Floo Network

🌷 Spring 70
Wrapped in a mystery...

Started by Bobby Cashmore, August 13, 2021, 11:54:56 pm

Bobby Cashmore

It was a weekend in the beginnings of spring, and Ravenclaw Tower was subdued; it wasn't one of the weekends students would normally go out to Hogsmeade, and there was a muted air of homework having already been done, though a few of the more Gryffindor-ish Ravenclaws were enthusiastically putting it off until later in the weekend.

And Bobby was at something of a loose end. He had no homework to do, none of his books seemed particularly interesting at that moment; it wasn't fair to suggest he was bored, per se, more that pervasive sense of ennui when nothing interesting was actively going on and the mind was hungry for inspiration.

He sat there in the common room, dealing himself another round of three cards from the top of the deck, trying to see if he could find a way to prise the cards into something approaching a useful conclusion - but his pack of cards was stubbornly and resolutely not behaving today. Not wizarding cards, of course, but muggle ones. Some reminder of home, a link back to his roots, and the occasional source of confusion when his house-mates would notice the pictures on the court cards and be surprised or confused that they didn't move, and that that was normal.

Truth be told he had heard about wizarding cards - descended from tarot cards, thus coming in a much larger deck - but he didn't feel particularly interested. It felt like a blending of cultures that had no business blending.

But he stepped through the deck, those cards were not going to shift, so he flipped them all over, stacked them into a deck and started shuffling. His father had taught him how to shuffle, both the usual way of sliding half the deck off and letting the cards slide back into each other, as well as a more advanced riffle shuffle that really relied on cards that weren't perfectly new.

Shuffling was a mostly auto-pilot move for him at this point, even riffle shuffle, just needed some basic concentration to prevent the cards going everywhere, but it gave him a few minutes to just watch what was going on around him - and he noticed one of his fellow third years looking a little more lost than usual. Bobby didn't have much in the way of interaction with Gemini outside class, but just on occasion he thought that Gemini was one of the good guys, even if maybe Bobby thought Gemini could maybe use being a little less uptight. Though, in retrospect, Bobby knew he himself could be a bit like that.

He called across the common room - not too loudly, you understand - before wandering generally in that direction. "Would you like a game of cards?" It might do both of them some good to be occupied.

Gemini Marvel Enigma

Gemini wasn't one to be bothered by his homework being done--and it always seemed to be. Call him a teacher's pet, but he was playing the long game. Every good impression now mattered later.

Besides, there was always more to learn. He'd become a familiar denizen of the library, poking through the shelves for interesting topics that were suitably above his year level. Even if he couldn't do any practical work now, understanding the theory would set him above his classmates when they actually started working on these topics.

This, then, is how Gemini, a third-year, ended up contentedly reading The Fundamentals of Human Transfiguration whilst draped over a chair in the Common Room. Experts in disguise had some of the highest clearance levels in the Ministry, for obvious reasons. Now, if he was going to be the youngest ever Minister for Magic, which he was, then clearance wouldn't be a concern, but he did have to do something before he began his campaign.

He was interrupted in pondering the implications of this particular theory by an invitation to...play cards?

He looked up at his classmate, rather surprised, if for no other reason than people didn't generally approach him with social engagements. But he sat upright anyway, settling the heavy book on his lap.

"That very much depends on the implications. Lineage aside, I do not consider myself a gambling sort of man; nor do I find much interest in the cards of Divination. But if this is merely some extension of good feeling and social possibility, I shall at least attempt to join you."

Maybe he should have used more colloquialisms. Well, these were Ravenclaws; surely they would be impressed by the way he talked.
"But please, do not hold me to the standard of a fallen angel. My wings are not broken; I am building them myself, and I intend to ascend under my own power. Do not try to save me."

Bobby Cashmore

Bobby smiled, a little awkwardly. "No gambling, no divination, just you and me and a deck of cards." He hadn't realised Gemini was reading a book, from across the common room, he seemed simply disinterested in everything.

He wasn't quite sure what Gemini's ambitions were, but whatever they were, it seemed like solely academic pursuits weren't the only marker of successfully moving up the ladder; he'd learned that from his father that it wasn't just about knowing your stuff but getting along with people, and Bobby was trying to do more of that this year now he'd gotten more comfortable with the 'magic thing'. So far in the academic year, he'd consciously talked to people, interacted with other students in ways he wouldn't normally.

His father had taught him several card games but the one he settled on to suggest was one called 'Eights'. He quickly explained, "Well, I was thinking about this game called Eights. I deal us each five cards, and I turn over a card to start us off. Each turn we try to play a card that matches the one on the table either by value or suit - so if it's the Jack of Diamonds, whoever's next needs to play a Jack or a diamond, and if you don't have either, pick up one from the deck. And we keep going until one of us has no cards left. It's called eights because if you have an eight you can always play it even if it doesn't match what's on the table. Does that make sense?"

He realised he'd hurried through the explanation a bit, but he sat down in an adjacent chair, pulled up a small side table and began to deal five to each of them, and turned up the first card; the Seven of Hearts.

