(1938-12-23) Snakes, Spiders, and Cy, Oh My
Details for Snakes, Spiders and Cy, Oh My
Summary: Since their parents didn't put an end to their relationship, Alphard and Andromena reunite for a day out.
Date: 1938-12-23
Location: Diagon Alley, Knockturn Alley, Black's Bestiary
Related: This scene is immediately prior to the events in Snide Speculation.

It was a decidedly crisp winter's day. There had been a light snowfall early in the morning, but no where could that be seen in the heavily trafficked Diagon Alley. The ground was just wet, and in some places there was gray slush clumped up as if its sole intent had been to make the place look dreary - if not dirty. The wind wasn't all that heavy, though, which was a boon, considering it was cold enough to walking very close together…not that Andromena and Alphard really needed an excuse to do so.

That the couple was together so soon after the much anticipated, perhaps worried over, meeting between their parents was a good sign. When the adults had all returned from their night on the town, they'd found Alphard and Andromena seated before the chess board still, idly chatting. The Blacks had collected their son and everyone bid each other good night. Andromena's mother expressed she found the Blacks to be nice people, and her father had grunted something of the same. She'd gone to bed shortly thereafter.

"Want to go in the Menagerie?" Andromena was asking Alphard just as they side-stepped a particularly deep-looking puddle.

Alphard gave the Magical Menagerie store a dismissive look, nose in the air and cool arrogance on display. "No," he said. "If you want to see pets, I know a much better store to visit." Albeit one that was not so much dedicated to cute fluffy animals as the most dangerous creatures a wizard could keep legally. And sometimes not at all so legally. "Though we need to check that all the orders for the drinks for my party didn't somehow get fumbled." Because that was the case with menial people if you didn't keep an eagle eye on them.

His eyes passed over the crowds filling Diagon Alley. Quite the rush before Christmas, especially with all the children home from school. It was noisy, and there were too many squeals of delight and obnoxiously loud laughter. Like being back at Hogwarts, only worse, because the siblings were here, too. Ugh. "And I need to stop by the Bank."

Andromena nodded. The press of all those gathered around was not to her liking, either. She hated being squished in and forced to dodge someone coming at her near constantly in order to avoid being trampled. Then there were those that plowed past because their walk was actually more of a run and heaven forbid that you didn't match that pace. Then there was the noise. Laughing much more loudly than was required, yelling because some people just had no manners; cursing, squawking, whining, crying. With the holiday so close, Andromena would hazard to guess she'd heard, if not witnessed, just about every human emotion as they strolled along.

"Okay," she agreed in a mild tone. Errands. Who ever really wanted to do them? But Alphard was right - they did need to make sure the drink order was as it should be. And if he needed to go to the bank, then the man needed to go to the bank! Apparently, Andromena had no pressing matters that required her own attention; she was just a pretty hanger-on to Black. Not such a bad thing.

His own personal piece of arm candy. The trip to check on the drinks only took a few minutes. Into a store and then a brief discussion with the owner to ensure that yes, the alcohol was all going to show up in time. "No reason to panic, young sir, your party is safe with us." After which the trip to the Bank was even less eventful. A lot of standing in cue, before he made his withdrawal from a grumpy looking factor who clearly thought that Alphard's gold was much better kept in their vaults than in the hands of some spending teenager with a girlfriend to impress.

"Can you believe the attitude of those non humans?" Alphard asked Andromena as soon as they were back outside. He sniffed with contempt. "And to think they ever thought themselves ready to be in the possession of wands. Imagine the bloody greedy little monsters with wands on top of everything else. UGH!"

Andromena played the part of arm-candy to perfection. Alphard did most, if not all the talking, and she stood quietly at his side and impressed onlookers with her beauty. Dressed in winter robes cut to accentuate her feminine frame, she was nevertheless protected from the cold due to its chic fur trim and expensively charmed material. (Why suffer poor taste when there were spells to keep you warm!?) Andromena was reasonably content even if she would confess to a little boredom, especially when waiting in line.

Sure, they talked, but what sort of meaningful conversation can you really have standing in cue at the bank?

"I can't believe the look he gave you when you told him your withdrawal amount," the young woman huffed at Alphard's side. "Like you were some sort of urchin begging for something not yours." The very audacity. No, such creatures should not be allowed wands when they didn't even have a proper world view!

"You saw it, too?" Alphard sneered with disgust. "Bloody ugly creatures, too. They give me the creeps. Those long pointy noses and their disgusting hands. If we didn't need someone to run our banks, I dare say we could've done without them all together." But who wanted to spend all their life looking at numbers? And not even Arithmancy numbers? No right wizard or witch, that was who. "Well. I'm glad that's done and over with. Now.. what were we..?" He tapped his chin thoughtfully. Eventually his eyes drifted towards the opening of Knockturn Alley. Dark. Gloomy. Not very well trafficked. One could easily miss that there was an opening between those houses at all. "Right. Beasts." With his lady in tow, he headed for the one place no reputable wizard really aught to go unless they were sure of what they were doing.

