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MUGGLE
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MALES
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NONBINARY
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SEPTEMBER 2021

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NEWS

08.11. - September Update: Part Two is here!
08.05. - Summer OTM Winners are here!
07.27 - September is here!
06.20 - Summer Festival Event is here!
06.20 - Summer Update: Part 4 is here!



SEPTEMBER 2021

All aboard! The Hogwarts Express, bearing no traces of the bloodshed it has seen, leaves King's Cross Station on September 1st. Another school year begins. Students nervously return to Hogwarts' hallowed halls, while parents linger beside windows, awaiting the first owls home from their children to report that all is well. Trouble brews under London as tension rises to the surface. One thing everyone knows? The long days of summer are over.

SEPTEMBER 1st - 30th NOW OPEN

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» 09 June 2021 || I've Been Painting the Sky, Levi
Nicolette Babineaux
 Posted: Feb 11 2018, 10:24 PM
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365
posts
38 years old

Headmistress/Divination

Hogwarts
Retired


Exam season felt to Nicolette very much like Spring. Though the Solstice approached, and in a few weeks the Sun would find its peak and usher their hemisphere of the world into full Summer, the flurry of minds around her spoke of new growth and fervent activity, like fresh blooms pushing up through hard-packed snow to flower open in rapid and satisfying completion. Perhaps the experience was not so pleasant for everyone--there'd been just as much a sense of stress in the air as her students prepared to take on their finals, the stakes high enough for some of them to set the hallways around them buzzing with the frenzy of their fraying nerves--but here was their chance for resolution and relief. With every exam day that passed, the tension eased a little, a sensation like a sigh drifting warm through the halls by nightfall, momentary before anticipation for the morning kicked back up again, but they'd all been completed by the ninth, and the Great Hall felt settled and clean like a space well organized, every book closed and placed back on its shelf, every box checked with care.

Nicolette sat down to dinner in her overly large chair, a faint smile lingering about her lips as she looked out over the sea of tired calm and faint hope that seemed to hover in the air above them all. It was pleasant, after all the distress they'd known, to sit together in this satisfied fatigue, ready to embrace whatever would come because all that could be done had been. It seemed ironic that here, at the end, was when the school felt the most like home to her, the whole of it stretching wide its arms to simply embrace a force of fate because what else could be done until at last final grades were released? Even more ironic was the fact that such a matter had very little to do with fate and much more with the attention span of her students and the quill in her hand when at last she sat down to finish her stack of grading. Her classes were mercifully small, which was likely to make the entire process much quicker to finish, but she'd hardly given herself an easy task in the way she'd written her exams. Every question was practically an essay on its own, and there was a great deal of...well...disingenuousness to wade through, but she would not let that taint her pleasant mood.

Especially when Levi had managed to sneak into the seat beside her. It was not every meal, that they were able to sit together; her chair was rather fixed in its position, and so her company largely depended on who got to her first these days. She looked up from her plate as he sat, smiling perhaps a little too bright to convincingly pass as nothing more than a professional courtesy, but she'd quite forgotten if it was important they maintain a sense of impartiality around one another. What could it hurt, to simply look at him with affection; she could hardly help it after all, and she rested an elbow on the table, propping her chin up against her fist to look at him. The castle perhaps felt like Spring, but Levi still carried with him an air that spoke very much of Summertime, thoughts of escape and adventure and exploration blooming in her mind, long nights spent entirely in disregard for what the morning might bring. So often they watched the stars together, but what of sunrises? She could just imagine his face in the brightness of dawn, lost in fascination for the shades of light in the skies above and cloaked in distant melancholy at the loss of his most precious companions. How lovely he would be.

