(1941-06-15) Bewitched, Badgered and Bewildered
Details for Bewitched, Badgered and Bewildered
Summary: Antonin takes an opportunity to pick on Erica. Oscar is less than amused.
Date: June 15th, 1941
Location: 2nd Floor Corridor, Hogwarts Castle

The ebb and flow of the usual crowd is less than usual today, with several classes currently taking exams. But the corridor is always busy. Perhaps that's something of a concern for Erica Stainwright - moreso than usual anyway. The blonde is within the alcove of one of many stained-glass windows, out of the path of the heaviest foot traffic, buffing gently at the leaded lining with a cloth and a spritz bottle. The latter, when not in use, is tucked into the body of the pristine white sling supporting her right arm. Other than that oddity, she's as well-turned-out as ever. She just looks rather detached as she cleans, as if her thoughts were miles away. Nobody seems overly bothered by her choice of pasttime - most by now are used to her rather OCD need to keep things nice and tidy.

Walking down the corridor accompanied by his usual posse of Knights and other Slytherin boys is none other than Antonin Dolohov, the nicest Slytherin about Hogwarts. It's true, they voted. He is fresh from a particularly good showing during his Defense Against the Dark Arts Exam. He walks with his usual swagger, dark features scanning those that walk along or are otherwise present in the Corridor. Soon enough, he spots Erica cleaning away and snorts in laughter, he and his group making a cutting path toward her.

Lost in thought as she is, Erica doesn't notice the pack of boys heading her way. Usually, in most circles anyway, being the girlfriend of a Prefect and something of a goody goody yourself ensures that trouble doesn't come knocking very often. But that might not hold true, if you've recently been brave - or foolish - enough to insult a Slytherin. Blissfully unaware of the boy's approach, the blonde hums a soft melody to herself, before adding another *SKOOSH!* of cleaning spray to the leadwork. It smells herbal and floral, likely one of her own concoctions. Tucking the bottle inside her sling again, she stands on tiptoe, somewhat precariously reaching overhead to reach a particular spot of grime that's bothering her.

Still laughing, Antonin walks up until he is within speaking distance, flanked by the rest of his clique. "Attempting to get in the good graces here for a job after Hogwarts, Stainwright?" he taunts by way of greeting. "Trying to get yourself a position early and get ahead of the rest if the muddy blooded sort you hang around with? I can't say that I blame you. It's about all your kind are fit for afterall. Cleaning up after the better witches and wizards around you." The others in his group jeer and laugh."

Erica turns with a start, casting her gaze over the group in surprise initially, which fades to mere, if blatant, unease as she realises who their ringleader is. "..shut up, Dolohov." It's not in her nature to be rude to people - in fact she generally goes out of her way to be considered genteel and obliging. But she's not stupid. There's no point trying the niceties on this particular boy. A frown subtly darkens her features, even if she is quite literally backed into a corner, her shoulder pressing against the cold stone of the alcove. Her fingertips pluck at the edge of her sling where it loops about her wrist. Rumor has it she got hurt playing some sort of game with centaurs. But that surely can't be right. This meek, angelic little thing? Hardly looks the daredevil type, does she. Then again… Seeker.

"Oh yeah? Well.." Fumbling for a suitable retort, she hesitates. "..at least I'm doing something useful with my free time. Not.. not just wandering about being horrid. Or getting pushed off benches." Oh yes, that was a good one. The pretty blonde even has the guts to brave a catlike narrowing of her brown eyes after that. No boy likes being shown up, after all.

Smile fading, Antonin Dolohov's eyes narrow dangerously, as he says, "Pushed off benches? You tell me who was the one being all tearful because of his guitar? Me, or the older Hufflepuff half-blood?" His lips are thin, the rest of his Slytherin friends taking a step back from the volatile Slytherin Beater. They have seen him at Dueling Club, afterall.

"I heard you hurt your arm playing with a bunch of stupid animals. I can't say that I am surprised. I would expect nothing less of your sort. And, I just finished my Defense Exam with flying colors. That's what I have been busy doing."

