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 Better Than This [Edwina AU]

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Evelina Morris
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PostSubject: Better Than This [Edwina AU]   Thu Jul 27, 2017 9:56 am

Fifth Year; Christmas holidays

Evelina glanced at the parchment that sat on her desk, and then at the quill in her hand. The ink dripped off the end and into the pot, and carefully, she tapped the tip against the edge, making sure that no excess ink would spoil her writing, and returned to the letter.

You'll have lots of stories and pictures, I'm sure. (You better! Norway is apparently beautiful. At least let me live vicariously through your photographs.)

Ed said hi and asked how you are. (Well, not really; when I mentioned I was writing you, he said 'Oh,' paused, then added, 'Send my regards?'. I'm inferring he means to say hi.)

See you soon!

Love,
Eve.


She signed the parchment, added a heart, and put down the quill. Folding it in half, she sealed it and made her way to the Owlery. The sun was just beginning to set, the display of gold and red and purple hues making her pause in her steps to admire them. Her thoughts, however, went elsewhere almost immediately.

Ed.

The last time she'd seen the male was yesterday, at dinner. He'd barely gulped down his meal before disappearing again, giving her less than a few minutes to talk with him as he first sat down. There was something wrong; she could feel it. He was distracted, and not in the usual manner, either. There was something going on and she knew it. What, though, was still a mystery.

The second mystery was where he kept disappearing to. She went looking for him earlier that day, wanting to go to Hogsmeade -- last minute shopping for presents; a few of her friends and her had decided, last minute, to buy small items to leave scattered around as surprises -- and found him nowhere. He wasn't in the library, he wasn't in his tower (she'd asked someone to check), he wasn't... anywhere, really.

On autopilot, Eve tied the letter to Boreas' leg and sent him off. Her mind was churning. Earlier, she'd been too focused on the present shopping to think much about it, but now that the last item on her to-do list was checked off, she found herself contemplating it. What could he be doing? Where was he?

Something was wrong.

Something was very wrong.

And then it was so simple, she almost cried out when the solution came. He had to be in the castle; nobody could leave now, it was too late. But if he wasn't anywhere visible, he had to be in a place that wasn't -- and she knew exactly where that was.

Rushing off, she found the place she was looking for and choosing her words carefully, walked past the blank wall three times, thinking only one thought: I need the place Edward is.

A door appeared almost as soon as she finished her third time and, without a second's thought, she pushed the door opened and entered. At once the sight of... something greeted her. It was one of his machines, and a smile touched her features. Of course he'd been out inventing; why'd she been so worried? She was about to call out, apologise, when she saw something else.

An axe, sharp and deadly, lying on the table.

She froze. Blinked. Swallowed dryly and blinked again. "Oh, Edward," she found herself murmuring, almost to herself, although her voice carried in the still. "What are you doing?"
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PostSubject: Re: Better Than This [Edwina AU]   Thu Jul 27, 2017 3:25 pm

Much to his mother's displeasure, Edward had opted to to remain at Hogwarts over the Christmas break. It was, of course, the perfect opportunity for him to work on a special project (more so, fantasy) that had been swirling around the recesses of his mind for quite some time. Fantasies only really became reality when one worked for it, after all. Before this break, he'd never dreamed it possible, not that he'd be so capable to actually build what he wanted, but rather that he'd find the strength to stomach what he was about to do on the very first day back from Christmas break.

He had no time for distractions. Really, such a contraption that he had planned should take weeks of work to perfect- though time was a commodity that he didn't have. Naturally, he'd been notably distracted for the entirety of the holiday period thus far.

The contraption he'd been working on had been for Leo. Now, Leo had been a bother for years. A brute that seemed keen on humiliating Ed at every opportunity. And when he inevitably grew tired with humiliation, he'd use Ed as his own personal punching bag. Not that Ed really cared, he didn't think it mattered all too much. The strong liked to pick on the smart. Ed tried his hardest to tell himself that it was mere jealousy, and that someday he needn't worry about the scum of the earth like Leo. So he tended to suffer in silence. That was until that one fateful day when he discovered that Leo had a new target, Evelina, of all people. And that, well that was just unacceptable. It triggered a feeling that he'd never before felt. More than anger, so much more than anger. It was fury, rage. So much so that witnessing the scene, he'd clenched his fists, gritted his teeth, almost let himself succumb to being the brute himself in that moment.

That was when a voice in his head had urged him not to. A reasonable decision, for Ed was tall and skinny, and had the duelling skills of a mop. His skill lied with strategy, with inventions. And the voice had urged him, calmly, to think, to listen, to create, and, most importantly, to strike when it was least suspected.

Evelina, well, he hadn't had much contact with her over the Christmas holidays. And he was well and truly missing her, their conversations at dinner, her laugh, her gorgeous eyes that he seemed to just drown in... Focus Ed.... He was going off track. Evelina was a distraction, a truly worthy distraction, rare in the way that she was actually welcome. In his eyes, she brightened the room. Though if he was ever going to finish his own personal Christmas present to Leo, he couldn't afford any hours lost.

He'd worked, day in and day out, in the Room of Requirement. Evelina herself had seemed perfectly distracted, for a while at least. Busy with presents and shopping, normal things that he should have been focused on himself. But the opportunity was too great, the fewer people around, the lack of classes or work, he'd be capable of finally living his fantasy.

His contraption was halfway done, and he'd managed to acquire the starring piece, an axe. He'd sharpened and shined it, and it was beautiful. Though, not yet ready to be added. His focus now was ensuring that the trajectory was right, so as not to injure anyone else besides Leo when the day finally came. Precision was key.

He'd been so absorbed with his mini trials of the contraption, that he hadn't noticed anyone enter. He hadn't expected anyone to find him. The Room of Requirement, while not unknown to all, was unknown to most. And who knew that of the small amount of people that knew, Evelina would be one of them?

"Oh, Edward, what are you doing?"

