(1939-04-20) Red, Red Wine
Details for Red, Red Wine
Summary: Noticing a new shop, Rhyeline pops inside where she meets Augustin. The pair soon lapse into French, discussing both wine and passion. They linger only briefly on politics before Augustin's father returns. Upon parting, the two have decided to be friends.
Date: 1939-04-20
Location: Rousseau Vineyards shop

It is a bright, warm morning, with clouds scudding across the sky at breakneck speed, brewing an oncoming storm. In a little shop in Diagon Alley Augustin and his father are working to set up their wares, seen through the wide-open door. It was Gus' idea, actually, to have a place in London town where new customers could find them and old ones could more easily make their purchases. The sign above the open shop door, swinging lazily in the wind, reads simply, "Rousseau Vineyards." Gus is wearing dark grey robes not unlike the color of the clouds, with a black mourning band around his arm. It makes his eyes look nearly silver, in the right light - which this is. Despite his somber garb, there is a sparkle in his eye as he helps his father move things here and there about the shop, and as they talk the young man is quick to grin and joke with the elder, who gives faint smiles in return.

"I should bring some more wine," Mr. Rousseau tells his son, giving him a clap on the back. "I'll be back soon." He turns in place and Apparates away with a clap of displaced air.

Gus turns toward a broom and takes out his wand, casting a simple charm so that the bundle of sticks starts sweeping up the floor on its own, gathering up the wood shavings which had previously kept the bottles of wine safe during transport. Then he starts straightening bottles on the shelves, whistling as he goes.

Rhyeline pauses on the street to consider the swaying sign, freshly painted. A new shop. The little one tilts her head at the name. Rousseau Vineyards. She was there the night of their tragic loss, but did not know members of the family well. Their politics remain unclear and Rhyeline is not quite sure how welcome she might be. However, the her curiosity and the promise of one of the excellent bottles the Rousseau family produces is enough to lure the little French girl into the shop.

"Ah, hello!" Gus says, giving the petite young woman a welcoming smile and a once-over. He glances around his shop, which is obviously not quite ready for customers, yet. "Er… We're not quite ready for business, yet, miss. We were aiming to open tomorrow morning. I suppose if you really need something, I can help you. though." He gives her a rather charming smile and waves her in. "Were you looking for something in particular, miss?"

Rhyeline hesitates, blushing when she realizes she has ventured into the shop a might bit early. "Oh… I… forgive me," she murmurs, peeking up at him. "I… I can return tomorrow… I was just… em…" She bites her lower lip as her voice fades, blushing ever deeper.

Gus is quite charmed by her blushes. "Oh, no, no, it's no problem, really," he assures her. "Come, sit," he invites, dusting off a tall stool next to the counter. "Please, miss…. Miss… er… what is your name?" he asks. "I'm Augustin Rouseau. You can call me Gus, if you like."

Rhyeline hesitates as he dusts the tall stool for her. Clasping her hands tight behind her back, she takes a few steps closer, but before she sits, she peeks up at him to murmur, "Pleased to meet you, gus… my- my name is- is Rhyeline Diderot…" She pronounces her last name with a flawless French accent.

He brightens when she says her name in such a French way. "Ah," he says, and then switches to the language of love. "What a pleasure it is," he assures her. "Do you speak French?" He holds out his hand to help her on to the stool in what is a very gentlemanly manner.

Rhyeline places a delicate hand in his as she alights onto the stool. "Yes… my mother taught me to speak it as a child…" she murmurs in a rather soft tone. She speaks with a delicate, Parisian accent.

Gus's French is fluent, but there's nothing Parisian about it. His parents were born and raised in the gentle hills and valleys of French wine country, as were their parents before them, and it shows. "Well, that's wonderful," he says. And since he has a hold of her hand, he bends over it and plants a kiss — in the air, a centimeter from her skin. Entirely proper! Then he grins and lets it go as he straightens up. "So, Miss Diderot, how may I help you, today? Were you looking for something in particular, or did you come to browse?"

