April 13th, 2098

16:48:54 Porthman ’s schedule was tight. With work, home life, and dicking around with his sudden surge of friends, he had a very small window to take advantage of each day to move plans forward. There were big changes over the horizon for Meredith Porthman. He’d taken a large hit to his savings and veritably signed the last thirty years of his life away yet here he was – shopping: a-fucking-gain. He’d purchased a few new things he needed at a Muggle arcade thereafter, his adventures took him to a Wizard-friendly venue by way of apparition. Unlike his prior visits, Porthman did not choose to walk the popular venue. When he appeared, it was to the specialty shops and typically unsavory patrons of Knockturn Alley. His manner here was somewhat different than it had been during his visit to the bank (where they had practically paraded down the street as if they were seeing the titular Wizard of Oz) – Meredith was confident in his gait and acutely interested in everything going on around him while he drifted to his destination.

17:17:51 [Kaust] It wasn’t her intention to cause any issues, she’d only come to the area for a simple ingredient in a potion she had no hope of creating but with the metaphysical pressure of an influence beyond her control she was bound to get into an altercation from her foul mood alone. Certainly the male that had bumped into her at the betting shop hadn’t meant to be so discourteous and had this been any other time she’s sure he might not have drunkenly shoved her in preparation to waste his money. Yet, she wasn’t able to wrap a leash around her ragenot this close, much to closeand that was how it had turned out this way with the door to the shop whipping back from the force of the male that had tumbled back into it. With a splat he landed flat on his back, his clothing somewhat ripped due to the obvious manhandling he’d received within the betting shop (its owner somewhat startled and shrill in his demand for the offending parties to leave). It wouldn’t take long for Kaust to follow though, her face twistedin a semblance of disgust and grotesque insult, her lips pulled back to reveal teeth as what rumbled from her chest seemed inhuman and impossible for someone of her size and structure to make. Fingertips twitched as the male backed up and her wrinkled stained clothing (of white polo and slacks) seemed to be in much better shape than that of the male she had accosted. Granted her glasses were askew and that german hat somewhat tilted upon wild hair. Yet really, it’s not so much her unkempt appearance that made the drunken wizard crab walk and skitter back from her ominous approach but the wild look that danced in the depths of those normally cloudy eyes. She was gonna hurt ‘em good.

17:18:14 [Xia] For once Xia wasn't as loudly colored as usual. Her hair was still lilac, which while eyecatching wasn't painful or too attention drawing. She wasn't even wearing as loud of colors as usual, in a pair of dark blue (almost black) jeans and a gray t-shirt (which featured some neons colors and a band logo for some local wizard band). The only real spark of color was the bright red jacket she wore, similar in style to a "letterman jacket" from the states (because PC isn't sure if that's a thing in Britain). Also her shoes. Which were bright red tennis shoes. She looked comfy, and while a bit colorful, certainly not as much as usual. Knockturn alley wasn't her USUAL place to hang out, being dark and dingy and unpleasant by comparison to the rest of Diagon Alley…but it did have the pygmy puff nest, which was what she wanted to check on. It was easy to say that plenty of people had also seen her head off down the alley, so anyone could have followed her as she made her way for the appropriate storefront. Upon arrival, however, she looked crestfallen. The pygmy puff nest looked battered, as though someone had deliberately taken a bat to it (or a broomstick). A tuft of pygmy puff hair was the only thing left to signify the kind of nest it had been. "Oh noooo." She sounded extremely mournful as she scooped up some of the remains.

17:46:11 Huian ◙ “But I don’t need another set of scales, Tutor!.” The whining was something she had to get used to. Huian had never heard her sisters whine about anything, but of course, they wouldn’t, because their mother, and Baidao, treated whining as an intolerable…intolerability. Mikail was sweet, but his parents let him whine and badger when he was in a mood, and boy, was he in a mood. Her smile never wavered though, her eyes soft, her hand on his shoulder. (Apparently, he was under the impression that half melted scales [and how he had half melted them when they shouldn’t have been anywhere near the cauldron was a mystery she didn’t want to know] were usable when it came to being precise.) “Yes you do. You will understand, but I will replace the scales, and you are to learn how much your mistakes can hurt your wallet.” Her wallet. Ouch. They were nice scales too. Done was done though, and she guided the little mop haired boy down the Alley. People gave a second glance, but it was probably more the fact she was the girl that had burst out in groups into song for two days straight than he fact she was a Chinese woman with a British boy marching with her.. Hair in a nice French plait, a simple purple dress hat fell to her knees with white lace capping the sleeves…and the black military styled boots. Well. Mikail like to step on her feet…like right there. ◙

