(1939-09-15) Strategizing at the Cauldron
Details for Strategizing at the Cauldron
Summary: Graham, Brandy and Annie chance to meet at the Leaky Cauldron and spend some time discussing the situation at Hogwarts.
Date: 15 September, 1939
Location: The Leaky Cauldron
Plot: Headmaster from Hell

It's evening about dinner time at the cauldron always a busy time but a fun time with typically good company and conversations going on all around and the severs at their best work people can use this time to unwind from the long days of work or just in general. Graham is here in the mess of people though he's found a table to himself his cider and chips sitting in front of him he seems to be looking over a book with a cover so worn it cant be read easily.

Like others, Brandy is just finishing a long day at the Ministry. A day spent carefully pretending she's dealing well with the stress in her life - and what better way to finish off the day then with one of Reece's special cocktails? Siddling up to the bar, she nods to the man. "Put some mellow in," she requests, getting a look that seems to beg the question, 'Again, Brandy?' But the man obliges, sliding the drink over. "Thank you."

The day at Hogwarts was uneventful, thankfully, and it's Annie's day to leave early rather than staying until 8, when the library closes. She walked home to Hogsmeade, but didn't feel like staying in alone tonight, and things aren't advanced to the point where Annie feels she can just pop over to Tim's unannounced. So where to go? The Leaky Cauldron, of course. There's a flash in the fireplace and the little witch steps out, dusting her clothes off and giving a light sneeze.

Graham sets the book down to take a drink and spots the two various entryways the two women use plus well he likes to see when people are entering if he remembers to do so anyways. He offers each a wave if he'll catch their glance he waves them over to his table should they wish to join. He cant help but chuckle at Annie's sneeze but he knows how that goes all to well.

Brandy takes a deep drink of her whiskey before she turns to look at the room. She doesn't really seem to be seeing any of it though until Graham waves his warm to summon her attention. She manages a smile, however, and starts in his direction after directing Reece to have a stew sent over to her seat. "Please tell me there's been some movement on the case," she remarks as she sits.

Annie finishes dusting herself off and looks around, her smile lighting as she see Graham, despite the circumstances of their last encounter. She holds up one finger, 'a moment', and heads to the bar first, before joining Graham and Brandy. It takes her more than 'a moment' as she ends up talking to a few people, slowing her progress considerably.

"Evening Sweetwater." Graham pauses as she asks the question though he winces "I cant say much Brandy, i'm sorry but we're trying really." his tone is apologetic to her and he does share the views she has on the case but talking about it would be bad. He turns to catch the look from Annie and returns her smile he nods to the one moment and looks back "I can say there are several of us looking into it much as possible." he adds.

"I know you can't, but… tell me something," Brandy asks - almost begs - as she holds her whiskey tightly in her hand. "Not the facts, not the details, but… Can you get him out? How long is it going to take?" Her expression is tight - but with some urgent lurking under the surface.

Graham takes a drink from his cider he looks across the table. He looks a tad thoughtful perhaps a bit of sadness as well but shakes it of. He will lower his voice so only she can hear it "I belive we will be able to get him out, but I dont know how long. It's all very touchy." he says of course this is vague but its the best he's got at the moment that he can share.

Brandy nods - not entirely sure how reassuring she finds that answer. "I hope so," she answers quietly. "But I don't think he'll have a home to come back to. I can't sustain the shop. He lives there - but I have to sell it." She knocks back another deep swig of her drink.

Finally making her way to the bar and ordering a drink, Annie turns to head over to the table now occupied by Graham and Brandy. She smiles as she approaches, her eyes flicking from one to the other. "Evenin', Graham, Brandy. Thanks for th'invitation t'join yeh." She sets her glass down, a nut brown ale foamed to the rim, and settles herself in an empty chair.

"I'm sorry Brandy, but i'm all in for what I can give to the cause." Graham gives a half smile. He turns back as Annie arrives now shaking off the previous conversation at least for the moment. "Ah, Annie its good to see you. No worries got to keep good company." he smiles more properly "How have you been, how is your new job going?"

