Selina brought the students to a stop in front of a rather gruesome portrait, the inferus in the picture shuffled around his frame, eyeing them all with suspicion.
“This is Gunther. He is the guardian of Crotalus Common Room, and therefore someone whom you will need to speak to respectfully,” in truth, the students could probably get away with barking the password in any tone of voice, but Selina did not relish the idea of a bunch of snot-nosed eleven year olds thinking they were better than a historic piece of art, just because they were prettier.
“This month’s password is wormwood,,” she added, the portrait swinging open to admit them. On the other side lay a richly adorned room in red and silver, with velvets and silks being common features in the comfortable looking chairs and their cushions.
“Welcome to Crotalus. This will be your home away from home for the next seven years, and the people here like your family. And, like any family, there will be those of you who don’t see eye to eye, but you will have to make it work because you’re stuck with each other,” she reminded them. Most people thought the family analogy was sweet and comforting but to her it worked on a much more practical, realist level.
“You have several people to go to if you experience difficulties of any kind - firstly, there’s me, but you also welcome to approach any of our house prefects, Isaac, Chaslyn or Makenzie.
“Please keep an eye out for notices, including new passwords, which will appear on the board. Our house Quidditch captain is Alistair Johnson, who I’m sure will be posting a notice about try outs shortly. “Curfew is ten, and you must be in the Common Room by then, and are asked to keep noise levels to a minimum after this time. The stairs on the left lead to the boys’ dormitories, and those on the right to the girls’. You will find your year number on the door of your room. You are not permitted to enter the dormitories of the opposite sex, and the corridor will forcibly expel you should you try.
Cecilia recoiled a little when she first saw Gunther the Zombie, but more out of surprise than disgust. Once she realized that her eyes were not deceiving her, she looked the painting over from top to bottom, taking in both the inferius and the background, half-disgusted and half-curious. Her last academic tutor had made her look at pictures of old paintings, things painted before the Statute of Secrecy, which showed the grim reaper standing near important wizards and Muggles alike while they went to parties and ruled kingdoms and did other normal things like they didn’t have a care in the world, but this was…a step beyond that, she thought, if the point was the same point her tutor had made about how everyone was going to die someday. Maybe it was just because it wasn’t very nice, not something the tutor would show to a girl, but Cecilia had never seen a painting like this, and she had been forced to look through a lot of books of paintings. Jay thought it was good for her and Peter to know about art. She wondered whether he would rethink that when he heard about this….
Unless he already did, of course. Henry had been in Crotalus, so he had most likely told Jay all about it – well, given him the general idea, anyway – when Cecilia had still been tiny. She glanced around at Sébastien Évreux and the other girls now with them for a split second, nervous, and then followed the deputy headmistress into the common room.
It was very…red. It wasn’t painfully bright red, more a richer, darker shade, but it was very red. Cecilia couldn’t decide if she liked it or not, or if she thought she could really picture the Crotali she’d met – she knew none of them that well, not even the one who was her own brother – fitting in here. It was just elegant and dark enough red, she guessed, that if everyone was as quiet as Henry and Fae, maybe….
She stopped thinking about that when the Deputy Headmistress began addressing them, then, to her horror, giggled out loud when the attempt to persuade them that being a Crotalus was like belonging to a family ended differently than she had expected. Mortified, Cecilia covered her mouth with her hand and tried not to make eye contact with anyone. Even if everyone else in the room had been thinking the same thing she had, which was that the speech would end with some comments about how supporting Crotalus and working for the best interests of the House and keeping any of its secrets which she ever learned to herself were the most important things she’d ever do at Sonora, there was no excuse for showing how surprised she’d been by what Professor Skies had said instead. She felt like an idiot.
With that in mind, she memorized the names Isaac, Chaslyn, and Makenzie so she would remember to avoid them and so avoid shaming herself and her family in front of anyone else important. The Quidditch captain was…complicated; Jay had told her everything he knew about Leonidas Bennett and told her to introduce herself, but he’d never mentioned Alistair Johnson. Cecilia didn’t know if that was because Mr. Johnson was unfriendly or if he was just someone Jay hadn’t known very well, but either way, she thought she should ask for advice before she spoke to him. People took Quidditch too seriously, she thought, but she guessed it kind of made sense for her family when one of her favorite cousins played it professionally.
