Floo Network

[Library] Now I'm not frightened of this world, believe me

Started by Rose Pemberton, January 23, 2021, 10:44:32 pm

Rose Pemberton

January 23, 2021, 10:44:32 pm Last Edit: February 23, 2021, 09:41:34 pm by Royal_Poet
Rose hefted a box of books onto one her desk. She felt vaguely guilty for not using her wand to it, but today there wasn't anybody in the library today to pass judgement on her and correct her for the error of her ways. So why not do things just how she liked it best? Levitation spells on heavy objects always gave her such trouble. She'd already forgone her usual work robes in favour of a short, mint green, pleated skirt and pale pink, wrapped cardigan combination; so even if there was somebody to see her, they could get busy judging her for her hemline first.

With the students away from the castle for the school holidays, she finally had some time to sort through this box of returns. Some of the books would probably need mending. Though the work was quiet and a little tedious, she didn't mind it too much. Sure, her life's plan hadn't involved becoming a librarian, but she was grateful to Headmaster Dumbledore for giving her this opportunity. Who knew where she and her daughter Grace would have ended up had it not been for her former transfiguration professor's kindness? Five years after the fact, she still considered herself incredibly lucky for having landed this appointment at Hogwarts.

Rose did feel a little sorry for her daughter though. Instead of doing anything fun during the school holidays, Grace had run down to Hogsmeade for the afternoon to meet with some local children near the park. It would have been fun to be able to take her daughter on holiday somewhere, but she figured meeting her parents over the weekend would have to do instead. It would give Grace the opportunity to get to know the muggle world a little bit better. It was starting to irk Rose that her daughter relied on magic for everything and didn't seem to appreciate the hard work that non-magical folk had to put into things. The only bit of muggle life Grace seemed to appreciate was her grandparents' television set. That needed changing.

As she was trying to work out a weekend schedule in her mind, she turned the wireless on. Work always went by faster when accompanied by music. Rose hummed along to the cheerful tune playing and picked up the first book from the box. The Newts of Bognor by Walter Aragon. Why would anyone volunteer to read that? She quickly flicked through the pages, before deciding the title was in order. She cast a quick charm to mark the book as returned on the master list and sent it flying towards the shelf it was normally housed on. Next. Defensive Magical Theory by Wilbert Slinkhard. Rose opened the cover to inspect when she heard something crashing onto the floor.

"Oh, fudge! Not again!" Rose didn't even need to look to know what had happened. "That flipping, gormless idiot again!" It was the best insult she could come up with as she strode towards the shelf the sound had come from. And there, as expected, was a broken porcelain cup on the floor and tea spilled everywhere. The second one this week, cup number four overall, not counting the three she had removed before knocking them over. Ever since the new Arithmancy professor had moved in, Pendergrast or something, this had started to become a problem. The man left his teacups everywhere they were not supposed to be. So, when Rose sent the books back to their shelves, she now had these little accidents.

She had tried talking to him about it during dinner at the staff table, but she was not convinced he had even listened to her. At best, she would have described his demeanour as politely disinterested. Typical, really. Just because she was a muggleborn witch didn't mean she didn't deserve any respect. Mr Pendergrast probably thought he was better than her just because he was a pureblooded professor. She'd let him know what she thought about that.

She grumbled as she retrieved her wand from the sleeve of her cardigan to mend the cup and clean the floor. This had gone too far. She would give Pendergrast a piece of her mind about this. Even the students managed to clean up after themselves. Once satisfied with the clean-up job, she placed the mended cup on her desk, next to the other cups from previous incidents. She had a pretty gallery of them now including a Dutch delftware cup, two green jadeite ones and one with a pretty flower design.

Rose then produced paper, quill and ink from her desk drawer.  Dear Professor Pendergrast, would it be too much to ask that you don't leave your half-finished teacups in the library? Please come by to pick up your cups. Kind regards, Ms Pemberton. She put the letter into a red envelope and quickly completed the howler enchantment. Normally, she only used these on students who failed to return library books, but there was a first time for everything. Rose called on one of the castle's many elves to discreetly deliver her howler to the new professor's chambers.

Harold Prendergast

Harold arrived back in his office after an excursion out of the seventh floor in search of further quills and ink, to find the small red envelope smoldering away in his absence.

"Well, uh, that's a little unexpected." No-one heard him, of course, but that was on some level the point. How else would one communicate their inner monologue in a meaningful fashion to themselves? But to hand, the envelope began to smolder a little more angrily.

