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Tinsel and Traitors

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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Katherine "Kit" Avery on Sun Dec 18, 2016 1:58 am

Katherine smiled a little too serenely after he asked his question. "You have quite a talent, Caleb. It seems you are always capable of coming up with a question just vague enough to be irksome. As usual, apparently, my answer to your question is the same." She turned her head to look at him, eyebrows lifted teasingly. "It depends."

Gazing ahead again and ensuring that they walked just slow enough to give them time but careful enough, as well, to avoid colliding with anyone in front of them, Katherine leaned towards him so she could drop her voice and yet remain casual despite the threats that were to come.

"On the one hand, you could decide not to tell my brothers about what happened the other night, which - arguably - would be in your best interest regardless of what Mesut says. We both know he's the least of your worries," she said with a gentle sigh, disappointment evident though she knew he wouldn't expect that of her old self. "On the other hand, you could decide that you do want to talk to them. In which case, I assure you that you will most definitely be in trouble."

Her feet slowed to avoid being overheard by the bizarre appearance of the new headmaster at Hogwarts, until she decided to just stop and face him, expression grim and - somehow - imperious. "Here's the deal, Flint. By the end of the night, it will be important who you've sided with. After that, I'm afraid there won't be much room to negotiate. And you'll either be in... or out."

In all other versions of reality, Katherine would have been utterly baffled by her own actions. But this Kit? She was enjoying every second. Having some semblance of control was wonderful, to begin with, but then also having someone like Caleb nearly involved but still out of the loop? It was fascinating, and almost addicting. She had her brother to thank for that, of course, though the elder one did not and would not ever know it. Flint probably wouldn't, either, unless a miracle happened and she decided he was trustworthy or that she needed him.

Yes, she could thrive on this feeling, that much was evident. Particularly when one eyebrow lifted as she let him contemplate that, deciding not to give him anything more to go off of. She wasn't about to wait around to learn what he had chosen, after all. Bigger things were at play than he could even imagine, standing there all amused and playful. If she didn't know better, she would've called it flirting. But she was Kit and he was Caleb, and that just wouldn't be reasonable, knowing their pasts and their families. No, indeed. She was too rational to really assume otherwise. He wouldn't deign. Not yet, anyway.

Music swelled up from the other end of the ballroom and she glanced over with feigned curiosity as a few of the married couples took to the floor with ease. Others looked tempted, but too unsure to join in just yet. Curating her expression into one that her family and pureblood relations would expect from her old self, she released Caleb's arm and played at being shy, as she had been before.

"Do you think," she began, tone blatantly going against her play-acting and informing him that her prodding was not really over, "that they would rejoice or object if they thought we knew each other better than we really do? If we stand here much longer without joining the dance, my brothers will ask questions. Perhaps you should return to their group and consider what I've said," Katherine suggested with a shrug.

While Katherine, funnily enough, would not have minded joining in, it was clear that Ace was still not interested in doing so. Christian didn't quite know what to say to that, and he didn't know if he wanted to suggest that they go speak with Apollo and Lily after the show outside. It probably wouldn't matter, but the chance that their parents would ask questions didn't make the concept particularly appealing.

He found that he was actually disappointed after she demanded an activity from him. Sure, people who went to these things all the time had every right to be bothered by attending parties like this. It wasn't really fun, anymore. But none of it caught Ace's attention? Really? Christian eyed her almost warily, wondering if she could ever just have fun, rather than trying to plan ahead.

"Maybe you could try not thinking so much," he suggested with a frown, turning to look out across the room and ensuring that he had stepped away enough to give her some space. He would regret it, of course, when she inevitably ended up hitting him for the sarcasm he was letting loose. "What do you want to do, Ace?" He asked finally, sighing a little. "I won't be allowed to just stand around all night, regardless of what's going on with Apollo. So unless you've got any suggestions, I'll be expected to ask people to dance."

So while Christian tried to determine where his frustration was coming from, to no avail, Apollo was surprisingly relaxed. He began pointing out people he wasn't sure if she knew, careful not to sound patronizing. Not that alcohol would help, really, if they really got going. Perhaps they could escape after a while and nobody would know the difference. Nobody besides his parents, anyway.

"Oh," he added as he gestured with the hand that now held his glass, "there's Camilla Flint. I'm always confused by how close her brother is to the Avery boys. Mesut's never really seemed fond of.. well, any of us. I'm not sure what his deal is, to be fair, but he seems to be getting along with her just fine for now." Leaning in closer, his tone turned conspiratorial. "What's actually interesting is what we don't see. Luke and Mes? They hate each other. And their sister... She's got to be around her somewhere..- Ah. Stranger still, she's talking to Flint himself. Well, at least we've found some entertainment for the evening, hm? If my parents aren't going to put on more of a show, that lot might."

And Keiran? He really and truly didn't want to be there. He was ready to leave, despite hardly having walked into the house, and couldn't help but question everything about the evening as he stepped into the ballroom. Blaise gave him a nod from across the room, and Keiran returned it despite wishing he didn't have to. How many of these people were Death Eaters masquerading as polite society? How many were genuinely both, somehow?

