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by: Eric Pangbourn
#1995
Saturday, 25 February 2012
7:00 p.m.

"It's your Berenice, Eric, I'm sure of it."

Eric looked over his cup of chamomile at the blonde who sat on his wing-backed chair. She herself had her hands in her lap, the cup of tea he'd offered refused. She had had enough at Witte's, she'd assured him during her polite refusal.

"Her hair was different than it is there in that picture, but it's the same face. And the child's older, but she's definitely your Elise."

Eric set his cup on its saucer and the saucer on the table then sat back and crossed one ankle over the opposite knee. This knowledge changed things. Eric had managed to leave Berenice be in hopes of managing to avoid violating the terms of his freedom. But to know his wife--he gave no damns for what the legal system now said--was wandering around like a hussy with that damned professor after everything? That was the final straw.

"He was visiting her when I first arrived--at [i]five, mind you. He didn't arrive until after six, and it seemed he had been there most of the day from what I gathered from Witte, who insufferably insisted Faust would be there."[/i]

Eric smirked slightly at her obvious annoyance. He didn't know this Witte, but he had put together that he was a little much to handle in large doses.

"What gets me the most, Eric, is that she would so soon introduce him into Elise's life. You say they were together when you were jailed, but that isn't much time. Children are impressionable. That alone gives you the right to question her judgment, have the Wizengamot look into a different custody arrangement...."

But Eric didn't want to deal with the legal system. It had not done him any favors. Despite his own being in charge, they had done little to protect him.

"Then again, you could always take matters into your own hands. I could see Berenice served with papers and a meeting arranged. Only, there will be no lawyers."

"I won't be needing any help."

Fernsby looked at him with false perplexity, obviously trying to play a role. "Eric, surely you won't sit idly by?"

"Of course not, Ms. Fernsby," he replied but did not play into her game. "I'll be doing what needs to be done, though I do wonder why IA and our kind have taken interest in my situation. They certainly didn't care to look into matters as I rotted in that hellhole. Get out!" Eric's voice rang through the mansion as he stood on his command.

Fernsby seemed uncertain what to do.

"If you want this thing done, you will get out of my presence. Reek, take her."

A slave girl walked toward her, and she gave Fernsby the meekest of glances as she helped her into her coat and headed with shuffling feet toward the door.

"Good evening, Mr. Pangbourn."

Eric said nothing as the blonde took her leave. For once, he didn't comment to Reek on her awful shuffling. That was of lowest priority.

No, tonight, tonight he had a different problem to deal with.

Though he had left Berenice alone, he had seen her in town before. In fact, every Saturday morning he sat at a small cafe to enjoy a meal out. It had started off innocently enough, but after he noticed her there a second time two weeks later (He had missed a week.), he began to notice it seemed to be her morning grocery run, and he had made certain he was there at that time without fail. Even a glance was better than nothing. What she didn't know didn't hurt her.

But it did give him an in, an option. He would have to wait a week, but a week was nothing after several without her holed up in the dreary prison of Azkaban. He had plotted revenge then, all the sweet things he had in store for her when he had been released, but he had decided then to bide his time. Berenice knew him, after all. Berenice knew he wouldn't stay away. It pleased him to think she might be living in fear, that those glances over her shoulder were her looking for any sign of him.

Eric smiled a wicked smile as he placed a hand on the mantle, grabbed the portrait he had of her on their wedding day and brought it down, staring. The flames danced against the gold of the frame, the palor of her fair skin as she waved. Her smile was terse, but then it often had after the first time she had enraged him with that letter to that boy.

Crrrrunch.

Eric set the frame down on the mantle, not caring to set it up, and looked at his thumb before putting it to his mouth to suck the blood to stop the bleeding. No matter. It would heal.

Just as Berenice's suffering would heal those inside him.

((Lat, let me know if grocery run doesn't work. Just needed something for him to mention and you weren't on.))
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