Floo Network

Lammas
Bad Moon Rising

Started by M. B. Montgomery, March 25, 2021, 10:43:07 pm

M. B. Montgomery

The weather had been fantastic for the last couple of days. Summer had finally come to Scotland, however brief it may be. It was almost a shame to consider leaving now, but as the freshly appointed professor of Defense Against The Dark Arts Msaed had been asked to reinforce the schools wards. He'd been patching the charm work in many places over the last few weeks, but there were still areas he wanted to reinforce with an additional layer of magic. With Lammas upon them, it seemed like the ideal time to add further spells. A helping hand wouldn't  go amiss either. 

Naturally, that made him think of Prendergast. The poor chap was decently skilled and more than likely in desperate need of distraction. Judging by their last conversation they'd live through some similar situations, and while they didn't have much in common otherwise, Msaed supposed it was enough of a basis for a friendship. Picking up paper and quill, he put together a quick note for the other man.

QuoteHarold,

I was wondering if you'd be willing to give me a hand refreshing the school wards. A lot of the spells are much easier to put in place with two casters.

We'd definitely need some Lammas bread from Godric's Hollow. Why don't we head there tonight,  take care of the purchases and maybe grab a pint at the festival. I haven't been in years and I thought it might be enjoyable.

Anyway, I hope you can come. Why don't we meet by the castle gates at 4pm and walk down to Hogsmeade to apparate from there?

Also hope you liked meeting my wife Bonnie. Please give her an owl treat if you have any. She likes the ones with dried berries.

Sid   

He sealed the note with green wax and retrieved Bonnie, his now-owl. As he did he thought he would never get used to having her deliver his mail. There was no helping it though, she had turned into an animal when her malediction had taken hold and there was nothing much he could do about it. Keeping her cooped up inside of his quarters no doubt would have been even more unkind. Still, as he lifted her fro. Her perch he wished she'd turn back into a woman already.

"Oh Bonnie," he muttered to her. "I'm so sorry. But... would you devilry this letter for me. It's for Harold and I'm trying to make friends with him. Will be good to him?" He wasn't sure why he was asking, as Bonnie had always been good-natured since turning into a bird. She hooted at him and for a moment Msaed thought that she understood him. Maybe, she did. He'd thought for years that she was rather smarter than the average owl. Once the message was attached to her leg , he opened the window to let her outside to stretch her wings.

Bonnie Clarke-Montgomery the owl took off and took a few laps around the castle grounds before appearing outside Harold Prendergast's window to deliver her husband's message.

Harold Prendergast

The last couple of days had been brighter than the murky grey that "summer" had so far produced this far north. Though, as a native Englander, Harold was rather used to the pallid and dour atmosphere that tended to cloud the British isles. But it had been brighter, and so had his mood as a result.

He was sat in his office, cup of tea in hand, sifting through his notes for his first lectures on practical applications of thaumaturgical study, when he heard the faint noise of a practised landing of an owl on his desk. It was soft, graceful and entirely unlike the usual landings Bubo managed to achieve, and as a result almost silent.

The owl stuck out its leg, attached was a note. Harold gently untied it from the owl's leg, and began to read.

He muttered to himself as he did so, "Renewing the castle wards - yes, of course, splendid idea, old chap, perfectly splendid. Lammas bread? I haven't been to Godric's Hollow in, well, far too long."

He reached the parting note about Bonnie and could simply voice an "Oh," sort of note at the back of his throat. He looked down at the letter, looked at the owl who, by this time, was pacing up and down his desk somewhat expectantly. "Oh, yes, well, of course, let me just get you..." He rummaged in his desk looking for the bags of owl treats.

"Unfortunately I don't seem to have any of the ones with dried berries in, rather I do have these ones that are shaped like mice and the bag says they're premium... I hope that's... well...?" He fished out a few and left them on the desk in front of where the owl - Bonnie - was pacing.

No, pacing possibly wasn't the word. Strutting. Strutting elegantly. Harold was sure if that strutting were being done by human legs, there would be a wiggle in the hips, but owl joints don't work quite the same way. As Bonnie pounced on the first and second mice in the small pile, she turned to Harold and... he could have sworn that she winked at him. Of course, he must have imagined it - owls don't wink - but then he remembered that this owl before him wasn't always an owl.

