(1937-10-29) The Royal Wand in Shepherd's Bush
Details for The Royal Wand in Shepherd's Bush
Summary: Each there for different reasons, Veruca and Keenan have a chance encounter.
Date: 29 October 1937
Location: The Royal Wand, Shepherd's Bush
Related: None.

It's getting rather late on a Monday night, and most London establishments roll up their sidewalks by 10PM. Even though it's at least an hour past that, there is one bar in Shepherd's Bush that is still open, to a specific clientele. The Royal Wand is one of the mid-scale pubs in this comfortable neighborhood, and those that have lingered well past dinner are beginning their exodus home. Still, there's a fair number here. Among that number is a small party of three at a table near the bar. The last remnants of a business meeting, Veruca lingers with two potential clients, finishing drinks. The gentlewizards with her finish first, and she waves them on their way casually. "I'll be on my way shortly, gentlemen. I look forward to hearing from you soon." As they head for the door out to London, she sits back in her chair, legs crossed, a speculative look on her face as she watches their backs to the door.

At the far end of the bar, as the dinner patrons start to disperse for the evening, the drinking boys are slowly working their volume to a more boisterous level, their guffaws less stifled. It isn't long after to door closes behind the 'business gentleman' that a drunken cant starts to break out. After a couple of stops and corrections, it finally gets going full bore, in that bad singing that actually sounds good when mixed together that only drunk Irishmen can achieve. Leaning against the back of his bar stool/chair, one foot planted firmly against the solid bar about two feet under the table top level, the tousled ginger in simple slacks and shirt seems to be leading the way. He's got hand lightly protecting his pint while the other waves in the air in grand conduction style.

The noise from the far end of the bar draws Veruca's attention, but she only glances that way as she leans forward to get her purse from the table. She removes a cigarette case and thumbs the clasp open, then slides out one of the white cylinders. It is snapped shut and dropped back into her purse, and she frowns slightly as she seems to be looking for something else in the bag. A cigarette is pretty useless without a flame, and she is not producing one.

As the end of the song draws to a rousing finish, Keenan raises his pint to clink with the others. Glancing around once as he downs a good slug of it, he notes Veruca. "Aye, Finn," he nudges the man next to him. "Ye smoke, aye? Help tha poor lass, she can't seem ta light her own cigarette." His head jerks in the direction of the dark haired woman, with a wicked gleam in his green eyes.

Veruca gives no sign of having heard the words from the drunks at the bar, spending another moment or two in fruitless search. She could just produce her wand for a flame, but she decides to just snap her purse shut, laying the cigarette aside, virginal white and unburned. She reaches for her glass and brings it up to drain the last sip.

At Keenan's prompting, Finn approaches the woman, and leans forward, offering her a flame, from the end of his wand. "It's all right, lass," he winks. "Lotsa people fergits how tae summon a flame after they've had few." Keenan gives a cough on the last of his pint as he overhears, but then shakes his head.

As she looks up, Veruca's dark eyes are mild, as is the bare smile on her lips. "Thank you for such a kind offer," she says levelly, making no move to pick her cigarette back up. "I think I'll save it for later." Her glass is returned to the table with a light thump, her eyes remaining on this Finn person. The bartender glances over, but makes no special note of the situation.

Finn shrugs his shoulders. "Suit yerself, lass," he says, flicking the flame off, then sliding his wand back into his sleeve as he turns and walks back to Keenan and crew.
"Lad, ye need a lesson 'r two when it comes tae sweet talkin' tha ladies," the red head says on his return. He glances over to Veruca and then to his buddy, "ye're lucky… she coulda showed ye just how well she remembers to summon flame."

The waiter for Veruca's table approaches her as she catches his eye and motions him over. The words she exchanges with him are intentionally low, and her voice doesn't carry more than the sound of a soft murmur. Although she herself makes no indication of what she may be saying, the waiter's eyes dart over to the men at the bar, and then back to Rue. She notices that, but there's no reaction to that either. The waiter stands after a moment, and disappears into the kitchen.

