Nate’s not a fussy boy. He doesn’t mind getting a bit dirty, likes the feeling of silty water underneath his feet. He sits on the edge of the lake, his rod in the water, when he feels the water moving around his ankles. Across the way, she’s got a big basket in her arms, filled with long leafy plants, her head covered by a straw hat. She’s tiny, a slip of a thing, not the sort that he thought he’d see wading up to her knees through the murky water. A section of the sand must have collapsed underneath her, because she falls about halfway into the lake, her face the epitome of surprise, her basket almost floating away from her. He runs around the lake and pulls her up and out of the water. She’s wet, of course but even then, she doesn’t weigh much more than a feather.
"Are you okay?" He asks, in as soothing of a voice that he can muster. She’s shaking like a leaf, but her face looks calm and a little bit determined. "I’m alright.. it’s just I really need those fronds." She looks up at him from under her hat and smiles. It hits him like a train, her voice and the tilt of her mouth all at once. He knows how silly he looks, holding her up by her hips, beaming at her like an idiot, but she doesn’t seem to mind, so neither does her.
"I’m Nate. Nathaniel."
"Your parent’s named you Nate Nathaniel? Well I suppose I’m not really one to talk, mine named me Fern Longbottom. Hello Nate. I’m gonna have to ask that you put me down, or grab that basket for me, please."
With a voice like that, calm and sweet, who was he to deny her. He set her carefully on the ground and waded out to the basket himself, pushing it towards her and heading back.
She really didn’t mean to interrupt his quiet time. Hestia, above most people, understood that sometimes, you just needed to be alone. Hestia just had the either fortunate or unfortunate lifestyle where she was often alone. She didn’t mind it. In her home, she was surrounded by younger siblings all screaming and running around, causing chaos wherever they walked. So, the quiet was welcomed.
Nibbling on her bottom lip, blue eyes darted up to his own before meeting the water. Crap. She really did feel like an ass — She often saw him out here, but never bothered him. They had a silent agreement. And she broke it. Lovely. She didn’t like meeting new people, no matter the circumstance. So why did she start now? Maybe it was that he looked lonely, even though that didn’t seem to be the case. Maybe it was that she was lonely.
That seemed a tiny bit more likely.
"Secretly a wild one? I’ll believe it when I really see it," she teased softly, the ghost of a smirk flickering over her lips before she tucked a stray piece of hair that had escaped her messy bun behind an ear. Finally, she cleared her throat, fingers grazing over the strap of her bag.
"Rather be cold out here? — I’d ask, but I feel like you might not wanna talk about it." Also, deep conversations? Not really her thing. She wasn’t a conversation kinda girl. Usually kept it at ‘Hey, what page are we on?’ and ‘Pass the quaffle!’ Yeah. Talking. No. Not good at it. Not a fan of it. Avoid it as much as possible. Conceal, don’t feel — Yadda, yadda, yadda. At his proposition of her coming over, she shrugged from where she stood, a comfortable spot halfway between the trees and the sea. That seemed about right, honestly. She was always at a halfway point, always just in between. She glanced at him once more before offering a tiny smile.
"I would hate to ruin your camp. I’m kind of a bull in a china shop — I’m sure I could find a way to mess something up."
Though Nate liked the idea of alone, he was at heart a people person. He knew people often thought that he was too soft for his house, and maybe he was, until it really counted, he wanted to believe in the best of them. And he needed interaction, craved it like he did the sea, or the sun. But sometimes He wanted things to be quiet, he didn’t want things to be heavy or weighted. He wanted to float, the way that his boat did atop the waves.
So he didn’t overly mind her presence. She seemed soft and quiet, the sort that didn’t take much flack though. She seemed unsure, and so he smiled at her, the version that he saved for his sister, warm and true and large, as comforting as he could make it.
"Well, you’ll have to stick around to see anything interesting, won’t you?" He asked her softly, unable to keep his mouth from turning up.