He sat back, sipping his tea, watching the owl before him nibble and munch on the owl treats he'd left, and he couldn't help but notice that to call Bonnie an owl was... perhaps slightly incorrect. Yes, she looked like an owl but the joints were slightly the wrong size. The wings too long for the body - or perhaps the body not long enough compared to the legs and feet, which were slightly off-proportion too. Harold supposed it must be the result of the transformation.

He looked at the letter again. 4pm it said, and Harold glanced at his pocket-watch - it was only 2pm now. Plenty of time for another cup of tea, time to finish sorting his notes and then meet Sid at the castle gates.

It was a few minutes to four when Harold strolled up, freshly pressed suit, scarf, thoroughly cleaned glasses and a pleasant smile. "Thank you for inviting me to Lammas; I don't think I've ever been to see the festival itself; read about it, of course. And of course I'll help you with the wards - you're perfectly correct that two spellcasters are rather better than one for something like this."

Harold paused, the smile faded. "Also, I'm very sorry about your wife. I didn't have any of the treats with berries, but she seemed to like the mice-shaped treats I did have. I trust she found her way back to your quarters? She is rather striking as an owl - but I'm sure you must miss her deeply."

He gave it what he thought was an appropriate moment of silence - then a couple of moments longer, before gesturing in the direction of Hogsmeade. "Shall we?" It was awkward, and Harold knew it. One day he might learn to be less so.

M. B. Montgomery

"She was somewhat more striking as a human," Msaed commented wryly. "But if she's taken the mouse treats, I reckon you must have made a good first impression on her."

It was hard to stay good-humoured about this.

"It defies description, Harold," he said eventually. "I've simultaneously seen Bonnie every day for the last 27 years and yet I've not seen her since then too. Some days it's easier than others."

She situation was pretty awkward. Even with Harold understanding his circumstances it didn't make for an easy topic of discussion. And yet, there was something to be said for having somebody to potentially talk it over with.  Msaed usually avoided it, because people got caught up in feeling sorry for him and that always made things awkward. His instinct told him talking with Harold would be different. The other professor understood what loss felt like.

"To be fair, I think you have it harder. At least I know where she is and what happened to her. Though I won't lie. It wasn't easy to find out about her malediction after nearly twenty years of marriage. I think if she could have gotten away with it, she'd have preferred not to tell me at all. The being lied to for twenty years hurt in a way nothing else ever could. Makes you question everything." 

He paused for a moment of relatively comfortable silence before setting off in direction of Hogsmeade.

"Let's get going."

They walked for a bit and Msaed found himself quietly amused by the notion. He'd been to and from Hogsmeade a couple of times but this was the first time in fifty years he was making the journey with a friend. The memory took him back to happier times, before the war, before he'd lost Bonnie.

"So Miss Pemberton tells me the best place for Lammas bread is Addington's bakery and that the market and fairground a well worth seeing. I think it's roughly been forever since I've last been to a festival. What about you?"

Somehow, Msaed couldn't quite picture Harold as a socially active person, but the other man had surprised him before. Maybe, his life had been less of a mess before his wife had disappeared. It seemed unlikely though. Msaed didn't know much about the department of Mysteries, but he'd never heard of such a thing as a happy Unspeakable. Maybe, that was because one didn't hear much about Unspeakables in general.
"And I think we're far enough out to apparate now. We've just cleared the wards. After you."

Harold Prendergast

Harold internally winced hearing about Sid's wife, Bonnie, and while it was kind of the man to be sympathetic to his own situation with Sylvia, it didn't help that he felt sorry for Sid - at least with Sylvia, he could imagine she was merely lost somewhere and living her best life. Or, perhaps, living her best life wherever she was. Bonnie's fate seemed so much more tragic in a way precisely because it wasn't uncertain; if no news is good news, uncertainty at least leaves you with the notion that hope dies last.

He also idly wondered if Sid's commentary on honesty in a relationship fed into his suggestion that Sylvia might not be where he had chosen to believe she was. That if you'd gone through life and had twenty years of it turned upside down over a huge lie, it might not just make you question yourself and your own situation but also that of the people you met in your travels. Some minuscule part of Harold contemplated that Sid's questioning of the situation was some kind of projection - hope really does die last - but it was hard to find fault with the man's reasonings.

