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It's summertime in Scotland; the weather has begun to clear, and the flowers are in full bloom! Now is a time for bonfires, stargazing and long nights spent with friends and family! Welcome to Wizarding Realm- an AU Harry Potter role play set in current day hogwarts!
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 we must hold Tweek and Craig with the highest hONOUR!, smolstice(;^ω^)
Ruthie · 15 · 5th · Viridian Guild · Muggleborn · 5'3
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Jan 8 2018, 10:42 PM   Link Quote
A wave of steam rose in the entrance corridor, billowing around the short statured Slytherin who stood by the door. No matter how many gallons of Pepperup potion he had consumed by this point in his young wizarding career, he didn’t think he’d ever get used to the stuff. This winter, as pretty much any winter before it, had come with a never-ending series of colds that successfully pelted him, one after the other. Living in a fooping dungeon didn’t do much for his already piss-poor immune system, nor did frolicking in the woods after a God damn fawn with Norway’s own Steve Irwin. It was about a week or so ago this all resulted in a full blown flu, knocking the sickly snake on his tuckus for a couple days. Though the kid had to hand it to modern magical medicine! A side effect of smoke wafting from your ears seemed at least a step above the alternative. Now, the final dwindling of his latest bout of illness left him with nothing more than congestion and a runny nose.. which for Lenny, was par for the course. No doubt another virus would attack him soon enough, but for the time being, the potion was really more to air on the safe side. After all, he had a lot of work to do today!

And for once, it was almost like.. what a regular teen would do.

To anyone who knew him, or ever had the displeasure of landing on the wrong side of one of his sorted schemes, the fact that the self-proclaimed business guru wasn’t among the hordes of students looking to hawk their wares or services at the Winter Festival would’ve come as a complete shock. But it was tempting. When the prefects had sent out the invitations to the school, Lenny could feel that all too familiar sensation course through his lumpy frame. Like an itch that couldn’t be satiated, starting from his navel and slinking through his torso and arms until it reached the tips of his sterilized fingers. How wasn’t this a perfectly tailored platform? How wasn’t this practically made for him? The exposure, the crowds.. the competition. The feeling of turning down this opportunity wasn’t much unlike what he imagined castration must feel like.

Yet, that wasn’t what kept him up at night in the past few weeks. The day itself had certainly plagued his mind, in a sense that he felt he might explode if he had to wait a second longer for it.. and one that he dreaded. His brain played a game of flip-flop, seemingly along with his body as he tossed and turned in his bed. Flip! This is going to be the most magical day in the history of days! Flop! Unless I completely bone it.. Flip! I will not be a weirdo, I will be smooth and most importantly, she’ll be there. Flop! Am I gonna lay a turd in my pants? Iiiii can feel some poop coming.

Everything had to be perfect. It all had to go off without a hitch. If that meant sacrificing a few — possibly hundred.. oh Christ, don’t start calculating now — galleons, then so be it. It was well worth it. That’s not to say it didn’t claw at his insides, just a little, every time he overheard one of his enthusiastic classmates divulging their plans for their market stall. As if any of these shitwits know a single solitary thing about business! Where’s their market development strategy? For the love of Richard Branson.. where’s their capital gain!? THEY’RE GONNA BLOW THE WHOLE DAMN SYSTEM TO SMITHEREENS. He could feel his back teeth grinding to a nub, his knuckles white hot overtop of his quill. It was only when he pictured her, envisioning the two of them walking to the little wizarding village together, that the acid in his stomach lining cooled from a boil to a simmer.

Flop!

And then she was crying because of something stupid he said.

Everything had to be perfect. No more dancing back and forth. No more one step forward and ten thousand steps back. The day was here. This wonderful, beautiful, dear God please don’t blow this.. day. Lenny shivered slightly by the entranceway. Despite still being inside, he could already feel the outside seeping into his layer of clothes, which were, quite frankly, just not enough. Oh, for a normal person it would be, but whereas the pathetic excuse of a boy would usually wear seven jackets, today he had only opted for one. Perhaps not the best choice, given his feeble status and lack of talent with a warming charm, but.. sacrifices had to made. Another of which walked by him in the form of a pair of students, carrying their goods and signs for their stalls while they nattered away excitedly. Ah! There was that warmth — rage. But no, he blew it out in a puff of crystallized air. Because he was starting to learn some very important things.

Somethings were worth more than money.

And somethings were warmer than anger, “You’re here.” There was a note of relief that accompanied this, as if he hadn’t expected her to show up. This was mostly uncalled for, as she wasn’t late. In fact, she was early. He had just happened to be earlier, wanting to make up for his tube trouble when he had met her that summer in Diagon Alley, “I mean, not that I wasn’t expecting you to be.. because of course you’d be here! Why wouldn’t you.. Why wouldn’t I…” no. No. He wasn’t going down this road again. I will not be a weirdo, I will be smooth, because of course, Gretchen was there, “You look nice.” Perhaps an odd thing to say, as the little witch didn’t look much different than she usually did.. I mean, I assume. I haven’t seen a polyvore yet. She could be wearing a gd suit made of velcro straps and Jeff Goldblum memes. Either way, the pretty pureblood actually always did look rather nice, and in that moment, Lenny didn’t feel that weird saying it.

“So, uh, shall we.. ugh,” he waved a particularly hefty blast of steam that pumped from his ears away, “Sorry, that should, uh.. knock it off soon,” he hoped, “So are you, uh.. ready to foray into the..” he turned toward the door, once again feeling that chill creep onto him. His right hand subconsciously found itself tightening around his left elbow, “.. great outdoors.

Somethings were just worth it.

Tagged: @Gretchen Kirke-Faust
Outfit: LOL I MADE THIS LIKE 3 WEEKS AGO i'm such a loser

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Robin · 15 · 5th Year · Viridian Guild Leader · Pureblood · 5'
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Jan 16 2018, 09:32 AM   Link Quote
For once, Gretchen had been up early. It seemed the prospect of their Hogsmeade day occupied her thoughts even when she wasn’t awake. Ever since their confrontation in the dungeons, she’d mulled it over in her head a thousand times, every time finding more things to regret, things she wished she hadn’t done – like crying, or breaking her potion bottles – and things she wished she hadn’t said, like… almost everything. It had been a shameful display all around, and that Lenny said he liked her was something she felt she should be grateful for rather than something she deserved. Yet gradually, as the days crept by and the Hogsmeade weekend drew closer, her guilt, fears, and the uncertainty about where they stood were slowly replaced by excitement – which was a bit embarrassing but still a better feeling … a hopeful feeling.

Although the girl’s morning had been longer than anticipated thanks to the jittery feeling that had awoken her, she’d still spent all of it getting dressed and doing her makeup and hair. This because for the longest time she had just stood in front of her wardrobe, indecisive – not a problem she usually faced. Gretchen liked her clothes, as peculiar as some of them were, this wasn’t something that had bothered her before. Now everything filled her with doubt – to the point that she took out some of the dresses that were reserved for formal occasions. Holding one out in front of her and looking at her reflection in the mirror made her feel stupid. What had happened to her? Quietly reprimanding herself for acting so foolish, the witch ultimately took out a sweater, woollen tights and a skirt that fell past her knees. Once she added her cloak and scarf, it was exactly what she would’ve worn on any other day if it was cold outside and she was going to Hogsmeade. With one exception – the small black purse with cat ears that Lenny had given her for Christmas.

There was no need to rush, because she was early, but she still hurried down the staircases. Gretchen was never a slow walker, always going straight to her goal with quick, steadfast steps, but today it was like she was trying to outrun her nerves. Her kneazle-cat looked disgruntled as he followed, though it wasn’t because of the pace, but rather that her cloak, scarf, and mittens indicated they were going outside, and the cat wasn’t a big fan of snow, or cold, or wet,… Actually, if it was up to Billy, they would sit in front of the common room’s fireplace all day, but alas. The tuxedo cat’s day wasn’t going to get any better once he realised what they came down for – or more appropriately, who they came down for. Billy grunted in annoyance when he spotted Lenny Plunkett by the door – great, this meant he couldn’t be too close to his witch or the boy would randomly convulse. The kneazle-cat didn’t exactly know what Lenny’s problem was – but he was intelligent enough to notice the issue, and to stay out of the young wizard’s direct vicinity. Oh well, at least there’d be mice to catch at Hogsmeade, so that’d entertain him.

Gretchen slowed down as she approached her classmate – everything seemed to slow down, actually. The knot of anxiety in her chest dissolved and once she was in front of him she was surprised to find she could speak normally. “Hey.” – Really, ‘hey’? Well, what was she supposed to say? She froze, the soothing calmness that had befallen her when she joined him was threatened by a rising feeling of alarm – what if she had nothing to say? What if he didn’t have anything to say? Then Lenny spoke and all of that melted away. The Slytherin awkwardly stumbled over his words before he grabbed a hold of himself, and suddenly this wasn’t scary anymore. It was familiar, like the carnival last spring and their visit to Diagon Alley in August. Those good memories pushed all the bad ones away, if only for this moment, and Gretchen smiled in relief. She couldn’t help it, her lips curled upwards and her cheeks dimpled of their own accord. Her heart felt lighter than it had in weeks. “Thanks.” And to think she had worried about her clothes.

The smile faded and her eyebrows knotted together in concern as the witch recognised the side-effects of a Pepperup potion. “Are you sick?” Her gaze followed his to the door, where her cat was already impatiently waiting. She could already feel the cold behind it, drafting in through any crack it could find. “I- hah, yes, yes I am. But…” Her eyes travelled back to him, the concern visible in them as she remembered how susceptible the ailing Slytherin was to bouts of sickness – five years of classes together, someone observant was bound to notice some things. Gretchen had never been a sickly child herself – though the abundance of magical potions in her childhood obviously gave her an advantage – so it hadn’t been something she had to worry about before. “You’re sure you’re good to go outside?”

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@Lenny Plunkett
It's not a suit made of velcro straps and Jeff Goldblum memes, sorry :c

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Ruthie · 15 · 5th · Viridian Guild · Muggleborn · 5'3
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Jan 21 2018, 10:41 AM   Link Quote
And there it was, one of the many things that would make subjecting himself to the sub-zero temperatures, and not for the sake of salesmanship, worthwhile. It was something he hadn’t seen in awhile, but something that had left a permanent indentation on his brain. Almost the same as the indents in her own cheeks, proof that the soft little smile that played around her deep purple lips was real. Lenny’s stomach gave a flip, as it always did, like a squeee was stuck inside him that he couldn’t let out. This was what he imagined people felt when they watched hours of adorable animal videos on youtube. Having never been a fan of any creature, big or ridiculously cute and small, this had never done a thing for him. But if he could watch a ten hour loop of Gretchen smiling, just like this one that complimented the pleasant roundness of her features — as if Botticelli had painted a Disney princess — he would greedily indulge himself.

A shy smile of his own found its way onto his face, as he had to look away, lest his head explode. A heat was travelling up through his neck and cheeks, and due to a sudden giddy dizziness, he was fairly certain it had nothing to do with the Pepperup potion. As the steam continued to billow out of his ears, along with it rose a concerned question from the very source of his giddiness. Lenny looked back over to Gretchen, the smile that had caused an extremely rare blush to colour his chalky cheeks had been replaced with a worried expression, one that furrowed her brow in a knot. And for a moment the sickly snake felt a bit guilty.

Because, for a moment, he had enjoyed it.

Alright so this was the thing. He had never wanted her pity. Wasn’t it those infamous Gretchen pity points that had drove him to outbursts of raging rants in the past? This, however, was something completely different. This was a genuine concern for his wellbeing, and while he didn’t want to be the cause of any distress for her, he couldn’t help but revel momentarily in the fact that she actually cared. He couldn’t recall a time when anyone had ever expressed this type of sentiment to him before, beyond his father, of course. But for it to be from one of his own peers, and beyond that, one that he — and he was having less and less trouble admitting this — rather quite fancied, was beyond anything his emotions were really ready to handle just now. Was it so terrible that, if only for a second, it made him feel like a person.. who mattered? Although the disturbance it was causing the uneasy eagle was also a bit troubling. Plus, he didn’t want this to be a reason that this day he had been waiting for, while simultaneously dreading, would end before it even had a chance to begin. He had to nip this in the bud.

