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 A Midnight Swim

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Kissofdeath

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PostSubject: A Midnight Swim   Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:51 pm


Barefooted feet made their way through the Hogwarts grounds, quietly and daintily as though their owner sought not to disturb any of the nature surrounding her. It was this time of night, midnight, the middle of both late night and early morning that Aphrodite Levinthal loved best. At this time of night and day, it was completely silent as nature rested and rejuvenated for the new day ahead. Although she did not often enjoy being alone she was never lonesome  amidst a forest with trees and a myriad of plants and wildlife towering over her and encompassing her. She simply felt one with it all.

Aphrodite had enjoyed nightly swims for as long as she could remember, as a child venturing into bodies of water all throughout the world, as a student at Hogwarts, sneaking off while her dorm mates were asleep, and even now as an adult as she taught here at Hogwarts. It was difficult to put into words how her jumps into the ocean made her feel: alive, rejuvenated, reborn... So many words that could describe the same idea, but never the whole. It didn't matter how cold the weather was, Aphrodite needed her dives just as much as one needed to breathe. Even now as a nightly chill caressed her barely clothed form and the beginning frosts of the winter season began to form around her, nothing deterred Aphrodite from her watery destination. Instead, she continued to stare in awe and wonder at her surroundings, singing to herself softly an old ballad her parents used to perform.

"Last night there were four Marys
Tonight there'll be but three
There was Mary Seaton and Mary Beaton
And Mary Carmichael and me.

Oh, often have I dressed my Queen
And put on her braw silk gown
But all the thanks I've got tonight
Is to be hanged in Edinborough Town.

Full often have I dressed my Queen
Put gold upon her hair
But I have got for my reward
The gallows to be my share.

Oh, little did my mother know
The day she cradled me
The land I was to travel in
The death I was to dee.

Oh, happy, happy is the maid
That's born of beauty free
Oh, it was my rosy, dimpled cheeks
That's been the devil to me.

They'll tie a kerchief around my eyes
That I may not see to dee
And they'll never tell my father or mother
But that I'm across the sea."


A soft smile lit her face as she finally reached her destination. Excited and not wanting to waste another moment she crossed her way through the rocks separating her from her paradise. Gracefully, she removed the long, free-flowing skirt and gently removed the open, flowing, midriff-showing blouse she wore, leaving her in only her emerald undergarments. The undergarments would come off later, gradually, once she was within the water's embrace. Although the clothing she typically wore was already open and free-flowing in a Bohemian-esque way, in her natural form she felt as free as a bird. Quite literally, in fact, considering that the small hummingbird that adorned the back of her left shoulder was wholly revealed, as well as tattooed vine bracelet at her right wrist, and small earth goddess at her left ankle. 

Not wanting to waste another moment, Aphrodite excitedly dove, gracefully, headfirst into the lake...

 

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PostSubject: Re: A Midnight Swim   Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:49 pm

After making sure his two mischievous sons had fallen sound asleep in their beds, Nikolai left his quarters. He needed some fresh air, and he’d created yet another project to embark upon. Stealthily he gathered a book, a quick-quotes-quill with parchment, and his cloak. The wizard himself was dressed simply in a hunter green shirt and denim-looking trousers beneath his robes of navy blue. His hair was starting to grow back out again. Instead of getting it cut, Nikolai let it grow and pulled it back into a presently stubby ponytail.

The evening chill caught him by surprise, but he was too determined to be discouraged. In all his years of decipherings and translations, Nikolai had never given thought to genuinely making his own set of rune symbols. All of this time he had held onto the notion that the ancient authors of translation tomes and alphabets contained what was needed, and nothing more was required. Until recently he also thought the muggle beads and stones with words and such inscribed upon them were silly imitations, even mockeries, of proper runes. No longer was this his consensus, though he could not recall the inspiring force behind this epiphany.

