Tinsel and Traitors - Page 4

Tinsel and Traitors

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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Apollo Zabini on Thu Jan 19, 2017 2:42 am

Later - nearly two months away, nine days into the month of February - he would over-plan and give her something tragically useful, and eventually forget that he had done it until it was too late. Not the meeting her in secret part, but the flower itself and what the flower was capable of. In time, he would wish that he'd made it work the other way around, so he would know about her safety instead.

But in the moment, he wasn't allowed to think about such things. Instead, he rewound his feelings to a late night at the family shop. The till was being counted, and there was a knock at the door.

And then Lily's voice reached him. Her hand touched him. So he yanked his shoulder back - sharply enough to pull the attention of those nearby but not enough to seem threatening. Plenty enough to look hurt, though.

His expression, once it found her, was a near mirror of the one he'd worn that night. But if she paid attention, the way his chin ducked slightly towards his chest would be signal enough that it pained him to do it. Otherwise it would have been pulled up and a bit back, proud and territorial and dangerous. Unfortunately, he had directed that very look at the woman he loved, and the sudden wave of guilt pushed him into his reply.

"We should talk." It wasn't a question and it certainly was not an agreement. His tone was incredulous, baffled even. But, as promised, it was only loud enough to seem offended - not to interrupt the party or shock the rest of the room. "I've tried talking to you, Lily. Ah,- Sorry," he corrected himself sarcastically, "Professor."

Shaking his head, he kept his gaze from wandering to make it seem like he'd forgotten where they were and who could be watching. "Nothing I say can fix this. Everything's changed, I get it."

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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Lily Luna Potter on Thu Jan 19, 2017 8:05 pm

Lily had prepared herself the only way she knew how  - she applied that old Potter trick she had studied so carefully from Albus. A mask, almost a physical shell atop her honest face, one easily slipped into from her years of keeping her demeanor closed. Lily that knew this was all a trick, Lily that might have almost enjoyed tricking this posh little party, Lily that would have done anything to cure Apollo of any hurt - that Lily had slipped down into the depths of her character, content to hide back until it was safe to come out.

She had used this coping mechanism when Roxi had come for her, when she had been forced to stay with her brother during her recovery. Hide your true self underneath a shell - any damage inflicted affected only the shell, leaving the rest intact. Obviously, Roxi had managed to break through and wreck some of who Lily was. But for this brief period, from someone who truly meant her no harm, she figured it was the best bet.

So the light that was Lily flickered out from beneath her eyes as contorted her face into a look of surprise, and then frustration at Apollo's cold movement. She could feel people looking, shifting to give them space but not far enough that they would not be able to bear witness to the event. Every good ball needed some entertainment, after all.

She was calculating which words would give the idea most naturally, while still trying to maintain that need for privacy two people might have if they were really in this situation. "It's for the best. For both of us. I don't want you to be upset. I want us to be civil, even if-" She cut herself off. Swallow.

That would do the trick.
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Keiran Hayes on Mon Jan 23, 2017 6:34 am

If Kenna was saying anything, Keiran couldn't say he was listening. Instead, he was not-so-subtly watching the potions professor, trying to determine if he was going to have to replace her at midyear. It wouldn't look very good, of course, if he did. But there was no part of him that would accept something worse on his record.

What Apollo and Lily and the others failed to recognize, of course, was that Keiran's wife had been a student when they had been introduced originally. Not that he'd had much of a choice. But he, miraculously, had not been fired. And it was something he could obviously never forget.

Still, their shockingly timed argument was incredibly ideal. Maybe not for them, according to the boy's tense stance. Keiran couldn't see his face. But he could see Lily's. And she didn't look very happy, though she seemed somewhere between resigned and determined.

As convenient as the timing was - not to mention the fact that he was lucky enough to be privy to it all - nothing about their anguish seemed to ring false to the headmaster. He had been through something too similar recently. He and Millie had gone through years and a multitude of trials, and yet these two people, years younger than himself... They felt things just as deeply, it seemed.

