|Scene Title||Brick Walls and Strange Ideas|
|Synopsis||A chance encounter leads to discussion of the Department of Mysteries, Sirius Black, and leads Jack to do some plotting.|
|Date||Jul 13, 1994|
|Watch For||Jack confusing everyone, Sirius-bashing and well-used Department of Mysteries jokes.|
|Chronology||After the World Cup|
Are you certain you want to go this way? Dangerous dealings are known to go on in this narrow, dingy alleyway. Just as you enter, there's a shop selling poisonous candles with an old wooden sign hanging above it that reads, 'Knockturn Alley'. Across the alley is another shop with a display of shrunken heads in the window. A couple of doors down is a large cage filled with huge black spiders crawling over each other. Just as with Diagon Alley there are a few street vendors to be found, but from the looks of them, it's questionable as to how close you want to get in order to see what they're selling.
Knockturn Alley is as usual today. A few people on the street, a few vendors, a dozen shops that lead into seedy little places off the main road. Today the there's a new attraction, robed man that's hauled cart and shelves out onto the street. Candles are the order of the day, cylinders of all shapes and sizes with wicks set in their tops. Some are decorated, some not. Those that are on the cart and align belch forth a steady stream of inky smoke, the tendrils forming odd shapes as they cloud above. Animals, symbols, bones. Wade is one of those watches that lingers around the alleyway. He's preoccupied with the vendor, fingers rolling several small coins between fingers. Lips are set into one pensive little line, body swaying side to side in consideration.
Jack sighs as he steps down into the alley. Easily avoiding vendors and comers, it looks like Jack knows where he's going. For the most part, right. He moves hastily through, muttering to himself. "Why's she gotta have her shop down here…" He's not paying attention as much anymore, so he runs into Wade at an angle, bumping him. "Sh — I'm sorry." He shakes his head, and glances around.
The witches and wizards that haunt Knockturn Alley are generally the suspicious sort, so it's only natural that Edwin would try to be as invasive of the area as possible. It comes part and parcel with working for the Ministry's law enforcement branch. 'Off Duty' just means an opportunity to find work to do later - and so he's managed to stroll his way down the steps leading to the alley, though he's soon paused near the candle vendor to squint at the wares. Candles might be sinister, after all. Somehow. The minor collision nearby attracts the man's attention enough to turn his head, squinting at the two men involved.
Madeline is just out for a stroll down this delightful little side street; no really. Though there is, perhaps, a certain keenness as she peers at some of the wares that are in the windows or out on display on the carts that line the streets. She's dressed in the same unremarkable way, hair falling forward to curtain off her face. It doesn't leave her with a lot of peripheral vision, so she hasn't yet even noticed the familiar faces here - and besides, it doesn't always do a young witch good to be looking too openly at the others who wander down this way. Her path brings her towards the new cart selling candles and she pauses to give it a look, icy gaze silently tracing some of the tendrils of smoke, watching as they form their shapes.
The jostling is enough to send coins from Wade's hand, spinning down and bouncing down and across the street with muted clatter. The man's lips press into one thin line of distaste, head arcing to regard his fellow who bumped him after. "You should be more careful." It's somber advice, the man kneeling to scoop up his belongings after, "Is walking that difficult?" The vendor doesn't seem to mind the small scene, merely displaying his wares to those who want to see. Madeline's curiosity earns small recognition via puff of smoke, one long finger pointing from the fumes before the puff upward.
"Yeah, you're probably right. I haven't been down here in a while, and I wanted to see if …" Jack really doesn't need to tell the guy his business. He could be anybody. "Here, let me get those…" He reaches down to grab the coins to hand them back to the other man. Hopefully there wasn't some sort of curse or hex on them. "I try to get through this place as quickly as possible.." He snorts softly.
Edwin moves through the crowd a little further, glancing about with no real purpose or plan. The fallen money is eyed with an air of faint amusement, and the man arches a brow slightly at the apparent eagerness shown to retrieve them, piping up a few moments later. "Surely there are side streets that would allow you to avoid it." The recipient of this observation is clearly Jack, though it's not as if Edwin has any real standing in the conversation.
Madeline smiles inwardly as the candle gestures at her, rather entranced by the display. It's only when a coin bumps up against the side of her sensible shoe that she glances down with a frown, and then around to see where that came from. She bends gracefully to pick it up, studying it a moment before she begins to venture over towards the little kerfuffle, assuming that is its origin. It's then that she realizes she recognizes at least two of those faces, which stalls her in her tracks, before she continues on over with a sheepish smile. "Did one of you drop this?" she asks, once she's close enough to be heard without having to raise her voice.
