Not a lot. I am still on Chapter 11. But I finished part of a chapter.
And now, back to AQATLB.
Chapter 2 — The Special Inquisitor
Alexandra spends a few moments in confusion, but it doesn't take her long to realize something is "off" about Ms. Grimm. She's not easily fooled. Easily manipulated because her buttons are easy to push, yes, but she notices things and she remembers things.
Alexandra's eyes narrowed. "You're Diana Grimm," she said slowly.
I enjoyed introducing Diana Grimm. She's mean with layers. I wanted her to seem all smiles and sharp edges, as ominous as her sister but without the occasional hints of sentimentality. More duty-focused, and far less forgiving. In book four, we learn that Diana Alecto Grimm is, in her own way, looking out for her niece as well, but I gave a strong hint here (and again at the beginning of book three): yes, Diana is a bitch to Alex, but she knows pretty much everything Alexandra is up to, and yet somehow Alexandra never gets busted for it.
"Dean Grimm didn't tell me you were twins."
Grimm's smile widened. "Well, why should she?" She looked around. "It's lunchtime. Why don't we get something to eat? My treat."
Isn't it ironic that Abraham Thorn deflects Alexandra with this same sort of weasel-wording? Like her sister, Diana (usually) does not quite lie to Alexandra, but she's often not quite telling the truth.
I meant this entire scene to read as a verbal duel, a battle of wits, between Alexandra and Diana Grimm — one in which Alexandra is hopelessly out of her league, of course, because she's still only twelve. But she's trying to learn from the masters, and one of these days, a lot of adults are going to discover that Alexandra is too clever a pupil.
"Like I told the Governor-General," Alexandra answered, once the waitress had laid their bill on the table and left, "I've never even met my father." She picked up some fries and put them in her mouth.
"And he's still made no attempt to contact you?" Grimm repeated, leaning forward a little, to stare unnervingly at her.
"No." Alexandra lied shamelessly, meeting the other woman's eyes without blinking.
Like here; she was doing okay when she tried to dissemble, until she outright lied. Now, of course Diana already knew everything, but even if she hadn't, the Special Inquisitor was using Jedi Mind Tricks on Alexandra — Legilimency and other things.
Grimm's gray eyes, so much like her sister's, regarded Alexandra, but there was sympathy there, something Alexandra rarely saw from the Dean. "I see," she said quietly. "It must be very difficult, living among Muggles, and not being able to talk about the wizarding world. And your mother can't give you any answers." She nodded. "I understand, Alexandra, I really do. That must be very hard for you, and you're at the age where you need to talk about these things. I can't tell you what to do about your mother, but from my observations, she and your stepfather have taken good care of you, and haven't exactly stifled you. Maybe you should consider talking to your mother, about everything. Including your father."
Alexandra found herself nodding along, for a moment. All her previous efforts to extract information about her father from her mother had hit a brick wall; her mother simply refused to discuss it. But that had been before Alexandra found out she was a witch, and then learned who her father was. Maybe she should just tell her mother everything, and make her deal with it. And then get the answers she wanted –
Her eyes narrowed, and her hands clenched into fists. "And then tell you anything she tells me, I suppose?" There was an angry tremor in her voice. That's what this was about, she realized. Just another way to use her to get to her father!
It wasn't a fair contest at all, and yet, Alexandra manages to throw off Diana's first attempt to mess with her. Not that Diana was trying that hard. She's taking her measure of Alex, of her niece. And giving her a warning as well.
"A very useful spell," Grimm observed mildly. "You'll probably learn it this year at school." She tucked her wand back into her shirt somewhere, and pulled out a wallet, from which she withdrew a couple of bills. She laid them on the table. "Well, I have to run – I do have other 'cases,' as you put it – but this will cover the bill, and a tip, and a sundae for you, so feel free to stay and have dessert. Until next time, Alexandra."
Diana Grimm rose from the table, and sauntered out of the diner, leaving Alexandra still staring at the reassembled bill, her mouth dry. She didn't feel like having a sundae.
Alexandra thought Diana was just saying, "I'm watching you. You can't get away with anything."
Three books later, she still hasn't quite realized that Diana was saying, "I'm watching you. Be careful."