(1939-02-26) Working Lunch
Details for Working Lunch
Summary: Roderick meets Edwarlinda, and gets told off by her. Surprisingly.
Date: February 26, 1939
Location: The Leaky Cauldron

The Leaky Cauldron does a pretty brisk business at this time of the day. The after work crowd's been filtering in for the past hour or so, and so the establishment's pretty well full-up now. There's a lot of background chatter, punctuated by an occasional laugh or yell, and the bartenders and waitresses are doing their best to keep up with the increasing (and increasingly drunk) demands.

One of the tables is occupied by a very large man and a slightly smaller, though not small, other man. There's a resemblance between them, like they might be siblings or cousins. "…tell you, it's the biggest load of horse shit you ever saw," the larger man, namely Roderick, is saying to his companion, "Fucking Auror who's gone round the twist. As though they're not bad enough when they're all there."
Lunch. A meal taken halfway through one's working day, whether one reaches that point at one o'clock like a civilised person or at six o'clock like an Auror who's senior enough to spend so much of her time in bloody useless meetings that she can only count on getting to grips with the vast quantity of information passing over her desk when the office is empty in the evenings. … Still, one can't unwrap a sandwich at one's desk and call it a meal. One has one's standards. And so Eddie Malfoy has hung up her grey robes on a hook inside the door of the Leaky Cauldron and settled down with a plateful of whatever's the special — beef and Guinness pie, as it happens, with assorted vegetables some of which can even be identified by the naked eye — and a firewhiskey she knocks back before anything else. It burns like heaven. A taste she's been missing.

She's just stuck a speculative fork into her vast slice of pie when she hears a frank appraisal of her office and her colleagues from a man at the next table. His back is to her, and hers to him; hers stiffens slightly beneath the vivid green satin of her suit jacket, and then is consciously relaxed as she just sits and listens. The voice doesn't sound familiar. Disgruntled crime victim, perhaps?
Considering his back's to the newly arrived Edwarlinda (and never having been much of a dab hand at Divination), Roderick doesn't notice her arrival. Would he care if he had noticed? Debatable. However, since we'll never know, best not to dwell on it. "…king joke, is what. Going to snap and fucking kill us all one of these days."

"She on active duty?" the other man asks, also not paying much heed to Edwarlinda (except to have given her an appreciative once-over before she'd sat down). Roderick shrugs, "Who bloody knows. She's there, she's not there, she's teaching dueling lessons…" He picks up the mug of ale in front of him, taking a long draught before slamming it back on the table, spilling a few drops. "Between that and the Sykes thing, we're all looking like right knobends."
Ah. He said 'we're'. A disgruntled… grunt, is Edwarlinda's revised theory, given that she knows the voice of everyone who's anyone in the MLE. This ought to be interesting — hearing the uncensored, unvarnished views of someone low in the ranks in her own department — someone near enough to see, but not close enough to understand. Though if he's just going to keep on the subject of poor Shelley Prewett and her troubles, she might want another drink. She eyes the glass which till so recently held her firewhiskey (it never lasts long, does it?) and then raises it high in the air, catching the eye of a familiar bar wench and wiggling her empty suggestively. She holds up two fingers; receives a nod in return. Reinforcements shall be forthcoming. Till then Eddie applies herself to her pie. It's really not so bad, when you get to know it.
"They're about as on the ball with that as a dead seal." Roderick continues, still oblivious to anyone who might be listening in. "It'll be a miracle if they manage to sort out anything besides their fucking grocery lists." The other man laughs, finishing his drink before getting to his feet. "All right, Rick. There's going to be hell to pay at home if it gets any later," he says, and Roderick snorts, shaking his head in disgust. "Never would've picked you to be so bloody henpecked, Henry," he replies, but gives him a wave that's more like he's shooing him away. The man departs, but Roderick stays, waving down the waitress for a refill.

A sizeable percentage of the pie has been put away to do its part augmenting the weight Eddie put on last year during her pregnancy and, despite starting smoking again, hasn't managed to shed; the second firewhiskey has been delivered and the empty one whisked away; and when the flames die Eddie sits and sips, brooding upon the injustice of what she has just heard. Women and men working their arses off at all hours, putting themselves constantly in danger to protect the public from Dark magic, and this is what the lower ranks have to say about it?

… Another mouthful, and that's it. That's simply it. She rises to her full, majestic, high-heeled height — and in an instant she's looming over Roderick. An aristocratic ice-blonde goddess who has seen better days and appears ready to make him see worse. She fixes him with a chilly blue gaze, knocks back the rest of her firewhiskey, and slams the glass down on the table next to his. "Now I know who you are," she says crisply. "You're a hitwizard, aren't you? If you're so bloody unhappy with the way the Aurors' Office is running its investigations, why don't you make an appointment to come and see me and discuss it? Rather than sitting on your arse in the pub slagging off hard-working officers whose dedication and talent have placed them far above ill-informed, bitter little shites like you. Oh, yes, we could talk all about it. And perhaps then touch upon the subject of your career options. What's your name? Rick?"

