(1938-12-29) Unwelcome Questions
Details for Unwelcome Questions
Summary: Shelley drops in to see if she can pry out any further information from her quarry, Zack, now that he has had a chance to sober up. However, she discovers that the flat he passed out in the night before happens to belong to Rhyeline, and she proves to be rather protective of her friend.
Date: Sunday, December 29, 1938
Location: Rhyeline's Flat

Zack is in the kitchen with Rhyeline, who has just made him breakfast and tea for the both of them. Last night he would have come in through the kitchen door, which opens to the back garden, but Zack doesn't remember anything after the Apparated, although he must have had three glasses of water, because there are three empty ones on the kitchen counter. He's still in his blue robes, which are wrinkled from being slept in, and he's barefoot as his shoes are at the bottom of the stairs where he left them before crawling up to fall asleep in the guest room. Now, however, he lets Rhyeline guide him to a chair at the kitchen table. "Okay," he murmurs as he sits down, still a bit sleepy. "Thank you."

He drank the three glasses of water because Shelley sat him down in a chair and stared at him until he did. She can be terribly stubborn like that. But it's not the garden door that the woman knocks at now - it's the proper front door. She stands with a casual slouch, putting her weight on her right foot, arms folded over her chest.

Rhyeline nudges the plate of artistically arranged slices of fresh baguette towards the young wizards. The little one is just about to prepare two cups of tea when a knock at the front door makes her pause. Biting her lower lip with a quiet caution, she looks to Zack. "I… I'll be right back…" Hands clasped behind her back, she makes her way over to the front door. Her guard follows close. Even in her own home, the girl is never out from under the watchful gaze of her minders.

The front door opens, but no more than an inch. Rhyeline peeks out, hidden behind the door. Catching sight of Shelley, her shyness seems to deepen even more. "Good morning…" she murmurs.

"Ah - so /you're/ the friend," Shelley remarks with casual amusement. "I was wondering whose house Zack was crashing at. I hope the unexpected house guest wasn't an unpleasant surprise - couldn't talk him out of going home, and he was insistent he'd apparate here on his own if I didn't take him." She rolls her eyes at the whole mess.
"Is he still passed out?"

Zack smiles up at her vaguely and takes one of the slices and begins to carefully butter it and spread the strawberry preserves over it. Intent on his task, he doesn't notice the knock on the door, but he looks up when Rhyeline speaks. "Okay," he says again, and begins to eat quietly, his eyes on the back door, lost in thought.

"No, he- he's alright. He's… he's eating breakfast," murmurs Rhyeline, still peeking up at Shelley with a quiet caution. However, the door opens enough that the woman can see her face a bit more properly. The little one's cheeks are rather warm.

"He's not feeling too sick, then? That's good. Even those- well, they looked like students, and /they/ had more sense about drinking than he does." Shelley glances past Rhyeline to the guard standing so close behind her, flashing a bright smile. "Top of the morning." She's idly surprised the guards let Rhyeline open her door on her own, but that's none of her business.
"Mind if I come in and ask our boy a few questions? He left us with some unfinished questions at the auror's office, and you know how it is. The work never stops."

Zack finishes his slice of bread, and he's about to reach for another when he pauses and looks around the kitchen. Standing up, he shuffles over to the counter to see if he can go about making the tea himself, but his elbow bumps into one of the glasses and sends it to the floor with a loud crash of shattering glass.

Rhyeline parts her lips to speak, but pauses when she hears the shatter of glass. Scared that something has happened to Zack, the little one turns at once and heads off into the kitchen in search of her friend. Should Shelley move to follow, her guard would not prevent her from entering the flat.

Shelley's eyebrows go up at the sound of the crash, as Rhyeline scuttles away. She stays on the doorstep for a moment, then nudges the door open to step inside, touching her fingers to the brim of an imaginary hat as she smiles at the guard. She finds herself a vantage point where she can see Rhyeline and her quary and just stands there for a moment, the front door left open, watching the pair.
"Glad to see you attained vertical this morning with success, Zack," she remarks.

