(1938-10-23) Stuck
Details for Stuck
Summary: Ria and Lucian get trapped in the prefects bathroom, and the confrontation they've both been avoiding erupts.
Date: 23 October, 1938
Location: Prefects Bathroom, Hogwarts Castle
Related: Daddy Dearest

Between her daily responsibilities, Ria has deemed today a prefect's bathroom day and immediately made for the facility after dinner. Sounds of the tub draining itself echo off the room's marble while she slips her skirt back on and only buttons her shirt halfway. Her bare feet quietly patter when she walks over to pickup a her towel, and standing in front of the mirror she takes a long look at herself before sighing and drying her soaking hair. For once Ria seems quite relaxed, humming lightly to herself as she takes this necessary time to primp and preen.

A disturbance in the pleasant solitude of the Prefect's Bathroom is announced by the groan of hinges and the clacking of the door latch. Another has entered, and moments later, the golden-haired Lucian Proudmore appears, a towel draped over one arm. Though wandering through his own thoughts, when he becomes aware of another presence he stops in his tracks, his eyes locking onto Ria. His heart pounds heavily in his chest, and for a moment, time stands still. What to do? They'd managed not to actually remain long in one another's presence this school year, things having gotten so awkward since a fateful visit to the Sykes home ended their relationship. He sighs, speaking in a low tone. "I'll come back later." He turns on his heel, ready to head out, but recoils when a brightly-coloured blur zips past his face.

"Heeee-hee-hee-hee! What's this?" Peeves the poltergeist zips in circles through the air around the bathroom. "AAAARia Sykes and Little Lucy Proudmore having a secret rendezvous? Gonna kiiiiiss?" The spirit makes smoochy sounds with his lips between cackles. When Lucian makes to continue toward the door, Peeves darts ahead of him. "Not so fast, loverboy!" Giggling maniacally, he barrels through the door, which slams shut behind him.

The soft humming continues for a while, until Ria hears movement at the door which opens up. Scowling, she's ready to strike with a sharp, "Excuse me. There's someone-" She freezes mid-sentence, mid-hair drying, with her mouth frozen in place. For what seemed like an eternity, her own green eyes stare back at him, a mix of defensive annoyance and pure anxiety strewn across her face. What should she say to him? She can't even think. He fortunately makes the move to leave, which rectifies the situation and for a split second she breathes just a little easier. Of course, she doesn't stop him from going. Something else does that for her. An 'eeeek' of surprise comes when the poltergeist comes from nowhere, and then a look of dread when he locks the door behind him. No, no, no, no. "Peeves, cut it out," she growls, stomping past Lucian and toward the door where she makes an attempt to open it.

The door remains stuck fast in spite of Ria's tugging. Lucian grumbles and steps up behind her. "Look out. I'll do it." He draws his wand, waiting for her to move aside and aiming at the handle and intoning, "Alohomora." There is no click of the latch heard. He gives it a futile tug. Nothing. Frowning, he aims again, "Emancipare!" He yanks at the handle again, which remains firmly wedged in place. "DAMN it, Peeves!" he roars at the door, pounding it with his fist. Leaning up against it on his forearm, he turns his hard gaze toward Ria. "I have no idea what he did to jam this."

Ria steps to the side momentarily to let Lucian do his work, confident he'll get them out. Yet that confidence wanes more and more as his efforts bring no fruit. Rather than accepting the situation, she says irritably, "It's because you're doing it wrong." And grabbing her wand from her neatly folded old clothes (because only Ria folds her dirty laundry), she too attempts an Emancipare. More than once. And after realizing nothing will make it budge, she too stands defeated next to Lucian before the door. A heavy sigh and mutters with a scowl, "This is absolutely ridiculous … " Looking over her should at him briefly, she opens her mouth to say something, but is suddenly uncomfortable with their proximity. So she instantly looks down at her barefeet, an awkward moment before stepping a few feet away while proposing, "There's go to be someway we can reach someone. Anyone."

Lucian rolls his eyes, gesturing dramatically for her to try. At least he manages to contain his smugness at her inability to free them. "Sure. We could shout at the door until our throats go hoarse. Face it, we're here until another prefect tries to use the bathroom." He gives the door a solid kick of frustration. That'll teach it.

