April 27th, 2098

16:18:50 [Porthman] A whole day had gone by without any progress – though, Meredith didn’t miss work or worry during the time he’d been missing. He had a laundry list of things to attend to now that he was back on planet Earth. Prioritizing was easy enough. His first stop was Huian’s doorstep with a hot latte in one hand and a bag slung over his opposite shoulder. Meredith raised his free hand to rap a couple knuckles against the woman’s door… with no guarantee that his friend would actually be there.

16:27:00 Huian ◙ A knock on her door. That’s what brought her out of her little world of…well, actually, she couldn’t hear it. She had her music on, listening to an old mix of music. Muse was on now, and she was singing along, making tiny stiches in the dress to hem it. A relaxing day, if the scattering of papers and notebooks all over her living room was testament to last night’s research. All she had to do was finish this hem, and the dress would be done. So what brought her to the door? She was going to collect her mail. The dress finished and put on the dummy, and she opened her door a moment later, ready to trek down the stairs to fetch her—-oh. A blink, and Huian was staring at Mop’s chest, like, right there, and a cup of something. A step back, and she tilted her head, the music still blaring, and one eyebrow rose. “Porthman.” ◙

16:35:50 [Porthman] “Hey! Huian!” Mop greeted cheerfully, but didn’t dare step in his friend’s house uninvited. “How are you? I just wanted to check in after…” his eyes dove away from Huian’s face when he couldn’t bring himself to say anything more. He continued by lifting his bag’s strap to give it a bounce on his shoulder and push the latte out a little further into no-man’s-land as a peace offering. “I just wanted to see if you were alright. You looked… shook up…” Meredith trailed off again after finding her face, but silently urged himself to continue “…and I was out of line.”

16:44:33 Huian ◙ She was trying very hard to…to not…just smile and forgive him. It was hard to retain the placid expression she had, and the politely neutral tone. Instead, her arms crossed over her chest, and she gave him once over, nothing everything. (She felt messy, with the loose braid and the wearing of her cousin’s shirt [They’d been stealing it from each other for the better part of a decade.] over some torn jeans, a notable bruise over her throat.) The apology was noted, and she let out a breath, long and slow and losing her eyes, before standing to the side, and tilting her head to the apartment. He could come in. You know…since she had swiped the latte out of his hand. Toll paid. “It’s fine. I’m not hurt more than I expected to be. I’m certainly not shook up.” If he entered, she’d close the door, before drinking more. “But I am half expecting you to try and hit me with a memory spell.” ◙

16:58:52 Porthman relinquished his hold on the latte as soon as Huian had her grip on it. He was nervous to cross the threshold – as if he were expecting to burst into flames when he entered her apartment. With consideration to his accepted peace treaty, Meredith toed his way in and felt the waters before he relaxed. His breath of relief was murdered before it had a chance to live, however, when Huian hit him with a terrible fantasy. “I—what?” Mop was genuinely wounded by her confession, but did his best to muffle how offended he truly was. “Why would I do that to you?’ He asked, taking it upon himself wander a little further into the apartment and sling his bag onto her couch. “Over what?” But his train of thought was disrupted when he could keep quiet about the painful discoloration around her throat no longer: “do you want me to fix that?”

17:08:39 Huian ◙ “Because, it was written all over your partner’s face. Your grudge is a bit outside the law.” Her hand waved the thought easily away, and she was grinning at him, before her brows furrowed at his exclamation, before her fingers brushed the bruise, rolling a shoulder in a shrug. “No, it’s fine. I bruise easily enough, it doesn’t hurt. Nothing to fix.” She wandered in herself, turning down her music and setting the half-finished latte on the coffee table. “Look, I don’t care what you do, crusade away, Mopsie.” A grin at him. “Just don’t assume to protect anybody when you’re angry. It never works. Trust me, I know. Are you here for a lesson? You brought the fee, unless this was a peace gesture…” She really should be cleaning up all her thesis papers. They were just…everywhere. “But I’m free, unless…I don’t know.” ◙

17:27:37 Porthman opened his mouth a few times to speak… but stopped each time as Huian continued to rattle on and move about the apartment. “Have you seen Botts? He looks about as malicious as a doe.” He could have said any number of things after that, but with the sound her drink made when it hit the coffee table and the amount of time that had elapsed, Meredith couldn’t afford to indulge small talk. “Huian.” The auror ventured worriedly. She was likely to connect the dots in a second when her head began to swim. “We’ll get to that later—“ he moved nearer to the coffee table. Her limbs had to be heavy by now. “Right now… I need you to sit down.” Mop’s request was strained and worried as he let his eyes drift poignantly from his friend to the half-empty drink on the table in front of him.

