Who: Zacharias Smith, anyone who was invited
Where: Smith Manor
When: 6 May 2001, evening
Zacharias had often been accused of being insensitive so he had no qualms about feeling pleased about Orpington’s death. Orpington had been invited to the dinner party, and the thought of having to play nice with the man who was planning to knock down his family home was almost too much. With him out of the picture now, Zacharias felt much happier. He might even enjoy himself this evening.
Wayne arrived right on time, hoping it wasn’t the sort of party where you were supposed to be fashionably late. He tugged at the collar of his new dress robes — something kept scratching his neck — and figured he’d better go say hello to Zach and get it over with. It wasn’t that he didn’t like Zach, exactly, but he didn’t like the fights that kept breaking out around him, and the fact that Zach didn’t seem to care.
“Erm, hi,” he said. “Thanks for having me?” It came out more like a question, because Wayne was still kind of confused about who was hosting this thing and why he’d been invited.
Zacharias started a bit. It suddenly struck him that this was the first time he’d seen one of his old friends since Hogwarts, even though they’d of course written briefly through the journals. Wayne looked… exactly the same. Down to the same haircut.
He could be jovial with Wayne. Zacharias was satisfied that they shared the same idea about DA, even if he was unrelentingly diplomatic about it.
“Hi, Wayne. Long time no see. I’m glad you could attend. How do you find Helga’s?”
Wayne hesitated before responding. It was weird, not having seen each other for years and then Zach just being chatty like there was nothing weird about the situation. But Wayne didn’t know what else to do, either, so he followed Zacharias’s lead, although with a bit more reserve.
“Yeah, I usually play Exploding Snap with the Minister on Monday nights, but I told her I had to cancel for the Mayor,” he joked weakly. “I like Helga’s Hill OK. I’d forgotten you grew up here. So d’you like being home?” He glanced around and added “Nice house, by the way.”
“Well I’m pleased you felt us important enough to cancel,” replied Zacharias smoothly. He looked around. “The house is all right. It doesn’t always look like this. Most of it stays closed and we simply live in one part of it. There’s only three of us.”
“I’m just glad it’s safe from demolition,” he added pointedly.
“Yeah, that’s lucky,” Wayne agreed. “And no offence to your dad, but I never really understood why he seemed OK with that. I mean, if someone wanted to tear down my house I’d be pretty unhappy about it, and my house isn’t even anything much.”
Zacharias shrugged. “He’s soft,” he replied, blithely ignoring the fact that his father was never “OK” about it and had also managed to force Zach into holding a party for people he didn’t really care for.
“What would you do about it, though?”
“Um.” Wayne didn’t know exactly what the Mayor could have done about it, and anyway Wayne wasn’t one to talk. He didn’t have much of a history of standing up for himself, as it was. He took the opportunity to change the subject.
“Should I go say hi to him, your dad I mean? I didn’t want to be rude, but also I don’t think he’d know who I was or anything.”
“Sure, if you want. He knows who you are,” said Zacharias. He hoped Wayne would go, actually, not because he was tired of talking to him, but because it’d prove he’d gotten some of his old friends to attend, at least. See? Progress!
“I think he’d be quite pleased, actually, if you go rescue him from Angelo.”
“Erm, OK, I’ll do that. See you around.” Wayne turned to leave, thinking that he still wasn’t sure where he and Zacharias stood these days. Or maybe he did know, and it was just kind of a bummer that apparently they weren’t ever going to be the kind of friends they used to be.
Wayne turned back to add one more thing. “And good luck with Hannah and them. I don’t think they should come, if they’re just going to yell at you.”
Zacharias shrugged. “I was prepared for that possibility.” Though he hoped there was not going to be a confrontation. Not here. Not tonight. “Give my regards to Eloise,” he added.
Wayne still didn’t really get why Zacharias would invite them if he thought they’d still be cross with him, considering that aside from the invitation itself he hadn’t really made any gestures to smooth things over. But Wayne was just going to try to stay out of it.
“I’m sure she’s around here somewhere, and she’s not going to yell at you,” Wayne responded. “I think. OK, well, see you round.”
