(1941-03-05) Stories and Sweets
Details for Stories and Sweets
Summary: The students get a break from studying with a bonfire and a bit of companionship.
Date: 5 March 1941
Location: Grassy Knoll, Hogwarts

Well back into the swing of school after the holidays, the students still need to find time to cut loose and be kids between blowing up cauldrons and turning mice into toadstools. Somewhat grudgingly, Mister Pringle gathered up means for a small-ish (can't have the students enjoying themselves too much) bonfire on the school grounds, the glow warming a bit of the cold March night. There are members of staff keeping an eye on things from the fringes, and students have come out in force, milling around, taking seats in little clumps here and there, to enjoy the company, the crackling blaze, and food. Jacket potatoes were laid in under the wood before the fire started, and have been baking themselves to fluffy perfection, they just need to be fished out and hit with a cooling charm. Some of the Hufflepuffs have supplied treacle toffee and toffee apples, and it seems everyone who went into Hogsmeade today has pockets stuffed full of sweets from town.

Melody has already found a nice place near the fire to lay out a blanket, the corners held down with stones, and a large picnic basket open in the center. It seems to be available to anyone who will stop and have a chat, the blonde 7th year herself sitting off on an edge next to Brody. She holds her hands out to the fire and asks with bright speculation, "Do you think any of the Centaurs will come and join us?"

Brody similarly has his hands out, rubbing them together and warming them as he sits next to Melody. His eyes glance up and then around the grounds for a few moments before he says, "Possibly so. The fire is bright, I am sure it will draw their attention. Maybe they will at least come over to see what is going on." He glances sideways to Melody and smiles as he gestures, "This is pretty cool. I am glad we finally got a little break."

A figure takes shape in the shadows. It is almost as though the shape is formed by the shadows, but they neither create nor define the creature. Green-grey eyes catch the light of the fire a little bit away, and the shadowy shape watches. A tail flicks back and forth, a leg lifts and then, just as silently, is set down. Slow movements, graceful and thoughtful, carry the being closer, though not quite in the light of the fire. Not quite. It watches in silence, and for the now that is all.

Erica chews on some of the taffy even though she is one of those with her pockets stuffed. But this is free goodies and she's quite the oppertunist. "Can't wait til it's warm enough to go swimming again." The persnickity about cleanliness rather enjoys swimming. As opposed to sitting on a log dragged over by Ogg for seating by the fire. She spends a full few minutes doing her best to make sure the spot she's reserving on the log is clean and more importantly bug free! Once she's sure it's clean and pestless she lays a towel over the spot and finally turns and takes a seat. "Are we going to tell stories?"

The Ravenclaw in her seventh year has her dark red hair in a braid, tucked under the hood of her dark robes. Elspeth stops by Melody's blanket, and noting the basket, she stoops to pull a little bag of candies from her pocket to add to the free for all, then she settles down next to the Hufflepuff. "You have found one of the best spots tonight, Abernathy," she says and looks past her. "Hullo, Iolar."

Riddle nose wrinkles and he rubs at it to cover it up. The idea of being joined by the centaurs sours his enjoyment of the warmth of the fire. While they are not entirely segregating themselves there is a cloister effect of the Knights surrounding Tom. "I have a story. If no one wants to start?"

Akilina raises her hand timidly. Usually soft spoken and shy this is quite the bit of unusual behavior. But without her brother, Alexei to speak-up for her this year since he graduated she has very little by very little started to speak up for herself. Softly she starts, "I have a story, it is a Russian story. My little siblings think it's scary…it's their favorite one though."

"OGG!" Ogg happily bellows and waves a big meaty hand at the shadowy figure. The wave turns into a beakoning towards him and he pats a large stone that was once a standing stone that's flopped over long ago. It really is the perfect resting place for a centaur. "Ogg. Ogg!" He claps and gives a big grin that some might find scary itself. He points to the students pondering for stories. Ogg wants a story!

