(1939-02-04) Solutions to a Puzzle
Details for Solutions to a Puzzle
Summary: In which the esoteric is discussed and apologies rendered. Also locks.
Date: 1939-02-04
Location: Castle Corridor, Hogwarts
Related: Part 1: Prologue
Part 2: The Fight
Part 3: Aftermath
Part 4: Epilogue as well as
Owls Fair In Love And War and En-Gage-ing The Enemy and Weasley-Sykes Showdown.

Esther leans against the corridor wall, beside the club room door. So when Variel emerges, she's able to tap him on the shoulder wordlessly. "I never got a chance to tell you before… But yes, that gown still matters to me. I'm glad you sorted out Sykes, too." One of the few people she calls by his last name. "Insufferable prat that he's been lately."

Variel pauses when he's touched, turning to face Esther. The slow air currents in the drafty castle leave the hem and sleeves of his robes- close at the waist and shoulders, flaring to proper robe breadth at hands and feet, a deep black trimmed with crimson- swaying idly. He gives Esther his attention as she speaks, and nods. "I know you still want the gown, don't worry. Like I said, it won't take too long to finish. And he was trying to get attention the way he always has. I just wasn't willing to put up with it. He's already a much more pleasant person to be around." Variel rolls his shoulders. "Might have just needed someone to tell him he's not the biggest dog on the block. Someone to look up to perhaps."

"All he's done is frustrated the hell out of me." Esther admits, falling instep with Variel with a gentle little yawn. She'll be needing to sleep soon, after all. "Just wanted to say that I'm still sorry. For a lot of things. Including taking a step back from being your friend, after everything that happened with Myrus." Whom she hasn't spoken to since the Library. Just as well, in her mind.

Variel just shakes his head. "I've had enough apologies today, Esther. I appreciate yours- that's all you need to say. Any more sincere apologies and I'm going to start dueling people to get them to NOT apologize to me." His lip turns up in a smile that doesn't quite make it to his eyes.

"Mn." Esther responds with the least committal noise that she can possibly muster. "So, still feeling like someone else? Or steps closer to the Variel we knew?" There's a pause. "You're seeming more like my friend, tempered, then a stranger in his skin, these days." Perhaps offensive. Or honest.

Variel keeps walking for a ways. He tugs at the sleeves of his robes- dashing as they are, he's still getting used to how they feel. "… I've never been angry enough to challenge someone to a duel to ensure they did what I wanted before. To be honest, I've very rarely -been- angry at Hogwarts. There just wasn't enough of import to get mad about. You're the only other person I ever got mad at, and it was honestly more vicarious, I think- mad that I was the one that Myrus cornered, mad that he got pushed to do it. But I never considered drawing my wand on you because I was upset. So maybe that gives you a little perspective on where I'm standing right now." He stops and turns towards Esther. "I've just found what might be the single most effective way to ensure that people act the way I think they ought to. Not the best way, or the right way, but the most effective. Do you want to hazard a guess at how I feel about that?"

Esther shakes her head. "Myrus could have spoken to me. We both could have handled it better. Fact is… I wanted Myrus to hurt me." Esther looks down. Blushing. Awkwardly scuffing at the ground. "… I thought that maybe if he got to take his revenge, I'd feel better about what I did… Although I trust you to keep that to yourself." Her response to his question is curious. "If your patron is to be believed, it's force."

Variel looks Esther over, stopping and turning to face her. If she does the same? She'll put her back almost immediately against the wall. Blue eyes rest on her own, holding her there as if they drew intangible specimen pins with which to pin her in place. "Did you want him to take his revenge, or did you want to be hurt so you'd feel better?" That's a very specific inquiry. "And I didn't ask what I found worked. That was obvious. I asked how you thought I felt about it."

Esther turns, and finds herself pressed flush against the wall. One foot rises, to look as casual as possible. "… I don't know… Does it matter..?" Her voice sounds momentarily weak. The girl who fears nothing - The strange Hair. Variel gets to see the fragile creature underneath, consumed with self doubt, self medicating, so dependant. Some strength returns to her voice as she tries to continue the real conversation. "… I hope the word is 'uncomfortable'. As 'Righteous' is what I'd associate with Alphard."

