March2, 2005 3:17 PM
Marcus served Broughton a drink. It was early for Broughton to be in, but of course, it was also early for Marcus to be working. He'd switched off with Graham for the night, as repayment for trading earlier in the week. When he'd been avoiding Greengrass.
The door opened, flooding the bar with sunlight. It was unusual for such bright light to make it all the way into the back reaches of Knockturn Alley and all the patrons flinched away from the light.
He almost groaned as the girl skipped in, letting the door swing shut behind her. Malfoy's slayer, Pevensie.
"Hi, Marcus," Pevensie said as she hopped up onto a bar stool. "I like that shirt on you."
She'd come shopping with Rona and Chao-Ahn and a few of the other girls. They were supposed to be after books. The older slayers knew what she was doing and would cover for her. Vi had not come along today. She'd not have agreed with this. Chao-Ahn had even loaned Pevensie some lip gloss.
"How have you been?"
Even though she felt totally dumb, she flipped her hair. Rona had told her to do that.
Marcus frowned at the girl, confused as to why she had mentioned his shirt. It was just a shirt. He hadn't tried to dress nicely. There was no point to it, not when it would likely end up covered in blood and ale anyway.
"What are you doing here?"
"I came in to say hi. I can do that."
She smiled at him. She half hoped he got in a fight. He was a good fighter. She liked that about him. She could help, and that might impress him. She had already figured out that he appreciated strength. Well, she had that.
Marcus refilled Broughton, who was snickering into his booze.
"You said hi," he pointed out. "Should I expect Malfoy to come in hexing now?"
"No. I'm shopping with friends. He doesn't know I'm here." Pevensie fidgeted. "I got my arm broken. By a vampire, but it's already healed, and he's dead. Well, deader. Draco set him on fire. I removed the cast myself. Pealed it like an orange."
"Are you even old enough to be fighting vampires?" He knew she was a slayer, magically endowed to fight. But she was still just a kid. Shouldn't she be playing with dolls are some crap?
"Yeah. I'm getting better at it too. Oh! You should come on patrol with me and Draco. You could see me slay stuff. It would be great. Or maybe we could persuade Draco to just let us go. I'm sure you could do a good job of watching my back."
He eyed her, aware of Broughton choking on his rot gut whiskey a few stools over. The man was obviously not pickled enough.
"Why would I want to do that? Malfoy and I are not friends. I have no desire to muck about with him. Or fight vampires, for that matter." Not that he had any love for the damned things. He'd had to make nice with a few when Voldemort was about, and that was more interaction than he wanted.
"You wouldn't be fighting. You'd be watching me fight, and like I said, we could leave Draco at home. It could just be us."
The guy at the end of the bar was choking again. It sounded suspiciously like laughter.
Marcus cast Broughton a glance, to make sure the old sot wasn't going to die from the rot gut he swizzled. Broughton had a hand over his mouth and his face was red, but he seemed to be breathing fine. Which was good.
"Isn't it Malfoy's job to follow you around and watch you fight?" Why would she want someone else trailing her? Did she not trust Malfoy to keep her safe or something? He didn't like Malfoy, hadn't since his father had bought his way onto the Slytherin Quidditch team, but he was a Slytherin. He'd protect the kid just fine.
"Yes, but a slayer isn't always followed. Sometimes she patrols with others, other slayers. I think it might be nice. We could... talk or something. You know, hang out. Just us."
He frowned in confusion. The kid made absolutely no sense.
"I don't 'hang out'," he told her. Broughton finally seemed to have gotten over his coughing fit, but was oddly not shaking his glass for a refill.
"Well, maybe if you did, you'd have more friends. What do you do when you're not here?"
This had to be the strangest conversation he'd ever had. Stranger even than one with Greengrass.
"Other stuff." He couldn't exactly tell her that he wrote Ministry reports and gathered information on dark witches and wizards. He also couldn't tell her that he thought obsessively over Greengrass and what her skin felt like.
"Don't you have any hobbies? I mean, other than cracking skulls. Not that skull-cracking isn't a fine hobby to have. But what do you like to do?"
Broughton was snorting now and Marcus sent a glance in his direction. This time the sot did hold up his glass for a refill, and his mouth trembled in a strange way. If Marcus didn't know better, he'd think the old bastard was trying not to laugh.
And why was the little slayer asking about his bloody hobbies?
"Things that are not appropriate for little girls to know about."
"Is it sex stuff? Because I do know some things, you know."
The guy at the end of the bar spit and sprayed his drink.
"Issues much? So is it sex? Sex is your hobby? I think sex is Draco's friend Blaise's hobby too. You probably know him. He's a Slyther-person. Draco said you were too, and that's why I needed to stay away, but I think he's just being all possessive and stuff. I can have friends."
Marcus scratched his left arm, right below the elbow. The Mark had been itchy lately and he thought that he had managed to find an early mosquito.
"Sex probably is Zabini's hobby. And it's Slytherin
. Why the hell do you want to know what my hobbies are?"
"Because I'm interested. Can't I be interested?"
The guy started choking again. Pevensie walked down and clapped him lightly on the back.
"If you're having this many issues already, sir, maybe you shouldn't be drinking."
Broughton gave her a wink and tossed back his rot gut. "Just watching the oaf fumble around, Poppet. Think you might need to be a little more blunt with this one."