Evelina's voice was unmistakable. His head shot up at the sound of it, squeezing his eyes shut for a moment before turning to face her.

"Evelina," he greeted, talking much quicker than his usual quick pace "I- um. It's a present," he explained, eyes flickering to the axe he had on the table before back to hers. Nerves, he had them. And he couldn't shake them, not when they pertained to his worries about what Evelina might think.

___________________________________________

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PostSubject: Re: Better Than This [Edwina AU]   Fri Jul 28, 2017 2:56 am

Her gaze was firmly on the axe, taking it in as though a foreign object, as though she'd never seen one before. It was gleaming, telling her it was either freshly sharpened or brand new; either way, it was deadly. One light swing and it could cut through wood like butter. Perhaps not all the way through, but far enough. And she was quite certain that Edward was not looking to fell trees.

Very slightly, Evelina shuddered and forced herself to look away from the thing. The rest of the room was as she expected; she'd seen Ed work on his projects before, although this was something new altogether -- something amazing, something scary. There were parts laying on tables, others on the floor, a medley of springs and beams and whatever else he was using. The more she took it in, the more she realised that the axe was most likely not just another piece in a puzzle, but how she knew she would never know. Instinct. The ability to read Ed. The fact she had been seriously considered for Slytherin...

Blinking herself out from the haze of uncertain certainty (she didn't want to believe what she knew was true), Evelina turned her attention to the figure that had straightened. His words meant nothing to her. Instead, she looked past them and at him -- at the boy that had grown to become more than just 'that Ravenclaw' -- and smiled gently, sadly.

No, she knew him too well for that lie to work. In fact, wasn't it her who had taught him how to tell falsehoods without actually lying? She knew him too well for this to work, and he knew her too well to have truly believe she'd buy what he was saying -- or at least, she hoped he did. They'd grown close over the years, an acquaintance that had become a friend she trusted, confided in. And while he wasn't her best friend and she wasn't his, there was a trust and understanding between them that didn't exist with other people.

If she believed in such thing as kindred spirits, she would've said Ed was one. But she didn't, and so she merely called him an oddity, someone she had been drawn to from the start without knowing why, and someone she cherished as a friend.

She followed his eyes to the axe, and her suspicions were confirmed. He wouldn't have looked if it had been innocent. No, he'd looked because he knew what he was doing was wrong -- and that sparked hope. If someone still felt guilt, that meant they could be helped, could be saved. It was when one felt no guilt that they were too far gone.

"And for whom might this present be for?" she asked, judgement out of her tone. She paused, let a second pass, then put a slight edge to her tone. "And what does this... present... do?"
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PostSubject: Re: Better Than This [Edwina AU]   Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:58 pm

Edward had never been an emotional person. He was far more logical than anything else. So he had shocked even himself when he'd decided to kill (yes, kill) Leo. Shocked himself with the amount of anger that he'd bottled up, pushed to the side. He'd spent so much time distracting himself with his little hobbies that he hadn't fully realised the pain of it all, until he saw it affecting someone he truly cared for. In fact, as far as friends went, he considered Evelina his only one.

The less you have, the more precious they become...

Evelina was staring at the axe. There was no point in trying to hide it now, it was too late. She'd seen it. He'd no clue why he'd begun to worry so much, why such a sick feeling was growing within him. For all she knew, it could be merely a tool, it could be a non-lethal part of what he was making. How often did strings need to be cut using the motion of an axe when it came to making these Rube Goldberg machines that he was so fond of? Evelina, however, she was better with people than he was. And he was awful at hiding intentions. He had such a difficult time, reading people. She, on the other hand, seemed to excel at it. Or perhaps she didn't, perhaps it was just by comparison to himself that she seemed so skilled. In either case, he was an open book, ready for reading (despite not willing it).

At that point, he well and truly had no clue how to approach the situation. He desperately wished he had some, any form of legilimency or occlumency, something. It certainly would help with what was quite clearly the weaker aspect of his personality.

At the very least, he could predict the question she had just posed. Who it was for, and what exactly it did. He couldn't quite answer truthfully. Evelina, she'd not like it at all. It wasn't exactly a pleasant contraption. Quite awful to be precise. The odd thing was, Edward didn't feel guilty about what he'd been plotting to do to Leo. No, as far as he was concerned, Leo could rot. It was more of what Evelina might think of him if it ever came to light that he'd killed someone (he was quite sure it'd be successful, he'd reiterate... Precision). He was unable to explain, even to himself the exact reasoning of engaging in such a horrid thing. Sure, Leo deserved it. Edward hated that boy with every fibre of his being. Edward wanted him dead. A fantasy, yes. Was it his better, more rational side, or the fact that Evelina had walked in, that had sparked his nerves, heck regret almost, for even considering such a thing. It was a blurred line that Edward couldn't discern. All he felt, from the moment Evelina had discovered him bent over his work, was confusion.

He swallowed, his mouth had gone dry. Was that another nervous thing? Dry mouth, stammering (his stammering had been getting better, especially around Evelina), he even felt a little shaky in his usually steady hands.

"A-a surprise?" he responded, feigning a smile and turning on his heel back to face his work, beginning to arrange the various tools and equipment, refusing to even touch the axe, neatly in a line across the table.


___________________________________________

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PostSubject: Re: Better Than This [Edwina AU]   Sat Jul 29, 2017 5:40 am

The sick feeling in her stomach grew at the silence that followed her question. She watched him, carefully, trying to read his mind. It was impossible; she wasn't even sure if there was any magic that could accomplish that. While enjoying learning and classes, Evelina had always been more concerned with those around her -- with her friends. Relationships had always been vastly more important to her than studies, and while she didn't do too badly on the latter, it was people she cared about most.

She wasn't the most popular girl -- she had no interest in false relationships or sucking up to people -- but she wasn't exactly invisible either; she had friends in every house, and the rumours were going around that she would be made prefect soon. Her closest friends had long since told her that she'd be head girl, a suggestion she shrugged off.

