(1939-08-15) Like a Black out of Water
Details for Like a Black out of Water
Summary: Alphard is sent out on an errand from the Ministry to collect lunch.
Date: 15 August, 1939
Location: Hind's Fish & Chips, Waterloo, London

It's a fair Friday in London, and while the sun may not be shining down brightly, at least the overcast isn't threatening rain. The lunch hour is just beginning, and Hind's Fish & Chips is already doing some measure of business, but the rush hasn't hit in full force yet. The whole family is present in anticipation, Mr. and Mrs. Hind in the kitchen making sure everything is organized and starting on the first orders for early arrivals, Jack is on hand for heavy lifting and kitchen help, and Katie is at her usual spot at the counter.

"If yeh'd like t' 'ave a seat, won't be half a tick for yer order," she says to a couple of roughly dressed workmen, her accented words cheery. The pair shuffles and sits as suggested, falling into their own conversation as Katie turns to call through to the kitchen, "Y'got that, Mum? Two cod, chips, mushy peas, one pickled onions and a chocolate sponge." She rattles the order off easily, the older woman from the back, sounding very much like the young redhead, calling back an affirmative answer. Satisfied, Katie turns to straighten a pile of newspaper sheets in the moment of quiet.

Wavy red hair is pushed carelessly behind her ears, out of the way of her eyes, although there's a piece with a mind of it's own that flops down every now and then. She straightens her apron, making sure that her flowered summer frock is safe from most accidents. When a little bell rings, she turns, picking up an order from the window, wrapping it quickly in newspaper as she calls out, "Aye, Dinny, yers is up." A young man steps forward to collect his meal, a quick exchange of money and friendly banter, and then he's on his way out through the chippy's open door.

The young man sweeps into Hind's Fish & Chips with the imperious attitude of a self-important aristocrat. Though the term 'man' is perhaps over stating things a little bit; he's still traversing that difficult marcherland between childhood and adulthood. Name him seventeen, and one'd be right on the spot. He's quite tall for his age, with broad shoulders and a leanly athletic build. His dress immediately marks him as different from the rest. There's the three piece tweed suit, grey of hue and of a style that is a few years off the mark. It's the sort of thing only the most backward looking of landed nobility wears as a day-to-day affair these days. Over it he has a flowing robe, of all things, night black.

Alphard sniffs. He looks around the place as if he's surrounded by the most filthy and disgusting dregs of humanity possible. It's with tentative steps he makes his way towards the counter. His spine is stiff and erect, his chin lifted so high he risks getting a neck kink. All the better to haughtily look down on everybody. He licks his lips and waits his turn.

"Ahem," he declares, then looks down at a piece of paper. He doesn't read it outloud, instead pushes it forward. "I'll have this." Whatever this disgusting muggle food is.

Katie has been seeing odd characters coming in for meals for much of her life, so she doesn't bat an eye when the tall young man sporting a robe makes his entrance. She might even look a little bemused, catching his look around, noting how he holds himself. He's not the first apprentice to be sent in from the Ministry, and the seasoned workers do seem to take a bit of perverse pleasure in sending those who might least want to make the trip into muggle London. While Katie has no idea of the exact origins of these 'errand boys', she takes it all in stride.

"Afternoon…" she pauses, then corrects, "Well, it's still mornin' really, innit? Mornin' then, and let's see what y'need hm?" One hand comes out, small and fairly pale, to take the slip of paper, and blue eyes drop to read through quickly. It's obviously from regulars, since they've not requested anything that isn't typically available on a Friday. Katie looks back up, having to do a fair bit of tilting her own head back to make up for the rather large height difference between the pair. "It'll take just a few," she informs Alphard in her bright way, "If yeh'd like t'ave a seat, an' can I getcha a cuppa while yeh wait?"

"Yes, yes. Good, uh, morning. A very.. uh, nice one at that. Right. You know what these things are, then?" The tone he uses is dubious, while his accent is distinctly upper class. The dark haired boy is the type to even look down on his fellow wizards if they're not well bred enough. Let alone if they have an ounce of Muggle in them. His look around the shop is over, and he returns a pair of dark pensive eyes on Katie. He blinks again, somewhat surprised that she's reasonably attractive, and not all that off from his own age.

