Title: wild goose chase;
Professor Black - October 9, 2011 04:48 PM (GMT)
Cedrella honestly wasn't certain how it had come to this. What had begun as an innocent request for assistance from a colleague had turned into a trek into the Forbidden Forest -- at night -- in October. It was damp, cold, and she was beginning to wonder why she hadn't protested sooner. When Kettleburn had said he needed her help she'd felt cornered; professionally speaking she couldn't turn him down, even if personally speaking she thought he was an alarming individual at best. It was naive of her to presume that he meant to ask for her expertise or knowledge, but that was the impression he had given.
She'd expected him to want her to look over examination papers, to see if there were acceptable. Perhaps to proof-read something on his behalf, because it wouldn't have surprised her to find that a man willing to lose his finger might also have trouble reading. The moment he took her outside and not to his office she ought to have been suspicious.
No, she'd thought. It can't be. Even Kettleburn wouldn't. Oh, but he would. Two feet behind him, Cedrella's icy blue eyes were shooting daggers at the back of his head. She was cold, her shoes were not appropriate, and there was definitely something rustling nearby.
"I think something is following us," she informed him, tearing her gaze from him to look nervously into the darkness. The hint of alarm in her voice was almost drowned out by the heavy dose of blame that covered it. I think something is following you. Even the trees seemed to reach for her -- she'd found herself snagged on them on numerous occasions, and she was certain she had an enormous run in at least one of her stockings. Every chirp and snap and rustle made her heartbeat rise just a hair. Cedrella didn't like to think that she was an easily frightened sort of woman -- certainly she didn't often find people intimidating -- but she was nervy about the unpredictable. There was little that was less predictable than the Forbidden Forest and its inhabitants, and, she found with chilling clarity, that the very last place she wanted to end her days was up to her ankles in muck with Silvanus Kettleburn.
With her head turned she wasn't looking where she was going, and a root -- curled up, doubtless, with mischievous intent -- tripped her neatly. She stumbled over it, regaining her balance with all the grace and poise of a newborn foal tottering -- and then scowled, dusting herself off noisily.
"What do you even need me for? I don't know anything about forest creatures."
If she had paid the slightest bit of attention to the way they had come into the forest, Cedrella might have turned and stormed back out of it then and there -- but she hadn't. She'd been too busy fussing and sulking and glowering at Kettleburn to note whether they'd even come in a straight line, and while she knew roughly that the castle was behind them somewhere, the forest was vast and hadn't been convenient enough to grow in a straight line.
She needed him to show her the way back.
Behind them a twig snapped loudly, and Cedrella started -- closing the distance between them in three short, swift steps, and grabbed the crook of his elbow, more than prepared to use him as a human shield the moment it became necessary.
Professor Kettleburn - October 9, 2011 08:25 PM (GMT)
Kettleburn, despite all his absent minded tendencies, was still quite the clever bastard. Perhaps not clever in a way one might think of a studious Ravenclaw, but rather witty and even cunning if it ever came down to that. Today had been one of those days. A Third Year Girl had gotten so frightened in his class last week, that had ended becoming a sea of tears. Decidedly uncomfortable with feminine tears, Kettleburn had been swift to promise her a unicorn ride and a nice chocolate bar if she was a good girl and stopped crying. Like it always occurred, Kettleburn only reflected on his promise after the girl had skipped off happily with her friends, chattering excitedly at the fun of riding an unicorn.
In his defense, he did try to lure the Unicorns from the Forbidden Forest by himself, but he knew better than to expect positive results. Adult unicorns preferred the company of human females, and Kettleburn was certainly not a female, much less the innocent maidens described in text. Even he was sane enough to know that using a student to lure an animal was out of the question, even if he was fairly certain he wouldn’t lack volunteers. Of the faculty, the only one who seemed to fit the role was Cedrella Black, but he doubted she would agree if he told her straight up what he wanted her to do. So, he asked for her help, being as vague as he could, and keeping silent as he led her into the Forbidden Forest.
