Posts Tagged ‘Agatha’

Duel – Beyond Hogwarts Thread

11 July 2009

He had said he would come.

She had the note. She had the parchment in her bag. Every now and again she would open the fastening and look in, check it was there. Sometimes she took it out and reread the few sparse lines over again. Blunt, factual, straight to the point. Betraying nothing. But was it not enough that the letter was an affirmative? Was that not enough? He would come. He would come. He would come.

She folded it up again and sat back down. It was cold and she quickly refurbished a heating spell which in her anxiety she had allowed to run low. Worriedly she spun her compact into her hand and checked her reflection. Heavens what if she had a red nose? But no. Her reflection looked solomnly back at her, everything perfect and she smiled vaguely. How could he not love her? How could anyone fail to do so?

Agatha nervously pulled on the edges of her white fur lined boots and tugged at her Burberry mini skirt.

Oh where could he be? Her heart pounded loudly and her stomach twirled. What if it were to be one of his sick jokes? What if he didn’t come? She felt her whole life rested upon this one moment. She was risking all she had.

He must come.

There was something very very wrong about all this. After all, he was engaged. And happy. Poorer now after the obscenely expensive ring for the girl who didn’t care much about extravagance. But happy. He had the perfect house picked out; his future was meticulously planned; his neurotic almost-in-laws doted on him and obsessively tried to plan the wedding that neither wanted help with.

Life was finally going smoothly.

Until that bloody letter came.

He decided to take the tube rather than Apparate. It afforded him more time to think, to convince himself it wasn’t a betrayal because they were just going to talk. Never mind that he’d cheated with her, that she’d put them both through hell, that she’d actually killed his fiancee.

Yeah. Vivi didn’t know where he was. She would be busy for the better half of the day with her relatives back in America.

The thought scared him: an entire ocean between the two of them, and he was going to see his ex.

The train stopped and Avery walked mechanically out onto the platform. His mind was racing as his feet carried him up the stairs, down the street, and into the park where they were supposed to meet.

The park seemed colder than the street. An omen, Avery thought. Despite the cold, Agatha seemed perfectly okay. A mini even though it was freezing. Heating spell, he reasoned.

She looked nervous. He saw her steal quick glances at something in her bag when she thought no one was looking. But he couldn’t expend the energy thinking about that. This would be taxing enough.

“Hi.”

She had played this scenario in her head hundreds of times over the past two and a half years. How she would look, what she would wear, how she would stand, what she would say. Oh what would she say. For she would say it all right this time. Say all the things she had been too proud, too stupidly stupidly proud to say before.

There had been a lot of time for thought and reflection. Trapped as she was in paradise, time was something of which she was not short.

And now it was no longer a dream. Reality stared her in the face when he did. For he was here, living breathing Avery, looking down at her with a face so familiar, so strange.

Despire her preparations, she felt unprepared. She had intended to watch him walk down the avenue to gain the advantage and now she was all a flutter and she felt a great ball of lead in her stomach and a dangerous pair of wings in her heart.

“Hey Avery,” she said as lightly as she knew how and rose delicately to greet him. She brushed his face lightly with her lips as he bent down to let her kiss his cheeks twice. She felt a warmth in her face which belied the frosty air.

“It is really so good to see you. Thank you for coming,” she said openly and honestly, meaning every word.

She was so nervous. She could hear the shakiness in her voice and hoped he could not.

He was beautiful still, despite the fact that his head was shorn. She longed to run her fingers along his head, to see his mouth curl slightly in that so familiar way. She longed to reach to touch his face, to hold, to keep.

But all of this was a long long way from being possible. And she knew Avery Berke. If she got this wrong, it would stay wrong forever.

Not again, Agatha vowed. Not again. This time Agatha Swales would eat her pride. For him.

The meeting was rigid and unfeeling and colder than the wind quickly chapping his face. The air kiss had been a formality, a mechanical “hello” devoid of emotion. He preferred it that way; he’d long since stopped caring. He only came because he knew Agatha hadn’t. She hadn’t moved on.

He owed her some courtesy, even though she killed Vivi and was twisted enough to think it romantic.

He’d decided on the train that he’d be direct. They had wasted too many years on subtext. They were older now, more mature; they could handle direct.

“So, what do you want?”

His eyes were cold. She looked and looked but she could not get past this shut down frozen Avery. She wanted the eyes that laughed. But no. nd his tone was equally frosty.

“So what do you want?” he asked, bluntly.

“I needed to see a friend,” she answered. It was not a faslehood. Not the entire truth of course. But it would do..for now.

“You may not care Avery,” she murmured. “But you have been the one person in my life whom I can rely on to tell the truth and to whom I can speak. You do not, you cannot understand what life is like for me. I live in a world where concealment is everything. Who are these people? Who am I? To whom can I speak? Noone noone…” he voice trailed off.

“This meeting is dangerous for me, I should not be here.”

Again she stopped and he said nothing.

“There are things you have a right to know,” she said.

He felt the muscles behind his left eyebrow pulling, but he wouldn’t let it rise. He wouldn’t show emotion (not that he currently had very much).

“Then why’d you marry him if you can’t talk to him?” A pause. “I’m not the one you should be talking to.”

Dangerous? Interesting, but Agatha had always been one to embellish. Danger may not really mean anything, but he decided to hear her out.

“What is it I have to know, then?” He thought he sounded impatient, and that irritated him a bit. Either way the question was out. Not much he could do about it.