Either way, he didn't want to talk to anybody that he didn't have to, so he looked around for the most conspicuous, most uninterested- wait. It wasn't what he'd been going for, but their presence was baffling to say the least. At least, he thought it was her. He couldn't quite tell from where he stood. And although Keiran was absolutely the more reserved type, and thoroughly ashamed of his performance of sorts the last time he had seen her, he wasn't going to stand about all night like an up-turned nose in a suit. That wouldn't make things any more enjoyable for him.

So he crossed the end of the ballroom, tempted to stop off at the drinks table but thinking better of it, and ambled up behind her. After clearing his throat, he decided against reaching out and accidentally scaring her. Instead, he just spoke up a little.

"Kenna..?"
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Ace Longbottom on Sun Dec 18, 2016 6:05 am

Lily had focused so heavily on all of the things that were to go wrong that night that she had failed to consider how the time in between each disaster would be spent. Her trust that time spent with Apollo was time well spent had kept her from considering what a pureblood party had to offer her. She was not extroverted enough to enjoy the process of reaching out to people who almost definitely hated her and her entire family, and she wasn't too much into drinking these days. But Apollo had made a game of explaining each person to her, and she found herself pleasantly at ease to listen to the familiar rumble of his steady voice.

It was all fun and games until the Averys got involved.

She found her throat going dry at the sight of Mesut Avery, a sudden and horrible reminder of her own failures now coming to the forefront of her mind. Apollo was enjoying giving her an inside scoop that she had witnessed firsthand in the hospital wing and beyond, and she wasn't sure how she could explain to him that she already knew all about the Avery's - if she should even tell him. She didn't like to keep things from Apollo, but something about the vulnerability those siblings had witnessed in her kept her from being eager to explain the connection.

Her eyes found Katherine almost as soon as Apollo pointed her out and she felt a strange sensation of dread and yearning all at the same time. She had tried to visit her friend when she heard about her hellish time at Ilvermorny, but had never managed to catch her at the right time it seemed. She had considered sending an owl, but letter after letter had been crumpled and abandoned when she had failed to secure the right words.

Tonight probably wasn't the night to do it. But if she did cross Mesut or Katherine's paths, she could not lie.

Lily hadn't spoken and she belatedly glanced towards Apollo, who knew her well enough that he was surely aware of something wrong now. She rolled her lips and said, "Actually, I used to know Katherine and Mesut rather well - well for me, anyway. But, it's- I... I'm not sure where I left off with either of them. I don't know that I'll find much entertainment out of either of them."

Ace was watching Lily intently, and could see the transformation of the elder's face. She shook her head, wanting to double down on reminding Christian how right she always was. Lily was not going to leave this unscathed without significant help. The two would have done better to have skipped the ball entirely and faced Mrs Zabini's wrath without also running the risk of opening up their private lives to the entire world. She was surrounded by idiots, and Christian would not even let her go put out the fires.

In fact, Christian might have just started a fire of his own.

"I'm thinking too much? We're facing impossible odds without a plan, and I'm thinking too much?" His exasperation was all too evident, however, and she couldn't help but feel a real sense of hurt and frustration burble in her chest. Wasn't she hear as a favor to him? He had been the one to insist they help, the one that claimed her assistance was absolutely necessary. And he had sworn she wouldn't need to do anything out of the ordinary, bar the dress and snippy comments to strangers. So why suddenly was it her fault that she wanted to follow through with their plans? She was just trying to help, but he wasn't letting her.

Had she been a place where she had the home advantage, she would have started berating him. But she was out of her element, and that odd sensation of hurt had thrown her off her game. So she snapped her jaw shut, closing off the argument he was probably expecting, and flicked her eyes.

"Then go dance."

Speaking of dancing...

Caleb was currently in the midst of his favorite sort of dancing, and with the most surprising, yet somehow exceedingly accomplished, of partners. He had only hoped for a verbal tango, but now locked in step with Katherine Avery, he could not help but wonder how it had become so that he had given her the lead. She was not letting up, either, not allowing him access to take back the control. It seemed she had learned her lesson in Romanyk's dingy pub and was punishing him for having taught her the hard way. A talented partner, indeed.

But... Caleb had a few moves of his own.

Because he could commit to a lie, he paused to top off his half full champagne flute and concentrated on the rising bubbles as he said, "Let me indulge you for a second and try to think like you. Right. Now that I don't care what your brothers think, not really," he turned, this look perhaps the most pointed and honest of all he had given her, "I'm left with just curiosity. Not for Mesut. Not for Luke. But because well behaved sisters don't meet Romanyks overnight."

If she thought that was all he had planned, she was sorely mistaken.

The smile was back, as though he had not just accused her of indifference towards her family, and he offered his arm again. "I'm sure they're missing us both. Shall we?"

Kenna had been briefly introduced to the Zabinis by Remy, but their disinterest in her had become incredibly apparent as they focused in on asking after Remy and his family, and she felt no need to feign interest in people who would surely forget her the moment she walked away. Her eyes wandered the hall, noting the attention to detail and unable to consider - the money spent on decorations alone could have operated her pub for at least a month. How many meals could have been prepared for the homeless, how many students sponsored who could not afford the textbooks. She did not begrudge the rich for not being more generous than their less wealthy neighbors, but she did find the magic wearing off considering the excess and the cold nature of the welcome.

