You're Like Me. I'm Never Satisfied. - Page 4
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You're Like Me. I'm Never Satisfied.

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Post by Keiran Hayes Fri Oct 14, 2016 12:19 am

It didn’t bother him that she stepped away. He hardly even noticed.  But when she spoke? Oh, he was fully aware of that. He was fully aware of the fact that he wanted to grab her arm, disapparate to Merlin knew where, and just drop her there to find her way home. But that would hardly be a big deal as she had magic, too. He just wanted her gone. Out of his house, out of his life, and far, far away from his father’s memory. How could Aiden have hired someone like her? She went against everything their family believed, and yet… did he not, himself? Keiran didn’t think so, but, really what did he know anyway?

He wasn’t, to tell you the truth, reader, actually of the mind that his father would even like him anymore, were he still around.

Then again, if Aiden were still around, perhaps he wouldn’t have felt the need to protect those kids on his own. Perhaps he would have had more confidence in his ability as a father, and been home more. Surely, then, Millie wouldn’t have found whatever miniscule reason she’d needed to jump into the arms of a stranger, and he wouldn’t have held up their lives by failing to move past it.

Her smirk did nothing to him, really. Keiran felt like he had been turned to stone by her first two sentences alone, not to mention what followed after that. The fire behind his eyes had dwindled, sure, but that was the thing about his eyes. They gave everything away, even when he told them not to.  So when he withdrew, unable to keep his fury but unable to back down, he swallowed, set his jaw, and let that lifeless look seep in. The one that had concerned Kenna, told Millie everything she needed to know when he brought up divorce that final time, and had convinced Avery that Keiran desperately needed a break. He had taken on the Headmaster position, was watching the three kids on his own because he thought it would help Melissa, and now there was this, too.

Keiran knew far better than to think that his father would be proud of him, despite the immense honor of being asked to return in order to receive such a promotion. Aiden had felt responsible for being unable to save Keiran from the Marriage Law, and now the son had gone and proven his father right. He wasn’t capable enough. He had done despicable things in the name of a love he hadn’t earned, properly received, or even been able to hold onto. He had just taken on the Rookwood name as a badge of honor when a year ago he had nearly refused to even speak to Theodore after finding out the truth. Wherever his father was, Keiran knew he had no reason to be proud of his son.

When she spoke again, this time about her father, his first instinct was to point out that his father had been gone a shorter time, so if she was going to scoff about Aiden’s passing, he wouldn’t hesitate to shut her up. But he couldn’t.  Believe it or not, he was more kind than that. Most people deemed him lovable, but he hadn’t heard anything like that since leaving Hogwarts the first time. Since Millie had proven his theory right.

Of course, the truth of the matter was this: he felt sorry for her. He didn’t want to care, but he did and that made him irrationally upset. Upset, that is, rather than angry. He couldn’t feel angry about the fact that she was sharing something with him for once. That she was being genuine. He was more upset that he couldn’t resist once the opening had been created. For a moment, he wondered if Phaedra had ever spoken to Millie or his mum about him. Because he certainly hadn’t expected her to be aware that the pity card would work so well.

He didn’t say or do much of anything until she decided it was time to question him. Then the fire was lit again. He waited, out of morbid curiosity, but his presence became dangerous again. And there was something off about her, in the sense that he didn’t doubt she would do something shocking if she felt she had to. But he would, too.

He waited. She finished, stepping towards him to close that space she had opened up. And then he drew his wand. The door locked itself at his silent command.

“If you had any idea what my life has been like over the past three years, you wouldn’t ask such naïve questions. You would understand that losing money and prestige means nothing to those who aren’t cold and heartless. Lands and riches may be all that matter to you, and maybe the Rosiers don’t deign to feel affection towards anyone. You were probably told, growing up, that it’s safer to live like that, to be like that. I assure you they were wrong. Now,” he said, lifting the tip of his wand until it hovered just beneath her chin. “You have two choices. Either you leave here right now, and you stay away from my family – and, I should warn you, the list is quite long, so you may wish to do your research. Or, you come with me.”

Keiran opened his hand, palm up, in front of her. “If curiosity is a trait you possess, I imagine you’ll want to know what I mean by that. But, of course, it seems like callousness is one trait you are prideful of having possession of. So perhaps that alone will be enough for you. See, I’m about to offer you a chance to see exactly what I’ve lost. Consider it blackmail material if that makes you feel better. Because I guarantee you’ll be shocked to see it. How many times I should’ve died. How many people decided that I wasn’t nearly enough, including the ex-wife who felt that children and a husband who not only saved the lives of her friends but also went so far as to kill someone to protect her… that wasn’t enough. I don’t need to be enough for her; I’ve become enough for myself, cold though I have apparently become, and that means I’m well strong enough to handle you, Ms. Rosier. You wouldn’t have time to even arm yourself, if I deemed it so.

“I’m not as cruel as you seem to think. Nor as cruel as you seem to be. I wouldn't be half this stark with someone who showed even the minutest amounts of compassion or humanity. Yes, I'm aware that you've told me about your family. But your concerns are so shallow and basic that I can't believe you're trying to use it as an attempt to level with me. If that's even your goal, of course. Money? Honestly, woman. You know nothing of loss. Of fear, or heartbreak or any of the dangerous pieces of self-hatred. I can promise you that I, on the other hand, do. So I know better than to let your hardly passable attempts at threats or demands affect me. The story was a nice try. It nearly worked, for a minute. I nearly felt bad enough to drop it. Congratulations.

"But I'm not so easily distracted. And even as I stand here I’m wondering why I’m even bothering. But if you need help with what I think you need help with, you either need to learn to trust me, respect me, ...or fear me. And the last two are far more likely than the first, from what I’ve seen. And since option three isn’t visibly working, perhaps option two will.”

Keiran lifted his chin again, as if the slight alteration in height would do anything at all. His voice dropped, the tenor lowering dangerously even though, in another world, in another circumstance, it could have been a decision made because he knew his voice was smoother that way. Now, it was the kind that sent a completely different sort of shiver down the spines of most. The kind that said, while everything leading up to this had been threatening and dark, ... whatever followed would be much more important. And, undoubtedly, frightening. He took the smallest of steps forward, feeling acutely just how much tension was in the air between them and how deeply the shadows delved into each of them. It didn't even make him hesitate.

