(1938-12-16) A Kind Word and a Smoke
Details for A Kind Word and a Smoke
Summary: Esther goes to mail a letter and speak with whatever Douglas is. Jenny and Peyton arrive just in time to help Esther debate her life choices - And after Marcus comes to collect her, Esther is left alone with Jenny and Douglas to discuss her pending apology.
Date: 1938-12-16
Location: Outside the Owl Tower, Hogwarts Castle
Related: Plots, Plans and Penances - Where Jenny refers to the favour she needs.

If anyone could guess where Esther Lowe managed to get a packet of cigarettes from, they'd be clever. But it seems one habit has been picked up from Douglas, even if only slightly. The slender young woman is back in her school uniform for the last week of school for the year. She's wandering up the owl tower, unlit cigarette perched between her lips, with a letter in one hand.

Douglas is, not unusually for him, crouched over by the owls, not feeding them today but just come to see the three he's raised and trained to fuss over them. When he spots who it is, or more accurately the hair of who it is, he lets out a short whistle to indicate his presence. "Lowe. Meet me later on, would you? I picked up some… apple juice for you, but I've got it stashed right now."

Esther climbs the stairs. She's unsuprised to see Douglas up here. Of course, his instructions are… Oh, right, apple juice. "Alright, Douglas. I just have to post this." She only stays long enough to post a letter, and wander back to the stairwell. Touching her awnd-tip to her cigarette, she begins to wander back down the stairs. She's kind enough to wait until the roof to mutter the words to light it.

"And gies a fag, would you?" Douglas calls after her, switching on his best, most charming smile. Who could resist this man?
It is a fall night. The weather is cool and fair.

"Then hurry your ass up." Esther calls back at him. It's hard to tell if that's sweet, or frustrated. They have a weird relationship. Once out of the Owl Tower, she drags deeply - The weather outside is clear, the beauty of Scotland is a little hard to question when you're standing on the roof of a castle on a good day. Her exhale is slow, the smoke hovering in the still air, as the Hair relieves stress in the most portable way she knows how.

Douglas grins amiably as he moves up behind her, reaching around to just steal the cigarette from her lips and claim it for himself. "Anyway, you shouldn't be smoking. It's against school rules, you know."

Esther smirks to herself when Douglas sneaks up behind her, "Your other arm is supposed to go around my waist." She teases, once the cigarette has been liberated from her. "So you're doing me a kindness, huh? I can't count on one hand the number of school rules I've broken this week, Douglas. This one can go on the account." Her amusement fades a little, as she turns to face him. "How're you?"
They're outside the Owl Tower, smoking on the rooftop. It's midday.

Douglas puffs on the stolen cigarette, blowing a smoke ring upwards and moving to back up and sit on the edge of the walls. "Just remember not to get caught, then," he advises amiably. "I'm… aye, I'm still here. Can't complain. You all right?"

Esther watches the smoke ring. One day, she'll learn that. "… I'm going to go apologise to Alphard, tonight." She admits. "And he's going to make me suffer for it." The idea gets her back up, she's stiffened noticably. Wandering over to the wall, she sits against it beside him. "Not all doom and gloom though. Decided I'm never going home again, so that's good." Her smile is genuine, for all that it's tinged by sadness. Her cigarette is claimed back, delicate fingers bringing it to her lips. The ember glows bright for a few seconds.

The click of bootheels, the flash of honeyed gold, the squeak of mice, at least six, where they were jostled about in the small box that Solomon held in her hands, they all announced her presence even before she arrived, for those with keen ears and shifting attention. At least outside, while the scent of smoke can be caught it's not so assulting that she's started sneezing yet.

"If you're not going home," Douglas advises, frowning a touch as the fag disappears from his lips, "make sure you've got allies. Families stick together, and if you're going to throw out your family, get bloody good friends. Even I'm not stupid enough to ditch my family, even when they're being dicks."

"You and I both know I've still got one." Esther tilts her head towards Douglas, exhaling out of the corner of her mouth so she doesn't blow it in his face. A bit of a pout crosses her lips. "I've a few good friends. And whatever the hell it is we are." The cigarette is offered back at him, as she has a look of mock-realisation. "Smoking. There it is." She doesn't notice the incoming noise, or person.

"Gonna stunt your growth, Es," comes Jenny's greeting with a little upnod of her head, the same afforded to Douglas as the Chaser drew nearer. The steps have slowed, but the aim is clearly somewhere else. Chances are there'd have been no slowing at all, were it but not for Esther.