Ria shakes her head in utter refusal and disbelief. "No. No that can't be true," she bites her lip now, growing worried, "But that…that might not happen until tomorrow." Her brow sinks with worry and she seats herself at the edge of the large tub. A hand rubs her face and she leans forward to rest her hands on her knees. "This is just perfect. If we're found … we could get into trouble … and …. what would people think?" That last part she murmurs, though the whole sentence was really her just thinking out loud. A sigh and she places her face in her palms continuing to mutter, "Perfect. Just perfect…"

Lucian leans up against a Romanesque pillar, crossing his arms. "Yes, of course. What will people think? That should be our worry. I mean, what if your father should find out?" Here it comes. The snark, the snarl. He'd been containing it so far, but… "Merlin knows who else you might have to throw away if that should happen."

Ria's head snaps back up again, eyes narrowing. There's the bite, and she can't help but scratch back. "Yes, it should be a concern. Even if you never care for what others think, I do," she snips. "Because I have at least a modicum of sense to realize that whatever I do gets back to my father. And if anything he hears displeases him, there's goes my freedom - poof." She flicks her wrist as if conjuring a plume of smoke. "There goes the trust he has in me, and I have to start over from square on to gain it back again." Crossing her arms she too looks at Lucian defiantly, "But you don't care about that do you? All you care about is people taking you seriously. About proving your honor and your worth. And you're so adamant about it, that you believe everyone else's number one concern should be to support you."

Lucian glares right back at her, his pulse starting to race as his temper rises. "That's bollocks. There was one person whose opinion mattered to me, Ria. YOU, and you bloody well know it. How stupid of me to think that mine might actually matter to you. What a shocking idea that you might actually stand up to your father for someone who would do anything for you. You're a bloody adult. You're capable of making your own choice. So don't you dare hide behind dear daddy's approval to defend what you did."

"I care about my father's approval," Ria says it clearly, plainly, straightforwardly enough so that it piercing like an arrow. "There. I said it. I care about my father's approval." She pauses to stare fiercely at Lucian as she stands up. "Is that such an odd thing? To put my family at top priority, so that everything is ancillary? Yes, even you, Lucian." The usage of his full name is intentional, distancing. "Just because you hate your father doesn't mean I hate mine. And if you cared for my opinion, you would already know that my family comes first. If you don't like it, you can jog on." She takes a step forward, "I never asked you to jilt that dirty Davies girl." And while Ria literally means hygenically dirty, something about the way she says it indicates the girl is dirty in other way. "Neither have I ever pressured you to not care about that lecturer - what's her name - Camilla." The tone in that still reeks slightly of jealousy. "So why must I be the one to go against my family?"

Lucian glowers all through her retort, clenching his teeth. When it's finally his turn to talk, he shouts back at her, "I never asked you to go against them! All I wanted was to be a consideration! To be something important enough to you that you could tolerate their disapproval of ONE. BLOODY. THING in your life! Something that you wanted!" Once upon a time, Lucian Proudmore could yell for hours, like a bottomless cauldron full of rage. But already, he looks deflated, and his voice drops as he slumps back against the pillar. "Merlin, Ria. You said you loved me. You said…you said you were waiting for me. I thought…" There is a brief moment…a flicker of how he used to look at her. "I thought I was your 'one'. After all we went through. How can you just let it go?"

Fire just feeding fire. The lion roars and powerfully swipes and the snake coils and tightens with all its might. And the two spin round and round in an endless battle, dizzying and nauseating. She of course isn't afraid of his yelling, though powerful and fierce. But it isn't the volume that's getting her jaw to tighten or her eyes to become glassy. And when his blue eyes at her that way again. Merlin, she can't take that. She instantly looks away. "You were something I wanted," she emphasizes quietly. "Times are different now, Luc. People are rising up. Things are happening. Things bigger than you and me." Ria's fingers graze over her left wrist, as if she were looking for something on there. Instead she walks over to the sink counter to retrieve what she sought out. A bracelet, made of brown leather twine, tied tautly to hold up a rather interesting metal pendant - a triangle encompassing a circle, both bisected by a vertical line. The Eye of Truth. She slips it over her delicate wrist, frowning in thought while she says, "My family needs me right now. They need me."

"What about what you need? What I need?" Sensing the slightest thread of hope, Lucian has grabbed hold, determined to see where it leads. "Shouldn't we be standing by each other with everything that's going on? We were there, Ria. You and I, at Durmstrang. We saw the first strike in this war. If anyone gets it, I do." He follows after her, keeping a respectful distance, but appearing behind her in the mirror's reflection. "You and I made each other better. You can't deny that."

