(1939-08-03) Chips and Awkward Moments
Details for Chips and Awkward Moments
Summary: Gus and Nora take a walk in Muggle London and bump into Rook. Awkwardness ensues.
Date: 3 August, 1939
Location: Charing Cross

After the happenings at King's Cross station, people watching has taken a pall upon it for Rook. There's a glance here and there, furtive almost, towards the muggles passing him by as he walks listlessly towards the Leaky Cauldron. Given his appearance in the muggle public, Rook is shy his usual robes, instead dressed in a woolen knit jacket, slacks, and oxford shoes. He might look fetching for a muggle if not for the very loudly, awkwardly colored newsboy cap he keeps toying with atop his blond hair. Muttering apologies absently as he accidentally jars against several passers-by, Rook is nearing the Cauldron, albeit slowly in a swerving sort of walk that's likely to find a few more toes.

Earlier this evening Gus had just happened to bump into Nora, and he'd suggested they take a stroll in muggle London just for fun - which, he'd mentioned, was rare enough and shouldn't be forgotten about entirely. He'd offered to buy her some chips, so here they were. Gus is sans robes as well, and it's lucky for him that he's still in mourning, because it's rather easy to coordinate black and grey. A white button-down shirt looks a little odd with grey plaid golfing pants and shiny black shoes, but it's not too bad, really. "Here you are," he tells Nora, turning from the vendor to hand her a newspaper cone of fresh-from-the-fryer chips, liberally doused in vinegar and salt and smelling like a little piece of heaven. He gingerly grabs one from the cone, burning his fingers. "Ah, ouch!" he laughs, determined to eat it, anyway. "Mmmm." He sucks air in to cool his scorched tongue.

Nora couldn't exactly wear her potioneer's garb about muggle London! So there was a delay while she stopped home to change to one of her few sets of muggle-appropriate clothing; a light gray dress, a simple hat of the same color, and short black heels. It's fairly cheap clothing overall, but it shouldn't draw attention.
She takes the cone of chips from Gus, smiling slightly in amusement as he burns himself trying to eat too quickly. "Careful." True to her own advice, she waits a minute before cautiously nibbling at a chip, avoiding Augustin's mistake.

Diagon Alley has its own street food vendors, but nothing like fish and chips has quite made its way there like it has London. News paper wrapped fried potatoes and battered fish? It does smell quite good, and while Rook may not realize it, there's a faint recognition of several nearby voices. Unwelcomed, his stomach rumbles for placation, and Rook smothers a sigh, rifling through his jacket pockets. Muggle money is extremely complicated, and while he's trying to find it on his person, he quite very nearly steps on his own cousin as he nears the vendor. Following his nose rather than his eyes, the beginnings of many an accident for Rook.

"It's too delicious to be careful," Gus laughs, snagging another one. This time, though, he does actually blow on it a couple of times before popping it into his mouth. "That's a nice hat, by the way," he tells her. "One thing muggles are good for is making attractive hats for attractive girls." And then there's Rook about to crash into them. Gus throws his arm in front of Nora to protect her from the collision. "Oi, watch where you're stepping, mate!" he cries, before realizing who it is.

Honora didn't notice her cousin in time to avoid collision, so it's a good thing Gus is there to intercept! If she'd been about to reply to Augustin's flirting, though, that interrupts it, so he gets nothing more than a brief embarrassed smile from it.
"…Rook?" Nora's cousin's pretty recognizable to her even without the usual robes. To Augustin, she says, "Be nice, this is my cousin." After a moment's thought, Nora adds in an amused tone, "…And telling him to watch where he's going has never done any good, anyway."

The quip about Rook's attention goes sailing over his head because, believe it or not, Rook isn't paying any mind whatsoever to what is slipping forth from Nora's lips. He halfway bounces off of Gus's forearm, blinking in bewilderment as if the two of them have suddenly leapt into his path. Recognition immediately roars to life upon his face, and Rook's lips curl in an easy, good-natured, almost exuberant grin. "Oh, huh, I wasn't expecting to see you here today." Pause. "Or you. I was just getting hungry, but I think I'll bloody pass. Muggle money." A small sound of frustration escapes him, and then Rook backpedals a few steps to afford them personal space. "Weird to see you both in the same place." Rook's green eyes slide downward, fixating upon Nora's food curiously.

