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 Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice

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Calixta Harper
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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:12 pm

Julian threw his head back and laughed at Shelly's helpful input. "Now that, I believe. She's a professional, your Aunt," he told the little girl, still chuckling.

"Well we all have our vices, eh Nicole? I do happen to think you've picked yours well, though. I might have to take you up on that very tempting offer, I always make a effort to try new things. Variety is the spice of life, and all of that." He hugged Shelly back briefly and accepted their drinks from the bartender, handing Nicole hers and ordering Shelly's butterbeer.

"That'll be all, I think, thank you, Tommy," he told the man behind the counter, who nodded and headed down the bar to another pair of customers who had just arrived. Julian took a swig of his drink with an appreciative air and smile.

"Just like home," he sighed happily. "And very much not like home -- that pizza. What do you girls like, anyway?" he asked curiously.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Tue Jul 05, 2011 5:30 pm

Shelly giggled at Julian's amusement and grinned wide to show off a row of straight teeth that were as taken care of as an eleven-year old could manage. Nicole attempted to keep a straight face, or at least not appear any more amused than she already was, but the attempt was futile. She doubted Julian could truly appreciate just how much she was grateful for him referring to her as Shelly's aunt, rather than mum, right about now. A lot of passersby that Shelly connected with made that mistake. Of course, Nicole had told him before the wizard could assume too much. Not since day one had Michelle ever referred to Nicole as 'mum' and the older witch respected that.

Nicole nodded when Julian spoke of vices. "Thank you." She wondered precisely how he might take her up on the offer. There were a couple of ways in which she could perceive that happening. One: they meet up in a muggle bar's parking lot or other predesignated location. Her jeep could most certainly accommodate a mini-bar-sized cooler. Or option two... well, Nicole was undecided in her feelings about having him over at her house. The woman didn't really entertain that much, and if she did that Nicole would feel obligated to provide food to go with the drinks. Nicole inwardly cringed at the thought of a kitchen fiasco, not being all that skilled when it came to cookery. She supposed they could order out...

The woman gave herself a little shake to jolt out of these thoughts. His comment on variety being the spice of life, and the return hug Julian bestowed Shelly, earned yet another large smile from Nicole. It was probably the most she'd smiled in a while. "That it is," she replied with no small amount of enthusiasm, relieving Julian of her drink when he handed it to her. Once he had his drink in hand she took a sip, unable to keep a smile from her face as well.

"Yours kinda looks like root beer, Nikki," Shelly chuckled.

Nicole nearly spat out her second sip of the beer back into the mug at Shelly's observation, amused. "It most definitely isn't root beer, Shelly," she replied. To prove her point Nicole held the glass between them for Michelle to examine.

"On a pizza?" Nicole asked, taking her eyes off Shelly for the moment to look to Julian as she thought about the question. She didn't see Shelly take the tiniest of sips from her glass of beer and the comical face that promptly followed. One would think Shelly had just gotten hold of the dreaded bogey-flavored Bertie Botts bean Julian had mentioned. "We're not too picky. Although I like peppers, mushrooms, and olives... and Shelly prefers pineapple, pepperoni and ham."

After taking a moment to recover, Shelly had her own interpretation of Julian's question and decided it was time for her to chime in. "I like cartoons, and games, and Quidditch, dancing and music, and lotsa other stuff! Nikki's teaching me karate, too - it's fun!"

Nicole glanced at Shelly and blushed somewhat at the girl's answer, sticking her nose back into her glass of beer while Michelle went on. The witch hadn't thought about the possibility that Julian may have meant hobbies and not food. "It's not quite karate," Nicole corrected, "More like a conglomeration of self-defense techniques..."

"Wax on, wax off..." Shelly giggled, playfully mimicking the hand motions associated with the words from the original version of the film The Karate Kid.

