(1938-11-16) Business and Drunken Gits
Details for Business and Drunken Gits
Summary: Medusa and Eibhlin are joined by Alphard on their way into Hogsmeade. The friends decide to join the Malfoy girl for a business meeting in the Three Broomsticks. Once there a rather sozzled Augustin makes an idiot of himself. Other students and some olds join in.
Date: 16 November 1938
Location: Hogsmeade then The Three Broomsticks
Related:
Characters
MedusaEibhlinAlphardAugustinDouglasArthurAndromenaArtemisJulianFabiaAstoriaRena

Medusa strolls along with Eibhlin, their intention being to walk to Hogsmeade. She has her hands in the pockets of her coat. "I am sorry about the other day. I wasn't a ver good friend, all caught up in my own problems. You had a picnic with Gus?"

Eibhlin shakes her head, "Its alright," she assures, "it was bad timing." After all talking to a girlfriend about potential boy trouble just after she breaks up with hers… "Yes," she replies to the mention of the picnic with a bit of a sigh. "He put so much effort into it." And yet she doesn't seem as excited about it as she should.

"I'm hearing an unspoken 'but' in there," says Medusa gently as she looks over at the ginger-haired girl. "Did you fancy him? I wasn't really sure you did, do, truth be told. I got the impression you were only maybe mildy interested but not too sure." Which would be terribly flattering for Augustin.

"He is cute," Eibhlin replies, "And sweet," a hint of a smile touching her lips though her eyes remain fixed on the path in front of her feet. "And a good kisser.." she admits, yes they did go there. Yet there's that 'but' still hanging over head. "He had blankets and music and flowers and," she explains the setup of their picnic, "But lets face it Medusa, you and I both know it would never work."

"Blankets and music?" Medusa lets out a low whistle. "That talk with Douglas must have been some talk. A week ago he had never even got past kissing a girl let alone planned how to set the stage for seduction." She looks over at Evie again. "If you wanted it to work it might have, but only if you both wanted it to work. It wouldn't have been easy, no, but relationships worth haveing take work. Sometimes you even have to break up to realise how much you care for each other."

Eibhlin flushes at the mention of stage setting, even as she lifts her gaze towards pale-haired girl. "We come from such different places," she remarks, "He's a pure-blood from a good wizarding family, and I'm.. not." It might not mean anything to some, but she's not oblivious to how a seemingly large number of people view such matters. "I don't even know anything about my wizard side."

"You could see if the headmaster might help or maybe ask Madam Patil?" Medusa pulls a gloved hand from her pocket and scratches at her cheek, or rather rubs at it with a gloved finger, as she walks slowly twoards Hogsmead with Eibhlin. "They must have a record of your father at the ministry."

"Do you think?" Eibhlin replies as she walks along beside Medusa, the pair headed towards Hogsmead. "I mean its not as if I haven't tried to look, I just haven't found anything." Nothing, which can often be more disappointing than finding something insignificant. She pauses a second before adding, "I broke up with him yesterday." Fair warning.

Medusa tilts her head back and looks up at the mid-morning sky then lowers her gaze to Eibhlin, "The ministry has records on any witch or wizard born in the British Isles. Your dad was clearly born before Ireland became it's own country so his records would be in London. As his daughter you should be able to have a look at at least his birth register." She takes a little longer to return to the topic of Augustin. "Well you could get back together again or maybe you will find someone easier to be with. He is a Snifflepuff after all."

There was nothing new with Alphard looking smug as a cat who'd just gotten a whole bowl of cream to himself. But even by his own standards, the boy was radiating an extreme sense of self satisfaction today. He was even humming to himself, some wizard diddy he'd picked up somewhere and now had festered in his brain. Which he didn't even mind. It was a good day. In his palm he was lazily bouncing a single sickle. It went up and down, snatched, thrown, snatched, thrown. His eyes were on the glint it made as it spun about and caught the daylight. He wasn't even aware of the fact that he was catching up on the pair of girls until he was within conversing distance. At which point he hailed them with an entirely uncharacteristic friendliness. At least as far as Eibhlin's experience with him was likely to have gone. "Malfoy! Shine! What are you pretty girls planning to do in Hogsmead?"

"He's not that bad," Eibhlin replies, clearly still suck on the boy even if she did just end it. She doesn't however comment on the potential of getting back together. As for searching the records, "I suppose it wouldn't hurt to try," she agrees, "would a name be enough though?" she wonders only to be interrupted by an all too cheerful greeting from Alphard. The redhead turns to look over her shoulder, "'Lo Black," she returns flattly.

Because she is Medusa and she knows all, or near enough the Malfoy has an idea why Alphard is so chipper, mind you given that she promised to lend an umbrella and help organise any said picnics between the Black boy and a certain Ravenclaw she's keeping mum about it all. For now. "Hello Alphard." Her gaze flits to Eibhlin and then back to the boy, "I'm looking for a bit of sharkskin for a sheath for a wand. I was told that would be the best waterproof material."

"Aw, come on, Shine. Turn that frown upside down!" Whether or not she had actually been frowning, that tone certainly had one in it! Without a flicker of hesitation the sixth year slid inbetween the two girls, each of them suddnely to find that their shoulders were under assault by a companionable arm. Like they were best buddies forever. And always had been. "Wonderful! Need any help with that? Oh, and don't let me interrupt whatever it was you were talking about. Keep going!"

Eibhlin doesn't step out from beneath the arm that's suddenly draped across her shoulders, but she does tense beneath it. "You're certainly… cheerful," she remarks to Alphard, offering neither frown nor smile in his direction. "I'm sure you wouldn't want the mood ruined by drabble about breakups, but Medusa was saying how the ministry has records on all the wizards and witches born in the isles."

Not the least bit bothered by an affectionat Alphard, Medusa gives him a friendly side on hug. "Help would be appreciated." When he enquires about their topic of conversation Medusa readily goes along with what the Ravenclaw says. "Eibhlin is thinking about researching her wizarding side and I was trying to think of places to begin."

"Oh you know, Shine, it's a lovely day. Hogsmead weekend. So forth, so forth. No reason I wouldn't be cheerful, is there?" Without a ton of contempt, superiority and general nastiness in it, Alphard's smile could even be rather likable. Which was probably something a significant percentage of the Hogwarts student body forgot. Or plain had never seen. "Breakup blues? I'm sorry to hear that." As they kept walking, he kept the three of them in that friendly chain of arms. "Good place to start, the Ministry. Then cross reference with the Pure-Blood Directory. Good on you, Shine, learning about your wizard side."

"You're right," Eibhlin agrees with Alphard. "It is a lovely day," which seems to set as a good enough reason even if she's never seen him in such a mood. A soft smile lifts the corners of her lips just slightly. "Thanks for the suggestions Black," she replies, the words while sincere aren't exactly ones she'd thought she'd be saying to him anytime soon.

"I'm not sure where to begin searching, maybe Gladrags?" Medusa veers the conversation back to her unusual shopping expedition. "Have you two begun your Christmas shopping yet?" She looks at Alphard and gives him a sly grin, "What will you be getting Andromena?"

"No problem. I've even got a copy you can borrow," Alphard offered with careless generosity. With a thougthful sound he glanced towards Medusa. "Sounds like the best option. If they don't have it in stock I'm sure you can order some in, anyway." It took him a few seconds to answer the last question of hers, though. "Hrm. I don't know. A book of some sort? A necklace? Something simple but elegant. What do you think?"

Medusa licks her lips and hmmms. "I would say that it depends on how well your picnic went. If it went well," which she suspects given his chipper mood, "then a necklace would be good. It would speak of intentions for future picnics." Subtely she tries to tease a bit more information out of her sometimes close mouthed friend.

Alphard gave Medusa a sideways look that was half suspicious, though no clouds were allowed to linger today. So he shrugged and grinned instead. "It went pretty well, should have to say. Necklace. Well, I'll not be getting the real quality in Hogsmead, so I suppose I'll be waiting until the break for a last minute dash through Diagon. Is the sheath for yourself or for a friend?"

Eibhlin gives a shake of her head for the question of Christmas shopping. "I might have to take you up on that," she adds for the boy's offer of borrowing his copy. "Well.. what does she like?" she asks, trying to get a better feel for the girl. Despite being in the same house and class she doesn't know her as well as she might. She gives a bit of a shrug as they seem to settle on the idea that a necklace is just right.

As if she hadn't already guessed their picnic went well a very pleased looking Medusa nudges Alphard with her hip. "I am glad." From inside her pocket she withdraws her ever present bag of mint humbugs and offers them each one, also taking one herself. "The sheath is for Douglas. It's what he asked for for Christmas. I'm not sure what else to get him with it. I jokingly said his dating me should be gift enough because I am clueless as to what to really give him."

"She does like being neat and elegant. And she likes to spend an aweful amount of time with her nose buried in books," which, come to think of it, was something she had in common with another Ravenclaw. Alphard slid a shrewd look towards Eibhlin. "Read anything really interesting lately? I mean, there's no law that says I can't give her both. A book, and a necklace inside when she opens it up." The more he thought of it, the more he liked it. "It'll be glee and gratitude piled upon glee and gratitude." Yes. That was just the way he liked it. Absent mindedly he accepted one of the mints, plopping it into his mouth. "Why does it need to be waterproof? Though.. you know. You're right." That dating Medusa should be gift enough for Douglas.

"It should be," Eibhlin notes to Medusa with a grin. He eyes slip to Alphard then as that look turns towards her. "What?" she asks, "Yes, well sort of, but that's not the point. All books are different. Just because I liked it doesn't mean she will. Is there anything you know she likes to read about?"

