(1941-12-30) Merlin Square Menagerie
Details for Merlin Square Menagerie
Summary: Idle discussion of the snowman mystery and a touch of Arthurian history
Date: 30 December, 1941
Location: Merlin Square, Mysticked District
Plot: Snowpocalypse Now

It's gotten a bit late for children to be running about, but in the lamplight, one child at heart continues to play in the snow. Amidst the standard snowmen and the far from standard snowmonsters, Zoe has spent hours crafting animal after animal in the snow. Zoe's nose and cheeks shine bright pink, further hinting at how long she has been here. A little ways away, she has made a flock of little white birds with coffee-bean eyes. But now, she kneels, shaping a large lump just behind the lampost.

Zoe's menagerie-building has brought her closer and closer to a park bench at the edge of the square, where a man sits all bundled up against the cold. So bundled, in fact, that he nodded right off in his seat. He had been enjoying watching the children build their snowmen and throwing snowballs, but in his napping he missed the their departure. It is the crunching sound of Zoe packing snow that causes him to blink his way out of sleep. As his vision clears, Zoe comes into focus. "Oh…hello, there." His voice is quite muffled by the heavy scarf wrapped around his face. In fact, his many layers of clothing make him nearly unrecognizable.

Homeless drifters are rare sights in the Mysticked District, but they do appear now and then. A few of them are friends of Zoe, but this one is hard to recognized. Still, it's always best to let sleeping drifters lie. And so she went on building her little mengagerie. At his feet, she left a couple of chipmunks and squirrels, peering up at him curiously. And she'd done her best to keep quiet. But as he greets her, she glances up and smiles at him. "Hello!" Her breath comes as a little cloud that soon vanishes. "Did you have a good nap?"

"Oh, ah…yes, I suppose I did. I didn't really mean to. I suppose I wore myself out walking today." Norman smiles to Zoe, forgetting that most of his face is covered. "You're looking rather pink, if you don't mind my saying. How long have you been out here?"

"Em… I'm not sure. Might be a couple of hours?" Zoe smiles at him, biting her lower lip. "Suppose I am getting a bit chilled. Could do with a cocoa soon. And since the snow has stopped falling, doesn't seem that any of those big flakes will fall and bring the snow creatures to life."

Norman's sharp blue eyes scan over the square, chock full of snowmen and other creatures. It seems that Zoe wasn't the only one hoping they would animate. Even Norman was curious to see if it would happen. "Doesn't it worry you? Things coming to life that shouldn't?"

Zoe blinks, tilting her head. "Shouldn't they? I suppose it's unusual… but it didn't do any harm. It was great fun. And it was a very sad thing when the dragon's life faded away. Brought one boy to tears."

"A dragon…you see, that's what I'm talking about. Snow monsters. Imagine the damage they could cause. What if…" Norman ponders the worse case scenario. "What if this is all just a test; someone figuring out how this works. Then…then they eventually take control of these snow beasts and…I don't know, maybe start attacking people. Just imagine how bad that could be."

"Well, it'd be difficult to cause real damage, wouldn't it? No more damage than a normal blizzard. And there are spells for managing that, aren't there?" Zoe grins and returns to her current snow creature. Shaping little triangle ears begins to hint at what it she might be making to stalk the little snowbirds with coffee-bean eyes paused in the lamplight.

"I…suppose there are. But really, we mustn't underestimate the damage snow can cause. If it can cave in a roof, then an enormous snow giant could certainly cause chaos." Feeling the chill even through his many layers, Norman rises from the park bench, carefully stepping over the little snow-critters Zoe has crafted around his feet. He tugs his scarf down so he can get a better look, revealing his face in the process. "These adorable little fellows probably wouldn't cause too much harm."

Colton is actually literally dragged into Merlin Square from Parsh Alley where the Quinnlands have circled their wagons for the weekend. Colton himself looks like he has just gotten here from the depths of some ruin somewhere. Haggered and weary he is like one of those cats that just go limp on a leash. But he is the only "adult" that wasn't busy doing something so the Quinnland kids have drug him along for supervision. "C'mon Colt! Maybe they'll come alive again! Tha was grand!" "Urrrgh." Is Colton's response. "Yer a bunchodaft loonies, yee know?" "AYE!" they all agree cackling and grinning and continue to pull Colton through the thick snow towards a good spot for Snowcraft.

