Ahh the courtyard. What a beautiful place to be stationed after school had ended for the day. The teachers often took shifts patrolling the grounds at night making sure the children didn’t get up to mischief. The courtyard was a hotspot for teens sneaking out after hours and was surprisingly the place where the majority of fights took place. Though, it was the middle of winter and it was freezing out so the majority of students were inside by the fires like sensible people, or huddling in their coats. It wasn’t likely that anything was going to happen, and so Jeremiah would probably wait here for about ten minutes before he retreated back inside.
When he finally did re-enter the building, he nipped back down to the dungeons to nab some of his things that he had forgotten to take with him, but the minute he walked through the door he forgot why he was there. Glancing around the dark drab classroom, he tried to jog his memory before he caught eye of a brown leather satchel sitting on the chair, and several potions books stacked on his desk which he had intended to take back to his sleeping quarters. He didn’t necessarily intend on reading all of them but if he had a constant presence of books about him it would look like he did. He was reading one book however. Currently on the top of the pile was a copy of “Astronomy: A guide to the stars” By Anna Wormscythe, though he still couldn’t get his head around the complex subject and it still bored him to death. Not that he would admit that even to himself. He was still trying, avidly all these years later. He had considered asking to retake the Owl he had failed in Astronomy, but at this rate all he was going to get was a big fat TROLL.
Gathering up his things, he made his way back up through the school and through the rabble of students ambling back towards their common rooms before supper. Classes had ended just twenty minutes prior, and it was utter chaos in the halls. He weaved his way through the crowds, nodding pleasantly at students as they passed.
Max made her way down the hall, her long blue robes brushing against her feet as she walked. She didn't carry anything with her, everything she needed for class was in class, and everything she needed for the evening was in her sleeping quarters. The Astronomy tower was on the opposite end of the school from Ravenclaw Tower, and so she only had a bit of time to make it all the way there between the time she was supposed to be corralling children through the halls and the time she was supposed to be in the Great Hall for supper. Most of the children were choosing to remain indoors what with the freezing cold outdoors right now, and so the halls after class were exceptionally crowded. It didn't help that many were lingering to try and gather the nerve to ask their last-minute dates to the Yule Ball either. Max couldn't help but think it was rather cute, seeing everyone fumble over themselves trying to find out whether their crush's wanted to go to the Ball with them. It was heartwarming. Those days had long since passed for her.
A sound caught her attention and she turned her head to glance towards it. She had only been distracted for a split second, but it was long enough, apparently. She bumped into someone, sending books clattering to the ground. Ordinarily the man on the receiving end was the clumsy one, not her. She smiled apologetically at the Potions Master, kneeling down to pick up the books she had sent tumbling. "I'm so sorry, I wasn't watching where I was going," She told him, a bit embarrassed for her lack of focus. She pulled together the few books, one of them in particular catching her attention. She held it up. "A bit of light reading?" She asked, her expression clearly amused.
As he continued to walk through the halls they became more densely populated. It was only a matter of time before… “Miss Barrett!” He exclaimed in shock as she walked right into him. He had been focusing very hard on not walking into anyone, and it must have been an amusing sight. To no avail apparently. His books went flying when he proved unable to keep a hold of them. Both he and Max bent down to pick them up, and they were once again stacked in his arms. Bar one, which she held up to examine. His mind was screaming though he was outwardly very calm. She could just put it down and walk away without asking questions… but she couldn’t.
“That’s not mine,” He said reflexively, before tutting his own lie, and shaking his head ever so slightly. “No, no it is mine, but… I haven’t read it yet, it’s just sort of there, really. To read, at some point,” Were he not currently with company, he would facepalm. He was always inexplicably unable to keep his cool around Max. The only reason he had the book was so he could learn some basic Astronomy facts to impress her. She was never meant to actually see the book. “It’s from the um. Library,” Why would he need to tell her that. Where else would it be from? It had the Hogwarts emblem on the spine of the book and everything. “It has pictures,” He smiled awkwardly, before he decided to take it upon himself to change conversation topic. It as like he was trying to make this encounter even more awkward than it already was.
