April 20th, 2098

14:43:35 [Iwamura] So basically, fuck that shit. Izzy had a bit of a bone to pick with Mop about what had gone down the night before. Actually, truth be told, had a bit of a bone to pick with the whole damned Auror office here. It's not my jurisdiction. He could remind himself of that forever. Didn't change his irritation at the scene of the Leaky Cauldron. Seriously, he was very much not alright with it. That wasn't the only thing affecting his mood, mind, it was just his scapegoat of the hour, but that my dears was also irrelevant. He'd taken to THE ROAD, by which I mean Diagon Alley, to clear his head a bit - a walk from the scene of the showdown, the Leaky Cauldron, to Kindlebird's. Taking, naturally, the longest course through the district he possibly could. None of the deep red Kijushou "get out of my way, official business" robes today, he'd gone instead with the teal and white of House Nozomi. Not his original robes, of course. He was a lot taller than he'd been as a 12-year-old. As is usually the case in one's early twenties. Fuck all, it's not my jurisdiction. But the whole clusterfuck of this international convocation was grating on him, and last night's scene in particular. He walked right past many places he otherwise might've stopped at - cafes and shops he loved, but dared not enter, because they had tables and right now he was in a mood to goddamn flip them.

14:55:22 Huian ◙ Think of the wasp, and the wasp lands in your drink. Or the mouse skitters up the wall if you think you see something, but the wasp was more appropriate. Probably it was the storming by as Huian stood, tucking her notebook into her dragon printed sidebag, and she blinked, calculating risks and rewards, and the entirety was trumped by the fact her normally mild friend was…visibly bothered. Her eyebrows furrowed, and she took off after him, making herself known when she tapped his arm by falling into step with him, giving a side glance at the taller man. “I take it your mood is more than from work?” Light easy questioning. No preamble. He didn’t even have to answer, her tone indicated she could figure it out, even if it was mild and inviting him to bubble over the simmer he was set at. Of course. She doubted he would. She had never really been privy to those sorts of shows. ◙

15:16:38 [Iwamura] "Do you have a table, that I might flip it?" Izzy managed, at least, to maintain a bit of humor. He smiled when Huian tapped his arm. She had nothing to do with what had him all riled up into a giant fuck-you murder wasp. (That's the scientific term, look it up. I'll wait.) "Well. Tangentially related to work. Just trying to remind myself it's not my jurisdiction. I always miss London so much until I come here and remember that it's every bit as tangled as every other place I've lived." And yeah, poor Mulan still wouldn't get to see Izzy boil over! Rather, as of her intercession he seemed to just be bubbling down a bit. It wasn't in character for him to stay angry, and any sort of friendly face had the power to completely diffuse him. Unless, well, unless you were Xia and asking him to vent. That could work too. Wasn't too common, though. "Were you headed anywhere in particular? I could probably stand to walk a little further."

15:36:16 Huian ◙ “No tables. I try not to carry one with me anymore.” A faint grin to a bad joke. Her posture and expression relaxed though, as she walked with him, even if she decided to nudge her elbow into his side lightly. “So it’s the business with Valen then. Being a government official and all, even if it doesn’t fit you to be so.” Everybody could see that. Izzy may be cut out to be a guile, troubled but cute, badass bookworm hero, but he was not meant to be magical police. It just…didn’t suit him. And red was not his color. But her opinion stood, and she let it go. It would do nobody well to make it known more than once. “To be honest, I was either going to talk to you or Mop as soon as I could. I would talk to Xia…but…she’s…” Huian had no words to describe what Xia was. “She wouldn’t provide the insight I need to understand the theory I’m working on. I think she’d be too moral to do so.” ◙

16:08:22 Porthman really did want to enjoy a goddamned visit to Diagon Alley one of these days. After mountains of reports, Mop was on the cobblestone once more. He’d resolved to find a ‘perfect’ gift for Noriko now that he’d seen Gloriana on the recovery bench and Valen was being tended to by – Mop presumed – the court of law. It wasn’t his business—or, rather, he didn’t want it to be his business. When he had a chance to be alone with his thoughts, Meredith didn’t like what he remembered about the details of the apprehension. He’s fairly certain he scared two friends that night and he knew for certain that he’d riled something awful in Noriko. Mop hadn’t the chance to talk to Huian after the incident, but he’d hoped the same was not true of her. So, today, the auror had a shopping list. Singing flowers for Gloriana (that really didn’t want to put a cork in it as they travelled in his shopping bag), simple chocolates for Noriko (because he didn’t want to feel like he was trying to show her up).

16:11:58 [Iwamura] Izzy threw up his arms and sighed. "Nobody ever uses me for me body." He was, actually, a bit concerned by what she was asking about him. Theories about touching into what they call 'dark'? Yeah, there were alllll sorts of ways that shit could go super wrong. But he also had a certain level of trust for Huian that required him to hear her out. Plus, she had blackmail material on him. He may not have remembered Milan, but she had goddamn pictures. Fuck. "Yeah, I can help you. If you want to find a table for me to flip first, that'd also be pretty fantastic, but I think the annoyance is boiling away. I'll help you." And, you know, if necessary he could also gently but strictly guide her back to being NOT EVIL. If she was actually plotting some evilness. Huian was practically the Minister of Niceness, so it seemed unlikely, but you never know. Evil, as Chester Flutey once told him, is difficult to root out - and few people have the gift to smell it when it takes to hiding itself away.

