The various homes, flats, and other dwellings of London are located throughout the city. You can visit a friend at his home or even have one over or enjoy an evening in with yourself. Your choice!
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Too much… too fast. Couldn't breathe. Oh god she couldn't breathe she had to calm down had to talk had to explain to him makehimlistenohgodnotMattnohewasindanger….

Cora spiralled quickly, beginning to hyperventilate as the panic rose in a seemingly unending cycle of feeling out of control and knowing she needed to calm down. She clutched at her chest as if she could pull the pain and ache from her body by sheer force of will alone, tears starting to leak from her pale green eyes in fear and desperation. It took her several moments to register Matt’s presence kneeling in front of her. When it did she grabbed his hand desperately, nearly gasping for breath and her body trembling.

Matt's calm voice helped soothe the tide of panic slowly - or maybe it was just an instant, Cora couldn't tell - but the fragile woman found herself unable to make her voice work through what felt like someone choking her. Taking her hand away from her heart, she tapped a message shakily against the mutant’s leg. [Tell him please. Can't talk. Please. Tell him what He did to me. Please.]

Anxious, afraid, and just barely in control of the panic attack that had incapacitated her Cora whimpered softly and held desperately to Matt, unable to look at either man.
Teague didn't know what he should be feeling but raw anger and hurt were certainly top on his list. Who the hell was this guy that barged into a private conversation and was now-- what the hell was he even doing? Was Cora seriously having a panic attack. If the tracker wasn't seeing it with his own eyes he would have thought he was dreaming and if anyone would have told him Cora was susceptible to this sort of thing he would have told them that they had a few screws loose.

As the mystery man moved in to console Cora, the tracker stood and moved away to create some distance. He hadn't drawn either his knife or his wand yet though that could change in less than the span of a heartbeat. The sickeningly sweet cooing the man was doing towards Cora, the pet name -- Cor? Really?! -- only furthered to push Teague's rapidly spiraling mood to some place darker. Had Cora found someone else while she was away? Possibly... but why did that leave him feeling so out of sorts? Why couldn't he just brush it off as another disappointment in a long line of disappointments? Was he jealous? No, no he was not. There was nothing to be jealous of and he didn't really know who this guy was anyway. He could very well just be a friend or college or....

Teague's train of thought was derailed when the man offered an apology and an introduction and the tracker fixed Matt with a hard glare unsure of where to put Matt on the threat level. The glasses had the tracker narrowing his eyes slightly. Why the shades in doors? Was the guy blind? Not bloody likely considering the way he moved toward Cora from the kitchen area. Fashion accessory? Teague let out a slight huff of air.

"Matt huh?"

The tracker turned Lord shifted his gaze from Matt to Cora and noticed the woman still wasn't anywhere close to being able to speak to him. She was shaking like a leaf. Hyperventilating. Tears trailed down her cheeks and it was all so out of place and Teague felt his unease grow. the way she clutched at Matt was more than enough to convince him that there was something going on here, something he wanted no part of. Clearly coming had been a mistake, he should have damn well just burned the letter this morning without even reading it. Teague shook his head and did his best to keep the look of disgust off his face but he doubt he'd really succeeded as he took a step back, intent on making a break for it.

"Well, seems I made a mistake in coming here. Ya got things under control so I'm outta here."
Oh for-! Really?! Matt heard the heart rate change, the anger, and...was that disgust? What the hell? Wasn’t this the man Cora said was her friend? Some friend if he was going to selfishly abandon her when it was clear that she needed help...

Matt tapped out a quick ‘I love you’ to Cora, slipped his glasses off in case Teague decided to take a swing at him, and followed the tracker.

”Wait. Please.”

Matt kept his voice soft and submissive. It wouldn’t do to actually pick a fight, no matter how much Matt wanted to tear into the asshole for abandoning Cora at the first sign of difficulties. With a deep breath, Matt tried to explain on Cora’s behalf.

”She’s not well. She needs her friends now more than ever since she broke the hold your former master had on her mind. The curse and the conditioning have left her fragile. Like I said...she needs her friends now...if you keep walking out that door, all you’ll do is prove that all of her caring for you means nothing.”