How long had it been since a new rune had been made? Furthermore... what if magic had ‘evolved’ as some muggles put it, and no longer required to be consolidated into a universally renowned, translatable symbol? Wouldn’t it be more plausible, and more powerful to the user itself, if the rune was entirely personal in its creation? That was his hypothesis. Now he needed the materials to carry out his research.

Runes could, in essence be made out of anything. Nikolai himself had several sets of runestones. Wood, pebbles, shells, bones, teeth, talons... the options were unlimited. He even had a set of runes inscribed upon butterbeer bottle caps. However, if truth were to be told, Nikolai felt that stones or pebbles worked best for any working a wizard had in mind. Stones being firmly planted into the earth made for solid castings, whereas items collected on the air made a reading more whimsical. This was why he ventured toward the lake: they would be the smoothest rocks he could find, grounded in earth and tempered by water.

Admittedly, Nikolai’s eyes were trained upon the ground rather than the landscape ahead. He did not notice he wasn’t the only one at the lake. The gentle swish-swoshing of the lake further hypnotized him into obliviousness. It was only when he stooped, drawn to one of the smooth stones, did the wizard catch the sight of another from the corner of his eye. In an instant he snapped his head up to see who or what had moved, and caught the sight of an undeniably female form vanish into the watery depths. Silver eyes blinked in surprise. Ever the curious type, Nikolai pocketed the stone he had been drawn to and sat on a nearby boulder to wait and see who happened to be out for a late-night swim.

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PostSubject: Re: A Midnight Swim   Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:19 pm

Underneath the waves was the most blissful feeling. It was as though any worries, cares, and fears Aphrodite had were washed away, cleansed by the eternal caress of Mother Nature's blessing. It was funny to think that although she had dove into these depths countless times but yet each and every time she did so it felt like the first time, all brand new. And so it technically was, considering the spirit's eternal life-giving nature. That was what she loved above all of nature: the eternity of it. Regardless of the ashes of death, there was always a beginning sprouting in fragile green.

Aided by moonlight she gazed in wonder at the life at the bottom of the lake. She frolicked through the waters as though she were one of the merfolk that resided further into these waters. Her experience in these antics had allowed her great practice when it came to breath control and sustaining herself underwater so it wasn't until a few minutes had passed, minutes of twirling and spinning about that she needed to return to the surface. Once her need did return though, she kicked her feet, removing her top garment and allowing it to float into the water towards the shore where her other clothing lay. 

Her raven head splashed above the surface as she regained her breath, panting slightly from her rush to return to the surface. The air was even colder now that she was wet, but Aphrodite didn't care. She had never felt more free than she did when she was here at the lake. Here, she was alone, one with the waves. Or at least, she thought she was...

Although her bare back was toward the shore, a slight movement and shadow was picked up by her peripheral vision. She dared to tilt her head slightly to try and catch a glimpse of who or what the figure was. She didn't have much luck, unfortunately. All she could tell was that someone was there, sitting on top of a boulder. 

Well this was an interesting predicament. Leave it to her to get herself into a situation such as this one, she thought to herself. Though, her mind also reasoned, was there really anyone else who went for midnight swims in the middle of the lake, in the manner and "dress code" she herself did, especially in this hour? No, likely not. 

Aphrodite pondered to herself for a moment on what to do, weighing her options. Truthfully, she wasn't the least bit embarrassed in being noticed in such a state, though she was a bit wary, most precisely of the fact that the figure could very well be a student. An underaged male student... she mused. Aphrodite wasn't a witch who grew easily uncomfortable or embarrassed in certain situations but she didn't really fancy having a discussion with the Headmistress in which she would have to explain why a student happened upon their Herbology Professor topless and nearly nude.