"Bonsoir, Monsieur," she greeted him, biting at her lower lip to keep from a full grin. "I am pleased to see you down from your tower zis evening. I did worry zis past week might 'ave driven you away from us altogether." Even in years past, before she'd known Levi as well as she endeavored to now, it had been easy to distinguish the shift in his moods around exam time from withdrawn to positively severe. She had, perhaps, considered him lacking in compassion in the past, her assumptions shallow as she endeavored to shine all the brighter in compensation for his dark clouds, but it was far easier now to recognize it as all the passion he held for the subject he taught, and perhaps that was even something of a relief, in its way. She could not claim that she'd never experienced irritation over mistreatment of her own area of study--the positively flippant attitudes with which some students regarded her class from start to finish and the unchecked creativity they attempted to employ as a cheat for those questions on her last exam. There was no question Levi cared just as much.

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Levi Lightner
 Posted: Feb 14 2018, 01:49 PM
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41 years old

Astronomy Professor

Hogwarts
Retired


Exam season always inspired mixed emotions in Levi; on the one hand, it felt like the beginning of the end, another step towards the expansive relief that summer would bring with it - no students, no lessons, no classes to prepare, nothing but him and the endless night…and this year, perhaps, some company. On the other hand, those final few weeks before freedom were a maelstrom of frenzied activity: exams to prepare, office hours packed with students who’d only just realised there was such a thing as a syllabus, and of course the enduring sense of deep, shivering tension that ran through everything like a wire stretched taut. It all served to put him rather on edge, so that he retreated into his Tower for the duration and, during particularly bad years, even insisted that students communicate with him by owl. It was probably less effort for them, given the frankly ridiculous climb up to his office.

But now it was over, and another year was drawing to a close - and what a year it had been. The worst in recent memory, he was certain, but it too had passed, as everything must. That inevitability, in itself, was a comfort; neither light nor dark could last, for in the end each would have to give way to the other, on and on in an endless cycle just as day turned to night and night to day. They may never know where the white witch had fled to, nor where she’d taken whatever it was that Greavish had left Nicolette, but what did it matter? She was gone, a thing of the past or the future, and all that mattered to Levi was the present. The deaths they had suffered were also past, so that all they could do was move forward and heal to the best of their ability. The world would not wait for their grief, and neither would evil; both proceeded in their paths inexorable, unstoppable.

There would be some time, he hoped, between their last trial and the next, to regroup and come together in some semblance of the peace they had once known. It was for this purpose that he descended to dinner on the final day of the examination period - this evening marked the end of something and the beginning of something new, and he would be there to honour it. So too would he honour all who had fallen and all who had not, his colleagues and his students, and Nicolette herself who had taken on the weighty role of Headmistress at that very moment in which it seemed least welcoming. Had anyone else dared to seat themselves beside her that night, he might have hauled them bodily from the chair - thankfully, he was among the first to arrive and the space was as yet vacant, so he slipped into it with the minimum amount of fuss and the ghost of a smile playing about his lips.

Habari ya jioni,*” he murmured, shooting her a sly glance out the corner of his eye. He had taken to teasing her in this way, dropping words and phrases in Swahili without translation; it was fair repayment, he felt, for all that French she threw around on a daily basis. Perhaps some day he would teach her and she him, but until then he rather enjoyed how her eyes widened at every exotic syllable that tripped its way across his tongue. “My Tower is pleasant enough, but I find it has lacked certain amenities in the past week. Food, primarily, and also Headmistresses. Entirely understandable, given the House Elf shortage, and so I have endeavoured to venture abroad myself in search of these precious commodities.” Ever calm, he reached for the nearest jug to pour himself some pumpkin juice. “I trust you have been sufficiently frustrated by all the teenagers trying to pretend they have Sight for the two hours it takes to sit for an exam?

*Good evening.

