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If You Have A Soul, Then I Can Save It

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During

Liam ran like he’d never run before. But he could hear Mason panting behind him, so he held himself back, moving at a pace his best friend could keep up with. They were staying ahead of the mist, but only just, and it took everything Liam had to not sprint away as fast as he could.

He held his wand tightly, fingers burning as it dug into his skin. He tried to think beyond the terror and the pain in his lungs, tried to picture the happiest memory he could. But there was nothing. It was like every thought other than what was sweeping towards them had been erased from his head. Like he’d been hollowed out to nothing but terror and the sound of his thundering heart.

It would be no use anyway. He hadn’t been able to create a patronus in class, hadn’t even been able to with Scott’s help, how could he when faced with an actual dementor? No, their only chance was to run fast enough through the forest to make it back to the castle before the fog and the creatures it heralded caught up to them.

Suddenly, the trees began to thin, and there, he could see it! The castle. He’d half believed that there was nothing but the woods, that there was nowhere to run, despair seizing up his limbs and mind. But it was real, it was there, calling them home. It was a long stretch until they could reach the castle, but they were almost through the trees, were so close to safety, and Liam felt the tiniest amount of hope blossom in his chest. He stretched his hand out and grabbed Mason’s, pulling him faster, as he finally felt his body begin to thaw from the unnatural cold enveloping him.

“It’s there, I can see it Mason!”

It was clear that Mason couldn’t respond around his wheezing, but he looked up towards the castle, and somehow found an extra burst of speed as Liam tugged him along. He squeezed Liam’s hand in encouragement, and Liam could almost bring himself to smile. They were going to make it.

They were at the very edge of the forest when they heard the scream. Liam’s limbs locked and he skidded to a halt, nearly tripping Mason.

Liam looked back into the forest, then to Mason. Mason’s face was horrified when he turned his gaze to Liam, but he gripped Liam’s hand tighter.

“Liam, we can’t,” he croaked.

But Liam knew that scream. He could see the hopeless terror that came with it, because he’d seen it before. And he couldn’t bear to think what would happen this time. He couldn’t stand by again.

Liam twisted his hand viscously out of Mason’s grasp and sprinted back into the woods, heard Mason’s desperate shout before all sound, hope and light was swallowed by the fog.

***

Before

“Hey Honey, you missed a spot!” Raeken called from his perch on one of the tables. Liam grit his teeth at the nickname. He’d tried to throw it back at them in the beginning, said that they weren't his type or they should take him on a date first, but pretending it didn’t get to him didn't help at all.

It had started in his second year when one of the muggleborns made an offhand comment about Liam being like a Honey Badger - a Hufflepuff with anger issues. Most people didn’t get it, but then someone managed to dig out a book of non-magical animals from the library and next thing Liam knew people were shouting it at him in the hallways. The insult stuck and he’d been mocked with it for the past three years.

“Well maybe if you helped, we’d get this done quicker and get out of here,” he ground out.

“I’m not some pauper like you Dunbar, I’d have to be dead before I touched a rag.”

“That can be arranged.”

Raeken laughed. “Oh I’d like to see you try. It’d take more than a jelly-legs jinx, little Hufflepuff. You wouldn’t have the balls.”

Liam didn’t deign that with a response, instead he continued to scrub at a particularly stubborn stain on the bench he was currently washing. His hands were starting to tinge red. Whatever it was, it definitely wasn’t an ink stain.

Raeken didn’t leave them in silence for long.

“Oh wait, I forgot, you don’t need spells to do damage do you? I wonder how long it will take for you to pop today, Dunbar? They’re not going to let you off a fourth time. They should’ve expelled you after what happened with Garrett.”

Liam noticed that he’d stopped moving. His hands were clenched into a fist around the rag, red water dripping between his fingers. He took a deep breath, tried to tune out the other boy and forced himself to continue scrubbing.

