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Lyle Brightham

"Excuse me! Can I have a moment of your time to discuss the deplorable work-place conditions of house-elves in the Wizarding South?"

0 · 375 views · located in Magus Grex School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

a character in “Magus Grex School of Witchcraft and Wizardry”, as played by throne


Lyle Brightham


Basic Info

Name: Lyle Beltane Brightham
Age: 15
Gender: Male
House: Ferre
Pet: Two ferrets named Skip and Scamp
Birthplace: Born in Surrey, England, currently Baltimore, MD
Astrological Sign: Gemini
Wand: 10 inches, elm & unicorn tail hair, brittle
Patronus: Unable to produce a corporeal Patronus

  • Attention
  • Causes
  • Care for Magical Creatures
  • Quodpot (though he prefers Quidditch)
  • The Scrivener

  • Homework/Tests
  • Prejudice
  • People who call football “soccer”
  • Being called stupid
  • Potions/Professor Chambers


Lyle can be a bit hard to keep up with sometimes. He transferred to Magus Grex from Hogwarts during his second year, after his mother died. He was quite unhappy and withdrawn at first, but once he made some friends, returned to his spunky self. The boy is a tireless ball of energy, given to talking really fast, and sometimes his accent makes it hard to understand what he’s saying.

Lyle can come off… a bit dim. He’s the first to admit that he’s pretty hopeless at magic, “practically a Squib”, in his own words, but his problem has less to do with intelligence and more to do with focus. He’s very easily distracted, and really has trouble keeping up with his magical schoolwork. He loves magical creatures, though, and Caring for them is his favorite class by far.

He’s a boy of a thousand causes. He wants to liberate the house-elves, save the unicorns, free all captive dragons, and get legislation enacted to grant half-humans protections, among other things. He’s never without some petition or another to sign, and in spite of his relatively small stature and lack of magical prowess, he stands up stridently for the ideals and people he believes in, revealing the reason he was sorted into first Gryffindor and then Ferres rather than Hufflepuff or Cervus.

During his fourth year, he started a monthy school newspaper called The Scrivener which he produces himself with the help of a small staff of volunteers. His dream is to either become an ace reporter for The Daily Prophet someday, or else start up his own paper in the States if he doesn’t return home.

He’s a first class goofball, though not really one for pranks. He more the type to take really weird dares or mess around with his food at the breakfast table. He’s also a bit of a conspiracy theorist, and retains a subscription to The Quibbler even overseas.

Lyle’s never really had a reason to figure out romance, and he doesn’t mind at all if it stays that way. He’s a bit immature in that regard, preferring male friends’ company, pretending he knows everything there is to know about snogging, and the like. He sometimes wonders if he might be bi, but is usually too busy to really care about that stuff.


Lyle grew up in England, born in Surrey and raised in London. Both of his parents were magical, though no one of any real repute. His mother was more or less a housewife, and his father had a minor job at the Ministry.

When he went to Hogwarts, he was a little surprised to find himself Sorted into Gryffindor. He’d never thought of himself as particularly brave. Back then, he’d been even smaller, and never really a fan of conflict. He got on well enough with his housemates, but found himself striving to prove himself in their eyes. That was when he developed a habit for childish antics, learning to perceive laughter as acceptance.

His mother passed away during the holidays of his second year. Both Lyle and his father were devastated by her death, but his father really took it hard. He was lost without her, and wound up losing his job. He had no choice but to return to the United States and live with family there while he pulled himself together.

Lyle had just finally managed to establish himself a bit at Hogwarts, and so pulling up the stakes and going somewhere strange and new only compounded his grief. He hardly spoke a word through the end of his second year, but after the summer, returned determined to make a better time of it.

He fell into his old pratfalls, and learned to rely on his Britishness. His American peers were often curious about the way things were “across the pond”, and so he hammed it up a bit. He gradually started to realize that people liked him better when he was being himself; the problem was figuring out exactly who himself was.

His activist tendencies began when classes started getting tougher. The more and more he fell behind, the more he loved Care for Magical Creatures, and that led him to discover shocking things, like the fact that some companies tested magic on animals, or that unicorns had been hunted to endangerment. He started getting involved, joining letter-chains and movements, reading all sorts of publications, and gradually moved on to wizarding rights and more widespread concerns as well.

He knew full well he could never get into government, not with grades like his, so he decided that he’d become a great journalist, shining the light of truth in the dark recesses of the social order. When someone suggested he start a school newspaper, he lept at the opportunity. At first it was small and very much slanted with his political beliefs, but gradually others joined the project, and he began running gossip columns, advice columns, and even publishing literary and art pieces that were submitted.

Now in his fifth year, he’s positively dreading the O.W.L.s. He has a few friends, and is generally quite happy. He finally managed to get past his aversion to Quodpot, which he considers quite substandard compared to Quidditch, and intends to try out for the team this year.


Do you know much about the Harry Potter Universe?: DUMBLEDORE IS GAY, SNAPE KILLED DUMBLEDORE
How often do you get online?: The real question is when I ever get offline.
How often can we expect you to be able to post?: Hahaha.
Password: Copper Cauldron

So begins...

Lyle Brightham's Story

#, as written by throne
Introducing! The remarkable Lyle Brightham (Ferre House)

Lyle was smack in the center of a cluster of fourth and fifth year Ferre students at their table. He didn’t have anywhere at all to run off to, he was enjoying catching up with his friends. So much had happened over the summer! His eyes were wide as he listened to one of the boys talk about a trip his family took to London, and when he was done, Lyle immediately began to prattle on about some of his favorite places in the city, oooh, had he visited there? How was Diagon Alley, amazing, right? He laughed and joked, at one point some French fries wound up in his nose, and a moment later, milk wound up coming out of it. The group of boys was loud, the source of several explosions of laughter and a great deal of table-slapping.

The discourse was interrupted briefly when stuff began clattering over on the Vulpes table. Lyle leaned a bit and strained his neck trying to make out who was doing what, and began laughing riotously when he spotted Justin doing… well, he wasn’t sure what, but it was hilarious, and then Teiver silenced the dancing plates and knives and stuff and he quickly lost interest.

”Guys, guys, guys,” he interjected, using his hey this is serious voice and eyebrow placement (riding a bit high on his forehead). He waited a few deliberate beats, and then: ”I’m totally trying out for the team this year. I’ve been practicing all summer, and I think I’ve finally got the hang of the sport. Do you think I have a shot?” The conversation quickly dissolved into a dozen different Quodpot related topics, but most of them were quite encouraging. He’d glanced around, hoping to catch Finn’s eyes, but he wound up furrowing up his brow instead. Where had Finn gone?

He hung a spoon off his nose, nodding solemnly while another fifth year lamented their upcoming O.W.L.s. Lyle’s cheeks flushed a bit. ”Oh, man, I just don’t even want to think about it. I’m sure to get a Troll in Potions, I just know it, and probably Transfiguration too. I might scrape an A in Charms, maybe, if I can get someone to tutor me…” Then the spoon fell off, somehow landing perfectly in a bowl of custard, and everyone was laughing once more. Lyle’s sheepish grin threatened to consume his ears, and then his eyebrows shot up once more.

”Oh! I’m taking donations for that spell disaster relief fund. I guess a major mishap happened over in Russia. Really guys, anything you can spare would help a lot.” He dragged his backpack into his lap and pulled out a large envelope, which he began passing around. That sort of thing wasn’t too uncommon for the plucky Ferre, and he quickly remembered another issue as well. He produced some parchment, a quill, and a little pot of ink. ”And this is a petition to lessen the restrictions on underage magic, so, you guys should all really sign. Some of my pen-pals at other schools are doing it too, and we’re going to send them to all the Ministries at once. Cool, huh?”

He lowered his backpack to the ground once more, grinning enthusiastically as people gave and signed. His grin diminished, though, when he spotted Vance Abernathy coming over. He heaved a sigh of relief when Felix got up; if anyone could handle the Abernathty’s, it was Felix. What the blazes did the two of them have to talk about though? He strained to eavesdrop, but couldn’t make out a word, and he’d never been any good at reading lips so he gave up after a moment.

His puzzlement was lost when someone elbowed him and handed him the envelope. He gave it a shake, lighting up when he heard a fair amount of jingling. ”Thanks, everyone. You’re all awesome!” Tucking it away- he’d make the rounds once he’d finished eating-, he helped himself to a heaping pile of cookies and sweets. Someone pointed at his face, and he realized he had an ersatz moustache made of milk, which he made a big show of licking off.

He tilted his head, listening with intense curiosity as word of Nevaeh’s absence finally made it over. Now that could be a story. Nobody particularly wanted to talk about her though (Lyle did reluctantly nod when the consensus seemed to be that she was hot), so the conversation soon took yet another turn.

It was good to be back.

#, as written by throne
Vance Abernathy – Arietem House

The truth about Nevaeh. He’d have his measure of Fletcher yet. It would be interesting to watch what the boy did with the information Vance had promised. A part-truth was what he planned to deliver, and if the Ferre had even a shred of the conscience that he demonized others for lacking, he wouldn’t breathe a word of it. Perhaps he’d even take pity on Vance. A year ago, the very thought would have brought the taste of bile to his mouth, but now… now he needed every tool at his disposal. If he were capable of trust he might have taken a far more direct route in all this, but trust was a luxury that not even all the gold in the Abernathy vaults could buy him.

His eyebrows lifted slightly when Felix added a vague secondary term, but he hardly cared. The champion of the meek could easily have asked for more, and Vance would gladly have complied. Not playing Quodpot, pretending to care about the weak links scampering about the school, doing his damn homework; all of it came secondary to survival, which was only primary until he could get his revenge.

He’d been watching him all the while. He might not have been as predictive as he’d liked, but he’d achieved more or less the effect he’d desired. Fletcher was questioning his motives, then questioning his own questioning, and likely even questioning that as well. Vance’s unfailing commitment to the arrangement was truly shown when Felix slung an arm over his shoulders. Unlike mention of his sister, that little bit of incendiary failed to find any tinder.

He listened to the logistics. Was it some sort of trap? A clandestine meeting, alone? And why in the world would a dog be involved? He’d slowly chew on that for the remainder of the evening, ultimately deciding that it would be worth the risk. In the very least, if Fletcher was somehow a part of the conspiracy, he’d likely not expect Vance to be more than ready to use lethal force if need be. I already did once, he couldn’t help but think, and his stomach lurched. He found himself thankful that he hadn’t eaten too much.

As Felix walked off, he conjured a characteristic smirk and raised his gloved hand to lightly brush at his shoulders, as if the Ferre had left some tangible residue on his robes that needed to be returned. He smiled icily as he was given the finger, and then Felix was off. Statue of the dog, midnight. Now to see to the rest of it. A few Ferre students who were still feasting were sort of staring, likely freaked out by the fact that Vance and Felix somehow hadn’t come to blows after a conversation. A practiced baleful stare, approximately two seconds worth for each of the two boys and one girl, was enough to have them looking dutifully at their plates.

Clasping his hands behind his back once more, he strode off, his strides as long and full of purpose as ever. Fletcher was heading toward his table, which meant that he’d have to touch bases more definitively with Zachariah later, and Lee…

… where was Lee? The smitten Beauregard was one of the few he trusted to watch his back, if only because he was so literally invested in “watching his back”. You can take the Beauregard out of the swamp, he remembered his father saying once, But good luck taking the swamp out of the Beauregard.” More than likely he was off in the midst of some torrid interlude, something which Vance would spare no more thought than that. He hardly cared about the boy’s proclivities, only how vocal and crass he could be in satisfying them.

As he passed the table, he made sure to catch Zachariah’s eye, and offered an all but imperceptible nod as well.

A thought crossed his mind; more an image that he’d not deigned to process that suddenly had meaning. Quite uncharacteristically, he paused in place and glanced over his shoulder, taking a quick survey of the Vulpes table. The bulk of the school’s magical talent was concentrated in that House, and one in particular… but she wasn’t there. No matter. He’d find her when he was more sure of things.

It dawned on him that he’d simply been standing in place for several seconds, thinking. Alertness flooded his eyes once more, honing his gaze into something sharp and formidable, and he resumed his stride, headed for the Arietem common room.

Lyle Brightham – Ferre House

When the conversation finally tapered off a bit and Lyle was nice and full, it occurred to him that he hadn’t seen Naire yet, or Lloyd. He got up out of his seat as if someone had threatened to set him on fire, all flustered and grabbing at his bag and laughing. ”Yeah, I’ll see you lot back at the common room, “ was how he excused himself before, hugging his backpack to his chest, he scampered off at full tilt, piping a quick ”Sorry!” to a seventh year girl who was forced to sidestep to avoid the bundle of energy that was Lyle.

He charged up to the Vulpes table, skidding to a stop to seek out his best friend. He rocked on his heels, eyes darting about. Where was he? Probably outside, but there was a lot of outside that he could have gone to. He did find a few fellow fifth years and flashed them an antsy smile. ”Hey, did anyone see where Naire went? Did he say where he was going?” The questions were fired off one after another, a barrage of the rapid patter that passed for speech from Lyle. Heads were shaken, and he sighed exasperatedly but said ”Thanks anyway!” before wheeling off and skittering out of the hall. He looked over the Arietem table, too, but Gwen was gone already, probably off with her girlfriends or some guy or something.

* * *

He stopped off at his room to stow his bag and pick up Skip and Scamp. The ferrets were no longer allowed at meals after an incident the year before. Much like their owner, they had a tendency toward excitement, and well… the ferrets simply weren’t allowed anymore.

He opened the large cage they were cooped up in and thrust his arms in. In a flash, the creatures scurried up either sleeve of his robes, and Lyle wound up bursting into ticklish laughter as the climbed up his body to pop out his collar and take up perches on his shoulders; Skip, a soft gray, on the right, and Scamp, a healthy brown, on the left. He grabbed a notepad and a quill and set off in search of his friends.

He burst out of one of the castle’s many exits at a dead run, stopping briefly to catch his breath and get the lay of the land. He tilted his head a bit, listening, and would have sworn he heard soft strains of music in the distance. It took him a moment to get a sense of where it was coming from, and a grin slowly blossomed on his lips, followed by a pinkening of his cheeks as he bolted off toward the sound of a violin being skillfully played.

He slowed down once he caught sight of Lloyd perched on a large rock. He didn’t want to scare her, or interrupt her, or anything like that. He was still beaming as he approached, lifting an arm to flap it in an exaggerated wave (the ferrets were used to such actions, and scampered about on his body to stay put) to her. He just stood there, grinning idiotically, and waited for her to finish up. Of course, if it took toooo long he’d start getting fidgety, but even his feisty ferrets seemed to have calmed down to listen to Lloyd play.

#, as written by Skwidge
Lloyd Vrancing

Lloyd had once again let her eyes flicker shut, letting the instrument take her mind completely, and her arms move out of memory and strict learning. She listened carefully to the notes emanating from the violin, and the faintest of smiles was placed on her lips. Dorremoon was patiently watching, her ears flicking every so often, until Lyle appeared out of no where with his ferrets. The cat made a soft yet somewhat rough meow in their direction.

And then Lloyd opened her eyes once more.

Immediately her bow slipped up from her initial shock, and a painful note screeched from the strings. An immediate blush spread across her cheeks from embarrassment and shame, and she quickly moved the bow from the instrument. She smiled sheepishly at the boy, rubbing the back of her neck. She then dropped it a few seconds after, and her cheek moved up a little as she squinted, a faint grin still remaining.

Lloyd hopped down from the rock, not meeting his eyes and then she set down her violin into the cushions of its case including the bow. She pushed down the cover and flipped the latches back on, locking it. She quickly picked it up and held it with both hands behind her figure. Dorremoon entwined herself between the girl's legs, successfully rubbing off some of the dirt she had amassed in her fur.

"Hey, what's up?" She asked casually, glancing up at the quickly dimming sky. "Er, not to be rash, but perhaps we should head back before some creepies come out of the woods. Or worse, the prefects." She made a mock shudder, and then walked slowly past him back towards one of the castle doors. "Unless you only needed me for a question, that is. Which is totally fine too!" She mumbled quickly, a half smile and an apologetic look to her eyes.

Naire Harth

He looked at Myra thoughtfully, an unbelieving smile on his face at her comment about the actress. "Psh, nah. You know me with famous people or people of higher standings. I'd much faster chuck my camera at their head than have the decency and a hold of my thoughts to be polite. But I did have a superb time." He put his hand to his chest poshly, and formed a very refined British accent with his tongue.

He smirked, patting her head resolutely. His face then turned into that of a bad poker face as she mention the pictures of that year. "Eh-heh. Whatever floats your boat." Another nervous chuckle, and then he shook his head. In truth, he kept most of his personal pictures in a photobook in order to go over in the summer during free time to help remember the memories better.

"Yeah, yeah. Of course. Plus the mosquitoes are probably gonna be out soon too. I mean, Chopstick is usually good with them, but, he's so small...." He complained without any enthusiasm. Chopstick hooted in protest, flickering up to Naire's finger as he got up. Naire shifted his hand in front of his chest so that Chopstick would not be upset by the onslaught of wind as he sped after Myra.

He then fell in place next to her, scritching his head softly as they walked, using his peripheral vision so he wouldn't trip or run into anything. "So sleep is soon to come. It'll be nice to get back in the beds here. It's always been a second home, to everyone I'd say. At least sleep'll come easy." He nodded, continuing along.

#, as written by throne
Lyle Brightham – Ferre House

At the sound of the screeching note that Lyle’s unintended stealth had resulted in, the boy winced and his pair of ferrets quickly scurried for cover. Two mobile lumps appeared on his shoulders as Skip and Scamp disappeared into his collar once more. Even with the sunlight faltering, Lloyd would easily be able to see the lumps scurrying in a spiral down his torso beneath his robe. Despite the fact that he felt really, really bad about interrupting her, he couldn’t help a bit of giggling as their little paws danced over him. Realizing how much worse that probably made things, he quickly stifled. His cheeks flushed red and he reached up with one hand to rub the back of his neck as well.

”Oh, um, I was actually looking for Naire but I heard you playing and couldn’t help but come over.” His mind caught up to his mouth a few seconds later, and he realized that he might have just insulted her, sort of. ”But I was hoping to see you too! We didn’t get to talk at dinner, haha, sorry, I got all wrapped up in stuff. Did you have a good summer? Mine was great. I’m really glad to be back, and oh! I’m going to try out for the Quodpot team this year, isn’t that something? I’ll have to find someone else to take over the sports column, because I’d probably be biased, but I’m really excited. So excited. This is going to be the best year yet, I can feel it, can’t you?”

He never quite seemed aware of how hard it could be for people to keep up with his rapid-fire manner of speaking. His father often remarked on how little he seemed to need to breath, if only when he was talking, which he almost always was. There was a brief pause, where she might have been able to get a word in, but probably not. Again, he only seemed to have digested what was said, this time by her, once he’d quieted a bit and had time to actually let the words bounce around his skull a few times. ”You’re right though, we should head in. I guess I won’t see Naire till tomorrow, that’s too bad.” His brow creased a bit. ”Should I have a question for you? Did something exciting happen?” His eyes were wide, eager, waiting. Quite reminiscent of a puppy, he scampered after her towards the school.

