April 21st, 2098

14:19:35 Huian ◙ A day not out in the alley. A day for herself…technically, not working, since Mikail was in Canada with his aunt and uncle for a bit. It was a little vacation, and honestly, it wasn’t like she was hurting for money, having saved up enough just from the Burnhexes alone to last until the summer comfortably. That’s when her schedule would really fill up…as of right now, Huian was enjoying the quiet, a swath of fabric pinned to a dress form, her hair pulled up in a messy bun to keep it from her face, even though a couple locks had escaped and fell into her eyes. Meiling was on the table next to her, laying across a notebook. Earlier, the woman had tried to get some theory work done, but the cat had certainly put a damper to that. All in all, in this day, things were…quiet. ◙

14:29:58 [Porthman] Meredith decided to get redressed and out to Huian’s after his extremely disappointing conversation with Hippolytus. They’d have work to do tonight, after the sun was well down so darkness and cultural norms could give them a little bit of cover, but for now – he’d promised his tutor friend a visit. A lot of note-checking, apparition, and a walk later, he was in Huian’s building and on – what he believed to be – the right track. Meredith opted for the stairs to find his friend’s apartment instead of wasting powder to floo there, and soon enough, she’d have company announcing his presence with a crisp, clean set of knocks.

14:40:49 Huian ◙ The knocking she heard, but Huian didn’t go to get the door. No, that was reserved for Huang, who was on his way out (Actually wearing Quidditch practice robes and his hair in a French braid.) “Hold your balls!” And the door was thrown open, and there was a staring contest, before the man pointed in, and shuffled out. “Don’t let her stab you.” Well…that was…interesting. Huian looked up, off in the designated work space by the living area (Using the layout corner of the space to do so)…Her apartment was lovely. Large, dark wood floors, the entire side with huge windows and doors to a patio large enough that she could use for a party alone…it spanned the entire length of the apartment…modern kitchen…comfortable but stylish furniture…a wall with a built in bookcase. Huian had a classy place. She herself grinned, and pointed to the dark grey couch as the cat looked up, flicking her ear, and hopped off the work table to investigate the newcomer warily. ◙

14:50:07 Porthman was, to say the least, a little distressed when he heard a very familiar, grating voice answer his knock – followed by a face that’d been intimate with his fist crack the door open. Meredith practically held his breath as Huang invited him in and promptly excused himself. The auror watched the odd Quidditcher down the hall a second before walking through the threshold. “Huian?” He called as he edged in, only to be greeted by a point toward the couch (which he cautiously obeyed) and a cautious cat to investigate him. Meredith gave the cat no mind; in his experience, if the little beasts aren’t flopping all over you, they probably don’t want you to touch them. “You asked me around?” He questioned as he closed in on the couch – but hesitated to actually sit down and scanned her work in his indecisive dither.

15:07:04 Huian ◙ She was working on…something…with scarlet fabric. Several shades of scarlet, really. A bunch of them were pinned and she seemed to be eyeing the variations, looking between them and a design drawn, before pinning another color to see contrast…and then shaking her head and walking away from the form, closing her theory book along the way. Messy bun, a tank top, a pair of shorts…it was rather comfortable in her apartment, despite the large windows that would usually make it drafty. (She also had a massive scar on her left calf, and was that a sign of tattoos along her shoulder blades?) Meiling, however, sniffed delicately at Mop’s shoes, before winding her way around his ankles once, only to leap onto the back of the couch while the Chinese woman opened the fridge, and leaned back. “Go ahead and sit down. Do you want something to drink?” Yes, no, maybe so? ◙

15:16:35 Porthman sat down on the couch tentatively. He was coiled like a snake ready to spring back up at any second. “No, no—thank you. I’m alright.” Mop answers Huian’s courtesy quickly with a dismissive wave to his hand. He was getting a bit restless… even though he had no real reason to. He had to fill the space that made him awkward… so he regurgitated the information Hippolytus had told him earlier. “Valen died in custody.” Just like that, the auror flung the bomb out on the table. It was only then that Meredith realized he had no follow-up for that gem, so he drummed out a short, anxious tune on his knees before adding. “How about that, aye?”

