(1939-01-05) Holiday Horror
Details for Holiday Horror
Summary: The Sykes Holiday Gala brings unexpected terror.
Date: 5 January, 1939
Location: Sykes Estate, London
Related: You Don't Belong Here

To the unmagical eye, this estate is one like any other only changes with the passing of the seasons. But to a member of Wizarding society, the plant life seems almost untouched by nature as if a spell keeps things lush and green even in inclement weather.

Wrought iron in delicate curls melds with the aged stone walls around the estate, and give the impression that the property has existed for generations and that not just anyone is allowed to enter. The stately barriers obscure most of the views one might have of within. A lush lawn and gravel drive lead up to the main house, where ivy winds its way up the red brick walls. White etches out the windows and eaves, mirrored in the doors — though they boast black iron work as well — proper. Sweeping steps approach the front while a more sedate exit is at the rear of the house. There are gardens where mundane and magical flora flourish: a greenhouse providing a more specialized area to be surrounded by the more delicate of greenery. A stone patio contains outdoor seating, tables, and a fire pit for entertaining guests and all sit under a tasteful pastel green tent.

The house itself is much like many of its nature, with elegantly appointed decor and artwork that shows off accomplished family members of both past and present. The parlor is a warm room of plush seating and heavy tapestries, making it a family favorite in the cooler months. The dining room and other living areas reflect this warm and inviting nature as well. Each bedroom, while still richly furnished, reflects the nature of the owner, and the number of guest rooms are as equally comfortable and accommodating. The kitchens and cellar, perhaps, are the least of the areas, though they still have everything necessary for the household.

It is no question that the Sykes Holiday Gala is an elaborate affair. From the moments guests step onto the grounds, they are taken care of by hired staff dressed immaculately to serve as well as the occasional appearance of Tappy, their house elf. After stepping through the door, guests will find themselves in a white marble foyer decked with evergreen and poinsettia arrangements. While the occasional golden Eye of Truth ornament can be seen glimming amid the brush.

Prominent and elite members of pureblood wizarding society are scattered about the foyer, schmoozing about politics and other business while partaking in champaign and hors d'oeuvres. A lone musician plays a soft tune at the black baby grand piano positioned in the middle of the marble room, its acoustics allowing the melody surround the guests. All gentlemen and ladies in their elaborate colored dress robes are slowly being herded into the next room, where the main festivities are being held.

The party hall itself is decorated similarly to the foyer, only there's a warm dimness to the room. The only sense of illumination are the fireflies that float safely above the crowd. It's light reaches up the high, ornate ceilings and sending a glow out of the tall windows. Tables are arranged around a dance floor, where a live band plays the top magical hits of the day.

Still very much getting back into the swing of the London social scene, and indeed, European wizarding circles in general, Donald is taking full advantag of this particular do being hosted on such familiar territory. Sipping from a glass of something, that this early in the evening at least, is likely to be wine he swaps small talk and anecdotes with various familiar faces, moving slowly from small group to small group as he shakes hands, catches up and generally hobnobs his way around.

The annual Sykes gala is never to be missed, particularly not by the likes of Encedalus Malfoy and his beautiful (and much younger) wife, Eurydice. While the Malfoy family patriarch makes the rounds, meeting and greeting the heads of other prominent pure-blood families, Eurydice lingers behind, speaking words of encouragement to their son, Abraxas. Not that the platinum-haired youth needs much encouragement. It takes a lot more than a big crowd to cow the proud young man. But only when Enceladus finally drifts into the party hall do his wife and child follow suit.

In company with her parents very public, very purist, very Grindelwald supporters, Lea Rashley had arrived as severly dressed as usual. Robes traded away beneath the neat handling of the Sykes help, so that all that remained was dress and stole, as the young woman made her way deeper into the room.

At the moment, there was a glass of champagne in her hand, while she stood at the elbow of her father, participating in a rather engaging debate over…, "They should be boycotted. Not just one of them, but all of them. To continue to patronize businesses such as that, is to invite them deeper into our society and reward those who encourage them to mingle and further dilute our bloodlines." Encouraging murmurs rippled through the group, while others hemhawed in silence or kept their opinions to themselves.

"The world must know we're serious. From younger students to the eldest and most esteemed among you. If such voices were raised together, half measures won't do. If they did, we would have seen the fruits of such efforts. We should have a more organized effort.." the young woman trailed off, the glass cradled close, even if she didn't drink it. Bubbles. Lea didn't like bubbles, but the effect of glass in hand made her, to her mind at least, more approachable.

In a fashion and style that should only be expected of someone of the upper echelon, arrives a particular trio of well-dressed youths. It's Andromena Rowle, linked arm-in-arm with Alphard Black. At her other side is Anthony Rowle. They are escorted indoors with the same manner of professional servitude as all other guests; their winter robes taken at the door to be hung up elsewhere, and asked if they are in need of anything before being led into the next room where the rest of the attendees could be found.

Along the way there was, of course, several individuals that approached them to say hello. Fellow students, various cousins that aren't always around to keep close tabs on, as well as an adult or two that had this reason or that to schmooze with any member of the Black family. Andromena kept her smile serene, let her hand be taken, shaken and kissed, and endured it all with angelic grace. Social niceties had to be observed, no matter how very trifling they might feel! Once free of that crowd, the trio would find themselves squarely within the center of the room. They'd come through the gauntlet. Or at least one of them.

Rather than coming in from the front door, Shelley is coming down from the grand staircase, walking beside Jocunda Sykes. Both women had spent the afternoon upstairs, helping each other get properly coifed for the gala, and complaining bitterly about how they'd rather be tearing around the property on brooms. Still, they'd managed to make themselves look quite presentable. Shelley has her hair pinned up for once, everything neatly in place. She wears dress robes in a flattering shade of blue that makes the red tones in her hair shine out - a fascinator clipped into her hair in a matching blue highlights the affect. A chocolate brown feather in the fascinator, and chocolate brown trim to her clothing adds richness and hints of warmth.

"I keep telling you - I am /not/ going to dance, Jo," the auror mutters out of the corner of her lips as they step down the last few steps, to smile at the other party-goers.

Down the marble foyer steps emerges Ria Sykes shrouded in gold silk. Her arm is linked around the arm of her younger brother Garrett, who is likewise dressed quite dapper for the evening. Like a pair porcelain dolls, the siblings are on their best behavior and are putting on their best airs as they walk through the crowd. "Uncle Donald!" Ria brightens upon seeing her uncle. She gives him a peck on each cheek whilst Garrett gives him a firm handshake. "It's been a while. How are you doing?" his niece asks.

Anthony accepts a glass of champagne wordlessly. He's given the odd firm, manly handshake as they ran the gauntlet, although the very alert eared might hear him murmur to his cousin beside him, "I do believe that chap was trying to break my fingers."

Alphard could be well behaved. Usually it meant being in the company of one of mommy dearest, but also in anyone that his gossipy pureblood mother wanted to impress. This party in particular meant a host of such people. Though he arrived with Meanie on his arm, it wasn't long until he was shaking hands and kissing cheeks. He wasn't the only Back present, either. And of course that meant drawing his girlfriend along so that she could meet (most of them again).

"Come on, Anthony. He was just being friendly. Stop being such a sissy." Alphard told Anthony, having caught the whisper. Spying Lea he lifted his hand, offering a polite and regally lose wristed wave. "Lea." And he'd drag Andromena (and Anthony by belated proxy) along with him. He'd offer to shake her father's hand like an old friend. Because, well, it never hurt to schmooze. This was how one got ministry jobs. Smiling, pretending (or believing) that everybody were friends. "Do you know Andromena Rowle?"

Donald pases mid story as he hears his name called out by a familiar voice and turns to greet his niece and nephew with a warm and welcoming smile. Ria gets a hug, if she'll allow it, and since Garrett is being all grown up and manly he simply gets a firm handshake in return. "It must have been a while yes," he notes agreeably, "for I am sure that when I left the pair of you were oly knee-high to a house elf!" An exaggeration of course, but they do seem to have grown while he wasn't looking. Another sip of his drink and he beams a broad, friendly smile, "all the beter to be back home once more, although I fear the plan to return in winter was not one of the smartest. The climate is quite dissimilar. How about the pair of you? Still studying hard?"

Lucian Proudmore has been one of the more innocuous attendees, having no date, and in spite of the presence of his father and stepmother, he has yet to be seen anywhere in their vicinity. The young man is dressed in a very expensive-looking set of dress robes of sleek jet black, fashioned of worsted wool, complete with a white bowtie and waistcoat. In the outer breat pocket is a rich red pocketsquare with a classic paisley pattern. A barely noticeable touch is a pair of gold cufflinks in the shape of lion's heads. The first interest he shows in anything beyond the cup in his hand is when Ria and Garrett descend into the foyer. He catches himself staring, but doesn't even look away when he takes a long drink for courage, setting the cup down and starting to weave his way through the crowd toward her.

As Shelley and her friend stroll towards the hall, they too are forced to stop frequently, shaking hands. Shelley loses count of how many times she is introduced - how many social nicities she is forced to endure, though she finds that Jocunda usually has something to whisper in her ear a moment later. In one particular case, Jo times it precisely for when she had just taken a sip of champagne, and Shelley is forced to hastily swallow and smother her laugh, before giving her friend /a look/.

Variel is wandering the same rough orbits as Alphard and Andromena, though at a slower pace, taking his time to chatter with each of his schoolmates and, if they're around, their family. Lea Rashley and her family are greeted cheerfully, her parents lauded for the sheer talent of their daughter and her brilliant tutoring, not to mention the trip to Venice

Quite a number of the House of Black are in attendance, not the least of which are Sirius and Hesper Gamp. While Hesper makes the rounds among the ladies of pure-blood high society, Sirius joins the side of his good friend and Headmaster of Hogwarts, Gervase Flint. "I never thought I'd be saying that it's good to see you outside of work, my friend."

Flint gives a droll chuckle, shaking Sirius's hand. "How could I miss this? Arlo has promised to honor the Magijugend. This is the sort of public legitimacy our young witches and wizards need."

Variel is wandering the same rough orbits as Alphard and Andromena, though at a slower pace, taking his time to chatter with each of his schoolmates and, if they're around, their family. Lea Rashley and her family are greeted cheerfully, her parents lauded for the sheer talent of their daughter and her brilliant tutoring, not to mention the trip to Venice, Alphard and Andromena praised again for their party, Anthony is given a clap on the shoulder and an unspecified thanks, and so on, stopping to greet anyone he recognizes.

Of course Ria's uncle gets nothing short of a warm hug as she brightly laughs. "Yes, well I don't think I have much growing left to do, though I don't doubt Garrett here has quite ways to go." Speaking of Garrett, he's wandered off soon after the handshake to join a couple of other young men to talk quidditch and whatever young men think of these days. "Oh but if you returned any later you would have missed out on the Gala! And perhaps an opportune candidacy for the International Confederation." Her head tilts as she smiles at her uncle knowingly. Arlo keeps his daughter well informed. "I'm doing well otherwise. Just finishing up my final year. NOthing special."

Unlike some of the more uniformly pro-Grindelwald pureblood supporters here, Edgar's parents split in their opinion of the wizard; his mother, a Goyle, supports Gellert's endeavors whole-heartedly and dresses accordingly, with all the colors and jewelry a true supporter of the movement would sport in such occasions. His father, on the other hand, agrees with tne sentiment but questions whether the agenda truly is for 'the Greater Good'; he is dressed in darker, more subdued colors. The robe is a few shades darker than blood red and black, for instance.

Beside them are their five children. The eldest, Edgar, looks remarkably uncomfortable in the shadow of such imperious relatives and distinctly hurries his step once past reception to join any group of Hogwarts students that he knows. The other four are less… independent, shall we say. They remain obediently near the patriarch and matriarch.

Anthony mutters something softly. It's in Ancient Greek, and probably not entirely complimentary to Alphard. Variel, on the other hand gets his hand pumped, and the thanks returned with a grin, and mumbled 'Sorry. And anytime'. Tony seems to be going a bit relaxed on his chaperoning duties, for he drops back a little to give the couple of A's a bit more space.

"No," Zack says to one of the hired staff who tries to offer him a drink. "I don't want that. I don't like it. It won't taste good. There are never drinks that taste good at parties." Having been brought along by his parents, he now stands by himself in the middle of the hall, looking quite lost amongst all of the other guests. He wears a set of magnificent dark blue robes, accented by lighter shades, and he seems to have been forced to comb his hair, because it actually looks presentable today. He steps back and forth, trying to avoid being bumped into as he tries to figure out what he's supposed to do and where he's supposed to go.

Andromena gave Anthony a very faint shrug. Some men had gripped her hand too hard as well, but she reasoned it was because they clearly weren't paying any attention to the fact she had the slim, delicate hands of a woman as opposed to a bear's paw! Mayhaps they just did not recognize the strength of their grip. She motions for Anthony to keep up as she and Alphard slip through the gathering crowd to Les Rashley and her parents.

The young woman, clad an elegant affair of lilac-colored silk, is very good at pretending. Oh yes, she was just so pleased to see you again. Or perhaps make your acquaintance. Why, she even remembered details that might not be expected, proving to be far more socially adept than someone from Hogwarts might otherwise assume. Andromena could laugh when was appropriate, frown in serious consideration - typically mirroring the attitude of whomever was currently holding her attention like some kind of emotional chameleon.

"Good evening, Lea," she greets just before giving the same pleasantry to the other girl's parents. At least Lea was someone with whom Andromena could give more attention than common courtesy required of her. Anthony is given a brief, parting glance when he moves toward Variel.

Eric Rashley was a stauch man in his prime, with a head of black salt and pepper hair and the kind of smile that much like his daughters, never seemed to be pleasant, lest something dark loomed on the horizong. But he seemed to find the Black boy pleasant, or so his handshake his smile proclaimed. The man himself easing back from the conversation while his daughter, who'd noticed and offered a faint nod to Alphard, continued her line of thought.

"There should be a petition," and there, Lea wrangled to draw Alphard into the conversation, "The poor diluded boy who accosted our own dear Alphard should be given credit for a fool's inspiration, at least. But, if we organized a petition, for all of the families vested in participating in the boycott and sent it to the Ministry, perhaps we may see something more fruitful come from it. It isn't as if there aren't enough among you who could benefit from the rise of business. The masses are as sheep, gentlemen. They simply need be herded."

A thought to pause on, at that because Lea saluted the assembled with her glass and turned to offer a ghost of a smile to Black. "Alphard," her greeting was warm, for the familiar. "Andromena." And moderated for those with whom such familarity was missing. And it came just in time for Eric turning the same engaging smile towards Andromena. "Young Lady," a proper gentlemen, if given the chance he'll offer a bow of her hand. "A pleasure to meet you." To the Weasley, the Rashley's were far more reserved, Ysbail in particular casting Variel a look that suggested she hadn't yet decided his worth and thus, offered no warmth that might include him into their circle.

