1935-08-07: The Sphinx's Eye
The Sphinx's Eye
IC Date 08/07/1935
OOC Date 01/10/2012
Location Central London — Central Diagon Alley — Flourish and Blott's
Cast Constance Ophelia Ajax
Description Students talk summer holidays and light reading at Flourish and Blott's.

Setting: Central London — Central Diagon Alley — Flourish and Blott's
Flourish and Blott's is the premier bookstore for anyone purchasing books in preparation to attend Hogwarts. The bookstore's two stories of walls are completely lined with shelves, most of the accessed by a rolling ladder with the exception of the back wall which has a loft attached to it that can be reached by climbing a graceful curving staircase. The open floor space in the middle of the store has freestanding bookcases that house the newest releases as well as the books currently assigned for the present year at Hogwarts to make them as easy to find as possible.
Curtains hanging from rods decorate the windows in this room.

England is not known for its sunny skies, and today is practically a national stereotype: it's wet, gray, windy, and altogether totally disgusting outside. Indoors is far, far more tempting. Harsh rain - the kind that hurts a little to get caught in, and /inevitably/ gets under the umbrella and down the backs of the galoshes no matter how careful you are - pounds against the windowpanes of Flourish and Blott's, cascading down the glass in thick sheets of water. Inside, though, is oh-so-cozy; only a few customers lazily perusing through the shelves, a shop girl who has given up all pretense of business and sits by the register idly paging through a magazine, and a general air of literary peace.

Constance Rose Marchbanks (Gryffindor, Socialist, and Professional Loudmouth) is just coming down the stairwell, having purloined the upper floor of a gracious armload of treasures. A glance at the titles would suggest she is /not/ doing her school shopping today - not unless Hogwarts has started up a Theory of Lurid Mystery Novels class, at any rate. She pauses briefly at the foot of the staircase, shoving her assortment of murders onto a nearby bookcase so she can pause to fix her hat, which is of the type that is pinned to the hair (and thus worn indoors), and is also slightly askew.

Ophelia has been in the store just long enough to be only a little damp. She has remained mostly on the first floor, still caught up in the initial glow of being surrounded by new (and old, of course) books. It is just before Constance comes down that she turns to head up, aparently done with the first floor. Her eyes hit the books in the other girl's hands before she even bothers to look at the person holding them. After a quick perusal, she points to one and with a small frown says, "You don't want that one."
The door opens with perhaps a bit more of a bang than is strictly necessary, and a rather besodden Ajax Selwyn stumbles inside. His normally fluffy blue curls are plastered down to his head, and his clothing is a few turns past damp as well. His boots make a squashy sound as he stands there in the entryway, muttering to himself for a moment, and then he looks up, peering at the room. "I don't see," he announces to no one in particular, "why we aren't permitted at least a little drying spell or… such."

"Really?" Connie gives Ophelia an interested look, leaning (hands still on her hat) over to figure out which book the other girl is pointing to. "'The Sphinx's Jewel'? But it looks positively bubbling over with dead bodies and duels and things." And difficult puzzles and a complex set of clues for the reader to puzzle through, but, well - Gryffindors. She rights herself and gives Ajax a brief wave of greeting, before finally reapplying herself to the delicate task of fixing her hat while she awaits Ophelia's spin at literary criticism.

"But the plot is nearly an exact replica of 'The Siamese Emerald'. And the 'Emerald' has better characters. And a better ending." She delivers her criticism almost as though she's had this 'argument' before, and is turning back toward Ajax before she's even finished. Grinning, she comments, "You're all mushily musical today."

Ajax sputters slightly, rummaging in his coat, and pulls out a mostly dry handkerchief. He begins mopping uselessly at his face, pausing only to return Connie's wave via handkerchief, and then turns to peer at Ophelia in puzzlement. "But The Sphinx's Jewel is set in Egypt. That's totally different than the Orient. Also, mushily musical? What're you on about?" He finally just gives up on the handkerchief, now soaked, and shoves it into an outer pocket of his coat.