She had no plans to do anything as improper as entering the boys’ dormitories, so the rest of the speech didn’t interest her much. Not nearly as much, anyway, as the three other girls hearing it. Cecilia found it incredibly hard not to glance at them and try to figure them out. These were the people she was not only stuck with, but stuck sharing a bedroom with. They were going to be a big part of whether or not the next seven years were good ones. They were scary.
She wished Sébastien a good night after the speech and went to look for the first year girls’ dorm and then, once she found it, her luggage. She couldn’t see much of a difference between the bed closest to it and the others in the room, so she sat down on that bed and smiled at the first roommate she saw.
“Good evening,” she said. It wasn’t really an inspired introduction, but at least her voice was pleasant and not shaking. “I’m Cecilia Carey, of South Carolina. How do you do?.”
0Cecilia CareyI'm not nervous about any of this at all349Cecilia Carey05
Eliza had been having a good enough time her first day at Sonora - with the exception of the first hiccup with Arianna, but she thought it had ended well. The blonde eleven-year old had been quick to assess the people that had turned the same shade as her as they took their place in the Crotalus table. Eliza had been proud, so proud that she was sure people could actually see a bubble of light around her. She had felt like the Queen of Sonora for the briefest of minutes.
The new Crotalus had dreamed about this since she had been accepted at Sonora and her mother had told her all about the magical world. If she was honest, Eliza was had been a bit angry at her mother for hiding such an important part of her life from her. Magic was amazing, magic made everything easy, but her mother had left it all behind for her father. It had been a bit daunting to realize how much her life was going to change - for the better! -, but she had also felt quite smug to know just how special she really was. Though it had sucked that she couldn't tell the girls at her other school.
After dinner had finished, all the new Crotalus had to follow a grown-up to their common room. Eliza got up from her seat, brushed her robes from any crumbs, and quickly followed the older witch. The blonde took mental notes about the path towards the common room - she didn't want to get lost! That would be embarrassing - and about the other 4 children moving with her. Eliza had to admit she was a bit sad about having to share her living space with 3 other girls. She had never shared anything in her life, to be fair she never had to. Her parents were wealthy.
The girl stopped surprised in front of a painting with a zombie and inferi in it. Eliza was repulsed and scared about it at the same time. She quickly moved into the common room trying to make the least eye contact with the painting and shuddered a bit. That had been sooo gross.
Eliza barely listened to DH Skies as she talked about the rules since she had been taking everything in. The common room seemed nice to lounge in and the colors weren't as bad as she thought they would be. She smiled at her surroundings and hurriedly went to the girls room to find her place. She finally found her luggage in front of a bed. She supposed that would be where she would sleep. It was okay, she guessed. The bed to her right had been already occupied by another girl that introduced herself as Cecilia Carey. She sounded very important.
“Good evening to you, too,” she replied to the greeting. “I am Eliza Steinbeck fro Manhattan.” Eliza smiled and for whatever reason offered her hand to the other girl. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Cecilia.”
0Eliza SteinbeckNeither am I... I swear!352Eliza Steinbeck05
I'm honestly not. Painting's rather creepy though.
by Arianna Tate
Arianna followed the Deputy Headmistress along with the other first year Crotali to an ugly portrait that was apparently the entrance to their Common Room. Honestly, she had no idea why someone would paint such a thing. As far as she was concerned, art should capture what was beautiful but then artists were strange people. Her uncle Evan was one and though Arianna hadn't honestly spent all that much time with her relatives-her parents had a slight paranoia about returning to America and Mother preferred visiting Aunt Holly to her own family-her impression of him from the few times they'd met and what Mother said about him here and there was that he was very very very weird. She'd seen some of the stuff he'd made as well, and it wasn't even recognizable as anything in particular. This portrait, ugly as it was, was at least of something.
