Tinsel and Traitors

Tinsel and Traitors

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Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Apollo Zabini on Thu Dec 15, 2016 6:13 am

To say that Daphne Zabini cared about presentation would be a gross - no, horrendous - understatement. Her eldest son was no longer amazed by much of anything, though, after years of seeing the sorts of parties his mother could put on. He didn't know it yet, but he would certainly have to take that back after the Christmas Ball of 2029. Apollo, much like his little (by twenty-six minutes) brother, had understood immediately. The ball was as much for appearances as it was to try and sell him on a pureblooded young lady.

He did not, however, realize that his mother knew about Lily. And Christian had felt it would be better not to warn him, particularly after Apollo had laughed and declared that, regardless of the school situation, he would invite her.

Apollo hadn't told Christian that she had agreed to come. He still didn't know how they would keep people from ruining her job at Hogwarts, but on the other hand, most of the people his mother had invited were graduates. Would they even know she taught there? It wasn't like her spot as a professor had been advertised in the Prophet, so why should anyone care about anything other than that fact that she was a Potter? Merlin, they wouldn't like that.

He'd found out, on the other hand, that Ace was coming. What a night his mother was going to have!

As far as the Slytherin was concerned, his childhood home was just as unnecessarily posh as it had been before he moved out, but when he walked downstairs from his old bedroom after getting ready, he had to stop halfway down the steps. Floating lights lined the entryway and the steps that came down from the front door. A tree was tucked into the corner of their dining room, designated as the ballroom for the evening, and everything seemed to sparkle. Not so much that the lights bouncing off of things would give someone a headache or anything, but enough to make their home look spotless - which, granted, it probably was. And Merlin, did it look like Christmas in the Zabini manor.

For a breath, he wondered what Vanora would have thought of this place, seeing it like this.

But he shook it away, partly because he doubted his sibling would have wanted the pressure of all this when they hadn't grown up with it. But the other part came from his mother positively floating into the hall in her glittering gown, flicking her wand towards the front, double door to cast a warming charm on it before throwing them open without even bothering to climb the few stairs up to touch them.

Beyond the doors were the first arrivals. Mother looked thrilled.

"Katherine! How wonderful you look! I've been hearing good things about you since the - well, disaster during the summer."

Kit's smile was faker than the color in Daphne's hair, and although Apollo knew it, his mum didn't seem to care. "Yes, actually, thank you. I've been.. much better."

She glanced to her right, sharing a look with her brother Luke that made Apollo squint. Mes, perhaps unsurprisingly, looked bored already. Polite nods and everything else, but internally ready to leave. Apollo, much like everything else the night would bring, had no way of knowing that Lily seeing the pair of them would be incredibly strange. Probably awkward. Not to mention if Caleb showed up, what Mesut would think.

The evening, really, was a recipe for disaster. Christian had offered to show up with Ace and Lily if they wanted to arrive together, but Apollo hadn't been granted that opportunity. No, he was the next head of the family and it was his job to greet everyone. So he stepped forward to say hello to the Averys, pointedly ignoring his mother's equally important eyebrow lift when he took Katherine's hand to say hello.

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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Lily Luna Potter on Thu Dec 15, 2016 8:40 pm

“No. You can’t wear that.”

Ace Longbottom’s arms dropped to her side, any sign of hesitancy violently transforming into indignation at Lily Potter’s tone of finality. “And why not?”

Lily Potter sat on Ace Longbottom’s bed, feeling more than a little odd about the whole ordeal. Firstly, there was this new sentiment of coldness and irritation that Ace had developed towards her, conjured out of what seemed before to be a friendly indifference. Removed from her favor, it seemed strange that Lily could trespass as she did now in her home. Secondly, there was her entire detachment to her family, not only biological family but those extended through loyalty. She had never seen Neville Longbottom so surprised as he was when she called upon his youngest, and that was quite a claim, as Neville could often become flabbergasted, even in all his age and wisdom. Thirdly, that she should be sharing this moment at all, a moment that could surely be regarded as first public appearance with Apollo. They had gone over the pros and cons of the evening, and both had realized they risked her job with their attendance. But the job itself was one she had only taken out of obligation to one Zabini boy, and her obligation to the other required she save him from such horrors as posh pureblood soirées. But to share this momentous occasion with a girl who had no sense of the gravity, who furthermore seemed unwilling to treat it at all seriously…

Lily had to remind herself that she would probably find Ace as one of her only allies at this party. She had better get used to it.

Ace, however, seemed set against considering them allies. It was only because she did not want to ask Frank that she took Lily’s invitation to arrive together. They were to meet Christian down the lane so they could enter on the arm of a friend and all seemed settled. Lily herself had been content with apparating them off as soon as she arrived at the Longbottom home, but now she was glad for her own sense of uncertainty and feelings of doom. That half hour extra she had allotted had just filled up.

Because Ace Longbottom would not be attending a Zabini party in a mustard-colored, floral print, long-sleeved woolen dress. It was not a costume party, and even if it was, Lily would not let the Longbottom girl attend as a sofa from 1785.

