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Vance Abernathy

"I'm sorry, I was imagining you were someone more interesting."

0 · 674 views · located in Magus Grex School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

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


Vance Abernathy


Basic Info

Name: Vance Abernathy
Age: 17
Gender: Male
House: Arietem
Pet: None
Birthplace: Savannah, Georgia
Astrological Sign: Leo
Wand: 13”, holly & dragon heartstring, rigid
Patronus: A large serpent (formerly a shark)

  • Respect
  • Power
  • Competition
  • Flying
  • Mirrors

  • The weak
  • Being mocked
  • Being asked about his sister
  • His family
  • Himself


You don’t get much more Arietem than Vance Abernathy; at least, you didn’t. Whatever happened over the most recent break has left the Southern wizard changed, though whether for better for worse is still undecided.

Vance places great stock in wizarding blood, and is schooled enough in lineage to know the families of most of his peers (or lack thereof) better than they do. He is still capable of recognizing merit, though; a worthy Mud-blood or student of mixed parentage may find their way into his good graces, provided that they’re willing to bend the proverbial knee.

His rearing leads him to value manners, even when dealing with lesser or enemies. Many unwary boys and girls have been fooled by the mask of civility and gentility that he wears, hardly realizing how much he despises them even as he twists his lips into a courtly smile.

That mask is starting to crack. Something has shaken Vance, and it no doubt has to do with the fact that his twin sister, Neveah, did not return to school this year… and with the fact that he’s never seen without a black dragonskin glove covering his right hand and forearm. Whatever has caused him to question his past dealings isn’t entirely for the good, though; he’s still arrogant, still petty, still ambitious. The only real difference is that what he wants has changed.

People either fear, hate, or suck up to Vance; even some of the teacher’s seem somewhat unnerved by him, better equipped as they are to see past the smiling veneer he shows the world. His position in the court he used to hold has weakened, though; he has no true friends, and those he calls such for the sake of appearances can smell blood on the water. They’re more than ready to make arrangements for him to step down...


Vance and his twin sister Nevaeh grew up on tales of a glorious past. Their family, the Abernathy’s, were among the purest blooded still occupying their ancestral lands in what had once been the heart of the magical South. They were part of a dynasty, and went to bed every night with whispers of past grandeur resounding in their thoughts.

Like most twins, there was no one in the world that they held closer to. Unlike most twins, they shared a bond of magic. When they began showing the tell-tale signs of their wizarding descent, the control they displayed was remarkable, so long as they worked together. Their childhood was rather idyllic. While their family’s prestige had faded, their wealth had not, and they had the best of everything. Much of their rearing fell to their paternal grandfather, a very old man who had been regarded as quite a powerful wizard in his younger days.

It was from him more than anyone that they inherited their attitudes and ambitions. He would often go on and on about his time, when Mud-bloods were treated as they deserved to be treated, when the Abernathy’s were respected, kings and queens among wizards. He was open about his past use of the Dark Arts, and sometimes hinted vaguely at plans that had never come to pass, resulting in the current deplorable state of the wizarding world.

Nevaeh was the stronger of the two. Older by nearly an hour, she always took the lead, and there was nothing she couldn’t convince her younger brother to do. She’d toss her hair and laugh when he got into trouble on her behalf, but Vance never minded. She was his other half, and there was nothing that could come between them… or so he thought.

Even as first years at Magus Grex (their parents had wanted to have them study abroad, at Durmstrang, but their grandfather stifled that, insisting that the current headmaster was a ninny), they quickly became a part of the Arietem social ladder. Golden haired, beautiful, and wealthy, their favor was constantly sought after. It seemed like every boy in the school wanted to date his sister, and half the girls threw themselves at Vance as well.

By their fourth year, the pair were at the top of the social food chain. Nevaeh was one of the most talented witches in the school, and Vance was no slouch himself. He was an excellent Quodpot player, tall and handsome, and fairly promising.

They had plenty of enemies, though, particularly among Ferre House, many of whom viewed them as little more than polished bullies. It was the truth, of course, but it made no matter to the twins.

During their fifth year, Vance began to feel as if Nevaeh was pulling away from him. She spent more and more time alone, secreted away in study, and she seemed to be making the strangest friends- talented, no doubt, but up until then, she never would have sat to lunch with a Mudblood if her life depended on it. He was slow to question her, but when he did she simply smiled and told him that all would be revealed soon.

The following summer, she and their grandfather finally brought him in on the reasons for her changes. He was astonished to realize that the partial senility that his grandfather sometimes exhibited was entirely faked, and that he’d been secretly training Nevaeh in the Dark Arts, really training her, for years. He began joining in on their training sessions, but always felt as if something were being held back from him.

Having that secret re-strengthened his bond with his sister, and pushed his arrogance to new heights. His sixth year at Magus Grex was marked by cruelty and self-indulgence, and his mixed popularity and hatred were undeniable in their own rights. Nevaeh was still often absent, but he found he enjoyed being out from under her shadow more than he would ever have imagined.

When they went home that summer, emboldened by his own rising star, Vance insisted that she and their grandfather bring him into the fold fully. When they rebuffed him, telling him all in good time, he took it upon himself to prove his worth.

He followed Nevaeh out of the house in the dead of night, into the family crypts. There, he listened and watched as she knelt before dark-robed figures, one of whom he could identify as his grandfather by voice. They were talking about him: about his weakness, about how he needed adulation to survive, about how quickly he would turn on them if he were ever captured or tortured. It was decided that her final test would be to kill him and remove the potential problem that he posed.

He waited outside for her, ambushed and disarmed her. He appealed to their bond, to their love, and at first she seemed to listen. She wept, spinning a story about how their grandfather had been abusing her for years, and when he embraced her, she snatched her wand and the duel began.
Vance has no memories of the details of that duel, only of fire and pain. He woke up days later, in his own bed, tended to by healers. His right arm was completely gone from the elbow down, sheared off neatly by one of Nevaeh’s curses. She was dead, and her grandfather was missing, and when he told them what he did remember, his parents made him swear never to tell a soul what had happened. They withdrew Nevaeh from school and buried her in secret, and arranged for a goblin-made clockwork arm to replace the one he’d lost. His wand had been destroyed in the battle as well, and that replaced as well.

Go back to school, his parents told him. Behave normally. If he revealed the truth, they would all be in danger from his grandfather and those dark-robed figures. He’d be safe at school, with Ander Rockwell to protect him, and then once he was of age, they could decide what to do properly.

Numb and heart-sick, Vance agreed, or at least, he seemed to. Beneath it all, he wanted answers, and more than that, he wanted revenge on the people who had poisoned his sister against him and indirectly taken her and his arm from him. He returned to school intent on getting all that and more.


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Password: Copper Cauldron

So begins...

Vance Abernathy's Story

#, as written by throne
Justin Hardy – Vulpes House

Justin just couldn’t help himself. He was elated to be back. The so-described ruckus, well… with a bit of Transfiguration and Charms work, the lanky young wizard had set most of the unused silver and flatware at the Vulpes table to performing an impromptu rendition of the beloved Disney musical number “Be Our Guest”. Forks hopped about, weaving between the dishes heaped with food with their tined heads bobbing back and forth. Spoons and knives spun gracefully around one another, occasionally colliding with a metallic clatter then falling inert to the table as his spell-work was broken. Plates rolled on their edges, making neat turns at intervals. It was a fairly impressive display, and yes, quite noisy, but he just couldn’t help himself. Brilliant though he was, he hadn’t worked out a means to shake The Trace just yet (not for lack of trying), and an entire summer without magic had nearly done him in.

The Muggle-born students of his house seemed quite amused as he swayed in his seat, using his wand like a baton to conduct the affair as, in a terrible French accent, he sang the song. Students from wizarding families were a bit perplexed, and more than a few were rolling their eyes at his antics, but he couldn’t help smirking as he watched them try to figure out exactly what combination of effects he was using to achieve the feat. It was pretty much the only reason that the bookish-by-large Vulpes were so accepting of a reprobate like Justin; lazy and goofy as he was, he was undeniable one of the finest wizards in the House, and his skills with Charms and Transfiguration paled in comparison to his Potions work.

Throughout his little performance, he did his best to catch two particular pairs of eyes; first Emerson’s, then Felix’s. They, surely, would have appreciated his showmanship and the raucous results it had. It wasn’t long at all before Professor Hutson arrived and “politely” asked Justin to discontinue… which he did, mostly because he couldn’t remember all the words to the song anyway. Besides, he had business to conduct. He’d noticed several of his more regular customers eyeing him since they’d been seated, and since he wasn’t all that hungry, he decided to get business out of the way so he could move back to pleasure. First, he slung a quick, one-armed hung around Bliss, then shot off a quick salute to Teiver. With that accomplished, he slipped from his seat, slinking down the aisle between his table and the Arietem table after slinging his messenger bag over his narrow shoulder.

What followed looked more or less like old friends catching up; he’d clap his hand on a shoulder, or shake hands, grinning and laughing and joking like a fool. Anyone watching very closely would note that vials of various colored liquids were changing hands, along with plenty of sickles and even galleons. The Arietem were his best customers- small wonder, there. When he caught sight of Bellona, he paused for just long enough to blow her a cheeky kiss before continuing on his way. He often wondered why he hadn’t been sorted into that House; he certainly had plenty of friends there. Like most things, it didn’t bother Justin for overlong. He had much more important things to think about.

This way the year. He’d decided it that summer in a fit of loneliness. This was the year that he would finally tell Emerson Caldwell how he really felt about him. This was the year that he snuck or begged or trampled his way out of the friend-zone and into the arms of one of his oldest friends. Wearing a crooked smirk that wasn’t at all indicative of his intentions, he changed course… making his way toward the Cervus table, where his not-so-funny crush could be found.


Vance Abernathy - Arietem House

“She’ll be finishing out her education at Beauxbatons, for the umpteenth time,” Vance drawled, his patience wearing extremely thin. His sister’s little coven was abuzz with Nevaeh’s absence, and they couldn’t quite seem to grasp a year at Magus Grex without her. They have no idea how little she thought of them. They were little more than tools, stepping stones, but even with her gone, they go through these motions, feigning how upset they are that she’s gone. “She’s lucky, frankly. The education in Europe is much better, there’s more… tradition. I’d hoped to transfer to Durmstrang myself, but… there’s something of a legacy regarding Abernathy men and this school, and I can’t blame Father too much for keeping it alive.”

He’d been rehearsing this little song and dance all summer long. It was all he could do not to grind his teeth as one of the little sycophants went on and on about how they should dedicate the first party of the year to Nevaeh, sort of as the going away party they’d never gotten to throw. Generally, that sort of party is called a wake, he thought grimly. Beneath the table, he flexed his right hand, working his thumb and fingers a bit. The craftsmanship of the mechanical replacement was goblin caliber, but he still didn’t trust it, even if the big-eared little things were renowned for this sort of thing.

As he looked across the table, slowly scanning the faces of Arietem House, he could see the way they were looking at him. The way they were sizing him up. Without Nevaeh, his stature in the school was halved or worse. They were wondering if they had what it took to unseat him and rise to the top of the social food-chain. He almost laughed aloud. It was a testament to what was left of his composure and his breeding that he managed not to. Let them have it; he wouldn’t even fight them for such an empty honor as to be the biggest fish in this dismally murky pond.

Could he actually trust them? Trust anyone? Nevaeh couldn’t have been the only student recruited for… whatever it was his grandfather and those hooded cohorts of his had been planning. There had to be others. Being at school might keep Vance safe from the adult wizards who might want him killed, but their student-pawns? Those he’d have to remove from the board by himself.