“Why did I marry him?”

Agatha’s mind, and surely Avery’s too, flashed back to that day in May when Agatha, the beautiful bride had broken down at her own wedding. When her pride had cracked and in sheer and utter desperation she had asked him, begged him, on her knees and with tears streaming down her face, to say that he loved her. If only he had said it. If only he had. Then Agatha would have defied the world, defied her father and Matthew both. But he hadn’t. Wouldn’t. Couldn’t.

She half laughed, half cried.

“I had no choice,” she said. “My father insisted and Matthew. I told Matthew the truth that day and it made no difference. I could hardly believe it, but it really made no difference.”

“I hardly ever see him, let alone talk to him. I think I might actually hate him,” she said.

“You haven’t really changed.” It was more to himself than to her, but he didn’t care if she heard. Not anymore.

He was a Mudblood, but she’d dated him. Twice. Her father would have thrown a fit had he known, but at times, she didn’t seemed to care. “So what about your father? We both know you were never Daddy’s perfect little girl? You screwed a Mudblood, after all.”

It seemed such a simple solution that he wondered what she was doing. If she hated her husband so much, why bother sticking around? She was young, beautiful, rich. She could get any guy she wanted.

Well, almost.

“There’s always a choice, Agatha. You just chose the wrong one.”

Agatha had to speak. Now. She had to somehow get the word out. She had been fighting the curse upon her for years and unbeknowst to anyone she was almost free. The Unspeakable Curse had sealed her lips. But could she have spoken anyway? Were there any words to say the simplest thing?

“The problem was they both found out I had, and how nicely you put it Avery, that I had screwed a mudblood. That we had had sex. That I loved you and that I was…..”

She stopped. Not through choice. She tried again but her lungs filled with useless air. She stamped her foot.

“I can’t leave him Avery,” she said and looked him full in the face her eyes full of love and truth.

“He has our son.”

If Avery was emotionless before, he was even more emotionless now.

“He has our son.”

The words just kept repeating themselves over and over in his head.

“He had our son.”

He said nothing as he tried to wrap his head around the fact that he…

…no. Impossible.

There was no way. He’d been careful. And besides, she had seen the Medic and had been taking the Wizard version of the pill. He was sure of it. And the pill was 100% effective unlike its crappy Muggle counterpart. So it was impossible. And this was a joke. Yes, a pathetic, sadistic joke.

But one look at her killed his theory. Even Agatha wasn’t that good of an actress.

After the numbness passed, Avery expected shock. He expected to be overwhelmed. He expected mindless psychobabble to spew from his mouth. Pacing frantically. Even wordless gaping.

But not anger. He didn’t expect anger.

“Why’d you tell me this…?” he asked softly, breaking the good five minutes of silence that had passed between them. Then, a little more loudly, but still dangerously, “What good do you think would come of this? Why’s it so important that I know?”

If he didn’t stop, he would punch her. Not that it was entirely her fault, but punching himself seemed even more pointless. So he turned and started leaving. After all, nothing bad can come of a conversation if it never happens.

Crack.

A loud noise like a car backfiring smashed through the silence of the air.

Matthew Willoughby apparated directly in front of his wife.

“I knew it,” he yelled and spun round to see Berke. “I bloody knew it. You bitch!” he screamed and whipped out his wand knocking Agatha sideways into the bench. Her head cracked horribly and she sat there unflinching, emotionless, making no effort to defend herself.

“You did it didn’t you?? I am going to lock you up you bitch and you will never ever get out.”

Matthew stode up to Berke and threw down his cloak at his feet.

Wizard’s duel.

It all happened at once. Matthew appeared, threw Agatha into a bench, turned to face Avery for a duel.

Yeah, like hell.

Avery wondered for a second why Agatha did nothing. She was insanely powerful, probably more so than her husband (whom Avery found himself disliking almost immediately).

Was Matthew that much stronger than she, or was he just intimidating.

Then a scary thought entered his mind: Alex never scared Agatha. Neither did Avery. And that Dmitri kid couldn’t make her cower like this.

Avery swallowed hard.

But maybe he wasn’t strong at all. Maybe he was overcompensating. (Avery grinned stupidly at the thought.) He seemed like the type to rule by intimidation. But unlike Avery or Alex or Dmitri, he didn’t have the power to back it up.

“You’re kidding right?” But Matthew didn’t move. Clearly, he was deadly serious.

Okay. Fine. Bring it. It took only a few seconds, but the cocky Avery was back. As far as he was concerned, it was a welcome distraction from the “You’ve got a kid” debacle.

A shallow bow. Wand up.

“Your move, bitch.”

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Lys and Agatha

11 July 2009

Shopping and a Meeting

Oh.

She was definitely in the wrong place.

The first thing she did, after deciding this was look over her shoulder and scan the place for quick exits. There were none visible, except for the way she came. Her ride back wouldn’t be back for a good long while. That was alright though. She could just leave, head for one of those sit-down places or one of the stores that served fresh food, and fix up a lunch…

No She told herself stubbornly You’re here for a reason remember. Just have a look around. See if there’s anything might be worth the trouble. Deep breaths.

Okay.

Don’t screw it up

Carefully she tread, looking up and down at the figurines. It always struck Lys as just plain weird, how people thought the rest of the world. Rags of cloth draped over awkwardly angled skeleton-like figures. . Expensive rags, but rags. Then there were purses that weren’t big enough to carry a single K’nut. Overlong socks already full of holes. She wasn’t sure she wanted to know what the under clothes looked like.

