Arthur quickly made his way down the streets of Monte Carlo, head bowed and hands shoved into his trouser pockets, ignoring the happy chatter all around him, remembering to keep off the grass. Sunlight hit the white buildings at an angle, reflecting it back into the Brits eyes, and he resisted the urge to swear. Daring to look up, Arthur was relieved to note the Place d'Armes ahead, and he quickly jogged across the intersection, ignoring the few cars on the road and, with an expertise born of a childhood in London, dodged the people waiting in line for pizza.
"Excuse me, sorry," he muttered as he bumped into a tall blond man, not stopping to see if the apology was accepted. The blond man nodded absently, not looking up, and continued to study the red tiles of the plaza.
Arthur came to stop just beside a fountain, scanning his surroundings, green eyes focused, his hangover forgotten. Buildings lined his the plaza to his left, with a longer, continuous structure directly in front of him. On the other two sides were roads, one of which he crossed. The plaza was largely empty, a couple was perched on the fountain, cooing at each other in French, and an older man was sweeping a stoop to his left.
Aggravation set in, and one of Arthur's hands came up to message the bridge of his pale nose. Entrances to the black market, appropriately named La Halle Variable, or the Shifting Market, was hard to track. In fact, it was nigh impossible to track, as it was rarely in one place for long. Monaco hosted it often enough that it was one of the safer bets for finding it. Arthur had only caught wind of it by chance while staying in Nice. Now, Arthur was tasked with the job of finding the entrance. Narrowing it down to the Place d'Armes had been hard enough but now, now it was a whole new game.
Even as this thought was making itself known to Arthur, he spotted a dark gap, just behind a tree at the inner corner of the plaza. Resisting the urge to sigh in relief the Englishman quickly made his way over to it and, as surreptitiously as one can dart behind a tree in the middle of an extremely exposed area, squeezed his way into the dark space.
It was an alley way, an exceptionally clean one as far as alley ways go, and open ended at that. Ignoring the other end Arthur looked down, examining the ground. Almost immediately a long chink in the hard rock caught his attention, squatting down he tugged out a long pale wand, dragging the tip lightly along the uniform crack. Quickly the crack flashed a series of colours, and a series of other uniform cracks appeared.
"Red, blue, orange, blue, yellow," the wizard muttered, standing up. Quietly, he tapped the end of the second crack, then the fourth, the first, the fourth and lastly the third. To his left, a small door appeared as the cracks faded, and he slipped into the dark opening.
In the plaza, the tall blond man spotted a muted flash of yellow to his right, and he turned, spotting the dark space behind the tree. Hard blue eyes narrowed, and he quickly made his way to the space. Looking in his face morphed into grim satisfaction, and he smiled humorlessly.
He'd found it.
La Halle was not the grim looking set up most imagined when told about it. Like any market, it's buyers and sellers were loud and dressed in an eclectic manner. Tables were layered with wares, ranging from live animals to magic carpets to tampered with Quidditch gear. Arthur made his way through the mess of stalls offering illegal transportation, another group with some very, very nasty cursed objects on display and into what was lovingly dubbed The Menagerie.
Arthur eyed the various wares, hands clenching in his pockets, noting with interest the stall holding three Augureys, two Fwoopers and several jars labelled 'Banshee screams'. The stall owner, a deceptively kind looking woman gave him a dimpled smile, gesturing to the Augurey.
"Avez vous une invasion de doxie?" she asked, blue eyes keen. Arthur shook his head, not actually understanding the question, and gave her a small smile. She shrugged at that, picking up her abandoned magazine, turning back to it. Arthur quickly honed in on his target, making his way past three more stalls before coming to a crowded table.
Cages, wrought in iron, lined the large table, small figures dashing themselves against the bars. Chitter filled Arthur's ears as he crouched down, the cries of "hungry, hungry," making his heart twist. The fairies in the cage were haggard looking, cramped in with one another. There were a full seven cages of them, all filled with the simple minded creatures. The man behind the table was young, younger than most, and he watched Arthur with a grin.
"Looking for potions ingredients?" he asked, and Arthur nodded, shoving his disgust to the side.
"As a matter of fact," he started, cutting himself off quickly when he noticed the cage on the far end. It was slightly separate from the other cages and near the back of the table, explaining why he hadn't noticed it before. This cage was smaller than the others, and held only one being in it. The merchant followed his stare, another grin fixing itself on his face.
"Forest fairy," he told the shocked Englishman brightly, "very rare, a hundred galleons." Arthur's heart sank at that, he only had eighty, and he took in the sight of the tiny being. It looked to be blond, and probably male, and he was shaking, tiny bruises on its arms and chest. His wings, which were no doubt meant to be a beautiful black and orange, were currently a sickly grey and yellow mixture, the right one slightly shredded at the ends.
Seeing a very, very rare opportunity, Arthur put on his best rich bastard face and stood up completely. "You," he said coldly, "must have mistaken me for an idiot this is not a forest fairy of any sort, the marking are all wrong and besides," he pointed to the tiny creature and it's battered wing, "it's damaged. I can find much better sources for fairies than charlatans like you young man and I will not be swindled, I can assure you others will know of this attempted duping, and -" the young man stopped him with a panicked flail, looking around.
"Okay, okay," he muttered, face going bright red, "look, I didn't make the prices, I'm an apprentice, but, I could, maybe cut you a deal," he licked his lips, obviously worried about this, "just, don't go smearing our name, alright." Arthur's features stayed schooled into a look of cold superiority, but he nodded.
"Eighty-five galleons," he offered and Arthur almost danced in joy.
"Sixty," he said instead and the young man spluttered.
"Wha-no just," he took a deep breath, "eighty."
"Sixty five," Arthur countered, green eyes narrow. Brown eyes narrowed at him in response, and the young man shifted slightly.
"Seventy five, last offer," he said with a surprising amount of conviction and Arthur hesitated, to allow suspense.
"Throw in a cage cover and we have a deal," he told the seller. In response, an off white piece of fabric was pulled almost out of thin air and covered the iron cage. Silently, Arthur handed over his money, accepting the cage in exchange. "Pleasure doing business with you" he said coolly, and the young man nodded miserably.
"Nonno sta andando a uccidere me," he muttered, and Arthur ignored him, carefully caring the cage out the nearest door. The light off of the Port de Fontvielle was very bright at two in the afternoon, and Arthur swore vigorously as it struck his eyes, which had just become accustomed to the dim light of La Halle.
"Bloody hell," he muttered, clutching the cage to his chest, "I hate Monaco." Inside the cage, the occupant jerked awake by the loud swearing curled himself even tighter into a ball, tears welling in violet eyes as he fought back sobs. What would happen to him now?
Nonno sta andando a uccidere me - Grandfather is going to kill me (this is from a translator, sorry)
Avez-vous une invasion de doxie? - Do you have a doxy infestation? (1. Augreys eat faeries 2. what is the French word used for doxy in the novels?)
Time frame wise, this is 2002, and there WILL be HP people involved rather directly.
Also, non linear plot is non linear, just trust that each subplot is in order, and they will all merge eventually.
Francis appears, Arthur isn't happy to see him and Matthew enjoys some mimosas (the flower).
Nice's wizarding population was similar to most wizarding populations in that it was small, mildly xenophobic and insular. However, unlike London, Nice was not a busy hub of wizardry and witchcraft, and was rather more like a stop over to larger places or a lovely vacation area.
Arthur appeared in his admittedly lovely bed and breakfast on the outskirts of Nice with an almost silent hiss, similar to that of the wind in a naked tree. Quickly, the English wizard set down the iron cage, tugging off the canvas cover.
The faerie was still in the very centre of the cage, wings and tiny body trembling, head buried in its barely clothed legs and almost imperceptible sobs wracking its frame. Arthur watched it, he still wasn't positive about the gender, to be honest, green eyes unusually soft before he coughed lightly. Immediately the tiny head popped up to reveal a dirty but exquisite little face and wide, disarming blue eyes. Arthur, resisting the urge to coo, knelt opening the cage with a gently murmured 'alohamora'.
“Hello,” he said quietly, sitting back a little, watching the faerie who watched him back, “my name is Arthur Kirkland,” he offered, and the little creature shifted, its wings curling in slightly, its entire body turning towards the now open cage door, as if in question. Arthur placed his hand palm up outside the cage, smiling in what he really hoped was a reassuring manner. “It's all right,” he said, “I won't hurt you.”
The faerie gave him an almost sardonic look at that, but nonetheless extended a pale trembling hand. The small fingers ghosted over Arthur's calloused pads before the obviously exhausted faerie pulled itself onto the pale palm.
Sitting down, knees pulled up, one arm wrapped around the other clutching at the base of his ring finger for balance, the faerie took a deep breath and flapped its wing, cringing at the pain the tattered one must have evoked.
“My name is Matthew sir,” it, or rather he, said softly, “and, um,” he paused looking up, pure worry etched on the gentle face, “what...” He trailed off, obviously nervous, and Arthur sat down on the bed, gently pushing the dirty hair out of his face with his pointer.
“I didn't buy you for any reason other than to help,” he said firmly, looking directly in the wide eyes. The faerie cocked his head at that, as if not understanding. “I like faeries,” he elaborated, “always have.” The tiny being made a noise in the back of his throat, as if to say 'hun, right', only to erupt in a series of body shaking coughs, followed by several sneezes.
Worry gnawed at Arthur like a dog with a bone, and without thinking he cupped his palm, cradling the shaking faerie to his chest. “It's alright Matthew,” he told the boy, “just breathe.” The faerie did so, taking a deep shaky breath and exhaled again, blue eyes dazed. “Matthew?” Arthur said softly, noting the look on the others face. Matthew responded slowly, coughing once more before bring a hand to his rib cage.
“Ouch,” he said miserably.
Wincing in sympathy Arthur paused, trying to remember if he had any potions with him, and swore brilliantly when he realized he didn't. Matthew's eyes widened at that and he drew away, trembling increasing to a full out three on the Richter scale. “Sorry luv,” he said, rubbing circles in the pale smooth back between his wings using one finger, “I've just got to call in a favour.”
Beauxbatons was the type of building which not only lived up to the first half of it's name but prided itself in its given title of 'beautiful'. It clung to a lush green hillside about fifteen kilometres north west of Cannes, massive walls shielding the main building from view, save the tops of a few towers. Arthur, who had been to Beauxbatons once before to deal, peacefully, with a doxy problem huffed as he apparated onto a path wide enough to permit a carriage. The path, while well kept, was uphill and roughly a five minute walk to the actual building, somewhat of a curse in the heat of the June sun.
He'd landed on the small platform at the base of the hill Beauxbaton's sat on. The platform was, as far as he knew, where the students first arrived. Behind him, a long, low slung building made of rough stones opened up to reveal a number of fireplaces. Sighing, he set the cage containing Matthew, a rather gaudy gold one borrowed from the bed and breakfast owners, not that dreadful iron one, down on the smooth stone, opening the door. Matthew slowly climbed onto his palm, wings fluttering in excitement as he looked around.
“Isn't it pretty,” he faerie breathed, looking around wide eyed. Arthur nodded, distracted, and shrinking the cage and sticking it in his pocket. “What is it?” Arthur's head whipped up at that, staring at the faerie until he noticed where he was pointing.
“Oh,” he said, chuckling a bit at his own stupidity, faeries aren't known for their appreciation of architecture after all, “that is mimosa, very common here.” Matthew nodded in understanding, a tiny smile playing on his small face. Before leaving Arthur has helped him clean up a little, though he was still mostly naked, and his wings were still faded with illness and probably hunger and exhaustion. “Let's go up to the castle, George owes me quite badly.”
The faerie nodded, still looking at the bright yellow blooms of the mimosa before he looked up at Arthur shyly. “Um, sir?” he asked softly and before Arthur could tell him not to call him sir, he continued, “where is here?” Arthur stopped short, looking down at the little blond.
“France,” he said slowly, “just outside of Cannes,” he looked closely at the faerie, trying to see what was going on in the others head.
“Oh,” said the faerie, “oh dear.” Arthur nodded, and resumed his walking, trying to think of something to say, but nothing came to mind. Matthew, he could tell, was a North American forest faerie, the duel tone butterfly wings and accent were a bit of a hint, and the fact that he hadn't realized where he was could very possibly mean he had been captured somewhere in North America, which meant a number of things that made Arthur's skin crawl.
Arthur's thought process continued down the dark and winding path of how Matthew ended up in Monaco, only to be rather rudely interrupted when he caught sight of the figure standing next to the ancient portcullis that lead to Beauxbatons.
The noon sun left the valley of Beauxbatons exposed and hot, and Arthur, who was already sweating and uncomfortable, almost bit through his tongue when he saw that slim, golden haired, blue eyed French tosser leaning comfortably against the pale limestone, arms crossed across his white clad chest, giving off a vibe of 'oh yes, you know you want this'. Instead, he did what he always did when he was angry.
Ludwig returns home from his investigation and his pillows are ruined.
The head quarters for the Cooperative of European Aurors, commonly and with some distaste known as C.E.A was on a fairly quiet street just off the River Isar in Munich. There it stood, a red roofed building made out of limestone. Flanking it were similar buildings, though the head quarters stood higher, it's windows wide and open but opaque. Muggles walked by the four hundred and fifty square meter building on a regular basis, seeing three floors of empty and vaguely dangerous failed housing. Wizards, looked up and grimaced.
Inside it worked largely like any office. The first floor was a small reception area with two fireplaces large enough to fit three very tall people abreast. Behind the reception was a bull pen, so to speak, filled with desks, no walls and an astonishing amount of filing cabinets. Making ones way up via elevator or stairs, your choice, revealed the second floor, this one completely dedicated to more working space, save washrooms and a well loved looking coffee service station.
Ludwig Beilschmidt walked steadily past the second floor, which was almost empty, it being almost seven o'clock. The third floor was similarly empty, though the one person left, a young red headed woman from Slovakia, Draha something or other, gave him a nod and an encouraging smile as he made his way through the identical wood desks to the foreboding oak door. As he raised his hand to knock, hand already clenched, a deep voice came from inside.
“Hereinkommen,” Ludwig entered the room promptly, back straight even under the glare of the man in front of him. Lothar Haas, current head and founder of the C.E.A was in his late seventies and none the worse for wear for it. With dark brown eyes harder than rock and hair steel would have been jealous of, he was the terror of the C.E.A and all within it. He was also Ludwig's direct superior. “Good evening Herr Beilschmidt,” he said coolly, once Ludwig had been left to stew for a moment, “take a seat.” After Ludwig followed the instructions, sitting down in a hard backed and somewhat ugly chair, he spoke again, voice still level. “You are back earlier than expected, what did you find?” Ludwig pulled a slim file from his coat, not robes, placing it on the desk before speaking.
“As we suspected, the number of illegal parts and live beings being sold at La Halle has doubled since November. The people I spoke with all said the same thing, the live beings are coming from almost solely North America, but the rest is scattered.” Haas, who had rather obviously been listening despite the fact he was flipping through the file, leaned back, setting the manila file down.
“And the banshees?” he asked, one eye brow arching fractionally. Ludwig ignored the threat inherent in the movement and shook his head.
“The faerie seller complained about a woman with augries, banshees and fwoopers with her, but by the time I'd come across him everyone was packing up and she had been gone almost two hours.” Haas nodded his understanding and pushed the file to the side, standing.
“Very well Herr Beilschmidt,” he said, voice still even, “I had hoped that you would be able to confirm a supplier, but this is very good, very good.” Ludwig recognized the dismissal and stood, pausing at Hass' voice when he reached the door. “And Ludwig,” the blond, a little shocked, turned to face him again, taken off guard by the softening of the older man's face. “I trust you did not look into the other matter on our hands,” at Ludwig's nod he gave a tiny mouth twitch, a smile on his stern face. “Good job.” Caught off guard and uncertain Ludwig left, appariting straight out of the now silent bull pen.
He landed with a small sound, like the far off growl of thunder, in a small dark alley way. In the time it had taken him to speak to Lothar it had started raining, not unusual for Munich, and the Berlin native just sighed, leaving the protection of the mildly dirty alley and it's rusted but protective fire escapes to head left to the nearest door.
Stepping through the glass paned doors into the cozy mail box area, Ludwig found, not to his surprise, that he was soaked, his usually perfect blond hair plastered to his head, dripping in the eyes. Aggravated, he wiped the water off his face before heading up the red carpeted stairs, rolling his shoulders to get rid of the tension that had built there over the last few days. Reaching the fourth and final floor the stoic German almost sighed in relief, a sudden tiredness over coming him now that he'd reached his final destination. Making his way past the other four doors he approached the last one at the end of the hall, the only door with a knob, as opposed to a handle.
Unlocking the knob as well as the the deadbolt, Ludwig carefully opened the plain red door, peering inside. On the couch, head draped over one low arm, was a rather giant, dog like thing. Ludwig, upon seeing the large creature, opened the door fully, closing it and locking it again quickly, though softly, giving the wood a once over for scratches. Seeing none, the blond finally took a seat, the first comfortable one he'd been granted since he'd woken up that morning in Monaco.
The chair he sat in was over stuffed and anyone looking for lumbar support in it would have been sorely disappointed. However, for young, athletic twenty somethings it posed no problems and so Ludwig paid it no mind, still able to ignore the floral patterns after almost seven years. Across from him, the dog gave a low growl, more in greeting than anger, his tail flicking once, more cat like than dog like. Ludwig sighed, burying his head in his hands, resisting the urge to run them through the thick, silver and grey fur, noting the ugly gash scrawled across the others ribs.
“I know,” he told the only other occupant of the room, standing to go get medical supplies, “I know, but what do you want me to do?”
It's no longer raining, Ludwig and Elizaveta don't see eye to eye and Gilbert can, in fact, cook.
The next day the skies of Munich cleared, and Ludwig woke in his own room, small and mostly white and dark wood, to the smell of baking bread. Stretching silently the blond got out of bed, walking over to a large, dark dresser and pulling out a simple tank top, pulling it on along with a pair of sweat pants. In the hall, the sound of running water in the bathroom hit him and he paused before going to check on the rolls.
