(1940-01-07) Wash Away Your Fears
Details for Wash Away Your Fears
Summary: Emily and Niles meet up and talk about fear.
Date: January 7, 1940
Location: Art Gallery - Staircases, Hogwarts

On a break from classes, Emily has slipped into the art gallery. After a glance around the room to which the young girl is pensive, she hugs her sketchbook closer to herself and moves to the side of one wall where she sits. With her book protectively in her lap, she proceeds to take out a quill, only she taps the feather against her bottom lip as she ponders.

Niles steps into the gallery. It's not a frequent destination for him. Indeed, from the way he looks around the room as he enters, this may be his first time here. He prowls across the polished floors, his footsteps sharp in the quiet as he moves between the columns, his expression neutral as he eyes the pieces of art he passes. When his meandering brings him in view of Emily, he stops and looks at her for a moment, and then he moves towards her. "Hello," he says. "What are you doing lurking about in here?"

Emily isn’t really looking around as she thinks, nor does she really hear the footsteps. The voice, however, brings her head quickly up as she blinks, locking her hazel eyes on Niles. An amused smile slips across her face as she regards the third year, lowering the quill to her closed book. “Well, nothing, I haven’t started anything,” she answers. “Have you come to ogle at the artwork, or are you running away from something?”

Niles stops in his tracks. His eyes narrow, and for a moment he considers her question in silence. Then a corner of his mouth twitches and curls into a half-smile. "And why would I run away from something?" he asks. "What exactly should I be running from?"

Emily lightly taps the feather quill against the cover of her sketchbook, smiling at Niles even as her eyes twinkle with mirth. “Should I take that as a yes?” She laughs, clearly playing with the boy. After a second, she adds in as a more serious answer, “Well, I don’t know, maybe you’re running from a Mudblood.” And then after a pause she blinks, perking up as she glances to the door quickly. “Are you? You aren’t bringing one here, are you?” Her eyes narrow fiercely, warningly.

Niles doesn't laugh, but he does smirk. But that doesn't last, as his mouth twists with distaste at her next words. "Run from a Mudblood?" he says. "What a ridiculous thing to run from. That's like running from dirt. Do you run from dirt, Gibbon?" He glances over his shoulder to the door, and when he looks back at her there's a glint in his eye. A smile creeps back onto his face. "There's one coming right now," he says. "What are you going to do?"

“Well it’s just like a boy not to care about getting dirty,” returns Emily with a little sniff. Oh yes, if there was a cloud of dust blowing towards her, she would run. Run and squeal and probably want a bath. She glances around the gallery, not bothering to open up her sketch book while Niles is here, but she blinks and glances to him with a frown. “What?” she snaps, her gaze darting to the door and back to him. She shifts a little, growing a little uncomfortable. “It’s bad enough they’re in our classrooms again, but is there no place safe from them?” Emily pulls herself to her feet, darting over to the door and apprehensively peeks out into the corridor.

The corridor is empty. Niles bursts into a fit of silent giggles that he struggles to get under control before Emily decides to look back at him. He follows her to the door at a more casual pace, pretending to admire the art on the wall. "I think Mudbloods can be great fun," he says, in a tone that suggests he's thinking of sport rather than play. "Every place is safe from them. Are you suggesting that they're dangerous? Are you really so scared of them?"

Hmm. Emily looks up and down the corridor, narrowing her eyes suspiciously. She smiles at a girl her age, same House. “Nisa, did you see anyone else headed this way?” The girl blinks, lets out a ‘hrm’ of thought, and shakes her head. “No, I didn’t see anyone. I’m headed down to the library,” she says, as if explaining why she isn’t stopping. Emily nods. “Okay,” she says, and then pulls her head back into the room. Rounding on Niles, she gives him a fierce look. “Well you’re mistaken. Don’t scare me like that,” she lets out as she breathes out in relief, tapping her heart with a hand. Eyeing him, she sniffs as she steps back over to her bag, putting away her quill and pulling the strap up to her shoulder, shifting her sketchbook lightly. “They are,” Emily insists, matter-of-factly. “They spread their taint on everything.” She shudders. “You get too close them, and you risk exposure.”