Gingerly, delicately, he reached for the envelope and opened it ever so carefully, facing the leaf of the envelope away from him so it wouldn't yell entirely into his face. The majority of the castle was empty - he'd seen no-one pottering around the seventh floor so he reasoned to himself he was probably safe except for whichever house elves might happen to be passing.

The voice rang out, not quite a shriek or a scream but definitely amplified by magic in the way that howlers do, and he was a little surprised to recognise the voice as the librarian - Miss... Humberton? No, Miss Pemberton, ah yes. The message delivered, and Harold was quite relieved as it stopped shrieking at him, as he perched on the edge of his desk to think about the message, pushing his glasses back up his nose, where they had otherwise slipped ever so slightly.

Half finished tea cups? No, he didn't think he'd left any of those, particularly not in the library - well, yes, he had been in the library and yes, he probably had drunk a cup of tea or two poring over some of the very old tomes that he was leafing through, trying to find ancient wisdom to contemporary problems - or contemporary interpretations of ancient problems that might somehow work their way into becoming a solution. What was old oftentimes became new again, he pondered.

He was just about to reach for his cup of tea that he'd... oh, wait. There was the problem, he'd left his tea cup in the -- oh. He could have sworn he hadn't, but the book he was reading and, apparently, had tucked under his arm thoughtlessly as he'd left the library in search of writing implements... but the life of a research professor was a complicated and arduous one.

"Right, er, yes, well, um." Rarely had such a sentence been so profound whilst saying so little. And doubly so when said to no-one in particular.

"Right then." He gathered up the book he had tucked under his arm, plus another from the library he had on his desk that he had finished with, in the hopes of it being a peace offering, before making his way down towards the library.

The journey down toward the library was one of much contemplation for Harold, trying to frame his message to the librarian he had apparently so deeply offended - and he honestly hadn't meant to. He'd remembered her from a recent dinner and realised he must have somehow come off as rude, but he had been very concerned about the experiment he had been running in the lab - he'd found a rock that was exhibiting an unusual periodic decay of chroniton particles, quite fascinating really as it suggested a history for the rock it should... well, that was another story. But he'd left it in the lab in an experiment and was somewhat eager to get back to it before something went awry with it, and well, perhaps he may have come across as rude. Hopefully the prompt return of one library book and the unexpected faux pas of an undeclared theft-but-return... no, that wouldn't do, that would only be more problematic!

He ran his fingers through the hair on the back of his head, while taking off his glasses with his other hand and rubbing his eyes. He'd been doing so many experiments lately to study some of the materials locally that were much more dense in arcanium residue, far beyond anything he'd seen in the lab in the Ministry. Part of him wanted to be honest with Rose and tell her everything but he knew that wasn't a thing he could currently do.

"Nothing for it, I suppose." He sighed to himself as he returned to the original plan of the returned library books, the appeals for the return of his mugs, and perhaps to gently suggest that his name was "Prendergast" rather than "Pendergrast", but he didn't want to come across as snooty about it.

Rose Pemberton

Rose continued to process her box book returns and the happy tune of whatever was playing on the Wireless. Now that she'd gotten her frustration about Pendergrast out of her system, she felt motivated to get own with work and spend the rest of the afternoon doing something fun. Maybe, she could try her hand at another batch of macarons. Her friend, Elisa, had recently send her a collection of recipes that she had yet to attempt and report back on. There was also an embroidery project waiting for her that she had started during the term and never gotten around to finishing. Perhaps, today would be the opportunity to get back to that.

Once her box was empty, she folded it up and quickly cleaned through the library. Work always went so much faster when there were no students to get in the way of it and ask her questions. What was just a little bit surprising was that Pendergrast still hadn't shown up. She'd expected him to come to the library, but maybe she had been too optimistic in the assessment of his character. Still, to be ignored completely stung a little. She tried to reason with herself that the man had probably been out or busy doing whatever it was that did. Maybe, she should give him just a little longer before marching to his office and see what he would say for himself then.

Fine. Rose huffed a little, but then decided she could settle down with a book and wait for a little bit longer. The Ancient Runes professor has ordered some interesting new volumes for the library that she hadn't had the time to read. She picked up "The Secret Lore of Runes and Other Ancient Alphabets" and began to flick through the pages. The afternoon sun was falling at a rather pleasant angle, warming her back and she felt rather comfortable up at the librarian's desk.

