(1938-12-18) Of Mice and Madmen
Details for Of Mice and Madmen
Summary: Rhyeline and Zack discuss unsettling current events. Tiberius joins them and is intrigued by Rhyeline, but rather put off by Zack's, uh, eccentricity.
Date: Wednesday, December 18, 1938
Location: Leaky Cauldron

A couple of hours before the dinner rush, the Leaky Cauldron is rather quiet. A light drizzle falls from the grey, late afternoon sky, ensuring that the cold sinks in deep. The Leaky Cauldron, although dark and cramped, is ever warm and toasty. And as quiet as the place is at the moment, Rhyeline has captured the best spot, closest to the fireplace. With a glass of mulled wine warming her hands, the little one takes long, slow sips as she stares into the bright, cheerful flames.

Zack enters the Leaky Cauldron in the same tatty robes he wore before, and they are once again a little damp from the rain. His arms wrapped around himself, he strides across the room from the Diagon Alley entrance, heading towards the bar, but he comes to an abrupt halt when he spots a familiar face sitting by the fireplace. He stares at her for several seconds as if struggling to remember where he's seen her before, and then suddenly his eyes widen. "Hello," he says, stepping over to her table in a hurry. "I didn't know you came here."

Rhyeline blinks and peeks up at Zack. Lowering her glass, she offers him a soft smile before nodding. "Yes. Sometimes… their mulled wine is excellent." She pauses, glancing at the chair across from hers. "Would you… care to join me? Zack?"

"I don't drink wine," Zack states. "I don't like the taste. I'd drink it if it was blue though. Is there such a thing as blue wine?" He contemplates this for a while, almost missing her offer for him to join her. "What? Join you? You mean sit down at your table? Well, okay, yes. I'd like that." He moves towards a seat, but upon noticing the guard standing nearby, he starts and gives the other person a puzzled frown. "Er, I am allowed to, aren't I?" he asks Rhyeline. "Who is that?"

Rhyeline blinks and follows his puzzled frown to her guard. "Oh… that's- that's just Helga. She's just to make sure that- that I'm safe…" A subtle blush warms her fair cheeks. Lowering her gaze, she hides behind her glass for a moment before peeking over at Zack.

"Helga," Zack repeats, not sure what to make of the woman. "Why wouldn't you be safe? I'm not going to blow you up. That was an accident. I was working on a spell. Sometimes things go wrong when I attempt unstable magic. But I'm not going to do any unstable magic. It's better if I don't do that in public places. Safer." He eyes the woman, Helga, again, and then edges towards a seat as if expecting her to leap at him and tackle him to the ground.

"No, I- I don't think- I mean… You're alright… it's other things she's worried about," murmurs Rhyeline, turning more pink by the moment. As her shyness deepens, her words come with increasing difficulty.

"Good," says Zack, who seems oblivious to any of Rhyeline's shyness. "As long as she stays over there. I don't like people jumping out of me. It makes me twitchy." He gives the woman another uncertain look and then sits down. "Why are you hiding behind your glass? Is there something on my nose this time?" He brushes a hand over his face and squints at his empty palm.

Rhyeline sets her glass down on the table and shakes her head. Although she still seems a bit self-conscious, she can't help but smile at Zack's question. Shaking her head, she murmurs, "No, there's nothing. And she wouldn't jump out at you… Don't worry."

"Okay, good," Zack says, then he sits forward with his arms folded on the table, his hands clutching the fabric of his ragged robes at the elbows. "And I'm not worried. If you say I shouldn't be, then I'm not. I'm not used to sitting at a table without having something in front of me, though," he goes on to admit. "Usually it's notes of stuff I'm working on, but now it's just emptiness."

"I know what you mean… but… When it gets crowded here, and someone has had too much to drink, it's easy for ale or food to get spilled on your work, so- so I only bring books to Cafe Tasseo now. And here… I come here to think… and listen," she murmurs before taking another sip of wine.

"Yes," Zack says, frowning as he looks around the pub, "that's happened to me before. But I'm not going to let a few wet sheets of parchment get in the way of my work. What's Cafe Tasseo? I've never heard of it. Is it nearby?" He looks off into the distance for a moment. "Hmm? Oh, what do you come here to think about? And listen to?"

