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Radueriel Benson

the things that you've got coming will consume you

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Radueriel Benson

November 11th, 2041

Third Floor East Corridor

 

The sling hung heavy off Rad's shoulder, though the fact that every so often @Lester Roach got bored and punched him in the arm didn't help. "Could you, like, punch the other one?" he said, the frustration at this-- at all of it, but especially the Simon Reed-shaped hole in his life-- letting some of the attitude he normally slammed down deep seep out like pus from an infected wound. Of course, his arm had been completely healed the other morning, but every so often a phantom pain would shoot through it, up and down from the elbow where bone had shattered.

 

A look from Roach, somewhere between delighted amusement and murderous glee, made him swallow the sass back whence it came. For about the millionth time in a few days, Rad wished somebody else could be his buddy for the stupid rules the Headmistress had put in place. There had to be some other Slytherin with no friends, right?

Edited by Radueriel Benson
words are hard

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Dax Gordon

At first, Dax ruminated. Revenge came half-formed and foaming at the mouth and he tamped it down and told it to wait patiently. It had to be the long game for Radueriel Benson after all he did, and the long game began with healing. And then: learning.

 

It was easy, too easy considering how ravaged Hogwarts had just been, to become a tail to a small third year Slytherin. It was too easy to become a shadow and learn; his schedule, his friends, how long he favored his arm, where he'd be at noon and after classes and before dinner. Then, once he knew, he let himself be seen. Just from the shadows, just quick glances, before he let the crowd of buddies swallow him again.

 

@Fletcher Barrow only asked him what he was doing once, in passing, and Dax would only answer, “Wait.”

 

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Radueriel Benson

"Do you feel like someone's.... looking at us?" Rad's eyes swept this way and that across the narrow, crowded hallway, but the tiny boy couldn't see anything.

 

"Stop being such a wuss," Lester said, and punched his arm once again.

 

He was just being paranoid. It was just what happened the other night. It would be a long time before he stopped seeing yellow eyes reflected in every glass he passed. Stop being such a wuss. For once in his short, wretched life, Lester Roach was right about something.

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Dax Gordon

December 14th, 2041

Outside the Great Hall

 

Being a shadow sounded cool, but it got pretty boring, pretty quick. Rad was either incredibly unobservant or Dax was just too good at what he did; whichever, it left Dax with a sour throat and tingling muscles that begged for action. Dax Gordon had never been a patient man, or a man that denied himself anything, so he deigned it appropriate to give himself a taste, if only to tide himself over to see this through to the end.

 

Instead of shrinking fully into darkness when he knew Benson would round the corner to the Great Hall at @Simon Reed's side (new developments, noted and set aside for later use), he hesitated a beat. He lowered his sunglasses. He waited—differently than he'd been waiting: this time, he waited with the purpose of being discovered instead of being the one to discover. 

 

(Just this once, just to see.)

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Radueriel Benson

Things were looking up, kind of. 

 

The sling had been abandoned, traded in (more or less) for the presence of Simon Reed, as good an emotional crutch as any loosely tied fragment of fabric. But he still couldn't shake the feeling of eyes on the back of his neck, that slight and awful tingling, though no amount of searching ever revealed a pair of irises gleaming back into his own.

 

It was nearly time for dinner; Rad and Simon walked hand-in-hand toward the Great Hall, and once again that goosebumps feeling, that footsteps on the grave intuition. A shiver shuffled through his body, but he shook his head sharply once at Simon's caring curiosity. Simon Reed and Lester Roach were hardly the same person, but sharing his fear once hadn't gone well and he wasn't about to do it again.

 

But now, this time, as he tried to casually check the surrounding crowd as it fed into dinner, his gaze snagged on another's: wicked eyes that hovered above a carefully lowered pair of sunglasses. Dax. In the aftermath of the wolf attack the boy had all but forgotten their altercation in the early days of the term. The older Slytherin had, at some point between then and now, regrown all his hair.

 

Had he been the one stalking Rad all this time? The thought sunk heavy in his breast. Then, Simon tugged on his hand, and the two of them headed toward the Ravenclaw table. The small boy threw one lingering glance over his shoulder. Dax still stood where he had, staring at him, hungrier than any beast that prowled outside the castle walls.

