(1938-11-14) Played Pawn
Details for Played Pawn
Summary: Medusa catches up with Esther and escorts her to breakfast.
Date: 14 November 1938
Location: Labyrinthine Hall and then Great Hall

Like a good snake queen Medusa is lying in wait for her prey before breakfast on Thursday morning. Leaning casually against the wall of the entrance to the maze, knowing full well that Esther Lowe will have to pass by her.

It's just as well. Esther had spent Tuesday missing in action since the rumours of her on the roof, only returning to the common room late on Wednesday night, sneaking in just prior to curfew and turning in to bed without a word to anyone. She intends to do the same with breakfast, getting up just slightly before the rest of her house and setting off - A slight smile upon her lips at having avoided any confrontat— She draws up short as she approaches the entrance, and finds the Slytherin Queen waiting for her. She swallows gently, trying to fortify herself for any one of a hundred different scenarios, but when she walks closer, she's devoid of anything relevant, cool or calm to say. Instead, she's the same awkward girl she was last week. "M… Medusa, hello…"

Looking up from buffing her nails Medusa lets her cool Gorgon's gaze run over the younger girl with excruciating slowness, the kind of look meant to make someone uncomfortable. "Good morning, Esther. Going to breakfast a little early aren't we?" Being who she is, Medusa has little spies in all the year dorms in the house so it was easy to get up and beat Esther to the punch. "I think it is time for us to have a little chat."

Esther's stance goes from wary, to afraid, to defensive under that stare. She realises that she's getting flustered, reaching down to smooth out her robes, taking in a long, slow breath as she tries to regain her composure. It's obvious, but it's helpful. "I… I wanted to get in some study," It doesn't take a sleuth to see through her lie, but she doesn't even try to protest at the diversion. "It can wait. Where do you want to talk?" She's at least bright enough to realise that such a conversation probably won't happen here. She hasn't left that early, after all.

"You're sweet and…different in a way which I appreciate. That is why I offered you my protection." Medusa makes it sound as if without her reputation keeping bullies away from the younger girl Esther would likely have her shoes stolen and her head dunked into a toilet at any moment. "So you will explain to me exactly what you have been hoping to gain through these ridiculous rumours."

If anything, the nightmarish experiences Alphard visited upon her seem to be validation of this. The past tense, and the demand for an explanation have her revisiting something in her head that just 'crushes' her, causes her to draw her arms tighter, and take a few more moments to get control back. "I… I know that people'r talking about me." She blushes, biting her lower lip fiercely as she tries to pick her words. "… I liked your protection, Medusa… And I'm not trying to gain anything… Tell me what you want to know and I'll tell you everything I know, just… Let me set the record straight." She seems legitimately scared. Perhaps she's convinced that Medusa has her darling cousin in a pocket, ready to bring out.

While it is true Alphard and Medusa are known associates, co-conspirators even, at present the Black boy is nowhere to be seen. "Go on then." Medusa turns her shoulder into the wall, not the leas bit bothered by its clammy dampness, so that she is facing Esther. "Inform me as to your version of events."

Esther gathers her hands together, holding eachother so tightly. "In regards to…?"

One corner of her mouth lifts in a sardonic smirk as Medusa regards Esther. "Start at the beginning, with the first rumour that you were evidently trying to tempt Douglas to fall for your feminine wiles."

Esther has never been so red. None of the remarks made by her cousin, or anything since, humiliates her as much as that comment. "I… I really didn't… I thought it'd be funny to hide a 'real' arm inside a suit of armor, and he helped me… And then he suggested that we'd best be far away from the scene, and since he wanted a cigarette, and since he helped me I thought it would only be polite to talk and find out more about him since the painting is kinda for him anyway…" Her story starts so slow, but by the end of it she actually has to pause for a breath, looking terrified. "… I… He made a reference about kissing. I admitted I never had. And he said if not for you, he'dve been happy to show me." It's something she's now admitted twice, and it's not a pleasant thing to have to say at her age. "… I excused myself and left." Her eyes are on the ground.

Esther might feel better but her story hasn't satisfied Medusa, just yet. "Good," the older of the two says cooly. "Now explain to me the rest of the rumours." Her arms cross, hands going to cup her bent elbows as she looks down at the fifth year both literally and figuratively.

Esther doesn't feel better. She feels horrible. Like a child being disciplined. "I… I'd heard rumours about you and Douglas… And them about myself… So I was trying to hide while still eat… Everyone was talking, laughing." She bites her lower lip, worrying at it gently. "Was kinda the same for him. And he was so nice when we met. I kinda… I snapped." She sighs, her hands clasping so tightly they're almost white. "So I sat down beside him. Told him I was sick of rumours. He suggested it'd show them if we both went to the roof again, and I was so… So stupid that I thought it'd do just that." A pause. "My cousin followed us…" She pauses for longer, taking in a long, shaking breath. Why pause at the good part!?

