Who: Terence Higgs, Dorothy Spinks
Where: A swanky joint in Diagon
When: 29 November 2001, evening
Terence had expected Dorothy to show the same amount of resistance toward his poker plans as she had at his first summons, but she was surprisingly… if not enthusiastic, at least direct. He met her outside the club. She looked passable.
“Wasn’t sure that you’d show,” he remarked.
Dorothy shrugged; a useful tactic when you weren’t always sure what people had said and weren’t sure of the correct response. But in this case, she didn’t think there was a lot to be said. It would have taken far too long to explain about her aunt, and how she’d made Dorothy feel like a failure again — and besides, it was none of Terence’s business.
“Are we going in?” she asked.
“Yeah, of course,” said Terence. He took her by the arm and guided her toward the entrance. He was a few steps away before he suddenly veered off again.
Merlin, he was taking a deaf girl into a pit full of snakes. The reservations were starting. “Look,” he started, “you don’t have to make a big splash, alright? It’s better if you don’t.”
Dorothy could only pick out about one word in three from lipreading alone, so she slid her hand into her evening clutch where her wand was and silently cast Legilimens to find out why Terence was frowning at her like that. She caught a flash of hesitation and interpreted it as doubt in her abilities.
“I know what I’m doing,” she said, annoyed. This was as far from the truth as it was possible to get, but she lifted her chin and glared at him. “It’ll be fine.”
“How can you know what you’re doing? You haven’t done this before,” Terence pointed out reasonably. “Well at least nobody talks so they can’t accuse you of picking up clues from that.”
He ran a hand through his hair. “OK. Just be conservative, OK? Don’t get greedy.”
“Whatever,” Dorothy said rudely, and then sighed because Terence was funding this whole thing, and without him she’d be… Well, she’d probably be sat at home reading, or playing with Watson. She wouldn’t be about to cheat in a high-stakes poker game.
The thought of what she was about to do set off a flutter of nerves in her stomach, but she ignored it. She couldn’t afford to panic now. “Any more last-minute advice?” she asked.
Terence frowned. He thought he had the upper hand — yeah, he was arrogant enough to think he’d have the upper hand against someone who could read his mind — but it seemed like Dorothy would not be such a pushover. Maybe that boded well for the game. Or it’d make her complacent.
“Flirt if you wish. But don’t drink too much. If anyone asks we’re best mates, obviously. Come find me at the end. Don’t dither. Do you even have a bank account?”
He offered his arm again.
“Of course I have a bank account,” Dorothy retorted. True, it had been rather empty of late, thanks to Orpington… but that was why she was here. If she couldn’t get a well-paid job at the Ministry then she’d just have to earn money in a different way. Her aunt was wrong to think that she and Edmund couldn’t support themselves.
She took Terence’s arm and drew herself up to her full height (which wasn’t much, even in heels). “No drinking, no dithering, but flirting’s fine,” she reiterated, mostly to check that she’d interpreted his words correctly. “Got it. Now can we go in?”
If Terence believed in any kind of God he would have sent up a quick prayer. But, of course, he only believed in himself, and he had to trust he’d made a good decision, or… he didn’t want to think about that.
“Let’s go. Riches await.”