April 15th, 2098

15:09:15 [Gloriana] Crack! Gloriana appeared on the muddy gravel path that led to a stone cottage that looked… quaint was the kindest word she could think to use. With a sigh and a worried sneer, she walked to the front door. She didn’t bother knocking or waiting for Mop to recognize the telltale warning of her arrival by apparition, just walked right in. “So, I’m only going to this Conclave business because you’re practically dragging me. I bloody hate crowds. And I hate all of these stupid reunions with classmates. It’s ridiculous and I thought you ought to know that before we scampered off to Oz,“ she said, ignoring the whole idea of a friendly greeting. She didn’t even look to find him, just pulled her bag over her head and unfastened the stylish cape that clung to her shoulders.

15:28:05 [Porthman] Gloriana got an earful when she entered the cottage without approval. Bobby – the slim terrier with more muscles than brains in that wide, domed skull rushed to the door in a mess of scratching and scrambling to bay up the intruder in a manner that said ‘I just woke up from a nap and I have no idea what I’m barking at’. A snickering cackle came from the bookshelf and the ruffled puffin that had decided to nest there. Bobby’s concern was extinguished by the time he realized that Gloriana was a familiar face and slowly, his stiff warning turned into a full-body wiggle-wag that ended with the dog running off to grab one of Mop’s shoes to proudly parade around their visitor. Needless to say, Mop knew his friend had arrived by her herald – but if he hadn’t been able to recognize the telltale sound, Bobby would have done a great job. By the time Gloriana is finished dropping the weight from her shoulders, Mop was leaning over his knees on one of the chairs littered near the fireplace, half-dressed (a wife beater didn’t count as dressed in his book – but at least he’d put on pants and boots) and resting his chin on his knuckles. “Didn’t even knock.” He complained, as if he were actually offended. The farce was short-lived if it had any life at all and ended with the Welshman pressing his fist hard to one side of his jaw to simultaneously take care of cracking his knuckles and his spine.

15:48:01 [Gloriana] Bobby and Al’s greeting antics were, as usual, disregarded. The excitement finally died down and Gloriana placed her things on the nearest surface that wasn’t the floor. “Knocking is overrated. Besides, you apparate into my apartment all the time. It’s a wonder you haven’t popped in on me naked after a shower or something,“ she commented idly. The words had slid from her mind to her lips and out before she could think through the remark. Her cheeks grew hot, and she ignored the memory that followed. “Anyway…“ she turned to finally lay eyes on Mop. She noticed his state of undress and quirked an eyebrow curiously at the sight. “You’re not even dressed!“ Gloriana feigned disbelief, but who was she kidding? This was Merry, after all. “I have to dress you too, now, do I? Great Merlin’s beard, I’ve befriended a small child,“ she teased. Closing the space between them, Glori noticed something on his shoulder. Her eyes narrowed to scrutinize it and her fingers rose before she could stop herself. They drifted lightly over the area and the scarred words emblazoned with the irritated red of lacerated skin. “What’s this?“ It was plain that she was curious, but a touch of concern tinted her voice.

16:07:18 Porthman could only believe the problem with Gloriana buzzing into his house was that she was much more likely to see him naked than he was (or so he’d wager) to see her likewise. It wouldn’t be too much of a problem (at least, for him) if not for Gloriana’s impending embarrassment and the secrets he’d rather keep secret. “Scars.” He replied dully. “Muggles have a long history of scarring their bodies ritualistically, did you know? Some of it’s pretty interesting. People from all over time…” Mop used his time to stand from his seat and go for the folded clothes on the other side of the room. “And all over the world.” He intended very well to pull the first tee from the top, pull it on, and be done with it. If he finished his task, he’d give a dose more: “don’t worry’bouddit.” Meredith cracked a grin, renewed his energy, and changed the topic (or made an attempt). “Look, see: dressed!”

16:13:52 [Gloriana] Her eyebrows knit together at his abrupt reply. “Don’t give me that shit.“ Glori didn’t allow him the satisfaction of even brushing past her to grab his shirt. She caught him by the arm and spun him around to face her. “That’s recent… Now what the hell is that?“ As if he’d ever get away with being so brief with someone like Gloriana. Her grasp on his arm held until he wrenched himself free, but it wasn’t a forgiving hold, either. She wanted answers.

16:29:43 [Porthman] “Gloriana.” It wasn’t common Mop take such a rigid tone with—well, anyone, much less a close friend. “I’m fine.” His words were clipped, quick, and absolute. “It’s just a scar.” Mop repeated himself as though the more he said it, the more she’d believe it—and she well should. “I don’t want to talk about it right now.” He explained—but really, what he meant was ‘I don’t want to talk about it, ever’. It was evident in his expression, his freeze under Gloriana’s hand, and if she hadn’t inferred it from his tone, she may as well have been deaf. Dropping it would be for the better, lest his answers not be the ones she’s looking to hear. Meredith certainly couldn’t expect her Gloriana to actually acquiesce to his demands, but he could absolutely hope she’d drop the subject when her friend explicitly showed nothing but contempt. “Can I get dressed now?” Mop’s tone returned to something more pleasant and familiar. “I can't really be late.”

