(1937-10-27) Bite of the Invisible Mermaid
Details for Bite of the Invisible Mermaid
Summary: Gabriel has another meeting with Nicki. With confusing results that are blamed on invisible mermaid bites.
Date: 1937-10-27
Location: Lake Shore, Hogwarts
Related: Too many to add. Anything having to do with Gabriel/Nicki or Gareth/Ripley/Jax.

This narrow crescent of grainy sand and smooth small beach stones spans east to west between the cliff face to the east and the large fortified stone campus perimeter wall to the west that runs north to south until it runs many yards into the water of the Black Lake itself and further off to the north. The only spot along the shore that isn't given completely to a topography of rocks and roots, the latter of which extend right out into the lake, it's a commonplace sight to see students hopping about on the rocks or skipping stones across the water.


It seems that fishing is a routine thing with Gabriel. Dusk is approaching turning the usually black waters of the lake a burnished gold color with glitters and flashes bouncing the tips of the waveletts formed by the slight breeze blowing over the lake. Gabriel is sitting in the exact same place as he usually does, leaning back against a rock, his eyes closed and his body wrapped in his cloak to protect from the slight chill of the approaching evening.

Having spent the morning over at the CoMC barn, Nicki decides to divert her usual path directly back to the dungeons, heading for the lake instead. A smile comes as she crests a hill and sees her new friend in the same spot where she met him last week. As she approaches him, stepping carefully once she reaches the rocks, she calls out, "Hallo Gabriel."

Either he wasn't dozing as deeply as last time or he might have even been expecting company but Gabriel doesn't jump the same way he did last time. He does take a couple of visibly deep breath before turning his head and smiling at Nicki,"Oh! Hi! Did you come to see the fish?" He quickly turns back to his reel and starts cranking the handle, even thought there's been no indication at all of a bite. The observant person might notice a slight red tinge creeping up his ears. But that's just the cold, right?

She stops about the same spot she was in as well, last weekend, and comfortably folds down to sit on a flat rock. "I did. Have you caught many today?" Her eyes are on the line he's pulling in, so Nicki misses that bit of red. "Do they even bite when it gets this cold?" she asks, her voice curious.

Gabriel keeps his eyes firmly on his line. And the line pops out of the water with no fish, or anything else for that matter, attached to it. This seems to confuse the little Ravenclaw as he just peers at the line while he talks,"They do. They still need food, even when the weather gets cold. There's just some species that stop biting. Did I thank you for the candy? I think I thanked for the candy… I'm not sure I thanked you for the candy… Thank you for the candy!" He futzes around with his line a little then casts it back in, the red in his ears going up a notch and starting to show up on his cheeks now.

For all the studying of animals she does, Nicki can't claim to know much about fish. She looks to him as he mentions the candy again, smiling broadly. "I pick up two of everything I like best when I go in. They have a lot more, so I hope those were some things you liked." The candy usually lasts her the full two weeks between allowed trips, so she may fall a little short this time, but it's worth having shared it. She does notice that bit of redness now, and asks "Are you warm enough? The wind is starting to pick up, and it's getting a bit stronger as the sun is going down."

Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy goes the tip of Gabriel's fishing rod. Not because of a bite but because now he seems to have developed a vibration in his foot that's being transmitted to the rod. "Huh? Warm? Cold? Nooo… Actually its kind of hot here? Do you think its hot? I think its getting hot. I wonder if the sun is getting closer as it set and that's why is getting hot around here all of the sudden. The water is really shiny, don't you think?" Contradicting what he's saying his hands dash up and pull his cloak up so now he's so bundled up you can only see his eyes and the black mop of hair on the top of his head.

If Nicki notices his agitation, she doesn't show it. In truth, she's pleasantly oblivious, being even less versed in matters of boys and girls than most of her peers. Her future is set, she doesn't have to think about it. The fact that she likes those rather risque romance books that are going around doesn't have the slightest bearing on anything. "I think it's beautiful, the reflection of the sun on the water as it sets. But I do think it's getting colder, and not warmer."

