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Finn stared, forlorn, at some strips of gradually cooling chicken he'd put on a saucer after dinner. He had been sitting just outside the Hufflepuff common room, atop some of the barrels, for a good half an hour now. At first he was very aware of how he must've looked: choosing this spot over the comfort of the common room to study from The Standard Book of Spells: Grade 1. The majority of hufflepuffs passing by did not look at him, but he took into account the very occasional circumstance where one would lock eyes with him; drawing the very unfair conclusion of everybody is looking at me and thinking I look stupid.
Still, he had to do this. His cat had been gone for over a day now, and no matter how many times others comforted him (that cats disappear for a long, long time and suddenly return); young Finn felt as though he should try every trick in the book.
Of course he'd tried looking in various places around the castle and called his name out to the grounds, but to no avail. Now he was staring at these sad-looking pieces of chicken feeling very sorry for himself. His stomach griped and his throat caught, and in his nose he felt the tension of holding back tears. How stupid it would've been to have cried - particularly in that place and over something so trivial - so he managed to get away with yawning weirdly instead.
He couldn't take any more of his bottom on those barrels, so he got up and abandoned the chicken to explore the dungeons. It was the only place in the castle that he hadn't checked; even if it was a shot in the dark - he needed to make sure. Finn's large, bug-like brown eyes rounded as he dithered about the dungeon corridors; hoping at every turn that his search would come to a close.
Lexer could taste the warmth of spring creeping into the air every time he stepped outside of the castle walls. It meant that Quidditch practices got sweatier and stinkier, but as a prefect, he was glad he got use of the Prefect's bathroom... with that huge tub. But also, spring meant more time outside. While in years past, Lex would spend the majority of the day outside, even with one or two classes cut to enjoy the weather, he knew he had other responsibilities he had to deal with now. Spring was here, which meant summer was just a few short weeks away, and before the fifth year could enjoy summer, he had the dreaded OWLs he needed to pass.
Lex wasn't super studious - he got above average in his classes, but didn't put much work into them. Even now, as he sauntered through the corridors of the dungeon, lost in thought, he didn't really understand nor care all that much about getting outstandings in his owls. The eldest Westbrook passed both her OWLs and NEWTs with almost all Outstandings, but Lexer didn't put that much effort into it. He would put in enough that his dad and pops didn't kill him, though. He figured that would be enough... right?
It was these thoughts that plagued the Slytherin as he rounded a corner. Because he was so lost in thought, he didn't hear the tap of the first year coming around the same corner in seemingly whatever direction. To be fair, Lex basically stumbled into him, and grunted an apology before patting the boy awkwardly on the shoulder and back of the neck, "Sorry, mate. You doing okay? Didn't mean to plow into you."
Lex wasn't always the friendliest Slytherin, but where mistakes were made, he knew to fess up when it was his. The greatest difference between a prideful and arrogant Gryffindor and himself. He had to swallow the snide he wanted to plaster on his face at that thought. "You're a little far from the den of badgers. What brings you out here?"
It was more of a concerned Prefect voice - and with the badge pinned to his robes, it would be obvious that Lex wasn't there as a bully.
The dungeons felt like a vast, underground metropolis when Finn had first arrived at Hogwarts. He was starkly reminded of gringott's wizard bank, as its twists and turns never seemed to cease. Despite the modern age, it had a fairly ominous feel to it; as though you could still hear the screams of old Hogwarts students when they used to shackle them against the walls (or so he had heard in rumour). Salazar Slytherin certainly chose well to accommodate his house, as he was the sort of man who would rather see his early death than admit his students required natural sunlight. As much as times had changed (Finn was oddly interested in old-world attitudes), Finn was always slightly wary of Slytherins.
So it was just his luck that he almost knocked down by one.
The boy's mass gave him away as a quidditch player, even before Finn recognised him. Of course, he did recognise him. Finn was the type of boy who would never admit to it, but took great pleasure in learning others' names whom he thought were interesting. Prefects were interesting, because they were model students - they were sort of like Hogswarts's celebrities - next to quidditch players, and this boy also happened to be one. His name was Lexer Westbrook, and he was a fifth-year.
He gave a shaky sort of laugh in response, feeling the heat of embarrassment. Finn wasn't the most confident of people, but he was always intimidated by older students; even if they were level-headed and perfectly pleasant like Lexer Westbrook was. "Hah, you're all right, I'm fine..."
In actuality, there was now a pain in his right shoulder that he was ignoring. Instead he held an expression that was a mixture of utter apprehension and uncertainty, occasionally fraught with a slight wincing around the eyes. He looked like he'd forgotten how to hold himself correctly. Did he stand usually with his hands by his sides or crossed over his chest? He uncrossed his arms and put them by his side, giving Lexer Westbrook the slightest of smiles.
"Oh yeah, um..." Westbrook seemed quite witty and positively likeable. Finn was taken aback, but found it all very fascinating. "I was looking for my cat. He... hasn't come back yet, and it's been a few days." He got that feeling of being bored with the sound of his own voice; that he was going around repeating the same old thing daily. A flush came over his face when he realised that he'd been moaning. "It's not really a big deal or anything, I know he'll come back eventually..." (I don't really believe what I am saying, thought Finn) "You... haven't happened to see a cat lurking down here, have you?"
There was a clear back tone of desperation that he failed to conceal that time.
Lex gave a weird look towards the first year who said he was fine. The prefect might have not been good with people, but the way the boy shifted himself awkwardly - as if he didn't remember how to stand the right way - made all the red flags go off. He wouldn't say anything just yet, anyways - everyone had their own reasons for hiding their feelings, and if the first year was okay, then until proven otherwise, Lex would simply agree.
Not that he didn't notice the little winces of his eyes every time the first year seemed to move. Lex pondered about this for a long moment before he dismissed it. There really wasn't much he could do if the first year wouldn't openly admit to it. Plus, at this point in time, it wasn't like Lex had anything important to do that'd send the boy off to the Hospital Wing. Hmmm.
As the first year said he was looking for his cat, and that he'd eventually come back -- and followed quickly with a 'have you seen him' comment, the fifth year sighed. Why did people insist on allowing their animals to roam the halls so freely? Even moreso, why did Hogwarts allow animals like cats who weren't tied to their owner?
Lex didn't really like animals, so the whole 'have an animal who should cuddle and be close most of the day' really agitated him. He didn't even have his own owl. His owl was one of his sisters' and even then, he barely sent letters home. He never signed up for classes like, for example, Care of Magical Creatures because he didn't like the idea of dealing with animals. He just... let's just say that Lex was definitely not an animal person.
"Can't say that I have," he said honestly towards the younger boy. He glanced around awkwardly, trying to not make a face at what his thoughts were, "I guess... have you checked closer to the Slytherin commons? There's a lot of passageways that non-Snakes don't usually know about..."
A part of him was using this as an offer to help the boy, but at the same time, it was simply a suggestion. He figured he'd be at least a good prefect and attempt to help.
"... I can show you the areas, I guess, if you want?"
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