17:50:57 [Porthman] The trouble with Knockturn Alley, Meredith found, was not in its specialties, shops, and wares, but in the quality of the people who often loitered there. It was no surprise that he came across the sure sound of a scuffle. Even less of a surprise was the location at which the disturbance was occurring - gambling was a passionate sport all of its own. What was somewhat surprising (at least to the point where Mop took personal interest – if not a moment of hesitation to gather his breath) was the woman perpetuating the violence. This wasn’t what he wanted to do. This could have been such an easy trip—in, out, and on his way—but no. Now he was morally committed to do something about the issue unfolding in the alley in front of him. “Oi!” The auror chimed, removing his hands from his jacket as he closed in with measured steps. “There a problem?” Mop’s attention flipped back and forth between the man on the ground and Kaust – who was far too frightfully familiar. “Let the bloke be—he’s already shat himself.” He tried in a manner that didn’t imply a threat, but a joke – airy and whimsical. The only distraction from his quest came when he started accounting for the other observers in the lesser-travelled alley – one in particular earned a twice-over he didn’t really care to spend time on (but did it all the same): what was Xia doing down here?

18:06:38 [Kaust] Lips gave a twitch before they pulled up into an all too familiar grin, one normally reserved for those who had seen it all those years ago, off center and perverse with flick of black stained tongue she looked quite the monster hovering over that poor lad. It was right when she was pushing fist into open palm in preparation for a strike (and savoring the moment right before impact) that a voice struck her. “Huh…” The tide of excitement and out of control aggression that had once swept away her rationality began to recede, if a little… but she still felt on edge, restless and barely aware of what little moral fiber she was trying to hold onto. Slowly those shifting eyes lifted from her current victim to the approaching Mop. Sweat meaty Mop. She took a deep breath and held it, trying to focus on anything other than the boiling energy that coiled in her chest, it gave the male she was torturing enough time to scatter and for Kaust to whisper out a rough and hoarse sounding, “Guten tag..” So dizzy.

18:23:53 [Xia] She had been unaware of the scuffle breaking out behind her, far too focused on the devastation of the pygmy puff nest to fully consider the rest of her surroundings. It was only when Mop came in to break things up that she started to turn, her eyebrows rising slowly and her lips parting in surprise. People she knew! In Knockturn Alley! She considered, for a moment, whether she should say hello or leave them to their own devices. This was one of those moments where her utter disappointment sapped some of her happy-go-lucky excitement. She was not the usual bustling ball of energy, and that was probably more than evident for at least a moment before she pulled herself together and smiled brightly at Mop and Kaust. She lifted her hand to them but didn't approach. Instead she turned, pulled her wand from it's "holster" and vanished the reminder of the pygmy puff nest. So sad.

18:38:42 Huian ◙ As her luck would have it…the last set of scales with the particular alloy she needed were sold out in Diagon Alley. Huian let out a frustrated sigh, but continued to smile, even after being told that they could floo the sister store in Knockturn Alley and see if they had it. (Turns out they did, and would hold it for her until she got there.) But traversing the Alley with an eight year old was proving difficult. Mostly because she was holding onto the back of his shirt in case he felt the notion to dart for some interesting thing, and because she didn’t know her way around this part well, and was constantly stopping to get a good look at the store faces. This was more exhausting than she thought, her free hand coming up to rub the jade beads around her neck, before adjusting the strap to her bag over her shoulder. And several things happened at once. Mikail saw something she didn’t and let out a whoop, darting against her grip on his shirt as a woman carrying a cauldron full of supplies bumped into Huian and broke her grip on the kid. He disappeared in the crowd, and she was hot on his tail…lucky for him…or unlucky, he had run full force into Fraulein Kaust. Unlucky because the lady seemed a bit grumpy today, but lucky because Huian was there a few moments later, hauling him to his feet and swatting him sharply across the head. “Are you a fool?!” (But for those few moments, poor kid was alone.) ◙

