1994-06-31: Table Talk


Siobhan_icon.gif Alistaire_icon.gif

Scene Title Table Talk
Synopsis An Auror meets a Slytherin in an ice-cream parlor. Hilarity ensues.
Date Jun 31 1994
Watch For Lots of WHO puns and a lovely explosion
Chronology N/A?
Logger Siobhan

Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlor

Florean Fortescue's is better than the average run of the mill Ice Cream Shop. The interior is brightly colored and quite cheerful from ceiling down to the floortiles, even quite loud with the random splashes of color. While you can find the 'normal' flavors, there are some quite out of the ordinary ones to be found such as Heavenly Hag, Veela's Delight and the popular Hazelnut Hushpuppy! Customers also have their choice of eating their ice cream out of cups, sugar cones and even werewolf wafflecones. (But those aren't too popular for some reason.) The counter runs along the backwall and is maintained by Florean Fortescue himself! Small, circular tables are available for sitting at. Just outside the shop there are more tables if you don't want to eat inside. Don't be afraid to try everything in here just once, so pull up a seat and dare to sample a frozen treat!

A thin and tall man, perhaps around 6 foot 5, Alistaire has an animated face with deep brown eyes. When he grins, twin rows of perfect teeth flash brightly in the available light. Age-lines are evident near his eyes and his animated mouth, indicating both joy and sorrow. Sometimes, however, when he's still and not full of manic energy, those brown eyes are full of grief, distant, and his cares weigh heavily on him. His face is a little narrow, with bad skin, and his hair is close-cropped against his neck. The brown strands puff up over the crown of his head, often sticking up of their own accord. He's clad in a long brown coat with pockets, almost like a Muggle coat, although there's an inner breast pocket for his wand, and the coat is rarely buttoned. Underneath the coat is a set of fashionable wizarding clothes, almost a businesslike suit, brown with fine pinstripes, buttoned over his middle, with matching pants. For some reason, he's got a pair of Muggle trainers on his feet, all the better for running, one supposes.

Strolling into the parlor with her usual bouncing gait, Siobhan marches straight up to the counter and leans heavily on her elbows. She raises herself up on her toes and then rocks back on her heels, repeating the motion several times until the attendant can get to her order. "I'll have a…hrm. I'll have a sugar cone of Veela's Delight, please." She finishes the order with her brilliant smile and counts out change and a generous tip. Coins exchanged for cone, she waves to Florean and moves out into the sunshine. There she settles into a chair at one of the center tables; a good position to people-watch while licking lazily at her treat.

While a number of witches and wizards are out shopping, not really minding what's going on other than the buying of things and idle chatter amongst friends, there's one wizard, his brow furrowed as he strides through the crowd, who isn't seemingly cheerful and hasn't got a companion to idle the afternoon away with. However, whatever he's following suddenly makes a break for it, a tiny old hag making a run for it toward Knockturn Alley. She ducks into a shopfront nearest the alley, and the brown-haired wizard follows. Shortly thereafter, there's a shriek and a rather loud explosion that rattles the windows of every nearby shop. Smoke and debris rain down from the damaged shop as people scream and take cover, while Ministry wizards converge on the scene. Only one person comes out of the messed-up shop, and a tall and rather imposing witch looks down her nose and merely states, "Oh, it's you, I should've known." Alistaire shrugs and gestures for the others to take over command of the crime scene and unconcernedly walk away, down toward the less-affected bits of the long alley, pausing near the ice cream shop and a girl seated out front. "Hello," he greets in a friendly fashion, putting his wand away casually and peering with great interest at the confection she has.

Really, Siobhan should have expected /something/ like this. Her mum always said she attracted trouble like a magnet. The sound startles her and she whips around, ready to dive in and help until she sees the Ministry wizards. Still, she can't help the cheer that rises from her throat as the rather brilliant nature of the explosion hits her. Still smiling, she looks up to see the instigator himself staring quite oddly at her ice cream. "Hullo," she returns the greeting in kind. Her smile widens and she takes a long lick around the side of the cone facing her. Her eyes close slowly in pure sensory pleasure, her overly mascara'd lashes creating an odd contrast against her pale skin. She takes the time to fully enjoy her mouthful before looking up to him again, lifting the cone in invitation even as her smile returns. "Want some?"