"D'you know what?" Apollo said with finality, shocking Keiran from his thoughts. "If this is something you can deal with, without being upset, then it bloody well isn't worth all this anyway."

And he backed up, waved a hand dismissively, before striding past her and back out of the hall. Keiran turned to watch him go, despite trying to act like he hadn't been watching before.

Clearing his throat, Keiran stood up a bit straighter and turned away from Lily to offer whatever sort of privacy that he could. His attention returned to Kenna, attempting to see what she thought of the situation, if anything.

"Hm." Wow. Nice segue.

And, off to the side, a pair of curious eyes watched as the elder twin left, and her fingers clutched the wand tighter.

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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Kenna McBain on Mon Jan 23, 2017 6:01 pm

Lily could feel the silence spreading out from the epicenter of their scene, could feel the crowd's eyes burning holes into them, but she knew it was close to over. She stared at him as he finally finished the whole thing off, turning on his heel and storming off. Lily blinked, controlling her breathing, and stared at the empty spot where Apollo had just been standing. She knew what would happen when she looked up. Eyes would dart away, gazes averted as awkward conversation sputtered into existence as a cover for their blatant eavesdropping. A few might risk taking a deep look into her face so they could describe it in detail when they recounted the episode, but it wouldn't stay.

She looked up and it was as expected. Eyes darting, murmurs spreading, movement churning as the ball attempted to forget that despite all of the sophisticated entertainment they had lined up for the evening, that a good ol' fashioned domestic was always more exciting. Lily found one one the pureblooded matrons staring and Lily narrowed her eyes, challenging her, daring her to speak out. She wouldn't, of course. Those sorts of women never did. Not until Lily was long gone and she had a host of willing ears, excited to spread the news.

Lily turned surveying the crowd and took a step. Ace was there, almost instantly, taking her arm and whispering a soothing word. Only now did Lily struggle with her act, surprised at Ace's sudden kindness. She maintained it only on the realization that Ace was acting as well, leading her towards the drink table to pick up waters, and then head for outside. From there, Lily would manage to slip back into the corridor and find Apollo.

Kenna frowned, turning away from the whole mess. "That's a shame." She glanced around, seeing the conspiratorial leans and hushed whispers, frown deepening. "Now everyone is gossiping- ugh, poor kids." She glanced at Keiran. "What do you say we get the party going again, people's minds off it? A dance?"
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Apollo Zabini on Mon Jan 30, 2017 12:34 am

It wasn't that Keiran never danced, to be clear. It was actually rather charming, I'm sure, to see him dancing around his quarters with the children. But he was not one - oddly enough - to enjoy the spotlight. At least, not in an intimate sort of scenario. And this party had become awkward, had already been foreign for him, and he didn't know Kenna very well. But perhaps that was better than knowing the person in question.

At least it wasn't Millie.

Of course, that would have made absolutely no sense, so he just nodded rather than responding. She was right. They could perhaps turn things around if people followed their lead. So he gently took her drink from her, quietly transfiguring both glasses into plates so no one would inadvertently pick them up. Say what you will about the headmaster, but he was nothing if not tidy and careful. As strange as the action probably seemed to Kenna, he needed to focus on other people if he wanted to turn his thoughts on the task at hand and away from Melissa.

Finally, he turned back to her and extended a hand. As they walked, he passed the Avery boys, jerking his head towards the floor. They had graduated just before he took his year off, after all, and he had been their Head of House. Whether or not they understood his presence there - as many probably would be until he mentioned Theodore - they were practically obliged to do as he silently demanded. Mesut moved first, taking up the hand of the girl next to him. Luke appeared uninterested, but followed suit anyway.

Soon enough, things were relatively on track. Even if Keiran looked stiff and conflicted the entire time he and Kenna danced.

