April 16th, 2098

10:13:34 [Gloriana] About half of Noriko’s pledge to Hip was disregarded with deep thought, but a name sprung her loose from her mental binding. Mop. She popped her head up and stared at her bubbly companion. Flowers? Ran out on her? There was a part of her that felt… cheated, betrayed even. Mop hadn’t told her he went on a date with this Noriko girl. Why? Why do you care? The question slipped into the forefront of her thoughts before she could distract herself again. “Hm? Oh uhh… yeah, sure,“ Glori replied, only paying Noriko half (or less than that) the attention she deserved. The truth was, she wasn’t alright. What with Kaust unearthing some of Glori’s post-traumatic stress from the Battle at Hogwarts (Redux); Cyrus exhuming more of her personal demons than she’d like to admit to; and now Mop’s dating someone and not even telling her, it was a wonder Glori wasn’t headed home to shut herself up for the rest of the day… or the millennium. She thought of Mop again. She hated that they’d fought this morning; that he wasn’t here to defend her, to console her. Her arms wrapped tighter, still around her body until she was practically bent like a pretzel. “Right,“ was her only reply. Right… Her head lifted and she swallowed hard, “I… it…“ -what?- “I’ll see you all later.“ And she made her way out of Liliput’s. Wand-in-hand, she conjured the familiar silver image of a fox, whispered something to it, and sent it off to find Merry. Wherever it found him, all it said was: “I need you,“ in Gloriana’s desperate voice and made to lead him if he so chose to follow. She was suddenly gone from the front of Liliput’s and tucked away in an empty shop in Knockturn Alley with high hopes that her dearest friend would soon return to her and comfort away all the pain like he so often did (in one fashion or another).

11:08:01 Porthman was, for better or worse, eavesdropping throughout Katya and Kaust’s conversation and when Kaust was free once again, he sidled up to her. ‘Wicked; very nice.” The auror (and more importantly, Quidditch fan) commented as he hovered over her shoulder like Kaust’s palpable conscience. “I wouldn’t have pegged you for such a fangirl.” Mop teased and twisted away as though he’d leave her at that—but no, he couldn’t. He dithered and continued: “so,” he said breathily “I heard a mental report from Hogwarts down the vine. Kind of like… a ghost of a popular young Beater was flying around Hogwarts groun—ds…” A distraction hit him then – a foxy little messenger his expression twisted for when he tried to obfuscate any change of emotion in his face. Meredith slowly began to edge away from Kaust to push down Diagon toward a destination while baiting the woman-of-many-layers along behind him. “I don’t suppose you know anything about that, aye?”

11:35:33 [Kaust] Gah! Mop just about scared her to death! That time she did give off a small girly scream, one she cut off abruptly when she realized she’d been making it. Broom was slung back around back and card was quickly put up somewhere safe. She didn’t want to lose it or anything to take it. With a red flushed face she grunted at the male demon, this incubus Mop and rolled her shoulders back, trying to appear nonchalant but inwardly extremely giddy. “V-vell! Herr Porthman I… I had forgot du vur about. S-she ist so kind isn’t she?” She’d almost started gushing right then but she managed to control it. “She ist meine hero, I am major fan.” Without her she’d just be another slave to her family, to Katherine. “I uh..” She had expected him to leave then, they hadn’t departed on good terms last time but instead he began to… dig. She went tense for a moment, her face an expression of worry before he was distracted but obviously wanting to continue the conversation. Slowly she began to follow, a thousand different excuses and scenarios coming to mind. She even gave off a soft sound like a whine before clearing her throat. “O-oh? Sounds a bit scary. V-vell I mean, uh de-depending—that is, what did the ghost look like?” She’s following, granted a bit reluctant and 100% worried but for once there isn’t much aggression just concern.

