Arthur is standing near a table at the back of the Leaky Cauldron, near the entrance to Diagon Alley. He is, unfortunately in his mind, not alone. Beside him is a woman, clearly his mother by the way she is fussing over him. She's tall and slightly plump, with brown hair and warm brown eyes. "Oh, come here, honey. You should have done something about your hair," she says, reaching over to try and flatten some of the boy's hair that is being especially unruly today. "Mum, stoppit," Arthur hissed, batting at her hand. "I don't know why you need to be here. No one else brings their mum along. I'm just meeting friends." Eleanora just smiles though, ignoring his fit. "Well, I've never met this friend of yours. It is my job as your mother to make sure you're in good company." This of course just makes Arthur roll his eyes and cross his arms over his chest grumpily. "Fine, but don't talk to her when she gets here," he says finally.
Claire is actually on time for once, although today she's looking a bit feral. Her hair is messy and she's wearing a ripped up pair of jeans that she can't get away with at school. She's staying with her brother for the holiday, and since he doesn't particularly care what she does, she's been living on candy and pop and staying up all night reading comic books. She comes in through the muggle entrance and waves exuberantly when she notices Arthur. "Heeeeey!" she says loudly as she heads in his direction. It's pretty clear when she notices his mom, because her eyes go wide and she starts walking noticeably slower.
When Arthur sees Claire finally he grins, unlatching one of his crossed arms to wave. Which of course alerts his mother to the arrival of Claire as well. She smiles brightly. "Hi dear! You must be Claire. It's a shame your other friend couldn't make it, Art says she stays at school over the holidays." She glances behind Claire for a moment, looking for someone else. "Are you here alone?" Arthur is glaring at his mother as she talks to Claire, flagrantly ignoring his latest request. "As I told you, most people are allowed to come to Diagon Alley alone by now, mum. We'll be fine. We'll see you later, okay?" He turns back to Claire, his cheeks having gone bright red, though there is a tiny hint of a sheepish grin. "Want to go check out the candy shop?" he asks.
"Yeeeeessss," Claire says, as if by drawing out this single word she might preclude herself from any further interaction with Arthur's mom. She darts a glance at Arthur, clearly a little confused at this turn of events.
“You should come back with Art later then and join us for dinner!” Arthur’s mom suggests enthusiastically. “Alright. You two have fun then.” She gives them smiles, still happily ignoring her son’s annoyance and turns to head off to get some errands of her own done. Arthur has turned even more red. “Sorry about that. Mums, you know.” He shrugs. “So candy?” He asks, turning to less the way into Diagon Alley. “How was your Christmas? Were you with your family?”
"Maybe!" Claire says brightly. "Bye now!" She watches his mom leave with her head cocked slightly to one side, and then turns to grin at Arthur. "Yes! I've just been eating muggle candy. I want acid pops." She follows him out to the street. "Chrismas was okay. My parents couldn't come back to London so it was just me and my brothers." She sounds as if this was just fine with her. "What about you?"
"Muggle candy? That seems rather boring. Is there any good stuff?" Arthur asks curiously as they head into Diagon Alley. When she says her parents couldn't come back though he lifts his eyebrows. "No? Where were they? Isn't that weird spending the holidays without your parents? Did you brothers get you presents?" He shrugs. "It was fine. On Christmas day a bunch of our aunts and uncles and cousins came over. There was a quidditch game after dinner like always. I got forced to play and fell off my broom because my brother fouled me," he grumbles. "But it was good. I got some nice books and a new gobstones set." And, for the record, Arthur is wearing brown pants and a green sweater with some stripes on it.
"Pixy Stix are okay but the chocolate's all rubbish," Claire says, edging around a slower walker in front of them. "They're off in Algeria. Dad's a journalist. It's okay if they're gone, my brothers got me LOADS of candy and they let me listen to all their tapes." She doesn't sound at all bothered by this situation. She does nod along as he tells her about his holiday. "I didn't know you played Quidditch," she says. "What position are you?"
“A pixy stick? Is there a pixy on it?” Arthur asks with big eyes, looking at Claire curiously. “You can’t eat pixies can you?” As she mentioned chocolate he nods though. “Oh I need some new chocolate frogs. Do you collect the cards? There are a few I’m really looking for.” He grins. “Sounds nice. My brothers are terrible.” He says it almost fondly, but there is that forced hatred. He wrinkles his nose. “I don’t play quidditch. I hate it. But it was a “family thing” according to mum and they were short one player.”
Claire laughs at his pixy questions. "No. I think the muggles just stumbled on the name by accident. Unless it really is all just ground up pixies…….. Ew." She makes a face. "I don't have very many of the frog cards, but you can look through them and see if I have any you need," she offers. She frowns at his Quidditch experience, and speaks up with more vehemence than is probably necessary, considering. "That's awful! No one should HAVE to play Quidditch. I don't even know why anyone wants to."