"I'm not the one…" Losing a home, a business. Brandy shakes her head slightly. "I'm not the one who'll deserve an apology," she concludes instead. She drinks again from her whiskey, and looks up at Annie with a welcoming smile. "I don't suppose Sampson's been making himself known in the library?"

Annie doesn't pry into matters that don't involve her, so she sips her ale until the conversation turns. "Aye, Graham, it's alright. A few problems with th'students, but not as much as there could be, I'm sure." There's an apologetic half smile for Brandy. "I've seen him once, but have yet t'catch him in the library."

Graham frowns and cant quite meet Brandy's gaze but he'll nod in silence her words are quite true but it has been taken out of his hands since he was setup to take the blame. He looks back to Annie though and nods "I've heard a little bit about the goings on over there, but i'm glad its been good so far I had hoped it would be so." adjusting the chips so they can have some if they choose.

"Mmm," Brandy says quietly, with some concern somehow laced into the simple sound. "Perhaps you can enforce it? He's only started learning to read since receiving his letter. He needs more instruction, and more practice. I don't suppose reading tutor could fall within the sphere of your duties?" she asks.

If food is offered Annie isn't one to turn it down, and she snags a chip, not yet stuffing it into her mouth. "I'd be happy t'help him, Brandy, I just can't find him. I'll make it a point t'do so, though. I even wouldn't mind spendin' the extra time at school." The more staff presence around right now, the better for keeping the peace. She looks to Graham, "There are bumps, an' no one is happy about the power that Flint's given a bunch of children."

He looks back and forth knowing the student they speak about though doesn't have anything to add to that part. Graham waits until he's spoken to again before he'll break his silence. "I cant imagine so, none of it is right even one little bit." he pauses "Anyways both of you if I can be of help let me know i'll do what i'm able."

"Good," Brandy says firmly, flashing Annie a smile. The expression is coming more easily now, as Reece's concoction settles into her. "And if you can pass the word around the right ears - to my kids and their peers - that they'd be very welcome to stop by my cottage on Hogsmeade weekend… My door'll be open to them."

Annie nods to Brandy, "I've done so as well, for a small group that wants some help. An'…" She hesitates, glancing around and then lowering her voice. "I've gotten an item or two in an' out. I spent th'weekend doin' errands t'that end." A book smuggled in, a memo smuggled out, little things here and there.

"Of course, Ms Dodderidge. Let me know if you see him again, won't you?" Hypatia comes out of the kitchen doorway and heads back into the pub proper, tucking away a notepad and bit of pencil into a pocket.

Graham takes a drink and a bite of food while he listens finishing it before he speaks further after they've both spoken. "That's excellent i'm glad the students have support. Quite important they'll need it, but if you think of anything just let me know what I can do." he re-offers wanting to be sure. He looks impressed though to Annie chuckling "Excellent."

"We're putting together a crack team of tutors to help them stay as caught up as we can," Brandy confides quietly. "Aurors and Office of Magical Education both involved, among others. Hopefully they'll be able to slip back into their classes when this is fixed with no problem. But if not - we could keep the tutoring going for a few more weekends after the fact."

Hypatia smiles at Graham, Brandy and Annie as she passes their table. And then she's gone.

Another sip is taken from Annie's glass, and she says quietly to her companions, "It'll end, an' things'll get back t'normal." As a wizard with a bird on his shoulder walks a little close to their table, she immediately changes the topic. "An' I feel I should be thankin' yeh again, Graham, for yer kindness. I ran into Tim not too long ago an' we talked." Yeah, that last bar incident with Brandy, where Annie slipped out after Tim did.

"Well, i'd be glad to help with either, think i'm decent shakes at many topics." Graham gives a small shrug he catches on to the topic change though smiling softly to Annie "It was nothing really Annie, anyone would do the same for a friend. Oh have you? That's excellent news." he speaks about the two speaking things through. "Sorcha has been in town too, I attended her brothers wedding and we've been well being friends." he says though his smile falters a bit he will try to cover it.

Brandy simply responds to Graham's offer with a nod. She won't argue with another Auror onboard with the plan. She does let Annie derail the conversation, though, turning to give her a curious look. "This about the gent with the napkin?" she asks.