"I like to listen to what people say about- about current events… and- I like to reflect on what they've said… I suppose it's- it's research… And Cafe Tasseo is a quiet, beautiful cafe up Verdic Alley past Unbound Books…" murmurs Rhyeline with a bright little smile.

"Current events?" Zack asks blankly, as if he's never heard of such things in his life. "Oh! Yes, research. So you research people you meet? That's interesting. I'd have never thought of doing something like that. What kinds of things do you learn? What sorts of things do they sell at the cafe?" But his eyes light up all of a sudden. "Unbound Books? Is that a bookstore? I've never been there either. What kind of books do they sell?"

Rhyeline parts her lips to answer his first question, starting to shake her head a bit, but then he's asking her another question. And another. She hesitates before answering his last question with a bit of a grin, "Wonderful books… so many… stories, books on philosophy… history… and- and they even have some muggle books… although… these days they are hidden in the back. You have to ask for them…"

"I like books," Zack says absently. "I need to replace some of the ones I lost. Maybe I can find them there. So it's before Cafe Tasseo? I don't know where that is, so that doesn't help. Oh, right, it's in Verdic Alley. I know where that is. I've never read a Muggle book. Seems like they'd be boring. I like books that I can learn stuff from. Why are you smiling like that?"

Rhyeline's smile grows. She can't help it. Lowering her gaze, she tries to hide it behind a hand before peeking back up at him. "I don't know… you just make me smile. But… muggle books can be very interesting. I like to read their stories about wizards… I think it's interesting… And- and with the possibility that- that the secrecy we live in might end soon… I think it's important to know how they see us."

Zack watches Rhyeline with a rather bemused expression. "I do?" he says, quite puzzled by the concept. "Why?" He almost forgets that they were in the middle of a conversation for a moment, but then he seems to remember. "What? They have stories about wizards? What do they say? That would be like us having stories about Muggles. Or do we have stories about Muggles?" He almost misses her last comment entirely. "Our secrecy might end? What do you mean? We aren't allowed to tell Muggles about ourselves. It's against the law."

"Mhm… but the law might change… it will have to if- if Grindelwald's movement on the continent takes hold…" Rhyeline pauses, before adding, "That's the sort of thing I think about… And… I like to listen to what people are saying about current events… the riots in Diagon Alley, the end of secrecy…"

Zack stares at Rhyeline as if she's speaking another language. "There are riots in Diagon Alley?" he says blankly. "How come I haven't heard of them. Oh, probably because I've been missing for five and a half months. And because I don't read the newspaper. And because I don't talk to people about current events." He nods at his own explanation. "So what's Grindelwald's movement then? How come secrecy is going to end? Can it really?"

"It could… it will…" murmurs Rhyeline, looking down into her glass. "In Europe, Grindelwald is gathering followers… He intends to end secrecy… but through force, subjugation of muggles…" She tucks a loose wisp of a curl behind her ear before peeking up at Zack, meeting his gaze. "I serve as a researcher for the Unity movement here in Britain… And- and Unity has called for a- a different approach… one of education and equality… But… unless we act quickly… secrecy will end in a manner not of our choosing."

Zack looks quite lost. "Force," he mutters to himself, "subjugation of Muggles… Unity movement? What's that? Oh, you are a researcher! So am I!" Quite excited that they have something in common, he hurries on to say, "I research spells and magic so that I can come up with new ones of my own. I'm very good at it. Except when I'm not, but that's what Magical Accidents and Catastrophes is for. To fix things when I mess them up. Well, not just me. They fix things for other people too." Then, remembering that they were talking about something else, he says, "What do you mean 'unless we act quickly'? What am I supposed to do? How is it my fault?"

Once more, Rhyeline can't help but smile as she listens to him talk, flitting from topic to topic like a over-caffinated sparrow. However, when he asks how it is his fault, she bites her lower lip and shakes her head. "No, I- I didn't mean /you/… Just… the wizarding public… our policy makers… we are so worried over making the wrong choice that soon the choice will be made for us…"

"You're smiling again," Zack remarks. "I wish I had a glass to hide behind too." He stares at the table for several seconds as he says, "Okay, so it's not my fault, it's everyone's fault. Oh, my father's a policy maker. It's his fault. What wrong choices are we, I mean they, making? I'm confused. Sorry. I know I shouldn't be, because I'm smart, but I don't really understand you. Is something bad happening? Is that why you have a woman named Helga following you around?"