"You're afraid of it?" Wade's question at Jack is absent, palm stretching out, taking coins and tucking them in safe place. "Thank you," He adds, lips lifting in dim smile toward Jack before his attention slides toward Edwin. A quick glance over the man and he makes one simple nod of agreement. "The faint of heart can find their way around it." And then there's Madeline, Wade turning to face her. "I-Oh. A pleasant surprise. That'd be mine."
"I dropped them from his hand. Thank you ma'a- Miss Sagace!" He smiles brightly at the woman. "How are you today? I surely didn't expect to see you down here." He speaks to her, but it's softly, not allowing his voice to carry. Information is used for more nefarious purposes down here. "Not afraid, no. I just do my best to avoid places wehre I might get into trouble." Jack has no idealistic notions about his ability to get into more trouble than a niffler at Gringotts. "I don't make it down here very often, as I said, but when I do, I usually go into that bookstore right there. She carries the best counter-curse books for a lot of the newer and more newly-discovered curses, and often, for a much better price than I can find them elsewhere."
Edwin grins slightly over in Wade's direction, standing by without much in the way of further interruption save to give Jack a nod and then to briefly inspect Madeline as she makes her approach, tucking his hands into the pockets of his jacket. The small group is clearly already acquainted and he's not the type to intrude, so he just resumes his rather lazy inspection of the street vendor and the people perusing his wares.
Madeline offers the coin out to Wade as he claims it, managing an awkward smile in greeting for him, and then a similar if slightly less awkward one to Jack. Which only turns more awkward again as he points out her lack of business being down this way. "I know I shouldn't have come. But I … was curious," she replies with a little shrug, gaze flickering around at the men. "I didn't think you'd be down this way either." There's nothing accusatory there, though perhaps a hint that if she had expected them down this way, she might not have been caught wandering it herself. Edwin's presence doesn't escape her awareness now that she's actually paying attention, and he gets a sidelong look from her. "I hope that I'm not interrupting anything?" is asked of the group at large.
"And why shouldn't you have? Curiosity is a wonderful thing, should you live through the ensuing investigation." Wade's voice carries a dry humor to it, head tipping down at Madeline. Jack's words just gain a small noise of understanding, one quick glance down at the shop along the way. "Interesting. And yes, I'm sure you'd want to avoid that sort of thing around here." One hand is extended toward Jack. "Wade Arelmore." And the same gesture to the other man after.
"Jack Noble," he says, and quickly grasps Wade's hand. "Nice to meet you, Wade." Madeline gets a grin. "Curiousity killed the kneazle, as my da likes to say to us over and over again. "But, if you're careful, a little curiousity can be a good thing." He clearly doesn't think everything his father says is solid gold.
"Edwin Gifford." The response is almost absentminded, but the man turns a moment later to offer a smile to the small gathering. "A pleasure, I'm sure." He takes a few steps towards them and glances at each in turn, his shoes squeaking somewhat on the cobbles. "And curiosity just makes life that much more interesting. Even if it kills you like the kneazle, you'll end up dying in an unusual way."
Madeline frowns a little as all three men mention the possibility of her curiosity getting her killed. "I'm not sure that I'm entirely keen on dying," she admits with a glance around at the side alley, gaze flickering up along the facades of the building like she expects to spot a safe hanging there, just waiting to drop on her. "But it's been interesting, walking around here. It's very different than out there." She nods towards the main strip of Diagon Alley. Realizing she hasn't introduced herself to Edward, she manages a rather shy smile, nodding at him in greeting. "Madeline Sagace. A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Gifford."
"Of course," Wade mentions at Madeline's statement. "It's very," Lips press together, word eventually found, "Unrestricted, here. It's almost refreshing, really. One simply has to avoid the more fatal sort of things." Head arcs toward Jack. "But, like the books, there are things here that others are too squeamish to traffic in."
"Definitely a different world." Jack agrees with a nod. Edwin's words get a snort. "If I have to go, I'd like it to be interesting." He rolls his eyes. Living as he does, he's used to being aware and a little bit crazy. "And, certainly, you never know who you might run into down here. I've even heard rumors that they've spotted Harry otter here." He grins.
Madeline gets a polite nod in response to her greeting, but that seems to be it for Edwin. "Enjoy the rest of your day, gentlemen - Miss Sagace. I really must be off." Something or other further down the alley seems to have caught his attention enough to warrant a brisk enough pace to take him out of sight in short order, and he's soon vanished completely.
