(1937-10-24) You Always Have Your Free Will
Details for You Always Have Your Free Will
Summary: Cooper notices some rather odd behavior when she runs into Frank after work.
Date: October 24, 1937
Location: Cafe Tasseo
Related: Can't Keep a Good Man Down

Cafe Tasseo Diagon Alley
Wed Oct 24, 1937 ((Sun Oct 21 03:55:21 2012)) (A,1 N)

Named for the art of Tasseomancy (Tea Leaf Reading), the posh Cafe Tasseo offers complimentary tea leaf reading to its customers. The cafe has a sort of French elegance to it, but it is much less flagrant, which makes it pure British. The chairs are all padded dining chairs of mahogany and golden embossed fabric one would expect to find in a Louis XIV style without all the pomp of leaves and flanges, just smooth curvaceous lines of mahogany. The use of mahogany, gold and pristine white is throughout the spacious room.
The ceiling is a floral mosaic of white and gold with chandeliers and light fixtures dangling from the mosaic in appropriate places. The gold gilding continues into the walls, accenting raised relief panels on the columns between the windows. The panels share the floral motif of the ceiling, intricately crafted down to the last detail. The windows themselves are just as magnificently turned out; the top quarter is draped in gold shades, the bottom half covered by white sheers, allowing the patrons privacy yet letting ample light through the uncovered section of glass.

Genevieve Cooper is on the edge this evening, or at least has been for the past couple of days. Tonight she can be found in a corner table at the cafe, sitting with a piping hot cup of tea and a sandwich, but by the looks of things she hasn't touched either. Instead, she's resigned to leaning her back against the chair, while the smoke from her cigarette floats lazily upward. It may seem like she's being rather idle, but the look in her eyes beg to differ. In fact they quietly scan the room, watching the customers come and go and there are a good many of them at the moment. After all, it's around quitting time and people are coming in for an after work meal. In essence, if she wasn't wearing her cute brown cloche hat, she could easily be taken for a creeper.

Amongst a small pack of Ministry workers buying meals, a familiar face can be spotted. Frank is much as he was the last time the two spoke, some weeks past; same cheap suit (he's a bit out of place in Cafe Tasseo's elegant surroundings, in fact), same middle-aged dignity. The lack of a harried expression is new, though. The translator's furrowed face is awash with a calm so perfect it's almost zen: a placid state of being that only ruffles ever-so-slightly at the sight of Cooper, cornerwards. After a moment's slow consideration, he waves off an invitation from an I.M.C. coworker and heads in her direction, smiling faintly.

Hmm…what was that? Did someone just glance over at Cooper? The Auror narrows her eyes at a rather rotund and weak-willed man defensively, like a lioness protecting her cubs. The man actually stopped looking at her a while ago. It really was one of those awkward passing glances you occasionally share with strangers in public, and now he's sweating anxiously at Cooper's intense staring, but she won't let up. She's convinced there was a more malicious significance behind that look. And she's so transfixed on scaring the wits out of him, that she doesn't notice Frank until he creeps up in the corner of her vision, which makes her jump in fright. "Oh!" Her knees bump under the table making everything shake, and Cooper frantically tries to keep her tea cup and plate still lest it spill. "Mr. erm…Weasley! Forgive me I didn't see you there," she clears her throat gesturing to a seat across from her, "How are you? Please … erm… have a seat."

Frank, distracted by the need to weave through the dinnertime crowds (and distracted by the fog in his own head), notices none of this. Edging past that poor fat fellow with total disregard for the man's distress, the translator ambles over and takes a seat. "Good evening, Fraulein," he says, voice good-natured. (He might as well get his 'frauleins' in before most German speakers stop using the term, right?) "I'm well. I hope you don't mind me joining you." She's given a faint smile, one ever-so-slightly muzzy around the edges. "I didn't quite realize how busy this place was; I've never been here before." Her obvious distress… goes straight over his head.

