(1938-12-02) The Dweedle-Lowe Problem
Details for Out Of Order
Summary: Esther invites Alphard to meet with her to discuss his conflict with Julian and how it changes her opinion of him. When Medusa arrives, conversation turns to the dispute Esther had with Elizabeth earlier. When Alphard returns to bed, Esther is left to ask Medusa about romance.
Date: 1938-12-02
Location: Slytherin Common Room - Hogwarts

"Alphard Black;

You have my deepest sympathies for the situation that occurred with Julian Edwards. The cowardice of that man. I would like to speak with you, if you can make the time.

~Esther Lowe"

It's an unusual note. Esther makes up for it, as is her way, by being asleep from dinner until 11pm, until she's sure that it's unlikely for her to be disturbed - And then she slinks from her dormitory to the baths, and from there, down to the common room proper. Freshly washed, in a loose, thin blouse, her long uniform skirt, and precisely nothing else. Her wand rests on the table before her, as she lays down on a couch… And bizarrely, just stares at the ceiling.

"Plotting answers to the great mysteries of the universe, are we?" Alphard's undoubtedly familiar voice cut through the Slytherin common room. As often was the case, the timbre of budding male adulthood was tinged with a hint of mockery. Though right now muted enough that it could perhaps pass for simple teasing. He wasn't always malicious. "Or perhaps just daydreaming. Say.. swooning in the arms of a handsome hero?" He had come from the dorms, looking fairly tired, if not completely exhausted. There was a yawn hiding behind his knuckles. "I got your note. While I appreciate the sentiment, I promise you that sympathies aren't necessary. It went exactly like I wanted." Well, not quite. His lips split in a sinister sneer as he added: "Almost, anyway. But even being hexed simply served the cause. It made his transgression all the more serious." He should have been smirking, but true pleasure at a well turned plot still didn't find a home in him. He wasn't even aware of his frown.

"Alphard." Esther sits up suddenly, an uncharacteristic smile on her face. It's pointed, strangely, straight at the object of her usual despise. "Something like that. I've been somewhat beset by heroes of late, and exposed to a fair share of villains as well." She slides her legs off the couch, and gets to her feet. Brushing herself off, lightly. "I admit, I was wrong about you. I thought you were something of a mad dog, Alphard." She leaves her wand on the table, "But you're something a lot more wicked than that." There was a touch of class to how neatly her former mentor, and former… Well, what he could have been - Was undone. Is that… Admiration in her voice? Or respect?

Alphard laughed. It was a good laugh, as far as laughs went. Genuine. There was enough depth to his voice to add character, and if it had a certain note of malevolence to it, then it combined beautifully with some richly textured humor. He cut his eyes into his younger cousin, evaluating her.
"Yes.. well. I do believe that was the idea of me that Edwards labored under. Just because I can sometimes be brutal, I must be stupid or incapable of subterfuge? Just because I want to physically hurt him, it must mean that if he dangles a chance to do so in front of my face, why, I can't possibly ignore it." He snorted while he kept advancing on his cousin. "I must.. leap at it. Snarling, biting, savage.. indifferent to consequence!" "But why, dear cousin, would I want to risk my future to hurt him.. when I could just.." he shrugged, deceptively mild, "let him destroy himself?"

Bizarrely, Esther is mirroring the approach - If not in speed. "You had me fooled, sweet cousin." Esther smiles. He was an entirely more interesting beast now. Not just one she wanted to put down. One she wanted to cage. Control. And then put down, if necessary. "Edwards never saw it coming. He truly does live, love and feel in the moment." A note of regret in her voice. "I thought all you had that I wanted was strength. Now I see how much there is to learn." A note of hope. Ambition. Something that Slytherin has only been seeing recently. But this new spate of enthusiasm comes fresh from a recent, rather less than idea encounter with a half-blood for herself.

"No, I didn't. You had yourself fooled, Esther." But she was allowing him to relish in his victory, something he had largely been unable to do until this moment. Or perhaps it was simply that time had passed enough for him to forget that horrible moment of looking down at his reversed knees, knowing that some bastard Half-Blood had somehow managed to get his hex past his shield. In front of everybody. He had almost convinced himself that Julian had only succeeded because he'd attacked before Alphard had drawn his wand. But only almost. Regardless, it left him rather well disposed towards her. Who didn't like a bit of admiration and genuine respect? "Hopefully he'll get expelled. I'll be surprised if he doesn't.. but even if he does dodge it, I doubt he'll be able to revive his dream of becoming an Auror." Dream, crushed. Point Alphard, especially since he knew it was what Julian lived for.

