!9 years later - (my first entry for the summer fest):
Title Blind Date (19 years later)
Genre short story, genfic, about 1600 words. Two of Sigune's OCs and one of mine.G-rated; no warnings.
CreditsThanks to Snapedom and sylvanawood, who organized the fest, Sigune for her wonderful drawings and her comments on my works in progress, Cardigrl for offering to beta, and my sister for her comments and encouragement. Note: I have never done this before, and apologize for leaving off the link to Sigune's drawing. You can find it at her deviantart page here:
19 Years Later (Blind Date)
Alexander shoved his hands into his pockets and glowered at his sister. "Alba," he said, "haven't you got something else to do?"
Alba raised her cigarette holder to her lips and inhaled, regarding her younger brother coolly. Xander had clearly taken some pains this evening. He must have spent hours slicking back his hair in that style that he thought cool; he'd polished his boots - by hand; she'd seen him - until they shone, and he was wearing his best heavy belt. It made her quite curious. He was awaiting a girl, obviously, but which girl? She thought several girls they knew had been making eyes at her little brother recently, but he hadn't seemed to be very interested in any of them. Well, boys grew up eventually, she supposed.
"You know," she said, "you don't look very impressive with your hands jammed in your pockets that way."
"So who is she, little brother?"
"Don't call me that!"
Alba bit back a smile. Really, it was almost too easy to get Xander worked up these days. All you had to do was remark on his appearance or encroach on what he fondly believed to be his privacy. As if anything either of them did could ever be kept from their father! "Very well," she said, "but who is the girlfriend? Do I know her, and would I approve?"
They were straightforward questions, and Xander should have expected them; after all, every single member of their family was as curious as the proverbial Kneazle. So she was surprised to see him blushing. "No, and probably not," he muttered. At her raised eyebrow, he added, "she's a friend of Hannes', all right?"
Johannes von Vogelwald was Xander's best friend at school, and, at the moment, he was working hard at becoming an eccentric. Alba reflected that the girl would probably be easy to recognize; if she was a friend of Hannes', she would most likely be wearing a white tie and a Muggle smoking jacket or some other such get up. "You've never met her before?" she asked.
Xander pulled a sour face. "Why do you need to know? Weren't you going someplace?" he grumbled.
Alba smiled at him. "Not at the moment," she answered. "I'd like to meet this girl, you know. I don't want some strange woman getting my little brother in trouble."
Xander's eyes narrowed and he opened his mouth as if to retort, but then clamped his lips together and turned away from her, his robes and coat swirling dramatically round his legs as he moved. A rather light, clear voice was saying, "Hallo! Are you Alex?"
The girl wasn't wearing a smoking jacket. She had on Muggle clothes, to be sure - a long, flowered skirt with a knitted jacket, suede boots, and a red and white checked scarf. Her hair was fair, cut short and spiky, and she had a round face, rather like Hannes'. A long, teardrop shaped silver earring dangled from one ear. She held out her right hand. "I'm Julia, " she said, "Hanno's cousin." She repeated, "Are you Alex?"
"Xander," Alexander mumbled, taking her hand in his and shaking it. "My father's called Alex." Turning back towards Alba, he gestured at her with one hand. "This is my sister, Alba von Bork."
"Julia Steiner," the girl said, and stepped forward with her hand outstretched. She had small, square hands and a surprisingly firm grip. "Pleased to meet you. Will you be going to the Kneipe with us?"
"Ye Gods, no," Alba drawled. "Xander doesn't need a chaperone. I'm just waiting for a client."
"Are you a designer, then? That's a great dress! Do you sell patterns, or the completed dresses?"
"Patterns, at least so far. But I don't think this one would look good on you."
"No. I'm too dumpy," Julia answered cheerfully. "It looks wonderful on you! What do you charge? I like to sew and all that. I made this," she added, running her hands down her jacket-clad sides. At Alba's expression, she added, "I know it's a bit lumpy, but I sew better than I knit, and it was my first attempt at a jacket with sleeves. I do like the colors, though."
"The colors are good," Alba conceded. Indeed, this girl seemed to have an interesting color sense; the jacket was knit in a swirly pattern that combined lilac-greys and peach tones, and somehow managed to harmonize with her skirt. Alba herself would never wear anything the child had on, except perhaps for the scarf, but tastes differ. "I may have a pattern or two that will suit you," Alba said, "but I charge a good deal. You could contact Hannes if you want to know more."