“I trust you had a pleasant day?” He asked her, hoping that she would begin talking. They rarely saw each other bar from meal times, as their classrooms and living quarters were all on opposite ends of the castle. It was like fate was trying to keep them apart when Jeremiah might be able to prepare himself to have a normal conversation. “Everyone is excited,” He said, before realising she might not be on the same wavelength as he was. As in she wasn’t psychic. Unless she was and she had simply never told him. “For the ball I mean,” He said. For some reason, completely and totally unknown to Jeremiah his cheeks began to heat up, and he got the strange urge to run in the opposite way. What on earth had brought such a thing on? He stood patiently however, waiting for a response because a polite gentleman didn’t walk away half way through a conversation because he got ever so slightly embarrassed. Teachers could get excited about a ball too...right?
"That's not mine," Jeremiah said quickly, and a skeptical smirk inched across her face. He just as quickly amended the statement admitting that it was his. She raised an eyebrow at him a bit tauntingly. "Well, which is it, Professor..?" She asked, as though purposefully to make him feel even more put on the spot. Max thought it was rather amusing, how flustered he could get about things. Every encounter she'd had with him in her three and a half years at Hogwarts had proven him to be quite the character, and she had to admit she rather enjoyed him. The first few times she had met him, it hadn't come as much of a surprise that all of the students spoke so highly of him. "Ah, the Library. Naturally," She nodded, as though it were a perfectly reasonable thing to say. "Well, if it's pictures you're looking for Professor Raynott, I've got better ones than you'll find in an introductory textbook," She smiled, tapping the cover with a ringed index finger before placing it on top of his pile.
"I trust you had a pleasant day?" He asked after a moment, and she nodded, stepping to the side now that the mess had been handled so that they weren't in the way of the passing students. "It's been rather uneventful," She admitted with a dramatic sigh. Though considering all of the things that could go awry at a Wizarding school perhaps uneventful was a good thing. "Everyone is excited," The Potions Master announced suddenly, "For the ball I mean," He added, realizing that the statement had been rather disconnected. She had gathered what he'd meant though -- she had been thinking about it herself. "Is there any reason not to be?" She questioned. It wasn't as if it happened every year, and it was the first one to take place at Hogwarts in quite some time. It was even Max's first as a professor. The only Tournament to take place when she was a student had been at Hogwarts as well, but she had only been fifteen at the time. She hadn't gone to the ball. She had stayed in her dorm and studied -- though she sort of regretted not attending. Max was glad to have the chance to see it now, despite the fact that it would be more as a supervisor than anything else. "Do you dance, Professor?" She asked curiously, though with how clumsy he often seemed in her encounters with him she wasn't so sure that the answer would be yes.
He smirked just as she did. “It’s mine,” He admitted waving his hand about as though to indicate that he wasn’t quite with it. The majority of their meetings were like this. Usually, Jeremiah did something stupid and she was there to catch him in the act and what followed was a series of awkward and poorly timed comments coming from his mouth as he frantically tried not to continue making a fool out of himself. He enjoyed being around her, but fate never seemed to catch them in a normal situation. Thankfully she appeared to accept his response and offered him a different selection of pictures. Naively Jeremiah though she simply had another book with pictures in and nodded accordingly. “You’ll have to show me sometime, if you want. Not that you have to, I’d very much like to…” He said, his tone still very much flustered. If it were possible, his cheeks would grow an even darker shade of red. Thankfully, the corridors at Hogwarts were dimly lit as they always had been. He often thought that they should invest in getting electric lights. It was the mid twenty first century but apparently Hogwarts liked to pretend it was 1757 rather than 2057.
They moved to the side of the corridor in order to avoid the influx of students and get out of their way. “You’re right, there Is good reason to be excited,” He smiled. Jeremiah himself was very excited. He had never been at Hogwarts for a yule ball before, and he felt like a kid on Christmas morning. In fact, were their champion a person who was not a consistent risk to his own life he might be just as excited about the challenges. As it was, they made him nervous. ‘Do you dance, Professor?” She asked, and he didn’t know how to respond. The answer was no, definitely not but he didn’t want to tell her that. Though, his reputation preceded him and she likely already knew. “I wouldn’t say I was necessarily good at it,” He said, in an attempt to avoid saying the word no. Before she could question him, he threw back the question. “Do you dance Miss Barrett?” He raised a brow as he waited for her response.
