(1938-08-02) Brewing up a Friend
Details for Brewing up a Friend
Summary: Gus and Nora catch up over a glass of wine.
Date: 1938-08-02
Location: Rousseau Vineyards
Related: http://wandw.wikidot.com/log:1939-08-02-wine-fundraiser-for-orphans Wine Fundraiser for Orphans

The fundraiser that Gus had put together - selling his wines at 30 percent off to raise money for an orphanage, has been a smashing success! The matron of the orphanage is even now counting her sickles, knuts, and galleons, her expression pleased to no end. The sign is still up, with its moving photograph of the orphans in question with their matron, and there are actually still three bottles left. Gus sits on a stool waiting for someone to wander near enough or send an interested glance his way. While he waits, he whittles - this looks like the beginning stages of some four-legged animal, but it's so raw at this point that there's no telling if it'll be a dog or a stag or something else entirely. He whistles while he carves, his grey eyes intent. His dark silver robes match his eyes, and around his left arm he wears a black mourning band. Pinned to his right shoulder is a small purple carnation. These were being passed out recently to honor the victims of the latest terrorist attack on this and other streets of business.

Honora Summerbee had just been passing by on some errand, but the sign caught her eye, and a moment later she changed direction to approach. When she's close enough she asks, quietly, "I… don't need any wine, really, but is it possible to donate to the orphanage directly?"

Gus looks up from his whittling. For a second he just stares at her, his eyes wide. Then he blinks, and slow grin spreads across his mouth. "Nora?" he asks. "Nora Summerbee?" He knows it's her, and without waiting for her to respond he hops down from his stool and puts his carving and his knife atop it. He almost grabs her shoulders, but stops himself at the last second. "Well, look at you," he says. "Much different out of school. Ah, yeah, sure, you can give the matron any amount, even if you don't want to take any wine with you. Cor, Nora - how have you been?" he asks. Not that they were close friends, exactly, but they were housemates, until Gus dropped out after his mother was murdered.

Nora manages a brief smile in response to Augustin, but her mood doesn't allow it to linger long. She looks to the Matron first, explaining, "There are going to be more orphans now, after the attacks," and hanging over a few sickles. "Sorry it's not much."
That settled, she looks back to Gus. "I've been working at MacDiarmarda's since graduation. The apothecary? We lost someone there in the attacks — didn't know her that well, I guess, but it's a shock."

Gus' smile fades and he nods at Nora's words. "Poor little tykes," he says softly. "Is that the, er… the one where the outhouse was knocked in, and that Mr. Harper died?" He winces and shakes his head. "They're saying it's his family curse. But I suppose enough died that day that a curse hardly counts."

The matron accepts the coins. "Oh, thank you, miss," she tells Nora gratefully. Then turning to Gus, she says, "I should be going now, young Mr. Rousseau. Tell you father again how very grateful we are for the donations. We'll be sending your family a very nice Christmas card." She reaches up to kiss his cheek, and Gus smiles down at her.

"Travel safely, Mrs. Blythe," he tells her. He turns back to Nora, concerned, now. "I'm sorry to hear that you lost a coworker. Here… since we're old housemates, and all, why don't you stay for a glass?" he offers. "I've got to clean this up but it'll only take me a minute."

Denny walks back over to the stand after a while, with a bit of a relaxed look about him. He offers a smile to the two outside of the wine store, keeping his hands inside of his pocket after he tosses a few more coins onto the table. He offers a nod of his head, hearing parts of the conversation but trying not to let it get to him.

Nora shakes her head at the question. "A different shop. MacDiarmarda's was run by Niamh. We think she was out trying to help the survivors and put out fires and such, and, well… she wouldn't have known that moving around accelerated the curse." She seems to accept Gus's offer, however, moving to take a seat while she waits for him to finish up.

The matron snatches up the coins on her way by, and departs on her broom with a final smile for Gus, Denny, and Nora.

Gus takes the sign down first, bringing it inside. He's out a moment later to get the wines, and then the tables are levitated inside. "Hullo," he says cheerfully to Denny. "Thanks for the extra donation, mate. You've done rather a lot already. Have you had of the wine, yet?" Then he beckons Nora toward the inside of the shop. Denny is free to join them as well.

"Wasn't for me" Denny admits, shaking his head, as he moves over towards the window of the shop. He pulls out a small half smoked cigarette from his coat pocket stowing it into the corner of his mouth. "Hopefully who it's for enjoys the gesture," He thinks quietly to himself, just enjoying the air away from mountains of paperwork.

Nora follows Augustin inside, glancing around at all the expensive wines. "I don't think I've ever been in here," she admits, clearly a little intimidated by the apparent wealth. Pure-blood or not, next to anyone that could afford to shop here regularly she's just a commoner, after all.