Ria leans against the sink, green doe eyes flitting to Lucian in the reflection. "Do you? Do you really get it, Luc?" she implores him through the mirror, looking straight at him. "Would you sacrifice everything for a greater good? A greater future for you and me and everyone of our kind? I'm not talking about Cassius Malfoy's watered down Unity rubbish." Even though, Ria thinks Cassius is really damn hot but she would never say it out loud lest she bring out the Lion in him again. "Would you even sacrifice me?"

Lucian takes an involuntary step toward her, those final words driving a pang of fear into his heart. "Ria…" He pinches his lips, searching for the right words. Whatever those might be. He's not even sure they exist. "I'd have sacrificed anything but you. Don't you see that's the point? I could never be what I am without you. You pushed me, and I wanted to live up to your expectations, because you were the only one who understood how important it was to make ourselves better. To…to excel for the sake of excellence." He inhales deeply, hopeful those words would suffice. Hey, they sounded pretty darn good to him.

Ria considers those words, mouth parted slightly, still looking at Lucian in the mirror. Her eyes still glassy and moist, but there's something else there. Something hungry and longing. Her gaze trails to his lips briefly, and stay there a while. Then she blinks once. Twice. Three four five times, and she shakes her head. "No. It can't be like that anymore," she says. "It can't be about ourselves anymore - excellence for our personal improvement. It has to be for everyone. For a cause." She breaks, rubbing her face in her hands to thing out her tears. Barefooted she tries for the door again. "Merlin, when will the damn thing open," she growls, shaking the thing with all her might.

Lucian can see when he's getting to her, and he's not about to let that slip away. "No, no-no-no-no! Don't do that. Ria…I know you too well. Come on, we've been looking out for each other for six years. Who else would you rather have watching your back but me?" His stomach knots at the sudden thought that there could be someone else. "So you have a cause now. I get it. Isn't that what all those years of personal improvement were for? To make ourselves better so we could make a difference when it mattered? We wouldn't be who we are if we hadn't had each other." There is a moment of hesitation, a break in his speechmaking. "Look at me. Look at what you helped make me into."

Ria doesn't wanna listen anymore. She's done with it. They've both said their peace. Now they are done. Now she's done with this room. And now she wants out. Out, out, OUT! Hot tears stream down her face, the door shakes and shakes as much as her tiny hands can make it, but it won't budge. Goddamn this poltergeist. Goddamn this bathroom. But she pauses all the sudden, upon hearing his last few words. With her hands still on the knob, she slowly turns her head over her should to see what he means by 'look.'

Lucian has said all that he can think to say. Only action might reach her now. Let her see what he has accomplished. Though he stands perfectly still, his posture just barely leans in, as if poised to pounce. Then, his form is no longer his form. His golden hair grows out all around his neck and face. His nose and mouth elongate into a broad muzzle. His body hunches over, then lands on all fours as his clothing melts away, replaced by a fine golden coat. Notably, the fur along his right foreleg has an unusual colour pattern, like stylized flames. A long, tufted tail lashes behind him. Where a young man was just standing, now there is a young lion, lifting familiar blue eyes to meet Ria's.

Her brow furrows. Ria doesn't get it at first. What could possibly be so worth seeing that — her grip loosens from the door. Her lips part out of curiosity but her jaw gradually drop at the transformation before her. Green eyes, wide with amazement and yet burning with envy. Pressed against the door, she almost can't believe what she was seeing. "But … when … how ….," she steps forward like in a trance, one barefoot in front of the other. And a hand extends forward, hesitant and unsure if its okay to touch the creature, or if it would rip her apart if she did.

Lucian settles onto his haunches, careful to make no sudden moves. Unable to speak, he simply follows her with his eyes, which so resemble the blue eyes she has stared into so many times. When her hand draws near, he gently dips his head under it, rising to meet the touch.

Something in Ria's chest jumps at the lion's sudden movement, and she gasps as soon as her fingers make contact with his fur. It's soft, a dead on matching hue to Lucian's own mane, and its so familiarly warm. "Murder!" she exclaims in a whisper, letting herself actually touch Lucian for the first time in a long time. Her fingers pet him behind the ears, as if trying to prove to herself this was really happening. "How in the world did you do this?" There's that hunger on her face again, but a different kind this time around. One that's eager to try this for herself now that she knows its possible.