Okay, so maybe that gauntlet being thrown down wasn’t the submissive and gentle he intended, but...dammit! Who walked out on their friend? If they were as close as Cora said they were, then How could he just leave her? Matt didn’t understand...or wouldn’t. That kind of cowardice was being thinkable.
Cora’s body seemed frozen in the midst of the panic attack, she discovered as she tried to move her head just slightly to look at Teague. She could hear that he had stood and moved away from her but didn’t remember seeing him do so; must have done it when Matt came in. He had to be angry at her, probably hurt too, she understood that and had even expected that reaction at first, but she had thought that he would calm down and at least be willing to listen… It seemed, however, that Teague was just going to leave.

Her pulse spiked anxiously again when Matt stood up from his crouch next to her and turned to address Teague directly. ‘Oh Merlin… oh, god please don’t hurt him,’ she pleaded silently with the powers that be, unsure anymore if she was praying for Matt’s protection from Teague or vice versa. All she really knew was that, good-intentioned or not, this had been a mistake. Teague wasn’t going to listen and Matt was going to start a fight or attack or lose his temper and then both men would be brawling and cursing and maybe even killing each other and there was nothing she could do about it because she couldn’t even get her breathing under control and oh god everything was spinning and out of control and her heart was pounding and why was it so warm in here and she couldn’t breathe again and oh god oh god….

Whatever Matt had said to Teague was lost in the jumble of rushing and almost incoherent thoughts running through her mind like a sprinter in a race. Another silent tear escaped to trail down her sickly-pale cheek, her gaze still frozen and fixed on the floor in front of her. “... m’s-so sorry….” the words tumbled out of her mouth in a barely coherent whisper, as if she wasn’t aware of even having said them.

Should’ve just let yourself die… look at what you’ve done… should’ve just let yourself die…
Wait? Why would he want to wait? He wasn't getting any indication that the "truth" was ever going to come out.It felt like he and Cora had barely talked before she fell into her episode here and the Matt had shown his face. He'd been naive to think this would have been a one on one conversation. But what was this about breaking the hold Voldemort had on her? Why was Matt talking like he knew what that could even possibly entail? The man wasn't a Death Eater, at least not one that Teague had ever seen around during Voldemort or Trevor's reign....

The tracker's eyes narrowed and his hands clenched into tight balls at his side. The mention of conditioning and a hidden curse only brought forth fragmented memories of his short time spent with the Syndicate leader and the hell he'd unleashed after his special brand of mind fuckery. As if that wasn't bad enough, having some nobody dredge those memories back to the surface, Matt had the gall to call him out on being a bad friend? Ha! What a joke. He had no friends. Friends didn't try and kill you, manipulate you, or pin kidnappings on you, and they sure as hell didn't vanish without a trace for over a year with out so much as a word. No, friends were just a means to an end, a lesson taught by his former master and one that had been reinforced after recent events. Let people in and you'd pay for it at some point.

"Friends? Ain't got any of those." He tried to keep the anger out of his voice and glanced back to Cora and noticed her mouthing something but he couldn't make it out. Seemed she still wasn't able to get a hold of herself and was letting Matt be her mouth piece. "Nah, she doesn't need me and I don't think she ever really did, seems like she's got you." Teague offered the pair a shrug of indifference. "I came here to talk to Cora not you, but looks like that ain't happening and you can preach all you want about caring but you don't know a damn thing about me." Teague didn't know why he snapped back at the other man. He had nothing to gain from picking a fight... so why was he finding it so hard to keep up the aloof persona he always wore? Bloody hell he needed to get out of here, find a pub and get sloshed.
The mutant cocked his head both Cora and Teague were in their own form of crisis. What was he supposed to do? Cora couldn’t talk and Teague wouldn’t...and Matt couldn’t force him to look and see at how badly his words were hurting Cora. With a swallow, Matt decided to play an extreme gambit.

He dropped to his knees and took the posture of a submissive slave. The rage in his bones burned against the posture, but any other reaction that he could muster would provoke a fight.