“No, no, I’m not..” he started with a soft reassurance, “well, I mean.. I was, but… I’m fine now. Honestly.” He leaned into her slightly, with a nod to confirm this, before pulling back. When she questioned again whether or not he was good to go outside, a slight panic started creeping up in him. All he wanted was this. He wasn’t going to let the last dumb dregs of some stupid cold, or the risk of catching ill again — which was inevitable no matter what he did anyway — get in their way, “Yup, yes, for sure,” he nodded his head vigorously, the side-effect smoke of the potion waving along with him, “This,” he pointed to his steaming ears, “is really just.. a preventative measure. You know.. being proactive, thinking ahead!” He tapped his head on the temple, wondering if that kind of thought process might turn her on…

… Perhaps he should just keep his focus on the day ahead.

Lenny turned toward the door, a boot raised to take himself in that direction and heroically swing it open, as heroes are so often known to do. However, the sight of the tuxedo kneazle-cat waiting right by it found that very boot lowering back into place. If Gretchen was already worried about him being too sick to go outside, then choking on dander probably wasn’t going to do him any favours, “Err.. eheh.. if you don’t mind..?” He smiled apologetically, indicating his head toward the door where her beloved Billy sat. Once the Ravenclaw had opened the door, the blast of chill from the outside grappled around Lenny’s entire body, as if being squeezed by two massive, ice-formed hands. Automatically, his arms wrapped around himself as the shivers started up his spine. He had to keep his teeth clenched together, to keep them from chattering, but this was it. As soon as the feline was out the door, Lenny joined alongside Gretchen as the two ventured into the great outdoors. (THUNDER CLAP!)

But damn, he’d be outright lying if he didn’t admit that he was absolutely baltic. The quivering Slytherin zipped up his jacket to the very top, making his scarf bundle and push against his face as he buried the lower half deeper into it. Then he lowered his hood, and pulled the strings in tightly. Now all that was visible was his eyes. This… helped somewhat, in the sense that a band-aid would help if you’ve cut off your arm and you’re profusely bleeding out. He needed not to focus on how frozen he felt. He needed to focus on why he was here, “S-so!” His voice came out muffled from behind his scarf, shaking alongside his body, “Have you ever been to a Ch-Christmas market before?” Their boots crunched along the snow in time together, and it occurred to him if he was this cold, then she could possibly be too. After all, weren’t women supposed to run generally colder than men? Or was he the odd exception to the rule, “Are you.. c-cold?” Of course, she could always be using a warming charm. That seemed to be how most of the purebloods of his house survived in a damp, chilly ass dungeon all winter, while he froze his talentless tuckus off. Though he wasn’t sure how good Gretchen was with charms. For the most part, the only spells he had seen the young witch perform were almost rather destructive, although arguably protective. Really though, he just assumed she was good at everything.

Well, whatever the case may be, Lenny found himself sidling closer to the small girl as they walked, their arms just ever so slightly brushing each other on certain steps. Body heat was a thing, right? And either way, they both might just feel warmer walking like this.

Tagged: @Gretchen Kirke-Faust

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Robin · 15 · 5th Year · Viridian Guild Leader · Pureblood · 5'
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Jan 28 2018, 04:59 PM   Link Quote
Lyx gave permission to stop by the White Monkey Tea Emporium ^^


The frown that creased her forehead stubbornly persisted, and an eyebrow raised slightly as Lenny insisted everything was alright, but the smile from before found its way back to her features, forming an expression of mixed concern and amusement that Gretchen didn’t fully understand herself. Her eyes lingered on every small gesture, the nod, the wave of his hand as he indicated the side-effects of the potion, the tap to his temple. The worried wrinkles on her face smoothed out slowly, leaving her with the vague smile. She only noticed they had been pointlessly standing there when Lenny explicitly requested her help in opening the door. “Oh, right,” She said as if waking up from something, heavy eyelids lifting ever so slightly. A mitten-clad hand dug into her cat-eared purse, found her wand, and opened the door with a flick of her hand. “Go on,” the witch addressed her cat, with a little jerk of her head to indicate the outdoors. One could almost swear that the cat rolled his eyes before lifting his big, furry butt from the ground and setting off – carefully, and surprisingly graceful in the way only felines can be, following the path that numerous footsteps had created before him and avoiding the untouched snow as much as possible.

Gretchen pulled up the hood of her cloak as they stepped outside, the cold biting at her tights especially as if it found the weakest link of her outfit there, and was determined to find its way to her skin through any gaps in the wool it could find. A simple gesture made it better – she closed her midnight blue cloak in front of her, its enchanted fabric warding off the cold. It covered everything but her pointy black boots and her face, as her bronze and blue Ravenclaw scarf was wrapped around her neck a few times. The rest of the House colours disappeared underneath the cloak. Inside her sanctuary of warmth, she slipped her wand back into her purse. The sound of her steps alternated between her heels tapping against the stone path, and the pleasant crunch of snow underneath her boots, as the two students made their way to Hogsmeade.

She tried to think of whether she had gone to a Christmas market before, while she mulled it over her head angled slightly up as if the answer was up there in the air somewhere. Did Yule festivities count? “I don’t think so… What do people do at Christmas markets?” Her breath escaped from her dark lips in little puffs, visible in the crispy cold air. “Have you?” She glanced at her companion, who hid behind his sweaters and jacket like she did with her cloak, but seemed to shiver in spite of it. “I’m…” The cold nipped at her nose and cheeks, and occasionally her ears whenever a chilly breeze found its way into the hood, but aside from that she was relatively comfortable. “I suppose it is rather cold, yes. Perhaps we can go somewhere warm.”

The Christmas market was bustling with activity already. Both students and locals had set up stalls around the market square and adjoining streets, their multi-coloured canopies contrasting with the old buildings behind them, and the snow they had gathered overnight. It hadn’t snowed a lot, but just enough to turn Hogsmeade into the kind of picturesque village you’d find on a muggle Christmas postcard – Timothy had sent her some. Gretchen’s eyes scanned the stalls quickly, her gaze drawn to the ones that had steam rising up from pots and kettles. “Let’s go over there,” she turned briefly to Lenny, and finding him so close to her flipped her stomach. It must’ve been since… since the train disaster, because when else had he been close to her? Not that he had had much choice back then. The witch wondered what changed. In fact, she desperately wanted to ask about it – because for a large part of the summer, she'd worried he’d resent her for what she had put him through. Now his arm brushed against her as they walked up to the stall, and she smiled a small, private smile, the kind of smile that isn’t meant for anyone but oneself, the kind that marks a fond memory.

The stall had containers with tea blends on display, and apparently coffee could be ordered as well. Even just standing close to the brews was enough to send a pleasant warmth their way. Gretchen was relieved to recognise the stall’s name as a legitimate Hogsmeade business (because who knew what their peers were brewing and selling on this market?), and took out a small leather wallet. It really was quite cold today, which was all the more noticeable when her cloak parted. The Ravenclaw counted down six knuts for two cups, then put her wallet away and thanked the witch who served them.

“Oh, these are nice and warm.” She handed one cup to Lenny, the cloth of her cloak smoothly covering her front again once her left arm retreated underneath it. Her right hand held onto her own cup, letting it cool a bit before drinking. “What do you want to do? Walk by the other stalls to see what they are?”

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@Lenny Plunkett

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Ruthie · 15 · 5th · Viridian Guild · Muggleborn · 5'3
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Feb 4 2018, 11:55 AM   Link Quote
“Yeah. My dad t-took me to a f-few when I was a k-kid.” His voice still quivered as his body shook in the cold, and though his breath felt pleasantly warm being recycled back to him against his scarf, he was starting to find it rather stifling. The biting air that nipped at is nose was instantly regrettable as he popped his face back out, though he supposed it was better than completely cutting off his air intake, “You just.. I dunno.. you buy little t-trinkets for Christmas presents that p-probably get re-gifted and you eat and d-drink a bunch of unhealthy shit,” he shrugged, his shoulders hugging tightly to him as his arms were fiercely wrapped around him in a position that looked like it would take the jaws of life to unhinge, “It’s f-fun!” He assured her, attempting a frozen smile and not wanting her to think he suddenly didn’t want to go. Truthfully, once Lenny had reached an age that he could tell his old man that Christmas markets were, and I quote, pretty damn lame, dad, that put an end to that. But the market today wasn’t the main event for him.

Although even the cynical Slytherin had to admit, there was something disgustingly picturesque about the small wizarding village with its fluffy white rooftops, all decked out with stalls for the holidays… If you were into that type of thing, which Lenny really wasn’t. He turned his sight to, in his opinion, a more picturesque vision. Gretchen didn’t seem nearly as chilled to the bone as he was, which by all rights was a good thing, though he couldn’t help pondering what was keeping the little five foot witch from freezing. Warming charm? A potion, perhaps? Man, purebloods always seemed to have all the answers. The gap he had purposely closed between them had provided him with some semblance of warmth, though it was hard to say whether it had anything to do with this so-called body heat. It felt more like a warmth from within, like a more pleasant form of heart burn. And if heart burn actually felt like this, he would probably eat more acidic foods.

The two ended up in front of what appeared to be a tea stall, or one that specifically sold hot drinks, anyhow. The hot steam that rose from the pots and kettles, made even more visible in the frigid air, found the shivering snake somewhat signing in relief. Though the effect of the sudden warmth in the cold activated the never-ending snot factory that was his sinus system. Taking a small step back from the Ravenclaw, he loudly blew his nose into a tissue he had procured from his pocket. Wiping the last of the slimy crud away, he balled it up and tossed it into a nearby receptacle. As he turned back to Gretchen, there was a cup of tea being held out to him.

Fuck.

He should’ve told her that he didn’t want any tea. Not that he didn’t enjoy tea, as a proper Brit, when it was made by himself and in a container he had thoroughly inspected and cleaned first. Sure, this may have been a legitimate business, but did he know the woman behind the counter? Could he trust that her health and safety procedures were up to code when being served out of a bloody stall? “Thanks,” he stated weakly, taking the cup from her despite all this, because she had bought it for him. In the very least, it did feel pleasingly toasty against his gloved hands, but that didn’t stop the guilt that had suddenly gripped around his stomach. Sure, it may have only been a few measly knuts, but her few measly knuts could’ve easily been saved from being wasted on his neurotic ass. Not to mention that he knew tea was just a non-stop shuttle to bladder town and using public washrooms was a definite no no. He looked down at the darkening amber contents of the liquid, the steam gradually dwindling with each baltic breeze, and realised he was going to have do something with it.

Slow and precariously, he lifted the cup to his face, the expression in his eyes looking more like he was about to bungee jump than take a sip of tea. Pushing the rim against his lips, his hands trembled slightly as he tipped it forward. It’s just a tiny sip of tea, he told himself, I’m not going to die. She bought this for me. I will not be a weirdo. But as soon as the hot liquid hit his lips, his mouth clamped, not wanting to allow a single drop past them, “Mmmmmmm,” hopefully that was convincing enough.

He really hated himself sometimes.

“Oh, uh, yes!” He answered enthusiastically, happy for the welcome distraction of the next scandalous gate in his awkward interactions with Gretchen — tea gate. Walking away from White Monkey Tea Emporium, his thumb tapped uselessly on the takeaway cup as he tried to focus on anything else. He was cold again, so that was a bonus, he supposed, “Oh, Jesus,” he rolled his eyes with a snort at the sight of what appeared to be not one, but two kissing booths, “Because, you know, more than one was suuuuuper necessary,” he nodded in the direction of the two girls’ stalls to Gretchen, shaking his head, “These dummies don’t know a damn thing about business.” It occurred to him, momentarily, that maybe this kind of toxic talk wasn’t appropriate, but it felt.. oddly comfortable to do so with the eagle. It was strangely nice to not have to be so turned on and phoney. A shiver ran through him, causing his arms to clench at his sides while his hands still clutched around the tea, “Is there anything in p-particular you’re looking f-for?” But he was going to stick this out.