Edward had been ... different. He hadn't sought her out, nor had she specifically 'targeted' him. They'd come across each other, somehow. She could never fully remember how they first met. Sometimes she thought it was an assignment, paired together by the Professor for a class, but what class? And what assignment? There'd been a few, sure, but she was certain she'd known him before that. Perhaps she'd sat next to him at a meal? She'd done that before, but he was a Ravenclaw and she usually sat with friends or friends of a friend, and as far as she knew she'd been the one who introduced Ed to others. He was the opposite of her in so many ways, too, so it wasn't like a mutual interest had been it.

A few times she had tried tracing their friendship back, but the memories were always blurry. For all she knew, they were born friends; in each memory of Edward she had, they were already friends.

So to say she was concerned for him was an understatement.

His two word answer only increased her worry. One of the things she could count on was him explaining his machines (or ideas for machines) to her. He could go on and on about them, how they worked, what they did, how hard it had been, how he'd overcome challenges to make it work... She didn't always understand the words, but she understood that it was something he loved -- and that meant she was perfectly happy to listen to him rattle on, enjoyed it, even.

Two words, therefore, was not enough an answer. Her mind was still reeling, the words Something's wrong echoing deep inside her. What? she asked her instincts, begging for an answer; the only reply was a repetition of what she already knew.

Something's wrong.

She pushed it aside. Focused on the back of Ed's head. He was organising his stuff, not unusual for him but unusual given the situation. Before she quite knew what was going on, she stepped forward, mere feet away from him, and then paused.

Something's wrong.

Another step forward.

Something's wrong.

One last step, and she was beside him at the table.

Something's wrong.

Reaching out, she placed a hand over his, stopping its movements.

Something's wrong.

"Ed," she said, gently, voice almost a whisper and yet with a note of finality, of insistence, "Talk to me. Please."

Something's wrong.

___________________________________________

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PostSubject: Re: Better Than This [Edwina AU]   Sat Jul 29, 2017 5:02 pm

Edward was foggy on how he'd become friends with Evelina. Knowing him, it'd be through class, somehow. Or the library, he spent a lot of time there. Truth be told, he should certainly remember, she was his only friend after all. But it had just happened, flourished from seemingly nothing. Perhaps it had happened over time, with no set event that had pushed their friendship into motion.

One thing he'd never gotten the hang of had been confiding in people. Talking never came easily to him, let alone telling one what was wrong, and his true thoughts. His family were distant, at best. He was the youngest, he had an older brother that was seemingly the perfect son. His parents, concerned merely with reputation, status. He was certainly the odd one out, and he stuck out like a sore thumb (despite his efforts to pass by unnoticed). He had a difficulty in knowing what people thought when he spoke, body language was not one of the many subjects he was learned in, nor did it come easy to him naturally. People would get bored when he'd ramble on about some project he was truly excited for. People, he found, were boring. They preferred mindless gossip and dull small talk over champagne. Making plans for marriage for their children... Purebloods, he found, weren't fond of progress. They seemed to clutch to their traditions, their outdated values with everything they could. No, he couldn't talk about the things he wanted to, not until Evelina.

She seemed to enjoy listening as he explained what he was building, what it'd do. He was positively overjoyed when she seemed just as excited as he was, not sighing and checking their watch, as was the usual practice of most people. That was the thing, she wasn't just most people. It was refreshing, really. To have someone that was interested, even in the slightest.

He bought his mind back to the present, focusing on arranging and rearranging his tools, hoping that she might just drop the subject. He knew she wouldn't. Had he given too much away? His face said it all, quite clearly. He'd need to work on that, keeping a neutral face. Although he doubted that would have stopped her inquiries. The axe, well, it wasn't subtle.

He didn't realise she'd moved closer until he felt her hand upon his. His little nervous movements, bordering on obsessive arranging of the tools ceased. Her voice was soft, gentle and soothing. He had the urge right there and then to just blurt out that he wanted to kill Leo, to give him the justice that no one else dared to do. Ed had a cruel streak, truly he did. It had just never been bought to light, and he'd been too smart to show it.

He wanted to hold her hand, would that be too forward? Would it be weird? He didn't want to come off as creepy (as he'd been told he had a tendency to). He kept his hands firmly on the table and turned to face her.

"I-I'm building R-Rube Goldberg machine," again, talking quickly. He was a quick talker, normally, especially when excited. This was faster than usual, much faster "I-I was going to attach it to the roof of the s-seventh floor c-corridor," he didn't entirely mean to start talking as he was. It just happened.

"Activated manually of course," he swallowed "A-a manoeuvre only I know... It wouldn't to to be going off accidentally," he added, glancing back down at his and her hand. She knew something was up, how could she not. Evelina always seemed to know.

___________________________________________

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PostSubject: Re: Better Than This [Edwina AU]   Sun Jul 30, 2017 5:42 am

It took her a moment to place what he was saying. She'd heard of those machines before, of course; he'd talked about them a few times, expressing his like of and want to build them. They seemed interesting enough, although vastly complicated, and all round not something she would have the time nor patience for. To watch, sure; to built, never. That was one of the reasons she admired Edward; he knew what he loved and stuck with it until it was done. She flittered too much between people and tasks to claim one as a hobby.

But as much as she was pleased he was saying something -- anything -- the speed was... off. It was too fast, too hurried. Combined with the stammer and his earlier refusal to look properly at her... Evelina shook her head gently, but let him go on, taking in his words as he did.

Seventh floor corridor? What was there? Mentally, she went through it. Arithmancy classroom, room of requirement (where they were now), the astronomy tower, the divination class, the Gryffindor tower... What was he after? More importantly, what did it do? He hadn't said -- he hadn't said. Wasn't that normally the point of his conversations? Sure, sometimes he'd make her guess (okay, oftentimes he made her guess), but he would give her hints and clues, make it into a game of sorts. She enjoyed it, although she certainly wasn't as bright as him and he usually had to tell her the answer. Her talents lay in people -- in getting them to talk, in understanding them, in making friends -- and in acting.