"Refreshing, yes," Madeline agrees, that word getting a smile from her as it seems to hit upon what it was she was trying to say. "There's no pretence here. It isn't often that you'll find that." She looks around again, but this time less for falling safes and more just to take it all in. She turns back as Edwin takes his leave, offering him a polite smile. "Have a good afternoon, Mr. Gifford." She watches him go for a moment before returning her attention to the two remaining gentlemen. "Harry Potter? Really? Wonder what business he would have down here…" Hmm.
"Have a good day." Wade chimes farewell toward the departing man, attention wandering back toward the two remaining after. "Harry Potter," The words are curious, question of, "That boy. I'm going to run into him someday." The words are absent things, as if he's off in his own world. He does come back, though, "I imagine this place will become more scarce with the recent troubles, though."
"It was just a rumor, mind." Jack grins. "I don't know if it's really true." Wade's mention of troubles gets a tight expression and a nod. "You're right. Lots of folks won't be seen down here now. Suspicion and alll that." As well as it being a favorite place of some of the people who think that way. "Nice to meet you sir," he calls after the man as he leaves.
"A rumour has to start somewhere," Madeline muses thoughtfully, before looking up at the two again. The mention of the recent trouble gets a frown from her. "I suppose at this rate, just being down here will be enough to get a person in trouble…" Which would be a shame. But whether she means legal trouble or trouble of another sort, her tone is vague enough to leave open to interpretation.
"I missed the game," Wade comments, "The news, though, was the most interesting part. What do you think?" Fingers clasp together, one more glance cast back and forth across the alleyway. "It's a shame, though. I do like this place."
"I was there. I left after the trouble just started, but there was trouble. The going news is that it was Sirius Black. I surely didn't see that it was him. I was pretty high up…" Jack's voice trails off, and he runs a hand through his hair, expressing his nerves. "Enough of that stuff going on before." He may have been young, but he heard a lot about it.
"You were there?" Madeline asks, glancing over at Jack with some interest. "I'm glad you're all right. It sounded … very dangerous." She chooses that word carefully. "Things never stay quiet for very long, do they." But she usually manages to avoid them, keeping her head down. "Do you think he's working towards something? Or just terrorizing people for the fun of it?" The questions are directed at either, asked innocently but curiously. Surely they must know more about this than she does.
"It was the Dark Mark, was it not?" The question is directed mostly toward Jack, Wade's brows rising up. Madeline is address after, mention of, "He'd be declaring his allegiance. It's still amazing that people can be so zealous."
"Yeah, it was the …" In deference to the lady here, he'll tone the language down a little bit. "The bloody dark mark." He scowls for a moment and gives a scan around. "Look, I'm as brave as the next guy, but I don't feel like it's a good idea to talk about this stuff here." The words are quiet. "However, I have no idea what he was doing. Stupid idea, all around."
Madeline nods, wide-eyed, as they speak of the Dark Mark, seeming maybe just a little too interested in all this. Then again, it has the entire wizarding world in a buzz, so she's hardly any different. She glances back over her shoulder as Jack points out their location again. "I think it depends on what we're saying," she points out reasonably. After all, some talk of Dark Marks and the like only belong down this end of things.
"He seems to have gotten away with it," Wade murmurs, "Stupid or not." He merely gives nod at Madeline, seeming to find some agreement with the woman's words. "Do you think they'll care? They're surely not all dead. Perhaps they'll come and join the fun." There's a dim smile, mention of, "Or, perhaps, Black is just as barmy as they say he his. It's fascinating to think about." He does sound quite interested in the topic, words coming at a faster tilt.
"You think? I don't think he'll get away with it. I think if he is found, they'll kiss him this time." Jack shudders, having run into dementors a time or two on location. "I've heard, that yeah, he is barmy, but I've never met the man. He and his bunch were fourth years when I started school, so I only heard about the pranks from afar." Except for the ones that hit the whole common room. "They seemed okay to me…" Once again, from afar.
"How dreadful," Madeline replies, at the talk of the Dementor's kiss, frowning slightly as she thinks of that. "He sounds unhinged. It seems to be that, whether it works or not, he's taken an awfully big risk for a chance of a reward. There must be better ways to recruit…" She glances over at Jack, eyebrows lifting as she learns he knew at least of them. "Goes to show that you never can tell," she notes.
"I imagine he'd have an equally hard time trying to set up an office for it," Wade's words come in response to Madeline, eyes narrowing at mention of the kiss. "Well, I'll wish them luck in finding him. From what I heard he was formidable enough to elude a proper hoard of errors. I'm quite properly embarrassed as an employee of the Ministry."
