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 Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice

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Gabriel Hall
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PostSubject: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Mon Jun 27, 2011 8:27 pm

Nicole stayed right at Shelly’s side as they walked the street of Diagon Alley. It was the weekend and her step-daughter had behaved as well as can be expected from any eleven-year-old girl. Not only was it their appointed day together in the magical world, but Nicole had encouraged the girl to also use this time to purchase her school supplies. Thankfully the child agreed: the woman had a list of things Mark wanted her to get while she was out.

So as not to alert the general public of the area, Nicole wore robes befitting a member of the magical community underneath her usual tank top and cargo pants. It wasn’t so much the outfit that was the problem but rather the guns she kept on her at all times. Today there was one at each hip and at each ankle. And if she was relieved of her firearms, Nicole also had a knife ready and waiting on her back, having found a way to make a light but durable sheath for the weapon that could be inconspicuously snapped onto a rather important undergarment or to the back of her shirt. Nicole felt it always best to be prepared, and with this ‘light’ armament she believed no assailant magical or muggle would dare mess with her. In the event of such an emergency, the robe the woman wore had hidden slits where they counted.

“What’s next on your list, Shelly?” Nicole asked. The child had insisted that she was old enough to manage her own shopping list, and Nicole had been quite inclined to agree.

The girl glanced at her step-mother despite hanging onto her hand with a strong grip and then reached into her pocket to retrieve a rather worn list despite the fact she had received it in the mail not that long ago: the clothing part was thankfully completed with Shelly’s sitter earlier in the week, her books were all purchased, and even her telescope had been crossed off the list. “We still have my cauldron, glass or crystal phials, and brass scales...” reported Shelly. For the moment the child withheld her two hand-written additions: ‘Ice Cream’ and ‘Kitty’.

“And your wand,” corrected Nicole. That was one item she knew they hadn’t gotten to yet.

“Can’t I just use Daddy’s old wand like before?” pouted Shelly.

“You’ll do much better with your own wand,” was the response. The tone suggested finality and advised cooperation. “Why don’t we concentrate on your potions things next? That way I can get Mark’s stuff, too.” Although Nicole didn't say it, it would prevent her needing to figuratively drag Shelly all the way to Ollivander's as well.

“Okay...” Shelly replied. “... Who’s Mark? Why didn’t he come, too?”

“He’s someone I work with, Sweetheart,” answered Nicole. “And he’s very busy.” Neither of these statements were lies. It seemed like Mark was always doing something or another, and there was rarely ever a time she saw him relax willingly. Fallen asleep at his desk, yes. Lounging about in his computer chair for no reason other than he could? Not really insofar as she could remember... Looking at the list of things to fetch, Nicole wondered why he had chosen a typed format. Thinking more about it, he always seemed to have typed lists and such as opposed to hand-written things. She’d never really paid much attention before. With a sigh she shrugged and tucked it back into her pocket.

“Can we get ice cream after?” Shelly asked as Nicole opened the door for her to the combination cauldron shop and apothecary.

The woman laughed. “We’ll get some lunch after here, and ice cream before we leave. How about that?”

“Okay!” cheered Shelly and promptly dashed into the store. Nicole immediately followed, reveling in the feel of cool air washing over her and leaving the scorching heat of summer behind.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:14 pm

Julian Kaiser left Madame Malkin's robe shop, his pockets lightened of a few galleons and sporting a new set of robes. The rest he'd had sent back to his apartment so he could carry on enjoying himself a bit around Diagon Alley before having to return to work. Upon turning out of the shop, he spotted a familiar figure just a few paces away, entering an apothecary. It only took him a few seconds to remember the name -- she'd certainly made her introduction a memorable one, clearly.

"Nicole?" he called out, unsure now that he realised she was with a young girl. The woman he'd met didn't seem like the most maternal type -- perhaps he was mistaken.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:49 pm

Nicole paused, hearing a familiar voice call out her name. She craned her neck around, resting her chin on her shoulder, and set a single green eye on the crowd at large until she spotted the very wizard to whom the voice belonged. The ponytail in which her hair was kept whipped slightly in tune with the movement.

A smirk pulled at the visible portion of her face. What was his name again? She was fairly certain it started with a J. Jordan? Johan? No, neither of those. Then it hit her. "Julian? Fancy meeting you here," she said, turning to regard him fully and taking a moment to appraise what seemed to be a slightly new look about him. Then again, she'd only met less than a handful of times so she wasn't exactly an expert. "You got a minute or comin' in?" she asked, jabbing her thumb into the magically air-conditioned store and holding the door open with a foot encased in a calf-high motorcycle boot.