"Shelly and I both like the game 'Battleship'. I enjoy driving off-road, poker, movies, bungee jumping, Quidditch, fishing, and a good challenge. To name a few things, anyway..." Nicole rattled off to make up for her earlier assumption, tossing in a not-so-hidden wink this time. It might be more than he'd wanted to know, but that was the joy of information: one could take and keep it, or disregard it entirely. "And yourself?" the witch returned the question, eyebrow raised in curiosity.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Tue Jul 05, 2011 6:48 pm

Somehow it did not seem wise to inform Nicole about Shelly's little flirtation with alcohol that he witnessed. Firstly, it would most certainly ruin the good time everyone was having, and secondly, she definitely learned her lesson -- and immediately, by the looks of it. He just barely managed to contain his laughter, in an effort not to expose her misbehaviour. Instead, he shot her a stern though not unkind look when Nicole wasn't paying attention, in order to let her know that he'd seen and did not approve. It wasn't really his place to get mixed into these kinds of things, anyway, so he hoped that was good enough as he turned his attention back to Nicole.

"Both of those sound good -- I have yet to try a pizza I didn't like. One of those people who'll eat anything -- my brother used to call me the walking rubbish bin when we were boys," he told her with a small chuckle. "Still true, too. Must be, because I eat my own cooking. Although I admit, I prefer just eating out instead, save me the time and effort of putting out fires."

At Shelly's unusual answer, however, and Nicole's follow-up, Julian took a further inventory of his likes and dislikes. Although that had clearly not been his intended question, it had yielded interesting answers, and he felt it was only fair to respond with his own.

"I see Quidditch is something we all have in common -- although my team is the Dresden Dragons, I expect you two probably prefer another club. I like pizza and beer, generally regarding the two as the greatest combination of foodstuffs known to mankind. Also, music -- I actually play the bass, and sing a bit although I think I'm terrible. My brother and I were in a band one summer together -- he plays the guitar. We were called God's Teeth and were over in about six weeks when the drummer started some issues with the lead singer over a girl, very typical. Let's see, what else? I really like....Muggle cars, they're so fascinating, how the old ones ran on petrol and everything. I used to like taking them apart, when I had time. I have a vintage 66' Shelby, from America, that's nearly a hundred years old now, and it still runs perfect. Magic. Literally," he laughed again, realising he'd been rambling on. It seemed her kept on doing that with them, which was weird really because he had never really been that talkative, usually. There was just a very fun energy about the two females that made him enjoy being in their presence.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:42 am

Shelly's eyes widened, then apologetically lowered, at the stern glance from Julian. The girl inched a little toward her step-mother, shifting her weight onto her other foot, and bit her lip. Yes, she had learned her lesson thoroughly and quickly. Michelle did glance up again after a few moments when she realized he wasn't going to tell Nikki. The child attempted to convey her thanks, but the sparkle in her eyes told more of mischief and a love of fun.

Nicole chuckled at Julian's comments regarding food. "Never met a pizza I didn't like either, frankly." The woman found it interesting to hear him talk about his cooking skill. Or apparently, given his statements, a lack thereof. She found it almost scary to hear approximately her same thoughts about cooking repeated in a man's voice. "I can understand that..." she replied. Her pride didn't want her to confess her own poor skill at cooking. At least not at this very minute.

Both girls listened as he spoke. Shelly's interest noticeably increased the moment he mentioned playing an instrument and being in a band. Nicole wasn't so easy to read, keeping interested throughout. "I'll have to watch you around my jeep, then," she teased lightly. "Unfortunately I haven't gotten it to run on magic yet. By muggle standards I'm a fair mechanic, but magical mechanics is a whole different Quidditch pitch, so to speak."

"I like the Holyhead Harpies. Nikki likes the Falmouth Falcons 'cuz they play rough," Shelly chimed in innocently.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:55 am

Julian covered his mouth and snorted in a very unmanly fashion at Shelly's umexpected interruption. "I-I'm s-sure she does," he finally choked out, still guffawing. Hey, might as well enjoy he joke because surely Nicole would be killing him for laughing at her (albeit indirectly).

"I'm so sorry," he added, palms up in a gesture of surrender. "That was so rude, I just -- forgot myself for a moment there. Please don't hurt me," he finished, only half-joking.

