Gemma stood outside the Duck and Dagger in Knockturn Alley with an expression of amused confusion on her face. Her friend Sofi had told her that she needed to try the place, she had even warned Gemma that it was rather odd, but somehow it was just.... more than Gemma had expected. The logo of a fierce duck clutching a wicked-looking dagger and a cup of tea was almost more than Gemma knew how to handle without laughing, but she managed to control herself and go inside without making a scene.
She took a small table over against one wall and murmured a "Thank you" to the waitress when she brought Gemma a menu. The waitress didn't answer, even with a nod, but Gemma had been warned of the wait staff's silence and indifference as well. She began to scan the menu, wondering what she should try.
Of all the gin joints in the world...Or somehting like that. DC had dropped by the D&D (as he mentally referred to it) for some refreshments and to avoid his home situation. After coming home late from the Steel's, he had not only caught hell, but had been grounded too.
Oh the inhumanity.
Still, he was of age now, and able to transfigure his pillows into a sleeping form of himself. No doubt that he'd catch more hell for sleeping all day. Oh well.
What was interesting though, was the blonde sitting by the wall. DC decided to crash her party. He grabbed a menu and strode over to her purposefully.
"Hello, Gemma. I wanted to apologize for the other day, if I might. Even if I'm not allowed, I'm going to, so don't try and stop me."
He sat without being invited and stared pensievly at his menu. Before the awkward silence could be broken by a rant, he spoke again.
"Yes, I know it was rude to sit down uninvited. Consider me lectured. And no, I'm not flirting with you, Steel would kill me about five different ways. So how have you been?"
At the sound of a familiar voice, a familiar male voice, Gemma nearly jumped out of her skin. She stared up at the newcomer with a decidedly deer-in-the-headlights expression for several seconds before realizing who it was: the boy she had met several times before, each ending badly; the boy who was friends with her friend Sofi; the one she only knew as Cross or DC.
It took her a few moments to realize that he was actually... apologizing? That had never happened to her before as far as she could remember, except in the case of Orion... and she hated to compare this boy to her fiance. But still, it was an unexpected but not unwelcome surprise to have someone treat her like she was an actual person with feelings rather than just a person to take advantage of.
He sat down at her table, and Gemma was opening her mouth to ask him what he thought he was doing when he actually explained. Once again, she was surprised, but she decided to let him continue to sit there for now. If he tried anything, she could always cry out, and the other patrons could help her. She hoped hey would, anyway.
"I, erm," she began, stammering slightly, "I-I've been well enough. Not much to do, really.... How about yourself?"
"Eh. Typical, ya know? Cousins got knocked off, mom was pissed that I helped the only survivor, grounded me for not turning him in to the Ministry...average summer so far. So hey, Sofi tells me that you've got a rough time of guys, yeah? Thats why she threatened to kill me, that girl. I think I like that about her. I'm not sure yet. But hey, have you ordered yet? Let me see....you seem like the type to enjoy a Sunrise Cockfight....no, its not as horrid as it sounds...mostly a blend of pineapple and papaya juice, but they have some other stuff in it too....yeah, thats a good 'un. Oh and a bucket of mce, can't leave here with out those, like, EVER. You listen to much music?"
He rambled, askng questions and moving on to the next one without waiting for too much of a response. He figured that she'd overload at some point, snap, and get over the fear that she was positively radiating. Sad. But, he'd help. In his own demented way, of course. The girl WAS a friend of Steel's so she deserved it. Probably.
Gemma did her best to follow everything DC was saying, but once again, as she had at her previous encounters with the young man, she found herself hopelessly confused. He changed the subject every three seconds or so, and each subject grew stranger than the last.
Finally he stopped talking, having just asked Gemma a question. She ran her mind back over the conversation, trying to figure out answers for all the various things he'd said. She realized she couldn't possibly answer them all, so she decided to answer his current one and then see if she could regulate the conversation a bit more. "Music? It depends... I enjoy it, though I don't know much about it myself. Do you have an interest in it?" She unconsciously tilted her head to one side and rested her elbows on the table, watching him carefully.
For once, his sardonic grin became something sharable with another human. The expression was almost shy as he began to brag upon himself.
"Yeah, fair bit...me and my mates at school are thinkin' of starting a band. We all dig Muggle tunes too, so a lot of our influences haven't even been heard by the wizarding world...theres a whole untapped genre out there that we could get into...So, what DO you do besides studying? And relax, aight?"
Gemma actually found herself smiling at the boy's response. He seemed rather passionate about this subject, a fact that made it easier for her to think of things to talk about. He was asking her another question, though, so she decided to answer him. She was beginning to figure out that he enjoyed talking, so if she could continue to get him to do so she should be alright.
"I do enjoy studying, you're right... Obviously you have talked to Sofi... But... well... hmmm..." She paused in thought, trying to figure out what she could tell this boy. Finally she went on. "I like to read, outside of studying, as well... and... I do research. That's what I'm planning to do once I graduate, Spell Reseach... Let me see, what else? Well... I knit, sometimes... and I have a cat who keeps me very entertained..." She shrugged, smiling slightly. "I suppose you could say I don't have many hobbies outside of learning-related things..."
Of all the things she listed, DC had to comment on only one. He leaned forward and planted both elbows on the table. He intertwined his fingers and, leaning forward, rested his chin on them.
"You KNIT? In today's day and age? How charmingly anachronistic. I almost want to learn, and yet have no real reason TO learn it. Ah well. Perhaps you'd be willing to teach me any way...hm...interested in learning to play guitar? Its the only real skill I have that you don't. That and my astounding good looks, but I won't hold that against you..."