But this time, he did none of the usual promptings; he was giving her nothing but words, and those were never an answer. Wasn't that a trick she used when she didn't want to answer someone, but didn't want to lie? She'd prattle on about stuff and hope that they never realised she had technically not answered. They hardly did.

He finished rather abruptly, something about it not being set off by accident; she'd been thinking instead of paying full attention, something she hardly did. But she'd caught the gist of it. She followed his quick glance down to their hands and felt a blush rise, although not strong enough to show; she could feel the slight warmth of cheeks, but not the burning heat that meant it was on display. When had she decided not to let go? All she meant to do was touch it to tell him to stop, not keep her hand there, on his.

And yet, somehow, it felt right, comfortable, and she didn't bother moving it. Instead, she squeezed gently, telling him she wasn't going anywhere. "And?" she prompted, keeping her tone the same -- judgement free. "What does this machine do? What..." she faltered for just a moment, then forced herself to take a breath and speak the words casually. "What's the axe for?"

She let a heartbeat pass, and then continued before he could answer, both because she needed to say this and because she was taking pity on him and giving him more time before he had to answer -- and answer he would; she'd make sure of that. "Eddie, I'm your friend. You know me; I'm not going to walk away without an answer, without knowing what's going on. Something's wrong." It felt odd to say the words out loud when her mind had been screaming that from the start, but also right at the same time.

"Whatever's going on, whatever's happening, I'm here for you." She squeezed his hand again. "But you have to tell me; you have to talk to me. You have to let me in, and I know that's not easy for you, or anyone, but it's... it's necessary. You can't live alone forever, Ed. You can't. It's not good for someone to be isolated. You need people; you need friends. And trust me when I say I know it's not easy to let anyone in, and I can't say it gets easier with time, but Ed, it's so so worth it and... and..."

She faltered here. What had she meant to say? She wasn't actually sure. It had been important, but the words had gotten lost somewhere between her brain and her mouth. The sentiments, she knew; but how to convey them? Evelina let out a slow breath, tried to refocus herself. What was she going to say? "And you gotta trust me," she finished, rather lamely. "Please. Let me in." She trailed off, swallowed back any other words, and waited, hoping against hope he'd actually do it.

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PostSubject: Re: Better Than This [Edwina AU]   Mon Jul 31, 2017 2:25 pm

Edward was thankful that Evelina had decided to keep on talking, after asking about the axe. It gave him time to think, to word his response properly. Though regardless of how it was worded, he doubted it'd make much difference with how she felt about the plot he had. His original plan would have eliminated the need for the axe all together. Sadly though, he was unable to find any reliable source of electricity. Electrocution would be significantly less messy, less blood (save perhaps a few drops from a potential nosebleed). Of course, he could have simply cast the killing curse, though Edward had his doubts he could actually cast it. It took a lot for him, to cast spells. He wasn't as naturally gifted at it as his elder brother. The only subject he seemed to be able to master perfectly was potions, and well, it'd be suspicious if ingredients to make a poisonous potion were to go missing. Plus, poisons could be traced, wand histories searched, and Edward hadn't the physical strength to overpower Leo in any capacity. Edward was taller, but Leo was built, muscular and heavy. Edward on the other hand could be knocked over if the wind was a tad too strong.

He didn't realise he'd been staring at their hands, as Evelina spoke, urging him to open up, to let her in. She was right, of course. One could not live in isolation from others. It was... Horrible. Evelina being his friend had made the world brighter from his perspective. And yet, he somewhat preferred being alone, in a weird way. Alone time was the time where he could figure things out, work on what deeply and truly interested him. Alone time was the time that Leo and all his brutish friends let him be (predominantly because they'd never set foot in the library, nor could they enter the common room). When the world was full of disgusting people, being alone was the easier option, one that Ed gladly took. He wasn't one to push through adversary unnecessarily. All it meant was more hardship, more heart break, potentially more of a chance of being a victim.

Trust was fragile by nature. Once broken was never the same, only fools thought it might be repaired. Would Evelina be able to keep his trust? Perhaps she might be the only person worthy. Her hand was still on his, she hadn't moved it. He felt a tightening in his chest, something that he'd never felt before. It was her, it had to be. All her, she was the reason he was doing this after all. Well, he supposed it was a mixture of things. But seeing that creep harass her was the straw that broke the camel's back.

It felt wrong, to lie. He wasn't a liar, not even white lies (something that had often caused his father embarrassment at pureblood functions). He'd learned to, instead, mince words (at the very least). He didn't mince them well, but at least he tried. It came as no surprise that Evelina was pushing for a proper answer.

He took a deep breath.

His heart was beating faster than it had been, when did that happen?

He consciously had to slow his talking, to his normal speed. Did it work? He wasn't entirely sure at all.

"A surprise for Leonard." he said simply.

It was thinking about his fantasies, almost forgetting that Evelina was right there with him in that moment. In all honesty, his nerves came not from potentially carrying out the act (Leonard had it coming), but what Evelina might think. He pulled his hand away and carefully picked up the axe, twirling it in his hand as though he was examining the blade.

"The axe," it was as though he'd done a complete flip, he was talking calmly, rationally, almost coldly. A definite difference in confidence as he decided to just let go. She'd stated she was his friend after all, "Is for his face," he added after a pause, physically stopping himself from smiling at the thought of finally being rid of the person who seemed intent on making his life hell.

___________________________________________

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PostSubject: Re: Better Than This [Edwina AU]   Tue Aug 01, 2017 8:30 am

She waited.

As she did, she felt a constricting of her chest, a tightening around her heart. What if she did not like his answer? What if she found out why she was so afraid of the reasons, and she didn't like it? Would she turn away? No. Never. That was simply not done; and she was, after all, a Hufflepuff for a reason. Still, she couldn't help but wonder. She didn't feel fear often, but when she did, it was usually for a good reason. The only house she hadn't been considered for was Ravenclaw; Gryffindor had been considered, and pushed aside, and it had been down to Green and Yellow. Yellow had won.

