April 23rd, 2098

21:04:16 [Harjo] The Conclave bustled with life. Exhibits, stalls, events, and shows were a dime a dozen, and Harjo felt exhausted by it all. She wanted nothing more than to head home, curl up in bed, and pretend the world no longer existed. Or get on a case. She had almost been roped into some big to-do in the middle of Diagon Alley, a kerfuffle that had Harjo and her partner and various other Aurors from the Wizard's Congress practically salivating. But it had been kept exclusively among the Ministry aurors, which Harjo figured was more than fair. No one wanted foreign law enforcement on their turf, even though they were still calming down from the events of the auror wars, when aurors from any country were liable to appear in yours, pursuing their side of the battle. She lifted one hand and rubbed her temple, the temptation to transform into a coyote and get the hell out of dodge becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. Fortunately, the end of the day marked a less packed Conclave event area. While there were evening events, there were also fewer families in attendance. Evening events, as ever, were geared more toward the adult crowd, and the petting zoos and child-friendly activities had already been packed away. A few remained, for the daft idiots who brought their children along to the night time shows, but not many. And not many parents were so daft. Harjo exhaled as she glanced around, turning down the alley that offered a bit of a relief from the pressure of the crowds. She hated crowds. They dulled her senses and made her jumpy. Paranoia, definitely one of those things you developed on the job, and one of those things she got the feeling would haunt her as long as she lived. "Wonder how packed the bar is…" She mused under her breath, though she glanced up and around. Knockturn Alley. Maybe she could bother Alaric. He didn't normally get out…unless she had caught him on one of those rare days.

21:19:13 [Alaric] Fucking Conclave. Alaric, too, was one of the few wizards who hated the idea of this ridiculous Wizard’s World Fair they had up and decided to heave on Diagon and Knockturn Alley occupants. It disturbed the quiet of his life. The first few days were filled with wide-eyed wizards and witches wandering into his shop for a look. The subsequent reviews of poor item quality and less-than-amicable service had most people avoiding the shop again, but still not nearly as much as the dull hum of the norm Alaric was used to. Out of cigarettes and fire-whiskey, Alaric found himself at a Knockturn Alley bar called Curses a Cup. It was an ugly place with a less-than-friendly customer base and a reputation for brawling that often spilled into the street. He sat in a corner, dimly lit by a candle, with a small tumbler and a bottle of his favorite brand of Bitterthorn’s Bloody Bourbon (it wasn’t really blood) - you know, the way loners did. Harjo was the last thing on his mind in that awful dump.

21:42:33 [Harjo] The awful little pub that Alaric occupied would have to do, especially since the seedy location and look (and name) were enough to keep the majority of Conclave goers from wandering in and getting a pint. No one wanted to go in and get robbed or struck…not the "good" Conclave attendees. Sure, there would be those who came in for the thrill, but it still wouldn't have anywhere near the same number of people as the Leaky Cauldron or other establishments on the main drag. As luck would have it, Harjo spied Alaric all too easily in the gloom, and she made her way toward him with the confident swagger of a woman secure in her abilities and unafraid of the crowd around her. She looked as well put together as always, opting today for a sleek gray pencil skirt, pinstriped, with smart black heels that didn't hurt her feet and a deep red dress shirt…the top three buttons undone and the sleeves rolled up. An undone tie was caught in her collar, though the ends hung loose against her chest. Her dark hair fell free, and her usual leather coat was nowhere to be seen. Her wand was strapped to her left hip, ready to grab at a moment's notice. "Somehow I'm not surprised to find you here. Seems like the sort of place you'd set up camp." She said without preamble, dropping into the seat across from him and angling her chair so that she had a good view of the room. Some things were too automatic to even pay mind to. "Are the people driving you crazy, or have you managed to scare them all from your door?"

