(1938-11-17) After the Riot: Community Forum
Details for After the Riot: Community Forum
Summary: In response to the Diagon Alley riot and the unsettled atmosphere in the wake of the publication of 'For the Greater Good', the Wizarding Wireless Network is hosting a Community Forum at the Community Hall on South Verdic Alley. This town hall style meeting is a chance for everyday citizens to have their voice heard on a nationally-broadcast platform.
Date: 17 November, 1938
Location: Community Hall, South Verdic Alley

The community hall has been filled with many long benches, to provide as much seating space as possible. The benches are arranged in three rows, leaving some standing room on the sides, and two walkways in between. At the end of each of those walkways in a podium, to which is attached a sonophone — a horn-shaped object on an adjustable arm, charmed to amplify a speaker's voice. A stage at the far end of the room contains several chairs, and a similar podium. Among those seated on the stage are W.W.N. producer Peter Webley, Daily Prophet Editor-in-Chief Verita Hardwick, and the Chief of the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, Penzington Prince.

Already, the hall is overflowing with witches, wizards, Squibs, goblins, and even what look to be a few hags, and vampires carrying dark, thick umbrellas. The din of a hundred or so conversations fills the space, overcoming almost all other background noise.

How long has it been, since most of the wizarding world set eyes on Edwarlinda Malfoy? She's been a virtual recluse for most of this year, living in her parents' house, bearing her child and trying to cope with — who knows what else… The press of recent events has drawn her back into the world, though; cutting the same flamboyant figure as always, in a snugly-fitted emerald green silk suit beneath black robes adorned with just the ideal percentage of intricate green and silver embroidery, shoes in which it oughtn't to be possible to walk with such assurance, pale hair piled high. But anyone whose own worries leave the leisure to grant her a second, more considering glance, will see that beneath her dark and enveloping robes her figure has taken on a new maternal opulence; and that her face seems to have aged three or four years in the span of twelve months. Poor Eddie, finally succumbing to time…

When she came in she didn't demand to be seated at the front of the hall — she's a Malfoy, so that sort of thing just happens naturally. And with her, of course, her brother Cassius's consort, Rhyeline Diderot, and bodyguard.

Mr. and Mrs. Harper are here, near the back, with a clear gap of two or three seats on either side of them. Seems many don't wish to sit next to the cursed family. They're dressed in their Sunday best, and watch the comings-and-goings avidly.

Astoria enters amongst a crowd, clad in black robes and wearing a knit cap. She moves off to the side, where a few other reporters and media-types stand. A legal pad, or the witchly equivalent, appears in her hand while a quill begins to dance happily in front of her. "Oh, good afternoon," she says with a smile towards a colleague. "A bit crowded, isn't it?" she asks with a small smile.

Quite alone - not that one could notice in this crowd - Rena Lee moves through the door into the community hall and manages to find a place to sit. Removing her overcoat and draping it carefully onto her chair, the unassuming redhead removes a neatly folded sheet of paper from the pocket and then turns to sit down. For the moment, pale and somewhat nervous looking, she just lets her gaze travel around the bewildering room full of people.

Cooper was just outside finishing off a cigarette before entering. Her cloche hat has been taken off because she's a perfect gentleman, but her messy blonde up-do remains. She will take her seat in the back, off to the side near Astoria, actually. "A media frenzy," she comments idly to the reporter, lounging lazily in her seat. "How've you been Astoria?" She's speaking rather dryly today, not looking to thrilled to hear the onslaught of ignorant opinons today.

Chosing to sit towards the back with colleagues, and in case any emergencies arise, Ranjit tugs off her winter hat and settles onto a chair. She leans over to listen to a nurse she knows and just nods then looks around seeing if she recognises any other faces.

Rhyeline keeps close as she follows Edwarlinda Malfoy through the crowd. Her dark, expressive eyes shine with apprehension as the roar of the crowd threatens to overwhelm the fragile creature. She does her best to maintain a calm composure, even though at her sides, her hands cling tight to her robes. Wishing they weren't sitting quite so close to the front of the hall, the little one takes her place beside Cassius Malfoy's sister.

Astoria turns a little when Cooper speaks to her. She smiles briefly, enough to be polite, before quickly saying, "Here and there, like most, really. The news came as a shock, and I'm working on a rather large story at the moment. It's all becoming rather difficult to balance at work, but I'm sure it's nothing compared to what you have been tasked with." Astoria sighs and lets her eyes narrow slightly while she turns to the crowd. "Are you here professionally?" she wonders.

