1995-09-04: A Horrid Host


Eleanor_icon.gif Jack_icon.gif

Scene Title A Horrid Host
Synopsis Jack runs into Eleanor in the Post office, and he talks to her.
Location Post office, High Street, Torchwood Offices
Date Sep 4, 1995
Watch For It's Jack!

Eleanor's form comes into existence with a faint pop, the displacement of air playing harbinger to her arrival just outside the post office. Being stationed in Hogwarts to assist with the increase in security after the attack on the other school, going back to the city was largely impractical. Hogsmeade was pretty close by and, as apparating goes, closer was infinitely safer especially since one needed to leave the grounds to do it in the first place.
Shaking off the mild disorientation quickly, the young woman makes a swift survey of her surroundings with a sweep of her gaze and then pivots on her foot towards the door of the post office. Reaching for the handle of the building, she gives it a swift tug.

Standing inside the Post Office, Icarus Noble, Jack to most everyone who knows him, stands, holding a box in his hand. He appears dazed, and his eyes are red-rimmed and show the bags of one who hasn't slept much if at all. He gazes down at the box as if it holds the answer to some deep riddle. When he registers the sound of the door opening, he looks up, not recognizing the woman who enters. "Excuse me." He finally realizes he's standing in the woman's way. "Jilly," There's a quiet, ironic humor in his words. "Order up!

Eleanor's eyes flicker over the occupants of the building out of habit and then to the exits as her rubber soled boots take her through the breach inside of the building. Her hand slides along the wooden door until she's far enough inside to be unable to reach it anymore, allowing it to shut against the weather with a dull thud. The woman's a little warm, it would seem, skin flushed at the edges and a small shimmer of perspiration at the hairline. Her clothing wasn't particularly appropriate for casually walking about after all.
The woman behind the counter receives Eleanor's scrutiny first, her eyes lifting from the midsection visible up to her facial features. The brown haired man is eyeballed next as she angles to the side to an arbitrary owl, one that can carry a relatively large parcel out to Coventry. That gaze is also momentarily fleeting. Reaching up, she stands on her tiptoes to try and reach for a scruffy looking thing but finds her reach lacking. Huffing idly, she decides to press up against the flat of the cage, unhooking it. Unfortunately, the creature within takes protest to this sudden change in gravity and flaps furiously, sending the cage teetering out of Eleanor's hands and crashing to the ground. With her hands remaining the in the air, her head begins to slowly come to the level, lips slowly curling into a sheepish grin. "Err, oops."

Jack's protective and gallant nature kicks in to gear, and he sets his package down, turning to grab the cage that the woman has dropped. "Here you go." He sets it into place and tilts his head. "I'm not sure I've met you yet. Jack Noble." Where normally, there would be an eyebrow waggle and an attempt to charm, this Jack just gives a mild smile that almost reaches his eyes. "Need to be a little more careful." He brushes his hand off, and then turns back to his package. It's rather large. He's about to pick it up again when he stops, and turns back to Eleanor. "Do you need some help?"

Fortunately, the owl had flown the coop and lands in a feathery plop near to Eleanor's feet, hooting in a curiously annoyed sounding way. She finally allows her arms to slump to her side, head twisting to meet his own blue eyes for a moment. "Yet?" She questions quizzically, head tilting to the side in some incredulous way. Eventually, she dismisses the curiousity with a gentle shake and drops down to one knee to coax the bushy looking owl towards her with a gentle coo and a wave of her hands towards it. As the winged creature reluctantly skitters towards her, she takes a moment to steal another glance of the man. "Elie," she replies flatly, offering a gentle grin before returning her attention to the owl. The leather of her jacket makes a reasonable talon guard and she allows the creature to take up residence on her arm before rising to her feet. Stepping forward, she moves in beside Jack and encourages the owl to step off. "Should be okay, thanks." Her eyes flick over to the parcel. "Someone's birthday?"