Vance Abernathy – Arietem House

He nearly flinched when Lee mentioned that his siblings were at the French wizarding school that Nevaeh would supposedly be attending. He’d nearly forgotten that little fact, forgotten it enough, at least, that he had to rapidly make several decisions. He had faith that he could convince Lee not to share anything that would disrupt the cover story, but very little faith that the boy would have the good sense to keep his mouth shut on the matter unless expressly told to. That meant he needed to tell the flamboyant younger man even more than he’d intended to, which didn’t sit well with him. This was the one area where he’d always trumped his sister. She’d ruled her flock of female friends and male admirers exclusively with fear, but he was much better at the game. It was his grandmother who had called it that, the concept of identifying people as pieces and maneuvering them across a metaphorical board. No doubt, if Nevaeh were in his shoes rather than the cold ground, she’d already have her wand to Lee’s throat, a threat ready to pour like poison from her lips.

”Very eventful, I must say.” He had taken a bit longer in coining his reply than was required, something that Lee would surely notice. ”But all in good time.” His fingers unwound, and he reached over with his remaining hand to give Lee’s shoulder a brief, Vance’s-version-of-friendly squeeze. ”This year will turn out to be just as eventful, I think.” That should have been sufficient to whet Lee’s appetite for secrets while satiating his appetite for affection, however brisk.

He lengthened his stride by a half-pace as they drew nearer to the entrance of the common room of Arietem House. ”Lordly lineage,” he whispered into a brazier by the door after a quick, surreptitious glance to ensure that no one was in range to eavesdrop. The heavy stone door slid aside, revealing the short flight of steps that led down into the common room proper, plushly appointed as it was in the greens of the house’s standard.

Normally, Vance relaxed ever so slightly upon entering the Arietem-only cloister of the school. In part, it was to convey a bit of trust that barely existed; it was also because maintaining poise could be laborious throughout an entire school day, even for him, particularly on a day where he had to deal with Fletcher. Not so, this year. This year, anyone could be an enemy.

He vaguely remembered Bellona mentioning something about a gift when he spied her by the fire. He offered her a courtly nod, then allowed himself to sink down into an overstuffed chair across from her. He was careful to choose one with another adjacent, so that Lee wouldn’t have to pout, or worse, make a show of dragging a seat closer to him. ”What a tiresome evening this has been,” he remarked earnestly. He’d sleep well tonight, if he didn’t dream of fire, green light, and cold, pale girls.

And then there’s Justin – Vulpes House

Normally, lazing about on a cot for a spell with nothing more intensive to do thank keep track of time would have been restive for Justin. He couldn’t keep unbidden scenes from the past from his mind, though. Two young boys, on a slender whip of a thing with spikey hair, the other a bit sturdier with a shaggy mane and a goofy grin. The former leaning heavy on the latter, practically clinging to him as he limped along toward a first-aid tent a stone’s throw from the cacophony of a Quodpot stadium teeming with fans.

That same spikey-haired boy never failing to notice when the shaggy-haired boy was about. They were both a little older than they had been, both a little more certain of what they wanted. A dozen or so instances of the two of them avoiding one another’s gaze or presence, the cloying desire to break their shared silence, the cold stare of another boy, indistinct in memory, who might ever be a wedge between them.

A kiss, the first and only kiss they’d shared, only they hadn’t really shared it. The formerly spikey-haired boy, who’d finally realized that gelling his hair into tines didn’t do all that much to make him look badass, had stolen it. The true punishment for his crime: the only chance he might have had stripped from him.

Justin’s dark brown eyes snapped open. He planted his feet on the ground and stood, using his wand to carefully levitate the boiling cauldron from the flames onto a rack, where it could cool. While it did, he busied himself with changing out the cartridges of sleeping gas in the hutch and restoring the protective enchantments he’d layered upon it. It was tedious, but he didn’t mind just them. The images from his reverie were hovering at the fringes of his mind and the task helped keep them at bay. He was nervous, he realized. This whole affair was a Hail Mary, an act of desperation, almost certainly doomed to fail.

Justin never wore insecurity well, and so he clamped down on those thoughts. Instead, he focused on a siphoning spell, drawing the brown liquid from the cauldron in a thin stream that he snaked through the air, passing it through a cheesecloth set up for just this purpose in order to filter the scum away. A bit like making consommé, really, he never failed to think. Maybe he could conspire a way to cook for Emerson. The boy loved food, and anyone who was successful at Potions was a worthy cook with his mind set for the task.

Something to think about later. When the Betterbeer had cooled enough, he began drawing up pipettes of it and transferring it into glass vials, which he stoppered with tiny corks and then threaded through loops of cloth he’d sewn into his messenger bag for the express purpose of carrying potions. The bag itself was ridiculously enchanted, Extended, of course, but it featured a few other Charms as well, similar in nature to the Breaking Charms used in broom-making. In the event that he took a tumble with his bag, the contents would remain relatively undisturbed. It was a necessary safety measures; there were times when his little bag held enough volatile potions to take down an entire hallway of the school, never mind any unforeseen reactions that some of his more interesting concoctions might have had with one another.

All that was left now was to ascend. He lit his wand, and once outside the chamber, brought it through the reverse of the motion he had used to open the titanic door in the first place. It groaned closed, and he stepped lightly over the sheet of wood covering the hole to take the stairs two at a time on his way up. He’d need to hurry, if he wanted to be back to the common room by curfew. Not that he was worried about being caught; it was more a matter of getting to socialize with the friends he’d missed in the Great Hall. Thank whoever that Bliss and Flint get along. It’d be Hell if the two of them ever decide to become those sorts of exes, particularly on me.

The clutter above the trapdoor silently arranged itself once more, and Justin clambered out as quietly as he could. He’d never been at all athletic, and actually hoisting his own body weight out of the circular aperture put more strain on him than he’d ever admit. Once the flooring and rug were back in place, he moved to the door, waving his wand a final time in order to restore the mess to its natural state of messiness. He extinguished his wand silently, then cupped a hand to the door to listen.

The long hallway was a perfect conductor for sound. Hearing no one, he quickly slipped out, simply flipping the switch on the knob to re-lock the door. No magic needed. Stuffing his hands into the pockets of his robes, he strolled on out of the Astronomy area and started for the small stretch of school that he thought of as home more than the house he’d been raised in.

Myra Magaly

…but, he’s so small…” Myra slowed down a little as she heard Naire’s footsteps following her and Chopstick’s little hoots. How can an owl be so darn cute? She smiled softly to herself. Turning to Naire as he fell in step with her, “You know I’d never really ask you to burn a picture you’d taken, right? You’re too talented. It’d be a waste.” They entered Magus Rex and Myra enjoyed the quiet the building was taking on as students found their ways to their beds. This large building was so comforting to her, even with her bumpy start. It was like she knew she belonged.

As if he could hear her thoughts, Naire stated, “So sleep is soon to come. It’ll be nice to get back in the beds here. It’s always been a second home,” Myra nodded agreeably, “to everyone I’d say. At least sleep’ll come easy.

Myra had half a smile as she bumped him with her shoulder, “Yeah, one of the only things that comes easy living here. But you’re right, Near, I feel so safe here, especially because I have you…” She trailed off as she caught sight of Vance and Lee walking out of the great hall. Her chest got tight and her body tensed, momentarily stunned. Myra let the breath she hadn't known she'd been holding go as the boys didn't take notice of her or Naire. She shot a glance at Naire, to see if he'd seen her reaction. She hadn't shared her thoughts on Vance's new attitude yet, and wasn't sure if she should. She also wasn’t sure of exactly what emotion had coursed through her as she'd seen the two Arietem's, and she didn’t have time to think on it more because Kaplan had turned and started heading the direction they’d just come from. Not one for making noise, he uncharacteristically mewed happily as he trotted up to the jeaned pants of a very familiar figure. Although Kaplan adored Myra, he was very close to Vin as well. Myra turned and stopped, giving her brother a once over she tapped Naire’s shoulder and cocked a hip. With a smirk that announced victory she crossed her arms and simply stated, “Vin, I told you so.”

Vin Magaly

“Hey, thanks man!” Vin drawled casually, smiling as he gingerly stepped off the rickety boat that had brought him to the island. Caretaker Wicks gave him a steely-eyed glare as he pulled the small rowboat by it’s rope to the dock.

“This was no gift, Magaly. 10 points from Ferre and you just arrived,” Wicks barked at him, “You’ve missed the dinner. Head straight to your commons. I don’t want to see you out and about tonight, you hear?”

Woops… Finn’s not gonna be happy with me for that one. Vin thought of his pal and his insatiable urge to win house cup for a moment, then shrugged. “Alright then.” He grabbed his duffle bag with all his clothes in it. It wasn’t the first time Vin’d missed the cruise over, and it wouldn’t be the last, he knew. He didn’t understand why Wicks always came and picked him up though, he was willing to wait until it got dark and fly over. Vin may not have been as good at flying as Myra was, but he wasn’t inept. With a sly smile at Wicks he said, “I’m just gonna stop by the kitchen on my way up there, kay?” Before Wicks could reply, Vin had placed his headphones in and pressed play on his MP3 player. Give him all the magic in the world, Vin just couldn’t help but love technology and it’s ease of use. No remembering silly Latin words for things… then again, that did come in handy every now and then.

Vin pulled his hood up over his head and, sauntering up the hill towards the school, couldn’t help but bob his head the bass beat of the song in his ears. A little Soundgarden tonight, “The Day I Tried to Live.” He smiled and waved at random passerby, knowing full well they hadn’t noticed he was gone during the feast, but that they’d still be surprised that he wasn’t wearing his robes and was carrying his belongings. He shot a large wave to Lloyd and Lyle, then entered the huge front doors of Magus Rex. He noticed Naire and Myra walking up ahead and a lazy smile crossed his face. His sister had an “I told you so!” waiting for him for sure. She’d tried in her most non-confrontational way to get him to skip the beach and make it to the dock on time, but god those waves!!

The swell had been perfect and Derek, his best muggle friend, had promised to keep an eye on the time so that Vin wouldn’t be late to his “flight to boarding school.” An hour after the cruise had surely left him behind, Derek and Vin had finally called it a day and gotten some In ‘N’ Out burgers before heading to their respective homes. Good ol’ Mums and Daddy-o hadn’t been too pleased with him and sent an owl off right away. An hour after that Vin had found himself sitting face to face with an extremely grumpy and gruff caretaker as he had worked out the chords on his bass to a Black Sabbath song. Occasionally he’d paused to try and chat with Wicks, they’d had the long ride many times before and Vin had a soft spot in his heart for the angry-esque guy, if only because his constant scowl was amusing. Wicks had only ever grunted in response, … or was it that he was just over-exerting with the boat. Maybe I should have helped? Vin chuckled softly to himself then stooped to pet Kaplan firmly along his spine and tail. “Hey cat daddy!” He looked up as Myra smiled at him with that gleam in her eye, “Here it comes! ‘I told you so!’” he said simultaneously with her, removing his right head phone. “Hey Harth-man!” He held his hand up for a high-five. "How's the portfolio coming along for the year? I'm sure you've already captured all the drama-rama of the first feast." Vin let his voice get low and conspiratorial, a mischievous grin on his face, "Have you heard? Houses are intermingling." He looked at himself, then looked at the too Vulpes, "Wait! Aren't you two... Vulpes? Our friendship is doomed." He laughed softly to himself.

#, as written by Skwidge
Lloyd Vrancing

Lloyd flashed him a small smile, shrugging nonchalantly in a slightly forgiving manner. I'm sure he didn't mean it like that.... Dorremoon's head tilted upwards as she watched the girl walking a little strangely. Her paws hit the dirt silently as they neared the door. "Oh yeah, Naire. I think he was out here, not sure though. But you know him, always so eager to take his pictures. Outside is always one of the best places to do that."

As he rambled along, Lloyd walked quietly through the doors of Magus Grex, her head positioned upwards as her eyes flickered to and fro, taking in the building's architecture. However, inside she was actually quite embarrassed and mortified he had been listening to her play. "Yeah, that's no problem though. I'm sure you were just working hard at more petitions, right?" Her voice was soft, and she had a small smile on her face as she turned back to him.

"Yeah, I had a pretty good summer. Worked at the violin almost a third of my twenty-four hours every day. I also did a bit of hiking, you should have seen where my dad and I went. It was amazing." She nodded softly, sidestepping a few students rushing past. "I'm extremely glad to be back as well. This year is going to be pretty great, I can feel it."

Lloyd paused, waving at Vin as he ran by. "Quodpot, huh? I'm sure you're going to have a great time! Just be sure to practice a lot." She smiled once more, reaching the great steps to the Common Rooms. "But you're going to have to-" But she was cut off as he finished what she was going to say. She nodded with a small chuckle. "Yeah, you're going to have to find someone to fill in for you.

She laughed quietly. "What with you being in the papers, I don't think I could tell you, even if something exciting did happen." She set her hand on the railings of the stairs, but spied Myra, Vin, and Naire again. "Well, there's Naire. I guess you should probably go join the conversation. I'll meet you up in the Common Room, or see you tomorrow. Night."

Lloyd quickly scaled the stairs up to Ferre's Common Room, leaving Lyle to whatever it was Lyle did. Dorremoon silently padded after her before catching up and walking beside the girl.

Naire Harth

Naire chuckled lazily. "'Course I know that, Myra. I was just playing along." He smirked at her, ruffling her hair with that smile of his. He continued to walk, stuffing his hands into his pockets and fiddling around with his wand. She then bumped him and he flashed her a teasing frown. "Yeah, well. It's what I do." He grinned cheekily at her, scratching Chopstick gently above the right wing.

He then noted her sudden change in body language, and nudged her with his shoulder. "Ah please, it's just Lee and uh, Vance." He rubbed the back of his neck with a lopsided, comical grin.

He then turned, hearing the voice of Kaplan. He let out a warm chuckle, waving at Vin. He paused though, looking back at Myra with a confused appearance. "Wait, wha'?" He then looked back at Melvin, finally taking note of his belongings. "Oh, miss the ship again?" He said in a faked Swedish accent, mimicking Myra and put his hand on his less prominent hip, a mocking pout on his face.

He let out a laugh, dropping the act and meeting his high five. "Good to see ya, Vin." Chopstick hooted his own cheery greeting, flapping his wings for a second. "Dude, cut me some slaaackk. The year's only begun. I did get some good shots of what you missed." He stuck his tongue out, arching his eyebrows mockingly with a smile and a snicker.

Naire's eyes suddenly widened, and he put his hand to his mouth with a sarcastic gasp. "Nooo! We must tell the presses!" The boy then turned and began to run forward slightly in slow-motion, over-exaggerating his movements. He then rolled his eyes, putting his hands back into his pockets and leaning against the stair railings. He then saw Lloyd and Lyle making their way over.

Once more he removed his hand from a pocket and waved once towards their direction before turning back to the twins. "Aww, only for a coupe hours a day, Melv!"

#, as written by throne
Lyle Brightham – So Confused!

Lyle nodded profusely. Naire did like taking pictures, and Lyle couldn’t really get upset about how inaccessible it made him sometimes. After all, a lot of those pictures wound up in The Scrivener, and Lyle was well aware of how crucial pictures were to the success of a paper. People needed them to break up all the columns of letters and words, especially him!

He listened to her recount her summer, grinning incessantly. ”Oh, really? Where did you guys go? I don’t think I’ve ever really been hiking before. Not on purpose anyways. There was that time I got lost outside my grandpa’s house, and wound up wandering in circles for hours, but I don’t think that counts, haha!”

His eyes lit up when he spotted Vin waving, and he practically threw his arm out of socket returning the gesture. Skip and Scamp, not so fond of the mini-earthquake that his exuberance had subjected them to, made him aware of their displeasure by digging their claws in a bit, almost simultaneously. ”Yeow!” He did an awkward little dance in the aftermath of it as they scurried about, repositioning. It didn’t hurt so much as it surprised him. What had Lloyd said? Oh!

His brow knit up, lending him a bit of a resemblance to his ferret’s as suspicion showed itself on his features. Did she really think he’d go and print something secret she told him? No, she couldn’t think that, he would never! He decided she was joking, and relaxed a bit, but then she made her fairly hasty exit, barely giving him time to say good-bye himself. Huh. It didn’t make much sense. It wasn’t like she didn’t get along with Naire or his sister or Vin, as far as he knew. His tongue poked out from between his lips, a sure sign that he was thinking hard about the conundrum of his friend’s behavior.

With his teaspoon-sized attention span, Lyle didn’t have much of a chance of figuring it out with two of his best friends approaching, along with Myra, who Lyle actually found sort of intimidating, what with her being smart, and better than him at Quodpot, and a girl. ”Ohheyguys!” He said the words so fast that they sort of bled together, and even though they were nearly upon him, he darted forward to meet them, beaming. ”I was looking for you!” he exclaimed to Naire. Fortunately, they were outdoors… otherwise someone might have had to tell him to use his indoors voice. His eyes flicked from Naire to Myra to Vin, and his cheeks grew just a bit scarlet. Skip and Scamp poked their heads out of his sleeves, sensing something was up, but then quickly engaged in a tactical withdrawal when they spotted Kaplan.

Justin Hardy – Totally Not a Jerk

”Well, you are the most complicated guy I know,” he replied to Flint with a brand of scathing dryness that the other boy would have no trouble interpreting. More or less, it said this: You’re getting off easy, boy-o, because I’m actually a little irked about the sudden cancellation and tonight's disappearing but I know you would only do it for good reason, and if you don’t want me to ruin you in front of these two girls, you’d very much better come clean before we go to bed. In a nutshell. Bliss and Summer would likely be unaware of the subtext of the tone of voice; he was a snarky bastard almost constantly, but rarely employed it with Flint. It would also probably show that Justin, in his own contrived way, was somewhat hurt by the secrecy.

Just like that, the bit of subtle moodiness passed, and he was grinning, nodding in reply to Summer, offering the Betterbeers. To Teek, he extended his free arm, offering it as a perch if the owl was so inclined. He wasn’t nearly as good at reading animals as he was people, but Cougar tended to do the same thing when he wanted to roost on the Vulpes bean-pole.

When Garrett went to quaff his vial all at once, Justin reached out and slapped him on the hand. ”Ep ep ep ep. Not the intended mode of use.” He shook his head. ”Three drops in anything but milk or orange soda; four if you’re feeling adventurous. I call it Betterbeer.” He quickly glanced between the two of them, always curious about how his branding was working out. He wasn’t about to let Flint drink it all and turn into some kind of werewolf for who-knew-how-long, but he had no qualms at all letting him grow some mutton chops. Flint could take a joke, he knew well. ”You know, you’re entirely too trusting about drinking stuff I give you. For all you know, that was magical date-rape juice.” He grinned enigmatically as he continued. ”Mmm, the musical number went well. The needs-to-get-laid club didn’t seem to approve, but overall, it was a success.”

