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Grace, Leo, Orion, Randy, Thom & Troy
Sun Aug 9, 2015 02:05

It was a pleasant late autumn afternoon, the lawns and gardens of Aelcrest were filled with students laughing and playing. The lake was calm and placid, giving it a strange eeriness. In the distance the crumbling ruins of an old castle stood on a hillside and near to it a few bent and gnarled trees, their charred branches reaching for each other in the blinding light of the afternoon sun, marked where a forest had once stood. It was a nice enough day, so it wasn't unusual to find two boys walking out by the lake, the older one pointing out things to the other one in tour guide fashion.
Thom, the younger one, had none of the hints of animal blood that Randy or their sister had. Rather he had the round, open and honest looking face that pervaded his father’s lineage. His hair was a regular black and his eyes a dark brown. He was dressed in sensible clothes and currently had his hands in his pockets, trying his best not to look bored.
“Yeah. That’s great Randy really but what about all the cool stuff?”
Randy stopped and looked confused “Cool stuff?” This was the cool stuff.
“Come on, we’re in a magical school. Where are all the dinosaurs and dragons and things trying to eat us. You know, the cool stuff like Grace was talking about.”
“Since when do you believe everything Grace tells you, Thom. You know she was just saying that.”
“Oh yeah, then how come she only said it when Mom wasn't listening?”
“I don’t know, why didn't she say anything when Dad was listening either? Grace is a girl. Girls are weird.”
At the same moment Grace and Orion set off down the lawns towards the ‘safe’ area by the lake, the younger eager to explore the grounds and the older eager to get rid of her. The bridge stood firmly marking one side of the boundary and even in the sunlight the red mark shimmered like a force field in between Aelcrest students and the ghosts of the old Hogwarts children.
They finally stopped by the lakeside and began unrolling their towels, just as the boys had gathered to meet them there. Around them were several other groups, also taking advantage of the sunshine. There was a small game of Quidditch happening not far away and Orion’s eyes lingered longingly on the scene before finally flopping down onto her towel.
“Now this rocks,” Orion sighed happily, flipping her sunglasses down and trying to position herself in a way that would catch as many of the sun’s precious rays as possible.
Grace chose the grass, sans blanket. She wore a black suit with a blue band around the middle, but wore jeans over it, not wanting anyone to see her legs. She also wore sunglasses, because as everyone knows, when you’re by the water, you gotta wear sunglasses.
“Yeah, it’s not bad,” she agreed, placing her hands behind her and leaning back on them. “Gives a good view anyway. Just watch out for the dorks. I swear some kids think it’s funny to practice water jinxes.”
As if to prove her point, one of the older years came out of the lake. He was purple. His friends were laughing and he couldn't seem to understand why. As they pointed and laughed, he turned and looked at his reflection in the water. Unfortunately enough, his reflection wasn't the one with the skin tone problem.
“Hey guys,” Randy greeted them, throwing a basket down onto Orion’s blanket unceremoniously.
Grace didn't even bother looking up at them. “Guys, Orion Hardy, Orion, these two geeks belong to me. Geek number 1 you already know…” Randy nodded, used to being addressed this way. “Geek number two is Thom”
“Yo!” Orion lifted her hand, not glancing up through her sunglasses or moving her head to look. She was far too interested in the Quidditch game that she was not-so-subtly watching out of the corner of her eye.
“Is that guy purple?” Randy asked. Thom looked towards where his brother pointed.
“It’s more Heliotrope. Orchid. Maybe Mulberry.” Randy stared at him.
“What?” Thom asked.
“You’re a guy.” Randy said, sounding very much like Grace at the moment.
“Yes. And?”
“Yes. It’s a type of purple.”
“You’re a guy…,” Randy insisted
“I heard you the first time. So what?”
“So? Helicopter is not a colour. Purple is purple is purple.”
“Ah, knock it off.” Randy took a swipe at his brother, who ducked it and smacked him back.
Orion’s view was suddenly stifled by a dark grey cloud and she didn't even have to look up to know who had come to rain on her day. “Leo,” she acknowledged him dully. “What do you want?” Leo dropped down beside his little sister, rolling out his own towel as he did.