Ride or die.

Tagged: @Gretchen Kirke-Faust

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Robin · 15 · 5th Year · Viridian Guild Leader · Pureblood · 5'
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Feb 11 2018, 11:55 AM   Link Quote
The tea had a pleasant aroma, and as she moved the cup closer to her face, Gretchen recognised the distinct smells of pine trees, bonfires, and baked goods, as if someone had distilled Yule time and made it into a tea. A sip told her that wasn’t far from the truth – the blend tasted like the sponge cake and chocolate buttercream of a traditional Yule log, mixed with a dash of gingerbread. As she drank, she could feel the warmth of the cup and its steam on her face, a welcome sensation to her cold nose and cheeks. She held the cup with both hands as she walked, the warmth reaching her hands even through her mittens, more so than the cold did, and occasionally took another sip. Her eyes travelled over the stalls they passed – some of them offered more food and drinks, like gingerbread hearts and pumpkin-based goods, but while Gretchen could eat almost anything, she had never been a big eater, and was content with her takeaway teacup.

The prim Ravenclaw only noticed the kissing booths when Lenny pointed them out to her. Mapping her surroundings was usually her priority, knowing exactly what and who was near her – something she’d learned from her paranoid father and her intuitive guardian – but today she kept glancing at her companion, and how close he was. There were so many things she’d wanted to talk about, after the train disaster, after… everything, but she hadn’t in Diagon Alley and she didn’t feel like she could now either. In a way, he still seemed really far away. The words that she needed to say and the questions she wanted to ask all died in her throat, so she took a sip of her cup and washed them down with the Yule tea. With an odd sense of inevitability, she continued the casual talk. “They both seem to have customers too. People must be really desperate if they’re willing to pay money for a meaningless kiss.” One corner of her lips pulled up, creating a single dimple in her left cheek, as she shook her head at the priorities of their fellow students. She recognised the girls behind the kissing booths – both pretty, popular girls. Wanted girls. Gretchen could understand how and why they’d make use of that and monetize it, and perhaps a year ago Gretchen wouldn’t have thought anything else of it – but that was before she had ever even experienced kissing, and more specifically had to kiss someone for the practical reason of breaking a curse. Now the idea of having to kiss multiple strangers for money was extremely unappealing, and she wondered how Spiros and Windsor put up with it. She glanced at Lenny, her meaningless first kiss, and felt a sudden warmth battle the cold on her face. She quickly took another sip of her tea. “Maybe that’s a good thing,” was her answer to Lenny’s comment about their fellow students lack of business insight, “less competition for you.”

They continued their walk alongside the stalls, Gretchen now actually inspecting them and what they had to offer. “Not really, I already bought my presents.” She had – rune cufflinks for her father, the complete works of Jane Austen for Anthony, and a cleaning and polishing set for Teddy’s string instruments. Then of course there was the puzzle box she’d given Lenny, the chocolate frogs for Timmy, the moving star chart for Njord, the I <3 London keychain for Campbell (bought on her way back from Diagon Alley, just like Anthony’s books), and the Essence of Dreams potion she had made for professor Spitznogle. “Do you need anything?” They passed a few stalls that sold goods, and Gretchen lingered a bit at the flowers and herbs stall, but decided she didn’t really need more protective herbs right now, and the ones her father got her were already good ones. She only really stopped at Charmed Charms, the temptation of anything that allowed her to control her own appearance strong as ever. She bit her lower lip, two white teeth against a background of purple, as her eyes flicked from the charmed bracelets to the hair clips. Beauty intensifiers, one of the signs read. Gretchen had a bit of an odd relationship with material goods. She wasn’t exactly materialistic in the true sense of the word, as the things she owned usually didn’t mean much to her – but she owned plenty, and often didn’t leave a place of business without buying something. It was almost compelling, and perhaps her overly prepared nature had something to do with it, always telling her that it could be of use later. At the same time, she hated spending her money frivolously, and was always caught between those two instincts. The latter had won out at Prideux's, but she would’ve absolutely bought those hair clips if she had gone to the market alone. It was remembering that she was there with a boy, and the idea that being overly fussy and girly probably wasn’t desired, that kept her from it.

“You haven’t drunken a single sip from that tea,” she stated suddenly as she turned away from the stall, probably to distract from the fact that she’d been really fascinated by hair clips. “I noticed,” she said with a shrug and a hesitant smile, though the smile in her eyes wasn’t hesitant at all. She especially noticed Lenny today, including how the tea level in his cup hadn’t changed, and the way he shivered despite his sweaters. “You should’ve told me you didn’t like tea, I’m sorry I decided for you.” A single finger tapped rhythmically against her own takeaway cup within her mittens. The Slytherin seemed really cold, and while he’d said the pepperup potion was only a precaution... “Would you like to go inside?”

She suddenly found herself really hoping he’d say yes, because the market wasn’t all that big and she didn’t want this day to be over yet.

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@Lenny Plunkett

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Feb 15 2018, 10:58 PM   Link Quote
Another thickly wet snort rippled through his always blocked up sinuses, his own lopsided sneer matching the wry little smile that had perked up and dimpled half of his companion’s face, “Desperate is one word for it.” Horny was another. Or his personal favourite, gratuitously skankified. There were, undoubtedly, a hundred and thirty-eight other things they could talk about. There were things he wanted to tell her, things that had been left unsaid and clinging onto nothingness from their last intense encounter in the potions room. Yet, in this moment, sharing a feeling of mutual disgust for their fellow students was just so.. satisfying. It felt like something that was theirs, something that wholly belonged to them alone, “That is true,” he mused over her competition comment with a tilt of his head, “The kissing booth racket definitely isn’t my game.. Christ, I don’t even wanna imagine what kind of untapped market that’d attract.” He shuddered at the thought before quickly glancing at her with a joking, closed mouth smile.

In spite of all their unfinished business, in those pages that still begged to be turned, this really was quite cozy. Lenny’s personal bubble had always been so wide, to keep people at a safe distance from him, and to lock in his own thoughts about them while he offered them a hi there, friendo with a greasy salesman smile. He never got to be candid, he only got to be fake. Another memory reared up, the winter cabin, with his back maturely flipped to her on his bed. Okay well, fast forward that part… as he so often did. Declaring that Preben Nilsson was, in fact, a right stupid fuck with maniacal glee had even been gratifying then, but there was so much more he didn’t know about Gretchen’s situation with the Nilssons. That had barely pinged the tip of the iceberg, and that had been at least a year or.. maybe two months ago. Who knew. He was starting to feel like he was getting to know Gretchen, in certain ways. He could pick out her walk, in the way her hips swayed with motive and intention, from a distance. He had learned that withholding information from her only lead her paranoid mind to the kind of levels of self-loathing he never wanted to witness again. He had learned her insecurities rivalled his own, but did he really know her?

He was dying to find out.

As they continued along the makeshift market his eyes drifted to the little cat purse he had given her for Christmas that hung by her side. Once again, that pleasantly flushed feeling thawed his innards ever so slightly, “No,” he answered in regards to whether he needed anything, “I.. don’t actually buy gifts for many people.” Aside from a few gag gifts he had rooted out of his junk drawer and plopped into people’s stockings for shiggles, the only people he had really purchased a present for was his father.. and Gretchen. Another noticeable shiver ran through him, as he clamped his arms tighter to his body and pulled his still full and ever cooling takeaway teacup toward him.

And it had been foolish of him to think the ever observant eagle wouldn’t notice something like that, “N-no.. it’s n-not..” he began to protest, “I do.. I do like tea… w-when I make it,” his sigh took a physically solid form, the particulars freezing like snowflakes as it left his mouth. He kept his voice low. Low.. and ashamed. Although by this point, having been practically glued together by an errant potion he had ruined, and crying over a kiss at New Year’s (two other memories he was happy to fast forward) he kind of figured the shrewd Ravenclaw had probably riddled this out by now, “I don’t kn-know that.. tea person.. lady witch. I don’t know her, I don’t know her business, I don’t even know if the w-wizarding community has a clue what a health inspector is.. and I’m highly suspicious whether anyone’s inspecting these b-booths!” The panic that had risen in his voice made his guilt stricken eyes drop, “I’m s-sorry.. that.. probably sounds.. m-mental..” his hands that still grasped around the tea lowered. It didn’t matter anyway. It had already petered off from lukewarm to witch’s teat, “I’m sorry.”

A slight wind picked up in the temporary alleyway the market stalls had created, blowing the top layer of snow like a rippling tide of white across the ground. Lenny suddenly felt an additional ten degrees colder in the wake of this breeze, but even more so in the admission of his own guilt and neuroticism. It was Gretchen, however, that offered a welcomed alternative, “Y-yes!” The shuddering snake almost too enthusiastically answered, but by this point he was almost certain his nose was gonna snap off and his teeth were gonna knock each other clear out of his skull, “I mean.. if you d-don’t mind?” There wasn’t really much else to see, although he had noticed how she had been eying up Prideux’s flowery little stall. Well, perhaps they could peruse whatever had caught her pretty little eye on their way out. Right now, the prospect of warmth, and even more importantly, sharing that warmth with the prim pureblood was far too appealing.

Never had Lenny been such a fan of the Three Broomsticks before. Much like everything in the land of magic, it was somewhat kooky and endearingly old. Or, as the muggleborn would put it, impacted with years of filth. But the warmth that had greeted them at the entrance was very well received and even more appreciated. Although Lenny still shivered slightly, his hands rubbing up and down his arms to generate more heat, he was starting to feel the sensation of having living limbs again. He nodded toward a table close to the fireplace, as the popular pub was a bit less crowded than usual for a Hogsmeade weekend due to the winter market. And after thoroughly inspecting his chair, then dusting it off with a tissue and then laying a fresh tissue down upon it, he settled himself down to allow the heat from the flames to work their real magic.

“I’m really glad we’re doing this..” he sighed with contentment, seemingly to the fire, before turning his gaze to Gretchen, “Whatever you’re having.. let me buy it, alright? Whatever you want,” looking down at the table top, he bit his lip with a shrug, his arms still wrapped around himself as he wasn’t ready to commit to taking off his jacket yet, “To make up for the tea and…” other things, though he let the words die on his tongue. Raising his coke bottle eyes back to her, he found the inkling of a smile creeping onto his face regardlessly, “I’m really glad we’re doing this.”

And it didn’t feel that weird to repeat that.

Tagged: @Gretchen Kirke-Faust

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Mar 25 2018, 07:42 AM   Link Quote
The Three Broomsticks was less crowded than it usually was on a Hogsmeade weekend, as a significant amount of the visiting students were outside this time, discovering the market, making use of the ice skating ring, and buying presents for loved ones. Gretchen and Lenny found a table easily, one that was close to the fireplace even. The fire burned cosily in the hearth, and the crunching sound of the kindling wood reminded the witch of home, where there was a fireplace on every floor, including hers. She lowered the hood of her cloak and threw the dark blue cloth behind her as she sat down. For a moment, her cloak swayed open behind her, like the tail of some exotic bird, then it lay limp over the back of the wooden chair. While Lenny inspected his seat – a gesture so familiar from the two times they’d had to share living quarters for a short time, it almost sent her reeling down memory lane – Gretchen tugged at her mittens, took them off, and laid them down on the table.

“Me too,” she replied softly. When had they ever voluntarily shared a meal or drinks together? More memories from Bora Bora and the Swiss chalet bubbled up in her mind, but she burst each, like popping balloons with a pinprick. These past weeks, she’d spent a lot of time dwelling on memories, looking at them as if through a magnifying glass, trying to find answers to conflicting feelings, but there was nothing conclusive. She’d always find something that meant A while another thing meant B. Her overthinking didn’t get her anywhere, so it was probably best to just turn it off.

That was easier said than done.