He spotted Bliss coming towards them and upnodded to her. The plot thickens! His eyes wound up bulging as she bear-hugged him, and if Teek had alit on his arm, he would somehow manage to keep it extended so that the owl didn’t get crushed in the process. ”Woah there, She-Hulk. Happy to see you too.” He returned the embrace, one-armed and not nearly as fearsomely, and then offered her a vial of Betterbeer as well, repeating his instructions, less the four drops part. ”And I don’t know what place you’re referring to. I was out picking flowers.” He said this, of course, despite the conspicuous absence of any flowers.

He eagerly drank in the slight awkwardness of her greeting Flint and then realizing her sister was there. ”Mmmmhmm. Heading back to the common rooms,” he agreed. Again, Flint would no doubt catch the fact that Justin hadn’t mentioned anything about his just happening upon the two of them exiting the library together. ”Oh, Bliss, how was your summer? Not her,” he added, jerking a thumb towards Summer. ”You know. Your break.”

Vance Abernathy – Not Amused

The desire to physically strike Lee was almost overwhelming when he noticed a certain protuberance, but Vance had the sneaking suspicion that physical violence would have the opposite of its intended effect. Pointedly looking anywhere but at Lee, he did his best to maintain a thin smile. Bellona was particularly smug, so he had a feeling no good could come of whatever this was. A gift, she’d said in the hall. She certainly wasn’t being remotely pleasant, so it couldn’t be a token of affection that he’d have to suffer through accepting graciously. He almost wished it was. It would have been an amusing diversion to see Lee and Bellona claw at each other for a while. When she spoke so dismissively of the Beauregard, he thought his wish might very well come true.

Of course, that was before he noticed the rectangular bit of paper in her hand. An envelope. With his family’s seal. His expression didn’t change in the slightest, even as he ground his teeth together. A missive from Nevaeh, most likely, before her… accident. Even more likely, it contained some tidbit of information that didn’t gel with the story he was selling. It was the only possibility he could think of that he actively needed to worry about, but if it was indeed that…

His attention turned to Lee, in the wake of his whisper and her “request” for privacy. ”I need you to await me in my room, please, since apparently discretion abounds tonight.” His tone could scarcely have been drier, on the final phrase. Being dismissed would surely irk the saucy boy, but then of course, Vance had dismissed him to his bedchamber. He put a mental image of Lee rifling through his undergarments aside, pressing his lips into an even tighter smile. ”This shouldn’t take overly long, and then we’ll be able to speak.”

He hadn’t noticed Wahl even before the Concealing Charm; the boy might as well have been furniture, so far as Vance was concerned. With the spell in place, it would have taken a parade of acromantulas streaming toward the dumpy boy’s seat to call Vance’s attention to him. He was waiting now; waiting to see if Lee would go without a fight, and without upsetting Bellona, whom he did not want too upset at the moment. Just enough, actually, to suit his purposes.

His eyes slipped to the potentially dangerous witch. ”You know,” he drawled, slight amusement flickering in his eyes. ”The common room is an interesting choice for a private conversation. They do call it common for a reason.” Let her think he didn’t suspect anything, for now; after her haughtiness, he had to at least make a semblance of putting her in her place, lest he weaken his position if it came to a negotiation. Plus, it would go a long way towards smoothing things over with Lee for him to witness Vance returning a bit of her trademark bitchiness.

Myra & Melvin Magaly

As Vin and Naire took off in boyish conversatioon, Myra relaxed a little. Naire had definitely been about to ask her something about Lee and Vance, but how does one describe a paralyzing fear of another human being without sounding ridiculous? Or was it fear? Myra’s brow furrowed for a moment, but she decided to cast it off. She and Naire could talk later in the commons or something. Besides, she was currently with the two people she felt utterly and completely safe around, her very protective twin brother and the only other guy Myra felt comfortable and secure around.

Melvin half shrugged at Naire's comment about missing the ship, his own form of “you win some you lose some” via body language.

Dude, cut me some slaaackk,” Myra couldn’t help but internally roll her eyes as Vin brought out the “surfer boy” in Naire while she was reprimanding him. Vin just chuckled warmly at Naire’s mimicked pose of Myra right behind her. She turned just after Naire had stopped making fun of her, completely missing the mockery and Vin shared a lopsided and laughing look with Naire. “The year’s only begun. I did get some good shots of what you missed.” Vin and Myra both chuckled at the face Naire pulled, Myra’s soft soprano giggle like bells above the boy’s lower tones. Still giggling she managed, “I hope you’ve got a picture of that face, it’s the epitome of our evening!”

As Naire turned and slow-mo ran in the opposite direction, Vin scooped up Kaplan (who began to purr contentedly despite being upside down) and continued the ruse, pretending to slow-mo run in the other direction, tucking Kaplan under his arm like a football. Myra, who had somehow become utterly lost in the conversation, was unsure what to do with herself and stood silent and awkward between the too of them. As both boys ended seemingly simultaneously, Naire relaxing back to lean on the stairs and Vin readjusting the cat so that he looked more comfortable, Myra shuffled her feet. Vin chucked her under the chin, “What’s up buttercup? Why so serious?” He looked at her, then threw a questiong glance at Naire, “She been like this all night?” Before Naire could answer Myra just smiled in her dainty way and shook her head, “I’m fine, you two are the odd ones. Antics in the hallways? Really.” Her mock disapproval was ignored by the boys. Vin grabbed Myra, pulling her under his shoulder in a side hug, “Ah sis, I love you.” He kissed her temple, then followed Naire’s gaze as he focused over the twins’ shoulders. Nonchalantly glancing back he smiled cooly and set Kaplan back down as Lyle sauntered toward them

Myra’s smile dropped to that of a polite acquaintance, but Vin clapped him on the shoulder when he arrived, bringing him into the group, “What it do man? How was your summer?” Myra moved to the other side of Vin, to stand between him and Naire and tried her hardest not to fidget with her shoulder bag, a little nervous as the not as familiar male entered the group. “Hi Lyle,” she said in her mellifluous
way. Kaplan intertwined around her ankles.

The large grandfather clock in the hallway chimed at them and Myra bit her lip, It’s way later than I thought it was! And Near and I still have to figure out the riddle before we can even get into the commons. Glancing around, she found that they were the only ones in the hall. Almost inaudibly she mumbled “Uh, you guys it’s kind of getting late…” but it was too quiet to hear over Lyle's excited, "Ohheyguys!" Vin chuckled, and ignored the chiming, “Done any good work towards liberating the elves? I was talking to a witch I met over the summer about it. She was really nice and is a part of some… insert whatever elf saving acronym here. Anyway, I name dropped for ya, she said she’d be in touch. I think her name was… Monika something.” He had a relaxed smile for Lyle, scratching Skip’s head as he was the closer ferret. “Oh, and do Near and I have a story for you to put in The Scrivener.” He winked conspiratorially at Naire. "I was looking for you!" Vin smoothly turned with Lyle to Naire, interested.

Myra, who had gone silent and was blushing slightly, shifted a tiny bit, unsure whether to stay and chat with the boys (who she knew could be at it way past curfew) or get inside. She’d probably end up breaking curfew a lot this year, as she always ended up doing. The one rule she was less conscious of breaking because her love of Quodpot prevailed and she could only ever practice at night, when no one was around and her homework was done. She spared a glance at the hall headed toward the Vulpes Commons.

#, as written by Skwidge
Naire Harth

Naire shrugged, giving up the battle as soon as it started. "Yeah, guess so." He spoke to Melvin, toning in to him missing the ship. His face scrunched up as he frowned. "For your information, I keep myself out of almost all of my pictures. Besides, my faces are only reserved for my friends." With a resolute nod, he stretched fleetingly, his feet shuffling against the floor as he shook his head.

"Nah, I haven't been with her all night, so I don't particularly know. But mainly she's been a good little girl." As he watched Vin pull Myra to himself in a display of affection, Naire cocked his head, a huge grin sprawled across his face, one eyebrow cocked as he splayed his arms out wide. "Yeah, I love ya too, Myra." He then made a move forward to hug her, but then chuckled, putting his hands back in his pockets and leaning once more against the railing.

Naire took a split second to watch Lloyd move past the small group up the stairs. Something seemed slightly off with her, but he didn't linger on it for long. Lyle was demanding his attention as of now.

"Yeah, what'd our little scribe dig up over the months of absence?" Chopstick chirped, hopping onto Naire's shoulder and peering over at Myra with his large eyes before tilting his gaze elsewhere. Particularly up at the stairs to the common rooms. The avian watched the slim silhouette of Lloyd disappear behind the rest of the staircase.

The bird drawled out another hoot, jabbing at Naire's ear. "Yow! Ya little thing." He exhaled at the owl as he flickered from the boy's figure and up the stairs. "Looks like Chopstick is pretty ready for bed." He commented before listening to the others. Almost as soon as he said it, the large clock began to toll, but he stayed to finish their little run in.

Naire chuckled, nodding in agreement to Vin's comment on their little story. "Oh, have you now? Need pictures already? Like I said, give me a wee bit of slack. It's only the beginning of the year!" He flailed his arms in exasperation, then hinted on a smile to show he was kidding. "But really, it is the first day, and I wish not to get in trouble. Lyle, it'll probably have to wait till the morrow, forgive my absence." He grinned again, and took Myra by the elbow. "Night guys."

And with that, he practically dragged Myra along with a short wave to the other two guys, quickly scaling the stones. Once they were out of earshot, he poked her in the side. "Lyle doesn't bite, ya'know." He tsked at her disapprovingly.

Lloyd Vrancing

Lloyd silently hopped from step to step, Dorremoon sharing in her voice and the feline's gaze fixed ahead of her. The torches flickered in the darkness, lighting the way sparsely for the straggling students of the first night.

There was a soft thunk every four steps by the violin case at her thighs, supported by her right hand, her left softly clutching the railings to support herself. She was lost in her thoughts as her figure listlessly continued the ascension. It was no more than going through the motions, having almost little to no realization of doing the actions. And where were her thoughts based? On her relations of course.

She was trying to figure out how she could possibly grow a bit closer to the people she knew while still staying relatively comfortable and herself, but mainly they were on Lyle. Of course they were simply friends, and he didn't show anything other than that, but it was still difficult deciding on what to do about it.

In all honesty, she just wanted this day to be over. Now, she really was excited to be back, but it was probably just the ride over that was making her tired. Not to mention her very uncouth run in with Lyle. Lloyd's thoughts returned to how he had reacted, yet struggled to defend the theory it might have just been chance at the way he reacted.

Lloyd settled that she'd just have to find a new place to practice, further away from the castle. Perhaps she could find a place in the cliffs, like when she went hiking. That'd be ideal for certain. A soft sigh escaped her lips, and then Naire's owl hooted, surprising her. She nearly fell down a few stairs from the response, and the small bird alighted on her violin case, which was then brought to the front of Lloyd's being. "Chopstick." She muttered, remembering the name. That would probably mean that Naire himself was heading up soon. All the more reason to make it to the Ferre painting.

After shaking the case a couple times in attempt to upset the owl's balance, Lloyd finally huffed, stamping her foot on the ground and overturning the case softly. The owl seemed to spill from the object, and flickered off. She sighed with relief, and then walked the final distance with Dorremoon to the common room, whispering the password quietly, and then she slipped inside, heading to bed.

#, as written by throne
Lyle Brightham – Even More Confused!

”Hullo, Myra!” He beamed at her a little shyly, which was… sort of interesting to behold.

Vin’s presence always had an effect on Lyle. Sometimes, most of the time actually, it was almost calming. The other boy’s very zen attitude helped to balance out Lyle’s often overbearing spunkiness. Tonight, though, after months of not seeing his friend, he couldn’t be anything but wildly enthused. ”Yeah actually, I did! I got to meet a free House Elf named Sprogget, and he even let me interview him. It was so interesting, and I’m definitely running it. Maybe I’ll send a copy to Monika if we start writing each other, I’d like that.” That was Lyle; already friends with a girl he’d probably never meet.

He absolutely perked up at the mention of a potential story. ”Oh yeah?” A team of destriers could not have dragged Lyle’s attention away from them at that moment. It was the one loophole in what was probably an undiagnosed case of ADHD; if it involved a story or a cause, Lyle’s latched on like a pitbull, refusing to let go. His eyes darted between Melvin and Naire as he waited for one or the other to spill.

Instead, Naire wound up taking what he said the wrong way, only Lyle was pretty sure that he was only kidding (behavioral cues sometimes eluded him, when they were subtle), then wound up wishing him a goodnight. ”I… just wanted to say hi because I missed you at dinner,” he said softly, sounding rather crestfallen, in fact. ”Good night Naire. Good night Myra.”

Alright. Being mostly brushed off by Lloyd, he could handle. After all, she was a girl, and girls were mysterious and sort of scary sometimes, and he seldom found that anything they did made sense. But when the same thing pretty much happened with Naire, who he thought of as his best mate… well… Lyle wasn’t at all sure what to make of it. Had he done something wrong? Was there something gross stuck in his teeth? He discretely wormed his tongue along them, except it wasn’t really so discrete and probably just wound up looking very strange to anyone who happened to notice it. He didn’t find anything, so he was at a bit of a loss to figure out what exactly was going on.

He looked to Vin for guidance. Vin was good for that. The uncertainty in Lyle’s young eyes was plain to see. ”Did I… do something wrong?” he asked, on the verge of being actually upset. Of course, Vin didn’t know that Lloyd had sped off as well, so it might not make much sense that Lyle was taking it so seriously. He was probably overreacting anyway, but then again, Lyle wasn’t so good at just reacting. His energy usually wound up undeniably optimistic, but when he did find himself moving toward despair, the results were no less manic. Worrying his lip, he waited for the advice he knew would set everything aright once more.

Vance Abernathy – He May In Fact Have a Soul

Vance was indescribably relieved when Lee left without a fight. That left him to focus every mote of his self-control on not laughing at Bellona while he slowly strangled the life out of her. Could she really be this inept? I’ve been overestimating this girl for years. It was everything he could do not to simply stare at her slack-jawed while she enacted her buzzing spell. An appropriate lecture regarding discretion immediately wrote itself up in his mind. People might not know what was being said, but they did know that something was, and that it was either important or incriminating since it was being hidden away beyond a curtain of white noise. With the number of nosey meddlers running around the school, almost anyone bearing witness to this little scene meant that by breakfast half the student body would be aware of a clandestine conversation that had occurred between Vance and Bellona.

Then, impossibly, it got even worse. He recognized his grandfather’s handwriting straight off. His gloved hand curled into a fist reflexively, and his eyes danced across the parchment as he quickly read the missive. When he was through, he released a breath that had somehow become pent up in his lungs. Bellona was looking at him, almost eagerly, and she would likely be disappointed by the reaction she’d been waiting for. Aside from his initial tension, he didn’t even look startled, and it wasn’t even because he was forcing himself to remain composed. The instant he’d read the flattery, and particularly after reading the end of it, he knew he had very little to fear from Bellona or this letter.

It was little more than his grandfather making a threat, proving a point. If he was capable of communicating with Bellona, he was just as capable of communicating with more savvy followers who were already in place at the school. He’d likely only chosen Bellona because he didn’t want to reveal any of those operatives… and if he were indeed planning to recruit Bellona, he could gladly have her after this display, and Vance wouldn’t even break a sweat. No doubt he’d expected exactly what she’d gone and done, which was exactly what he’d wanted: for her to show the letter to Vance.

He shifted on his overstuffed chair, leaning forward a bit and making direct eye contact with her. His movements were obvious, intended to highlight how very serious he was about to be.

”Bellona,” he intoned. His voice was a glacial river, smooth and cold. It was a tone that he seldom used, so seldom that it might well be the actual timbre of his voice, the one that came naturally when he wasn’t maintaining his courtliness. ”We are not friends, but imagine for the duration of what I am about to say that we are, and heed my advice.” He gave her a half-second to consider that before continuing. With his leaning forward, he’d adjusted his arms a bit, bringing his mechanical hand close to his wand. Just in case.

”This letter was a test which you have failed. It instructs you not to speak of it, and yet here we are. It even expresses doubt in me, and yet, I am the one you’re sharing it with. If you hope to become my grandfather’s pawn, you’ll need to work on your obedience.” He wasn’t done.

”Furthermore, in the event that you are ever again contacted by a powerful individual who you have little knowledge of and you aren’t sure what to make of it… take that as a sign that you are not ready to move in such circles. Or perhaps I’m wrong, and you’re merely excited and eager to share the prestige of being written by a doddering old man who happens to share my surname. I’m afraid that’s even worse, even more indicative of how unprepared you are for what replying to that letter would entail.”

He sat back again, to signify that he was for the most part finished, and also to bright his hand right atop the pocket his wand was concealed in. ”Burn the letter and forget that you ever read it, Bellona. If I were your friend, that is what I would tell you. I do not particularly care if I’m being cruel, but I don’t mean to be. You have little reason to trust me, but if you become more involved with this than you already are, I’m afraid that I can’t be bothered to offer you any more protection than this warning.”

He rose to his full height smoothly, drawing his wand but doing nothing with it, just yet. ”Burn the letter, Bellona. That instruction you should very much follow.”

Myra Magaly

Myra hid a smile for the ever-decisive little owl. She loved Chopstick almost as much as she loved Kaplan, and when he took off up the stairs towards the commons, she was more than grateful. Vin had prompted Lyle into an excited and quick narrative about a house-elf that Myra only half-followed as she picked up Kaplan, rubbing him behind the ears for comfort.

Oh, have you now? Need pictures already? Like I said, give me a wee bit of slack. It’s only the beginning of the year!” Naire’s honest nature made it hard to pick out when he was joking on occasion, but Myra knew he was now and giggled quietly to herself. She stopped, though, as she watched Lyle’s face go from excited to slightly crestfallen. Poor thing, he must not have picked up on it. She wanted to pipe in and explain that Vin and she had just been talking about pictures and giving Near hell, but she wasn’t really able to make any audible sound come out. Instead, she just chewed on her cheek in small concern toward Lyle.

But really, it is the first day, and I wish not to get in trouble. Lyle, it’ll probably have to wait till the morrow, forgive my absence.” Myra’s whole body radiated warmth as Near swooped her arm under his and pulled her around and up the stairs, escorting her back to the Vulpes commons. Elated, she let Kaplan drop softly to his feet next to her, tossing an apologetic but loving smile over her shoulder to her twin and Lyle, calling quietly, “Have a good night gentlemen!” She relaxed into Naire’s arm, whispering, “You are my absolute hero!”

They walked arm in arm in silence for a moment when Naire spoke up, “Lyle doesn’t bite, ya’know.” She rolled her eyes and half-smirked half-smiled at his pointing out of her nerves. Sighing, she looked over at him, “I know, Near, but I can’t help it. Guys make me nervous.” She playfully pinched his arm. “I mean, Lyle’s my brother’s favorite, but he’s a guy, so…” She mocked a zipper across her mouth and ‘locked’ it, throwing the key down the hall. “It’s like I can’t find my voice sometimes, does that make sense?”

