(1937-12-23) An Abundance of Caution
Details for An Abundance of Caution
Summary: Rhyeline invites Alis to her home for coffee after a chance encounter in Diagon Alley and immediately, the guard dog begins to assess the security of the little mouse's flat.
Date: Sunday, December 23, 1937
Location: Various Locations In London

It is a winter day. The weather is cold and clear.

Whatchamacallit Junk Shop

It would be a wonder if even the owners of this establishment know all the is contained within these four walls. There are no aisles to be found anywhere, merely trails that meander among the mountains piled impossibly high, reaching to the ceiling and leaning back over the heads of customers. Looming overhead, the wares could possibly to slide down in an avalanche of wires and gizmos and gadgets if disturbed by even a loud noise. Almost any item, object, or mystical artifact one is looking for can be found by those brave enough to go spelunking among the paths, but will it work? That is a question that can only be answered by the treasure hunters that venture within.

Next to the mountains of odds and ends looming over her head, Rhyeline looks particularly tiny. Hands hidden in the pockets of her red cardigan, she tilts her head back staring up at the precarious heap of oil lamps, time pieces, and cutlery. Above in the London sky over Diagon Alley, all the snow clouds have vanished from the sky leaving it the crystal clear blue of early winter.

Stepping in from the street, Alis pauses for a moment to peel off her gloves before venturing further into the shop. She meanders along one of the trails, dwarfed by the massive piles of objects that tower over her from either side. It's rare for Alis to actually be hampered by her small size, but the layout of the shop is such that she's only an arm's length away from Rhyeline before she registers the younger woman's presence. She halts immediately, hands clasped behind her back in what might almost seem to be a demure posture. "Hallo, Rhyeline." The first syllable, issued at her usual volume, evokes a warning rumble from the surrounding objects, and she quickly lowers her voice to avoid provoking an avalanche.

Rhyeline’s gaze folds her arms against her chest, tucking her fists against her neck at the ominous rumble. Once things settle down, she looks to her right and offers the woman a soft smile. “Hello, Alis.” The mouse’s normal volume is perfect for this place. “How have you been?”

The fingers of Alis' right hand twitch, briefly, as she eyes the grumbling pile, but soon enough she returns her attention to Rhyeline. "I've been well enough. Ran into another old school friend earlier this afternoon. Yourself?"

Rhyeline nods. “I have also been well. I am here looking for Christmas gifts. My father- he has invited me to visit him on Christmas morning.” A small smile warms the young one’s pale features.

A shadow flickers across Alis' features at Rhyeline's mention of her father, but the redhead is swift to conceal it with a smile of her own. "That's good to hear. I hope your visit goes well. I expect my younger sister will turn up for the holiday, though I haven't heard anything from her in the last week or so."

Rhyeline pauses as she catches sight of the grief hidden in Alis’ eyes. Lifting her gaze to the tower or odds and ends, she nods a bit and murmurs, “That should be lovely. Are you here to find a gift for her then?” The little one peeks over at Alis with a soft smile.

"Perish the thought." Alis shakes her head. "Carlie is still a dear, sweet child, for all that she's only two years younger than I am. No, I'm just here poking around, putting off going home." Her smile turns wan. "Holidays are really the worst time to look for new lodgings, but that hasn't stopped me trying."

Rhyeline looks to Alis and tilts her head to the side just a bit. “Haven’t found new lodgings? There are a couple of empty flats near where I live. And another witch besides myself lives in the area. It’s rather nice. Where have you been staying?”

"I've been staying at home." Alis answers the easiest question first. "In Oban, up in Scotland." Which makes for one heck of a commute, down to London. "I'm afraid I'm rather particular about the sort of thing I'm looking for. Security concerns, you understand."

“Oh. Well- what sort of security measures would it need? Perhaps- perhaps you would care to come for coffee and see what the flats in the area look like,” suggests the girl with a shy warmth.

"A free-standing structure would really be ideal," Alis replies, her hands clasping behind her back again. "I don't mind taking a look, though, and I rarely turn down coffee." She looks up at the pile to one side. "Were you looking for something in particular here?"

Rhyeline shrugs before shaking her head. “Not exactly. I am still looking for something that my mother might like. My other gifts are finished though. Would you care to come for a visit now? It isn’t a free-standing structure, but there is coffee inside all the same.”

