(1938-12-09) Black, with Cream and Sugar
Details for Black, with Cream and Sugar
Summary: Lucretia ends up witnessing an argument between Esther and Alphard - Esther seems blissfully unaware that within a month, she will be alone, defenseless and in Alphard's care.
Date: 1938-12-09
Location: Slytherin Common Room - Hogwarts

Its another sleepless night for Lucretia. Dawn has just broken somewhere out beyond the thick stone walls of the castle, but here inside its still relatively dim and dark. The room's lit by the glow of the burned low fire and it might just be possible to distinguish a small, dark-haired figure curled in one of the large armchairs set before it. Legs drawn up so she's sitting indian style, the looseness of overly long dressing gown sleeves are rolled up to her elbows as she works on the violin cradled in her lap. Deep in concentration, she works on the tuning of her instrument, twisting the tuning pegs whilst testing the tone with the pad of her thumb. Its soft, the girl being unusually considerate of people that sleep in the dormitories beyond.

Esther hasn't spent the night out in the common room - Instead, she's opted for a night in the dormitories with the rest of the girls. Lucretia might have heard her sometime around 3am, slipping out to go bathe for the coming day… But she doesn't emerge from the room until dawn, in her pristine uniform with her hair a complete, beautiful mess. She doesn't announce her presence, as she approaches Lucretia - Walking around behind the girl she yawns cutely, silently, and taps the kettle with her wand. Esther want coffee.

Alphard could snooze on the weekends. Without classes to occupy him, and unless there was some club activity that absolutely demanded his attention, he had been known to stay in bed until way past noon. Not so today. For whatever reason the boy trudged out of the boy's dorms with a look of grumpy exhaustion, dragging his feet and chewing on his knuckle to prevent from swallowing the world with his yawns. He was still in his pyjamas. Without a word or a look to anyone, he made it straight to the armchairs infront of the fireplace, dumping bonelessly into the one next to Lucretia. He curled up.

Lucretia's head pops up, her concentration broken when, seemingly out of nowhere, Alphard arrives and drops into the seat beside her. "Oh. Hello. Didn't wake you did I? I thought it usually takes a herd of elephants or an irate professor to drag you from your bed." Her tone is bright, as are the eyes with which she regards her cousin, the violin shifted so she's more or less hugging it bodily into her. She's just about to say something further to him when movement behind her chair has her twisting her head around the edge to look towards where Esther stands. She offers her a smile. "Esther. Good morning. I beat you up today." There's a bit of a tease that ripples beneath those words, the young Black apparently quite happy to ruffle a feather or two.

"You look dreadful, cousin." Esther teases. "Marcus has been snoring again, hasn't he?" The fifth year had earned a giggle from her just a few days previous for the same crime. Albeit then, it was in the chair Alphard's decided to make home. She's not asking anyone what they want, she's just laying out cups. Tea. Cream. A lump of sugar. Stir. Tap one, two, three. Cocoa. Sugar. Cream. Tap one, two, three. Coffee. Sugar. Cream. One, two, three. The cocoa and tea are taken and saucers, offered to their respective parties. "It seems to be a Black Morning." She teases. "Lulu, Alphard."
Her words are rewarded with a gentle smirk, and a rattle of hot cocoa. "I'm never beaten." A directed look at her cousin, but it's almost playful. Almost. "Although I will admit, it was unusual to hear someone else get up to burn the midnight oil. I'm sorry I didn't feel more sociable."

Alphard's head rolled a little towards Lucretia, so he could peer at her with his sleepyfied eyes. He sighed. A bottomless sigh that soulfully poured out just how dreadful it was to be awake in the early mornings of a Sunday. "I hate mornings," he declared. "But.." and he frowned at Esther. "Someone was snoring. Like a bloody monster. Stinking up the place, too. I can't wait to be done with Hogswarts and finally have my own room again." He yawned again.
Alphard accepted the tea, then took a slow sip. It was to his satisfaction. Which was shown by the fact that he didn't wrinkle his nose and shove it back at Esther.

