(1938-12-04) A Tail 'Twixt Your Legs
Details for A Tail 'Twixt Your Legs
Summary: Esther approaches Alphard to discuss her 'plan' to humiliate the mudboods, as she promised - Trading another piece of her morality. Another Crabbe-Cousin, Peyton, makes her grand entrance - The conversation turns downhill quickly when pride is hurt.
Date: 1938-12-04
Location: Slytherin Common Room - Hogwarts Castle

Alphard was curled up one of the deep seated chairs facing the roaring fireplace, a blanket draped over him, and some late evening snacks set on a table next to him. A bit of cheese and crackers. The common room wasn't completely empty, but almost. Only a few stragglers hadn't slipped to bed; two playing cards in one corner, and one bent over over a book in another corner.
He wasn't reading, but rather scribbling into his personal (and very private) leather bound notebook. His script was neat, cursive, and very small. He could fill a million thoughts into a page.

Esther slips out of the dormitories - As per usual, she steals a few hours sleep and then prepares for the next day. Although when she spies Alphard, relatively alone, she decides to come down to his level. Wearing only her thin silk nightdress - That covers her to the floor, high on her chest, and to her wrists (The only place where it's loose), she slowly climbs down the stairs. The silk shifts, revealing just how frail the younger woman is - Slim, almost too thin, despite Riddle's new diet plan. She wanders up behind her cousin, quietly, her bare feet barely making a sound. It's incidental, though, as she makes him aware of her presence quietly. "What're you writing?" She inquires. It's one of the rare occasions anyone sees her nightclothes. She's normally in the baths momentarily.

Immediately the notebook snapped shut, with Alphard's head coming around with predatory speed. He squinted at her, dark eyes rich with suspicion. "Were you spying on me?" The thoughts he had been writing just prior had been about Viridian: 'I know he wants to fail me, though he can't. I'm too good at the subject. But he'll still do everything in his power to deny me an O. I might have to come up with a way to discredit the filthy mudblood.' "Nothing. Just some idle thoughts." He put the notebook away.
"You wanted to talk."

"I did." Esther murmurs, her expression unreadable. One fine-boned hand grasps the back of his chair, as she slowly walks around it. Her bountiful hair framing her delicate face. "You seem awfully protective of them, dear cousin. Could I interest you in a drink first? I've many topics to choose from, dependant on your patience." Sweet. Strangely. The last week she's been trying /very/ hard to get into his good books.

"Writing them down helps me organize my thoughts. It doesn't mean I want people prying through them. There's a reason legilimens requires you to be registered.. nobody likes their minds invaded." Since Alphard had yet to go to bed, he was still in his uniform. It looked as pristine as if he had just put it on, rather than endured a day's wear. His eyes followed her on the path around his chair, head turning, unblinking. Reflected flames played in the dark depths.
"Sure, why not? Some tea, I should think." He wasn't a great fan of coffee. "And I suppose you've my patience until you wear it out, or I feel like going to bed."

"They would say that an innocent man has nothing to hide." Esther counters, although her seriousness breaks with a kind smile. "But I'd not hold that against you. There's much and more I would do to keep my thoughts private. Step one; Never writing them down." Step two would be never telling anyone. But her friends are her sanity, and there's nothing she wouldn't keep from them. She busies herself making two cups of tea, and returns a few moments later. "Although accidents happen. Veritaserum, for example." She sits, after offering Alphard a cup. "I would like your opinion on… The second task I am to complete. I have an idea, but it would benefit from your help, in execution… But I feel that it might yet put a smile on your face."

"Nobody is innocent, and only a fool thinks differently," Alphard scoffed, though it came with sort of smile of his own. "And like I said, they help me organize.. and reflect." Though admittedly half of the pages weren't much dedicated to either, so much as a lot of doodles.. of the sort one might expect from a teenage boy with an active imagination. Ahem.
"Let's hear what you have in mind, then?"

While she was making the tea he would have instructed: "A spoon of sugar, a dollop of cream and if there's some honey.. stirr a spoon of that in, too." Then he took the cup of tea when it was offered, peering into it for a second, then sniffing it.

Esther tilts her head. "That doesn't change that there are varying levels of guilt, though." She has followed the instructions to the word, although hers is black and strong. "It's not poisoned, Alphard." She gestures with the cup. "I wouldn't take such a crass route." Her tone flatlines for the comment.
"So. My idea. I thought that.. In light of your recent comment, perhaps an unfounded fear is the most effective. I would suggest targetting a mudblood… And planting the seeds of a fear that might spread." She's feeding him tiny bites of her idea, to try get him excited.