“So. How badly do you want information about how to fix your problem? How badly do you want information on me, now? I’m willing to bet you’re aching for it.”
Keiran Hayes
Keiran Hayes
Seventh Year Slytherin
Seventh Year Slytherin

Number of posts : 548
Occupation : Captain of the Slytherin Quidditch Team

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Post by Phaedra Rosier Sat Oct 15, 2016 2:22 am

Phaedra knew what that emotion was, now. The icy, debilitating feeling that had washed over her earlier, and once again with his next speech. Shock.

She’d turned, long blonde locks falling across her face and chest as her head swiveled at the sound of the door's lock mechanism slotting into place. His next words froze her like that for a second, and when she turned back to look at him there was a wand pointed at her chin and a hand presented to her. She ignored both, eyes snapping to his instead.

Unlike Keiran, whose eyes seemed to advertise his every emotion, Phaedra’s had always been firmly shuttered, the irises functioning more as a green curtain to cloak emotion than a window. But it rose, for a second, as they widened of their own accord, betraying something more than offence or disdain. Something more like disbelief- and dangerously close to hurt.

And yes, the fire had returned to his own, but she hadn’t missed the curious emptiness that her comment about his father had triggered. Although she’d been the one to cause it, she felt relief when the hollowness faded again and the life- no matter how angry- returned to him. It wasn't often that Phaedra was stunned into silence, but the scathing nature of his remarks coupled with the revelation that she'd been completely wrong in her rash reading of him left her reeling.

She acknowledged, distantly, that perhaps they'd both gone too far.

Because at that moment, the most absurd, ridiculous urge rose up within her. She wanted to cry. She would never actually do it, of course. She wasn’t even close. But the urge was there, and it unsettled her. She hadn’t felt anything close to it since that night so long ago and she hated it, hated that Keiran of all people could give rise to it.

You are cruel, she thought. Despite his own claim to the contrary, he was. Losing 4 of the 5 most important people in the world to her in the space of a month and having the one remaining be reduced to the ghost of a shell for the better part of two years wasn’t loss? She didn't need or want to one up him. Her experience of it was proof enough. And what, she wanted to ask, was her earlier tiptoeing around his father- to the extent of considering completely abandoning her foray into Bridget’s house so as not to dredge up unpleasant memories- if not a display of compassion? Phaedra was no fool. She could have just turned a blind eye to his obvious discomfort and taken what he was willing to give with not a single concern, as she usually did. As she should have done. As she had no idea why she’d attempted otherwise.

Ultimately she couldn’t, herself, say what had pushed her to even take that tiny step in the first place. She hated that, too. Perhaps because although she wouldn’t deny his assertions, the real problem wasn’t that she’d been told not to show or feel affection. The problem was that the only people she’d ever felt or wanted to feel affection for- at least in this country- had been cold in the ground for 4 years. And that feeling was something she couldn't seem to escape, didn't want to repeat, and didn't need to justify to a near-stranger- who, of course, was still being self-righteous.

No, she wasn’t scared of him. But she’d be lying if she said she wasn’t scared at all. Of herself, yes, but also of the ugly ancient type of magic her family seemed to prefer, that her uncle had apparently mastered. The magic that cut into you like barbed wire, magic that was dark and terrible and unknown. Magic you could feel a mile away, that even muggles seemed to sense on a lesser level. She’d been filled with dread before even reaching the wards. Something in her had kept her from getting too close. She was scared of what might happen if she did. But how could she explain that to him? Afraid of her own home? Even a blood traitor like him would find it ridiculous.

Because despite what he thought, it wasn’t really about the land or the money. It was about what it stood for- dignity, autonomy, and belonging. Probably in some ignored, hidden part of her she knew that it was about the last most of all, the longing more for the life and family she’d once had than the symbol she’d chosen for it. But whether she properly understood that, knew that regaining everything wouldn't bring them or her old self back- well, there was every possibility she didn't realize it at all.

She still didn’t move, even as she sensed the hint of danger in his tone, even as he stepped forward to narrow the infinitesimal gap between them even more. The inches that separated them were crackling, heavy with something thick enough to slice and his voice was low and smoother than it had any right to be. With the last loaded statement, something in the air seemed to shift.

Suddenly, she was all too aware of how close they actually were.

Her first impulse was to put space between them again, but she resisted this time. She did, however, allow her gaze to drop for the barest second, swallowing as she did so. Pressed her lips firmly together, tongue darting out to wet them. No, not nervously- because why on earth would she be nervous?

It took longer than it should have for her to make any move that might prove otherwise. Of course, when she did, it wasn't to move away but to stretch up and lean forward. An attempt to bridge some of the infuriating height difference he seemed keen to accentuate and look him straight in the eye, not a trace of a smile or smirk on her painted lips.

"Don't play with fire, Keiran." Barely a whisper, tone grim, heavy with all the warnings she wanted to give.

Yet, despite herself, just as much an invitation for danger as a caution.

And then, finally, a step back. If she couldn't control what conclusions he drew about her, she'd just have to use them to her advantage. Because she couldn't disprove his words without revealing an even more painful, unspeakable truth. And even that would end up corroborating what he'd already accused her of. She already had, to an extent, in letting herself get locked in a perpetual stand-off with someone she hadn't actually desired to hurt, nor had any business doing so. Though she tried, she couldn't deceive herself that she was anything less than poisonous and mistaken and guilty- so, so guilty.

Perhaps that was why she was still there, despite every instinct otherwise having had her leave long ago. Every impulse in her blood told her to do more than simply stand there listening. Had it been Giovanna or Vittore facing him, the other wand in the room would not still be lying out of reach on the opposite side of the desk. His own would not still be pointed at her. He would not have even been given the chance to make half of his assumptions.

And Milo? She could almost hear her cousin’s evaluation of Keiran. Could almost hear him tell her exactly what she needed to do. What any of them would do. What she’d done plenty of times herself. An easier way to get just what you wanted. Did he have the mental strength to resist it?

