(1938-12-27) Untrusting Sorts
Details for Untrusting Sorts
Summary: Shelley, Rhyeline and Zack have a friendly chat under the eyes of Rhyeline's minder. Tiberius arrives, and arouses suspicions.
Date: Friday, December 27, 1938
Location: Leaky Cauldron

The last time Shelley was here, she'd met Jocunda Sykes - and ended up getting incredibly drunk, beating the woman senseless at cards and later (after sobering up) getting a chance to fly her broom, and race her. It was still strangely surreal, but Jo had been refreshingly down to earth.

Today, she was seated at the bar again, picking up her usual glass of firewhiskey. "Yeah, goodluck," she mutters rather obscurely at her glass with a smirk before shooting back its contents. Well used to Shelley's habits, Ethel is waiting nearby to refill it, before wandering off. The first glass never lasts long.

The last time Rhyeline was here, she was confused for a student. Tonight might be no different. Followed by an older witch, easily mistaken for an aunt, or perhaps an older cousin, the little one makes her way over to the fireplace. She reaches out to the flames, warming her fingertips before she peeks over her shoulder at the rest of the tavern. The witch following her scans the room with a sharp, stern gaze, searching for possible threats.

Sure, there are plenty who would mistake the woman trailing Rhyeline for an Aunt or a cousin - then again, most aren't aurors, with a streak of paranoia. Shelley hears the door open, and looks to the side, as if at the person a few seats down from her at the bar. It allows her a glance at the slight girl entering, and the woman a few steps behind her who makes no real effort to hide her purpose here. Cold, stern, searching - that's someone with a job to do. Curious.

She takes a sip from her glass.

Rhyeline notices the woman watching from the bar and pauses. Looking a touch self-conscious, she turns back to the fireplace, tucking a loose wisp of a curl behind her ear before reaching out to the flames once more. Just then, a barwench approaches and exchanges a few quiet words with the girl. Although the barwench glances at the woman standing against the wall a few feet away, she doesn't approach. Instead, she heads back off to the kitchen to fetch the girl's order. After a few moments, Rhyeline peeks back over her shoulder to see if Shelley is still watching.

Shelley has turned back to her drink - though she has shifted in her seat. It's not the little mouse that worries her - it's the minder. She's positioned herself to keep Rhyeline's guard in the corner of her eye, in case of any sudden mischief. Not that her mild concern is enough to keep her from taking another sip of her whiskey, while the fingers of her left hand drum idly on the surface of the bar.

Rhyeline notices how Shelley, sitting across the room at the bar, is seems to be watching her guard out of the corner of her eye. Biting her lower lip, the girl peeks over to her guard, a woman in her mid-thirties with jet black hair and steel grey eyes. She wears simple robes of a functional style favored by many magical law enforcement. Except, hers are of far better quality that what most might be able to afford.

The barwench returns with a cup of cocoa for Rhyeline with a bit of coffee added. Warming her hands against its sides, the little one takes a seat at the table closest to the fireplace.

If Shelley knew her watchfulness was so easily spotted, she'd be quite annoyed with herself. It's for the best, then, that her eyes are /not/ on Rhyeline, and remain unaware of the girl's attention. The guard, in Shelley's occasional glances towards her, didn't seem to be paying too much attention to anyone in specific, which was good - then again, that's the impression you're supposed to aim for.

Zack walks into the Leaky Cauldron from Diagon Alley. He heads straight for the tables nearest the fireplace, and peers at each of them in turn. When he spots Rhyeline sitting at the closest one, he steps up to her and says, "Hello. I decided to check these tables first in case you were here. And I was right, you were." He looks around and spots the guard as well. "Yes, there she is. How many guards do you have? It seems like a lot." He starts counting them all in his head.

Rhyeline closes her eyes to savor her long, slow sip of cocoa. At the sound of Zack's voice, the girl peeks up at him and a warm, though shy smile appears upon her lips. Following his gaze to her guard, she hesitates a moment before giving a small nod. "Yes… I think that- that there are five in total? They take turns… But… mostly it's- it's Helga and Bailey," she murmurs, too softly for someone to hear from across the bar.