Tilting her head a bit more to try and catch a better glimpse of the stranger, though not so much that she would be wholly exposed, Aphrodite glanced back at the shore. "Are you of-age?" she called out to the stranger. It was an odd question, perhaps, or at least it was an odd thing to question and do first, but in truth she was voicing her only concern. Waiting for the answer, she cranes her neck slightly, trying to discern who the stranger was. The person looked rather familiar...
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PostSubject: Re: A Midnight Swim   Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:44 pm

Nikolai was a little concerned that maybe he was seeing things when minutes passed. Or, perhaps the diver cast a charm to aid them in underwater exploration. He squinted when something broke the surface of the water. The moment he recognized it as a woman's undergarment, and that it wasn't secured around the woman it belonged to, Nikolai felt a rush of heat storm his cheekbones. Perhaps he shouldn't be here... What if a student had come out here? That was the last thing he needed: to be accused of an inappropriate relationship with a student based on an unforeseeable chance encounter.

Before he could decide whether to stay or go, the owner of the undergarment surfaced. Thank Merlin, for now, that the witch in the lake had her back turned to him. It seemed almost instantly that she realized he was there. Nikolai wasn't certain if that was a good thing or not. Either way, this was an interesting predicament, to be sure... past experiences told him he should cover his eyes and apologize profusely for intruding. On the other hand, she wasn't exactly exposed for him to see just yet...

At the question posed, Nikolai quirked his eyebrow. That sounded like Aphrodite Levinthal, the Herbology professor. What a relief! It was such a relief, in fact, that Nikolai actually laughed. "I believe the expression goes 'I am old enough to know better, but still too young to care,' Aphrodite..." he answered jovially. The tone was soft, warm, and flecked with a hint of an accent neither of his Malfoy parents carried on their tongues. It could have been German, or even a splash of Russian.

"Erm... You enjoying your swim?" he asked, attempting to do the gentlemanly thing by averting his gaze at the very least.

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PostSubject: Re: A Midnight Swim   Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:51 pm

With bated breath Aphrodite waited for a reply to her inquiry, hoping against odds that it wasn't a student. At the sound of male laughter, for a moment, Aphrodite thought she was officially done for. She could practically imagine the flurry it would cause: brags and high fives amidst the Hogwarts boys, eye rolls and scoffs from the girls, gossip from the staff, owls from parents, and one Headmistress likely to be furious! Luckily, however, the stranger replied in a voice familiar to the witch. Nikolai Malfoy! Thank Merlin! She wouldn't be needing to hunt for a new job after all!

A light cadence of laughter escaped the witch at the wizard's reply. "Well, as long as your youth will not be so young as to put me into hot water with the Headmistress, all is well in my book." she teased lightly, thoroughly relieved that it was her colleague, not a pupil, that had happened across her.

The witch plunged more into the depths, this time swimming back towards the shore she had started from. She surfaced at a spot in front of the boulder her colleague was on top of close enough to be able to see him better, but not so close as to appear indecent. Aphrodite also took care to position herself in front of the boulder in a way that prevented herself from being indecently exposed. Or at least, not as exposed as she would be in a different stance.

She fought the urge to giggle at Nikolai's polite aversion to his gaze, though nodded at his inquiry. "Indeed I am. I find that a midnight swim has a way of cleansing the soul and spirit  in a way nothing else can. Particularly when the moon is in the sky, surrounded by the stars."

"And yourself, Nikolai? Are you enjoying the view of this midnight hour?" Aphrodite inquired politely, though it was rather unclear which view of the night the witch was referring to. 

