(1941-05-01) Dinner and theatre and fistfights, oh my!
Details for Dinner and theatre and fistfights, oh my!
Summary: A late evening in London turns briefly sour for Roe and Gray.
Date: May 1st, 1941
Location: London streets
Related: Guess Who's Going to Dinner?

Stepping back into the chilly evening, Grayson Loring holds the door for his companion. The streets are dark - even now, after the Blitz, many Londoners have opted to keep their lights dim. And above, giant zeppelins man the sky, their cables streaking down to earth. It might be easy to forget, in the Wizarding world, but a great war rages just beyond the shores of England.

But into the dark streets the pair go, along with a horde of other theater-goers. As Grayson had promised, many of the young men and women dress in very similar clothing to Roe — some are even more blatantly underdressed. It appears to be something of an affectation; a young man wearing rough workmen's clothes eyes Grayson with something approaching scorn.

"Well?" Grayson's question is gentle as they leave the opera house. "What did you think?"

Momentarily distracted as a far more guaudily-dressed young woman elbows her way through the door and by, knocking her off balance and warranting a glance aside, Roe nevertheless maintains her footing and responds to her companion a moment later as they set off into the night. Well, surely someone in so beautiful a dress has every right to barge past. She doesn't mind. "..I liked it very much." The answer seems genuine enough, though the redhead's delicate features are pensive. "Though.. well, it was rather umm.. judgemental. I suppose it can't be helped, Muggles fearing magic, equating it with devilry. But still. It's rather unfair. That Mephi.. Mepha.. demon chappy seemed a frightful cad."

Pushing her hair back from her face in a habitual manner, Roe glances about the quiet streets before regarding Gray beside her. "Did you mention you'd seen it before? How did this production suit you?"

"Quite well. I thought the leads were spectacular. But yes, it is rather judgemental." Grayson is silent for a few moments, offering Roe his arm before speaking again. His voice is contained, if a bit prideful. "But then, most of the interactions Muggles have had with the Wizarding world have mostly been unpleasant. The ones that, somehow, they remember. Before things were more rigidly enforced."

As they walk down the street, Grayson seems ever-so-slightly tensed. Not ready for trouble, necessarily, but alert. A predator, moving over unfamiliar terrain.

"Oh, the acting was sublime." On this, Roe is quite agreeable, slipping her arm through his even with that distracted air about her expression. "It was merely the depiction I found saddening. Just because Faustus turned to the Dark Arts.. that's not the only sort of magic, is it." Her green-eyed gaze strays, trailing toward a young Muggle couple strolling on the opposite pavement, past a long-abandoned greengrocer's. "I suppose it is simply better to remove ourselves from their world, for their own good.. despite those who seem to believe we are somehow 'superior'. I don't think we are. No more than I think we truly have the right to dictate the way of life to centaurs or dragons do we have the authority to demand Muggle recognise us as 'betters'. It's an awful way of thinking. Such arrogance."

That's the most she's said all night, really, beyond idle chit-chat and the smalltalk shared over the hasty dinner. A mere glimpse to assure Gray that yes, there is a sharp mind beneath the ditzy exterior. And heart, too. Roe notes the man's tension, turning her eyes upon him and offering a wide smile; unaware of the reasons but offering some sort of comfort all the same. She, of course, merely bumbles optimisticly through everything life throws at her. Plainly she's prone to forgetting things are different here in the Muggle world.

"It's a play about warnings, you see, Roe. Pretend the magic were something else — pretend he sold his soul for some other fantastical power — and the story would be the same." Grayson's voice is keen, even a bit enthusiastic, as he elaborates on his own thoughts, latching onto this insight into the young woman's thoughts. "It's one we in the Wizarding world ought to pay particularly close attention to. Faustus.. Faustus could be Grindelwald, hungering after more and more power over others."

And yet, even as he talks, his gaze is drifting up and down the street, noting the others on it, noting the areas of light and dark. It's not even a conscious thing, apparently. The exquisitely-dressed man does all of this without thinking.