Zack stands in the kitchen surrounded by shards of broken glass. It didn't land on his bare feet, so he hasn't been cut, but he seems reluctant to move as he frowns down at the floor. He around when Rhyeline walks in. "I broke one of your glasses," he says. "You shouldn't walk in here. It's unsafe. I didn't do it on purpose." He pauses when he sees Shelley across the house. "Oh, I didn't know you were having guests over today." He seems confused by the Auror's remark. "What does that mean?"

Rhyeline remains silent as she draws her wand. With a silent flick, the shards of glass hop off the ground and drift back into place upon the counter to reform a perfect glass. With it safe to walk once more, she draws close to Zack's side and with a cautious peek over at Shelley who has followed as far as the dining room in order to see into the small kitchen tucked into the back of her flat. Without a word, the girl begins to prepare tea- adding a third cup.

"It means you were /veeeeery/ drunk last night, Zack," Shelley remarks dryly. "And you're much too-" strange, "naive for such behavior. It doesn't suit you." He's already compromised enough as it is. She makes her way a little closer to the pair in the kitchen - though she still leaves them a good six feet of space.

"Oh, you're mad at me," Zack says, mistaking Rhyeline's silence for anger. "I should have fixed it myself. I know the spell. I didn't mean to break the glass. It was an accident. I was going to make the tea because you were busy at the door." He stands next to her, not sure of what he's supposed to do to make things right. He glances over at Shelley, unsettled by her words. "I know. I didn't like it. I didn't know that would happen."

Rhyeline pauses to look up at Zack. She shifts closer and shakes her head. "Not angry with you," she murmurs with a soft reassuring smile. Having poured the first cup of tea, she presses it into Zack's hands. "Here. This will make you feel a bit better, I hope." The little one peeks over at Shelley before turning to pour a second cup of tea in silence. Then, taking it in both hands, she offers it to Shelley with a quiet, shy respect.

"Thank you," Shelley says to Rhyeline in a warm, soft voice, accompanied by a brief smile. See? She can soften her demeanor sometimes. She leans back against a wall, taking a sip of the tea and remarking, "Not bad." Her attention returns to Zack as she adds, "Glad you realize that. You're…" she waggles one hand vaguely, "…unaware enough as you are. Stick to tea."

"Okay, good," Zack says with a small smile. He takes the tea with both hands and sips from it, peering over the rim of the cup at the girl. The tea does make him feel better, and he turns his eyes to Shelley. "I'm not unaware. I'm aware of a lot of things. We're standing in the kitchen and drinking tea. Oh, and there's bread over there." Remembering this, he shuffles back over to the kitchen table and sits down.

Rhyeline hesitates, peeking up at Shelley like a cautious little kitten before she returns the woman's brief smile with a small one of her own. Without a word, she goes and pours herself a cup of tea. Once she has taken a first, small sip, she looks to Zack and can't seem to help but smile a bit more.

Shelley can't help but letter out a small snort of amusement. "Back me up here, Miss Diderot. He may be aware of the /facts/, it's just…" She extends one finger in thought. "It's the appropriate interpretation of those facts where you fall short, I do believe." It's amusing to watch, actually.

Rhyeline glances at Shelley for a moment before looking to Zack. "Often you seem lost in your own thoughts, occupied with things that matter more to you. And so… simple… more- more trivial things have… escaped your notice…"

Zack sets his tea on the table and starts working on buttering himself another slice of bread. As it's already midmorning and this is the first time he's eaten today, he's still a bit hungry. He doesn't look round as he responds to Shelley, saying, "I can interpret facts. I'm very good at it. That's how I make new spells. I have to research the theory first." He looks round at Rhyeline, however, and his brow furrows. "Hmm? Like what?"

"Not quite realizing why your father might have been upset?" suggests Rhyeline in a rather quiet tone. Warming her hands against the sides of her teacup, she makes her way over to sit at the small kitchen table.

"Don't you find it particularly charming how unaware he is of how unaware he is?" Shelley remarks to Rhyeline, amusement quirking her lips. "That sounds like quite an excellent example."

"Oh," Zack says, frowning. "Yes, but I didn't have the facts. Not until you told me. I don't have a magic book of facts that tells me everything." He turns his attention back to his slice of bread, which he finishes buttering and then starts to eat. "That sentence doesn't make any sense. What's charming?"

