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Julian Pritchard

when we walk out in the sunlight, we tell everyone we know it hurts our eyes

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Julian Pritchard

It was a truly strange experience, being in the Great Hall again. Somehow, in the days that he’d been sequestered away in the Hospital Wing, Julian had started thinking about it in an entirely different way. Instead of dividing it in his mind into places where tiny parts of his daily habits took place (the spot at the Ravenclaw table, towards the end, where he liked to sit and read during dinner; the place at the Hufflepuff table where he often had breakfast with Hazel), he kept picking out the locations of things that had happened on the night of the attack: the part of the window the werewolves had broken; the spot on the floor where he’d dropped his wand and watched Hazel get hurt; the place, towards the other end, where he’d been bitten. Part of him had come in expecting the chaos from that night and it was disconcerting to sit there and watch people quietly talk as they ate from plates in neat rows. It certainly didn’t do much for his appetite.

 

He did manage to get down most of his shepherd’s pie before he realised he’d much rather be anywhere else, so with a word of apology, he gently disentangled his hand from Hazel’s and muttered something about the History of Magic essay he still hadn’t caught up on.

 

He tried to make his way down the table and towards the exit as discreetly as possible. Leaving on his own, after all, meant he was going against the buddy system that had been implemented. Part of him balked at the thought of breaking a rule, though he felt it was an absurd one. He’d had a dozen people with him during the night of the attack; what would one single other person do except get hurt too if something happened again? Still, his gaze was fixed on the high table as he walked, just in case a professor decided to ask what he was doing. He would’ve missed Rad, except he almost walked into him.

 

“Rad.” He blinked at younger boy. The last time he had seen the Slytherin, Hazel and Celeste had been trying to hoist him up to get him towards the exit. His eyes fell on the boy’s sling. His stomach churned as it dawned on him that, beyond getting a reassurance that he was ‘okay,’ he hadn’t really made sure to check how Rad was doing, or if he was still hurt. Kind of ironic when he considered that his decision to try to stop the Slytherin from trying to tackle a wolf using a Trip Jinx was among those he kept turning in his mind, that kept him up.

 

“I’m sorry,” he said. It felt like the right thing to say, though he wasn’t entirely sure what for.  

Edited by Julian Pritchard
grammar

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Radueriel Benson

There was now, in the aftermath of the wolf attack, a slew of things Radueriel felt compelled to avoid. Simon Reed had headlined that list for awhile, as the tiny Slytherin was unwilling or unable, or some alchemical combination of the two, to deal with the guilt and the yen inspired by the gangly older boy. Now that the two were reconciled (what a strange way to describe what had happened to them, the limb clinging and the constant conversations, but he was afraid to label it as any more than that, a simple reconciliation), there were other Ravenclaws he didn’t want to see, and places, too.

 

For instance, he’d been dining almost exclusively in the kitchens since the attack. The House Elves, who had always before been happy to provide him with a consistent supply of crunchy carrot sticks, were more than willing to oblige him, although more than one expressed concern about his new diet of fried eggs and raw asparagus. The thought of returning there made him feel sick, like a retired sailor who’d long lost his sea legs asked to return to the swaying deck one last time.

 

Simon, naturally, wouldn’t allow this to go on. At first the mop-headed boy offered to eat in the kitchens with him, but soon he began to wheedle Rad with how much the others, how much Hazel, missed him. It didn’t take too long for him to give in; with trepidation, he agreed to accompany his friend (reconciliation-partner? aaghh) to dinner that evening.

 

The Great Hall was crowded, and the only remnant of the tragedy which had happened beneath the enchanted ceiling was the strange quietude, hung over the gathered students like off-season Christmas tinsel, though, in fact, Christmas was coming up soon. It was pretty difficult to think of merriness and presents at a time like this— surveying the room, it was hard for Rad to think of anything other than the flash of sharp claws, the hot breath of a wolf as it stood over him, a flash of eerie implacable green light.

 

As they stood in the doorway, Rad squeezed Simon’s hand without a word.

 

Then, they separated, as he felt that he should at least sit at the Slytherin table for the start of the meal; once the food had appeared, he could sidle over to where Simon sat and pretend that he, too, was a Ravenclaw. The meal that evening wasn’t especially appetizing. Something about the shepherd’s pie reminded him of Simon’s arm after the werewolf got done with him, and Radueriel didn’t love meat on the best of days. He’d pick the mashed potatoes off the top and maybe steal some more off of someone else’s plate.