Zoe does her best to shape a snow-tail, snaking in mid-lash. With an impish little laugh, she nods. "You're right. I just wanted to see what they might be like if they did come to life. I don't think that a snowball fight is all they'd do. I think that the snowmen just started throwing snowballs because everyone else was." The sound of the Quinnland kids makes Zoe glance up. Of course, what other chidlren would be out and about when other children have gone inside for dinner. "Oh! Come, you must meet my friend and his brothers," she says to Norman, who is cleverly disguised as a well-bundled up drifter.

A disguise. Yes, that must be what he had in mind. It's certainly not that the man is actually a Muggle and doesn't have a single piece of clothing charmed against the cold. That would be ridiculous. So, the Muggle in question obediently follows Zoe, eyeing the Quinnland pack curiously. Travellers, by the look of them. "Even here," he mumbles, shaking his head in wonder.

Colton has a few sisters and cousins and cousins of cousins in the mix today. It's actually the kids that are the reason the Quinnlands parked in Parsh Alley. They could be enjoying the tropical Bermuda Triangle right now, but NoooOooooOOOOOoo, the kids have been nagging the adults to return to the Mysticked District so they can have more fun with the magical snow. By the time Zoe and her mystery man arrive the kids are already doing their well practiced snow gathering technique. As for Colton, he's sprawled out on a nearish by bench and doing his best not to nod off. Another reason why the kids wanted him, he's the more casual of kid watching watchers so they expect they'll be able to get away with more hijinks.

Zoe tip toes through the snow. Not trying to sneak up on them, it's just how she best makes her way through the shin-high drifts. "Colton! You look exhausted," she tells him with a bright smile, pink-nosed and pink cheeked. As she approaches his bench, she half-turns back towards Norman. "This is an old friend of mine. Know him since school. We both had travelled, you see."

"I see." Norman nods, offering a hand to Colton. "I'm Norman. These children, they must be…siblings? Cousins?" Colton didn't seem like he could be old enough to be a father in Norman's eyes.

Colton startles a bit and sits upright while rubbing his face in that traditional trying to wake ones self up way. "Zoh! Ay." He lets out a chuff of a heh. "Aye, lemme tell yee, the Ghost of King Lot's Jester is a bigger pain in the arse than Peeves. I'm close to seein' if the Ghost Division cannae do somethin' bout the bugger. Slowed me work down to a grindin halt, right bastard." He then reaches up to give Norman's hand a shake. "Norman, pleasure, if they give ye any guff, just tell them I'll tell Megs. Aye, a mix of all. The Quinnland Brood in bulk that is." Cause every wizard or even squib must know the infamous Quinnland Clan!

"Brave man, bringing them all here," says Zoe with an impish grin. "Or too tired to fight it?" Settling down beside him on the bench, she asks, "How is it possible that he's worse than peeves? Was he following you around with his fingers up your nostrils AND singing about how your trousers were so brown, your trousers would soon fall down?"

Norman's sunked eyes widen considerably. Who is Peeves? What is the Ghost Division? What in the world does this have to do with fingers in nostrils and brown trousers?! He's got enough sense to know when to not ask questions, lest he reveal his ignorance. But one part of Colton's complaint is irresistable to the literary gentleman. "I'm sorry…the ghost of King Lot's jester? How-…wh-…I feel as if there is a story there."

Colton bobs his head and whispers consipratorily, "Tis fact, I am kidnapped. I'd offer ye a reward for my rescue, bu truth is, they may pay yee to take me off'r'ands. And I alas, am stone broke." When Zoe sits beside him he rather immediately snuggles up around her and uses her as a head rest. "The riddles an' nae bein able to undestand the lil bugger." Ironic the Traveller complaining about legibility. "Been studyin' ol' english. Cause it's a bunch of narilys and thee, thy, thus, old wif an e. 'E wers a pressie from Arthur so I cannae even speak ta'm in gaelic to get through the damn language barrier. Least Peeves could be reckon'd wid." Peeves and Colton actually got along pretty well, kindred spirits and all that. "Doncha just hate ghosts? I mean, the pretty ones like the Grey Lady is one thing… but a silvery dwarf in harliquin always tryin to bop me on the head - but it goes right through - wid his lil septer. On me last last nerve. But 'e of anyone knows where I needs ta look to find wot I'm after, so…" He offers up to Norman trying to include the stranger in the conversation.

Zoe seems at perfect ease, letting Colton rest his head on her shoulder. She giggles, smiling off at the trouble-making children. "Might be something you could do to win him over. Can't think of what though." She grins at Norman. "What would /you/ do to placate a mad little jester?"