Gabriel shakes his head vigorously enough to make his hair flare out."Nope. I have to disagree. Warm warm warm. And yes, I liked the candies very much. All of them." Looking at her now out of the corner of his eye for a moment then he focuses back on the tip of his rod, still bouncing around as if there was five fish on the line instead of none. "It is really pretty. Shiny, shiny water… Where were you coming from?" Ah, good ol' curiosity to the rescue.

Nicki hmms thoughtfully, looking at Gabriel a bit more carefully for a moment. "I hope you aren't getting sick. Do you think you're getting sick?" She'd probably be able to tell better if he were an animal and not a boy. "Oh, I was over helping tend some of the Care of Magical Creatures animals. That's what I'm learning about. Animals."

It seems that fishing is a routine thing with Gabriel. Dusk is approaching turning the usually black waters of the lake a burnished gold color with glitters and flashes bouncing off the tips of the wavelets formed by the slight breeze blowing over the lake. Gabriel is sitting in the exact same place as he usually does, leaning back against a rock, while Nicki has taken a seat on another rock fairly close to Gabe, who at the moment is bundled up in his cloak to the point of only leaving his mop of black hair and his eyes visible and the fishing rod poking out the front. "Sick!? No! Why would I be getting sick? My dad taught me how to tell when people are getting sick so if I was getting sick I would know I was sick… Do you think I'm sick?" The last is follow by Gabe sticking his head out from his cloak and sticking his tongue out like one does at the doctor's, going "Ahhhhhhh!" with his eyes scrunched shut.

Well, for all the bad reputation Slytherins have, Nicki seems to buck that in many ways. Like now, as she helpfully leans forward, trying to associate what knowledge of animals she has to the boy nearby. But mostly, she's just looking into his mouth without a clue. "Um…. you don't look sick," she finally says, for lack of anything better to say.

For once, Gareth isn't lugging half the library around with him, and the lack of extra weight on his shoulder causes his stride to be just a bit off, as though he's not used to being completely upright. He makes his way toward the lake, holding one hand above his eyes as a shield against the setting sun, robes flapping about in the evening breeze.

Warren is here to do things. Some sort of things. It's not really clear what, only that he apparently needs to be in the water to do it. He's got his clothing hiked up around his ankles, a large basket, and a pair of gloves on. All and all he looks rather undignified. His eyes are mostly on the water, so it's not until he's almost at the edge of the lake that he actually spots other people out in the dimming light. The boy squints, beginning to slide his way over in the direction of firsties.

Well, someone just realized exactly what he's doing. With a start, Gabriel pops away from from Nicki and back to where he was sitting and, if anything, he's even redder than he as before. That particular condition isn't noticeable for long thought, because he ducks his head back under his cloak, once again showing only the top of his head and his eyes. "Oh. Good. I'm not sick. Good… Good… What animals where you taking care of? Oh, and you're a Slytherin." It seems that that little fact of what house she belongs to is only now sinking into Gabriel's brain.

A set of steps comes closer to those that are along the lake shore, the sound of the steps is in a run. As they come closer, they seem to belong to one Ripley Fox. He comes closer decked out in some kind of work out gear and he's got a good sweat working at the moment. He comes to a slowing stop and then looks at those that have gathered around the lake, "Hey all." he says with an easy smile and a wave.

Nicki notes Warren's approach, and watches the older boy curiously as he wades through the water. When Gabe speaks again her attention returns to him. "I was taking care of the puffskeins today. I like them, but they're a little boring compared to some of the other animals." She turns when she hears a familiar voice, shading her eyes at the side so she can see more clearly. "Hallo Ripley," she greets her housemate cheerily. The twist has also brought the approach of Gareth to her attention and she offers a smile as well to the boy who's name she never did catch the other evening.

Claire has the hood of her cloak up and a broom resting across her shoulders. It makes her look a bit like a giant walking scarecrow. She is coming along the bank from the Quidditch pitch, which I'm pretty sure is reasonable but frankly I have no idea how the grounds are laid out. "Hello, boys," she says when she gets close to the others. She lowers the hood and gives a nod to Nicki, including her in the greeting.