Lucian's purr comes in a low rumble. Merlin, to feel her touch again is like taking a breath after nearly drowning. But he knows how fleeting this might be. Reluctantly, he pulls back a few inches, and again his form shimmers and shifts, until there is a young man kneeling in the place of the lion. "I trained hard over the summer," he says softly. "I finally managed it a couple of months ago."

There's something slightly euphoric about hearing that purr, as if Ria suddenly remembered that she could actually make someone feel good for a change. And if she were to be honest with herself, she didn't want to let go. A smart move Lucian pulls for the both of them when he retreats, for pulls her mind back into reality, back into the present. "Camilla then…she taught you…," Ria assumes. "But how? What did she say? What did she have you do?" Her hunger speaks again and falling to her own knees so that she can plead him eye to eye.

Lucian sighs, meeting her eyes again, this time with the human blue gaze she's so used to. "It's more than I can explain in a single conversation. It's…a journey. I had to learn a lot about myself to find out what I look like inside. As you could see," he grumbles lightly, "It's not exactly the shape I would have chosen."

Kneeling before him, Ria clutches the ends of her skirt, listening with utter intent. It's as if they hadn't just nearly clawed at each other's throats with their sharp words. "What shape would you have chosen?" she tilts her head, and with a gentler tone she asks, "The whole process. Was it frightening?"

Lucian snorts, chuckling weakly. "I'd have chosen anything but a lion. Maybe an ass," he says in a rare moment of self-deprecation. "That's about how I feel sometimes." He lets out a long breath, trying not to show just how elated he is to be talking to her like this. "It was frightening at times. Other times it was the most incredible feeling. Ria…I want you to understand. You made this happen. If I hadn't had you to push me and make me want to be better, I'd never have been able to become this."

A corner of Ria's mouth tilts upward into a brief smile when she exhales a small laugh. Alright, she'll allow herself some amusement. But the smile turns into a half frown of skepticism, and shaking her head she says in slight irritation, "Don't be foolish, Lucian. Had I been able to do what you just did, you better believe I would have never given you credit." She runs a hand through her wet hair. "So quit it, will you? Stop trying to give me more purpose in your life than I really have. I don't want it, and I don't need it."

Lucian shrugs, "That's too bad, because you've got it. There's really nothing to be done about it. And I believe I'm that important in your life, too. You can deny it all you like, but we were good together. We could be again." He holds up a hand in an effort to stay any recoil. "Just…listen. I've done a lot of thinking since things fell apart. Damn it, Ria, for most of my life, you were the one good thing in it. Tell me what I have to do. You want me to prove myself to your father? Fine. I'll find a way. Just…just don't give up on us."

He already knows Ria well enough to know exactly when she's ready to retort. As soon as she tries to interject, his hand silences her and she gives in with a frown, crossing her arms obstinately. She's not fond of being silenced. His question thought softens her, and for a long while she thinks on it in silence. "I don't know Luc …," her gaze wanders about the room avoiding his. They eventually look down dolefully at the hands in her lap, lashes fluttering with attempts to not cry—until…her blinking ceases. Her breathing grows shallow as she looks intensely at the pendant on her wrist. And then she looks up at him again suddenly, with a look ice cold and yet burning hot all at once. "Join us," she lets the words linger in the air a moment. "Join the Magijugend. But make sure you commit out of your own desire. Or else you'll soon regret that you ever joined it for my sake."

Lucian had braced himself for this. He knew this might be the price long before he ever posed the question. He thought he was ready for it. But it doesn't do a thing to soften the sensation of being punched in the gut. He swallows hard, trying to find the breath to even respond. "You think that would prove to your father that I'm worthy of you?"

With her stinging cold expression, Ria's actually shoving a knife in and twisting it. "No," she answers truthfully. "But he'll have to consider you. He and Flint are well acquainted." That is to say they're total purist bros that do all sorta fun purist things together during their spare purist time. "Eventually your capabilities would speak for themselves." Well there's an upside. "But be warned, Luc. He can sense insincerity." Which is why Kaiden isn't the favorite. "And he'll know if you're doing it for me."

"Of course I'd be doing it for you. He'd have to be an idiot to think otherwise. But why isn't that enough? I love you." Lucian winces a little as he says it. It's the first time he's expressed it since their breakup. But there's no taking it back, so he runs with it. "I love the girl he raised. That's got to count for something. Maybe…I don't know, maybe I'll find some greater purpose in it all like you've always wanted me to. But there is nothing insincere about my motivations."

