(1937-09-10) A Toast to New Friendship
Details for Log Title
Summary: After dinner at the Three Broomsticks, Audrey and Ranjali discuss the strange event at the station and discover the possible beginnings of a new friendship.
Date: 10 September, 1937
Location: The Three Broomsticks
Related: The Astounding Apparition of Bannon Bates

Toward the end of dinner, a pair of young men arrived at the Three Broomsticks carrying a set of packages. These, it turned out, had been left on the platform at Hogsmeade Station by Ranjali, in her haste to help Bannon with his troubles. She excused herself almost immediately after offering to pay for a round of drinks, and headed to her toom to check on the items inside the brown paper wrappings.
She returns sometime later to the main dining hall, where she orders a pot of tea and seeks out a quiet place to sit near the fire and think.

Audrey has managed to avoid the usual gaggle of young men vying for her attention. After all, she isn't dolled up to attract attention at the moment (though she is certainly still made up and styled for her own sense of glamour), and it is late at night in a tiny Scottish town, not a London nightclub. Still, at least one local gentleman seems to have been drawn to her natural charms, and has spent the last ten minutes seated at her table, attempting to make her swoon. "Oh, Mr. Lester, you're awfully kind to say so," she laughs politely. "But I fear the country life just isn't for me."

Ranjali is on her way to a smaller table when she hears Audrey, and stops to glance at the converstaion. With a worried frown, she hovers in her spot, glancing a few times from her table to where the singer and her admirer sit. The indecision is short-lived, though, and soon enough she's approaching Audrey and Mr. Lester, "Ah, excuse me, I don't mean to interrupt. I just hoped to apologise for leaving dinner so abruptly… " She glances from Audrey to the man, her eyes questioning.

Audrey is reaches for Ranjali's hand the moment she realizes that she's there. "Oh no, darling. Don't apologize. Tonight has been such a whirlwind, and exhausting. Completely exhausting," she stresses the word as she looks at Mr. Lester and stands. "Forgive me, you precious man. But my friend has been awaiting my presence, and I cannot simply abandon her. Ta!" She blows him a kiss, and turns so he cannot see her mouthing Thank you to Ranjali.

Ranjali smiles widely, her eyes filled with amusement. She nods and leads the way to the table tucked away behind a pillar, signalling for an extra cup from a passing server. "I am glad to help. I suppose it has never occured to me how difficult that must be, do you encounter such things everywhere?" Her demeanor is much calmer now, more self-assured than during their last two encounters.

Audrey settles into a seat at Ranjali's table, giving an amused roll of her eyes. "Do I ever. Oh, that must sound awfully conceited. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy it. But when I'm here, this is my chance to get away from all of that for a little while."

Ranjali chuckles sotfly. "I can certainly understand needing to get away. And I do not find that conceited in the least. I /have/ seen you perform afterall." Her smile is sheepish, her eyes still filled with amusement. And then, rather suddenly, she changes the subject. "May I ask, do you know Mr. Bates?"

Audrey gives Ranjali a beaming smile, brimming with gratitude at her compliment. But before she can gush, the questin is posed. "Mr. Bates? Is that the gentleman we took to the farm? I don't believe I ever caught his name."

Ranjali nods, frowning faintly as she thinks, "Bannon… Benjamin Bates? Or something. Some of the people on the platform seemed to recognise him, and he mentioned the Ministry a few times. I spend to much time with my head buried in my work, I tend to miss a fair amount of current business… unless it relates directly to my work, of course. I hoped that perhaps you knew him."

Though surprised, Ranjali nods in acceptance. The tea is delivered silently to their table then, along with the second cup, and after offering the server a smile of thanks she begins pouring. "I suppose that makes sense, you must be terribly busy." When the first cup is poured she slides it over to Audrey and begins pouring the second, "It was rather fascinating, really. He apparated into the middle of the station. And by the middle, I mean a number of feet in the /air/."

Audrey's eyes widen at that. "It sounds as if he missed his mark. It's a good thing he wasn't…oh, what's the word? Cinched?" She shakes her head. "Do you suppose he's a Hit Wizard? He was wounded, wasn't he? Perhaps he was escaping from a fight he couldn't win."

Ranjali is nodding, "Splinched, yes. That was my initial fear as well. I didn't have the means of healing that on hand." She looks worriedly into her cup as she lifts it for a sip, "It's very likely. And if so, what was he escaping from? And what danger would send him to Grey farm like that?"

Audrey shakes her head, a worried expression knitting her brow. "I don't know. But I hope it doesn't follow him to Hogsmeade." She sighs, taking a sip of the tea. But she suddenly smiles, brightening up. "So, you know all about me. Tell me more about you. Why did you decide to study the healing arts?"

Blushing almost instantly as she suddenly becomes the topic of conversation, Ranjali smiles and glances up, then looks back at her cup. "My brother, in a roundabout way. He played quidditch at Hogwarts, and I went to the hospital with him whenever he was injured during a game."

Audrey nods expectantly, leaning forward. "Yes? Surely there is more to the story than that. Was there some healer that took you under his wing? A particular incident that inspired you?" She wants drama!

Ranjali chuckles, "It was nothing so spectacular. It just fascinated me. The way the healer could fix /anything./ Nothing was ever too much for her. No matter how broken and battered those students were when they were brought to her, they came back out in perfect condition. You see… my father is a Muggle." She glances again at Audrey, measuring her raction, "I saw how different it was in his world. The horrible things done to save the wounded from the war. But the doctors of the wizarding world… well they seemed like true wizards to me."

Audrey nods solemnly, listening to the explanation. At the appraising glance, she arches an eyebrow curiously. "What is it?" A curious smile comes to her lips. She caught something in that look, but it isn't clear to her what it was.