Spotting Zack through the crowd, Shelley murmurs something to Jocunda and slips away, going towards the strange young man to link arms with him. "Why, we match this evening, Zack," she comments brightly on their color choices. "I see you're sticking to my advice. That's good." She pats the man on hand flashing him a smile. There may be a faint undertone of amusement in her eyes or her voice - but she trusts Zack to miss it entirely.

"I'm sure they could fetch you some tea or water if you liked, though," she adds, in a moment of genuine helpfulness.

Arlo and Perdita Sykes are dressed to their absolute best, both carrying the glow that good hosts and hostesses only carry. They are chatting away with Arcadius Lestrange as Arlo's eyes scan the room, almost in a predatory way.

Sternly instructed NOT to give the couple a bit more space, Tony gives Variel a slight uprolling of eyes, and a showing of palms, and he turns, plastering on a smile, to meet their hosts, complete with the chance for more firm handshakes, and to say hello to Lea, whom again he recognises with a more natural smile.

"Final year, already?" Donald replies, still smiling broadly, "my, time has flown hasn't it. I'm afriad your father did try and tell me what your plans were for after, but I insisted on hearing them from yourself when there was chance. So tell me, should I be watching my back lest my brilliant young niece sweep her way into the ministry and secure all the best postings, or have you set your sights elsewhere?" She gets a wry smile as she mentions his own ambitions then "It would have been foolhardy indeed to miss such a splendid gathering, and I do not believe your father would have ever forgiven me is I had even briefly considered doing so."

Lucian stops short of entering Ria's circle just yet. Rather, he places himself within her line of sight, trying to catch her eye. He glances to her uncle, lifting his brow questioningly at her, subtly gesture from himself to Donald.

A spring of mistletoe comes to hover above Zack and Shelley. And it seems intent to remain there for the time being.

Rhyeline keeps close to Cassius Malfoy's side as he leads her into the party hall. The girl's eyes shine with quiet wonder as she gazes up at the fireflies drifting overhead. For the occasion, the girl wears a silk dress the color of newfallen snow. Lace like layers of frost graces her bodice. Like stars in the night sky, little diamonds pin her dark curls in an elegant arrangement before they are allowed to cascade down her back.

Almost at once Cassius and Rhyeline are greeted by a politician who requests a private word with her suitor. With a devoted affection, Cassius brings Rhyeline's hand to his lips to place a gentle kiss across her knuckles before he heads off. With a subtle blush warming her cheeks, Rhyeline clasps her hands behind her back and begins to drift through the crowd.

The mistletoe gives a little shake, which makes it jingle, because someone wrapped a bell around it. Very thoughtful, whomever it was.

"I can assure you that my family never purchases anything from those businesses run by politically active lessers." Alphard told Lea and her parents with his usual nose-in-the-air routine. "I'm not sure about a petition, really, but something organized to make the point wouldn't hurt. You know, aside from the Army of Truth vandalism. And while I sympathise with their cause, I'm not all sure their methods are the best."

Eying Lucian, Alphard began to grimace. His lips curled and he was just about to say something cuttingly cruel and belitteling, when he remembered something. So instead he sighed, ran his hands through his hair, and turned back to Andromena instead. "I suppose we should give our best to our hosts. Look, mama" said in the most snobbish possible way, "is already on her way. We don't want to be slow in showing our respects."

To the Sykes, Variel raves over the party and its organization. He's donned a subtly altered version of a tunic and trouser suit he's plucked from Grindelwald's public garb, tucked closer to his lanky form than the older wizard's more adult form. The cool reception is taken gracefully and in no way chills his greeting before he moves on.

Zack stares at Shelley as she takes him by the arm. "I always wear blue robes to parties," he tells her. "It's the reason I agree to go. But I might wear green next time. If I get nice green robes. Only there won't be a next time if I have my way. You're holding my arm. Why are you holding my arm?" He looks around the hall, thinking he may have spotted Rhyeline, but then he hears the jingling mistletoe above him and looks up with a distracted frown.

Ria nods affirmatively at Donald. Final year indeed. "I've thought over a couple ministry openings, only I have so many options available to me I can't decide. There are quite a couple things I qualify for." Is she bragging? She's probably bragging, but she's trying her best to hide it under terrible false modesty. Over Donald's shoulder she catches a glance of Lucian, her red lips press together. "You'll have to excuse me Uncle Donald. Mum and Dad will kill me if I linger on you all night, since you have so many exciting stories about Egypt I know that won't be difficult."

An affectionate squeeze on her uncle's shoulder and Ria makes her way over to Lucian until Arlo Sykes comes out of nowhere and intercepts his daughter, throwing a cold look to the bastard Proudmore. "Come and say hello to the Carrows, Aria," he instructs, directing her in the direction of Edgar and family. Ria however throws Lucian an apologetic look.

Andromena returns Eric Rashley's smile, even if it could be construed as notoriously frosty, it didn't impede him from acting a proper gentleman! She returns his kindness with a smile of her own, murmuring that she was glad to have met he and his lovely wife on such a fine evening. The conversation, much more a debate, really, is one Andromena does not allow herself to become involved in if only because Alphard is directing her attention elsewhere.

"Of course not," she said in agreement. Andromena does not fail to notice the grimace that passes over Alphard's features, though it's not something she intends to bring up. No, much better to go and greet their hosts for the night and admire Ria in her fancy gown! Also, it really was a good idea not to let precious mama think they weren't doing their duty, right?

Shelley has noticed the mistletoe - but she prefers not to acknowledge it. "Ignore that. If you kiss me, I will step on your toe," she says in a sweet voice. Sure - she told him once that she's an auror, and she'll protect him and never hurt him. This is /different/.

"Oh, isn't that Miss Diderot?" she adds. "I'm sure you'll want to say hello." She starts to lead them both across the hall, ignoring his question about her gentle grip on his arm - and with luck, leaving the dasterdly mistletoe behind. "I think green would suit you. Though I have to agree," she leans in towards Zack to whisper, "Parties like this are simply /ghastly/."

The mistletoe follows both Zack and Shelley as they attempt to flee. No quarter will be given. In fact, it begins to jingle furiously as it trails after them. If Zack is not careful in where he stands, it will float over he and Cassius.

Lucian took a step toward Ria, only to freeze in place at the sudden arrival of Alro. Merlin, was the man invisible? He sighs, giving Ria a rueful grimace. But he is startled out of the moment by a heavy hand on his shoulder. Turning, expecting to see Arlo somehow behind him, he blinks in surprise to see not Ria's father, but his own.

Actaeon Proudmore gives Lucian a cool smile. "Well, that was interesting. Hello, son." At Lucian's tensed jaw, he chuckles. "Now, let's not have a scene. I just wanted to express my congratulations to you on your admittance into the Magijugend. I'm told it's rather exclusive. It seems my lessons haven't gone waste on you."

"If I can be of any assistance in helping you come to a decision that you mustn't hesitate to ask," Donald replies to Ria, a proud smile on his features. Of course she has many things she qualifies for, she's a Sykes. As she makes to leave he gives her a brief and understanding nod, turning to watch her go, and perhaps, see what (or whom) it was that caught her eye so. Noting the presense of his brother he gives Arlo a nod, then follows the graze towards Lucian, filing his face away so that questions may be asked later, inprivate.

"I don't want to kiss you," Zack tells Shelley. "You're an Auror. Don't step on my toes. Yes, I do want to say hello. She's my friend. Where is she?" He lets her lead him across the hall, doing his best to avoid bumping into the other guests. But he's distracted by the mistletoe that follows them and wanders into several on his way past. "Stop following me," he says to the plant as though he expects it to understand him. "You're being obnoxious."

The Carrows seem overjoyed at being greeted by the hosts; Serena particularly is all smiles as they, too, approach the Sykes. Sabinus, in his own way, is friendly. Granted, militant pureblood families tend to get along smashingly well. "Arlo, Perdita. Quite a gathering you have!" Mister Carrow intones by way of greeting, offering to shake the Sykes patriarch's hand. Serena flashes Perdita a bright smile and promptly engages in smalltalk socialites are wont to follow their greetings with.

And Edgar, well, he still looks nervous. Especially since one look from his father keeps him from drifting away. Spotting Ria approach, he smiles at her and offers a nod. "Good evening, Sykes."

Does the mistletoe understand? It stops jingling, but doesn't go away. Not yet.

Rhyeline pauses at the sound of a bell. It's getting closer. A bit like a curious kitten, she looks around for its source. Cassius returns to her side and with a small smile of amusement, he directs her attention to the mistletoe hovering above Zack and Shelley. At once, when Cassius returns, Rhyeline draws close to his side. A subtle furrow appears between her brows when she catches Shelley holding onto Zack like that, even if she is bringing the distracted young wizard over. "Good evening…" she murmurs. She bites her lower lip when the mistletoe tries to position itself over Cassius and Zack.

"Mmm. Something different then," Lea agreed, with a dip of her head towards Alphard's insight. "A symbol." Whilst the gilded Eye of Truth caught her eye. "With a flyer, perhaps, to indicate which businesses were worthy and which weren't. Circulated amongst our own, of course." Which left Lea pondering another thought. One that had the girl's dark eyes sweeping out across the crowd in an attempt to see where she had last spotted Flint. While she mulled over whether enough enough parents coming to an agreement on the board might ensure that Hogwarts itself, became a participant in such a thing. It's own stocks and supplies coming from somewhere..appropriate. But then she caught Anthony on the approach and offered a polite dip of her head to the boy, while Alphard and his companion drifted further away.

Someone taps Cassius on the shoulder. He wants a word. And once again, Cassius excuses himself gently from Rhyeline's side. The girl nods, of course she understands. Hands clasped behind her back once more, she looks to Zack and Shelley.

"Perhaps something like that, yes," Alphard murmured to Lea with an appreciateive smile. Seeing as how the Sykes were busy with the Carrows, Alphard bit his tongue and proceeded instead to where Lucian was doing his completely undramatic talk with his father. "Lucian. Mr Proudmore." And his hand shot out, companioably as upper crust purists were meant to be. "How have your holidays been, Sir?" And Lucian got a nod and a smile as if they had always been the best of friends. RAther than complete antagonists for most of their years at Hogwarts. "Have you met Andromena Rowle?" Again to the father, an introduction only valuable bcause she was of the sacred twenty eight. She was of ourse dragged along with Alphard whether she wanted to be or not.

The younger set is out in full force tonight, to avail themselves of one of their last opportunities to play before being immured behind the crenelations of Hogwarts for another term; but pureblooded society is by its nature a multi-generational affair, and so is this gala. A quartet of older witches and wizards of ancient bloodlines and variously unpleasant personalities arrive all at once, having dined together beforehand (upon the family histories and scandals of the persons they supposed they would meet at the Sykes house) — one of them is Ismene Malfoy, nee Lestrange. From a distance she's the drabbest woman on the premises who's there to drink drinks rather than serve them; but close to, her black-upon-black robes and the black-upon-black 19th century gown beneath them resolve into unexpected opulence. With every breath she draws in, elaborately embroidered and jet-beaded serpents seem to writhe about her small, dignified, absolutely erect figure. She has been coming to parties here all her life. She knows where to find everything, including this generation's host and hostess, Arlo and Perdita Sykes, who may be relied upon to be on station just where Arlo's parents in turn used to stand to greet their guests. Formal greetings are offered and returned — those are the same every year, too — and then she moves on to the free booze, still trailed by one or two of her — not friends, but associates. Tradition is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Flint has remained in the company of Sirius Black, and the men have been joined by their colleague, Arcadius Lestrange, as well as Enceladus Malfoy. Quite the gathering of powerful men.

Anthony continues in his trailing after his cousin and her squeeze. This takes him to the Rashleys, who are politely greeted, "Anthony Rowle." Lea gets another little smile. He takes a slightly nervous sip of champagne, and then glances after the chaperoning duties, who are vanishing off again.

"Yeah - I sort of thought you might not get it," Shelley remarks with dry amusement. "It's a holiday party thing. When that plant is over the head of a pair of people - they're supposed to kiss. But I don't always do what I'm supposed to." She flashes him a brief smile. "I won't step on your toe," she pomises.

She's all smiles for Rhyeline as she approaches, releasing Zack's arm once they're close enough to talk - so that she can shake the hand of the woman and her date, of course. "Miss Diderot, I thought that was you. That dress looks absolutely lovely on you - it suits you. I happened across Zack, and he looked terribly uncomfortable - I thought it best to rescue the poor man."

Rescue. Right.

Actaeon arches an eyebrow at Alphard, and politely takes the young man's hand. "Ah, young Mister Black, isn't it? Happy Holidays to you. You're in the Magijugend with my son, aren't you? I read your rebuttal to that petition in the Prophet. Bold move, young man. I respect initiative like that. I hope you've been a good influence on Lucian here." He gives the boys a broad, feline smile.

If anyone were to touch Lucian in this moment, they might chip a nail, as tense as he is. He forces a smile, nodding to his father and Alphard. "Oh yes," he says tightly. "Alphard's been a definite influence." Despite the tension, there is a brief moment of gratitude in his look to his fellow Slytherin.

Ysbail Rashley offers a warm of calculated smile to the familiar Rowle, a polite dip of her head, while she ignores his family nervous streak and smiles. "Young Rowle, it is a pleasure to meet you." And of course, Eric shakes the young man's hand. Lea's polite, "Rowle," has an edge that's hard to pin towards welcoming or cruel and just as her mother starts, "How have your holidays been?" To question Anthony, Lea herself is offering an, "If you will excuse me," and weaving her way through the crowd towards the collective gathering of minds. Though Ria and her group were offered a rather warm, even for Lea, smile in her passing.

"Good evening, Gentlmen," Lea greets the group, upon arrival, as if such mingling were casually if politely expected, rather an intrusion.

The Sykes and Carrow parents are like old friends who haven't seen in so long. Arlo and Perdita are particularly doting upon Serena, but do treat Sabinus with courtesy as well. Any guest of the Sykes should be treated like gold.

Ria however turns to Edgar, giving yet another double cheek kiss, some of her lipstick wiping on the boy's face by accident. "I'm glad your family could make it out Edgar. You're looking very sharp," she smiles and grabs chaimpaign flute for both of them. "Be sure to enjoy yourself tonight, away from your parents watchful eye." It's then followed with a wink.

As the minutes wear on, the foyer becomes less and less occupied. Ushers begin gathering the remaining guests in the foyer and herding them into the hall, where the party is in full swing. The band is playing an up beat sort of fox trot, while the dance floor begins filling up.

