(1939-02-06) Laying the Groundwork
Details for Laying the Groundwork
Summary: Sybil explains how Valentine's Day requires the laying of groundwork to Ulysses after he finds her fussing over the lack of her owl returning. Various people arrive and leave and somewhere along the line a misunderstanding occurs.
Date: 1939-02-06
Location: Owl Tower, Hogwarts

The Owl Tower's floor is covered in owl droppings, straw, and small animal skeletons. Six huge windows are embedded both in the bottom of the north and south wall sections of this rounded room. The windows are open to the elements and allow the owls to fly in and out as they please. The tower is quite tall and has many recessed arches for each owl to have their own home. The walls below each of the recesses are also covered with splotches of owl droppings and actually give an interesting contrast to the old stone work behind. During the winter, the room is quite cold and there is a danger of ice on the floor. Arching off the south side at the top of the tower, is a sky bridge that leads to the palisades of the castle.

The witching hour - or perhaps not quite. Its only around eight o'clock in the evening and students have still a little time before curfew hits in which to amuse themselves. Most have retreated to their Common Rooms and some have drifted to clubs or study sessions. There might even be an insane one or two that are out on the Quidditch pitch, practicing their skills in the dark. Not Sybil though. Wrapped snugly in her thickest cloak and with a warm woollen scarf wrapped enough times around her neck that her mouth is also covered, she hangs precariously far out of one of the tower windows. It might be considered a little foolish by some, the girl's toes lifted from the floor so she can stick her head out - far out - into the cold night air. Her owl is late returning.

It's not at all strange to find Ulysses coming up to the rooftop this late at night. Between getting some last-minute studying in, scaring away younger smokers from some of the higher areas, or just sending out the day's correspondences and payment approvals, he would be here. A bag with a few flavored mice for a few of the more familiar owls in one hand, as well as a few missives to send out, Ulysses had made his way up to the tower. He stops, of course, upon seeing what amounts to the back half of someone slightly hanging out the window.
His footfalls silent, he quietly approaches, and thinking he knows who the owner of the posterior view might be, a bit of impish glee takes him, and he slightly pushes up on one of those dangling feet, ready to catch in an instant should it cause an actual overbalance.

Its a very girly squeal that Sybil possesses. Also loud. "Arrrgh!" A flailing of her unhampered foot is given in an effort to kick her 'assailant' off together with a wriggle and a grunt as effort is put into trying to get herself back on solid ground. "Unhand me!" There's not a lot of room within the window aperture in which to twist her head around, but she does finally manage it, hair mussed over her face and eyes wide with alarm. "Get off! Get off! GET OFF!" There's the smallest shift of her weight with the squirming to look around, and rather than aid her descent, she actually loses a little ground, slipping a little further through the window.

For what it's worth, there was only the one touch until it looked like her squirming was going to actually push her the other way out the window, and thus, ignofing flailing and kicks, her assailant moves to become rescuer, reaching out and easily grabbing one of the flailing arms, to pulling closer to the inward motion of safety rather than a nasty fall out. The voice, a deep, pleased chuckle to it, should at least be familiar, "Relax, cousin. I'll not be telling your parents that you tried to go flying without a broom tonight, thank you very much."

Variel says, "Impediment-oh. Well, that works too." Weasley lowers his wand, the spell unnecessary if Sybil has no future as a base jumper. "I have to ask, what WERE you doing out the window, Sybil? If you wanted your outfit ruined, easier to sit down than present a targetn""

Sybil gasps, sucks in a breath of air and flicks her hair from her face. "Ulysses! You… You…!!" Its an expression of exasperation born from the shock of nearly, in her mind, having been pushed out the window, and he's lucky she only gives him a hefty shove on one shoulder before Variel distracts her. "Weasley! Did you see that? Dis you see what Ulysses did? And to answer your question, I was trying to spot Florence returning. She's late. She's never late!" Slender fingers quickly brush any dried owl droppings from the front of her clothes before loosening the scarf that wraps her neck. Its hot work being flustered and close to death.

The look of pure innocence Ulysses gives is about as realistic as the the chocolate frog he always keeps in a pocket of his robes. Indeed, once he's certain Sybil is back on solid ground, he actually feigns hurt. "Here I am, just in time to rescue you, and… well." A gentle smile is offered back to Sybil, before he turns to Variel, "A good damsel in distress is so hard to find these days." A grin goes to the younger man, before he turns back to Sybil, "When and where was it sent?"