He watched his peers carefully, looking for any indications of ill-intention. Most of them smiled at him, but their eyes were unsmiling. Vance had no illusions about his status. It was built on fear and respect, not affection. Not a one of these cretins was a tenth as adept at playing the game as he was, though. Not a one of them had blood half as pure.

He was dragged into a conversation regarding this year’s Quodpot team. ”Well, Zinkley is out,” he put in quickly, almost automatically. ”We’ll have to hold a try-out to fill his spot, but otherwise, the championship roster will go untouched.”

”And who says you’re captain again this year, Abernathy? It was starting already. The querent, a brick-faced wizard of middling heritage who certainly could have beaten Vance in a Muggle-fight, was staring at him hungrily.

”Ah, no one did, that’s true…” He took that opportunity to cut his meat, revealing his dragon-skin gloved hand in full for the first time since he’d sat down. With deliberate precision, he dissected the ham he’d taken for himself into tiny pieces. The smile he directed at the other 7th year, Barstowe, yes, Barstowe, he recalled now, was absolutely pleasant… but there was murder in Vance’s eyes. ”But of course, it simply goes without saying. Do try to keep up.” He shone his smile around the table, and most of the Arietem began to laugh on cue. Outplayed and intimidated, Barstowe stared at his plate. Let them come indeed, he decided, spearing a rectangle of ham with his fork and levering it into his mouth.

As the crowd hushed, the Headmaster started his annual opening speech in an elevated podium that looks over the whole faculty and students. Some acted bored while the first years listened with eagerness and doe-eyed looks. Personally, Bellona wouldn't care about anyone talking but she knows her manners and decided to give the Headmaster a respective attention and she was right, it doesn't usually last very long and soon hungry students attacked the food as if they haven't eaten for days. Bellona give each one of the hungry looking students a raised eyebrow, a shaking head and a judgmental look. She waited until everyone was satisfied with the pile of food on their plates. Luckily, Vance and some of her so called "friends" in Arietem were as composed as she was.

She was forking some fresh fruits on her plate when Vance gave a weary sigh and spoke, "She’ll be finishing out her education at Beauxbatons, for the umpteenth time,” Then he paused and continued, "She’s lucky, frankly. The education in Europe is much better, there’s more… tradition. I’d hoped to transfer to Durmstrang myself, but… there’s something of a legacy regarding Abernathy men and this school, and I can’t blame Father too much for keeping it alive.

And inside her mind she couldn't help but agree. She had always dreamed of attending Hogwarts instead of Magus Rex, she would have if her parents haven't attempted to disown her when she challenged them with her decision. She couldn't quite understand why, many years have passed and they still didn't want to talk about their reasons for not wanting to move back to London.

Bellona decided to speak up for Neveah's drones have been annoying the hell out of her as well. They've been talking and asking about Neveah since she saw them again from Summer break, "Ladies, relax. Can you not properly function without Niv? Has she accidentally brought her controllers with her back in France?" She gave them a mocking smile and took a bite of her strawberry. Then all of a sudden Justin started singing and performing for the crowd, Bellona couldn't help but feel sorry for the guy when he suddenly gave her a blow of a kiss. She looked at him with disgust and turned back to the girls.

"Really girls, I'd sooner than not advice you to work on your grades rather than wallow in sorrow for Niv's decision and realization that she is better off at France than in her with you." The blonde girl who regarded herself as Neveah's "right hand" suddenly sat stiff as the others looked at her with shocked look in their faces. Only Bellona dares defy their small group of "society girls", they would let Vance or Neveah talk mockingly to them but never other people. But somehow Bellona always does. She particularly disliked Neveah's little army of whiny girls and in fact she never got along with the girl herself. Yes the Venator's and Abernathy's are particularly close but since she was in diapers, Bellona never understood the fascination of other people with Neveah. Vance is another story, she really doesn't have a problem with the guy. As long as he doesn't harm her she plans to play civil towards him. His aura is a whole lot different than that of his twin sister but she'd rather talk about with other people than her best friend, Summer

Speaking of her best friend, the short time she get to spend with her before the great feast was too short for catching up. Not that she didn't spend some time with her over the summer but because she has a lot to say to share with her regarding her family's short vacation in Rome.

"How was your summer Vance?" She felt like she needed to ask him that. It was part of what her parents taught her. "Father and Mother wanted me to send their regards for your parents. They said that it has been too long since they've invited them over for dinner. They were wondering if the three of you would be willing to have dinner at the house on my parent's anniversary. Just a small dinner." She took a sip on her goblet and suddenly the flavors of rich Italian summer filed her taste buds with tang.

And as she savored the fine taste a small thought had entered her mind, it is indeed peculiar that she hasn't seen a single shadow of Neveah's. She would often see more of the girl than Vance during breaks but this recent has been very different. She shrugged and assumed that she was indeed busy with moving to France. When suddenly almost everyone's attention was interrupted by a wild cajooling from Justin's antics. Bellona rolled her eyes and instead continued to create a conversation with the only bearable person around her, Vance.

"I believe Father and Mother would like to send their regards to your sister and grandfather as well," Bellona smiled towards Vance and spoke again. "Now if you'll excuse me. This feast has immensely made me feel bloated. I guess a little walk would do me good," The girl excused herself and stood as she smoothened her robe and smiled at everyone. A lot of other students started looking at her plate, where a few melons and a few pieces of grapes and pears and looked at her with disbelief. How could anyone get too full from eating a few bites of fruits? But of course, Bellona would rather faint than to care about their thoughts. The left overs on her plate would be an obvious sign that she'd rather walk towards Summer's table than to sit with most of them and besides Vance was getting occupied with a little rift with another student about Quadpot. They can save their drama on their own. "I'll see you later at the Common Room. I have something to give you." She softly told Vance and tapped his shoulder. She turned and proceeded.

Bellona spun around and almost crashed into Justin. Luckily, Bellona's reflexes are as quick as that of Fidus', her pet fox. "Oh goodness, what would Magus Rex allow next time? Circus performers?" With a cold and crude voice, she made herself clear enough for Justin to hear and walked away.

Her newly bought shoes clacked on the marble floor as she sashayed with grace across the Great Hall. She eyed Summer's seat as she directly approach her from behind. When she was at near her best friend she spoke up, "Save me!" She sarcastically whined as she grabbed a piece of chicken strips from the girl's plate. "Seriously, how come your food is some much better than our's?" She chewed and grabbed another. Summer would know she was just being silly, foods that were served are all and the same in every house.


Savant let his gaze wander as the students, old and new alike, started filling their plates. He was always looking forward to his days inside Magus Rex even if he misses his family. One of the reasons why is the food, the comfortable beds and the reality that he is a wizard.

His attention was first caught by Summer Turner, the girl was indeed fascinating to look at. He should remember to ask her out for a pizza one time, one could never know what the friendship might lead to. Next was Georgie, the girl had fire inside her or so Savant usually portrays her in his sketches. And as he turned his head around his eyes landed on Teiver and most especially on her eyes, a nice hot cup of cocoa with her would probably be nice as well. He should remember that.

He was still scanning the Great Hall for a few familiar faces when Justin started singing and making tricks with his wand. Savant snickered and quickly glanced at the Faculty table and wondered what they would make Justin do this time.

He was still laughing from watching Justin's little show when saw the girl from Arietem stand up and walk across the Great Hall and towards their table as she sneeked behind Summer and stole some of her food. Sav never understood how a girl like Summer had managed to have a strong bond with a girl like Bellona. If his friend's name felt all crisp and warm, Bellona would soon freeze everything in her path in an instant. Maybe they were able to balance each other's personality. Sav shrugged and dug on his own plate. He was chewing on his pasta when he turned to two of his good friends in the same house, Emerson and Micah, and asked, "do you guys think of Bellona?" He asked curiously. "I mean how does a girl like Summer manages to put up with her? I'm not saying she's evil but Summer and Ice Queen?" He rarely asks about other people's business but the idea kind of bugged him.

And as soon as he was about to ask his friends a few more questions he heard a few other students arguing and betting about the year's Quadpot Tournament. "Oh shoot, I just remembered do any of you guys want to try out for the Quadpot team this year?". He looked at his friends with high hopes that at least one of them would join him.

#, as written by throne
Vance Abernathy – Arietem House

A cruel smile curled to life on his lips. Dear Bellona. If there was any girl who might have a chance at taking his sister’s place in the hierarchy, it would be her… but perhaps next year, or the year after. She played the game well, it was true; she was a Venator, after all. No doubt her family dinners were just as laden with verbal land-mines as his. She had the ambition, as well. The killer-instinct. The only thing she was missing was Nevaeh’s raw power, but that would come with another year of lessons. He’d seen the girl’s prowess on the archery range, though. Something of a wild card, more useful for threats than anything else, and unspoken ones at that. Arrow wounds would be awfully conspicuous, and he knew the girl was smarter than that.

That was more or less what went through his head as she went through the niceties. He wanted to stand up and applaud after she excoriated the brainless girls who were bemoaning Nevaeh’s absence, but instead he just smiled sympathetically to the gaggle of females while he continued chewing his ham. There had to be a reason that Nevaeh hadn’t inducted Bellona into her little circle. Perhaps she was part of the larger scheme, and so they kept their distance to throw off suspicion? It was cunning enough, certainly, to stink of his sister… but he was being paranoid, rather than cautious, he realized. It wouldn’t do to dismiss a potential ally, not this early in the game.

He didn’t really even have to listen to her to know what she’d said. He got the gist of it, and nodded demurely. ”Of course, I’ll send an owl to Mother tomorrow morning. I’m sure she’d love to attend, and I do so enjoy your father’s way with anecdotes.” That, believe it or not, was true. ”We’ll certainly pass along your family’s goodwill,” he added, reaching for his goblet and taking a long draught of the water he’d decided on.

Then she was saying something about feeling bloated. That coarseness, that was what kept her from rising more quickly. She could trade barbs with the best of them, but then she went and said things like that. It was just uncouth, more befitting a Cervus Mudblood than a proud daughter of Arietem. His smile thinned to blandness, and he nodded. The mention of a gift whispered in his ear caused one of his eyebrows to arch, just so, but he only nodded vaguely in response as she set off. He watched her go, following her movements, and restrained himself from shaking his head when he noted where she was headed. Yes, the girl would definitely need a bit of polish… but then again, perhaps she had no interest in the top of the pecking order.

”If you’ll excuse me, everyone, I’m going to speak to Professor Chambers about the try-outs. I’d like to have this settle befored the end of the day tomorrow.” In spite of asking to be excused, he was already rising, his robes fluttering a bit as he left his napkin on his plate. He turned neatly and strode toward the teachers’ dais, bound for Arietem’s Head of House. He came around behind the table, leaning to whisper to the man… no doubt, plenty of students would be interested to learn what of. Markum Chamber’s favoritism was no secret, and the Abernathy’s were an old and wealthy family. No doubt, it would portend no good to most to see the two of them conversing. Whatever they were speaking of, they seemed friendly enough. He paid a quick visit to Oscar Hughes, the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, as well. Their conversation was shorter, terser, and anything but friendly. The man gestured vaguely toward the Ferre table, and Vance seemed to bristle before he bowed lightly and took his leave…

Heading toward the Ferre table.

