A smile. A small one, yes, but it was a smile Carmen had seen on Rose’s lips, so her little trick had worked. People were complicated. It didn’t work on everyone, but it did work on this one. Her eyes followed the redhead as she moved to lean against the wall. What was going on in her head? Carmen let her ponder for a moment in silence, swinging her feet ever so slightly so that her boots clacked against the stone wall. She supposed Rose’s thoughts had something to with her earlier question. Terrifyingly terrifying?
Sure enough, when the girl opened her mouth, Carmen knew she was right. The girl had her concerns about how powerful Carmen was, from the sound of things, and rightly so. For a such a sunshine-sweet little blonde, Carmen could pack a punch with a wand - far more than she let on in class. As far as she knew, no other fifth-year was capable of performing all three unforgivable curses, alongside other dark magic. Then again, they could have been hiding it like her, and she’d only used it on small creatures. Perhaps on people it was different. But all this was besides the point. The point was that Rose was suspicious of her, and she had to rectify that right away.
She started with the slight parting of the lips and the slumping of the shoulders, hurt. It couldn’t be overdone. Over-doing it never worked. Neither did rushing things. So she waited a second for the ‘sinking in’ phase before lowering her eyes and twisting her hands together nervously. There always had to be a moment to process the harsh remarks. Perhaps if her act had been the sharp-tongued bitch, or that of a confidant young woman, she could have gotten away with an instant response. But her act was that of a sweet young girl, a little delicate and shy, but with a smile of sunshine. So she let those few seconds of ‘reaction’ pass before stuttering out a reply.
“I d-didn’t mean to d-do that. I d-didn’t… I feel awful for hurting Lowe. I’m a horrible person.” Now if only she could let out a single tear right at that moment - but she couldn’t do those without a spell to help her out. Perhaps it was best that she didn’t, so as to not over-do it. Good actors excelled in subtlety. Small glances at Rose, looking away as if ashamed. Good good.
Next up was supposed to be assurances of ‘Oh sweety, of course you’re not’. That was how people generally worked: a statement of self-hatred followed by reassurances to the contrary. Unless, of course, the person meant to do the reassuring had a heart of ice. Some said that Rose Weasley did, but Carmen didn’t believe it. If anyone had a heart of ice, it was the blonde on the windowsill, not the redhead next to her. She was positive that Rose had more than enough compassion to give her the benefit of the doubt.
Rose didn’t look at Carmen while she spoke, instead choosing to frown at the opposite wall. As the blonde spoke, she creased her forehead even more with every word until it resembled a piece of paper that had been scrunched up and then somebody had attempted to flatten it out again but it refused to be straight. One the one hand she was sure that her own frustrated dilemmas were influencing how she was responding to Carmen. On the other, it had honestly scared her that she could cast such a horrific incantation. Moreover, it was seemingly an impulse reaction type thing, in which she panicked and cast it because of Lowe coming on to her. Not in a billion years would she ever ever agree with that slimeball’s actions being okay, but… but wouldn’t something a little less harmless have done?
Still frowning and unable to come to a conclusion, she opened her mouth and hesitated - a hesitation which she then let turn to a fairly long pause, before finally speaking.
“One bad thing doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person,” she started, her words lacking the confidence that was usually present in her voice. “Maybe just a person who needs to be careful.” She turned to Carmen then, still frowning but giving her more of a questioning gaze, as if to ask if she had said the right thing or not. Had she known how and been less creeped out by what had happened, she might have better comforted the girl. However she didn’t and she was and the only comfort she can offer Carmen is another frustrated sigh to add to the huge number of frustrated sighs she had already sighed that one day. And it wasn’t as if the sigh would actually offer comfort - it was just her being consumed in her own problems once more, which led her to wondering if her self centeredness was why she couldn’t see past what Carmen had done to see the apologetic, innocent little girl that… she hoped (and presumed) was definitely there. Surely anything otherwise was a bad headache paired with a trick of the light.
Pinching and massaging the bridge of her nose, she apologised, “Sorry. I just want people to be aware of how dangerous spells like that are. But — yeah,” she finished lamely, annoyed that she couldn’t even focus enough to form a decent sentence. She didn’t consider herself a master wordsmith at any level, but liked to think she was a bit better than having just ‘but — yeah’ as her reasoning behind something. (Except she wasn’t doing particularly well with reasoning as of late.)