"That is a clever idea Alphard. A necklace within a book. Doesn't she like those bodice rippers Ria likes? I heard about something happening at breakfast on Thursday, after I left." Medusa grins when both of them agree that Douglas should just be content with her. "Oh he wants a waterproof sheath for when he is out walking the bens. It is awfully rainy further north." As they near the village she pauses and asks, "Would either of you like to come to a little business meeting with me?"

"An interesting book is an interesting book, isn't it?" Alphard said airily. Truth was that the Slytherin boy rarely ever read anything that wasn't directly coursework related. He could devour whole tomes on Defense Against the Dark Arts, or on Charms or even on dry Arithmancy theories.. but actually pick up a book just to pick up a book? It never happened. "No." Very definitively no. He was not given Andromena one of those romance novels. "They're completely undignified! A collection of wizard legends or something. That's more appropriate." He shrugged. "Sure. I'm quite good at business, you know." Because he was good at everything, right? Though in this case, there was a grain of truth in it.

Eibhlin laughs, "Not at all," she replies, "An interesting book is only interesting if its a topic you're interested. Like I can't imagine you'd find a book about muggles anything but droll, but Macmillan would find one about owls fascinating." Personal tastes play a large part in such things. A shake of her head follows Medusa's question however, "No I don't mind at all."

"I like books on owls," says Medusa a little quietly. It is a recent interest, to be fair, but a genuine one. "I will see if I can figure out what books Andromena likes that aren't about lusty wizards whisking maiden witches away for endless rides on their broomsticks." Her lips twitch a little at the innuendo and Medusa starts walking again. "I have an antiques dealer coming to meet me and see the coin Cyril gave me, Evie." From within her pocket Medusa produces a small box which she opens when pausing again and shows Alphard the gold coin inside. The coin bears the mark of Anubis and looks to be very old and valuable.

"Old things. I'd forgoten about that," Alphard announced with a sudden inspiration. "Meanie likes old things. She'd probably know all about that thing." His head bobbed in the direction of Medusa's old coin. "You're not going to sell it, are you?" The boy seemed vaguely disturbed by the notion. Beautiful things were meant to be bought or kept, not sold.

Eibhlin ahs nodding at the explanation. "I'd love to see what they have to say on it," she notes of the coin. "And if I happen to hear anything about what she might like," she adds more towards the boy, "I'll let you know." The common room and dorms after all can be a wealth of knowledge in that area.

"Yes I'm selling it. It was a test from my brother." Medusa closes the box and puts it away again. "I had to research it, appraise its value, find a buyer and organise a meeting. All to prove to him that investing in my future is a good idea." She beams, "I do hope that the buyer is a pervy old man. I dressed nice just for the occassion." Medusa Malfoy is willing to use every skill or asset she has to negotiate a good deal it seems.

"Thanks," to Eibhlin. "Oh. Make sure you get more than one opinion, then." When it was clear she wasn't just selling off a gift, which just didn't seem at all right to snobbish Mr Black, he could get onboard. When the 'plan' as it were came out, he didn't even bother to shake his head. "That's.." at loss for words. "I guess we hope it's not some married old hag instead, then."

Eibhlin's reaction to said plan is eerily similar to the boy's, a shake of her head. "We'll you do what you have to, hmm?" she replies, an uncertain edge to the words. A smile however is returned to Alphard, "Welcome."

With a laugh Medusa steps in front of them and holds open her coat to reveal normal clothing, in fact it is the same outfit she wore to meet her brother two weeks ago, "I was kidding." She shakes her head and lets her fur coat fall. "Come on. I want to get to the Broomsticks before the buyer does. Home pitch advantage and all that."

Alphared rolled his eyes at her as Medusa slid away from under his arm to prove that she wasn't a complete.. Well. A word best not said. If he also happened to eye her up in the reveal, then it was only because that she was fairly attractive, and he was still a teenage boy. Even if he had aspirations elsewhere. With a grunt he let Eibhlin go, too, even if the November air was much cooler without a girl on either side to leach warmth from. "Alright, alright. I could use some mulled wine, anyway. Get some heat in." And some alcohol.

When they arrive at the pub Medusa is quick to scour the room for an out of place face, finding none and finding few students given the closeness to the lunch hour - why pay for lunch in Hogsmeade when it is free in the castle - it means there is a nice secluded booth available. Leading the way to it she glances at Alphard, "Would you get us some mulled wine too please?"

Eibhlin may have been about to mention something about drinks, but when Medusa makes the request of Alphard she instead keeps her mouth shut. Following through those in the pub to the table the older girl has picked out she slips into a seat. "Thanks Medusa," she says in regards to a much earlier conversation, regardless of the plans for in town, she needed to get out.

And who happens to be sitting in the booth next to them, just one thin divider away? Why, Augustin. He'd had his head down on the table, and his hood pulled up, so all any of them could have seen of him would'be been a black-cloaked lump with several empty butterbeer tankards littering his table, and an untouched meal growing cold. It's the sound of Eibhlin's voice that sends him twitching, however. But just once - and then he stays still, just listening.

At Medusa's request, a full round was ordered of mulled wine. There was no hesitation when it came to the Black boy paying for it, too. With a half-muffled yawn Alphard pealed his outer robes off. For Hogsmead he had picked ones that bore the sigil of House Black rather than Slytherin, and they were stylishly in the fashion of the continent's fall lines. Beneath it the rest of his attire was similarly upperclass and posh.

Douglas is still yawning as he enters the pub, hair messier than usual, and generally not looking particularly healthy. He may have been dragged through a hedge backwards, then beaten up by a badger who shat in his mouth. Or possibly that's just how he's feeling. He spots Gus, being close to the door and recognising that cloak and the shape beneath it, and heads in that direction. While he doesn't take a seat, he does take Gus's fork and gather himself a mouthful of food. Grease. It's what a body needs. "Gus," he greets, mouth full.

Medusa shrugs off her furcoat and slides into the booth, staying near the edge since she is the one waiting for a vistor to arrive. This morning she appears none the worse for the wear despite how much she may have imbibed the night before, pep-me-up potions are a wonder. "You're welcome, Evie." When Alphard returns with the drinks she gives him a thankful smile. "Thank you both for coming to help." Her brows arch up when she sees Douglas come in looking rather rough but other than wriggling her fingers at him in greeting she doesn't say anything. It isn't like they have to live in one another's pockets.

Eibhlin slips out of her coat why waiting for Alphard to join them at the table, letting slump into the space behind her in the booth. While her dress isn't inspired by the upperclass of wizarding society as her companions it is nice and presentable if in a simpler way. Douglas' arrival is noted with a smile in his direction by Medusa's subtle wave, yet she remains blissfully unaware of who's table he's joined. A similar smile greet's Black's return with drinks.

Gus sighs and looks up. The butterbeer might not be all that alcoholic, but after half a dozen, he's feeling it. "Way to blow a man's cover," he complains to Doug, and tugs the boy's sleeve while waving to the seat opposite him. "Oh, hello, Medusa," he greets. He glances toward her midsection. Alphard gets a look, too, but no actual greeting. Then his eyes settle on Eibhlin. "And the inconsistent Miss Shine. You look lovely, as ever." He raises a hand and salutes her. Then he looks back at Alphard, and the mulled wine that's arriving, and he scowls. "So it's alright for him to buy you something? That git?" He shoves himself up and wavers a bit on his feet. "I see," he says. "Well. If that's the kind of bloke you fancy, I'm glad you gave me the cut so directly. Douglas. Tell the room to stop moving, eh?"

Douglas plops himself down, pulling the rest of Augustin's meal over to him, since Gus doesn't seem to be eating it, and hasn't objected yet. "Gus? Sit down and shut up before you make an even bigger dick of yourself," he advises softly, then leans to view the occupants of the other booth, and taps his forehead in salute, forcing a smile. It doesn't help. He still just looks horribly, horribly hungover.

Evidently Medusa had missed the identity of whomever Doulgas was stealing food from so it is with surprise that she sees Augustin stand up from the other booth and be well…rude. "Gus, you are making an arse of yourself. What did you do? Give yourself a butterbeer sugar high?" The derision in her voice is clear. "I drank a third of a bottle of firewhiskey last night and even I didn't look as stupid as you do now." Which isn't entirely true, she did fall over on the way back to the castle but unless her compatriots rat her out, and only one of them is here now, she took her drink with dignity and grace. Medusa rolls her eyes and sips her mulled wine, giving Eibhlin and Alphard a glance before looking at the Hufflepuff. "I'm sorry about that. Some people just aren't able to behave maturely."

If she could close her eyes and disappear she would. Eibhlin turns an apologetic smile to those at the table with her, embarrassment evident in the rising crimson in her cheeks. "Gus its not…" she starts, but is it even worth trying to explain. "Just sit down?" Please. "I'm sorry," the apology is for Medusa, "Maybe I should be going." Minimize the situation.

Though Alphard's eyes had glinted darkly when Augustin refered to him as 'that git', he had kept his opinion to himself. Instead he'd merely leaned back in his seat, wine in hand, and saluted the Hufflepuff in mock-encouragement. As if to say: 'Go on, now, keep embarassing yourself!' Once he'd had a sip or two from the wine, his whole body relaxed. Just what the healer had prescribed. It was the sort where the alcohol hadn't been boiled away, too. "Nonsense, Shine. It's pretty obvious who should leave, if anyone should, and it's hardly you. So.. Medusa, do you know what your man is supposed to look like?"

Gus doesn't have much choice but to sit down, really. His knees decide they're tired, so he half-falls back onto the seat and reaches for his plate. "Oi, I was going to eat that," he protests. "Everybody's sorry," he mumbles. "Well, I'm sorry, too. Sorry I even tried. Sorry I'm so… terrible that girls don't want to be around me. Sorry that they say they like me one minute and run away the next with — with no explanation for what I must've done wrong. Not telling what mistake I made. Sorry, sorry, sorry. Am I supposed to believe they're running off because I'm the nicest bloke ever? Pfffft. Sorry I'm a delusional fool. Awfully, /terribly/ sorry." He looks sorry, too. His little self-pity party has dragged his face into pathetic, melancholy lines. "I need another," he tells a waiter passing by. "No. Wine. Good stuff, too. The red, 1926."