Hearing Shelly start to scamper off, a dirty-blonde eyebrow furrowed. "Shelly, don't wander off!" Almost instantly the child returned to Nicole's side, looking very much the part of a mischievous - but sweet - little imp.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:00 pm

Julian shrugged noncommittally. "I've got a minute," he replied, turning to see the little girl Nicole had referred to as Shelly. "School supplies?" he guessed, putting Shelly's age somewhere in the preteen range. He took the door from Nicole with a murmur of thanks and entered the store with curiosity.

Julian had been required to sit an examination in potions, of course, but since then hadn't really found a need for that particular skill. Zolnerowich didn't seem to have much of an issue as far as having people try to poison him -- much to Julian's relief, as he didn't much fancy being a human guinea pig. Being a human shield was bad enough, as his previous encounter with Nicole had so helpfully demonstrated, but he didn't really hold it against her or anyone who had a problem with his boss, to be honest. The man was deeply unpleasant, pure and simple. It was difficult to muster up sympathy.


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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:31 pm

Nicole nodded at his answer, neither here nor there about the noncommittal tone. She had opened her mouth to reply to the man's question when Shelly decided it was about time she had a chance to talk.

The little girl skirted around Nicole's knee and beamed up at the man. "Yep! An' Nikki's got a list of stuff, too. She says it's for work," Shelly replied cheerfully, arms innocently behind her back as they all walked into the store. The child made a comically disgusted face at the word 'work'.

Nicole mouthed the words 'thank you' to Julian when he took the door so as not to interrupt, her green eyes darting between girl and wizard. "This is Michelle, though she prefers 'Shelly'" Nicole explained simply. "Shelly, this is Julian."

"Hello, Mr. Julian, sir," the little girl grinned. Her attention wandered slightly at the items some distance away behind him. "Wow..."

"First time she's been in here..." Nicole muttered to Julian. Hearing the witch's voice brought Shelly back to earth, still all smiles.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:30 pm

Julian could not but be charmed at Shelly's greeting of "Mr. Julian, sir". The girl was determinedly cute, he'd give her that.

"It's nice to meet you, Shelly," he told the girl with a slight nod. It's didn't escape his notice that she'd referred to Nicole as "Nikki" and not "mum"; perhaps his initial assumption was correct. In any case, he thought it rude to inquire as to the child's parentage and figured it'd clear itself up sooner rather than later, not that it was a particularly pressing matter. Frankly, Julian was just happy to escape from work for a few moments, and spotting a familiar face only made the moment a bit more pleasant than usual.

"It's good to see you under more more agreeable circumstances than last time," he said to Nicole, grinning mischievously. If he'd been the type to be put off by high adrenaline situations, being an Auror would have been completely the wrong line of work. There was a higher probability of Julian being jealous of Nicole than angry; he believed her when she said he'd never been in any real danger.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Tue Jun 28, 2011 11:48 pm

Shelly grinned much like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. "Nice to meet you too, sir!" The girl turned to Nicole and giggled playfully. "Permission to look around?"

Nicole smirked at the girl and nodded. "Don't forget to give the clerk your list. Do you want to take mine up to him, too?"

"Sure, I can do that!" Shelly beamed. The girl waited somewhat patiently while Nicole retrieved her list (mentally thanking Mark for the seemingly painstaking organization), and tore off the pertinent piece to hand to the clerk. Like a piranha to a piece of meat the eleven-year-old snatched up the list and took off. One would think they'd entered a candy store as opposed to an apothecary.

The smirk on Nicole's face widened at Julian's statement, dangerously close to a full-blown smile. "Same here," she replied. For some reason Nicole didn't think it necessary to tell him she always went out armed when she could get away with it. "Had the situation been different, it may have actually been fun." Nicole's own brand of mischief swirled like dancing flame in the emeralds she called eyes.

Seeing Shelly well out of earshot, checking out a barrel full of talons, Nicole picked up a handful of what looked like coffee beans and examined them. As they jumped about on her hand the witch immediately switched that assumption to jumping beans. "Shelly is my step-daughter... My brother's child," Nicole ventured uncertainly, to assure Julian she wasn't ignoring him.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Tue Jun 28, 2011 11:59 pm

"Well, it certainly wasn't a total waste, anyway," Julian ventured with a smirk of his own. He observed the jumping beans and looked up at Nicole, surprised, when she explained Shelly's origin seemingly out of the blue. He wasn't sure if condolences were in order or not, and settled for an awkward smile instead, not wanting to push any wrong buttons with a woman he knew to be literally trigger-happy.