"I'm sure the orphans will," Gus tells Denny, quite firmly believing that, too. "Some of them are starting school soon, and we all know that wands and books and uniforms aren't cheap." He quickly goes behind the counter when Nora enters and pulls out a bottle of white wine and two glasses. After a short pause, he fetches a third glass as well. "Put up the closed sign, will you?" Gus asks Denny. Then he gestures to the two stool, indicating that they could sit. "It's a new-ish shop," Gus tells Nora. "Only opened three or four months ago. I thought it was a good idea to expand the vineyards into London, and managed to convince Papa. We're doing alright, so far."

Denny moves over to the door, turning over the closed sign without a word, before making his way back into the room. "Anyone asks you, I was here checking a lead" The mans voice sounding somewhat humored by the situation at hand, and his own opinions on the matter.

Nora watches Denny warily. Augustin is, if not a friend of Nora's from school, at least an acquaintance; this other man is a complete stranger. For the moment, she settles for ignoring him, replying to Gus. "Yeah? Father wants me to be more experienced before bringing the family business proper out here, so I'll probably be working for other potioneers for the forseeable future."

"Doesn't hurt to get plenty of experience," Gus says, nodding as he pours the wine. "And if I were you, I'd make sure to learn bookkeeping skills as well, and learn a thing or two about how to run a business. Taxes and all that." He looks between them. "Oh, silly me. Nora, this is…" he looks blankly at Denny. "You know, mate, I don't actually know your name." Back to Nora. "He donated a very generous amount today for the orphans. I guess a glass of wine is little enough thanks." Back to Denny. "I'm Augustin Rousseau, but everyone calls me Gus." He sticks out his hand for Denny to shake.

Denny offers a bit of a small smile, before moving his jacket to one side to show off his badge, which reads Constable Denny A. Orwell. Various weapons muggle and otherwise can be seen hidden on his person for self defense of maybe something more sinister. Under the rather bulky jacket the man looks to be well built, and somewhat muscular keeping to more physical pursuits as apposed to magical ones.

The Summerbee girl nods. "I was doing some of the bookkeeping for the shop, at least before the attacks… I'm working toward it. I'm not sure what'll happen now, though." Her eyes keep flicking back to Denny uncomfortably. The guy's carrying weapons and Orwell's not a family name she can place. The latter doesn't necessarily mean anything, but it doesn't help, either.

"Oh, Constable," Gus says, leaning closer and reading the badge. "Constable Orwell." He finally takes his hand back, since it wasn't shaken - he looks a little awkward. "Well, er… it's a pleasure to meet you, I suppose," he says. "I hope you like white wines." He pushes Denny's glass closer to him, and then presents Nora's to her as well. "For the lady," he says with a charming little smile.

Denny quickly drinks the wine down, and smiles, then leaves, possibly off to do some of that investigating he mentioned earlier.

Nora relaxes some as the stranger departs, but the distraction means Augustin's attempt at being charming garners little more than a brief shy smile from the girl. "So… you have another year left at Hogwarts, right?" Just shifting the conversation now, to put the awkwardness behind her.

"Ah, well, no," Gus says, picking up Denny's empty glass and aiming a scouring charm at it, so he can put it away again clean. Then he sits on his own stool and picks up his own wine. "I quit for good." He swirls the wine around and inhales the aroma, closing his eyes briefly to savor it. "My father and little sister needed me too much, after Mama died." He touches the black mourning band around his left arm.

"…Oh. Sorry." Whoops. Nora hadn't meant that to be a personal question, just a safe way to get conversation going. She looks down at her wine, apologetic and avoiding Gus' gaze for a moment, before resuming the stumbling attempts at conversation again, adding, "I almost left after OWLs, but I needed the Potions NEWTs for my career, I think."

Gus gives her a bittersweet smile and shakes his head. He takes a moment to sip at his wine, and then watches her, head tilted to one side. "Nothing to apologize for, Nora," he says softly. He'll nod a bit about the NEWTS. "Well, I think that was wise, honestly. Most people who are taking a potion want the peace of mind knowing it came from someone with a Potions NEWT. Almost everyone's got their OWLS, so headache powders and whatnot aren't hard, but… wart removal?" he jokes. "Not something you want coming from an amateur." He raises the glass in an impromptu toast. "To… potions NEWTS."

Nora raises her glass with the toast, albeit in a slightly awkward manner that suggests she's thinking 'Am I doing this right?' Then, after another sip of her wine, she says, "So… what led to the idea for a charity sale? It was a good idea, I think; lure people back out here to shop, so day-to-day life can come back to normal a little, and help out the orphans at the same time."