22:08:35 [Alaric] He didn’t have to see her enter to know she had. The atmosphere shifted, heads turned, a wolf-whistle was thrown, and a distinct perfume wafted into the room. Still, he didn’t raise his head to find her. He let her come to him. And come to him she did (she always did). The tumbler was already poised to his mouth when she approached. “It serves its purpose. At least it isn’t peopled with a bunch of idiots from out of town,“ he replied. That pretty well answered her question. He tipped back the cup and set it down in front of Harjo without question. “And what’s a girl like you doing in a place like this, exactly?“ He knew, he just wanted to hear her admit it. Even if she tried to skirt the truth, he’d know and that was enough. 0-1 The score needed tending to, he thought.

22:18:28 [Harjo] She settled down and closed her eyes, head tilted back. She always came to him, sure, but that was only because she knew they'd never get anywhere otherwise. Alaric was a hermit and didn't seek anyone out. Harjo had no qualms admitting that it extended to her. But Coyote wanted to play, and Alaric was always one of her favorite choices. "Not a girl." She said first, holding up one long, elegant finger. "And I'm here for a stiff drink and to escape the idiots, just like you." She smiled, a predator's smile, and glanced at him. "Though I suppose someone might argue that we're those idiots from out of town, regardless of you having put down roots." She flagged someone down and caught some whiskey, holding up three fingers to indicate how much she wanted. She settled back, her head tilting as she surveyed the bar. "It's boring here. I haven't busted anyone or got to stretch my legs. I suppose everyone else thinks that's a good sign…And I should too." She didn't elaborate further on the thought, and instead took the glass that the server brought to her. She took a swig of the whiskey and closed her eyes, exhaling long and slow. Even though there was always a game between them, Jules seemed much less inclined for the usual back and forth as she made herself relax. One heel caught the chair next to her and drew it out enough that she could swing her legs up onto it, crossing them at the ankles.

22:26:15 [Alaric] Didn’t think anything of her not taking the cup offered her, simply pulled it back in his direction and poured himself another glass. He held it to his lips and smiled briefly into it at her reply. She was likely to catch it, even if he’d made sure to wait until she was “distracted”. Harjo was never distracted. “That’s why I like it,“ he said, placing the cup back down once he’d imbibed its contents. He leaned back in his chair and pilfered a pack of cigarettes from inside his jeans pocket. It was the draw of Knockturn Alley. It was boring. Nothing ever happened. Until a load of stupid wizards thought it was a good idea to throw a year-long party simply because they could. He stuck a cigarette between his lips, lit it, took a long drag, and sighed a cloud of smoke into the air. “Could always quit, go stir up some trouble back home,“ he teased, knowing she’d never do anything of the sort.

22:39:04 [Harjo] The smile brought a sly one to her own lips, and she eyed him for a moment before letting her gaze wander. Never distracted indeed. And score 1-1 for getting that reaction. "No question there." She said simply in reply to his statement. She took another swig of her drink, paused, then another, and set her glass down. "Only kind of trouble I'd be stirring would be vigilante justice on some shithead in West Virginia. Which is where I'd be now if my boss wasn't a prick." She rolled her head slowly along her shoulders, stretching her neck and sending her hair cascading behind her. "But I wouldn't quit. It's too fun to yank his chain, after all." She sighed, glanced at Alaric, and arched an eyebrow. "How long'd it take for your charms to scare off as many people as possible from your shop? And how do you keep in business?" So maybe she'd heard the gossip about the unpleasant shop and shopkeep. Or maybe she just knew Alaric well enough to know what his typical M.O. was.

22:52:17 [Alaric] She answered, and he took another lung of smoke. “The glories of being your own boss,“ he said, regarding the prick boss sentiment. It was a pretty sweet deal, but he didn’t really make anything. And he didn’t really like what he did. He wasn’t sure he’d like any occupation, really. Running his own shitty little shop in Knockturn Alley was to a career preference as he came. “Not long, scared of some scamp harpy and her pals the other day from stealing, though. That exciting enough for you?“ He shifted position and leaned cross-armed against the table, cigarette poised between his lips. “And I have a few antiquaries that keep in contact. They keep most of my business, mostly because I don’t have to see them face-to-face and they don’t ask a hell of a lot of stupid questions.“ That seemed to be the only part about owning his own shop that bugged him. Stupid people. And Both Diagon and Knockturn Alle were littered with them these days.

