A Magical Roleplaying Experience 

:heart: # 1
 #30404  by Nola Fitzralph
 
Dobby has come to protect Harry Potter, to warn him...

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Location: Outside a Residential Flat, Knockturn Alley • Date: Saturday, 30 August 2003

It was a derelict, tumbledown hulk that looked to have been built in the Tudor-era and which survived by simple virtue of that Knockturn Alley was never at shortage of empty-pocketed castaways with little want from life beyond a roof over their heads. Nola wondered if it leaked when London rained. Though, it had not rained very much recently. Even the bleakest of Londoners had came out in droves to bask in the hottest August that graced Europe in years. She had only been here just under half an hour and already the young woman lost count of how many times she raised her hand to swipe away a thin sheen of perspiration from her forehead.

She was beginning to lose count, too, of how many times the graffitied and visibly abused front door swung open to reveal a stranger. Was this the eighth? The ninth? An eclectic assortment of characters shuffling in and out. Men, women, a bald goblin with only half of his right ear, an espresso-skinned girl who couldn't be older than Nola's half-brother but wore a weary expression of one who'd seen too much that they'd rather forget. No morose half-Asian wizard, with blue veins blossoming underneath pale skin and a tattooed neck and listless abyss in his eyes, but if she needed some reassurance that this was where he lived, Nola need only point to the varying degrees of scowls that everyone wore whether entering or departing the building. Birds of the same feather flocked together.

Still, she didn't need clues the way pigeons scrabbled for scraps of breadcrumbs. She knew who she saw, even if it was only the back of a raven-haired head disappearing behind a door and swallowed by the jaws of a dim-lit passageway behind a cobwebbed windowpane. He lived here. She knew it. Call it sixth sense, as her father would say. A fool's name for wishful thinking, Lisbeth Falstolfe-formerly-Fitzralph would correct dismissively. Nola didn't care. So long as he eventually turned up, so long as she was eventually correct, it didn't matter what name anyone gave this madness of crouching listlessly against the brick wall of some unnamed flat for the third day in a row waiting for someone who may not even be in the country.

May not even be alive, though she stampeded down the thought as her bored fingers ravaged a strand of weed that had been determinedly sprouting its way between two grooved bricks. She would have heard something on the vine if he had went and got himself killed.

It might still be a good joke to begin with: I thought at least half your face would have rotten through by now, just like your soul.

Except that when the scuffed and worn tips of a pair of shoes intruded in her vision a mere inch away from her own feet, prompting the caterpillar that had been crawling across the toe of her espadrilles to hasten its escape, Nola found herself blanking on the joke. Mouth dry and wordless, breath captured in her chest whilst her head froze somehow at its lowered, bowed angle. A droplet careened off her face to blossom in a darkened blot on the brown leather.
Last edited by Nola Fitzralph on 06 Feb 2020, 00:38, edited 3 times in total.
 #30659  by Sen Watanabe
 
Paper-thin walls and mould-infested tiles did not discourage him. Stale odours and flickering yellowed bulbs for lights hardly fazed him. The rent was cheap, the location was convenient. It was excruciatingly cold in the winter but there wasn't a warming spell in a wizards lexicon that did not counter the icy tides. Natural light was sparse in the overcast apartment but Sen was a creature of habit and for the longest time he had been accustomed to late nights and murky days. The interior was scantily decorated: at threadbare couch in an unappetising mustard shade, stacks of books for a coffee table, a blanched Persian rug. The contents of the place was dismal if not alarming: empty whiskey bottles, ash-trays full to the brim, soiled coffee mugs, poorly-kept books and journals of assorted genres. In one corner of the cramped living space was an expensive-looking record player perched on a black iron-wrought cabinet which was home to a collection of muggle Jazz vinyls. The most decorated part of Sen's place was a dark mahogany bookcase that was a miniature library in itself. By the window lay an elderly single-bed mattress and a well-used study table. Sen's home was in its purest form a bachelors pad- some place for the lonely to retire day in and day out. It was an ill-fitted and depressing home, but it was still home.

The young accountant stood facing the open fridge, frowning. His hair was dishevelled and chin shadowy and unshaven. The light of the refrigerator shone aggressively back at the man. He studied its contents sullenly. The egg tray was empty as was the vegetable drawer (not that Sen ever ate that many vegetables) and the fridge door held nothing that could be considered nutritionally substantial; a bottle of chilli, some brown sauce, a suspicious jar of mayonnaise. Nothing appetising to a very hungry and very hungover Sen Watanabe.

The door of the refrigerator slammed with a deafening thud as he moved to the miniscule pantry. No bread, no crackers, no spaghetti, no cans of tuna, no jars of tomato pasta sauce. He tried to remember the last time he had gone grocery shopping. A few weeks ago? Or had it been months? Who knew, it wasn't important now. All Sen knew was that he needed to get something to eat and quickly.