Deciding to ignore Gus and leave the hungover Douglas to deal with him, Medusa looks at the people at her table instead. "I don't, but he is going to be carrying an orange umbrella and wearing a suit. That's pretty atypical clientelle for the Broomsticks." She sips her mulled wine and tries not to let her nervousness show through. "However, if prat-face there ruins my sale I am going to shove his wand where he really doesn't want it to go," she says quietly to Alphard and Eibhlin.

"It was getting cold," Douglas notes, taking another mouthful before sliding the meal back in front of Gus. "And I'm starving. You wouldn't let a mate down now, would you? Sharing's caring and all that." He exhales, rubbing a hand through his hair. "Come on, mate. I'm never letting you drink again if you're going to be a moany drunk. Trust me, no girl fancies a moany drunk. Chin up. C'mon, we'll go out later and grab a gronk. It'll be a laugh."

Eibhlin's fingers curl about the glass in front of her as both Malfoy and Black seem to agree that she should stay, lifting it to take a good drink as opposed to the tiny sips Medusa may be familiar with from previous visits. Gus' words, while somewhat foolish, sting all the same but she bites her tongue in that regard. "Well," she comments, "That should make him easy to spot," stating the obvious.

Alphard smirked as 'gus continued down his little spiral into pathetic self-pity. Still, it didn't hold his attentions for very long, with his gaze returning to Medusa and Eibhlin. In a sly-bemused murmur he said: "Drink up, Shine. In a round or two you'll feel better." Looking at Medusa he asked, "So how did you find this fellow?"

"And more food," Gus adds just before the waiter nods and leaves to fill the order. "We can share," he tells Douglas, pushing the plate of cold food back toward the other boy. "I won ten sickles in a bet with some friends. I was going to spend it on someone /else/, but I suppose looking at your ugly mug across a table is better than no mug at all." He stares at Douglas and kind of frowns. "What kind of drunk should I be, then? Should I be beligerent? You wanna fight? Fisticuffs! Sounds like a bally marvelous idea, doesn't it?" But he shakes his head. "Or should I be happy?" He forces a grin onto his face, terribly fake and horrible. "Oh, la! Everything is perfectly fine, innit? Gus isn't /allowed/ to feel down, is he?"

"I was going to suggest a stupid drunk, but you're managing that fine," Douglas points out, rubbing his hair again. "Come on, mate. Girls, eh? Fuck 'em. Single men have all the fun anyway. What the fuck's so good about 1926 wine anyway? It's all just squashed grapes, isn't it?"

"I spent a week discovering what it was exactly," Medusa says, speaking of the coin in the box. "Then once I knew that I started writing letters and sending floo messages until I had names of dealers. Three of them wrote back. Mr Clarke is the one who offered to pay me the most." She glances at Eihblin, giving her a kind smile then takes another sip of her wine.

Eibhlin remains relatively silent, nodding to Medusa's answer. She does continue to sip her wine, not as much at a time as the first drink, but less time between each the her usual.

"So are you two wanting some lunch as well?" Alphard asked absently when his stomach started to remind him that it was that time a day. A growing boy that he was, it was being obnoxiously loud about proclaiming how neglected it was feeling. He waved over one of the wenches. Because wenches were the best. "I'll have today's lunch, thank you very much." And a glance towards the other two at his table said they were free to order something as well. "Very well. So your brother gives you this coin to sell, to prove you're worth investing in. The question that's dying to be asked is: What do you need the investment for?"

Gus gives Douglas a disgusted look. "No," he says. "Wine is much more than that. There's other stuff. Spices. The kind of wood the barrel's made of. How it's all processed. How long it's been fermenting. Temperature." He shakes his head. "Just taste this stuff. Then you'll understand. You…" something Alphard says catches his ear and he half-turns his head to listen more closely. Then he leans toward Douglas and whispers something so quietly that only Douglas will hear.

"Wine's just all the same to me, pal," Douglas explains apologetically. "Well, it's red or it's white. That much I can tell. Other than that it all tastes the same if you ask me." He holds up his hand at the offer of wine, shaking his head. "Urgh, no, no wine for me today, thanks. I don't even know what we were drinking last night, but… urgh."

"We'll have the same," Medusa tells the bar wench. If Alphard wants to spread his largesse around she won't deny him that right and order for Eibhlin. "Food might help me not be so nervous." She takes a breath and slowly exhales only to give Alphard a blank look. "Oh! I haven't told you. Part of what Douglas and I came together over was a business plan. Cyril has offered to help give us a loan for starting it up. This was part of that. We're going to open an excursion business for adventure seeking wizards who don't know much about survival. White collar workers, that sort of thing."

"No thank you," Eibhlin replies to the offer of lunch with a shake of her head. When Medusa speaks up to order for both of them she doesn't protest either. "It seems like a solid business in theory," she points out as Medusa explains to Alphard.

The Slytherin boy's gaze cut across the taproom to where Douglas was sitting with Gus. "Going into business with Macmillan? Here I thought he was only going to ride his name into the Ministry. Didn't he have a 'sure' thing waiting for him?" He gave his mop of dark hair a casual toss and rake through with his fingers, then returned his gaze to Medusa. Still with his wine cupped in his hands, he put his elbows onto the table and leaned towards her. There was genuine curiosity in his eyes. "I can guess why that'd fit Macmillan. He might even be decent at it.. you know, as opposed to being a bloody liability in the Ministry." The latter added with a crooked grin, more humor and less venom than he was capable of. "Good on him. What makes it fit for you, though?"

Gus sits up a bit more at Douglas's non-reply to the whisper. "Suit yourself, mate," he mumbles. Then he tips his head back and rests it against the bench-back. "I hope for all your sakes your business goes well." He closes his eyes.

"Look, wine's not my thing," Douglas explains himself, wrinkling his nose. "If I just wanted steady work, I've got the offer at the Department of Booze or whatever it's called. But we'll make a go of it, and it's going to go well, mate. Right timing for it, too. I mean, the way things are looking, with riots and all? I can see a lot of people all of a sudden wanting to learn how to live without the Ministry watching their every move."

"It's also about giving people what they want. Recruiting the right clientelle. Using connections." Medusa sips her mulled wine. "In short the kind of thing I am good at. Besides, I'd hate working for someone else. Can you imagine me doing that?" She wrinkles her nose at the idea.

Eibhlin laughs just a bit, "No," she agrees with the other girl, "I don't see you being able to work for anyone well. But this, like I said, I can see it working out well."

The door to the Broomsticks opens and rather short man in a suit carrying an orange child-sized umbrella enters. He looks around for someone with the tell-tale platinum Malfoy hair and holds up a clipping from Witch Weekly. Having decided the girl in the clipping looks enough like Medusa he heads her way. When the man reaches the table his head barely is higher than the top of it. "Miss Malfoy." His sharpy beady eyes take in Alphard and Eihblin too, "Miss Malfoy's associates."

"Honestly I saw you cleaving a path through the Ministry until everybody there danced at your tune." Politician like her older brother. But with today's mood being what it was, Alphard accepted her plan without any cutting criticism. Just shrugged, threw Douglas a shake of his head, then returned to his wine. When the unfamiliar face appeared at their booth addressing Medusa, he looked up. A calmly considering stare was leveled at the man, before he tipped his head in his most dignified manner. He'd leave it to Medusa to introduce or not. It was her meeting.

"Aright," Gus says. The food and wine arrive and he tucks into the hot dish. He has nothing really to say to or about the new arrival at the other table. He and Douglas are sitting the booth next to Medusa's.

Medusa wrinkles her nose, "I don't much like politics." When the antiquites dealer turns up Medusa smiles, "Mr Clarke. This is Mr Alphard Black," he gets a nice nod, "and Miss Eibhlin Shine. Please join us." Her head turns and she looks around for a chair easier for the height challenged man to use, spotting one she calls over, "Douglas! Could you please bring that chair to your left over for Mr Clarke? He's come to see my coin."

Douglas looks up, then gives Gus a thump on the shoulder. "Won't be a moment, mate. Business to deal with. Don't grab a gronk without me, okay?" With that, he rises, grabbing a chair and taking it, arm over his shoulder, to the next table to set it down. "Mr. Clarke. Have a seat, pal."

Clarke nods politely to Alphard, his eyes widening slightly when he recognises the surname, and then offers a similar nod to Eibhlin. When the chair is delivered he looks at Douglas with his hedge-backwards hair then sits down. "I am most interested in seeing this coin of Anubis, Miss Malfoy." The umbrella is hooked over the back of the chair before he pulls a small roll of cloth from inside his suit jacket. The cloth is unrolled to reveal the usual acoutrements used by jewelers and coin dealers as well as a pair of linen gloves which he pulls on.

Eibhlin returns a quiet nod to the man as Medusa introduces her. For the moment she remains quiet for the time being however, bleu eyes carefully watching the review of the coin.

There wasn't much for Alphard to say. If he noted Mr Clake's recognition of his name, then he didn't show it. The boy had put on his most business like mien: Confident, calm, in control of himself and his surroundings. Idly his fingertips brushed down against the sleeve of his blazer, making the engraved buttons flash the Black house crest in the dim light of the taproom's interior.

Gus shrugs. His mouth is full. Nomnomnom. Coin? Whatever. So not interested.

Douglas invites himself to the spot beside Medusa, querying of the midget, "So what is this Noobis thing anyway? I mean, all I know is it's foreign. Malfoy knows more, but I wasn't really listening."

