(1939-08-04) Tea Leaves and Conversation
Details for Tea Leaves and Conversation
Summary: Gus and Nora run into each other and have an honest conversation about relationships. Friendship ensues.
Date: 1939-08-04
Location: Cafe Tasseo

If there's anything that Gus enjoys, it's a good carving. His shop is closed for the evening, but for some reason he's not home. Instead, here he is, closely inspecting an intricately carved wall panel. He holds a sketchbook in one hand, and appears to be drawing the carving he's observing - and quite well, too. He's dressed in his typical silvery grey robes, with the ever-present black mourning band around his left arm.

Honora Summerbee is, mostly, an introvert, but not so much that she can spend all her time at home brewing potions. With business slow after the attacks, she's had less time to interact with coworkers and customers as well. So here she is, stopping for tea with the intent of at least being around people, even if she's not planning on interacting with them.

Wearing a robe as usual, but not the heavy sort she wears while working and without the gloves, Nora enters the cafe quietly, trying to avoid catching anyone's eye. She orders tea and finds an isolated seat away from others, completely unaware of Gus's presence; avoiding the other customers' looks means she hasn't had a good look at anyone in here, either.

Gus doesn't notice Nora at first. He's intent on his study. He backs up a few steps, holding his sketchpad at arm's length to compare it to the real thing, and accidentally kicks the leg of Nora's chair with the back of his heel, because he didn't expect it to be out and occupied. He stumbles, flails, and loses the fight to keep his balance. His sketchpad and pencil fly one way and down he goes, landing heavily on his rear end. "Oof!" he grunts.

Nora lacks the reflexes to even attempt to rescue Gus from the fall, even if she weren't startled by his presence. Once she's able to work out what happened, though, she gets up, looking down at Augustin. "Gus? …Are you alright?" She attempts a Summoning Charm to rescue the pencil and sketchpad, then, regardless of success, offers her free hand to help Gus up.

"Hah, yeah, I'm alright," Gus says, and stands up, nominally accepting her hand, though not actually relying on it to regain his footing. He accepts the Accio'd pencil and sketchpad with a smile. "Thanks. Didn't see you there. Are you meeting someone?"

Nora shakes her head, her cheeks a little pink though it's far from the blushes Gus's seen on her the last few days. "No, I just like to be around people sometimes. As much as I like peace and quiet it's nice to hear people speak, sometimes, too, even if it's just sort of background noise." A quick glance around the room determines that there's nobody standing there with Gus, but she asks, anyway, "What about you?"

"Nah," Gus says, helping himself to a chair at her table. "Just me taking a bit of time to draw. Papa is watching Lizette tonight, so I've a bit of breathing room." He smiles at her again. "Did you order anything?" he asks curiously. "'Cause if not, let me get it for you. I've got some Oolong coming."

Nora nods, "Just tea, but I did order, yes." She's genuinely smiling now; things don't seem nearly as awkward as last meeting. "Sorry I went so quiet at the end, last time we met. Rook's parting comment left me a little flustered."

As if summoned magically, their tea arrives. Gus nods thankfully to the person who delivers it, and reaches for a cube of sugar. "No need to apologize… Honeybee," he teases a little. "I was flustered, too. Hope you set him straight," he says. He picks up the tea and inhales the aroma, letting his eyes drift closed.

"Don't start calling me that. It's bad enough that Rook still does." Nora sounds more amused than annoyed, though. "I actually haven't seen Rook since then. Presumably he's off getting ready for school or something." She looks thoughtful a moment. "It's probably better to avoid him for a while. If I tell him it wasn't a date, he might start trying to play matchmaker or something."

"Oh, come on," Gus cajoles. "It's adorable." Nevertheless, he holds his hands up in surrender. "Mm. Matchmakers are a troublesome lot. Did you know… my first girlfriend, Lillian… we actually started out just pretending to court, to throw our parents off the scent?" He chuckles. "I haven't had much luck with girls, to be honest. I tend to be… too enthusiastic."

Nora smiles but doesn't look directly at Gus, looking down at her tea before taking another sip. "I guess I can see that. My parents aren't very pushy about that kind of thing, thankfully - they're both the academic sorts, caught up in their respective fields." Silence follows for a moment while she considers the rest of what Gus had said. "Don't know how my… 'luck' would be. Lack of trying. You remember, back at school I wasn't very social. Never ended up dating anyone."

Gus looks a bit surprised. "You didn't?" he asks. "I guess I was too wrapped up in my own life that I didn't notice." They weren't best buddies, or anything, after all. "So…" he suddenly grins at her. "Alright. I have this idea. Feel free to shoot me down if it's truly awful. See… I'm too enthusiastic when it comes to dating girls. I just jump feet first, don't I, practically picking out curtains on the third date, and scare 'em off. And you've never been courted. Since we're just friends, you and I, why don't we give each other lessons?" he suggests. "I tell you what guys like, you tell me what girls like. Then when we're ready, we can go out and find people we like, and be confident in our own skills." He raises his eyebrows, and then picks up his tea, sipping it while he waits for her answer.

Nora listens attentively, her expression complex; a mix of disappointment, relief, and a brief tension at the 'just friends' comment like she was about to speak but stopped herself. Instead, she waits until Augustin finishes and replies, "I don't know that it's an awful idea, but I'm not sure I could help you. You find out what you like, what bothers you, that kind of thing partly from experience, right? It's not like I have memories of good or bad dates to refer to."

