(1941-12-21) Plausible Theories, Magical and Mundane
Details for Plausible Theories, Magical and Mundane
Summary: Two veterans of the snowball battle, Nia and Zoe, discuss possible theories on how the snowmen came to life with John, who only just missed the battle, and Norman, a lost Muggle.
Date: December 12, 2016
Location: The Sip and Sonder
Plot: Snowpocalypse Now

The Sip and Sonder isn't quite crowded, but it isn't shy of a good number of folk escaping the chill and snowfall outside. What better place than here? Of these folk is the Pritchard brood, a mass of light-brown hair and manly laughter near the back of the room. Nia pulls from them, barking a few words that earn a few more laughs from them as she departs. Though there's a smile pasted on her face it seems strained at the edges, and she folds her arms tightly around her when she gets back in line for the register, muttering under her breath.

It isn't exactly a family establishment, but the Sip and Sonder is a place for all sorts. And the Pritchard brood is a sort. Zoe watches them all with keen interest. Their sort is a bit rare in this bohemian side of the district. Her lips quirk in a little grin as she catches Nia extracting herself from the others. Rising from her amrchair, she slips off after the girl approaching the register. "Hi there," she says, just to the left of the other girl's ear. "The peppermint hot cocoa is something I'd recommend. Or perhaps one of Boniface's dancing gingerbread men?"

John has ducked into the little coffee shop looking for a place to get warm and, perhaps, have a warm drink or some such. He lingers in the doorway for a moment or two before moving inwards, tugging off his gloves and approaching the register where Nia and Zoe seem to be standing - all the while looking about the place, eyes not lingering on any one patron all that long.

Nia doesn't startle, having watched the girl approach, bending her head to listen. She smiles, flicking apologetic eyes toward her gaggle of elder brothers. "Had my fill of it last night, by my wager. Yknow, the night-" She gestures sporadically with her hands - wings? A claw? "Rrah! The dragon." Half of her mouth quirks up in a grin. "Met you then, didnt I?" The line moves forward a bit and she shifts, keeping up appropriately. Yes. Queuing. Excellent. Her eyes start passing over the others gathered, and she squints over at John as if to say, 'almost him, too?

Zoe nods with an impish giggle. "Yes! The snow dragon. It was magnificent, wasn't it. But those poor Quinnland boys…" She shakes her head, still grinning to herself. Following Nia's gaze to John as he comes up behind them, she tilts her head. "Where you there last night too?"

John simply blinks for a few moments, seeming taken aback that Zoe addressed him. "Ah…was I where? Did something happen last night?" he asks, genuinely curious. Though he had been listening to what of Zoe and Nia's conversation he could make out, he had not been completely following it, not wanting to appear to be eavesdropping. Still, he steps a bit closer to the two, then, glancing between Zoe and Nia.

Moments after John's arrival, the door opens again to admit a lanky scarecrow of a man, his moon-and-star covered robes partially obscured under a heavy winter cloak. Norman doffs his pointy hand, peppering the floor with a dusting of snow from its brim. He glancing up with an apologetic grimace, murmuring "Sorry" to anyone and everyone that happens to look his way.

Nia blinks, as if startled at having been noticed. And for no more than a passing glance, no less. In for a penny, in for a pound, she reckons, and nods. "Yeah. Yesterday, in Merlins square- you and the kid-" She does a thing with her hands, as if tousling. "The curly one. Were gonna build a snowman, I think." She snaps her fingers, eyes widening. "Ah! You left! Left before it happened!" Norman's entrance gets a blink and the ghost of a scowl, her hands twitching. The queue moves a bit forward and now she is next in line, casting looks over the shoulders of the patrons in front of her.

Zoe gasps, wide-eyed at John. "You haven't heard? Oh! The snowmen came to life! And the dragon we were building too. It was increadible! Happened just as these enormous snow flakes were falling." She makes a circle with her hands as big as her face. "So big! And dazzling." Through her hands, she spots Norman - that scarecrow of a man. She blinks, catching his apologies and grimaces. With a little smile at Nia, she tells her, "You must tell him what he'd missed. I'll be right back." And with that, she shuffles over towards Norman, slowing to a tentative pace as she nears him. "Hello…" she says, smiling softly.