He thought about breaking the silence just as Sid set off for Hogsmeade, to use that moment to offer an apology about Bonnie, about to proffer the opinion that knowing was probably better than not knowing, at least if you hoped for a happier outcome - hope dies last, but when the hope is gone, so too the happy outcome. But Sid seemed comfortable enough having talked about it and moving on - and perhaps just for today at least, Harold could allow himself to do the same.

"Me? It's been years since I've been to any kind of festival; I grew up, well, in a charming little village in Surrey - the sort of place that they still have Maypole dancing for fertility rituals come the onset of summer, rather quaint really now that I think about it. I'm afraid that as I grew older I became quite something of a bookworm and what the muggles call a physicist and ended up at the Ministry."

He looked around as they reached the edge of the wards around the castle. Prickling of the skin, just enough to set his teeth on edge.

"I have, however, been to a few markets and fairgrounds in my time just to see, well, whatever there is to see, and I should be rather delighted to see them in Godric's Hollow again; Sylvia and I visited early in our relationship - she was originally from Godric's Hollow - and she was eager to introduce me to her friends." Harold frowned. He hadn't actually remembered meeting any of her friends, though, only that was her original excitement for the trip. He idly wondered if it might be opportune to ask around while he was here. But, discreetly, of course. Raising a kerfuffle would simply never do.

"Unlike the redoubtable Miss Pemberton, I cannot vouch for the bakery - but I'd be rather game for trying a scone or two."

The tingling had stopped, they were clear of the wards now. Sid had just indicated that he wanted Harold to go first - politeness being second only to cleanliness in the universe.

Harold took off his glasses, folded them into his breast pocket. Experience told him it was better that way. Then he recalled the lessons he'd had many years ago: Destination, Determination, Deliberation. His destination was clear: the market square in Godric's Hollow, just as he remembered it. His resolve was clear - he had a job to do and more than one reason to be there. And there was everything deliberate about this act, it was practised, it was thoughtful, it was full of intent.

He visualised the place, visualised himself standing in the place, looking at the market square, inhaled and disapparated. It always felt unpleasantly like being drunk, he thought - from the point of view of a glass of water.

M. B. Montgomery

Msaed still felt a little bit rattled and was glad that Harold apparated first. This left him with a few moments of privacy to calm his thoughts. Maybe, he shouldn't have talked about Bonnie. It still upset him, even after all this time. Msaed supposed that if he didn't challenge himself the chances that he would ever get better were very slim indeed. Having confided in Harold was probably a good thing. Perhaps, next time he should time it more carefully, to avoid the thoughts lingering on his mind shortly before apparition.

He took a deep breath and focused his mind on Godric's Hollow. He pictured the pavement outside the pub on the village's main street. It was easy to do. The half-timbered mock Tudor architecture was memorable, and he had spent some of his happier days meeting there with friends and family. He took a determined step forward and mere moments later found himself exactly where he had pictured. He quickly checked himself. Thankfully, nothing had been spliced off.

Harold was standing a few paces ahead of him further down the street. Msaed quickly caught up, plastering on a smile that wasn't a hundred percent genuine. Act as if, he thought to himself, echoing a sentiment his wife had often espoused. She wouldn't want him to be in a dark and gloomy mood when he was about to attend a celebration.

The village was decked out beautifully. Almost every door on the main street featured a wheat wreath embellished with seasonal flowers. In the distance, Msaed heard the hustle and bustle of the market and entertainment. Addington's bakery at the end of the street had a queue that stretched outside its building onto the street. Just how many people had taken the trip to Godric's Hollow today?

Msaed gave Harold a quick glance. "Shall we queue and get the important bit over and done with? I was thinking of taking seven of the breads as it makes for a magically potent number. Normally, I would divide a loaf in four parts to cast a ritual, placing on piece of bread in each corner - but with the size of the castle it seems to me that just four small pieces won't confer much protection on the castle and its inhabitants.  Not to mention that there are a couple of more corners than just four. Of course, there are also a number of smaller buildings to renew the wards on out on the school grounds."

