(1939-08-10) Dangers Abroad
Details for Dangers Abroad
Summary: New acquaintances and old bump into each other at the Leaky Cauldron. Conversations inevitably find their way to the turmoils in Europe.
Date: August 10, 1939
Location: Leaky Cauldron, London

In that space between afternoon and evening, traffic through the Leaky Cauldron has begun to pick up, with wizarding folks traveling one way or another between Diagon Alley and the rest of London. A few actually stick around, of course, and Seren would be one of those. Stopping in the back alley to shed her misted jacket and hat, both of which she whisks dry before stepping over the threshold, the slender woman makes her way toward the bar, waiting patiently while the barkeep fields the patrons who showed up before her. While waiting, she glances around at the various tables and booths, but it is an idle perusal with very little real intent to find someone.

He comes down the stairs, taking them haphazardly one or two at a time as he feels the impulse guide him. Like he's a man of half his age. There's a pipe in his mouth, and it trails a dragon's ribbon of grey smoke behind him. He's a dapper gentleman. Well dressed in a three piece tweed suit and with some wizard's dark green robes swirling like coloured mist behind him. As he hits the floor he's immediately schmoozing, laughing, talking, spreading charm around familiar faces and those who aren't so familiar, but still know his face from the grinning back of his books. He slaps shoulders and he makes jokes.
"Let me have a Brandy, good woman!" At the bar he settles in like it's his own bosomed home. It happens so that Seren is the closest fellow patron at the long counter, so he offers her a amiable dip of his head. "Madam."

Seren turns to regard the man who takes a seat nearby, calling out his order like this was some sort of… wait. It /was/ a pub, wasn't it. Relaxing slightly, she gives the man a politely friendly smile, nodding to him and replying in kind with, "Sir." There is no recognition in the look or tone, however. More a reaction to his demeanour than anything else. When the barkeep returns, she requests a bowl of the mushroom stew and a glass of wine, then finally takes a seat, turning back to the man beside her. "Do you live upstairs?" She did notice his entrance, then.

"For the time being, Madam. As long as I'm in London. I've never been much for apparating. And the floo? Ugh! Give me a nice and comfortable bed close by, yes?" Dillorous smiles at the bartender when the brandy comes into his hand. Certainly it's early, but that doesn't really seem to bother him none. He takes a quick sip before leaning back with a content sigh of pleasure. "Ah. Now that's out of the way.. Let me introduce myself. Dillorus Diderot, at your service." And he obviously does expect her to recognize the name. He's famous!

"That makes sense," Seren agrees affably, "why travel if it isn't actually necessary?" She watches the progression of brandy toward mouth with distant curiosity, but not judgment, merely waiting for him to finish. When he offers the introduction, recognition is still absent in those dark eyes of hers, though she does offer another polite smile. "Pleasure to meet you, sir. Seren Bryce." Then a beat. "Wait, Diderot?" Another beat as cogs lock into place. "D. Diderot? Are you an author? Atlantian, perhaps?"

"The pleasure is all mine, I assure you!" He assures her, and he will - if she allows it - lean forward to take her palm in his and kiss it in a gentlemanly fashion. Old fashioned aught to suit a man who is passing into his fifties, hair going grey where it isn't leaving him completely. His smile is brilliant when she does make the connection, his teeth pearly white and perfect. "And yes, that is me."

Seren watches keenly as Dillorous kisses her hand, eyes wide, gaze sharp. Not that this is out of the ordinary. It is the same look she gives her surroundings, and the people passing through the Leaky Cauldron. Once her hand is released, she belatedly thanks the bartender for her requested wine, though the woman has already moved away again, so Seren turns back to the man next to her. "In my mind, I suppose I always pictured historians as stuffy old men, but you seem neither stuffy nor old," she comments in her candid way, "or I might have made the connection sooner. I referred to your works on both ancient Rome and Atlantis in my years after Hogwarts. They were very nicely written." Then she turns away to thank the barkeep in a more timely fashion as her requested mushroom stew is delivered.