Up on stage, Peter Webley approaches the podium. He taps the sonophone, which booms through the room. "Sorry about that," he says, his voice amplified above the noise of the crowd, which begins to die down.

Graham steps into the hall as the stream of people makes their way into the hall. He takes a moment to organize himself as there are so many people here. The young man steps out of the way trying to see if he knows anyone here or could even find them for that matter, he spots a familiar face from work sitting alone and makes his way her direction "Told you'd I would make it Rena." he says giving a small smile to the other but he'll move to sit down lightly.

When Mr. and Mrs. Harper see people they know, they'll smile and wave. That includes Graham.

Rena jumps slightly when Graham appears at her side from out of the blue and speaks to her. However, after the initial shock, a hint of a smile tugs at her lips. Quite a relieved one at that: "Thank goodness, Graham," she says, taking a tense little breath. "It's silly, but I was worried there wouldn't be a single friendly face I knew in the crowd. Thanks for making it."

"Welcome, ladies and gents," Webley begins, "to the W.W.N. Community Forum on Secrecy, the Army of Truth, and the recent Diagon Alley Riot." It may be the first time many have heard the term, Army of Truth, which has only barely begun to be used in the media in reference to Grindelwald's faction. "Everyone that wants a chance to speak, please form up in one of two queues behind the podiums provided. I will remind you all that this is not a debate. While the panel up here on stage may inject commentary or questions for community speakers, this is not meant to be a back-and-forth. Everyone will give a chance to have their say. Please keep all commentary at three minutes or less. Now, without further ado, I'll introduce the panel. I am Peter Webley, associate producer at the Wizarding Wireless Network. Behind me you will see Ms. Verita Hardwick, Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Prophet, and beside her, Mr. Penzington Prince, Chief of the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes." He waits for the light round of applause before continuing.

Tall, imposing, and with a heavy sort of presence, Arlo Sykes arrives into the hall with his smaller greying-blonde wife Perdita by his side. Even though the Master of Ceremonies has begun, speaking the man takes his time, saying hello to various families and figures. He comes by to shake a hand with Balaurius Malfoy, and Perdita and Desdemonia exchange cheek kisses before the Sykes couple take a seat in the row behind the clan.

Dillorous Diderot, that affable gentleman of middle age, had been casually schmoozing around ahead of the event. Reacquainting himself with old friends and associates, trading hand shakes and commenting on this and that, the sort of thing you did to grease the wheels of high society status peddling. Yet a little before it started properly he had started to extract himself, until he was found somewhere rather out of the way and along the sides of the Hall, standing rather than sitting. When the Malfoy entourage - and his daughter with them - arrived, his eyes followed them the whole way. Though from the spot he'd chosen it would be no great shock if he wasn't likewise noticed in return.

That he was there would at some point be obvious, though, since he intended to have a few words.

Rena bites her lower lip nervously when the call goes out for speakers. For a fleeting instant, there is that deer-in-the-headlights look in her dark eyes as she stares at the sonophone. Swallowing, she murmurs to herself: "Come on, kid - you used to perform all the time. Just remember 'ow you used to do it."

Rising to her feet, Rena flicks a glance at Graham and offers a brave smile as she edges past: "Here goes nothing. I'll remember to watch my H's and speak out proper." That said, she moves along to join the cue of people who wish to speak.

Cooper nods to Astoria in reply, "Work-life balance. I know the feeling, but don't worry I don't doubt with everything happening, we're all rather hectic." Hands shoved in her pockets she says to Astoria, "Anyhow, if you're available later, I will likely need a drink after all this is said and done. Would you like to accompany me later? I owe you one anyhow." And then when there's a call to comment, Cooper groans, "Like school children. No, 'fraid I'm not here professionally Astoria. I'll be back." And she too begrudgingly lines up behind Rena to make a commant.

Graham returns the grin "You have more friends then you realize most if not all the auror's we've gotta standby our own." The young an says in return though he turns to the front as things start up. He'll sit listening and watching.

Webley continues: "Thank you. Let's hear the first community speaker. Ma'am, if you would?" He gestures to a middle-aged witch at one of the podiums, who quite nervously tells the tale of her poor kneazle that went missing during the riot, and pleads with the crowd that if anyone has seen Mister Puddingpaws, to please contact her at… "Thank you, ma'am," Webley interjects before she can give her home address. "If anyone has seen Mister…Puddingpaws. Please contact W.W.N. and we'll see that he is returned safely to this lovely woman. Next speaker, please?" He gestures to the other podium, where the author, Dillorous Diderot, stands ready to speak.