He waved off the incident and Max chose to let it be, rather than continue to tease him about it, though the smirk still remained on her face. "You'll have to show me sometime, if you want. Not that you have to, I'd very much like to..." He continued to ramble, and her smirk turned into a grin. "You're welcome to pop in any time you'd like," She invited warmly. She couldn't say that she'd be upset if he went out of his way to come and visit her -- and it really was out of the way, for the most part. Since she'd started she'd thought of trying to get to know the Potions Master better, considering his reputation and the brief but entertaining run-ins they had in the halls and at meals. He seemed like an excellent friend to have -- if a bit forgetful, again, from what she'd heard. She supposed she didn't really know all that much about him, despite being nearly halfway through her fourth year of teaching.
She hadn't noticed how red he had turned -- which was probably for the better since she would likely have brought it up and embarrassed him more. "You're right, there Is good reason to be excited," He agreed, and she smiled. The holidays were her favorite as it was -- though she never went home to the island that her family lived on. In fact, she had only been home once between graduating and starting her teaching career. Ordinarily she remained at school during the holidays (and over the summer she found other living arrangements). As far as she knew, a handful of the professors did. After all, someone had to stay and keep an eye on the children who didn't go home for Christmas.
He seemed to hesitate on his response to her question, and when he finally answered she let out a small chuckle, before he threw the question back at her. "A bit, yes," She admitted, though most of the dancing she knew wasn't exactly ballroom dancing. They did plenty of it in the Caribbean, but it was a much different world than all the way out here -- and again, it had been quite some time since she'd been home. "Though I'm not sure it's all that fitting for a Christmas ball," She added, giving him a sheepish smile. "Will you be going, then?" She asked, gesturing for him to walk with her down the hall -- she still had to make it back to Ravenclaw Tower sometime before supper. She thought her tone sounded a bit hopeful to her own ears. Though she supposed the thought of having someone else relatively near her age -- or at least she thought he was -- there was appealing. Most of the other professors were much, much older, and although Max got along well enough with them she often felt slightly out of place. At first she thought that perhaps the question was silly, but not every teacher was required to attend. It seemed that most of them wanted to, though.
He smiled, evidently pleased by something, his eyes lighting up for a moment. “I am?” He questioned, before composing himself. “Of course, if you ever fancy a trip to the dungeons, you’re perfectly welcome,” He returned the offer, hoping it made them even. Though a trip to the dungeons didn’t particularly sound pleasant. Potions had always been down below, because some potions needed the dark to brew. That and some of the potions professors of the past had been…creepy to say the least. His own teacher, Professor Mathilde Beauregard, had been an eccentric woman in her late thirties who had taught there for some thirty years by the time he left. She was strict and unrelenting and had a picture of the minister for magic bolted to the wall above the desk at the front of her classroom. That was the only decoration she had. Jeremiah had decorated a bit more frivolously. At least he tried to make the learning environment a little more stimulating. His prize possession was a large painting of their old childhood cat his mother had done during one of her many fads. Art hadn’t lasted long, but it was special to him, and it was hung up by the door to his office. Perhaps he would take that down if she ever did visit. It would appear as though he was becoming eccentric.
Unfortunately, he and Max’s classrooms were on opposite sides of the school to each other and so were their bedrooms. Fate was a cruel force. Jeremiah vowed to himself that he would find time to go and see her now that she had offered. And if he couldn’t find time, he would make it. It had been three long years of awkward encounters and hurried conversations because Jeremiah always got to nervous when he was talking to her. Just like now in fact. He was fed up of himself, and he was determined to get through an entire conversation with the beautiful lady without bowing out rather ungracefully.
Her statement about dance intrigued him, and he raised a brow. “What kind of dancing do you do?” He asked, his question thoughtful. He knew she was from an island somewhere in the Caribbean, maybe they had their own style of dance there? Though he couldn’t quite fathom why it wouldn’t be suitable, then again he knew nothing about dance it was all the same to him. He had always been to physically awkward to attempt sports and dance and had always been more academic. Him dancing was like Bambi walking for the first time, and because of the teasing he had never really let himself loose. She smiled at him, and asked if he would be attending. “Most definitely, I was one of the first to put my name down,” He grinned, taking no time to consider whether he would follow her or not. Yes he had things to do, but this was vastly more important.