Keenan grins as Finn takes a swing at him, cuffing his shoulder. "Think it's my turn for a round, an' another wine fer tha lady. Least I can do tae make up fer this clot's clumsiness," he tells the bartender. "Maybe next time ye'll be mindin' yer manners more an' it won't cost me a glass," he lowers his voice with good humor to the man.
"Mebbe ye should take up smokin' so ye don't need ta send yer mates ta do yer work," Finn rejoins good naturedly. "She's a looker, though, aye. Wasnae too painful tae be offerin' her a light."

As the gentlemen talk, Veruca slips a small black book from her purse, opening it to a page marked with a black ribbon. A surprisingly small self inking quill is slipped from the book's spine with deft fingers, and she makes a notation or two within. The approach of the waiter back to her table with a glass of wine gets a raised eyebrow. A whisper has her eyes shift to the ginger at the bar, and a nod of her head sends the waiter on his way once more. With her eyes on Keenan, she takes the wine glass in hand, inclining her head in acknowledgement before she takes a sip. The glass is put back down, and her attention returns to her task.

Glancing over when one of his mates nudges him, Keenan gives her a jovial wink of one, twinkling green eye, the grin creasing the dimples on his cheek. He's obviously in high spirits tonight, and turns back with a shake of his head to correct a lad when he tries to start another song. This next song finds a little more gusto than the first one, and is, of course, sung in Irish Gaelic. The arm that doesn't hold his newly filled pint now hangs down behind the chair. It must be a song about women, though, as there's glance and another wink at the end of one of the verses towards Veruca, just in case she understands Irish.

Although she doesn't understand the words sung, the enthusiasm does serve to raise Rue's dark eyes from her task once more. There's nothing particularly subtle about the open look she directs at Keenan, no hiding behind lashes and peeking out flirtatiously. She takes another sip of the wine, her eyes on him over the rim of the glass, and there they remain until the song ends. There's a half smile on her lips as she regards the jovial group.

Although his glance was meant to be a temporary wink, Keenan catches the look over the glass. Taking a long swig after the end of the song, he lets the leg fall to the ground, which is followed by the thump of the front two legs of his stool. He nudges Finn aside, and strolls over towards her table, not even asking if it would be all right to sit in the chair across from her, he simply does. He places the half full pint down, and leans forward on his elbows. "Ye should let yer hair down an' enjoy yer wine, lass," he encourages. Something about the way he says lass keeps it from sounding like a term used for a child, but instead is referring to a desirable woman. "This is too fine a night tae still be workin'. Tha suits walked out tha door awhile back."

Veruca makes no attempt, either, to hide it as her eyes slide over him from tip to toe and back up again as he stands and approaches. Her gaze holds on his face as he sits, and his words serve to bring a bit more lift to the corners of her lazy smile. "I find that my hairstyle of choice seldom has an effect on my enjoyment of something," she says lightly, but she shuts her book, slipping the quill back into it's holder. "You're right though. That's enough work for tonight."

"Ah, tha literal lass," Keenan chuckles and gives one head nod as if taking a mental note. "Ye know, I havenae seen a lass keeping a little black book, before. Usually it's the lads, although they try tae deny it." He takes a sip from his drink, then decides to answer the question whether or not she intends to ask. "Nae, I donna keep one. I don't let my own hair down often enough tae be keepin' one. An' when I do, usually ma sister or Lindy're tryin' tae set me up with a 'good Irish lass', and they definitely aren't the type tae be putting in such a book."

Despite being acquainted with Edwarlinda, Veruca doesn't connect the nickname with the platinum witch. She taps polished fingernails lightly on the book's cover as she holds it, taking in the green of the man's eyes. "Women do a lot of things now that they never dared before." She leans forward, lowering her voice as if sharing a secret, "Like keep little black books." A slight shift to get more comfortable has Veruca leaning back again, amusement lighting her eyes. "And yet you see fit to give me advice on letting my hair down. Do you think you're quite qualified to do that if you seldom do it yourself?"

