(1938-11-09) The Artistic Pawn
Details for The Artistic Pawn
Summary: Medusa requests something from Esther and finds the younger girl is easy to bring under her spell.
Date: 09 November 1938
Location: Slytherin Common Room and then the Owl Tower

When one has a kingdom - or queendom - to rule they can't spend all their time off snogging one's Gryffindor boyfriend, so Saturday after breakfast we find Medusa Malfoy the Queen of Slytherin holding court in the common room. Seated on her favourite green leather sofa with her often snarky, always slightly dim-witted cousin Beatrice Nott beside her. Medusa appears to be half listening to some whinging tale told to her by a younger student. In reality she is actually scanning through pages of the latest issue of the real estate section of the Prophet. As the whinging student comes to the end of their complaint Beatrice nudges Medusa who then looks up, "Yes, well next time you are near the girl he dumped you for make sure it looks as if she has purposefully tripped you. Play it up a bit, lots of crying and looking pathetic. Boys lap that up. He'll whisk you off to Madam Spleen and she'll be left behind." Her gaze flits away then, looking around the common room. The whinger grins at the advice and leaves bobbing a curtsy of all things.

If the eye is looking for something bizarre, it doesn't go wanting. One of the elegant armchairs has been moved during the 'discussion', by a cascade of curly hair that's disguised itself cunningly as a member of Slytherin house. The sometimes be-rumoured Esther, in fact, who has dragged the chair to sit in front of one of the enchanted windows, a quill, ink and a scrap of parchment before her as she waits patiently. A glance would reveal an outline of the Giant Squid already sketched, but otherwise the girl sits patiently, quill at the ready, for another glimpse of the Black Lake's biggest guest. She's happily ignored the Queen of Slytherin, and her court.

When Medusa's cool gaze lands on the mop of unruly hair she watches the girl, ignoring the sycophants around her. After a few minutes Beatrice nudges her again. "What are you doing?" Without looking at her ginger cousin the Malfoy girl replies, "I watching Lowe. She's an odd sock. Not batshit crazy like Abbott, but odd nonetheless. Is she any good with those paints she always is messing about with?" Beatrice shrugs, which of course Medusa cannot see. "Go find Selwyn, you clearly need more air blown into you," Medusa tells her cousin before she gets to her feet and strolls slowly over towards Esther, hoping to get an idea of how good of an artist the girl is.

An odd sock is the best description Esther has ever received. Furthermore, she's a sock busy looking for a huge squid that may or may not appear at any moment. The girl sits with one leg crossed high up on the other, to act as a support for her parchment - The ink sits on the arm of the couch, her quill at the ready. The paper already shows a decent amount of detail - The body of the squid even shows shading, as much as one can with the scratching of quill and ink. It's tentacles though, only exist in outlines. She seems almost paused, barely breathing as she waits.

"Hmmm," muses Medusa. She turns to lean against the wall near the window, bringing her into Esther's peripheral vision. "Esther Lowe…or are you a mermaid today?" Medusa Malfoy might be rubbish at essays or long dissertations but she can recall embarrassing stories from people's past with relative ease. Even stories involving a certain dark-haired girl as a first year who spent an hour in the bath pretending to be a mermaid and had to be forced to leave the bath so others could use it. "I wonder…could you paint me some owls?"

"Do you think a mermaid would attract him?" Esther asks, seeming almost wistful at the idea. It's only a moment later the memory has her cheeks burning, and then she realising that she's actually being spoken to. She looks up suddenly, at Medusa - Retaining enough composure not to spill her ink, or mess up her sketch. "I; uh… H-Hello, Medusa Malfoy." She's immediately struck a little bit nervous, on the back foot despite being very firmly seated. "Do you have any preferences?" She inquires, "I mean like size, variety, nature, position, material, paint—" The list is rattled off quickly, and then stopped. Esther starts again. "Gladly."