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Dax Gordon

Good enough.

 

Eyes caught eyes; Dax turned feral. His lip curled into a sharp-toothed sneer that drilled Rad's receding back and, though he still harbored a starving monster, he was satiated. 

 

(Maybe this would work in his favor, even; ghosts had to let themselves be seen sometimes so people would believe in them.)

 

Dax stayed stone until he was sure he wouldn't catch another fleeting glance then shifted backwards, away from the rumble of the Great Hall and back into the shadows that he'd not convince himself to leave again until he was certain it was time. This was good enough, for now.

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Radueriel Benson

January 3rd, 2042

Courtyard

 

Christmas was a time for miracles.

 

Not only had Simon Reed kissed him (again!) and asked him to be his boyfriend (whoa!), near the end of last term Rad heard a certain terrible person boasting loudly in the Slytherin Common room of holiday plans in the United States. That meant a few weeks of peace-- for as soon as Rad noticed Dax, the niggling feeling of being watched transmuted into the palpable presence of that pair of sunglasses everywhere he went.

 

It was almost like the older boy didn't even go to class, instead opting to haunt the edges of the third year's life. 

 

The opportunity to spend Christmas and the New Year alone, alone with Simon, his boyfriend, was heaven on Earth. A new term would begin soon, days away, and with it too all the terribleness of the real world would flood back into the castle. 

 

Though the air was frigid the day was beautiful, and Rad took his canvas and a set of oil pants into one of the numerous courtyards, propping up his magical easel in the shin-deep snow. Sun bounced blindingly off the ground's white coat; the small boy was content enough even to hum a little tune under his breath.

 

It took awhile, a long while, he was so thoroughly immersed in the painting, trying to get the stone of an arch to look like stone, for him to notice that the courtyard was no longer empty.

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Dax Gordon

Texas would have one less Gordon over holidays and, usually, he'd be mourning the loss of much needed beach and honey time; for this, though, he'd make that sacrifice.

 

It'd been trying work, keeping himself hidden away from the trash that didn't have anywhere else to go, even more trying than managing to convince the lot of them that he had left on the train before Christmas—it was a blessing and a half that Fletch was always down for a trick or two and hadn't kicked a fuss over being shoved into one of Dax's (admittedly much smaller) leather jackets and layered up sunnies with a few charms to muss up his appearance enough to pass as an extremely tired Dax. Somehow, he'd managed it. No one was the wiser to his presence and he was left to carry out his dark machinations in peace.

 

They came to be on a too-bright, too-cold afternoon that Dax had been convinced Benson wouldn't be able to resist; of course, he was correct. (He knew more about the younger boy than he knew about nearly anyone else, now, and there was something comforting in the power it held to know.) Dax waited for the kid to wade out in the thick of the winter and then followed, dressed down in shorts and a tank of all things because—well, who was going to believe that Radueriel Benson saw Dax Gordon, who everyone knew was off to the US until the new term, in summer wear in the middle of a snow flurry?

 

He stood, and he waited, and he pretended not to shiver even as his fingers and knees turned bluer and bluer, until he finally caught the attention of his target. Their eyes met, briefly, across the courtyard. Dax grinned as blindingly white as the snow surrounding them and, without a word, he turned on his heel and marched away, his wand pointed behind him to erase any proof that he'd ever been there at all. 

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Radueriel Benson

Was that...? But it couldn't be. Rad heard what he had heard, knew that Dax was going overseas... 

 

But if that were the case, how could he be there, lurking in the shadows of the courtyard's portico, wearing nothing but a pair of Bermuda shorts and a tank top? If only for those damn sunglasses he might have thought it was somebody else, some other fool who thought that winter could do them no harm. Rad himself was bundled up luxuriously, layers of coats and scarves and one very fuzzy hat.

 

No, it was Dax. They locked eyes for a moment as the older Slytherin's face creased up in a horrifying grin. 

 

Emboldened, perhaps by the newest turn in his relationship with Simon, or perhaps just because Dax would have to first unravel him from all his winter wear before he could do him any harm, Rad raised his voice: "Hey. Hey!" But the wan phantom (looking in fact a little grey around the gills, a bit peaky) was already receding, vanishing through a doorway. 

