(1939-08-19) Black is Back
Details for Black is Back
Summary: Alphard is sent on another lunch run to Hind's, and is quite civil to Katie.
Date: 19 August, 1939
Location: Hind's Fish & Chips, Waterloo, London

Another busy lunch hour has wound down, most of the orders, as usual, taken away from the shop to wherever it is people go on a rainy Tuesday. Jack has had to come out and mop up the floor several times to tame the puddles tracked in, and he's just finishing up yet another quick pass. He turns to Katie, stationed in her usual place behind the service counter, signing to her If I have to do this one more time I'll go mad. It draws a giggle from his sister and her hands move quickly as she responds You're already mad. Go on then, before Da starts bellowing for me to hurry you up. Sometimes I think you're lucky that you can't hear him. This comes with a playful protrusion of her tongue, returned with a rude gesture from Jack that has both siblings grinning.

When Jack heads to the back with his mop there's blissful peace in the restaurant for a moment.

The door opens and in comes Mister Black himself. He's without his extravagant black robes today, and feels oddly naked as a result. It seems very odd to just wear his grey tweed suit. Even by Muggle eyes it's a smart piece of tailoring, abeit one that is at least fifty years behind current fashion. But these aristocrats keep to their traditions, don't they? He stomps and shakes his umbrella, muttering under his breath as water dumps down onto the floor. A nice big puddle, it is. There's water leaking from his face, too, and pasting his rich dark hair close against his forehead. He wipes it sideways a bit, self consciously. Damn side-ways rain, and damn not being able to just wand the water away.

With a sigh he straightens up, then looks around the interior. He spots Katie, and the mopper. Though stiffly done, he still gives a nod. Then he approaches the counter.

"Good day," he says in his crisp upperclass tones.

It's never quiet for long in the chip shop. As Jack moves near to get past, Katie lightly snaps a towel at him, laughing again as the rude gesture is flashed. Jack makes no indication he's heard someone new arrive, because, well, he hasn't. But Katie looks to the door at once, her bright amusement tempering as she spies the rain soaked Alphard. "Mister Black," she greets at once, light concern touching her words. "Yeh look like summat the cat dragged in, if yeh'll pardon me sayin'." She reaches under the counter to produce a fresh towel and offers it out to him across the space. "It's hardly a fit day t'be out an' about, 'ave they sent yeh on another errand run?"

She's dressed as might be expected once again, in a light summer frock, this time plain cornflower blue, beneath her white apron. Her hair is held back today, pinned on each side to keep it from falling into her eyes as she works. And she's considerably drier than Mister Black himself.

"Bloody weather," Alphard complains with annoyance. He takes it personal, that the skies have decided to open up today when he has errands to run. Unfair, it is. Let the multitudes be drowned in water, but leave some clear skies for the likes of Alphard, who has taken such time and effort to be presentable. He labors out a most significant of sighs as he reaches the counter. "Quite so, quite so, you're preaching to the choir, young Miss. Unfortunately the people I work with do not seem well versed in civilized behavior. You'd think the Ministry would be a place of polite discourse and civil understanding. Alas, it's a nest of vipers, believe me. Bloody bastards!"

Suddenly he goes shifty eyed. He remembers that the people he is bringing lunches for actually likes this place, and probably comes here quite often. He looks around. Then he clears his voice. "Uh, you're not going to say that to anyone are you?" The towel he takes, not so much with gratitude as simply his due. He dabs off the worst of the rain.

The outpouring of quietly dignified outrage has Katie looking amused, although that's something of a perpetual thing for her anyway. There's also sympathy in her eyes for Alphard's bedraggled state, and no surprise at his words. Her head shakes quickly, "Nay, Mister Black, I'll not be repeatin' anything said. Tis no one's business but yours, mine and the walls. I'll not blame yeh for the upset, it's understandable on a day like t'day." As she talks she turns, fetching a cup and pouring some tea from a pot, then setting it on the counter in front of Alphard. It might not be up to his usual standards, but it is hot against the very slight chill of being wetted down like he is.

"Thank you, Miss.." he trails off. Though obviously all she is doing is her job, servant to her customers that she is, she is also being accommodating and polite enough that his upbringing demands he also behave up to standard. It's so much easier when the plebs are rude and gruesome, and so allow him free license to indulge the more vicious corners of his personality. "I'm afraid that I've forgotten your name if you gave it last."

The accoutrements for tea, nearly anything anyone would want to add into the hot brew, are in their usual place off to the side of the counter, near to a glass holding two semi-wilted daisies. Three days on, and they're a little worse for wear, but they still do something to brighten up the dreary day. "Katie Hind," she supplies willingly, taking the now damp towel back when he's through mopping himself up. "I only caught yer name through Xander sayin' it, only we were never properly introduced." Having been given leave to address Xander in a more familiar fashion, she doesn't even think to use the more proper Mister Tully as she had before. "Have they sent yeh on with another list then?"