He shook his head. The thought had been playing at the back of his mind for weeks. In fact, ever since he learned the Tri Wizard tournament would be held at Hogwarts. Though every time he psyched himself up to ask her, he shot himself down. He wasn’t a student anymore, and teachers didn’t necessarily have dates. Plus, they were technically meant to be chaperoning. He shrugged off the thought, for now. “Will I see you there?” He asked, his words carefully chosen, he hoped she wouldn’t notice. Around them, as they walked, Jeremiah could hear little whispers and giggles as students walked past. He glanced around briefly, but he couldn’t figure out what was so amusing, so he sighed ever so slightly and continued on their walk.
"I am?" He perked up. Jeremiah seemed pleasantly surprised by her invitation, and a smile crept onto her face. He returned the offer, and although 'a trip to the dungeons' didn't sound nearly as awe-inspiring as 'a trip to the astronomy tower' did, she understood the implications that she was welcome to visit with him on more than just their awkwardly amusing hallway encounters, and it was most definitely the thought that counted in this situation. "I'll try to take advantage of that," She promised appreciatively. It was out of the way, but Max had odd class-times compared to many of the teachers -- considering that on occasion they actually did observe the stars in the evenings. Perhaps it was easier for her to catch him in his classroom than for him to catch her in hers. Either way, this was already much further than they had made it in most of their conversations. The Potions Master nearly always had some reason or another to scurry off -- she knew he was forgetful, but could he really be that forgetful?
This time, for once, he didn't seem to be too in a rush to get anywhere. "What kind of dancing do you do?" He asked curiously, though Max had to admit she wasn't entirely sure how to explain it. "Not the English kind," She assured him simply, a grin crossing her features again. "I'm afraid you would all consider it somewhat.. primitive?" She said thoughtfully, trying to at least give him some idea of why it wouldn't be suitable. Anyways, none of the music would be fitting for the Caribbean style of dance. She grinned when he said that he had been one of the first to put his name down, despite his 'not being good at it'. She wondered whether he was the sort to attempt it anyways, and decided that he might be -- with enough prompting.
"Will I see you there?" He asked as he followed along down the hall, and she nodded. "I never went to my own," She admitted. "I decided that I might as well, now that I don't have studying of my own to do." She looked a bit embarrassed to admit that she hadn't gone just because she was studying. Then again, she hadn't become Head of Ravenclaw for nothing, she supposed. Besides, she was rather particular about men, even at that age -- she hadn't had any desire to go with any of the boys who had asked her. She caught on to a handful of giggles, then, and glanced over at the group of girls it had come from, but they hurried on and she shrugged it off. "What have you got planned for the rest of the day?" She asked with genuine curiosity, in an attempt to keep him from finding an excuse to go flitting off again.
He thought for a minute. What kind of dancing could she possibly mean? The muggle kind? He didn’t know much about muggle dancing, but as far as he was aware It wasn’t too boisterous. But muggle dancing from other countries was way out of his depth. Maybe they danced on their hands? He was better acquainted with the simple traditional dances they did in the Wizarding World. Not that he could actually do any of them. “I don’t think I’d ever use the word primitive to describe anything you did,” He chuckled. “Though, I must admit I am curious.” He wasn’t going to ask her to show him. That might come across as a rather odd request.
His eyes widened when he discovered she had never been to her own Yule Ball. For a moment he was saddened. "I'm sorry to hear," Had she chosen not to go? Or did she simply not have a date? Though he assumed hundreds of lads would have asked her. He was uplifted by the fact that she may be just as excited as he was, so he wouldn't feel out of place. It turned out that she hadn’t gone to the ball simply because she had been studying. In all fairness, it was a smart thing to do, but if it had been him he would have gone to the ball. Evidently however, her hard work had paid off. He respected that.
As they neared the Ravenclaw tower, Max asked if he had any plans for the rest of the day. “I was just going to drop these books off before heading to dinner, and then I was going to…” Jeremiah couldn’t remember what he had planned for after dinner. Was there something he was forgetting. “Do something,” He finished, at an attempt to finish his sentence. He wanted to slap himself in the face. He could have made something up other than the word ‘something’ now she was going to think he was being suspicious.