"A.. cup-ah?" He inquires then, blinks. "You mean a cup. Of course." His thin lips press tight together in a grimace of displeasure. "Do you know how to make tea? Proper tea, that is. I don't think I'll sit down. I prefer to stand, thank you very much." He glances at the tables, finding the idea of having shared one with a Muggle to be deeply offensive.

The first question has Katie nodding, and while it's a little odder than normal that Alphard asks, her only reaction is a fleeting look of curiosity. It's quickly wiped away, and the young woman nods. "Aye," she says, then half turns, raising her voice just enough to carry to the kitchen. "Three cod, one haddock, two chips, four mushy peas, two bread an' butter, an' four raspberry sponge." There's an agreeable response from the back, this time a mature male voice, "Aye, Bug, gettin' on."

Katie's attention is immediately back on Alphard, warm smile settling on him. Rather than taking offense at his grimace and questioning their tea, she coughs lightly, turning to cover her mouth and her amusement. "We do 'ave proper tea, sir, I promise yeh that." She turns her attention briefly to getting the offered cuppa, served in a real china cup and all, placing it onto a tray along with the usual tea accoutrements and setting it on the counter near to Alphard. "We do 'ope it'll be t'yer liking." The words aren't patronizing, but rather hold a note of sincerity even with the amusement still dancing in her eyes.

The workmen at the table waiting for their own order pause their conversation a moment, looking over, as if they have taken some measure of offense on Katie's account. But, with her reaction, or lack of, their attention quickly returns to their own business.

While he is a fair handsome boy, his airs of arrogant superiority unfortunately ruins the effect rather completely. His posture is unnatural in its' insistance of exaggerated airs. "I see," he says, not at all believing that the tea they might serve will be acceptable to his palate. None the less he makes a vague gesture to say that she should commence in preparing one for him.
He catches the look those workmen gives him. He gives one back. Straight, eye to eye and showing not a hint of unease. His confidence is either completely unearned, or downright worrying. He smiles, too, a hint of pearly white teeth and lips that drip with contempt. Come try it, you filthy Muggles, you!

"So this is.. a normal place to eat?" He asks as he lifts the cup up and tests it.

Katie appreciates an easy going personality far more than a fair face, but she's still not one to judge too harshly. She's well versed in the differences of class, and Alphard definitely looks like a posh boy that's been set down in an alien world. "I s'pose it would be called normal by some," Katie responds amiably, "An' not so by others. All dependin' on point of view, really." One hand flutters up to push her hair back to it's place behind her ear. She can't resist her curiosity entirely, and asks, "Yeh've never been t'a chippy before? Surely yeh've had fish an' chips." It's almost unthinkable to her that anyone could possibly have reached Alphard's age, he looks at least as old as she is herself with his height, and hasn't had fish and chips.

"What? No, of course not!" Alphard declares like the thought of him having gone to sample some low brow Fish'n Chips store is absolutely unthinkable. He even looks a bit embarassed, peering over his shoulder subconciously to check if any fellow wizards are about. There aren't any. He clears his throat. The tea is.. well, not quite up to his standards. Passable for just standing around with, however, so he continues to sip from it.

"Why on earth..? I mean, really. This is not at all my kind of place. I have a summer apprenticeship with the Ministry, however." Which Ministry? There's only one as far as he's concerned. "Those bloody fools have me running errands, if you'd believe it. I'm the most talented wi-" he cuts off, clears his throat, and then spends a couple of seconds trying to find a proper replacement word. "Wi….Uh. And willing student of my year."

Even Katie can't hide her surprise at the declaration, and her good humor falls almost immediately. Not into anger at his apparent abject horror at the very thought, but into a look that verges on woeful pity at the young man's lack of culinary excellence that is fish and chips. And still, she looks not at all affronted by his air of superiority. "Cor, tha's … well, neglectful, t'let yeh go all this time…." She lets the words trail off, not finishing her thought, letting him go on instead.

Before she can offer another response, a bell rings, and Katie turns as the orders for the two workmen are put up. "Alright there, Bug?" her father asks cautiously, having heard Alphard's tone if not the words. "Aye, Da, but could yeh add a packet of scraps t'the next, please?," the girl responds easily, taking up the food, turning to wrap each order briskly in paper. Daniel pauses a moment, looking out from the kitchen, then goes back to the preparations of Alphard's order without another word.