A bemused blonde woman strolls in with a dour looking maid and a more muscular looking bit of muscle trailing behind her. Oriana slips off her fox stole and hands it to her maid before finding a seat that pleases her entourage and provides her with a solid view of the proceedings. The Italian witch's mouth quirks with faint amusement.

Rhyeline keeps quiet, sitting next to Edwarlinda near the front. Back straight and hands folded in her lap, under pressure she falls back on perfect etiquette. The first speaker's request causes the little one to bite her lower lip. Noticing her father preparing to speak, her eyes widen.

Astoria listens quietly to Cooper, and nods after the offering a drink. "Certainly," she remarks with a brief smile. But then Rena is moving to stand in line, and the saga of poor Mister Puddingpaws, most adorable of quadrapeds, takes Astoria by surprise. A hand rises to her chest, and she rubs her cheek. How terrible!

Dillorous grip the podium and looking around the crowd, looking calm and dignified, and wearing one of his better smiles. "Good wizards and witches! Some of you know me, some of you probably wish you hadn't.. Yes, I'm looking at you, Longbottom..! And if I'm lucky one or two of you even bought one of my books. Thank you for that. You're the reason I'm not old and penniless."

With kindly smiling crinkles spreading from the corners of his eyes, he continued. "I wish I was here just to self-promote, though. Alas. I am here instead to say that I am increasingly worried at the W.W.N. and it's decision to crudely pander towards our community's lowest denominator. Really Webley, are you this desperate for listeners? You really should've stuck to music and news, because Cauldron Talk is a sham." He shook his head. "And I fear it's the sign of the times. This path towards extremism is leading us nowhere, good, people. I'm here to let you know that I for one will not allow myself to be pulled into the storm just became some people scream loudly that I should. If you want to get me on your side, please for the love of Merlin use sense rather than crass hyperbole. And when violence seems to be the only message, and Diagon Alley has tasted that message already.. then all I can do is scoff. Thank you."

After a bit of whispering between himself and his wife, Mr. Harper stands up and joins the cue.

From the back comes the sound of applause as Dillorous finishes speaking. Ranjit might be a tiny thing but she has learned how to clap loudly after years of doing it to get the attention of screaming women and frightened junior apprentices.

Astoria listens quietly to Dillorous, even as a gentleman beside her begins to hiss at the mention of Cauldron Talk being a sham. She quietly watches her quill write, noting a few points with nods. The gentleman beside her begins to boo, and he swiftly receives an elbow to the gut. Where does it come from? Who knows. Astoria merely grins.

Clearly moved by the tragedy of the missing Mister Puddingpaws, Rena's expression becomes quite distressed. However, she forces herself to glance over her own notes again as the older witch takes her leave.

When Dillorous takes the podium; the redhead suddenly takes notice once more. She recognizes him! It was only the other day she had brushed paths with him. And what's more, his stirring speech causes her to break out in a bright smile. She too joins in whatever applause is given to his words, clapping her own speech vigorously.

Okay, so he may be Rhyeline's father, but Cooper can't help but find him extremely charming. And even though she is internally oogling at his wit and even more so his anti-Cauldron talk-ism, she's kept a straight face, clapping along with everyone else.

Edwarlinda Malfoy listens with the same politely attentive poker face to those who talk sense, and to those who, quite frankly, don't — though there may be something of her real opinions in whatever she just whispered to little Rhyeline Diderot. About her father, perhaps? Or was it Mr Puddingpaws?

After a few more speakers have expressed their concerns over the riots, their support of the Army of Truth, or the shameful inaction of the Ministry, Verita Hardwick approach the podium on the stage. Her commanding presence and razor sharp voice cut through the murmurs to pin-drop silence. "I have here a letter that was sent anonymously to be read aloud at this forum:

"We're the same species - Interbreeding is proof of that, as are the mud-born. The fact that some witches and wizards can come from families with no magical background shows that, while we are a new iteration of Human, we're not so far different from Muggles. Half-bloods are no less magically able than purebloods, by and large. While by no means should we fail to protect ourselves from the folly of Muggles, nor should we reveal our existence to them, the truth of the matter is this; By themselves, they are becoming Us. With our help, they can become Us faster. Assimilation is the solution, a word in which magic is the norm, not the stick nor the carrot. ~Delivered by Hogwarts Owl."

Verita returns to her seat to the sound of light clapping and some grumbles from the crowd in response to the letter.