"Sort of…" murmurs Rhyeline, lowering her gaze. The little one is a touch evasive about why exactly she has a guard following her. "People are scared that ending secrecy will result in chaos and conflict… but… they seem to be so slow to realize that the choice isn't if we should or shouldn't end secrecy… Grindelwald's movement is gaining power so quickly. Secrecy /will/ end. So now… we can either act first and bring about the end in a peaceful manner… or we can let the violence of Grindelwald's movements forever poison the hearts of our muggles against us…"

"I'm not scared," Zack says vaguely. "But that's only because I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be scared of. I must be one of the slow people that you're talking about. I didn't even know there was a choice in the first place. So you want to tell the Muggles that Wizards exist before someone else does? Because he's going to do… what exactly? Wait, you're not a rebel are you? You're not secretly trying to overthrow the Ministry? That wouldn't be good. But I don't think you are, because you seem so nice."

Rhyeline's laughter is impish, almost childlike. Shaking her head, she grins at him and says, "No… not a rebel. Just a researcher. I gather information so that- so that the Unity movement is well informed… but Grindelwald… you should read his Manifesto. In English, it's called 'For the Greater Good.' He believes that muggles should be placed under Wizard control… but- they are sure to protest… and if that happens, Grindelwald advocates using force to subjugate them. Violence is sure to arise… and the muggles here will not remain ignorant of our presence for long if they hear of the violence between us and the muggles on the continent… and such a terrible first impression is bound to cause persistent tension and conflict thereafter…"

"Rebels can be researchers," Zack says. "I mean, researchers can be rebels. Or whichever way around it is. I don't really know. I'm not a rebel. And you aren't either. I believe you." He glances at Rhyeline, uncertain. "That's not good. I don't have time to subjugate Muggles. I have my own research to do. Why should I read his manifesto? Didn't you just say it's bad? And why are you telling me all this? I don't understand what I'm supposed to do with all this information. It sounds scary."

"It's important to know what's happening in the world… even if it is frightening," murmurs Rhyeline with a small nod. "Forgive me… I didn't mean to unsettle you. I- I was just answering your questions…"

"Hmm?" Zack asks, blinking at the girl. "Forgive you? I don't have anything to forgive you for. I'm unsettled because of what's happening. It's not your fault. It sounds like you're trying to stop the frightening things from happening, so that's a good thing. I suppose it is important. I just don't see what I'm supposed to do about it. I don't know anything about Muggles or secrecy or movements."

"Well… you mentioned your father is a policy maker… If- if he has the power- or knows someone who does have the power to- to do something… Perhaps I- I could speak with him?" Rhyeline bites her lower lip, looking nervous.

"Yes, he is," Zack says before he realizes what Rhyeline is asking him. His eyes grow wide as he sits up in his chair. "You want to talk to him? My father? About what? I don't know if that's a good idea. Have you met my father? No, obviously you haven't since you're asking me about him. I don't know if he'll want to talk to you if I'm the one sending you to him. He's not happy with me right now. More angry than happy, I think."

"Oh…" murmurs Rhyeline, looking more anxious than dissappointed. "I'm- I'm sorry… I… I hope that- that I didn't give you bad advice that night…" She holds her glass closer to herself. There is less than an inch of mulled wine left in it.

Tiberius enters the cauldron looking well groomed. Supremely so, infact. If it wasn't for the last remains of a bruise high on his left cheek, the man would look immaculate. Instead, he touches the mark, riding proudly above his well-tended bear. A quick appraisal of the situation, and he finds himself making comment as he passes by. "Advice given with good intentions is rarely poor, lovely lady." He mentions to the beautiful, slight thing wrapped in silk. The bar calls.

"Advice?" Zack asks, frowning for a second. "Oh, right! The advice you gave me. No, that was great advice. I did exactly what you said, and my brother was very happy to see me. He's not angry at all. It's just my father who's angry. But my brother's glad I'm alive, just like you said he would be. You did say that, didn't you? Well it worked." He makes an attempt at a smile and then jumps when someone speaks nearby. "Oh, hello," he says to the man as if he were part of their conversation. "Do you two know each other?"