"Of course, of course. Yes. I remember, now. Uhm." He extends his hand. His fingers are bestowed with both graceful lines and the suggestion of underlying strength. For all his posh background, he has some callouses on his palms, the sort that comes from a fanatic pursuit of Quidditch. Brooms and beater clubs wielded through endless hours are not kind on soft skin. They are, perhaps, most similar to that of a polo player, or a high level fencer. Or a carpenter wielding a hammer all day long, though he would surely hate the comparison. "Right. I am Alphard Pollux Black, at your service, miss."

A list is produced from one of his pockets. It's a bit damp, but still readable. He offers it to her.

Katie isn't hesitant to reach out and slip her hand into his with the greeting. Her own is soft, but her grip is reasonable, not as if someone just slapped a dead fish into Alphard's palm. Although she hides it, one must be adept at keeping one's expression schooled at times in the service industry, she's surprised at the callouses she can feel against her skin. He certainly doesn't look or act the type to do any sort of hard work at all. She doesn't put it to voice, but it's enough to pique her ample curiosity.

The hand is promptly released. "It's my pleasure t'properly make yer acquaintance, Mister Black. Please call me Katie, if yeh've a mind." She doesn't address him by his own given name, nor does she request leave to do so. The list is accepted, almost a duplicate of the one from his first visit to the shop, and it gets a quick scan even as she's turning to call the items back to her parents in the kitchen. The customary "On it, Bug." is called back to her, and her attention returns to Alphard. "Won't be long," she assures him brightly.

Well trained, when he takes her hand he only holds it with enough pressure to make it personal, warm flesh on warm flesh, rather than squeeze to the fullest extent of his power. Neither does he make it limply dismissive, though surely he could. Afterwards he absently wipes it clean against the towel. It does not look like something he is even conscious of doing.

"Very well, Miss Katie. Thank you." For the promise of quick delivery. He picks up the cup of tea, finally, and takes a sip. That he doesn't grimace with absolute disgust is a sign that the is passable, albeit not exemplary.

He stands there, looking awkwardly ill at place with his surroundings. finally he clears his voice. "So, Miss Katie. Is this.. uhm, a family business?"

She would never admit it, but there's something slightly entertaining in Alphard's discomfort with his surroundings. Katie is the sort who can find a way to fit in just about anywhere she goes, but for the extremely posh places, and those aren't exactly on her daily list of places she can be found. The fish out of water awkwardness of Alphard reminds her briefly of the aristocratic ducks she and Xander had bandied about on the past weekend, and she suddenly finds a spot on the counter that needs wiping away.

The question brings Katie's attention back up, settling on Alphard. "Aye, it is a family business. Da bought the place nearly twenty years ago, as a place t'start 'is family off on the right foot. It's been fair kind t'us through the years." She glances back toward the kitchen briefly. "That was my brother, Jack, that yeh might have seen when yeh came in. It's just the four of us to run the place." And since he began a line of inquiry himself, she doesn't feel it out of place to unleash at least a little of her own curiosity. "An' yer place in yer Ministry…. is it permanent, or part of the education yer gettin'?"

"Summer apprenticeship," Alphard replies. He produces his purse again, levying out a dollop of Muggle coinage. Unfortunately something else slips free. It's gleam is cozy warmth, that most precious hues. Gold. He quickly snatches it up and away. "Uhm. Bit of foreign currency. Forget I had that." Because there are so many places in the world who deal with gold coins in these modern days. "Though quite fought over. Really, they barely take anyone in at all, in the.." Auror's office. "Ministry. I had to work hard to catch the right people's attentions. It'll look quite good for my application next year, when I'm done with school and intend to join full time." Talking about it leaves him oddly conflicted. On one side he is quite proud of himself, and on the other side he's rather miserable with the actual day-to-day work he's being put to.

"Family businesses are the best, I find. There's tradition to them. Even if it's.." Muggle traditions of no actual worth. He shrugs. "With time and effort everybody who puts their minds to it, why, they can make something of themselves. It's a matter of just trying hard." Because being born to a filthy rich family with a million connections has, of course, required him to work so very hard.

Katie's interest in Alphard's answer is as obvious as just about everything else about the girl who wears her emotions on her sleeve. She doesn't comment on the gold coin; she works in pence and sometimes even the odd pound, and she'd have no idea if there's a gold coin that the peerage use regularly. Just because she's never held one doesn't mean they don't exist. Instead she comments, "Yeh must be right chuffed then, havin' landed such a prime spot. Sounds like yeh've a bright future ahead." She doesn't dwell on the looming threat of war, preferring to look at happier things, like a good education leading to a secure job. "I can't think of any that try harder than Da, wantin' t'support his family an' give a good life t'Jack and me. He tries t'be the best at all, an' raised us the same." Thus her natural inclination toward kindness, especially to their customers. A reputation can be made or broken on a single visit.