The question wouldn’t be answered, because she wasn’t going to do it. And that thought, strangely enough, was empowering. No matter what Keiran said about her, whatever assumptions he chose to make, she knew herself. Callous, cruel, shallow, basic, dense- despite their harshness, words that were ultimately insignificant, even if they were worse coming from him than they usually were. What she'd realised, however, was that she didn't know him. For all her assumptions and affronts, she'd only been throwing darts and hoping they landed in the right spot. She hadn't actually cared about the details of his life or what he'd done with it. And now he was offering her the opportunity to change that. For whatever unknown reasons, he'd decided to tear down her image of him and construct a new one. And she, for whatever illogical, unlikely reasons, was curious.

She turned around, proximity brushing her against him, and reached across the desk, rolling her wand into her grasp, feeling infinitely better for it.

She weighed it in her hand as she turned back, studying his face with a gaze more penetrating than any she'd previously bothered with in relation to him. When her mouth opened again even she didn’t know what she’d say- but she should have, really, because hadn't she always been drawn to the dark? The words seemed to come of their own accord. A challenge, never a concession.

"Surprise me.”
Phaedra Rosier
Phaedra Rosier
Slytherin Graduate
Slytherin Graduate

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Post by Keiran Hayes Mon Oct 17, 2016 2:44 am

[ooc: You probably know most of what's coming up, but here's a review from Kegsy's pov.]

Keiran dropped his hand when she failed - refused, really - to accept it. There was no point in leaving it out there and looking the fool more than he already felt for being so aggressive and forward. Sure, she had riled him up so he could fully believe she had instigated it. He doubted she felt the same way. In truth, he knew it wasn't entirely her fault but it felt loads better to convince himself otherwise. So he trampled all over that guilt and just waited.

His eyes followed the minute, nearly missable movements that assured him of her anxiety. They lingered before drawing slowly back up to meet Phaedra's once more, just in time for her to lean up to face off with him. His lips parted slightly as his jaw inched to one side while he tried to hold his tongue.

He certainly wanted to speak up, and could have let loose a snarky line about fire and heat and whatever else, but not only would that come off as inappropriate, he didn't want to suggest something that wasn't true. He had no designs on her, just as she claimed she didn't towards him. Keiran was truly starting to believe that now, to be fair.

He had never been very good at cooling himself off, though. Look where his temper had gotten him, after all.

She turned, her arm brushing his chest and taking him by surprise. Rather than backing down, since he assumed it was done on purpose, Keiran drew in a deep breath. Of course, that just meant that he furthered the contact without actually meaning to do so, pressing more firmly against her.

She turned back towards him, and his mouth flattened into a line at her decision. He was getting what he wanted, yes, but it sort of didn't feel that way. It felt, rather, like something was off. It was dangerous, almost. She would, if she chose to, be the one person in the world who knew everything he didn't want to say. Things he hadn't told Millie, hadn't told Avery, wouldn't have told Robin. The ins and outs of the last three years and beyond. Millie had seen some of the parts he was prepared to share.

So he just looked at her for a moment, blinked, and then reached out. His fingers closed around hers and within moments they were in his home across town. Galway, beautiful though it was, felt almost strange now. Millie's things were gone, and although the kids' things had scattered beyond Keiran's typically obsessively-clean nature, the home didn't feel right. That was undoubtedly to do with the kids being out for the day and the fact that he now had to show it to someone who didn't know him better. Yet. One's house was particularly personal, wasn't it?

He didn't release her, a sense of paranoia about his space setting in, instead pulling her along behind him as he moved down the hall. He wasn't gripping tightly enough to ensure that she wouldn't be able to yank her arm away, but he was certainly trying to make a point.

Keiran left her at the door, walking through the room that had once been designated as Millie's piano room during his time on the continent. Now, it was empty. When he approached a wall, though, it split and a long table slid out into the main section of the room. Atop it, in the center, was the family pensieve. He had attempted to give it to Millie, only to find that it somehow bothered her. She didn't want to relive her time with her father, at that point. He didn't know if she had ever used it, in the end.

At any rate, behind the pool was a series of vials along three-tiered racks. They were labeled by date, and all of them were ones Keiran had pulled within the last few months. Most pensieves were buried with their owners, but this rune-engraved basin had been given to Keiran by his father, and the copies of what he'd experienced would likely go to whichever of his children found them the most interesting or important.

As tempted as he was to tell her she ought to go in order, and then to wander into the depths of his house, he knew that memories, when pulled, made the originals weaker. So he wasn't going to leave her with the opportunity to smash any of the vials.

"These are chronological," he explained, glancing towards her. "Hogwarts years first, where the first two women in my life - girls, then, really - both used me to get someone else. Then school, where a third did nearly the same thing. Then the Marriage Law, which I'm sure you're thrilled to have missed," he let his face pull into a horribly ironic grimace. "I was paired with a student of mine. Nine year difference, as well. Absolutely mental. And by Christmas, I thought that perhaps the Ministry was right. I genuinely loved her. Christmas was always our time. We found out about the twins at Christmas one year. My best friend thought I still cared for the woman he had been matched with, and we fought about it. But it didn't even matter, because dad had been murdered and there were worse things than a misunderstanding."

He pointed to the next one. "The magical creatures were banned from Hogwarts at midterm a couple years back, also near Christmas, and she asked me to save her friends. So I started a school of my own, in secret. And because I was busy with the people who needed me more than she and the twins did," he gestured to the next one, "she decided that it was time to bring another man into my house, to spend time with my kids."

Keiran bristled visibly, having to regain composure before he could go on. "I told her that if she loved someone else she shouldn't draw things out with me. She claimed she didn't want it to end. So I stayed. Then we had Darcie, our youngest. And things didn't actually get better. So I moved to start my job at the Ministry and took Darcie with me for a bit. I think she resented it, but I wanted a better chance with her than I had with the older two. Misguided, but I did try. Then she asked me to help when her past came back to haunt her, and I ended up killing someone to save her and to save the life of a boy who I didn't even know what my nephew. My brother hadn't bothered telling me he existed, and since he ran away so young, my parents didn't know he was around, either."

Keiran shook his head. There wasn't a whole lot he could do to explain that away, so he didn't even try.

