Who: Romilda Vane, Taliesyn Robards
Where: Tattered Pages
When: 27 August 2001, afternoon
This recent heatwave had wreaked havoc with Romilda’s brewing; she sighed as yet another potion went slipping down the plughole with a gurgle. Last night’s storm had broken the heat, but not before it had done some damage to one of her creations. She turned on the tap to wash out the sink, then grabbed a clean glass from the drying rack to get herself a drink. After all, it was a good idea to keep hydrated in this weather, especially when you spent so much time lurking around bubbling cauldrons.
When she turned to her notes, however, she found she didn’t have all the reading materials she needed for the next potion she was going to brew. This left two options. The first was to go to London, visit Flourish and Blotts, and then come home with considerably less money. The second option was to go to Tattered Pages and hope that she could get the book second hand and therefore much cheaper.
Swallowing deeply, Romilda left her empty glass on the kitchen worktop and Apparated to the bookshop. She stepped into the darkened shop and breathed in the scent of old books. Romilda spotted Tali behind the counter and smiled. Why on Earth had she thought about going to Flourish and Blotts when the lovely Tali worked here and she could see him? Flustered, Romilda fluffed up her hand, unpopped the top button on her blouse and strode up to the counter. “Hi, Tali,” she said in a low voice, resting on her elbows and leaning towards him.
“Uh, hello?” said Tali, taken aback by her forward stance. Not many people leant on the counter. Virtually none.
He cleared his throat and straightened up into what he hoped was an authoritative and confident posture. “Excuse me, let me try that again. Hello, how may I help you?”
Romilda laughed. “It’s only me. No need to be so formal.” Actually, there was something kind of attractive about him when he tried to be authoritative. The way he straightened up to look commanding made her feel a bit tingly.
“I’m looking for a specific book and I was hoping that you’d be able to help me find it.” She smiled sweetly, trying to keep contact with his beautiful eyes.
“Well that’s what I’m here for,” said Tali with gusto. “Which book is it?”
“Um.” Romilda nearly forgot why she was there. Could he be any more handsome right now? “It is… The… Aconitum Compendium. I’m not sure whether it would be under potions or herbology.”
“Oh, yes, they’re always tricky to sort.” He ran a hand through his hair and sighed. “Oh, I remember where it is. If you’d like to follow me…”
He didn’t bother waiting for replies when there was a book to be found. He came to a stop at the correct shelf. “I believe that’s it, up there. Hang on, I’ll get the ladder.”
She happily trailed after him, following him deeper into the shop. Reaching the shelf, Romilda craned her neck to see if she could spot the book.
“Okay,” she said wistfully. “I’ll be right here.” Her gaze travelled lower. Merlin, she hated to see him leave, but she loved to watch him walk away.
Tali returned, pushing a rolling ladder along the floor with his foot. “These used to be free to use but they’ve been locked up since some kids tried to play battle towers with them,” he explained. He clicked it into place with a charm and ascended.
“Yes, I think I’ve got it,” Tali said, trying to twist out a fat book. He almost dropped it when he twisted around to show Romilda the book. Oof, what a view. This was just like that sunbathing day.
He sucked in a breath. “This is the one you’re looking for, right? There are various editions but since you’re in a second-hand store I’m guessing you’re not too picky.”
“I’m sure it’ll be perfect,” Romilda assured him with a warm smile. He was the absolute best person ever, and not just because he’d found the book she needed. “The fundamentals never really change so the edition shouldn’t matter.”
“Ah, lovely.” Tali clambered down. Well, this interaction was a pleasant change from the usual dull-eyed customers who came to browse and take books from shelves and place them back again in different shelves. It wouldn’t be so bad if they at least bought something.
“Now, will that be all? And, I feel that I should mention this, just in case, but I really can’t give preferential treatment to anyone, no matter what Astoria might have said. Or say. Or didn’t say.”
“Does anyone apart from Astoria herself really care what Astoria says?” Romilda asked with a frown. In fact, why was Tali even thinking about Astoria Greengrass when she was right here? Couldn’t he tell how much she loved him? Romilda knew she’d have to show him.
“I think that’s everything.” She took a step forward, closer to him. “Unless there’s anything I can do for you, Tali?”
“Well, I’m sure some people do,” said Tali politely. “I just wish she would read more, that’s all. It’d do her a world of good.”
He stopped speaking with Romilda moved closer. He stared, rooted to the spot. “Um, no? This is my shop. I’m supposed to serve you.”
Romilda laughed softly and if she happened to push her shoulders back to better display her cleavage, it wasn’t entirely accidental.
“I meant if I could get you a coffee or something while you’re stuck in here. I could go to Live To Tell The Kale and get you a smoothie. Or I could always pick up some lunch for you. I have all the free time in the world.”
Cleavage. Cleavage cleavage cleavage. Luckily Tali was tall and could look over Romilda’s head without looking like it was a deliberate attempt to avoid other areas. Much.
“Oh, that’s quite alright. I packed my lunch and it’s be wrong to waste it. And I’m sure you have some reading to do. With your new book.”
“Yeah, I suppose I do.”
If he was going to play hard to get… fine. She could deal with that. With a little bit of persistence she’d make him see how perfect their love could be.
“I’d better pay then,” Romilda said, not even remotely interested in the price now that she had plans to concoct.
“Yes, alright,” said Tali, now somewhat put out that Romilda would be departing. Maybe she could just stay and… perch herself on the counter somewhere. Like an animated statue. But that would be wrong. Just as wrong as wanting to have sex with people you have no intention of marrying.
“I hope the book is helpful for your needs,” he added as the rang the purchase up.
Her needs, yes. Romilda was definitely thinking about her needs. She grinned at him. “I’m sure it will be. Thanks, Tali.”