(1938-12-18) Great Advice
Details for (1938-12-18) Great Advice
Summary: Marcus gives Niles some (not so) great advice. Lucinda shows up right at the end!
Date: 1938-12-18
Location: Slytherin Common Room

He should be studying, and to his credit, he's been doing a lot of that lately. Half the year is gone now. And well, the era of slacking off, or getting by on some girl's homework is coming to an end. Soon, the classes will get tougher, and Marcus must be ready. Or something like that. Right now, though? Holiday break is almost here, so, Marcus lies on one of the couches, his legs lazily hanging off the edge of the couch, hands behind his head as he rests and stares at the ceiling.

Niles enters the common room with his face buried in a sheet of parchment. He's scowling at it, not happy with whatever's written on it at all. Crossing the common room, he makes for the couch he thinks is free, and is about to sit down when he spots Marcus lying there. "Oh!" he says, leaping back in surprise. "Sorry. Er, are we allowed to have whole couches to ourselves then?" he inquires politely.

"Are we allowed? Who knows," Marcus replies, with a smirk on his lips. He shrugs. "But if the couch is there by itself, for the taking, isn't it right to well, take it?" He presents the question to Niles. With another shrug, he drops his legs so he sits a bit straighter and making room on the couch. "So, what's the about?" He nods to the parchment.

"Yes, yes," Niles says, quick to agree. "Yes, of course it is. It's definitely not wrong." He gives a nervous little laugh, obviously uncomfortable around the older student. In fact, when Marcus makes room for him to sit, his eyes widen and he looks between his Housemate and the couch as if to make absolutely sure he's allowed to sit. "Oh, this? Well, it's just that… Professor Slughorn gave me awful marks on this essay. Do you really think it should be this low?" He offers the essay to Marcus, and it absolutely got the low grade it deserved.

"Go ahead, sit," he offers to the boy encouragingly. "I'm in a good mood. I promise I won't turn you into chocolate frog or something," Marcus says, his tone a bit dubious. There's a single chuckle as he actually takes the parchment and goes through it. "Hmm… Aha… yeah… I see… Mhm…" He nods a couple of times and passes the parchment back to Niles. "Totally unfair, I'd have to say."

Niles hesitates. "Er, right," he says a moment later, and he sits down. "Is that something you do often?" he then asks. "Turning people into frogs, I mean?" He watches with bated breath as Marcus reads his essay, and then takes it back with a satisfied nod. "Thank you," he says as he rolls it up and tucks it away into one of the pockets in his robes. "I knew I was right. I think he's got it in for me. He told me if I don't start pulling my weight in class it's detention. What does that even mean?"

"All the time, really. In particular when someone annoys me," Marcus nods seriously at this. "But you don't seem like you're going to annoy me," he rubs his chin as he studies the kid. "Are you going to annoy me?" He flashes a grin at Niles though and then considers. "It means he's got it in for you, I think you're right. But this is a good thing. Professor Slughorn likes challenging students. Otherwise he gets bored. My suggestion? Don't give in. Don't blindly follow his instructions. Fight back, and fight back good." He remains serious as he says all this. "If he calls you out on something? Do it again the next day, but commit even more to it."

Niles shakes his head quickly, and shifts on the couch so that he's wedged into the corner between the arm and the back in case proximity alone annoys him. "No, sir," he says. "Definitely not." But when Marcus grins at him, he blinks and gives him a timid smile in return. "It's a good thing? Do you really think so? Er, fight back?" He doesn't sound as if he has much fight in him at all. "How do you mean? As in redo this essay? Or just try harder on the next one? Or something else?"

"Good man," Marcus says to Niles as he responds. The conversation turning back to Slughorn, he grows serious and nods. "Oh, it's definitely a good thing," he assures the boy. But then as Niles doesn't seem to catch what he means, he shakes his head. "Forget the essay. That's done. Gone," he snaps his fingers. "Just like that, not important anymore. No, what matters is what you do now. Show Professor Slughorn you care. If he thinks you're not pulling your weight? Then certainly don't pull your weight. Instead, get someone else to do it for you." He sounds like this is the best plan ever. "Be cunning. Be sneaky. And most important, embrace it."

"Right, a good thing," Niles says, trying to convince himself that it's true even as he struggles to understand how it could be. He listens to Marcus with rapt attention as the older student explains what to do, but his mouth drops open at the suggestion. "Er, do you mean have someone else do my homework for me? Isn't that cheating? Wouldn't it just get Professor Slughorn even more upset with me if he found out?" He hesitates, and then adds, "Um, is it something you do often, then? Does it really work?"