"My best friend went missing when his daughter had her first birthday. It took me longer than I care to admit, but I tried to save him. My wand broke while I was in the midst of a Kiev winter, and I spent months trying to save up enough to get back home, since I was out there with absolutely nothing at that point. But a group of my friends somehow traced me and brought me home. I thought things would be better, despite Robin's death, but they weren't. Melissa didn't care to hear how things were while I was away. It didn't matter, because I was back, and because she had altered her memories to help her hurt less from my absence. It was more insulting than I cared to admit, originally. And then a girl I consider to be a daughter decided she wanted to date a man who had been put in Azkaban for killing a child. So there was that to contend with.

"And about a month ago, I asked her to sit down and talk, and it wasn't hard to agree that we needed to end it. She asked me to keep the kids, I was asked to return to Hogwarts, this time as Headmaster. So there's good, but a lot of bad."

He stepped away from the pensieve, pulling his sweater over his head and dropping it to the floor. That, he transfigured into a chair, which was set in front of the table. "Look at whichever you want. Or don't, equally. I sort of gave you the run-down, I know. Long-winded though it was, perhaps it was able to provide you with a bit of insight. I don't expect I'll ever know as much about you as you now may understand about me. But perhaps in knowing me, you can determine whether or not you can ask me for help. Because I think you're aware that I seriously could. And would, if given reason enough. But if you'd rather leave, let me know where to take you. You won't be able to apparate out, but I can drop you off near wherever it is you're staying. Or I can just take you back to Mum's."
Keiran Hayes
Keiran Hayes
Seventh Year Slytherin
Seventh Year Slytherin

Number of posts : 548
Occupation : Captain of the Slytherin Quidditch Team

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Post by Phaedra Rosier Thu Oct 20, 2016 2:02 am

[I assumed he stayed to supervise or something? if not I'll edit.]

The truth was Phaedra wasn’t quite convinced that any information he had to offer would be of significant benefit. Not at all, actually. If she, who’d been trained by Maxine and Gerardus Rosier, later Milo and Roberto de Medici, was at a loss, what could Aiden’s son possibly have to offer? So it wasn’t out of a desire to improve her own situation that she followed him. No, it was because the impossible had happened, and Phaedra was intrigued. But it was such an unfamiliar and unprecedented feeling that whether she herself fully recognized it was uncertain.

She was expecting an arm, especially after he’d already offered his hand to her and been ignored, but she got no such choice. Instead, a warm hand closed around hers and Phaedra was thrown- literally as well as figuratively- as they landed in another house. She barely had time to notice the evidence of children strewn around, the airy rooms, before she was being led quickly down the hall. She was so preoccupied with gaining her bearings that she didn’t pull her hand out of his. Also, she was thrown a little off-balance. But she couldn’t recall that she’d ever been disoriented by apparition.

She didn't follow him into the room immediately, pausing just over the threshold to assess the empty space. The reassuring weight of her wand in her hand and the wall parting to reveal a pensieve were enough to draw her in, in the end. She watched him carefully as he spoke, studying his expression for any slips- which came, of course. Evidently, he was a man who couldn't keep his feelings under wraps- something she wasn't sure elicited pity or a strange respect. Certainly bemusement.

Her eyes widened a fraction when he removed his jumper, throwing it to the floor. But the barely perceptible sign of confusion was quickly erased when it was transfigured in a chair, presumably for her use. She ran a hand over the top of it, as much to check the proficiency of his magic as to adjust its positioning.

She had to stifle her disbelief when he offered to take her back to his mother’s house. It was either that or an eyebrow raise- she gave in to the latter. After everything that had just happened between them, all the betrayal he'd obviously experienced- he just didn't learn, did he? But at least it proved he was no longer suspicious of her intentions towards his family.

She knew which memories she'd pick before he'd even finished speaking. She didn't say anything in response, simply turning to the pensieve to answer the last part of his speech. In the end there were six vials she chose. She didn't hesitate over the first three: Kiev, the murder, and his wife's infidelity. Why these? The reasoning was simple. To see the man, she wanted to see him at his most desperate, his most dangerous, and his most damaged. In the extremities of emotion, though she suspected she'd already seen him at his angriest, if not very close to that point. She wanted to see just what he was capable of when pushed to the limit- and what he wasn't.

The next three were chosen less deliberately, for comparison's sake: a Hogwarts one, picked at random, the one happy Christmas, and the divorce, simply by virtue of being most recent. She wasn't at all interested in how unlucky in love he was, nor in his marital joys and troubles. There was something intimate about looking into someone’s memories- especially ones as personal and obviously significant as these. She was extremely conscious of it, and the idea made her uncomfortable. It didn't sit right with her desire for distance, but he was offering her the chance to see him at his most vulnerable and she'd be a fool to pass it up, especially if she was going to trust him with her own problems. For her, what he was doing was unthinkable. Again, she couldn’t help but wonder what allowed him to trust to easily.

Finally, her hand hovered over one vial, dated Christmas of two years ago, for a fraction longer than the others. In the end, she pulled it back without picking up the only memory that could hold any sort of personal significance for her. Truthfully, though her expression betrayed nothing, she couldn't stomach it. She doubted he'd even believe it of her, but she wasn't nearly cold-hearted enough to remain unaffected faced with that.

Once she'd ordered the vials, she picked up the first, pouring it in with deliberation, careful not to lose any of the filmy liquid in an accidental spill or drip. She could only imagine how well that would go down. She looked to him before entering, giving him the chance to retract his offer. He'd given her an out, and so she returned the courtesy. After that, there was no hesitation between each scene. It didn't take as long as she expected, and once she'd emerged from the last memory, her eyes sought him out in the empty room.

The curious thing about Phaedra was this: she was startlingly- yes, even callously- careless in most of her relations with others. Polite, personable, even amicable when she had to be, but always uninterested, unreachable, eyes skimming over the details that made up the people around her. There were exceptions to this rule, of course. Her family, mainly. But in all other cases, she barely spared a second glance for even those she was obligated to have extended interactions with.