"I am, indeed. Though.." he pauses here as he tries to consider what might be the appropriate name for a Muggle war department. The Aurors are, after all, as much as a standing force of arms as the wizards have. Even if they also do law enforcement. "Uhm, War.. Office.. uh, well. I expect it'll be dangerous work in times to come. But I feel that, doing something meaningful really is important in this day and age, you know? It would be so much easier to take just a normal desk job, but well, if men of true talent pass the buck, then who are you left with? Well, the dregs of society, the ones with nothing to lose and no care for tradition or society, only their own advancement. Would you really want to hide behind those sorts? Well, I wouldn't. You wouldn't know the end of complaints I'm getting from my parents, though. They want me to take a cushin job." Somehow he can both sound utterly pompous and quite genuine.

He nods absently at her story. Not that he cares, much, but still. It's the principle of the thing. "Good for him. I respect someone who works hard to better themselves." They'll still be beneath him, of course, but perhaps their great-great-great grandchildren will be worthy of notice.

"That's very brave of yeh, Mister Black," Katie says sincerely, "Both in wantin' t'do somethin' that matters an' in standin' up to yer folks about it. I can't say there are all that many t'have that sort of backbone." She doesn't question his self assessment of being a true man of talent, she hardly knows him well enough to have her own opinion, so his opinion is good enough for her. While some would see him as nothing but pompous, Katie is artful at giving the benefit of the doubt. To her it's self assurance. Sure, with a sprinkling of pomposity, but she's a generous soul. "I was after wonderin'," she says, veering the subject slightly, "If yeh ever allowed yerself t'try the scraps from yer last visit? I'm keen t'know, if yeh did, if they were perhaps better than yeh might have expected, or worse."

"Well. Nobility is not merely a matter of birth, it's a question of character," Alphard says with a firm nod to Katie. "Toujour pur. That's the motto of House Black. People always assume it's just about marrying properly, but I always figured it meant staying true to one's purpose. Always pure, and pure in purpose and dedication." He looks down at this tea, squinting, then takes a quick sip. He leaves the dregs behind.

"In any event. Uh. Well. I can't honestly say it was my kind of food. Something about it was.. off. I don't know what. Still, I'm sure it was great food by your standards. Certainly the people in my office seem to enjoy it."

Katie nods, saying agreeably, "Not everything is meant for everybody." She's seen things that posh people eat, and much of it would be things she herself couldn't stomach. So hoity toity and, to her, much of it based more on the cost of the item than how it actually tastes. She does allow as much as she notes, "I don't wonder that there are things yeh take as a matter of course that would do little for my own digestion. I'm a simple bird with simple tastes." The familiar ding of the bell seems to punctuate her words, and she turns, gathering up the order, putting it on the counter so she can commence with the newspaper wrapping. Again, she gets an empty box from beneath the counter, filling it to make carrying easier for Alphard. "An' how long is it, until yer back off t'school?" she asks as she wraps.

"Certainly there are acquired tastes that necessitates one to train the palate until they are properly appreciated. Some good garlic snails, for example. Some people can't tolerate their texture." But of course from the sound of it, Alphard quite likes them. "Or a good wine or ale. A child is like to spit either out. I remember the first time my mama," and doesn't he just do the most faux-french pronunciation there, "offered me a taste! Ha!" Despite himself, he smiles. When it's not a twisted grimace of superiority, Alphard has quite the charming smile. He shows a bit of pearly white teeth, too.

"You ought to expand your horizons a bit. Look at your betters, Miss Katie, and emulate them. Aspire to be something, too, by becoming like them!"

Katie arranges everything in the box just so, making sure nothing will get squashed on Alphard's return trip. She even puts extra papers on top of the whole shebang, to at least help against the falling rain. "I'm always keen on tryin' new things, Mister Black," the young woman says as she looks up, catching that genuine smile. He is a handsome lad, when he doesn't look like he's just eaten something sour. "There just isn't always very much of a chance to for a simple lass like myself." As always, she doesn't bristle at his remark about her 'betters'. The upper class are so very fond of themselves sometimes, and it rolls off her like water off a duck's behind. "Now… I think that'll at least offer some protection until yeh get back t'yer Ministry."

"Thank you, Miss Katie," Alphard says, giving her a polite and measured nod in response to her service. As he did last time, he slides her a piece of coin. For good service. It's a hard lived penny. He takes up the box and fold it underneath his arm. "That's very diligent of you." Which he considers to be quite the compliment! "Until next time." Because he is surely going to come by again at least once or twice more before Hogwarts starts up its season.

So he turns around and begins to head towards the exit. Muggle food under one arm, his umbrella held in the other, and a dread for the piss-warm rain that's outside waiting for him.

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