"Of course if you know any better games, we can definitely play those too. I just wanted us to play something."

Gemini Marvel Enigma

Gemini set his book aside and tilted his head quizzically. "No, I've not been much for games. But I shall try this one." Somehow it bothered him that this was one thing he wasn't an expert in, frivolous though it may have been.

There were multiple reasons to accept his classmate's request. For one, he didn't know where this other boy was heading in life, but he could get a better sense of it and potentially make a good connection over the course of this interaction. For another, it was a chance to learn something new.

Also, maybe his mother would stop bothering him about making 'friends'. Which was hard enough with a quarter of the school knowing the shameful circumstances surrounding and following his birth.

He picked up his cards and looked over them briefly before shielding them. He could see them, but he didn't need to; Gemini had an excellent memory.

"Very well, then, who takes the first turn?"
"But please, do not hold me to the standard of a fallen angel. My wings are not broken; I am building them myself, and I intend to ascend under my own power. Do not try to save me."

Bobby Cashmore

"Normally, the player to the left of the dealer would start - since I dealt, that would be you to start. Have you got a heart or a seven?"

Bobby wondered if Gemini had ever played a game of cards before. Of course, it was a pretty normal activity in his family home, but he'd seen enough of wizarding life to realise that not only did wizards have their own games and distractions, all of which were more 'engaging' than mundane ones, and he'd often wondered if he should make the trip out to Hogsmeade sometime to collect something from Zonko's, or somewhere else.

He often wondered what the wizarding equivalent to Hamleys - the largest toy shop in the country, if not the world - might have been. Or, for that matter, Woolworths. Did wizards even have 'department stores' like Selfridges or Debenhams, or even Woolworths?

"Are there any games you like to play? Anything you'd recommend?" He tried not to be awkward about it and eventually decided aganist mentioning the fact that he was a muggleborn and raising the complete cultural divide.

Gemini Marvel Enigma

Gemini looked over his cards, even though he didn't need to, having memorized them; no matter how much he trusted his mind (and that was quite a bit), he was not about to make a proclamation he couldn't follow through on.

But he was right. Of course he was.

"Seven," he said, laying the card down. Right number, wrong suit. How utterly curious that on this game it was acceptable to be half-correct.

"And no," he continued, "I don't usually...play." He couldn't remember a time that he had, even as a child. "Unless, of course, one refers to playing an instrument." It was perhaps a feeble attempt at humor--not Gemini's forte--but he did appreciate wordplay, and so would anyone who deserved his company.

"You should then realize the honor that I have deigned to attempt it with you," Gemini added. Just a reminder to the boy...
"But please, do not hold me to the standard of a fallen angel. My wings are not broken; I am building them myself, and I intend to ascend under my own power. Do not try to save me."

Bobby Cashmore

Bobby looked through his own cards. He had a hand full of spades and hearts but it was the seven of clubs on the table, and nothing he could do, so, he drew a card and shrugged ever so slightly. "I've got nothing."

Gemini's comment was a bit surprising, and a bit abrupt - Bobby knew that Gemini didn't play, and truth be told, that was kind of why he'd tried to invite him for a game. It was all very well having airs and graces but even the most magisterial of wizards had to know that they had to work with their people rather than treating them as things, disposable and replaceable.

Forcing every trace of sincerity he possessed, Bobby tried to smile. "Thank you, I'm glad - I think playing games with people helps to get to know them a little better and it's helped me understand people a bit... I think."

Gemini Marvel Enigma

"Does that make it my turn?" Gemini queried, glancing over his deck. He had a six of clubs, but unless they changed suits after that he'd be out. He'd never much liked chance games where skill or intelligence didn't determine a win. He always felt cheated by the idea.

His companion's comment was an interesting one. The idea that social activities could help one to gain a better understanding of people was not beyond Gemini, but he hadn't previously seen it as sufficient reason to undertake such things. However, for the purposes of anything from manipulation to simple observation, perhaps it was worth his while.

"Most intriguing," he said. "And I should never be one to turn down such a chance. Observation is key to achievement, and such an often overlooked step. Curious, isn't it? The things one learns."
"But please, do not hold me to the standard of a fallen angel. My wings are not broken; I am building them myself, and I intend to ascend under my own power. Do not try to save me."

Bobby Cashmore

Bobby nodded, "I didn't have anything I could play, so my turn was picking up a card, and it's back to you. Either another seven, or a club. You can always play an eight of any suit, as the name of the game."

Gemini's comment was right, though, the things one learns. That was Bobby, really: he hoped to never stop learning, it was something his dad had mentioned, that some people learn lots in school and then they think they know everything - so they stop learning. One of his dad's sayings was 'every day's a school day', and he wondered what he would learn today.

"I think you're right about that, that there's always something to see and something to learn." He didn't want to go as far as evangelising his dad's wisdom, but he often thought about it, especially on days like today where he'd be otherwise the tiniest shade homesick.

Gemini Marvel Enigma

Gemini flicked the six of clubs from his deck and set it down on top of the previous card, closing the fan of cards in his hand.