But the murky red on his hands turned darker. It grew sticky and began to clot together. It ran in rivulets down his hands. A sweet, sickly smell permeated the air and Liam could taste salt on his tongue. He could hear screams.

Liam was knocked from his memory by the table jolting against his arm. Everything around them was rattling, even the windows were shuddering in their panes. Bottles tinkled, books thudded, the dragon bones above him clacked together as the whole skeleton shifted and the wood beneath his feet groaned.

Liam scrunched his eyes closed and held his breath, focussed on the burn in his lungs rather than the flames of fear and anger and regret coursing through him. When it finally became too much, he gasped in air desperately, and opened his eyes to find the world still once again, not shattered to a thousand tiny pieces around him.

He glanced behind him to find Raeken on his feet, further away than he had been before. Liam simultaneously felt the usual horror at other people’s reactions to his episodes, but also a slight amount of satisfaction. The other boy had moved closer to the door. No matter what he said, he was scared of Liam, and if there was one person in the world that Liam wanted to be afraid of him, it was the smug bastard standing behind him, who constantly made his life a misery.

Liam might not be the best or the brightest, but he was powerful, and he both revelled in and despised this fact.

“You should be locked up,” Raeken spat.

But Liam had controlled it, had pulled himself back from the brink. Raeken should have been a human pincushion full of broken pieces of wood and glass by now. But instead he stood there, alive and whole.

Liam let a smile split across his face. Whether it was relieved or manic, he couldn’t say.

“Probably,” he said, waiting for a moment to see Raeken’s shocked reaction, before turning back to the desk and diligently working on the stain once again.

That finally shut the other boy up. Raeken stood in silence for a few moments before he moved quietly around the room. Liam tried to ignore him, but he heard the boy start moving things and couldn’t help but hope that he was going to actually start helping Liam clean the room so that they could leave detention sooner.

Liam glanced at the Slytherin. Of course he wasn’t picking up the cleaning supplies, instead Raeken was moving around the classroom, idly playing with the strange objects that littered the shelves and tables. Professor Argent had given strict instructions not to touch anything other than the things he wanted them to clean, but Raeken was a law unto himself. Liam thought that he was probably so used to dangerous (dark) magical artifacts that he wouldn’t touch anything that would hurt himself. Liam then had to remind himself that he didn’t really care if Raeken did do himself some damage, in fact, he should probably want him to.

But Raeken was making his way to an open cupboard that Liam could have sworn hadn't been open before. The latch swung ominously with a gentle creak, and shadows hid whatever was inside from view. Liam’s nerves screamed as Raeken moved closer to the door that was held slightly ajar, his hand stretched out to pull it open or push it closed. The latch continued to swing, and Liam realised it had been moving too long for it still to be swinging from his episode.

“Raeken, don’t-”

But it was too late. The boy’s hand touched the door handle and suddenly the darkness moved. Something shoved against the door from the inside, pushing it wider, but the light from the room didn’t penetrate the blackness in the cupboard.

Raeken took a step back and Liam reached for his pocket. But his hands closed around nothing and with a swoop of panic he remembered that his wand had been confiscated for the detention. He had no way of defending himself against whatever had been locked away in the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom.

Liam’s panic was so consuming that he almost missed the sound coming from the blackness.

Theeeeeeeeeo…”

Raeken’s hand shot back to his chest. He gasped.

Theeeeeeeeeo…

The boy stepped back. He hit a desk and scrabbled against it.

Theeeeeeeeeo…”

Liam stared in horror from across the room as a deathly pale hand reached out from the darkness. It felt along the wood as if it couldn’t see the world outside through the darkness it inhabited. The hand looked like a person’s but Liam couldn’t think of it as anything else other than an it. It was white, paler than any human could possibly ever be, as if all the blood and life had been drained from it. The whiteness was marred with dirt. It clung to the fingernails and was caked beneath them, smudges moved up the fingers and smeared across the hand. Liquid dripped from it, mingling with the dirt to leave murky smears across the wood. The hand moved like it was unused to it, broken phrases of stretching and feeling along the wood, as if it was loosening up static muscles and joints.