This time Niles does laugh. "Scare you?" he asks. "I didn't mean to scare you." He smiles at her, showing her a few teeth, and then shrugs as she walks past him and back to her bag. "There's nothing to be afraid of. You can't catch anything from a Mudblood by being too close to them." His smile fades. "Unless you mean emotionally close. That's another matter." He cocks his head to one side, looking at the bag she now has over her shoulder. "Now who's running from something?"

Emily sniffs as she tilts her head, eyeing him thoughtfully. “But they are dangerous - or does their terrorism acts not count? Mother says it’s best to keep your distance.” She hmms, looking down at her side at her bag before looking to her housemate again. “I just want to be ready in case one does make their way in here.” She brings her sketchbook around to wrap both arms around it, looking him over before she speaks again. “I’m going to go to the study hall. I’ve got an assignment I should work on. Would you offer some help on a Charms report?”

Niles frowns as he considers this. "Even bugs can bite," he admits, "but that doesn't mean you should be afraid of them. Instead of running away from every little bug you see, you can just step on them." He stomps his foot on the floor, and the sound echoes through the gallery. "And squish." He shrugs and then shakes his head when she asks him for help with her homework. "No. I won't. But," he adds, and he seems amused, "I can go with if you need someone to protect you from all the little bugs out there."

Emily makes a face and shakes her head. “Bugs are gross and icky and I do not like them,” she retorts with fact, wrinkling her nose. But she stops as she comes up beside the third year. “But if you want to stomp on them and get your boots all gooey, then you can keep them away from me, certainly.” She offers him a smile, an amused little one, and begins to walk towards the door. “I hope you wipe your shoes off before coming into our commons.”

"Hm," Niles says in a sort of half laugh, half grunt. "I'm not afraid of stomping on a few bugs. I'll come with you, and maybe you'll see that there's nothing to be afraid of." A wry smile appears on his face as he starts walking alongside her. "Of course I do," he says. "We wouldn't want to track Mudblood across the floor, would we?"

Emily gives this thought as she walks out into the corridor. “Well at least you know how to be clean,” she asserts. She smiles at Niles, lowering her sketch book a little as she lets it rest in both her hands, lacing her fingers behind it.

Niles doesn't respond as they walk down the corridor, him with his hands at his sides. He doesn't look at her either, his eyes instead scanning the hallway and, more particularly, the students in the hallway. "So," he says after a moment. "How do you know who's a Mudblood and who isn't? Have you memorized the names and faces of the entire school? Or do you just guess and hope that the person you're talking to isn't? Or," he adds, and here he looks at her, a faint amusement in his eyes, "do you avoid talking to anyone you're unsure of?"

Emily walks in silence as well, carrying her book. There’s a moment where she shifts her hand for a moment to adjust the strap of her bag, but returns it to the book she’s carrying. “Yes, how are we supposed to tell if they’re Mudblood?” She hrms, looking at him. “I know I’m safe in my own House, for one. And a lot of times, there’s a tell. They always show what they are eventually. Of course, until you figure it out it’s quite horrible.” She lets out a dramatic sigh. “When you suddenly realise what you’re close to you just want to hurry away and have a good bath.”

Niles glances at her. He seems almost surprised. "So you don't hide from everyone until you learn their blood status," he says. "How brave of you." He continues to look for threats as they walk, but a smile tugs at the corners of his mouth as though he's trying to hold back laughter. "And then what do you do?" he asks. "Once you've learned what they are? You don't actually have a bath, do you?"

A bit of colour touches Emily’s cheeks as she glances to the floor. A tell, perhaps, that she might actually feel the need to clean herself. “Well,” she starts, looking at the boy. “They’re dirty,” she insists, giving a sniff. She walks along the corridor towards the staircases, looking fierce as she studies his face. “Oh, laugh, but I like to stay pristine.”

Niles does laugh, a low chuckle that doesn't carry very far. "You're funny," he says, his eyes gleaming with humor. "You can't get dirty from being near a Mudblood, even if you touch them. They only thing they can spoil is your mind, and that's only if you treat them like people. A bath isn't going to wash that away." He smirks. "You don't treat them like people, do you?"

