(1941-05-09) A Hop, Skip and a Train Ride Away
Details for A Hop, Skip and a Train Ride Away
Summary: Grayson and Roe travel to Hogwarts the old-fashioned way, giving them a chance to discuss centaur culture.
Date: May 9th, 1941
Plot: Centaur Civil War

Platform 9 3/4. It cannot help but bring back memories — for most people, happy ones. But Grayson doesn't appear to be altogether thrilled when he meets Roe here this morning. He smiles at her, but there's a grayness to the smile, as though it were a fire trying to spark in damp ashes. He has led the way on-board, carrying two overstuffed rucksacks as though they were feathers. Either he is stronger even than he appears, or he has worked some sort of enchantment to keep the weight off.

Finally finding a private compartment, Grayson settles down, setting the rucksacks on the ground before stretching out across one whole bench, casually using its arm-rest as a pillow. He's dressed in simple traveling robes, above what looks like a leather vest. His pants are thick wool, and dyed a strangely mottled pattern of gray and green.

Roe is, typically and perhaps unhelpfully, as cheerful as ever this morning; greeting her companion with a warm smile of anticipation and practically dancing onto the train in his wake, a complete contrast to the burly man's demeanour, to the eye of any onlooker. While not nearly so intimidating, she's actually dressed in a vaguely similar style to Gray, foregoing her usual bright palette and clashing patterns in favor of comfortable tweed slacks and a black blouse beneath her own robes, her dark tresses loose about her shoulders. "..don't know why you look so glum.." she's saying, pleasantly, as he slides open the door and they step into the compartment together. "..would you like a chocolate frog..? A peppermint wand, perhaps?"

As Gray promptly takes up a prone position along one bench, the young lady closes the door and takes a prim seat opposite, hands clasping about her uppermost knee. "I know you'd likely have preferred to use the Floo Network.." She tries again, awkwardly, after a moment of silence. "..but.. I'll try not to bore you to tears. I promise. Besides.. it's rather fun, isn't it?" The brunette can't disguise her own excitement, those green eyes straying to the window with a broad grin revealing dimples in her cheeks. "Being here again."

"You're never boring," murmurs Grayson. He turns his head to study Rowena, smiling as she questions him. "I'd certainly accept a box of Bertie Bott's Every Flavoured Beans," he says crisply. And then he swings his feet around and sits up. "But understand, Roe, it's not particularly fun for me, riding on the train again. I'll try not to be a spoilsport." And this time he smiles, more genuinely. "What will be fun is going into the Forbidden Forest. That'll certainly cheer me up."

"Tell me, have you been in touch with any of the professors? I really would love to see old Dumbledore again." He smiles at some memory, leaning forward a bit. "He's the one who got me into the Beans, you know. He'd slip a few into his robes during classes, and I caught him out at it. So he shared."

"Oh, I know I'm not. I'm fascinating. But you have homework, remember?" Roe produces her blue notebook and waves it across at the man with an amused quirk of her brow. "Centaurs: A Beginner's Guide. If you're good, I'll buy you some beans before we arrive. If not, I'll still buy them, but I'll pick out all the nice ones and leave you with liver and tripe." Well, that's that settled in a very mature and adult fashion. "I'm sorry.." Despite the teasing, the young woman does look genuinely contrite as she recalls Gray's experience of Hogwarts, so different from her own. "But.. well, this time you're with me. And we're off to do very exciting things! So do cheer up. You're not a First Year anymore."

Opening the book in her lap, the cant of her head as she looks down to the pages has Roe's hair tumbling forward, prompting her to raise a hand and tuck it behind her ears absentmindedly. "I haven't been in contact yet, no. Though I'd hoped to make a start in the library, as our first port of call. With any luck, we might manage to steal a few moments of their time." A vague smile tugs at her lips. "..Kettleburn's easy enough to find, anyway. But it seems to me that Dumbledore may provide further insights as to the political aspect, which is really what we ought to focus on."

"Aye, please. Pass it over and I'll start work on it." At the idea of something scholarly to do, Grayson does perk up. "And yes," he says a moment too late, "You are fascinating, my dear." He ignores the threat to his favorite candy as, perhaps, beneath his considerable dignity. "And don't worry. If anyone calls me a Mudblood this time, I shall simply vex them with a jinx and have their ink-wells follow after them for a week." He grins at the idea, his mischief spilling out. "Without their lids."

He begins to produce things out of one of the rucksacks — a small journal, a quill, a small jar of ink. "I'll take notes on the books.. unless, that is, you'd like to come over here and read it to me?" His smile is roguish as he pats his knee.

"You're terrible." admonishes the woman, though it's murmured with obvious amusement.. and she doesn't exactly specify whether she refers to his mischief or roguishness. She does stay put, though, merely flashing a smirk toward Gray and handing her notes across to him. Rummaging in her own bag, Roe produces another tome, this one considerably older and very dull, if one's the sort to judge by a cover. "You make a start on that.. and I'll answer any questions you have. From over here, you scandalous creature."

