(1940-01-01) Hedgehogs, Strawberries, and Mistletoe
Details for Hedgehogs, Strawberries, and Mistletoe
Summary: Gus and Sybil reconnect on New Year's Day.
Date: 1940-01-01
Location: Twilfit and Tattings

As yet another winter's cold evening is falling across the city, inside the Twilfit and Tattings is a young woman sitting at a plush chair having some refreshing tea and biscuits. It looks as though Sybil might have been completing a bit of shopping here.

Coming into the shop is Augustin Rousseau. He's dressed in somber dark blue robes with a black mourning band around his arm, in memory of his mother, presumably. Despite his attire, he doesn't look like he's been crying or anything. His cheeks are pink from the cold outside, his hair a bit disarrayed by the wind, and there's a little smile on his mouth. Seeing Sybil with the tea and biscuits his eyebrows go up. "Oooh, tea," he says, gravitating toward her. "Something hot would be just right. Is there enough for me?"

Sitting up, Sybil was just about to take a sip of tea and then she hears Augustin. Her light blue eyes light up with a sparkle and she smiles immediately. "Augustin! It looks like the cold wind outside gave you a kiss on each cheek." she says with a light laugh. Gesturing to a seat nearby, "I was just finishing a day of shopping here, trying to think of what accessories to take this year." As her eyes look him up and down slowly, she asks, "How are you doing?"

Presuming there are extra cups and a hot kettle, Gus pours himself a cuppa and sits down, too. "How are you, Sibby? It's been a while, hasn't it? How's… er… Gerald?" He nods a bit at the shopping. "Here to get myself fitted for a few new robes. My mourning's almost done, now. And I wanted to get Lizette something." His little sister, who just started Hogwarts this year - Gryffindor.

Sybil laughs, "Who?" on the boy's name being mentioned. "Oh, Gerald? I don't know, I hope he's happy. I honestly don't know as we don't cross paths. And your little sister is going to be starting school? That's wonderful! Maybe I'll be able to steer some friends her way." the last said with a wink. She looks towards the windows, the reflection of the chandeliers glinting back. "I'm sorry with what happened, if there's anything I can do to help please do let me know?"

"She… already started," Gus laughs. "She's first-year, now." He holds his hand up. "About yea high, blond, red-and-yellow tie?" Her condolences sober him a bit. "We're… we're good, thank you, though." He gives her a little smile. "So… you're graduating soon, yeah? What NEWTS are you taking?"

Sybil taps her head, "Ahhh, I thought you meant in September coming. What a terrible friend am I if I don't know that your sister started already?" She shakes her head, clearly disappointed. With a sip of tea, she sits back. "I'm taking potions, herbology, charms and transfiguration. With a dash of divination and muggle studies for electives this year." again.

"Well, that's an exciting schedule this year," Gus says. "But next year… do you know what NEWTS you'll focus on?" He gives her a smile. "You Ravenclaws always show up the rest of us and take… what? Seventeen NEWTS at a time?" He's joking a little, teasing a bit.

Sybil says "Well seeing how exams are next year, I don't think I can take any other classes. Otherwise I won't have time for parties or seeing friends, right? I'm still torn though on what I want to do. Do I want to write? Or be a healer? A divided mind is a terrible thing."

"Better than no mind at all," Gus says, pulling a long face and nodding ponderously. "Like me. Barely passed my OWLS, me." He sips some of his tea. "So. Can I ask you something quite serious? I feel that, as the more intelligent of the two of us, you'd likely come up with a better answer than I can."

"I found that the wisest of answers usually comes in the form of silence as a response, but if you're willing to hear me I'm willing to listen to your question. What might be on your mind, Augustin?" asks Syb with a grin.