"I suppose. I just.. I wonder how much people do recall, on some level. They can't honestly believe the idea of magic is entirely fantastical? I think they remember.. and I think the fear that comes along with those recollections is what they cling to. A shame, really. But understandable, too." The mention of Grindelwald elicits a subtle shudder from the young woman, tangible through their linked arms, and she doesn't venture further along that line of conversation. Having such affection for Muggles is tantamount to a target on one's back, in certain circles. But she's stubborn enough to hold on to her beliefs.. just quietly.

An obvious enquiry occurs to her, and she regards Gray in profile as they stroll along the streets, blissfully oblivious to their surroundings. "..take your own kin, for instance. How exactly did things go for you, when you discovered your own abilities?"

There is a long moment of silence from Grayson. He lets it draw out a few seconds more than is comfortable. "I fell out of a tree. I was four or five. Oughtn't have been climbing that high, really. I fell, oh, five or six meters. Quite far. And then I stopped falling." There is a moment of silence. Off in the distance, beneath an extinguished lamp-post, three young men loiter. Perhaps Grayson is studying them.

"Mother was… well, they've had to put her into an institution several times since then. She didn't take it well. Father was sent off to India, but I rather think he volunteered." The man gazes at the three toughs thoughtfully, but the distance in his expression hints that, for the first time, he's lost his situational awareness. He's seeing something else. "I remember floating there. And then Elliot just walked up and scooped me up. No fuss. He never seemed to mind it."

Brilliantly, Roe does follow this glance, noting the three figures up ahead but paying them little mind. Why would she? Especially with Gray commanding the majority of her attention when he finally decides to speak again.. Turning her face up toward him, the young woman listens intently. She doesn't ask anything unless she's interested in the answer, after all. Though, she hadn't meant to get quite so personal, this being still their first meeting and all. "An institution? Oh my. I'm terribly sorry, I didn't know.. I mean, I didn't realise it could affect Muggles so dreadfully. Wouldn't a well-placed charm, perhaps.." Trailing off, it seems the Scamander has at last remembered herself and their surroundings, as the trio visibly rouse and nudge one another at their approach. She's not afraid - hasn't the street smarts to be - but she's a woman. She knows when a lecherous glance or comment is forthcoming and she visibly shrinks against Gray's side in seeking to avoid it. "Maybe it's best that he was their choice of guardian, after all.." She murmurs, before casting her eyes toward the other, better lit side of the street, longingly.

Too late for that, perhaps. Predators sense fear.

Something in the way that Roe curls into him awakens the latent instincts in him and Grayson's eyes snap back into focus. "Yeah, it was." And there it is — as simple as a switch turning, pure cockney bubbles out of his mouth. He doesn't seem to notice his own transition. "Elliot's a good man. Taught me a lot of things over my summer vacations." His gaze doesn't leave the three younger men.

"We may want to go another route home, darlin'." And he pauses there, on the cobblestone sidewalk, considering the options. His hazel eyes glance sideways at the Scamander girl as the toughs continue to murmur to one another. "Remember," he says after a few beats, "No magic, eh?"

Well, she didn't mean to look scared. But there's a very basic threat when one's faced with a group of males, especially once their attention has turned to you. Bugger. Still, there's a pleasant moment of distraction as Gray's accent switches.. Roe isn't exactly fluent in Cocney, of course.. being rather the more 'plum in mouth' sort, herself. She eyes him askance as they draw to a nhalt, then simply sets aside the curiosity for a more suitable time.

"I know.." she murmurs, in regard to the use of magics, "..I'm not the one done up like a tart's supper, Gray." That's about as crass as her 'slang' will allow, thank you very much. And it's a good point. Gray does look the sort more likely to have the heavy pockets. Deciding to brazen it out, with the typical blind optimism of the naive, Roe offers a cheerful smile toward the trio, tugging her companion into motion gently and making to walk right by them with an (apparent) total lack of concern. "Evening!"

Reluctantly, Grayson follows along after the young woman as she draws near to the toughs. It's not quite how he would have engaged, but, well — one must make do with what one has. And so he quietly disengages from the woman's arm and ducks his head, allowing discomfort to show on his face. Feigning fear.