“No, it’s fine,” she waved his offer away, “really.” The paranoid Faust thought of the explanation he’d given her outside, one that she hadn’t found surprising at all. She should’ve thought of it before buying the tea, really. She thought of her father, who always brought his own flask to work because he refused to drink anything at the Ministry, apparently considering every single one of his co-workers capable of poisoning. That probably sounds mental. She thought of Anthony, and how wherever they went, witches and wizards would walk around him in a wide circle, so he hardly ever left the house. She thought of how she’d left Lenny on Platform Nine and Three Quarters, confused and disoriented, because she couldn’t let him see Anton, her family. Because if she’d seen the same expression of disgust on the Slytherin’s face, it would’ve killed her. She thought of Sigurd Nilsson’s terrifying gifts, and how she hadn’t been able to reply to his offer yet.

Fear, and distrust, she understood.

“It didn’t sound mental, you know,” she added, almost without thinking, the words were spoken, softly, before having been properly weighted as usual, trailing off slightly at the end as a testament of her own surprise at her voice. But then she added, “it makes sense, in its own way.” Like how her own distrust and paranoia made sense, were only logical, to her.

A waitress came over – the sudden, jarring interruption of a stranger. Gretchen sat up straight – she was sitting on the edge of her seat, as always, her back arched, knees together, and the toes of her shoes touching the floor – and gave her order with a clear, steadfast voice. She realised she didn’t want any more tea, especially not after the special brew she’d just consumed – regular tea would just be disappointing now – and ordered hot chocolate instead.

When the older witch left, the girl’s shoulders relaxed again, though she hadn’t even been aware they were tense. It was something she didn’t notice anymore, how she stiffened around strangers, as if an unseen hand tugged at invisible marionette strings attached to her, correcting her stance. She looked back at Lenny with an uncertain, hesitant smile, and tried to pick up where they’d left off. She missed only slightly, as people usually do when their conversations were broken up. “You don’t have to pay for me. I think…” The pause was due to her realising she’d failed to keep the memories at bay, not even now but before already. She’d let them in and now they were sitting around the table with them. She wasn’t sure if that was a good or a bad thing. “Uhm, that money is more important to you than it is to me.” Her shoulders shrugged on their own accord, her eyes trailed away to her hands, which were holding each other above the table. Her blue nail polish was turning darker, while it had been an icy colour when she’d only just taken her mittens off, it was navy blue now. If they stayed seated in front of the fireplace, it’d have a chance to turn midnight blue. “I have enough of it,” she hastily added, worried her previous statement could be taken the wrong way. It was true, in any case. Her father gave her quite the luxurious allowance, and didn’t care much how she spend it. He wanted her to be able to buy things, he wanted her to shop at places like Twilfitt and Tatting's, never run out of potion ingredients, and have the best equipment money could buy. The Fausts were doing well, and he wanted everyone to know it. As a result, Gretchen wasn’t very good with money. She had a poor concept of value, and was never quite sure what the right price for something was, because she could afford it either way. It frustrated her, being aware of this flaw, knowing she was inexperienced – no, naïve even – in this regard. It had the undesired effect that she tended to not spend much of her money after all, out of fear of being seen as a frivolous spender, of that flaw being visible to her peers.

The waitress came back, putting a steaming mug of hot chocolate down in front of Gretchen.

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@Lenny Plunkett

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Apr 3 2018, 09:27 PM   Link Quote
The warmth of the fire was starting to work it’s magic, gradually thawing the blood that had seemed to freeze in his limbs. A different sort of heat rose up his neck as Gretchen confirmed her own satisfaction with their current arrangements, making the prone-to-sickness Slytherin wonder if he was coming down with a fever again. Although he knew he wasn’t, at least not right in this moment. The corners of his lips felt like they had been slightly upturned ever since he first laid eyes on the Ravenclaw in the front door corridor that day. They had only momentarily been interrupted by a few hiccups, a few embarrassing but obvious flaws that he had willingly attested to his own character. But they hoisted up again, natural and light, nothing phoney or greasy about it. Though his eyes suddenly felt a bit shy, and drifted slowly down to a conspicuous stain on the wooden table top.

But even that didn’t make him frown.

His gaze slowly lifted back up as she waved away his offer, the smile faltering slightly once again momentarily. He was partially sure she was playing it cool, as always, as one must uphold themselves in a civilized society. Like two couples doing the never ending tango over the dinner bill. No, no, let us pay for it. You paid last time! It was trivial, nothing more than a minor offer to pay for.. what? A drink? Perhaps some food? Yet, in that moment, it kind of felt like someone was going to come in there and cut his off his nads if she outright rejected this… because friends paid for friends, of course, “I’d like to, though..” his voice was soft, as was the crease in his cheeks as a hopeful little smile found its way back to him. In the very least, it was a small way to make up for her even bothering to waste a few sickles on him.

A fact that was brought up again, and as well it should be. It wasn’t exactly something that could be ignored. Lenny’s natural inclination would be to assume that Gretchen was just playing cordial and trying to play off his clear abnormality of something that was completely commonplace. However, there was a genuineness to her words that found the self-loathing voice in his head only partially humiliated. As opposed to outright mortified. But then again, wasn’t the ever vigilant eagle prone to bouts of paranoia herself? Wasn’t it her guardedness and general distrust toward most people something that he was lately actually finding kind of attractive? She didn’t suffer any fools, and dammit if that wasn’t hot, “Well,” his smile seemed to keep evolving with the conversation, now cranking up the left side of his face while appearing more humbled, “Maybe we’re both mental, then.”

And he meant that in the best way possible.

It was common ground. Something that they shared, and something that maybe made everyone else around them actually weirder than they were. Who was to say that a constant fear and neurosis wasn’t the new it thing? A fact that became even more evident as the waitress stopped by their table. The Slytherin seemed to stiffen as much as his outing companion, though perhaps for different reasons. For the sparse amount of times he had been in a restaurant, this was the precarious position of what the bloody hell to do? It wasn’t like he was about to ingest anything that came from a place that looked like the last time it had been properly cleaned was 1753. But at the same time, he understood how businesses ran. He couldn’t very well sit here and not order something, “… The same..” he creaked to the waitress, unsure of what Gretchen even ordered. Well, if she ordered it, that meant it was more than likely something she enjoyed. Maybe she could just have his as well.

As the waitress walked away, an odd sense of relief washed over him. As if he had just gotten away with murder. Muwaha, bar wench! I’ve tricked you into believing I’m normal! His shoulders seemed to relax in time with Gretchen’s, as his eyes came up to briefly meet hers, that same smile slowly repeating itself… only to take it’s first real hard dive of the day, “Oh..” because there it was. The real elephant that followed the no-good huckster wherever he went. His reputation, “.. that’s what you think…” He was a germaphobe, sure, but that was something that was forgivable. That was something that made him more human. But there was nothing forgivable about being a money hungry swindler. Even now, it seemed like Gretchen couldn’t quite bare to look at him.

He sighed, “I.. can’t blame you for thinking that..” It was what everybody else thought, after all, that the only thing important to him was cold hard cash. And what had he done to prove them, or even her, otherwise? His fingers idly picked at a crease in his jacket around his elbow, “I mean.. yeah, I do care an awful lot about money.. I can’t deny that..” his gaze gradually lifted back up to the witch, while hers remained steadfast on the hands she had clasped together on the table. His lips pulled in a thin line over his teeth, a tightening in his chest that certainly hadn’t been brought on by any asthma attack. The words that he left unsaid in the potion’s classroom were fighting to get out of him.

“I think I told you my dad’s a lawyer.. in, uh.. one of our letters.. last summer.. I-I think,” he swallowed hard, his throat feeling suspiciously dry, “Well, that’s only.. partially true.” The crease around his elbow appeared most interesting again, “I mean he is.. a lawyer, in.. in a sense. He used to be a prosecutor, that’s the good kind.. I think I said that before? Well, uh.. anyway, to make a long story short, some, uh..” he coughed, “.. some things.. sort of happened.. and he got himself into some.. preeeetttyyy hot water with some.. Do you know what the mafia is?” His eyes flung up again to bore into her, wondering if this sort of thing was something purebloods were even aware of, but only for a fraction of a second before they shot back down, “They’re like.. criminals. These guys aren’t the mafia, really that's... that's not really an institution you see much around England but.. well.. they’re not far off. Anyway, my dad kind of, um.. he sort of… uh.. worksforthem,” his last phrase blended into one word, ashamed and unsure of how to admit this out loud. He hadn’t done so before, “They don’t treat him.. super great. I’ve, uh.. kind of made a deal with them. So if I can, uh.. if I can give them so much money every, like.. few months or so, they’ll, uh.. they’ll try to lay off him.. a bit.”

The area around him felt shrunken and enlarged all at once. As if someone had vacuumed all the air out of the space, and yet at the same time increased the entirety of the Three Broomsticks by a thousand. It felt entirely bizarre to feel the words trip out of his tongue, to hear his own story relayed back in his ears. But he wanted her to know. He had needed her to know for some time now. The waitress came back and plunked the two mugs of hot chocolate in front of the two teens. Lenny stared down into the dark brown, steaming swirl.

“And I’m allergic to chocolate.”

Well, might as well just get it all out!

Tagged: @Gretchen Kirke-Faust

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Apr 8 2018, 09:20 AM   Link Quote
I can’t blame you for thinking that.

Gretchen’s eyes drifted back up, with an eyebrow cocked suspiciously. The trained eye would’ve been able to see the muscles in her shoulders stiffen and her jaw clench, signs of her walls going back up, the memory of being deceived too fresh in her mind. It was a fear she couldn’t dismiss just because she was having a nice time at the winter market. (Yet, she had.) The Faust was too good of a liar herself to assign any value to words – she’d found they meant very little if they didn’t correspond to one’s actions. Meaning the sceptic witch was unlikely to believe anyone on their word alone, but in this particular instance, it was more than that. After all, there was the entire fake auction to consider – using a charity she’d considered honourable and necessary – or in other words, a cause she cared about – to fill his pockets. Gretchen’s nails dug into her hands, which were still clasped together in front of her, relieving her of the compulsion to bite her lip – a nervous tick that was too obvious, that gave her state of mind away too easily, but one she’d never quite been able to shake. If anything, lately it seemed only to have persisted more. Their confrontation in the dungeon had left the witch at her lowest point since… (since Sigurd) and it ultimately hadn’t solved much. All it had cleared up was the matter regarding Koenig – which was still hard to believe but ultimately shouldn’t have mattered, at least not as much as exploiting everything she stood for and cared about. (So why had it?) In the end, that day had left her with a lot of unanswered questions still, a sore throat, and a sore heart. She preferred an arrow wound to the kind of pain that made her break down crying. …Though that didn’t mean she hadn’t handled the arrow rather poorly as well.

Gretchen kept her eyes on him now, steady and chill, no trace of her previous shyness – butterflies now replaced by anxiety – as she waited for his explanation with her heart in her throat, silently praying it wouldn’t be a lie. She let him tell his story without interrupting, without so much as blinking as she strained herself to concentrate on every word. When he was done, only the crackling of the fire could be heard, the sound of it seemingly louder than before. In contrast, the voices of the other customers were far away, as if they weren’t a part of this scenario, didn’t inhabit the same world as Gretchen and Lenny did. That’s how it goes when you share secrets – you carve out a space that is yours alone. Even if people would come sit down next to them now, they wouldn’t be on the same plane of existence.

After hearing what Lenny had to say, Gretchen’s head felt surprisingly clear and empty, not cluttered with the amount of thoughts that usually drifted there – a million things to think of, worry about, and be aware of at all times. Her thoughts were usually like pregnant clouds, grey and heavy and bumping into each other until it rained. The forecast for Gretchen’s mind was always English weather. Now however, though there would be plenty of questions to ask, there was only one thought that seemed to matter, first and foremost: it wasn’t a lie. She couldn’t really explain how she knew, in a way it was more something she felt, but it was still a clear, uncomplicated thought – and there were so few of those.

