(1937-10-12) Subverting Authority
Details for Subverting Authority
Summary: Some Ravenclaws discuss their plan to get underclassmen into the Hallowe'en ball. Then Gabriel talks Gareth into revealing a secret….
Date: 10/12/1937
Location: Ravenclaw Common Room
Related: Happily Ever Afters

The Ravenclaw Common Room is one of the most airy rooms at Hogwarts. This wide, circular room's floor is covered in a deep, midnight blue carpet and the arched windows are hung with soft blue silk curtains. The high, domed ceiling carries a charm similar to the one in the Great Hall making stars glitter and move about on it reflecting the proper placements of the constellations according to the seasons. During the day, the Ravenclaw students have an excellent view of the surrounding mountains. The room is furnished with comfortable tables and chair upholstered in midnight blue with white pinstripes and bookcases stand along the walls.

The post-luncheon hour finds Ajax sitting in one of the plush armchairs of the Ravenclaw common room, cross-legged and balancing a large book on "Advanced Charms Theory and Applied Spellwork" across his knees. One elbow rests on the arm of the chair, his chin propped against his fist, and his other hand idly traces the words on the page, said pages turning when Ajax's wand, clasped in the aforementioned fist, gives a little wiggle. Generally, he is the picture of (only slightly atypical) Ravenclaw tranquility at the moment.

The door swings open, and Gareth steps into the common room, lugging a schoolbag overstuffed with books. "The important thing, of course," he says in a low voice to Gabriel, "is that we keep this all rather quiet. If the professors figure out what we're doing, they might try to put a stop to it. Which would really be unfair, because it isn't a terribly logical rule in the first place. That's why we'll need Jax on our side: he can act as something of a buffer with the professors, make sure they aren't getting suspicious, but warn us if they are." He stops then, spectacles gaze scanning the room. "All right, Jax?" he calls, his cheeks suddenly flushing, for no apparent reason.

Gabriel grins as he walks in listening to Gareth. Unlike his friend he is only carrying one book, a slim volume on the theories of dueling. "We're not really breaking any rules thought. Older students will be inviting younger students to the ball. What does it matter if they switch partners after the event has started? But I do think it's a good idea to have at least on Prefect on our side. I hope he's reasonable. I haven't had a chance to really get to know him yet."

Ajax's eyes drift languidly up from the page as Gareth greets him, and the blue-haired prefect offers a smile. "'Lo there, Gareth. I'm well enough. What's news?" He marks his place with a scrap of fabric and closes the book, tucking it away beside him in the chair, and raises his head, twirling his wand idly in the hand that was formerly clenched into a chin-rest. He also looks to Gabriel, offering a nod in greeting.

Gareth suddenly falters, all his carefully-worded arguments tumbling away, his face darkening to a deep crimson. "We…that is, Ward and I…You know Ward, of course, First year. Gabriel, Gabriel Ward. Did I mention he's a First year? But you already know that, of course. Er. That is, we were talking about the masquerade ball that will be held at Hallowe'en, and neither of us have ever attended one before, but of course, being only a First year, Ward needs to be invited by an upperclassman, and…." And that's about as far as his chattering gets him, as his nervous eyes dart to Gabriel for any support.

Gabriel, unlike Gareth, really isn't all that shy. So he just steps forward and continue,"So Gareth invited me so I would be able to stay there the whole time and enjoy all the sweets and the costumes and so that I can see everything without having to be told about it by everyone else afterward. But we've been talking with other first and second year students that would like to go to and spend the whole time there and a lot of them haven't been asked so we thought maybe if we could set up a kind of, companion-swap, then older students could invite younger student and then switch back to their original partner once the whole thing has started." It all comes out in a quick rattle of words, with barely a breath to pause until he finishes and stands there, watching Ajax with an expectant smile.

Raising an eyebrow at Gabriel's sudden explosion of words, Ajax listens temperately enough. He doesn't immediately reply to the idea, though, instead venturing, "All right, Gareth? Surely you don't think I'd have an objection to you asking Ward. And, well, if any other younger kids can get invites, I don't know any rule that says they can't go—and, well, it's not that odd for partners to spend time with others at a party. Of course, any unruliness or rule-breaking would reflect poorly on our house and would get you thrown out anyhow, so I don't see what harm there would be as long as everyone behaves appropriately. It's not like we're a bunch of Gryffindors who've had too much butterbeer, after all."

