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by: Coraline Larson
June 8
6:18 pm

One step, one breath at a time. Almost home... almost there…

The dull, almost burning ache in her chest was all that occupied Cora's thoughts as she slowly made her way through the common room of the Leaky Cauldron. She headed back the familiar hallway toward the entrance to Diagon Alley, too preoccupied with her poor health to notice anything out of the ordinary. Her heart was still healing after the cardiac arrest that resulted from her breaking the oppressive magic in her mind a day and a half ago and her current condition showcased that.

Her temperature was running a low-grade fever, while her blood pressure and respiration rate were both elevated and more than a little labored, and not just from the walk to pick up more potion supplies. Cora had been careful about her exertion on her outing, but even still her body was not having it. Once she entered the wizarding world she ducked into a small alley between two shops and leaned heavily against the wall, desperately trying to catch her breath before she continued on her way home.
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by: Citlali Separa
Help. Help. Helphelphelphelphelphelp. Po was whispering rapidly in Citlali’s ear, pushing and prodding the Nagual. It felt like she was on a hunt but without any prey. She had paced this street for the past hour and still Po was nearly shouting, driving her up a wall. She hissed at the spirit when it pulled her ear, whipping her head away. Her black eyes settled suddenly on the dark haired woman. She was walking like a wounded animal. Citlali stared at the woman. She was… Shattered. So many fractures. Her spirit looked like a mirror that had fallen from the wall. If anyone lifted that mirror the pieces would fall from the frame and disappear into powder. Po had gone silent.


The order had her feet moving as the other woman disappeared into a tavern. Citlali’s blood sang at the idea of the hunt. Even though she wasn’t trying to hunt this girl down; the Hunger reacted the same. That shadow, the imp. She did not have time for this. She tried to look less crazed as she followed through the tavern, peeking around the corner at the woman. As the bricks slid open, Citlali relaxed a bit. Oh. A witch. Okay. That eased the tension in her shoulders a bit and she darted through the closing portal. She stopped to look around, her dark hair tossing about wildly. The woman was gone. How? Where. No the Hunger was still rushing through her ears, shadows clawing at her mind. Prey was still here. She sniffed delicately.

Blood. Sorrow. Ice. Shatter. Prey. There.

Citlali turned the corner of the alley. The hunched figure there. Spiderwebs. So many spiderwebs. Straightening out of her stalking form, Citlali moved slowly but still silently towards the woman. She watched as Po circled the other, trying to ease the discomfort on her spirit even it couldn’t help terribly much with whatever was wrong with her physically.
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by: Coraline Larson
"C'mon... need to get home... breathe. It's okay... everything's okay. You're okay..." the witch whispered to herself, anxiety creeping into her voice.

Cora slumped against the brick wall of the alley, her head leaned back and eyes closed as she attempted to regulate her breathing. She had given up trying to get her heart rate to calm down for the time being and judged her respiration to be more within her immediate control anyway. After several more deep breaths Cora could feel the knot in her chest beginning to relax and decided it was worth trying to finish the ten minute walk back to her warehouse.

With obvious difficulty Cora struggled to stand upright again, but managed it and with only some mild lightheadedness to boot. When she turned to exit the alley, however, the unexpected appearance of the other woman handily undid and exacerbated all the work Cora had done to calm herself. Immediately her hand dropped to her wand but fumbled with shaking fingers to draw it as a wave of fear and panic washed over the fragile witch when she recognized the woman. The tattoos, the predatory demeanor, the appearance... The Death Eaters had to know she wasn't the Dark Lord's pet anymore if they had sent that jaguar shifter- oh god, what was her name? Did it even matter? She wouldn't let them take her back!

No no no no NO! They won't take me back! Can't let them... won't be HER anymore. NEVER AGAIN!
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by: Citlali Separa
Citlali watched the struggle around the woman. The cracks were pulsing and surging. Oh this was not good. The woman straightened more at the woman’s panic, holding her hands at her chest palms towards the witch. “Peace. You are hurt,” she said softly. The predator in her, the Hunger fizzled out at the scared woman. Small, needed to be protected. Shattered spirit. The priestess blood in her surged, overwhelming her senses suddenly. Protect. Help the spirits. She had to do this.