"Enough," declares Medusa. She stands up, moving away from the wall, and smooths down the front of her snug fitting jumper. Poor Myrus never stood a chance. "We are going to put these rumours to rest. You are going to come to breakfast and sit with me. And any little idea, little crush you might have been developing for Douglas you will promptly forget." In case Esther might be having second thoughts Medusa arches a brow, turning her full Gorgon's glare on the girl. The glare that petrifies many a student. "I will know if you disobey me on this. I have contacts everywhere in this school. Not just students either."

Esther draws a sharp breath at 'enough,' almost wincing at the tone that's taken with her. "Medusa, I didn't… Nothing ever…" She's withering. There was really no chance for the wild haired girl to make a case, or try to stand up for herself. It all ends, a softly spoken, ".. Yes, Medusa." Is offered in return. "I… Will do whatever you ask." She has her family to protect. Well, one branch. And Medusa is at least partially key to that.

Then as if she were two different people, or perhaps had been amusing herself with Esther's discomfort, Medusa slips her arm through one of Esther's and smiles. "Of course you didn't and nothing ever happened. I know my Douglas, but we still need to ensure people have the right idea." As they walk towards breakfast and the sounds of other early risers can be heard emerging behind them the Slytherin Queen enquires, "Do you like sausages?"

Early morning, and breakfast is just beginning. There are a few early risers around, dotted about the various tables, but for the most part the hall is still quite empty, most people having the good sense to catch a few more minutes sleep rather than rushing down. Douglas has never been one of those with sense, or alternatively he's just a morning person, and he's taken up station at the top end of the Gryffindor table, talking earnestly and quietly with a younger student, complete with a diagrammatic picture of something in front of him, using food to highlight his points.

Esther's trauma lately has been enough to put her on a knife edge, and the transformation of the Queen of Slytherin into a kind and loving ruler has Esther almost needily taking her arm. The girl looks nothing like her usual self though, her normally either vacant or mischievous gaze troubled, her lower lip marked from her teeth worrying at it. "… Well enough, Medusa. I'm glad you understand… I really am." She keeps pace, making their way into the Great Hall arm in arm. Esther doesn't look around though, she forces herself to look forward, not roam around for anything or anyone.

While Elizabeth isn't the morning type, she does prefer her meals when there are fewer students around. It makes the Hall seem quieter, or more peaceful. Gives her the chance to read while she eats. Though with all the excitement as of late, it's difficult to completely miss Esther entering the Great Hall. Or Douglas whispering to younger students at the Gryffindor table. Wasn't he the one that swept Esther away a day or two ago? Elizabeth narrows her pale eyes as she tries to recall correctly.

"These things happen," offers Medusa with a little pat to Esther's arm as the walk further into the hall. "Besides he is hard to resist. It's part of his charm." Medusa doesn't refer to her people as pawns for nothing. Esther is about to learn just how pawn-like she is when Medusa steers them not towards the Slytherin table but towards the top end of the Gryffindor one where Douglas and the younger student are. While the hall may be relatively quiet this early there are still enough heads which turn and follow the progression of the two Slytherin.

The sense of dread and silence which falls over the end of the Gryffindor table is almost palpable, Douglas's young companion suddenly finding a need to talk to somebody else. At the other end of the table. Quickly. Left to himself, the Macmillan takes a deep breath, then turns to face the Slytherins as they approach, flashing his best, most charming smile. "Ladies."

Esther's voice is almost mouselike, a soft protest as she's walked to the Griffindor table. "I… I don't know what you mean?" She manages, nearly inaudible. You know that 'choice' that she was talking about? Here it is, as predicted, made for her. The slender young girl looks all the smaller under Medusa's control. She refuses to look anywhere near Douglas, though, even as he addresses her. She doesn't want to antagonise Medusa, not even slightly. So she blinds herself, deafens herself. Takes a visibly deep breath, and holds her Queen tightly. Pawn.

Slytherins approaching the Gryffindor table? Well naturally that's going to turn a few heads. Or all of them. The houses' rivalry is legendary after all, so the sight is rather unusual. Elizabeth faintly lifts a slender brow as she observe the pair, chewing her food steadily while she watches the potential train reck. "Hm." That smile of Douglas' could definitely melt a heart or dozen. Though Esther seems to be just as tense.

