I Pray You Learn to Trust
March 7, 2005 8:11 PM
It had maybe been a week. She'd stayed totally away from him.
Astoria was crawling the walls, crawling in her own skin. She was not sleeping right. She'd had two blankouts that she knew of. Thankfully she'd been in Stygion. She'd dreamed a conversation with Draco then tried to continue it with him when they'd had lunch. It was a sad thing when Draco looked worried about someone he was not even certain he liked.
So she disguised herself and went into the bar. Just to see. She wouldn't speak. She'd just keep her hood up. Astoria had even charmed her hair black. She sat in the back, but with a decent view of the bar.
He had ignored the hooded witch at first, figuring her for some society matron looking for a bit of roughness. But something about her kept drawing his attention. The way she sat, maybe. The fact that she didn't drink from the glass of ale in front of her.
He tilted his head at her, silently asking Tru if she knew anything. The dark-haired witch shook her head in response.
Her hands were shaky. Astoria did not know how she got into this fix. Him leaving had not affected her when she was a girl. It was just worse now. She'd spoken to him, she'd watched him again. It was more difficult to forget, to ignore.
When she had slept, her dreams were of the past. Death Eaters and Dark Marks in the sky. She searched the gatherings for him, but never pulled off a mask that had his face behind it. She always awoke feeling frustrated that she could not find him.
Marcus poured a new glass of ale and moved around the bar. He didn't usually serve the customers at the tables, but something about the woman...
He set the glass on the table, making her jump, but she didn't raise her face to him, instead keeping it hidden under her hood. He frowned down at her slumped figure as she reached for the glass, her sleeve falling back a bit to reveal a familiar series of welts.
"Oh, for fuck's sake," he snapped as he threw himself into the chair opposite of her. The odds of another witch who liked to play with Devil's Snare coming into his bar were just too high.
"This is your answer? Lurking in a corner?"
Astoria threw back the hood to reveal the twitching mess she was. Sunken eyes, sallow skin. She was taking hag to a new level. With him sitting so close, she begin fidgeting and could not stop.
"I tried. It's not... just let me sit here. It's loud outside, so loud. Just let me rest."
She was trying not to sound like a crazy person, but Astoria was pretty sure she was failing.
He was taken aback by her appearance. She looked more like her sister than herself at the moment. Daphne had never cared for appearance.
He wasn't worried about her. He'd need to care about her in order to worry.
Somehow, his own mental protests were sounding weak to him.
"I was waiting for you to come around to tell you my decision." He waited a beat to make sure that she was focused on him. "I'm not going to insist that you stay away. You can come into the bar, follow me around, within reason. No popping into my flat in the middle of the night. When I tell you to leave, you do it. No arguments. And no touching."
She couldn't agree to all of that. She could for now, yes, but she had meant what she told him. One day she was going to get her hands on him.
"Yes, yes. All right," she said flippantly as her eyes surveyed the other people in the bar. She was so distracted that she could not even focus on him. Which was a shame because he was such a lovely thing to focus on.
"Come sit at the bar," he told her, rising from his seat. "And for Slytherin's sake, fix your hair. The black doesn't suit you."
He went back to the bar, aware of her trailing behind him. Tru raised a brow at him, but didn't say a word as she took a new tray of drinks for delivery. Tru knew when words were not needed.
He poured Greengrass a glass of water, cooling it with his wand, and set it in front of her.
Astoria took the glass in both hands and concentrated on tuning all the ambient thoughts from her gift. She was not a mind reader, but drinking tended to make emotions run high and when they did, she picked up on them more easily. She took a sip of the water. Her hands were shaking a little still, so she sloshed some on the bar. It had been a bad couple of days. Things were so loud. She was not grounded at all.
Marcus kept an eye on her as he served drinks. She really did look like death warmed over, and still had not fixed her hair. Once everyone had a drink, he pulled a packet of peanuts from under the bar and tossed them in front of her.
"Eat those before you fall over."
"I'm not hungry," she snapped, shoving them away. "I just want to rest, is all. Just let me sit here. So loud. Everything is so loud today."
Panic started to set in. She could feel herself falling away. It was as if she were trapped in her own body. She could not make it stop. She was here with him near. She should be able to stop it.
He didn't know how to help her, so he left her alone. Marcus moved down the bar slightly and did his job, serving drinks and keeping the customers at least partially happy. If he were lucky, no fights would break out that night.
Astoria just stayed where she was and tried to will herself into a state of calm, back to the present. She was eleven and talking to him again. She even reached up and pulled on her own hair like she used to. Astoria had often twirled a braid around her finger when she talked. She began muttering to herself about sowing oats.