Norman must remind himself not to stare at these people like they're mad…even if he's half-convinced of it. Either they are, or he is, and he would really rather not be the mad one. "Ah, yes…well…I cannot say I've ever read about King Lot having a jester. But if you've come across some new texts, I'd be terribly interested. I could help you with the Old English, as well. I'm quite literate in that regard, and very well read on Arthurian lore, if I might be so immodest."

Colton scratches the side of his nose which pulls his scarf down some revealing more of his exhausted expression as he uses Zoe for some cuddly full body pillow action. The rather calm and peace of the conversation is suddenly broken, "Kelly, c'mon! No knobs, alrigh!?" His brother that was just about to put a large oval of snow atop a pillar of snow with two mounds gathered on the ground grumbles and growls and throws what was about to be the tip towards the occupied bench. "Yer no fun any more! I wanted to see it come to life!" The clump of snow barely makes it a few feet, falling very short of hitting anyone at the bench. Colton rolls his eyes and calls back, "Put a thought to it ye git, do ye really wanna be attacked by a giant prick, ye'll never live tha down." Kelly looks over towards his brother and then at his creation, back and forth between the two several times before finally and quickly he kicks and knocks at the snow til it's a formless mass again. "Sorry bout tha' even I have me limits." He smiles up at Norman, "A man after me own 'eart! I cannae get into more specifics, gotta protect the project, but some 'elp wife the language would be grand. Tankyeso much mate! Norman, right?" The stranger has just become an aquaintance in that moment of shared interest, so Colton wants to make sure he's got the name of his new friend right. To warm up his now exposed face some, or really, just to be a cad he angles his face to touch his cold nose to Zoe's ear and neck just below it. "Wot would ye do?"

In the last days, Augustus has heard about snowmen of Merlin Square coming to life and involving themselves into fearsome battles. Since there's nothing more interesting to investigate these days and in order to forget about the Pearl Harbor events for a while, August wraps himself with his best winter coat and decides to investigate a little. Once there, he notices a few people around. Maybe it's a good time to make some questions. "Greetings gentlemen and dear lady. Augustus Goyle, nice to meet you." Mr. Goyle offers his hand to all of them. "I've heard some curious rumours about snow creatures battling fiercely these days, but I wanted to see it for myself. Have you made your own theories about the subject?" Augustus questioning was quite direct but gentle, and his gaze was determined and inquisitive. Clearly, he still had the traits of an interrogator. Some things never change.

Zoe brings a mitten over her mouth as Colton shouts at one of his cousins to stop constructing a giant knob in the hope of it coming to life." Squeezing her eyes shut, she tries to stifle her giggles at Colton's warnings about how embaressing it'd be to be attacked by it. She sinks lower in her bench, bright pink as Colton continues to cuddle with her. But as Norman reveals an expertise in Arthurian lore and Old English that could be helpful to Colton, she blinks with impressed surprise. "Ah- Oh! Are you…?" She tilts her head trying to see his features. But before she can decide whether she recognizes him or not, she squeaks at Colton's icy nose in her ear. She doesn't quite catch his question. "Fiiiieeend!" She pushes away at him, tilting her head and squirming to escape. She's trying to scoot away down the bench as she smiles up at Augustus. "Hello! I was there that night and so was he" she says, tilting her head at Colton. "Don't have it figured out yet though."

Norman nods, giving Colton a somewhat wary smile. What sort of scholar shouts words like knob and prick across a town square? "I'm happy to help, of course. But…" His attention is snatched away by the presence of Augustus, a much more venerable man among these young people. He accepts the handshake, dipping his head in a nervous nod. "Mr. Goyle. A pleasure. Norman. I'm Norman Mulligan. I…I have no theories, exactly. But I am concerned about it, myself."

"Oh yes, I can feel your concern, Mr. Mulligan. Perhaps something about the subject makes you feel restless?" Norman catched Augustus's attention quite easily. Nervousness or just a feeling of cold, August wanted to make sure with a bit of teasing mixed with kindness in his words. Mr. Goyle had a feeling that the man knew a bit more about the snow creatures.

Colton fills the roomy space Zoe put between them with his body, laying down to get his head in her lap as a pillow. "Colton 'iggens." He introduces himself, "Prolly some festive local that sniper shoots some spells down from a window." He points a spiralling finger to the buildings encircling the Square. The finger does stop in an accusitory manner pointing towards Whimzick Alley. Who better then some bohemian high on some magical absinthe like drink to be the culprit? "But wot?" He probes towards Norman to finish his thought.