@Kris

This post has been edited by Levi Lightner: Feb 24 2018, 03:52 PM

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Nicolette Babineaux
 Posted: Feb 23 2018, 12:11 AM
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38 years old

Headmistress/Divination

Hogwarts
Retired


Levi's greeting overcame her attempts to reign in the fondness of her expression, and Nicolette turned her grin into the palm of her hand, eyes shying down to the surface of the table to disguise the flirtation that lingered in her gaze. This was hardly proper decorum for a Headmistress in the middle of a hall full of students, but such a thought served only to ruffle her good humor further, and she could have laughed at herself, full and open, then and there, for the way in which a few unfamiliar words sent her out to flutter in the wind. If only he had not accompanied them with such a look, as if in a few syllables he had committed some act of intolerable wickedness--then again, if her reaction were any indication, perhaps he had. It was imperative she repay him in kind.

"Do ze 'Ouse Elves usually stock your tower with 'Eadmistresses, zen?" Nicolette asked in innocent tones, lips pursing with a barely restrained smirk of mischievousness. She lifted a goblet to her lips to hide the expression from the hall, gathering herself before she took a sip and adding to her query, "I wonder 'ow many might be fit into such a small space." She could have rolled her eyes in an animation of her exasperation in response to his question, but opted for the exchange of a rather harried look instead, smirk flattening into a momentary expression of vexation.

"It is remarkable, 'ow many talented Seers seem to appear at ze end of each year," Nicolette murmured quietly. "If only my pupils were capable of honesty to match such talents, zey might find zemselves ze recipients of far more favorable grades. I suppose such is ze downfall of a foresight so little used." It wasn't as if she expected every one of her pupils to be capable of seeing through walls and predicting each minuscule detail of those events to come--there were limitations to even the most powerful of perceptions, after all, and she had never proclaimed to measure her students by a standard so extreme. The lessons she taught were intended as tools to greater insight on matters both mystical and mundane, and all she'd ever insisted upon was a genuine willingness to try. Succeed or fail, there truly was something to be gained in the experience of each attempt, and this she believed without exception. It had been the same in her days at Beauxbatons, however: the desire to dedicate oneself to deep and earnest exploration of a passion was rarely in style among a group of teenage peers, and saving face counted for more than grades or any spiritual gain, in the end. It was frustrating, but the choice was not hers to make for anyone else.

"I imagine your explorations of ze 'eavens 'ave been similarly cloud-covered of late," she added, shooting him a somewhat sympathetic look. It was a rather short-lived expression, however, as she followed it in the next instant with the raise of an eyebrow. "Tell me again, Professor, 'ow one might distinguish ze difference between a comet and an asteroid? Ze knowledge seems to 'ave escaped right out ze side of my 'ead." She smiled innocently at him, hand sneaking across the distance between them to liberate the jug of pumpkin juice from his grip as he finished with it, brushing a touch to his wrist in the process as if reassuring him to her teasing. For all their banter and all her endearment with the completion hovering in the air, the hall was not without its exhaustion, and the thought of the Astronomy Tower, lonely above the castle and cold save for the space beneath Levi's quilts nearly made her wish for curfew. Perhaps he would not mind the suggestion of company later on in the evening.

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Levi Lightner
 Posted: Feb 24 2018, 06:16 PM
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41 years old

Astronomy Professor

Hogwarts
Retired


So, he thought, eyes narrowing, it is this sort of mood. His gaze slid sideways to contemplate her even as he sipped his pumpkin juice, gathering his faculties in the protection afforded him by his goblet. By the time he set it down, his expression was calm and neutral, almost relaxed, and he went for a slice of roast with calculated intent. “Quite.” Cutting up the meat absorbed much of his attention, so that he kept his eyes trained downwards as he spoke. “They come in very useful in a crisis, you see. Errant students, unexpected paperwork, unforeseen administrative accidents...that sort of thing. I believe I normally keep three or four in the wardrobe, to be deployed in emergency situations only. The House Elves used to restock every couple of weeks, but now I have simply run out. You understand that this is a most dire circumstance.” The slice of roast had, by now, been almost mathematically divided into exact cubes; he speared one on the end of his fork and held it up, examining it closely. “I also cannot, in good conscience, request food of this quality if I choose to remain all the way up there. It is usually sandwiches.