Theeeeeeeeeo…”

Liam caught the edge of words whispered from the other boy’s mouth, muted no’s and gasped pleas. Liam took a step towards Raeken and the cupboard, but halted as another hand joined the first, this time whipping out and grasping the edge of the open door. The wood creaked in its vicious grip and Raeken let out a pitiful noise.

The darkness seemed to move before Liam’s eyes, but then he realised that it was thick, black, matted hair moving towards them, water dripping from the strands and flooding across the floor.

Liam couldn’t see its face. Its head hung so that the hair covered it, but with each movement he caught a glimpse. White skin, almost turning to blue. Dead, pale eyes. Broken, dull lips that were barely any darker than the rest of its skin.

Its lips split apart as if being torn.

Theeeeeeeeeo…”

It was now leaning out of the doorway, and as it moved, Liam caught a glimpse of its chest. There was a mess of a hole, gaping right where its heart would have been. Ribs poked out in broken, jagged angles and dull red flesh hung from them. Liam could see right through the body, as if it had once been impaled on something only to be ripped off, trails of muscle and fat left hanging from it.

It stepped from the cupboard, slowly,  brokenly unfolding to stand in front of Raeken. The boy was shaking.

Theeeeeeeeeo…”

“Tara.”

And Liam understood. The girl was Tara Raeken, Theo’s dead sister. Liam had heard the rumours, that Theo had been there when it happened, that he’d made it happen, that it was an accident, that it wasn’t. That he could have saved her. At least one of these statements was true. Theo could see Thestrals, had been able to even in his first year.

And Liam did not know what this thing was, but it couldn’t be her. She was a rotting corpse in the Raeken’s family tomb. Whatever this monstrous creature was, it was targeting Theo in the worst possible way. Liam took a step forwards.

“Hey!” he called, and finally caught the thing’s attention. It twisted to look at him as he moved towards it.

It began to morph into something else, body twisting and rippling and fixing itself until Liam was staring at... himself.

Red eyes bored from a monstrous face, ridged and twisted into a furious grimace. He was covered in blood. It dripped from him and spread along the ground, objects rising up from it. Liam stared in horror as he realised what was littering the floor around him. Body parts covered every inch of space that the blood reached. A foot here, Scott’s tattooed arm there, Mason’s screaming head and Lydia’s bright hair were being slowly covered by the blood, like wax coating every surface in reverse. And the other Liam stood on a mountain of them all, rage unsated, magic crackling in the air. He pointed towards Liam.

“You did this.”

And the Liam standing in front of him opened his mouth and the room was filled with cries and screams and Liam’s friends begging for their lives. Liam staggered backwards under the weight of them, barely keeping ahead of the blood running towards him over Hayden’s broken body. All he could see was blood.

Liam turned and fled the room. He staggered down the hallway, stumbling into the walls and nearly tripping over his own feet. He could barely breath, could barely see, could barely move. But he needed to find someone, needed to know that he hadn’t lost control, that his magic hadn’t ripped the whole castle to shreds and everyone he loved with it.

Someone grabbed his shoulders and forced him to a stop.

“Dunbar!” a voice barked. “Breath!”

Liam clutched his hands around the arms that held him up. He squeezed them, told himself that they were there, they were real, they were living. He pulled in ragged breaths and blinked up at the man in front of him. Professor Argent was clean of blood. There were no holes ripped through him. There were no parts missing. He was standing, talking, living. It hadn’t been real.

It hadn’t been real.

“What happened? Where’s Raeken?” Argent asked, shaking him slightly.

Theo.

“Oh Merlin,” Liam whispered, before wrenching himself away from Argent and sprinting back down the corridor.

The door had closed behind him but he didn’t slow down, ramming himself into it so that it flung open and ricocheted off the wall.