When they had finally climbed all of the steps into the tall tower were the Vulpes dorms were, she turned to him “Who’s turn is it this time?” Myra asked with a grin, referencing their long-standing tradition of trading off who would guess the riddle to get in. It changed weekly, so they both always got to be mentally stimulated. As they turned onto the hidden hall where the entryway came into view they reached the painting of the scholar. He looked up and peered at them squinting. “Ah, the Boy with the Camera and the Bookworm. How are we this year?” His gravely voice came out and Myra knew it had been a while since the last Vulpes’ had entered the Commons, he’d obviously been studing a while. “We’re well, Didimus, have you had a fine summer?” She answered for the both of them.

Vin Magaly

Good ol’ Lyle, Vin thought to himself as his bubbly partner in crime started rambling. He was such good energy, it was difficult for Vin not to smile around him. Yep, definitely the yin to my yang. While Lyle could cause more excitement in Vin, and Vin could coax the calm out of Lyle, it seemed tonight they were both on their own tracks. Vin stuffed his hands in pockets and leaned back on the wall. Enjoying the company, he watched and listened for a bit.

Vin’s chuckle rumbled in his chest more than flowed out as he let Naire’s photos joke set in. Noticing Myra’s concerned look to Lyle he turned and saw his buddy hadn’t really gotten it, and softly punched him on the arm. “Lighten up, Near’s just giving you hell.” Vin winked, emphasizing that all was in good fun. Vin then turned and smiled cooly as Naire excused himself and tugged Myra with him. He waved lovingly at his sister as she shot a glance back. “Night-o guys, sleep like rocks,” he drawled out.

I… just wanted to say hi because I missed you at dinner. Good night Naire. Good night Myra.” Vin looked side-long at Lyle, he could hear more than see or feel the small despair that his pal was feeling. Looking after Naire and Myra one last time he grabbed his bag off the ground again and chucked it over his shoulder. “We should probably head back to Ferre anyhow.” He scratched Scamp now, who had poked his head out of the same area Skip had been. “Hey buddy. Sorry, didn’t mean to ignore.” Then Vin turned and headed down the hall toward Ferre.

After a step or two of not hearing Lyle either speak or move, Vin turned back around, non-chalantly leaning against the wall again, one foot crossed over the other. “What up, bra?”

“[b]Did I… do something wrong?” Vin’s eyebrows creased into a small frown as he saw how upset his friend had become, seemingly out of nowhere. Quickly going over events in his mind, Vin remembered Lloyd passing and leaving Lyle with them, then how Lyle’d asked for Naire almost immediately, and then (light bulb) Naire left almost as quickly. Besides Lyle always being awkward around Vin’s twin, he was confident he knew exactly what had happened in Lyle’s mind.

“Dude, don’t sweat it. It’s the first night back and you know how Myra is, always the stickler for curfews. Near probably just picked up on that and was doing her a solid, y’know? Getting the girl to bed before she got all antsy and weirded out.” Lyle had begun worrying his lip. “Alright, slow that mind down.” Vin moved forward and placed his hands on Lyle’s shoulders, “Lloyd’s an odd one, she probs just forgot her meddy’s today, and Naire definitely didn’t mean to give you the cold shoulder. You know him better than that, he wouldn’t ever do that to you, ya dig?” Vin gave Lyle an extremely warm and reassuring smile, then threw his left arm around Lyle’s shoulders and started maneuvering them down the hall toward Ferre. “Let’s just get some shut eye.”

#, as written by throne
Lyle Brightham – Now Feeling Silly

Sometimes, Lyle felt like he didn’t appreciate Vin enough, which led to spurts of him appreciating him too much, and then the whole cycle would just start anew. Vin was always there for him- helping him understand when Naire was only joking, for instance, or providing a calm sounding board for some of his more frenetic and discombobulated ideas. Right about then, he couldn’t appreciate the other teenager more.

Even the ferrets liked Vin. They were fickle creatures, often torturing Lyle for what seemed like the sheer ferrety joy of it, but even if it was furtive, they always seemed to come out to play when he was around. Scamp ducked back into Lyle’s robes shortly after the scritching. For his part, Lyle shuffled along after Vin toward the common room. It really was best to just call it a night.

Both ferrets scurried lower when a pair of hands were suddenly resting on Lyle’s shoulders, helping to ground him. He slowly looked up at his friend, since they were basically face-to-face, and listened to the other boy. Alright, slow that mind down. It wasn’t until he heard the words that he consciously realized how all over the place his thoughts were. It was a little like people who existed in a perpetual state of messiness but knew, somehow, where everything was. The difference was that Lyle didn’t quite know where everything was. He had to stumble around a bit, dishevel things even further, in order to find the thoughts he was looking for sometimes amidst the dross.

Vin was right, of course. Well, not about Lloyd taking medicine, at least he didn’t know if she did. Maybe that was the secret she might have alluded to earlier? He had to force himself back on track. People did kind of consider Lloyd odd, but to Lyle, she was just Lloyd. He had no right to go around calling anyone odd, strange, or weird after all. And he was even more right about Naire. At least, Lyle hopes he was. If anyone other than Vin had said it, he’d still be worried, but then…

Well, it was really hard to worry when Vin slung an arm around his narrow shoulders. Lyle felt better immediately. ”I dig,” he replied. He’d had a hard time understanding Vin for a while, but he had most of the surfer dialect under his belt by now. He sort of relaxed against Vin until the instant he realized he was doing it, then straightened up abruptly in the way that fifteen year old boys often do when they realize they’re taking comfort in the physical proximity of close male friends. ”Everything will look brighter in the morning,” he added, reaching up to rub at his neck.

His thoughts still turned to Lloyd and Naire and Myra, but his fears of somehow disappointing or upsetting them were mostly allayed. When his mind turned to Myra again, his head suddenly whipped around so that he could look at Vin as they marched toward the dorms. ”Say, do you think your sister might help me practice for Quodpot try-outs? I’m trying out this year, and she’s so good, I’d be a shoe-in if she helped me. Could you maybe ask her? I’d owe you ten.” It was something of a catch-phrase for the boy, similar to I’d owe you one only ten times more significant. If anyone ever decided to cash in on those easily offered favors, Lyle would probably spend the rest of his life fulfilling the hundreds or thousands that he’d agreed to owe his friends over the last few years.

Vance Abernathy – Marshaling the Troops

No one could say he hadn’t tried. Well, thanks to her sonic obfuscation, everyone could, actually, but more likely they’d be much more interested in gossiping and theorizing over what the conversation had entailed. Did Bellona really think she had what it took to uncover a conspiracy? Vance didn’t, but more power to her if she did. She’d think he was on his grandfather’s side most likely, or even if she sussed out that he wasn’t, she obviously had no idea what to do. He could only hope that the girl had enough sense not to start pawing around for the truth in the open. He didn’t need more savvy players joining the game just yet, at least, not on terms that he hadn’t dictated.

A curious expression came to Vance’s features when Bellona drew close and lifted his arm, removing the dragon-skin glove to reveal the gleaming mechanical hand. It was fantastic, really. As much as he hated the thing, hated being an amputee, it really was an incredible device. Bands of metal provided a tight skeleton, holding in a plethora of gears and clockwork that made the contraption act very convincingly like a hand. It was stronger than any normal hand had a right to be, and he found himself wondering exactly how long it would take to crimp Bellona’s windpipe like a plastic drinking straw with the shiny apparatus.

The only reason he didn’t strike her was the fact that he wasn’t prepared to explain why he had, or to make her disappear utterly. A sickly smile curled to life on his lips as she touched him. At least it was only on the metal. If it had been his actual skin, he might begin wretching. Bellona had sank so immeasurably in his eyes tonight that he couldn’t even begin to wonder how many other idiocies he had overlooked due to her family name over the years.

”You’re right of course, Bellona. You’re not as stupid as the other girls.” Let her think he was paying her a compliment; in truth, she’d just proven to him she was vastly stupider than the worst of them. ”Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” She dispelled the aura of buzzing and then stalked off. Vance tucked his glove under his left arm and raised his wand.

”Accio letter,” he said simply, lazily, the tip of his wand directed at Bellona. When the parchment bearing his family seal soared toward him, he snatched it neatly from the air and took a few strides toward the fireplace. He balled it up and tossed it directly into the flames, turning to regard Bellona with the most pleasant manufactured smile he could come up with. Yes, he’d wanted her to forget it all and burn it… but more than anything, he’d wanted that bit of physical evidence that something was afoot here at Magus Grex destroyed.

With that, he turned and made his way to his quarters to deal with Lee. He pulled his glove back on as he went, turning his mind toward what he’d say to the younger Arietem. His internal speech-writing was swiftly silenced when he came upon the scene in his bedchamber.

The mess was not Vance’s doing. He was reasonably sure that if Lee was going to rifle through his things, he would have set everything right afterward to avoid Vance’s inevitable wrath. His eyes slipped here and there, registering the results of what seemed to be a small whirlwind centered on his personal effects.

Another message from his grandfather? Or had the culprit actually been looking for something? Perhaps his grandfather had managed to stash some artifact or direction in his luggage, letting him smuggle it into the school for one of his followers. It had to be someone in Arietem, or possibly someone an Arietem was willing to share the password with. He tried to call to mind the faces at the table over dinner, to determine who had been missing, but he hadn’t been paying enough attention to the banal chit-chat. Stupid, he told himself. He’d be more careful now. Much more careful.

”Get your animals off my bed,” he said curtly. Vance had experienced a twinge of helplessness, beholding the disarray in the room, and it quickly transformed into cold rage. There was a reason Vance had no pet of his own; he could care less for creatures, magical or otherwise, and the idea of the dogs musking up his bed was only compounding his momentary anger.

He didn’t clean up just yet. Once Lee was gone, he’d go over the mess like it was a crime scene, looking for clues of who might be behind it. For now, he had to regain control so that he could set Lee to purpose. The boy would likely have worked out by then that Vance was surprised by the state of his room, but Vance forestalled any questions by folding his arms over his chest and regarding Lee thoughtfully.

”What I need from you, Lee,” he quietly said, continuing the earlier conversation as if there hadn’t been an intermission where Bellona attempted to wring the truth from him. ”Is loyalty. I need unfailing loyalty. I need a second set of eyes in this school to keep an eye on me. To notice jf someone stares too long, or is following me in a dark corridor, or anything else out of the ordinary.” He drew closer, and provided that the dogs were in fact off the bed, sat on the edge of it angled to face Lee.

”Can I trust you in that fashion, Lee? I know that you’ll be wondering why, but I can’t tell you more until I know more. Suffice it to say that I am in danger, and know that agreeing to help me may endanger you as well.” He took a deliberate pause, simply letting his gaze bore into Lee. ”I don’t command this of you, but I ask it, because I have to know that you’ll do everything that you can to aid me in the coming year.”

He left it at that, watching Lee carefully. He was taking a risk, he knew, but a small one. Lee’s infatuation was as much a tool as a wand. If he wielded it correctly, he could accomplish much.

#, as written by Skwidge
Teiver Morn

Teiver looked up from the mess of papers on the table before her as she heard him clear his throat. "I have to admit, studying isn't really my thing, so I'm just going to take off. Nice hanging out with you..." As he turned to leave, she had almost wanted to go over to him and stop him, which was incredibly strange, and not to mention stupid. She should just be relieved that he was finally off of her back.

So instead, she just turned back to the table, a smirk playing on her lips. "Yeah, too bad this isn't for studying." She muttered to herself, Garrison looking up at her. 'He's quite annoying, if you ask me.' Teiver rolled her eyes. "You're still in trouble. I mean seriously, what kind of cat are you? Couldn't have even warned me about him coming. You did save yourself with Herve though...." She grumbled towards the cat, rolling her eyes.

'Well, I knew you had a liking towards him, so I decided 'hey, why not?' Immediately her figure stiffened, and her cheeks warmed gently. "That's a- not true." She immediately tilted her head back down, shielding her eyes with her hair as she continued flipping through the pages. "So you decided that it'd be worth it to completely risk losing everything I've been working for for the past five years for one little encounter?" Her voice was lowered and a bit rough as she spoke.

Teiver finally found what she was looking for, holding them up to a candle to make sure. Ah, finally. Star charts for this month. Thinking leniently, she opened up the satchel at her hip, carefully rolling the papers and then fitting them in. Damn him, he successfully completely screwed me over. It's what, five minutes until curfew, and I'm here out in the open. Maybe Gar was right about just getting him out of the area. Ugh, whatever. I did get a head start on these. Once more, her gaze flickered down to the bag where she had just stored the charts.

Silently and almost in brooding, Teiver left the tower room, quickly and silently descending the steps with Garrison following her at the heels. She stopped at the bottom, taking a quick look around and seeing a few other students still talking. She basically just ignored them, making a controlled dash towards the common tower and the stairs up.

She tilted her head to the side slightly, catching sight of that Vin kid and Lyle, but she didn't give them another thought as she continued up.

Naire Harth

“You are my absolute hero!” A chuckle escaped his lips, and he smiled softly at Myra. "Yeah, sure." However, she continued on to explain herself. "Guys make me nervous.” Naire froze, a hurt look on his face. He made a shocked gasp, over-exaggerating a slow-mo hand motion to his mouth. "You mean I make you-" He was cut off though, and he smirked with another playful smile.

"It's like I can't find my voice, does that make sense?" He shrugged, looking up as Chopstick returned to his person. "Yeah, I guess so." He flashed her a quick nod. The two then finally made their way to the Vulpes Common House Painting, and he made a theatrical bow of greeting. "We are indeed well. It's good to see you again, Didimus." The old scholar in the painting merely squinted at the two. "I'll take the first one, Myra." He leaned over to her, whispering close to her ear.

"I had plenty of time for my studying, and I came across a few new discoveries, if you'd care to hear about them." You would have expected a smile from him then, but his features remained tired and stern. "Maybe another time, Didimus. We only have a few minutes until curfew. If you would excuse the rude faux pas." The man in the painting just shrugged, nodding. His weathered hands picked up a scroll, pulling the bottom down and scanning over the riddle of the week. He cleared his throat before beginning to speak.

"Think of words ending in -GRY. Angry and hungry are two of them. There are only three words in the English language. What is the third word? The word is something that everyone uses every day. If you have listened carefully, I have already told you what it is."

Naire blinked, carefully going back over what the Scholar had said. "-GRY, huh?" He became silent as he began to think. Finally, he came up with what he thought was a suitable answer. "Isn't it-" However, he was cut off by an entirely new voice.

Teiver had finally made it up the stairs, and was quickly walking towards the group. She had overheard the riddle, and taken only a minute to piece it out while Naire was thinking. She simply walked past the two, Garrison still following after her. However, he paused to look at Kaplan, flicking his ear in greeting before refocusing on Teiver. "Language." She mumbled, slipping inside of the Common Rooms without breaking her stride.

Naire had a dumbfounded look on his face, and leaned over with his back, his index finger raised, mouth open, and his eye twitching. "Kah, I was going to say that... darnit Teiver." He grumbled, straightening back up. Teiver smirked slightly at the right tip of her lips before heading straight up to the girl's dormitory without a single word.

Naire let out an exasperated breath, and then shrugged, sweeping his arm towards the painting. "Well, after you then."

Vin Magaly

Vin's arm stayed comfortably relaxed around Lyle's shoulder as they made their way towards the Commons tower. He smiled lazily to himself as he felt Lyle relax, then straighten again. Vin'd never been one to be weirded out by proximity with other males, he was too comfortable and carefree in his own skin, but he was used to this reaction from friends when he embraced them, male and female alike, come to think of it. As they rounded the corner and the 4 paintings came into view, Lyle snapped his head around and looked at him. Had Vin been anyone else he may have been startled, but as it was, he just arched a nonchalant eyebrow at Lyle in a question.

Say, do you think your sister might help me practice for Quodpot try-outs? I’m trying out this year, and she’s so good, I’d be a shoe-in if she helped me. Could you maybe ask her? I’d owe you ten.” Vin chewed on his cheek a moment, then whispered the password to the proper door. After waiting for Lyle to walk in, Vin cocked his head to the side, considering what Myra's answer might be. She tended to be rather secretive about her self-induced Quodpot practices and he'd only ever seen her play against their father. According to Daddi-o, she was pretty darn good. "Y'know, I have no clue. I didn't realize you knew Myra was good at the game. She usually keeps that pretty secret." He paused momentarily, and made his decision. Deciding he'd have some fun with his best friend first, he squinted at Lyle, "Wish I were better at it, I'd help ya out. As it is..." Vin shrugged, then smiled warmly as his friend's face grew a tiny bit concerned again. "Dontcha worry, I'll ask her. Just givin' ya hell. She'll get you all up to snuff. Shy Sis won't say no to me," He smiled confidently and patted Lyle's shoulder. "Let's catch some z's, eh? I wanna get up with the surf tomorrow." And with that Vin headed off to his dorm room, changed in his relaxed way, then crawled in to sleep.

Myra Magaly

"I'll take the first one, Myra." Naire leaned over to Myra, whispering close to her ear. Her shoulder and ear were attracted to each other involuntarily and she stifled a giggle as his breath tickled her neck, shooting goose bumps down her arm. She gave him a jokingly stern look, then nodded toward the painting, "Okay."

Myra nodded in agreeance with Naire as he politely repelled another offer of one of Didimus' extremely long stories, smiling softly. He's so good at that, she thought to herself suddenly, I can't ever deflect anyone. I can't even count the amount of times I've been stuck talking to Marcy the Mercenary on the fourth floor about her cavorts... And she's a painting! She looked at Naire admiringly, she really had missed her best friend dearly that summer. Didimus read off the week's riddle and her man began to race. She saw Naire open his mouth as he was about to hazard an answer when Teiver showed up, seemingly out of nowhere, whispered "Language," and slinked in the door. Ah, yes. That makes sense. How simple! Myra thought to herself. Myra smiled as she watched the two cats have a momentary, silent conversation. Kaplan turning his head serenely to Teiver's cat as he paused and looked at him. With a smile in her heart she bent and picked up Kaplan, snuggling him to her neck.

"Well, after you then." Myra smiled in thanks and stepped into the Vulpes commons. Looking around she was suddenly overcome with exhaustion. It had been a long day for the poor shy girl, and the yawn that struck her was large. "On that note, I guess it's bedtime," she attempted to say through the yawn. Grabbing Naire's hand with her free one, she squeezed it. "Good night, Near. I'll save you a seat at breakfast."

She turned and made her way into the girls rooms. Quickly she got undressed and readied herself for bed. After she crawled in, Kaplan jumped up and began purring immediately, curling into the C curve she made laying on her side. Scratching him behind the ears she whispered, "Not too bad for the start of the year, eh kid?"

#, as written by throne
Lyle Brightham – Up and Attem!

