Chapter 35 - Muggle Immersion

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∞ 35 ∞

MUGGLE IMMERSION


Lucius and Sander sat outdoors at a café. There were a few tall, hooded, propane heaters intermingled throughout the outdoor seating area, but most of the locals, including the waitresses, still thought it a little strange for people (all foreigners and tourists from Paris) to be out there in the cold, when there was plenty of seating inside. Sander ordered a chamomile tea. They didn't have «thé tilleul» (linden blossom tea) which was Lucius's favourite; they also did not have vetiver, lavender or even verveine (unbelievable!) so Lucius ordered a chamomile tea as well.

As they sat with their tea discussing nothing in particular, Sander remained casually alert as always, but there was something very different about him on this day. For a start, he and the other guards had taken the Pedhomins Potion –which temporarily rendered their hoofs into ordinary human feet– as they had done especially for the Hogwarts festival and of course always did on Muggle days. Apart from the human feet and shoes –an especially handsome pair of black ankle boots– Sander was also dressed very smartly and in the Muggle style. Although he normally looked quite well turned out, even on ordinary days, Sander liked to make an extra effort on these days when they were in the Muggle world and quietly looked forward to them. He wore an elegant looking, bespoke tailored suit, with a black, cashmere turtle neck and dark, stylish sunglasses, all by Lagerfeld – rather looking like he had just stepped off of a movie set. He had an air of confidence (peace) about him that was very different to his usual air of confidence in holding one of the highest positions of authority in one of the world's most powerful households.

Lucius wore a quilted, flaxen coloured leather tunic, embroidered with a similarly coloured thread under a tailored, cherry coloured riding coat, with long tails, off-white dandy trousers and high, black riding boots, all of which he had owned for ages and, in his eyes looked rather ordinary, exactly mimicking the Muggle style of wearing the colour red and tighter fitting coats and trousers in public.

Although the waitresses ordinarily fought each other over who could work inside in the warm, today all of them wanted to work outside. They all wanted to serve the strange, foreign men, who had started appearing together locally, off and on for the past few months. It was whispered through the small city that the eccentric blond Englishman (who always looked as if he had been transported there through a time machine) and his darker, Italian associate, were fabulously wealthy. They had stopped at this particular café a few times before and –neither seeming to understand French money well– had tipped ridiculously over the top. They had come, a couple weeks before for example, when a new girl had been left to wait all the outside tables on her own and they had tipped her so much (either out of generosity, or stupidity) that she had been able to pay off her phone bill from two chamomile teas! Now, all of the waitresses imagined the payment they wouldn't have to worry about that month or the special treat they could afford, if they were the one to serve the two stupid eccentrics.

In the end, the two most senior girls agreed to share the table. Teas were brought out straight away and the waitresses made such an effort flitting around the table, trying to make things just right that even Lucius, who hardly ever took any notice of Muggles around him –a bad habit to have, since he was supposed to be observing and interacting with them as part of his Conditional Freedom– noticed their efforts.

"These girls are very attentive. Considering how appalling Muggle service is ordinarily, I would say it is almost strange. Well it makes a change – even if they are not any more vigilant about the dish washing," he said looking disparagingly at his spoon and placing it away from him at the edge of the table. Sander agreed thoughtfully and pushed his spoon away as well.

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