“Please. You’re right. I don’t know you, or your story. All I know of you is Cora’s fondness in remembering her friendship with you. I’m sorry. I’m the one who suggested that she make reparations with you. I encouraged her to reach out and try to make amends. I don’t know what happened to you, or between the two of you, but I know what it’s like to be a slave under the imperius, the same as she was. I know how badly she needs a friend after breaking the curse, the same as I needed one. I would do anything for her, so right now I’m laying aside any pride and any fight I’d have and I’m begging for you to be the man she hoped you were. She hurt you and wants to apologize...but anxiety is-”

He locked up for a moment himself. This position was degrading and emotionally painful for him, but Matt had said it: he’d do anything for Cora, including degrade and debase himself.

”-is locking her up. Please, give her patience and consideration.”

He stayed on the floor, restraining himself and submitting even when instincts demanded otherwise.
Drawn by some small movement from Teague, Cora finally managed to raise her eyes to look at the two men. She instantly regretted it.

Judging by the expression on his face Teague was somewhere between fury and disgust as he seemed to stare Matt down. Cora didn’t understand why he was so hellbent on being angry with her and refusing to listen to what they were trying to tell him, a small sound of dismay tearing from her throat as she desperately tried to calm herself enough to speak for herself. When Teague’s eyes drifted over to her she flinched as if she had been struck and trembled under the hostility in his gaze. This wasn’t the Teague she remembered… This man was hard, impatient, and unwilling to listen; the tracker she had known was laid-back and kind, if not a bit gentle. The way he glared at her now made her shiver, but it was his retort back to Matt about having no friends that really twisted the knife in her heart. She had to explain…

Before Cora could try to speak again Matt dropped to his knees to literally beg the tracker to listen. She hadn’t wanted this… This wasn’t supposed to go like this! “... please… p-please stop,” she murmured, unsure if either of the men would hear her quavering voice over their own emotions. She couldn’t seem to make her body obey her brain just yet so Cora simply tried to make herself heard as best she could, still trembling like a leaf as she listened to Matt’s pleas. Swallowing hard, Cora spoke a little louder this time.

“M-matt, please… stop,” she asked him softly and looked up at Teague. “I’m s-sorry… I’m… I’m not okay. I th-thought you would understand…” The fragile-looking woman pleaded with her eyes for the tracker to just let her get her words out. “I… I was… n-never who you thought I was. You only kn-knew the Dark Lady, n-not me… Not Cora...” She knew that didn’t make sense but struggled against the tide of anxiety and dread that threatened to overwhelm her in order to explain. “When I w-was seventeen, just out of H-hogwarts… I was re-recruited by the Death Eaters forcibly. I… I was t-tortured and held under th-the Imperius for two years… until the Dark Lord… He… He b-broke my mind…” She shuddered and closed her eyes against a fresh wave of tears for a moment before she could continue. “H-he used the Imperius a-and Legillimency t-to… to create the D-dark Lady… an assassin wh-who couldn’t disobey him or h-her handler…” Cora swiped at the tears in her frightened eyes with the back of her hand and looked back at Teague in desperation.

“After th-the Dark Lord w-was gone… the c-curse… it h-held me to the sa-same standards… under every s-sub-subsequent leader… Wh-when Trevor ordered me to t-tell no one… I… I literally couldn’t d-disobey… I n-never w-wanted to hurt you…” Her voice broke with the admission and she waited for Teague’s reaction to the truth, shivering violently as her heart raced again.
Matt's posturing as, his...begging, did nothing to improve the Lord's mood. In fact it probably had the opposite effect and Teague couldn't decide how disgusted him more at this point in time. What the hell was Matt playing at. Slave? And what was with all the crap? Why get Cora to reach out at all? If they were together then why did they even care about him in the first place? It made no sense to the tracker. A look of disbelief flitted across his face at the mention of the imperious curse. Was that what Cora did to him? Oh bloody hell this was to rich. And to hear Matt claim he knew what it was like? Teague couldn't hold back a laugh. In the trackers mind, Matt had no idea of what it was like. If Cora had really cast it on him it wouldn't even hold a candle to the Dark Lord.