But what if it hadn't? The part of her that would always belong to Slytherin had taken over, even if only somewhat. Her mind was racing, churning with different possibilities and outcomes.

Nothing she could think of came close to what Edward next said. In those four words, she already knew what was going to happen, before he said anything else. There was only one solution. How had she not seen it earlier? The warning signs... Surely there had been those; surely he had displayed something before this that pointed to it. Why did she not ask him earlier, when she noticed him distraced? Why hadn't she asked him if he was okay when she saw him durning meals? More importantly, how had she let it come to this?

She'd known what Leonard was doing, of course, knew exactly who he was. An older Gryffindor; a bully. He'd gone after Edward before, a few times. Ed had seemed okay, seemed like he'd gotten over it, and Evelina had always offered her shoulder and her silence to him, if he needed it. Why hadn't she done more? She could have. Could've told a Professor, could've told a prefect, could've told Leonard himself to back off... But she hadn't. She figured that Edward had it under control and would do something if he couldn't deal.

That's where she'd been wrong, she was only now realising; she had assumed that people reacted similarly to her, and that they didn't have issues reaching out for help. It was a little too late -- staring at the axe Ed was holding -- that she realised this wasn't the case. Leonard had gone too far, done something too unforgivable, and Edward was now contemplating murder. There was a darkness in each and every person, a monster lurking beneath the surface; Evelina knew this full well. Sometimes, fighting worked; sometimes, you needed someone else to fight for you. Her mistake had been thinking that Edward had successfully fought his and won. Now, watching him watch the axe, she realised it wasn't so.

Surprisingly, Evelina was not too disgusted or horrified with the idea of murder. Perhaps the monster and darkness she had were closer to the surface than she knew, or perhaps she was just naturally immune to that sort of thing. In another life, where she never sought out Edward, she would've learnt the answer was the latter, and she would have embraced it, and allowed it to snuff out whatever goodness she had in her. But this wasn't that life, and standing before Edward, Evelina knew exactly what she had to do -- what she should've done from the start.

Reaching out, she touched the edge of the blade. It was sharp, as expected, and she felt a slight sting of pain as it cut into her, not deep enough to be damanging, but enough to draw just a little blood. She held back a wince and pulled back, holding up her finger for Edward to see, the blood slowly starting to roll down towards her palm.

"There," she said, simply. "Someone was hurt. Are you satisfied now?"

She let a moment pass, and then, with her other hand, firmly -- but still with gentle care -- took the axe from him, placing it on the table behind her, where he couldn't reach. Then, she looked back at him. "Or must it be his?"

Another second went by. "What difference does it make? Mine, his... Blood is blood. He's somebody's friend, somebody's child. I am, too. We're the same, him and I. We make mistakes. We screw up. We say nasty things..." She smiled sadly at him. "It's my fault that you're here, doing this. I should've realised sooner his actions were affecting you so; I didn't. I let it continue."

She watched as the drop of blood finally made its path down her hand and dropped, silently, although she could've sworn she heard a mental plop, onto the ground, a reddish stain against the brown tiles. "Or if you want," she continued, tone now slightly harder than before, "I can do it to my face. It shouldn't be too hard; where did you want it? My cheek? Nose? Foreheard? Chin?" There was an anger in her eyes, a hardening around her pupils, that suggested Edward not answer.

Slipping out her wand, she turned to face the axe. Clearly, simply, she said, "Duro," watching as it turned to stone almost at once. Then, turning back to Edward, she said, "You're better than this."

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PostSubject: Re: Better Than This [Edwina AU]   Wed Aug 02, 2017 1:27 pm

The monster within Edward hadn't appeared overnight. No, it was something that grew in the deep recesses of his mind. A quiet voice that grew louder and louder until he could no longer simply ignore it. The worst part about it was that it was all him. Sure, it was triggered by Leonard and his friends. But the monster in his mind was well and truly the darkest form of himself. A more confident, slightly twisted version of himself that spoke with a deep voice. One that he occasionally saw in the mirror, replacing himself. One that urged him to make Leonard pay for everything he'd done. It'd been creeping to the forefront of his mind for years. This monster was better at keeping its composure, better at plotting and planning. It was stronger, smarter and much more cunning than he ever was.

And yet, Evelina's reaction made him hate it. Truly and utterly hate what he'd let grow in his mind. It was a parasite, of sorts. At least to him, now. But he liked the way he felt when he let it take control. Confident, clear-minded, detached. So much so that the thought of murder, especially the murder of someone like Leonard, was simply thrilling. He supposed it was his own little way of taking back what was his. Taking back everything Leonard had stolen over the years. The years of pain, both physical and mental, and humiliation... It would come to an end. It had to. Ed wasn't entirely sure just how much more he could take before... Well, he'd rather not think about it.

What possessed Evelina to reach out to touch the blade, he had no clue. But she did, and held her hand up to show the mead of blood that began to run down into her palm. Ed couldn't do anything as she spoke, he simply stared at her, face unusually placid. His insides were turmoil. It was an odd mixture. He could only keep his face like that when the monster was clutching to him. That wasn't how this talk was supposed to go. In fact there wasn't even supposed to be a talk. No one was supposed to know. The chances of Evelina finding out what he was planning was slim, and yet she had.

Did it matter whose blood it was? It did, very much so. Evelina didn't deserve to have her blood spilt. She'd earned the right to live through merely being a decent person, in Edward's eyes. How could someone as disgusting, as horrible, as cruel as Leonard be encourage to live? His mind was slipping again... Slipping into that dark place again. He let her take the axe, let her turn it to stone. He could always get another one after all. Though relationships were fragile, and he couldn't risk letting go of Evelina. Murder wouldn't be what destroyed him, but losing her would be.

