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Old Friend and a New Mask  PV Reid   Closed 

It had been a whole summer and change since Ben had spoken to any of his friends from Hogwarts. His return home was met with apprehension from his parents and indifference from the muggle world. It's what he had wanted. No one would give him strange looks, accuse him of wrong doing, or even attempt to attack him. The muggle world was safest for him and he considered not returning to Hogwarts at all when it came time for a new school year. A know-nothing muggle boy had made huge mistakes and alienated every single one of his friends. He was harsh in judging himself or even blaming himself for it. Those who understood the full situation did not blame the boy. Yet... he did. The mask had been off for some time now but now he wore another. A mask of shame and regret.

Ben had, at the last minute, decided to return to the school. It was not like the wizarding community would truly give him a choice. A magical child had to be properly taught to control their power. They wouldn't allow someone like him to be out of their sights for too long. So little was understood about the magic of the old mask. Questions abounded but memory was a tricky thing. It came back little by little and it wasn't pleasant. He recalled it being like a horrible roller coaster you couldn't control or exit. Everything he had said, everything he had done... it was guided by an invisible hand.

"Bombarda!" He screamed while pointing his wand at the center of the pitch. "I ... said... Bombarda!"

Sparks sputtered from his wand the first time but the boy was thrown back in utter failure the second time. This spell worked when he was under the mask but it seemed he didn't have the proper focus or control without it. While it took everything from Ben... it gave him power. Sometimes he almost missed it. Feeling in control, confident, and powerful... it was so opposite of how he usually felt as a muggle-born among the wizards. Now even casting a spell hurt him, terrified him even.

"Damnit..," Ben whispered to himself as he sat up in the grass. "What happened to me here..."

His first taste of freedom came from this pitch. Ben ran for his life after his mind had been ripped apart. He knew nothing of himself, others, or... anything. It was nothing more than a mindless animal running from a threat. The deeper he went into the forest, the more he regained of himself. Running had always cleared his mind. Running was his outlet for staying in shape and sharpening the mind. A muggle technique but an effective one nonetheless. Being out on the pitch now had started as a run, but he had to come here and face his recent past. It wasn't working. He had avoided Bloom for months now, and he wondered how angry and hurt she would be when they inevitably crossed paths again. His other friends likely worried as well. Ben hurt for them but was unsure he could face them now after what he had become.

Tears silently streamed down Ben's face. He lowered his gaze to the grass with his long bangs falling in front of his face. Rumors must have been all over school. He wished there was a way to return to the way things had been before Easter. Back before the mask ever found itself on Ben. When life was... good. Life was falling apart now. All he could manage in the moment was to sit in the grass and cry.

Old Friend and a New Mask  PV Reid   Closed 

Ben Eckenrode, the boy who wore the mask. A marionette manipulated by an unseen hand that caused minor chaos on the Hogwarts grounds for... a few months perhaps. The boy had made a name for himself of course, the sort of names he garnered worse likely in his head than in reality. In her opinion, whoever it was that was behind his ordeal had wasted an opportunity. What sort of power did a first year like this dork have?  Not enough.

It was a virulent curiosity that caused the Slytherin to seek Ben out. She did not know much about the boy, only that he was a red jacket and whatever whispers she had heard from her peers. Usually rumors were the opposite of the truth in her experience. She checked the usual haunts for the socially inept, the outcast and the awkward because of course that was where you find kids that like to call themselves damaged. And of course, that was where she would find him, alone in the Quidditch Training Pitch.

She would take a deep breath, she had no fear not because she was confident or fearless but because she was simply incapable. She was taking this moment to study him. He looked utterly and completely average to her. There was nothing exceptional about him. She could have lined him up with several others from his house and had a hard time telling them apart. She was disappointed, she was hoping for something exceptional. Something worthwhile. Something... Well, never mind. He was a nothing as far as she was concerned and while that was disappointing she had spent the better part of the day tracking him down.  

He was casting, well trying. The try hards don't necessarily die hard. 

Pro -- he sucks at casting. Good, so doesn't Erin.

She would approach, the boy without saying a word. He seemed to be "having an emo moment for yourself," Erin announced the last part of her thought out-loud. Erin did not ask to be invited to sit, she would simply plop onto the grass next to him and stare at him like a zoo animal. "Sad." She commented, stating the obvious. Fascinating. "There is a lot of that here," she complained. It was like having chicken for the fourth night in a row to the second year.