Gus grins at her. "I've always wondered, Sibby. When one turns a teacup into a hedgehog, where does the consciousness come from? Does the teacup, when it turns back into a teacup, ever remember being a hedgehog? Or is it simply relegated into being an inanimate object, with no possible way to know it was ever something alive? When it is a hedgehog, is it simply acting like a hedgehog because of the magic, and doesn't actually have a brain to tell it to act that way now that it's four legs and pointy fur? Because… if we bring it sudden consciousness, and then take that away again… isn't that awfully cruel and confusing? Suddenly… a hedgehog! But how would it know how to be a proper hedgehog, anyway, having never had the experience until a few second ago? After all, it had no hedgehog mother to teach it hedgehog behavior, like eating food and digging in the dirt and curling into pointy little balls. Does it simply come into existence, have just enough time to feel awe and wonder and fear, and then… disappear again, without so much as a by-your-leave?" He lifts his teacup and stares contemplatively at it… and then drinks a bit more tea.

Syb's hmms a bit in contemplation. "The issue of the whole idea about identity I'd wager is dependent on viewpoints. By that I mean the two views of internal and external. What is Sybil? You could maybe describe me by my physical attributes or what your feel you can delve in my inner being. And then I could describe myself too, and chances are we'd quite possibly describe two different beings. The hedgehog will view itself just as it is and no more. The cup I think would act as a cup. In essence, while our physical attributes might change, we act as what we believe we are. A little homework for you Gus dear, go look in the mirror and tell me what is staring back at you."

Sybil adds, "It is not what you are, it is who you are. Right?"

"Hm, challenge accepted," Gus says. He rests his chin on his hand and looks her over from crown to toes. "You are… a girl. Very pretty, blond hair, blue eyes, flawless skin." He winks. "Much like many others, I'd dare say… outwardly at least. But inside? What do I know of Sybil? Ravenclaw… smart. I know you love parties and you've got your ear to the ground. Your taste in blokes is…" he grimaces. "Well… not the best. Which means there may be hope for me, eh?" he flirts with a wink and a chuckle. "As for me? I'm easy. What you see is what you get. Cute boy, hard worker, devoted older brother, dutiful son… and I'm modest, too."

"Rarely what you see is what you get. If anything, it just makes it sometimes even more difficult to judge," replies Sybil. "And what are you planning on for this new year? Oh, did you get your good luck kiss for the new year at all?"

"This year?" Gus repeats. He smiles slowly at her. "No, I didn't," he admits. "But I do have a few hours left in the day." He drops his voice half an octave and looks at her over the rim of his teacup. Flirt alert! "Why? Are you volunteering?"

Sybil has a grin of mischief washing across her lips. "Maybe. I don't want a friend starting the year out with bad thoughts. Come, we'll do it properly. But only if you're finished with that tea."

Gus downs the tea in two gulps and puts it to one side, then stands and offers her his hand. "And what's your idea of a proper kiss, Sibby?" he asks, grinning down at her. "Candle light, roses, violins?"

"That's not actually a -bad- suggestion, I'm glad you're offering. It ought to be the nicest place that will start our year positive. Have you any ideas in mind?" asks Sybil as she stands up, smoothing her cloak.

Gus can always go shopping tomorrow, after all. He holds out his arm for her. "I know just the place," he says. "Do you trust me?" There's a teasing little twinkle in his eye for a second.

Sybil puts a hand lightly on his arm rather than linking it, and checking once more that everything is perfect she says "Is that a challenge? Hmm. Alright."

Gus was quite the gentleman as he escorted Sybil through wizarding London. Once he stopped in a store, asked her to wait, and was back out again in just a few minutes, but empty-handed. And then they walked leisurely here, to his own shop. He unlocks it and holds open the door for her. "Welcome to Rousseau Vineyards," he tells her.

Inside, there are about 100 candles, and a picnic blanket on the floor, and setting out the picnic is a young man about ten years old dressed in formal robes. He has bright red hair and freckles and a gap between his front teeth. "Hullo, Mr. Rousseau, hullo, miss," he greets them. "I'm your waiter for this evening." He gestures to the picnic. "Let me know if you need anything." Gus turns to Sybil. "Mademoiselle, shall we sit?" He holds out his hand to help her down.

