Dance Me To The End

Dance Me To The End

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closed Dance Me To The End

Post by Robbie Fairfax on Thu Feb 09, 2017 6:18 am

"You don't know that you'll see her."

Robbie let out a scoff, pulling his vest over his shoulders and looking down to begin on the buttons, a knowing smile playing on his lips. "Yeah, right. She has a sixth sense I swear. She may act like she never wants to see my face, but somehow, she's always there. Maybe she's a masochist."

"Oh, stop."

He grinned, reaching up to fix his collar before walking over to his dresser to pull out a pair of clean socks, pulling them onto his feet, feeling eyes on him the whole time. As he reached for his shoes, he let out a sigh.

"What?"

"She doesn't actually hate you."

"That's funny. It's all she says when she sees me."

"Maybe she doesn't know what to say."

"What happened to 'if you have nothing nice to say-'"

"Marcie's never been well-versed in etiquette."

He shook his head, clearly at a loss, certain he could not be convinced out of his perception that Marcie Davis would be happy to seen him skinned alive for her enjoyment. But he knew a lost battle when he saw one, and he rarely liked to endeavor to fight when there was peace to be had. He glanced around, his eyebrows lowering over his green eyes as he searched his memory. "Where are the-"

"Kitchen."

"Right."

He left the comfort of his tidy room, jogging lightly down the stairs as he stumbled across the landing, having to do a little hop over Finley who was viciously gnawing on his own tail. "Finley! Stop chewing."

"Is it the fleas again?"

"No. The dolt just sees his tail while he's trying to eat and thinks it's stealing from him - spends the afternoon punishing it."

A laugh followed him to the kitchen, and he smiled despite himself, though that smile was immediately replaced by a sigh as his eyes landed on Jerry, who had somehow made it onto the top of the refrigerator. Robbie hurried over, flicking his hands, calling "Down, Jerry! Down!" The duck extended its neck and hissed at him, waddling his tail before laying down comfortably from its perch. Robbie tsked at the duck and lifted himself onto his toes, snatching at the duck.

CRACK.

"QUACK."

Robbie spun around, backing into the fridge as Jerry stared at him from the counter, somehow smug despite that annoyingly expressionless face.

"How the hell- It's not funny."

"You're right. Jerry the apparating duck is no laughing matter."

He smiled despite himself, shaking his head as he strode over to the counter, scooping the duck off the counter and dropping him onto the ground, lightly tapping his tail, eliciting an offended squawk out of the duck, who shook his feathers and waddled out of the kitchen without a backward glance at Robbie, his head held high. Robbie hated that duck, but it was one of those feelings that extended so far that it somehow circled back to a genuine love for his feathery companion.

“Oh…. Shoot.”

A rather mild expletive for someone who had just found a duck print on the very important files that necessitated his trip to the Ministry of Magic. In truth, he also had a phoenix he was supposed to be treating, one that was showing early signs of aging in its life cycle. He was intrigued, and desperate to work more with the creatures. The files could have been sent in Beatrice’s capable talons, but if he had the chance to check in on a phoenix, he could kill two birds with one stone.

He hated that expression.

“Your face looks sour.”

He smirked as he took out his wand to banish away all signs of Jerry on his files. “Don’t you have something better to do than tell me everything I’m doing wrong?”

“And let you fall to pieces when you realize you’re hopeless without me? Yeah, I don’t think so.”

He lined up the files and swept them into his file folder, which he tucked under his arm. “Oh, Merlin-“

“You won’t see her. And if you do, you’ll survive it. You’re a survivor.”

He let out a sigh, reaching up to rub his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. “Right. Okay. I’m off.” He turned and headed for the front door, but he had hardly made it a few steps then the voice followed.

“Coat.”

He stopped in his track, took two steps back, and grabbed his coat off the rack, slipping it onto his shoulders. He always forgot a coat on rainy days, always looked foolish. He smiled, a feeling of gratitude filling the cavity in his chest, sad to be leaving, even if it was just for a moment. And as though she read his mind-

“I love you Robbie.”