The music had picked up and she turned to find the musicians, face warming in anticipation. She loved a dance. She probably didn't know all the fancy dances required for a ball, but she did like the sport in engaging in what felt like a foolish activity with strangers for a night. And beyond that, music itself was a nice alternative to Daphne Zabini's critical voice.

Her own name rose above the music, and with it rose surprise as she turned. The moment she spotted the origin of the voice, the confusion melted into recognition. "Keiran!" she replied, "What a pleasant surprise!" Her expression could have been the dictionary example of a pleasant surprise, lips turned upward and eyebrows raised, hands finding her hips. Pretty dress or no, Kenna couldn't stop being Kenna.

Remy was fine without her, so she stepped away, drawing nearer to this acquaintance who, surly as he might have been on their first meeting, was certainly better company than their rigid hosts. "It's nice to see another familiar face! I'm definitely on the outside here - not one of the cooool kids," her voice was light, a natural tease underlining the self deprecation. "But how are you? How's being in charge of educating England's youth?" Her eyes sparkled, the side of her mouth lifting in a lopsided smirk.
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Heather Ellison on Sun Dec 18, 2016 7:11 am

"Yeah, Ace. You are. We can't do anything right now, anyway, so why should we-?" Christian halted when she spoke again, frowning deeply. "Oh really." It wasn't a question. It was a rebuke, an apology and a declaration of betrayal all in one.

Lucas had started to catch on, much to - he imagined - Camilla's disliking. Mesut, on the other hand, hadn't cared either way about the fact that the Flints were lying. He'd basically asked for this, hadn't he? Still, every time he looked up, Caleb looked amused and Katherine looked... Elegant. Which isn't a word he would have been opposed to using until it applied to Kit. She had always been pretty, that much he knew was objectively true. But this was a different person entirely, and she moved so smoothly that he couldn't believe his sister was really in there anymore. What in the hell had happened at Ilvermorny? Luke hadn't been particularly forthcoming except to say that by some miracle or other, she'd been saved.

Luke, strangely, had not changed at all, where Katherine was obviously much changed. Luke had always been a bit of a cold-hearted bastard, though, in the eyes of his brother. So even if something darker was happening - which, in fact, it was - Mesut would have been none the wiser. Perhaps someone should have told the Sorting Hat to reject him despite his wishes and his ability to be as blunt as he wanted without feeling guilty until much later. He wasn't cunning or even particularly witty. But he could cut deep without meaning to, and when infuriated, his wand arm wouldn't hesitate.

He was foolish enough, however, not to see through Katherine's act.

She was willing to play his game for a little while. Or at least let him think they were playing his game instead of hers. Poor, naive lad. He would see, soon enough. With that in mind, she told herself to stay cool and nonchalant. But it didn't work when he spoke what he couldn't have known was the truth. Kathrine respected Lucas more than she would ever have been able to before, but she felt Mesut was weak. Good-hearted and everything else, really, but neither would ever be quite up to her level. Luke was petty. Mes short-tempered.

But Katherine? Something had turned over inside of her that day. Something had said that, because no one could see past what she used to be, they would never understand what she had become. And for that, unfortunately, she wanted revenge. What did she care if something went wrong as long as she got her way? What did she care if people feared her? They had always feared her, but they hadn't actually known why. Fear of a contagious illness they couldn't name. Fear of death. It didn't matter. Power was within her grasp now, and she refused to let it slither away into the darkness again.

So when he accused her of something that was technically true, she didn't want to admit it. He shouldn't have been able to read her like that. Kit wasn't sure, though, if he knew that he was right. Perhaps he was bluffing to get a rise out of her. It didn't matter. Her eyes narrowed, just a fraction and for just a moment, before she turned her chin to the left. Her gaze drifted upwards to the floating baubles and candles, as though he were telling her about the room and she had decided to take it in. But she looked back when he tried to play it off like she had done.

"Hmm," she mused, her eyes blinking closed for a touch too long before they opened and disapproval shined through for anyone who dared to look. It hardly mattered when no one was likely to pay her attention tonight. Not with the Zabini spectacle that was preparing to rage on at a missed hand-shake or spoken cue. No, she knew that if she really wanted to achieve her goal with Flint that night, she had to make it tougher for him.

"That's quite true, Mr. Flint. You're right. I suppose they don't." Her eyes flicked from person to person almost lazily as she spoke, looking for a viable target. Aha. "I must say, though, that you'll simply have to return without me. I'm sorry to inform you that being rejected by an eligible lady from a particularly wealthy family won't look very good on your dance card. But, alas," she lifted a hand in a half-shrug, rather than reaching towards him. "This is your doing after all."

And so she reached down with that free hand and drew up a piece of her full, floor-length skirt, and made her way directly through the crowd of dancers, inevitably drawing eyes to the man she had left behind with his arm stuck out like a poor fool.