Seeing they were undone, Ludwig quickly made his way out of the apartment. The minute he was out the door, nodding to the elderly and somewhat grandmotherly landlady, he was running. The streets of Munich, or at least the out rim, far from the downtown core, was silent in the early morning sunlight. The blond jogged down the street, listening to the smack of his own feet on the still damp concrete. As he approached the first corner on his journey, a slim, long haired figure stepped out of the corner store, her arms laden with bags.
Catching sight of her, Ludwig slowed, something unpleasant coiling in his stomach. The woman, hearing the sharp, echoing pad of feet turned, and her eyes lit up with joy. “Jó regg-” she cut herself off with a giggle, “guten tag Ludwig,” she corrected, green eyes shining. “I'm working on my German,” she explained at the questioning look in his eyes.
“You're German is fine,” the blond offered stiffly, silently taking two of the bags she offered him. She gave him another smile in return, and the two started walking, much slower than Ludwig wanted. “How are you and Roderich, Elizaveta?” he asked her after a moment. He hadn't spoken to his cousin or his wife in, in almost ten months now. Ten long months.
“We are doing very well,” she said, “and yourself?” Ludwig answered with a grunt, as if to say fine, his eyes trained ahead. The walked the next three blocks in silence, Elizaveta humming a familiar folk song. Eventually, passing only a few men and women, they reached the small house on the edge of Laim meadow where Roderich and Elivazeta were staying.
Handing her both plain brown bags he'd been carrying. As he turned to leave, silently grateful to be out of her burdensome presence, she stopped him, one pale, strong hand on his shoulder. “Ludwig,” she said softly, “about...there are better places for him Ludwig, places that can help him, safe places.”
“Safe for who?” the question comes out, hot and angry, without Ludwig permission and a small detatched part of him notes that this is a supremely awful way to start a day. Elizaveta, shocked by his out of character venom jerked back, green eyes harder now.
“People, Ludwig,” she told him, voice not wavering, “for people.” Ludwig's ears roared, anger at what she was saying reaching levels he hadn't felt since that night nine months and three weeks ago.
“He's not an animal,” he said coldly, “he is a person.” Elizaveta opened her mouth to argue, but Ludwig turned away, heading back down her street, away from her, and back towards his house. By the time he knew he was out of the Hungarian's line of sight he started running, no longer a leisurely jog, and when he made it back to his building his lungs had started straining. Quickly, he made it up the stairs and down his hall, not bothering to compose himself before he entered the small apartment.
It looked the same as when he'd left. The couch was still there, it's pillows shredded sometime last night, the ugly overstuffed chair across from it, too low coffee table separating them. In the kitchen he could hear movement, stifled but there and, despite the fact that he was sweaty and angry, he followed the sound.
Gilbert was at the table, a pile of still streaming rolls laid next to jelly and cream and coffee. The fine silver hair was still wet from his shower, and the paler man was silent, not looking up as Ludwig leaned against the doorway.
“You're going to eat all sweaty?” he demanded instead, and Ludwig just nodded, washing his hands at the sink before sitting down.
“You cooked,” he said simply, and the albino snorted.
“Yeah, no fuck,” Gilbert replied before holding up a roll, “strippen?” Ludwig accepted with a nod, grabbing on off the pile, cutting it open with the proffered bread knife. “Apfelkraut?” Ludwig looked up at that, one pale eyebrow arching up.
“You hate apple butter,” the taller German said, picking up the container nonetheless. Gilbert just scowled at him, saying nothing and smearing blueberry jelly on his roll with more viciousness than necessary. They ate in silence, Gilbert chewing quickly, obviously ravenous. “I'm,” Ludwig paused, looking at a former hole in the wall they'd never painted over, just left of Gilbert's right ear. “I'm not mad about the pillows.”
Gilbert looked up at that, red eyes exasperated, “Ludwig,” he said slowly, as if speaking to a rather slow child, “I bought those pillows, they're my pillows.” Ludwig blinked at him, watching at he picked up another roll, biting into it without bothering to put anything onto it.
“But you cooked,” he said finally, and Gilbert rolled his eyes.
“I can cook you know, I fed your growing, teenage ass for what? Four years? You didn't starve.” Ludwig, familiar with the comment, rolled his eyes before it had fully registered that he was being sidetracked, and before he could chide the older man, Gilbert continued. “I got a job.” Ludwig said nothing at that, Gilbert was resourceful, he'd had jobs almost since he'd started his business, but this sounded different, so he didn't interrupt. “It's in the UK, England, to be exact,” he looked up at Ludwig, meeting his eyes levelly, obviously not to be swayed. “It's about the werewolf pelts.”
Suddenly, it all made sense, and Ludwig, with great care, set down his half eaten roll. “It's dangerous,” he said, only for Gilbert to cut him off.
“It was dangerous ten months ago Ludwig,” he reminded the younger, and Ludwig fought the urge to run a hand through his still down hair or to lock his brother in closet.
“But now...” he trailed off, realizing just what he'd been about to say. Obviously, the self censorship had been too late, however, because Gilbert's ruby red eyes went as hard as the aforementioned gems, jaw going taunt.
“But what, Luddy,” he said, practically spitting the phrase out, “what now? Am I invalid? Am I incompetent, or, is it because I'm not human anymore?” Ludwig snapped. Almost ten months of people telling him Gilbert was no longer human, no longer deserving of his time, no longer worthy of anything. Nine nights of pain and blood and watching Gilbert lose himself completely. Eight months of watching Gilbert throw himself into his work, of Gilbert trying more and more to destroy himself. Ludwig was at wits end.
“Don't you dare,” he snarled, standing up, ignoring the chair as it fell, “don't you dare say that, not now, and not ever again. You are not a monster or an animal, Gilbert, you are my brother and you. Are. Human.” Beneath his fingers the wood table creaked, and Gilbert stared up at him, face inscrutable.
The silence between them stretched on, Ludwig still standing, jaw tight and trembling, teeth clenched to the point of pain. Finally, Gilbert's shoulders relaxed. “Really?” he asked, voice ironic, “says who?”
Ludwig stays standing, teeth still clench, fingers white at the knuckles before he too deflates. “I do,” he said finally, picking up the chair, “and someone out there agrees with me.”
Ron worries for his personal safety, Lothar is terrifying, Penrose is a softy and Hermione has a crush.
“I'm never going to be able to retire,” Ron Weasley, auror for one more month, moaned dramatically, head colliding with his desk, “I'm going to die buried under paperwork.” Next to him, a dark haired man shook his head, taking off a pair of glasses to massage his temples.
“Ron, the paper work isn't going to be what kills you,” Harry said, and grinning a blond man, across from Ron, their desks pushed together, gave a small tittering giggle.
“Yeah, that scary German will be the one to get you,” the blond said. Ron pulled a face at him, opening his mouth to answer back, only for a large, black hand to land on his shoulder.
“Now now children,” Kingsley Shacklebolt, all six feet something of him, hovered over the three aurors, smiling widely, a file in his hand, “Lothar won't touch a hair on your worried little heads, I'd never let anyone but me end your existences,” he promised dryly, dropping the file on top of the pile forming on Ron's desk. “More information on the werewolf case,” he said.
The three men looked at the large man's retreating back, then at the pile and lastly at the clock, despair written across all their features. “It's Friday,” Harry said finally, sounding as if his world was ending, “and almost five.” Next to him, Ron's head reacquainted itself with his desk.
“Mum's going to kill us Harry, she's going to kill us. Dead. We'll no longer need to fear scary Germans, because my mother is going to do us great bodily harm and end our lives for ever. Extinguish our candles, cut our cords.” The blond man across from them watched them for a second before sighing and picking up Ron's pile, placing it on his own desk.
“Family dinner?” he asked, and the men nodded, eying him warily. “Go on, I'll do all this,” the two former Gryffindors blinked in tandem, standing slowly.
“Thanks Dor,” Ron said, slowly picking up his cloak and walking backwards towards the door.
“Yes, thanks a lot Penrose,” Harry agreed, slowly opening the door. The blond watched them, bemused, saying nothing as they darted out the door, shaking his head at the sound of their running feet. Behind him, a tall dark man stepped out of the office lavatory, headed cocked at the sound of running feet.
“What-” he started, only to be cut off by the blond waving his hand lazily.
“Offered to do the case work,” he said simply, the tall man frown a little more, trying to put the pieces together.
“They were scared I would change my mind.”
“So can I-” the dark man started hopefully, only to deflate at the others answer.
“No, sit down and help me finish these reports,” the man sighed, pushing shaggy, caramel coloured hair out of his dark eyes as his sat, sulking visibly. They worked in almost silence, the only sound in the room the rustle of paper, the scratching of quills and the brown eyed man's occasional huff. Eventually, the blond man set down his paper, his name only half scrawled on the bottom and turned towards the other. “Stop pouting,” he told the other and brown eyes narrowed at him as a report on the sudden increase in illegal doxy eggs was set down.
“No,” the man said sullenly, lower lip extending even more, “it's Friday Dorian, Friday, this is the night that single women use to get drunk and hook up with attractive young men for one night.” He almost wailed the last bit, hands coming up to tangle themselves in Dorian's lapels, “and you, you have me reading about doxy eggs!” Dorian sighed, extracting the other man from his front gently.
“You could read about the sudden increase in werewolf attacks on muggle law enforcement officers instead,” he offered, face impassive. The brown eyed man drew away as if scalded, practically throwing himself back into his seat.
“You are a cruel, cruel little man,” he told the other accusingly, and Dorian sighed, face fighting the urge to smile.
“Alright, alright here's the deal Caliban,” he told him firmly, “you finish five more reports, properly,” he added, “and I'll take you out to dinner, my treat.” Caliban, eyed him suspiciously, lips pursed in thought.
“Even dessert?” he asked finally and Dorian rolled his eyes.
“Yes, even dessert.”
“Ronald Weasley!” a loud voice rang through the Burrow the minute the two aurors stepped in and Ron sighed, tugging off his cloak like a man condemned.
“Yes mum?” he called, and the red headed woman stepped out of the kitchen, hands on her hips, one clutching a spoon.
“Did you remember?” she demanded, eyes narrowed. Brightening, Ron pulled a small bundle out of his pocket, walking over to his mother, stooping to kiss his as he handed her the plain brown package.
“One package of North African Singing Spice,” he said, grinning widely. Molly took the package in hand, a smile growing on her face.
“Thank you dear,” she told him, patting him gently, she smiled at Harry, gesturing towards the sitting room. “Everyone but Ginny is already here,” she told them, and the two set their cloaks to the side, quickly entering the closed space.
The sitting room had changed over the years. The furniture had been replaced, though it was still mismatched and well loved, and at some point it had been painted from its original colour into a lovely shade of yellow.
“Hello all,” Harry greeted, sliding down next to Andromeda Tonks, picking up Teddy off the floor. “How've we been?”
There was a general consensus of 'fine' peppered with some 'goods' among the Weasley's family, almost family and adopted family.
“Shop's been real busy,” George said, leaning against Angelina, “can't wait for another hand on deck.” He gave Ron a bright smile and Ron rolled his eyes.
“You just want someone to do inventory so you can prank unsuspecting customers.” George threw a hand up to his chest, looking wounded.
“Ronald,” he chided, “it's a joke shop, if they aren't expecting it it's their own fault.” Bill laughed, looking up from his game of patty cake with Teddy.
“Have to give him that Ron,” he said, and the youngest Weasley male just sighed, leaning on Hermione.
“See what I grew up with?” he said, looking as pathetic as he could, “torture, pure torture.” Hermione soothed his head softly, smiling in a rather telling way.
“I know dear,” she told him, “you're completely faultless.” This drew another laugh, and Ron stuck out his tongue. Light conversation followed for a while, until Molly stuck her head through the doorway.
“Supper,” she said, and the Weasley men and their wives rushed into the dinning room, taking seats and waiting eagerly for the signal to serve themselves. Already at the table was Ginny, and Harry slid in next to her after fixing Teddy in his booster seat between Andromeda and Arthur.
“Hello Gin,” he greeted warmly, and she pecked his cheek, passing him the mashed potatoes.
“Good evening Harry,” she returned, smiling brightly, “how is everything going at work.” Immediately the small pockets of conversation dried up and all eyes, and ears, were on Harry.
“Stressful,” he said, grimacing, “but I don't think we want to discuss that during dinner.”
Hermione, a piece of potato on the end of her fork, poked the utensil at him, “yes we do,” there was a murmur of agreement and Molly rolled her eyes, glaring at Arthur as if to say 'this is your fault our children discuss work at the table'.
Harry paused, looking at Ron for help, and the red head sighed, setting down his fork. “Frankly,” Ron said, “we've got nothing, and that creep-”
“Lothar,” Harry supplied.
“Lothar,” he amended, “is breathing down out collective necks to get something done. Not that they've done anything either.” Hermione rolled her eyes at this, and Harry gave a small smile.
“They've done some,” he reminded Ron, “one of them, that blond fellow who dropped off their rapports apparently figured out where the fairy things are coming from.”
Hermione perked up, turning towards him, “so where exactly?” she asked, eyes wide, and Harry frowned a bit, confused by her sudden interest in all things fairy.
“North America,” he said, “but, why the sudden interest in the fair folk?” he asked. She blushed a little.
“Well, you know how I've been working on that bill to preserve centaur environments, I'm meeting with a specialist in magical environments, and he's good friends with the fairy specialist, Kirkland, so...you know.” Ron gave a laugh, and the table turned to him.
“She's got a crush,” he sang, barely managing to dodge the bun she threw at his head.
A bit of Francis' and Arthur's history is revealed and Matthew is not a girl.
Two Years Ago: Paris, April 7 th , 2000
“We will be departing Paris in 10 minutes, if any passengers not already on board the train would do so now, we would appreciate it greatly. On départ Paris en 10 minute, s'il a y des passagers qui n'est déjà à bord le train, peuvent vous faites ça tout de suite, ce serait bien apprécié.”
Francis stepped aboard the train quickly, only half listening to the blandly pleasant voice of one of the station attendants, more focused on finding his seat. Showing his ticket to one of the ushers, he waited patiently as the man spoke to one of his colleagues before looking down.
“À la gauche,” he told him somewhat flippantly, obviously bored. Francis nodded, walking down the small hallways until he reached the couchette indicated on his ticket. Noting the sign above the door, Francis suppressed a grimace. He usually travelled first class on trains, he had the money, but last minute arrangements meant he'd had to put up with a second class sleeper, which meant sharing.
Just one person though, he mused silently, knocking on the closed door once before entering. The other occupent was already inside, curled up on one of the seats, nose buried in a book. Without looking up the other man spoke up, gesturing to the top bunk across from him.
“That one's free,” he said, obviously British and probably English, before pausing and looking up. “Er...cette un est...um,” Francis chuckled at the mangled attempt at his mother tongue.
“I understand you fine, sourcils,” he told the other, grinning broadly, “I spent some time in England as a child.” The Englishman sputtered a little, blushing.
“Right,” he managed, face red, “good, I'm Arthur, Kirkland that is.” Francis frowned at the name, something telling him he knew the name.
“Kirkland,” he mused aloud, before realization stuck, “ah, oui, you have brothers, yes?” Arthur grimaced but nodded.
“Two older ones, Rhys and-”
“Duncan,” Francis said, giving a much slier grin, “we were, friends, during my sojourn in England one summer.” Arthur gave him a look which clearly said he knew exactly what 'friends' meant, before turning back to his book.
Francis sat down across from him, having slid the door closed, and studied the younger man. High cheeks and a generally attractive features were offset by the heaviest brows Francis had ever had the misfortune of meeting. The man's looks were saved, so to speak, by his eyes, however. As intriguing as the dead caterpillars glued to the Briton's face were, his eyes, a green the hills of Ireland would be jealous of, were much more captivating.
“What're you staring at?” the other asked, looking suspiciously over his book. Francis waved a hand in dismissal, leaning back in his spot, legs crossed.
“Just admiring a piece of art, sourcils,” he told the other, smile deepening ever so slightly when the other blushed furiously, looking down at his book again.
“Well, don't,” he muttered, ears as red as his face, “and don't call me soorseel either.”
In the year and a half since Francis had last laid eyes on the British wizard, Arthur really hadn't changed much. He was still a little on the too pale side, his hair was still a mess, his eyebrows were still larger than some small nation-states and he still had a mouth that would make an Irish sailor blush. Francis, feeling better than he had in a while, smiled as the mans walk slowed in approach.
“Ah, sourcils,” he greeted happily, “it is so good to see you, yes? Here to get an understanding of our much more effective teaching methods before trudging off to your dreary Scottish school?”
Arthur glared at him, eyes icy, “hardly,” he said dryly, “I'm only here for a few health pastes and potions,” he said stiffly, and Francis's grin melted off his face, fine brows pulling together.
“You are hurt?” he said, peering at the other man closely. Arthur snorted, pushing past him as he walked into the shade of the courtyard.
“Not at all,” he said, “now just take me to the medi witch's rooms.” Francis, long legs making up the difference easily, shook his head.
“Non non,” he told the other, steering him rather suddenly left, away from the main body of the castle and towards a much smaller door in the thick limestone walls, “I will have what you need, and my rooms are much closer.” Arthur bristled at the touch, trying to shake the Frenchman's hand, which was entirely too close to his posterior, off, and failing.
They walked through a dark, and blessedly cool though very short, corridor before pushing open another door and entering some sort of common room. From there, Arthur was lead of a set of steps to the direct right, and then into the second door on the right again.
“This building was added about three hundred years ago,” Francis said conversationally as he unlocked the door and walked in, going to the end of the room and opening a cupboard across from the bed, “that door there,” he said, indicating a second door along he very back wall at the base of four or five stairs, “leads to my office, which at one point would have been the bedroom for whoever taught whichever class was held there.” Arthur grunted, peering into his pocket where Matthew had fled the minute he'd spotted Francis.
Inside, Matthew stared up at him, tiny features etched with terror, eyes wide and possibly watery. Arthur's heart clenched at the look, the urge to cuddle him almost embarrassingly strong. “Don't worry,” he told the other in a whisper, “we're just here to get you patched up, come on out.” Trembling, Matthew hopped onto the slightly hooked finger, clutching the finger tightly. Francis watched with obvious interest, bruise balm, blood replenishing potion and sleeping draught all on display now.
“What have you got, sourcils?” he enquired, as the Brit was still shielding the faerie from view as he tried to calm him down. Arthur gave him a Look, before shrugging.
