AUTHOR'S NOTE: Enjoy! The timing's out of whack, I'm telling you, but I'll fill you all in on that later, in the next chapter.
Chapter 3: Dinner
It was only a few hours later that Shyzana started up dinner. At first, she wasn't quite sure what he'd like, so she went for some generic dishes that would be a good segway into the taste buds of people from her general area on the globe. 'Ease him into the spicy palette,' she thought, grinning. There was some flat, round bread that resembled tacos, only thicker and with different flour, followed by some curry dishes. And just in case he didn't take to them very much, for she was rather unsure of his reaction, she could whip up some pasta on the spot. But that was only as needed, of course.
Glancing out the window, Shyzana contemplated the grassy meadow landscape it looked out onto and smiled as she watched the last crimson rays of the sun lie to rest beyond the green velvet. It was strange to think Diagon Ally was only a few winding, magical alleys away. The hustle and bustle she associated with Diagon Ally never reached this side of the view from her apartment. It was a serene thinking spot, or so she'd dubbed it. The previous owner had informed her that this region was called Caer Morgana. Interesting, although she doubted the real Morgan Le Fey had ever made her home here.
Blinking a couple times, Shyzana shook herself out of the haze of thoughts that frequently surrounded her, catching her unawares. She slid the airy-fairy, deep green curtains and turned. A shower seemed to be in order. Yes, a nice hot shower…
Something of 25 minutes later, Shyzana stepped out, clad in a purple smart casual, evening robe with raised, dark purple floral embroidery along the neckline, cuffs, and hem. The robe was close-fitting, not snug yet, around the upper section and loose and flowing around the skirt. It seemed casual enough, yet formal enough at the same time. She shrugged. It'd have to do, in any case.
At 7:48, a small, purposeful knock could be heard, bringing a smile to Shyzana's lips. Finally. She got up from her perch on the forest green, squashy couch and made for the door, surreptitiously swiping a hand over her robes to straighten them out before throwing open the door. There stood Mr. Lupin, hands clasped behind his back, a set of slightly worn, unadorned, gray dress robes on his person, and a shy, pleasant smile on his face. "Am I too early?" he inquired.
Shyzana's grin widened, "No, but you're right on time. Come on in. I'm sorry, I'm not much better off than you, packing wise. You see, I only moved in about two weeks ago, so… Oh, but do have a seat, please." She indicated the couch and waited until he'd seated himself before sitting across the low table on the other couch, facing him and smiling. "You're actually my first guest," she said vaguely.
"How fortunate I didn't delay in accepting your offer, than, or I'm sure your hospitality would have snatched the title from me sooner rather than later," she replied, smile widening.
She laughed, "Oh, no, not really. I haven't been able to get out much, actually. So, ah, Mr. Lupin," she swung the conversation on a slight tangent. "Where do you work, exactly?"
A flicker passed over Mr. Lupin's face before he said, "Oh, well…I'm actually looking to become employed in the hopefully near future. Hopefully."
"Oh, you're in the same boat as me, then! But with Voldemort gone and everything, I expect there are more job openings now. What with empty spaces to fill and messes to clean up…"
"You just said his name." Far from being frightened or impressed, Mr. Lupin just seemed curious and somewhat intrigued.
"Yea." Shyzana tilted her head in thought and frowned slightly. "Muggles. My parents, that is, and all my family have always been, so you see, we were left rather in the dark about everything. As such, I never had any reason to fear the name. Didn't know what it entailed. By the time it did, it was too late, anyway. Besides, it seemed, and still does, silly to fear a name. To quote a remarkably overused quote, 'What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet' Shakespeare. Or, in this case, he whose name we invoked would be just as evil, regardless of whether we choose to say his name or not." She shrugged. "That's just how it's always been with me. On the same note," she added. "I noticed you don't flinch at the sound of said name." She lifted an eyebrow to accentuate her question.
"I suppose my reasoning is the same…" he started. "Well, that and the fact that Dumbledore's never been afraid to say his name, and I've just taken my cue from there."
Shyzana nodded, and a thoughtful silence filled the space of the five seconds it took her to recall her manners. "Oh, Merlin's beard, here I am, engaging you in conversation on an empty stomach. Tsk, tsk, I must've left my manners wherever I left the fear of Voldemort's name, honestly." Chiding herself silently, and smiling at Mr. Lupin's quiet chuckling, she led him to the dining room. A square table covered with a white tablecloth and laden with food awaited them.
She wondered for a moment why he followed her to her seat, before he pulled out her chair and she realized the immense gentlemanly-ness of him. Laughing, she said, "Oh, dear, you really didn't have to…how very- erm, thanks!" He smiled and walked over to his side, taking his seat, and glancing across the table. The smile slipped off his face, although he made a valiant attempt to cover it. She followed his gaze to the silverware and quirked an eyebrow. "Something the matter, Sir?"
