Title: as to me directing like flame its eyes
Betty Braithwaite - October 18, 2011 10:08 AM (GMT)
Boredom yielded lethargy, as Betty was soon in the business of knowing; halfway through the morning's History of Magic, she was already tapping her fingers impatiently, and sneaking furtive glances at the clock. In front of her, the parchment lay draped over desk, completely unblemished by any ink - she had not even attempted to take notes today. Around her, her compatriots were in similar stages of hypnosis, some occasionally coming to long enough to scribble down some obscure fact about goblin revolts. By any standard, it was a dour mood.
Unable to take it any longer, she daintily got to her feet and cited the excuse of visiting the lavatories. Happily, she was granted this pardon, for Professor Binns was much too absorbed in his own voice to afford her more than a dismissive wave of his hand.
Outside, the air tasted sweet, and Betty gladly took refuge in the relative freedom she'd gained for a few minutes. Really, did any class have to be such a bore! Had she any articles to work on, she could have diverted herself otherwise, but unfortunately, subject matters had been recently scarce.
As she ruminated on possible future contents, she saw a figure ahead of her in the corridor. Strange - wasn't everyone in class right now? Could this be a potential story-in-the-making? She approached out of curiosity, and eventually recognized the boy for Nate Ulby from a distance.
"Oh," said she, adopting a friendly smile that was just slightly cloying. "Hi Nate."
Nathaniel Ulby - October 21, 2011 08:55 PM (GMT)
Whoever had convinced him to take Arithmancy - Smith - was a God-awful prat, if you asked Nate. Hawthorne had been droning on and on about the nature and characteristics of numbers and Nate, although studious and occasionally academically inclined when it came to things that interested him, had felt his eyes cross and known he was going to go crazy if he was in that classroom a single second longer. So he'd stood up as soon as the professor had paused to take a breath and said he had a really awful headache and that he was sorry but he thought he should go to the Hospital Wing and lie down. The professor had looked skeptical, but Nate had a knack for looking pathetic when he wanted to, and after a long moment he'd gotten permission to leave class.
Freedom had never tasted so sweet, he thought as he walked down the corridors, fully intent on avoiding the Hospital Wing (Spleen had probably seen enough of him already this term) and cutting over to the edge of the Forbidden Forest where he could study for an upcoming History of Magic test. Besides, he'd get the Arithmancy homework and answers and notes from Smith, part-payment for actually taking the class with him.
Barring some sort of life-changing experience with numbers, Nate was going to drop Arithmancy after fifth year faster than Kettleburn had dropped that Ashwinder that had tried to ignite itself the other day during Care of Magical Creatures.
He saw Betty coming down the hallway and was instantly on guard. Dawlish had been particularly touchy about Betty this time around, despite the fact that he was apparently going with that prefect with the curly hair, Whisp or something, and so everyone in both halves of their former gang had done their best to avoid her. Besides, who wanted to be slandered in the paper when you had midterms coming up to worry about?
"Hi Betty," he said with his usual grin, adjusting the strap to his bookbag so it hung higher on his shoulder, aware of his loose tie, untucked shirt, and shoes that really did need to be shined. Knowing Betty, she could probably make some sort of crazy story out of it. Hopefully she'd decide that he wasn't worth her time. Fourth years usually weren't - they hadn't had enough time to do the sorts of things that she liked to write about. Then he dragged his hand through his hair and went on the offensive. "Whatcha doin' out of class? I thought everyone had some sort of class right now."
Betty Braithwaite - November 6, 2011 04:30 AM (GMT)
"Oh, it's only History of Magic," Betty explained, as if no further elaboration was needed. And to her mind, this was true - everyone knew what dreadful dullness characterized the loathsome class. She treated the question conversationally, and had not lost her smile. "I told Binns I needed to visit the lavatory."
Her gaze raked over his form speculatively, her sharp eyes not at all missing the aforementioned loose tie and untucked shirt. She did not remark on it, however, and instead broadened her smile, maintaining her friendly and casual air. "And what about you?" she piped up. "Don't you have class too?"
She drifted somewhat closer to him, her hands held coyly behind her back all the while. Having been with Dawlish since the split of their gang, she was all too well acquainted with the two group dynamics and the antagonism that subsisted between them. But as she was not on particularly good terms with Jon right now, the fact that Nate was from the other group was not a serious detriment to her agreeableness. In fact, it was an additional incentive; it would be a perfectly delightful revenge were she to flirt with Ulby, and this she fully intended to do.
"Not causing trouble, are you?" she asked playfully.