Ilsa makes her way into the owl tower. The way she delicately steps and hops over owl droppings, her movements almost appear to be more of a dance than a walk. The introspective Selwyn pauses, a small grin playing upon her lips. "That's quite an interesting rescue attempt," she teasing, waving to her older cousin and the others present. "Though I think most of the damsels around here prefer to do their own rescuing."

Sybil huffs, running fingers through her hair to settle it in its usual style; that style being sleek, as opposed to traumatised-and-pulled-through-a-hedge-backwards style. "Actually," she says, a shake of her head Ilsa's way as a laugh just starts to bubble, "I don't mind being a damsel in distress on occasion. After all, why not let the male of the species flex their muscles on occasion, it makes them smile." A gentle swat is given her cousin's arm before she wraps him in a sudden hug. "Not all the time though, and not always when they're the ones that instigated the necessity for rescue. Just this once though, you're forgiven." Another glance to the window and a puckering of her mouth. "Florrie was just delivering a letter to a friend in the castle, that's why she should have returned by now. Its not like its miles."

Variel says, "Maybe she got hungry? Or has a nice big present to bring back?" He offers ideas less worrisome than 'maybe she's dead' as he steps in closer."

A rough chuckle escapes Ulysses at the swat, although the hug is not only accepted, but returned easily, to the point that he even flexes his muscles shortly thereafter to belabor the point. And, once she releases him, an arm goes out in offering to Ilsa as well. Family, and all.
Of course, this does not prevent him from objecting to the accusation, "I am innocent on all counts, and I may even come to resent to implication that I am anything but a proper gentleman." The grin belies it all of course.
At the mention of the owl, though, he nods, "There've been a few storm fronts coming in as well. I'm certain she simply is keeping safe."

"It does sound like something guys might like, proving their strength and prowess," Ilsa muses aloud, generally rather naive and clueless about matters involving the opposite sex. "And I suppose it could be fun to be valiantly swept to safety once in a while." Her lips curve into a wide grin as she steps forward to greet her cousins properly. She wraps Ulysses in a hug and then turns to link an arm around Sybil as well. "Whatever else would you be, if not a proper gentleman?" she adds to Ulysses with an innocent look, punctuated by a wink.
She frowns in thought, a glance stolen toward the window as she considers. "They're right. Surely there's a good reason for it. Perhaps she got distracted or something is keeping her longer than expected."

Sybil nosecrinkles at Variel, a smile melting like sunshine across her face. "Perhaps she has," she says, "It is Valentine's day soon, after all." Not that its Valentine's day yet, of course, but like most teenage girls of a certain age, she's already doing her groundwork to ensure that she's not left chocolate-less or card-less come the big day. "But yes, I admit, the Selwyns do excel at being heroic gentlemen, as do the Weasleys too." Saying that, she slips free of both her cousins and steps over to Variel, giving him a similar hug. "Don't think that I missed your belated attempt to rescue me either. Heroism should never go unrewarded." And she dots a light kiss to his cheek.

"It all depends on who is telling the story," Ulysses returns, on the subject of his status as a gentleman, "I've been dubbed a villain at times, but never with any real evidence to back it up." At Ilsa's hug, comment, and wink, he offers back another smile, with a pleased wrinkle of the nose to boot.
At the mention of Valentine's day, he sees the opportunity to distract Sybil from concern over the owl, and so he notes, "Wait a moment. If you were sending out Valentine's Day owls already… does this mean we get to be heroic again? Some poor soul getting the Protective Selwyn Boy Stare over dinner perhaps?"

"Baseless accusations, surely," Ilsa answers to Ulysses, smiling in return. "Sybil's quite right. I've never known a Selwyn who wasn't gentlemanly and protective and perfectly heroic. Weasleys too, I'm sure," she adds with a grin toward Variel. She doesn't know him quite as well, but they seem to have friends in common and if he has her family's stamp of approval, he must surely be alright.
"That's right. Valentine's Day will be here before we know it," Ilsa remarks, lips pursed in thought. Whatever captures her thoughts quickly fades away as she returns full attention to the conversation. "Do you have plans already? Or intentions to make plans happen?" Her question is directed toward Sybil, her tone both playful and curious.