Medusa crosses her long legs at the ankle as she leans into the wall, her hands lace together and come to rest in front of her. "There is a nest of owlets in the tower at the moment, they're up in the rafters. I can show you or get you a photograph to work from. I'd want it by Christmas." Her gaze flits to the portal. "In return I will do you a favour."

"I'd rather be shown." Esther admits without any shame, "Photographs are nice, but… I mean, I prefer to know it all for myself." The girl carefully taps the last of the ink out of her quill, using the very bottom of her parchment to scratch the last little bit out, and then tucks it behind her ear. The inkpot is capped as well, and then the fifth year is free to focus on the Slytherin Queen properly. Albeit quietly waving her parchment so it dries. "I'd gladly do it for you." Anything, to not be known as the Slytherin Mermaid. Or any one of a dozen equally humiliating names she's so soundly earned.

"Good." Medusa pushes herself away from the wall. "Come. I will show you now." She clearly just expects for Esther to fall in line and do whatever it is she wants, but then most do. Medusa quickly retrieves the newspaper she had been reading and withdrawing her wand from her over robe pocket shrinks the paper down with an incantation then pockets both.

Esther is at her feet as soon as the word 'come' is said. Clearly Medusa has that kind of power over her. Her parchment is hastily rolled up, but kept in one hand - She'll have to use the other side of it. She has just enough presence of mind to grab her ink-pot and wand before she hurries after the Head Girl.

Medusa leads Esther through the castle, seven years have taught her the quickest routes and the driest. They are only outside for a brief time, traversing the walkways of the ramparts before they reach the draughty owl tower with its filthy floor and smell of droppings. "You might get a bit messy," the older girl warns as she makes her way towards one section of the wall.

Owls have that habit. Her hair is like a target. Esther walks as swiftly as she can, learning one new shortcut along the way - The draughts from the tower are her biggest problems though. It's a cold winter morning, freezing, rendering the young woman ashiver and causing her parchment to flap a little in the wind as she tries to shake it out. "I…. I'll be fine." She manages, the light from the open arches giving her enough light to draw by. No gloves, either, so her fingers are withdrawn within her robes, as she tries to figure out a way to make this possible - But she gives a confident smile to Medusa. "I'm sure I can have it done well before Christmas, Medusa…" Is that alright, calling her by her first name? She wants to add the last, but surely that's a little impolite too. Instead, she settles for the awkward taint her racing, tail-chasing mind gives her smile.

"I'll help you get up, just put your feet where I put mine." Thankfully there is no ice yet so the climb upwards is slow but not deadly. Medusa puts her hands and feet in different holds, trying to use the cleanest ones possible. Once she has got high enough she swings a leg over the rafter and offers a hand down to Esther, "They're still young but shouldn't be too frightened by you, just try not to touch them. They can bite." As the bracing wind comes in through the open arches Medusa's tousled hair blows across her face requiring her to use her other hand to tuck it out of the way.

Esther climbs slowly, taking her time (And a lot more effort) than Medusa to get to the rafters, taking the offered hand eagerly so she can get pulled up, at least partially. "Thank you." She breathes, albeit a little heavily. Her hair is easily caught by the wind, but as much is it ruffles and waves it doesn't seem to blow out of control or all over her face. Some blessings, to her curse. She folds her parchment double, so it has some kind of stability, and studies the cute little owlets. Admittedly, this isn't how she saw her morning playing out, but it has perks!

Once Esther is safely settled Medusa releases the other girl's hand. "They're a lively bunch…parliament. Or maybe that is only the collective noun for fully grown owls." She shrugs a slender shoulder. "They know me so I can touch them a little, although they do bite so I'd rather not risk it if I can help it." Looking at Esther she asks, "What do you need to do to…be inspired by them?"

Esther eventually settles herself by sitting on one of the rafters proper, nestling the inkpot between her legs and holding the parchment with one hand, in mid air. Her quill is out, and she's drawing the broadest outlines of them. It's not something she thought Medusa would do with her spare time, but each to their own. Esther hmns and ahhs a little while she works. "They're cute… And there's enough here for a painting." She admits, "The more I know… The more I can put in. Why do you want them?" Painted, that is. Her attention is divided between drawing and muse, so Medusa is at least physically, ignored for the moment.