Gus leans on the counter with his glass of wine still in his hands. "Technically, one is supposed to hold a glass of wine by the stem," he coaches her lightly. "See, the warmth of your hand on the bowl can change the flavor of the wine." He points to where his fingers delicately clutch the stem, and then smiles at her. "Almost no one does it this way, though," he adds on. He'll nod, then. "Mrs. Blythe came to us, actually," he says. "It was her idea. She'd already approached a few businesses, but none of them would bite. I… felt bad for the children, you know?" He shrugs. "I kind of understand a little of what they're feeling. Half at least, I suppose. But credit goes to Mrs. Blythe." He raises his glass in toast to the orphanage matron and sips again.

Nora considers that. "We probably would have had to say no to her too, even if nobody'd been hurt at our shop… there's probably a few businesses like that, that lost some of their stock from smoke or fire damage. Glad you were able to manage it, though; she looked pretty happy when she left." She shifts her grip on the wineglass, then, to follow Gus's advice. "You know, I think first time I picked up a wine glass I did it like this and someone told me I was doing it wrong. I suppose you're a better authority on it than some random stranger, though."

Gus nods. "I'm glad we were able to, as well," he says. He smiles when she adjusts her grip. "Ah, so you're a girl with good instincts," he says. "So tell me… do your instincts say the wine is good, or not?"

Nora admits, "I haven't tasted a great variety of wines to compare, I'm afraid. But I think so?" She grins, then, at a thought: "It tastes a hundred times better than the things I brew at my job, for what that's worth."

Gus grins back at her, and then laughs. "Well, I should hope so," he tells her. "If not, I must be doing something wrong!" He chuckles again. "You know… I never noticed before now… I mean, I noticed, but only in a vague kind of way… you're really rather pretty."

She's always been good at convincing herself she's not actually being flirted with, but it's a lot harder to deflect direct compliments like that. Nora blushes, avoiding Augustin's gaze. "Well, thank you. There are plenty prettier, though."

Gus chuckles quietly at her blush, pleased to be able to elicit a reaction like that. "Sure, sure, but I'm not talking about veelas." He smiles again and looks down at his wine, then back up at her. "Hey, forgive me if I'm making you uncomfortable. My flirting skills are a little rusty." He inhales a bit. "I don't even know if I'm being sincere or not. It's probably still too soon after…" he gestures to his mourning band. "Anyway. Your parents… do they brew, too?"

Something about Augustin's words reassures Nora, so while she still seems a little flustered it's at least not overwhelming, and she's able to look back at Gus and reply. "My mother's a writer. Magical theory and other kind of abstract things. I think she hopes something she writes will get used as a textbook at Hogwarts someday. She's such a Lovegood, though," referring to the family's reputation for strangeness, "And I'm not sure that's what Hogwarts is looking for in their books. Anyway, I'm following more after father. He has a little potions shop back home. Doesn't sell a lot — he doesn't do big batch brewing like most of the shops do, everything's on commission or because he wants to try a recipe." She seems fond of them both.

"Wine is my father's business," Gus says. "Mama got into it for him." He's quiet for a moment. "I'd always wanted to be an artist, actually, but…" he shrugs. "Papa and Lizette are counting on me, you know? I can't let them down." He finishes off his wine and sets down the glass very carefully. "Writing is good," he tells Nora. "Never was good at it myself, so I admire those who can. And potions…" he shakes his head. "I'm alright, I suppose. You know, plenty of wizards get the wine they need for certain potions from us!" He lowers his voice as if someone were close enough to hear, which they're not, and leans a bit closer to her. "Certain potions that a man and wife might use to, you know, keep the marriage fresh." He waggles his eyebrows comically at her, eyes twinkling with humor.

While that does make Nora blush again a little, it also makes her laugh. Or, well, giggle, she's not really loud enough for it to be a proper laugh. "I think Father gets good business selling that sort of potion, actually. I remember a few times when I was little, people coming into his shop embarrassed, and commissioning things. Whispers and winks and nudges and not actually saying what potion they wanted. I didn't understand it at the time, and Father wouldn't explain, but he seemed to know what they meant."

Gus chuckles again - even he's blushing a little bit. "As I understand it, our wines are truly excellent for that sort of thing." He holds up the bottle. "More?" he offers. "I, myself, have tried my hand at a few potions, specifically those involving our wine. For instance… there's the sleep potion I make with a good, rich red. It tends to give the drinker good dreams, but not always. I've needed that a time or two. There's a calming potion good for hysteria, a laughing potion - best with blushes, for some reason." He means blush wines. "A mixture for upset stomach, a poultice for the face…" he trails off, trying to think of more. "What's your favorite potion?"