The silence was broken by the waitress first, and by Lenny admitting he was allergic to chocolate second. Gretchen didn’t comment on either, instead gently shoving her mug out of her way for now, so she could place her elbows on the table and lean over comfortably (and conspiratorially) – making the space between them (or more importantly, the distance their words had to travel) smaller. One of her braids slipped over her shoulder and fell on the table.

“…What kind of criminals are they?” The books she’d read about muggles didn’t talk about criminal activity, they mostly just discussed things like toasters, televisions and cars. A crease appeared in her forehead as she tried to imagine it herself, but she didn’t know enough of the muggle world and its businesses to know how it could be exploited. When she thought of criminals, she thought of (the Nilssons) the illegal slaughter of creatures that were supposed to be protected, selling illegal goods to legitimate businesses through complex connections, the law failing thanks to relations with the right Ministry officials, and intimidation of anyone who opposed. She thought of bones with curses carved into them, buried in front yards. It’s why the Fausts didn’t have a front yard.

Perhaps it was her blue-tinted make-up that made them stand out more, or more likely it was just the simple fact that her eyes were the most expressive, readable thing about the girl (whether she wanted them to be or not, and she didn't) – but in that moment, her gaze was piercing enough to look like something you could cut yourself on, and it suddenly seemed like calling their shade ice blue, or even cold in general, had been a mistake. After all, fire burns hottest when it blazes bright blue.

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@Lenny Plunkett

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Apr 10 2018, 09:03 PM   Link Quote
Ever since their near fatal encounter in the potions classroom, Lenny had played out this scenario a few hundred times over in his head. The scenery had never been anything stable, sometimes even non-existent, as he had never been sure just where and when the right place and time for this kind of conversation would be. In those precious hours when his anxious mind would rouse him from his sleep, or when a panicked choke would interrupt him when he should’ve been paying attention in class, it was always just the two of them. They existed in that fictional space like two dimensional cartoon characters, living in a never-ending, starch white paper world, like their creator had forgotten to colour in a backdrop. But their reactions always changed. As one of the more important things he had been longing to tell her finally poured out of him, Lenny could’ve almost believed they existed in that minimalist and nothing universe. There was no pub, no table between them and no other sound except for the ones they could produce. But the difference here in the real world, was he had no way of predicting what Gretchen’s reaction truly would be.

In her silence, his surroundings slowly started filtering back in. The rustic wood and aged stone of the walls, the feeling of his chair lightly grazing his back, and the light tinkering of a teaspoon being tapped off the edge of a teacup that did not belong to either of them. In her silence, every sense felt heightened, and every sensation more vivid. An enthusiastic ember in the fire felt like it exploded right by his eardrum, and he seemed to be getting hotter. Like he was in the fire itself. He realised he still had his jacket on, yet his arms couldn’t seem to muster the courage to lift themselves up and shirk it off. Only his eyes moved, pointed and rat-like, darting from the foamy brown liquid in his mud to the Ravenclaw’s face, moving like clockwork with each passing second. Every time his eyes reached back to the hot chocolate, they would relay a different message to his brain. She doesn’t believe me — or maybe she does? — No, she thinks I’m lying. She’ll never trust me again!

Dear god. This was just like if Scenario #136, 87, 4 and 221 spliced their DNA together and made one mutant baby. Total anarchy.

And he felt like he was shrinking. He shouldn’t have said anything. Why did he think this was the time and the place to bring up the ol’ my dad’s kind of a hostage to some thugs chat? What had he even done to prove to her that any of this was remotely half-true? They had been having such a wonderful day, so naturally, he had to be the one to spoil it, “I.. I shouldn’t have..” his voice felt as low as he did, until Gretchen’s own cut into it. A question, but one goading for more information, and with no sense of disbelief behind it. And when he looked back up, she had closed some of the space in-between them. One of her braids laid casually over her shoulder and on the table, and Lenny almost wondered if she was aware of it. Her focus was solely on him, which could’ve been intimidating, given the way her eyes appeared as if they were ignited. Still, the Slytherin found himself mimicking an action of hers from earlier as he gradually nudged his own mug to the side of the table, “Um.. well…” his arms finally managed to slip through the sleeves of his jacket, and he discreetly shifted it off and onto the back of his chair.

“Drugs.. mostly..” with his voice barely above a whisper, he leaned in closer himself, a tentativeness as he laid his own sweater clad forearms on the table while purposefully avoiding that stain he had noticed earlier, “like, uh.. cocaine.. heroin.. crystal meth. Do you.. I mean, do those things even exist.. here? I mean, not like.. here here specifically, but.. you know what I mean?” He knew he wasn’t making himself entirely clear. The point being he had never heard of illicit narcotics really being a thing in the wizarding world. It all seemed to be potions and adorably named booze, “Well, they’re.. extremely illegal anyway. And for good reason. These, uh.. guys.. these criminals my dad kind of, uh.. forcibly works for.. they run the show in the East End. They sit at the top of these crime syndicates — drug trafficking, money laundering.. heck. They even a force a deal with some business owners, threatening them into some sort of bullshit protection policy for a cut of their wages. Every petty thug that’s out on the streets, mugging and dealing drugs, works for them. And if anybody crosses them…” he lifted his thumb to his neck, slowly pulling it across as to mime the slicing of a knife, “They’ve.. got some of the local law enforcement paid off and under their thumbs, but it’s not enough. My dad.. my dad was personally selected by them, and not by his own free will, believe me. He’s a good lawyer, and they needed a good lawyer, but sometimes he’s not even good enough and.. and when that happens.. they..”

That was a sentiment he wasn’t yet ready to lend words to. His lips slightly quivered as he shut his eyes tight, trying to force the image of his father, barely recovered from the Wilcoxes latest punishment on him, to the furthest and darkest point of his mind. The weight of it seemed to force him back into his chair, as he sucked in a breath through his nostrils and released it with a shuttering sigh, “You’re the first person I’ve told that to…” his voice was quiet still, his eyes gradually opening back up to come and rest on Gretchen. He wasn’t fully sure if she believed him, and while he certainly hoped she did, he couldn’t exactly blame her if she didn’t. He wasn’t even sure if she completely understood what he was talking about, “I.. don’t know if there’s anything really, erm.. comparable.. in the wizarding world?” For someone who knew so much about muggle crime, he knew very little about it in this magical realm he occupied most of his year in. But surely, there had to be something.

People truly were garbage, magical or not.

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Apr 15 2018, 09:35 AM   Link Quote
None of the names Lenny listed sounded familiar to the pure-blooded witch, the muggle drug world was something she was entirely unfamiliar with. Yet if she had known what it meant, she would’ve been able to imagine something. After all, substances that have physiological effects were well-known in the wizarding world, they’re just called potions. Nothing controversial about them. Until they become addictive, that is. Potioneers making their products addictive on purpose to generate more profit wasn’t unheard of either, and was the occasional reason for a Wizengamot hearing. So ultimately, if the witch had been aware of the nature of the drugs Lenny was referring too, she would’ve understood more than even she would’ve expected. But as much as Gretchen liked knowing things, she didn’t want to interrupt, and saved her enquiry for later, merely nodding for him to continue with his story. What they were doing business in wasn’t that important, who they were and how they conducted that business seemed much more relevant to his father’s situation. Gretchen thought she understood the most important parts – his father was a lawyer and he was forced to work for criminals, or else. She knew what lawyers were… sort of. She thought of the members of the wizenmagot, and how so many of them were corrupt, or only there to defend their own interests, and so many of the wixes who could do good were easily intimidated, or actively threatened to not go against certain prestigious families. Those kind of stories were actually very familiar to the witch.

It was astounding how many things fell into place for Gretchen while Lenny talked. Surprisingly, even things that had nothing to do with him, like why her father had always warned her not to wander into London’s East End. Arthur was much more in touch with the muggle world than she was, and could easily blend in – which she envied. For whatever reason, the Faust didn’t seem to think it was something he should teach his daughter, and with Anthony’s upbringing alone, the young witch stood out like a sore thumb in the muggle world. But the wizarding world and its intricate politics – that she did understand, she’d been taught how that world worked since birth. Perhaps she’d soon find out it wasn’t all that different.

When Lenny was finished, Gretchen didn’t know what to say. She’d never been good at this – talking about sensitive topics, comforting… For a moment, Gretchen felt disconnected from the scene, as if she was floating away from her body and the table and none of this was really happening. She bit her lip and her thoughts came racing back. Obviously, Lenny needed an answer. Any answer. He hadn’t just shared that with her for it to go ignored. But what could someone possibly reply to that? She thought of her father, and realised he’d only use this information for his own gain – something she’d been taught to do as well, but that wasn’t what she wanted to do. She thought of Anthony, and knew he’d be silent as he tried to find an answer he didn’t have, clasping his hands together until his knuckles turned white. Suddenly self-aware, Gretchen unclasped her own hands. Not knowing what to do with them now, she reached for her mug and slid it back in front of her, one of her hands lightly holding the handle, but she still didn’t drink from it.

Teddy would probably know what to say. He was least like Anthony (and herself), he liked people and people liked him. Unfortunately, Gretchen wasn’t Teddy, and she never would be. “I’m sorry,” she ultimately said, her eyes lowering to the hot chocolate in front of her, her right thumb moving in circles on the mug’s handle. “I don’t know what to say.” The Ravenclaw wasn’t sure if she had ever admitted anything of the sort before.

Her fingers quieted when she looked up at Lenny’s question. This time, she did know what she could say… she just wasn’t sure if she should. After all, this wasn’t about her, but perhaps Lenny would prefer to not be on the spot anymore. And since she hadn’t thought of anything useful to say regarding his situation yet…

“Well, crime is ubiquitous, of course…” Gretchen nodded, and finally took a sip from her hot chocolate, which she regretted, because the beverage was designed to warm you up and now she just felt too hot. She placed the mug down again, and now both hands clasped around it the way they had held onto each other earlier. The witch knew what she wanted to say, but how to bring something like that up? She shifted slightly in her seat, and vaguely felt like something was missing. Her feet didn’t brush against anything, and she remembered they’d left her large cat outside – who would’ve certainly been under the table if they hadn’t.

“…You know why I always have Billy with me? Or why I even have a Kneazle-hybrid in the first place?”


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Apr 19 2018, 07:56 PM   Link Quote
There was an intensity surrounding the situation that almost felt absurdly surreal, given their current environment. It wasn’t like they were trapped on a train and trying to escape a stampeding herd of murderous centaurs. No, because clearly that type of scenario was far too unrealistic! Best not to think about it. But here they were, sat together in what most would consider a charmingly old pub. The fire crackling next to them provided it’s purpose in creating the kind of warm and cozy atmosphere synonymous with fires, and yet this felt nearly as high stake as leading a troll away from a dying girl.

Best not to think about it.

It was all hitched on whether or not Gretchen actually believed him, or if she thought he was just weaving another tapestry of lies to save face. She was always so impossible to read, so stoic and generally motionless. As he was getting to know her a bit better, he was starting to realise it was her eyes that often gave her away. Her eyes, and certain facial ticks, like her tendency to lightly chew on her bottom lip every so often. Unfortunately, Lenny couldn’t quite bring his own gaze to stay trained on her face, only allowing fleeting glimpses, as if craving for an answer but also wary of what it might be. Her hands had remained clasped and unmoving the entire time he spoke, but he wasn’t quite sure what he could take away from that. Beyond that, his burgeoning awareness of the fact that they were in a public space, even though it may have been more sparsely attended then it usually would be, was putting him a bit on edge. And he couldn’t help feeling he was ruining everything again.

But it was so vital for her to know this. Besides giving her a glimpse into the motivations of a would-be slimy shyster, it was just… something he had needed to say for a long time. To her, yes, but something he had needed to say for even longer than that. At times, he almost felt entirely removed from his situation. It always remained somewhere in the back of his mind, the pressure to make quota, and the consequences if he didn’t. Yet somehow, being at Hogwarts almost took him away from that. There were so many distractions, whether positive or negative — and believe him, up until Gretchen, they were mostly negative — that his brain almost felt drunk on stimuli. And then he was just Lenny Plunkett, CEO of Plunkett Enterprises and All Around Piece of Shit. He needed someone else to be on board with him and when he thought about who that person should be, only one name came to mind.