16:25:25 Huian ◙ “I’m sorry I can’t use you for your body. I’ll make you a deal…if you ever die before me in a battle, it will become my meat shield. Does that make you feel better?” She flashed another grin, almost foxish in nature. Such a teasing mood today. To be fair, she had had it improved by picking apart an Irish wizard, so…there was that. “Can we sit down? I need a bubble tea or something. You can flip the table when we get there.” A winning smile, still teasing. Of ourse she was…this was Izzy. All her teasing would be met with a sarcastic flavor. And sarcastic Izzy was the best flavor of the Sassy Scoobies. (For some reason, that made her think of them all as candies. This was not a good image, even if it was mildly amusing.) Did it matter, he didn’t have a choice, tugging his arm to the nearest set of tables, before grandly gesturing to it. Flip away. ◙

16:30:49 [Freddie] Well, as much fun as walking around—- No wait, it was boring as shit. Freddie was finally starting to get very sick and tired of being around Diagon Alley. It was soon going to be time for him to leave, or at least he figured it was. Getting drunk again was starting to seem like a good idea, considering it at least kept him entertained. While rolling over thoughts and ideas of what he could possibly do to kill a day while not thinking about.. Stuff and feeling like a douchebag, Freddie wasn't paying an ounce of attention to what or who was around him. This was likely, okay DEFINITELY, the reasoning behind his walking straight on into another person who was walking in the opposite direction (unless said person managed to get out of his way of course). Either way, if he did bump into the person, he'd flop back a bit and shake his head as reality suddenly struck him again. Oh yeah! He existed! "Whoa shit, sorry dude." He said to the rather unfamilar male he'd managed to abruptly halt.

16:31:49 [Iwamura] "I know it probably shouldn't, but yes, it does make me feel a little better. I mean, except the part where I'd be dead. I don't really like that part." Nope, it wasn't at all like he had a choice - Mulan had already directed him before a table. And you know what? He thought about it for a second. He looked conflicted. Then he flipped the fucking table. "And now I feel a lot better." And without further ado, he set the table right, returned the chairs to it, made sure nothing was damaged (a bit of charms-work fixed up a bent tress) and then sat down as though nothing at all had happened. Yes, this was suddenly a near-perfect day.

16:49:02 Huian ◙ Huian choked back a laugh as the table was flipped, though mainly because of the startled reactions she saw from everybody in a twenty foot radius stopped and stared, drawn by the noise…and the went back on their way. She plopped into a chair opposite Izzy, and smiled at the sever that came over. “One bubble tea. Passion. And whatever he wants.” On her. If he ordered, or if he didn’t, her hand waved and the area around them sounded garbled…not a muffling charm, but similar. More like it was a distortion. Easily flowing from her like water…she used it often enough when talking to a student’s parents. “Sorry I want to pick your mind.” Honestly, she was. She even looked sorry, now that she had his attention. “Yesterday, I was at the Leaky Cauldron…Cyrus Valen restored his arm. And it looked…” She pursed her lips, trying to find out how to say it. “It looked as if he had transplanted the arm of a demon, cliché as it sounds. It looks like a result similar to an old Wallachian spell…but I have to wonder if it was adjusted for him, and if so, how did the adjustments occur? What gives a spell or potion that right ability for us to concoct, but…” She was starting off wrong. “Have you ever seen a potion from a child with non magical parents?” ◙

16:49:34 [Porthman] Fortunately for he and Freddie, Mop was paying attention to his surroundings. He saw the absent look on the drifter’s face and thought: surely, he won’t run straight into me. When the idea quickly started to look like a pedestrian’s game of Chicken, Mop slid out of the way in time for Freddie to simply hit the bag that swung in Meredith’s wake. He couldn’t help but look offended for the fraction of a second it took him to hide the expression under carefully-crafted acceptance. “Not at all.” Mop waved the stranger’s apology off—but when his eyes met the man’s face, he couldn’t help but feel he was familiar. Eerily familiar, in fact! When Mop realized who the man was, he dropped his bag all the same. “Fuck.” Was the only intelligible word out of his mouth – with a whole lot of sounds thrown in there that made a lot less sense. “Fred—“ he started, paused, and had to start all over again. “Bloody hell—Freddie O’Keefe?”

16:56:06 [Freddie] Well, at least one of them was paying attention! Instead of inadvertedly making out with the strange male, he instead bumped into his bag, which in words doesn't sound much better at all. Either way, that was that, Freddie made his apology and, for a moment, he figured that'd be the end of it. It wasn't until the two made eye contact that he discovered he was wrong in thinking it. Not that it was a bad thing! At least now he could have a conversation and not be bored and all that, "Yep, that'd be me." He replied, chuckling softly and offering the other male a friendly smile while outstretching a hand toward him to gesture a handshake, "Nice to meet you, uhh.. Bucket." He didn't know this guys name, so he'd just give him one. Like what he'd done with Skittles earlier!