18:52:29 [Porthman] Xia – though he would have extended a polite greeting in any other situation – was a distraction (albeit much muted in her color scheme today) that Mop did his best to push to the peripheral in favor of focusing on Kaust (the immediate threat to at least one man’s dignity). Despite achieving his goal, he couldn’t help the sliver of anxiety that crept into his beating heart when the battered guy ran for freedom and Kaust turned to focus her attention on him. Mop let his little heart race as it would and was summoning the appropriate response to a German pleasantry when a force outside of his control came blasting in to displace his quiet tension. Disarmed by the collide and the familiar face that was hot on the boy’s tail, Mop watched, undeniably leery in his expression and for once, without anything to say.

19:18:34 [Kaust] With pounding heart she turned toward the male, who seemed a tad nervous… Nostrils flared again and she gave him an awkward smile still a little on edge but much less growly. Maybe it was because Mop was an associate, they had drinks together! So… so that made them friends right? Kaust so desperately needed friends too, the therapist had said so! Wringing her shaky hands she stepped a bit closer, the door to the betting shop slamming shut behind her. “S-sorry, Herr Porthman I just” Can’t control myself, “-had a small altercation. I… I am not like that anymore, really. D-du not tell anyone.” And soon company had arrived in the form of Xia which makes her smile all the more, that is until she’s hit with the small child which makes her tense up and grind her teeth all over again. Gratefully though the child is pulled back and for a moment Kaust has to catch her breath. She’s not… exactly… allowed around children and all of a sudden she’s terrified.

20:00:25 Huian ◙ Mikail didn’t mind so much being swatted on the head. Huian did it often when she was worried, and she’s been his tutor for a year now (It was honestly like glorified nannying, with his family and how often he was in her care, but ten galleons an hour was ten galleons an hour, and he was stuck with her for five hours a day, four days a week.) Instead, as she patted the dust and dirt from his clothes, stare up at Kaust in wonder…and hero worship. Of course. Little boys loved Quidditch, didn’t they? “You’re Hayden Kaust!” Oh dear. Just shout that, you little anklebiter. Huian looked up finally, blinking and then her yes slid to…Xia…and Mop, her hand squeezing on the back of Mikail’s neck. He didn’t take the hint. “You play for the German pro league and nation team! The Hindenburg Hellbirds! I’m Mikail Burnrex! Can you sign something for me please can you sign my head I have….Tutor Lee, do you have a pen or a marker? I want Hayden Kaust to sign my head!” Oh…dear. ◙

20:33:11 [Porthman] The sudden change in Kaust’s demeanor made Meredith uneasy. The woman’s pleading caused him only to become further guarded. There was a dreadful series of events about to unfold before his eyes and before it happened, he had to intervene. So, intervene he did! Mop greeted Huian with a smile—it was that deceptive smile that parents use to shield their children from horrific events and the sort that told peers ‘I’m uncomfortable with this situation and you should be too’. He made the decision, after injecting himself directly between the prying child and the Quidditch star, to turn his back to the latter. The choice was not as easy as he made it look. “Oiii,” he crooned down to the exuberant child in their midst. “Mikail, was it?” Mop asked while he crouched to get on the kid’s level (and physically block him while Huian had him by the neck). “Hey Mikail, Ms. Kaust is tired and isn’t giving autographs right now. BUT— if you behave” he took on a quasi-serious note with his expression “and I mean really—behave for Ms. Lee, I’ll make sure you get that signature.” Meredith lingered on level with the kid for a while longer – just to see his reaction – before he rose back up to full height. He searched Huian first and then cast a glance askance toward the popular Beater.