There's a little bit of a sting in that. "I don't see him being expelled." Esther muses, quietly. "But you're right about his dream. Perhaps he best serves as a reminder not to underestimate Alphard Black." The distance between them is nothing all too soon, the slender Lowe smiling up at her taller cousin from inside his personal space. "It does seem to me that he fought you, not duelled you, though. The indecency, of attacking you without provocation or due form." A hint of a smile. "Much like I warned you. Could I offer you a drink, dear cousin?" … Did she really just say that?

"You're not seeing the full picture. Edwards made enemies with his petition," Alphard said. "Any other student, any other time.." With arrogant dismissal he shook his head. His hand briefly settled on Esther's shoulder, a perversely gentle gesture. Squeezing with what appeared to be fond kinship, before it withdrew and he redirected his path to one of the chairs in front of the perpetually roaring fire.
His lips twitched with annoyance at the mention of having 'warned him'. "Then let me warn you; pick your battles wisely if you're going to bloody ignore the rules. Winning an engagement matters little if you've lost the fucking war." He sniffed. It wasn't often one heard the F word coming from him, either. Alphard tended to speak like a privileged upperclass snob. Which he was. "Thank you. Yes. So, anyway. Little birdies told me about you and a Half-Blood in the Great Hall."

"Perhaps. I wonder if that will make him appear more of a victim than antagonist." Esther muses aloud, exploring avenues of thought Alphard might not. The kind gesture attracts her gaze, but no further response as she collects her wand, and then touches the kettle that sits on it's own table, especially for this kind of task. "And study my opponent carefully, I am well aware. But it only serves to reinforce my point. People who mean you harm don't care for duelling rules and regulations. While it makes the rules of war more important, it makes me…" A pause. A frown. "Vulnerable." The kettle boils at a touch, and she faces a new question. One that /obviously/ wounds poor Lowe, almost immediately. "… Elizabeth was a good friend." Was. "Cocoa? Coffee? Tea?" She offers, trying to change the topic.

"Bah. To people who don't matter, who are already against us, and who will still have to deal with the undeniable evidence that he was there, that he admitted to it." Alphard sniffed derisively. Apparently he had at least considered the possibility of Julian going down as a martyr. "This again? The Duelling Club is where you learn to fight and defend yourself. I am not going to engage you in anything outside of it, for reasons that should be obvious. I don't want to hear it, Esther. I really don't. Focus on your school work. There are only a handful of students at Hogwarts who'd even consider actually hurting you, and what you want to do is avoid them. Or come to me." Which was of no help at all if said student was him, of course.
"Well, what happened? And cocoa."

"Don't worry, sweet cousin. Your victory was complete;" Esther smiles across the room, hoping her distraction did it's job. "Although I may have a quiet word, to see how well Edwards has come out of it in his own head." The refusal irks her, just a little bit. "I've told you before. I will not be a victim, Alphard - Not to one of a handful, and not to you. If you won't help, I will find someone who can. I'd rather have someone I can trust to do right by me, however." The indication is unmistakable. She trusts him? At All?
… When he interrogates her further, she falls silent. For several long seconds, as she makes cocoa for her cousin. Eventually, she admits. "I… Elizabeth found out that I may have had something to do with what happened to Gage." She bites her lower lip. So firmly that it leaves a long-standing mark. "The mudblood boy." It takes strength to say the last sentence. Moreso to offer Alphard the drink, without pouring it over his face.

Alphard was in his silk black silk pyjamas, the ones emblazoned with the crest of the Noble And Most Ancient House of Black. Though normally he had no trouble at all sleeping through the night, something had woken him, and now he was here, curled up in the chair in front of the raging fireplace, with 'beloved' cousin Esther doting on him with hot cocoa. He rolled his eyes. "Then by all means, ignore your older and wiser cousin. But you'll be doing it with someone else. I'll not help you in a pointless exercise that gains me nothing, but risks backfiring spectacularly." "Ah. Did you blab or did he blab? If it was the former, then that was rather stupid of you. Never admit to anything, never say you're sorry, never explain, never 'make amends'.. and don't gloat to someone who won't appreciate the beauty of your actions."

Because that arse of a caretaker still has not fixed the girl's toilets Medusa has been roped in to going out of the house and up to the toilets on another floor along with Janette's prefecty replacement and a few other girls. One of those girls is her cousin Beatrice Nott. That they are the last two to return is likely no surprise. "I swear your bladder has shrunk since that toilet was put out of order. There is no way you need to wee that often or that you are still getting turned around in the maze at night."