As Wayne walked away, he wasn’t entirely satisfied with how the conversation had gone. But he shook off these thoughts as he steeled himself to say hi to the mayor and hope he didn’t make a fool of himself.
Susan had arrived a bit early, in the hope that she would be able to talk to Zach without Hannah being around. (Assuming Hannah had decided to come, of course.) Hannah had such strong opinions that sometimes it was hard for Susan to think her own thoughts. She wanted to forgive Zach — although admittedly it would be a lot easier if he’d seemed at all sorry for what he did.
Hovering unobtrusively in the background, Susan waited until Wayne had finished speaking to Zach and moved off. Then, seizing her moment (and her courage), she approached Zach with a smile on her face, hoping he wouldn’t sense her nerves. “Hi,” she said. “How are you?”
“Oh, hi. Susan,” said Zacharias, not as smoothly as he hoped. It was no less surprising to see her than it had been to see Wayne. Zacharias sensed he’d be seeing all the Hufflepuffs tonight, so at least he was fortunate enough to start with the ones least likely to bite his head off.
“Hi,” he said again. “Glad you could make it. I’m fine. How are you?”
Susan noticed that Zach seemed a bit awkward, which actually made her feel more relaxed. She rather optimistically put it down to guilt on his part (because surely he did feel guilty about abandoning them all, even if it was buried deep down?) and that was a good sign. Guilt meant he was sorry for what he did.
“I’m very well, thank you,” Susan replied, deciding not to mention her worries over her missing memories from the night of Orpington’s murder. “I was just admiring your beautiful gardens. You have some lovely plants out there.”
Gardens. Well that brought up the memory of the whole fiasco with Isolde and the flowers. He forced a smile. “Yes, they’re lovely. Not anything I can claim credit for, though. But I’m glad they’re back to the way they were.”
“How’s Astoria working out?” asked Zacharias. He had something of a personal stake in the matter, and he’d been deadly curious, but never had an opportunity to broach the subject before.
Susan, who’d been wondering whether she could ask Zach for some cuttings from the garden, faltered slightly at the mention of Astoria. “Oh, she’s — um —” She cast around for the right word and, failing to find one, lied. “She’s great! Such a help!”
Susan took a hasty gulp of her drink to stop herself from babbling on further. She very much hoped that Astoria would be a great help, given time, but there were definitely some teething problems there. Still, it was nothing she wanted to mention to Astoria’s cousin, of all people.
There was one thing she couldn’t help bringing up, though. “I hear you told her I’d make a great boss.”
Yeah, Zacharias didn’t quite buy that. But he recognised that Susan was being polite, unlike some people, and he should be grateful for that.
“Well I hope she’ll be even greater in future, then.”
He smiled a little. “Yeah, I did. That’s true, isn’t it? Or do I have to go tell her I lied?”
The Jones family arrived all in a group and peeled away slowly, first the parents (who’d seen some fellow business owners they wanted to talk to), then Gwenog (surrounded by a group of Quidditch fans), then Lowri (to admire the architecture of the house). Before long it was just Megan and Hestia.
There wasn’t a huge group of people there, but it was still enough that it took Megan a little while to see Zacharias, mainly because she was quieter than usual and not looking around much. In fact, it took a gentle nudge from Hestia and a murmured, “Isn’t that your friend?” to get her to look up and see him, and step forward saying, “Hi, Zach…”
Zacharias enjoyed seeing the Joneses. They were family he could count on. Except maybe Gwenog. She was intimidating.
“Hi, Megan,” he said in kind. “How are you?”
Veronica Smethley has been super excited to be invited to such a fancy party, especially since not everybody in town had been. She wasn’t sure exactly why, though it probably had a lot to do with being friendly with Sepphora and working at the FFFC. A lot of people there were ones she recognised who worked in town. But still, she wasn’t exactly the first person people thought of when it came to fancy parties (now circuses, one the other hand…) so she was happy to be there.
Since attire was black tie she had worn a simple black frock. She had decided since she wasn’t going with the tie she’d at least fit the black part even if she preferred darker colours, and was a bit relieved that the other women there decided not to wear ties, either.
“Wasn’t dinner so good?!” Roni said to the person next to her, not even caring who it was. She was really happy and eager to gush about how much fun she was having at the party.