It is so nice when people clear space for her. Medusa releases Esther's arm only to apply gentle pressure to the girl's shoulders, indicating for the fifth year to sit before she herself sits so that she is in between Douglas and Esther. "Good morning Douglas." As if this were all perfectly normal and not the teensiest bit awkward, which well it is in't for her, Medusa drops a napkin onto her lap and lifts her smiling face to Douglas. "I thought it might be nice to have Esther join us this morning. She's an early riser too it seems. Eager to get the day on it's way." Feeling generous she looks around and spies Elizabeth watching them, "You," she calls to the girl, "Come join us too." Nothing spreads rumours more than speculation except eye witness accounts of course.

"Malfoy," Douglas greets, leaning forward a little to add, past Medusa, "Lowe." He picks up one of the slices of toast which had previously represented one of the quidditch stands, and ruins his imaginary breakfast game by biting into it, and all its imaginary quidditch fans. Wiping a crumb from his lip, he just looks expectantly between them. "You've got the wrong table again."

Esther is manipulated, like a doll almost. The sense of dread is overpowering, the girl sits and stares at the wood of the Griffindor table. The silence is deafening, broken only by the only voice she dares to listen to. Her stare is vacant, her lips drawn together, her eyes troubled as that mass of wild hair at least keeps Douglas from seeing her. It's the only kindness she'll have in the coming minutes - His opening joke doesn't make her smile, if anything it leaves her lip just slightly aquiver. Any attempt to put her at ease, and person who speaks to her, must be ignored. Elizabeth is quietly added to her list, her brain selectively discarding them both. Their voices. Their smells. Their memories, their feelings. Medusa Malfoy has her, and it's not going to end well for anyone involved. This is real fear. Real control.

Okay, that… wasn't expected. Elizabeth meets Meduca's eyes. Caught in the act it seems, but she doesn't care to glance away as in embarrassed. They didn't care, and she didn't either. But being 'summoned'? She lifts a brow skeptically behind her wire-frame glasses, her powder blue eyes shifting to Esther as if to gauge the situation. Then, she uses a hand to close the book in front of her while the other reaches for a banana, taking it with her as she rises smoothly to her feet. Elizabeth doesn't mind the looks from the other tables as she approaches where the group had gathered at the Gryffindor table. All they're missing now is a Hufflepuff. "Esther." she greets her. One of the few people she considers a friend. "How are you feeling today?"

"Have we?" Medusa makes it sound as if sitting at the Gryffindor table had just been a random act rather than her plan all along. "Oh well, we're here now." And she is inviting guests it seems. Her head turns and she notes Esther's tension and the lack of food on the fifth year's plate. Helpful and kind as she is, Medusa adds various breakfast foods to the plate. "You need to eat to keep your strength, Esther," she says in a friendly chatty tone. "Besides who else will finish my painting?" Medusa then adds eggs and sausages to her own plate before pouring herself some juice. "Did you finish your charms homework, Douglas? I found it difficult to concentrate last night. My mind kept wandering…drifting to imagine wordless spells that can be done in the blink of an eye." Elizabeth is given a little welcoming smile. Look Esther, Medusa has fetched you a friend.

"It was a bit noisy last night," Douglas admits, eyeing Medusa, then leaning forward again to look Esther over. And oh look, Elizabeth! "I'm sure I'll have it ready for Viridian before class, though. I think I might have left it in the library." Because he spends so much time in the library. "She all right?" he asks, giving the mess of hair a nod.

The intake of breath when she's greeted is obvious, but only Medusa can feel the hand that rests upon her thigh, pressed gently against the Queen - The way it tightens into a fist of frustration. The girl who had seen her broken not so long ago, and she's forcibly disregarded. The contrast between Mistress and Pawn is so obvious - Despite her dread, her commitment to Medusa is such that she slowly lifts both hands, taking her knife and fork. She knows what Medusa is capable of, and the feeling that she'll be part of it has ruined any trace of appetite. "Thank you." Her words are still so quiet, although Elizabeth might just be close enough now. Her fork bites into a sausage, her knife gently sawing a morself free. It's almost reminiscent of the Imperius Curse, for those unlucky enough to have seen it. When Douglas mentions her, her knife slips, clattering on the plate for a moment. But she struggles to obey again, lifting her morsel to her lips. She wants to scream. Instead, she chews.

A faint hint of colour rises to Medusa's cheeks. Must be all those spices in the sausages. "Who? Oh, Esther?" She shrugs and looks at the girl on the otherside of her. "Honestly, I don't know. I thought it might help her if she was seen with me. But she's so tense." Way to talk about Esther as if she isn't you know right there. Medusa glances at Elizabeth, "Who are you? Who are your people?"

As Douglas asks if Esther is alright, Elizabeth gently turns her raven head to glance to him. "The night before myself and Myrus found her on the roof. Its unclear how long she was there, but she was severely chilled. In in the Infirmary…" she pauses, hesitating as she glances at Esther. This was her business. Was she comfortable with her saying all this. "Well, you were saying that you couldn't keep someone out any more. I must admit, I am still rather concerned about that part, Esther." Being suddenly addressed by Medusa, it pulls the Ravenclaw girl's attention towards her. She lifts a slender brow curiously. "What do you mean? You were the one that invited me to join in this… curious little group we've form." The corner of her lips tugs with a little bit of amusement.