"He didn't end up on his backside in the mud though, did he." Good, she found something that bothers him! "And besides, we fixed his guitar. You're about as good at vandalising things as you are at everything else, you nasty little bug." Belatedly, Erica notices the other boys backing off. That can't be good. Biting gently on her lower lip, she returns her gaze watchfully to Antonin. "Centaurs aren't stupid. They're magnificent, intelligent creatures. Who could squish you like an insect, if they wanted to." Perhaps a little protectively, she lays her good hand over her still bruised wrist, hugging it in closer against her body. The shift, however, makes her drop her spray bottle, which lands with a clatter by her feet. The knock is enough to loosen the cap, and her painstakingly brewed mixture begins to leak all over the floor. "Oh noooo!" The blonde hunkers down, trying to scoop things back into order with her clumsy left hand.

Antonin laughs as he says, "Mud! I was dry as could be when I got up. He's just lucky I didn't draw wands against him. And I guess they could squish me, like they obviously tried to do to you, but so could a falling tree for that matter. That doesn't make it smart." As Erica shifts and drops her bottle, the cap coming free and spilling her potion across the floor, Antonin takes a step forward, 'accidentally' kicking his toe into the bottle and sending it spinning across the corridor floor. "Oops, I'm so sorry," he says nastily.

Pressing her lips firmly closed, Erica fights back sudden tears as the bottle is sent skidding away from her, watching it scuttle beyond her reach across the corridor. She looks up at Antonin in mute upset for a moment, before pushing back up to a stand. "You pick that up. Pick it up right now." Or what, she'll report him to her boyfriend? Her voice is wobbling but she hangs on to her composure and holds the boy's gaze. "You think you're so tough. If you crossed wands with Oscar he'd really show you that blood doesn't matter when it comes to talent. He's far better than you." He may very well be. She probably isn't. Nevertheless, there's a mutinous set to her jaw, if only to keep the tears at bay.

quaring his shoulders, Antonin crosses his arms over his chest as he grins in the same predatory way that he had when vandalizing Oscar's guitar. "No, I don't think I will pick it up," he growls at her. "And you know what? There isnt anything a half-blood like you can do to make me." As if on cue, there is the sound of breaking glass as one older student walking along the corridor steps atop the bottle and it shatters beneath his foot. He looks around wildly, confusion evident on his face as he sees the broken bottle, and then he turns back around and keeps walking. The group of goons that had been walking with Dolohov all start howling with laughter at this.

The sound of glass breaking rouses an expression of dismay across Erica's features. Now, instead of nicely clean windows, there's potion and broken glass all over the floor, and a gang of boys laughing themselves sick at her misfortune. Perilously close to tears now, the blonde meets Dolohov's gaze and tries to keep her words from shaking. "You suppose yourself to be superior? You've no manners, no class, no charm… you're a loathsome little wretch!" With that, she moves to push past the dark-haired boy before she really starts crying, assuming he lets her by. The last thing she wants is Antonin gloating over her tears.

Antonin doesn't move to block Erica's progress. He would not physically detain her. But he is present enough to realize how close Erica is to tears, and he and the rest of the others do laugh, loudly. He leans in as she passes, shouldering the girl even as she presses past him. "Oh look, the half-blood is going to cry. The poor delicate thing!" he taunts her, the others joining in as that echo his insults.

Still with her cloth held tight in hand, her knuckles white with the pressure, Erica shoves her way past Antonin's shoulder, biting hard on the inside of her lip and willing herself not to crack. "Leave me alone!" Honestly, what harm was she doing? Just because she stood up for one of her friends, now she's in the firing line. And she's not really equipped to deal with it - everyone knows she's a bit of a pushover. Likely exactly why Dolohov is picking on her, like singling out the weak member of a herd. A brisk walk turns into almost a run once she's free of the taunting, jeering group, with the blonde miserably excusing herself to those she accidentally brushes past. Heading for the Hufflepuff Common Room, no doubt! Thank goodness for those silencing drapes around her bed…

A little later…

Rainwater splashes against the corridor's prism-shaped windows, obscuring the setting sun and the Grounds without. And the gray hallway is cold, chilly, lacking in many of the creature comforts that can be found in other parts of Hogwarts. Perhaps that's why Oscar comes here, on occasion, during his rare moments of teenage angst. He's seated with his back to the wall opposite the windows, text books splayed around him. But he isn't reading them. Instead, he's scribbling something down onto one of his parchments. The quill break. He murmurs a soft oath.

Sharpening it with his wand, the young Wizard sighs and lays down the quill entirely. He rises to his feet and holds the quill as though it is a wand, pointing it at an imaginary opponent. "Expelliarmus!" And lowers the quill, turning his back. Spinning around again, "Expelliarmus!" He's carefully pronounces every syllable perfectly.