A sideways lean has Melody's shoulder bumping lightly against Brody's. "There's so much studying. I should have stopped at fifth year, I think." It's an amused musing, but surely there's a part of the fairly aimless girl that finds it a truth. Her head turns, blond hair fanning out on one shoulder, as Elspeth joins the little group gathering, and she grins at the Head Girl. "It does good to come out early. But, I must admit, Eoin was the one who sat here after dinner to save us the spot." Said younger brother can easily be seen breezing about the gathering with friends, stopping here and there to share treats and laughter.

The held out hands clap together delightedly as stories are offered up, a special indulgent grin going to her younger housemate, then sweeping the others around. "Of course there will be stories!" she chirps happily. Brown eyes rest on a vaguely known Slytherin and his group of friends, "Would you like to start then? And then Moscovitz?" is proposed. Having been a housemate of Akilina's older brother, she's aware of the girl's shyness, and tries to be encouraging in the absence of the familiarity of Alexei.

Brody leans casually over, returning that shoulder bump Melody's way. "Yeah, the schoolwork is starting to get so busy. It is hard for me to keep up with all of it and my broom work too." He blows out a sigh and then glances over toward Elspeth. "Hello there, Captain. I wasn't sure if I would see you here tonight." Brody's eyes turn as Eoin is referenced and he watches the boy move about with his friends. "He is getting good at Quidditch. Those lessons I've been having with him are paying off. He has come a long way."

A soft note sounds in the darkness. It seems almost like an owl, breathy and slightly hooting. Or perhaps it is some sort of nightengale, for the notes continue, a gentle background to the students' chatter. The figure eyes Ogg thoughtfully, then edges back a little. It does not want to be seen yet, perhaps. But the music continues, ethereal and hauting, strange and compelling and oddly gentle.

Riddle declines going first with a noble bow of his head and a gesture to concede going first. Mostly his withdrawl has to do with the Centaur. A murmured conversation among the Knights has points of glancing towards the centaur and then towards key others in attendence. Obviously a discussion about if they should stay or go is going on.

After clearing her throat Akilina shifty glances around before starting the story. "A moujik — that's a russian peasant — was driving along one night with a load of pots. His horse grew tired, and all of a sudden it came to a stand-still alongside of a graveyard. The moujik unharnessed his horse and set it free to graze; meanwhile he laid himself down on one of the graves. For some reason he just couldn't sleep." Akilina's voice is just under what would be a normal volume creating a need to lean in to be heard clearly. "He remained lying there some time."

Taking advantage of the chance to have someone else in charge, Elspeth pulls her knees and wraps her arms around her shins. She smiles to Melody's encouragement of the younger Ravenclaw. "Even I am able to have fun once in awhile," she tells Brody with a light smile. "It is actually written in the handbook for Head Girls and Boys." She quiets as Akilina begins, her gaze shifting to the younger girl, although the Knights are considered from the corner of her eye.

Akilina impulsively flares out her fingers and leans forward and lifts her voice for the first word, "Suddenly the grave began to open beneath him: he felt the movement and sprang to his feet. The grave opened, and out of it came a corpse." Extends her hands and leans back and sits back up again like a corpse rising from the grave. "It was wrapped in a white shroud," She coils her Ravenclaw scarf around her head, leaving her mouth exposed and lifting up her hands to pantomime along with the next part of the story as well, "holding its coffin lid. The corpse came out and ran to the church, laid the coffin-lid at the door, and then set off for the village."

"The moujik was a daring fellow. He picked up the coffin-lid and remained standing beside his cart, waiting to see what would happen. After a short delay the dead man came back, and was going to snatch up his coffin-lid — but it was not to be seen. Then the corpse began to track it out, traced it up to the moujik, and said: "Give me my lid: if you don't, I'll tear you to bits!" "And my hatchet, how about that?" answers the moujik. "Why, it's I who'll be chopping you into small pieces!"

"Do give it back to me, good man!" begs the corpse. "I'll give it when you tell me where you've been and what you've done." "Well, I've been in the village, and there I've killed a couple of youngsters." "Well then, now tell me how they can be brought back to life." The corpse reluctantly made answer: "Cut off the left skirt of my shroud, and take it with you. When you come into the house where the youngsters were killed, pour some live coals into a pot and put the piece of the shroud in with them, and then lock the door. The lads will be revived by the smoke immediately."