11:48:01 Porthman cracked a wide grin and raised his arms above his head to rest his hands in a cradle behind his skull. He walked along like this, gently increasing his pace and urgency without allowing it to bleed into his conversation. “Splendid!” Mop agreed with Kaust’s summary of her conversation with the enigmatic Calico Katya. “She looked suspiciously like you—decades earlier.” Mop confessed to his easily strung-along tagalong as they walked. “But anyway—how funny is that? Hogwarts. Mental, aye?” Following Gloriana’s call, the pair were soon swinging around to Knockturn. “So, I don’t suppose you know anything about it, huh?” Meredith stopped in front of a familiar shop with any knick-knack you could possibly never want to look for. His eyes scanned over Half-Past Human as if he were trying to read something that eluded him. Mop turned to Kaust thereafter to make eye contact while he awaited her reply.

11:58:27 [Gloriana] The store was stuffy, but empty. And while she hated the idea of hiding out anywhere in Knockturn Alley, she figured it was the least crowded place to find herself in a time of need. Sniffing back an emotional breakdown, Glori looked over the wizardless shop and found herself cursing the idea of coming to such a filthy place, junk piled on top of other junk. It was like stepping into a muggle’s basement. Hurry, she silently begged Mop. Outside the cloudy windows, she saw a pair of shapes approach. Her heart skipped and she hid from view behind the counter. There were stray cigarette butts strewn about the floor and ashes every which way. She thought she might be sick. Of course, when she peered up to inspect the scene, it was Mop who stood outside…with Kaust. All disgust set aside, Glori collapsed against the filthy floor and tried to get a hold on a tremble that wouldn’t quit. She let go staccato breaths, eyes shut tight against all of the explosive emotions that came to mind when she thought of her day so far. Keep it together, Glori, she begged herself, inwardly. Kaust. That was all she needed to complete her day of horrors.

12:05:41 [Kaust] “L-like me?” With a thudding heart she followed behind Mop, subdued and docile but increasingly paranoid. Did he have the power to do anything about their actions? It had only been a bit of harmless fun but what if it somehow turned around that she was doing bad things again? She shook herself a bit, again like a frazzled dog before answering. “That seems a bit impossible doesn’t it? I mean I’m… ah… That woman must have been beautiful.” Granted she had been a lot healthier then, vibrant, happy, the sort of things like lovely women had. Surely Mop didn’t think it was someone like her? It’s only once they are before Half-Past Human that she has to think of an answer (she remembered this shop, she’d been here only a few nights before) and she might have answered Mop because it was hard to deny the evil gleam of his gaze but…. Something was off. She shifted her gaze from Mop to the shop. She thought she’d heard something—gotta love that sensitive hearing—“Hey did du… Are ve here for a reason? Somethin’ is going on in dere. Du should prob go see.” She stood on the porch, not making any move to enter. Ah, saved by circumstance.

12:15:57 [Alaric] He frantically packed his things. “God damnit, Jules,“ he cursed his friend. It was her arrival that threw him so spectacularly off course. He was days late getting himself together for his monthly trip to the woods (insert menstrual joke here). Alaric shoved some things into an olive green duffel and remembered his cigarettes were downstairs! That, and he heard something (with his sensitive hearing) moving around downstairs. Wait, had the bell not chimed? He furrowed his brow and moved to leave his flat, and his half-assed pack job, behind. His feet thudded against the wood as he made his way downstairs. Someone was sneaking around, and that was the one thing he couldn’t tolerate - even if he was the worst store owner in the wizarding world. He approached the girl, obviously too busy freaking out about something, and caught her by the arm. “Hey!“ He dragged her up to her feet, “What do you think you’re doing?“ He gave her a stern expression that said, ‘The fuck do you have to say for yourself?’ Well?

12:24:32 [Porthman] Despite his usual appearances, Mop let out a breathy, light laugh in response to Kaust’s waylay of an answer. “Aye. I’m here for a reason.” He admitted – surprisingly enough. “I’ll go… but you’re being watched. I’m deadly serious: no trouble for you.” Mop wagged a less-than-serious index finger at the woman before he tried for Half-Past Human and the door to see if he could find Gloriana within. Where was she? What was so important? What he was met with was a man – perhaps the shop-owner; Mop remembered his face from a few travels down the alley – who was roughing Gloriana around. “Oi, fuck, mate!” He shouted disapprovingly upon entry.

