(1938-12-19) Eye of the Beholder
Details for Eye of the Beholder
Summary: Meanie and the Hair finally get to talk. Variel wrangles with fellow Gryffindors Shazi and Madeline!
Date: 1938-12-19
Location: Library

Esther has spent her lunchbreak (After eating what she had to, to keep Riddle from starving to death) in the Library. The girl is well entrenched not long after arriving - A small canvas portrait, a painting of her cousin (The more attractive one) sitting on the table in front of her. Braced at an angle, so she can read it without having to hunch over, is a book. The spine reads, 'Living Images' - So it's not subtle what she's learning how to do… And from the lack of wand, and the lack of movement on the painting, the word 'learning' is very relavent. The world outside is dark, and stormy. For some, it's the second to last day of Hogwarts. For Esther, it's the beginning of a long, and lonely holiday.

Andromena emerges from somewhere further back in the library. There is a book pressed firmly against her chest, held there by both arms. She almost passes Esther by. Almost. A glimpse of the portrait she's working on, and the Ravenclaw pauses. Beauty was in the eye of the beholder, truly, but most people could easily agree who amongst her two cousins was more attractive.

"That's really very good," comes her voice. Soft and polite. Even if it wasn't…who it was, Andromena would have offered the same compliment. She dearly wished she was even half as talented in the realm of art. Alas, she's just a hack.

It's unfortunately very stylised. As a result, the portrait shows a little about the artist as well. Less like a lithe man, and more like a coiled snake. The grip on his wand was tight, pointed straight down, but always threatening to lift. It's undeniably an aggressive pose, for all it looks like he might just be standing. Esther's eyes are torn from her book, and turn to find… Andromena. How curious for her to be here.

"Thank you… I've often thought that some people live to be made into art. This one… I'm not so sure. But it felt apt." A smile for her, "Andromena, isn't it? Myrus spoke of you. I'm sorry we've never had a chance to meet before." Of course, Esther wouldn't have spoken to anyone, for the longest time. The 'Hair' has taken her time to emerge from her shell.

Shazi Shafiq, voluntarily in the library, twice in one day? Wonders will never cease. The Gryffindor Fourth Year is rambling amongst the stacks. Her earlier ire evidently forgotten, as she's smiling affably. The girl pauses now and then in her movements, stopping to look at the subject matter of the books nearest her, and then either frowning or nodding to herself as she moves on.

What was Madeline doing /on top/ of one of the shelves. It was a good question. A very valid question. It was probably a very, very good thing that the librarian was so involved with helping another student. The child was peering down, into the narrow space between the shelf she was on, and the shelf next to it a puzzled a curious expression on her features. She would have sworn…

Just because Andromena can't draw, or paint, or play any instruments without making music into pain, does not mean she cannot appreciate the skills of others. Nor does it mean she hasn't an eye (or ear), for it. She reaches out for a chair beside Esther with a, "May I?" Before moving to sit.

"Some people do give that impression," she agrees, eyeing the portrait. "However you feel about this one personally, I still like it." But some how…Andromena just understood how an artist might feel if their work did not turn out just as they had wanted it to!

"And don't worry about it, these past few weeks have been very busy. I've hardly seen Myrus myself."

Three steps into the library and Weasley wanted to smack himself right in the forehead. Why was Evans on top of the shelves?! Bad enough ANYONE was, but she was a GIRL to boot! That meant skirts, and THAT meant he either had to draw attention to her by being loud, or get close enough to be quiet and… BOLLOCKS. Variel scowled and stalked towards the stacks, looping behind a few aisles back to approach without being obvious and possibly giving her away.

"Absolutely." Esther smiles, gesturing to the chair as well. "I can put my personal feelings aside, when the situation demands it… Besides, there's no denying that there's enough symmetry to give beauty… And just enough of a dark taint to make them look believable." It's true. Her painting is of a slightly villainous bent. "Myrus and Alphard spoke this morning, in fact… I hope that all went well. Much as I love him, Myrus has been known to… Say stupid things, at the most opportune moment." Her smile is kind, as she turns to Andromena again.

Out of the corner of her eye, Shazi spots red hair with Gryffindor red-and-gold on the move. A Weasley, perhaps? But stalking, that obviously makes it interesting. The Fourth Year (who has drifted towards the Herbology section for… reasons unclear) pauses in her uncertain task, eyes a nearby shelf, and abruptly abandons the whatever-it-was she was doing. Variel is in pursuit of Madeline. Shazi is in pursuit of Variel.

