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There Is a Crack in Everything

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It was a cold, wet morning when Blaise stumbled into the muggle coffee shop. His socks were squelching inside his shoes and he was fairly sure he had blisters from walking through the early morning hours. He certainly wasn’t looking for anybody. He was just trying to stop at as many nonmagical places as possible to complicate his trail on the way home. Or maybe he was just looking for a place to sit down for a couple minutes. He was too deep in his own misery to be entirely sure what he was looking for. He was not used to being sore or tired without being able to use magic to make it go away.

The coffee shop was surprisingly busy for such an early hour. Blaise wondered why all these muggles wanted to be up. Given a choice he would have been asleep for another hour or two.

Really he should be in bed. He had known better than to go to Mr. Parkinson’s funeral. But he had gone anyway. He always went anyway.

If mother found out that he had gone to another funeral, she would give him the lecture that never ended. It wasn’t safe to get on that kind of guest list. It could get you pulled in for questioning. And if she found out whose funeral it had been, she might just turn him in herself. Didn’t he care about her? Did he want them to lose everything? What kind of son was he anyway?

Blaise wasn’t sure what kind of son he was. He wasn’t sure he cared. Everything he had believed in was being laughed at and nothing had taken its place.

The five of them had made a pathetic group, huddled together in the night rain. Pansy had brought a metal can to hold the ceremonial fire, but the wind didn’t like the little flame and they had had to light it twice. Not having the body, they had been forced to create a spirit twin, a gemina animae. It was old, old magic and more than a little dark; but it was also the safest thing they could think of since it didn’t require a wand, and was --hopefully -- untraceable. They had each collected things to represent the dead man: a photo, some hair from a hair brush, a scrap of cloth from a quidditch banner, dirt from a footprint in his family’s garden.

Carefully, they tied the spirit bundle together with the hair of a white thestral. Then each of them watered it with a single drop of blood. The last step was setting the bundle on fire. Greg tried three times before the bundle finally went up in a whoosh of green flame. They were all intent on completing the ritual as quickly as possible and going their separate ways.

It wasn’t as good as an actual burial, but it gave the living some protection from the frightening magics that could be worked with a dead man’s corpse. Families protected their dead to protect themselves, and in these desperate times there was no saying what horrors might come.

So now he was doing his best to cover his tracks, and somewhere in London the others were doing the same. He didn’t want his magical signature anywhere near the funeral site.
Nobody was sure what the aurors could track, and none of them could afford that kind of mistake. So they had all agreed not to use magic for the several hours after the funeral rites.

When Blaise had put enough time and distance between himself and the illegal magic, he would go back to using magic. For now he was muddling along like the stupidest of muggles. When he got home, his wand would be waiting for him and he would feel more like a wizard again.

Blaise tried to concentrate on the blackboard that listed coffee drinks he’d never heard of. Reading the list again didn’t help him decide and he didn’t want to stand out by asking questions. He decided he would order the same thing as the muggle in front of him.

Then, impossibly, he saw Marietta behind the counter. At first he thought it was just a giggly muggle who looked like her. After all, what witch would stoop to drudgework for muggles? Yet the coppery highlights in her blond hair caught the light in a familiar way, and he could see the thick paste of concealing makeup that screamed Marietta.

The clothes though, those were just strange, bright and tight and loud. She looked more than a bit of a tart and not at all like the Marietta he remembered. She was wearing the oddest little hat with a lacy black veil, an arm full of bangles, and an entirely too-small t-shirt. She moved swiftly through the orders in front of him, giggling as she went, and the bangles clanked as she made change.

Blaise didn’t believe a bit of what he saw, and yet he couldn’t look away from her. He was entranced by this fake persona, as bright, shiny, and thin as a coat of fingernail polish. He found his interest rising as he thought about what she was hiding under the makeup, the veil, and the perky attitude.

If her bright smile faltered just the tiniest bit when she saw him, Blaise was careful not to notice. He gave her chest his full attention and cheerfully gave his order to her breasts.

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The next time he came, Blaise had no reason at all to be there. He came late in the afternoon and was surprised at how empty it was. He didn’t think Marietta was glad to see him. She dropped a stack of plates as he entered and the breaking china was loud on the tile floor. Blaise didn’t mind. He was getting used to people not wanting him around.

