April 29th, 2098

06:47:31 [Porthman] Work had become a dreaded, awful place in a matter of days. The atmosphere in the office was heavy – even if such weight was only in Meredith’s overactive imagination. It wasn’t difficult for him to conceal his anxiety, but it only became easier as time dragged on. After a while, Mop had almost managed to convince himself that nothing was wrong. Botts’ quest was right and true. A scrap of remaining paranoia had him remove Worcester from his desk; the friendly little plant was pitched to the recesses of Meredith’s deepest drawer and left there after he’d punched the clock. Leaving the Ministry was easy… but finding peace proved to be a little more difficult. Home was strained with more presences than he’d agreed to, Conclave was far too busy for any thinking, and he certainly couldn’t talk about his troubles with his mother during his courtesy calls. He arrived at the local quidditch pitch well into the afternoon and caught the tail-end of some practice, but had taken up lounging on an upper bench in the stands since its evaporation. Sprawled out there, Meredith looked very much like the boy he’d left at Hogwarts after a lost match. His clothes had changed, his back ached a little more readily, and he’d gotten larger, but many of the same habits remained. Mop picked, fussed, and turned over a little yellow pin in his hands while he chewed on the cross at the end of his staple piece of jewelry (which had long been the victim of that brand of abuse). His idle habits were nothing compared to the thoughts that raced, crashed, and burned in his skull.

07:01:03 [Iwamura] Few people in the stands - Izzy knew it was a temporary situation, this quiet in the stands. In just over a month, everything would turn to madness. Every stand at every pitch would be filled with shrieking fans. He might even be among them - his plan was to hide in Xia's hair during the games, and squeak his heart out for Team Japan. Probably. It seemed like the thing to do, at the very least. "That probably isn't good for your teeth." In stands this empty, it wasn't hard to pick out the scattered individuals and familiar faces. And really, there wasn't much Izzy liked about how a certain meeting the prior day had gone. Best to try to smooth things over. That's what mature and responsible adults did, right? "Did you sleep at all, Meredith?" He looked very much like he'd had a rough go. What the hell. He might've been behaving irrationally, but Izzy still had a certain… obligation. Hell, scratch that. More of an obligation. If Porthman had been behaving like a rational human, no need for concern.

07:13:11 Noriko || If only our hero knew the sort of awful things thatd happened to her friends the last couple days! Practice and make-up practice for the practice she had skipped kept her busy though; Akio hadnt given her even a customary fifteen minutes for lunch yesterday. Today she was completing her penance. No bitterness about it, she wouldve done the same captaining the team; it did limit her connectivity to the outside world. Noriko didnt regret a thing though: she got to see what a glen [and a naked Mop] looked like. The stands were mostly empty; Nori was quite used to that. Most of the time practice only had a small handful of observers and most of those scouts from rival teams. That was the same thing today except except except there were some extra faces in the stands: she even knew one of the faces. All it meant was come end of practice [not far away now] our hero had someone to attach to immediately; no need to go looking for it. Mop usually was busy with the business of [Auror] business: Nori really tried not to add any to his list of worries. She needed help though; there werent many people she trusted with what she needed help with. In conclusion: vroom go fast chase flying objects. Quidditch! ||

07:25:03 Porthman ’s teeth relinquished the piece of jewelry they were threatening with blunt, terrible torture as soon as he heard a familiar voice. It was coincidence that it acted as a response to Izzy’s caution and the first in a series of actions that brought him from prone and as relaxed as he could be to an alert perch on the edge of the bench. He returned the happy yellow pin to his pocket and gripped the seat on either side of his legs thereafter. “Are you here to attempt to slather more guilt on me?” Meredith’s initial glare was acutely – and perhaps, purposefully – predatory, but whatever intent was behind it wasted away as quickly as it had come together. Distracted, his eyes slipped away from Izzy when they’d captured something better in their periphery. He was more distracted with Noriko than he would have liked to otherwise admit to present company at this point in time. Meredith did his best to compromise between an expression that was ambiguous and affectionate,

07:36:12 [Iwamura] "Technically speaking, I'm here to watch my team practice." His team, yes. Well, the one he planned to cheer for, at least. Why he identified with Japan in any particular way remained a mystery to him. He could've just as easily identified with England or the United States or, hell, even Egypt. But, you know, he wasn't here to instigate anything, so there was that. He hadn't gone out of his way to instigate yesterday, either, mind. Meredith had just been irrational. "If I wanted to instigate, it would be over and done already. But! Since I'm here, and you're here, I might as well mention. I'll help you. But I would like to speak to Botts, first." Which was to say he wanted to see if Meredith's partner was equally irrational, equally emotionally compromised. Equally invested in a case he probably shouldn't have been. But, you know, it was a slightly different tune than he'd been singing the day before, at least. Izzy had his own agenda. He always did. Hell, didn't even try to hide it…