“What /is/ it then?” Arthur asks rather curiously. “No? I have tons of doubles. Do you want them? I’ll bring them back to school with me if you do. It’s fun trying to get them all.” At Claire’s proclamation about quidditch Arthur stops briefly and turns to smile at her. It’s a true Arthur smile too. ”Right? I completely agree. It’s terrible.” As they reach the candy shop he pulls the door open, holding it open for both of them so they can step inside.
"It's just sugar," Claire says, as if everyone should know this. "I'll bring some back with me, we can have a trade." She could go on about her numerous & varied problems with Quidditch for some time, so it's probably for the best that they arrive at the candy shop. "This is my favorite place in the entire world," she declares solemnly.
“Just sugar? That’s all?” Arthur looks slightly disturbed at this idea. “Good thing you’re at a proper candy store now.” He grins at Claire. “I’ve got a bunch of Christmas money. What do you want to get? I definitely want some fizzing whizzbees. Oh and I need some Bertie’s botts. I’m trying to collect the bad ones and make a new box for my brother,” he explains.
Claire is already grabbing some cockroach clusters. "I want to get some acid pops. And I promised my brother I'd get some pumpkin pasties." She laughs when he explains his Bertie Botts plan. "I can help too. What'd your brother do to you anyway?"
Arthur grabs a small basket from beside the door, dropping some candy floss and tossing it in before holding it out for Claire to use too if she wants. "Do? Oh nothing specific. It's more a continuous accumulation of things. Like before Christmas he charmed my pants to all turn pink and sing songs." Pants being of course, his underwear. "So this is just stage one of my revenge. Plus I can trick my little brother with this too." He says this almost gleefully as he finds the fizzing whizzbees and drops a handful into his basket. "Did you brothers go to Hogwarts too?"
Claire cheerfully drops her candy into Arthur's basket. She snickers at this story about how his brother charmed his pants. "That's kind of brilliant though. I'd like to learn to do that." She inspects a selection of blood pops, and then drops two into the basket. "No, my brothers are muggles. Well. They're my step brothers technically. My mom was a witch, though."
"Yeah, if it wasn't my pants. I should have thought of it first." Arthur mutters. He is grinning though. He eyes the blood pops as well but skips them going for the chocolate frogs. "Okay…these and…you pick one too for me. Then maybe I have a better chance of getting a good card." He selects three himself from different areas on the shelf and dropping them in. "Oh really? Is that weird having muggles for brothers? Do they know you're a witch?"
Claire inspects the chocolate frogs, even picking some up and weighing them seriously in her hands before she finally selects one and drops it in the basket. "I have a good feeling about that one," she explains. She just shrugs at his comment about her brothers. "It's not that weird. My mum doens't do magic much anymore, anyway." She trails off, suddenly very interested in the candy in front of her.
Arthur watches Claire closely as she selects his chocolate frog. "Okay. I am trusting you on this." He offers a bit of a smile before glancing into their basket. "Anything else we need?" He nods a bit as she explains about her family. "No? I can't imagine my mum not using magic anymore. Don't you ever feel like you don't really fit in then?" Tact was never really Arthur's best area.
"I fit in," Claire says defensively. "You can do plenty of things without magic. I just come to school cus I have to." She sounds like she's had this conversation before.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean it…bad,” Arthur tells her with a quirk of his lips that looks kind of like it’s supposed to be a smile. “I mean My brothers and I are all way different. None of us even ended up in the same houses. My whole family has magic though so I have a hard time imaging not having it around.” This time he does give Claire more of a smile. “But c’mon school is alright! I mean some classes are boring but it’s fun for the rest. I think I’m joining the dueling club. You could join too?”
It's probably hard to tell whether Claire is mollified by any part of this explanation, or if she's just so disturbed by the concept of school being 'alright' that she's forgotten what else she was upset about. "I don't like ANY of my classes," she declares, but honestly, she probably doesn't need to explain this. Her marks are terrible and she gets detention all of the time. "I was thinking about dueling club, though," she adds. "It seems exciting…"(edited)
“None?” Arthur asks with a quirk of his eyebrow. “I mean I’m not a big fan of potions, mostly cause I’m rather rubbish at it. But like transfiguration is okay. And I like Ancient Runes. It’s really interesting sometimes. Charms is fun too I think. I mean, I’ve been waiting my whole life to be able to do magic better.” He pauses, studying Claire for a moment. “We could maybe do our homework together sometimes, if you wanted?” The suggestion comes so innocently and sweetly, like he really thinks it would help. “I’m sure Maggie would join us. Then it might be fun. Plus you two are probably way smarter than me.” Turning his attention back to dueling club he nods a bit more enthusiastically. “Yeah, it does. Izumi invited me to check it out before the holidays.”