Come to think of it, maybe seven was a low estimate. Msaed realised that maybe he should have thought this through a little more before embarking on the trip, but given the length of queue in front of them he figured Harold and he would have plenty of time to work out the correct quantities and tie this in with an arithmantically significant number.

"Maybe, we can even double the ward. I am worried our muggleborn students might become a target before long. Public sentiment is rather worrisome these days."

Harold Prendergast

Harold was relieved to note that he had arrived, all limbs intact, in the market square of Godric's Hollow, and quickly reasserted his glasses to their familiar spot. While it had been some time since he had last visited, clearly the memory was as potent as ever - he arrived to find himself standing almost exactly, to the foot, where he pictured himself standing. Which, he thought, was not bad for an apparition from the north of Scotland to the West Country and with him a shade out of practice. Though he did notice that his glasses were dirtier than he remembered, but that was a quick clean away with his pocket handkerchief.

He was somewhat lost in thought when Sid arrived - he had imagined that his fellow professor would have arrived almost as quickly as he did, since he got the impression his colleague was more familiar with Godric's Hollow and would be more comfortable about apparating to the correct place simply by way of having done so more recently.

Harold thought about Sid's question - getting it over and out the way - and considered this was a wise move. If the whole village were this busy, fetching the bread might be the least of their problems.

"My own estimations were marginally higher - rather, I should prefer to err on the side of caution and purchase more bread than not, and what I don't use, I can consume at a later date with something quite delicious added." Harold smiled. "For the main castle, I was going to suggest twelve - while not as arithmantically established as three or seven, its factors provide a great deal of symmetric choices and, well, that seems to me to be more potent in practice than anything that isn't cleanly prime or something in the perfect progression series. Add in maybe another half a dozen loaves for strengthening the outbuildings, the Quidditch area, the groundskeeper's hut, the greenhouses and the like and I shouldn't wonder if nearer to twenty might not be more appropriate."

Harold thought about Sid's point for a moment. "I must admit that, well, I haven't kept up much with the news or the comings and goings of society, but I suppose I am to gather that there has been some public events against the muggleborn? If so, then we should absolutely want to strengthen the wards." Harold muttered to himself ruefully about not having kept up with the news. This was precisely the sort of thing he had found that his time squirrelled away in a laboratory was apt to miss.

"There is, uh, one other thing while we're here. I should find a tailor while I am here; Rose -- Miss Pemberton -- has asked me to accompany her to a ball. One of those socialite engagements. Miss Pemberton has indicated I should have appropriate robes for the occasion - and quite frankly, I am at a loss for what is considered suitable. My father tried to get me to some of these social events as a younger man but, well, I was never much for the social high life."

He settled himself in to the queue, waiting for their turn.

M. B. Montgomery

April 12, 2021, 01:36:20 pm #6 Last Edit: April 12, 2021, 04:33:00 pm by Royal_Poet
Msaed smiled uncomfortably. Professor Prendergast was probably correct with his calculations, but that meant they would have to carry around a lot of bread. Of course, this matter was easily solved with a spell or two, but he wondered if the bakery would even sell them twenty loaves of lammas bread. It was a busy day and he didn't want any of the children and visitors to have go without just because they'd bought up the least of Mrs Addington's stock.

"I think you're right about this. Better to have a little too much then go home with not enough to complete the spells. And this is too good an opportunity to pass up. These old rituals might not be quite as potent as some of the modern wards, but they layer on so beautifully that it's not like you have to decide to only have one. And with all that's in the brewing, well, let's just say the more we can shore up our defensive capabilities the better."

He hated having to say this. The defences of a school should never be a consideration in a war. However, with the notoriety that Dumbledore brought to Hogwarts it was easy to see how the school and maybe even its professors could become a potential target. Not for the first time Msaed found himself with deeply mixed feelings about their headmaster. Hailed as the wizard of a generation the public would look to him for conflict resolution rather than to the minister of magic as they rightfully should. It was easy to see why. The wizard who had defeated Grindelwald versus an ordinary politician.

Harold's relative lack of knowledge on the subject surprised Msaed. He paused for a moment before giving a run down.