Douglas sets down his toast, cracking his knuckles and sliding from the bench to rise. Briefly touching Medusa's back, he slips round behind Esther, placing his hands on her shoulders. "Let me help, eh?" he suggests amiably, beginning to work his thumbs into her muscles. "You should try to relax, Lowe." Helping.

Esther just wishes she wasn't right there. She hears Elizabeth talking, and she can't react fast enough - Her head tilts back, eyes locking with Elizabeth. "You need to stop talking. Right now." It's the first time she's said anything above a pin drop, it almost sounds like a shout to her ears. She's unused to hearing her own voice, now. "I am not going to discuss it. And neither are you." The trouble in her eyes only grows as she tries to stare Elizabeth into silence. This is getting worse for her at an alarming rate - Her grip on her cutlery tightening. She goes to turn to Medusa, in in doing so, notices that Douglas is gone - And a moment later, there's a touch to her shoulders. He might be familiar with her flinching, but this is something else altogether. Esther wrenches her body free, as if Douglas were trying to hold her down. the young woman actually cries out softly - As if he'd dug his hands in too deep, or struck her.

"Well yes, but that doesn't mean I know who you are," Medusa explains to Elizabeth. "You might be someone who chews with their mouth open or picks their nose in polite company. Or a mudblood." When Esther makes it clear she doesn't want Elizabeth to continue that piques Medusa's interest, but for now she doesn't press either girl about the events on the rooftop, merely says, "You should wear a coat when going out of doors, Esther. Unless you were born and raised up here like my," emphasis on the possessive, "Douglas your body just isn't cut out for such cold weather." Her Douglas is given a smile for his thoughtful helpfulness. Clearly he perfection in her eyes she chides Esther for her outcry, "Don't be such a baby. He has amazing hands."

Thing about breakfast is it's just so damn early! At the Ravenclaw table Gage's plate is nearly empty, but his eyes have closed while hi head rests against his hand. Dark circles under his eyes are darker presently as he almost starts to doze. But the loud meow alerts him, and his head is lifting up from his head with one abrupt movement. From under the table Shadow Mist bounds out, her tail raised and flicking behind her as she runs straight towards the Gryffindor table. Apparently she senses a friend there, and the grey cat meows loudly as she suddenly leaps over to rub up against Elizabeth's leg. But Gage was trying to keep her hidden. He swears lowly as he extracts himself from his bench unskillfully, and actually flops off the side and thuds on the floor. It's not that bad of a fall though, but Gage scowls at the embarrassment of it regardless even as he scrambles to his feet and towards the Gryffindor table. He stops a few feet back though when he catches the group, frowning and shrugging his shoulders, chewing on his lower lip.

Elizabeth blink once, honestly surprised that Esther just… said that. In the way she said it. And the look in her eyes… It heightens her concern. She ignores Medusa as she snaps her pale eyes up at Douglas, pale gaze hardening. "We need to get Esther back to the Infirmary." she states pointedly. Not a request, no room to object. There was certainly something wrong here it was blazing brightly like the end of a wand. Discarding the banana she had picked up a moment or so ago, Elizabeth turns her full attention back to Esther, leaning down to eye level to look her squarely in the eye. "If something is wrong, blink twice." She almost misses completely when Shadow Mist appears from nowhere (like a ninja!) and rubs against her legs. Almost.

Douglas raises his hands as he's shrugged off, flicking an amused grin towards Medusa as he's referred to so possessively. He shakes his head. "It's all good, Malfoy. She's a bit jumpy is all. You sure you're all right, Lowe?" he queries once more, eyeing Elizabeth with bemusement as she interrogates Esther in best Jean-Do Bauby mode. "If everything's fine, clap your hands, stamp your feet and sing I'm a little teapot?" he suggests drily.

Esther bites her lower lip, grateful that the conversation has been ended for now - But she still has to deal with someone she's convinced herself can't exist for her at this point, with his strong hands on her back, even if it's through her robe. "I…. Yes, Medusa." She manages to find a few words, more when she realises that Medusa probably wants them. "T… Thank you, Douglas." When her eyes return the table infront of her, Elizabeth has stolen the scene. Infirmary. No. She doesn't blink twice, knowing that Medusa is watching. Her voice gains a little firmness again. "Nothing is wrong, Elizabeth. You're not needed here." She wants to spare them both at least a measure of what she feels is drawing inevitably closer. And she's trying, so hard, to ignore Douglas.