"I'll tell you about the time I accidentally transfigured myself into a marmot," he said -- a peace offering if ever there was one.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:33 am

Nicole's face started to flush seconds after Shelly had spoken. Although innocently meant, it could be interpreted in a completely different manner. As fate would have it, Julian seemed to have taken that alternate train of thought as well. That fact alone made her face turn an even brighter shade of pinkish-red. Green eyes narrowed in Julian's direction. Although nowhere near about to shoot him, she did pull the snap on her holster free in warning. If looks could kill, Julian would be in deep trouble.

Shelly had no idea why the statement was so funny, but she grinned and laughed into her butterbeer anyway. Nicole had all she could do to keep from lightly cuffing the child on the back of the head. A long heart-to-heart talk was apparently in order on the drive to Anubis Laboratories.

A brown eyebrow tainted with flecks of gold-ish blonde twitched. "Spill it," Nicole muttered, moderately 'appeased' and interested regardless, but still quite flustered. She kept herself nose-deep in her mug of beer, awaiting the promised tale. However, Nicole had no intention to resurface - actually drinking or not - until the story was finished.

"What's a marmot?" Shelly asked.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:54 pm

The look on Nicole's face was not encouraging. Julian began speaking very fast, seemingly in the hopes that she'd forgive him for laughing at her if he made a fool of himself as thoroughly as possible.

"A marmot is, erm...well it's a kind of squirrel, see," he started, looking nervously at Nicole. "A big ground squirrel. Goofy looking things. Well anyway, how it happened is really quite simple...my brother loved playing pranks on people -- me, specifically, because, dolt that I was, I believed nearly anything he told me. I was sixteen and I had a date with this girl I'd had a crush on for ages -- Svetlana Korosko, I'll never forget." Julian shook his head at the memory and finished off his beer.

"So my brother told me there was this spell you could use, to -- erm....make you taller," he stumbled, lying quickly. There was no way he was going to explain that part in front of an eleven year old. He blushed, realising Nicole would probably see right through it. "So when I got out of the shower, I grabbed my wand, and did it. Only...it turned me into a marmot, instead. Julian chuckled, remembering.

"And that's when my troubles really began, because you see, marmots can't speak, or hold a wand, and I couldn't reverse the spell. My brother had landed himself in detention for -- some other misdeed, I suppose, and no one else knew anything about it, so there I was squeaking around my common room, my classmates trying to catch me in a butterfly net. It took nearly an hour for me to escape to my room, by which time Svetlana was waiting for me..." He cringed, scratching his head.

"Turns out she was terrified of rodents of all varieties. Thought I had played a prank on her to make her scared....nearly trampled over me on her haste to leave the room, not knowing...she refused to speak to me after that, I was so angry with Bastian! Strolled in, all nonchalant, around midnight, after I had been cowering in my wardrobe for hours, undid the spell and asked me how my date went."

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:01 pm

Shelly grinned and giggled at Julian's description of a marmot. She loved animals, and had no trouble at all picturing the creature. Especially considering she could spend all day watching squirrels scampering up and down the pear trees at home.

Nicole watched Julian by peering over the top of her mug, listening intently. Her own beer was dwindling, but the witch was determined to make it last to the end of Julian's story. Despite the bright pink still on her cheeks the woman couldn't help but smirk a little at the mention of pranks. That was something else she liked... but she thought that information might be better left as a 'surprise' for another time, assuming they either run into each other again or schedule Lori to watch Shelly so that Nicole could meet him somewhere.

'Taller, indeed,' thought Nicole with an amused roll of her eyes. Through the clear glass of her mug, though distorted, one could see the battle she was having with herself in trying not to smirk. Nicole's serious side was losing rather terribly. She was thankful that Julian had used a euphemism for she hadn't exactly had that particular talk with Shelly yet. Although if it had just been adults in the room it wouldn't have mattered that much to her. Nicole supposed at some point before they parted ways that she owed Julian at least a slight apology for getting testy.

Giggles erupted from Shelly at the mental image she had of his classmates trying to catch him in a butterfly net. She stretched between the two to put her empty butterbeer on the counter, whispering a quick "'Scuse me..." and then stepped back.