A smile flickered on his face. A smile that revealed how, even after all this time, it still surprised him, still caught him off guard that she loved him, that he had managed to prove his worth to her. He turned.

And there was the empty foyer. Where she should have been, like she used to be, hand resting on the banister of the stairs, chin on her hand, hip jutting out because she couldn’t help but be sassy. And the smile faded, the gratitude trickling out to make way for the overwhelming emptiness that had become his closest companion these last couple of years. Her ran his tongue against the bottom row of his teeth, his jaw clenching as he dropped his head, his hand unconsciously reaching out for the other, rubbing the band that still occupied his fourth finger.

He swallowed, and couldn’t bring himself to say it back out loud. He just turned, and left his home, empty as it has been for the past three years.


Robbie Fairfax was not crazy.

He had always had a bit of problem with daydreaming, something reported even by his earliest teachers, though they of course chalked it up to his imagination and happy spirit. Robbie had always been a bit of a vivid daydreamer, but could hardly remember a dream if his life depended on it. Of course, he had the odd nightmare, but even these were forgotten as soon as his eyes flew open, the only trace of them in his tired mind, restless body, and unsettled spirit. He had daydreamed about jumping on a broom and flying out of awkward situations, about punching Bull when he deserved it, about making some grand gesture that proved himself to his sister.

A psychiatrist might claim daydreaming about his wife helping him get through the day was a coping mechanism. That what he was doing was allowing his subconscious to take on a voice it would actually listen to, or it was him living through the moments he felt he had been robbed of. A psychiatrist might say either of these things, or neither of them, he didn’t know. He wasn’t seeing a psychiatrist so he could hardly guess what one might see about him.

The point was, he was fine. He was back to working, he was back at home. He could go out for a drink with Yuna and Bull without falling apart, he could take seeing the Davises (Davisi?) again. He was still a bit of a mess when people asked, but those who knew him knew not to ask, and those who didn’t had no reason to ask. It wasn’t something that came up very organically after all. And the Prophet had hardly reported on it. And it was three years ago! So why would someone ask! Of course they wouldn’t. That was silly. Of course they wouldn’t ask about Mae.

Some days it felt like she had never existed.

He was desperately trying to shake this cyclical thinking as he walked into the Ministry – though he could hardly call it thinking. He felt like he didn’t do much thinking these days, but was rather barraged with impressions and feelings and assumptions and realizations. He could hardly rationalize through simple questions like what to make for dinner, there was no way he was going to be graceful enough to pick his way through the complexities of loss. Still, he forced fantasies of time reversing itself out of his head and turned his thoughts to the files in his hand and the phoenix who needed to see him.

He was headed up to the one place in the Ministry he was ever summoned to, the endearingly renamed Department of Fluffies, and he was trying to steel himself for what shouldn’t have been the inevitable, but felt like it. It always was. He had no idea how Marcie Davis managed to be everywhere at once when he came a-knocking, but for someone who said she avoided him like the plague, she treated him more like a nargle treated mistletoe. (Nargles loved mistletoe).

But why should he fear Marcie? She was possibly the closest connection to Mae he had. If they could get past their negative feelings (ahem, her negative feelings) they might actually find themselves as friends. She shared Mae’s DNA, strand for strand, after all.

And yet, when he turned onto the floor, who was at the end of the hall but Marcie Davis, her face already stony as she argued something to a wizard equally bent on getting his way. They were walking this way, slowed by their argument, and he could probably make it to his door before she even looked up. Feeling breathless, he walked towards her, feeling foolishly like a man walking towards his own doom. He was halfway there.

She scoffed and her eyes began to travel away from the man she was speaking with, and his panic was instantaneous. There was an open door to his left, and it was towards this he went barreling. As luck would have it, someone was walking past at that exact moment.

