[February 2003]

The sun was finally shining, after a week of dreary ice cold rain it was a much welcome surprise. And so, on waking up that Saturday morning, Alexis decided to make the most of it and to head out into the world from her little cocoon of a cottage in Hogsmeade. Except that she didn't stay in the village, she headed south. Briefly she stopped by Hawkstoop to drop something in for Jeeves. She had made him a little something, he didn't celebrate his birthday but Alexis and Regulus liked to mark the occasion with little thoughtful gifts. She would pop back later with a cake.

For now though she headed off towards Diagon Alley, while it was sunny it was still cold. So with her best purple long cloak, over a bodiced dress, laced up boots topped off with smoked glasses she stepped into the busy shopping thoroughfare and smiled.

She had some errands to run, and the first one was a simple one which was to sort out the delivery of owl nuts and a little feather grooming kit for Lavender. So she headed towards Eeylops Owl Emporium & Magical Menagerie on the North side of the alley.

A brief glance to the various creatures outside and in the window, and headed into the depths of the store...
Determined to design a new harness for the thestrals, Jude was in desperate need of inspiration. Haunted by the piles of crumpled paper that littered the floor of his flat, he had grabbed his cloak and had gone for a walk.

Hands in his pockets, he had wandered along the streets of the busy Alley until the Magical Menagerie had caught his eye. Perhaps inspiration could be drawn from the many creatures awaiting for a kind soul who would be willing to give them a home.

Without much creativity he started by looking at the various kinds of harnesses the store offered. Holding one in his hands to feel the strong leather, he noticed a woman walking in. Something about the bodice couture seemed to catch his interest. Desperate to understand what exactly would become of the spark of an idea that was forming in his mind, his eyes followed the woman.
After a few steps into the shop, Alexis paused to remove her sunglasses just in time to avoid walking into the counter. It was dark in the shop but not in a way that it was difficult to navigate or work out what was for sale, but enough that anyone wearing dark glasses looked like an idiot. She took a sidestep and carried on further into the store. She smiled briefly to one of the employees but shook her head slightly when they asked if she needed assistance. For the moment she wanted a look round, there was no rush to get everything done.

Alexis walked past a man starring intently at harnesses for evidently large creatures and moved on, eyes flicking about at the various pet accessories, gilded cages, coloured food bowls, snacks, until she found herself looking at the rows upon rows of cages and tanks, of all shapes and sizes. She couldn't help but take a look.
Jude hesitated. While an idea was forming and making him feel ecstatic, he knew that approaching the woman in this state might just make him come off as creepy. Too bad, he had been so desperate for an idea, he couldn't simply ignore it.

Leaving the harness behind he approached her. "I'm sorry," he apologized after clearing his throat. "I am a Thestral Handler for the Snowdonia Wildlife Reserve. I am trying to design a new harness for Hogwarts' thestrals and I think your dress just gave me an idea. Would you mind if-" suddenly noticing the strange little creature in the cage in front of him, his eyes widened "what is that?" He pointed at little thing that seemed to be doing cartwheels.
It took a moment to realise that the 'sorry' was being directed at her and not to anyone else in the shop. Her eyes were fixed for the moment on one of the occupants of the cage in front of her. Eyes flicking from the little creature to the person who had approached, "I'm not sure why you need to apologise for your job?" she started to say as he carried on, her gaze fixed a little more on the man, whom she now realised she had just passed on entering the shop.

"Uh" was all she managed at his broken off query, as she tried to take in what he had said about designing new harnesses and her dress, she wasn't sure how they connected and then he was pointing to the cage. She looked back, and the smile returned, "it's a little fancy mouse."
"It's more talented than a Bucket Bros. Carnival's acrobats! " He exclaimed with a grin as the mouse seemed to be doing the splits. Taking a step closer he chuckled as he watched the marvellous little critter. "I never thought of them as animals who could learn tricks." Enthralled by the animal's movements he had completely forgotten about his harness.
Alexis reached a hand out and tapped gently on the side of the tank, and waggled her fingers at the tiny little mouse. She glanced over to the man who had now joined her, "indeed, and far more fun. But I believe you have been thoroughly educated. Never underestimate the tiny creatures, they may not be as unusual as a Thestral, but they can surprise."