And of course the glass cabinets.

The number of them, the way they were polished, you’d think they were on sale. Maybe they were. But more likely they were just there to show off the tiny things inside. Some held jewelry and these she browsed with interest, picking out the obvious fakes. The others held makeup, and these she avoid whenever possible. The jewelry sellers had enough sense to look at her like an intruder. The makeup folk looked at her like she was The Great Test of their talents as “artists.” She had no wish to be choked with disgusting scents that settled onto your taste buds, or wind up looking like…well… she turned back to what passed for clothes here.

Still nothing that looked good for what she had in mind. One of the dummys (the ones on pedestals, not the sales people) seemed to be giving her an ugly look and she stopped by a mirror to see if she could figure out why.

Dark colored pants, large beige shirt, comfortable green jacket. Couldn’t see much wrong. She had even dug out an old pair of flats for the occasion. There were creases where the material would bend when walking, but she figured she deserved some credit for leaving the tennis shoes at home this time.

There was something she recognized at least. They were using it as a skirt. She fingered the price tag for a minute, glancing at it with an ideal look.

And burst out laughing.

They wanted how much?!

“Who ever would have thought it?” drawled an amused voice behind Lys. “Lys Scoresby in Selfridges. Now that is diverting darhling if you please.”

Agatha Swales looked Lys up and down as if she had just been dragged out of a gutter. She wrinkled her small nose and raise done elegant eyebrow. “Really my dear, it is of course always divine to catch up with old aquaintances you know, but do you think sweetie this is really your milieu. Their are many good markets in London I am told,” she said nastily.

Agatha was more beautiful and radiant than ever, but her marriage and her idle socilaite life had hardened the sofer edges which Hogwarts and Avery Berke had once given to her. Disappointment was in her heart and she was determined that none should ever know it.

Lys returned Agatha’s greeting with a nod “Swales.”

Honestly? She was glad. She’d already run into more than enough salespeople, glaring mannequins and the like. If she had to run into one of those Slytherins, she would have picked this one.

Agatha Swales. The one. The original. All others were Barbie dolled carbon copies.

There was something different. It was not the same Agatha Swales had engaged in verbal knockdown drag-out with the Head Boy and Girl over a matter of points. This newer Agatha Swales was a newer version. With a … a something… that was familiar.

” Won’t argue that” she said in answer to Swales’… attack? critcism? Whichever. ” But I figure, since I got the job, may as well look the part right?” She turned her head to either side, her eyes flicking this and that way to make sure no more of those make-up weilding witches were about, then leaned a bit in Swales’ direction, mindful of the distance two people like them were supposed to keep from each other, and muttered.

“People really pay this much for something like this? Cause I bought one of these, I saw made first-hand, and it cost me less less’n a handful of Sickles. And this–” she let out a short bark of laughter as she looked at the price again.

Agatha glanced hurriedly round as fox girl let out well a short rasping bark? Really there was no other word for it. Yes, a bark. Amusement was all very well, but she had her reputation to consider at all times.

“That’s Dior,” she said slowly, as if speaking to a mentally deficient four year old, “Christian Dior,” she reiterated as no look of comprehension replacd the blankness on Lys’s face.

Agatha shrugged her delicate shoulders. There was no point in lecturing to the impossible.

“And incidentally my dear, it’s Lady Willoughby to you as I would have presumed you knew,” she gave Lys a haughty glance. If she had to have the damn title, she may as well use it. Matthew’s parents had not been easy to dispose of after all.

Moving idly away, attracted by a magnificent white stole in the Chloe collection, she threw carelessly back, her musical voice carrying magically to whisper at Lys, “And what job would that be anyway Scoresby?”

She’d heard of the Willoughby name. It was on her list, along the Calvers, the Whycherleys, the Talmorras, the Danulietes, Watanabes, Gates, and Stones and every other Pure-blooded wizarding family since the history of time that she was supposed to memorize before the big deal.

She moved again to stand near where Swales stood, again keeping her distance. She watched “Her Ladyship” gap at an item, then looked at the item in question; the same slow steady look she and her dad gave to most things. Calculating, estimating the value, the worth, the significance of the piece. It’s place in history. And why it looked like someone’d skinned a giant snowshoe hare, or maybe a couple of the smaller ones.

” Well, if it’s ta be ‘Lady Willoughby’, I guess it’s to be ‘Lady Whycherley’ fer me than. That or ‘ Mrs. Shuler.’ ”

There was a way she said those three names. Just the pronounciation, seemed to tarnish any value to them. They weren’t names taken in honour, they were names forced on a person. Like fancy titles for dirty jobs.

“That’s my job then. I’m to be doing what people like you and Don–Talmorra were born ta do.”

Pause.

“It was only right.” She said, quieter.

It was surely not possible. She must have misheard, she must be mistaken. Ah but no, what was she thinking, Agatha Willoughby was never mistaken. Yet a Whycherley? Agatha mentally scanned down a list of pure blood heirs of her aquaintance whom could possibly stoop so low. And she came up with a blank. Most frustarting darhling. Most. Agatha hated to be at a disadvantage. Surely if there was any gossip she would have heard? Indeed, surely such a scandal would have been hers to spread?

Icily she smiled at fox face, her fingers brushing the beautiful stole. It was divine. She simply must have it.