"Here now, lovely. Rude to just walk on by." One of the other men whistles, a two-tone catcall. The three spread out on the concrete. One of them grabs at Grayson's arm. "How about it, mate? You got the time?" The other two snicker at this obvious overture to violence. And Grayson's head snaps up as the hand closes around his bicep.

As the fellow yanks, Grayson 'stumbles' forward. And his forehead connects solidly with the first man's nose. "Roe, back!" The instant it takes to say these words cost him; the two others sweep in at his sides, and there is a dizzying exchange. In a few moments, Grayson is backing away warily, fists up. One of the others is limping, Grayson's lip is split, and somehow his evening jacket has been ripped at the shoulder. The two toughs eye the well-dressed man warily as the stand-off lengthens to a few seconds.

To her credit, Roe does as she's told, despite the shock assailing her features as the encounter escalates swiftly.. she simply picks the wrong direction. A fourth lout materialises from the shadows, evidently part of their general pickpocketing setup and she stumbles bodily into him as she backs away. Only a hushed sound of surprise, lost in the commotion, punctuates this turn of events. An admirable attempt is made, on the young woman's part, to free herself as she twists her lithe form away.. but the ruffian is just as quick and soon has her secured in the loop of one arm, the other grubby hand settling firmly under her jaw.

Still, he's plainly caught off-guard by the predicament of his fellows, who seem to be getting their arses handed to them by some pretty-boy. So the taunt that had built on his chapped lips strangles and dies before coming to anything.

As for Roe.. well, isn't this just bloody typical. She's gone and made a right pig's ear of things, in trying to do her best. Unable to do anything but watch, eyes wide, she refrains from whimpering or any such nonsense. That wouldn't do anyone any good. Of the men left standing, both look decidedly less-than-keen to take Gray on any further. And so the stand-off continues.

"Don't fret, poppet. I'll be there in just a mo' now." Calm as ice. Focused. Grayson's cockney accent seems to also throw the two men off-balance, but then he's wading forward. And his genteel mannerisms seem like a dream, a half-forgotten thing cast aside. For now — now he is fully awake.

Fighting two men is tricky business. It's hard to use them against one another. So Grayson doesn't try. His leg sweeps out, shin smashing into the inside of one man's knee. At the same instant, his elbow smashes into a hastily-raised arm from the other gentleman. He's stepping past the falling man, who clutches his knee, yelling.

The other man takes another step back, yielding the initiative, and that's the end of it for him. Casually, like smashing an insect, Grayson stomps the fallen one in the temple. His screaming stops. Continuing forward, he eats a hasty jab in order to grab the third man's shirt-front and yank him into his forehead. Another headbutt. And another. And a fourth. The sound begins to grow rather…wet.

That lovely suit is going to be ruined. An odd thought to cross her mind, but then, Roe doesn't have a very normal mind at the best of times.. and seeing sweet Grayson suddenly take on an entirely different persona has her rather muddled, to say the least. His remark, cast toward her, prompts her captor to rather unkindly wrench at her neck and she exhales sharply, still pressing her lips in a firm line to keep from any further outburst. The man takes a step back, hauling her with him, though it's plainly prompted by the desire to flee rather than any ulterior motive with his hostage. Seeing your friend curbstomped does tend to have that effect.

Sensing the turn of the tide, perhaps, Roe decides to try and not be a hapless damsel. It's tough, without a wand. But she stamps down with all her might on the fourth thug's foot, eliciting a yelp of pain. Alas, it also prompts the git to abandon his comrades entirely, flinging Roe by her scruff toward the wall for good measure. Her shoulder takes the brunt of it and she grits her teeth, determinedly trying not to accept the tears that spring to her eyes in response and unsteadily heaving herself upright, clutching her sore arm. Ouch. But it could have been worse. With a glance in the direction she last saw the coward fleeing, the redhead turns her gaze toward the stocky dragonologist. "Gray. Gray, stop. That's enough." Hardly the voice of authority here, of course.. but it's worth a shot.

One final blow. Grayson lets the man fall to the ground and whirls. For a moment, it looks as though someone has painted his face red. He starts after the fleeing man, but — slowly — starts to come back to himself. There are other obligations, obviously. With three thugs lying groaning on the cobbles, Grayson hurries to Rowena's side. "Are you alright, Rowena?" His accent has flipped. Again.

