Orion slouched in a booth, contimplating the scrim of foam left at the bottom of an empty beer glass. It was fascinatingly similar to the scrim in the other empty glass, but almost completely unlike that in the one that was two thirds full. Orion wished that he was drunk enough to forget why he was drinking, but the slowly darkening handprint on his face wouldn't allow that.
What a great place to be in my life...the one I like hates me, and the other...ugh, Standard Dodgkiss, ugh...
The mere thought of Standard and her family made him throw back another thrid of the honey colored alcohol. The room stood up and began walking in circles around him, so he buried his head in his arms. Unfortunately, now he could clearly remember the look on Gemma's face and the horror of a future with Standard. What a stupid name...at least my name is endearingly odd. Mysterious, even...
Gemma slid through the doorway into the Leaky Cauldron and scanned the room, squinting slightly in the sudden darkness of her surroundings. "Do you see him, Coobi?" she asked the house elf at her side. She and the elf had introduced themselves to each other on the way over, and Gemma found herself genuinly liking the elf's company, even if she did detest his master. Yet it's his Coobi's master I'm here to help, she reminded herself, Even if I do detest him, I'm here to help him.... what a paradox!
"There he is, Miss Gemma!" Coobi piped up, pointing into the darkest corner of the bar. Gemma looked where the elf was pointing and saw Orion Burgess, her future husband and object of hatred, sitting with his head in his hands and no less than three glasses on the table before him. two of them were already empty, and the third was nearing such a level, as well. "Oh, dear," Gemma murmured before she could remember that she hated Orion. She walked quickly across the room and sat in the booth across from Orion. She tried to think of something kind or comforting to say, but the thing that came out of her mouth was:
"However did you manage to drink that many glasses of beer so quickly?"
However did you manage to drink that many glasses of beer so quickly?
Great. Now his conscience was nagging him. And it sounded like Gemma. Wonferdel. Or what ever the word was. His headache and the spinning were beginning to subside, allowing his attention to go back to his female trouble. He needed more beer. Lifting his head so that he could drink more, he was startled out of his seat by Gemma and Coobi.
"Ahh! Don't shneak up me like that...ugh...thought you hated me...what're you doin' here? Laughing at my misery? Me too..." He drained the last of the alcohol and squinted at Coobi. "46...'kay?"
The elf sighed and shook his head in an exasperated manner. The relationship between the two was special enough to allow the elf privileges that normally would be denied someone of his status, but he was practically family to the Burgess household. He Disapparated and Apparated back in a manner of minutes with a dark green glass flask. He handed it to Orion.
"Just because Master can brew a Sober-up potion doesn't mean he should be drinking to kill his liver, sir."
"Well, maybe master wants to die, Coobi."
"Please don't sir..."
Orion sipped from the flask and was not quite instantly reversed in sobriety. The payback for it, however, was the flavor.
"Mint and brussel sprouts really, REALLY don't go together...remiind me later to research a way to make it taste better, Coobi...Now, Gemma...what the hell are you doing here, if not to grind me further into depression?"
Gemma watched Orion's reaction to her arrival and his subsequent efforts at sobering up in silence, though her eyebrows rose steadily higher up her forehead the entire time. Her intellect told her that Orion was extremely upset over what she had said and done to him, but her emotional side insisted that she not care. She hated him.... didn't she?
I'd decided I did, she reminded herself, then added with a sarcastic smirk quirking her lips, And he seems to think I do, too... Who am I to fault his judgement? But this thought only made her feel worse. Oddest of all, she found herself noticing that Orion was oddly appealing when drunk, cute, even: he seemed more... human, somehow. A growing feeling of shame spread over Gemma, and she slumped slightly in her booth.
"Coobi asked me to come," she mumbled in response to Orion's question, "And I'm pretty sure I need a drink, too...." She grabbed the one glass on the table that still held liquid and downed it in one gulp, choked, coughed, and turned her gaze back to Orion, her eyes watering. "Ugh," she gagged, "that's not very good, is it?"
He quirked a smile at her. "You either don't have much drinking experience or are used to a more refined type of alcohol. That, and its been sitting out. And I drank from the same glass, so my pervading aura of trollishness must have ruined the beer."
His sarcasm was in fine form today. He was still upset, but less likely to make an ass out of himself. He wasn't surprised Coobi asked her to come, but that she obliged was a curveball. Why did she have to hate him? If this arrangement fell through, Orion was most likely going to disappear from the wizarding world. Standard and her family were the type of witches and wizards that made a pureblood seriously consider marrying a Muggle.
His entire future depended on a lady who hated him. He hated the situation, and could feel a small seed of anger growing towards Gemma. He tried squishing it, but only succeeded in burying it for the time being.
Gemma smiled sheepishly, still trying to catch her breath from the strength of the alcohol she had consumed.
