed entirely or sharply altered. “This was when we were still stupid kids who were more worried about getting in trouble with our parents. I was still holding on to a lot of dumb anger. So, when you first got attacked—back when everyone first thought the attacks were a joke—I thought they were only going to scratch you and leave it at that, ya know? Just scare you a bit.” Not that that would’ve been a better alternative, now that he said it out loud. “I didn’t expect for them to... ya know.”

 

He began to tap his foot restlessly and his face turned bright red with embarrassment at what he was admitting to. He hated how easily he became flushed. “This is more permanent, though—you’re absolutely right. I—I just need you to say you’re able to forgive me for... for what I thought at first.”

 

If you don’t, my conscience will eat me alive.

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Dale McQueen-Trengrove

He wished Ringo would've stopped at it was before the attacks. Maybe then he might find the heart to forgive him. But no, Ringo kept going. And the more he talked, the more Dale could not believe what he was saying. "You bloody thought the attacks were a JOKE?" he bellowed suddenly, turning away from the mirror at last to look Ringo directly in the face, scars and all.

 

Every word out of Ringo's mouth only wanted to make Dale punch the Ravenclaw boy more. "Oh werewolves were just going to scratch us all and LEAVE? They're werewolves, Ringo. They're not some stupid dog or cat. And they were dangerous." 

 

And he hated them all at the moment. 

 

"So no, I don't forgive you." 

 

He acted like he was going to swing his fist at Ringo, but then punched the mirror instead, shattering it. 

 

There. At least he didn't have to stare at his reflection anymore. Instead the mirror was all cut up, just like he was. 

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Richard Stafford

Ringo’s mum had always taught him that honesty was the best policy.

 

He’d known that that was a lie, because the other boys at his primary school had taught him so any time he opened his mouth and honestly spoke about what he was thinking, or how he was feeling. The jeers of “Jesus, Ringo, you whine more than a bloody girl” was something that Ringo had now regarded as his anthem. Everything he did was compared to everything girls did. His ma usually told him this when she was admonishing his brothers for lying to her (which they did often) and she wanted Ringo to promise her not to follow in their footsteps (which he, also, did often) because she didn’t want her youngest son falling into the same familiar pattern she witnessed with her older sons.

 

Now, in the girls’ loo, for the first time in his life, Ringo wished he’d listened to Anthony and Eric. He wished he’d been able to stop trying so damn hard to gain his mother’s approval, because now his honesty had put him in jeopardy, and he was certain that if he said anything more he’d be tackled to the ground, only to be kicked and punched.

 

Dale’s volume rose, slicing through the air with the strength of its anger and abruptness. Ringo flinched in response, so used to the raised volume of a voice being followed with a punch to his gut, or to his arm. He backed away slowly toward the exit, putting a little bit of space between he and Dale. When Dale turned his fist toward Ringo, the Ravenclaw stilled, fear filled in his eyes. This had been something he’d been expecting after he and Dale’s first encounter, but not now. He thought that he and Dale had been through enough to warrant this type of behavior extinct.

 

Dale’s fist found the mirror instead, and the breath Ringo’d been holding, preparing himself to be socked in the face, was exhaled. The glass shattered all around the Slytherin. Ringo knew that he hung on a very precarious balance—anything he said to Dale could easily exacerbate Dale’s anger.

 

“I-I’m—” He wanted to say I’m sorry for the umpteenth time, but thought better of it. “D-do you need h-help fixing up your h-hand?”

Edited by Richard Stafford

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Dale McQueen-Trengrove

The knuckles of his hand were bloodied and cut up, just like his face. Dale looked down at his hand, which was now throbbing in pain. But the pain was nothing compared to what he had experienced that night. He glared at Ringo. “I don’t need your help.” He could go to the hospital wing and they’d fix it up in a matter of minutes. 

 

This was a mere flesh wound, it wasn’t a cursed scar like the one on his face that he would now wear forever. 

 

 “So just go away now unless you want to end up just like the mirror.” He didn’t want to hear another word out of Ringo’s mouth unless he was going to say something that wasn’t along the lines of what he just had been. The words Ringo spoke were unbelievable in his opinion and he just didn’t want to deal with him at the moment. He was trying his best to follow what Honorine had told him and not hide out anymore but it was easier said than done. 

 

Especially if he was going to have to face people, most of which weren’t his friends. He had made some enemies in his short time at Hogwarts and knew he wasn’t especially popular among the first years. 

 

He put his now bloodied fist inches away from Ringo’s face to prove that he was ready to carry out the threat if Ringo wasn’t careful. 

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Richard Stafford

Dale was pure fury and Ringo could easily become his next target if he wasn’t careful. The Ravenclaw boy had tried, and failed, to smooth things over with his Slytherin peer, but now he was regretting ever saying anything to Dale at all. Foolish was he to think that Dale’s attack would’ve smoothened out his edges and changed his poisonous nature. He was still the boy from that first flying lesson, only now his anger actually had a reason. Ringo didn’t want to go back to thinking that Dale’s attack was his punishment for being a bully, though. He didn’t want to become a person who swam in I told you so’s and This is what you get’s.

 

“I... I think you could use a friend, Dale,” Ringo told him, nervously. Then, to clarify what he meant so that Dale’s fist didn’t land in his face, he continued. “I know you’ve been hiding from everyone, and I know you’re angry about what I’ve said, and I know that I don’t know what to say to make you not angry at me—” Where was he going with this, exactly? “—But I also know that it must be really lonely avoiding everyone. And I just think you could use a friend. I know you don’t want to talk to me, and that’s fine, but you should try talking to somebody else.”

 

Ringo had to fight to urge to add a knee-jerk “I’m sorry” at the end.

 

“I’m sure that the nurse could fix your hand for you. But you probably already knew that.” He should probably stop talking now.

Edited by Richard Stafford

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Dale McQueen-Trengrove

For whatever reason he almost wanted to cry again after Ringo’s mini speech. Dale said nothing during it, just listened to him silently, only nodding as he stared back at the mirror that was blurring his scars. He really wanted to be left alone now and he was also afraid that he might start actually crying and that was the last thing he wanted to do in front of Ringo. 

 

Can’t let anyone see me like that. 

 

Dale had worked too long on the tough bully sort of image and he wanted to keep it that way. He kind of liked that some of the other first years felt afraid of him. It made him feel powerful even if it did not also make him feel liked. But fear was not the worst thing to have. 

 

Ringo was right though, he could use some more friends. He hadn’t even talked to Julian in ages. But he also hated to show weakness and right now he would need to. No, it was better to run and hide in his opinion. 

 

“I know about the damn hospital wing,” he hissed angrily sounding a bit like he was trying to hold back his tears. 

 

A pause. “I’ll talk to someone alright?” He said. He was lying but it was only because he wanted Ringo to leave now and it seemed like the best way to get him off his back. “Happy?” A code for “just go now.” 

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Richard Stafford

Ringo didn’t dare call Dale out on sounding like he was on the verge of tears when he spoke. He’d managed to (so far) escape their whole exchange unscathed, and he wanted to keep it that way. “Okay, that’s good. You should do that,” responded Ringo, wholly ignorant to the fact that Dale was actually lying about talking to someone else about his problems. Dale looked so vulnerable (even if he wasn’t acting like it) and so afraid, Ringo would’ve believed almost anything that came out of the other boy’s mouth.

 

“I really do hope you take yourself to the hospital wing.”

 

He slowly turned his back to Dale, resolution sinking into his shoulders, and made his way out of the girls’ loo, leaving Dale behind.

 

The end.

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