23:08:24 [Harjo] A snort escaped her as he mentioned being his own boss. There were private firms that handled investigative and protective work, but the auror office was the only place that Harjo would get the kind of fulfillment she craved from her job. "Nice as it may be, I'll settle for annoying the hell out of mine. He leaves me alone when I bite too hard, anyway." Which was true enough. Her boss left her alone mostly because Harjo was damn good at her job, and she had never been found associated with anything questionable or immoral. Rumors abounded that she was well on her way to being the next head-of-department, though whether the woman wanted it or not was anyone's guess. "Stealing. That's small stuff. Don't even need your wand to stop that." She said with a slight sigh, as though thinking back to her early days. "Oooh. Lucky you. Keep your shop afloat, never have to deal with people." She smirked. "Sounds like a dream, though I feel like you'd be happier just existing somewhere." Away -

23:21:56 [Alaric] Stealing may not have been an exciting event for Harjo, but it was more than enough for Alaric. He wasn’t a fan in the slightest. It was bad enough he had to deal with anyone, much less thieves. “wWere it that simple…“ he replied, and poured himself another glass of Bitterthorn’s. He didn’t mind the quiet. It was Harjo that felt unsettled by silence and lethargy. Then again, she wasn’t plagued with his brand of demons. He watched the room, content to just drink away his problems and go home alone to the comfort of his messy home and his obnoxious birds. Sherlock would, no doubt, be waiting for him by the door. Harjo, he was sure, had other plans in mind.

23:29:19 [Harjo] Contrary to Alaric's belief, silence suited her just fine…but lethargy less so. She needed to move, to run, to get out and do. Otherwise she went a little crazy. A little wild. Her father had joked that it was the coyote in their family. Harjo signaled for another glass of whiskey, her preferred brand being delivered to her in the form of a bottle. It was smooth, but it still had a strong enough kick that Harjo would feel it all the way down. "Do you ever miss the States, being over here?" She glanced at him, one eyebrow lifting with the question. Despite the nosy, prying nature, it was more casual conversation than anything. Harjo had never considered moving abroad, despite extensive travel.

23:39:55 [Alaric] He polluted more of the pub’s air with smoke and flicked the ashes into a little black tray on the table. Her question gave him pause. He wasn’t sure if she was searching for a specific answer or just trying to pass the time. After another moment’s contemplation he replied with a shrug, “Not really. Maybe the space. Britain doesn’t exactly rival home for unoccupied land.“ That was true enough. There was certainly space to run when he needed it, but the vastness was in no way similar. There were whole stretches of empty land in Wyoming he’d come to love in that time before he migrated to England- thousands and thousands of unmarred acreage he could live off of for as long as he pleased. Still, nothing had quite removed him from his life in America or his family like the Atlantic. “What about you?“ He let her wonder for a few seconds what it was he meant before elaborating, “What is it that keeps you chained to the good ol’ U.S. of A?“ He poured himself another shot.

23:51:33 [Harjo] A few moments passed and she pulled her own cigarettes from a hidden pocket on her person, perhaps tucked into the hip of her skirt to counterbalance the wand on the other side. She lit it and took a drag, closing her eyes as she listened to Alaric's response. His reply…and the following question…received no reply from her at first as she simply took another drag of her cigarette and lounged, eyes closed, head back. Eventually, with an exhale of smoke, she spoke. "The space. Coyotes like to roam free, and I have an attachment to the family property in Oregon." While she'd been born and raised in Portland, her family had a large plot of land in her home state. Large enough that a coyote could get lost for days. A werewolf, too. It was unplottable, and had muggle repelling charms. "My roots are old and deep in that soil."