Felix was still eating his food when he caught Finn's expression out of the corner of his eye. He stopped eating, then turned and addressed him fully. "The fuck you looking at, Pollack?" Felix said in an angry yet joking tone. Finn was implying a lot with that look, and it honestly made him feel uncomfortable. He turned back, chuckling, to his food. "Hehehe, yeah. But, seriously. If I don't see a Quodpot cup addressed to Ferre House by the end of this year, I'm disowning you as a pressure." He ended his statement with a large smile, as if to accentuate his faux point. He was about to eat another bite of his food, until he heard a sweet voice behind him. "Really boys.. Always about sports." He then felt to arms wrap around his body and squeeze him tight. He held up his fingers and crossed them. He started to mutter out loud. "Please be Wicks, please be Wicks, please be wicks." after the hug was released, he spun around with a happy expression on his face. When he saw Bliss, it turned to one of disappointment. "Aw, I hoped you were Wicks, finally reciprocating my love for him." He then looked up and said in a confident tone. "One day." He then broke down and chuckled to himself. She then hugged Finn and expressed how much she had missed everyone. She then turned towards him. "I haven't had time to miss you yet." She laughed with a soft kick to Felix's shin.

Felix laughed and rubbed his leg. "Easy there, Bend it like Beckham. I know what you mean though. It's been like.....what, five, six days? Just when I thought I was rid of you." He then acted tired and put his head in his hands. Felix then chuckled lightly to himself. He liked messing with Bliss. It gave him a sense of security. Felix had already turned around at this point so he could see Brae and Bliss better. It seemed Brae was questioning Bliss about something, because she seemed nervous. "I.." Bliss then sat down next to him. "We actually ran into each other this past summer. And I guess we kind of spent the rest of summer together." Brae didn't exactly seemed satisfied with this answer. "Just like we spent time together, Brae. I have more friends than just you." A small dark hole started to tear itself into existence in Felix's soul. He quickly put it at the back of his mind. "For now...but soon, my evil plan will be realized and Bliss will only have one! And then there's some 3rd step and then profit." Felix said, joking as usual. Felix liked that she was sitting next to him and that he felt comfortable enough to be himself around her.....sort of.

"I say girl talk in the courtyard!" Whoa, the hell did that come from? Bliss was suddenly leaving, great. "You both are more than welcome to come along. I just thought you both would love to continue on with guy talk.." Felix gave her a smile. "Oh yeah, we have a lot to discuss, like Quodpot, lifting weights, shaving, stuff like that. Right Finn?"Felix looked to his buddy and suddenly realized Finn was leaving. "Dude.......the hell!" He called after him, but he was gone. He turned back to Bliss. "I don't see the guy in ages, we have a 5 minute conversation about Quodpot, then he leaves me high and dry with two beautiful young ladies all to myself......on second thought, maybe it was for the best." Felix said, giving Bliss and Brae the sex eyes. He then laughed to himself.

Suddenly, Felix got a feeling.....a dark feeling. Something.....weird. He looked to his right and saw Vance Abernathy making a B-line straight for him. Great, Felix wondered what he wanted. He stood up and looked to Bliss. "Yeah, it's probably better of you go. Abernathy the tight assed is heading this way, with purpose. Never a good sign. You should probably get out of here before he tries to assimilate you into the fold." Felix said, adding spooky finger waving to the last part. Vance was nearly upon them. He then looked at Bliss with genuine eyes. "Seriously, though. We should get together later. Just because we spent the summer together doesn't mean I'm done with you." He gave her a genuine smile, then turned on his heels and walked forward, finding Vance directly in front of him. They stared at each other for a few seconds before Felix smiled and spoke. "Can I help you with something, Mr. Abernathy?"

#, as written by throne
Justin Hardy – Vulpes House

And just like that, the lanky prodigy was off. He snatched an apple off the Cervus table as he strode away. He’d been about to swing by and tease Felix about a few rumors he’d heard, which had been basically confirmed by sneaking a few glances at him and Bliss, but he changed course and headed out of the hall when he spotted Vance Abernathy, of all people, moving toward his friend. He was in too good a mood to deal with the likes of Vance, even if it was tempting to razz him about his sister’s absence. Vance was a douche-nozzle of the first order, but Nevaeh… well, even Justin was leery enough of her to steer clear.

He remembered distinctly when, last year, she’d been caught in the crossfire of a minor prank war he’d been having with a third-year Arietem. He’d been on his way to class when she’d practically materialized in front of him, jabbed her wand into his crotch, and then smiled and politely asked him to refrain from any further pranks involving the Arietem common room. Any other time, Justin might have quipped something snarky in that situation, but every instinct he had told him that the girl was perfectly capable of unleashing a hex on his favorite body part, and not an elementary one. He’d nodded tersely then bolted instead.

”Good riddance,” he murmured darkly, shaking off the memory. He was in the corridors now, already en route to his destination in spite of the distraction. He couldn’t help but continue musing about the ramifications of her absence. Out from under Nevaeh’s shadow, maybe Vance would develop a soul. The odds were low, he decided, but it was possible, even if only for the fact that he didn’t have one of the school’s most capable witches in his corner anymore.

He cut an abrupt turn down a seldom used hallway that led to the Astronomy tower. Justin had been extremely discriminating when choosing the location of his preferred secret room. He knew the castle about as well as anyone, and so he knew that there were quite a few more exotically hidden areas, but most of those had rumors attached to them, and it was common for third- and fourth- years to hunting for them as a matter of course.

That wouldn’t do, for Justin. He had too much staked in his little laboratory to have some unwary kid stumbling in, never mind the danger involved. No, his hideaway was right on the way to a class, albeit one of the least taken classes in the curriculum after Arithmancy and Divination. He’d worked out an independent study of sorts with Professor Applebome when the prospect of actually climbing up to the observatory proved more than Justin could handle (he’d tried, and wound up having a crippling panic attack every time), so he actually had reason to be here every so often. It was perfect.

He drew his wand when he reached his destination, flicking his wrist artfully. The common lock on the door responded with a click, and after one last cautious look over his shoulder, he swung the door open and stepped in.

It wasn’t more than a large closet, and it was positively teeming with junk. There were stacks of out of date textbooks, star charts, models of the solar system, broken-down telescopes, and even more exotic star-gazing paraphernalia stowed away inside, so disheveled and stacked high that the room was basically full, a precarious tower of odds and ends that for some reason, Applebome couldn’t bring himself to clean out.

He locked the door behind him with another flick of his wrist, and then performed yet another silent spell, this one a bit more elaborate in the wand-work. Seemingly of their own accord, the massive pile of equipment began to silently sort itself out into neat stacks against the walls, revealing the floor beneath. He rapped his knuckles thrice on a small, filthy, circular rug, and then pulled it up. A section of the floor came up with it, revealing a tightly spaced stairwell that spiraled downward. Without the knock, the rug would simply come up if pulled, leaving the floor intact and the entrance to the lower reaches of the tower unmolested.

It was perfect because of how poorly defended it was. In the magical world, one used magic to guard valuables or secrets. All that stood between the students and teachers of Magus Grex and Justin’s private retreat was a single locked door, a tower of crap, and an admittedly clever hidden trapdoor… but that simplicity was exactly what he counted on.

He drew a deep breath as he prepared to descend. Even though he knew it wasn’t very many steps down, he always got a little uneasy on the stairs. In the darkness, it felt a lot longer than it was. He lit his wand, and then went down far enough to close the trapdoor above him. It sealed perfectly, and he undid the spell that had organized the junk, causing it to slowly and quietly resolve itself into impossible clutter once more.

After that, there was nowhere left to go but down.

Vance Abernathy – Arietem House

The Arietem drew to a stop when Felix came out to meet him. He didn’t bother commenting on the convenience of that. No doubt, he thought to protect his little housemates from whatever unkindness he imagined Vance intended to inflict upon them. A gracious smile bowed his lips almost automatically as he looked down at the other seventh year. Vance clasped his hands neatly behind his back, glancing askance quickly. They were far enough from the table to have the degree of privacy this conversation required.

”According to Professor Hughes, you can.” He canted his head back toward the dais. Let Fletcher infer what he likes about what was said, he decided. It could very well be that the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher’s gesturing this way would substantiate what he was about to propose enough that the other teen might actually agree.

There was no love lost between the two of them, that was certain. Nevaeh had always been a bit wary of Felix Fletcher, but Vance had no such feeling. The boy was a self-righteous nuisance, little more, the prototypical Ferre who couldn’t help but stand tall in the face of adversity. Vance hardly had to lift a finger when it came to Fletcher; the staff usually took care of that, when one of his “outbursts” became tangible enough to warrant attention.

He was banking on two things. Firstly, that a humble request would be hard for a noble Ferre to deny. Secondly, that Felix would immediately find his motives suspect, and his curiosity would lead him to see it through. At the very worst, he’d simply rebuke Vance and then make claims that would be astonishingly easy to deny. No one in their right mind would ever believe that Vance Abernathy had gone to Felix Fletcher for help.

”You see,” he continued after the slightest of pauses. ”My future somewhat hinges on obtaining an ‘Outstanding’ on my Defense Against the Dark Arts N.E.W.T., and my own feelings on that subject are that the best defense is a good offense. It works very well in application, but Father assures me it will not hold up for a theoretical examination.” Vance was prone to getting a bit lecture-y, and had the presence that he was seldom interrupted, so he just plowed right along. ”I’d asked Professor Hughes if he had time to work in some extra lessons, and he instead suggested that you, his most promising student, might be willing to provide a bit of tutoring.” A pause, there, to let the full nature of his request sink in.

Fletcher didn’t need to know the truth of the matter. Vance hardly believed that the anti-authoritarian do-gooder could ever be part of the conspiracy his sister had been involved with, but that didn’t mean he was bringing him into the fold. No, he certainly didn’t need to tell him that the real reason he wanted to brush up on Defense was the fact that he expected to find himself the target of the Dark Arts before the year was out. He couldn’t tell Hughes that, either. That man was the least trust-worthy being in the entire school.

He needed to sweeten the pot, he knew, and act enough like himself that Fletcher wouldn’t be inclined to question his motives too much. In an almost bored tone, he continued. ”I can compensate you for your time, of course, in gold, though I imagine you’d prefer a more creative… payment… which I would be willing to comply with provided it not involve letting anyone else know about this arrangement.” Something in Vance’s expression changed; his lips became a competitive little smirk, and his eyes held an unspoken challenge. ”I wasn’t going to ask you, even with Professor Hughes' recommendation, but then I realized something.” Another perfect pause followed. ”In the very least, I know you won’t hold back against me.”

His smirk exacerbated into a somewhat disturbing grin. "And I wouldn't want you to hold back."

Vance's response to Felix's question was honestly unexpected. "According to Professor Hughes, you can." He canted his head back toward the dais. Felix simply raised an eyebrow in confusion. What the hell did that mean? Vance's face was entirely to smug and sure of himself to be asking him for help with something. The pause shared between only strengthened Felix's gut feeling that something was wrong. "You see," he continued after the slightest of pauses. "My future somewhat hinges on obtaining an ‘Outstanding’ on my Defense Against the Dark Arts N.E.W.T., and my own feelings on that subject are that the best defense is a good offense. It works very well in application, but Father assures me it will not hold up for a theoretical examination." Wow......did he rehearse this? This sounds rehearsed......and acted. I don't think Ive ever remembered a time where Vance had sounded genuine and calm at the same time....and now was certainly no exception. He continued. "I’d asked Professor Hughes if he had time to work in some extra lessons, and he instead suggested that you, his most promising student, might be willing to provide a bit of tutoring." Normally that wouldn't be surprising, Hughes had dumped a lot of kids on him. He never really seemed to have time for.......anyone. Except him......on odd occasions, when he would make Felix regulate the Dueling club and duel him in the classroom. He was.......freaking creepy, but there was something about him.....anyways. Normally, Felix wouldn't find this odd....except for the fact that Vance had agreed to it.