Upstairs, Apollo was pacing. By the time Lily made her way back inside, he was at his window, trying to distract himself with the overly elaborate decorations his mother had colored the front yard with for the party. She knew which room was his, now, so he wasn't anticipating a knock. But when she came in, he turned and just looked at her for a minute. His eyes tried to drink her in - that glowing dress, even in the poor lighting - and reminded himself that they wouldn't have this again for a long time.

He probably should have said something more relevant, more reassuring. But the words that left his mouth were extremely selfish. He just needed to know that it was true. That he hadn't imagined it. The statement was hopeful - nearly a question.

"...You love me."

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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Lily Luna Potter on Mon Jan 30, 2017 2:17 am

Kenna was one of those people who liked to focus on solutions. So often, the best thing was to offer even a temporary solution and then come back to healing whatever feelings or misconceptions had caused the problem. She knew nothing about the young couple, knew she could do little in the way of helping their pain besides giving them their privacy. Kenna had been there. She knew how destructive a broken heart could be, how hard it was to deal with the shattering of your future reality, and how much worse all of that was with an audience.

She had been so stupid in her youth. She knew what it was like to put one's heart and soul into something one truly was passionate about, only to smother the flames. And there was always a crowd waiting to greedily warm their hands on the embers.

Fortunately, Keiran seemed to be more than willing in her efforts to shield the pair from the prying eyes of the rest of the party. She had her own reasons for protecting them, and she wondered why he too seemed not intent on it. She gave him a lopsided grin at his way of camouflaging their drinks, simultaneously amused and confused by the specificity of the action.

He must have undersold his influence in this circle, because by the time they turned to each other to dance, they were joined by several other couples, backs turning away from the scene of the crime. Keiran seemed far away, lost. The first day she had met him, she had seen that look, but he had warmed a bit as she chased away bad thoughts with a sweet drink. Tonight was different. There was a coldness to him, a distance, as though he were operating on another plane from her entirely.

So Kenna did what she always did when her friends fell into one of their existential crises.

She told a story.

"You know," she said, twisting her lips in thought as she looked upwards, as though trying to find the story. "The night before my first Yule Ball, I was so excited that I decided to dye my hair this really pretty shade of purple. I didn't know this, but my date apparently really loved my hair the blonde it was at the time. But my friend at the time was one of those really encouraging types who convince you to follow the stupidest or most fleeting of whims. So I did it. And the next day, when my date saw me... I'll never forget the look of shock on his face."

She waited for it. The usual question. "Oh, did the color look horrible?" or "He hated the color?" or some variant of it. And she smiled as she delivered the punchline.

"Oh, I got the dye mix all messed up and burnt my hair off. The nurse fixed it the next day, but my date was so embarrassed that I insisted on wearing a ski hat to the ball."

Lily couldn't have told a joke if her life depended on it as she made her way through the Zabini estate, wondering briefly what she would say if Daphne or Blaise were to find her making the trek. Somehow, she suspected she could get the latter to respect a request to say good bye to Apollo, but the former would probably force her out of the house without any of the ceremony she had displayed earlier that evening. That would ruin everything, a failure to see Apollo after such a horrible display. She didn't want him to wait a second longer without her reassurance.

But, finally, she was there, and she slipped inside his room without anything to introduce herself. The door slipped closed behind her and her fingers deftly locked the world out, content to be trapped with him in this moment in time, however brief it might be. But, for a moment, they remained suspended, standing feet apart, one with her back to the door, and the other with his back to the window.

He didn't move. He spoke. And Lily nodded, her eyes latched carefully onto his.

"Yes."

Yes, she did. Merlin, she did. A year ago, she didn't believe she could. But now, she knew it was the only thing she was certain of.

"And you love me," she repeated, needing to know that he, too, believed it, felt it, knew it.

And then, they would go from there.
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Keiran Hayes on Mon Jan 30, 2017 2:40 am

Keiran tripped.