Medusa scoots further into the booth giving Douglas a bit more space. She opens the box holding the golden coin and slides it over to Clarke. Douglas' comment earns him a look that is a mixture between amusement and annoyance, but she has to try and look professional. This is about money, not pointing out how her boyfriend doesn't listen to her. "As I said in my letter it was given to me by my brother Cyril. I can provide you the provenance of the coin."

Was it just her, or was this weekend lasting longer than usual? It made Andromena feel guilty, like she should be in class doing work but was instead flitting about Hogsmeade and just generally being useless. After visiting several shops Rowle eventually manages to make her way into the Three Broomsticks. Her entry is much like any other patron - she walked through the door. It's only afterwards, when she's contemplating where to sit, that she spies people she knows. Such joy. Well, maybe.

Alphard did a very quick blink-and-you-miss-it eyeroll at Douglas. His mulled wine was getting a bit low, too, even if they hadn't been here that long. There was just something about having a nice warm beverage to drink when the air was chilly. He took another sip. When he spied Andromena arriving he found it extremely hard to keep his smile small rather than broad. A little jerk of his head suggested she go occupy the booth next to where they were sitting. The one with grumpy Gus.

Clarke reaches out and takes the coin from the box then looks over it using a loupe. "Anubis was the Egyptian god of the dead, young man. He had the head of a jackal but the body of a man, sort of like a centaur in reverse. This coin is older than you think Miss Malfoy. I expected it to be from the reign of Julian II, but I think it predates that period." His head lifts and he looks at the four teenagers, one beady eye covered by the jeweler's loupe before his gaze hones in on Medusa. "I do not need to have the provenance. I already have a buyer who cares not where it came from now that I can confirm it is a genuine article."

"It's not stolen," Douglas insists earnest, brows raising. "I mean, she does actually know where it came from. So don't go trying to shift it on quickly because you think it's hot. It's genuine, and not off the back of a lorry or anything." Douglas. What a helpful man to have in negotiations. Making a simple deal look dodgy.

"Older than that?" Eibhlin inquires quietly, curiosity piqued just a bit more by that statement. She shoots Douglas a pointed glance at his commentary, her own glass of wine nearly empty.

Arthur steps inside quietly and makes his way through the room looking for a free table. The tall blonde is out of uniform in a white botton down shirt and black slacks and shoes. He looks neat and tidy and there is rather heavy book under his arm. He spots a free table but head for the bar first to get himself a mug of hot chocolate. Once he has that he heads for the table only to discover it was now taken up by a couple who seem quite intent on ignoring everyone else here. Arthur sighs softly and turns spotting another booth with onely one boy in it. He approches and pale blue eyes lock onto the boy with a calm expression. "May I join you?" His tone is equally calm but still friendly and he looks to the seat across from Augustin in question.

Gus is sitting at a table alone with a few empty tankards of butterbeer, a full glass of wine, and two plates of food - one of which is across the table from him. He is trying to demolish the food in front of himself. He looks up at Arthur and nods because his mouth is full.

Andromena did her best not to give an obviously: I'm happy to see you wave! and opted instead for an upwards nod of her chin so that Alphard would know she not only saw him, but got what he was telling her to do. Her eyes landed on Gus, and she makes her way towards him, only to be joined by Arthur. The Ravenclaw smiles as she clasps her hands behind her back before saying, "What he said." But sort of seated herself even before any real answer was given. He had nodded to Arthur. That was good enough for her!

Again Alphard looked at Douglas as the older boy spoke. Offhandedly he commented: "It must be quite in demand if you've already a buyer on the wings. One that doesn't even care where it's from as long as it's delivered." This to Mr Clarke, though his gaze slid in Medusa's direction when he said it.

Medusa pinches Douglas' leg under the table because is so not being helpful. "I did suggest it was older, Mr Clarke, if you will recall. Based upon the information Cyril gave me I would say it predates 360 AD by at least three centuries." She didn't spend a week in the darn library for nothing, sure she had pawns helping her but she had to direct their research and read everything they found then coallate it all into something which made sense. Management is hard. From inside her pocket she withdraws a slip of paper which she slides ovr to the vertically challenged man. "This is my opening offer since you have now seen the coin." A side glance and a sly grin go Alphard's way. "As my friend, Black, has said, there must be quite a demand for you to not care about the origin."

Gus swallows his food and nods at Andromena as shee, too, sits. "Hullo," he says to the both of them. He looks a little… drunk. And sad. He picks up the wine and closes his eyes, sniffs it, savors that, swirls it around… all those things that wine-loves do, before he sips it carefully. "Not bad," he mutters to himself. "What are you two up to?" he asks.

Douglas ows, glaring at Medusa, then leans over to have a nosy at the piece of paper as it's slid over.

Arthur takes a seat and sits his book down on the table in front of him. Muggle History? An odd choice for a pure-blood to read but Arthur doesn't open it just yet taking a sip of his chocolate and riasing an eyebrow at the drunk Hufflepuff. "I am quite fine thank you…Are you drinking for leisure or is there a problem of some sort? If it is the latter I'm afraid the alcohol will be of much less use." Those blue eyes hold concern and a hint of wariness as he studies Gus and then he looks to Andromena and smiles softly at her.

With a scowl for Medusa, Clarke takes the paper and turns it over. As close as he is Douglas likely can see the numbers written on it. The man nods and setting the coin aside withdraws a quill to write his counter offer and slide it back to Medusa.

Eibhlin leans in a little more to catch a glimpse of the paper as its slid over to the man, and his counter as well if she's able.

Andromena watched Gus as he mopily went about tasting his wine. She knows neither of the two boys very well, though she recognizes them both - she even knows their names! With that as a preface, it's no wonder Andromena does not go out out of her way to ask Gus what the problem might be. Then again, Arthur is either more nosey or more generous than she, because he asks the obvious question. Leaning forward, elbows on the table, Andromena cannot help but nod her agreement. "I once saw someone give in to drink when very upset…it did not end well." But her tone was light, hardly chiding. More…observant.

Because he was special, Alphard resisted the urge to lean forward and snoop on the back and forth numbers game between Medusa and Clarke. Besides, she already had the support of the other two, and damn if his food wasn't arriving as well. Finally. The Day's Lunch, which happened to be a rather delicious stew with some fresh baked bread neatly sliced up and buttered on the side. He breathed in the scent of it with ravenous hunger. From there on his attentions were going to be on his food.

Medusa takes the paper back and looks it over. She arches a brow at the man's counter offer. For all her planning there is a flaw, she has no pen. "Alphard, do you have a quill by any chance?" She knows he often carries a book for doodling in. As their lunches arrive she pulls back so the wench can set food down in front of her.

Douglas immediately steals a piece of bread from Medusa's plate, raising an eyebrow at the counteroffer, then gives Medusa a slight frown and a subtle shake of his head.

"Oh," Gus says, carefully putting his wine glass down. "Apparently, I'm toxic to girls. See… I see one I like. I ask her on a date. I make it nice, romantic, you know… think I'm doing everything right. She comes. /Tells/ me it's nice. /Says/ she likes me. Then in the next breath says we can't possibly work out. And here's the kicker," he says, stabbing his food with his fork. She doesn't tell me /why/. Just, poof. Sorry, Gus, you're not good enough for me." He's not being very loud about it. If the others at the next table want to hear him, they'd have to kind of try.

Of course Alphard had something to write with him, how else could he fill his journal with all those wonderfully important things that happened to occurr to him? The world would be a poorer place if he ever didn't have a notebook at the ready, and some of those brilliant ideas disappeared into the great mist. Casually he leaned down to his robes, fishing out his leather bound notebook. Attached to it were his writing impliments. He shoved the latter towards Medusa. The notebook he kept jealously guarded, of course.

Eibhlin thankfully can't hear what'd going on at the next table over. She settles back when the food arrives, but doesn't reach for it herself just yet, rather keeping her attention on the transaction taking place.

Medusa didn't want to see Alphard's diary entries in anycase, or his drawings of boobies. "Thank you," she says to him and leaning over the table she writes her counter offer to the counter offer and hands it to Douglas to give to Clarke. "Lunch looks lovely."

After wandering around Hogsmeade, Artemis steps into the warm pub. A breathy, "Whoo," escapes her as she pulls off her gloves and begins unwrapping her scarf. Her smile is bright as she looks around with a bright gaze. "Oh!" she announces. "It's quite full today." Her hands grip onto the strap of her bag, adjusting it lightly before she chooses a table, locking her gaze where the Slytherins are. "Mister Black, Miss Malfoy. Hi!" Her greeting is full of warmth.

The Slytherin table is quite full. There is a midget in a suit doing some kind of business deal with Medusa, a food snagging Douglas, a quiet wine sipping Eibhlin and the proud, arrogant and stylish Alphard. Clarke, the little man in the suit, takes the slip of paper and looks around him. He spies Artemis with her fresh faced winter cheer and looks back at Medusa. Getting the sense that this could go on for a while he writes one more price down and gives her the paper back directly. "Final offer, Miss Malfoy. The best I can do."

Arthur frowns and takes another sip of his hot chocolate considering Gus with a calm stare. His voice is calm and his tone quiet as he replies in a kind yet logical manner. "Well perhaps she has something else going on in her life that is keeping her from dating you…maybe she has some kind of problem and doesn't want to drag you down…There could be any number of factors that effected her choice and not all of them might be becuase of you. I won't tell you how to feel or what to do becuase rejection hurts but I will offer some advice…don't let it drag you down. Dust yourself off and try again when you are ready whether you want to convicne her that you are right for her or go after someone else. Yes rejection hurts but you can learn something from this if you choose to. Our struggle are in the end what makes us srtonger after all."