 

Rad knocked his boot against the bottom of the stone jamb in frustration, caking snow onto the floor. Where was his sanity supposed to hide, when every corner played host to Dax Gordon's ghastly smile?

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Dax Gordon

February 14th, 2042

 

Dax was slipping.

 

Not in his goal of wreaking utter destruction—well, not completely. He still held the crumbling pieces of the world above Benson's head, but his grip was starting to slip. Little, fractured pieces were beginning to rain through the cracks of his fingers before he was ready for them and it was, absolutely and without a doubt, nobody's fault but his own. 

 

It was complacency, first and foremost, that gave him away. The younger Slytherin had only been as wise as Dax had allowed him to be since this game began and Dax grew comfortable in his work. A long day of which was his second misstep; had he not kept to Radueriel and his little boy toy's tail so closely during their

 

gag

 

Valentine's Day tryst, he might not have missed the thinning of the crowd on their way back to Hogwarts castle. But, he was tired, he was fed up with the couples gushing around him, and he was, once again, much too comfortable in his skills to realize that they were lacking just a moment too late. There was a lull in the conversation Dax had barely been following between Rad and Simon, Rad's eyes wandered between the fading crowd of lovers, and Dax found himself completely and irrevocably seen.

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Radueriel Benson

Though Rad would have preferred, as sunlight waned and students began to make their way along the paths back to the castle, to clambered back atop Simon's shoulders, he figured he had pushed his luck enough as it was. So instead they walked hand in hand, talking about this or that; every so often Simon or Rad would steal a kiss. 

 

The sheer happiness of the day was wrapping its arms around the small boy, such that he almost did not notice a strange glinting of sunlight from the other side of the dwindling crowd. It looked almost like-- and yes, there he was, dressed appropriately for the weather now but still sporting those dreadful sunglasses, and Rad's stomach turned. 

 

Why, why, why, wouldn't Dax leave him alone? This odd and powerful sense of foreboding, of something awful right on the brink, was as constant a companion for him as his boyfriend was, and it was all Dax's fault? Something surged in him, louder than the nausea, and he realized it was anger. "I'll be right back," Rad said to Simon, freeing his hand and starting across the snowy grounds.

 

This time, Dax didn't have either the time or the wherewithal to dematerialize before Rad reached him. "What are you up to?" he demanded, wishing (not for the first time), that he didn't stand a good head or so shorter than the older Slytherin.

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Dax Gordon

Dax assumed that, when it came to this, the power would have been at his back as it had been at the start of all of this; everything he'd done thus far had been carefully curated to keep that power on his side and his side alone and one minor misstep threw it all back into Rad's hands instead. The very follicles on Dax's head trembled at the shift.

 

"I have no idea what you're talking about." The lie came out quick, seamless with a practice that could only come from seventeen straight years of spinning untruths. Even under pressure, with the back of his neck growing warm and the sound of his plans collapsing in on themselves cotton in his ears, Dax could manage at least that much. "Am I not allowed to enjoy a free weekend?"

 

The jig was up, wasn't it? Rad confronting him with all of these witnesses; hell, his boyfriend was standing right there, seeing an ounce of proof to Dax's months-long torment session. Dax would go down with the ship before he admitted defeat, though, and Benson didn't have that much on him; before he could dig himself into a hole deeper than he already had, Dax brushed back his hair, heaved a long-suffering, fully-believable sigh, and stepped around the shorter boy to continue toward the castle.

 

Things needed to change, and quick, if Dax was to keep his grip on the situation.

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Radueriel Benson

March 16th, 2042

Library

 

Rare indeed these days was the sight of Radueriel Benson without the appendage known as Simon Reed. But there were certain things that Rad just couldn't manage to do in the presence of his boyfriend. Studying for class was one of them, seeing as it was a boring way to pass the time and the two teenage boys got distracted fairly easily. 

 

So even though it was Sunday, and even though he would have much preferred to be hiding under some archway and making out with Simon, the tiny boy had commandeered for himself a table at the library and propped open a textbook he hadn't looked at since the beginning of term. Rad didn't like being alone these days. Not only did the lingering anxiety of November's attack, well, linger, but it was impossible now to shake the feeling of constantly being watched.