17:46:51 Huian ◙ She was connecting the dots, faster than Mop could possibly anticipate…just like she had figured out some things last night, along with the symptoms she had noticed. Click click click, the gears in her head went, the dots made a picture, and she opened her mouth to speak before she blinked rapidly, vision blurring for a moment, head swirling in a wibbly wobbly for a second. Her fingers left the cup, and she pressed them to her forehead, one eye closing as if warding off a headache. Woah. Too much caffeine? She’d been running off it for about ten hours straight. When did she last eat? A blink again, before she looked at Mop, and his expression as he spoke to her. Sitting down would be nice, she felt…well, like she should probably eat a pea—-why was he staring at her drink? Her nose scrunched, and her cat leapt onto the coffee table, sniffing the cup, before pushing it off the table, in true cat fashion, laying across her papers. Huian just smiled, and it was strained, before taking the advice and plopping in a chair. “Well, that was stupid of me.” And now there was espresso all over her rug. Waste. ◙

17:51:57 Hippolytus had kept a pacing eye on the clock for most of the morning, even hours before he was set to depart. But now as the moment arrived, he’d come upon a very cool calm. Shrugging his caplet robe onto his shoulders and stashing his wand in its chest holster, he stepped out the door and vanished with a pop. Reappearing, he’d come face to face with another door – one from Mop’s memories, in fact. Moments later and in almost casual silence, he’d open Huian’s door and usher himself in. Placid brown eyes found just the scene he’d expected. He glanced at Meredith with a question in the cant of his brows. The answer was actually in how slumped and dreamy the woman already looked, so unless dissuaded, Hip precisely drew his wand and with a certain gentleness in tone and gesture, pointed it at Huian’s head. “Legilimens.”

18:00:37 [Porthman] For what it was worth, Meredith did look terrible about all this. “I’m so sorry.” He insisted, diving to lift the cup off the floor (he’d worry about the stain later). “I’m so sorry, Huian.” It wouldn’t be long now—but Mop wasn’t actually prepared for how sudden everything seemed to be. He spun when Botts entered and the world threatened to spin against him for a second. Meredith composed himself, drew in a breath, and stepped around the table to give his partner-in-crime a physically and metaphorically clear path to his quarry. He brought a hand up to rub the back of his neck while he paced around to the back of the chair to put the other on the back of Huian’s chair and use it as an anchor.

18:13:09 Huian ◙ “Sorry.” The word was foul, and she stopped smiling as he picked up the cup, almost frowning as her hand pressed to her head. She wanted to say something just…she couldn’t think of an appropriate phrase. “ Wo hen ni…” Which could also apply to the man walking into her home unannounced, though her eyes narrowed at him. Oh, that was bad luck. Walking into somebody else’s home…she was going to have to burn incense and everything to get rid of the bad feelings he let in. Her hand lowered, and her eyes rose to the wand, hearing the word and thinking…of what? There was so much to see. Every bit of Chinese scrawled paper she had written in the last thirty hours, the dress she threw away, the one she finished…The black arm and the veins and standing at Charlie’s grave and dueling with Cyrus…talking with Izzy, more papers, everything. ◙

18:43:08 [Hippolytus] Meeting little resistance, Hip managed to peer with ease into Huian’s mind. He stood still, wand still aimed without a waver, eyes seeming to have become a little dull while they were turned to the woman’s mind. He rifled through her memories like a skilled archivist, finding the most pertinent ones and letting them play out before him in their entirety. The rest he left to her alone, simply focusing on the specifics he needed. Surgical and calm, he blinked once and was gone from her mind. His eyes closed and he lifted his wand to his temple. As he drew the memory of his reading from his head with one hand, the other was reaching into his cloak pocket for a small glass vial. He tapped the memory into the safe keeper and, opening his eyes, tossed it to Meredith. “There’s a letter from Cyrus Valen in her drawer there. Take a look, then leave it.” He pointed with his wand before snapping it back at Huian to finish the job. Once more, he would go to touch her thoughts, smoothing out the encounter with Valen – his and Meredith’s arrival… everything but a sunny day at the graveside of a friend. Everything she’d done since then was simply shifted a little, smoothed and polished. It was exhausting, but when he blinked again, hardly any time had passed. “All right,” he rasped. “We need to clear up fast.”

18:55:21 [Porthman] This was the first time Mop had done something so invasive to a friend. Even though it wasn’t his wand on Huian, he was standing by, doing nothing about it, and that made him just as guilty. Mop looked out onto Huian’s patio while Botts did his work. He moved – mechanical – when he was told to find and read this mysterious letter. He got as far as opening the drawer before he decided he didn’t want to go digging through it for the letter. Mop went for the simpler option and summoned it to his possession and got to work exploring its contents. Finished with that, he eased the letter back to where he found it and went back to lift the latte out of the floor. He didn’t often use his wand for such household charms; the effort seemed empty, but he achieved his goal. “What did you do?” Mop had to ask as he gathered the practically empty cup and retrieved his bag from the sofa. More importantly, he needed security. “Is that it?”