Rhyeline joins the uproar of applause that tries to drown the boos and hisses, clapping her hands with silent reserve. The crowd is restless. There is angry shouting as wizards and witches push and elbow each other here and there. Her dark gaze flickers to her bodyguard who scans the crowd with the fierce focus of a hawk searching an open field. As Edwarlinda leans in to whisper, the little one tilts her head to catch the quiet words. Her expression remains neutral as she gives a slight nod of acknowledgement. What comes next, the anonymous letter, soon ensnares the girl's attention once more.

Dillorous returned to the spot he had occupied before, trading a few words along the way with random opinionators. Whether they agreed or not he answered with a smile. Finally he settled in with his arms folded over his chest, and went to listen in silence as more and more people took the podium. There were polite claps if he agreed, or just silence if he didn't. No undignified boos from him. Though as time passed he did eventually start looking through his outer robes for his pipe.

Oriana leans into her maid and there is an exchange of quiet words. She withdraws a cigarette case only to see a vampires face blanch nearby. With a sigh the witch puts the case away again and focuses her attention on the speakers.

Sabine, though she's been otherwise quiet until now, joins the undertone of boo-ing that follows the anonymous letter. She does not rise, nor does she cheer, but instead she narrows her eyes hatefully at all that do so.

Dillorous did not, it should be noted, clap for the anonymous letter.

The next speaker is a tall, lanky man with high cheekbones. He clears his throat into the sonophone. "Ah…yes, hello. I am Ichabod Thorpe. I'm a Squib. Um…I would like to say that…things are harder than ever for Squibs. My wife, she's also a Squib, was pushed around in the street yesterday by a pair of men wearing that awful Eye of Truth. I…I think that the Eye should be made illegal. It makes these ruffians bold. They think they're protected by Grindelwald, so they act as if they can do what they want. That…that's all I have to say." The man hurriedly leaves the podium, and even the hall itself.

If Arlo Sykes and Perdita are annoyed, they show not a trace of it. They instead sit proudly and coldly in their seats. One man, swears that Thorpe had made eye contact with the severe looking man before running away, pale-faced and nervous.

Graham sits listening with the others though he joins in the applause as well though he's still looking about the place unease likely still winning his caution in a forum of this size. He does reach to his pocket to look over a few notes.

Edwarlinda gives Rhyeline an encouraging nod as she rises from the bench next to her, a single sheet of rolled parchment held in satin-gloved fingers. It's mostly a prop, of course, she's familiar enough with what it contains… In the few seconds it takes her to uncurl it and arrange it lightly against the podium, holding it with one hand, she looks around at the people and creatures who have gathered here today and catches as many of their eyes as she can.

"This is a brief statement prepared by Miss Rhyeline Diderot." Her voice is measured, confident, aristocratic — and soon to be richly coloured by the emphasis placed upon certain words. "This is not the first time we have come together to discuss the end of our exile among secrets and shadows," she begins. "We have argued long and deliberated hard over whether to leave Muggles to their own devices, or intervene more directly in the affairs of the world we share. But the time to vacillate over whether we should remain hidden is over. The walls which conceal us from the awareness of Muggles will soon fall.

"It is no longer within our reach, to influence the course of history on the Continent. Secret diplomatic efforts have long since failed us. And when Secrecy crumbles on the Continent, so too will the veil be torn from Muggle eyes here in the United Kingdom. Our choice is no longer whether to bring an end to the Statute of Secrecy, but rather how to end it," and a deeper note of passion creeps into Eddie's voice, a yearning to transmit the certainty that she and Rhyeline share into the hearts of all their listeners.

"The Ministry of Magic must act now toward a peaceful means for us to reveal ourselves, lest the minds of our fellow men and women be poisoned by the violence of oppression on the Continent. Now is the time we must choose our fate. If we waver…" She pauses; her attention continues to roam over the people around her, reaching all the way to the back of the hall, seizing as many eyes as she can before uttering this last phrase. "It will be chosen for us."

She draws in another breath; but that is all she has to say today. Her hand sweeps away from the podium, carrying the parchment with it, and she returns to her seat next to Rhyeline, carrying herself like — well — a Malfoy.

Penzington Prince lifts his chin, arching an eyebrow at Edwarlinda's — or rather, Rhyeline's — words. The man primarily responsible for maintaining the Statute of Secrecy in the United Kingdom doesn't comment or indicate support or rejection of the commentary, but he does clap politely with the other panelists.

Rhyeline's eyes widen the moment that Edwarlinda mentions her authorship of the statement. That was not expected. Her cheeks burn with warmth as her words reach so many ears. Her pounding heart almost drowns out the sound of Edwarlinda's voice. Once it's over, she still can't move. The mouse sits frozen in her spot.