So they went with him.

It was a supply closet, with hardly enough room for the two of them, but on the other side was an already-mad Marcie Davis who may or may have not just seen him dive into a closet to avoid her. So the door came shutting behind them as Robbie gasped for breath. He finally collected himself and supposed he should say something to his accidental hostage.

“I’m so sorry, but I promise you – complete accident. If you could just wait here for a few minutes, I’d be much obliged.”
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closed Re: Dance Me To The End

Post by Ella Blair Woods on Sun Feb 19, 2017 11:52 pm

There were many advantages to the magical world’s belated harnessing of muggle technologies, but increasingly, Ella found that her feelings towards the DWN and its attendants were about as warm as an ice chip.

Which is to say: not very.

The facts were as follows: It was easy enough to ignore an owl. Even the more insistent ones could be side-stepped with a strategic retreat to a different room, or a quick trip into town, or simply just a particularly ferocious pet kneazle.

It was much harder to ignore the shrill tones of far too involved old ladies when they no longer required a feathered go-between and could pour their persistent protests directly into your ear, instead.

The topic of the day? Ella’s career progression (or lack thereof). Faced with her grandmother’s insistent concern and numerous warnings disguised as encouragement, Ella’s assurances had started off genuine and very quickly deteriorated into half-baked, half-serious ideas that both women knew would never actually come to fruition.

The latest of which- “Hogwarts?”- was apparently an especially unwelcome suggestion, judging by Amelia’s extensive (prepared, she was sure) list of reasons that rendered teaching- be it at one of Europe’s most prestigious magic schools- a firmly Unsuitable Prospect. Not for the first time, phone gripped between shoulder and cheek as she went over her week’s lesson plans, Ella wondered whether this level of investment in grandchildren’s lives by beleaguering grandparents was at all normal or common, or whether she was just one of a particularly lucky few.

“There’s not much opportunity for advancement, you know- they’ve only just appointed a new Headmaster, the Prophet says.”

“I don’t want-“

“And,” her grandmother continued, volume climbing authoritatively, “you won’t meet a man if you’re spending all your time with your nose in old books chasing young people for essays.”

“I’ve met enough men, Gran- it’s liking them that’s the issue.”

“Well if you went into Goblin Liaison, like I advised you to-“

“I’d meet goblins. Your great-grandchildren would be wandless and big-eared and really quite alarmingly disenfranchis-

“Elizabeth!”

Ella sighed.

“Sorry. I’m fine, Gran. Seriously.”

Amelia sniffed, her words taking on a foreboding note.

“I hope you know what you’re doing.”

“I do.”


She didn’t.

In fact, she was so unsure of her career aspirations that she actually had considered taking her grandmother’s advice after that phone call- never mind that she had no interest in banking, law, or diplomacy, and didn’t speak a word of Gobbledegook. Fortunately, the thought had been banished as soon as it had tried knocking (barging was more Amelia’s style) its way in, mortification at making any sort of concession returning her to her senses. Though really, the lines between pride and self-preservation had become awfully blurred, of late.

Much as it pained her to admit it, her grandmother had a point. The placid pace at which her life had been progressing since the Danny Disaster of 2028 was a state of affairs that couldn’t continue indefinitely. The last two years had been a precarious balancing act between the path her life was taking and the path she wanted it to take, and then all of a sudden the second path wasn’t there anymore and there was only the current she’d fallen into pushing her along into crannies she’d never expected.

(Not that she’d ever describe Wordsworth Prep, Sunita Prakash’s pride and joy and the result of the last few years’ worth of both their blood, sweat, and tears as a cranny.)

(At least, not within her boss’s earshot.)