"Well…" Gus drawls. "You're right. It's probably a terrible idea." He laughs, and blushes, and runs a nervous hand through his hair. "I just…" he stops again and shakes his head. "Even if you don't have experience, surely you have some thoughts?" he asks. "For example… if I asked you what a man should not do when he takes a girl out, what would you say?"

Nora shakes her head again, more quickly this time. Nervous now. "I really couldn't say. I mean. I don't think you're the kind of person to do anything awful anyway." Question evaded, she calms down somewhat. "You're really pretty charming," a statement that makes her face redden again. "I think, when it hasn't worked out for you in the past, it's because your parents were pressuring you, or maybe you got excited and didn't give the girl enough time to get comfortable with you, or maybe just because it was a poor match. But I can't see you, like, repelling women or something."

"Well, I try to be a good guy," Gus says, blushing a bit at the compliment. "Thanks." He has some more tea. "I guess I don't even know what a — a good match would be, for me," he says. "What about you, hm? I was once told by a very reliable source that every woman has a little checklist of things they want in their future husband. Funny, good with charms, knows how to fly a broom, that sort of thing." He chuckles a little. "What's your list? Come on, I won't tell." He's just teasing her a little now, but he does seem actually interested in her response.

Nora sips tea, thinking about that. For whatever reason, the question seems to distract her from the awkwardness rather than making things more awkward. "It's interesting to think about. Difficult, though… Um. For actual skills, I'm not sure if someone that's into the same things as I am would be best, so we could share interests… but my parents have completely different talents and that seemed to work out for them. …I guess someone that could protect me would be nice, though. I'm not very good at spells; even some kid that just joined the dueling club could probably curse me easily enough." She shrugs. "I think it's more personality, though? Confident but not arrogant; thoughtful; interested in intellectual things; honest enough to be vulnerable sometimes and talk about his worries and stuff too, rather than just listening to mine." Another shrug, obviously she's feeling awkward again. "I feel like I'm being too specific and too vague at the same time, though."

Gus nods along while she itemizes her future husband, and grins at a couple of her points. "Arrogance is the worst," he agrees. Still, after she's done he's silent for a bit, thinking. "I can understand the protection bit. We live in troubling times," he says. "Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't be better to find a private tutor for Lizette, instead of sending her to school. Keep her at home, where it's safe." He sighs and swirls his tea around, watching the leaves dance through the liquid. "Any good at reading tea leaves?" he asks her curiously. "I'm rubbish."

Nora says with some conviction, "Hogwarts is safer. It's not the greatest, at times, and some of the teachers can be awful sometimes, but there's still always teachers there that care about their students, and they're some of the best witches and wizards around. They do," and here she frowns, "allow for a certain amount of bullying, especially from Slytherin house, but mostly that's the worst of it." Honora tilts her head slightly, then, looking at Gus. "So what about you? What are you looking for? Oh," Right, missed a question, "I can't read tea leaves worth anything, no. Never made any progress with divination."

"Ugh, Slytherins," Gus says. His lip curls up with disdain. "The bullying does worry me. Liz is such a little, helpless thing. She has such a big heart. I swear, if she writes to me about something untoward, I will lie in wait in Hogsmeade and cast a terribly embarrassing hex on whomever I need to." He scowls into the distance, all big-brotherly. Then he blinks, and is back to his affable self. "Me? Oh, I'm not sure. Ah…" he trails off, and then sets his teacup down, staring down at the patterns in the leaves. "Let's see. The leaves tell me that, er… I think this little hook means I'm going to go fishing. Or have fish for dinner. And the squiggle over here that looks like an M means that I have to click my heals together three times before walking through doors." He is totally making this up. "And that one, the one that looks like a little bit of flame? It means I need to stop dating redheads. Well. I knew that already, didn't I?" He laughs. "Honestly, Nora, I don't know what I want, except that she's nice, and wants a family, too, and she's someone that I can like and admire."

Nora grins. "And here I thought I was being vague." A little more seriously, "Maybe that's why you've had trouble? I mean, I know it seems like you're just narrowing your options if you make it more specific, but if you can't, honestly, tell a girl that she's who you want, maybe that's part of your poor luck. She's not special, then, she's just someone you get along with okay." She shrugs yet again. "Not that I'd know, but it's a thought."

"Honesty," Gus says finally. "I want a girl who's honest. A girl who appreciates things. Little things, like how roses smell and sunrises and holding hands. And a girl who appreciates me, and what I'd do for her." He props his chin on his hand. "I've been told I have quite a romantic streak," he says with a cheerful smile. "I want a girl who… doesn't worry when I give her presents, or fret if I've planned out a picnic. A girl who knows how to take a compliment graciously. A girl who my sister can adore, who my father would like. A girl who… can inspire me," he says. "A girl whose face I could carve into marble, someday." He sighs. "A girl who has her own things to do, though. I don't want someone to hang on my arm and simper and pop out kids. I want someone who knows what she wants, who pursues it."

Nora nods, "Keep those in mind, then. I'm sure you'll find her." She stands. "I'm going to go home before it gets too much later. Thanks for sitting with me." After walking a few steps, she glances back as if to say something more, hesitates for a long moment, then settles on, "I'm not the girl you're looking for, I think, but… friends, yeah? I like talking to you."

Gus stands up when she does, ever the gentleman. "Well, I doubt I'm the guy you're looking for," he tells her with a laugh. "But yeah, friends. I like talking to you, as well. Travel safely," he wishes her.

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