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Welcome to Charming, the year is now 1892. It’s time to join us and immerse yourself in scandal and drama interlaced with magic both light and dark.

Where will you fall?

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“Got the morbs” was Victorian slang for a temporary melancholia — Dante
In a panic sort of reaction, she shut the door but neglected to make sure she was on the other side of it.
the thrill of the chase moves in mysterious ways

trade that typical for something colorful;;
May 16th - Hogwarts Castle Grounds (early afternoon)

May had come and gone so quickly that Basil felt like he’d missed practically all of it. How was it that he was already knee-deep in exam preparation for his students? Where had the final Ravenclaw quidditch match gone? How had the Hogsmeade weekend passed? He frankly wasn’t even sure he remembered the outcome of the match, he was so immersed in exams. This year, like most others, Basil had decided to do a puzzle box - of sorts - for his students. Each of them had to follow a set of written instructions to transfigure a portion of the box. Each transfiguration - color, shape, size, swapping, etc. - would unlock the next set of instructions, or, open a compartment. The exam was completed and considered ‘passing’ when each student returned to him the prize at the very depth of each box. The first and second years would find a golden frog at the bottom of theirs to be transfigured back into a coin; the O.W.L students would find a golden snitch - to be ‘switched’ back with the key that would be sitting in the quidditch chest out on the grounds; and finally, his N.E.W.T students would find a riddle. The answer to the riddle would determine their level of competence and understanding of transfigurative hexes.

Basil was pleased with this year’s puzzles. It had taken him a good few weeks to figure out all the clues and pull together the instructional sheet revealing charms. He still had to wrap up a few more anti-cheating charms on the N.E.W.T instructions, but for now he’d decided to take a break. He was sore from being cooped up in his office all these past hours, and on a Monday no less. So instead, he’d decided to go swap his key prize for the O.W.L examinations with the snitch.

As he walked across the castle grounds down towards the Quidditch Pitch, Basil turned his face up towards the sun. It was only partly cloudy out today, but those few sunbeams made all the difference. He could practically feel the castle buzzing with student excitement for summer break and the sunshine only amplified that sense of looming freedom. Today marked the start of the Charms and Astronomy exams. Idly, Basil wondered how the other professors were fairing with their preparations. He couldn’t help but think about Lissington in particular.

It had been one month, almost to the date, since their last disastrous encounter. Basil still felt warm under the collar at the thought. He wasn’t angry anymore. Not really. Not like he had been. In fact, they’d managed to be quite civil as of late. Almost… friendly. It was painfully awkward on Basil’s part, and frankly just painful all around. He still had the ruinous urge to kiss the other silly whenever they met and the memories that accompanied just seeing Lissington… well, they didn’t help any. But somehow they’d managed to look past all of that. Or at least, they were pretending to. Today, as Basil’s thoughts turned towards the quirky red-head, he wondered how Lissington was doing with his own exam preparations. He knew the man had been anxious about his abilities as a professor.

As Basil deposited his query and began his trek back to the castle, he spotted a bright red speckle out of the corner of his eye just across the grounds. It was like his very thoughts had summoned the man out of thin air. (Because really, who else could it be zipping back and forth erratically like that?) The brunette let out a harrowing breath as something akin to doxy wings brushed against his intestines. He squashed the feeling even as his feet began to move in the other’s direction of their own accord. He would check in. He owed Lissington that much. They were supposed to be friends after all, right?

@Gus Lissington & lyric inspo because he needs gus to light up his life with fun

Gus was still trying to wrap his around what a practical exam meant. He’d done a thousand different practical things in his life with his knowledge, and how he was supposed to have his students showcase that in an afternoon was beyond him. During his years at Hogwarts, the practical exams had ranged from solving puzzles to spitting out answers to questions. He;d been better at some than others, although spitting out memorized spells and motions had been much more difficult for the former Hufflepuff than solving puzzles. He loved those. The professor he’d taken over had left in a rush, leaving him nothing to go off of for previous years.

It had sent Gus into a tizzy and he’d holed himself away for the first two weeks of May, only emerging from his hole for Hogsmeade Weekend (he needed his chocolate fix, and well, it wasn’t as if he could weasel out of chaperone duty), and classes, although he’d spent the better part of those having them read on their own or releasing them early so he could mull over what he was going to do. Finally, a conversation he’d had with Mason months prior had popped into his brain one sleepless night and Gus found himself out on the grounds the very next morning, casting spell after spell to build a maze for his students to go through, showcasing the different spells they’d been taught throughout the years, each level building on knowledge they should already have from years prior. The OWLs and NEWTs had separate exits, although he’d added in a third one for his first and second years, offering house points for those bold enough to try their way through it.