Gareth catches sight of Warren first, since he's walking around in the cold water, but following Warren with his eyes leads Gareth to the others as well. "All right, everyone?" he asks, squinting against the sunset's glare on his glasses. "Bennett, are you mad? You'll catch your death, splashing around in that freezing lake. Hello again, Rousseau. Gabriel, is that you hiding under there? And…oh." The moment he recognizes Ripley, his face turns almost as red as Gabriel's, and he quickly looks away, only to spot Claire, to whom he gives a speechless nod.

Gabriel buries his head even deeper into his cloak, tossing the hod up now so he suddenly looks like a boulder and a ninja had a baby. His eyes were on Nicki until he suddenly starts hearing voices left and right. Now they are back on the tip of the fishing rod he's holding under his cloak. In a muffled little voice he says,"Oh. Puffskeins. Little fluff balls. Little fluff balls with legs. Cute fluff balls with legs. Cute, yep, cute."

Ripley reaches up with his arm and wipes the sweat off his brow as he stands still to catch his breath. "Hello Gareth." He says with a warm smile to the other boy before his eyes take him around, "Puffskeins. Always wanted to see what they would be like in a Quidditch match. Imagine seeking them as they fly through the air." He looks about to the others, "Who do you think is going to win the 'don't duel' duels?"

Warren peeks over toward Gareth when he's spotted, peering over at the other boy for a second before he replies, "No, not quite." He adds, "I'm not splashing yet. Besides, I can cure whatever I catch." He dips his head over at Claire, at other people all clustered around. "I've made a potion out of one," He chimes helpfully.

"Cute legs," Gareth murmurs, glancing at Ripley, then immediately falls to blushing once more. "I mean, cute -with- legs. Gabriel, what are you doing, hiding under your robe? Are you afraid the Giant Squid will recognize you?" He glances between the ninja-boulder love child and Nicki, then nods. "Oh. I see." Then he steals another glance toward the Slytherin boy, finally mustering, "Hello, Ripley. All right?"

Nicki's attention returns to Gabriel, since he was originally keeping her company before everyone came out to the lake. "Would you like to come see them sometime, Gabriel? No one would mind, since they aren't dangerous. We play with them all the time." The older boys and their talk of odd things to do with Puffskeins are ignored, because Nicki mostly thinks boys their age are going through some sort of dementia and it's impolite to point it out. Claire gets a smile, and Nicki notes, "I saw you and Lucian duel. You both fought well."

Ripley looks to Gareth and reaches out to ruffles the other boy's hair, "Thank you." He says with a chuckle. "Just working out some." He stands nearby Gabriel and looks about, "What is everyone up to?"

Claire shifts her broom to just one shoulder. She smiles at Nicki. "Thank you. Lucian is probably the best duelist in the school. I was lucky to have lasted as long as I did." Suddenly, she snaps and points to Warren. "Oh, could I get you to make me an aging potion? I need it for the Halloween Feast."

"No! Yes! Maybe!" Deep breath Gabriel deep breath. The little Ravenclaw is taking such deep breath, so fast after a moment he says,"Yes, I'd like to see puffskeins. NO, I don't care about the giant squid. Maybe I'm OK. Does being a little dizzy count as being OK? Why am I a little dizzy? Everything is all wobbly?"

"Nothing." Warren offers this to the question of his doings. Which is a pretty awful lie, but he doesn't seem to be trying very hard. All these people, though, they seem to have distracted him for the moment. He peers over at Claire, a small roll of shoulders and a quick smile parceled out. "If you're still taking that kid I want you to, sure. You did good in the duel, by the way." On that topic. He turns to peer at Gabriel after that. Suspicious!

Gareth is being hair-ruffled, and at first, he actually seems to nuzzle against Ripley's hand. But a moment later, leaps backward, his eyes bugging wide, darting around to each of the others, without actually landing on anyone in particular, until he gets to Gabriel. "If you're not hiding from the squid, are you pretending to be a turtle?" Because that sounds like a fun game right about now. Too bad Gabriel thought of it first.