"Don't mind if I do," Alistaire answers cheerfully, ignoring the proffered ice cream itself or its specific invitation, but rather going in to bug Florean for one of his own. "There we go!" he proclaims happily, taking a rather big sampling of his cone. "Oh, that's /brilliant/…" he says, rolling his eyes with sheer delight. "Absolutely brilliant. I'm Alistaire by the way," he says after he remembers to swallow. Still, behind him, the exploded shop's owner seems to be engaged in a rather big debate with the witch now in charge of the scene and the newly-detained hag that Alistaire ahd cornered in said shop.

With a shrug, Siobhan pulls her cone back to her face for a full-circle lick. Upon his return, she smiles and kicks out the chair opposite her for him to sit at if he'd like. "It is, isn't it?" That being said, she takes another lick. "I'm Siobhan. Friends call me Sio." It's the sort of nickname that only makes sense if one sees the name on paper, but she offers it nevertheless. "You sure know how to make an entrance." She nods to the 'scene' taking place in front of the now destroyed shop. Sio's teasing, that fact made obvious by the tip of her tongue that pokes out from between her teeth. "They pay you per building blown?"

"Oh yes!" Alistaire answers with delight. "A little bit of chaos here, a few fallen bricks there, and people come together to clean up the mess." He takes the offered chair with a plunk, looking around himself avidly, or for the next bit of trouble. "Siobhan's a nice name. I get the nickname. Very clever. You go to Hogwarts, then?" he queries lightly, lazily enjoying his ice cream without any seeming hurry to go anywhere else.

"Ooh, lovely." Sio's eyes light up and she sits just a little straighter in her chair. "Thanks," she returns, ducking her head and blushing at the unexpected compliment. "An' yeah. Seventh year comin' up, an' then I'm out." She hazards a glance up at him and smiles a bit sheepishly - still thrown by his comment. "I'm honestly surprised you got that. Not many people do, you see." A few more licks of her cone and she's to the point where she has to start using her tongue like a shovel. In between bites, she manages to keep up her end of conversation; barely. "What'd she do, then?" She nods to the now-detained hag and then turns back to Alistair slyly, that tongue poking through her teeth again. "She steal your hair gel?"

"You make it sound like you're in prison," Alistaire remarks knowingly, giving the girl a grin at the hair gel comment, although his grin is a bit for show. "No, she did some very bad things and refused to reform or come quietly. She left me no choice." Despite his delight in the explosion, he seems to genuinely regret that it came to that. Shaking off the dark memory, he then prompts, "Which House are you in at Hogwarts, then? What classes do you take besides the standard ones?" All the while, he keeps noshing at his ice cream, quickly catching her up, without anything resembling brainfreeze, it's so unfair.

So /incredibly/ unfair! "It is a bit like prison, I guess." Sio's laugh is soft, but genuine; no artfulness here. His smile - just a bit too bright to be believed - has her attention. She concentrates on his face for a little while more, looking for something that continues to elude her. He's still too unfamiliar. Still… "Hey," she calls softly. "No one got hurt, yeah? That's more than I could manage." That said, she turns her attention to the topic change, allowing it without further comment. "I'm in Slytherin and I have DADA, Herbology, Potions, Astronomy, Transfiguration, Care of Magical Creatures, Advanced Defensive Theory and Wizarding Musical Theory." Her blush deepens a bit at the final admission, but her chin lifts a little, as if daring him to comment.

Alistaire casts one look over his shoulder at the crime scene cleanup, and the witch seems to be Stupefied, but otherwise unharmed. That's all the thought he has for that assignment. It's over and done with and now off to brighter and bigger things. "Slytherin, hmm?" he queries thoughtfully, looking once more at the girl in front of him. "A noble house. Ambitious as the day is long too," he adds, mostly to himself before remembering he's actually got company. "Wizarding Musical Theory? My niece wants to take that one when she's old enough," he comments almost absently. "She's liable to knock Celestina Warbeck off her spot as the top wizarding singer, at the rate she's going. Me, I used to play an instrument, oh, so many years ago…" And once more, he's off in distant memory.