12:26:22 Lilium rubbed the bridge of her nose and blinked her eyes. She was patching an Invisible Cloak. This job was tiring and challenging, but she had to admit she enjoyed it. Mr. Lupin entered, the bell ringing. Lilium looked up and offered him a little smile. You seem a little worn. You should get out and see some of the booths. The fox girl blinked, but nodded and finished what she was doing. Once the cloak was returned to its holding case she slipped into his office. Lillium, could you check on a new request while you are out? She nodded and he slipped her letter with an address. This woman says she has been receiving a letter like this , one every day for the past month. Lilium eyed it as if it might explode. Could you start the process for me? Just stop in and get the letters..ask her a few questions. Lilium nodded before heading out of his office. She tucked the letter into her green jacket and headed out onto the street. The street was lined with booths, booths and more, well people. How had she not noticed this cultural circus outside? The fox headed down the street town, seeing a Vietnamese tea vendor, but a large wind swept up and she shut her eyes till it passed. Once it had ceased she blinked and shoved her hands back in her pockets. Her large, green eyes grew abnormally wide as she realized her pockets were empty. Looking around her feet she saw nothing. Forward nothing. Behind her, Lilium cursed. ”Bampot..” The wind had swept it down the stairs that started what she dreadfully knew to be Knockturn Alley. Her left nostril rose in disgust before sighing with a roll of her eyes and heading towards the stairs. Reaching the bottom step she leaned down to swipe the letter when another gust hit her from behind, pushing the letter even deeper into the belly of Knockturn. This time she cursed even louder. Pish! finally made a brisk stride and in a graceful bow of sorts she snagged the letter and raised her head up to examine the muddy thing. Thankfully she could still see the address. Lilium was not aware of the other two a mere 20 feet away, but she didn’t know to be. At least not until she heard yelling. The fox raised her head towards the commotion, but seeing the store name she didn’t move.

12:37:34 [Gloriana] Glori shut everything out; sound, sight, everything. So, it was more than a little surprising when a large hand caught her around the arm and hoisted her to stand. “Hu-wha?1“ Her heart was suddenly racing a mile a minute. Wait, who is this? What did I do? Help! Help! She stared up at the bearded man with that deer-in-the-headlights expression people expected of thieves or… just people who get caught in the act. “I’m s-s-sorry,“ she stumbled to find the words needed to apologize. She didn’t mean it, after all! And then there was Mop. Mop! Recent events had her resolve wavering, and tears were starting to well at the edges of her eyes. Help!

12:43:41 [Kaust] Relief flooded her limbs and she gave off a goofy smile. It might have seen malicious once upon a time but for the most part she was just happy at this convenient issue. She just didn’t know how bad the situation actually was. After all, Kaust spent most of her days in emotional misery, it’s not something she’d wish upon anyone else. With a soft huff she bobbed her head at Mop. “I am vury gud, sir.” No need to question her but… once Mop opens the door Kaust will be able to peek in and see that one the scary woman from the day or so before was there and that two there was a man roughing her up and Mop was yelling. Three, she’s pretty sure this is an all-around bad situation. “Oh dear.”

12:45:54 [Alaric] She was obviously trying to make up a lie. He could see that plainly in the way she stared at him, and fumbled for a way out. “You think you can just come into my store and steal? Just because the owner’s not out in view means you can take what you want and go?“ He shook her some to make a point. He may have been a cap shop owner, but he didn’t think that was worthy of theft. Another one joined her shortly thereafter, and Alaric practically snarled, “This your accomplice?“ He assumed the answer was yes, face twisting with explosive anger. He shoved the girl in the other’s direction hard. “Get the hell out of my store!“

12:52:51 Porthman spared a glance to Gloriana – naturally – to give her what he hoped would be a comforting expression. It was something along the lines of ‘everything will be ok’ while her message took on a whole new meaning. Maybe this was what she had sent the message for? Meredith didn’t have much time to think about it – not when the volatile shop owner veritably chucked Gloriana in his direction. He jolted forward the space he needed to collect her, in accordance. There were several unsavory thoughts and plans in Alaric’s direction that fizzled out as he wrapped an arm over Gloriana’s shoulder as though he could blanket her. Mop took her out of the shop, emerging to Kaust and the rest of Knockturn alley (the atypical floater-about included) thereafter – as long as all went to plan – without another word.

