Ebenezer walked up the stairs, moving the stunned figure on the stairwell. "Is it really necessary to hex them so early in the day, Erasmus? It's such a pain to cart them to the hospital wing without any good cause."
Erasmus gave the other Slytherin a disbelieving glance -- how anyone could be so chippery and downright benign at that time of the day and with witches roaming down the castle never failed to astonish him. He wondered briefly whether Ludd wasn't, perhaps, altogether out of place in the Snake's pit but somehow kept his silence.
He was quite all right with hexing others that early, but starting duels he was by no means inclined to sustain without a decent meal in his stomach was completely out of the question.
"Morning greetings to you as well, Ludd. No more courtesy about, oh, for Hades' sake." Sore? Who? Erasmus? Neeeever... "Besides, hardly my fault - I should be claiming damage and offense, actually. Its head" - he pointed towards the figure with the tip of his wand- "purposefully aimed to injure my paper roll."
"An unforgivable offense, of course. I've been having an early swim in the lake. Remarkably bracing. Good missives from home?" Ebenezer knew only too well the kind of letters that heirs received from home, but it was worth asking anyway.
He shrugged, faintly. Damned be Ludd. Damned his insights. And damned his haughty character. For the moment, the victim was forgotten -- some things were simple more important.
Such as verbal confrontations with retainers who failed to know their place. He tilted his head softly, managing to utter between gritted teeth, "Perfectly lovely. So kind of you to make inquiries. I was just mentioning how wonderfully sophisticated my contemporaries are to Papa, actually." He stressed the "sophisticated" easily enough by a long, appreciative look of Ludd's aspect. It was decent, had distinct possibilities. But the hit'd still strike home. "We do like to discuss all such things - very verbose, Papa..."
In truth, he was anything but. Keeping everything in the dark, oh, of course, if only Urien would have asked, the scoundrel... the darkened circles at his eyes and his unbecoming pallor spoke clearly enough of just how much good "family bliss" did the boy. But he would never admit to that. No, such a confession would have been a sign of weakness. Weakness was not the done thing for an heir, no, most certainly not - he had to be the perfect heir, lest Urien come in and rob him of his place.
He straightened in his place, trying to look positively amiable. And failed. As always.
"Well, I'm glad things are going well for you. My father becomes unbelievably arrogant when it comes to business dealings, though hopefully that will all change with the next generation. Can you believe that he considers the Quaballah entirely impractical? Fishguts and dragon blood, that's what he'd have me study. All the same, it's unwise to offend him." The Yorkshire boy jumped subjects quickly. "Have you got your new timetable yet?"
"No," he mumbled."I've not got a chance to get a timetable yet. Should have liked to, but breakfast became unbearable as soon as the first skirt waltzed through." He looked away. With his luck, first class would be with bloody Hufflepuffs. "First one's likely Divination, or something similarly sickening. Actually, no, do forget that. Divination'd be quite nice. We could all doze off a bit and claim we're talking to out inner Eye. How an Eye is supposed to foretell anything goes rather beyond me, really, it's only an eye, no matter how enclosed. But still. Let's indulge the lunatics. Why, do you have the timetable?"
What in blazes? Ludd was receiving ample news from home - even discussed business with his father - and all he got was a "good luck, old chap, and try not to little but flunk Charms(ghastly subject!) again"? Something about the unfairness of it all barely escaped tightly sealed lips.
"I have my timetable, Erasmus. Arithmancy and Magical Creatures, I do believe. And breakfast becomes strangely enjoyable after a healthy swim with the squid and a good long look at that Black child. You should join me some time."
"Arithmancy?" Groans and groans and bruddy groans. Deveraux first thing in the morning. Add arsenic or the Cruciatus to that and it'd be the perfect match indeed. He pondered, momentarily, how truly testing fortune could sometimes be.
He threw Ludd a curiously playful glance - almost as if to convey that the Yorkshire had made his swift return to the d'Ange graces. Well, almost. Erasmus was a most whimsical creature, after all.
"Scrutinizing the Black boy, inviting me over, taking long baths in the lake, towards which you know perfectly well that the boy's dormitories are directed...Here, Ludd, old boy, I shall be at my finest and make you a vow - when the time has come and you shall have wed, and you can't produce an heir of your own because of your other - inclinations, shall we say?- then don't hesitate to call on me, I'll make you a bastard to inherit."
He trusted Ludd wouldn't mind the vulgarity of it. They were Slytherin, after all, and hadn't someone once called them Slut-erin?
Ebenezer smiled at the gibe. It wasn't as if he had any doubts of his virility, but there might come a time... "Ha! If I can't produce the goods, well, you'll be my second then. Sound fair enough? Of course, if I can get Ezzie married off to that Longbottom chap, half my work will be done. Have you set your staff at anybody in particular for your own inheritance, though?"
Erasmus barely refrained from saying that he would never be anyone's second. Never that. Instead he maintained his much treasured neutrality.
"Longbottom? Not bad, not bad indeed..." But he doubted he'd manage it. Ezzie Longbottom. gods have mercy. The spawns'd likely be squibs. Or worse - Hufflepuffs. "Myself? No. But when I do, it'll have to be a girl at least two years my senior, so she can't have partaken to this horrid regime. I shouldn't bear an educated woman, Ludd, in all honesty. All the culture I need in my lay is of a purely geographical nature. All I want to hear her say is, "up, down, there, to the left, right...". Besides, any gorgeous, young, wealthy heiress of considerable status shall do," he added. He wasn't asking for too much and all the such.
"And you wonder why I prefer to spend my time of leisure with other boys. The only problem is, if I ally myself with a girl of the South, well, there goes all my hopes of a strengthened North. Oh, to unite the wizards from Pendle to Whitby... But come, Erasmus. Let's not bicker about women and their education. There'll be enough of that in the coming weeks."
"Well, we shall leave your worldly preferences to popular debate. Besides, I guarantee" - and his mind was already working up the wagers- "that by the end of the year, you shall have yourself a bethroted of Hogwarts marking. You seem to be as fine to them as the contented minds of babes taking their suck to raving Dementors. What was the name of that wench, again? And do tell me, how many times has she professed her eternal devotion, yet?"
Ebenezer grimaced at the rather tastless imagery, and tried to shake the matter aside entirely. "You're grasping entirely the wrong end of the wand here, Erasmus. Honestly, the girl seems to hate me and my views. Why, I've forgotten her name already. Is that the time? We should make headway to our first lessons, you know..."