John gives Zoe something of a look of disbelief as he listens to the brief story she tells but, as she shuffles off he looks once more towards Nia. He considers her, then, trying to place which house she happens to be in as he asks, "So…big snowflakes and snowmen that came to life?" One of his brows arches and he slips his hands into his pockets.

Norman is leaning partly out of the open door to brush off the remaining snowflakes from his hat when Zoe addresses him. "Ah…hello. So sorry. The snow, you see-…" His words come to a dead halt when he glances up to look at the woman's exotic features. He closes his dangling mouth and swallows hard. "Ah…um…yes. Hello. I said that, didn't I?" He gives her a nervous smile, shutting the door and attempting to hang his hat on a peg, missing three times before finally getting it.

Once its her turn at the counter, Nia starts rattling off an assortment of drinks that starts to confuse even herself, much to the chagrin of the cashier. Partway through the second time she tries to recite the list, she hesitates, looks over her shoulder at the mass of men, and rolls her eyes. "One peppermint hot chocolate, please. And a dancing gingerbread man?" She turns to John as she waits, flicking a look from an empty table to John and back. "Oh yeah. After you took off, this girl and Rubeus Hagrid and your pal curly all started workin on buildin a snow dragon." Money is exchanged, and her gingerbread man is taken scruffly by the neck and tucked quickly into her robe pocket. "Got pretty far with it, too. That Hagrid kid can really move snow. Anyhow, big fat flakes, big as your hand, start falling." She holds a palm up for emphasis before taking her hot chocolate. She gives the peppermint stick a swirl before popping it into her mouth, standing off to the side to allow John his turn to order, waiting expectantly. The adults get a curious peek while she waits.

Zoe gasps. "Snow?" She turns and scampers to the front window like a child on Christmas morning. But, peering out through the panes, she finds only the standard flurries fluttering through the street. Brushing the back of her knuckles against her cheek, a bit sheepish, she glances back over at Norman. "Thought it might be the snowflakes from last night." She drifts back over to him. "Em… would you like something warm to drink? Marie can prepare anything you might like."

John steps up to the counter once Nia has stepped aside. "Hrum…a hot chocolate and dancing gingerbread man, please," he asks, digging in his pocket for his money to pay. "The big flakes caused some trouble or something, yeah?" he asks once he has paid for his drink and gingerbread man, stepping aside towards Nia to allow the next patron in line to place their order. He doesn't bother to comment on either of the boys Nia has mentioned, still slightly put off that he cannot quite place Nia's house. "The snow I saw last night seemed fine. I guess it was just something that happened around the square?" he asks before taking a tentative sip from his hot chocolate.

Norman's brow pinches in bemusement at Zoe's peculiar reaction. "A hot drink. Ah…yes, that's what I've come for." He moves toward the queue to place an order, and his eyes widen when they settle on a tray of dancing gingerbread men. "Tiny ones! Um…I mean…I saw a large one. Very large. Enormous, really. Walking about and handing out candies."

Zoe opens a hand towards the counter, inviting Norman to approach it. Her soft smile brightens. "Ooh! I saw that last night too. I was worried he might have gotten hurt in the snowball fight. Glad you saw him this morning." She pauses, catching something John had said. "Oh. It didn't snow like that where you were? Where'd you go after the square?"

"Right. Some kids started out throwin snowballs at us and at this man, and so were hidin behind the dragon but, next thing we know, this thing we built hulks to life, like," Nia hunkers her shoulders over, perhaps to convey largeness? "And- get this- the snowmen come to life too and start chuckin snowballs left and right!" She starts taking steps toward the empty table, grinning pleasantly and sipping her own chocolate. "Some of em even started fightin for me and the kid. Yeah, we had a few snowmen on our side." A fond laugh tumbles lowly from her mouth. "It was really something. You only just missed it! Hope it was for something better?" By her tone, shes not sure there is something better than magicked snow wars.

"Nowhere as exciting as all that," breathes out, managing to answer both Zoe and Nia at once as a clear look of disappointment crosses his features. "I should have stuck around, that all sounds like a good bit of fun…didn't seem much more than some light snow outside the alley." That look of disappointment persists as he truly would have rather been in the midst of an enchanted snow than traipsing around in the cold on errands from his mother. He hesitates for just a moment before following Nia towards the empty table. "I'm sure everyone there quite enjoyed it from what the two of you are saying."