17:00:32 [Iwamura] For all the stares it got him, Izzy seemed absolutely oblivious to the reaction to his entirely justified table-flipping exploits. Besides, he'd always kind of wanted to do that. Come on, who hasn't? He just shook his head - didn't care to order anything, really, and let it go at that - and took on a more somber look almost immediately when Huian explained what was concerning to her. That, well, that wasn't something he'd heard about the altercation. "He had his arm back, hm? There are, I know, ways to do that. None of them are what I would call, ah… pleasant." He rubbed a hand across his forehead. A demon arm. "A potion from a child without magical parents? Why?" Izzy tilted his head. There was more to what she was asking - he'd just have to wait for her to elaborate. He was finding a whole new range of reasons to be unhappy about the Leaky Cauldron incident already, though…

17:05:20 Porthman ’s eyes went wide with Freddie’s offered courtesy. He eagerly threw his hand out to return the greeting and give it a firm, meaningful shake. “It’s great to meet you! Pleasure’s mine—Porthman, actually. Meredith Porthman! I followed you through the Kestrels. Brilliant. Just—absolutely brilliant!” There’s a chance that Meredith might scare his quarry away with his exuberance, but this wasn’t an everyday occurrence! Never mind the fact that this was the fourth famous Quidditch player (or former Quidditch player) he’d made acquaintances with. He’d punched one in the face, been taught (and subsequently, victimized) by another, and he was—well, he wasn’t sure what he and Noriko were doing at this point. Let’s hope this time was different and remained less emotionally-charged than the last.

17:09:10 [Freddie] Well, this man certainly turned out to be quite the energetic one. He shook Porthma’ns hand back with just as much enthusiasm and nodded when the strangers name was given, along with some other words regarding Freddie’s past career, "Yeah, I was pretty brilliant, wasn't I?" He replied smugly, though half-jokingly in his own way, "So, Bucket," he started then, apparently having decided to stick with the name he'd given the fellow instead— at least for now, "Doing anything particularly fun today? I'm honestly bored as shit, so maybe you'd want a chat? A coffee? Fuck, I'll buy you a beer." Strangers were always the most fun people to drink with. Gloraina taught him that. Too bad she died, or something. He hadn't seen her since, so he only assumed.

17:21:47 Huian ◙ There was more, but she figured she’s try to explain with a start. A start…somewhere, even if it was a bit odd. Her tea was given to her, and she squeaked in happiness, before drinking about half of it. She had been parched. Ahem. Thirst quenched, and her throat cleared. “When I’m requested for a child with non-magical parents in tutoring during the summer…most of the time it’s for potions in first to third years.” Her fingers drummed on the surface of the table, the chrome finish flashing in the light. “This is because, six out of eleven times, the potion will be fine. The other five, the ingredients don’t…work…the way they are supposed to. Instead of…melding…the components remain as separate as they can be, and it simply becomes a mix of ingredients boiled in cauldron. There is no…magic to it. The theory is simple enough…magic is a matter of will. A weaving out of one thing or place simultaneously into another. To bring the points together, involved, and the potion forms. As does any spell, and the theory is heavy in apparition, when you are essentially the spell.” She hoped that made sense. It made sense in her head, and on paper, in Chinese and in English, but out loud, to another person, even if they knew her well, she felt as if she was speaking another language. (Like Mandarin. Or Cantonese. But really, fuck Cantonese.) “Are…you following?” ◙

17:22:27 [Porthman] “Porthman.” Mop corrected again, automatically, when Freddie insisted on calling him some completely nonsensical nickname. There was no emotion behind his footnote – it was simply that: autocorrect. When the retired Quidditcher invited him along for today’s ride, Mop looked down at the bag he’d dropped to snatch it back up. Technically, he was supposed to be doing something. He had an agenda… he had a plan… he had a list! On the other hand, here was this Seeker he’d seen play first hand in the stands asking him around for a pint. He almost immediately said yes, but paused to reconsider. “Aaaat… the Cauldron?” Mop asked, apprehensive as he let his bag change hands to keep himself occupied. “Let’s not go there. But—hell—if you’re headed anywhere else… f’sure!”

17:30:16 [Freddie] Porthman, right right. Hey! Bucket wasn't a bad nickname. At least he didn't call him.. Porthole or something, I dunno. Either way, it seemed for a moment that Porthman was going to decline his offer, but instead re-opted it to agree as long as they didn't go to the Cauldron, "Sure thing mate. I'll tell ya what, how about you pick? The only place I can't go is Lilliputs, but they don't sell booze anyway. So no big deal. I haven't been to London now in years and years, probably since Hogwarts. So.. I'm a little unfamilar with the area. Lots of time to travel now and all that. So, Porty," He continued then, trying out another nickname to see how that rolled with him, "What is it you do? Like.. To survive and shit."