“It’s the nicest dress I have,” Ace said pointedly, blissfully clueless to how much this affirmed Lily’s next statement.

“Then light your closet on fire, you aren’t wearing that.”

Ace crossed her arms, pursing her lips. “Well, what then. I can’t go naked.”

She immediately mistook Lily’s thoughtful gaze as consideration as to how a nude Ace Longbottom would be received and her cheeks blossomed pink. But Lily was shaking her head. “I know someone who looks your size.”

“I don’t know, Lily, I rather like it.”

It took Clementine Lovegood looking fondly at the dress for the blonde to finally admit to herself that maybe it wasn’t the best dress for the occasion. Tactful as always with Clementine, Lily pressed, “I agree, it’s lovely in its own light, but this is a ball. We’re supposed to dress-“

“Stuffy and uptight,” Ace added, her displeasure at being dragged along all the more evident. Lily found herself wondering, once again, why Ace was even bothering if it were such a chore for her. She did not have the obligation that Lily did. Lily would have been shocked to know that Ace’s presence was only caused by her own.

Clementine tilted her head, glancing up and down Lily. “Your dress isn’t so fancy.”

“Yeah!” came Ace’s immediate cry, glad to have someone on her side in this solitary anti-Lily moment that was sure to pass all too soon.

Lily blinked, glad she had better control of her emotions than she once had. “My dress has a magical component I’ll use once I get there. Trust me, I have done my consultations. The point is-“

“Yes, yes,” Clementine said, already circling an uneasy Ace. “I know, my closet is full of odds and ends, surely I have- and I just may. Come on, Alice! Lily, you should curl the ends of your hair while you wait. It’ll go well.” A warm smile and the Lovegood dragged Longbottom away.

It took less than twenty minutes for Clementine to herald her work as complete. Lily had taken Clem’s advice and then padded about the front garden, glad once again for the Lovegoods’ tendency to travel without their daughter. Lily reentered the home, pausing before the stairwell to await Ace.

Even Lily, as irked as she was by the aggressive and unpleasant presence of Ace, could not help but grin. Clem’s warm face was a bit warmer than usual, lighted with pleasure from her objective success. Even Ace suspected that the effect was a pleasing one, but she certainly was still undecided as to how to feel about it. Though her brow was ruffled in indignation of the entire affair, there was a new delicacy in her step that betrayed the new sensations of grace at being properly fitted.

She stopped at the bottom step and there was a pause. Of course, the entire picture was ruined when Ace reached down violently scratch an itch around her knee.

“It’s perfect, Clemmy,” Lily said, taking in the entire ensemble. “How do you feel, Ace?”

“Not horrible,” came the unwilling reply, as Ace glanced down at herself again, trying to become acquainted with the strange sight. “I can breathe in it. Which is nice. And Clem even let me-“

“You look wonderful,” came Clem’s calm assertion. Ace blinked and nodded, reaching up to rub her own arm. A muttered thanks and Lily made their goodbyes, and the two girls set off, both caught up in their own trepidations as they reached out to clasp hands and-

CRACK!

They appeared at the end of the lane and their hands were immediately parting. Ace reached up and brushed her hair back, taking in a deep breath. Her eyes suddenly caught onto something over Lily’s shoulder and it seemed to the brunette that Ace’s face had gotten a little paler, which only served to highlight the pink flush brought on by the icy air. Lily cleared her throat and used an Aunt Hermione trick, transfiguring one of the coins from her clutch into a jar, before conjuring warming flames. She held the jar loosely and turned, indicating Ace follow. She could hear a low stream of curses under Ace’s breath and as her eyes found Christian Zabini, she could not help but wonder what would cause the blonde’s discomfort at being seen thus by the other Hufflepuff.

“C’mon, Ace,” she said, lifting a hand as Christian’s eyes fell on them. “We probably won’t die.”

#ReadApollily


Last edited by Lily Luna Potter on Mon Jan 30, 2017 4:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Christian Zabini on Thu Dec 15, 2016 10:17 pm

Christian wasn't dressed quite as nicely as his brother, though he had ensured that his ensemble would not disappoint his mum, whose opinion mattered, now, nearly as much as-

He turned, catching the sound of apparition that was almost unfamiliar after so long without it at school. And there was Lily in some kind of deep - was it blue? - somethingorother. And then -- there was Ace. She looked more like an Alice today.

Tonight? What time was it, even? Christian didn't know, and couldn't bother himself to look down the other end of the high street to the clock tower that he knew, inevitably, would be sitting in wait at the center of the main intersection there. Oh what did it matter?

Ace's mouth was moving, and then Lily's did, but he couldn't hear either of them. His hands settled more deeply in his jacket pockets as the girls started walking towards him, and he found that he didn't know what to do besides wait for them to arrive in front of him.

There was a moment when he didn't say anything. Then a, "You look..." and a stuttered pause before, "brilliant."