"It works great, at least for the first three years or so," Marcus assures Niles. "Just make sure whoever is doing your homework for you, is good at it," he adds. "And also make sure you don't get caught." He leans back, studying the boy. "Tell me, what are the usual qualities expected of someone in Slytherin?"

Niles hesitates again, trying to decide if Marcus is leading him into a trap. But he mustn't annoy him, because he doesn't want to become a chocolate frog! "Er, that would be…" He thinks, momentarily at a loss just because of the pressure he feels to answer. "Well, cunning, like you said, right? And, um, respecting blood status? Is that another?"

"Cunning, ambition and resourcefulness," Marcus recites. "Now think about those, and think about what I said for just a second," he pauses, crossing his arms over his chest and actually waiting for Niles to do his thinking. "It's not always about breaking your back, doing the best work, but how resourceful you are. If you can get someone to do your homework for you, or, help you out?" He gestures with both hands, showing his palms, indicating that the point makes itself. "See what I mean? Now granted, like I said, this only works the first three years or so. You're in what, your second year?"

"Oh, yes," Niles says, his face turning a faint shade of pink. "I knew that, really." He does think about it, though he fidgets and squirms in his seat. It feels like taking an exam, only if you fail you might get transfigured into something nasty. "Er, so I do less work but still get the credit?" he asks tentatively. "But who am I going to find that will want to do my homework for me?" He nods quickly. "Yes, that's right. My second. So I have about a year and a half, then?"

"You could say you do smart work, rather than call it less work. I mean, it's not like getting someone else to do your homework for you is always easy. But, it is good practice," Marcus keeps a serious face as he says all this. He considers and nods. "About a year and a half," he confirms. "As for who to find to do your homework for you…" he taps his lips with his fingers. "Any best friends? Friends in other houses? Girlfriends? Girls you like?"

"Smart work," Niles says with a nod. "Yes, that sounds better, doesn't it? After all, being resourceful and cunning and ambitious is hard work too, right? So I'd be working just as hard, if not more so." He smiles to himself, pleased with the line of thought. When Marcus starts asking if he has any friends, he opens his mouth to respond, but he shuts it with a snap when he brings up girls. There's no doubt about it this time: his face definitely turns. "No," he says instantly. "Er, well. Maybe. Sort of. Well, I don't really like her. I mean, not like that!"

"Smart work," Marcus repeats, approvingly. "You'll be working just as hard, that's right. You'll just be smarter about it," he flashes a grin as he taps his temple with his finger. He grows a little thoughtful at Niles' response. "That's fine, you don't have to -really- like her, you know. But, question is, can you make her think you do? And if not her, someone else. Now, if you like them, and they like you it can be a little easier," he muses. "But it's a bit better when you get someone you don't actually like to do this for you. Cunning, you see."

"You mean pretend to like her just to get her to do my homework for me?" Niles asks, looking alarmed at the very thought of it. "Er, maybe I'd better not try it on her. She scares me a bit." His eyes widen as soon as he says this and he quickly adds, "I mean, she doesn't scare me. Just, I'd rather not lie to her. She definitely doesn't scare me." He looks at Marcus and then hurries on, saying, "Actually, there is this other girl who I don't think I like at all. It would be fun to have her do my homework, especially after… Well, never mind. How would I do it anyway?"

Marcus nods at this and nods again when Niles backs off that suggestion. "Fair enough. If you like her, and if she scares you, it's alright to start with someone else," he tells him. "But if she scares you, eventually, you want to show that you're not scared. Or, you're going to be picked on for the rest of your life. All of it, your life." He nods again as Niles clarify. "Good. Let's focus on this other girl. Is she Slytherin, or what house is she from?"

"She doesn't scare me," Niles mumbles, though his heart isn't in the denial. But his brow furrows at the thought of being picked on his whole life. "But, let's say, hypothetically of course, that someone did scare me. Not that anyone does, but hypothetically. How would I show them I'm not scared? Er, never mind. You're right, let's focus on the other… Just might be useful to know, I thought." He looks a little nervous at the question. "Slytherin, of course. I don't mingle with blood traitors from other Houses, no matter what you might have heard."