He actually, completely tripped, right in front of everybody. But he couldn't help it. Right after burnt my hair off, the whole thing fell apart as far as he was concerned. His expression was one of pure shock, but it filtered down, relaxing into a deep chuckle as he spun her to try and settle back into the steps without more of an embarrassing show.

"My word," he uttered under his breath, shaking his head. When his eyes found hers again, he had to hold back another laugh. "You're quite something, aren't you? I didn't notice when I was first there, but your pub-goers must have a hell of a time."

And Apollo? His shoulders relaxed even as his throat closed up. Nobody had ever said that before. No one. Not about him. He hadn't expected her to be anxious in return, but that wasn't something he was willing to let linger for very long. Almost as soon as she said it, he was responding and stepping towards her all at once.

"Madly."

He was convinced that it had never taken him longer to cross that room, but of course that wasn't true. Still, he again spared no time before reaching out and drawing her against him. Apollo had kissed her almost desperately before - like that evening at the shack. But never like this. He refused to let her forget this night, this conversation, this kiss or the next one. Or the one after that.

As his hands pulled at her sides - gentle though certainly insistent - he was obviously quite unaware of the people approaching the manor and the way the darkness seemed to roll off of them rather than surround them. As though they themselves caused the dark of the night. Katherine thought, quite incorrectly, that Lily had been too upset to stay. She would regret that, in part. But it would lead her to another helping hand once the elder Zabini was of age and could behave more freely.

And Apollo would regret looking away from the window too soon. But only sort of.

Either way, she meandered over to Caleb's side, acting like she didn't even notice whom she stood next to. Her eyes remained on the dancers. But she didn't jump when the first one apparated into the ballroom from the front lawn.

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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Ace Longbottom on Mon Jan 30, 2017 3:36 am

The space between them ruptured, and he was striding towards her, and she felt like she could have torn the air away with the movement she made towards him. And then they were colliding, and this was something altogether different. All certainty, all desperation, all desire. She might have been adorned in stars, but it was a fire that raged within her as one hand grabbed at his collar and the other snaked up around his shoulders, creeping up into his hair as lips locked and sought. She could feel his hands at her sides and she pulled herself into him, as though making up now for all of the distance they had ever suffered-

And were soon to suffer.

She didn't want to release him. Not to get air, not to talk about their next step, not for anything. Something rebellious was stirring in her, knowing they had just lied to his family, to her boss, to the crème de la crème of pureblood society. She and Apollo had always had this weird sense of 'us against the world', an unspoken show of solidarity against... before, it had been unclear. Before, it might have meant Roxi and Daphne, their pasts, their baggage. But now it seemed set in stone. They had each other. And all of the people out there clearly weren't for them, so they were against them. And Lily was just fine with that.

She liked the team she was on.

Finally, because they were human, she pulled away to come up for air, but still held him close, eyes on his. She didn't want to say anything, didn't want to ruin the magic. Magic. That's what this was. She leaned back, back finding the door, and pulled him close to her, arms slung around his shoulders as a hand reached up to brush his hair from his eyes.

"If we close our eyes and try really hard," she said, "it's like none of them out there exist." She was sharing one of her oldest tricks with him. Because she could trust him. Because he would understand. "And then it's just us."

Downstairs, Kenna had to clap a hand over her mouth to keep from laughing openly at Keiran's reactions, feeling that it wouldn't be fair to laugh at him for something she had done. Still, her nose was wrinkled in the effort, the edges of her smile still all too obvious despite her attempts to hide it. He spun her and she let the hand fall, allowing the grin out full-force, as anyone watching would suspect she was just having a good time being in the attention of the handsome Headmaster.

When she returned to him, her smile was still wide in her attempt to ward off laughter, eyes bright, spirits lifted that her attempts had been successful. At least now he didn't look so miserable. And he even seemed a bit more present. "I'm sorry," she said, the Scottish coming on a little thicker with her mirth. "I can't help it. And you would have noticed how horrified they were. They're never safe around me."