Cooper is far too busy getting over the shock and fixing the food she almost knocked over to notice how oblivious Frank is at the moment. But she does smile when she's called 'farulein'. It's warm sort of nostalgic smile and she says to him, "It's been a while since someone's called me that, but guten abend to you as well Herr Weasley." The words come out naturally. "You were a wonderful dinner partner before, I'm not opposed to you joining me again." Cooper puts out the cigarette in an ash tray and nods, "Yes, it's a fairly nice place, a taste of France for any Francophile without the lavishness of course. Do me a favor though and don't get the complementary tea leaf reading. They're absolute rubbish here." And like the little piggy she is, she bites into her sandwich ravenously because eating like a savage is the only way she's ever known. "But please, I haven't seen you in a bit. Do tell me what you've been up to as of late? Any news to report from the radios at the IMC?"

A brief distraction as the waitress arrives for his order: perhaps Frank's gotten a pay raise, because he orders two sandwiches. (Also tea.) Or maybe he's just hungry, and watching Cooper devour is just making him more so. Not that he lingers on the sight, because he has manners, but the point stands. "I don't put much stock in tasseomancy, anyway," he muses. "How can tea leaves know the future? They're leaves." His tea arrives, and he takes a moment to fiddle with it - one sugar, cream, stirred without the slightest hint of a click - before answering. "Oh, simply… work." The distracted note in his voice deepens, almost imperceptibly. "Helping a client with some political research. The wires I've been following have been all about the annexation issue with Germany and Austria; d'you know, I really think they're going to do it. By next year, anyway."

Alright, enough with this paranoia for now Cooper. You have company! And a delicious sandwich, which is already half gone by the time she speaks next. "Oh majority of all divination is all bullocks - pardon my French - if you ask me," she waves her hand dismissively of the topic. But her eyes follow the food that Frank himself orders, which makes her pause mid-bite to watch them settle on the table. One can argue that there's almost a jealous predatory look in her eye. "Wow, and I thought I had a big appetite," she comments before her ears catch on to the latter part of sentence. "Do you really think so? What've the wires been saying that make you think that it'll happen so soon?" Oh Cooper, always asking for answers she's not allowed to have.

"I'm a bit flusher with cash than usual," Frank comments, with… remarkable forthrightness. "So I've been trying to fatten myself up a bit." A slight pause. "Also, I didn't eat lunch." He takes a sip of his tea before responding, voice scarcely lowered: "Chancellor Schuschnigg is surrounded by allies to the Nazis; I suppose he'll be shot, as his predecessor Dollfuss was. And of course Hitler himself is Austrian, so there are quite a few connections. Actually, we caught a cable between -" The fact that the waitress is RIGHT THERE is the only thing that stops him from committing a massive indiscretion. And that's only because she comes bearing SAMMICHES. He's three bites in before it dawns on him to add: "… I'd be obliged if you forget I said anything about that, actually, Fraulein Cooper…"

Cooper has been slowly chewing her sandwich in the cow like manner she always eats, picking her cup up occasionally to wash it down with sips of tea. His comment on money certainly earns a brow quirk from her as her eyes wander his attire. The man still look broke and he was rather quiet of the topic the last time they ate. Still, she shrugs it off, eating casually until he drops a whammy! Cooper can hardly believe what she's hearing and is so astonished that's completely frozen up mid-chew with her mouth ajar just slightly, the victims of her teeth unattractively visible. She watches on in amazement even after he's begun eating his sandwhich, blinking a couple times to make sure she's awake for what she just witnessed. "Uhm. Sure. Auror's honor. I never heard a word," she shrugs in her best attempt to sound casual and continues to steer on the conversation, "It's good that you've had good fortune with money lately. What's the cash cow you've been killing? That political research project?" The words are intentionally crass. The gears in her head are turning now and she's curious to see her limits.

The translator is not entirely unaware he's just behaved in a way wildly unsuitable to a man of his profession and experience, or that Cooper is at least a bit surprised by it. And he's certainly not unaware that this is a thing that requires explanation. Thus: "Sorry. I haven't spoken to anyone outside the department in a few days, and my mind is still… there." His sandwich is a tempting distraction, and he allows it to carry him away for a few long moments. "Hm? Oh." The furrow between his brows deepens, almost imperceptibly. "Just a novel one of my coworkers is writing. Muggle politics plays a role, from what I understand. It's a lot of work, but he's paying very well."