“Lady Whycherley?” she queried, still not looking at fox face. It was really too much to expect her to continue this conversation with such a tramp, yet her curiosity was piqued. “And whom is the lucky gentleman may one enquire?”

It was really too much. Fox face must be lying. The alternative was unbearable. What now the worth of her sacrifice if such a one as this was to join her ranks? For goodness sake was she going to have to dispose of Matthew too and attempt to hook a minor Eurpoean Royal? La, it was insufferable.

” There’s no one lucky in it.” She said, turning and trotting to an aisle full of shoes, in particular a pair advertized as stillettos. These were something she’d wondered about. She picked up one from a pair, turned them over and over, knocking on the soles, pressing the straps between her fingers.

“Unless you mean the Old Man himself. I’m taking over his son’s job really.” She tapped the shoe heel on the edge of her palm. Huh. Weaponry. That would explain it. Covert weaponry. They were made so a gal could whip’em off her foot and chuck at an attacker as quickly as she could. Made sense. Magic couldn’t stop everything. But a knock to certain aprts with a sharp object…

She was not making any sense. Agatha gritted her teeth. She would not rise to this provocation. Old man and son? Was she having some weird and torrid inbred family affair? Who knew? Who cared? It all sounded sleazy and somehow disreputable. Best to avoid.

“Well good luck in all that…” Agatha said clearly meaning the precise opposite. “And I think you will find they go on your feet,” she smirked as Lys appeared to be attempting to attach a pair of Prada stilettos to her hands in a glove like manner. Mudbloods. Honestly.

Agatha picked up the stole and started to move idly between stands, towards the checkout. She waved a hand in farewell.

” I know where they go, Swales” Lys said. ” Just don’t know why you’d waste cash on a knockoff. Look you can even see where the stitch’s coming out. ” She set the shoes back. It was tempting, very tempting, to let the pureblood walk out of the store and out of her life. But then again, who was left for her. “Damn.” she murmured and turned to address her retreating back. ” ‘Ey hold up a moment will ya. There’s something I need to ask you.”

Agatha paused. What did the tiresome reature want now? She did not think she wished to converse with someone who could not work out that the stitching was deliberately misaligned. The imperfections of perfection. Ah that was fashion darhling.

“Yes?” she drawled.

Quick steps carried her over to where Swales stood,. “Look, you wanna know what I’m doing here, I’ll tell you the short version. There was a pureblood kid I knew. We messed up and since the son’s dead, the dad wants me ta make up for it by taking over the family business.

Thing of it is, that means dressing a part I don’t know how to play.” Here then was the critical point. Her mind jumped across the words she needed faster than they had when she’d say yes. “An’ I don’t see’s any one else whose got the sense a fashion needed ta make someone like me look good for the job. So I’m askin’, where do I start?”

Agatha and Abbigale

11 July 2009

Conversation and Revelations in Paris, France

Anyone whose anyone in the Wizarding World’s upper crust have been trying to secure themselves, their daughters, sister and even wives to the prestigeous Bastroiva family, the only known living heirs of the Romanov dynasty. Their target is batchelor of the year, Nicholai Bastrova III, handsome, rich, intelligent and rather flightly. The Russian heir has been avoiding martial ties for a long time now and despite their insitance he will marry by the end of the year, his parents have been seen in many public conflicts with Nicholai about taking a wife.

Nicholai has however been linked with many eligable, young and beautiful heiresses, one of the most famous being the Countess Evangeline de Bougerac. However none of these ladies appear to have won the young noble’s heart until now.

Nicholai has recently been sited by our reporters in Paris with a young, blonde and beautiful English heiress though as yet no one has been close enough to discover who she is. They were spotted in Le Diamant, the Parisian branch of the exclusive global chain, and again at several top class locations around Paris. All that remains now is the identity of this astonishing young lady who has won this Prince’s heart. Much like Cinderella at the ball with her Prince Charming, perhaps we shall not know until she tries on her glass slipper. We do know one thing, this Cinderella by no means sleeps among the coals.

Written by Margurite Lecoll

Lady Willoughby gazed longingly, searchingly out to sea. The azure waves lapped the white sand of the shore and the palm trees swapped their leafy tops to the almost imperceptible breeze. A red and golden parakeet squwaked harshly, flapped its long wings and took flight magnificently into the jungle behind. The icy cool interior of the Willoughby retreat belied the intense midday heat of the island. Lady Willoughby took one more look at the beauty before her and then turned swiftly, petulantly on her heel and went back to the marble counter where she recommenced flicking through the daily piles of haute couture magazines, junk owl mail and dull financial rubbish which Matthew accumulated.

She was bored. Oh so bored. She hated this stupid island. Beauty was all very well, but darhling what was there to do? Matthew had been called away on some business or other, Agatha had not cared enough to enquire into its nature.And she was left to rot in this hole. She pouted her lips and sighed, but really what was even the good of her most magnificent pout when there was nobody there to witness it?

Idly she opened Le Sorciere and on page six in the gossip column a name caught her eye. Ah Abbigale she thought, you sly thing you, and Agatha was torn between admiration for her friend’s catch and jealousy and the unfairness of the world where her protegee should be having more fun than she herself.

Impetuously she summoned herself a Willoughby crested parchment and her swan feather quill and wrote swiftly in emerald green ink,

“Abbigale cherie,

Having fabulous time in paradise idyll, house is just too too too gorgeously divine for words sweetie. Long to catch up however and to hear ALL the latest. Shall we say the Champs Elysses at 9am on Friday? One must shop!