As soon as Nora says Rook's name, Gus realizes that it is him, and he grins - in tandem with the other boy. "Of course I know Rook," he tells Nora. "Weren't we all in the same House together?" He addresses the other boy, now. "Hey, mate, it's been a while," Gus tells him cheerfully. It's then that he realizes his arm is still in front of Nora and he lowers it, a bit self-conscious. "Hungry?" he repeats. He offers Rook some chips from his own newspaper cone of deliciousness. He'll nod a bit. "Don't understand all this paper business," he confesses. "But if you just give them a piece of the paper money, either they'll wait for more, or they'll give you change."

"There are a lot of muggles. I guess if they all used coins for everything like we do, there wouldn't be enough coins." Nora doesn't really know, but it seems sensible enough. She takes another careful bite of food, now that it's had a moment to cool. She'd offer some to Rook but Gus paid for it and it feels wrong to give away a gift. "I haven't seen you since graduation, Rook. How have you been?"

"We are, yes!" Beat. "Well, were. Honeybee doesn't go anymore. Which is a real shame, because no one else will help me with potions." There's a sly, self-deprecatingly humorous smile for that, and a hapless shrug of Rook's shoulders. Extending a hand after wiping it off on his slacks, Rook plucks one of the chips from the newspaper cone, and blows on it to cool it. A tentative bite is taken, followed by several appreciative chews and a swallow. "That's quite good. I might have to do that with the money, because their money is difficult. I'm starting NEWTs this year." So bright and bubbly up to this point, it falters. "But it's going to be a lot of work. I'm paying someone to help tutor me sometimes."

"I suppose that make sense," Gus says, giving Nora an impressed sort of look. "I don't go any more either," he reminds Rook with a laugh. He dropped out months ago. "I guess my departure really made an impression on you, eh?" That's a bit of amused sarcasm, there, but he's only teasing. Then he pauses and looks at Nora. "Honeybee?" he asks, his smiling curling wickedly at the corners. "Honora Summerbee… Honeybee. That's adorable." He turns back to Rook. "You'll do great," he says encouragingly. "Just keep your eye on the goal."

Nora blushes, looking down at the ground. "Yeah, that'd be why I go by 'Nora'," she admits. To Rook (avoiding looking at Gus, too embarrassed to want to see his expression at learning her nickname) she says, "You're not bad at Potions, you know, you just don't pay enough attention. …You probably don't need to take any more Potions class anyway, with NEWTs coming up."

"I've been kind of busy doing other things. Thinking about things. Meeting people," Rook admits to Gus with something of a grimace, a light flush creeping up into his fair skinned face unbidden. There's something more than embarrassment there, but whatever it is, it's quickly blinked away. "I suppose. You say that, but I have tried, Honeybee. I really have. I don't know how you keep track of them, really. But no, I won't be taking Potions. And really, the only help I need is with Transfiguration. It's good I found a tutor I like." There's a thoughtful, almost suspicious glance between the pair of them, and Rook slides his hands into his pockets. "What are the two of you doing? You know, in general."

Gus chuckles quietly at Nora's blushing, but won't press the matter right now. He nods along with Rook's explanations, not seeming to harbor any hard feelings at all. "I liked Transfigurations," he says a bit wistfully. "Maybe I'll find myself a tutor, see what else I can learn, since I'm not in school any more." He turns to Nora. "How'd you do in Transfigurations?" he asks. "Willing to take on a student?" Back to Rook, he shrugs. "Just taking a walk," he says. "Weather's nice, and… why not, you know?"

Nora shakes her head at that suggestion. "I'm not awful at Transfiguration, but you don't want me trying to teach it." She attempts to ignore the apparent suspicion in Rook's eyes, but it's enough to prolong her blush. "Besides, as impressive as transfigurations is, you don't learn too many useful spells with it at school. How often do you ever need to give someone antlers or make them fall off staircases, really?"