Zoe lets her mittened hand rest over Colton's head. "And I'm Zoe," she adds on after Colton introduces himself. "And I don't think it was someone shooting spells. The snow creatures came to life after these magnificent snowflakes started falling. They got as big as your hands!"

Norman gestures toward Colton. "Yes, that exactly. Thank you, Mr. Higgens." He doesn't seem to catch Colton's attempt to probe deeper. "That, Mr. Goyle, is precisely what worries me. Nobody seems to know what is causing this. Maybe someone…ah…'shooting spells'…or these giant snowflakes, wherever they're coming from. In fact, what worries me most is that nobody seems worried by it. Certainly, it might seen benign now…but there's no telling what the real agenda of the perpetrator is."

Augustus expression turns thoughtful for a moment before sharing his own guesses with the group. "Some sort of weather magic perhaps? I don't know… I've never seen something like these before. But I'm no expert of cold climates, quite the opposite. I prefer tropical paradises without a doubt."

Colton shrugs easily tossing away a loose theory, "Maybe ice faeries? Or the like? Tis all festive fun Norman. Dinnae worry. The Badges'll no doubt step in if someone gets killed. It's just snow, nae like a bunch o Bludgers gone wild or anything." He smiles over towards the very worried man. "Speakin' of ye lil shite…" He grumbles and then hollars again at the brood of snowman, snowcreature, snowphallis makers. "Ailbhe ye wicked lil witch! Don't think I didn't see ye pack gumballs in there!" A black haired girl with wild green eyes looks towards the Watcher with deer in the headlights big eyes. She speaks in Shelta at him, claiming that she just wanted the snowballs to be colorful! Colton makes a tsky hissing fisssss sound and with a pout she begins to scrape the snow off of her gumball and put the now wet and runny things into her coat pocket again. "Last time I get'r gumballs for christmas…" Colton mutters to the more grown up attendees. He takes off his cap so that Zoe can get to his hair with her mittened hands. "Aye," He agrees with Augustus, "Weren't for those lil buggers, I'd be spendin me vacation from spelunkin' in ruins to lounging on sandy sunny beaches in the Bermuda Triangle." He lements out a sigh. "Dinnae get me wrong, this loungin' is nae bad at all." He gives a rakish smile up at Zoe.

Zoe smiles, sharing Colton's lack of concern, but Augustus' suggestion makes her head tilt in thought. "I think that it's related to the weather, yes. Might be weather magic. But why did it bring snowmen to life and didn't just make it so all the snowballs started whizzing at us on their own?" She scritches absently in Colton's hair until she catches his rakish. She returns with the tip of her tongue poked out playfully.

"It's as I said to Miss Zoe here," Norman explains, "Don't underestimate the destructive power of snow." The scarecrow man (who hardly looks it, so thickly bundled up) eyes the many snowmen in the square with a worrisome look. "We've got so much of it…could be the perfect Nazi plot," he mumbles, thinking aloud.

Colton lets out a quick laugh, but realizes just as quickly that Norman is seriously worried it's a Nazi plot and he cuts the laugh short. "Wouldn't that be a twist? Hitler gets around the Statute an' starts hiring witches an' wizards to enchant snow. Who knows, maybe we're dealing with Grindelwald followers? Well figuring out the cause is outta me job description… Surely someone will figure it out. Till then we'll have fun wid it until it goes pear shaped, iffin it does Norman, aye?"

Augustus began to think out loud too, trying to find out the magical source of the living snowmen: "A mix between Atmospheric and Locomotion Charm… natural phenomenon or there's a caster involved? Maybe a wizard with great knowledge about magical runes? Definitely this is not something an amateur could perform successfully." August's gaze turns towards Colton and chuckles at hearing his theory about the involvement of Grindelwald's followers. "Guess the snow army will last more than their ideology then." Says the old man with a mockery tone.