Nathaniel Ulby - November 6, 2011 10:20 PM (GMT)
Nate made a face. For all that he spent much of his time catcalling the girls passing by in the hallways, the mysteries of the girls' lavatory were still the sort that he had no desire to learn anything more about.
It took most of his willpower to keep from stepping back when she stepped forward. Even Nate knew when someone was talking to him with a purpose, and he could see it in Betty. Of course, he might not be able to identify what that purpose was, but with Betty, was it ever anything besides finding more stuff to write about for the paper?
He ran his hand forward over his hair, trying to flatten it "'Course not," he said, a bit defensively, jamming both his hands into his pockets. "Just skippin' out on Arithmancy, you know?" He shrugged and glanced down the hallway, wondering what sort of story she might make out of him making a break for it. Nate had no desire to get beat up by Dawlish because Betty was talking to him, and was intent on keeping this conversation as short as possible.
Of course, he couldn't just run the fuck away down the hallway from Betty, but it was what he wanted to do.
Grinning, he added, "I've got an awful sort of headache."
Betty Braithwaite - November 20, 2011 01:11 AM (GMT)
"Ooh, a headache, how terrible," trundled out Betty, affecting a look of concern - whether this was feigned or not was not difficult to guess. "Do you get them often? Are they debilitating? My father, you know, gets headaches all the time, and he can't do anything but lay down for hours at a time! But it looks to me like you get on much better - they're not enough to put you down."
She was used to idle chatter, and constructing it from nothing; this was one of her foremost skills. She gave no indication of wanting to draw the conversation to a close, and in fact stepped even further closer, smiling blithely all the while.
"Did you say arithmancy? Oh, but that's such a difficult class, I'm sure - you must be very clever," she continued, her voice now flattering in the most conspicuous sense possible. "How are you finding it? Is Professor Hawthorne as strict as they say?"
Nathaniel Ulby - November 22, 2011 02:53 PM (GMT)
Well, he'd thought that his admission to cutting class was clear enough to drive a lorry through, but on second thought, Betty wasn't stupid and he was sure she knew exactly what he was doing. Probably before he even did it, too. But Nate, hardly ever at a loss for words, found himself unable to think of something to reply to her with, and so he just sort of shrugged and tugged the strap of his book bag further up his shoulder and used it as an excuse to take a step back, grinning right back.
"He's pretty awful," he told her casually, relieved at finally stumbling onto a topic that he could come up with an answer for. Nowhere near as bad as Professor Black, who seemed to have it out for him, but still bad enough (in Nate's bored, completely-uninterested-in-Arithmancy opinion) to make the class a misery. "You should be glad you're not takin' the class, Betty. Loads of homework and hardly enough time for Quidditch practice." In a desperate gamble, he added, "You said you're on your way to the lavatory, then?"
It wasn't that he thought Jon Dawlish was going to beat him for daring to talk to Betty (ha!), it was that he'd been planning to get on with studying for History of Magic instead of shooting the breeze with her.
Betty Braithwaite - December 19, 2011 11:27 PM (GMT)
"Oh yes," said Betty, not losing her smile in the least, and with some implied delicateness, "just as much as you're on your way to relieve your headache."
She was perhaps too shrewd to miss the comment for an excuse to cut short the conversation - but just because he wanted to leave didn't mean she intended to honor that desire. After all, she had inconvenience people much more, and for much less. Getting back at Dawlish was of strong importance, and now that she had already begun the venture, she was loathe to abandon the objective halfway through.
"But I'm so curious - why are you taking the class, then, if you dislike it so much?" she continued, churning out more conversation as her smile broadened. "Do you often," she added, as she drew perhaps uncomfortably close now, "do things that you don't like?"
Nathaniel Ulby - December 20, 2011 09:56 PM (GMT)
Christ, she was close. He'd already backed up once, though, and didn't really want to do it again. She probably knew that she was bothering him - and it was usually Nate who did that to girls rather than vice versa, which in itself was uncomfortable - but he was cursed with the awkward inability of fourteen-year-old boys to gracefully extract himself from a situation like this one. So he stuck around, hands in his pocket, and felt like Betty would just keep leaning forward as long as he kept leaning back.
Really, Nate was in no mood to explain the intricacies of relationships within the two halves of Dawlish's former gang, so he settled for a more mundane explanation. "Can't drop an elective until after OWLs," he said casually, doing his best not to take a step back. Really, he'd only started in Arithmancy because Smith had decided to take it and because the idea of Muggle Studies when he'd already grown up in a non-wizarding household was just ridiculous. "Didn't know I didn't like it until I was stuck, you know?"
At least there wasn't too long until he could fail the OWLs and drop the class, and until then there was copying Smith's homework to keep his grades up.