At the back of her mind she wondered what it was that brought Nikolai out here at this time of night. Although the two Professors had known each other for a fair amount of time and got along rather well, the familiarity had yet to reach a wholly personal level, so Aphrodite couldn't say if Nikolai was, like herself, one for midnight swims in the lake. A shame, Aphrodite though, considering that Nikolai was one of the colleagues that Aphrodite fared better with, for he did not seem to mind her quirks as much as others, such as the Astronomy Professor, seemed to. Well, perhaps if Nikolai was one for such swims, or was interested in starting such rituals Aphrodite would have luck in convincing him to join her. Though, judging by Nikolai's current stance, such excursions would likely have to be more clothed ones. At least, to begin with. Only time would tell what could and would happen next.
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PostSubject: Re: A Midnight Swim   Tue Jun 19, 2012 11:10 pm

Nikolai chuckled at the teasing. “No... haven’t been that young for quite a while, I’m afraid... No matter how hard I try to insist that aging stops at thirty-four,” he replied, though there was a smile on his face. When he heard the water splash, the professor chanced a glance in Aphrodite’s direction. He was prepared to look away again at a moment’s notice. However, she had situated herself to remain covered. Nikolai supposed that was his cue that he could look, and returned his silver gaze to Aphrodite’s emerald orbs.

“I may have to try it sometime... see if it does the same for me,” Nikolai smiled. Perhaps it would aid him after a long day of classes, translations, and dealing with his sons, allowing him to get a relaxed night’s sleep and awaken renewed. At the return question, Nikolai mused how to respond. “I am,” he chuckled, regardless of which ‘view’ she might have intended. If he were to be entirely honest he liked walking out in the moonlight, and he certainly wouldn’t turn down the company he had found unless he was asked to leave.

Nikolai couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if he were to tell Aphrodite everything regarding his visit to the lake. Would she find his epiphany a creative and innovative approach to the Runic studies, or something ridiculous and laughable? Encounters previous with the witch had always turned out well: he didn’t mind her quirks and, to his knowledge, she didn’t mind his. “An idea struck me... in class,” he began slowly.

Contemplatively the wizard picked up another water-polished stone, and caressed its smooth surface. “The phase of the moon, the time, and the elements here at the lake are all perfect place and time for gathering future runes for this experiment.” Nicolai stretched out his arm to display the brown-white swirled stone he’d found so that Aphrodite could see.

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PostSubject: Re: A Midnight Swim   Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:15 am

"Ah, I see. Well then we must try harder to insist that aging stops at thirty-four, won't we? Otherwise there won't be much hope for us, I fear." she laughed lightly, teasingly referring to the fact that both of them had passed that age mentioned. "We'll soon be as shriveled as a Mandrake Root soon!"

"Absolutely!" Aphrodite encouraged brightly, glad that Nikolai was showing interest in a ritual such as this one, though personally the witch would be making sure 'sometime' would be coming sooner than the wizard expected. After all, 'sometime' wasn't an hour of the day! "Personally I've been trying to convince our dear Headmistress that we as a staff should have gatherings like this, you know, to encourage team work, but needless to say she didn't agree with me. I wonder why though..." the witch added, appearing to be genuinely confused as to why others would be put off with ideas such as her own. Coming from such a free-spirited, open upbringing such as her own allowed for the witch to be more open-minded by such notions, unhindered by propriety, as seen by her apparent lack of discomfort in her current state of nearly nude, next to her male colleague.

"In any case though, I do hope you will try, and enjoy such a dive into the waters." the Herbology Professor added sincerely, though a flicker of mischief twinkled in her eyes as she pondered how to make sure her dear colleague's 'dive' would occur. She giggled lightly at the confirmation that he was, indeed, enjoying the view.

A raven eyebrow rose in interest at Nikolai's words regarding an idea sprouted while teaching. Although Ancient Runes was not her best subject during her days at Hogwarts she remembered enough to understand the major concepts and theories behind it. She listened intently to his thoughts, genuinely finding it to be interesting and indeed plausible. The smile already present on her face widened at Nikolai's words. The mischevious glint that had flickered previously returned, this time full-fledged. Perfect... she thought to herself, grinning inwardly.