Lulu takes the offered cocoa and, making sure not to put her violin in the path of any spills or drips, wraps her hands around the warm exterior. "Crikey. You remembered. Thank you." Eyes flick between Esther and Alphard and she allows another smile to melt across her expression, her nose crinkling as it does. "Who snores? I think I'm terribly glad that we don't have to share our dormitory with any boys." When Alphard says about having his own room, she does frown just the wee bit, her lower lip jutting forward. "But don't you just love it here at school? I can't bear to think of you being gone!"

"Alphard;" Esther returns with her own coffee a moment later, and sits in an armchair opposite. "I know it might seem counter-intuitive, but if you slept less you would actually feel better about the mornings. As far as Marcus' and his snoring, if it was him… Well, I'm afraid short of a muzzle of a silencing charm, you'll have a lot of trouble with him." She sips carefully, and muses. "I wonder if you could put that past Zayn as an acceptable use of magic?"

Alphard rolled his eyes at Lucretia and the bottom lip she was deterined to draw attention to. "Oh shove it. I've got a year and a half left!" Which was just an agony. "Hogwarts is a means to an end. Filled with pathetic mudbloods, half-bloods and blood traitors. I'm meant for much more than having to watch what I say or do!" In his mind he was always having to play nice. It was dreadful. Though perhaps his numerous victims over the years might've had a difference of opinion of just how good at self-censorsihp he really was.
"Bah. Who ever cares about Zayn? He's just too nice. So what're you doing up, Lulu?"
It was Lucian one had to worry about. The bastard!

"Bernard," Lucretia says, holding her cocoa off to one side so that with her free hand she can tug her violin back into view. Yes. It has a name. "He'd slipped out of tune and the bow needed waxing too." Her voice has a warmth to it that's not always there when talking about subjects she's no interest in and she handles the instrument with a degree of care that's close to reverent. Laying it cross-wise on her lap she slouches back into the comfort of squashy upholstery, a small blow given the surface of her drink. "I got invited to a New Year's Party too. Not sure that I'll go though, I've not quite made my mind up about the person asking yet. At least he's not a mudblood, though."

"Unless you live in a different world, Alphard, then this is the stage where you also learn the social ettiquette that helps you survive the wizarding world." A slow little smile creeps across her face. The hook is baited, cast and left to sit in the water. "No-one gets to spend life doing as they please. It's a direct route to an early grave, a lengthy stay in Azkaban or a miserable, lonely life." A pause, and a sip of her coffee. She listens to Lulu, while trying to phrase how to finish her argument. "Some days, dear cousin, the difference between 'Dear cousin' and 'You bastard' makes all the difference." She rests back in her chair, recalling their more emotionally charged encounter on the roof. A cool fire stokes the smoke, that billows in her eyes.

"I find it vaguely adorable that you've named your violin," Alphard said with a smalls hake of his head. "And that it's a he. Does he enjoy it when you run your hands all over him? Well, let's have a tune, then. If he feels up for it." This time his yawn was less massive than the world-devouring black holes he'd produced before. He sniffed, and took another sip from his tea. "Who invited you? And aren't you a bit young to be going to New Year's parties?" It wasn't said mockingly, so much as with vague older cousin concern.
"Esther, everytime you open your mouth of late you make me wonder just what an idiot you are. Out in the real world, you're not infact at the mercy of prefects or professors who tell you what to do. You don't infact have to simply stand there and accept whatever capricious judgements are rendered. And social etiquette? Please. Out there I can simply choose not to run shoulders with lessers. Any interaction is my own choice, rather than forced on me."

