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Tinsel and Traitors

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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Keiran Hayes on Sun Jan 01, 2017 12:48 pm

"And here I thought I had to be worried about my t's."

Keiran passed her a sidelong look full of amusement, but continued. "In truth, the accents do give you away. Who ever heard of a Pureblood speaking like they were from 'Mahnchestuh', eh? Then again, I'm Irish, and not the right side of the island, either. So what do I know, really?"

Her question wasn't unfounded, and certainly one that he expected after his phrasing and his willingness to put it out there as he did. So it was only fair to answer reasonably. Still, his fingers lifted, brushing from his eyebrow to his temple in a sort of nervous tick he didn't know he had. "But, yes. My mother was quite something, actually. Skipped out on the Pureblood thing. So, actually," he confided dramatically, leaning down a little and dropping his voice, "we're a family of blood traitors."

He straightened up again, smiling a bit more widely than usual. "Oh well. If these things continue to be as dull as this one is, at least my kids won't be saddled with a requirement to show up. If I can't bear it, Merlin knows I won't tell them to."

And Christian? Oh, goodness. That boy didn't know what was going on within his own head. And Apollo wasn't much help.

The elder curled his fingers over Lily's, looking bizarrely like the picture of a pureblooded couple attending one of these monstrosities. While Christian was cut off before he could even begin, thanks to Ace's pretending. Apollo couldn't tell one way or the other, to be sure, but Christian had no choice but to notice. She was doing it for him, after all, despite his inconsistency and internal dilemma.

What, exactly, did he want?

An answer came to mind, but he refused to acknowledge it: He wanted to be what his brother couldn't, wouldn't be. He wasn't suited for it, but he wanted it anyway. And he knew his mother would be thoroughly pleased if she heard as much. Still, Christian didn't have to say anything because Apollo was already rolling his eyes.

"Yeah, much it matters, really. They're going to be furious no matter what."

"Well," Christian said finally, "they might not have to be. Ace had an idea. But it'll take some acting on your part."

And Katherine? In she walked, one hand touching at her hair as a slight distraction for the other, which was trying to hid her wand between the folds of her skirt. She'd had it on her before, but now it was gripped tightly as she strode past the hallway the twins and their dates or not-dates were talking down, and back into the main hall.

Mesut didn't notice the wand, even as she walked and the fabric flapped with the movement, and Lucas didn't either, surprisingly. They were both looking. But she walked along to a side wall, leaning herself back against it as though she were simply out of breath after everything.

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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Kenna McBain on Mon Jan 02, 2017 5:36 pm

Lily noted the way the conversation subtly shifted onto the problems she and Apollo were facing, and if that looming shadow of disapproval wasn't so heavy, she might have resisted the attempts to drop whatever was going on. However, Ace asked for very little, didn't seem to desire much out of how she was treated. Lily had seen Ace mocked and bullied for years and years, and the few accomplishments she had achieved (such as her intuition about the Ilvermorny business) had never been accredited to her. It seemed cruel to force her into the spotlight she had never pined for, had always allowed others to enjoy.

Besides, part of her still knew the issue of Apollo's parents was still a problem. She could honestly say she did not care for their approval. She knew their disapproval wasn't personal, and she had long abandoned a sense of obligation towards family. However, she remembered enough of her childhood to know how strong those ties were. Apollo was determined now, was certain that the sacrifices and the potential estrangement would be worth it. She wasn't there to tell him one way or the other. But part of her suspected that all of that would wear down on him, would start to do his head in. She didn't want to encourage him to blindly accept the circumstances.

And Ace had an alternative.

She glanced towards Apollo with an encouraging quirk of her eyebrow, hoping he would hear Ace out. Ace was coming back to herself, now that she was back in familiar territory. She felt her hip pop as she rested her hands on them, glancing between the dark haired couple. "Right. Not a permanent solution. But if you guys were to have some sort of fight that led to a break up tonight... At least your parents and anyone else will get off your backs."

Well, guess who that sounded great to? The teacher who had just been caught by her headmaster.

Outside, Caleb had excused himself from the Avery's to check in on Camila and then found himself a dancing partner in one of the Krum cousins. Briefly, he thought he saw Katherine walking by, but if it was her, she was gone before he could catch her eye. Whatever. He had to regroup before he continued with that situation anyway. If he decided to continue.

Kenna smirked at his words. "I run a pub. The fact that I haven't started cursing and gone full Scottish yet shows just how mind-boggled I am to be surrounded by so much 'elegance'." The last word was accompanied with an ironic, snooty flick on her her eyes. "Blood traitors," she repeated, her voice dropping and becoming more Scottish, coincidentally enough, that she had dropped into her lower register. "I feel much more at home then."