Siobhan can't help it; her jaw drops. "But…" She gapes for a moment, then pulls herself together and shakes once. "You're incredible, d'you know?" There's genuine admiration in her voice. Not much one for subterfuge, her. "I've not met a witch or wizard yet who didn't condemn me for my House." Her own family did it, how is it that some random stranger didn't seem bothered? Her smile grows and she shifts her weight to get more comfortable. She finishes he cone and licks the melted cream off her fingers. "I fell in love with it when my brother taught me to play an old tune on his reed flute." Her grin widens and she snaps her fingers, trying to think. "I think you lot call it a uhm…recorder? Always thought that was a silly name. What does it make a record of, hmm? Anyway, it's the one instrument you can find anywhere in the Highlands—so long's you've got a pocket-knife."

"A recorder?" Alistaire asks, shaking himself out of memory with delight at something to share with a new friend. "Yes, that's what I played, how clever of you to have guessed!" And he's not being facetious or anything, he just doesn't believe in coincidences. "As for Slytherin… to be fair, most Dark witches and wizards were in that House themselves when they were in school, so it's no surprise there's a little bit of that backwash, as unfair as it may be, settles on those who aren't that sort of person. After all, while Slytherins are most often chosen for their ambitions, not everyone is ambitious for /power/ or dominion over others." He frowns a bit and looks away for a long minute. "Some are, and they give the whole House a bad name, a few rotten apples." His expression falls into some nameless sorrow, and he shakes his head. "But I judge someone on their individual actions, not by their race, creed, or…" he adds a faint touch slyly, "House affiliation."

This makes Siobhan laugh in earnest, clutching her sides and bending almost double. "How good of you to be so open-minded, then." With a shake of her head, she tosses him a wink to cover her blush at the second instance of being called clever. Just as she opens her mouth to speak, movement catches her eye and she curses under her breath, ducking under the table and reaching up to yank on Alistair's coat. "Hey, get under here!" she hisses. "Come on!" Peering around the table legs and the legs of the shoppers around her, she searches for that tell-tale blue wool greatcoat. "'s my brother Jack," she confides in a quiet hiss. "Trust me, you don't want him to see ya. You'll not walk away un-snogged."

"Really?" Alistaire asks, resisting the tug on his coat. "There's nothing wrong with a good snog, you know," he continues heedlessly, looking around for this Jack person. "Especially at your age," he adds, until she yanks hard enough to pull him down under the table. "Unless he's got spots on his face and bad breath…" He doesn't seem to be aware at all of how odd they look to others, hiding under the table there and seriously close to one another. "Does he bite or something?" he queries, peeking over the tabletop like a crazed Kilroy, hands on either side of his nose.

"No, nothing wrong with a good snog. Just not…you know…/him/." Peering over the table in a remarkably similar manner to Alistair, she spies the familiar head of spiky brown hair and flashy smile. "Oh bollocks!" she hisses and tries to pull him back under the table with her. Jack's really not that bad looking, so it must be something else. Despite her apparent horror at the possiblity of discovery, she can't resist shooting her companion a thrilled sort of smile. Those funny looks? What funny looks? Sio doesn't notice anything odd. "He um…well, he uh…" She blushes and leans in to whisper in Alistair's ear, then pulls back and ducks her head.

Alistaire allows himself to be tugged back under the table, grinning a bit at the legerdemain. And the whisper makes him blink for a moment, uncomprehending. "Well, if he's your brother, of course not him if it were /you/, but if anyone else was amenable, what's the big deal?" He doesn't seem to understand why someone might be upset about that sort of thing, but then he always came from a reasonably open-minded family. The table's underside is quite cramped, so he folds his long limbs into a better configuration, heedless of any inadvertent brushing against his companion's arm as he does so. "There, all better. So, what do you plan on doing once you 'get out' of Hogwarts?" he queries lightly, as if it's perfectly normal to be sitting cross-legged under a table in public and to hold a conversation.