Ria narrows her eyes slightly at his retort and then shakes her head. He doesn't get it. "Do you think you're the first boy who ever came calling?" she asks bluntly. "Perhaps you were the first boy who I ever considered. So if you think love is enough for my father, then he certainly has his pick. But he doesn't let anyone close to the Sykes family that he can't trust." She explains and adds, "With more than just his daughter. It's more than just me, Luc. I come with a name that has a reputation, and he makes sure that anyone who associates with me is willing to uphold it."

"I know the Sykes reputation. I've known you for how long?" Lucian smirks teasingly, old patterns of behaviour returning easily. He does his best impression of Arlo Sykes' gravelly voice: "'The purest wizarding blood courses through your veins. Mediocrity simply doesn't exist in our family.' Come on, Ria. I am anything but mediocre. If you spoke on my behalf, he could see that I'm not just another one of these idiot suitors who just want the Sykes name. I'm a bloody animagus, for Merlin's sake. I could teach you to be one. How is that for Sykes excellence? And bastard or no, my blood is as pure as any Sykes." He leans in toward her, a fire sparking in his eyes. "If some part of you didn't want this, you'd have told me to shove off by now. But you do. You want this as badly as I do. Help me make this work." He eyes drop to the Eye of Truth, displayed on her wrist. "I'll consider the Magijugend. Maybe…we can talk more about it. You can tell me what it's all about. Why it's so important."

Ria pouts at his imitation of her father, punching him light on the arm, "Cut it out." She's quite proud of the Sykes' "No Mediocrity" slogan, but she internally admits that's a pretty spot on impression. She doesn't back away however when he leans in and bites her bottom anxiously not wanting to admit openly that he was right. That she did want this. Eyes following his to her bracelet, the Eye stares at them both with a powerful conviction. And looking up she sternly reiterates, "No Magijugend. No us. I can't be seen with you otherwise."

Lucian meets the Eye's gaze again. Bloody sinister little thing. He looks back up at Ria, his breaths growing deeper. "Tell me you love me. If it's true, say it. Give me something, Ria."

Lashes lowering once more, Ria's shy to say it out loud even to herself. "I do. I do love you," she says demurely, and catches herself smiling a little then immediately turns red as if she were saying it for first time. And she was. The first time in a long time. So she tries again, just as nervous but this time looking directly up at him, "I love you."

Lucian's heart swells as big as it did the first time she spoke those words. Hope. There is no greater motivation. His oft-dour features form into the rarely seen boyish grin. He only gives it half a thought before he goes for it. Being alone and unseen, this might be his only chance for quite some time. Barely controlling his trembling, he leans in for a kiss.

Being the tiny thing she is, Ria rises slightly to meet him. Every thing in her being worried that she's doing something bad and yet excited that she's doing something bad. Her polished hand rests on his cheek just as it used to before she presses her lips to his for the kiss she's been secretly missing all this time.

Lucian draws himself up to pull her into a tender embrace, wrapping her protectively into his strong arms. Between loving kisses, he whispers, "I'll make this work. Somehow. I promise." He only manages to steal one more kiss before the rattling of the bathroom door snaps his attention up. He hurriedly gets to his feet, tugging her up with him. "I was never here," he says, drawing his wand with a wink. Twirling it over his own head as he backs away, he incants, "Homogenus." The Disillusionment Charm falls around him like a curtain, blending him into the background of the bathroom, nearly invisible. How's that for excellence? He slips behind a pillar to be certain he won't be noticed once the door is finally opened.

Was this how it felt before? Ria almost forgot how warm and safe his hugs felt. Or how soft lips could be. She feels high and lost in all of it, so much so that it's over much too soon. Without even realizing, she's back on her feet, watching him with lips pressed together as practically disappears into his surroundings. "Okay," she smiles warmly, walking over to her things to slip on her shoes and prepare to leave.

Lucian there is a loud banging sound, and the door bursts open to reveal Professor Viridian with smoke trailing from his wand, standing beside a Hufflepuff prefect. He arches a suspicious eyebrow at Ria. "Desiring a bit of privacy Miss Sykes?" But the Charms professor's wrath is quickly abated when the Hufflepuff explains that he overheard Peeves singing a song about jamming the bathroom door.

From his hiding place, the unseen Lucian smiles to himself as Viridian escorts Ria out. He'd felt so stuck until now. But now, he's got a chance.

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