Anthony shakes the hand offered, of course, and then dips over Ysbail's hand to kiss it politely. Of course, there is that… French… strain in that branch of the Rowles. "Enchante." And Lea gets a smile, "Of course. Later, perhaps?"

Andromena was more than content to be dragged along with Alphard. He was the thrust into conversation, even introductions, that Andromena would not otherwise seek out on her own! So again she is being introduced to someone's father, this time Actaeon Proudmore. With a quick glance to Lucian there seems to be the unvoiced deduction that all fathers were apparently alike. Insurmountable.

Anthony would be free to mingle or follow as he so chose! Andromena would not want him to feel as though he had to stick to her heels, but neither would his presence be overlooked. Of course, all that he could expect currently was tension shared between three separate males all seeking to be alpha in one way or another. Andromena wisely kept quiet.

"Yes, I know that," Zack tells Shelley. "I'm not going to do it though. I don't care if it's tradition." He continues to watch the mistletoe and doesn't notice that they've reached Rhyeline until they come to a stop, but the mistletoe continues to distract him. "Don't kiss me," he informs Cassius as the man heads off to talk with someone. "Yes, good idea. Go somewhere else." He turns to Rhyeline. "There you are. I came to say hello. Look out for that plant. It followed me across the room." Then a thought seems to occur to him and he quickly looks away.

The mistletoe lowers a little, now more over Rhyeline and Zack.

Rhyeline brings a hand up to hide her smile, trying not to giggle when Zack tells Cassius not to kiss him in such a matter-of-fact tone. Noticing the mistletoe hovering over her and Zack now, the subtle blush in the girl's cheeks deepens. The girl looks as if a nargle is about to jump out of it at her. She takes a small step to the side, trying to sneak out from under it.

"Yes, Sir. I have been in the Magijugend from the very beginning." Of course with the mention of Alphard's rebuttal in the Prophet, the boy was all coy smiles and not-quite-sucessful modesty. "I felt it was necessary to give our community an informative correction on the publicity that the Prophet seemed all too eager to perpetrate. For the Greater Good, of course." He looked towards Lucian. "Lucian has been.. very helpful, in promoting our cause since he joined." Let nobody say Alphard didn't live up to his word. As long as he actually gave it.

"Well, I'll hope to see you later, but I see my mama there coming to say hello to our hosts, and I suppose it'd be terrible of me if I didn't come join her."

Shelley has decided she has had quite enough of the mistletoe. Being a girl to never travel without her wand, she reaches through a pocket, and pulls out her wand. She gives a simple flick and a brief word, "Finite," before putting the wand away again. "Bothersome thing," she mutters quietly.

Actaeon smiles, gesturing graciously to Alphard. "Of course. Give your mother my regards, Mister Black. Miss Rowle," he nods politely again to Andromena. When they've moved off, he gives Lucian a shrug. "You could benefit from that sort of forward thinking, Lucian."

Indeed, Sabinus does not mind that they dote upon his wife; in fact, if it makes her happy, then perhaps it pleases him as well. And certainly where one is treated with courtesy, likewise shall they be treated back. The Carrows make for wonderfully charming guests.

His face a light shade of red after Ria's double cheek kiss, to which he replies with one of his own, and then one upon the back of her hand, Edgar doesn't seem to notice that there are lipstick marks on his face at all. After a moment he manages to make a reply to her compliment, "Thank you, Ria. Needless to say, you look quite gorgeous." And taking the champagne flute she grabs for him, he flashes her an uncertain grin at the remark and subsequent wink. "I will do my best in that regard."

Ria looks rather pleased when Edgar kisses her hand. She extends her hand forward, letting him do so without any shame. In fact, Ria takes a casual sip of champaign as he does so. "Deeply appreciated Carrow. Must look the best for my own party." And usher comes by gesturing Ria and Edgar to the hall. It is then she extends her arm out for her housemate to take. "Edgar, would you mind escorting me to the hall?"

Zack looks rather uncomfortable as the mistletoe moves to hang over him and Rhyeline. "Stop it," he tells it. "That would be inappropriate. Especially when her suitor's here. Go be traditional somewhere else." His brow furrowed, he turns back to his friend and notices that she isn't saying anything. "Oh, don't you like parties either? I don't know why they have them. They're not very fun."

Finally free of his father, Lucian starts to try to maneuver through the crowd toward Ria again, only to catch sight of her offering her arm to Edgar. He clenches his jaw, and his hand goes to the silver Eye of Truth hanging from his neck. With measured steps he makes his way quietly behind them toward the hall.

The mistletoe drops to the ground in an instant, and is subsequently tramped under heel by a passing partygoer. Unfortunately, its departure means the arrival of another. Only it does not return to the beleaguered trio. It seeks new victims.

Andromena bids the Proudmore pair something of a farewell as she and Alphard are once more on the quest to reach Ria, who is now getting further and further away! As the two of them are walking, Andromena happens to spy another guest. Upon doing so, she leans in to whisper something to Alphard, and then they, too, are being ushered out. What point was there in remaining, when the party was so obviously headed elsewhere? More importantly, it was where the hosts were going.

Alphard arrived alongside his mother Irma Black, just behind the Carrows. Of course he kissed her cheeks, and let Andromena give her hellos as well. Whether his mother really approved of his girlfriend, at least she hadn't made a huge fuss about it. At least the Rowles were of the sacred twenty eight. Then they were just part of the crowd waiting to make polite conversation with the Sykes before being ushered on. He gave Edgar a friendly upnod, too, when he noticed his friend.

"Hrm" He murmured to Andromena, then followed her gaze in the direction of Rhyeline. He couldn't quite help his wry smirk.

Lea, having arrived at Sirs Flint, Black, Lestrange and Malfoy, offers the gathering an easy smile, polite, but as with most things about the girl, fails to warm her eyes. The dance floor tempts her none at all. Instead, with the knowledge that her inital greeting may well have been lost in the crush, the girl greets, "Ah, such esteemed gentlemen and the perfect collection of minds of whom I would very much love to pose a question as I can think of no greater persons who may direct my path than your own." She could be charming when she wanted to be. This seemed just such an occasion for it. "If of course, with your forgiveness and permission, I might impose upon your time." The way the young woman delivered the question, was with a poise angled towards the hall to which they were ushered, suggesting that she could walk and talk at the same time, if the group but cared to indulge her.

Cassius returns just in time to catch Zack's words. With a smile, he agrees that it would be most innapropriate. He offers Rhyeline his arm. The little slips her hand into the crook of his elbow and draws close to his side. It would seem that Cassius would like to go and greet the hosts of tonight's gala before he is called off for yet another private word. With a small nod, Rhyeline lifts her chin with a subtle elegance. "Please excuse us," she murmurs to Shelley and Zack with a small, graceful nod, before she allows Cassius to lead her away.

Rhyeline and Cassius approach Arlo Sykes and the others with him. At the polite moment, Cassius steps forward and greets them with the charismatic ease only a politician can muster. Rhyeline dips into a curtsy with the grace of a ballet dancer.

Variel keeps flitting between the recognized companions left in the foyer, though that number is quickly diminishing. He does his best to subtly avoid the ushers as long as possible, a losing proposition at best. He ends up angling towards Lea, not quite realizing to whom she is moving to speak until he is nearer. Rather than insert himself into the conversation, he takes up an idle position nearby, one listening in on an open conversation rather than inviting himself, if only to forestall the ingress of the ushers.

Taking her arm as offered, Edgar flashes Ria another brief smile before replying with, "I don't mind at all, Ria. Shall we?" Something catches his attention in the periphery of his gaze but he doesn't quite react to it. Instead, when Alphard upnods in greeting, he returns the upnod with a friendly smile in turn. Then, looking towards the hostess and his housemate for a signalling that she is ready to depart, he starts towards the hall.

"What a charming boy," Ysbail Rashley replied, rewarding Anthony with that same sweeping smile; while Eric waited watching with amusement in his eyes while his wife, of all people, networked. "Where is your Mother? I should like to invite her over for tea at some point. Our families really don't get together as much as they should." Warmly offered, before Eric gestured the pair of them towards the hall, as the masses seemed to be shifting locations towards the hall.

And once inside the hall, Arlo and Perdita Sykes continue their rounds this time heading straight for Irma Black, who was clearly heading straight for them as well. It's a pureblood love fest! "Oh Irma how darling you look this evening!" Grey-ing blond Perdita greets the woman. "And my goodness is this Alphard! It's been quite a while since we've last seen you. You boys grow liked weeds.

Arlo on the other hand finds himself with Cassius Malfoy. "Ahhh Cassius. Did I ever formally thank you for taking my daughter on as an apprentice last summer?"

The four great men give their attention to Lea with varying degrees of amusement. First comes Flint's stern, "Miss Rashley." But it is Arcadius Lestrange that engages her most directly. "Ahh, Lea. I trust you've finished that holiday project I assigned?" He chuckles, waving dismissively. "I tease. Tell us what is on your mind. Gentlemen, let's walk." He offers an arm to Lea to escort her into the hall.

Anthony explains, "Oh, well, she has an awful lot to do, with getting Amber ready to go back to school, you see. And so on. So, whilst she would have _loved_ to come… as would Father, it's just not possible for them to leave Winchester at the moment, I'm afraid. Andromena and I are sort of being the family representation, I suspect. Unless the other Cousins are coming!" And he too, starts filing in towards the hall.

"Of course," Shelley agrees, nodding to Rhyeline as she is pulled away. She would loathe being so much at someone's beck and call.

Of course, it's at this moment that Jocunda reappears at Shelley's shoulder. "Shelley, you're leaving me all alone in there! What did I invite you to this party for, anyways?" the Quidditch start complains bitterly.

"Invite?" Shelley counters. "That's a hell of a word for it. She eyes the champagne she still has in one hand, and then looks back to her friend. "And can't you get me anything better to drink than this junk? Not for him, though," she nods her head towards the man still beside her. "Tea. Get him tea - and fast."

"Yeah, yeah, I'll get the elf on it…" And Shelley is all but dragged into the hall - with Zack perhaps still in her wake.

The mistletoe, that is, the new one, floats over several couples that smooch happily enough, before eventually coming to rest above…Variel.

Andromena gives Alphard's mother the proper greeting she is due. Of course, when Perdita Sykes begins to fuss over Alphard, Andromena cannot help but grin in amusement. Edgar is greeted by virtue of being nearby, but it is Ria that the young woman transfers the majority of her attention to.

"Ria," she chimes, flashing a bright smile. "I'm so glad you chose the gold dress over the other one we looked at." Because the pair of them had hung out over the break and spent an awful lot of time being frightfully girlie. It was a wonder they hadn't seen one another and squealed before engaging in a hug. One could probably thank the sophisticated atmosphere of the party for that.

Cassius places his hand in Arlo's strong grip, giving him a charming smile. "It was my pleasure, Arlo. Aria was an exceptional apprentice, and I hope you'll encourage her to seek career in law. She certainly has the mind for it. Arlo, I'd like to introduce you to my dear consort, Rhyeline Diderot."

Cassius adds, "Rhyeline, please meet Arlo Sykes."

Zack frowns when Rhyeline excuses herself and moves off with Cassius. "Oh, you're leaving," he says. "Okay." He seems unsure of what to do with himself now, but he looks around when Jocunda appears. "Oh, you work here?" he asks her, mistaking her for one of the staff when Shelley asks for a drink. "Yes, I want tea. With milk and sugar. But not too much sugar. No, don't put any elves in it. I don't like chunky tea. That sounds disgusting." He trails along after the pair since he doesn't know what else to do.

Variel more or less gives up his attempt to remain in the foyer as the conversation to which he'd intended to listen wanders towards the dance floor. Left with the option of accompanying an usher and remaining at the mercy of the wandering mistletoe, he takes the former, heading to the dance floor and ducking to one of the sides.

Zack earns himself quite a look from Jocunda for asking if she /works/ here, and then turns to Shelley disbelievingly. "I'm sure I /told/ you about Zack," Shelley remarks.


"Well then - I'm impressed at my professionalism," or they were both too drunk to properly recall the conversation. "Jocunda Sykes, Zack Fudge. Zack, this is Jocunda. She's in the /Sykes/ family. This is /her/ party."

Linking arms with Arcadius, Lea's fingers fall to rest against the top of his hand; a light touch, the pads of those digits playing over his knuckles but no lower to keep from infringing upon movement. "Headmaster Flint," Lea's greeting is as friendly as she's capable of, while Lestrange had earned a pleasant smile. What had happened to his wife? That would be a lovely family to marry into, particularly if she found someone with one foot in the grave. Ah well. "How cruel to tease me. You know how much I enjoy your lessons," the banter returned, the flute of champagne still cradled, but not yet sipped; the young woman measures her steps with ease to the taller Professor's.

"I am of a mind to attempt to lend what efforts I may to the world around me," ah, such humble beginnings. "And I am considering the endeavor of attempting a more uniformed boycott. I was hoping, that such fine men as yourselves may advise me and perhaps…suggest how many names and support from the Board may be required to see that the school itself might be moved to action. Of course, I understand such…feverant hopes may be beyond my reach but..," a light shrug. The idea out there, regardless.

Rhyeline carries herself with the most graceful poise as she gazes up at Arlo Sykes. Such a small, delicate creature, she only reaches to Cassius' shoulder. Had Cassius not introduced her as his consort, Arlo may well have mistaken her for a classmate of his daughter.

"Good evening, sir." Her delicate British accent bears a subtle hint of French. Should a hand be offered, Rhyeline would step forward and place her delicate hand in his with another graceful little curtsy.

Ria floats in to the hall on Edgars shoulder, smiling and nodding as she walks past her guests. But she stops to brighten and beam at Andromena. "Oh! Mena! You're here!" she pulls Edgar a bit closer in the girl's direction before relinquishing his arm and instead pulling her friend into a suffocating hug. "Edgar was just walking me in. Doesn't he look nice?" She presents Carrow to Andromena and then nods, "Yes, I'm glad you talked me out of the eggplant one. I feel very in theme with the holidays in gold."

Anthony looks over, as he strolls along, perhaps catching that faint french accent, but not managing to pin it down precisely. Then the waves of people sweep him up onto the shore near his cousin, where he doesn't care to interrupt, but instead gives polite nods and smiles as appropriate, with a slightly longer one to Ria, as a known face from School. Doesn't say much, does he?

Alphard gave Ria a brief kiss-kiss on alternate cheeks as he breezed in with Andromena on his arm. Relenquishing his date for the girlie-girlie attentions, he instead slid alongside Edgar, giving his mate a companionable slap on the shoulder. "Just escoring Ria?" He asked with a wry and very boyish smirk. "Seems I see you with a different pretty girl on the arm every damn time. Here I thought you were the quiet one?" Laughing, he turned towards Anthony, though it was still Edgar he was talking about. More quietly now, though.