The pair of workmen are already standing, moving to collect their food, exchanging a few coins, and giving Alphard another look before they're out the door. Katie dusts her hands off briskly on her apron as she looks back up to the tall wizard in training. "Yeh should make everywhere yer place, an' no one can say they know more than yeh," she says mildly.

Alphard is standing by the counter, looking very much out of place. The tall boy is wearing a three piece tweed suit, grey of hue and of a style that is a few years off the mark. It's the sort of thing only the most backward looking of landed nobility wears as a day-to-day affair these days. Over it he has a flowing robe, of all things, night black. He's looking at Katie, well, Katie and the workmen who have just had their order served. They're giving him their mean faces, and he's giving them his mean faces. Class warfare in action.

"Some places just aren't worth visiting. I'm sure your world is.." The smile he gives is obviously fake, but he's trying to be polite. Even if he's a right purist asshle, he's a well bred one. "Good enough for you. But I'm used to different standards, you see."

A lanky, clean-cut young man in a dark grey business suit pauses outside the shop. Reading the sign, Xander adopts a wide grin and steps inside, taking a moment to inhale the scents and sights of the Muggle establishment. There is a bit of childlike wonder in his eyes, as if he were a child that had just stepped into some magical candy store. When his eyes fall upon Alphard Black, his enthusiasm dims just a little. But he manages to maintain his friendly smile as he moves into the queue to be served.

Behind the counter, Katie wears an apron over a flowered summer frock, and a smile on her face despite Alphard's words. She even looks sympathetic to his lack of knowledge of worlds other than his own. "Oh aye," she says, "It's all well an' good t'know where yeh belong, but t'not even learn of other things? It's cuttin' yer own self short, now innit? Still, yer life is yers t'live, turtle dove. Yeh should just think t'live it t'the fullest." She uses the casual 'endearment' purposely, always polite, yet not above a little bit of needling.

Blue eyes slip past Alphard to settle for a moment on the new arrival. With lunchtime just gearing up, the queue currently consists solely of Alphard, now that the workmen have taken their food and gone. The young woman's smile holds, warm and friendly, as she offers Xander a greeting. "'Allo, an' welcome t'Hind's." She motions with a quick wave to the chalkboard menu, listing cod and haddock as the fresh fish of the day, desserts of chocolate or raspberry sponge with custard, and the usual sides of chips, pickled onions, mushy peas. "Th'cod is lovely t'day."

"I am quite certain I'm living it as I should, thank you very much. Really, even if you don't sample dirty water, if you look at it you can still determine that you'd rather have the clear and clean kind."

At first the look Alphard gives Xander is one of crestfallen embarassement at having been found in a Muggle establishment. He runs his fingers down the front of his robes in a gesture of long ingrained habit, removing mostly invisible (and probably imaginary) specs dust from the expensive fabric. The gesture outlines his flat torsoe. Then he regains his presence of mind and shrouds himself in an aura of entitled arrogance.

"Tully," he greets. "You know how it is. Uh. Getting lunch. I've got a Ministry apprenticeship." A bland enough description to pass in current company. If he'd known how many petty errands he'd end up running.. Well. Alright, he'd probably still have applied. Nobody else knows, so he can still preen once he's back at Hogwarts.

Xander gives Alphard a polite nod, commenting, "That's good, Black. I'm there, myself. I'll probably see you around. Ah…" His eyes trail down the robes Alphard is dressed in, but he bites his tongue, as addressing the issue would only draw more attention to it. Instead he glances at the indicated chalkboard. "Perfect. The cod does sound…" His voice trails off a bit when his eyes finally fall on Katie, really looking at her for the first time. "…lovely." His cheeks show some colour as he dips his head in a bashful smile. "Ah…yes, cod. And chips. That's assumed, isn't it? Right…I'll have that." He fumbles in his pockets, feeling first his coin purse, then checking the other pocket for the leather wallet containing Muggle currency.