Jack shakes his head slowly, returing the handshake easily. "No, not exactly." He leans against a section of wall free from cages. "I - I had to come home quickly, and a friend had my things sent back for me." There's a shakiness to his voice. "I'm sorry. It's just been a hell of a week." He gives her a slights smile. "What about you? Birthday delivery?"

Eleanor listens for a moment, her visage focused on the man's before she returns to the bird and runs a finger through its feathers. "No, not exactly either," she says gently, mimicking his own statement deliberately, adding a quick glance and a flicker of a smile. She reaches to her side and unpops a pouch on her belt to produce a plain looking paper package wrapped tightly in twine. "Returning something to my father," she explains while setting it down on the table. She reaches up with her hand and scratches gently behind the ears of the owl, much like a cat, eliciting an irritated flutter of feathers and a grin from the woman. "Not sure I'd want to live in Hogsmeade, barmy place. No offense intended of course. Courses for horses and all that."

Jack chuckles, cheered up somewhat by this young lady. "Oh, I like living here. There's something to be said for the delicate art of avoiding the littlest ones and talking to the older ones. It made it extremely easy to keep track of my — " He stops mid-sentence, and inhales sharply, closing his eyes. "Forgive me. I just heard some bad news yesterday. Hence the parcel and quick travel." He runs a hand over his face. It's obvious he's attempting to avoid talking about it for now. "Did you like coming aack here when you were in school? I think Zonko's was my favorite."

Eleanor doesn't seem to pay too much mind to the man's evasion of the subject, instead engrossed with the owl in front of her for the most part. Old memories perhaps. The young woman tilts her hips to one side away from the man, eliciting a gentle whine from the fabric of her clothing. The owl, starting to realize that it wasn't going to have to fly away for at least a little bit of time settles down and pushes its head deeper into the down of its feathers. Her attention flicks back to the man along with her eyes and she offers him an idle shrug of her shoulders.
"It's all sort of fuzzy really," she replies, still showing the whites of her teeth as she pauses at the end of the sentence. "Lots of pressure to succeed and whatnot taking up most of my time. Not really the full of beans type to go fannying about the villages." She pivots her body at this point, elbow resting on the counter to face the man. "I take it you were a student as well, Mr. Noble?"

"Jack. Please." Jack says, nodding. "Yes, I was a student. It's been a little while, but I did grace those halls for the full seven years." He chuckles wyrly. "Very different times for sure." He nods slowly at the other parts of her words, giving a soft snort. "That sounds more like my elder brother Liam than me. I was the … entertaining one." He grins and straightens up again. "There are — there were seven of us."

Eleanor allows an arbitrary acknowledgment to escape her throat as her eyes avert and one edge of her mouth pulls up into an awkward expression. "Sorry to hear that," she starts, slowly lifting her eyes back from the table to meet the man. "I'd be absolutely gutted if anything happened to my mum or pa." Unfortunately, the reality was she was more likely to end up in the obituaries of the Prophet than they were. The thought has her heart skipping a beat and her mood visibly darkens for a moment, brow furrowing and eyes becoming distant. The young woman shakes it off and allows a placid grin to settle on her features once again. "Bit of a trickster were we?"

"Thank you Miss… Elie." Jack smiles an acknowledgment and agrees. "I am." Gutted, that is. "It was my youngest … my only sister." He closes his eyes, and then opens them again, deciding to focus on the more pleasant things. "I was a bit, yes. Well, when your idols are the Great Marauders themselves, you can't help it much, can you?" His smile becomes more like the cheeky grin he normally wears.

Eleanor's mind was wandering through the possibilities. Dying young typically meant a violent end but she certainly wasn't of the mind to press into details - even if she was curious. Her entire career was built around violent ends after all. Plenty of death to go around. Straightening off of the counter, she takes the now idle arm and uses the hand to stroke the soft feathers of the napping owl. It seems to tolerate this for the moment, only ruffling slightly at her initial touch. The young woman fixes the man a wide grin at the mention of the Marauders, her eyes alighting with some piece of recaptured naive youth. "A fellow Gryffindor then?" Her tone carries with it some joy in finding a like-minded individual.