Enceladus Malfoy perks up at Lea's mention of the Board of Governors, undoubtedly due to his position as Chairman of that board. "What sort of action did you have in mind, Miss Rashley? The school is largely self-sufficient. How would it participate in this boycott of yours?"

Zack doesn't notice the look Jocunda gives him, as he's busy peering about at all the people in the hall. But he does hear his name, and he looks round as he's introduced to the woman. "Hello," he says. "Oh, you own the whole party? Why are you only letting them serve drinks that taste horrible? Like the one Shelley has. It shouldn't be allowed."

It seems as though Ria is the one in the lead. Well, Edgar doesn't mind being pulled towards Andromena and Alphard, both being friends of his, and the Black being given a slap on the shoulder in return for his own, all very playfully. Smiling as the Sykes girl hugs the Rowle, he turns to Alphard and chuckles at that. "Sometimes being quiet pays off. Who knows, though." And he turns when his fellow Slytherin classmate does, nodding once to something he says and offering a quiet reply.

Jocunda stares at Zack for a moment, then once again back at Shelley. How could her friend /not/ tell her about this man, her gaze seems to beg. Questions will be asked later - that's for certain. "I'll see about getting those drinks for you," she promises, before being whisked away again.

"There are plenty of people who are perfectly fond of champagne, Zack," Shelley remarks as she ditches her glass on a passing tray. "I am simply not one of them. Is your father here today?"

Never one to miss a party, the jubilant Horace Slughorn emerges from his latest gaggles of friends — all alumni of his famous Slug Club. He carries his voluminous form with surprising agility, weaving through the crowd to approach Ria, wobbling toward her even after he stops. "Miss Sykes! My, your family has put on quite an extraordinary affair this year. Did you have a hand in the planning? I shall have to tap you for the next Slug Club event. Oh, hello, you're among friends. How rude of me!" He beams at all them with reddened nose and cheeks, and shows no sign of shoving off.

Andromena, after being relinquished from Ria's fierce hug, manages to give Edgar more than the cursory glance she had afforded him earlier. She nods, her mouth tugged upward in a slight smile as she says, "Edgar always manages to look pretty clean cut." And then back to Ria, letting the boys have their chance to chat because men needed such things, correct?

"It was really a lovely shade," absently said. "But I think…gold is your color. At the very least, you can pull it off!" Unlike some, who might just look like hastily wrapped foil. "I hope you're not kept too busy the whole evening." Since Andromena was aware that Ria likely could not spend too much time in any one place; she nevertheless wanted to spend as much time with her friend as would be allowed.

It is just about that time when Horace Slughorn arrives. Andromena shares a look with the older Slytherin. One could almost call it devious, except…Andromena was never devious.

The mistletoe returns to Zack yet again. This time it hangs over he and Jocunda Sykes. No preferential treatment here!

Except Jocunda departs. Now it's just Zack and Shelley again.

Proud and tall Arlo Sykes towers easily over Cassius and Rhyeline, not just because of height but also due to presence. "Enchante, Miss Rhyeline. Cassius and I may not see eye to eye on everything but he's of good blood," he says in his deep roaring voice to the two. And then someone taps on his shoulder, whispers into his ear and he nod. "You'll have to excuse me. Hostly duties. Please enjoy yourselves tonight," Arlo says and then disappears into the crowd with the individual who spoke to him.

"Of course, Amber," Ysbail murmurs, her smile easy, her inflection warmer than Lea herself could generally possess. "Still, you will give my regards to them I hope," the woman continues, though as the group shifts locations, the elder Rashley's attention drifts and they move on to fall into cue to speak a word or two with Alphard's Mother.

Lea, meanwhile, settled her attention on Enceladus Malfoy. "Oh it is not mine, Sir," the young woman demures, "Merely an attempt to spherehead direction on movements already in existance. And to be fair, I was not certain precisely where the school obtained all of the products that were used in it, from potion supplies to meals and cleaning. But the idea, is to uniform those who chose to withdraw their business from muggle born run establishments, or those that sell muggle wares. I had thought, perhaps, if enough members on your esteemed board were inclined to action, perhaps the school itself could be motivated to participate. A uniformed front. Your insight would be most invaluable." The latter, offered to the group at large.

Lucian keeps an eye on Arlo — not difficult, given the man's height. And when he is called away, he takes his chance to move closer to Ria and her gathered comrades. He nods a greeting to Slughorn and the rest. Even Alphard gets an individual nod.

"Okay, good," Zack tells Jocunda. "Tea. With milk and sugar. And no elves. She seems in a hurry," he adds to Shelley. "Oh. It must be because that plant thing's back." He frowns up at the mistletoe above him. "Maybe it thinks people aren't being traditional enough. Hmm? Oh, yes. He's here. And my mother. I don't know where they are."

Ria swishes around, lavishing in a bit of girly-ness in her gold dress. "You really think so? I really wouldn't have thought of it if you didn't suggest it," she grins quite proud of her frock. "Unfortunately I might be busy this evening. But I'll try to be around. Is Anthony here?" She looks around for the other Rowle until lo and behold! A wild Slughorn appears.

"Oh Professor! How wonderful of you to make it. I trust you've already gone to see Jocunda. I know you were quite fond of her." As the man is with many a noteable witch and wizard. "Please, Professor Slughorn. There's someone I'd like you to meet. My friend, Miss Andromena Rowle. She is quite a keen little witch, and she helps me with my charms work." Along with introducing Andromena, she leans forward for those ruby red lips to whisper something into Slughorn's ear. Something along the lines of - Alphard is quite attached to her, so I believe she's starting to gain much favor with the Black family. Shameless name plug.

Oh, but this is a glorious chance to -observe.- So many little telling observations to make as he wanders about. The way Mrs. Rashley asks after other students mothers, the way Horace cheerfully greets anyone of importance, the way Meanie slings looks with her companions. It's towards the latter two he heads, moving nearer to Slughorn, Sykes and Rowle.

Sirius Black chuckles, his resonant voice carrying above all others. "This young lady has moxie. It's a fair question, Enceladus. Not everything at Hogwarts comes from Hogwarts. Perhaps it is time for an accounting of the sources of our supplies."

Enceladus tilts his head in a gesture of concession. "It is fair to say that the near future may see shortages and economic difficulties. That alone is reason enough for an audit. It stands to reason that we might also examine the sort of people we are doing business with." He gives Lea a tight smile and a nod. "You have a keen mind, young lady. Watch this one, gentlemen. See that she leaves Hogwarts fully prepared to apply that mind for the greater good." With that, the Malfoy patriarch departs into the crowd to locate his wife, who is quietly speaking with his sister-in-law, Desdemonia.

But yes, as if by magic, the easily overlooked younger Rowle cousin joins the other, perhaps drawn by hearing his name, "Yes, I am here." And he dips a slight bow to Aria too, presumably with the capacity to kiss a hand if one is shoved in his general direction, or otherwise to just look a bit stooped.

Shelley considers asking Zack to introduce them - but she knows how that would go. The first things out of his mouth would be 'She's an auror.' "Point them out if you see them. No need for introductions." She smiles brightly at him.

Then she turns her attention on the mistletoe. "Do you think it'd be impolite to set it on fire?"

Variel is the one moving towards Slughorn and Sykes and Rowle, for the recond.

"Professor Slughorn," Alphard greeted the fat man with complete enthusiasm. "Nonsense," at him interrupting a meeting of friends. "We're always happy to see you, Professor." They were all Slytherins, anyway. Even if that particular status of club members eluded. Alphard was still standing next to Edgar, while at the same time he was close enough to Ria and Andromena to sort of part of their group.

He laened towards Edgar again, still whispering. Thouhgh doing it more subtly now, so that it wouldn't seem all too rude towards the professor attending them.

"Ah, mama looks like she wants to talk to me. I'll see you, Edgar." He nodded to everybody around, then dirfted towards his Mama. She absolutely had to make some introductions for her beautiful beloved son!

"Thank you, Mena," Edgar smiles at the compliment before paying attention to something Alphard comments to him. He furrows his brow, as though puzzled, and makes a hushed reply. Then Slughorn approaches and he shows the deepest respect for the Potions Master, nodding deeply and intoning a quiet 'Professor Slughorn'. When Alphard mentions his mother, he assents with another nod. "Of course." Lucian is being given what amounts to a very analytical stare for a moment or two. And he's back to his usual taciturn demeanor.

There is a distinct ringing of wine silverware clinking against a crystal glass. "If you could all take your seats, please." The deep authoritative voice of Arlo Sykes fills the room. No microphones. No sonorus charm. This is a man who needs no volume enhancements. As soon as he speaks, the room begins quieting down.

Dillorous Diderot, whose questionable ancestry was mostly a secret, but whose fame was anything but, was drifting around the crowd shaking hands like the upper crust schmoozer that he was. If his private positions had nothing at all to do with the public agenda of the party, he still shook hands and made friends. It was what the man did.

At some point he noticed his daughter Rhyeline, though, and made her a private smile. Perhaps even an invitation.

"I don't see them right now," Zack says to Shelley. He continues to watch the mistletoe as though he's a little afraid of it. "Yes. That would probably be impolite. No one likes being set on fire. I think it's just doing its job. Maybe you should kiss someone to make it go away. How about that man over there?" Without paying any attention to who the man is, he points to Horace Slughorn.

Slughorn brightens at the introduction to Andromena, and a touch more at the whisper in his ear, his mouth forming an excited 'O'. "Well, of course I know Miss Rowle. A professor cannot freget…forget…a face seen in his classes for years. You say she helps you with charms, Miss Sykes? Very impressive. Miss Sykes, you must bring her along to our next party, won't you? Very good. Ah! We are being summoned to sit. Delightful to see you all. Yes, yes…" Slughorn stumbles a bit as he wanders off to find his seat.

To seats, to seats. Variel heads off to find one himself, glad to no longer feel pressure to specifically socialize or dance. Easier to simply take in the events.

"Good evening to you, Sir. And please, keep me up dated?" Hopefully inquired after the departing Enceladus. No doubt he will find an owl within the week, sent to inquire. But Lea is also not the type to preen beneath the praise, it's a humble bow of her head, the kind of smile that lets his praise slide without gloating. Lea does not preen as a peacock may, the girl is a touch severe. And when the call for seating his made, as Lestrange was her escort, unless she's ushered away, she'll primly, silently sit with the gentlemen.

Shelley lets out a disappointed sigh - though at least Zack /realizes/ it would be rude. That's more credit than she would give him. "Try kissing my hand and see if it leaves," she suggests, before turning her attention towards the evening's host.

Donald had managed to find an old school friend amongst the ranks of visiting wizardry, but their remanisences are brought to a halt when Arlo speaks to the crowd. Polite, 'we really must catch up properly sometime's are exchanged and then he's off to his assigned seat, champaigne flute in one hand, the other taking' his wife's once they are reunited.

Once Cassius and Rhyeline have finished greeting the host, Arlo Sykes, Cassius leads Rhyeline away and asks if she would care for a flute of champagne. Peeking up at him, Rhyeline nods with a soft smile. Just as Cassius places a glass of it in his consort's hands, the voice of their host fills the room, asking that they take their seats. At once, Cassius leads Rhyeline off to find a place. Out of the corner of her eye, Rhyeline notices her father just in time to catch his smile. Her dark gaze brightens, and she returns his smile with a quiet, shy warmth.

In amongst the Malfoys and Blacks and Lestranges, Cassius and Rhyeline find their seats. Soon Cassius becomes engrossed in a conversation to his left. To his right, Rhyeline takes a small, silent sip of champagne. There is a place open on Rhyeline's right.

Once upon a time Ismene Malfoy and her husband Agrius were inexhaustible minglers and dancers upon these occasions — but since his death she has placed herself rather firmly in the camp of those who only look on. She and assorted other relicts and grand dames and one or two inconvenient cousins you have to have at these things but never know where to put, have been seated already for quite some time, drinking steadily and trading all the most barbed gossip, when the voice of Arlo Sykes rings out through his gaily-decorated domain.

Seeing as Lea has been declared a student of interest by the Chairman of the Hogwarts governors, the professors seem perfectly willing to allow her to sit with them.

Andromena gives the Professor her most charming smile. She might be appalled with herself on the inside, but none of it shows. "Oh yes, that would be lovely," she tells both Slughorn as well as Ria when he suggests she come along to his next party. Alphard is given a nod as he excuses himself for the moment, leaving Andromena with naught to do but take a seat as Arlo Sykes requests. A space beside her would be reserved for Alphard upon his return, while the other is given to her cousin Anthony. While Andromena suspected Ria would sit with her family, Edgar is invited to join them if he so chooses.

Ria quickly pokes Mena in the side to point at the infamous Dillorous Diderot. "I made sure my father invited him," she winks at her friend, gives Edgar a thank you hug and heads off to her seat. On the way she sneaks past Lucian and plants a creepy pinch on his bum. It's only when she's a few feet off does she turn over her shoulder to wink at her fellow prefect. Cheer up chum! She has greater plans for this evening.

Andromena does well not to gush over Dillorous Diderot. But she wants to. So badly. Ria truly is a good friend!

Lucian's eyes go wide at the unexpected goosing. He looks after her in shock, but at the wink, a broad smile shows. Cheered up, indeed! He moves off to find a seat, wherever there seems to be one available amidst other young folks wearing the Eye of Truth.

"Oh," Zack says, his brow furrowing when Shelley suggests he kiss her hand. "Maybe you should set it on fire. That would be easier. Oh, we're supposed to take our seats. But I don't have a seat." He wonders about in search of one, and when he spots Rhyeline with an empty chair next to her, he heads over that way. "I don't have a seat," he tells her. "Am I allowed to use this one?"

The mistletoe, as if agreeing with Zack, floats away…to hang over Horace Slughorn.

"As we all know, this past year has been a particularly hard one for the world and for our own kind," The Sykes Patriarch begins his speech on a somber note. "The decisions of our muggle government become more and more questionable everyday. And as they do, they jeopardize the safety of our people and our way of life.

For that very reason, I am proud to dedicate this evening to group of young people who have decided to stand against the climate of the times. Who are proud of their magical origins, and have made an open vow to hold and keep everything wizarding kind has held sacred for centuries.

I will now ask that Headmaster Gervase Flint and all members of the Magijugend please join me on the stage so that we can have a toast in their honor."

Shelley lets Zack wander off to join Rhyeline, and instead finds herself sitting with Jocunda, who presses a glass of what is definitely /not/ champagne in her hand. She takes a smell sip. "Mmm. /Much/ better. Thank you, Jo."

Meanwhile, a house elf tugs gently at Zack's robes, as he offers him a cup of tea - hopefully mixed correctly, to the man's specifications.