Keenan draws himself up importantly. "I have made a great study of the art of letting one's hair down," he informs her in the cultivated tones of an ancient academic. "And by that means I am assured of making the most of my few, precious, nights of revelry and debauchery." It's a posture and an accent he can't keep up long, and he shrugs his shoulders back into a more comfortable roundness as he takes another swig from his pint. "Of course, if ye've any advice… a good scholar never turns down an opportunity tae learn something new."

Alright, even Veruca can't help a more genuine smile at Keenan's attempt. "Revelry and debauchery." She repeats his words with a soft laugh. "Perhaps we should compare notes sometime, Mr…?" The question is left hanging, as to how she might address him.

Keenan nods once at the repeated words, the good humor gleam in his eyes responding to her smile. "That's my quota for high-falutin' words fer tha night," he assures her. "O'Shea," is the surname supplied to her question. "But just fer tonight, I won't hold ye ta formalities. Ye can call me Keenan, bit easier on tha ears, an' I won't think yer about ta hand me a case ta work on."

Veruca inclines her head, "Well then, Keenan, it's a pleasure to meet you." Veruca reaches for her purse, still holding the black book in the other hand. "Regretfully, I'm afraid I must depart. Please, don't get up," she says, rising herself. She moves past him to head for the door, no coat to cover her slender black dress from the night's chill, and stops purposefully, a step past his chair. She turns, reaching over his shoulder to put a business card on the table, her voice low as she suggests, "If you feel inclined to compare notes." On the card is her name and information for contacting her. She straightens, leaving behind a light scent of flowered perfume, letting her hand come to rest on his shoulder, then give a light pat. As she turns to go, her eyes fall on Keenan's drinking companions, and they get a little wave. She saunters to the door without hurry, not looking back as she steps out into the London night.

He may not have a posh accent, but Keenan does have manners, and he can't help rising from his seat most of the way before she bids him not to do so. He does sit back down, however, folding his fingers loosely around the base of his glass. "Aye, an' a pleasure tae spend some chattin' lass," he replies keeping the tone up light, even though she hadn't given him her name. His head tilts slightly to follow her departure behind more with his senses than his eyes, and as she leans down next to him, his dimples clearly crease the cheek towards her, although he still doesn't turn his head to look. The green gaze does flicker down to the fingers on his shoulder, then down to the card on the table. He waits until the smell of the perfume fades slightly, and she's gone. Taking one last swig that drains his pint, he leaves it on the table next to her wine glass, and picks up the card. He reads it, flips it between his fingers a few times as he stands before stowing it in his pocket and meandering back to his fellows. "I'd say the next round's on me, too. Thank ye, mate," he adds to Finn as he slides back into the stool he vacated earlier. Whether the cheer is for the drinks, or the card in his pocket depends on the man and the lewdness of his tone.

Three days after the night at the bar, a bottle of wine arrives for Veruca. It is quite a nice bottle, red and very full bodied.
Tied around the neck is black ribbon with note, written in handwriting that is neither fancy, nor messy. It seems to be well formed without flourishes for the sake of legibility.

Dear Miss Max,
While I would be happy to take you up on your offer to compare notes, as mentioned before I find myself with a distinct lack of time to let my hair down. One of my co-workers has gone on vacation, and I will be adding part of the evening shift to my schedule this week as well as my regular day shift.
Since I am unable to make it myself, I send this bottle of wine in my stead, hoping that you may enjoy it and think of me when you do. Oh, and if you are keeping notes in your little black book, my favorite color is green, my favorite drink is Bushmills and I only shave properly for special occasions since I am generally too busy otherwise to bother with it.
With regrets that I cannot join you in person,
Keenan O'Shea

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