(1938-12-16) Of Mice and Men
Details for Of Mice and Men
Summary: Lulu meets Douglas' young brood and persuades him to help her break a school rule. Surprisingly easy to do.
Date: 1938-12-16
Location: Owl Tower, Hogwarts

Lucretia turns the last corner of the winding stairs that lead up to the top of the tower and exhales loudly, breath frosting in the air before her. She's a neatly rolled parchment in her hand, sealed with wax and tied with ribbon. Not having an owl at school herself, she's relying on the school ones to send messages home and after a brief look around she spots a likely courier. That courier wouldn't be Douglas, though she does offer him a wave with frozen fingers. "Douglas. Hello. Are you writing home?"

Douglas looks up from where he squats over in the tower, one barn owlet on his shoulder, another on his fist, and a dopey looking one waddling around in circles on the floor in front of him. "Huh? Ah. Black," he greets. "Naw, just checking on these three. I'll see everyone next week anyway, so who needs to write, eh?" A pause. "You got a mouse there? Hold it out, and I'll get Horace to go to you."

"Actually, yes I do," Lulu says, tugging a slightly battered box from the inside pocket of her robes. "I don't usually come here without one, just in case none of the friendlier owls want to carry my letters." Setting the box on the ledge of one of the unoccupied arches, a tug is given the string that's been wrapped about it and she pulls it free so she can remove the lid. "Its quite a juicy one; Gaston's been marvellous at bringing them to me. This one he left in my slipper." Picking it up by its tail, she turns and hunkers low, seemingly not too worried by the owl droppings that litter the floor. "Is Horace yours?"

Douglas nods, turning a little to tell the owl on his fist, slowly and clearly, "Lucretia Black," then nudging the bird forward to go and claim the mouse from the smaller girl. "Sort of mine. I found the nest, and they hatched in September," he explains. "I've been training them up, but… well, Daphne and Gertie are lovely pets, but they haven't got the brain to be a post owl. Horace is smart, though. Give him a bit of a fuss so he knows he's done well."

Lucretia swishes the mouse enticingly, allowing it to pendulum from finger and thumb. "I like smart pets," she says, remaining quite still as Horace hop-waddles his way over the floor to her. "You must have been very pleased that three of the owlets hatched, were there more eggs in the nest?" Not an ornithologist, its a reasonable question to ask and Lu's eyes shift briefly from Horace to Douglas as she asks it, continuing on as she does. "I would have loved to bring Mortimer from home, he's a barn owl, but then again I'd have missed Gaston terribly. Mortimer's getting a bit old and featherless and father says he's got the mange. He also says he's not long for this world."

"All three," Douglas tells her, his pleasant surprise at this turn of events clear in his tone, "and all three survived, although… well, Gertie's a bit special. I'm not sure she'd have made it in the real world. Hit her head once too often, y'ken?" He reaches a finger to stroke the wobbling owl on the floor, who just falls over. "Try oily fish?" he suggests, nodding as she talks about her own owl. "It helps them when they're a bit too old. Makes it a bit easier."

Lucretia winces when Gertie topples as its not even an elegant topple; its a lurch and a thud before a shake of her head is given and she gets her feet back under her. She considers the bird a moment. "Probably she's very happy being special though, she doesn't look bothered by it at least." A smile tugs her expression as Horace claims attention back, teasing the mouse from her fingers so she lets go of it right at the point when he's a firm enough grip so it doesn't flop to the floor, but before he gets irritated at not being given it. "I'll see that Mortimer gets some fish, I'm sure we've got a whole stash of pilchards in the pantry and nobody's going to miss a can or two if they go missing." A pause. "Mind if I ask you something?"

"Sure?" comes the big Gryffindor's response, jerking his head to one side as Daphne decides she's not having enough attention paid to her and oo, doesn't Doug's ear look tasty.