Rhyeline gazes across the room with a far away look, as if she'd been raised in a garden. However, upon hearing Zack's voice, the little one peeks up at him and can't help but smile with a quiet warmth. "Yes, please do…"

As the speech begins, Rhyeline looks off in Arlo Syke's direction, listening to with silent reserve.

Gervase Flint rises to light applause, receiving a firm handshake from Sirius Black. His expression is as stern as ever as he makes his way to the stage, and offers his hand to Arlo. "Thank you, my friend." He stands by Mr. Sykes's side, gesturing — more like jabbing a commanding finger — for the Magijugend to line up beside him.

Dillorous Diderot paid every attention to Arlo Sykes when the man started to speak. He had moved towards Rhyeline and Cassius whne they sat down, making his seat next to the two luminates.

Alphard made his way over when he was invited to do so, making sure that he was amongst the very center of attention. That was Alphard for you. Only sharing the spotight because be absolutely had to, and then only grudgingly.

"Okay," Zack says with a pleased little smile, happy that he gets to sit next to Rhyeline. He's about to sit down when the elf tugs on his robes, and he looks down at it in surprise. "Oh, the tea. Thank you." He takes it and sits down, but once seated he turns his head to frown at the elf. "You've still got all your fingers, right?"

While both of his own children have already left Hogwarts and gone on to start their own careers, Donald is sure that they would have joined the Magijugend had they had the chance. As it is though, he shall simply have to be terribly proud of his niece instead. He joins those applauding as Headmaster Flint stands, and continues to do so as the youngsters move to join him, turning his head to offer to the wizard sat beside him, "a fine future for wizarding I believe, a fine future."

Dillorous sat next to Zack. Since there was no spot next to Ryeline.

"Oh, no sir. Ever so kind of you to ask, sir, but no. I lost this finger years ago - it got in the way you see, sir, when Master Sykes was closing the door - quite unintentional I assure you. And this one, sir," the poor house elf indicates first one, and then another finger. "Well. The owl was in a fowl temper that morning. But thank you for asking!" And then he apparates away.

"That was a very lovely necklace that your son gifted our dear daughter," Ysbail Rashley was saying to Serena Carrow, making the kind of polite conversation that only motherhens seem capable of, with appropriate fawning over attire in the process. As well as children. That the Rashleys had sat near the Carrow's shouldn't have surprised some.

Lea, meanwhile, rose to her feet with the invitation from Flint and made her way upwards, to stand next to Alphard.

Rhyeline gazes across the room as the Magijugend take their places on the stage. She is distracted only when her father, Dillorous Diderot comes to join her and Cassius, taking the available seat on the other side of Zack. She pauses and offers him a small, shy smile. "Hello, father…" she murmurs in a hushed tone. "Zack… this is my father, Dillorous Diderot. Father, this is Zack Fudge… a researcher…"

Lucian begins to rise, only to find a pair of hands on his shoulders. To his surprise, two of the ushers have appeared behind him, and are applying pressure to keep him in his seat. "Get your bloody hands off of me," he growls warningly as he stands, showing perhaps more physical strength than they had expected. He stares down the two men for a moment, silently daring them to bar his path.

A quick 'you're welcome' hug to Ria and Edgar heads over to where his siblings sit. He is not Magijugend, after all, or at least, not yet. So he doesn't rise when the others do. What goes on with Lucian Proudmore draws the Carrow's attention, so he watches.

Andromena would have to moon-eye Dillorous Diderot another day. Because this evening, her attention is solely for her boyfriend - though she, too, did catch the…scuffle? Between Lucian and ushers.

There's the call and Ria must answer it. Like a beauty queen or cheesy politician, she gives a bashful grin to those around her as she rises to make her way to the front with the rest. Only, the Bulstrode's startled reaction draw her attention to Lucian and the two ushers. There's sharp scowl that forms on her face before she stomps on over to the struggle. "Excuse me," she says authoritatively to the ushers in a chilling manner that emulates her father's. With that she grabs, Luc by the hand and drags him toward the front along with all the other Magijugend members and Flint.

Variel grins as he sees those rising to join Flint on stage. The temptation to cheer, he swallows, but the approval shows on his face.

Zack stares at the elf, alarmed, and when it Disapparates he looks down into his tea with a frown. "There had better not be any fingers in here," he says as he sticks one of his own into the tea to feel. "Except for mine. Mine's allowed because it's still attached." He glances up at Rhyeline. "I'm not your father," he says absently, before he realizes that she's introducing him to someone and turns to look at Dillorous on the other side of him. "Oh, he is. Hello. There aren't any fingers in here." He pulls his own out and sucks the tea off of it. "Anymore."

Anthony watches the slight tustle with interest. He leans back slightly in his chair, his hands going up to stroke a chin which, for that gesture to really work for him, there should be a luxurious beard. Still, hirsute or not, he does stroke his chin, thoughtfully, keeping his own counsel.

Rhyeline can't help but grin at how Zack greets her father, Dillorous. But soon, the Magijugend gathering on the stage draw the girl's attention. Taking a small sip of chamagne, she gazes at them with a quiet reserve and perhaps even a subtle hint of caution.

The rescue by Ria bring an amused grin to Lucian face, and he gives the ushers a "helpess" shrug, and a smug smirk. He holds her hand as long as she'll allow, but knows it cannot last. Not with her father looking on. As they reach the stage, he adjusts his waistcoat, and tugs at his sleeves to make it quite obvious to somebody (Ria…duh) that he's wearing the gold lion cufflinks. He boy has never looked this good in his life, and he's fully aware of it.

Side by side, Shelley are listening, watching and occasionally whispering to each other - actions that periodically result in the pair hiding their faces behind their hands as they stiffle laughter. It probably wouldn't look good if one of the Sykes girls was to burst into laughter in the middle of her father's presentation - and Jo elbows Shelley in the side to remind her of that.

Dillorous eyed Zack like he had two screws loose. "Uh. Yes. Pleasure to meet you, dear chap." But his attention towards the man was brief and quite frankly rather dismissive. Instead he leaned over the man to give his daughter a slightly reserved hand pat, before he withdrew to give his attentions to the MAgijugend.

Alphard preened. There was no other way to describe him. He gave both Ria and Lucian a grin, before he soaked up the attention of the crowd. He tried to be cool, but even at his coolest he was still a puffed up and arrogant kid, spoiled and privilged and no hiding the fact at all.

Arlo Sykes is not too keen about the sense of familiarity between his daughter and Lucian. His sharp eyes follow the pair as they head on stage. But he'll deal with it later. After all the show must go on. Thus, he raises his champaign glass to encourage that others to do that same. "My esteemed wizards and witches, I give you the future of our kind, who will protect and honor the Truth." A higher raise of the glass, "For the Greater Good."

Mid-toast, all the lights go off - within the building, even outside of it. The party is shrouded in pitch black darkness. Confused murmurs ensue.

"GOODNESS!" Horace Slughorn's surprised voice pierces the darkness.

No one can see where the mistletoe is now!

"What's that?" Zack says to Dillorous. "Oh, yes. Nice to meet you as well." He sips his tea cautiously, unaware that there's a toast going on around him, and smiles when it tastes deliciously elf finger-free. Then it's suddenly dark and he says, "Someone's turned the lights off. That's annoying. It's hard to see in the dark. I might spill my tea."

Donald raises his glass to make the toast, but pauses once the lights go out, turning to his wife and muttering quietly, "I would have though dear Alro would have warned us if he was planning something like this." He is of course, hoping that this is some planned spectical, but he does very slowly and carefully lower his champaigne flute to what he thinks should be a blank spot on the table before using his now free hand to reach towards his wand. Just in case of course.

Variel doesn't want to jump the gun, especially in such esteemed society, but he slips his wand from the clever little metal holder under his jacket. He keeps it discrete, even in the darkness, easing his chair back. He's quiet, trying to pick something out of the chattering noise, but can't pick out boo.

Andromena is somewhat surprised, and finds her hand enclosed by Anthony's own. She can't see him just yet, but the touch seems to impart a sense of calm. No doubt this was all a (major problem for some poor unfortunate who was responsible) little hiccup in the evening's affairs. Horace's voice rings out, along with several others in the general vicinity. Is someone going to ever withdraw their wand and cast a light? Hopefully a man because they clearly had no idea the way a woman has to store her wand while wearing something like a form-fitting dress. Eventually, Andromena manages, voicing a soft, "Lumos."

Lucian seeks Ria's hand again in the blackness, hissing a whisper. "Did you know about this?" Ever suspicious, his other hand slips into his robes to clutch his wand. If nothing else, as a light source, if necessary.

Rhyeline lifts her glass, gazing across the room to the stage, just as Cassius does at her side. The moment the room is plunged into darkness, the little one gives a soft squeak of alarm. In the dark, she sets down her glass and searches for Cassius' hand.

Compared to Alphard's puffing, Lea was calm and collected, there was no preening. Just the modest stance of a girl who's hands were folded before the small of her waist as that toast was given. Though she turns her head to offer an equal smile to those standing in line as well. Ria, in particular earned the subtle warmth of her expression. For the Greater Good indeed, but then darkness falls and Lea's stance becomes a still one, alert, very much aware of the fact that those elbow length gloves hid the wand that was forever worn sheathed against her forearm and in the next breath, gripped firmly in her palm, though not drawn. The gesture so delicate that it merely looked like she'd shifted her touch, rather fell into preperation, provided one could see in the dark. Instinctively, she takes a step closer to Alphard. Enough to feel the outline of his arm at her side, at least.

Shelley was about to raise her glass - when the lights went out. She draws her wand, but does not light it - that would make her a target. No, no. She'll leave others to do that. Her glass is set under her chair after she eases out of it, and into a wary crouch.

"Lumos," given that Edgar is none too keen on this sort of surprise, the wand is drawn and held aloft as quickly as he can muster, looking around. Although he knows that if this is any sort of pleasant surprise, he probably helped ruin it.

"Oh dear me," said Dillorous, and immediately stretched an arm across the back of Zack's shoulders to reach for Rhyeline's neck. An instinctual and quite uncharacteristcally intimate gesture of protectve worry. Rather than call out a Lumos, the man trusted someone else would. No reason to call attention to himself while someone else was sure to light the place up.

Alphard reacted instinctivly. Darkness provoked the memory of an enclosed basement space, of spiders, of fear. Not really realizing what he was doing, he was suddenly behind Lea as soon as she drew against him. Usinng the slight blonde as his flesh cover, though subtly so. It wasn't obbvious, but it was defetinly none the less happening. His wand was slipping out, again quite by instinct as his fear bubbled in his chest like some terrible geysir.

"I…I don't know…," Ria frowns in the dark, finding Lucian's hand with a squeeze. Her free hand too reaches for her wand that is somehow still available on her person. I don't. Some wizard hiding technique or seomthing.

With so little light, Variel lifts his wand above his head and murmurs, "Lumos Maxima." A brilliant orb of light swells in the air above his table, more of a general light source than merely meant to provide him with vision.

"You do not know?" Lea's question was aimed towards Ria, though with the way she felt Alphard slipping /behind/ her, the coward, her stance became one that was protective as well and this time, her wand did come out. But no light was conjured, instead, she used the glow of others to stare out into the darkness and what benefit the shadows granted to ensure the dear Black stayed safe. But there was..decided sense of glee in her eyes, subtle but there. One that fed off the flutter of fear. "Alphy, please try not to wrinkle my dress."

Rhyeline flinches with sharp little squeak when she feels the hand upon her neck, but she stills upon recognizing the touch. And when Cassius' hand finds hers, she calms further. The darkness is most probably simply a part of the night's drama.

Such fine, upstanding young people, the Magijugend. Less revolting than the rest of their ilk, when they keep their proper distance, for instance when they are arranged upon a stage, neatly washed and brushed… Ismene Malfoy and her cronies look on and murmur approvingly whilst the flower of pureblooded youth is displayed before them. And then — nothing. The room is as black as her frock. By the time she's drawn in her next breath, her glass is on the table in front of her, her walnut wand is out of her pocket and held close against her side, pointed up, and she has calculated the number of paces between her and the nearest exit and how many potted plants and similar items will have to be avoided. (The Sykeses, naturally, have an Anti-Disapparition Jinx.) She doesn't move yet, however; she breathes as quietly as she can, and listens.

The various lumos and lumos maxima do manage to illuminate the room, but there seems to be a certain heaviness to this dark shadow. As if the combined light is being contained to the small geography of that room.

"My, my, my. Look at all these eggs, gathered in one basket. Dressed to the nines. Don't they all look so beautiful?" A raspy mocking voice echoes in the hall. Loud and crisp for all to hear. But where is it coming from?

"Rotten eggs." A sharper, more vicious voice chimes in. "Eggs holding on to a dying world. Eggs that can't smell their own festering stench."

"Indeed. Look at this pathetic lot. Pure-Bloods they call themselves? No room for mud like us?" A third voice joins the chorus. "What do you think we should do with these Eggs?"

There is a long pause before one last voice contributes in a menacing tone, "Break them all."

Well. This is not good. "Jo, get out," Shelley urges her friend quietly.

"No bloody likely," is the muttered response.

"There are kids here. Get /them/ out," Shelley suggests in a sharp but quiet voice, her gaze searching the darkness for some sign of whoever has decided to crash the party. That request is, of course, a little harder to argue with.

The doors shut with a distinct BANG. Snapping sounds indicate that the windows have locked themselves.

Cassius pats Rhyeline reassuringly. "Don't worry. I'm sure it's fine. It's-…" Those voices in the darkness, however, suggest it is not fine. There is only the slightest tension in his touch, and then suddenly his hand is jerked from Rhyeline's as he stands bolt upright, arms and legs locked together, and in the dim light, those near can see his stiff form suddenly lift off of the ground to levitate above the crowd.

Alphard can feel it, even if it's harder for the others to see. The sudden tension that snaps through Lea's frame, the shuffle of her feet as her ankles clicked together into place. The way her arms fell straight in against her sides; wand aimed uselessly down towards the floor. Then Lea was moving, upwards, rather than outwards. Her jaw locked tight and her eyes staring straight on towards nothing. Murder boiling in their depths. Up, up up, Alphard had lost his shield.

"Nevermind," Shelley mutters.

Zack looks up from his tea at the sound of the voices. "Eggs?" he mutters as he peers around, his eyes trying to adjust to the dim lights that have sprung up from several people's wands. "I didn't know we were having eggs. Eggs are supposed to be for breakfast." He finishes the rest of his tea and sets his cup down, and then he stares as someone starts rising into the air just two seats down from him, not understanding what he's seeing in the darkness.