"My name is Vince!" pipes up the boy. He blushes behind his freckles, and Gus has to work not to giggle.

Sybil has a touch of pink to her cheeks from the cold air as they move outside, but when they reach Rousseau Vineyards and the inside of it she seems…pleased. "How very debonair of you." towards Gus before she smiles beautifully to little Vince. "You must be the master of the evening then?" she asks him while she waits for her cloak to be taken off. Taking Gus's hand and sitting down, folding her legs underneath her, Syb takes a long look around before she looks back at her entertainer. "Are you sure you didn't plan something like this?"

"That stop earlier?" Gus reminds her. "Vince here is working off a debt. He ran into the store a week ago and broke a rather nice bottle of wine - playing games with his fellows, you know. I told him we'd be even if he played the waiter tonight." Vince nods vigorously the entire time. "It's why we strolled so slowly," Gus adds. "To give him time to set this up." The picnic plates are real china, and the blanket has a cushioning charm on it, making it very comfortable to sit on. "What's on the menu, Vince?"

The boy glances into the basket, which is up on the counter, and starts to recount the items inside. "Um, strawberries, cold asparagus in vinaigrette, cold chicken, little raspberry scones, biscuits, hot dark bread, cheese…" He trails off. "That's it, sir."

"And any wine you want," Gus tells Sybil. "But not too much, wouldn't want to send you home tipsy."

"Mmm, strawberries and raspberry scones sounds delicious to me. I'll pass on the other things though, wouldn't want to be so full you'd need to roll me home." says Sybil with a giggle. "As for wine, just a tiny bit won't hurt. Right? I heard it warms the insides, and on such a cold night that might be nice." asking Augustin for confirmation. "Maybe something red? Hmm, what do you recommend?"

Gus quickly selects a wine and uncorks it, then pours them each a glass. He hands hers to her, and then seats himself. Vince brings over a little plate of raspberry scones and strawberries for Sybil. "I'll have a bit of everything," Gus tells him cheerfully. "Oh, and don't forget that last thing," he reminds the boy. Vince nods, and quickly brings Gus his plate. "You," Gus says to her, "Have the cutest giggle. Has anyone ever told you that?"

Sybil tucks a strand of hair behind her ear, shaking her head "Did that line work on the last girl?" she asks with a smirk. "Two points up for the amazing setting, one point down for the bad line. You're still up by one." she says as her nose scrunches a little as she giggles. Selecting one of the strawberries, she plucks it up by the large end and with a bite, slowly sucks the juice and half the berry as her lips wrap around it. Mmm! Chewing thoughtfully (and slowly), she asks "Are you going to be holding any amazing events here? You should hold something in spring!"

Gus laughs. "It… wasn't a line," he says with a smile. "I've already got you on a date… so… no lines needed, really. It was a genuine compliment." He leans back on his hand and sips his wine before picking up his fork. Then he stops everything and watches her eat that strawberry with an intensity not usually seen with him. A blush, barely seen, rises in his cheeks. "The, er, spring?" he asks, his voice husky. "I thought perhaps another fundraiser… for the war orphans," he says. "An auction of sorts, you know."

Sybil plucks another strawberry from the plate, holding it by the greenery and she replies "A fundraiser for war orphans? Hmm, it could be a good idea although it might be a bit tricky to navigate people's feelings of being guilted into showing up and then thinking poor of you. Maybe." She takes the strawberry to her lips, once more gently biting into it and savoring the sweetness as her lips lightly clasp around the red fruit. Sucking the juice and chewing, she thinks a bit more. "Spring is about life and renewal. How will you make your fundraiser event focus on re-energizing the populace that desire to go to your event? Maybe sometime between April 1st and April 15th? That way I could come."

"I… just figured I'd put up signs," Gus says. "Rousseau vineyards hosts a charity auction for war orphans, date, time." He shrugs. "No guilt involved, and attendance is always voluntary. Last year I had a spur-of-the moment thing and it went rather well, actually. I see no reason that a bit of planning won't make things that much better this time around." Again, he's mesmerized by the strawberry-eating. He slowly smiles at her and shakes his head - oh, he knows what she's up to. And it's working. Remembering that he's got food, too, he has some. "Well, I'll see what I can do about that," he tells her. "But if other businesses are going to be in on it, which I'm sure they will, the date might not work out for you, sorry."