Jack speaks offhandedly. "No, Rosie was a Slytherin, actually. Surprised us all. I mean, it shouldn't have, but …" Then, a sheepish grin crosses his face. "Oh. You meant me. Yeah. I was Gryff. So were Mick and Liam. Pete was a 'Claw, and …" There's a wide grin. "And Brian's a 'Puff." They're a well-rounded family.

Eleanor arches an eyebrow at being fed so much information so readily. These days, it seemed more than others, people were far more protective about such things. And rightly so. "Quite the hodgepodge!" She replies with some enthusiasm, maintaining her energetic visage. "Must be nice to have such a full family really." Her mood darkens again, expression going sour and attention shifting to the bird napping contentedly. The sister thing was still eating away at her. "I hope she passed easily," the young woman eventually allows, keeping her gaze fixated away from the man. Curiousity killed the cat after all.

In Jack's mind, such things are common knowledge. If they aren't, they darn well ought to be. There is a little bit of the old superiority in his thinking, but not because of blood. They're better because of their sense of family. He grins. "We are quite the mix." The owl gets a look or two before Eleanor's last words get a solid gaze. "Actually, I have no clue how she died." He frowns. "I was out of country. I'd like to find out, though." He appears to be pretty intent on that course of action. Something seems to strike him. "What do you do, Elie?" He is curious as well.

Eleanor rustles the owl a bit, rousing it from its slumber where it eyeballs her in annoyed fashion and stretches out its beak. She lifts up her parcel and waggles it in front of the owl, drawing its attention. She frowns almost immediately at the mention of not knowing the cause of death of his sister. Magic made the world far more complicated than it needed to be. "Ministry," she replies and then leans in to whisper into the owl's ear, being decidedly vague about her specific profession. "Yourself, Jack?" She turns her head to regard the man for a moment as the owl wraps its talons about the parcel.

Jack nods, though the answer isn't that telling. "I'm a free-lance cursebreaker." He nods toward his office. "Torchwood offices, just up the road a bit." He smiles at the interplay between her and the owl. "There are more alert ones." Maybe she has a reason to pick this particular critter.

Eleanor scratches the owl one last time before it takes a lunging hop and takes to the air. With a few powerful pulls of its wings it lifts and disappears through the portal in the roof of the building and out into the early evening air. The woman takes a moment to reach into one of the pouches and produces a couple galleons to pay for the owl's service. Jack receives a sidelong glance and a wry grin before a shrug punctuates her thoughts on the notion. "He'll get it to where it needs to go," she states matter-of-factly, dropping the coins on the table with a gentle clink of metal on metal. She pivots on the ball of her foot to face the man, her weight shifting to favor the leg that doesn't carry the wand. "Cursebreaker is an honest profession and daresay needed if you ask me." She tilts her head towards the door. "I'd like to take a walk about the village, getting a tad bit stuffy. Maybe you could show me where the office is?"

Jack nods, and will extend one arm, then, ruefully reaches down to grab his package. "Of course I would." He offers the empty arm again, and grins. He'll wait for her response, and in the meantime, he calls back to Jilly. "Later, Gale!" It's a friendliness borne of years of knowing each other. "So, what department do you work in, if you don't mind me asking?"

Eleanor glances down at the arm but doesn't take it, instead affording the man nothing more than a toothless smile and a cocked head. She takes the first stride, pivoting towards the door and allowing her boots to devour the distance in a couple steps. Stiff-arming the door open, she breaches the barrier and makes the about-face to watch as Jack likely follows, holding the door open for himself. "Em el ee," she replies, finally caving in to more specifics. He seemed friendly enough after all, but it was difficult to tell who was a servant of the Dark and who wasn't.