The warmth of her blush lingers in the fair girl's cheeks as she watches him with a hushed curiosity. Folding her hands like petals in her lap, one over the other, she murmurs, "I came to- to explore this new shop… I… I have tasted your wine before, and- and it has always been exquisite."

"I'm afraid you'll have to limit your exploration to that which your eyes can do, today," Gus says. Then he goes behind the counter and takes out a wine glass and a little box of several small bottles, each containing perhaps four glasses worth of wine. "And your tongue," he amends with another smile. "Thank you for the compliment. As our first customer, perhaps you'd like to sample a few vintages to see which you like best?" He picks up a bottle of red wine. "This is a very good one," he assures her. "My father infused hints of apricot and… well, if you can guess I will be quite impressed."

A soft, subtle smile appears upon Rhyeline's lips when Gus ammends with a smile of his own. "I am no great connoisseur, but I will try…" She pauses before tilting her head just a touch. "Are… are you learning your father's art? Or… or are you more interested in- in the business side of- of things?"

Gus hesitates before answering, using the decorking as a means of taking his time. "Wine is my father's passion, his art," he says. "And he has done his best to instill the same love of the vine in me." He shrugs. "I am his son. It's my duty to help him, is it not?" He pours a bit for her, just enough to taste. "Here you are."

Rhyeline accepts the glass with a small nod of thanks. Her dark gaze lingers upon his features as she shifts through his words for the answer to her question. "You speak of duty… but not a shared love…" She brings the glass closer to her lips to swirl its contents and inhale its scent. "Your true interests lie… elsewhere?" As she takes a delicate sip, her eyes remain fixed upon his.

Gus leans on the counter, tilts his head to one side thoughtfully. "I love beauty," he tells her, a slow grin tipping up the corners of his mouth, his eyes steady on hers. "And I love to capture that beauty on paper, on canvass, or bring it forth from a block of wood. And you, Miss Diderot? What is your… passion?" Flirtatiously, his gaze drops for just a second to her lips.

Rhyeline hides behind her glass of wine, taking the smallest sip possible as she watches him. Her fair cheeks burn with warmth as her eyes shine with shyness. Slowly, she lowers her glass and murmurs, "Mine… it is not so hard to guess… there are such shadows settling over the world… We are on the edge of such darkness…" She glances out the window to the street where the wind is picking up, mirroring her words describing the verge of a storm. "My passion… is to do what I can… all I can… to bring peace… one that will last…"

The flirtatiousness slowly ebbs from Gus's expression, replaced by something more serious. He, too, looks out of the window, contemplating for a while in silence on the dark times which seem to loom like storm clouds on the horizon, drawing ever closer. It's a moment which they share, the two of them, here in this half-assembled store, rich with the scent of the decorked red wine. "Peace," he says quietly. "That's all any sane person ever wants. A chance to live and grow and have a family." He inhales slowly, and then sighs it out. "So what do you do?" he asks. "To bring this peace?"

"I work to bring unity…" Rhyeline murmurs, peeking over at him with a touch of caution. "Divisions have engendered such suspicion… such fear… it drives people to do such terrible things… But… in the end… we all want the same, no? Purebloods, muggle-born, and muggles alike… we are different, but all… we all just want to live… there is laughter in us as well as pain… Why can we not recognize our shared humanity? Why can we not live as one?" Falling silent, she bites her lower lip as she watches him.

Gus gives a short, silent laugh and pushes away from the counter. "Have you any guesses to what else is in the wine?" he asks lightly, avoiding her questions entirely. "Besides the grapes, and the apricot? I will give you a hint if you need one."

Rhyeline lowers her gaze at once when Gus draws away and avoids her questions. Closing her eyes, she brings the glass of wine to her lips one more time. "There is a hint of… of sweetness… a nectar…" She stares into the last few drops of red wine in her glass before peeking over at him. "Honeysuckle?"