Ciao ciao
Ever affectionately
Agatha

It was turning into a crisp autumn and the first signs of frost were twinkling like diamonds over dry orange and red leaves. It was a beautiful sight with the clear blue, cloudless skies but nothing she supposed to the sunny paradises where her friend and even patron was resting. The romantic recluses of the Willoughby estate.

She looked down at the short letter held in her hand and smiled. How much in her element Agatha would be. A dozen soirees and parties to choose from each night no doubt. Lucky, lucky thing. However there was a chance that by the end of her last year at Hogwarts she would have recieved the choice of that life. If Nicco and she got…closer.

She took out her own parchment, emboldened with the Calver family crest and name and began to delicately write her reply.

“Dearest Agatha,

How jealous I am of you, you lucky thing. Hogwarts is still as far from paradise as one could imagine, however it is not all bad. I shall tell you more on Friday. See you then darling.

Yours affectionately
Abbigale”

Short but the meeting would most definitely be sweet.

And so it was that Agatha apparated delicately down onto the wide pavement of theAvenue Champs Elysses at 9.00 precisely one crisp autumn morning. She shivered slightly and pulled her white wrap a little more tightly around her bare shoulders. Fashionable late was fashionably late but scarecly applied to close friends.

Ah but it was good to be back in the civilized world! So what if Matthew did not wish her to leave the island retreat in his absence. Who did he think he was anyway? Agatha tossed her head defiantly. So far they had lived in an uneasy truce. In company they were the golden couple of the hour. When alone….well they tried never to be alone. Agatha did not know if this was a conscious exercise on his part or not but it most certainly was on hers. They played hard, partied hard, networked hard. They dazzled and glittered and glammed. And when everyone had left and the party was no more there was nothing left but an empty core. It had been a marriage of convenience. Nothing more. In a last minute desperate attempt Agatha had even told Matthew the truth. Had not been able to conceal the truth at her own wedding. Had tried to stop the unstoppable. And his dismissal had spoken volumes.

She had never yet cared enough to push his patience. But she was sick of it all. After Paris she mused, why not BA or even dare she think it..London?

Just then a minute pop in her right ear announced the arrival of Miss Abbigale Calver and Agatha turned a genuine smile upon an old aquaintance.

“Agatha, darling!” The two airkissed as once was commonly seen whenever they passed in the corridor or joined each other for a light lunch before skipping classes in the afternoon. How wonderful it felt, the old days. But these were times anew and her friend was no longer the graceful heiress but wife and Lady Willoughby.

“You look fabulous” she commented genuininly admiring how Agatha’s taste seemed to grow more impecable every time she saw her. Looping arm in arm the two friends began to walk down the beautiful avenue and there was so much to say, on both sides.

“So, Lady Willoughby, do tell all”

“Ah merci beaucoup cherie,” Agatha knew she looked fabulous. And there had been a time where to have money, taste, social success and admiration would have been to have achieved the pinnacle of success. But sadly that time was long long ago.

“Of course you look divine yourself, autumn Prada collection if I am not mistaken?” Which she knew she was not. “Very becoming.”

Social nicities at an end Agatha pouted and perused a street side menu. “Expresso?” she asked gaily, “Fortification before shopping? And then you know catching up la la so much happening,” she waved one bejewelled hand airly.

A few moments later and they were sitting in a beautiful Cafe, espressos in hand and laughing airily at whatever joke played oone played to the other. It was all above board, nothing scadelous and all very proper but Abbigale was dying to know…just dying. The life of Lady Willoughy a fairytale or a fantasty? But she seemed unwilling to spill forth her secrets from paradise so Abbigale started with her own news.

“Well if you shall not, I will begin. I’ve met the man of my dreams Agatha, he’s simply perfect! I am dying for you to meet him and see just how divine he is!”

Agatha raised one perfect eyebrow. So she wasn’t able to resist flaunting her triumph was she? Her lip curled ever so slightly and she drawled, “Why but my dear I have already had the pleasure of his aquaintance.”

She raised the tiny cup to her mouth and flicked her eye towards her astonished friend.

“So is it all arranged?” she enquired, wondering when it was that life had made her so bitter and cold, even towards those she genuinely liked.

“You’ve met him already?” replied Abbigale, astonished. Taken aback too by the coldness in her friend’s voice.

“No, not yet. I’m lying low until the news of my breaking of my engagement to the Count has washed over.”

“Yes naturally I have met him, although until yesterday I was quite in the dark about your relations with him. Quite the little secret keeper you have become dearest. Although,” she leaned forward and murmured with more warmth in her tone and a flicker of appreciation, “I dont blame you of course. He is quite the catch of the season if not the century. Gorgeous too really..” Agatha wondered idly if she should not have a fling herself and the thought of it played a small smile around her lips.

“And of course mummy and daddy could not possibly object under the circumstances I imagine them to be enrapted.”

Quite a turn up for the Calvers, Agatha thought snobbily. Beyond their wildest dreams in all probability.

“Poor old Count de Lancret would never have stood a chance against such competetion, really sweetie he is such an old stiff, not really worth ones notice. I do trust he is going to bow out gracefully and not cause a scene. One does so hate scenes my dear.”

Agatha gestured the garcon with a flick of her bejewelled hand. He came immediately to wait besides the imperious blonde.

