Fortuitous Circumstance

Aurora Night

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Rory had been almost everywhere in the school grounds by now. There was just one more place she had to check out, and then she'd have a full list of places to escape to when she felt the need to be on her own. So far her friends hadn't questioned that need, but then, she hadn't disappeared too frequently as of yet. Her last attempt hadn't resulted in much writing, but she'd brought her journal with her again today, and had even managed to get some things down about still waters and lakes that you couldn't see the bottom of. Innocent, dangerous looking things.

She'd tied the journal back up though, and was currently slapping it softly against her leg as she contemplated the rosebush she'd come across. Flowers in general usually made her think of her sister, and she wondered if she should pick one of the flowers off to press and send to Sophia. She was reaching out her hand to take one, when she paused. Her sister would probably get annoyed and stuffy about her haphazard picking skills, instead of using the proper cutting tool... she forgot what it was called. Rory couldn't really see the difference, but apparently there was one. Sophia would just have to go without then.
 

Hayley Elridge

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Hayley strolled down towards the lakefront with her sketchbook tucked under her arm. Living in a castle with other kids everywhere was exhausting. Hayley, being an only child, was used to getting peace and quiet whenever she needed it, which admittedly wasn't too often. Generally she was happy to be social, but she needed some time to recharge now and again.

She had thought she might try drawing the rosebush she'd spotted on her previous visit, but as she approached she spotted another girl standing in front of the rosebush. Hayley had wanted some alone time, but . . . now she was a little closer, she thought she recognised the other girl. Hadn't she seen her with Harley earlier? Maybe this could be another friend. Hayley would love some more allies, considering how her time in Slytherin had gone so far. The Gryffindor had a notebook of her own, Hayley noticed. Maybe she'd come here to sketch, too? "Hi," she said as she reached the rosebush. "It's Rory, right? I'm Hayley."
 

Aurora Night

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Rory was distracted from her rose dilemma by a girl approaching her. Turning towards her, Rory pulled her hand away from the bush to wave instead. "Yeah, hey." She was interested to know how Hayley knew her name, and her eyes dropped to see the Slytherin logo on her robes. Curling the corner of her mouth up, she joked, "Are you a good Slytherin, or a bad Slytherin? Or just a stereotypical one?" Really, Rory just wanted to know if this was one of Odette's little followers; Hayley's house didn't really matter at all, even if she'd started believing in the stereotypes more since she'd confronted Odette. The fact that Hayley was a Slytherin just meant that she would definitely know the other girl. Although, if it turned out Hayley and Odette had nothing to do with one another, Rory was happy enough to strike up a conversation with this girl. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, Rory clarified her statement. "What I mean is, are you friends with Odette Harper?"
 

Hayley Elridge

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Hayley crossed her arms. "Hey! Don't you make assumptions about people like that!" As soon as she saw the look on the Gryffindor's face she knew this was going to be one of those conversations. The sort where people assumed that all Slytherins were evil from some historical stuff that happened so long ago no one should rightfully care any more. She had thought Harley would have better taste in friends. "You think just because I'm a Slytherin I'm some kind of monster, right? Well, that's stupid, and so are you!"

Hayley was really not in the mood for this, so she was about to turn and storm off, when Rory mentioned Odette Harper. "Eugh, no! Of course I'm not friends with that poisonous snake." Hayley had been meaning to confront Odette about her disgusting slander campaign on Harley, but the cow had been avoiding her. How she managed to do that when they shared a dormitory was a mystery, but then, so was how one small girl could contain so much nastiness.
 

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Rory was taken aback by the other girl's reaction to her joke, but her surprise quickly morphed into a scowl of her own. "You're the stupid one making assumptions! Did I say you were a monster? No." She drew the last word out to show Hayley how thick Rory thought she was being. "It was just a joke, clearly all Slytherins aren't evil," and here she muttered to herself, "even though most of the ones I've met here are." Rory hadn't even believed in the stereotypes until she'd arrived at Hogwarts, and met students that the stereotypes seemed to be made for. Pretty much all of her father's family had been in Slytherin, and they were fine.

Even though Hayley denied being friends with Odette, Rory scoffed, and crossed her own arms. "Yeah right, how would you know my name otherwise? I bet she told you to come up here and pretend to be my friend now that she's failed so spectacularly at it!" That would be just like her. Pretending she didn't care about anything at all, but secretly unable to give up the control she obviously needed. Rory felt comfortable believing these things about Odette, even if she didn't really know whether they were true or not. "Well you can go and tell her that she's not as smart as she thinks she is!"
 