20:53:15 [Kaust] Easy… easy. Her heart gave an uneasy pound and her expression shifted from fear to downright discomfort. Granted she kept her head tilted up in an attempt not to let the child see. She’s not allowed to be around children, least not without supervision. Yet the team wasn’t here, just Mop and his friends and she’s not sure they are qualified and she’s so so so not wanting to get in trouble! Yet Mop is there, there to step between them as she rubs a hand across a sweat slick forehead. Mop is speaking with the child and Kaust will turn her gaze to the pair with them, but with his back to her she’ll dig around in her leather jacket, ignoring her flask in favor of a small magical card. When he looks toward her she gives off a tired smile, back in control but feeling bad for the child. “J-jah I.. I can, it’s okay.” With the card now flipped over she’ll take a quill from her jacket and set upon the card, scribbling out a hasty signature. She had to show these people she was sane, to do otherwise would make them… weird around her. She desperately needed the normality. With the card finished she’d hand it to Mop and he might note that it’s one of those older cards, a young-adult Kaust with longer hair and proud smirk older card infact. What a rare treat!

20:59:36 Huian ◙ That smile was returned. Funny how much a smile could say and she coughed into her free hand to pull Mikail back a bit as Mop settled in front of him. For a moment, the boy was looking around him at Kaust, before looking the man straight in the eye, almost defiantly. He wanted an autograph. His brother would never believe he met Hayden Kaust without proof. Huian, on the other hand, was completely apologetic, and gestured at the boy sheepishly, as if in apology for his exuberance, but she was truthfully very off put by the entire situation, and bent a bit, ruffling the boy’s hair as he opened his mouth to say something along the lines of ‘How do I know you’re not gonna keep the autograph for yourself, mister’. “This is my friend Mop. He and I went to school together, and he’s right. What you did was rude, and if you’re very good for the rest of the day, I won’t tell your mother.” He looked a bit panicked, and then crestfallen, but the ever sharp kid had seen the scribbling and heard the ‘I can.’ “Tutor Lee, look, look she signed!.” Oh…dear. Her hand reached for the card from Mop, and when it was taken, because it should not be handed to Mikail, she’d hold it above his head. “You’ll get this before you go home, Mikail. I’ll buy you a protector for it and everything, alright?” This was a defused situation. Go Kaust! See, you can function! ◙

21:19:15 Porthman beams an impressive smile when Huian introduces him as a ‘friend’. No matter how many acquaintances he had, it was always nice to hear someone use the word—his least guilty pleasure. “Well! Brilliant! Everyone gets what they like.” Porthman cheered and clasped his hands together. “Huian, always good to see you.” He was finally able to greet before he looked back around the alley (which was eerily quiet now) for Xia. When he wasn’t met with any kind of result, he drew in a breath through his teeth and urged this convention further apart. “I’d hate to steal her from you, Mikail,” Mop’s attention went to the boy as he turned his chin down. “But I think Ms. Kaust and I should be on our way.” The auror’s eyes turned sharp again as he turned to face their famous associate. “Aye?” He asked in a single syllable – this time his tone did imply something of a threat.

21:32:48 Kaust hadn’t expected to feel this way… In the past she had certainly disliked children (to an amazingly violent degree) but here, perhaps without the immediate press of outside influence she felt somewhat pleased by her act of kindness. People smiling around her, genuinely and happily… that wasn’t normal. She wanted more of that… but Mop had other plans. Nervously she shifted sweaty palms to rub at her wrinkled stained clothing, her stomach suddenly set to growl obnoxiously—how embarrassing. “J-jah, much work.” This was so unusual, Mop’s tone bore very little room for disagreement and she found herself easily folding from it but more than that she felt as if their role had been reversed. Just a few years ago it would have been her standing tall and confident, dominant in order and demand. It was almost enough to keep her from falling into his ploy but ultimately, with a slight glance toward the child she bowed under that unspoken threat. She… she couldn’t stay, but for good reason. She couldn’t fault for that. ”Goodbye Mikail.” She spoke a bit more clearly, trying to make sure she didn’t flub up his name with her accident.