“I'm here for the party,” he smiled at her and saw Grace on the other side casting him a sideways glance. He frowned but he guessed that Orion hadn't let her go easy and she hadn't been expelled yet, per her promise good by one liquorice wand. It was part of the reason he’d taken Randy up on his offer for an afternoon by the lake, just to keep an eye but he’d taken the precaution of putting some extra safe protection spells on his ears.
“Ug,” replied Orion and flipped her sunglasses down to ignore him.
“Well, good afternoon,” came a smooth voice from beside Grace, “How is my lovely Miss Schuler today?” Troy gave her a boyish grin and purposefully sat down beside her. “Are there any olives in there?” he asked Randy who gave him a quizzical look. Troy shrugged and conjured some. It was the sort of spell his mother had made sure he’d learnt. Grace held out a hand to Troy.
“Doin’ great as always dear ol’ Bastrova. Come on and join us why don’t ya?”
She smiled at him, a smile that, if they’d been older and Grace wasn't able to take them both on and win, would have made her brothers decidedly less friendly to Troy. As it was she watched as Randy gave Troy a decidedly wary look.
So the six sat by the lake, grabbing whatever they could out of the basket (Randy’s idea of cooking was limited to PB&J sandwiches and leftovers he’d palmed from the previous three meals) and conjuring up the rest. And there was really nothing to differentiate kids more than their eating habits. In between bites they talked, occasionally arguing over who was responsible for the various pranks of last year and the plans for this year. Talk of the summer was fairly closed. After all, who really wants to talk about their boring lives, with their boring parents? Which is how talk led right back to that spot.
Grace had already taken half a jam sandwich, smashed it flat so that the jam soaked through the bred and bitten into it before point at the bridge. “Okay, so whose up for betting? That line, right there and back. First tp make it wins.”
Orion sat up straight and grinned. “I’ll take that!” she said, getting up and beginning to stretch her legs in preparation. Even as she stood she could feel Leo’s stare of disapproval. “What?” she looked at him scathingly. “It’s just a race!”
He laughed. She obviously didn't know Schuler as well as he did. “It’s not a leg race stupid,” he retorted. “You’re a witch - remember? What are your terms Schuler?” he shot at Grace.
Grace shrugged, looking bored with this whole thing (though she caught Troy’s eyes, and gave him a sideways grin )
“It’s not like it’s hard, Hardy.” She put extra emphasis on his last name. What, was she supposed to be intimidated because he couldn't use her first name? There were two other Schulers there.
“Just pick something and chuck it hard’s ya can to the red line ‘n back here. Whoever gets furthest wins.”
It was pretty obvious what Leo thought about that idea.
“If you’re gonna be all stuck up about it, I’ll even let you’re sister have first go and you get to pick what the losers prize is all right?”
Randy’s brain had started itself up before the she’d even finished laying out the plan by the time she had finished, he’d already gotten the idea.
No,he tried to tell her,nNot again. You’ll get us all in worse trouble.
Of course, whoever said twins share a psychic bond, was stupid. If Grace or Randal Schuler had ever telepathically communicated, they had completely outgrown it by the time they started talking. Either that, or Grace had just gotten really good at ignoring him. Orion took centre stage determinedly. Leo spent the whole time shooting glares between Grace and her back.
“I can’t believe you Schuler!” he hissed at her, after taking her slightly aside from Troy’s whose pretty boy act looked like it was getting to her.
Grace seemed completely unconcerned. “What?! It‘s just fun and games.”
“Loser…loser’s forfeit to be determined later” he said slyly. “Remember your promise!”
“Yes father dearest,” she said, teeth bared.
She went back and whispered something to her brothers. Together they watched the balls rocket towards the line.
Orion looked at the line, hazy in the afternoon sun, then at the ball she planned to ‘chuck’ magically at it. How the blazing hell am I supposed to…oh blaze… She giggled to herself as she remembered the one spell that came to her naturally.
“Okay, watch this,” she grinned. “Ignus opus!” she aimed her wand at the ball which suddenly lit itself and began to fizz quickly like it was about to go off. She heard everyone hold their breath, except Leo who had seen this go off in a certain sweater-wrecking school boy’s face, and grinned. It shot off, whizzing through the air, exploding fireworks on its way and landing neatly less than a meter from the line. She grinned and turned to the group shaking her curls with victory. “Beat that Leo.”