She took a drink of her drink and quirked her lips. "Your mum seems a gem. I have a tenacious matriarch in my family too. They're what makes this world make a little sense."

She turned to him with curiosity. "Childre-"

"Oi!"

Remy popped between the two of them and quickly retrieved a drink for himself. "Mon dieu, that woman can talk. No one ever talks to me at these things, though, not really. I'm just a surrogate for my mother." He rolled his eyes and emptied his glass.

Kenna laughed and said "Then you need to start dragging her along. Or stop playing messenger."

He let out a heavy sigh. "I can't do that."

"Yeah, 'cause you like the attention," she murmured, glancing conspiratorially towards Keiran. It was then she realized- "Right! Introductions. Keiran, this is my good friend Remy Dumay. He's talking about his mum, the Headmistress over at Beauxbatons. Remy, this is Keiran Hayes. He's-"

"Headmaster over at Hogwarts," Remy finished. "Yes. And you had a comfy position over at the Ministry awhile back. Got out of politics for education. Smart man. Very smart."
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Apollo Zabini on Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:12 pm

Apollo's derision was caught by Christian, long before it even materialized properly on his face. "Calm down," the Hufflepuff chided. "Not for real. Don't be ridiculous."

Pretending that he had never worried at all, Apollo frowned at his brother and took on a relaxed stance. "Look, why don't you two go in and, .. I don't know, eat or drink or whatever. Look casual. We'll come up with something."

Christian, unconvinced though he seemed, glanced at Ace, and waited for her to lead the way. Once they'd gone off, Apollo leaned back to watch them walk back in as he turned to Lily.

"Look, if this isn't ugly and messy, my mother won't go for it. And she may have seemed a little intimidating, but that's nothing compared to my father. He knows, now, that I'm not interested in keeping up with the family tradition," he pointed out, frowning even more deeply. His hands reached out, one to her side and the other up to his hair. Once his fingers carded through and his arm fell back to his side, he shook his head and went on.

"Anyway, the worse it looks, the better for us. At least until you're not at Hogwarts, or I'm not."

And suddenly, a heavy weight settled on his shoulders: Guilt. He'd trailed off as it came over him, turning his attention to the floor. "Do you really want to do this?" He asked. Then he looked at her again, eyebrows pulled together. "If we do this... that's nearly two years more of just -- lying. And I'm sure we'd be able to do it, but, that seems like a hell of a lot of work for something that's meant to be positive.

"I'll do it if you want to. I guess Ace and Christian figure it'll be helpful since you came to teach to help and everything. No wonder they suggested it. Just.. Are you okay with this?"

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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Lily Luna Potter on Sat Jan 07, 2017 7:19 pm

Ace certainly didn't like being dismissed, but she could see her job was done. She hadn't really considered what would happen once her mission was accomplished? What was the next task? Was she supposed to just... Oh, Merlin... enjoy the ball? How was she supposed to go about that? She was not the sort at all to finish one task and relish in its execution. She was always on to the next thing that needed doing, but what needed doing now?

She glanced towards Christian, her uncertainty flickering behind her eyes, but gone with a decisive nod of her head. Lily offered her a soft thank you, which caused Ace to flick her fingers dismissively as she turned away, leading the way back to the main hall.

That was when her next task came to her. And she couldn't be more thankful for it.

"Well, might as well start the rumor mill, yes?"

Lily turned to Apollo, but he had already jumped into the planning phase. Her eyes widened and she suddenly felt loss. In her mind, it seemed to be a legitimate course of action, a legitimate way to solve the problem of, not only his parents (at least temporarily), but especially that of Keiran, and any other witnesses. Any other witnesses might be dissuaded by rumors or deception, but Keiran would need proof before his eyes, need something more. And if she was kicked out of Hogwarts before Potter's Army even really took off, what would have been the point for all that torturous back and forth between the brothers.

He must have seen the hesitancy because he backpedaled, and fast. She closed her eyes and reached out to catch his hands, smoothing over her expression. She opened her eyes. "We weren't our usual clever selves tonight. Our Headmaster saw us. We're going to have to cover our tracks if I'm still supposed to help Christian and Ace-" It was then that Ace's reason to help became a little less selfless in Lily's eyes "-then it'll need to happen."

She smiled, stepping closer. "I don't mind secrets. This doesn't belong to anyone else. My whole life has been up to scrutiny by everyone else. A few years of savoring something that's only mine sounds as much a blessing as a difficulty."

She paused, glancing down. "But, I've had a lot of public exposure acting out. If we could minimize that, as much as possible, that'd help."