Betty Braithwaite - January 18, 2012 06:25 PM (GMT)
"Oh yes," agreed Betty, hands still clasped behind her back as she maneuvered closer, inch by inch, on the clearly uncomfortable boy. "It is really terrible to be stuck somewhere you don't want to be."
She didn't know, exactly, why she was emphasizing the awkwardness of the situation on Nate's side, as though for his benefit. Clearly it would not help her determined objective, which was to secure some kind of returned flirtation, be it in the form of a kiss or a smile or even a certain look in his eyes. But there was a peculiar enjoyment in creating tension, whether it was of the positive or negative form; tension was simply more exciting, a fact she had learned well from semesters' worth of defamatory articles. And the buildup of tension, well, had to lead somewhere - eventually. It had always been that way for Jon, and indeed, the two of them probably manufactured drama for each other sometimes, for the sake of a more uplifting reunification. It was a silly and immature enterprise, but one that Betty had yet to shake off in all of her youth.
Still, she thought she ought to get to the point, lest there be a danger that Nate ran off before she could do anything decisive. Accordingly, she smiled coyly at him, and became suddenly more direct. "Has anyone ever told you, Nate, that you're very, very handsome?"
Nathaniel Ulby - January 18, 2012 10:05 PM (GMT)
It really was pretty shitty to be stuck somewhere you didn't want to be, especially when it was with your back against the wall (metaphorically, anyway; Nate hadn't backed up that far yet) and Betty Braitwaithe smiling at you like she was a cat or something staring out a mouse she planned to have for dinner at her leisure. But he refused to take another step back and instead shrugged his shoulders, ducking his head so she couldn't see the discomfort on his face. Of course, it didn't occur to him that this was possibly how the girls he catcalled in the corridors felt, but he did think that he might be more careful to avoid Betty any more if he saw her coming along down the hallways.
"Yeah, as a matter of fact," he replied, a bit more defiantly than suavely. "Plenty of girls have." This was, of course, a bald-faced lie. Nate's experience was girls was more limited to whistling at them in the hallways or making completely inappropriate comments and getting glared at in return, as well as a few of the more scantily-clad posters pinned up on the walls of the dorms. (His personal favourite was a different Betty - Gable, that is.) "It's a great big list, don't you know," he added.
He looked back up and grinned at her as if nothing was wrong with the world. "What'd you say I walk you to the lav, then? It's on the way to the hospital wing, isn't it?"
Betty Braithwaite - January 19, 2012 12:48 AM (GMT)
Betty was surprised by his answer, having anticipated more awkward avoidance, given his previous backward steps. However, this gave her pause only momentarily; before long, she laughed heartily and appreciatively at his answer, as though he had just delivered the most witty retort she had ever heard. She was, after all, no stranger to boyish arrogance - if it was something she couldn't stand, she wouldn't have been able to date Dawlish for as long as she had.
At his next words, however, she pouted a little. She wasn't sure she was ready to leave, even if accompanied by him - what if he shook her off quickly, and nothing was accomplished? It would be a terrible waste.
"Well, I'd love that," said Betty, and then forced her pout away and summoned back the coy smile. Subtlety could be her forte, sometimes, when there was enough of an incentive (namely, a scandalous story in the making). But this was a short-term investment, and she really thought he ought to have caught on by now and given her a kiss or something - that would have been proper. To make her intentions better known, she widened her grin, and stepped even closer. "But...you know what I'd love even more?"
Nathaniel Ulby - January 19, 2012 04:19 AM (GMT)
Nate had thought he'd gotten her when she'd started pouting, and had been in the midst of mentally congratulating himself on successfully avoiding any sort of entanglement with Betty Braithwaite when suddenly that smile - the one that reminded him of a cat - was back. For Christ's sake! If it had been any - any - other girl, he would've responded better to her flirting, but even unbroken and reset, his nose still remembered what it felt like to be hit by Jon Dawlish, and he was sure that doing anything with Betty, cute as she was, would only end poorly on his part, thanks to Dawlish.
If Nate had known what a mine field was, he would have compared this situation to standing in the middle of one: anywhere he put his feet would likely end in blood and tears and an extremely necessary trip to the hospital wing. Not from Betty, of course, because he doubted she could hit him hard enough to make him bleed, but from her boyfriend.
"What is it, then?" he asked, stupidly matching the coyness in her tone, although his was a bit more mocking. He even leaned forward slightly, more frustrated with the situation than anything else and willing to tempt fate; he was already on the way to the hospital wing, anyway, so he might as well get it bloody well over with. Christ. Any other girl and he would've been over the moon about this! It just had to be Betty, the one girl at Hogwarts that he was essentially forbidden to look at twice on pain of death.