Citlali took a slow step closer but the predatory stance had melted away. She lifted her chin as her eyes adjusted, senses flooding with the sensations of both worlds. The glassy look overtook her features but she smiled again at the woman. “I am not here to harm you. A… Whisper? Spirit. Po. They told me you need help. Please. May I assist you?” she said, voice gentle and warm. Sincere though. No trace of falseness hovered in any part of her body language or tone, just simple serenity.
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by: Coraline Larson
She... she wasn't attacking? Why? This had to be a trap, some sort of trick to make her think she was safe... make her think they didn't know what she had done. Then they would strike when her guard was down and she would be made back into what she hated all over again...

But wait... this wasn't Tabora -that was the other shifter's name- at all. This woman looked remarkably similar and those tattoos... This woman wasn't stalking her like a predator, in fact, she seemed concerned at the witch's poor health, almost gentle.

I am not here to harm you…

Cora didn't know what to think now. She wasn't here to hurt her? If this wasn't the shifter that had been loosely associated with the Death Eaters according to her informants, then who was she? Why was she so concerned for Cora?

Cora shuddered and clutched at the ache in her chest that had flared up again and took a step back from the woman hesitantly. The glassy look in her eyes was extremely disconcerting, to say the least, despite her assurances of peace.

"Wh-who are you? Why... why are you... you following me?" Cora asked, her words quiet and deliberate with her difficulty breathing.
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by: Citlali Separa
Citlali smiled slowly. A response was good. “I was not. Po was upset and told me to help. I think they meant you,” she said, not much of an explanation but it made sense to her brain. The spiderwebs around the woman were flexing and roiling in agitation. The clutch to her chest made the Nagual step closer to the other in concern.

“Let me help. You are going to collapse at this rate.”

She didn’t rush but also did not slow their careful approach. “My name is Citlali. I am… Was a priestess. I simply help those who the spirits tell me to. They want me to help you. May I?” she said, pushing a bit so her eyes could focus on the woman’s face now.
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by: Coraline Larson
Po? The whisper-spirit-thing she had mentioned wanted to help her? Cora barely had time to register the woman's nonsensical explanation before she scrambled back again when the woman made to close the distance between them.

"S-stay back!" She fumbled for her wand again in a panic, her shaking hand struggling to draw the length of wood from its holster as a wave of dizziness nearly toppled the witch to the ground. Adrenaline and fear had her heart rate spiking dangerously and her legs began to wobble with weakness.

Cora clutched at her heart again and leaned heavily against a trash can to catch her breath, not looking away from the strange woman who was still approaching. Her head started to throb and ache, she assumed from lack of oxygen, but still didn't look away. "...n-no! Stay... stay back! Don't...d- don't touch me..." she hissed at Citlali, fear in her eyes.
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by: Citlali Separa
“Do not be a fool. You need help. You are barely staying on your feet as it is,” she scolded gently. She finished approaching the woman, presenting herself in front of her but didn’t touch her yet. It might send her over the edge and even with her lessened senses Citlali could hear the pounding and stuttering of the woman’s weak heart.

“If I wanted to harm you there is very little you could do to stop me in your current position. I will repeat one more time, and I hope you believe me, I will not harm you. I am here to help. Is there somewhere I can help you get to that is safe? You should not be walking around right now,” she said calmly. She barely glanced at the wand. If the woman attacked her then so be it.

Her eyes darted to just past the woman’s side looking at Po. Po hovered worriedly at the woman’s aura trying to soothe the aura and cracks in the woman’s spirit.
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by: Coraline Larson
She was right: Cora did need help. The raven-haired witch looked away as she bowed her head miserably against the dizziness and pain in her head, her eyes clenched shut briefly. The woman- Citlali, she called herself- sounded so genuine... What she had said sounded more than a little crazy in parts, but she was telling the truth as far as Cora could tell and her own situation was not ideal, she admitted to herself. She needed to get home.

"I... don't l-live far... from here..." Cora replied at last, finally accepting the woman's word of no ill intent. "I n-need to... to get h-home..."