22:01:56 Huian ◙ Mikail about burst from happiness. “I LOVE YOU HAYDEN KAUST!” Was heard as Huian dragged them into the shop she needed to head to anyway, and yes, the little boy looked like he had a huge hero crush. Oh dear. ◙

22:15:39 [Porthman] Once Huian was out of sight with the boy, Meredith was much less spikey. His shoulders relaxed under the weight of his jacket when he turned a new page. “So,” Mop started, now that he and Kaust were (relatively) alone in the bleak alley. “What the-bloody-fuck-wit was that about?” His hand thrust back to generally insist upon the place Kaust’s previous victim had crawled to. “Staying out of trouble, aye? I can see that. First, you nearly lay a server flat out and now you’re attacking people on the street?” Mop held a disappointed quality in his expression and his tone. “Go home, Kaust.” He all but shooed the woman off.

22:29:47 [Kaust] Finally they were alone and while Kaust had no initiate idea of the disappointment Mop held she knew for a fact that he had wanted her away from the child. Whatever for? For once she’d felt somewhat nice about herself, her position and the destruction of her image somewhat slowed by the kind words of the child they have departed from. Love. He’d said he loved her, perhaps in that childish sense… and yet it still felt nice to be admired, to do something charitable… Much like the night before with the drinking and singing she was somewhat floating on the general good will and interactions of other persons. That is, until Mop decides to lecture her. In her current state she seems easy enough to cut into, her expression that had been somewhat relaxed now closed off as muscles grew tense and teeth ground loudly against one another. There’s something else there though, something seen in the twitch of her eye and the flex of her fist. The fire is back, a slow coil in her belly that collects in her rapidly beating heart begging for some sort of release and all to soon Mop might find himself the victim of a gaze ablaze with something beyond the normal clouds that engulfed them. There’s barely chained back fury in that gaze, an emotion meant to smoother her own hurt and disappointment, a chilling hatred for the world around her that seemed so dismissive and uncaring. Rip it all to shreds, flay them all. She’d not be treated like a child, she got enough of that from the therapist and much more from the parole officer. She wouldn’t let this child, this boy, ruin her feelings—-she couldn’t, she desperately needed that normality. She’s not going anywhere. With ragged pants she released a soft laugh, low and ominous, perhaps familiar in method and execution. “Du know nothing, Herr Meredith Porthman.” She wheezed, somewhat sharp canines on display for the boy as she stepped closer. Mop mustn’t forget his place, that small voice hissed, she mustn’t be overruled, mustn’t let him ruin her stability even though she was anything but. “Herr Meredith Porthman, did du know vhat he did to me?” Hands shook as they remained at her side but for all intents and purposes she wanted to hurt him and the strain is on her face. Never dance with a caged up tiger the bars are always loose. “How about du come then, make sure I go home… jah?” And now face splits into crazed smile, “Du don’t know meine pain, du don’t understand dis madness. Und yet du dare tell me vhat to do?” A snarl, vicious and deep, the sound of a monster. Yet even as she stalked him she felt pain, pain for being treated in such a way, pain for the loss of so many years and the burden of corruption she carried. Maybe hurting others would show how she felt… yes yes, maybe hurting Mop again would help him understand? “L-let me show du.” Croak.

22:34:12 [Iwamura] Something stirred in Mop's moppish mop of hair. And then a pair of small, mousy ears and a pink mousy nose popped up. Then, more of the mouse that was clearly just a mouse and not anything else became visible, as it shuffled about, stretched, and yawned. Wiggled its whiskers. Yes, Meredith Porthman's backup was fearsome and dangerous indeed - everyone knows not to mess with a wizard with a sleeping mouse in his hair! That level of devil-may-care, I don't know where I slept last night confidence… it just drips with the sort of behavior of the truly mighty among wizard-kind. Curiously, the mouse scrambled down from Mop's hair to a perch on his left shoulder, examining the woman he spoke to. Clearly, this brave and fearsome mouse was not afraid of the terror of a woman known as Hayden Kaust… her sharp teeth and black tongue and history of vile darkness had no effect at all upon its strikingly handsome mousy countenance! Had the great leaders of ages past gone into battle with so noble a mouse as Mop now sported, why, the Prussians and English would've left Revolutionary France alone, thus never instigating the Napoleonic Wars. (And Europe would probably be worse off, without the Code Civil, but we digress.) Point is, this was a super awesome mouse. Also, it was very small. Harvest mice usually are. No longer than a typical man's thumb. Save for the tail, which was at least twice the length of the body. Oh, such a magnificent tail it was!