Nora hesitates at the offer of more wine, but nods. "A little more, sure." After listening to the rest of what Gus has to say, she considers his question thoughtfully. "It's really hard to pin down… I think the most interesting part of potion-making is trying to get substitutions or variant recipes to work. Anyone can follow directions, but getting everything just right… It's a little more of an art, that way."

Gus pours her more wine, and gives himself a bit more, as well. "You should make a potion that keeps you from getting drunk," Gus suggests. "Is there a hangover potion?" He's curious about that. "I've never needed one - I am French, after all." He puts on a fake snooty air when he says that last bit, and then chuckles at himself. "It sounds very delicate, the way you talk about potions. Reminds me of carving. Getting things just so, having it all work out in your head… sometimes though, my work surprises me, almost like… like the carving was already in the wood, and I'm just helping it to emerge. As if I am the tool, rather than the knife in my hand."

Nora grins. "I'm pretty sure the wizards started brewing hangover potions the night after the muggles finished brewing the first batch of alcohol. Couldn't say firsthand how well any of them work, though. A lot of the recipes are older than proper potion theoretics, so there's probably a lot of junk ingredients in them." And, to the other part of that, "You know, I heard that about sculpture, once? That the people that are really good at it don't see it as carving a sculpture into a shape. They see it as carving away the extra material around a shape that's already there."

Gus reaches under the counter and comes out with something. "Look at this," he says, and places a small wooden sculpture before her. "I made it for my sister." It's a little girl on a broom. Her hair is in pigtails and flies out behind her, and her skirt flares around her knees. She's got a huge smile on her face, and dimples in her cheeks. The twiggy part of the broom touches a base, but that's the only part that does. "It's the best thing I've ever done," he tells her. "I'm so… amazed. I mean… I can see where I need to improve, things I wish I'd done a bit differently, but…" he shakes his head. "When I started this, it was just a block of wood. And now look. It's a happy little witch."

Nora examines the sculpture. "It's very good. Did you know you were making a witch on a broomstick when you started?" she wonders, "Or did it just sort of work out that way?" Looking at it closely she adds, impressed, "You even managed to give it a proper face and everything."

Gus shakes his head. "No, I didn't," he admits. "I just started randomly whittling, and after a bit I thought it looked a bit like a person, perhaps, and then…" he gestures at it. "Voila." He hunches down and puts his face right up to it - not far from Nora's face, either. "Look at the little dimples," he points out. "Last-minute inspiration. She doesn't look like anyone I know. A passing witch saw it told me that it's my future daughter, swore up and down it was a premonition." He chuckles. "Well, I've heard stranger things, I guess."

Nora tenses, not expecting the sudden closeness. Of course she blushes again; was that in any doubt? She tries to avoid drawing attention to that, though. "It could be. I never really understood divinations. Too hard to tell whether you're doing it right."

"Oh, you're blushing," Gus says, drawing back a little and studying her. He grins, the expression slow and wicked. "And I didn't say anything even remotely risque." He drops his voice to nearly a whisper. "Honora Summerbee… do you think I'm handsome?" Then he straightens up and puts on an eager puppy-dog expression. "Oh, please say yes!" he tells her. "I could use a boost to my ego." He flexes his biceps this way and that, clowning around. "No one but my sister ever notices my manly muscles, and she doesn't count, she's my sister!" He adopts a couple of ridiculous poses and grunts like a gorilla.

It's hard not to blush more when someone points out you're blushing. It's one of the most frustrating aspects of blushing! So, Nora's blush deepens and she moves away a little. "Um. Well." She'd maybe considered giving a serious answer, but then Augustin started goofing around, so she smirks and says, "You're not that muscular." Evading the 'handsome' question entirely.

Gus laughs and drops his arms back down to his sides. Then he picks up the wine and finishes it quickly. He'll gaze at her for a few moments, then slowly close his eyes, inhale, exhale. "Well, I should really close out for the day and get home," he tells her, sounding and looking reluctant. "It's been really nice catching up with you, though," he says. "Maybe we could… do this again, some time?"

Nora nods, her smile nervous but genuine. "Sure. I don't know when, I'm going to be busy for a little while getting the shop fixed up and restocked and such and I'm not sure what the schedule'll be like. But… I pass by here sometimes. I'll keep you updated?"

"Absolutely," Gus agrees. He'll hold out his hand for her glass as well, so he can put it away. "Stay safe out there," he says kindly.

Nora returns the glass, quietly thanks Gus, and walks out. Until she thinks she's out of sight she tries to maintain a dignified look, maybe a little smile at most, but it breaks into a broad grin once she's out of the shop; Gus may or may not catch a glimpse of that. Took her mind off the attacks, at least.

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