Rhyeline smiles, relieved at Zack's reassurance. And she seems warmed by his smile. However, when Tiberius drops his passing comment, referring to her as a lovely lady, she blinks and the subtle warmth of her cheeks deepens. At once, she brings her glass of mulled wine to her lips. Hiding behind it, she finishes the last of its contents. "No…" she murmurs, glancing to Zack. "I don't think so. But… I- I'm glad that- that your brother wasn't angry… but… your father… why is he angry?"

"Would be I were so lucky." Tiberius speaks easily, talking with such light familiarity. "Whiskey, on the rocks." He directs over the bar, placing down a few coins and then turning his back to the barstaff. Focusing on Rhyeline, and her guest. "Of course, I'm not the only one admiring your companion from afar." Conveniently, his drink is placed on the bar, and he uses it to gesture at the witch watching the pair. Attracting her attention himself, he gives her a smile and a wave of his own.

"I don't know him either," Zack remarks. "It's strange that he'd just talk to you without knowing you. Oh, I did that too. The other day. So I suppose it isn't really so strange. Why is who angry? Oh, right, my father. Well, I didn't tell my brother just like you said. That I'd been back for a while but hadn't contacted him. But I told my father. I suppose I should have realized I wasn't supposed to tell him either. It makes sense now. But I told him and now he's mad. He told me I'm not allowed to take my brother to the sweet shop." His face falls after he says this, and he stares at the table again, frowning. Then he looks up at the man again. "What do you mean? Who's admiring who? Oh, her? She's here to make sure Rhyeline is safe, so don't do any experimental magic. Why did you order rocks?"

Rhyeline's blush deepens a touch at Tiberius' relaxed charm. The guard inclines her head in response to Tiberius' smile and wave, but maintains a stern, no-nonsense expression. Standing against the wall with her arms folded, the witch looks as if she were chiselled out of a stone slab. Setting down her empty glass upon the table, Rhyeline peeks back over at Zack. She bites her lower lip as his face falls, but remains silent as Zack looks to Tiberius and speaks.

"Ice, my good man. 'Rocks'. " Tiberius swirls his whiskey around, the ice clinking a little bit. "And I see." His blue eyes light up. Bodyguards. Always a good sign. "Rhyeline, is it? Might I stop being a stranger, and say that it's a great pleasure to meet you and—" He'd tip his hat, were the rogue wearing one. Instead, an arm crosses his stomach, and he offers a gentle half-bow instead, "That my name is Tiberius Tripe." A pause. A chuckle, and then to Zack. "And to you, of course." He still lingers a safe distance away, though.

"Ice is not made of rocks," Zack informs Tiberius. "It's made of water after it's been frozen. It's sort of like snow, but harder. I've seen a lot of ice and snow the past few weeks, so I should know." He stares at the man. "Your name is Tiberius Tripe to me too?" he asks. "What's it to everyone who's not me and Rhyeline?" He's forgotten to give his own name during an introduction again. He looks to Rhyeline instead. "How come you're not saying anything anymore?"

Rhyeline hesitates, peeking over at Tiberius with a touch of quiet caution in her dark gaze. Her blush deepens further when Zack points out how quiet she has gotten. With a little shake of her head, the girl looks to Tiberius and murmurs, "Pleased to meet you… My name is- is Rhyeline Diderot…" If the Leaky Cauldron were any more crowded, her voice never would have carried. But she speaks, almost as if to prove to Zack that she hasn't gone quiet after all. She brings her glass to her lips, to hide behind- but finds it empty. Lowering her gaze, she sets it down on the table and pushes it away a bit. Her cheeks burn with warmth.

Tiberius wanders closer at long last, spotting an excellent excuse to advance. Her glass is gently captures in one hand, and taken from the table. "Very astute. Some purists actually insist on using actual rock to cool their whiskey, as they believe water taints the flavour." Tiberius speaks with a knowledge of the liqour. A smile for Rhyeline, as he gestures with her glass. "May I find you a refill, Miss Diderot?" The name sounds so wonderfully familiar. But surely not this slender little silken morsel.