Marcus kept a wary eye on her as she seemed to crawl in to herself. She was playing with her unnaturally black hair and rocking slightly as she muttered. He started wondering if he was going to have to call Mungos.
She was telling herself over and over to shake it off.
That was not working, so Astoria tried to smash her glass against the bar. It must have had an unbreakable charm on it because all she succeeded in doing was getting water everywhere. So she took out her wand and tapped a stinging hex into the palm of her own hand. Astoria cradled her hand to her chest as the whispering suddenly stopped and the bar spun into sharp focus for her. She breathed in heavily. That had been a close one.
He came back to her and silently cleaned up the spilled water before setting a new glass in front of her. This one held a finger of fire whiskey.
"You going to be OK?"
"Yes," she said. The repeated it more firmly. "Yes."
She drank the liquid and felt it burn all the way down. She had nearly went away again. She needed to get a hold of herself and quickly. His hands were resting on the bar. She took one gloved finger and slid it towards his hand but did not touch him. Though you could have only fit a hair between their fingers.
He grunted, not at all sure that he believed her. Not that he would be able to do anything about it if she were lying.
He kept his hand where it was, eyeing the tiny space between her fingers and his. She was still wearing her gloves, so even if she did touch him, she wouldn't get anything.
Astoria eyed him. The hand still cradled to her chest was throbbing and the pain kept her sharp. The other hand was resting on the bar. Astoria tapped her finger around Marcus', but she never touched him. Her eyes darted to his face every so often. He was not giving anything away, though. She still felt shaky, but being right here with him was helping to clear her head.
It was terrible that her denial of her desires made her so dysfunctional.
Tru came up to the bar and eyed them, before smirking and turning away. He had no doubt that she'd tease him later about how Greengrass was not his girlfriend. That the whole bar would smirk and gossip about the two of them.
"When you say no touching," she began, her finger still tapping all around his. "Did you mean at all or skin? Because with as guarded as you are, I can't do much damage with these gloves on."
"I would prefer not at all," he told her. "I don't like being touched." But he did not draw away when her finger finally touched his.
"I think maybe you haven't been touched by the right people. I rather like it. Human contact is very grounding, very real."
Astoria rubbed her covered finger against his slightly. She was a terribly impatient person. She always had been, but she could see she would just have to be patient with Marcus. She did want part of him. She just didn't know if she could stop at one part. Astoria wanted him to want things. He'd never wanted anything for himself, and she wanted him to experience that.
He pulled away after a moment, stepping down to the other end of the bar to refill empty glasses. He needed a moment away from her. Away from her touch.
Broughton was propping up the end of the bar, as usual, and smirked at him. He really was going to have to stop serving the old sot.
Astoria watched him with an unwavering gaze. Every moment of it seemed to ground her more. There was still a nagging voice, but she was more clear now. The pain in her hand kept her clear. Being able to watch was comforting. It was a pattern. She would get back to this pattern then work on moving forward.
He was aware of her silently watching him as he went about his business. He'd said that was acceptable, but had expected it to feel more disturbing. It didn't. In fact, it felt almost natural. And that disturbed him.
"You want something to drink," he asked after his skin stopped crawling from being touched.
"Not my first choice, but I suppose I'll take what I can get from you."
His look told her what he thought of that remark. Well, he'd best get used to it. She was off her game tonight because of her episode, but once she was at full strength, he had better watch it. She was going to get her hands on him, show him all about good touches.
He refilled her whiskey and her water, once again using his wand to chill the water. He placed both in front of her and once again stood silently across from her. He wasn't good with words. He didn't know what to say.
Him being so hovering was an improvement. Not that he was actually hovering, but he was hovering for Marcus Flint.
"I'm not going to flip out again if that's what you are worried about. The lapse passed, and I should be clear until the next one hits. Probably the dreams too. I've been having awful nightmares about the Dark Mark and Death Eaters."
He snorted. "So, you've somehow turned into a normal witch? There's plenty of people who still have nightmares about the Death Eaters. We weren't exactly known for puppies and kittens."
She leaned towards him. "My nightmares are a little different. They're like my prophesies. They usually mean something. I just have to figure out what. Did you know I dreamt about Dumbledore falling through the sky the whole summer before my fourth year? And what happened after the killing curse hit him? He fell to the ground. I dreamt about Draco fingerpainting with blood before he sliced up his arm trying to remove a magical tattoo. It means something. It always does."
"Voldemort's not coming back," he stated. His hand sought out his own Mark and he absently rubbed along the top of the inked skull. He hadn't known that Malfoy had tried to cut his Mark off. It was the kind of stupid thing the blighter would do, though.
"He's dead and gone. His body burned and the ashes scattered. He's not coming back."