Nicki reaches over and pats where she roughly thinks Gabriel's shoulder is, "Are you sure you're feeling alright, Gabriel? Maybe you should take that cloak off if you're still too warm?" She looks around to the others, hopefully. Surely one of these older students knows a more about it than she does.

Claire gives a small nod to Warren, before turning a worried look on Gabriel. "I don't think dizzy counts as ok. Do you think you can make it to the infirmary? Maybe you should lie down," she says dubiously. If he falls in the lake she is SO not saving him.

Ripley gives a little wry grin as Gareth jumps backwards and looks to Nicki, "What seems to be the trouble in all?" He starts to walk over to where Gabriel is and looks at the boy a little sideways. "Breathe, man. Take a deep breath."

A little boy approaches the crowd, he wears his robes, hood up and is toting his prop swords under his arm, his usual goodie burlap sack hangs from one shoulder and his leather satchel from the other and he waddles along, smelling like chocolate, peppermint and some type of pastry. The one eyed boy hums softly to himself, skipping over a few steps before staring as he notices the gathering with a curious expression. "Oi! 'ello there! What are ye all doin?" A suspicious narrowing of his eye. "What 'ave ye done /now/ - dun worry Seaman, m' comin', I'll 'ave all these old huckberries and hags in the brig for this…dun go down to davy jones, I'll get you…" Okay, so he tries to run, and trip and run to get to his little turtle friend.

Gabriel looks around through the slit he's left in the cloak and fixes on Ripley of all people,"Deep breath's OK, deep breaths. And puffskeins, I think puffskeins will help…" He keeps breathing just as fast as before but now he's taking even deeper breaths, and starts to actually wobble from side to side.

The touch that was soft on Gabriel's should takes an extra strength as the boy begins to wobble. Nicki frowns deeply, edging closer to Gabe, as the rocks allow. She makes an attempt to pull the cloak back from his head. "I don't think that's helping at all," she says, concern in her voice.

Gareth casts a glance toward Claire and mouths the words, "Girl crush," soundlessly. He looks around once more, definitely -not- looking at Ripley this time, before slowly stepping toward ninja-turtle. Oh, but then Cillian in is running up, and Gareth quickly steps aside, not wanting to be the cause of a collision. "Oi, Captain!" he shouts. "Watch where you're going."

Ripley shakes his head, "No. I don't believe it is at all. Gabriel. Breathe… Normally." He speaks and moves towards Gabriel and tries to pull the hood off the boy before he hyperventilates. "Nicki. Could you get a glass of water, please? Over there." He points away from where they are.

An arm is waved around to make sure people get out of the way as he was going to be making a beeline for where Gabriel is…then the older kids step in and he has to skid to a stop, the Captain is held back by…people's presence and he can only sigh and stomp his foot. "I've me eye on ye cannibals." He eyes Gareth. "As you were." He looks back to Gabriel with understandable concern before he turns to trudge back in the direction of the castle.

Warren's lips purse as he observes Gabriel's progression toward more and more breathing. Warren doesn't know a whole lot about medicine, but he knows that probably isn't the best thing. So the prefect sets his basket down, sliding over to crouch down next to the boy. "Are you alright?" Lots of peering ensues. More like the first year is some kind of odd lab specimen than anything else.

Claire reads Gareth's lips, well enough to get the message at least, but the message doesn't make any sense. Her face says Huh? and she mouths back "Who?" She backs away, to give Cillian and Gabriel space and place her next to Gareth where she can whisper, "Who, Gabriel? What are you talking about?"

Get water? The only drinking water she can think of is back at the castle. "Alright," Nicki says, bouncing to her feet. "I'll get him some water." She sprints off without waiting, unwilling to lose a new friend just because she's slow to get him water!

Gabriel allows people to pull his cloak's hood off his head then starts looking around when he hears Cillian,"Cap'n! What's happenin'? Have we hit a squall that everythin's so wobbly?" Some of the exhortations that he start breathing normally seem to sink in as the breaths he's taking are just as deep but they are definitely slowing down. "wait! Where's me' Puffskein going?"