"Why are you back?" Yes she was digging for something better. Something palatable. "Or is this one of those rich boy likes to cry a lot deals because they think everyone is mad at them?" She scoffed. If he tried to leave she would attempt to grab his shoulder and lower him back down to his emo cry seat. "Dude, you flippendo'd a few kids and stayed out after curfew and got to blame it on some sort of mask," Erin was far from a sweet little girl. "Tell you the truth, I call bullshit that someone wasted some rare artifact on the face of a first year with crap casting," she accused. She actually did not believe what she was saying but the truth mattered less than the effect of her words. He was not worth controlling.

Just a trick of the lighting they said...

Old Friend and a New Mask  PV Reid   Closed 

IT was all over the school, the news spread like wildfire and to Reid he frankly couldn't believe it. The boy who he kicked a ball around with in the beginning of the school year actually went out of his way to hurt others. He was torn, he went off of what Bloom told him and what he had experienced that day and Ben seemed to be an upstanding young lad. Not only that, he seemed to be part of a very good house. If anything, he thought it would be a Slytherin or a Gryffindor. To be perfectly honest, he was tailing Ben and he had seen the boy not too long ago. Though he realized he wasn't the only person actually looking for Ben as he noticed another figure making their way to the Pitch.

RARELY did anyone make the trip to the Pitch for a nice stroll in such frigid weather. It was terribly cold in the Fall and Winter seasons. A shaky sigh came from him as he came to halt at the mouth of the Training Pitch, pausing just for a split second to listen if there was any voice. Silence as far as he was concerned and that gave him the steady confidence to trudge on, despite how cold the weather was. He made a slight noise, gritted teeth as he saw the scene not too far from him. Reid came to the pitch to ask Ben 'why' and 'what happened'.

ANSWERS were what he wanted, surely everyone did. But this person seemed to have different ideas in mind and it became evident the closer he got within earshot. "Hey ..." His voice faltered, quiet as he took the time to process her words laced with poison. But finally it became clear as day to him, he heard the things that the girl was saying and naturally it didn't sit right with him. It didn't take a genius to know that this person might not be the nicest student around the block, perhaps around the school. The Hufflepuff found his voice as he came around to stand not too far between the Slytherin and the Ravenclaw, "Hey, hold on. That doesn't matter now, does it? The bloody mask is the problem, not Ben. Did you even ask him what happened?"

sic parvis magna.
> STA. 6, EV. 8, STR. 14, WIS. 6, AP. 4, ACC. 7
> ABL: OS, TMC

Old Friend and a New Mask  PV Reid   Closed 

A random girl he did not know approached but seemed to know exactly who he was. Of course she did. Ben imagined everyone would know soon if they didn't already. Her words likely would have brought up the anger again had it not been for Reid appearing. While the two had not been super close in the past, they were at least friends. Were at one point at least. Reid seemed to stand up for Ben in this instance which he found a bit odd, but it was welcome. The last thing he needed was to lash out at some girl.

"Hello, Reid." He said, wiping away the tears now that they'd stopped flowing for the moment. "So, I guess everyone knows."

Ben purposefully ignored the girl sitting next to him in his verbal response. A glance to her was the most he really gave. He did not know her and she was just butting in to be hurtful. Ben was all too familiar with intruding and hurting someone. That was his entire state of being when the mask was on. It still pulled at him and he wondered if the Master was still out there. The feelings were odd but he sometimes wanted to run into the woods and find them again. Though he was unsure if he would find anything now. That was just the mask talking anyways. Time would heal this... probably.

"What are people even saying?"He asked Reid, the tinge of anger present but mostly controlled.

Old Friend and a New Mask  PV Reid   Closed 

"Would it even matter?" Erin replied with a cold tone and a strange lop-sided grin as she stood up. It was the sort of grin one would see on a child about to cause mischief, except Erin was far worse than a playful deviant. She would glance over Ben's 'protector' he seemed sturdy enough but was his intervention one of duty or one of heart. "Matter whose fault it is, that is," she clarified. She had a foolish lack of fear considering the cauldron she was about to stir. She did not recognize Reid, he was very briefly head boy, a position that seems to chew students up and swallow them whole -- how many of them did they have last year? Three

"I don't care if he" she gestured towards Ben with her hand "was conscious and aware of what he did." She let out a laugh, the idiocy of the statement. "There are kids that do a lot worse than run around at night and give a few students a good scare or a cheap thrill," she claimed. She would be one of them, one of those 'worse' creatures. "What I am interested in is why?" She gave a sideways eye back towards Ben but her stance faced Ben's 'boyfriend.' "He is so... so..." she was trying to find the right word, something that would define his mundane cry-baby act, that fact that he was nothing special. "Pedestrian," she exhaled. Did he even come from an honored house? She did not know his name, if he came from a pureblood line they were small and nothing special, as wholly insignificant as he was.