Although he wasn’t sure how much more of her silence he could take. And while his gaze had managed to rest on her face for a bit, they slowly started drooping back down along with the alignment of his spine. The shifting of her hands sounded amplified in his ears, but his eyes trailed down the pub to an older couple at the opposite end. Stupid piece of shit. Ah yes. There was that nasty voice that popped up far too regularly to remind him of what an absolute failure he was. Eventually, it seemed the Ravenclaw found some words, and as his breath seemed to catch in his throat, at the end of it he couldn’t help feeling a slight let down in himself.

Had he not explained himself well enough, or were his worst fears confirming themselves, and she simply didn’t believe him? Suddenly, all those scenarios he had built up in his head seemed to be crashing down on each other, with only one constant remaining — he really did ruin everything. The toe of his boot edged along the floor slowly, shifting his chair back a bit from the table so he could cheat his legs slightly out of the side. His hand seemed to work on muscle memory, idly fishing a tissue from his pocket as it brought up to his nose for a blow. This wasn’t so much because he absolutely needed to in that moment, but more a welcome distraction with a familiar and somewhat comforting action he performed eighty times on a good day, “Of course..” his voice faraway and unsure of what to say himself, he echoed her words from her last statement — crime is ubiquitous — while kneading the tissue at his nostrils with his thumb and pointer finger. A throwaway comment, if nothing more then to prove he was still present. But his gaze craned back up at her final questions, the tissue in hand still attached to his nose.

“I…” and he slowly lowered it, bringing it down to his lap to neatly fold it, “I.. uh.. didn’t.. I don’t..” her questions had seemingly come out of left field, and the snake’s head couldn’t help from lightly tipping, his face crunching on the left in a curious confusion. Having properly folded his tissue, he placed it back in his pocket — hey, it was fine when it was his own snot — and shifted his legs forward again, “I guess I always thought…” you did it to ruin my life. Although in all seriousness, he wasn’t entirely sure what he thought. It just seemed like an odd quirk of hers, and something that was distinctly Gretchen. Something that he had once found obnoxious that now, despite his severe allergy, he found almost endearing.. in a weird way, “.. I don’t know.. it was just something you did? You know, a witch and her cat… kneazle-cat,” he corrected himself, “It’s a classic trope, really.” He was far more aware of the fact that she probably didn’t know what a trope was than he was of where she was going with this. He started to pull himself a bit closer to the table again, his face conveying two parts bewilderment, and three parts an eagerness for her to continue.

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Apr 29 2018, 09:41 AM   Link Quote
Gretchen’s eyes wandered around the tavern, as if for the first time aware that they weren’t alone. If she had been a cat herself, her ears would’ve surely pricked forward as she examined the sounds around them. The fire still crackled next to them, like a cat purring in content, people talked in the background, and footsteps thundered above their heads whenever someone used the creaking wooden stairs – but nobody seemed to be paying the two fifth years any mind. After this short hesitation, the Ravenclaw brought her attention back to her companion. One painted nail tapped impatiently against her mug of hot chocolate – impatient with herself, to find words, to put him at ease, to somehow reward him for sharing this secret with her… So, a secret for a secret, then.

“Last year, at the chalet, I told you the Fausts had been feuding with the Nilssons for generations. I told you it was because of what we stand for – but that’s only half the story. Most of the elite, pure-blooded wizarding world hates us for what we stand for. The Nilssons… our history with them goes way back, so it’s complicated, but for the past centuries, it comes down to what they stand for. And what they do.”

Gretchen had always been taught to weigh her words, limit herself to short but sweet quips and jabs – even though she loved talking. She loved going on about things she liked, things she knew, things she’d read about – but it wasn’t proper, and it wasn’t smart, so in public, she didn’t. Only few people had seen that side of her, when her eyes light up and she talks and talks… her father wasn’t even among them. Sadly enough, the girl mostly just talked to her cat. Speaking like this, telling a story to someone else – it wasn’t something she was used to, and her mouth immediately felt dry. The fact that it wasn’t one of her favourite topics – the ones she could rant about, even if it was to her cat – probably didn’t help. This was a painful topic, a topic that made her vulnerable – which was a colour that didn’t look good on her.

Gretchen raised her mug to her lips for a sip before continuing. “Do you know how wands are made? Or rather, what they contain? There are magical ingredients at their core, that gives them their magical properties. For example, mine contains sphinx whisker and centaur hair. Centaur hair is never obtained, but given – a centaur gave it to my father. It’s a great honour. Sphinx whiskers are rare as well, especially outside of Egypt – but that where I bought my wand. We travelled to outside of Europe for a wand because…” She sighed, “That’s what the Nilssons do, they illegally and unethically supply wand core ingredients. There are laws in place that say that wand cores have to be harvested from magical beings ethically, but the Nilssons… they slaughter magical creatures and beings, and then sell their parts, and with their connections, it ultimately ends up in the hands of legitimate wandmakers – which white-washes the product. The Nilssons have many friends… like-minded, equally powerful families, some in high places in the Ministry, and some… let’s say they’re professionals in making people disappear.”

She thought of her grandmother, Samantha Storm. She’d never known the woman, and Arthur didn’t talk about it, but she’d read the article the late journalist had written for the Quibbler. The last article she’d ever written.

“It hasn’t… fared well for the Fausts, to go against such powerful enemies. There are few of us left, so we are… craftier now. It’s what my father taught me to be. He taught me to be always be prepared for enemies… Our enemies is why I always have Billy with me. Kneazles aren’t just smart, they can also detect distrustful people and cursed objects. He was given to me for protection.”

Her eyes briefly shifted to see if anyone was listening, as if that sentence reminded her she didn’t have her furry guardian with her at the moment. The memory of the one time she’d left him behind – before she met Lenny, that is – resurfaced. The horrifying spell Sigurd had used on her still showed up in her dreams, the fear it inspired overwhelming and all-consuming. She’d never been able to find it in any of the books she’d consulted. She wasn’t sure if that was a part of the story she could tell yet.

“We uh, we have different ways to protect ourselves. You know, options that, well, won’t make you sneeze,” trying to play it light wasn’t a colour that looked good on her either, her smile awkward, the shrug of her shoulders out of place on her tense posture, “Maybe, maybe I can help?”

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May 9 2018, 08:25 PM   Link Quote
It was curious how she went from bringing up her cat to the Faust’s long standing history with the Nilssons. Lenny’s face conveyed all his emotions as Gretchen talked; the crinkle from his raised cheek underneath his left eyelid expressed his confusion in trying to muddle this one out, while a keen interest illuminated the darkness of his irises that kept trained on her face. His back had hunched slightly forward, an unconscious decision to keep this space intimate. Another piece of the puzzle was revealing itself, like a code being slowly deciphered in the intriguing mystery that was Gretchen Kirke-Faust.

The sly snake’s mind bounced back and forth between focussing on the stout witch’s words and flitting snippets of their conversation back in the chalet. He recalled how she mentioned the generations long rivalry with the Nilssons, and a vague mention of creature rights. At that point, his brain found a third angle to hold onto — guilt. A guilt that was almost strong enough to remove him from the current situation entirely, if he allowed it. Their shouting match in the potions classroom still remained a slightly gaping wound, threatening to split open if he poked it too much. And did she think that he was just like them? Like the villains in her story, who had apparently persecuted her entire family for their beliefs? But he hadn’t slaughtered any beings. He had just taken a few liberties at the expense of their precarious situation! But they had received some of the funds from the auction as well! So was he really like them? Was he really that bad?

No seriously. Was he? He’s asking you.

The nagging voice that loved to remind him what a massive piece of shit he was all the time was prodding around inside his cranium. Thankfully, however, another sterner voice piped up, reminding him to remain present, and to not allow himself to sink in the familiar and sometimes far too welcoming depths of self-deprecation. He loosened his arms that were seemingly and suddenly hugging himself tightly, as if to contain his own shame from pouring out. There was a sudden dryness in his mouth, to the point that he almost wished he allowed himself to drink liquids when out in public. Instead he just let his sandpaper tongue drag over the roof of his mouth, not unlike a cat’s… and we had finally gotten to that point! Momentarily, Lenny wondered if he should’ve put more efforts into studying the biology of kneazles. Recently, he had been spending a bit more time in the library reading up on centaurs. Though books mostly told him about the exact sort of things he didn’t care about — their habits, their hierarchy, their rituals. No book was ever going to tell him the piece of information he was searching for. Only the Ravenclaw before him could do that.

And things were slowly starting to fall into place.

Until confusion struck again. He didn’t understand where this sudden shift in her demeanour had come from, but it disguised itself as a lighthearted and entirely awkward little quip, “.. Maybe..” the word came out tentatively as his gaze slightly drifted to the side. He wasn’t entirely sure what that comment had meant either, or what it had do with anything. Besides.. everything made him sneeze. Not that that mattered in the slightest now. His brain was still reeling from the information overload it had taken in. Besides getting another glimpse into Gretchen’s family history — and kneazles!! — he was becoming steadily more aware that there was so much he didn’t understand about pureblood families. And yet, at the same time.. so much he did.

“They’re actually not too far off from the Wilcoxes…” again, his voice came out low and mumbled, sounding faraway as the thought itself. His eyes suddenly snapped back up to Gretchen, “The Nilssons, I mean.. I.. didn’t know, well.. really anything about them…” and he realised he wasn’t explaining himself super well, “The, uh.. Wilcoxes are the.. family — I guess we’ll call them — my dad works for. There’s.. well, there’s definitely similarities there.. I mean, besides the whole, um.. creature slaughter thing but that’s.. that probably goes without saying…” so why did he say it? His fingers drummed in the crease of his elbows, “But they, uh.. they also get away with murder.. literally, murder. They seem to share that knack for making people disappear…” Briefly, his thoughts turned to his father, his eyes lowering again as his grip just subtly tightened around his arms. Although they inhabited the same world for the majority of the year, sometimes it felt like they came from two completely different planets. But, in a strange way, this was something he could relate to with her. Blowing out a puff of air he seemed to be holding in his lungs, his eyes trailed back up to her, “I’m sorry your family went through all that.”

Another pressing thought was needling at him, ever since she mentioned the need for Billy’s protection. Knowing exactly what his own father had been through, was going through, and what might still be left to come, the prospect of Gretchen experiencing anything remotely like that was… nauseating, “Um,” a pensively worried expression crossed his features, only slightly marred with a greenish tinge, “have you ever.. felt you really needed… I mean, do you often feel it’s necessary to have Billy around…” his words were getting jumbled, much like the bewilderment in his mind, until he just had to get it out, “.. have they ever attacked you?” Whoever they might be — the Nilssons, another enemy.. anyone — his voice hitched with a sudden urgency.

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May 12 2018, 08:08 AM   Link Quote
Had she talked too much? Well, of course she had. Gretchen had never told anyone so elaborately what the deal between her own family and the Nilssons was – and then there were still plenty of things she’d left out. Like the disappearance of her grandmother, the speculated basement in which Nilssons supposedly killed their enemies, all the family members she’d only ever know by their portraits, how she herself had risked breaking into a Vikernes home for the sake of her cause, and how personal this all was to her not just because of the Faust part of her family, but because of Anthony Hall as well. It wasn’t just the Nilssons either, there was everyone else in the wizarding world who’d been told by their parents not to align themselves with a Faust, all the whispers around her when Gretchen entered a room, the disdain she’d seen on the faces of even first years. People she didn’t know but by family name, who didn’t know her but by family name. All of it resulting in the child never having been able to feel safe at Hogwarts. For so long, Billy had been her only comfort.

She waited nervously for a response, and felt her spirit sink when she got one. Of course, this was something personal, she shouldn’t have tried to get involved, it wasn’t her place. Gretchen bit her lower lip and, with lowered eyes, dropped her hands from the table into her lap, where her fingers could play with the fabric of her skirt. He’d confided something personal about himself and she’d made it about her instead. She just honestly didn’t know how else she was supposed to react, and thought, if she could show she could relate… Athena, lend her some wisdom – why was she so bad at this?