Norman mumbles out an order for chamomile tea, keeping one ear on the conversation about the events of the previous evening. "Snowmen…dragons…" he mumbles, shaking his head. He peers after John and Nia with a frown of concern. Speaking to Zoe, he asks, "Don't they look a bit young to be here? In London, I mean. Not the tea house. That would be silly." He smiles nervously as he overexplains again.

"Maybe it will happen again," suggests Zoe with a soft smile. "Later, you two should go and build more snow men in Merlin Square. Maybe more will come to life?" Glancing at Norman she pauses before nodding. "Perhaps. But most of the buildings here are charmed, right? Should be safe enough, if they stay inside."

"Huh. Odd. Wonder why it was just there." Nia stirs her peppermint stick a few times again and squints curiously. "Wonder if it happens again, tonight. What timeabouts was it? Bollocks." She curses easily, slipping into a chair at the table and pulling the still-wriggling gingerbread man from her pocket. She bites his head clean off. "Dyou remember? I dont at all." Norman and Zoe get a look and she calls over. "Youre welcome to join us if youd like! And bring more war stories about the snow?" She leans in conspiratorially, grinning at John. "Might be best if my brothers didnt see me alone at a table with a boy." She startles at that, blinking. "Oh. Oh! Right! Are you here waiting for someone? Im so sorry-" She looks down at the table, surprised at herself. "I didnt mean to impose or anythi- Youre welcome to si-" Having worked herself up a little, she stops finishing her sentences and starts punctuating with broad smiles to make up for it.

"Could have been something the ministry worked up for the contest?" John suggests, looking briefly towards the brothers Nia mentioned before shrugging and dropping into one of the chairs, seemingly unbothered by the implication behind their potentially not being too happy about Nia being seated with a boy, let alone one from a year ahead of her. He gives Nia a somewhat exasperated look once she seems to begin falling apart only to say, "No, I wasn't meeting anyone here and you're not imposing." He lets out a breath, then, glancing over towards Zoe and Norman and offering a smile, after all, they've been invited to join the pair already seated - may as well try to be welcoming.

"Charmed," Norman echoes, nodding slowly. He reaches into his robes, producing a leatherbound book. A pencil is tied to the cover by a string. Cracking open the book, he jots down something with the pencil, and quickly shuts the journal and tucks it away again. It takes a moment for Nia's invitation to sink in. "What? Oh, us? Uh…well…" The jittery fellow glances to Zoe with an uncertain shrug.

Zoe tilts her head, watching as Norman draws out a journal. But then glancing over at John, she grins. "Oh? You think it was the Ministry that arranged for it? More likely than the committee I suppose. I think it was all unplanned. Since we never did find out who won the contest." She settles down at their table, eager to discuss the mystery.

Good enough for Nia! She seems more than pleased with the casual air, relieved even as the matter is dropped, and continues to munch on the gingerbread man with aplomb. "Guess it could have been." She muses, scratching at her chin with her pinky. "Saw a committee lady take a pretty solid hit, though. Didn't look like anybody was expectin' anything." There's a shrug and a sip. "That bein' said, it'd be neat if it happened again and one had prepared." She smirks a little. "There's the trick of getting them to be on your side, however that works- but imagine bein' ready."

John sets his cup of hot chocolate onto the table, his dancing gingerbread man following soon after. "Well, think about it - if they orchestrated something as big as that, they wouldn't have to hand out a prize to the winners," he muses, a wry smile tugging at his lips. "And they wouldn't have had to -tell- the committee that it was going to happen ahead of time, after all…though that might be giving them a bit more credit than they deserve."

Norman seems to take Zoe sitting as a cue, and he follows suit, giving the two youngsters at the table a smile. It's the sort of uncool smile an adult gives when trying not to seem uncool. "So…ah…it's a mystery, then? Nobody knows what caused the snowmen to animate? Wh-…what if it is was just some sort of…mass hallucination?"