19:03:33 Huian ◙ Her head was splitting. She was seeing things that she should have not needed to see this fast, and this order, but really, who was she to stop them. (It might have been the drugged drink. She probably would have fought back if she hadn’t been sedated.) And had they not fixed anything, there would have been no way she would have ever called Mop a friend after this. But alas, Hip could cover tracks, expected well of a Auror. Congrats you two. You ganged up on a wandless and unsuspecting woman. This isn’t like a mind rape at all. Nope. Not at all. Be very proud. As it was, as Hip lowered his wand, and she was blinking, dazed…trying to figure out why her head was throbbing at the light, and closing her eyes to it, pressing her palms to her face. ◙

19:05:37 [Iwamura] Coincidences, despite what the Seers might tell you, were a very real thing. It was, for example, purely coincidental that Izzy was on the premises during a particularly nefarious use of Legilemency by a pair of particularly nefarious Aurors. Well, hell. Hippolytus wasn't actually nefarious. He couldn't have been nefarious if he tried, not with that face. What had Izzy been doing there? THAT was entirely nobody's concern but his own, and certainly it didn't involve riding Huian's cat - Meiling - gloriously into battle while shaped like a mouse. Izzy was much more adult than that. Ask anybody. He also surely hadn't later decided it was perfectly okay to nestle himself into the crook of a chair and sleep. Nope, whole lot of nope. Nothing at all like that. By which we mean, of course, that all of the above was true. Also true was that Izzy had snapped into wakefulness with the fall of a certain latte to a certain floor, and promptly found himself a concealed place from which to observe and generally be mousy. It would've been a terrible, terrible thing to reveal his position, of course. Huian didn't appear to be in actual danger after all. Plus he didn't like the odds of just randomly interceding against two people, when he didn't understand everything that was happening anyway. This was super confusing, you know! Was Huian secretly… a terrible dark witch?

19:16:51 Hippolytus does indeed have the face of an angel, thank you, Iwamura. But just then, that face was looking pretty gray and peaked. He ran his hand over his eyes and gave his head a shake before checking on Huian. “She’s fine,” he said, eyeing the woman warily. He’d have to explain at length later. She was coming around quickly and of the two Aurors, he had less of a reason to be here than Meredith, so while his partner whisked up the mess of latte and expunged evidence of their visit, he would take the memory vial back and slip back out the door, leaving no more than a murky impression in his wake. He stopped outside to wait, heart hammering from the efforts of the spells he’d cast today. There were real and physical reasons he didn’t like the mind arts as well as his other talents, but they didn’t overpower the moral ones.

19:41:05 Porthman could only manage a heavy exhale before he turned to Huian and back-tracked. He paced around the chair to draw his wand on her. There was nothing nefarious about Meredith’s intentions as he eased the bruise away from her throat. He sheathed his wand and studied the room to make sure he wasn’t missing anything Botts’ obliviation hadn’t covered. Mop found that he had to keep reminding himself that this was all for the better—that this was to keep Huian safe, but it was a struggle that brought more questions than answers. When all was said and done, Meredith didn’t know if he should stay in the apartment or if it was better to go with his accomplice who was nigh out the door. He hesitated before deciding to move his feet, slowly but surely, toward the door only to stop just short of realizing his goal. “She’ll be alright?” Mop repeated, moving his gaze from Botts to his dazed friend.

20:11:54 Hippolytus waited for Meredith outside, holding up the memory vial and peer at it as if he could read it again just by looking as it swirled about in the glass. When his partner rejoined him, he put the thing back into his pocket and glanced towards the door before giving a nod. “She’ll have a headache. But she’ll be just fine. Probably a little happier if you ask me. I’ve got a theory, but I don’t want to talk about it here… oh hell.” He doubled over suddenly, planting his hands on his knees to keep himself upright. “I need to sit. Then I need to eat. Hell.” It had been a WHILE since he’d done anything that complex. That was some inception shit right there. He’d be all for moving their little show off the porch and walking like ordinary folks to somewhere he could get his wits back about him. “Look, Port… don’t worry. She’s completely fine. Don’t get hung up now.”

20:21:20 [Porthman] “Alright.” Meredith agreed, though his heart didn’t seem into it. A long exhale left his worry in the apartment as he moved into the hall. If Botts hadn’t handled it, Mop would shut the door behind them. He all but attached himself to his remaining friend. “Are you alright? Do you want me to get us back to my place?” Huian would live on—she’d be right soon enough. Botts - on the other hand - was looking a little peaky for all his work.

20:27:43 Hippolytus nodded. Yes, he was alright, but yes, he would appreciate a ride back to Meredith’s. At least he would be sharing in that splitting headache he’d bestowed on Huian, but his would be a little harder to get rid of, honestly. He would take a hold of his ride, but not before eyeing his partner – not that he didn’t trust Meredith’s historically precise apparating abilities, but he just wanted to be sure that he wasn’t shaken enough by the situation to splice them. Satisfied, Hip held on and grimaced. Things were already seeming much brighter and louder than they normally would. Hopefully it would be nothing a cup of tea couldn’t help put behind him.

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