A few chuckles could be heard echoing out of Nicole's mug. Slowly the heat in her face and throbbing of heartbeat in her ears began to dissipate. She placed her empty beer mug on the counter a bit before he finished speaking despite the fact a faint pink tinge still remained. As he concluded, Nicole couldn't help but laugh a little despite Julian's misfortune. "Brothers," she muttered and shrugged, back to being moderately good-natured. "You'd think, working at bars, I'd've heard just about everything. But that is definitely a new one!"

A quiet "Awww!" of sympathy at the mention of Svetlana never speaking to Julian again came from Shelly. "That was mean."

"Are you two ready to go get pizza?" Nicole asked, changing the subject. "I need to make a quick pit stop at my jeep first..."

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:31 pm

Julian was extremely relieved that Nicole seemed to find his story amusing -- although it was hardly surprising. That story was pretty infamous amongst his circle of schoolfriends as being one of the best pranks Bastian had ever pulled, and it was an old favourite at pubs. Every word was true -- unfortunately. But he'd gotten over Svetlana eventually.

Having finished his own drink, he found Nicole's suggestion to be a good one. He really ought to get going soon anyway, but he didn't tell them -- no need to make them feel guilty when he would probably have skived off work a bit anyway.

"I'm ready," he confirmed. "Starving, actually. Where're ya parked?"

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:03 pm

Shelly nodded in time with Julian's answer and stood out of the way of the two adults.

"Not far. Managed to find a choice parking spot that wasn't handicapped," Nicole explained, beginning to walk toward the door. "It's a red 2005 Jeep Rubicon, which belonged to my father." Craning her neck to locate where her 11-year-old shadow went, the witch added, "Shelly - hands, please. I don't care who you pick, just stay close."

Michelle decided to go with the best of both worlds, grabbing onto the elbow of Nicole's sleeve and wrapping her other hand around Julian's. She grinned up at the wizard as they all headed outside. It didn't take long to find or reach the jeep. Once there, Shelly released her grip on Nicole's robes so that she could do whatever it was she needed to. Now that she thought about it, the woman had been wearing sunglasses on the drive yet not at all during the outdoor portions of their outing.

Nicole opened the driver's side of the vehicle in the muggle fashion, complete with a key that quite frankly made the car an antique in the modern age of virtually key-less muggle cars. "I seem to have lost my sunglasses, and I hate losing things," she explained, confirming Shelly's thoughts as she inspected the seats. After a couple of minutes of scrabbling around she found the black teashade-like sunglasses on the floor of the jeep and put them on.

"And I don't know about you two but I've just about had enough of these... The summer is just too bloody hot to double-up outfits, and I'm hopeless at enchanting clothes." With that she stepped out of her robes to reveal a loose-fitting black tank top, camouflage cargo pants, and black Doc Martens boots of her alternate outfit. It also revealed the three guns she had on her: one at each hip and a third at her lower back. She promptly removed those as well, and buried the firearms beneath the discarded robe.

The dagger she carried at her back was hidden beneath the tank top, the shirt loose and weapon small enough so as to be barely visible save for a small portion of the handle. To the untrained eye it could have simply been part of the design of an undergarment or that the tank top simply had extra space there. Nicole wasn't removing her dagger for all of the obvious reasons.

Locking the car back up she turned to Shelly and Julian, leaning against the vehicle momentarily. "Alright, good to go. Sorry about that."

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:45 pm

Julian was surprised when at the make and model of the car -- they didn't make those anymore and hadn't for a very long time, clearly. "Wow, that thing still runs?" he asked, honestly impressed and not trying to be rude. Upon catching sight of it, he immediately recognised that it was in pristine condition -- Nicole and her father had clearly cared for it properly, because the vehicle was of a type meant to get down and dirty. Julian whistled in appreciation; it really was a beauty in that classic utilitarian style of the time.