"O, you don't want me to come. I see." says Sybil quietly, looking dejected. Her eyes though might be more fox-like in cunning as she's watching him for his reaction.

"Ohhhhh," Gus drawls. "I most certainly do want you to come." He sips his wine, keeping eye contact with her the entire time. And the ten-year-old Vincent? Totally bored, now, fidgeting a little bit where he's standing by the picnic basket.

Sybil smiles then, "Good, because if you want me to come then I just might show up. You seem to enjoy parties, or at least hosting company. That's something I like." Setting down the eaten bit of strawberry she looks towards the bored Vincent and says to Augustin, "You know you could have him like a page boy, dressed in house colors or wearing your label on a lapel pin fixed to his coat. Wouldn't he look cute?" With a grin, she nods to her idea. "So a spring charity auction. What will you have up for auction?"

"I hope you do," Gus says. He glances at Vince, who looks confused by Sybil's suggestion. "Ah… I think after tonight he's free of debt and can go back to being a boy," he says with a grin. In answer to her question he says, "Wine, of course. Every year my father experiments with new recipes, just limited amounts, you see. Some of them are excellent, and I've convinced him to put some of them up for the auction. Usually he gives them to friends, and they're quite in demand."

Sybil says "Your family's name and label are the delight on everyone's lips it seems, highly sought after. You must very proud of that. Mmm! And that leads me to propose a toast." as she takes her small serving of wine in the glass. Holding it by her fingertips she smiles to her host beautifully. "To a new year, and a new start. May health be given to those I love and wealth to those who love me." She makes a gesture of her glass towards Augustin.

Gus lifts his glass to the toast, gently touches his class to hers, and then drinks to it. Then he holds his up in a toast as well. "To the new year," he starts. "To living life to the fullest and… to making new friends out of old acquaintances." Vincent, apparently thinking that was his cue, pulls out a long stick from behind the counter - possibly a mop handle - and holds it over the two diners, fishing-rod-style. Dangling from the end over their heads is a sprig of mistletoe, the red berries especially vibrant in the candlelight. Gus laughs. "Well, er… shall we?" he asks her, still chuckling.

The sound of glasses clink as they come together to the toasts, and Sybil glances upwards at the dangling mistletoe. This has her by surprise, but a pleasant sparkle shines in her candlelit eyes as a smile spreads on her lips. "Bravo, Augustin. Bravo! Alright, you've most definitely won your special new years kiss." She shuffles to be on her knees, setting the wine glass down. And with a few shuffles, she moves towards him with her hands held palm down. To clasp?

Gus quickly matches her posture and clasps her hands in his. He leans in slowly and softly touches his lips to hers. He tastes like wine. It's tender and sweet - and in now way gross enough to earn the totally grossed-out look Vince gives them. The little boy makes a gagging noise (very quietly) and Gus, hearing it, laughs against Sybil's lips.

Sybil has lips that are sweet with berry juice, although Augustin at this proximity might note she's wearing a light perfume… citrus fruits, flowers and woods, stirred with an icicle. Right as the lips press against each other in a tender touch of a kiss, her breath is caught and her eyes flutter closed. Only when the light kiss is finished does she let her breath out slowly, a quiet sigh..although her eyes still are shut. Poor Vincent. Perhaps unseen to the boy, the barest of motions on her thumbs against Augustin's hands can be felt.

Gus sighs happily. "Well… I suppose… I should escort you home," Gus says reluctantly. Vincent's skinny little arms wobble from holding the stick out, and he starts to pull it back. "Can I go?" he asks plaintively. "Sir?" Gus turns and nods to him and the boy puts down the stick and runs out of the shop, fast as a bunny.

Gus escorts Sybil home, and they part company with smiles.

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