"As well as being the first wizard in a very long time to escape Azkaban." That goes pretty much without saying, but Jack says it anyway. "You work at the ministry?" He lifts an eyebrow. "Which department? Miss Sagace here is in Magical Creatures." He gives the lady a grin. "Oh, indeed. It's rather interesting what can hide beneath the surface of a mask." If it is a mask at all. "And his family is known for being less than stable as it is." Crazy. Every one of them. Right?
"No, an office probably wouldn't do either," Madeline responds rather seriously as she considers that. "But yes, he's quite something, isn't he," she goes on, shaking her head a little. "Hard to imagine someone escaping all that." She's still thoughtful, but at the mention of her own work at the Ministry, she offers a wan smile. Yes, joyful work, that is. "I rather think everyone has a mask… Some just have more to hide. Or maybe it's the crazy ones that don't have the mask at all."
"The Department of Mysteries. It makes complaining about my job hard." Another small joke. "Learning about people is always an interesting process." Mention of creatures seems to bring something to the forefront of his mind, the man questioning toward Madeline, "How is your pet? Still alive, I hope?"
"The department of Mysteries?" Jack pauses for a moment. "I met another man who works down there…" He frowns as he tries to remember the gentleman's name. Sorry, he was busy chatting up a lady at the time. "Older gentleman, has a daughter…" He smiles. "I can't remember his name right now." With a shake of his head, of self-deprecation, he gives Madeline a look of concern. "Something happened to your pet?"
"If you told us, you'd have to kill us?" Madeline suggests with a slight arch of her eyebrows. She's possibly joking. "It was the last I checked," she replies, of her poor, neglected pet. Again, while some might say that as a joke, she doesn't actually appear to be joking. "And something ate my lunch yesterday, so I assume It did." She looks over at Jack, giving her head a little shake. "Not to the best of my knowledge. I've just never kept a pet before. It's not altogether unpleasant though."
"Unfortunately not." There's a small thread of humor in his denial, "I don't think they'd appreciate if I did." Head shakes toward Jack, mention of, "It could be anyone." Helpless shrug follows. "As for the pet, that's good to hear. I'd hate to think he was spared for nothing. He should enjoy his round life awhile longer. Don't let him sleep in the same room you do, though."
Jack snorts. "We made that same comment when we talked to… W… William. That was his name. William." He seems proud of being able to remember that. "I bet you lads hear it all the time." He grins. "I would have a hard time down there." Yes, he knows where it is. "I talk too much." And take too many lovers. "Do you enjoy it?"
"I bet you know how to cover your tracks though," Madeline points out sagely, giving Wade a sidelong look. Not that she really seems altogether worried that he's going to off her anytime soon. "No, I've been keeping It in my desk," she replies, as to letting the puffskein sleep in the same room as her. "It intrigues me. I don't understand why It lived and not the others." And she will try to puzzle that out, even if the blob of fuzz has been less than forthcoming so far. "Mr. Millingstone? I know him." She sounds proud to know so many people! "I'm good at keeping secrets. Only I've not any good ones to keep." She frowns slightly with that.
"Incredibly." Wade's answer to Jack is quick, a more lively smile coming to his face. "Consider it like slamming your head into a brick wall. It's frustrating, but you'll get there eventually. You've also got toys to distract you from the pain." Head tips back toward the other. "We all have a few good ones. Sometimes you don't know how important something is until somebody else finds out about it."
Jack winces. "Ouch. See, I wouldn't like that. The only reason I'd do something like that is if one of my siblings was on the other side, and a good 'confringo' wouldn't work." He grins. "I much prefer where I am. Independent curse breaker. Just go in, fix the thing, and come back out." To each his own. "What kind of a pet is it, Miss Sagace?"
"That does sound rather painful," Madeline notes in a neutral tone. "But you enjoy it? I'm not sure what it is I'd like to do." She looks over at Jack with a small smile. "It's a puffskein. It didn't die when all the others did." She's proud of It for that, whether or not It actually had anything to do with the matter. Her gaze returns to Wade, expression turned a little more cautious. "And then it wouldn't be a secret anymore," she points out.
"On the other side of the wall is everything you've ever dreamed of." Wade's clarification is absent, coming a few moments after the fact. Mention of the puffy creature just elicits one short nod, as do the words after. "Yes, then it wouldn't be. Secrets are funny things. We try our whole lives to learn them." Morbid smile comes after, "Then we die, and we see what good they did for us."
Sorry, Wade. Jack's gaping — while simultaneously trying not to appear that he is gaping — at Madeline. "What?" He shakes his head. "I think I see what you mean now." This cryptic comment is all he says for a long moment, studying the woman, pursing his lips, near-visible gears starting to turn.