Marietta said nothing. She simply began sweeping up the broken pieces. At first Blaise was puzzled. Then he remembered that this was a muggle place. Nobody was going to try to put the china back together. It was just broken and that was that. Blaise rather liked that perspective. It made such a change from the rest of his life. He was heartily sick of trying to fix things.

Blaise watched the shifting curves of her arse as she bent over the dust pan. He found himself smiling into his coffee. On his way out he noticed that she had missed a shard of china. He picked it up and quietly put it in his pocket.

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Over the next several weeks, Blaise saw Marietta several times. He was careful to always speak directly to her breasts. He was careful to undress her with his eyes, slipping his gaze into her cleavage and circling each nipple with his thoughts. With anyone else this approach would have been the worst idea in the history of bad ideas. With Marietta it just might work.

He just needed to be sure to avoid looking at the one part of her that he truly wanted to see.

He didn't usually put this much effort into romancing a witch, but then most of his girls were interchangeable. He wanted Marietta. He had wanted her since that day in fifth year when he had seen her stumbling down the Hogwarts corridor half-blind with tears, and he had seen the magnificent ruin of her face.

Blaise could have lied and said the brutal hex brought out the underlying beauty of her face, but he didn’t believe in lying to himself. Marietta had never had a beautiful face. She had been bland, well-scrubbed, inoffensive. She wasn’t anyone you would notice. At best she had had a wholesome sort of schoolgirl prettiness. So it wasn’t any kind of beauty that drew him in. He was simply fascinated by the raw ugliness of what had been done to her face: the utter disfigurement, the impossibility of repair.

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The first time he fucked her was in the coffee shop’s supply cupboard, with her veil still firmly in place. She slid her knickers out from under her tight skirt and let them fall down her legs onto the floor. Then before there could be any question of removing anything else, he’d bent her over a box and pushed into her from behind. She was drier than he expected and Blaise wondered what she was getting out of this, but she must have been getting something, because she pushed back with a rough grunt. His fingers dug into her hips as he pulled part way out, then slammed back home.

Marietta groaned. It was a wordless sound, all vowels and no meaning. It was a ruined sound. For a crazy second Blaise thought that it was the sound of her face, mangled and ugly. Just the thought of her face made his balls go tight and his muscles clench. Then he was coming inside her. He hadn’t come that fast in years. It was almost embarrassing.

He didn’t think she was going to complain though, and sure enough she only sighed as he softened and slipped out. He reached around her in a fierce hug as she gasped, and then lowered the hug to knead her mound and slip his fingers inside. There was moisture now and he didn’t think it was all his come. He was as rough with his fingers as he had been with his cock, but it seemed right. Marietta was shuddering. Her thighs clenched hard and her mouth opened on a silent hiss of air.

Then she flipped down her skirt like nothing had happened, and for a second he thought he had done it all wrong.

But when he stopped there next day for an espresso, she nodded at him and said, “I get off at eleven.”

Blaise found himself whistling several times that day. Occasionally he checked his pocket. The china shard was still there.

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The next time he took her was in the dark alley behind the shop. It had quit raining, but the smell of wet pavement and bricks filled the night air. Buildings leaned in over them, blocking off the night sky. The only light was an occasional headlight from the street that seemed to have lost its way and gone blundering into the alley.

Marietta was muttering to herself as she dug through her purse for the door key. Blaise simply listened. He knew better than to reach for her face with either hands or lips. Which was probably why he wanted to touch that face so badly, wanted to feel the hard twist of scarring, the places where civility had been burned away.

Instead he watched her as she bent over slightly to lock the back door. As she stood on the doorstep she was close to his height. Stepping forward to press against her warm back, Blaise slid his hands searchingly over her breasts. Other than a soft intake of breath Marietta gave no response for a moment. Then she pushed her arse up against his groin.

He fumbled his way into her mostly by touch, bending his legs to hit the right spot. She was wetter this time and he almost missed the friction.

It was the quietest, slowest, outdoor sex he’d ever had, a long slow dance inside her. The world was his cock, the feel of her slickness, and the thought of her ruined face. Anything outside that was imaginary.

He wanted so badly to reach forward to stroke Marietta’s face, to feel the hardened marks that ridged her face. He wondered if she would ever let him touch her face during sex, or at all. He didn’t really hope for it. This was probably as close as the two of them would get.

Blaise didn’t believe in hope much anymore. He barely believed in survival. Yet if survival was real, then surely it felt like her scars.