"She seems like a handful," he commented casually, wondering if this was a good time to bring his own situation up. Probably the only time he would be able to do it with as little awkwardness as possible.

"I've got a daughter nearly her age, myself. Violet. She lives in Germany with my ex-wife, of course," he grimaced, clearly displeased with that fact. He'd considered asking Bastian to take the case for him, but ultimately decided he didn't want to throw his brother into his family drama. If Bastian had been the one to lose the custody case for his brother, Julian knew Bastian would always blame himself, and he didn't want anyone else feeling guilty for what had happened.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Wed Jun 29, 2011 12:48 am

That remark earned a chuckle from Nicole. "No, it most certainly wasn't. Although, to be quite honest, I hope next time will be markedly different. Preferably with me at least clipping the target," she added, setting Julian with a wry sideways glance. Although it was a dreadful thing to make assumptions, Nicole assumed that were she in danger from the law that surely an auror such as Julian would tell her so. After all, it seemed like his boss was one speck of gunpowder away from ordering Nicole's severed head on a platter of pure gold.

"She has her moments," the witch answered with pride. She even stood up straighter. Either that or she was just examining the unicorn horns on a high shelf. "Between methods my father used on me, and using her full name or a particular tone, I manage to keep her in line. And for that I'm thankful. It's not easy being a parent, let alone a single one," Nicole remarked, dipping her arm into the barrel of unicorn horns to grab a small piece of one from its resting place. The woman vaguely wondered if Julian had children. That would've provided additional explanation for some of his behavior at their first meeting and it was always easier to get a point across when one's partner in the conversation could relate.

Nicole blinked. As if on cue, he'd revealed the very thing she was musing on. Given a moment, the witch realized it was only logical to talk about one's own family. Weight shifted from one of her feet to the other at the mention of having an ex. A stiff and uncomfortable-looking nod issued from Nicole. Should she apologize? Was it a mutual split? Was the topic of custody preferred, legal, or otherwise? For that matter, did he get or even want visitation? Despite the questions in her mind the witch did not pose them. "That's a shame, about the ex," she offered, serious and sincere. That explained, in her mind at least, why he had not returned to Germany even to visit. Nicole certainly couldn't blame him for that. It'd make her a bloody hypocrite if she did! "Visitation rights?" Nicole questioned, hiking an eyebrow up as she turned to face him and keep Shelly in her peripherals.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Wed Jun 29, 2011 1:04 am

"Whenever Kate feels like letting me see Violet. Which is, predictably, about never," Julian replied, unable to keep the bitterness out of his voice. "I basically only get to see her when Kate wants to go off on vacation and wants a free sitter. I only wish she went on vacation more often," he admitted, watching Shelly explore the shop with a detached kind of wistfulness.

"Anyway, enough about me," Julian said, uncomfortable with the subject. "What is it that you do, exactly? I mean, other than attempted assassinations -- although that one in particular might have counted as a public service rather than a crime....I'm sure with a particularly gifted lawyer..." he joked, smiling again.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Wed Jun 29, 2011 1:52 am

The blatant bitterness caused Nicole to raise her guard a bit, though kept the alert to internal for now. Apparently family was just as bristly a topic with him as it was with her. The only difference was that Nicole did not have resentment. Sadness? Yes. Regret? Some. Remorse? ...Not in the least. "I see," the witch acknowledged, not really certain what to say. Repeated apologies were pointless and just not at all in her nature. "I personally don't know what I'd do without Shelly's sitter. Quite the lifesaver." A little awkwardly she moved away from Julian and the barrels and occupied her dexterous attention with what looked to be a lobster's claw, and several varieties of fangs.

At the joke, which was not lost on Nicole, the woman turned her head to gaze openly at the wizard. Her mouth was partially open in an as-yet silent laugh. 'Are you serious?!' would've been a good caption for the moment. Within seconds, after having had time to process the whole of it, came the laugh: a true melody of unadulterated mirth. It caused Shelly to pause in her chatter with the clerk to gaze at her step-mother, then giggle and resume the conversation. This side-event went unnoticed by Nicole. "My word! And here I thought Shelly had a vivid imagination! You give me way too much credit, Julian," she laughed. Nicole seriously considered getting a lawyer just in case, and would look into it as soon as she got back home.