She had made it through the first chapter of the book when a particularly catchy muggle tune started playing on the wireless. Rose had heard the song before and was happily singing along. As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset I am in paradise. The song didn't make a lot of sense to her, but then she didn't know a lot about the non-wizarding parts of London. Seeing how her concentration was broken, she put down her book and looked up. There, in the doorframe of the library, stood Professor Pendergrast staring at her. Oh Merlin! Just how long had the man been there for? She could feel her cheeks heating up with embarrassment. What would the fancy pureblood guy say about her now that he'd watched her sing along to muggle runes? And why would she possibly care? He was a rude guy who littered in her library. Oh well, not like she could do anything about it now.

Rose got up, squared her shoulders and walked over to the door. "How lovely to see you, Professor Pendergrast."

Internally, she was hoping for the ground to open up and swallow her whole. It really didn't help this awkward situation that upon closer inspection Professor Pendergrast was a rather well put together.  Though perhaps a touch conservative, his tweed suit rather flattered him, and he had handsome grey eyes. Or where they blue? What in the name of all that was holy was she thinking?! Rose shook her head as if to get rid of her unwelcome thoughts that way. The last time she had thought a gentleman had handsome eyes the situation hadn't ended well for her.

"I take it you've come to retrieve your cups," she forced out rather awkwardly. "If you come in, they're over there on my desk." She vaguely gestured in the direction of them.

Harold Prendergast

Harold flushed. "Well, um, yes, actually, I came here to return these two books, and collect my cups. I'm truly sorry if I left cups in your way - I honestly didn't remember doing it. Perfectly right too that you should send a howler, I'll try to remember in future."

He offered the two books he'd brought with him. "This second book, I, er, didn't check out of the library, I was reading it..." Harold thought it possibly apt to not mention that it would have been with a cup of tea. "And I seemed to arrive in my office without having actually checked it out while you were busy. It seemed awfully rude of me so I thought I should return it with best possible speed."

Then seemingly not remembering that he was holding two books in his hand, he tried to offer that same hand out. "I perhaps feel we might have gotten off on the wrong foot somewhat; I am Harold Prendergast," There was just a little emphasis in his voice, before continuing, "and I'm the new Arithmancy professor. Since I arrived I have been running a number of experiments that if left unsupervised, might go awry and so I've been a little distracted."

He started to drop the books because he couldn't offer his hand for shaking while trying to also offer the books to Rose for the purposes of being filed away, before managing to catch himself and the two books instead of dropping them completely, and smiled awkwardly and apologetically at Rose. "Rather like me, you see, to be distracted."

Harold put the books down on Rose's desk. "I, uh, think I'd better put these down. Before I drop them, you see." While noting the location of his cups, he muttered under his breath, "I'm not this clumsy ordinarily, honestly. I don't know what has come over me lately."

With that, he turned - with the kind of flourish seemed like it needed a scarf to accentuate it - to Rose and offered his hand again with a pleasant smile. "So, yes, well, there you are - I am Harold Prendergast and I am very deeply in your debt for leaving my tea cups everywhere all over your lovely, remarkable library. I should jolly well hope to do better next time. I believe you were introduced as Miss H-- Pemberton, yes, that's right, Miss Pemberton. Lovely to meet you, I rather wish I hadn't been quite so distracted with my first experiments - wanted to get them in before the students were here."

Before giving any pause to react, Harold headed nervously towards the office, "Right, then, I'll just get my cups and be off out of your way?"

Rose Pemberton

January 28, 2021, 11:59:46 pm #4 Last Edit: January 29, 2021, 01:26:35 pm by Royal_Poet
Rose was pleasantly surprised when Professor Pendergrast seemed rather apologetic. After their last encounter, she'd decided he was an arrogant and unpleasant sort of man. Maybe, she'd been wrong. Today he seemed contrite and rather awkward, trying to make polite conversation and clearly struggling to do so. Just what had Albus been thinking when he'd hired this gentleman? If he spoke like that in front of his students his class would probably eat him alive. Teenagers could be a cruel audience.

Before she had much of a chance to respond to him though he had started babbling about a book he'd failed to check out. Rose raised an eyebrow and gave him her best scary mom look, usually reserved for Grace when she had done something inappropriate. One eyebrow raised she just continued to look at him without making any further comment. The cheek of him. He'd been in Hogwarts all of five minutes and he'd already distinguished himself by becoming a book thief.