Madeline leans over the side of the shelf to try to get a better vantage into the crack she was peering into. She can see nothing in the shadows, however. Letting out a frustrated sound that ends in a sigh, Madeline shifts her position so she can start climbing /down/ off of the shelf. It's an easy climb, after all.

… just in time for Variel to round a corner and peer up to locate her for a good, quiet scolding. The end result is a Weasley with a hand clapped over his eyes, muttering rapidly under his breath in a particularly Scottish brogue about about what he's going to do to Evans when she gets to the ground floor. He's also doing a damn good job hiding his freckles with blood. If he had a sister? Panties just wouldn't be this big a deal. But when's the last time anyone heard of a female Weasley kid?

Andromena seats herself, and gladly. The truth was she had been wanting to speak to the slightly infamous girl known as the Hair for sometime now. All she knew was that she was cousin to both Myrus Lowe and Alphard Black, and a handful of rumors; none of which Andromena was willing to give much credit to. Oh, and of course that she and Myrus were an item, but being part of the Sacred 28 might Andromena saw this as only natural. That said, it was no small wonder the Ravenclaw had hoped for a chance for a little one-on-one.

Alphard, it should be noted, never discussed Esther with her.

"I encouraged Myrus to speak with Alphard," Andromena shared with Esther helpfully. It was her belief that apologies could go a long way. However, she had no idea how things may have went that morning. As yet, she could only assume. Her eyes linger on the portrait, taking in the eyes, the mouth, and then the overall posture.

"Myrus means well," and she said this with such open earnestness it was almost painful. "I am sure Alphard will see that." A brief pause, and her gaze manages to take in the slim girl beside her. They were about the same height, she and Esther, but even Andromena had some more meat on her bones than the Slytherin! "For what it's worth, I heard you apologized to Alphard as well. You needn't share details…I just want to say I'm glad the water is clear between the pair of you."

"Hoy, Weasley -" Shazi isn't good at Library Appropriate Volume Levels, but her voice isn't too strident as she rounds the corner behind him. Her expression is thoroughly entertained. "What on earth are you doing, is there a -" Pause. "Huh." Being a girl, Shazi does not bother to close her eyes at the sight of Madeline's downward descent, or even look embarrassed. That part's fine. But Variel's eye-covering has her muffling a LOUD peal of laughter (not terribly successfully) in her shelve.

Esther does seem to be the subject of many rumours. The circles she moves in, and the nature of her sudden rise from the nobody everyone picked on to the strange girl that people couldn't believe almost guaranteed that. "I… I don't believe the water will ever be clear. But I have at least made my apologies for the mud that I stirred in it." A smile, as she looks at the portrait. "It's a start. A good start." She smiles. Clearly not the insane girl that she's touted as being. Or not wholly. "I'll have to track him down, regardless. Perhaps, when you're back from holiday, I might have actually made him move." She gestures to her small painting.

It's good that Esther is finally putting meat on her bones, though. The girl had gone onto the wrong side of thin during the school break - Although she'd been seen at meals more and more often, flanked by one or two second years who seemed VERY invested in her eating habits.

At the sound of Variel's name, Madline turns once her feet is on the ground and looks between him, and Shazi behind him. "What?" she asks, puzzled by the look of embarrassment by one, and the barely contained laughter from the other. "I just- I thought I saw- well. I was this book- well, /that/ book. That one over there?" She points to a book on a table nearby. "It's a storybook! A little children's fables and such sort of book, only a wizarding one," because she's not used to that sort, "and just as as that," she waves her hand over the ground, underneath a lamp, "I saw something slip out of the book's pages, and up onto the shelf, and then down between them, and I thought - well, I thought if I could get a good look at it…"

Andromena accepts Esther's words with a calm equanimity. She was really very good at exuding that, even when her emotions might otherwise be different. Could that be considered an art form? Right now, however, Andromena isn't attempting to conceal anything, having no reason to do so. Finally laying her book down on the table before her, The Alchemist's Formulary, the young woman absently lays her hands atop it.