They’d have to talk eventually anyway, he surmised, and tonight, though a bit cold as she stated, was clear and bright, like each star was shining out just to comfort him. Stars had been his friends as long as he could remember, they guided him, eased the ache of his heart when he thought of how cruel the world was. Stars made it seem like there was some sort of plan, like everything wasn’t fragile and random. They made it easier to be kind, and Nate had never wanted to be as harsh or cold as his family. Maybe he was over compensating, trying to give his family, his house, his friends, a better name.
"That’s the great perk of being magic, isn’t it? There are very few things we couldn’t fix, if we tried. Besides, it’s just a campsite. I’m gonna destroy it all in the morning, you’d just be getting a head start."
You see, Hestia? Hestia never really found her proper place, never found a comfortable position in either her school or her home. She came from a large family, from a large dormitory, a large house, etc. Maybe it was that she never really found herself. But, she was still learning. She was but a girl, was she not? Sure, graduation was rounding the corner, but Hestia still had time to learn.
The girl was exploring the woods, studying the creatures and animals that she found there. She liked animals. That was one thing that she knew for certain about herself — Because sometimes, people just really weren’t her thing. But, she knew the creatures that roamed this forest, knew them like the back of her hand. And that was comforting, knowing that something like that didn’t change. She could count them, observe them, sometimes they would be kind enough to let her wander up with them, apples in her bag and all. Maybe that was the only reason. They just wanted her food. But, she liked to entertain herself with the thought that they’ve gotten comfortable with her presence.
The redhead was wandering the forest, just like she did every day, when she saw him. Creeping through the tree line, moving a branch away from her face, Hestia caught eye of Nathaniel Knot. She didn’t know him, no, but she knew of him. Of course she did. Everyone knew who he was — Most Hufflepuff girls squealed over him every single time that the boy so much as smiled at them when passing them in the hallway. Her? She barely noticed. Too wrapped up in her own thoughts, too involved in her own existential crisis. But, seeing him on the shore, she couldn’t help but let her curiosity overcome her as she moved just a bit closer.
"Y’know — I’m all for camping, but it can get pretty chilly out here at night."
Ignore it. Ignore it. But telling yourself to do something and actually doing it were two very different things. He heard a girl, he thought by the weight of their tread on through the woods.
He’d heard her before, when he’d slipped away. But usually he had the motivation to hide away before she found him. She was there all the time, he figured, because he remembered seeing her walk to the edge of the woods, her hair like flames cutting through the calm greens of the grounds.
He thought that they had come to some sort of understanding, that if she didn’t bother him, he wouldn’t bother her but that wasn’t so he guessed. Brushing his dirty palms off on the clean pressed pants that he was required to wear for classes, he turned and saw her. She was pale, but not in an unattractive way. In fact, she looked as though she were glowing from within, freckles across her face like stars in the sky.
"I’ve spent enough time outside… I just look put together. I’m secretly a wild one. You’d better watch out." He delivered it as deadpan as he could, but was unable to stop the small combination of a smile and smirk that graced his features.
"That’s what fires, blankets and the like are for. Besides… I’d rather be cold out here, then warm in there."
That was the thing about Nate. If he were Rory, or one of his more cynical friends, he’d have asked if he were being followed. But the thought hadn’t even crossed his mind. He flicked his wand at the wood that he had stacked, and motion towards the flames. “But if you’re worried about catching a chill, come on over. You shouldn’t catch a cold out here on your own.”
Nate isn’t really one that shy’s away. He’s not as assertive as he could be, as often times he should be. He likes avoiding things, likes slipping away from situations that have gotten too sticky and so he’s found a place on school to hide when the world get’s too heavy.
he sneaks around the lake, to where it touches the dark forest. There he builds a little fire. Something about the combination of smoke and salt water reminds him of camping when he was little, and the smells alone are a comfort to him. Here, no one bothers him, not Doe or Rory or Cissa, not even Gideon. And, for a little while, he doesn’t feel like Suave Nate, or Smart Nate, or Nate the Big Brother. He feels like ‘Thaniel again, the kid that ran into the sea when he was 2, the kid that teethed on rope. For a while, he feels the way he should. Like a kid.