Gareth steps closer to Claire then, whispering, "Gabriel, Nicki, and so forth. He doesn't consciously realize it, of course. And unless I'm mistaken, neither does she."

"She's going to get you some water." Ripley responds to the man. His brow lifts a little bit as he looks to Cillian, "Captain?" And then he shakes his head before he looks to Gareth a bit, listening to what the man says, "Gabriel. What happened?" He says like an ignorant person trying to talk to someone deaf.

Claire blinks. Twice. "That's stupid," she says, no longer whispering. "That's stupid, right? I'm not the only one that sees that?"

Warren seems a little assured by Gabriel's breathing becoming slower, the prefect peering over at the other students, back toward the younger again. "Gabriel," He intones with father-like sobriety. "You should calm down. I don't want to have to drag you to the nurse." Because he has things to catch.

Cillian pauses as he looks over his shoulder to Gabriel and the others and he offers solemnly. "The older kids 'ave captured ye. I 'ave to figure out ransome, hold in there…mate, be brave…"

Ripley lifts a brow and looks to Cillian, "Older kids. I be your Da in a new form." He says, trying to imitate Cillian's voice as a lark. "Iffin I be yer da, then ya has ta listen ta me." He casts a wink towards Gareth.

Gabriel starts to make a little more sense as he starts breathing more normally. And everyone can tell his brain is kicking into gear again because he starts blushing again as he begins to realize he's making a scene,"Aye, aye Cap'n. I'll not say a word to tha' lan'lubbers!" Looking around the people that are gather near him he sees Gareth and goes becomes him over with a hand creeping out of his cloak, pretending no one else is there. Once Gareth is close enough he asks,"What happened? One second I was speaking with the Slytherin girl about the sun on the water and fishes and the next second there's lots of people and Cillian's telling me I've been captured… I'm a little confused…"

Gareth frowns a touch to Claire. "It's not stupid at all. It's perfectly normal, at his age." At Ripley's words though, he turns with a quirked brow, shaking his head. "Wrong approach," he says softly, then leans closer to Gabriel as he begins to whisper. "You were probably bitten by an invisible mermaid. Tricky little buggers, they are. But I think you'll recover quite well." He glances down toward Nicki, a small grin on his lips. "The Slytherin girl is pretty, isn't she? I mean, for a girl. Maybe she's the mermaid in disguise."

Cillian's expression is rather flat as he just stares at Ripley with his good eye and his eyebrow above his eyepatch raises a fraction. He's just going to stare now…and stare a little longer. Then…a little longer. Then he sighs and marches back up towards the group, offering Gareth a bar of high quality chocolate that he pulls out of his bag. "Here, give 'em this when he comes round." Then he looks at the others with a soft snort, u-turn to head back towards the castle.

Once Gabriel is no longer at critical mass Warren seems to decide that there's nothing else that needs to be done here. He makes a face of mild distaste at pirate talk, mermaids, and pretty girls in general, and then slides to snag his basket again. He nods at the two older Ravenclaw's muttering, "Well, all's well here. Try to be back by curfew, would you?" Not that Warren will be. He's off to go catch fish, or weeds, or whatever he's doing with that basket in the lake.

Although she ran as fast as she could, it still takes Nicki a few minutes to get to the castle, scare up a glass of water, and then run back. And by the time she arrives, at least half the water has splashed out. She arrives just as Cillian and Warren move to leave, and she stops by Gabriel, drops to his level, and pushes the glass toward him. "Here's some water!"

Ripley stares back to Cillian with a bit of a grin and a shake of his head. He moves in behind Gareth and leans over the other boy's shoulder as he gives a wave to Warren, "Thanks for the help." And as Nicki comes back with the water he watches as Gabriel see her come back.

"Well not that, I mean," Claire drops her voice in the interest of decorum, "I mean the not talking part. How are they supposed to figure it out if they never talk about it? And for that matter, how do they not get it, but you do?"