Nicco had never spoken much about himself, now Abbigale came to think about it. He had not even told her his second name, or where he came from or even where he lived. She had been quite swept away by his looks, his charm and above all his eyes. And he was money. Abbigale had never seen him stinge on anything and no matter how she thrust purses of galleons under his nose he refused to let her pay for anything. He was pureblooded and noble, she could tell that just from the way he talked but there was something so much more regal about him that she couldn’t ever put her finger on. She had sometimes tried to stray onto the topic of him but he just steered her straight off again on another wild adventure to some backalley bar or a secluded, enchanted park. Over the course of the very few weeks they had known each other they had gone everywhere together.

He knew so much about her, she reflected. He knew what she liked because when he ordered for her he’d got it spot on, right down to the freshly squeezed lemon in the honey flavoured tea. He knew how to flatter her, how to charm her and what she needed when she needed it. If she needed a dazzling smile and a mature, grown up conversation he was right there and when she wanted to be playfull…he was more than willing. But Abbigale couldn’t say what Nicco took in his tea, or if he even liked tea – the only thing she had ever seen him drink was straight vodka.

Now she sat in the Cafe on the Avenue with her ‘best’ friend talking about him as if he was just another one of those prize batchelors that everyone was out to catch and Agatha knew the game on that one all too well. She hadn’t informed her parents of either the split with the Count or her new fling with Nicco but she was sure they wouldn’t be best pleased, pureblood or not Nicco was a nobody as far as they were concerned. Then she caught Agatha’s words about him being the catch of the season, as if she knew who he was. If he was anything to be written about in Le Sociere Abbigale would know about it, wouldn’t she?

“Agatha, I don’t know if we are talking about the same person. I mean, we can’t be. His name is Nicco, I met him in Paris in Le Diamant when I was…there to buy a dress for the Yule Ball.”

She had lied, rather intentionally, about what she was doing in Paris, but what on Earth would possess her to tell Agatha Willoughby, nee Swales that she had been dining in an exclusively pureblood restuarant with the half-breed of the centuary, Diamond Nondavala? No, as far as the world was concerned, she was there with an old friend of hers from childhood, Penelope Hartherton and no one could say otherwise under threat of very serious pain. The Ministry weren’t the only ones good at covering their tracks. She took a sip of her coffee and

“I think my dearest, you’ve got the wrong man.”

“The wrong man?” Agatha looked amused. “Believe me dearest I nver get the wrong man! Well, hardly ever….” and a misty far off look came and went as she thought for the most painful second of her own most horribly wrong man. She shook her beautiful blonde head and attempted to laugh though her heart and stomach both jerked violently. Stupid girl.

Abbigale must think I am mad, thought Agatha as she paid the serving boy, dropping a huge tip carelessly as she arose.

“So cherie,” she continued linking arms with her friend as they clicked and clacked their way down the wide boulevard to the oh so chic and precious boutiques. “Nicolai is indeed the man I am well informed by La Sorciere. Is he in town? Perhaps we could lunch?” she suggested brightly.

“La Sorciere?” repeated Abbigale, practically snatching, in a very unladylike way, the magazine from Agatha’s grip as she waved it around carelessly. On the front page a large photograph of Nicco and a sultry looking blonde, both giggling, holding hands and smiling broadly, faced her. It was titled, ‘Tied to the Knot’ and was written by that most annoying gossip monger Margurite Lecoll. Her eyes scanned through the article quickly, taking in the most important information. Nicholai Bastrova III, last known heir to the Romanov Dynasty…Russian Noble, spotted in Paris with…her.

She thought back in mind, ever time she looked at Nicco a familiar feeling had swept across her, as if she knew his name before she’d even met him, it was at the tip of her tongue but she could never remember. Now, gazing at his strawberry blonde locks and handsome stormy eyes she couldn’t believe how she didn’t realise he was Russian nobility.

You really are an idiot Abbigale Calver.

She looked up at Agatha, her starry eyes wide and in between emotions. Should she be leaping for joy that the man she was pretty sure was going to marry her was actually above and beyond even Agatha’s station? Or should she be angry that he had not mentioned it, not even once, not even a little bit. The cad!! Rather speechless she began to mutter quietly.

“A Russian noble, my boyfriend is a Russian Noble! Nicholai Bastrova…THE Nicholai…I…”

She straigtened up, folded the magazine once again and stared at Agatha with her best poker face.

“He might be able to make it, I suppose. Let us go to the Post Office and send him a message, make arrangements for luncheon. In the meantime, I believe you and I have some very serious shopping to do.”

You date a Russian Noble woman. You have to step up a notch, if that’s even possible…

 

Clutching a copy of the newest edition of La Sorciere a man with strawberry blond hair had managed to break the handle off his favorite coffee cup. The hot dark liquid had splashed upon his legs, only clad in his sleep wear, having woken up early, early enough that he had been able to make himself pancakes with apple lemon filling, and watch the sunrise. The magazines and newspapers had arrived soon after that, and fetching them, he was an amazing site to behold. Honestly he could have chosen to have enough servants that they would breath for him. It would have been sickenning, and only prove him to be a ditz of a fool, much like several of his cousins that hadn’t been able to cut their steak at the ‘young’ age of mid 20s. He had counterred their incompetence with a sip of his drink, vodka, and a remark of ‘you should just put them in diapers now, it will be easier to w-‘ he had been cut off with a look from his mother, which in turn he laughed at. It wasn’t that he was the rudest person of the face of the planet, he was just not enamoured with his useless family. And for the reference of knowing, he had not been drunk either, his ancestory seemed to have given him an amazing ability to hold his liquor with extreme grace.

