In his arms, Al held a package. Within this package was a box of chocolates and a new journal his parents had sent as a random "we're just checking up on you" gift. This wasn't new to him, not since his transfer from Durmstrang. It didn't seem to matter how much time passed, his parents always seemed to worry about him. It was okay most of the time, but there were moments where Al felt... a bit offended. The fact that he felt that way on account of his parents made him feel awful. He didn't want to feel that way, nor did he want to be treated as if he were a bomb that could go off at any second. By now, Alric felt as if he parents should have trusted him more; should have just... accepted that he would be fine without their constant checkups and realize that he could handle himself just fine. Sure, he was still sort of lying to them, but... well he wasn't practicing the dark arts anymore, he just was continuing to study them. Well, okay, actually, there were times when he would go out early in the morning to the gardens or the forest and cast a few spells here and there, but he never cast them at anything else but a tree or a rock, or something that wouldn't die. Studying them in this way was less effective, but Al managed.
Ah, but he didn't want to think about any of that. As it were, Alric was more than happy to receive the gifts his parents had sent. The contents showed that they still loved him, and that they paid attention to other things about him (or that pertained to his life) aside from his fascination with the taboo. He walked diligently through the corridors, his amusement at the distance he needed to travel to get to the owlery clearly shown in the smirk he bore as he made his way up. It was sort of a nice workout to have to travel this far from his Hufflepuff den, which was welcomed warmly as Al did love a good workout. Coincidentally, Al had just finished writing his parents his usual weekly letter that told them what he had done so far in the week, along with any plans he had made with friends. He did this ritually, as both his parents and himself enjoyed the constant letters. It kept a good connection, as well as kept them in the loop of anything going on his life. But it had been on his way out that a great grey owl had met him with a small package attached to his foot. The package had apparently been on a timer and had enlarged to (it was assumed) its normal size. Usually he tried to send things back with his parentsí owl, but the bird was a bit old in age and as a result appeared to have little patience. It had left before he had even had the chance to pull his letter out, hence the trip on his own to the owlery. He supposed he could have gone back to his room to set his things at his bed, but he hadn't really wanted to bother with getting back in.
For a healthy guy like Al, the trip was easy enough. Already he had reached the corridor that would take him to the final set of stairs that - should have - led to the owlery. One never could really know for sure if they took the correct stairs, what with the castle and its tricky nature of changing pathways near constantly. It didn't matter much if he had taken a wrong turn or on if the stairs had changed on him, Al enjoyed walking enough that it made no difference when he got to send his letter, just that he eventually got there. Whistling softly as he could, the seventh year kept his gaze set in front of him, his package tucked snugly under his left arm, and his attention focused on nothing but random thoughts on what he would do later.
Rixen was sad. No, that was an under-statement, she was damn depressed. She really didn't know what to do. Alois was starting to act nothing like himself, and it was starting to get a bit annoying. He would get involved in Dark Arts, and sometimes would turn on his own flesh and blood. She wouldn't hurt him, so she was an easy target. Some people would say it was sibling rivalry, others would say the Dark Arts corrupted his mind. Honestly? Rixen didn't know what to say. She loved him, as any sister would love their brother, who had helped them get back 'memories' and comfort them in their time of need. But she couldn't do anything to stop him. At all. She was only a fourth year, and Alois was a seventh year. She had no chance.
Rixen walked down the staircase, nothing overly on her mind. She was just thinking about her current predicament. What to do, what to do... She pondered in her mind. She was away on her own planet, and really did not notice that she was bumped into somebody. She did not notice that she ended up tripping and tumbling down the remainder steps. "Ow..." Rixen murmured, rubbing her head. She sighed and looked to her side. "Sorry! I'm awfully clumsy, see, and I wasn't really paying attention to where I was going." Oh bloody great. Rixen thought. Don't cry. Don't cry. A Phantomhive does not cry. No. No crying. As much as she thought about it. She couldn't help but cry. A few tears left her tearducts. However, she quickly rubbed them. "Don't be stupid." She muttered to herself. She quickly stood up and brushed down her jeans. "Again, awfully sorry! I didn't mean to! I..." She trailed off. This was not good. Rixen felt all soppy inside, like putty. No, she hadn't had that feeling in a looooong time and she did not like it. "Oh bloomin' heck." She muttered, her Yorkshire coming through.
It was a bit hard to miss a girl bumping into him as he came upon the staircase. He reached to grab her before she fell, dropping his parcel in the process, but found that he was far too late in reacting. Turning quickly to pick her up, Al found that he was - yet again - too late, for the girl was already standing up again and looking at him sideways. He stepped around her to pick up his package, all the while listening to the poor girl begin to apologize. She was frantic, her words a bit rushed and her voice wavering slightly, so clearly showing how upset she was over the accident. Hearing her apology made Al feel horrible, because it really wasn't that big of a problem. He hadn't gotten hurt, and even if he had, the collision had been an accident and the only proper way to deal with accidents was to brush them away. "Hey--" He started, but stopped as he noticed a few tears escape her eyes. Seeing girls cry - well, actually, seeing anyone cry was a rough thing for Alric. He was probably a bit more sensitive about the matter than most would be, but that was just how the wizard was, and he really didn't think of it as anything that needed to be changed. There were, after all, worse things about him... Or, at least that's how his parents made it seem sometimes.
Whatever the case, it didn't take the wizard too long after seeing the few first drops of tears to attempt to fix things. Looking down at the girl, Al smiled softly and said, "It's okay. Really! Look," - he spread his arms out, displaying his unharmed body to the girl - "see? I'm fine, it's alright." The seventh year wasn't that naÔve that he thought his assurance would work. It was clear in the witch's expression and in her body language that she was very upset. Her eyes were full of what looked like regret and pain, the way she had quickly wiped away her tears suggested she was a bit too prideful to allow herself a moment to cry, and the constant apologies showed Alric a saddening image of a little boy he used to know that behaved similarly. A numbing chill swept down his spine as his mind went for a quick trip to the past; the images of seeing his little brother hurt because of this or that took over and nearly caused him to join the girl in shedding a few tears. Swallowing the lump in his throat, Alric merely pushed his memories of his brother away and forced himself to pay attention to the witch again. "Let's not ruin a lovely face with tears. I promise I'm not angry. It was just an accident, after all." Gently the boy had spoken to the witch, as he had long since discovered that this was the proper way to speak to a hurt younger sibling. Granted, this girl wasn't related to him, but he assumed the trick would work nonetheless.
"Come now. Let's sit and make sure you're okay." He said, motioning to a step behind him. Upon taking his seat down, Alric shot the girl a rather serious look as if to say, 'I'm certainly not joking.' As with all things, there was a balance between being gentle with someone who was upset and being stern with them. Too much gentleness could result in babying, which never produced a soul who could take care of itself. There had to be just the right amount of kindness accompanied with a sternness that showed them that while there was someone around to help them, they would have to learn how to handle themselves and deal with their problems on their own. The best way Alric had found to instill this type of lesson was to treat the person first with a guided kindness that needed to be accepted, where after he could provide less and less of that sort of help in small increments until the person could live happily on their own. The last part of this wasn't applied with his brother, as Alric couldn't imagine ever leaving his brother to deal with things on his own. Well, not again at least...
But he was getting sidetracked again. After forcing himself to focus on the witch again, the Hufflepuff placed his package to the side and patiently waited for the girl to sit by him. "I'm Alric, by the way. Alric Bolstridge. What is your name?" He inquired with a smile.