The point was, it was due time for Ella to grab hold of the reins of her life and direct it where she wanted it to go. So that was exactly what she did. Not a week after that phone call, a decision was made, application sent, and with a word put in from her cousin, a date set for an interview. And so, today, substitute briefed, grandmother assured, suited and booted, with said boss’s blessing, she was headed down the too-familiar halls of the Ministry yet again, purpose putting a spring in her step. Purpose that wasn’t connected with her dastardly ex, which was a nicer change than she could’ve anticipated. It almost felt nice, being back. Absently, it did occur to her that the familiar feelings of dread and despondence hadn’t been entirely present the last time, either- though while she had a curious American to thank for that, on this occasion she had nothing but her own motivation and pluck.

And a cup of coffee, of course.

It was probably for the best, then, that said American wasn't in the vicinity at that moment. In the next few seconds, however, she would find herself wishing her unlikely comrade-in-arms were there to appreciate the staggering irony of that thought.

It happened too quickly for her to react. One second she was walking down the corridor, drink in hand, clipping her visitor's pass to her jacket. The next, the coffee was on the floor, the pass flying, and Ella herself being pushed into one of the unused supply closets no-one had got round to repurposing yet.

"Oh for- not again."

Her exclamation was cut off by the door shutting, and it took her precisely three seconds to come to two equally distressing realizations and jump to one even more distressing conclusion: 1. She hadn't been pushed into the closet, she'd been pulled.  2. The last time anyone had pulled a stunt (pun intended) even half this surprising, her life had been firmly and completely ruined. 3. Thus, ergo, therefore, either she was being kidnapped, or Danny had sent someone to finish the job. Possibly both.

(It wasn't Danny himself. She'd know him by scent, even after all this time.)

So she opened her mouth and did what any self-respecting female would do in a situation of tried and tested catastrophe.

She screamed.

At least, that was the plan. What really ended up happening was a sudden switch of intention at the last minute, the half-hearted set up for an ungodly shriek deflating into a suspicious frown. Though his words weren’t exactly reassuring, the voice seemed to carry a note of familiarity- but more importantly, what was she hoping to achieve with a scream, shut in a cupboard with a stranger capable of who knows what? Since when did she scream at catastrophe, anyway? Her go-to had always been a sharp kick in the- ahem- shins or a well-executed bat-bogey hex. Was she losing her touch as well as all sense and reason?

The thought unsettled her enough that she clamped her lips shut and squinted through the darkness at her mysterious assailant with an obstinate set of the chin.

When she did speak, her tone, wry though it was, was not exactly hushed. In fact, her words were distinctly unimpressed and imbued with a bite that would give Amelia a run for her money.

“Accident my arse. The last time I went along with a hare-brained scheme in this building, I ended up married. What the hell do you think you're doing?"

It was a tone that held the promise of a scream, said that if given reason enough (or insufficient reason, as it were) she could and would still unleash a shriek to give the hounds of hell a run for their money. It was a tone two years of daily interaction with five year olds had honed through both example and practice, one she'd had plenty of excuse to employ both in and out of the classroom.

At the same time, she finally regained her wits (you were Hitwitch once, goddammit) enough to pull her wand out of her pocket, whipping it round to point it at the Mysterious Assailant with the same measure of threat carried by her words. She couldn't make out his shadowy features in the unlit closet, but perhaps the darkness would give her an advantage if it came to that. Because although there didn't seem to be any immediate danger, she wouldn't be going down without a fight. Not this time.

And here she'd thought that chapter of her life had been firmly closed. It would have absolutely been a laughing matter- were it not so utterly, infuriatingly, hilariously depressing.
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closed Re: Dance Me To The End

Post by Robbie Fairfax on Mon Feb 20, 2017 7:21 am

Sometimes, life could be very pleasant and very gentle with its surprises. Robbie had lived through both extremes of surprise. His daughter could hardly count as a full surprise, as they had been intentional creating her, but Mae had been so good and so clever to lull him out of his suspicions and spring the happy news on him when it would cause the most amount of joy - pft, as though it wouldn't have been the best moment of his life in a slightly less perfect set up.