Zack smiles at her, delighted. "Oh good," he says, "you are still saying things. Do you want another glass of wine to hide behind? I can get one for you." He starts to reach into his robes for his wand, telling the guard, "I'm not going to do any unstable magic! This spell is perfectly safe! Actually," he adds to Rhyeline, "maybe you'd better get one from the bar instead. I don't want to give Helga the wrong idea." He turns in his chair towards Tiberius as the man approaches, not seeming to hear what he says about rocks. He does, however, hear him offer her a refill, so he says, "Can you do that thing where you shout across the room to place your order? I don't like shouting. Also, don't order any rocks, I don't think she wants those. Or ice. Just wine. Mulled wine. Or do you have wine with ice?"

Rhyeline parts her lips to speak when he takes her glass, but no words come. And when Zack tells him what she had been drinking, there is no longer a need for her to summon her voice, and so she remains silent. The guard shifts when Tiberius draws close and fixes him with a look that sends him a clear warning. In contrast, Zack doesn't seem to be of much concern despite the fact that he's sitting right next to her.

"Mulled wine is best served warmed." Tiberius notes. "And I'll be kind enough to walk it over. Any lady who deserves her own bodyguard deserves a watchful eye to prepare her drinks." He notes to the bodyguard, his voice lifting a little. "A lesson you'd do well to learn. Many a witch and wizard have been rendered unemployed by a poison, when they expected a hex." The man chuckles softly, reprimand delivered. And then he returns to the bar, to supervise the refill in person.

"Is it?" Zack asks vaguely, oblivious to the look the guard gives Tiberius. "Well then don't order it with hot rocks. So you're not going to shout out the order then? That's too bad, I was looking forward to that. I like it when people order their drinks loudly and slam their money on the counter. I wish I could do that." He watches with idle interest as Tiberius wanders off to the bar. "Did he just tell off your Helga?" he asks Rhyeline, not keeping his voice down in the slightest. "He seems like a very strange person."

The guard doesn't seem too impressed by Tiberius' reprimand. After all, neither curse nor poison are the main threats she is concerned about at present. Her watchful stare remains unwavering. Rhyeline peeks over at Zack, biting her lower lip. She seems far more cautious and shy than she had when her glass was still half full. Lowering her gaze, she self-consciously tucks a strand of hair behind her ear before peeking after Tiberius. The little one doesn't seem to know what to make of the rogueish gentleman.

The poor, addled boy is considered with a slow shake of his head by Tiberius. Although his mind lingers on the bodyguard, who didn't seem to be overly invested in the silken girls 'safety'. Bizarre. Utterly. And so amazingly interesting. His eyes consider the bodyguard, as he takes the drink and places it down infront of Rhyeline. The movement is almost completely unnoticable to all but the most aware of viewers, but it's exactly what any bodyguard should watch for. And he does it while watching her.

"You're not talking again," Zack remarks absently. "So I will instead. Sometimes it's better that way, since I'm not thrown off by other people's words. It's hard to keep track of them all at once, when there are so many more important things to think about. Like who am I going to find to come to Siberia with me and help me find my lost research? I spoke to the Ministry about them, but the government is always slow about getting things done so we haven't made much progress yet. Oh, Tiberius Tripe is back. Hello, Tiberius. Do you think we should check it for poison? I know the last one was fine, but she probably didn't have a complete stranger get it for her."

Rhyeline watches Zack as he talks to her, and bit by bit, that a small smile finds its way to her lips. Her shyness deepens when Tiberius returns. The girl blinks, looking puzzled when Tiberius moves his hand over her glass, as if sprinkling imaginary fairy dust into her glass. However, her guard is not close enough to catch the 'imaginary' part. To her, it looks as if Tiberius is trying to drug her. Narrowing her eyes dangerously at the rogue, she steps forward and brandishing her wand, she vanishes the glass out of the girl's hands with a silent wave of her wand. Bearing a striking resemblence to an ill-tempered bulldog, she says, "If you try anything clever, /you/ will be responsible for the damages caused to this establishment."

"Ah. So you /do/ care." Tiberius smiles warmly at the guard. Provocation is one of his favourite games. He doesn't make for his wand, or look even remotely suprised. "Excuse me. Please note that the tip of my wand never graces the beautiful young lady." It's reached for slowly, and pointed at the bar. "Accio Wine" The spell is said, so that the witch might not misinterpret him. "Free of any imaginary sprinkles." A glance is given to Rhyeline, almost apologetic, but still with that same charming twinkle. "Excuse me, Miss Diderot," He seems quite familiar at pronouncing it. "But I despise lazy security personnel. And I could not allow that to carry on around someone who, I suspect, is very dear to an old friend."