His glass is filled so obligingly again by one of the waitresses, but does she get thanked for her troubles? Of course not. What she gets is an absent grunt, but she seems to take it in stride. Roderick takes another long drink, setting the mug down a little gentler this time, though perhaps only to spare him from wasting any of the precious alcohol inside. He's mid-sip when Edwarlinda rises behind him and then moves in -front- of him, and before she speaks, his eyebrows are raising like maybe it's his lucky day. After she speaks, his eyebrows are still raised, for quite a different reason. He doesn't respond immediately; he's recognized her, of course, for it'd be a bit odd if he didn't know one of the most famous Aurors in his department by sight. It's the first time he's ever been addressed by her, though, so he's a little nonplussed.

"Oh, are you taking appointments?" he queries, crossing his arms over his chest as he regards her, "Because I seem to recall being told to shut the fuck up, keep my head down, and do my own fucking work before I got thrown out on my arse for insubordination the last time I suggested that it might not be the best fucking idea to have a daft Auror hanging around all the bloody time, eh?" Okay, so it wasn't her that said it. And perhaps 'suggested' isn't the best way to put it. But he's apparently not too fussed about that part. "I'll be glad to have a sit down with you, when I'm back on duty, which I will be in about two hours thanks to all the extra work that's been dropped onto my desk since the Sykes case. Pencil it into your diary: Roderick Pierce, angry fucking hitwizard."

Naturally Eddie took his recognition for granted. She's an Auror, a Malfoy, and one of the Prophet's favourite front-page girls — there are only two ways to fail to know who she is. One is by being a Muggle. The other is by residing beneath a rock. (That said, to judge by his stubble and the state of his clothing, this… admittedly, otherwise, not at all bad-looking… man might well fall into the latter category.) "Advice you should have taken," she informs him coolly, fixing him with a steady gaze and leaning down just a little to be sure he can hear her over the ambient hubbub, "particularly about shutting the fuck up. If you have a problem, you bring it to your superiors through the appropriate channels," which she, Eddie Malfoy, actually believes will work, because when has it ever failed her? "And you do it with respect. You don't shoot your ignorant mouth off about ongoing investigations — in a pub, where anyone," her eyes narrow, "might be sitting behind you. And you don't do your absolute bloody best to undermine the public's confidence in the MLE, at any time, least of all when the political climate is so unstable. If this is your idea of professional behaviour, Pierce, insubordination's the least of your worries."

"'Undermine the public's confidence in the MLE?'" Roderick lets out an incredulous laugh. "Think you're all doing a pretty fucking bang-up job of that all by yourselves, love. Bothered to go out among the rabble lately, or are you too busy having your arse kissed? There is no confidence in the MLE. We look like a bunch of bloody wankers who couldn't catch a petty thief if we tripped over him lying shitfaced in the gutter with a sodding sign pinned to his coat." He pauses, then rises; and though she's tall, he's inarguably taller, and certainly broader. He lowers his voice, as well, though it doesn't seem like it's because he cares about being overheard. His eyes narrow, and, perhaps incongruously, a smile touches his lips. "And you fucking know it, don't you." It isn't a question. "Otherwise you wouldn't give two shits about what some low-level grunt says when he's had a few after work." And, apparently, before work.

As an inadequately shaven and by his own admission inebriated and pissed-off man half a dozen inches taller than she stands up so near to her — near enough to embrace her, were the tension between them of a different kind — Edwarlinda Malfoy tilts her gaze up to follow his, but doesn't flinch.

… And then her eyes, beautiful but tired eyes, years older than they were nine months ago, tighten. "What I know and you don't could fill volumes, Pierce," she utters in a low voice. "And if you're going on duty in two hours, you've had enough." She reaches for his latest, hardly-touched pint, drags the glass across his table past her own empty tumbler, and confiscates it and carries it with her as she turns back to her own table, adjacent, and her half-eaten slice of pie.

When she reaches for his pint, Roderick doesn't stop her; he's too stunned to do much of anything. His jaw actually drops open, his eyes following her as she turns away from him. He stands there like a giant, angry statue, his hands clenched tightly at his sides, and he teeters on the brink of something, his eyes narrowing once more as he stares at the back of her admittedly beautiful but extremely aggravating head.

However, then he begins to laugh. It's about what one would imagine from him, loud and unabashed, genuinely amused and slightly intoxicated. "You know, you're a right bitch." This doesn't seem like an insult; actually, it's rather complimentary. He reaches down and lays a hand on her shoulder, surprisingly delicate for a man as large as he is, and leans over her, speaking low into her ear. "Come find me at the Ministry if you ever want some help getting that stick out of your arse. I work below you…but I'd work well above you, too." With that, he reaches into his pocket, drops some coins on his table, and makes his way to the door, turning up his collar against the cold as he disappears from sight.

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