(1939-01-31) Wolves in Strange Places
Details for Wolves in Strange Places
Date: 31 January, 1939
Location: Diagon Alley

Outside in the street, just a little way down from Sweet Temptations, Kyle and Kahren stand in the cold evening air, talking. They each have a cup of cocoa in their hands, though Kyle's is empty. Most of the passersby are giving the two a wide berth, and the ones who recognize Kyle for what he is scowl or look afraid or turn their eyes and quicken their pace.

It's the end of the day, and the end of the week, for Cassiel. With a weekend trip to prepare for, he's chosen to eschew the pub for the night. He intends to make good on his promise to be there for the kids this weekend, and so had intended to head to his flat just up the road a pace.
Tock. Tock. Tock. His favorite cane beats out the time slowly beside him with each step, and he seems relatively oblivious to the world around him, or the odd behaviors of passersby. Full autopilot, this one, enough so that he actually starts to pass by both stranger and niece without so much as a look of recognition.

Kyle and Kahren were talking about the London Underground. "I'd like to see it someday," Kyle says. "I suppose we could take it to the Muggle dance hall. Might as well do the whole thing properly." He glances at the man that walks by without even noticing them, something he much prefers.

"Perhaps," Kahren says a bit uncertainly. "I mean - I only went the once, but I suppose it wasn't all that difficult. And Mister Grosvenor simply pretended I was from Norfolk when I was confused by things…" The tock, tock, tock of the cane earns her attention, and she watches the man with an uncertain look on her features. Does she call out to the man…? She would, of course, normally. But…

Cassiel is known for being a bit bumble-headed… he routinely forgets names, or fails to place names with faces. He acts like a kid in a candy store whenever someone pulls out a Muggle child's toy. But he's far more observant than he lets on. And even if the notice takes a few ticks, it's there.
It plays back in his head. People steering clear of a couple. The woman staring at him. The face of the woman. The odd look she gives him. He stops. Pauses. And then says, a smile behind his voice, even without turning around, "Kahren, dearest… you're not even going to stop an old man while he dodders on past you?"

Kyle stands in front of Sweet Temptations, talking to Kahren. It's a cold January evening, and most people are keeping well away from the pair, looks of fear and revulsion on their faces. One man, however, has stopped nearby. Kyle breaks off his conversation and turns his head towards the man. Did he just say Kahren's name. He looks between her and Cassiel, his eyebrows raised.

"You seemed so lost to your own thoughts, Uncle. I was loathe to interrupt," Kahren responds, hoping she doesn't look as uncomfortable as she feels. "And besides - I'll see you in Hogsmeade tomorrow, won't I?"
She glances aside at Kyle, wondering just how this will play out. Oh well. At least Cassiel won't be fool enough to mention it to Alaric.

Cassiel chuckles as he turns around, still in a Muggle outfit from his day about town. The hair on his cheeks bristle with the movement, and he looks directly at Kahren, "Nothing's more important than family, though, Kahren. You know that. I always make time." And with that, he walks closer eyes going to and taking into account the oddly-dressed man she's with.
It only takes him a moment. The clothes, the discomfit, the fact that they're outside the establishment rather than inside, in this weather. His tone cools, just a tad, as he looks at Kyle again, and then back to Kahren, "So this is the friend you mentioned?"

Kyle freezes in place. She called the man uncle. He turns to Cassiel, his eyes wary. He doesn't take his eyes off the man, and he tenses up as though ready to bolt at the drop of a hat. He doesn't say a word. Kahren mentioned two uncles out of a potential six. This couldn't be the youngest one, could it? He swallows.

"Mister Wilson, it's fine," Kahren murmurs to him quietly, before returning her attention to her uncle. "It is," she admits a bit wryly. "Kyle, wasn't it?" She looks aside at the man. "Kyle Wilson, this is my eldest Uncle, Cassiel Umbridge." When he comes close enough, she wraps one arm loosely around Cassiel, kissing him on the cheek.

As Kahren validates his suspicions, Cassiel looks the other man over again, although a smile break through at Kahren's kiss. The hand that doesn't wrap about Kahren at the waist when she finally approaches him is actually held out to Kyle. "That would be me. Cassiel Umbridge, Muggle Liaison with the Ministry. A pleasure to meet you." The words are stilted, somewhat, but it's clear he's trying. Open mind, and all that.

Kyle glances at Kahren and gives his head a short nod to confirm his name, but his eyes snap right back to Cassiel. He continues to watch him, keeping his face neutral, but when the man extends a hand, Kyle's eyebrows shoot up. He hesitates, concerned this may be some sort of trap, but then he puts forward his own hand. "Likewise," he says with a small, strained smile.

