At tea, Will was quieter than usual. Liam sensed this immediately and tried his hardest to get Will to say what was troubling him. Will wasn't a brave boy and being resolute in the face of what had happened just wasn't in him. It didn't take long, and he surrendered to Liam's questions. He told him what had happened.
Liam was livid. He had withstood Hogsford's campaign of hatred and abuse because he was one against many, Hogsford was much bigger and tougher than he was, and the other boys in the school seemed to stand with him. It appeared there wasn't much he could do. Now, though, a smaller and defenceless boy had been attacked simply for being nice to him. Liam's resentment, which had grown as his depression had abated, came fully to a head. He looked up from his tea and saw Hogsford and his mates looking over at him and Will.
Liam stood up and walked to their table. He was so angry he could only focus on Hogsford. His peripheral vision was gone, his hearing was gone, his entire focus was on Hogsford. As he saw him approach, Hogsford stood up. He had an anticipatory smile on his face.
"Hey, the homo boy looks like he's grown some bollocks. Looks like I'll get the chance to kick them up inside of him."
He didn't get more than that said before Liam was there. He walked up to him and took a swing at him. Hogsford pulled his face back and Liam's fist missed. Then Hogsford pushed him, and Liam fell to the floor. As he leapt back to his feet, the entire room was on their feet, moving closer to get a better view, ringing the combatants. There were no masters here as they had their tea in a separate room. The prefects didn't seem eager to step into the fray.
Liam was back up with his fists up and ready. Hogsford leered at the smaller boy and egged him on. Liam needed no encouragement. He was not thinking at all. He was just out for blood. Hogsford's blood.
He strode forward and as Hogsford pulled back his fist to hit him, Liam threw himself into him, hitting him in the stomach with his shoulder. Hogsford stumbled backwards and tripped on a chair. He fell to the floor with Liam on top of him. Liam started to punch, but Hogsford was much bigger and an experienced fighter. He quickly rolled Liam off him, and then he was on top and Liam was on the bottom, his face almost white with rage and struggling mightily. Hogsford was much heavier, and for all his fury, Liam's struggles accomplished nothing.
Hogsford had a happy smile on his face, looking down at Blake, helpless beneath him. "Okay, homo, here we are now. Just what I've been waiting for. You started this, and I can finish any way I see fit. It's all self-defence. I'm going to beat you till you're nothing but blood and gore and make a right good job of it."
Hogsford swung his fist into the side of Liam's face, stunning the smaller boy. He drew back his fist again, but that was all he did. At that point, a scream was heard, and then Will was on Hogsford's back. Little Will, inches shorter and stones lighter than Hogsford, the smallest boy in his form and perhaps the meekest, was on Hogsford's back, screaming wordless noises and scratching, clawing, biting, hitting, doing anything and everything he could to hurt the bigger boy. Will had gone berserk.
Hogsford tried to reach him but Will was attached to his back, one hand gouging into his neck, another yanking at his hair. Then that hand dug into the side of his face, fingernails digging into flesh; all the time Will was screaming incomprehensibly.
"Hey, get him off me. Dammit, get him off me." Hogsford was swinging his arms uselessly trying to reach Will. Then he shrieked as one of Will's fingers reached his eye. He stood up and shook himself fiercely and Will flew off and into the crowd of onlookers.
Hogsford was bleeding from the side of his face, a couple tufts of hair lay on the ground and his eye was rapidly swelling shut. He stood looking bewildered.
"Let me go," Will bellowed to the boys who had caught him and were now holding him. They released him, and he immediately ran back into the circle, but not to Hogsford. He ignored him and ran to Liam, who was by now sitting up. He still seemed a bit dazed by the blow to the side of his face, but Will helped him stand. They both then looked around at the boys encircling them, then at Hogsford who still stood, uncomprehending, blood dripping from the gouges in his face.
Will put an arm around Liam's back and led him back to his table. The circle opened for them. When they reached the table, Liam sat back down on his chair.
At that point, three of the masters entered the room, having been summoned from their tea by one of the prefects. They spoke to two of the other prefects who'd been in attendance, and after a bit, one of the masters headed for Liam's table and the other two toward Hogsford.
Will was talking in a soft voice to Liam, who by now seemed to have recovered his wits. His head was still buzzing, but his thoughts were no longer scrambled. His anger was gone.
The master arrived, he and the two boys spoke briefly, and then they accompanied him to the Headmaster's house.
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