Gareth's eyes suddenly widen at Ajax's words, and all that color drains from his face. "NO! I mean to say, it isn't like that at all. We're only going together so that he can stay for the ball. We aren't…Tell him we aren't, Ward! We're only friends, is the thing. And that's the entire point, really. First, Second, and Third years can't attend the ball unless an older student invites them, and of course, that normally only happens if they fancy one another. That's why this could make the professors suspicious, because we -don't- fancy each other. And we were rather hoping that you might encourage other upperclassmen to extend invitations to underclassmen, even if they would normally ask someone in a more romantic capacity, with the understanding that they could join with their -real- date once everyone's inside." He turns to Gabriel again. "Am I explaining this right?"

Gabriel looks from Gareth to Ajax and back a couple of times as he tries to understand what's got Gareth so excited then his eyes slowly widen as it sinks in. "Nope. No fancying there at all. Just friends. We're not even using coordinated costumes. Gareth is going as King Arthur so he can wear armor with a visored helmet so he can discourage any opportunity of snogging. And I'm going as a Muggle doctor. See, no coordination at all. And yes, you explained it right." There, that should clear it all up. Yep.

Ajax laughs softly and shakes his head. "I didn't say I thought you two wanted to snog in a broom closet. I said it was fine to ask each other to the party. I don't really know that I'd be inclined to suggest to anyone who they should ask, but if anyone were to come to me - say, like you two - and tell me they were thinking of asking someone who they might not actually fancy, then I would say that I don't see any harm in it." He gives a crooked little smile. "See what I mean?"

Gareth suddenly can't make eye contact with either of the other boys, though he does seem to find Ajax's shoes extremely interesting and worthy of study. "We just don't want the professors to get the idea we're trying to subvert their authority by using legalistic loopholes to bypass the spirit of the rules. But on the other hand, we don't want people to think we fancy each other, especially not the people we really do fancy, who of course, have no idea that we fancy them." He steals a quick glance toward Gabriel, then another to Ajax, which only causes his face to flush once more.

Gabriel turns to look at Gareth, his eyes slowly narrowing as his smile grows bigger,"So you /do/ fancy someone. You know, if you promise to tell me /everything/ about the ball afterward I'll be happy to have you ask the person you /really/ want to ask. I'll even help you if you need it."

One of Ajax's eyebrows drifts up toward the ceiling as he watches the exchange between the two. "It seems to me you're complicating things. You can admit you're going as friends. I don't think there's any rule against that. The professors are making issue of the ball being arranged for students who can be asked as an escort, not who you have to be snogging. Why not just go openly as friends? Or, for that matter, if the person you fancy is old enough, why not just ask them? Seems simpler to me."

Gareth's face suddenly drains of color again, until he rivals the Grey Lady herself, his wide eyes staring at Gabriel in horror. "I can't do that!" he gasps, eyes flicking to Ajax once or twice. "The p-person has no idea I fancy…the person. That's why it isn't s-simple. I certainly can't ask s-someone who might not return my feelings. What if he were to reject me?" Uh oh, was that a pronoun slip? Gareth quickly tries to cover it, shaking his head. "No, no, it's far safer to attend the ball with a friend."

Gabriel starts pulling Gareth towards the door,"Thank you for your support and ideas Ajax. We'll let you get back to your studying now." As he tugs Gareth out through the door he can be heard whispering fiercely at him,"You know, this is silly. If you have someone you really like…"

Ajax peers at the two younger boys, and then he gives up with a shrug. "Well, that's what I think, anyhow. Hope you two have luck sorting out all the tangled affections—and again, I don't see any trouble in inviting an escort as a friend. I'll certainly say so if anyone asks me." He smiles once more, then takes up his book again, re-opening it to the marked place.