As talk turned to students he gave in, grinning wide before popping the morsel into his mouth. Levi had always wondered how so many of them could fail to realise, year after year, precisely what was expected of them when it came to Divination. He had never shown the slightest bit of interest in the subject himself, particularly not with Trelawney prophesying calamity all over the place, but it had seemed rather obvious even back then that not every single student who took it did so because they had Sight. Some were merely interested. It was perfectly possible to do well without natural talent so long as one was well-versed in the theory of it and made a valiant effort when it came to the practical aspect...much like any other examination, in fact.

They are children,” he pointed out after some time devoted to concentrated chewing. “I believe foresight is handed out along with Apparition Licenses at seventeen. Common sense also, if there is any in stock...normally, there is not. For instance...” A quick gesture with his fork directed her attention towards Delaney. “Perhaps you have realised, during your time here, that Gryffindors suffer from a chronic shortage of both.” He took a moment to consider this, pleased (and rather surprised) by how comfortable a joke felt falling from his tongue for all that it was rare. She had done something to him, this French force of nature, and he found that he completely failed to regret it.

Her subsequent question - rife with ulterior motive though it seemed - earned her an amused glance. “Really, Headmistress, that is most remiss of you. A comet, you may recall, is composed of dust and ice. Asteroids are mostly mineral and rock.” After a pause for some more pumpkin juice, he added helpfully: “And meteors are fragments of either one that fall to the Earth. I’m afraid that will not earn you above an A; I suggest you devote more attention towards revision of the subject matter covered in the syllabus. Perhaps tonight we might find time for a...tutorial.

@Kris

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Nicolette Babineaux
 Posted: Mar 8 2018, 10:38 PM
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38 years old

Headmistress/Divination

Hogwarts
Retired


Where the persistence of positive spirits was concerned, the year had provided significant challenge, but seated beside Levi, Nicolette found herself flooded with a happiness she'd wondered if she might ever rediscover in full, the measure of his stoic responses doing less than nothing to dampen her moods. Perhaps it had been a matter of practice that had returned her to this place--incessant struggles with the most disheartening of circumstances strengthening her will until she could find a spattering of sunlight in the midst of any shadow--but there'd been a time where even Bulgraham Greavish had seemed to her an amusing companion. He'd betrayed her, of course, abandoning her to her optimism and blind faith, content to leave his mistakes in her hands, and that had been a lesson learned. He'd been a man desperate to cling to darkness, to shut his eyes and will away the light so that the cheer she'd endeavored to bring him had been all for naught, wasted at his feet, rejected by his pride. The glimmer she'd seen in him had been nothing more than the light she'd placed there herself, the light she'd rediscovered when she'd believed all of it as lost as a sun set beneath the horizon--but therein lay the fallacy in her comparisons. Who was it but Levi, after all, who'd helped her see the millions of suns that still shone even in the night, their numbers only multiplying the darker it grew until it seemed that darkness itself had been composed by fire. He was a shadow filled with stars, and her eyes could not forget how they shimmered even in the face of his most determined denial, posture as carefully held as his measured responses; she was watching him all the same, grin bright and distant and fond, waiting only for the sight of his own like the flashing of a comet across the sky.

"It is a shame to 'ear," she replied with a sympathy that rang as insincere teasing when spoken by a smile. "Clearly I shall 'ave to insist zis meal delivery is stopped altogether. With all ze other 'Eadmistresses gone, I cannot stomach ze t'ought of a only few sandwiches standing between myself and dinnertime conversation. My competition must be eliminated." With a last, lingering look and an air of perfect innocence, Nicolette lifted her own utensils, delighting in the warmth of his amusement as she indulged in a bite of her meal. In actuality, she knew little of what it was to be jealous, resigned to the notion that if someone desired something more than herself--and was similarly deserving of such a thing--there was no reason to keep them from it. What had she encountered in her time, after all, that could be considered so important it could not be shared? Then again, no one had ever tried to take from her the night sky, nor stolen from her a basic sense of warmth on a cold night. Perhaps even she could learn to draw lines.

