(1937-12-15) Questions of Security
Details for Questions of Security
Summary: Alis, recently arrived back in London, stops in to visit Cassius. The question of his personal security (and what she can do about it) comes up.
Date: 12/15/1937
Location: Wizengamot, MoM

The Wizengamot Courtrooms comprise ten identical rooms. Upon entering one of the courtrooms from the hallway a short aisle leads to a round space in the middle of the room. Exactly in the center of the room, resting upon a small dais, sits a plain wooden straight back chair. This chair has a remarkably short seat, no cushion, high arm rests, and all-in-all looks to be extremely uncomfortable. Approximately three feet of empty floor space separate this solitary chair from a short wooden wall behind which the chairs for the members of the Wizengamot witnessing and judging a case are arranged in steep tiers, circling the lone chair and looming over it. This circle is only broken by the narrow entry aisle on one side and the large, throne-like seat directly opposite the aisle and reserved for the wizard or witch chairing the inquisition.

In the late afternoon hours at the Ministry of Magic, Cassius Malfoy sits back in his chair, cozy in his tiny, spartan dungeon office. He is poring over a scroll in his hands, occasionally chuckling and shaking his head. A knock on his door pulls his attention up, and he announces, "Come."

The door opens to find the Wizengamot secretary there, "Mr. Malfoy? There is a Miss Orpington here to see you."

Cassius doesn't have to search his memory long to make the association. "Orpington, you say? Send her in." Can it really be her? Cassius rises, smoothing down the crisp, dark green suit he wears, stepping around his desk to await his visitor.

There are four Misses Orpington in Alis' immediate family, so the odds are one in four… except that in this case, given prior association, the odds are a little higher. It doesn't take long for the redhead to arrive at Cassius' office door, and she pauses to rap her knuckles on the frame, accompanying the gesture with a lilting, "Knock, knock. Hallo, Cassius."

Cassius smiles warmly when she appears. "As I live and breathe. Can it be you, Alistria?" He crosses the small space in a stride and a half, extending his hands to greet her. "My word, it has been far too long. The last I heard of you was that you were traveling…east, I believe? Something about picking fights with Muggles." He smirks, clearly teasing.

Alis' nose wrinkles out of habit, but Cassius is the only person who's ever been able to get away with calling her by her full first name. "I traveled east, to pick fights with ninjas. Then further east, then north and south, and now I'm back." She smiles up at him, then frowns briefly. "You've gotten taller." It's an accusation, or at least would sound like one to anyone not as well-acquainted with Alis as Cassius is.

"I had to be certain you couldn't outgrow me," Cassius chuckles, gesturing to one of the two guest chairs this side of his desk, and closes the door behind her. "You, however, haven't changed a bit since school. Merlin's beard, Alis, have you aged at all?"

"Well, that's certainly never going to happen now," Alis huffs. She flashes her smile at him again afterward, then flounces toward the indicated chair and flops gracefully into it, crossing one leg over the other and shaking back her hair. "What can I say? It runs in the family. Well, and I ran into this bloke in Tibet who swore that he had the secret to eternal youth. He didn't, but he showed me a great many other interesting things."

Cassius takes the seat beside her, turning the chair to better face her. This is not a business meeting, so he'll have no desk between them. "I hope it was nothing too mind-altering. Some people come back from places like Tibet spouting all manner of spiritualism, then live in blissful poverty for the rest of their lives."

"Oh, it was quite, quite eye-opening." Alis waves a hand in a vague gesture. "I daresay my mind was safe enough, though. You know better than anyone how stubborn I can be. And poverty doesn't suit me." She leans forward just a bit. "What about you, though? I've been all over London today, and your name is practically everywhere."

Cassius crosses one leg over the other, folding his hands in his lap. "Is it? I'm delighted to hear you say so. I admit that I've been trying to make quite a splash. You must have only come back very recently, then. Here, you can have a look at my literature, and that of my opposition." He reaches over to his desk, picking up a few pamphlets and offering them to her. One is titled "Unity: One World, United Forever", the other, "Common Sense: The Full Disclosure About the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy".