Variel keeps that gaze pinned on her. "Of course it does. It's the difference between wanting to let him even the score- and going from one person who can't give you what you want to someone who is morally opposed to doing so." As she fights to reclaim a grasp on the conversation itself, Variel's hand finds her back and turns her back to the hall, the way they were going, making even the turn away from him a casual gesture of direction.

"No. Not uncomfortable. But not righteous. I'm not under the delusion I'm a hero. I'm not crusading or sacrificing myself for some ideal, I'm enforcing it." He continues a few more paces. "I just feel like I solved a puzzle. Like everything else is a side street meandering about to the same result, but I've found a sort of inelegant directness to the conclusion. There are other options, but they're conditional."

Esther takes a slow breath to try and bring her mind back under control. "I suppose so. Although… That matters." She's walking with him, now, but she's drawn herself together. "It matters that Zayn won't give me what I want." Step. Slow step. "It matters that he won't let me get away with anything and everything I want. It matters that he wants me… Broken or whole."

She slowly turns to look at him. "Solving a puzzle. Satisfaction. Completion. That's a dangerous step wards ends justifying means."

"There's a big difference between giving you one thing you want and everything." Variel shrugs as they keep walking. "And I think you're underestimating the number of people willing to take you as you are."

At the turn and stare, Variel pauses as well. "Maybe. Like I said- it's not the 'right' choice. Just the most effective. If you want to get into a particular room of a house, you can open the door, go through a few hallways and get to the room. Or Reducto the wall and walk in. They both get you where you're going. And there are a lot of people who will never even realize Reducto is an option."

"That's the thing, Variel… Zayn is everything I want. Even in that which I want, but cannot have." Esther blushes faintly. "I look forward to learning the blasting curse, for just such and occasion. But there's truth in what you say. Although I'd say the answer lies more in looking at different solutions for your problems…" The girl sighs, and reaches out. Touches the wall. "Vanishing charms. Mo— Wilheminia, once shrank the lock on my door rather than unlock it." A gentle shudder. A lesson learned.

Variel glances at Esther when she says that, turning back to the path forward. "If you say so. I hope you're right. I've got no particular reason to think you're wrong- just seems pretty definitive." Variel adjusts his sleeves again. "Force is something different for me. It's not something I've resorted to before. And that- is rather clever, though disturbing. Were you locked in, or was she locked out?"

"I hope I'm right." Esther agrees, softly. "… Wilheminia used to delight in showing me the different ways in which magic could be used." She doesn't answer the question. "She thought that it would make me a better witch. There so many different thoughts, memories, ideals…" Her fingertip finds a hole in the mortar, before she's steered away. "They all have their place."

"Yes, there are- many ways all in their place." Variel keeps pace with Esther as she chatters along. "I don't really have any stories like that. Grew up pretty normal." His voice drops for a moment. "… guess I can't say that after the holidays, huh."

"Count yourself lucky. I've more stories than I care to recount about growing up." The bitterness in her voice is clear. Esther doesn't like where she's come from. No wonder she distanced herself from her parents. "Some would consider it a blessing. It's an excuse for anything you do wrong in the future.' Her fingertips don't leave the wall, tracing along it while they walk.

Variel pauses in his place, nodding a little. "Suppose you could do that." He looks down the hallway further. "… I probably ought to get back. I'd rather people not start thinking we're up to anything. On the hells of everything else, that wouldn't go over well with many people."

Esther doesn't seem to agree, but she nods anyway. "I've grown past those rumors. The worst'd happen is more people would talk. And words… Words mean nothing when compared to actions. Bye, Variel."

Variel nods slowly. "Maybe. But words can influence actions. And I don't want to leave any seeds to stumble you and Zayn. I'd rather see it work than crumble. I'll see you tomorrow, Esther. Sleep well, if you can resist losing a few more house points for breaking curfew." Variel gives her another sidelong grin and starts back towards the Gryffindor Common Room.

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