 

Only a few times had he caught Dax in the act of sneaking, but it had happened enough times for him to become convinced he was always being espied. He'd taken recently to dashing in and out of the shower as quickly as he could, terrified of a repeat of their first encounter-- but this time sans even humiliating train underwear.

 

His eyes glazed over the same sentence once, twice, three times without understanding a word of it. Part of him was wishing that whatever it was Dax had planned (for surely, he was planning something), he would just get it over with. This waiting, this worry, it was making him miserable.

Edited by Radueriel Benson

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Dax Gordon

The month after Hogsmeade might have been actual hell for a master chess player like Dax. There was nothing—nothing—worse than looking ten steps ahead and realizing that your king might be the one that ends up in check, after all. Dax was exposed, even if it was just a hint of an inkling of a smidgen of realization on Radueriel's part, but it was enough to throw a wrench into his carefully laid plans.

 

He couldn't just up and stop, though, not after all the effort he'd put in, but he let himself back away. More time spent with Fletcher planting cherry bombs around the castle's bathrooms and howling at the new puppies, and less time spent at Rad's heels; though not, admittedly, less time spent with the boy on his mind. Everything was so close to fruition, if only he could push through the final stretch and get Rad right where he wanted him.

 

The idea came completely by chance, a strike of brilliance that came so brightly and so suddenly that Dax had to lower his sunglasses against its light. What was better than silent torment? What had Jak told him time and again was a player's best card?

 

Kindness.

 

Rad was expecting the worst—something that Dax had fully been intending to deliver—but nothing would throw him sideways more than Dax sliding into the chair opposite him and, with a smile he usually reserved for wooing the sweetest honeys, chirping a bright greeting. "Herbology, huh? Maureen's a real menace, isn't she?"

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Radueriel Benson

The sound of a chair scraping across the floor pulled Rad up out of his daze. For a second it seemed as though his dream-like worry had bled from his mind into reality, but the strong whiff of a clearly recognizable Obnoxious Masculine Cologne™ made it painfully apparent that this was real and this was happening.

 

Rad stared at Dax, stoic and stiff, no idea what to say to the older Slytherin. The words were English, and if he lingered over them long enough to piece the syllables into sentences he would probably be able to figure out what Dax had said, but the tone in which they were wrapped was so foreign out of that fetid mouth that the Sixth Year may well have been speaking Sanskrit.

 

 "I..." he said, confused. The confusion roiled up in him -- when he knew what to expect, when he knew that Dax would be lurking and menacing and maybe just a little bit sad in his unerring commitment to whatever long game he was playing, he could feel a modicum of control over the situation. But this was new, and this kindness was more staggeringly painful to bear than any cruelty, because the honey was so sweet as to burn the tongue, but any attempt to shred its thin fibers to reveal the jagged bone beneath would make him look like an arsehole. He had no power here, no way to turn Dax away, nothing to do but let the older boy toy with him and grin all the while.

 

"Um, yeah," Rad finally settled on, cheeks burning bright red with the utter humiliation of it all. His eyes flicked from the face across him to the page opened and unread before him. Maybe if he willed it hard enough, the older boy would melt into the carpet like the wicked witch caught in a thunderstorm.

Edited by Radueriel Benson

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Dax Gordon

April 28th, 2042

Outside Slytherin's Dungeons

 

Feigning niceties for a month and a half had Dax's skin raw, baby pink and stinging in the creases. The smile he saved just for Rad Benson wore too high and too tight and showed too many teeth but he wore it well. Believably at least, he thought, the more he used it. It almost felt natural when it slot-machined into place in time for Rad to round the corner out of the common room and be caught, alone and vulnerable; just as Dax had been hoping to catch him.

 

"No buddy, huh?" Dax peeled his prickling skin from the dungeon walls and punched himself right into the hole that Simon Reed would surely be filling beside Benson later—if, that was, the younger boy could find a way to shake the jaws clamped around him. Or, rather, the leather-clad arm that was thrown without abandon around his shoulders. "Me either. Guess it'll be you and me for a while."