Claire makes a face at all of this school talk. "Ugh. We're on holiday," she says, adding another arbitrary chocolate to the basket. She didn't even look at it before she put it in there. "Let's not worry about school until we have to. Have you talked to Maggie since we left the castle?" she asks.
“Fine, fine,” Arthur relents. “But don’t let Maggie hear,” he jokes, grabbing a few more things from the shelves before eyeing their basket. “And I got a present from her for Christmas which was really nice of her. I sent her some candy. I didn’t expect any presents.” He actually looks rather pleased by the fact though. “It’s too bad she couldn’t come hang out. I don’t know if I’d want to be stuck alone at Hogwarts during the holidays. But maybe in the summer you guys can come visit. Have you talked to her?"
"She sent me something too! I didn't send anything back. I was going to send her this Legion t-shirt, but I don't know where it is…" Claire is momentarily perturbed by this, but then she just shrugs. She digs some coins out of her pocket and offers them to Arthur to add to the candy fund. "Maybe you guys can come visit me this summer," she suggests. "My brother's basically never home, we can do whatever we want. Your mom would hate it." She says this with obvious glee.
"What did she sent you?" Arthur asks curiously. "What is with this Legion band? I mean I had heard of them of course. But why are all your girls crazy about them?" He takes the coins from Claire, reaching into his own pocket to fish out his own coins. Moving towards the line he places himself behind the girl paying, waiting his turn. "Oh god, mum would die. She'd probably want to meet your parents though," he grumbles.
"It was a skirt," Claire says. "I wore it for Christmas. What about you?" She glances impatiently at the girl ahead of them in line, and frowns a little bit when he asks about Legion. "I mean… have you seen them?" she asks, as if they didn't see them together, and very recently. "Jasper is amazing and their lyrics are so deep. And they're wizards too! My other favorite bands are all muggles. So it's like they just understand me better." She laughs when he says that his mum would want to meet her parents. "That's lame. She could meet my brother, though." It's safe to say that this would probably not be very comforting to anyone's mum.
"Oh. Nice." Arthur tells her, though clearly his feelings about skirts are rather neutral. "She made me a sweater. It's really warm. Mum thought it was the sweetest thing /ever/. I think she wants to adopt Maggie and she's never met her. But she also has three sons, so." He shrugs. "Well, I mean I saw them at the ball? What makes their lyrics so deep? Are lyrics supposed to be deep?" He does nod a little, trying to understand as Claire explains. "Oh, well maybe she'd be fine with that. Or maybe I can get around it."
Claire smirks when Arthur mentions his mom wanting to adopt Maggie. "Maybe Maggie should make her a sweater," she suggests. She seems genuiely confused when he asks her why Legion is deep, as if it's never occured to her that someone wouldn't automatically hold this opinion. "They're always just so real about their feelings," she says finally. "I guess it doesn't have to be deep, but then what's even the point?"
"She did write her a thank you note for the dress." Arthur says in an off-hand manner. He's just stepping up to pay, dumping the candy out and hanging over the coins as Claire explains about Legion. He waits until he's gotten his change, and bag of candy before turning back to her, frowning slightly. "But why it is always about feelings? Can't it be about…I don't know, like…not feelings?"
"About like… what, then?" Claire asks, leading the way to the exit. "All the best songs are about feelings. Mostly heartbreak," she says very knowledgeably. "What kind of music do you like, then?"
"Well, I can't come up with something immediately," Arthur admits. "But I am sure there is something besides feelings." He seems very confident in this. "Heartbreak?" he asks skeptically, following her out. Once they're outside, he digs into the bag and offers her one of the chocolate frogs, taking one for himself. "Isn't it hard to relate? Have you had your heart broken?" He turns to give Claire a curious look, opening his chocolate frog in the meanwhile. "Um. I like…the Beatles? And Miles Davis?"
Claire takes the frog from him and rips the package open, dropping it on the ground behind her as they walk. "I haven't, no," she says to his heartbreak question. "Have you?" She bites the frog's head off and laughs at his music choices. "Old people music," she says. "Anyway the Beatles have TONS of songs about feelings."
When Claire drops the package on the groun, Arthur scambles behind her to pick it up, ripping it further open to see what card is inside. "You're forgetting the best part!" he scolds, examining the card. "Hmm. Helga Hufflepuff. I have her. Do you want her?" he offers the card towards Claire. "Then isn't it hard to understand what they're going on about?" He frowns a bit, trying to wrap his head around this concept. "They do? Like what?"
"Oh, yeah." Claire reaches out and takes the card, inspecting Helga. "They could've picked a more flattering portrait, don't you think?" Helga scowls at her, but Claire just shoves the card into her back pocket. "You just have to use your imagination," she tells Arthur. She polishes off the chocolate frog, and then glances sideways at him. "Well…" she only pauses for a moment and then starts singing. Loudly. "ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE…!"