Turning, she draws up her feet and scoots back, resting her shoulders against the window and bending her knees to serve as props for her elbows. Settling quite contentedly to her reading, already? This may be a rather snooze-inducing trip after all, if that's the case.

Luckily, she practically has her notes by rote, at this stage. And she's capable of multitasking, flicking a page of her own even as she addresses the dragonologist. "Did you know centaurs don't actually mate for life? Hmm. No, they court, produce offspring, oversee their raising.. but they don't stay together forever. Just another facet of their culture that's different to ours, I suppose. Oh, and they can live to ninety, or thereabouts."

"I knew an old gaffer in his eighties, when I was a boy," muses Grayson. "But ninety, on average — that's quite an accomplishment." His eyes are twinkling as he studies Rowena. "I might not agree with you about their mating habits, however; certainly, in public, we pretend differently — but I'd wager there are enough marriages that have ended in private to give you a gasp of surprise. It might just be a difference in what we say we do."

He begins to read through the Beginner's book as well, falling silent for awhile. The train begins to move, and soon London is being left far in the distance. Grayson takes in a deep breath at the first sight of green, as though its want has polluted his lungs in some way. "Ah," he says as he exhales. "Now that is better."

"Well no, obviously not everyone is monogamous forever, or marry for love or any of that nonsense.. I did mean, yes, more of the expectations of our society, honest, realistic, or otherwise." Roe doesn't look up from her reading, perhaps preferring to avoid the sparkling gaze she knows is on her. "..perhaps, in a way, they're far more civilised than we are."

Leaving Gray to his reading, she settles her mind back to the same, presumably. Or maybe she's mulling over different matters entirely. It's impossible to say, with Roe. Either way, she's in such a reverie that she glances up, startled, when her companion eventually speaks again. "What? ..oh, yes, beautiful isn't it." There's a smile again as she twists to look at the spectacular English countryside as it passes by behind her shoulder; a rare day of pleasant blue sky, too. "I adore London.. but every now and then it is nice to get away and remind oneself that the colour green exists, in abundance."

"Perhaps they are." Grayson seems to be willing to accept the idea, at least. After all, he's a man who has spent time in exotic cultures. He considers Rowena for a few moments before beginning to take notes. "It is relevant, however. It might mean that there's less aggressiveness between the males, and between the women as well. That's a valuable thing to know. If they're angry at each other, it has to do with reasons other than mating." He makes a note.

"I cannot abide being in a city for too long at any one time. I begin to grow antsy. It wasn't this way before I left, of course.." He trails off for a few moments. "I suppose you could say that I 'went native' over there. Even started playing their board games."

"One might expect.." murmurs Roe, idly turning a page, "..that their problems would be rather more.. well, tribal, for want of a better word. Disputes over territory. Concerns over food, or lack thereof." A delicate sniff. "I think the great duels fought in the name of love, or merely blind infatuation, are entirely the invention of mankind. And generally a means to cover up the true, underlying schemes. Helen of Troy. Juliet. Hailed as romantic heroines, actually pawns in the politics of men. It's rather demeaning, if you consider it too carefully. If centaurs are indeed wise enough not to concern themselves over such fancies, then they are indeed wiser than we."

All that being said, the little brunette rouses, at last, at the mention of games. "Board games, you say? What sorts do they have? Could you show me..?" And just like that, she's down off her metaphorical soapbox and regarding Grayson with wonder and intrigue all over again.

Women are such fickle creatures. Perhaps that's why the beautiful ones always seem to feature at the centre of destruction and wrath.

"I entirely agree. In many cases, women are merely used as excuses for male exhibitions of violence. In other cases, the woman gets assaulted on the street and forces her companion to interfere." Grayson seems amused, rather than heated, as he reminds her of the recent encounter. "But certainly it's not about love — no, wars are fought over pragmatic reasons. Or if they're idealistic ones, they're terrifying. Nothing more frightening than a true believer."

"I don't have my Go board on me, but I can certainly show you when you get back. You'd have to come over to my apartment, however. It's too large to transport." Though he says it without undue inflection, Grayson's eyes do glitter at the idea. Perhaps he's merely laid the game out as a trap?

"It was you they were looking at." retorts the brunette, flashing a look toward Gray. Warning or petulance? Who knows. But she doesn't press the matter further, instead sighing and closing her book. Stretching out her legs along the seat, she lays the tome flat in her lap and clasps her hands atop it, still eyeing the man opposite with a displeased twist to her lips for a moment.

How lucky for him that fortune favors the owners of boardgames. Relenting - and seeming to entirely miss the promise of ulterior motive in his gaze - she nods in enthusiastic agreement to the idea. "I'd like that. ~Well, you know. Assuming we're not killed. Or taken as hostages. Or waylaid by any other horrendous escapade I force you into."