Theo was laid on the floor, staring up in terror at his sister kneeling over him.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, before Tara grabbed his hand and plunged it into the gaping hole in her chest, slamming her other hand against Theo’s own chest, right above his heart.

Theo Raeken screamed in terrified agony, and Liam slammed his hands over his ears as the memory of Garret’s screams echo in his head.

He was shoved roughly to the side and fell to his knees. Professor Argent flew into the room and kicked Tara off the screaming boy. He threw himself between them and the thing that had been Tara changed once again, but Liam couldn’t see what it was now, just heard it say “Daddy please help-”

“Ridiculus,” Argent spat, and the thing flew across the room in a tiny blur to slam back into the cupboard. The door closed behind it, and the latch fell into place with a thud.

The room fell quiet, and Liam heard Theo’s hitching gasps. He looked over and realised the boy had tear streaks running across his face. He slowly began to stand, opening his mouth in a pathetic attempt to say something, anything. But before he could, Professor Argent was once again in front of him, this time roughly grabbing him by the back of his cloak and shoving him from the room. The door slammed behind him, but it was not enough to prevent him from hearing the sobs that began in the room.

Liam stood there, breathing raggedly for a second before he turned and ran towards the entrance hall.

He made it outside, and ran until his legs gave out.

When Liam finally managed to get back to the castle, he realised that he didn’t have his wand. It was still with Professor Argent, and he was going to get a bollocking for running off without it. But at least this way Liam would have a chance to talk to Argent about what had happened, and find out what the hell that thing was in the cupboard. Liam dreaded going back to the room, wouldn’t be able to stop imagining all the bodies piled around him, the horrifying image of himself standing over them proudly, his magic an uncontrollable force let loose in his uncontrollable rage.

He wouldn’t be able to stop seeing Theo’s hand plunged into his sister’s chest as he screamed.

Liam was lost in thought as he rounded the corner to reach the Defence corridor, and suddenly he found himself being dragged into an alcove and slammed up against the wall, a wand pointed at his face.

“Listen to this Dunbar and listen closely,” Theo Raeken whispered in his ear. His voice held a level of threat that Liam hadn’t heard from him in all the four years of animosity between them. “You do not tell anyone about what happened today. You do not even pretend to know what happened with my family. You do not mention this to me ever again. You breathe a word to anyone and I will end you.”

“I wasn’t going to say anything,” Liam whispered, turning his head from staring at the wand to face Theo.

A dark grin split Theo’s features terribly. “Don’t lie to me Dunbar, you’re just waiting for Scott and the others to get back from Hogsmeade.”

“I’m not! Why would I tell them about this?”

“Why wouldn’t you?”

“Maybe I’m not Slytherin enough to use other people’s pain against them!”

“Then you’re an idiot Dunbar, and it’s going to get you and your friends killed.”

Liam didn’t know how to respond to that. Instead he said resolutely, “You can take your wand out of my face now. I’m not going to tell a soul.”

Theo stared him down, before giving Liam one last shove where his hand gripped Liam’s robe, pulling away and spinning off to walk swiftly down the corridor. He was almost out of sight before Liam called out.

“Theo!”

Thoe paused. Liam lowered his voice before continuing. “Are you okay?”

The other boy didn’t even turn around.

“Say something like that again and I’ll take your voice.”

Liam didn’t mention the Boggart to anyone else in the months that followed. People still called him Honey, still picked on him for his explosive rage, but Liam knew that Theo hadn’t told anyone what the Boggart became when it looked at Liam.

***

During

Liam had found Theo. The boy was on his knees, clawing at his ears, as if they were filled with the most horrible sound, when in fact the world was deathly silent and even his cries were mouthing, nonexistent noises. Theo’s eyes were closed, so he could not see the wraith-like creatures flowing above him, as if through water. They circled in a frenzied gang, like scavengers around a carcass, and finally one fell towards the cowering boy, swooping down to brush its head close to his face.