Rhyeline doesn't respond to Shelley's remark of how charming Zack is, but from the quiet warmth in her eyes when she looks at the wizard, it's easy to see how charmed the litle mouse is. "I understood why… even though I haven't even met him… it's… it's about the small details, and learning what they mean… and then- extrapolating… applying that understanding to other situations…"

"You," Shelley replies flatly, amusement in her voice. "But really, as long as you're able to extrapolate that drinking is a very, /very/ bad idea for you… I'll be happy. For now."

"Me?" Zack asks, confused. "I don't understand." He gives a small, involuntary shudder when Shelley mentions drinking. "I know that. I don't drink alcohol. No one told me the blue drinks were full of it. I just wanted the frost breath. It sounds like you're talking about spells," he says to Rhyeline. "But you can't do that with people. They're different. Every situation is unique."

"That's true… but there are patterns in every aspect of reality… even in people, although it's much harder to extrapolate, much less precise…" murmurs Rhyeline. There is a quiet empathy in her eyes. Perhaps one reason Rhyeline seems to understand him so well is his confusion resonates with her own naivete.

Glancing to Shelley, she hesitates a moment before adding, "Thank you for taking care of him… making sure he got here alright."

"He's part of a case, so - I'd say that, officially, it's my job," Shelley responds with dry amusement. "But you're welcome, regardless." Her attention returns to Zack. "You have to form some generalities. Just about any person in the world, if I walk up to them and accuse them of being a slovenly, self-absorbed selfish git, they'd get offended. I don't need to know them to reach that conclusion."

"Yes," Zack says. "It's not precise. I don't have time to think about patterns in people. I only care about patterns in magical theory. Those are the important ones." He finishes his bread and drinks some more tea, frowning at Shelley's words. "I don't have to do anything. Except find my notes. And they can't be offended if it's true. You're rude and nosy. That's not offensive. It's a fact. It's part of your job. You said it."

"To you it- it is trivial… but… those details matter very much to other people… and- and that's what she meant," murmurs Rhyeline gently before bringing her cup of tea to her lips. Peeking over at Shelley, she watches the auror for a moment before, with a puzzled furrow of her brow, she murmurs, "Why is- is Zack's lost research part of- of an auror's case?"

"He's arroused our curiousity," Shelley remarks. And, not being able to go out on real jobs herself, she's been indulged with a little leeway in this matter. "We're just taking a look - as a precaution. I had a few more questions for Zack as a matter of fact - when you think you've put yourself back together sufficiently, Mr. Fudge." Yes - she calls him that just to annoy him. No, it's probably not a terribly professional reason.

"Oh," Zack says to Rhyeline. "Well she should have just said that then. It would have been much easier." He drinks his tea and blinks at the bottom of the cup, surprised that have finished it already. Setting it down on the table, he looks around in alarm. "Oh, she's calling me Mr Fudge. I wish people wouldn't do that. It's confusing. My name is Zack. I can't put myself together because I'm all in one piece. I haven't splinched myself. You Apparated us here so I wouldn't."

The subtle furrow between Rhyeline's brows deepens as she watches Shelley. "I hope you will take care not to harrass him… you have seen for yourself how- how there are things he does not consider important to understand. However. The nature of his research is not at all tied to dark magic… there is no need for an /auror/ to take interest…"

"Apparating whole buildings off could be put to any number of nefarious purposes, Miss Diderot. We are very interested in learning exactly who is payrolling such research. Once we have ascertained that, we can determine if the matter deserves any further attention," Shelley explains simply. She smiles before adding, "And didn't he tell you? I may not remember that the world is round - but I'm not the violent one."

Zack looks between them. "I'm sitting right here," he says. "You don't have to talk like I'm not in the room. They were harrassing me at the Ministry. They made me tell them secrets about my old job. The one I had before I met you. You're not supposed to tell secrets to other people, but they said I should because they're Aurors." He gives his head a single nod. "Yes, she's not the violent one. And she's not the scared one either. I didn't know Aurors were allowed to be scared."

Rhyeline offers Zack an apologetic nod when he asks them not to refer to him in third person. "Unless there is an official investigation, which in any case would not involve aurors unless it were clear that dark wizards were involved, they have no right to demand your secrets…" murmurs Rhyeline in a rather quiet tone before peeking over at Shelley.