On the subject of beauties, Julian turned away from Nicole as she removed her robes, clearly not looking where to look. He didn't think she'd appreciate him gawking at her, although he could always blame it on the weapons she was packing. The woman was locked and loaded, and frankly Julian didn't know whether to be intimidated or to find it sexy. He settled for a bit of both, while slipping his hand out of Shelly's awkwardly. It was hard enough fighting his natural impulses without also having to feel weird about being so near a minor as well.

"Yeah, it's really hot out...do what you have to do, no need to make yourself uncomfortable for my benefit," he said lamely, hoping he wasn't coming off as a creep. "I, erm...had the witch at the shop take care of those spells for me, you know. Never been every good at the household-y kinds of spells," he shrugged, feeling that it was safe to look at Nicole again.

He was wrong. Julian swallowed hard and squinted as though the sunlight was giving him a hard time. He definitely could use a pair of sunglasses at the moment, and would have conjured a pair if they weren't in Muggle London now. It was really helpful realising that Nicole made him nervous in a variety of different ways rather than just the one. Sure didn't make trying not to get himself shivved really difficult, or anything. The knife she wore at her back had not escaped his notice.

"It's no problem, actually, you can see the shop from here," Julian noted, nodding I'm the direction of the red and white striped awning just visible down the road.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:25 pm

"Yep. Still runs. Had to pour a lot of cash and care into it, but its worth it," replied Nicole with no small amount of pride.

"Never even thought about that..." Nicole trailed off with slight embarrassment. "Another errand for another day I guess. And... same here about the household stuff. I just do things the Muggle way. Saves me from going crazy to try and reverse the problem." Another half truth... but in Nicole's mind it was necessary until she found out a bit more about the wizard before her and felt able to trust him enough.

Shelly didn't mind too much when Julian let go of her hand. It actually gave her an idea. The girl strode over to the passenger side of the car and unlocked it with her own set of keys. She pawed through the glove box and retrieved what looked to be an eyeglass case, locked the vehicle as Nicole had done, and walked back over to Julian.

"Oh?" Nicole asked, turning to look in the direction Julian specified. "You weren't kidding when you said it was just across the way... Never even noticed it before." She walked toward them and reached out her left arm - a dragon tattoo coiled around her bicep - to take Shelly's hand.

Before taking Nicole's hand, Shelly gave a tug at Julian's sleeve. "You can borrow these if you like, Mr. Julian," the little girl offered, holding up the eyeglass case. Within was a pair of sunglasses. "Just be careful, please. They were my Daddy's."

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:33 pm

Julian looked down at Shelly in surprise. The little girl's generosity put a lump in his throat -- he had no idea what had happened to her father, but there had to be a reason why she referred to him in past tense and Nicole was looking after her, and it couldn't be good.

"Thank you, Shelly -- I'll make sure to take very food care of them. I'll give them right back when I'm done, promise." He accepted the case and put the glasses on as gingerly as if they had been made of porcelain, and then looked up at Nicole, as much as to see whether he'd spoken correctly as to see how they looked.

"What do you think, Nikki?" he asked, venturing to use her nickname for the first time. Julian figured at the very least she wouldn't blow his head off for it if she didn't want him calling her that.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:54 pm

"You're welcome!" Shelly replied happily, glad to be able to help. Considering she might as well join the club, the eleven year old pulled out her own pair of sunglasses - star-shaped lenses with hot pink frames and neon blue bows - and after putting them on took Nicole's hand.

Nicole blinked at the use of her nickname, more caught by surprise than offended. In fact, she wasn't offended at all. After a moment to recover - which was easily used to look him over, and not just regarding the sunglasses - the woman smiled pleasantly. She wasn't nearly as emotionally attached to the eyewear as Shelly was. "Not bad at all," she replied with approval.

"Let's go," Nicole added after several moments, hesitantly tearing her eyes off the wizard to walk toward the shop.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Wed Jul 06, 2011 10:14 pm

"Thanks," Julian replied with a hint of a smirk. Following Nicole's lead, he headed for the pizza place, making sure Shelly was safely between himself and her aunt. He had to stifle a laugh at Shelly's sunglasses -- the kid was something else entirely.

