|Scene Title||The Shield of Fashion|
|Synopsis||An incidental meetup around the armor leads to discussion of clothes. And eventually books.|
|Date||Oct 21 1995|
|Watch For||Claire judging Wizarding vocabulary, Pierrick being a fashionista, nothing actually serious to warn about.|
It's not very long after afternoon study sessions have let out — roughly, in fact, a minute and a half — and Pierrick, for one, is interested in spending some quality time not thinking about magic at all. To be fair to him, he's been straining his brain with how much focus he's been putting toward Charms this afternoon — and so, of course, the most immediately available corner of the castle where nobody ever goes is the Armor Gallery, just on the other side of the pouring morass of students that is the Grand Staircase from the Charms classrooms. Perfect, especially since Filch has never given Pierrick detention cleaning all the armor yet. "Let me think," he murmurs to himself, not even realizing that this time, at least, it actually is coming out in English. "Fourteenth century Iberian … very late fifteenth-century British … oh, but you're from the eighteenth century! What are you doing at this end of the hall?"
Claire does not have detention — she is, in fact, quite adept at avoiding detentions — but is in the armor gallery anyway. Unfortunately for Pierrick it isn't actually somewhere nobody ever goes, as not only is Claire here but she is here fairly often. Off in a corner reading something that looks absolutely nothing like a textbook for any sort of class. She's occasionally conversing, in a whisper, with one of the suits of armor as she turns the pages, offering up commentary on her novel.
Pierrick doesn't actually notice, at first, that he has company that isn't made of metal. Even after shaking his head at the misplaced armor, he keeps going — this is, after all, not something that requires him to do magic! "Oh, now that's lovely," he murmurs, "tenth century Etruscan — and so complete, too! Hmm, sixteenth-century French — wait." He stops, just opposite Claire, who he still hasn't noticed, to peer very intently at her companion. "You," he accuses gently, "stole that hat, m'sieur." If by 'hat' he means helmet, at any rate, as he stares at the armor still.
"Just what are you accusing him of?" demands the voice of Claire from next to her friend the suit of armor. "Being able to walk and thieve it from someone on the other side of the room? Because they can only turn their heads, as far as I know." After that piece of commentary, she is back to the book. Except for making accusations toward the helmets, Pierrick can do whatever he wants. So long as Claire can read in peace.
Pierrick eyes Claire, surprised. Oh, look, a person! "Mademoiselle," he greets — not because he doesn't know her name, but because this is polite, to address her like this. "I think, instead, he stole it when he was riding around in France — it is a German helmet, though."
Claire looks up from the book again, and this time she actually appears interested more in Pierrick than his accusation; what she's really focused on, though, is what he's saying. "How do you know that?" she asks, and her eyes only stray to Agatha Christie for about three seconds before she's back to looking at him. Now there are two points of intrigue in the room — the Gryffindor's bizarre armor knowledge and N or M?, and she's got to keep track of them both. The novel, however, will keep.
"Because it — is?" Pierrick's quizzical expression says, in essence, how do you not know that? — but not in a judgmental way so much as a terribly confused one. "I am very fond of history, and my family, we know very much about clothing, always — and armor was, once, the most important type of clothing, no? And so. Besides, it is ugly, where the rest of the armor, it flows, it is beautiful!"
Blink. "Armor counts as clothing? Didn't know that," Claire quips, closing her book. She has given up on reading for the time being, because Pierrick is the type to talk and talk and talk and Claire has already figured it out. It's her own fault — she engaged him. "I think I sort of classified it as a defence mechanism, in my head, but then again I guess it could count as clothing." She shrugs, somewhat listless.
"Well — look you, now," Pierrick says, launching into Lecture Mode and starting to gesticulate slightly. "Your clothing, is it not a form of armor, as well? If you are in uniform, and everything is in its place, you feel better able to face the world than if you have forgotten your sweater, your blouse, your socks, non? Or away from school — if you are well-dressed, you are ready to brace the world! If you are feeling sick and want to stay in bed all day," and no, he's not aware she's diabetic, because he hasn't paid that much attention to the Slytherins of his year yet, "do you not seek the clothing that is comfortable, and feel as though it is wrong somehow to dress to go out?"
Claire is staring, no question about it, as Pierrick talks. She has the glazed-over 'what' look of your standard teenage girl. "Um, yeah. I guess so. But my fashion sense when not in uniform would probably traumatize you anyway. I wouldn't want to go outside missing items of clothing, though. I'll give you that. Not having a shirt would be a little awkward." It's only everyone in Slytherin who has some awareness of Claire's illness, anyway — he can get by not knowing a thing about it without her being offended. "Sometimes I get sick in the middle of the day, though, and don't have the energy to change so I go right to bed in what I wore." The novel is looking more tempting.
