Winter's Tale

It's been a while since I added a story or chapter. Life's been busy, I'm in the process of looking for somewhere new to live as my current building is going to be torn down at some point in time later this year, so I might not be posting for a while.

**********

Winter Sasha Belmont loved playing head games with other people. Winter had an older sister, about two years before, Winter noticed one of his sister's blouses in the laundry hamper, snuck it into his room and tried it on. He liked how it felt and had done it many times since then.

He didn't really understand it, but that blouse, which was a very pale blue that was almost white with light pink flowers over each breast and a one inch high band of the same flowers running along the entire bottom hem, pulled him like a moth to a flame.

His allowance wasn't a lot, fifteen to twenty dollars a week depending on whether chores like snow shovelling or lawn cutting needed to be done, but it had allowed him to pick up many nice items from the two discount clothing stores in Windy Beach over the last two years.

Some days, he wore normal boys clothes, although he found them to be slightly uncomfortable compared to the softer women's items. Some days he would wear a female blouse and one of the three pairs of low rise skin tight girl's jeans or two normal pairs of girl's jeans he owned.

With his shoulder length dirty blonde hair, pale blue eyes that made one think of ice chips, and a wide mouth that often grinned, it wasn't hard for him to shift over to a more feminine appearance, especially when he wore bits and pieces of female clothing. This was also helped by the fact that, just under two months short of his fifteenth birthday, he was fairly short, only 5'3" and weighed about 110 pounds.

He wasn't really sure, but he thought that he might have started puberty in the last few months, as he now had a few pale hairs on his chin. It only needed a minute or two to remove them, then he was ready and raring to go, the freedom of summer had ended yesterday.

Today was the first day of school for the year, it was also the first day of high school for Winter.

He figured that there likely wouldn't be any serious activity, so he wore a dark red blouse and a pair of low rise girl's jeans. He had his backpack, even if there wasn't a lot happening today, teachers would likely be handing out textbooks for most classes. He slipped on a pair of white girl's running shoes with blue stars across the top, laced them, put on and buttoned the girl's denim jacket and left the house.

He unlocked his bike, a five speed handed down to him from his sister the year before after she had her growth spurt, eventually topping out at 5'10". The bike had been bright pink and blue when it was bought, now both colours had faded quite a bit, but the bike was in good shape.

It didn't take very long to get to school, the town wasn't very big, although it was spread out a bit, the harbour was pretty much across the river from a yacht club, and there was a seaside market stretching along the entire span of the harbourfront.

The main part of the town, though, was situated on a big island not too far away from the harbour and had a few docks at various points around the island. Winter lived in a house near the south side of the big island, the high school was almost at the north end of that island.

It took Winter a bit over ten minutes to reach the Windy Bay High School, he locked his bike to a rack and wandered inside.

**********

Winter was right, he'd ended up with several text books and was informed that he would have gym for last class on Tuesdays and Fridays.
If he had gym class, he would wear male clothing. Every other school day, he'd be wearing his girl items unless he wasn't in the mood. Yeah, sometimes, even with no gym, he just wanted to be able to be scruffy sometimes just because he could.

He enjoyed being at school, he was pretty smart, not genius level but smart enough that the work wasn't difficult. He seriously enjoyed his science class which was biology, he was learning about all kinds of animals and plants and loved it almost as much as he loved math.

Whether he dressed male or female, school was pretty good for the first seven weeks. There had been comments here and there when he attended wearing girl's clothing, an occasional shove, but that was as far as it had gone until now. The two people that had given him the hardest time were both juniors, Blake Elworth from the football squad and James Denbow from the basketball team. On more than half a dozen occasions, either Blake or James had shoved him into a locker, their excuse each time being that they hadn't seen him there.

That all changed on Wednesday, October 12th.

**********

Winter arrived at school that fateful Wednesday wearing tight fitting girl's jeans, a girl's style denim shirt and his usual girl sneakers.

He was putting several items in his locker after a class when he was body slammed into the locker, then thrown over someone's shoulder and carried down the hallway. After turning down a side hall, he saw Blake unlock the door to the small gymnasium and they all entered.

It was at this point that he realized that he had been carried there by James, as James rudely dumped him on the floor, then kicked him. What James and Blake didn't know was that Patti Brandt, a cheerleader, had seen them hit him and run off with him and had followed them. Patti running behind them down the halls had attracted the attention of several other students who also followed to see what was happening.

As far as they knew, Blake and James had slipped into the room unseen. Blake sat on Winter's chest, pinned Winter's hands behind his head on the floor and used his legs to force Winter's legs to open a bit. James laughed, kicked Winter in the side, then leaned down and hissed, "So you like to wear girly clothes, huh? Only a faggot or a wannabe trans thingy would do that, maybe I should help you out?"