Katie's amusement seems to actually kick up a notch with Alphard's very prim assessment, whereas others would take decided offense to it. She studies him for a just a moment, before saying agreeably, "Aye, I'm certain yeh'r doin' just that. Yeh look like a lad what knows his mind entirely." At least Alphard stretched his limits enough to drink the tea while he waits, and Katie can consider that something of a victory in the class wars. One battle at a time.

Her amusement turns to mild interest as the pair obviously know each other, and she notes the names as they address each other. Black means nothing to her, not like it would to someone in their world, but if he were to ever venture back on another errand, she would have a name to place to him. To each of them, in fact. Xander's smile is a nice contrast to Alphard's ramrod straight seriousness. "Cod an' chips," she echoes, then turns, but there's already a voice coming from the kitchen, her father again, repeating the order for a third time to let her know he's heard. "Ta, Da," Katie chirps. When she turns again, she holds back from speaking up again, thinking to let the pair talk since they know each other. It would be rude to intrude too much now. She watches Xander a moment as he pats his pockets, before she straightens the already tidy stack of newspaper pages on the counter. Since Alphard's order is larger, and is taking just that bit longer, she does speak up to make the same offer to Xander as she had to Alphard. "Cuppa while yeh wait?"

When Xander takes in Alphard's robes, the dark haired boy briefly contemplates whether he should have taken them off before going into the shop. No. Tossing away his wizard robes, even this light summer affair that barely breezes about him and is open in the front, well, it would just be too much at once. So the scion of House Black just pretends like nothing.

Of course he ought to be paying. He too produces a leather wallet. He looks at the content without a clue what anything is worth. It all spills onto the counter. Metal flashes and dances and shines, bouncing about brightly. He glances at Xander, then at Katie. Hopefully.. it's enough, and she'll just pick what she needs. It might not be, of course. Though he's been as polite as he can be, running errands and making coffee wihtout protest, well, there are those who still pick up on his natural arrogance and feel compelled to play pranks on him. They might even think it's for his own good, being brought down a peg or twenty.

"It's not that I'm saying your water is dirty exactly, just that, well." His water is better. He's trying to find a more polite way to say it, but failing. There has to be some point for effort, right?

"Cuppa?" Xander stares at Katie blankly for a moment. "Oh! Tea. Of course. Where is my head?" He chuckles nervously, shaking his head and making a vain attempt to play it cool. "A cuppa would be grand, thank you." His gazes shifts to Alphard and his dancing coins, his brow going up at the young man's words. He has generally avoided conflicts with Alphard and his ilk. But perhaps dating the feisty Briar Crocker and joining her Mud Club has had an impact on him. So, he can scarcely help himself when he asks, "That what, Black? If the water isn't dirty, why not drink it?"

Katie slaps her hand down on the counter, stopping a coin before it can roll off to the floor, and pushing it back toward Alphard. It takes her a moment to string together the thought that a posh one like him, never having been in a chip shop before, might even have had someone taking care of his needs to the extent that he's not good with money. Upper class doesn't always translate to socially adaptable. Without any fanfare, she separates out enough to pay for his order, leaving it there for a moment as she makes sure any other errant cash is accounted for and makes it back to Alphard.

The girl's easy smile turns to more of a grin as she notes for Xander's benefit, "It's on yer shoulders, as expected, where heads generally are." She turns away from the pair of wizards to pour Xander some tea, again in a genuine china cup so perhaps the shop isn't all that low class. Milk, sugar, lemon are all still on a tray on the counter by Alphard, and she slides it toward Xander as she sets his cup down. Before she can add her thoughts to further the discussion of dirty water, the little bell from the kitchen rings and she turns to begin gathering up Alphard's order, wrapping fish and chips in newspaper and setting them aside, her hands busy but her ears on the conversation to see where it progresses.

"Because it's still bloody stale, Tully," Alphard says archly in Xander's direction. He puffs himself up until his chest is straining against the fabric of his fine tailored clothes. "And there's better water, and anyone who knows even a smidge about water wouldn't even have to ask that question. But you obviously don't, and you never have. Really, I'm amazed you haven't caught some kind of sickness yet with that attitude."
He flashes Katie a smile. It's not entirely without its charm, but again, that sense of superiority spoils some (or all) of its effectiveness. "Thank you," he says, and scoops up most of what is left. A coin - he again has no idea what it's actual value is - is pushed in her direction. "For good service."