"You know what, kid, I like you," Marcus decides then, as Niles speaks of blood traitors in the other houses. "Glad to hear you speak like that," he adds. He grows thoughtful. "Let me answer your first question, mostly because like I said, I like you. "So, let's say… hypothetically, that someone did scare you," he smirks at this.
"The answer is simple. Don't act scare. What are they going to do? Make you grow hair all over your body? So you go to a healer and get fixed. Call you names? Who cares what other people call you. See the pattern here? Only when someone is pointing a wand at you, ready to fire a spell do you have to worry," he notes, with a shrug.
"So, Slytherin. If she's smart, this girl you -don't- like, she should be expecting you. So the first thing you need to do, is find out what kind of things she likes. It's almost like trying to get close to a girl you do like. You follow?"

"You do?" Niles asks. This seems to come as a complete shock to him, but he can't help but give Marcus a crooked smile as he adds, "Well, it's true." He listens with close attention to the older boy's advice. "Well, they might turn me into a chocolate frog…" he offers uncertainly. "But you're saying I shouldn't care about what anyone else does unless they want a fight? What do I do, ignore them? I don't know if that will work." He nods thoughtfully when Marcus continues about the girl. "Yes, I think so. I know she likes Quidditch. She wants to be on the Slytherin team. And she's obsessed with her new broom." He glowers as he mentions this.

"Anyone that's smart enough not to mingle with blood traitors is alright in my book," Marcus tells him, with a shrug. "Pretty much, and if they want to fight… well, you do what you have to do," he says. "Ignoring works, some times. Others, you just have to bark back. Because a lot of people bark a lot, but don't bite, really."
Thoughtful again, he nods. "So, likes Quidditch, and obsessed with her broom. Do you like Quidditch? If you do, that's your approach right there. Watch some quidditch games, so you know what to talk to her about. Compliment her on that broom she loves, and that you obviously hate, but not too much, or she'll grow suspicious. Befriend her, really and once she seems like she's taken the bait," he snaps his hands together. "You close the trap around her, and get her to do your homework." A pause. "See, I told you it is as much hard work. But certainly more fun."

"I don't know if that will work," Niles says doubtfully. He's sitting on one of the couches along with Marcus, who's giving him some advice. "How is a second-year supposed to bark back when it's usually older students doing the barking in the first place? Seems like they won't have any issue biting me." He considers Marcus's advice, which just so happens to be about Lucinda, and then frowns. "Well, I sort of tried that at first, only it fell apart after a while and I lost my nerve. So it's going to be difficult to pull off, isn't it? I don't even know if I can do it." He's losing his nerve here as well, but to cover it he goes on to say, So, er, you're definitely not going to turn me into a frog then, are you? Since you like me?" He gives Marcus an innocent smile.

"Well if it's older students, you're kinda screwed," Marcus admits. "I'm talking more people your own year. But even older students?" He wags a finger now. "They tend to be more bark than bite, trust me on that one."
Marcus smirks. "Nah. Like I said, you had me at not mingling with blood traitors," he tells Niles. "But, that doesn't mean I can't change my mind. So, don't become a pest, otherwise," he waves his finger as if it was a wand. "Frog with you. And well… if you think this girl is going to be too hard. You need another target. Someone easier to handle. Maybe someone from another house even. As long as you remember that you're just pretending to befriend them," he offers that last part with a warning tone. "It's quite alright to not mingle with blood traitors, but since we have to put up with them, might as well put them to some use."

The thin and graceful Lucinda often moves with very silent footsteps. She is wearing her dance shoes at the moment, slippers so similar to the toe shoes of ballet. They are often used for dancing on point which suggests she must have been running through forms in the dormitory. Lucinda is coming from that direction on light footed steps; she no longer wears her school robes but she does have on the rest of her uniform. A full wide skirt. grey sweater vest and a long black sleeve shirt beneath that… the tie has been removed in lieu of finished classes for the evening. Subtle soundless pats of her toes against the stone bring the girl out into the main area of the common room. "I might," Muses Lucinda; having caught the tail end of Niles worry. "Turn you to into a frog that is…" She mutters in her dry emotionless tenor. The girl twirl once with ease, moving to an area near the boys. "You should be less mindful of who is older and instead who they call family. Really? Mingling with blood traitors to feel superior?" She scoffs, another twirl as she found her way to the shimmering watery light of the port holes. Dancing through it silently. "That's low." Is added with a turn.