James then reached down, unbuttoned the top of the jeans, yanked the zipper down and started to pull the jeans down Winter's legs. Because Blake had his legs inside Winter's, Winter couldn't kick James or stop him, so he yelled out, "Heeeeelpppp! Help me!"

Patti and several others reached the door to the small gymnasium at this point. Patti quietly opened the door, John Powell, who was on the track team, held the door open as several kids pulled out phones and began snapping pictures. No one wanted to take on the two boys. Of the nine people standing in the doorway, only John was as tall as either Blake or James, but he was skinny, those two would tear him apart.

James laughed as he spoke to Blake, "Hold onto him so he can't move, I'm going to fix the little shit for good." Blake complied.

Neither of the two boys were paying attention to anything other than Winter, James yanked the jeans down, then Winter's panties. Blake lifted his legs long enough for James to unlace Winter's shoes, pull them off, followed by the jeans and panties, and toss them all off to one side.

Another boy, Bobby Frantz, ran down to the main gym and yelled for the coach. Coach Bryant looked up, saw a young male just about freaking out standing in the doorway; Bobby told him what was happening down the hall, and both ran back toward the small gymnasium.

Coach Patrick Bryant was a big man, he'd played football in high school himself, then he'd served four years in the Army in various parts of the Middle East. He'd returned a changed man, horrified by the atrocities of war, and he still had nightmares more than twenty years later.

Yeah, Bryant was a big man, standing 6'8" in stocking feet and weighing in at about 230 lbs. He and Bobby arrived at the open door of the small gymnasium just in time to see James stomp down as hard as he could on Winter's scrotal sac, crushing both testicles.

Bryant roared out, "You stupid shits!" as he plowed through the kids in the doorway, then grabbed both boys, one in each arm. He threw Blake over toward the nearest set of bleachers, then James, then turned and yelled out for someone to call 911.

An older girl, Leslie James, replied that she had taken basic first aid as a lifeguard for the last two years, then ran over to check Winter. She quickly determined that both testicles were beginning to swell, a quick check for other issues revealed only a bruise on Winter's left side.

Laverne Jackson, a senior, called 911, asking for police and ambulance, stating there had been an assault and a young male was injured; the 911 operator responded that both police and ambulance were on the way and would arrive within a few minutes.

Bryant glowered at Blake and James, "Just stay right the hell there. If either one of you moves, I'll beat the shit out of both of you."

Bryant spent the next few minutes talking to the kids in and around the doorway. This was when he found out there were pictures of what had happened taken by several of the students. He asked why none of them had stopped the two in there, and the responses that came back were that they would have gotten their butts kicked singly or as a group, Blake and James were two of the biggest guys in the whole school. It was quite well known that the boys on the football and basketball teams used their status to keep other students under their thumbs.

Bryant was not impressed. "All of you stood there and watched while they hurt young Winter in there. Even if one or two of you at once would be beaten off by those two boys, the whole bunch of you MIGHT have been able to stop what happened from becoming reality. You're damned lucky that you kids had those photos on your phones, otherwise all of you could have been held as accomplices."

The faces of the kids in front of him ranged from ashen white to a rancid green, it was obvious that Bryant's comments had struck home. Even though they hadn't struck Winter themselves, they had unwittingly aided the two boys by not acting to help Winter.

It took several minutes and a few kids running to the washrooms before they regained their equilibrium.

**********

Four police officers arrived, Bryant led them to the two boys and stood there while they were cuffed and Mirandized.

Just as the officers finished Mirandizing the boys, the paramedics arrived. They did a quick physical scan, determining that the only major issue was the damaged testicles, then asked for someone to put the discarded clothing in a bag so Winter would have it later. They carefully lifted Winter onto the stretcher, then covered him with a blanket, strapped him in and headed out, one of them carrying the bag of clothes.

One officer, when informed that there were lots of pictures of what had happened, went out to her car and returned a few minutes later with a laptop. She spent the next twenty minutes having various kids send her images, then she pasted them all into one document and saved it.

Some of the pictures were nice and clear, some were grainy, some were blurry, but all in all, what they showed was very, very clear. Officer Lisa Browne figured the two boys that had done this would be going down for a long, long time, especially if Judge Amy Dermott got the case.

Two of the officers grabbed Blake and James and pulled them out to their car, locking them into the back seat, then got into the front seats, closed the doors and drove off to the town's small police station and lock-up by the town hall, where the boys were placed in cells.

**********

The ambulance that Winter was in rushed across the island, headed to the town's only hospital. As usual when an emergency vehicle is using lights and siren, some idiots think they don't have to get out of the way and almost caused accidents at three different places.

When they screeched to a stop by the Emergency entrance of the hospital, the paramedics opened the back door, carefully lowered the stretcher to the ground, then rolled it in through the doors being held by a young woman with a child beside her.