“Then again, I suppose Wynters is thrilled that one of his students can actually produce something, even if it isn’t strictly defense against the dark arts,” she chuckled, and treated herself to a tiny smirk; pleased at the fact that she could at least manage some humour. And picking fun at her least favourite teacher too. (Oh how she longed to actually do some proper work in his class.)
Rose was the first one to acknowledge Carmen with words, and she latched onto that, wondering if she could twist the situation somehow to cause the redhead’s misfortune. Misfortune beyond something as simple as grey hair, that was. Maintaining eye-contact she bit her lip, playing innocent, timid, and sweet at the same time from her avian perching position on the windowsill. Carmen had not forgotten her 50%-victim act throughout the staring.
“Terrifyingly terrifying?” she chirped, twitching her head to the side in an inquisitive manner. No blinking. Her eyes were watering. “Why do you say that?” It was possible that the girl had witnessed her performing sectumsempra, since it had happened in the middle of the Ravenclaw common room - and even if she hadn’t, the news had certainly gotten around. She had seen the article Ace had written, pulling sympathy for Carmen which suited her just fine. Sympathy was good. Sympathy was what the victim-act was for. ‘Terrifying’ wasn’t a word she wanted associated with her. Terrifying was what went on inside her head, and no one was supposed to know that.
She blinked. On purpose. The thing about the game was that she had no motive to win unless it meant being able to do something unfortunate to her opponent as a reward. But Rose Weasley was talking to her and the thought of turning her hair grey went out the window. It would cause too much suspicion now. Unable to feel pride or any form of competitive spirit, there was no point in trying to win, whereas losing held the slight possibility that the other girl would be in a better mood, and perhaps see her as less ‘terrifying’.
Blinking a few more times to get rid of the dry feeling in her eyes, Carmen made a small giggling sound. A very precise giggle, weak, short, and all around adding to the impression that she was still upset over the events of last week. She had only picked up the more complicated body language such as ironic laughs, forced smiles, and hidden amusement in the past few years. Contradictory emotions confused her, but they worked. “You win,” she added after the blinking and slight giggling. Shifting from her perch, she sat her bum down on the windowsill and swung her legs down to hang against the stone wall. If Rose wished to continue speaking to her, so be it. Unlike other students, she didn’t shy away from Rose, or from anyone really.
Although treating Carmen to one of her famous quirked eyebrows, she didn’t question her and couldn’t help the little satisfied smile that spread across her lips. Rose valued a victory and wasn’t in a position to doubt something if she had just won. As odd and… off as the younger girl seemed, she supposed that she wasn’t the most normal person in the school either and a harmless staring competition wasn’t a sign of a secret axe murderer or an alien parading around in a fifteen year old’s skin. (Although she was sure it could be if she searched hard enough through the sci-fi section of the muggle library not far from home.
“Well. Horaay for me, I suppose.”
Still having not answered Carmen’s question from before Rose’s victory, she furrowed her brow and leaned against the wall next to Carmen’s windowsill seat. She pondered the answer silently, unsure of how to properly articulate her feelings. Mainly, it was the fact that instead of a simple self defense charm, she had used sectumsempra. She had been raised on war stories and tales of dark wizards who did horrifying deeds. From birth, her sense of right and wrong had been coded into her genetics and even if it was just a silly hunch because she acted a little strange, Rosie couldn’t help feeling uncomfortable. Also coded into her genetics was that determination and braveness that, although mostly went to her cousins, brushed off on her as she was growing up. And that was what led her to opening her mouth to speak instead of walking away, like she possibly should have. Still, what was the worst that could possibly come from a conversation? Surely nothing.
“I’m a little concerned that somebody in the same year as my brother can send somebody the same year as me to the hospital wing, if I’m honest. Lowe was repulsive and digusting and I’m sorry, but really wouldn’t simple self defense spells have done?” she replied, her voice sounding a little harsh.
Almost immediately she felt guilty. If the girl was completely innocent and Rosie was just acting paranoid, then she was probably taking what must have been a horrible experience for her and just making it worse. The build up of stress and worry that had been festering in her mind was refusing to be bottled up and she had accidently let it spill over and almost blame Carmen. Quickly, she tried to backtrack, “I mean —,” but she gave up before she could continue any further, knowing that the real issue that had her thoughts all knotted up wasn’t anything to do with the younger girl.