With a grumble, Siobhan settles in cross-legged facing Alistair. "Should've just let him 'ave you then." She can't stay cross for long, though, and shrugs lightly. "I'd like to try for the Auror training program, if I can get in." She grins a bit sheepishly. "Not exactly what you'd call clever, me." Even while she talks, the young Slytherin keeps a watchful eye on the surrounding legs. "But I want to do somethin' excitin', yeah? Somethin' where I'm actually makin' a difference with my life, rather than just workin' for mother's charities or lookin' pretty for father's balls." She rests her jaw on her fist and sighs. "What d'you do, then? I mean, on your days off from demolition."

"I rest," Alistaire admits thoughtfully. "And get ready for the next week's demolitions." He looks at his newfound friend keenly. "The life of an Auror is a hard road to take. Exciting, certainly. Dangerous, most definitely. But it's not for everyone. Simply being clever isn't enough. You have to think on your feet, be willing to sacrifice creature comforts while tracking a Dark wizard or witch, and even being willing to risk death or disfiguration for the sake of those you're protecting." He pauses and then adds, "It's not glamourous, it's not 'cool', and looking pretty will be the least of your concerns. The pay isn't much, the hours are long and unpredictable, and the witch who makes the tea for our office really needs to find a new line of work…"

Somehow this seed of doubt, coming from someone who'd treated her well regardless of her house colors, hurts more than the more volatile reaction from her own father. With a sharp breath in, she sets her jaw and lifts her chin. Her brown eyes meet his, their usually warm depths sparking with a spirit that positively dares him to think she can't do whatever it is she's set on doing. "If I wanted a life that was glamorous and 'cool', sir, I'd be content to make a profitable match for my father's estate and spend my life birthing wizards and filling up dance cards." Her voice is tightly controlled, but still firm. That comment about the tea-witch only /almost/ makes her smile. Sio apparently doesn't like being told she can't—even if he hasn't said so explicitly.

Alistaire simply regards Siobhan calmly and with the benefit of years of experience. After all, she's young enough to be his daughter. But no word resembling 'can't' leaves his lips. He watches her in silence for long minutes, quite intense and serious, before speaking. "Then I wish you the best of luck in your chosen endeavour. You'll need it." There's no hint of dismissal in his tone, or much by the way of welcome. He simply accepts that she is making the choice despite his warning, and that's enough.

Nodding once, Siobhan takes his wish of luck for no more than face value, regarding him steadily and in silence until the absolute absurdity of them having this conversation seated cross-legged under a table outside Fortiscue's in the middle of Diagon Alley strikes her right between the eyes. Without warning, she bursts into laughter, leaning forwards and shaking with mirth. One hand wraps around the center pole of the table for support and she hazards a glance at her under-table companion, wondering if he understands this too or if he's about to have her committed for insanity. After a few moments, she does calm long enough to speak - albeit in short sentences. "Look, there's two months of summer hols left." Breathe in. "Let me come in durin' the week and file reports or something." Breathe out. "It'll look good on an application and it's a bit of experience to see if it's really what I want to do." Her grin widens to grand proportions, her tongue poking out teasingly. "Come on…I'll even make tea. You've not had real tea until you've had my cuppa."

Alistaire unleashes his bright smile, teeth and all, when Siobhan laughs, his eyes crinklingup at the corners, chuckling with mirth. "There is an intern program, you know," he points out, not as lost for breath as she is. "I'll see what I can do, see if the Brigadier will allow it." He jerks a thumb over his shoulder toward where the fiery witch had looked down her nose at him earlier. "It's a Muggle word, a military general or something. She's almost as scary as they say Mad-Eye Moody is, and that's saying something." He lounges under the table easily, still oblivious to the girl's proximity. "However… it's not my call. I wouldn't want you to get your hopes up and be disappointed. Things are still a little bit uneasy at the Ministry due to the Sirius Black thing, you know."