Kahren smiles, and gives her uncle a squeeze with that arm around his middle, obviously pleased. "We were just enjoying a spot or cocoa," she explains. "I still have some pastry left if you want it? It has lemon curd. And Mister Wilson was telling me that he used to play the piano. Isn't that lovely? We were trying to contrive a way that he could practice for a bit, and I could drag along my flute…"

Cassiel takes the man's hand, and the grip is firm, and strong. The hands themselves are heavily calloused. He offers a three-pump shake before taking the hand back, and looking back to Kahren at her squeeze. "I actually shouldn't… after all, I have a figure to… Hell. Who am I kidding? Lemon, you said?"
A look again is given to Kyle, appraising. "Used to?" Normally an odd turn of phrase. But oh, yeah… access. "I thought I heard you two talking about the Tube when I passed. What would that have to do with music?"

Kyle has a firm handshake as well. He relaxes when the introduction concludes without incident, but remains alert. Passersby continue to give them hostile looks, looks that now include Cassiel as well. "The idea was to go to a Muggle dance hall to find a piano," Kyle says. "Since I'm usually less than welcome in Wizarding establishments." His smile is bitter. "The Underground happened to come up when we were talking about Muggles."

"Yes, lemon," Kahren confirms, hand over the bag with half a lemon curd pastry inside. She takes another sip of her cocoa after relinquishing it. "And you know I can't help but gush about that trip through the Underground." Looking at Kyle she adds, "Have you heard about e-lec-tricity yet?"

Cassiel takes the bag, eagerly divesting it of its remaining contents, chuckling lightly, "Infernal thing," he says, around a bite of the pastry. "she has a death wish, I tell you. Flying along in caves in a metal tube."

"Isn't it just a sort of train?" Kyle asks with an amused smile, though in truth he's never seen the Underground. He glances at Kahren and thinks for a moment. "Not in a long time," he says. "I think I remember my father talking about it. Remind me what it is again?"

"Says the man who collects Muggle contraptions," Cassiel's niece remarks in a dry voice. "Really, uncle Cassiel, who are you to talk?"
"A train that goes through the earth," Kahren confirms. "In tunnels. Without any of that smoke, like the Hogwarts Express makes, because it runs on the e-lec-tricity. The Muggles catch lightning and put it into /wires/ - these little thin bits of metal - and force it to do work. Isn't that just remarkable?"

Cassiel laughs, bumping Kahren with an elbow. "Mine don't propel you along at speeds that are indecent. And one can both be fascinated by, and respect the danger of a thing. I think dragons are beautiful creatures, but you won't see me try to scratch one under the snout."

"It does sound horrific when you put it that way," Kyle says to Kahren with a faint smile. "I think the dragon analogy is rather fitting. Though there is a rather banal saying that might apply here. Something about not judging a book by its cover." He looks at Cassiel. "You said you worked at the Ministry, didn't you? I used to work there years ago."

"It was a bit bumpy when it stopped and started - but really. It's not as horrid as either of you seem to believe. It was really quite nice," Kahren insists. "And Mister Grosvenor did not seem to think it at all unsafe." Then again - he flies a Muggle military plane with matching guns.

Cassiel gives Kahren an incredulous look. "This coming from the man who rides a metal tube with wings through the air that spits out metal bits. I don't think his assumptions on 'safe' or 'unworrisome' are necessarily trustworthy."

"Hah," Kyle says. "Does he really?" But as he looks between uncle and niece, he shakes his head to himself and decides it's time to move on. "I'd best be going," he says. "Thank you for the cocoa and pastry, Miss Umbridge. It was nice to meet you, Mister Umbridge." He offers the pair a faint smile and turns to head off down the alley.

"Yes - he does really," Kahren admits, relenting that her uncle may have a point, there. "I'll try to find a piano, somewhere," she promises Kyle, smiling at him, with one arm still around Cassiel. She watches him move off, then looks up at Cassiel with a look that simply says, 'see?' Not such a monster, is he?

Cassiel watches the man go, his smile fading somewhat as a bit of tension that may not have even been obvious until just that moment is suddenly gone. "I know what you're thinking. And I'll grant he gave me no reason to pull out my wand… but still…" He shakes his head, "Still."
He tucks in the last little bit of pastry. Silent for the moment.

Kahren lets out a quiet sigh. "He's just a man, no different than any of the rest of us," she points out gently. "Went to Hogwarts, likes music, enjoyed Care of Magical Creatures, worked in the ministry… And he's doing the responsible thing. Three nights a month, he hands himself over to the ministry to be /locked up/. He's a man, with a very unfortunate illness, and people /hate/ him for it."

Cassiel sighs, nodding his head as he understands it at least on an intellectual level. "It… doesn't make it any less difficult to swallow. We're taught to fear his kind. We see what they do when they embrace what the illness does to them. Grow up with stories. And it only takes a single mistake for him to destroy everything. To pass it along. So there is a fear there… and in ways it's justified." He frowns, "You may be able to look past it. Not so easy for me."