And, of course, he had his share of less pleasant surprises.

More than his share.

But he had been trying to be optimistic again. He used to have pretty good luck, and had always believed in some form of karma. His life had been evidence enough of it. He never had a bad word for anyone, could more or less find something to like in anyone, and never left a fight without apologizing for his part in it. And, for the most part, life had been kind to him in return. He had found fulfilling work, had a support system that never ceased to make him feel overwhelmed with gratitude, and had spent some of the happiest years of his life with a woman he most certainly could not have deserved without all that good karma to help him out.

So, all in all, he was due for a pleasant surprise. A co-conspirator who would laugh off these strange circumstances and make an already awkward situation no more painful that it already was.

He must have used up all his good points for the day, because he had no such luck.

He could have handled being berated, he deserved it after all, but the woman's voice was just loud enough that he couldn't be sure Marcie wouldn't investigate. She was a clever witch and shrewd beyond his comfort. If she heard muffled screaming from a supply closet, there was no chance in this world or the next that she would chalk it up to none of her business and move on. Leave no stone unturned. Or something. That sounded like something Marcie would say.

He supposed he should have apologized. He should have jumped straight into an explanation, or just maybe he could have manned up and confronted his former sister in law like a normal human being. But he had a deep reservoir of defense mechanisms, some of which had flourished in the company of his sister and best friend.

And, to be fair, she had just pulled her wand on him. He could barely see, but he could see enough to see that.

"If you're going to hex me, our marriage counselor already has a lot to talk about."
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closed Re: Dance Me To The End

Post by Ella Blair Woods on Fri Mar 10, 2017 11:00 pm

Ella did not know whether this withholding stranger was spectacularly good at reading people (and possibly possessing some sort of equally impressive night vision) or just remarkably lucky, but he’d somehow managed to hit just the right combination of placatory words on his first try. Which was impressive, really, considering he’d also managed to give her the shock of her life not 2 minutes ago. But humour had always acted as a multi-purpose balm for the headstrong witch and on this occasion, as on the first instalment of her caffeine escapades, it didn’t fail to deliver.

As if a sharp poke had made a hole in her fabric and allowed all the hot air to come fizzling out, she deflated, shoulders relaxing, wand hand wavering, and breath exhaling. The defences she’d been so ready to employ were laid aside for a more pressing issue- defending her good name against sarcastic accusations of hypothetical assault. She lifted her chin but lowered her voice, this time.

“Oh I’m sure they’ll find me perfectly justified when they discover you shoved me into a closet.”

Her tone was no less sharp but carried more than a tinge of that good-natured, only half-serious indignation she’d long since mastered. It was her expression, however, that gave her away- raised eyebrows belied by an impish quirk of the lips, eyes bright with what would have been amusement, but in this case was closer to relief.

She did mean what she'd said about the closet, though.

Criminals and cheats could still banter with the best of them, after all- as embarrassingly well as she knew this, she often found herself to need firm reminding. So she pushed the humour aside just enough to actually use the wand clutched in the tight space between them, raised again just as fast as it’d been lowered. The tip, pointed at the Mysterious Assailant's face, lit up with bright ball of light.

Instantly, she regretted saying anything at all.

Because yes, that was a spark of familiarity after all. The Mysterious Assailant wasn't a friend of Danny’s (she didn't think), or even an old colleague, or anyone for whom the first statement would have worked as a stand-alone. But neither was he a total stranger, didn’t look particularly (or at all) unsavoury. A name attached itself to the shadowy features a minute too late to stop, or backtrack, or even scream.

“…Robbie Fairfax?”

The brother of a classmate, the friend of a cousin's friend, the classmate of a sister- or something equally convoluted and along those lines. But definitely not of the same substance as the rash, rowdy sort he was associated with in her mind- and the sort she still associated with even now. Certainly not the type to be running from the law and dragging others along with him, at any rate.

