(1938-11-27) Not Your Victim Anymore
Details for Not Your Victim Anymore
Summary: Having tormented Gage as per Alphard's instructions, Esther is finally free of having Myrus used against her. It's not enough for her though, the girl seems to have a suicidal feud brewing with the older, stronger Black… Who is given his first warning for underestimating the oldest Lowe.
Date: 1938-11-27
Location: Silent Corridor, 4th Floor, Hogwarts Castle

The note was simple. "I have met your conditions. Please see me after dinner, 4th Floor, Silent Corridor. ~Esther Lowe"

Esther is waiting there, As per usual, she's skipped dinner, and she's found herself somewhere comfortable to be while waiting. Sitting, half out the window, toying with her wand and musing to herself. Alphard might know that she had her Magijugend interview today - If not, so be it. She's happy enough to have done it, strangely. Occasionally her hand drifts outside, collecting a few droplets of water, and then she gently rubs them into her other hand. The wild haired girl is, and forever will be, a little bit odd.

Alphard never missed dinner. Or breakfast, or lunch, or any of his numerous inbetween meals. It was one of the first signs of something being wrong with him, when he stopped piling food onto his plates. Today everything was obviously just fine and dandy, though, because even after dinner he still had room for a pear. He was idly crunching on the fruit as he he casually jumped the last bit of distance between a still moving stretch of stairs and the 4th floor landing. With his nonchalant confidence it was made to look effortlessly easy, which belied the coordination it required. Someone was going to emulate him and fall to a broken fate one day. Hopefully he'd be watching while it happened, so he could point and laugh.
"Dear cousin," he hailed her as he continued to crunch on his pear. A look down each direction told him they were alone. "You wanted to see me?"

If she ate more she might be less frail. Still, the delicate young woman climbs down from her post, and offers Alphard a smile. It's no secret between the two how much she'd love for it to be him that falls one day. "I did. I thought, dear cousin, you should know that I've applied to join the Magijugend; and I completed the other task you had set for me. I hope now that I am to be in control of my own fate, and misdemeanours." It's surely not going to be that easy.

"Hopefully to be accepted into our lovely society," Alphard murmured with a pleasent tone. If he was aware of her loathing, well, he sure didn't seem to acknowledge it in any way. Instead he companionably flopped into the window next to her, sitting close enough that people might not wonder if the Blacks weren't back to cousin-shagging again. It wasn't as if they had been above that sort of thing before.
"Mhmm. About that. For some peculiar reason the victim of your.. playful prank, seems to think that I was behind it. Why is that, do you think?" Asked idly.

"Why, cousin, I'm shocked at you needing to ask." Esther tilts her head to the side, her bountiful hair spilling over her shoudlers. "What use is making someone afraid unless they know what to be afraid of? I didn't think you wanted that poor by afraid of a nameless fear. I wanted it to be concrete." Deliciously cold. Perhaps she is coming around. "Now, his fear is fact." She does close her eyes a moment, drawing in a fortifying breath. She might be strong enough to throw him out the window. "Were you upset? I lack your… Brute Force approach."

"But see, that's part of the fun, Esther. When they can't be really sure who to blame, but instead gnaw on their suspicions with pathetic indecision." A couple more loud crunches, fruit juices exploding out past his lips in a fine spray of tiny little droplets that the moonlight caught beautifully, then he swallowed down. His wand was out in a casual motion, held with deft elegance and familiarity, as if it was but an extension of his will. It seemed to know what to do even before he did, sometimes. The pear core was tossed into the air, his wand following: "Evanesco." Poof.
"Upset? Not at all. It led to a wonderful moment where the filthy mudblood cried as he apologized to me. Infront of everybody. Priceless." He sighed happily.
"But, really, since I didn't tell you to credit me.. well, I'm not sure if it can count. As it happens, you were so wonderfully inventive in your first foray, I'm sure you could handle a second one. This time without incident."

"How's about one without Incentive, Alphard?" Esther offers in that same cool, calm tone. That spell could work on a man, surely, erase him from existence. Or just render him invisible, able to torment at will. "If you think I was inventive, able; If I was so capable of making you smile;" She turns her head a little more, facing him. The rage in those otherwise beautiful grey eyes is obvious. It might even make them moreso. "Then grant me my wish, and expect me to do the next based purely on my word."
It's an unusual offer. The sort that would normally have to come with strings.