Okay, so he knows what he did wrong. Well that's a good thing. Cooper is rather relieved by this, evident in the way she returns back to her natural ease when eating. "Oh no, I understand. Long hours can certainly scramble things in your head. I've slipped out a few things I shouldn't have on occasion. Nothing a good obligation won't take care of," she jokes. Pause. Deadpan. "In all seriousness, please don't obliviate anyone. There are regulations and you have to be certified. I'd have to arrest you." But then Cooper breaks back into her bright grin. While she takes note of his disregard for her rude language, she nods understandingly, realizing that if she was being paid big bucks for something mundane she'd brag the hell out of it. "A novel? Written by a fellow translator? That certainly sounds like an appealing read. He must be a very prominent linguist if he's able to accommodate you well. Perhaps, I've heard of him, what's his name?" She is a lover of languages after all.

"I don't think you need to worry about that," Frank says, mildly. "I don't even know how it's done." Because he sucks at magic. Fuzzily, he tries to recoop further: "Anyway, most of what I - well, you could find it in a Muggle newspaper. If there's one thing Muggles are really good at - better than us, I think - it's communicating information." After a moment he adds, with a hint of a sigh, "I wish telephones would catch on with Wizards. They're wonderful inventions." Another pause for sandwiching, before the man adds, the furrow deepening ever-so-delicately, "Hm? Oh, I don't think he's a linguist. I suppose I don't know Ambassador Troy's skill sets, come to think of it."

Cooper nods vigorously in agreement downing her tea. The sandwich has been long since gone and she's picking up the crumbs by pressing her pinky around and sucking them off her finger. Always a lady, this one. "Oh indeed. They're so instantaneous about their communication no? I mean, wizards too have their ways, but telephones were always something so intriguing to me when I was younger. I've never gotten to use one though. Have you?" she asks curiously. But she pauses again upon hearing exactly who Frank's generous sponsor was. "Ambassador Troy? As in Ambassador Magnus Troy?" she tilts her head, still sucking on her pinky. The gears turn again but she tries to keep her cool. "Of course you would know him, you work in the same department. Pray, what is his novel supposed to be about that it requires research?"

"I have." This time, Frank's distracted tone is a bit less peculiar: if he's in a dreamy haze, it's because telephones are pretty wondrous compared to the awkward pile of crap that is Floo powder. "My old apartment, in Munich, was in a Muggle building, and we had a party line. I made use of it, from time to time." The translator is perhaps vaguely aware that the woman has reacted to the name he gives. But he's not quite able to put the pieces together enough to become suspicious, so he moves fluidly ahead. "I don't rightly know, Fraulein. A thriller, perhaps?" Awkwardly, master and minion never did flesh out the details of the cover story, so he's left to compulsively make up facts on the fly. His brow furrows further. "He's just sent me to hunt down various bits of information for him. Names, locations, whens and hows… You know the sort of thing."

The gears are definitely turning again now. So much so that a keen ear can likely hear them creaking and grinding as they rotate. There's too many oddities in this information for Cooper to thoroughly examine all at once. She needs a cigarette. "Wait a minute. So Mr. Troy is paying you handsomely to help him with a book that you know nothing about? What a deal! I wish most work was set up in such a fashion," she smiles teasingly as she slips a fag out a box from her pocket. She offers the translator one as well. "Do you really have no clue Herr Weasley? You can't deduce your own conclusions from the assignments he's given you?" Could that wormy diplomat really be writing a book? Is there a damn thing he doesn't do?

"Well." Enough of Frank's normal temperament manages to manifest itself here to make the poor fellow look rather embarrassed. "It does seem eccentric. But he is rich…" And all rich people are CRAZY. His muffled mind scrambles to obey its orders, cobbling together an excuse with acceptable speed. "I could make a few guesses, but I'm not sure if he'd want me to be sharing them, Fraulein." The cigarette is taken with a nod of gratitude; in return, Frank fishes out his lighter (it's a surprisingly classy one, with elegant detailing) and holds it out for her. "He isn't the first author who's asked me odd favors… Though I admit he pays much more than the standard rate."

Strangely enough, Cooper seems to accept that first excuse. Her rationale also tends to accept the fact that rich people do have something rather off about themselves. So she leans forward into the flame to light up with a couple puffs. "That confidential, hmm? I guess I'll just have to find out from him later on then," she says, pausing to think of just what to ask Magnus when she sees him next. Though she's unknowingly just revealed that she knows him as well. "Based on the work you're doing for him, is it a surprising increase? Or his is pay just because of what you're doing for him." What nosy little tart this one is!