"And you still think I'm guiltier than most," Alphard murmured with a smile that was all bent sardonic mirth. Not that he seemed to mind terribly. He yawned and shrugged. "I was just waiting for it to cool a bit. You'd have to be pretty stupid to poison me here. Sure you're abit crazy, but not quite Azkaban crazy, eh?" With a quiet little snort, he took his first sip.
"Hmm…" sip, "mhmm." With a gesture of his cup, he indicated for her to contnue.
Alphard and Esther were by the fireplace. It was late, with only a few stragglers left in the Common Room who hadn't yet gone to bed. Esther was in her night gown, while Alphard was curled up in a chair, blanket over him, still in his uniform. They were conversing rather quietly.

Still in her own uniform, Peyton swept into the Common Room with a determined look, one that was two parts focused and one part guilty, as if she wasn't quite up to no good, but one shouldn't discount the possibility. Flipping her hair over her shoulder, she dropped to her knees beside a sofa and peered under it. After a moment in which her searching came up null, she sat abruptly upward again, looking up at Alphard and Esther with bright blue eyes full of willful impatience.
"Well don't just sit there, help me look," she entreated. "Or we'll all be in trouble, really." And with that, she shifted toward another couch, peering under that one as well.

"You are." Esther answers simply. Her gaze is level, her tone completely honest. "So. I thought the best way is to create an atmosphere of;" Her conversation is distracted by Peyton, as she sweeps into the common room and begins to interfere with the couches. "… I have no idea what you're looking for." She admits, giving her cousin a strange glance. What the hell has just happened in here.

Alphard shrugged again, entirely unconcerned by the judgement leveled against his innocence. Or lack of it. He continued to sip from his cup, even as Peyton made her arrival. With a small furrow to his brow he watched his other cousin as she went about her odd little search.
"And even if I did, you wouldn't find me crawling on my hands and knees all over the place searching with you. But I'd be happy to help suggest new places for you to stick your nose into. Someone always has to lead the effort, no?" There was a playful tease to his voice.

Peyton rather irreverently tossed a stray sock in Alphard's direction when he started up the teasing. "Suit yourself," she said with a petulantly ominous tone. "But you've been warned." She paused her search to look between the pair. "What are the two of you politicking about anyway? Or rather, which of you is conning the other, this time." Dusting off her hands and muttering piteously about a distinct lack of chivalry these days, she waited expectantly for an answer from either party. "A thing," she told Esther vaguely. "I lost a thing, and there will be shrieking come morning if it isn't found, but I suppose it's bound to come out sooner or later."

"Now, now, don't be mean." Esther chides her cousin. The lanky male one. Although the female one deserves the same, for insinuating that she would con anyone. The one scrabbling around on the floor is given a gentle nudge with a bare foot when she gets too close to her, and she murmurs. "If you had bothered to practice your summoning charms, you might not be in this silly position." She offers the lecture politely, but while looking a little bit… Unhappy with how Peyton is presenting herself. "Why don't you explain precisely what it is, and then see if there's a reason to find it?" She speaks with the caution of someone sent on dozens of useless errands.
She's not normally this cold, is she? It must be being so close to Alphard.

Alphard dodged the sock like the archtypical Beater he was. If he could outmanouver Bludgers, he could outmanouver stupid socks coming his way! His eyes sparkled with wry humor. He didn't even spill his tea. Esther's attempt at chiding was dodged just as neatly. As if he cared! "You'll have to throw me a suit, first. And obviously Esther is the one trying to con me. I'm sure she has a master plan in the working." His voice was still teasing.
"A thing, is it? My how specific we are. Well, my damsel in distress. I suppose if you were to tell me what it is, I'll wave my wand and bring it forth."

Eyes cut toward the bare foot, and for a moment it looks as if Esther might be in jeopardy of losing it. "If a summoning charm would work," she said ever so sweetly, "I would hardly be looking for it under the duvet, now would I?" Still perched on her knees there on the floor, she looks perfectly content to be presenting herself as she is, and doesn't even shift from said position once it comes apparent that the object of her desires is not to be found here. "If I recall correctly, you look quite dashing in a suit," she mentioned to Alphard consideringly. "But I haven't one on me." She ran a hand through her honied hair, then looked to Esther again. "Master plans are good, just what are you up to?" she asked, now with a modicum of real interest.
"A thing!" she insisted to Alphard. "But never mind now, I'm bored of it, and really she had it coming anyway. If I tell you, you'll just be mad anyway," she added, glancing askance at her male cousin, now with a hint of dark humor in her bright blue eyes.