Tanya-Louise Emerson, one of the two paramedics, informed the woman handling new patients at the entry point that they needed to have Winter be examined as fast as possible, then explained why. The woman, Rose Eliot, nodded and paged a doctor.

Five minutes later, after Winter had been placed in a private cubicle, the doctor, Shawn Carstairs, entered with a tall, somewhat plump middle-aged nurse beside him. A quick examination of the injured area showed the testicles were swelling quite rapidly.

Dr. Carstairs ordered an ultrasound, and Winter was taken to the medical imaging unit, then examined. The results were in Dr. Carstair's hands less than thirty minutes later, and they showed significant bleeding to both testicles which were still swelling.

By this point, each one was slightly smaller than a golf ball in size and the swelling showed no signs of slowing down.

Dr. Carstairs gave an order to have Winter's parents contacted. Winter supplied his home number and his dad's office number.

Shawn shook his head, looking down at the young male whose life was changing so very suddenly. "Winter, I'm going to be blunt, there isn't anything we can do to save your testicles, but we can't remove them until one or both of your parents give authorization to do so."

Winter nodded, he wasn't sure what to feel, but he now knew that he would have to decide how he would live afterward. Even though he was quite small compared to most of the other boys in the high school, he was strong willed and adaptable. He would survive.

Dr. Carstairs added, "I know you're in pain, but I'd rather not give you any painkillers before the operation takes place. To be honest, I don't like that you're obviously hurting, but the painkillers wouldn't have time to take effect, so it seems pointless to use them."

Winter nodded, "I'll manage, doc, you just make sure to do whatever is needed," as the constant pain showed on his fine features.

At that moment, a young nurse ran into the room and stated, "His mother will be here in ten minutes, Doctor," then turned and left the room.

**********

Sheila Jasmine Belmont entered the hospital, then asked where Winter was and was quickly directed to the cubicle.

She entered the cubicle a moment later, nearly running into the stretcher and enveloped Winter in a big hug. Dr. Carstairs spent the next few minutes explaining what had happened and that there was no choice but to remove the damaged testicles to prevent any further harm.

Sheila nodded, and when the form was brought by a nurse a few minutes later, she signed it, then hugged Winter again.

With the signature on the paper, Dr. Carstairs called in an anesthetist, who prepped Winter, then two nurses wheeled the stretcher down the halls to the operating theater. The anesthetist asked Winter to count down from ten, Winter barely managed to mumble, "Four".

**********

Just under three hours later, Winter was pulled along as two new nurses took him up to the recovery area. He was still unconscious.

Once Sheila knew that he was in recovery, she made her way up there and sat beside his bed, holding his hand, a few tears sliding down her long, elegant face as she watched her younger child. She had known almost from the start about Winter's trying on his sister's clothing, she had noticed that he was buying pieces of feminine clothing now and then, and had seen many of those pieces in the laundry.

She and her husband Daniel had had a serious talk about it in March of the previous year, eventually deciding to let Winter find his own path.

**********

Almost another hour had passed before Winter finally roused from the drug-induced sleep. He was glad to notice the pain was gone. A quick look around him showed his mom dozing in a chair she had pulled up close beside the bed, her hand resting on the bed near his own.

He used the call button, and had to wait for a few minutes before a nurse appeared.

"Could I please have some water, and what time is it?" He laughed as his stomach rumbled, "I'm hungry, too, as you can hear."

The nurse smiled at him, "I'll get you some water, it's just after 3 PM; dinner is at 5:30 or so, I can bring you a sandwich?"

Just as the nurse exited the room, another woman, this one wearing a doctor's lab coat, entered and walked over to the side of the bed. "Hello, Winter, I'm Dr. Savannah Manning, I'm a psychologist here and I want to talk with you about what happened today."

The nurse returned a few minutes later, handing Winter a thick turkey club sandwich, then left again to return to her duties.

**********

The next hour passed in quite conversation as Winter told her as much as he could remember of what had taken place. As they were beginning to wind down the discussion, Sheila woke up, then noticed the doctor and asked what she was doing there.

Dr. Manning quickly informed her, adding that she was there simply to assure the hospital that Winter would be fine.

Sheila was still somewhat upset, "You couldn't have woken me up to mention it to me? I'm not saying that I would have stopped you, but Winter isn't quite fifteen yet, and thus any medical decisions or treatments need to be run by either myself or my husband first."

The doctor replied, "I mentioned that to Winter, but he said that he was fine with it, that he wasn't being forced in any way."

Winter nodded, then hugged his mother as Sheila stood up, adding, "She just wanted to know what happened and how I felt about it, mom."

Sheila took a moment to look down at her sweet boy, then shrugged as she asked, "Will you need to see him again?"

Dr. Manning replied, "That would be up to him. If he wants to have some sessions with me, it could be arranged."

Winter thought for a moment, then looked up at the two women. "With my testicles gone, doctor, what is likely to happen to me?"