His eyes twinkle with amusement at her words. "I am glad someone yet labels me with the young," he murmurs. "So tell me, lovely Madam Bryce, are you a fellow inhabitant of this illustrious establishment, or merely here to sample the cook's wonders?" With her mushroom stew arrived he realizes that it has been a time since he last ate. Brandy on an empty stomach makes for all sorts of pleasant effects, yet is hardly conductive to a prolonged evening out. "You know what? I'll have one of those."

"No, I live next to a rather well-known detective," Seren answers, the twinkle in her eye giving away the joke more than her deadpan tone. "Have you heard of a man named Sherlock Holmes, by chance? He's my neighbour." Not really. Or… sort of. "Not a day goes by I'm not asked to direct the tourists to his house, anyway." She stirs the stew slowly, letting the steam billow away, then reaches for her wine. "So, Mister Diderot, if it is apparating and floo travel you loathe, where is home in actuality, if not here?"

"221B Baker Street, London," the middle aged author tells her immediately with a laugh of delight. "A neighbor you say? Well, if I'm ever in the neighberhood I shall have to knock on your door and invite myself for tea!" The brandy is vanishing quite quickly, soon enough down his throat and with only an empty glass to suggest there was ever anything there. Without being asked the bartender comes over and pours him some more. "Ah. Home. These days I honestly no longer know. Certainly I have a house waiting for me on the Cornish coast. It has a view, it has a garden, it has an office, it has a nagging old maid to take care of things in my absence. But I fear I can never stay there very long. My feet itch to take me away, anywhere, everywhere. Home is on the road, my dear Madam Bryce. Home is the shadow of the Pyramids, or the Taj Mahal. Or a little village on the Majha. Or a tea house in Vienna." Just talking about it seems to make him ready to get up and leave.

"So you're a bit of a skiff, then," Seren comments, social graces not exactly her strong suit. "Bobbing along without an anchor." She sips her wine while studying him with that researcher's gleam, then she turns to her meal, finally trying a spoonful of the stew. Then another. After the second bite, she primly dabs at her lips with her napkin before glancing at Dillorous again. "Travel these days is becoming rather precarious. Europe is a powder keg. Seems a new disease is springing up everywhere else. Makes sooty old London look downright hospitable."

"Anchors are good, but I'll settle for sails that'll take me wherever I want to go. Even if I never do stay very long." Soon enough a bowl of stew is put infront of him, too. Though he eats with cultured delicacy, he certainly manages to get a lot into his mouth. "This is true. But then travel has always been dangerous. Just not quite so close to home, eh? So might I ask what you do?"

Seren makes a small sound of agreement regarding the dangers of travel, then presses her napkin to her mouth again before picking up her wineglass. "I work in the patents office at the Ministry," she answers simply enough, red wine swirling slowly. "Before that, however, I studied ancient artefacts with a research group out of Berlin. Most of the items I worked on were out of Italy and Greece, which is how I came across your first book. You made ancient Rome sound delightfully brutal," she adds just before taking a long sip of her wine and turning back to her stew. "What are you researching these days?"

"Ah, I love Berlin! Or at least I used to, before it became full of terribly humorless fellows." Between breathes he shifts into fluent German: "Though I'll easily admit I prefer the Austrians. I spent some considerable time in Vienna after I left Hogwarts." Some more of the stew is scooped up and devoured, and he doesn't really seem to care that brandy does not do well next to it. "You have no idea how delighted I am to hear it. Nothing pleases me more than bringing someone back with me into the past." His engaging smile turns secretive, however, when she mentions his recentp rojects. He shakes his head. "I'd love to spill the beans, but sadly I can't. You'll have to wait and see like the rest!"

Seren and Dillorous are currently seated at the bar, each enjoying their own bowl of mushroom stew. Seren is about halfway done her glass of red wine, while Dillorous' glass of brandy seems new. Or renewed. Replying in equally fluent German, "I've never seen Vienna, but perhaps someday," she glances at the man just as she pushes her bowl away from her slightly, indicating to the bartender that she has finished. Then, long-fingered hand wrapping around her wineglass, she turns sideways on her barstool to face him more directly. "It is an extremely useful tool, engaging your reader like that. I do seem to recall you have other books, but since leaving Berlin, my duties have required I pay more attention to the modern world than the ancient."