07:47:59 Noriko || Vroom chase flying objects go fast. Quidditch! Our hero [the splendiferous Princess Sparklefists] hit the ground in a running landing; the rest of the team close behind her. Akio got them together to say inspiring words: she quipped back something that broke the team into tittering laughter. The camaraderie was there even with Noriko skipping too much practice. Akio dismissed them, Nori beelined for the dressing room and emerged minutes later out of blue and white uniform, into more plain street clothes: black jeans, knee high high-heeled boots. There was someone in the stands she had to go see about stuff because reasons! Mop already had someone else talking to him now; Nori didnt think that was very important though. They wouldnt mind her disrupting them: destination decided, our hero climbed her way into the seats. ||

07:57:43 [Porthman] ‘My team’—Meredith supposed that made enough sense, but didn’t seem willing to outwardly accept Izzy’s excuse. He glanced away from his current (grudging) company to keep half an eye on the proceedings out on the field. The team caught more than a good amount of his attention as they began to leave the field. The tune changed when Izzy amended his previous conditions and subsequent decision for something new. Meredith gave his dubious friend a once-over, up-and-down, before committing to a reply. “Help yourself to it.” He began, paused a moment, and added: “he’ll be at my place.” Izzy’s window of time came afterward. “Tonight.” Mop rose from his seat when he noticed Noriko climbing her way up—a force of habit. “Noriko!” He greeted, sparing only a sidelong glance to Izzy as he moved to meet her (and intended to speak before either of them could take it upon themselves to start). “This is… my friend, Iwamura. We played for our house back in school.”

08:06:17 [Iwamura] They had played for the same team during their sixth year, hadn't they? Brought Ravenclaw from terrible to cup-winning in the course of a year. And then? Well, then war were declared. His mother had dragged them all into her crusade. And everything had been terrible for awhile there. Ahhhh. "Tonight, then." Izzy shook his head and sighed. This was… well. He had contingency plans. He'd contacted more than one person about certain things just in case Meredith and Botts pulled some memory-mojo on him too. Put on a smile, there were civilians to talk to! "Hello, Noriko." He'd seen her briefly when she'd… ah… dragged Kaust away from Meredith. It felt like a lifetime ago. Only a couple weeks, though. How about that? The Conclave already went on for what felt like an eternity, and another eternity stretched ahead of him…

08:18:57 Noriko || “Mooooop!” Our hero called back in sing-song; she couldnt carry a tune to save her life, didnt stop her from trilling like birdsong when she was happy. Mop she greeted by clasping both hands into his shirt, used it to pull herself up and deposit a kiss earnestly. Then to his friend: “Hello hello, Iwamura! Its very nice to meet you. Mop doesnt introduce me to his friends; I was starting to worry that I’m embarrassing to him.” Iwamura sounded so familiar to her; like maybe she shouldve known him already. Mustve been a famous person. Our hero rooted in the pocket of her canary red pea coat for her sunglasses, slid them over her face. “So, lunch?” Nori made a cheery invitation: open for both of them, full of hope and naivete. She didnt know anything about anything right now; nobody wanted her to hero. :( ||

08:26:37 Porthman deliberately chose a happier theme to link them with, considering Noriko’s response to an event that had been one of the smoother criminal run-ins of his life. To that end, he was – needless to say – pleased when Izzy didn’t have anything sassy to add to his introduction. Of course, none of that mattered until after he was finished returning the affection that was bestowed upon him with an additional embrace. He kept an arm on her after the display was over and offered a sideways smirk to Noriko’s worries. “That’s mental. I just don’t have many good friends. But Iwamura,” Meredith turned his gaze from the seeker under his arm to his proclaimed ‘friend’ “he’s one of the good ones.” Eager to go along with the subject change and idea of food, his point of focus changed once more. “Lunch sounds brilliant. Where?”

08:36:35 [Iwamura] Of course Iwamura wasn't going to let slip what Meredith and Botts had done - that was still, as he saw it, rather privileged information - and he didn't have any reason to be impolite otherwise. "What he means is he's embarrassed by everyone. It's nothing personal." Okay, so he was definitely still going to be sassy. That was just his default operating procedure, and there wasn't anything in the world apt to change that basic reality of Izzy's personage. "Mmm, yes. Lunch. I think I've got time for that." Of course he did. This wasn't his jurisdiction, and he was off-duty! #notmydivision He thought for a moment. "I know a place. Well, a person, really. Here for the Conclave. Travelling merchant of sorts, sells personalized noodles. Calls himself the Lunch Broom." Which he thought was kind of fantastic, personally, although the man's 'broom' was really more of a 'flying bicycle cart'. Hey, it served the purpose!

08:50:36 Noriko || Noriko didnt believe at all that Mop didnt have friends; everyone she ever met always knew Mop, she just didnt ever meet them through Mop. List was getting very very long: Demon Hellwench, Frau Grumpypants [who warned her of the dangers of Mop’s penis], Miss Bubbles, Lady Blossompop, Herobotts; she saved most of them [hero] from something. “Its alright Mop; I would be embarrassed of me too.” Our hero teased gently, complete with a nudge of her hip into Mop’s leg [she was much shorter than him] to punctuate dramatically. “Its decided then! Let us away to the lunch broom to sate our monstrous hunger! Heroism works up a gargantuan appetite,” for the benefit of Iwamura she added in a conspiratorial whisper: “I’m a hero; Mop is my sidekick. Dont let anyone know.” ||

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