Shrugging on his navy peacoat jacket and lurching his feet into a weary pear of brown Oxford shoes, Sen left his apartment lightheaded. He slouched down the corridor in a daze, unlit cigarette in hand. The main entrance looked as it always did from the inside. What he wasn't expecting was the person on the outside.

As soon as Sen nudged open the main door he noticed her immediately. It was the strawberry-blonde hair and the perfume she always wore. It was the bangs of her haircut that framed her face with a loving carelessness that he could remember since but forever ago. How long had it been? Sen found that this too was something he could not remember. The days and nights were always woven together for him. He saw but the blur of the universe pass by and often felt nothing.

"What are you doing here?" Was the first thing he could think of saying. His throat was dry, but it was probably the alcohol from the night before, and the hangover.
 #35491  by Nola Fitzralph
 
He did not sound exactly surprised.

He did not sound exactly not surprised either.

Maybe that meant something. Or maybe, more likely, Nola was just reading into it in a feeble attempt to grasp at some semblance of familiarity in someone she hadn't heard from in over four years. At least she would have still recognised that voice anywhere—there was that much.

"Oh no, watch out for that loose brick," Nola pointed upward at the archway overhead. In the split second it took for him to process her imaginary warning, she promptly and deftly ducked underneath his arm which still propped open the door.

"Oh lovely," his self-invited guest fanned herself as she busily surveyed the equally decrepit entrance foyer with its rusted mailboxes lining one peeling, stained wall and stairs which looked like one would be safer scaling the exterior wall to their apartment window. The air inside the building was thick, musky, and barely much cooler than the outdoors, but it was still a reprieve to be out of the immediate glare of the sun.

"So nice of you to invite me in. I was melting out there. I hope you're hungry? I brought beignets. Which floor are we?"
 #35493  by Sen Watanabe
 
Over the years Sen found that much of what Nola said and did caused him to instinctively pinch the bridge of his nose and furrow his brow in weary exasperation. Today was no exception as he stood there dumbstruck and not even bothering to look above his head. Typical Nola. how was it that this wisp of a woman could inflict this perennial headache time after time, day after day, four-year absence after four-year absence...

The absence bit was his fault though- he'd wholeheartedly admit that part.

Besides, he didn't even know what a beignet was! Sen could feel the ghost of his French mother chastise his ignorance for his own culture, but the last thing on Sen's mind was just how un-French he had become.

"We are not any floor!" the dark-haired wizard stormily announced as he strode after the woman. He refrained from grabbing her shoulders and shaking her head back on her head. He didn't know why he was so irritated. It was he who had cut their friendship off in a lily-livered most likely alcohol-induced delirium.

And it had been four years since.

And he had kept his distance. So why couldn't she?

"I said what are you doing here, and how do you know where I live."
 #35494  by Nola Fitzralph
 
She could hear the ire in his voice as it and his footsteps followed behind her. She did not remember him being this angry with her since the her sixteenth summer in which she'd suggested that she might drop out of school. In fact, she didn't remember him being angry with her very much. Irritated—too many times to count—but never quite angry.

Only that one time, in the dusky, dim-lit hallway outside their respective fathers' apartments, they had screamed their throats raw at one another, stamped their feet and flung their arms around. In the end, he still wiped her tears away, as he did so many times in her own brother's absence.

They both knew he couldn't stand to see her cry—until he did.

She wouldn't cry now anyway.

And he would not walk away from her again.

"Oh, you know, visiting an old friend." Him. He was the old friend. "And just happened to see you walking past, such luck! It's fate. We're written in the stars." Nola pivoted abruptly on the first step of the stairs without so much of a warning and leaned forward, pressing a kiss to his smooth, gaunt cheek. She might have held it a moment longer, longed to hold it a moment longer, but the witch forced herself to pull back to smile sweetly from underneath her golden lashes at her oldest friend.

"I've missed you. Did you miss me?"
Last edited by Nola Fitzralph on 04 Feb 2020, 07:50, edited 1 time in total.
 #35495  by Sen Watanabe
 
His words- blunt steel daggers blindly hurled into the thin air. His vexation- sour as milk and incredibly ineffective. And his hostility- bitter in the mouth with an aggressive aftertaste he could only pin under guilt, nothing caused his opponent any damage. Was she his opponent? Well he certainly did not want her here, did he?

He wanted to grab his wand and set fire to his cheek, to burn the sweetness she offered him in the form of a kiss. Cherries, his mind associated automatically, and it made him feel ill. She shouldn't have come here, this wasn't the sort of reunion he had in mind. He didn't really have any reunion in mind, but it was definitely not this: her showing up on his doorstop four years later as if nothing had happened. Maybe nothing really had happened, and it was all an uncomfortable dream.