15:22:16 Huian ◙ He was nervous, and she headed over to the couch with a juice box for herself, and a bottle of water for him, just in case. Plopping in the seat across from him, crossing her legs, and just blinking at the news. “I doubt he’ll stay dead.” That was…odd. Almost like she was contemplating the words. Anyway. “What’s wrong? You’re acing like I’m going to tell your parents you swore at me.” It really was confusing, actually, and it showed on her face. “Did I do something? Was it Huang? I’m not actually going to stab you, you know, he’s just being melodramatic that I told him to move his hand out of the way of the pins, and he got pricked.” ◙

15:28:39 [Porthman] “Actually—…” Meredith was about to delve right into that ‘doubt he’ll stay dead’, but Huian evolved the conversation too quickly. “Pins?” He parroted back and – immediately – gave another glance to the work station Huian abandoned for her kitchen trip. “Are we doing something with pins?” His question and interest were a very nice way to avoid her inquisition on his comfort level. If he didn’t need to tell his utterly insignificant reasons for why he was crawling up the walls, he would not. Last time he tried to divulge his feelings to another hadn’t ended well and he’d only felt more restless than when he started. For Huian’s sake, he built up a better mask – more composure – so she didn’t have to worry about him. Meredith’s eyes flipped between Huian and the work station and he had a feeling he could draw an educated guess to answer his question, but figured he’d wait to remove all doubt.

15:44:39 Huian ◙ Too late, she was worried. Her head had tilted, and she set her juice box on the table…eyeing the form. “I’m making dresses for my sisters. They’ll be twelve soon. Yue likes red, and Jing-mei is partial to green.” It really didn’t matter. She did have pictures though, on the table, and gestured to one…her between identical girls, all with a silly face on. It didn’t move. None of her photos did. But it was a gift, and she had lots of time. In any case, she leaned back, and eyed him with a lopsided smile…”You really are bad at hiding your nerves, you know that?” A hand pointed to her face, and she smiled even wider. “I can see it. If you don’t want to talk about it, it’s fine…but I ask you try not to fake in my home, okay? It’s just…sort of…” She didn’t know, and shrugged, rubbing her calf lightly, before blinking once. “So have you made a date with Noriko yet?” ◙

15:57:30 Porthman scoffed out a singular laugh despite himself when Huian raised up and called him out. His eyes dropped to her legs when she fidgeted with them, but were soon back at her face. “No oneelse calls my cards, Ms. Li.” Meredith mentioned as he leaned back over his knees. “So… I’d like to politely disagree—but I won’t; your house, your rules, aye?” He restlessly drummed on his knees and gave her a loose smile. “I’ve not—“ Meredith started on her question, but revised “well, I have.. in a sense… but… no? No. We’ll go with no, shall we?” He asked – told – and leaned back on the couch to look at Huian’s cat. She looked far too pleased with herself… but that was just the impression he got of all cats. “Why?” Mop’s eyes returned to Huian, green as ever.

16:05:11 Huian ◙ Nobody else called the cards, and she smiled, brightly, and winked at him playfully. “I have to call cards. Between figuring out how Kieran feels when he’s in a mood and sifting through what Huang says to determine when he actually means to insult and it’s not just spewing out of his mouth on habit, I think I could make a living gambling.” Well, no, not really, but it was a joke. She was trying to lighten up his mood. Meiling flicked her tail when she was looked at, giving the cat’s signature look of disinterest and disdain. “Because…you like her, of course. And she likes you.” It was as simple as that. Her fingers tapped her leg. “Is this nervousness about Valen dying?” The way the word was said…she didn’t believe it. Not in the slightest. ◙

16:14:43 [Porthman] There was a moment where Mop had to turn his eyes away from his friend as she gave her take on ‘why’. When he came back to her, he was grinning again. Mop was somewhat apprehensive about his relationship with Noriko. While he didn’t like to look to the future, eventually, she’d leave England – what else was she to do when the Cup packed up? Was he supposed to ask her to stay with someone she’d only known a couple months by that point? Was he supposed to drop his things and take off with her? The whole thing’s shelf life didn’t look good, but for now, Huian was right. When his host went full-circle back to Valen, Mop sucked in an uneasy breath. “Well, that could bloody well be part of it, aye? It’s awfully suspect—and it never looks good when a criminal dies in custody, aye? The day after going in, no less!” So yes, he was worried. He was worried that Hippolytus was on to something and if so— worried for Gloriana's safety and future. He was worried for his coworkers and even people he hadn't met yet.