She couldn't be crazy Lily Potter again. It was going to be a special dance to get this right.
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Keiran Hayes on Thu Jan 12, 2017 4:11 pm

Apollo’s hesitation quickly vanished as Lily spoke, confirming what he had expected: They really did have to do this. And the way she phrased it certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, it really was tie for him to admit that, when Lily spoke in that possessive way – particularly about him, it was a shockingly serious turn-on. Of course, that didn’t matter when she changed the topic.

He blinked, gathering himself up and squaring his shoulders. “It’ll be fine,” he told her, his spare hand lifting to run up her arm. His other hand slid from her waist, inching towards the small of her back. “I’ll be the bad guy. Most people in that room expect it of me, anyway, so they won’t ask too many questions.”

So he started to lay down his plan. He’d go in first, visibly furious about – well, nothing, actually. But he could act like he was. And then she would follow, trying to talk to him. “Maybe you think I’m trying to use you to get better marks in Potions. Not that I need the help,” he added rather smugly before continuing on. “Whether it were true or not, I’d be pissed. Either because you figured it out, or because you misjudged me. So that’s not a stretch.”

Lily would be able to look calm, disappointed, etc. She could suggest they leave the room. And they wouldn’t have to be yelling about it. They just had to be within range of Hayes or his parents. Apollo had been absolutely shocked to hear that the headmaster had arrived, since he had been distracted when Keiran walked in. But if they looked angry enough and their voices were just loud enough to catch the attention of those around them, the gossip would do the work for them. He just hoped that Lily would see it the same way. If not, he sincerely hoped she had a better plan, because that was all he could think up.

As for Christian and Ace, they walked back in while Keiran was in the middle of trying to discern whether or not “comfy” was an insult when Remy used it like that. He didn’t want to think so, but it was hard to tell when he didn’t know the other man. But Remy was friends with Kenna, and Kenna was much too nice to let an insult go when the other person didn’t know better. Right? She seemed the type.

So Keiran decided to take it as a compliment.

“Well, as I understand it, Beauxbatons has never had better graduates. I only hope to be able to live up to that sort of competition.”

And that was all he could get out before he heard Christian walking along and arguing with Ace. “It’s not Apollo’s fault. Come on.”

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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Kenna McBain on Thu Jan 12, 2017 4:48 pm

Lily could feel them coming to an understanding, creeping onto the same page and steeling themselves for the rest of the night. She supposed she would probably leave soon after - was she supposed to take Ace with her? She would guess Ace had planned on using her as her way back. But if Ace was so interested in helping her with her relationship, maybe Lily could return the favor.

He began planning and she quirked her lips in thought, flicking her head ever so slightly. "Hayes is clever, and if he wants to break that excuse apart, he'd be able to. Let's stick closer to the situation. I wasn't sure if all of the negative attention was worth it, we had a disagreement, things escalated. The more specific the situation, the more opportunities we would have to come to a compromise. This is just vague enough to end with 'things were said.' Besides-" she smirked, stepping closer to him so they were now flush. "No one would believe you needed help in Potions."

She leaned forward to brush her lips against his, and the smirk flickered away to be replaced by the smallest of frowns, finally conceding that there would be difficulties ahead, some sadness, some loneliness. The few glances and looks they had managed to share with each other would be too risky, and she would have to adopt an even colder disposition towards him to double down on their cover. It would be hard and it would be lonely.

As most things in life were.

She pulled away and reached up to cup his face, running a thumb over his cheek. "I'll follow you."

Outside, Ace was glad to have a task. Christian's voice seemed to raise noticeably as they passed their headmaster, so she leaned towards him and hissed back, "I'm not taking sides here. They don't need us to further escalate their situation-"

Remy's voice almost had the quality of a yawn to it as he said, "Yes, the school is doing well, I suppose-"

Kenna quickly translated, "Remy refuses to take a teaching position. He's a wandmaker. Besides, I'm sure he'd be more likely to destroy a school then help it."

It had needled him exactly as she had guessed it would. "I could triple exit-exam rates!"

"Prove it," came her disinterested reply, an eyebrow quirking as she lifted her glass to her lips. He swelled in mock indignation, though she knew she had poked at his pride, before he realized what her game was. He deflated, waving a hand at her.

"Find another project, Kenna, I have places to be."

"Oh?"

He had just caught the gaze of a pretty woman across the room and his smirk intensified. "Absolutely. Excuse me - nice meeting you Keiran."