13:05:16 Lilium grumbled in her spot. Why of all stores were they in that one? She could hear him yelling, but the Fox had no intention of intervening until she saw the male that exited the store. It wasn’t Alaric. It was Meredith Porthman, Ravenclaw Beater and known face beater inner. Lilium ran towards the store, passing Kaust. She didn’t recognize her and didn’t know to fear her. Lilium had graduated the year before she had been possessed. She was aware of the occurrence, but didn’t recognize the thin blonde. Lilium moved passed Mop and the woman he was half carrying into the street. She slipped into the store and found a very huffy Alaric. Her eyes narrowed in confusion and concern , but she didn’t say anything to him. She looked back out to the street. “Mop..is she alright?” Yes, its Lovecraft. Yes , you haven’t seen her since she graduated, but that’s currently not her issue. A glance drifted back at Alaric. He wouldn’t actually hurt anyone would he? Lilium hadn’t known the tall beast for long, but despite his constant grumpy demeanor, he always seemed harmless. What was going on here? "Are you alright?", she asked softly, crossing her arms.

13:08:10 [Gloriana] Tears. Tears! They were threatening to spill over. No, no, no. Pull it together, Glori! She trembled in the man’s harsh grasp, otherwise paralyzed by his hold and the thunderous tenor of his voice. He spoke of Mop and Glori glanced to him. “A-c-complice?“ She stuttered like an idiot and before she could compose enough of herself to explain, she was unceremoniously thrown into Mop. There was no grace in the way she clumsily staggered into Mop, but the target scooped her up and made up for what she lacked in coordination. She was still quaking uncontrollably when he took her out of the shop, smoothly and without altercation. It was then, back out in the daylight and in the comfort of Mop’s arms, that she finally began to cry. She cursed herself inwardly for crying in public for the second time today. And now, in front of Kaust of all people. She just wanted to disappear altogether! (especially now that some stranger was inquiring after her health… No, go away!)

13:17:05 [Kaust] It was an oddly constructed scenario of chaos, mild though damaging to the ego of the woman that had been thrown like garbage at Porthman. Her expression was closed off, no smile of perverse glee, no look of pity, just a chilling indifference and understanding that this wasn’t how someone should treat another human being. She gave a slow lick of her lips with black stained tongue as she watched it all unfold and with narrowed gaze allowed nostrils to flare to take in the general scent around the store… she committed it to memory but otherwise took a cautious step off the porch. The noise would generate a little bit of activity, mostly from the other woman that had suddenly rushed in but Kaust attention is on the now sobbing Gloriana. Again, there’s no much emotion from the cold Kaust who just turns her gaze away to give the girl the privacy of her tears. Her look is for Mop at the moment, Mop and the woman that had now joined them. What was he going to do…

13:22:48 [Alaric] “And stay out,“ he called after them. It wasn’t long before a familiar face caught his eye; though, he didn’t give pause to converse with her. He made for the counter and snatched up the pack of cigarettes sitting on its edge. It was lit in a matter of seconds, and he was exhaling a somewhat-relieved breath of smoke into the air. Lili asked him if he was alright and he offered a non-committal answer by way of a shrug. His gaze lifted from the counter and wheeled to look past Lili toward the pair making their way back up Diagon Alley. Maybe he’d been too quick to judge. He was too harsh on her. Another cloud of smoke fogged up his conscience enough to put indifference back on the table. Who cares? They’re gone and they won’t try to steal from him again. Mission: accomplished.