Liam felt like something inside him was being pulled towards the pair. It left him gasping and clawing at his chest as Theo’s mouth fell open. Theo’s head shot back and his chest rose, back arching in an unnatural curve as the dementor tore something from him. The creature reared away, drifting into the sky and Theo’s body crumpled, tears and silent screams falling from him for a second, before another swooped towards him. His body arched again, as if the dementor would pull him up into the sky with whatever it was sucking from him. But the tension broke, and again Theo crumpled, his movements turning sluggish.

Liam hadn’t realised that he’d frozen, or that he was crying. He hadn’t felt his wand drop from loose fingers, or heard it clatter to the ground. Hadn’t noticed anything apart from the pull of his soul towards the dementors.

He clung to his chest as if he could push it down further within him, back to where it belonged. And then what he was seeing truly hit him. Theo’s soul was being ripped from him. And Liam was watching it happen.

He sucked in a ragged breath, the first since he’d burst into the clearing and seen the dementors fall from the sky. It didn’t stop the terror that encompassed every cell of his being, but it helped to clear his head, to let him think.

He tore his eyes away from the fallen boy in front of him and slowly knelt to the ground. He closed his eyes, listening to the rush of his blood and the roar of the silence. He could almost hear the screams on the tip of Theo’s tongue, feel them battering against his skin. He curled tightly into himself, felt his skin protecting his soul from being ripped from his body, imagined pushing it back down safe within him. He breathed.

He thought of his friends. The smart, witty Ravenclaws with knowledge enough for plans to get them out of any situation. He thought of the Slytherins, harsh and cutting and ambitious, with clear sight and enough self preservation to drag their loved ones through anything. The brave, brash Gryffindors with their righteous anger, thriving off danger and running headfirst into it, for pride and glory and goodness.

Liam was not these things. He was terrified into nothingness. But he was also a Hufflepuff. Loyal to those who he loved, and to those who didn’t deserve it. And Theo - who taunted and tormented him into hatred - Theo would haunt Liam’s thoughts forever with silent screams and limp limbs.

Liam cared too much and it made him fierce.

He would not leave anyone behind, even if he couldn’t run, plan or fight them out of it. He couldn’t just let it happen.

And during the seconds that Liam had been bent over, gathering his sanity, his strength and his courage, he had also been brushing his fingers along leaf covered forest floor. A fingertip nudged against something that rolled with the movement, and he tentatively reached to close his hand around his wand. The feel of it was so familiar that it gave him comfort, and this was the last thing that Liam needed.

He sprang into a sprint like his muggle sports teachers had taught him long ago, arms pumping as he pushed his body as fast as it would go.

Another dementor was racing down towards Theo, who was barely managing to hold his hands to his ears anymore. Liam watched as Theo finally opened his eyes to look at the wraith falling towards him. Liam saw the utter terror in them as Theo finally realised what was about to happen, saw it fade into dullness as his hands dropped to his sides. His head remained tilted up as the dementor drew nearer, its neck bent at an impossible angle to align with Theo’s own, straining to reach him faster as it swooped from the sky.

Liam let out a roar and threw himself in front of Theo, folding himself over the boy and circling his arms around him as a shield.

He felt pressure along his back, as if something was both pulling and pushing from the base of his spine, all the way up to his neck. His head flew back of its own volition, and it felt like his throat was being pulled through his mouth.

He opened his eye to see the dementor pulling up into the sky, soaring back to the rippling mass above him. Liam felt hollow as he watched another drift down towards him. He didn’t even think to move as it curved up to his face and pulled him apart from the inside. It tugged another part of him away with it and Liam slumped, falling onto the forgotten boy beneath him.

Another came, and another, as if in slow motion, but Liam could not move his limbs to stop them, to get away from their gaping maws.