Hayley Elridge

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"No," Hayley said sulkily, "but you were clearly thinking it. Has it ever occurred to you that Slytherins might be mean because everyone else is so nasty to them?" To be honest, it hadn't occurred to Hayley until that moment, but now she considered the possibility it made a lot of sense. If the other Slytherins were treated as badly by the other houses as Hayley had been for being Slytherins, it could certainly make them resentful, as she herself had become. Of course, given the bullying she'd had because of purebloods and their prejudices, Hayley was more hostile towards her fellow Slytherins than any of the other houses. Nevertheless she felt the need to defend her house, if only because she belonged to it.

"How dare you!" Hayley glared at Rory. "Odette's a horrible, two-faced liar and no sane person would have anything to do with her." Hayley, a basically honest person, was doubly offended by the suggestion that she would be friends with Odette and that she would lie for her. "Actually, I know your name because I'm friends with Harley Tsuji. You know, Odette's worst enemy? I had thought that a friend of Harley's might be worth meeting, but clearly I couldn't be more wrong."
 

Aurora Night

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Rory rolled her eyes. "So what, they give back as good as they get, clearly." Here she gestured at Hayley. "I'm not going to waste my time feeling sorry for people who can't take a joke." It hadn't occurred to Rory that the other girl might have been offended by her sense of humour, all she knew was that she hadn't meant it that way, and so clearly Hayley was over-reacting. Even though she was trying to defend her house, she certainly wasn't doing a very good job of it. She just sounded like she was whining about how hard-done-by Slytherins were, when they usually started everything themselves - case in point, this exact situation.

Rory smirked at Hayley's outburst about Odette. "You've got that bit right at least, you're much better at pretending than she ever was." Too bad for her that Rory had already seen through her little ruse. It was just getting funny now, watching Hayley getting so riled up over her failed plan. Her comment about Harley made Rory pause though, and she frowned. Dragging her friend into this scheme was a disgusting tactic, and she wasn't about to let Hayley get away with it. "Tui billboard much? Why would Harley be friends with someone as whiny as you?" She wasn't bothered by Hayley's insult, she knew where she stood with Harley, and she wasn't about to let this girl infiltrate them.
 

Hayley Elridge

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"Oh, that was a joke, was it? Well, you've got a screwed up sense of humour." Hayley scowled. "Last I heard, making gross assumptions about a group of people you know a small fraction of counts as prejudice rather than humour." Hayley had always felt strongly about all varieties of prejudice, and her emotions were running close to the surface after her experiences at Hogwarts. It had been, inevitably, a stressful few weeks (starting at a new school would always be that), and being on the receiving end of a new and different kind of prejudice really didn't help.

"I'm not pretending! Why is this so hard for you to grasp? Are you really as thick as you seem to be at the moment?" Hayley rolled her eyes. "Has it occurred to you that I might not be whiny when I'm not being slandered? Oh, no, of course it hasn't. I'm forgetting how stupid you are." Hayley's anger had at least partly given way to her usual response of thick sarcasm. She didn't truly believe that Rory was an idiot, or why would Harlry be friends with her? But god, the girl was being slow just now.
 

Aurora Night

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This girl was starting to seriously annoy Rory now. Even if Hayley had a point about prejudice, Rory still wasn't going to give in and tell the other girl what she wanted to hear. Particularly when she was wrong - Rory wasn't prejudiced at all. "For your information, I have more Slytherins in my family than I've met in this entire school. So if I'm starting to think that horrible ones exist, that's your fault for acting that way." Technically, it was only four family members to three Slytherin students in that ratio, which made a pretty slim margin - but she was still right. Hayley could have laughed and recognised her joke for what it was, but instead she had just ruined the peaceful time Rory had been having.

She actually laughed at how frustrated the other girl was getting. "Well of course you're not pretending that you hate me now." There was a part in the back of her mind that did wonder if she had actually misread the situation, but the louder voice in front insisted that Rory was completely right, and that she should continue to go with her gut instinct. It was only egged on by the insults flying from Hayley's mouth. "And I'm not stupid! You're stupid for believing I was slandering you in the first place." She held up her hands to make little air quote signs as well as emphasising the word. "That's a pretty big word for one of Odette's bimbos."
 