He looked from the axe that was now stone back to Evelina. Was he really better than murder? Why exactly was murdering someone who deserved it necessarily 'lowering' oneself? Deep down, he knew it was. He truly did.

"The difference," he started "Is that it's your blood," he gritted his teeth, though he hadn't realised he'd done so until he started talking. He took off his glasses, inattentively cleaning them on his shirt. Her outline blurred as he did this. It almost made it easier for him to truly let go. He was about to lose it, he could feel himself beginning to shake.

"You're missing the point of it all, of all of this." he gestured to his half-finished machine "This," he voice was beginning to rise, steadily "This is what I'm good at. This," he placed his glasses back on his nose and turned to look at the machine "It's proof, or will be, that brains beat brawn. That I'm not just some stupid little boy anymore," he begun to yell "That's going to sit by while, day after day, he torments me," his fist was clenched, and he squeezed his eyes shut while he took deep breaths, trying to calm down. Of course, calming down wasn't so easy for him.

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PostSubject: Re: Better Than This [Edwina AU]   Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:31 pm


His words barely registered. By then, the bleeding had stopped, so minute was the wound. In a days time, it would be gone completely, barely a reminder of what had happened -- what she'd done. He gritted his teeth, and she held back a flinch. Had she ever seen him this angry?

His next words, the yell, brought forth another urge to shy away, but she won a second time and remained steadfast. "Feeling better now?" she said, but her voice wobbled. Her mind was clouded with emotions, confusion. Leonard has made her a target too, but she'd responded to all his attempts with a sarcastic retort and a carefree attitude, as though the words didn't sting. They did, of course, but she'd learnt a long time ago that her definition was not in what others called her but what she knew herself to be. Words were only words and could change none of that.

But Edward, sweet sweet Edward, with all the quirks that made him, him that she would never change for the world... he hadn't learnt this yet. And seeing him like this, so close to breaking, so close to giving in, broke her heart in ways she didn't know it could be broken. He was being so vulnerable, so raw, so honest. It was a moment to be treasured if not for the ledge on which it was balanced. It shouldn't be this way, she thought. He shouldn't have to contemplate murder for things to change.

She closed her eyes for but a moment, squeezing them shut in hopes that she could will them away, but her eyelids only collected the liquid and when she next opened them, she could see the tiny drops against her lashes. One more blink and they fell, two tears, tracing a glittery, invisible path down each cheek. She wasn't crying because he was yelling, or because she was hurt; she was crying because he couldn't see what she saw. And that, she realised, was what he needed to hear more than anything else -- more than a lecture, more than right and wrong, more than 'better than this', he needed to know this.

"Do you know what I see when I look at you?" she asked, softly. Any louder and her voice would break. She stepped forward. "I see a boy learning to become a man. I see a friend to confide in. I see a genius, someone who takes parts and odds and ends and builds-" she gestured around "-these amazing machines." She swallowed; two more tears fell. "I see someone who has so, so much potential -- too much to waste on a stupid, immature boy like Leonard." Another step forward, closing the gap. "I see someone I've let down, because I didn't realise how hard Leonard was on you, how much it affected you. I see humanity and the capability to do so much good, to turn something meant for evil into something that helps others facing what you are."

He was angry, she knew that much, but she was driven by something more than fear, something stronger -- love. Love for the boy she'd grown up these last few years with. Love for the boy she never fully understood but found remarkable nevertheless. Love for the friend he'd become. Love for the person he could be. In time, she wondered if this platonic emotion would turn to more; she was already teetering on the edge of it. But now wasn't the time and she pushed the idea out. Instead, cautiously, she reached out and put her arms around him, pulling him towards her and holding him tightly. Why was she still crying? She didn't know, not even as she hugged him.

"I see Edward, my friend, someone I care about," she continued, softly. "Leonard does not define you, Ed. What he says, what he does... that doesn't change who you are unless you let it." She paused, and then in barely a whisper, "Please, Ed, don't let him. I need you, not what this would make you."

She couldn't let go. Part of her wanted to, so she could see his face, look him in the eyes so she could tell what he was thinking, but she couldn't. Her arms had locked themselves around him and as she steadied her breathing to control the tears, she added, "We'll get through this together. But not like this, Ed. Not like this."

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PostSubject: Re: Better Than This [Edwina AU]   Sun Aug 06, 2017 3:25 pm

Upon seeing that Evelina had begun to cry, his stomach dropped. He hadn't meant to upset her, but he'd just... Snapped. All the years he'd spent acting as though he were completely fine, bruised and battered on the outside of course, those years where he'd cried external tears, tears due to the physical pain while paying no mind to the effect Leonard had on him internally. It'd built, and built, like a volcano. Until just now when he'd blown his top, and of all people, Evelina was the person who'd gotten the brunt of his anger. She was kind, too kind for him. Edward had a cruel streak, a streak that urged him to act on plans and schemes- never impulses. No, impulses were too dangerous, too unpredictable, his streak warned him. But plots, a logical approach. Hours upon hours of pondering everything that could potentially go wrong, and fixing it. He enjoyed that. He enjoyed it even more knowing that it would lead to Leonard's downfall.

An axe to the face. It'd be difficult to clean, but he'd manage. Perhaps he'd even be able to dismantle his little device, and get rid of the body before anyone even noticed that Leonard's absence was unusual. His mind was slipping again. He instead decided to focus on the present, on Evelina as she spoke, words soft and gentle and uplifting, and undoubtedly making him doubt his decision in the first place, to think up such a plan. He found himself relaxing, shaking not nearly as much as he had been when he finally vented to her his frustrations.

He stood rooted to the spot as she moved steadily towards him while she spoke. In all honesty, he didn't know what else to do. Until finally she hugged him. His arms remained limp by his sides, feeling like lead, for a few moments at least before he decided to bring them up, returning the hug. He mulled over her words. Amazing potential, genius... In that moment he felt like nothing of the sorts. He'd always feared being rendered ordinary, it was one of the reasons he'd taken pride in being who he was, which had ultimately made him a target. His supposed potential had become a curse, a burden. That curse had twisted it into something almost unrecognisable. Something, he was now realising thanks to Evelina, that would become permanent had he followed through with his plot.