And then his gaze shifted to Lily. "And so do you. Of course," without much feeling. Why would he back the statement up with any when he knew Apollo would punch him or Lily would think he hadn't moved on. Which he so, completely had. Yup.

And then it was basically time to go, because if they left Apollo on his own for too long he would start to worry, importantly, but their mother would start to test the waters with whoever showed up first. And Christian got the distinct feeling that the longer their arrival took, the longer the night would feel in the end. Not that it wouldn't be painful either way, really.

Besides, at that very moment, another group arrived back at the manor and when Apollo moved away from Katherine, even just a step, his mother shook her head. No, Daphne's expression exclaimed, you stay with Kit.

And so it began, apparently. So he offered her his arm, which she looked a bit amused by before she actually took it.

So while Apollo apologized for Katherine for his mother's behavior (No, seriously, I'm sorry. She's on this kick, and I- ... Yes, exactly. Has your father been-? No? Lucky.), Christian was trying not to feel strange about the fact that they would have to hold onto each other to apparate. He didn't ask how Lily knew the place to get them there. He didn't want to know how Apollo could have snuck her in there, he really didn't. He especially didn't want to know when, or for how long. Christian, of course, believed the rumors that Lily did, to some extent. He didn't think Apollo was as.. prolific as some claimed, to be sure, but he didn't doubt - though he was quite wrong - that the pair of them had-

Well. He'd already dragged that nightmare of a subject to the surface. No need for it to happen again. Instead, he just pulled his strongest attempt at a smile.

"Shall we?"
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Ace Longbottom on Thu Dec 15, 2016 11:22 pm

He was going to laugh, of course. She looked ridiculous, after all. Ace wasn't a determined tomboy like Casey Weasley, sure, but this was an entirely different matter! No one would wear a dress like this without taking the dress itself so seriously, and she simply could not. It was unpractical. It was extraneous. The reason people wore such ridiculous garments was to invoke praise on physical attributes, attributes that had nothing to do with strength or competency - it had everything to do with those attributes that should not matter. Ace was well groomed but she was not vain. Anyone who knew her knew she had no interest in being looked at, she had only ever wanted to be heard.

So of course he would laugh. And she wouldn't blame him. But she was going to curse him, of course.

She followed Lily like a child being dragged to church, eyes cast down, lips moving as she huffed breath, feet kicking through the light layer of snow that had gathered.

And then Lily stopped. And Ace knew that must mean they had finally reached Christian. She felt her irritation and embarrassment rise, ready to lash out. 3... 2...

What?

She squinted at him for a second, head moving quickly to ensure he was actually talking to her, and that he wasn't holding back a laugh. What the hell was this then? Leave it to Christian. Leave it to Christian bloody Zabini to disappoint her on the front of pissing her off and somehow making her even more uncertain.

She couldn't explain why, and she wouldn't admit it, but his lackluster compliment towards Lily somehow made the whole matter a little better.

"Right, well..." she said, looking anywhere but in the eyes of her companions. She jerked her arms outward. "Are we just gonna freeze out here or what?"

Lily's eyes could not help but flick skyward. They fell back on Christian and she offered a small twitch of her lips. If anything, it might irk Ace. "You look nice as well, Christian."

"Right, I'm getting hypothermia," Ace reminded, voice now returned to her usual aggressive impatience.

Maybe Lily was punishing Ace for all of her unpleasantness. Or maybe she was helping her out. Either way, it seemed fair. She hooked an arm with Ace and gave her a pointed look. Ace's glare deepened but she reached a hand towards Christian.

Lily waited for the Hufflepuffs to make contact before she turned on her heel.

There were hasty releases all around, especially considering that the blonde was the key link. Ace could not help but feel a bit overwhelmed at the size of the estate, immediately taking a step forward, as though the thing would become a mirage and somehow shrink. It didn't, of course, and she blinked, glancing towards Christian and offering a nod of solidarity. So she was to lead the charge. She'd show them. Ace Longbottom wasn't scared of evildoers, Death Eaters, or murderers. So she certainly wasn't afraid of a party.

Lily found herself bringing up the rear, which was more than fine for her. She had only Apollo's uncertain assurances to keep her from believing the night would be a total, unequivocal disaster, but she wondered how biased his feelings on the matter was. She doubted there was anything he wouldn't have said to get her to attend.

Well, here she was. And only one thing to do now that they were stepping up to the entrance. With a flick of her wand, the silvery stars on her dress began to shine and pulsate, something so subtle you might chalk it up to the lighting, but something so unique to her that she would know that if she wasn't liked, it was truly for no fault of her own.
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Apollo Zabini on Fri Dec 16, 2016 2:07 am

Christian didn't wait for any compliments from Ace, and didn't really know if he wanted them or not, anyway. But back home, Apollo was trying to find an excuse to escape Katherine's presence without getting in trouble. He didn't know when Christian and the girls would show up, but he knew he couldn't leave them to arrive alone. He just hoped that they would be wise enough to walk in when Daphne was preoccupied with someone else.

"Did you invite the Flints?" Kit asked casually, eyeing Apollo and his disinterest.