She plonked herself next to Grace and Leo took her place. He hardly needed to think but tossed a new ball in the air and hit it smartly with a shoot of water from his wand. Even though it was a perfect shot and could have hit the line no problem it landed at least a meter behind Orion’s burnt ball. “Damn,” he said unfeelingly. “You’re up Troy.”
“Just watch this pretty eyes” he said smoothly to Grace giving her his extra special wink and boyish grin. He took his place where Leo was and aiming his own small directly at the line. He shot at it with twisting vines, the last vine snapping the ball right against the line where it frazzled and dropped an inch behind it. “Huh,” he shrugged. “They made the force field a little stronger than I remember from last year huh?” he turned round and bowed for Grace to step up. “Your turn beautiful.”
Grace stood and took her wand out. “All right boys…and you,” she added nodding to Orion. “Let me show you how it really works.”
She rolled her shoulders and hitched up her jeans. Randy and Thom glanced at each other, then the others, and moved backwards a few steps. Just in case.
Grace stood to one side and aimed straight at her ball. She barked out her spell. There was none of the fizzle and flash of Ri’s idea but the sound it made defiantly rivalled hers. More spectacular was the line’s fizzling reaction to it, and that the slightly steaming lump of ballness made it two inches before dropping.
“Next victim.” She announced with some pride.
“Oh hell no,” said Randy. “You ain’t getting me near that thing again.”
“Stop being a baby.”
“When you stop being stupid.” he countered.
“Fine. Thom you’re up.”
Her younger brother eagerly scampered up to take his term. He held his wand out and narrowed his eyes, staring from the line, to where the other balls sat, and back. After what felt like an enormous amount of time, Grace shouted “Just shoot already.” Randy elbowed her in the ribs. She pretended not to notice but shut up anyway.
He aimed his wand and fired. The resulting little earth shake may have had something to do with the distance, but his spell was more simplistic than that. In fact, Randy suggested later that he would have had better luck just throwing the ball, or whacking it with a bat. Still the ball gotta up and weaved over to the line. It landed right between the Hardy siblings attempts, and even nudged Ri’s just a bit closer to the edge as it rolled to a stop.
That left Leo as the loser. Just as he’d planned. He sighed – the things he did for his sister. When was he going to learn that she had to look out for herself and that he couldn't always protect her? As it was, it could have been worse. He got to choose his own dare.
“Well I could…” he started, meaning to carry on with something mundane, unexciting and non-expulsion worthy but his sister butted in.
“I think you should steal one of the teachers brooms from the cupboard under the stairs in the hall” she said, folding her arms and giving him a definitely evil look.
“That’s stupid,” he pointed out. “It’s locked and guarded by that little house elf Moppy and Blackwell would have my neck if it was hers. Just because I'm not in her house doesn't mean she wont expel me!” Orion frowned at him, like he was being cowardly to not risk being expelled.
“What about the potions cupboard?” Troy asked from the background. “It’s not locked and Professor Ethaire is a ditz outside class.”
Leo gulped, there was no excuse for that one. He saw Orion’s eyes glinting evilly at him. He hated cupboards and any small place you could get trapped in ever since the day his Mum had asked him to get her broom before forgetting he was in there, locking it and going to the shops in the car. He’d been in there the whole afternoon before his Dad had finally got him out. He could feel Grace and Orion’s eyes on him like twin demons.
“Fine,” he said finally and he caught Ri giving a little punch with her fist in delight, “What do you want me to take?”
That wasn't too hard Grace thought. She was chewing on the nail of her left index finger before Leo had finished his question. She remained that way for a while, staring very intently at nothing. Then, she stopped. And smiled.
Oh yes. This could work.
She jumped up and looked at the rest of them.
“We gotta get to the library.” She announced.
Her brothers stared at her.
Grace did not do libraries. In fact, for the longest time, Thom had been convinced that Grace couldn't read. She only went to look things up on the internet.
“You wanna what now?” Randy sputtered out.
“Lie-brair-ee,” his sister said. “Yeah know, big rooms. Full of books.”
“Yes, I know but…you want to go there?”
She had already begun to walk back toward the manor. “Are you guys coming or not?”
Thom scrambled up and began to follow. “You’re not gonna set this one on fire too are you?”

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