"Brigadier…" Siobhan rolls the unfamiliar word around in her mouth, tasting it and finding it pleasant. "I like it. Suits her, I think." She nods towards the woman in question. "And I know there is, but dad wouldn't let me apply in time. Didn't turn of age until this month and when the forms were due, I still needed his permission." She shrugs. "Suppose he thought it'd cut my chances of actually gettin' in the program itself." She turns her smile back on Alistaire, quickly determining that he looks much better with that manic grin. The close quarters don't seem to bother her one bit. Then again, grow up the youngest girl after five boys and you become quite well acquainted with company in tight spaces. "Don't worry, mate. I'm not dumb enough to get m'hopes up. Never disappointed, that way, right?" There's a lightness to her tone there, too, but it seems just a bit…fake, or forced. The slight subject change seems to put her more at ease. "Oh, yeah, that." With a casual motion of her hand, she tucks her hair behind one ear and out of her warm brown eyes. "Y'know, call me crazy, but I don't think he did it." Another shrug. In for a penny, in for a pound. "Just doesn't make sense, does it? I mean, why'd a bloke go an' kill his best friend for, eh?"

Alistaire nods sagely, although he gives Siobhan a look that's shrewd and knowing. He knows when there's a bit of fakery going on, but he lets the bit of bravado stand on its own two feet without comment. However, the last bit causes Alistaire to sit back for a moment. "It's possible," he says in a soft tone of voice, his eyes on the floor off to the side. "Some people see what we can do as wizards and it drives them mad." He doesn't seem to be speaking about Black then, the pain in his eyes clear. "But as an Auror, your job wouldn't be to prove innocence or guilt, that's for others. Our job would be to simply bring them in to stand trial if they are accused. And to not turn into them if they… if they…" and he can't finish what he's about to say, clenching his fists in his lap unwittingly.

Embarrassed a bit by that too-knowing look, Siobhan turns away, her own face falling serious as Alistaire's words become quiet and reflective. When she turns to look at him again, the pain in his eyes makes her gasp sharply. Almost instantly her eyes soften and her expression warms. Before she even realizes what she's doing, Sio's reaching one of her small hands towards him, finding one of his clenched fists and slowly unwinding it. Delicately, she works her palm into his larger one and grips it gently. If he wants to pull away, he'll be able to do so with no difficulty, but there's enough pressure to definitely tell she's /there/. "Hey now," she calls softly. "If they what?" She watches him closely. If he looks up, he'll find her soft brown eyes searching his face, but not dropping away.

It takes a few seconds for that warm hand in his to make its presence known. There are tears in his eyes, unshed, but definitely there. Alistaire's gaze is on the distance, the past that only he has known and has suffered through. Her hand is enough to revive the link to the present. "If they do something so Unforgiveable, that no amount of pain and suffering is enough to pay them back for what they've done." He doesn't clarify, but it's pretty obvious that something extremely horrific had happened to him. "That's the problem with being an Auror, really," he continues, babbling now, just so he can get the words out. "It's not being killed or being disfigured. It's the ever so easy slipping away, so that you're no better than the ones you hunt. That's the true danger of my profession." And he looks at her intently, some of the pain and the rage and the blood hidden once more, so his gaze isn't as raw as it was before. "If you were clever, you would watch out for that most of all."

That pain and rage and blood - before it can be hidden away - frankly and honestly frightens Siobhan. Still, she's a stubborn old thing, determined to face the things that scare her, and so she manages to hold his gaze until he reins himself in. The hand in his remains mostly steady, but her free one trembles a little before she can stop herself. She doesn't press for details, doesn't ask why or how he knows. She just sits there, holding onto his hand with the blind faith of one who believes that without that anchor, he may very well fly away - never to be seen again. What a man he must be to inspire such faith, or else she is simply incredibly naive. Or perhaps some strange mix of both. She neither knows nor cares. She does, however, offer a small, hopeful smile. "Then I suppose it's a good thing you're the only one who thinks I'm clever, then, isn't it?" She pauses on a slightly brighter smile, hoping perhaps to coax one out of her companion. "Circe only knows what sort of trouble I'd get into if I actually /was/."