There were a few fringe benefits to being a never-ending and spastic source of energy, chief among them the ability to rise before the sun and get a start on his day. Lyle had slept well, and sleep had washed away the misgivings of the prior evening. He was smiling as he crept about the room so as not to wake anyone, collecting his things and then heading to the washroom to take care of showering, brushing his teeth, and getting dressed in a pair of cargo shorts, a t-shirt with a monkey on it, and then of course his robes to top it all off. He’d of course forgotten his notepad, which was akin to forgetting his left arm, and scampered back up to the dorm to retrieve it. Thinking better of it, he scribbled off a note, which he left on Vin’s nightstand.

Feeling better, thanks so much. I’ll see you at class! – Lyle

As if the near-illegible hand-writing could have been anyone else’s. It was a wonder even he could read it, and it wasn’t at all by design, though people often remarked that he probably did it so that no one could make any sense of his notes and poach his stories.

He stopped by the ferret cage as well, peering into it. Skip was sleeping, but Scamp scurried up the felt-covered scaffolding. Lyle poked his nose into one of the gaps in the thin metal bars, grinning as the ferret nuzzled its own small wet nose against his. "Sorry buddy," he whispered. "But you've gotta stay put for now. I'll be back after lunch."

His stories. That was what had him bouncing down the stairs two and three at a time into the common room. He nearly plowed into a third year boy whose nose was all bandaged up. Just managing to pull up short of a collision, Lyle furrowed up his features in a strange combination of worry and fascination. ”Hey Tommy, what happened to you?” The sleepy looking boy frowned, struggling to keep up with Lyle’s rapid patter. ”Oh, I tripped on my way up the stairs before. Slept in the infirmary, need to get cleaned up before breakfast. But did you hear about that Demetrio guy?”

Demetrius was a friend, but then, almost everyone was a friend in Lyle’s mind. He really did like the Mexican wizard though, he was kind of solemn but intensely interesting. ”No, I didn’t hear anything at all, what happened? Is he okay?”

Tommy shrugged his small shoulders. ”Dunno really, but, I heard the nurse say something about stupid little boys trying to wrestle with trolls, so, I guess it probably has to do with trolls. Anyway, nice to see you Lyle.” The younger boy smiled tiredly and wandered off, leaving Lyle wild-eyed in anticipation. Trolls! He’d never actually seen one, only read about them or learned about them in class, and he’d never heard about them being anywhere near the school. If Demetrio had encountered one, that would definitely be newsworthy. Oh, and his friend was hurt, and he should probably check in on him and wish him well. Yes, definitely!

Bolts of lightning would have been shamed by Lyle’s exit from the Ferre student dorms. His sneaker-clad feet made a rapid pounding on the stone of the corridor floor as he zipped off at a dead run toward the infirmary. It was quite a sight, except that most people were still asleep, so no one saw it… well, maybe someone did, but Lyle was far too intent on getting the scoop (and checking in on Demetrio!) to notice anyone, save for Old Wicks, whose shouted invective against running in the halls was only answered by a quickly piped, high-pitched ”Sorry!” before Lyle rounded the corner and ran on.

He was quite disheveled and thoroughly out of breath when he finally made it to the infirmary. He puffed out a good-morning to the witch who was far more interested in her morning coffee than Lyle’s unexpected appearance and then scurried on in search of Demetrio. When he found the other boy’s bed, he heaved a bit of a sigh of relief, and then grabbed a chair and dragged it to his bedside as quietly as he could… which admittedly, in his mixture of exhaustion and excitement, was not nearly as quiet as it could be.

Brimming with anticipation as he was, he couldn’t bring himself to wake poor Demetrio up. Instead, he plunked himself down in the chair, got his notepad and quill out, and set to work on the beginnings of his House Elf Interview article. It was still in the very formative stages, so he was really just putting down ideas, shuffling them around, working out a really smashing title (because a smashing headline was key to the success of any news story, any junior journalist knew that). There he’d be when Demetrio awoke, scrawling away and waiting for him to come to.

Vance Abernathy – Arietem House

Vance awakened slowly. The laziness of Southern summer was still upon him; it would be a few days before his body adjusted to the very different routine of school. Even after the incident, which was how his family had taken to mentioning what had happened to Nevaeh, his mornings at home had been slow-moving and sun-dappled. He hadn’t been sleeping well, and so when he did finally achieve some fitful version of rest, it was late enough that he didn’t roll out of bed before ten o’clock in the morning. He’d take his coffee out onto the porch, letting the eastern sun bathe him as he the porch-swing rocked, and then he’d perform his ablutions before joining his grandmother and possibly his mother for brunch, where he’d still be waking up as he absorbed the latest gossip and helped himself to princely portions of the buttermilk pancakes, grits, sausage, and bacon that the house elves had painstakingly prepared.

Thankfully, he’d managed to nod off early the night before. There was a discombobulated moment where he laid there in bed, snug and warm beneath the duvet, and wasn’t even sure how much of the prior evening had actually occurred. Bellona’s foolishness, Lee’s impertinence, his grandfather’s machinations, so clumsy that he knew there had to be something more to them. Dimly he became aware that it had been reality rather than dream, and so it was that he wrestled his way out from under the covers with an undignified groan.

The chair he’d rested against the door was undisturbed, and his wand was still beneath his pillow. He donned his glove, slipped into a changing robe (tucking his wand into the sash after he cinched it), and then set off for the shower. There were a pair of Quodpot players, theoretical friends of his, teammates and house-mates at the very least, who were apparently washing up after a crack-of-dawn practice session. Any other year, he would have commended them on their initiative and deigned to engage in some small talk about the coming season. Instead, he banished them with a few gruff words, and when they were gone he secured the door to the lavatories. While Vance did embrace modesty and was in the grips of some mild paranoia, neither of those motivations had anything to do with the privacy he required.

He started the shower spray and took care of his oral hygiene, studying his sleep-slackened features in the mirror as he did. It would take a moment for the water to hit the scalding level he preferred, hot enough that it was more like sanitization than simple cleanliness. He disrobed, and then, still watching himself, removed the glove as well.

The glimmering metal of his prosthesis caught the unflattering fluorescent lighting of the boy’s bathroom, throwing a glare into the mirror, which had begun to fog up. Vance used his fleshly hand to wipe the steam away. There was one ritual he’d developed that he couldn’t dispense with, not even here at school. Slowly, very slowly, he brought his left hand to the point where his elbow met the goblin-made arm. He settled his fingers in just the right places, swallowed, and then squeezed gently. He was rewarded with a click, and then the sound of clockwork. The clamps and mechanisms that held it on, that somehow transmitted his will into the device, began to release. When at last they all had, he pulled the thing away and placed it carefully in the sink basin.

It couldn’t be called anything but a stump. The curse Nevaeh had used on him had made a remarkably clean cut, and Vance had of course had the best medical care available with the discretion required. The stump was slightly rounded, magically regrown flesh settled around the ball-like joint in his elbow that had been spared. His eyes fixed on the reflection of it, studying it intently. He couldn’t help but grit his teeth, and turned his emerald eyes on his reflection as a whole.

His broad shoulders. His smooth, sculpted chest. His perfect, tapering abdomen. His features, aristocratic, noble. His hair, golden-blond with just the right amount of curl. And his stump. An unspeakable blemish, something he would allow no one to see, but that he had to see. He had to remind himself what had been taken from him, had to stoke the forge of his own fury.

This is what you are now, Vance Abernathy. You will never again be whole. You will never again be beautiful. And these are the people who will pay for your suffering and the suffering of your sister…

It was a short list, but it would grow. His grandfather. A few other of his cohorts whom Vance had recognized either by voice or a glimpse beneath their cowls. He shuddered when the ache that wasn’t an ache at all came. How could there be pain where there was no arm? It was dull, seemingly radiating through empty air below the stump, but it was real. Phantom sensation. The healers had warned him about it, and it was easy to ignore with prosthetic on, but without it, the feeling turned his stomach.

He immersed himself in the painful heat of the shower, let the driving water sting his skin. His new arm was quite immune to water, but the stump still needed to be washed. It still sweated, and he’d learned the hard way that the resulting smell could be incredibly unpleasant. Showering one handed had presented a few challenges at first, but he was an expert now, quick and methodical, brisk and efficient. He dried the stump first, so that he could reattach his arm and towel off more effectively. Then he re-gloved, re-robed, and returned to his room to get dressed for the day. Black slacks, a crisp white shirt, a matching vest and a brilliant silver tie. Navy and brown were out of the question now that everything needed to be matched to the dragon skin glove. His eyes found a mirror, and he smiled. To the rest of the world, he was still whole. There were two Vance Abernathy’s now, and one of them only existed for a few moments while he showered.

The final touch was his school robes. He slipped his wand, his new wand, still somewhat mysterious and unknown, into the usual pocket and set out. He needed to deal with Lee before breakfast. Appearances needed to be normal, and they wouldn’t if the boy was still hoping for the kiss he’d tried to ransom.

Vance wasn’t about to pimp himself for followers, he’d decided. Kissing Lee would have meant as much to him as any other detestable form of affection, regardless of the gender involved. It would, however, set a dangerous precedent. What else would Lee imagine to ask of him? He was perfectly fine with the school knowing of Lee’s affection for him, but for them to have confirmation of any reciprocation would be a disaster. Lee wouldn’t be able to keep his mouth shut, not about that… so he was in for an early morning dose of the truth.

His confident gait brought him to Lee’s door, and with his real hand, he knocked hard upon it. If he didn’t get an answer, he’d wait a slow count of five before doing it again. After that, Lee’s sluggishness would forfeit his right to mannerly conduct, and Vance would simply enter.

Vin Magaly

The chill salt water sluiced off of Vin's face as he came up from another dive under a wave, his surfboard stabilized beneath him by his hands. Breathing in deeply through his nose, he pushed himself into a sitting position, one leg over either side of the board. Rubbing his face, he let his hands push up and through his hair, slicking it back in the way his mom always told him looked "so handsome!" Smiling he closed his eyes and stretched, soaking in the warmth of the sun as it was beginning to rise. Here is where he felt the most at home. In the waves, with nothing to do and no one to bother him. Keeping his eyes closed, he let his hands drop to swirl the water with his finger tips just slightly.

A swell rolled under him and he let the current lift him a tiny bit and bring him back down. A small but lovingly soft smile crossed his face. That was the ocean: his beautiful love. A fickle beast, she had the power to kill and did more often than many people knew or chose to know, but Vin knew her softer side. The side that sweetly caressed you and held you up, even when you felt as though you were falling. He'd gone "over the falls" more times than could be counted by even an army of mathematicians, but he kept coming back for more.

The next swell he felt more than heard or saw. He felt the current as it pulled away from the beach, swishing him out to sea momentarily. She was preparing to strike and he was ready. Sighing, he knew he'd have to head in soon if he didn't want to miss breakfast. Opening his eyes he saw the swell headed towards him. It would be a good end to his early morning rides. He settled onto his chest again, pulling his legs up onto the board he used his arms to turn himself back towards the shore. Just as the wave was getting near to him he began to paddle with his arms, hard, "swimming" his board toward the beach but being tugged back by the current of the infant stages of the wave. He felt the familiar rush of adrenaline as the swell pulled him up it's face, as the white foam began to grow while the swell reached it's crest and became a wave, crashing over itself. His heart raced a tiny bit as he waited for the moment, where you knew it was now or never, where the board felt just stable enough and the ocean was holding you strong in her delicate and powerful hands.

Now! In one smooth motion, Vin stopped swimming and used his hands to help push himself into a crouched position on the board, then stood. He was elated as he swooped up and down the wave, choosing not to pull any tricks but just to enjoy the ride as far in towards the beach as he could. His heart hammering in excitement and exertion while the muscles in his legs maneuvered the board, the muscles in his abs held him upright and the muscles in his arms helped him to balance. He mentally thanked his body for supporting him so well, being strong and healthy and ensuring that he could do the things he loved to do. He also made sure to send out thankful vibes to whoever or whatever had chosen to bless him with a fully functional body and mind. His breath was coming quickly, the burn in his lungs reminding him that he was alive. The rush was gone all too soon as he felt the familiar upward tug of the wave beginning to close on itself, the tunnel was forming behind him. He let himself be pulled into it momentarily, dragging his fingers along the closer wall of water while enjoying the splashes of color that played through the water from the sunrise. Then, feeling with his board the current that would pull him out he shot the tunnel and rode in front of it for a bit until, finally, almost achingly, he loosened his muscles and dropped from his board into the water.

Letting the wave roll past him, he emerged and breathed in the salty air, shaking his hair out. Pulling himself onto the board, he swam it in towards the shore until he could feel that the ocean floor was close enough for him to walk on. Sliding his board under his left arm, he walked up the shore and headed South to the front doors of the school.

Myra Magaly

Myra woke with a sneeze as Kaplan's whiskers tickled her nose. He was purring and nuzzling her face, which would have been extremely pleasant if it hadn't been for those damn tickly whiskers. Pushing him away from her gently she smiled and whispered, "I'm up, pushy." Kaplan gave her a look and jumped from the bed. Trotting over to his food bowl he sat and waited patiently. She rolled her eyes. Snuggling into bed for a moment longer, she absorbed the warmth of her blankets one last time before sighing quietly and throwing them off. Swinging her legs over the side of her bed, she opened Kaplan's food container, scooped him some dry food, returned the scoop and locked it up again.

Once she was up, she was fully awake, so she got to work. Diligently making her bed, she grabbed her toiletries and made her way to the restroom. Quickly showering and getting ready, applying a small amount of make up and dressing in a simple floral summer dress and kitten heels. Taking one last look at herself in the mirror, she approved of her outfit and hair then returned to the bedroom. Throwing her blue house robe over her arm, she grabbed her book bag and headed for the door. Turning just before she left, she blew Kaplan a kiss, "Stay out of trouble kitty cat!" With that, she quietly made her way through the Commons room. There were a few students moving about, some yawning and stretching, some sipping coffee, some studying already. Myra smiled to herself, her house's "nerd" reputation was well earned. Ducking out past Didimus, she made her way down the stairs towards the great hall.

As she was entering the hallway, something inside of her told her to stop. It was a familiar feeling, this odd out-of-body "knowing." It had been happening to her since before she could remember and there was only one other person in the world who felt it too. It was as though something was pulling her toward the front of the building. Smiling, she turned and started toward the front door of the school. Just as she was getting there, Vin walked in, sopping wet, carrying his surfboard. "Good morning!" She said brightly with an equally luminous smile.

"What up sis!" He smiled at her warmly and moved in for a hug. She backed away quickly in a smoothly serpentine move, shaking her head.

"Nope. You are soaking wet. How was the beach?"

"Bees knees sis; pure nature zen." His smile was large and relaxed, and his eyes were clear. Myra's smile mirrored his own.

"I'm glad. I'll walk you to the commons stairs." She fell in step with him as he shrugged and moved foreward. They walked in silence for a few moments. They were more comfortable with one another than with anyone else, they didn't need to fill the silence with idle, meaningless chatter. The twins were usually content to simply be in each other's presence. This time, though, Myra got the feeling that Vin had something on his mind. Then she caught Vin chewing his lip out of the corner of her eye. That, paired with the odd feeling that he had been wanting to say something but wasn't, prompted her to elbow him. "What is it?" She asked, knowingly.

"Uh... well... See, I gotta ask you a favor." He said slowly, she could tell he was piecing together his thoughts, formulating how to say what he wanted to say.

"Shoot. You know I'd do anything for you." She smiled reassuringly. Vin considered her for a minute, his eyebrows knit together slightly, then shrugged again.

"Alrighty. I told Lyle I'd ask you to help him get on the Quodpot team. Practice with him and ish. Ya dig?" Myra's smile dropped slightly as her eyes widened, Vin's closing slightly as he watched her reaction. Her mind took off, she was so shy and secretive about her Quodpot practices. How had Lyle figured out she knew how to play? She wanted to help Vin's friend out, but she could barely even choke out a 'hello' around him, much less help him with his game skills. Not to mention, what if she just made him worse? For all she knew, she wasn't good at all and their dad was just really loving and didn't want to tell her. Slowly her face morphed into a look of nervous apprehension and concern. "Look sis, calm it down. I know how you are about that stuff, but give Lyle a chance, yeah? He's really chill if he's got his mind on something. And stop thinking you're not good, Dadds wouldn't lie to yeh. Do me a solid, yeah?"

Myra looked into her "older" brother's eyes and saw the earnest question. Letting a couple of doubts fly through her head, and feeling the pounding of her heart, she finally made up her mind. Rolling her eyes at him she let out an overly-exasperated if fake sigh, "Alright, alright. But you owe me."

"You're the top, sis. Truth." He punched her arm lightly then took the stairs two at a time as the clock chimed. Shaking her head in minor disbelief, Myra decided to wait until it was time to work on actual practices before putting too much of her mind to work on the matter. Classes started in 2 hours and she wanted to get through a couple more chapters in her book before she had to make her way to a classroom. Finally making her way back into the Great Hall she looked around. Teiver and Victor were chatting at one end of the Vulpes table. She watched as Teiver's cat eyed her curiously and she nodded a greeting to it. Her stomach grumbled audibly and she was suddenly overcome by how grateful she was to have chosen the other end of the long house table to sit at. Three plates of food appeared before her, pancakes, eggs, bacon, toast, a bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar and various berries, and assorted fruits. Add with the large glass of water and a smaller glass of milk and Myra was extremely content. She would have to send a thank you to the elves for remembering just how much her slender frame could and loved to pack away, she pulled out her book and began to dig into both reading and eating.

Back to Vin real quick

Vin meandered into his room in the Ferre part of the commons tower and slid his board under his bed. After a quick shower, he put on jeans and a grey t-shirt, he threw his flip flops back on, dried his hair on a towel, and put his robe on. Plugging Mumford and Sons into his ears, he noticed the slip of paper on his bed stand just as he was leaving. Drifting over, he grabbed it and tried to discern it. Undoubtedly it was Lyle's doing, no one else in the school had handwriting that was worse than a doctor's. He could make out enough to know that Lyle seemed to be doing much better today, there was an exclamation point after all. An easy smile lit his face and he tossed the note on his bed, making his way towards the Great Hall. He caught sight of Lloyd as she left the hall and started heading towards the front doors, violin case in hand. He entered the Hall, snagged a couple pieces of toast and large glass of chocolate milk. Taking it with him, he followed her out and lounged silently against the wall of the school a respectful distance away as she played, waiting until she was done or taking a break before saying casually as he approached, "G'morning Ladylloyd. Thank you for sharing your lovely music with the world so early. That was wonderful. How's it?"

Demetrio’s Perspective

Infirmaries are tricky places. It’s always a nice place to have, but it’s always a nasty place to need. Most muggle hospitals came bridled with all the whirling germs of death and decay which seemed to fester deep within the bowels of every muggle. Filled with lascerations, bites, bullet wounds, cancer and arrows to the knee, hospitals were certainly a place to dread.