"Always," he nodded.

"Hmm."

Apollo wasn't sure what to take from that, but when she asked him to let her know when they arrived, he did have a little sliver of an idea about it. The Avery boys had always been rather close to Caleb, in their own ways. So that wasn't surprising. But it did sound like a dismissal, and that was wonderful. So he told her that he hoped she enjoyed the evening - when actually he didn't care less - and made it back to the entrance stairs in time to see Ace lead the way in. Christian caught Apollo's gaze and nodded subtly, stepping up alongside Ace regardless of what she wanted, and then it kicked off.

"Christian? Who's this?"

The Hufflepuff moved one hand to the small of Ace's back, half expecting her to take off on their mum straight away. "This is Alice. She's my best mate from school. I wanted to-"

"Show her how well you decorate, mum," Apollo cut in, expecting a sorry explanation from his brother. Apparently, his comment was better, because Christian looked relieved. Despite everything, Apollo wouldn't let his brother flounder. Not about Ace. "Everyone's heard about your parties, you know. The Christmas ones are always the nicest."

Daphne looked over at Apollo for perhaps a moment before turning back to Christian. It took a second or two of pulse-thundering panic on the boys' part, but then she smiled. It was the sort of smile that let them know that they had hit the right note, and she didn't even ask what Ace's last name was. Instead, she stepped forward to greet her son, looking down at Ace almost... fondly? How unfair.

"That's so kind of you," she said, unsurprisingly attaching Apollo's words to Christian when she wanted to say something pleasant. That also figured.

There were footsteps, though, and Apollo knew that Daphne had accepted Ace's presence enough for the moment. His fingers carded through his hair as if that would somehow help his appearance. Now he could look for- Merlin. He wasn't sure what to do, for a moment. If his mother and the other two weren't in the way, maybe he would have waited for her. Or he might have taken the steps two at a time, were it not for the occasion and the requirement of propriety by his family's standards.

Instead, his eyes took Lily in, slow and purposeful, from her skirt and up to her face. Seriously, Merlin.

While Christian complimented their mother's work himself, Apollo stepped around and made his way up the steps to her. Maybe if he went slow enough, his mum wouldn't notice. Or maybe she wouldn't care at all, because it was Apollo and not Christian. But oh, did she notice.

"Apollo?"

He didn't hear her. He really didn't, because he had stopped on the step below Lily, hand extended towards her. Christian and Daphne could only stare. Christian, because he hadn't seen his brother so gallant or gentle with anyone. Daphne, because she knew exactly who that girl was. There was a perfectly lovely, apparently healthy and beautiful pureblood girl in the ballroom, but he wanted to talk to a Potter. How positively horrible.

In Apollo's mind, horrible was being unable to find something worth saying in greeting. What could he say that wouldn't be awkward for others to overhear? Out of the corner of his eye, Christian was pulling Ace against his side and trying to get her to walk away with him. Better to avoid Apollo and Lily's angst rather than to get Ace swept up in it.

Still, Apollo knew he had to say something, or he'd look like a jerk. "...Hi."

Yeah, reeeeeal smooth.

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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Lily Luna Potter on Fri Dec 16, 2016 6:39 am

As usual, Camila Flint was exactly what the situation required. She knew the Zabini parents well enough, having had to politely smother each with flattery for her entire life, though her dissatisfaction would never be suspected, so well she played the part. She felt no particular need to smile, so when it came, it was remarkably easy. She was much more withholding of warmth than her brother, who strolled with a relaxed posture next to her in a suit of matching color. However, her smile, if earned, could melt even the most unsociable of personalities.

Such was the case with Levski patriarch, who had upon his face the sourest of expressions before Camila began her work, driven only by her desire to make the night less horrible for herself. She was excusing her parents, who were off in some tropical climate for the holidays, doing her daughterly duty, but Caleb knew her well enough to know she wished to be elsewhere, somewhere on her own terms.

He didn't mind. He felt easy around these people, these people who knew him from birth, who had seen him grow into his name and his suits, who took pride in them as though they had a stake in his success. These sorts of events brought out every sort of sycophant and insufferable personality, but at least some of these were his equal in reputation and coin, in fact, some even his superior. Few were his equal in talent, and the only superior to his wit was by his side, smiling through a sickly sweet commendation of her manners.

Caleb allowed for a sigh to slip past his lips, causing the most subtle of harsh looks from his sister, but it was gone in a second and it seemed her conversation partner didn't seem to notice. He leaned forward, excusing himself to the pair with a polite smile, before striding across the room towards the drink table.

There he found himself astride Ben Norton, which was always a treat. Ben was lucky to have found an excuse to attend, as he had only the money and none of the status required, but Ben was well liked and a proper catch for one of the poorer pureblooded women. He often secured an invitation based on the lack of eligible bachelors alone. Caleb would trade ten Ben Nortons for stuffy old Levskis.