The peeling paint of the apartment corridor said otherwise, and the fact that he felt ashamed. When had he ever feel ashamed in front of Nola? Was it the stubble? The unironed condition of his shirt? It was definitely his living conditions, the attitude he couldn't help but offer, and the reek of stale booze permanently speared on his teeth.

A skeletal hand wrapped itself around the woman's wrist. His grip was stronger than he had intended. "I will ask you one more time, Nola." The pounding remnants of his hangover rammed against his skull. "What are you doing here?"
 #35496  by Nola Fitzralph
 
Her smile faltered. He was being difficult. It was not easy to keep nonchalant in the first place. He was not the only angry one in the room. He was not the one who had been walked out on without a word. He was not the one who had to invent his own answers to questions littered like leaves on pavement after a storm. She had much practice in being left behind, and his was probably not even the one that hurt the most in relative to all the rest, but his had cut deep to the bone enough that the wound still festered four years on.

Even him. He had not even looked back over his shoulder when he did it.

Had she made it easy?

Did her smile make it easy now?

Her wrist throbbed in his iron-clad grip. She could feel her slender bones grinding against one another. The sixteen-year-old Nola would already be crying. Her tears were worth little to her then. This Nola tried not to wince. "You're not listening, Sunny. Listen to me," she answered.

"I've missed you," word by word by word, Nola said again.

Five feet five and a stair step before his six feet two that towered above her, yet she stared him down, daring him to chase her away or worse, to turn his back again on her plain answer.
 #35497  by Sen Watanabe
 
A laugh escaped him, dull as tin. Sunny. What a fucking joke.

A spitefulness bubbled from deep within. He could now remember why he had walked away in the first place: to prove to himself that no one was forever, not even sweet Nola who had grown up with him, separated only by a thin wall and his own self-isolation. Even Nola, who he had known since he washed up on the shores of London with his recently divorced father- speaking an esoteric discourse of mangled French-Japanese and crying for his mother.

"And I guess you want me to say I miss you right back, huh?" came his response before he could think his words over. Well, that was harsh. But he had already said it. It wasn't like he couldn't push her further away. He could, and maybe he always would.

"Huh? Cherrybomb? Want me to say I miss you and then we'll go to mine and eat some fucking beignets?" His voice was climbing. He didn't know where this anger came from. Sen hadn't felt angry in a long time. Just alone. But seeing Nola again had ignited something, had made his insipid heart burst to flame.

He knew why he was angry. He had pushed her away in his own self-righteousness, prove to himself that eventually everyone always left him. Well, she was doing a good job of ruining that. And she was four years late.
 #35500  by Nola Fitzralph
 
His vitriol made her flinch in spite of herself. Nola was not built to withstand fury, and if she were, she would not have been built to withstand Sen Watanabe's.

Not the way he used her words against her.

Not the way he spat out the nickname he had given her that she would never allow anyone else but him to use.

"You know what, I wouldn't bloody mind that," her own voice was tremulous, even if she fought to stifle it from matching his in volume. "So here's the answer if you're asking—it's yes. My turn." She flipped her own hand which wrist remained trapped in his grasp, curling her own lithe fingers around his wrist so she could wrench him closer to her, forcing him to face her in the eye.

"And when you tell me that you don't, like the fucking liar and coward that you are, do you really want me to believe you?"
 #35501  by Sen Watanabe
 
Her retaliation was swift and unexpected and hit him quite literally like a tonne of bricks. This was where he faltered. This was where his spinelessness would now show. He couldn't meet her in the eye.

"You've finally grown a backbone," Sen croaked out, although just barely. It was best if he ignored her original question, although it nagged at his consciousness with a terrible guilt. His brief fury had left him exhausted but venom remained deeply rooted in his nervous system.

"Good for you, cherry."
 #35504  by Nola Fitzralph
 
His answer sank to the bottom of her stomach as if she'd swallowed a hard pit from a rotten cherry. If she had, would she have crouched on the curb by his doorstep like a lost kitten hunting for its master, waiting for him as long as she had? If she had, would she instead have never looked back at that familiar tuft of hair bobbing between a briefly ajar door as she slipped between the crowds?

Maybe she did, even if imperfectly. Four years was long enough to change a person.

But her answer had not changed. It was Nola's answer as much as it would have been his Nol-ee's answer. She didn't want him to think that she was any less whoever she was to him before. The thought terrified her, as if that somehow it would make the chasm that already gaped open between them too wide to ever bridge.

"A wishbone didn't give me anything I wanted in the end."

Her gaze dropped down to their hands entwined by the wrists, less tender hold and rather more twisted root. She should let him go now, she supposed.