"Learning, as a concept, is both over- and under-valued," he asserted. "The possession thereof, besides being esteemed, is deceptive in concept, for it implies an end to the oft-overlooked process. That is the only danger of it. If one accepts the gains of the perpetual undertaking, then the benefits, too, are unending."

The idea that one could have learning was disappointingly false, to Gemini. It should never even be imagined to cease, otherwise the person would just give up. This would be a test to discern if this companion was worthy of his time.
"But please, do not hold me to the standard of a fallen angel. My wings are not broken; I am building them myself, and I intend to ascend under my own power. Do not try to save me."

Bobby Cashmore

The folding of the hand... Bobby suspected that meant the other boy's hand was empty of cards that could be played. He had that impression because his mother did something similar, it was simply a subconscious gesture of 'I don't need to look at this, because nothing will change if I do'. It was something of a tell, but not one he'd admit to.

Still, it gave him food for thought... and made him want to play a card just to switch the suit. Either the six of diamonds or the eight of spades, but he wasn't sure it was quite time for a wildcard. Six of diamonds it was going to be.

And then there was the matter of Gemini's musing. "Learning as a concept is an abstract... it's not a destination, but a journey. There's always more to see, you could read a new book every day and not get through all the books there are, or go to a new place every day and not see all of the world."

He paused, laying his card down. "I think the bigger challenge is trying to work out what's best to study. There's too much to study all of it."

Gemini Marvel Enigma

Ah, the concept of everything. Now there was a way to get Gemini excited.

He frowned briefly at the fact that he didn't have a card to put down and drew one, then returned to his speech.

"The truth of everything is that, while we assume and can reasonably gauge it to be vast, it is by definition well-nigh immeasurable and thus a nebulous quantity at best. This does not,
I assure you, render your statement incorrect, though one does wonder if to learn everything is impossible, rather than merely improbable." He scowled. "Like winning this game."
"But please, do not hold me to the standard of a fallen angel. My wings are not broken; I am building them myself, and I intend to ascend under my own power. Do not try to save me."

Bobby Cashmore

Hmm. Bobby had hoped to leave Gemini a card to play, but if he had no diamonds, he had no diamonds. Oh well.

The choices in his own hand weren't a fat lot better, either playing a wildcard or taking one himself. The thread of conversation was interesting so instead of derailing it to reinforce the rules - since the wilcard hadn't come up already - it was taking another card. It was another diamond so he could at least play next turn if nothing else.

"Well, I don't think winning this game is improbable; we both have roughly a fifty-fifty chance of winning, though I think you can tip the odds slightly in your favour by watching what's played and trying to think about what your opponent might have. Apparently people in casinos do this for multiple entire decks at a time."

He paused, thinking how to phrase it. "I think to learn everything is impossible. Every day people are discovering new things, figuring out things, and that's just in one country, not even the whole world. And the stars... so many stars, they can't all have no planets around them with no life, surely? I don't know how we'd get out there to find out though."

He shrugged a little. "I just think the amount of stuff there is to see is simply so vast, it's not immeasurable... it's not imaginable. Not that it stopped me trying." A grin flashed across his face at the end there.

Gemini Marvel Enigma

The card Gemini had drawn was another diamond, a five, thank Merlin, so he put it down on top of the pile. Hopefully, they would change suits and he could go somewhere with that. In the meantime, he nodded seriously.

"For most, it is indeed unimaginable. It is certainly impossible to imagine in any unknown detail. However, vastness as a concept can be grasped, as well as the more complex aspects of the natural world. Yet, I might even suggest that it all culminates in a more and yet less perceivable point, a pinnacle of everything, the center of the web. Perception itself must have a zenith."

Sometimes Gemini wondered if he was properly conveying his thoughts, or if their complexity made him sound insane.
"But please, do not hold me to the standard of a fallen angel. My wings are not broken; I am building them myself, and I intend to ascend under my own power. Do not try to save me."

Bobby Cashmore

Zenith? That was a word Bobby hadn't heard before, but from context, it sounded like a peak, or the innermost point of something. Either way, what Gemini was saying made sense. That everything was so vast and complex it was impossible to visualise and yet its impossibility was in itself conceivable.

It occurred to him - not the very first time, but one of the few times in the last two plus years - that he really was in the right place being in Ravenclaw. He couldn't imagine having this sort of debate with any of the students he knew in the other houses. The Gryffindors he knew didn't care, the Hufflepuffs didn't concern themselves with fanciful notions because there were always more practical things to be dealing with, and the Slytherins were too busy scheming or having ambitions - or both - to simply stop and observe the world around them.

He played the diamond he had, hoping that Gemini had another of the same number, because he was fairly sure there wasn't another diamond lurking in his hand.

"I sometimes wonder if this is what people who study philosophy at muggle university think about. Y'know, thinking about thinking. Coming up with a sort of... ultimate clarity of thought. A way of trying to understand the universe on a purely logical level, and, I s'pose, trying to understand ourselves as well. We are part of everything, everything is part of us and it is all connected."

He lapsed into silence. Everything was such a large topic to talk about.