"I'd never accuse such a genteel family of watering down their drink, but it'll take me ten flutes to get a buzz off of this champagne," Caleb complained, certain that their distance from the other partygoers secured his confidence.

Ben grinned, trying the champagne for himself. "I'm surprised at you, Flint. I thought you liked to keep your wits about you."

"They never leave," Caleb said, grinning. He caught sight of one of the elderly Krum uncles and sighed, certain he would be cornered. "Unfortunately. It would have helped if they took a vacation for the night. Might allow me to enjoy the company."

"I won't take offense to that, though I should," Ben said, still grinning to express his enjoyment at the verbal spar. "Surely you can find a game for the night. You always seem to make even the most boring of events into good sport."

That was when his eyes found her. He couldn't be certain that she saw him too, for a group of women crossed his path and she had turned away when they passed. Caleb's eyes flicked back towards Ben, who had noticed a shift but not the cause, and who was smiling a bit too smugly for Caleb's comfort. What should have been hesitance, considering the complication of the lady's brother's request, soon became defiance, just at the spark in the Norton man's eye.

"Caleb."

Caleb turned, but it was only his sister, who had the smallest trace of irritation in her otherwise smooth features. It disappeared when her eyes fell on Ben Norton, and Caleb witnessed one of the most sincere smiles he had ever seen on his sister.

"Benjamin Norton."

"Camila Flint. A picture as always."

"You're a welcome sight yourself. Is my brother antagonizing you?"

"I think I may have finally succeeded in crawling under his skin, for once."

"Not too difficult, I suppose. He's never had a need for a thick hide, he's always surrounded himself with people all too pleased to sing his praises."

"He also has ears," Caleb reminded, narrowing his eyes in mock irritation. Camila bit her tongue between her teeth and shot Ben a look of shocked surprise, and Ben tittered in response. Caleb's eyes did a magnificent arc in time with a sigh and he turned back to his sister, his expression a bit dulled. "Shall we call upon the Avery's? I'm still trying to convince Mesut to marry you. Could be a great business deal."

"Mesut Avery's skin is certainly not thick enough to handle being tied to you two," Ben quipped, causing a rare laugh out of Camila.

Caleb might have concerned himself more with this growing alliance between his friend and sister if his own impatience to cross the room had not grown so deeply. "Well let us give him a chance to run for the hills." Camila's eyes flicked to her twin brother's, recognizing some sense of urgency and she turned to grip Ben's hand warmly. "I'm sure I can count on you to save me sometime tonight."

His smile followed them as the two turned and began their way across the hall, a certain frostiness between them. Camila lifted her eyebrow. "It's not a fun game if you don't let your teammates have any fun."

He could feel her irritation and knew he needed her charm, now more than ever. His eyes rolled towards her and allowed for a real smile. "I'll let you play a few rounds."

She flicked her eyebrows, looking hesitant to give her forgiveness, though he knew he was back in her favor. "So what's the game."

"No game."

It was the second time that night that Camila Flint managed a real laugh.

- - -

Alice had stepped into a new world. The Hogwarts Great Hall, folksy and charming as it was, had nothing to the Zabini's decor. Reflective surfaces, beautiful people, shimmering effects. There was something ancient to the effects, despite everything being the newest and best version of whatever it was. The tree itself was the most perfect thing she had ever seen. Full and tall, thick and green, each ornament placed impeccably. Even for a girl of simple tastes, it was impossible to not appreciate the effect.

"Holy shit."

It struck Ace the second the words tumbled from her lips that such language was certainly not appropriate for the situation, and her eyes widened and she turned to look at Christian, wondering if it was too soon to get kicked out. But then everything happened. Apollo was there, and so was a beautiful, intimidating woman that could only be...

It was all so quick. She spoke, then Christian, then Apollo, and she hardly knew what was happening. "Very nice to meet you, Mrs Zabini," she managed, her voice somehow robotic, a croak, and an apology all at once. She glanced at Christian, surprised that it all seemed to be going well, and she cleared her throat. She had to think of this as a mission, and part of the success of the misson required earning this woman's approval.

Somehow, that did the trick.

She cleared her throat again and slowly straightened her back. "I was just saying that this outdoes even the Hogwarts decorations. I've never seen a better looking tree."

Lily knew as she crossed through the door that she would need to be acting at the top of her intelligence, observing everything, and sharing her attention. Too much preference, regardless of how much she wanted to give it, would not ingratiate herself to already adverse circumstances. She knew she would not have long before she was thrust into the waters, and it could quickly dissolve into a situation in which her head slipped beneath the waves. She had to be prepared.

But when her eyes met Apollo's, she could not deny herself this moment. This moment free of all of the conditions, of all of the reservations. He was approaching her and the world around had shrunk away for only the pair of them, and she couldn't smile for him because part of her was so oddly nervous, and the other was just so anxious for him to reach her so she could reach out.

Her eyes didn't leave his as her hand raised to take his, unable to thank him, but the slightest dimpling on her cheeks to indicate her gratitude. If they were needed anywhere, she didn't know. She couldn't even claim to know where Christian and Ace were. Her eyes had not even taken in the grandeur of the room.

