Who: Portia Diggle, Tom Pippin
Where: Witch Weekly 2002 Awards
When: 20 April 2002, a little before midnight
Portia’s cheeks hurt from smiling. She’d done everything Sasha had asked of her, including a few more contrite words to the press at the start of the evening, and had been on her best behaviour since then. God, it had been boring.
Now, at the after party, she just wanted to knock back the free champagne and bitch. (Did Celestina Warbeck win her award for a lifetime of making people’s ears bleed?) But instead she smiled, and mingled, and smiled some more, and congratulated all the right people — making sure to avoid that cow Abbott the whole time. Portia wondered how long she had to keep this up before she could make an exit. Glancing around the room for someone else to talk to, she caught sight of Tom Pippin standing close by. Ha, maybe not. She’d noticed him flirting with several women over the course of the evening. How desperate could you get?
This was one of Tom’s non-Alfie weekends, so he felt free to do what he pleased. Johanna had given him the company invite with a word not to do anything to make it into the papers the next morning, lest it reflect badly on Pippin’s Potions, but Tom had scoffed at that. It wasn’t like it was a trade fair. As far as he was concerned, he was only representing himself.
He had only just received two fresh glasses of champagne when he dropped both, suddenly gasping for air. It felt like there was something around his neck. He reached up with his hands and felt cloth. His tie. But how?
Tom fell to his knees soundlessly. It was so tight now he couldn’t even gasp.
In Portia’s opinion, men didn’t fall to their knees in front of her nearly often enough. But any amused comments she’d been about to make fell away as she watched Tom scrabbling at his neck, his face turning purple. Well, this was certainly an interesting turn of events.
With two quick strides she was next to him, kneeling down, drawing out her wand. She wondered if the panic in his eyes was entirely due to being strangled by his own tie, or if he was slightly alarmed at his unlikely saviour.
“Hold still unless you want your throat cut,” she snapped (yeah, not exactly reassuring), aiming her wand at the tie and casting the strongest severing charm she knew.
Tom didn’t care who his saviour was; if Lord Voldemort saved him from certain death then he supposed he’d just have to cope with being a Death Eater.
He tried to nod to Portia, but she was quicker than that. The tie must’ve fallen away instantly but it was several moments more before he remembered how to breathe. He was still kneeling, hands on the floor also.
“Thanks,” he croaked.
“Don’t mention it,” Portia said dryly, sitting back on her heels (and realising as she did so that she’d knelt in the puddle of spilled champagne. Great). “So, do you need me to call a Mediwizard… or a Hit Wizard? Looks like someone’s got it in for you.” People were already beginning to gather, drawn in by the drama of the spectacle, and she knew she had only moments to find out as much gossip as she could. Who would’ve thought that plain old boring Tom Pippin would’ve been the victim of such an attack?
Tom was gentleman enough to vanish the puddle of champagne. He stood up gingerly and held out a hand to Portia. He was too wary of the tie to pick it up but it probably wouldn’t stay on the floor much longer; security was heading their way.
“I can heal myself if I can get to St Mungo’s,” he muttered. He wouldn’t need to check himself in and he knew where all the good potions were kept.
“But I suspect they’ll want to a statement.” His eyes scanned the room. Who could’ve done this?
Portia raised her eyebrows in surprise but took Tom’s hand. (It was hard getting up gracefully when you were wearing dress robes this short, okay.) “So you’ve no idea who —”
A camera flash went off and a reporter, Quick-Quotes Quill in hand, started firing questions at her. What had happened? Had she just saved this man’s life? Were her dress robes Charmel?
Sighing inwardly, Portia knew Sasha would kill her if she didn’t take this opportunity for good PR. Well, she was an actress — time to act. “It was all so sudden,” she began, pressing her hand to her chest and widening her eyes. “I just did what any other person would have done…” She could just see tomorrow’s headlines: WIRELESS STAR SAVES LIFE. Take that, Abbott.