“Just a little something from the black market,” he said simply and Francis eyed the still hidden something with sudden trepidation. Arthur saw the look and scowled, rolling green eyes. “'S'not dangerous you great bleeding coward,” he muttered, “well, in large groups maybe, but such is not the case so you needn't worry your empty head about it, git.”
Francis, more than used to not entirely called for insults, both from Arthur and others, shook it off, bending down to get a better look before pulling away again eyes wide.
“Un fée?” he said, shock evident, Arthur nodded, regretting it the moment Francis was back peering into his cupped palms. “O, la pauvre,” he cooed, “pas des vetements, et ses petites ailes, et,” he paused, noting Matthew's wide eyes, “oh elle est juste tellement mingon!” He exclaimed, and Arthur stared at him in shock, shifting his gaze to Matthew when he spoke up.
“M-monsieur,” he said softly, still managing to catch the Frenchman's attention, “je suis pas une femme,” Francis blinked, once, before the cooing recommenced.
“Et il est français !” the man almost shouted, and Arthur felt his lips purse. He never had been particularly fond of Beauxbatons.
À la gauche - To the left
Une fée - a faeire
O, la pauvre...pas des vetements, et ses petites ailes, et...oh elle est juste tellement mingon! - Oh, the poor [dear]...no clothes, and her poor little wings and...oh she's just so very cute!
Monsieur, je suis pas une femme - [Sir], I'm not a girl
Et il est français! - and he's French!
Alfred's wings get hurt, Arthur hates Rome and Francis loses a shirt.
The hills outside of Cannes were almost violet in the last of the sun's rays ricocheted off clouds and pollution. “It is beautiful, is it not?” Francis' voice was quiet in the easy almost silence of dusk, and Arthur couldn't even bring himself to swear or frown at the other wizard.
“It's good enough,” he admitted, and Francis raised an eyebrow.
“Oh?” he asked, “and what is better? Somewhere in England? I hear the areas around Hogwarts are beautiful in an untamed way, or maybe you prefer cities? London? Paris? Ro-?” Arthur stood up straight, cutting the other off as he turned to look at him.
“Not Rome.” He said resolutely, “not. Rome.” Francis nodded, blue eyes inscrutable, face shadowed in the dying light.
“Of course,” he acquiesced, “how senseless of me.” Arthur gave grunt, turning around to lean over the high walls of Beauxbatons's courtyard. Francis joined him to his left, arms crossed over the limestone. “But where?” he asked.
Arthur was silent for another moment before speaking, voice soft again. “The sea,” he said simply. “Being able to look around and see nothing but blue water and bluer skies. Seeing the way the world seems to end at the horizon, as if it drops away to nothing. It's breath taking.” Francis turned his head, studying the man next to him once more.
“You always were hopelessly romantic,” he told the other, voice fond, and Arthur, still looking forward decided to say nothing. Sighing, he looked back out over the wall, vaguely facing Cannes, though it was too far to see. “Matthieu is adorable,” he told the other, changing the topic of conversation after five or so minutes.
Arthur's mouth, despite the Brit's best efforts, curled up ever so slightly. “That he is,” he agreed, “though I can't help but wonder...” he drifted off, not wanting to voice his suspicions.
“Wonder?” the Frenchman prompted, and Arthur shook his head.
“If he's all alone now,” he said simply, “faerie poachers aren't known for being gentle, it's likely those he lived with were killed during the hunt, or were sold, probably to potions makers or as augurey food. Francis paled visibly, blinking.
“Oh le pauvre cheri,” he breathed, darting a glance towards the door leading to his rooms. “I hope not.”
“Yes,” Arthur said simply, and silence engulfed the two again.
“You must be hungry,” Francis said, after maybe a minute, maybe an hour, “I will get us some supper, d'accord?” Arthur paused, the contrary part him telling him to say no, though his stomach disagreed emphatically with that.
“There better be some bloody tea too,” he told the other as a way to compromise, “good tea, nothing too froggy.” Francis gave an indulgent smile, turning back towards his rooms.
“I wouldn't dream of it sourcils,” he told the other, “not in a million years.”
Matthew panted as he pulled off another black berry, adding it to the little basket suspended from a thicker part of the thorny vine. Already the blonds pale hands were stained a dark colour and sticky. Only half aware, the faerie stuck his pointer in his mouth, sucking thoughtfully, searching for another ripe berry. Catching sight of one, a little farther from his basket than he would have liked, the faerie flapped over to the berry. Placing his hands near the top where it was attached to the vine, Matthew made to tug at it.
Then he heard it. At first it sounded like an animal rustling in the bushes nearby, only the near silent curses and whimpers alerting Matthew that it was something else. “Hello?” he queried softly, peering into the spiky brambles. Had any humans been near at the time, they would have maybe picked up on what sounded like the tinkle of broken glass. To the person in the bushes, however, it sounded very promising.
“'Lo?” it, or rather he, called back, “if anyone's out there, could you, uh, help?” Matthew looked in the vines, and saw a flash of gold.
“Are you alright?” the not trapped faerie asked, nervously pushing aside a branch of the vine.
“We-ell,” the other said, obviously considering the question, “I've been better.” Matthew giggled a little, before looking around.
“Um,” he said, not knowing quite what to do, “if, if you stay still, I can go get help and-”
“No!” the other faerie cried, and Matthew blinked. “I mean, I-I, don't go,” the other whimpered, sounding scared, and Matthew sighed.
“Alright,” he said, “I'll come get you, but you do need to stay still.” Standing up on the branch the young faerie folded his wings close to his body, before ducking into the depths of the bramble bush. Inside it was quite dark, though not completely without light, and it didn't take Matthew long to make his way to the other faerie. “Hello,” he said softly, now close enough to touch the other, “oh dear.”
The faerie wasn't like any he'd ever seen. Of course, the short blond hair and bright blue eyes were normal, but his wing were distinctly unlike anything Matthew had ever been approached by. They were almost moth like, a creamy two toned colour, the base of wings almost yellow. They were also in absolutely horrible shape.
Gently, the blue winged faerie touched the out edge of the others wing, making the other jump. “I'll have to pull the thorns out you know,” he told the other. The moth-boy nodded, only whimpering slightly when the first thorn was worked free. Though it only took maybe five minutes, to both faeries, the process of stripping the thorns seemed to last for hours, until finally the last one was gently pried out.
Leading the newcomer out of the bush, Matthew looked around, sighing in relief when a familiar brown head could be spotted near where he'd left his basket.
“Matthew?” the brown headed faerie called, looking around, “you can't just leave food lying around you know.” This faerie was obviously older, his wings a saturated red, marked with black, and he raised a dark eyebrow at the sight of his son perched on a branch, another unknown faerie leaning against him. “Matthew,” he said again, this time a warning in his voice. Matthew gave him a sheepish grin.
“Well I couldn't just leave him.”
Matthew jerked awake, blinking sleepily in the darkness. Sniffling slightly at the memory, he looked around, trying to remember where he'd ended up. He was on a bed, a very big one, a human one, resting on a pillow, a small piece of cloth covering him.
The room was made of stone, though it had high windows along two walls, opening the whole thing up beautifully. The faerie sat up, still sniffing back tears as he looked around at the assorted other things in the room. Seeing no one around, and his wings still incredibly sore, Matthew curled back up, rubbing at his eyes.
Alfred yawned widely as he woke, stretching his arms high, twinging at the pain in his wings. Looking around, the faerie was intrigued by his surroundings. It looked nothing like home, no draping moss interwoven with tiny white blooms. Instead, he seemed to be in the tops of a tree, resting on a wide wooden platform that surrounded three or four branches. Above him were green leaves, bright in the morning light, and Alfred dimly wondered how long he'd been asleep. Standing, he noted the assorted hammocks and beds on the platform.
“Good morning,” a pleasant voice said from behind him. Jumping slightly, Alfred whipped around, recognizing the boy who'd saved him yesterday.
“Morning!” he greeted excitedly, “we didn't get a chance to talk earlier, but I'm Alfred.” The other faerie giggled at his enthusiasm, smile showing a set of dimples.
“I'm Matthew,” he told the other, shyly fluttering his wings, “mama says you'll be able to fly a little by the end of the week.” Alfred blinked at that before remembering the thorn bushes yesterday. Peering over his back, blinking when he realized they had been covered in a fine gauze, he recognized spider silk bandages anywhere. “I was actually sent up to clean and bandage them again,” he told the other, blushing slightly as he gestured with an acorn pot Alfred hadn't noticed in his hands.
“Oh,” the wounded faerie said, “um,” they stared at each other awkwardly for a few more moments, not sure what to do. Generally speaking, touching another faerie's wings was a very personal thing to do, usually reserved for mates and parents. Blushing even harder, the blue winged faerie stepped forward.
“Well,” he reasoned, “I've already touched them a few times, another won't hurt.” Alfred nodded, returning to his bed, looking around.
“Should I lay down or is sitting fine?” Matthew shrugged, prying open the lid of the little pot.
“Either or,” the forest faerie said. Immediately, a small pop sounded, and a strong but not entirely unpleasant smell assaulted both faeries.
“What is it?” he asked, turning to look in the pot. Inside was a fairly thin brown liquid which smelt strongly of pine.
“Pine sap, crushed elder flower and blue violets and witch hazel,” the other said, swooshing it around a bit before looking up at Alfred, “turn around please,” he asked, and Alfred complied. Gently, the sticky but light spider silk was taken off his wings, and Alfred started becoming very aware of how damn itchy they were.
Once the bandages were off, Alfred heard the plop of liquid, and something cool, with a slight sting, was applied first to the base of his wings. Alfred jumped a bit at the touch, before waving off Matthew's frantic apologies.
“'S fine,” he told the other, looking up, “but, where are we?”
Matthew, from behind the other, paused with his hand still in the small pot, “Canada,” he said finally, not quite sure if Alfred had a handle on basic geography let alone more complex things like provinces.
Alfred's eyes widened, and he whipped around to stare at Matthew, only to be pushed back into place, “no way,” he said, “it's not snowing!”
Matthew frowned at that, bemused, before chuckling, “it's July,” he said, “of course it's not snowing.” Alfred muttered softly at that, ear going red, before he brushed off the gentle chastisement.
“Where in Canada are we then?” he asked, and Matthew shrugged.
“Northern Ontario,” he said simply, and Alfred sighed.
“That's, really far from home,” he said, and Matthew resumed his task, gently applying the sticky liquid to Alfred's bruised and scrapped wings. “Really far.”
“Home?” Matthew asked, finishing the right wing and moving to the left, “where's that?”
Alfred gave a grim smile, not caring that Matthew couldn't see it, “the Everglades.”
Matthew paused, eyes wide, his grasp on the acorn pot almost failing. “In Florida?” he squeaked, and Alfred turned to look at him before nodding. “But, how did you end up here?” he demanded, confusion evident.
Alfred turned back around, trying to hide the blush on his face, as well as the tears that tried to well up. “There was a really bad storm, we were moving in land for the hurricane season, and I got caught in it. By the time it had stopped, I didn't now where I was, just that I was no longer on the coast. I flew for a few weeks trying to find another group of faeries, until I well, you know.” Matthew nodded, almost finished with the liquid and reaching for the pile of bandages nearby.
“How did you end up in the blackberry bush?” he asked, gently wrapping both wings.
Alfred coughed, face flushed. “I almost got caught by a sparrow,” he admitted. Matthew was silent for a moment before erupting into laughter, his job done. Alfred felt yet another blush on his face, though this time it wasn't in embarrassment. Matthew had a very nice laugh.
“Matthieu,” a soft voice sounded in his ear and the faerie struggled to wake again, pulling himself out of his dream, “certainement tu a faim, oui?” Matthew nodded, only half listening to the voice as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Blinking, he found himself being stared down at by a rather handsome, for a human anyway, face with blue eyes and some stubble.
“Oh!” he cried, sitting up fully, before realizing he was still naked and pulling the make shift blanket up to his chest, “bonjour M.,” he said, blushing. Francis chuckled at the boy's self consciousness, before standing up fully from his bent position and heading to the foot of his bed, opening a drawer.
“Ah, mon bijou,” he cooed at the other, “ce n'est pas un bon jour, mais bonsoir.” Matthew's eyes widened at that, and he twisted slightly to look out the window. Outside the light was dying, painting the sky a fiery golden orange, a deep purple creeping down from the vast sky.
Francis looked up as an alarmed sound tinkling sound reached his ears, “mon cher,” he called softly, “I'm afraid you'll have to repeat that.”
Matthew gave him a strange look before repeating, more calmly this time. “How long have I slept?” he asked, standing, struggling to keep his balance on the pillow, his blanket now being used as a toga.
“Oh, a day or so,” the Frenchman said, finally pulling out a pair of grey slacks and a light knit long sleeved blue shirt. “C'est beau,” he murmured to himself, before pulling a long, pale and gently tapered wand from his sleeve.
Matthew watched in wonder as he muttered softly, giving a small round swish punctuated by two sharp taps. Immediately, the clothing in his hand shrunk to a very small size indeed, and the Frenchman eyed it critically, before looking to Matthew. “How tall are you Matthieu?” he asked, holding up the tiny shirt, one eyes closed.
Matthew paused, before thinking, “ten centimetres,” he said finally, confidant that he hadn't changed his size lately. Francis nodded, repeating the motion.
“Voila,” he said, passing Matthew the clothing, “that will work for now. Tomorrow we will go to Cannes, or no maybe Marseille, and get you some clothing of your own. You will have to do without undergarments for tonight.” Matthew nodded, sticking his tongue out as he pulled on the pants, balancing well despite the soft surface he was one. Looking at the shirt, he looked back up at Francis, face a little red.
“Uh,” he said, and Francis' eyes widened.
“Oh oui,” he said, taking the shirt back and peering at it. “Well,” he told the other, once again swishing his wand, “you can keep this shirt.” Matthew giggled, taking it back, new wing holes now available.
“Merci M.,” he told the other, and Francis tutted at him.
“Just Francis,” he told the other, smiling even as Arthur stormed in, heavy brows drawn together. “Bonsoir sourcils, we were just going to come down, surely you managed to find the dinning room?”
Arthur just scowled at Francis even more, “I was just making sure you were coming,” he snarled at the other before turning on his heel. Matthew watched him go, confused, before clambering onto Francis' slender hand, looking up at him.
“Sourcils?” he asked, looking bemused, “does he know you call him eyebrows?”
Another plot point it introduced, Luna writes on blue paper, Hermione prefers muggle restaurants and Scandinavian coffee addiction is hinted at.
Just in case we're confused
Norway = Tobias Dahl
Iceland - Erik Ólöfson-Dahl
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Tobias Dahl, number one expert on magical creatures in all of Norway and Denmark and only expert in the preservation of magical habitats stepped out of his brother's flat in Copenhagen into the warm morning air. Around him people walked or biked, smiling and chatting, and despite his best efforts, the Norwegian smiled.
Next to him, his brother was scowling, a pair of ridiculously large sunglasses on his face. “Let's just go get some goddamn coffee,” he hissed, walking forward briskly. Tobias rolled his eyes at the behaviour, but his smile didn't slip off. Easily keeping pace with the other, Tobias studied his brother.
“Really Erik, you shouldn't be drinking so much,” he told the other calmly, and the platinum blond gave him a hard stare.
“What are you, my mother?” he asked, shoving his hands in his jeans pocket.
“No,” Tobias said easily, “your mother still lives in Iceland,” he paused, ignoring, the groan of frustration from the other, “and I can't knit.”
Crossing the street the two brothers, or rather, half brothers, approached and entered a corner coffee shop. Inside, it was quiet and mostly empty, so they were able to get right to the counter. “Two coffees please,” Erik said, eyes not even flickering towards the menu, “one large and black, the other medium with sugar.” The girl at the counter nodded, looking bored. Soon, two cups of coffee to go were handed to the two men and they exited again, the Icelandic man practically cooing at his drink.
“When do you leave for London?” he asked after five or so minutes of walking down the busy street. Tobias looked down at his watch, taking another drink.
“My meeting is at noon, so I'll have to clear my papers allowing me to floo internationally, which I've already done but you know how bureaucrats are, so I'll probably leave in a half hour, maybe shop some while I'm in London.” Erik nodded, draining the last of coffee cup before peering in it sadly.
“Who are you meeting again?” he asked, and Tobias smiled.
“Originally I was to meet with Rolf Schmander and Hermione Granger, however, from what I understand Rolf is indisposed and Ms. Granger is bringing along someone involved with werewolf rights.” Erik frowned, tilting his head in question.
“You've nothing to do with werewolves,” he told his brother and Tobias grinned.
“Well, remember, I'm also technically a lawyer.”
“Rolf Liebling,” a voice called up a set of birch wood stairs to a bed ridden man in a large bed, “there is an owl for you, do you want me to bring it up with your lunch?”
Rolf Scamander, 24 years old and for now living with his parents, opened his mouth to answer yes, only to hear the heavy clomp of his mother on the stairs. He never understood why women asked questions when they were going to do it whether you said yes or no.
“Here you go,” she said, placing the tray down, a small bowl of soup, half a sandwich, a vial of something that probably didn't look half as foul as it tasted, and a huge mug of tea adorning the painted white vessel. Next to it all, placed just under the plate of the sandwich, to make sure it didn't slip around, was an envelope. A blue envelope. Thanking his mother, he waited until she left before carefully slipping the letter from underneath the plate, and smiled hugely when he read the inscription on it.
To One Mr. Rolf Scamander, living with his parents for now. Chuckling slightly, he opened it carefully, pulling out the short letter in it.
I am terribly sorry to hear about your misadventure with hat lethifold and that poisonous tree frog. I hope from now on you remember that just because it doesn't have magical properties doesn't mean that an animal isn't dangerous, after all, a dogs howl can rupture your eardrums.
I'm still in Papa New Guinea, but I've yet to come across any wrackspurts, however the other day I came across an entire little village of people who lived in tree houses, it was most fascinating. At any rate, tomorrow I must leave for Australia, there is a group expedition going to look for wrackspurts in the MacDonell Ranges, and I am most excited for it.
Hoping you are feeling better,
Rolf smiled, folding the letter back into it's neat three parts before discretely tucking it under his pillow. His mother did not need to know it was from a girl just yet.