"You can keep avoiding answering the question, but are you going to keep avoiding the beignets?"
 #35510  by Sen Watanabe
 
Looking down at the tango of wrists and limbs, a sardonic part of him wondered if maybe it was time he actually asked what a damned beignet was. Refraining from doing so was difficult, but Sen knew that their wounds were still fresh.

Now he looked at her, really looked at her. She hadn't aged physically, but he could discern four years of unknown adventures and heartbreak he had been absent from. That hurt and it was his fault to begin with.

Without the decency of warning Nola, he apparated them to his living room.

Eventually he released her wrist and busied himself with picking up the various shirts and occasional crumped parchment decorating the unkept wooden floor. He was disconcertingly aware of the three full ashtrays lying around: one on the floor by his mattress, another at his desk and the other one in the grimy kitchen. He was also aware that currently there were more empty bottles of alcohol than there were pieces of furniture. He didn't even have a couch. "If you're wanting tea, I don't have any."
 #35513  by Nola Fitzralph
 
Four years changed many things, but had not made Nola any more fonder of apparation than she was before Sen Watanabe walked out of her life. The sensation of being unexpectedly apparated felt all at once like having the air squeezed out of her lungs and her person being crammed into a miniature mason jar.

What that might have been a yelp ripped from her throat was instead compressed into a startled squeak. By the time she recalled that etiquette was not his strongest suit—was not even a suit, in all honesty—his unexpected guest was standing in the middle of a frowsty, tenebrous room. Dust floated in the wash of wan light filtering in through murky windowpanes. In the air hung a thick, heady perfume of stale ash, liquor, and musty clothes that probably had not seen a water bucket in days, maybe weeks.

For one hazy moment, it was as if she was back in the home she remembered Sen had grown up in with his father.

His voice rushed her back into his own apartment. Jilted back into reality, Nola scurried toward the front door and pulled it open. The brass numbers were crooked but unmistakably '24'. Nola closed the door before plodding back into Sen's home. Her gaze that met his was slightly sheepish but unapologetic for the clear intention behind what she just did. Plopping down on the edge of his bed just as he voiced the statement about the tea, Nola slung her straw basket backpack off her shoulders and reached into it to produce two vibrant red cans.

"I brought Cola," she countered, not without the faintest shadow of what might have been a mischievous smile which Sen was once so familiar with.
 #35515  by Sen Watanabe
 
All Sen had to do was stand there and watch as she flitted around his apartment, first to look at his door (like the little stalker she was, he found himself thinking affectionately) and then to sit on the queen-sized mattress which was jostled into one corner of the room. Well it was clear that she wasn't going to leave, no matter how much he pushed her out the door with his burnt-end words. He picked up his wand and languidly accioed a half-finished bottle of dark rum and two coffee-stained mugs.

It would probably be less awkward if Sen had sat down but he couldn't bring himself to sit beside her. Everything felt scattered and wrong. He felt moroseness in the form of grand misunderstanding.

The coffee mugs floated in the air nonchalantly as Sen directed the rum and cola with a heedless flick of his wand. Once the mugs were full they draftily wandered over to their designated owners. He was pretty sure he wasn't even going to be drinking the cola with the ratio he had poured them. Hopefully Nola's tolerance had maintained itself over the years.

Sen lowered himself into his study chair. His joints groaned like an old man. He definitely felt like one, especially with this rotten headache. The wizard reached for a pouch of rolling tobacco and a matchbox. "Do you want a smoke?"
 #35570  by Nola Fitzralph
 
She could smell the rum before the mugs even left his wingspan. Sen was fortunate that Nola was no longer on her best behaviour, as she had been for quite a while, in fact. For a stretch of time when everything appeared to be finally getting on track.

It didn't last, as good things never seemed to for Nola—a respectable career, relationships, sobriety.

She wondered if he read about her in the news. Not just the awful crash that abruptly cut short what had been rapidly rising stardom in the professional broom racing leagues, or the ensuing brusque spells of alcohol and drug fuelled antics before her mother wrestled her into shape (or so Lisbeth thought she did); but he parts before those—the victories, the records broken, the endless interviews and photoshoots and product endorsements.

Was it better or worse that he knew or didn't know?

Did Nola want Sen to know?

The forced-to-retire racer hesitated at his offer. I've quit, the words were poised on the tip of her tongue, ever ready to slip out. Maybe she did want him to know after all. It was not as if Sen would give a fig as to whether Nola was a reformed witch or that she had been before she'd relapsed back to her old ways, but maybe his approval still did matter to her; maybe it never stopped mattering to her.

"Yeah, sure. Would you light it for me?"

She offered a sheepish half-smile that did not quite meet his eyes. If there was something that had not changed in these four years, it was that she still could scarcely cast a proper spell.