And then, in front of her, was the younger Zabini. And his date or not-date or whatever she was looked furious already. By all accounts, Katherine's interference wouldn't do that much harm, then. So she offered a needless curtsy - though a small one, as her pride couldn't really take much more - before thanking him for being amongst the hosts for their party.

Christian, shocked and uncertain for a moment, merely nodded his head in some mock attempt at a bow. The girl was really going all-out wasn't she? Bizarre. Katherine hardly ever spoke to anyone, let alone this blatantly and when dressed like.. that. Weird.

But Ace's words rang through his mind over and over. Fine, then.

"We're thrilled you and your brothers could make it. I don't wish to seem forward," he went on, relying on the way his father spoke at events like these to push him along, "but as you're here - and looking lovely, of course - would you be interested in taking the next dance with me? I believe it'll be a waltz."

Katherine couldn't believe her luck. Poor git had no idea she was just using him. But one look at the girl next to him and Kit got the feeling that she was meant to be 'being used' as well. Whatever. She didn't care. But her smile and nod said otherwise. And as the music faded and - yes, a waltz indeed - the next came up, they were off, leaving Ace behind.

Apollo, while curious about Lily's attempted correction of his game, was mainly concerned. There was something hollow behind her eyes that he wasn't sure if she knew about, even as she watched them and spoke of them.

"I- I'm sorry to hear that. I doubt it would actually help but if you want me to talk to them..." he trailed off with a shrug. He hated the idea of leaving her alone, really, but if it somehow helped, he figured he could be there and back before anything stupid happened. Who would be mad enough to do something here, when it was obvious who she had arrived with? "I can at least ask how they are, if you feel you can't speak to them yourself yet."

And while Keiran was glad to see that Kenna recognized him, and that it was in fact her, he wasn't as upbeat as her despite the time that had passed.

"To be fair," he returned casually, hands finding his pockets as they always did to stop the fidgeting, "Hogwarts is located in Scotland. So, I'd say it's been rather grand, lass."

Okay, so he wasn't particularly funny. But it helped that he couldn't keep back the smile when he tried on the accent for the last sentence and actually didn't fully murder it. That's what he got for being around the school and around Hogsmeade for so long, perhaps. "But in all seriousness, it's been better than I even expected, particularly after everything this summer. I wanted to apologize for being less than friendly when we met. I think it was clear that things weren't lining up for me, then, the way I'd hoped."
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Caleb Flint on Sun Dec 18, 2016 7:11 pm

There was a shift in their dynamic and, though he could not be certain why his words had caused the effect, he could see that his insinuation had unsettled the younger Avery. It was only then that he found his conscience, conditioned into silence as it was, worming its way through the cracks of the plans his mind had begun to construct. This was Katherine Avery, and she obviously had become unstable since all of the hardships faced at Ilvermorny. As entertained as he might have been, was he egging her further into the abyss? Was he exhausting an already sick girl? And there was the fact that Mesut had only involved him for his help, not so Caleb could enjoy playing cat and mouse.

She had shut him out. The game had become too personal, and he had forgotten to play the long con. He had not quite shown his cards, but he had denied himself the shield of indifference by keeping Mesut Avery as his excuse. Katherine's denial was a denial of him, the Flint heir, and despite his lack of desire for her, it was still a slight and she knew it. She swept away and if he wasn't so practiced in keeping his emotions under control, he might have looked agitated. But he was getting a glass of champagne for his sister, and no one there had ever seen either Flint off their game - why would they suspect as much now?

Caleb reached his group again. Camila, displeased with her brother's choice of diversion, had moved conversation onto the brothers' affairs - she, better than her brother, knew misdirection was much less abrasive when it took the form of sincere conversation. She thanked Caleb as he handed her the drink and she alone could see the darkness flickering behind his eyes.

She took a drink from the glass and set it on a tray floating by. Caleb still seemed to have work to be done and she suspected distracting one of the brothers might help her own. "What do you say, boys? Fancy a dance? Luke? Mesut?"

Lily, meanwhile, lost Katherine as the blonde stepped into the crowd and found herself no longer able to watch the Averys without distress becoming  too evident on her face. She turned to Apollo to find that her distress had become contagious and she reached out to rub his upper arm, smoothing her expression over. "No. I just want to spend the night not worried. Do whatever you would do normally. I can talk to them, I can stay away, it doesn't matter. I'm here for you."

That's when she decided on her diversion. "Why don't we dance?"

Kenna was laughing to hear her own accent on the tongue of the Headmaster. She could tell he was not accustomed to trying to find the lighter side of things, but the attempt was fine enough. Before she could congratulate him on his success, he was apologizing and she tilted her head - what reason did he have to apologize to her? "Oh, don't say a word about it. You didn't bother me, didn't do anything to offend so what are you even apologizing for?" A knowing smile accompanied the words, "People are always apologizing for being people these days, you know? It's like, I know people have their bad days, you don't have to apologize like you're not supposed to have them." She glanced around her and she suddenly stepped forward, an eyebrow quirked as her voice dropped to a conspiratorial tone. "I feel like everyone here is desperately trying to convince each other that they are actually just very pretty, unemotional cyborgs. Don't get me wrong, I think 'please' and 'thank you' or important and all, but sometimes I hate manners."

