(1939-09-18) A Brandy with Brandy
Details for A Brandy with Brandy
Summary: Tash, Brandy, and Rena talk about the Muggle-born students and their prospects.
Date: 18 September, 1939
Location: Three Broomsticks Pub, Hogsmeade
Plot: Headmaster from Hell

Brandy did her best to arrange things - arriving a bit early to pour three glasses of her father's /top shelf/ whiskey and array them on the table. One for her, one for Rena, and one for the 'Professor.' The third drink is left in front of an empty seat, that should position Tash in prime position for the evening's evesdropper - while keeping her out of his direct line of vision.

As the time for Tash's arrival draws close, not getting started on her cup of whiskey is becoming an increasingly large challenge for poor Brandy, who's beginning to feel assailed by a case of nerves. What if they don't get anything interesting enough to for publication out of this? What if she's wasted her entire opportunity to visit the school? …what if he doesn't even show!

Rena began the evening, somewhat flighty and feather-brained, her mind seemingly scattered to the four winds. However, as time wore on, she began to sober down and slip into a more level-headed attitude. Now, she sits primly and properly in her seat, letting her eyes wander around the Three Broomsticks with a sense of longing. "If he don't show up soon, can't I /please/ play the piano?" She begs of Brandy. Perhaps the giddiness hasn't entirely worn off, judging by her fidgiting.

Not far away, another woman sits in a booth by herself, slowly nursing some Fire Whiskey. She's a pleasantly plump little woman, smartly dressed and peering over a pair of glasses at a notebook. She has a quill in hand, and appears to be jotting down thoughts as she whiles away the evening.

The rooms seems to get a little brighter at the entrance of the unforgettable Tasciovanus Burke. In the short time he has lived at the castle, he has become a well-known face around Hogsmeade, and particularly in the Three Broomsticks. He hangs up his cloak, and offers smiles and handshakes to several wizards as he drifts in. He gives the head wench behind the bar a wink, "'Ello, Tessa. Always a pleasure. Listen, I'm supposed to meet-…" He follows Tessa's pointing finger to the table where Brandy awaits him with — what's this? Another pretty lady? It is Tash's lucky day! He saunters over and gives a little wave of greeting. "Look at this! A drink ready for me and everything? You're a dream." He slides casually into the empty seat, picking up the drink and lifting it in toast. "Cheers!" He takes a swig, then gestures with both hands to the ladies, beaming an enormous white smile. "Miss Sweetwater, how 'bout you introduce your friend."

Brandy looks at Rena with her eyebrows going up a little. "Well. There's a chance we may wander over that way even if he does show up, Rena," she answers with some amusement, before giving into the call of whiskey enough to allow herself a sip.

"Tash," Brandy greets Tasciovanus as he arrives, flashing him one of her broad and friendly smiles. "I hope you don't mind - we happened to run into each other, and we never get enough time to catch up. Rena Odori, this is Tasciovanus Burke. He's helping my students at Hogwarts, this year."

Rena's gaze drifts over to meet with Tascuivanus when he arrives, and she flashes a big, warm smile at the newcomer that's just full of sunshine and bubbly friendliness. "'Ello!" She says cheerfully. "I'm awfully glad to meet you, sure as sure. And glad to know you've been 'elping the poor students at 'Ogwarts. 'Eaven knows they need it this year more than ever." Despite the grimness of that statement, the warmth remains in her features. She really may be in an entirely too good of a mood, all things considered. Hopefully the potion effects will continue to wear off in time.

As for the other woman, she inclines her head slightly when Tash arrives on the scene. Crossing one leg over the other nonchalantly, she sits back and listens without appearing to be listening. Just a writer here, soaking in the atmosphere - nothing interesting to see.

Tasciovanus waves off Brandy's concern, clearly not minding Rena's presence one bit. "Yeah, the kids seem to be under a lot of stress this year. I don't remember it being like that when I was at Hogwarts." Tash shrugs with a sigh, though his smile remains overwhelmingly bright. "But I am so excited to be able to help them out. Did Brandy tell you what I'm teaching? It's this class for the students who have special challenges. It's really gratifying work. I think this might be my favourite job ever."

"I don't know how you do it. It must be such a challenge, with so many different ages of students in the room. How do you keep the older children engaged?" Brandy asks, picking up her glass for another sip. She's going to have to pace herself - she wants to stay mostly sober for this conversation.

"Oh! I didn't know you were the teacher of the S.C.U.M.S. class," Rena exclaims, somewhat surprised… whether she's lying or not is debatable. She may have actually forgotten over the duration of waiting for Tash to arrive.