She was trying, she truly was. And part of his rational brain had started to berate him, for letting himself become so pathetic that he was willing to risk it all for someone as useless as Leonard. If per chance, he was caught, he'd lose everything, from his future to his family. It was thinking back over his words, however, that he realised that something worse bugged him. The fact that blamed herself, that she thought she'd let him down. No. He couldn't let her put herself at fault. All she'd ever been was supportive, was kind and generous and caring.

A moment passed. A second, a minute. He couldn't really tell, only that all the time seemed to merge together. He analysing, processing and trying to figure out the best possible response he could give. He squeezed his eyes shut while he figured out how to place the words he wanted to say.

"M-much better," his voice was barely above a whisper, a stark contrast from his yelling beforehand. It was the truth too, now that it had flooded out of him, he'd felt a sense of relief. As though the pressure had been released and he was back to himself. Himself was an odd feeling, after all this time.

"Pl-please don't blame yourself," he murmured, pulling back slightly in an attempt to look her straight in the eye "I-I don't think you c-could. Let me down that is," he added softly. That was something he needed her to know, something he needed to emphasise.

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PostSubject: Re: Better Than This [Edwina AU]   Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:41 am

The two words brought a sense of comfort to her. She believed him; there was a sense of realness to his tone that told her he wasn't merely saying words to make her feel better. He was going to be alright, and the relief of that stopped the tears. Still, she didn't let go of him for a few more moments. Now that her mind had cleared a little from the panic of seeing someone she cared about teetering so close to the point of no return, she was beginning to realise the implications of what she was doing. Sure, she hugged people often, but never like this -- never with so much meaning or for so long.

Why had she done it?

For too many reasons to understand. She'd wanted to do it previously, although exactly when she couldn't recall. It was just something she knew she'd considered before. Of course, she hadn't, mostly because she didn't know how he'd react. Was he a hugging person? Did he hate physical touch as some of her other friends did? Was he sensitive? She also didn't want to send any mixed messages, as some hugs did. But mostly, she didn't do it because she wasn't sure it wouldn't be a mixed message; she wasn't sure how she felt about him, not of late -- and especially not now.

But before she could say anything, he'd gone on, and she blinked, watching his eyes intently as he spoke. There was so much she wanted to say, but couldn't, didn't know how to.

It felt... right, somehow, hugging him, holding him. Like she was meant to be there and he was meant to be here. But as much as Evelina wanted to stay there forever and have the feeling never end, there were some thing she needed to clarify and needed him to know and needed to know. And so, almost reluctantly, after letting the hug drag on for as long as realistically possible, she let go and stepped back.

"I'm glad," she said, a fluster of embrassment making her cheeks heat up just a little. Why was she feeling like that? She didn't know. But that wasn't important right now. Instead, choosing her words carefully, she said, "But Ed, I have. Friends are supposed to be there for each other. To make sure the other is okay, and make sure they never fall off the cliff and lose themselves to darkness." She paused. "Actually, they're supposed to make sure they never get close to the edge. But I haven't done that. I've been so caught up in other things that I didn't realise how much you were hurting and suffering and I let-" she gestured to the axe behind her "-this get planned. I didn't see it before, didn't see the warning signs. And for that, I am sorry."

Glancing around, she took in the machine, and an idea formed. "Why put this to waste? It's Christmas, right? Let's do what you said -- make this a present for someone. Except let's actually do that. A few years ago, in this awards show for muggles, they dropped these packets of sweets from above. They were attached to some parachute thing, so it didn't hurt anyone and... I don't know. Is that something we could do? For Christmas, I mean."

There was a short pause, and then Evelina took a breath. There was something else she had to do. Turning a little, she picked up the axe. It was much heavier, now that it was stone, but she just about managed. Holding it towards Ed, she added softly, "I think you know what you need to do."

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PostSubject: Re: Better Than This [Edwina AU]   Mon Aug 14, 2017 2:36 pm

The hug was something that he hadn't realised he'd needed until he got it. He normally didn't like hugs, nor was his family very warm in that regard. He normally insisted on keeping his distance. Though this wasn't a normal situation. Warmth, compassion, they were things that Evelina seemed to give so freely, and yet he'd been deprived of them for, well, he couldn't remember how long. Things that one didn't realise they were missing until they finally received it. He felt calm with her around, something he rarely felt. His brain always seemed to be buzzing, thinking of something, anything, and yet not really of the present. He tended to look to the future, to what he might do. Rarely to the past, rarely of the present. The present often wasn't pleasant. Until of course, now.

She stepped back, almost too soon in Ed's opinion. But he wasn't about to say anything. He wasn't entirely sure how long they had hugged, he hadn't been keeping track. Longer than normal though, that much he was sure of. Was there a 'normal' hug time limit for this sort of thing? He didn't know. He couldn't pin point why he'd thought of that. He was overthinking it, as per usual. He felt weird, nervous again, almost. Though not in his usual way. It was then she went on, talking again about her being too oblivious to realise that there had been something wrong.

Edward was, by nature, secretive. He could act entirely normal (well, as normal as himself would allow), despite the situation he was in, despite what he was feeling. He was no master at lying, no great manipulator (yet), he was simply able to focus his energy on things that kept him busy. It was no wonder that Evelina hadn't noticed his decent as he acted like, well like Edward normally would. Overly excited about new and intriguing concepts, focused on whatever his project was at the current time, sometimes flitting between two or three different ones... He supposed they were all distractions, the things he threw his spare time into. All ways of making it so no one could see the real him, not even himself. They were a means to bury whatever woe he was feeling at the time. Could that be why sometimes it was difficult for even himself to identify what he was feeling? Over thinking, yet again.