Ink splatters out of the quill-tip as he flails around with it, spattering on the stones. "I'll show you," he mutters. And then, again, "Expelliarmus!"

"I've heard of getting in a flap over defensive spells.. but that's ridiculous." comes a voice. Someone else in this relatively deserted stretch of corridor? Approaching at a trudge, her right arm still in a clean white sling and the left wrapped protectively about her midsection, Erica's expression lacks any actual humor, despite the brave attempt. She's actually unusually disheveled even at a glance; her shoulder length blonde locks tousled as if she's been running and.. oh dear.

As she closes the distance toward Oscar and his books, the remnants of a bad day become very apparent. Those light brown eyes are red-rimmed and puffy, and one might fancy they can see the remnants of tears streaking down over her blotchy cheeks. Not that Erica's tears are anything enormously unusual, mind you… but generally it's at night, when she's homesick. And even that's been a lot less this year than previous terms.

The girl draws to a halt, eventually; her gaze downcast and settling upon those spatters of still-wet ink on the stone. That's enough to set her lower lip wobbling, much as she tries to prevent it.

Oscar spins around, hiding the quill behind his back. Drip. Drip. Drip. Ink-spots, like blood, trickle down and stain the stones. And also the hem of his robe. The big Beater has the grace to look embarrassed, his eyes downcast. "Erica. Hi. I was just.. practicing.. for my DADA exam." Certainly not imagining sending a certain Slytherin into a wall with violent, magical, force. His parchment lies open, a series of bars and notes pencilled on it. He was writing a song.

But then he looks closer at Erica. It's taken him a moment to get over his embarrassment and look up, but when he does, his features quickly shift. Shame becomes concern. "Erica.." He steps forward, dropping the quill onto his parchment as he takes in her features. His eyes narrow. "Are.. are you alright?" There's a weakness in most men, a weapon that slips past all defenses. And when Oscar, too young to have developed a callus, is presented with the threat of tears, he crumbles.

"Come on, don't cry. Tell me what happened. Did you fail an exam?" Not bloody likely, but it's the best he can think of. He raises his hands as though to touch Erica's shoulders, then drops them again. Indecision is printed across his face, commingling with concern.

It's something he'll learn as he gets older — the worst thing you can do to a girl teetering on the edge of tears is speak kindly to her. The worst thing. Still looking down at the droplets of ink, Erica closes her eyes and then her facejust crumples as the tears start flowing again; silently at first then with a series of hiccoughs as her shoulders hitch. Her good hand rises, pressing over her lips as if she's trying to stifle her crying, to no avail. The temptation, fraknly, to just fling her arms around Oscar and sob is bubbling right at the surface. But she has the etiquette to refrain from doing so, even now. Well, so far anyway.

After a long moment or two of choking back sobs, the little blonde makes a bid for speech. "..m-my spray b-bottle got broken…" Well, that's hardly the end of the world, surely? "He kicked it across the flo-oor and it got stepped on and it's b-broken." Heaving a gulp of air, she raises her tear-brimming eyes to the taller boy, looking utterly woeful.

Oh. Oh, no. No, no no. She's sobbing. Oscar swallows hard and, very carefully, reaches out to take the blonde girl by her shoulders. "Hey," he says quietly. "Hey, it's alright. Come here." The big Beater has held girls before — gossip says a few too many — and he seems to know what to do. He touches one hand to the back of Erica's neck, gently, in an attempt to draw her in. "It's alright. It's alright. Shh, shh.." The sorts of noises he might make if trying to soothe an agitated kneazle.

But there's a look in his eyes that Erica has seen before, right after he shoved a Slytherin off a bench. It's obvious that he's desperate to ask who did this, but he does know the rules of the game. Before he can ask questions, he has to offer comfort. "I'll get you a new spray-bottle. And I'll get you all the ingredients you need for your potion." And he can. The guy practically lives in the Greenhouse.

Huzzay for comfort. Shaking with the effort of holding back the worst of her weeping - yes, this is her under control - Erica sags against the boy, leaning into the reassuring warmth of his chest with her hand balled up by her face, still clutching her cleaning cloth in her fingers. Nodding her grateful recognition of Oscar's murmured words, at first, she remains mute, sniffling and gasping as she tries to get herself under control. It's going to take a minute. Or two. "Thank you.." she manages to choke out, eventually. "..but it t-took me ages to get it riiiight.." Oh no, she's off again, turning her face into poor Oscar's jumper and allowing herself a few more hearty sobs. There. That seems to be helping. Cathartic, isn't it.