"I didn't say he was. Perhaps I'm just having nightmares like a regular person. Perhaps not. I won't know until something happens."
She sighed loudly.
"Very useful, my dreams," she said sarcastically.
"I assume you have normal dreams as well. You have to, right? I would chalk those up as run of the mill nightmares."
"I can't remember the last time I dreamt something that was not some sort of portent or omen. What I wouldn't give at times for a dream where I am naked in potions class without my homework. I envy people who dream such dreams."
"You want to dream of being naked with Snape?" He gave an exaggerated shudder. Snape was one of those people that you never wanted to think about that way. Right up there with Mad-Eye Moody and Professor McGonagall.
He wondered at the fact that he was teasing her. And if she would even realize it. He didn't tease people. He definitely did not tease people in order to make them feel better.
"No, not with Snape." Astoria paused dramatically. "The whole class."
"Kinky," he said, tone dry. He moved away to serve those at the bar once again, and to absolutely not
think about what Rosenberg said about Greengrass's kinks.
When he came back, he pushed the pack of peanuts towards her again.
Astoria sighed and snatched them. She tried to maneuver the package with gloves, but it was proving difficult. He finally snatched them back, opened them the gave them to her again. Astoria made sure her hand touched his as she took them back and popped one in her mouth.
They tasted like dirt. She wondered how old the things were.
"We don't keep food here," he told her, responding to her look of distaste. "You're lucky I found peanuts."
He watched her eat a few more of the nuts before turning away to clean the glasses that Tru dropped off.
Astoria set a peanut on the bar and thumbed it hard with her finger in Marcus' direction. She was rewarded with a direct hit to his arse.
Marcus turned to look at her and saw the too innocent expression on Greengrass's face. He growled in annoyance and decided to ignore her.
Astoria lined up several more peanuts and sent them whizzing in his direction with her finger. The was a much better use of them. He was specifically ignoring her, and that irritated her right now. When one got him in the back of the neck, he turned to her with a dark look.
"Quit," he snarled, snatching up the rest of the pack and tossing them towards the rubbish bin. If the sodding bitch wasn't going to eat them, then my Merlin's balls she was not going to keep tossing them at him.
"If you're going to act like a brat, then go bother Malfoy."
"Don't purposely ignore me, and I won't get bratty. And I already have bothered Draco. He's oddly not as much fun as he used to be. All serious now. We lunched at Belladonna's on Thursday."
Ignoring her was better than the other options, though. Kept him safe. Kept her safe.
"I said you could hang around, not that I would talk to you."
"You're so frustrating. You were purposefully not looking at me when I know you want to look at me, just as I look at you."
He growled in annoyance. Again. How did she not understand? Wasn't she supposed to be a Seer? That he couldn't admit to wanting her around, wanting to look at her? That even having her about was dangerous for the both of them?
He turned deliberately away again.
"Must I cause a scene?"
He ignored her. Astoria calmly removed her shoe and tossed it at him. Didn't he realize she flourished under his attention?
Marcus felt the object connect with his back and twisted to look down at it. A shoe. Her shoe. The stupid, bloody bint.
He stomped over to her and got in her face, using his larger bulk the best way he knew how. To intimidate.
"Do that again," he hissed. "And I will take you over my fucking knee and spank you until you howl."
Astoria didn't take her eyes from his. She let out a shaking breath as she felt her face flush from excitement. She reached for her other shoe with a fumbling hand.
He caught her wrist before she could throw the shoe at him, squeezing until she let the damned thing go. She'd be bruised from his grip and he belatedly remembered that she probably wanted that. And that he wasn't supposed to touch her.
He released her wrist and looked out over the bar. Everyone was warily watching the two of them. Expecting what, he did not know. This was not the place to fight, though.
"Walk me out?" she whispered, voice low.
If she didn't leave, she'd be arrested for public indecency. They probably both would. She was feeling so much better now that he'd voluntarily touched her. Sure, he'd wanted to thrash her, but she'd have bruises on her wrist she could look at and be reminded of him with.
He had a feeling that she'd throw an absolute fit if he didn't walk her out. So he gave a terse nod and walked to the door, expecting her to follow. Tru nodded as he went by her, indicating that she could cover the place for a few minutes.
He stopped just outside the door and turned to look at her, frown firmly in place.
"Oh don't frown at me so, Marcus. It's a terribly attractive look for you. I could be tempted. Thank you for grounding me again. I feel much more myself just after being near you tonight."
She lurched towards him, but stopped herself from actually touching him at all. She blew air on his face.
Marcus stepped back away from her and grunted in response. No doubt she'd show up again the next day. That was if she wasn't at his flat when he got home. He wouldn't put it past her.