She was more concerned, in all honestly, what having such a portrait as the entrance to her house said about what the founders of this school thought of Crotalus and the people that were placed there. Naturally, Arianna knew that not all Crotali were wonderful people, her uncle Adam had been a Crotalus and he'd grown from a wimpy nerd to a bitter antisocial grouch whom she was sure would be just like the school Headmaster appeared to be someday and then there were those disgusting girls her mother's friends had had as roommates. Still, Crotali were supposed to respectable members of society and to have a portrait of an ugly zombie representing that was kind of offensive. Especially given their mascot was a poisonous snake!
Of course, Arianna supposed snakes were beautiful in their own way, graceful at least-not that she'd ever say that to anyone since it wasn't something one thought normally thought of as beautiful-and the poisonous bit meant they weren't to be trifled with, which she liked and felt was true of herself and of anyone else of importance. Still, poisonous snakes were not generally well thought of. They did inspire fear though, so that was a good thing. She wanted to inspire fear and intimidation in those she didn't like and show she was not one to be crossed. This Crotalus was rather starting to like the idea of being compared to a rattler, the more she thought about it. Better than a wild boar which she supposed could be dangerous and potentially gore someone but lacked subtlety so you could definitely see it coming whereas a rattler could sneak up on you (and a hawk could swoop down on you) or a prairie dog which seemed to like something a rattlesnake (or hawk) might have for lunch. Arianna would rather be a predator than be preyed upon any day.
The fact that Deputy Headmistress Skies seemed to have some sort of affection for the portrait also struck Arianna as odd. Either she was a fan of the macabre or it was a very tempermental portrait and she was giving them fair warning. She supposed that she would be tempermental if she looked like that too. Of course, she'd also never show her face in public or allow a portrait to be painted of herself then. It was unlikely that this was a picture of a zombie that really existed as anything but a figment of someone's debatably-more- messed-up-than-Uncle Evan's imagination.
Maybe it was painted by someone as a form of art therapy because someone was having debilitating nightmares about about zombies and then placed as the entrance to Crotalus because they were having nightmares about proper society? Or maybe, just maybe, it was put there to be misleading . Who would suspect something so ugly would hide the entrance to a house known for it's propriety and respectability?
Whatever. Arianna had given it more than enough thought for one night, if it was worth revisting at all. The Headmistress' speech went on. She couldn't have cared less about who was Quidditch captain, since she had zero interest in the game for any reason other than as a social event to be seen and photographed at wearing fashionable clothing but she noted who the prefects were. She aspired to be one someday after all.
Her roommates, however, were the focus of interest right now. At least, getting to see whether or not they were interesting. Cecilia was a Carey, so that was a plus though Arianna was not sure what the difference between the different branches was. She thought Aunt Lucille-Uncle Evan's wife-was from North Carolina. Steinbeck was not a name she recognized and the girl was attempting to shake hands with Cecilia. Still, that in itself wasn't a big deal, it just marked her as not being a member of American pureblood society. She could still be from money. For all Arianna knew, Eliza could be one of elites of the Manhatten Muggle world. And they could still have quite a bit in common. Aunt Holly was from important Muggles and she and Mother had been the best of friends since they were first years. Plus Eliza's introduction showed at least some manners. In Jamaica, where Arianna lived, people didn't curtsy quite so much with their peers anyway. Cecilia was definitely a peer-family by marriage in fact-and Arianna was willing to give Eliza a chance, given all she'd done so far was introduce herself and say where she was from. "Pleasure to meet you both. I am Arianna Tate of the Napa Valley Tates, but my parents, brother and I live in Jamaica." She wanted to make that clear right off because it was quite honestly was going to seem weird to people that she lived in one place and introduced herself as from another. Cecilia at the very least should have heard of her family.
11Arianna TateI'm honestly not. Painting's rather creepy though.353Arianna Tate05
That part really didn't bother me a lot....
Manhattan. Cecilia knew that was part of New York, but beyond that, all she really knew was that Jay sometimes said he hated New York and everyone in it. He said they were vulgar, barely even civilized, and that they lived crammed so closely together that he had no idea how they kept from going insane.