Horatio has spent the last week or so secreted away, and he's finally decided to come out to get some fresh air. He paces down the street, looking at least mildly less nervous than the last time he came this way, although his eyes land on the ubiquitous snowmen which have evidently been plaguing the District ever since his last venture (or so he's heard from a certain young witch). He stuffs his hands in the pockets of his leather overcoat, walking at a brisk pace and whistling, until he spots the small group of congregants near the bench. When he sees Zoe, he grins and heads in their direction; he recognizes Colton as well, though only because he's /fairly/ certain he may have lobbed a snowball at the youth the other day. "Hullo, hullo - and good evening to all of you, blokes and ladies." Putting on a wolfish grin, he eyes the other men, his gaze lingering curiously on Norman and Augustus for a time before he casts a sidelong glance at Zoe and winks quickly at her. "Grindelwald? The stuck-up bugger must be running out of bloody ideas, if it's come to this."

Norman seems to be momentarily distracted as he digs into his great mass of clothing. After considerable excavation, he produces a leatherbound journal and a pencil that's been sharpened and worn down to little more than a nub. As he writes, he glances up at Colton, nodding. "Right…Grindelwald followers. I'm sure it could be…that. What did you say your job was, again?" His wide, blue eyes briefly flicker curiously to the newcomer.

Zoe arches a brow. "Seems a bit whimiscal for Grindelwald's supporters. Maybe if icicles were sneaking around stabbing us in the back. But snowmen dancing around and joining a snowball fight? I'd say we should just enjoy it and solve the mystery for the fun of it." Catching Horatio's approach she offers him a sunshine smile, impish yet shy. "Hello, Horatio."

Colton grins and nods, "Glad to be in fine company." Approving of the the poo-pooing on Grindelwald, he was worried for a bit knowing Augustus was a Goyle that the eldest of the bunch might be on that side of things. "Aye, the fun of it. Knobs, naked ladies an' all. A very happy winter for the Quinlands." He gestures over to the kids that he's supposed to be monitoring better than he is. When Zoe greets Horatio he looks at her face, then at Horatio and then back again to Zoe, much like his brother did earlier. He then lifts his hand up to wave at the newcomer and he puts on femine Zoe mimicing tones, "Helllllooooo Horatio." Colton sits up, lifting his head out of Zoe's lap and sitting out of arms length of Zoe. "Just a warnin' knowin' the brood, they are amassin' snowballs a plenty an' we are likely goin to be victimized…"

Augustus notices that Norman has started to take notes with great interest. "You're really professional, Mr. Mulligan. Leading an investigation on your own? Remember that every single detail is important, contrast all your informations before accepting anything as true." Keeping a gentle expression towards Norman, Augustus takes an elegant pen out of his coat and offers it to the man. "I think you'll need one of these soon."

"Hullo, Zoe," Horatio responds, returning the girl's smile. When Colton cuts in with the ribbing, he stares for a moment and then bursts into a good-natured laugh… or at least, it seems good-natured, though Horatio's green-flecked eyes rarely seem to drop their cautious guard. "Ah, I can tell I'm going to like you already… save for perhaps when I've got a cob on. Name's Horatio Blue." He stretches out a hand to the younger man, grinning.

Zoe's cheeks flood with warmth and tries to kick at Colton's shins. But he's moved out of reach, quite prudently, and so she just hides her face behind her mittens, half curling up with her knees folded slightly. Letting one eye peek out between her mittened hands, she glances from Horatio to Colton.

Norman cannot help a smile at Augustus's praise. "Thank you, Mr. Goyle. I…well, I'm not really a professional. More of an amateur writer, really. But you know what they say. Never let an idea slip away, no matter how small." He glances up from his notes and his jaw drops at the offered pen. "Sir…that is a very fine pen. I couldn't possibly," he says with proper British modesty.

Colton clasps Horatio's hand and gives it a good and friendly shake, "Colton 'iggens, famed Cure-Breaker an' tormentor o' Zoe Qian since we were wee, atcher service." His eyes also sparkle spotting the pen, "Iffin'e dinnae want it…" The scamp of an Irish Traveller that is Colton has none of Norman's British Modesty. Course by his tone, he is mostly joking, only saying as much to speed along the 'I possibly couldn'ts' and getting to the taking and thanking for the thing. Cause he wants to get back to Arthur talk with Norman! "Yee got anything bout King Lot in that book?"

"Pleased to make acquaintance," Horatio says, still grinning, as he lowers his hand. He leans over and whispers something to Zoe in the midst of the chatter, then straightens and nods to both Augustus and Norman. "Evening, gents. Any conclusions come to, thus far?"

Augustus insisted with his offering. "Oh, you'll need it more than me for sure. Besides, Christmas has to be a time of giving, right? We have to help each other more than ever in these hard and dark times. So, here you go… ho, ho, ho!" Says August with a chuckle because of his Santa Claus impersonation.