"Thanks, I will! You know, I think I could get you some clients; some of my friends would love your designs. Would you like me to ask them? "
"That would be kind," Alba said thoughtfully.
"Do you have e-mail? Or would you rather they called you?"
"That won't be necessary. Just have them tell Hannes or Xander, and the boys will get the information to me."
Julia looked doubtful. "Do you think so? I do like Johannes, really, but I wouldn't say he was the most reliable person in the world. He does funny things sometimes," she added.
Xander's eyes gleamed. "What sort of things?"
"Well, one Christmas he set Uncle Max's beard on fire. I don't know how he did it - it was the strangest thing; he was nowhere near him - but I'm sure it was him."
"Sounds like him," Xander said, straight-faced. "Dangerous man, that Johannes."
"Then you must be, too," and Julia looked up at Xander and smiled.
"Absolutely! All seekers worth their salt are dangerous." To their father's mixed pride and chagrin, Xander had turned out to have an athletic streak, and was the reserve seeker for his house Quidditch team at Durmstrang.
"Seekers?" Julia asked innocently. "What do you seek, exactly? I mean, isn't everyone a seeker?"
Xander looked thunderstruck. He opened his mouth and closed it again without saying anything at all.
"No need to imitate a Christmas carp," Alba said. "She means truth, beauty, knowledge, wisdom, honesty -- all those wonderful things no one ever finds. Right?" Xander was still speechless. His dark eyes darted from one girl to the other, and he swallowed. "Yeah, right," he said. "Those things."
"Man! Isn't that a bit cynical?" Julia said. "I think you can find beauty and honesty, anyway."
Alba and Xander answered simultaneously.
"Perhaps, if you're fortunate."
"You haven't met our father. You haven't seen cynical till you meet him."
Julia looked thoughtful. "He must have had a very sad life." After a brief pause, she added, "and he must be quite idealistic, really. I think all cynics are thwarted idealists, don't you?"
Alba's first impulse was to answer, "No!", but she bit the word back and reflected. "You know," she said, "you might be right."
"I'm sure I am. It's really important to keep your ideals alive. If they die, you kill a part of your heart."
Xander winced. "Do you talk to Hannes about this stuff?"
"Sometimes yes, actually. We only see each other on holidays. But he's easy to talk to. How did you get to know each other?"
"Well, we go to the same school He's easy to talk to, like you said." Xander took Julia's hand. "Shall we continue this conversation in the pub?"
"All right," Julia said. Turning to Alba, she added, "Would you like to come along? We can introduce you to some potential clients." Alba was tempted; it was always helpful to make contacts and she was becoming quite curious about how Xander would get on with this girl. Her brother was frowning, though, and she decided it wouldn't be kind to tease him. The children would have more fun without her, after all.
"Thank you, but I'm expecting my friend in a quarter of an hour. Some other time. And perhaps you could visit us at home, with Johannes?"
"I'd like that!"
"Julia," Xander said, "we'd better go. Later, Alba."
"Till later," Alba said. "It was a pleasure to meet you. Keep my little brother out of trouble, if you would."
Julia looked doubtful. "I can try," she said. "But, if he's anything like Hanno, I'm not sure I can."
"Let's go!" Xander said. Alba smiled at his expression, and Julia looked puzzled. "All right! But the others won't even be there yet. We have plenty of time," she said. She smiled at Alba and said, "Ciao! Till later."
"Later," Alba answered, and watched the pair turn and walk down the street. So she was Hannes' cousin? Hannes was a half-blood, like their father, and this girl was obviously a cousin on the Muggle side of the family. Her little brother, on a date with a Muggle girl? Alba dropped her cigarette, which had burned to ash as they talked, and ground the stub under one stiletto heel. What, she wondered, would Papa think? This might be quite entertaining.
Mary Johnson, June, 2008
Written for Sigune, in response to one of her drawings.
Author's note: a subtitle for this vignette is "19 years later". In Sigune's canon, Severus is married to Brynhild von Bork, and they have two children, Alexander and Alba. Alba is now 19 and Xander 3 or 4 years younger. The family lived in Hamelin, Germany, where Severus (known as Alex or Lex von Bork) had an apothecary shop until he was appointed headmaster of Durmstrang. Sigune, please correct me if I've gotten any of this wrong!