That didn’t sound very nice or very safe – where did they put the safe rooms if they all lived in tiny little apartments in big buildings with no grounds to build things under? How did the secret ways out of the house work if there were other people who owned the other side of the wall? – but Eliza Steinbeck didn’t seem insane or even all that vulgar yet, so Cecilia decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. She returned the handshake a little awkwardly, as she saw other people, mostly Jay, shake hands a lot more often than she did it herself.
“Thank you,” she said automatically, then remembered herself. “It’s nice to meet you, too.”
She hoped it was, anyway. The name didn’t ring any bells in her head. That wasn’t good. Maybe she was just from a very minor family, though, one whose main branch was somewhere out west and was therefore not someone the Careys found interesting enough to make Cecilia learn by heart. As strange as it seemed, she knew that not all families lived close together, as their third roommate quickly proved.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” she said when Arianna introduced herself. Arianna Tate was a name she knew. She was Lucille’s niece, and since Lucille was friends with two of Cecilia’s much older siblings, Jay had mentioned Arianna as someone she should probably keep an eye out for. That was going to be easy to do now, she guessed, since the other girl was going to sleep in the same room Cecilia did. “Jamaica – I’m told that’s a beautiful place.” Cecilia knew little about it except that it was an island, possibly the kind with coconuts and mangoes. Cecilia liked coconuts and mangoes and going to the seashore, if not staying outside there long enough to get sunburned – she would have to inherit her mother’s skin, which burned like paper in a candle at the least provocation – so she thought Jamaica sounded like a nice enough place to live. “And our, um, boy classmate, he’s from France. Do you have family anywhere else, Eliza, or am I not the only one?”
Part of Cecilia hoped Eliza answered in the negative, because she didn’t want to be the only boring person in the room. She thought Fae had some family in Europe, but since Fae was just her cousin’s wife, she didn’t think that counted. Part of her, though, was just nosy, to see if she could get Eliza to reveal anything that would make figuring out what kind of person she was easier.
0CeciliaThat part really didn't bother me a lot....349Cecilia05
Re: That part really didn't bother me a lot....
The new Crotali cleared her throat subtly as she heard the name Arianna. So, there were two Ariannas in her year, but it wouldnt be hard to set them apart. However, their introductions were fairly different, and Eliza didnt know why they were introducing themselves so formally. It was the first time she had heard people manage so look introductions, but maybe it was a magical thing? Sonora was a fairly big school, and Eliza had grown up with the same cluster of people. Maybe that was it.
Eliza smiled to both girls and subtly looked them over. Both of the girls looked extremely well-put and had manners, which was something Eliza was looking for. Manners were part of any civilized interaction.
The blonde Cortali started unpacking while continuing with the conversation, “Jaimaica? She sounded surprised. Eliza had been in Jaimaica for like a day on a cruise with her parents, “That is kind of odd,” she stated to Arianna. “I have been there and there is a lot of poverty, hardly a place for a girl like you.” Eliza was just assuming from what Arianna was reflecting. Her manners, clothes and general appearece screamed wealth.
“I´m sorry, that was rude,” she said after a second. It was stupid to assume, but the Crotali had been really surprised. Who heard of someone living in Jaimaca besides the jamaincans? Maybe she was being racist, and her mother had always told her to be respectful of other people. “Well, Jamaica is lovely. You must have a lot of fun living there,” she finished trying to sound more civilized and friendly.
Eliza opened her trunk and started getting her essentials out: toiletries, pajamas, and some other things. She smiled again at her roommates, “It must be exciting to live outside of the United States,” she got distracted by a pair of shoes that needed to get out of her luggage, “I wish I had fammily elsewhere. That would make me more interesting,” she answered Cecilia’s question with a smile. “But my parents like to travel, so we usually do that a lot,” she finished a bit smug. That was something she loved about her family life: Traveling.
The excitement of the first day was still moving like waves through Eliza´s veins. She finally found the small box full of candy she had taken to Sonora with her, and got out some skittles. Eliza opened the small bag and offered some to Eliza and Cecilia.
0ElizaRe: That part really didn't bother me a lot....0Eliza05