Sybil pulls a face Ulysses' way before shaking her head, amusement showing in her eyes. "You'd better not terrorise any of my beaus." she tells him. "And, I'm not sending out Valentine's Day owls. I'm laying the groundwork for the ones I'll send later. Its called tactical manoeuvering." She hesitates, then adds, "… but don't tell anyone I told you that, its a terribly ancient and secret ritual known only to certain witches." She's pulling his leg, of course she is and there's even a wink to Ilsa as she says it. Further elaboration, if indeed more were to come, gets cut short by the arrival back of Florence into the tower, the short-eared owl floating in through the window before circling once and landing on Sybil's shoulder. There's a letter in her beak. She smiles as she takes it and looks over to Ilsa. "No… I don't have plans as yet Ilsa, but that might be about to change." A mouse from her pocket is fed to her owl, before she wanders over to the window, sliding a finger beneath the flap to open the envelope as she goes.

Ulysses nods, the peacock within in him responding quite well to the praise. Still, he looks to Sybil. "What good is all the hours of practice we put into it, the synchronizations… the perfection of the disapproving snarl… if we're not allowed to use it?"
A chuckle, then, as the owl arrives, and Sybil goes to read the results. He decides to give her a moment of privacy, and lifts up a back of flavored, enchanted mice he'd brought up anyhow, opening it and offering one to Ilsa. He'd come to send off a few missives as well, after all, but could share in the proper treatment of the owls. Had to, really. Dora would pout at him if he didn't.

"I am unversed in tactical maneuvering and the rules of planning such things. I may have to seek you out for lessons," Ilsa notes to Sybil, amusement curving her smile even wider. She lets out a quiet laugh, blue eyes shifting to settle upon Ulysses. "At least promise only to terrorise the ones who seem entirely unworthy." Although most of the candidates likely fall in that category, at least in the minds of protective family members.
"Thank you." A hand lifts to slip into the bag, withdrawing one of the enchanted mice as she searches the tower for her own owl. No sight of her yet. "Do you have plans for the upcoming holiday? Or will you be kept too busy chasing off any secret admirers Dora might receive?" she asks, only half-teasing. Because when it comes to Dora, /no one/ seems quite good enough for her sweet cousin.

"I make no promises," Ulysses offers, and only partially in jest, "Since viable candidates must pass muster. This is not an easy task. But I will certainly try to be giving."
Asked of his own plans, he shakes his head, the tone of his answer actually a bit lower, "Who has the time these days?" And mention of Dora, and Valentines… seems to hit an odd chord with him. Indeed, he seems to sour almost immediately. He takes a moment to feed a few of the school owls, offering each a treat before giving them a letter to send.
Then, with a faked smile, he nods to the three before excusing himself.

By the time Sybil has read her letter and turned back to the others, Ulysses it would seem has finished his letter sending and left the tower. She grins at Ilsa. "I'm so glad that he's Dora's brother and not mine, I'd not be allowed to have half the friends that I do if he were. Thank goodness the authority of cousins only extends so far, don't you think?" A lift of the letter and she drags the edge of it beneath her nose, inhaling with a slight grimace. "I perfume my letters, but there's something about a boy dabbing his with cologne that somehow seems a little wrong, don't you think? Still…" A wave of it in the air, "… that this one knows how to write eloquently really helps his case." A pause. "Have you plans for Valentine's yet yourself?"

Ilsa watches Ulysses' sudden departure with a bewildered expression. "Note to self: never utter 'Dora' and 'admirers' in the same sentence." She steps forward, offering the enchanted mouse to one of the school owls and watching as he snatches it from her outstretched hand with greedy precision. "I agree. We probably ought to be grateful for the connection we have. Enough to warrant a protective cousin watching out for us, not so close that we have to worry about being policed /too/ closely," she notes with a smile toward Sybil. "I'm lucky my older brother is often too distracted with his own housemates and friends to check up on me so often." Her attention shifts to the letter, curiosity piqued. "Seems he wanted to make it fancy for you. Good intentions and a well-written letter could go a long way. Perhaps there's a possibility there?" She pauses, expression growing thoughtful. "I think Cedric has some secret plan up his sleeve. Since… it seems we're an item now," she admits with a small smile.

"Oooo. You and Avery? Oh gosh you need to tell me all about it," Sybil says, tucking the letter into her cloak pocket. "I don't really know him that well, so you'll have to fill me in! Where did you meet, for instance? And I don't want to hear that you've known him since forever, but details… Details!" Enthused, it might seem, by the birth of a new romance, she snugs an arm through Ilsa's and pulls her over to one side of the tower, kicking droppings off one of the ledges before pulling herself up to sit, feet dangling. "Here. Sit with me. We can talk whilst I pen a reply to my letter."

