It is a lovely Saturday in London, well as lovely as a winter Saturday can be at least. The air is crisp, but there isn't much wind, and there has even been a break in the gloomy grey to let a little bit of sun peak through. It is the last weekend of January, today being the 25th of January to be precise, and in Diagon Alley a winter festival has popped up. It seems to be modeled a bit after Muggle markets or winter fairs, with some changes. An area near the end of the street has been magically expanded to accommodate an ice skating rink. Around it are little huts with witches and wizards selling food, drinks, and gifts. One particularly popular stand seems to be one with flaming drinks that fizzle down and give off small fireworks before you can drink them. On the ice rink a few snowmen have been enchanted to shake around, twirling and occasionally singing. There are ice skates to be rented, some normal ones, and some that have been magically enhanced to give a few extra features to the skater – like not falling, instant twirl abilities, speed skating.
Paige is among those that have wandered into this end of Diagon Alley. The woman is well bundled for a day outdoors, a blue hat with a ball at the top pulled down over her hair, keeping her head and ears warm. She has on fuzzy gloves to match, her hands currently wrapped around a warm cup of mulled wine. She is leaning against the edge of the skating rink, watching the few skaters that are out there with a smile smile. There are two small boys nearby, whispering to each other, and the bigger one shoving they other. They look like they are probably just a year or two too young to be at Hogwarts. Finally the bigger one gives in and shuffles over towards Paige, the smaller brother close behind. "Excuse me, Miss O'Calahan, can we have your autograph?" he squeaks out, holding out a photo of the new World Cup team. At the voice she turns, offering the two boys a warm smile. "Well, sure." After fishing a self-inking quill out of her bag she asks them both their names, writing a little note on the photo and signing it. She asks them a few questions about quidditch and wishes them well, ruffling the hair of the smaller one before they run off and she turns back to watch the skaters.
Darius has decided to spend this Saturday off – at least during the daytime – taking children to the winter market. He’s tailing two dark-haired kids, a curly-haired girl who looks to be around six and a boy who’s about eight, both of whom are wearing fine wool coats that probably cost more than Darius’. When Dare spots Paige, he waves to get her attention before both kids are suddenly on him, tugging at his coat. He kneels down so that the girl can whisper something to him, and they have a quiet conference between the three of them. Eventually they do approach, and when they’re close enough Dare says, “Hullo Paige. My niece—“ “Nooo!” The girl squeals, burying her face against Dare’s leg as she erupts in giggles. The boy meanwhile rolls his eyes and confidently says, “My sister wants your autograph.”
It doesn't take Paige long to spot Darius when he waves, lifting her free hand to wave back, a smile appearing at her lips. She sets her mulled wine on the edge of the rink, which is quite broad enough for a drink to sit. It seems to have been made for easy observing. She's about to return Darius's greeting when the kids start jumping in and she chuckles softly. "Would she?" she says to the boy with a smile before crouching down so she is more on level with the little girl. "Well, you must be Cordelia, right?" she says after a brief glance at Darius as if to confirm this. "You know what, I think I might have something just for you." She digs into the bag that is hanging over her shoulder, searching for a moment before producing a photo of her on a broom, which is magically (literally) not wrinkled. "I was saving this photo for someone really special. Would you like it? Then I can sign it for you."
Taliesin finished his book before the deadline so after sleeping for several days, showering and giving himself a good shave, he's finally left his flat and rejoined the world of the living. He's dressed in a dark grey wool coat with a vibrant sapphire scarf and matching dark grey pants. His dark hair is an artful mess of curls and he isn't bothering with a hat despite the chill. Unlike Paige, he doesn't get bothered for autographs, since he isn't recognizable as H. R. Smyth. Still he spots the Quidditch star, children and unknown man and slowly walks in that direction. With a smirk he stands uncomfortably close to Paige and watches as she goes to sign the picture. “Even I don't keep my books on me to sign.” He teases.
At the presence behind her Paige glances up, smirking when she sees who it is. "That's because no one knows who you are," she teases before lowering her voice. "Just need to snag another one for my gran now," she whispers so the kids can't hear. "I'm surprised to see you out in fresh air. Is your book done then?" She glances from Tali to Dare with a smile. "And here, let me do some introductions. Tali, this is Darius Nosfertum. And this is Taliesin Kennerick, or H.R. Smyth if he's writing books. Though they're mostly romance adventures, so not sure they've made it to your shelves, Dare," she says with a grin.