"That would depend on what we do," she replied. "There are three options available. Give you testosterone to help you grow as a male would, or estrogen so that you would develop as a girl, or neither of the two and watch you for a while to see what happens."

Winter blushed and lowered his head as he quietly stated, "Doc, I'm a bit odd, for not quite two years, I've been living sometimes as a male, sometimes as a girl. Heck, this whole business happened because I come to school two or three days a week dressed in female clothes. To be honest, I don't see myself as truly male or female, but somewhere in between, and I dress as one or the other depending on my mood."

Dr. Manning smiled, "That's quite the interesting statement. Perhaps you are genderfluid, presenting as either by your own choice."

Winter laughed, the laugh sounding quite close to being a giggle. "Yeah, doc, that describes me fairly well."

Sheila was quite surprised by the turn in the discussion, "And just how would you know about things like that, Winter?"

"Mom, when we went to Boston about two years ago, I ran into a MtF girl in the theater after the movie ended. You and dad had gone into a different theater to see an adult rated movie which ran about half an hour longer than ours, Shannon was nearby, and the girl and I found a quiet spot not far from the entrance where we could talk for a while. We chattered away until you came out and found us."

Sheila shook her head, she could remember that night quite well, but she had not known the other child was not a biological female.

Winter continued, not even noticing his mother's reaction, "Kelly Anne and I have talked many, many times since then. I spent some time looking on the internet, checking out transgender and transsexual sites that I could actually visit, and then found several more sites for other parts of the LGBTQAI spectrum, including two that featured people who identified as being genderfluid. I learned a lot on all of those sites.

"It was about twenty-one months ago that I first realized that I myself might be genderfluid, and that led to me going out and buying bits and pieces of female clothing, then going out to wander around our area while presenting as a female, at least clothing wise.

"That slowly expanded to the point where I decided about fourteen months or so ago that I would start going to school dressed as a male on days that I had gym classes, as a female on most days when I didn't have gym classes, and sometimes as a male on non-gym days if I was in that sort of mood. I couldn't see any reason to change what I was doing when I switched over to the high school this fall."

"You never gave me any hassle about how I presented at any time, so I realized that you were letting me do my own thing."

Winter opened his arms, and his mother stepped forward, the two hugging each other close for a moment as Dr. Manning watched.

Winter spoke again, "Mom, could I continue to see her for a while? I think she can help me to get past what happened today."

Sheila watched Winter for a moment, then nodded and gave her number to Dr. Manning, saying, "Call me to arrange an appointment."

Winter smiled, then turned to the doctor and asked, "Could we try that third option first, no hormones and see what happens?"

Dr. Manning nodded, then pulled a daily schedule book from her big purse, looked through it and made a notation in the book. She then turned to Sheila while filling out an appointment card, "I would like to see him a week from Friday at four PM.", then handed Sheila the card.

"As for you, Winter, you'll be staying overnight. If everything is fine tomorrow morning, you will be released. Take care of yourself."

Dr. Manning shoved the schedule book into her purse, then picked the purse up and walked out of the room.

**********

Amy Dermott was one of three judges in the small town, she and a second dealt with criminal matters, the third was a family court judge.

She entered the courtroom on the morning of Thursday, October 13th, then waited as the bailiff called the first case.

The next two hours passed slowly as she handled four different cases, two of the defence lawyers had slowed things down somewhat by being rather argumentative, and she was happy to finally have the second one like that be on his way out of the courtroom.

"The next case, Your Honour, is State vs. Elworth, B. and Denbow, J. The charges are assault and assault and battery, with hate crime additions due to the fact that they were making nasty comments about "fixing the freak" while they committed the assault."

Judge Dermott turned to the two boys sitting behind the defence table and asked for their pleas.

Blake responded, "Not guilty, the little shit deserved it with his dressing like some fairy and leading on all the guys in school."

James' reply was similar, "Not guilty, the little faggot needed to be straightened out, we did the school a favour., it can't fuck anyone now."

Judge Dermott shook her head, these kids were so sure of themselves, they had no idea at all as to what they were facing.

"You two are not too smart, making comments like that in my court. I'm adding a count each of committing a hate crime."

Blake hauled himself up from his chair, growling at her, "You can't do shit to us, bitch, my father will throw the case out."

"You are quite wrong in that respect, young man. I'm setting your next appearance for 9:00 AM on Friday, November 4th.

"Bailiff, please have these two escorted downstairs to be held until their bail is finalized. Speaking of which, I'm setting bail for each of you at $250,000. Any violation of the bail conditions will result in your being jailed until the trial takes place, which could be several months.

"I am also placing a restraining order on each of you to stay way from all locations where Winter Belmont might normally go."

Blake and James were led down to the cells, where they would wait until they would be transported to the Salem jail.