13:32:07 Porthman used his free hand to cross over himself and give Gloriana a little more support – even if it was only the emotional, social sort. His other, wrapped around her shoulders, began to rub up and down her upper arm to create friction—a sense of warm to stave off the trembles and the tears. He took a slow, dragging exhale when she finally broke down and moved his secondary hand from emotional support to gently cup the side of her head and lean it into his shoulder. Mop knew Gloriana well enough—the free display of an anxious meltdown was unlike her—so he attempted the best protection of her ego he could. He lifted his green glance to the sound of his name and set them upon a face he hadn’t seen in years. Of course, once a team, always a team – he bore no ill will toward her and in any other situation he might have stopped to have a great time. Mop had to stand in as damage control right now. “She’s alright,” he gave the cordial response for Gloriana’s sake – but it wasn’t the best for his. “She’s just very tired. It’s been a bad day.” Meredith felt the palpable pains of regret at his back. From there, he turned his attention to Kaust – who had politely taken her attention off Gloriana’s shame and met him in a troubled moment of eye-contact. “I’m going to take her home.” He explained, bringing his attention back around to Lilium with an apology – he would alwaysfeel impolite for bouncing out on anyone, but this was labeled as ‘emergency’ in his control book. With that, Meredith took the quick and dangerous way out with a telltale crack and their mutual disappearance.

13:48:09 [Lilium] The girl was so distraught. What could Alaric have done? Mop made up some excuse for the girls distress, but she could tell he was lying. His surprise at her sudden appearance was understandable, but still his eyes were so apologetic. Had the goof ball missed her? Not likely. Looking to the thin blonde she heard him explain they were headed home. Alaric had shrugged off her concern and slipped behind his counter to smoke. When it seemed Mop wasn’t going to attack in a defensive flurry she turned her back on the door to study her tall, recent acquaintance. Despite the street it resided on, Lilium found Half Past Human somewhat magic (I’m aware). She knew what it held, but she just loved the odd antiques. It was like the opposite polar of what they sold at L&W, but equally as interesting to the retired Witch Watcher. Lilium studied his furry face. “You don’t look well..are you sick?” She leaned into the counter and studied something creepy with what she hoped was a fake eye. I was going to get something to eat. Boss saw me deteriating I guess..” She grinned a little at her joke.

13:50:05 [Gloriana] She hated herself all over the place. Coming back had been a stupid idea. The Conclave was stupid. These reunions were stupid. And Mop… Mop would be better off without her! She spiraled. He held her tighter and it only made things worse. She just wanted to go back to distracting herself again with healing and inventing and research. Glori was still caught up in her shame spiral when she felt her body pull toward her stomach and they were gone. They surfaced into existence in the living room of her flat. It was beautifully modern, but still cozy, decorated in mostly whites and a soft, sea foam green (that was the color of the walls, of course… among other things). Even in the comfort of her home, she didn’t let go of Mop. She was so sure he’d be better off without her, and yet she clung to him for dear life. Glori didn’t think she could keep herself standing on her own. Mop… it was always Mop who was there to hold her up.

14:09:35 [Porthman] As much as he would have held Gloriana up for the world, he really didn’t find it necessary once he had found them safely to her home. Upon arrival, Meredith edged his shaken friend closer and closer to the nearest comfortable piece of furniture to gently ease her down. From there, if he could detach, he would – and did – only to walk away without a sound. It might have seemed without reason at first until he could be heard rustling about in the kitchen to put the kettle on. Done with one task, the auror ghosted around Gloriana’s comfortable flat for this and that before returning to the kitchen to finish tea. He had this unusual habit a world otherwise filled with wizards and magic by doing everything the mundane, muggle way in the privacy of his own home – and by extension in this situation, Gloriana’s. When Mop returned, he had a cuppa, a clean blanket, and a small pillow that he offered with outstretched arms.

14:17:13 [Gloriana] Glori just wanted him to hold her and tell her everything was okay. But no, he didn’t do that. He displaced her on the couch and left her alone. Alone, if only for a second, felt like forever from Mop. Why? He had been so comforting for so long. Where had her Merry gone? She felt the cold chill of realization sting her back into a more manageable mindset. Merry had someone. And, of course, it wasn’t Glori. What had she expected from him, anyway? Was he supposed to wait an eternity for her to make up her stupid mind? No, that wasn’t fair, and she’d hate anyone else if they expected the same from her. Her expression was flat when he returned to her with several different methods of soothing her mind. But she’d already turned it off. She reached for the tea. “Thank you,“ was her quiet response. Her eyes dropped to the floor to avoid Mop’s. There was a good chance he’d read her reaction as: ashamed. Though part of her wished he’d pry a little.