Max came here to SKATE. Or at least that's what she tells herself as she eats ice. Oh what a day to not get the charmed ice skates! She's dressed in her warmest long coat with fur-lined hood, resembling an incapacitated lion on the ring. A few people skate by, offering nothing more than concerned looks. "Nah, I'm ok!" she replies to no one in particular. Rolling onto her side, she sits up against the edge opposite the group of familiar faces. "Ah shit…" she mutters, hoping no one saw her wipe out. How long had they all been there?
Someone else who has come here to skate, apparently, is Magnus. The man is wearing a thick sweater, a scarf wrapped around his neck, but seems to be without a coat or gloves. Though he doesn't seem bothered by the cold. He is skating smoothly along the ice, smoking a cigarette as he goes. He's just come to a stop besides Max, spraying a bit of ice as he does. "Need a hand?" he asks with a charming grin. Though he falters a moment later. "McLaren?" he asks, blinking once as he looks over at Max.
Cordelia goes wide-eyed when Paige addresses her and tugs on Darius’ coat again, stage-whispering, “She knows my name!” But she turns back to Paige, managing to squeak out a “Yes, please!” as she stares at the picture, full of a level of excitement only present in children. Darius just watches on with amusement until he has to pay attention to introductions. He offers his hand to Taliesin. “Always nice to meet friends of Paige’s. I’m not sure I’ve read the books, though.” If he has even heard of them, he doesn’t look it.
Max cringes as fine shavings of ice cover her face. She spits a bit out and then wipes her eyes with the back of a gloved hand. "Who the fu…" she looks up at the man. Vague recognition washes over her yet she still can't quite place him. "Yes? Do I know you?"
"Er…sorry," Magnus sorts of coughs as the ice gets a bit wild. "Need a bit of scarf?" he offers. He eyes the woman for a long moment. He seems to be considering turning tail and disappearing, but he stays. "Surely you haven't forgotten me," he tells her looking pained. "Magnus Thripp," he offers up. "I was a few years above you in Gryffindor."
Paige's smile brightens with both delight and amusement at Cordelia's excitement and she finishes by signing the photo, addressing it to her and putting a little note in before handing it over. "Are you going to play Quidditch too?" she asks her. "Just make sure you don't take any tips from your uncle, if you do. I've been trying to get him to come fly with me for years," she adds with a wink to Darius. As the men shake hands she glances back to them. "See, Tali, I told you I had other friends," she jokes.
Realization hits her and very quickly Max is grimacing up at Magnus. She shakes her head at the offering of the scarf. "Thrippy? My, my you've grown." She props herself up onto all fours before stiffly and shakily getting up onto her feet. Once settled, she dusts off the accumulated ice particles and offers him a weak smile. "It's been forever!" Or possibly not long enough. "What have you been up to?"
Magnus groans as she uses the nick-name. "Oh sure, that you remember." He smooths his hands over his chest as she mentions he has grown. "Yes, well. I did do my best." He watches her struggle a moment before reaching a hand out to grab her arm, just to stabilize her rather than really help her up. "I heard you married rat…Pat." Because Magnus had a tendency to call Patrick ratface. He rolls his shoulders in a light shrug. "Working, keeping my head down, you know me, I like to keep my nose clean." This is said with a slightly rueful grin.
Max flashes a playful grin. "Memory is a bitch, isn't it?" She looks him over and nods along before hearing her least favorite name in history. Hmm, to tell the truth or keep her personal business…personal? What the hell. "I did indeed. Then I divorced him. I hate admitting that some 'people' were right…so I won't." Laughing slightly, she grows a little more serious. "We were young. What can I say?"
Magnus was clearly not expecting what Max says and his jaw drops slightly. "Blimey," he says with a shake of his head, those he is back to grinning. "Well some people are bound to always be right. I like to consider myself among those people on a regular basis." He sort of nods after, appraising Max differently. "Well, McLaren, didn't know you had it in you, but good on you. And it seems to suit you. You look good." He takes a drag of his cigarette, which he clearly forgot he had, before putting it out and flicking it somewhere off the ice so it's out of the way.
"I bet you do!" Max laughs at his comment about being right. "And thank you. Not many people take my side, but I appreciate you for it." She gently pushes off the edge of the ring, propelling herself a few inches. Motioning for Magnus to join her, she slowly starts to skate again. "How about you? Any failed marriages to report?"
"Well, it helps that I generally /am/ right," Magnus tells her with a wink. "Don't they? I'd assume everyone would. Perhaps that is a bit harsh of me to say, but…" He just shrugs. He watches her push away for a moment before following. He skates rather close to her, his arm almost hovering as if he's waiting for her to fall. "Failed marriages? Not yet. I had planned to have one by now, but alas, things don't always go as you plan. But still time. I'm thinking one or two down the road." He's clearly joking, a rakish grin at his lips. "I'm working in cursebreaking these days. Living here in London. Not much else to report, ma'am."