Esther frowns. "Yes. A /master/ plan." The sarcasm practically drips from her voice. "If we go through the list of things about your 'Thing', dear cousin, it boils down to an incredibly careless mind that caused it to be lost." Withouth the same 'commitment' she had to Alphard, over the years Peyton earned the kind of casual disregard that Esther saved for few people. She turns her attention back to Alphard, speaking to him now. "I realised that it would be wholly effective to convince someone the /castle/ was out for them. As if Hogwarts didn't want them here. And I came up with the perfect way to do it."

"My, my, Peyton, it must just be your short term memory that is afflicted, because you're quite right. A suit, some nice robes, and let's not forget the hat. Accessories are what turns a semi-respectable outfit into pure class." Like the upperclass snob that Alphard was, he was very aware that clothes did infact matter! It helped seperate those with class from those without. "What a pity, though. Here I thought I was at least due a Christmas present."
Half his tea remained, but he had.. grown as bored of it as Peyton had of her imaginary lost item of drama. He set the cup aside, then put a finger to his mouth. "Shhh. Master plan." He told Peyton, then turned to listen to Esther. "Mhm.. Very well, and how do you plan on convincing them that?"

"Stop being a brat, Esther, it's unbecoming," Peyton chided idly, having grown used to Esther's perceived fits of pique over the years. "I didn't lose it, it's wandered off; use your imagination - you're supposed to be one of the creative ones." She considered Alphard again. "It isn't Chistmas yet, you never know," she pointed out, rising smoothly to her full if somewhat insubstantial height; only to settle herself on a chair near the fire as well, robes swirled about herself as regally as any gown, if not nearly as high-fashion. "There might be accessories in your future yet."
Sliding her wand into the sleeve of said robes after interrupting the current lumos spell, she added, "And don't shush me, I have as much a right to hear her master plan as you," she said, still amused. "I'm also much less likely to ruin it." She settles back then to listen to Esther, apparently all of attention now.

Esther pauses in her story, to enjoy a sip of her tea. She turns back towards Peyton, and adds. "If it's a spider, than you're going to have an army full of petrified first years down here come morning. It actually might be a good idea to get your opinion though. Perhaps even your assistance." It's an unusual thought, to request assistance. "Convincing is the fun part." She says, a small smile coming to her lips. She should know better than to blend fun with cruelty. The first time, she was crying as she cast. This time… She knew she'd be enjoying herself. "We use Hogwarts against them. Either bewitch, or wear, the suits of armor flanking a narrow corridor. We then peform… Whatever kind of magical or non magical mischief we would otherwise see fit. The real kicker, though…" Esther slides her wand out of her sleeve with a delicate little flourish of the wrist, the whippy elder pointed at her throat. "Magic belongsss to those as are /fit/ for it!" She intones. Her mimicry dark, sinister, and full of malevolent promise… "… We take what makes them feel safe." The armor. "What makes this place familiar." The voices of their founders. "And we use it against them."
Her wand isn't lowered from her throat. "Those who are not proud to be Wizards, ought not to be at all." Prouder. Much prouder.

"I don't really think you're in any position to lecture on being a brat, Peyton," Alphard murmured wryly. He rolled his eyes when she informed him that she had as much right, too. "No, you don't. But by all means. I wouldn't want you not to feel included, dear cousin."
So he listened as Esther explained her idea. "It does sound like it could be fun. Though you'd have to be careful that you only struck when the faculty were far away. You really wouldn't want to be stuck inside of a suit of armor when Viridian comes a-knocking. "And you'd have to pick your targets. Someone impressionable and skitterish, rather than likely to put up a fight."

