(1937-12-28) Shell Game
Details for Shell Game
Summary: Elijah finds Nadya bilking Muggles in Hyde Park, and pits his keen eyes against her deft hands.
Date: December 28, 1937
Location: Hyde Park

The flurrying snows have settled this morning, at least long enough to lure Londoners out to enjoy the snow. In Hyde Park, couples stroll through the winter wonderland, and families have come to let their children build fortresses and have snowball wars. At a central crossroads in the park paths, a small folding table is erected, and a dark-haired woman sits bundled up behind it, sharing her catlike smile with passers-by. Upon the table are several objects, including a deck of cards held down by a stone, and three upside-down cups. The dusky-skinned woman is presently rearranging those cups in a dizzying display of manual dexterity, as a middle-aged man tries to follow along and keep track of the half of an acorn shell underneath one of them.

Elijah finds himself walking carelessly through the park, his long blue coat whipping around him. The warming charm is turning out to be quite effective as he looks completely comfortable and content. The greying inspector hears the familiar sounds of a con game; the scraping of wood on wood and the good-natured sighs that go along with losing a little bit of money in a supposedly fair competition. There's no way Elijah's not going to take part. He simply queues up behind the man at the table, watching the woman work her magic.

Nadya gives the man before Elijah a sympathetic smile when he guesses wrong. The money on the table vanishes almost instantly into her hand. "Better luck next time. Would you care to try again?" The man chuckles, declining and moving off, leaving the Inspector in view. A slender eyebrow arches at Elijah's appearance. There is a hint of recognition there. "I'm afraid the games are done for today," she informs him in a blended accent, shrugging apologetically.

Elijah smirks to her, peering out from below the brim of his hat, "Contradictory. You offered the man before me a second chance. Well, I'd like my /first/ chance. Surely you can't resist the chance to make a little bit of money off of me." He smiles warmly, pulling his money clip out of his pocket.

Nadya clicks her tongue against her teeth, eyeing him warily — a bit like a cornered animal. "Alright," she agrees cautiously. "One game is one pound." She nods to the table where the previous man had put his money, underneath another stone to keep it from blowing away. Meanwhile, she overturns the cups, revealing their emptiness, and the half a shell underneath the center cup.

Elijah pulls a one pound note from the money clip and tucks it under the rock, saying, "You look worried. No need for that. I'm a beginner, after all." He rests his hands on his hips and looks down at the shells, "So, I just try to figure out which one has the shell underneath it?"

Nadya chuckles, shaking her head as she turns the cups back down, covering the shell. "That's right, Inspector. Y' truly are a quick study," her shifting accent doesn't cover the sarcasm in her voice. "Find the shell, and double your money." She begins to move the cups, faster and faster under her nimble fingers, until her hands are like a blur.

Elijah grins at her and says, "Are you saying that I learn quickly or that it doesn't take long to figure me out? In either case, you're right." He flashes her a wink watches the shells intently, smiling at the display of dexterity.

Nadya finally brings the cups to a halt, letting her hands hover over them for a moment, then slowly withdrawing them. "Oh, I don' think you're so easy to figure out." She grins, those catlike eyes smiling along with her lips. "Where is the shell?"

Elijah scratches a bit at his nose and taps the left cup, "This one." He smirks and pulls his hand back, sliding it in his pocket and waiting to see if his mastery of deduction has served him well on this day.

Nadya lifts an eyebrow at his. "Are you sure?" She doesn't really wait for an answer, and raises the cup, revealing the shell underneath. She spreads her hands "helplessly," shrugging. "Well done. Seems I could not fool you." A one-pound note is pulled from her inner coat pocket, and added to the one on the table. But before she pulls her hand away, she pauses, licking her lips. She has the scent of the con in her nose. "Care to try to double it?"

Elijah can smell that Gypsy con from a mile away, but hey it's just a few pounds. He grins and says, "I can't see why not. Go ahead and set it up again." He clasps his hands behind his back, his eyes twinkling as he watches.

Nadya's eyes never leave his as she sets up the cups again. She's done this a thousand times, and arranges the game by rote. "Another pound on the table then, Inspector." But she is already moving the cups, shifting them back and forth, around and around each other in a dizzying dance.

Elijah complies, pulling another pound out of his money-clip tucking it under the rock with the other one. He sniff a bit and watches the impressive display once more. Once it's finished he puts on a little act of tapping his lips and thinking, "This is a hard one, I tell you that." A few more moments of quiet contemplation and he reaches out to take her arm, though there's nothing aggressive in the gesture. He holds it with one hand and sort of squeezes the other down the length of her forearm, his fingertips kissing lightly at the palm of her hand as he reaches it, liberating the shell from its hiding place, "It's here."

Nadya starts to pull her hand away. But curiosity kills the cat, and it seems she cannot resist watching him work, her open mouth curling at the corners into a wry smile as he locates the shell. "Congratulations," she breathes. "You found it." Her other hand produces a fourth note to add to the other three. "Your reward."

Elijah grins at her and says, "Keep it." Though, he will take his own money and tuck it deep into his coat pocket where her thieving Gypsy fingers can't get to it. He clears his throat and says, "The challenge was reward enough. Do have a wonderful day, Nadya." That's right, Gypsy woman, Elijah remembers. Elijah remembers all!

Nadya's smile never falters, and his use of her name only broadens it. The game is, most definitely, afoot.

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