16:35:52 [Gloriana] “Fine.“ Her eyebrows were still glued together at the crease above her nose, “But if you don’t see to it, you’re going to have a nasty infection.“ She let go of his arm, rather forcefully, and stared up at him a moment more — as if to say, ‘I don’t like you hiding things from me.’ Withholding was tantamount to lying, and maybe even betrayal, in Gloriana’s book. She finally broke the mutually icy gaze between them and turned to sit by the fire in silence, content to quietly sulk for the rest of the day if she had to.

16:52:47 Porthman finished what he set out to do in the first place. He had to hold his tongue when a bubble of a thought threatened to spill out. Thereafter – with only the shortest dither – Meredith put distance between them to match the chasm of silence. He broke it once he was finished tugging the topmost tee over his head and shoulders. In the meanwhile, Bobby recognized Gloriana’s new prone position and wiggled his way back across the room (with a more appropriately chewed-up rope) to bash his head affectionately into Gloriana’s legs. “So what are your plans after Conclave? You’ll be coming around, aye? I have some rubbish to do at the office today, but it shouldn’t” in theory “take too much time.” Mop was eager to move away from the silence, the grief, and the pouting to get back into gear.

17:06:33 [Gloriana] She wanted to stay angry, to be the proverbial rain on his parade, but Bobby’s affection came in a moment of vulnerability and she found herself scratching him behind the ears. Mop’s inquiry was met with a shrug, “I thought we were going together. But I may as well not go at all. Fairs are stupid anyway.“ She was intent on being a wet blanket. Moping was something she had perfected rather well over the years. And, well, it was true that she didn’t really want to go to the Conclave. Mop had been so intent, and she had protested more than a dozen times, but agreed to it anyway since she’d have nothing better to really do. Now, that was all shot to hell. She didn’t much feel like going now. So used to being the scolder, never the scoldee, she didn’t take very well to Mop’s curt attitude.

17:21:13 [Porthman] “Oh please.” Mop gave a rather dramatic exhale to Gloriana’s pouting. “We are going together. I’m just saying that I need to get a little bit of work done between opening ceremonies and the events. Cheer up, dark-and-stormy.” While Gloriana hadn’t gotten over their previous nigh-spat, Meredith barely looked effected anymore. Why would he be? He’d taken what he’d wanted, after all. He continued to go about dressing himself—April was still a bit chilly and deserved at least an outer layer. Mop found his in the form of an old loose-knit cardigan. He continued to straighten himself out and adjust the heavy collar on his neck. “But I won’t stop you if you’d like to sit and pout in silence. Whatever makes you happy, mate.” The final touch on Mop’s wardrobe were his staples hanging from a peg near his jacket: a cross and an obnoxiously colored pin went into his pocket; the dark rosary went over his head and tucked into his shirts. “So?”

17:35:44 [Gloriana] “Hmph,“ was her only reply to Mop’s mildly sardonic remarks. She continued to pet Bobby, who took to wagging his tail frantically and finally rolling to expose his belly. Gloriana rolled her eyes, “You’re such a spoiled little brat,“ she murmured to the too-happy Bull Terrier. Mop’s feet gave notice before the rest of him did, shuffling into her peripheral. So? She glanced up at him, still sullen, and spotted a long thread dangling from his jumper. Glori shook her head and reached for her wand, “You’re a right mess.“ — and exorcised the offending strand. She sighed and rose to her feet, leaving Bobby to roll clumsily back onto his paws and stand with her. “I s’pose I’ll meet you there,“ she said sheepishly.

19:26:43 [Porthman] “Heh,” was the only noise Mop made to express his undying gratitude when Gloriana removed an errant thread from his person via a veritable flick of her wrist. He spent his time, instead, grabbing the finishing touch – and essential item – of any wardrobe from the same hooks his jewelry and jacket resided: his holster—but more importantly, the wand within it (because really, who just wears a holster). It was a simple, strappy side-affair, but like anything quintessentially ‘Mop’, it wasn’t without an idiosyncrasy (and most important part!): a simple golden ring resting where the wand met its sheath. “I suppose we shall.” Meredith agreed as though he would leave in the instant… only to walk over to open up one window and lift the screen – and leave it that way. “Meet you on Diagon?”

19:42:39 [Gloriana] She nodded, glancing to the window. It took some restraint not to chide him for leaving the window open, but when she thought about it… it might be better for Al’s sake. Her cape was replaced around her shoulders and her bag thereafter. “Diagon Alley,“ she repeated, pulling her hair out from under the strap. And as if she were directing herself to do so, the air around her sucked inward and that all-too-familiar Crack! sounded. Glori was gone to Diagon Alley. Maybe grab a cuppa at Liliput’s and hit up Tomes and Scrolls. She could use a bit of light reading, anyway.

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