Once something truly caught her interest, however, it was subjected to her full scrutiny, accompanied by a suitably probing look. It was the same look Maxine had always had the ability to induce, the same one she’d fixed on Milo when she’d discovered his impressive proficiency at wandless magic, the one she always wore for anything concerning potions. A startling focus that was- depending on the person- unnerving or flattering, and rarer than Keiran would have any way of knowing. This gaze she now turned on him, the gimlet eye, discerning and unwavering, cogs creaking into infrequent but effective use.

Because ultimately, despite the idleness of the last four years, Phaedra was above all a potioneer. A remarkable one, at that. There were those who'd say- not without some scorn- that the subject was a simple one, primarily about following instructions and repeating worn rituals. But she knew, as Aiden had, as any potioneer worth their salt could attest, that more than anything it was about the details. The particular qualities of each substance, the way it interacted with others, and the nuances of those interactions. The small, barely noticeable effects just a drop of one thing could have on another. The minutiae that could make or break a potion. And a person, equally. It was this part of her that directed her appraisal of him.

She recognized the good in his life, of course: family, friendship, loyalty, success, love. But there was a thread that ran through it, and that thread was failure. For various reasons and in various forms- the failure to protect himself from exploitation, the failure to control his own life, the failure to save his father and later his friend, and, of course, the total disintegration of his marriage. That last one was perhaps the most surprising, yet not at all improbable, all things considered. What was surprising was that they'd persevered for so long. But then, love was unaccountable. Still, she couldn’t imagine her parents ever having reached a point where they decided they were better off apart. Before the fact, she couldn’t have imagined Bevan or Elisavetta ever being apart at all. As the only true example of love she’d seen in a marriage and the main barometer by which she measured marital bliss, she figured it was close enough to the institution as understood and practiced by the general population. At any rate, both certainly worked to reaffirm her belief that love had no place in choosing a partner. Not when it could go so wrong- as the man before her and the woman she'd so reluctantly left behind were evidence enough. In both cases, the fallout was disastrous.

At least her parents had also had something tying them together that wasn't as arbitrary as affection or as uncertain and temporary as that law had been. It wasn't beyond her that to take such a dangerous (foolish) leap of faith and jump into a partnership based on such a fragile thing with every intention of making it work, and to have it fail so spectacularly would be terribly painful. Having anything in which you’d invested considerable time and effort, made a key focus of your existence, only to have it all collapse around you, and then not even be able to honestly profess innocence of the disastrous consequences was… something too familiar to her. Something she thought she understood. What came out wasn't perhaps the best way of expressing that.

“Anger has always been a fantastic way of addressing failure.”

It wasn't, really. Not at all, as he must know. Sarcastic though they were, she was surprised at the sense behind her own words, unable to quite pinpoint when exactly she’d gained the capacity for such rational emotional insight. That too the willingness to even discuss such a topic with a near stranger. Not really a stranger anymore, she conceded.

However, she didn't doubt her evaluation of him. It wasn't exactly a criticism- her tone was neutral and voice modulated. It wasn’t a reprimand, or a reassurance, or anything so direct and sentimental. There was no judgement, though he might take it that way. It was simply an assessment, cloaked in irony.

Beyond that, she wasn’t about to offer a commentary on his life. She doubted he was looking for pity or comfort from her, and if he was, he'd chosen the wrong person. Did she pity him? A tricky word, that. She felt she understood him better, even respected him if only for his resilience. But the memories caused her no distress, aroused little compassion beyond the inevitable at seeing another human brought to their knees. Why would they?

But she did speak from experience- more than she'd care to admit. Phaedra had long since reached the stage of guilt where it became a quiet torment more than anything else. Where once she’d been filled with rage and resentment, now she’d become resigned to her own imperfection, her catastrophic shortcoming. It was a rather peaceful self-loathing. The knowledge-or at least strong suspicion- that part of her own misery was self-wrought, but the acceptance of it. It had grown familiar, like a heavy coat she’d shrugged on every morning for four years until she finally no longer resented its weight on her shoulders. She simply stomached the ache of it. But she’d had four long years. Keiran’s was fresher. And, of course, in the context of these recent revelations, it made sense that dredging up his father would only exacerbate the recent turmoil. She couldn't say she completely regretted it, though. In fact, considering everything he'd decided to throw at her she'd actually say that she'd held back, comparatively. She'd been nowhere near as harsh.

Still, the very fact of the words being spoken at all proved her interest had been piqued by the man in front of her. Enough to peer through the window of someone’s life, at least- something she didn’t do very often, if at all. The realization, when it came, would bemuse rather than disturb her, but of course she had yet to properly comprehend this strange development, or even notice it at all.

It didn’t even occur to her to tell him about Caspian. She seemed to know, unconsciously, that that was something entirely different to what he’d revealed to her. Keiran’s life was composed of betrayals and disappointments and failures, admittedly. By all accounts a tale of woe. But there was a recurring theme in his choices, and it was that none of them had fully occurred of his own volition. No matter what she suspected his own feelings were about his efforts, he didn't actually shoulder the blame for all that had gone wrong in his life. That much was clear to her. Beyond the small issue of trust, he couldn't actually claim full culpability. But for her... with what she'd done, and what she knew... to admit to that part of her was to admit to a-

Something she didn’t want to think about.

She did, however, speak again after a long pause and a split second decision. Matter-of-fact and detached, of course, because any alternative was unthinkable.

“They’re my uncle’s. The wards. Not mine or my mother’s, though of course not since we’re unable to bypass them. My father’s older brother- the eldest of the three. He never had children of his own, so he was never my grandfather's heir. He never cared much- or if he did, he didn't give any indication otherwise.” A small crease appeared between her brows as she frowned, only really comprehending the strangeness of the situation once she'd said it out loud. Of course he'd cared. She'd been naive to ever believe otherwise. That much was now apparent.

"When my... father died, that changed. He took control, and my mother was sick, the whole country in upheaval... we couldn't stay and fight, not then. My grandparents- a grandparent and a great-grandparent, technically- had also passed away. If they'd been alive, perhaps... But the rest of the family was estranged or abroad, and it was my call, in the end. So, Florence. For four years. Two weeks ago, I tried to return home but I wasn't able to get past the wards, and the goblins refused me access to the vault. I knew it was Eirion, but I don't think I believed he would ever go that far. I assumed it was temporary. I had... other concerns to attend to, that I couldn't without my old books. And then you were generous enough-" a wry, though unamused quirk of the lips "-to let me use your father's library. And now to offer help, evidently."