Thanks a lot, Alphard. You got her into this. But since Andromena was there and she was not, in fact, utterly cold-hearted, she would hear Augustin out. At one time she had done the same for Myrus, even offered Lowe a bit of sagacious advice. Perhaps she could do the same for the Hufflepuff before her. Maybe. "Perhaps this girl pulled away because she feared being with you might only cause pain in the end?" A helpless shrug. It was better than telling him maybe the girl liked somebody else and just plain dumped him. Oh yeah, totally what Arthur said.

Artemis' cheerful face drew his eyes, and after a brief pause to swallow down some of that flavorful stew, Alphard gave the girl a more or less friendly upnod. "Meliflua." After a moment's hesitation he also made a vague little head-nod towards Gus' table right next to them. To say she might as well settle down there while Medusa did her business at this table. "If you're going to give ultimatums, I hope you pushed your number up considerably," he commented to Mr Clarke, then looked towards Medsua to see her reaction to whatever the 'final' offer was.

Gus sighs. "Sure," he says, not believing it for an instant. "Enough about soggy, sorry me. How are you two?"

When Medusa lifts the paper from the table she looks at it and nudges Douglas so he looks too, clearly wanting his opinion.

Andromena was content to leave things at that. When she was feeling depressed and dejected talking about it with strangers was pretty much not her prerogative. There was, however, a very brief moment where the notion of ordering some cake crossed her mind. Still, her expression was one of sympathy. Nobody liked to be dumped. At least he hadn't been left without even so much as a goodbye! "Doing alright," she answers. "Just…you know. Hanging out. How is the wine, anyway?"

Eibhlin turns a glance towards Artemis as she greets some of the others at the table, offering a bit of a smile in greeting of her own. The last of her wine is finished as she returns to watching.

Using Alphard's quill Medusa writes her response to the counter offer and hands it to Clarke. She takes a breath then and reaches for her wine. The other three are given a nervous smile and Eibhlin is encouraged to eat. A glance goes to Artemis. "Oh, hello Meliflua. Almost missed you there."

Artemis smiles as she watches Medusa and Clarke. "Hmm, oh, sorry," he says in apology to interrupting. Her eyes turn to the other table, and she lifts a hand to wave. Glancing back to Alphard, she says quickly, "Thanks!" Then she turns to greet the others. "Hi, Miss Shine, hi everyone. Hmm…" Her smile fades a little, looking over the faces. "It's lovely day, isn't it?"

Clarke takes the paper and looks at it. His nostrils flare but he nods and reaching into his umbrella of all things withdraws a pouch after opening it and counting out a few coins the pouch is slid over to Medusa. The pouch is strangely silent as it touches the table. Clarke pockets the remaining coins and puts the antique coin he purchased carefully into the box. With swift and deliberate movements he tidies up his things and offering a bowed nod to the four teenagers makes his way out.

"That seemed to go fairly well," Alphard murmured once Clarke had properly vacated the premises. "Even if he had a couple of extra coins lying around. Another round to celebrate?" His head turned back to Medusa after having followed Clarke's path out of the taproom. "Oh, and Meanie. Why don't you join us here?" Because theirs was obviously the cool table, and he couldn't leave her stuck with moping 'Gus. He wasn't that cruel.

"It's good," Gus says to Andromena. "Order more. My treat." He plunks down a few coins on the table and stands up. He weaves a bit on his legs, but it seems the food has done him some good. "I'm going to leave. I am… not good company at the moment." He sends an upset, confused look at Eibhlin, and then at Black, and back to her. "Apparently, I don't understand what /does/ make good company. Must be beyond me. Definitely at… the moment." He starts to stumble off.

Swallowing thickly Medusa takes the pouch of coins with a trembling hand and nods to Alphard, "Yes, a celebratory drink would be good." She carefully puts the pouch away and gives her fellow housemate back his quill.

"It did," Eibhlin echoes Alphard's sentiments on the transaction. When he invites Andromena over, Evie slides into the booth a little further to make more room. Looking in the direction of her housemate however also means looking towards Augustin, she meets his gaze for only a second however before turning back to look at the wine glass before her. A glass which is suddenly realized to be empty.

Well…Andromena was not about to turn down a free drink, even on the back of a man's grief! Coins were scooped up before she was scooting from her seat and easily sliding into the next. "Hey everybody," said in greeting once she gets comfortably settled; thank you Evie for making room! Andromena gave Augustin a final look as he exited the Three Broomsticks, lips turned downward in a faint frown. Placing an order for that proposed glass of wine, she reached out, a pale hand hovering before a piece of Alphard's bread. "May I?"

A good thing for Eibhlin that Alphard was ontop of it, then! He had already starting waving for a wench to which he could press another order of mulled wine for the table. It was that time of year, after all. If it also meant getting intoxicated at lunch, then that really was just an occupational hazard of being a student out for Hogsmead weekend. Feeling generous, he waved Artemis over as well, so she wasn't stuck all alone. Alphard the considerate. Alphard the kind! It was that sort of day."Sure," to Andromena, grinning. "Wouldn't want you to starve."

Medusa eats some of her lunch before Douglas can snarf it all. "Hello Andromena. I heard your picnic was nice." She smiles over at her and then looks at Eibhlin, "Are you alright? I think he his gone now, taking his dramatic Snifflepuff show elsewhere. Maybe he'll be lucky and one of those desperate fat girls that wait near the pikey caravan for love potions will snag him up on the way back to the castle."

"Harsh, Malfoy," Douglas chides, nudging her in the side. "He might be a bit wet, but he's still my mate."

Eibhlin nods. "I'll be fine," she assures, reaching for a piece of the bred from her own plate. "Just worried about him I guess," she'll admit to that at least. "If you want.." she offers the remainder of her plate to Douglas and Andromena if either of them want. "I'm not that hungry."

"I'm bloody starving," Douglas admits, nodding thanks and claiming the plate. "So. Black. Got good use out of that umbrella, then? There's this spot on the beach, y'know. Very private."

Before Artemis takes a seat, she's spinning around when someone calls her. A young head is peeking in at the opening, beckoning for her. She tilts her head, looking curious, before she turns her head to the table. "My partner's ready to work on a project. I'm sorry," she says. She turns to look over at Alphard and Medusa, lifts a hand to wave. "Bye Black," and because Medusa looks like she's finished up, "Malfoy." She smiles, and then turns to move off to the exit.

Andromena plucked a bit of bread from Alphard's plate. Such a generous man he was! Feeding the needy (herself), sheltering the weak (Artemis), who could ever say even one bad thing about good sir Black? Her eyes turned toward the plate Eibhlin offered up and she considered its contents. Douglas got to it first, however. What was it called again… oh yeah. Survival of the fittest! "It was a nice picnic," she informed Medusa with a nod, calm as you please. "I think I had too much food prepared. But…" A shrug. Nothing to talk about, really. Just a picnic. "Thanks again for letting me borrow your umbrella!"

"It was harsh but fair. I have more balls than he does by the sounds of him today." Medusa even likes Augustin, so imagine what she'd say if she didn't like him. She takes her fresh glass of mulled wine and sips it carefully, testing the temperature. Seeing as how Douglas has someone else's lunch to eat she claims her stew back so she can have some, then seeing Andromena's look she offers some of the stew to her, from across the table. "Bye Meliflua."

Alphard acknowledged Artems' departure with just a glance. She wasn't going to get anything more than that after she blew a chance to spend time with the likes of him, just for some project. Priorities needed to get straight with that girl, obviously. A languid stretch rippled down his lean frame as he sprawled out in the booth, getting utterly comfortable. "Mhmm.." he breathed in the scent of the wine once it arrived, then took a slow sip. Since Andromena had seen fit to answer about their little picnic, all he did was make a vague throaty sound in agreement. It had been a good day. Of 'Gus he said: "Overly dramatic, that's his problem.

Who could say one bad thing about Black? Eibhlin could, that doesn't however mean she will. She does sent a bit of a wave after Artemis before pulling a bit sized piece of bread from the slice in hand to nibble on and testing a sip from the newly arrived glass.

Having been out of town for the last several days, Rena Lee makes her way to the Three Broomsticks Pub for a little refreshment. For the young Auror, it's begun to feel like a natural part of home-coming. Slipping through the door quietly, the redheaded woman gives a little shiver against the outside air, gladly shutting the door behind her. For the moment, she doesn't remove her dark green woolen overcoat and just makes her way to the bar. Glancing around the room with a friendly expression, she notes - with a little hint of surprise - how many youngsters are here today. But then, she remembers that it's Hogsmeade weekend, of course. That explains it all.

Andromena dips the bread from Alphard's plate into Medusa's stew. One would think she was some hapless unfortunate when in reality she just wasn't hungry enough to order a whole meal. Ah, and there was wine to be had now, too. This she sipped at in a leisurely manner, perfectly content to listen to the others discuss Augustin's condition. She sort of agreed with Medusa when it came to 'Snifflepuffs.'

Those who know Medusa can tell my the look on her face that she is getting an idea, plotting even. She drums her fingertips against the table and sips her mulled wine. "Whats say we have a wager, Macmillan." In case Douglas isn't listening again Medusa nudges him - kicks - under the table. "I bet I can make Rousseau man up and get a girlfriend and you in return have too…help that whingy Myrus." Looking at the other three she asks, "Suggestions for the rules of the wager?"

Douglas tears into another piece of bread, dunking it in his… well, technically not his, but his now… stew. He rolls his eyes as he's kicked. Twice. "If you get Gus a girlfriend, I have to get Lowe one?" he queries, wrinkling his nose. "Tough call. That kid is creepy as fuck. Still somebody somewhere's got to fancy desperate, creepy blokes. Beatrice?"