Briefly his features hint at old bitterness as he says: "The modern world is little more than an ugly echo. Oh it was brutal and cruel at times, but there was a spirit and honor that's lacking in today's cold and callous machine driven society. Even on our side of the proverbial fence." He shakes his head, dissipating the clouds that gathered around him with another smile. His fresh brandy is not so fresh after he knocks it back with prodigous talent. "I fear the whole world is going to explode, muggle and wizard both, and there's hardly going to be a corner left in which to hide in." Blinking quick, he looks down at his empty glass and then gives her an apologetic look. "Oh dear me, that was bleak. Forgive me. I didn't sleep too well. Speaking, perhaps I should have myself an afternoon nap after all. Us old men, you know." He winks. "Enchante, my dear. Perhaps I'll see you again for a more complete conversation."

The floo flares, and through it steps Kahren, just leaving a day of work at the hospital. She brushes ash from her robes as she makes her way to the bar - coincidentally stopping near Seren and Dillorous. "But of red wine, if you don't mind, Reece," she requests politely, pulling herself up onto a stool. Only once she's seated does she glance around - her gaze landing on Seren. A thoughtful look crosses her features before she lands on, "Seren Bright, isn't it? How have you been?"

"But perhaps there's the chance to write history as it's happening," Seren offers, in a brief bout of optimism to parry Dillorous' own bleaker statement. She smiles a moment later, then nods in reply to his wink. "It has been a pleasure, Mister Diderot. May your nap prove beneficial." She raises her glass toward him, then takes a sip, turning when the unmistakable flash of floo network activity grabs her attention. She watches Kahren exit, then draw near, nodding in greeting. "Bryce," she corrects as a matter of course more than anything. "Good to see you again, Miss Umbridge. Is it still 'miss'? I saw you in that knick-knack store the other evening, but it seemed out of place to introduce myself."

Dillorous bows, then leaves. He glances over Kahren as he passes, but then he's gone up the stairs and for the bed.

"Bryce - of course. My mistake," Kahren responds apologetically. "And so we did - so nice to have a proper chance to talk. It is still 'Miss' I'm afraid - no one's swept me off my feet quite yet. Career keeps me rather busy - I'm sure you know how it can be. But still - perhaps one of these days?" She knows her parents certainly hope.

"I do at that," Seren agrees, giving the other woman a polite but friendly smile. "I seem to recall seeing you at St. Mungo's last time I was there. Perhaps a year ago now. There have been so many familiar faces from my Hogwarts days, but I'm afraid that aside from my occasional treats to myself," indicating her wine and empty bowl with a nod, "I've been terrible about actually stopping to greet any of them." She finishes her wine and sets the glass beside her bowl, though she makes no move to stand just yet.

"Well - I'm a Healer there, so it'd be no real surprise if you did run into me there," Kahren confirms. "I've been doing Plant and Potion Poisonings - though I just started training in Creature Induced Injuries as well, which has been fascinating. And I do enjoy a new challenge. What have you been up to?"

Seren considers Kahren's shared information for a moment glancing away, then nods, as if she's just now placed that data with some corresponding detail in her head. She looks up in time to nod toward the bartender, who quickly refills her glass with a dark red wine. "I spent several years in Germany," she answers a moment later, turning back to Kahren. "Ancient artefacts. Finding out which were magical or at least relevant, then… what exactly they might do. For the last couple years, though, I've been in the Ministry's patents office. It's surprisingly busy and entertaining," she adds, though her tone of voice could as easily have been applied to the ingredients list in the pub's pastries. "What sorts of injuries are creature-induced?"

"Well - idiots that don't show proper respect to hippogriffs, or anger a group of pixies, or get tangled up with grindylows and cut up or half-drowned," Kahren explains easily. "Time spent in Germany, though? That must have been fascinating. It suppose it's good you're away from there now, though - the way things have been going."

Seren makes a quiet "ah" sound as she follows along, nodding a couple times to Kahren. "Right, of course." Which for a moment seems like all she might say on the subject as she stares straight ahead, gears in her head ticking along. "Fascinating?" she asks, giving the other woman a curious look before that, too, clears. "Yes! Sorry. It very much was, and Berlin itself has so much to offer. At the end of my apprenticeship, though, I found myself all too happy to return to England." She raises her glass, about to sip, then pauses. "It's a shame, though, really. I was just discussing with Mister Diderot a moment ago just how dangerous it is to travel in Europe right now. So much to see, but fear keeps us among the more familiar, I suppose."