"/Demand/ is such a /harsh/ word, Miss Diderot!" Shelley protests with a laugh. She's enjoying this. A woman has to enjoy her work, right? "And there is an open case." Whether it's /officially/ an auror case, weeeeeell… There were enough questions for a little leeway there.

"I don't do research for Dark wizards," Zack says with a frown. "I'm not a Dark wizard. I went to their department to ask for help finding my research, but they wanted to know everything about my old job. I'm not supposed to talk about that. I have a new job now. I just have to find my notes to return them to my old team. They're not happy it's taking so long."

Rhyeline's quiet, dark gaze is calm and unwavering as she murmurs, "If the regular MLE officials in charge of your case feel it is necessary to ask further questions, they are well within their right… but you have the right to maintain your professional integrity by keeping client information confidential… Aurors are not supposed to be worried about lost research or accidents like yours… Graham offered to help, but- that is because he is my brother, and you are my friend…" She shifts her gaze to Shelley, the subtle furrow returning between her brows. "Please take care not to harrass my friend…"

"Graham's your-" Shelley asks in puzzled surprise, looking around the flat in confusion - looking for some image of Rhyeline with a /husband/. Graham's a Cohen, and she's a Diderot. If she'd gotten married, well, that would explain the difference. "Huh," she remarks, before shrugging it off. You learn something new.
"And don't worry. I don't think harrassment'll be necessary. Zack's such an accomodating sort, after all. And no offense meant, but giving your pecular… inability to form generalities, I don't expect you would know /who/ you were working for, or what purpose they had in mind for your research."
She takes another sip of her tea. "Therefore, it would be extremely helpful if you could detail how you were paid, and how your opperating expenses were paid, as well."

"Graham Cohen? Graham's your-" Shelley asks in puzzled surprise, looking around the flat in confusion - looking for some image of Rhyeline with a /husband/. Graham's a Cohen, and she's a Diderot. If she'd gotten married, well, that would explain the difference. "Huh," she remarks, before shrugging it off. You learn something new.
"And don't worry. I don't think harrassment'll be necessary. Zack's such an accomodating sort, after all. And no offense meant, but giving your pecular… inability to form generalities, I don't expect you would know /who/ you were working for, or what purpose they had in mind for your research."
She takes another sip of her tea. "Therefore, it would be extremely helpful if you could detail how you were paid, and how your opperating expenses were paid, as well."

"Yes," Zack says. "Take care not to harrass me. I don't like being harrassed. I might have to hex you." But he frowns again. "I thought Graham wanted to help me because he's an Auror and Aurors help people. That's why I went to ask the other Aurors. Was I not supposed to?" He seems concerned that he's broken the rules. "Yes, I am accomodating. I'm very nice. I know who I was working for. I already told you. I just don't know who he was working for. I was paid in Galleons. They were handed to me by Giles."

"Yes… Graham and I- we have adopted each other," murmurs Rhyeline. The little one bites her lower lip when Zack threatens to hex an /auror/. Her hands tighten around her cup of tea. This is precisely the sort of trouble she'd been worried about. "There… you see?" she murmurs peeking over at Shelley. "There shouldn't be- be any more need to- to question him… I… I hope you see that… that more will only lead to trouble."

Shelley seems completely unbothered by the threat of hexing. She simply finishes her tea, and sets the glass down. "You do not even know the man's last name, Zack. I would argue that no - you do not know who you were working for." She lets out a sigh before adding, "I was afraid it'd be in galleons." Bank transfers and the like would simply be too easy, wouldn't it?

"Yes," Zack says. "There's no need to question me. I'm not a Dark wizard. And I don't want to have to give you trouble." He gives Shelley a strange look. "Why are you afraid of Galleons? They're not scary. They're gold. Did you expect him to pay me in Sickles? That wouldn't be enough. I don't like last names. I do know it. I asked my father and he told me."

"I think that you would be better served to look through Ministry records…" murmurs Rhyeline. Files. Yes, that is what she's suggesting. Lowering her gaze, she takes a long, slow sip of tea.

Shelley stares at Zack. Then she puts her hand over her face for a ten count, then she simply looks at Rhyeline with a disbelieving look on her face. How is this guy even for /real/?
She returns her attention to Zack.
"And what, may I ask, is Giles' last name?" See how patient, and kind, and gentle, and understanding she's being? She deserves a God damned medal.