Her head gave a vicious throb again causing the witch to wince and hiss in discomfort until it subsided back to a manageable level. That pain was so familiar, almost like.... no, that was impossible, she had to remind herself. The compulsion was broken. The Dark Lady was gone.
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by: Citlali Separa
Citlali hissed at Po when they prodded something and the woman let out a hiss of pain. The spirit backed off. Citlali nodded a bit and swooped in. She went to grab the other’s waist but stopped at the sound of her pulse increasing again. “Please. You cannot even stand and walking will cause you more issue. Either lean upon me or allow me to carry you. Either way you must breathe. Have peace. I will get you home safely,” she said determined.

Holding out her arm slowly her black eyes stared at the smaller woman, “If you try to lean on me it may cause you discomfort from my height. You may hold your wand to my throat if it allows you to feel safer,” she offered, “Now where am I taking you? Back through to the other side or do you remain in this world?”
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by: Matthew Cox
Sunshine stalked Cora, mouth dry and teeth gritted so hard his radar wavered. This cat...this fucking Nagual was following his mate. He stayed far back, nearly a mile from Cora and the shifter. He was stretching his radar slightly, but after he had made first contact and confirmed the scent of the thing with his...HIS...mate, he'd backed off out of the cat's range of senses. A mile was hard. He'd have to sprint if the predator did anything untoward, and even then it would take three or four minutes to get into position to defend Cora. Maybe he should creep closer...

They were headed to the warehouse...good. He could hide himself near that and cut his response time to seconds instead of minutes. The mutant leaped off of his rooftop perch and headed for Cora's home.
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by: Coraline Larson
Cora reacted immediately to the woman's attempt to grab her, blocking her hands and stumbling back slightly. The witch shook her head in the negative and scowled at the woman. "I will not... be carried... gi-give me your... your arm, please..."

She would not be completely helpless, she thought stubbornly as she gingerly took Citlali's arm and slowly started out of the alley. Cora guided her quietly, back out on to the main street and toward the warehouse. Her vision was expanding from the near-pinprick it had been now, although her pulse and breathing were both still clearly off. She needed to go home and take her potions and rest…
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by: Citlali Separa
Citlali took a slow breath. Stubborn woman. “Very well,” she said. She followed the woman’s directions easily, taking the walk at a slow pace. Her head was inclined slightly towards the woman, keeping tabs on her heart and her breathing. Still not right at all. But she seemed a little less staggered. “You will forgive me if I do not simply deliver you and abandon you,” she warned gently. There was still the mission the spirits had set her to. Whatever was wrong with this girl, it wasn’t as simple as a weak heart.

Citlali stopped in front of a warehouse, a frown furrowing her brow. “This is not a home,” she said in surprise, “You stay here?”
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by: Coraline Larson
"I ca-can take... c-care of myself once... once I'm h-home," Cora answered the persistent woman once the warehouse was in sight. As much as she appreciated the woman's help in getting home, there was no reason for Cora to allow her inside her home after all.

When they stopped outside the warehouse Cora let go of Citlali and leaned against the door, gripping her wand more easily now. She tried to smile at the other woman in thanks and a polite dismissal, but the expression merely succeeded in looking pained. Cora frowned slightly at Citlali's jab at her home, forgetting in her muddled state that the wards disguised her home as a rundown dump.

"It is... MY h-home," she answered, panting only slightly, "and I am... fine now, thank you..." Cora simply stared at the woman, waiting to let herself in through the wards on the building until Citlali left.
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by: Citlali Separa
“Just because you continue to try to convince me does not mean I will believe you. You are anything but fine,” Citlali said, “Now tell me. When you get inside what will you do? Will you be able to get to a couch much less to whatever medication you require? Let me help you with the correct answer. It is not a positive one. Now please stop being stubborn before you help yourself into an unnecessary grave.”

She approached the witch holding up her arm, “My sister was a witch. I know a little about herbal and magical medicines. Just allow me to help you a little longer. Once your heart stops sounding like it may quit every fourth beat then I will leave if you still wish it.”
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