"Yes, that," Constance nods agreement to Ajax's point, as she skillfully secures her hat back at the perfect stylish angle, "and I've read 'The Siamese Emerald' twice, while I /haven't/ read 'The Sphinx's Jewel'. Even if it's a knockoff corker it'd still be a corker. Still," she continues on, leaning lightly on the railing with a slight grin, "I'll take it under advisement, Summerbee. Having a good summer?"

Ophelia shrugs, hopping down the stairs to let Constance pass and join Ajax, "Passable." She reaches up to ruffle her friend's hair with a grin, "There are three new essays on wandlore out now, and one seems to actually have some new theories. So that's something. And you… Marchbank?" She frowns a little as she attempts (and fails) to remember the other girl's name.

Ajax shrugs a bit. "I have no idea what you're talking about, O," he retorts. Then he removes his coat and hangs it near the door, sighing, and pulls off his boots to upend them out the door and then set them out to dry. Somewhat less soaked now that his outer layer is removed, he plants his hands on his hips. "So, um. Yes."

Constance shoots Ophelia a look of polite smiling blankness, clearly mentally echoing Ajax's remarks. The smile turns more sincere as she nods enthusiastically to the question. A little too enthusiastically: just about everyone who was at Hogwarts last term knows /exactly/ what that flare of intensity in her eyes means. "Oh, yes, I did, rather. Thank you! I went to a rally in Brighton last week with my brother, and /very nearly/ got arrested - only unfortunately once the bobby saw how old I was and heard me speak he just escorted Eddie and I away." A disappointed shake of her head, combined with a little 'grown-ups, am I right' shrug. "Absolutely embarrassing to the upmost, one feels so /awful/ getting privileged for class even when one doesn't want to be."

Ophelia's frown changes, "I was… you know, your shoes make noise, like music. But mushy-sounding." Looking a little deflated, she turns back to Constance thoughtfully, "You… /wish/ to be arrested? I suppose then that you could always befriend a, um, un-priviledged person, and learn how to speak like one?" She speaks far more uncertainly now, and reaches over to pluck a book from the closest shelf, aparently choosing it at random.

"It wasn't music," Ajax counters, "it was a chant of protest." He makes a bit of a face at Constance's story, shaking his head, "Civil Disobedience? Are you a transcendentalist, then? Thoreau was a poseur, you know." He sighs tragically and then wanders over to start looking over what's displayed on the shelves were newer prints end up.

"I'm a /Socialist/," Constance tells Ajax, with a bit of a face herself. "Not a transcenwhateverist. /And/ -" she gives Ophelia another of those little shrugs, "- I do rather want to find out what it's like. And it just seems /awfully/ unfair, that my family having money gets me off when I'm sure that bobby wouldn't've hesitated with a girl from an East End slum, do you know?" The girl gives a little shake of her head, beginning to collect up her selection with half an eye on seeing what the others pick.

Ophelis flips through the book in her hand absently as she offers, "Transcendentalist. But how would getting arrested prove your point? Would they not simply release you once they found you out?" Finally, a title actually catches her eye, and she replaces the one she holds to pull it down, having to strecth to her tiptoes to do so.

Ajax's voice comes from behind the bookshelves where he's crouched in his stocking feet. "It wouldn't! Thoreau — the American writer — had the same complaint, and he looked foolish. Of course, people will still say he's brilliant, won't they? Poseur. Bah." Then, a pause, and, "Oooh. A new edition of Trolls Through the Ages."

Constance gives the direction of Ajax's voice a small smirk from over the top of her mystery stack. "Perhaps /you/ think he looked foolish, but if he's so important than other people must /not/. So it's really just your opinion, isn't it? /I/ think getting arrested to prove a point is quite dashing, as long as it's a good one." The Gryffindor very briefly departs the area to set her stack on the counter, with a smile and a quick explanation to the shop girl that "I'll be back for them, they're just a bit bulky to carry" before she wanders back in their direction, scanning the shelves for any additional must-haves.

"Anything new in it?" Ophelia leans over, trying to see around the shelf to where Ajax is. When this doesn't work she returns to browsing a closer one, tucking her find under one arm to reach for another, which is offered to Constance, "Did you see this one?" She asks, holding it avobe the stack 'o mysteries so that Constance can see the author, who also wrote one of the other books the Gryffindor holds.