"Everything?" Madeline repeats, her eyebrows going up as she considers that fact. "What about that time that I dreamed I was drowning in custard. Is that there too?" Again, she should be joking, but it doesn't show, if she is. "But to think, if you keep something a real secret until you die, then no one will ever know. That's rather…" She doesn't get a chance to elucidate on what it is, since she's slowly but surely noticing Jack's not-quite-gaping, and it's distracting her from that though. Her eyebrows lift and she turns slowly to look at him. "What do I mean about what?" she asks, sounding confused. "I very rarely mean anything."
"Remarkable?" Wade attempts to fill in the blank for Madeline, adding after, "Perhaps not that. If you'd like there's a simple way to reproduce it without a dozen years of research." The offer is somber, gaze catching on Jack soon after. Head tilts at the man's expression, questioning, "Is something the matter?"
Jack's mind is still whirring. "Just thinking…" He looks down at his hands, seeming to use his fingertips to tick off something as he goes through a mental list. He looks up at Wade. "Do you file and stuff down there?" He asks, with a mischievious grin.
Madeline is slow to take her attention back from Jack, turning her head towards Wade with her actual gaze following reluctantly after. "Er, yes. Remarkable," she agrees, though she might have forgotten what was remarkable. To the matter of replicating her custard dream, she considers a moment and then shakes her head. "No, that's all right, thank you." Maybe if it were someone else drowning, she'd be more amenable to the idea. And then her gaze is going back to Jack, though the question isn't posed at her. If she realizes what he might be up to, her expression is inscrutable.
"Don't work too hard at it." Wade's offer is a quiet thing, lips twitching at the mention of files. "Sometimes. There are some things you can't escape from. Most of the time as long as everyone is alive by the end of the day, though, it's considered a success." A nod at the woman after. "Very well."
Jack nods, grin fading back into thought. "Okay. Maybe not then." Yes, he's still being cryptic. "Huh." He smiles widely at Madeline for a moment. "You, ma'am, are a challenge." Maybe that'll clue her in to what he's thinking. "That sounds like my day, often." He snorts softly. "If everyone's alive at the end, it's all good."
"Thank you for the offer though," Madeline adds somewhat absently to Wade, as if letting her drown in custard would be a kind thing to do. Her attention is largely back on Jack, though, and if she's befuddling him, he's now certainly confusing her, which she wears rather openly in her expression. "I'm not trying to be a challenge," she assures him with a self-conscious smile. She continues mulling on that for a moment, before chiming in, "That doesn't sound like my day at all." In case they had any delusions about the dangerous life of the file clerk. "Except, perhaps, when I go to broomstick demonstrations."
"I heard about that. I'm pleased that nothing terrible happened." Wade nods. "It's unfortunate for the man who made the thing, though. I imagine his day didn't go very well." Wade's fingers dust together, eyes sketching up and across the alleyway after. He doesn't seem to understand dynamic between Jack and the woman, just rising on toes to get a clearer view of the surroundings. "Oh."
There isn't much of a dynamic to understand, other than Jack being strange. "Oh, it's not your fault. And besides," Jack offers with a wide, sparkling grin. "I like a challenge." He turns back to Wade. "It was the old Twigger guys. Sped it up without fixing the damn braking charm." He rolls his eyes. "I probably should get those books and get back. I think Mum's expecting me for supper tonight." He gives Madeline a short bow. "I'll come talk to you soon," he promises. Especially if his ideas bear fruit. "Wade. Pleasure to meet you, sir." He smiles and gives the man a small nod.
"Oh. All right then," Madeline replies, as Jack points out liking a challenge, though she still doesn't seem entirely sure whether that should be a good thing. No, she doesn't entirely understand this dynamic either. "I shall … continue as I am then, shall I?" That seems safest. Looking back over at Wade, her eyes widen slightly as she offers a sheepish smile. "I was pretty frightened at the time. But it ended up being a scare and nothing more, thankfully. It seemed a bit strange though. The men left very quickly." She frowns slightly to herself, but it's replaced by a smile for Jack as he moves to take his leave. "All right, Mr. Noble. You know where to find me. I think I might like that." It's nice to have things to break up her routine days.
"I'm happy that it was." Wade's farewell comes with his own note, cordial goodbye for Jack once he's finished sweeping gaze of the shops and storefronts. Pale gaze slants along toward Madeline after, making mention of, "Aren't you popular." He steps then, makes to finishing the breaking of the little gathering. "I should see about my errands. Maybe I'll see you again." He's winding away then, taking his own leave.