Cooper's brows first raise at the appearance of Edwarlinda. It's the first time she's seen her co-worker take a public stand in a long time. But when she says she's speaking on behalf of Miss Diderot, Cooper's blue eyes look over to the Malfoys and Rhyeline with curiosity. How odd. When did all that happen?

Dillorous Diderot listened with polite detachment as his daughter's statement was read aloud by the Malfoy. The vague hint of a smile haunted the corner of his mouth at the end, and his gaze flickered in the direction of the young mousy woman up there at the front. Yet it didn't linger, and perhaps most noteworthy of all, he did not give even polite applause. His hands stayed occupied with his pipe, which was now puffing out smoke. Gradually he started to drift towards the very back of the Community Hall.

Though Sabine's features don't register surprise at the statement's content, she does shake her head as if disappointed, glancing in Rhyeline's direction. Her expression has all the charm (and condescension) of an adult irritated with a toddler.

Somberly, Rena keeps her gaze locked on Edwardlinda as she makes her speech. For a fleeting moment in the end, her face falls. A moment of self-doubt and hesitation. How can she follow that…

But then, Rena's turn comes. She does her level best to not seem as nervous as she really is inside. Stepping up to the podium, the young woman draws herself up to her full and unimpressive height before speaking carefully.

"We've all heard a lot of noise about The Eye of Truth. For or against it - we're all concerned with what it stands for; and with those who've caused harm by it.

As an Auror, I'm your servant. It's my job to protect you and I'm committed to my work. But, what's more… I'm one of those people that some would persecute. I live my life with one foot in each world. I /am/ muggle-born.

Nobody chooses what, where or how they're born. Despite what some people may think, we all have one thing in common: Regardless of status, race OR blood, we are all equal human beings; and we were all born this way.

To those who may be targets of hatred, I'm begging you: Stand your ground - but do it peacefully. Hatred grows from fear and fear grows from ignorance. These people live in fear of something that doesn't exist. They're waiting for a chance to say: "See how violent they are? They must be controlled!" Don't give them that advantage. Prove that we stand for a peaceful resolution. Show them the real face of Truth."

By this time, Rena's voice has wavered slightly due to a shiver of emotion trembling through her small frame. Forcibly regaining her composure, the young Auror concludes her speech: "To both sides, I close by using words of wisdom spoken to me by a wise educator during my time in Hogwarts: 'It's easy to set the heather a-fire; but so hard to put it out.' The riot has already carried things too far. If this goes further - one life on either side will be one life too many. Don't light a fire we can't control."

When she finds herself sitting next to someone who's practically under an Immobilus, Eddie sighs. She isn't sure exactly what's wrong, but in the brief period they've been in one another's lives it's not the first time Rhyeline has surprised her with an outbreak of timidity… She gives her a brief and bracing hug, one arm round her back, squeezing, then gone again. "I didn't sound that bad, did I?" she whispers; and then hushes to listen to the Auror who has come next to the podium.

Rena's words bring rumblings from the crowd. From a few shouts of "Mudblood!" to those protesting that the persecuted have a right to defend themselves, to those supporting her cry for peace trying to quiet the agitators. Peter Webley quickly takes to the podium, booming his voice over the crowd. "Thank you, Auror. Powerful words, as everyone seems to feel them deeply. I will remind the attendees that this is not a debate. Let us please have order, so everyone has a chance to be heard."

It is a long walk from the back to join the queue of people, but the exotic looking witch does so. Her lime green robes peek out from beneath her woolen coat, marking her as a healer and an obvious magic user. Though the robes suit Ranjit, nobody in their right mind would wear that hideous colour unless they had to. When her time finally comes she says in her odd accent, a mixture of Brummie and Punjabi laced English, "Forgive me for I did not know I would speak today. I don't have an elegantly prepared statement. As I sat in the back I became overwhelmed with a need to speak up." She pauses and looks around, "For some I will be a familiar face for others an unknown one. I am a healer and I wanted say it was disgraceful how the riot was handled. My colleagues and I work tirelessly for all magical creatures, whatever their race." Here she pauses to glance at some of those other magical races, just briefly before continuing. "During the riots one of my patients, a pregnant witch, was forced to deliver her own baby because I could not get to her thanks to the rioters. Thankfully, this patient was also a former colleague who knew what to do in the situation but there were others who did not and who suffered needlessly. Those rioters should be ashamed of themselves. They hurt the very people they claimed they are interested in protecting. The Ministry should also be ashamed for not taking the threat seriously beforehand."