Across the hall, a girl who had no manners was close to revealing how little she cared for civility. It took less than a second for Christian's request to cross his lips and she was turning on her heel, no idea where she was going, but angled towards the drink table as though there were something there for her. She kept her gaze focused and had to consciously remind herself not to clench her fists.

Stupid, flipping, rich kids.
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Keiran Hayes on Mon Dec 19, 2016 2:13 am

"I was thinking about grabbing a bite, actually. Luke, surely you won't leave a lady standing there?"

Lucas wanted to frown at his brother but he knew better. Instead, he offered Camilla a dramatically gallant hand, palm up as he bowed. Mes lifted his eyes to the ceiling but said nothing until they had walked away. Then he turned to Caleb. "So you got my letter, I take it. Did she tell you anything?"

Speaking of Kit, she was clever to have chosen Christian. They drew eyes, yes, but the Zabini was also quiet and a good height for her. The waltz was slow enough that he could spin her every now and then as they rotated and crossed the room, elegant as ever. And their feet took them past the others in groups. Mesut and Caleb, who she pretended she didn't see. They came up alongside Luke and Camilla for a moment. And then they spun past Apollo and Lily. Kit nearly tripped when she saw the brunette, but they had to keep rotating as per the rules of a rotary waltz, so she put herself back together.

"What is Potter doing here?" She asked finally, her voice holding no malice despite the last name that purebloods found to easy to spit rather than say.

"She's dating my brother," Christian replied. His face was impassive, and Katherine suspected that he was upset with her for speaking of Lily so formally despite their school years together.

"Is she- Rather, I take it they're doing well?"

"All things considered, yeah."

It was loyalty more than compassion that drove her to seek knowledge about the Gryffindor. It wasn't real feeling, as far as she could tell. Kit was still getting used to that side of things, though in that moment she actually didn't like it.

"What about that girl you were talking to? I didn't interrupt anything did I? You could have sent me away."

Christian looked over his shoulder in search of Ace but they were spinning too much for him to locate her. "No, you didn't really. My friend isn't used to events like this one. I think she might be embarrassed but trying to hide it."

Kit nodded slowly. "I see. I'm sorry if I made things worse," she claimed, "but perhaps I can help? Just give me an excuse to use magic. Any excuse."

"Uh.. Do you know a charm to mend clothing if it rips?"

Keiran smiled wryly as Kenna spoke, unable to resist the movement of his lips. "Well, then. Thank you for being so lovely about it at the time. Is that suitable?" It took him a moment to really find his footing, but once he started to settle in, things became much easier. He had always been good at finding his required role and slipping into it. Just, not right after a divorce.

"I think I might actually owe you for being so helpful," he said, shrugging only slightly. "Would a drink or a dance qualify? Or do I need to figure out how to conjure a milkshake?" Merlin, if Robin could see him now. It was much more like something his best mate would've said, had he been there. And knowing Ivanov, he would have been. In that case, Keiran would have had Avery there to help be a buffer. But now, at least there was Kenna. And he very much doubted she would take more from his words than were really there: a bit of attempted comic relief, even if he wasn't very good at it. Still, he offered a hand just in case.

And just as Apollo agreed to lead Lily in what was, almost ironically, their first dance together, Christian swung by with the Avery girl. What would Daphne think? At least one of her sons was interested, Apollo guessed. It wasn't true, but she would be happy to think it.

That is, until Christian let out a shout of surprise and Apollo released Lily entirely to step sideways to try and locate his brother. Katherine was in a heap on the floor as Christian held her up, staring first at her and then around the room in complete shock. Then Kit's lips moved and some sort of understanding crossed Christian's face before the worry came back. Although Apollo had caught it, he doubted anyone else would - even their parents. Maybe Lily, if she could see him.

So Apollo strode across the floor, standing over them and extending a hand to her. She took it but couldn't quite pick herself up. "What happened?" He questioned as he knelt down to wrap an arm around her back and help her up.

"Her skirt tore while we were dancing. She fixed it and then just... collapsed," Christian said with a baffled shake of his head.

Kit was watching Apollo, and could practically feel the disbelief coursing through him. "Just go with it. I'm helping Christian make up with his friend. You'll see." Then, a bit louder she added, "Can I go outside for a bit? I know it's cold but--"

"She just needs air," Apollo called to the room in general, as if that would explain everything. He wouldn't ruin whatever this was. "Christian, get her some water, would you? Someone help me get her outside."

"I have something better. I'll meet you out there." So Christian, quite gratefully, jumped up and headed straight towards Ace once his eyes found her. He reached her side just as she made it to the drinks, cutting in the way of her path. "Ace. Alice. This is stupid. I can tell you're mad. Don't be. Just... Come with me for a second, alright?"

So as Apollo tried to discern what was going on with Lily, Christian was offering Ace a hand as well, hoping she would take their opportunity to escape for what it was. They could be nearby without actually having to deal with the party, if that was what she wanted. He found that actually, he wouldn't mind one bit.