Once she was positive her amusement had toned itself down she thought about how to answer his question. "Well, as you know, I did enlist with the United States' muggle military. I served on active duty with them for five years. It had been a dream of mine to follow in my father's footsteps," she began, glancing away occasionally as if to look at some of the items for sale. Nicole thanked Merlin and her religion profusely for a feasible reason to be preoccupied.

"I've been working as a... security guard for various magical and muggle nightclubs and other such establishments in the area ever since Shelly and I moved here," Nicole explained, a peculiar fire leaping into her eyes at the emphasized words. Even in its simplest form the witch found her answer to be long and complex. Perhaps it was because she knew about the missing pieces that were not relevant to the question... and one that was but remained unspoken. She wasn't quite sure how to go about discussing her job description insofar as her alliance with Mark, and subsequently this errand run, were concerned. Was she indeed an assassin? Belatedly, Nicole secretly supposed she could be... but only under the cement-covered, titanium-framed, and explosives-packed wall of Occlumency!

Nicole picked up a bat's wing, felt it as though one might check produce ripeness, and put it back.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Wed Jun 29, 2011 9:42 pm

"Why am I not surprised you kick people's arses for a living?" Julian asked, genuinely amused at this. "Business is a-boomin', ja?" He chuckled at his own joke and peered down into the barrel of bat wings. The smell coming from them was not pleasant, so he stepped away and looked around.

"In all seriousness, you could probably do really well as an Auror," he suggested, poking into a bin full of what appeared to be dried beetles. "Money's pretty good if you can survive training, but I'm sure you've dealt with similar already."

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:57 pm

Nicole flashed a quick grin at Julian. "They say the first impression's the strongest," she joked, ending the phrase with a chuckle. The smell from the bat wings finally reached her nose. Almost comically the witch's face scrunched up at the odor. "Yeah, could say that," she muttered, stepping away from the barrel. "The only part that sucks is I'm technically not supposed to drink on duty. 'Technically' being the key word of course." After a few breaths of fresh air Nicole's expression righted itself. She made a mental note to not get bat's wings from here anytime soon.

A smirk graced the military woman's face next. "I had considered it at one point..." she murmured, giving the beetles he was looking at a once-over and moving on to examine the various powders. There was a reason why she hadn't gone through with it. "Between boot camp and tours? I probably have," Nicole remarked with amusement. Although her former husband had never discussed his trainings with her, she doubted that Julian was exaggerating on the part of surviving the training.

"Are there any noteworthy benefits, or additional education programs before the training? To be brutally honest I barely made it out of my potions final with my hide intact," Nicole asked, smirking a little. The statement was a half-truth. She hadn't done well in potions during her first year at Salem, and internally panicked at the thought of employers checking her transcript as they wouldn't find much. Incompetence was like weakness and simply not allowed in the woman's skill set.

Nicole kept an ear out for Julian's response but her eyes trained themselves on the idle clerk as she paid for the unicorn horn in her hand. The woman was many things, but a thief was not one of them.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Thu Jun 30, 2011 12:18 am

"Well, you can choose your own hours, and pay too, I suppose. Although it comes with other costs...clearly," Julian admitted, grimacing. "There's just the normal stuff -- working out of the Ministry, more along the lines of a 9-to-5 -- and then there's what I do, which is technically a promotion. You get a pay increase for getting assigned to someone, which depends largely on how much they'll need you -- and how much of a pain in the arse they are." He grinned ironically at this statement, and examined a collection of bottles whose labels were nearly indecipherable through a layer of dust.

"For example, Vinzent went through quite a few aurors before he had me. I'm one of the highest paid, if not the highest paid, auror from my graduating class -- but then again, I work so much I don't exactly get to enjoy it much. Which is probably why I never had the opportunity to meet you while you're at work," Julian concluded, smirking again.

"I've gotten thrown out of my fair share of bars and clubs, but I've never had the privilege of getting tossed out by you. Trust me, I'd remember," he joked, sincerely hoping he hadn't earned himself a pistol-whipping with his remark.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Thu Jun 30, 2011 2:12 am

Nicole nodded, processing all of the information as fast as she could. She didn't even notice the clerk hand her her change or the fact she'd put the coin into her pocket. Flexible hours, obvious pros and cons, good pay by the sounds of it, and varied sorts of occupations... the only thing back was her education. And, well... her limited magic... The thorn in her side that never went away. Had it only been the education holding her back she'd leap at it. Perhaps the witch should look into the occupation a little and see what she could dig up. It'd be better than the sporadic employment she had part-time at bars, if she could succeed.