"Since I was a Muggleborn student back when I were in school, naturally the whole thing's really interesting to me. I would love to learn more about what goes on in the class and 'ow you manage to teach the students - as Brandy says. What with so many different age groups to deal with. It must be rather like the old days in one-room school 'ouses like they 'ave in America."

Well, at least she's clear headed enough to be coherent. That's a good sign - for now. Unfortunately, she's still being a cheery little chatterbox.

Tasciovanus takes a heavy quaff of his whiskey, nodding approvingly at the glass afteward. "That's fantastic stuff. So, yeah, it's hard with the mixed class, but I like a good challenge. The older students have actually been a big help in taking care of the younger ones. Which is great, you know? I think that's an important life lesson. Responsibility, and all that. But I have material to teach them, too."

"I'm glad you like it. It's from my da's distillery. See? Sweetwater, right here on the label," Brandy can't help but point out. She's inordinately proud of the family business. She takes a sip from her own glass, before continuing on topic. "What sort of material? Seems like very… practical stuff, from what I saw today," she remarks.

It was the only polite word she could think of. 'Practical.'

Rena toys idly with her own glass of whiskey before working up the courage to take a sip. The harder the alcohol, the rougher it usually goes on her… and the less she has to drink to get drunk. She is a terrible lightweight - and half the wizarding world in England probably knows that by now. But still, the little redhead smiles, lifts the glass to the others and sips. It takes a good deal of effort not to make an "It Burns!" face as she swallows, but she manages.

"Pr..*ahem* Practical?" Rena asks with a vague squint, tilting her head a little as she recovers.

Tash rubs his chin thoughtfully, then nods. "Practical. Yeah, I suppose that's one way to put it. The magic is pretty simple stuff. Very direct, you know? Very task-oriented. The idea is to give these kids a solid foundation of useful skills, so they'll always have job opportunities later on, even if they can't pass N.E.W.T.s or something."

"So was it a problem before - these kids not passing their N.E.W.T.s?" Brandy asks with some puzzlement. "You must have some of the half-blooded kids too - the ones who were floundering in their classes?" She wouldn't dare suggest pure-bloods. Oh, no.

Rena takes the bottle of whiskey and pulls the top off of it. "Brandy, Tash's glass ain't full anymore," she jokingly scolds as she pours the nice man another shot: "Teachers 'ave a rough job and deserve to unwind after hours! Especially Mister Tash, given 'is job." She says all of this with a cute smile. For now, she's letting Brandy do the question asking. Despite the grin, in the back of her mind, something far more sinister is taking shape. She had to struggle, tooth and nail through blood, sweat and tears… many, many tears to get through school. But by god, she did it on her own - and she came out, standing on her own two feet.

Tasciovanus gives an unconcerned shrug. "I suppose there must be some half-bloods in my class. I don't ask. That sort of thing doesn't matter to me." For a brief moment, his smile falters, but he quickly puts it back on and gives another shrug. "I just know these kids need my help. I mean, I guess they were having trouble with their N.E.W.T.s. The older ones, I mean. I don't get to see their old test scores. Something about confidentiality."

"Oh how terribly remiss of me! Thank you, Rena!" Brandy exclaims, flashing her friend a bright smile, before looking back towards Tash. "Well - that's strange. I'd think a teacher would need access to their records - to really be able to help them," she responds, her brow furrowing slightly. "It would save you all the time and bother of doing placement testing - to see where they are all, in their skills."

Rena perks slightly at Tash's admission that blood status doesn't mean a thing to him. Brandy's still the one with the know-how on what she ought to be asking the gentleman in question. If she opens her big mouth right now, she might botch things by saying something unduly negative and spiteful about the mistreatment of Muggle-borns happening right under Tash's nose.

Instead, Rena smiles and raises her glass to Tash and smiles, interrupting only briefly: "'Ere's to common sense and not giving a fig about purity."

Tasciovanus lifts his glass, clinking it to Rena's before taking another generous drink. "It'd be nice to have the records," he says to Brandy, "But those are the rules. They're all sealed up. It's alright, though. My students and I have this…this bond. Know what I mean? I've gotten this sense for all of 'em. So I can just sort of feel what they need. It's pretty great."

Just feels what they need? Brandy's hand tightens around her cup, and her smile simply slips away. This idiot is teaching her kids? She's about ready to let fly with a scathing remark when she 'saves' herself by downing a good sized swig of her whiskey instead.

"Out of curiosity," Rena says after a moment, "How exactly did you manage to land this job of teaching the S.C.U.Ms class at school?" It's an innocent enough question, but the little redhead is perceptive enough to tell that Brandy is less than happy right now, and they may not be getting anywhere useful in their conversation thus far. "Also, I was wondering if you 'ad any kinds of problems with discipline in the classroom, since everyone seems to be thinking these kids are so challenged."