The former dragonologist greatly enjoyed the Forbidden Forest. There was something about this place that set it apart from all the places he had ever been, and he quite enjoyed to come here whenever he needed some peace of mind. Of course, it was evident that his fellow teacher wasn’t as fond of the outdoors as he was, and he could hear her complaining, although almost like a back noise. The noises she was paranoid about, he was sure they belonged to some harmless forest dwellers. He promptly ignored her first complained that they were being followed, and curved his lips into a small smile when she claimed she had no knowledge of creatures whatsoever. “Don’t worry Cedrella, I’m sure your help will be very useful regardless.”
Busy as he was locating the clearing where Unicorns dwelled, he could hear a distant noise and in a second Cedrella was gripping his arm tightly. Letting out an amused laughed, he finally turned around to examine his surroudings. “Don’t worry, it’s just Joe the Clabbert.” He said, signaling to a tree with a bright red spot flashing among it’s foliage. “They’re harmless, he won’t try anything.” He said, finally recognizing the clearing a few feet away. “Come on, we’re almost there.” He claimed pleasantly, resuming walking.
Professor Black - October 9, 2011 09:25 PM (GMT)
"I -- his name is Joe?" Cedrella did not believe for a moment that they would not try anything. "I think he just tripped me, Professor."
Her strict adhesion to formality was a veiled jab at what she perceived to be over-familiarity on his part. Where she was from first names were reserved for family members and perhaps suitors one actually liked -- and even though she and Kettleburn had been colleagues for a year, she expected him to adhere to those rules. Merlin, if he could give the Clabbert a proper name, he could remember to use hers.
Still attached to his arm, when he moved forward again Cedrella was tugged gracelessly along with him -- and she had to adjust her stride to accommodate his, which was much longer. What did he mean, she might be able to help him anyway?
As her mind began to chew over that dubious phrase, she realised that she was likely as not supposed to be -- "Professor Kettleburn, am I bait?"
The question was asked with a degree of incredulity, as though Cedrella could not quite believe that she had been moved in all seriousness to ask it. The more she considered it though, the more likely it seemed -- what other use could she possibly be?
She hadn't taken Care of Magical Creatures as a child, and her dealings with regard to unicorns pertained exclusively to wand cores and other such derivative items. She had no idea what the criteria was to catch one because Cedrella had never been interested in the things that typical little girls were interested in. Doubtless her younger sister would have been able to explain in great detail how one might attract and ensnare such a beast, but Cedrella -- Cedrella had never really cared for them at all.
Her grip on his arm tightened as if to punctuate the question, and then she let him go and stopped walking, folding her arms with an air of finality.
Professor Kettleburn - October 23, 2011 05:42 AM (GMT)
Watching attentively a bright red spot flitting about in one of the trees before it disappeared from sight, he switched his attention back to his companion before finally settling in a clearing that looked like it might serve his purpose. “I doubt that, Clabberts are shy creatures. You probably just tripped with a twig.” He said quite offhandedly, not really catching on to her dislike on the way he addressed her.
Stopping his steps when he had reached the clearing, vaguely aware of Cedrella’s indignant tone and her tightened grip on his arm. “Well, I wouldn’t use the word bait…” He said distractedly, observing his whereabouts carefully. He trailed off, not really caring to elaborate in detail about what he wanted her to do exactly. He might be far from having Slytherin qualities, but Kettleburn had learnt a thing or two about manipulating situations in his favor in all his years.
After he was done with making his calculations, he disentangled himself from the Astronomy teacher and took a few steps back. “I really just need you to stand there and look like an innocent maiden until some adult unicorns appear,” He explained himself, taking a few steps back into the forest. “There was a Third year girl who wouldn’t stop wailing until I promised her Unicorns and I doubt Dippet would allow me to ask for a student’s help with the task.”
It really wasn’t unlike Silvanus to quickly give in whenever there were feminine tears involved, and he seldom stopped to think whenever he found himself promising anything. Of course, Silvanus Kettleburn seldom thought about most of the things he did, or he would still have a full set of fingers.
Professor Black - October 23, 2011 03:57 PM (GMT)
"Try to look like -- what do you think I look like?" Cedrella hissed over her shoulder at him, prodded unwillingly into the clearing only by virtue of the fact that it was unicorns they were after, and not anything traditionally known as man eating. "If the students have tantrums you ought to punish them," she added vehemently, though still in a strained whisper. "Mr Kettleburn?"