**********

Judge Dermott was just about to have the next case called when the courtroom doors swung open and a man that she wished she did not have to see sauntered into the room, acting as if the space and everyone in it should be giving him homage and obedience.

She sighed, then asked, "What brings you here, Mr. Elworth?"

One of the men behind Steven Lawrence Elworth spoke up, "I have an order here to have the case against Blake Elworth and James Denbow dismissed, Your Honour." He handed a piece of paper to the bailiff, who then passed it up to the judge.

She quickly read the order and noticed that it was signed by a judge from another county, one who was known for his lackadaisical attitude toward the job, being more concerned with how much he earned than with working to ensure justice would be done.

She laughed quietly to herself, then looked up at the courtroom and stated, "Denied. The attack in question was a hate crime, and there is nothing in this order that gives me any reason to believe that there is adequate reason to dismiss the case."

She then turned to Steve Elworth, stating, "Mr. Elworth, you may be the deputy mayor of this little town, but that does not give you the right to come into my court and blatantly obstruct justice by trying to force the dismissal of this case. Bailiff, detain him on charges of obstruction. You should also detain Mr. Johnathon Smith there as being an accessory to obstruction of justice. Take them away. Ten minute recess."

Steve Elworth yelled out as the bailiff walked over, "I'll get you for this, bitch!" He then tried to punch the bailiff.

The bailiff dodged the blow, then stepped behind Elworth, grabbed his arm, yanked it up behind his back and forced him down to the floor. A second bailiff entered the court upon hearing the commotion and was ordered to detain Mr. Smith.

Judge Dermott shook her head, then spoke again, "I'm adding a charge of uttering threats and attempted assault on an officer of the court to the charges against Mr. Elworth. Bail for Mr. Elworth is now $500,000, for Mr. Smith, $150,000. Any violation of bail conditions will result in their being held until trial. They are to return on Friday, November 4th at 10 AM. As I stated earlier, we will have a ten minute recess."

**********

While she was in her chambers, she placed a call to the district attorney of the neighbouring county where the dismissal order originated.

The call rang through three times, then was picked up. "Westford District Attorney's office, how may I help you?"

"This is Judge Amy Dermott from the Windy Bay courthouse in Essex County. I need to speak with the district attorney immediately."

"One moment, Your Honour."

She had to wait a couple of minutes before the call was answered again, "Pete Sampson, Westford District Attorney speaking, what's up?"

Judge Dermott quickly informed him of the attack, the initial court appearance, then the attempted dismissal of the case by the father of one of the attackers where she noticed the order had come from Middlesex, not Essex, the denial of the dismissal and what happened after that.

Pete Sampson listened intently, "So you're saying your deputy mayor came here where he could guarantee that someone would sign the order as he wanted it, then tried to use that order to intentionally have the case dismissed just because he thinks he's a big shot in your area?"

Judge Dermott replied, "That about sums it up. I need you to have Judge Alberto Canissio investigated, that order was completely unjustified. I don't know why your government hasn't dealt with him, I've been hearing about shady things he's done for at least ten years."

"I'll have someone assigned to check out the judge, I hope the kid that was attacked is okay, people doing shit like that is just plain wrong."

**********

The night in the hospital had been pretty quiet, Winter had been served dinner just after 5:30 PM, some sort of stew with a roll on the side. The meal had been okay, although it didn't compare to the stews his mother or older sister Shannon could make.

Shortly before 10 PM, after spending a few hours watching the TV, he fell asleep while watching the TV.

He slept fairly well for a few hours before he woke up screaming just after 3 AM.

A nurse rushed in, took some time to calm him down, then asked what had happened.

"You know I was attacked earlier?" She nodded, he continued, "I dreamed that they hurt me really badly, and that they raped me, too."

She shook her head, hugging the poor boy close for several minutes until he fell asleep again. She left and added a note in his file.

Winter woke up again just after 7 AM, the nightmare was only vague memories now. He relaxed until breakfast arrived, then worked his way through the oatmeal and cheap sausage patties before spending the next two hours or so watching the TV.

Just after 9:30 AM, Dr. Carstairs entered his room, did a quick physical examination of the injury, then stated Winter was free to go.

"Don't strain yourself, I'm recommending no sports or other heavy physical activities for at least four weeks, is that clear? That will include an order from me that you are not to participate in gym at your school during that time period."

"Yes, Doctor, thank you for helping me. I need to call my mom so she can pick me up here."

Dr. Carstairs smiled, ruffled Winter's hair and said, "You're a good kid, don't go looking for any more trouble, okay?", then left the room.

Sheila arrived just before 10 AM, having picked up the no gym order from the nurses desk, then they left the hospital.

She dropped him off at the school, saying, "Take it easy, okay?" then drove to her office and returned to her normal work schedule.

**********

Judge Dermott was in court when she heard about the bail revocations for the Elworths and James Denbow.