"Gryffindors?" Nicolette asked with an amused glance in Levi's direction, "Or our Professor Delaney in particular?" The question was intended to tease, but she did wonder at the gesture when Levi might had indicated the table at large with its wealth of unfortunate examples. She loved all of her students with a blind and indiscriminate sort of passion, but even a mother could not be entirely ignorant of the tendencies of her children, and Nicolette was hardly so impartial as that. There was much to be fond of in the genuine spirit of her most lion-hearted students, but on a personal level, she hardly imagined that amassing detention slips like Chocolate Frog Cards was much of an honor or a sport. Then again, she'd never been offered the chance at detention with Professor Lightner in her days at Beauxbatons.

"Ah, but I'd forgotten about meteors all together," she sighed with an attitude of resignation, banishing all amusement but the slightest curling at the corners of her lips. "Clearly it 'as been far too long since I visited your classroom...as evidenced by ze emptiness of your wardrobe, of course. I zink it might be best we revisit ze subject in its entirety to ensure I 'ave overlooked nothing else... And perhaps I might prove myself worthy of zat Outstanding after all." Her smile bloomed anew, rather more distant than the grin of a moment before, slow to spread and as mischievous as the light in her eyes. "It is most fortunate I am free zis evening. I feel I could not stand to postpone."

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Levi Lightner
 Posted: Mar 13 2018, 06:23 PM
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41 years old

Astronomy Professor

Hogwarts
Retired


Not once over the past year had he dared to hope that they might end up here, sitting together at the Head Table exchanging gentle witticisms, not after all that had befallen them. So many times he’d wondered instead whether any of it could have been prevented; whether they might have foreseen each disaster, somehow, and why all that darkness found its way here, to the castle. Greavish had been the start of it and it would have been easy to blame him, but Levi knew that was no more than a reassuring oversimplification. Hogwarts was a focal point of magical power, impenetrable fortress and tantalising target all in one, and every single one of the various shadows that swept over the nation eventually headed North to try its luck. Morrigan would have come to them with or without Greavish, in the end, and for that Levi bore him no grudge. For dragging Nicolette into his tenebrous schemes, however, he could not possibly be forgiven.

But he was gone and both Levi and Nicolette remained, along with the school and their students, all safe and accounted for save the unfortunate few; those few he would always regret, because they were blameless and undeserving of the fate Morrigan had chosen for them. She had allowed him the safety to heal from their losses, and he could only hope that he provided the same for her. However long this went on was of no consequence to him, because it had been her choice to stay or to leave from the very start, and so it would be up until the very end; Levi could go nowhere so long as the stars still danced on her eyelashes and twinkled at him when she smiled.

And how much more lovely she seemed when she was in this mood to tease; every aspect of her expression was alive and animated, all mischievous twitches and hidden smirks. “A terrible fate indeed, to be competing with sandwiches. Although sometimes the House Elves add mustard, and in those moments I rather find myself rather distracted from any and all Headmistresses in my wardrobe. I suppose that’s how I failed to notice them declining in number.” He paused in his contemplation of the potatoes to shoot her a sidelong glance. “Although I must admit that the original is much preferable, and so between yourself and mustard I am quite at a loss as to who would prevail.

It appeared that a more involved study of Delaney was in order, and so Levi indulged, narrowing his eyes at the Potions professor, lips pursed in concentration. “Both,” he decided at last. “A lack of common sense is, of course, one of the criteria by which the Hat selects our Gryffindors. Their daring, nerve, stupidity...you know how it goes. Delaney is the primary Gryffindor, as Head of House, and must therefore embody these values most completely. Hence…” he waved one hand as if to say ‘there, you see, obvious’. “It is, I suspect, a direct consequence of his unnatural height. Very thin air at those altitudes.