Well, maybe. She didn’t think so. School memories and their faces all sort of blurred into one at her grand old age.

The question (WHY ARE YOU IN A CLOSET) hung unasked in the air as she simply squinted at him through the light, running through the litany of offences she'd encountered in her brief career as a catcher of criminals and an enforcer of justice (in fairness, that sounded so much better than "wife of the former and victim of the latter") to find one that might be fitted even loosely to his admittedly nonthreatening countenance. Humour or over-active imagination- one of the two came to her rescue, but she couldn't herself tell you which.

“Tax evasion.”

In hindsight, it probably should have sounded a little more like a question and a little less like the bang of a gavel. But as guesses go, it could have been much, much worse. After all, "kidnapping" posited her as the kid in the situation and that just wouldn't do. What with their hypothetical marriage counselor and all... that.
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closed Re: Dance Me To The End

Post by Robbie Fairfax on Mon Mar 13, 2017 5:09 am

He stared into the darkness, wondering which color the flash of light would be that would signal whatever punishment he so deserved, especially for that comment that had slipped out of his traitorous lips. Had he been in a less compromising position, less immediacy in his need for discretion, his better sense would have certainly screened his comment and deemed it improper for the situation. Instead, he was left dealing with the consequences of a statement that would have played much better if he were Bull or Yuna, someone who could actually follow humor with wit.

But neither of them would have dragged a stranger into a closet rather than face a confrontation. So he supposed that was a bit of a moot point.

But there was no flash of red or green, no whispered hex, no sudden realization that his teeth were growing or his feet dancing. Instead, he heard the exhalation of breath, and he clung to the hope that this other person would maybe let him off the hook. Perhaps his quip had earned him some amount of immunity, or maybe she had just taken pity on him - because what sort of person would be so desperate.

Right. So, not pitiful enough to ward off a verbal beating. But at least she wasn't yelling. Or hexing him. Or hitting him. She sounded like she wouldn't be above hitting him.

His eyes were adjusting now, the light from the crack of the door falling across her face and the darkness around her being less sharp, melting back so he could see lips twisting into an almost-smirk, something shining in her eyes that betrayed that he might not be in as much trouble as his instincts told him he was.

Hang on. He knew her.

But then her wand was coming into view and his relief was immediately replaced by regret - for his joke, for dragging her with him, for ever having left the house - but all he could do is wince in preparation. He was a gentleman and he could admit defeat when he saw it. He had earned whatever was coming towards him. And, honestly, whatever she could think up was probably still  a better option than dealing with Marcie.

But a light flickered on. He drew back in surprise, eyes blinking again to try and readjust once more. And now he could see her fully, and a name was floating towards the front of his memory, just out of reach....

It clicked just as she said his name.

"Ella Woods."

It was an affirmation that not only had she correctly identified him, but that he was relatively certain of his own assessment. He had a knack for names and faces, a skill every people-person (former people-person, in this case, really more of an animal-person now) seemed to be born with. He knew her because Yuna had dragged him into more than one (try every other) social interaction she could, eager to share her friends with him, and Ella was certainly Yuna's year, though instinct told him that she had not been a Gryffindor as his sister had.

It was a fortuitous change of events, to escape a hostile presence and be pitted with, at the least, a familiar one. Most people who knew Yuna liked her, and he hoped he could ride his the good graces of his sister's relation. He felt a good natured grin unfold on his lips, some of the tension relaxing from his shoulders, and he probably looked more reassured than she had given him cause for, but it was all a slight tip his favor. The universe wasn't completely unfriendly.

He opened his mouth to ask her what she had been up to-

"Tax evasion."

He nearly choked, so quick he was to stop the air that had been forming his inquiry. For a wild moment, he associated this phrase with his question, and wondered if she were, for some strange reason, confessing to him. But he hadn't asked. Not out loud. He knew his sanity was shaky at best, but he knew that he had only thought that.

"P-pardon?"
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