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when my ways are not happening

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Her mum found her floating in the river. No basket.
Or so the story goes.

She doesn't remember any of that. Some of them - Effra and Tyburn - remember what they were before they were rivers. Her mum. More of the Old Man's boys. Isis and Oxley. But Beverly doesn't remember anything before.

The water's been there for as long as she can remember. The ebb and flow. The tide.
Her river. Hers.

It killed her, being up-river as a hostage. So far from her manor. Yeah, she hated that Peter didn't text her for nine months (that pissed her off, but it wasn't everything). Oxley let her swim in his river whenever she liked, but it wasn't the same. It wasn't hers. She hasn't had time to make anything of herself yet - Tyburn went all the way to Oxford, Effra's got Oberon and her crew, even the twins have got their business ventures but Beverley hasn't really figured out what she wants to be.

Mostly, she doesn't want to be stuck anywhere forever.
Some days, she thinks that she doesn't want anything other than being free.

*

One of Beverley's favourite places in London is the atrium at the British Museum. She couldn't give a shit about the history but she likes getting a Coke from the cafe and just sitting, watching people come and go. She likes the mix of languages, the faces, the joy of people being on holiday together. It's not diversity in the way that London can be diverse - for that, she'd want to go nosing around Effra's manor, down towards Brixton. Here, it's all a bit more well-heeled, which makes sense with the Folly within shouting distance.

Which makes her think of Peter.

The thing about Peter Grant is that he fundamentally, categorically does not get it. Beverley doesn't know how many times she's got to throw herself at him, practically rub her tits on his arm, before he gets it. She'd say that it was a man thing, but it categorically isn't. It isn't a wizard thing, either.

Beverley's beginning to think that Peter's just a fucking idiot, when all is said and done.
And she isn't the only one who thinks it, either.

She trudges towards the Folly with her hands in her pockets. Her mum always says that the Folly has defences that are inimical to people like them. Beverly would love to go inside, though; it's a really beautiful building. Out of habit, she skirts around the edge of the building, down the side towards the coach house. In a high up window, a pale face watches her go. Beverly raises one gloved hand in a lazy salute.

The lights are on in the coach-house. Peter's home.

She climbs the stairs and knocks, waiting, watching the way her breath mists and dances in the cold night air. There'll be ice in her river, come morning (though it hasn't frozen solid in her memory. Oxley tells stories about the Thames frozen solid enough to skate on - it's difficult for Beverly to picture because she's always known it brown, at times swift-moving, then sluggish).

He opens the door, handsome and dazed in a polo shirt and jeans. As usual, as ever, Beverly finds herself torn between wanting to slap his face and kiss him. He hasn't done anything, he's just standing there, but that's how it always feels.

She can't help it if he causes a flood in her.

"Can I come in?" she says. "I'm freezing my arse off out here."
"Shit. Yes." He steps aside. "C'mon."

Inside, it's not exactly warm, but the space heater's trying. Peter's got a Will Ferrell movie on the T.V, his laptop fired up and Beverly picks the remote up as soon as she's shrugged out of her coat. She drops down on the sofa and starts flicking through the channels. Peter hovers for a moment and Beverley can tell that he's trying to work up to the all important question, the one that she's hoping he doesn't actually ask her because she doesn't really have an answer to why she's there.

In the end, though, he lets out a long breath.

"Do you want a beer?" he says.

God, yes. Yes, she wants a beer.

Peter sits down at the opposite end of the sofa but, gradually, he inches his way closer. Beverley can't blame him - if she was throwing out signals any harder, she'd been worried that she was going to blind one of them. They settle into watching Love Actually and Peter's sitting close enough that the length of his thigh is pressed against the length of hers. Beverly doesn't give him the chance to pull that tired old yawn-and-stretch routine. She turns towards him, pulling her knee up onto the sofa.

"You could call, you know," she says.

He manages to look sheepish.

"I know," he says. "I…"

But Beverley isn't interested in excuses. She doesn't know how long someone like her might live but Peter's only human and Beverley's sick of wasting time. She leans in and kisses him, properly, on the mouth and it's not perfect, a little sloppy, a little off-centered, but pretty satisfying, all the same. They kiss for a few long minutes.

"What're you like in bed?" she asks, grinning, running one hand back over his short-shaved hair.
"What?" he says. "You mean my legend doesn't travel far and wide?"
"Dickhead."

They categorically do not have sex. Beverley knows that Peter's been given the warning about not swimming in people's rivers too quickly and she thinks that, probably, having sex with a river is much the same thing. Her river is her and she's her river and, maybe, it's a good thing if Peter Grant doesn't get in too deep.

So she protects him. A little bit. And she isn't going to examine what that means.

She doesn't want to go home, though, so she stretches out on the sofa and Peter squeezes himself in behind her, pulling a blanket up over both of them. With the T.V off, there's hardly any light in the coach house and it's easy to get comfortable. Peter's arm slips around her waist, hovers for a moment until Beverley's so irritated that she threads his fingers with hers and tucks both hands under her tits. She feels Peter's breath shiver out against the nape of her neck. He's hard, she can feel it pressed against her arse. She doesn't draw attention to it, but she doesn't pull away. It's actually kind of nice.

It's not calling, but at least it means he cares.

*

Her first memory is of her river. One of the others, Effra or Tyburn, took her out to Putney, to be close to it. Let her dangle her little feet in it. Bent down close to her ear and told her why she was special. She learned to swim in her river. She knew that, with her river out there, she would never be alone.

She would be special. She would be loved.

Her mum found her floating in the river. No basket.
Or so the story goes.