"Don't worry," Max starts, wobbling along, "You still have PLENTY of time for that." She throws out her hands to balance herself before just deciding to grab a handful of his coat. Her actions denote a comfort level that only shared history can allow. "Oh shit," her eyes light up, "Cursebreaking? I would have never guessed you'd be a Ministry man. How do you like it? Stressful I imagine?"
Magnus grabs some of her coat in return to even out the exchange and help her balance. "Well, I'm working for Gringotts actually. Ministry seemed too stuffy for my," he tells her with a wink. "It's great though. It's not so much stressful as…hmm, well it gets your adrenaline going sometimes. It can be rather exhilarating. The paperwork bites though. That is stressful. What are you doing these days then?"
"Uncle Darius, you promised that we could go ice skating," Charles says to Darius, his very serious young face evaluating his uncle with none of the enthusiasm his sister has been showing. Cordelia, meanwhile, holds the picture tightly in her hands and jumps up and down. "ThankyouthankyouTHANKyou! I'm going to play quidditch! I'm going to be a Gryffindor like Uncle Darius though." She says this very decisively. "That I did," Darius replies to his nephew, fishing out some coins. "Here you go, and be sure to help your sister with her skates." Charles takes the money and his sisters hands, and the kids scamper off. Darius moves a bit closer to the rink so that he can properly chaperone. "Hey, is that Max?"
“Well I am partial to Hufflepuff, but Gryffindor isn’t a bad way to go.” Paige waves at the kids as they wonder off to go skate before turning to Darius to nod. “Yes. She’s worse than me on skates so don’t let her think you’ve been watching,” she tells him with a grin. “You guys have fun dancing the other night? I hear you’ve got some good moves. I’m definitely going to need to see them at some point.” Her tone is gently teasing.
"Well even worse, you're a banker," Max quips. She laughs to herself, then flails as her own motions throw her off balance. "God I really should have gotten the charmed ones. What was I thinking?" She nods along with Magnus. "Yeah paperwork seems to be an ongoing problem in tons of jobs, I think. As for me…" she chooses her words carefully, "I kind of have to take care of someone all day. So you could say I'm a caretaker full time. At least until my life savings run out."
Taliesin shakes Darius hand and smirks. "A pleasure to meet another friend of Paige's. She like to keep me under a rock, probably because she's afraid I will embarrass her." He smirks before shaking his head. "There is no offense if you have not. My demographic is housewitches. My best book was the one where Gustav was transfigured into a horse. I have no idea why they live that one so much, but to each his own." Once Paige finishes with the autograph he'll reach over and drape and arm over her shoulders. "I'm glad to hear that someone else keeps you entertained while I'm writing."
Magnus groans, covering his face in mock shame. “How you wound me. A banker. You are stripping me of all the dashing excitement that comes with being a curse breaker.” At Max’s flailing he pulls her closer to steady her. “No complaints here,” he tells her with a grin and wink. “A caretaker, huh? For family then if you’re not getting paid? Otherwise I assume you wouldn’t be dependent on your savings. Hopefully it’s nothing serious.” Because he clearly assumes it is an older relative.
“A horse? Gosh. That sounds… fascinating.” Darius, meanwhile, sounds distracted. He’s still watching Max, while simultaneously keeping an eye on the kids. “Is she then? Well I’m definitely letting her know— MAAAX! MAXIEEEE!” Darius waves his hands in the air like a complete idiot, going overboard to get her attention. “MAX OVER HEEEEERE!”
“Oh, I’m not afraid you’ll embarrass me, I know you will,” Paige laughs. “And yes. Well I can’t become a hermit like you.” As Darius starts waving and calling to Max she just shakes her head, looking slightly amused. “Well. I think I might try my feet on the ice. Any takers?” She asks, glancing from Darius to Tali.
Max laughs wholeheartedly at Magnus’ dramatic monologue. “Hey, I’m sure the goblins would resent that!” She motions for him to skate in front of her for a bit so that she can coast in his wake. This whole balancing business is growing tiresome. “Yeah it’s family. Not serious, no, but it’ll probably be a few years until they can take care of themselves.” Upon hearing her name shouted through the entire ring, Max turns around quickly. Too quickly, actually. Her one ounce of balance is thrown off center and she falls straight into her backside. “OH HI DARE,” she shouts back while wincing.