He laughed weakly, and said in a would-be casual voice, "That's quite some expensive silverware for a dinner. Heh…"
She grinned, relieved it was a matter so simply solved, "Oh, it's not real. No, I can't afford anything like that." She laughed, relieved, as he visibly relaxed and became almost immediately at ease with the environment. "Rest assured," she continued. "That were I able to afford such silverware, I most definitely would have set it out tonight."
"No! Ah, that is to say, I'm really partial to…ah, stainless steel…" Mr. Lupin fidgeted with his napkin for an uncomfortable few seconds as Shyzana tilted her head and scrutinized him.
"Are you quite sure you're alright, Sir?" she asked, concerned. He was behaving rather oddly… But she supposed, he was her guest and he had, of course, the benefit of the doubt.
"Oh, fine, truly, I'm sorry, I didn't mean-"
But she smiled and waved it away, "Oh, no need to apologize, Sir. It's quite alright. Now, do start eating before everything gets cold and all my hard work goes down the drain." After they'd both piled their plates, Shyzana noted with happy satisfaction that his was piled no less than her own, Mr. Lupin cleared his throat.
"I believe you wanted me to call you by your given name, Shyzana?" It was a question. She nodded, not sure where this was going. A smile played at the edges of his lips and he continued. "If it wouldn't be too much to ask you, then, Shyzana, I have a similar request. I think it'd be better if you addressed me as 'Remus' or 'Lupin'. Mr. Lupin sounds…strange, to say the least. And 'Sir' reminds me of my teaching days." He grinned.
"Oh…well, alright then, Si-" she caught herself and smiled, covering her mouth with her hand. "Uh, Remus- er- Lupin? Umm…Remus?" She tried the name out tentatively, glancing at him to see that he didn't think it too informal. At his encouraging smile, she smiled and repeated it, sounding surer of herself. "Alright, then, Remus. Remus it is." She sipped her punch (for as she'd flatly informed him, she absolutely refused to carry any alcoholic beverages whatsoever. A fact he seemed to have no problem with, which greatly pleased her), and said, "So, you taught? Where at?"
"Hogwarts- Defense Against the Dark Arts."
Shyzana's eyes lit up, "Oh, really? How very interesting! I daresay I could learn quite a bit from you, then! Excellent!" He grinned at her. "I'm assuming you went to school there as well, in your past?"
And so the dinner passed in conversation, in which Shyzana learned a bit more of her tenant and she in turn, enlightened him a bit on her own life. "I hate to be the one to bring up business, Shyzana, but you did say we'd discuss pricing at a later time, and now is later…"
Shyzana cleared her throat. "Well, yes, and I still stand by my offer of earlier. A sickle a month." As Remus opened his mouth to argue, Shyzana held up a hand to stop him and hurried to explain, "You see, I'm not renting out the upstairs for the money. It's the company I really wanted. I ran away from home, you see…it's still a rather strange feeling, realizing this, but it's the truth, and I've been relatively alone since I stormed out, and while I don't have much, it's enough for me to find a job and make more, hopefully. As such, I don't need nor do I want your money. But your presence is always welcome. You can drop by any time you wish to, I'd enjoy it." She smiled and looked down at her plate, wondering if she hadn't maybe said too much. He might've gotten the wrong idea… It wasn't like that or anything, she just…there was something about people…
Remus propped his elbows on the table and rested his chin on the intertwined fingers. It was from this position that he observed the girl sitting before him, twisting her napkin into something that pulled her eyes away from his. "You're very different," he said finally. The napkin seemed to become less interesting as she looked up and smiled hesitantly, asking if it was a good thing or bad thing, and then shrugged.
"Yes, I know, and I like it that way. I know I'm strange, but I'd rather be different than be the same." She tilted her head, regarding him briefly. "So, are you taking me up on my offer?"
Remus sighed and grinned ruefully, "You know, I wouldn't if a sickle wasn't all I happened to have on me right now." She laughed and watched as he reached into his pocket and drew out a small, napkin-wrapped bundle. "It's real, you can see," he assured her.
She smiled and pocketed the thing without glancing inside. "Okay," she said, as they both rose in a mutual ending of the night. "Thanks very much for taking the time to join me for dinner, by the way, Remus."
"Well, thank you very much for inviting me. I must say, you're a lot younger than I had anticipated. You can't be more than, what, 19? 20?"
She giggled, "I only just recently turned 17," she informed him, and watched as the expected look of surprise crossed his face. "But it was the same from my end, as well. I thought you'd be quite a bit older than you turned out to be."
"Twenty-seven. It's old enough."
"Not nearly as old as you seem to think." The conversation ended as they had reached the door, and she held it open for him. "Have a nice night, Remus."
He smiled, giving her a semi-bow and a smile, he answered, "Thanks, and the same to you, Shyzana."
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This chapter felt somewhat forced. O.o TT Please review it! Thanks very much!