"We'll get it right. We'll keep working on it 'til it's just right. I can get you everything you need. It'll be alright." Oscar strokes the back of Erica's head carefully — it's delicate, a surprisingly gentle touch for a big, brute-looking, boy. "I'll help you." He swallows hard, resisting the urge that every boy has, to try to turn a crying girl into an opportunity for snogging. That wouldn't be right. Besides, there's another matter that needs to be resolved. He squeezes Erica gently, the strength in his arms starkly evident. "Erica?.." It may be that he already suspects the answer, but he has to ask. "Who did it to you?"

Sniffing hard, Erica reluctantly pulls back a little from the embrace, pulling a lace-edged hankie from inside her cuff and using it to rub at her nose daintily. How very… Erica. She doesn't actually draw any further away, though. Maybe she just feels a bit safer in the presence of the older boy. He would never take advantage of a damsel in distress, after all.

Looking up at Oscar, she tries to smooth her hair back out of her eyes with her good hand, swallowing and seeming, finally, to regain at least a modicum of composure. "…Dolohov. It was Dolohov." Yeah, no huge surprise. She's afraid of him, and he has a habit of picking on those weaker than himself. "He was being mean." Again, no surprise there. "I dropped my bottle, he kicked it across the floor and wouldn't pick it up. And it got stepped on. And my potion spilled everywhere." A forlorn sniff and she casts her gaze back down, neatly folding her hankie and tucking it back up inside her sleeve.

And sure enough, Oscar lets Erica pull back, though he keeps his hands on her shoulders — more to make sure she's not going to collapse into a puddle of tears than anything else, it seems, by the way he watches her. He keeps the anger out of his voice, lifting one hand and using a finger to wipe a tear off Erica's cheek. "It's alright," he says again. "We'll make you an even better potion. I know everything there is to know about plants." But he can't keep the anger out of his eyes. Instead, he looks away for a few moments, his dark eyes burning a hole through the wall.

"And I'll make sure Dolohov leaves you alone for the rest of the Semester." That doesn't seem likely, unless Dolohov is tied up in a closet somewhere. And that would be against the rules. He clears his throat. When he speaks next, his voice is too-casual. Subtlety has never been one of the older boy's best traits. "Do you know the next time Duelling Club meets?"

"He was going on about how I'd end up a cleaner.. that that's all half-bloods were good for… he's just so mean! And I've never done anything to him, really." Looking bemused, Erica regards the Beater, either not noticing or not thinking to mind when he wipes away that last lingering teardrop. When Oscar looks away, though, that seems to prompt her and she takes an uncrtain step back from him. Her gaze flits beyond him, to a passing few students further along the hall, and she straightens her posture properly, tryibng for nonchalant, should they glance in this direction.

"…no. Oscar, you were lucky not to get in trouble the first time! Don't do anything that'll land you in detention. It's really not that big a deal, I just… I guess I'm an easy target, aren't I." The blonde tries to summon a wan smile, fingertips tugging at the wrap of her sling. "Please. I don't want to make things worse." Loosing a heavy sigh all of a sudden, the fight seeming to depart her entirely now that she's had a good old cry, Erica steps over to the bench against the wall and flops down to a seat. Or as close as she gets to flopping, anyway.

Something in the way Erica backs off, straightens up, causes a hint of a flush to creep up the back of Oscar's neck. He absently wipes his thumb dry on his robes, squinting after that passing student. But when he speaks, his words are directed to Erica. "I never cared enough to join Dueling Club before," he says, his voice deliberately casual. "But I'm good enough. I'm better than that little tonker, that's for certain." By the end, his voice has lost its casual edge.

"Erica, you're going to grow up to be whatever you want to be. I dunno what that is." His voice is earnest, intent, and more than a little violent in its urgency. "And he's going to grow up to be Antonin Dolohov. Whoever his Daddy lets him be. You're the smartest girl in Hufflepuff! Everyone says so." He takes a long breath in. "And I got you into this. He's picking on you to make me angry." Is that true? If it is, why does Dolohov think that will work? "So I'm going to give him what he wants. A shot at me. In Dueling Club, where nobody can say I broke a rule."

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