A Magical Roleplaying Experience 

 #19042  by Everevna
Location: A cafe in Boston, Massachusetts • Date: November 1993

The round trip from Medford to Boston was eight and half dollars, thanks to a student discount with the national public portkey service. Another three dollars for portkey sickness medication, just in case, because she was by now six months humbler to risk travelling without. The trip in had fortunately not made her ill, but Zi Shang knew better than to speak so soon. She may yet need the pill that she had hastily purchased that morning from the nearest Magic Neep to the residence hall.

Oh, before she forgot, two dollars and three quarters for the bottled iced tea she unsuccessfully resisted whilst waiting for the portkey.

The foreign witch had heard before her move all about how different these parts were in comparison to the rest of the world. Many of her former colleagues at Beauxbâtons had at least something they absolutely knew was true, either about the country itself or the people in it. Most of these 'it is known's' were misguided, as it turned out, but some had been valuable insights during her first days in the States.

Nobody had told her that the unsweetened iced tea here tasted just like from home, or that chow mein would be the most frequent item to show up on the rotating menu in the mess hall. In a way, she was closer to her abandoned home than she had ever been since leaving.

The first of the YongDing Hakka settlement to attend university, and on a full scholarship from the Wizarding Expedition Society itself. If she dared, she might wonder if her father may be proud.

She didn't.

But she could probably afford a coffee today. She would need to be alert to meet this potential client who had owled her after coming across the advertisement she'd posted in the local magical newspaper. Zi Shang peeled her gaze from the overhead menu, her mouth bowing in an apologetic smile at the increasingly impatient barista waiting expectantly for her order.

"A hot latte, thank you." Maybe she would spoil herself, just a little. How many times did she take the time to come into Boston?

"With hazelnut syrup, please."

The young woman carefully navigated between the tables with her satchel and the steaming cup on a pristine, ceramic saucer. She shrugged out of her coat and draped it over the back of the chair, briefly checking her reflection in the window to make sure that the powder blue ribbon that would identify her to the person she was meeting still sat neatly intact against her ebony tresses. She pulled out a book she'd borrowed from the institute library for the wait.
Last edited by Everevna on 11 Oct 2018, 23:12, edited 1 time in total.
 #19061  by Kael
Francis wasn't typically one that was too focused on details. His mind was a one-way street, flowing like a river with too much forward momentum to cast more than a glance back upstream. Especially when he was excited, and there was a lot to be excited about. He was on the verge of something big, he knew.

Caffeine was sometimes known for enhancing focus, but in the midst of the cafe and mingling with the lad's already aroused mind, it only scattered his direction even further.

"I'll do one more," he nodded, and then took his small cup from the counter, leaving behind the saucer upon which it sat and declining to find a seat. He was too jittery, and standing gave him a better vantage point.

Francis was on the edge of checking his watch again when he noticed the blue ribbon. Come to think of it he had noticed it earlier, but the connection wasn't clear. For it was nestled in the hair of a woman far too young and far too pretty to be the elderly witch he was expecting. Possessing the ability to row back against the current and reconsider just who he may or may not be meeting would have been valuable then. He had already wasted a cup of coffee's worth of both their time, neglecting to acknowledge the young witch's identity.

"Are you..?"

He stepped forward and craned his neck, staring silently for just a little too long while continuing with regular sips from his tasty hot beverage.
 #19215  by Everevna
If the object of Francis' staring was offended, she seemed to show no sign of it.

In fact, she did not seem to show any sign of having heard him speak at all, or at least not to her. The student's mind was elsewhere faraway from the cafe, wading ears-deep in a sea of Gobbledegook interrogatives and negatives and complement clauses, even as she idly and unrealisingly brushed back-and-forth against her jaw the feather-end of a quill she used to underline something that particularly peaked her interest.

Without lifting her face from the book, the young woman sat up a little straighter and set aside the quill, hand reaching instead for her cup of coffee.

A burst of scalding heat quickly had it retreating, the hiss through her teeth rounding into a low gasp as Zi Shang's gaze finally peeled up to a splash of coffee spilling over the rim as the cup tilted dangerously on the saucer.
 #19238  by Kael
Francis was already fetching up some napkins off of Zi Shang's table. His silent staring hadn't been totally thoughtless and he'd basically seen the spill coming a mile away. Nonetheless, his reflexes were well trained and he knew that if he'd dived for the save then he would have ended up burned.

He dabbed away at the liquid on the table, and repositioned the witch's coffee cup as if to ensure its solidarity.

"There we go." Francis balled up the napkins he used and shot them over to the nearest trash can. "Like it never happened," he smiled. "Maybe I should be pursuing quidditch!"
 #19255  by Everevna
Zi Shang had discarded her book aside in haste, no doubt to her own future chagrin that she did not remember the page number nor inserted a bookmark to remind herself of it.

Three dollars and a quarter.

"Heavens, I am so sorry–"

The man, though, had already cleaned up her mess before she could even locate the napkins. It was almost as if he had anticipated the spill. If she had paused to think it through more carefully, the young woman might have realised he probably did.