Felix looked around, arms crossed and eyebrows up. As if he were expecting a consultant to come out and explain in further detail what was going on. He then looked at him. "........And?" Oddly seemed Abernathy switched tactics. NOW he sounded bored and a little embarrassed at what he was offering......that made Felix even more suspicious. "I can compensate you for your time, of course, in gold, though I imagine you’d prefer a more creative… payment… which I would be willing to comply with provided it not involve letting anyone else know about this arrangement.” Something in Vance’s expression changed; his lips became a competitive little smirk, and his eyes held an unspoken challenge. Here it comes. ”I wasn’t going to ask you, even with Professor Hughes' recommendation, but then I realized something.” Another perfect pause followed. His tech rehearsal must have been a bitch. "In the very least, I know you won’t hold back against me." He then gave an incredibly evil grin that would make even Snidely Whiplash shiver. "And I wouldn't want you to hold back." ................huh.

Felix looked hard at him with suspicion in his eyes. His eyebrow slowly raised, then he spoke. "........No." His face then turned casual and he spun around and sat down on a random bench at one of the tables. He reached back and grabbed an apple and began to much on it. Vance just sort of stared at him. "I said no." he said to him as if he were an idiot. "I know you'd love to have the best in the school, but, unfortunately, you'll have to settle for second nest." He said dripping with his usual tone. He then dawned a very smug grin. "What's that old Arietem saying?......oh yeah. Second place is just the first loser." He smiled directly at Vance, almost daring him to make a comment. "Speaking of second best, why don't you just ask your sister?" He asked, looking inquisitive and taking a bite of his apple. He swallowed. "I mean, the way families who are in the 1% seem to work, it stands to reason that she wouldn't hold back either." He took another casual bite, then spoke again. Not letting Vance get a word in. It looked like a light bulb had lit over Felix's head. "That's right, I heard she's in Beauxbatons, finishing her last year there." He leaned back on the table and spread his legs wide, putting himself in a very poor posture, a grin of self-satisfaction still on his face. The closest students to him were at least a yard away, and the clatter of the Hall made sure no one could hear them. "You know, I find it odd that a girl who entitles herself to greatness and that already has a large following of toadies and sycophants, would leave at the time of the peak of her power, for a place she has absolutely no connection to, to be around hundreds of girls just as rich and even more prone to self-entitlement than even little Nevy........don't you?" He said, faking curiosity and wonder in his tone. His tone implied heavily on something.......something Felix wanted to know. He then crossed his legs and stared at him with an inquisitive smile.

Demetrio’s Perspective

Eying all the students in the hall, Demetrio nervously chewed through a few cookies before sipping at a glass of tea. Bleh, magically brewed tea was never as satisfying as Yoya’s homebrewed Sun tea, but beggars should not be choosers. Watching Justin Hardy play with silverware, and then move from table to table like a slut, Demetrio remembered what he once heard about him: Justin was gay. Feeling no fast issue to believe Justin was gay or straight, having never heard either from Justin's mouth, Demetrio made no quarrel about it. Though he couldn’t help but wonder. Back home in the Sierra Pelonas, the concept of gay or straight was very thin and undeveloped; Demetrio was reared into only one thing: act and behave and think like a man, and everything else will be natural. But gringos had a different way of viewing the world.

A few of Demetrio’s fellow Cervus house students were conversing near, though he had no inclination to engage in conversation just yet. Too soon was the school year, indeed only the first, for him to simply ease into his pigeonholed niche of the boyish jester. A few nervous jokes here, a few faint smiles there. But nothing serious. As for the other tables, students from every year were joyously dancing, metaphorically speaking, with the exuberance of a new school year; at least most everybody. Vance Abernathy seemed solemn and cordially cold, as usual, though he was bothering Felix for some odd reason. Justin seemed to have vanished sometime on. Almost all of the Ferre kids, except perhaps Felix, were never really interesting. Interesting enough, however, Finn had followed a Vulpes girl, Teiver, whom Demetrio admired yet knew she was a tad bit prejudiced, after Headmaster Rockwell's speech.

Uninterested, Demetrio finished his tea and lifted himself from his bench, unsurprisingly not startling anyone around him. For years, Demetrio had earned the reputation of the somewhat annoying Cervus kid who’d go around and share inside jokes with just about everyone, apparently even the teachers. On a few rare occasions, he was able to make Mr. Wicks smile, and Prof. Dahlin seemed to quite enjoy private tutoring with him. For years, Demetrio had attempted to build a relationship with Headmaster Rockwell, though such endeavors were hopelessly fruitless.

Walking through the halls to the bathroom, he spotted Justin at the end of the corridor go off towards the Astronomy tower, apparently needing some sort of astronomical data to eat his food. The halls were quite ornate, embellished with the carvings of Northern California’s natural environment. Large, stone Sequoias lurched over careless bears and peaceful hippies. Yes, Northern California was the antithesis to Demetrio’s Southern California, where the largest trees were fat but not terribly tall, mountain lions shepherded over the various valleys and passes, and the dry yet softly salty air cascaded down over your eyes in the beautiful harmony of ugly and beauty.

Demetrio, washing his hands, heard somebody stride into the large bathroom, with such hurried pace and irritated breath. The stranger, though obscured by the various walls of the bathroom, seemed to have taken care of his business and began to leave, to which Demetrio shouted, “Wait! Are you not going to wash your hands?!” Flustered and hurried, Rockwell came around to the sinks and took the one next to his. “So, Demetrio, ready for this year?” he asked, cold and vaguely uninterested.

“Never, sir” Demetrio replied.

“And why not?” Rockwell asked, magically twisting the nobs of the sink and shutting off the water (lazy!). He looked up at Demetrio and waited patiently, somewhat unusual.

“And why aren’t you ever ready?”

“What makes you think I am not ready?”

“For four, now five years I have noticed this same fact: on the first day of school you come rushing to the bathroom to ‘take care of your business’, though I know you just want an excuse to escape one last time before the year starts up.”

Oddly enough, Rockwell nodded his head, reached his hand over to touch Demetrio’s shoulder, and patted him. Now, amicably speaking, he said, “Well said, Demetrio. Cute, but well said.” And Demetrio knew Rockwell, not being a man to smile or laugh, found it humorous in the best way he could. Demetrio took silent pride in this. Rockwell reminded him of his uncle whom was killed by a pack of wild mutts; Tio Marín was cold and bittered from life, perhaps never seeming to enjoy anything, though Demetrio knew he loved everyone and took pride in the simple tasks that fell upon him. Rockwell seemed to be the same way, bittered by so many years, though generally benevolent and loving(in his own odd, distant way) to the years of students.

“Well, sir, you best be getting back to the table,” Demetrio smiled, “you wouldn’t people to start spreading rumors about us.” Smiling, Demetrio gave a small chuckle to an apparently annoyed Rockwell. The Headmaster replied, “Demetrio, I’m not sure anyone could ever envision you shacking up with anyone, let alone a Headmaster,” gave a small twitch of his mouth(a smile?), and then continued, “Don’t stay out there too long, today, okay? There’s been a nasty endemic of beach troll this Summer, and we wouldn’t want our star healer to be out there on his own in a fight.” And just like that, having surprised and terrified Demetrio with his semblance of omniscience, Headmaster Rockwell rushed out.

Demetrio NEVER spoke a word to anyone of his penchant for healing, not even Prof. Dahlin, whom he loved and admired very much. Rockwell was a mage of uncertain power, that was certainly certain. But what’s more, Demetrio was a bit crushed that Rockwell knew of his times out by the beach. Nobody know of that. Nobody. So how? Demetrio pushed it out his mind and left for the beach, handing a smuggled cookie to Mr. Wicks, who graciously let him walk right out the front door, past the stabled horses, past the special garage where Headmaster Rockwell’s grand carriage was hidden, past Prof. Dahlin’s personal flower garden, past the entrance columns, and out towards the beach. It was about a 20-minute walk from the school to the beach, though Demetrio never minded such a small walk. Back in the Sierra Pelonas, he would often find himself on the other side of the Mountain Ridge by noon and back by midnight.

Finally finding his sacred spot, a small, hidden nook where the beach meets the forest, and the fog rolls over just perfectly to produce a nice little pocket between air, earth and water. Demetrio sat down and attempted to pull of his black cowboy boots, the only reason why he dreaded his boots(nasty little things always seemed to love his feet).

“Yap!” Dieguito was on his way to Demetrio. Having let Dieguito go off into the forest early in the morning to have some fun, Demetrio was quite glad to see his best friend back. The little coyote bolted out from the forest and hopped right on Demetrio’s back, who responded by grabbing his friend and rolling in the sand.

“Dieguito, que pasó?” to which Dieguito yapped, yipped and barked his response to his human friend. Dieguito was more than a pet, he was a life-long companion, with whom Demetrio shared his most inner thoughts. Dieguito, having be named for San Juan Diego, the humble native man who saw the Virgin of Guadalupe, had long been a trusted friend of the Magallón family. The coyote was the symbol of both sides of the family, and most every family witch had been accompanied by a coyote from the same family.

Demetrio couldn’t help but feel he was being watched, as if he wasn’t alone, or some distant eye gazed at him. But regardless, he needed to have this time now. “Ready?” he whispered to Dieguito. Jumping up, gently removed his yellow-lined Cervus uniform, and threw it to the sand near his boots. Dieguito reared his head up and gave a short, squeaky howl, and waited in anticipation for Demetrio.

Pulling out his large, black oak wand, Demetrio still felt like he was watched, but didn’t pay much attention to it. Founding his feet into the sand, he slowly silenced his thoughts. Centering focus from the cold, Northern California environment to the warm, diamond-hard heart within, Demetrio slowly began to let his body form and shift to the push of the wind and the sound of the cold Pacific waves. His hands loosened up and followed in sync to his deep breathing. Tongue to roof, breath through nose, belly expand. With his wand, he helped move the air in and out his lungs; as he breathed in, his hand and wand gently glided to close to his nose, and as he exhaled his hand and wand reached out to follow his blowing out.

Now dancing in a ecstatic dancing of breath and prayer, Demetrio had forgotten everything around. He felt only the sunshine of the Sierra Pelonas, the sweet wind of the mountains, and the peace of his childhood. Silently, Demetrio cast various spells for the year, hoping to improve his health and focus and confidence.

Demetrio heard a snap, jolted from his peace.

“Oh shi…” he had little else to say, seeing the ugly mug of a beach troll…

#, as written by throne
Vance Abernathy - Arietem House

Vance hadn’t expected this to be easy. No, he expected Fletcher to make it as painful, as laborious, as annoying as would be humanly possible, from virtually the instant that Hughes had suggested him. It hardly mattered though, as long as he said yes. There was a brief spell where Vance thought about chucking the whole idea. He could study privately, be even more cautious, ferret out some trustworthy allies. He wondered vaguely if Vulpes’ resident potion-peddlar was capable of making Veritaserum. That would go a long way toward ensuring that he could actually come to rely on someone.

No. This was the best way. Brushing up on his defensive theory with a skilled wizard who hated him slinging the spells was the surest way to protect himself. Perhaps afterward, he could start assembling a few loyal followers to help him cut out the infection from the student body.

Through most of Fletcher’s invective, Vance remained non-plussed, just standing by patiently with his hand and mechanical hand clasped behind his back, watching the other boy and waiting for him to finish up. The mention of Nevaeh hit it’s mark, though; or rather, it hit a mark. Even Fletcher likely couldn’t imagine what had occurred between them, and if he knew, he’d likely never speak of it, certainly not in such a casually cruel way… unless Vance was wrong about the Ferre.