"But when you are planning to go to bed, you choose your clothing with an eye for bed, do you not?" Pierrick persists, wilting a little. "— And why think you that you would traumatize me, hmm?"
Claire nods, looking down a little to hide her giggle. "Yes, I do have pyjamas. And, um, I dress like a typical dirt poor teenage munda—Muggle would." Instinctively, she wrinkles her nose a little when she uses the word 'Muggle,' but it wears off just as soon as it starts. Claire doesn't notice she's done it. "My clothes are secondhand, I like them a size too big," not that that's hard, considering how awkwardly thin she is, "and I don't care if anything matches."
Pierrick eyes her, all right. And, yeah, so he does look at least a little bit traumatized. On the other hand, he actually does have an idea what a teenage Muggle dresses like! So that could be worse. He takes a moment, now, to eye her speculatively, sizing her up — not so much in a sexual way as in a fashionista sort of way. "You have trouble with jeans, don't you?"
Long-legged Claire says, "No — not with a belt and re-hemming the edges. Which, if I don't do, end up getting destroyed by me stepping on them. Oh, and they probably were supposed to actually rest at my waist, and not around my hips, but I actually find that more comfortable." Her expression is neutral; she is not saying this on purpose to disturb him, it's just how she is.
Pierrick does look somewhat amused, though. "So if you — wear a belt, and hem your cuffs, you are fine, and if you do not drastically alter the shape of the jeans, you are not, this is what you say?" He manages, barely, not to laugh, although his lips work for a moment. "Would you not prefer jeans that do not require you to alter them, to be comfortable?"
"Um, I … guess?" Claire finally thinks to stand, so she's not craning her neck upward to talk to him. That doesn't mean she comes any closer; she stays leaning backward against the wall, book still in her left hand and falling to her side. "Never really thought about it, because it's not like that is going to happen, and it's not like I need them fit. Big is much more comfortable." And masks her weight.
With a fashionista's eye, Pierrick studies her again — and then drops the subject, at least out loud. "What are you reading?" he asks lightly, glad at least that his Charms textbooks have been shrunk down and tucked in his pocket, and so he does not need to cart them around.
Again, Claire blinks — this time with surprise. He dropped the clothes topic? Amazing. "It's called N or M?," she says. "It's a mystery. One of the best. I love the author and this series but I haven't read this one yet." Her tone is rather drab, but isn't quite 'leave me alone so I can.' She's glad to talk about her book.
"It is —" Pierrick looks thoughtful, for a moment, peering sideways at the book. "Madame Christie, yes? She is the author?"
Okay, so Claire's initial opinion of Pierrick was all wrong. He is not an insufferable snob with no decent taste. He is a generally insufferable snob with little decent taste. She grins at him. "Yep. Agatha Christie. Of course you'd be familiar with her French hero Poirot," Claire finally catches on. It took her about six seconds, which is shameful. "He's not in this."
Pierrick flashes a grin at Claire. "Ah, well," he answers cheerfully enough. "I suppose he could not be in all her books, or she would not have so many, hmm? I will leave you to enjoy it," because by now, at least, most of the traffic is off the Grand Stairs, and so he'll be able to get somewhere else quiet, unmolested.
"He's in like a hundred," Claire points out, though she's still smiling — she's rather fond of Hercule herself. "Or, twenty, or something, and he's not really French, he's Belgian, which I always forget and have to remind myself later. He speaks French, and speaks English with French structure. While being Belgian. And actually there are a few books where he has to insist he isn't French, and now I feel I've done him a disservice — sorry, Monsieur Poirot, wherever you are." It should be noted that she only barely mangles the pronounciation of 'Monsieur,' sounding typically Londoner about it, and 'Poirot' comes out just fine. "Have fun with — whatever you were trying to avoid by coming in here!"
Pierrick's grin just gets brighter, and he waves — his hand, and not his wand. "And you, enjoy your book," he answers, and fails utterly to explain why he was in the armor gallery, as he ducks out.
The book Claire is reading, 'N or M?,' is the third book in Agatha Christie's Tommy & Tuppence series. It was named one of Britain's Top 100 Crime Novels in 1990 and is about a married couple who were former teenage crimesolvers getting involved in World War II British intelligence.