There's something of a sheepishness when Brandy asks, and Annie nods her head. "It is. Tim Moody, he's a photographer for th'Prophet." There's surprise as Graham's words register. "Yeh mean Healer O'Shea? Rhyeline's healer? Cor, I didn't know he had someone serious like that. Don't half bet there's a lot of disappointed ladies at Mungo's." She looks around again, sees no one near once more, and leans in, voice going back down. "He'd bought me a camera, Tim did, an'I have it now. I've had it at school, but there's not much that'd make for good pictures. Someone bullying someone else just looks like they're standin' there talkin', t'the camera."

He looks to Brandy but she's speaking to Annie and the same topic so he'll simply turn back to the other listening though the question gets a nod and chuckle "The very same, it appears i've rather said over much though for my case." Graham chuckles though he cannot speak for those at the hospital but he'll lean in a bit to listen as she speaks in once more. "Hm yes that would be hard to catch something completely clear to all viewers."

"Oh, but it's brilliant," Brandy says eagerly, leaning forward and putting her chin onto the palm of her hand, while considering the woman next to her. "Photograph the food? Perhaps you could get a good image of that dreadful SCUMS class somehow? Maybe even a group of those Magijugend kids parading about like they own the place with the right caption…" she suggests quietly. "But there has to be a way to get something more… visceral." She frowns. They can't set up a kid for a beating - even with their consent. "Maybe one of the NEWTs kids," she mumbles to herself. But that doesn't sit well, either.

"I'll have't make sure Rhye knows," Annie says to Graham, "She's not mentioned it, so I wonder if she doesn't. How lovely for him." Despite the sincere sentiment, there's a wistfulness at thought of a wedding. Her attention settles on Brandy, taking in all the suggestions, mulling them over. "Th'food would be plenty easy. I'm sure I could do most of those, but no, I don't want t'ask any of the students t'do anything rash, just t'hope t'get it out." The camera itself is obvious, but she's probably just sneaky enough to accomplish something with it. She just has to take care not to be seen.

"Yeah, gotta be quite careful there." Graham winces at the thought of the changes he's heard about and who knows how much worse they could get if they think their backs are being pressed to the wall. "Just be careful yourself Annie. I know your quite capable of course but who knows if threatened what devilry Flint will try to devise given whats happened so far."

"I'd hate to lose our inside girl. If Flint does anything more than that - he's an idiot," Brandy answers. "But yeah. It would be very easy to incite the right student into something… stupid. And then no guarantee to even catch it with the camera." She shakes her head. "But damn if we couldn't use a good shot, huh?"

"I hadn't really thought he'd do anything but fire me," Annie says, concern in her voice and the pull of her brows. "I can't say, actually, with my pedigree, if that'd put me in worse shape. An' th' students…" She stops, having a quick ponder, before looking to Graham, "D'yeh think I should be brushin' up on a few spells t'defend myself, just in case? Or t'defend someone else if it comes t'it."

Graham he looks to Brandy nodding "Yes he is but we already knew that." The auror says but takes another drink looking towards Annie as she speaks "I am probably being an over-worryer Annie. I don't even think he'd be that stupid to try and do more than fire you, but if you'd like i'll help refresh you on some defensive spells." he offers easily taking the moment to grab a chip or two while he's pondering.

"Can't help to practice," Brandy agrees. "You could sign up as an extra advisor for Dueling Club couldn't you? And assistant advisor? Could get come practice in there, and help prepare the kids to look after themselves. …let's focus on defensive spells, though." She finishes off her whiskey then adds, "but I bet you'll find plenty of tutors outside of school. And like I said - he'd be an idiot to do anything." She falls silent as the server arrives, finally bringing Bailey's stew and apologizing for the wait.

There's a thoughtful nod as Annie looks at this new facet. "Aye, I'd appreciate that if yeh have some time, Graham," she says, looking to him, then away to the fireplace to think again. "I could ask Tim t'help me refresh some as well." Although why she'd ask a photographer, who knows. "It might not hurt t'look in on the dueling club sometime. It's never been my strong point, so I'd best work on it." She's going 'behind enemy lines' on a regular basis, doing covert sneaky things, and who knows what tempers could flare were she to be found out. Not likely, but the thought isn't exactly comforting.