He decided to test the waters with teasing. Depending on her reaction, he'd either continue or intensify.
Gemma intentionally copied DC's pose, crossing her legs under the table, her expression incredulous yet not completely upset. "That's rather an odd comment to make," she replied, trying not to smirk, "In fact, that's not something anyone's ever said to me before... Usually they go out of their way to compliment me on my looks rather than degrade them. Not that I mind, it's actually rather charmingly refreshing..."
She tilted her head to the side again, locking her eyes on DC's. She wasn't meaning to come across as flirtatious, but she wondered almost unconsciously whether the boy across from her would think she was. She hoped not. "And why would you like to learn to knit? It's not difficult, though it does require time... But it's not something that most people have any curiosity about whatsoever."
DC didn't restrain his own smirk. In fact, he intentionally let it grow into a teasing smile.
"Yeah, well no one has ever called me charmingly refreshing before either, so there we go. And I figure if I learn to knit, it'll give my mother something more to complain about, so there ya go. Besides, you know how Blackthorne does those projects every year..I've got an idea and I can't make it work on something already made...the...project requires the spell to be placed while the item is being made. So, ulterior motive discovered, you get five points."
Last year his project had been a paper on Muggle interpretations of magic in media and art. It was, in his opinion, a cleverly disguised way to talk about Metallica and other heavy metal bands.
"An interesting idea," Gemma mused, her expression becoming slightly distant as her brain began to work out the possibilities, "What are you planning to make? If it's not something too difficult, I..."
She paused considering whether she really wanted to help this boy. He hadn't treated her very well the times she'd encountered him before, but he was doing fairly well right now. Would he continue to act like this? Or would he revert and make her wish she'd sent him away the moment he'd come up?
Finally, she made up her mind. She'd offer her help, but if he changed his attitude toward her back to what it had been she'd merely set Orion on him. The thought nearly made her smile; she'd never had an option like that before. "I'll teach you, if you like," she murmured almost shyly, "Though you'll have to supply your own materials..."
She was drawing back from him, he could tell. So, she hadn't forgotten the incidents previous then, despite his relative innocence at the very get go. Time to make some things clear. He leaned forward and pointed a finger in the air.
"Look, Gemma, I know you don't trust me still. Is it because of the Leaky Cauldron thing? Think back for a moment, lady...hear an American accent then? And do you hear a British one now? I may carry association guilt, but I also apologized. Steel thinks decently of me, and she's probably the one person I don't want to dissappoint. So there ya go. And Ideally, I'd like to make a sweater. More yarn, more area for what I intend to do. And if you know a pattern with pockets, thats just cheese on the nachos. And of course I'll supply my own yarn. Duh." He finished his sarcasm with a quirked grin. At this point, the waitress came by and arched an eyebrow at them. She poised with a note pad, looking like a mime who was pretending to be a waitress.
"Swamp Lights, and chocolate mouse bucket. And what ever she wants."
Gemma sighed, rubbing her forehead with her hand. "It was a bit of a bad situation, you have to admit," she pointed out quietly with just a hint of iron in he voice, "I trust Sofi, so I'm open tot he idea of extending that trust to you, to some extent, but... even if I do forgive you, I'm not likely to be able to forget, especially just straight off. I've had too many times where less than that came back to haunt me, so..."
She sighed again and rested her chin on her hands. "And I do know a pattern like that, though... a sweater... that might be a bit tricky for a beginner. But if you try, it shouldn't be impossible... And what are nachos? Judging by what you said they're some sort of food, but I've never heard of them..."
At this point the waitress showed up. Gemma was a bit miffed, for she'd been wondering where the wait staff had disappeared to, but DC's order was enough to distract her. She very nearly laughed, but managed to hide it by hastily scanning the menu again. "I'll have.... what was that thing you suggested? A Sunrise Cockfight?" Gemma looked questioningly at DC, but the waitress merely nodded, wrote something on her pad, and left. As soon as she was out of earshot, Gemma leaned over, smirking slightly. "Rather odd around here, aren't they?"
DC nodded through her whole mini-lecture about forgiving but not forgetting, something about Sofi, and then back to regular conversation. He made sure to throw enough pauses to make it seem like he was actually listening. The whole point of her saying this was something he already realized. She eventually changed the subject back to knitting. Then to food. He much preferred the latter two topics to the previous.
Her question floored him. He flopped on to the table dramatically, banging both fists and his forehead in a gesture of despair and agony. "Nachos, silly Brit, or Frenchie? Anyway, nachos are amazing. Tortilla sections that have been fried and then given a liberal coating of ground beef, salsa, jalapenos, cheese, and occasionally, olives. Though I typically avoid the olives....too much vinegar with the cheese makes for a bad rest of the day. Honestly though, you've never had nachos? Sad day." He shook his head in an expression of remorse. He sighed and sat back up.
"And you'll not regret the Sunrise...well, you might. Then I think I'll be the one to regret it...but I like them, so there. And yes, they are very odd. Why do you think I come here so often?"
Gemma actually laughed at DC's antics in response to her nacho comment, the first time she'd allowed herself to show such an emotion fully around him. "I'm sorry, I've just never had the opportunity to eat them before," she replied, still smiling widely, "They do sound....interesting, though; I promise to ask Sofi if she can get some for me, all right?"
She rested her arms on the table and looked at him quizzically. "And I didn't know you came here often. Sofi only told me that a friend of hers had introduced her to this place and that I might like it. She never said it was you." She thought of something else and smiled slightly. "And how did you know I'm half French? It can't be my accent, I'm very careful to regulate it so that I sound only British. I usually get a lot of odd questions, otherwise. So how did you know? Has Sofi been telling you about me or something?"
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