"Recently, and unexpectedly." Alis doesn't elaborate further, however, reaching for the pamphlets and skimming through them briefly before returning her gaze to his. "I've never been much for reading, you know that. Sounds familiar, though. Still getting yourself into trouble?"

Cassius grins broadly, "I certainly hope so. If I haven't made anyone upset, I'm clearly not doing my job well. Would you like to read some of my hate mail? There are some lovely death threats. Oh, but you don't like to read." He shakes his head in mock admonishment. "I don't have any Ravenclaws handy to do your homework anymore, Alis."

"You've been getting death threats?" Alis' demeanor changes in an eyeblink, and she's up out of the chair, doing a slow turn to survey the office. After a moment, she looks back at him, one eyebrow arched in question. "You have a security detail? Other than the secretary of doom out there?" She flaps a hand to indicate the door.

Cassius chuckles, delighted at the nostalgic display of protectiveness from Alis. "Of course I've gotten death threats. It's nothing to be concerned about. It just means I've successfully taken a strong stand. Naturally, every threat is turned over to the M.L.E. to be investigated. But realistically, only one in a hundred thousand might be serious."

Alis rolls her eyes. "One in a hundred thousand is still one too many. Honestly, if I didn't know you any better, I'd be inclined to think you have no sense of self-preservation. Have you even looked into security measures that don't involve the Ministry?"

Cassius lifts his hands as if in defense, grinning broadly at her. "Of course. At every event and press conference, I have a company that handles security. But my dear, I cannot be too secure. An attack on me directly would bring incredible sympathy to my cause. I'm a bit disappointed that it hasn't happened yet."

Somewhat mollified, Alis returns to her chair, raking both hands through her hair and then taking a moment to regain some measure of her composure. "So long as you're making some effort." She pauses, hesitating in a manner uncharacteristic of Alis, though her request, when it comes, is an explanation in itself. "Do you mind if I ask which company you use?" She makes a face, then adds, "I… spent the day looking for work."

Cassius shrugs and turns something resembling a rolodex to face him. "Ess," he says, and the index flips itself to the S-section, from which he plucks a business card, offering it to Alis. "So you've made a career of it, then? You always did like to be on the underdog's side in a fight."

"Well, it's not much of a career yet," Alis replies, accepting the card and looking it over before tucking it into the pocket of her jacket. "I've made a study of it, certainly. Various techniques from all over the world. I've had opportunity to practice, along the way." She smiles faintly. "It's not always about siding with the underdog, though. I'm relatively certain that no one would have called you an underdog, after all."

"In fisticuffs or spellwork, I certainly was. Else I wouldn't have needed you so desperately." Cassius taps his chin, eyeing her thoughtfully. "I don't suppose you've developed a taste for managing schedules or filing legal documents?" Despite the question, he doesn't really sound like he expects her to say yes.

"I still say you didn't need me nearly as desperately as you were inclined to let people believe." It's an old argument, though,a nd Alis doesn't bother continuing it, instead arching a brow at his question. "I can't say I've developed a taste for such things, but I've picked up some skills over the years. Why do you ask?"

Cassius gestures indicatively toward her. "You said that you are looking for work. It so happens that I need a personal assistant. Or, in your case, a bodyguard acting in the capacity of an assistant. You are not wrong, Alis. My life is going to get more dangerous. But the fact is that I simply don't want to let just anyone have access to me in the way that proper security should."

Alis blinks, then stares at him for a moment. "You're joking." Her eyes narrow, and she shakes her head. "You're not joking. It's certainly quite the coincidence." She pauses, then tilts her head slightly. "What sort of access are we talking about?"

Cassius shakes his head, confirming that he is most definitely not joking. "I may seem flippant about the death threats. But there are very real threats out there. There is a man that tried to associate himself with me. One Constantine Hopewell — a pseudonym. After I publicly rebuffed him, he cut a man's throat, live on the Wizarding Wireless. Naturally, I could be on his hit list as well, if he felt he could make a proper public spectacle of it. So, my bodyguard would have to be someone with access to most aspects of my life. As you might imagine, there aren't many that I would trust in that regard."

"No, I can't see that list being a particularly long one," Alis agrees. "It wouldn't be the first time I've filled such a role, either. There was a chap in America who needed protection for several months, until the M.L.E. over there caught up with his stalker." She pauses for a beat, then adds, "At least you and I have had a working relationship in the past."