"I suppose," Kahren agrees, smiling sadly. "I certainly would be afraid to venture far from Britain. It's a shame - because I imagine there is so much beauty to see in the rest of the world. I would love to go to France again, but…" She shakes her head slightly. "Still. I imagine France is safer than other choices, at the moment."

"At the moment," Seren agrees, dark eyes losing their focus for a moment as she muses, wine swirling slowly in her glass. "Well… unrest can't last forever, right? The part that bothers me most is it's just as dangerous for us as for the Muggles. An already strange world is growing stranger by the day."

"Yes," Kahren agrees in a worried tone. "Tensions in both worlds - though I wish it weren't the case. We need cooler and more rational or… /tolerant/ minds to prevail - but it doesn't seem like there's much chance of that. I spoke with a squib, who flies one of those Muggle flying machines for the Muggle military forces. He expects there'll be war soon - and that there may be 'bombs' falling on London. It's all quite alarming."

"Sadly, such minds seem poorly suited to rises in power," Seren replies after a sip of wine. She sets aside her glass, studying it a moment before she turns back to Kahren. "You would think, with all our abilities, we might be able to prevent one more war from tearing both worlds apart. But for as many who want to see peace, as many seem to crave the upheaval. Personal gain. Love of power. Who knows." She picks up her glass again to finish her wine, though she waves off another refill from the bartender, instead placing coins on the countertop to pay for her meal and drinks. "Luckily, there is still a place for cool logic, and we may need as much as we can find in the very near future."

"We certainly will," Kahren agrees after a sip of her own wine, and a quiet sigh. "It seems everytime I pick up the Prophet, something horrible has happened again. Hopfully there won't be anymore /attacks/, though, now that the MLE has captured that Carrow fellow."

"That does seem to be the Prophet's bread and butter," Seren replies in a light drawl, thanking the bartender with a smile before turning her attention more fully on Kahren. "And I hope the same. Though it was certainly a wakeup call, was it not? Remain diligent and prepared, and get to know your neighbours better."

"I suppose you're right about that," Kahren agrees. "And it makes my own work more important than ever. We need to be there - we need to be ready and well-trained, no matter what may come. We need to be ready for anything." That may explain why so many have seen her with healing texts again, even in her off-hours.

Seren nods a couple times, then replies, "I'd rather like to brush up on what little I know of healing from our Hogwarts days. Perhaps even the more Muggle brand of first aid and the like. Some of the hospitals in London offer courses for women. It's been tempting."

"That might not be a bad idea," Kahren agrees. "And…" she muses quietly. "Perhaps I can speak to the St. Mungo's adminstration, about starting a basic Healing course for the public. Teach them how to fix minor injuries, at the very least. It could be just the thing." Her expression is thoughtful as she takes another sip of her wine.

Seren smiles quickly, nodding once more. "Every bit can help. Prepare for the worst-case scenario and go from there. I can't exactly pull out my wand in the streets of London, though, which is why I found their nursing courses intriguing. I've always been amazed at just how much they're able to do without even thinking of magic, much less using it."

"Certainly a valid point," Kahren muses. "It might be a good idea to look into that, myself - though I spend very little time about in Muggle London. I know so very little about Muggles, I'm afraid. I should have Mister Grosvenor teach me a bit more."

Seren shrugs slightly, smiling again. "My family's lived among them ever since I was an infant. You learn a lot just by observing them. But speaking of family and Muggle London, I'd best get myself home. My mother's salamanders will need tending, I'm sure, and while her garden does water itself, it's still best to supervise it," she informs Kahren as she gets to her feet. She slips into her rain slicker and ties it closed, then nods in farewell. "It was very nice running into you again, Miss Umbridge. Especially without threat of random piles of who-knows-what about to fall on us."

"I agree," Kahren agrees with a quiet laugh. "I hope I see you again, Miss Bryce. Perhaps I'll send an owl by, if I get those healing classes started," she offers. She raises her glass in a polite farewell, then takes another sip. She likely be off to her own home in a short while.

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