Lucky couldn’t breathe. Tears were streaming down his cheeks, cries of pain rippling past his lips. “P-Please.” He begged, trying to shield his face with his hands as a heavy boot continuously collided with his ribs.
Jake Wesley stepped away. His face was clouded with guilt and sorrow but a mad glimmer of satisfaction shone in his crazed eyes. “Take this as a warning, kid.” He hissed, kneeling down on the wet floor beside the bloodied and bruised Lucky.
“You’re fucking insane!” Lucky whimpered in pain but his words were laced with anger.
“Here’s the thing, kid. I don’t have nothin’ against fags like yourself. People can stick their dicks wherever the ’ell they want for all I care.” He explained briefly. “But the blokes in ’ere may not be so accepting towards your kind. They certainly ain’t gonna be as easy on you as I was.”
Lucky was clutching his chest in agony, trying to sit up. He’d been ambushed in the showers and was currently sitting on the damp floor in a puddle of water, swimming in his blood. He was only partly dressed so all his brand new bruises were on full display, his legs fortunately covered by the loose pyjama bottoms he was wearing. “What the fuck is your point, Ron Weasley?” He spat impatiently.
Jake only laughed cruelly. “Steel’s my mate. I don’t wanna see the guys in ’ere rip him to shreds when they find out you’ve been creeping into his bed at night.” He snarled.
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“I’m protecting him.” He stated simply. “From you.”
“Just fuck off.” Lucky grumbled, wincing and screwing up his eyes in pain. “Go find Harry and Hermione and leave me the fuck alone, Weasley.”
Jake just smirked evilly. “If someone finds out about the pair of you, they’re gonna come straight for Steel. He’s my mate, and if he gets caught up in this, I’m holding you personally responsible. Got it?”
Lucky rolled his eyes coldly. “I get it. You have some weird crush on him—”
He was cut off by Jake’s menacing laugh. “You couldn’t be more wrong there. Y’see, I’m not really the relationship type. Never ’ave been, never will be. I’m not gay. I’m not straight. I’m not anything, kid. I’m just me and I don’t plan to ever be held back by someone else. You’re crazy for choosing to have a boyfriend.”
“Asexual.” Lucky choked out, the taste of his own metallic blood infecting his tastebuds. “D’you know what that means?” He wasn’t sure what he was doing. He was hurt and bruised and wanted to curl up in bed and dream of flowers and sunsets. But he couldn’t help his curiosity growing at Jake’s words.
Jake rose a skeptical brow, looking down on Lucky patronisingly. “What?”
“You don’t feel a sexual attraction to anyone. It’s called being asexual. If it’s a romantic thing, then you’re aromantic. Learn your terminology.” He spat coldly.
“How do you know all this?”
He ignored the question and reached up to grab onto Jake’s wrist. “Give me a hand, will you?”
Jake curled his fingers through Lucky’s and yanked him off the floor, watching the pained expression cross his features as his battered body protested to the movements. Lucky didn’t say another word before grabbing his discarded sweater and pulling it over his head. He exited the showers without another word, leaving a bewildered Jake behind, pondering the blue haired boy’s words.
“You took your time.” Sebastian snorted as Lucky entered the room, only to freeze at the sight that met him.
Lucky’s eyes were foggy with tears and a trickle of blood escaped his busted lip. The rest of his injuries were covered up, but a noticeable limp shadowed his movements. Sebastian stood from his position on the bed, his eyes scanning the broken boy. A tear finally rolled down Lucky’s cheek as he collapsed into Sebastian’s chest, craving a hug.
Sebastian was silent as he combed his fingers through Lucky’s blue hair and held the boy close to his body, hearing the faint sound of sniffles and cries. “Who did it?” He whispered.
Lucky only clung on tighter, burrowing his face into the crook of Sebastian’s neck and vaguely shaking his head. He couldn’t tell him it was one of his closest mates. He couldn’t ruin a friendship just because he got hurt. He couldn’t be the reason Sebastian lost a friend.
“Blue, you need to tell me.” Sebastian emphasised softly. “You need to tell me so I can beat the shit out of them. Who made you cry?”
“I-I don’t know.” He lied, his voice muffled by Sebastian’s shirt. He finally leant back and wiped his wet cheeks, falling onto the bottom bunk and pulling his legs up to his chest. “I don’t know his name.”
“What did he look like?” Sebastian pressed.
“I don’t know.” He repeated, his head dropping onto Sebastian’s shoulder when he sat beside him. He’d never cried in front of him before, he felt vulnerable and insecure. But he felt safe, he felt like he wasn’t being judged.
“I don’t know, okay?” He snapped, his eyes glossing over with another wave of tears he refused to shed.
Sebastian was taken aback by his response. He froze, his face softened and his eyes melted with sympathy. “Okay.” He replied simply and shuffled closer to let Lucky bury his head into his chest.
While the two boys silently embraced, sharing warmth and concealed emotions, Benji was huddled up in the corner of the library, his nose buried in a book. It was almost completely cleared now. The floor was absent of any litter, the books had been organised into genres in alphabetical order and the dust had disappeared from all the surfaces.
Benji was reading Pierre Blake’s book, the battered old leather one he’d found on his first trip to the library. The date revealed that it was checked out on the fourth of October 1991, five years before the library closed. It was a copy of ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ with notes and annotations scrawled in the margin, along with a few crude sketches.
Benji smiled faintly as he turned the frayed pages over. Smudges of spilt ink obscured the words and some of the notes were indistinguishable, but he persevered nonetheless. A book being studied at a school where discipline took precedence over education still existed almost thirty years later. That amazed him too much for him to give up.
And even though Benji will never know what happened to Pierre Blake, he knew what his handwriting looked like. He knew he curled his ’f’s and never used capital letters. He knew he spelt the same word wrong over and over. He knew he had a girlfriend back home called Florence who’s name appeared in messy love hearts.
That’s all he’d ever know about the kid who once attended Oakleaf Academy for Boys, but it was enough. Maybe in another thirty years, another student would come along to reopen a library that’s been shut for two decades and find a book with Benji’s handwriting in it. All they’d know was that he can’t spell to save his life and a boy called Elias had infected his heart so deeply that it seeped out onto the pages.
Or maybe in thirty years, Oakleaf will finally be shut down for good.