The ginger bombshell merely grins and grins too much like a naughty child that got one over on their parents. "What can I say? Marshmallow Nott is known for being ditzy." Like her cousin, Beatrice is dressed in her pyjamas, sippers and a dressing gown. But unlike Medusa who is fresh-faced, Bea has a full compliment of make-up on. She stops as they enter the common room, eyeing one of her many exes and The Hair.

'The Hair' is the cause of Alphard's misfortune - But she's already changed out of her pyjamas and into something similar to uniform. Generally, one has to catch her right after dinner to see her pyjamas. Or just before the late night baths. "Perhaps." She admits, knowing it might all go to hell. The ownership of the cocoa is transferred, Esther not wanting anything herself. Instead, the girl settles on a nearby couch. "I think… I think I must have said something." Esther admits, looking over at Alphard. Her eyes wide. It's one of the few times she's ever viewed the cruel man as family. "… How can you survive, knowing that someone thinks that kind of thing of you…?" Her voice is barely above a whisper - And her eye finally catches Medusa. The blush is extreme. Shame.

Medusa too takes in the cosy little scene. Her reaction is to arch a brow in surprise. Hands are slipped into the pockets of her silver silk dressing gown. Everything about her nightwear adds to the ethereal nature of her looks. Shimmery silvery fabrics complimenting her moonlight pale hair. The kitten heels of her slippers tap against the stone floor as she walks further into the common room. "Quite a cozy little tete e tete." Esther is given a look. "I believe you are on my sofa, Esther." There are chairs flanking the sofas of course but Medusa has every expectation that one of these will soon be occupied by the Lowe. "Alphard," she heard of his run-in with Edwards and deigns to drop a passing kiss on his head.

Beatrice seems small when standing near her cousin, but her personality more than makes up for it. "Kissing cousins now, Alphie?" With a snigger she drops on the arm of the chair he is seated upon. "Make sure you go for the full body bind and then kiss it better." Esther is given a salacious wink, "You'll enjoy that. Trust me."

Alphard's method for dealing with Beatrice was pretending that they had never dated. That she was once more just another Slytherin girl. A reasonably attractive but rather intellectually limited one. He casually let his eyes pass over her, then Medusa, before he lifted his steaming cup up in a sort of friendly salutation to the both of them. "Esther's treat. I'm sure she wouldn't mind making more, right?" He rolled his eyes at Medusa's head-kissing, but endured it without protest. "Well.. you did." To Beatrice. He had intended to ignore the red head, but hadn't possessed the willpower. His gaze returned to said cousin. "For one, Dweedle is an stuck up little bitch with way too high opinion of herself. Meanie was being perfectly friendly with her the other day, inviting her to Hogsmeade. Dweedle had the audacity to snub her like she wasn't a friendless socially-oblivious little Half-Blood nobody. Secondly, why would I care what someone who doesn't matter thinks?" He shrugged. "Nobodies.. don't.. matter. They can think what they like."

Medusa doesn't get anything less than full, immediate obedience. It doesn't matter how bruised her feelings are, Esther's priorities are pretty well coded. The chair nearby is taken, Esther failing to look Medusa in the eye while she does so. Beatrice earns a glare from the injured hairmonster, before her attention goes back to Alphard. She's easily enough volunteered, once she's heard his answer… It's swallowed with a little difficulty, but it's enough to inspire her to move off even /this/ chair.
Esther goes to the kettle again. It's still piping hot. "What does everybody want?" She asks softly.

Claiming her throne, Medusa props her feet up on the low table between the sofas and chairs. "Nothing for me, thanks Esther. And nothing for Beatrice either, she will just need to go out again." After she speaks of her cousin like an annoying pet needing to be let out into the garden Medusa smirks. "Dweedle? Which one is she? These halfies and muds get so confusing. There are just too many of them already." Which is true. The pure-bloods are outnumbered at Hogwarts but thankfully most are too busy with studies for any kind of social uprising.

Beatrice transfers her backside from chair to sofa and curls up next to Medusa, as is her right being her cousin's right hand woman. "Do you want me to do something to her? Sticking charm perhaps? We could make something stick to her back. A nice embarrassing sign that says something like, 'I wee myself.'"

"I only really noticed her this year, when she formed a part of boobster Lowe's plan to avoid being beaten up by Macmillan. She was going to pose as his girlfriend. Whatever happened to fun Muggle-bashing Lowe, anyway? Suddenly he's this blood traitor agitator. I swear someone must've put something in the water up in the Ravenclaw tower. They're acting worse than the Gryffindors these days." Alphard rolled his eyes. "Anyway. Dweedle made dear cousin here feel horrible, and she snubbed Meanie. I'd say if anything happened to her, she asked for it." Which was a clear go-ahead for Beatrice to do her best! Or worst.