"Well I certainly didn't do anything to her if there is something wrong it happened -," Medusa's gaze narrows on Esther, "did something happen in the fifth year dorms this morning?" Looking between Elizabeth and Esther the Malfoy girl's brows draw together. She clearly has missed something in her days spent pining over Douglas like a mopey Hufflepuff who missed out on cake. "Esther, if there is something wrong. If you feel unwell you should go to see Spleen." Reaching over she gently touches the other Slytherin's hand, "If someone is messing with you send word to me and I will deal with it. Ask whoever is nearby at the time." The two bespectacled Ravenclaws are given a sidelong glance, "Maybe you can help her go get some fresh air?"

Elizabeth snaps her pale eyes behind her glasses up at Douglas. "Stop it. If you knew her at all, you would realize that she's acting out of the ordinary. Or if she was ill like she was the other night, you would be concerned for her health. Not mocking her." she replies, clearly displeased. Looking back to Esther, her gaze narrows, falling silent for moments that seem to stretch. "You wouldn't tell me that. You wouldn't tell anyone that." Elizabeth murmurs, "If there's really nothing wrong, you would give me some proof of it." Ravenclaws. With Medusa's permission or not, she's determined to get to the bottom of this.

The friendly, grey cat meows more loudly as she swings a paw to bat at the girl's leg. She will not be ignored! She lets out another loud meow as her tail sways behind her. "Shadow Mist," Gage utters quietly, shaking his head slowly. He slowly, uncertainly, steps closer, biting his lip as he crouches down, both for the cat and because when he's not standing perhaps he can minimize staff's eyes on him. Hah. "Sorry," he mutters, his eyes flicking briefly up at Elizabeth, "if she's botherin' yer." Gage makes a mistake when he glances towards the other students close to Elizabeth, because his eyebrows furrow when his dark blue eyes pass over the pendants around Medusa's and Douglas' neck. He's quickly lowering his gaze, clearing his throat.

"I wasn't mocking her," Douglas protests, hands settling back on Esther's shoulders, then admits, "I was mocking you." He gives a half grin, shrugging a shoulder. "Listen to yourself. Look, Lowe, if anyone's giving you trouble, let me know. I told you I'd see what I could do if they are. This 'claw bothering you?" He shrugs, addressing Elizabeth. "I don't think she wants to talk to you, pal. I'll get her to Spleen if she's not well."

Esther finds herself targeted, when she's wanted nothing more than to disappear. The touch to her hand has her head tilted towards Medusa, trying to figure out just what the Queen of Slytherin wants her to do… And Elizabeth's continued interference gives her cause to speak again. "Elizabeth, you'll get your explanation later. For now, you're going to excuse yourself from this table and find somewhere else to sit. You're upsetting my breakfast." The last three words are spoken with her teeth a little gritted. It's so hard for her to project any kind of confidence. The weight of Douglas' hands feel like they're crushing the life out of her, slowly but surely. She's truly being made a spectacle of here.

Leaning in near enough to be able to whisper to Esther, Medusa does just that. Whatever she says when she pulls back she is watching the Slytherin with clear concern. The Gorgon might be known for playing games but she protects her own. Her gaze lifts to Elizabeth and Gage, the latter who appears to be trying to hide his much larger fram rather unsuccessfully behind a cat. "I will ensure Esther is looked after, do not worry."

Douglas has talked himself out of the right to speak in Elizabeth's opinion, when it comes to Esther. He's instantly disregarded and her attention returns to solely focus on Esther, staring intently into her eyes as if to decipher some sort of hidden message inside of them. And with her words, the Ravenclaw firms her jaw, shooting a heated gaze at Medusa as the other girl whispers into her housemate's ear. "Fine. As you wish." Elizabeth murmurs, shifting her gaze back to Esther. And leaning forward, she whispers something faint into her ear as well before pulling away, rising to her feet. She doesn't excuse herself. Doesn't speak a word to Douglas and Medusa as she approaches Gage instead, her expression softens subtly. "She was not bothersome," she tries to reassure him. "If it doesn't interfere with your Breakfast, can you escort me out?" If Gage agrees, she gives him a thankful look, holding her book a bit tighter against her chest as she makes her way out of the Great Hall. She'll leave regardless of course, but still she waiting briefly just in case.

Esther's response to that whisper is both everything and nothing that one might expect. She seems like a great weight has been lifted, but still… Hurt. "I… I understand, Medusa." She speaks, voice dropping to a whisper. Considering what she has just put herself through, the fear that she's been made to feel, she hopes that what she says is enough. Elizabeth sneaks in next - And Esther places a gentle hand over the other girls, if only for a moment - Nothing is said in return though. She's allowed to leaves, before she turns to Douglas - Forcing a smile onto her face, despite the awkward nature of the moment. "I… I am sorry."