It was difficult to hide his amusement in conversations with her, but there were hundreds of students looking on and Levi had a reputation to uphold, so he chewed each mouthful with careful slowness to otherwise occupy his facial muscles. “You wish to inhabit my wardrobe? How strange. Where shall I put all my other Headmistresses?” A serene draught of pumpkin juice fortified him. “Postponing would not be wise. It is of the utmost importance to remedy educational deficiencies as they arise, without delay. I will expect you at midnight precisely, that I may use the heavens to demonstrate as appropriate. Do not be late.

@Kris

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Nicolette Babineaux
 Posted: Mar 31 2018, 07:51 PM
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38 years old

Headmistress/Divination

Hogwarts
Retired


As much as she'd been looking forward to the end of the year (and the relief of release it promised) for months, with Levi seated beside her, Nicolette was beginning to regret that it ever had to end. Hogwarts had been a familiar space held fondly in her heart for years now, but never had it felt more like home than it did there and then, warm among her students and...friends. There were people around her she cared for a great deal, with whom she'd weathered strife and adversity and grown in new and unexpected ways. She would see them again, she knew, when the Fall came and they were all summoned back to their respective posts, guarding the castle gates against chaos that they might provide the most secure and stable environment they could conceivably ensure for their students as they endeavored to fill their minds with knowledge, but in Levi's case, that did not feel soon enough. What would become of them when the Express left and it was time for her to pack her bags and head for the quiet retreat of her cottage home? There would be considerably more to do this summer than there had been any year prior, as a consequence of her newfound position--though whether it would last to the beginning of the new school year, she could not be certain. The Board of Governors had elected her to the post under rather extreme circumstances, and perhaps, given the chance, they would prefer to elect someone with more experience. It remained an unanswered question, but it was of far less consequence to her at the moment than another; what would Levi do with his time, for example, once the end of June came, and where would the summer winds take him?

"Mustard," she mused slowly, considering the word as if considering a particularly difficult problem, "I see. Well, I suppose we will never know ze answer to zat particular puzzle, considering I 'ave just been informed our budget cannot afford to continue its support of such a frivolous condiment. My apologies, Monsieur, I suppose you will 'ave to make due with an empty wardrobe and a dry sandwich." She cocked her head to the side, offering him an expression of feigned sympathy to complement her gentle teasing. How easy it was, to forget the rest of the world when he sat beside her, and it was with a slight sense of sheepishness and a twitch of her lips that she turned her attention to Domhnall as Levi gestured toward him. Her glance was furtive, and she half hid her face behind her hand, peeking at him from between her fingers at intervals as a wicked smile spread across her face, well aware of how obvious their scrutiny must be. It was with a pursing of her lips and an expression of mock disapproval, however, that Nicolette returned her gaze to Levi as he finished his criticisms, leaning back in her chair to regard him.

"It would appear I 'ave been given some context for your behavior t'rough ze years," she mused lightly, "if you believe stupidity synonymous with chivalry. Is zis 'ow you explain your aversion? Or is it a matter of altitudes, considering you occupy one of 'Ogwarts' 'ighest points? Of course, I do see your point. It must be terribly inconvenient, to be found lacking in foresight, especially where one's own words are concerned." The smile she gave him was bright and innocent, filled to the brim with delight and entirely unconcealed. There was, perhaps, little cover for their conversation, seated at the Head Table as they were, but it seemed she'd again forgotten all about that fact, and why should it matter, anyway, if she smiled at one of her colleagues? It only added to her amusement, to watch how carefully Levi held his expression, but then, she supposed he had rather more of a reputation to uphold than she. It would not change how warm and, frankly, silly she knew him to be.