The course took much longer to build than he’d expected, and Gus had consumed a few wide-eye potions to ensure its creation before the exams were set to start - sleep? He didn’t need sleep. With a sigh he raked his fingers through his hair as he wondered if being a professor was actually for him. This maze was going to be his tell all and he was terrified of having failed his students in teaching them… anything. He shook the thoughts from his head. He’d just have to wait and see. This and that, here and there, Gus found himself poking and prodding, casting and recasting, tearing down walls and rebuilding them with such haste that he nearly forgot to breathe.

Finally, he stumbled backward to stare staring at with large eyes, still unsure if he’d made the right choice. What if it was too hard? Too easy? Too long? He should probably test the course, at the very least, although having someone who didn’t know it as well as Gus run through it would be even better. He turned then, blue hues scanning for a student he didn't recognize - he could offer house points for doing this, and with points as close as they were, a student would surely take him up on the offer. His eyes landed in Foxwood instead, and he seemed to be coming toward him with haste. He frowned as he jumped from foot to foot. Gus hadn’t done anything wrong to be sternly talked to!

“I think I made a mistake.” The words precipitously spilled from his mouth as the other neared him, and he blinked at him before he blew a hot breath from his mouth.This whole year had been one giant mistake. Then Gus motioned toward the maze behind him. He brushed his fingers through his hair before offering Foxwood a lopsided smile.

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   Basil Foxwood

[Image: UkiVTG8.png]
Basil couldn’t help but eye Lissington up and down as he approached the jittery professor. It was still somewhat difficult for him to reconcile, even after all this time, just how much Lissing had grown up since they’d last seen one another. He was so disgustingly handsome that it still made doxy’s flutter around in Basil’s gut. He was taller than the brunette, and definitely more defined in… every area, even those invisible under his robes. But Basil knew. Basil had felt that definition, quite a few times recently, and the thought of… well, all of it, made goosebumps tickle up and down his spine. It might also be frustrating how endearing all of the red-head’s facial expressions were too. Especially the one he turned on Basil then as the brunette approached, and blurted something out about a mistake. Basil couldn’t help but laugh.

“Oh?” He replied with a grin. “Is this mistake relating to that… monstrosity beside you, or just general life choices?” Basil gestured vaguely at the thing that had sprouted out of the ground behind Lissington. He was making a joke, but curiosity did prickle behind the sentiment. He knew better than to think Lissington would bring up their history now out of the blue like this, and call that a mistake. And, likely, he wasn’t referring to his teaching position here at Hogwarts because as far as Basil had seen, he’d been doing an excellent job, even with the hard parts like mentoring one on one. (He’d spoken to Poppy recently about her ambush of the poor red-head, but he wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. He’d made a mental note to ask Lissing about all that and just hadn’t… gotten around to it yet.) So that left only the hedge-looking thing behind the man as a potential mistake.

Basil stopped just beside Lissington, still grinning. That sweet, lopsided smile and small gesture made it harder for him to keep from aching, just a touch, but Basil managed it.

@Gus Lissington & lyric inspo because he needs gus to light up his life with fun

Fourteen days. That was all Gus had to last before he could declare he had survived his first year as a professor, even if it'd only been for a semester. Five of those days were classes, five of them exams, and the remaining would be dedicated to packing up and gearing up for the next school, which, rather recently Gus had decided to return to. It wasn’t exactly his calling, not yet at least, but seeing the young faces light up as they mastered a spell was something that made him well… happy. It was a lot different from Curse Breaking (and he really did have to lay off the sweets, even if Quin encouraged him to eat as much as humanly possible), but it was a good different. He was almost as proud to say he was a professor as he was to say he was a Curse Breaker - that would change with him, when became more confident. Or so he hoped.

He also had fourteen days left of constantly seeing Basil Foxwood. The man was in a good mood today as he cracked a joke that made Gus grin back at him. His fingers rubbed the back of his head before laughing quietly, tossing a quick glance at the maze he’d been working his tail off to create the past few days. It was larger than he’d expected it to be, but he’d added in a few extra twists and turns, and if they got lost, well, there were extra spells they learned to show them the right way. It was just more effort.

Shaking his head, Gus drew himself back to reality where Basil had all but saddled up to him. His feet paused and his heart stopped. When had the man been chosen to be this close to him? He all but forgot to breath, although when he did he exhaled with a laugh. “Well I did eat a Rocoto pepper on a dare once and swear I still can’t taste some things, but this,” The redhead tossed a look over his head before he turned back toward Basil with a larger grin. “Is today’s mistake. Someone said practical, I said okay.” He scratched at his cheek.

If Basil was in a good mood, he wondered if he would be the one to go through it with him, so he could work out the kinks before the students ran through it. “I well, I’m not sure if it’s… ah, working? I worked my butt off getting it built, but I haven’t had a chance to run through it, which would be useless because I know it…” Feeling himself beginning to ramble, Gus couldn’t help the embarrassment that was flooding his cheeks. “I well, Mr. Foxwood, would you? Help me? Because if I did in fact make a mistake, I would like to fix it before I have students run through it.” He was not above begging the other professor, and if he turned up the puppy-dog eyes, well, he could only hope that Basil wasn’t immune to them.