The moujik cut off the left skirt of the shroud, and gave up the coffin-lid. The corpse went to its grave — the grave opened. But just as the dead man was descending into it, all of a sudden the cocks began to crow, and he hadn't time to get properly covered over. One end of the coffin-lid remained sticking out of the ground. The moujik saw all this and made a note of it. The day began to dawn; he harnessed his horse and drove into the village. In one of the houses he heard cries and wailing. In he went — there lay two dead lads. "Don't cry," says he, "I can bring them to life!" "Do bring them to life, kinsman," say their relatives. "We'll give you half of all we possess."

The moujik did everything as the corpse had instructed him, and the lads came back to life. Their relatives were delighted, but they immediately seized the moujik and bound him with cords, saying: "No, no, trickster! We'll hand you over to the authorities. Since you knew how to bring them back to life, maybe it was you who killed them!"

"What are you thinking about, true believers! Have the fear of God before your eyes!" cried the moujik. Then he told them everything that had happened during the night. Well, they spread the news through the village; the whole population assembled and swarmed into the graveyard. They found out the grave from which the dead man had come out, they tore it open, and they drove an aspen stake right into the heart of the corpse, so that it might no more rise up and slay. But they rewarded the moujik richly, and sent him away home with great honor.

Riddle did in fact stay to the end of the story, it was about corpses after all. But once the story is over he stands and many of his band of friends also follow. "Thank you for this." He says cordially towards the organizers of the event before strolling away.

Melody does lean forward, as much to hear Akilina better as to keenly listen to the tale being spun, a little jerk back coming with the 'suddenly' from the Ravenclaw, then a soft giggle as her hand covers her mouth. She listens with rapt attention, something of a rarity for the girl, wide brown eyes somehow managing to get even wider with the telling. She absently reaches over, her fingers seeking Brody's, and at the crux of the story, when the villagers steak the corpse, she gasps with excited shock! Melody takes a deep breath, her eyes shining in the firelight as they linger on Akilina. "Oh dear, that was a fine story!" She holds her arm out, "I've come all over with goosebumps!" She's clearly delighted with the tale, taking a packet of the treacle toffee from her basket to offer over to the spinner, even as her eyes flitter around again. "Someone else?" the Hufflepuff asks, her face hopeful. She blinks, for a moment coming fully to the now, and looks to the departing Knights. "Have lovely dreams!" Melody calls after them cheerfully, her hand now waving at their backs.

"It was well-told." The voice comes out of the darkness, lilting and rich. "Thank you for the gift of it." It is an adult voice, female, and somehow musical even in speech. The figure comes out of the shadows, a dark-coated Centaur with long black hair. She glances from one student to the next, then smiles. She has a pan-flute in her hands, and she hangs it on a cord about her shoulder.

Brody's hand doesn't stray away from Melody's as she reaches for him, his fingers entwining easily with hers as he listens to the story. He doesn't react in the same fearful way, though he does listen with polite and interested attentiveness. He can't help but smile though as Melody reacts the way she does, even lifting his free hand to cover his mouth and stifle a chuckle as he watches the Hufflepuff girl. Looking back toward Akilina, "Very good story. Thank you." He glances over to Elspeth and chuckles at her last comment, "Oh, I know you are allowed to have fun, we just rarely see you actually doing it!" He smiles mischievously toward Elspeth, obviously kidding.

Listening to the story, Elspeth does jerk her chin up from her knees at that 'suddenly', startled at what is probably the loudest sound she's ever heard from the little Ravenclaw. But she settles back, a grin parting to a smile at the antics of the girl mimicing the corpse. She glances sideways to Melody as well, and probably the grin lingers a little longer for watching the Hufflepuff. "Bravo," she agrees when Akilina finishes. "It is a wonderful story."

"I've got a story!" Eoin crows as he makes an appearance to scamper around the group. "Once upon a time, my sister…" Before Melody has a chance to stifle her brother, he cuts his words off himself, stopping dead in his tracks, his eyes wide as the Centaur steps forward. "Blimey," he whispers. He steps back, tripping over a log in the process and ending up on his bum on the cold ground.