Belatedly realizing that he must look quite a sight — to put it mildly — the bloodied wizard draws out a handkerchief and begins to dab rather ineffectually at his face. "I'm terribly sorry about all of this," he says as he works. "I should have arranged for a pedicab. Did he hurt you? Shall we go to a hospital?" The sincere chagrin in his voice draws a sharp contrast to the ruin he's left behind him.

"I'm fine." She waves him off, straightening fully.. though she does keep hugging that arm in, all the same. "It's alright.. hardly your fault, is it." Roe's voice is almost typically cheery in tone.. if it weren't for the subtle tremor underlying her words. "Come along. I'm quite sure these chaps have learned their lesson." And, just in case, in a rare moment of impulse, she hoofs one of them in the gut in passing, leaving him rolling and clutching at both his stomach and his knee.

"I'm alright." It's as much to convince herself as it is him, as she rounds a corner away from the macabra mess strewn about the cobbled street. Those green eyes regard Gray contemplatively as he comes into view beneath an actual working lamp. "Good gracious. I do hope that's not your blood." Forgetting her own bruises instantly, the young woman steps toward him, seeking to take the hankie herself and dab away the worst of the sanguine mess. He can't see how bad it is, after all. The slight frown on her brow is almost comically matronly. Lips pursed and everything.

Obediently, Grayson slows and lets the young woman take the handkerchief from him. "Oh, no. Well, perhaps a dab from my lip. It all happened quite quickly, didn't it?" His own tone is almost jolly — but there's a forced note there, as though he's trying to keep things light. He gazes down at Rowena as she wipes his face.

"I think that what you need, my dear, is a nice warm brandy at the Leaky Cauldron. Something to take the chill out, eh?" He's trying so hard to appear as though nothing is amiss — ruined suit, bloody face, crimson spots on his collar. "And then we'll have to have that arm looked at. I apologize again. It's really quite embarassing. I ought to have been paying more attention, certainly."

"Grayson." That tone is firmer now. Surprisingly so. And her gaze meets his unwaveringly as she speaks. "I have two older brothers. Do you really imagine this is the first time I've cleaned up a bloody face..? I just.. well, I thought Muggles would have more important things on their mind.." That gaze drifts skywards, rather pointedly, to the looming zeppelins. "Are you alright?" Well, the tone is sort of concerned, if a touch stern. She may be a klutz but she's no simpleton.

"That was.. rather spectacular, I must say. Where did you learn to do that?" Soft-spoken, and vividly lit from above, the redhead returns her focus to the man before her.. in particular the collar of his formerly pristine shirt, though she doesn't comment on it. "I'm not about to turn down a drink, Mister Loring.. but do me the courtesy of relaxing, at least. We're both fine, and it'll be a fantastic anecdote at some cocktail party or another, hm?"

"Well, Elliot taught me to fight, you see. I was…unpopular at Hogwarts, and of course duelling is strictly forbidden." Without seeming to really think about it, Grayson reaches out and takes ahold of Rowena's good elbow, perhaps keeping her in close. "And then after, in my travels, I've had some occasion to resort to physical violence. At times it's rather inconvenient to reach for one's wand."

"I'm truly alright, Rowena. A touch embarassed. I was distracted when I needed to be alert and those young men paid for my distraction. As for having better things to do.." He glances upward briefly as well. "I suppose unpleasantness won't go away simply because it ought to."

He begins to lead the way again, toward the aforementioned tavern. "In point of fact, I'd rather enjoy hearing you tell the anecdote. I don't think I shall be bragging about it myself, however."