But that grace was gone for a moment as he looked at the magazine. Spelled upon it was a picture of him, and a woman that made the most awful pain, such as the blistering heat in his lap, fade into the distance. The smile on her blushed lips, the curve of her neck, the swells at certain area’s of his body that left any man with twin minds of mush. But it was more than that, he had seen the bite matched with it as she stood up for herself, the care she demonstrated to someone else, beauty on the inside and out that caused the anger he was feeling to be multiplied three fold. Tossing the paper down onto the table, not caring that it hit the coffee perculater, a crack going through the glass as the dark liquid seeped out like blood, and the beans went spreading across the wooden floor. He could care less of the stain it might leave. His anger took care of everything. The heated pain radiating from his legs was brushed to the side, as salve would easily take care of it.

He was angry, Nicholai Bastrova III was as mad as a bull that had been stabbed to many times and now had a rag waved in its face. Grabbing the magazine again, he tried to look at where it was taken, he believed that he had been so careful. Sure he had seemed carefree the entire time he spent with his Goddess, but in truth had been checking for flashing cameras out of the corner of his eyes…had taken care to bring her to places that would either not remark on his status, didn’t know, or really didn’t care…and it seemed to be all in vain, as the proof was staring at him right in the face that his attempts were thwarted, and he was not happy about it. A call to La Sorciere was completly pointless, as the copies were out now, and no doubt his dear Abbigale’s eyes had graced the page, had read the truth. It could either amount to three things, a disaster as he hadn’t told her, a ninny-headed twit of a girl who was after his money, or her not caring either way. He hoped that he knew her well enough that the third option would happen, not believing that she could ever be a ninny-headed twit in her life ever. Except when she held a romantic gaze to the tranny. Having still felt sore about his Abbigale looking flustered by ‘Diamond’, he had mentioned it to Nicholai Bastrova Jr., whose looked as if he was about to start drooling at the idea of adding a Keres to the zoo. Nicco regretted what he had done, but he did have a possessive streak that atleast his friends knew about. Walking towards his bathroom, he began the ritual of getting ready for his day, going over the events of where he picture may have been taken.

He remembered an amazing time, he had been unable to keep his fingertips not touching her for a moment, choosing to sit next to her rather than across from her, if only so that he could let his fingertips brush against a cheek, or an earlobe. He had…he was…a fool in love. Whispering words to her that some considered sweet nothings, but having never done it before, meant the world. He spoke the truth, what he saw as the truth, it tumbled from his lips like a golden stream. He had brought her to places that were prestige, places that no one knew about, and places where he would never let her go alone. He had felt the first stirrings of love when he watched her down tequilla in a quick manner.

She wasn’t normal.

Not in the way that she was strange, but more in the way that she was a rare jewel in a sea of pebbels. Hardly ever found, but shining radiantly against everything. She lit up the entire place wherever she went, her starfilled eyes reduced him to a simpering lovestruck man that found himself fighting for control of his brain against his male anatomy. He had wanted to kiss her, to kiss her till she pushed away from him to breath. He wanted to grab her and hold her down until she feared him and began to cry if only so that he could kiss off her honey tears, and offer solace. He found himself loosing control with a smile, a brush of her fingertips against his own, just a simple look. It was a terrifying feeling, yet made him feel as if he was walking through the clouds at all times. He never wanted her to be unhappy, never wanted to see her upset, but at the same time…

it was love.
and it was scary,
and confusing,
but wonderful.

And now it had a good chance of being ruined by Miss. Margurite Lecoll, an idiot with a typewriter. She could have ruined everything, stolen his sun, stolen his oxygen. He had no wish to admit it, but Abbigale was his drug, and he was hopelessly addicted, would die without it, would kill and destroy without out. And when he had returned home, when he had to return home, when he had to leave her, he had been in a foul mood. He had gotten into an immediate fight with his mother, this one worst than this last, and in public too. He was surprised that articles about it hadn’t been written yet, but he supposed that a very large sum of galleons had made sure to keep the press quiet.

It seemed that his mother had fixed up another meeting with a girl. It had started with her handing the photo of a petite girl with long dark hair, and hauntingly dark eyes. She was beautiful, but compared to his Goddess was nothing more than a peasant. He had ripped the picture in two, then four, then eights, thrown it into the woman’s face, and declared that he had decided to become a priest and worship his Goddess. It had prompted his mother to feign and fainting spell, Nicco had laughed at her, and taken the picture scraps and sprinkled it over her. ‘Rest in Peace Mother’, which had caused her to rise from the dead and the yelling match in Russian had started. It became heated very quickly with slander, and curses, and several people had managed to get hexed by their bad tempers, and had to be carted and helped away while ugly looking boils errupted on their skin, and their noses grew nearly bigger than their heads, or their hair turned white. It was an ugly event, and had left him retreating to his house in a German forest…and had been grumbling ever since. Only leaving several times to visit some of the top jewelers in the wizarding world to have several masterpieces created, for a fortune that he didn’t blink at, but that most would kill for.