I knew it was too good to be true. — And to think, I was in a raspberry sort of mood.
— Why the sudden desperation, Knott? Meadowes not giving it to you daily, nightly, and ever-so-rightly?
Maybe I’d have saved you a slice… but you’re a tricky bugger. You might not have been around for ages. And I can’t let good cheesecake go to waste. Let’s just say that I ate it in your honour.
Sudden desperation? A girl can only hold it in for so long. The only thing Meadowes has been giving me is cakes. I think he’s trying to fatten me up for something…. It’s very suspicious. Why?? You jealous Rory?
Aurora hated Christmas.
More than hated it, she positively loathed it. But, that doesn’t mean she was going to be an arshole about the whole thing — No matter how much she truly wanted to be. She got gifts, of course she did, she was born into opulent wealth and chose to use this to her benefit.
For Cissa, she took away the alcohol and bought her a journal. A nice, fancy, classy one, too. Better than that, the ink turned invisible after she wrote. Maybe now the poor girl would have a place to freely say whatever she wanted without the fear of being judged or reprimanded. For Marlene, Aurora got the most expensive bottle of champagne she could find — And from the best part of France. Nobody did Christmas like Aurora Zabini.
There were other people as well — the rest of the Black family, Vanity, etc. And then, there was Nate.
God, he was a pain in the ass to shop for. Mostly because, well, they didn’t sell what she really wanted to get him. You couldn’t just sell the ocean. That wasn’t a thing. The girl had thought long and hard all year, and finally — She managed to come up with something. Clad in red, the girl held a large mason jar. She didn’t even bother wrapping it — It was just going to be opened anyway.
It looked like it was full of sand, with a wick coming out of the top. A candle. A large, sand candle. Only, with her own touch. She’d enchanted it that summer when she visited Nate’s house, making it so that when burned, the candle smelled just like the sea. And not like a shitty, muggle candle that advertised itself as smelling like the ocean. No, this was gritty. It was real. It smelled like the ocean on the best days, all salty and wet and real. For when he was homesick, for when he felt hopeless — Nate would always have the sea. As long as he burned it. She hoped that he would. The girl carefully knocked on his door.
"Rise and shine, Sleeping Beauty!"
Nate was never one to take for granted an opportunity to sleep in. He would wake up early if he had to, to sail, or to go to school, or to rush to see Abby… but he wasn’t overly fond of waking up when the sun did. His favourite thing was to sleep in the warm glow of the day anyway, so he was snuggled up tight still on Christmas morning.
Beside his bed, he had a stack of presents. He was the first son, born to a family with more money than some muggle countries. He had gotten gifts for all of his friends. For Doe, he had gotten a shimmering shiny dress. He figured that she could wear it to New Years, or throw it back in his face if she hated it. For Cissa, he had gotten her Belgian chocolates, and a first edition of Emma. It seemed like the Austen that would sit best with her. He had charmed the cover to look like A History of Magic, in case her family looked at it. For Mars, he got ribbons. Silky lovely ribbons, the sort that he could imagine her wearing like crowns. For Abby, he gave her the extra key to his boat. It was his way of freeing her, for a little while. No matter how cruel his parents could be, they could never refuse her the ocean. It was something that was in the Nott blood, that called to you and pulled you out to sea.
But the trickiest of all was Rory. She could just go out and get herself nearly anything as well so he had to really think. Boxed beside him, was the same muggle microphone that Marilyn Monroe used to record Old Black Magic. He slipped a book of sheet music and a baby grand piano in the same package, shrinking them down. “at the end of the day, perhaps you should use the thing they want the most against them.”
Nate was sure that Rory could destroy anything that she wanted, but he hoped that perhaps, she’d use his gifts to make something all of her own.