"So erm, they know me here, pretty well actually. I'm a creature of habit and like I said -- I can't cook -- so I order from here usually at least twice a week. They're like family, practically. Us immigrants sticking together in this big city, you know," he joked, opening the door to Antonio's.

The place was small, as Julian had mentioned, but escaped that claustrophobic feeling of some tiny storefronts due to its extra high ceilings -- somewhere about twelve feet tall, and painted light blue in mimicry of the sky. The huge antique ceiling fans and air vents were all even painted white, like some very misshappen clouds. Antonio's went back further than it was wide -- it sat only about four four-person circular tables across, but the back door opened out onto the alley behind the building. Both doors were open, and all of the fans were going at full blast -- they had air conditioning, of course, but they got so much traffic there was really little point in keeping the door opening and closing all the time.

The right wall -- where the ovens were -- was of course made of red brick, and the other three walls were half yellow wood panelling on the bottom, with the same sky blue paint above. A few refrigerators well-stocked with sodas was immediately to the left upon entering, and the wall behind the counter, that wasn't taken up by one of the massive ovens, was actually a chalkboard-style menu written out in a charming hand by the waitress with the neatest writing.

As the tables in the front were taken, and the ones lining the side left wall were all two-Seabees, Julian made his way down the long counter instead and found three stools that were open. "Here we are," he said, taking a seat. "What do you think?"

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:59 am

Nicole listened as Julian spoke a bit about his familiarity with the place. "Very true," she murmured in reply to his jest, finding it one of those blends of fact and humor. This time, she thanked Julian in Italian as he held open the door. Shelly tried to mimic her aunt, but ended up cutely botching the phrase.

The breeze from ceiling fans and air conditioning was like stepping into a refreshingly cold waterfall to Nicole. Reaching for her sunglasses, she pulled them almost off and then relegated the lenses to the top of her head. Shelly found doing the same with hers didn't feel right, and thus placed them back into her pocket. Nicole stood there for a moment to take in as much as she could of a first glance of the place. When Julian joined them moments afterward Nicole guided Shelly to wherever Julian was leading her.

"I like this place!" Shelly just about cheered in response to Julian, practically leaping up into the stool next to him.

Nice place thus far," Nicole murmured, taking the stool on Shelly's other side. A genuine but also slightly reminiscent smile crossed the woman's face. "Reminds me of a little place I used to frequent back in America, only it wasn't a pizza place, per se."

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Thu Jul 07, 2011 1:20 am

Julian was rather surprised by Nicole's use of Italian, but charmed nonetheless. She was just full of surprises. "My pleasure, signorita," he replied in a rather silly way, taking her hand and kissing it goofily.

"Anyway, I'm glad you like it, Shelly, but the real test is do you like the pizza? I think yes, but I also think we need to order first before we can properly find out." At Nicole's remark, he turned back towards her. "What kind of place was it?" he asked with a wink, continuing to be thoroughly ridiculous and hoping that Nicole would play along. He'd be pretty disappointed if he got annoyed, but somehow he thought anyone who would handle being the guardian of a spirited little girl like Shelly probably could handle a bit of silliness, too.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:28 pm

"I think I will!" Shelly replied with confidence and cheer. "Like you said: never met a pizza I didn't like! ... Except that one with the little fishies on it. Blegh!" she added, pulling a comical and rather un-ladylike face of disgust.

Nicole glanced sideways at Julian, turning her head a little to reveal the smirk on her face was actually a bit of a smile. "A very special place. Secret, too..." Nicole replied playfully, though the secret part was strictly in play. Nearly all the locals in the area and transplants of more than two years knew of the place. "You promise not to tell?" she asked, infusing some mischief into the playful question and returning a wink.

Shelly giggled at the conversation between the adults. While 'Nikki' often came across as serious, the eleven-year-old knew her aunt had at least a little silliness in her. The older witch kind of had to learn to let herself loosen up to live with someone like Shelly. Especially when it came to Shelly's taste in music for travel and leisure in general. "I totally pinkie-swear not to tell!" Shelly chimed in, resting her elbow on the counter and extending her hand. For the moment it looked as though she were proposing an arm-wrestle or initiating a 'secret handshake' instead.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:46 pm

Julian bit his lip, smiling at Nicole. "Alright, I promise. I'm an Auror, I can keep a secret. Best in the business," he said with a smirk, making a motion of zipping his lips and throwing away the key.