"Budget cuts, mon cher," she sighed, endearments sneaking their way in between her words, "I am afraid excess 'Eadmistresses 'ave gone ze way of mustard. By which, of course, I mean only an oblivious Gryffindor would fail to zink of eliminating all one's competition, and you must remember I was 'Ead of Ravenclaw for a full five minutes." There was little that seemed capable of stopping her, now she'd settled so completely into the thrill of waggish banter, but the underlying command in Levi's tone endeavored to mount a valiant effort. Rising to his challenge, Nicolette leaned forward, settling one elbow on the arm of her chair as she leaned closer toward him and dropped her voice to a gentle murmur.

"And what if I am? Am I to expect some form of reprimand, in ze event I arrive late? Perhaps it is for ze best I come early, zen. Unless, of course, you 'ave made other arrangements I should be aware of...Or you were 'oping for ze chance to scold me." With a tsk of her tongue, Nicolette sat straight once more, returning to her meal as if she'd said nothing of consequence.

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Levi Lightner
 Posted: Apr 1 2018, 07:20 AM
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41 years old

Astronomy Professor

Hogwarts
Retired


To some it may have seemed strange, even unfeeling, that they could sit there at the Head Table joking behind their pitchers of pumpkin juice, as though nothing had happened and all was as it should be. But what choice did they have, really? Grief would not bring back those whom the white witch had taken - because Levi believed that it had been her from beginning to end, from the derailing of the Express until long past the fall of her barrier. Perhaps she did not remain among them physically, but the spectre of her presence lurked still, dark and unctuous in forgotten corridors, and he knew that should he trace the cause of every single loss they had suffered over the course of that terrible year, all would lead back to her. Would that they had never drawn her attention; would that Greavish and his secrets had not brought such evil into their midst.

But to remain sombre was to allow the evil to triumph, to cast its shadow over weeks and months and years of their lives. Their priority, above all else, was the comfort and safety of the students, who were but children and were easily influenced by the emotions and displays of those around them, particularly those in authority. For their sake, Levi had to act as though all was forgotten, and force himself to look with conviction towards a future that was free of death and impostors alike. If they lost hope - Nicolette and himself, Delaney and Ramsey - then the children would most certainly feel it, and none of them deserved to live their childhood in fear of what might come to pass.

And so he allowed himself a smile, brief and hidden though it was, and prodded at his dinner with the end of his fork as he considered her assertion. “Ah. Budget cuts. The bane of Headmistresses everywhere. Often have I heard the wardrobe humming with a veritable susurrus of tension at the prospect of such financial decrepitude. I suppose I shall just have to...” With great care, so as not to upset any of the multifarious jugs and goblets scattered about the table, Levi reached out to claim a small bowl of mustard, pulling it close and setting it just to one side of his plate. A cursory inspection of the Head Table revealed a number of such prizes, none of which were out of reach of one or two surreptitious hand motions; within minutes, he’d amassed a collection of bowls (much to the consternation of other members of faculty) and was occupied with emptying them all into a single vessel, the better for eventual transportation up to the Astronomy Tower.

Desperate times...it is unfortunate that I cannot do the same with my Headmistresses, but I am quite at a loss as to where the House Elves obtain them. Perhaps I should ask.” At last, with his mustard-gathering complete, Levi returned to chewing serenely at his dinner. This serenity was quickly shattered as Nicolette continued, and he took a moment to look at her askance, eyes wide in mock affront. “Headmistress, whatever could you be referring to? I assure you that I have been a paragon of pedagogical and collegial tenderness over this past decade. Perhaps it is you who has misinterpreted my actions. For example, may I draw your attention to the fact that repeated deduction of points from a certain House is merely a means by which they might be incentivised to actualise their potential. You may note that it is clearly effective, as said House began the year in the negative and are now second.” He shook his head, forlorn. “Ever you underestimate me. My wardrobe Headmistresses were far more understanding.