"There's a new dark wizard on the rise and he's amassing followers. Crime against muggleborns witches and wizards is up. There's been some murders which the ministry has mostly tried to present as unconnected incidents. Anyway, with the squibs marching for rights in London there's a whole new rhethoric in certain circles that we wouldn't have squibs if the muggleborns didn't steal the magic away - oh don't ask me to explain the reasoning of madmen. Suffice to say things are heating up on both sides."

Msaed paused for a moment to sort his thoughts. "The followers call themselves Death Eaters. Bit of a stupid name, but what to expect of such people. They're casting their group insignia after every crime committed. Skull with a snake flowing through it. It's all bloodist sentiment. It's eerily similar to the Grindelwald movement. Same people, same extremist views, but all new levels of violence. I think they're gearing up to just eradicate their enemies rather than subjugate them. I don't think Jenkins has the gumption to do much about it. She's too afraid of alienating her pureblood voters to take a stance."

There was another part of Msaed that wanted to say he could feel a coming conflict in his bones and in his blood. It wasn't exactly a prophecy - anyone with a brain could work out where the current politics were going - but an uncanny feeling of certainty that he just knew must have its origins in his latent power. He rarely felt this sure of anything. Part of him wanted to ask his seer mother to confirm, but the thought of being proven right was so unpleasant that living with the hope of being wrong as infinitely preferable.

Thankfully, Harold switched to another topic of conversation that quite surprised Msaed. Harold and Madame Pemberton were a thing? He was taking her out? That titbit of conversation was quite confusing. Wasn't Harold still hung up on what had happened to his wife? Alas, Msaed couldn't bring himself to blame his colleague. The librarian was pretty enough and Harold was only doing what Sid wished he'd be able to do himself: live a little.

"A society ball? Sure thing, we can do that." Msaed had been a regular to fancy occasions Gringotts hosted for its investors. "Do you know who is hosting?"

Come to think of it, Msaed didn't have Madame Pemberton down as a blushing debutante. She also didn't seem like old money. Had she bought tickets to one of the public balls in London? That of course was a different matter to attending an event that was part of the season. He shook his head. Attending something like this seemed not only rather unlike Harold, but he couldn't quite picture Rose Pemberton there either. Sure, she was a fashionable witch, but he'd more easily picture her running through a field with a flower crown in her hair than attending one of those stuffy occasions.

"Also, you're a dark horse, Harold. Didn't see that coming."

Harold Prendergast

Harold took the news about a rising dark wizard with no small amount of concern. He really had been cooped up in that lab for too long. It was, he supposed, only a matter of time before another Grindlewald went through the motions, though this seemed altogether more sinister. Grindlewald was, from what he had heard, primarily about muggle vs magical - not so much about blood purity. Especially as his own lineage would be unlikely to be sufficient if what Sid was saying was true, and Harold had absolutely no reason to doubt him.

"If the oncoming storm is what you're suggesting, perhaps we should go with my upper bound calculations. Hogwarts is unfortunately rather bound to be a target in the minds of some of these... fanatics, you might say. It should never hurt to be prepared in any occasion though."

But the tone of the conversation changed, as Harold had mentioned the society ball and Sid was, slightly unexpectedly, more receptive to it as a subject, possibly to avoid contemplating the future of wizarding kind, but also because he seemed to derive some small amount of amusement out of Harold's discomfiture.

"The ball is being hosted in September in Mayfair, London and the note I received from Miss Pemberton as to its details suggest it is being hosted by the Bannatynes. I must confess, that I know rather little about them, save the name, and that they must be of considerable standing to afford a venue in Mayfair, even for a temporary affair."

Sid was right, it was something of a dark horse moment - at least superficially. "Well, actually, I should rather note that it is less of a social engagement and more of a... what you might call reconnaissance mission. There will, naturally, be functionaries and luminaries of the society pages, but I shouldn't wonder if there will also be the movers and the shakers within the Ministry present too - how could they not? It turns out that both you and Miss Pemberton have some... question marks over the goings-on at the Ministry with respect to my wife, and we are going to get some answers, in unofficial channels, of course. And for that I have to look the part."

Harold added with a wry smile. "I don't think I could, quite, cut the stunning figure of that secret agent in the muggle 'films'. I don't think I could say with complete conviction, 'The name's Prendergast, Harold Prendergast.'"

Before them the queue had started to shrink, and they would presumably get into the bakery soon.