Variel's expression by the time the final intonation is made has already gone from merely puzzled to angry. His chair scrapes as he pushes it back, but befoe he goes from standing to walking, he hears something. Something damnably familiar that widens his eyes and leaves his face twisting with anger as he starts to open his mouth and bring his wand down, but too late. An all-too-familiar curse rips its way through his being, slamming his limbs into rigid, useless extensions against his sides as his jaw locks up. His body moves from its immobility up into the air. The sight of Lea rising off the stage turns the anger into fury, stoked by the helplessness of being unable to somuch as spot the offending wizards.

Rhyeline freezes at the rasping voice that carries over the hall. Her hand tightens upon Cassius's own. As if an icy fingertip were tracing a line up her spine, the girl shivers. The bang of the doors slamming shut causes the girl to flinch.

When Cassius suddenly stands bolt upright in a full body bind and begins to levitate Rhyeline's shriek pierces the air.

Donald is on his feet once the voices start, wand out and adding his own magical light to the general attempts at illumination. Resting one hand reassuringly on his wife's shoulder he starts a reply to the voices only to stop with it unuttered as he feels a presense behind him and a faint whisper in his ear. He doesn't even have the chance to think 'well bugger' befire his own suddenly stiff form is joining the others in the air.

Andromena feels Anthony's hand withdraw from her own; more like snatched, so quickly does it depart. There's a faint intake of breath at her side, but unfortunately for Andromena, the light from her wand had ruined whatever night vision she could have possessed. When she glances Anthony's way, she only sees that his expression is rather…rigid. Her lips purse, and then she looks out across the room once again.

It's Cassius she sees first, while more closely the sound of Anthony lifting upward - at the same time as the others - catches her attention. Andromena, inanely, begins to reach out her hand for Anthony, only to immediately snap it back down. In her mind, the words 'break them all,' echo, and Andromena begins to taste a bit of fear. The fear for another, when you're quite worried something assuredly awful is about to befall them.

About time. Casusally late is the eldest of the Syke's brood, Xavier, had joined the others within the darkened ballroom. Cutting through the clusters of guests he was heading towards the center of the room until all exits similtaniously snapped shut. Cue the removal of his wand from an inner pocket of his coat. "We're not Zack." Xavier replies under his breath as he watched a few of the party guests begin to levitate.

Alphard cowered. Hid, infact, behind Lea, as his fears threatened to overwhelm him. It was Lea's disappearence that hit him him, the feeling of the girl vanishing from infront of him and being caught by the assault of a spell. Then he had no choice but to confront his own vulnerabiliyt. Was he still a momma's boy, or was he the high achieving student who was meant for greatness. Who was supposed to be an Auror in the making?!

Was it easy to reveal his position? No. But he couldn't just stand there anymore. Not when he was all bereft of fleshy shields. So his wand moved almost by himself, snapping up a non verbal STUPIFY, even if that took extra effort since he hadn't really mastered non verbal spells. It went in the direction of the spell that had just hit Lea.

"Don't notice me. Don't notice me." Went under his breath. He was oblvious to his own commentary.

"I think this would be a good time for my esteemed colleagues in the Duelling Club to get ready to show some mudbloods why blood purity /matters/," Edgar calls out as he stands up, perhaps unusually brave in face of possibly getting a handful of curses thrown at his person, even as the doors shut themselves. "Descendo," he points the wand at Lea, then looks around for anyone else for whom gravity might be biting its thumb at, presently.

Alphard's stupefy floats off into the darkness before fizzling. It hits nothing and no one in particular. Thank Merlin. That dumb arse.

Zack flinches when Rhyeline shrieks in his ear, and he finally realizes that this is not part of the evening's plans. He stands up, one hand clenched in a fist in front of him, and the other closed around it as he tries to figure out what he's supposed to do. "Oh, my wand," he says to himself. "I need my wand. I have it here." He feels about in his robes until he finds it and brings it out, but even then he just stands there, not knowing what to do.

Ria has an absolutely frightened look on her face to see the bodies floating in the air. "Oh Merlin," she gasps in horror, pointing upward to Donald, "Oh that's my uncle! Someone get him down!"

The five petrified bodies of Variel, Cassius, Lea, Donald, and Anthony float high up in the room, in plain view of the crowd. There is a tense sense of panic in the room. Despite any attempts of the crowd, the victims are stuck up there. Likely the cause of some strong magic. The last voice continues to speak:

"My dear, inbred but still superior pure-blooded kinsmen. We are the mud you love to tread upon. And since we finally seem to have your attention there are some simple demands we are here to politely ask of you:

First, we demand that the ministry take an official stance against the Grindelwald Movement.

Second, we demand that the Eye of Truth is banished from wizarding society all together.

And Third, we demand that the discrimination against muggle-borns and half-bloods is outlawed, along with extra security to be provided to 'mud' friendly establishments.

We expect these changes to begin to take place within the next few months. And should it slow down, we'll be sure to goad you all in to working at a speedier pace."

A long, silent stillness passes. And the voices all chime together:


Alphard didn't even notice that his spell had passed by people inefficiently. With Lea floating and hiding behind Ria and Lucian too obvious, he had no choice but to stand there on the stage with his wand out and his eyes alert, scowling for anything suspicious that might require him to break out a shielding spell, or strike someone with something aggressive. Damn it. He wished Lea hadn't been hit. But better her than him. and he really couldn't give her the attention required to get her back down.

Andromena follows Carrow's lead, though she remains silent. A little too…too nervous to speak more than the verbal command, "Descendo," which is directed at her cousin Anthony. Family first, right? Only it doesn't work. Anthony remains afloat no matter how positive she was that the spell had fired off perfectly. Even as she peers up at him does she notice her cousin as he begins to 'come to.' He looks this way and that, even down at her, before the expression of befuddlement becomes instead one of twisted pain.

Andromena gives a jolt as a tortured shriek is ripped from Anthony's throat. His body appears to tense up, and then grows limp as the maniacal sensation leaves him. Appalled, Andromena attempts to return him back to solid ground with a second, "Descendo."

Cassius's scream is pure, unfiltered agony. Released suddenly from the body-bind, he writhes, thrashing helplessly in mid-air, suffering the pain of of a thousand white-hot knives. The platinum-haired man is completely at the mercy of his unseen attacker.

Lucian nods firmly at Ria's cry, squeezing her hand tightly. He whips his wand out, aiming in the darkness toward the shape she indicated as her uncle. "Descendo!" he incants, intent on bringing the man safely to the ground. But "safe" is relative in this situation.

Dillorous was there by Rhyeline's side, wrapping his arms around her in a very determined attempt to be the bodily shield that kept the fragile woman from being caught by any further aggressve spells. As far as helping Cassius went? That was rather low on his priority.

For a moment, there was a flicker of life to Lea's floating state. The sharp snap of her head to the side while she looked towards the sound of the voices and a very definative, "I'll kil—" It was cut off at that, the sudden force of the magic that hit her sent the girl's spine to bowing sharply while her body contorted in pain; the sound of the girl's shrill cry echoing out across the room. Her wand too, clatters floward and most likely towards Alphard's -head-, as it slips from convulsing fingers. Her nails biting into the palms of her hands while the muscles twitch and spasm and she writhes, limbs contorting beneath the weight of agony while her features contort in an endless cascade of pain. Blood stains the corner of her lips, caught by her tongue no doubt, as those cries become ragged, from a hoarse throat. Helpless and at the mercy of magic other than her own.

Oh, that tiny, instant of freedom was almost enough. Variel's no slouch on the draw, and the instant granted him to better tune him as an instrument for the statement about to be played through him is nearly sufficient for a charm to pass his lips. One more syllable and he might have managed the spell, but as it is, the incantation leaving his lips his "ProteGYAAAGGGGNNNGHHH!" The word splinters in his mouth, crushed into a hideous howl of agony as the Unforgiveable Curse erupts through his body. Every nerve in him announces at once that not only is something wrong, everything is wrong, everything is so wrong that they can't HOLD the amount of wrong they're trying to communicate to the redheaded wizard. His eyes are torn wide in a rictus of unadulterated agony unrivaled by anything he's ever imagined, much less experienced, and the gut-wrenching force behind the shattering shriek that leaves his mouth leaves no doubt about the depths to which the spell trying it's damnedest to turn his mind into enflamed jelly tears.

Rhyeline draws her wand, whispering hoarsely, "Descendo… descendo-" The sound of the voices causes her own to freeze in her throat. She listens, wide-eyed in terror. The moment the voices chime with the most horrific curse: Crucio, she freezes. But only for a moment. At the sound of Cassius' scream, Rhyeline climbs up to stand on her chair and cries out in a clear tone, "Descendo!"

Donald listens as the voices continue, there's not much else he can do all told. Well, that's not entirely true, he also fumes silently inside his own head, both of the indignity of his current situation and the unacceptable demands being made. He's even starting to formulate a ministry-esk style reply in his head about how Bristish Wizarding does not bow to those who would try and influence policy with violence blah blah blah'. He doesn't get terribly far though before the body-bind releases and the pain hits. If he was worried about the dignity of the situatiob before it's a hundred times worse now, although he no longer personally cares, he's no longer really capable of thinking about anything much really. As with the others, once that terrible charm is cast he is incapable of doing anything other than scream a lot, and perhaps writhe a little too as his entire being just explodes into agony.

Alphard felt rather than really saw something fall down infront of him. Lea's wand. After a brief moment of hesitation he dipped down to pick it up and keep it safe, because what could be worse for a pureblood witch than to have her wand lost? It was as much as he could do for her without actually dedicating his wand, which as mentioned was very much aimed to punishing anyone who appeared to be the least bit aggressive towards her. Screw Lea. If she fell and broke some bones, who reall cared, anyway?

Xavier watched briefly as a few of their guests were made examples of. Ria's shriek forced him into action. The tip of his wand aimed as their uncle Donald in hopes of breaking him from the levitation. "Descendo!"

Rhyeline *is about to* to dash forward to Cassius' side, hoping against all hope that her spell worked. But she finds her father dragging her down from the chair. His arms wrap around her, constricting her movement.

When his Descend Charm has little to no effect before a Cruciatus is cast — and the Carrow visibly flinches at it — he draws in his breath, marshalls his will into lowering the Rashley on the ground and tries again, "DESCENDO!" This time he focuses his concentration on the spell and its target before moving on to the next. And hopefully they'll be able to chase the perpetrators before they get away.

Absolutely panicked shrieks match the ones of the victims floating above the crowd. People begin to rush to the doors, only to find they've been sturdily locked and will need much more force to open, other than your standard alohomora.

The writhing and thrashing of the victims seem to last for the longest minute ever. And suddenly, it stops! As does the levitation charm, sending the five cruciated bodies falling but not for long. Between Xavier and Lucian's attempts, Donald only falls an inch before soundly floating to the floor. Edgar's charm too manages to get Lea safe and sound. Despite being restricted by her father, Rhyeline's charm easily works to descend Cassius down in one piece. Andromena's charm however is a bit shaky, and she nearly drops Anthony with her magic. But he eventually lands on the floor, with a somewhat rough THUMP.

Oh hey and look at that. No one bothered to save the ginger Weasley. Variel continues to fall from the air. Someone save him.

Dillorous didn'te let Rhyeline go as he dragged her down from her chair. But he didn't really interfere too much with her wandwork either. The point was to keep hie daughter safe.

Andromena manages to bring Anthony back down with her second attempt. Immediately she moves closer to his side to check on his well-being…especially since her nervous recast had almost seen the youth crumpling to the floor as opposed to gently floating down upon it! She's, sadly, a little too concerned for her cousin to notice that Variel may come crashing down from the air!

Someone needs to do something to find the hidden witches and wizards causing all this ruccus - and Shelley decides that someone will be her. "Homenum Revelio," she murmurs, waving her wand, and hastily looking around for- fuck. It doesn't work. "I hate charms," she grits out.

Whatever else Gus might have been doing at this party (probably avoiding his parents and wishing Eibhlin was here and sneaking sips of wine when he thought an adult wasn't looking), Gus isn't about to let someone fall without trying to save him. "Descendo!" he yells, pointing his wand at the last person, the red-headed Weasley, Variel. Luckily, his charm seems to work and the poor ginger might not break something on the way down!

Lea's frame is still twitching, even as it settles on the ground near Alphard, thankfully not on his head thanks to Edgar's attention. Her eyes glisten and her legs don't seem to want to obey her command to tell them to let her rise. "Al-Alph-Alphy," Lea manages, her jaw still ticking while her muscles, her body remember the pain that was so fresh upon it. "Up," it's a half question, half demand because gravity is still being complicated, followed swiftly on the heels of, "Wand" for a hand that's kissed in crimson, as those fingers still jump. "Sever the doors!!"

Cassius lays on the floor, still shuddering with the fading agony of the Cruciatus Curse. His first attempt to push himself up fails utterly, and his topples back to the floor, hissing in pain.

Rhyeline trembles and shakes her head, straining forward against her father's protective embrace. "Please… Please let me go…" she whispers. Her tear-filled eyes are fixed on Cassius.

Donald will undoubtably be very thankful later to both his nephew and Lucian for getting him back down without the added complication of broken bones. For now though, mostly what he's doing is lying on the floor until his muscels stop twitching and he can actually concentrate enough to start paying even a vague amount of attention to the goings on around him. Sitting up, that he can do, slowly, but he is forced to rely on the support of a table leg to keep him upright for now at least. Standing? Nope, not even going to try that.

Lucian stands defensively by Ria, keeping a firm grip on her hand lest events try to separate them. "Lumos," he says, lighting the tip of his wand and aiming it all around the two of them, looking for any sign of the attackers.

"He is fine!" Dillorous whispered into Rhyeline's ear, still holding her tight. Though he had his wand out, he had no intention at all of casting anything aggressive. It was all about keeping his daugher safe, and damn be anyone else. Including hiself or Cassius.

Well, now that he's gone and saved the Weasley boy from falling to his death after hideous torture, Augustin decides he can't very well abandon him now, and he rushes over to try to help him. "Put your arm around my shoulder, there's a good lad!" he urges, doing what he can to pull Variel to his feet. He's still got his wand out, and his eyes dart here and there warily, looking for the perpetrators but unable to find them in the chaos. His parents are somewhere at this party, and over the general hubbub he hears his mother screaming his name. He'll head that way as soon as Variel's hanging onto him.

Among the panicked cries and sounds of bodies falling, fierce cackling of multiple foes fill the room. For the most part, most of the party guests can't seem to spot where the sounds are coming from. But whoever they are and however many there are, they begin blasting parts of the high ceiling and support pillars. Distinct "Incendios" are heard, and much of the decor begins to catch on fire, consuming the robes of some wizards and witches along with it. Their whales and cries as they burn are unmistakable.