"And I promise no memory spells were used to make this!" Added bonus.

[Image: UkiVTG8.png]
Basil could feel the grin on his face stretch wider to the point where it should have hurt, really, considering he never looked like that at anyone. It had been a long time since Basil Foxwood had been really and truly amused. It would seem the thought of Lissing eating a pepper and then roasting through it with regrets… well, that just about did it. He chuckled a bit and the turned with the other to face the so called monstrosity behind them. Ah, so it was Lissington’s practical exam… Well that explained some things.

Basil eyed the collection of hedges sprouting haphazardly in the middle of Hogwarts grounds. Now that he sort of knew what it was, he could in fact distinguish that it was a maze, especially as he spotted what was likley an entrance just near them. From Lissington’s anxious babbling alone one might not guess as much, but if their shared history gave Basil any advantage it was that he’d learned so speak ‘Gus’ fluently. He could tell the red-head was getting embarrassed though as Lissing’s cheeks heated and pale skin betrayed him. Basil was only infinitely amused.

…Until the other asked him to run through the maze, that was. Basil’s grey eyes widened a touch and surprise flickered across his face. “I— wha— me?” He hadn’t been expecting that. As Lissington turned his most pleading look in the brunette’s direction however, Basil knew he no longer had a choice. He was a conniving bastard, Augustus Lissington. Basil had never been able to deny that look anything, not in the past and certainly not now. He turned to peer at the maze more closely, pausing only to snort at the other’s quip about memory charms. Good, he thought. He trusted Lissington’s hand at memory charms more than his baby cousin’s, but he wasn’t keen on tempting fate again, regardless.

“I suppose I can lend a hand,” the brunette sighed dramatically. Basil ran a hand through his hair mussing it and grinned at the other professor. If he was going to do the man a favor, he was certainly going to milk it. What better way to force normalcy than to fake it? To pretend everything was right as rain? “But you, sir, have to accompany me in case there is anything amiss. I won’t be caught a fool again by your subject going awry, and wandering alone in the dark no less!” He assumed it would be dark, as these things tended to be. If the thought of being alone with Lissington in the dark in cramped quarters made Basil’s heart beat a little faster, he didn’t notice.

It had been a long time since he’d seen Basil this…blissful. He was grinning, and Gus swore he felt doxys fluttering around his stomach; he laid his hand against it. This was the Basil he’d fallen in love with, and this was the man he always wanted to see: the grin, the amusement, the way he looked as if there was nothing in the world that was weighing against his shoulders. He wondered whowhat had caused the mood, but didn’t find it was his place to ask. Once upon a time, maybe, but here and now, well, Basil Foxwood wasn’t his anymore.

Shaking his head, the professor watched the man nervously eye the maze he’d been working his tail off to build, and found him grimacing - was it too much? Basil was going to tell him it was a daft idea and that would be horrendous because it was the only idea he had outside of throwing spells at his student’s faces one by one, and he had a strong feeling that would be frowned upon. Mason had said an obstacle course, though that had been back in January - maybe he’d meant a lesson and not a practical exam, but they were practically the same thing where Gus was concerned.

Basil was the best person to ask for him when it came to people who would be honest with him - some of the older professors, sensing his inability to believe he was ineffective, sugarcoated their words to him. He knew Foxwood was beyond that with him, even if he’d be gentle while telling him. The shock spread across his features, quick but there, and Gus breathed out a deep sigh of relief as he agreed without much struggle. “I, thank you.

he redhead breathed out a quiet laugh, nodding his head. It would be difficult to see what needed to be changed, what he may have cast the wrong spell for and anything else he'd managed to muck up in the few days he'd been working on it without seeing it first hand. Besides, it would remind him of the good ol' days where he spent too much of his days wandering around lost. “Of course. I need to see what needs to be changed, and what may be too hard. I wouldn’t dream of being anywhere but at your side through this.” Gus almost threw a wink in for good measure, but he didn’t want to ruin the mood Basil was in. He was pleased to spend time with him in a way that didn’t involve them fighting (yet), bickering (again), or avoiding each other because the previous. This was normal, exciting, and he found his face breaking out into a wide grin.

Gus gripped the sleeve of the man’s robe and pulled him toward the entrance of the maze. Before he stepped through the entrance, he spun around to face him. “So, there are three exits: a first and second year one, an OWLs and finally a NEWT exit. Everyone starts at the same spot, and it kind of builds as they go, to make sure they’re remembering what they’ve already learned.” Rubbing the back of his head, Gus tossed another glance over his shoulder; well, it was this or nothing, and Headmaster Black would probably fire him if he came up empty handed.