"People do not always get along. Family or otherwise," a roll of her shoulders into an obvious shrug. "The way of the world. I try to…avoid those that I can't seem to like, for whatever reason." Because the other thing about the world was…nobody was perfect. Even people like Andromena that strove so very hard to be so!

"I would love to see this guy move," said with a grin. "Perhaps a slashing motion of the wand?"

"Didja consider simply movin' some books insteada clamberin' up onta th'stacks an'showin anyone wand'rin' by precisely what a pair'a first year knickers look like?" Variel hissed, his accent much heavier when he's embarassed. "I feel like I oughtta drag myself outta here by the ear, just on principle! I-" He shuts his eyes for a moment, trying to focus, or calm down, or something. "… there's no proper way ferra lass inna skirt ta climb down from a height like that, Evans, -please- tryta remember tha' before someone besides me catches ya clamberin' round above eye level, will ya?"

"An' -you-! Stop laughin', Shafiq, a bitta modesty ain't somethin' ta chuckle over!" He squints at Shazi, but- as usual- he comes off a touch more silly than furious. Which, since he isn't actually furious, works out okay.

"Oh, let up on the midge," replies Shazi, dismissing the poor boy's panty-pique with an airy wave of her hand. The Fourth Year ambles forward, beaming down at Madeline. (Probably not very far down, though. Shazi is pocket-sized.) "What is it with people and panties today? I don't usually hear two different conversations about them in the space of a few hours, and in the same place, and honestly I don't know why it's supposed to be that interesting of a topic, and -" Her voice's volume rises, steadily, throughout this, unnoticed by its owner. Of Madeline, a little indulgently, she inquires: "What's this you said you saw?"

"I thought so. I look at him… And in my head, I can see his wand pointed. I can never tell though… If he's going for the kill, or shielding someone dear to him." Esther stifles a giggle, and glances over at Andromena again. And her book. "Potions and Art. Now I find you officially suspicious. I am… Unfortunately, the kind of girl who wonders just what might happen if she kicks the hornets nest, and then curses the bee." The girl seems to find that idea amusing as well though.

Madline blinks at Variel in surprise - and then bursts into giggles. "Getting me to stop climbing's like… like getting a bird to stop flying! Like getting a fish to stop swimming! Like getting wizard to stop- well, /wizarding/!" Okay. So maybe that last metaphor could use some work. She'll refine it later.

"…who else was talking about panties?" the girl asks with puzzled curiousity. This is quickly forgotten in light of the question directed at her, though.

"I'm not sure! It was dark, and indistinct, and it almost - well. It kinda seemed like a snake, but I only saw it for a second, out of the corner of my eye. Books don't usually do that?"

Variel mutters to himself and lets the girls get to talking, moving about the stacks in a quick circuit to get an idea of where the best vantage point would be. Finally, he settles for the spot at the end of the stacks, where the shelves press together. He glances at his wand and flicks it, the tip lighting on mental command, and slips it between the stacks, closing one eye to peer into the lighted depths between the shelves.

"Oh…oh no," Andromena forestalls by holding up her hands with a grin. "I can only admire art, I can't bring it into life the way you have." Even if she never applied the charm to it. That someone could put a bunch of colors together to replicate warm skin, soft hair, or dark eyes…it was, and would always be worthy of awe to Andromena.

"I'm good at studying, little else." Perhaps selling herself short, there. But like Esther, Andromena has always been little more than a blip on the social radar of Hogwarts. Every now and again, she would find herself bathing or getting dressed and just shuddering at the very thought of the potential social interaction she'd see during the coming day. For all she was glad of her growing friendships out of polite acquaintances, the Ravenclaw was still a damned introvert.

"However, I don't quite see myself as a bee. Something more cuddly, I should think. Indulge your curiosity, Esther, my cousin Anthony always does."

"Oh, just some Ravenclaws, one of whom had her panties stolen," explains Shazi, dismissively, and also having totally failed to catch from that earlier conversation that this wasn't supposed to be blabbed about the school. "It's only a miracle they didn't start talking about 17th century goblin textile manufacturers along the way." Such a stereotyper! But when Madeline's interest fades, so does hers. "Mm. Could've been a trick of the light, but that's certainly unusual -" The girl leans back, slightly, to eye Variel's spellcasting. "See anything, Weasley?"

Sure Weasley does! Lost quills, and notes, and maybe even a cheap and glittering bracelet! But no shadowy snake-like forms, that's for certain.