"Alphard didn't ignore Lea. Not realy. He dropped her wand nearby, and that really was as muchof a concern as he could ever be expected to give. Then his wand was flashing, and it was with intent. This time it wasn't a blind throw of spellpower, but rather a vicious flick of the wand ant was meant to catch someone dead to the right. His fear hadn't disappeared, not at all, but gradually his self of entiteleed arrogance was taking over. HOW DARE ANYONE MESS WITH HIM?! WITH THE MAGIJUDGEND?! WITH HIS MOMENT IN THE SPOTILGHT?!?!?!?


Rhyeline's knees begin to weaken and the girl sinks a bit before her father helps support her. She falls silent at Dillorous' whisper in her ear, but still shakes her head, trembling. She freezes the moment the fires start. Rhyeline's shriek comes faint and breathless as she twists in her father's grasp, desperately trying to get to Cassius.

Variel's release from the Crucio spell brings a moment of blissful absence of agony. That's all, just a lack of torment, and for a split second, that's nice. Then, o then, the rush towards the ground catches up with the besieged mind of the Weasley boy, and he tries to scream again, in hateful impotence at finding himself yet again denied so much as the chance to defend himself, this time from gravity. His throat refuses him even that release.

When lowered to the ground in the grip of Augustin's spell, his teeth are clenched over his breath, hissing past them in and out, sweat drenching the boy's form. He struggles to gain some kind of leverage, fails, and then simply slams his weight down onto one elbow, certainly bruising it for days. Still, it's enough to struggle up partway, repeating the desperate, furious act with his left fist a moment later to shove himself up into a sit. He rolls his weight forward from there, but only his arms seem to have any intention of remaining in alliance with his mind, and he's forced to catch himself on the already-darkening elbow- not that he feels it, not after that.

A chair. Yes. That works. He claims it, arm slapped down onto the seat of the chair as he starts to pry himself upwards. His eyes are wide, whites clearly ringing the blue of them, and then there's Augustin, and he's MUCH easier to climb, he's HELPING. The chair never helped, no. Bugger the chair. An arm loops around Augustin, rising further. This all is well and good until his savior wants to go in one of those unimportant directions, the ones that don't get him closer to the stage. He had a glimpse, just for a moment, of Lea on the floor, and then Augustin is trying to turn them away. It's a rough jerk sets him loose, with a "NO!" barked from a tortured throat, even as he's left to catch himself on a table, a champagne flute smashed under his left fist. Just one more thing he won't feel until later.

"They're. Still. Here."

Variel Weasley has no intention of leaving. Not before his friends. And not before he gets something approximating revenge.

Fine, fine. Get people out of here - then see if she can find the perpetrators. Shelley flings her wand violently at the wall leading out into the garden. "Confringo!" She seems determined to destroy it by sheer force of will.

Once the bodies have made it relatively safely back to the ground Xavier heads firstly towards Donald. Of course his concern for the other guests are postponed at the moment. He kneels towards the ground, offering aid for Donald to rise should he desire, "Easy uncle. You're alright…" Xavier then lifts his gaze towards the others near the doors and windows. Again another spell was cast, enflaming the doors with fire. "Shit…" He shot to his feet aiming his wand the main door to the ballroom "Deflammo!"

Normally, Edgar Carrow would be all about the glory-hounding, himself, but he: cannot see the mudbloods he REALLY would like to hurt and to boot, the room is falling apart all around them. He has his parents and siblings here and for one he would not like to be an orphan, thank you very much. So running towards the doors, and clearing himself out of anyone in his way, he points the wand at the door and shouts, at the top of his lungs, while focusing on the very result he wishes to achieve: to destroy the hell out of those doors.


"Get down!" Lucian throws his arm over Ria's shoulders in an effort to duck her to the ground, his eyes following a sound passing them by. He aims with his wand, but sees nothing. Hissing in frustration, the sight of the flames freezes him in place, eyes wide with growing terror. He looks to Ria, and with a shaking hand, lifts his wand to her, taking a deep breath to steady himself, and incant, "Impervius Flammas."

Andromena and Anthony are the only family (that she's aware of, nearby) the other has. Andromena does her best to at least get Anthony seated in an upright position, but is too small and too weak to go the way of Augustin and haul Anthony to his feet. A rush of air causes her hair to stir, but Andromena doesn't see just who caused it as she looks up. But before much more can happen, the young woman finds herself in the midst of what she can only describe as an impromptu battlefield!
"Come on, Tony…" She urges, hoping that he can get to his feet on his own power. Otherwise, it looked like they were going to hide under the table. How disgraceful was that? Among the shouts and screams, she can hear Alphard's own as he calls out a Stupefy. For the moment, the cousins remained ducked down while Andromena attempted to tell herself she could totally handle this sort of pressure and assume the cool, collected calm of a general.
Yeah. Right. She does manage to, "Impervius Flammas," she and Anthony, however.

"EVERYBODY OUT," Shelley bellows, as a hole the size of an automobile is blown in the wall. "Help the injured! Do not push!" Right. Like that'll happen. She, of course, makes no effort to leave herself.

Zack stands completely still, watching everything unfold. He holds his wand in one hand, keeping it close to his chest but pointed away from himself. His other hand grasps at the collar of his robes as he runs a finger along the inside of them. Hearing something behind him, he turns round and looks for the source of the sound, his brow furrowed in confusion.

With all this burning and destruction, parts of the roof slowly begin to give out. Heavy bits of rubble fall from the sky, hitting some fleeing on the head and falling. The chandelier which hangs in the room has been swinging back and forth as brief bits of shadow to and fro across it in the room. And after a few more disturbances it finally gives way, coming to crash on the dance floor. It crushes a few witches and wizards underneath its glass greatness. One of which is Alanna Proudmore.

The crash makes all other witches and wizards panic even more. Terrified yells and cries fill the room, following Shelley's call. A group bum rushes out through the hole in the wall. Meanwhile some escape through the main door which Edgar had just busted open with his cannon charm.

There were plenty of other fires in the ballroom that needed to be extinguished in the Sykes' residence. Though the shouted call to flee fell deaf on this blonde's ears. After assuring his uncle was alright Xavier pressed on towards other guests that were recovering from the curse. He approached Lea and offered her his hand, "Are you alright?"

"Can you stand?" Xavier asks nearly shouting over the falling rubble.

"Aguamenti," Ria pulls Lucian close, seeing the terrified look on his face from the flames. Her wand produces and an amount of water to fill a bowl, but she's made sure to soak the boy's clothes. "It's okay…Just look at me alright, don't look at the flames," she cups a hand in each cheek before a shrill SHRIEK comes with a crashed chandelier. And Ria's eyes widen at Alanna Proudmore gruesomely crushed beneath the glass.

Gus doesn't react in time to stop Variel from jerking out of his grasp. "The house is going to burn down!" he yells. "The roof is coming down! We need to leave!" There's panic in his voice, yes, quite easily detected. Then the crash of the chandelier, he flinches backward. He's cut by a few pieces - luckily nothing that would incapacitate him. Then he's next to Variel. "Where?!" he asks, eyes stinging from the smoke. His mother is still screaming his name, but he can't see her, or his own father.

The chaos continues to unfold, Shelley puts a hand to her head. No. No, no, no… Not now. She's Shelley, and she's an auror, and she can handle this. She can…

"Shelley?" Jocunda still hadn't left, and she was suddenly at her friend's side. "We need to go, Shelley."

"I can't," Shelley grits out, even as her curse tries to assert itself. Not yet, not yet… "Recenseo," she murmurs, trying to piece her concentration back together.

The flames are encoraching on Cassius. Rhyeline still has her wand in hand, and although her father's arms keep her from breaking away, Dillorous doesn't obstruct the movement of her wand arm. "Impervius Flammas." Her voice is hoarse and weak, but her spell is strong. "Help him. Please, please help him."

Dillorous would help grab Cassius by the shoulders, and then start to drag the man towards the open doors that Edgar had blasted opene. "Come on, come on!"

Whatever Alphard had targeted with his stunning spell, suddenly stopped in mid air like a swatter hitting in a fly. And the dark hooded figure comes crashing down to the ground with a loud THUMP.

Lucian nods, wide-eyed, at Ria. His breaths are coming in short, panicked gasps, but the need to protect her, and the others around him, forces him into action. He rises with her, only to throw his arms protectively around her again when the chandelier crashes.

Actaeon Proudmore screams out in horror as he sees his wife crushed under the falling chandelier. His wand in hand, he slashes it to the side, flinging the chandelier almost effortlessly away from where it fell, causing several other to dive madly out of its way. He rushes to Alanna's limp, bloodied form, cradling it in his arms. He howls wordlessly, an horrific, bestial roar that should not come from a man. When he looks up, scanning the room for any sign of the attackers, his face is twisted into a cruel, predatory snarl. Woe betide the man that stands in the way of the hunter now.

"Maria, hurry," Edgar barks at his sister, who is hurrying with their three other siblings; one of them barely able to walk. His left sleeve catches on fire and he smacks at it frantically in an attempt to clear himself of fire, though he doesn't quite retreat from the venue he has just opened. Among the last to leave, if he has his way. Something catches his eye, though, and a nod is given before he approaches the fallen Rashley. "Let's go." He reaches out to lift her to her feet. "Through the wall, as I doubt you're going to make it to the door."

Andromena's teeth snap together as she winces when the massive chandelier crashes to the ground. It is more than just its own destruction that gives her the chills, rather, the screams of those caught beneath it seek to unnerve her with their terrible agony. Some ended quite suddenly, such as Alanna Proudmore's, though Andromena saw it not. Andromena gave neither herself nor Anthony the time to let its meaning sink in, and instead, with the help of the nearby chair and Anthony's own inner strength, gave all she could to help her cousin up to his feet so that the pair of them could begin making their way towards Edgar's freshly opened pathway - to which they were nearest. Her eyes, however, constantly scanned the chaos for Alphard.

Cassius groans in pain, but the threat of the burning building gets his adrenaline flowing. He rises with Dillorous's help, leaning heavily on the man. He reaches weakly for Rhyeline, to hold onto any part of her.

Fearing that someone might have noticed his deer-in-the-headlight-routine, Alphard immediately seized upon the hooded man when he collapsed to the ground. Grimacing wildly with fear, he meant to drag the fellow with him with all his meight towards the safety of the exit, trusting on his physical strength while he used his wand to weave a shield above him. "HELP! THIS IS AN ATTACKER! HELP HELP HELP HELP!!!!!!!"

"Impervius Flammas!" From Alphard

"Not…," Lea's eyes flick upwards towards Xavier, something akin to appreciation in their depths. That slightly bloody tongue pokes out between the corner of her lips as she watches the world around them go up in flames, "Without some help, please." it's just, it's good manners, isn't it? As her wandless hand settles into his own. Even thorugh her grip, he can feel the muscles twitch and bounce, while the young woman lets him settle her weight while she attempts to get her limbs to obey. That pain running like a litany in her mind, feeding madness, perhaps. Madness that'd been there already. Wand in hand, the fingers, through sheer force of will, possess a white knuckled grip, while her teeth grind. And then, there's an Edgar and Lea's upright, if swaying, between the pair of them; though the bulk of her weight is on the Sykes. "You might make us flame proof," suggested, to her 'hero'? 'Help'? With the kind of rational edge that betrayed the battered state of body and perhaps, mind both.

Rhyeline darts to Cassius' side the moment her father loosens his grasp. At once she takes Cassius' hand in her own and guides it around until his arm is over her narrow shoulders and she is tucked against his side. Though she trembles, she does her best to help support him. Her eyes shine with anguish for his pain. She murmurs to him in breathless French.

Actaeon hears Alphard's words, and rises to face the boy and his fallen target. He begins to stalk toward the fallen, hooded figure, murder in his eyes.

"Help?" Zack says, hearing Rhyeline nearby. He turns towards her, still quite lost. "Oh, yes. Help. I can help." He holds his wand loosely in one and looks around, but Dillorous is already helping Cassius. He frowns at the pair of them, not sure of what else he can do. "But how?"

Variel stumbles forward under his own questionable strength. "I DON'T KNOW!" He howls back at Gus over the growing din. Using the tables, he forces his way nearer Lea, wand in one hand, th e other speckled with glass. When he runs out of table, he lurches forward re gardless, hitting his knees near Xavier and Rashley. Alphard' s howls earn his attentions. "Augustin!! BLACK HAS ONE!" He fights clumsily to his feet, staring madly at Lea and Xavier. "Go. I'll. .. cover. Help. Go."

The black shadows continue zip around and cackle among the terror, tapping panicked partiers on the shoulder before disappearing. But when they see the roof caving in, that's their signal to leave. A zip left, right, spinning twirl, and five shadowy figures zip out through the roof and disappear into the night sky in a plume of black smoke.

Meanwhile, a blonde Juliette Rousseau is begging her eleven year old daughter Lizette to come out from under the table. The young girl is crying and refuses to come out. And while she tries to finally pull her daughter out from the table, a large brick falls from a wall, hitting Juliette roughly on the head. The witch lies on her stomach, unresponsive. From the looks of it, it doesn't look like the rest of the room's structure will hold up much longer.

Determined to be the last one from the room, no matter the wisdom of that decision, Shelley keeps her wand in hand, her gaze going to the flicking bits of shadows above them. Just as they're wheeling towards the sky, she picks one out, raising her wand, carefully timind her spell. "Stupefy!" she calls, flicking her wand, and hoping to catch another of the attackers. Hoping it hadn't been too late.

Ria's jaw stiffens, watching so many fall around her as well as part of her home crumble to pieces it's only natural that she's like a deer in headlight. Only she recalls that she's got Lucian with her and they're somewhat near at hole in the wall. "Lucian, let's go! We need to go now," she rises her to her feet trying to tug him with her. Only a piece of rubble also falls on her head, causing her eyes to roll back as she's knocked out.

Alphard happens to drag the attacker right past him, and Gus seizes the opportunity to grab him, more than willing to help drag the hooded figure to safety — and to justice. Variel's urging only has him going faster. Only… there's his sister, there she is, just turned eleven, will attend Hogwarts next year. And there's his mother, who will never, ever, do anything again. "LIZETTE!" Gus screams, bodily shoving the table out of the way and scooping up the little girl into his arms. He presses her head to his shoulder and turns away so she won't see the ruined skull of their mother. Tears make white tracks down his soot-darkened face. And then he grabs a handful of the robe of the man that Alphard is dragging out, and hauls with a purpose. "No," he's sobbing as he carries his sister and half-drags the hooded figure. "No, no, no, no, no, no…"

Xavier managed a small smirk towards the girl in lieu of the chaos. "Put your arm around me, atta girl." He'll rise with her with his wand firmly in grasp. To stave off further loss he points it towards the near collapsing celling, "The ceiling would get us before the fire would girl." He tells Lea just as he watches the others descend upon the dark hooded figure on the ground. "Keep him alive!" But the one's escaping through the roof in clouds of smoke do not slip his notice. "Immobilus!"