But through the deafening silence pounding into him - that seemed to swallow up all life, thought and feeling - Liam finally felt Theo’s hand where he’d managed to pull it onto Liam’s crumpled leg. Liam finally heard the whisper of his name. He looked into Theo’s hopeless eyes and Liam’s fists clenched involuntarily. He felt his wand in his hand.

Liam realised that not all his strength had been taken from him yet.

He could feel it coming towards him, the next dementor falling, racing, twisting towards his back like silent, graceful, inevitable doom and he tightened his arms around the boy in front of him, felt his solid body that made Liam feel solid too, like he wasn’t turned to nothing just yet.

Liam thought of a cruel smile and wicked tongue crafting barbed comments.

He pictured an easy laugh and proud eyes.

He felt an arm around his shoulder, pulling him close and a fist bumping into his.

He heard shouting and laughter and sarcastic wit.

He saw a condescending eyebrow softened by the twitch of a lip.

He smelt sweat and musk and the sharp tang of the cold outdoors.

He felt long hair brushing his face and the press of lips against his.

He saw flailing limbs and reaching hands, fingers ruffling through his hair.

He tasted wet salt and rich chocolate.

He heard half-whispered songs and warm, rumbling voices.

He felt an embrace and a shove and the weight of bodies against his.

They all blurred into one. Friend, foe, person, soul. Anger, happiness, terror, joy, excitement, sadness, hope, life.

Life.

He saw, felt, knew it all in that moment. And he pushed against the body beneath him, used the momentum to throw himself upwards and twist round, wand raised at the creature flying towards him. He put it all into two words, screamed from him like ecstasy and terror and defiance.

“EXPECTO PATRONUM!”

A huge beast barrelled into the dementor, flinging it back into the trees. The animal continued up into the sky, stampeding into the mass of black bodies swirling above them, scattering them and chasing them away. It swung back, crashing into a dementor that had come behind it, forcing it away from Liam and Theo just before it reached them. The beast circled round them, white tendrils puffing from its nostrils with angry snorts of breath. Liam saw vicious horns, stamping hooves and thick, matted fur, all a pulsing, glowing silver, and felt a hand loosening its grip on his leg before the world faded away.

***

After

Liam blinked into the soft light that filled the space he was in. He felt achingly cold, deep down in his bones, but the temperature against his skin was cozily warm. The strange feeling was uncomfortable, verging on painful, and he shifted, trying to heat up.

He noticed that something was holding his hand down, making it difficult to move his arm. Liam blinked to help his eyes focus and looked down to see a hand curled loosely over his. Mason was slumped in a chair next to him, but his head shifted and his eyes fluttered open at Liam’s movements.

Upon seeing Liam looking at him, Mason’s eyes flew wide open and he threw himself from the chair.

“Oh thank Merlin!” he said, falling upon Liam and squeezing him in a tight hug. He pulled back to look at Liam’s face. “How’re you feeling? And don’t you dare say fine!”

Liam tried to speak, but all that came out was a croak. He coughed and tried again.

“Cold, I guess.”

“Yeah, they said that might happen. I mean, you did almost have your soul ripped out. What were you thinking?” Mason didn’t give him chance to respond, thrusting a vial at Liam. “Here, drink this. Madame Pomfrey said it should help. And you’ve got enough chocolate to last you till Christmas,” he said, gesturing to the packages that surrounded every surface other than the bed.

Liam took the potion and downed it, grimacing at the fiery heat going down. But after a moment he felt it begin to thaw the chill inside him.

“What happened? How did…”

“How did you not become a shell of a human being?” Mason offered pointedly. Liam knew he was never going to let him forget this latest piece of reckless behaviour, or let him do something like it again so easily. “Well, whilst you were off doing your best impression of a Gryffindor, I went to get help. Although by all accounts you managed to produce a patronus strong enough to protect you both-”

“Theo! Is he-” Liam cut in, suddenly remembering the other boy. He could picture it so clearly, the dementor flying towards Theo. His arms dropping in acceptance of his fate.