—-

And now he was stepping out of the bathroom, a pair of dark striped pants on his bottom half, and his top half bare as he was drying his hair with a large soft towel, a toothbrush hanging out of his mouth. It was during his state of undress that he received a message. He had a system set up to him, so that owls were absolete and he got his messages faster and could respond much quicker if he needed to. Letting the towel fall to his shoulders, strawberry blonde hair forming a halo around his head, he began brushing his teeth with one hand as he reached for the note with the other. It took only a second for his eyes to find who it was from, and his heart skipped a beat. He saw luncheon, and nothing else, and immediatly was grabbing a pen, such convinient devices, and in looping chicken scratch was writing back as fast as possible.

My Goddess in which I have fully devouted myself to, I fear that lunch is but a small meal that will not nearly whet my apetite for your company. Please come to ‘Arpège’, I shall fix a table there, and I await your presence on baited breath.

Immediatly sending the message off, he felt as if he was back to floating again. Arpège was a very famous non-wizarding resturant, that was one of the most expensive resturants in the world. It deserved the name too, he had gone to it several times, and though he was normally a meat eater, their vegetable dishes often left him wanting more. It was normally very booked up, but all he need to do say his name, and he was certain he could get a private room, as even out of the wizarding world the Bastrova’s were well known. They commanded respect from both sides, and did so. Taking the phone, he dialed in rather quickly, and in an instance was stumbling through his russian accented french of asking for a table, when he was told it was booked, he needed only say his name, and did so. He heard several shouts in the back, and before he had to wait 5 seconds the owner was on the phone promising a private room, with several extra chairs if he wanted to invite some of his more prestigious friends. With thanks and hanging up, Nicco was heading to his room for something to put on his top half. Though briefly wondering if his Goddess would have any problem with him showing up without it.

From his adventures with Webs and Type-O he had to work out to keep up with a were and a vampire, and his body showed what hard work did. He rememberred that they had had to recall a ladies magazine like La Sorciere because they had caught him at the beach… It hadn’t been a pretty site, dozens upon hundreds of girls pureblood, muggle, rich, young and old, ripping magazines out of the others hands. He had laughed at their antics, but now was wondering if Abbigale would like this, she had seemed to enjoy looking at that scrawny anorexic ‘girl’. “you are being awful…and when was the last time you worried about how you looked?” Words spoken aloud made him feel better, and he was pulling on a dark button up shirt, several buttons left undone, hands run through his hairs, and leaving the stubble on his face, it looked very good and suited him nicely.

Hoping that he looked presentable, or atleast sexy, he took the quick express to Paris, through apparation into one of France’s wizarding alleyways. It was just a short walk to the resturant, and he would be waiting for his lovely lady to join him when the time came. In the mean time he had some expensive wine to buy, and some jewelry to pick up.

“I will buy you the stars Abbigale, and fasten them around you neck, but they will still pale in comparison to your eyes. My Golden Honey Goddess.” Hopefully La Sorciere hadn’t ruined everything. What a Wonderful Way to find out that you were dating Russian Nobility through a gossip magazine.

Goodness. The little fool really had had no idea. The startled, bemused yet starry eyed expression on Abbigales’s face would have given her away in an instance, even if her words had not. Under my tutelage, Agatha thought wistfully of her days in charge of Hogwarts School, she would not have betrayed her emotions so easily. She was no ice queen then, howsoever she wished to pretend to such a title.

“Indeed, yes Nicholai Bastrova, quite,” she murmured and decided not to persue the issue – for now.

“Shopping on the other hand is exactly what is needed,” she smiled and wondered if she herself should write the letter which she herself had been burning to write. Oh to hell with charades and party games. She would write that letter alright. False face must hide what the false heart doth know. She would write at last to Avery Berke. And then…well and then they would see.

“I am in desperate need of shoes darling. In the tropics you know one has no need of autumnal fashions. Manolo Blahnik?” she enquired hopefully naming one of their mutually favourite shoe designers.

Just as she spoke an Artic owl swooped down and deposited a rich golden sealed envelope neatly into Abbigale’s gloved hand.

Just after noon, later that day, the two English beauties entered gracefully into Arpège where the staff, who had been expecting them, showed them through to the private room that Nicholai had reserved for them. Their bags of shopping were taken away to be kept safe and there were many bags of shopping to hold onto. They had had a successful morning.

Pushing aside the topic of particular Russian nobles and moving swiftly onto fashion the two spent a most delightful morning shopping on the Avenue for not only shoes but any number of other things carrying expensive price tags. Abbigale’s most favourite purchase for the day was a cocktail dress, deep scarlet in colour with a long slit up one leg. At the young age of seventeen it pleased Abbigale greatly how much older she looked.

If Abbigale had know what to feel she might have tried describing it in her head, but at the moment she had no clue. Was it anger? He had not technically lied to her, just omitted a truth, but it was a pretty big truth and the betrayal felt just as bad. Was she happy? Nicco the man hadn’t changed at all and if he still loved her she was just getting more for a love that was already there, that would have been there if he was royalty or not. At the moment it was just fear that Nicco would turn around and be Nicholai and Abbigale wouldn’t be good enough for Russian nobility. And God knows what his parents would say.

He stood up, tall and handsome with his strawberry blonde hair falling over his stormy eyes and Abbigale’s minid went blank for a moment or two.

“Nicco” she whispered softly as he leaned in a planted a very proper kiss on her cheek. He was divine. He looked at her in a strange way, as if he was trying to figure out what she knew, or what she was going to say. Well, everyone knew now, it was just a case of getting it out in the open.

“This is my dearest friend, Lady Agatha Willoughby. Agatha, this is Nicholai Bastrova III.”