"Stealing panties?" Madline muses. Ewwwww. Why would anyone want to do that?!

"Yeah, do you see anything?" the girl asks eagerly, jockeying for a position so she can peer into the crack, too.

"You are something a little more fascinating." Esther states, "And something I shan't kick." The Slytherin allows herself a giggle. "I wouldn't believe that, Andromena. There's more to everyone that meets the eye. And it's amazing how rapidly 'Good at study' can stretch to 'Magnificent with my wand' or 'Proficient with Potions'." The girl always tries to discourage people from being less than they are. Esther's more sociable, now. Although there are times she stares at the mirror, and wishes she could just go back to bed. Curl up and pretend the day hasn't began.

"Curiousity? Well now. There are appropriate and inappropriate ways to do this… But I suppose first and foremost is, Just what are you studying today?"A smile.

Variel gets to work, murmuring the word "Accio" as many times as it takes to single out and remove everything between the shelves. He trusts Madeline's awareness- at least so far- and is willing to do some digging to see if anything else is back there. "I see things; gimme a second and so will you.

"Apparently," is all Shazi has for Madeline, dismissive. Not of the First Year, just the panties. She's far more interested in Variel's actions, watching with interest. With absent thoughtfulness, the girl muses, "Though I wonder - didn't you say it looked sort of shadowlike, Evans? What if it vanished, poof," a hand motion accompanies the 'poof', "the moment light hit it?"

"You have my gracious thanks," Andromena says with a wry grin. Then she turns a little more self conscious, reflective, even. She does not like to boast, and at the same time, she really does not know how to properly talk about herself. It was just easier to talk, and let people for their own opinions. Still, Andromena does allow a small smile to remain as she raps her fingers against the cover of her book.

"I was hoping to perhaps learn about potions meant for…recovery. I can brew a mean Essence of Murtlap, but that's just for minor scrapes." Esther might be aware that Andromena had taken to volunteering in the infirmary, so this desire may not seem all that unfounded. "As I won't really learn much in the way of spells until I actually become a Healer, I want to supplement my arsenal," an amusing term, all things considered. "As much as I can before then."

"You think?" Madeline muses, as she looks at quils, and scraps of parchment, all while shaking her head. "No. No. Not this either," she mumbles.

"It's not alive, though, right? It's a just a /shadowy/. So it's not like we /killed/ anything, we just…

"Throwing light around just moves shadows. It doesn't eliminate them. There's always shadows somewhere." Variel keeps at it a few moments. "… Evans, you sure you saw something?" The question comes as he starts to run out of detritus to drop behind himself.

Esther smiles. "A healer? Something else we might have in common." It was a little known wish of hers. The girl blushes a little, as she admits. "I was hoping to find a way of brewing a potion that might prevent pain, rather than ease it or heal it. Something of an invulnerability." A pause. "Greater witches than I have tried, and failed though… But it's a dream that lingers." She bites her lower lip, the nervous trait already coming out. "I mean… What magic can wrought is amazing. But what if in addition to treating injury, we could prevent it in the first place?"

Who would have guessed they might have common ground. "… Myrus was trying to teach me some of the spells they learned in domestics, though. And I freely admit, I'm not… Too capable with them, yet." Yes, her beloved takes Domestics Club. Anyone got a problem?

"I don't mean we could've killed it, exactly," clarifies Shazi, hastily (and rather kindly). "Only that if you did see something real, and it wasn't a trick of the light, maybe you'd have to do something other than shine a light at it. Sneak up on it, maybe. If it is real." She reaches down to pick up that cheap bracelet, looking intrigued. "Hey, I think I saw a Hufflepuff girl wearing this, I bet we could give it back to her…"

"Well - I was pretty sure I did. Came right out of the book - right between the pages. Maybe it's not between anymore, but under now? Or maybe it's gone between the pages of /another/ book! Oh, we could spend /all day/ looking and never find it if that's the case!" Madeline lets out a sigh - but she does get down onto belly to peer underneath the shelves. "At least we found that bracelet, though. That's a least something!"

"Alright, well… I'm about outta targets. I think if it was back there, we'da got it. Maybe it IS in a book or something. Could do some reading, Evans, see what lives in books? Might be interesting research- if you manage it around your other classes." Variel straightens at last, dismissing the light on his wand with a silent thought. "But yeah, I'm sure she'll be glad to have her bracelet-" And Evans is in another embarassing position. Variel swallows a groan. "… back."