Gabriel glares a little bit at Gareth as he starts talking about invisible mermaids."I'm not that much out of it. There's no such thing as invisible mermaids. Unless someone cast a…" and right around them Nicki comes back and Gabriel's brain switches partially off again. "Oh! Circe. Water. Thanks." And he mechanically take the glass of water and starts to drink.

Gareth takes the chocolate from Cillian with a smile and a nod of thanks, then slowly begins to unwrap it for Gabriel. "Here, this will make you feel better," he says, offering it to Gabriel, just as Nicki comes running up with the water. He leans back than…right into Ripley, and this time, he doesn't pull away. "Well, they haven't gotten that far yet," he tells Claire. "And I only know because I read more books on the subject than he does. And…other things." A shiver runs through him, as he lets his head drop back against Ripley's chest, eyes closed for a long moment.

Nicki watches Gabriel hopefully, as he seemed to have been much better a moment ago, but then he begins to speak in short bursts again and her frown returns. She looks around to the older students that remain. "Do you think we ought to get him to the infirmary or something?"

Ripley shakes his head, "I think he's all right." As he stands there with Gareth's head on his chest. He gives a little bit of a smile and wraps an arm around the other boy and hugs him close. So much for secrets in the world. "I don't think anything is really wrong with him. Maybe just an infatuation of sorts."

And then Claire used her powers of observation. She fixes Gareth an Ripley with the studying look you might use to examine a specimen of aquatic plant you've never seen before. Then she rolls her eyes hard and lifts her hands in a silent plea to some higher power.

Gabriel perks up as both the word infirmary and infatuation are used."No! I'm fine, really. No need for the infirmary. The water helped, thank you. And I am /not/ infatuated with anything. I was fishing, then started talking with Nicki, then had a breathing episode and now everything is OK. And there are no invisible mermaids. None at all. And I get to see puffskeins soon." While he's speaking his eyes are glued to his fishing rod, which he somehow didn't drop throughout the whole thing. Except when they keep drifting sideways towards Nicki, making him look like he's watching a game of Muggle tennis.

Gareth lets out a small, happy sound…then realizes just what's happening, and in front of whom. He tenses up then, eyes flying open like window blinds that have been pulled too quickly. "Fine! He's fine, I mean. I'm fine, he's fine, everyone's fine. Aren't you fine, Gabriel? See, he's fine. His only problem is that he needs a date to the Hallowe'en ball. Being only a firstie, he can't go without an older date. Where, O where can we find a Fourth year who will take him, purely as a friend and not because of any other reason?" Smoooooooooth, that's Gareth's middle name.

Oh look! Gabriel is speaking like a normal human being again! The word 'infatuation' being bandied about draws a puzzled look, and her eyes drift to Claire. Was it about the time Claire arrived that Gabriel started having troubles? She glances to Gabriel, then back at Claire. Wow, he likes tall girls. And then Gareth starts talking about the coming dance. Maybe Gabriel wants to go with Claire? No other thought occurs to her, of course, because her own future is already decided, and that alone means that she doesn't have to deal with any of this stuff like everyone else, and she can keep her head about her.
… Says Nicki.

Ripley stays where he is, holding Gareth back against him. "See. Gabriel is fine." Before he sneaks a kiss to Gareth's shoulder and pulls away from the other boy to look out at the water, "How's the fishing?" He asks and looks to that pole.

Claire shakes her head, dismayed at the shortsightedness of her peers. "Gabriel, try not to pass out and fall in the lake and drown," she offers before shouldering her broom and walking back towards the castle.

Oh no, Gareth has caught whatever horrible affliction was affecting Gabriel! That's the only explanation, since Gareth is now dark red again, shivering at the tiny kiss upon his shoulder. He starts to fall back against Ripley again…but Ripley isn't there anymore! The Ravenclaw's arms flail back, catching himself before he tumbles backward, but in overcompensating, he ends up falling forward instead, the top of his head thunking against Gabriel's shoulder. After he manages to get himself back into an upright kneeling position, he lets out an exasperated sound. "Well?" he demands of Nicki. "Are you going to step up and help him, or not?" Because the subtle approach was obviously not working. And by 'subtle', we mean 'plainly stupid'.