His smile went quite brittle at the mention of his sister. Part of him, the part that vaguely resembled the golden-haired younger boy who had always, always wanted to be as strong as his twin, wanted to let him in on the fact that, in the end, Vance had come out the victor. Another part, similarly buried deep, felt quite ill. The strongest urge he felt was to cross to Felix and put the strength of his goblin-forged hand to the test by seeing how long it took to crush his windpipe.

Instead of doing any of that, he forced himself back toward composure. It was remarkable, how he could swing between thoughts of murder and polite conversation in a matter of seconds. Well, remarkable was one word for it, anyway.

”You have an interesting method of negotiation, Fletcher.” There was no way the other boy had missed his tensing up, so he decided to run with it. Slowly he unclasped his hands, letting his right arm hang at his side. The ebon dragonskin glove he wore was probably worth more than most of his peers’ parents brought home in a month, beautiful really. He slowly flexed the mechanical hand beneath it into a fist, and then unclenched it to play his fingers. It would be too noisy to hear the whisper of the gears, but he was hoping Felix wasn’t too dim to notice the glove itself.

”Agree to assist me, and I’ll tell you why Nevaeh went to Beauxbatons. If you’re uninterested, then…” he shrugged minimally. ”Well, I did try.” His handsome features were once again a mask of genteel charm. Fletcher would only manage to get under his skin the once.

Meanwhile, at the Legion of Doom! (Justin)

Down, down, down. He’d always had the sneaking suspicion that whoever had been responsible for this secret passage was either smaller-than-human or very young. He didn’t have to duck to make his way along the stairwell, but he only barely had enough clearance after his last growth spurt to avoid smacking his head against the bottom of the steps he’d only descended a few seconds before.

After what seemed like forever but was only roughly thirty seconds, he touched down on the landing. The slight trickle of anxiety that had been building during the voyage down evaporated all at once, like the incredibly useless Disappearing Draught he’d invented on a lark. It looked like common water, but when someone attempted to drink it, the potion would just vanish. The Disappearing Draught was emblematic of Justin’s approach to magic: it was well worth forging together incredibly potent effects (the potion’s absence actually relied on a system not dissimilar from Apparation), provided that one could make either a profit, or in this case, a laugh, in the process.

The stairwell and landing were pitch-black. If it weren’t for the blip of light at the end of his wand, he wouldn’t have been able to see his hand in front of his face, never mind the hole. The tower itself was very tall. The ground was definitely a terminal velocity’s worth of falling below, and that was how Justin had discovered the room in the first place. He’d been outside, enjoying one of his favorite psychedelic concoctions, when he noticed what looked like a dark spot on the tower wall. It was so high up he could barely tell, and sort of built into a bevel, but it was definitely there.

He’d nearly fallen in the hole, which led into a ten meter sharply declined chute that would have deposited his bony ass into freefall if he hadn’t hopped over it at the last possible second. The room’s last user had probably flown up to get in; it was just big enough to accommodate someone riding on broomstick. He’d since laid a piece of wood over it, but his stomach still did flip flops whenever he crossed over it to reach the large, heavy door.

It was a fearsome door, the sort of door that was usually only employed to keep particularly strong monsters from passing through it. There had been a few enchantments worked into it when he’d finally made it down, weakened by age and easy enough for him to disarm. He hadn’t bothered refreshing them since. Opening the door by means of his own strength was impossible; really, it would have taken five of Justin to accomplish the feat. He extinguished his wand and then brought it through a figure eight. The mammoth door groaned, and shuddered, and then finally swung inward.

A sweeping gesture set the torches within ablaze, immediately bathing the entirety of his hideaway in soft light. It wasn’t massive by any standard, and when he’d found it, it was barren save for a single cot and a dog-eared issue of Transfiguration Today from ten years before Justin was born. He’d left both there, in deference and respect to whomever had come before him, but had brought an awful lot more in.

There were three six foot long work tables, all of which were heavily laden with the tools of his trade. Cauldrons of a variety of metals, the magical equivalent of Bunsen burners, all manners of flasks, beakers, and vials, and enough plastic tubing to tourniquet a small army. Most of it had been pilfered from the school, but a few of the more specialized items (a rather ingenious magical centrifuge that had been popular in the Nile Valley a few centuries ago, a diamond knife with an amethyst hilt required in several archaic recipes that originated in aboriginal Australia, a monster of a scale that could weigh nearly a dozen items at once separately, and be tuned to indicate proportions, among others) he had acquired himself and smuggled in.

The real value, though, lay in a small hutch that rested in the easternmost corner of the room. That Justin had laden with quite a few protections, each worse than the last. It took him several minutes to undo all of them, and even then, there were three key holes to contend with. One key, he kept in his bag. The second was tucked in his right sock. The third and smallest he kept in a tiny incision he’d cut in his own inner-cheek, an old Muggle magician’s trick he’d read about and then greedily employed. The keys had to be inserted in one sequence and then turned in another, but not before he worked a Bubble Head Charm on himself. The final protection was mostly mundane; upon being opened, the hutch emitted a cloud of aerosolized Draught of Living Death that was potent enough to put a grown man to sleep for a week.

The effort was necessary, and well worth it. The hutch had an Undetectable Extension Charm, and contained Justin’s entire fortune. There was some gold, but that was just his rainy day fund. He had herbs and ingredients in that hutch that he was reasonably sure Professor Hutson would have slept with him to obtain. He’d liberated more common bits from the school’s potion stores over the years, but at this stage, he’d become self-sufficient enough to buy in bulk. Also inside were several stopped vials of some of his more incredible (and expensive) creations, including a single tiny teardrop shaped sample of Felix Felicis that Justin hadn’t decided quite what to do with yet.

He’d needed to restock quite a few of the more common ingredients, and he spent several minutes transferring the jars and boxes he’d bought over the summer from his messenger bag to the hutch. He reserved a few petri dishes of lacewing flies that he’d been dutifully stewing for the last three weeks, setting them aside on one of the tables, and then selected the other items he’d need.

”Now where did I put the powdered bicorn horn..?” he murmured to himself, rummaging a bit before he finally laid hands on it. Polyjuice potion was absurdly useful, and so he tried to keep it in ready supply as much as he was able. He’d made the complicated potion so many times by now that he didn’t even need to measure, and so it was (relatively) quick work for him to get three large cauldrons going. Once this initial work was done, it was only matter of checking in every couple days and giving a few stirs, and in a month, he’d have… well, quite a bit of the stuff.

He also mixed together some more Betterbeer (a tenth of an ounce of goosegrass, two fairy wings, a strand of starthistle, and two pickled slugs to every four cups of butterbeer), enough for about a gallon. The real trick to it (aside from the fact that he was making people drink pickled slug, which was a different sort of trick) was the brewing process. He got to work with a mortar and pestle, turning the base ingredients into a uniform brownish paste, then added it to the end result’s near namesake. It had to be boiled hard for nearly an hour, which was too short a time to bother leaving for, so he decided to work out more of Operation Emerson.

Lying down on the abandoned cot was actually one of his favorite methods of ruminating. He curled up, rolling onto his side and closing his eyes, and just listened to the sound of his Betterbear angrily roiling in the cauldron.

Okay, Justin. He liked the popsicle sticks, well done. Step… two? of Phase One, the Phase of Gifts, should be arriving by the end of the week, but it might be a good idea to hold off on giving him that one just yet. In fact, it’s probably a grand idea to stop trying to organize this into steps and phases. Before that, you should… hmm. Some kind of gesture. Yes. Yes! An action that encapsulates your affection, your remorse, and your ability to not hit on him.

He frowned. But what? What would Em appreciate? He likes dumb jokes, but you already covered that, and his Quodpot fetish will be taken care of with Step Two, so… what’s Step 1.5? What will make a good segue? He sighed. He’d never actually wooed anyone before. Seduction he could handle, but this just wasn’t his weal house. Maybe ask Bliss, or Felix, or Teiver. No, not Teiver. Bliss or Felix. Probably Felix. He’s a lot like Em in some ways, the ways that I don’t really grasp, anyway. Yes. I’ll ask Felix, and he’ll ask me why I’m even interested in Em like he always does, and then I’ll casually mention Bliss and he’ll know exactly why I did it and shut up about Em, and then I’ll figure out how a quirky jock likes to be courted.

He almost felt exhausted, after all that thinking. At least he had more of a plan, now. He rolled onto his back and clasped his hands over his flat stomach, staring up at the stone ceiling. I know I fucked things up, Em, but I’m going to make it right. Just wait and see.

#, 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.

The opening speech was the same as always, but Myra listened intently, giving as much of her full attention as possible. She'd sat by the head of the table, as usual, so as to be near the teachers, should one of them need to talk to her. She tutored on occasion, so they needed her often. Once Headmaster Rockwell had finished his memorized speech, she turned and piled her plate high. Mentally thanking her mother for a fast metabolism, she pulled a book out of her bag and opened it, beginning to read where she'd left off as she maneuvered forkfulls of food to her mouth. She had become dimly aware of Beauty and the Beast being sung along her table when suddenly her fork flew out of her hand to dance along with the rest. Turning, she watched as Justin 'conducted' his impromptu musical. While she loved the movie, Belle had always reminded her of herself, she loved food more. Frowning, she was struck with an intense desire to talk Justin into harnessing his talents, and not for the first time. Not very many students could pull off such a sport (however un-elaborate the charms-work was in Myra's eyes). Taking out her wand, she waited for her fork to pass her again, and when it was in the perfect range muttered "Finite Incantatem," the fork falling promptly into her open and waiting hand. She began eating and reading again, letting the professors take care of Justin's rouse.

She listened in momentarily to some of Vulpes' house Quodpotists talking about the up-coming try-outs and winning the house cup. A short burst of excitement hit her in the stomach, practically causing her to choke on the water she'd just gulped down. She thought of her broom and the practice quod up in her room. She bit her bottom lip, considering whether she'd be brave enough to try out this year, then let the thought go as a blush ran up her cheeks at the thought of being scrutinized. What if she wasn't as good as she thought she was?

Losing herself in the book again, the chatter of all the separate tables became white noise. She lost focus of time and only ever glanced up to add more food to her plate. Vaguely she was aware of Professor Hutson briefly chatting with her. Something about someone needing a tutor for Potions, which Myra agreed to help with, of course. Politely disengaging herself from the conversation, she returned to her book. She glanced up every now and then, when movement caught her eye.

She'd noticed as Summer and Bellona had found each other and had a brief twinge of guilt hit her. She should put the book away and go talk to them too, but then they wandered to talk to Savant, Emerson, and Micah momentarily. There went Summer's very light blush, and Savant's posture changed ever so slightly just now. Myra couldn't help but smile softly at the interaction, and Bellona's minute boredom. She watched as they dismissed themselves and wandered from the great hall. They'd most likely seen her with a book and known she'd catch up with them later, besides, talking to cute, funny guys was not Myra's strong suit. She made a mental note to ask Kaplan to find the girls for her later.

She'd also noticed Bliss' laughter, trickling down the table like a warm Autumn shower. How was she just so perfect? It seemed that at least everyone had stopped by Vulpes' table just to say hi to her, or smile at her. Myra considered that for a moment and shot a short glare at her book. She knew that it was sort of her own fault that she didn't have too many people beating down the door to get to know her, and that it was probably that she always had her nose in a book, but what could she do? You cherished what you cherished, and some people were better at some things than others. I bet if I was on the Quodpot team people'd want to talk to me... The blush returned, so Myra picked up her book again.