No, especially since Andromena's ~beloved~ had so easily conned her into Domestics. So Andromena laughs with open mirth. "I have just recently joined Domestics. Not learned a single spell yet. In fact, all Madam Patil has seen fit to do is bake Christmas treats," which she shamelessly passed on to Alphard. "The Muggle way. Truth be told, cooking is not all that different from Potions, which has been my only saving grace thus far." A little wrinkle of her nose. Andromena would finish this vein of thought before re-tackling the other. "I…I never saw myself playing home maker before. It was always study-study-study. I am to be a woman of means, responsible and wise and all that garbage."

Only it was not really garbage, not to Andromena. It was just she was beginning to understand that there was more. So much more.

"But house-witchery aside, you've intrigued me." Andromena leaned forward slightly. Not too close to be uncomfortable, just to physically show her interest in Esther's idea. "I think the crux of you idea is that, though I may be wrong," she was speaking a little faster. Excited. She thought she saw something in this! "I doubt there is a potion that could effectively make one impervious to harm. What you could attempt is a potion that blocks or dulls pain. A poor substitute, and admittedly dangerous, but it would be a start."

Andromena begins to mutter, eyes darting towards her book. "…Or maybe a spell in conjunction with a potion. Runes, maybe?" Runes carved in the flesh. Strange how her desire to heal could so easily border the macabre.

"Could ask Patil," suggests Shazi, but dubiously, because to an intemperate loudmouth a Librarian is something in the way of a natural predator. Like a bear, only with spectacles. "I bet if anyone would know if things live in the books, it would be her." The girl watches Variel's expression change upon Madeline innocent bellyflopping. Her hand does very little to muffle her snicker, though she does reach over to try and give him a consoling pat on the shoulder. Poor thing.

"I cannot tolerate it…" Esther admits. "Myrus tried to make me cook, and if it weren't for his company, Hogwarts would have one less stove. Potions, I can understand. The aromas, the textures, the ingredients, they make sense. It is all 'real'. This… Cooking. Cinnamon, nutmeg, spices and flour — Which, as far I understand, is practically nothing in solid form." There's a joke in it, sure, but it does reflect exactly who is going to be the housewife, should the cousins ever wed. "I am simply not a housewitch." She ends.

Esther finds herself excited by the idea of talking about theory. "I know, I know. But I thought more and more. From temporarily making someone less succepitible to pain, it could even be made permanent, with the right elixir," She arrives at the same conclusion, although hers is a little more vocal. "Or even the right rune, inscribed upon the bod—…" Too much in common. Blood Runes. Esther's eyes dance with the potential knowledge there, but a little fear too. "No. That would be insane." She might not know much about Ancient Runes. But she knows that.

"Nothing down here, either," the girl muses thoughtfully. It was so strange! Hrm. She turns and looks up and back at the sound of snickering, and then shifts to sit cross-legged on the floor. "That's not a bad idea," she agrees with Shazi. "And I'm sure I can find the time! …well. I don't know /how/ much time, until after the break, because… well…" The winter break was upon them! For a moment, she aaaaaalmost regreted. But only for a moment.

And people called Esther crazy. Well, Andromena usually kept her darker thoughts to herself. They were personal, after all. Still Esther is given a surreptitious grin. Maybe one day they would work together bringing new and powerful magic into the wizarding world. In the name of the greater good? Why, of course.

"Certainly something to think about…For fun, if nothing else." Yes. Fun. Andromena returns to facing Esther a little more squarely. "Let's see, we've covered school work, future plans, what else might we gossip about this evening…?" The question was posed ruefully, for Esther to indulge at her leisure. If they wanted to be atypical girls, there was always the ever-popular subject of boys.

"Certainly something to think about…For fun, if nothing else." Yes. Fun. Andromena returns to facing Esther a little more squarely. "Let's see, we've covered school work, future plans, what else might we gossip about this evening…?" The question was posed ruefully, for Esther to indulge at her leisure. If they wanted to be atypical girls, there was always the ever-popular subject of boys.

"Did I hear runes brought up?" Variel leans around the stacks and rather abruptly abandons the girls now that the excavation is complete and there's something else to consider. "Or am I too late for this discussion?"

