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Balgren House
Sat Aug 8, 2015 23:38

If Troy had any intention of celebrating his return to Aelcrest in the Balgren Common Room, he didn’t show it. Long after dinner had officially finished he was still going from table to table, greeting friends, making deals and dragging Thom along for the ride. He didn’t mind much at first, especially when it came to the girls, the very pretty girls. There were lots of them, and all very eager to talk to Troy but he only winked at them and promised to return. Instead, he turned Thom towards a square table with a scorch mark in the middle and surrounded by a group of older students.

“Ted, my man!” Troy greeted one boy. He had a shaved head and every time he ran his hand across it there was a crackling sound. “How was your summer? Excellent firework at dinner, one of yours?”

“New batch,” Ted replied smugly. “Ten sickles a piece if you’re buying.”

“I might just take you up on that,” Troy grinned. Thom thought that sounded like a lot for a firework, but the charming second year was unfazed. “Come see me tomorrow afternoon,” he added, gesturing to Thom as his excuse for rushing off. “We’ll make a deal.”

The next stop on their journey was on the other side of the hall, so Thom took the opportunity to ask a very important question.

“Isn’t it against the rules?” he ventured. “You know, fireworks?”

“Rules are made to be broken,” Troy shrugged. “Besides, Ted’s a trader and a half decent one at that. The Heads had them made official so we wouldn’t get things from less desirable sellers, if you catch my drift?” Thom didn’t, but nodded anyway. “And, a well placed firecracker can do wonders for the ladies,” he added with a knowing grin. Then, “Ladies!”

A group of third year girls suddenly burst into giggles as he put an arm around two of them and flashed another, toothy grin. Thom was beginning to think that he didn’t have another expression.

“Looking good,” Troy nodded to the girl on his right and, “Nice dress,” to the one on his left.

“Oh! Your highness!” blushed the first girl. That was odd. Thom knew that they called that one girl Queen but no one called her ‘Your majesty’.

“Do you really think so?” the second girl swooned, clutching the sides and swaying gently from side to side. A glint appeared in Troy’s eyes and he released his grip on the first girl so that he could further admire the dress.

“I do,” he confirmed finally. “In fact I think me and that dress should spend some more time together.”

That was all it took. The blush spread across her face until she was a similar shade to a beetroot and barely managed to stutter out an “Oh!” sound in reply. Troy took this as a yes to a question he hadn’t even needed to ask.

“Friday at eight it is!” he said cheerfully and slapped his hands together. He put a hand on Thom’s shoulder to steer him off again and the hushed voices of the girls followed them as they left. Troy pointed out a table in the middle of the room as their destination, but they didn’t get that far. Suddenly, their path was blocked by a surly looking boy who was flexing his muscles menacingly.

“Bryant,” Troy nodded at him politely.


There was a long pause where the two blond boys stared each other down but whereas Troy’s face remained pleasantly neutral, the boy called Bryant looked ready to kill. Finally he ground out a few words through clenched teeth.

“Buying your dates now?”

“No need, I’m naturally charming,” Troy laughed. “However, if you ask nicely I’ll use that charm and my mountains of gold to get you one.” Thom swore he heard a growl. “How much does a shiny new stick cost these days?”

“More than you can afford,” Bryant replied. The Prince wasn’t affected by this and merely patted the brute on the shoulder.

“Ha ha! I seriously doubt it.”

Without waiting to hear the response they were off again, this time in the direction of the door. Troy had apparently forgotten about the rest of people he had to see. Thom trudged along behind him and listened to his belly rumbling. It had been so long since dinner that he was already hungry again and he wished he hadn’t worn so many layers. The corridors were full of tired students, standing in little groups and making the place look untidy, but after a lot of loud coughing and shuffling through small spaces they arrived at the door to Balgren. On the other side of that door, it was like an entirely different school.

Tall glasses swung delicately from the lithe fingers of even taller women, sashaying around the room as though it was their personal cocktail lounge. In the corner there was a blonde girl staring wistfully out of the window whilst a tall boy with black hair stared wistfully at her. One of new first years that Thom had been standing with earlier was there too, talking to an older boy in a sharp suit about Quidditch. The girl that Troy had made a date with earlier was there too, nestled in between the superior figure of the ‘Queen’ he’d been introduced to earlier and the circle of women that accompanied her. Thom’s stomach rumbled and he considered slipping away to find something to eat, but Troy’s hand was already firmly on his shoulder directing him towards the fire and the gaggle of girls.

“Darling, Troy!” came the cooing voice of Calliope Katini, carrying above the chattering noise. Her entourage fell silent as the two boys settled themselves into the circle. Troy took her offered hand and graced it with a kiss and another charming grin.

“Miss Katini,” he greeted her. “You look as ravishing as ever. So sorry to hear about your bad luck with the OWLS.”

“I know, isn’t it simply awful?” Calliope replied, smoothing a crease from her skirt. Her OWL results had been well below average, even with the help of a very expensive private tutor. If she was concerned about her academic failings however she didn’t show it as when she looked up again she had a sparkling smile. “Alas, one must forebear.”

“And you do it so stylishly,” Troy assured her. His arm flopped over the side of the armchair, found a loose thread and started to pull. Thom found himself staring at the beautiful faces that comprised the circle, wondering how a second year boy could casually stroll in and make himself at home.

“Your sisters are well, I trust?” Calliope asked, noticing his idle hands.

“Quite spoilt, as always,” was Troy’s disinterested reply.

“Don’t forget to tell them how I miss them, will you?” she continued, tilting slightly forward and placing a hand on his knee.

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” he grinned. She smiled her acknowledgement and heaved a deep sigh.

“Well. I think it’s time I retired for the evening. Ladies.”

At the word the entire circle got to its feet, Troy included, and the long process of saying good night and air kissing everyone involved three times on each cheek started. Thom was mostly overlooked, to his relief.

“How do you know…everyone?” he asked, when they were the only ones left by the fire.

“Oh, you know,” Troy shrugged. When he noticed that his new house mate clearly didn’t know he sighed and conjured two glasses of amber liquid. “We’re all related,” he explained. “Calliope there, well I’ve known her since I was a baby. The Katinis are friends of the family, and I think we have some cousins in common somewhere. Pure blood families tend to stick together.”

“Oh. How come that girl called you ‘your Highness?’”

The light suddenly came back to Troy’s eyes. “Grace really told you nothing, did she?” he laughed. “I’m a Prince. A Russian Prince in fact. Don’t worry, though. I won’t make you grovel,” he winked. “Now. Drink up. You’ll need the fire in your belly to get you through this first week. Trust me.”

Thom looked into the glass and the overwhelming scent of the liquid hit the back of his throat. Whisky tasted like it sounded. He wondered what Troy meant about the first week and the fire and how he definitely should have written everything down.

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