Gareth's bag slips from his shoulder, clunking loudly on the floor, as he allows Gabriel to tug him along. "Well, do -you- have someone you really like?" he whispers, just as fiercely. "It's not so easy, just blurting out that you fancy someone, you know. I've been trying to work up the nerve for the last month, ever since term started…."

Gareth is gone only ten or fifteen minutes, and when he returns, he's once more pale and shaking more than a bit. "Er. All right, Jax?" he says, scuffing the toe of his shoe against the carpet and absolutely not making eye contact. "I er…that is, I…forgot my bag." He bends over to snatch the schoolbag, but in his haste, he ends up stepping on the hem of his robe, and when he tries to stand again, he ends up tumbling backward, books scattering across the floor.

Ajax glances up with a smile, nodding to Gareth idly, and he's about to return to his reading when the other suddenly trips and tumbles! Ajax is out of his seat in a flicker, book abandoned and sliding to the floor, to reach out and offer Gareth aid, one hand offered for grasping and the other reaching unconsciously to get a gentle grip on his shoulder. "Whoa, steady on, there! The floor's a rabid beast, you know. I'll go after anyone!" He flashes a quick grin, returning the earlier question back to Gareth. "All right, then, Gareth?"

Gareth is bright red in an instant, and as he takes the offered hand, he suddenly blurts out, "You'retheone!" His other hand claps over his mouth, eyes bulging owlishly behind his glasses, as he lets the prefect help him to his feet. Sucking in several breaths through his nose, he finally lowers his hand and says, "What I mean is…We've known each other for what now, four years? Ever since we first came to Hogwarts as firsties."

Ajax looks a bit startled at first, but he helps Gareth up anyway, then crouches down to begin picking up the books. A good Ravenclaw can't leave books all over the floor, now, can he? As he's occupied with that, Ajax answers, "We have, at that. I've always paid extra attention to you, you know, because you're one of the only ones I don't easily outdo in Charms, and you're much better than I am in other subjects, too. I feel downright lazy compared to you." A pause, and then he stands, holding out the books. "But, um… you're not talking about admiring each other in schoolwork, are you?" He tilts his head a bit, looking thoughtful.

Gareth's hands open and close at his sides, as though he's trying to decide if he should be helping to pick up the books. After all, they're his, and he's the one who tossed them around in the first place. "I just study a lot," he says, doing his best not to stammer. "It's practically all I do. That is, until this term. I know we've never been the best of friends or anything, and that's my fault, because I'm so much more comfortable hiding behind a book or seven. But I have noticed you all this time. I just never thought about you…like that. Until recently, I mean." He takes another long breath, closing his eyes and mentally calculating exactly how many lacewing flies are needed to make a polyjuice potion correctly. This seems to give him the focus he needs to come out with, "What I'm trying to say is…I like you."

Ajax nods a bit, and then instead of handing back the books goes to set them on a table. He picks up his own book, depositing it on the chair. All this is done in silence, and for once he seems to be fully applying his mind to the matter, something he normally doesn't do. Always, with Ajax, it's a dozen different kettles burning over a dozen different fires. Now, he ponders. Finally, he turns back to Gareth and gives a little shrug, spreading his hands. "Well. I don't mean this how it probably sounds, but—why? I mean, I'm a bit flattered, really. You're - well, you're cute, for sure, and you're one of the smartest wizards in our year - in school at all. I've never even applied myself, and I'm… I don't know. Weird. Me. I'm that odd blue-haired bloke who wouldn't stop bending and breaking rules until someone went half mad and clapped a prefect's badge on me. Not that I have a problem with 'me' or anything. I just… I guess I've wondered for a long time now what might make someone 'like' me, and now I can't help wondering why." As to whether he returns the feelings, his mind's still trying to accept the idea of being liked.

Gareth shakes his head helplessly. "Believe me, I've been turning it over and over in my head for weeks now. At first, I thought perhaps it was the badge, as silly as that sounds. You know, how in a story, once the disguised knight is revealed to be a knight, the scornful maiden sees him in a whole new light. But I've never been scornful of you in the least. I always thought you were…well, fascinating, really. Your blue hair, your rebellious nature. And you're not giving yourself nearly enough credit, you're exceptionally intelligent. A bit disorganized in your studies, perhaps, but if you were to apply yourself a little more…." He blinks several times as his brain processes bits of the conversation. "You…think I'm cute? Because I've always thought you were very attractive. Particularly the way your hair brings out the color of your eyes. It's one of the first impressions I had of you, four years ago."