Lucretia's not so indifferent that she can't spot the tension between the older pair. Balancing her mug on the arm of her chair, she uncurls in one fluid movement, dressing gown falling into place to swish about her ankles as she carries Bernard over to the table and slips him safely back into his velvet-lined case. Which neatly answers Alphard's request for a performance. Fastenings shut with a definite *snap* she turns back to her cousin, warm brown eyes locking with his a moment. "That's just awful. I think you just put me off forever from playing him in front of you. As for doing so now, I'm not awake enough yet," she explains. Not to mention it'd wake half the Slytherin students to do so, she lifts her shoulders to the whole New Year's Eve party. "Angelus invited the whole family, but I'm sure mother and father will have plans of their own already." And she falls quiet there, not least because Alphard then goes on to poke back at Esther, which is an argument she's happy to stay out of. For now.

"As long as they choose to rub shoulders with you." Esther answers simply. "And you can section off as much of the world as you want, dear cousin. Be a sad little king in a sadder little kingdom." A pause. "I /want/ to help you." Her gaze is frank, over her coffee. "Because here, we're blood. Here, rules are enforced whether or not we care for them. Here, we have safeties, to keep us from making mistakes." The bright red light passes through her memories. Mistakes. "Here, we can rebuild the bridges that were burnt. As slaves to our desires, dear cousin, we never would have spoken again." A pause. "As slaves to our desires, one of us would have come to harm by now."
Oh yes, there's tension between Alphard and Esther. She takes a slow mouthful of her coffee. "We aren't better than them because of Magic. We're better than them because we come from a place of wisdom. Not fear, not anger." Muggles. An apologetic glance is given to Lulu. She shouldn't have to witness this debate. "… Fear would have taken my cousin from me. Wisdom made him a cup of tea."

"What a shame," came Alphard's sly tease as Lucretia put her violin away. In a more companionable tone he admitted that: "Eibon's a good kid, right thinking. A pity that he's a Gryffindor, but he doesnt exibit the worst trait of that House. Nothing gets more on my nerves than a self righteous Gryffindor lecturing you about.. whatever. Pretty decent at Quidditch, too." Which was one of the more important qualities a student could have. Quidditch mattered! "I swear he netted them half their points in the game."
"You really do have a few screws loose, don't you? Esther: It wasn't this bloody school that did any of that. It was the fact that, like it or not, you're blood. My family, which you are and will be forever. Merlin knows I've cursed this fact more than once over the last few months, but we all have to deal with realities." With a grunt he pushed himself to his feet. "I even have a few fond memories of you, back when you were a wee little Hair." He showed with his palm about thigh height. "That's what matters. Anyway, I'm going to try some more sleep."

Lu hovers uncertainly on the fringe of the debate, but only in the metaphorical sense. Returning to her chair, she reclaims her cocoa just as Alphard stands up to leave, and seizing her moment she tips her chin and looks him square in the face. "Alphard, do you think you might go with me into Hogsmead when you wake back up again? I mean -properly- wake up?" There's a small, almost alarmingly disarming smile given her older cousin. Its worked in the past.

"When you crippled Myrus, you lost that right." Esther answers, her voice suddenly cold. "When you held my family to ransom, any protection that our blood offered was null and void. Now that my cousin is safe, blood sustains us…" She inclines her head to her cousin, a sign of respect. "But you underestimated me. You stayed your hand. You hesitated. And were it not for 'the bloody school', Alphard, I would have used it without a moment's pause or a shred of guilt." Her gaze lifts, eyes locked with him. "If everyone thought like you, you would be safe. Happy. But you make enemies, Alphard, oft faster than you can make friends. And listening to you, continuing to underestimate me is getting old. Fast. We are blood. I will never lift my wand against you while that remains true. But respect is a two-way street, dear cousin, and time's coming fast that I'll take what's not given." It's the promise she'd made before, held up against the stone wall, wand at ready. Only now it's said peacefully, sitting.