16:22:07 Huian ◙ If he ever wanted advice on how those sort of things worked, he could always ask how she was in a relationship with a man in Bulgaria at the moment. As it was the conversation was a bit more serious than love lives…and she slid her feet onto her chair, sitting cross legged and resting her palms on her knees. Her expression had shifted. A true shift. There was no smile on her lips, and her eyes were sharp. “I told you to look at his arm when you apprehended him. You don’t like being told what to do, In understand that…but as I was talking to Izzy yesterday, the point came up…a man does not used magic like that, twist and sacrifice, do that work, to just easily let others take him, and he will not let himself be killed by that point. What he did was a magic I had not seen. I doubt very much he is dead, and if I were your Auror corps, I would have made sure he would have stayed dead.” Wait, Huian, the Minister of Niceness, according to Izzy, was saying she would have enforced the death? Well that was a bit…jarring. Her tone was serious, but mild at the same time, as if chiding the government for lack of common sense.

16:33:39 [Hippolytus] And just then, a polite little scratching would come at the window. Perched just on the sill would be an ever so tidy little owl – Winifred. She shuffled back and forth and ruffled her feathers a bit to be permitted. If and when she was, she presented the talon that bore a note on blue paper with a finely embellished “B” at the top. The contents of the note were tersely addressed to “Port” and written in an ink that would need revealing. They were as follows: “Going to check the validity of my concerns tonight. Come along.” And following would be the name of the graveyard and a plot number. Signed off: “Botts.”

16:39:36 [Porthman] “That’s… really not my department. After he was apprehended, I had nothing to do with Valen. I shouldn’t have even been on the case. It was just…” he looks for another point to focus on “…an accident. I didn’t know he was going to be at the Cauldron until I got there. Darby – my supervisor – her team took him in. He was processed from there.” He paused, found Huian’s face again, and continued: “You don’t have to sell anything to me; I agree with you. The report, his cause of death, his burial – Botts and I were talking about it this morning. It’s all… there’s nothing right about it. It seems so… sloppy—but recommending we incinerate dark wizards doesn’t seem to sit well with our sensitive politics.” Meredith raised his hands as if in surrender and let them drop soon thereafter. “Whatever magic he used on that accursed limb was… you’re right.” Disturbing, unsettling – take your pick. Mop should have blasted it off when he had the chance instead of collecting the man with nonlethal measures. It would have been so easy to do with the fuck disarmed. Of course, his thoughts and concerns are derailed with the noise on Huian’s bay windows. When Mop’s attention turns to the patio, who does he see there but Winifred, looking to be let in. “That’s—that’s Botts now.” He flicked his finger to the patio. “Well, Winifred—not…” Mop stopped himself, stood, and before he went over to go out and accept Botts’ message from the owl, excused himself. “You know, one second.”

16:49:38 Huian ◙ Sometimes, British practices were too hard and other times it was too soft. Burning the dead would have been smart. Not removing the arm was stupid, for anybody handling him. Her hand pushed her hair from her eyes, before pulling down her bun and redoing it as the tap to the windows occurred. Meiling moved then, from the back of the couch to Huian’s lap, curling up and purring. A nod. He could get the message. It’s not like she was going anywhere. Her hand stroked the cat, and rubbed under her chin…and she was quietly thinking. But she’d wait, wait until Mop addressed her again, if he wasn’t going to leave. She was still debating on giving him the book. “You looked like you wanted to make his head explode.” ◙

16:57:55 Porthman returned soon after with a miffed Winifred flying off while he tore into and read the letter. When he got back to the couch, Mop opted out of sitting, but folded his note up and stuffed it in his pocket. Huian’s question brought him right back into the current, but he didn’t know what to say. There were a number of things he would have liked to do to Valen. If he were in a locked room with no witnesses, there were a select few things he would have really loved to try. The fact of the matter was that he was not and he did not… and there was no reason to divulge his wants and desires if it were only going to bring more questions. He agreed—in the simplest possible terms. “I could have.” Then, he told the unfortunate truth: “but I didn’t.” Mop’s attention had slipped slowly back onto Huian and he rested his eyes on hers. Huian was of a stronger constitution than Noriko—she hardly seemed bothered by a stated fact. Noriko was so jarred by the anticlimactic showdown that she was practically to the point of tears when he’d collected her (though he promised he’d never tell). “Iiii… didn’t.” It was a shame – Valen really would have looked great without a head.