 

After an anxious glance up towards the High Table (he wasn’t sure whether it would be a cardinal offence to go sit at a table other than his own, but he’d seen Gryffindors sit with the Slytherins, so he proooobably wouldn’t get expelled for it), Rad set off for the Ravenclaw table. Halfway there, sneaking another peek upwards, he almost collided with an actual Ravenclaw: Julian. Something deep in his gut wrenched, and as he watched the bespectacled boy take in the sling he was still wearing on his arm, he felt shame— hot and sticky, despite the fact that he couldn’t get himself to leave the dorm in the morning unless he donned, once again, the useless sling— plastered across his face.


“I’m—” he began to say, but Julian got there first. “What do you have to be sorry for?” Rad asked, attempting to keep the edge out of his voice, momentarily derailed from his own feelings of guilt. How could Julian be sorry, when Rad was wearing a sling on a perfectly healthy arm and Julian was… changed? When Rad hadn’t checked in on him, or come to visit in the Hospital Wing, or anything like that? It felt like he could do right by none of the Ravenclaw boys who meant so much to him.

Edited by Radueriel Benson

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Julian Pritchard

Julian raised his left hand to rub at his the back of his neck at Rad’s words. What did he have to be sorry for, indeed?

 

“Well,” he said after a moment, frowning slightly. “Lots of things, probably.” In fact, thinking back on the night of the attack was always a risky proposition because he could spend hours dissecting every little thing he had or hadn’t done. His deliberate choice not to start casting right away, his decision to try and help Simon, his insistence that they follow Stella’s suggestion and group together, then his further insistence that they should move despite Rad and Simon’s injuries, his decision to break the circle to try and help the boy who’d been yelling about dinosaurs, the instinct to sit as still as possible and hope for the best when the werewolf had dragged him away... so many small choices that added up to one disastrous picture. Having made just one of them differently could’ve led to a completely different outcome, though there wasn’t one choice in that list that he hadn’t regretted at one time or another. And since Rad had been with them for all of it, most of them could’ve had consequences for the Slytherin’s safety.

 

Of course, most of those decisions had taken place after Rad had already been injured, and none had involved him so directly as the one he’d made while chasing after Aurora to bring her back to the circle. He took a deep a breath.

 

“I meant for the trip jinx, though. I… it could’ve gone really wrong, and left you in a bad position.” It wasn’t hard to conjure an image of just how wrong it could’ve gone. He only had to transpose the memory of Hazel with a wolf on top of her, slashing at her, on his memory of Rad, prone on the floor of the Great Hall. Or he could easily imagine his own terrified screams coming instead from the younger boy, as he was dragged away.

 

The worst part, of course, wasn’t what could’ve happened if the spell had connected, but what had because it hadn’t, and his eyes drifted back towards the sling - a physical reminder that, when he’d made the choice not to physically drag Rad back, he’d essentially gambled with his friend’s life. It made him feel physically ill.

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Radueriel Benson

A freight train of emotion steamrollered its way through the boy at Julian’s words. The trip jinx. This was the first Rad was hearing of it. He’d spent a lot of time since the attack with his eyes closed, replaying the moments that constituted the greatest chaos and terror of the night: Simon’s arm, slashed and bright and red; a seething rush of anger, more bitter than a widower; his tiny body launching through the air; the rough fur scratching at his hand; the snarling, wet, hot mouth of the wolf, jagged teeth an inch from his face; then nothing, nothing, nothing but questions and guilt and leaking tears.

 

Nowhere in any of that jumble of recollection was there a trip jinx.

 

And yet. And yet there stood Julian, his pseudo-mentor, first inductor of Radueriel into the honorary Ravenclaw club, apologizing for one just the same. “What do you mean…?” he started, mouth moving faster than his brain could ever hope to do — but then came the freight train of emotion, and it steamrollered him flat onto his back (metaphorically), and he trailed off into a stunned silence.

 

It seemed like he was looking at Julian, really looking at him, for the first time, as though he’d been wearing a smudged pair of glasses all his life and decided, at last, to wipe clean the lens. What did he see? He saw a boy who was taller, much taller than Rad and much taller than Rad had really realized before. He saw a boy whose eyes glittered with clean-cut rationality. And he saw, beneath the slightly stiff and awkward facade, someone who cared, not just in the general sense, but cared about him.

 

He saw, too, a werewolf. But he needed more space and more time to deal with every single itchy implication of that fact.