Instead she looked toward him, somewhat abashed, visibly grateful, and with a hint of mildly bemused curiosity.

"Would you?"
 #19532  by Kael
"Hmm? Not quite my specialty. I like to race."

Francis winked and stepped closer, his eyes gesturing to his awareness of the ribbon in Zi Shang's hair.

"I'm Francis. I saw your ad? You're, uhh..." He wasn't going to attempt pronouncing her name for he knew he would butcher it, and suddenly, Francis was keen on making a decent impression.
 #19959  by Everevna
Zi Shang's hand went nearly reflexively to the accessory on her head as her gaze registered his line of sight.

Francis. The letter in her satchel. "Oh," Realisation dawned upon the self-employed freelancer, whose fair cheeks had flushed with a pale bloom from embarrassment. At being caught in her clumsiness by a client, at the unprofessionalism of it, at being caught off guard by someone she had not known quite what to expect from based on the few handwritten sentences she had of them.

She supposed, amidst the incident and the timing, it somehow made sense that it was him. It felt appropriate that it was him.

Already she moved to rise, extending him a grateful hand in a belated and slightly shy greeting. "Thank you. I did not realise– and certainly I hoped to meet in less messy circumstances." The young woman gave a softly tentative laugh, though she then assumed a politer, more formal demeanour.

"I am the one who put up the advert. My name is Zi Shang."
 #20537  by Kael
"Oh that's alright, you should see my apartment!" Francis laughed and then scratched his head. He was comfortable with his ways but couldn't help wondering why he would so readily self-deprecate. "Er.. anyways."

Francis took Zi Shang's hand and nodded with a smile as they made their introductions. There certainly was a knack to the pronunciation of the young lady's name, meaning Francis was already on his second save of the evening by deciding not to guess at it.

"Nice to meet you, ehh, please! Let's sit down," he went on, gesturing for Zi Shang to sit down and then joining across from her. "Straight to business then? Or should you have another go with the coffee?"

Francis smirked behind his own drink as he teased.
 #24710  by Everevna
"No," the petite woman flushed even pinker, if it was even humanly possible, and shook both her head and a hand in haste.

"Apparently it is not in my fengshui today."

Not that she was one much for superstition, but it was a simpler and less embarrassing explanation than I cannot afford a second coffee.

She smoothed her skirt underneath her as she sat back down. Zi Shang reached into her satchel and produced a notepad and a self-inking quill, which she poised in her lap as she offered the male a courteous smile.

"How are you today?"
 #24732  by Kael
"Oh. I'm great."

Francis arched a brow playfully and nodded. He looked very comfortable and was clearly riding the first waves of a buzz.. something to do with the coffee plus finally having such a pleasant focal point. He had a certain brand of boyish charm, even under the scruffy look he wore.

"How are you doing, Zi.. Zi Shhh--?"

He struggled, but his face showed of mighty concern.
 #24733  by Everevna
His expression amused her, but she tried to restrain her smile so she would not disparage him.

"Sh-ah-ng," she emphasised patiently, "Or you can call me Euphémie."

The Chinese witch offered a gentle smile. "I have been told it makes life easier."

He would not be the first nor the last to struggle over her name. In fact, her former colleagues at Beauxbatons had struggled so much that the librarian came up with the alias.
 #24735  by Everevna
The young woman blinked as she paused from bringing her notepad to table level.

Though not entirely unheard of that someone expressed curiosity about the alias, most were typically far too distracted by the relief of being rescued from the daunting task of enunciating her name. It was not often that someone took the time and interest.

"My former colleague at Académie de Magie Beauxbâtons came up with the name when it became clear that none of the faculty had the slightest ability to get Zi Shang right. It is the French form of an old Greek name, Euphēmía. It means 'one who speaks well'. Fitting, as you might see why."

The magiphilology student smiled, not without a hint of shyness.

"It is not a very good story. More practical than anything else."
 #24778  by Kael
"Marvelous - a credit to your expertise!" Francis was impressed so far.

"Do you take much interest in the professional circuit?" he asked. "We don't get quite as much universal coverage as quidditch, but there's a lot of opportunity for both of us."

Francis grinned and seemed to be sizing Zi Shang up. "I don't take you for a gambler, Euphémie?"
 #24779  by Everevna
"You are not entirely wrong," the foreigner acquiesced in her soft voice, though some hint of his playfulness was clearly rubbing off on her.

"It has been a prominent fixture of my childhood."

Zi Shang remembered long nights on the eve of every Lunar New Year. She remembered everyone gathering in the communal space on the ground floor of the tǔlóu, and the jovial singing that occasionally erupted from one group or the other, and the outraged or gleeful cries from losing or winning money that rose and fell throughout their wait for sunrise and the new year.

It felt like a lifetime ago.

Her smile dimmed just the slightest as she continued, "I'm afraid my luck has gathered quite some rust since."