Melody pays him little attention once the presence of another is made known, her eyes all for the new arrival. She hops up to her feet, her fingers slipping free of Brody's, the other hand dipping to pick up a toffee apple. "It's lovely that you're here," she says in a rush, then holds the treat out in offering. "Toffee apple?"

"I do not know what a toffee apple is, but thank you," answers the Centaur, pacing forwards. The firelight flickers off of her glossy hide, and she takes the apple in one hand, bending her head to smile at the girl. Then she moves quickly to the boy and, bending one knee down to the ground, she reaches out her free hand to help the fallen Eoin. "Are you all right, lad?" she asks, giving him a slight wink. "And I am sorry to have interrupted your story."

Brody's eyes do widen in a bit of surprise as the Centaur comes and joins them. Sure, he had told Melody that they might, but he didn't /really/ expect them to. He watches with interest as Melody leaps up and then tries to present the Centaur with the toffee apple and then watches as she moves over to offer Eoin a hand up.

The appearance of the centaur does bring up Elspeth's attention again, and she watches Melody approach with the offering. She leans over to Brody at the centaur's words. "I am thinking that Abernathy is not sorry to have his story interrupted," she tells him with a little grin. "And, you can now ruin my reputation by saying that you have seen me having fun. I must, however, head back to the castle."

Melody releases the treat, surrendering the stick that spears the candy coated apple to the Centaur. "It's quite nice," she offers by some way of explanation that doesn't really explain much at all. Melody pauses, unsure what to do next, then offers a quick curtsey, as if in the presence of royalty.

For a moment, Eoin only blinks at the offered hand, but he remembers the manners his mother taught him, putting his hand into the one waiting and popping up to his feet as his sister had. "Right as rain," he says, his voice softened by awe. He looks more lost than Melody. "S'alright. It wasn't a very good story," he almost whispers. When his hand is released, he totters back a step but manages to keep on his feet this time. His friends have kept their distance, first in anticipation of Melody's wrath, then in the same addlepated awe as Eoin.

"I'm sure it wasn't," Melody acknowledges her brother, her eyes never leaving the Centaur. Still, she's oddly aware of the things going on around her, and turns to offer another cheerful, "I hope you have lovely dreams!" as Elspeth speaks of taking her leave.

"A gift for a gift," murmurs the Centaur. "Though I smell rain on the wind, and should I tell it now, I think you would all be wet. But then…." She looks up at the sky, then laughs gently. "But perhaps we might meet again, and I will come prepared…." She watches the children, then reaches out to ruffle Eoin's hair.

Brody smirks and nods to Elspeth and says, "I will do my best." He waits for a few moments before he also pushes himself up to his feet and reaches out to touch Melody's arm and gain her attention. He leans in and murmurs quietly, "I think I am going to head back to the castle as well. Are you going to stay out here for a little while longer or shall I walk you back inside?"

The ruffle to his hair brings up a grin from Eoin, but he's silenced by his own awe of the magnitude of that careless gesture. Maybe he can get some of his work done by classmates in return for a retelling of this story! Likely not, but it's a momentarily heady thought. Melody's head tips back and she looks to the sky, although it's dark enough that it's only by the lack of twinkling stars that she knows the clouds are moving in. Her attention goes to Brody once more as her chin comes back to level. "Lets go together," she says with a nod. "We'll likely be sent in soon anyway."

The Centaur's prediction is confirmed by a dim flash in the sky and the low rumble of thunder in the distance. That gets the chaperones huddled, making their decision to herd everyone indoors, as expected. Lips parted in her warm smile, Melody turns quickly back to the unexpected guest. "I hope you have lovely dreams," she says yet again, but her tone lends credence to the sincerity of the words. As students begin straggling back to the castle, and charms are employed to tame the bonfire, Melody links her arm with Brody's and gives a little bounce to start their walk back. She leans as they go, whispering in a lilt that carries, "Wasn't that the most remarkable thing?! I can't wait to send a letter to Audley about it!"

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