She doesn't seem to mind the grasp, still fixated on removing a last smudge of crimson from Gray's jaw, before folding the hanky and offering it back toward the man, unthinkingly. "I suppose it would be rather.. improper for a lady to learn such a skill.." Her curiosity was piqued, but reality dictates that Roe is blatantly not made for such things. She'd as likely break her own nose as anyone else's. Flashing a sunny smile, she adds, "..but it seems to serve you well enough.." The notion of having a difficult time at Hogwarts is, admittedly, rather foreign to the former prefect and Head Girl. It'd be difficult to find a reason to actively dislike Roe, by her very nature. But she sympathises, all the same, and moves the topic onward, following Gray's lead both literally and figuratively. "Never fear.. I shall paint you as the very epitome of the white knight." She can't help a furtive backward glance, to ensure their assailants aren't in pursuit. They're not, of course. Still groaning in a gutter. "If nothing else… wining, dining, theatre and a fistfight? That's surely four dates cominbed into one! That's impressive!"

Laughter, now. That same deep sound that had started their evening. "And we haven't even had cocktails yet." Grayson tucks away the bloody hankie, either equally unthinking or utterly uncaring of the further ruin of his clothing. "I was rather heroic, wasn't I?" The question is almost shy.

"The Liverpool kiss might not be the thing for you, no, but I think we might come up with a few better-suited techniques for you." This change of subject seems like a bit of a relief. "It might be a good thing for you to have some unexpected tricks when we go into the Forbidden Forest. Useless against centaurs, of course, but they're not the only things we might meet."

"Or dancing." adds Roe, with mock solemnity, though she relents back to a grin almost immediately. Imagine that. She can barely manage walking on a flat surface without some disaster occurring. "And yes, you were. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have tried to walk past them. Lesson learned." That seems to be something of a favoured phrase for the hapless creature.

Following along with the larger man as he leads them toward the easily-overlooked little pub, the redhead finds herself distractedly nodding along without actually listening. Wait, what? Her, learning some down and dirty fighting? Does the man have a death wish? She gulps back her protest, not wanting to stem his enthusiasm quite yet. "Mmm, yes. Obviously. So err.. when do you think may suit your schedule to take a trip North? I'm sure Pest Advisory can look after itself for a week or so.."

The drama may as well never have happened, if it weren't for Gray's poor ripped sleeve and blood-spattered collar. Roe slips her arm through his companionably, shaking a few errant strands of copper hair out of her face as a nightbreeze stirs them.

"Well, as you know, I'm rather busy socially at the moment." Grayson grins down at the redhead, letting himself lean into her just a bit. "And of course my book requires a great deal of my time. So I might have to just check my calendar.." Here he pauses in the street, tilting his head back. "Let's see.. oh.. As soon as bloody possible? Does that suit? I hate cities."

The confession might be startling, given his rather dandyish ways here in London, but then — there is the evidence of four men in a gutter to argue that Grayson is not entirely a civilized man. He smiles suddenly. "But I do love dancing. I shall wear my sturdiest shoes, and you may endeavor to teach me the latest ballroom fashions."

"And what on earth makes you think I have any knowledge of such things?!" enquires Roe, looking suitably aghast at the idea. "No, no, no. Sturdy boots or not, it would almost certainly result in injury." It's not exactly self-deprecation when it's true. "You hate cities? Oh, I couldn't imagine living anywhere else!" That lilting, upper-class accent does suit her ever so well, even if she lacks Gray's aplomb. Her eyes roam skyward, taking in the entire lack of starlit sky above. Ironic, given they were almost mugged only a few minutes ago. "Still, I imagine it's rather stifling, given the circumstances you've bcome used to. We can leave in short order, then, as you wish. Far be it from me to keep the white knight in an enviroment he finds unpleasant."

Approaching the door of the Cauldron, Roe pauses upon the threshold, seeking the man's gaze with a warm smile. "You know, despite the violence and such.. this has been a truly pleasant evening. Thank you."

Rather genteelly — again drawing attention to his city-born aplomb — Grayson takes Roe's hand and leans down to press his lips lightly against it, assuming she doesn't yank it away. "I quite agree, Miss Scamander. It has been the most pleasant evening I've had in quite some time."

He straightens, lowering her hand without taking his gaze off of the woman. "As for dancing, Rowena, the point isn't to be good at it, you know." Tilting his own head to the sky, he says — after a moment — "I'll prepare some camping gear and the like before we go." And a sudden smile again. "Now, tell me. Have you ever had a… martini?"

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