"I'd offer advice, but I've always been rubbish with picking out gifts for people." Alis looks around again, then nods at Rhyeline. "I can't promise that I'll refrain from poking at your security while I'm there, though. Habit."

“I would appreciate it if you were to do so. As for my mother’s gift, I will need a bit more time to think.” Turning towards the door, hands still in her pockets, the girl tilts her head to the side. With a soft smile, she murmurs, “Shall we?”

As Rhyeline turns toward the door, so does Alis, taking care not to bump into anything on the way out. "How do you typically travel to and from your flat? Apparating? Or are you partial to more mundane methods of travel?"

“Well, to be honest, I often walk. I enjoy the time alone to think, but also, it’s good exercise. However, we can apparate or travel by floo, if you like.” At the door, she takes her heavy winter cloak off the hook and drapes it around her narrow shoulders.

"Oh, I never Floo if I can help it. Haven't since I got my license, as a matter of fact." Alis was one of those witches who spent two weeks Apparating any distance further than six inches, upon attaining her license. "If it's not far, though, I don't mind walking."

“It is in the Lambeth neighborhood. I usually take the muggle underground to get there.” Drawing up the hood of her cloak, she waits before venturing out into the cold, wanting to make sure they know which route they’re taking.

"Ah, the Underground. That will do." Alis nods briskly, setting off unerringly toward the Leaky Cauldron upon exiting the junk shop, as it's the most expedient way to reach the subway.

Rhyeline's Flat

A door with stained glass window panels reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright's water lilies distinguishes this red-brick flat from the others on either side.

The mudroom opens onto a foyer with stairs leading to a second floor. A long hallway runs alongside the stairs through to the back door. The foyer opens to the right onto the parlor with an adjoining dining room. From the dining room, the kitchen hides tucked into the back of the house. Upstairs, a master bedroom and a guest bedroom allow for guests or even a flat mate. Outside behind the flat, surrounded by tall brick walls, sits a small garden.

The scent of an ever crackling fireplace intermingles with that of brewing coffee and the pure white roses in the bay window facing the street. Gentle lighting lends the flat a warm and cozy atmosphere.

Rhyeline is a quiet companion, but she keeps close to Alis' side as they venture through the Leaky Cauldron and then out onto the muggle streets of London. Though she doesn't say much, she seems quite content to listen, and should Alis fall silent herself, the girl's keen gaze drifts from person to person as they pass, taking in the details of their dress, features, and mannerisms.
At last they emerge once more into the crisp night air and make their way through the streets of Lambeth. Arriving at Rhyeline's flat, the little one takes a key (it's a muggle street after all) and opens the way into her flat.
Once the girl has helped Alis out of her winter coat and hangs it up next to hers, she smiles with such shy warmth and gestures for her to step into the parlor. "Please, sit. I will start the water boiling."

Alis is perfectly willing to chatter as they walk along, though much of what she says doesn't require commentary from her companion. It's something of a knack, the capacity for making noise without saying anything of consequence, but Alis is good at it. She quiets somewhat on the Underground, her attention on those around the pair, though her interest is likely different from Rhyeline's.
Upon arriving at the younger woman's flat, Alis tilts her head slightly, observing carefully the ritual of the key and then stepping in once the door's been opened. Shrugging out of her coat, she takes a few moments to look around, but her gaze strays back toward the door. "Do you have wards on the door?"

“Wards? No, nothing like that. There is no need,” murmurs Rhyeline as she stands before her, hands clasped behind her back.

"There is always a need," Alis says, quite firmly. "Any protections at all, beyond the simple lock?" Well, she did warn Rhyeline beforehand, and she /is/ a security specialist.

“When one wishes to cause harm to another, I have found that wards do very little other than to provide a false sense of security. Beyond my anti-muggle spells, I think my best defense is simply to be someone that none would consider harming.” Rhyeline speaks in a soft, quiet tone.

Alis simply looks at Rhyeline for a moment. Then she says, quite bluntly, "Should someone wish to do you harm, it's true that wards would do little more than provide a few seconds of warning. However, given your position, I would still recommend the wards. There are other ways to cause a person harm in addition to a direct attack."