Ilsa is being led to the side of the tower, her arm linked with Sybil's. The two girls perch on the ledge, talking aimably. "Only if you promise to share all the details about potential Valentine's Day suitors," she counters, a certain shyness pervading her tone as she is questioned about Cedric. "Well. I knew of him and had seen him around, but we hadn't really officially met until one recent Hogsmeade weekend. We were both in the quill shop and got to talking… and eventually he invited me to the candy shop and bought me fudge. He spoils me terribly and I'm rather unused to… well, any sort of attention like this. It's overwhelming, but nice too."

Madeline doesn't have an owl - but she just loves the owl tower. From time to time, she climbs up the steps, just to see if she can coax someone's owl down for a visit. It's with that in mind that she's trotting up the stairs, a hopeful smile on her features, and her hands hidden inside her robes for warmth.

Sybil settles herself comfortably, drawing the letter once more from her pocket. "Its odd how many romances start over a trip to Hogsmeade and fudge," she teases, her smile warm where it meets Ilsa's own. "As for not being used to attention, I've no idea why. You're lovely. I'm glad that someone has noticed that, gladder that its Avery." Gladder. Is that even a word? Perhaps it is in Sybil-world, the young witch looking down at her letter once more with the faintest exhalation of a breath. And away it goes again, tucked into her pocket just in time, perhaps, because Madeline's arrival necessarily truncates the talk of boys and boyfriends and there's a quirk of a brow in the First-Year's direction. "Were you looking for an owl, Evans?"

Ilsa nods to Sybil, a hand lifting to smooth her robes. "That so kind of you to say. Thank you, Syb. For that, and just being glad. So far everyone else has seemed to want to give me warnings instead." She wrinkles her nose and then shakes her head as if to clear it of the current topic. Madeline's arrival is met with a sincere smile as the Hufflepuff offers a wave. "Hi there, Evans."

Avery? Were they talking about Avery? /Why/ were they talking about Avery? /Which/ Avery? Did much matter? They were both perfectly horrid. She looks between the two older girls, smiling brightly at Ilsa. "Ilsa the Illustrious!" she greets the girl cheerfully. "Hello Pyrites. Oh, not exactly. Well, I mean, sorta, I guess. I just like coming up and seeing if any of the owls will visit with me. They're just so /neat/, aren't they?" Her attention shift to Ilsa as she asks in confusion, "What warnings?"

Sybil blanks a moment. She looks at Madeline, ordering her thoughts as to warnings, and eventually tells the girls, "Warnings. Like - don't kiss boys because a kitten dies each time you do." Oh now, where did she get that from? Gerald perhaps when he was handing out advice in the Great Hall the other day. Obviously it made a huge impression upon the girl, because she's trotting it out now, the blonde glancing to Ilsa with a wink before pressing her hands together between her knees and returning attention to Madeline. "You can give my owl a mouse if you want. She's called Florence. Florrie." And she whistles softly, the sound filtering through the tower to draw a pretty, short-eared owl to her shoulder.

"My Nyx would be eager to soak up any extra attention you'd give her," Ilsa responds to Madeline, her gaze sweeping over the tower and then out the window. "Who knows where she's gotten off to now though?" She turns to admire Sybil's owl, making a valiant effort to appear in solemn agreement with Sybil's warning. The edges of her lips twitch as she tries to suppress a smile. "It's true. So many warnings of that variety, you'll see."

"/Yuck/," Madeline responds. "The only boys I kiss are my dad and my uncles and my grandpa," she insists, tapping her cheek to show where the kiss goes, in case there's any doubt. As Sybil offers the chance to feed her owl, though, the girl's eyes widen, and she smiles brightly. "Aww, that'd be great! I'd love to feed her! Hi, Florrie!" she greets the owl happily as she comes down. "She's just so /pretty/. I hope I have an owl one day."

Sybil scritches Florence's chest then drops her shoulder, encouraging the young owl to hop off. "Evans," she says quietly, extending a finger in the younger girl's direction, indicating that she should go to her. "Just hold your hand out, fingers in a fist, and she'll come," she advises. "And - have a mouse for her if you have one. If not, she won't mind terribly, though she might fly into your dorm tonight and peck your head until you wake right up."