Andromena followed along. There was a brief moment where she was tempted to ask Alphard if he was sure this was the direction he meant to go, but decided that was altogether silly. Of course Alphard meant to go wherever he happened to choose. He wouldn't go there otherwise! For herself, she had never had reason or cause to come this way, so it was at least a new experience. Absently, as they walked, "Yeah, they are creepy little creatures." She was so thankful she had been born a witch. Had she ever even SEEN a female goblin? Now that she thought about it…no, no, Andromena had only ever seen the grumpy beasts at the bank, and they all appeared to be male.

Here, at least, there weren't half the number of people than in Diagon Alley. Though it was a good deal darker. Literally. The weak winter sun did not illumine this place, so as they ventured deeper it got colder and felt closer to twilight than afternoon. Perhaps not so unconsciously, Andromena gave Alphard's hand a little squeeze as some particularly unsavoury wizard strolled past them. He tipped his cap to them both, revealing a scarred visage and one milky white eye. Chapped lips pulled back in a most unfriendly looking smile. Andromena lowered her eyes.

But then it was out of the cold and into Black's Bestiary. Which…was still gloomy and had a stench that caused Andromena to wrinkle her nose in a moment of unmasked revulsion. Her eyes immediately began to take note of the multitude of cages, and her head swivelled this way and that to steal a peek at one creature or another. It seemed she and Alphard were the shop's only patrons currently.

Alphard flipped the hood of his robes up as they entered Knockturn Alley, shadowing his features into the near unrecognizable. His confidence was unmistakable, the sort that warded off the lesser predators whose territory this happened to be. The truly dangerous ones weren't likely to be preying in the 'open' anyway. None the less he still kept his hands mostly together, so it would be easy for him to whip out his wand at the least bit of provocation.

"Think of it like passing through a pack of dogs. Move with confidence, don't make eye contact, don't stop for anything. Make sure they know you're not some lost sheep, but that you're an old familiar player on your own business. And nobody best get in your way." It was all murmured quietly in her ear as they went deeper and deeper into the least reputable place in wizardly London.

"It stinks, but ignore it," he warned her in front of the store of choice. Inside they went. Immediately he had to fight down his own revulsion, breathing through his mouth. "There, see?" It was a massive constrictor, so huge it looked like it could swallow a man whole and still have room for the rest of his family. Its eyes followed the two arrivals cruelly. "They don't have that at the Menagerie, do they?" And of course Alphard went closer.

Andromena didn't pull her hood up because it was already too late to do so when Alphard explained to her the nature of the game. Which was probably why that hideous man (and several others she hadn't seen), leered at her. All in the past, now, and Andromena stared toward the massive snake, utterly transfixed. It was the sort of creature that perfectly looked the part of evil, even if it was just an animal. The pitch black eyes gave away nothing, reflecting as they did the two youths approaching it. Its scales were pale, giving it a sickly hue; which was to say it more reminded Andromena of the spirit of plague rather than assume the constrictor was ill.

"I've never even seen one this big before," said as she followed right on his heels. "How much do you think it actually eats?" And what? No mere mice for this beast. It watched them, but did not move all that much, coiled as it was. It did, however, raise its massive head when Alphard and she were directly before it. Flick, flick, went the red forked tongue, and then it affected disinterest again. The sort of disinterest of a predator that knew it could kill those bothersome onlookers with very little effort…if it wanted.

"Pig," Alphard informed her knowingly. "It takes it a whole week to digest it, and then it doesn't need to eat anything for a month or more. Smaller ones just eat mice. When they strike, they don't have any venom, but they'll crush and squeeze! I bet this one would break every bone in your body." The smile on his face was disturbingly enticed by that ghoulish visual. Playfully he wrapped his arms around Andromena, and for a moment squeezed her tight, just short of painful.

Then his attention moved on. "Oh, look!" This time it was a cobra that'd taken his attentions. When Alphard approached it lifted up to its full height, and then it spat. Instinctly Alphard jumped back, even as its venom hit an invisible field rather than blinded him permanently. "Hah! Did you see that?"

"What a horrible way to die," Andromena half-mused, half-grumped as Alphard took her into his arms. The squeeze managed to illicit a laugh despite her protests that he stop. The smile was returned, even if he was talking about a snake crushing all her bones before consuming her broken frame thereafter. It could do the same to him, and the notion - while inherently disturbing - didn't strike Andromena as reason to be upset.

As the cobra spat, Andromena gasped and hid behind Alphard. Peeking over his shoulder only as he began to chuckle. "He's much more lively than the giant," which would be her name for it, for the time being. She slid out from behind him, which was really more of a lazy drag of her torso against his own until they could haphazardly lean into one another's shoulders. The cobra remained erect, body weaving slightly as it hissed at them. "Aren't these the sorts of snake that can freeze their prey with just their eyes?" Andromena trusted that Alphard would know.

"They just freeze because they're so scared they can't think anymore. They'll strike in the blink of an eye, too!" Alphard leaned closer to the feisty cobra, which kept glaring and hissing with obvious agitation. It would probably try to strike if they kept it up, not that it would be able to. It was still caged. "But their venom will eat up your eyes. You'll go blind if you leave it in for even a little bit." Such an enthusiastic lecture, too! He looked at her, smugly satisfied by the way she'd taken shelter behind her big daring boyfriend!