She inclined her neck to view the stone he was reaching out towards her and nodded. "It does sound plausible, Professor. In fact, I think we could test that idea with a "rune hunt" right... now!" she exclaimed as she grasped Nikolai's hand that held the stone and pulled him into the water with the 'dive' she had previously mentioned, as a stream of laughter escaped her.
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PostSubject: Re: A Midnight Swim   Tue Jun 26, 2012 2:29 am

Nikolai laughed. “Indeed. Though, there is always hope... we could be wrong in our calculations. Especially if forty is in fact the ‘new twenty’.”

The wizard smiled, then shrugged, at the question regarding their Headmistress’s veto of the idea. “Dunno. But some of the professors don’t strike me as avid swimmers.” The thought of Basil Munroe taking off but even one layer of robes to go swimming seemed almost as likely as the Giant Squid was to start roaming the land while singing opera, dancing in ballet slippers and a tutu. While Nikolai wasn’t raised in an open setting, he could feasibly see the staff or even students congregating for a swim, easily – especially when the warmer months hit. Admittedly, all would need to be appropriately covered by swimwear rather than the depths of the water or nearby boulders for Aphrodite’s idea to happen... He certainly wouldn’t want to see any of his male colleagues in the nude!

Nikolai appreciated her interest, regardless whether it was merely polite or wholly genuine. His sons did not quite share the same full-force fascination despite having named them after historical translators. The students were largely a mixed bag of reactions. Malfoy relatives often laughed at him, considering ancient runes to be a lost and dying skill. This recent hypothesis of his could potentially bring back the runes from a mostly lost art and into high prominence once again. The looks on their faces at his success would be priceless!

Nikolai did not catch Aphrodite’s mischievous expression until it was much too late. All it took was one good pull from the witch and Nikolai tumbled forward, head first, into the lake. It was a rather unceremonious dive and the wizard had been too surprised to even think about holding his breath. The water was cold against his already-chilled skin. Without delay he scrambled for the surface, having entirely forgotten about spells that could be used to aid in underwater excursions. Nikolai emerged a short distance away from Aphrodite, gasping, sputtering, and coughing... and with a peculiar pink tinge across his cheeks.

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PostSubject: Re: A Midnight Swim   Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:35 pm

"Forty the 'new twenty'? Oh I do like the sound of that. To be so young, wild, and free..." she sighed happily in an intricate blend of lighthearted teasing and sincerity. Though the witch typically kept on a optimistic front she could not deny the blissful innocence youth possessed. One could be given wisdom, faith, love, and pride with the passage of time, but never innocence.

Although Aphrodite tended to keep to herself, typically opting to stay in her greenhouse or in the outdoors rather than mingling in idle staff gossip she knew enough of her colleagues to understand and agree with Nikolai's point. If such a gathering were to occur it likely wouldn't manifest the way the witch preferred, regrettably. It would likely be seen as a wholly inappropriate affair and not at all the spiritual cleansing Aphrodite saw her swims as. A pity indeed. She sighed in response, shrugging. "Well, a witch can only dream I suppose." 

A tinge of mischievous teasing splashed her tone as she inquired with an arched eyebrow. "Unless of course you'd be willing to aid me in tossing a few of them in. I know one or two of them who could certainly use a release from negative energy... Shall I have a partner in crime?" she laughed lightly.

As Nikolai emerged into the surface Aphrodite attempted to control her light laughter but to no avail as her giggles cadences through the waters. She thought she saw a flicker of pink tinting the wizard's face but brushed it off, thinking it to be no more than a trick of the moon light. "I take it 'sometime' arrived a bit sooner than you expected?" she inquired teasingly with an arched eyebrow. Despite herself, Aphrodite couldn't help but notice the way Nikolai's locks now clung to his soaked form, framing his handsome face.

Wait... Handsome? When did Aphrodite start seeing here colleague as handsome?! True, Nikolai Malfoy was a rather attractive wizard... But when Nikolai shift from "friendly, brilliant colleague" into "attractive, alluring wizard"? 

For the first time this evening, the witch blushed a faint pink as she tried to quiet the musings of her mind's eye
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