A nervous laugh bubbled out of his throat and he turned back to Basil. “Now, Mr. Foxwood. Show me why you got a better NEWT score in my class than I ever could in yours.” He’d passed DADA with flying colors when he’d been at Hogwarts - Gus had always excelled at defensive charms more than anything else - but Transfiguration had been a different story. At least Curse Breaker had forced him to better his skills rather than allowing him to forget them. With another laugh, this time a bit more confident, a lot more teasing, Gus laced his fingers behind his head and took a few steps backward, disappearing into the entrance of the maze. It was pitch black, just as Basil had predicted.

[Image: UkiVTG8.png]
Basil felt a little blindsided by Lissington’s grin then, feeling the full force of its dazzle practically blind him. He averted his gaze quickly, unable to do much else. Luckily the red-head seized that exact moment to grab him by the sleeve and tug him in the direction of the entrance. Basil nodded as he understood the intention behind Lissington’s exam. It made sense, really; his puzzle-box did much the same thing, forcing students to build upon previous years’ experience. Basil wasn’t sure what Defense Against the Dark Arts lessons he still had rattling around in his transfiguration-centric brain, but he’d give it a shot. (This certainly wasn’t a chance to redeem himself after being blasted in the face and failing to be on the defense from Poppy, nope. Certainly not.)

Grinning at Lissing’s quip, Basil pulled out his wand and brandished it like a sword. “I shall!” he declared. Basil wasn’t so terribly confident he could prove to Lissington why he’d done so well; the reality of the matter was that he just studied harder, and had a knack for remembering things. But Basil Foxwood was not one to shirk from a challenge. Instead, he tugged off his overcoat, tossing it onto the grass, and rolled up the white shirt sleeves underneath. Then, he followed Lissington into the abyss.

It was pitch darkness as Basil stepped into the maze and the shock of it hit him like a slap. It was cooler in here too, making the brunette wish he hadn’t actually taken off his overcoat. Too late now, he supposed. The entrance closed up to the hedge as soon as he’d passed over it and Basil frowned. Muttering a quick ‘lumos’ he illuminated his wand and peered about. Lissington’s face appeared just beside him then and Basil started violently. “Blast!” He sucked in a breath as the expletive escaped him. “Don’t do that!” He hissed. Not that it was Lissington’s fault. What had he expected the other to do other than stand around in the darkness? This was his challenge after all. Straightening his waistcoat, Basil moved past the other professor and began to walk cautiously along the hedge line to their right. He figured he might as well just follow it until they came to a fork or a turn.

He laughed. It was unrestrained as he tilted his head back toward the sun and laughed as Basil pretended to use his wand as a sword. Gus wasn’t sure if he’d ever seen him this playful, perhaps a couple times when there wasn’t school work or future plans weighing him down, but this was what he wanted for him more than anything else in the world. More butterflies fluttered in his stomach and he pressed his palm flat against it. He didn't need those to remind him of anything, and the sooner they left him alone, the better.

Then, oh then Gus forgot how to breathe for a moment as the man stripped himself of his topcoat. It was entirely uncouth of Basil and entirely unexpected, and he couldn’t help but watch him for a moment longer in admiration:  Basil Foxwood had always been a handsome man, his hair so neatly cut that Gus wanted to run his fingers through it, his lips so full of laughter that he wanted nothing more to pull him close and kiss him. But he couldn't. With his face tinged red, he was pleased that it was dark inside the maze, allowing himself a moment to breathe. Basil was just being friendly and Gus was going to take what he could get without crossing a line. They’d agreed to be friends, hadn’t they?

The other man entered after him and Gus shifted to saddle up next to him. It seemed to surprise Basil, who let out a curse as Gus just tossed him a lopsided grin. “Sorry, sorry.” Although he wasn’t sure what he was apologizing for this time - surely Basil hadn’t thought he'd be hanging from the ceiling following him? Or just… invisible? Shaking his head, Gus ran a hand through his hair, following him as he began to move. He pursed his lips together as he stayed behind him, his fingers reaching out to brush against Basil's sleeve, not wanting to lose him.

The hallway abruptly ended, and as they entered the next room a hedge grew behind them, trapping them in. A large hedge was on any side of them, leaving no apparent entrance or exit. The hedge directly in front of them had shimmering yellow letters, rolling over and across each other with no pattern. It took a moment for the fog to begin to fill the room, beginning at their feet and gradually creeping upward until their vision was obscured. He squinted at the letters, hoping they were still legible. Gus scrubbed a hand across his face. "I well... I'm not sure this part makes sense." He winced quietly, allowing his fingers to nervously fall to his side, where fiddled with his robe.

[Image: UkiVTG8.png]
Basil felt Lissington touch his sleeve just slightly and he looked down at the small gesture, but said nothing. If something warm tickled the back of his neck, then so be it. Lifting his wand higher to illuminate the path, Basil heard rustling behind them as he stepped over another threshold. The hedge had closed in around them, blocking the path backwards. Basil frowned. He didn’t like being boxed in, but he supposed that was the nature of the challenge. He hoped none of the students struggled with the same vapor-like stresses he did; something like this could easily frighten them and cause an attack.