Alphard was still looking at the empty spot where the pear's core had once been. But as she turned towards him, he caught the movement in the corner of his eye, and slowly slanted a considering stare in her direction. He tapped his lips with a finger. "Perhaps you're right, Esther. I don't want you to think me as completely heartless. I acknowledge progress when I see it. Very well. Your wish is granted." His free hand made a little mock-courtly flourish, followed by a shoulder-level bow of his head.

"And I have your word that barring his own idiocy, my other cousin is safe from you?" Esther talks about Alphard like he's some kind of an active, hostile threat. "Because that will be… At least one load off my mind." The next is a bigger… And altogether more frightening thing to discuss. Her teeth gently seize her lower lip, worrying at it nervously.

"Yes, yes. He rises or falls entirely based on his own actions, rather than the bond of family and blood between the two of you. Or whatever you get up to. Unless you involve him in it. You have my word." Even when he had been a kid, back before either of them had gone to Hogwarts, Alphard had held onto the romantic ideal that his word was evening. As if possessing that one redeeming quality was a licence to dismiss nearly every other constraint upon his morality. With a regal wave he brushed aside her concerns on that topic. "Be free of spirit and so forth."

"There's… One other thing." Esther seems… Very shy. She'd probably sneak back inside the window, were it not for Alphard - Although looking outside if definiteley something she considers. She shifts, a little uncomfortably. "On the rooftop, I learned three things… And I wanted to know if you could help me with any of them." Her sentence is left at that, while she toys with her wand. Preoccupied. Thoughts. Memories.

Alphard let out a sigh that suggested he felt somewhat put-upon. Yet at the end of the slow wistful sound he non the less grunted out a: "Oh, very well. Since you're blood and all." It wouldn't do to shove her out in the cold whens he came asking for assistance, not after he had put such effort into bringing her around into proper behavior.

"I realised… That Duelling Club had no further point to it." Which would explain her absense since then. "… That a duel could begin armed, unarmed, unaware." Esther frowns, "That magic is not… The most important thing in a duel," When she was rather suddenly tackled down, "And that… I'm a little bit afraid of you." A pause. She lets her words sink in. "And I don't want to be any longer. I want to know… What would happen if we stood, wands drawn, and made the best of it." Her cheeks flush slightly. She's aware what she's asking could end in severe injury. What would possibly possess her to do this?

"You're quite wrong, you know. Proper wizards know how to duel, and follow the appropriate style. What you learn in the Duelling Club matters." Alphard sounded quite serious when he spoke about it, perhaps even a bit protective of the club. He had always liked it there, except on those occasions when someone lesser got one over him. Then he'd be in a bad mood for days or even weeks after. "Still, while a duel is a beautiful thing.. it's not as if it fits in every scenario. And it's not the same as a fight. You don't get into a fight and then expect it to conform to the principles of a civilized duel. A duel has form that must be observed." And up on the rooftop, none of them had bothered to play by its forms. So Alphard had reacted appropriately.
"You should be afraid of me. And you want to know what would happen?" He laughed, unable to help the derision in his voice as he leaned in towards his younger cousin. His eyes were very dark. "You would be hurt, Esther. I am older than you, I am better than you, and to be frank: I sort of enjoy it when someone cries out in pain. I'm not proud of it, but it seems to give me an edge where others hesitate."

Esther corrects herself. "I don't know how to fight." She states. "And … It's something that I need to learn." Of course, when Alphard leans in, she does shrink back just a little, but so much less than she might have a month ago. "I. Don't. Care." Her response is simple. "… I owe it to myself, win, lose or draw… Not to be a victim anymore. No-ones victim. And that starts with wand out, and you opposite." Her draws her teeth over her lip again, nerves apparent. "And if that means I end up hurt, so be it. I'm sick and tired of being afraid, sick and tired of not knowing. If you're going to hurt me, then hurt me. Just take the fear away, and give me the peace of a fact."

With a shrug Alphard slid out of the window. With his back to her he arched his spine in a vaguely feline stretch. "I don't think you need to learn how to fight at all, Esther. It's not something a good witch needs to learn. If you want to have an idea of how you'd measure up to me, I'm sure I can wrangle a prefect to look over us while we duel." He looked over his shoulder at her. "But the real thing? No. No, Esther. What would mother say? She told me to look after you." Which was what he'd been doing, as far as he was concerned.

"If my mother cared about my injuries, it would only be if they were permanent." Esther's voice deadpans rather suddenly. "And if I'd cared for her opinion in the matter I would have asked her. I don't want to duel, Alphard. I want to try and best you, and should I fail, Iwant to know the consequences. You'll draw your wand at the slightest insult, but when given good cause, you find every possible reason to avoid it." Esther pauses, and looks down rather suddenly. "It almost makes you seem… Petty." Almost definitely a dirty word, when speaking to Alphard Black.