She didn't like how quickly the thought crossed her mind, but he was adorable and rather reminded her of a lost puppy. It was difficult to stay angry with him when everything about his manner was rather endearing. Oh, his name as Prendergast? Ouch. And he'd probably noticed her getting it wrong too. This situation was rapidly approaching a complete reversal of what she had thought would happen: Instead of giving the guy a piece of her mind she was making a complete fool of herself. Just what she needed. Wonderful.

And just what was he doing with those books? She tried to take the books from him, but he was awkwardly fumbling about and she wasn't quite sure how to intervene. She had to bite her lower lip not to betray her amusement. How had she ever thought that he was stuck up? He was clearly the most awkward thing that had happened to the library since the last batch of Hufflepuff first years.

"That'll teach you not to run off with my books, Professor Prendergast," she told him gently, a bit of a devious smile playing around the corners of her lips. "I've enchanted them all to guard against book thieves. Clumsiness charms are only my first line of defence." She was joking of course. The only charms Rose ever put on library books was a trace, so she could come and retrieve them easily once overdue.

His silly turn and flourish made it even harder not to betray her amusement. She took the hand he offered, briefly meeting his eyes. He was bravely stumbling through some more awkward conversation. She felt compelled to put the poor man out of his misery.

"You may call me Rose," she offered, even if it was slightly inappropriate to do so. He was clearly a little bit older than her, but he seemed so uncomfortable she was desperate to find a way to put him at ease. "And if you promise not to do it again, I'll treat it as if it never happened." She tried to give him a reassuring smile, feeling almost sorry for ever having sent a howler at all.

Rose picked up the first of his returns, and sent it flying back to its shelf, like she usually did. "Well, if you're not too busy you could join me for a cup of tea," she suggested as a peace offering. "You're clearly very fond of a good cuppa." Okay, they were both hopeless cases. She was being utterly cringeworthy and no doubt Prendergast would try to make a spectacularly awkward exit now. Fantastic.

She moved behind her desk and pulled out her wand to quickly shrink down the now empty cardboard box for returns. She carefully started placing his cups in the container.

Harold Prendergast

In all honesty it took Harold a moment to collect his thoughts when he realised they were both trying to make awkward escapes. None of this had gone quite the way he had planned, but in spite of that it appeared to have worked out for the best... and Merlin knows, he could use a little bit of luck on his side at the moment.

"Of course I promise not to do it again, Miss Pem-- Rose." Harold smiled sheepishly. "I didn't even mean to do it the first time, it, well, just sort of happened. I would likely as not forget my own head if it were not attached."

Harold had a sudden chill to the back of the neck and saw a familiar ghost wafting by. "Sir Nicholas! I apologise; that was not a joke about you in the slightest!" He wasn't sure if the ghost had heard him but Sir Nicholas was often uncomfortable around inappropriate mentions of necks and heads.

"Blast it. That was, uh, the first time I've seen Sir Nicholas in years and I had meant to have a chat with him." Lowering his voice, almost conspiratorially, "You see, it's possible in my research that I might have found a way to solve the 'nearly headless' dilemma. But I don't want to get his hopes up, because that would, well, be rather unfortunate."

He watched the deftness with which Rose sent the books darting through the air; idly wondering if she would teach him that Clumsiness charm she mentioned - or perhaps if it had a counter-charm. He could certainly use one of those about now.

"I would rather love a cup of tea, or two, with you if you have time, I promise I will finish the cup in your company, and then remove all of my mugs at once so that we can start as we, uh, mean to go on?"

Before he gave the poor librarian a moment to answer, he hurried asked, "If course, if you like tea, I have several varieties up in my office reserved for... special occasions. I don't know if you have tried any of them but I'm perfectly happy to whip up a cup of lapsang souchong, or even perhaps a keemun."

After he said it, of course, he realised he was being awkward again and just smiled awkwardly to give Rose a moment to think.

Rose Pemberton

February 01, 2021, 09:12:11 pm #6 Last Edit: February 18, 2021, 12:37:39 am by Royal_Poet
Rose awkwardly shifted her weight from one foot to the other. Professor Prendergast was a strange man. She wasn't sure if she wanted to be charmed by him or label him a buffoon. Perhaps, it was a bit of both. He went off on a little spiel about the Gryffindor house ghost and Rose found herself deeply confused. Hadn't Prendergast said he was an Arithmancer? What in the name of Merlin did that have to do with nearly-headless ghost. And how could he possibly be able to fix it. She started at the professor with an incredulous expression on her face unable to come up with anything appropriate to say. He was stark raving mad.