Well, Esther has deserved one now. A coffee is poured for the young woman, who has no intention of sleeping from here. She would leave well enough alone, until mention is made of Myrus. At least, by association. "Myrus is coming around, dear cousin. You have my word on that." Her word. "I think a large part of his bias came from exposure to Edwards, and Eliz…. Dweedle." She forces herself to relinquish the girls first name. … Monster… "I have him in hand." She finishes. "As promised."

"Her?" Medusa shakes her head, "No wonder Morgana has a permanent migrane. I would too if I had to put up with those idiots. Imagine it, a house full of Abbotts." The very idea has her pulling a face. "Bea will handle Dweedle. You are one of us Esther and we look after our own. Andromena is one by proxy because I like her and she is dating Alphard." Although the first carries more weight, but we must not crush Alphard's already bruised ego. "Myrus Lowe has been reigned in, Alphard. I saw to that myself. Esther is overseeing any further developments. I trust things are moving along well enough in that regard, Esther?"

"I will think of something humiliating for the bitch, something which cannot get back to The Hair or Alphmena." Yes, Beatrice just used the shipping of their names.

"Alright, alright. If you say so." Since they both insisted that Myrus was under control. He took a slow sip of his cocoa, finally, having judged that it was no longer likely to burn his tongue. "That.. is not going to be a thing." This was pointedly directed at Beatrice. "Alphmena? Just.. no.""

That's not what she wanted! Esther fights the urge to cry out as plans are made to achieve some kind of vengeance. It's made easier by the realisation that there will be an answer for how Elizabeth has left her feeling… The redundancy of such a thought doesn't click. At least, not yet. She doesn't even realise it, but she's smiling a little bit. Let's see what sort of person Elizabeth is revealed to be. "Alphmena? I kind of like it, cousin. It might inspire you to take life a little less seriously." She murmurs, glad to have a change of topic to offer, wrapping her hands around a cup of hot coffee before she finds an unoccupied chair. Still troubled, but, less so.

Medusa drums her fingers on the arm of the sofa. "It sounds as ridiculous as Medlas. Honestly, where do you come up with this stuff, Beatrice? I think all that time snogging is depriving your brain of oxygen." Her fingers still briefly, "Esther, is the painting finished? I need to send it off soon."

Beatrice grins. "No Alphmena? How about Androphard?" She considers that, "It sounds like an unpleasant condition. Best not use that one." Because she is not only good for humiliating younger students but also embarrassing her cousin, Beatrice says, "I'd forgotten the Macmillans don't want you two dating. Funny how both your parents said the same thing in a letter right around the same time. What are the odds Uncle Balarius had something to do with that? Sweet little Medusa, so impressionable." She clutches her hands to her chest gathering the fabric between her breasts as she bats her lashes and tries to look innocent. "So virginal. So naive and unable to see that those nasty smelly boys only want her for one thing….to distract her from her studies."

"Don't." A warning for Esther. Their relationship wasn't quite so repaired he was going to endure that nonsense! The rest of his cocoa was finished with a sip that was all about the luxury. Mhmm. Nothing to soothe the stomach and a weary body like some hot chocolate. "Medlas?" Alphard wrinkled his nose, giving Medusa a look of sympathy. With a shrug he pushed himself to his feet. "Anyway, I'm afraid I'm going to have to desert you. My bed is calling to me. You'll have to wax about your innocence without me." He wasn't even going to say that her parents had a point! Proof of Alphard not being nearly as mean as he was portrayed!

"I meant to get the frame when I was in Hogsmeade last, but…" But she ended up in Rosie's with Myrus, lamenting the loss of her friend. "I will have to make one tomorrow, Medusa." It wouldn't do to send the raw canvas, that has been complete for some time. The conversation drifts towards topics more near to her interests, but asking more questions with Alphard present is a bad move. She pouts a little bit when he decides to shut her down so suddenly, but she maintains a playful edge. "Goodnight, Alphard. Thank you for coming down." Esther speaks. Hopefully having his most reluctant cousin serve him cocoa made it worth it.

Medusa shoves her cousin off the sofa then. "And good night Beatrice." Clearly she was not impressed with Bea's teasing. Looking smug over having claimed all the space for herself she simply moves to sit in the centre of the sofa. "Oh, by the way…let me know how much freedom you want to give Solomon over her running the bar at your party. If it were me I'd be hesitant given her love of mudbloods."