"And then, we can order our pizza. Did we decide on something everyone can agree upon, yet? I think I see Antonio coming in now," he added, looking towards the back door where a short, balding man was indeed staggering in, carrying a stack of plain cardboard boxes.

"That'll be the gelato," he said excitedly, his stomach grumbling audibly. "Fresh off the plane -- looks like it's your lucky day, ladies!" He watched as Antonio set the boxes down on the counter and gestured to a lanky boy working the ovens to put everything into the freezer, and then headed towards where his wife was working the register down at the front of the store.

"Julian!" he exclaimed, spotting one of his favourite customers. "Good to see ya -- and who are these fine young women, here? Maria!" He called down the counter towards his wife, who finished ringing up a transaction and Sid.ed over, a smile on her face.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:25 pm

Nicole laughed at Julian's antics, and reached for Shelly's hand to initiate a silent 'pinkie-swear' with her. "It was a restaurant that sort of worked like an open-air international foods festival, only it was mostly indoors: German, Italian, Chinese, Mexican... you name the ethnicity, and there was likely something featured from the country or region," she explained. Nicole then reached over to cover Shelly's ears. "I used to skip school at lunchtime to sneak over there," the woman added in a semi-whisper.

"Hey!" Shelly laughed at having her ears covered, trying to pull Nicole's hands away. Once the hands were removed the little girl playfully stuck her tongue out at Nikki, who replied in kind with a stuck-out tongue and an almost uncharacteristically funny face. Shelly laughed even harder and pushed Nicole's nose. Nicole in response tapped Shelly's and straightened at Julian's question.

"We're easy to get along with. Anything in particular you'd recommend, J?" Nicole replied, attempting to find a nickname for the wizard. Her few encounters with Julian did not yet provide a nickname, and she figured if he could use hers, then she could and should use one for him. Nicole wasn't so sure he would appreciate having his name shortened to 'Juli'. Ergo, she stuck with just the first letter.

The woman smirked at Julian's excitement, glancing to the boxes and the man carrying them. She definitely had it in mind to get a gelato. Seconds after Julian's stomach sounded, so too did Nicole's. "I definitely would like to try the gelato," she remarked.

Shelly and Nicole watched the balding man approach congenially, and it didn't take long to see that - just as Julian had said - the proprietors apparently knew him quite well. At the man's question as to who they were it was, typically, Shelly that spoke up first: "My name's Shelly!"

"Nicole Archer, sir. Pleasure to meet you," Nicole answered, and nodded in greeting to the gentleman and his wife.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:46 pm

Julian found the way that Nicole interacted with Shelly to be thoroughly charming. It was so natural and relaxed, he wouldn't have expected that the first time they'd met. She was very different from the types of women he usually dated, but the difference was refreshing rather than off-putting. Perhaps some women required the help of makeup and expensive clothes and all of that, but Nikki didn't. He'd have asked her out on a date already if he didn't think he'd end up looking down the barrel of a gun for even making the suggestion.

Plus, she had a kid to look after, and he wasn't going to mess around in their lives unless he was sure he could handle the commitment. What with his situation with Violet...things could get messy and complicated fast if he wasn't careful. But he still found himself filing this memory away, to be mulled over at a later time. It made him smile, as did her small confession.

"Ah, I'm not surprised you were a troublemaker," he joked. "Although that place does sound very tempting...I think one could fairly say you were provoked. He scanned the menu briefly for a few good choices and picked a few at random.

"Let's see...the margherita pizza is very good, fresh tomatoes and basil....clams casino, always a favourite....oh, or how about Antonio's special?" Antonio chuckled at the last option, smiling at his three customers.

"It's nice to meet you girls. This is my wife Maria, and I'm Antonio. The special is, I make you a pizza, and you tell me if it's special." Julian laughed at such an explanation.