Douglas returns the smile, although he does shoot a puzzled look towards Medusa. "Um. Sure, no bother," he responds, shrugging a shoulder. He nudges Medusa's chair with his foot to get her attention, again giving her that look of befuddlement, eyes widening in question.

Medusa looks just as confused as Douglas is. She leans away from Esther, letting the girl handle things herself and returns her attention to her breakfast. "So that charms homework," she says to Douglas, hoping things can return to normal or as normal as they can be with two Slytherin having breakfast at the Gryffindor table. Not that this is the firt time Medusa has ventured across the hall, but she usually doesn't bring younger students with her.

The corner of his lips twitches lightly as Elizabeth turns to him, and then drops his gaze to Shadow Mist. He inches close to the cat, picking her up into her arms. "A-Aye," Gage stammers out as he nods his head, standing up quickly as he shifts on his feet. His eyebrows crease as he looks confused, but he simply shrugs. But it isn't his place to ask questions, he just agrees quietly, "Oi- Oi can."

Alphard was having breakfast in his usual spot, with the sixth year Slytherins. It was also no surprise that the discussion that was raging across the table was all about Quidditch. Mostly Professional Quidditch, but occasionally it veered into the school teams, too. Especially who was going to win between Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, and how that was going to reveal weaknesses that the Slytherin team could exploit. It was the kids who weren't actually playing on the team who had the loudest opinions of these thins. Alphard was only paying half attention, comfortably reclined in his chair like a king at his court, occasionally munching at his breakfast. At some point, though, his attentions landed at the unholy trio: Douglas with his Slythie girl harem.

Esther doesn't seem to want to run away just so quickly, but there's a sense of relief as she slowly gets up. "I… I had best leave you two alone." She murmurs, still fighting the embarrassment. Clearly her own reaction was severe enough to convince Medusa that she was innocent. She doesn't notice Alphard - Thankfully. Instead, she wanders towards the exit, clutching her bookbag tightly.

Douglas shrugs again, rubbing at the back of his head as he resumes his seat. "Well. What was that all about?" he queries, reaching forward to stack his plate with a second helping of bacon. "What did you do to her, Malfoy? She's bloody petrified."

"I swear I didn't do anything." Medusa watches the retreat of Esther with some concern. "You don't think she's loony like Janette do you?" She reaches for her cutlery and begins cutting up her food. "I waited for her, figuring she was going to try and avoid me. She's been doing it since the rumours started. Anyway, I told her to tell me what she hoped to gain from the rumours and then said something about if she had a crush on you to get over it and invited her to breakfast." Nothing wrong with that and if there had been a few glares or intimidating body language well c'mon, this is Medusa Malfoy, the Slytherin Queen, the Gorgon - such things are expected. Her gaze lifts across the hall and she spies Alphard, gives him a little wave.

"She's probably loony," Douglas admits, "but it's a harmless sort of loony." He elbows Medusa, rolling his eyes. "Anyway, I was quite enjoying the fan club, thank you very much! She's all right, that one. Bit weird, but y'know. Nobody ever said I had any taste in women."

Alphard didn't really ever seem to believe he needed an invitation to go anywhere or join any group. They would be lucky to have him, right? None the less it was the wave that got him pushing up to his feet, picking up his breakfast (the plate as usual heaped with enough to feed a crowd - the day he stopped growing he better stay active or he was going to get fat fast) and meandering over. Of course he wasn't particularly popular among the Gryffindors; but that was alright. Most of them were so far beneath him that he was hardly aware they even existed. "So that was a fairly obvious 'I want to run away as fast as I can, but I'm trying in vain to cling to my dignity' sort of retreat, wasn't it?" He asked them both casually as he dumped himself down.

"So it seems," Medusa says in agreement with Alphard. She looks over at him, pausing with toast hovering near her mouth. "Isn't Esther related to you somehow? She's a Crabbe or something, right? What's been eating her? I know I am terrifying good at ensuring social ridicule and exclusion but she was behaving as if someone actually had her terrified."

Douglas arches a brow. "I just assumed she was terrified of you, Malfoy. Hey, Black," he adds, giving the other boy a nod. "Mind, she got pretty shitty the other day with you, Black. And that other Lowe. You know. The quidditch incident, with the bludger." He nods to Alphard pointedly. "So what's the big deal? Or is she just one of those girls who turns everything into a massive issue?"

"Quite so, quite so. We're both Crabbes on our mother's side. Used to see her a bit when we were growing up, actually. I don't remember if she was actually this crazy back then, or if it's a new thing. I admit I never really paid that much attention to her." He rolled out a dismissive shrug. Though when the question was whether there was something that might have spooked her, he looked immediately to Douglas. Then he shrugged again. "Right. Bludger." He should've kept his sneer off his face, probably, but it just wasn't meant to be. "I honestly don't know. Used to be she's just sit and read somewhere. Then rumors started going around she hanging with the mudbloods in the library, like a little mousy hideaway, so I gently suggested she should socialize a little with a better crowd. Since then she's been acting out."