After reading a couple more paragraphs, Myra was startled when her consciousness pricked as Vance passed by. He'd been talking to Arietem's house head, and was now making his way towards Professor Hughes. Their conversation seemed less than amicable to say the least, but they both were professional as far as Myra could tell. As Vance turned to leave she caught that look in his eye again. Her heart gave a small throb of sadness for the boy, her lips turning down in a small pout as she watched him. Where did that pain come from? It wasn't there last year, that's for sure... Damn! She ducked her head quickly as he passed by her, hoping against hope he hadn't seen her looking at him.

She decided it was a good idea to return to her book and only emerged for more chicken a page or two later. She conspicuously watched as girl after girl stopped by the Ferre table to talk to Finn. He smiled at them, that warm, tender, polite smile and talked to each of them. He was always so genuinely pleasant, so friendly. Myra smiled in spite of herself, enjoying her candid viewing of Finn's Flock (as she liked to call all the girls who fawned over him.) When his head started to turn in her direction though, she immediately dropped her eyes to her book and "read" as intently as she could. She'd never be able to go talk to him like the other girls, so what did it matter? She watched out of the corner of her eye as he excused himself from the table and left the hall. Was it just her, or did a little warmth leave the room with him?


Some time later Myra sighed, placed a bookmark in The Dream Oracle and pushed her plate away from her. She'd overeaten again, and chided herself as the inevitable "food baby" made itself known. Thank god for robes, she thought with chagrin. Tilting her head to the left she looked down her table. "Oh!" The exclamation left her mouth before she had a chance to register she was making noise. There were very few people left. She looked around, surprised to see how empty the main hall was. How long had she been reading? Better yet, how much had she eaten? Oh dear... She noticed Naire, then, wandering out of the hall with his owl and his camera. Her first genuinely large smile spread itself across her face. Near! Oh, how she'd missed him! They'd spent a week over vacation together, and sent owls back and forth, but that was not nearly enough contact. She wiped her hands on her linen, daintily wiped the corners of her lips, took one last sip of water, and stood. Tucking her book into her side bag, she scanned the great hall again, and waved to Professor Kass, reminding herself she'd have to stop by her office later or the next day to chat.

Hurrying out, Kaplan slinked up beside her, rubbing on her ankles and purring. Scratching behind his ear, she picked him up and followed Near to the Willow tree. Myra smiled to herself at the adorable little owl playing in the water. Setting Kaplan down, she grabbed a couple of owl treats from her bag, then pointed her wand at Near's camera. "Geminio!" she whispered, an exact (if useless) copy of his camera creating itself at the tip of her wand. Grabbing it, she tossed a couple treats to Chopstick, and plopped next to Naire, making clicking noises as she snapped fake pictures of him. "Hey shutterbug! How are you?" She smiled warmly at him as Kaplan immediately curled into Naire's lap, his tail lazily wrapping around his waist.

"Now throw all of your questions at me. I'm ready!" Summer ended her prose with that and Bellona was left silent. Not because of what her best friend has revealed but the fact that the letter in her pocket disturbed her. She couldn't decide whether she'd tell her or not.

She looked away as the cold dry night wind blew, sending her hair in a twirl as it danced with the whisper of nature. "Summer?" She began. "I can tell you anything right?" But it was more of a demand than a question. "Swear to me you won't tell anyone." She then stared into her best friend's warming eyes. Her cold stare met Summer's as she kept of fidgeting with the end of her robes sleeve.

She planned to wait for Summer to answer but soon her braveness escaped her. And then she decided not to show it to Summer. She couldn't bear risking her best friends life, even if the secret wanted to burst out of here. It isn't any of Summer's concern. "I- I met a cute boy in Rome but I still think that- that- well over the summer my feelings kind of decided that- well, I really think Micah's cute," She barely came up with words she'd use instead of revealing her secret. Well she does think Micah's cute- but that's not the whole point why she dragged Summer out here in the cold.

"Promise you won't tell anyone," She pretended to be shy and blushing. She wanted so bad to tell Summer the truth but she can't. Just then a few owls flew by to the tall oak tree and hooted. "Oh gosh, what time do you think it is already? We should get going now. I'm not really in the mood to vex the Prefects if they caught us staying up late." She gave off a smile and stood up. She fixed her robes just like the usual and looked at the full moon. "And I haven't feed Fidus just yet, the poor thing must be famished I can't have her feeding off the other students," She joked dreadly. She pulled Summer up again and lead her back to the Great Hall.

After a few minutes, they stood below the grand staircase of Magus Grex. She gave her best friend a tight hug and bid her good night, "Well I'll see you ever at breakfast okay? Goodnight porky." She teased and walked towards the stairs that lead to the common room of the Arietem where a few giggling girls and two boys talked as the fire crackled.

Bellona let the heavy wooden door close behind her as she stood gracefully before them. She stared until the girls decided that they knew what her intentions were, they stood up- hushing, and then went to their respective rooms upstairs but the two boys remained. Higher years but they were too plain to scare Bellona away.

"Well what are ye looking at girl?" The smaller yet stockier boy asked. Probably a proud first year. Bellona spoke no words and continued to stare. The two laughed as the other one spoke. She knew him by face, a familiar sight she usually see around the common room. "Oh that's Ice Queen. All stares. Thought she might scare us," and that sent them in racous laughing once again.

"Ice Queen eh? Whadya say I'd melt you with my kiss?" The new boy asked.

But Bellona continued to stare, her wand gripped under her robe. "Just a lil kees my love," The two of them stood from their seat and slowly approached Bellona.
And with a quick and unnoticeable swish, Bellona pulled out her wand and commanded, "Silencio!" The two boys found themselves quiet as they rummaged their uniforms for their own wands.

But pity on them, Bellona was quick as her fox as she released another spell, "Stupefy!" And both of them stunned to even moved. "I will release- both of you. But I don't want to see your faces." She slithered towards their stunned body and whispered with a clear voice. "Not in the hallway, not in this common room and if you ever so much see my shadow I want the both of you to turn back and run or your parents will cry on your tombstones," She threatened. She turned back to look both boys stare back at her with fears in their eyes. "Oh don't tempt me, I do know how to use my wand, my bow and arrow and- *wooot*" She whistled as Fidus, her fox came trotting down the stair case and went beside her. "my hungry fox doesn't really have the patience for people like you." Fidus, as if knowing how to play her part barred her fangs at the two boys and snarled.

"Am I clear?" She stood before them and asked, the two boys did their best to move their heads and nod but alas they could not. They mumbled but their tongues hang loose. Bellona removed the charm and instructed the two boys to move their hands up. They did and eagerly nodded as their reply.

"Good! Now scram!" She barked as Fidus went running after the two poor boys.

Now that the common room was empty, Bellona was more calm and secured to pull the letter out of her pocket. She doesn't know what time it would take for Vance to get there but she was determined to wait. She watched the fire as Fidus came trotting back, rubbed her body against Bellona's legs and sat next to her to warm herself by the fire.

Just as Felix had suspected. The mere mention of his sister caused that perfect smile to crack, revealing the ugly creature beneath. They had always had a deep rivalry between each other, the Abernathy children that is. It always seemed that Nevaeh had the upper hand in everything. Felix also suspected she was smarter than her brother, seeing as she saw Felix as a threat and Vance saw him as trash. He remembered the first time he and Nevaeh had ever truly spoken. He had beaten her in a duel and she had threatened him in private with her wand too his balls. It was also the first time he had used his physical training on a girl. He had grabbed her wrist and had broken her grip on her wand and had wrapped her arms around herself and locked her against his body, her back to his front. He then said some very threatening words of his own and then he had released her and 'disappeared', in actuality he had turned into his dog form and slipped behind a couch. He never received a threat from her again and she never told a soul. Felix would have thought that Vance would be jumping for joy at the fact that his sister was out of his way for total school dominance. Yet, he seemed rather morose........did I just use morose in a sentence? I have to stop being near Arietem kids, it;s increasing my vocabulary.

There was something going with the Abernathy's that was more than meets the eye. Not that Felix really cared. He mainly just liked to get under Vance's skin. He enjoyed seeing the high and mighty being brought down a peg. Felix personally that every living soul was equal to one another and that that would only change through someones actions, not birthright. Also, he just sort of liked doing it, beyond his code, that is. Vance was a jerk. Since all the world must suffer jerks, then Felix would make jerks suffer in return. Vance still seemed to act like they were still negotiating. He was apparently convinced that this was a ploy of his to give up information, when in reality, he just loved to push his buttons. "You have an interesting method of negotiation, Fletcher." Felix just raised his eyebrow at him. "Umm, we're not negotiating, I said no. End of discussion. Felix took another bite of his apple.

Vance then raised his arm and sort of flexed his hand in a normal fashion. It took him until now to fully realize what he had on his arm. A full leather arm glove.....that was weird. Why would he be wearing that on one arm and not the other? The only logical reason that Felix could think of was that maybe it had gotten scarred and he was covering it up. Either way, something had happened to it....and it had something to do with his sisters absence........odd. He spoke again. "Agree to assist me, and I’ll tell you why Nevaeh went to Beauxbatons. If you’re uninterested, then…" he shrugged minimally. "Well, I did try." Wow.....that was a very odd suggestion. Why the hell would Felix be interested in that information? Unless......Vance knew it would interest him. Errr, dealing with manipulative people always gives me headaches, there was just so much introverted thinking that had to happen. Every possibility analyzed, every detail......wait, every possibility. Like an opportunity to fully test out my ability on someone who would actually fight back and that I wouldn't mind hurting. I'm going to need the practice if I;m going to follow through with my plan......why not.

Felix stood up and clasped his arm around Vance's shoulders. "Alright, Abernathy. Why not. But, the information will be only partly payment, but the second part will be miniscule, trust me." Miniscule? Man, Ive got to get out of here. Felix had a smug smile still plastered to his face. "Meet me tonight in the North wing next to the statue of the giant dog." he then unwrapped himself and stood directly in front of Vance and spoke quieter. "A dog will meet you there, follow him and he will lead you to me. We can discuss the details there, it will be a much more secure location. Say, around Midnight?" he then began to walk away but stopped. He turned back to him. "Oh, and to not raise any suspicion." Felix then raised his hand flipped him the bird. He then began to walk away.

Felix looked around the hall and noticed most of his friends had left already. He looked about again, seeing if there was anyone he wanted to talk to. Felix then saw his three favorite Arietem kids all together in one place, how convenient. He began to strode his way towards them. As he walked along the Arietem table, he was pretty sure the entire table was glaring at him. He sort of just turned his head and smiled at them warmly. He also gave gestures to a few of them, like Fonzy points and peace signs, like he was best friends with all of them.

Whe he got closer to where Zach, Îrem and Priscilla were sitting, he took a running start. He then jumped up and started to slid along the table on his butt while his feet hovered above the bench. He slid for a bit and stopped just short of knocking into Zach. He then looked down at Zach with a warm smile. "Hey there, Arietem scum." He said warmly, he then tussled his perfect blonde hair. It had always disturbed Felix that the Arietem all seemed to be Arian. He would sometimes call them a regime than a house. He then about faced and plopped himself on the bench next to Zach. He then smiled to the two girls across from them. "Îrem, Priscilla. You two are both looking as lovely and noble as ever. I trust your summer's were divine." Felix had said the last part in a playful tone. "Don't tell me......Aspen? No.....Cabo? No, wait.......Paris? Somewhere expensive I would imagine. How have you all been?" No one could say Felix held animosity towards any one group of people, seeing as he had friends in every single house. He only held animosity for certain individual of groups, ones who had earned it. These three, more Zach and Îrem, had earned his affection.