Magus Grex’s infirmary was just that, except married with pixie-scratchs, centaur-stompings, giant hugs, Thestral trippings and boneless wizard wings arms. Most of the cots had been in service since at least the Civil War (though often cleaned with a particularly nasty brew of bleach and basilisk teeth), the sinks continuously rusted out (which wasn’t so much an issue as more a nuisance, being that the sinks generally shook off rust like a dog shaking off water every 5 or so minutes), and little old ladies came to and fro from one cot to another, inspecting their patients, smoking (Weasley Cigar Co. in particular) and attempting to remove wands from certain nether regions.

Demetrio had woken up in a terrible sweat, beads of human perspiration running down his forehead, back and legs, as he hung from his bed, swinging in perfectly knotted bed sheets. Blood had rushed to his head, and smoke filled his lungs, causing spins and cough fits (respectively) as he pulled himself up onto the bed, resting what little strength he could muster. How pleasant that nobody stayed with him long enough to see him wake up. Not surprising, and Demetrio didn’t expect anything more or less.


Why was he even in the infirmary in the first place. Searching his mind, rubbing his chest (and attempting to avoid any communication between hand and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Touched), little came back. He remembered a sharp pain in his leg, a snap? He threw off his sheet and gazed down at perfectly healed legs… odd. Must mean he can leave, right? No need for discharge?

“Well… where are my clothes?” he whispered to himself as he pulled his body up to sit up straight. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught movement. Lyle!? Lyle had been sitting there the whole time, quietly to the side.

“Uh… What are you doing here, Lyle?” Demetrio asked.

Îrem’s Perspective

Îrem was enjoying an absolutely wonderful cup of Türk Kahvesi (Turkish coffee), a gritty brew of her own hands. Magic or no magic, her father would say, kahve must be made by hand. Her family had to deal with her witchiness, something they were not use to, in a fresh way. Her father, a Muslim man, and her mother, a Christian woman, had religious hesitance at first, but their love for their daughter was much stronger than any fear.

Îrem always enjoyed every morning rather early. She was up and awake by 5 o’ clock, making sure to pray and then thinking for awhile in her suite for a few hours. At 7, she would descend down the staircase, elegantly stepping ever so slightly so as not to wake the others. Thankfully, there were always other early birds.

Îrem’ bee hummingbird had woken from her pocket and came buzzing around her head. “Hello, Baba,” Îrem greeted the 2-inch companion.

Now to wait for classes, or for somebody to come and flirt.

Lee’s Perspective

Lee was startled awake by Vance’s knocking. Throwing off the sheets, Lee realized he couldn’t possibly open the door yet. Lee always slept naked.

“W’ed jus’ a minude!” Lee yelled out. Jumping from his bed, he did his morning greeting of all the generals, as he hurriedly grabbed a pair of boxers. They were solid white, tight and semi-transparent. Normally, Lee would have no problem being so salacious, but he was feeling particularly guilty this morning. He wanted to apologize to Vance.

Grabbing his school robe, he partially covered himself to open the door, “Come on in!” he yelled, perhaps startling Vance.

As he left the door open, Lee turned his back to the door, forgetting to cover his backside with his robe (still hanging in his hand against his waist). Poor Vance. Had to see Lee’s near-bare naked ass… (OOC: smh).

“I wanna say I’m sor’uh, Vance,” Lee said, staring at the ornate portrait of Stonewall (the general, not the puppy wow-wow), nervously hoping that Vance wasn’t behind him with a garrote wire. “I shuld’a been a bedduh fr’en’, and I’a still wanna help, ya’ll don’ hafda kiss me or tell me wha’s wrong. I’m a’ways y’er huck’aberry, nameen?” He waited patiently for Vance’s reply.

Myra Magaly

The fringes of Myra's mind pricked as a distraction forced it's way into her story. One moment she had a vivid mental image of a 6-legged creature, the beloved pet of the main character, bounding happily away from her towards impending doom, then (to Myra's great annoyance) there was a bunch of movement to her right and someone across the table from her. Sighing she looked up, straight into Near's clear blue eyes. She opened her mouth to great him cheerily and he sternly put a finger to his lip. Her brow furrowed as she followed the line of his wand tip, towards Teiver, Victor and Justin. Obviously faking exhaustion, Near made his way towards her and she sat up a little straighter, a frown of confusion on her face. She did as told though, and kept her mouth shut.

She watched, wide eyed, as wands started appearing around the Vulpes table from Vulpes and non-Vulpes alike. Her mouth falling open in silent astonishment at the blatant disregard of school rules by so many students. She glanced over at the head table, there were only two professors present and they weren't even paying attention. The rules, what had happened to the rules? And why in the world were the teachers oblivious. Squinting she realized it was Applebome and Ashby, undoubtedly too busy flirting to even realize anything was happening. She was earnestly considering a mass Expelliarmus charm when Justin started dancing and she snapped her mouth shut, her face immediately twisting into a mix of confusion and humor. Relieved, she ceased the movement of her hand toward her wand. She watched intently as Garrison was unceremoniously dumped onto the table in front of Teiver and wands began to disappear into robes again. She bit her lip in concern, Poor Garrison! And poor Teiver, having to watch her little guy get all tangled up. I wonder what all that was about anyway... She was pulled out of her thoughts by Naire putting his wand away and starting to walk back around toward the table to come up next to her and sit. She watched him, her finger in her book still.

"I thought you'd save me a seat! But look at this, you're taking up, like, five bloody seats!" She smiled and looked around, "How was I to know you'd be up in any sort of timely fashion this morning, boozy?" She winked at him, "Yeah, don't think I didn't know you were down there with all of them."

Myra wrinkled her nose at the coffee that appeared in front of Naire and watched as he took a large sip, practically humming in contentment. "Much better, eh? What are ya reading?" She let him take the book from her. Had it been anyone else she would have clutched it, but she trusted Near to treat her books the way she did. Even if he didn't read as much as she did, he understood her adoration of the written word. "Biting the Sun," she mumbled, "by Tanith Lee." She'd read it at least 14 times but she didn't care, it was a wonderfully amazing story that left the reader questioning and excited and dreaming up possibilities. She watched as he gingerly flipped through the pages, losing herself in the memories and musings of the books, a content smile prettily gracing her lips.

"Eh, who really cares about the House cup? Vulpes House may not win a lot, but we definitely have the most fun. Even if there are a few... bumps in the progress." The sheer blasphemy shocked her enough to squeek. "What?!" She quickly assed the situation and looked at the concerned first year. Giving Near a look to kill she turned to the kid, "I think we've gotten away without getting any points deductions, but always be concerned with the house cup. It's a challenge meant to make us all work at being proper people. Besides, how would our Quodpot team feel if we didn't win this year because of bad behavior and not because they never win games? Wait... oh god..." her face turned bright red and she just stared at the kid, "That didn't come out how I meant... I just... I meant something about their efforts... Like.. oh god. Just try your best to be good. Run along now!" She shooed him off. The first year, who had just looked sincerely confused shrugged, shook his head, smiled at Naire and ran off to join some other first years who had showed up at the end of the table.

Myra, who's face was now the decent red-purple of embarrassment, snatched the book back from Naire and began to stuff her face again. "I'm blaming that on you," she mumbled through her food, swallowing as she caught sight of Finn walking proudly towards the scuffle. She watched him discreetly, attempting to hide the blush that was now created by something else. His jeans and collared shirt fit so well, and she'd always felt the red-lining on his robe had complimented his skin so well. Her heart was beating a little too fast for her comfort, so she turned back to her food, grabbing her water and downing it. She placed the bookmark back in her book, and the book into her bag, then turned back to Naire, who was staring at her. She smiled cautiously, then cleared her throat, "Uh... aren't you hungry?" She motioned toward the empty table in front of him, "You know they'll send it up whenever you're ready."

Vin Magaly

Vin supressed a chuckle at Lloyd's dainty jump of surprise and leaned forward, elbows to his knees and chin on one hand, considering her. "Oh would you stop doing that!? I mean, it's like you guys can't help but bloody embarrass me!!" Her voice was an impertinent whine and Vin's eyebrows slowly raised, one corner of his mouth a smirking jest of her tone. He watched as she talked to herself in her head, as she did on occasion, and responded in a more calm manner, "Thanks though. I-I guess." Vin shrugged, leaning back again, "No prob babe. I speak truth." He sweeped an arm over the rock next to him, beckoning her to take a seat.

"It's... good, I think?"she questioned him. He gave her a strong, sure nod of "yes" then raised his eyebrows again, looking at the seat next to him. She surprised him then as she walked over and sat right on his feet. One eyebrow raised ever so slightly. This was new, when had she ever been this comfortable with him before? They'd jammed a couple times sure, but she usually just took off before he got a chance to really get to know her. A softly enticing scent caught his nose and he looked down at the top of her head as she looked out over the grounds. He frowned.

"Do you know who the author and singer of the music is?" Jason Mraz. The answer was in his head before she'd even finished her question, although he didn't speak. Of course he knew, he'd played the song himself plenty of times on the guitar. Thinking about it though, it had never been as emotion-filled and delicate as what she'd just played on the violin... there's so much life energy in her music, "like the instrument is a part of her, not just a hobby." Lyle's words popped into his mind and he shook his head, realizing he'd just been watching her. No bueno. He looked out over the grounds as she continued, taking his silence as a response of "no."

"It's Jason Mraz. Gosh, I really love his music. It's so spunky and heart-warming. Great music, great music." Vin could feel her warmth over the song more than hear it in her voice, and just sat, enjoying that warmth. He really didn't feel the need to respond, so instead placed his hands behind himself on the rock and dropped his head back to bask in the warmth of the sun and Lloyd's radiant aura. Almost smiling, he frowned ever so slightly when her hand caught his shin, helping her balance. He was suddenly only aware of her lithe fingers on his shin. He looked at her again, watched as she played with the laces of his right shoe, then stopped, a thought striking her. Then, before he could blink she was standing, patting him on the leg, "I gots ta go. I'll catch up with you later, kay?"

He was looking at his leg where she'd just pat him, and he squinted again, his brow furrowed. What. The. Hell, Magaly? It's Lloyd. He realized he hadn't responded to her and looked up, but she was already back at the front doors. He stared after her a moment, chewing on his lip, then jumped up and rolled out onto his back on the grass, a long sigh escaping him. As the breath left his body, he focused on all the weird energy in his body leaving with it. After a few deep breaths like this, he sat up and crossed his legs. Time to get back in touch with me, he thought and began to meditate, letting his mind take him on a sweltering hike across an unknown desert, asking himself questions about enlightenment. Eventually his thoughts grew silent and he knew he was in touch with his soul again. Getting up, he grabbed the piece of toast that had been left forgotten on the rock and began to eat it as he made his way back into the castle. Having been inspired by Lloyd, he mumbled "Accio Guitar" and waited patiently as it made it's way to him. Grabbing it, he sat down on the steps just outside the door and began to jam out, singing softly to himself.

#, as written by throne
Justin Hardy – Cervus for the day!

”Diffindo,” he said evenly, almost as if in reply to Teiver as he cocked an eyebrow at her. Somewhere in his facial expression was scrawled the word amateur. It accompanied some slight readjustment of his wand, but the Severing Charm made quick work of his shoe-laces, simply slicing through them and freeing him from an admittedly unconventional use of the tongue-tying curse. ”I’ll send you a bill for those,” he added, saluting her with his wand. Victor got a tidy little smirk, before Justin turned his attention on Finn. The Ferre do-gooder seemed more focused on Teiver and Victor, which Justin derived immense amusement from, so Justin just shrugged and grinned a goofy grin at him, as if he had nothing whatsoever to do with no less than six wands being drawn.

He rolled his eyes, noting that he’d lost Felix to Rose. Heaven forbid he should ever be under an actual attack when there was a pretty girl around. ”Just can’t rely on those straight boys,” he remarked to Emerson with a chuckle. He made a mental note to check in with Felix on the status of his lupine cycle. If he needed a potion soon, Justin would have to get to work on it by the end of the day. It was just another one of the many nice things he did that people tended to forget in the wake of his childish antics. Ah well.

Emerson’s non-chalant indication that there was something to talk about derailed his plotting of retaliatory pranks to play on Teiver quite thoroughly. Justin’s head sort of jerked a bit as he regarded the other boy, and he certainly noticed the way that Emerson was carefully avoiding eye-contact. That meant it was almost assuredly bad news. But what kind of bad news would Emerson have to discuss with him at the breakfast table? Usually that kind of thing would be relegated to semi-private hallway discussions, or a walk outside, or…

Maybe he was reading into it too much. But then again, maybe he wasn’t. What if Emerson was seeing someone? He’d been gone all summer, he had plenty of wizarding friends in New York. And maybe he would choose to tell Justin in a public place, hoping to avoid some sort of histrionic-laden freak-out (which Justin would readily admit would probably be his first response to that sort of news).

As all of that went buzzing through his head, he simply nodded, moving to take the seat beside Em at the table. He was about to inquire, casually of course, what they had to talk about, but it only took one look at the Cervus to realize he’d fallen into one of his weird food trances. That warranted another roll of his eyes, but his lips told a different story. They’d pursed into an amused, affectionate smile, and he might have just sat there, watching Em eat, had his mail not arrived.

The owl swooped over the Vulpes table, but, not finding Justin there, winged off over toward him at the other center table. Screeching, it seemed a bit heavily laden by its cargo, which it dropped with precision onto the table before Justin before taking off. There were a few magazines, two newspapers, and a very long, somewhat thin box wrapped in parcel paper. The latter-most triggered a blink, and he quickly pulled it to the side Em wasn’t sitting at, leaning it against the table.

He spared another glance at his friend, and realizing that there’d be a few more minutes of chewing and swallowing, opened up one of his newspapers to wait him out. One of the more diligent house-elves had made a carafe of black coffee appear in front of him, and Justin gladly filled his mug. He helped himself to some bacon, a bagel, and a muffin, and proceeded to pick at all three while sipping bitter coffee and skimming the headlines.

Lyle Brightham – Ace Reporter!

So, you lot have all heard me go on and on about house elf liberation. For this week’s editorial, I’ll be doing more of that, but this time, I’ll be sharing my experiences with an actual free house elf. I met him this summer, and it made me realize that a lot of why people don’t care about house elf freedoms exists because the house elves themselves seem so happy to be enslaved. It’s something that’s existed for centuries and centuries, and many house elves don’t even know that things were different once.

So I’m going to introduce you to Sprogget, and tell his story. And maybe then-

”… and maybe then…” he mumbled to himself, his eyes intently focused on what he’d written thus far. Between when he’d arrived and now, he’d transformed the small section of the infirmary between his chair and Demetrio’s bed into a mess of parchment and ink. His notes were scattered around on the floor in a seemingly disorganized fashion, but in actuality, the order he’d put them in made perfect sense to him. It was the best way to tell Sprogget’s story- he just needed to finish the introduction before he could dive into it, but he was a bit stuck.

He heard Demetrio speak and looked up suddenly. Wait, was Demetrio naked? Lyle clapped a hand over his eyes, then peeked through a slit between two fingers. No, he was in a gown. That made waaaaay more sense, and was way less embarrassing for both boys. He carefully stood up, collecting his notes and then setting them in a semi-neat stack before he started snooping about to find Demetrio’s missing garments. He grinned at the other boy brightly. ”Mornin’ sleepyhead!” Lyle’s pre-breakfast enthusiasm could sometimes be terrifying. He poked around a bit, then found a pile of neatly folded and spell-laundered clothes sitting on a nearby bed. ”This must be them! Here you are.” He scooped up the clothes and then bounded over to Demetrio to present them.

”And, well, I’m here because I heard about the troll-attack! That must have been really scary, but you look like you’re okay, so maybe it wasn’t that scary, haha. But, you’re okay, right? Because…” He sort of trailed off, a little self-conscious as he got to the point. ”Well, I was hoping you might do an interview about it? I don’t think there’s ever been a troll attack at the school before, not for years anyway, so, yeah, um, I’d really be grateful.” Another pause. ”OH! You probably want to change.” He clapped both hands over his eyes this time. ”But, yeah, what do you say Demetrio? Maybe your story can help other people avoid getting hurt, and just think, you survived a troll! That’s awesome!”

Forgetting that Demetrio was probably changing, he peeked to see if it seemed like the other boy was going to consent to an interview. If Demetrio was in a state of undress… well, Lyle wouldn’t really be able to help peeking for just a few seconds. Harmless curiosity. Once he realized he was doing it, he’d be hopelessly embarrassed and awkward. He really just wanted to check Demetrio’s reaction to his interview pitch.

Vance Abernathy – At Wit’s End

The sad fact was that Vance was being genuine. At least, his version of genuine. At its depths, the motion to parley was rooted in selfishness, self-preservation. Priscilla could be a valuable ally, or if not, shuffling her into the more neutral ‘not an enemy’ column would be a bit of relief. The arrangement was mutually beneficial. If she wanted Nevaeh’s place in the pecking order, she’d have it. Better her than Bellona after her threats and bungling. With his backing, which would require only a modicum of effort on his part- acknowledgment at dinner tonight, a few words to the faceless girls who were already jockeying for it- she’d have no one to worry about.

Irritation flared when she appeared to be dismissing his entreaty, but they didn’t have the chance to exchange another verbal salvo. The door was open, and while Lee had complied with his prayers to a degree… it simply wasn’t enough. He’d never expended any thought on the subject, but he no longer needed to imagine what Lee’s rear end looked like. Neither did Priscilla, who seemed to be having some sort of dainty fit at the sight. To make matters worse, the boy started babbling an apology that would, under other circumstances, have pleased him immensely. He would have forgiven Lee. Probably would have told him something much closer to the truth than he’d been planning, as reward for a display of humility and loyalty befitting a noble wizarding family and an associate of an Abernathy.

The circumstances were as they were, though. Priscilla, of course, pounced on the opportunity. He could hardly blame her; he’d have done the same in her situation. It was rare that an opportunity to catch Vance in indignity arose. It was more than that, though. He was feeling the hints of betrayal. Lee in particularly, but Priscilla’s rejection of his truce compounded the matter.

”Lee,” he said abruptly, to get the boy’s attention. Clue him in, perhaps, to the fact that someone else was there if he hadn’t sussed it out already. ”Wait.” Priscilla had ordered him to get dressed, but Vance wasn’t going to miss this chance to shame Lee while using his nigh-nudity to continue discomfiting her. When it came to orders, he knew whose would be obeyed. ”Turn around, won’t you? Presenting your back is hardly fitting for a conversation.” The polite request and etiquette reminder had something of an edge to it. This is not me asking, that edge conveyed. This is me telling.

He smiled at Priscilla. She should thank him for this little lesson in the finer points of poise and humiliation. ”If you must know, Lee here was under the impression that he might be able to ransom some affection out of me when I asked him to do me a favor. Obviously, he’s seen the error of his ways. Isn’t that interesting? I evince disdain and apathy stippled with cordiality, and he’s willing to risk my wrath for the sake of a kiss, then beg my forgiveness when he realizes how wrong it was. Meanwhile, you primp and posture, use those wiles of yours that everyone is always going on about… and all you have is a flock of harpies who wouldn’t spit on you if you caught fire.”