"That would be be the quidditch incident where Myrus Lowe broke his hand?" Medusa poses her question in between bites of sausage. "He is an odd one. Maybe it's a Lowe thing. Like how some of the Lestranges have webbed toes." Which may well be a lie that Medusa just made up. "I hear the squibs have pigs trotters for hands." More breakfast and she adds, "Not Balty though. He was dreamy, broody cruel perfection. How sad he will be when I break off our date."

Douglas chews on a piece of bacon, nodding thoughtfully. "Aye, that incident. Where Myrus broke his hand." He grins faintly, shrugging a shoulder. "Unless it's me. You know, girls see me, immediately start acting all batty. It would make a lot of sense. And who the hell is Balty?"

"Though if you ask me, they both needed to see that. You don't play.." he paused, let a moment of silence stretch out as he got himself some OJ. "Quidditch.. if you're not willing to accept the possibility of getting hurt. A reality check, you know? Anyone can act brave if nothing bad ever comes from it. But you're right.. it might be a Lowe thing. Though technically in Myrus' defense, he was doing exactly what I suggested he should've done to you, if you ever came against him." The latter said with a half a bemused chuckle, and a look at Douglas. "Of course, I'm not you." "Balthazar Lestrange." Eyeroll. Alphard didn't g et the fascination, obviously. Alphard was the dreamy, broody cruel perfection!

"Balthazar…El Jefe. He finished school last year. He actually was Soleil's boyfriend but all the girls chased him. Not me, but then I'm not a chaser. I am clearly meant to be chased." Medusa swaps fork for glass and sips her juice. "In truth he was a little be too…into having his shoes polished for my tastes. Who wants an uptight boyfriend?" Her amused and teasing gaze flits to Alphard, "Well, maybe Andromena does."

"Please, there's nothing uptight about wanting to be presentable," Alphard protested with a snobbish nose-in-the-air grimace. Technically he even strove to be presentable while playing Quidditch; he'd spent quite some time debating the details of his uniform with his tailor until it was the perfect balance between style and comfort. Of course said presentably usually only lasted a second or two. Still, totally worth it. "And since she has impeccable style, there's no surprise she wants to see the same in others."

Douglas points to Medusa. "See? Batty. Now she thinks boys want to chase her, too." He rolls his eyes sadly. "It's all right, Medusa. We'll save you a space at St Mungo's next to Batshit Abbott." He snorts at Alphard's comment. "Bollocks. Have you see how many girls take Magical Creatures as a class? And I'll give you a clue, it's not because they love the animals. Every girl's dream is a rugged, tough adventurer type, the kind who can live on twigs and dirt, and still sweep them off their feet." He thumbs his chest, raising both brows.

"I took Magical Creatures," Alphard said airily. "I'm more than willing to get dirty if I must, but who in their right mind wants to make a lifestyle out of it? A wizard who ends up having to live off twigs and dirt obviously didn't plan his adventure very well. Any girl who prefers that to a respectable forward thinking wizard, really deserves all the misery she'll get."

Medusa laughs and looks between them, clearly amused. "Maybe the three of us should send Janette a get well card." Putting aside such catty remarks the Malfoy girl nods her pale head, "Andromena does have style and taste. I like her. She was hilarious during the match. I think there is just a little streak of mean in her." When Douglas goes on about Kettleburn being the reason so many girls take Creatures her head bobs again in agreement, "He's right. I took it for years and I can't tell you anything useful other than I know his birthday is coming up and I bet he will get loads of owls with anonymous gifts."

"Of course she's got a mean streak. She's Meanie." The Slytherin boy waggled his brows at Medusa.

"Girls like a bloke who can prove he's a man, that's all I'm saying," Douglas points out, raising his hands. "Not somebody who needs a house elf and a shiny set of shoes to be able to face the day."

"Alphard is going to take Andromena on a picnic date. He can show her he is manly then," Medusa relates the sixth year couple's plans to Douglas. "Carry the basket for her, Alphard and offer to help her sit and get up. Manners are important, even when being manly." The girl pauses to eat a bit more and think of further advice to give.

"Somewhere in that lummox head of yours, you've confused looking and living like a pauper, and being a man," Alphard snorted. "It takes actual effort to look like a properly civilized gentlewizard. Any brainless buffoon can go for 'rugged', which is why most of them are brainless buffoons. Speaking of, want a banana, Macmillan?" Sly grin. "I know my manners, Medusa."