00:06:24 [Alaric] He stole more than a few glances in her direction while her gaze was occupied by the underside of her eyelids. Her lips pursed when she spoke, they seemed to move separately from the rest of her. It was like years of control had stopped her face from emoting any emotion underneath. It was only in the tone of her voice that he ever really drew feeling from her. She was an ace. He pressed the butt of his cigarette into the ashtray and repositioned his chair to put his feet on the table. “We should all be so lucky,“ he muttered, scratching the side of his face. And she was, at that.

00:15:23 [Harjo] His looks didn't go unnoticed, but they went unremarked upon. She was relaxed as she could be in a dive of a bar. "Lucky." She made a sound, part scoff, part laugh, and her head lited, her eyes opened, and she settled her gaze on him. "Yeah. Perhaps." There were deeper and darker stories related to her family's property in Oregon. Not that she felt terribly inclined to share. But then, she never did share much. "Luck is a sham." She finished her second glass and poured herself a third, watching the amber liquid slosh into the glass for a moment before her gaze lifted to Alaric, unphased, unemotional. She was all emotionless looks and straight faces…aside from those occasional glimpses of something more, though they were few and far between.

00:23:40 [Alaric] “Understatement of the century,“ he barked back with his mirrored version of that same scoff/laugh combination. He watched her pour herself another glass and pulled his feet back down to the floor. He poured his own and poised it to toast, “To shams and shitty families.“ The corner of his mouth turned up in a knowing smirk. They were two of a kind, products of twisted backgrounds and uncertain futures. Their differences seemed to settle on drive: she was perfectly happy with distracting herself, and Alaric preferred to stew in his solitude. To sides of the same coin. It was all implied in the look he gave her, anxiously anticipating the clink of their glasses.

00:30:50 [Harjo] A genuine laugh escaped her at his toast, but she clinked her glass to his nonetheless, her eyes meeting his over the rims, her smile echoing his smirk before she kicked back a drink. She set the glass down with a long sigh, and pushed her fingers through silky black strands, drawing them away from her angular face. "Shitty families and blood on the ground." She mused, her eyes closing for a moment once more. She glanced at him, her head tilted to the side. "That's why I make my own luck. And use my tricks and wiles to swing things in my favor." She drained the last of her glass, poured herself another. She didn't even look tipsy yet.

00:38:29 [Alaric] He paused to take her in for a precious second before knocking back his own drink. Neither of them looked touched by the affects of alcohol. It was almost enough to make one wonder about their drinking habits. He let loose a stray chuckle at tricks and wiles. She was fluent in both, as he was well aware. Several tables away, a pair of men began to quarrel, and Alaric looked on. Sometimes he missed the thrill of a fight. He remembered getting into a fair few back at Candlecross. It was as much a surprise to him as anyone else that he was never expelled. His eyes turned glossy; it seemed like such a long time ago. A deep inhale and he was back in the present, and glancing over at Harjo. How much did she actually miss being home?

00:41:02 [Harjo] Her head turned at the sound of fighting, and she watched for a moment as the brawl started in earnest between them. A slight smile formed, more a flash of teeth than an actual smile, and she looked back to Alaric…just in time to catch that last glance sent her way. She'd been thinking of their time at Candlecross, too. She was a year above him, technically, but she'd known him. And had been present for more than a few of those fights. "Something just crossed your mind. Question is, are you going to ask that something or not." She said with a sly smile.

00:52:41 [Alaric] He poured himself another drink while she spoke, and stared at the cup for what felt like a long draw of silence. “I think you know the answer to that question,“ he said, without glancing at her, and downed his glass. One of the men sent a haymaker at his opponent and sent him crashing into a table. Alaric didn’t seem fazed in the least. He stood up and plucked two galleons and three sickles from his pocket to set on the table and wrapped his fingers around the bottle’s throat. He tossed Harjo a passing glance that asked her if she wanted to walk him down the road to his flat, and began toward the door without a reply. If she wanted to come, she would. He didn’t put pressure on needing any answers. It was part of the ease of their “relationship” - if you could call it that.