“Not that I mind,” Bill said, “but is there any particular reason you picked a muggle restaurant to discuss magical happenings at?” Next to him, Hermione shrugged, secretly very glad that the tall red head had taken into account the fact that she was much shorter than him, and even a tad shorter than Fleur, and had chosen to walk at a slower pace than normal.
“I like the atmosphere in muggle restaurants better,” she explained, and Bill didn't press the issue. He didn't really care all that much.
“Fair enough,” he said, and the two lapsed into silence. Soon, the two were at the restaurant, a sweet looking little place with a lovely patio.
“Hello and welcome to Two, If By Sea,” greeted a bubbly blonde girl, her blue eyes sparkling, “have you got reservations?”
Hermione nodded, “yes, patio table for three, under H. Granger.” The girl scanned her little book before nodding once and pulling out three menus.
“Right after me Ms. Granger,” she told her, before heading off into the small cafe and opening the large French doors to the patio. “Should I send a server now or later?” Hermione looked to Bill who shrugged.
“I think we can wait until Mr. Dahl gets here, can't we?” he asked, and Hermione nodded.
“Very good,” the girl said, waltzing back to her station, smile in place.
“What an awful job,” Bill commented, leaning back in his little rod iron chair, always smiling at people. Hermione gave a small laugh, before a flash of almost white blond caught her eye. “What is it ?” Bill asked when she twisted around trying to see who had caused the flash, only for the person to have disappeared into the same cafe.
“I thought I just say Malfoy,” she explained, only to be silenced as the towheaded person reappeared.
He was most certainly not Draco Malfoy.
The man was dressed smartly in muggle clothing, a simple blue suit with a white button up, but nonetheless he looked very suave. Approaching their table he gave a slight nod before speaking. “Ms. Granger and company, I presume?” he asked in lightly accented English and Hermione nodded while Bill stood.
“William Weasley,” he told the other, “just call me Bill, Mr. Dahl.” The pale Norwegian wrinkled his nose slightly as he shook Bill's hand.
“Please,” he said, “just call me Tobias.” Taking his seat, he leaned forward, a glint in his blue eyes. “Now, tell me about this werewolf problem, I've heard nothing about it.”
Bill settled back down, also leaning forward, appreciative of the man's friendly but professional attitude. “A group of werewolves has recently started vying for equal rites with the ministry,” he explained, careful not to call too much attention from the muggles. “That in and of itself is no problem, a worthy goal even, but at the same time there has been a sudden and drastic increase in attacks made by werewolves, and the leader of the group is an unknown.”
“Yes, from what we've been able to gather he's very much an alpha among alphas, and possibly an escapee from the Northern Institute.”
Tobias blinked, looking disturbed at that, and he shifted uncomfortably, “that place is a huge, legal torture chamber,” he remarked coolly, eyes suddenly hard. Bill nodded, a little shocked by the rage this man expressed for a nameless, faceless stranger. “Do you know anything else about him?” Tobias asked, and Bill shook his head.
“We're trying to track him down, hopefully he's articulate and able to help present a case, but for now we're looking for someone, anyone, to provide us with legal support.” Tobias nodded, lacing his fingers together.
“Well, I myself can help some,” he told the other, obviously thinking, “but I shall have to persuade someone more,” he paused before grinning, “ruthless, to help.” He and Bill traded a secret grin and Hermione coughed, resisting the urge to roll her eyes at the penchant boys everywhere had for mischief.
“I think it's time to order,” she prodded gently, and Tobias and Bill nodded, Tobias' grin fading to a smile.
“And then we can discuss your kelpie problem.”
Liebling - darling
Matthew's age is revealed, Arthur gets a sunburn and just add buttons.
Milan, Italy, August 2nd, 2000
“It's really not that big a deal Francis,” Arthur said tiredly as he was all but dragged through the streets of muggle Milan. Francis stopped suddenly, turning to look at Arthur, one hip cocked to the side.
“It is a big deal Arthur,” Francis said, sounding as if the word coming from Arthur's mouth were in a completely alien dialect, never before uttered on Earth. “One does not go to Paris without shopping, and one certainly doesn't go to Milan and not shop. It is,” he paused, looking for the right word, “it is sacrilege.” He ignored Arthur's snort of disbelief, resuming his trek through the fine streets of downtown Milan. “I really shouldn't be surprised,” he said, more to himself than anything, “you don't dress very well, one might think you were hiding something.” He turned again, eyeing the shorter blond. “You aren't, are you? I once read a teaching text that warned youngest children are prone to body image issues and I assure you, sourcils, you've nothing to worry about.”
Arthur blushed bright red as the Frenchman spoke, ignoring the sly looks the people around him were giving them, wishing for once that less people on the continent spoke English. “Let's just go get whatever it is you're looking for,” Arthur muttered, grabbing the others arm and dragging him mindlessly forward. Francis laughed, stopping and forcing Arthur to do so before grabbing Arthur's hand, a softer smile than before on his handsome face.
“Ah sourcils,” he said gently, walking at a slower pace, “to fix your wardrobe, we're going to need so very many things.”
Matthew, hidden in one of Francis' front pockets, much to Arthur's displeasure, watched in interest as the people of Marseilles walked by. Matthew watched entranced as people bartered at small boutiques, men, women and children weaving in and out of the bustling crowd. For the faerie, this was the busiest place he'd ever seen, even more so than the awful black market, and it was both extremely interesting and extremely intimidating.
“So where,” Arthur asked Francis icily, or at least tried to sound icy, though there was a tinge of something Matthew recognized as longing in it, “do you expect to find clothing for a forest faerie?”
Francis chuckled at the other, ignoring Arthur's squawk of indignation that followed the sound. “Sourcils,” he said patiently, “Matthieu and I have discussed clothing already, as he was getting dressed, and I'll have to do more work on his shirts, but I assure you, he'll be fine.” Arthur huffed at that, looking at Matthew, who was barely visible in Francis shirt pocket.
“Lad?” he asked, waiting for confirmation and the faerie hauled himself out of the pocket some more, showing a clothed chest.
“Just add buttons,” he told the other solemnly, and Arthur let himself smile at the tiny blond.
“Very well,” he said, “now let's get this over with, I hate shopping.” Francis sighed at that, shaking his head and Matthew slid back into the pocket, making sure he could still see.
If nothing else, Francis turned out to be a very efficient shopper, and by the end of an hour they had several pairs of pants, as well as several shirts and sweaters. Francis seemed content to leave Matthew with this amount of clothing. “do you require shoes, mon petit?” he questioned as they passed a boutique selling leather goods. Matthew paused, obviously considering the question, before shaking his head.
“No, not exactly,” he said, “in the winter we wear very thick sock like things that are water proofed, but shoes are heavy and make for bad landings so we avoid them when possible.” Francis nodded in understanding, pausing to think.
“Sourcils will have to locate some wool socks for you when you leave then,” he murmured, more to himself than anything, “I do not think we'll get any good ones here, and,” he flicked his gaze over to Arthur, who was looking miserable off to the side, “we best take pity on the poor Brit and go back to the school.” Matthew, who apparently lacked in Francis' teasing spirit just looked at the red faced man in concern, nodding.
“Oui,” he agreed seriously and Francis laughed.
“Come along rosbif,” he said, slipping into a nearby alley, “on quit!”
“'Bout bloody time,” Arthur snarled, slipping in after them, thankfully remembering to charm the bag he was carrying shut.
With two small pops the wizards appeared at the base of Beauxbaton's hill, and Arthur gave a sigh of relief. It was still early afternoon, so the sun was almost deadly, but Arthur was beyond relieved to be away from the shopping centre of Marseilles, not even really caring that they hadn't stopped for lunch and he was famished.
“Are you coming?” Francis called, already half way up the hill, “if we're quick we'll show up for the tail end of lunch.” Swearing, Arthur sprinted after the two francophones, huffing as he finally caught up with them.
“You're a bleeding twat,” he told Francis, who gave a light laugh, but didn't bother to respond. Once they were in the school proper Francis paused, taking the bags from Arthur.
“You two go to lunch,” he said, “I'll floo down once I get these in place.” Matthew crawled partially out of Francis' pocket, collapsing onto Arthur's palm. The two men watched in concern as the faerie flapped his wings slightly, wincing as he did so.
“Are they still sore lad?” Arthur asked, peering down at the small creature. Matthew nodded miserably, sitting up, rubbing a hand at his eyes.
“They'll be fine in a few days,” he said, and Arthur looked at him in question. “My mother is, was,” he amended, “the healer for our flitter.”
There was a small awkward pause as Francis and Arthur traded looks which managed to be both guilty and pointed, as if prompting one another to broach the subject of Matthew's presence. Finally, being the more emotionally invested in the faerie populous as a whole, Arthur sighed bringing Matthew up to his eye height, pretending he didn't feel any glee when Francis frowned at him and leaned down as well.
“Matthew lad,” Arthur said slowly, trying to ask his question in a sensitive way, despite sensitivity not being his forte. So to speak. “What, exactly,” he paused, obviously rethinking his avenue of questioning, “how did you end up at La Halle. Exactly.” Matthew wasn't looking at either man. He instead had his head down, studiously avoiding the humans' gazes, using his pointer to doodle tiny, ticklish patterns of Arthur's palm, privately noting the calluses and storing the question away for later.
“It, it was early one evening, in, in May I think, we don't keep track too well to be honest,” he cleared his throat, his hand coming to a stop as he clenched it on his lap. “I was with, with,” he swallowed again, the tears easily audible in his voice, “I was with A-Al,” he seemed unable to finish his sentence, and Arthur frowned, worry creasing his brow.
“You were with Al,” Arthur said, “someone important?” Matthew nodded, still not looking up but his wings were drooping as much as possible, and his body trembled sightly.
“Yes,” he whispered, and the humans didn't prompt him to explain. “I was with him, we were teaching the youngest faeries how to fly,” he looked up, his face pale but dry, a shaky smile on his face. “Maura's twins were the smallest but they were doing so well,” he sniffed, his hands coming up to his hair, almost tugging out the blond strands, not even stopping at the distressed noise Francis made in the back of his throat. “Then there, there was this noise like I'd never heard and the kids started crying and Al, Al flipped out, he seemed to recognize it but everyone was screaming and it was getting dark and Alfred was trying to get the kids away and then there were humans and auguries everywhere and everything,” he gave a shuddering sob, cutting off his increasingly hysterical account. “Everything went black.”
The two humans looked at the sobbing faerie in Arthur's palm, and before the Brit could so much as blink Francis had somehow managed to scoop the tiny creature into his own hands, cooing at him softly in French. Matthew continued to sob, sounding positively broken, and Francis sighed, holding the little creature to his chest, shoving his bags at Arthur.
“He has not eaten since you brought him in,” Francis said authoritatively, “you will take these to my room, or my office if it's locked, and I will take Matthew to get something to eat. That will give him time to compose himself.”
Arthur blinked, looking down at the different coloured bags in his hand before scowling at the Frenchman. “You don't even know what faeries eat,” he protested, albeit lamely. Francis, already walking away from Arthur didn't even pause, just barely looking over his shoulder.
“Non,” he agreed, “but he does.” Unable to argue with that, Matthew wasn't exactly your common doxy after all, Arthur sighed, turning on his heel and heading toward Francis rooms. Maybe he'd take some pages from his muggle acquaintances and toilet paper the damn place.
Gilbert starts his new job, yet another character is introduced and it rains a lot.
Gilbert Beilschmidt growled softly under his breath as a bright red sign told him that his flight from Munich to London would be delayed for several hours. Around him others muttered under their breath, glaring outside at the complete downpour coming from the sky.
"It looks like the Isar somehow ended up in the sky," a man next to Gilbert remarked, his wife trying to sooth a fussy baby.
"Ja," Gilbert said, not really wanting to talk. The man didn't seem to notice.
"Ah," he said, "are you a local?" Gilbert, sensing the impending conversation sighed, sitting down.
"No," he told the man, turning to look at him, "I grew up in Berlin." The man smiled encouragingly at him, accepting the still whimpering child from his wife.
"I grew up in Argentina," he said easily, cooing at the baby in what was probably Spanish or Portuguese or whatever the majority of Argentina spoke, "my mother raised myself, my five brothers and my three sisters by herself, this little wonder," he gestured unnecessarily with the still somewhat unhappy baby, "well he makes me wonder how she did it. You have any siblings?"
Gilbert nodded, a small, almost invisible smile creeping up on his face. "Just one younger brother, Ludwig." The man noticed the pride in Gilbert's voice, his smile growing.
"Are you close?" he asked, and Gilbert nodded, smile vanishing.
"My mother left when Ludwig was," he paused, thinking, "seven weeks maybe? Anyway, dad wasn't around much, he died from either a car crash or liver failure, don't remember, when I was eight and Ludwig was two." The man frowned in sympathy, not saying anything. "Our grandfather raised us after that, was crippled during the second world war so he couldn't work. He died," Gilbert paused, trying to recollect when his grandfather had died. "Three months before my seventeenth birthday," he said finally. "Somehow Ludwig and I stayed away from any child services and I took care of him until he was old enough." The man's face was absolutely sorrowful at this point, and he patted Gilbert's knee.
"That must have been very hard for you," he said earnestly, and Gilbert tried, and failed, to hide his eye roll. The man chuckled, his son having finally quieted down. "So," he said, brightening suddenly, "why are you going to London?"
Gilbert stepped off the aeroplane, thankful to be back on the ground and not at all pleased to see that it was also raining in London, though he wasn't surprised. Making his way to the main terminal he ignored the luggage area, having your bags in your pockets and the size of a button is useful make no mistake. He scanned the crowd, looking for whoever had been sent to pick him up, barely noticing the tiny blonde woman holding a sign with his false name on it.
Approaching her, Gilbert felt suddenly and inexplicably uncomfortable and at the last second walked past her. She didn't notice him, obviously not having been given a description, as even at Heathrow there had no surplus of short albinos walking around. He stopped a few feet behind her, scowling when he noticed the silver crucifix hanging out of her back pocket.
Now annoyed and more irritated than before Gilbert considered his options and quickly he decided that he wasn't in the mood to exchange blows, verbal, physical or magical with anyone. He rummaged around in his front pocket, walking out of the airport and hailing a cab, the blonde woman never sensing his presence, meaning she wasn't an envoy from some particularly territorial werewolf.
Sliding in the back of a small cab he handed the rumpled card he'd located in his back pocket to the driver, watching with a hint of smugness as the annoyed blonde woman stomped out into the rain, sign still in hand, trying to spot him. Her eyes, brown he noted, slid right over him and he filed away the little details he noticed, particularly the strangely mossy smell he had smelt coming from her. He'd smelt it before, though he couldn't remember where, so he pushed it away, sure he's remember eventually.
The address on the slip of paper he'd been owled turned out to be for a pub, the Leaky Cauldron, and as he entered it several conversations stopped. At the bar was an older man who gave Gilbert a smile. "Newcomer's catch 'em off guard is all," the man offered, and Gilbert nodded.
"A shot of whiskey please," Gilbert said and the man nodded.
"Blended, malt, grain?" he prompted, and Gilbert paused before shrugging.
"Whatever is cheapest," he decided, and the barkeep laughed.
"Of course," the man said, pouring something in a small glass and passing it to Gilbert. "And call me Tom."
"Sure thing," Gilbert muttered slapping down his owed amount and downing the drink, wincing slightly at the burn, before turning on his stool to survey his company. Mostly it was fairly typical, slightly shabby man and women. There were a few small groups of young professionals, probably workers from Diagon Alley, and one family eating a meal, but nothing really stood out.
Expect, of course, the giant man sitting in shadows in the corner. Being bitten by a werewolf came with a number of downsides, can't get employment, usually, hard to find somewhere to live, usually, have to paranoid about where your food is kept, don't want any silver or other deadly things getting in, but it had upsides too.
For instance, Gilbert was able to see that the man was impeccably dressed, had perfect posture and was very alert. He could smell the fact that he had showered earlier, liked his vodka and that he was a werewolf. Taking a deep breath Gilbert stood, approaching the table. By the time he made it there the taller man was obviously watching him, and even in the shadows Gilbert was more than aware of the bright white smile directed his way.
"Mr. Beilschmidt I assume." the man said, his voice smooth and accented, certainly not English.
"Ja." Gilbert said, sliding in across from him. "You're my employer?"
"More or less," the man said, "I'm sorry no one was there to great you at the airport, there has been a resurgence of werewolf hunters and they got wind of you're coming."
"Werewolf hunters," Gilbert said, more to try out the word than as a question. "They legal?" The large man gave a small laugh, almost a giggle.
"No," he said, "a few of the aurors are incensed by them. Most don't care." Gilbert nodded, looking around.
"We can speak here?" he said, and the man stood, shaking his head.
"No point." he said simply, "you will report your findings here," he tapped the table, "every Friday. If you find nothing, you write that instead. If someone other than myself is here, leave." Gilbert nodded, opening his mouth to ask a question only to be cut off by the other apparating away. Blinking, he sighed, feeling a little disgruntled by this whole thing before reaching across the table and downing the left over vodka.
"Damn waste of alcohol," he muttered, setting the now finished glass down. Shaking his head he left the building, heading back out into muggle London, wonder where the hell he was going to stay.
A glimpse at faerie politics and a big decision is made.
Sun dappled the floor of the forest and silence reigned, punctuated only by the chattering of small rodents and the hum of insects. To the untrained eye it was calm, soothing and undisturbed. To those who knew of the magical world, however, the upper branches of a tangle of poplar and birch trees were nothing short of hectic.
"Alfred," a weary looking faerie with greying temples sighed, rubbing his nose, "enough of this boy, we haven't the numbers to go chasing down hunters, and we don't have a reason too either so if you jus-"
"A reason?" a blond faerie, the youngest in the group was standing in the middle of a circle of his elders, fists balled in anger, face furious. "They. Took. Matthew. That is a damn good reason to go looking."
"Do not interrupt me," the older faerie snapped, "you know as well as I do that looking for Matthew is a fruitless endeavour." From the crowd came a choked sob and Alfred's indignant anger seemed to waver, though only for a moment.
"No," he said, "I do not know that. Matthew is my mate," he stressed the word, looking around, "I love him more than anyone, anything under the sun, so no, I do not think looking for him is fruitless or pointless or anything less than the most important thing ever." He continued to stare at his audience in anger, desperately searching for anyone who would sympathize when a woman pushed her way forward.