Impure blonde eyebrows knitted together slightly at the name Julian spoke, her hatred of anyone similar to that particular wizard's stance evident for a flicker of a second. Emerald eyes blinked. "Did they die or did they quit?" Nicole muttered, the corner of her mouth twitching in an attempt to control her amusement. Julian's information that Vinzent kept him so busy that there wasn't much time for anything else did the trick. With Julian so busy, Nicole wondered what happened during times his daughter required a sitter as he had mentioned earlier?

The woman quirked an eyebrow at the smirk she received, curious what he was getting at. Did he want to run in to her at work? And why? "I also work at several of them, depending on who needs a part-timer which day, both here and in the Muggle world," Nicole explained. Her erratic schedule was likely another reason they had never met previously.

At the follow-up remark about never having been thrown out of a bar by her, and that he would know if he had been, the dirty-blonde eyebrow that had hiked itself up seconds ago almost got lost in Nicole's hairline. Well, that was technically an exaggeration, but that's what it felt like to the witch. Once the eyebrow came back down she stared him in the eye as though attempting to read a foreign language. "You sure you'd want to be tossed out of a bar by me?" Nicole smirked, a light-hearted note to her voice that could be considered as slightly teasing.

Bidding the clerk a cheery farewell, Shelly began her approach towards Nicole and whom she considered to be 'Nikki's new friend'. "All done, Nikki!" Shelly cheered, poking her step-mother in the shoulder.

This proved to be a rather big mistake: Nicole jumped and whirled around, startled, and plunged a hand into her robes. The fact she had bumped into something... or someone... was lost on her for the moment. A glint of silver shone malevolently from the side-slit in her robes, one of the few pistols she had on her partially drawn. With a huffed sigh Nicole crammed the gun back into its holster and snapped the firearm snugly in place. "Michelle. What - in Merlin's name have I told you about sneaking up on me?!"

"But I didn't..." Shelly blinked in surprise and confusion, glancing between Nicole and Julian.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Thu Jun 30, 2011 3:06 am

"They quit," Julian confirmed, grinning perversely at the question. "I probably will too, after the election." He preferred not to think about the implications of Vinzent actually winning the election and instead focused on the probability that he wouldn't. It was difficult to imagine anyone really placing any stock in blood-status nowadays, but somehow the fact that true purebloods were so rare only seemed to make the problem worse. Most of the most vocal people were actually well-to-do half-bloods with social-climbing ambitions.


Julian was about to give a smart-aleck response to Nicole's second question when her niece came up to them, apparently startling Nicole. His eyebrows shot up at her drastic reaction; reflexes like that would make her a very welcome addition to the Auror's Office, although they could perhaps do without the trigger-happiness.

He bit his lip and shrugged at Shelly, deferring to Nicole's judgment on this one. Clearly, crossing the petite woman in any way was out of the question. In fact, Julian hadn't really noticed her height until now, although he supposed the gun added a couple of inches. He certainly wouldn't be making assumptions based on her dimunitive height, anyway. It was difficult to imagine any situation in which Nicole couldn't take care of herself.


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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Thu Jun 30, 2011 4:30 am

Nicole nodded at Julian's thoughts about quitting. From what he'd said about his assigned employer, and what she knew about the ill-tempered man, she couldn't blame him one little bit. "All work and no play..." she trailed off with a smirk. It was a motto she tried to live by, though sometimes was easier to say than actually do.


At the innocent-sounding reply from her step-daughter, Nicole pushed on the bridge of her nose as if to massage away a sudden headache. "Just... forget it, Shelly," Nicole muttered. Much like she had eyed Julian, the woman set the same sharp gaze on the little girl. "Did they load it on a cart and take it out back?"

"No, silly!" Shelly giggled and produced a tiny box from her pocket. "It's all in here! My stuff, and the work stuff!" The little girl was oblivious to the fact that Nicole's pupils had constricted to pinpricks. How the heck was she supposed to extract school supplies and Mark's items out of that?! Almost as soon as Nicole opened her mouth to ask Shelly went on: "He enchanted it to make it light as a feather! And he showed me a spell to make the stuff big again - it was fun!"