Ajax pops up with the book in hand. "If there are, I'll buy us copies. I'm off to check on it." He then wanders off to a quiet corner to see what the book's revisions are, losing track of the others

"Oo - no, I didn't." Constance ambles closer, taking the book and flipping the cover open to examine the blurb. "'The lovelorn young man hadn't expected to find a body in the middle of the lake,'" she reads aloud, brows furrowing lightly in interest. "'At first it seems a simple accident. Auror Angus McFirbelind soon discovers that the simple case is anything but. In a search that takes him from Diagon Alley to Muggle museums and lost Spanish shipwrecks, in a race against time to stop the schemes of - 'The Order of the Gorgon'!" There is a pause, and then Constance beams, flipping the book over again to look at its gaudy cover. "Oh, that sounds /wonderful/."

"It sounds… unlikely." Ophelia responds thoughtfully, "Especially since the true Order of the Gorgon never had anything to do with Muggles or their artifacts." Still, she's smiling again now. "Also, I am pretty sure they were disbanded some decades ago."

Constance's eyebrows nearly lift clean off her forehead. She gives Ophelia a bemused stare, head tilting very slightly sideways. "The Order of the Gorgon is a real thing? But -" she doublechecks the book cover again, complete with its vaguely abstract portrait of a woman's harsh face surrounded by weaving snakes "- these things are /always/ such nonsense." A pause. "I wonder if the author was a member, or - well, I'm afraid I really don't know a thing about the Order of the Gorgon, I've never heard anything about it."

Ophelia grins, "Mum says they try to pepper those books with a few stretched facts. I guess she was right. And I have a book on them somewhere. I could bring it with me when the term starts? Though I doubt they were as amazing as depicted there. I only know about them because they had something to do with a wandmaker once, it made me curious."

"Oh, /would/ you, please?" Constance returns grin for grin, tucking the book under her arm in a way that makes clear it's merited inclusion in the purchase pile. "I mean, I'm sure you're right that the real thing wouldn't be anywhere near what the book would show them as - why, you should just /see/ how Muggle mysteries portray the poor CPGB sometimes, it's slander - but secret societies and orders are so exciting, aren't they?"

Ophelia tilts her head a bit as she thinks about Constance's question. "I suppose… they can be, true." She smiles, the look in her eyes implying that this is almost a surprise to her. "I never really thought of them that way. But then… I suppose they've never really been presented that way. Mum and dad seem to find them… dissapointing."

Constance's eyebrows furrow as she works this through. "Why," the girl asks, eventually, "do your parents have such strong opinions about secret societies anyway?" The eyebrows go up, a half grin sneaking into place on her mouth. "Are they /in/ one, is that how they know these things?" The Gryffindor gives Ophelia a deeply speculative look, expectant of mysteries and adventures.

Ophelia blinks at Constance, taken aback. Then she laughs, the sound sort of bubbling out of her for a moment. "N-no, they just… " She begins to speak before she can control the laughter, causing it to take even longer for the giggles to stop, "They're scholars, they read… well more than anyone else I know."

"… Oh." Constance positively radiates disappointment, from the tip of her stylish hat to the soles of her fancy shoes. A blush creeps across her cheeks as the laugh continues, and a snappish edge is evident when she works up to a reply. "/Sorry/, it's just the way you phrased it made me think there was more to it. But scholars are all right." A shrug, and Constance casts a glance at the rain-strewn window. "I'd probably best go pay and get going on my way. I don't think this is going to let up anytime soon."

Ophelia grins, "Oh, don't be. I don't always say things right. And they don't have to be in one to /know/ things, you know?" She shrugs, "Who knows? They don't always tell me everything. I guess they could be in one… " Frowning, she trails off a little, then blinks suddenly, "You want that book. And if I don't go home now, I'll forget it." Without even saying a proper goodbye, she then drops her books and heads for the door, calling out as she pushes it open, "Don't forget, Ajax! Tea next Thursday!"

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