The conversation, thankfully, turned up, with Evelina forming an idea that would redeem him. They'd gone full revolution of a story, it seemed. Discovery, conflict, high-intensity emotions. And now, Edward was feeling calm, and all those emotions had been let loose, thrown to the wind. Instead of it being a present that would slice someone's face into two, it would be more of a traditional sort. One that was actually welcome, not one that was the most terrible kind of surprise. That, he could easily do. It wasn't hard, especially if he used some sort of charm so it would release the sweets only when one walked underneath it. And honestly, he liked that idea. It was much better than his initial thought, to smash it to pieces. Weeks upon weeks of hard work, planning, wasted. That wouldn't do. Edward wasn't wasteful, especially since resources for his machines were so difficult to get. It had to be a good idea, because already in his mind, he was turning over what improvements he could make that would lead to something less deadly.

He carefully took hold of the axe as she handed it to him, and he could really feel the weight of it, so much so that he had to rest it on the floor. Almost automatically, he'd thought this sort of axe might be better. A greater weight, blunt... There'd be less blood, he could even make it look like Leonard had hit his head while falling at a high force down the stairs, or off the astronomy tower... He physically pulled himself back, glancing quickly at Evelina before looking back to the axe. Slowly, he took out his wand before he dragged the axe to the centre of the room. Standing a fair distance away, he aimed at it, hand shaking only slightly.

"Bombarda," he murmured. And the axe, it shattered. Redemption, of sorts, achieved. There was still an ever so slight inkling of disappointment. That Leonard would eat, and drink, and breathe... Exist in general. That Leonard would be back after the Christmas holidays, and that things would be back to normal. He'd been hoping for change, something new, refreshing. 'Perhaps instead of his usual torment of name-calling and some punches to the stomach, he'd be more creative and use something that took actual skill' he thought bitterly.

He didn't know how long he spent looking at the remains of what had been the star of his master plan. Hopefully it wasn't so long that it would be weird. But over that either long or short time, he realised that a sense of peace had settled over him. He wasn't in control of himself, not consciously at least. His legs were oddly light as they carried him back over to where Evelina had been standing.

Was it acting on impulse if he didn't actively decide to do anything? Probably. Almost certainly in Edward's case. Edward always overthought things. Weighing the pros against the cons, deciding what course of action would be good, what bad. His mind, normally a jumble of thoughts, was crystal clear. It wasn't often that that happened. It was strangely pleasant, though he certainly wouldn't want it to be a daily occurrence. A one off, however, was occasionally needed.

He stopped in front of her, standing closer than he'd stood before. This choice however, was active. It had to be. He couldn't be passive about it. Of course, he was still acting on impulse, he'd given himself no time to ponder over what the effect might be. It was something, he reconciled, he'd wanted to act upon for quite some time, yet he'd never had the guts to do so. Slowly, he reached out his hand, placing it gently on her cheek, not saying a word, before he leaned in and softly kissed her.

Impulse wasn't usually an indulgence he allowed himself. It simply felt right to do so. Right for him, hopefully right for her. He'd hoped beyond hope that he hadn't made some stupid mistake.

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PostSubject: Re: Better Than This [Edwina AU]   Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:26 am

There was nothing to be said, nothing to be done. Everything she wanted to say she'd laid bare, and what she couldn't had been said in the hug. All that was left was Edward and these emotions inside her that she couldn't place and didn't ever want to; why complicated feelings with words? They existed as they were, hopeful and wonderful and heartbreaking all at the same time, speaking of second chances and redemption and love. Evelina watched, the light refracting off the unshed tears in her eyes that didn't fall, making them glint and shine.

In them reflected Edward as he took the axe from her. In the silence that followed, she could hear only her breating and his breathing, somehow in sync, as though in that moment they were one. Still she waited, still she said nothing. She could see him hesitate, the thoughts running through his mind. What was he thinking? What was he wondering and hoping? She could not tell, and did not want to know. Whatever it was, he would make the right choice -- that much she believed and knew.

The glance was returned with a smile and a single nod. Yes, she tried to tell him without words. You can do this. I know you can. The spell was cast and she felt her heart soar. He'd done it, as she knew he was capable of. There was a short, dim rattling as the pieces fell and scattered around the room, the sound of victory and triumph, not defeat.

She watched him watch the pieces. It had taken a lot for him to do that, and she was more than a little proud of him. But now was not the time to speak, and in silence, she waited. He needed time to come to grasps with what he'd done, the path he'd chosen to walk away from, the consequences of it. Life wouldn't be the same for either of them, that much she knew. Better, but different.

They -- for now she was as much a part of this as Edward -- would have to hide this forever, a buried secret of the depravities of the human mind. It was a secret worth hiding, and a incident worth forgetting. And they would have to find a way to stop Leonard, together, without sinking to violence. But Edward would never be alone again, that much Evelina promised both herself and him.

He stepped over towards her, and for a moment she wondered what he was going to say. What was she going to say? Well done sounded so... small in comparison to what he'd done. She was proud, yes, but it wasn't enough to convey how she felt, either. And then his hand was on her cheek and her thoughts came to a stop, her heart starting to race. What was he doing?

She felt his lips on hers before she could comprehend what was going on, her body tensing for a brief moment. And then, as time slowed down and her brain caught up with the moment, she found her arms moving automatically, one moving around his waist, pulling him towards her, the other resting gently on the back of his neck. Slowly, her eyes closed and she found herself kissing him back, feelings suddenly clear -- she loved him.

Loved him not as a friend, nor as that Ravenclaw she hung out with, but rather as more, as one loved the night sky -- fully, for themselves, and for no other reason than they exist. The kiss lasted many long moments, each one more enjoyable than the last, until it came to an end moments too soon. Pulling back just a little, Eve met his eyes, searching them, needing to know he felt the same, that this hadn't been done for any other reason. And then, when she found what she was looking for, Eve smiled, a content, happy smile, and pulled him closer once more, allowing their lips to meet in happy, complete bliss.

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