She can't hear their conversation - but Fudge was hard to miss. His little eccentric… quirks. Just the way he moved, and peered at the world around him in befuddlement, it was distinct, and it was someone she'd been hoping to find.

Just not, perhaps, somewhere as /public/ as here.

Shelley turns in her seat as her gaze follows Zack across the room, eyebrows raising slightly. So he knows the slight little thing, with her rather formidable minder. Was the girl somehow part of this secret plot? That nervous-seeming thing? She leans back against the bar, watching them both directly now.

Zack doesn't bother keeping his voice down, but he isn't overly loud either. "I've only seen four," he says, unaware that anyone is watching him as he stands near Rhyeline's table. "I know Helga. Helga's the best. She looks like the one no one would want to mess with. And she smiled, remember? When I was at your flat. Or was that a different guard? No, I think it was Helga. Which one's Bailey?"

Rhyeline takes a slow sip of cocoa as she watches Zack from over the brim. She lowers her cup with a small smile to murmur, "I don't think you've met her… but… she's nice." With a small glance over at her guard, she leans close to whisper, "Sometimes she sits and has tea with me… But- that's a secret." Drawing back once more, she adds in her usual murmur, "She's very nice."

Now that Shelley is watching Rhyeline and Zack more directly, the little one's guard witch has fixed the auror consultant with an assessing stare.

Yes - most definitely a guard, it seems. Shelley lifts her glass towards the woman, offering her an amused smirk. She takes another drink of its contents before fixing her attention back on the pair. Who /was/ the girl, and what business did Fudge have with her?

She could go find out but, well. She wants to finish her drink first.

"Oh, that is nice," Zack says. "But it's a secret, so we shouldn't talk about it. You're not supposed to tell people's secrets." His brow furrows as he says this, and he looks quite bothered by something for a moment. "Is she nicer than Helga? Does she smile? Oh, you haven't asked me to sit down at your table yet. Usually you have by now. Does that mean you don't want me to? Who's your guard looking at?"

Rhyeline is used to how he chatters on, even after asking her a question. In fact, she can't help but smile as she watches, taking another slow sip of cocoa. His final question makes her blink and follow her guard's gaze across the Leaky Cauldron. "I… I'm not sure," murmurs the little one, watching Shelley a bit hesitantly.

"Oh, but- but please, join me… Forgive me, I didn't realize that I hadn't invited you yet," adds Rhyeline, peeking up at Zack with a warm little smile.

Shelley finishes off her whiskey, setting down the glass and having a brief word with Ethel. "A round of drinks for me and my new friends," she instructs the woman, before sliding out of her chair, and making her way to Rhyeline's table - where she sits, /un/invited. "So. Zack. Who's your friend?" she asks, resting her elbow on the table, and her head in her hand.

Her left hand. You always want to keep your right hand free. Always.

Zack sits down with a small smile of his own. "Good," he says. "I like sitting with you. And drinking tea. Or cocoa. Especially when it's blue." He looks in the direction of the bar, but he doesn't seem to notice anyone, distracted as he is. Indeed, he only notices Shelley when she actually sits down at their table. "Oh. Hello. I didn't know you were allowed to sit here too. This is Rhyeline. She's my friend. She probably won't talk to you because she's shy, especially because you sat down without asking."

Rhyeline blinks when Shelley sits down and Zack's prediction seems to prove accurate at once. Bringing her cup of cocoa to her lips, Rhyeline watches the woman in silence from over its brim. Her guard seems impassive at her uninvited arrival, but doesn't take her eyes off the woman.

"Miss Rhyeline. A pleasure," Shelley states simply - though seeing the way she practically hunches down in her seat, the smile she offers is gentle - almost apologetic. The girl seems almost frightened - was that just her nature, or was she frightened for some very justified reason? It was sometimes hard to tell.

She returns her attention to Zack. "You both seemed so cozy here - speaking so softly," at least the girl had been, "I couldn't help but wonder if I were missing out on any interesting… /secrets/. Zack."