"You're right about the not having much experience at drinking," she admitted, "I haven't really had much reason to drink before this, though." She realized what she'd just said and sighed. "I'm sorry," she said quietly, fiddling with the handle of the beer glass, "It's just.... you hate me, so I have to hate you, you see? And the way you've been acting hasn't been helping not do so; trollishness doesn't cut it, let me tell you.... So even if I didn't want to hate you, I would be forced to by that."
She brushed her hair back from her forehead and sighed again; this time a little moan made its way in, as well. "That didn't make much sense, did it?" she murmured, almost to herself, then glanced back up at Orion. "I should warn you, there's a reason I don't drink much. Even the tiniest bit of alcohol is enough to get me tipsy..."
Orion sighed. His hard face softened and he cradled his face in a move that a Muggle would have called 'Facepalm' but had no equivalent name in the wizarding world.
"I think you hate me because I was forced upon you, not someone you chose. If you hear nothing else from me for the rest of your life, hear this: I don't hate you. I want the opportunity to get to love you. But, if thats not what you want, we can break this off. Please, please, don't break this...." His voice dropped to the near inaudible. "The alternative is hell...but if my angel wishes it..."
Yeah, he still had alcohol in his system. Oh well.
Gemma stared at Orion, surprised for what felt like the millionth time that day. "You don't hate me?" she breathed, "But.... but what was that whole manipulation thing for?" She pressed her palms into the hollows of her eyes for several seconds, processing the rest of what Orion had said.
"And..... I can't break it off," she said in a near whisper, "I'll lose everything if I do: my entire future, everything I've ever wanted. You say your world would be hell if I broke it off? Well, mine would be just as bad, if not worse."
One more thing occured to her, and she added, "And don't call me your 'angel.' I'm anything but." She smirked slightly. "Here, I'll prove it to you..." She got up from the booth and walked over to the bar proper, ordering no less than four drinks, all of which were as strong or stronger than beer. Once they were ready, she carried them back to the table and sat down again, this time on the same side of the table as Orion. She pressed one of the glasses into his hands and selected one of her own.
Coobi sat opposite of them and narrated the hell of Orion's future as the youth drank.
"Master Orion had two offers of betrothment, miss...your family, and the Dodgkiss family." The elf eyes the alcohol with obvious disapproval and kept speaking.
"The noble Burgess House has graced and brought honor to all three of the great Houses of Hogwarts. The Dodgkiss family...attended the fourth. Burgess heirs are either noble, intelligent, or cunning...Master Orion-" who was half way through the smoking Vitrous Vodka that Gemma had pressed on him and quite unaware of his own name at the moment, "falls into the latter category, as did his father...Master Andrew was the noble type. Miss Standard will most likely sort into Hufflepuff, as has the past ten generations of her family, when she enters Hogwarts next school year." By the way he said it, it was obvious he meant the school year of 2011-2012.
Orion was three quarter of the way through the clear, jelly-like concoction, and was fascinated witht he veins in the back of his hands at this point.
Coobi continued, ignoring Orion's exclamation about the pretty shade of blue that was under his skin.
Miss Standard is..." The elf's eyes darted to other wizards and dropped his squeaky voice to a private tone "boorish, unintelligent, and disapproving of everything that Master Orion says. In seven years, Master Orion doubts that she will become any better." The elf's voice returned to a normal pitch.
"Besides, Master Orion hasn't had an intelligent conversation with a female, ever. Well, before you. Many of them give him blank stares when he opens his mouth..." Coobi looked at Orion, who was humming an unfamiliar tune before breaking out in lyrics.
"...of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings!" He turned suddenly to Gemma, wide eyes and grinning like an idiot.
Gemma listened intently to Coobi's narritive, sipping delicately at her drink. It tasted quite a bit better than the beer had, though she could tell that it was already having an affect on her; it was a bit difficult for her to focus, and her hands were shaking slightly. Is that normal? she wondered, taking another sip.
Hearing about Orion's future prospects made her feel oddly.... sorry for him. They were nearly as bad as what she would face, if she chose to break off the engagement. Too bad he's such a jerk, she mused, I'd probably like him, if he wasn't... Her intellect slapped her across the face, warning her not to judge so harshly or close her mind so completely. So what? she answered her own brain, I can think however I like! She realized she was having a conversation with her own brain and nearly giggled. Clearly the drink was reaching its maximum levels in her system.
"Besides, Master Orion hasn't had an intelligent conversation with a female, ever," Coobi was saying, "Well, before you. Many of them give him blank stares when he opens his mouth..." It was at that exact moment that Orion himself decided to burst into song. "...of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings!" he sang, alcohol making his pitch a bit shaky. He turned to Gemma, a gigantic grin on his face. "Hi," he said, his eyes wide.
"Um, hi," Gemma answered, her own mouth curving upward in spite of herself. A sudden thought stuck her, one that she would never have had when fully sober. She still wanted to get back at Orion for his treatment of her earlier, and she had just come up with the perfect way to do so. Let's see what he does with even more alcohol in his system, she thought with a giggle that somehow managed to actually slip between her lips, Maybe he'll tell the truth better, that way...