#, 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.

Îrem’s Perspective

As Priscilla hugged Îrem, she said “Hey girl!”, to which Îrem couldn’t help but give a light giggle. She acknowledge Zack as she sat down and smiled, pretending to not mind Zack’s presence, though really, Îrem could sense that Prissy wanted to say “I do” right there. Îrem didn’t quite know what to think. The trouble with being part of such a large group of friends, especially a House who’s bonds are thicker than thieves, is that oftentimes doves cry so to speak.

“Prissy, how was your summer?” Îrem asked. Prissy had been a name Îrem had used since her first year at Magus Grex, perhaps one of the few ever to use a shortened form of her girl friend’s name. Îrem, although partially robed in the dark green uniform of house Arietem, flaunted her body with her color, orange! Orange dresses, orange leggings, orange shoes, orange shawls… and when she was feeling mighty religious, orange hijabs. But she hadn’t worn one since at least her third year, a promise to herself that she would show of her own beauty until she was married or ugly.

She gave Zack an understanding wink as Prissy looked away for a quick moment, watching Lee proposition Greg Abbots for sex. Ah Lee, Îrem’s other Arietm girlfriend. That boy was adorable (although he denies he is; he also denies to be feminine, cute, sexy, or campy, all of which most girls and some guys claim he is). Poor Lee, always getting himself in trouble.

"Hey there, Arietem scum," Felix said as he played with Zack’s hair and sat down next to him. Awww how cute, Îrem thought, imagining Felix and Zack being cute little brothers. "Îrem, Priscilla,” he said, acknowledging Îrem and Prissy, “You two are both looking as lovely and noble as ever. I trust your Summers were divine. Don't tell me... Aspen? No... Cabo? No, wait... Paris? Somewhere expensive I would imagine. How have you all been?" Har har, how funny, thought Îrem.

“Haha, none of those, Feliz,” Îrem always had problems pronouncing “cks” and “x” sounds. “I went to Montana,” she giggled, knowing their surprise. “My father has a business associate who has a ranch there, we went for the Summer to get in touch with our… simple sides.” The truth is that Îrem quite enjoyed Montana, its rolling plains and all the nicest people. She enjoyed visiting the horses and the solace from the city.”

Lee’s Perspective

As Lee walked back into the Great Hall, he noticed Priscilla, Îrem, Zack, and Felix talking at the end of the Arietem table. Priscilla seemed a little uncomfortable, Zack was shining like a little school girl, Felix was grinning like a punk, and Îrem… Îrem was always a sight to see. Lee had ten minutes before he had to carry the first years to the dormitory. He decided to go sit next Îrem and make Zack, Priscilla and Felix uncomfortable.

He could see some of the third and fourth year boys brighten as he passed by; the lowerclassmen thought that he was hot shit, the upperclassmen wanted to stomp him. He cared for neither, honestly. A particularly ”enthusiastic” fourth year was sitting next to Îrem; he was a cute boy, so Lee decided to squeeze his tiny body between the two on the pretense he was going to flirt with the boy and not intrude on the others conversation.

”Hello preddy ladez; Îrem ya are so gawge’us, ya are da only wom’n who can make me straight!” Lee exclaimed. He bowed his head to the two larger boys, “Gentlemen.” Then he continued on a particularly superficial conversation with the pretty boy next to him.

Seeing Vance close to leaving the Great Hall, however, Lee shot up, startling Îrem(who was quite enjoying a particularly strong and hot batch of Turkish tea) and causing her to spill tea all over Felix(she never let herself spill anything on herself, how silly!)

"Vanz! Wait fo' me!" Lee screamed, allowing almost everyone in the room to chuckle at the young queen.

#, as written by throne
Vance Abernathy – Arietem House

Hearing his name, or a familiarly butchered approximation thereof, Vance drew to an immediate halt. The young Beauregard’s way with words (he remembered Hardy once remarking that it was more like Lee had his way with words, rather than a way with them, and the very faintest of smiles twitched to life on his full lips) was unmistakable. He glanced over his shoulder, locking his pernicious green gaze on Lee, and then cocked his head in the direction of the exit he’d been about to take.

”Please join me, Lee. There’s something we must discuss.” As always, his tone was as chilled and aristocratic as wine in a Venator cellar. He didn’t wait any longer than that, instead simply facing forward once more and continuing his stride where he’d left off. Perhaps I should get a leash for him. His nose wrinkled just slightly. No doubt, Lee would take that brand of gift in utterly the wrong way. While he wasn’t moving particularly fast, he didn’t slow either, leaving it to Lee to catch up with him.

When Lee inevitably did draw up alongside him, he pressed his lips into a thin smile directed at the younger wizard. He’d grown a bit over the summer, but still looked decidedly boyish, Vance noted. That coupled with his behavior made Lee eminently hard to take seriously. He wasn’t aware of anyone who did, at any rate. It was exactly what he was counting on. That, and the sort of unswerving loyalty predicated upon teenage lust.

”How was your summer?” he asked breezily, still bound for the Arietem common room. They could dispense with pleasantries along the walk. The real purpose of their conversation could wait for a bit more privacy. His hands were still clasped behind his back, one pallid flesh, the other covered in gleaming black scale. If Lee gave Vance the same post-summer inspection he’d gotten, he’d likely note the same hint of sullenness that Myra had. Tricky though it was to see in the Abernathy’s aloof demeanor, something had changed in the interval between school years.

Lee’s Perspective

Luckly, Vance stopped near the massive doors of the Great Hall, giving Lee that gaze; the gaze that, in Lee’s third year, made him fall for Vance faster than a drunk Cajun on a bridge. He cocked his head in a particular fashion towards the doors, ornate with images of the first days of Magus Grex and magic of all sorts. ”Please join me, Lee. There’s something we must discuss,” Vance said, a very slight smile that only Lee could designate on his pristine, glorious face.

As Lee hurried closer, Vance continued out the Great Hall and gave little window for Lee to catch up to his… prince. ”How was your summer?” Vance finally said, giving Lee a slight smile. Of course, any sort of smile meant the world to Lee; in fact, Lee had probably catalogue every time Vance smiled at him, those moments Lee cherished most.

“Wellz, I dun wend down to N’aulins,” Lee said, winking at Vance, “as da usual iz. Sdayed wit’ Aunt Leona fo’ about a munt’, and den saw de resd of my kinfolk down in Uptown, bit of a ways from da the [French] Quarduh. My bruddahs and sizduh wend’a Beauxbatons, so id was gerd’a see ‘em.” Lee knew very well that most couldn’t understand his yat, but he liked it like that. In reality, Lee probably played it up a bit. But the thing that often worked against him in certain social groups was also the unique trait that distinguished himself for individuals with a particular liking for boy flesh.

”An’ju, how was ya’lls Summah, podna?” Lee asked, the man he loved just a few feet taller, and at least three times stronger… yes Lee, wanted Vance’s body… but Lee was more than just smitten. Lee wanted to be with Vance, he wanted to be Vance’s boyfriend, and maybe even settle down and influence the world together as a unified dynasty of both the Abernathys of Georgia and the Beauregards of Louisiana. A true Southern revival. Yes, Vance was the culminating cog in Lee’s ultimate goal: the restoration of his family’s power… but Vance was also Lee’s personal goal. Vance was Lee’s forbidden fruit, his Adam, his pristine king. And Lee would swear complete and utter fealty for Vance if only he asked. Funny how Vance had that effect on one of the most arrogant of creatures, but not surprising.

Zachariah Everett

Reposted his earlier post to actually flow with the other post

Zachariah found himself shoving through first and second year students as he tried to push through the wall of the young wizards that instead of moving, stared up at him. "Fucking young-lings." He whispered under his breath before finally making his way into the entrance of the Great Hall. He had somehow managed to be one of the last wizards to arrive at Magus Grex. He looked over himself before making his entrance into the Hall. Not bothering to speak when spoken to by members of other house's, Zach headed straight for his table of witch and wizards he could actually stand. He had noticed the lack of spots now available for the sixth year student to occupy, but the spot he found was more than perfect. He found himself across from Îrem with the rest of company being first and second year students. "Great choice." He mouthed to Îrem with a smirk on his face.

While the Headmaster spoke, Zach found himself looking up and down his table trying to spot the other members of Arietem her cared about; Vance and Priscilla. No luck as he heard final word from Headmaster Rockwell. "How is my dear, Îrem?" He spoke as he let her receive his full attention. 'Hey girl.' With the sound of her voice, Zach knew exactly who was now in the presence; Priscilla. He had managed to miss the glare he knew so well from Priscilla that had caused the first year to quickly run off to an unknown direction. He let an obvious smirk come across his face when she only acknowledge him by his name. "Priscilla." He leaned in toward the girl when he let the word out of his mouth, letting it hang for a second before leaning back into his original position. He knew she liked him, but he did enjoy her trying to hide it. He smirked at the wink he received from Îrem because he knew that she was well aware of Priscilla's crush on him.

Zach now caught himself in the middle of what would more than likely turn into a huge girl talk over the latest fashions and the boys they had met over the summer. He gave a dramatic cough before placing his hands on the table. "Seriously, do you both have to catch up on summer right now? Why not discuss more important things? Like Quodpot." He let his face fall into a very stern look before revealing his intentions. "I'm joking, ladies. Put the claws away." He laughed as he noticed the slight glare to two gave. Hearing a thump to his left, he only had time to catch a small glimpse of Felix before he felt his hair being tossed around on his head. "Thank god for more testosterone." He said as his Ferre friend placed himself next to him.

As the teasing continued from Felix, Zachariah caught sight of Vance passing the table with a nod in his direction. He didn't see any urgency in the expression on Vance's face, so Zach returned the nod before adding to the conversation. "I actually spent my entire summer at my parent's winter home alone." He hadn't had the desire to put up with his parent's parties with the other various pure-bloods, so he found his escape in the home that he knew his parents wouldn't get use out of until the middle of his school year. "It was a nice touch of solitude. Something I'm not used to.. I was close to putting together a pre-school party with everyone, but somehow I just couldn't force myself with the challenge to please that many people. Because you all know how I like to please." He said staring directly at Priscilla before laughing aloud.

Zach caught site of Lee before continuing his thoughts. "But speaking of summers, Felix. How was your's? Or should I say your's and that fiery redhead's from Vulpes?" Zach was pleased by the expression he got from Felix. "Bliss is her name, right?" Hearing Lee acknowledge him, he completely brushed it off before acting like he wasn't there. See Zach and Lee had this public dislike for each other, but considering how close they both were to Vance they became friends. They still didn't like the idea of people pinning them together as friends, so they stuck with the hate for each other in the eye's of the public.


Summer Turner

Summer hadn't planned on running into anyone on her way to the common rooms, and to run into Flint of all people made things so much harder. She successfully hide her frustration with Bellona so well that he hadn't even noticed her heavy breathing at the beginning of the conversation. Now she was leading him off from the common rooms to talk. Had she even really wanted to talk with him? Probably not because she doubted he knew about Bliss and Felix. It was only a few months and Bliss had already managed to be dating one of Flint's friends. She gave Flint's had another squeeze before glancing his way. When she looked at him, she didn't see the same Flint she did last year. It was an entirely new person who had emerged in the boy's body, and she didn't know if they was a good thing or a bad thing. She knew she would soon find out though.