Warmth reached her eyes and that smile only he could tempt out of her unfurled on her face. "Hi."

Ace had never actually seen the two in full form. She had become aware of Lily's averted gaze, of Apollo's furrowed brow, everything to show the frustration that came from their hidden relationship. These negative experiences had made it so easy for Ace to find their whole deal tiresome and unnecessary, so much so that she could probably admit to rooting against their situation. But this was different. She had been raised alongside Lily Potter and she had never seen her look so genuine and happy. Ace didn't give much thought to the idea of love, but she couldn't help but believe in its power looking at those two.

She was drawn out of these too tender thoughts (you'd have to kill her before she owned up to them), Christian pulled her near him and led her away. Her mouth opened in indignation and, briefly forgetting her setting, she almost called him out. But she clamped her mouth shut, insteading boring into him with her eyes until they were far enough away for her to pull from his grip.

"I thought we were here to help them?"
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Katherine "Kit" Avery on Fri Dec 16, 2016 8:22 am

Was it fair for Katherine to want to leave as soon as she heard her brother point out Camilla and Caleb? And who was that with them? Think I've seen them somewhere before, he said behind her, to Lucas. Not that Luke was listening, either. But Mes had very little else to do besides chat to the pair of them. It was a wonder anybody had gotten the three of hem in the same room, nonetheless to behave so appropriately in front of all of these people.

Strangely, Luke was the one who had worried about how she would fair tonight. These people all thought she was sickly, useless and the worst possible match for their sons - heir or otherwise. But Mes was right. There was Caleb. And she had no intention of talking to either of her brothers about the last time she had seen him. Freya, indeed.

So as Mes prattled on, Christian turned Ace to the left, angling them so she could look over his shoulder at the show he knew was about to open. The curtain went up, and then Ace spoke.

"Trust me," he muttered, "just watch. We'll help them. But- If we cut in now, she'll know anything we say later is a ruse. Just... just wait."

And so he held on to Ace a bit tighter just in case, not really trusting her to trust him on this. Christian wanted to, but she looked furious already. When she understood the problematic dynamic that Apollo and their mother had, he imagined things would get worse.

"Son."

Apollo turned sharply at that, the word almost unfamiliar. But he clutched Lily's hand like his life depended on it, which he worried for a moment it really might.

"What is this?" Daphne asked, dark gaze boring into his matching one. "What's going on?"

"Well, I should think that it would be fairly obvious -- Mother." He stepped backwards, though carefully, and up he went onto the step next to Lily. And, defying everything Christian would have advised, he curled his arm around her back.

Daphne's chin lifted defiantly, just in time for Blaise to make his way down the staircase. "Apollo," he said as his steps slowed, tone warning and serious. At Lily's side, the elder twin froze. Christian turned, his hold on Ace falling away.

"Oh no."

"Dad-"

Blaise's chin lifted.

"Father, this is Lily Potter. She's my-- We're--"

"Oh, for Merlin's sake," Daphne rolled her eyes. "I thought you were stronger than this, Apollo. We didn't raise you to choose this."

We? both twins fired back internally. Apollo only held Lily tighter. "I understand that. But this is my choice, Mum. Tonight, it's mine. Don't do this in front of all of these people."

Blaise narrowed his eyes, but something about Apollo's words must have struck a chord, because he nodded slowly, took Daphne's arm, and led her away. And then Apollo turned to Lily, even as his gaze lifted to the ceiling as though that somehow helped the tension escape alongside his sigh.

"I'm sorry," he said into her hair when he leaned forward. "I knew it would be bad, but I-. Oh, man. But the good news is, they won't do anything tonight. How long that lasts...? Well."

And so Christian released Ace entirely, letting her go over to them if she wanted to, and Katherine paused with a drink halfway to her lips when she saw Caleb approaching. Well, this would be interesting.

Mes stepped forward first, greeting Camilla just long enough to be appropriate before turning to Caleb, a slight frown on his face. Katherine was here, and he didn't know if his friend had done what he had asked of him. Wanted to know. Luke gave Mes a weird look, but Katherine stepped forward, all flowing red gown and low-cut front and heels just tall enough as she came up next to Mesut. Her head tilted to the side just enough to be pointed in the eyes of someone like Caleb.

"Hello," she offered, eyeing the pair of them over her flute as she sipped from it. "Having a nice evening so far?"
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Caleb Flint on Fri Dec 16, 2016 8:55 am

Ace was acting out of character and allowing herself to be assuaged (for now) but that was certainly not to last. Across the room, Lily Potter was probably acting out of character for anyone who had gone to school with her, for the brunette had been without a smile for nearly three years, and here it was being inspired by the boy whose taunts had caused her to go animalistic on him - or so the rumors went. She knew the moment would not last long, because good things rarely lasted, and her it was. The implosion she had been led to expect.