“He’s fine, he’s at the other end of the room.”

“They didn’t take his…” Liam couldn't continue, just looked desperately at Mason. The other boy’s expression softened and he put a hand on Liam’s shoulder.

“No, he didn't get the kiss. He’s gonna be okay.”

“What happened to the others?”

“They're all fine. Well, Stiles is in here again, but that's not unusual so...”

“Hey! I was mauled by a dog!” Stiles shouted shrilly.

“And apparently he’s awake.” Mason said, sending a glare through the curtain at the interruption. “I'm sure he’ll tell you all about their night later - which, by the way, was crazy - but first ” he said pointedly, as Liam opened his mouth, “you need to tell me what happened.”

“Well I found Theo-” Liam caught his slip and quickly corrected it, “ Raeken and there were dementors everywhere. I… I could feel them taking it, taking his soul and I knew the next one would be it. He'd be… gone. So I got between them-”

“You what?” Stiles screeched, the curtain flinging back to reveal his face, shock, anger and disbelief playing across his features.

Stiles!” Mason hissed at the interruption. He stood up and pushed the curtain back fully, revealing Stiles half hanging off a bed, his foot and ankle wrapped in red stained bandages and propped up on a cushion. Mason gripped Stiles’ shoulder and pushed him back onto the bed fully, before gently sitting himself down by his feet and placing a hand on Stiles’ leg above the bandages. Liam knew it was to remind Stiles to stay still. They'd been around Stiles long enough to know that he was likely to cause himself more damage in his excitement. “Let him finish.”

Liam was quiet for a moment, considering what to tell them, how to explain what had happened. How much he should say. He knew how stupid he’d been, how close he'd come to being a soulless shell, how much it would hurt them to hear just how close . He looked down at his hands, continuing in a quiet voice.

“They started taking mine. It was…” he couldn't think of a way to explain it. He looked up at them and, seeing the worried frown on Masons face and the tight set of Stiles’ jaw, he decided that he didn't want to. “But I just thought of you guys. It wasn't a memory, like they tell you to do, it was just everything about this place and the people and I knew that the next dementor would take that all away and I just said the spell… and it worked.”

“Intense.” Mason said after a moment of silence. It was clearly a fake one, lacking his usual wonder and excitement, meant to break them out of the thoughts of what had almost happened. It worked somewhat, and Liam ran with it, a new thought crossing his mind.

“Did anyone see it?” he asked, excitement beginning to seep into his voice. “My patronus?”

“Yeah dude,” Mason answered, a smile finally coming back to his face, “it’s a bison.”

“A huge rampaging bison by all accounts. I wasn't there thanks to the whole dog ravaging incident, but I hear it was pretty impressive. Had to be to get rid of all those dementors.” Stiles said, impressed.

“I don't really remember, I think I was out of it by the time I managed to conjure it.”

“Well now you know you can, it'll be easy the next time, trust me.” Stiles offered with a wink.

“So where were you guys anyway? We were coming to save you from Derek Hale when the dementors appeared.”

Stiles’ eyes lit up, and he leaned over the space between them, dropping his voice. “Well it turns out that Derek Hale is not a murderer-”

What!

“Liam!” Mason scolded, whilst desperately trying to hold Stiles’ legs to keep him from tumbling off the bed.

And he was not trying to kill Malia, he was trying to save her. Although why he couldn't have told us this without mutilating my leg I do not know.”

The story continued into the night and Liam felt the bitter cold seep away from his bones, surrounded by the warmth of his home and the comfort of his friends. The mountains of chocolate also helped as they dug into them, waiting for the others to finish with the headmaster, discussing the night and wondering what would happen now. This had almost become a ritual after four years, and, as usual, Liam found himself and the others drifting off to sleep in the hospital wing. However, his last thought was decidedly unusual.

Did Theo have this to bring him back from the cold?