Marcus frowned at him. "And I think that you might need to be cut off, old man."
Pevensie ignored Flint.
"But that's not what the other girls said to do," she whispered. "And you smell like old cheese."
"Our man Flint isn't like other blokes, Poppet. 'E needs to be hit over the head to get a point across. I'm here every day, near enough, and there's plenty of bit-- Er, bints, that try the same thing. Only one 'e's paid a bit of attention to was the one who almost crawled across the bar to get to him."
Marcus frowned at the old sot. "What the bloody hell are you talking about, Broughton?"
"Not a thing," the man replied with a snort as he held his glass out for a refill.
"Broughton then?" Pevensie held out a hand. "Pevensie Karlsen, Mr. Broughton. Pleased to meet you. She crawled across the bar?"
"All but." Broughton gave her hand a pump. "She's the one he almost killed Castleberry over. Just because the bloke looked at her."
"Bloody hell," Marcus muttered and stomped away. He was fucking tired of everyone fucking gossiping about him and Greengrass.
Pevensie kept an eye on Marcus.
"What's her name?" she asked Broughton.
Pevensie made a huffing sound and stalked over to Marcus.
"Her? Tori Greengrass? Really? You don't think she's a little... weird and spooky? And you do know she was Draco's girlfriend, right? And she likes girls. And she kissed Willow and she just broke up with her girlfriend? And she likes to flirt with Daisy Penshaw? And she's going on a lunch thing with Draco? Just to please their mothers? But just as friends because he likes Buffy. And she made out with Blaise?"
Marcus ground his teeth together as he resisted the urge to apparate out and find Zabini. He didn't think the Slytherin man whore would survive the encounter. He didn't want Greengrass. So he had no say in who she should decide to whore herself out to.
"Off. Limits." The words were ground out through clenched teeth.
"She's off limits? Or the topic is off limits? Because I think you can do better. I hope she's off limits for you."
He was so mad, though. Pevensie had to wonder why. Because she was prying? Or because Tori Greengrass liked to play the field and he was now jealous? She hoped it was just because of her prying.
"The topic," he snapped. Greengrass was off limits. He'd decided that a long time ago.
Broughton was giggling into his empty glass and Marcus decided that he was cutting the old bastard off. Broughton was harmless, except for running his mouth, which he didn't do often. Bu pissing off the bar tender was a sure way to find yourself sober.
"Go annoy Malfoy or something."
Pevensie opened her mouth to retort, but someone cut her off.
"You can come annoy me, love."
Pevensie looked over her shoulder at the guy that had just entered the bar. She raised a brow then snorted.
She turned back to Marcus and opened her mouth again when her arm was grabbed. She held up a hand to Marcus as if to say she could take care of this. She did not think he'd go for that, so Pevensie just needed to get this loser on the floor before Marcus could even touch him.
The guy spun her around to face him.
"Don't you turn your-"
She used the momentum of his spinning her to swing her fist around. It connected with his jaw solidly. As he staggered back, she yanked her arm out of his grasp. Before he could get his bearings, she did a crane kick to his face that took him from his feet. Pevensie danced back in a fighting stance, her hands up and ready.
"Anyone else want to interrupt me while I'm talking?"
Marcus lept over the bar and put his boot on the idiot's throat. Not hard enough to crush it, but hard enough to get his point across.
"You're new here, so I'll give you this one freebie. Do not cause problems in my bar. You cause problems in my bar, you'll find your head so far up your arse that your breath smells even more like shit than it already does."
He waited for the man to nod vigorously before lifting his boot and delivering a swift kick to the man's ribs.
"That goes for you too, Brat," he told Pevensie as he rounded the bar once again. "You cause a problem here, and vampires will be the least of your problems."
"Hey, jerk, in case you missed it, he grabbed me. What was I supposed to do? Go off with him? Right. Nobody puts their hands on me unless I say. Not ever again!"
She'd screeched the last part. Pevensie huffed air out of her flared nostrils before going to sit at the far end of the bar in a pout. She'd just ruined everything. She thought he'd be impressed with her skill. She was getting better at hand to hand. He just seemed mad. She had not even broken any furniture this time.
Marcus grumbled as he filled a few of the orders the waitress dropped off. Stupid brat.
"I didn't say you had caused trouble," he told her a few minutes later, once he'd calmed some. "I said that if you do, we'll have a problem."
He set a glass of ice water in front of her and stomped off to wipe the other end of the bar.
The slayer Alice came barrelling into the bar like a new puppy on a freshly waxed hardwood floor. She grabbed Pevensie's arm.
"We have to go. Now. Draco's here, and he's looking for you, and if he finds you here
here, we'll all get it for covering. You know how Rona feels about the stinging hex."
Pevensie rolled her eyes. The stinging hex was not that bad.
Alice looked at Flint with her bug eyes.
"Is that him?" she whispered loudly. "You're right. He is cute. In a dirty Aragorn way."
Pevensie turned bright red and hauled Alice out of the bar roughly.
Marcus watched them go, a confused frown on his face. Broughton took one look at him and started laughing, so hard so that he fell right off his stool and onto the floor, where he clutched his stomach.
Marcus leaned over the bar and frowned down at the sot. "You've obviously pickled your mind," he told the man.