Not by Apollo's doing, but by the mere treatment from one Daphne Zabini, Lily became a prop in their argument. She clutched his hand loosely, unwilling to show fear or defiance through a tightening of the grip. She felt no need to double down on Apollo's defiance. Defiance meant having any obligation to the contrary opinion in the first place. She didn't care enough for Daphne's wishes to directly disobey. It wasn't about anyone but Apollo.

Blaise was the one who considered Apollo to be of worth. If there were one who had more cause to disapprove, and yet was more likely to acquiesce, it was him. She briefly wondered if he understood the fortune he had to have two healthy boys, a family intact. Lily couldn't ask anyone to be a functional family, because she had never seen what one looked like. But Blaise and Daphne had everything at their disposal to have one, if only they allowed it.

She supposed a lecture on family values was the last thing either wanted. So she allowed her expression to remain placid, giving them no reason beyond those they already had to hate her even more. They moved away and she felt icy within her, suddenly and strangely remembering the Notts. How many of her sworn adversaries would be here tonight? And would this always be the case?

Apollo turned to her, once again capturing her attention, and the pains of facing her critics waned. She knew Apollo would not often subject her to it. Neither of them actually liked these people, they simply knew they had no other choice but to expose themselves on occasion. And here was their first. They had survived so much more. This would be nothing.

She could see the tension building within him, the worry and frustration. She reached forward and brushed his shoulders off, the silliest of excuses to touch him. "I thought it went well. Your mum especially seems to be doting on me already." She gave him a mischievous look and then dropped her hands. "You look nice."

Understatement.

Camila reached the Averys before her brother, and warmly drew each into an air kiss, having known them perhaps longest of the other families, though Caleb was certainly closest to them. Caleb offered cheery handshakes, nodding towards Katherine almost indifferently, as though he barely noticed her. Mesut's eyes were lingering on him and Camila was speaking to the others animatedly about one of the young Krums for whom they had always enjoyed seeing make a fool of himself. Caleb clapped a hand to Mesut's back, saying with a practiced air of casual indifference, "I read your memo, and I've set to work. Speaking of! Camila!"

His sister, having slipped easily into that guise of unstudied charm, turned with raised eyebrows. "You were telling me about that interesting legislation that just passed in Belgium about magical and nonmagical business exchanges. I thought these chaps would find that absolutely riveting."

Camila had told him of no such thing. No such bill had passed and now it was her job to invent it. She wasn't sure what his game was, but she didn't mind the game for herself.

She stepped towards the men and, with ease, plunged into explanation. "So, Belgium is finding this heavy cross section of magical and nonmagical trade in, of all things, chocolate-"

Caleb turned towards Katherine, smiling as he raised a glass of his own, carefully meeting her eyes now that Camila had captured Mesut's attention. "Evening, Katherine. It's lovely. A little unexciting. I suppose I might find something to entertain myself though. You look lovely, by the way."

(
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Keiran Hayes on Fri Dec 16, 2016 11:48 pm

Apollo smirked in reply, leaning towards her again to kiss her temple. "Nowhere near you," he added. "I should have said so already. This dress is just..."

Apollo shook his head, an easy smile appearing despite the start to their night. "Anyway, you're right. Anyone who knows what's good for them won't do anything here no matter what they think." He stepped back, offering an arm for her to take. "Shall we?"

As he led her down the last couple of steps, Katherine watched her brothers get drawn in so easily that it was a little disappointing. But that wasn't as important to her once Caleb spoke to her directly. "Thank you," she replied, her tone quietly suggesting that she knew as much. "I wouldn't worry too much about the evening being boring, though."

She waved a hand at him, glad his back was to the others when her fingers found his wrist and pushed down gently. Just enough to keep his drink out of their lines of sight. A bit more loudly than necessary, she went on. "Oh, look at that. Your drink seems to be getting low. Shall we take a turn around the room to pick up another one?"

Her feet sent her backwards a couple of steps and her hand slowly pulled away from his arm until it fell back at her side. Kit's eyes held a challenge of sorts until she turned, hardly waiting for him to agree.

Imagine the surprise a certain Headmaster must have felt upon being invited to an event like this. One with secrets and hidden family wars. Still, he had no obligations for the evening, and he had assisted the boys at the start of the school year when they needed a way to get back to Hogwarts. To say no would have been an insult. Of course, he half expected Alice to be there, but he walked in and saw the Hufflepuffs only moments before he caught sight of Apollo.

Apollo, who was chatting to the woman on his arm. Who visibly braced himself as they reached the doorway to the ballroom in his own family's home. And yes, Apollo, who turned to the girl with the curious dress and said something and then leaned in for a brief kiss.

So the woman was seeing him. And Keiran recognized her the instant Apollo pulled away. The headmaster's eyes narrowed sharply but he decided to wait and see what happened once they saw him. Instead, he hung back and waited for the twins and their dates to wander into the next room before glancing back towards the front doors. This was definitely not Keiran's idea of fun.

