(1939-01-09) Conspirators at the Cauldron
Details for Conspirators at the Cauldron
Summary: Gilbert and Cassiel meet, by happenstance at the Cauldron. Talk of Hogwarts, Blood Purism, and and Neutrality ensue.
Date: January 09, 1939
Location: The Leaky Cauldron
Related: -

Early January afternoon sees the Leaky Cauldron fairly quiet and somewhat empty. At a back table set close to the bar Gilbert is sitting in his regular spot, preferred because of its ideal location for people watching.
On the table in front of him sits a fairly thick volume, open at its middle pages with a red Muggle ball point pen sitting at the crease. The visible pages have all sorts of notations and cross outs on them. But Gilbert himself isn't reading the book at the moment. Instead he is reading the Daily Prophet, putting it down from time to time to take a sip from a pint of dark lager.

"…and we can only assume that the overall tone was meant to convey an abstract thought, not a direct threat, Mister Abernathy," comes a somewhat deep voice, the edge of annoyance in his own tone giving away that this was not a pleasant conversation, as its owner comes into the Cauldron from the King's Cross entrance, backwards. "I can, however, assure you that your daughter is in very good hands, and that the Ministry and school faculty are doing all in their power to make certain that she remains safe. Now, good day!"
Cassiel walks in, his sculpted muttonchops lightly dusted by the mild snowfall outside, and almost immediately takes off his hat, medium-length hair falling down in a slightly-sodden mess. Spirits… that's what he needs right now, and so, walking close to Gilbert as he waves down someone to order some chips and a mug of ale (warmed, thank you!)… although it's almost immediately after that when his attention is caught, not by the books, but by the fountain pen.
And at that, he simply stares for a moment.

Gilbert slowly lowers his newspaper far enough to be able to look at Cassiel over the top of it. After watching him for a few moments, the skin at the corner of his eyes crinkling as he slowly smiles, he finally says, "And a good afternoon to you, Mr. Umbridge. Would you like to join me for a pint or two?" Folding his newspaper so that the page he was reading ends up facing upwards on the table once he puts it down he wave to one of the three empty chairs at his table.

It takes Cassiel a moment to place the man, once his attention is arrested from the ballpoint pen, but Cassiel does eventually show a smile of recognition, "Sullivan, isn't it?" It's a good habit to know those locally who would be less likely to dislike or distrust his predilections. And so the smile warms, and he nods, taking the opposite seat, but not before eying the portion of the newspaper the man set down He'd not had time to catch today's copy, sadly. "Don't mind if I do!" is his response, "Although, please… Cassiel. Mister Umbridge is either my father, or the name I'm given by the yearly line of first-years I help integrate."

Gilbert chuckles for a moment before nodding. "Cassiel it is, and you are welcome to call me Gilbert as well." The newspaper is open to the editorial page, where a letter from Gilbert himself is printed. But Gilbert isn't paying attention to that. Instead he has picked up the ball point pen and is offering it to Cassiel, "You seem to be rather interested in my pen. Although that is something I would expect from someone that works daily with people from outside of the magical community. Would you like a closer look?"

Cassiel chuckles, taking the pen with a nod, "By the time they get to me, something in the blasted thing is broken. You know how it is…" He idly spins the thing in his fingers, grinning, "It never ceases to amaze me what they do… how they supplant and improve their world without the benefits of magic." He smiles, "Not that I'd be willing to give up dictation quills. Ever. But I bet you they'll fix that lack one of these days, too."

Gilbert grins and nods, "Well, you are welcome to keep that one. I have plenty more." Leaning back in his chair he take a drink from his pint of ale and adds, "And I believe you are correct. As I heard a Muggle once say, 'Any sufficiently advanced science is indistinguishable from magic.' and their science is definitely advancing by leaps and bounds." He sobers for a moment and then asks, "Should I guess that the tail end of the conversation you were having when you walked in was prompted by the recent attack on the Sykes family and their guests?"

Cassiel nods, smiling at the pen, even patting it a bit, "I envy that you can even keep more than one of these working. I swear there's something about us that ruins the most simple things. I can't even keep one of their wind-up toys for more than a few hours." He then nods, "It's like what I was telling one of my charges. They can fly now. They can move great distances at amazing speed." And a frown, "And yes. I get dozens of owls daily, mostly forwarded through somewhere called The Post from Muggle parents. All worried about retaliations against them because of this Anti-Purist group. And worse yet, is seeing the effect it's having on others. My own cousin, the fetching blonde one grabbing all the news time? One of the victims, and now…" A sigh.

Gilbert sighs,"And the reality of the situation is that, regardless of the platitudes and reassurances they might be given, that is a very real possibility. Especially considering the issues that have been taking place since Grindelwald and his followers have come to prominence. Sadly the attack on the Sykes estate is merely a reaction to the tactics dark wizards have been using elsewhere in Europe. Reprehensible as it might be…"

"You have no idea how much I hate lying to them like that," Cassiel sighs, gladly taking his plate and steaming tankard of ale from the wench that brings if over. "Because now there's blood drawn. Blood everyone can see at least. And their school has made a clear statement about which side of the coin it stands on, which puts all of them at risk."
He looks at Gilbert, "Reprehensible is a soft word for it. They took an action that will only increase the furvor towards control over Muggles. And without even a passing thought that they not only outnumber us, but however many billion of them there are, with all of there ever-more-powerful metal wands pointing at us, a singular enemy."

Gilbert looks a little confused for a moment then chuckles as he finally makes sense of what Cassiel is saying, "By metal wands you mean their firearms? Guns and rifles? Yes, they are a very credible threat. And I've been sayng exactly that for months now, ever since Cassius Malfoy started spouting off about doing away with the Statute of Secrecy." After another sip from his pint he asks,"How are the students handling the whole situation? What little I have heard is that there is quite an opposition to the Magijugend."

"It depends on the student. Most, I think, just see it as another club, like that 'mud club' they put together. The first year mixed-bloods tend to be less approving of it, since they see it as the school saying it's the right path, which means they are wrong to be there. There are also some very solid children who are actively a part of it. I think the opposition is more vocal, but like in many cases, far more of a minority than we'd be able to discern from the outside."
He frowns, "Considering the fact that at least one of the students who was actively attacked was a pure-blood well known for caring for some of my first years, and the fact that one of their most visible members, young Black, came out a hero in this, I fear support may grow."

Gilbert takes a moment to digest this information, stroking his chin as he thinks in the way someone with a beard would even though he doesn't have one himself. "I wonder if there would be any way to counter balance this. I guess the fact that people on both sides of the issues have spoken out against the attack might help some but things are going to get very bad for the Muggle born if balance isn't reestablished…"

"Simply put," Cassiel says around a chip, after dunking it in gravy, "Neutrality. Hogwart's is a Ministry-controlled environment, and should not be embroiled in political conflict. Nor should it show solidarity with any major political movement. Let staff and students alike think what they want, believe what they want, and interact with each other in that environment where they can learn to do in a civilized manner. It's not even about keeping with the status quo."
He smiles, "Someone with a greater voice than I should be challenging the Ministry to something of that sort… something that can be agreed upon by both sides… such as the safety of our future leaders."

Gilbert smiles and nods, "That is a very good thought, Cassius. Now the trick is going to be to convince the faculty members that are being so obvious about their support for the Magijugend to behave as neutral parties, at least while at Hogwarts…"

"Actually," Cassiel smiles, "You'd only need to convince one, and have him lay down the law, or have enough lean on him to force him to do it. The headmaster. It's his club. His rule. His call. He does it, the faculty would follow." And another chip is eaten, as the two continue their talk…

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