In order to change the topic, with the corridors mostly empty, Jeremiah suddenly found the courage in the depths of his stomach to come right out and ask her. "Uhm well Max," He began. "I've been meaning to talk to you for a while, well ask you really, but of course, you don't have to say yes I mean it's only a silly dance..." He trailed off, coughing briefly into his gloved hand before he continued. "Would you like to uhm, go to the ball, with me?" His head was spinning, and he couldn't believe he had actually said those words out loud. He stood, his expression brimming with anticipation as his cheeks flushed pink once again.
The blonde male sat on a bench outside of the Ravenclaw common room with a copy of today’s daily prophet in his hands, reading blissfully to pass the time. Here he would wait every day for his friends to finish getting ready for dinner. Charles Royce was a creature of habit, and also a middle-aged man stuck inside a teenager’s body, and so once he had a routine he pretty much stuck to it. The common room was always too crowded for his liking before dinner, but from here he could sit in peace but also watch as each student made their way in and out. It was his creepy way of observing people. Ravenclaw’s could hardly avoid this part of the school could they. This way he would be able to monitor happenings just as his father had requested.
The Daily prophet was packed full of stories and tales of Pure blood attacks and disappearances committed by those of lesser blood. It was disgusting what was happening, and every time Charles heard about something new happening to one of his peers it made his blood boil. Ever since the death of his mother, Charles had almost been too afraid to touch muggle born students. It was a genuine fear that they would try and kill him, just because he was a pure blood. In his mind, that was why they all had to go. He shouldn’t have to live in fear, no real witch or wizard should. As superior beings to muggles they should be able to live in secret, happily separate from their happenings. Muggle born students only forced integration that Charles was convinced nobody wanted.
It was Charles’ job to identify which students were muggle born and report back to his father. Because of his reputation most would never willingly tell him, but in the first couple of weeks after the election, Charlie had managed to send over four letters full of names, identifying the culprits. At least one time in each letter, Charles had included the name of Esme walker. A muggle born Gryffindor who had been granted the title of head girl. For some reason, Charles had a grudge against the girl, whom was extremely proud of her blood status as muggle born. He hoped that her name had stood out since he included it every single time. Plus, he complained about Esme a lot at home. She was too big for her boots.
Eventually Charles’ friends emerged from the common room, and he got up to join them, heading in the direction of the great hall.
Even Esme’s defence didn’t seem to convince Landon. He was even raising his voice, and he rarely did that. She was almost stunned into silence for a brief moment, and so he continued. ‘You don’t know these people like I do’ He was right, she didn’t, and at the moment she wasn’t particularly rational so she didn’t care. “They can take whatever they want, I just want to know where my parents are,” She snapped back. It wasn’t as though the muggle prime minister was going around stealing Wizard families. It was evident that Landon didn’t quite understand how she was feeling. Seven years of torment, just for them to kidnap her family? And it was him that had planted the idea in her head in the first place. She wouldn’t feel guilty for ignoring him. Despite how he knew he was just trying to protect her. Esme smiled when he agreed to come, throwing her arms around him very briefly. “Thank you!” She beamed, hurrying away in the direction of the door. She ignored his request to not do anything rash, he had promised to accompany her and there were no taksies backsies.
It wasn’t rocket science to work out where Charles would be at this time of day. Walking to dinner, late, with his entourage of Ravenclaw purebloods. She merely headed into the direction of the Ravenclaw common room and happened to find him waltzing down the corridor like he owned the place. Just the sight of his stupid mug made her want to slap him silly. “Royce!” She demanded, standing in the middle of the corridor right in front of him, blocking his path. “I want to talk to you,” She could feel his beady eyes on her. She was speaking through gritted teeth so that she didn’t yell at him. She had to keep her cool. “I got a letter in the post today. My parents mysteriously disappeared about a week ago,” She said waving the envelope around. “Do you know anything about this?” She was on the verge of tears again, and it was rather embarrassing. She could hear his friends snickering about it behind him.
Charles was stopped abruptly in the corridor, when suddenly Esme Walker stopped right in front of him. What on earth did she want? He sighed and rolled his eyes as she approached. Why now of all times. She looked very upset. It was a shame he didn’t give two shits. He tried to simply move around her as she talked, but she was adamant that he listened to what she had to say and so he stopped, looking down at her with a look of evident discontent. “What?” He spat. He didn’t have time for mud blood drama. He was already late for dinner. Usually he simply pretended that Walker didn't exist. It made him much happier.