Douglas sets an arm under his oxter, screeching and barking like a monkey, before giving Alphard an amiable two fingers. "So, picnic date, eh? In November? Maybe you're more rugged than you're letting on, Black. Take a flask of something to keep you warm, trust me. Nobody likes sitting around with their latest pash with their bum freezing off."

Medusa muses, "You think about doing things like offering to let her use your scarf or hat. But she is a Ravenclaw so you have to do something clever too; read her some poetry. I can write some for you." Her mouth quirks into a grin. "I'm quite good at it."

An unwilling chuckle forced its way up Alphard's throat at Douglas' antics, and he met that two finger salute with just a snicker in return. "Medusa's machinations, really. She set me up." He shook his head. "Ugh, no poetry. I can handle a date quite fine. I know what she likes, anyway. Blue fluffy rabbits. I took her to the Magical Creature Shop last," Hogsmeade weekend, "and she spent forever nuzzling the poor things. So something.. fluffy themed."

Douglas just eyes him in disbelief. "Blue. Fluffy. Rabbits. Black, you're not the man I thought you were." He holds up a hand. "I'm not angry, just disappointed."

"I didn't say I liked them," Alphard protested loudly!

Douglas points. "You didn't say you didn't."

"I was looking at the snakes, thank you very much. The snakes." Alphard replied in his most haughtily superior tone. "It was implicit in the scenario."

Medusa cannot help but laugh and when they carry on she laughs all the harder, even starting to cry a little despite it not being quite that funny. "I now have this mental image of Alphard secretly hoping that his pet snake will eat Andromena's blue fluffy thing." Which sounds as if it could be entirely rude if taken the wrong way.

Douglas doesn't help matters by nudging Medusa and waggling his eyebrows suggestively.

"The two of you.." Frowning, he shook his head and went to work on his scrambled eggs and bacon breakfast. There were some tomato beans there, too, and a few bits of sausage. He wasn't shoveling it in so much as very methodically cleaning out his plate in the most efficient - yet still civilized - manner possible. "Anyway," switching the topic once he'd swallowed down a few mouthfuls. "What's this." His fork went back and forth between the two of them.

The nudging draws a snort of laughter from Medusa. Not wanting to embarrass Alphard she doesn't press him any further with talk of his upcoming date. "Well I couldn't let some big haired fifth year get the better of me now could I?" She adds more juice to her glass and takes a sip. "Can we invite Douglas to your party?"

"She decided she couldn't keep her hands off me," Douglas decides, with a martyred sigh. "So I suppose I'm giving her a second chance."

Alphard rolled his eyes with a sigh. "Really, Medusa?" He asked her, unable to help himself. Even when he didn't have any sort of personal stake in her relationship status, it was quite obvious he just couldn't understand the why. With long suffering sigh he waved it off. "Like you said, bonkers." He paused. "Sure, I guess. Put him on the list."

"It's like you said, Alphard, it is good to be with someone who thinks the way you do. Douglas is from a good family with a good reputation. He's Magijugend too." Her head turns towards the Gryffindor and she grins up at him, "Plus he's got that manly Scots thing going for him," before looking back at her housemate, "and he is loyal. I might be rubbish at transfiguration but even I know you two have secrets." Her victory regarding the party list earns Alphard a bright smile. "Andromena and I will plan the best party ever."

"Loyal? You make me sound like a bloody 'puff," Douglas protests, thumping Medusa's shoulder. "Let's go with brave, and charming and… uh… when's this party, anyway? Christmas do?"

"Loyal but obedient hound, eh?" Alphard asked with another exasperated shake of his head. He blinked innocently. Which of course was a tell in itself. Alphard never did his innocence act unless he was guilty. "Secrets? What sort of secrets could we possibly have?" Hmph. "Great. And yes. I'm throwing a party in the winter holidays. I got Meanie and Medusa to do the organizing and invitations. I'm just bankrolling and hosting it."

"Fine, have your little secret. Andromena and I have our's too." Which is probably more worrying to teenage boys. Medusa finishes off her juice and sets the empty glass down. "It will be a fantastic party." She dots a kiss on Douglas' cheek and blows one to Alphard, "But for now I have herbology, which I know you both miss imensely. I am going to go and using this," she grabs a straw from the table and tucks it up her sleeve, "plan on spitting seeds at the back of Crocker's head when Beery isn't looking."

Douglas grins, lifting a hand. "I'll see you at lunchtime, Malfoy. Don't get caught."

Alphard's brow knitted in a slight frown at the suggestion that Meanie and Medusa had some sort of secret between them. He was still frowning as he waved her goodbye, not even commenting on her intent to spit seeds. "She was just bluffing, wasn't she?" Finally asked of Douglas once Malfoy was on her way.

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