Ranjali smiles, looking rather relieved even before she answers, "It's just… not everyone is… pleased, to hear that I'm a half-blood. I may not be ashamed of it, but it's still best to be careful, I find."

Now it's Audrey's turn to give a measuring gaze. "You…really don't know, do you?" She takes a deep breath, folding her hands in front of her. "I'm the last person to think ill of you for being a half-blood. You're a witch. Whereas I," she shrugs, nibbling her lip, "I'm just a Squib."

"Know what?" Ranjali frowns at the blonde, confused. The confusion remains as Audrey makes her own confession, though really that's mostly because her face is a bit frozen in shock. Finally, though, she blinks a few times, and after a couple of attempts manages to say, "O-oh. I… didn't know, no. I suppose… " She frowns down at her cup, then quickly adds, "I suppose I just thought that what you did on the stage was so magical… "

Audrey takes a heavy breath, staring down at her own teacup. "That…is as close to true magic as I can conjure. But I understand if this troubles you." Her green eyes flicker up at Ranjali, a sadness overtaking her features. "I'll just be off to bed, I suppose." Dejected, she rises to depart for her room.

"No!" Ranjali jumps from her seat, wincing as she realizes that her exclamation has caught the attention of half of the room. She glances around apologetically as she reaches out to place hesitant fingers on Audrey's shoulder, "No, please. I'm sorry, truly," Her eyes now seek the singer's, filled with worry and apology, "I didn't mean to make you think that, please. Really, it doesn't trouble me."

Audrey stops, turning to face Ranjali with her eyes narrowed in confusion. "You just seems so…disappointed." She wrings her hands together uncertainly. For the first time in Ranjali's presence, Audrey's aura of confidence is shaken, showing a hint of the vulnerable woman underneath. "I try very hard to show people something…well, yes, something magical. It's all I can do. I can't turn teacups into toadstools, or make chairs hover about the room. I can just sing, and dance, and act…it's all I have."

Ranjali watches Audrey with that same look of worried apology as she speaks, then, slowly, moves to take one of the singer's hands in her own. "It is a gift that in my opinion can be just as important, if not moreso, than magic in times like these. And please, forgive me. It is not dissapointment. Simply… awkwardness." She gives a tiny self-depricating laugh. "Would you believe that, beyond the confines of St. Mungo's, I've spoken with few such as you in my life?"

Audrey squeezes Ranjali's hand, the touch reassuring her. She nods, a smile slowly returning to her lips. "I do. I suppose most of those suffering magical maladies are magical themselves."

With a small sigh of relief, Ranjali squeezes back and returns to her seat. "Even if they aren't, my interactions with them rarely go beyond what is necessary for treatment. And, in a way, when I'm working… I have to sort of shut my personal opinions off. I can't always do it, of course. But I need to, most of the time. So I've never really… processed… this sort of thing." Trying to lighten the mood, she attempts a smile and suggests, "And really, now that I think about it, you'd probably be my ideal kind of patient. I wouldn't have to spend as much time lecturing you about staying away from brooms and apparition and certain wand-motions."

Audrey chuckles softly as she sits back down, getting back into a more relaxed mood. "There is that, I suppose. Just so long as you can treat laryngitis." She teases…no, wait. She's dead serious. Her voice is her meal ticket, after all.

Ranjali nods, grinning and relaxing further into her seat. "I have a few things for that, though admittedly it isn't my specialty. Is it something you often have problems with?" She takes a sip of her tea, which by now has cooled to just about the perfect temperature, and looks thoughtfully at Audrey.

Audrey gestures sideways with one hand. "Constantly. I use my voice all the time, so it's a considerable concern. I have all manner of teas and lozenges to keep it loose. So far I've only ever suffered one bout, but I had to cancel two shows because of it. That doesn't make for happy fans."

Ranjali nods and turns a thoughtful gaze to her tea. "If… if it would help, I can ask around at work. There might be something to help protect you from another attack." Her tone is turning shy again, though her face is still thoughtful, her mind trying to sort through the possibilities she can come up with.

Audrey gives her an endearing smile. "That would be lovely. Thank you. I fear that my manager is a Squib as well, so he only knows so much about magical remedies for throat problems. I'll have to keep you around! After all, what if some rival witch singer casts some sort of curse on me?" She laughs softly.

Ranjali laughs a little, blushing faintly. "I can't imagine you having many rivals. And even if you did, I fail to forsee a time in which I would be unwilling to help you with… well, pretty much anything." She takes another sip of her tea, keeping her eyes on the table.

"Oooh, believe me. Divas and actresses can be vicious. Rivalry is a very serious issue." Then, the other woman's last words seem to strike home. She looks up in stunned surprise. "Anything? My…I didn't realize I had such a friend in you." Once again, she reaches for Ranjali's hand. "Thank you. You are so sweet."

Ranjali reachs up to tuck a stray lock of hair behind one ear. "Terribly embarassing, I know. But you reminded me of something I thought I had lost, and then to fimd out that on top of all that talent you're actually a /nice/ person who is willing to not only sit and talk with me, but to offer help to complete and nearly complete strangers? I must admit you have made me a fan for life."

Audrey's cheeks color, turning rosy at Ranjali's words. "Well, of course I would help. It's the humane thing to do. Besides…I like the way you look at me, and your company. I…don't have many friends. Not real ones. I just get the feeling that you see more than the sequins."

Ranjali grins a little. "I was trained to look beyond the obvious, I suppose." She says jokingly, before turning more serious again. "And I /do/ admit it was difficult to see much else, at first. But its the mind that's always truly fascinated me, really. And the more I've seen, the more interesting I find yours to be. Also, I don't have many friends either."

"Well, then we're lucky to find each other, aren't we?" Audrey lifts her teacup in a toast. "To new friendship. May it ever grow stronger."

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