Momentary frozen, she stood there like a statue holding the last of his cups in her hands. It was a pretty jadeite one and had it not offended her sense of correctness she might have considered keeping it to herself. Her brain was still struggling to cut through the fog of Professor Prendergast's words, but it seemed the man had little mercy for her confused state and just kept talking.

He wanted to have a cup of tea. Good. That was an English sentence that made sense to Rose. Or two? That was a weird thing to say, wasn't it? She finally managed to pack the last of his mugs, then rubbed her nose. Had she imagined it, or did the man pronounce tea with a kind of special emphasis on the word. What was that supposed to mean? She didn't get time to wonder about this either, as the professor seemed to continue talking. What? He wanted to invite her to his office for a special occasion for tea. Rose narrowed her eyes. Was she getting this right? What kind of woman did he think she was?

The placed her hands on her hips and gave him a stern look. "Professor Prendergast!" She exclaimed. "I don't think..." Rose didn't know how to finish the sentence. He'd just made an inappropriate proposition hadn't he? Or was it her who was reading into things. "I'd be happy to take a cup of tea with you here in the library, as colleagues. No need for... anything special." Hopefully that sent her message strong and clear.

The cheek of him! Rose wanted to scold him some more, but something about the smile in his green eyes convinced her that really he couldn't have much of an idea of how he came across. Green. She inclined her head to the side taking another look. Yes, they were definitely green and rather beautiful pale shade of it. Handsome as they were, not handsome enough to tempt her to have tea with him in the way he had maybe suggested.

"Professor," she continued, eager to find something to talk about that would take the awkwardness out of the situation. "If I may be permitted a question, exactly what is it you were reading in the herbology section?" In all truth, she didn't really care about his answer - though she felt some idle curiosity how his tea cup had ended up on a shelf that could only be reached by ladder. She pointed in direction of she shelf in question. "I found your green mug up there."

Harold Prendergast

"Herbology, you say? That must have been while I was looking for a treatise on the nature of the tea plant, specifically of an offshoot of the keemun, as there were tales of a magically-infused varietal strain that would have been interesting to try to grow here in Hogwarts, and whether it would have altered the flavour compared to being grown locally in the eastern provinces--" Harold interrupted himself when he realised he was waffling. "But of course this must be awfully--"

Harold interrupted himself a second time when he realised that not only was his waffle droning and utterly uninteresting, but he caught Rose's expression.

"Oh. OH!" It had dawned on him what Rose had actually said to him. "I am so, so very sorry, that wasn't my intent at all! I didn't mean for you to come to my quarters to partake in a cup of tea, I simply meant I could go and get some of the tea I had that isn't readily available here at Hogwarts and share a cup or two with you! I'm... I'm utterly mortified, as normally I'm, well, actually normally a lot more precise in saying what I mean."

Then he frowned in the way he seemed to when an older thread of conversation reasserted itself in his mind. "Also, we don't have to be quite so formal - please do call me Harold rather than 'Professor'." He paused, as causality asserted itself. "How stupid I must seem; how could you possibly know to call me Harold when this is, I think, actually... well... have I introduced myself as Harold before?"

It did occur to him that this was possibly the oddest and maddest conversation he had had so far to date with Rose, and something compelled him to state the scintillatingly obvious. "I'm so sorry; this must seem so confusing and out of order." A hand reached into his waistcoat, pulled out his pocket-watch, flipped the lid... Harold glanced at it for a moment, looked off into the middle distance, and snapped it shut. "Yes, quite so, this really must seem out of order. I suppose I am a rather out-of-order sort of chap. Please do call me Harold, and I would love to have a cup of tea - any kind of tea - with you whereupon I will try to explain, without using too many words why I leave cups around the library."

He offered a polite smile that was trying to be endearing, yet somehow bashful at the same time.

Rose Pemberton

He mumbled something barely comprehensible about magical tea varietals and this time Rose couldn't help a little giggle. She struggled to even imagine Professor Prendergast as planting anything and taking care of another living organism. He seemed to be rather overwhelmed just by taking care of himself. Still, the mental imagine of him trying to get tea plants to grow in school greenhouses was utterly hilarious to her.

Listening to him ramble on, Rose felt gleeful. She was used to being marginalised as muggleborn, obscure, plain and little - but this grown man, exceptional arithmancer that he had to be, was supremely awkward in her presence. How was that even possible? Normally, she had to fight for respect and being treated properly every step of the way. Professor Prendergast, well Harold, was yielding rather more easily. She considered him again. Yes, she had been wrong about him. He seemed like a decent man even if perhaps a little clumsy and absent-minded.