A dangerous glint appeared in his eyes when she accused him of being 'petty'. "Watch it, cousin," he told her with a sudden chill. "This might surprise you, but I don't go around just hurting people nillywilly. Besides, you wouldn't not face the full consequences, because it wouldn't be real. Arranging a fight? Bah. It wouldn't be real. It can't be real, because there's none of the context from which to draw on. Settle for a duel if you want to measure up against me. It'll tell you the end result. And what I'd do after I'd slapped you down? You can imagine that easily enough."

"There is context. There is due cause." Esther slides from the window, holding her wand lightly. It's not a threat, yet. "Alphard… I want us to be friends. If nothing else, we're family. But without a chance to measure myself against my fear, none of it will ever be real." She blushes, as she goes on. "There /will/ be a fight, Alphard. And much as I'm like to lose, I'm unlikely to hold back… And I'll wear the consequences of my actions." She takes a slow step towards him. "And I'm sure that as the instigator, you'll feel no guilt in taking me down as hard as you would anyone else."

"You're being very stupid, Esther," Alphard warned as he brought his own wand back out. "I'm warning you, you do not want to do this." His eyes were thin glint of warning as he faced down his younger cousin. Subtly his posture had changed, feet spreading out for better balance while his arm lifted to bring the wand into readiness to do magic. "Anyone can come by, and I don't bloody need the hassle of explaining myself to the faculty."

"So I already have you on principle." Esther's wand whips away. "Now all I need is location." The corner of her lips tease into a smile, as she walks up to Alphard, intending to walk past him, but quite clearly at least partially in his path. One hand flattens itself against the center of his chest, so she can lean up on her tiptoes, to whisper to him. "It's your edge, Alphard; not my advantage. Yet somehow you are the one coming off hesitant." She's baiting the viper, in a big way. Co-operating, yes, doing everything he asks. But determined to get her ass kicked, for whatever reason.

"Hesitant?" She was getting under his skin. There was only so much baiting Alphard was willing to take from anyone, for any reason at all. As she leaned up to him, his free hand shot out, meaning to wrap a girm and dominant grip around Esther's wrist. A motion designed to push her wand out of the way while his own remained in operation. Forward, using shere physical strength and presnece to shove the girl againts the nearby wall. "Please, save your pathetic attempt to bait me." Even if it was sort of working. His lips twisted in a sneer. "I see through it. You're not going to manipulate me into doing anything I don't want to do. And I don't want to fight you, Esther. You're my blood. You're also just a girl with no real talent. There's nothing at all in it for me."

It serves it's purpose. Esther's slender wrist is easily seized, her wand hand pulled aside, she's shoved hard up against the wall. She's a fraction of his size, less than a percentage of his strength, Close to her, his lips in a sneer… And her own in a sweet smile, confidence, despite the threat of physical force. This is a new Esther. The focus shows on her face, as her wand hand turns, forcing itself free from his grasp, the slender, whippy piece of willow is able to point at her beloved cousin's head. "Alphard…" Her voice is sweet, "This will be the last time I'll ever let you get away with underestimating me." Her head gestures to her wand, by way of warning. "I'm your blood… And I'm a girl, a year younger than you. I'm resourceful. Ambitious. And if that's not enough to earn your respect, time will come that I'll take it."

She had slippery little wrists, the bitch. He thought he'd had a decent grip, but it proved to be an illusion. Awareness didn't do anything to improve his mood, it only twisted his expression further into a coolly superior mask, with rage bubbling just under the surface. "Enough to earn my respect? No, it's not enough to earn my respect, Esther." Taking a slow breath, he leaned back out of her face. "But it's a start. Better than being a mewling little furrball hiding in the corner, I suppose. But you really need to work on how you use your new-found self confidence. I'm a your natural ally, so let go of all this hostility and need measure up to me directly."

Esther's wand-tip is allowed to lower, although the cool look in her eye fails to leave, as Alphard gives just the smallest amount of ground. "It's a start, Alphard. But I won't tolerate you hiding under my bed much longer." She states, "And new-found confidence aside, what comes of the hostility between you and I remains to be seen." Her hands come down suddenly, pushing herself bodily against Alphard in order to get free. "… For now… I'm due to meet mine other cousin. Don't go changing, Alphard." She offers by way of goodbye. Definitely not a victim anymore. Her heart may be pounding in her chest, but her exterior is cold as ice.

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