"Here, Orion," she said aloud, picking up another drink and handing it to him, "Try this one; I've heard it's good." Without waiting for his reaction, she went on, turning to face him and drawing her legs up to curl in front of her, in the space between them.
"So I've heard your story; now it's time you heard mine." She pushed her hair out of her eyes. It was bugging her much more than usual, for some reason. "If I don't marry you, my parents are going to take me out of school and make sure I can never go back. They're also going to keep me from ever getting a job, even though I've wanted a job in Spell Research since I was, like, three years old." She frowned, biting her lip in thought. "Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it's been for quite a while. Anyway, I can't possibly give up everything I've worked and wished for my entire life; that would be ridiculous! So I'm stuck with you." She paused, watching Orion, who seemed.... different, somehow. "Um, Orion? Are you listening to me?"
"Nadhani mimi ni komodoku.." Orion muttered as Gemma spoke. He was having an extremely difficult time paying attention to her. The specks and motes of dust in the air were too invigorating to not notice, but he caught the gist of what she was saying. He'd protect her from uneducation. He'd champion her jobbery. Or something like that. He tried telling her this, but she handed him another drink. Maybe it was the Sober-up potion, he hoped. He quaffed it quickly. It was not the potion that would ease the drunkedness. This was, to his increasing horror, a Mulberry Molotov. True to its explosive name, it was fruity, yet spicy, and felt like molten lava. Orion worried about passing out, not from the alcohol, but the increasing body temperature. He felt his face get redder and redder. Before many more seconds passed, his eyes rolled back in his head and he was out cold. Right into Gemma's lap.
Apperently, the drink Gemma had given Orion was one more than he could handle. Within seconds of her asking him if he was listening to her, his eyes rolled back into his head, and he passed out.... right into Gemma's lap. Gemma let out a most undignified squeal of surprise, grateful she had just put down her own drink; otherwise, she would've spilled it all down her front and Orion's back.
"Master Orion!" Coobi squeaked, looking horrified. Gemma knew exactly how he felt, but for an entirely different reason: her inebriated brain had decided that she was enjoying the sensation of having Orion's face and upper body pressed against her bare legs. She hastely grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him vigorously. "Orion, wake up!" she said in her most commanding voice. When he didn't, she added, "Please, I really need you to wake up, now! I'll...." She paused, wondering what she could say to conjole him. Her inebriated brain, which was now focused on the feel of Orion's shoulders through his robes, gave her an answer. Since she had no other ideas, Gemma blurted it out: "I'll give you a present, if you do! Anything you want!"
It was all floating colors, fire breathing unicorns, and magical dragons in Orion's mind. The major selling point of the Mulberry Molotov was the hallucinations that it caused. That could be the only reason that Orion heard Gemma promising him anything he wanted if he woke up. He tried, he really did. Fortune smiled upon him and he managed to blearily look at her, head still lolling in an uncontrolled manner.
"I had...funniesht dream...of you..." At this point, Coobi levered himself up on the table and dashed over to his master, forcing a dose of Sober-up on both the wizard and the witch. He glared at Gemma with an expression that promised that the elf would remember and hold her to her promise to Orion. The wizard didn't seem to recall the tempting and open ended question. Instead, his stomach was currently rebelling against all of the offending liquids that had been forced upon it.
Clearly having no recollection of the past twenty minutes, Orion began again with his previous argument.
Gemma's brain was on fire. Coobi had leaped across the table and poured a truly foul-tasting substance into her and Orion's mouths, and things had gone downhill from there. The room swirled around her violently, and finally settled back into its original position, only now Gemma had a roaring headache. She closed her eyes for a few seconds, trying to reset her brain. When she opened them again, she was staring directly into Orion's hazel eyes. They were clear and sharp again, and there was a disapproving look in them.
"I thought you hated me..." he said softly. Gemma stared at him. Clearly he had forgotten the last several minutes. That must've been the Sober-Up potion, that Coobi gave us, she reasoned. "We discussed this already, Orion," she said with a sigh, "I hate you because you hate me. Only you actually don't. Or so you said. Anyway, that's not the point. The point is...." Suddenly, she realized two things: first, she didn't know what the point was. And second, she was still holding Orion upright by his shoulders. For some reason, this fact made her blush a bright red.
"...so that wasn't a hallucination after all. Thats good. And I think the elusive point is that since we don't hate each other, we should at least open ourselves up to the idea that we could, perhaps, someday, think about considering liking one another. Maybe." He blinked really hard, also under teh effects of a large headache. As if reading her thoughts transmitted by her red neon glow, he said swiftly "Do NOT stop bracing me...I can barely hold my head up much less my torso. I blame you for that, by the way. Does that make us even or should I expect other retribution later?"
He sounded resigned to the fact that he was still in the dog house.
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Sept 4, 2014 20:16:38 GMT -8
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