(1942-01-09) Getting Warmer on the Snow Investigation
Details for Getting Warmer on the Snow Investigation
Summary: Augustus Goyle continues his investigation of the snowmen incidents. He asks Zoe some questions and appears to identify some key clues.
Date: January 9th, 1942
Location: The Sip and Sonder
Plot: Snowpocalypse Now

The Sip and Sonder

The scent of fresh ground coffee and baked goods permeates this eclectic coffee house. Moroccan lanterns float high above in the air, Indian tapestries hang over the brick walls, and Persian carpets sprawl across the wood floors. Colorful armchairs and couches cluster in small groups around low coffee tables throughout the shop.

To the right of the door, patrons may place their shoes in little cubby-holes and choose one of the pairs of slippers to wear instead. Tucked into the back of the shop is the coffee bar where Marie is ready to take and prepare orders. Off to one side is a spiral staircase leading to the coffee house loft.

It's quite a windy morning at the Mysticked District. Just a couple of people have been brave enough to defy the bad weather, Augustus among them. Well-clothed with a warm and fancy winter coat, he looks for a proper place to stay until the crazy wind has passed. With a determined gaze, he heads towards the nearest establishment: The Sip and Sonder.

A petite young lady hurries along the street, bundled up in her traveler's cloak. Coming up just behind Augustus, she squeals as a particularly enthusiastic gust tries to buffet them both down the street. She half-stumbles back before she scurries towards the Sip and Sonder. Slipping in just ahead of Augustus, the moment she steps into the toasty warmth, Zoe whirls back around. Flush-cheeked and stepping backwards, she smiles up at Augustus. "We made it! It almost tried to carry us off, didn't it?"

Augustus gently smiles back at the lady. "Indeed. Thank Merlin we've arrived! Right now, this seems like the best place in the world to stay: the colors, the soft aroma of coffee, the cozy ambiance…" Mr. Goyle closed his eyes for a moment in order to perceive more clearly all the scents of the coffee house. When he opened them again, the old man's expression turned doubtful for a second. "Excuse me young lady, but I think we've met before, right?"

Zoe steps aside to slip out of her boots. Bending to unlace them, she grins up at Augustus. "Yes. I think so. You look familiar… It was in the Park, wasn't it? With Colton and his cousins. I'd been making creatures in the snow." Curling her toes in the warmth, she slips out of her traveler's cloak. "Would you like to join me for coffee?"

Augustus nods at Zoe's proposal with a grin. "Oh, I would be very pleased to join you for coffee, dear lady."

Zoe nods, grinning up at him. Hands clasped behind her back, she leads him through the shop to a little nook with two armchairs. "I can go fetch coffee for both of us, if you like. And something to eat. I'm sorry we're out of the gingerbreads. The dancing ones. Those were seasonal, while the students were here. But there are some rather nice sugar cookies that sparkle."

With a chuckle, Augustus smiles and says: "Oh, don't worry. I'm afraid they were too sweet and nimble for me. Do you by any chance have some mint cookies? I used to eat plenty of them during my days at Hogwarts, they were absolutely delicious! Those were the days… around the fireplace, sharing some cookies, no real worries in our heads." Mr. Goyle seems pleased to have remembered his youth for a second, but his thought returns to the present lifetime almost immediately.

"Oh… sorry, I don't think so. But I could ask Marie to send word to Mr. Fortescue to see if he has any at the moment. I'm sure he could send some right over. Yes? And if we're to have mint cookies… perhaps cocoa would pair better? I always prefer chocolate with mint." Zoe takes a half step back, but waits for some sign from Augustus.

With modesty, Augustus states: "There's no problem if they're unavailable right now, really. I'll follow your suggestion of the sparkling sugar cookies then. I'm sure they're splendid!"

Zoe shakes her head. Stepping back with a little grin, she insists, "It's no trouble. Now I'm wanting the mint cookies. It'll just take a moment." Across the coffee shop, Marie seems to take the request in stride. Zoe settles down in the armchair paired with Augustus' a moment later. "So… were you in Hufflepuff? I heard they always had the best food. Or do you mean the food served at supper?"