"Alfred," she said, violet-blue eyes brimming with tears, "please stop this Alfred." At the stubborn look on his face she swallowed, fighting back sobs of despair. "Matthew is gone, if an augerey didn't eat him some, some depraved human has had him chopped up for potions bits." She shuddered at that, whipping at the tears that fell, "we don't have any chance of getting him back, no matter how much you or I want him back here." By now she was cling to Alfred, her pale hands wrapped around his arm, her brilliant violet and yellow wings dropping in sadness.
"Laura," Alfred's voice was softer, his appreciation for this woman obviously, "Matthew isn't dead. I can feel it, I mean, you're his mother, surely," he too swallowed back tears, "surely you or, or John can still feel it. That he's out there somewhere." She just shook her head, fingers clutching harder.
"Please Alfred, I know he was your mate and I know you loved him and will love him for all your days, but do not let this consume you," she shook him here, desperate, "if you don't, don't learn to live with this you will go mad and," she lowered her voice here, not wanting the others watching on to hear, "and Matthew wouldn't want that."
Alfred jerked away, eyes wide and hurt. "Laura," he said, "I know, I know if Matthew was dead he wouldn't want me to waste away or, or I dunno, go nuts and convince myself I'm a chipmunk, but he isn't dead and I also know there is no way in Tir na n-Og he'd want or expect me to sit on my ass while he was off being tortured by Oberon knows who!" Laura sighed, pulling away from him, falling into the embrace of her own mate who looked at Alfred with pleading eyes.
"Alfred," he started only for the young blond to throw his arms up in disgust.
"Fine! Fine!" he snarled, turning on his heel, "just fine! Have it your way and when Matthew does end up in a potion we'll all know who to blame!"
"Alfred! Come back here son we'll talk this out, help you and-"
"Oh no!" Alfred yelled back, dropping from the branch to the one below, "nuh uh, I'm going to go live with the chipmunks now, so good riddance!"
Laura finally did cave, crumbling to the ground sobbing as her mate tried to soothe her. "He'll be alright," John said softly, "he just needs some time." Laura said nothing, her blond hair fisted in trembling hands. Around them the small assembly shifted uncomfortably until the eldest of the group sighed.
"Have off then," he said tiredly, "we commence normal activities tomorrow."
Several trees away Alfred collapsed onto a moss covered branch overlooking a small lake. With a sigh he pulled his knees to his chest, resting his chin on them. "Mattie," he said softly to the empty lake, "what do I do now? I really need your help babe, you're the brains here you know so if you could give me a hint, that'd be sweet. Awesome even."
Nothing happened of course, Alfred was aware that Matthew, for all that he was a gorgeous intelligent compassionate individual, did not have super hearing, but he could not help but feel disappointed.
"Does this mean I shouldn't come after you?" he managed, only to almost fall off the mossy branch as the wind picked up."Woah," he said, flapping mothlike wings to stay up, "calm down Ma-" he was interrupted by a maple leaf to the face.
"So," Matthew shifted shyly, one foot dragging in the water as he an Alfred floated on a makeshift leaf canoe, floating aimlessly in the lake, "what now?"
Alfred, who had been looking for fish looked up, confusion obvious, "uh," he said, obviously not understanding, "supper in an hour or two?"
Matthew blinked once at that before tittering slightly, hiding a smile behind his hand. "No," he saw Alfred's crestfallen look and giggled some more, "well yes but I didn't mean that."
"No I mean," he suddenly blushed again, looking down. "Will you try and get home?"
"I," Alfred frowned, looking in the direction he thought might be south and sighing. "I don't know," he admitted, "I," this time he blushed, "I sort of like it here. With you I mean."
Matthew stared at him in shock, eyes wide, mouth slightly open and Alfred scratched the back of his neck nervously. "Alfred..." Matthew trailed off, sounding strange "I don't, I mean I do but you're," he took a deep breath, then another, foot flicking a few drops of water up nervously. "What is your favourite colour?"
Alfred blinked at the change in topic before shrugging, looking around. "Hmm, red white and blue."
"Red and white," Matthew responded, "favourite..."
"Tree?" Alfred offered, grinning. "Mine's Gumbo Limbos." Matthew giggled again at that, cocking his head.
"I don't know what those are," he admitted.
"They're awesome!" Alfred said excitedly, "they're super strong so we can hide in them during hurricanes and they have yummy fruit and once, when I was learning to fly I fell in a patch of hog gum and I was itchy aaalll over, even my wings and the flitter healer covered me in Gumbo Limbo resin and bam! Better the next day," he nodded sagely after that, leaning back, "that's why they're my favourite."
Matthew crinkled his nose, smiling at Alfred, "hog gum?" he asked and Alfred laughed.
"Uh, sort of like," he paused, thinking, "poison ivy I guess."
"Oh," Matthew said, "makes sense. My favourite trees are black maples." He gave Alfred a small smile at that, ducking his head, "they aren't as useful as your Gumbo Limbos, but they make really delicious maple syrup and in the fall," he sighed, "in the fall they turn yellow or orange or even bright red, and if you're lucky they turn all those colours at once." He sighed wistfully at that, looking around, "they tend to grown a little tiny bit further south, and to the east, but we have a few around here and they're my favourite. I think they have the prettiest leaves even in the summer, it's a darker green than other maples." He paused, as if considering something, "but red maples are nice too, and!" he perked up, "I hear in Asia, there are people who grow tiny maple trees, smaller than bushes! Can you imagine?"
Alfred shook his head, he couldn't, before smiling, "Those are wonderful reasons," he assured his companion, "so what're your favourite animals?"
"I like beavers," Matthew mused aloud, "they're really hard working but," he paused, mouth pursed, "I think I really like polar bears the best."
"Really? Have you ever seen one?"
"Yup," Matthew said, "once when I was really young we got forced north to Jame's Bay for a few years, and we would see polar bears every once in a while. My dad says that's as far south as they come, but he once told me about spirit bears in the west that are all white just like a polar bear."
"That is amazing," Alfred breathed, "I like bald eagles myself. They're just so, so free and strong and brave!" Matthew giggled at that, pulling his foot from the water.
"Favourite food?" he asked and Alfred practically bounced at the question.
"Persimmon cookies with downy myrtle ad guava jelly and roselle tea!" he said, beaming and Matthew laughed, toes curling.
"Sounds good," he said, "I like wildberry jam with maple candy and honey drink. Or birch tea." Alfred wrinkled his nose at that, scratching his head.
"Doesn't that taste bad?" he asked, "like...wood?"
"No," Matthew said, "it's nice. Now, how about your favourite flower? I love purple saxifrag, they're very pretty and taste pretty good too."
"I like," Alfred blushed, "I like wood violets. They, they're a pretty colour and," his blush grew even more, making Matthew frown in concern, "now they make me think of your eyes."
Alfred twirled the dark green leaf for another minute, face screwed up in concentration. "Alright," he mused, "I can do this, I am a hero after all, and that's what Mattie needs." Suddenly feeling much more confident, Alfred stood, flapping once before flying off to the nearby tree where most of the flitter slept. Carefully, he lit down on the oaks mossy surface, hurrying inside his and Matthew's private hollow, picking up the all purpose pack before stopping, having no clue as to what he should bring.
"Alfred," came a soft voice from behind him and the faerie whirled around, shocked to see Maura's twins, Blair and Carson, as well as several other of his flight students shifting nervously, an already packed bag held out in front of Blair. "You will find Matt right?"
Smiling, Alfred accepted the bag, settling it carefully between his wings, tying it firmly just under his arms, at his breastbone and lastly just above his hips. "Of course I will," he said, "never fear kiddos, I am a hero after all." The kids tittered in laughter at that, some hugging him tightly as he passed, mussing their hair lightly.
"Be safe!" one of the older ones called and Alfred grinned, nodding, "and make sure you come back with Matt!"
"I will," Alfred assured them, "like I said don't worry, and I guess good bye." The kids waved as he left, flapping a few times to get used to the new weight between his wings before taking off. It wasn't until the cries from the children faded completely that the sheer enormity of what he was doing hit him, but he didn't turn back. Instead, he continued to fly, heading to the nearest human settlement, probably a weeks good flying away.
He really needed to find a wizard.
Alrighty, Oberon is one of the few known faerie kings in Celtic mythology, and Tir na n-Og is 'The Land of the Blessed', the Celtic land of the dead which, all in all, sounds like a pretty groovy place, not as sucky as the Greek land of the dead.
Anyway, you may notice a discrepancy between faerie!Alfred's favourite food and canon!Alfred's favourite food. The reason for this is simple. Faeries do not eat meat. They aren't big enough to hunt or fish, and besides, faeries have a giant sweet tooth. Very giant. Anyway, if for some reason you want to learn more about faerie history, mating habits or mode of living, mention that in the review I'm sure you're going to leave me and I will reply with gusto.
A large bed is introduced, muggles make good coffee and Harry really doesn't want to loose his bet.
"Bloody hell," Caliban groaned, burying his face in his pillow, protecting his pounding head from the sudden burst of sunlight, "not today, not today Rolo."
"Oh get up you big baby," came a smooth voice, "I told you not to drink so much last night." A pause, "and I'm not Rolo."
"Shut up mother," the brunet replied, peeking with one eye at the figure hovering above him, "who let you in anyway?"
"You gave me a key," the figure said, sounding a little annoyed. The brunet sat up at that, eyeing the other.
"Right, right," he muttered, surveying the other man, "course I did, last March, right?" The blond man nodded at him and Caliban frowned. "What in Merlin's name happened to you Dor?" he demanded, and the blond flushed a little, self consciously bringing a hand up to his black eye.
"Nothing really," the blond muttered, looking down, "there was another murder and they sent out some of the night shifters," he looked up at that, looking upset, "contact with them dropped off and they wanted people more used to uh," he paused, looking for a tactful way to phrase his sentence, "working."
Caliban snickered at that, the night shift was notoriously under staffed and lacking in ambition, but the look on Dorian's face stopped him. "What?" he asked, put off by the sad look on his friend's face.
"They were dead, Cal," Dorian almost whispered, "same as all the other murders, no wands drawn, no defencive wounds, simply blood on their temples from their ears and eyes rolled back." Caliban's hangover promptly disappeared at that, and he leaned forward to grab Dorian's pale hand.
"You went alone?" the auror demanded, "why didn't you wake me or, or get Ron or Harry or Sally?" Dorian jerked away, looking wounded.
"I only got the message as I was putting you to bed," he told the other, "and no one else seemed to answer. Besides, it turned out fine."
"Fine?" Caliban said, looking dubiously at Dorian's black eye and his split lip and bruised jaw, "you look like one of those muggle mafia's got their hands on you." Dorian looked a bit offended at that, drawing himself up to full height only to wince and slouch again. Caliban made a 'ha' sound in victory, pointing at the other accusingly. "And you broke a rib!"
"I did not," the other said hotly, only to blush at the look his friend gave him. "I broke two ribs," he said sheepishly and Caliban scowled, throwing part of his covers to the side.
"In," he said and Dorian gave him a horrified look, stepping back.
"Wh-what?" he squeaked, red face clashing horribly with both the black of his eye and jaw, as well as his more usual cool blue eyes and honey blond hair. "I couldn't, I mean it's noon and I've things to do and-"
"Dorian," Caliban said evenly, "if it's noon that means the healers probably only just released you and I don't doubt for a moment that you were told to go to bed."
"Well," Dorian said, looking away, "yes."
"Then get in, you're exhausted, and I have a headache to sleep off." Dorian obviously wanted to argue, but the look on his friend's face, and Caliban's outrageously large and comfortable bed persuaded him and he sighed, shrugging off his robe onto the floor. "You can take some sleep pants," Caliban told him, scooting over a little. Dorian shook his head, laying stiffly at the very edge of the bed. Caliban rolled his eyes at the behaviour and promptly tugged him closer to the middle, right against the tanned man's chest.
Dorian squawked and flailed at that, settling down when one of his still healing ribs was jostled. "Just relax," Caliban muttered, arm wrapped around one of Dorian's skinny hips.
"Is this really necessary?" he asked, voice plaintive.
"Oh yes," Caliban said, managing to do so grandly, despite being tired, "I know your type, you'll try and slip out the second I fall asleep if I don't keep you here myself." Dorian shifted nervously, twisting to look at the other a little.
"Shh," Caliban told him, brown eyes sharp, despite his claim to a head ache, "just sleep, okay Dor?"
"Alright," Dorian whispered, "I can do that." Caliban hummed at him in response, arm tightening a little, and Dorian decided to ignore the warmth at his back and in his stomach.
"How was your week?" Harry smiled at Ginny as she passed him a cup of coffee, sliding next to him on the couch. They were in a muggle café of sorts, Ginny liked it on Saturdays for the live entertainment, having been introduced by her fellow chaser on the Harpies.
"It was pretty good," Harry said, taking a bite of what the owner called 'American style cupcakes'. "This is delicious." Ginny smiled at that, taking a bite of the proffered treat.
"Hmm," he said, licking away some blue icing on her lips, "very sweet. What was good about your week?"
"Well," he mused, "I didn't have to do the Friday reports, we solved that case with all the disappearing artifacts and I have all Saturday night with my gorgeous girlfriend."
Ginny laughed at that, pecking him on the cheek, "flatterer," she said easily, "besides aren't there others coming for dinner tonight?"
"Cal and Dor will be here in," he checked the bright orange clock on the wall, "ten minutes or so and Hermione and Ron will meet us at Airwaves, 'Mione said she might be bringing that expert along."
"Really?" Ginny leaned forward, eyes wide, "and Ron isn't frothing at the mouth in rage?"
"No," Harry said easily, licking icing off his fingers as he finished his treat, "strange as it sounds, he is not." Ginny laughed a little at that, taking a sip of her drink and sighing in delight.
"Mm," she said happily, "if nothing else, muggles are good at making coffee."
Harry scowled at that, pointing to her cup, "that isn't coffee," he told her, "that's some weird non-fat extra espresso vanilla bean latte-thing." Ginny laughed at his tone of voice, verging on betrayed.
"Actually," she said, smirking at him as she took a sip, "it's a low-fat soy milk two shot espresso hazelnut latte, thank you very much." Harry stared at her, green eyes wide before the two turned at the sound of stifled laughter.
"Suddenly your chai tea doesn't seem so bad Cal," Dorian was standing just behind them, leaning against an empty table with his cup in hand as well as a simple blue berry scone. Caliban, still waiting for his tea, was turned toward them, pouting slightly.
"There is nothing wrong with chai tea," Caliban said with a sniff, "you're just a boring old Englishman."
"And you're a filthy Corsican," came the calm reply. Caliban opened his mouth to respond only for the purple haired barista to interrupt.
"One chai tea and banana nut muffin," she droned and Caliban quickly grabs them from her, flashing a bright white smile at her.
"Thank you," he said smoothly, sparking a light blush. Dorian rolled his eyes as the two joined them on the sectional couch closest to the door. "Don't be jealous Dor," the brunet said easily, "there are tonnes of birds who like your type."
"My type?" came the dry reply and Caliban nodded, still grinning.
"Stuffy and pasty." Dorian made a surprisingly indelicate sound at that before sipping his tea and turning deliberately to Ginny.
"Hello Ginny," he greeted her, "I haven't seen you since you were hospitalized during the game with Puddlemere, feeling better I trust?" Ginny smiled at him, setting down her half empty cup and nodding.
"Much," she said easily, snuggling closer to Harry, "I was flying again in under a week-"
"Though you shouldn't have," Harry added and she poked him in response.
"Oh you're one to critique," she says wryly, "who was it who went to work after being exposed to a highly toxic poison?"
"Oh oh," Caliban said cheerily, "I know, pick me, pick me!" Harry rolled his eyes at that while Ginny laughed and Dorian hid his smile behind his cup.
"Anyway," Ginny continued, laughter in her voice, "it was fine, Oliver even came to apologize for his team mates behaviour."
"Really?" Harry said, "I hadn't heard that."
"Well I didn't think much of it," Ginny said easily, picking up her cup and draining the last of it, "does it bother you?" Harry blinked at the question, obviously confused.
"Er, no," he said, "should it?" Ginny laughed, shaking her head and Caliban rolled his eyes at that and turned to Dorian.
"I've got to go get some ingredients before the shop closes, want to come?" Dorian nodded, quickly finishing his tea and popping the end of his scone in his mouth.
"'Cor," he muttered, mouth still full. Swallowing he stood, only for Ginny to lean in closer to him and frown.
"That's not your shirt," she said, picking at the hem, "you don't own any red shirts." Dorian shrugged, tugging his plain sports jacket back on.
"I fell asleep at Cal's and needed a change of clothes," he said easily, "besides, I do too own a red shirt, it just happens to not be blouse." Ginny rolled her eyes at that before bidding him goodbye. Once the two were gone she turned to Harry who was scowling.
"Harry?" she said, surprised, "surely it doesn't bother you!"
"What?" Harry asked, blinking, "no, course not it's just," he scowled again, "my week starts on the 21st, if they finally come out before then I owe Sally a hundred galleons."
"A hundred?" she asked, and Harry grinned sheepishly.
"Well we started at only five per person," he explained, "but after a year Kingsley upped the odds and it just grew from there." Ginny chuckled at that, shaking her red hair.
"So who exactly is involved in this bet?" she asked, standing and grabbing her purse. Harry stood as well, also pausing before settling on an answer.
"All the aurors save Cal and Penrose, most of the Magical Creatures and Magical Accidents departments, about half of the International Law office, LaFolle and Cresswell from the Department of Mysteries and the whole of the fourth floor at St. Mungo's as well as most of the third, except for mediwitch Vaisey because she has a bit of a thing for Penrose and refuses to participate."
Ginny looked at him for a moment, too stunned to move before laughing. "Is that all?" she asked as they made their way down the street to the Leaky Cauldron, "I must say, I'm surprised you've managed to keep it quiet."
Harry grinned crookedly at her, shrugging, "well, betting's no fun if there aren't high stakes," he said easily. Ginny nudged him with her shoulder, grinning fondly at him.
"You're such a Gryffindor," she said easily and Harry smiled at her, tangling their hands.