When she has said her peace Ranjit steps away from the podium and moves quietly back to her seat, doing her best to not look at anyone in particular, finally getting hit with that nervousness over the sheer size of the crowd.

The quite reserved little applause Dillorous gave Rena was half a step above outright disapproval, but it wasn't quite an enthusiastic embrace of her theme either. When Ranjit spoke however the greying author did lend his full weight into it, clapping about as loudly as a gentle-wizard could without looking like a damn plebeian. There was a time and place for that (like getting shit-faced in a pub), but this wasn't it.

Chief Prince frowns slightly at Ranjit's shaming of the Ministry, but it is barely noticeable. Verita Hardwick, however, seems to nod in somber approval, clapping politely.

Astoria, who hasn't clapped or cheered, finally does so after Ranjit speaks. The quill in front of her dances excitedly, swishing back and forth, before continuing to write on the legal pad.

Rhyeline peeks up at Edwarlinda when she finds herself pulled into a brief hug. Her dark gaze shines with vulnerable apprehension as she shakes her head. No, that wasn't it. As Rena takes to the podium, Rhyeline looks to her, distracting herself from her own still-pounding heart. Despite her silent reserve, she applauds the words counseling against violence. Catching sight of the healer, the little mouse freezes once more.

Despite the derisive calls of Mudblood and other insults, Rena's composure is unshaken now and she keeps her chin held high. She nods to the speaker and makes her way through the crowd. Even as she moves back to her own seat, Ranjit makes her moving speech. Returning to her coat, the redhead places it onto her lap and sits down as she applauds the midwife's words.

Graham makes his way up towards the podium as well now though he doesnt seem quite ready to do this, he's not a public speaker really though this is important to him. IT effects many friends and family and even others whom he wishes to protect

"Firstly, thank you for a allowing me to speak in this community. My job takes me many places within London both magical and muggle alike and I get to see many sides of many different people. What I have seen is that there is good and bad in each and its how we manage it that makes us individuals. We have a chance to show that though we were brought up differently. We care for our friends and family in this community.

"The riots are a dark spot on this community and with this forum and the many who have come. We are given this chance to show those who would wish to rule others with fear and violence that we will not stand for it. It only takes a united front do what you can for who you are able. I am not speaking about vigilante justice, we'd be no better than them, but protect your friends family neighbors don't turn a blind eye, by doing this we stop this in its tracks before it begins. Thank you."

The applause makes Ranjit blush, thankfully she's far in the back now and can hide again and listen to other speakers.

"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen," Mr. Harper says when it's his turn. Politely he removes his hand and holds it in his hands while he speaks. He's a fine-looking man, tall and broad-shouldered, just the sort to play the lead on a movie. "First, I'd like to tell Mr. Thorpe how sorry I am to hear that. Terrible, just terrible." He nods to Rena. "Rousing speech, miss." A solemn nod for Ranjit. "We would do well to learn from this, I say. It could have been much worse."

"Now, I know that many of you are frightened. Rather understandable, what with all the news coming in from the Continent. I, too, live with fear. For those of you who don't know," he says, nodding to a few Muggle-born wizards and witches Mr. Harper recognizes. "I have been living under a death-threat since the day I was born. A curse, actually, which claimed my two sweet sisters, which even now threatens the lives of — of my children." His voice breaks and he takes a second to clear his throat and compose himself. "But, if there is one thing that I have learned from shouldering this terribly burden, it's that reacting out in fear and anger will not solve anything. I urge you all to turn to each other in these foreboding times, and lend your strength to one another, so that we might all stand united and strong." He raises a hand, gesturing for patience. "But consider this… even though my shop was vandalized, and several items stolen during the riot, I am not bitter. I believe that the enemy to stand against isn't our fellow Englishmen, or any other people — not even poor, ignorant Muggles. No, it's our own fears. I believe we need to accept everyone with love."

Mr. Harper pauses for a moment to get his breath. "I do not support the idea of revealing ourselves to Muggles. Not yet. They are too numerous, and possessing of great armies that would surely overwhelm even the best of us. If we want peace with them, we must first lead by example, and be peaceful ourselves. It's the only real way to stand victorious. As a man far wiser than myself once said, you must love your neighbor as yourself. Thank you." He turns to go sit back down.

Rhyeline joins the applause that follows Graham's statement. The little one seems to have calmed a touch. Should he glance her way, she'd offer him a small, brief smile before looking to the next speakers and adopting a neutral expression once more.