Augustus laughs cheerfully at Zoe's guess. "Hufflepuff? No, not really. I think you'll never guess that I was sorted into Slytherin. At first everyone, including myself, was very surprised with the Sorting Hat's decision, quite frankly. I was also expecting to be part of the Hufflepuff House, but life had other plans for me." In response to Zoe's last question, August answers: "Hufflepuffs had the best food undoubtedly, and they generally shared some of their recipes so everyone could learn how to do the best dishes. They've have always been so good-natured and generous."

"Hufflepuffs are great. So much fun. But if you were in Slytherin, then it sounds like /you/ had other plans for /life/. It's all ambition and drive there, right? I was a Gryffindor. And that's me, through and through. Always up for adventures." Zoe wiggles and settles down deep and comfy in her chair. Resting her elbow on the chair's arm, she props up her chin in her palm. "I'm curious… what you've made with your life with a Slytherin's drive."

With a grin, Augustus says the following: "A life devoted to nature, young lady. Herbology and Potions were my NEWTs, so you get the idea about how boring my life would have been for an adventurous Gryffindor like you. Well, I can't complain though, since I've spent many summers in Hawaii, studying the tropical flora and enjoying life on the other side of the pond. There are so many different cultures with even more points of view about the very meaning of life. But I'm sure you know about the great experience of finding new people with whom to argue, contrasting opinions and learning valuable life lessons."

"It's the best thing," says Zoe, smiling up at him as she sinks lower still. "It's amazing how life is life no matter where you go. And yet, everyone is so different. So unique. Such contrasts even within a single village or far flung across the world. And a life spent chasing what you've loved? That sounds like true delight. That's what I do… I don't know if I'll have anything to show for it, but that's not the point. Not for me."

Augustus can't help to nod in agreement. "Ah, well said. Privileges are not everything, they're just a shortcut to achieve things more easily. And that makes life dull and senseless. In my opinion, privileges should be earned and only used when the situation requires it."

"Mm. It's about the journey. That's something my mum taught me. Sometimes we'd travel through magic. Always quicker. But the slower, muggle ways can be much better. They give you a chance to really take the world in. Oh! Thank you, Marie." Zoe smiles as Marie arrives with Boniface Fortescue's mint cookies and two mochas.

Augustus also gives a gentle smile to Marie. "Much obliged, dear lady." Turning his head towards Zoe again, Augustus remains quiet for a moment, doubting a bit before saying anything. "You know, now that I'm retired, daily life isn't as extraordinaire as it used to be, so I've been looking for interesting things to do, like carrying out an investigation related with the bizarre phenomenon of the living snow. Since you were one of the main witnesses of this particular event, would you mind if I ask you a couple of questions, in order to clarify this matter once and for all?" Mr. Goyle's gaze was determined and inquisitive, but also friendly and reliable.

Zoe plucks a cookie from the tray and settles back, nibbling it. But Augustus' inquiry makes her pause and sparks interest in her eyes. "Oh? Yes. I could certainly answer. An investigation. That sounds exciting! Do you think it's something sinister? I've heard many folk who think so."

Augustus shakes his head at Zoe's question. "Quite unlikely for what I've been told. No, this is something… strange. That's all." Mr. Goyle then starts to look for something inside one of his winter coat's pockets. "Let's see… here it is!" A small green notebook, with several annotations, most likely related with the investigation. Checking a couple of pages, August proceeds to ask the following: "Right. Could you please offer an accurate description of the snowflakes? In this case, I'm more interested in the original form of the snow, not the derived creations of it."

Zoe nods and nibbles her cookie with a thoughtful tilt of her head. "Well… it was snowing just normal little flakes. But then there were flakes falling the size of Christmas tree stars. As big as your hand. Or your head. Oh, but when they landed in your hair, they burst apart and shone like diamonds. They didn't melt until the snowing stopped and the snowmen stopped moving."