17:40:25 [Iwamura] Izzy nodded along. "Yes, I follow." His knowledge of potions wasn't, actually, his strongest… but he was familiar enough with the magical theory behind them, and nothing Huian said so far was particularly news. He didn't know, exactly, what Cyrus had done, but he was starting to get the feeling Huian had theories from, well, witnessing it and being sharp about these things. So he was just going to keep listening to her for the moment. "You're making perfect sense. Go on." No need to belabor anything.

17:45:19 [Porthman] “Porthman.” He said again, despite Fred’s attempt to get closer to his name. “There are only a handful of pubs in this neighborhood. There’s a decent one on Knockturn where you can get a cheap pint and good service, but the manky fucks that crawl around there are… well… manky.” Mop told with a point in the general direction. He’d been there a couple times. Once or twice on business—most of the rest were pleasure. Despite this, he began to walk them closer (and pointedly did not ask why O’Keefe could not go to Liliput’s) to whatever far-off destination he had in mind. He did, however, answer Keefe’s second question. “Nothing as exciting as Quidditch! I work with the Ministry.” Throngs of people passed them by in intermittent waves as they did the same. Meanwhile, Meredith’s attention went between the road ahead and the acquaintance at his side. “I thought I’d go pro when I was still in Hogwarts, though! Ahh, those were good days.” The next time he looked away from Freddie to scan and process the crowd, he stopped on two distinctly familiar faces lingering outside a shop: Huian and Izzy. His eyes returned to O’Keefe. “You don’t mind—just a little detour, aye? Some friends up ahead.” Mop pointed them out in the same general point that he ‘pointed out’ the bar down on Knockturn.

17:58:48 Huian ◙ Good, he was following. Her hands pressed on the table bolstered a bit by the fact he could understand her thoughts, which seemed jumbled when they left her mouth. “The theory is not just a potions one. In a sense, it is the law that magic casts and abides by. Because you will it, it is, and it is because you will it. But then the law separates. There are things you cannot do, without needing it present in some form first. There are levels of magic with high risk, to create nothing from something, at the cost of everything. They don’t touch upon these magics…not here. Baidao’s Informatics gloss upon this in the ancient books, the ones carved into bone and ivory and threaded with twine. We’re talking very ancient.” A pause, and she furrowed her brows, trying to find out how to word it. “Matter can-not be created or destroyed. It simply exists. Magic is a force of will. There are spells so old nobody knows where they came from. Sacrifice fuels the most powerful of magic…Cyrus Valen touched upon a a magic I have not seen. Whether a potion or a spell, the fact remains the same. Something had the will to create that arm, to create the spell with that much risk. Izzy, if you had seen it…just seen it…it’s astounding and terrible and…” She wasn’t making sense to herself for a moment, and had to stop her tongue before she started finding words in Mandarin. “Magic has a price, it has to. Because if it did not take something from Valen upon being given, then that throws all the laws out.” Her eyes narrowed, only slightly, and she frowned. Frowned. "I need to know what that sacrifice was." ◙

18:00:40 [Freddie] Yeah, yeah, Porthman, sure, "Well, if any manky fucks try to pull off any shit we'll just have to have a good ol' drunken muggle-esque brawl now, won't we?" He said, followed by a hearty laugh, "Ministry work, eh? I've been thinking something like that over. Gotta do something to occupy my time, and if I keep spending the way I am my Quidditch money won't last me that long at all." Fortune or not, money was money, and it could easily be spent up. Especially when you were someone with as much taste for adventure and booze as Freddie, "Oh, you played in Hogwarts did you? Which house were you in? It was pretty sweet getting to lead Gryffindor through three of their best years. Yeah, those were good days. So why didn't you jump on the Quidditch band wagon?" He inquired, "Still play? Maybe we could round up a friendly skirmish sometime." Retired or not, Freddie still got his own personal practicing in as often as he could. When the mentioning of stopping to meet some of Porthmans friends was brought up, Freddie just shrugged and obliged, "Sure, why not? Sounds like a time to me."

18:11:02 [Iwamura] Izzy inclined his head slightly, and smiled. "Yes, something always has to have the will to create something like that. I didn't see it." Although there was a not-entirely-difficult way that hecould see it, should it prove necessary. "I would start with the theory that it was a potion, considering Valen's particular talents. I would also mention that the sacrifice, at least in the most immediate sense, might not have been his." A pause. "I would venture so far as to say it probably wasn't. Magic of the sort - it takes a toll on the ones who use it. On the spirit. But what it demands before that? Sometimes it's simple. The absolute desire to end another's life. Sometimes it's more complicated - an enemy's blood taken by force. With darker magics, what you sacrifice for them isn't always clearly apparent. Your sacrifice is your willingness to inflict lasting harm - or death - on another, and the stains it leaves on you to do it." Izzy brushed his nose lightly, looked up. Huh, looked like there was company on the way. "I couldn't tell you what, specifically, Cyrus had to do to give himself that arm, but… I would imagine it was for that reason that he took Gloriana. If I were investigating, I'd start by talking to her." A pause, a smile. "But that's not my jurisdiction."