She moved further along the display shelves, to see what else is on offer not that she was here to buy a pet, but it didn't help to look.
Last edited by Alexis Nightshade on 26 Feb 2019, 14:13, edited 1 time in total.
Humbled, he nodded in agreement, but at the mention of thestrals he remembered why he had approached her. "As I was saying, before I got schooled by a mouse, I am designing a new harness for Hogwarts' thestrals and I noticed that you were wearing a bodice dress." He followed her without paying attention to the animals around them. "Would you say that it restricts your movements?" He placed his hand on his chin as if to contemplate his own question.
Ah yes, he had started to ask her a question but then as suddenly as he spoke he became distracted by the cartwheeling mouse. Which was fair enough. Her eyes had just fallen on the contents of the tank before her, something very fluffy was contained within. She was intrigued, but felt the need to look to the man.

"Uh...well it only looks like it's like a proper bodice but really it's just charmed fabric, holds you in but doesn't make you want to pass out. So no not restrictive." She watched him as he looked deep in thought, "does that answer your question?"

It did feel like a really weird line of enquiry.
At the reserve the thestrals were usually free which in his opinion was ideal, but Hogwart's thestrals had the important task of pulling carriages which meant that at least twice a year they had to be bound to the vehicles. In his opinion they school's harnesses were obsolete and needed an update.

Rubbing his chin, he considered her answer. "That would work," he mused as he rubbed his chin. He would mention it to Hagrid, but otherwise he was fairly certain he had found the idea he had been waiting for. "It does answer it, thank you. Again, sorry for interrupting your perusing." He chuckled. "I'm Jude, by the way." He added, not quite sure if introducing himself would make the situation less strange or add a layer of absurdity to it.
Alexis watched as he seemed rather caught up in his thoughts, she couldn't help but smile, "it's okay, it's not the weirdest thing I've been asked, well okay probably in the top three."

As he offered his name, she held out her hand, "Alexis Nightshade, soon to be new Charms Professor at Hogwarts."
"Always aim for the podium," he patted himself on the shoulder as he chuckled. Glad she had helped him despite his strange question, he could only accept the teasing with a smile.

"Oh wow," he took her hand and gave it a firm shake, "we might meet again then." While unlikely it was a possibility. "And what brought you to the store today?" He inquired hoping he might be able to return the favour and assist her as she had helped him.
"Well if there is one, might as well?" She smiled, and then felt it was perhaps best to move away from that before it got even weirder.

After a quick shake of their hands, she dropped her hand back to her side, "Oh, well I mainly popped into get some treats for my owl, Lavender but I must admit I can't always not stop by to look at what other animals are here."

Alexis looked back over to the tanks and the one she was just looking into and whatever was in there had made appearance, at least she thought it had. There was the faintest wisp of fur, and it was tunnelling under the woodshavings. Then after a moment two little ears appeared and two little black eyes.

"Oh, hello.."
Jude knew exactly what she meant. While he had been there seeking inspiration for his harness, he had been distracted by the various animals on more than one occasion.

Looking in the same direction she was, he noticed the small beady eyes looking towards them. Afraid that he might scare the little creature Jude remained silent as he watched the blonde getting closer to the tank.
Soon after a little fluffy little head appeared out of the saw dust, and promptly the little creature yawned, flashing large curved front set of teeth. Alexis beamed, it was a hamster.

"Oh look at you..." and soon after she found herself yawning, she put a hand up to her mouth to cover most of her yawn, and then giggled.

The hamster wiggled its way out of the saw dust and peered up at Alexis, now she could see it in more detail, the hamster looked like a little fluffy cloud. Not entirely a long haired hamster but close to it. It was almost ginger in colour but within a blink it was turning a soft purple. Her eyes widened in delight.