"But I'm your Gryffindor."
"That you are," she sighed, "that you are."
Tobias goes looking for help, it's raining in London (but that's no surprise) and werewolves are discussed.
Tobias huddled down against the rain coming in sheets. From what he knew, which was actually quite a lot, while London was prone to rain, driving rain was a different matter. Naturally, he arrived a time when such an occurrence took place. In the dark the building around him looked drab, almost threatening, all tan brick and square lines, and he suddenly longed for Oslo's bright white buildings with their rounded curves, or even Copenhagen's mixture of the two, straight lines and white stone. Shaking his head, and sending several droplets flying, the Norwegian checked his palm once again.
"3 Millennium Drive," he muttered to himself, looking at the number, eyes falling on the building just to his right. "Excellent," he muttered, jogging across the abandoned street and entering the building. A man at a desk greeted him, though he did not look particularly excited about it. "Hello," Tobias said a bit stiffly, "a Ms. Arlovskaya is expecting me."
The concierge raised an eyebrow at that, giving him a once over, "poor sod," he muttered before picking up the phone. "Yes, this is the front desk, this is Miss. Arlovskaya, yes? Oh, there's a man here to see her, of course, madam, have a good day." The man looked at Tobias, sighing lightly, "she is waiting for you, top floor, last door on the left."
"Thank you," Tobias said, ignoring the way the man harrumphed in response. The elevator he went up in was simple thin metal bars, old and somewhat intimidating, and Tobias beat down a sudden claustrophobic urge. The ride was short, thankfully, and the grinding halt only made the other mildly sick. The hall he exited the elevator into was plain, dark wood and white walls, and he quickly made his way to the last door.
The door stood out. It looked like it was directly out of an American noir film, dark wood inlaid with frosted glass, and a sleek sign in the middle stating Natalia Arlovskaya, Attorny at Law. Shaking his head once the wizard raised his hand to knock only for the door to open, a young woman blinking back at him, coat half on.
"Oh my," she flushed after a moment of the trading stares with him, pulling her jacket on completely, "you must be Natalia's five o'clock."
"Ah yes," he held out his hand to her, taking in her appearance, trying his damnedest to not stare at her rather generous breasts. "Tobias Dahl," he said and she smiled shyly.
"Yekatrina Braginskaya," she told him, "you can call me Katya Mr. Dahl"
"Pleasure to meet you Katya," he replied, "call me Tobias," he let her hand go before remembering himself. "I'm probably in your way yes?" he asked and she flushed.
"I'm off to work," she said, stepping to the side, "take a seat, Natasha will see to you in a moment." Nodding his thanks he waited for the elevator to allow her in before closing the door and turning, once again finding himself face to face with a young woman.
While Katya had been pleasant looking, round face and large eyes, this woman was rather severe, china doll features inlaid with cold blue eyes. "You are Mr. Dahl," she said flatly, "you're early."
Checking his watch confirmed he was only two minutes off, but he nodded anyway, "sorry if my arrival was an inconvenience." Having taken a step back revealed she must have been in the shower, her long blonde hair was damp, leaving slightly darker marks on her black turtle neck.
"Not at all," she said, voice somewhat less stiff, "I appreciate anyone who is not late and a waste of my time. Please, come into my office."
Her office was beautifully decorated, if somewhat dark, and Tobias decided after a moments consideration that the dark horizontal stripes of the wallpaper and the dark wood bookshelves worked, particularly once with delicate looking attorney sat down, somehow able to dominate the dark wingback, despite her size.
"I understand that you are not, in fact, the prospective client," she said, pulling out a set of papers and a simple black pen, "what is your relation to this person?"
"Actually," Tobias said, sitting down in the dark blue chair she gestured to, "that takes some time to explain."
"Take your time," she said, voice controlled, showing no annoyance or interest, "I've arranged to meet Katyusha after her shift at nine, and you are my last meeting for today."
"Well as you no doubt know I am a liaison for the Department of Magical Creatures both here and in the Scandinavian countries," at her nod he continued, "yesterday I was approached by one Ms. Hermione Granger-"
"The one who enjoys devoting her time to rather large cases," the blonde didn't seem disapproving, but Tobias decided to tread lightly.
"Rather large yes," he agreed and she allowed a tiny downward pull between her eyebrows.
"I thought her energies were devoted to saving the kelpie in Loch Ness."
"They are," he confirmed, "but a man was with her, William Weasley, and he approached me about a rather interesting case."
"Interesting?" she asked, eyes narrowing, "and I don't recognize the name."
"He's her brother in law to be," he told the lawyer, "and the issue concerns," he paused, not for dramatic effect but rather due to worry, "werewolves."
The change was swift, her eyes narrowed and fingers tensed, displeasure and suspicion obvious as she stood. "Before we continue," she said in a voice like winter, "how exactly did you find my name?"
"You are the daughter of Kirill Arlovski, are you not?" he asked, and she nodded, relaxing only slightly. "I am Ylva Jakobson's son." She looked at him for a moment, eyes having widened somewhat before she sat down.
"You're mother and my father worked together," she said softly, "trying to dismantle the Northern Institute." At his nod she ran a hand through her hair, a surprising sign of agitation, "and so this case, you are probably not interested in me as a persecutor."
"No," he agreed, "I'm looking for someone willing to help a group of werewolves push for law reforms here in the UK."
"Well," she said, obviously thinking, "is it at all possible to get a name for those I'm representing?" the tinge of sarcasm made him almost smile.
"I'm afraid not," he said, "even I don't know their names, how to contact them or if they even want our help."
She gave him a blank look, hands still curled on the table before standing and opening the heavy wooden door. "I will consider this case Mr. Dahl," her voice once again cool professionalism, "have a nice evening and I will contact you once I've reached a decision."
"Thank you," he said as he left, "we appreciate it." She closed the door in response and Tobias shook his head, looking at his watch. "Wonder if I can make it to dinner?" he muttered to himself, entering the hallway.
Behind the heavy office door Natalia Arlovskaya's walls were down, a picture in her hand, pulled from the bottom drawer of her desk. It was of her, much younger, probably three at most and covered in mud, Katya, a smiling ten year old, her hair longer and a swipe of dirk on her cheek as well as a boy and a man. The boy was young, seven or so, his hair messy, a twig sticking from is along with some dried yellow grass. The man was probably thirty, eyes blue and clear, face covered with the beginnings of a blond beard. They were all smiling, the boy and girl sitting half on the man, the oldest girl peering over his shoulder, bare arms thrown around his neck.
"Oh Батька," she said, her sadness obvious, "oh Vanya," she set the picture down, resting her face in her hands, sighing, "what do you want me to do? What will make you proud?"
The faces looked back at her, smiles in place, and said nothing.
Francis and Arthur are dysfunctional, Matthew has nightmares and the author is a little cryptic.
Matthew flapped a wing experimentally, wincing when a still healing wound was tugged. With a sigh he stopped the motion, folding the blue appendages up and looking around. It was early in the day, the sky a sleepy grey as the sun pushed away the dark. Matthew sat at the window, legs crossed, trying to calmly watch the sunrise and ignore the fact he smelled. Arthur was still asleep and Matthew was unwilling to wake him, instead opting to wait for him to either wake or Francis to stop by.
Usually the faerie would still be asleep so early, he didn't wake until just after sunrise, early enough to prepare healing supplies and breakfast, but not so early that he had to stumble around in the dark, but his dreams woke him now.
Sometimes they were of his father, telling him stories of his childhood in the rockies, only Matthew was always trapped in a cage in his dreams, his father trying to sooth him even as a looming human hand came to pluck him away. Other times of his grandfather who had gone mad after his grandmother was eaten by an owl. He and Alfred were sitting on a lily pad, staring vacantly as the river they were on lead them to a waterfall, Matthew trying fruitlessly to tell his mate he was there and it was alright and fly damn you.
But usually it was about the doxies.
They weren't intelligent, even as far as faeries were concern, simply instincts and magic given form, but they could form rudimentary thoughts and they could use simple chitter. Usually they spoke about nothing, simple phrases describing their state of being, and that's what haunted Matthew. The constant cries of "hungry, sore, tired, hungry, hungry, hurt, tired, hungry, tired, hurt, sore," echoes over and over in Matthew's dreams as he sat in the dark, trying to drown them out, trying to tell them to stop touching the cages because iron burned their skin.
They never listened of course, and so the constant litany of madness had continued until the moment Arthur had taken him away. He didn't realize he was crying until a thimble of warm tea was placed next to him, Francis blue eyes worried. Matthew sniffled his thanks, drinking the herbal blend carefully before setting the thimble down. Wordlessly Francis offered a hand and Matthew scrambled up. After a moment's hesitation he continued up the man's arm until he was at his neck.
Before Francis could say anything Matthew threw his arms the best he could around the slender neck. His arms didn't reach, his longest two fingers didn't touch, but it was a hug anyway. Francis froze only momentarily before before bring up his hand, resting his pointer between the other's trembling shoulder blades. "Hush p'it," he murmured, "ça va." Matthew nodded, hugging humans was strange, they were so big everywhere, but it was nice, Francis was warm an comforting, and Matthew felt the darkness of the clinging dream ebb away.
Finally he pulled away, climbing back down to Francis' palm. "Merci," he murmured, smiling when Francis did so. "Do you think I could have a bath?" Francis laughed quietly at that, carefully traipsing out the door without waking Arthur.
"Very possible," he said easily, "you'll fit in a tea cup, non?"
Arthur sat up with a yawn, scrubbing at his hair subconsciously. He'd had a good dream, he could tell by the comfortably warm feeling in his stomach and the fact his neck didn't have it's customary morning crick. Looking around revealed two things, one Matthew was gone and there was a cup of tea sitting on his, or rather Francis', desk.
Standing up he approached the cup as if it were a trap. Not even two feet into his approach told him it was Earl Grey and he felt his stomach clench. "Bloody git," he muttered even as he picked up the cup and took a sip.
Outside the sun was up, telling Arthur it was at least eight, and it was quiet. He could see the waters of the Mediterranean and the purple-grey smudge that was Cannes and Mandelieu-la-Napoul, the cities having exceeded their boundaries to bleed into one another.
"It is beautiful in it's own way," Francis had a disconcerting ability to walk as silently as a cat, but Arthur was luckily never so startled he showed it. "Most things are I find."
"Deepness Francis?" Arthur was awake enough to raise one thick eyebrow. "You usually only lapse into drivel after a bottle of wine."
"I've been up for hours," Francis said airily, "plenty of time to sample some white wine."
"You prefer red," the words were out before Arthur had time to censure himself, and he felt his cheeks flare up.
If Arthur's remembrance surprised Francis the French wizard didn't show it. "I do," he said easily, "you are leaving today."
"Not until evening," for some reason Arthur felt as if he were consoling the other, even though he had less than no interest in doing that for the bleeding hearted frog.
"C'est bon," Arthur pretended, even after years of exposer, that he didn't understand a word of French, and Francis returned the favour by pretending he was doing it to confuse the Englishman. "I will miss Matthieu, he is," the man paused, looking for the word, "special."
"Yes," there wasn't much else to say to that, "you've been good to him." Francis' smile was bright and real, and Arthur wanted to punch it. "Where," it was his turn to pause, "where did you go?" The question was not supposed to be so transparent, he was supposed to ask where he spent his summers.
The look Francis gave him meant he knew exactly what Arthur was asking him. "I," Francis shook his head and turned away, their ability to actually talk to one another dried up for the day. "There are scones in the dining room," he said, "Matthew will be in the green houses with me."
Arthur half considered thanking him, but only briefly because Francis was gone in moments and Arthur frowned into his tea. "Bloody git," he muttered, "always leaving."
Francis prunes a rose bush manically, Arthur's Open Secret is revealed and Matthew shows an appreciation for anarchist movements and colour theory.
Francis entered the greenhouse humming, dressed down and wielding a watering can and a pair of surprisingly delicate looking scissors, Matthew perched on his shoulder humming softly. "What are you singing?" he asked the faerie and Matthew cut himself off creating a strangely guilty silence.
"It's uh," he coughed lightly, "it's sort of stupid actually."
"I doubt it," Francis said, smiling indulgently, music is very rarely stupid. "You tell me, and I will tell you a musical secret I know." Matthew's smile brightened at that, and Francis considered the fact that one myth about faeries must be true, they were insatiably curious.
"It's a human song from Quebec," he said, "une feuille jaune, it's very simple but I've always liked it."
Francis laughed at that, stopping now that they were at the back of the greenhouse in front of a surprisingly tame and non-magical, but still beautiful, array of rose bushes. "Well, my secret is about someone else actually."
"Oh," Matthew looked a little worried about that fact, "I don't know many wizards." He admitted and Francis smirked.
"Don't worry," he said, "this is about one you know."
"Arthur?" Matthew guessed, seeing as he only knew a handful of other wizards or witches and even then handful only counted if he was including the hunters and is handlers before Arthur as having been know. Which he wasn't.
"Oui oui, many years ago, when we were both younger, he was in a punk band."
Matthew cocked his head, "I don't know what that means."
Francis' grin grew and he carefully snipped at a rose bud, the glint of light on both the scissors and in his eye suddenly ominous. "Then let me explain."
"Matthew," Arthur eyed the faerie warily, "why are you looking at me like that?"
"You had green hair?" Matthew asked in something that almost sounded like awe.
Nostrils flaring Arthur slowly swivelled his gaze slightly to the left, green eyes narrowing as they landed on a smirking Francis. "Francis," he said lowly, "I told you if you ever-"
"But mon ceour," Francis said gleefully, "Matthew is most impressed by your dedication to anti-authoritarianism and socialist-leaning anarchy."
"It was a long time ago," Arthur snapped back, scowling before realization dawned and he gave Matthew a rather frightened look, plucking the tiny being lightly from Francis' shoulder. "And you-don't dye your hair green."
Matthew blinked. "I wasn't going to," he said, "and Francis said purple or blue would be better for me anyway. Or maybe red." Arthur made another strange noise, like a duck with it's beak partially shut trying to quack.
"Francis you-you're-YOU-" he paused, managing to beat back the brilliant, and not at all complementary shade of red. "You are a git."
"Of course," Francis said, nodding regally, "Arthur your predictability is comforting."
Matthew, who was watching the exchange as if it had just dawned on him that he had indeed witnessed similar animosity elsewhere cleared his throat a little. "Uh," he said once he got their attention, the sort of 'uh' one makes when they realize they've nothing to say, "I'm sad to be leaving France."
Arthur rolled his eyes as Francis cooed at that but still turned green eyes to Matthew. "It will be fine," he said, "Wales is almost as nice as England, which is more then three times more pleasant then France."
Francis gave him a truly offended look at that but only responded with a sniff. "I've been to England, it was very nice. In fact, I arrived in time for them to have just dislodged a genocidal maniac, I imagine it greatly improved my visit without my ever having to be aware of the fact it was being improved." Matthew gave Arthur a startled look at that and he gave as reassuring smile as he knew how.
"Don't listen to him," he told the faerie, "besides, we're going to Wales, not England."
Francis shrugged, "they are more or less the same."
"Hah," Arthur shifted his grip on his wand, tapping the luggage at his feet so he could shrink it, "tell that to a Welshman," he said wryly, sliding the suitcase into his pocket. Francis said nothing for a moment, watching the last of the packing and leaning against the courtyard wall, unconsciously mimicking his greeting stance from Arthur's and Matthew's first arrival, Arthur stopped in almost the same spot he'd been when he realized who Francis was.
"Have a good trip," the French wizard said softly, smirk slipping, "and do stay safe, both of you."
Arthur looked away at that, pursing his lips a little. "As if I can't take care of myself and Matthew," he said, though it had none of the righteous indignation it would usually. "Don't-don't end up in a pot or something, frog," he told the other. If his voice was a little too soft it was because Matthew was tickling him.
Alfred meets a PI, and makes an enemy.
Alfred stared around him in a mixture of terror, confusion, interest and excitement. The wizarding world was so strange, and big. It had taken him almost a month to find a city large enough to house a full wizard population, and if memory served, he was in Montreal. The area he was in was crowded, full of noise and people. Huge people. It was bright though, plain brown buildings were liberally decorated with bright cloths, stalls with bright canopies. It smelled good too, spicy and sweet, though the sheer amount of meat being cooked was a little nauseating. One wizard he passed by had been eating what looked like round meat between two pieces of bread. Watching him had been disgusting, he was practically shovelling it into his mouth. Alfred was all for enthusiastic eating but that was just disgusting.
This was just a little portion of what he'd seen so far. The original place he'd come in was busy, but not as bright, mostly buildings that shone with glass and metal. This place, which he recognized as el pisso latino, the Latin Corridor. He'd been relieved to see some Spanish, Montreal had way too much French. Slowing down, and making sure to hover over the wizards (he was so thankful that humans were horrible at noticing things). There were plenty of business around, houses stacked on top of or squished between them, everything from kabob stands to pet shops to a novelty quill shop. Alfred was intrigued by that last one, he'd seen a little girl exit with one that sparkled. Usually he would be begging Matthew to go have a look but – Matthew.
Alfred ached with the need to see the other fairy. The idea that Matthew could be dead was unbearable, it made his throat close up in fear and kept him up a night. But Matthew wasn't dead, he knew that, because if Matthew was dead Alfred's world would be effectively ended, so no. Matthew was alive. As he thought about that he scanned more buildings, and did a double take.
To his left was a fairly prim looking building, dark wood offset by cheerful drapes on the inside of the large window. It had a neatly printed sign in the door, Serruerie, and though he had no clue what that meant the tiny script at the bottom was promising.
(use back door).
Alfred beamed. A private investigator sounded like exactly what he needed, after all, he did need someone to help him investigate Matthew's whereabouts, and he really didn't want to share. At least not until Matthew was found. Zipping down into the crowd, and barely missing a woman's grocery bag, Alfred darted past the neat little window of the Ser-something or other and down the dreary little alley. He came face to face with a cat sitting on the stoop of the back door. He froze when he saw it, and it stared back, malevolence filling it's amber gaze.
"Don't you dare," he told it nervously, "I'm fast you know, and I'm too young to be eaten by a, a cat!"
"Nu uh you-"
"Fidel! Cena!" a male voice sounded from behind the door, muffled.