"There has to be a reason, there is always a reason..." she claimed as she pondered out loud what had made such an insignificant boy so special. "Was it your weakness or your strength?" Her attention entirely on Ben now. Erin was nothing more than that odd girl that for the most part got lost in the crowd despite her oddities or was left with a wide breadth when she took a seat at the Slytherin table. "Why was it you when there are so many more capable people in this school? Why a first year? Why YOU?" She did not care that she was being ignored, he would not ignore her for long. They never did. 

But he could try. After all his boyfriend was quite pretty, she wondered what sort of face he made when angry. "So Reid," that was the name Ben used. "You seem like a reasonable sort of person?" The tone had the inflection of a question as she was seeking active affirmation. "This mask is the problem, not poor Ben right?" She waited for a nod, an affirmation. "He is just a victim, right? Poor Ben." Her voice dripped with sarcasm, of course she wanted to rile him. Then she wanted to force him to make a choice, she already had a guess which choice he would make but it would be a riot to see him make it or to prove to her that he was nothing more than a pretty face. 

"First year, right? He can... I dunno, make the tip of his 'lil wand light up. Maybe push something back a few feet. Super useful to someone with a rare artifact. Chilling really. All that effort to put a mask on some boy, some first year boy with the skill level of a muggle magician at a child's birthday party." Yes she was insulting Ben but she was not wrong. That was the point. There was a gaping flaw in Ben's story true or not. How and why did it become him. "But don't worry... Ben is a victim because he says he is. Let's just turn off those last two brain cells that were vibrating real hard to keep your head warm for a moment and go with that. Then why would someone with that sort of skill, skill to get this artifact, use such a powerful artifact on him?"

Just a trick of the lighting they said...

Old Friend and a New Mask  PV Reid   Closed 

WHAT interested him and kind of worried him about the Slytherin was she was loose-lipped, he didn't do well with people who talked this much. She was setting something up, setting up some sort of argument that he didn't anticipate having with her. He saw that Ben was crying and it sort of angered him, he often ran into these scenes in the schoolyards back in his muggle school. Whatever happened in the last few minutes was probably futile for him to figure out, whoever this person was, she seemed like she was out for something. She had an air of superiority, it was not hard to see that she had the brains, which something he lacked.

THIS would be hard without making a fool of himself, but he wasn't here to really save his own pride. In the beginning, he was here to talk to Ben - but he wanted to do it where someone like the Slytherin girl wasn't around. Just his luck, she was testing him and he was trying to keep up. There was no chance for him to rebuke her points, ones that seemed so solid that he found himself intimidated a little by her case. Still, Reid held his ground, listening with a frown that grew nearly permanent lines on his features.

ALL of that and she posed the question she was so curious about; why him? Foot in the ground, pressing with the weight of a thousand planets as he fell silent. Like clockwork, the thought ticked with a grim urgency. Comics, he's read comics and that was the first thing he drew some sort of answer from. "Bad people don't always need a reason to choose anyone. If ..." He paused, drawing a frustrated hand through his messy brown hair. "If you knew everything they did, they'd be one bloody terrible villain. If you were them ... If you were them, I guess you'd give it to someone with more power. I think."

REID sharply inhaled, clenching his jaw like a bear trap before speaking again with a stamped certainty. "You would, dunno, someone like you I suppose." He didn't know if she was all talk and no bite, perhaps she really did think that she was more 'worthy' then Ben was. It sort of connected in his mind of some turning argument. "Jealous that it wasn't you that was chosen?" It was a little antagonistic and frankly off the cuff of him to say, but he thought she was terribly mean for insulting Ben. She didn't say it blatantly, but someone would have to be a complete daftie if they didn't pick up on it.

HE struggled to close the discussion, to nail the coffin shut. Reid straightened his posture rather dangerously, almost challenging. "Either way, why does it matter right now? He's been through enough, wouldn't you want to be left alone?" He glanced at Ben then turned his attention back to the girl with some sort of confidence that laid on these accusations. Reid didn't mean to get so upset with her, but he didn't really see Ben as someone needing of being put on the spot. He wouldn't want to be Ben right now if it came to it.

THAT was the simple concept of this whole defense for Eckenrode, if it were him, he wouldn't want to be confronted by the Slytherin. Reid gestured back towards the school that towered in the distance. Be nice, a naive and simple concept he was taught of when he was growing up. He was a child of solid moral principles, but it was hard for people to believe in it. "People are talking, everyone is, even the paintings for Merlin's sake. Dun' think he wants to hear it after all this time; jus' some courtesy is all. You want answers, everyone does, but doing this to him isn't right."

sic parvis magna.
> STA. 6, EV. 8, STR. 14, WIS. 6, AP. 4, ACC. 7
> ABL: OS, TMC