Nicole's thoughts turned rather 'colorful' in the next few seconds. A rush of color swarmed the woman's ears, turning them a vibrant reddish-pink. Silently, she held her hand out for the box. Shelly, still confused, gave it to her. "Good..." Nicole eventually found it in her to say, then glanced between the child and Julian. "Glad it was fun..."

After a few more awkward moments Shelly once again took the lead in the conversation. Tentatively the girl took a step closer to the adults. "Wanna come to lunch with us, Mr. Julian?" the girl asked innocently.

Nicole blinked for a moment like a deer caught in headlights and then shook it off. Shelly was always this friendly, but this was a little different. It was different because... Well because it was different. Most of the people Shelly invited on outings were individuals she had seen more than one time. And those people were muggles or muggle-borns Nicole knew well.

The woman looked to Julian with a fair amount of uncertainty. It wasn't that she didn't want him to tag along but rather that his time was limited. Surely he had something more important to do during one his few breaks than 'shoot the breeze' with her and an eleven-year-old girl? At a loss for words Nicole decided to see what Julian's reaction was first.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Sat Jul 02, 2011 4:54 am

"And I'm becoming duller by the minute," Julian grumbled, although with a good-natured shrug at Nicole. He looked at Shelly again, frowning slightly as he thought. It was a pretty complex spell for such a young witch to learn so quickly. Shelly was clearly a very talented witch.

Glancing back at Nicole, he realised she had an odd expression on her face...perhaps the display of magic was a surprise to her, as well. Judging by Nicole's rigid military attention to detail and allegiance to rules, Julian supposed it wasn't all that surprising that she might not have known the extent of Shelly's gifts. Luckily, the awkward tension was broken by Shelly herself, apparently oblivious to the small scene she had just inadvertently caused.

"Lunch, ja? Hmmph, well, I am hungry," Julian considered, scratching an ear absent-mindedly. Nicole could be awful difficult to read at times, and he wasn't sure whether his company was desired. "Probably shouldn't stay long, but if you don't mind, Nicole?...I wouldn't want to impose."

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:25 pm

Nicole used what self-control she had to not let another smirk get too awful far at Julian's grumbled reply. She couldn't really confirm or deny that comment, having only encountered him twice to her recollection. "That remains to be seen," the woman offered, amusement that was not on her face crammed into her tone of voice.

Shelly smiled at Julian and nodded. The little girl was quite hungry herself after the morning drive and a few of the other errands that had been completed. And the piece of magic she had learned wasn't all that simple. But, the budding witch knew it would help Nicole out so she didn't mind much. When he decided to let Nicole decide, Shelly promptly turned to her step-mother and set the ever-successful innocent grin on her.

Emerald pools glanced between Shelly and Julian for a moment. She couldn't tell if the wizard were merely trying to get on Shelly's good side or if he was genuinely interested. The witch shrugged - what harm could it do? Julian was an auror for Merlin's sake. At the back of her mind Nicole acknowledged, if only briefly, that not every wizard was like a certain one from her past she hoped and prayed to forget. "I'm not the one who's cooking so I don't mind at all," she replied, a hint of a smile on her face. "We were thinking about The Leaky Cauldron, unless you have another preference?"

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Sun Jul 03, 2011 1:07 pm

With every passing remark it seemed that Nicole's smile grew wider, and Julian had to admit that she was even more attractive than he'd previously realised. She had one of those contagious smiles that made you feel happy even if there was really no other reason for it. Today had been a pretty average day as far as Julian's usual share of misery was concerned, but he found himself smiling back at Nicole anyway for no other reason than it felt good.

He was surprised, given the circumstances of their introduction, that she could be so free-spirited, and yet there was a depth to it that made her happiness not superficial. There was definitely something going on behind that smile...something that pulled him in, naturally seeking to unravel the mystery.

Only time would tell, he was sure of it. Nicole might be willing enough to share her smiles, but he was sure her secrets would go to the grave with her before she'd ever let them slip to just anyone. There was something about her that made Julian want to not be just anyone. As he didn't have much to hide, himself, he figured the best way to start being friends with Nicole Archer was to be a friend to her, and so he decided to make the first move by offering a little bit of personal information to her, and seeing her reaction. It was only fair, as he'd clearly caught her in an unguarded moment with Shelly just now.