"It's different every tim -- a surprise. But always delicious. You don't like anchovies, right?" he verified, asking Shelly. "Other than that, I think everything's fair game. What do you guys think?"

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:41 pm

"That's one way to put it," Nicole replied with an amused laugh at his choice of words. "Certainly never took much persuasion." Shelly glanced between the two, curious as to what had been discussed while her ears had been covered.

Shelly was already all grins. She wasn't sure about the clams Julian mentioned, but the other two options sounded good. The little girl couldn't help but wonder if margherita the pizza and margarita the drink were the same. After her little altercation with Nikki's schwarzbier, Shelly was all for the Antonio's Special, just in case. "Nice to meet you, too, Mr. Antonio; Mrs. Maria!" the child replied.

Nicole's eyebrows rose at Julian's recommendations. They all sounded good. If her mind wasn't made up on pizza and gelato, the woman would vote clams casino. Plus she wasn't sure if Shelly even liked clams. It was a fact that she liked shrimp and crab... but Nicole had yet to introduce her to any other variety of seafood. "The Special sounds good to me," Nicole smiled. "What do you think, Shelly?"

Shelly nodded at Julian's question. "Right. No anchovies," she half-giggled, pulling a lesser but still comical version of the face she had the first time she mentioned it. In the next second the child grinned. "Mr. Antonio's Special sounds good!"

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:07 pm

"Coming right up, then!" Antonio replied with a hearty laugh, heading off to make their pizza, while Maria took the rest of their order.

"And what will you young people like to drink, then?" she asked, whipping out a pad and pen from her apron. Julian didn't have the heart to tell her they'd already had something to drink -- oh well, they'd need something to drink with their pizza, anyway.

"Does a pitcher of cola sound good to everyone?" he asked, completely clueless as to their preference. They didn't serve liquor at Antonio's or else he could guess Nicole's, but he was fairly certain Shelly probably loved normal sodas just like any other child her age. Probably more, given her preference for butterbeer, which was much more sugary than its Muggle counterpart.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Fri Jul 08, 2011 12:36 am

Shelly was all for soda! It didn't matter what kind, so long as it fizzed and tasted good. And in her opinion some of the soda products tasted the same. Her ultimate favorite was orange, but she was by no means a picky child and any would do. After nodding her all-out approval, the girl turned to Nicole.

"That's fine with me," answered Nicole, smiling wider at the glance from Michelle she had caught in her peripheral vision. She didn't really have a preference when it came to sodas so long as they weren't too terribly sweet. The lack of a beer and wine menu told Nicole that the place was more family-oriented. She would definitely have to keep this place in mind for future outings with Shelly.

"Julian has told me that the gelato served here is some of the finest, and flown in all the way from New York?" Nicole asked Maria conversationally.

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PostSubject: Re: Sugar and Spice and Errands to Splice   Fri Jul 08, 2011 12:45 am

Maria beamed at Julian, clearly pleased that he'd been talking the place up.

"For that, you get it free," she told them in a whisper, winking.

"Oh no, Maria, that's really not necessary."

"I know it's not! But you're such a good boy, like our own son. I remember when you first came here! Your English was not as good as it is now." Julian blushed, remembering. He had a feeling Maria would tell the story whether he liked it or not; even without having a mother and father, he couldn't escape the embarrassing feeling of a parent telling someone he liked a story about him.

"Fresh off the plane, with an accent so thick you needed a steak knife to cut it! It took forever to figure out what he wanted, and then when all is said and done, he tries to pay us in these odd gold coins! Didn't have any English money on him!" she shook her head, laughing, and not knowing how wrong she was, although Nicole would probably be able to guess what had happened. Being so close to Diagon Alley, Julian hadn't realised he was in Muggle London until they made a big deal out of his "foreign" currency. He was lucky the writing on galleons was in Latin, and that they didn't know German, or the incident might have been more difficult to explain.

"Well that's nice, you're getting to hear a lot of good stories today," Julian told Shelly and Nicole, still blushing.

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