He slipped away and Kenna shook her head, turning back towards Keiran. "Sorry about that. I've known Remy for years. I can't help but try to pop holes in his ego sometimes."
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Katherine "Kit" Avery on Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:37 pm

Katherine was standing along the wall, still, but now she appeared calm and relaxed -- even though she was anything but. In fact, she was trying to find Lily. Caleb and her brothers were pushed to the back of her mind without her having to actively make a decision about it. Lily, though, was important. Lily needed to leave. Katherine didn't feel bad about delaying things in this case, but she couldn't wait forever.

Across the room, a decision was made. And the decision was this: Keiran Hayes did not like this Remy bloke. Not at all. And he didn't try as hard as he should have to cover it up.

"Seems like he could use it," he muttered as he lifted his glass to take another drink.

And he had heard Christian as he passed, of course, but missed the part where Christian turned to whisper back to Ace. "Look, I have no idea how to do this. I am not sneaky. That's your job. Or - or Apollo's. If you wanted this done right, you should've just told me what to do. You're the clever one! Merlin's sake."

To the headmaster, it just looked like two students bickering about their friend - or, well, brother in the boy's case. Keiran didn't know what they were on about, but his eyes followed them as they wandered on and Christian aimed towards the table covered in hors d'oeuvres.

And Apollo? He really needed to learn how to think like an adult rather than a boy. He consistently put so much of his energy into forming arguments and ideas based around his emotions. But, as ever, Lily was there to save the day and keep him in line.

He smirked openly until she leaned in to interrupt the cheeky comment he was about to make. "You're right," he said once she leaned back again. "The worst lies have the most detail. But I'm serious. If you have to say something I won't like, just do it. Alright?"

He took up her hand and kissed her palm before nodding. "Whoever leaves first gets a head start, too. Meet me in my room, after?"

He waited for her to confirm before stepping back and releasing her. He was stalling and he knew it. She probably did, too. "Alright. Let's get this over with. If I leave first, wait a few minutes or so before leaving. And remember, nothing we say in there is real." He shook his head, stepping towards her again.

"I love you," he said, kissing her firmly.

As he turned away, he took on a visibly frustrated stance. His tone, though, was pleasant as he tossed over his shoulder, "See you on the other side."

And then the game was on. He strode in, tension lifting almost palpably off of his shoulders. Subtly, he glanced around, trying to place everyone in a mental map of the room. He decided to go the Avery route. Professor Hayes wasn't too far off, now that Luke and Mesut had finished their dance and begun wandering. But those two knew the Flints, and thus, the spiderweb would grow. Two birds with one stone.

Spotting Christian at the next table, he halted by the drinks, trying to act like he couldn't see the way Keiran was watching him.
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Ace Longbottom on Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:58 am

Kenna smiled, noting the edge in Keiran's voice and completely unsurprised and unoffended. "He's how I even got into this mess, so he deserves it," she said. Remy was definitely an acquired taste, a taste Kenna had only acquired on the recommendation of Kipling Parsons as well as his quick taking to her. Kenna also had a remarkable gift for sensing the core of each person, for feeling their need. Remy was rough and rude, and yet he reeked of unfulfilled need to her, a new he did not recognize and certainly could not yet supply for himself. So while he had certainly earned Keiran's irritation, she could not help but make it known that he was a friend.

"I think he has mommy issues, but you didn't hear that from me," she said, her voice light to indicate that, while there might have been some truth, that wasn't really the case. "He's a brilliant wandmaker. Can intuit your own magical strengths and weaknesses and make up for them in the wand." She paused, looking across the crowd before glancing up at Keiran. "It's funny how people with great talents often hide them under their rougher traits."

Ace was enjoying playing the gossip game, but it seemed she had already jarred Christian out of it. Her eyes flickered and spotted Mrs Zabini watching them, as well as a few others who had seen their whispers suddenly turn more ferocious. Ace knew she needed to keep up the illusion that they had something to hide, while also communicate to Christian.

And that's how Ace found herself dancing.

She clumsily grabbed for his hands, hoping he would be quick to correct whatever wasn't working and immediately took a step into the two-step (she thought it was a two-step) song that was playing. She offered a polite glance around the room, a cover to bolster their real cover. Through the corner of her mouth, she said, "No, it's working. People are noticing that you and I are at odds, and it'll only reinforce their fight. I came with Lily, so I must be her friend, and you're his brother. So now you need to shake your head, sigh, and walk away. Then it's their show."

How did she get so good at this?

Lily, meanwhile, was savoring her last free moments with Apollo, in which they could be unashamedly themselves in public. Shame. It was an interesting emotion. Biblically, it had been borne after the first sin, when man and woman finally looked at their nakedness and saw it for what it was. Lily had felt shame, for looking in the mirror and seeing the naked truths that surrounded her: addict, drop out, werewolf. This new naked truth, that of the girl in love, was one she refused to be ashamed of. She would wait for the time when she could enjoy it without the world's expectations that she must be ashamed of it. And in the meantime, she would keep it to herself.