Teague missed the bit about the anxiety because it seemed that the very woman that had asked him to come here finally decided to speak up and he focused his attention solely on Cora after he found himself a space on the wall to lean against. It was hard to no feel some sort of pity for her. Teague had always figured certain talent in the ranks hadn't been there by choice. Teague flinched noticeably when Cora said the Dark Lord broke her mind and that simple statement conjured up a slew of memories that had been forcibly unlocked recently.

The tracker felt his jaw tighten, teeth clenched as he fought to push those memories away. He didn't need that particular trip down memory lane but it seemed like old ghosts weren't in the forgiving mood today. The way Cora stammered, the way she trembled... it was like seeing the witches and wizards he'd tortured. All Teague could hear was the dark lords voice, smooth as silk as he knelt in a pile of filth and gore in front of his former master. "You won't disobey me again now will you.... I never wanted to hurt you."

He forced a tight lipped grin but his eyes still held a hard edge. "Yeah I get it. Nobody ever said no to him... Whatever, it doesn't matter, what's done is done. And really lass, it doesn't matter if you didn't want t hurt me, truth is ya did. So I don't know what you want from me or expect to get. Friends? Nah, think I'm good without for a good long while. Forgiveness? CAn't do that either lass. Haven't been able to do that for years and ain't about to start now. That guy you knew a year ago? Hate to break it to ya this way but he ain't here no more."
Matt sat up onto his knees. He took a meditative stance with his hands loosely folded in his lap. He'd need to focus on keeping them loose, the mutant reminded himself. Mustn't clench. He breathed a sigh and listened to Teague and Cora's exchange. There was so much past venom, so much pain, so much fear...and it was from both of them. What could he do except sit quietly and observe the exchange? For better or for worse, he'd taken a neutral, submissive position. That meant no defending vociferously, no getting in Teague's face, no physically acting as a barrier. Instead, he had to be the quiet support, respectful and out of the way. Still, the question had to be asked...

"...Can't forgive?"

And who was he referring to that he couldn't forgive? His scent was a mix of negative emotions, anger and pain...the grit of his jaw, the cut of his words...was the inability to forgive directed at himself? Was that what he meant? Or did he really not have the desire or ability to forgive the woman who had been his friend and served in the same ranks of the Nazi-horror-show they'd been forced to participate in? Was this a man who, like Cora, had been forced into horrors he couldn't escape from?

Easy, Matty...gonna get too sympathetic to the Dark Lord if you're not careful, and you might find yourself in a tight spot for it...

He shut his mouth and dropped his sightless gaze again, letting his extra senses take the lead on this. It was either going to fizzle out or get nasty real quick. And if it got nasty, what was he going to do about it, hm? Defend Cora and take the hits? All well and good if he wasn't getting hit with spells...if the wizard pulled his wand...Matt shuddered at the thought. He was still phobic about wands being pointed at him. Hopefully it wouldn't come to that.
He was disgusted, ready to leave. The way Teague looked at Matt like that made her blood run cold and nearly had her anxiety rising to panicky levels once again, but Cora steeled herself for Matt’s sake and for the sake of the man Teague had been before this all had happened. He was as much a victim as she was, but where she wanted to set things right, it seemed Teague just wanted to sweep it under the rug and hold a grudge. That was okay. All she could do was tell him the truth and tell him how sorry she was. If he wanted to walk away and never speak to her again, so be it, but he deserved to hear her apology and he deserved to know the truth of the matter.

The flinch and the expression that crossed the tracker’s face when Cora mentioned what the Dark Lord had done to her didn’t escape her notice, though she didn’t immediately comment on it as Matt spoke up at last with his question. She hadn’t known how Teague came to join the ranks under the Dark Lord, but from that reaction it was likely that his situation was similar to her own. Nobody deserved that and it was for that reason that the fragile woman took a deep breath to calm herself and mentally let go of any hope of reconciling with her former friend.