But she couldn't just leave it at that. Now that her curiosity had been aroused, she was more inclined to trying to understand the reasons behind his actions rather than just taking them at face value and only caring as far as it benefited her. If she was going to have to trust him, all the more so. Hence-

Phaedra Rosier
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Post by Keiran Hayes Sun Oct 23, 2016 7:09 am

It was one of the strangest things he had ever experienced - watching someone else watch his life. Not the whole of it or even the parts he would choose to tell others about in an attempt to represent himself. Sure, it was an accurate way of doing so, but he wouldn't have let himself.

He was shocked, too, to realize that he had expected more than what he ended up with. It was a naive thought - a wish, really - that he would be able to note some semblance of change within her. Behind her eyes, maybe, or in her posture or voice. But no. He didn't desire sympathy, in truth, but he had very stupidly expected it. So when she spoke, the correction hit him strongly and sharply enough that he didn't have time to show recognition of it. He just understood the fact, turning his mind and attention on what he would respond with.

His tone was just as bland and unmoved as hers.

"Perhaps. But it is quite an accessible outlet." He glanced away, towards a window he had never stopped to look out of. Now, he practically stared, absorbing it in order to hold back his disappointment in her response. "It is incredibly easy to find, I'll admit."

He didn't look at her when she spoke, but he was clearly listening. Dark eyebrows pulled together over an even darker gaze, and he continued to look out to his backyard until she mentioned her father. Then his chin turned slightly towards her, his eyes on the ground. Sitting in a chair he had gone to search for whilst she was deep within the dregs of his memories, it was easy to keep his body turned slightly away, protective against her judgements. But the question wasn't one he could ignore once it fell and silence reigned.

His arm, draped across the cold, wooden back of the chair as it was, remained still even as his hand gestured vaguely, as if to say he needed a moment to properly word his answer. And although he did lift his gaze, it wasn't so that he could meet hers. Rather, he continued to look elsewhere for the time being.

"You may think me rather naive," he determined after a moment. "I've seen the absolute worst come out of people, including myself, and yet I offered you help before I really knew the circumstances. I'm not saying I wouldn't have taken it back, of course, but you make a fair point."

Merlin, that was unpleasant to say. That she was - dare he think the word? - right.

"Generous isn't the word I would use, though."

His eyes did dart back to hers, then, a guilty look flicking behind his eyes that hinted at a level of self-hatred that he hadn't dared show anyone who actually cared about him. His attention fell away from her as he tried to reconcile with himself the fact that he was going to share his truth with someone besides Millie.

"We are... the weakest.. when we feel the most angry. We feel like a victim, like we've been insulted or taken advantage of. Because of that.. we put up walls. Now, me? I.. have always been very good at packaging pieces of myself away. Someone needs me to be a professor one day? Excellent. That requires control, intelligence in the given area, and - on some level - intimidation. Enough to make sure the students do as they're expected. I can do that. If I'm meant to be the doting, romantic husband, I can be that, too. It's like the memory showed, as well. I thought my ma needed someone to be strong, and I thought that Melissa would expect me to be, because she had already gone through losing her father at a much younger age. And she made the wrong decision in response to it; she knows that. But I wasn't supposed to. I was the adult, between the two of us. Or I was meant to be. ...So I took care of it."

He swallowed hard, wanting to get up and move to that window to feel like he had a bit more space to breathe. But he stayed put, knowing that it wouldn't actually help in the end.

"My parents were - are - wonderful. But I grew up under the assumption that I was wonderful as well, and life has proven otherwise. I was an absolute nightmare in school, I imagine, and in my later years my repeated failures made that clear enough that I learned how to correct it. I learned to fit a situation as needed."

It was then that his ankle fell from atop his knee and he turned to face her dead-on, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees instead. Perhaps surprisingly, his tone remained as casually self-depricating as it had been before.

"My father would have loved the idea of someone using his work, his texts, anything. I didn't follow that path, so I felt an innate obligation to open that up once someone requested it. And you, though I know even as I'm speaking that I shouldn't say this, but you are absolutely infuriating. Did you know that? I wouldn't normally say such things, just as I wouldn't normally let myself fight with a stranger. Acquaintance. Whatever you are. It was different to fight with Melissa, because we both knew boundaries. She knew what would cut deep and so did I, and we knew better than to hit those marks unless something was horribly wrong. I have no idea if anything pains you because you don't react to anything at all. I don't pretend to think that I'll get anything out of helping you, or that you'll be so much as grateful - because even now, after you've seen practically every part of me as no one else has, you're stone-faced and uninterested.

"So you could say I'm helping because I know that my father would have. Or because one of the boxes I can fit myself into sometimes is that of a good man. Or at least a decent one. A man who assists when he can - because, if he can, then he should. Or perhaps I want to see if you even care once it's fixed, once success comes. You can pick whichever of those makes you feel the best, but I'm not taking the offer back. And you may not expect it of me, but I know the perfect hero figure to come in help us, as - I assure you, I am not even close to being one of those."
Keiran Hayes
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Post by Phaedra Rosier Mon Oct 24, 2016 12:37 am

It was asking too much, really. To have someone so directly spill their guts and then expect her to maintain that same distance, the cold formality. It was different from the memories- which, personal though they were, were clinical in a way, removed if only by time. But this? This was raw honesty, a man candidly picking himself apart and Phaedra was really, truly thrown for the first time that evening. Thrown, in that she knew none of her previous responses were going to cut it, this time. He was determined to squeeze a show of- of something out of her, and her first instinct was to run, as always, before ever loosening her grip on the mask she’d grown into.

She didn’t know what she’d been expecting, but the resignation in his response to her comment made her feel guilty, and the guilt in his eyes when they met hers…

She shouldn’t have been surprised, really. After his track record with trust, why shouldn’t he expose himself to a stranger so completely? She had started off watching him carefully, but then he was addressing her and despite her efforts she too was avoiding his gaze, the discomfort evident on her face as she struggled with herself, rolling her lips inwards and turning his words- and her next- over in her head. Trying her best not to package them in pretty wrapping, in a way that made them easier and therefore less effective to say. There was a long pause before she spoke, and when she did it was quiet, lacking the usual steel or certainty but still remarkably unruffled, all things considered.