A few members of the audience recognize the Harpers and begin to giggle and murmur. "Aren't they the ones with the strange curse on them?" The murmurs and snickers continue. "Yeah there's that one bloke who died from blueberries? Can you believe that? Pathetic way to die." Another man comments as Mr. Harper walks past him to sit back down, "I wonder in what ridiculous manner this one's going to kick the bucket."

Cooper has been quietly listening on to the varying opinions of others, clapping for ones that she liked, staying silent for those she wasn't too fond of. But when it's her turn, she walks forward with confidently, with a look of serious business on her face.

Cooper doesn't introduce herself or make mention of personal details, when she steps forward to the podium. Leaning forward against the surface of the stand, she announces, "I'm not actually here to make a comment but to ask a question, particularly of Chief Prince." Her thick glasses are pushed up the slope of her nose and she turns around to look at the Ministry official straight in the eye. "Mr. Prince, unless you don't already know, what is the Ministry's stance toward this "Army of Truth"? Does the ministry plan on taking greater action within all its departments to ensure the safety of those who may disagree with the Grindelwald movement? What extra steps have they taken to punish those who choose the violent way of imposing their opinions on others? Especially those who think they can do so without regard for the law." She gestures to the exit where the squib man had run off, "Mr. Thorpe has suggested that he still feels rather unsafe. I don't doubt he isn't the only one." Seems odd for an auror to be asking a question as if though she weren't a ministry worker. But no one who isn't personally familiar with her needs to know that. Cooper stays at the podium, waiting for an answer with a cool demeanor as if she's used to addressing high ranking officials do directly in front of large crowds.

Ranjit glares at a woman behind her who sniggers about toad licking. "Curses are not funny and neither is death, madam." With a decided huff the healer turns her attention to Cooper and her questions."

Arlo Sykes was muttering something to Arcadius Lestrange until the young blonde witch had stepped up to ask her questions. They pause mid-conversation to observe Cooper intently, before waiting on Prince for an answer.

Peter Webley chimes in, "This is a chance to speak. But the panel-…"

But Prince cuts him off, "It's alright, Peter. I'll answer." The Chief in charge of Obliviators, Muggle Liaisons, the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad, and so many other subdivisions steps up to the stage podium. "I cannot speak directly for my colleagues heading other departments, but I can assure all of you that the Ministry is taking every possible step to keep the peace. As was scene during the Diagon Alley riot, the M.L.E. responded quickly and thoroughly, with all of the manpower it could spare. Extra patrols have been assigned to the Diagon Alley area. Even now, I am told that the Wizengamot is meeting to discuss whether changes in the law would be of benefit. After what I have witnessed here today, I will personally recommend a hearing, in which some of the voices and opinions here can be heard directly by the Wizengamot and the Minister for Magic. In the meantime, every department remains committed to maintaining order and the rule of law." Though not known for public speaking, the man delivers his words with absolute conviction. His statement made, Prince nods firmly, and returns to his seat.

After a few more speakers come forward, Webley retakes the podium. "We have time for just one more speaker. Ah…" he smiles when he sees who has come forward. "Professor, please. We are all eager to hear what you have to say."

Rhyeline listens with appreciative attention to Cooper's questions, though she doesn't expect they will be answered soon. Let alone an immediate response. As Prince approaches the stage podium, the little one blinks and procedes to listen, rapt. The mention of a direct hearing causes her eyes to widen. Silent, she peeks up at Edwarlinda.

An elderly woman steps up to the podium. Her statueqsque form and majestic features are familiar to a great many in the room, as most have sat in her classroom at Hogwarts at some point. Veteran Professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts, Galatea Merrythought, lends her Swedish-accented voice to the forum. "It's easy to set the heather a-fire; but so hard to put it out," she echoes Rena's words. "So true. So true. Extinguishing the flames requires the efforts of a great many, working in unison. But it is work, not violence, that will end the threat. Sweat and toil, and determination…but peace. We all have the right to defend ourselves. But when we lash back, we only fan the flames.

"Gellert Grindelwald is not saying anything new. These ideas have been around for centuries. What is most disturbing, though, and what none seem willing to speak of, is that these philosophies nearly always go hand-in-hand with the Dart Arts. Those radical enough to espouse the domination of Muggles or the right of might, are also those desperate enough to turn to Dark magic to see their will done. I assure you, it is no coincidence that Grindelwald has made my alma mater, Durmstrang — a school notorious for actually teaching the Dark Arts — his base of operations.