"Even if we do get captured, I'm quite confident in our ability to eventually escape. The real fear is torture, you know. Is there anything in your notes about whether they torture their prisoners?" His tone is matter-of-fact rather than worried. "I am certain that even if they do, we can have some sort of contingency plan in place. Perhaps Professor Kettleburn will agree to come rescue us after a certain number of days." The idea seems to amuse him.

He changes the subject, however, perhaps thinking it an uncouth topic of conversation. "Go is a rather simple game to learn, but it takes men lifetimes to manage. You simply attempt to trap your opponent, while securing your own territory on the board. It's similar to chess, but…harder."

In spite of herself, Roe pales just a touch as the question is put to her. "I.. well, no. I don't know. P-perhaps Kettleburn might..? I mean.. they.. probably just kill unwanted intruders, don't they. They don't strike me as the sort to be interested in what useless drivel they could torture out of a human.." Poor thing, she looks genuinely rather.. well. Grey. Clasping her fingers a little tighter together, she averts her eyes, gazing out through the window unseeingly. As ever, it's easy enough to read her. Has this venture been an undertaking too enormous for such a young, inexperienced witch? Is she actually likely to die and therefore prove Grayson Loring completely correct? How unspeakable. It might be amusing to him, in the manner those who have faced true peril become accustomed to. But the notion of danger is still foreign to her.. until he reminds her, in moments such as these. The git.

Far too late, the brunette draws a slow, very quiet breath; hoping he won't note her discomfort - though how can he miss it, the way he's always watching her? - and swivels her dark-lashed eyes back in his direction as he changes the subject. "Why do I find myself thinking you'd be very good at such a game, Gray..?" It's a half-hearted jest. If umm.. rather accurate.

Grayson's face changes as he observes the fear he has caused the young woman. Genuine regret touches his features; he stands, moving across the compartment and sitting next to Rowena, resting a heavy hand on her shoulder. "Listen, now," he says quietly. "We are some of the best of our age. We're the most talented. We both know spells that could kill a man in an instant. And we know a thousand others besides." He rubs Rowena's shoulder lightly.

"You're going to be just fine. Just stay close to me, help me with the cultural bits, and I'll pick up on your cues. I'm certain we're not going to be captured. I swear we won't." A dangerous thing, between wizards, swearing. "And actually..I lost most of my games, even when the man who taught me would give me a five-stone penalty."

"No.. no, it's alright. I have to be realistic. What is it they say? ..hope for the best, prepare for the worst." Visibly straightening her shoulders in a vague gesture of defiance and assertion, Roe nods once, firmly, aside at Gray, as he settles beside her. "I'll always admit when I'm afraid, Gray. And I'd be an idiot not to be. And you don't want to go wandering into the forest with an idiot, now do you." Her smile, though a touch tremulous, is returning as she leans fractionally toward the man, curling her legs beneath herself out of the way. "..but I'm not crippled by it. If anything, I find being afraid makes me more astute than usual." Like when it comes to dancing lessons, for example. She doesn't say it aloud.

Nodding along with Gray's reassurances, her complexion recovering from that ashen pallor slowly but surely, Roe can't help but snort in amusement at the belated admission from her colleague. "..really? I'd have thought you'd be a natural." She raises her head a little in order to regard the scarred man with mock appraisal, arching a brow. "..or perhaps I'm simply not a worthy opponent, hm? Yes, I think we should definitely play this game, upon our return." There's a telling expression in the depths of her green eyes, for him alone, and she begins to lean in toward him.. Then, as usual, a flurry of activity breaks the spell, as she reaches to pull the notebook from Gray's loose grasp, stretching past him in order to do so and grinning a little. "But for now.. study. Questions so far?" Withdrawing again, she flips to a random page.

Grayson stares at Rowena for a few moments in frustrated lust and bafflement, then he throws back his head and laughs. "Aren't you the quick learner?" He's only somewhat teasing the woman, it seems. Glancing down at the notes, he clears his throat. "It's odd, but their culture seems straight-forward enough. Assuming we don't encounter any surprises, that is. Something not in the books."

He shakes his head absently. "I feel fairly confident that we'll do alright. The only thing that worries me is the politics of it." And that does seem to worry him. His brow wrinkles in uncharacteristic concern. "And if things there have gone sour, then we simply extract ourselves from the situation and regroup."

"Yes, I am." It was rhetoric but she answers anyway, with the hint of a satisfied smile. Despite it, she's still shy enough to keep a proper distance. His arrogance is genuine. Her confidence.. not so much. "There's a lot we don't know yet, I imagine. Their language completely eludes me, for one. Their laws are.. well, somewhat confusing. We've likely not even scratched the surface with their beliefs and such." Settling cross-legged on the bench, she sets aside the notebook for the time being. "As for the politics.. I've no intention of interfering. It's neither our place nor our business. I only want to understand and offer help, should they desire it at all." A gleam of excitement has returned to her eyes as she speaks. "No one has ever really succeeded in proper contact or alliance with centaurs."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License