"I need a gift to give to Douglas' parents and his father rears owls for the Ministry. It seemed like a good idea. Nicer than just a bottle of wine from my parents' wine cellar." Douglas of course is Douglas Macmillan, her Gryffindor boyfriend and all around bit of a trouble maker or a romantic hero depending on who you believe. Medusa is careful as she reaches over and tries to tempt out one of the birds with her closed hand. She learnt her lesson about being nipped. "They eat dead mice."

Esther isn't going to try and learn a lesson about being nipped. She's happier drawing, adding a few minor bits of detail to the owlets in general - Her sketch is getting a little distracted though, more definition added to the hand that has intruded into her view, and the owlet nearest to it, the slight cant to it's head, the sparkle of interest in it's eyes. The young woman doesn't seem to notice that she's side-tracked, at least partially, either. "I thought they ate live mice?" Oh, right, owlets. Not full size, so hunting isn't so… "Well, I'm happy to help anyways. I hope they like it!"

Medusa leans back and looks over, "I don't want my hand in it…" It sounds as if she was going to be insulting but thought better of it at the last moment. Better because she needs Esther to finish the job properly. "Owls don't regurgitate food for their young like other birds. They feed them their kills. The mice are dead by the time they are brought back to the nest." Amazingly she manages to say all of that without much effort, it seems she does listen when her boyfriend is rambling. The idea amuses her and she smiles a small secretive sort of smile then looks at Esther again. "So no hands, just owls."

Esther looks a little bit sheepish, as she draws a nice neat line through the hand. There's even a faint blush to her cheeks that isn't wholly from the temperature. "… Sorry, sometimes I'm just busy drawing and my brain stops working." She's opening herself up for insults, so far, and seems to be getting away with it. "S'little odd though. I mean, all animals are odd in one way or another, but…" She looks up from her sketch, seeming to have got enough detail from the time in the rafters to actually do something back in the common room. "We can… We can go back now. I've got what I need."

Esther is getting a free pass at least for now. Medusa is known for playing the long game however, so who knows what might happen once she has that painting in her possession. "I'll go first," offers the older of the two. With care for her own safety she moves slowly around Esther and then begins her descent to the mucky floor. It is a bit more frightening going down than up and Medusa wobbles a few times but manages to land feet first and stick her landing. "Careful, it's harder getting down," she warns Esther.

It's harder still getting down with parchment, ink and quill, but with the quill 'dried' and stuck behind her ear, the girl can begin the difficult descent. She struggles more than once, her fingers digging in and her body pressing in close to the wall. It takes her easily twice as long as the Slytherin Queen, and she still feels like she has so far to go when her fingers slip on something she doesn't want to think about on a handhold, the girl leaning out and falling with a loud scream. Well, a short cry. She falls the remaining foot, onto her backside upon the straw, and then looks a little bit embarrassed.

Were she the kinder sort of person Medusa might offer to help Esther up, but she doesn't. She does rather helpfully pick up the parchment and the quill which went flying. "Shame about that ink bottle. Still I am sure you can easily get some more." The Slytherin Queen looks down at the tangle of limbs and hair that is Esther. "You might want to get up quickly those droppings are rife with germs."

Esther doesn't seem to expect it either. The only thing seriously hurt in the fall is her pride - And thankfully her quill and parchment are safe, even if her inkpot has decided to spill everywhere and crack. She pouts a little bit, taking the fractured pot in one hand, allowing it to stain her skin, and taking the quill and parchment with her other hand. "I'll head straight to the bathrooms, Medusa. Just… Don't mention the mermaid thing… It'll take a little time to get this all out." She's still embarrassed, it seems.

"Take your time. Ink can be difficult to get off." Medusa turns on her heel and strides from the tower, hands going into her pocket as she calls back over her shoulder, "Just make sure you look presentable when you come out again or people were think you were in their crying or touching yourself up."

That better not be another rumour… Right?

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