"Be cautious, my friends. Even those of you that support the Army of Truth may not realise what it is that you are giving strength to. The Eye represents not truth, but blindness to the dangers that have so often risen in the past. The Army, the Eye, the Magijugend and the Headmaster that supports it…all are a part of a much greater, and much Darker device that will be far more devastating than anyone has yet guessed." She nods to the crowd on either sided of her, then the panel. "Thank you," she says, and steps away to stunned silence, then a growing uproar that quickly threatens to turn riotous as the gathered crowd begins turning in on itself.

Cooper had opened her mouth to reply to Prince, a scowl forming on her face. But these security guards are good! They catch her move and immediately surround Cooper to escort her away. And getting defensive, the auror scowls and tells them, "Hey! I'm not done here I-" She's silenced however, when Merrythought steps forward. Out of respect to such a wonderful professor, she is begrudgingly escourted back to her seat by Astoria, but the guards quickly abandon her as soon as the uproar begins. "What shite," she grumbles to Astoria.

Mr. and Mrs. Harper applaud Galatea Merrythought and cheer her words as well.

Having heard enough the seemingly silent Oriana rises to her feet and leaves, her guard and maid following.

Worried about what might happy, especially after she spots one of her patients in the audience, Ranjit stays on until the very end.

Astoria claps quietly after the final speaker, and smiles a little towards the professor. Not one of her personal favorites, but she respects Merrythought. After Cooper arrives, Astoria's features sharpen a bit - except for the slightest of smiles. "Agreed. Eventually he will need to answer the hard questions," she notes with a slow nod. "What, may I ask, were you going to add?"

Dillorous didn't applaud when Merrythought was done. Instead his expression was grim and reluctant, and the nod he gave in agreement was mostly a nod meant for himself rather than the crowd at large. With a sigh he emptied the ashes of his pipe with a quick little tap-tap-tap against the wall, then made it vanish into his robes. "Dear oh dear," he muttered to himself, then started heading for the exit. If he knew anyone on the way, he'd shake their hand and smile, and say something polite but nonsensical, then continue on.

Cooper frowns and pulls her glasses of so that she can clean a speck off using some material from her lumpy sweater. "He certainly will," she says slipping them back on along with the cloche hat atop her head. With a smirk to Astoria she asks, "Will it be off the record?"

Eddie Malfoy applauded with unrestrained enthusiasm the two women who, in following her, spoke against violence from their different perspectives; and since then has adopted a quieter and more thoughtful posture. She'll remember all that she hears today — and who said it besides. She'll remember most of all the counsel of Galatea Merrythought, a woman of unimpeachable integrity, whom it's impossible somehow to applaud and yet doubly impossible to ignore… The level of noise in the hall seems suddenly to treble in the wake of those words. People are pressing in from all sides, intent upon having a personal word about this or that with the dignitaries at the front of the room, or at any rate making sure they don't miss out on anything interesting anyone else might say, and guess who's in the middle? Edwarlinda meets the bodyguard's eyes over Rhyeline's head; they've had the same idea at the same time, and their little party is very soon on its way to the nearest door.

Rhyeline's attention is soon ensnared by the final speaker. Her words captivate the little mouse, though her expression remains quite neutral. That is- until the shouts of the crowd start to get louder- angrier. Biting her lower lip, she peeks over her shoulder at the crowd, and rises slowly to her feet. After meeting Edwarlinda's gaze, her bodyguard is swooping in to escort Rhyeline through the crowd to safety. Of the few that spoke (or had her words spoken) her statements were among least circuitous. There is shouting in their direction as the three pass through the crowd. More shouting. A lunge.

Sabine rises from her seat, pulling her robes closer. Her expression is sour, nose wrinkled, as if she's found this evening's proceedings entirely distasteful. She does not stop to speak to anyone on her way out, and does her very best not to brush against as she heads through the crowd.

Apparently, the Ministry was prepared for the possibility that this event might turns dangerous. As pushing and shoving begins, the doors burst open and officers of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad pour in, shouting orders and disarming the few members of the crowd that have drawn wands.

As things turn ugly Ranjit and the few healers and nurses she had been sitting with, or at least those of those still left in the crowd move around to help people. "If you will remain calm. Anyone who is with an injured person please stay with them until we get to you," calls out the healer. Sure she is a midwife, but she had to learn other things first!

Dillorous had possessed the foresight of having already been at the very back when the last speakers had hit the podium, and so barely had any distance to cover at all to be out. In that way he dodged the general mayhem that errupted. Which was just as well. He looked far too smartly put together to be trampled beneath a rioting mob, or lashed at by some over zealous M.L.E employee who thought the fact that he hadn't bothered to shave today meant that he was someone dodgy.

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