"Throwing your family out of what? This should be interesting." This from Peyton, whose approach is perhaps a bit less squeaky than Jenny's, but certainly doesn't have any measure of stealth applied to it as she changes her direction to approach the small gathering, her hair shifting in the wind until she brushes it back behind her shoulders. "What is that?" she asks Genevieve, eyes going to the box with thinly veiled suspicion.

Leggy, gorgeous honey colored Quidditch Players don't always catch her eye. Of course, it goes from being two 'whatever the hell it is they ares' to four people in just a moment. "I gave it sixteen years." She shrugs lightly. "Same story with my family, actually. If after all that time things are still going to hell, you need a new plan." Her response to Peyton is equally casual. "Although if you two are going to loiter, I hope you'll keep my secrets as same as I keep yours." The smoking? The family? Or that she's almost cuddled up to Douglas.

"It's good for your health," Douglas argues, stealing the cigarette back as soon as he can. "I'm just saying don't ditch everyone you might need later on. It's not a sound tactic." He tilts the fag upwards, blowing smoke from the corner of his mouth. Leggy quidditch players do catch his eye, at least, and he looks Jenny over.

"It's your future," Jenny replies to Peyton, "I've come to feed it to the birds." Tongue and cheek, for all that as her eyes flicker on to the pair and the conversation touches on her ears, a small nod is afforded as a response. "To the grave," the chaser replied to Esther. "But Macmillan has point, Es. Like I was trying to tell you yesterday, some of them are meant to simply be tools that you can use, you don't have to let them be something that breaks you down."

"They aren't helping me." Esther turns to Douglas, "'Sides, it's not like I'm losing everyone. Just Mother, and possibly Dad." The joys of being an only child. The wild-haired girl forces herself to smile at Jenny. "Some tools aren't meant to be used. Others use you in turn. And some just cut you, every time you attempt to grasp them. Something that I hope you don't find out soon, despite my fears, Jenny." Cigarette theft, and a drag. "Some tools should be left in the shed. Or repurposed. Or just destroyed."

"They aren't helping you now," Douglas corrects, shaking his head. "Look, not everything's a big conspiracy or a big puzzle. Not everyone's out to get you, or there to help you, or there to make life miserable. People are just people, doing what they want to do. It's not all some great plan."

There's a glimmer of respect flickering there in Jenny's eyes, when Macmillan speaks and again, Jenny simply gives an enforcing nod. "And there'll be times they don't always do what you want them to, or expect, but it doesn't mean that they're out to cut you or whatever. As for being beat, I've chosen to make a career out of being bashed, on purpose. It's possible we may have different ideas of pain." A pause, her eyes flicking towards Douglas. "You're not as bad as I thought you were."

Peyton gives Jenny a petulant sort of look. "Best fed birds for miles," she asserts. Esther's smoking and pseudo-cuddling don't even draw her attention, but the topic certainly does. "You fling from one extreme to the other, it's a wonder you've not flown over the edge yet." Or has she. "MacMillan," she greets the male counterpart to this rooftop intervention.

"Crabbe," Douglas responds, then raises a brow at Jenny. "Oh, I'm probably exactly as bad as you thought I was." He waggles his brows, flashing a grin as he reaches to claim that cigarette from Esther once more. "If I'm not, then I'm not trying hard enough."

"Not you too." Esther pulls a face at Douglas. "… Why is everyone convinced that I'm so kind of paranoid, loose cannon." Because of how she behaves. The Hair shrugs. "I'm a person too, Douglas. Making choices with reason, logic and thought behind them. Mother was content to ship me off regardless of my consent. Determined to take my wand, again. I'll not settle for that. Great plan or not."
She actually manages a gentle giggle, drawing upon the cigarette again, holding it between her fingers as she pokes Douglas' arm 'hard'. It's a weird way to offer it to him. "And you're involved with the greatest schemer of all. In many ways the cause of my misery. Is it that unreasonable to assume that there's a plan involved, every now and then?" Peyton earns a warm smile for all of her effort. "Sometimes the edge is the only place it feels safe, Peyton. If I'm not all in, I might as well not play at all." She's oversimplifying.

"I never said you weren't easy on the eyes," Jenny replies, taking a moment to enjoy the view from top to bottom and back again. She has a type, after all, he does fit it. "Just…perhaps a little deeper than I may have first assumed." She can admit when she's wrong, after all. But as for Esther, "Possibly it's because you've got this way of looking at things, Es that's always…hard and fast, which yes, in the right situation is good, but with people? Like I said, it's not always black and it's not always white."

"She's great in bed," Douglas offers simply, by way of defending his relationship with Medusa.

"So this is where you've been hiding," Marcus' voice carries to the group, as the man is making no attempt to try and hide his arrival. "I don't do waiting very well. We were supposed to meet—" He stops, shaking his head. "Nevermind. Are we meeting or not?" He asks of Peyton, and offers the rest of the group a lazy wave in greeting.