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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Kenna McBain on Mon Dec 19, 2016 4:31 am

Camila would have been more irritated by the pompous display had it not made up so much of her life. So it was with a graceful thank you that she took Luke's hand and stepped onto the dance floor. As they twirled their way into the main throng of dancers, she spotted Ben passing her a lopsided smirk, before strolling off to strike up conversation with a gaggle of middle aged women. Her eyes drifted away and back to Caleb, who was leaning towards Mesut, probably divulging some secret he had yet to tell her. Yes, Caleb certainly owed her one.

Caleb lifted the champagne to his lips, and perhaps in a bit of a show to his friend of just how hard he was working to solve the case, he drained the rest of the liquid, before swapping his empty glass for Camila's barely touched one. "I'm not sure, mate, she's been a bit cryptic. Is she feeling well? Perhaps this all has something to do with her illness?"

The context on her health could rule out some of the possibilities, help him figure out just what was going on. He tilted his head to draw them to one of the places in the room obscured by decoration. Some privacy could help.

Not far from these two was Ace Longbottom, skulking next to the table with the appetisers, seeing as she did not drink and was certainly not going to start now, not in this elevated state of agitation. That was a recipe for disaster and if Ace Longbottom knew anything, she knew how to spot a potential disaster. Hint: they were everywhere.

Lily Potter stepped into the dance easily, despite her inexperience in so formal a tradition. She knew she could stay in step, and her job was to follow anyway. Perhaps it was the coordination of a Quidditch playing family that allowed her to quickly catch on and fall into an easy state.

Which, of course, was compromised the second she spotted Katherine. The two met gazes for a moment, but then Lily was being turned away, leaving the blonde only with the briefest looks of surprise and worry. A moment later put her in view of the youngest Avery's dance partner.

"Oh dear."

Kenna's eyes rolled in a good-natured way. "I suppose that's suitable." The entire affair felt so beyond her pay grade and, in all honesty, the rigidity of polite and censored company was something she really didn't aspire for. But there was something self aware in Keiran's manner that told her this was a group he belonged from position alone, rather than temperament. Even he seemed a bit out of sorts among all these sparkling robots.

Her face brightened when he referred to her particular cure for his sadness, and she felt her eyes squint and her lips roll into a grin, pleased with him for the reference, and pleased with herself to see the odd suggestion still brought some joy. She glanced towards Remy and stepped forward briefly to excuse herself before taking Keiran's hand. "You don't suppose they have something stronger than champagne, do you? Or, Merlin forbid, a beer?"

Ace was watching the Zabini matriarch and patriarch. Had she been more self aware of her body language, she probably would have loosened her crossed arms and dropped the squinting scowl, but she wasn't aware enough to recognize how critical she looked. This was their fault, after all. Mr Zabini for not liking Christian more. Mrs Zabini for not being more chill. Also her fault for somehow liking Ace, but not liking Lily? At least Lily made one of the sons happy. Ace just caused problems for Christian, apparently.

A shout jerked her from this negative spiral and she turned, reaching for her wand despite the cold fact that she could not (though what she 'could' do was sort of a relative question) use magic. She knew it. Something had gone wrong, of course, again. She took a few steps forward to see what might be done when she spotted the source of the commotion.

Of course.

She wasn't sure, but she thought Christian had glanced towards her, so she turned on her heel and walked towards the drink table, deciding she needed a glass of water.

He crossed her path and she dodged around him to grab a glass of water, not making eye contact as she said, "Oh, no, I'm not mad. I'm just staying out of your way until you need me again." A bit on the nose? She turned her gaze back on him, face frosty. She didn't want to help the situation, but that was also the only reason she had ever been invited. She tightened her grip on the glass and jutted her chin. "Well... lead the way?"

Yeah, she wasn't going to take his hand again. She was done being dragged this way and that. She would follow, sure, but she would follow on her own terms.

Lily had stood uncertainty by as the boys handled the situation, but now that Apollo was tasked with helping Katherine outside, she found a solution. She swept over to the blonde's other side and took her arm, offering a smile. "Alright, Kit?"
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Keiran Hayes on Mon Dec 19, 2016 6:05 am

"As far as I've been told she's... fine, now. Don't ask me what's changed, but apparently things are grand. That's why she moved out, you know. Didn't want to finish school, didn't need my help anymore." He shrugged as though he didn't care, but his tone and expression made it quite clear that, really, that just wasn't true. "I mean, she seems like she feels better, no?"

It was a terrible time to ask the question, in hindsight. Because then there was a commotion and he stepped forward to help, only to be stopped abruptly by Luke's hand. "Don't. She wouldn't want us to."

He wasn't wrong. She certainly didn't want to rely on her brothers anymore, and she wasn't actually feeling poorly at all. Well, until Lily arrived, anyway. Katherine wanted to trust her friend with the truth, but she also didn't want Lily involved in what was to come. That was half of her shock at seeing the other girl there. She didn't want Lily to get hurt. At least she had graduated and would no longer get in trouble for defending herself.