All wide-eyed innocence, Peyton half-shrugged a shoulder at Alphard. "I've no idea what you mean," she claimed idly. "And it pains me to be so maligned, really. I'm hurt. Just here" She touches her fingertips to her heart, but her heart isn't really in the ruse. Instead, she told Esther, "It's got the workings of a good plan, I'm personally inclined to think anyone afraid of enchanted armor doesn't really belong here anyway, so you've got my support there. But I'm certainly not going to go about wearing the dusty old relics myself, mayhaps we can recruit some taller sorts to your cause? Chivalry is well and alive in some of the boys," here she cut a withering look toward Alphard that was at least a touch on the playful side. "If you're willing to broaden the participation, anyway," she continues toward their wild-haired companion.

"I can find the right targets. Someone who will feel this as it's meant to be felt, and spread the word far and wide." Esther… She's excited. The same light, the same spark as when she'd piped up about her age, earlier. "I can put this together, Alphard. But I want your help. I can… Act the part." She pauses. "You are the part." Is that an insult, or a compliment? Peyton earns the slightest of raised eyebrows, "I'd rather avoid involving other people in this. My… Participation in this folly is not public knowledge. But if you'd like to be involved, I can have a set cleaned for you. Or you could resort to your spellwork, and just make them move about." "
In her head, it's all slowly becoming true. Magic belongs to those who embrace it. Witches, and Wizards only. "Is your interest piqued sufficiently?" To Alphard.

"My heart bleeds for you, Peyton."
"Ah.. sadly I can't actually execute it with you. Not that I wouldn't want to send some mudbloods scurrying off in absolute terror.." Alphard sounded vaguely wistful about it, infact. "But until things settle with Edwards, I have to be on my best behavior. Every little fool with filthy mudblood sympathy is presently looking for any oppertunity to pay me back for my little scheme. I'll make a vague guess and say they'll pin this on me, too. On the other hand, that should allow you some extra leeway. With eyes on me, who would look at you? The innocent little Hair that nobody fears. I'm not saying I can't assist you in small ways.. but more than that you'll have to do without. Personally I think you should listen to Peyton. Expand. Say.. Oberon Lestrange.. or that Gryffindor kid. Angelus Eibon. He's Magijugend. Infact, having a Gryffindor in on it would help you in a lot of ways."

"Don't get me wrong. You don't want too many involved. In matters like this, a small circle is always best. But one more..?" Alphard added with a shrug.

Waving a hand delicately, Peyton demures. "Please, don't go cleaning things on my account. As I said, I wouldn't be caught dead inside, but making things clank isn't exactly advanced magic; I can help if you like, though if you keep up the condescending tone I may lose patience with you entirely for a bit," she pointed out. "A good idea is only as fun as you make it and you know how I hate being patronized." Or maybe Esther didn't know before, but she might now.
"Look at you," she teased Alphard. "Being the good little viper. I do promise to waft any suspicion your way, you're clever enough to dodge socks and accusations, especially if you aren't really involved," she reasoned. "Too bad; I do love a good knight in shining armor. Though you - and the armor - are probably lacking a bit of the shine."

"The promise in this;" Esther explains patiently. "Is that I remain relatively anonymous." The important thing. She doesn't want to be known for this. It's a means unto an end, as long as she can comprtmentalise. Alphard's words earn a swift response. "If you think it best, I wll consider it. As for the things with Edwards, I would be careful; Between how that unfolded and this new policy of avoidance, people might well say you're scared, dear cousin. A snake with his tail between his sadly nonexisting legs." The sniping comment comes snapping at the heels of calling her 'Hair'.

"They'll perhaps say that," Alphard admitted, his voice mild while his eyes had suddenly gone harsh and cruel. Fury brewing in their dark depths. "And perhaps they'll even convince themselves its true." With a slow motion he uncurled from the chair, blanket falling to the floor as he stretched out to his full imposing height. "And they would be bloody fools. Just like Edwards. Just like you were, little cousin. Just like you are being, right.. fucking.. now. Do you think you can play me?" He asked her as he stepped towards her, still smiling his cool and cruel smile. "You're not nearly as smart as you think. Don't push me."

Oh, look at the time." Peyton rose from her chair with a molten fluidity, apparently unwilling to be witness to the impending domestic violence. "Get in touch with the details if you're really going to pull this off," she tells Esther, moving past the pair. "Also, very clever baiting, I was entirely sure that wasn't going to work," she added, speaking of Alphard, rather than directly to him. "Good evening." And with that final salutation to them both, she moves to head toward the dormitory.

"Whatever. Good night, Esther." Alphard sneered. Peyton for her unhelpful comment just got a cool look, too. Then he was gone, heading for bed.

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