17:06:32 Huian ◙ No, she wasn’t bothered. In fact, she was smiling up at him gently, eyes locked on his face, as if determine something. Not judging, but looking as if she should say… “I would have.” “Just because you are good, does not mean you should be soft. It’s something I don’t understand here…it’s always honor before reason…Refuse to take off a cursed devil arm, refuse to burn the dead…it’s as if they want another war…” Back to petting her cat, but her eyes never left him, her tone mild and as soft as ever, her smile sweet. She was as Huian as Huian could get on that scale. “But you were angry. It was good you didn’t. Anger clouds the best judgments, and should you find yourself against him again, it would be best, and more satisfying for you, if you are calm in your thoughts. Magic is will, and precision works best.” Oh…this wasn’t…she immediately looked sheepish. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be giving you revenge advice. It’s bad manners.” ◙

17:24:06 Porthman practically scoffed at ‘honor before reason’. “No offense taken.” He ultimately promises and waves away her concern. “British laws are kind of rubbish, but I’m not the one who makes them. I don’t even have to enforce them. I just have to bring those who egregiously break them to heel. I suspect I’d be canned if I couldn’t reel in my emotions when the shit hits the fan.” Mop went to sit on the couch, but decided to lean on the armrest until he was reprimanded to do otherwise. By nature, none of Mop’s racing thoughts were ‘calm’. He’d learned to operate under those conditions from a young age and obfuscate anything he didn’t want to be seen. Even now, though he’d loosed up since his arrival, he remained guarded. “Regardless,” Meredith pulled the note from his pocket and unfolded it for Huian to see. “Botts and I are going to check out Valen’s plot tonight.” As if the offer for her to read the paper from where she was could be sufficient enough, the auror folds it back up with one hand and shoves it in the pocket underneath him once more. “I’ll let you know what we find.”

17:35:45 Huian ◙ The note was seen, and she looked down at the cat that had flopped to her back, petting the stomach until her hand was caught between claws and bitten lightly, let go…and the doing so again. “You don’t have to. I am very sure there is nothing there.” A glance up, and her brows furrowed. “But I do want you to be careful. I’m tired of losing friends if it doesn’t have to happen. Please be careful, yes?” people going to graves in the night to dig up corpses was a horror movie waiting to happen. It never turned up well, and even though she was sure that Valen wasn’t dead…she could never put her thoughts past that it might be a trap. Meiling left her lap then, and Huian watched her go, an odd look on her face, before standing, brushing off her legs…and then grinning in a way that was reminiscent of her cousin. “I have a gift for you.” Well… “Only, not really. Sort of. You can borrow it indefinitely.” ◙

17:50:58 [Porthman] “Of course. I’m always careful. Who do you think you’re talking to?” It’s not like Mop was Archie - though, as soon as he thought that, he felt a small twinge of regret. “Anyway, I figure we’ll check it out to remove all doubt. I think you’re right. I don’t suspect we’ll find anything there.” Then, they’d have to decide if they were going to raise the alarm or… what. Huian changed the tone of the conversation and he went along with it. “Borrow… a gift…” he began. “What?”

18:00:39 Huian ◙ Her smile was bright and infectious, and she practically bounced over to the bookshelf, pulling out an old leather diary looking one…it was a handsome cover, gold and blue, and she moved to hand it to him. “I got this when I was thirteen. Huang decided upon himself to make me a list of curses and spell I would need to know if I was ever in a duel to the death.” She blushed in embarrassment, before handing it over. “I never did get into many duels, so most of them I learned, and then never used. You’re a fellow Ravenclaw…you like knowledge…and…” Her mouth shut, and she rocked back on her heels, leaving the rest unsaid. ‘And you really wanted to curse him.’ “Anyway. There are ones in here that never made it to the west…ancient secret spells, and…a few of them might be considered dark. There’s one in there that sloughs flesh off bone slowly….” Hmm. That was a good one to use. Thoughtful for a moment, before she shook her head. “Be careful with it, okay?” Holy hell. ◙

18:15:39 Porthman took the book gingerly when it was handed to him, as if its contents might bite. His attention was slowly but surely drawn more to the book as Huian explained what she had handed to him. The auror immediately began to thumb through the book, diving in as she continued. He didn’t for long – Meredith slapped the thing closed after a couple seconds and turned his attention back to Huian. “Brilliant.” He brought the book up for show and wiggled it around in delight. “This is the nicest gift anyone’s given to me—the gift of turning people inside out. I’ll take care of it.” Mop grinned, but he had to exhale and change the conversation’s tone once more. “I should head out, though. Bott’ll need me and we ought to talk before we head out tonight.”

18:21:20 Huian ◙ A nod, and she smiled again, fondly, before kissing her fingers and tapping them to his cheek. “Good luck, Meredith. Please be careful and make sure Hip doesn’t fall in a hole.” Huian didn’t have much else to say, going back to her chair and flopping in it, reaching to the table for the letter she had gotten the day before…before calling out to the man before the door would close behind him. “Oh! And remember! When you kiss Noriko, be confident! Women love confidence!” ◙

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