"You're very nosy," Zack informs Shelley. "I only know one secret about Rhyeline, and I'm not going to tell you. That's why it's a secret. You don't tell other people's secrets." He looks vaguely unsettled again. "This is one of the Aurors I met the other day," he tells Rhyeline. "She's not as violent as the other one, but she also forgot that the world isn't flat."

Rhyeline hesitates before returning Shelley's greeting with a small, polite nod. She bites her lower lip when Zack informs Shelly that he knows a secret. One of her secrets. Her young, dark stare seems almost cautious as she peeks over at Shelley from behind her cup of cocoa. Just then, the drinks that Esther had ordered arrive. A predictable glass of mulled wine is set in front of the little one.

Shelley can't help it - she laughs in response to Zack's comment. "Oh, Zack - I'm /paid/ to be nosy. It's my job. Though - it wasn't the world being /flat/ that I forgot, so much as the fact that the /map/ being flat would affect the circle I drew." She picks up the glass of whiskey that was set in front of her - and for Zack? Blue cocoa, of course. "Cheers," she says simply, taking a drink.

Zack stares at the drink that's set in front of him. "I didn't order this," he informs the person who brought it. "I didn't order anything. Oh, it's blue. Well I'll take it then. I don't know how you knew it was supposed to be blue, though." He picks up the cocoa and sniffs it tentatively, and seems to decide that it will do because he takes a drink. "I'm paid to be nosy too," he says. "But I don't do it around other people. That's rude. Why are you asking me about secrets? That's rude too."

Rhyeline hasn't finished her cup of cocoa, and so doesn't touch the glass of mulled wine for the moment. Silent, the girl studies the woman before her, taking in whatever she might divine in those blue-green eyes.

"Rude is one of my better skills," Shelley replies simply. "/I/ ordered the drinks, Zack. A small social niceity, on account of my table-crashing and rude questions." She watches Zack consideringly for a moment, her gaze flicking to Rhyeline, and then back to Zack again. "Mostly I was wondering if this charming young lady had anything to do with those gentlemen we spoke of. You hadn't mentioned a young lady." For the moment, Shelley seems a mix of curious and amused as she watches the strange man, her head still resting on her hand.

"Speaking of rude!" Shelley straightens up for a moment, offering her right hand over to Rhyeline. "Shelley Prewett."

"No," Zack says. "And you're not supposed to talk about secret things. You're an Auror. You should know that. I shouldn't have to tell you." He glances at Rhyeline. "This must be one of the unpleasant things Aurors have to do. Being rude. I don't see how it helps anyone though." He sips at his cocoa and then frowns at it. "How did you know what drinks to order? It wouldn't have been nice if you got it wrong." He blinks at Shelley's hand. "Don't make any sudden movements in front of her guards. They might think you're unsafe."

From behind her cup of cocoa, Rhyeline's dark gaze flits from Shelley to Zack, a bit apprehensive for her friend. She blinks when Shelley offers her hand. Rather hesitant, she slowly moves to accept it. Her own hand is warm, but quite delicate. Hold too tight and she might break. "Rhyeline Diderot…" she murmurs, pronouncing her last name in a flawless French accent. Her voice is as soft and sweet as one would have expected from the look fo her.

The shake Shelley offers is gentler than she would usually extend, and her smile is warm and reassuring. "Miss Diderot. I apologize if my gruff manner has upset you."

She takes her hand back, picking up her drink and taking a sip from it. "I didn't specify what drinks they should bring, Zack. They already know what I prefer - and I suppose they took a best guess on the rest of you." Her eyes drift to the cocoa before she asks, "…why do you prefer your drinks blue, anyways?"

"I was at a party last year," Zack tells Shelley. "My father made me go because he couldn't. I don't know why we both couldn't have not gone. I saw someone with a blue drink there. It made his breath misty like he was out in the cold. I wanted one too but they wouldn't give me one. If I keep drinking blue drinks, one day one of them will make my breath turn misty too." He is sitting with Rhyeline and Shelley at the table nearest the fireplace, each of them with a drink. His is blue.