"Claaaaire," Arthur groans as she shoves the card in her pocket. "Here, give it to me. I'll put it in a sleeve for you and bring it to you at school." he tells her, holding his hand out for the card. He's still holding his half-opened package in his other hand, keeping the frog encased. Whatever he was expecting her to do next, clearly singing wasn't it from the look on his face. He laughs, but slightly awkwardly. "Okay, okay, I get it!"
"I can do more," Claire says, deadpan. "They have that one about Penny Lane, that one's got all sorts of feelings." She seems content to leave off with the singing for now, though. She fishes the card out of her pocket and hands it over while she's talking. It only has a little bit of lint on it.
Arthur laughs and shakes his head. “I believe you. They’re all about feelings.” He is still eyeing her a bit suspiciously though to make sure she doesn’t break out in song again. Once she hands over the card though he looks relived, placing it carefully into the candy bag before finally opening his own chocolate frog completely. He takes a bite out of a leg before reaching for the card. “Oh yess. Celestina Warbeck. I didn’t have her yet.” He places the car carefully with the other before returning to munching on his chocolate frog. “Here, take some more,” he says, holding the bag open for her to pick some candy.
"You're welcome," Claire says, when he reveals the Celestina Warbeck card. She's taking credit for that, onviously. She glances over at it for a second, but then takes his offer to rifle around in the candy bag. She pulls out a pumpkin pasty. "What do you want to do next? When do you have to go?"
Arthur is excited enough about his card he just nods at her, looking completely nonplussed at her taking credit for the card. He finishes off his chocolate frog before grabbing a fizzing whizzbee from the bag. He shrugs. "We could check out the animals? Mum said maybe for my birthday I could get an animal. But I don't know what to pick."
"Yes!" Claire says, her voice rather strained around the acid pop she's shoved into her mouth. "I love the owls," she adds, removing the pop and making an unpleasant face. "Are you going to get one today or are you just going to look?" She's not deterred from eating the candy, though, and puts it back in her mouth once she's done asking questions. Her eyes are starting to water.
Arthur can't help but laugh at Claire's reaction to her acid pop, snickering a bit as he pops the fizzing whizzbee in his mouth. Though his eyes are big moments after from the fizz, making him look a bit like a wide-eyed owl himself. Once he's able to talk again he shakes his head. "In the summer. At an early present since my birthday isn't until November. But then I wouldn't have it in time for school. My brother got a cat before his 5th year." He winds his way through the people in Diagon Alley before stopping at the Owl Emporium and peering in the window. "Ooh, that one is nice," he says pointing to one he can see from outside. It's a very big owl with dark brown feathers and a rather massive beak.
Claire is determined to see this mistake through. She chomps down on the candy and almost chokes, but she manages to compose herself by the time they're at the owl emporium. She hasn't been able to say anything for a minute, but she nods along enthusiastically to disguise how much trauma this candy is causing her. At the Owl Emporium, she presses her face right to the glass to look at the owl Arthur pointed out. "He's SO cool! Owls are the best, cats don't even do anything."
And meanwhile beside her, Arthur is watching with intent interest as she eats the acid pop, silently laughing at her struggles. He doesn't say anything though, instead focusing on the owls. "Lets go see him." He says, reaching to grab her arm and tug her inside if she'll let him. And inside he marches right over towards the owl, entranced. "Hi buddy," he says awkwardly. The owl just hoots down at him, eyeing him rather suspiciously.
Claire allows Arthur to drag her into the shop. Her eyes get rather wide as they approach the large owl, and she stares at it with undisguised longing. "He's so beautiful," she says quietly. This owl is enough to hold her attention for a moment, but then she starts to look around at all of the other owls on their perches. "Look at that silly little one," she says, pointing. The owl in question is much smaller than the first, with odd plumage sticking out of the top of its head and a very angry looking face.
“Would you be able to get one too? Maybe for your birthday?” Arthur suggests, still staring at the big owl. When Claire points out the other though he walks over to it, frowing. Actually, his expression is not that dissimilar to the owl’s. He bends down, setting his hands on his knees to eye the owl carefully. “Funny looking, aren’t you?” he asks softly, causing the owl to squawk at him.
"I can't really have an owl," Claire says, "I just like them a lot." She also peers at the funny looking owl before moving on to inspect the other birds in the room. They spend the rest of the afternoon in the Owl Emporium and wandering around elsewhere on Diagon Alley, eating candy and chatting until it's time for Arthur to go. Once he's gone, Claire heads back out of the Leaky Cauldron into Muggle London, her new wizarding loot tucked away in an ordinary paper bag as she heads back home.