Niles gives Marcus a skeptical look. "Er, all right then," he says. "I'll trust you. I just don't know that I want to go put it into practice just yet. Maybe I'll try barking back at some of the kids my age first…" He still seems uncertain, but he looks almost relieved when Marcus suggests finding a less difficult target. "Yes, good idea," he starts to say, but his face pales when the older boy goes on to suggest finding someone from another House. He's about to respond when Lucinda speaks, and he jumps up to his feet and spins around in alarm. "You what?" he asks, his eyes wide. He struggles with himself for a second before glancing at Marcus, and he takes a deep breath before going on to say, "N-no you wouldn't. You're just saying that to try to scare me. Well, it's not going to work! And I don't mingle with blood traitors for any reaason," he adds firmly, folding his arms across his chest.

Lucinda turns to face Niles, very serious now as she allows the heels of her feet to comes back down to earth. Her turn to face him is executed in a firm and deliberate fashion. A pointed stare at the younger boy. "You'd do well to learn that telling me I can't or /won't/ do something is an excellent way to familiarize one's self with the taste of flies." The girl threatens without any emotion. It's chilling how matter-of-fact she is able to threaten. She did pause to review her last sentence, a vacant gaze drifting off a tich. "At least in this case." Is added to save face. She curls the corner of one lip, lingering near the water windows with a thoughtful indifference cast in the boys general direction. "B'sides why do I need to scare you? You're all twitch and squeak as it is…" She smiles now, a real smile that is wholly macabre. She hasn't seemed to acknowledge Marcus yet.

"And you should listen to a whole conversation, before deciding to have an opinion," Marcus easily replies, grinning at the girl. "And you won't turn him into the frog," he says simply. "Besides, we already covered the whole not mingling with blood traitors thing, before you got here." And with that he stands up.
With a wink to Niles he nods. "You do that," he offers in response to barking at some of the kids his age first. He smirks again as Niles stands up to Lucinda, curious.
"Well then. There are things I need to do. You two have fun."

All the boy gets is a roll of her eyes in response.

"Er, you're leaving, are you?" Niles asks Marcus, glancing between him and Lucinda and looking worried all of a sudden. He watches the other boy leave and bites his lip. It was much easier to stand up to the girl with him sitting right there. His face goes quite white at her matter-of-fact words, and his hands start to shake a bit so that he clenches them tightly together in front of him. "I-I wasn't telling you what you can't or won't do. I just meant that… Well, I am not all twitch and squeak. I am a Slytherin and proud of it! And I won't let you push me around either!" The effect is somewhat lost, hwoever, by the fact that he lets all this out in a very rapid, high-pitched voice.

"I don't want to push you around." Lucinda admits with a shrug as she goes to take a seat on one of the sofa; floating over with smooth cadence. She folds up her feet in the billows of her full black skirt nestling into the sofa. The girl then takes a long string off her wrists and begins playing a Witch version of cat's cradle with the string. Idle motions and smooth graceful turns as she manipulated the enchanted loop of string. "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger…" She mutters, lost in her task instead of having to offer anything closer to an apology.

Niles stares at Lucinda, his eyes narrowing in suspicion, and he goes very still as if the slightest move will put an end to her apparent indifference towards him. "You don't?" he asks. "Well, good then. Because I don't want to push you around either." He watches her play with her string for a while, almost afraid to say anything else, but then he steels himself and says, "So, um, have you had a chance to fly your broom yet?"

"Yes," Lucinda answers smartly. "I took her out yesterday, early afternoon 'bout when the pitch gets the most sun for the day." She admits, still playing the string game. It's a simple game with a simple enchantment that allows the user to pinch various parts of the string together which then stay pinched. Making almost a web which requires near constant concentration to maintain. "It was fun." Is uttered but rather vague as she seemed set to the task of her game.

Niles continues to watch her play with the string, which gives him an excuse not to look her in the eye. "Did you really?" he asks, trying to keep his tone polite and civil. "And how was it, if you don't mind me asking? It looked like quite a remarkable broom to me. I expect it flew very well." He sneaks a glance at her face, but tries to keep his own neutral and free of fear.

"Cold." Lucinda offers still vague as she watches the string for a few more moments. Her expression is near empty in the process. The ask the string turns a dark black is shivers in the air and then wilts. Falling to her lap with a lazy loll. A smile blossoms and it's hard to tell if she won or lost. Glancing over to the boy, "Fast, exciting. All the things a new broom always manages to be…" She shrugged with one shoulder, scooping up her loop of string and winding back around one wrist. She then gets up to leave with hardly a farewell.

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