Beatrice lets out a little howl as her bottom hits the stone floor. "Fine," she mutters to Medusa as she gets to her feet. "Don't make any noise when you come to bed, bitch." With that she saunters off, head held as high as a petite girl can hold her head high."

Esther waits several long seconds after the others have gone to bed. Finally, she opens her mouth, for something other than coffee. "… Thank you for keeping my secret still, Medusa." She only hopes Elizabeth is as kind, once whatever unfolds unfolds. She sits, hands and drink gathered into her lap.

"I take it Dwippty or whatever her name is knows?" Medusa might sometimes appear as ditzy as her cousin, but she is in fact rather sharp. "Tell me what really happened. Not the sanitised version you gave Alphard." She laces her fingers together and rests them on her lap.

Fuck. Esther turns bright red when Medusa corners her like that, and she makes with the story immediately. "He… He told her when he made his mind up… I went to apologise for my part Myrus' decision to choose me… I remembered that she and Gage had become an item… And I ended up apologising for what I did to Gage." She admits it readily. The shame burns in her cheeks. "I didn't mean to. It just… Happened." She looks down, biting her lower lip nervously. "… She looked at me like I was a monster." Perhaps because they were friends, not so long ago. She doesn't cry though. There's that going for her.

"Well that was bound to happen. Myrus is a goody-goody he'll always confess given enough time." Medusa thinks things over. "I am going to assume you wanted her to like you and so laid the blame at Alphard's feet, which isn't sensible Esther. As I said earlier, you are one of us. We protect and punish our own. If it gets back to him you will have to pay the price. Frankly, any girl interested in that freakshow isn't worth your time. He likes sounding that way you know. His brother is prefectly normal. Not the least bit a freak."

Esther sighs. Medusa is, as always, one hundred percent correct. "I… I know it was ill-advised. I will mediate the damage, Medusa." She promises, although she's entirely uncertain as to how. Her coffee shifts nervously in her hands, as she works up the courage to ask a few more questions. "Can I ask you something a little more… Personal, Medusa? Relationshipwise?"

Medusa doesn't let it rest just yet. "And if she tells a prefect or a teacher it won't be Alphard who gets into trouble, Esther. It will be you as you confessed it." Now she drops it and nods. "Of course. Ask away." She is used to younger students asking her for guidance, being the Slytherin Queen isn't all about exacting revenge on behalf of her housemates.

"I will face the consequences of my actions." Esther's mouth is set in a grim line as she resolves to do just that… And she tries to move on to the next subject, swallowing her doubts and forging forward. "I wanted to… That is to say, when Myrus is of age, I was curious about the next… Stage, in our relationship." There is a blush, but it's not so bad. As cousins, they were already excessively comfortable with one another. "Do you have any advice?" Such a general question.

"I take it you don't mean, when do you tell people?" Medusa's mouth forms a thin line as she presses her lips together. "There are many things couples can do to show one another affection. It isn't about rushing or when someone is old enough to have sex. It is about when you are both comfortable with the idea; both mature enough to handle the consequences." She waves a dismissive hand, "Not just the potential for pregnancy, but the more immediate consequences. It changes things. Your relationship. Your views of yourself and him. Besides, for both sexes, losing your virginity isn't like losing your wand. You cannot accio it back. You have to both be sure it is what you want - not just in that heady moment when you are overwhelmed with sexual tension but in the quiet calmer moments too."

Esther wasn't thinking about pregnancy, she freely admits. "So… Sex could make things better. Or… worse." Esther sighs. A few moments for thought, before she asks. "… I love him, I think. He's an idiot, he's occasionally tactless, but I love him. And time comes, I'll… Once I've finished my schooling, I'd happily bear his child." Perhaps a little bit idealistic. But that's why she's discussing it here, in the firelight, with her leading source of advice and inspiration. "… Is Myrus a bad idea?"

"It is a big responsibility, having that kind of relationship. Neither of you have ever had a mature relationship before. Take things slowly. There is no need to rush into anything." Medusa has until this year, never been known to stay with any boy for longer than a few weeks and never before has her name been linked with the possiblity that she herself might not be as pure as snow. "What might feel like a forver love now may not be in the future. I am not saying expect the worst, just know that right now you are both young. You and Myrus have two and a half years left here." The blonde tilts her head, "A bad idea how? I wouldn't go for him were I younger, but you are not me. If you mean with regards to the problems with your family, well I cannot say. As Beatrice pointed out, neither Douglas' parents or mind are overly fond of the idea of us being together but we're sticking it out because we love one another."

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