As the luncheon rush begins to wind down the staff of the Broomsticks is still working hard; not so the proprietress, Fabia Fairfax. She's perched on a bar stool in one of her most casual, most I-live-in-Scotland-now ensembles: slate grey flannel trousers, which fit snugly about her most notable asset but loosen as they approach her shoes, and an ivory satin blouse, with the tails of its long bow hanging outside her red, ivory, and black Argyll sweater. She has a pot of tea and an almost empty cup before her and, of all things, an open novel. She's adoring it. She's halfway through. It's too, too naughty, and too, too funny. She peeks up, every so often, to see who's just come in, and now and again the current page blurs before her eyes as she focuses intently not upon the written words but upon words spoken nearby — but she's trying so hard to be a good girl and not interfere when everything seems to be in hand…

It's hard to say whether Fabia might recall Rena from that incident several weeks back when the piano arrived. But, Rena certainly recalls Fabia. As she approaches the bar, she runs her hands along her coat collar to straighten it, and then flashes a warm smile at the proprietor: "There's a smart turn-out, Ms. Fairfax," meaning her current outfit. "You're looking marvelous today." Of course, she's interrupting the lady's book by speaking, but it's a well intentioned interruption - and certainly no harm meant.

"Can't buy the girlfriends, or threaten or force them into doing the chore. Oh, and lastly the wager is only considered successfully settled when one of them gets properly snogged somewhere public. So there's no fakery. Myrus already tried that approach to dodge getting into trouble with Macmillan after he did his little play-date with you." The latter said to Medusa with a snort. When Douglas mentioned Beatrice, he gave the older boy a squint and a frown. "Go bugger yourself, Macmillan. She likes her boys well developed." Right? "Lowe is a scrawny little fifth year." Rather nonchalantly Alphard gave the spot next to him a little pat, while he looked at Andromena. There was room, surely, to sidle in next to him? "Whoever loses has to run across the Quidditch field in their knickers, during a game."

"Not happening, Black," Douglas immediately demurs, shaking his head firmly. "I streak a game and I'm out on my ear. I can't afford it. I've got to at least get to my NEWTs, even if I don't pass them." He eyes the mulled wine on the table for a moment, then pulls a face. "I don't know how the hell you can still be drinking, Malfoy. Your stomach must be made of iron." He pats her shoulder briefly as he rises, moving to the bar to order something less alcoholic. Less sweet. Less likely to have him lose his lunch. "Back in a moment."

Eibhlin blinks between Medusa, Douglas and Alphard. "You aren't seriously making this a bet?" half comment, half question though she's fairly certain they are. She just shakes her head a the suggestion for the looser from Black. "Is there a time requirement too?"

The front door opens, admiting Astoria, clothed in a long, black coat with numerous weather stains, into the pub. She unwraps a scarf from around her neck and shakes a bit of her hair free so that it is no longer tucked into the collar of her coat. She eyes the room with some raised eyebrows, perhaps having forgot that it is a Hogsmeade weekend, before approaching the bar.

Hogsmeade Weekends mean that people who need a break from the Castle are going to very well take it. Taking advntage of the opportunity, Julian had left, full-tilt, and after making a couple of stops… He had ended up at the Broomsticks. The throngs of students were the most obvious thing upon entering - every age from third year up. It makes sense, considering this was the more popular public house in the village. It was either this, or the Hog's Head… and really, who goes there? After a few younger students depart from the bar, he siddles up to it, and quietly places an order with the bartender for a simple butterbeer. Once he has it, he takes the time to actually pause, looking around…The table, packed, nearby. Those at the bar… the proprietory… and a slightly more familiar face. He's probably more recognizable out of his school robes, dressed in the button-down and trenchcoat he's accustomed to wearing. Add to that the blue and bronze-colored scarf and fedora. "Wotcher there, Lee?" he calls toward Rena, seeing if he can get her attention.

"I'm with Douglas on the knicker running." Medusa looks after the Scot as he leaves the table, "Pep-me-up potion!" She laughs then and turns towards Eibhlin. "We make bets, it's what we do. Well and lots of snogging." Pursing her lips she ponders everything else the others have said. "I agree to no form of violence of threats." Neither of which she opts for usually. Coercion is something different. "A snog, somewhere public. By the Christmas feast?"

There's nothing like a compliment to distract Fabia from — oh, almost anything that isn't a compliment. Resting one hand upon her book she looks up brightly in the direction it came from and finds Rena. And yes, either she recognises her, or she's doing a brilliant job of pretending. "Oh, sweetie! Thank you! That's a very nice green, I might add," she does add, nodding to the colour of Rena's coat. "But will you be taking it off and staying a while? It's so lovely to see you again. The piano's all yours if you'd like to play…" Then, coincidentally next to her at the bar as he's preparing to order something, she recognises another familiar face from recent weeks. "Oh, Douglas, sweetie," she exclaims. And then, as she gets a good look at him, and leans in nearer for a still better one: "Good God, what happened to you?" All ears, all vicarious interest.

Douglas glances aside to Fabia, flicking a quick grin. "Uh. Sorry. Haven't been able to get out here, ma'am. Dinner dates with Pringle until this weekend. I know you've missed me of course." He rubs at his face, exhaling. "What've you got that's good for a sore head?"

Alphard snickered at Douglas' response, but didn't look too surprised when his not-quite-serious suggestion had been met with denial. The last of his lunch stew was gone, leaving him with just his mulled wine. Best to drink it up before it started to cool off, right? So there was little reserve in the Slytherin as he swallowed down with a relish. "Oh fine, oh fine. Knowing Macmillan he probably hasn't washed them in a year, anyway." With his attentions at the table full of students, he didn't really pay any to to the recent arrivals, or the bar in general. "By christmas feast, then. But that still leaves the question of what you're wagering over."

"Of course! I've been away most of the week and I'm 'ere to 'ave a good time before 'eading back to my cottage." Rena replies with a bright smile, already unbuttoning her coat. However, hearing her surname called out, she pauses and swings around to look for the source. Spotting Julian, there is a brief moment of confusion in her expression until she realizes: "Oh! 'Ello luv. I 'aven't seen you ages - sorry I didn't recognize you at first!" Motioning to him with her hand, she adds with a smile: "Come on over and join me." Rena's warm invitation extended, she lets her coat slide from her shoulders and drapes it over one arm.

Eibhlin, too, is rather oblivious to the goings on outside of their booth.

"Oh, of course. We all missed you," Fabia agrees drolly with Douglas. She nods to Rena as she moves away; and then finds the little ribbon to mark her place and shuts her book upon it. As a precaution, lest any unsophisticated denizen of Hogsmeade happen to glance over at it while she's not in attendance. "Well, sweetie, under the bar we've got a box of the potions we give to drunks who come in before they're allowed any more booze; or I could make you one of my Muggle ones. Depends how adventurous you feel, really."

Astoria finds a stool at the bar and quietly sits upon it with a slow breath. She pulls a knit cap from her head and fixes the rest of her hair, which only takes a few moments, before looking towards the patrons at the bar. She hears Fabia speaking to Douglas, and quickly advises: "Select the potion, unless you enjoy raw eggs." Smirking ever-so-slightly, she winks towards Douglas and leans against the counter.

Huh, what? Someone was not paying attention, though Andromena did dutifully scoot closer to Alphard when he had given the seat a little pat. Something about knicker running?

Eibhlin, too, is rather oblivious to the goings on outside of their booth. "I can't say I completely understand," she notes sipping at her wine, betting isn't really her thing after all.

Smirking a little, Medusa responds to Alphard's quip by defending Douglas' honour or, well, the house elves' reliablity. "I don't know, his pants looked fine the last time I saw them." She hmms and eats a little more of her stew after having shared half of what was left with Andromena. "Understand what, Evie? Betting? It's fun. A challenge. Alphard is right, however. We still need to figure out what it is we are wagering."

Douglas gives all three of the ladies at the bar a smile, his best, brightest and most charming, shifting position to what those who know him might recognise as 'oh look, Douglas just saw a girl' stance, and runs a hand through his hair. "Potion it is, ma'am. Always take the advice of a beautiful witch, when she gives it."

"I really never liked betting myself," Alphard admitted with a lazy shrug, then added: "Though I'm not too fond of backing down from one, either. Unless it's a completely stupid set-up." His eyes drifted towards Eibhlin, consideringly. "Well, you could always say that the loser.. or winner.. depending on how you feel about it, has to pose for some risque photographs." His wink was playful. "Though I still think the running across the Quidditch field in your knickers would've been the most amusing one. Alas, alas. So is MacMillan back to flirting with that old hag, again? You sure he's safe to keep around her?"

"Spoiling all my fun," Fabia calls down to Astoria, but the words are accompanied by a merry wave as she disengages the heels of her shoes from the cross-piece of the barstool, and hops down onto her feet. Soon she's behind the bar instead of in front of it; reaching down to find a bottle of Pep-Up potion. Purple at its triangular tip, opalescent below, with a helpful upwards-pointing arrow for the benefit of those who would otherwise be too far gone to work out how to operate it. She sets it down in front of Douglas and warns him, "You know it tastes like sugarplums. I'd really rather have the eggs, some days."

"S'been since the summer, yeah," Julian remarks, smiling and shrugging his shoulders. "S'fine. I let m'hair grow back out after the apprenticeship ended, so it's pretty easy to mistake me for someone else, I s'pose," he chuckles, and he tilts his head, moving down the bar toward the Initiate, taking his drink with him. Once siddled up next to the woman at the bar, he raises his glass, taking a sip from it. "How're things at the Office? How's Bates? I've not had the chance to write him in a couple of weeks," he tells the woman lightly. "S'been kind of busy," he tells the woman lightly. "Schoolwork… gettin' used to this NEWT-level schedule," he adds, shaking his head slightly.