"Oh, don't worry Harold. It's already forgotten." Part of her wanted to reach for his hand and squeeze it in reassurance but Rose stifled the impulse. She also had a suspicion that he would be even more nervous if she made any such attempt. She was starting to have a sneaking suspicion he had spent the last twenty years of his life with his nose stuck in a book. He seemed so unused to human interaction.

"Why don't you make yourself comfortable at one of the tables. With the students not due back for another couple of weeks we've go the place to ourselves. I'll be right back with some tea and perhaps some biscuits if you fancy?"

She didn't really wait for him to give her a response and was already dashing in direction of the door. "I'll just be a couple of minutes. Obviously, feel free to check out any of the books."

She made a quick dash for her quarters to put on a kettle and prepared a nice pot of assam tea for them. She quickly arranged two empty cups, saucers, a milk jug and a sugar bowl onto a tray, together with a small plate of honey and lavender macarons she had left on the kitchen counter. Grace would probably be scolding her for feeding them to a new professor, but Rose was sure she could come up with something to make it up to her daughter.

Rose rushed back to the library as fast as she could, her heels clicking on the solid stone floors. Her tray was levitating behind her and she carefully place it on one of the empty tables in the library.

"Thank you for waiting," she said breathlessly. "Why don't you pour us a cup and tell me what made you decide to start teaching? I hope it's not too forward a thing to say, but you seem like the type who would be more comfortable with just his research."

Harold Prendergast

Harold watched Rose scurry off excitedly - it was some surprise to him, after all it was just a cup of tea with a fellow academic of sorts. Just the sort of harmless thing two adults did when they had something in common...?

He had found his way to sitting down - to his own surprise he managed to sit without being supremely awkward, but anything is easier when you're not being watched in the doing of it. It seemed like the sort of day where if it could possibly go wrong, it would conspire with wayward abandon to go wrong. Broken chair, split trousers, books knocked asunder, or possibly the unthinkable, spilt tea.

He settled into the seat, relishing its sturdiness and took a moment to sit back and try to relax. He honestly hadn't expected to... had he made a friend? No, heavens, it was far too soon to call their relationship one of 'friendship'. It really was two academic people sharing a brief moment of respite against the complexities of the world, across a cup of tea. Nothing could go wrong with a good, hot cup of tea. And it was, just a good, hot cup of tea. Possibly with some kind of macaron.

"Thank you, Rose, that tea smells simply divine."

He felt slightly more sure of himself where teapots were concerned; he felt like he could trust himself to not shake or spill the tea and whatever nervousness he had would hopefully fade into the distance.

He gestured to the sugar bowl, noting that there were both white and demerara sugar cubes in the bowl, "One lump or two?" It wouldn't be proper to put the milk into the tea until the sugar was in.

"Well, actually, you're quite right, quite right indeed. I was a researcher, of sorts, before I came here. But after a while, well, rather, I came to realise that there was a little more to life than being inside a laboratory all my days, and a library many of my evenings."

He took two white sugar cubes, delicately dropped them into his own tea with a plop and a ting, poured a little milk. "There are also some things I, uh, well, actually didn't want to research. The people I worked for were not the kind who, well, gratefully receive a negative answer as to whether you believe in the ethicality of what you are doing. I learned that Professor Dumbledore was in need of a new Arithmancy teacher, and I could continue my experiments in a more... salutary fashion, as well as trying to share what I had discovered about the nature of magic."

Harold gazed into the middle distance, idly pulled out his pocket-watch, flipped it open and glanced at it. "One thing Dumbledore doesn't talk about enough is what this school produces; yes, it is the foremost school of learning in magical Britain, but it would be, well, rather splendid if we managed to make a few magical discoveries here, real barn-stormer, changing-all-of-known-magical-science type things." He snapped the watch shut rather abruptly, and secreted it away in a pocket again. "I suppose in some way it always bothered me that Hogwarts is a wonderful school for formative witches and wizards but where does one go to deepen their knowledge of magic for the greater good? There is a part of me, I must confess, that would try to teach more advanced magic than the usual curriculum, should students wish to learn beyond their seventh year."

Sipping his tea, smiling appreciatively, Harold looked at Rose. "What about you? How did you - clearly talented and knowledgeable about Runes - end up here?"