01:05:01 [Harjo] A short laugh escaped her at his reply, and she shook her head. "Yeah, but your answer is the boring route." She said with another soft chuckle. She watched as he got to his feet, and after a moment of consideration she grabbed her own bottle and did the same. Long legs swung off the chair, heels clicked the hardwood, and she stood up with a slight roll of her shoulders and the subtlest tug of her pencil skirt back into place. She had finished her cigarette at some point, but as they departed the pub, she fished a new one from her pocket and settled it between her lips. With the same hand, she dug out a lighter and lit it up, inhaling slowly until the tip burned cherry red. The lighter disappeared, and she plucked the cigarette from her lips on an exhale. "Swanky crowd." She murmured, referencing the fight they left behind.

01:18:51 [Alaric] They always seemed to operate on similar wavelengths. Just as Jules grabbed herself another cigarette, Alaric did the same. He hissed in a lungful of smoke and blew it back into the dimly lit Alley, leaving the cigarette between his lips and his hands to find a home in the pockets of his denim jacket. His head turned to aim a casual glance over his shoulder, “You know me.“ That she did. And probably as much as anyone ever could know him. It idly reminded him of Lilium and the crass way she’d gone about asking him about his condition. His brow creased above his nose for a half second and he was pulling the cigarette from his mouth to tap ashes onto the ground. Alaric brushed passed a pair of sight-seeing wizards that seemed to be fascinated with the dark atmosphere of Knockturn Alley. He was half-tempted to watch them as they passed Curses a Cup at the very moment one of the brawlers was tossed out onto the street. Instead, he leveled his attention at the road ahead and his shop just up the way.

01:22:38 [Harjo] "You always were a classy man." The comment was dry, though humorous, and she smiled as she took another drag from her cigarette. She exhaled the smoke slowly, taking a moment to blow a smoke ring. Smoking was one of those nasty habits she'd picked up in a rebellious stage…and never had the good sense to quit. The tourists were ignored. Unimportant in her eyes and liable to get themselves into trouble if they lingered in Knockturn Alley much longer. Even if she knew someone who owned a shop here, she knew the general clientele had not changed over time. Dark witches and wizards felt more at home down this narrow alley than anyone 'respectable'. "Bet you she screams first." Came her comment a moment before one of the brawler's hit the street. The shriek that followed drew a smile across her lips, even though there hadn't been time for Alaric to take or deny the bet.

01:29:59 [Alaric] He finally offered another brief respite from his directive to take in the couple down by the pub, but didn’t linger. The man was collecting the woman and heading back in the direction they came, finding a dead end where the pub met a shop at the bottom of the Alley. “Bloody tourists,“ he commented under his breath. It never occurred to him how strange it sounded to hear an American use British slang. Harjo was sure to give him hell for it. “Do I owe you a prize,“ he asked, barely affording her a modicum of attention. The cigarette found its way back to his mouth again, and rested (unassisted) between his lips for the remainder of the walk. A few more shops and he was home, with cargo. He silently wondered if she had intentions to stay.

01:33:55 [Harjo] "That depends on what you have to offer." She replied. She flicked ash from her cig, took another drag, then put it out against the brick of a building. The half finished cigarette disappeared into her pocket, and she walked along beside him, only the soft click of her heels announcing her movements. She didn't wear them often, preferring shoes that let her move silent and deadly. But for Conclave purposes, dressing "stylishly" had been "heavily encouraged." "But seeing as you didn't have time to make a proper response, we'll let it slide." She tilted her head back, glancing up at the visible strip of sky from the city street. It was different from home…she couldn't see any stars with all the lights. When Alaric let them in, she slid inside and out of the way, moving through the stacks of things with ease. She'd only been in the shop once, but already she could maneuver through the clutter. "One day you'll dust, and the value of this stuff will go up by double."