Another glass rises from behind the bar, where he had requested it wait. It's a mildly expensive way to make a point. But an amusing one. Slowly, it floats towards Rhyeline, with the intention of settling down in place of the now missing wine.

All of a sudden Zack finds the guard waving her wand about, and he almost falls out of his chair in surprise. His eyes dart between each of the other three - he seems unsure of what to do. "I'm very good at causing damage to establishments," he decides to inform them all. "I once had a secret laboratory, but I sent half of it to Russia, and I don't know where the other half is. I like this place, so I won't try that here. I want it to stay in one piece. Oh, should I have my wand out too?" He belatedly pulls his wand out after noticing that Tiberius is in the process of summoning some wine. "Am I supposed to engage him in a duel?" he asks, peering around at the others. "I really don't know the proper protocol for all this."

Rhyeline peeks up at her guard with profound caution when the new glass of mulled wine settles before her. However, the little one is soon distracted by Zack's description of his secret lab. "No, it- it's alright… No duel…" she murmurs in a rather quiet tone.

After studying Tiberius for a time, Helga folds her arms and nods to the girl, indicating that it is safe enough to accept the drink. However, she will be keeping a sharp eye on Tiberius for the rest of their encounter. Having caught her guard's nod out of the corner of her eye, Rhyeline pulls the glass of wine closer to warm her hands against its sides. The fact that she is dear to an old friend of his draws a rather curious look from the little one. "…I am?"

Very, very addled. Tiberius' wand is away as quickly as it was out. As promised, never in the vagueist direction of Rhyeline. "No duel - But I can hardly imagine that this would be Dill's work. He'd never hire such a gormless wonder to protect his kin. May I?" He gestures at their table, offering to join them. Then, there is a pause, before he adds. "Dill being Dillorous Diderot, an author of no small repute and occasional friend of mine." One of few. In their industry, Friends and friendships don't last long.

"No?" Zack asks, blinking at Rhyeline. "Then what was the point of getting them out?" He frowns at his wand and puts it away again, and after he has done so he looks up at Tiberius as if surprised to see him still standing there. "I'm not gormless," he says. "I'm quite brilliant. One of the smartest students Hogwarts has ever seen. That's what my brother tells me. He's ten and has never been, of course, so I don't know that he can be considered an authority. And I'm not protecting anyone either." He seems to have missed that Tiberius was talking about Helga entirely. "May you what?"

A subtle furrow appears between Rhyeline's brows when Tiberius continues to insult her guards. Although the little one seems a bit shy of Helga, this is a bit much. However, she can't help but smile at Zack's protest. At the mention of the famous author, Dillorous Diderot, the girl blinks, looking rather surprised. "He's my father…" While her slender, deft hands are much like his- accustomed only to the touch of parchment and pens, her dark gaze shines with a naive innocence- the polar opposite of his world-weary cynicism.

No answer. Well, Zack's question doesn't count. Tiberius assumes that's alright. And he sits, with a smile for Rhyeline. "Ah. And there it is." He seems to have let up on the guard, at long last. "So now I know who you are. Would be that I were fortunate enough to have met you earlier." A chuckle. "I'll have to tell him that I finally met you, when I see him next - By the way, you're looking a little pale. Beautiful, though. Full of life, but shy?" His meeting with Dillorous still plays on his mind, while he talks to his daughter.

"He's not talking to me," Zack informs Rhyeline. "I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because I offered to duel with him. I've heard that some men get very upset when they feel threatened, so it might be a defensive tactic. Only I'm not exactly sure how it's supposed to work. Is he afraid to speak or does he think not speaking will frighten me? Oh, or maybe it's because he thinks I'm gormless. Or maybe he's the gormless one. Yes, that makes more sense. He didn't know that rocks weren't made of ice. Glacier's don't count. But he's talking to you without any issue. No, I'm afraid I'm just as confused as before."