“You might want to build in a fail-safe,” he mumbled quietly to Lissington. Something about the darkness around them made him want to whisper. "Perhaps some kind of alarm, in case the first years find themselves overwhelmed?”

Up ahead something was dancing vaguely in and out of view. Basil squinted through the accumulating fog around them and inched towards it, skeptical he was going to step on something alarming. He flashed his wand around their feet just in case. He had to admit, this was slightly exhilarating. It had been a long time since Basil had tested his skills at anything akin to a magical obstacle course or maze; he was glad to have come across Lissington in need of assistance. It made him feel like a student again, on high alert! Or… well.. Basil blinked wearily, on… less high alert?

His brain was fogging with the room. Bright yellow squiggles swayed this way and that and Basil figured the idea was to unscramble them. He turned towards Lissington as the redhead second guessed himself, and then eyed the letters again. “No, it’s good,” he mumbled trying to split them apart. L-A-E-V-E-R. R-O-O-D. Two words. R-O-O-D? Rodo? Oodr? Odor! L-A-E-V-E-R… Vealer, Verlae, Revlae, Reveal— “Reveal!” Basil announced. Odor reveal? He scrunched his nose. That didn’t sound right. He tried flipping the letters around again and finally came to D-O-O-R. “Ah-hah! Reveal door!” The brunette tittered, much too pleased with himself for solving only a first year puzzle.

In reality, such a simple clue had taken him much too long to determine, given the mind fog floating about the place. Lissington had been smart in taking his own precautions which Basil entirely failed to notice. Instead, he raised his wand in an attempt to do as the clue asked and reveal a hidden door. In his bleariness, he muttered out ‘revellum’ instead of ‘revelio’ - a simple but dire mistake - as instead of parting the hedges as he’d intended, Basil flooded the small space with a new substance. Little gold sparks shot out of the tip of his wand and danced like stars between himself and Lissington. Basil ducked quickly as they ricocheted off the hedge side and beamed towards him. Evanesco!” He tried again, this time successfully managing to vanish both the fog and the stars.

“Well,” he chuckled, straightening. “I seem to have fallen into your trap there, eh Lissington?” He turned to grin lopsidedly at the redhead and noticed, too late, that there was still one star spinning above the other professor’s head: a flag announcing the spell had caught a query. Basil’s grin quickly dropped. Uh, oh.

A fail safe, huh? He hadn’t actually considered that, but he supposed his first and second years be pleased to hear that Vermillious was useful outside of the classroom - the red sparks did indicate the need for help, after all. They'd complained the entire lesson of how useless it was and why in the world did they have to learn a spell like that? Well, now he had a real world example to tuck away from next year. Gus could cast the spell on some kind of object that could shoot high into the air to alert him that his presence was needed. A small crossed the redhead’s face as he nodded, scooting closer to Basil as they continued down the hallway. “Yeah,” he breathed out the response, whispering simply because Basil had been. “Thank you. I’ll think of something when we get out.”

The fog thickened around them but Gus stepped forward with little fanfare. He did, after all, know the maze like the back of his hand from how many times he’d been in and out of it. The course, as it currently stood, was much like going through a cave or a tomb as a Curse Breaker. The weather constantly changed, the exits and entrances got turned upside down and sideways at times, and one never truly knew what to expect. Gus tended to groan when he heard a door shut behind him, but here, he at least knew what to expect at each turn. The fog had been a last minute addition - he didn’t want the room to be too easy, but a riddle telling them to use revelio seemed too difficult. It was meant to cause confusion, and he didn’t need both himself and the other professor out of commission if something were to happen, so, staying just slightly behind the other professor, Gus cast the bubble-head charm around himself. The fog couldn’t penetrate it.

As Basil worked on the letters, Gus took a moment to truly study him. His face was contorted into something akin to concentration, and then he scrunched his nose as the letters seemed to get the better of him. He was always cute, when he was concentrating. That was the first expression Gus had truly began to love, but it was the expression he saw most often their seventh year. The letters twisted and twirled into several combinations of words that didn’t exist. This puzzle would frustrate several of his students, but they had to know more than spells to truly master any defensive skill. He laughed at the other as he announced the first (well second, really) word. He nodded, although Gus didn’t say anything, watching with amusement as he worked on the other word. He chuckled - Odor Reveal sounded horrendous and the redhead wrinkled his nose in anticipation of something happening he wasn’t prepared for.

Basil casting revellum instead of revelio was not what he was expecting. Opening his mouth to tell him so, he promptly shut his mouth as gold sparks shot out of the wand that seemed to wrap themselves around him before he could even manage to duck. The spell seeped into his skin and then into his bones, a warm flooding into the pit of his stomach. Gus laid his hand across his it, his fingers tightening against the fabric of his robes. A surge of emotions filled him at once: anger, sadness, delight, fright… but they were all fleeting enough that it made his head pound. He groaned. A burst of emotion made him gasp, and he felt the sudden need for Basil overwhelm every sense. Gus rooted his feet, refusing to succumb to this spell - he didn’t need a spell to tell him how much he was in love, damn it!