Then Lenny started speaking again, softly and uncertain, but still. Gretchen’s eyes snapped back up at him, most likely at about the same time his did. Things were starting to make sense, in this odd way, the evil in Lenny’s life was an evil she could understand, and his father had gotten caught in the crossfire. She straightened herself a little, the braid that had slipped onto the table being lifted from it, listened, and nodded to signal she was listening – not just hearing, listening.

“I’m sorry your family had to go through that as well.” Her hands found each other in her lap and squeezed each other, as if she needed to nudge herself to go on. “I do… everything for my father. I study hard, keep my guard up, carry myself like a proper pureblood witch the way he’d want…” Realising this might need context for a muggleborn, she explained, “He doesn’t want the rest of the wizarding world to look at us and see us broken, see that they’ve won. So we go to all the balls and parties and events they don’t want us to go to. I talk to people and laugh and pretend to have a good time so they know that we’re still here, whether they want us or not, and we have every right to be. That they didn’t beat us.” She briefly closed her eyes and shook her head, as if trying to physically shake off memories that were plaguing her. Her second braid slipped over her shoulder, both now hanging in front of her chest. “He taught me everything, and I just want him to be proud of me. So I understand. I would also do everything for my father.”

Her voice had been soft, laced with something that was hard to place – almost like a sweet sadness. Her eyes had trailed down again as she spoke, finding it hard to speak of her family in this way, as she was never taught to speak of love. She’d left one important thing out – She was adopted. Arthur had taken her in when her biological family hadn’t wanted her, and she so badly wanted to prove that had been a good choice. That she was a good daughter, and a worthy Faust.

The sudden urgency in Lenny’s voice surprised her and made her look up again. “I,” she stammered in reply, her eyes somehow becoming bigger and smaller at the same time. Her hooded eyelids lifted up in surprise to reveal eyes that were actually rather large for her face, and the icy blue irises shrunk within them… in what almost seemed like fear. “I, err…” She wished she could say she had always been quicker, smarter, prepared. More than anything, she wanted to lie about this, like how she’d lied to her father, and Anthony, and everyone else – but there was that urgency in Lenny’s face, and it sent her back to the train disaster, how she’d awakened to his sobs, how he’d attempted to save her from that troll at almost the cost of his own life…

“One time last year, I…” she swallowed thickly, and the muscles in her cheeks twitched as her jaw clenched before continuing, “I excused myself from Astronomy class to go to the lavatory. I left Billy in the classroom. The youngest Nilsson, he – Sigurd, your dormmate, he followed me, hexed me badly – it’s hard to describe what it was exactly… but it was terrifying,” her shoulders slunk in defeat, “Billy did come after him, he’d noticed him leaving class… This was before the chalet.”

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May 17 2018, 09:06 PM   Link Quote
There was something slightly alarming in how Gretchen related her family’s history to his own. There were some similarities, in that they both would do just about anything for their fathers.. and that’s where it ended. Though it was starting to help confirm some of his suspicions.. pureblood families were fucked. Lenny didn’t want to press the issue too far. He attempted to keep his face a neutral board, only a nearly indiscernible upward crunch of his left cheek to serve as a minor giveaway. From their letters last summer alone, the picture of Gretchen’s father hadn’t been painted too favourably. The skeptical Slytherin was still incredulous over the fact he hadn’t taken his own daughter to a hospital when she had so clearly required one. Jeremy Plunkett fussed over his son having a cold, and he certainly never would’ve asked Lenny to pretend to be anything he wasn’t, or act in anyway that he didn’t want to. Still, Lenny couldn’t help but feel that he was only just barely scratching the surface on what was clearly a painstakingly long backstory. There was still so much he didn’t know.

He appreciated her understanding all the same, though. In the very least, it affirmed that she did genuinely believe him, that she knew he was telling the truth. In that sense, it felt good to have someone know — comforting, even. Other than the very father he was working so hard to keep out of harm’s way, he realised he hadn’t known what it felt like to have someone on his side. Truth be told.. he didn’t mind it. At all. He returned his own understanding in the form of a nod, though couldn’t quite help the contemplative look that crossed his features, “That’s.. rough though.” Immediately, he regretted the statement, “I mean.. just… everything.” Then he seemed to be caught in one of those rare moments when he felt at a loss for words, “I’m sorry, there’s just… there’s a lot I really don’t understand,” he admitted with a small shrug, “but I do know how it feels to be iced out.”

Didn’t essentially every muggleborn? At least at some point in their Hogwarts’ career. He had caught a whiff of the Ravenclaw’s struggle among the pureblood elite in the chalet, the first time he had learned that the witch didn’t rank amongst those types. But he had never known precisely to what extent, or just how deep down and far back it went. To the point that she was even being attacked by what was seemingly her own kind. The brief feeling of warmth he had acquired from the fire felt like it was draining out of his body as his blood froze cold. This was exactly what he had feared the most. The usually discreet eagle hadn’t gone into much detail of the attack, but Lenny’s mind couldn’t help but flash images of her at her worst and weakest point. His brain snapped and flashed like a camera, each photo being presented more sickening than the one prior. He shut his eyes, inhaling deeply and slowly through his nostrils, “ .. That motherfucker…”

He was going to kill Sigurd.

A new montage of images was rolling through his head. Snapshots of his dorm mate being magically hung by his underwear for all the school to see, or being hurled off of the Owlery. Sigurd’s head on a pike. Until the images his brain were presenting started becoming more and more realistic, and Lenny was dropping in a few of his always at-the-ready laxatives into Sigurd's coffee. And Lenny was struggling feebly with his wand. Sigurd may have been nothing more than a bundle of upset twigs wrapped in a poorly thought out sweater, but Lenny was even lower than that. The mostly inept wizard was little more than a parasite living on a wing and a pile of half-cooked zany ideas. And, just like in the classic game of twig, parasite, Michael Bay, twig beat parasite. Every time. How many times had he been hexed? Or worse? Had his head shoved in a toilet? How was he supposed to offer Gretchen protection when he couldn’t even protect himself?

His eyes gradually re-opened, casting their gaze downward once more. The intense fire that had fleetingly blazed in them replaced with the cold hard look of defeat, “I’m so sorry, Gretchen..” sorry for the attack, of course, and even more sorry for the fact that while in his presence she must’ve felt like a sitting duck. Vulnerable and exposed, and because of his inability to spend more than five minutes within two feet of a cat without sneezing himself into a coma or asphyxiating on dander. In his defence, Billy was a pretty big feline hybrid, like three cats in one. Triple the allergic reactions. Not that it was much of a defence, especially if it compromised Gretchen’s safety. So was that it? Was that the end of the line? Either choose me or the one actually capable of protecting you? There had to be something..

“Maybe…” he started off small, looking for stable ground. He didn’t want his dumb, albeit fairly severe, allergy to be the reason they couldn’t see each other anymore, “.. the, uh.. what was that again? That spell that was like.. an upside-down fishbowl on your head? The thing we did in the chalet.” The bubble head charm, of course, “That.. that wasn’t so bad. In fact, it was kind of.. nice. Ten out of ten, would recommend.” If you liked the feeling of scuba diving on dry land, that was. The smile that had popped on his face, one that was indicative of someone stretching the truth, dropped as soon as it came, “Look..” he sighed, “I.. I wanna keep hanging out with you, I’d like to do this again.. i-if you want to, of course, but.. I don’t want you to feel unsafe. Ever. Soooo.. I mean, if I gotta look like a severely misguided astronaut, then.. I guess that’s just how it is.”

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May 21 2018, 09:17 AM   Link Quote
Gretchen conjured up a weak smile. The memory was still painful, and she wasn’t any less scared of Sigurd Nilsson, but seeing Lenny’s reaction lifted a weight off her shoulders that she didn’t know she had been bearing. It was nice being able to share this, and while the ever secretive Ravenclaw had been hesitant at first, it now made her want to tell him everything. For the first time in longer than she could recall, she felt safe. It wasn’t a reasonable thought, after all she was still in a public place surrounded by strangers, without her kneazlecat, and she couldn’t possibly expect Lenny to protect her – but the feeling was there nonetheless. Up until that year, she had at least always had her family – she was a Faust, and she derived strength from that, because she was doing her family proud. Gretchen Kirke-Faust was exactly who her father wanted her to be. Until Sigurd attacked her. That was her first downfall, and she couldn’t even share it – not with her friends, because she had none at the time, and not with her family, for surely they’d be disappointed with her. That’s when fear started to win, and a witch that had been confident in her abilities before, and used to thrive on her pent up anger first and foremost, succumbed to her anxieties.

Gretchen produced a weak, joyless chuckle – a kind that suited her. It was reminiscent of the sweet sadness that had been in her voice before, and now seemed to lurk in the corners of her mouth and the creases of her eyelids. Her posture hadn’t changed, but somehow, she had. The features that had always seemed so hard and unforgiving now capable of suggesting softness, or at least brittleness, like a marble statue that you hadn’t noticed cracks in before. She was a piece of ceramic repaired with Kintsugi, the gaps between her hardness filled in with tiny veins of gold.

“I can’t ask that of you,” she muttered, her heavy eyelids dimming the brightness of her eyes as they lowered. Her hands resurfaced above the table, and fingers drummed softly on the wooden table top. But her eyes found his when he continued in all sincerity, making her pause. Her purple-painted lips parted to speak, but hesitated. Something about his willingness to find a solution rekindled a spark in her, one that wanted to fight instead of admit defeat. “I… I suppose I can think of something, if given some time. Something better than the bubble head charm.” Wasn’t she a witch, after all? Didn’t she use magic on a daily basis to deal with all of her problems – whether it was antagonistic peers or pimples? “I’m rather good at Potions especially… Perhaps I can brew a solution.” The spark reached her eyes as she spoke, her light blue irises glittering like ice reflecting sunlight. It seemed Lenny was her sunlight. “I’d like to do this again too,” the corners of her lips twitched, then turned into a smile – a genuine, warm smile this time, her cheeks dimpling slightly.

“I wasn’t always scared of them… One time, I even confronted Preben Nilsson in the Great Hall, while he was surrounded by his adoring fans,” her fingers continued their drumming on the table top, as she recounted the story with an amused smile on her lips, and a spark akin to mischief in her eyes. “Then later I spiked his drink with Hate Potion, which brings out someone’s worst qualities, so everyone else could see him for the despicable person he was. That’s what made Sigurd come after me in the first place,” she shrugged, still smiling. The braids that were resting against her shoulders moved up and down with it. Suddenly it didn’t feel that much like a defeat anymore, if it wasn’t for… “But I learned something about Sigurd that day,” the smile faded, and a concerned crease appeared on her forehead in its place, “That taught me to fear him.” Her fingers halted their drumming on the table top and rested on the surface, the navy coat of polish on her nails a striking contrast against the wood. “He hexed me with something that felt like facing an unbeatable boggart. He had me right where he wanted me but then… My fear, a product of his own hex, suddenly gripped him too, incapacitating him… There’s only one explanation for that. He’s an Empath.”

Gretchen lifted her hands and brought the tips of her fingers together in front of her face, intense eyes looking over at Lenny from across the table. Then she realised the muggeborn probably didn’t know what that meant. “They’re… It’s an intrinsic ability that only few witches and wizards are born with. As such it’s an elusive type of magic but… being fascinated by obscure magic is something my family is known for, hence why I recognised it. Empathy, as an ability, can take a variety of forms but let’s say that an empath is… magically receptive to the feelings of others, can sometimes even read them like a Legilimens can read thoughts.” She lowered her hands again, and guided one to the mug of hot chocolate that was still waiting for her. After taking a sip, she continued. “I’m not exactly fond of people being privy to my emotions. That’s why I had to avoid him at all costs in the chalet.”

