Being awake just before the sun rose was not particularly an odd occurrence for Carter. By habit he seemed to wake at that time, and he wasn't really a fan of just lying about in bed until it seemed sociable acceptable to be awake and roaming the castle. So once he was awake, he was up, and moving.
His plan was to get out to the ground, go for a walk, or a run, or...something. And burn off a bunch of energy before he had to spend the day sitting through a collection of classes that were generally boring, and meant keeping still for too long. Burning off the energy probably wouldn't do a great deal, but it'd make him feel a little better than if he didn't bother.
Before sunrise was a great time to dance on the lawns. Students would be in bed, as would most other professors. There was something about the fresh (albeit cold) air and the snow falling on her warm clothes that gave her a feeling she wouldn't find in her office or even in the Great Hall.
She had been trained as a child. Her mother had insisted on it, and Caitlin had gone along with it because at the time, she saw nothing truly wrong with her family. She was rusty, terribly out of practice and out of shape, but she still had dance in her. She still had the energy and the love of that child who dreamed of Hogwarts every day she was gone.
It was mid-turn when she saw a student wandering about, and Caitlin froze in form to watch him. It was a student for whom trouble was no stranger, someone she worried about often. She stood straight and slipped her hands into the pockets of her jacket. She could have left him alone--maybe he had come to be alone--but she felt obligated, both by her instincts and her post at Hogwarts, to check up on him.
Cautiously, Caitlin approached with a warm smile and said, "Mr. Hayes, how are you this morning?"
Okay, shit, it was cold. Well. To be expected, considering that it was December and all. Heading across the grounds, he noticed another person outside. He had a moment of wondering who they were, and what in the hell they were doing - before he recognised his transfiguration professor. "Right," he muttered under his breath, shaking his head.
However that was - unfortunately - when she seemed to notice him, and come over. "I'm not doing anything wrong," he said defensively, automatically, then thought that maybe he shouldn't have said that. Because it sounded suspicious even if he really wasn't.
Carter was a bit too paranoid for his own good. Caitlin came to a halt a foot or two from the student. Her smile was still warm, but it was also sympathetic. "I haven't accused you of anything. How are you doing?"
After a moment, the professor pulled out her wand to conjure a comfortable hat and scarf (both bright colors, of course, straight from her own wardrobe), both of which she offered to the child. "Please, before I worry sick about you."
She hadn't accused him of anything. Yet. Didn't mean that she wouldn't. "I'm fine," he said, eyeing her, and sticking his hands into his pockets. He might have been wearing gloves, but really, they weren't the best gloves he'd ever owned in his life.
As she conjured the scarf and beanie, Carter stared at them, and then raised his gaze to his professor, raising an eyebrow. "I'm fine," he said, making no move to take the items of clothing.
Caitlin frowned, but then she made a thoughtful face. She held the conjured items in one hand and, holding her wand in the other, changed them so that they were black and red instead. "Is that better?"
It was probably a pride thing, she thought--he didn't care about the color. Carter had resisted her help for years, and now would be no different. "What's on your mind, Mr. Hayes?"
Admittedly, changing the colour of them did make them a bit more appealing, but he still made no move to grab them. "I'm fine," he said again. "If I was bothered by it, I would have worn my own damn beanie." He did own one after all. Somewhere. Probably at the bottom of his suitcase, to be honest.
"Nothing," he said, defensive again. "Why does there have to be something on my mind?"
With another frown, Caitlin stuffed the materials into a pocket and returned her wand to its hiding place. She didn't much like his attitude, nor did she like him being out here without proper warmth, but maybe all of this could work to their advantage.
"Let's walk," she said. "I won't talk unless you talk, but I'll be with you the whole time. How does that sound, Carter?" Maybe using his first name would make him more likely to agree--or maybe he would just think it was weird.
He took his hands out of his pockets and instead crossed them over his chest. He wasn't exactly sure why she wanted to walk around with him, and he wasn't exactly about this idea either. "Why?" he questioned, eyeing her. For a teacher, going on a random walk with a student didn't exactly sound like his idea of a good time. Though being a teacher didnt sound like his idea of a good time.
To prove her point, Caitlin, with a grin, lifted a hand to her mouth, pretended to zip it shut, and then crossed her arms over his chest, matching his body language. She didn't really want him to feel trapped, but there was little choice: she was genuinely concerned that something could happen to him, and she wasn't going to leave him alone.
Her last resort would be turning into an owl and following him. She would blend in just fine, after all.
Carter stared at her for a moment in faint bemusement, and then rolled his eyes. "Right, okay," he muttered, setting off again on his walk. "Do what you want." Which meant that she was going to walk alongside him. Which meant that he was going to have to walk, instead of running. Which wasn't going to be nearly as satisfying, but fine.
Caitlin smiled warmly and walked alongside the student. True to her word, however difficult it was, she remained quiet, occasionally glancing at him to see if he might be thinking about speaking (or at least betraying something with his expressions or behaviors). She had stuffed her hands into her pockets, and she felt perfectly at ease out there, despite the cold nipping at her nose and crunch of the snow that reminded her she could get water in her boots if she wasn't careful.
Caitlin hummed softly, a slow, melodic tune she had learned when she was little, although she hadn't really thought about humming; it had just happened.
Carter had absolutely no intention of talking to the professor. He had absolutely nothing to say to her. Except for the fact that she was ruining his early morning walk. What a great start to the day. Hands jammed in his pockets for some warmth,
Oh for fucks sake. Why was she humming? Carter eyed her, and then just stopped walking. Yep, okay. This wasn't happening. Now he was just irritated and the sun wasn't even properly up yet. That boded well.
Caitlin stopped when Carter stopped, looked down at him with a quirked eyebrow, and waiting for a response. However, not wanting to egg him on when he was already rather volatile, she took a deep breath, relaxed her shoulders, and then turned into an owl before his very eyes. She hovered in the air for a moment before flying around him and onto a nearby tree, facing him.
There was a difference in knowing your transfiguration professor was an animagi and her doing that in class, and her just suddenly doing it in front of him out in the grounds. He startled a little, staring at her. "What the-" he blinked. It was actually kind of neat, being able to turn into an animal. He wasn't exactly sure what her purpose for doing it right at this moment was, however. He stared at her.