"Alphard!" It was his grandfather calling. There was a scowl on the old man's face, of the sort that made Alphard immediately decide that: "Just wait here.." While he went to see what the man wanted. Introduction best for another time.

The cobra began to calm only somewhat as Alphard departed, quick too, at the sound of his name being called. Perhaps because Andromena did not lean so closely over the creature the way he had, choosing instead to admire its sleek, reptilian beauty from a more comfortable distance. "I've never been able to not think," she shared with the snake as Alphard left her alone. She even thought when she was trying to sleep at night, and woke up thinking about things. Andromena did not understand how others could just turn it off. It made no sense to her.

There was a strong desire to wander; to see what other fantastically frightful beasts lurked about. But Alphard had suggested she wait, so perhaps it wasn't a good idea to just disappear into the veritable gloom while he was away. Instead she took a look around what was nearest to her. More snakes, though they were all much smaller than even the cobra, and less inclined to entertain. Some scorpions and lizards were spied. The former caused a look of disgust to lay itself across her pale features. A snake she'd consent to touch, but not some fat, slightly-translucent bug!

"I'll bet these don't think," said to the cobra.

He was gone for a good five minutes, and when he did return Alphard looked somewhat put out. Absently he rubbed his hands on his robes as if he was trying to get something foul off them. Exactly what that was he didn't volunteer, instead just shrugging and saying: "You can say hi to grand-papa another time." Shifty eyed dodge. Alphard had in fact insisted that his young witch companion was of perfectly good breeding. So at least that was on the level. Cy wasn't just a purist, he was a murderous purist with a temper.

Scorpions didn't count as bugs. The big fat spider he suddenly spied.. did. Alphard immediately turned away, his color vanishing, his movements furtive. "Uhm.. l-let's look down here." There were some dangerous magical beasts there. One that weren't SPIDERS. "Less bad smell." Actually the smell was worse.

Andromena hadn't even noticed the spider. Even if it was of a disgusting size and covered in hair. Probably because it was being very still just then and was of a dark color so that it blended into its surroundings. Clearly, the young woman had not the keen senses of her dashing boyfriend. "Hm? Oh, yeah, no problem," said as he mentioned meeting his grandfather another time. He was probably busy.

"You know what would be neat," she suggested as they walked in a direction that's level of stink was not any better than where they had been previously! The difference was that it stopped being akin to that reptilian odor and started to take on a decidedly…strong atmosphere of ammonia.

"One of those snakes with three heads." Not the sort Muggles sometimes came into contact with, which were naturally just freaks of nature. But an actual three headed snake! If she recalled correctly, however, the heads never quite got along and often resorted to murdering one another.

"Runespoor," Alphard informed her, drawing from his Care For Magical Creatures classes. They had been some of his favorite classes, even if he had only done moderately well in them. Mostly because he kept relegating his homework to least important. In the long run it just hadn't seemed like a subject that would take him far in the world. Since he first smelled Black Bestiaries, he'd decided that while he found dangerous animals fascinating, it was not going to be his job. "Each of their heads has a different purpose. I don't remember anything else, other that they're really venomous." he passed some Fire Crabs then paused in front of a glowing red Salamander. "That's so sharp."

Sadly, animals did tend to smell horrible. Even the cute ones. Her eyes lingered on each creature as they slowly made their way through the shop, making idle comments on the ones that happened to interest her. She too had Care of Magical Creatures under her belt for an elective, but it had been taken with the thought that she needed to know and understand the animals so many potion ingredients came from.

"Right, Runespoor," she snapped her fingers when he supplied her with the name. Standing before the Salamander, Andromena leaned a little closer to inspect in. "A really pretty color," she agreed with him, watching as it scampered about its fire.

"I'd never want to own one, though," shared in an off-hand manner.

"No, they'll give you horrible burns if you actually try to pet one of them," Alphard murmured. "And how long are they really that interesting to look at?" Because he was already feeling his interest slipping. There were other creatures, too. Some spiny thing, some submerged in little pools. Alphard drew Meanie along with him for another fifteen minutes at least.

But in the end he couldn't handle it anymore. Sure he could sort of used to the smell, at least almost, but he just couldn't get out of his head the thought that if he stayed much longer the stench would seep into his clothes and he'd be stuck with it for the rest of the day. "Okay, I've seen enough. How about we head back to Diagon proper?"

Oh thank heavens! Andromena had been done at least twenty minutes ago but couldn't bring herself to say anything since Alphard had so kindly brought her here in the first place. She breathed a subtle sigh of relief and nodded that she too, was ready to depart. Even animals could fail to entertain for long when all you could do was look at them for a few minutes while they - for the most part - sat and did nothing.

"Lead the way, sweet prince," Andromena chimed playfully. It would be nice to get back out into fresh air, even cold air, just so that she could breathe properly! Not these short little inhalations done quietly through the mouth. She would follow at his side as they made their way out.

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