Rose Pemberton

February 10, 2021, 10:11:30 pm #10 Last Edit: February 10, 2021, 10:13:54 pm by Royal_Poet
"Only one sugar." Good. He was a sensible man and put the sugar first and the milk later. Rose wasn't sure if they could have been friends had he done it any other way. Those people who put the milk into the cup first were philistines. Really all British people should agree on this already. Those who claimed the exact opposite were just trying to be provocative and confrontational due to consuming too much incorrectly made tea. It was as simple as that.

"You must be an awful lot smarter than you look," Rose teased him gently. "Independent research, big scientific discoveries, a theory changing-all-of-known-magical-science? Are you sure Hogwarts is right for you? We mostly put up with a bunch of disrespectful eleven- to seventeen-year-olds here trying to our best to educate them and give the space to develop into a well-rounded individual." She chuckled and picked up one of the macarons from the dish in front of them to take a bite out of.

"And I don't know about talented, Harold," she said modestly. "Whoever told you that is clearly trying to be very polite. When I graduated from school, I was planning on joining the Runic Artefact Licensing Office at the Ministry of Magic, alas they only had a vacancy in International Magical Cooperation hence I worked there as a clerk for a couple of years. Really not much to say about it. I was so young when I had my daughter Grace and then I had my hands full with raising her. Not much room for pursuing academic interests since. Maybe this year, with Grace starting classes..."

She trailed off and scowled slightly, hoping Harold wouldn't have any questions about that. She really didn't know the man well enough to tell him anything more about her situation. Even her own parents had been less than accepting of her circumstances. How could she expect a perfect stranger to not be horrified and outright appalled by her history? She was so uncomfortable, there really were no words for it. Not for the first time in her life she caught herself thinking that her life would be an awful lot easier if Grace's father were dead. Could she just lie and tell everyone that he was?

"What about you Harold? Have you worked with children before or do you have children?" To her own surprise she found it easy enough to picture him with a studious, nerdy little boy. It was just the more rambunctious children about whom she was really concerned. A polite um, ah or tut would hardly discourage them from wreaking havoc in his class.

"Seeing how you're new, I'd watch out for permanent sticking charms. Last year, Professor Meredyth had a whole lot of trouble with students placing those on his desk chair. His clothing was completely ruined." The incident was still rather vibrant in her mind and was now causing her to blush. It wasn't long after this prank that Meredyth had resigned.

Harold Prendergast

Harold smiled politely. "No, no children. My wife and I... it was, well, never one of those things we thought too much about; we were always too busy, you see, with our work to be consider changing direction like that. Not that we didn't talk about it - and perhaps one day we might have, but that's a little rather by-the-by now."

He pondered the comments about Rose and her daughter - she obviously loved her daughter very much, especially as a single parent, things couldn't possibly be easy for her, not with things how they were nowadays. Even the last few years of "cultural revolution" as he had been given to understand - not that he fully understood muggle politics to any significant degree - hadn't really changed what he understood of the single parent culture. It seemed prudent not to mention it - it would obviously be a sore topic for her. Though Harold thought if he wanted to engage her self-belief, something she clearly had some issues with, he could always take a positive tone on the subject, but gosh, that would be provocatively forward of him. Not that it mattered to him whether the father was alive or dead - his absence was clearly a sore point, and one best left for another day, if at all.

Changing the subject slightly, wanting to give the woman some encouragement and uplift her spirits, "Well, there is one thing to observer; Dumbledore is of course a generous soul - after all, he gave me a job here with no proven teacher credentials to speak of - but the one thing that I've always rather thought of the man is that he always seemed a believer in giving people the opportunity to engage themselves."

He sat back, sipped some of the tea. "In my case, for example, I have no teaching experience, but I am fluent in all of the syllabus of Arithmancy, and I'm rather looking forward to the idea of passing on everything I know of the subject to those wishing to attain either an OWL or a NEWT in the subject. Dumbledore has noted my apparent ability and willing to give me an opportunity to engage with students. But make no mistake; if Dumbledore did not think I had what it might take, I am certain he would not have offered. I daresay he recognised a talent in you that you might not have observed in yourself that makes you eminently qualified to help steward the next generation of magical minds."

As he sat back, he suddenly thought about what Rose had said about sticking charms, and had to check if there were any on his chair - but of course, not in the library, not under Rose's watchful eye.

Rose Pemberton

Just when Rose thought they had a long last found a comfortable pace with each other the conversation was becoming rather difficult. She hadn't meant to upset her new colleague, but it seemed that the subject of his wife and family wasn't a happy one for Professor Prendergast. Rose would have liked to know more, but it was hardly appropriate to give Harold a hard time. If he wanted her to know more, he'd eventually volunteer the information. For now, Rose just nodded politely thinking it best to let it go.