Hayley Elridge

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"You think I'm acting horrible? I came over here hoping to have a friendly conversation, and you've been nothing but rude since I arrived!" Hayley was almost shouting now. The sheer hypocrisy of it! All she'd wanted was to sit and sketch the rosebush in peace! She didn't give a damn about Rory's family, or whether she believed she was being prejudiced. The fact that she'd opened their encounter with a nasty comment about Slytherins spoke louder than any justification the blasted Gryffindor was attempting now.

"No! That's right! I'm not pretending to hate you! I do hate you! You're a stupid, stubborn prat who couldn't see the truth if it bit her on the arse!" Rory's stubbornness only egged Hayley on to new heights of inventive insults. Probably fewer than half of the things that were coming out of her mouth right now were even vaguely true, but Hayley couldn't care less. This idiot had no respect for attempts to tell the truth, so Hayley felt justified in hurling the most extreme insults she could think of. It was somewhat cathartic, to be honest. All this time Hayley had been holding her rage in; she hadn't punched that bigot Lycus because there had been teachers around, she hadn't even seen Odette because the snake knew perfectly well what she had done and was hiding. "And for the thousandth time, I'm not one of Odette's 'bimbos'. I hate her even more than I hate you!"
 

Aurora Night

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Despite the fact that she was getting progressively more annoyed, Rory had still been enjoying the argument with Hayley, feeling like she had the upper hand as the other girl became more and more frustrated. That all changed the moment Hayley accused her of picking the fight. Indignantly, Rory fired off, "You're the one who came up here and started yelling at me in the first place!" Finishing, however, her mouth closed with a click and she clenched her teeth together. Because halfway through that outburst she had suddenly realised that she was wrong. Even if Hayley had been the one to start arguing - which she totally had been - she hadn't done so until after she'd taken offence at Rory's joke. Small a chink in her defence though it was, she really hoped the other girl was too wound up to notice what she'd said.

Although not too bothered by being called a stubborn prat, because she guessed that to Hayley she really was being those things, Rory continued to be rankled by being called stupid and unseeing of the truth. It felt like the other girl was throwing it in her face that she had once been largely unaware of the terrible depths of Odette's character, and she felt bad enough about that all by herself without someone else having to remind her of it as well. As Hayley kept trying to deny her connection to Odette, Rory fixed her with a glare. "You can keep saying that, but I don't see any proof. If you hate her so much why don't you go and yell at her instead? She'd actually deserve it, unlike me." But she knew the other girl wouldn't do it. Which was even more evidence towards the fact that she was following Odette's orders.
 

Hayley Elridge

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"You're wrong!" Hayley exclaimed. "You've been wrong this whole time, and now you're even wrong about how it started!" Then her brain caught up with her mouth, and she noticed Rory's body language. She grinned viciously. "And you know it!" Admittedly it had been Hayley that started the yelling, but only after she had been rudely insulted. No, Hayley was in the right in this argument, and looking at Rory she began to suspect that the other girl had finally realised it too. That leant Hayley a measure of calm she had previously lacked. While it had been cathartic to lose her temper, it had not strengthened her position in the argument. Now she had rattled Rory's blasted surety, she must be on the way to making the other girl see sense.

"You know what?" Hayley said, slightly less loudly, "I'd love to go and yell at Odette. I've been trying to have a go at her ever since I found out about those damn flyers. But the snake knows exactly what she's done, so she's been hiding." Hayley hadn't even managed to pin her in the dormitory they shared. Odette must be going to bed late and getting up early, just to avoid her. The thought gave Hayley a certain amount of perverse pride. Was she really that scary? Good. Odette deserved to be scared. She deserved all the worst possible consequences that her actions could bring her. "And don't pretend like you're all blameless. A real friend of Harley's would have better things to do with her life than standing here insulting an innocent Slytherin!"
 

Aurora Night

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Rory scowled and huffed indignantly, crossing her arms across her chest. "I don't know what you're talking about." Damn it, but Hayley had noticed her slip up. Well, she certainly wasn't going to admit to it, in any case. That would be like letting the other girl win the whole argument, and Rory was sure as heck not about to let that happen. Not when it wasn't her in the wrong in the first place. She wished Hayley had just realised she had been joking at the beginning - she could swear that she could feel a headache beginning at the bridge of her nose. "How am I the one who's been wrong? You started yelling before I did, and everything you've said has been because you have this dumb idea that I'm prejudiced somehow." Rory scoffed at Hayley's stupidity before continuing. "Pretty sure that you're the only prejudiced one here."