Zack takes the opportune silence to butter himself another slice of bread. "No," he says. "You may not ask. I'm not supposed to talk about him. It's part of the job. Except-" He looks uncertain all of a sudden. "Except I don't work there anymore, so it's not part of the job." He looks to Rhyeline as if for help.

Rhyeline keeps her gaze lowered until Zack looks to her for help. Looking up at Zack, she murmurs in a rather quiet tone, "If you are entrusted with secrets, you should keep them. Only an official order from the Ministry might require you to divulge information… and in that case, I'm sure that my suitor, Cassius Malfoy, could advise us of what would be appropriate." Having spoken, she looks to Shelley at last. Though she is such a delicate, fragile little thing, she watches the auror with a quiet, unwavering strength.

Oh of all the- "Mister Fudge." It's pure instinct that prompts that appelation this time - not her mischievous desire to tease. She corrects herself. "/Zack/. You have been very cooperative so far, and it has been deeply appreciated. I cannot /compell/ you to tell me, but it would help us put this whole mess behind us and reassure quite a few minds if you could - please - tell me Giles' last name. I urge you to consider what possible reason they would have to conceal their identities and activities from aurors if they are /not/ up to illicit activities."

"Yes," Zack says to Rhyeline. "Exactly. I was entrusted with secrets. So I'll keep them." He looks quite distressed though, torn between obeying the Ministry's request and doing what he was told by his former employer. His brow furrows when Shelley calls him Mister Fudge again, but he gives a satisfied nod when she corrects herself. "I don't know," he says. "They didn't conceal it. They just told me not to give details about the job." He looks between Rhyeline and Shelley again and then picks up his empty teacup with both hands and holds it in front of his face, hiding in the way his friend taught him.

Rhyeline does not seem pleased when Shelley continues to ply Zack with questions. Setting down her cup of tea, she rises to her full, diminutive height with a slow, careful grace. "You have what answers you are going to receive this morning. Thank you for taking care of my friend last night. And. For checking on him this morning. But. If you are going to harass him with questions, I must ask that you leave my flat…" She lifts her chin, watching Shelley with an unobtrusive, but elegant poise.

There's a gleam of amusement along with a hint of annoyance in Shelley's eyes as the little mouse rises to Zack's defense - but the girl is Cohen's sister, it seems, and antagonizing her too much- well. That may be a headache she doesn't need. "Of course. My apologies. It's quite right of you to look out for a friend's best interest." She approaches Rhyeline with a smile, meant to cover for the annoyance she feels over /this/ pair finding their backbone, when the answer to the mystery may infact be at hand. But, well - politics. She offers her empty teacup over to the girl. "The tea was lovely."

Zack, finding the whole situation uncomfortable, hunches his shoulders and sinks down in his seat a bit. Still holding his empty teacup, he peers into it as if he's found something very interesting in the bottom. He keeps quiet and avoids looking at either of them, his bare feet curled together underneath his chair.

Rhyeline accepts the teacup with a small nod. "You are quite welcome…" she murmurs, keeping her steady, dark gaze fixed upon the auror before her. Behind the woman, the little one's guard shifts, waiting for the auror to comply with the girl's request.

"And you have a lovely home." See? Shelley knows how to be polite. When she's forced to.
She makes her way over to Zack, adding, "Now this harrassment I don't think she'll mind overmuch - stick to water, juice, milk, and tea," she counts off each of the drinks on her fingers. "Please. Just the thought of you on coffee…" She shudders at the thought, pats Zack on the shoulder, and starts towards the door. "Glad to see you're feeling alright this morning!" she adds in a bright voice, without glancing back at the pair.

Zack lifts his head to watch Shelley approach out of the corner of his eye, tensing up as she gets close. He flinches when she pats him on the shoulder, but relaxes when that's all she does. "I don't like coffee," he says, setting his teacup back on the table. "It tastes bad. And it smells worse. I like tea the most." He watches her nervously and then glances to Rhyeline, uncertain.