"Well I won't tell them if you won't." Magnus grins before moving in front of her at her gesturing. He skates a stride or two before turning around and skating backwards so he can look at Max as they talk. "A few years huh? Well, hey, I live here in London, so if you need help or…something, you can always let me know. I know it's been ages but, that's part of what being an adult is, right?" He's half-joking and about to say more when Max falls at his feet. He is quick to stop, kind of circling around her as he does. "Friend of yours?" he asks looking amused as he crouches down and offers her his arm or arms depending on what she prefers, so he can help pull her back to her feet.
"That was a weird time in my life, I have no idea where it came from. But hey, it sold." Tali can see that Darius is distracted so he turns and smirks at Paige. "You should try it sometime, it'll do wonders for the world around you." He nods at her suggestion and gestures toward the ice. "Do you promise to rub my bruised bum when I fall? "
Darius winces as he sees Max go down, and turns briefly back to his actual companions. “That looks awful, actually. I think I’ll sit this one out…” He trails off, staring blankly at Tali after the bum comment, but doesn’t say anything himself. “You two go ahead and have fun though.” He turns back to the ice, noting his niblings have gotten themselves sorted out and waving at Max again. “MAX I THINK YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO STAY UPRIGHT!”
Paige rolls her eyes at Tali when he makes his comment. "I will offer my beater's bat," she jokes. She glances to Darius to just a moment, the briefest flicker of a frown crossing her features. "Alright. See you later then." She grabs Tali's arm to drag him off so they can get their skates sorted. "Question of the day – do I follow in Max's footsteps and take the regular skates or no fall ones?" she asks with a grin. "But I suppose it is no fun to just take the magical skates. Which is why I told Max earlier I was going to wait and watch because I wasn't ready to have a sore ass, so you better not let me fall." She gives Tali a very mock-serious look before getting their skates, handing him a pair.
“Thanks Thrippy, I appreciate the offer,” Max replies to his earlier comment about helping out. She accepts his arm and grabs onto him as he pulls her to her feet. “REALLY?” Shouting back at Darius. “I HAD NO IDEA!” Turning back to Magnus, she smirks. “Yeah, let me introduce you. Just like…push me over there please.” Laughing to herself, she’s very aware how pathetic she must seem. “I have a lot of regrets today.”
Magnus helps Max get settled back on her feet before positioning himself behind her and placing one hand on each of her shoulders so he can guide her across the ice. "If you want to grow your regrets list, I saw a flaming shots stand, we can go get stupidly drunk and make a few more," Magnus jokes. "Though if running into me after all these years is on that regrets list, then I am going to have to remedy that. Let's see…it's winter….I could have one of these snowmen serenade you if that'll help." He's grinning even if she can't see. When they reach the side of the rink she has directed him too, he'll make sure she is firmly against the railing before letting go. Though he keeps one hand kind of hovering at the middle of her back, resting just lightly against her coat in a precautionary way.
Max holds out her arms in a flying position, perhaps enjoying the push a little too much. "This is fantastic!" Her brows shoot up in a mix of surprise and amusement when alcohol is mentioned. While the sun is still out, no less. "Flaming shots? That's a hard pass….for now at least. I have to go pick up my daughter after this." This will most likely end that conversation. As they reach the edge, she takes a breath and smiles. "Darius, Magnus. Magnus, Darius."
Magnus laughs at Max’s amusement. “Oh come on. How bad of an idea can it be?” He waggles his eyebrows at her playfully. “Your…daughter?” He blinks at her. “With…Pat?” He seems to be having a slightly difficult idea digesting that thought when he turns to Darius. “Er right. Hey there. Magnus, as she said. Good to meet you.”
“Hi!” Darius greets Magnus cheerily. “Max, I didn’t realize you’d be about today. We could have coordinated the kids.” He waves vaguely towards the dark-haired siblings now on the rink. They look nothing like him, for the record. “Are we having fun?” This is asked to both of them, as he glances between the two.
"Yeah, sorry about that. She's at my mum's today anyway." Max smiles between them. She nods towards Magnus. "Magnus is a friend from a billion years ago. I think we were, what, eleven when we met? Something like that." Her legs wobble once more as her balance is tested. "Yeah, super fun. Just do NOT get the bloody normal skates."
"Lets use the fall kind, it'll be research for my next book. Gustav is going somewhere cold, and everyone knows that a Christmas story needs to have ice skating and falling on eachother. I promise you a nice coffee if I do fall all over you." Taliesin teases as he puts his skates on. "You keep threatening me with beatings and never come through with your threat. You're such a tease."