He tilted his head, and then glanced to Lee. ”You asked for the truth. That is the only truth that matters, isn’t it? As long as there’s even a fleeting chance…” He smiled gently. ”You’re mine. Not that you’re any great prize. You have your merits, surely, but I get the feeling Priscilla was about to retort something about your desperation not being anything worth writing home about?” They… might be starting to worry. Vance was never this transparent, not with fellow Arietem. He’d verbally eviscerated plenty of other students, but never his house-mates. There was a strange intensity to his voice, as if he were slowly building up to something… volatile. His gloved hand was clenched into a fist.

He looked to her for confirmation, and continued whether he got it or not. ”But she can’t even get the boy she actually likes to notice her. It’s sad, really. Like a barker at a bazaar who can’t unload even a single vial of snake-oil. And when presented with a chance to make a formidable ally, what does she do? She lashes that serpent’s tongue yet again, makes intimations about the two of us, ludicrous though the thought might be.” He shook his head as he continued watching Priscilla. Watching wasn’t quite the right word for it. If she weren’t so spirited, she might feel very much like a mouse awaiting the strike of a poised serpent.

All at once, he was suddenly aware of what he’d said, the fact that he’d gone too far. His brow furrowed as he looked between them, replaying his own words through his mind. ”So what am I to do?” he asked. His tone had changed. He’d lost that unstable momentum he’d been gathering. ”I’m not interested in trading jests.” He shook his head, and regarded Priscilla much more normally. ”I yield. I’m done. I have much more important things to attend to, so by all means, tell everyone who will listen to you that I’m sodomizing Lee every chance I get, tell them I hurt your feelings, tell them whatever you like.” He sucked in a breath, and laughed jaggedly. ”That actually felt… good.”

There’d be a brief bit of silence after that, where either of them might have responded. If they didn’t take advantage of it, he’d be off, striding toward the common room, curling and uncurling the fingers of his mechanical hand without even realizing he was doing it.

Demetrio’s Perspective

”And, well, I’m here because I heard about the troll-attack!” Lyle said, smiling excitedly like a little boy. “That must have been really scary, but you look like you’re okay, so maybe it wasn’t that scary. But, you’re okay, right? Because…” He sort of trailed off, seeming a little nervous, though Demetrio couldn’t quite place why. Lyle always seemed to be confident, at least to Demetrio. But Demetrio was always far and distant from anybody, so he never gave much merit to his own perception. ”Well, I was hoping you might do an interview about it? I don’t think there’s ever been a troll attack at the school before, not for years anyway, so, yeah, um, I’d really be grateful.” Demetrio smiled blankly, but in reality he was a little irritated. All Lyle ever wanted was an interview. Demetrio bit his lip. Why couldn’t Lyle understand that Demetrio didn’t talk about things like that? Why couldn’t he just joke around and accept that Demetrio would never be close to anyone?

”OH! You probably want to change,” Lyle said, nervously covering his eyes with both of his hands. Demetrio honestly gave no thought to getting dressed. The funny thing was: Demetrio wished he could walk around naked all day. As hidden as he was about his insides, he’d much rather never be hidden about his outsides. But alas, he lived amongst other people, and therefore had to follow conventions. The animals would have never asked something so ridiculous as to wear clothes. Demetrio turned his back to Lyle, though he didn’t care if Lyle was staring or not. But nobody would stare at Demetrio anyway, so it didn’t matter. He practically tore off his gown, bending over to position his feet in the holes of his boxers. Had anyone else been in the infirmary, it would have appeared to be a rather scandalous scene: Demetrio’s bare bottom facing a giddy Lyle. But Demetrio didn’t care. Demetrio was ugly, at least in his mind, and nothing scandalous could ever happen to him.

”But, yeah, what do you say Demetrio? Maybe your story can help other people avoid getting hurt, and just think, you survived a troll! That’s awesome!” Demetrio barely even remembered the troll. He just remembered that it was his fault. He should have waited or something. He should have just listened to Headmaster Rockwell. The sound of his leg cracking and falling to black... what a nightmare.

”Lyle, I just don’t know,” Demetrio said, placing his hand on Lyle’s shoulder to alert him that it was quite safe to look. ”It’s not that I don’t appreciate your interest in my health, I do, but I just don’t remember a whole lot about it. And I’m just not a big talker…”[b] Demetrio felt a little guilty. Lyle was the only soul in the entire school who consistently made an effort to get deeper. Feeling partially obligated, he sighed and pressed against Lyle’s shoulder. He pointed his face towards the door and said, “We should go eat breakfast, I’m starving. We can talk about it on the way or something. Does that sound okay? I mean, I know I’m not the prettiest girl to walk to the Main Hall, but give me a break!” Demetrio smiled and winked, attempting to pull Lyle towards the hall.

[b]Îrem’s Perspective

Unfortunately, Îrem was only half way out the commons as the drama up the stairs ensued. She was pretty darn sure it had something to do with Lee and Vance. It was best for her to check up and make sure everyone was fine.

She noticed Prissy near Lee’s door, cracking up… until of course Vance began to berate her. Îrem couldn’t quite discern Prissy’s face, but he could hear Lee start to sniffle. Vance was less tense after his little rant, stretching his hand and breathing heavily.

Getting closer, Îrem grab hold of Prissy’s arm: primarily to comfort her, and secondarily to hold her back from ripping Vance’s manly bits apart. She would have gone into Lee’s room, but she wouldn’t dare risk Vance swatting at her.

It didn’t matter, though, because Lee was speaking up anyway.

Lee’s Perspective

Lee was quite unsure of what just happened. Should he dart to find some clothes, or should he just stand and wait for Vance’s further mandates? He heard the shuffle outside the door as Îrem probably silently aided Prissy, and he watched as Vance waited for somebody to speak up, his shoulders tense and unsteady. All this... tension, to say the least, sort of reminded him of the storm. All the waiting, the chugging of events, the crackdowns. It made him deathly nervous. He didn't like it. He hated Vance for causing all this stress. He hated himself for causing all the stress. He hated Vance for being unhappy, for being so cold. It was the reason why he loved Vance so doggone much.

Just as it seemed Vance would leave, Lee barked up, “Vanz, come on in, podna. Just’a calm down, and talk about whachu ne’d me’a do. No funny bidness, from here on out. Just trus’ me and come on in. Please. I’ll ged ya a whole dozen beignets if’n ya’ll jus’ come in. Whatya say?” He needed to wait and see what Vance would say or do to make another move. He reached out his hand at Vance, attempting to lightly grab Vance's, and with the other preparing to shut the door behind them both.

#, as written by throne
Lyle Brightham – Still Sort of Confused

Lyle wasn’t sure what to think, when he peeked. Demetrio had donned his boxer shorts by then, so it wasn’t as if he was seeing anything scandalous, but the Cervus boy looked… upset? He wasn’t sure. It was too subtle an expression for Lyle to really get a grasp on. The basic ones, the smiles and frowns, those were easy enough (except when they weren’t- Lyle didn’t quite understand why anyone might smile when they weren’t happy or frown when they were, but people did it all the time). Not being terribly complex himself, he had trouble interpreting complexity, especially in social situations. He was the sort to get upset when others were fighting and then erupt with Why can’t everyone just get along?, because he simply didn’t get why they couldn’t.

He recovered his eyes, thinking hard about what Demetrio might be thinking. He’d asked Demetrio for interviews before, and been turned down, but that had been about Demetrio. He’d been hoping to learn more about the only Mexican wizard he’d ever met, about his beliefs and where he’d grown up, but he’d accepted it when he’d been denied. It was private stuff. Like if someone walked up to him and asked him to talk about his mum. The realization hadn’t come easy, but it had eventually come, and he’d never asked again.

This was different though. It was a troll attack, not anything about feelings or junk. To Lyle, a troll attack was a little piece of adventure that had somehow gotten tangled up in the daily school routine. It was exciting, it was dangerous, it was news-worthy. He had no idea that Demetrio wouldn’t want to talk about it. Maybe it was him. Maybe Demetrio just didn’t want to talk to him. It was a sobering thought, but fortunately, not one he had to endure for very long.

He felt Demetrio’s hand on his shoulder and startled. He’d gotten so wrapped up in his ineffectual thinking that he’d sort of forgotten the guy was still standing there. His hands flew away from his face, replacing a view of his fingers and palms with the sight of a very-much-clothed Demetrio. ”Haha, you scared me,” he informed the other boy, his voice a little higher in pitch than usual. His boyish features were lit up by a wide grin when Demetrio agreed to talk to him, and they could have breakfast! He’d almost forgotten about breakfast.

He looked a bit puzzled as Demetrio said something about not being the prettiest girl. Lyle was about to announce his confusion, point out that Demetrio was, in fact, a boy, but then Demetrio was pulling him toward the exit. ”Wait, my notes!” He wriggled away, dashing to the chair where he’d left his effects and quickly sorting through them, shuffling pages, stuffing the lot of it in his bag once he’d made sure that the cap was firmly set on the ink bottle. He forgot to do that a lot, and had ruined quite a few bags and story drafts as a result. Hanging the bag off his shoulder, he bounded to rejoin Demetrio.

”Okay, I’m ready now. And thanks for doing this. I really am really glad you’re okay. So, um, wait. You said you don’t really remember what happened? Did the troll hit you on the head?” He juked a step closer to Demetrio, ducking his own head around as he tried to inspect the Cervus’ noggin for any obvious bumps. Not finding any, he crossed behind him to Demetrio’s other side without missing a step. ”Maybe just… talking about it will help bring it back?”

Justin Hardy – Time is of the Essence

Emerson would notice that Justin really didn’t seem all that interested in whatever he was reading. His expression was more thoughtful than anything, far too thoughtful to have anything to do with an article (it could barely be called an article; it was practically an advertisement, given how biased it was toward a particular brand of magical solvents that Justin knew full well to be inferior) about cleaning products. He was chewing on a few different things. The whole debacle with Teiver and Calza, whatever it was Emerson was killing him with suspense over, when exactly he’d be able to slip off and tend to his potions. He caught a glimpse of Flint joining the Cervus table as well, a ways down. Well, at least he’d made it out of bed. That meant Justin wouldn’t have to return to their room and drag his ass out of bed before class began.

That was when he realized Em was watching him read. Sort of strange, that. Rather than catch him in it and trigger embarrassment, he pretended as if he hadn’t noticed anything until he heard him clear his throat. He ruffled the paper a bit, glancing over at Em as if he hadn’t been running through a mental database of possibly gay or bi- guys who might have stolen Emerson out from under him. Turning to face him, he couldn’t help but notice Flint with Rose, Other Felix, and Delilah.

”What’s up, Emersonian?” He reached over, grabbing a grape from a nearby bunch of them, and with a deft flick of his wrist sent it sailing through the air in a ballistic arc. It’d pass right over the Cervus students between them, probably bouncing off the side of Flint’s head unless he moved. It was Justin’s version of good morning, and his way of getting the other boy’s attention. He had to fill him in on the Teiver and Victor thing, but then again, maybe not, since Flint had joined in his defection from the Vulpes breakfast table.

”I’m listening, I promise,” he put in quickly, grinning to Emerson. He planted an elbow on the table, using the attached hand to hold up his chin as the gift was described. He couldn’t help sparing what he hoped was a discreet glance at the wrapped parcel that was leaning beside him before returning his attention to his hopeless crush.

The goofy grin that spread like kudzu across Justin’s face was really all the proof anyone would need to convict him of falling hard for Emerson. If anyone else had launched into an animated account of the cuckoo clock they planned on giving him, Justin would have been staring at them blankly. What the Hell would I do with a clock?, he’d be thinking, probably even saying. Instead, he looked delighted, really lit up. Instead, he was thinking about Emerson hunched over a clock, probably taking several deliberate hours to do the work he’d mentioned in such an off-handed fashion.

”It sounds awesome. Really. I can’t wait to see it.” He laughed, and it sounded… well, relieved. ”The way you were making me wait, I was just getting…” He paused, waggling his eyebrows, a clear indication that a terrible pun was soon to follow. ”All wound up about it.” Again, his gaze strayed to the oddly-shaped box that had been delivered. ”I um, actually have something for you, too. But it’s not ready yet.” He sat up, regarding Em once more. ”You know, that was some pitch you gave. I especially liked the part about being… what was it? ‘Chirped into consciousness by the sounds of nature.’ You should think about a career in advertising.” He just wanted to… hug him. It was so damn cute, how enthusiastic he got about a clock.

”So when do I get this cuckoo alarm clock, hmmm?”

Demetrio’s Perspective

Ignoring Lyle’s confusion at Demetrio’s obviously poorly worded humor, Demetrio wrapped his arm around Lyle’s shoulders as the other boy returned with an amalgamation of papers and things. Demetrio never quite understood Lyle’s interest in gossip and such. In Demetrio’s culture, that is Californio (a distinct subset of Mexican), only women dabbled in chismes and men stood stoically as the women made fools of themselves. A follower of machismo, Demetrio made sure never to speak intimately of anyone unless it was absolutely integral, and he certainly spoke less of himself. Sometimes, he felt disingenuine, but it provided for him an advantageous serenity; his grades were perhaps one of the best in his house (not considering arithmancy of course) and most teachers valued his refreshing yet rare additions to class conversation.

The honest truth, however, was that Demetrio did very much want to share something with Lyle, or with anyone about anything. He wanted to tell Lyle everything there was to say about Mexican witchcraft and wizardry, he wanted to share personal stories, he wanted to offer it all up. But his fears precluded that. Yes, he was more afraid of not being a man than actually proving he was a man. This was probably the number one reason he was cast into Cervus and not Ferre; he was not courageous or honorable, he was too sentimental for Vulpes, and lacked the drive of Arietem. His own internal struggles meant he was uncompromisingly accepting and distantly affectionate towards anyone as long as they stayed from his heart, and his shadows.

But Lyle had determination, Demetrio gave him that. He did have a point, however. A troll attack wasn’t necessarily personal, and would be good to warn students of such a danger. But it was still attention that Demetrio didn’t necessarily want. Demetrio would hate to be on the other end of pity or cynicism, and honestly he was ashamed to have been bested. But mostly, he was afraid it would be revealed as to why he was even there out there in the first place. ¡Ay mamá! Demetrio would never be able to come up with a decent excuse, and he certainly could never tell the truth, even if Rockwell already knew.

”Lyle, I appreciate you wanting to know,” Demetrio finally said as the two were passing a particularly favorite tree of his, a Manzanita with a specifically red tint to it. He continued, ”And I do intend to help you, because you have always been friendly, and I appreciate that you are the only person ever wanting to know anything of me. But you must understand that I am hard pressed to speak of myself, and I… as we say, am muy macho cuando quiero estar callado de mis cosas. But you do have a point that it would benefit other students. If you ask me specific questions, I will be more inclined to share with you my story. Just do not ask of me the entire story in bulk, I am not… how we say un rey de palabras. Um… a master of words, so to speak.” With that he stopped them both at the side door of the Great Hall, and stared at him in the eyes. With his left hand still on Lyle’s shoulder, he took his right hand and gently ‘slapped’ Lyle’s check affectionately; an old fashioned Californio sign of trust. ”What do you say, amigo?”

Waiting for Lyle’s answer, he couldn’t help but feel… safe. Safe. In a long time, it seemed he never felt that way. Even after years of being a student at Magus Grex, even during Summers with Yoya, his tartarabuela, and all of his family… he never felt safe. Not since his innocence traversing the mountains. But Lyle didn’t threaten his safety. He wanted nothing more than to… know him.

Before Lyle could answer to his face, he turned his head to the left, pretending to gaze up at the towers, and a single tear escaped his eye. Hoping that Lyle wouldn’t catch sight, he attempted to his best to hide his eyes; but still he waited for Lyle’s answer.

Lee’s Perspective

Lee waited in his room, silently sitting in his chair, a housewarming gift from his Aunt Leona. He was still near-naked, cold and… empty. Ever since he lost his parents, he always felt like a different person. He always felt as though he had lost something integral to himself. He had attempted to steal it back through various exploits: academic advance, carnal pleasure, etc. Lee was a douchebag through and through, however. No matter what he tried, he simply delved deeper into his… emptiness. Aunt Leona never helped with that. As much as she loved him, she seemed to have been the officiator of his ruination. It was her influence that made him a purist, that made him racist, and that made him unbendingly bitchy.

For the life of Lee, he never quite understood why he was asked to be a prefect. He never was much for responsibility, and besides his academic achievement, he was never charismatic enough to be a leader of any sorts. His father once explained to him his namesake: Lee, for that noble General whose leadership was the sole catalyst for Southern unification, Thomas, for the Stonewall whose fortitude rallied all behind him, Pierre, for the patron of the dynasty and the general who was both initiator and first driving force of the rebellion. Lee never felt much like he obliged any of those names quite well. Lee was neither noble, brave nor driven. In fact, he was ambitious and ambitious alone.

Now he sat, just at the window of his room. Thinking. Here he was, on the first official day of classes in the fifth year of his scholastic career, and he was sitting in a chair. Now, what had he expected from Vance? He wasn’t sure anymore. He probably had expected some sweeping Romantic scene in which Vance finally revealed his everlasting love and the two would ride off together to bring world fame and renewed glory to both their houses. Fantasy. Lee knew so, but his… bitchiness allowed him such tomfoolery. Idiot, Lee thought. Pure fucking idiot. After Vance stormed off, demonstrating his dissatisfaction to say the least, Lee immediately shut his doors and sat in anger.

Lee was determined to skip all classes entirely today. He didn’t care if he was reprimanded, and he certainly was NOT interested in keeping his prefecture (more of a punishment to him than a privilege). He didn’t care that Îrem was knocking unceasingly on his door, he had magically locked it anyhow.

#, as written by throne
Lyle Brightham – Elated!

So, well, really, Lyle had no idea what Demetrio was saying for the longest time. Parts of it were in Spanish, a language that his knowledge of was more or less expressed in the words taco and burrito, for starters. Then there was the fact that Demetrio seemed to be saying more than he was actually saying. Lyle was really just looking for a yes or no, and there were so many lines to read between. Finally, there was the fact that for what was possibly the first time ever, Demetrio was touching someone, and that someone happened to be him. Lyle was no stranger to affection. In fact, his ambush-hugs were legendary, and more than a few of his “bromances” got occasionally awkward when he forgot about that pesky personal space thing people were always going on about.

As far as he could remember, though, Demetrio had always shirked from contact, even high-fives or fist bumps or the like. It wasn’t bad or anything. Lyle had a rudimentary understanding that some people didn’t like to be touched. It was one of those things he really didn’t get- he never could have actually explained why someone might not like it- but that he abided by anyway, like the fact that the sky was blue because of nitrogen. He couldn’t help but wonder what had changed between all the times Demetrio had left him hanging and now, but really, he didn’t mind. It was nice. Friendly. Maybe a little unprofessional, given their interviewer and interviewee status, but, hey. They were just kids.