14:31:48 Porthman offered Gloriana a smile to try and warm her emotionless face in reply to her thanks. “Aye.” He finally gave gentle recognition. Mop sat on the table to give Gloriana space on the couch but remain nearby – even as she refused to look him in the eye. He didn’t want to pry; he wanted to give Glori some space—space he thought she’d want… but he was having a hard time reading her body language as anything other than embarrassed. Meredith sat in a companionable silence as a result and only felt that empty chasm open up between them once more. The only time he made any kind of move was purely for comfort; to lean over his knees, rest on his elbows, clasp his hands, and weave his fingers together uselessly.

14:39:45 [Gloriana] She sipped quietly at her tea for a good while, letting the silence put distance between them that space could never truly match. He was leaning over his knees when she finally piped up. “I’m sorry…“ was about the gist of what she could drum up without sounding like she felt betrayed or hurt. After all, Mop had done nothing wrong. On the contrary, he had always done everything right. Glori, as usual, was the one who was wrong. And, as usual, she felt really rotten about it.

14:49:57 [Porthman] “Yeah,” Mop lifted his head to meet her. “It’s real shitty that you needed help. I mean, who the bloody-fuck does that, aye?” He cracked a smile and used a jocose tone to waylay Gloriana’s concern. There was no need for it; everyone needed help every once in a while. “Anyway.” Mop was eager to leave the worry behind. For a second, he had to think about what he wanted to say next – if he really wanted to dive down that rabbit hole. The answer was, finally, ‘no’. Instead, he tried to ask a less-invasive question to avoid talking too in-depth about ‘feelings’. “Gonna be alright?”

14:59:50 [Gloriana] Her mouth cracked, but the smile wasn’t exactly genuine. It fall back to an even line as quickly as it had faltered. Anyway. Right, anyway… She swallowed down another mouthful of tea and tried to maintain her tolerable mood. He nearly cracked it with his next question. Would she be alright? The thought hadn’t crossed her mind, and with her new outlook, she hated the path it was headed down. She pulled back from her own train of thought and sighed. “Yeah… probably.“ It wasn’t a definitive yes, but it would probably satisfy Mop’s curiosity. Maybe it would even get him to leave. What hurt more than having her little epiphany was having him sit there while she quietly grieved the loss. And in that awful silence. It was remarkable how quickly she’d shifted from wanting him there for as long as he could bare to stand her, to not wanting him there at all — not even a trace of him.

15:07:25 Porthman was beginning to get the distinct impression that Gloriana no longer wanted him there, regardless to if she needed someone around. He stood from his impromptu ‘seat’ and let his hands brush his knees as he went. “Alright.” Mop conceded and straightened out his cardigan as he dithered in place and tried to give Gloriana a chance to change her mind, as was polite. “If you need me, you just ring. I’ll come around.” He finished his promise and, if Gloriana hadn’t kept him there, he moved hesitantly away from the furniture arrangement to leave the same way he came.

15:14:23 [Gloriana] No, don’t go! Shut up, she told herself. Glori hated this internal struggle nonsense. It occurred far too often to be acceptable, and now it was worse than ever. As he prepared to leave, Glori shifted, as if she might stop him, but didn’t. There was a sad smile on her face, but she tried to make it look sincere, pushed it to its limits. “I will…“ She looked down into her cup of tea, thoughts screaming at her one way, then the other. She couldn’t stop him now. It had already taken her too long to come to terms with the fact that Merry was no longer her Merry. The real question was, had he ever been? These were put aside to provide Mop with a show. Gratitude was all she need wear to the party, right? “Thanks again… you know, for uh coming to my rescue and all that.“ — And for being my best friends for years, because I was too stupid to see you as anything else. She leveled her gaze, and a sweet smile settled on her lips.

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