The bubble around his head popped as the fog dissipated, and as Basil turned toward him with a lopsided grin, whatever control he had over himself vanished too. Stepping forward toward him, Gus tangled his hand in his shirt, cursing silently at how many layers this man wore!, and forced his back against the hedge. Then his lips were on Basil’s and his fingers trailed from his shirt to rest against his hips. It was hungry and desperate and he felt the emotions singing in his blood at finally having the opportunity to show Basil just how much he (still) loved him. The emotion was hard to contain, and every fiber of his being was on fire - he felt as if he'd perish if he didn't show him right here, right now. His fingers tightened against him.

But then moments later Gus was stumbling backward, staring at Basil with wide eyes as the surge of emotion left him, gold sparks spurting out of him and fizzingly out into nothing. He opened his mouth and then shut it. This wasn’t his fault.

The following 1 user Likes Gus Lissington's post:
   Basil Foxwood

[Image: UkiVTG8.png]
Basil knew, he just knew, this feeling of happy camaraderie and forgetting about the past wouldn’t last. It had all been too good to be true. Chumming around with Gus, laughing for real and pretending everything was fine between them. Of course not. Something in the greater world - fate, the Gods, some ridiculously cruel puppet masters - had it in for him. As Basil watched the spell take hold, he sucked in a deep breath. He didn’t know what nonsense would come spewing out of Lissington’s mouth next; all he knew was that it didn’t bode well for either of them. Revellum was a telling spell, one that caused the victim to reveal their true emotions. Basil could only flinch at the thought of what those ‘true emotions’ might be between the two of them. Anger? Resentment? Frustration? He could name a handful of deadly, relationship-killing emotions that Lissing had every right to feel, especially after how this term had gone. He gripped his wand more tightly.

Basil was surprised then when instead of saying, well, anything - Lissington moved towards him. Grey eyes widened and Basil tried to put his hands up and derail the redhead, but before he could, the other was on him. And by god, was Lissington on him. His back hit the hedge - a small branch poking him in the side - but Basil could feel nothing except for the familiar, overwhelming presence of Gus Lissington on his tongue. It was like cinnamon and cedar, spice and gold, bursting over him with relish. This time Basil wasn’t under any memory charm, nor was he filled with the angst of their past lingering over him like a chip on the shoulder. Today Basil was… surprised, surely. But not… displeased. Not yet at least.

As Lissington’s hands settled on his hips and tugged him closer, the brunette felt a stirring in his gut he’d tried to ignore for years. His own hands settled awkwardly on Lissing’s hips in return, wand still clutched for dear life. He didn’t know what else to do with them?! Just as he was giving in to being snogged properly however, Basil felt the red head pull away. He stepped forward subconsciously, feeling strangely lacking, cold maybe, after the fact. He saw the gold sparks fizz out, the spell’s quick effect wearing off and leaving them stranded. Basil stood in silence appraising his assailant.

He didn’t know what to say. A part of him wanted to time-turner the moment back and replay it just so he could sort out what he was supposed to do next. The taste of chocolate lingered on his tongue and Basil finally cleared his throat. “Well…” he said quietly. “That…” He shifted his shoulders uncomfortably. “I see.” He finally settled on, as if they’d been having a telling conversation instead of snogging in the middle of a practical exam. “Let’s… get back to the task, shall we?” Basil tugged his waistcoat down to straighten it and shook out his wand a little bit as if the tip was on fire. He didn’t know why, but he did it anyhow. Then, casting a silent, proper ‘revelio’ charm, Basil stepped through the door that appeared in the hedge as if nothing had happened. The other side would bring clarity, surely.

There was a nervous silence that settled around them, his eyes blown wide as he watched for Basil’s reaction. He’d felt his hands against his own hips before he’d stepped backward, and when the other stepped forward, Gus did the same, lessening the distance between them. He wanted to reach forward, cup his cheeks and kiss him again, but instead his fingers curled around the edges of his sleeves. His heart still beat heavily in his chest, and for once he was pleased with the cage his ribs kept it in. Of all the bloody emotions he could have revealed to Basil, it had to be the one he was trying hard to kill and bury. It couldn’t have been frustration or anger at the world. They both knew he was still in love with Basil, and if he were to say he was trying to fall out of it, they might as well mark him as a liar.

Gus eyed the wand nervously in the brunette’s hand hand as he held his own up in surrender, his own wand still tucked away in his robes. Their reactions to each other, spell stricken or not, had proved to be catastrophic, and while he wasn’t going to blame himself for this one, he could only hold his breath as he watched Basil, waiting for the spell or the sudden excuse of having to leave. He wouldn’t blame him - they were both good at running away instead of facing each other. Not instantly finding a spell to face, Gus deliberately moved slowly. He nervously rubbed the back of his neck, his cheeks once again tinged pink, the color seeping between his freckles until he felt like he was glowing.

