Title: the definition of irony
Abner Yaxley - January 21, 2012 02:15 AM (GMT)
Abner had always thought it was rather amusing that so many of the Knights of Walpurgis - Merlin, that name - were such talented Defence Against the Dark Arts students, since, he supposed, in the future it would be them that other students were defending themselves against. He had always been the unpaired sixth year Slytherin in NEWT-level Defence, and it had never really bothered him; it wasn't difficult for Abner to drift from partner to partner, befriending people and otherwise encouraging the friendly reputation he'd spent his time carefully cultivating.
Unfortunately, Professor Merrythought had assigned partners for this particular exercise. It wasn't usually unfortunate, really, but she had somehow managed to stumble on someone that he wasn't terribly excited to be partnered up with.
Decimus Mulciber, stoic and generally accepted even by Slytherins (Abner among them) as intimidating, was usually Foras Rosier's partner, and Abner was more than happy to leave things that way. There was a stability in the partnerships and alliances among Tom Riddle's group of friends, so far as they could be described that way, and he had no desire to upset it at risk to his own position, despite the fact that it was currently distinctly lower than Rosier's own.
The assignment was to completely shield a small wooden box so that its contents were protected and so that it could be neither broken nor spelled into without its owner opening it. Abner had gone and collected the box from the front of the room - he wasn't willing to wait and see if Decimus planned to move, nor was he certain how fast his classmate actually was - and brought it back to Mulciber's desk, his usual friendly smile in place, even for Decimus.
"What an interesting assignment," he said, setting the box down rather carelessly so that its edges clattered against the desktop, opting for casual conversation over anything else. "But I suppose the best way to know how to get through a ward is to know how to make it."
Decimus Mulciber - January 21, 2012 02:42 AM (GMT)
He was not terribly put out by the assigned partners, and having recently been paired in Herbology with Euphemia Atlas, the slatternly Gryffindor, he was well aware that he could have done worse than to be assigned Yaxley. As the class began buzzing with movement he remained in his seat while his partner moved to collect the box that would be the focus of their project, maintaining a stoic expression, with wand already in hand.
"It will certainly prove interesting," inclining his head by way of a greeting, even in company that he did not find entirely objectionable he was not one for an excess of words. His expression did not so much as twitch to mirror Yaxley's, but he did move over to make room for the other at their desk.
Abner Yaxley - January 21, 2012 02:49 AM (GMT)
Abner neither sighed nor rolled his eyes at Mulciber's level of enthusiasm, although he certainly would have liked to have been able to. But there were appearances to maintain and an assignment to finish, and Merlin help him if Mulciber was just going to stand there the entire time and look as if he was at the funeral of someone he hadn't known very well nor had liked terribly much.
He flipped to the chapter on wards and almost laughed at how basic they were compared to the ones he'd been studying in his spare time; if wards were going to be a major part of the NEWTs, he apparently didn't need to worry. So instead of asking Decimus if he knew anything about the assignment, he tapped an absent rhythm on the desktop with his wand, considering which ward he'd like to lay down first. Professor Merrythought would almost certainly disapprove of something that would take off fingers, which was really too bad, as Abner would have liked to work on that one.
"Hopefully as interesting as anything," he said non-committally. "It's been too long since we've talked, Decimus. Tell me, how have you been?" Any first years tormented? Mudbloods mysteriously pushed down staircases? Toys broken? He was, of course, too interested in his own self-preservation to say anything aloud, but he had to admit that he was impressed by Mulciber's ability to cover his tracks.
Decimus Mulciber - January 21, 2012 03:15 AM (GMT)
Similarly, Decimus had turned to the page on wards. The project did not seem particularly inspiring, and he thought for a moment that it would only be too simple. Though not normally one to devote any unnecessary efforts to his classes, Defense Against the Dark Arts was almost something of an exception, if only for the same reason that many of the people he associated with devoted their efforts to it. Though admittedly he was more expert in the area of hexes and jinxes than the sort of defensive magic required by wards, it hardly seemed strenuous.