M. B. Montgomery

Msaed inclined his head to the side, rather unconvinced by the story Prendergast was giving him. The Bannatyne Ball? How did librarian Pemberton have connections to get invited there? She didn't seem like the sort of person that would be well-connected in society. Still, this was strange.

"You mean to tell me that you are taking a single lady to the social even of the season, but you are there on business only."

It sounded even more strange to him now that he had said the words out loud.

"I mean, I guess lucky you. Those invitations are more or less impossible to obtain. I hope you find what you are looking for there."

Msaed decided against investigating this further. Talking to Pemberton it was obvious to him that the relationship between her and their new Arithmancy professor was a complicated one. He could have sworn that just a couple of days ago he'd seen the librarian leave rooms or walk the other way whenever she crossed Harold's path and now this? Yes, better not to get involved there.

Finally, it was there turn at the counter and Msaed was able to make their purchase. Twenty freshly baked loaves of lammas bread were nearly stacked into a bag without making too big of a dent on Mrs Addington's stock. Apparently, there were more than just a few people buying in bulk for warding and protection purposes. Msaed reckoned this day had to be one of the most profitabke ones in the year for the bakery. It didn't look like the bread required a lot of fine and expensive ingredients. Margins had to be decent.

"Do you know your way around here for a decent clothier or tailor?" Msaed asked. It had been a while for him since his last visit to Godric's Hollow and he was trying to remember what their options were.

"I think Cavendish-Bentinck has a store further down the street if memory serves correctly. Are we trying there? And exactly what are we going for? Classic and elegant? Bold and making a statement? Handsome?"

He almost cringed. Somehow, the thought of whatever this weird arrangement between Prendergast and Pemberton was just made him feel uncomfortable on their behalf. His thoughts drifted back to the last staff meeting and the awkwardly charged atmosphere in the room at the time.

Harold Prendergast

Harold half-grimaced. "Well, when you put it like that, it does sound rather... unusual, but yes, that is the nature of the evening. I believe Miss Pemberton used to work with associates of the Bannatynes and is a personal friend of Mrs Bannatyne, or somesuch." He paused, "I would like to believe that I should get at least something resembling an answer or two, though I daresay it might just be a politely fun evening with Miss Pemberton."

Fortunately, he was spared further inquiry on the subject - mostly because it was presently their turn at the counter, and promptly there were twenty loaves of lammas bread packed into a bag for them. There were vague worries about running out of stock but the bakery had evidently prepared - and it seemed others had a similar idea about buying in bulk, presumably for warding. Certainly there had been the sporadic mumblings around them that he'd sort of half-attuned to on the subject. On some level it amused him that others were having much the same debate he and Sid had had, on the quantity of bread that would be needed. It smelled fresh and warm and cosy and unfortunately not consumable at this particular time.

"Hmm, Cavendish-Bentinck, you say? The name seems vaguely familiar, but, well, it's been a while since I've been in the village, and I don't recall visiting the tailor on that occasion. There were rather more pressing matters to attend to, I'm afraid. But I have some idea of the kind of thing I'm looking for - classical, not particularly 'fashionable' and certainly not that modern ghastly 'trendy' style. Perfectly suitable for other occasions, but not a society ball for the socialites, at least, not the men. Or, rather, not the men who do not wish to stand out, such as myself."

Harold looked around the open street, "This way, I believe? I'm certain the store will have someone who can advise on the fashion, I just couldn't remember whether there was a tailor here in Godric's Hollow or not." And, he added mentally, once we're done, we should find somewhere to have a drink.

He wondered what Sid must think of all this. It was, after all, rather unusual. But Rose was an unusual person - and so was Sid in his own way. He wondered also what Rose must make of all this and blushed ever so slightly.

M. B. Montgomery

Msaed tried to listen to Harold's requirements without judgement but struggled to keep his opinion on the matter to himself. Why would anyone attend an event as prestigious as the Bannatyne Ball without wanting to stand out? Especially when accompanied by a lady. If he'd been invited Msaed would have looked for rich jewel-coloured robes and fancy accessories, but he supposed different personalities had different needs.