Ajax's lips twitch a bit into that crooked smile of his. "Your hair and eyes are quite a lot like mine, only brown instead of blue. Same unruly, curly mess. Same slight but vital contrast. And your spectacles do add a sort of cerebral air, but you've also got that beauty mark—a touch of glamour to complicate things." His smile widens a bit. "Plenty cute. Maybe not dashing, but that's just because you're not the type. Some wizards try to act like knights. You're a wizard who knows what he is. You'll be Merlin instead of trying to be - well, actually, Gareth WAS a night, wasn't he? But, well, I think my metaphor still stands. Mostly." A beat, and he adds, "If you fancy me, though, we'll have to do something about it. I need to get to know you as something other than a cute, clever rival in charms class."

Gareth's blush returns again, his lips curling in a small grin. "We…should definitely do something about it, yes. We should maybe study together, or have a game of chess. Do you belong to the dueling club? Gabriel's been trying to talk me into joining for days, but I'm not so sure. I really haven't had much opportunity to test all the spells I've read about, and I'm afraid I'd end up getting my nose blown off. And then how would I keep my glasses on? But we should…do things. Together, I mean. Things other than sitting in the same classes or eating at the same table or sleeping in the same…." His eyes widen a touch when he realizes the implication. "Not that we…I mean, everyone sleeps in the same room."

Ajax's smile erupts into a full grin at that. "You really ARE adorable," he declares, reaching over to unceremoniously tousle Gareth's pile of wanton curls. "I'm not a member, but I thought about joining. I was just afraid I'd be too busy. And I'm pretty sure nobody's blasting off noses. But, we could try starting with studying, or taking tea together, or… something like that. I enjoy the company of intelligent people, and of course I like cute boys—so the way I see it, it's a winning scenario either way."

Gareth's grin brightens, actually showing his pearly teeth, and he seems to truly like the hair-tousling. "Now you're just trying to make me blush, and I'm sure it's working. All right then, tomorrow's Saturday, so why don't we have tea together in the Great Hall? And I can show you the study schedule I've laid out for myself for the O.W.L. exams. The sooner we start, you know, the better prepared we'll be. I've left time for the Triwizard Tournament, of course, but only just. Will you be travelling to Durmstrang to watch the trials? Mother and Father have already arranged portkeys, of course, and…." He suddenly pales again. "And I just remembered, I put my name in the Goblet last night, but there's no room in my schedule for actually competing in the thing. I hope the Goblet doesn't select me. I'd just -die- if I got bad marks on my O.W.L.s!"

"All right, then," Ajax says agreeably. "Tea tomorrow. And study plans. And as for the tournament, I suppose I could go to watch. I'm curious enough, but I didn't put my name in the cup. Seemed like more of a commitment than I could handle right now, to be honest." Then he laughs, just lightly. "Well, if it does select you, I'll make a deal: not only will I watch you compete, but as your house prefect I pledge my aid in making sure you don't fall behind in your studies!" He adds cheerily, "There's a shortage of cute yet brilliant males in the world. Can't have you dying and adding to the scarcity."

"I'll hold you to that," Gareth says, grinning once more, as he begins taking the books Ajax so neatly stacked and shoving them back into his bag. "And I should happen to die, I'll expect you to bring new books to my grave every year, so I have something to read in the afterlife. All right then, I'm going up. Being this cute yet brilliant requires a good night's sleep, and I want to be at my best when we have tea tomorrow. Good night, Jax." He starts to turn away, but pauses. "I'm glad Ward talked me into telling you."

"First years," Ajax laughs lightly. "Sometimes, they're shockingly brilliant." He picks up his book, too, and says, "Probably a good decision. I'll go up, as well." He heads for the dormitory, too, looking back to Gareth with that same, slightly crooked smile, and finishes, "G'night, Gareth."

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