Zoe's shyness deepens quite a bit as Horatio leans in close enough to whisper. Behind her mittens, her cheeks burn with warmth. But whatever he says also makes her laugh and shake her head. "Ah! You're both fiends. If you two are friends then I'm doomed." Peeking back out at them, she's smiling. But as Horatio turns to August and Norman, her gaze settles on them as well, watching curiously.

It is with obvious reluctance born of modesty that Norman reaches for the fountain pen. "Sir…I'm so touched. Thank you, and Happy Christmas. I…I wish I had something for you." He pats his pockets, as if expecting them to conjure up a gift at a moment's notice. Giving Augustus an apologetic shrug, he looks to Colton, shaking his head. "No, Mr. Higgens, no King Lot in here. It's just my journal. Just…thoughts put to page. But I've got plenty of books in my library about Arthurian legends. There are copious tales of Lot within them."

Colton grins over at Horatio when Zoe worries about being doomed. "Well, I was gonna make him me new arch nemesis, but in tha case, bosom buddies we shall forever be now." He leans over enough to literally poke at Zoe's side while ribbing her. Then he pops up, "Ye have a card or summat mate?" The question is angled at Norman, "I'll get into contact witchye soon as I can. Who knows, maybe ye dinnae have a book that can be found at Hogwarts." Cause he's read everything the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has on Arthurian times. He once again gets distracted by the brood of kids. "Excuse me, they are in a rare tear." That sounds like it's quite something coming from Colton. He wanders over to the gaggle of kids, "Get them icicles outta there, gonna freeze yer willies right off." It doesn't take much imagination to conure up a picture of what the lewd crude brood is up to now. "That's inappropriate!" That coming from Colton does mean what ever it might be, is really out of bounds not safe for public.

Augustus smiles at Norman's reaction. "Good company is the best present I could have, Mr. Mulligan." Turning his attention towards Horatio, August shares a couple of conclusions taken: "Very pleased to meet you, Mr. Blue. I think it has to be some sort of combined charm if it's not a bizarre natural phenomenon. The caster may have some knowledge of magical runes or other fields of advanced magic. I'm unable to figure out a reliable source that could offer some logic to the recent events. Any ideas?"

"I'm sorry, I don't have a card." A lie, but Norman doesn't dare hand over a card for Charing Cross Books and out himself. "But…perhaps if…oh dear," he watches with some concern as Colton tries to wrangle the Quinnland kids and remove icicles from…oh dear, indeed.

"Bosom buddies it shall be, chap. I'll buy you a drink next time I see you," Horatio calls out to Colton, grinning. When the younger man is pulled off by his brood of kids, the fair-haired man turns his attention to Augustus. "I wish I could offer a scholarly opinion on the matter, but my life took a different course," he says, his expression growing slightly more serious. "Pleased to meet you as well, sir." When Zoe accuses him of fiendhood, he only smirks and extends a hand to her, casting one more curious glance at the snowmen before he does. "Miss Qian, I don't suppose you'd like to go walking with a fiend?"

Zoe squeaks with a flinch, ticklish at the poke. But watching him go, she shakes her head with a little grin. Then returning to the conversation, she adds, "It has to be magic that would bring /creations/ to life. Because we didn't see the snowballs go whizzing about at us on their own. Only when we threw them." Horatio's offered hand makes her smile with a hint of a blush. "Of course. Maybe we could wander to the bakery. The dancing gingerbread men are the most fun to watch when they're fresh out of the oven." Placing her hand in his, she rises.

Horatio takes Zoe's hand and smiles, then offers a quick bow to the other two men. He begins walking at an easy gait towards the central part of Diagon Alley, although he occasionally glances at the sentinel snowmen to make certain none of them are about to lob a hunk of snow at him.

Zoe smiles over at Norman and Augustus as she gets led away. "I hope to see you again in the coffee house. And it was good to meet you, sir!" She sneaks a glance at Colton, who still has his hands quite full. Besides, if he sees her heading off with Horatio, he'll just tease her until her face is redder than a pomegranate. So she slips away without further fanfare.

Still thoughtful about the magical explanation of the living snowmen, Augustus bows back gently to the young couple. "Well, it's been an interesting and profitable conversation. I'll make a few inquiries about the subject and see what I can find. Hope to see you again soon, Mr. Mulligan. I'm sure you'll have more valuable information than me next time."

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