"Oh, that's all my uncle. He's great. He's gotten me all kinds of jobs. I was pretty surprised about this one, but he said I'd be perfect for it. So, here I am!" Tash grins happily, tossing back another swig of whiskey in honour of his uncle. "But, discipline. Well…a little. Not too many problems, really. Mostly just some kids with some loud opinions. But, you know, I think it's important for kids to express themselves. Maybe that's why they've had problems. Too many thoughts in their heads that weren't allowed to get out."

Brandy shoots Rena a grateful look for taking the attention off of her for a moment, and takes another, smaller sip of the whiskey. She cannot lose it here - because her kids are depending on her to fix this mess. She refills her glass and Tash's before she tries to speak again.

"I was just wishing I had such an understanding teacher," she remarks, lying through her teeth. It could be worse she reminds herself - they could be stuck in a room with a teacher who hates them and mistreats them. "Here's what I don't understand," she remarks. "They're all studying from just one text book for the entire year? Do you bring in any other enrichment work - maybe pull in some of the simpler things from the regular classes?"

Tasciovanus takes another heavy quaff of whiskey before he answers. "I…um…I'm not really allowed to use materials from other classes. The curriculum is pretty strict, especially about learning actual wandwork." Tash rubs the back of his neck, giving Brandy and Rena as encouraging a smile as he can muster, but it has diminished some as the conversation turns more serious.

"Restricted?" Brandy asks, allowing herself to look appauled by this. "Whatever for? If you, as the teacher, judge them to be ready… Why, it seems only natural. That must be simply galling for you." She tries to sound as sympathetic as possible. He's a nice fellow, she reminds herself.

"Well," Tash says, now nursing his whiskey, "To be honest, I'm still gettin' my bearings as a teacher. This is my first professor gig, after all. But…yeah, I suppose it's been frustrating. A few of the students seem pretty capable. But I figure they're in my class for a reason, right? Wouldn't it be cruel to give them more than they can handle? It's like setting them up to fail. I'd feel awful if I did that to them."

"For the record," Rena pipes up again after a while, once more toying with her glass coyly and keeping her attitude positive: "If you find students have an aptitude above and beyond the SCUMS class, do you get to move them along to higher classes, then?" It's an interesting thought. After all, why would they be forcibly held back if they showed abilities equal or greater than other more "advantaged" students.

Tasciovanus stares at Rena with a blank expression. "Uh…you know, I'll have to ask about that." He gives a mirthless smirk, dropping his eyes shamefully to his drink.

'Ey, none of that, Mister Tash!" Rena says. The very moment his chin drops, she reaches over and puts a friendly arm across his shoulder, patting his arm with her other hand warmly: "You're new at this - and just getting yourself acquainted with the ropes. Everybody's new at something sometime in their life, yea? Chin up." She just can't abide making people unhappy. Hopefully that little encouraging pep-talk does the trick before she resumes sitting all ladylike in her own seat.

"Might be worth your while," Brandy agrees. "Tash - I can tell you care about these kids as much as I do - and it warms my heart, really." Well. What it does is keeps her from flying into a rage. Which is very useful right now. "I'm glad they have someone looking out for them. But I can't help but think there's been some sort of mistake made.

"You have Gabriel Ward in your class - he's one of my kids, you see. And I keep an eye on my students' progress, to make sure they're adjusting well to the wizarding world and- well. The boy's never gotten below an A. It's mostly E's and O's, really, and glowing reports from his teachers. The boy's talented - plans on being a healer." She shakes her head sadly. "It must be an oversight. The wrong paper shuffled into the pile, I'm sure."

Rena's encouragement and the recognition from Brandy nudge Tash back to a more genuine smile — though more muted than before, and not merely from a bit too much to drink. "Gabe's great, yeah. But…really? He's that good? Maybe…uh…maybe he was having disciplinary problems? He's one of those outspoken ones I told you about. Not shy about his opinion, that kid. But don't get me wrong, I love havin' him. He really gets the other kids talkin'. You should've heard this theory he had on the origins of magic. There were exploding puffskiens involved! Fantastic stuff."

"He's… a mischevous sort, my Gabe, that I can tell," Brandy relents. "But is that really any reason for him to be robbed of his chance to be a healer? He's only a third year - but it seems to me he's got a lot of promise if he keeps up the effort. The mischief, well. That he ought to just grow out of in a few years. Of course, you don't have to take my word for it. You could ask Viridian, or Dumbledore. I'm sure they'd know better than I." What if, she wonders hopefully, they can turn this fellow onto their side? Now that would be a coup.