"Of course I have time, and no any practice doesn't hurt. I miss dueling club. I've always wanted to do one of those guest lectures but perhaps when things have gone back to making sense there." Graham he looks to Annie "Of course, any training would be of help. I am no the end of the line for training by any means just a bookish Ravenclaw." he pats the book with the faded cover he'd been reading.

Brandy digs into her stew as the two talk about self defense, and takes a sip of her fresh whiskey. "I know the tripping jinx," she offers helpfully between mouthfuls.
Of course she does.

"I'll ask around," Annie says decisively. "Better t'be prepared an' not need t'be, than need t'be prepared an' be caught out. I think th' tripping jinx would well come in handy, Brandy, ta. I'll take all the resources I c'n muster." There's a smile with this, easing her own tension. Whatever happens will happen, or it won't. Life is just as simple as that sometimes.

Graham looks back to Brandy "I saw that actually in umbar, that evening was a good cast as the man tried to scamper." The auror says complimentary to her attempt to help bring the man down. He looks back to Annie "That is a sensible way to look at it really."

"Didn't get him, though," Brandy says dryly. "And after he pulled that… stuff out of his pocket, I half hoped he'd gotten away instead." She shakes her head and frowns, then hides it behind another big bite of stew. "Happy to show it to you anytime," she offers Annie after she swallows. "Only works on folks who're in motion though, as a warning."

Filing the tip in her head, Annie murmurs, "In motion. Right." She sighs softly, "Cor, can't say that I expected my return t'Hogwarts t'be so… eventful. Can't wait until things settle back t'normal." If they ever will. It isn't going to be easy to wrest power away from those who wield it poorly. Again, the comparison of Flint and Hitler enters Annie's mind.

"You reacted though didnt freeze up, that's what counts. Everyones spells go wide even auror's." Graham says gently and means himself of course when he speaks about spells going wide. He looks to Annie and gives a half smile "It is a tough time to be there to be certain, but castle's lucky to have you there at the moment."

"I hoped he'd done it. I'd hoped…" He'd been the proof to free Thomas, not tighten the noose. Brandy shakes her head slightly, then her eyes flick to Annie as she speaks of things getting back to normal. "You and me both," she agrees softly. Things have just gone to hell over the last month and a half. Picking up the lid to her bread bowl, she tears off a piece, dipping it into the stew.

Done sipping her drink for now, Annie tips her glass back, easily putting away half of the remaining ale. It seems to have an extra bitterness now, or perhaps that's just the taste of the reality they're dealing with, each having their own issues. She falls silent for a few moments, contemplating learning new spells and brushing up on those she already knows that she might eventually need.

"I know Brandy, I have did myself, but trust me we're not all dazzled by the smoke and mirrors show. Evidence rarely just jumps out like that." Graham doesnt say too much but this is just common sense after all. "Good people still exist and that means things will get better, it may take a while to fix everything but I know it will happen."

"I never saw those before. Ever," Brand insists in a quiet voice. "Did you guys ever figure out where those came from? If they were even his to begin with?" Maybe they were purchased and engraved solely to frame him? She lets out a heavy sigh, poking at her stew with another piece of bread.

What is she going to write to Thomas about the damned shop?

In her silence, Annie has worked steadily at her ale, and tips back the last of it, leaving a bit of foam at the bottom of the glass as she taps it down onto the table. She makes movements to stand, waiting for a likely pause to interject, "I think I'll be after havin' a walk back at Hogsmeade, get some fresh air. Brandy, I'll try an' track down young Sampson. Graham, it's been lovely t'see yeh again." Best to leave them to resume their conversation, even Annie can see it's important. And she's just a little light headed, so a walk will do her good. After goodbyes are said, she heads for the fireplace, to floo home.

Brandy looks up as Annie gets up to leave, giving her a tight smile. "Thanks Annie. He's… he might need an adult in his life right soon, more than ever, and he might be right furious with me." Because that's just what Annie needs. More dumped in her lap. Making a face she remarks, "Just to be safe, don't tell him I sent you."

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