18:18:17 [Porthman] “Oi, I wouldn’t recommend it if it’s money you’re after. Build up some assets instead. I get paid shite.” Mop laughed off his miserable bank account—it was his wages’ fault he felt like buying a house, is it? “I played beater for Ravenclaw,” the auror put his fists together and swung (along with his bag) as though hitting a baseball out of the park. “Pretty-damned-well, if I say so myself—and I will…” He beamed to remember the good times he had during his school years. “But with the war and… everything that happened… I just—I don’t know—started down a different path.” Meredith didn’t allow himself to publicly lose himself in the topic for too long. He was eager and animated when he changed the tone of the conversation to a positive once more. “Fucking love the games, though. Can’t wait til the Cup!” The pair had been growing closer to Izzy and Huian all the way, but when Mop only called out when he and Freddie were ten or so feet away (if he wasn’t addressed before then). “Iwamura! Huian! Heyyyy-o."

18:29:01 Huian ◙ Izzy was smiling. He was smiling, and she actually felt…calmer. She had been worried he’d say something to…she didn’t know. She got passionate when it came to such things, and shut down quickly if she felt she wasn’t making sense, or that somebody would mock her. There was a reason she often kept these things to herself. But Izzy wasn’t mocking, and he was following, and she calmed, visibly, tilting her head at his explanations…his rebuttals to her ideas bouncing around. It…could make sense. “But what makes the magic dark? Is it simply the sacrifice, and the magnitude of that does so, or the intent of the spell or potion? And as for Valen, it had to been a sacrifice to him…”At least she wasn’t vibrating with nerves talking to him now. “It had to. And something does not sit right…a man doesn’t go through all that simply to surrender the power that they get. Power corrupts. You can’t trust those with more than they should have, that have faced the risks and come out their lives to not use it. Izzy, this—-“ she had more to say, but was brought out of it by her name being said, turning her gaze to the recognizable form of Mop and the…stranger…that had interrupted her writing these theories down earlier. She blinked, and smiled lopsidedly…not really sure how to feel. Mop would have been welcome, but…a stranger…? ◙

18:40:13 [Iwamura] Really, this was the sort of thing Izzy lived for. Discussion on magical theory. Debate on magical theory. Writing endless essays on magical theory. (He'd even published some of them. He'd written a long series on the morality of the Dark Arts and the nature of Death.) Huian was sharp, and she'd certainly seen things he hadn't - he couldn't exactly shut down her claim here. "What makes them Dark? That's a matter of some scholarly debate. I've put in my own thoughts on it, rather publicly… but it really is the intent. It is about your intent, the intent to hurt, or torment, or kill." He'd seen a bit of controversy, actually, when he explicitly mentioned that even something as seemingly innocent as the schoolyard hexes thrown about by so many students were, by nature, dark - if perhaps not overwhelmingly so. The arrival of Mop and Freddie threatened to derail the conversation, but Izzy didn't seem deterred… he just altered his efforts a bit. "You're right, of course. Nobody surrenders power. It is the fear of death that drives so many to the Dark Arts - and ironically, that descent into darkness that gives them something to fear from death. In her youth, Kali sought power because she wished to right what she saw as great wrongs in the world. By the time we met her, ah… there was little human left. She would have pursued the power to live, just a little longer, forever." He wasn't, strictly speaking, talking about Kali - but discussing 'the war' made for fine cover, and he was sure Huian could keep up. "There's a discernible pattern among potent dark wizards - finding ways to cheat death, often and to the detriment of those in their way."

18:49:48 [Porthman] From the moment Huian looks his way, he can tell she’s unsettled. At first, a tug of paranoia stings his heart: was it him? Putting a stopper on his paranoia, Mop looked beside him, to O’Keefe, and then back to Huian. Was it him? His friend’s expression causes him to hesitate a moment, but Meredith ultimately decided to pursue his goal. When he got there – hopefully with Freddie still in tow – he came in time for what sounded like some juicy conversation. Meredith clapped his hands together and rubbed them in a way that was dramatically maniacal. “Ohh, sounds interesting!” He chimed, uninvited and gifted each of his friends with a humored expression. “What scandalous topic are we debating? Dark Arts? Dar Wizards? Dark Chocolate?”

