Fred looked around the tavern as she let the door swing shut behind her, the young woman frowning a bit as she took the time to allow her eyes to adjust to the darkness, wrapping her arms around herself as they did. She wasn't at all sure that this was the place for her to be, but she really didn't have too much of a choice of where to go if she decided to look elsewhere for somewhere to stay tonight. It was getting late, and she didn't know this country at all. The only way she'd found this place was because of the directions that Angel had given her... Directions she had memorized on the plane. She hadn't wanted to be caught looking at directions while walking down the road. She was certain she looked like a tourist anyway, but that would have been even more of an invitation for people to try and take advantage of her.
Moving slowly and carefully, Fred wove her way around several tables, some of them filled with people, others filled with individuals that she was fairly certain were *not* people. Several people - or creatures, or whatever - were shrouded in darkness, some wearing heavy veils to shied their features from view. Considering the appearance of some of those she could see, some with features that were distinctly, well, odd, she wasn't certain she wanted to see what the appearance of those under the veils were. Wherever it was that Angel had sent her, it certainly wasn't a place of the normal... Not that she should have really expected normal, not when it was her ensouled vampire former boss that had told her about the place. As she approached the bar, she forced a smile at the toothless tavern owner, hoping that the man spoke English, because while she was decent at reading other languages, speaking them wasn't exactly her forte unless she was reading the text directly from the book.
"Um... Excuse me," she said in a slightly quavering voice as the man looked over at her. His expression was very guarded as he walked over, a frown on his face.
"You don't belong here," he told her, and Fred cringed slightly, then pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket.
"A friend of mine gave me this. He said someone here was bound to understand it," she said as she handed it over to him, watching as he read it. His eyebrow arched as he digested the information on the paper, then looked up at her.
"You know of Angel?"
"He's a friend. I worked for him for a few years. When I... When I chose not to join him on his latest venture and decided to come, well, here - to this country, anyway - he sent me here... To this tavern."
"You're not magical."
Fred pressed her lips together, then shook her head. "No... No I suppose I'm not. I accidentally opened a portal to another world once... Or, really, a few times, but that was just reading a few words."
"But you know what Angel is."
"A vampire with a soul. He fights evil. Although now he's the head of an evil law firm - or their Los Angeles branch, anyway - but he still plans to fight evil."
"Which you aren't sure he's entirely capable of, at least not from that new position," the man said, then cleared his throat, tossing a yell over his shoulder. "Matilda! Get room seven ready!" he called out, then turned back to Fred. "Though you claim to be non-magical, there must be a drop or two of magic in you if you were able to open a portal. Not enough for magical training, but enough to do that, at least." He paused for a moment, eyeing Fred critically. "What's your name, girl?"
"Fred. Well, Winifred Burkle," she told him, and after a moment, he nodded.
"Angel stayed here once, many years ago. It was but a few years after he was cursed with a soul. He had tried to continue living as a vampire, going back to the one that had sired him, but she could not forgive him for having a soul. He came here for a few years before going to America."
The slim brunette eyed the old tavern-keeper for several moments, then frowned. "You... You weren't around to remember him, were you?"
The man laughed, then shook his head. "No, no. My grandmother was the innkeeper then. I came here about fifteen years ago from London. You'll find that most of the witches and wizards that come here are visiting from London," he said, and Fred fought not to show a jolt of surprise at the words 'witches and wizards.' She knew that the man had said things about her not being magical, but somehow it hadn't clicked with her that this particular place was full of individuals that were *all* magical. It was more than a little unsettling, especially when her own experiences of magic hadn't extended much beyond accidentally opening a portal or helping Angel's friend Willow cleanse the area or whatever for the spell to re-ensoul Angel last year... Which was another thing she was a bit blurry on.
Shaking her head to get rid of the thoughts, Fred forced a smile. "Oh, well, that's nice," she said, hoping that was an appropriate response to discovering that most of the supernatural beings in the tavern happened to be from London - and were therefore probably English-speaking.
The tavern-keeper nodded, glancing over as the witch he'd sent upstairs to get room seven ready came back down the stairs. "Your room is ready now. Up the stairs, fourth door on the left," he told her, waving a piece of wood that Fred belatedly realized was a magic wand in the air and muttering something that made a key appear in mid-air. He handed the key to her and smiled a toothless grin. "Here you are. I can have someone take you to Gringott's tomorrow to exchange your Muggle money for wizarding money," he told her, and though Fred didn't exactly understand what he was talking about, she nodded.
"That would be nice. I, uh, I think I'll go up to my room now," she said, and the man nodded again.
"You do that. Oh, and Miss Burkle? Welcome to Romania."
End Part Two