She nodded at his directions, relieved he had no problems taking the lead on this. She clutched his hands tightly, already wishing she were at the point in the night where she was in his room, making their plans for the rest of the school year, enjoying the little glimpse of privacy that would soon be so hard to secure.

He kissed her and she held his arms tightly, breathing him in, memorizing his touch, enjoying the present for what it was. He withdrew and their dark eyes met.

"I love you too."
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Christian Zabini on Fri Jan 13, 2017 7:14 pm

Keiran couldn't tell if Kenna was trying to draw a reaction from him, if she suspected something of him, or if she was trying to make him agree with her opinion of Remy. Either way, he found it impossible to come up with a response. A nod was sufficient for the moment. A tilt of the head, too, to show that he conceded her point. But then the glass was at his lips again, though it wouldn't be for long.

Christian, baffled by Ace's sudden haste and irrational desire to draw him onto the floor, found himself unable to think for a moment. But then he registered what was going on. The Foxtrot, the most horrendously dull of posh dances, was very like a two-step. Except the quick steps were done to the side, and the slow in a line. Backwards, for Ace. He began muttering instructions to her, one hand in hers and the other at the small of her back. It wasn't where the hand was actually meant to go, but it would help him steer her without her feeling more foolish.

Right, left, side step. Right, left...

She spoke, though, interrupting his attempts at helping. So he turned his chin away before speaking, as though he couldn't bear to look at her because of their arguing. "Fine. After they're finished, if you meet me in the hall again I can help you get home."

And then he did just as she decreed.

Lily's words followed Apollo into the room, and the knowledge of them actually made him angrier. In no world should this game of lies and forfeits have counted as normal. Sure, Lily being a professor didn't help their case. But his family was bleeding mental if they thought they could decide things for him. They thought nothing of marrying for money or status or name. But he was vain enough to want to be loved, which his parents seemed incapable of recognizing or accepting. Apollo couldn't even be sure whether or not his parents did love each other. Considering Vanora, he wasn't sure his father even knew the meaning of the word.

But Apollo did. Now. And it didn't matter what they wanted. Once he was free of the school and had the chance to earn for himself and live as he liked, they could all go to hell.

Apollo looked up when he saw Christian stride past, looking openly exasperated. That confused him, but it didn't matter. He could ask later, if his brother was even talking to him after all of this. But he just had to wait. Even though the Averys were approaching and he was thoroughly uninterested in actually talking to them.

Merlin, Lily. Hurry up.
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Lily Luna Potter on Sat Jan 14, 2017 11:53 pm

Lily would remember this moment for months after it occurred, and though Apollo acted normally, a hand through his hair as he headed towards the great hall, but Lily could almost swear he was walking in slow motion, his movements steady and flickering as though seen through an old film. She wondered briefly as he went if there would be a time after tonight in months where she would be able to watch Apollo walk away from her, or would it all be passing glances, casual encounters, the accidental meeting of gazes. She knew what they were doing, what it entailed, and how important it was - it didn't make it any less daunting.

He had left her with a tease and a smile and the spell broke, time caught up, and she was left... alone. She had not felt lonely, not that deep loneliness that had followed her like a shadow her entire life, since she and Apollo had reconciled their feelings for each other. There was this soft assurance to have someone she respected and cared for that she knew was on her side. Apollo would be on her side, of course, but the efforts of keeping up their charade would be isolating, and she wouldn't be able to talk to anyone about it.

Hopefully they would be able to find time to steal away.

She realized she had left Apollo on his own for a shade too long and she gathered her courage, constantly reminding herself that she was a Gryffindor after all, and stepped into the hall.

Knowing what was coming made the entire tableau into something much less pleasing, something drearier despite the shining lights and warmth of the company. Her eyes scanned, and little acting was required - real anxiety had touched her typically unreadable expression, subtle but present, if one was willing to look. Ace, who had moved off to intently examine the large Christmas tree, turned and caught Lily's eyes. The darker haired girl continued her scanning, and finally found Apollo.

She moved quickly, forcing her eyes to remain on Apollo, but she could feel gazes on her. Her eyes drifted curiously to meet these strange gaze, all occupied by people who looked at her with great suspicion. What had she done? Or what did they think she had done?

Oh, Alice. Christian. You clever-  

She had nearly reached Apollo now and again brought her eyes to him, reaching out softly to touch his shoulder. "Apollo, please. Let's talk."

And curtain up.
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