"Yeah, but…" Tash nibbles at his lip as he tries to figure out just what he's trying to say. "Why couldn't he still be a healer? He'll take his N.E.W.T.s. He'll just do it in S.C.U.M.S. I promise, I'll give him the attention he needs. That's the whole point of S.C.U.M.S. — to give the personal attention these kids need so they can…y'know, achieve their potential."

"But I thought you said you were restricted," Brandy asks, her brows furrowing. "Particular in the wandwork you can teach him. He'd be practically crippled by that - no fault of your own, of course - applying to St. Mungo's without proper wandwork instruction, though… Well…" She shakes her head slightly. "I'm sure if you looked into it - Dumbledore and Viridian would be happy to have him back in their classes. He's just so talented at Charms and Transfigurations."

Tasciovanus slumps back in his chair, groaning quietly. "I dunno. It's like you said, I'm restricted. Got my hands tied. Headmaster Flint seems like he's got a pretty specific vision for the class. Then there's my uncle. He's…not the kind of man you want to upset. He's got these eyes." He squints his eyes up in an effort to emulate a steely stare, but it comes off looking more sleepy than intimidating. "I want to do more. I like this job. I really like it. I don't wanna lose it."

"And I should hate to see that happen to you, Tash, I really would," Brandy answers, looking concerned. "You really think you could be sacked - just over asking if a student's placement is appropriate? I mean, I know we're talking about your livelyhood here - but I'm sure you see that Gabriel's education and his future - well. It's my primary concern. Surely we can sort something out. The wizarding world needs all the healers it can get!"

"I've been sacked for less," Tash mumbles, then gives Brandy a half-hearted smirk. "Have you ever met my uncle? He can be downright scary when he wants to be. I don't know. Maybe I wouldn't get sacked for just askin'. I've just learned better than to question him."

"I'm afraid he joined the school after I'd graduated," Brandy remarks. "So I don't think we've had the pleasure, no." She takes another sip of her whiskey. "Perhaps a word with Viridian or Dumbledore first - before you approach your Uncle, or the Headmaster?" she suggests. "It might be enlightening - and help you find the best way to approach the matter. After all, looking out for your students and doing the best you can for them - that's part of a teacher's job. And perhaps you could pull your students aside year by year, and ask them to demonstrate the knowledge and abilities they already have? Might eat up a bit of your class time, but it could be so valuable to your instruction. Really help you hone in on their individual needs."

Tasciovanus nods along to Brandy's words, slowly at first, but with increasing assurance. "You know what? You're right. These kids are my responsibility, right? I mean, how can I teach them responsibility if I won't show it?" He sighs heavily, and takes an equally heavy drink, finishing off his glass. "They're countin' on me to make sure they get exactly what they need. I'll do it. I'll talk to Dumbledore…because Viridian's kinda scary."

"He can be, can't he?" Brandy agrees with a laugh. "I never had any problems with him myself but - well. I could see it." She smiles at Tash, this one more relaxed and genuine. He's said enough to make a right-interesting article, in her mind, and if she's actually opened his eyes enough - that could be the real coup of the evening. "You've got my complete support, you know, and anytime you need a friendly ear or advice, my door'll be open to you. I live right here in Hogsmeade, you know."

Tasciovanus perks right up. "Yeah? So…maybe we could have a drink again…and not talk about work?" He gives her that big, sparkling white grin, his eyebrow lifting hopefully.

The question catches Brandy a bit off guard - and she actually pauses a moment to consider it. But- hell, why not? He's nice enough, seems well-intentioned… and could always let something else useful slip, even when she isn't trying to interrogate him. "Sure," she agrees. "Why not? And…" she takes a sip of her whiskey, "I'll even let you keep what ever's left of this bottle when we're done. Hardworking fellow like yourself deserves it."

Tasciovanus balls up his fists in a little seated dance of victory. "Bloody fantastic. Sooo, how about we meet here again," he ponders for a moment, then names a date, "and this time, you get to tell me about you. But now I'd better get back to the castle. Got to try to track down Dumbles." He rises to his feet, gripping the edge of the table for a moment. "Whoa…heh. Drank a little more than I thought. That's good stuff." He nods to the bottle.

"My da' only makes the best," Brandy says with deeply ingrained Sweetwater pride. "I'll see you then. And Tash? Keep an eye on Sampson for me, will you? Poor kid got some bad news today. And thanks." Picking up the bottle, she holds it out to Tasciovanus, offering the man a smile.

Doubtlessly, Rena adds her own cherry farewells to the mix.

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