"The edge is only safe when you have a support system," Peyton rejoinders. "Colloquially known as 'family', and in your case an extended network of people who worry about you." Does Peyton fit into that category? That's for Esther to determine. "It's not like any-" And then there's Marcus calling toward her. "We'll continue this later," she promises Esther in a tone that brooks very little room for argument.
"I'm not hiding anywhere, I'm listening to Esther disown the family and Douglas tout Medusa's apparently sole charm," she tells the Fifth year, already stepping off to join him. "Besides, I'm only a little late," she adds with a coy sort of smile. "So stop complaining." This added a bit less coyly. "Shall we?"

"There's a big difference between black and white and hard and fast, Jenny." Esther defends herself. "And sometimes forcibly sorting these things makes it much easier to deal with them." And then there were five. Marcus earns a wave for turning up. Medusa and Douglas are weirdly defended as well. "The heart wants what the heart wants. If I've learned nothing else this year, it's that." Especially with the more public knowledge of her own relationship.
Peyton's effort earns her a very warm smile, calling out to her. "I'm working on a new one."

Douglas flips two fingers at Peyton at the jibe. "If I could be arsed, I'd throw you off the roof for talking shit about my girlfriend, Crabbe. If I just wanted vapid and good in bed, I'd have Nott."

Jenny shakes her head with a chuckle, glancing Pey-ways. "Aww now, give her credit. She's more than one charm." It was simply the method, that proved occasionally problematic. "Goyle." A little fingerwave in his direction, the same welcoming easy smile. "You two have fun, where ever you're off to," she added towards the pair, before settling her attention back on Esther. "None at all, Es. Some goals can't be rushed towards and won't be instant. Some things? Require time and patience, you can't get caught up in expecting instant results."

"Don't try to play games with me, Crabbe, I'm onto you," Marcus tells her, shaking his head, then pointing at his eyes and pointing at her eyes. He rolls his eyes at Douglas' comment. "Back off, MacMillan. She's busy right now," he says to the other boy, and reaches to take Peyton's arm. "Let's go," he notes to Peyton, smirking at her.

A hand is placed on Douglas' outstretched arm. Cigarette still in it. Down boy. "Calm, Douglas. They're baiting you." She notes, with a slight tinge of smile. She remembers what it feels like to try and throw someone off the castle. "Trust me, Jenny. I know it's not all about 'instant'. If you want the truth of that, you'll find me, and a private little corner of the castle." Esther allows herself to yawn, cutely, "And maybe I'll suprise you."

"You said it, not me," Peyton calls over her shoulder. "I know, I'm just sore about that last encounter," she sniffs irritably when Jenny chimes in. "Fine," she tells Marcus, letting him lead her off. "I've fulfilled my quota of being the bad guy for the day."

"Well go let Goyle rub the soreness out and we'll catch up in a little while and finish planning out our attack for his party. Maybe it'll help give us ideas for yours, in the future," teased at Pey, with a wink for Marcus, before Esther once again had her focus. "You always surprise me, Es. It's why we're friends."

Douglas half grins, claiming the cigarette back. "You really think I'd throw her off the roof? Really? I thought you knew me." He absently swings his legs, pushing himself further up on the wall. "You know my thoughts on revenge and shit like that. Not everyone's going to like everyone else. I'm okay with that."

There's a tinge of bitterness in her eyes as Jen speaks. There's no commitment to finding out. Does she have what she wants from the slender girl then? This plan… Her teeth draw upon her lower lip for a few seconds, as she forces herself to think of something else. Douglas provides a good one, and she smiles to him. "I know. But words still mean something, even when they come from /you./" Her own ribbing is of a much gentle nature.

With the faint loft of a brow, Jenny regards Esther for a moment, that darkening look one not missed. "Don't look at me like I've pulled your hair, I just said we were friends. Am I wrong?"

Douglas just nudges Esther in the side, blowing another smoke ring upwards. "Well, anyone who takes anything I say seriously needs their head examined. Just remember that sometimes people are just people. Not pawns, not part of some great plan, but just folks trying to get through their NEWTs, trying to get a job, trying to pull their girl of choice. Just normal stuff."

"We are." Esther agrees without hesitation. "I just…" A pause. Douglas is here. "… That last time someone asked that of me, I lost my best friend, and was tossed aside like nothing." She tries to frame is as esoterically as possible. "I'm allowed to be afraid that it'll happen again." Douglas brings her back easily though, stealing the last part of the cigarette. No smoke rings. "Problem is, Douglas, that if you're not playing the game with someone… And they are… Then you're nothing more'n a piece." She doesn't want to be a piece again.
If only she knew.