Betty Braithwaite - January 19, 2012 11:46 PM (GMT)
If Betty were a more selfless and objective sort of person, she might have considered the idea that Nate wasn't being reluctant out of naivete and disinterest, but out of a very well-founded fear of Dawlish's retribution. She even knew, all too well, that Jon was prone to such violence (and found it very charming and romantic). But this seemed absent in her mind when she analyzed his motives now - she only assumed it was a choice of his own volition, unassociated with the grander scheme of the Hufflepuff gang dynamics. For someone who did not often consider ramifications of her actions, she was hard-pressed to give others the same benefit.
In fact, his reluctance had made her more and more adamant about her objective. There was a streak of stubbornness in Betty, such that she was determined to succeed the more a task seemed set against her. The task, in this case, was to woo Nate Ulby.
She had been about to speak even more forwardly, when she realized that Nate was leaning forward. Caught off guard, for she had expected more reluctance given the trend, she was nonetheless pleased with this result, and put it off to her own charms. Without the slightest hesitation, she leaned forward as well, her grin disappearing only moments before she darted forward to kiss him - on the cheek. She pulled back just as quickly, a smirk lightening her features, as she quickly scanned his face for a reaction. Betty wasn't usually so forward, and preferred the traditional role of being sought after, but given their interaction, she really wasn't sure how long Nate would hold out, and it was best to cinch the deal before it became lost.
Nathaniel Ulby - January 20, 2012 03:12 AM (GMT)
Betty might have to settle for disappointment in the reaction for, as far as first kisses go, it wasn't exactly the most satisfactory first kiss in the history of first kisses. Then again, it was Nate's currently third-ranked desire to make sure that Betty didn't realise this was actually his first kiss from a girl (the first was to escape this fucking stupid situation and the second was to make sure that Dawlish never found out that it had happened). He forced himself to grin when she pulled away and wiped at his cheek with the back of his hand before sticking both into his pockets, shrugging as if nothing particularly important had just happened.
Christ, he hoped it remained on the rank of 'nothing particularly important' and didn't end in 'grievous bodily harm requiring a trip to the hospital wing.'
But he stayed where he was and didn't step back beyond wiping his cheek and moving his hands, hoping that, like you were supposed to do with wild animals trying to eat you, a show of bravery in the face of utter terror might frighten her away. "'S that it, then?" he asked cheekily. "'Cause it certainly wasn't too much if you ask me, Betty. Coulda done that a long time ago, really."
And, really, it would have lessened their chances of ending up getting caught cutting class, too, if she'd just come right out and essentially told him that she wanted to make sure his week was full of Dawlish's fists to the face before the end of it. Just what he'd always wanted to result from the first time a girl kissed him, really.
Betty Braithwaite - January 21, 2012 04:00 AM (GMT)
Betty's grin instantly soured when he dismissed the kiss. It had been a playful gesture, rather than a genuinely romantic one; in fact, she had meant it to be teasing a little, kissing only his cheek, to see if it'd catch him off guard. The intent had been to flirt with Nate only, not win his fancy or liking - nevertheless, it irked her that he would react so coolly. Had he been appropriate surprised or flattered - which Betty, in her minor vanity, expected - she would have left it at that and been on her way. But rather riled now, she was determined to push something greater.
Smoothing away her frown, she forced her smile back into place. "Well," she began, in passingly dulcet tones, "if it 'wasn't much,' maybe you could do better. I could sure learn from - an expert."
Her eyebrows rose with the challenge, and she looked expectantly back at him as if he was now supposed to demonstrate some magnificent feat. She had not stepped back in the least, throughout all of their interaction, and even when she had pulled back from the kiss was she still lingering very, very close to him. Uncomfortably so, even - but that was intentional.
Nathaniel Ulby - January 23, 2012 10:27 AM (GMT)
He thought it was a good thing when she frowned, that he'd managed to fluster her enough that she'd just leave him alone already and let him cut class in peace. But, unfortunately, Nate was about to learn that Betty Braithwaite was not so easily avoided when she had her mind set on something, even if it was something so stupid as to make him appreciate a kiss from here.
It was especially unfortunate because he never would, because it was pretty much guaranteed to end with a trip to the Hospital Wing for Nate and whatever it was that Betty saw in Dawlish for her. Ick.
"Never said I was an expert, did I?" he shot back, forcing his own grin despite the fact that she was still far too close for him to feel comfortable with any of this. Of course, it never crossed his mind that this might be how the girls he whistled at in the hallways felt, or the way he'd made Dieter Nettles feel when he'd walked in on her with her blouse halfway unbuttoned.