Gabriel nods mutely to Claire then decides that's not enough,"Yes, Mam." before spinning on Gareth and pinning him with a glare,"One of my /best friends/ is taking me and I /know/ that /he's/ not going to back out of that" and his eyes shift up to Ripley as he continues,"regardless of what new /temptations/ have been occupying his time lately. He's not that kind of person, now /is/ he?" For a moment he seems to consider being rude and then remembers a conversation from a few nights ago and just replies in a very neutral tone,"Fish didn't bite today…" and in the interest of full disclosure adds,"At least I don't think they did."

Ripley gives a little chuckle to Gabriel, "He's taking you. Don't fret." As he gives a little wink to Gareth and smirks. "No biting. Huh. too bad for that."

Nicki pushes up to her feet, backing up a few steps away from the apparently now perfectly fine Gabriel and the sudden attack of dizziness on Gareth. Is it catching?! Confusion is on Nicki's face as she looks between the three remaining boys. She doesn't even get a chance to say anything to Gareth before Gabriel is going on about already going to the dance with someone, so what is Gareth talking about. Whatever is going on between Gareth and Ripley doesn't even get much of a thought from Nicki, she's too busy deciding these three all must be getting into that phase. Whatever that means, but she's heard Mother say it. "Look… I think I'd better just go. I've got some studying to do." On a Saturday night. There's one more puzzled look before she says to Gabriel with a small smile, "I'm glad you're feeling better." Hm, and right after Claire left. Nicki says a quick goodbye, and heads back to the castle before she catches something.

Gareth reels backward from Gabriel's sudden outburst, eyes wide. "What? Who? I didn't…What? Of /course/ I'm taking you, unless you get another invitation from someone you'd rather go with, which apparently won't be happening any time soon. What new temptations? I never…What?" He sputters a few more times, then can't even put together three letters into a word, so he falls silent, looking stunned at his younger, but aggressive friend.

Gabriel crosses his arms and settles into his rocky seat with his fishing rod laying next to him, lodged between two rock with the line still disappearing into the dark waters of the lake,"Hmph. Ok then. And what /are/ you talking about, someone else taking me. I don't have anyone I want to take me." Keep telling yourself that, Gabe, maybe you'll start believe it. "I've told you. All girls want to do is snog and snogging is nothing but trading bacteria and viruses."

Ripley looks to Gabriel and just grins wide, "Clearly… You haven't been snogged." He looks to Gareth for a bit and then back to Gabriel. "Trading bacteria and viruses is quiet fun. And when you get sick together you can curl up with each other."

Gareth shivers a bit, once more pinking at Ripley's words, but it's Gabriel he addresses. "Or you could go to the nurse and ask for an anti-barkteria potion to take before the dance," he suggests. "Surely if barkterias are as dangerous as you say, there must be a potion or charm against them." He risks a quick peek toward Ripley, continuing: "Snogging isn't as bad as you think. It's actually quite…fun." Then he straightens his shoulders and puts on his Ravenclaw-academic voice. "And from a purely intellectual standpoint, one really must experience an activity before dismissing it out of hand. Only then can one make a truly logical conclusion."

Gabriel leans himself back again the larger stone behind him and peers at Gareth and Ripley,"If you'd seen what I've seen you wouldn't be saying that. If I can't get my dad to send me a microscope lets see if your parents will let you spend at least part of Christmas break with me, then I'll show you a bac-te-ria" He enunciates bacteria carefully so Gareth can get it right,"at my father's office. You'd be amazed how many of the critters are in simple water, let alone saliva."

Ripley gives a shake of his head, "Right. And knowing what is in my saliva will not stop me from kissing someone." He says and folds his arms across his chest. "Won't stop me at all." He grins a bit and looks to Gareth, almost daring the boy to kiss him right there. He waggles his eyebrows now, maximum embarrassment potential.