"But he doesn't embrace it," Kahren points out quietly. She hugs tight to her uncle, resting her head against him. "I just… I can't imagine how horrible it would be, to be infected by something so frightening, and to have your friends and maybe even your family turn their backs on you." She smiles wryly before adding, "But I should stop harking on. /Thank/ you for being kind to him."

Cassiel smiles again, hugging her back, "Like I said, he did nothing personally to deserve anything but kindness from me. Even if I… distrust something or a certain type of body, even I know that those are internal emotions. I likely would never trust him to cross my threshold, but that doesn't mean I would be cruel on principle."

"Well. I'd go no where near him on the full moon," Kahren remarks wryly. "But if I had my own place…" She lets out a quiet sigh before admitting softly, "In truth, /Alaric/ worries me more. It would hurt him, if…"

"Do you blame him?" Cassiel asks, honestly, "He, out of all of us, has the most reason to feel that way. Knowing you consort with one, unfortunate or not, would wound him. We have no idea if the one who attacked them was any better a person outside the change."

"Of course I don't," Kahren answers. "And you know I would give most anything not to hurt him. But…" How can she turn her back on what she honestly believes to be /right/? Just for fear of hurting her uncle?

"There's family, and there's strangers, Kahren. Doesn't make it right… and I think in the end he'd love you either way," Cassiel offers back, "but there is such a thing as getting in too deep."

Kahren nods, letting out a quiet, "But he might push me away." And he still needs her. She continues to stay nestled against him, her head against his shoulder.
"I'm looking forward to tomorrow," she remarks, changing the topic.

"He might, but he always comes back." Cassiel holds Kahren tightly, "He's shown that."
Then, as the subject changes, "Me too, actually. I hope the kids get my owls, and decide to join us."

Kahren hopes he's right. She just hopes it wouldn't take /seven more years/.
"Definitely," she agrees. "Or I would be tempted to try marching up through the school gates and dragging them out myself!" She lets out a quiet laugh. "Do you think the headmaster would let me?"

Shaking his head, Cassiel bops Kahren on the nose for that one. "I highly doubt Headmaster Flint would ever allow that. And that's assuming you get past all the wards. No…we'll just have to trust them to come to us."

"Such a shame," Kahren complains with a sigh. "Ah well. So, basically we can give up on the notion of Elric showing," she teases. "Unless you bribed him with something good…? He can be so /flighty/ without the proper motivation."

"Actually, I'm hoping their uncle Alaric will be the bait that brings them all out," Cassiel offers with a grin, "I know they all missed him terribly."

"You may be right about that," Kahren muses thoughtfully. "It's good that he's re-cementing his ties to the family again. I don't know that he would have let /me/ back in as soon as he had, if I hadn't been starting my studies in Creature Induced Injuries."

Cassiel nods, suddenly realizing they're standing in the cold, when they needn't be. He instead pulls lightly on the shoulder he has an arm around, "C'mon. Walk with me a bit. These old bones aren't meant for standing idle anymore."
Assuming she does, he continues, "How /did/ you reconnect with him, then? I know he's been back for a while now, but other than the occasional bumping in to him, I ended up having to force the issue the other morning."

"Well, I told him /I/ was having trouble, and I need /his/ help," Kahren explains as she walks with him. "Of course." She smiles wryly at just how well that little gambit had worked. "We started having study sessions at pubs. I started, err… /monitoring/ what he was drinking, and trying to limit it.
"He's promised me to stay sober one night a week," she adds.

"It's a start." Cassiel responds, grinning at her, "it's not great, but it's a start. I love my drink… but I also know where to stop. He seemed relatively sober the other night." But then again he's also left with Moody.

"He can hide it pretty well," Kahren admits with wry regret. "But - yes. I agree with you. He seemed pretty sober that night. /I/ was the one who was a mess. That woman…!"

"…was as open as a book, and as unashamed." Cassiel grins, "She truly unsettled you. Which was likely her aim." He grins, "She sensed the closeness between you two, and grasped at it."
He shakes his head, "Knew a few women like her during my school days. Always one step ahead of you, always knowing right where to get you off your guard. But I'll tell you this… they were also typically good friends, and loyal once you got past their guard."

"Not sure that I have it in me to do that," Kahren remarks dryly. "I'm liable to die of embarrassment long before that could possibly happen." A little color was rising to her cheek - just at the memory!

"A pity," Cassiel notes, grinning, "those were some incredibly memorable friendships. And it's the sort of thing that can help you grow. But, I hope she's at least good for him. Her and that circle of friends." Because even with what little he saw, he could tell that there were some blurred lines between that crowd.

"I hope so, too," Kahren agrees. "He deserves all the love and comfort that he finds. If that is what helps him now… then good. I just loathe the thought of his heart being hurt again," she admits wryly.

At this, Cassiel pulls Kahren close to him, "Happiness and risk go hand in hand. You can't have one without the other. But you can't avoid either. So let him embrace it." A grin, and he leans over to offer her a light peck on the temple.

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