19:09:41 Huian ◙ There was the switch in topic discussion, and she felt tripped up for a moment while her attention slid back to Izzy…blinking once, twice, and then catching on, before folding her hands on the table again, pursing her lips in thought, tilting her head like an inquisitive animal. “So the power took something from her, a little at the time. What you get needs to be equal to what you give, or the opposite. If intent matters, then would that make the spells they see here as dark not dark in other places? Kali wanted to right the wrongs she saw, but in these acts she had, that were fueled by righteousness and a sort love for the downtrodden, when did her intents become dark? During the One-Child law in China, parents were killing children with the curse…out of a love, to save them amore horrible death. Does that intent make the curse not unforgivable? Where does that line start, Izzy, and where does it fade? Is it really there or do you only know it if you’ve crossed it? Or would somebody like Kali never know if they had?” And now Mop was here with the man, and she still gave that tentative smile. “Practical Theory, Mop.” ◙

19:19:09 [Freddie] Oh, hey, one of the people here was Skittles! Fancy that. Freddie could pretty much feel the tension he'd apparently caused just by existing when he got there, especially from Huian. Well, sorry I bothered you with my friendship! It didn't deter Freddie in the least either way. They could either continue the topic or not, Freddie honestly didn't mind either way. He was much more comfortable with Porthmans more apparent laid back and joking response to their topic, laughing whole heartedly at the mans interjection into their conversation and offering his new pal a playful smirk, "Hey now! Let's not get started on dark chocolate right now, alright? Are you tryin' to give me nightmares or something?" Of course Freddie took dark magic users quite seriously, that shit just wasn't cool. But he wasn't in any sort've threatening situation or danger, so he didn't feel the need to sugar coat it at all. And besides, there was never anything wrong with being a little playful. Outside've what he said to Porthman though, he stayed otherwise quiet and just let the man sort out whatever he had to with this group. Get in the whole, 'don't speak unless spoken to' persona and all that.

19:29:46 [Iwamura] She brought up a good point - of course she did. Izzy wasn't explicitly familiar with the One-Child Law, or Chinese wizarding history… a remarkable blank spot, actually. He'd never been to mainland China. He smiled brightly at their new… attendees. "Meredith. Plus one. We're engaging in scholarly debate. About dark chocolate. You're welcome to join us, if you wish." He canted his head back to Huian. "It's not a clearly defined line, really. None of it. There are some things that are invariably dark. Killing someone, whatever the reason, it damages the soul. And we do know that, beyond any doubt. But we also know there's no line you cross, that can't be crossed back. There is not a point - not any point - where a living human becomes beyond redemption." Some of that was Izzy's own conjecture. He'd never died, nor seen the other side. But his research into the topic was extensive. And he was, at least, confident enough in his analysis to put it forward like that. "Also, this talk of dark chocolate? I think I want a cookie. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to get on that. Anything for anyone else?"

19:42:32 [Porthman] “Pppppractical theory.” Mop stuttered through, tossing a glance to Freddie – who he now rather liked as arm-candy if he was going to continue to back him up with quips like that. “If you want a nightmare, there it is. Dark chocolate has nothing on practical theory.” The auror promised his newfound Quidditch-friend. Of course, it was all for show – Meredith was actually quite fond of that very sort of discussion and he was, in some recess, quite upset he’d missed the beginning. It was far more interesting than drinking but not more interesting than watching other people getting drunk. Of course, the mightiest prize of all was watching people get drunk while discussing the squiggly grey lines and black-and-white-patchwork of human morality and magic. He listened for the few more seconds Huian and Izzy went back and forth, wondering – with a jaw ajar – if he should sneak in without knowing the beginning or the end. When Izzy broke off for a topic change, Meredith closed his jaw and swallowed the temptation. He embarked, instead, upon Izzy’s recommended topic: cookies. “Ohfuckyes. If you’re buying, I’m starving.”

19:57:48 Huian ◙ Her calf ached. She reached down to rub it, feeling that slow burn that popped up every now and again. Her discomfort showed briefly, before she blinked at Izzy and let out a sigh, with a laugh. “That is a different topic and I have an entire set of notebooks on that theory. Most of it’s in Chinese, but still.” And then the offer of cookies, effectively ending this conversation. She wanted to continue…she needed to. She needed perspective of somebody who she knew was right there on the sliding scale of black and grey cynicism and idealism. It was more like a three dimensional chart, but still. “If they have fruit tarts, please get me one. Unless they’re expensive, in which case don’t.” And then…well, presumably when Izzy went to go treat…she was left with Mop and Freddie, smiling politely but not really looking at them. More off into the sky, sipping her tea…until an owl landed on the table in front of her, a package and letter dropped down a second before it landed. Um. Okay. She stared at it before the owl flew away, and pursed her lips in thought. ◙

20:05:27 [Freddie] Shuddered then, rubbing both his arms vigorously with his hands as if he were cold before eyeing Porthman, "Man, you don't even know, okay? That shit's just.. Just not cool." He burst out laughing then, shaking his head and sighing quite contently thereafter. It was good to laugh. Even better knowing that it was a sober laugh. Who would've thought it? The one person that went off to get cookies that he was rudely not introduced to (coughPorthmancough) took off, leaving him and Porthman with Huian, who did her spacey thing until she apparently got mail, "Funny creatures, owls. You know, I tried to take an owl of mine for a walk one time when I was a kid. It never did come back. Mind you, if I had to put a piece of bloody parchment in its mouth it would've come back in an instant. Weird creatures.. And, for the record, if you have a sister, who happens to have a pet mouse, the two creatures most definitely won't play well together." Yeah.. He wasn't allowed to have owls. Or mice. Or.. Anything really.