The sound of him had faded away, and as the wind rustled the surrounding forest Cedrella felt suddenly as though she was very much alone. She shifted her weight nervously from one foot to the other, shivering a little. She told herself it was the cold, but silently extracted her wand from her sleeve just the same.
It seemed like aeons passed, and Cedrella was almost ready to make an exasperated comment when a twig snapped in the distance. She started visibly, because more often than not the sound of hooves in the Forbidden Forest signified centaurs, not unicorns -- but then she spotted it. A glimmer of gold and silver, and then a much larger, brilliantly white shape that followed. Two of them -- a mother and foal, it looked like.
Cedrella, stricken by the sheer size of the larger one, didn't dare move. The little one had no horn, and seemed considerably less wary. It gambolled into the open despite a discouraging snort from its mother, and stopped, ears forward, to regard Cedrella with large brown eyes.
"Oh," Cedrella croaked, and then, without daring to turn her head to try to find Kettleburn, she said "what... do I do?"
Professor Kettleburn - October 31, 2011 06:06 PM (GMT)
“Like a sweet, innocent maiden, I mean” He corrected with a cheeky grin as he walked away into a nook within the trees to keep an eye out for unicorns. He wasn’t quite sure if his plan would work, but he was hoping that Black would make an acceptable bait, as opposed to the classically sweet and gentle maids that are said to attract unicorns.
He observed Cedrella stand there with amusement yet with the tenseness of a hunter, his every fiber waiting for any sound to alert him of his target. The rustling leaves caught his attention also, and he watched pleased as two unicorns approached Cedrella. Surely, there would be no wailing girls in tomorrow’s lesson, he thought gleefully.
Grinning widely, he moved carefully out of his hiding place. As surprising as it was, Kettleburn was actually quite careful when he set himself to the task. He would have lost more body parts if he hadn’t learned that in all of his years handling dragons and various other creatures. “Capture them.” He mouthed as he got in her eyesight, careful not to be noticed by the creatures.
Of course, he didn’t expected Cedrella to be able to do that by herself, and he had planned to be the one in charge of capturing all along, but it was fun to ruffle the normally composed feathers of Cedrella Black.
Professor Black - November 1, 2011 11:53 PM (GMT)
Cedrella had raised a nervous hand, though it wasn't to reach out to the unicorns so much as it was a gesture to try to get them to stop. The little one absolutely did not read it as such, however, and had stepped forward and stuffed his nose into her palm before she could so much as recoil. For a moment she was frozen on the precipice of horror, not because unicorns were frightening, but because it was completely unfamiliar. She had touched horses before, but never one that was wild -- and she could count the number of times on one hand. Animals simply hadn't been a large part of her life. After a second, she realised it wasn't in the least bit unpleasant. Heart still pounding, her fingers curled, and she began to gently scratch the foal's nose with one red-painted nail.
The unicorn's ears flitted forwards, and for a moment Cedrella had forgotten she had been dragged into the forest by a madman short several fingers. When Kettleburn spoke, and said he intended to catch the unicorn, she turned to look at him incredulously.
"You can't do that," she told him in no uncertain terms, "that's -- you -- I won't allow it."
Cedrella couldn't quite find the words to vocalise her objection, as it wasn't often in the past she had been moved to speak on anyone's behalf. There was no way to manipulate this situation, and so she found herself floundering -- she didn't want to admit that she felt sorry for them, but she did. She justified her harsh detentions in two ways that allowed for the hypocrisy -- one, the children who were given them had earned them and two, they were hard work, but hardly torture. She didn't -- imprison them forever! Or -- force them to be paraded for crying little girls!
She turned back. "Go on -- shoo -- go away," she tried, somewhat feebly, to encourage the little foal back to its mother, but he hardly moved -- reaching instead to nip curiously at her sleeve. Cedrella, who had even expected herself to react disdainfully to such a motion, found that she was much more swayed by how cute it was than she would ever be prepared to admit.
"Oh," was all she said on the subject, and furrowed her brow helplessly.
Professor Kettleburn - November 7, 2011 07:06 PM (GMT)
Had Silvanus had a camera with him, he would have made sure to snap a couple of pictures for posterity. Watching the normally composed and stern Astronomy instructor surrounded by unicorns was a sight he would be sure to remember. He snorted to himself when she told him she wouldn’t allow him to capture the unicorns. He had taken on fully grown dragons by himself. A woman was certainly not going to tell him what to do.