Rhyeline brings her glass of mulled wine to her lips at last, hiding behind it from Tiberius' comments. The fragile creature blushes deep as she watches him. She doesn't quite seem to know what to say. As unsettling as Tiberius' roguish charm is, Zack's absent-minded prattling is disarming. Peeking over at him as he speaks to her, the little one seems almost in enchanted by his chatter. Her dark gaze warms and after a moment, she peeks back over at Tiberius to murmur, "I hope you- you will send my regards to my father when- when you see him next…"

Tiberius seems to be struggling with Zack. The man won't stop talking. Fresh from a stay at St. Mungos? Or has this been what's happening to the world while he dwelt beneath it. "I assure you, I'm not offended, threatened or frightened." He reassures, "I am simply prioritising - My amazement at discovering that a dear friend has been hiding a daughter right under my nose." Dear friend might be going a bit far. "I will, Rhyeline. You do look awfully sombre, though." Ignorance is bliss.

Zack, quite unaware of Tiberius's misgivings about him, is about to go on when the man finally speaks to him. "What's that?" he asks, caught off guard. "Oh, you're not? Well, I was only guessing. No, not guessing. What's the word? Postulating? Yes, postulating. I think." He does think, for a second or two, before continuing. "Hmm? How can he hide her under your nose? She's not that small and your nose isn't that large. Maybe you're frightening her," he offers helpfully when the man remarks on Rhyeline's sombreness. "Who calls another person pale, beautiful, and full of life? Or is that a regular thing people do? I'm not an expert or anything though, so I don't really know. Maybe I should write it down…" He starts patting his robes in search of parchment and quill.

"Forgive me… I- I'm just-" Rhyeline pauses when Zack speaks, and starts to rummage for a bit of parchment. That little smile returns to her lips as she takes a small sip of mulled wine. Peeking up at Tiberius, she murmurs, "I've met very few of my father's friends…"

"It's definitely not a regular thing." Tiberius notes to Zack. "It requires a few key criteria to be met. Firstly, one has to be speaking to a beautiful, pale person, who looks like she has much to say and much more on her mind. Secondly, one has to be able to phrase it with such sincerity that whether they mean it is beyond a doubt, otherwise it's nothing more than meaningless flattery." He's playing. The delight in his eyes when he returns to Rhyeline betrays that. There is some fun to Zack after all. "Your father is a difficult man to make friends with, Rhyeline. Intimidating with his myriad interests, frequent vacations." A pause. He can only imagine what it must have been like to be Dill's daughter. He wouldn't say that though. At least, not here.

"It just seems a bit pointless," Zack says vaguely, frowning as he continues to search his robes. "Anyone can see that she's pale and beautiful, so what's the point of bringing it up? Maybe if someone was blind and you had to explain it to them, or if it was really dark, but then everyone would be pale. Or would no one be pale? Oh, here we are." He pulls out some tattered parchment and a ragged-looking quill and sets the former on the table. "What was I going to write down again? Oh, you say it's not regular after all? Well, I don't need this then." Still, he feels more comfortable having the parchment on the table, so he leaves it there and sets the quill down on top of it.

Rhyeline hides behind her glass of mulled wine, taking longer sips than she ought. The shy creature's cheeks burn with warmth as she peeks from one to the other. Her hands tighten more and more around the glass. And it's rather hard to say which one of them is making it worse. When Tiberius addresses her once more at last, the girl can do little more than offer a small nod.

"That's why it's said," Tiberius shakes his head. "Women don't hear it often, Zack. Many times men are so busy with their own concerns and machinations that we can forget, when a truly beautiful creature walks into our lives, to appreciate them at face value." He speaks, while watching Rhyeline. Her reactions. "Not to say it affects them as a whole. A person is far more than their physical appearance. But to the fairer sex, it matters. And for Rhyeline," Tiberius smiles. "I wouldn't have her ever questioning her countenance. And if I know her father well enough, it hides a mind the likes of which the wizarding world might never see again."

Zack stares at Tiberius, baffled by what he's hearing. "I've never said something like that to a woman," he says. "And I don't think I ever will. It sounds silly. What's wrong with her mind?" He peers at the girl as if expecting to see her mind doing something strange. "I had a cat," he says all of a sudden. "When I was younger, I mean. It was a truly beautiful creature. It didn't walk into my life, though. I picked it up. I'm getting a new cat soon. I mean a kitten. Once I have a place to live. I mean a real place. One that's appropriate for a cat. Or a kitten. I'll never forget the old one though - the truly beautiful one - even though I have a lot of work to do."