She had been too focused on her work to worry about whether the two boys or Steve Elworth would comply with their bail conditions, but it hadn't surprised her too much when she found out that all three had broken their bail less than a week after appearing in her court.

The two boys had somehow managed to get a case of beer and had gone joyriding in Blake's '68 Charger. Things had been fine until they were heading back into the town from the outskirts and had overcut a turn, slamming the mint condition car into a 300 year old oak tree.

They had been found passed out after the impact, open bottles of beer on the floor and four more six packs in the back seats.

When the boys became aware again, they found they had been locked up in two of the town's six jail cells under the small courthouse.

Steve Elworth had done something quite different. He had been raised to have an attitude of "do what you want, when you want, and don't let anyone stand in your way", an attitude he had passed on to his son and his son's best friend, James Denbow.

He had been moping in one of the town's two bars, the Blue Bull, only leaving when he found that he had run out of cash for further drinks.

He was standing on the sidewalk outside the bar at 7:30 PM when Winter walked by, heading home from a visit at a friend's place. Elworth was pissed, that little freak was ruining his son's life and James' just by putting his useless little self in their presence. He'd fix that right now.

Elworth stepped forward, grabbed Winter as he passed by him and punched Winter hard in the stomach three times. He then decided that he would ruin the little shit's life by beating him in the face until he would no longer be recognizable, while yelling threats and nasty slurs.

Steve Elworth did manage to hit Winter three more times, the first breaking the child's nose, the second resulting in what would be a rather prominent black eye and the third shattering the left side of Winter's jaw. He was about to hit him again when the tables turned.

One of the small town's half dozen policemen had been walking down the nearest cross street, then looked along both ways as he was about to cross and saw Elworth grab Winter and start hitting him. The policeman reached them as Elworth was hitting the boy in the face.

The officer, one John Arthurs, pulled his baton and cracked it hard against the back of Elworth's left knee. As Elworth's knee collapsed and he started to fall, the officer hit him again with the baton, this time just under the right elbow, breaking Elworth's lower arm in two places.

It only took a moment for the officer to put his baton away and cuff Steve Elworth, he then stated that he was arresting him for assaulting a minor, assault and battery, uttering death threats and committing a hate crime thanks to the remarks he had overheard. He made sure that he Mirandized Steve Elworth before calling for an ambulance and requesting guards to watch the prisoner in the hospital.

He then took a moment to examine the injuries Winter had taken, and called for another ambulance. He stayed by Winter, pulling the child up onto his lap and holding him in a loose hug, telling Winter that he would be make sure that he would be okay.

The two ambulances arrived, Elworth was shoved onto the stretcher in one of them, while Winter was carefully loaded on another stretcher, then placed in the second ambulance. Both ambulances headed to the hospital, stopping in front of the Emergency entrance.

As Winter was being taken into the hospital, John Arthurs arrived, having used one of the town's two police cars to get there promptly. John Arthurs stated that Winter was to be given any and all care that could be provided, and that once Elworth's injuries had been treated, he was to be taken to the cells under the courthouse where he would be joining his son Blake and Blake's friend James for the night.

**********

The only serious injury for Steve Elworth was the broken arm, the arm was set and a plaster cast put on it. Since he was known to be violent, having been caught in the act of committing assault, the cuffs stayed on and a second set was used to secure him to the stretcher.

Two officers from another town nearby had heard the call for help from John Arthurs and showed up at the hospital to guard Elworth.

Once he had been treated, they took him out of the hospital and locked him up for the night in the courthouse cells.

That was when Steve Elworth discovered that his son and James were also in the cells. He wondered what had happened.

**********

Winter had to undergo a series of tests to determine the extent of the damage to his nose and jaw. The process was slow, but it turned out he was lucky, neither of the breaks was serious, both could be fixed fairly easily, although his jaw would have to be wired shut for a while.

Once the breaks had been repaired and his jaw wired shut, he was given pain meds through the IV and a light sedative.

Winter had not been carrying his ID with him, so it took the hospital a while before they were able to contact his parents.

**********

Sheila and Daniel Belmont showed up at the hospital just after 11 PM that night, asking where they could find Winter.

Dr. Carstairs had been working a double shift that day, so he ended up talking with them and then took them up to Winter's room.

"We had no idea where to find you, Mr. and Mrs. Belmont, so we went ahead and fixed the injuries that Winter received. Due to the one injury being to the jaw, we felt it would be better to keep the jaw as still as possible for the next six weeks to heal, hence wiring it shut. Winter will need to stick to liquids or very soft foods during that time. The nose injury was easy to fix, the shiner will clear up in a week or two."

Dr. Carstairs showed them into Winter's room, coincidentally the same room he had been in just a week earlier.

**********

Sheila Belmont grabbed the lone chair in the room, pulled it close to the bed, then sat down and grabbed Winter's hand in her own.

Daniel Belmont sighed, looking down at his boy, then leaned against the side of the bed not far from the foot.