"So, you either work with Faulkner," Jack begins, mentioning a Hit-Wizard friend, "or you work with Phoenix." Who is an Auror. "Damn. Phoenix. Does he…" He shakes his head, tilting slightly at the refused arm, but leads her on toward his offices. "Phoenix." He needs to remember that. "Sorry, just so much I have to do." He clenches his fist for a moment, then releases it, attempting to drain the stress out of his muscles. "Be careful, though. I think there are a couple people there who are …" He frowns. "Aren't as supportive of things as they ought to be." Without outright asking where she stands, that's the easiest way for the man to say it. "It's up this way." He nods toward the corner.

Eleanor's brow arches involuntarily again, mouthing a name wordlessly before she catches herself and resumes a neutral expression. "Phoenix," she mutters, turning as he leaves the post office to walk astride the man, matching his face. Her hand idly touches the top of the holster for her wand. The other arm hangs limp and swings to and fro with each stride. "It's quite alright. I'd be a little wonky too if I had news like you did." Her eyes slide over the man, painted with a touch of sympathy that vanishes as she lifts her eyes up to the sky. "You know an Alistaire Phoenix?"

"Know him? Yeah. He roomed with Them." If Eleanor listens closely enough, she'll hear Jack put the capital tee on Them. "So, I got to know him pretty well." As well as a little boy dogging the steps of guys five years his senior. "Why? You know him?" He needs to talk to Alistaire. Quickly. Either to deliver news, or get some from him. "Can you tell him I need to talk to him, please?" He turns to face her, stopping nearly in the middle of the road, to gaze directly at her face for a moment. "It's really important." Thank goodness this is a wizarding town, and there aren't any cars.

Eleanor stops in time with the man, pivoting to stop with her hand still settled on the top of her wand and its holster. She eyes the man critically, studying his features, the lines in his face and blue eyes for a heartbeat. She bites her lower lip and then peers down the road at the other people hobbling about their business. "Last I checked," she intones, her head twisting to settle back on the man, "the Floo network still works and you can send an owl. Can't be that hard to send a message to someone." The young auror sniffs as if her nose was irritated. In a sense it was. This sort of thing always made the hairs on her neck stand on end.

"Yeah, I could. I could also send Junior." Jack's named his patronus. "In fact, that's probably the quickest way…." He grins, and conjures his patronus, and a small rabbit appears. "Hmmm. He's not as big as usual." Well, with how things stand, it's pretty good for him to be able to cast the spell at all. He whispers a message to Ali, and then Junior goes bounding off. "You're right. I shouldn't trust someone so easily." He's not thinking now. That much is clear. "Forgive me." He continues to walk toward the office. "Right up here." He waves his wand at the door, unlocking it, and opens it. "C'mon in."

Jack receives a slight narrowing of Eleanor's eyes, her icy blue orbs continuing to study and attempt to unravel the unknowns regarding his person and his mental status. Reflexively, her fingers curl about the leather holding the wand in place a little harder. Fortunately, the whine of the fabric straining is lost in the din of day to day Hogsmeade life. The patronus gives Eleanor a chance to reach out and brush along his magic as he conjures it, giving the young woman a sampling of whatever force of will he has at his command.

At his invitation, Eleanor hesitates for a moment and eventually accepts, willing her feet to carry her forward to the office and presumably inside. "How long have you been in the country, Jack?"

"Huh?" He steps inside the door, waiting for her to do the same. "In the country? Just now? Only overnight." And he had portkey-lag. Or travel-lag, anyay. "And didn't sleep much at that." He sets his package on his desk, and opens it, looking for something in particular. A small stuffed dragon is pulled out and placed atop his filing cabinet. "There you go, Myf." He turns back to Eleanor, and gestures to the chairs. "Have a seat, if you like."

Eleanor chooses not to sit and instead walks the perimeter of the office slowly, looking at various things. She doesn't touch anything specific and instead contents herself with hovering her palm just out of touch of things as she paces slowly about. At the rustling of the package the young woman peers over her shoulder to watch the stuffed dragon get produced. "Sentimental value?" She queries of it, nodding her head in the dragon's general direction before pausing in her stride and turning her body towards the man.