Xander has to pinch his lips to contain himself at Alphard's response, but there is clearly an impish laughter in his eyes. "Fair point, Black. We must avoid stale water. I mean, some water is positively Ancient." He puts special emphasis on that word that the Blacks so love to attach to their house. "Can't have that."

He gives Katie a grateful smile, feeling a bit more confident after a little verbal jousting with Alphard. "Thank you," he says, lifting the cup and blowing gently on the surface of the tea. "I was told that I simply had to come here for lunch. Hind's has quite the reputation at work."

While the two wizards do their jousting, Katie presses her lips together to hide the full extent of the humor she finds in the situation. She's young, but wise enough to know that the posh miss some of the truly finer things in life by thinking that they already know all of the finer things in life. She grabs a small box from under the counter, setting the wrapped fish and chips in it, turning to get the desserts and sides, adding them to the box as well. The last item she picks up is a little folded packet, which she shows to Alphard before it too goes into the box. "These are scraps, bits of the batter from the fish fryer. Y'might try a bit of adventure, y'don't have t' tell anyone, an' take a sip of the stale water." Her eyes drop to the coin that Alphard has pushed forward, a halfpenny that she picks up. "Ta, Mister Black, 'tis very kind of yeh." She's judging that Alphard is the kind that would be pleased to be addressed formally.

There's no further comment on the verbal exchange, but Katie does look to Xander with pleased surprise lifting her brows. "It's very good t'know that, I do hope we meet expectations. I b'lieve we get fair trade from there." Alphard isn't the only wizard that doesn't bother to take his robes off before venturing in, so they're about as easy to identify as a magistrate with his powdered wig on. She assumes, in fact, that the Ministry is just another branch of government, with their own odd ways.

"Ancient means pure, not stale." Each word is spat out with vehemence. "Something you would know nothing at all about. But that's hardly a shock to anyone, Tully."

"Unfortunately," Alphard mutters -loud enough to be heard evn if he doesn't intend for it to be - when it comes to Hind's reputation at work.

"I.." He eyes the 'scraps' that Katie pushes forward. Is she serious? Yet he's not all revulsion; part of him is oddly curious. Certainly he's about as purist as they come, is Alphard Black, but mostly his purism is a matter of indoctrination than any actual serious thought put into any of the hateful nonsense he tends to spew. He can't quite decide, and so his hand hovers somewhere halfway towards the forbidden. No. Yes? Xander well tell. But isn't this the sort of thing Xander does all the time? But he'll still tell. No. Yes?

"I though ancient meant 'very, very old'," Xander mumbles in mock confusion. Once, not so long ago, Alphard's barbs might have struck more deeply. But there's a certain feeling of superiority, having left Hogwarts, and Alphard, behind to join the world of working adults. He tries not to seem too smug, but he cannot entirely hide it, eitiher.

Xander's eyes follow to the box of scraps, lighting up a bit. "Go on, Black. Try one. They're delicious." He extends a hand, inquiring of Katie, "May I?"

Katie must not have heard Alphard's mutter, or perhaps she just ignores it, and there's a gleam of adventure in her eyes as she tries to charm the pure-blood snake into venturing out of his basket, if only just once. "Aye, there's plenty," she allows to Xander. In the next moment, after he's had a chance to snag a bite, she reaches out to lay her hand on Xander's arm, gently urging him to turn as she says, "Did yeh happen t'see our picture of th'King? He went past down th'road once, it was a thrillin' moment, with all the guards an' horses an' a grand carriage an' all." If he turns it would put their attention squarely off Alphard for a few moments. It's not a very clever ruse, but it would give him a chance to steal his own bite, unobserved.

"In this case it means both," Alphard reports.

His curiosity gets the best of him, and while Katie might not exactly win any awards for subtlety, he grasps at the straw she offers. After a quick look around, to make sure that there aren't any other wizard around to notice him, he snatches up a piece. He has clever and elegant hands, even if they also have a certain strength to them. The morsel is held delicately between his fingertips, with minimal chance of making a mess, and then he takes a bite. Nobody saw, right? He rolls the flavor around in his mouth before he swallows. Then he takes another quick bite to finish it. Not because he likes it, of course. Not at all! But because he's hiding the evidence. Surely. Then he takes a quick second piece, just to be sure that he doesn't like it. Ahem.