Later, when Daphne asked Mesut where his sister had gone, and he told her that Apollo had taken her outside for air, it would play right into Christian and Ace's hands. But of course, the question remained - would they be around, still, to see it? Perhaps not with the night going as it was.

Christian didn't chide her for her refusal. Not technically. Instead, he turned and muttered "stubborn" to himself as he did, in fact, lead the way. But almost as soon as they reached the hallway, he heard footsteps behind them and assumed, stupidly, that it was his mother or father coming to ask why he was disappearing with this girl they didn't know rather than staying to help host. It wouldn't be seen as appropriate, to say the least. So he ignored Ace's apparent distaste for contact, and pulled her into a side corridor and around the corner.

"Look," he muttered as he looked around to see who had been behind them. He didn't see anybody yet, so he looked back at Ace, shocked himself by how close he had stepped to find her in the shadows there. Time to recover and make things right again. "These parties are always rubbish. If you want to leave, we can just sneak out through the floo. I'll have to come back, or my father might hunt me down. It's... it's practically my job since Apollo always refuses. Either I make conversation and dance with people, or the night ends very badly. Those are the only two outcomes. So can you do this with me? Or do you want to leave? I'll do whatever you want, Alice."

There wasn't really any fight left in him at all. He didn't even notice when Apollo, Lily and Katherine walked up the stairs and out into the freezing night. Kit's feigned bout of dizziness had given them an out, but Apollo was staring at her with questions burning in his eyes. So she pulled herself back up to her normal height, shaking off the feeling of being so helpless.

"I'm sorry," she told Lily first, "for worrying you, if I did. I'm fine. I was making a diversion for Christian, but also I needed a bit of an escape myself." She shrugged, pulling her wand out of the folds of her dress where she'd hidden a pocket for it and casting a warming charm about herself. She tilted the wand to either side, silently asking if they wanted one as well. "If you want to go inside you can. I'd just forgotten how... stuffy these things can be."

She wanted to say more. But Apollo was there. And, really, she didn't have a lot of time before she had to leave. Regardless of how strongly she wanted to avoid seeming like the rude one, she wouldn't have much time to explain once it clicked over to the next hour. And then it would be much too obvious for Lily, after the attack happened. Merlin, Katherine just wanted Lily to leave the party altogether.

"Perhaps this is the escape you two needed, as well."

Keiran was glad to see that a smile had found Kenna's lips, even if it seemed that she was objecting to the dancing proposition. A drink would be well enough, he supposed. Her hand was tucked into his elbow in an almost sarcastic show of trying to fit the norm of the people around them. They hadn't made it more than a few steps towards the refreshments before the panic engulfed a portion of the room. His free hand found and covered hers instinctively, halting in his spot.

"Hmm," he began to himself as they showed the Avery girl out. "I'd been wondering what happened to Katherine. She's been sick for years. Awful, that. But if anything, at least she's getting help." So he cleared his throat, looking down at Kenna again. "I daresay the party will go on regardless." And, indeed, the music was slowly filling the room again, albeit in a rather uncertain sort of way. He didn't recognize the tune, which wasn't surprising, but he did find that his feet moved in time without his asking them to once he stepped off again.

"As for the beer you wanted, I'm not sure. Unless one of these families brews their own, they probably feel that they're a bit too fancy for such things. In my admittedly limited experience, prissy folks can't be fussed to taste such things. On the other hand, it would be nice to see what happened if someone replaced the drinks. I'd love to see the hostess's face," Keiran confessed with a smirk as he watched their feet. His chin lifted as they reached the table where Christian and Ace had sort-of-argued a few moments before. "Ah. Just the fancy stuff, it seems. If you end up at another of these, do let me know, though. Perhaps we can test the theory," he suggested, smiling conspiratorially.

Still, he plucked two glasses from the table and handed her one after letting go of her arm. In a move he thought - though he couldn't confirm - would be fairly out of place for this party though not for a bar, he lifted his glass to hers, clinking them together before he took a drink, turning his shoulders towards the dance floor so he could watch the suits and dresses pass by.

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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Lily Luna Potter on Tue Dec 20, 2016 12:06 am

"Diversion?" Lily repeated, glancing curiously towards Apollo. How ironic it was that Ace and Christian's mission to defend Lily and Apollo had somehow been twisted by the events of the night, had become more about keeping the friendship between the Hufflepuffs alive. That was thing about a ball like this. With everyone determined to look their best and make good impressions, the stakes seemed to climb so high. It seemed the night had to unfold all problems and see them resolved or it was a failure.

No one knew just how many problems the night would bring, and few were to ever be resolved.

"No, no, I'm sorry," Lily said, finally catching up with the here and now, looking at her friend and marvelling at how much had changed. Perhaps the question still reverberated in the minds of those who did not know her so well, but it only took this close up look at Kit for Lily to be convinced that somehow the Avery girl had overcome her sickness. Lily had become well acquainted with the symptoms of Kit's disease, even if she had never known the exact ins and outs, and she could find none of them in the pale woman's countenance.

Something more than a recovery had taken place though. The gentility, the quiet warmth had been swapped out for something elegant and sharp.