"How unremarkable are we talking here? You wouldn't want to be confused with a butler and I don't think the lady would appreciate. Even if this is just a friendly outing, trust me that a witch will always put a lot of effort into her wardrobe. Bonnie and I used to attend these when I were still working at Gringotts. I think we left four hundred galleons on a dress before. Vapid people and vapid conversation. The dancing is fun though and sometimes a lot less stressful. Fewer people to talk with while you are on the floor."

The way to Cavendish-Bentinck's store was easily found, seeing how Godric's Hollow wasn't all that big. Harold seemed to remember the way better than he did and navigated them there in no time. Just before entering the shop Msaed gave Harold a questioning look.

"Do you have a budget for this?"

He felt embarrassed having to ask, but he had no idea what Unspeakables earned. Judging by the way Harold dressed he couldn't be destitute. Still, Msaed would loathe the pass the man a dinner jacket to try on that he would have to pay off in instalments. He looked at the floor awkwardly, hoping to get this part of the conversation over and done with very, very quickly.

"Have you stocked up on potions as well for evening?"

Msaed had long since developed a habit to never go to such events without something that cancelled the effects of the alcohol and given that the dancing often continued into the early morning hours an invigorating draught or two were never a bad idea either.

Harold Prendergast

"I know it sounds rather odd, but I'm sure you can understand that, well, I need answers to my questions and it is just possible that someone there will have answers I won't be able to get otherwise." Harold was a shade flustered in not wanting to admit that, as much as it were a date with hopefully destiny, it was also, well, hopefully a date.

It had been a while since Harold had gone clothes shopping of the more formal kind - though he and Sylvia had been to the kinds of event that Rose seemed to be dragging him to, though he remembered that the both of them tended to mingle and not do the dancing thing; Sylvia was perhaps even more uncoordinated than he could be.

A budget? He hadn't honestly thought about it - but honestly he hadn't thought a great deal about money in a long while. The family money while not vast in relative terms was more than sufficient to last Harold in this lifetime.

"I don't have a budget, per se, I assume a couple of hundred Galleons would suffice?" He tried to make it sound nonchalant as though it was no big deal - because it wasn't really a big deal, it was only money, after all - but he realised as he said it that it might have made him sound stuffy and conceited. "What I mean to say is that... well, after all the years in the lab, I was quite well paid, you see, and that I didn't have much in the way of things to spend it on. It would be quite a thing to actually have something to be lavish about for once."

It hadn't occurred to him that his collection of tweedy suits was, in fact, more lavish than many get up to, even if they didn't look it. They were tailored, well-fitting and always a three-piece suit.

"As for potions... I hadn't prepared any draughts yet, but my father did always remind me to take one or two with me, when he still had thoughts of me being rather more socialite than was of any interest to me. Family money, you understand."

As they neared the door, Harold turned. "I was envisaging something formal, top-hat-and-tails sort of thing, maybe in a very dark shade of blue? Almost enough to pass as black, but not quite? I really have no eye for fashion though, and I'm sure the tailors will have more idea than I should."

M. B. Montgomery

"You don't say," Msaed muttered under his breath, unable to contain the comment. There was no denying that Harold had grown on him since their first meeting, but stylish and fashionable his new friend was not. In fact, Msaed found it surprisingly difficult to picture Harold in anything other than the tweed he was wearing. The other man was so painfully English and respectably middle aged it was almost farcical. Though Msaed had more than twenty years of Harold, he couldn't help feeling as if things where the other way around.

"Something classic and elegant then," he confirmed the brief, thinking to himself that it was rather a shame. Surely, Harold was still young enough to enjoy himself at such occasions and in well enough shape to pull of a fashionable set of robes. Admittedly, given the situation with his wife it was probably not all that appropriate for Harold to make a flashy appearance. He would give him that.

They probably wouldn't be very long. Stepping into the shop, Msaed explained what they were looking for to the shop keeper, hoping there would at least be something that wasn't terminally boring.

"Try this one," he said handing Harold a simple, black ensemble that was tailored impeccably.

While Harold disappeared to change, Msaed browsed the racks, looking at some gorgeous jewel-toned creations. He particularly liked ruby red outer robe, that would probably combine well with his wardrobe.

A moment later, when Harold stepped back outside to show off the suit Msaed nodded approvingly.