"Very good!" Gus compliments her. "I am duly impressed, Miss Diderot. Also, you may note the hints of oak."

Just then there is a crack of air rushing away from an Apparating wizard, and Mr. Rousseau is there, blinking in the changed light. "Ah, Gus," he says. "You have a friend visiting?" He peers at Rhyeline on her stool curiously. "I feel like I have seen you before, Miss. Claude Rousseau," he says, introducing himself and extending his hand to shake. All this is said in English, with an obvious French accent.

Rhyeline slips down from the stool so that she might accept his offered hand. Her grip is quite delicate, but by no means is her hand limp. Peeking up at him, she murmurs in French, "Mr. Rousseau… I… My name is Rhyeline Diderot…" She looks to Gus, her cheeks growing rather warm once more. "I- I had not realized that- that the shop was not yet open… but… but your son was- was kind enough to- to invite me in, regardless…"

"Yes, he would, since I raised him right," Mr. Rousseau says in French to Rhyeline with a chuckle. "I see he's given you a sample. That is one of my favorite vintages, personally. Is this for a particular occasion?"

Gus takes a cloth from the pocket of his robe and starts polishing the counter while he listens to his father.

Rhyeline hesitates before murmuring, "The occasion… New beginnings?" Once more, her young, dark gaze flits from Mr. Rousseau to his son. Peeking back over at the French gentleman, she adds, "It- it was quite exquisite… I… I look forward to purchasing a bottle when- when your shop has officially opened."

"I wouldn't hear of you going away unsatisfied," Mr. Rousseau says. "Gus, fetch the lady a bottle, will you?" Then he smiles at Rhyeline and names a price. It's a fair price, too - just right for something so tasty. "You will be our first official customer."

Gus disappears behind a shelf and comes back with a full-sized bottle, grinning from ear to ear. "Here you are, Miss Diderot," he says. "I'll bag it for you," he says. Then he starts looking around for the bags. "As… soon… as I… find them."

Rhyeline's young features brighten with a soft smile as she looks up at Mr. Rousseau. "I would be honored, sir." Looking to Gus as he searches for the bags, she shakes her head with a sweet little laugh. "It's alright. I will take it home at once… No need for a bag." She pulls the moeny from her little coin purse and offers it to Mr. Rousseau. "Thank you so much."

Mr. Rousseau takes the money with a bow and a grateful smile. "Thank you, Miss Diderot," he says. "Gus, see to the lady while I secure this, hm?"

Gus nods at his father, who disappears into the back. He turns toward Rhyeline. "Nonsense, you can't simply walk into the street with a bottle of wine. This isn't Paris, after all, it's London. People are slightly more uptight about these things," he laughs. "I'll find those bags, never you fear." He ducks behind the counters and rustles around in a box or two. "Do you live in London, Miss Diderot?" he asks curiously.

Rhyeline returns the bow with a curtsy. She moves with a rather slow, careful grace. She blinks and her cheeks grow a touch warm when she realizes the faux pas she had been about to commit. "Yes, sir… I do. I have a flat in- in Lambeth…" She pauses before adding, "If… if you wish me to call you Gus… then… you may call me Rhyeline…"

Gus laughs again. "Oh, please, don't call me 'sir,'" he says. "I'll call you Rhyeline, then, if you promise to stick with Gus." There's more rustling, and then a triumphant call. "Ah hah! I have found them!" Up he pops with a long black velvet bag with a drawstring neck. He opens it up and presents it to her, that she might put her wine inside. "Perhaps you can show me around, some time," he says. "I've only just left Hogwarts. I don't know London that well, myself. You can bring your boyfriend, if you like. I haven't many friends, honestly." He says the last bit in a rather surprised way, like he still can't quite fathom the fact.