She should have tried harder to contact her.

Kit's words implicated her desire to be alone, and Lily did not want to trespass further. She glanced towards Apollo and said, "Maybe we should check on them?"

She glanced towards Kit as they made their way back inside. "Um... Coffee sometime?"

Ace had assumed she was following Christian so they could go help his dancing partner recover or whatever, but he did not lead her outside, instead down a hallway. And suddenly, she was being whipped around and her personal space bubble was all but popped. She drew back, feeling the hard wall against her back. No escape.

Did he not understand?

She blinked. "Christian, I'm here because you asked me to help. Sorry, I just... I guess I misunderstood the plan. Moral support isn't my forte. Or whatever."

Two people who had found an escape that did not need to leave the main hub of activity now moved across the floor, and Kenna watched with curiosity as the collapsed girl was escorted out of the room.  Kenna was torn between the amusement of her company and the concern for the situation. However, she was one of those lucky people who could accept that some things were out of her control, so she only offered a soft, thoughtful "huh" before bringing her attention back to the present.

"I figured as much," she grumbled, though her lips were still twisted into a grin. Naturally there wouldn't be a drink as approachable as beer. She reminded herself that she was fortunate to have been invited at all, and allowed the disappointment and slight distaste for the apparent sense of superiority to roll off of her back. She took the glass from Keiran and took a drink. At least it was quality champagne, she would give the purebloods that. With a sigh and a fake flick of her eyes, she said, "I suppose this will do." The clink was sweet, a quick display that they were on the same side.

She squinted at him suddenly. She cleared her throat and then in a teasing voice said, "As far as I can tell, not many outsiders get an invitation here. So, you must be apart of the elite 'Them.'"
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Christian Zabini on Fri Dec 23, 2016 5:02 am

Keiran had focused in on some dark-haired couple or other as they twirled past, but Kenna's question made him lift his chin slightly, swallowing once before he looked down at her again. "Well," he said, "you may not believe this, but I've never been to one of these before. The majority of my family didn't know I existed until about two years ago. So, I'm about as them as Theodore Rookwood is a Hufflepuff."

The thought made him smirk, recognizing the slight flaw in his logic - Theo could certainly be a softie around certain people. Keiran and his mother included. But he supposed that the comparison still worked, even with that taken into account.

"Why?" He added suddenly, his gaze zeroing in on Kenna. One eyebrow rose sarcastically. "Does that cheapen our relationship?"

Katherine, not nearly as amused, was mainly just relieved. "I'd really like that," she told Lily, hoping beyond hope that nothing would happen to her tonight. But if she warned one of them, everybody would be gone long before anything happened. And if that were the case, Kit would be more than in trouble - she would be a failure. And nothing would go right from then on out.

So as Apollo led Lily inside, Katherine waited, waited, and then disappeared.

"I get that," Christian was telling Ace. "I do. I've noticed, to be fair. But if you're going to be weird about this, then why are we even bothering? You don't want to dance, you aren't interested in the food, the drinks, nothing. Why didn't you just say no, Alice?"

"Christian?"

The younger brother closed his eyes for a touch too long, exasperation evident if Ace was checking, but then he turned around and tried to hide it from the other two. "What? Where's Kit?"

"Outside, I think," Apollo said with a shrug. "What are you two doing, anyway?"
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Lily Luna Potter on Tue Dec 27, 2016 10:23 pm

Kenna was surprised to find that Keiran was closer to her circumstances than to those of the people around her, which was definitely one of those pleasant surprises. Kenna was pretty comfortable to adapting to circumstances, and she doubted she had attracted any sort of attention deeper than haughty indifference. But events like this always made her feel empty, made her long for some sort of sincere connection. She turned to look out across the ornate room and spotted Remy, who was inching away from the hosts but incapable of breaking off the conversation. She smirked over her glass as she took another drink.

"Not at all," she said. "It's a bit reassuring, actually. I won't have to mind my p's and q's so much." She took another drink. "Hang on. So, sorry if this is an intrusion, but you only just connected with your family? That must have been a total mind flip."

Lily left Kit with a deep hope that the invitation would actually bear fruit, that she would stay brave and would follow up, that Kit would humor her and show up. She supposed it was too much to worry about tonight. She already had all of the Zabinis to fret about, why add the Avery's if she could at least put that off.

They managed to skirt to main room and rounded a corridor. Apollo seemed to have a sense for where the pair had disappeared to, and she soon heard hushed voices. She reached out and gripped Apollo's forearm.

Ace was already feeling cornered as it was. Why was Christian doing this? He had told her he needed his help with Lily and Apollo, and that all she had to do was show up? She had even put on the bloody dress and now - what was this? He had never said she had to act a certain way, but he was sure acting disappointed with her performance.

This was so stupid.

And now there were more people there to witness the idiocy of the situation. She glanced between the brothers and found her eyes flitting towards Lily, who's eyes were narrowed just a bit too much for comfort.

Christian wanted acting... She could act.

"It was just a bit loud in there," Ace said. "Actually, we were wondering how you two were, considering, y'know, your parents and all."

When in doubt, back to the mission.
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