"You are," Jenny agrees. "And the last time I took a bludger to the face, it broke my cheekbone. But I still keep getting back on the broom. I think the assumption here is that," a glance towards Douglas and she speaks right on, "You always seem to think that he's playing a game and he's not. So every time you force some action or some slight, you get a reaction, because not everyone likes being poked. But honey, you have got to stop casting everyone to roles in your head because like Macmillan here said, some folks is just trying to live. You gotta stop trying to make 'em things they aren't. Sometimes shit really just as easy as a fuckin' apology."

"Apologise if you mean it," Douglas counters. "If you don't, and they can't get the fuck over it? Well, let 'em stew. Not your problem. You don't have to try to second guess everyone. That's the point, Solomon. If you're a mate, you'll get over it. If you're not, well, you can fuck off and nobody's any the worse off for it."

Esther pushes herself up, straightening her robes as she looks at Jenny. Is it disbelief? Or frustration. "… If what I've seen isn't a plan… If what I've seen is living 'life'?" Her voice is that lovely, mildly insane cool. "If that is what's been fostered, and will be let loose upon the world, I /should/ have thrown him off the fucking roof." She gives Douglas a nod, and then Jenny a serious look. "Anyone who wants that from life can fucking join him. You'll get your apology, Jenny." Her lower lip trembles. "I thought you were better than this. But fine. You understand him. He's your dog now. I hear he's an incredibly loyal friend." No further comments. No goodbyes. The girl stalks off.

Douglas just raises a brow at Jenny, glancing to Esther's retreating back. "Somehow I get the feeling I completely missed something somewhere." He fishes into his pocket for a mint, absently tossing it into the air and catching it in his mouth. "Is everything really such a big deal?"

"Merlin's fucking balls," Jenny rolls her eyes, with a look of absolute bafflment on her face. "I have no idea," is the response that she gives Douglas, looking just as lost. "I honestly have no idea what the fuck just happened. A conversation, which I thought was generally composed of folks discussing opinions, like we were just doing, explodes into declarations of whatever the hell that just was."

Douglas shakes his head, bemused, but offers the bag of mints from his pocket over to Jenny. "Sometimes I've got absolutely no clue what goes on in that girl's head. I mean, more than most women, and let's face it, you're all bloody impossible to understand."

"Thank you," Jenny replies, accepting one of the mints with a little bob of her head. "I'm pretty easy to understand, honestly. But you're right, I don't understand what goes on in her head. And I'm starting to think your girlfriend was right. Mind, I don't always agree with the methods, but if this is the kind of thing she's forced to deal with on a regular basis I'm beginning to understand a lot more than I did."

"At least with Gryffindors you know where you stand," Douglas notes with a wry smile. "Because they'll tell you. Loudly, sanctimoniously, and at length."

That draws a chuckle from the girl, deep and from the gut. "Oh aye. I've got family there. There's rarely any question of doubt. But this," a wave of her hand gestures towards the direction in which Esther departed, "This I don't understand. Not completely, I get pride, I have my own, but I'm big enough to admit when I've made a mistake. It might have to be plainly spelled out first, but once I can see it, I own it. Aint no sense in doing otherwise. But it's like, she's built her world on making Alphard out to be the devil, so to speak. I'm just not sure anymore she knows what to do with herself if she doesn't have someone to blame." Jenny looks back to Douglas. "And I want to help her, to see her happy. Can you remember a time when she wasn't so bent on calling Black a dog?" Particularly since Esther's moods flipped with all the unpredictability of a rabid one herself, apparently.

"She's bent on making everyone out to be a character in her play," Douglas replies, considering as he pushes himself down from the wall to stand. "But people are just people."

"They are," Jenny agreed, peeking in on the wee mice that were scritching about in the box that she still held. "But that doesn't always work and she's angling after one of my teammates," which in Jenny's mind, were quite different than friends. Yet a shake of her head dismissed the topic. "I'm going to go feed some of the school owls," she offered, holding up the box, "Would you like to help?"

Douglas shakes his head. "Just fed my three, and I need to head off. But don't give Daphne any more, aye? She'll have the lot if you don't watch out, greedy little bugger."

With a chuckle, Jenny bobs her head with a smile. "She got my fingers last week, when I tried to stop her at two. Is Rodsier still favoring his left wing, do you know? Admittedly I babied him on Wednesday because of it."

"Serve him right for picking a fight," Douglas points out, grinning faintly. "But aye, he's still a bit tender with it. Nothing long distance for a bit."

"Gotcha," Jenny replied with a crooked grin. "See ya around, Mac." On up the stairs she bounded!

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