She came to regret her decision almost instantaneously, because Professor Prendergast's new line of conversation made her viscerally uncomfortable. She'd thought about why Dumbledore had hired her many times before, but her own assessment of the situation wasn't nearly as flattering as the way Harold put it. She'd been struggling to put food on the table. Life had been so difficult. How could anybody see anything in her other than what she was: a failure of a witch.

She cast her eyes down and sighted. It was rather charming that Prendergast was trying to lift her up and treat her as an academic equal, but she knew that this couldn't quite be true. Here she was having a cup of tea with a man who wanted to change all known magical science, while her biggest ambition was to do well in her current role. It became rather painfully obvious to her that she had stopped dreaming some time eleven years ago. Merlin, had it really been this long?

"That's very kind of you to say." She couldn't bring herself to even look at him. If she did, maybe he would catch on that he wasn't having tea with an intelligent rune crafter, but rather a desperate single mother who was still struggling with what had happened to her.

Rose took another sip from her cup, noting that it was only half-finished. If their conversation continued like this, she was in for a very awkward experience before she got to the bottom of your cup. "Anyway," she stuttered, "I'm sure an important researcher like yourself has more important things to do than chat with the librarian. Shall I leave you to it?"

She was probably being very rude, but the urge to get away from Professor Prendergast was growing by the second. How did this guy get to her like this? She supposed it had to because she'd reluctantly started to like him. Making a friend would have been nice. Rose fancied herself think-skinned, but about that she had clearly been wrong. All it took was to remind her of her self-doubts.

Harold Prendergast

"On the contrary, my dear... I have experiments but they can all wait. Rather, I have spent, I think, too long cooped up in a laboratory amidst notebooks and machinations and paraphernalia, and not nearly enough amongst people." He took another sip of his tea.

"On the subject of Dumbledore... the man is a kind soul but make no mistake, he's a shrewd man. I grant you that he has a soft spot for people in need - but even the best of people in need are not... shall we say... unilaterally given affordances. One of his mantras is that 'help is always given to those who need it', but I've never seen Dumbledore give help to people who in his - fearsome - estimation that do not deserve it, even if his mantra might say otherwise."

Harold put his cup down, looking Rose fully in the face - she had taken to looking down into her cup, presumably wishing it would swallow her whole much as he had privately wished for something similar. "I don't know if you believe in something as fanciful as destiny - it is a rather quaint notion, wouldn't you say? But I, well, feel quite strongly that destiny, or fate, or however you want to call it is coming. That we will have parts to play before... whatever is coming... is rather done with us. I suspect there are things in the world that we do not see; those greater than us may be forged in the fires of fate, but it falls to us to light the flames, and if you shan't trust me on the subject of your formidability of your abilities, trust Albus Dumbledore."

He dipped into his pocket, reached for his pocketwatch again. The face of it ticked smoothly through its motions, the springs uncoiling, the movement of the escapement measuring the moments like a mechanical heartbeat. "Yes," he said a little distantly, "something is coming."

With that he took up his tea, finished the cup, and got up slowly, "Would tomorrow lunch time be agreeable? I believe having tea over a sunny lunchtime would lend itself to at least myself seeming less, well, personally awkward. A spot of afternoon tea here in the library, I think would do wonders. I can't bake macarons, I'm afraid, but the house elves have a simply wonderful ├ęclair recipe, and one of them owes me a favour."

Rose Pemberton

For a moment Rose was rather worried that Professor Prendergast wouldn't let her make an escape. She still had the impression that he meant well and was trying to build her up, but she didn't feel ready to have that kind of conversation with a man who had been a stranger until a couple of minutes ago. She wanted to trust him, really, but she was just not sure that she could. Not yet at least. Not after what had happened to her before.

She couldn't help but let out an audible sigh. "Fate still owes me," she declared in a meek voice. It was as much detail as she felt she could give Harold. "I suppose I shall put my trust in your Arithmancy when you tell me that something is coming. Let's hope it's not more of the same."

She wasn't sure, but when he grew distant for a moment, she wondered what sort of nightmares haunted Harold's past. Something about the look in his eyes, his demeanour made her feel like they were cut from the same cloth. They both had things they couldn't or maybe shouldn't talk about.

"Yes, tea tomorrow afternoon sounds nice. Seeing how the weather is so pleasant, shall we take a trip into Hogsmeade? It's quite pleasant outside of term time. We could meet by the gate, 3pm?"