Both of them watched Winter for about an hour, finally being shooed out of the room by a nurse as a clock struck midnight.

They had been informed that Winter would stay in the hospital for several days and said they would drop by the next afternoon.

**********

Winter woke up for a little while just before 2 AM, setting off an activity alarm at the nurses station.

A nurse appeared in the room a minute or two later, asking if he needed anything. He pointed at a cup on the bed table, implying water.

She nodded and returned a couple of minutes later with a fresh cup a jug of water and a straw, leaving them on the bed table.

Winter filled the cup and used the straw to carefully drink the water. It wasn't fun or easy, but he could manage.

He hit the call button again about fifteen minutes later, then used a note pad nearby to let her know he needed pain meds.

She nodded, left the room, then returned about ten minutes later, using a syringe to add the pain meds to his IV set-up.

The meds started to kick in about half an hour later and he drifted off, sleeping until the nurses woke him for his breakfast at 7:30 AM.

The meal wasn't much, cream of wheat and jello, both looked like they had been run through a blender, perhaps they had been.

Another dose of the pain meds around mid-morning and he dozed off again, waking up about half an hour before lunch was due to arrive.

Lunch wasn't much better than breakfast, a large bowl of broth style soup and some more jello that looked like the one he had that morning.

He wasn't tired now, he'd slept more than usual, so he laid there quietly watching various TV shows, none of which really interested him.

**********

His parents showed up at the hospital just after 5:30 PM, as supper was being served, more broth, apple sauce and jello.

He'd been given the pain meds about an hour earlier, he was slightly tired but happy to see his parents.

They visited until the hospital's visiting hours ended at 9 PM, but assure him they would be there the next afternoon.

**********

The county jail system didn't pick up Blake Elworth, James Denbow or Steve Elworth until 4:15 the day that their bails were revoked.

They had gone in front of a different judge this Thursday morning, Samovar Indroja, he was the second criminal court judge in the town.

The new charges were read, their bail was revoked, and they were taken back down to the cells to await transfer to Salem.

The old converted bus used for jail transfers arrived at 4:15 PM, and the three were on their way to the county lock-up near Salem.

**********

Winter coped with the food and the boredom during his stay in the hospital, finally being released on Sunday, October 23 at 10:30 AM.

He might have missed the appointment with Dr. Manning, but she had been informed and had come to the hospital to see him.

It had been a bit harder to communicate, as he wasn't allowed to talk, so he was dependent on the pencil and notepad to "speak".

**********

The next ten days or so passed by fairly quickly, he wasn't needing the pain meds much now, so he was able to focus decently while in classes. The only issue was that he had to use the note pad to communicate, but the teachers understood and went easy on him.

November 4th finally arrived, he would rather be in school, but he needed to be in court as the victim of the Elworth/Denbow case.

Sheila had arranged for a day off and made sure he looked decent before they headed to the courthouse that morning.

At the "All rise", they stood up and watched as Judge Dermott entered the courtroom.

"First case, Your Honour, is State vs. Elworth, B. and Denbow, J., charges are assault and assault and battery, with hate crime additions due to the fact that they were making nasty comments about "fixing the freak" while they committed the assault. They were also charged with another count each of committing a hate crime after their inappropriate remarks at their first appearance. Furthermore, Your Honour, as a side issue to this case, both were arrested again on Wednesday, October 19 after joyriding and smashing young Blake's car into the old oak on the edge of the town common, the charges then being drunk driving and breaking their bail conditions, i.e., no drinking."

Thank you." She nodded to the assistant district attorney at the prosecution table, saying, "You may present your case."

Over the next forty-five minutes, all of the students that had witnessed the attack testified before the court that they had seen what had happened, each of them also saying they had not interfered because they were extremely afraid of the two defendants.

The photos that had been taken by each of them were presented as evidence, the clearest pictures being rather damning.

Coach Bryant was called and gave his evidence that he had arrived just after the actual injury occurred, and that he had pretty much thrown the two boys over to the bleachers against the side wall of the small gymnasium, watching them closely until the police arrived.

The four police officers testified next, giving their evidence of the arrests, with Officer Browne showing her logs of the photos.

Once the officers evidence had been presented, the prosecution stated that they were finished.

Judge Dermott turned to the defence lawyer, asking if they had any actual evidence to refute what had been shown to the court.

The defence stated they did not, and after several sessions with the two boys over the last three weeks, he felt there was no possibility of their ever feeling remorse for what they had done, as he had heard them state many times that they "should have killed the freak".

Jude Dermott shook her head; thanks to their stupidity, she had sufficient reason to give them the maximum sentences allowed.

"You two have lived under the impression that you could do what you wanted to others and nothing would be done about it. That ends now.