There were a lot of things he would rather do than have a third year on his tail through Hogsmead. Instinct put a 'no' on his tongue, but apparently even Alphard wasn't completely immune to hopeful wee ones. He sighed in defeat. "Oh, fine.. Sure. I'll go with you. Just le me have a few hours of sleep." He was going to use a silencing charm if that was what it took.
A sneer appeared on his lips when Esther talked. "You're an idiot, Esther. I don't understimate you at all. If anything I give you too much bloody credit. What on earth have you ever done that's worth respecting? Even your one crowning glory, you didn't even dare own yourself. You passed it on to me. Please. Get over yourself. Who are you really trying to convince?" With a contemptious snort, he left for his dorms.

Lucretia must have the skin of a rhinocerous, because she doesn't appear to pick up on that sigh at all. Or if she does, she pretends not to notice. "Thank you!" Her smile is genuine, a difficult thing to achieve given the other conversation that runs alongside her own. Having achieved what she'd hoped for, she watches Alphard's retreating figure until he's left the room completely then turns to look at Esther, poking the wasp's nest with a stick. "So you don't like my cousin? What happened between the two of you?"

Esther murmurs under her breath, a sly smile crossing her face. "Give it time, dear cousin. Give it time." A sip for her coffee, as she stretches alittle on the armchair. "Nothing to worry about, Lulu. Alphard and I have never seen eye to eye."

"That must be awful for you," Lulu says, drawing her feet up under her so toes can dig into the cushions. A tentative taste is made of her cocoa to test its temperature before she takes a large sip of it, allowing the chocolate to warm her mouth before swallowing it down. "I think that Alphard is wonderful, or at least he is to me. He's taking me to Hogsmead, did you hear?" Apparently her older cousin is a bit of an heroic figure for the younger Black, and its perhaps a case of innocent until proven guilty so far as she's concerned.

"It has drawbacks for both of us." Esther states simply, perhaps a little defensive about what she gives away to Lulu. "I did. Perhaps I might see you there. Alphard is… An uncut diamond, Lulu. Something wonderful, brilliant, and so valuable. But the rough parts, the pieces that are worthless, that which mars the stone underneath… It needs to be cut." She smiles to Lulu, and finishes her coffee. "It may be hard to believe, based on that conversation… But I do worry for his future."

"You sounded like you'd happily kill him," Lulu reflects, taking another mouthful of her cocoa. "So you can't be -that- worried or you'd not want to harm him. Would you really do something were it not for you sharing the same blood?" Despite the seriousness of the conversation, the third year seems quite content to be discussing the tension between her cousin and girl opposite, the whole whys and wherefores of their antipathy towards each other completely having passed her by. Heck, she's a third year. Nobody ever tells her anything anyway!

"After what he did to Myrus…" Esther contemplates… She catches herself, before she can think too far on it. "… It does not matter. Myrus is safe now, and Alphard is my blood once more." The cup and saucer are put down. "So no harm needs come to anyone."

"I don't know what he did to Myrus." There's a small mien of a scowl that flirts briefly with Lu's expression, but she hides it quickly with a lift of one hand to rub the end of her nose. "But, you know, probably I shouldn't want to know because I'm happy with the way that I feel about Alphard. He's very clever and very loyal. At least to our family. And family comes first, or does for me."

Esther nods. "Your family comes first. Then your house." Esther notes. "It changes nothing for you, Lulu. I'm still happy to listen, if you need an ear." Alphard will cost 'her' nothing. "Or to get anything off your chest."

"I'm sure I might need an ear at some time or other," Lulu says, tilting her mug to drain her cocoa. "But I think for now I shall go get dressed and then find somewhere quiet to practice my music." A pause. "Maybe you would like to come with Alphard and me when we go to Hogsmead later?" Without much thought, she generously extends Alphard's reluctant agreement to accompany her to Esther. "I'm sure Alphard won't mind."

"I think I might." Esther needs more time to get under his skin, and plan. The woman smiles, unable to fathom how Lucretia saw through to the truth so easily. Happily, kill him.

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