Her impression of Hayley's stupidity only increased with the girl's next statement, Rory's mind sunk so far into their argument as it was. How on earth could you avoid someone when you were sleeping in the same room every night? It was more likely that, as she had suspected all along, she and Odette were on the same side. Hayley just really didn't know when to give up and call it quits - she wasn't exactly gaining anything from standing here continuing to harass Rory. She had opened her mouth to tell Hayley exactly that, but left it hanging open in disbelieving confusion at the other girl's latest retort. She stared for a moment before snapping back into action. "That doesn't even make sense! Everything you say just makes me more and more sure that you're lying! And you're not an innocent Slytherin, by the way, so you can quit that little victim act." Rory actually felt a sneer cross her face.
 

Hayley Elridge

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"I'm the one prejudiced? F*** you! You don't know anything about me! You don't know what I've been through since I came to this trash school!" Hayley gestured wildly with both hands, waving her notebook unnoticed in the air. Of all the injustices she'd suffered, this had to be the most ridiculous. "It's not like you've said anything to counteract the impression you first gave me that you're a prejudiced ass," she said, conveniently forgetting Rory's comments about members of her own family being Slytherins.

Hayley shook her head melodramatically in disbelief. How could this girl be so thick? If everything Hayley said to convince her of the truth made Rory more sure she was lying, there was no point. This was stupid, and Hayley was tired of it. "You only think I'm not innocent because you're so sure I'm lying - which I'm not." No, that actually didn't make sense, even if it was true. "You know what? Fine. I give up. I'm clearly never going to convince your thick head of anything. So I'm going to go and try again to give that b**** Odette a piece of my mind." Not that Hayley believed at all that she would find Odette now when she'd failed so many times already. Nevertheless, it gave her a conveniently dramatic excuse to leave this pointless argument. Hayley turned and stormed back towards the castle.
 

Aurora Night

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Normally Rory would have probably felt a little ashamed by her behaviour, considering the fact that she really didn't know anything about Hayley, just as the other girl had said. This situation wasn't normal, however - in fact, it was just about as far from normal as you could possibly get when meeting someone for the first time. Just because she didn't know anything about Hayley didn't mean that she couldn't rightfully suspect things about her, especially when she had no proof that they weren't true. There was still a nagging little part of her brain valiantly trying to remind her that there wasn't any proof Hayley had anything to do with Odette either, but Rory ignored that in favour of the fact that yes, yes there was proof, this whole conversation had been proof. Clearly.

She didn't even bother trying to explain, once again, that she had been joking when she had first spoken to Hayley. That more than anything had been the foundation of her annoyance and anger throughout her argument with the other girl. Possible friendships and grossly wrong assumptions aside, if Hayley didn't have a sense of humour, Rory wouldn't have wanted to waste time on her anyway. Serious people made her insides want to curl up and die. Watching as Hayley continued her tirade, Rory waited for the other girl to have to stop and draw breath so she could point out all the flaws in the 'logic' she was currently spewing forth. She was surprised, however, to see Hayley whirl around and storm off after one last attempt to keep pretending she wasn't some minion of Odette's. The action made something ugly rise up in Rory's chest, and her brow creased in anger. How dare she do something so... so victorious, leaving the argument first. Why hadn't she thought to do that? Now it was like Hayley had won. Staring at the girl's retreating back, Rory yelled after her, "Nice try, but really you're just going off to have a cry 'cause you messed up her stupid plan!" With that, she turned to storm off in the opposite direction, although the effect was ruined due to Hayley having done it first.
 

Hayley Elridge

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Hayley almost stopped to retort to Rory's last jab, but at the last moment she thought better of it. She was in the right, damn it, and she'd had enough of this argument. Even Hayley wouldn't be so egotistical as to say she'd won, but the other girl clearly wouldn't see reason, so she would have to content herself with being the one who got to walk away triumphantly. Besides, she couldn't think of a clever response.

Instead, she waved her middle finger in the air as she walked, oblivious to the fact that Rory had also turned around to leave in the opposite direction and couldn't see her rude gesture.
 

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