Gus bit his lower lip as Basil finally seemed to come to life, spurting out a few words that must have made sense in his mind. “I-“ But nothing followed suit. If there was an apology against his lips, it was dead, buried and mourned. Tilting his head, he could only wonder what conversation he’d just missed and what he had said in response to man. Whatever had been silently said seemed to satisfy him, and Gus dumbly nodded his head at the prospect of moving on with the task at hand. Guess they weren’t going to talk about it just yet, which suited him just fine.

The hedges separated and Gus followed him through. In front of them was something different than the previous rooms: a marsh, stood in front of them, the pools of water gently, and shallow. The room too, was loud. “I borrowed them, and have to return them to the ministry.” Gus found himself explaining, gesturing broadly to the space in front of them, as of that provided all the answers he needed. The path to the door was straight, although there were a few hinkypunks scattered about to mislead them for their path toward much bigger bodies of water, although above waist level.  One of their lanterns glowed few paces in front of them, silently beckoning them to follow.  A grindylow lurked in the water, the little horns peeking just above the surface before it dove back in, waiting. A few other creatures were milling about, yet to be seen by the pair.

Gus tugged his wand free, just in case.

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Basil could still feel the fluttering of doxy wings against his intestines as he stared, stupidly at Lissington. His heart skipped a beat when the other stepped towards him. Was he going to do it again? Basil didn’t know if he was thrilled or aghast at the thought, but he swallowed a small lump in his throat and closed his mouth just in case. Evidently Lissington had no such intention however as he instead put his hands up in surrender as if to say ‘the spell made me do it’ and Basil blinked. Yes, the spell had made him do it. Or at least, it had made him do something and well, Lissing had chosen to do that. It was obvious what it meant, even to Basil.

As the other’s face slowly began to fade into the color of his hair, Basil pivoted awkwardly and addressed the rest of the challenge. They were here on official business after all; as much as it might have felt like a fun time between - er - friends? It wasn’t. He stepped through into the next room and sucked in a breath as it came into view. Well this certainly needed all of his attention.

Lissington stated then that he’d borrowed the creatures in here - of which Basil could only see a handful so far - from the ministry. It was clever really. He remembered their first fiasco with a hinkypunk a few months ago and couldn’t help but bite his lip. Luckily, that was one spell Basil was still armed with as he began to make headway through the wet marsh underfoot. The soft, inviting glow of a lantern beckoned him and the brunette re-adjusted his grip on his wand. They were about halfway across the room when something reached out and grabbed Basil by the foot. Sticky tentacles tugged at his ankle, wrapping around it and suctioning into his pant leg. The brunette tugged back and blasted a Grindylow away from himself. It shrieked as it hit the water.

“Little boors,” he mumbled, more to himself than to Lissington. (Basil didn’t make a habit of cursing and he’d already blown through his quota for the month. He was trying to refrain from saying anything stronger as they finally made it across two hinkypunks and another grindylow later.) Standing triumphantly just before the exit, Basil turned towards Lissington with a half smile. “Well that could have been much worse,” he chuckled, hoping they could simply blow past the kiss. There was no need to rehash it, surely. Even if it did mean Lissington was aching to do about as much as Basil felt, all the time, too.

Gus followed behind Basil as if he was a chaperone, watching with little fanfare as he completed the first part of the OWLs section rather easily; of course he knew some of the students wouldn’t be so lucky, and the hinkypunks would do rather well at forcing some of them off the path - at least he’d have someone in here to monitor this portion so no one would drown or get too burnt if they were to upset one. After the students were safely through, the guide would ensure the students went one by one through the final portion of the OWLs section. (The professor supposed, too, that he was here to keep an eye on the borrowed creatures to ensure their safety just as much as the students, but the redhead would use the helping hand as much as he was able to.)

Gus couldn’t help but chuckle as a grindylow grasped onto Basil’s ankle and shrieked as it was shot back into the water, diving back down into the depths to reconvene. There were a few he’d seen at the Great Lake in recent months, and next year he planned on taking his OWL students on a little field trip down there so they could have firsthand experience in seeing one. They were mean little buggers, snapping and jumping to attach to anyone who was daft enough to go too near them. They would drown someone if given the chance.  Gus would be the one to deal with them, if it came down to it.

He stepped over a Chizpurfle that had come scurrying toward them at the burst of magic; they were harmless to humans, but nonetheless the more creatures to throw the students through a loop, the better. It scuttled off soon after. They made it to the end without much else garnering their attention, and he could only chuckle quietly, nodding. “It’s because you, Mr. Foxwood, are an expert at hinkypunks.” Gus laughed then as he winked at the other professor, moving past him toward the exit. He slipped his wand back into his robes, finding he wouldn't have a need for it in the final NEWT sections.