"Well actually, I was headed over to this great little Muggle place across the way from The Leaky Cauldron, but as you seem to be making an afternoon of this, I don't mind changing my plans. It is closer, and after all, The Leaky Cauldron does offer a pretty appealing selection of German beers hard to find on these shores."



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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:52 pm

Nicole blinked in surprise, caught a little off guard that Julian had mentioned a muggle establishment. She had a feeling she might have heard of it and it was a nice place indeed. The wizard didn't mind those that did not have magic, then, the woman assumed. Well, that was a relief! Given the amount of anti-muggles she saw frequent the bars, finding individuals that did not really care either way wasn't that obvious. Of course, those types didn't instigate a fuss about magic or blood or anything else that was all the political rage at the moment.

"If you're sure," Nicole replied, hesitating a little. Should she continue? "We've spent all morning here; a trip back to the Muggle world would be refreshing." Shelly took her step-mother's hand and gave it a light tug, causing Nicole to start walking slowly toward the door. "How about this: I'll buy you and I a beer 'to go' at The Leaky Cauldron, and then we can go wherever you had planned?"

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Sun Jul 03, 2011 6:31 pm

Julian smiled and laughed at the suggestion, nodding in agreement.

"Best of both worlds! I like how you think," he replied, stepping ahead to open the door for Shelly and Nicole. "It's a great little place, authentic New York-style pizza place called Antonio's. Bit of a hole in the wall, so you know the food's great. It's owned by this sweet old couple who moved over from New York at the beginning of World War Three -- you know Muggle history, right? I seem to remember you're from that area, I'm sure you know this -- well anyway, after the city was bombed out they didn't have much to go home to, so they stayed and opened up shop here. More's the pity for New York, because their Sicilian pizza is to die for, honestly."

Julian rambled on as they walked along the street and quite abruptly they came to The Leaky Cauldron. "Ah! We're here already," he commented, entering the dimly lit pub. "What was I saying? Oh yes, the Marcianos, well Antonio told me they noticed there wasn't much around as far as food from back home, so they decided to do it themselves. The whole atmosphere is great -- everything's all done up in the pre-war style, high, narrow rooms with industrial fixtures and a long counter all along the wall with stools. And they serve authentic New York gelato -- made by family over there and flown over just for Antonio's. You can't buy it anywhere else."

He sidled up to the bar and turned to Nicole. "They have Falkensteiner on tap," he said with a grin not unlike a kid in a candy store. "I'll have a pint of the Weizen, thanks Tommy," he told the bartender, sliding his gold across the counter.

"And what'll you have?" he asked Nicole. "On me, I insist. You must try something German if you haven't already," he said with an eager smile.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Sun Jul 03, 2011 10:29 pm

Shelly bounded through the doorway first with an ever-cheerful, "Thank you, Mr. Julian!" While she would have loved to take off toward The Leaky Cauldron the girl knew she had to wait for the adults. The last time Shelly had run off, using up all of Nicole's patience, the older woman took away three trips into the magical world from their schedule.

Nicole chuckled at his words. She paused for a moment before stepping through the door, contemplating. Her face had one of those 'I think I forgot something' expressions. Once the thought had passed Nicole looked at Julian, nodded, and uttered, "Thank you," in German. Seemingly without waiting for his reaction Nicole stepped on through the door and back into the furnace that was the outdoors.

The witch listened intently as Julian explained the little place he had had in mind for lunch. Almost as soon as the word 'pizza' was out of his mouth, Nicole thought it would be a great place for them. Shelly loved pizza, for one, and two: it had been a while since Nicole herself had had it. After burning her 15th pizza, Nicole had given up attempting to make that from scratch. In fact for a few months thereafter Nicole had personally sworn off pizza. Occasionally she would order it out for Shelly and her sitter, but those were on occasional nights when Nicole knew she was going out and wouldn't likely return until the next morning.

She divided her attention between Julian and Shelly, and in her opinion Nicole was doing really good with it. She was somewhat surprised the place was in particular a New York-style establishment: that definitely got her attention. She thought for sure the place Julian had been referring to was a German place but hey - food is food. Nicole nodded about his mention of World War Three.

It honestly surprised - and secretly amused - her that Julian spoke so much about this little pizza place, but Nicole didn't mind. She actually found it impossible to actually want to interrupt him, and thus kept her communication in the form of positive, receptive body language.

She put her arm around Shelly's shoulders as they entered the pub. Everything turned green for a moment as her eyes adjusted to the new lighting. "Sounds like a great place. Not sure I've been there before," Nicole said when Julian had concluded. "The authentic gelato sounds tempting."