He offered a defiant grin and lifted his wand, casting a silvery rope towards the creatures. Despite his rough nature, Kettleburn wasn’t ignorant to the delicate and almost ethereal nature of the unicorns, and made sure to use a charm that wouldn’t harm or disrupt the creatures, just numb them down slightly. As much as Black wasn’t her favorite person in the world, he didn’t want her to get stomped by an unicorn.
“Well,” He said satisfactorily “I think we’re done here.”
Professor Black - November 12, 2011 03:48 PM (GMT)
"No -- Kettleburn!" Cedrella was indignant, "can't you just have a class in the evening, and bring them out here to see them? Finite incantatem!"
The woods around them were beginning to rustle, and, having ended the spell, Cedrella turned nervously to look into the trees. If the unicorns were concerned about their potential capture, they didn't much show it. Kettleburn's spell had soothed them both to the point of utter docility. The mother flicked her ears forward in anticipation of whatever was making the noise, but the little one was oblivious, and nudged his head against Cedrella's hip.
"...Aren't there centaurs in the forest?" Cedrella was quite sure that if there were, they were probably monstrous. She didn't afford anything with a horse's body any potential humanity -- much as she stopped considering werewolves and vampires as people, too. It was lucky that her exposure to such individuals was non-existent, really.
She lowered her wand slowly, deciding that petty arguments with Kettleburn paled in comparison to the prospect of being trampled to death by horse men.
Professor Kettleburn - December 3, 2011 03:53 AM (GMT)
“Black,” Silvanus sighed in mild annoyance as she undid his spell, and thought perhaps the Astronomy Teacher hadn’t been the smartest choice for bait. “I think it’s called Forbidden Forest for something. We cannot have classes here.” Honestly, he would have thought she knew better the school rules than him, even if he had been longer at his teaching post than her. There was always something quite dull about stuffy regulations that prevented him to pay attention to them. He casted the rope charm once again and gave her a smirk. He wasn’t tired, and he felt like he could keep this game for a while.
He looked back at her companion and nodded lazily. “Yes, but they dwell deeper on the Forest.” Truth be told, Kettleburn’s encounters with the Centaurs of the Forbidden Forest had been limited, since they weren’t all that fond of humans. He didn’t even look up to find the source of the noise, since he was quite certain it was nothing to worry about. “I think that’s probably just Joe.” he said, then added in a teasing tone. "Unless you're frightened, Black."
Professor Black - December 8, 2011 11:25 PM (GMT)
"Why wouldn't I be frightened?" Cedrella hissed at him, incredulous. "The rest of us have a fairly healthy attachment to our -- limbs! You can tell that girl to stop having tantrums," she said, and folded her arms with what amounted to a well-practised air of finality.
She moved to walk away purposefully, and made it all over four steps before she realised the smallest of the two unicorns was following her like a lost dog, stepping in her footprints as though it were all a grand game. Its mother, bemused but no more ill at ease, followed at a reasonable distance.
"Shoo," Cedrella turned, and tried to little effect to dismiss the unicorn. "Be... be gone, get. Go!"
Professor Kettleburn - February 16, 2012 04:50 AM (GMT)
Silvanus looked down at his missing finger and shrugged briefly. “Then I’d suggest you didn’t undo my charms so we can get out of her faster.” He said matter-of-factly, flat out ignoring the jab at his maimed hand. Kettleburn was a man who tended to act first and question later, and he often had to suffer the consequences for it. But then again, Kettleburn wasn’t prone to regrets either, so he really had no sort of concerns about lacking body parts.
He watched with delight as the creatures followed the Astronomy Teacher, and had to bite back a grin at her weak attempts to scare the creatures off. “Just let them follow you, Black.” He said, herding the creatures with his presence to hurry their step. “You can come back with me tomorrow night to set them free.” He said in a teasing tone. He doubted the prim and proper young woman would want to come back to the dark and dangerous forest. Silvanus, on his part, would be relieved not to have to put up with Cedrella’s sarcastic comments and complaining, as amusing as they proved to be.