Jack nods. "I've had Myfawny since I was a small boy. But I put her out because it's a signal for someone." He's back in his office, and some of his sanity is remaining. And with it, some of his caution. "Can I interest you in something to eat or drink? I think Janet will have restocked things by now…" He smiles, attempting to be a good host.

Eleanor allows a gentle, audible snort to escape her nose as a smirk alights on her face. "Myfawny," she drawls, her attention flickering between the dragon and her stressed host. There was something very peculiar about the contrast between plushie and its owner. "I am a bit peckish." Not eating castle fare would be a nice diversion. "A signal for what, exactly?" As she asks, Eleanor slowly steps towards the nearest chair to rest her idle hand on the apex of its back.

Jack summons Janet, who happens to be a house elf. She brings a tray of sandwiches and pastries, and a pitcher of pumpkin juice. "Thank you, Janet." Jack is a nice, polite guy, most of the time. "There you go, Elie. Help yourself." He moves to sit down in his big chair behind the desk, grabbing a sandwich for himself. "If it's up there, then my secretary knows I'm in town. If it's not, then I'm out of town again. Then she can reach me either here, or at Mum's." Both parents live, but … the house is 'Mum's'

Eleanor fixes the house elf with a fleeting smile, toothless in its delivery. She wanders over to the tray, dragging her hand along the back of the chair as she goes until it falls to her side. The other hand remains steadfast on the wand - a security blanket of sorts especially when company is a little on the erratic side. Unfortunately, she's forced to part with it a moment to dole out a glass of the juice before it's allowed to return. "Interesting way of doing things," Eleanor states before taking a sip of the drink. Her tongue slides over her upper lip, taking in the sweetness and the chill of the liquid against the heat of this mid-July evening. "I take it you travel a lot then?"

"I do. I know there is a lot of work to do in wizarding Britain, but most of it is done by Gringotts or doesn't come up because the wizards or witches don't want it done." He shakes his head. "Or it's underwritten by slimeballs like that Borgin." Jack can't keep the disgust from his voice. "I'm sorry. He just sells so much stuff back into the population…" He sets down his sandwich and leans back into his chair, hands behind his head. "So, I go out of country. I've learned a lot on my travels, and get to do more work often. In fact, I was working on a big project in Romania when I got the news."

Eleanor wanders back over to the chair that she was at and leans up against its back rather than seating herself. Her elbows rest up against it, one arm lazily hanging down the spine of the chair and the other holding the glass aloft enough for her to sip at it casually as she sees fit. One leg bends, the toe of her boot finding purchase on the floor and tapping up and down idly from time to time. "Understandable," Eleanor replies in a neutral tone, taking a sip of her drink. "That alley really takes the biscuit when it comes to bleeding creepy." She tilts her head to one side abruptly, realigning her neck before levelling out her head again. "Is Romania really as full of vampires as they say it is?"

Jack is glad he's not drinking, cuz her last comment makes him laugh. "Yeah, there's plenty of Nightwalkers. But they're not the scary ones. They tend to stay in their own areas, and don't bother wizards as much. A first-year with a Lumos spell annoys them, so they tend to prey more on Muggles. But I don't deal much with them." With good reason. "No, the scary ones are the Dark Witches there. They get into some seriously creepy stuff. You think Knockturn's bad?" He quirks an eyebrow. "Those witches make knockturn look like High Street." He grins. "But yeah, you do have to think about the vampires somewhat. It's just … different."

Eleanor nods sharply, clearly carrying a bit of an interest in that sort of creepy crawly things. "The whole notion of blood drinking is just plain bonkers," she states, adding in a tidy, short-lived shiver for good measure. "Pretty serious and well-published weaknesses sort of take the bite of them, no pun intended." The young woman flashes her canines in a mock vampiric gesture, or at least her best approximation of one. "Cursebreaking always been your calling?"

