"Not to be worried, my good chap, I am confident I could pass you off as a Duchess at the Embassy Ball."
Ernie blinked, frowning in bafflement as Hannah tried to smother her giggles behind her hand. "Unless you're referring to Polyjuice – STRONG Polyjuice – I don't see how."
"Nevermind," Justin waved his hand in dismissal with an odd, secretive little smile. "Poor choice of reference. But I'm quite sure I can manage taking you to the polo match on Saturday, if you're willing. I know you said you wanted to see me play."
"Of course we do," Hannah agreed carefully, "a game on horses sounds really interesting, but there's no way you'll be able to pass either of us off as any kind of society."
"You'll be easy; all I have to do is dress you up from your shoes to your millinery in a sizable fortune of designer labels, and you pretend to check your intellect with your coat." The potential insult was softened by his self-deprecating grimace. "Tragically, most young ladies 'of quality' have quite the brains of the department store mannequins they're so fond of resembling, so –"
"If I act like a complete wisp-wand, I'll fit right in?" Hannah's smile turned mischievous, her green eyes sparkling a moment before going completely vacant. Her voice rose to a breathily nauseating mockery of the most highbrow London accent she could manage as she twirled the end of one ponytail lazily, her hip cocked. "And I'll have the most darling little shoes, and the sweetest little bag and whoopsies, why are we here again?"
"Flawless." Justin laughed, then turned his attention back to Ernie, cupping his chin in his hand as his eyes narrowed. "Getting you something to wear will be the sticky wicket here. Maybe if I find out who does the tailoring for Rodber…."
"Doesn't matter what I wear, Justin, or how much you've helped me polish my damned 'cannae's into 'cannot's, I'm still just a shepherd. I'm still not too keen on the difference between a crepe and a canapé."
"One's a snotty Frog pancake, the other's a snotty Frog cracker with pate on top," Justin murmured distractedly. "Just let me think, and for Christ's sake stay out of anything alcoholic, including the champagne. Consider it a prop." He circled Ernie several more times, then the smile returned more broadly than ever. "Tell me, my fine friend, you do know your specialty quite well, don't you?"
"Ay – I mean, certainly."
Ernie took a step back, holding up both heavy-callused hands guardedly. "I don't like your look, Justin."
"Forget poshing up." Justin flopped down on the common room couch in satisfaction, lacing his arms behind his head blissfully as he kicked his feet up on the cushioned arm. "You're going to be perfectly dreadful new money, and if anyone asks you about anything, all you have to do is find a way to turn it around to talking their ears off about sheep. Ten minutes, and word will be out enough that you'll have a more than wide enough berth to just watch the match, and then we'll all go out to do something proper fun after." He opened one eye, turning his head just enough to catch the blend of interest and utter confusion on the faces of his two best friends. "There are times," he mused, "I quite like being part of such a profoundly ridiculous system."