But then she was smiling and leaning in to murmur so very close to his ear, and Levi could not possibly maintain even the pretense of insult; he turned towards her almost unconsciously, mouth quirked in soft amusement, eager as always to hear what she had to say and entirely unsuspecting. Which meant, of course, that he succumbed instantly to a blush that certainly felt very visible. Levi threw a rapid, mortified glance out at the Hall, where literally hundreds of students sat in full view of his embarrassment, then returned to his dinner with renewed fervour. It took a few minutes and a couple of bites before he capable of rallying to the occasion. “I am never in the least enthusiastic for the chance to scold those who come to me for educational endeavours. However, I am obliged to inform you that if you should be late, I will not shirk my duty. All transgressions have consequences.

@Kris

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Nicolette Babineaux
 Posted: Apr 16 2018, 09:11 AM
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Kris is Offline
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38 years old

Headmistress/Divination

Hogwarts
Retired


How Levi had managed to keep the magic he held poised just at the edges of his fingertips concealed from her attention for so long remained one of the greater mysteries of Nicolette's world, but now that she'd discovered it, she was loathe to look away; despite the ease with which the subtle motions of his hands undermined her threats, she was lost in watching him summon a miscellany of earthenware, gesticulations subdued and unconcerned as if he were occupied in nothing more than the mundane task of summoning a wayward child.

"'Ow very frugal," Nicolette mused with the arc of an eyebrow. Beneath the table, she drew her wand from her sleeve, raising it in one lazy motion so that it seemed to appear quite suddenly between her fingers as she indicated the mustard stockpile. "Still, it is such a shame, ze way zings tend to simply vanish." As her wrist unfurled, the tip of her wand tapped against the rim of the bowl, and in an instant, it disappeared. Nicolette's smile did not waver. "Unfortunately, I believe your 'Eadmistresses would prove similarly ill-fated...if you 'appened to locate further supply, zat is." At the look of affront etched across Levi's features at her continued harassment, she could not help but chuckle, and for once, her over-sized chair did not seem such a poor fit. Perhaps she'd been the one to make herself small between its arms in the first place, as if determined not to tread the same paths as those phantoms of Headmaster's past, reluctant to remain long enough to make a mistake and half-hoping there might indeed be a new Head of Hogwarts to take her place come the fall. The need for flight would return to her, she knew, for it always did like the swelling of a summer's breeze, sudden and sweet across her skin, but for now, she was relaxed, content and at home, free of the unease such titles sometimes inspired.

"I 'ave never underestimated you, mon cher," she tutted, watching Levi's face with a singular sort of interest as though eager to see how it might shift next, "Only attempted to 'incentivize you to actualize your potential'. I believe I understand you quite well." Of course, she'd never understood him so well as to witness him blush before, and though Nicolette's eyes grew wide with delight at the sight of his gentle embarrassment, the effect of it soft enough and so delightfully sweet as to make her wish she could lean in and kiss him there--a fond press of her lips to his flushing cheek--she resisted with a reserved forkful of her dinner, focusing on the remainder of her meal as Levi took the time to gather himself between bites of his own.

"I see," she mused, tone soft as if to soothe away all the distress she'd clearly caused, "In zat case, perhaps an early arrival would be ze most advisable course. Well, I should not delay. It is a long walk to ze top of ze Astronomy Tower, and I scarce know if I 'ave time to complete ze climb as it is." A dab of a napkin and then Nicolette was sliding back her chair to rise. "I suggest you bring along a few sandwiches. It is such an arduous journey, and if we are to study so late into ze night, well. Without 'Ouse Elves or 'Eadmistresses to spare, zat frugality of yours may come of use... Not to mention I believe zey would go well with zis." Nicolette slipped her fingers casually into her other sleeve, retrieving from its depths the bowl of mustard she'd apparently vanished. It sat innocently in the palm of her hand as she smiled down at him, but she did not return it, instead offering his arm a light squeeze as she maneuvered her way around his chair. Bribery had hardly been necessary, but still she held the bowl where she knew he could see, robes brushing over the stones behind her as she stepped down from the platform and made her way toward the doors.

OUT

@Drakky
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