She placed the mug down with a dim thud. After the tea she’d had from the White Monkey Tea Emporium, the regular hot chocolate was actually a little disappointing, but it sure was warm. That it was bitter cold outside almost seemed like a preposterous thought from where the witch was sitting now, so close to the fireplace. She looked at Lenny, unsure of where she’d been going with telling him about Sigurd’s Empathy, but glad she’d done so all the same. “I don’t think he can control it well yet, but that might make it all the more dangerous. Be careful around him.”

Her fingers drummed against the side of the mug now, and she realised there was still one burning question on her mind.

“What’s an astronaut?”

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@Lenny Plunkett

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Ruthie · 15 · 5th · Viridian Guild · Muggleborn · 5'3
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Jun 2 2018, 12:03 PM   Link Quote
Lenny practically lived on a variety of muggle medication and potions. If there was an allergy to be had, he had it, as if whatever deity up above had decided to shove all of them into the pandora’s box of his small, lumpy body. His father had seen to it that Hogwarts was aware of his son’s numerous afflictions with an embarrassingly long list pinned to the front of the first year’s shirt. As if starting a new school wasn’t mortifying enough.. especially a magic school. Now everyone was privy to the knowledge that bell peppers made his throat close and dairy gave him mad poops. Food was an easy avoidance, and he was given special meals of something boiled, bland and unappealing. The healers in the hospital wing provided him with a general anti-histamine potion that he took daily, which warded off a good number of reactions to the usual suspects: dust, pollen, mould, grass… but nothing he had ever taken had been strong enough to counter a cat.

So he wasn’t entirely sure if Gretchen would be able to. Not that he didn’t trust the clever witch. In so many ways, he saw her as a super human, capable of things beyond his wildest imagination. She could move trees. It’d be an outright lie if he didn’t admit that he sometimes fantasized envisioned the efficient eagle as a comic book heroine. Madame Mysteria and her ever faithful sidekick, uh.. Billy. And the more he learned about her tragic backstory, and the weaknesses that could defeat her.. the more it all seemed somehow even more plausible. Still, the fact of the matter was, the potions he was given were made by professionals, and while he knew Gretchen was more than proficient in the subject, that didn’t negate all evidence that suggested she was a fifteen year old girl, “.. Yeah! For sure!.. Maybe..” he tried to keep his voice hopeful but couldn’t fight it from trailing off along with his eyes. It wasn’t so much he doubted her abilities, more so that he doubted any potion could combat some of his pathetic yet all-too strong sensitivities. But when she echoed his sentiments, that she wanted to do this again too, and he looked back up to catch the most special pokemon — dem dimples — he wondered for a moment if he should call a doctor about a possible heart murmur he seemed to be suffering, “It’s definitely worth a shot, anyway.”

He trusted her.

Even if that meant drinking solutions forged by the hands of whom some might argue was an amateur, he trusted her. And in the very least, wasn’t this another excuse to spend more time together? Lenny couldn’t remember a time he actually felt eager to learn something, and he wanted to know so much more about her, the good, the bad… and the ugly. Sigurd’s attack would certainly constitute as the latter, and the story still sat on a sickening point of his stomach. Yet even so, there was something that felt undeniably privileged in being allowed to explore these secret vaults she was slowly opening to him. He had never known her to talk so much… maybe because he talked too much. Even so, it was somewhat refreshing, and Lenny sat attentively, doing exactly what Gretchen had done for him mere moments before — actually listening. He could sense her triumph with the hate potion she had brewed for Preben, a half-smile and a half-sneer creeping over his features at the hilarity of the thought of that big ape succumbing to his worst features. God damn, she was great. Then of course, his face fell again, even as she shrugged off the second mention of the assault. She was playing it light and breezy, but that didn’t erase the fear it had instilled in her, which made her warnings all the more vital.

It was smart of her to explain what an Empath was, though the sudden look of confusion probably gave him away. It made sense.. in the kind of sense that Lenny thought this must be the most bullshit super power ever. Like.. gooolllllyyyyy. You could tell if someone was happy or sad. How bloody useful. As if reading their expressions wasn’t enough. And while the prim pureblood was likely one of the harder students to gage, the way she mentioned her avoidance of Sigurd in the chalet did add a gravity to this ability, and one that Lenny hadn’t considered. Just imagine what he could’ve done with this. To have the capability to know what someone desired, simply by feeling exactly what they felt. Or even better.. what they feared. He could so easily use that to his advantage. His mouth practically salivated at the prospect. Although when he pictured what he could do with it, then he could transfer that thought to what someone else could. And that was a bit.. terrifying, “.. I will..” he responded, uncharacteristically quiet. But it wasn’t himself he was concerned for, “Sigurd never talks to me, though. Or even, like… validates my existence. I’m pretty sure I’m not even a blip on his radar. Which suits me just fine,” he shrugged, before the worry danced across his eyes again, “.. but are you going to be okay?”

Her final question caught him slightly off-guard, like a naked person streaking through the suicide scene of Romeo and Juliet. Though it did find a small smile fixing itself back on his face, “Oh, uh.. they’re just like these people — muggles, obviously — that go into space.. on a space shuttle.” And much like Gretchen realised a muggleborn might not be aware what an Empath was, so too did Lenny do the same, “A space shuttle is like.. uh, hmmm..” he tapped his fingers on his knees, “it’s kind of like an airplane, but a super airplane with the capability and technology to travel to the moon. And beyond. I used to think the idea of space travel was so.. incredible. I mean, insanely fucking horrifying as well, because I mean, like.. Christ damn. I kind of can’t even stand the thought of going outside most days, but still… Just this idea of exploring unknown worlds was so.. I can’t even explain it,” he shrugged, a smile still on his face, but one that almost imitated her own sweet sadness from before, before his chest heaved and dropped, “… but then I came to Hogwarts..”

Lenny had never been sure if he was the one exploring an alien landscape.. or if he was the alien, “I.. used to be a really good student.. in my primary school — muggle, obviously — I used to be at the top of my class.. I doubt anyone would believe that now, though..” There had been plenty of reasons for him not to come back to Hogwarts, and it was something he considered at the end of almost every year. It was, surprisingly, the end of last year that was the first time he hadn’t.. although is father certainly had. That had been an argument that had lasted almost the entire summer. The Slytherin sniffed back, idly rubbing at his nose with the back of his hand before looking up once more, brown eyes locking onto blue, “But, well… lately, I’ve been finding more reasons to enjoy it.” And there it was. His genuine smile. The lopsided one that crept up the left side of his face.

Tagged: @Gretchen Kirke-Faust

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Jun 10 2018, 07:22 AM   Link Quote
When Lenny told her that he didn’t even exist on Sigurd’s radar, Gretchen produced a sound that was something between a snort and a sigh – a disgusted yet somehow also victorious ‘hmpf!’ “Of course, that’s just bloody typical of them and their superiority complex.” Then she added a surprisingly vicious remark for a girl seemingly so prim and proper – “I hope they choke on their pride one day.” It wasn’t a side she showed often, not to her father, not to her brother, and not even to the guardian from whom she’d incidentally inherited this savageness behind blue eyes. Similarly, she hadn’t told anyone about poisoning Preben Nilsson before, and she certainly hadn’t expected she’d share it with Lenny Plunkett. If there was ever anything that could be used against her, against her whole family, it would be that, and the kind of comments she was making right now. The Faust glanced back at Lenny and the harshness in her eyes melted, and she smiled a genuine smile. “Of course. I dare say Sigurd was quite taken aback by discovering he was an empath himself, and knowing that I know, he seems to be avoiding me as well. You see, the Nilssons, with their traditional, supremacist values, wouldn’t be too happy with a ‘freakish’ power like that in the family, so he probably wants to keep it quiet.” She chuckled lightly, that edge from before returning to her words, “Ironic, isn’t it? A Nilsson being an empath… It’s like the gods played a cruel trick.” The dimples in her cheeks deepened, and the colour of her eyes seemed to brighten as they smiled. There was no sympathy for Sigurd behind her words, there was only a triumphant delight, that the Nilssons’ ideologies – which had positioned them directly against her own family for so long – had finally backfired for one of their own.

It was nice being able to talk like this, like two conspirators, over their mugs of hot chocolate that were losing their warmth – Lenny’s still untouched. For the first time in her life, Gretchen Kirke-Faust trusted someone to keep her secrets. He hadn’t spoken to anyone about what had happened on the train, and had gone to lengths to help her that he hadn’t had to. But besides that, her decision to trust Lenny wasn’t even a rational thought anymore, it was just a feeling – a feeling that she was finally part of an Us instead of a Them. She took another disappointing sip from her mug, simply out of habit, and listened to Lenny answering the question that had been burning in her mind. The harshness that had been apparent in her features only just now melted before the sun as the muggleborn explained the miracle of space travel to her. She rested her chin on her hands and her elbows on the table, her back arched as she sat at the very edge of her seat, listening intently.

“Muggles have been to space?” She breathed, as if the question was produced by her soul rather than her voice. She didn’t remember that from her own Primary School – but then she had only gone a few years before switching to home schooling to prepare her for Hogwarts, and she had barely understood anything. Hearing Lenny describe his experience with switching from muggle school to Hogwarts, she realised it had been the exact opposite for her. “I believe you,” she said flatly and without hesitation. “…I went to a muggle primary school for a few years,” the Ravenclaw cast her eyes down at what she said next, “I didn’t understand anything. My father wanted me to be in contact with muggles, maybe so I wouldn’t grow up like other purebloods, but it was such a foreign world to me… I didn’t fit in, and the other children could tell.” She shook her head slightly, her braids gently rustling with it, “My father is very good at navigating the muggle world, he can dress exactly like a muggle and fit right in. But he has a very busy job at the Ministry, so he couldn’t be around to help me with my homework. Someone else was charged with taking care of me but he…” As usual, Gretchen didn’t know what to call Anthony, or how to describe his role in their household. Her father occasionally called him a valet, or a butler, but neither seemed right to her. “Err, well, he’s a pureblood through and through, so he couldn’t explain any of these muggle things to me.” That was one way to put it. Gretchen didn’t look away, didn’t move an inch, when she called Anthony a pureblood. Lies came easy and naturally to her, and she moved on without any issue. She’d entrusted Lenny with everything so far, things that she usually kept close to her heart and that she had never expected to share with anyone. She had never been as honest as she had with Lenny, especially today, but… That one line echoed in her head, the line that had almost made her run out of the Potions classroom. I’d rather see the whole bloody lot of ‘em on the extinction list. So the lie came easy, with not a trace of it on her face.

Of course, a part of it wasn't a lie – he was a pure-blooded vampire, after all. But what she’d said was definitely an understatement – Anthony didn’t know anything about muggles, much less than most purebloods did. He barely knew anything about the wizarding world. The ancestral vampire had been brought up as a recluse with his clan, in a small castle at the edge of civilization, like forgotten English aristocrats. When he came to live with Arthur Kirke-Faust, it was an interesting transition – and he was barely used to his new life when Arthur brought a baby home. That Gretchen’s upbringing had been unconventional, was the least someone could say. She vaguely remembered the mobile above her crib, which they still had somewhere, that was made of bats and spiders, because from Anthony’s perspective that was cute. She thought so too, but later she’d learn most mobiles consisted of stars and unicorns.

“…So I didn’t do well at muggle school, no matter how much I wanted to learn, it just didn’t work out. I didn’t understand, and nobody understood why I didn’t understand because I was a witch. So I was just odd,” she shrugged, the bad memories that had drifted to the surface visible on her features for a split-second – the loneliness she had felt amongst muggle children, and the disappointment in herself for not getting it. Then she pushed it away again, her stomach turning pleasantly at the sight of Lenny’s lopsided smile, and responding with a smile of her own. “That’s good to hear… I can help with Hogwarts if you want. This is my world, after all.”

The waitress was starting to hover around their table, waiting to see if they were going to order something else, and Gretchen raised her hand to catch the woman’s attention, asking her for the bill. “Can you tell me more about the space travel?” She asked Lenny as she gathered her things and got up from the table, “How far have they gone? What did they discover?”


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@Lenny Plunkett

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