Julian's grin was contagious, coercing the corners of Nicole's lips to climb towards her eyes. She made a note that food and alcohol seemed to be topics that animated the wizard, and wondered which other ones got him talking as much. Just like her mother had once said: the way to a man's heart was through his stomach. Although not the greatest cook, Nicole did feel she knew how to make some rather tasty (and other knock-you-on-your-rear type) mixed drinks.

As both bartender and Julian looked to her for her order, Nicole scanned the menu. The action didn't last long though: When Julian offered to pay for the drink she selected, Nicole glanced up from said menu to ascertain that he was sure, and smiled her thanks. Asking if he was sure when he already said he insisted seemed pointless. Amusement danced in her eyes at his eager suggestion to try something German. "I've tried a few German beers and liked them. I'll have a pint of Schwarzbier, please."

Shelly gave Nicole's sleeve a tug. "Can I get a butterbeer, Nikki? Please?" she asked, scrambling about for the change-purse in her pocket that had belonged to her biological mother.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Mon Jul 04, 2011 8:30 pm

"Do you speak German?" Julian asked curiously, surprised. Of course, plenty of people knew the basics -- "hello," "goodbye," "thank you" -- but he wasn't about to leave that stone unturned when he had so few opportunities to speak his mother tongue. To hear it was always refreshing, no matter the accent.

"You certainly have good taste in German beers, anyway," he said approvingly. [color=darkblue]"Probably a big fan of chocolate too, ja? Well who isn't, but you know what I mean. I bet you like the good stuff -- 70% or more. Which, funny enough, is the same way I like my liquor," he joked, accepting their two drinks and turning to Shelly.

"I'll be perfectly happy to get you whatever you want to drink -- as long as Nicole says it's ok," he amended, glancing over at her momentarily.

"I'm sure you'll want to save your gold for the train," he whispered conspiratorially to the little girl, winking at Nicole. "I hear that they've got a food trolley with all sorts of delicious things -- Pumpkin Pasties and Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans. You should probably be careful with that last one, though -- make sure to give the bogey-flavoured ones to someone else," he advised, ruffling her hair good-naturedly.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:55 pm

"A little," Nicole returned at his question, unable to keep a wry undercurrent from the answer. "Not much worth bragging about I'm afraid... I can put together a simple sentence, but anything beyond that and you'll probably confuse me."

"Nikki swears in German," Shelly added unhelpfully. "Spanish, too!"

Nicole, unable and unwilling to deny it, simply shrugged. In the event Julian happened to see her in spitfire mode he would have found out anyway. "Gotta love children..." she sighed, laughing slightly.

The woman tilted her head slightly in a nod at his approval. Nicole hadn't been looking for it exactly, but so long as she had it the witch was going to run with it. Were it anyone else and not in an amicable situation she would've had more of an argumentative mouth on her. "Guilty on both counts," Nicole chuckled good-naturedly.

"I swear, you'd almost wonder who the child is between Shelly and I when it comes to chocolate. Not really fond of the other candies, but if it has chocolate it has to be good!" She found his preference in liquor interesting and similar to your own. "And I'm no bartender, but in that case you might like a few things I've come up with at home. If it wasn't seventy percent to start out with, it's that and then some by the time I get done with it," Nicole returned, her voice just as light-hearted.

At Julian's offer to purchase something for Shelly to drink, so long as it was okay with Nicole, the woman glanced at Shelly. Once again that charming smile was on the girl's face. Returning her emerald gaze to Julian, Nicole nodded her consent. One had to look a little closely, but there was a wink hidden in there.

Shelly cocked her head a little as the wizard whispered, grinning. She liked "Mr. Julian". Her head was turned so that she didn't see him wink at Nicole, or the silent reply of a smile so large that it reached the corners of the witch's eyes. "Really?!" she whispered back in surprise, her eyes clearly attempting to widen to the size of tennis balls. All of those things sounded good - particularly the chocolate frogs, which were her favorite wizarding treat. Nicole hadn't mentioned a word of any of that to her! Now Shelly was even more excited.

The little girl debated for a moment on what to do. Nikki clearly gestured that it was okay. Shelly giggled when Julian ruffled her hair, and nodded. "Butterbeer, please, Mr. Julian! And thank you!" Almost instantly a pair of eleven-year-old arms wrapped around the man in a hug of excited thanks.

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