“I'm not. Uninterested, that is. But 'stone-faced’ I suppose is a valid criticism.”

Her instinct was to not offer any explanations or apologies for that part of her, the protective casing she’d always held so tight. But he’d opened himself up to her, and couldn’t she try? For a little understanding, a little… sympathy? Not for the first time, she was painfully aware that her usual reserve wasn’t going to cut it here; she’d have to tailor her approach to something less restrained, less composed and more… human, really. It was the least she could do. And she’d already let it slip in anger, after all. So it was maybe a little too late to be holding on to stale pretenses with so much already exchanged between them.

“When you’re raised in the circles I was, it’s an advantage more than a shortcoming. Your mother can certify that, I’m sure. It’s not a world that is… receptive to displays of emotion. Not a world where you can afford sympathy. Or pain, really. But, if you’re wondering whether you hit the mark earlier- rest assured, you did. I don’t think I’ve ever been so directly insulted in my life. Though I can’t say I’m sorry for not giving you the reaction you were looking for. As for infuriating... I may have had an inkling.”

The accompanying eyebrow raise wasn’t disapproving or condemnatory. In another situation it would have been teasing. Now, however, it was more a reflex than anything else, something to temper her words. She had the most absurd urge to reach out and take his hand again. Not to apparate or anything like that, just to offer reassurance through human touch rather than trying to find words that would inevitably fall short.

And that thought- that right there- was precisely why distance and disinterest were infinitely preferable to… this. There was no accounting for what could happen if the walls came down. But they were, weren’t they? Tumbling down- or perhaps they already had and she’d simply kept her eyes closed against it, only feeling secure enough to open them once it became clear that his were down too. It was painful in a way, to peel back her skin and try to let him peer in as he had her. The effort was excruciating, like fighting a current that she’d spent a lifetime cultivating. But tempted as she was to focus her attention on her hands instead, clasped tightly in her lap, she kept her clear green eyes trained on him.

“If you can believe it of me, I’m scared. My mother is recovered, now, but weak- not strong enough to consider joining me here for a long time, and her family is… quite frankly, a little terrifying. I suppose you’d say callous. Which is apt, really, considering I have spent 4 years in their company.

“But you were wrong about my upbringing. My parents weren’t so…” Her concentration wavered at the memory and she found herself studying the wall behind him, instead. She gave the most uncharacteristic of movements, a shrug, as though inviting him to fill in the description. “They never held back. But my grandmother helped raise me, and she was formidable. She was everything I ever wanted to be. Everything you’d say a person shouldn’t aspire to, probably. But she was strong, and it’s a form of strength that has proven very effective over the years. Which might be hard for you to understand, but anything else is a weakness, and I… You’re the first person who isn’t family to offer any sort of help or kindness and I don’t know how…”

But she did. She could pretend she didn’t, but there was a part of herself she’d hidden away after the people who’d once brought it out had departed. Apart from with her mother, it was non-existent. The part that was soft, understanding, warm…even kind. That Keiran was slowly reeling out, despite all her efforts to the contrary and her utter terror at its emergence. That her mother had cultivated in her and her grandmother had taught her to quash in all but the most extenuating circumstances. A part that knew how to show gratitude and compassion, if only to a select few.

After a few seconds of thought, she got up neatly, hesitating to smooth her robes, her eyes dropping to the ground almost uncertainly. Then, with a deep breath and an almost prideful toss of her hair she crossed the distance to his chair and a steady, far too vulnerable hand presented itself to him and she had to swallow her panic at the sight of it, knowing even as she did it that he had every right to refuse as she’d done his. But she was reasonable and gracious enough to hold out the proverbial olive branch to someone she’d evidently wronged. Even if he’d wronged her in turn, even if it might be too late to reach an understanding beyond a shaky truce.

“Thank you.”

There was no pretense, no artifice, no roundabout phrasing. Only two simple words and the meaning behind them. Of course, he had no way of knowing how rarely they were spoken and how many years it had been since the last time- at least in this language. Still, the guilt she’d glimpsed in his eyes haunted her and she felt the need to say something more, less for her benefit than for his, inexplicably- or perhaps not. She more than anyone knew that feeling, and no one deserved to experience it through no real fault of their own. And it alarmed her, because she’d decided from the start not to display sympathy or anything approaching it to Keiran. If he’d held back, if he’d just given her a bland, rational reason or brushed the question off with some clever words then she could have left it at that and pretended she hadn’t seen him at his most vulnerable and it hadn’t pulled at something in her that she’d spent her whole life burying. But it had, so she reneged on all her promises to herself and spoke more softly than she’d ever dreamed of speaking to a stranger who had- yes- hurt her as he had.

“If it’s any consolation, coming from… an acquaintance who’s already seen your worst and has no cause to lie… They aren't your fault. The failures you hold against yourself. Not entirely, anyway. But trust isn't a failure. You did your best, which is admirable, and that goes for your marriage and your father, too. I know what it is to fit into the spaces people assign you and still fall short. To fail- feel you've failed- yourself... and those you love.”

Her eyes, free of the earlier ice, sought his. Wide, unsure, yet more genuine than she’d ever imagined she could be with a person who didn't share her blood. But she didn’t have to think about her words once she’d decided to be sincere, strangely enough.

“It’s easy to compartmentalize. But if I’m to trust you, I... I’d rather honesty than a box, in all… well- honesty.”
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Post by Keiran Hayes Mon Oct 24, 2016 11:21 pm

"We stopped searching for monsters under our bed
when we realized they were inside us."

When she stood, Keiran frowned. He very nearly stood to match her, but he was actually expecting her to leave, on some level. Because perhaps she had said her piece and that it was more than she genuinely wanted to deal with. He had flinched, sure, when she pointed out just how strongly he had affected her. To say that no one else had ever been more offensive to her... Well. It was a title that he deeply regretted ever managing to claim.

He genuinely did want to be a good person, to be a good example for his children and everything else. Being informed that he had done something so negative, instead, was problematic in that sense.