Oh. They're probably going to be friends after this. Esther considers the thought for a few long seconds. "There's much and more to talk about. Holidays. Hogsmeade. Special interests. Sports," Esther, playing sports. The suggestion has a rueful grin coupled with it. "Boys. Although I find the last subject a little tiresome, our own are… Again, simply fascinating." And they're both her cousins. Who would have thought it? One of whom is frozen, staring out of a canvas, wand in hand. Waiting to be freed. Variel pokes his head in, and Esther blinks at him. "Variel. You're an excellent judge. Myrus or Alphard?" She gestures at the canvas. Stifling a giggle.

"But don't get your hopes up too much," Shazi adds to Madeline, albeit fairly (at least for Shazi) gently. "You really could have just been seeing things. Books are strange." She wrinkles her nose at the nearest shelf. "Patil'll know, though, I'd guess." Variel's abrupt departure has the Fourth Year making shooing motions after him, like it's somehow HER idea that he's leaving them.

"Well, that's what everyone told me about the mokes and fairies and bowtruckles. That I was just seeing things, that I was just making things up. That I had a very active imagination - but they were real!" So why not a shadowy snakey thing living in books? "I wish I'd gotten a better look at it," Madeline complains.

"Oh, ugh, sports," said with a little bit of humor but mostly with disdain. Esther and sports was only just slightly more preposterous than Andromena and sports. It would be common knowledge she only attended Quidditch matches now because of Alphard's involvement.

"I get tired of people petitioning me for Alphard. I rarely…actually talk about him. But no, we needn't turn this into an Alphard-Myrus conversation." Because enough people talked about them already. Her attention turns to Variel when he makes his presence known. Andromena offers a quick wave.

"Hey there, Variel." She too happens to be giggling. "You won't hear another peep about runes until you guess correctly."

"Alphard. He looks like he's about to casually teach some punk of a fifth year why it was a bad idea to practice that jinx on one of his not-least-favorite cousins," comes Variel's response. He comes closer to the pair, peering at the portrait intently. "That's my take, anyhow. Did I get it right?"

Shazi takes up a perch on Madeline's former table, feet propped up on a chair. It's a good thing Variel's wandered off; it's terribly unladylike. "Oh, right," she comments, "I forget, you're one of the Muggleborns. Not saying you didn't see anything, just don't get your hopes up." After a moment's pause, the older girl leans forward and inquires, with enthusiasm, "Say, do Muggles really think Fairies are, you know, all -" Stumped to come up with a good word for what she means, she settles for a dramatic wiggling of her hands, like unto jazz hands, "- and everything?"

"I wouldn't." Esther smiles kindly. "You and I both know that's rough ground to build a house on. Best we steer clear." The girl does seem wise to these sorts of things. But using it to punish Variel for injecting himself into their discussion? That's more than fair. "It's a fair attempt." Esther admits, looking at the canvas. The gentle stroke she offers her work might mark that guess as completely wrong. "I'm in many ways a punk of a fifth year. Do you believe this man," A tap "Would hurt me?" She turns to Andromena, and suggests. "Perhaps we should let him sit regardless of his guess."

…and yet, Andromena offers a fond smile for the portrait as well. So was the poor Gryffindor right or wrong? How difficult could it truly be to distinguish from one cousin to the other!?

"One must hope, despite the way he's holding that wand, that the man would never strike a woman. Surely even he has some principals." Myrus hadn't the gumption to hurt a girl, that was Andromena's take on the lad. And Alphard? He actually did have some of the aforementioned principals. Even if they were shadowy, half-formed creatures few others might recognize…

Madeline nods her head enthusiastically. "Oh, sure they do. Most of them, anyways. I mean, some kids, they still believe in stuff like that. And sometimes you miiiiight find an adult that believes in stuff like that, but almost never, only it turns out my da' did on account of my /Uncle/ came to Hogwarts too, so he already knew! But neither by dad nor my uncle told me. Can you believe that? That cheek!" She's still seated on the floor as she says this - looking up at Shazi.

"He would if said woman was trying to hurt someone under his protection. That's what I'm seeing." Variel shrugs. "Still, I shoulda guessed Myrus from the start- but I figured it was too obvious, since you actually get along with him, as opposed to Black." He heaves a sigh. "No chair for moi, then?"