It was a daft move, because he knew what was next. Stepping past the invisible barrier set up between the marsh and this portion, he heard the locks of the wardrobe click open before he caught a movement from the corner of his eye. It was a swarm of nothingness, black and shapeless, and for a moment Gus froze. His mind wandered back to a dementor, and despite the lack of rattling and drop in temperature, he assumed that they’d sent him the wrong creature. But then it paused in front of him forming a shape of a prison - Azkaban. Another black swirl formed in front of the prison backdrop, showing casing himself behind bars, his fingers wrapped around them. Unlike the real him, who only bore one large scar on his forearm, the vision in front of him had them littered across his arms. Red lettering glistened on top of each one, although the lettering was too small to see. They were carved into his skin.

Gus pulled in a deep breath as he stared at his boggart for a moment longer.

What in the blazes?

He took a step back as he fumbled for his wand. His heart beat in his chest and for the first time in a long time, dread filled his stomach. This was a moment he’d buried in the depths of his mind and tried to forget about it. Gus had expected his boggart to be anything else, but this. He wasn’t scared of whatever this was. It was just a silly scar now!

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Basil was not in the least prepared for the rattling of the wardrobe that awaited him in the next portion of the exam. This must be the N.E.W.T.s, his mind supplied unhelpfully in the background as he tightened his grip on his wand for whatever came next. For a moment, Lissington stepped just the slightest bit in front of him and Basil was startled to see the form that twisted and curdled before looming in front of them in a visual representation of… something.

It looked like Azkaban from first glance, and then Lissing in it… with strange markings all up and down his arms, something fresh being carved into one of them. Basil felt something in his stomach drop and a sick feeling threatened.

The atmosphere around them was cold now, and smelled stale as Basil noted the look that fell across Lissing’s face. He looked frozen, almost paralyzed, and the connection suddenly made sense. This was his boggart. Basil quickly shoved the red-head aside and the creature began to shift and curdle again. Before it could really take form, he blasted it backwards into the wardrobe. “Ridiculous!” What emerged was a faceless woman collapsing under the weight of a thousand blankets. It wasn’t amusing per say, but it was enough. (Still, Basil could feel the weight of asphyxiation begin to draw around him, a claw threatening to drag him into darkness - either realized or imagined he wasn’t sure.)  He blasted the boggart again with gumption.

This time the creature retreated into the wardrobe with an eerie howl and the doors clicked shut decidedly. It must have been a young one if that much spell-power had managed to send it away on its own. Basil let out a harrowing breath as the anxious feeling ebbed and he dropped his wand back to his side. “Please tell me that’s all,” he whispered towards Lissing, a bit out of breath.

Everything happened in slow motion and for a moment Gus couldn’t breathe. He found himself back as a curse breaker, the sheets pooling around him as he stared up at the man he thought had been his friend. Someone he thought he was falling in love with. This had been the final step in their blooming relationship - Gus hadn't realized how he'd been used and manipulated the entire time. His reaction had been a lot like Basil’s - the disgust that had crossed the man’s face made him ashamed of that part of himself. All he’d been met with was betrayal, disgust against his lips, spitting out words Gus had committed to memory. He probably mouthed them then. They’d fought but there was no denying what Gus was - and his friend had carved a word deep into his skin until it ripped through his muscle and into his bone for the rest of the world to see. When he died, even his bones would still give him away.

The scar had come from Gus trying to fix it, trying to hide the word that would ruin his entire life if the wrong person found out. Gus tightened his fingers around his wand, finally raising his eyes to stare at himself in Azkaban simply because he couldn’t conjure romantic feelings for women. How would he make this funny? He must have hesitated too long because Basil was stepping in front of him, the boggart twisting and grinning as it began to change forms, although a quick blast from a spell turned into a woman crushed by blankets. Gus didn’t react, instead tilting his head as his mind raced to catch up to what was happening. Then the boggart was back in the wardrobe, the doors locking once more.  The room warmed almost instantly.

He felt the other’s presence next to him, and Gus turned toward him with wide eyes as he pointed his wand at him - threat. He'd been betrayed once before and who was to say Basil Foxwood wouldn't do the same to him. It wasn’t until Foxwood spoke and lowered his own wand that the young professor finally blinked. Another moment passed before the world caught back up to him and he quickly tucked his wand away. Gus rubbed the back of his head as he breathed out. “I… yeah.” There was still the NEWTs section, but he would come back to that on his own.

“I thought…” He shuffled his feet as he averted his gaze toward the ground. “It’s just…” Gus wasn’t sure if he was ready to talk about it, still owed Foxwood an explanation. “I wasn’t….” Sighing, he finally blinked at the other man before he shook his head. “Thank you.” It was all he could manage. There were some things he wasn’t ready to talk about, and this was one of them. It must have looked odd, and he knew Foxwood had questions, hell he could see them in the confusion in his face, but they weren’t anything he was willing to talk about.

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