"It's a bit baggy on him," he commented to the shop keeper. "Maybe take in the waist a little. He's surprisingly trim for being such a homebody."

Uh, that sounded a bit condescending, but hopefully Harold wouldn't take offence. He was just trying to have is friend look his best on this strange occasion that apparently wasn't a date, but for all intents and purposes came across as a date.

Harold Prendergast

Harold had to admit that Sid, however awkwardly he might have put it, had a point. He wasn't fashionable, he knew it - he'd long since settled on tweed because it worked for him, never really went out of style and was well-wearing in ways other fabrics weren't. It even had a certain amount of aesthetic charm whether he went about the muggle or the magical, and so it was practical if nothing else. But stylish, it was not.

He looked at the black ensemble that Sid had handed him - arched an eyebrow ever so slightly, and then disappeared to change.

Before coming back out into the shop, he looked at himself in the mirror and was pleasantly surprised to find that it suited him stylistically, something he hadn't entirely expected.

A shade baggy around the waist - but nothing extreme or awkward, just ever so slightly loose. He wondered if Sid would notice - or if the tailor would.

And so he came back into the shop, did a perfunctory twirl - and Sid did indeed notice it was a trifle baggy, though Harold tried hard to not pull some expression at the rather brusque way that Sid expressed it. Though he had to admit, privately, that Sid was right on all counts.

"Well, too many years stuck inside does tend to make one, well, less athletically inclined, I suppose, but I do enjoy the occasional brisk walk." And, he had to concede, a palate that didn't especially go for highly fatty foods, but that was another matter entirely.

"When would you be able to perform the alteration?"

Harold was at least shrewd enough not to ask the price. This was the sort of place where it wasn't so much a 'if you have to ask, you can't afford it', but that things such as alterations would usually come with what is rather known as the salesman's breath - that sharp intake that somehow conveys the meaning of 'well, that's not going to be cheap' without actually saying a word. If he had indicated that price was in any way a problem, he could expect to be gouged even more.

He had wanted to be done with this today but he knew, much as if he were haggling over price, that imbuing any sense of urgency would be equally awkward as suggesting any matter of price.

The shopkeeper smiled, explained they weren't busy and that Harold could come back later on that afternoon if he wanted.

Harold smiled, "Much obliged, thank you." And with that, he headed for the door.

"Well, it seems we have a little while to spend - how about I buy you a drink to thank you for your assistance?"

M. B. Montgomery

Thankfully the visit to the tailor's wasn't as complicated as he had anticipated. Harold made a quick decision and didn't even complain when Msaed gave his opinion. Somehow, he'd expected this to be more of a struggle. Come to think of it though, that didn't make an awful lot of sense. Prendergast was an amiable personality, usually trying to avoid conflict. Msaed struggled to relate. His own temperament would never allow for taking things with such a laid back attitude. Maybe, there was a thing or two he could learn from the Arithmancy teacher.

"A drink sounds good," he said cheerfully. "Been a long time since I've been able to grab a pint with a mate during the summer months."

His recent years in Morocco had come with certain advantages, but one thing Msaed didn't appreciate was how strict some of the social rules were. Drinking alcohol in public was considered sinful and was generally frowned upon. There were few places that even served alcohol. He tried to remember the last summer he'd enjoyed a glass of Pimms outside in a pretty garden. It had been ages.

"You know," he said to Harold, "I don't think I realised how much I missed England for the last couple of years. Not that Marrakesh isn't gorgeous, but a nice drink on a hot day is just one of those small things I've really missed."

There was a second thought that now occurred to him. He'd probably become drunk fairly easily if he didn't watch himself. He really wasn't used to drinking anything anymore. Maybe, it would be a safer option for him to stick to butter beer or lemonade. But since when was he known for playing it safe. It would be nice to have some fun again.

"By the way, did you hear that the muggles managed to put a man on the moon? Now, I don't know about you but that's pretty damn impressive. I wonder what it's like up there. I mean, I used to speculate about it as a boy but I didn't think that anybody would in our lifetime."

As he talked about space travel, they were strolling towards the centre of festivities where various stands, benches and decorations had been set up outside for people to celebrate. It didn't take very long for the two men to reach one of the food stalls and queue up once again.

"Capital," Msaed enthused. "They have cucumber sandwiches as well here."