Frank lights his own cigarette before flicking the lighter off and stashing it away. "Oh," he says, muzzily - as if he shouldn't have guessed by now! - "you know him as well? Well, I suppose the Ministry is a small place, really." He's not perturbed in the slightest. After a few lazy puffs, his cigarette is balanced delicately against the rim of his plate. There's still a whole sandwich left. "Um." His chewing might be a pause for thought. It might also just be chewing. "It's much more than I would dare to charge. Quite a bit…" The brow furrows, like he's deep in thought - or struggling to put his thoughts together. "But I've never worked for him. Maybe this is normal."

"Hmm, yes. I've run into him a couple of times on my way out in the elevator and what not," Cooper clears her throat at a certain memory as she tries to downplay her relationship. "And as you know, I'm in the IMC office on occasion so I've met the man. Sure." She takes a drag of the cigarette, sitting languidly back in her chair as she observes the man. Either she's getting dejavu or she's sat in a similar situation all too recently. Not entirely the same of course but definitely similar. "That sounds like a lot of money…It could be normal," Cooper licks her lips and suddenly thinks of something. "You don't think…he's going to ask you for a much bigger favor later on do you?"

On some level, Frank is perhaps very slightly aware the woman's explanation is a little bit off. It's not off enough to really register with him, though. "He seems like a nice enough fellow," the translator says, affably. (Unintentionally ironically.) "I suppose he might, but - I'm plenty capable of saying no, if it comes to that, aren't I?" (Further irony.)

At the compliment to Magnus, Cooper shrugs her shoulder and scrunches her nose gingerly, letting smoke escape delicately form her lips. "Yeah, he's okay." He has a cute butt. That's gotta count for something. And then she agrees with the latter part of his sentence nodding along, while the gears in her mind slow down. "Yeah, that's true. Exert your free will…" Her words trail off and suddenly the gears churn again, going almost at light speed. Eyes widening, things fall together in her mind, but she's not sure. She's just not completely sure. And she goes silent, buried deep in her thoughts. She's quiet for so long it seems like she's completely zoned out.

Frank is quite aware, this time: he eyes the woman with concern, brows furrowing. The fog in his mind is too thick for him to understand why his words have struck her so: he only understands she is perturbed, and something he's done has caused it. After a long moment's thought, the man lifts his cigarette free of his place, picking the china up by the rim and holding it out to her. There's half a sandwich left. "Did you want this?" he offers, with worried solicitousness.

It could be. Maybe it could be. But then who did it? And why? Cooper has an idea of the perpetrator, but it's all too far fetched and there's so much missing information. "Yeah sure," she mumbles still in thought, as she idly grabs the sandwich and stuffs it into her mouth chewing like a cow. Food has always helped her thought process. And then suddenly, she notices just how silent she's been and the look of concern on Frank's face. "Oh I'm sorry Herr Weasley. I just got lost in thought for a moment there," she clears her throat and straightens up. "I actually think I should go. Just remembered something I have to do. How often are you at the ministry? I'd like to keep in touch." She begins cleaning her side of the mess on their table.

"It happens to the best of us." Frank is all good-natured understanding, parting amiably with the sandwich and just smoking, instead. As if he's not reedy as it is. He's still puffing away as she makes movements to depart, and he hastens to help - not that he's been especially messy. But she's working, so he should, too. "Oh, I'm there most days. Weekdays in the mornings, for certain. Just ask around, I'm not terribly hard to find." The translator snuffs out the cigarette on the side of a plate (the poor waitress), and starts to take his leave himself. He's giving her that half-hazy little smile. "It was a pleasure, Fraulein. Thank you for your company."

"Certainly. I will most certainly be in touch with you," Cooper says, almost as if she were assuring him. In fact, she could likely find out where he lives. He's got to be on record somewhere right? Right. That's what she's going to do right now. Find out where Frank lives. "Oh you're most certainly welcome, sir. I do hope to see you again." Here's the part where she would usually flash her bright Hufflepuffic smile, but she's far too much on a roll right now. And so she bids him adieu with a business-like nod, collects her things, and hurries out of the cafe. Cigarette smoke trailing behind her as she leaves. She's got some investigation to do.

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