Jack laughs again at her expression. "I vant to suck your blooood." He's seen too many vampire movies to take that expression too seriously." When she continues, he nods. "Yeah, it pretty much was. From the time old McG pulled out the little pamphlets until I got settled in it. I mean, when I was this tall," he holds his hand out to designate a fairly small boy, "I thought about an Auror or Minister for Magic, but that's all kids, isn't it?" He grins. "Then I realized what I enjoyed. Sure wasn't trying to catch people. It was the stuff they left behind."

Jack manages to coax a grin out of the young woman with his terrible impression and she visibly relaxes a little bit. The coiled muscle in Eleanor's back unfurls just enough to have her slouch a touch further forward on to the back of the chair. Averting her eyes for a moment to recover her composure, she takes a further sip of the glass of pumkin juice, leaving it half full. Her head bobs at his description and then her eyes slide back to focus on his person. "Kids stuff indeed. All glitz and glamor." She doesn't sound too convinced; her tone laced with something that may be interpretted as sorrow or regret. "Brill stuff, that helping people out. No shortage of work, I'm sure. Your family follow similar lines of work?"

Jack shrugs. "Not really. We're an old enough family that we have our own 'Family Business.' My eldest brother does that. Then, Mick works over at the Repair Zone," he nods toward the building across the way. "Basically fixing what I break. Or putting it back to rights without the evil parts." That merits another grin. "Then, Pete teaches. Although I'm not sure he… He had been Charms Teacher at Salem, but now he's back on English soil." So, it might be different what he's doing. "Brian plays quidditch for Balmoral, and Rosie…" He pauses. "Rosie wanted to be an Auror."

Eleanor listens intently, focusing on each name in turn cataloguing them. Her tongue nearly follows along, mimicing the movements of her memory as she shuffles information about as if studying for her OWLs. On the last name she falters, eyes flitting away to the floor and then to the dark corners of the room. "I really hope you find out what you came to learn about that," Eleanor states, her face carrying with it a pained smile that belied her own misgivings with her profession. "Nothing worse than the passing than not knowing how it came to be." Abruptly, she deattaches herself from the chair and wanders over to the tray, setting the glass down. Her attention focuses on the ring of condensation for the moment.

Jack nods, watching her gaze down at the ring on the tray. "Me too. I mean, I want to know how it happened. The witch who told me said it happened at Hogwarts. What the hell is that?" He stands now, safe in his own domain. "Have you heard anything about something happening at Hogwarts? I imagine it was a while ago by the things the woman said. She was rather surprised that I didn't know and wasn't already home. I'd sent her a letter, but she never replied…" His expression falls, and he gazes at the floor. "Of course, we'd been arguing about some things." Like how stupid he'd been.

Eleanor sniffs, pausing for a moment. Her right hand moves to her wand again, fingers coiling tightly about the smooth wood not unlike the bunching of her shoulders as she straightens to her full height once again. She turns on the ball of her foot, tilting her head to one side subtly and pulling her lips into a straight line. "I'm sorry but I can't help you with this," Eleanor's voice lilts, carrying with it a whisper-like quality. She steals a glance at the window, the sunlight waning. "I really should be going Mr. Noble. Was a pleasure meeting you and," she nods towards the glass, "much obliged for the refreshments."

"Oh, I'm sorry." He really is out of it. "I'm being a horrid host tonight." Jack nods. "It was pleasant to meet you, and I hope to see you again. You can take some of this, if you'd like…" He gestures to the tray. "Have a good evening. Maybe when we next meet, I'll be a little more coherent." He moves to his filing cabinet, and leans against it, providing a sense of distance that his words tonight haven't.

Eleanor allows a fleeting, toothless smile to creep on to her features before she lifts her idle hand to provide a curt wave. "Understandable." The young auror dismisses the offer of food with another jutting gesture of her hand. "Best of British to you and enjoy the evening." At this point, her boots devour the gap between herself and the door thudding along at a pace that is perhaps a touch too quick. Opening the door, the smells of dusk are allowed to waft in before Eleanor breaches the boundary of the abode and steps outside.

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