01:46:56 [Alaric] He smirked a little at her reply, generously hidden by his beard; though, Harjo noticed everything. He slid his key into the lock, turned his wrist, and it clicked free. The door creaked open and Alaric held it behind him for however long it took Jules to follow, then shut it behind her with another click of the lock. It was pitch dark and Alaric felt obliged to lift his wand with a quiet, “Lumos.“ He was all-too-used to the maze that led back to his flat, and nearly grinned at her remark. “And on that day, I’ll jump out of my wheelchair and do a little dance.“ They reached the top of the stairs with an accompanying “Nox.“ Alaric flicked on the light switch and began to pull off his jacket. Sherlock was quick to greet him, wagging tail and all. Harjo received a much more alarming welcome with shouts of alarm that only dissipated after a minute or so of acquainting himself with her by sniffing generously at her feet no matter how she moved about the room. He tossed his jacket onto the couch and entered the tiny kitchen to fetch a pair of scotch glasses - he was sure neither of them was finished drinking for the night.

01:55:16 [Harjo] She did notice everything. It was one of those things she'd always done well…observed. And it had become a handy skill when she wound up an auror, when she started dealing with situations where the tiniest detail could reveal the depths of a scheme, or show the moment something had been altered. It was just funny to use it in non-work situations, to play things to her advantage. She snorted as he replied to her comment about dusting, and made her way up the stairs behind him with a roll of her eyes. "I'd threaten to get you a maid, but you'd be liable to eat her." She stepped into the flat and moved into the living room, only greeting Sherlock once she had settled down comfortably on the couch. She let him get used to her, held out her hand for him to sniff, and eventually scratched him behind the ears. "A crup. I'd make a comment about keeping muggles away, but you're in the middle of a wizarding community here." She watched as he disappeared into the kitchen, and while he did so she slid her heels and shifted so that she leaned on her left hip and the arm of the couch, her feet tucked underneath her.

02:06:55 [Alaric] He shrugged and brought her a glass, “He’s had his tail snipped.“ He poured himself another glass of Bloody Bourbon and added, “I know I’m a monster and all, but I do follow the law, if you can believe it.“ His tone was snarky, at best - so maybe he was slightly insulted by her insinuations about his character. Sherlock, however, wasn’t the least bit offended. He was still busy sniffing at Harjo to identify just what other creatures she was in contact with, and getting rather personal, as it were. Alaric’s mouth cocked in a half grin and he sat down in the emerald chair she’d occupied on her last visit. Another interloper appeared by way of a pale, fat Diricrawl who popped into existence only a short distance from Sherlock. Dodgson took it upon himself to check the pup with a nip at his tail. Sherlock turned to snap back, but Dodgson was flanking his opposite side and nipping at him again. It was the goofy-looking bird’s attempt at playing tag.

02:10:47 [Harjo] A roll of the eyes followed his snarky tone, and she peered at him through her lashes for a moment as she poured herself a fresh glass and took to sipping it. "I never said you didn't. I just find a creature that dislikes muggles rather fitting for you…someone who dislikes everyone." She grinned at him and took a drink of her whiskey, her eyes closing for a moment as a slight shiver ran through her. When she opened her eyes, they settled on Sherlock and Dodgson, watching in amusement at the way the bird played tag with the poor crup. Sherlock just couldn't quite keep up with the Diricrawl. "Edgar and Maggie play that way. Edgar gets very frustrated after a few minutes, though." She commented, more to herself than to him. Her small little menagerie was made up of less interesting creatures, but they were hers all the same.

02:22:23 [Alaric] “We’re kindred spirits, me and mine. We’re pretty well the only ones who can tolerate one another. Except for Hermes. That ass gets along with everyone,“ he rolled his eyes. Hermes, as if he heard Alaric, flapped his wings across the room on his open perch. He turned his attention back to Sherlock and Dodgson and shrugged, “They keep me from having to entertain them and they’re better company than almost anyone I meet.“ He glanced over at the teardrop-shaped nest of the last of his residents and shook his head, “Just be glad you didn’t come on a rainy day. He’s miserable when he’s forecasting.“ Not that he wasn’t miserable anyway, but Alaric quite enjoyed the painful cry - morbid though it might be, it was like he shared something with it. In fact, he liked to think he shared a trait with each of his pets. It was the only reason he really kept them around, except Hermes. Hermes was more for the shop than he was company for Alaric, even if he did have a pleasant countenance.

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