Variel says, "Impervius Flammas." It's almost a mutter, but it suffices, and the spell settles over Lea and Xavirr as he stmbles on their heels."

Alphard didn't care about being first or last out of the room. He cared about being out of the room BEFORE IT COLLAPSED. Constnatly the boy kept looking up at the cieling with frightened eyes, his pale (but now soothed) features doing nothing to hide the boiling terror of his heart. "HE'S" Cough, couhg, raspy coughm, "HE'SONe—" Cough, cough, "ONE OF THEM!" Alpahrd shouted at both Augustin and Actaeon! "I CAUGHT!" And there he doublted over, lost grip of the hooded man, then tried to regain it so he could continue to rush towards to exit. "ONE OF THEM!"

"Ria!" Lucian gasps, dipping immediately to catch her. Suddenly nothing else matters. He scoops her up into his arms, cradling her close, and making a hard run for the opening in the wall. "Out of the way!" he shouts, as if it will make a difference. "Injured coming through!"

Andromena, Anthony leaning heavily upon her, makes it out through the hole in the door. She isn't sure who else she is with though she does cast a final glance through the nightmare-fuelled scene to catch a brief glimpse of Alphard as he's tugging a hooded, unresponsive figure towards the hole that had been blown in the wall. So too does she see Juliette Rousseau as she crumples, doll-like, to the ground. Maybe later she would feel something over it, but just then a numbness was spreading through her.
She would seek to lead Anthony towards a patch of ground well away from the burning, collapsing Sykes home, and then just sit there. Others, those that had chosen the door exit as well, began to mill around them, clearly at a loss.

As Actaeon lifts his wand, aiming it at the man on the floor with Alphard, Arlo Sykes appears, throwing his arms around Actaeon. "Proudmore, don't!"

"Get off of me, Sykes! He murdered my wife!"

But the physically powerful Arlo Sykes holds Actaeon in place, shaking his head, "And he will suffer for it. But we need him to catch the others! Proudmore! Don't be blinded by your rage. Use it."

Tears streaming from his eyes, Actaeon clenches his teeth, and relents to Arlo, who directs him to go claim the body of Alanna while Arlo himself moves off to help Alphard with the fallen attacker.

With the attackers gone, it's officially time to go. Shelley hurries towards the fallen mother and her child, casting at her robes as they start to lick with flames. The child is scooped up before she can get there - but the mother, perhaps she still has a chance? Murmurs a quick spell to lighten the load, she lifts the woman into her arms, carrying her from the collapsing structure.

And they're through the door that had been blasted open: Rhyeline is too weak to be of much help supporting Cassius, but her father, Dillorous, is quite sturdy despite his age. Just as they are leaving, Rhyeline casts a glance behind herself to make sure Zack is following. She sees that he is, thank goodness. But such horror lies behind them. Her eyes widen, stricken by the sight of so much pain and death.

So Alphard lets go of the villain and runs away, leaving Gus holding his sister in one arm, and a fistuful of hooded robes in the other. No matter. He grabs his wand and levitates the unconscious wizard. "Hold tight, Lizette," he half-yells as he charges toward the nearest opening, right after Alphard.

Whatever is left of the Sykes hall is in flames, the opportunities for escape are minimizing by the second with fire and rubbling blocking the limited exits. A few more stumble out into the gardens and the yard. Aurors, trauma healers, and obliviators can be seen just starting to arrive to the scene.

With Lea secured and on her feet, Edgar nods once before heading out to take initiative and escorting anyone having particular trouble in getting out to evacuate the room. For all that his left arm is blisters and redness, there is a certain fire in the Carrow's eyes that wasn't there before. A look that clearly says: there'll be revenge.

"They're dying," there's a detached observative tone to Lea's voice, while she wills her legs into obedience. One step after the other, forward. There are screams and bodies and the kind of smoke that makes her couch on occasion, so that she turns her head in against Xavier's shoulder, while the pair of them hobble towards the wall. But she holds him, she does, watching Variel crumple in front of them. "Carrow," still hoarse that voice, but familiar with command, as if this were a scene in someone else's life and not hers. "Help Weasley." What happened to her parents? Did the bitch finally die? Ah, but to see -her- lost amongst the broken. "Get us out of here," the vixen rumbles to Xavier.

Dillorous pulled Cassius out of the burning hall, coughing and looking rather fearful all around. For all that his books involved heoric figures, his was one more out of duty than anything else. While he might not like Cassius Malfoy particularly much, he wasn't going to leave the man behind and break his daughter's heart either.

Alphard had let go of the hooded man, but with Arlo and Actaeon there, he had been quick to seize a hold of the perpetrator again. His pride wouldn't let him appear a coward before those two imperious men. Instead he'd continue to drag on the limp frame, hopefully helped by the two grown men, until he was out of the crumbling building and into safety. Panting. Bright eyed. Fearful. Really doing a horrible job at looking cool. BUT HE WOULD NOT BE CALLED A COWARD. Even if he had spent most of the attack cowering in fear. IT was how you spun it that mattered, anyway.

Once out - Shelley tries to go back in. That is until one of the newly arrived aurors grabs her by the shoulder and hauls her back "NO. I will leg-lock you before I let you go back in there, Prewett," the man shouts harshly. "Go see a healer. Good work." She hesitates near the crumbling wall - half a mind to disobey. Half a mind to-
But of course, the focus charm wouldn't keep the curse at bay indefinitely. "Right," she woman mutters, shrinking back from the building. Did Jocunda make it out? Where was Cohen's sister? "Damnit."

With most of the guests departing the ballroom for the safety of outdoors and his failure to capture another of the escaped hooded figures, Xavier was moving with Lea towards the exit. He checked over his shoulder to ensure that Arlo was coming, along with Alphard whom had seized one of the aggressors. "Of course." He slipped an arm around Lea's waist should her steps slow their progress on making it outside.

Andromena allows a Trauma Healer to take a look at Anthony, though he protests because 'others are more badly injure than he.' Her cousin is nevertheless deemed unfit to remain out in the cold, and is instead taken to St. Mungo's. A kindly-looking woman patted Andromena's shoulder, telling her that someone would be informing their parents immediately. Andromena could only nod. Someone else passed her a cloak, which she wrapped around her shoulders. It wasn't her own.

There's little shame in assistance and Lea takes Xavier's with ease. Though her grip on her wand suggests that anyone who looks too long or even the slightest bit cross will be in for a nasty surprise. Yet for all that follows, as they clear the chaos she's silent. At the moment drifting on Xavier's will as if she didn't possess a thought of her own.

Once out, Gus puts his sister down and immediately starts attempting to find the villain's wand on his body. He'll keep that if he finds it, and put it in his pocket, and then next thing will try a full-body-bind, but to no avail. "Lizette," he says to his sister. He's still crying, and so is she. "Lizette! Do you see father?" He looks around for his father, too, and doesn't see him. "FATHER!" he yells, trying to bellow as loudly as possible. "FATHER WHERE ARE YOU?!"

Once outside, Lucian rushes Ria toward the mediwizards. "She's hurt! Help me! She was struck on the head!" He lays her upon one of the many conjured stretchers, holding her hand as the Trauma Healer looks her over. "I'm here, baby. I'm here…wake up, Ria. Come on…wake up."

Variel struggles on at Xavier and Lea's heels, with Edgar' s help if it is so forthcoming, maintaining the spell guarding the two from the flames. He has fallen quiet as well, focused on moving, on the spell. Two things. He can handle two things.

"Steady feet, Weasley. See what mudbloods do for us? They attack us, torture us, and spit in the face of the largesse of those foolish enough to allow them to learn our secrets, our traditions." Edgar remarks to the Gryffindor as he lugs him out. "This has to stop, and it has to happen now."

"You bastard!!!" AT which point Alphard started kicking the unconcious hooded man in the ribs. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Someone was hurt? He wasn't paying attention to that right now. He was soothy, hurt, and he was still remmebering being absolutely terrified, not a feeling that Alphard liked at all. So he was going to make someone hurt. That someone was the collapsed person infront of him.

Rhyeline helps Dillorous settle Cassius safely away from the burning wreckage that not long ago had been filled with laughter and fireflies dancing over head. Rhyeline kneels at Cassius' side, holding his hand. Her dark gaze remains fixed on his features.

Shelley looks down at the woman she just hauled out - no one is attending to her. Her eyes are open, and empty. The auror shakes her head, letting out a quiet sigh. She stands at the edge of the chaos for now - watching the other aurors trying to mop things up - put out the fires, find the wounded. When a healer approaches, she simply shakes her head. Flashing them a sad smile. She's fine - others need their help first.
Where was her potion? She pats her dress.
Left it in her coat. Well, that was bright of her. But it was just supposed to be a /party/.

Safely outside, and among the many others seeking refuge among the spring gardens in the dead of winter, Xavier pauses with Lea at his side. He looks to Variel then, "Many thanks," on his shielding spell. "Hey…" A hand raises to smooth some hair away from the girl's face. "You can lower your wand now. We're safe out here." Afterwards he eyes the others, some injured, others with tear stained cheeks. "I'll return. Just don't move." He gives a pointed look to Variel then, "Watch her." Time for damage control.

A pair of aurors come up behind Alphard, one settling a firm hand on the boy's shoulder to get him to stop hurting the hooded man, who by the way is beginning to stir a little bit. "Is he one of the perpetrators?" The other auror is already summoning over a trauma healer over to their location.

After looking her over, the Healers load Ria into the back of oen of the many ambulance coaches that have been flown in, and Lucian crawls right in after her. Once secure, the driver spurs the winged horses on to take the coach back to St. Mungo's. As the vehicle takes off, its Disillusionment Charms kick in, and it vanishes from sight, little more than a wavy disturbance against the night sky.

Alphard growled and twisted when the aurors started to interfere. THEY WERE LATE! Who were they to tell him what to do with the person he had so very HEROICALLY downed?! "Yes! He was one of the attackers! I took him down! Me!" And he would try to land at least one more kick at the barely concious individual, just because it was how one best kicked someone. When they were down. "The little bastard! HOW DARE HE!?! He tried to escape too, but I was too good! I caught him!"

Cassius gazes up at Rhyeline, smiling weakly, as Healers hurry to get him onto a stretcher. Being a wealthy public figure does have its perks. "Dear one," he groans. "Are you hurt?"

Andromena happens to be near none other than Rhyeline Diderot and her famous author father, as well as Cassius Malfoy. A rather interesting turn of affairs, all things considered, but she isn't exactly thinking about that just then. The star veneer had been peeled away, revealing them to be no more spectacular than she or the next person. Cassius even looked a little small, laying there in his stretcher.

Little Lizette, the spitting image of her mother, clings to big brother Augustin's robes, still crying. "I don't see him!" she bawls. "Father!" she screams in time with her brother. "Father!"

And the elder Rousseau answers, and comes running toward them, his face pale and drawn. A bloody gash across his shoulder stains his robes red, all down his arm. He doesn't know about his wife, yet.

Augustin holds tight to his littler sister, distracted for a moment by Alphard's fit of rage. Seeing the Auror arrive to take custody of the perpetrator, he leaves it in their adult, capable hands, and turns to see his father. "Father!" he says, and starts bawling like his little sister. "Mother! She — she —"

"SHE'S DEAD!" Lizette shrieks, and throws herself into her daddy's arms. The little family huddles together, consoling each other on the worst day of their lives.

Dillorous wiped sweat off his brow, then promptly sank down to the ground in a complete collapse. He could remember when he had last been this afraid, but the difference was that he hadn't been afraid just for himself this time. He had been afraid for his daughter. That put a very different and quite frankly horrific twist to the daggers piercing his stomach. "She's fine. Are you?" He coughed out at Cassius finally.

"We were safe inside too," there's a strange roll of warmth to Lea's voice, or perhaps that's just the hoarse nature that came from the yelling that she'd been doing inside, but the wand lowers and then, disappears once more inside the glove. One slow breath after another, the young woman meets Xavier's gaze as he draws the hair away from her eyes and lets out a steadying breath. "But alright." Somewhere, somewhere there's a Mother, with the misfortune of not being dead yet, how dare she, fussing about her health, about the smoke, verging on a panic attack that even Ysbail's husband, Eric won't deal with. Instead, he's left the theatrical woman to a healer, whose pursed lips suggest that she's nearly frazzled his nerves.

Tears of relief leak from Rhyeline's eyes when she catches Cassius' weak smile. The girl brings his hand to her lips, kissing it. She doesn't let go when the mediwizard's come. She won't. She keeps close as they load him onto a stretcher. Shaking her head and murmurs with a tearful smile, "Not hurt… I'm alright, my love…"

The two experienced Aurors pay no mind to the Black. If anything they give him a quirked brow and instruct, "Here, let's have a healer check you up just to make sure you're healthy. And then we'll check back with you when you've been given a clean bill of health. We'll handle this man from here." That last bit isn't a suggestion. It's an order. The aurors do take over, letting a healer look at him, while another tries to pull Alphard away toward another healer.

Alphard no sooner had been dismissed by the Aurors than his mother had caught a hold of him. From there on there really wasn't any option at all for him but to fall into line and be coddled completely in the glorious embrace of motherly love. The healers barely had a chance to check on him, and then only under the greatest care. Then he was gone. Disappareted away so that the young Black could b e coddled at the very highest level of Coddling imaginable.

Cassius gives Dillorous a lift of his brow, croaking, "I'm alive. So…it could be worse." He holds as tightly as he can to Rhyeline, though the strength is barely there in his muscles. Soon he is loaded into another ambulance readying itself for flight.

"Shelley?" Jocunda has found her friend - and she recognizes that look on Shelley's face. "Shelley - did you take your potion." She checks her friend for pockets, for a hand-bag - and lets out an entirely indelicate curse. "Come on, I'm getting you to a healer."
The cursed auror is unceremoniously dragged off, a look of confusion on her features. Probably a good thing she'd been stopped from going back in.

Variel s legs are shaky- his left hand full of broken glass- but his wand was steady and his eyes bright. "Never make the same mistake twice, Carrow." His words are loaded. Variel watches Lea with her too-calm responses, muttering the words again. At Xavier's command, he nods, just the once, and pulls from Carrow to stand, still as a statue, by Rashley's side, heedless of the slow drip of the blood that had earned him this invitation from a ragged fist. He stares, watching Augustin's family mourn, taking in everything.

Rhyeline holds tight to Cassius' hand and woe betide anyone who tries to keep her from following him into the ambulance. Such a slight girl, she be able to slip easily inside and take up a spot beside Cassius.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License