"And you're right to keep it that way for many, many years. Kissing boys can lead to trouble." Ilsa offers Madeline an approving look, then falls quiet to watch Sybil instruct the girl. "Pecked in the head. That would certainly be one way to wake up."

"Oh. I don't have any mice," Madeline says a bit regretfully. "But I don't mind if you come wake me, Florrie," she adds, holding out her arm, hand in a fist, for the owl to jump onto. "You're just beauuuutiful," she coos. Her eyes go to Sybil as she adds, "You're so lucky!"

"I expect that you'll have an owl one day," Sybil says to Madeline. "If you want one. I've never not had an owl, but I suppose that its different for muggle-borns." Yes, she is aware of Madline's birth-status, though apart from that small statement she doesn't appear to make a fuss about it, its just a statement of fact. "Here. Give Florrie this." A box is pulled from her pocked and tossed towards Madeline. It contains, once the girl opens it, two dead mice.

"I didn't think about that." Ilsa's comment is slow and thoughtful. She appears to be referring not to the fact that Madeline is muggle-born, but that her lifestyle wouldn't have lended itself to being anywhere near owls. Not like in the wizardin world. "I suppose it's a little different when your mail isn't sent by owl. Surely you'll have one, one day, and it will be lucky to have such a sweet attentive owner."

"Well - right now, we have German Jewish children staying with us," Madeline confides. "And my mum and dad think it'd be odd, if I had an owl hanging about, so they don't think we should get an owl and they're probably right, even though owls are just /great/. I'm trying to talk them into a raven. And my Uncle has an owl! Avi! He's a great big thing, brown and kinda speckled. Florrie's prettier, thought."
She accepts the mice as they're offered, giving Sybil a bright smile. She pulls one out of the box, then frowns consideringly. What's the safest way to offer it…? Is it like with horses? She puts the mouse onto the palm of her hand, holding it flat out towards the owl. "Here you go, Florrie!"

"That works," Sybil says, "Though Florrie does like it if I pretend that the mouse is alive still. I hold them by the tail and jiggle them so she has to 'catch' it. Also, there is no owl more beautiful than Florrie." She might be right there, Florence being the owner of what might amount to mascara coated lashes were she a person. Deep black feathers flick out around her eyes, and she bats these slowly as she dips her head to look at the mouse. But she only looks, her talons gripping into Madeline's hand as her head tilts, fixing the girl with intelligent eyes. Sybil laughs. "See? She wants you to play."

Ilsa ahs softly. "I suppose having an owl hanging about might seem a rather odd in the Muggle world. Your parents are probably wise to wait." It's all assumptions and conjecture, really, as Ilsa doesn't have much exposure to Muggles or how they do things. Her gaze returns to Florence, watching the owl's reaction. "She is exceedingly lovely."

"Oh," Madeline remarks in surprise. She sets down the mouse, so she can pick it up by the tail instead, dangling and wiggling it in front of the owl while watching Florrie's reaction to this. Is she doing it right…? "There's so many different /kinds/ of owls," she adds. "I'm not really sure which kind I would like."

Sybil nods. "When you're ready for an owl, you'll know which one is for you," she says. "Its as much your owl choosing you as of you choosing him or her." She chews on her lower lip, folding her letter up carefully, the crease she makes in it pristine and perfect. "You said your Uncle has an owl? Then he may take you to find one. I'm assuming he's a wizard?" Sucking her breath in bounces her heel off the wall beneath the ledge on which she and Ilsa are sitting. *b'dnk* *b'dnk*

"Sybil's right. There are so many different kinds to choose from, but when it comes time and you find the right one, you'll know. You /both/ will. I always envisioned having some grand, majestic owl with sweeping wingspan. But then I saw Nyx, a small little thing, and I simply can't imagine having any other companion than her. When it's right, you'll know." Ilsa's fingers pick at the fabric of her robes before she folds her hands together for warmth. Her head tilts as she watches Maddie, curious to hear her talk of her uncle.

"I hope you're right," Madeline agrees, still dangling the mouse for Florrie. "And - yeah. He is. Uncle Perry works at the /Ministry/." There's some definite pride in the girl's voice as she ways that. "In the Office of Misinformation. Makes me luckier than the others - the other Muggle-borns, that is. I mean, my Uncle already went through school, so he knows what it's like when I really need someone to talk to…"

"There's always the tutors," Sybil says. "And other muggle-borns. Half-bloods too." Oddly, she doesn't push the young girl in the direction of pure-bloods, perhaps because something within her just likes to hold that slight distance between those of lesser blood and herself. A tweak is made of her cloak and she crosses one leg over the other, curling fingers around the edge of the sill. "Still. If your uncle went through Hogwarts, I'd imagine he's already given you all the survival tips you need. And it is, at times, a little like survival. Wouldn't you say, Ilsa?"