“Something like that,” Magnus says with a nod about when they met. “Though were we friends? I remember being a bit of a git,” he tells her with a wink. He’s still grinning when he glances to Darius. “Loads of fun. Though I didn’t expect when I hopped on the ice I’d be playing the role of …” He stops mid-sentence though to place both hands more firmly on Max’s back to help keep her standing. “Support pole,” he finishes, looking amused. “You need to stop researching and just have some fun,” Paige tells Tali with an amused shake of her head as she gets her skates on. “Oh don’t worry. I’m keeping track. They’ll all come at once, when you’re least expecting it.” Once her skates are firmly on her feet she shuffles very carefully towards the entrance, grabbing the side before heaving herself onto the ice. She waits there for Tali though, stretching a hand out for him to take once he’s ready.
“I’m going to not get any skates and call it a day. Maybe hot cocoa though. Maybe I’ll just sip hot cocoa and watch,” Darius says to Max and Magnus. “So don’t let me keep you from such obvious fun.” He smirks, clearly thinking he has the better end of the deal by being on solid, firm footing over here. As he talks, his six-year-old niece skates by like a little pro, even hopping a bit between her feet.
"You're right but I was thinking of your pride here. You really want me saying we were enemies?" Max turns to Darius with a sly smile. "He was my nemesis." She playfully punches Magnus' shoulder. "But after all these years I think I forgave him. He's a decent support pole, after all." Pushing a skate onto the lower lip of the ring, she hoists herself up to the railing and sits on the small ledge. "While it's been fun though, I need to get out of here." Untying her skates, she offers Magnus a smile. "You can buy me flaming shots later, don't worry." Once the damn death contraptions are off, Max tosses a leg over the side and jumps down to solid ground. Apparently she was wearing shoes under the skates? "Good seeing you Darebear." She turns towards the ring and scans for…ah! "Paige!! I'll meet up with you later!"
“Well you can’t go wrong with cocoa, mate,” Magnus says to Darius with a grin. “Well nemesis seems a bit extreme,” he replies smirking, pretending it hurts when she punches his shoulder. “I am humbled by your forgiveness.” He chuckles a bit, watching her as she gets herself out of the ring. “Oh, you can count on it. Sounds like we have some catching up to do, McLaren.” He waves as she departs, glancing back at Darius and giving the other man a nod. “Nice to meet you.” And then he turns to skate off himself. At Max’s call Paige does glance up for a moment to wave at her. “Alright! See you in a bit!” she calls back briefly, keeping her focus mostly on her task at hand.
"I have plenty of fun, who says research isn't fun?" Tali smirks as he gets his skates on and shuffles over to the ice and reaches for Paiges hand. He stumbles around a bit and almost looks like he's going to fall so he clings to Paige. "My Hero!" He says in a dreamy voice before he rights himself and pushes off, showing that he obviously knows how to skate.
When Tali skates off Paige boos him. "Liar!" she calls, laughing at him. She is still holding the railing of the rink though she pushes herself off after a moment. She isn't the worst skater, but she certainly isn't good, and is a bit wobby at first. She skates her way to Tali at least, grabbing onto him and clinging to his arm. "This was a terrible idea." She is still laughing though, trying to do her best to skate along beside him, though she doesn't seem to have any plans of letting go of his arm.
"One, it was your idea and two, you're the athlete and I'm the shut in, how do you not know how to skate?" Taliesin says with a smirk but he supports Paige's weight as he slowly guides them around the rink. "So, is this Darius an actual old friend or one of the many exes you keep failing to tell me about?"
"Brooms and skates are very different beasts," Paige tells Tali, sticking her tongue out at him at his teasing. She becomes more stable as they skate on, managing at least a basic level of skating without looking like she is about to nosedive into the ice. "Many exes?" she scoffs, ignoring the question. "Come on, if we make it over there we can get some more mulled wine," she tells him, tugging at his arm to change their direction slightly to skate towards the hut that presses up against the side of the ring.
With Max headed off, Darius leans against the rail of the skate rink, chaperoning the kids for a bit. He appears content enough in being alone for the moment.
"They both require balance!" Taliesin replies as he keeps them steady, and when she once again avoid the topic, he scoffs at her. "Again you deflect, you wound me again Paigey. I suppose I should stop telling you secrets as well." He has to laugh as she suggests more mulled wine and drags/skates her over to the place. "Yes, because that'll help you steady yourself on your feet."
“Yes but not on these tiny little ice blades of death.” Paige gestures to her feet as she says this, this the hand not gripping her friend. She does turn to smile at him sweetly though that turns into a slight pout. “But then who will you tell? And I just don’t want to talk about it now.” Once they are stopped by the hut she gives him a squeeze in a side hug. “This is why I have you. I can have my wine, you make sure I don’t fall. Ooor we just stop skating here and just drink some mulled wine.”