"Sometimes, it's the lone voice in the wilderness that proves to be the correct one," Alistaire says, a hint of sharpness in his voice for her self-deprecating behavior. "When the entire world stands against you, that's when you stand up for yourself and declare your intentions and lead the way." And more of his rage and anguish gets hidden away, so that he's almost back to that manic man who destroyed a shop down the way. "Most people aren't as bad or as ungifted as they believe they are… many just need to find the right way to blossom, like a rose breaking free of the soil and daring to reveal itself to anyone passing."

Siobhan listens carefully to Alistaire, absorbing it all until something he says triggers one of her random bouts of sudden, brilliant insight. Looking him straight in the eye, she squeezes his hand a little for emphasis. "Then listen to this lone voice in the…" She glances at the table above them. "Wilderness-ish." A bit of hair falls into her face, unheeded. "You're not as bad as you believe you are." She becomes only slightly less serious then, offering a lopsided sort of grin. "No one who could turn my middle name into a bit of non-cliche'd poetry like that could be all bad. Now come on. There's a great little teashop just down the way. S'a bit small and they don't get much business, but the lady makes a strong pot of tea and if we're lucky, Martha'll be on duty waitin' tables. She's always got a stock of Jaffa Cakes handy and you, mate, could use a bit of a sweet."

Alistaire listens to her spiel quietly, and then his smile begins, infectious and showing off all his teeth at the end of it. "You're quite amazing yourself, you know," he says as he uncurls himself deftly from under the table, using her hand to help her up. A witch seated a few tables away gives them a scowl and a sniff, muttering about an older man and such a young little thing, but Alistaire doesn't pay any heed. And once he's led the girl out into the main flow of traffic, he sniffs a couple of times. "Do they make chips?" he inquires, turning to try and locate the awesome smell of fried taters and heading in that direction, tea be damned for the moment.

Perhaps it's that Siobhan is as oblivious as Alistaire, for the mutterings of the scowling witch flow right over her head. She's not done anything wrong - at least in her mind. It was only a /table/. Accepting his assistance in rising, she offers him a smile of her own, though she shakes her head. "If you say so, Alistaire." As he begins to move, she follows, her hand left in his because it honestly never occurred to her that it should be anywhere else. "Oh, Merlin…" Her eyes close and she licks her lips, inhaling deeply a fondly-remembered smell. "I don't think they do, but now I want a basket of them." Her head swivels back and forth, the breeze blowing her bottle-blonde hair out behind her. "I think the Leaky has 'em though. Shall we check?"

Alistaire's roving nose had locked onto the whiff of chips, and in fact, the Leaky Cauldron is indeed where he's leading his newfound friend, first at a walk, then a trot, and finally a full-out run, laughing merrily as he dodges a witch there, a wizard there, ruffling them but not actually bowling anyone over as he fetches up against the wall that leads back into the pub. "And here we are! After you!" And with a graceful movement, he whisks his wand out of his coat pocket and brandishes it, tapping the sapphire on its tip gently against the stone to open the magical doorway. With a bow, he puts his wand away and waits his turn to depart Diagon Alley for chips and whatever else Tom might have handy for them to nosh on.

Pulled along for the ride, Siobhan runs alongside Alistaire, joining in his merry laughter. At the back wall, she preceeds him in and settles in for a long afternoon of laughter and good company and - most importantly - /chips/. It's only when the light outside begins to bleed into evening that she leaves. Even then, it's a reluctant departure. No doubt there will be one helluva grilling when she returns home. Still, it was worth it, and she tells him as much. "If you get the red tape sorted and haven't rethought lettin' me do tea, floo the Noble estate in Balmorrow. If I'm not there, they'll know where I am at. In the meanwhile, I'll keep an ear out for the next explosion." She offers a final smile. "It was good to meet you, Alistaire." And with that, she's gone, disappeared into the back fireplace and to home.

This was a fantastic first scene and really let me get into my character. Thank you Ali!

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