"I think there are always those to look to for support if you really need it. Teachers, other students. But having a trusted adult to ask is probably very helpful, especially in your position," Ilsa answers. She brightens as her erstwhil owl finally makes an appearance, gliding into the tower and settling upon the Hufflepuff's shoulder. Fingers lift to give the bird an affectionate scritch. "Yes, it is a bit like survival," she agrees with a small smile. "It can certainly feel like it anyway."

"Oh, well, of course there's always the other students and everyone," Madeline agrees. "But it's nice - having someone in my family who understands. I mean - someone I've known longer than just five months!" She eyes Florrie, then looks at Sybil. "Maybe she's not hungry," she suggests, lowering the wiggling mouse that the owl continues to ignore.
"Oh. She's cute, isn't she?" she adds towards Ilsa as her owl appears.

Another low whistle is given, Sybil calling her owl back to her. There's a slow extension of Florence's wings and she leaves Madeline to fly back to her owner, briefly considering perching on her head before settling on her shoulder. "You're a bad, bad girl, Florrie," she chides her, taking the letter from her pocket to waggle in front of her bird's beak. "This took you altogether to long to deliver to me. Are you playing fast and loose with your loyalty? Is someone bribing you to stay with them to make me worry?"

Ilsa laughs. "True enough. Five months doesn't quite compare to the trust you'd have for a beloved family member," she agrees. "What house was your uncle in when he studied here?" Attention returns to the owl on her shoulder, her expression filled with fondness. "She is. This is Nyx. Quite the little personality." Hearing Sybil's remark to her owl, she casts her a teasing look. "Perhaps the author of that letter was so charming that she wanted to stay?"

There's one person she KNOWS wont be messing with the owl, and as luck has it, Gerald happens along the way rather slowly this day. Robes undone to allow him access to his pockets, he slumps along convinced perhaps that he's about to find himself alone (likely to cower as he sends his message). Color him disappointed when he spots the girls. He waves though, and of course offers a small (if not theatrical) bow toward Sybil as he heads that way.

"He was in Ravenclaw," Madeline answers. "He keeps teasing me for ending up in Gryffindor - but I like it." As Gerald appears, she raises her hand, waving to him. "Hi, Cornfoot!" she greets him, then adds towards the other two girls, "Well, I better go. I promised Chastity I'd look over her potions work before class."

Sybil waves to Madeline as she departs, though quite frankly her attention is more upon Gerald when he walks in. Her smile for him is immediate, and there's a sudden pinkness to her cheeks that has everything to do with his appearance and nothing whatsoever to do with the chill of the tower in general. "Hello Cornfoot." How terribly formal. "We were just discussing owls and dates. Or at least we were." There's a glance to Ilsa and she deflects attention from herself by adding in an almost whisper, "Ilsa has started dating someone."

"See you later, Madeline the Magnificent," Ilsa calls out, waving to the younger girl as she announces her departure. Spotting the newcomer, she turns to let her wave double as a greeting to Gerald. "Hi, Cornfoot." She sneaks a glance toward her cousin and now it's /her/ turn for flushed cheeks. "It's still all so recent."

Gerald waves lazily toward the departing Madeline, though his attention is firmly on the blushing Sybil. Of course, he does send a thoughtful glance toward Ilsa as well. She gets a grin, and a nod, though his eyes slide easily back toward Sybil. "Sybil is dating someone too, though she insists on being difficult and coy about /everything/." He grins, despite his tone, sending her a wink before he frowns at the owl. "Doesn't she have something to take somewhere?" Creepy thing.

Sybil avoids answering or responding to the slight tease Gerald hands out by coiling another loop of her scarf around her neck. It muffles her nose and mouth, so her reply might be a little difficult to understand, it sounds a little like "Am not," but that might just be conjecture. She flicks a foot out, catching Gerald on his hips. Sill-sitting has its advantages it seems.

"Eww! If you're dating someone - does that mean you're kissing him?" Madeline asks, making her face. "But then I guess - Shazi and Variel are dating. I think. And that's not so bad…" She's stopped by the stairs, looking back at the trio. "Who is it?"