She had yet to feel him give in to the offer to talk until she felt his body come up to her's. "We don't have to talk about everything. Just what's on your mind." She said giving him the faintest smile as she was still in the process of deciding where she was taking them. They seemed to be walking in a pointless direction until she knew exactly where they needed to go. She didn't bother voicing the spot because she knew Flint just wanted privacy at this point, so once she started walking she found her mind shut off from the actually person next to her. As they walked, Summer found herself mapping out the conversation once they got to the spot she knew would be perfect.

Do not bring up Bliss or Felix. Do not bring up Bliss or Felix. She repeated to herself because it seemed that subject was better for a later conversation where Flint appeared to be in a better mood. Hoot. Her eyes shot up at the owl flying ahead of them. She didn't realize she had actually been that much out of reality to jump at the small sound from the bird. She realized this was not the way she wanted their first real conversation to go; unspoken. Hearing no footsteps as the approached the library door, Summer opened it up and slipped inside. She knew most of the faculty had a meeting tonight, so no one should be in the library.

As she let go of Flint's hand, she sped up her pace just in case the librarian happened to stick back a little longer. Summer slipped in and out of shelves until she found herself in the farthest corner from the entrance. The book shelves seemed to swallow them up and it made her feel secure as she sat at the two person table against the wall. "Good enough?" She had ignored what he said so she quickly tried to come up with an answer. 'But you're gonna have to go first. I haven't gotten anything out of you, besides you wanting to date my owl, and your habit of reading lamps and tables. How are you, really?' That was right. He was asking about her. She felt herself sink into the seat before looking up at him. "I.. I'm pretty good." She lied. She never lied, not even to Flint. She placed her hands on her face before clearing her throat. "I'm awful, Flint."

She didn't know if telling him about Bliss was a good thing, but honesty was her best asset when it came to maintaining friends and what not. "Bliss and Felix are something. I don't know if it's actually considered dating yet, but they practically spent the entire summer together." Summer had revealed her crush on Felix to Flint while he was dating Bliss, so Flint knew the pain that she had to be going through. "But don't worry.. Those feelings have long passed." She looked down on her hands that she had just placed on the table. "And then Bellona is hiding something from me. Girl problems." She let out a soft laugh before smiling over at Flint. "Now it's your turn. My problems are very minor, and they have already been dealt with. Now.. What's on your mind?"

#, 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.

Lee’s Perspective

”Very eventful, I must say,” Vance finally said to Lee, moments of waiting between Lee’s question and Vance’s answer. It had seemed so long, that Lee had almost forgotten he was missing his duties as a prefect. But Vance was a million times more important to Lee. Vance was Lee’s achille’s heel, and no amount of pressure from the Headmaster, from Chambers, from the whole house of Arietem, not even from the ghost of General Beauregard himself could pull Lee away from Vance. Lee knew Vance had a little… hate, to say the extreme, for Lee, simply because Lee was annoying. Lee knew that everybody hated him. He was the epitome of a “faggot”, a true and blue queer, just with a Confederate flag and not a Pride flag.

”But all in good time,” Vance continued, reaching over his hand to give Lee’s shoulder a brief, somewhat awkward squeeze. To Lee, it was almost short of a proposal. Lee soaked in this moment, relishing the soft touch that Vance somehow new to master. Vance somehow always knew how to apply the right amount of pressure, the right amount of warmth, however false it may have been. Lee suspected he was being played, but didn’t give a damn. The man he loved… he acted like he cared and that was enough. Lee, caught unawares, melted in Vance’s hand as he heard him say, ”This year will turn out to be just as eventful, I think.” Lee, attempting to hide an obvious party-invitation in his pants, gazed off in the distance and imagined Vance giving Lee a slight wink. Dammit, Lee thought, another cold shower tonight.

Lee noticed the lack of humanly twitches and reliefs that even Vance usually sported, though tonight was different. He was as a stiff as a gator in the bayou, and even the cold, refreshing homeliness of the Arietem commons provided Vance any semblance of relief. Now, Lee was worried. Now, Lee had forgotten any amount of his own emotions(despite still sporting quite an obvious erection), and inspected Vance as closely as possible. The boy of his dreams was… not necessarily bothered, but definitely different. Not as warm, even colder than normal Vance. It was odd.

Vance sat down across from Bellona, close enough to be warm, far enough to maintain some level of whispering between Lee and Vance. Luckly, there was a chair next to Vance that Lee immediately assumed. If Vance sat in a throne, Lee would proudly sit behind him (at least in Lee’s delusions). ”What a tiresome evening this has been,” Vance remarked, appearing drowsy and somewhat content, though still not at ease.

Lee whispered to Vance, ”Vanz, wad’ya ne’d me a’do?”

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.

Fidus' ears began to shot up as a two pairs of footsteps approached the common room, the Fenec fox gnarled and stood it's ground as the two shadows approached them, "Down Fid'" She whispered and caressed its thick and velvety fur causing the small fox to calm yet it maintained it's hunting sense just like a real Venator. Bellona had not really expected Lee's presence, the meeting might not go the way she planned it will be.

What a tiresome evening this has been,” Vance sat across her while Lee took his seat like a faithful servant. Why does Vance have to act like a royalty? He must have known that their little rendezvous requires some privacy, the secret must not even reach Lee's ears despite or in spite the fidelity he has sworn to the Abernathy boy. Bellona stared in response to Vance's words and spoke as if the other boy was no where in sight. "Must you bring a stranger? I'm thinking you wouldn't want anyone to see my small gift. It isn't really something to be shared to other people." She hinted some sarcasm and raised her left eyebrow coolly.

”Vanz, wad’ya ne’d me a’do?” A feeble yet audible whispered question came from the French boy as he leaned towards Vance and asked.

"Really Vance, this isn't a matter for the little boys and girls, I suppose you ought to grant this meeting some more privacy than what we have right now," She played with the letter envelope with her fingers, edging the sides one by one and exposing the broken wax with the Abernathy's sigil on it. Though if you want him to know what's in store then I guess I can't really do anything- But do you?" She asked coldly and continued to pet Fidus' small head while the Fennec fox stared at Lee with it's sharp eyes.

Caden Wahl

After the headmaster's speech Caden grabbed a few bits of this and that before leaving the din of the Great Hall for the solace of the Arietem common room. The castle was empty, silent as he meandered through the corridors, his footsteps echoing off the walls. Once in the common room he retrieved this year's Charms book and flipped through the last few pages, making sure he had already read up on the material before classes started. He found his favorite chair, pushed back in a lonely corner, and that's where he stayed while one by one or sometimes in twos, threes or fours, his housemates filed into the common room. When Bellona entered he was a bit startled at first by her vicious treatment of the few other kids in the room but he stayed put, outside of her view. Something was up and he wanted to see it unfold.

It was when Vance and Lee came into the room that she put on a smug look, one that definitely meant trouble and possibly a show. Caden was pretty familiar with that look, Bellona often made trouble in the middle of the common room and often they were public affairs. Besides Caden always watched his housemates warily, while they claimed to look out for one another, he preferred to watch out for what they might do next. From his vantage point he could see very little and though he usually wouldn't care for this sort of senseless drama, this was a new year and besides even Bellona seemed more excited than usual with her tidbit of knowledge.

The way they spoke, all three of them, was painful to hear. Lee's accent always immediately reminded him of a trip down south, the murky sulfuric swamps supposedly filled with old magic fit perfectly with Lee's backwoods drawl. The other two, however; their pretentious banter could drive anyone mad they wasted so many words beating around the bush and shuffling through pleasantries. She insisted, in her stupidly polite way, that Lee should not hang around for whatever she had to say to Vance, all the more reason for Caden to stick around. He was already pretty comfortable and had every right as an Arietem to remain in the common room. He wordlessly cast a concealment charm around the chair, it was weak of course, but if they weren't looking for him he wouldn't be found.

#, 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.

If anyone would think that Bellona was a stupid fool, they should think twice. The ambience between the Abernathy boy and the Venator girl was heavy and thick with malicious glints in eye and smirks. Somehow, Bellona couldn't quite figure why Lee had to even be asked to go away when he wasn't invited in the first place.
"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.”

Bellona sat up straighter, her chest proud and her chin lifted as if she was going to sing an opera. Fidus on the other hand jumped off the velvet couch and stretched, it let out a small yawr and rubbed its body on her legs until it decided to pass by Lee like a hunter and roamed off around the common room. It hopped and caught a spider and pounced it with it's small paws and continued to roam, finding something else to entertain her when it heard a small squeak, a mouse hole just right beside where Caden Wahl was supposedly hidden with a charm. It sneaked and waited for it's prey to come out of the hole.

Bellona continued to toy with the letter when a sly smile escaped her lips, You wound me feelings Vance, did you really think that I'm that easy to fool?" She stood up and brought out her wand, perfectly lined and symmetrical made as if it was a machete made for hunting yet as cold looking as hard steel. She then swished it and spoke, "Muffliato!" And without even bothering of Lee was still there she kept her wand and brought out the letter. She trusts that only Vance could see what was written.

Bellona took her seat once again, this time not caring if anyone else would walk in even if they are having a conversation. She had read the contents of the letter more than 10 times already yet every time she does it again, goosebumps fill her skin and makes her throat parched.

It read:

"Dearest Bellona Venator,

It has been a few months since we saw each other. It would be well if you send me greetings to your parents and mention that I miss your father's jokes but all the more you mother's cooking.

But I shall keep this letter short and simple my dear,
You see I've seen some good potential in your talents as a Pure Blooded Arietem.
One could not deny that you are truly a Venator. "

At that point, Bellona could have thought that Neveah had bothered writing her a letter over the summer. But as she continued to read the letter, anyone who would read the letter would be surprised.

"You see- there is so little time left in my life young girl,
It seems to be that old age doesn't come easy, especially when it comes to physical things like Dueling.
Yes I do know a list of charms that you kids would dream knowing
But I believe some tasks are left for younger people like you.
You must be wondering why I'm writing to you- when I have two grand children.
Neveah however is- not with us right now while Vance- well the boy I think spends too much time under his mother's skirt.
If you are further interested in what I have to say- send me an owl.
But do not speak of this to anyone.
I'd appreciate if you would burn this after you have made your decision."

Then it was signed with simply with the Abernathy patriarch's initials, Vance's and Neveah's grand father, then was sealed with wax and mounted with the Abernathy Sigil.

She waited and watched to see how Vance would react. She remembered how the hair on her nape had all stood as she read and re read the letter. Why would their grandfather want to meet with her? Perhaps Vance has the answer.

Just then her concentration was interrupted when Fidus yelped and started scratching the wall. It was like it was trying to get at something. Bellona stared but couldn't quite know what has happened to her fox. "Fidus?" She called but the Fennec fox continued to scratch the old wooden wall, leaving marks.

Savant kept on circling the gem he had drawn, trying to figure what it was that he saw earlier when his thoughts were interrupted by a gasp. The boy, quick as a threatened snail, closed his sketch book and looked to see who was peaking. When he saw that it was Emerson, he opened it again and gave off a sigh of relief. "Man, you've gotta stop sneaking up on people. It's creepy!" His voice, though soft, was clear and crisp as the fire crackling by the common room of Cervus.

He continued to sketch but then paused and looked at his friend and spoke, "I saw something peculiar earlier. I'm not sure if it was there all along or the couple took it from somewhere." He was obviously referring to the subject of his sketches. "What or how do you think they looked like?" he asked, doing another probable face sketch for the woman. It was the woman in the painting that he barely had a look at, even if it stood sideways. It was always that a part of her picnic hat had obscured the viewers from looking at her face and it was always the man who spoke to the students (with his back facing them) while she just giggles, or whispers to the man or even ate.

"Come to think of it, I haven't heard her say one word to us," he brought up the thought even if it was silly to spend so much time thinking about such things.