It was the weekend and therefore no classes. Carmen had left the Ravenclaw common room around mid-day, because she knew that her pity-me act would wear thin if she kept it up for too many hours at a time. The incident with Derek Lowe had occurred nearly a week ago now. She had set herself precisely two weeks to recover from the ‘trauma’, so that meant she ought to be about fifty-percent recovered at the present. It was just maths to her. The incident had done several good things including letting her act withdrawn and antisocial without it being out of character for the act she always put on. Getting away with near-murder was also pretty pleasing, though she had encountered some conflict with Ace Pruitt there. She wouldn’t be talking about that one, though.
As far as anyone was concerned, Carmen was doing homework. Really, she was supposed to be doing homework because she had a Loring essay due on Monday which she hadn’t started, and any student in their right mind would be panicking right about now. But instead of reaching the library she was now in the second-floor corridor, perched on a narrow windowsill, very much like a bird in the way that she squatted, balancing her thin body on her toes. It was as good a place as any to avoid people. She could fix a blank gaze at any student who looked her way. A few partook in the staring contest. If they won, she let them get away without harm. She they lost, she charmed their hair grey. It was a charm she had learned just a few weeks ago. There were now three people walking around Hogwarts with old-person hair, hopefully without knowing the culprit, though a detention wouldn’t exactly put Carmen off.
Waiting for the next student to make eye contact, she found her next victim in Rose Weasley. No blinking, that was her rule. And her eyes had already gone a little watery from the last few staring contests, but it have given her practice. She would quite like to make that vibrant ginger hair grey. Rose Weasley and Carmen Wild were on opposite ends of the scale, in a way. Carmen always did everything in her power to appear completely normal and mainstream (and perching on a windowsill really wasn’t that odd, considering the type of pranks usually pull by students), whereas she knew Rose to be anything but. Normal and anti-normal. Carmen didn’t understand the point in trying to stand out and trying to be different. It was more practical to blend in. Her inability to feel had left her with no desire to stand out from the crowd, so she didn’t understand the point of Rose’s mindset in the slightest.
Getting to her. That’s exactly what she was letting it do and exactly what she had vowed not to let things do a good while ago. It was getting to her and she wanted to stop it from getting to her, so forgetting that there was even anything that could get at her was the easiest alternative to what she had been doing - frowning and pacing and sighing and frowning. Tugging on a cardigan (her muggle grandmother’s, stolen from a suitcase of old treasures from the sixties) she left the blank piece of parchment and the quill that hadn’t written anything and left her worries behind in her dorm. (Except she didn’t ever leave her worries behind her and that was her problem, not the letter she hadn’t written.)
She walked at a quick pace. Too fast for anybody to talk to her; quick enough for words to be lost if anybody tried calling out. She liked walking alone, preferring the sound of her shoes tapping against the floor to the natter of conversation that she wasn’t even interested in. To others, it was more than a matter of her simply wanting to be alone. It was her being cold and aloof and so much better than everybody else because they were oh so mainstream. Although she hardly helped the situation. Her only response to being asked why she acted the way she was usually included the words ‘too’ and ‘mainstream’ in a half ironic display of irony that wasn’t even ironic. As she walked, she stuck her thumbnail in her mouth. Didn’t bite, just pressed her fingers to her lips in thought. Thinking, thinking always thinking. Her head felt like it would tick over if she thought some more. Briefly raising her eyes, she surveyed the milling students around her. Most didn’t care for the odd, too tall ginger girl and those who did catch her eyes looked down out of politeness. At least she hoped it was politeness. Adding ‘intimidating’ to the list of words use to describe her wasn’t something she would be particularly happy to do. Her reputation was ridiculous already - she didn’t want to be seen as scary on top of that. The exception, however, was a small blonde creature perched on a ledge, watching her. Intently. Staring unblinkingly.
“Terrifyingly sweet and terrifyingly… terrifying, little blonde one,” she said by way of greeting as she walked a few steps closer, tipping her head to one side but not breaking eye contact. The recent news would have been enough to make her wary of Carmen, but more than once her eyes had flicked to her across the common room as she sat in her corner armchair and observed those around her. She appeared as being made of sugar and spice and all things nice. But windowsill perching and staring as well as being able to cast sectumsempra made Rosie skeptical of her outward appearance.
Regardless of whether she was or wasn’t totally creepy, she wasn’t going to let somebody just outstare her like that. Perhaps it was that bit of stubborn Gryffindor in her blood. Folding her arms across her chest she raised one of her eyebrows, as if to say ‘game on’.