The Gryffindor firstie's question causes Ilsa's cheeks to color, blushing brighter. She clears her throat and finds a convenient distraction in Gerald's remark. "Wait, what? Sybil Pyrites! Have you been withholding information? Or is Cornfoot just speaking in the hopes that it will come true?" Blue eyes bright with amusement, she glances between the pair and then back to Madeline. "Cedric Avery," she admits with a small smile.

Gerald snorts back toward the hiding, reddening Ravenclaw. "Oh, we're dating. She's just in complete and utter denial about the whole thing. I think she's ashamed of me." He shrugs, perhaps far too comfortable with that possibility. Course, Madi manages to draw a look of annoyance from him as well, but he swallows it back. "No Maddi. She most certainly is /not/ kissing him. She's selfish." Course, the kick to his hip causes a small flinch from him. "And abusive." He adds with a frown, reaching to pinch her side gently before she gets a grin. "She'd be furious if I went on a date with another girl. She doesn't want to admit it though."

"We've had 'one' date. Non-date'," Sybil says quietly, holding up one finger to illustrate the point. "I don't think that that really qualifies as dating someone, do you?" Oddly, there's not an awful amount of vehemence to her denial, the girl biting her lip and looking away from Gerald as she says that. "And, I'm not your keeper. If you wanted to, you could date anyone that you like." Gosh, that sounded a little forced.

"But you're /nice/!" Madeline exclaims. "Why would you date /him/?" she asks, making a face. "He's… he's… he's… Well you're /nice/." And he's not. She looks at the other two, as if they'd share some insight on why /Ilsa/ would date /Avery/. …and what's going on with Pyrites and Cornfoot?

Ilsa lets her gaze shifts between the pair for a moment. Sybil. Gerald. Back and forth. She ducks her head, a tangle of curls falling forward to momentarily obscure her amused expression. "A 'non-date', hm? Sounds like you'd better still be working hard to woo her," she directs toward Gerald. She sneaks another look toward Sybil, leaning in to nudge her playfully with her shoulder although no words accompany the gesture. Her smile conveys a sort of 'We'll talk later' message. She blinks, casting Madeline a curious look. "Because he's kind and funny and interesting. And nice. He /is/ nice. You don't think so?"

Gerald shrugs, "Okay, fine." He says simply, though his attention is drawn back toward Ilsa with ease. "I dunno. A guy gets shot down too much and he moves on." He frowns just a little but he does back off to give Sybil his space, glancing back toward Madeline as she speaks. He doesn't know Cedric, so theres nothing he can really offer on that topic.

"On the other hand, something easily won isn't always something worth having," Sybil says, wriggling until she's far enough forward that she can slip to the floor. She lands lightly on her feet, pushing her hair back from her face with one hand before shoving the letter into her pocket and pulling a knitted hat out in its place. She tugs it over silvery blonde hair, perhaps with undue force, then without saying too much more, she heads for the stairs.

Madeline shakes her head, and moves back towards the other, tugging at Ilsa's arm so she can speak in a hushed voice (hoping the others won't hear), "He really, /really/ isn't," she confides. "He said the most horrible things about the Sykes Gala - who says horrible things about /that/? - and he said them in front of /Variel/, and you know he was there and was hurt, even! And then he… he said stuff about Mrs. Proudmore and Mrs. Rousseau - right there in the common room! Where Chastity could have heard it and everything! And this was /weeks/ go, and it hadn't been that long at all since it'd even happened, and… and… and, well, I just think he's horrid."

This is very…outside of his social abilities. Boys and people he doesn't know. With the addition of looming, staring owls Gerald is quick to step back again as Sybil slides to her feet. "No, these are your friends. I'll leave." He says quickly, turning to head away as he shoves the letter into his pocket. "By Ilsa, Madi."
Gerald pages: Im not staying in this scene. lol

"And some things are well worth the wait," Ilsa reminds Gerald with a pointed look, her attention straying briefly to Sybil as she appears to be leaving. She frowns faintly but then turns to Madeline, her brow furrowed. "He did? What sort of things? That's not excusable, especially in front of those who were so terribly affected, but… I don't know, Maddie."

Sybil hunches her shoulders. Out of sorts, she beats Gerald to the door and disappears through it. Goodness knows where she's heading, perhaps somewhere quiet. To think.

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