So when she moved and stood in front of him, he just stared at her. That is, until she offered a hand, clearly waiting for him to react. It took him a second. A blink and her thanks. And then he dropped his gaze, but stood. This time, he most certainly kept his distance, uninterested in crossing that line again. But he swallowed once, hard, before looking back at her and taking her hand in his own.

"Don't thank me until your problem is solved," he warned gently.

He wanted to retract his hand, but didn't want to seem like he was being falsely accepting of her attempted mending of the situation. But he did draw back and finally cross to that window, because even though he wanted to believe her - and on some level he really, truly did agree - he couldn't look at her while she tried to make it okay.

Yes, he firmly blamed Millie for most of what had gone wrong. He wanted to blame her for all of it. But he knew better, and part of being good and genuine meant accepting that fact. But Phaedra was giving him an out and he didn't want to take it yet. He didn't feel that he had, to any extent, repented or made up for what he had done. And he wasn't at all a religious man, but he did have to believe that his father was at peace, so the uncertainty was well enough to give him pause.

He turned, though, looking over his shoulder almost suddenly as she turned her assessment back upon herself. He didn't mean to, and his expression had been blatantly, forcedly empty up until then, but his eyebrows drew together in something between sympathy and hope. Hope, mind, that he really wasn't alone in that limbo between feeling lost... and understanding that fate had taken its toll.

Her request, veiled though it was, didn't surprise him. It was similar to how Millie had said it, though he would have been willing to admit that this entreaty struck him more strongly. The circumstances for Millie's attempt had been horrid, because of his father, and it had apparently never set in.

Keiran wanted to crack a smile. His eyes probably conveyed that. But his lips only moved in order to respond, quiet and almost - almost - amused.

"I wouldn't worry about that, Ms. Rosier. I've never done that around you. Not since I agreed to let you see that book."

He glanced outside again, his lips thinning into a line. But then the urge to change the subject caught up to him and a certain level of desperation to do so made his pulse jump. He turned fully that time, facing her and leaning back against the wall as he crossed his arms over his chest. The action, strangely, was a casual one rather than protective, as it usually was for him.

"I'll go ahead and write to my friend, then, if you'd like? In truth, he's a great deal more... Well. He'll take some convincing, I'd wager. I would advise that you play the damsel much more than you clearly are. He's a gullible lad if he believes he can help someone, and he won't do a thing for us if he thinks it's morally questionable. In his words, mind you."

Keiran shrugged, holding his hands up vaguely. "He's a piece of work, honestly. But there isn't anyone else I would suggest for something like this. I'm sure he'll make it clear why if we can convince him. But for now," he continued, taking a few steps towards her to close up some of the distance between them, "perhaps I ought to take you home. I'll need to pick up my kids, soon, as they live with me now. But I can let you know when I hear back from him. And you can, of course, let me know if you need the library again. But you'll have a hell of a time apparating out of here. So.. where do you need to go?"
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Post by Phaedra Rosier Tue Oct 25, 2016 11:58 pm

She picked up on the shift in his expression when she referred to herself and it discomfited her a little, even if she hadn’t been planning to elaborate. It was only then, with that little slip having caught his attention, that she fully realized it was the closest she’d come to an admission of anything close to guilt in the last four years. To another person, at least. The surprise was enough to keep her from displaying anything in her expression that might feed or quash the hopeful look in his eyes.

And when he replied- was that a note of amusement? Phaedra couldn’t tell but it didn’t matter, in the end, because his words alone were sufficient. She simply gave a nod in response. His gaze drifted again and she didn’t look at him either, turning her attention to the table instead and the memories that hadn’t been put away yet. Though she didn’t give any indication of it she noticed- perhaps a little too keenly- when he turned to look at her again.

As he spoke she busied herself with checking the vials and returning them to their places in the ordered rack behind the pensieve. She was listening closely to his description of his friend, of course, knowing before he’d finished that she’d accept because what else could she do, really? She nodded silently, waiting for his explanation to finish to add the verbal confirmation that yes, he could contact his friend and yes, she could play the damsel-in-distress if that was what it would take. But perhaps she shouldn’t have devoted such a large portion of her attention to him because when he made his next offer, closer to her now, it was all she could do not to freeze.

She couldn’t quite keep her movements smooth enough though and the vial she was holding- a Christmas memory- almost slipped out of her hand. Did, for half a second. Eyes widening in alarm, a quick, instinctive spurt of magic was all that allowed it to bounce up- not nearly enough to find its own place among the others, but enough for her to catch it without the glass shattering. She released a breath she hadn’t even realized she’d been holding, staring down at it as though to confirm it was still intact, not looking at Keiran immediately.

He was asking- or assuming- of her the same level of trust he was willing to grant an… acquaintance, but for all her assurances Phaedra couldn’t find it in her to reciprocate what he seemed to give so easily. A quick glance at the window and the smear of flaming orange-pink across the sky indicated that it was later than would make ‘Diagon Alley’ a plausible answer. Or perhaps that was just her own paranoia speaking. He wouldn’t care about the shops being closed because it was none of his business. Even if he did, there was nothing that said she had to give him any further information.

But it wasn’t even completely about trust, really. It was about retaining some semblance of control over at least one part of her life, no matter how unimportant. She’d been carted around by side-along apparition enough today and she didn’t fancy repeating it to get home and then have to explain that, too. Not home, of course.

“Your mother’s house. I… left my cape.” It was a feeble excuse, really. The small piece of material was a flimsy excuse for outerwear and wasn’t at all necessary given the balmy dredges of summer weather they were still enjoying. It was, admittedly, more to pull her outfit together than for any practical reason. That isn’t to say she was happy to lose it- the earring-cum-glass still in Bridget’s house was too recent a memory to be abandoning any more possessions- but she certainly didn’t need it to go home. Not enough to get him to apparate her back there to get it without appearing far prissier and more finicky than she really was, than she ever really wanted to be thought.

It was an excuse, though. And then, once at Bridget’s, she could take herself home and not have to suffer yet another indignity that day. Because The Leaky Cauldron were three words she wasn’t going to say. No way. Not a chance in hell.
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