“I didn’t want anything from you, Teague,” she said softly, meeting his eyes sadly. “I just wanted you to know the truth. What happened should never have happened, and I’m so, so sorry you got hurt because of it, whether you believe that or not.” She took a shaky breath before continuing on. “Since you’re in charge now, please consider this my retirement notice. I’m done. I never wanted to be part of this, and now that I have control of myself and my own mind, I’m finished. I won’t be working against you or for the enemy or anything of the like, but I’m done. Call it retirement, defection, whatever you want… I can’t do it anymore,” she finished, her voice wavering and barely more than a whisper by the time she spoke the last words.
Teague chose to ignore Matt's query. It was something he had no intention of diving into with either person in the room with him. At the end of the day he was a Death Eater and Death Eater's weren't exactly known for being forgiving, so the tracker turned Lord didn't really understand the curiosity. Did Matt not know what they were?

The tracker shifted slightly as he continued to watch Cora with a hawk like gaze and when she finally managed to meet his eyes he didn't look away. Even though her voice was shaky, quiet, her demeanor shy and the exact opposite of what he'd know the Dark Lady as, Teague knew she meant what she said. Her apology was sincere enough and it tugged hard at the remaining threads of caring he still had for her. It didn't do anything to lessen the hurt but the tracker supposed it was something.

When Cora shifted the conversation to retirement his brow rose in slight surprise, though he probably should have seen this coming. If Cora was no longer the Dark Lady, just... whatever she was now, she certainly wasn't a Death Eater. It would be a blow to their forces but nothing they couldn't bounce back from as long as Cora remained sided with the regime, his regime, or at the very least a neutral party. Merlin he hoped she didn't do something stupid and move against him.

"If I thought you had defected, or were in danger of doing so, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Defection means you sided with my enemies lass, so lets go with the retirement option." Teague let out a soft chuckle at that and vowed to punch Trevor right in his pearly white teeth for giving him this slowly crumbling platform to work with the next time he saw him. "Look, I get it Cora, probably more than you know and for what its worth, I'm glad ya broke his hold and found the real you."

Teague reached up to run a hand over his chin and the stubble that had recently grown in before pushing himself off the wall and nodding back in the direction of the front entrance. "I should probably get going. Del's probably gonna kill me for cuttin' and runnin' early as is. Keep yer head down and don't give my guys an excuse to notice ya, a'right?"

Teague waited a beat in case Cora or Matt had anything to add before turning to head out. "I can show myself out."
Instinct told him that it would be dangerous to keep pressing, Matt ducked his head again, suppressing his rage at being ignored. Lord of the wizarding world...phaugh. There was a reason that the muggles had made their monarchy and nobility nothing more than ornamental titles. Wizards were, in his opinion, politically backwards and stupid. Why were they a people happy with being ruled by a people who didn't represent them? Or...did the Death Eaters and their extreme message of subjugation represent wizarding kind? Was that possible that the common mage was a bigoted, evil-hearted, torturing soul? Matt's brow furrowed in thought as he kept his posture properly subservient while the magic types talked. Teague's words weren't lost on him, but they were tainted now.

Had he ruined Cora's life by pulling her more towards his own thinking? Was she going to be a pariah now because she didn't hold to their majority line of opinion? Hell's bells...was Orion and Tristan's muggle-like view of human dignity rare? Klaus' report form the Syndicate experience indicated that there were refugees living in a dictatorship...but that was a group living in a cave in a dire situation...they were fighting the regime and should be considered more a resistance group. This was a people in a civil war.

So if this was a shadow war, then that meant that the citizens were stuck between. Propaganda? Conspiracy? Were they just keeping their heads down rather than earn the wrath of the government and to stay out of the way of the resistance fact, thatwas kind of the ultimatum Teague was making, right? Stay out of their it wasn't complicit agreement, it was a survival tactic for the average citizen...easier to endure rather than overcome.

Matt chewed his tongue thoughtfully. Even if he ever did manage to go back to Mi5, the battle was here...he was a soldier...and...could he...? No. That was a stupid plan, sure to get Cora in trouble. He needed to keep her safe, not hare off after some paladin adventure and get them both hurt or killed. But these were British citizens in a crisis and-

No. Focus. Calm. Stay submissive until he's gone and put this hero bit out of your head, Matty. You don't need to go off saving everyone.