Cassius nods soberly. "Precisely. I know you, and you know me. But I need to know what you've been doing in the intervening years, and whether you are going to take issue with my political stance. The cause is bigger than I am. It is important to me that my protector be someone that believes in that. Otherwise I would just keep a house-elf on hand to guard me from harm."

"I can fill you in on most of what I've been up to." Alis sits back in her chair. "Not everything, but where I've been and who I've worked for and with." Her nose wrinkles at the mention of politics. "I've never much cared for politics, and that hasn't changed. I've always cared more about individuals." She folds her hands primly in her lap. "You're still up at the top of that list, incidentally."

"This is so much bigger than mere politics, Alis." Cassius' brow furrows with the gravity of the subject. "Unity is about the future of this entire world. You've been traveling. Have you not seen the signs? The direction the Muggles are taking the world? We're on the brink of devastation. The individuals you care about will be wiped out if war erupts."

Alis glances down at the literature now resting in her lap. "I've seen signs, but I don't have a great deal of context." Her gaze lifts again to his face, and she leans forward again. "I'm already predisposed to listen to you, though. To sign on to whatever causes you've gotten yourself involved in. It's what I do, remember?"

Cassius pinches his lips. "Signing on because you trust me isn't the same as believing. I want you to read the literature, and consider carefully your point of view. I will gladly find you employment, no matter your position. But if you are to be responsible for my safety, I am also entrusting you with safeguarding the cause itself."

"Homework." Alis' nose wrinkles again at the word, but she unfolds her hands, plucks the pamphlets from her lap, and tucks them into her pocket as well. "I'll look through it, but don't worry yourself too much over my employment. I didn't actually come here looking for work. I just wanted to see you, catch up a bit." She gets to her feet again, lifting a hand to tuck a stray lock of hair behind her ear. "And now I've done that, I should be letting you get back to work."

Cassius rises when she does, as much the gentleman now as he ever was in school. "Nevertheless, I'd like to help you however I can. I would prefer to have someone that I trust at my side, and I could pay you quite handsomely. But, yes, it involves homework." He gives her a playful chuckle. "Where are you staying?"

"I'm not concerned with pay." Alis almost snaps the words out, a clear indicator that this is as sensitive a topic as it ever was. She sighs, shaking her head and offering again that flash of smile. "I will do the bloody reading, but only because it's you." The smile fades, at his question. "I'm staying with Mum, for the moment. I mentioned it was unexpected, right?" The telling detail is in her careful phrasing, in which she mentions only one of her parents.

Cassius does the polite thing, and doesn't pry. Not now, at their first reunion. "Well, give her my best. You are welcome to stay with me, if you like. You can have the guest house, if you prefer your own space. In any event, we should have tea soon…to discuss your feelings and future."

"I'll do that. I'm sure she'll be glad to hear it." Alis shakes her head. "That's very kind of you, and I do miss London, but I'll have to think about it. Tea, however, I can do. Did you have a particular date in mind? Since yours is the busier schedule, at least for the moment."

"I'll send you an owl." Cassius moves to the door to open it for her. "We'll meet soon. I'm very glad to have you back, Alis. I take this as a good omen." He smiles warmly, giving her a gentlemanly bow.

"That's positively frightening," Alis quips, pausing in the threshold. "If things are bad enough that you see me as a good omen, then they're quite bad, indeed." The bow, however, is too much for her to stand, and he'll have about a fraction of a second's warning before she dispenses with formality altogether and just hugs him. "I have missed you," she whispers, rather fiercely, before letting go.

Cassius stiffens in surprise at the hug, but only for a moment. It seems he isn't strictly bound by formality, as he returns the embrace. "I've missed you as well."

Stepping back, Alis points a finger at him rather sternly. "Tea. Soon. Don't forget about me." As if there's any chance whatsoever of that happening. "Take care of yourself, Cassius." With those parting words, the witch turns to head back the way she came.

Cassius bows again. "Be well, Alis." Shutting the door behind her, he chuckles to himself, and utters a single word: "Excellent."

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