Gareth just so happened to be glancing in Ripley's direction when those brows waggle, and it causes the Ravenclaw to audibly gasp, a quick shiver running through him, as his eyes lock on the Slytherin's lips. "G-Gabriel, trust me when I say, when you're being kissed and kissed well, back-tear-rias are the last thing on your mind." Another shiver, then he turns back to Gabriel. "Besides, nobody says you /have/ to snog at the ball. You can dance, eat loads of candy, and make yourself sick that way. No back-tear-rias involved in dancing, is there? So it's a fairly safe activity, yes?"

Gabriel turns over to the side an makes retching noises before going back to the conversation,"You two are /gross/! I'm not planning on making myself sick in anyway. I'll eat just enough sweets to be /almost/ sick." Time to think about the dancing. Dancing, dancing, dancing. Stomped toes. Sweaty hands all over the back. Faces really, really close,"No way, the risk of snogging ensuing from dancing is too big. UNless its swing, then your throwing the girl all around so she doesn't have a chance to get too many ideas. But I'd need to look like Ripley there to be able to toss a girl around like that, so that'll have to wait for a few years. No. No dancing either. The risk is too big."

Ripley looks between Gabriel and Gareth, "You both can look like me. Go work out with me. It will happen." He looks about and then just steps up behind Gareth and wraps his arms around the boy's shoulders and pulls him back against his chest. "Some day. I promise you. You will come running up to me and go 'SNOOGGING IS THE BEST'."

Gareth stops to think for a moment, regarding Gabriel. Did he want to dance at that age? He certainly didn't want to snog. Ew! And now that he thinks about it, dancing was out of the question, too. He nods then, giving a small smile. "All right then. No snogging, no dancing, no making yourself sick with candy. Still, that doesn't mean you can't have fun at the dance anyway, right? There will be all those nice costumes to see, and people to talk to. And maybe you can, I don't know, hold someone's hand for a few minutes while you talk. Isn't there anyone you'd like to…." Further words vanish as Ripley pulls him against his firm chest and suddenly shouts about snogging. With a small wimper, Gareth can only stay there, leaning back against the athletic Slytherin and shivering a bit.

Gabriel waves his hand at the wrist to the other two boys and looks away for a moment,"What has gotten into you Gareth, all this talk about me wanting to do someone with something?? And I bet you ten galleons I'll never, ever do that Ripley. I have to much stuff to do to be worrying about girls and snogging and all that." He starts ticking things off on his fingers,"I have to figure out how to combine Muggle medicine and Wizard healing, I have to learn how to turn myself into a Scopes owl, I have to get good enough grades to become a Healer, and in the more immediate future I have to figure out how to learn Braille so we can start working on the wi…" here he stops and frown,"ON the secret project."

Ripley shakes his head and reaches a hand out to Gabriel, "I will take that bet. The day I see you walking around with a boy or girl on your arm and wanting to run off an song is when you will pay me."

Gareth suddenly tenses, letting out a small whimper. "And I have exams and OWLs coming up, on top of all my regular studies, and a family to keep happy, and I /still/ haven't talked to Jax, and the dance is only a few days away, and I haven't started work on my costume, and /something/ keeps distracting me at night when I really should be studying or sleeping or…."

Gabriel shakes Ripley's hand,"Easy money." then starts picking up his stuff to start the walk back to the castle,"I told you to stop reading that book. Anyway, if we don't rush back we won't make curfew. Shall we?"

Gareth suddenly takes Gabriel's shoulder in his hand, leaning down just a bit, so their faces are level. "Nobody knows about this, all right?" He glances significantly toward Ripley, then back to Gabriel. "Not yet, not till I can talk to Jax once and for all. Till then, it's a secret, all right?"

Gabriel doesn't look happy about the whole idea but nods anyway. "You're my friend not them. So its your choice but I still think this is a mistake."

Gareth quirks a brow. "Mistake? Oh. Look, the last thing I ever wanted was to hurt Jax. I /like/ him. But you've seen how it is. He's avoiding me, doesn't want anything to do with me. It's better if we just make a clean break, so he doesn't get hurt any more. Don't you think?"

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