Then Demetrio slapped him. Lyle’s eyes grew very wide. It hadn’t hurt at all of course, but, well, he’d slapped him. Demetrio didn’t seem angry though, or even upset. In fact, he seemed pretty happy. His mouth opened to question the action, but at that exact instant, it occurred to him that the meandering dual-language response was, in essence, a yes. And he’d called Lyle amigo! He knew that one, it meant friend!

”I say that you’re the best, Demetrio! And, um, yeah, that’s a good idea! The asking question things. I was gonna do that anyway, but, I’m glad you um, like it. Haha.” He beamed, and almost wrapped the poor Cervus in one of his fierce little hugs. He managed to restrain himself, though, if only because he’d so recently been considering the other boy’s aversion to touch. He was so excited he didn’t notice the tear at all. In fact, he might not have noticed if Demetrio had grown a reptilian tail and used it to juggle cats. He was already thinking up questions!

”So, oh, we have class soon, we better get in and eat real fast. But um, for starters, can you describe the troll for me? I really want a good picture in my head for when I write about it. It’s too bad Naire wasn’t there, he could have gotten a picture!” And probably wound up in the infirmary; this did not occur to Lyle, though. He started a Sorkin-walk into the dining area, leading Demetrio to the Cervus table, because that, apparently, was where everyone was going to wind up this morning.

Justin Hardy – Pretty Fly for a Jedi

Justin narrowed his eyes on Emerson when he wondered if the long parcel might be his gift, pretty much confirming, of course, that it was. It was mostly playful. The eye-narrowing, that is. He didn’t figure Emerson for the sort to go and ruin a present, but it did annoy him mildly that he’d mentioned it when it was sitting right there. With anyone else, he wouldn’t have said anything, but for some reason his usual cunning seemed to run in spurts around Em. It worked fine when he was flattering, flirting, or joking… but try as he might, his ability to lie or even bend the truth with him was just pathetic. It was a minor miracle that he’d managed to convince the goofball that he didn’t still think about him naked at least twenty times a day. He wasn’t even sure he had convinced him, and Emerson was just being nice and ignoring it.

He lifted a hand, waving it in front of Em’s face. ”These are not the gifts you are looking for. You don’t need to see my identification.”* Grinning in a manner that he hoped was impish, he secretly melted a little inside at the nudging and then looked down the table at Flint when Emerson mentioned the Betterbeer. ”Ah, yeah. We had a little soirée. You know. Stupid stuff. I’m pretty sure I mooned an owl. Definitely a success, though. But you know what they say. What happens in the sixth year Vulpes boy’s dorm stays in the sixth year Vulpes boy’s down.” He shrugged non-committal, keeping a straight face despite the obvious fact that no one had ever compared the bookish House’s tower to Las Vegas, ever, before that very moment.

He nodded understanding when Em explained his gift wasn’t ready. Even if he was capable at being mad at the boy, it would have been downright hypocritical, given the finishing touches he still needed to put on the parcel leaning to his left. ”Ah, I understand only too well.” He shook a fist in the air (believe it or not, in more or less the same direction as the American Ministry’s offices), contorting his features into an expression of profound anguish. ”Damn you, Trace!” It was no secret that Justin had spent an inordinate amount of time the past three summers trying to work out a way to shake the magical monitoring spell that had been ruining his life since the day he realized he could make a profit doing magic. He’d worked out an arrangement with a local wizard of somewhat shady repute back in Salem, wherein Justin would instruct him and supervise him in some moderate Potions work so he didn’t fall too far behind in his production schedule, but really, it was the principle of the thing that bothered him. That and the many, many Galleons he was wasting paying the guy off for wand-work he could easily have been doing himself.

He cocked an eyebrow when Lyle and Demetrio passed them, and in doing so noticed something… what was the pure unadulterated evil version of “auspicious”, again? Calamitous? Dastardly? He wasn’t sure. He probably could have filled an entire parchment roll with ill-omen words relating to what he was watching. Vance Abernathy and Victor Calza. Talking. In what seemed to be a friendly way.

”Nothing good can come of this,” he muttered. It probably seemed to come out of nowhere, at least to Emerson, but he’d probably figure out what his friend was referring to when he noticed Justin trying to either murder them with his eyes or eavesdrop over the breakfast din. Maybe he was attempting to read lips? Anything was possible. Whatever the case, he’d have to keep an eye on that particular unholy alliance, especially after the altercation earlier.

He noticed Felix across the room as well, and frowned. It didn’t take much more than a glimpse to tell something was amiss. Probably not the ideal time to ask him to help him win Em’s undying love, but, he’d have to hook up with him later anyway and see what was up. Something about his utter disconnection with the room around him led Justin to believe that he wasn’t quite ready to spill about whatever it was just yet. Maybe by lunch time.

He returned his attention to Emerson, favoring him with an apologetic smile for his lapse in attention. He quickly ran through the last few lines of their conversation, then resumed it. ”You always were inexplicably good with Charms, so I’m guessing it will turn out great. I bet my roommates will find it perfectly annoying… and really, there’s no greater gift you could give me than that.”

*Reason #214 that Justin is madly in love with Emerson- Even though he’s from a Wizarding family, he gets most of his pop culture references.

Vance Abernathy - <insert Game of Thrones opening music here>

For the first time in months, something was actually going right. Vance did well to conceal his surprised gratitude when Victor simply welcomed him, complimented him, even indicated an interest in discussion. He nodded sympathetically at the mention of family matters. The Vulpes’ final sentence seemed to ring in his ears. I’d hoped to speak with you about how things have changed this year. Victor didn’t know the half of it. Though of course, perhaps, he did. He had half a mind to ask him if he’d received any missives from his grandfather, but Victor would have just lied adeptly, tired though he seemed. It would gain him nothing and expose more than he dared. He really needed to give some earnest thought toward obtaining some Veritaserum.

There coming together was interrupted by an owl, dropping off a note for Victor. Vance would simply stand by if he decided to read it; again, his respect for the other seventh year extended far enough that he didn’t expect the abject deference he’d once garnered from his lesser. Or if Victor simply stowed it for later perusal, more the better.

”That’s what I was hoping to speak with you about as well,” he replied once they were underway. His trained strides would of course bring him a half-pace ahead of Victor, which meant that he’d now be able to get a very good look at the dragon-skin glove encasing his artificial right hand. ”I hope you’ll forgive me a somewhat awkward question, but it’s been a trying morning already and I haven’t the patience for anything more clever.”

A glance about the hallway. Who was in earshot? Were any of his grandfather’s puppets keeping tabs on him? Did it even matter, when he was engaged in a fairly intimate tete-a-tete with someone who very well might be one of those puppets, right now? Satisfied at least that Victor was the only one he needed to worry about presently, he continued.

”How much can I trust you, Calza?” He turned his head, looking back at his fellow pureblood. ”It occurs to me that I really have no idea what you want, and by that token, no idea what I can expect from you. It’s an unusual experience for me, I assure you.” It was utterly devoid of pretense; the same blunt honesty he’d exhibited in his own common area earlier, motivated by the same disinterest in intrigue that had led to his casting off of his Quodpot robes. ”You might say that I’m reorganizing my priorities this year, and that I’ll require the aid of a certain caliber of student.” No pleasantries. No talk of their summers. He wasn’t interested, and didn’t want the shrewd Vulpes becoming interested in his. Not yet, anyway.

Lyle Brightham - Unsuccinctable


*This post written in collaboration with Throne*

Lyle's shoulders were slumped as he made his way out of the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. No one had the ability to make him feel nearly so stupid as Professor Hughes did, and the man had outdone himself today. First a speech about the importance of this year, how critical it was to their futures in the Wizarding world. The O.W.L.s were upon them, and he expected at least an E from everyone (his eyes had seemed to linger on Lyle, at that moment, and if he'd been a basilisk, the poor boy certainly would have turned to stone). They'd need that grade to continue with their studies on the subject, and without a N.E.W.T... "Well," he'd said, smirking, "We'll always need people who can wash out a cauldron." Even though his conception of the future didn't include many battles with Dark wizards, Lyle couldn't help but feel like the man meant it as advice for him. He'd performed even more miserably that usual during the day's lesson, the Shield Charm, which Hughes had stressed was the foundation that the rest of the year's studies would be built upon. Many students had perked up when he'd gone on to produce a Patronus, a stately lion in silver, but to Lyle, it had just been another example of something he'd never be able to do.

Vin couldn't help but notice his friend's silence as they wandered down the teeming hallway, led by their stomachs towards the scent of lunch. Class had started out promising enough, but as the lesson had progressed Lyle had grown quieter and quieter. Melvin'd picked up the Shield Charm with relative ease, so he'd spent a good portion of the class tossing water balloons at Lyle to deflect. Wrinkling his nose with a tiny bit of guilt he looked at his buddy, who was almost soaked through. Vin knew there wasn't really much he could do to make Lyle any better at charms, butif he could share his adeptness for it, he would in a heart beat. As it was, he'd continued tossing the small, multi-colored, jiggly balloons in Lyle's direction and cringing with each new watery pop.

Lyle didn't say a word, he just trudged along at Vin's side, staring at the ground with an uncharacteristically grim expression on his usually impish features. Lyle's face caused another small stab of guilt somewhere in the pit of Vin's stomach, so he formed a plan. Just because you weren't good at a shield charm didn't mean you couldn't have fun with the learning process. Subtly removing his wand from his robes, he whispered "Accio water balloons". He quickly stashed his wand and let his left hand extend behind him, waiting patiently. Soon enough, a small pewter cauldron half-filled with colorful projectiles was whizzing its way down the corridor, the handle of which connected with Vin's hand just in time for him to grab it. Nudging Lyle on the shoulder, he looked over, a gleam in his eye as he maneuvered the balloons in between them steathily.

"Hmm?" Lyle thought he'd heard his friend say something, but it hadn't quite penetrated the gloom that surrounded him. He looked up and over, puzzlement settling into place on his face as he regarded the balloons Vin had assembled. "It's no use, mate, I'm useless. It doesn't matter how much I practice, I'll just end up wet as ever." He mustered a smile, though, and it came much more easily than he'd been expecting it to. Friends like Vin could turn a day like this around in a heartbeat.

Vin raised a relaxed eyebrow with a quirk bringing the corner of his lips up, "Who said these were for you, mate?" Casually winkinging on the last word with an atrocious mimick of Lyle's native accent, he nodded towards his laughing twin and her best female friend. They were both as dry as the dust bowl, having mastered the charm with ease and precision. Vin had understood the charm, sure, and been able to cast it well enough to deflect the balloons of doom, but his savant of a sister had outdone herself, already able to shield another person and multiple people with a flick of her wrist. He shrugged as he looked back to Lyle, "She can't block 'em if she doesn't see 'em comin', right?"

It took a few seconds for Lyle to get it. His thought process was almost a visible thing, eyes tracking through the air like Vin's words had been scrawled there for him to make sense of. Vin chuckled as he watched the cogs turning in Lyle's head, Wait for it... He knew Lyle'd figure it out quick enough, they tended to think along the same lines.What did it matter who was throwing the balloons at him, he was still utter rubbish when it came to shielding the- "Oh," he said aloud, when he got it, and then "Ohhhhh." Vin's sinful smile grew, "There you go, bra." Lyle was soon mirroring Vin's wicked grin, for he was a mutable boy if he was anything. It never would have occured to him to distract himself from his own sorrows with a prank, but now that the idea was posed, he was no longer imagining what his life might be like scrubbing out cauldrons for the rest of his days.

It was as if the spunky lad had transformed. Lyle's expression got very furtive, too furtive, and he was so obvious about trying to sneakily take hold of a few of the ballons that there was nothing sneaky about it whatsoever. If there had been some army-issue helmets lying around and a fox-hole to dive in, he would almost definitely have made use of them. Walkie-talkies, too. And code-names. If only they'd had time to assign code-names! As Lyle fumbled a second balloon and had to pick it up, Vin chuckled, then gave a "don't mind us, just fumbling water balloons here" kind of shrug toward a few 4th year girls who had begun watching them. One of the girls giggled and the group began tittering and wandering off another direction. Just as well, Vin knew how many of the younger... well even the older girls appreciated and looked out for Myra. Yep, it was definitely time to take her out. She would kill him, but he was bigger and stronger and won 9 out of every 10 of their sibling wrestling matches. She was going down. Summer, unfortunately, would be a casualty of war. It couldn't be helped.

With his right hand, Vin pointed two fingers, together, straight into the air, then bounced them lazily in the direction of the balloons, then back up and in the direction of Myra and Summer. His best "covert ops" sign-language probably didn't read all that well, in hindsight, due to his rather relaxed nature when it came to pretty much anything. The only sharp movements Vin ever made were on his surf board, generally. Lyle got that much, though, and nodded his understanding. After all, it was... basically just the plan. Throw their water ballons at the girls. Vin set the cauldron down, readying two ballons of his own as Lyle silently mouthed the countdown: three, two,- Vin meanwhile looked over to the girls, chatting and laughing as they turned towards the great hall, not a clue in the world- one!

"Fire in the hole!" the Ferre bellowed, remembering the phrase from a Muggle film he'd seen once. Oops. So much for the element of surprise. Vin couldn't help but laugh, blowing their cover open even wider. Neither boy was the malicious sort, it was just fun, plain and simple. Glancing at one another and nodding in unison, they let loose with the ballons, sending one, two, three, four of them sailing through the air toward the pair of girls. All there was left to do with their payload discharged was stand their and wait for the inevitable splash, grinning like idiots.

Unfortunately, it seemed that the ruckus they'd made had caught the attention of more than just the gaggle of girls from fourth year, Myra and Summer had abruptly ceased their conversation and turned to watch the balloons as they divorced from the boys hands. As shock registered accross Summer's face, perhaps even a tiny bit of fear, Myra simply smirked and gave them a look that could only be described as lovingly scornful. Without batting an eye her wand had been in the air, and flicked with a quick movement of her lips. The boys looked crestfallen as the balloons did, indeed, explode upon impact. Unfortunately, the impact was made with an invisible forcefield of air that had been conjured by Myra's perfect shield charm. The water dripped to the ground as the balloon fragments slid down the shield that covered not only Myra, but Summer and a few innocent bystanders. Then, things turned for the worse as Myra's eyes seemed to focus on the cauldron in between the boys and she smirked, her own wicked flame springing to life in her eyes. Vin, though relaxed, had teh good grace to widen his eyes in surprise as she looked at Summer conspiratorily, who nodded in acquiesence. Then, flicking her wand once more, Myra cast a silent spell. Vin looked at Lyle with a question written on his face, then his eyes grew wide as the remaining balloons, one by one, soared into the air above them and began pummeling the boys with perfect precision. The balloons traced perfect arches to different marks on their bodies, hitting their marks with almost frightening accuracy.

Lyle and Vin were laughing as they brought their hands up to feebly defend themselves from Myra's much more skilfful assault. It was no use, of course; when all the ballons were spent, both boys were completely drenched, and a small lake had formed at their feet littered with tatters of rubber in every color. Other students coming to or from the Great Hall shrieked or laughed, dodging or standing and watching as the bit of mischief backfired horribly on the pair of Ferre. Their wet robes clung to their bodies, heavy, but with another oddly synchronized look-and-grin combination to one another, they charged toward Myra and Summer, cackling wildly as they launched themselves at the girls.

Myra's triumphant laughter gave way to a playful squeal of faux-terror as she grabbed Summer and turned to run, well aware of what was coming. Unfortunately, they weren't fast enough. Lyle went for Summer, Melvin for Myra, and the boys wrapped them each in a very amused, very wet hug from behind. It was only a few seconds, but that was all they needed to get the girls a bit wet. Feminine protests abound, the girls wriggled around and squealed happily until the boys peeled away, still laughing themselves, and bolted toward the Great Hall before the girls could muster any further reprisal.

"Thanks, mate," Lyle imparted, a bit out of breath after their antics, as they slowed down. "I needed that." As they were both wet, it hardly mattered that Lyle slung a skinny arm around Vin's shoulders. Vin nodded, his breath coming in excited beats, "For sho' man. You can't get all down on yourself 'cause of some silly class. Ya dig?" Vin found a spot at the Ferre table. His voice came out in a deep rumble as he adopted his best "king-like" tone and stated, proudly, "We fought our battle hard. We were not victorious, but now we feast!" Piling his plate high with various lunch foods, he patted the seat next to him, leaving a small puddle of water from his robe's sleeve.

Lyle dissolved into a bit of a giggle-fit at Vin's idea of a royal proclamation. The one-sided water balloon fight had innervated him, restoring his usual supply of giddy energy. He performed a little bow, flipping his hand about before sweeping it low (and in the process, sending droplets of water to splash anyone nearby). "As you command, m'Liege." He plopped his bony bum down on the bench beside Vin and began piling plenty of food for himself, unable to stop grinning all the while. Sharing occasional laughing glances, they tucked in.

Victor Calza

Nothing out of the ordinary, indeed, Victor thought as Delilah reduced the swelling and the redness in her hand. There wasn't too much she could do about the redness in her face, though. He suspected it wasn't entirely a result of the fall, as that sort of thing happened to her quite often.

"Of course," he said in response to her thanks. "I'd be willing to wager that by the end of this class, we'll have some far more entertaining mishaps than a simple fall." It was a safe bet. Transfiguration was nothing to scoff, especially in the seventh year. There was a very good chance that more than a few students would end up in hilariously odd looking half-transformations.

"I did," he said, regarding the note, "I would gone to speak with you then, but I was preoccupied, as I'm sure you saw. I probably should have talked to you, though, instead of wasting my time with Abernathy." He spoke the last sentence with a mild, but controlled amount of scorn. It came off something like annoyance. Not like something was truly bothering him, but indeed as though he had simply wasted a morning. "I have the book back in my quarters. I could... meet you in the library after classes today, if that works for you?"

It occurred to Victor that neither of them had had very enjoyable mornings, as his eyes momentarily settled on Sam Halford, who had recently taken his seat. Of course, it would have been wholly unwise for him to inquire about that, as that was a very personal subject, he was sure, and Victor and Delilah weren't really at that point in terms of a friendship.

With that, class began, and Victor directed his full attention to Professor Ryther.


By lunchtime, Victor's meager breakfast seemed completely inadequate, and so he dug in eagerly upon reaching the Vulpes table. He'd hardly began eating, however, when the call of 'fire in the hole!' had his wand in hand under the table, and an annoyed look glancing in the direction of the sound. He'd expected Flint and Hardy, but wasn't fully surprised upon seeing the Ferres Brightham and Magaly lobbing water balloons in the direction of the Magaly girl and the younger Turner sister. He couldn't help but smirk to himself when Myra expertly defended not only herself, but everyone around her, with a well cast shield charm, before making turning the pranksters' weapons against them. She was becoming quite the witch, he noted.

A potentially annoying scene averted, Victor returned to his lunch.