"I might recommend mind if you want, Gus. He's a rather handsome sort with a streak of stubbornness, but you know. Gryffindor." Rook's voice suggests that to be an excellent explanation when it comes to temperament, and then he's directing his attention towards Nora, his head cocked. "I suppose it depends on much you dislike a person, really. But it's necessary if I'm going to a Curse-breaker. And besides, maybe some day I'd like to be an Animagus, as I'm not too awful at it. Just requires a bit of study is all." At which Rook makes a face as if effort is the bane of his existence. Lifting a hand to adjust his cap before it falls from his head, Rook nods. "Anyway, I'd be happy to help you meet him, Gus."

Gus gives a very French shrug when Nora declines to be his tutor. "Worth asking," he murmurs. But then he smiles. "Antlers and staircases aside, that sort of thing really can come in handy." His smile stays but his eyebrows climb when Rook mentions the tutor is handsome. "I'm not sure why his looks matter to me," he chuckles. "Well, if he can teach you to be an Animagus, then he must be competent. Sure, give me his name, I'll contact him and see if he's got the time, and what his rates are. Thanks."

Nora lets the two talk for a while, quietly eating chips. It gives her time to get that annoying blush under control and generally collect her thoughts. She does, out of simple curiosity, ask, "What animal do you expect? If you make it to being an Animagus someday, I mean."

"They don't," Rook replies simply, his voice taking upon it a more teasing edge. "But they're an added bonus. He's no Animagus, but he's much more talented at Transfiguration than I am, so it can't hurt to take notes. He's also a seventh year, taking it as NEWTs. It'll be good to pick his brain about it." Rook isn't blushing, but there's still that hint of affable smile at the talk of this so-called tutor. Nora's inquiry provokes an even brighter smile that lights up the entirety of Rook's face. "You know, I haven't really thought about it. Probably something smallish. Like a sparrow, or a hare." But as something occurs to him, Rook's smile falters. "Gus, I wouldn't mind helping teach you what I learn, you know. or helping you in other ways, when I'm not being devoured by my classes."

Gus ponders things for a moment. "I think I'll try to find someone who's graduated," he finally says, albeit a bit reluctantly. "I'm not really supposed to be at Hogwarts, any more, and if I get a tutor, I want someone who can meet me outside of Hogsmeade weekends." He shrugs. "But thank you for the suggestion, anyway." He grins at Rook. "And, er… good luck with your studies. A sparrow could be properly fantastic, I think. I wonder what I'd try to become?" He turns to Nora. "What about you, Nora? What animal would you want to be able to transform into?" He has another chip.

Nora looks thoughtful, at that; despite having asked the question she hadn't thought about it herself. It actually takes her a while to come up with an answer, and the best she manages is, "Cat, I guess? That is, I'd hope for that. I don't think I'd get it, though." She shrugs. "I suppose it's not a very interesting answer, either." Wow; a couple sentences, and her expression went from thoughtful-cheerful (when she said 'cat'), to sort of neutral, to downcast and pessimistic.

"I understand. It would be frustrating not to be able to learn if the person you're dependent on isn't really available. But I do hope you'll visit me in Hogsmeade on some of the weekends? The other 'Puffs are missing you something fierce. They don't tell me, but you know, their chatter sinks in through all of the daydreaming." Of which Rook is downright famous for, lounging lazily in the common room behind the kitchens, all cozy, warm, and green with plantlife. Nora's behavior is downright perplexing to Rook, who glances at his cousin quizzically, scoffing softly. "Don't be dim, Honeybee. You'd be whatever you should be, and that's the important bit, innit? Whatever you are will be great, because you're pretty great."

Gus will try to give Nora a one-armed hug around her shoulders. "There, there," he says comfortingly. "I'm sure if you put your mind to it, you could definitely become a cat." A passing Muggle man happens to catch what Gus says and gives the little group a mystified, confused look, but hurries on his way. Gus struggles not to laugh. A wistful, bittersweet expression comes over Gus' face when Rook tells him the other Hufflepuffs miss him. "Do they?" he asks. "I… there've been no letters or — or anything. I figured, out of sight, out of mind." His voice breaks a little bit. "Even Douglas dropped off the face of the Earth." Doug being his best friend and a Gryffindor who has not been seen or heard from in some time - it's assumed he eloped with his long-time girlfriend, Medusa Malfoy.