Andromena's brows lift upwards at Alphard's suggestion of photography. "Ever had one taken before?" Queried innocently enough. Happily enough, she accepts the last of Medusa's food. "Anyway, losing has to be considered the less fun option. Some people might like the idea of posing for risque pictures - unless of course you want to plaster them around the school?" Offered ever-so-helpfully.

Astoria chuckles after Douglas speaks; she may be in a better mood than the last time the young man complimented her. To Fabia, she replies, "It'd safe him an upset stomach," with another chuckle. She turns and glances towards Julian, who she looks over briefly, before crossing one leg over the other and returning her gaze to the other patrons at the bar.

"Who the landlandy?" The Malfoy girl looks towards the bar and she waves politely to Fabia then says to Alphard, "I think he'll be back. Remember you said yourself that he is lucky to be dating me." Medusa chuckles at Andromena's question. "Yes, Alphard, have you had any risque photographs taken of yoursself?"

Eibhlin nods, "I understand betting," the concept of it, "I just don't see the fun of it I guess," she explains with a shrug only to blush at Alphard's suggestion.

Oh dear, Rena remembers Douglas now. He's that roguish boy who hits on anything that's feminine and breathing. Trying hard not to let the amusement show in her face, Rena offers a pleasant smile in return to Douglas before ordering herself a butter beer. That potion Fabia just poured for him doesn't look that appetizing. "Eh, things 'ave been rather 'ectic at the office these last couple weeks. Nothing like political unrest to put a spike in criminal activities," Rena replies wryly to Julian, propping one elbow on the bar to rest. "But, we're managing." The butter beer arrives, and Rena takes it in hand. Tilting her head slightly, she remarks with a good-natured grin: "If I recall, you're a clever lad and quite determined. You'll get through the schooling, alright. And you know the M.L.E is waiting for you when you get through."

Douglas accepts the potion without a second glance, uncapping it for a quick sniff, before knocking it back. He digs in his pocket for a few coins, adding towards Fabia. "Ma'am, let me know when you might be free, though. The owl still stands. Let me just go and find out what Malfoy's signed me up for." Another flash of that smile and he ambles back towards the booth, leaning in to dot a brief kiss to Medusa's ear and murmur a few words to her.

Alphard proudly stretched in his seat, arms spreading out to either side, his chest puffed out to make more of it than was technically there. Athletic though the boy might be, he was still on the distinctly lean side of things. His head casually tossed back, making the most out of his mop of raven dark tresses. All three girls at the table with him got an all too self satisfied look. "No, can't say I have. But I can understand why you'd want to know if there were any photographs like that floating about." Grin.

Medusa tilts her head towards Douglas, listening to what he says. She nods and turns her head to kiss him, whispering to him in turn. Then with a cheeky pinch to his backside she turns her attention back to the other three. "It's my hope that I might get one for Christmas, Alphard."

Medusa's wave takes Fabia by surprise, but her eye catches it just past Douglas's shoulder, and she waves back, smiling in a friendly manner. "Down the hatch," she says encouragingly as Douglas raises the potion to his mouth; she whisks away the empty bottle and drops it somewhere more or less suitable. The money goes as ever into her pocket. Well, Frid can be a bit tight with her allowance sometimes. Always wittering on about not wanting to draw upon savings just because she fancies a new cocktail frock in eau de nil satin — unreasonable man. "I hadn't forgotten your owl," she adds, "it was too fascinating; I'll be about the pub for another couple of hours this afternoon, just send someone to find me when you want to chat…" And then he's away back to his beautiful young girlfriend, and she shakes her head as she watches him go. "Unsinkable," is her comment to Astoria over the bar, as she moves along to stand across from her. "What can I find for you, sweetie?"

Douglas gives Medusa a nod and a wink, straightening his jumper as he returns to the bar, naturally trying on his best, suavest amble, and setting his elbow down on the bar when he gets there. "And now, ladies, I am all yours."

"I've been keepin' up with the news." Julian takes a swig of his drink and he rolls his neck, considering the woman's remarks. "M'father wrote me the other day… It's becoming an issue of just trying to keep people calm on their end of things." Another sip, and he pauses, letting the mug fall as he glances over at her, smiling slightly."Thank you," he remarks toward the compliment, raising his mug lightly toward the woman. "I'm planning to apply back into the Auror Office this summer for a second year of apprenticeships," he adds lightly, "so I'm hoping to get to work with you all again. It was enjoyable." Even though the majority of it was clerical work, since he's still a student… but the wild hairs Bannon got were quite fun.

"The world is a darker place," Andromena murmured, throwing Medusa a look that said it all. Rowle had no problem playing up Alphard's ego. It was rather like petting a cat. "But this still leaves things open-ended." She swirled her wine around a bit, snickering when Medusa makes mention of Christmas cards. "Get yourself a nice little santa-cap, maybe find a sleigh. For dramatic effect."

"Oh, I think you know," Astoria replies to Fabia with a grin. This must be the source of her good mood. "But only half as much as you would normally put in. I don't want to be too overcome. I'll pay the full amount." She rests her elbow on the counter and lets her chin settle on her hand. "Oh, and put it in a martini, if you would. I think I've taken a fondness to that muggle drink." The re-arrival of Douglas receives a turn of her head.

Rena takes a sip of her drink and seems to ponder over her mug thoughtfully for a moment before replying to Julian. "It's frustrating. Instead of one storm on one 'orizon - we've got to deal with two coming from different directions. What'll 'appen when they meet, I just…" Rena's expression falters, but she quickly forces herself to chin-up again with a smile. "'Ere, I'm being all gloomy again. This is an 'appy place to be - I shouldn't spoil it." Pausing to take another drink, she then adds: "This next time around, maybe there'll be more than clerical work for you to do. We'll surely be glad to 'ave you back." Still, there are lingering clouds over Rena's mind, and she shakes her head slightly. "I feel the need for a song. Pardon me," she says apologetically to Julian - including the others nearby. "It's the only cure for what ails me."

Fabia has just nodded to Douglas when Astoria speaks, and her eyes widen; her hand flies across the bar to squeeze her arm for an instant. "Oh, sweetie, then you heard," she breathes excitedly. "Don't worry, the drinks we're serving down here aren't — what you're thinking… We couldn't have half a dozen people at once… Now could we?" She giggles as though she's thinking of something frightfully, naughtily marvelous. Which she is. "I'll make yours myself and be very careful. I can't imagine it in a martini but perhaps you'll let me try just a sip of it, for the flavour." Already she's measuring gin and vermouth into a cocktail shaker…

A sly grin spread across Alphard's regal features. "I would, I would, Medusa. But that would be a cruel thing to do to MacMillan. We'll have to wait to see where youre relationship status stands come Christmas, I suppose." He made a dismissive gesture with his hand. Andromena's little mischivious suggestions meanwhile couldn't help but draw a quiet snort of bemusement from him, along with a roll of his eyes. Then he was slowly pushing himself up to his feet, head rolling on his shoudlers and his body lazily stretching. "Aaah.." Pop, pop, pop, went those little joints. "Alright, this was fun. There are a few things I was meaning to pick up while I was in Hogsmead, though. Perhaps I'll bump into you later when you run that other errand of yours, Medusa." He gave Andromena a look, too. "We're still on for later, too, right?" Queried.

"Completely understandable." Julian, a musican, can surely grasp that one. Smiling, he raises his glass toward her, and takes another sip. Meanwhile, he settles in, justk ind of watching the crowd, getting ready to listen to the music.

"See you later, Alphard." Medusa glances down at her drink and then downs the rest of it, going silent for a few minutes.

"I think it'll have a delicious flavor with the olives," Astoria observes. "Sweet, and then bitter." She shivers a little under Fabia's touch, and a memory, while grinning at the same time. "And yes, I heard. I was delighted. You should have seen the expressions of my neighbors, though. Oh! They were so surprised." She glances towards Douglas, adding, "Why don't you bring a beer or whiskey for the young man, too? Forgive me, what was your name?" Her attention settles on Douglas.

Douglas holds up a hand. "Juice," he counters, shaking his head. "No more whiskey. Please, please no more whiskey." He flicks an amiable smile, offering his hand. "Macmillan, ma'am. Doug Macmillan. Spell it backwards and it's like a god with a little bit of you. I can't believe we haven't met formally. I've had you in my dreams for weeks."

Making her way across the room to the piano, Rena deftly sets her drink onto a nearby table and drapes her coat over the nearest chair. Once she has done so, she smoothes her skirt and slides onto the piano bench. Flexing her hands briefly, she then drifts over the notes to check for tuning. Everything seems to be right. After a moment's thought, the redhead's fingers are dancing merrily across the keyboard in a spritely sounding little song. Naturally, when she sings (although she sings sweetly) her accent shows through quite strongly - but somehow, it doesn't ruin the effect of the music:

"I don't 'ave to dream again - Never 'ave to dream again

Now I know 'ow empty all my dreams will be - When you're so lovely in reality

You're a breath of spring with all its sweet perfume

//I 'ear violins whenever you're in the room //

Now I don't want to dream again, my dear - Not as long as you are 'ere

Dreams are only dreams but you are really true - And if I only get a glimpse of you

Every now and then…

//I don't 'ave to dream again. //

Remembering a meeting she is meant to be at Medusa gets up quickly. "Sorry, I forgot something." Muttering she apparates away.

Oh, how Fabia laughs at Douglas, diamonds glittering at her throat as she leans her head back in mirth. "Juice," she agrees, and bears Astoria's cocktail shaker away with her towards the Staff Only door. On the way she catches the arm of the bar wench Tessa and purrs, "Let me have the key, sweetie, won't you?" But it's on a chain round Tessa's waist, and so they vanish together into the inner recesses of the pub. Tessa alone returns, with a martini and a glass of fruit juice, which she sets down on the counter behind the bar, looking with polite expectancy at Astoria. That'll be a galleon and change, madam, as you know well.