Augustus checks his notebook once again, comparing the descriptions collected. "Yes, this seems important. Please tell me more about this bursting and the shiny reflections of the snowflakes. So they were fragile to physical contact, but not to heat sources, for example? And once they landed, these snowflakes fused naturally with the rest of the snow?"

Zoe leans forward to take up her mocha. "Um… it seemed so. I suppose the snow might have looked extra glittery. But I didn't really pay too close attention. The whole night was like from a dream. It was a celebration. There was music and singing, cocoa, and even a life-sized gingerbread man."

Augustus takes a quick sip of his mocha and picks a couple of mint cookies, pondering for a minute while eating them. "And this only affected Merlin's Square, right? Did any of the gathered people catched your eye?" Mr. Goyle took another sip from his cup before asking the next question. "Could you tell more about the events that preceded the fall of the snowflakes?"

Zoe nods, tucking her legs beneath herself. "I was wandering around at the edges, enjoying the new-fallen snow. It had snowed so much that day and I think the Holiday committee of the District threw together the celebration. The shops all came out to support it. The Sip and Sonder even had someone offering little shots of Turkish coffee. Let's see. The Leaky Cauldron had Elly and others handing out hot chocolate. Mr. Fortescue with the gingerbread men, the dancing reindeer-" She pauses. "He really out-did himself this year. The children were delighted."

Augustus remained thoughtful for a couple of minutes, taking sips of mocha periodically. While looking at his notes, he realised something that made his expression change completely. "I know this may sound a bit odd but… do you know if anyone tasted the snowflakes?"

Zoe blinks and shakes her head. "I didn't. But… well, you might ask one of the children. Maybe one of Colton's cousins tried." She nibbles another mint cookie. "Why do you ask?"

Augustus tilted his head while looking at his notebook. "Well, for what I've been gathering from other people so far, someone witnessed a curious thing that has caught my attention: A bright smoke that came from Fortescue's Shop's chimney. I've thought that maybe he was trying to create some kind of sugar snowflakes…" Mr. Goyle was picking more mint cookies while exposing his conclusions. "Or perhaps this was what he expected to happen: Cheerful children playing with magical living snow creatures while eating some of his sweets. After all, they haven't caused any damage, right?"

"What? No, I- I haven't heard of any damage." Zoe shakes her head. "Just snowball fights. Simple fun. You think Mr. Fortescue did this? With his bright smoke? I… I suppose that might make sense. Smoke could become clouds and snowflakes come from clouds. But if he did it, why wouldn't he tell everyone? It could have been another attraction of the celebrations."

Augustus grins almost instantly at hearing Zoe's question. "I knew you would say that, dear lady. This is not about attraction or money, not at all. For what you've said about his dedication with children, I think this is something more unselfish and designed to be a mystery, especially for those kids. In my opinion, Mr. Fortescue only wanted to bring illusion and joy to these uncertain and dark times. Like I said to Mr. Mulligan the day we met: Christmas is a time of giving. This could be considered a selfless present to make everyone forget about trouble for a while. A present that has let our imagination fly." Once he ended with his theory, Mr. Goyle took a long sip from his mocha.

The skeptical arch of Zoe's brows ease as a soft smile finds its way to her lips. "That's a wonderful way to think of it. Maybe it's true. Now that the children are gone, the gingerbread men have vanished and so have the snowmen. It would make sense. Now I'm curious, myself. When will you be going to speak with him? I'd love to come."

While dipping some of the remaining mint cookies in the coffee, Augustus answers Zoe's doubt. "Soon, I hope. This mystery has also awaken my curiosity. It'll be my pleasure if you come with me. After all, you've provided me with valuable details. I'm very grateful that you've helped me with this tricky investigation." Augustus offers a sincere smile of gratitude to Zoe before standing up to put on his winter coat, with the green notebook back in his pocket again. "The wind seems to have stopped, so I'll leave before it decides to come back!" With a chuckle and a gentle smile, Mr. Goyle says goodbye to Zoe.

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