"Blake Elworth, you are sentenced to 2.5 years on the count of assault, another 2.5 years for the assault and battery, plus three years each for the seven known hate crime remarks you made during the assault and in this courtroom on October 13th of this year.

"Furthermore, these sentences shall run consecutively, with parole not allowed for at least thirteen years."

She then turned and looked down at James Denbow.

"James Denbow, you are sentenced to 2.5 years on the count of assault, another 2.5 years for the assault and battery, plus three years each for the five known hate crime remarks you made during the assault and in this courtroom on October 13th of this year.

Furthermore, these sentences shall run consecutively, with parole not allowed for at least ten years.

Bailiff, remove them from the court. I'll take a ten minute recess before the next case."

**********

It was nearly 10:30 AM by the time the court was ready to hear the case against Steven Lawrence Elworth.

Judge Dermott entered the court, took her seat on the bench and waited for the bailiff to present the case.

"Your Honour, this case is the State vs. Steven Lawrence Elworth, the charges being obstruction of justice by using a judge from another county in an attempt to improperly dismiss a valid case against his son Blake and Blake's best friend James Denbow.

"Furthermore, Your Honour, Mr. Elworth violated his bail conditions by directly attacking the victim of the case against the two boys mentioned above, inflicting severe bruising upon Winter Belmont's abdomen, plus two cracked ribs, a broken nose, a broken jaw and a black eye.

"While he was beating the child, Your Honour, he was heard by at least five witnesses to make comments of a hate based nature against Winter, one of those witnesses being the officer who arrested Mr. Elworth moments later after putting him down by using his baton.

"Winter spent that night in the hospital having his nose realigned, his lower ribs wrapped, and his jaw realigned, then wired shut. Winter will likely recover over the next four to six weeks, but the hatred from this man, his son and his son's friend may bring him lifelong hurt.

The next thirty minutes passed as the prosecution presented their evidence for all the charges, the court order which she herself had denied, plus photographic evidence of the bruising and other physical damage arising from his assault on Winter Belmont.

Once again, the defence could find no way to refute the evidence. The assault was a huge mistake on Elworth's part.

"Mr. Elworth, if you had only stuck with the obstruction of justice charge, you might have gotten off with no actual jail time. But you took it into your own mind to have your retribution against Winter Belmont by physically attacking him outside the Blue Bull on October 19th.

For the assault, I'm sentencing you to 2.5 years. For the assault and battery, another 2.5 years. For the attempted assault on the bailiff of this court, another 2 years. For uttering threats against my person, five years. For the nine instances of hate remarks you were heard to spew as you assaulted young Winter Belmont, three years each for a total of another twenty-seven years.

"Furthermore, these sentences shall run consecutively, with parole not allowed for at least twenty years. Remove him from my court."

The case against Johnathon Smith took only a moment, he ended up getting 200 hours of community service and a suspended sentence.

**********

Life settled down for Winter after the court cases were finished.

School was a bit rough, due to not being able to speak, but he managed to cope by continuing to use the pen and notebook as needed.

The removal of the wiring on his jaw was delayed for a week, with it finally being removed in the second week of December.

He'd gained a few pounds, mostly around his hips and butt and a bit on his chest. He had been seeing Dr. Manning every two weeks after her visit in the hospital in mid-October, and was quite happy when he was finally able to speak with her normally again.

Winter still dressed as he wished, sometimes male, sometimes female depending on his mood.

He saw Dr. Manning again a few days before Christmas, when he asked if he could run something by her. He then spent several minutes outlining his thoughts about going to various schools around the state and talking about how hate crimes affect people.

He specifically stated that he would use his own case as an example, his was different enough to prove the intended point.

She listened and thought it could be a good thing, then said he'd need his parents' approval as well as the town's.

**********

Near the end of January, Winter received approval from the town, he would use these trips for bonus marks in his Social studies class.

As both of Winter's parents worked at jobs they'd held for most of his life, he needed someone else to be with him. John Arthurs had attended the council meeting the night before and had informed the council that he would go with Winter if neither of his parents could do so.

With a prospective guardian for Winter in place, Winter was off and running.

He spent at least one day a week for the rest of the school year travelling to various towns and cities across the state. Two of those places were the towns of Westhill, which was near Leominster, and Winnisimmet, a few miles outside of Boston.

In each place, he would spend an an hour or so at one school, then move on to another school in the area.

His talks were well attended, even though attendance was not compulsory, and many people were surprised when he stated that he was not transgender or transsexual, nor was he gay or intersexed. No, he was someone who identified as being genderfluid.

**********

Winter completely avoided taking hormones over the next several years, he didn't feel they were necessary.

His body continued to produce small amounts of estrogen, which caused his butt, hips and chest to grow. The process was quite slow but steady; by the time Winter celebrated his 21st birthday, he had a figure that had filled out to 34C - 26 - 36.

He never changed his name, and continued to live as he had done for several years, depending on his mood at the time.



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