He did not begrudge Yaxley the pleasantries and small-talk that he may have for someone else. Due to the nature of the circle they both ran in it was only expected that these things would need to be addressed from time to time, and it was appropriate for the situation. "I have been well. How have you been, Abner?" still, he did not see any need to expand upon this.
Abner Yaxley - January 21, 2012 03:23 AM (GMT)
Abner's need to keep the conversation moving, his inability to handle silences during which he wasn't managing to get as much information as he could from whoever he was talking to, didn't stop even when he was talking with the Slytherins who were ostensibly his friends. It was a habit he'd first started building up with people outside of the House, but now it was something that he couldn't stop himself from doing with everyone, even his parents and occasionally even the house elves at home. Decimus's resistance to it was rather annoying - and frustrating.
It was like trying to break down a brick wall with his fingertips, and Abner didn't know whether it was because he was losing his touch or because Decimus simply never spoke. "The same," he replied. "As well as you can ever be in Hogwarts. Which ward do you think should go first?" Abner, of course, had plenty of opinions, but asking yes-or-no questions would only serve to make Mulciber even more reticent than he already was - and Merlin knew he didn't think he could take an entire class period of one-word answers.
Decimus Mulciber - January 21, 2012 03:46 AM (GMT)
Unlike Abner, Decimus did not feel any need to keep the conversation flowing. He had long become accustomed to silence, and often preferred it to small-talk and unnecessary conversation. He was not a boy who had ever been prone to an expanse of words, or long winded conversation. Though in the company of those who knew him best he was certainly more receptive to conversation, those people were few and far between - and even then, it was unlikely to look particularly normal to most outsiders.
Nodding to show that he had heard Abner, rather than continue the conversation with any follow-up questions he instead turned to his text-book. After a moment of looking over them, he had devised his answer, and pointed it out with his wand, "I think that this would serve as a strong foundation ward. Would you agree?"
Abner Yaxley - January 22, 2012 03:59 PM (GMT)
An entire sentence! He would have taken the time to be proud of himself had he not recently played almost an entire game of gobstones in near silence with Eileen Prince, with no words to distract either of them from how miserably Abner played after years of not having touched his own set of gobstones. When cunning had come to mean absolute silence, Abner wasn't quite sure, but he ventured boldly on regardless, confidence buoyed by the fact that Mulciber had expressed an opinion.
He opted to keep his own short, hoping to coax another opinion - perhaps even a paragraph? - out of Mulciber before the class period ended. Peering over the box to more clearly see the spell that the his classmate was pointing to, his wand not stopping in its ceaseless, erratic rhythm until he gestured to a second ward higher up on the page than Mulciber's suggestion. "I do," he said. "And what do you think of this for the second?" Merlin, any longer and Abner would be speaking as little as the rest of them.
Decimus Mulciber - January 27, 2012 08:24 AM (GMT)
If he was aware of Yaxley's attempt to coax him into a conversation that involved more than a few syllables on his behalf, he showed no sign of it. Instead as the other pointed to a second ward Decimus took the time to consider it, in no rush to give an uninformed opinion. Inclining his head in a small movement after giving the second ward due consideration, he responded with a terse, "That seems acceptable."
That said and done he began scanning his text-book in search of an appropriate third ward. Though still not particularly challenging, the third ward would probe more diffictuly in application than the two preceding it. Leaning over his text-book, Decimus was straight-faced and did not look easily distracted.
Abner Yaxley - February 5, 2012 11:08 PM (GMT)
This was why he detested being paired with less social Slytherins: because his innate love of talking to people, of clever banter and casual conversation and learning more from what people said than they realised they were telling him, drove him to fill in the silence with too much chatter on his own part. Abner was a good listener, of course, but he was also chatty when silence on the other's part drove him to discomfort.
"This one might be, as well," he said, reaching over to point out a ward that Mulciber had passed over. He had passed over it because, of course, it was not an appropriate ward, and Abner knew it as well as Decimus did. However, in his curiosity and his desire to get him to say anything beyond the two-sentence maximum he could apparently achieve, he was willing to sacrifice some integrity. "What do you think?"