 

Dax refused to match the pace Radueriel originally set. He slowed, lumbered, kept the smaller boy at his side as their schoolmates split around them until the corridor was nearly clear. "You got plans later, Benson?" 

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Radueriel Benson

A pressure storm was building in the space between Rad's eyes. If Dax's cruelty was unwelcome, his kindness was unbearable. It seemed as though every smile would crack into a snarl, and each passing day the waiting tension pushed him closer and closer to the breaking point. Things were so bad that he even considered telling Simon about it, but each time he considered doing so the thought of how utterly humiliating it would be to reveal how powerless and weak he was stayed his hand.

 

After the events of November, Simon looked at him a certain way, a way he did not deserve but loved anyway. He wasn't about to ruin that over some paranoia about a bully.

 

Besides. When Dax was out of sight, Dax was out of mind. The tiny Slytherin certainly had enough else going on to occupy his attention -- classes to pass and all that, for he was a student at this wretched school, after all. Though the niggling voice of worry in the back of his head was a constant companion now, his brain could ignore it the way it tuned out his nose when peering through his eyes.

 

Of course, when the Sixth Year did materialize, that voice became a lot tougher to quiet. The very sight of Dax made Rad freeze for half a second, wondering in terror whether this would be the moment in which the friendly facade at last shattered, sending shards to pierce his skin. No, though, there was the toothy grin that didn't quite reach the eyes. God, he hated the sight of it. 

 

But this was paranoia. Not even Dax could have the patience to play a game this long, right? It was just his brain, fractured by the events of last November and never truly put back together thanks to the negligence of this institution, convinced that danger lurked around every corner. If Dax was really going to do something to him, he would have done it already. He needed to keep telling himself that. The danger wasn't real. The older boy was unpleasant and would remain so, but the danger wasn't real.

 

So when Dax wrapped an arm around him, clamping him tight to his side and slowing to a near-halt that left the two of them in the corridor even when the rest of the breakfast-bound Slytherins were long ascended, Rad tried to quell the panic in his breast. The danger isn't real, he told himself. You're safe and Simon's waiting in the Great Hall.

 

"I was just going to breakfast," he said, gesturing as best as he could with his arms pinned by the other boy's embrace at the cloud of students that had just vanished. "I'm meeting my buddy there." Rad's words were as pointed as he could make them, for he couldn't entirely master his impulse of fear: I am expected elsewhere, he was saying. If you kill me, they will notice I am gone.

 

Never let anybody say that Radueriel Benson wasn't dramatic af.

 

"Uh, no," he answered, a little belatedly. It was Monday, and all that was to be done was go to class and then maybe -- MAYBE -- find somewhere to study while Simon did the same. "No plans." Why didn't he lie? What use was honesty here? He found himself wishing that his social life hadn't more or less collapsed to include merely Simon and Simon alone, not because he was lonely or cared an iota about the classmates whose lives had faded to inconsequential white noise, but because they would provide another layer of protection between him and the paranoia personified that was Dax Gordon.

 

"Why?" Rad asked, tugging a little to try and get the two of them upstairs faster. "Do you?"

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Dax Gordon

Rad tried to speed them up—figuratively, literally—and Dax became a drag parachute inflated behind them. He let the younger boy falter and press, let him have the pretense of his fail safes for the half-second it took the gears to grind them into place and then took a hammer to them. 

 

"We're all going to breakfast, Benson. Or to study, or to paint outside." Smash, the rusted cogs that told Radueriel that his presence would raise flags. "There's no hurry." Smash, the toothed wheels that pressed time against them. Dax was in control—all of this was about him being in control and letting Rad figure that out for himself, eventually. 

 

The painted-doll grin stayed even, pinned as it was, and his eyes gleamed bright. "I didn't, but I do now." They were nearing people again, much as Dax tried to stall them. He squeezed Rad's shoulder, gently, like a friend might, then folded away from the younger boy with a two-fingered salute. "I'll catch you after lessons. We can hang out," he called as he backed away. "I'll swing through and find you."

 

Later that day, then later than month, then later that year. Dax would keep finding him until their karmic interactions were evened, and there wasn't much of anything little Radueriel Benson could do aside from removing himself from existence, and, even then, Dax would find a way.

 

Dax Gordon was inevitable. 

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