When she started speaking however, he wished he had just pushed her out of the way and got on with his evening. Before he responded, he waved off his friends indicating for them to go on without him and they followed on down the corridor. Charles himself wasn’t aware of any muggle kidnappings, but it did seem rather a coincidence that something like this would happen after he sent her name to his father so many times. Though, Victor didn’t tell him everything, it was need to know only. Apparently, Charles didn’t need to know this, if it was even his dad. He concluded that he would ask about it in his next letter.
If it was though, how had she figured it out so easily? Then again, she assumed the Cooper boy standing behind her had had something to do with it. He was into conspiracy theories lately or so he had heard. “Why would I know anything about some stupid muggles?” He questioned with a raised eyebrow as though it were the silliest thing he had ever heard. It was them that had been silly enough to get themselves kidnapped. “What do you want me to do about it? I don’t want anything to do with you or your filthy mud blood family. Go cry to Raynott or something,” His voice was thick with venom. He hoped his words alone would be enough to make her go away. Why she would even dare confront him he had no idea. She must be mad.
G R Y F F I N D O R|H O U S E|T E A M|C A P T A I N|A N D|K E E P E R
Landon followed after her, his pace brisk as he tried to keep up. He hoped it wouldn't take too terribly long -- it was starting to get late, and he was supposed to meet Eddie for dinner with the Whitbys soon. Still, he wasn't about to leave Esme to deal with Charles Royce all on her own. Eddie's parents would forgive him for making them late -- he was like another son to them. They spotted Charles heading up the hall with his posse and Esme stood to block the way. She was still rather small compared to Royce -- not to mention the group of purebloods that stood at his back. Landon posted himself up beside her, as though to help her block the way. She waved the letters in his face angrily, and her voice sounded shaky, like she might start crying again at any second.
Charles was clearly not happy to see them. In fact, he looked like they had ruined his whole evening. Good. He probably deserved it. "Why would I know anything about some stupid muggles?" He asked, eyeing Landon a bit before turning his attention back to Ez. He looked almost amused, as though the idea were completely preposterous. Landon tensed a bit, ready to pull Esme back if she decided she was going to lunge at him. "What do you want me to do about it? I don't want anything to do with you or your filthy mud blood family. Go cry to Raynott or something," Charles spat in her face. The disdain he held was quite clear, and instead of reaching out to pull Esme back, Landon felt his own anger rise. "You're a real p***k, you know that, Royce?" He spat back, coming to his classmate's defense, against his better judgement. His own face felt hot now, and without thinking, he pulled back his fist, moving to step between Esme and Charles and catching the other male right across the nose. "I don't suppose you want to rethink that answer?" Landon snapped, shaking out his hand a bit -- he had hurt his own knuckles in the process, but it had felt incredibly satisfying.
Charles watched as Landon came up behind her. Why he was so fond of the muggle born students he had no idea. His family had disgraced themselves years ago anyway, so it was of no consequence to Charles who he was friends with. It was just a little confusing to him that he wasn’t as disgusted as he was by them. As Charles finished trying to get rid of the pest, Landon spoke up and he seemed to be just as angry as she did. He laughed. “You know, perhaps you should…”
Charles never got to finish his sentence, for Landon had socked him round the face with his fist. ‘I don’t suppose you want to rethink that answer’. He ignored him. Charles had been knocked back a few paces at the sheer force of the unexpected punch. He was certain his face was bleeding. Was he concussed? Did he need to go and see the nurse? After inspecting the damage caused for a few moments, Charles stood looking at the two in front of him. “How ******** dare you,” He shot at them both. As far as he was concerned, Esme was just as guilty as Landon. It was her the Gryffindor was trying to protect. Thus, this punch was as a result of muggle born corruption.
“Look at you,” Charles said. “Don’t you see what she’s doing to your mind?” She was manipulating him, as his whole family had been for generations. In many ways, Charles pitied him. As he was speaking, Charles was reaching for his wand. He wanted to teach that boy some manners. “Furnunculus” He muttered under his breath, pointing the wand in Landon’s direction at the very last minute. It was only a stupid jinx, it would in time cover him in boils, but he wasn’t about to get caught punching someone in the corridor. It might make him throw up some weird stuff too, he wasn't sure. He'd never had need to use it before.