23:10:00 Porthman paid little visible attention to his passenger as he stirred and took up a perch on the devil’s shoulder. He couldn’t really afford to stir as Kaust drew closer, but was more gracious than he could ever convey to have the company. It took great measure to retain an outward expression of calm when his heart was racing. “I want you to stay out of trouble.” He reiterated, coolly, while he made steady effort to conceal a tentative reach toward his holster. “I am trying to help you. Go home, Kaust.” Mop demanded, repeating himself again before he thought to plant an addition this time around. “Calm down. Stay out of trouble.” Kaust’s predatory body language was not missed and for a moment, he wondered if he stayed his hand because he truly didn’t want to cause her harm—or if it was some kind of crippling anxiety. He decided to test it, as long as his hanger-on stayed a hanger-on: “I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to try and force you to do anything. There’s no need, aye? Because you don’t want to hurt me.” Porthman took a step to the side and drifted backward to steal some of the buffer between them that Kaust had tried to extinguish. An inappropriate thought drifted through the back of his head where the Id took up space: Kaust should try art—she’d be a great artist now that she was wracked with pain. Fortunately, the Ego kept the Id in line and he continued with his point for as long as he could: “you’re right, I don’t know what happened to you. I do know what you did to me and I hate it – every day – but Idon’t hate you.” Mop took another pause to reclaim more space stolen when the Tiger stalked. “I’m not going to ‘make you’ go – but I would like you to go before you do something you will regret.” There was no threat in his voice; there was carefully-guarded pain.

23:26:21 [Kaust] Fingertips twitched once more and she caught every moment, her senses sharpened and her body tense just begging her to leap into action, to do something bad. That was so much easier really, to be bad, to act the way people expected her to act. Being good was just too painful, exhausting, and nobody believed the sincerity of the work. It was those thoughts and more knocking about in her head while Mop spoke and she tried, she tried hard to believe what he said—she wanted to believe what he said—but he was a liar after all and no amount of carving into his back (which he brought up, which certainly made her face screw up in pain at the memory) could have possibly changed that. Another step as she watched him before her attention wavered, shifting not to the boy but to the mouse on his shoulder. She’d seen it last night, knew the scent well enough to know who it was. Herr Iwamura… were they here to ambush here?! Paranoia swept over, suffocating and powerful and she actually backed up feeling cornered. She had a new life now, just as horrible as being a puppet but more tolerable and less soul damaging. She couldn’t let these… these children lead her to ruin. Instead of growing calm she was becoming increasingly agitated, narrowed gaze behind crooked glasses looking everywhere but at the cautious pair in front of her. She rubbed her scarred arms for a moment, trying to think past the whirlwind of scrambled emotions. She should have drank before she left, everything was always easier when she was drunk. Oh, oh! That was it! “R-right.” She said, staring toward the exit, making sure to keep backing up. His last phrase still knocked about in her head but she knew the truth, everyone hated her. “O-of course.” But one thing is certain, she wouldn’t hurt anyone if she left, that much was correct. “I vill go.” Always alone. Then without another word she turned to stalk away.

23:40:03 [Iwamura] The mouse (that was totally just a mouse and nothing more, seriously bros, why you always so suspicious of the mouse) tilted its head when Kaust locked her eyes on it, lifted its forepaws, curled its tail, and proceeded to squeak. That fearsome and noble battle cry clearly set off a panic and uncertainty in the formerly villainous Headmistress, and Kaust scrambled over her words until she found the right ones to make a quick retreat with. Three cheers for the mouse, bravest of the brave! The mouse (that totally wasn't Izzy, gawd guys) then snuffed at the air lightly, turned its attention towards Mop, as though it was perhaps expecting a treat for its noble service to his cause, and waited. After a second or two of waiting produced no treats worth noting, Not Izzy Mouse took a quick leap and scrambled back to the top of Mop's head, where it proceeded to nest once again in the ungodly mess of hair. That, sirs, was how you won a battle - bravery and valor most profound. Along with a furious battle cry.

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