Safety.

Ah. Interesting word.

You ever heard of dramatic irony, kids?

Caleb didn't exactly see her at his side. He felt her. Which was strange, considering how slight their connection was. What reason could he have to instinctively know when Katherine Avery was nearby. It was casual, his eyes forward, but there was something knowing there. Not exactly suspicious. But sincere.

"What have you been up to?"

He was soon the find out.

Ace Longbottom had three levels of alertness. Yellow, Orange, Red. Yellow was that level that one might find themselves feeling as they walked alone, orange perhaps when one was alone in a bad part of town. And then red, of course, meant ready to attack.

She was nearly always on red alert. But she had been startled into double red.

She spun around, looking for the source of the noise, her wand already in her hand. She didn't know where Christian was, and found herself kicking herself for allowing them to split up. The adults were turning to find the source of the noise, but no one had jumped the gun wand like she had, and still... she couldn't lower it. Her eyes found their hosts, who looked completely surprised by the intrusion. Just as she thought.

This wasn't good.
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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Keiran Hayes on Mon Jan 30, 2017 4:57 pm

Katherine shrugged casually - just enough to look like she was rolling her shoulders or something - but didn't turn her head towards him. "Enough."

Crack.

Kit simply glanced over at the woman who had landed down the hall past Caleb, before turning again and heading back to her spot along the wall. Let him figure that one out.

After the first woman came another, and then a couple of men as well. They didn't outnumber the party, but Katherine hadn't wanted them to. Neither had Ellorie, who'd set it all up. Or she'd had the idea, anyway. Katherine had organized the who and the when.

Within moments of the last one landing, and just as soon as Mr. Zabini shouted at them to ask what they thought they were doing, the first hex was fired. Maybe he should have asked how they got in. He wouldn't have gotten any response for that, either, but it might have made him feel less naive afterwards. Really, he should have known. The night has started self-destructing almost as soon as it begun.

So while Keiran wanted to keep up the antics with Kenna that he was finding he actually enjoyed, that was not an option. The hand holding hers spun her again just as the first intruder landed, and Keiran didn't even manage to bring her full circle before turning to stare at them. His arm was a little twisted, but he stepped in front of Kenna instinctively, his free hand reaching for his wand.

Apollo wasn't holding Lily quite like Keiran gripped Kenna at her wrist. Neither were being particularly rough, mind you, but Keiran acted out of a fear similar to the younger Slytherin's and would apologize later for the way it manifested itself. He just hoped he wasn't hurting her. Would it matter if they were harmed by these strangers anyway, though?

At any rate, reluctance to pull away led to Apollo's deep breathing and the way he stepped forward as an almost perfect mirror to Lily stepping back. It was to be expected that he curled his arms around her waist, but he hadn't expected what Lily came up with next. But he did approve of the sentiment. Just them. At least for now, without the hiding and the stress and the distance.

"Okay," he replied, his voice almost grave. It probably didn't help anything that the pitch had also dropped a fair bit. But he ducked his chin, his lips finding the space where her jaw met her neck. "Close your eyes."

Perhaps, had his mother not let out a horrible shriek, Apollo would have lingered longer when he made it back to her lips. Unfortunately for everyone, it broke him out of whatever spell this was.

He jerked back, eyes on the door like he could see through it and understand. He didn't want to know what it meant, but he had to. Looking back at Lily, his was torn. On the one hand, he looked apologetic. But he mostly just looked scared. He knew that what he was about to do was stupid, but he did it anyway. Stepping back, he reached for the wand sitting on his bedside table. He couldn't use it outside of school, but he sure wasn't going to go without it. Then he moved back to Lily's side, drawing her away from the door. When he opened it, the chaos downstairs was almost overwhelming.

