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#17
Faced by the very real concept of imminent trouble, Bragi couldn't bring himself to share Tybalt's grin. He didn't even have the wherewithal to reflect on the thrill of unexpectedly finding himself in close confines with another boy...

Instead, he remained very still and very silent as the footsteps slowly retreated. Eventually, he finally let himself breathe a soft sigh of relief; only to exhale it back in sharply as Tybalt chuckled. Bragi's eyes snapped to the rebel's, terrified as the footsteps came to an abrupt halt.
#18
Ah, Merlin’s beard. They’d nearly been clear and away, and if they weren’t now that was entirely on Tybalt. And a gross failure of his tour-guiding skills. He really hadn’t meant to lead poor Mr. Holm astray.

And the lad looked rather worried about the metaphorical wolves at the door. Tyb pressed a hand to his shoulder to reassure him - and possibly to make sure Bragi got dragged along sharpish if the game was up and they had to make a run for it down the passageway, but he wasn’t at much liberty to explain it - but then Tybalt had another idea. He was not sure it’d actually work, but it was worth a go. He thought he had just enough dramatic flair to pull it off. Maybe.

(If not, they’d have to run.)

“Patrolling, are you?” He called out, in his best imitation of a wheezing, dry voice, that he hoped would sound to the passers-by like it was coming from a portrait-next-door. “Be quieter about it then! Some of us are trying to sleep, you know.” Fingers crossed, eh.


#19
The ice shard in his chest would eventually melt into something resembling thrill, but for now it remained cold and sharp — Bragi was scared. Which, he realised, was faintly absurd; for despite his youthful looks he was a grown man, not a naughty schoolboy.

Startled at the hand on his shoulder, Bragi blinked wide-eyed from the light up to Mr Kirke, who looked like he had a plan up his sleeve. It was… a dangerous plan. And an amusing one. For when the fellow mimicked the rasping annoyance of a framed curmudgeon, it was Bragi’s turn to stifle a chuckle (which he did manage to stifle — thank heaven).

He held his breath.
#20
Somewhere deep down in his gut, Tybalt recognised the ridiculousness of this situation. This sort of circumstance was one that he had long since outgrown, one that even the slight-figured youth beside him had well outgrown. Something that might have been nothing.

But acting like schoolboys was something Tyb couldn’t quite bring himself to forgo, and it was much too late to turn back the situation to pretending they were only guests who’d gotten lost on the stairwell. No, now they were rulebreakers out past curfew, and Mr. Holm was getting the real Hogwarts experience. (Tybalt had always thought, if not-quite-consciously - well, maybe it was only a gut feeling - that the castle took kindly to rule-breakers and mischief-makers, and had a delinquent personality of its very own.)

The castle could not save him from his own failures, of course, and his imitation of a portrait perhaps had been a stretch. He kept his ear as close to the tapestry as he dared, aware in the corner of his eye that at least Mr. Holm seemed to be suppressing amusement at the performance - as aware as he was of the footsteps, a muttered conversation outside. He was sure they were moving onwards now, sure that he could exhale now, and so, before he could help himself, Tybalt peeked outside, the tapestry rustling as he pushed out the edge of it.

Maybe they’d missed it... But. One of them had looked back. Had he imagined that?

All things considered, he might have, the exhilaration and adrenaline of the sheer possibility jumping the gun for him. Maybe the adventure had not been high-stakes enough for him yet. In any case... "Run!" Tybalt gave a yelp and launched into gleeful movement, barrelling Holm along in front of him with thudding footsteps into the dim windowless passageway. Up ahead, it wound left, leading them onwards and cutting through the castle until they tumbled out the other end into an entirely different deserted hallway, two floors above.


#21
Suddenly he found himself running, running like a startled cat, running like a fool. Pointed shoes and handsome coattails did not lend themselves well to action, but in dress he was much better off than a maiden, able to fly without obstacle, his body remembering schooldays of Quidditch and earlier days of playing through the trees...

Then finally the passage opened up into a wide corridor, and the agile Bragi stumbled at last, having not expected the transition — he turned to prevent himself from face-planting a stone wall, but his skull met with it instead. It hurt, and he flinched, touching the back of his head gingerly and looking at his fingertips to see red blood, dark in the candlelight.
#22
Tybalt careened out of the passageway after Mr. Holm, and the giddy feeling of fun came to a crunching halt when he heard the crack of head against thousand-year-old stone, and saw, a moment later, blood on his fingertips.

“Damn,” he swore under his breath, wincing as he stepped over to inspect the ginger’s head, mood well altered. “I’m so sorry,” Tybalt said fervently, feeling rueful and responsible. “I should’ve warned you.” This was not the tour of the castle he’d meant to take the fellow on. Speaking of, this was probably the tour officially over. Just his sort of thing, wasn’t it, promising fun and someone ending up hurt? Hopefully the poor lad wouldn’t hold it against him forever; for once, Tyb had even thought he’d been making a half-decent first impression.

It couldn’t be worse than a bludger knock to the head, but Tybalt was not a stranger to nasty concussions, and he didn’t fancy hauling Mr. Holm’s unconscious body to or fro from the Astronomy Tower (- he’d probably swoon and fall right off -), so instead he suggested with a grimace, “I think maybe I should show you to the hospital wing?”


#23
Further to the immediate memory of his head hitting stone, Bragi felt a thud of guilt in his heart, knowing that the fun may well be over. Oh it had been a special kind of fun sure enough — perhaps "thrill" was a better word for it — but when it came down to it he was greatly enjoying his time with this rebellious gentleman. He wasn't ready for that time to tick away.

But he was hurt, and it was sensible to be sensible. If Tybalt Kirke of all people had decided the fun was over, perhaps it really had to be. "Alright", Bragi agreed quietly; but despite it all he gave a breathless smile. "That was... quite something."
#24
He hadn’t argued, which was good; but the way he grinned despite that recent knock to the head had Tybalt worried that the mild-mannered, measured young man before him wasn’t entirely well. “You could say that,” Tyb said, with a wince and a laugh all at once as he led the way - more soberly - back down some stairs towards the hospital wing where the nurse would no doubt still be up to tend to the poor bloke.

“I s’pose that was a taste of the authentic Hogwarts experience,” he reasoned, with a good-humoured touch of ruefulness. Most adventures had ended in the hospital wing or a detention, so. He had not, however, intended to derail - ruin, possibly - Mr. Holm’s whole evening. “But I’m afraid the problem with me is that I get, ah - carried away. Here, though -” he gestured to the door they’d just reached, with a wry smile. “I’ll pass you on to safer hands.”


#25
This was quite the way to end his first society function in the country, and about one of the most amusing adventures he'd ever had. And under the leadership of quite the dashing rogue, to boot.

Begrudgingly aware that all good things must come to an end, Bragi nodded obediently, and then extended his hand for a farewell handshake — only to swiftly withdraw it upon realising his fingertips were still wet with blood.
#26
Tybalt laughed aloud at the handshake that was prematurely punctuated by both of them spotting the blood still on it. Tyb made a face and instead offered him a joking sort of salute. “I’m sure I’ll see you about, Mr. Holm,” he added with another genuine grin. (If he hadn’t scared him straight back out of Britain, that was. He’d be better behaved next time, if only Holm didn’t go out of his way to avoid him.)

He gave the redhead a last wince as he waved him in, feeling suddenly very parental towards him. “Hope your head’s alright.”




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