Honora's face reddens again. Don't hug her in front of Rook - he'll probably tease her about it later! "That's not how it works, you end up with something based on your magic or your personality or… something. I just like cats." She mutters not-quite-under-her-breath, "I'd probably end up as a bee, with my luck." She's quiet through the exchange about Hufflepuffs, but comments afterward, "You can't think nobody missed you. There's just a lot of distractions, being a student. If people take time to write it's usually home, to family."

"And why not a bee? You've a greenthumb, don't you? It would make sense, and bees are quite useful. More useful than bloody cats." There's a small wink for his cousin, and then Rook is shaking his head ruefully, his manner suddenly solemn. "After everything that happened, Gus, I don't think most of us knew what to say. What could you say? How are things? We're sorry? Sorry doesn't seem like enough, and we kind of all knew how things might be, and…" Rook lets out a low breath and bites his lower lip. "But we really should've sent something, and I do apologize. I honestly don't even write my mother mostly."

"Is it?" Gus asks, dropping his arm since Nora's evidently so stiff about it. He slides a couple of inches further away from her, looking a bit awkward, like maybe he thinks he stepped over a line. "Cats are nice," he agrees, still awkwardly. He shrugs then. "Not a single letter, is all I'm saying," Gus says quietly. "So how was I to know? But you're probably right - everyone was busy. I was busy, too. I suppose I could have written to people, myself." He shrugs, a bit uncomfortable, now. He looks solemnly at Rook, and nods after a bit. "Look… I'm not angry or anything. And I do get it. Don't feel bad, yeah?"

The Summerbee seems conflicted, not quite turning her head to glance at the retreating Rousseau. Unaware that he simply picked up on her shyness, she's thinking, 'Did I say something wrong?' and similar things. Oh! She talked about writing home to family, when part of the context is Gus losing a family member. Obviously she offended him with that. Well… maybe she can salvage things with a change of topic. "So. Um…" Possibly it would have been better to think of the new topic before speaking.

Oblivious as always, Rook stares at the pair of them with his green eyes rather owlish in expression, blinking. "Did I interrupt something, perhaps? A date? This is a date, isn't it?" Visibly, Rook winces and backpedals a step. "I'll shove off. Nobody wants a third wheel hanging about when they're on a date. I'm making things awkward. It was terribly nice to see the two of you again. I hope things go well!" Beaming at the both of them, Rook is scurrying away towards the vendor of fish and chips before giving either any chance to argue about why they're here together.

"So…" Gus says back to Nora, just as awkwardly. He stuffs about three chips into his mouth and chews busily, staring down into the newspaper cone. Then there's Rook and his talk of dates. Gus inhales so that he can refute that, but some of the chips go down the wrong pipe and he ends up coughing half-chewed bits of chips all over the street. He leans on his knees and coughs, red in the face, embarrassed, and short of breath. "Ack!" he wheezes.

"Rook!" It's kind of annoyed, frustrated, embarrassed shout - and while shouting is mostly uncharacteristic for Nora, it's probably not the first time the Lovegood's heard this tone from her, honestly. Honora turns to face Augustin, then, flustered. "Sorry about that. Um. I'll see you again sometime?" She doesn't wait long for a reply; he can probably get a word or two in before she retreats.

Gus coughs a few more times and then takes out a handkerchief to wipe tears away from his reddened cheeks. "Definitely," he manages. "Sorry about that. I, er… I know you don't like me. I didn't mean to make your cousin think the wrong thing." He gives her an embarrassed smile. "Let me walk you back to the Leaky Cauldron, at least."

Gus's reply stops Nora. It seems she can't bring herself to flat-out contradict Augustin, but neither does she agree with him. She nods to his request, says, "Okay," softly, and walks back with him. She makes a point of walking close, not keeping her distance. Too shy for anything more overt than that, though.

With that, Gus will walk Nora back to the Leaky Cauldron, and he'll try to find a neutral topic of conversation, something to make her smile on the way.

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