Then what was the point of dressing up in armor and going out at night? Was he just beating people up for jollies or was there a reason? And, if that reason wasn't saving people, he needed to stop. But if h was saving could he ignore a swatch of people being oppressed by their government? How could he not help? He needed to think long and hard about what he was considering.
The fragile woman sat still somewhat huddled on the edge of her seat on the couch as if just waiting for the other metaphorical shoe to drop. She wasn’t sure how she did it, but Cora managed to hold eye contact with Teague through the silence that fell between them after she was finished. Maybe it was simply the fear and anxiety keeping her frozen in place; she wasn’t sure anymore. She wasn’t sure of anything at this point really. Matt had reverted back to his submissive behavior like he was still under the Imperius Curse, Teague certainly wasn’t the man she remembered anymore… Everything was topsy-turvy it seemed, and she was left barely clinging to the shattered bits of herself that had begun to come back without the Dark Lady.

’But you’re free. You’re free and that’s something, at least,’ she had to remind herself. Surprisingly enough that one quiet thought did help steel her against whatever Teague was going to decide about what she had told him. It didn’t completely subdue the roiling anxiety in her gut but it at least gave her the strength to hold his gaze while she waited. And that was something.

He seemed to relax slightly before he spoke but even then Cora didn’t dare let herself hope for a positive response. The Teague she had known would have been understanding, she felt, but now? She had no idea and it terrified her. Even so, a glimmer of ‘her’ Teague, her bloodhound, shown through the flinty, cold facade that he had upheld until now when he did finally respond. Her heart ached a bit at the soft chuckle he let out, giving her a little hope at least that the tracker would be alright in time if there was still enough of the man she knew left there that he could find some humor in the situation before him. And that was something, at least… Right?

It took Cora a few beats to process that he was indeed going to let her walk away and retire. The raven-haired witch at last let out a breath she hadn’t realized she had been holding and nodded in response, tongue-tied at first. “I… I know th-this was hard, but… Thank you, Teague,” she said quietly, still holding his gaze with her own pale green one. “For what it’s worth, I’m s-sorry all this was thrown on you… but fr-from what I’ve seen, at least, you’re h-handling it well…” The compliment might have sounded trite, but it was sincere. “Take care of yourself, please…” she added softly before the tracker turned to go.

For someone who had never wanted to be in the limelight, he did seem to be doing well in it, although Cora had always told him that he could be much more powerful than he was during their time together. As much as it hurt, she was glad that he seemed to be okay. He hadn’t deserved the things that had happened to him or the stress of the position that was forced on him, but if Teague could just hold onto a little bit of himself, Cora believed he would be alright. Maybe… maybe one day he could even forgive her, as much of a longshot as that seemed at the moment.

And that was something, at least. It had to be.
Matt held his position until Cora’s guest was gone. Once the Death Eater was out the door, the marine stood and shook the slave image off of himself.

”Brrr...that was more tense than I thought. I’m sorry, sweetheart.”

He paced a bit, a step with each thought. She was allowed to retire, but there was that hard line that was set down. Something about that just made Matt itchy. Why was he so antiauthority about this? She wasn’t going to be shot on sight, she was relatively safe, many young bucks looking to make a name might ignore their lord and come with wand drawn to become the next world’s best?

Matt’s pacing took him to the silks, so he climbed up and knotted his ankles into a hitch, securing himself so he could hang upside down and think.

”That could have gone worse, honestly. I mean, retired is a safeish position, so long as nobody comes looking to make a name for themselves by making you a notch on their wand holster. We can’t live in fear though...I don’t know...what do you think, love?”

He held his hands towards her, offering touch and comfort. She was so brave, facing her past like that. Matt smiled encouragingly.

”Love you.”
End Summary- With Matt leaving the room to work out in the gym, Cora retreats to her greenhouse upstairs to process her meeting with Teague and ponder how to move forward with her life now that she is finally free of the Death Eaters. She meditates and loses herself in tending the plants in her greenhouse until Matt comes to check on her and bring her downstairs for dinner together.
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