20:14:52 [Iwamura] Really, it was a matter of tact. Freddie and Mop were both making some noises about being uncomfortable with the line of discussion (Freddie more than Mop) so he brought it to an end, with every intent to continue it later. Izzy had plans forming, now. Plans involving Huian and copious amounts of notes. He returned a few minutes later bearing, notably, a fruit tart, several cookies, and a glass of water, all balanced in a rather impressive act. The process of getting them all onto the table was less graceful, but he did manage to avoid spilling anything. "Actually, I've found that socializing owls to not treat mice as food is entirely manageable. It takes a great deal of care and careful reinforcement, but it can be done. Hello. I'm Izuyo." As introductions went, there were worse ones. He didn't explain his reasoning for socializing owls to be friendly with mice, of course, as that was more privileged information. The sort Mop and Huian certainly understood, but that he didn't go trumpeting to the world at random.

20:23:00 Porthman could not stop shifting between Huian and Freddie once Izzy went off on his mission and the trio was left alone. Again, he felt a twinge of paranoia and hurt: maybe it was him causing her this discomfort. Meredith drew in a slow, deep breath and was set to push himself away when the delivery came. Curiosity had him dither before he turned to Freddie. “Well,” he started after witnessing Iwamura’s incredibly spectacular return, clapping his hands together again “you know, we ought to scram, aye? I told O’Keefe I’d show him a good time down at the pub on Knockturn and I’m sure we don’t want to keep you two lovebirds from your Faustian discussion.” Meredith did, however, snag a cookie from Izzy’s plate if he had the chance before encouraging Freddie to leave along with him. “Good to see you.”

20:36:46 Huian ◙ She didn’t open the package. Didn’t open the letter, but slid both into her bag next to her notebook, and would open it later, in the privacy of her own home. Who knew what was in it, and it was something she didn’t want to share in case it was personal. But Izzy returned, and her mouth watered at the site of the tart, before making grabby hands a few times and floating it over to her in her desperation to have the sweet fruit tarty goodness. She was in heaven, as she bit into it, humming happily, and swallowing her bite as Mop and Freddie made to leave, quickly reaching into her notebook and ripping out a blank page, pulling the pen out from behind her ear and scribbling the address before reaching over and tucking it into his pocket. “Mop, if you wouldn’t mind coming over tomorrow, I have some books I think you might be interested in and I won’t be able to leave my apartment.” The building had a communal Floo on the main floor, there was a reason she wrote down the floor she lived on. And she smiled. A real smile. She wasn’t bothered by him, really. Anyway, back to Izzy, while munching on her tart. “Did you know there are seven practices and gateways?” ◙

20:43:17 [Freddie] Really wasn't uncomfortable with the topic at all. It was moreso the stink-eye he'd gotten when he arrived that had him unsettled. But, it was all good. It seemed as though Porthman was all ready to go off for a drink, and he was more than happy to oblige. Either way, it seemed as though Huian wasn't as into Freddies topic brought about by the owl dropping off her package, but at least Iwamura came by to make it a little less awkward, "Nice to meet ya, Izuyo. Name's Freddie. And I suppose anything's possible with creatures as long as, y'know, you know what you're at." He chuckled some then though, and pat his new acquaintance on the back, "Anywho, nice meetin' ya. Pop down for a brew if ya want." He turned then and followed suit with Porthman, assuming the male was ready to head off for a drink.

20:57:07 [Iwamura] Well, and then there were two again. Freddie and Mop excused themselves quickly, and Izzy raised an eyebrow, then a hand to wave. Well, I suppose that was that, then. And Huian, immediately, dove right back into conversation, which was just fine with Izzy, really. "Are we referring to Hermetic principle? Mentalism, correspondence, vibration, polarity, rhythm, causation, duality?" He drummed a finger on the table, broke off a bit of cookie, then popped it into his mouth. Like a boss. "Or something else entirely?" Okay, that was a goddamn excellent cookie. Izzy eyed it for a long moment, then, unable to resist further, he snatched the remainder of the cookie off the plate and set to nibbling at it in a fashion vaguely mouse-like. He even glanced back and forth, shift-eyed, before every bite. How much of that was for show and how much was real, hard to say - 'Izzy's Quirks' was a long list with many subroutines operating at any given time.

21:01:00 Porthman lifted his arms when Huian stuffed the note into his pocket, but dared not look at it yet. The scribble could stay safe in his pocket until he returned home tonight. “Will do, Mum!” He swore to the tart-eating tutor. The action did, at least, lift his spirits (even if he didn’t appear any different on the surface). For Izzy, Mop rose a hand above his head to wave off. His attention was Freddie’s thereafter and the promise of a pub was not far off. A pub where Meredith could hopefully (and would—if he could!) feed the Quidditcher all he could drink in ale and spirits while he kept a steady buzz throughout the night. Inebriation was always more entertaining from the outside looking in, after all.