The subtle furrow deepens between Rhyeline's brows when Shelley draws so close to her friend and even touches him which causes him to flinch. Had the auror not withdrawn at once, the girl might have spoken up. Instead, she watches Shelley in silence and only when she is about to dissappear from sight does she respond, "Good day, Miss Prewett…" Once the front door has open and shut securely (her guard makes sure it was), Rhyeline looks to Zack. Biting her lower lip, she hesitates a moment before murmuring, "Are… are you alright?"

Zack watches Shelley leave, though he seems hesitant to look directly at her. He glances up at Rhyeline after the Auror has gone and nods his head once. "No," he says, seeming rather distressed. "I'm not all right. I didn't know what she was going to do. I thought she might want to attack me. I said I'd hex her but I wouldn't really. I wouldn't hex an Auror. You don't do that. I shouldn't have gone to them for help. I don't know how to answer all their questions. I can't answer them and keep my promise. I don't even know all the answers."

"You don't need to answer them…" murmurs Rhyeline gently. Under the watchful gaze of her guard who returns from the foyer, the little one draws closer to the young wizard. She kneels at his side, and tentatively, she places a gentle hand upon his arm. "It's good that you wouldn't really hex her… but… if you are ever in trouble, ask for Graham. My brother will make sure you're alright… and… if they persist, please… ask for Cassius… my suitor. He is a barrister and knows the law better than anyone. And he knows you are my friend. He'll take good care of you."

"I'm supposed to cooperate with the Ministry," Zack says, frowning at the teacup. Then he notices Rhyeline kneeling next to him, and he looks at the hand she has on his arm, puzzled. "Oh, yes. Graham. I should have gone to him instead. He said he'd help me look. And you like him too, so he must be nice. Oh, does Cassius know me? I haven't met him before. I've saw him at a party, though. I think."

"I've told him about you…" murmurs Rhyeline with a small nod. "I let him know when you came to stay here…" Hesitating, the girl bites her lower lip and peeks up at him with quiet concern. "You are within your rights to keep secrets. She should have respected your wishes when you first told her no." She brushes the backs of her knuckles gently down his arm, hoping she might soothe him.

"Oh," Zack says. "Yes, you did. I remember you told me you told him." He watches her brush her knuckles against his arm, but he seems baffled by the gesture. "Okay, good. I'll keep my secrets. That seems like the right thing to do. She was just doing her job, though. She's supposed to be nosy. She wasn't rude this time. But still nosy."

"If she starts to harass you, just politely, but firmly as her to stop. Be clear. And… also, you could- I'm sure that if you asked your father, he would help…" murmurs Rhyeline. Biting her lower lip, she tilts her head to the side as she watches him. She perceives the confusion in his eyes, but also the troubled look that remains. Without a word, she hugs him gently around his middle and murmurs, "Don't worry, Zack… you've done nothing wrong. And she cannot hurt you."

"Okay, yes," Zack says with a small frown. "I'll tell her to stop. I'll tell all of them to stop. Oh, my father. Yes, he could help. He should talk to my team. And tell them to stop bothering me. Then they'll have to leave me alone." He pauses, blinking at her. "Oh, you're hugging me. That means you care about me and want me to feel better." He smiles, but since he isn't sure exactly what he's supposed to do, he just sits still.

Rhyeline can't help but smile as she peeks up at him. Her young, dark gaze shines with a quiet, charmed warmth. For a moment her embrace tightens before she relaxes and draws back a bit. "Yes… I want you to feel better… but… what do you mean? Your team? Are… are they bothering you as- as well?" She tilts her head to the side with quiet concern.

Zack perhaps feels that he should do something, because he reaches out and gives her an awkward pat on the shoulder as she withdraws. "My team?" he says. "Oh, yes. One of them came to talk to me. They want me to get my lost research back to them soon. They say it belongs to them since I did it while I was working for them. They seemed angry with me. I think it's because I didn't tell them I was back, but I didn't know how to find them."

Rhyeline grins at the awkward pat upon her delicate shoulder. Focusing on him once more, she murmurs with quiet concern, "I see… well… if you ever feel nervous of /them/, you should tell your father… you shouldn't have to ever be scared."

Zack nods his head once. "Yes, I'll tell him," he says. "He might help since he's talking to me again. And he's happy that I'm wearing nice robes without having to be told."

The two talk for a while longer under the watchful gaze of the girl's guard, but soon the girl must head the call of her work. Zack is just as much of a workaholic and returns to his research as well.

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