Tiberius strides in - The Self-Described Rogue unusually has a crimson ribbon tied around one wrist, but he doesn't seem to notice. At he seems to be taking the same care of it he does of his suit - Pressed, clean, but somehow still casual. He notes all the occupants - Eyes lingering on Rhyeline, before he makes his way to the bar and finds solace in a double of whiskey.

Though still cautious, Rhyeline seems to calm when Shelley offers her gentle apology. She gazes up at Shelley for a moment before noding in silent appreciation. With one final sip from her cup of cocoa, she takes up the glass of mulled wine at last and warms her hands against its sides. She notices Tiberius out of the corner of her eye when he takes a seat at the bar. With a small tilt of her head to the side, she watches him with quiet curiosity.

Shelley gives Zack a disbelieving look, which she shares with Rhyeline. Can you even believe this guy? her gaze silently asks. "I… see," she answers. "You realize- you know what, nevermind." She'd probably just end up with a headache if she even tried to tackle it.

Still keeping an eye on the door, her attention flicks towards it as it opens, and she studies Tiberius briefly, before returning her attention to her table.

"It could be the drink itself that has the breath effect," Zack continues as if Shelley hadn't spoken. "In the same way that a potion has an effect based on the ingredients used. Or it could be a charm that causes the effect. If that's the case then I should ask for all my drinks to be made blue just in case they use the right charm. But I always check if they have any inherently blue drinks whenever I go to a place for the first time." He blinks at Rhyeline. "Who are you looking at?"

Tiberius finally decides to join them, with a smirk for Shelley and her disbelieving look. "I see Zack is still up to his usual tricks." He comments smoothly. "Hello Zack, Beautiful, and stranger." Greeting them all in order. Rhyeline's replaced name is said with such a casual air. It's like a fact.

Rhyeline blinks and looks back over at Zack, caught a bit off guard by his sudden question. She hesitates before parting her lips to answer. But just then, Tiberius arrives and the girl can't help but blush at the casual appelation he uses for her. Peeking up at the man with a profound shyness, she takes a slow, silent sip of mulled wine.

"Well. Persistence is nine tenths of something or other," Shelley answers Zack, before taking another sip of her firewhiskey. She turns her attention to Tiberius as he joins them, greet the man with a simple nod, but nothing else.

"Oh, him," Zack says when the man joins them. "I'm not beautiful. Beautiful is a word used to describe women. I'm not a woman. And I'm not a stranger either. You know my name and I know yours. You're Tiberius." He looks from the man to the Auror and back again. "You should tell Shelley not to make any sudden movements. In case Rhyeline's guard thinks she's poisoning her."

"I think poisoning people is grounds for dismissal from my job," Shelley remarks.

"I /am/ Tiberius." Tiberius laughs in agreement, smiling at Rhyeline for several long seconds, before she turns to Shelley. "I made the mistake of provoking Miss Diderot's guards when we first met. They've never really forgiven me."

Rhyeline lowers her gaze, seeming content to remain silent for the moment. The bit of scarlet around Tiberius' wrist- the ribbon there, catches her notice. Cheeks still warm with her blush, she hesitates a moment before peeking up at Tiberius with a cautious sort of curiosity. Standing against the wall not far away, the girl's guard watches the small gathering with an impassive expression, arms folded across her chest.

"Regale me with the tale. What did you do to set them off?" Shelley asks simply. She finishes off her whiskey - her third - and raises her glass for the serving maid to see, and refill.

"Yes, I know," Zack tells Tiberius. "I just said that." He finishes the remainder of his cocoa and stands abruptly. "I'm leaving now. I have things to do. Secret things. Rhyeline knows." He turns from the table and walks off without saying goodbye, heading back out into Diagon Alley.

"Let's see. Humiliated them for not caring what their charge drank or who prepared it. And when that failed to get a rise, pretended to spike her drink infront of them." Tiberius' Rogueish grin suits the moment perfectly. The man takes a sip of his whiskey, and then swirls it around - His eyes follow Rhyeline to his wrist-accessory, turning only to Zack when he announces he is leaving.