Lucretia uncurls from her hunker and takes a few steps over to where Douglas sits, wrapping her cloak about herself as she slides down the wall to sit near him. "Thing is, I was wondering if I could have a try of one of your cigarettes. My mother smokes them and its just so elegant." Snagging her lower lip in over her teeth, an expectant glance is given the seventh year before she continues on, the tone of her voice rising a little, words hurrying now as if worried she won't be able to put her case completely before getting the brush-off. "I'm almost fourteen now and I expect I'll be given one to try at the family party anyway. You know, being an adult now. Almost."

Douglas half smiles, hand going to his pocket to pull out a mostly empty, very crumpled pack of six, which he offers over. "They're against school rules, you know. Don't get caught." He pulls his wand from his pocket, "You want it lit for you?"

"Oh sure. Thank you." Lulu takes one of the cigarettes, crumpled like the packet, and holds it up for Douglas to light. Apparently she's not a clue as to how one actually needs to draw on it as that's done, holding it stiffly at a ninety-degree angle to the floor. "I expect its like most things, yes? The younger you start, the better you are."

Douglas claims the fag from her fingers, tucking it between his lips so he can light it, cupping one hand around the end as he takes a few puffs to ensure the end is glowing nicely before handing it back. "Aye, pretty much," he agrees, nodding. "There's a lad hangs around outside Harkiss's on Hogsmeade weekends, sells singles for a knut each." This information, priceless information, is imparted with a solemn nod and a reverent tone. This is the true knowledge of Hogwarts students, handed down from generation to generation, after all. "Don't breathe it in, to start with," he advises.

Lucretia takes it back. "Well then I'll know where to go to get them now," she notes with a smile. "Thank you." There's a pause as she looks at the cigarette then presses it gingerly to her lips. Puff-blow-puff-blow. Its all so fast, Lu taking Douglas at his word about not inhaling, that blink and you'd probably miss it. Despite her care, there's still a small cough and a bit of a retch before she's done, eyes watering slightly as she hands it back to Douglas. "Thank you. Its very nice," she says, blinking slightly with the acrid rise of the smoke. A casual upnod in Horace's direction where the mouse has long gone. "Were you offering him to carry my mail?" Another cough.

Douglas nods his thanks as he accepts the cigarette back, taking a long draw and then leaning his head upwards to blow a smoke ring. Showing off, perhaps more than a little. "Horace? Well, it depends where your post's got to get to. He's not up for distance flying yet, and we haven't done any mapwork at all. He'll deliver in the castle, or to Hogsmeade if he knows who it's going to." He nods to the bird, offering the cigarette back over, "That's what the mouse and the fuss is for. Get him learning your name, and associating going to the right person with a treat, see?"

Lucretia considers the advice, along with the cigarette, then nods her head. Oddly, she's not quite so keen to take it back after that first try and her second puff is even quicker than the first before its passed back once more. "Oh right…" Speaking too quickly after that inhale, and with some of the smoke still lingering, Lu breathes it in, gagging a little when it hits the back of her throat. "Jumping jiminy, that really is awf— …ully good." Another cough as she correct her near mistake and her complexion pales to faintly hinted at green. "I'll uh, make sure to bring Horace more mice next time. This is going to London though. Its a piece of music I've been working on." Another breath and a rub of her nose. "I need a strong owl as its heavier than a letter."

"Try Perseus, then," Douglas suggests, giving the eagle owl in the corner a nod. "He'll be your best bet for a parcel going that far. You write music?" He considers for a moment, then shrugs. "Talk to Rashley some time. She's got a fiddle, too."

If Lu getting to her feet is anything to go by, it might be surmised that she's had enough of the cigarette smoking. "Well, you know, you don't really write music so much as compose it," she says, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. "I did hear that Rashley played the violin too, perhaps she'd like to duet with me sometime. A symphony maybe, there's so many nice ones." Her voice tails off a little as she hunts down Perseus and sends him off with the rolled up sheet music. "I suppose I should head for the dorms now, it'll be curfew soon. Thanks for letting me have a puff on your cigarette."

"Oh sure. Why not…" Lu fibs, reaching for it and pinching it inexpertly between finger and thumb. "I'll finish it on the roof before heading back." Offering Douglas a bright smile, she turns and heads out, her feet quiet, rather like herself.

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