Rhyeline’s brows furrow just a bit. While the young one is quite a clever little witch, she does not have the instincts or training that Alis has and thus, is quite ignorant and naïve when it comes to matters of security.

"You have access to powerful people, Rhyeline." Alis spreads her hands. "Your residence is, so far as any halfway competent witch or wizard is concerned, without any sort of defenses. It would be child's play for someone to set a trap for you here, or lie in wait for you while you are out, and you would have no way of preparing yourself for such an intrusion."

“The greatest of the Ministry’s precautions cannot stop a determined agent ,” murmurs Rhyeline with a subtle furrow of her brows. There is something in the profound lack of trust she has in such things that suggests she speaks from experience. “It would be much easier in the first place to snatch me from the street than to lie in wait in my home.”

"I'm not the Ministry," Alis is quick to point out. "Their protection methods only go so far, but I've made a career of it. It would be less easy to snatch you from the street than you might think. Even if the hour were later, you utilize public transport, and the streets are fairly well-lit. There would be witnesses, and witnesses are always a mess to deal with." She does a slow turn, gesturing at her surroundings as she does. "This would be cleaner. It's how I'd do it."

Rhyeline gazes up at Alis for a time in silence, her gaze cautious and guarded. At last, she murmurs, “What would the wards entail?”

Glancing down the hallway, Alis nods in an abstract way toward Rhyeline. "I think a passive system is probably best, at least for the present. Something to detect intrusion, should it occur, and give warning. Ideally, I'd want to set wards at each point of potential entry. The doors, windows and fireplace."

Rhyeline glances to the fireplace and then back to Alis. “A warning? Perhaps like- like a little bell that would ring through the house? What would it regard as intrusion? Can it sense intent? Or would it go off if I entered the flat myself?”

Alis moves out of the foyer now, through the rest of the lower floor of the flat. "Ringing through the house wouldn't do you much good if you aren't home when the intrusion occurs, but I can link it to the front entry, in such a way that you'll know by looking at the door." She taps her lower lip with a forefinger thoughtfully as she looks around the small space. "It won't go off if you enter the flat, of course. The same if you answer the door for someone. I'll have to look up my notes, I did a similar construction for a client in Brazil."

Rhyeline’s brows furrow with uncertainty. “What will the wards do exactly? Will they prevent an intruder from entering?” Biting her lower lip, she hesitates a moment. “What if- what if I have taken ill? What if a dear friend of mine comes to call and I am not able to open the door for them?”

"No, passive wards means monitoring only," Alis explains. "They won't prevent an intruder from entering, which is why the warning would be on the door, in the event of an intrusion. Should someone call upon you unexpectedly, or check on you in the event of an illness, they would register an intrusion, and the system would need to be reset. There's a process, which I'll be able to show you once they've been set up. It's very low-maintenance, and not much in the way of actual security, but it's better than nothing at all."

“Ah. So. If I arrived home and found that the wards had been set off, I would know to be cautious, that someone is most likely inside. I understand now. That- that would be useful.” Rhyeline bows her head in thanks and in acceptance of the older girl’s greater wisdom.

"Quite so," Alis says, looking rather pleased that Rhyeline has grasped the concept. Or perhaps she's pleased because the girl has accepted that her help might be useful. Either way, she brightens considerably. "You see why I'm looking for something a little different for myself, though, surely? I'm rather more inclined to be paranoid, with regard to my own safety."

Rhyeline offers Alis a soft smile. “I suppose ignorance on my part is bliss and you are burdened with the paranoia brought about by understanding. I simply came to accept long ago that the world is full of darkness and danger, and for me-“ she hesitates, her speech growing more cautious. “While I do make an effort to protect myself, survival is what I strive for more than anything.”

"I learned paranoia the hard way." Alis finds a chair to settle in, stretching out her legs a bit. "It wasn't an easy lesson. I've also had opportunity to study with others who've made a career of security, and I've had plenty of practice." She offers a slightly apologetic smile. "Though I've gotten a little better at matching security measures to the needs and personality of those who need protecting."

Rhyeline nods. “Well- I truly appreciate your concern for me. You are- are most kind. Shall I- go and get us some coffee?” Stepping to the side, just a bit, she glances to the kitchen before looking back to Alis.

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