Clever or not, the hand on Xander's arm draws his attention entirely. Pretty girl. Touch. Thoughts work very not in brain. It takes him a moment to pull his eyes from the redheaded young woman to the indicated photograph (staring a moment, expecting it to wave or something before reminding himself this is a Muggle shop), but he is obviously paying zero attention to Alphard's "distaste" for the scraps. "Oh…he passed right here by the here? I mean, by the shop?" He gives her a lopsided, boyish grin.

Katie isn't entirely aware of the brain scramble, as she catches Alphard's move from the corner of her eye, and then his return to the forbidden fruit that are the scraps. She nods to Xander's question, "Right past, big as life an' twice as regal. Da held me up, an' when I waved, I'm sure that th'King waved right back, right t'me." She pauses a beat, then lets her hand drop, looking for a moment to Xander, his smile returned, before her attention goes on to Alphard. "Y'think about it, alright? Take 'em with, maybe in the dark of night, when yer belly grumbles, yeh'll have a change of heart." *ding!* "An' that would be yer order, Mister Tully," Katie says as she turns to retrieve it, quickly wrapping it in paper before it has any chance to begin cooling. She pauses again, for the first time actually frowning as she looks down at the wrapped package. "Hm, that doesn't seem exactly right. Half a mo'," comes just before she walks from behind the counter and disappears into the kitchen.

Two pieces has to be enough. Even if Alphard is a boy who is still growing, still stretching, and who in general has a progideous amount of energy. His mother complains that he can eat a horse. He shows remarkable self restraint in keeping his hands off the rest of the food available. He pretends that it was nothing at all to his liking, though whether he's particularly successful or not..

Xander is ready to accept his order, hands out, when she takes it away. What's she up to? "I-…I'm sure it's fine?" he says after her, never wishing to be a bother. Still, with her gone for a moment, he has a chance to murmur quietly to Alphard, "Hey, Black. Next time leave the robe at the office. Statute of Secrecy, remember?"

Katie returns in less than a minute, Xander's order now encased in a brown paper sack, the smile back on her face. "All sorted," she says simply, offering it to him. Her eyes catch his, and she adds, with what could accurately be described as a note of gratitude, "An' thank yeh for yer kindness." She didn't miss the fact that he was sticking up for the working class against Alphard's haughtiness. But they both get the same warm smile before they can be on their way. "I hope yeh both make it back t'see us."

Before Alphard can object to it, the bundle of scraps is in the box with the rest of the food he needs to take back to the Ministry. And Xander will find some raspberry jam sponge with a side of custard was added to his meal when he settles down to eat.

"I hardly need you to educate me on what is and is not appropriate, Tully," Alphard tells Xander in a quiet whisper. "I'm sure they.. wear.. you know, sometimes." With a sniff he scoops up the order that Katie puts in front of him. "I quite believe that there's nothing at all inappropriate here, and you even suggesting there is, is, well, rubbish."

The Black boy smiles at Katie again, and again it's mostly a fake smile. "Thank you, Miss. Good day." And with that he makes to leave with a brisk pace.

Xander eyes the sack curiously. It does look a bit larger than simple fish and chips. He accepts it gratefully, double-checking to be sure he's paid. "Thank you for your kindness," he says to Katie. "I'm sure I'll be back." For the food. Obviously. He makes his way to the door, taking his time to give Alphard plenty of space. But he pauses before he steps out, turning on his heel to look back at Katie. "Ah…maybe, I could…um…" For a moment he is frozen. The words won't come, and he feels heat rising in his cheeks. He gives her an abashed smile, and abruptly turns again, hurrying out.

There's something of a smirk playing around Katie's lips as Alphard makes his hasty departure, and she's already turned her attention away as Xander starts for the door. When he stops she looks up, her eyes curious as he falters, mumbles, and then goes without finishing his thought. Puzzled, she looks after him, but before she can think too much about it the lunch rush starts in earnest, and there's not much room to think about anything else for the next few hours.

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