Rhyeline bites her lower lip as her guard narrows her eyes at Tiberius' tale of how he tried to provoke one of her guards. Although she is getting used to Zack's sudden departures, she still seems a bit startled when he does get up and leave without much of a farewell. Lowering her gaze, she tucks a strand of hair behind her ear before peeking up at Tiberius and Shelley. "I… I should be going as well," she murmurs.

Shelley watches Zack move off with a bemused expression. She does have questions to ask him - but not here, not now. Not in public. She'll track him down again. Somehow, she doubted he would ever notice if she put a tracking spell on him.

But then Rhyeline is on her way out, as well. She nods to the girl, adding a simple, "Goodnight, Miss Diderot." Her pronunciation is something less than a perfect French pronunciation.

Towards Tiberius she adds, "I imagine that would do it."

"Foiled again." Tiberius drats with a somewhat dramatic snap of his fingers. "… Well, Rhyeline, I'll be thinking of you. And still trying to find you a suitable present." He waves with his crimson-wrapped hand, gifting her a smile. "And you'll be missed. Until we meet again, hopefully with much more time to spend."

Rhyeline places her hands upon the table's surface and rises with its support. Nodding to them both, Rhyeline peeks over at Tiberius with a particularly profound shyness. His words renew the subtle warmth of her blush. "Good night, Tiberius…" Looking to Shelley, she adds, "It was good to meet you, Ms. Prewett…" And with that far more suitable farewell than what Zack spared time for, Rhyeline turns and heads off, closely followed by her ever present guard.

"She seemed almost as odd as-" Shelley starts in the wake of Rhyeline's departure, before cutting herself off abruptly. "No. That'd be a lie. He's much stranger. Still."

First names. How interesting. Tiberius enjoys another mouthful of whiskey, and offers her a nod of farewell. Turning to Shelley, and chuckling softly. "He is an odd one. But wholly useful. And a /very/ stark background to contrast Miss Diderot against."

"Useful - to what end?" Shelley asks. "He's so… disconnected, to me he seems more of a risk than of use." With her glass refilled by the serving maid, she's back to nursing her new whiskey.

"That's the use, Ms Prewett." Tiberius has picked up on the name, and uses it freely. "I can always rely on Zack to his disconnected self. Especially useful when a certain sociopathic constable is on my case. Or when there's a conversation that I'd love to slip away from quietly." A chuckle. More whiskey is consumed.

"And why, may I ask, is a 'certain sociopathic constable' on your case? Go slipping something into their drink, too?" Shelley asks in a dry tone.

Tiberius chuckles again, a little deeper. "She's convinced I'm some kind of criminal mastermind. But where are my manners;" Tiberius offers his hand to Shelley instead - The one that doesn't hold however little whiskey he has left. "Tiberius Tripe, head of Security with Carrow Investment Services."

"Prewett - as you overheard. Shelley Prewett. I'm with the Auror's office." She shakes the offered hand, adding, "Sounds like the sort of work that can keep a man busy. How many work in Security for Carrow Investments?"

"Enough." Tiberius keeps that sort of thing /very/ close to his chest. "Forgive my secrecy. Investment is a clandestine business at the best of times, and I try to avoid discussing work unless it's required or relevant." The man's smile cracks suddenly when the name is heard, in full. Suddenly, he's /incredibly/ uncomfortable with her presence. "… I should probably make my departure as well." He downs his whiskey, placing the glass on the nearest table.

"Of course. Important investments to protect," Shelley remarks in a dry voice. "Enjoy your evening," she adds a bit vaguely. She'll stay right where she is - possibly enjoy a few more drinks - and then stumble her way home. Thankfully, it isn't far.

"… Sure." Tiberius mururs, looking away. Alis Whittle. The name lingers in his mind. They're not his memories, but they're still /damned/ distasteful. The man looks at his whiskey again, longingly. He'll find somewhere else to get trashed today. And keep her in mind in the future.

Shelley smiles as he moves off - but it's a tight smile, with something shrewder, and sharper in her eyes. Now, what was /that/ about, exactly? Tiberius Tripe, he'd said. With Carrow Investment Services.

Oh, she'd be looking into him. What was /she/ to /him/?

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