21:13:49 Huian ◙ Her head shook. “No, not what I meant. I meant, across the world there have been seven reported gateways to the other side. Histories always mention seven. Seven gateways, seven practices as far as the principals go…” Her tart was delicious, and apparently so was that cookie he was eating, if the way he was nibbling on it was any indication. She tapped her finger on the table, mimicking him. “One is supposedly here in Britain, held by the Department of Mysteries, though it is ‘neither confirmed nor denied.’ One is high in a Tibetan temple…nestled between peaks of the Himalayas. One exists in an origami exercise practiced by the Marquis de Sade…I know for a fact one rests in the well of the Dragon’s Palace. That’ why they built the building, to hide it. These gates…they resonate magic and death, and yet, who created them? How would somebody go about creating them? Are they just there? And is death really considered part of dark magic the way people demonize it to be?” ◙

21:24:14 [Iwamura] "Not supposedly. The Department of Mysteries does possess such a gate. Absolutely." A pause. "Until recently, there was one in Egypt, in a sandbar of the Nile Delta, hidden away by… rather ancient magic." Huian knew that one, of course. She and Krum had been there - at Anhuala - when Kali finally passed through to the other side like she'd so desired. Izzy picked up quickly. "How does one go about creating one? I couldn't tell you. Maybe they are just there, hmm. But…" He brushed his lips with his fingers, no longer occupied with his cookie. "It isn't death itself thats… dark. It's the act of taking a life. Death is part of a carefully ordered system, the last function of life. A Tibetan temple…" He thought on that for a long moment, as though a connection was springing to him quite suddenly. One that, somehow, he hadn't ever made before. "…the lines are fuzzy everywhere, I suppose. Between this side and the other. Between what is and isn't dark. It would make sense, that there are seven. Seven is a number of remarkable power. Which, considering it now, makes me somewhat uneasy about what happened in Egypt. But I suspect that's also a different discussion…"

21:33:57 Huian ◙ “Yes, but the act of taking a life…in itself, is a grey area. It’s not dark unless…” Unless what? Her eyes closed for a moment, her hands lifting, as if trying to mime a ball between them. “There is this. This ball.” Ah, so that was intentional. “This ball will destroy the world, but demands a life so it will not. It is a hungry ball. It is not evil, it simply wants it’s meal. You give it a life. You are not dark, you are saving millions of billions, by killing. It is a willful act. The person doesn’t want to die, so they fight, but you kill them anyway, because you wish to save more. Is that dark? To me, all the paths lead to death, lead to somebody making the decision who lives and dies, and by that, the death is on your hand and heart. If by your hand, it hurts your soul. So when, Izzy, does it become dark? When does it taint magic, if magic can be tainted by such things?” ◙

21:43:45 [Iwamura] "It's a matter of how you ask the question, I suppose. And a matter of how you define 'dark'." Izzy paused, thoughtfully. Actually, now something entirely other was nagging at him, unrelated entirely to this conversation they were having. But he didn't let it take over, just filed it off to the side where he could ponder on it… "What makes something dark, strictly speaking, I would say is whether we call it dark. Through our shared social construct. But that's getting into rather… metacontextual places. And isn't of great help to your question. Is it evil to kill one person to save many, many more? Philosophers have wrestled with that question for as long as there have been philosophers, Mulan." Just to keep the mood light. "Is it dark? I suspect we would not call it such, even if the deed were done by way of a Killing curse. Does it hurt your soul? Yes. Invariably. Killing changes you. And it marks your soul. I would argue that it isn't the magic that becomes tainted, but the one wielding it. What we call the Dark Arts are often - though, certainly, not always - simply workings of magic, expressions of will, more liable to leave those marks than others."

22:03:24 Huian ◙ She grinned at him, before wagging her finger. “I don’t know what they taught you in that school of yours, but we learned that magic is as much a philosophy as a power. Anything can be something, it all sews together. The strong of mind must be able to see magic as opportunity and determine the way it should be used, Izzypop. That was the first things we learned.” China always had been on a weird, different wavelength. “Dark to us was not so much a list of taboo, but in an opportunity where it was not justified and intended to be malicious…it was a taboo. There are spells that would get you locked in the prison here for using that are allowed, that are taught, because the philosophy is key.” They were…off topic. Going on tangents. She actually was really glad she ran into Izzy, because this was the most calm she had been. Nervous but calm, speaking about these things. If only she had a blank tome to have this all written down, to make sense of it later. “I don’t believe magic itself is dark. It simply is, and will always be, as we see it. But there are places where it…warps, where something taints pockets of it…when you make a curse, you put your will and malice into it…and it twists the magic, correct? Creating curses…actually creating them…not modifying the magic from what you know to make it easier…is a huge force of willpower to twist such a thing.” And she was back to thinking she was speaking in Cantonese, blinking a bit. “Because it is, but people have already carved the paths for spells known…and malice is exhausting, it drains your sanity and vitality…how were curses created? What happened to the creator in these cases? What price did they pay for making their mark in such a way, to carve out specific wavelengths of will that magic follows?” ◙

22:12:29 [Huian] /endscene, as they talk about more magic and cookies

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