The cat jumped up smoothly at that, turning as the door was opened. The speaker was male, and not very tall for a human, but he was certainly very broad. His hair was dark and done up in a strange manner, like cattails, and he had something in his mouth, which would explain the muffling. He looked like he had more to say to the cat, but Alfred had shed his mild invisibly, and he instead stared at the fairy. "¿Una hada? Claro."
Alfred bristled. "What's wrong with being a fairy?" he demanded, barely remembering to speak in English – his Spanish had been bad to begin with, not even taking into account the fact he'd been in Canada for at least two hundred years – and not in Faerie.
"Miguel!" This time it was a woman's voice. She appeared over Miguel's shoulder, spatula in hand, looking annoyed.
Without looking at her or waiting for her to speak Miguel pointed to Alfred. "We have a fairy," he said, still sounding put out.
"And I don't see what's wrong with that," Alfred spat out, crossing her arms and keeping an eye on the tabby which was trying to look innocent as it skulked around under him.
"I can't get a costumer but I can get a fairy?" Miguel was talking to the woman now and she wrapped his knuckles.
"Be polite," she said, "and like you told Fidel, it's supper, so come in."
Miguel grunted, turning to leave. "No! You can't go! I need your help!" They both stopped, the woman looking over her shoulder first, and then turned to Miguel with a smile.
"Oh no," the man said, "no way Maria, no."
"You were complaining about not having any work," Maria told him, and Miguel shook his head.
"No." He seemed very dedicated, "he won't even be able to pay!"
Alfred swooped down at that to hover in front of his face. "I can too," he said with a little huff, "I'm a fairy, we may not have money but we have other ways to pay people." He puffed his cheeks out in annoyance at the wizard.
Miguel was practically crossed eyed as he looked at him and finally, with a scowl, he shrugged. "Come in then," he said gruffly, "we'll talk after supper. Hope you don't mind a guest, hermana."
Maria, his sister, then, beamed. "Never!" she said happily, "especially not one who may well get you out of the house!"
"Thank you, miss," Alfred gave her a little salute. He remembered the manners his mama gave him, thank you very much.
"Oh, so charming," she grinned at him, "what do you like to eat, hmm?"
"Do you have advacado?" he asked brightly. Berries were nice, but every once and a while a fairy needed a little something more.
"Si, si," she said, taking him to the kitchen. Behind them Miguel scooped up Fidel and sighed.
"My next employer is going to be a fairy," he told the cat morosely. The cat looked up at him and gave a meow. "No, eating him is no good," he said.
"I heard that!" Alfred called from the kitchen, "keep your Maeb-spawn away from me!"
"I don't know what in merlin's name a Maeb-spawn is," Miguel told him hotly, "but Fidel is not one!"
"Pah," Alfred crossed his arms, parched on the table as he was. "I'm keeping my eye on him," he told the wizard, "hear me?" he addressed the cat.
"Do that," Miguel said with a sneer.
Fidel just looked back at Alfred, and the fairy narrowed his own eyes when he saw the evil gleam in Fidel's.
The one where Francis is a jerk, a cabbie overcharges Arthur, and there is fresh bread
Bedwyr is Wales - brownies for whoever can tell me where his name comes from. :)
Rome, Italy, 2000
Arthur had the hangover from muggle Hell, surely. He groaned as he sat up, wincing at the sun which slanted perfectly into his eyes. He hated Italy, he decided. And he hated Francis' dedication to fine wines and the pursuit there of. Blinking wildly he tried to clear the spots from his vision before giving up and moving to get out of bed. It didn't go exactly as planned, he ended up rolling off and on to the floor tangled in Merlin knows how expansive sheets.
And his head still hurt.
"Bullocks," he muttered, though at least the sun wasn't in his eyes. He lay there for a moment, face down on the tiled floor, before he realized there was no mocking laughter coming from any part of the suit. Frowning, still, he sat up and looked around. Francis' side of the bed was as dishevelled as the rest of it thanks to Arthur's little trip, but his pillow case had been smoothed out. Francis was a bit obsessive about the state of his bed clothes, insisting that the bed be made up, and made up right. That meant that Arthur would try to do it, Francis would watch him impatiently and finally sigh and do it himself with a flick of the wrist and a spell Arthur simply cannot get right.
He looked over to the balcony to see if Francis had fallen asleep there, as he tended to do. He was sort of like a cat, he liked to drape over things, lie in sun beams and look down on the lesser people all while still being strangely affectionate. Francis, however, was not on the balcony. The shirt Arthur had worn last night was though. He'd spilled half a bottle of red wine on it, and Francis had been a little outraged at the fact he'd done so.
"This is silk, Arthur! Silk! You cannot just go around dumping things on it!" He'd ranted on about that for another five minutes or so before whisking the shirt away, and directly off, of Arthur to go do whatever it is one did to get red wine out of silk.
"Francis," he called uncertainly, scanning the room proper for any more clues. Everything was as it should be, Arthur's clothing for the day was stacked neatly. With a sigh he ran his hand through his hair, wincing at the feel of it. A shower was in order. He glanced over at the clock and winced again quarter to eleven. Grumbling slightly to himself Arthur made his way toward the bathroom only to be interrupted by a knock. Storming the rest of the way over to the door he yanked open. "Look here you brainles-" he stopped short when he realized it was a rather started looking young Italian man.
Arthur grit his teeth. "Yes?"
"Are you packed, sir?"
"What?" he tried to cover his shock with annoyance.
"Your companion paid for your visit when he left, and asked we knock at quarter to the hour," his eyes darted over Arthur's shoulder, and Arthur was pretty sure he saw the man wince.
"Left?" Arthur was, at this point, simply aghast. "When did he leave?"
"Just past six this morning, sir."
They hadn't gotten in until one, Arthur thought numbly. "Right," he said. When the young man didn't leave Arthur started. "Oh, a tip. Yes. Right." In a haze he wandered back to his bed, noticing the note and two coins on the bedside table. Without another word he picked the money up, returned to his door, gave the boy his tip and slammed the door shut. Closing his burning eyes for a moment, and swallowing past the lump in his throat Arthur had all his clothes packed with nothing more than a flick of his wrist.
Getting dressed hastily in the clothing he'd left out, old jeans and a tee shirt, some dirty socks, he put on his shoes on and grabbed up his case, snatching his keycard up as he passed by. He closed his door with vigour, startling the maid collecting laundry. "Buongiorno!"
Arthur ignored her, and the minute he passed by she stuck her tongue out at him and continued on his way. He hated muggle elevators, didn't trust them, so he walked down the stairs. It was really just pure luck there wasn't anyone else on the stair well and he didn't end up hurting anyone.
He barely paused at the front desk, only long enough to check out and call for a cab. The wait was far too long, and he stood in the entrance tapping his foot the entire time. When the cab finally pulled up he yanked open the door, putting his suitcase at his feet.
"Airport. Don't care which."
The cabbie raised his eyebrows at the curt manner and mentally added ten addition eruos to the fair.
Back at the hotel, a silk shirt swayed slightly in the wind.
"Good morning Arthur!" Arthur woke with a jerk, and promptly feel out his bed, smacking his head on the hard wood floor. He turned slowly onto his back, looking up at his older brother.
"Bed..." he groaned, horrified to see his curly haired brother so upbeat – the sun wasn't even up.
"Are you talking about me or the actual object?"
A tiny weight settled onto his forehead and was looking up at an upside down Matthew. "Are you feeling okay?"
Arthur scowled. "No." Matthew just giggled.
"All right then," he didn't sound upset. "I'll stay with Bedwyr." He weight promptly left Arthur's forehead at that.
The two left the room, Matthew with a chirping 'see you later' and Arthur watched balefully as the sun started, just barely, to peak up from the horizon. After a few minutes he sat up, rubbing his eyes and then his head. With a yawn he managed to sit down on the bed. He reached over to his designated bureau and opened the bottom drawer, grabbing a pair of pants.
Still half a sleep he started to change, and managed to get one leg into his pants before he froze. Not even bother to finish he half ran half jumped down the hall and small set of stairs, trying to get his pants on, not stopping. The only thing that stopped him from toppling over was the door frame to the kitchen, and him smacking into it. The sound must of made both Bedwyr and Matthew look up, but Arthur was too busy trying to catch his breath to notice.
After a few gulps of air he looked up, hair sticking up every which way, eyes wide and still blood shot from sleep. Both of his housemates looked amused. "You," he pointed at Mathew, still panting, "you flew!"
Bedwyr beamed. "Bread and jam?" he pointed to a half cut loaf and several jars of jam. "They're all homemade."
Arthur just stared.
Matthew, who had been chewing on a tiny bit of bread finished his piece, and picked up another which appeared to have marmalade on it. "You're pants aren't on, you should fix that," he said sagely and without another word took a bite.
Everything is a flashback, even more characters are introduced, the author is vague and Gilbert's life sort of sucks.
Sloterpark, Amsterdam, Netherlands
20:17, 2nd of October, 2001
Gilbert leaned against a tree with a huff, breath crystallizing in the cooling Autumn air. The park across from him was empty, and in spite of the trees slowly but steadily losing leaves, Gilbert had plenty of cover. With no streetlights, not even any path, despite being in the middle of Amsterdam, no one could see him. The only light he allowed was a small orb of pale light, hidden behind a tree, the result of a modified bluebell flame.
Gilbert hadn't heard his contact apparate in, but he did not allow himself to show any shock. “Guten Abend,” he said, voice light but emotionless.
His companion gave him a tiny smile, more a crinkling of the eyes than anything. “Dank u” he said, voice tinged with amusement. “Why so formal Gilbert?” he smile was razor sharp, “are we not friends?”
Gilbert allowed his mild annoyance with the other to shine through. “No Lars,” he said bluntly, “we are not. You are a thief and a smuggler,” he gazed pointedly at the bag slung over the Dutchman's shoulder, “and I only allow you to continue being one because you are more useful out of jail than in.”
Lars pouted. “You wound me,” he said, voice more insincere than a Hallmark card, “after all we have been through.”
Gilbert rolled his eyes. “Shut up,” he said, “what do you have for me?”
Suddenly, Lars was all business. Pulling the bag off his shoulder, he threw it at Gilbert. “Nothing dangerous,” he said, “a little gross maybe.” Gilbert opened the bag slowly, and drew out the first of three items.
It was a strip of fur the length of Gilbert's forearm, four inches wide. The fur on it was double layered, a soft undercoat and a coarser overcoat. It was a tawny brown, red shining through under the fabricated light of Gilbert's spell. At first glance it was just plain wolf fur, but something was off. The strip was a little too heavy for it's size, the hair thicker than t should be. Running his fingers through it again, deeper this time, Gilbert felt scar tissue underneath.
Hair doesn't grow over scars like that, his mind was racing. He spared a glance for Lars who was waiting patiently for him, an unlit cigarette between his lips, golden eyes following his every tiny move. In the back of his mind something was ticking away, tickling at the edge of his consciousness. Flipping it over he studied the skin. That was when it hit him.
He almost dropped the strip, settling for throwing it back into the bag with disgust. Glaring at Lars, the Dutchman raised his hands in surrender before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a lighter. “I turned them back at the boarder,” he mumbled around his cigarette, managing to light it despite the fact it was moving. “The goods, rather. Didn't see any people, whoever is trying to sell this must know they're only going to be popular in very specific circles.”
“Not your type of circle, at least,” Gilbert muttered before peering into the bag.
“Neuken geen,” Lars said, nose wrinkling.
“I feel like I know that one,” Gilbert remarked, before pulling out what looked like a jar of air. Turning it, Gilbert read the label. “Banshee screams? How do you bottle a banshee scream?”
“It means 'fuck no',” Lars said, replying to the first of Gilbert's statement. “And carefully, I suspect.”
“Another thing you turned away?”
“No, I bought this special from La Halle,” he batted his eyelashes at Gilbert, “for you, of course.”
“I'm not sleeping with you Lars,” Gilbert said, replacing the jar and taking out the last item. Lars just laughed.
It was without a doubt the strangest, a piece of metal which had likely once been circular, but was twisted and broken. It was heavy, very heavy and black. Squinting Gilbert pulled his wand from the halter at his wrist and beckoned his light closer. The back metal was smooth, at least in the places not twisted and destroyed. It was also flecked with a tiny amount of miniscule silver coloured specks. If he had to guess, Gilbert would say it was roughly the size of his upper thigh, probably a few inches wider. The band itself was only an inch wide, which made its weight rather peculiar.
Lars made a soft humming noise. “I found it with the uh...fur cargo,” he said carefully, gaze still reminiscent of a hawk's. Gilbert took a moment to digest the information.
“A collar, then?” he asked, distastes evident. Lars seemed to be of a similar opinion, and simply nodded. Gilbert brought the light so close it was almost directly in his line of sight. The little specks glittered and it dawned on Gilbert what exactly he was holding. “An iron collar,” he said softly, “with silver in it.”
Lars grunted an affirmative, dropping his barely smoked cigarette and crushing it with his heel. “I had one of my boys double check,” he said, “it's not entirely iron, the core is lead. We found four collars, one was rather bloody.”
“Can I have that one?” Gilbert asked, Lars quirked an eyebrow. “Alright, give me that one.”
“Meet me tomorrow at Nam Kee at Zeedijk, 113 1012, at say, one o'clock.”
“You want to meet me at a Chinese restaurant?” he asked. Lars gave another of his sharp grins.
“Their Peking duck is very reasonably priced,” he said, “and the easiest way to stay anonymous is in public. Keep the bag.”
Gilbert nodded, pulling the draw strings tight flicking his wand. The light disappeared and it took Gilbert a moment to see a reasonable amount again. Slinging the bag over his shoulder he gave one nod to Lars. “Goede natch, Lars.”
“Gilbert.” Gilbert looked up at Lars. The moonlight bounced off the surface of a tiny pond, the light giving Lars an almost ominous look. “Something is afoot,” he said, voice serious, “stay safe, and watch where you go.” With that he disappeared and Gilbert took a moment took a moment to ponder over the almost gentle tone Lars had used before shaking his head.
“Silent apparition,” he muttered, “lucky bastard.” He disappeared with a sharp crack, like breaking glass. The park was just as empty as the tiny little island had been, making it the best place to apparate. He usually would have just gone straight to his place in HQ, but he had a stop he wanted to make just down the road. As he quickly started down the main path, the hairs on the back of his neck prickled and though he didn't slow, he did a quick cast about, trying to spot anything out of the ordinary.
Even though the underbrush was thin at best, Gilbert almost missed the sleek shape crouched, belly to the ground. His gaze landed onto a pair of over-bright green eyes, he barely had time to blink before the creature was on him.
Pain erupted down his leg and air was pushed forcefully out of his lungs. Powerful jaws were clamping down on his left thigh, bone giving way in face of the force. His head bounced once off a rock and his vision greyed out briefly before swimming back. The last thing he remembered was the creature on top of him being tossed off, and a pair of intelligent violet-blue eyes staring down at him from a face covered in pale fur.
Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis, Amsterdam, Netherlands
13:01, October 3rd
Gilbert squinted as an overly bright light hit his eyes. Blink rapidly he tried to figure out where he was, a bolt of panic shooting through him when he realized something was over his mouth. He struggled to move it, but pain spiked up his arm which he only just realized was covered in some sort thick plaster. A machine of some sort to his left made a shrill screeching noise and seconds later a young man in dark red appeared. He gently placed a hand on Gilbert's good arm and spoke in a low tone obviously meant to be reassuring.
The effect was lost since Gilbert only knew a handful of Dutch words, most of which he'd learned from Lars and were therefore not suitable for roughly ninety nine percent of situations everywhere. The man was now looking at Gilbert rather expectantly.
“Ich spreche kein Niederländisch,” he said, removing the clear mask they'd placed over his mouth. His voice came out quieter than he expected, and his chest ached whenever he breathed. The young man nodded.
“Uh,” he paused, obviously trying to piece something together. Figured. Little punk probably spoke French. “Sprechen Sie Englisch?” He looked hopeful, to say the least.
“Ja,” Gilbert said. “Or rather, yes.” Gilbert was glad to say his English was almost perfect, he worked with so many people he had no option but to learn it. It was either that or learn almost every language in Europe, and some in other places besides. Learning English seemed the easiest way to go about it all.
“Goed,” the man said. “Are you breathing all right without the mask?” When Gilbert nodded he continued, “I am Bastiaan Djikstra, do you know where you are?”
“Amsterdam, I hope,” Gilbert muttered. “But no, not exactly.”
“You are at Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis,” seeing Gilbert's blank face he added hastily, “the hospital.” Gilbert just continued to stare and the young man gave him a patient, understanding look. Gilbert wondered if there was a way to make him stop. “A young blond man brought you in, I didn't get his name, perhaps you would know him? Average height, green eyes,” he paused, “bubbly, almost?”
“I know a lot of blond men,” Gilbert said slowly, “and women. But they would have told you my name.” Or rather, wouldn't have brought me at all. “And they certainly aren't bubbly.”
The image of Vash jumping up and down and chattering in excitement made Gilbert equal parts amused and ill.
“Ah, well, all he said was he found you between two stores on Spuistraat. You were in very rough shape. Were you in a fight of some sort?” Bastiaan's voice brought Gilbert back into the world of surly Swisses.
“I was?” Gilbert was suddenly bombarded with images of bright green eyes and the feeling of a heavy body crashing into him at a high speed. He wondered why the person said he was found of Spuistraat, that was nowhere near the park. “How bad?” He ignored the question.
Bastiaan seemed willing to let the question slide. “Well,” he paused again, possibly for dramatic effect. “You've broken several ribs, one punctured your lung, but it is being controlled fairly easily, so we did not need to keep a chest tub in. Your left femur was broken in two places, and you have about eighty stitches in the same leg, and about ten at the back of your head.” He gave a rueful smile, “and your arm, of course.” He looked at his watch. “Time to replace your drip,” he said, stepping closer to Gilbert. “I'll have to change your IV,” he said and carefully took Gilbert's good arm. “This may pinch a bit.”
Gilbert didn't react when Bastiaan removed the thin tube, and simply watched as he went about pulling various tubes in and out of Gilbert's skin. When he was done he carefully took the mask Gilbert had pushed to the side and placed it back. “You should keep this on, at least when you're not talking.”