Rhyeline blinks at the suggestion of bringing her boyfriend. Her cheeks grow rather warm and with the most subtle shake of her head, she parts her lips to correct him. But, she can't quite seem to find the right words. Upon hearing his next statement, she hesitates. "I… I would be happy to- to show you wnat I know of London… But… I have not had the chance to get to know it so well…" She pauses before adding in a rather quiet tone, "And… I haven't many friends either…"

Realizing he is holding the bag open for her, she steps a bit closer to carefully place the wine bottle within.

Gus gives her an understanding sort of smile. "You know… I used to have more friends than I knew what to do with," he tells her. "But it's… it's funny how a little bit of hard times will reveal just who's true and who's not." He pulls the ribbons that make up the drawstrings of the bag, sealing in the wine and, and starts to tie a bow. "Perhaps you and I can be friends," he suggests. "And.. explore London together?"

Rhyeline bites her lower lip, knowing well the hard times he means. But, at the suggestion of exploring London together, a soft smile returns to her lips. "I'd… I'd like that." She lowers her gaze to add. "At Hogwarts… I had only one friend…" She peeks up at him. "I have more than one now… but still few. I… I would like to know you better…"

"Well then, my friend," Gus says with a cheerful smile. "How would you like to venture into the Muggle London?" he suggests. "As you are interested in uniting our worlds, surely you have an interest in learning more about them? I surely do, anyway."

"I… Yes… I'd- I'd like that… Their public gardens are- are lovely… Their libraries are- are magnificent…" Rhyeline pauses before adding, "I- I even went once to their- their 'cinema' where… where a phtograph plays out a- an elaborate story. More than just a moment in time. And… with music and voices…"

Gus reaches for her hand, gives her a sympathetic look. "Rhyeline, my friend… you needn't be nervous," he tells her. "I've been told that I… well. I approach new relationships rather too enthusiastically," he says with a chuckle. "I assure, despite my silly flirtations earlier, I have no designs on your heart. My own is… too hurt, right now. I still grieve for my mother. Friends is what I said, and it's what I meant." He inhales and smiles. "So breathe, and relax," he advises softly. "Hm?"

Rhyeline's cheeks burn with warmth when he tries to tell her not to be so nervous. Lowering her gaze, she nods a bit and murmurs, "Forgive me… I… I have always found it- it difficult to find my voice. At Hogwarts, I- I scarecly spoke at all outside of answering questions in- in class…" When she lowers her gaze, she seems too shy to accept his offered hand. But, if he offers it still after this, she will accept it. Peeking back up at him she adds, "And… and I am spoken for… I have not a boyfriend, but- but a fiance… but… I- I would… still like to be friends… And- and I hope you will forgive the- the halting way I speak."

Gus' expression brightens. "A fiancee?" he repeats. "Why, that's excellent. Who is the lucky chap? I'd like to meet him. Perhaps he can show us both around, hm?" The hand she places in his is held warmly and shaken. "We can all three learn about the Muggles. Perhaps see one of these photograph plays you mentioned. That seems interesting. I could bring my little sister, perhaps?" That's a question. "Don't worry about your stammer," he says. "We've all got our little quirks, haven't we?"

Rhyeline seems to calm as she listens and with a shy warmth, she nods. "Thank you…" Her gaze lingers upon her hand in his before she adds, "It would be lovely to bring your little sister. But… Cassius Malfoy is- is often quite busy… I am not certain if- if he would be able to join us…" With a gentle blush, she peeks back up at him.

"But… I will ask," she adds.

"Malfoy, eh?" Gus asks. "I've known a few. Rather stiff bunch, but not beyond redemption, I think. Especially if one has the good sense to ask such a charming girl as yourself to marry him." He grins at her. "Lizette will enjoy the day out, I think. You ask your beau, and let me know. I'll be here all day tomorrow."

"I will… He… em… yes… I will. It was lovely to- to meet you, Gus. I… I hope to see you tomorrow." Holding the velvet-wrapped bottle of wine with care, Rhyeline dips into another small curtsy as she peeks up at Augustin. "Good day to you…" And with that, she turns and heads off into the street. The first drops of the storm have begun to fall and the girl is quick to Apparate away.

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