Rhyeline gazes over the brim of her glass at Tiberius with such profound shyness. The caution seems to have faded- but the girl seems quite overwhelmed by his indirect compliments. Her guard isn't even blinking a she watches Tiberius, making sure he doesn't step out of line for even a second. The random meniton of a cat draws the little mouse's attention. Bit by bit, she lowers her glass.

"Nothing at all." Tiberius answers simply. He smiles at Rhyeline, noticing her attention. He beckons to her obviously, over the table. "I've stopped now. Come, Rhyeline. You can talk. We're both here to listen, after all." Not entirely true. Zack talks an awful lot.

Zack doesn't notice any of it, having just started a crude drawing of a cat on his piece of parchment. "You've stopped what?" he asks, assuming the man was talking to him. He looks up and seems surprised to find the two of them looking at each other. "We are? Actually, I'm not. I need to go. I have to figure out a way to get my father to let me talk to my brother. Bye." He walks off, and returns ten seconds later to collect his parchment and quill.

Rhyeline peeks over at Tiberius, but Zack is indeed still talking and the girl seems content to remain silent as he does. When Zack simply gets up and leaves, Rhyeline bites her lower lip. She brightens a bit when he returns. "It was nice to see you, Zack…" she murmurs.

"Faretheewell, Zack." Tiberius offers the mildly insane man, as he goes to leave. In his wake, though, Tiberius stares at the slight young woman. Intelligent blue, slowly picking apart those rich brown ones. He's prying her apart for secrets and mysteries, but not with his mind, or even his voice. Silence is his tool.

Zack collects his items and stuffs them back into his robes. "What's that?" he asks, glancing up at Rhyeline. "Oh, yes. It was nice to see you too. Oh, and thanks for the advice about my brother. It was really helpful." He starts to leave again, but pauses at Tiberius's words. "Goodbye," he says simply. "Have you considered not being so odd?" Then he's off, for good this time.

Rhyeline watches Zack head off in silence before peeking with quiet caution over at Tiberius. She grows perfectly still under that rather intent stare. She watches him like a mouse in a mountain lion's shadow.

"I won't bite." Tiberius finally breaks the silence. "I'm merely fascinated." And then he resumes the look. He doesn't feel the need to hide behind a hand, behind a glass… Sitting just so, his eyes unwavering, hands lightly pressed into the table.

Rhyeline stares transfixed up at him. Her guard watches Zack with far greater suspicion than the innocent creature she is paid to guard. A raucous bout of laughter from the bar startles the little one. Biting her lower lip, she realizes that the dinner crowd has started to filter into the Leaky Cauldron. "Forgive me, I- I should… I should be going…" she murmurs as she peeks back up at Tiberius. Her cheeks are still as warm as ever.

Tiberius nods slowly. The noise hasn't crept up on him so well. "You're forgiven, Rhyeline. I'll not hold it against you. But surely, you'd allow me to walk you home?" Although she's like to apparate, it doesn't change the sentiment he offers. "I'd normally love to claim chivalry, protecting you from the dangers of the evening, but your Witch has that covered. I'd just like to enjoy your company a moment longer." His offer comes almost inexplicably to him.

Rhyeline lowers her gaze. It takes her a moment to summon her voice once more. Peeking up with such a vulnerable look of shyness, she murmurs, "I am expected at Berylwood… in St. John's Wood. I- I apparate there… but… thank you."

"Expected?" Tiberius savours the word for a few seconds. And all of it's promise. "Ah. Well, scoundrel though I am, I won't take any more of your time, but to offer you a hand up, and wish you an evening worthy of you." And so he does. Getting to his feet, and offering her a hand - Neither calloused nor soft, no stranger to a hard days work but never nose to the grindstone. "Until again, Rhyeline."

Rhyeline slips her hand into his while her guard shifts, none too pleased by Tiberius' proximity to her charge. Wand in hand, she's just waiting for the smallest excuse. The little one accepts his help as more than a token gesture. With his help, she rises with a slow, careful grace. "Thank you…" she murmurs, lowering her gaze as she takes a small step back. Head bowed, she peeks up at him. "It was good to meet you… I- I hope that- that you have a pleasant evening…" Another step back and she dips into a small, but graceful little curtsy. Then, with a glance to her guard, the little one turns and heads for the exit, hands clasped behind her back.

"I will. Be safe, Rhyeline." Tiberius remains standing long after she's gone. What an intriguing girl.

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