Zoe has no trouble fitting comfortably with the two younger folk at the table. After all, it wasn't so long since she was one of them. And she still looks like she ought to be heading back to Hogwarts with them in a week or so. "You sir, are quite cynical aren't you. You might be right. But I like this one's line of thought far better." She nods at Nia, almost a little bow of respect, though she follows with an impish grin. Norman's mention of hallucinations makes her blink. "Hm? That might be. We were all drinking the cocoa, weren't we? Or maybe it was the snowflakes. Maybe they were enchanted somehow."

"It definitely wasn't a hallucination." Nia looks across the table, eyes darting to Zoe and thankful for the backup. "An ice dragon reared its wings and roared a blizzard on a group of rowdy boys." Her voice ticks up, a little heated. "A little kid got stuck in an ice ladys body, and the kids brother had to wrestle the body until it melted away. Everything started falling apart once those huge flakes stopped falling." She raises her brows and nods at the other girls similar mention. "Plus, everyone's hard work got mucked about. The snowmen got up and moved and hit each other with snowballs. Kind of unfair, contest-wise, yeah?"

John grins rather broadly and finishes up his cup of coco. "Just a bit of an idea, yeah?" he says, shrugging his shoulders. "I should probably be heading back out there, though. Need to get home before I'm missed -too- much." He pushes back from the table, snatching up his gingerbread man and stuffing it into a pocket as he offers a smile to the others at the table, finally heading towards the door and out into the cold once more.

"That's just the thing. You don't really know if it's an hallucination if you're hallucinating," Norman says gravely. "Maybe it was some sort of German plot. A gas attack. They have gases that do strange things to people." He looks after John as he heads off. "Be careful, lad. Try to stay indoors."

Zoe's eyes widen at Norman's suggestions. It would seem that these mundane, yet perfectly plausible suggestions never once crossed her mind. She glances up at John, offering him a distracted smile of farewell, before returning to Norman and Nia. "There were after effects yes. But… maybe it was just all from us? Because we'd run amock. But- but no. I'm certain it wasn't that. There must be charms against all sorts of attacks. Right?"

Nia raises a hand at Johns departure and blinks over at Norman, squinting. "But then how is it that me and- er-" even after all this, she still doesnt know Zoes name. "How is it that we were all hallucinating the same thing? I dunno, boss, I dont buy it." She dunks a bit of gingerbread into her cocoa and nibbles the bite, savoring the flavors. "Its something youve really got to see for yourself." She realizes the absurdity of it, grins broadly. "Just got to figure out when itll happen again."

Norman gives Zoe's question a helpless shrug. But for Nia he seems to have an answer. "Oh, that's easy. It's called post-hypnotic suggestion. See…once everyone is under the effects of the gas, it just takes someone guiding the hallucination. Like a director of a play. It's completely unethical, of course…but it's possible."

Zoe bites her lower lip at Norman's continued explanation. "Mm. I think… the simpler solution is more likely. The snow was charmed. That's all. Gas somehow reaching us?" She shakes her head. It's not outside the realm of possiblity, as he says. But to her, it's as unlikely as magic is to him. Smiling at Nia, she says, "I think you should see about making preparations for the next battle. I know I'm keeping watch for the snowflakes…" Rising onto her knee, she says, "It was nice chatting with you- wait… What was your name?" She glances at Norman. "And yours? I'm Zoe."

"Nia. Pleasure to meet you, Zoe." She says, raising a hand in a similar goodbye. It seems shell take her time away from her brothers; she stays seated and sated for now. She looks over at Norman, grinning broadly. "If that's the case, next time Im leading with an army of snowmen! Ill head to that square right now and start building, if I have to."

"Oh, ah…Norman. I'm Norman." Nia's declaration brings a smile to the man's weathered face. "Just…please be careful out there, young lady. These are dangerous times. Time…time…" He plunges his hand into his robes, pulling forth a pocketwatch on a chain and popping it open. "Dear me…I need to go as well. Thank you both. This was…um…enlightening." He gives his nervous smile to the two young women as he rises to his feet.

"Pleased to meet you, Nia. A true pleasure. I hope we find each other again on the field of snowball battle!" Zoe nods to her, almost bowing. Then she offers Norman the same, and with a soft smile, murmurs, "I hope to see you again too, sir. I'll be careful." And with that, she scampers off, snagging her cloak near the door and dashing out into the street.

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