“But you feel dirty when you come across them,” Emily insists. “And I feel much better after a bath.” Still, her cheeks stay tinged with colour as she climbs the steps. “Oh, I don’t even talk to them if I can help it,” she says quickly, looking to Niles with a dreaded look.

"I do not," Niles says. "I don't feel dirty when I come across them. Nor do I feel dirty when I come across a bird or a dog or a cat." He glances sideways at her, and his smile grows, showing some of his teeth. "Because you're afraid," he says. It's not a question.

Emily sniffs, lifting her sketchbook to hug against her. She stops when the staircase swings, shifting its position so she’s force to wait. “I do,” she says plainly. She looks at him, and immediately answers, “Yes, they terrify me. What sort of disaster will they cause next?” She shudders, bringing her book in closer. As the strap of her bag slips off her shoulder, she moves a hand to pull it back up.

Niles looks back at her, and his eyes narrow at the immediate admission. "I see," he says, his voice going quiet. He says nothing for a while, just watches her in silence with one hand on the banister as the staircase shifts about. "Let's go find one," he says all of a sudden. "A Mudblood. Let's find one." He smiles. "I'll show you how scary they really are."

The staircase locks into position, and now they must wait until it returns to the right place. Emily lets out a gasp at Niles’ suggestion, turning her hazel eyes to look at him with wide eyes. “What?” she snaps. “Why would I go look for one? I’d rather not,” she says as she sniffs.

"Because you're afraid," Niles answers, as though the answer were as simple as that. "And because facing your fears is the best way to overcome them." He grins, his eyes shining with anticipation. This is going to be fun. "But don't worry. I'll be right there with you. I won't let a filthy Mudblood hurt you."

Emily narrows her eyes at the boy, eyes fierce. “But I- I-“ She blinks, shaking her head vigorously as her twin braids swing behind. “I don’t want to,” she says as surge of panic rises into her chest. “Niles, they’ll- they’ll snatch you up in Hogsmeade and- and they’ll torture you!” Well, she can’t go to Hogsmeade, but he can. “You should stay away.”

"Let them try," Niles says with all the confidence of a kid who thinks he can take on the world. He slips a hand into his robes and draws forth his wand, showing it to her. "I'll show them what it means to be a wizard." He watches her, grinning, but then notices a hint of the panic she feels. His eyes narrow and his grin fades. He puts his wand away. "Forget it," he says, his voice quiet again. "You're no Slytherin." He turns away from her.

At Niles’ bold declaration, Emily nibbles at her bottom lip and hugs her book close. Looking up at him fiercely, she says, “You’ll show an adult?” she asks, highly doubtful. She looks away from him only to bring her gaze back to him, flushing angrily. “What?” she snaps. “Not a Slytherin?” She lifts her head and sniffs, turning purposefully toward the staircase she waits for. “A mule didn’t eat my brains.” The staircases begin to shift, and she watches the connection sharply.

Niles's voice is cold. "You may have been sorted into the same house as me," he says, "but you are not a true Slytherin. A true Slytherin wouldn't be afraid of scum." He smiles, but this time there's no amusement in the expression, and he doesn't look at her. "What's the matter? Have I upset you? What are you going to do about it? Are you going to run away and take a bath?"

The staircase connects with a thud, and Emily braces herself with a hand to the railing. She sniffs as she steps onto the landing, but turns briefly to look to Niles, wagging a finger at him. “A gnat just got less irritating than you,” she says. She shakes her head as she turns away, letting out a laugh as she appreciates her comment herself, walking on ahead.

Niles does, however, find this amusing, and he laughs under his breath. "Does this mean you don't want me to accompany you anymore?" he asks as Emily continues on. He remains in the staircase, watching her with a wry smile on his face. "You'd better decide before the stairs start moving again."

“Only if I get to equip a fly swatter,” Emily shoots back over her shoulder. She doesn’t slow down, or spare more than a second look, just keeps walking with a sway to her hips.

"Goodbye then," Niles calls. Laughing to himself, he turns and heads back down the stairs.

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