Gilbert nodded, and then promptly removed it. “I,” he paused, unsure of how to make his request. “I do not have any family in Amsterdam,” he said, “but I was to meet a friend,” hopefully he kept the distaste out of his voice, “at the Nam Kee on Zeedjik at one.”
Bastiaan nodded. “If you have his number I can arrange for him to be contacted.”
“Nein,” Gilbert said, “I do not know it, he contact me.” True enough.
“Well,” Bastiaan looked down at his watch again. “It is only just seven past one, I will go to the nurses station and call Nam Kee. What is your friend's name?”
Nam Kee, Zeedjik, Amsterdam
13:09, October 3rd
Lars looked down at his wrist watch, and then up at the clock on the wall to his left. Gilbert was many things, hot headed, dramatic and stubborn being some of his better traits, but he was always professional while working. It wasn't like him to be late, even by only ten minutes.
He made a good auror, Lars mused. He'd run with crowds just as seedy as Lars, and some seedier, when he was younger. Those days were fun, he mused. Then his grandfather died, and suddenly Gilbert, beer chugging, fight junky Gilbert was taking care of a petulant eleven year old.
Lars had only met Ludwig twice, once at their grandfather's funeral, and again a year ago. Those eight years in between had a remarkable effect, and Lars had to look hard before he found the resemblance between the stoic, stone faced blond and his wilder, emotional brother.
“Lars Aakster!” A loud voice called his name and Lars looked up in confusion. “Lars Aakster!” this time it was louder and Lars realized it was the hostess. Quickly he got up and weaved his way through the tables.
She gave him a strange look and simply held out the phone, gesturing toward a little nook to her left. Putting the phone to his ear he stepped to the side as indicated. “Hallo?”
“Is this Mr. Lars Aakster?” the voice on the other side was not one he recognized, which made sense since most people he was affiliated with barely knew what a telephone was.
“My name is Bastiaan Djikstra, I am a nurse at Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis, there is a Mr. Gilbert Beilschmidt here, he says you are his only contact in Amsterdam.”
The only one he trusts enough with this information, at least, Lars thought wryly. “Gilbert is in the hospital?” he couldn't help the slight pang he felt, “why?”
“He was found, severely beaten. It actually looks like maybe a dog attacked him.”
Lars' heart skipped a beat. “A dog?” he repeated, feeling a little breathless. Nurse Djikstra seemed to notice.
“Are you all right Mr. Aakster?”
“Ja, ja,” he said, “I admit, I am scared of dogs. Just a little.” The nurse on the other line hummed in response. “When can I visit him?”
“He is in surgery, so between three thirty and eight.”
“Ah, thank you. I will contact his family.”
“Of course, and thank you,” Djikstra sounded like he meant it, “have a good day.”
“Right,” Lars said somewhat absentmindedly and passed the phone back to the hostess. Wordlessly he returned to his table, picked up the bag he had brought, put a few euros on the table and walked right out.
19:21, October 3rd
A blond man checked once behind his shoulder before he ducked under a piece of wood that was supposed to be sealing the door of the warehouse shut. The people inside, six in total, all looked up at him.
“So?” the first person to speak was also the palest, red eyes peering out from the shadow he was leaning into. “Dead or alive?”
A hazel eyed brunet smacked him on the knee. “Really?” he demanded, “can't you at least try to be...” he trailed off, groping for the word.
“Sensitive?” offered a different brunet, this one wearing glasses.
The other brunet snorted. “He couldn't be sensitive if you paid him. I was going to say tactful.”
The shortest of the group, a watery eyed blond interrupted them. “He, he isn't, d-dead, right? He's alive?” tears were actually shining in his eyes and their messenger sighed, taking a packet of gum out of his pocket.
“Yeah, he is,” he said, popping a bright pink piece of gum into his mouth, “and after I apparated his pale ass across like, the whole city.”
The first brunet snorted. “It's not even seven kilometres between the two places. And it was apparition.”
“Whatever. I'm not good at apparition,” the blond snapped back. The watery eyed boy sniffled loudly.
“D-don't fight,” he pleaded.
“Yes, please don't,” a fourth brunet entered the proverbial fray, though he didn't look like his heart was in it. “He-he's not just alive for now, right? He's going to stay alive. Yes?” Anxious green eyes stared at the gum chewing blond hopefully.
“Yes yes,” the blond waved his hand.
“We will be leaving, then.” The last person, and the largest, finally spoke from his place in the shadows. Shifting so he was completely in the light he stared at the group, eyes hard. “Be ready in ten minutes.” With that he disappeared into a door a few feet away.
“We're leaving already?” The shortest one asked, and the red eyed blond rolled his eyes.
“Yes. And stop snivelling, you haven't stopped since we got here.” He hopped down from his crate, landing gracefully between the bespectacled brunet and his hazel eyed friend. “We'll have to go either way,” he said. “I got rid of your little problem, as asked. They'll probably find the bodies some time tomorrow morning. Maybe later tonight.” He shrugged a slim shoulder.
His friend sighed. “Must you be so glib?”
“What? It's what I was asked to do, I don't see how it's any different from your job.”
“I arrange transport,” his friend replied.
Another shrug. “Well then look at it this way, I won't need to eat until probably the end of next week, possibly even longer.”
The hazel eyed brunet and the one in the glasses sighed in unison, and the small blond, who was still on the edge of tears, made an odd little squeaking sound.
“Come along,” the one in the glasses gestured for the nervous blond to follow. “Let's go get ready.”
That left four, two blonds, two brunets.
The green eyed brunet had returned to staring listlessly off into space, and the red eyed blond was looking at him curiously. “Is he going to be ok?” he looked to the other blond in the room.
“Yeah,” pop, “totally.”
“Right then,” he turned on his heel and headed to the far end of the warehouse, his friend quickly catching up to him.
The last two stood in silence, save the crackling of gum, and finally the blond spoke. “It will be fine. he'll be fine. Totally fine. Relax.”
“I was so angry,” the brunet said distantly. “I...I couldn't...”
“I know,” he put a hand on the brunet's shoulder. “I know.”
Fun fact: Aakster means magpie. Yeah symbolism!
Family matters are discussed and we meet Arthur's third bother
"...and so basically it's all a complete mess because Biddulph couldn't be bothered to contact the damned department of magical creatures!" Arthur looked up from his mail only briefly as Bedwyr chattered on about the upcoming international quidditch tournament.
"Biddulph always was an idiot, how did he even become department head?" he asked, frowning back down at the letter in his hand. Having been abroad for over a year and not bothering to give a forewarding address had left him with quite the backlog. He'd been flipping through the mountain trying to pass itself off as mail since he'd finished his breakfast almost three hours ago. Now, Bedwyr had started on lunch. "Is Matthew still outside?"
"Yes, I was just out, he's playing with Llud and Llefelys," Bedwyr said. "Well actually, he's collecting the hair they've begun shedding." He shrugged, "apparently he knits." Arthur scowled and nodded.
"Of course he does, how else do you think faeries get their clothing? And I cannot believe you named your rabbits after some of Britain's most important kings." Bedwyr held up his hands.
"Calm down and answer your bleeding mail," he said. "And Biddulph got the job because his sister, you remember Elueuil no? Well she's married Keve Broadmoore who, if you recall is the great nephew of the Broadmoore beaters and a bloody brilliant chaser in his own right. She pulled some strings."
"Hmm, you should have gotten the job all the same," Arthur was peering down at a letter addressed to him in writing so tiny he couldn't decipher what it said. "Elueuil is the uglier twin, no?
"Now now," Benwyr said. He was apparently done chopping up his vegetables, as he reached idly flicked his wand in the direction of a bowl, sending them into a jumbled pile. "Organa may have been prettier, but Elueuil is still attractive." Arthur snorted and Benwyr waved a spatula at him without turning. "Don't you snort at me young man," he said in his best PR accent. "I am your elder. And you are not allowed to make any remarks about what I name my rabbits – you called your owl Hengroen of all things."
Arthur gave up trying to see who the letter was from and ripped the envelope open. "One, Organa was a thousand times more attractive and two, what is wrong with the name Hengroen?"
"Hengroen was a horse," Bedwyr said grinning. "You still like lamb, right?"
"Yes," Arthur said. The letter was nothing worth looking into, just an update from a great aunt. "Shame, aunt Nimueh says Taliesin has fallen ill."
"He's better now," Bedwyr told him. "Turned out he had one of those strange muggle problem. Appendiwutsit or something. How old is aunt Nimueh, anyway?"
"Pregnant? I guess that means she survived then. Pity. And aunt Nimueh is only forty or so, I think. She's younger than mother," Arthur smiled fondly. "She always did give the best presents."
Bedwyr poked the lamb in the frying pan. "Didn't she just. She bought you your first guitar, no?"
"She did," Arthur sighed and put the letter down, scrubbing at his eyes. "Ye gads," he said, "I still have almost thirty more of these blasted things to go through."
"Well," Bedwyr said, flicking off the stove. "Why don't you get some supper and then I can catch you up on a few things you will probably want to know." As Arthur started to shuffle his papers together Bedwyr had the lamb chopped and piled onto some bread and smothered in gravy. The only way to eat meat, really.
Arthur stretched as he stood and shuffled over to the back door, pushing it open. Arthur had to give Bedwyr some credit, he'd taken their grandfather's old, dilapidated cottage and made it into a stereotypically cozy home. Vines, blooming and otherwise, creeper up the slate walls and twined around fence posts. The garden was at first glance overgrown, but in truth it had been carefully cultivated to give off a wild but not charm.
"Matthew," Arthur called. Within seconds an excited faery careened around the corner and came from an abrupt stop only centimetres from his nose.
"Arthur," he said, breathless with excitement, "everything is so pretty." His entire body exuded a strong sense of joy. "And he has sheep!" A loud rustle came from around the corner and he perked up. "Oh, a man is here too."
Arthur started at that. "A man, what did he look like? Did he see you?" he fingered the wand in his pocket anxiously.
"Oh yes," Matthew said breezily. "I said hello and everything. He's very nice." He giggled as he recalled something but didn't have time to share since their guest rounded the corner. The man shared Benwyr's curly dark hair and Arthur's bright green eyes. Stubble decorated his face and he was grinning broadly.
"There's our wayward brother," his voice was deeper than either of his siblings, "good to see you're still among the living." Arthur rolled his eyes but failed to suppress a small smile as he was pulled into a crushing hug.
"Euan," he grunted as he tried to pull in a breath, "as unaware of your strength as ever." Euan released his little, and littler, brother with a booming laugh.
He looked around, his grin never flagging. "Bed has certainly embraced his Welsh roots, hasn't he?" Arthur chuckled.
"I suppose that's why taid left it to him and not either of us." He clapped his brother on the shoulder. "You still running around Scotland chasing every woman who catches your eye?"
"Always," Euan said easily. Matthew who had been happily fluttering about landed on Euan's shoulder as if the large man was a close friend.
"Doesn't that hurt?" he asked, brows furrowed in concern. "Eye damage is a serious issue." Euan turned his head to look at him, a wicked gleam in his eye.
"Oh lad," he said, "not that sort of catching," Arthur gave him a dark look.
"Don't you start," he chided. At that moment Bedwyr stuck his head out from the door.
"Lunch is going to go cold if you – Euan!" He came out to greet his brother and was pulled into a hug just as crushing as the one delivered to Arthur. He pulled away and his smile was a broad as his older brother's. "I wasn't expecting you for another two days." Raising his eyebrows Arthur put his hands on his hips.
"And I didn't know this why?" he asked. Euan and Bedwyr both rolled their eyes.
"Because you disappeared for a year and didn't give us a way to contact you," Euan said, a hint of hurt creeping into his deep voice.
"And because you came out here instead of letting me tell you all the important news I've been collecting," Bedwyr offered. Arthur coloured at his brothers' reprimand.
"Yes yes of course," he muttered and turned on his heel going back into the house. Matthew darted after him, landing on his head.
"Are you all right Arthur?" he asked. "You're brothers seem – what is that?" his tone changed rapidly from worried to appalled, and since Arthur could not see the little blond it took him a moment to realize what he meant. Two lamb and gravy sandwiches were set at the table, a small bowl of salad between them.
"Well lad," Arthur said slowly. There was no breaking this to him gently. "That would be lamb." There was silence for a moment even as Euan and Bedwyr came in, watching the little show in fascination no doubt.
"Like, baby sheep?" Matthew asked in a small voice.
"Aye," Arthur said gravely. Euan took pity on the faery and his saviour.
"Why don't you go back to playing with Llud and Llefelys lad," he said gently. Matthew zipped out the door in mere seconds. "Faeries don't eat meat do they?" he asked, "mum always did stress that." Arthur gave a noncommittal shrug.
"Matthew's just a bit jumpy," he said, "rescued him from La Halle."
"Ah," Euan said and took the not set seat at the table. "Sit," he said, "I suppose we should tell you this now before you find out by yourself."
Arthur took his seat and grabbed up a fork, cutting into his sandwich, totally ignoring the salad. "What sort of news is this, exactly?"
"Family news," Bedwyr said and Arthur frowned.
"Some die?" he asked. His brothers shook their curly heads. "Another baby?" he guessed. Another shake. "Hmm," he thought hard only for Euan to come right out with it.
"Elaine's son is coming here," he said baldly. Arthur blanched.
"As in, Peter?" he asked, trying to keep the horror from his voice. "Why is Peter coming here? Berwald doesn't even really like us." Bedwyr rolled his eyes as he popped a piece of lettuce into his mouth and Euan chuckled.
"He likes us just fine," the eldest said. "Your just a prickly old man disguised as a twenty three year old."
"How appropriate," he said dryly, "you're a six year old disguised as a thirty five year old." Euan's ever present grin somehow managed to grin and Bedwyr shook his head.
"At any rate," he said, pulling the attention back to the matter at hand. "He won't be staying here, if that's what you're worried about. He's here for the cup."
"Bit young for that, isn't he?"
"You really are looking for an excuse to not have him around, aren't you?" Euan shook his head, "what did he ever do to you?"
Arthur puffed his chest out slightly in irritation. "He threw food at me," he said. Both his brothers laughed.
"He was three at the time," Bedwyr said. "That was nine years ago. Besides, he just wanted his uncle's attention."
"No, he's just evil,"Arthur said stubbornly.
"You just don't like children," Bedwyr said. "And besides, he has to come, Berwald's on the team."
Arthur groaned. "That's right isn't it, a beater, no?"
"Aye. Peter wanted to come instead of staying with his aunt."
Arthur looked surprised at that. "Morgan offered to take him?"
Bedwyr snorted. "That soulless bitch? No. Berwald has a half sister, Sally I believe."
Euan raised an eyebrow. "Why do you know this Bed?"
"We exchange letters, I send Christmas presents and everything." He smiled. "I sign them for you, by the way."
"Ugh," Arthur pushed his plate away as he finished his lunch. "He's going to think I like him."
Euan smiled, "there's that child loving nature, I really see it now Artie, I do."
"Oh shut up you sorry lout, I get along just fine with Ella and I'll have you know I taught English while I was abroad."
His brothers blinked. "Ella...?" Euan prompted and it was Arthur's turn to roll his eyes. "Uncle Celyn's daughter, Noah's younger sister. She's nine."
"So you spent time in Australia then? Were you with uncle Celyn?"
Arthur scratched at the back of his neck. "Just for a week or so," he said. "I spent most of my time in Hong Kong, actually."
His brothers were silent for a moment, thinking this over. "Which is where you taught English," Bedwyr surmised.
"Yes," was all Arthur offered. The conversation lulled there, the brothers out of things to say. "I think we can tell Matthew it's safe to come back in," Arthur said. The other two nodded, Bedwyr hastily clearing the dishes of all evidence of carnivorous behaviour.
"Matthew," Arthur called, this time staying largely in the kitchen. The fairy appeared a few moments later, much more cautiously than he had before. "The meat is all gone," Arthur assured him. Matthew sat on his shoulder in reply.
"Good," he said with a sniff. "Is there tea."
"On it lad," Euan called from the kitchen, "and Bed is hauling out his tried and true biscuit recipe."
"Busicuit?" Matthew looked between the two wizards.
"I think you'll like it," Euan said and Arthur cringed. Euan didn't know the half of it.
About the Kirklands (and their very extended family). I ignored a lot of gender stuff and changed some surnames, so sorry if that bothers you. All the Kirklands/Igrain's family have names based off of characters in Arthurian legend (Bedwyr = welsh for Bedivere, Euan = Scottish for Ywain, Igrain = Arthur canon father, Rica=Goloirs [we think] Igrain's first husband, Morgan and Elaine = her canon daughters with Rica, etc.) The MacConraoi's (introduced below) are all characters from Irish mythology, however. Some names were chosen because they sound somewhat like the original, and the original was too weird for even HP universe.
* Euan, Bedwyr and Arthur (eldest to youngest) are the sons of Uther Kirkland and Igrain Kirkland-Wledig (deceased).
* Elaine (who represents Cornwall in my mind) and Morgan are Igrain's daughters from her first marriage to Rica Howell (so half siblings on their mother's side).
* Macha MacConraoi (N. Ireland) is Uther's illegitimate daughter with Ernmas MacConraoi. Fiacha is Ernmas' son with her husband Diarmaid (cognate to Delbaeth, her for realsies husband) and older than Macha.
* Noah (Australia, I ignored the 'canon' suggestions) and Ella (Wy) Wledig are the son and daughter of Celyn Wledig (cognate to Celydon = canon brother of Igrain. Sometimes.) Nimueh is mentioned here as Igrain's younger sister, while in the legend she's the Lady of the Lake (hence the good gifts).
* Now Peter is, as mentioned Elaine's son with Finn Jakobson (Shetland islands). Finn's father is Tobias' (Norway, if you've forgotten) uncle on his mother's side. Tobias has an aunt who is Berwald's mother. Berwald's father has a daughter named Sally who represents the Aland Islands.
* Erik (Iceland) is Tobias' half brother from an affair Tobias' dad had.
* Berwald got custody because both Finn's parents are dead, all the Kirklands (+ Morgan) were too young and Uther had no claim. Tobias was also too young and his mother was going through her divorce and Berwald was basically the first to step up and offer to take him. As such, Peter has both dual nationality.
OMG I think that's longer than the actual chapter /dies/. I have a diagram, but it is very big.