 

Tears sprang to his eyes. Rad easily imagined a version of himself who would have been up-in-arms upon learning about Julian’s intended sabotage. Honestly, had the spell struck — or had he even been aware of it whizzing by him — he may very well have found his rage redirecting toward the bespectacled Ravenclaw. Now, though, he just found himself grateful, grateful and guilty. He should have been protecting Julian, not the other way around… maybe, if Rad had acted differently, maybe Julian wouldn’t have been…

 

Now he felt even sillier, even more ashamed, wearing the sling. A sheepish smile ghosting his lips, Rad shrugged it off, letting his arm hang limp at his side for the first time in what felt like ages. Stuffing it into his pocket (he could think of three or four different art pieces he could use it for), he met the taller boy’s eyes with what he hoped was an unwavering gaze. He wanted to hug Juju, then thought better of it.


Then he thought better of his thinking better, and quickly stepped in to wrap his little arms around the gangling mess of Julian Pritchard. “Thank you,” he whispered. “Don’t be sorry. Thank you. I’m sorry.” He stepped back, away, teetering off his center of balance.

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Julian Pritchard

Julian stared at Rad, jaw dropping slightly when he realised that the younger boy had no idea what he was even talking about. He felt a brief rush of shame raising to warm his cheeks, regret that he’d even brought it up. It was one of the weird unspoken rules that seemed to have cropped up in the aftermath - one he was constantly running afoul of. One did not simply bring up the night of November 8th. Not without a good reason. But, he reminded himself, he did have a good reason. It didn’t matter whether Rad knew or not. He still deserved the apology.

 

He was opening his mouth to explain further, when Rad finally seemed to realise what he’d been referring to and Julian watched - a slight crease in his brow to mark his confusion - as the boy divested himself from his sling and then hugged him. And then thanked him. And Julian had never understood anything less in his entire life.

 

He tensed as he stared down at the dark crown of the Slytherin’s head, at a complete loss for words. He tensed both from the unexpected contact and the sudden bursting need in his chest to protest, to explain further, to make Rad understand that it didn’t make any sense to thank him. But the sudden show of affection had him paralysed, so incongruous with the recrimination he might have expected. It made something - some ineffable feeling - rise up in his chest. He couldn’t quite speak until Rad released him, a hand reaching towards the boy’s shoulder to help keep him steady.

 

“But…” He blinked a few times as his brain tried to parse all the things that Rad had said - that he’d done - into a sequence he could address. He shook his head. “No. Why are you sorry? That doesn’t make any sense. You don’t understand.” He took a deep breath, grit his teeth.

 

“It could’ve gotten you killed, Rad. Or lost you your wand, and then you would’ve been defenseless. Or any other number of things. And it didn’t - It was for nothing.” The pitch of his voice rose, the tell tale sign of emotion trying to crack through. Lately, that usually meant tears. He paused and took another halting breath, trying to rein it in, his eyes dropping back down to that arm, the one his hand was resting on. He let his hand drop. “Shouldn’t you be wearing the sling?”

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Radueriel Benson

Never once had Julian indicated he liked to be touched— in fact, on the few occasions when Rad did break the apparently not-quite inviolable boundary between them, the older boy had indicated nonverbally but quite clearly his displeasure— and yet the tiny Slytherin felt his heart break a little at the way his friend stiffened up when he clung to him in a hug.

 

It had been silly to hope that in the face of what had happened the two of them might have been able to connect in such a way. And once again he was looking for support in all the wrong places, ever under the guise of giving support to those who truly needed it far more than he.

 

The guilt he felt over what had happened to Simon — his personal responsibility for what had happened to Simon — kept him from prodding too deeply into these matters with his curly-haired friend. But that didn’t mean asking Julian for help (Julian, who out of all of them had been hurt, no, damaged the most) was okay. He recognized all this without the language to hold it, and instead of articulating any of it even in his own brain, he merely winced away from Julian’s body (the body, now, of a wolf) as his guilt became unbearable.

 

Tears formed at the corners of his eyes in frustration. It wasn’t he who didn’t understand, it was Julian. If Rad hadn’t gotten himself out of commission to early in the game, he would have been on his feet when Julian was taken. He could have helped, he could have protected him… Instead, the cohort of fourth years had been forced to bandy about him and Simon. And it was this, he was sure, that had put Julian in harm’s way. What was one poorly-aimed spell in the face of that?

 

“But it didn’t,” the boy said weakly. A flaming impulse of guilt kept him from finishing the sentence, from making it explicit just how responsible he felt for what had happened to the Ravenclaw. “I’m okay, Julian.” Rad lifted his arm, blushing hard. “My arm, it— they healed it that… I don’t know.” His head shook back and forth, vigorously and quickly. “I don’t need it.” Never, in fact, had he needed it at all. “I’m okay,” he repeated, this time with a nod and an attempt at a smile. “But you…”

Edited by Radueriel Benson

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