"Merlin," he muttered, wanting to take back his desire to be protective over his mum. But he just couldn't. To Lily, he was dreadfully firm. Even though gen doubted she would truly listen to him. And he wouldn't be have been so set on her if she did. "I love you. So, please, Lily. Stay here."

And without waiting for a response that time, he took off across the landing and down the stairs. If anyone had paid Katherine any mind, perhaps they would have seen how she just stood against the wall and watched, unafraid. But even Apollo didn't think to look at her when he burst back in.

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Re: Tinsel and Traitors

Post by Lily Luna Potter on Tue Jan 31, 2017 5:41 am

The confidence that had been so lacking and so forced during their game of cards had settled onto her quite nicely, not over-eager or too obvious. It was evident she didn't care what he thought and still could recognize why someone else might. This was true confidence, and he found his lips turning upwards, even amongst the beginnings of this chaos.

Ever more interesting.

Kenna was finding that one could enjoy even the most stuffy of pureblood balls if they managed to fall into the right company. She imagined it was a one in a hundred chance to find someone here who would actually laugh, who could have something good to say, who could fight through what looked like a sea of trouble to find purchase on even the smallest of islands, even if for the night. Kenna knew she was going through her own personal battles as well, but if she had managed to pull Kieran from the waters for even just a minute... well that would be enough.

The moment wasn't fated to last.

Kenna had no idea what was going on, and as Keiran twirled her away from the noise, her hand plunged for her wand, but she wasn't wearing pockets. She cursed under her breath, momentarily forgetting before - right! It had been in the pocket of her jacket when she had transfigured it. She reached towards her shawl and there, in a hidden little flap of fabric, came her wand. It was brandished and she held it out, turning as she heard a crack behind her, covering Keiran's back.

His hand still held onto her wrist. They were safe as an island. And pirates were fast approaching.

Lily supposed one day they would have to get over this idea that they were islands unto themselves, that they couldn't rely upon anyone but themselves. Truthfully, they owed a lot to the two Hufflepuffs downstairs who had committed to hiding their secrets, and Lily knew that without the help of many people, there was a chance she wouldn't even be alive to hold Apollo, to vow to stay by him when no one else would.

But when it came down to it, she didn't trust anyone else to stay.

The intimacy between them had come about so naturally, so quickly once the fear left, leaving a vacuum that was so quickly filled by love. It felt like ages ago that she had spotted Apollo through the window, always through a window, as though he could never actually tear himself away and join the action in the world. And she had stood on his door, almost convinced that she would never work up the nerve to knock, never even attempt to remove the barrier between them. But she had. And he had left the window. And she had stepped through the door.

And here they were.

Her eyes fluttered close, and it was amazing how the world faded. And her breath left her as his lips connected with her skin, and her fingers tightened into him, travelling up, and the fire in her was ready to consume them both-

So quickly a fire was doused, and in its place was left a pit of cold, something uncertain and something definitely not right. Lily could not claim to be an expert on Daphne Zabini, but she enough about her type. Women like that cared about appearances. They didn't scream without very good cause.

Her eyes met his, and she clutched him, as though they would soon be hearing laughter and some sort of sign that all was well and that the world could shrink back to them again. But it wasn't the case. And he left her there. Alone in his room. Danger beneath her.

But how could she let him run to handle whatever was happening alone. That wasn't the deal. They stood by each other. They stayed. That had always been the promise. I'll stay. Of course, she couldn't expect him to stay, considering. But how could he expect her to?

Besides. A Potter always ran towards danger.

The heels were transfigured into flats in between steps, and she was running, her wand out and her gaze set. Anyone to see her might have seen her mother in her set jaw, her father in her erect shoulders. She fell into step at Apollo's side as her burst into the room, looking over at him for one moment, before all hell broke loose.

"I'll protect them."

She had promised to do as much when summer had hit. The duty didn't go away just because she wasn't at the school. She stepped forward and began scanning the crowd for Ace and Christian, her wand held level in what was, so far, only a stand off.
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