Esther is living proof that that's not entirely true. "I'm not so certain. I think every man has a line that you should know better than to cross. A point where violence is inevitable." She smiles… And then flips the loose piece of canvas over. It's not mounted yet, it's just another pice of material. "Mhn. But one would assume I'd paint Black as someone I wouldn't get along with. Of course, dear Myrus is a complicated creature." The material is folded. And again. And then slid into her bookbag, where it can remain a mystery. "I think you've won a chair for participation. Accuracy can be argued." Height is an illusion. Width, too. When it comes down to an expressed idea, any two things can begin to look the same.

"Regardless… He was an incredibly amusing distraction."

"Very," Andromena agreed with Esther. She gestures to a nearby seat for Variel to take. Again, it seems she and Esther have something they can agree upon. Perhaps if there weren't a boy in their midst, she would have indulged a little more than, "Oh yes, Esther. I agree with you there. I think most everyone has a line that should never be crossed." Her lips purse, and with a sniff she adds, "There are some girls that look to get abused by men, though." No sympathy for the battered witch here, apparently.

"You're too kind, ladies," Variel replies, his tone amusingly halfway between sardonic and appreciative. What it isn't is offended. As always, he's just as willing to work with a joke as make one. "So aside from the discussion of cousins and witches with a too-strong taste for bad boys, what was all that about runes? I heard the idea of an invulnerability rune mentioned, or something along those lines?"

"That sounds mean of them," Shazi agrees, looking faintly bemused at the First Year's explanation. And then she's shifting out of her comfortable perch, landing back down on the ground with a soft 'flump'. "Speaking of parents, if I go home for the hols and have to say I bombed my Potions essay my parents'll tie me to a turning spit and roast me alive," this is accompanied with a bit of dramatic gesturing, first by pretending to turn the spit, then by faking an axe to her throat, "so I'd better scatter. See you later, Evans!" And with that, and a cheerful wave, she's off.

Esther glances at Andromena, as if looking for additional meaning in there. "You're not half wrong. And sometimes, you can be completely wrong about people." The talk returns to runes, though. "Invulnerability… Yes, something like that. I'm… I'm mildly obsessed with healing." Esther corrects herself immediately. "Making things better. Sometimes not always through the preferred route. I admit I never even thought of a runic solution to my problem… I thought maybe some kind of potion, but…"

"Good luck!" Maddie calls after Shazi, before finally climbing back to her feet. She moves to her table to retrieve her book, flipping through it in the hopes she would find some clue as to what she had seen earlier. She takes a moment to briefly scan and inspect each page, before turning to the next.

"Well, when it comes to spells, there's a rune that's fantastic protection against harmful magics. There's also spells that render things very difficult to harm without magic. Together, if one crafted the proper rune… perhaps it could be done, at least on a temporary basis…" Variel seems quite intrigued at the idea. "Problem is, the rune's stationary. You've got to set it on a thing, and then the thing can only go so far."

"We were discussing various means to either heal, or even better, prevent pain," Andromena shares with Variel. She does not, however, illuminate the whole tale. No reason to let him think they were two crazy Hydes. "I'd never given much thought to what Esther proposed, so that when she shared it, thoughts just flourished in my mind. It, theoretically, could be possible with use of runes." Maybe they needn't be carved into the flesh, but merely tattooed?

"You're right, Variel," she concedes. "Maybe the rune could be placed upon an article of clothing? To be worn be the one seeking to avoid injury, obviously." She couldn't bring herself to blather on about what likely bordered on the Dark Arts.

A shiver passes through Esther. It's perceptible, maybe, The dreaded feeling she gets, when her mind links the ideas. No. This kind of power comes from blood. Dark Arts. Dark Thoughts. She closes her eyes tightly, and they're gone. "I… It would confer an area effect." It has less 'affect' than a self-sustained effect. She shakes her head, trying to get the thoughts to stop. And they're gone again. "It's a fascinating subject. I wish I'd taken runes as an elective." She turns to Andromena, and wonders aloud. "If you have time… I'd relish a tutor such as you?"

Madeline stops on one of the pages, frowning at a picture, and putting her finger underneath it. Huh. Well, that's weird. She picks up the book, turns it upside-down, and shakes it. Nothing happens.

Not that she'd really expected it to.