Eibhlin sends a bit of a wave after both Alphard and Medusa as each takes their leave. "I have a few things I should take care of too," she notes as she slips out of the booth as well, offering a smile to Andromena.

Astoria listens quietly to Douglas as he speaks, and her brows narrow slightly as he concludes. "In your dreams, hm?" she asks, just as her martini arrives. "Oh, thank you," she says with a small smile. The galleon is paid while she enjoys the fine tunes of Rena's playing and singing. Then, turning back to Douglas, Astoria adds, "So, dreams. What, precisiely, was I doing?" she asks, sharp gaze settling completely on Douglas.

"I couldn't possibly say in polite company, ma'am," Douglas insists solemnly, lifting his juice and tilting it towards Astoria, dipping his head in toast. "Your health, ma'am."

Astoria chuckles slightly and lifts her glass. She clinks it ever-so-slightly against Douglas' before noticing a bit of red on the rim of her glass. Astoria studies it briefly before taking a sip, and then finding an olive and toothpick. "So, tell me, then. Are you still a student at Hogwarts?" she asks.

Douglas takes a sip of his juice, admitting, "I graduate at the end of this year, though. Just got my NEWTs to get through first." He shrugs a shoulder. "So I suppose the answer is yes, but by choice, not law?" He grins at her. "Younger fellows, though. We're very fashionable these days."

For a time, Rena just keeps on playing the piano gayly in the background, humming along with the music. Once her mood has been improved and lifted by the addition of music, she finally comes to a pleasant stop and finishes her butter beer. Then, breathing a small sigh, the redhead picks up her coat and her empty mug and moves back to the bar. Dropping her pay on the glossy wooden surface, she offers a friendly smile to all - especially to Julian and takes her leave.

It's always good to come back home to Hogsmeade.

"Ah, seventh year," Astoria says with a long sigh. "That felt like a very long time ago. Well, it was a long time ago. At any rate, which classes are you in, and what do you hope to do after graduation?" she asks, and afterwards she plops an olive in her mouth and gently takes a bite.

Douglas half grins. "You mean if I fail to get myself a rich, beautiful older woman like you?" he suggests, waggling his brows. "Naw, I've got a sort of plan. We're raising the capital for it at the moment, but we'll see. If all else fails, my Aunt Bettina's got me a shoe in job at the Ministry." He pauses, swirling the juice in his glass. "I don't suppose you live locally, do you, ma'am?"

"Well, good luck finding a woman who meets all those requirements," Astoria says. "Most of us are married, or might as well be." She drops her remaining olives back into the drink and takes another long drink. Her neck blushes a light red afterwards. "Capital?" she wonders. "Sounds intriguing. And sadly, no. I live in London, but I do make it up here several times a week. This is my favorite pub." A pause. "Why do you ask?"

"Well, obviously so I can creep to your house late at night and surprise you," Douglas insists, grinning, then shakes his head. "Well, actually I was more wondering who might have an idea about the prices around here. We need an office, of sorts. And I'll need somewhere to stay, too, so rooms above it, you know the sort of thing." He scratches at his neck, squinting thoughtfully. "I just have no idea how to even go about it. I mean, can you rent them? Do you need a mortgage or..?"

"Well, I do not think my house-elf would take too kindly to intruders," Astoria says with a chuckle. She takes another long drink before adding, "I can't speak much to pricing, but I do know a thing or two about buying. Hogsmeade will have a record of for rent and purchaseable properties in the village center. Truth be told, there are many properties available - I frequently pass them on a way to a friend's home." She smiles and leans against her hand. "And yes, there would be a mortgage. The homes and establishments are probably owned by Gringotts, which will also have a record of availability."

Douglas shrugs, lifting his juice again. "I just need to know how much money I need to try to set aside. I mean, I just have no idea. None at all. It's not a class they do at Hogwarts. How to finance your life when you leave." He grins easily. "It's all frankly a bit terrifying. If you don't mind me asking, ma'am, how much do you pay in rent in London? Or do you own your house?"

"Hm. I would say one hundred and fifty galleons will earn you a healthy start on purchasing a decent home," Astoria says with a slow nod. "That wouldn't include furnishings, or any merchandise, though," she adds. "As for rent - my family owns a small town home. It's dismally located and I have been slowly repairing it. It's expensive, but not if you have a job and savings already."

Douglas raises both brows. "A hundred and fifty?" He grins slowly. "Well… a hundred and fifty's not so bad. We've got at least that between us. You think four hundred would buy a place outright?"

"Depends on the venue and location," Astoria replies. "This place? Certainly not. Not even the store next to us. Four hundred might get you a loan from the bank, and a fair amount of things to sell," she explains. "Two streets over, though - yes, that might be enough to buy it outright." Astoria takes a final sip, kissing the red stain on her glass one final time, and smiles with a quiet exhale afterwards. "Mmm, that really is delicious," she says as her eyes droop a little. "So, what is it you are hoping to sell?" she wonders.

"Two streets over works," Douglas notes, sucking in a breath between his teeth. "If it's on the floo? We're not selling anything so much as… well, I suppose we're selling a service. Sort of." A pause. "Do you want me to ask them to give you a clean glass?" he suggests helpfully.

"Well, now I am exceedingly curious," Astoria says, eyes still droopy. "Hm?" she asks. "Oh, no, it's fine. At any rate, I do not think connecting the business to the floo costs money." She re-crosses her legs and focuses once more upon Douglas.

Douglas focuses briefly on the the legs. "Um," he continues, looking back up to her face. "Well, it's an idea we've got. Taking groups of lads out on the bens, show them how to survive and stuff. Show them a bit of the country. Give them a bit of… uh… you know. Blokeyness. So the limp dicked fellows who spend all day pushing paper at the ministry can come out for a week or a weekend or whatever and prove to themselves they're actually men. Show them how to use their brains a bit, as well as their wands. Or how to get by without a wand, if they don't want the ministry watching their every move, too." He shrugs, draining his drink and setting the glass down. "The thing is that this is a beautiful country, and too many wizards never see any of it up close, never appreciate it, y'know? So what we offer is the chance to see it, live off it, and learn a bit of survival and get some self respect, too."

"That sounds… well, I would say delightful, were I into rough living," Astoria says with a wink. "I think it will be a success, though. It is beautiful country," she notes with a nod. "Of course, you may not want to them them… what was it? Limped-dicks?" she asks with a chuckle.

"Malfoy's much better at marketing it than I am," Douglas admits, giving her a nudge. "I can do the outdoors bit, and she's going to sell it to them. So all we really need is a home base here to work from. An office with a floo, and somewhere to live when I'm not out on the bens." He grins at her, raising a brow. "Women love the rugged sort of bloke, right? I mean, that's why all the girls take Magical Creatures. So we'll sell it that way, too. Get the women to send their lads away to learn to be men for a bit. Lads weekend away and all that, so they can go back and be all caveman at their women. Me big hunter! Me learn make fire!"

Astoria listens quietly, somewhat absorbed in Douglas' dream. She laces her fingers together before saying, "I do think there is a market for it. As for the rest, well - I'm not certain. I do like a man who is well dressed, with trim fingernails." Astoria shrugs, "My the smell of pine is equally alluring."

Douglas raises a brow, genuinely curious. "You don't think more of a man if you know he can look after himself, then?"

"I don't think I have ever had the opportunity to watch a man look after himself," Astoria replies. "To be perfectly honest, I prefer one who can keep a secret, is prompt, wears a suit, and can make a fine cup of tea." She chuckles. "I'm a city girl, though. And a spoiled one, at that."

"On our first date, then, ma'am, I'll put my glad rags on for you and insist on serving you a cuppa," Douglas promises, grinning. "And I'll be on time, and I won't tell anyone."

"Oh, we're going on a date, now, are we?" Astoria asks with a chuckle. "I think you're a touch too young for me. I'm boring, besides. I work a great deal, and when I'm not working I'm here trying to drown out the work. Particularly the horrible parts. I make a poor date, I assure you."

"I thought we ought to," Douglas agrees solemnly. "I mean, it's the done thing. It's very rude to just invite a woman straight to bed with you without at least offering dinner. What are you doing tomorrow?"

Astoria laughs slightly and shakes her head. "One day, and one day very soon, I imagine, you are going to make a lot of very pretty girls extremely happy. And then extremely upset. As for me, I think I'll wait a year or two. You're welcome to ask me again after you pass your N.E.W.T.S," Astoria says with a gentle smile.

Douglas snaps his fingers. "I should have lied and said I was my own older brother, eh?"

"It may have worked," Astoria replies. "This is strong. But, I'm not young enough any more to date students. It's a shame, really. But then again, there are plenty of women out there for the two of us," she concludes, obviously missing, or perhaps not caring, about her gender slip.

Douglas doesn't miss it in the slightest, a definite look of interest cast over the older woman, and a pause as he just about glazes over for a happy moment, lost in a cheerful daydream. "I'll introduce you to Malfoy," he suggests, slow grin finding its way across his face.

"Hm?" Astoria asks, eyes perking up a bit. They have become quite droopy. "Oh, I should go, soon. It was a delight speaking with you. And don't try too hard with these girls. I shouldn't like for you to become too used so early. That is what happened to my brother - well, that and about five bastards. I fear for his sanity." She gets off the stool with a wobble.

"It's been a pleasure, ma'am," Douglas insists, rising politely as she does. "I'll let you know when I graduate, eh?"

"Please do," Astoria replies with a wink and a slight smile. She picks up her coat and strolls away, soon finding Tessa. The two of them chat briefly before Astoria is admitted towards one of the back rooms.

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