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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Kenna McBain on Sat Dec 17, 2016 8:35 pm

Kenna McBain did not own the sort of dress one was required to wear for a ball. Katarina Rookwood, still true to her word to write, had suspected as much when Kenna revealed that Remy intended to drag her along as a buffer between the pureblood attitudes he had such disdain for. The barmaid was barraged by house elves one night in her home, all lugging dress bags and insisting they were sent on Katarina’s command, to help her pick one of her old dresses. A light blue dress, simple and tasteful, seemed to do the trick. She had no intentions on standing out or impressing. She just needed a dress so she could complete the task she was asked to complete – she was there to keep Remy from dying of boredom.


She suspected she was also there to act as a buffer between him and women he had no interest in. The Frenchman was a bit of a womanizer, to be frank, but had little interest in marrying, and even less interest in satisfying the demands of the pureblood world. His mother had no qualms about his tastes, having long abandoned the idea that he could be controlled since the death of his father, and Remy was free to be the wild bachelor of the Beauxbatons Headmistress. Her only request of him was to not so publicly rebuff their society – either stay out, or play nice. Remy did like a party. So he needed someone there who would make sure he didn’t get in too much trouble.

Who better than his former wife. Fake marriage or not, she had figured out how to reign her friend in. There was no one better for the job.

Despite this, she had only joined Remy for a pureblood event once before, and that day had been with primarily French relatives, so she had never been surrounded by the “elite” of her own society. She knew herself well enough to know she was not likely to attract dislike from anyone in particular, but she also expected some level of condescension – which she could not claim to be wholly unjustified, regardless of her own views on class and blood. She was about to be surrounded by the rich and famous and beautiful. All she did was run a bar.

“Kenna.”

Remy was waiting at the entrance, an amused smile playing on his lips while he watched her. The snow had picked up and she wanted to get her fill of it, standing in the lane with her chin tilted towards the drifting snowflakes. She was certainly a sight, dyed hair pulled up into a tasteful updo, light blue dress falling from her hips, a jean jacket pulled over her shoulders. They were certainly some of the last to arrive, so no one was there to scorn her fashion choices, and Remy admired the woman’s unique outlook too much to tell her it wasn’t appropriate though he suspected – ah. There it was. A flick of her wand and the jacket she had worn for their trip transformed into a tasteful shawl. This is why he could trust her to be his companion.

She turned and met Remy’s eyes, a smile twisting onto her lips. “I love snow at night.”

He rolled his eyes, still grinning. “Yes, I know, but I have a feeling you’ll like this too.”

She ooh-ed at the sight of the Zabini’s grand hall, the decorations glittering and capturing that special magic that only the Christmas season could incite. Remy was pleased that her duty for the evening had perks that his friend could enjoy, and he led them towards the drink table to gather their necessary arsenal for the evening. Armed with their champagne flutes, Kenna fell into step with Remy so that he could begin paying his respects to the hosts.

Meanwhile, Lily Potter was enjoying the assurances that she could expect to avoid the hosts for the rest of the night. She glowed beneath Apollo’s praises, glad to know that her assessment of the dress had been right. His promise that the night would be free of any more grief seemed idealistic, to say the least, but she wanted to begin to trust the good things that life, on occasion, allowed. She took his arm and descended the steps, leaning towards him as they reached the final step to say, “Let’s get some alcohol. That always helps.” A shared laugh, and finally, a kiss. Their first in public, and she found herself once again slipping into that attitude of being incapable of caring who saw and what they thought. She was so tired of everyone feeling like they had a claim in her life. This was hers.

She drew away and her eyes fell on a familiar enough figure. Her eyes glanced downwards, and she was reminded of, once again, how quickly idealism seemed to grip her with Apollo. It was naïve of her to assume such a defiant nature. There was certainly reason enough for discretion, and getting spotted by the very person who could make her situation more difficult was reason enough, a reason realized. Her eyes flickered towards Apollo and she tilted her head. “Come on. Let’s go.”

Let her figure out what could be done before she told him the situation.

Katherine knew something. That much was clear. Something was brewing in her mind, and whether or not her desire for privacy with him had to do with setting the record straight or bringing him into the know didn’t matter – he was intrigued. His eyebrows were quirked, his lips twisted to hold back his amusement, and his eyes sharp. “Thank you for noticing. Why don’t we. Lads, don’t let Camila wear you out too much.”

Camila turned to look at her brother, lifting her eyebrows in a micromovement, clearly desirous to be in the know of his sudden intrigue regarding the youngest Avery. But Caleb was already walking off, glass still out of sight, other arm taking hers. An expression unreadable to any onlooker settled onto his face, but the mischief was still detectable in his voice. “Am I in trouble?”

Ace Longbottom passed this couple, surprised to see Kit Avery, one of the weakest of those recovered from Ilvermorny looking as though she had never even had a cold, let alone gone through the hell across the pond. “Is that…” her gaze followed their retreating backs and sighed, looking at Christian. “So what now. We just… wait? What am I supposed to do in the meantime.”

Good company, magnificent food, expensive alcohol, and elegant dancing… Absolutely nothing that Ace Longbottom could fine pleasure in.
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

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