"Yeah; plus you'd need a way to recomplete the rune each time you wanted to activate it… there's gotta be a better way, I just don't know what it is yet." Variel looks vaguely irritated. "I'll figure it out someday. When I don't have to eat, sleep and breathe charms."

Andromena has the grace to look abashed. "My cousin Anthony is far superior than I at runes. I won't say no, but would you be averse to my asking for his help?" At least that way if Andromena made any mistakes Tony could be around to correct her. She was decent enough in the class, and by no means failing…but it was not her strongest subject. "I'd be happy to at least teach you the basics."

"Maybe that's where the potion comes in. But now I'm just tossing ideas out." With little deep thought behind them. That her words sounded so innocent, when the subject matter was actually very grim, would be lost on all but an actual adult that had enough common sense to realize what these youngsters were suggesting. The trouble with visionaries, with dreamers, one must understand is that very seldom did they see outside their dream. Ideas, on the whole, were not evil to Andromena.

Esther, on the other hand, is so capable of being caught in the current, she might not realise when it takes her over the waterfall. Her curiousity, her fanaticism such that the beauty if the idea, the understanding and control of it's limits, is easily enough to leave her wanting. In many ways, she is the pilot who goes down, trying to save the plane. "Not at all. Could you imagine the good such a thing could do?" Best intentions, as always.

Carrying her book with her, Madeline walks over to the trio, utterly ignoring their discussion as she sets the book down in front of Variel. She then points wordlessly to a blank space under a drawing of a basilisk.

Yes, silence from Maddie. No, it probably won't happen again.

"I'm with Lowe, here. Imagine handing those out to our Aurors and Werewolf Hunters. Think how many families wouldn't have to find out what losing a parent is like." Variel pauses at Madeline's approach, peering at the page she's indicating. "… uh hrm." Weasley flicks his wand at the page suspiciously. "Aparecium."

"… er. Did I do it wrong? Or is there nothing there?" Variel mutters. "I hate this spell so much." He tries one more time. Just in case.

There's nothing there!

"… seriously. I have no idea if I'm even doing this right."

Andromena, after sharing a brief look with Esther, watches Variel and Madeline. She has only caught a small glance of the page in question and as such cannot comment, whatever her suspicions may be!

"Mythical beasts again is it, Evans?" Directed to the ever precocious firstie. For now, the weightier matter formerly discussed between the trio is left to simmer. "While I encourage reading ahead…you really ought to start with, I don't know, the basics first." She'd spied the basilisk.

"Imagine a world where the Crucio curse doesn't take effect." Esther sounds almost wistful. "Where a quidditch game continues regardless of bludgers. Where…" Her voice drops. Her eyes widen. Oh. "… Where the killing curse couldn't kill. I…I'm getting off track. Another time." Esther's academic excitement brews. This will be in her journal. Before she burns it, anyway. She drops her eyes to the Basilisk, and then looks to Madeline. And then back to the basilisk. "I'm with Andromena. That's something you'll hopefully never need to learn about… But even if it was, it's well beyond your years." Said as kindly as possible.

Killing curse? Madeline looks between the three older students curiously, but doesn't answer that. Instead, she puts her hands on her hips and responds with, "It's a /story/ book. I was reading stories." A collection of tales - one of which includes a basilisk! "I think the caption escaped the book, though. Do they do that a lot?"

Variel says, "No, but the pictures can go wandering sometimes. The words, though..?" Variel frowns. "I've never heard of the words going wandering away.""

"Sometimes pages are intentionally left blank." Was this true? Andromena said it, so surely it must be so. And seeing as she's an accomplished witch - a legal adult in the wizarding world! - she would know. Scooping up her book, she nevertheless has a friendly smile for all gathered. "I've got to get to class," said by way of farewell. "And I'll bet the rest of you do as well. Best not to let yourselves be caught late!" Then she was off, long tresses and robes trailing behind her. Esther was free to walk at her side so long as they shared a similar path.

"They don't." Esther states simply. "Anything blank was left that was intentionally. By an author, or another reader." She peers at the book a little closer. "What do you need it for?" She hasn't been paying attention to the first year until just now. "I'll see you later, Andromena. I hope so, anyway. You have all of the promise and allure of a kindred spirit to you." Esther admits, in public. Of course, the last time she said that, a knife was buried rather firmly in her back. So her opinion might not be the most reliable.

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