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Monday, March 5, 2012
6:58 am

Between the border of the magical and muggle worlds, there is a park. In that park are scads of pigeons. These winged rats are experienced beggars, following and harassing morning walkers to drop a crumb here or there on their way to work. Occasionally, the birds disappear. These birds are too smart to hang around the three cats that accompany the old woman who comes to the park once a week or so. The cats, a calico, a marmalade tom, and a white tom, are bigger and smarter than your average cat. And the woman is more magical than the average old woman with a shopping buggy.

She had seven different walking routes. One for each day of the week. Since today was Monday, she would go through the park and then towards downtown. The calico Jack rode in her buggy, perched atop the odds and ends that were too important to leave home. The marmalade, Jim, was draped laconically around Hilda's shoulders. He was a heavy bastard, but he was warm. This early in the morning, that made all the difference. Johnnie, with his blue eyes and feathery tail alert, walked beside the Crone as stately as a king.

The woman herself was bent with age. Her elbows rested on the handle of the buggy and she thumbed through a deck of cards. Her head hurt too much to do an actual reading. Hangovers were the worst. Well, not the worst, she amended. Customers who didn't pay were the worst. If she could curse them with the liver pox, she would. Probably twice. Hangovers, however, were her own fault. And as much brandy as she had last night, she probably had the liver pox from it too. Maybe, she thought with a sly grin, even twice.

Rheumy blue eyes traveled over her cart and took inventory one more time. She wasn't sure she didn't take anything out last night and she didn't trust herself to have done a proper inventory earlier in the morning. Water bottle, check. Water bottle full of vodka, check. Wand, hidden under the cat. Cats, one two three check. Cat toys, check. Cat food, yep. Crystal ball, check. Ebony ball, check. Tarot cards, yes. tea pot and tea leaves, yes. Lamp, yes. Pillows, yes, and blanket too. Hat if it gets much colder, umbrella when it rains this afternoon, and the bag of bones she'll need for the two faced gentleman later this morning. Or would it be evening? Hilda's step faltered and her brow furrowed. Did it matter when he'd show up? No. Stop trying to be Miss Fancy, or you'll pay for it during your nap, missy. She often chided herself using her mother's terms. Her mother was long dead and good riddance. Now where was she...oh yes, the comic book for the boy on the corner...and muggle money to buy a biscuit later. That was everything, wasn't it? No...there was the cardboard box with the knick knacks. Must never forget the knick knacks, dear....

Inventory done, she resumed her slow pace and kept thumbing her cards. Jack of hearts...jack of hearts, why was he so important? Was it the Ace that ruled that house? No it was the queen. The king of hearts was dead, the joker had run off, and the ten was just another, smaller queen lurking...but these were just playing cards, not people...

Maeow! Johnnie issued a challenge to a person, demanding in his cat way to be petted. Hilda stopped so the cat wouldn't be left behind. She was courteous like that sometimes.
He did a lot of walking lately.

It was probably the only thing keeping him sane, really. Before his daughters had been kidnapped, he had worked out daily in his little work-out room. Since? He hadn't had the chance, and it hadn't really hit him that he was still getting some exercise in and it was likely still partly stress relief as much as it was partly trying to find answers.

Right now was certainly both reasons, though the latter reason was only in that he was trying to think. He couldn't figure out where to go from here. Teague had been looking for the bastard who had faked or at least planted the photographs Trevor had received for at least a month, which really wasn't surprising. The bloke might be doing it as often as he could, but how often was often when someone was lord of the land? The exact reason he'd stepped down and left someone in his place. In hindsight, he could have chosen better. He needed Teague, after all. But whom did he trust? No one else, and even the trust he had in Teague was slipping since there had been no leads to prove his claims that the photos were faked. The fact he could potentially have been duped still grated him. It had caused him to build that wall even if he was still utilizing Teague. That was all he could do now: use people as he had before. Get what he needs, then isolate. Hell, isolate as much as possible while getting what is needed. That had been the start of the end of the road for him, after all: allowing himself to get close to people, to start making connections that led to the closest degree of trust Trevor could give. It had started with Morgana, grown with Layla, was stoked by Sienna, blossomed with Katya, and had been groomed by Teague.

But this was it. He had to cut people out again. He had to go with cold, hard facts instead of feeling. He had to kill without remorse if needed, if it could help him gain the reputation needed to make people give him answers. He had to think tactically, be constantly aware of his surroundings. Everything, as before. He had to find that place where emotions weren't possible. It was just hard this time. He hadn't let go of hope yet. It was fading, but it was still there, and it was hurting him. It was hindering him.

Finding Quintos had been sheer accident, and the man had been useful, but he was an addict and he was giving him reason to hang onto hope, hope that he would eventually get answers.


The sound made Trevor jump. Way to be aware of your surroundings, he scolded himself with a scowl. Then, remembering the facade he had been using with this face, Trevor quickly allowed himself to adopt the naive, doe-eyed look with that stupid, ridiculous hint of a smile and knelt down to pet the white cat that had demanded his attention. "Hey there," he said as he did so, though he stood. He resisted the urge to wipe the dander off on his pants as he looked around and his eyes fell on the old hag.

Of course there would be a person here. Of course this cat couldn't be a well-fed stray who had wandered a little too far from the nearby-ish neighborhood today.

"Morning," he said. It was what people did. Usually. He wasn't too certain what people typically did in the case of finding a crazy cat lady with a wheeled basket holding some strange belongings before her and a cat draped around her. Maybe he should just keep walking. Yes, that's what he should do. Keep walking.

Trevor began to take a step away.
Flying, he decided, was the best way to clear one head of useless not important things and gain a new perspective on life. To reflect on things learned without the pressures of human trappings. It offered a true degree of freedom and an escape from all the chains the ground seemed destined to wrap around the unsuspecting. A lazy flap of small wings to guide his form into a warm updraft was all that was needed to reach a state where he could simply glide.

It had been another long sleepless night in a line of long sleepless nights, but this one had finally paid off. The tacker had found the slimy rat that had passed doctored photo’s on to Trevor in an attempt to frame him. It had taken a great deal of restraint on his part not to outright torture the life out of the man, but currently, the target had more value alive than dead and Teague didn’t want to show his hand to early. It just wasn’t his stye. Perhaps Trevor would want to deal with him... Then again perhaps not, and if that was the case the tracker knew he could find this one again and take him out with ease.

The hard part now was to find his friend… former friend? Frenemie? Enemy of my Enemy? To be honest the tracker wasn’t sure where they stood anymore. Teague knew he spoke true when he’d said he was on Trev’s side and would be till the bitter end, but that didn’t mean the other man current believed it. Fah, things had been much easier under Voldemort. All blacks and whites, none of this shades of grey bull-shit. Maybe they’d all just gone soft.

He didn’t know how long he stayed in the air just that after a time his wings started to feel heavy. Conveniently there was a park just ahead that would most likely offer a place for a small bird to rest. Dodging some of the bigger pigeons, the sparrow eventually landed on one of the lower branches of a smallish tree and ruffled his feathers before settling in for a bit. It was then that he took stalk in his surroundings and noticed some old hag with 3 furballs (shudder) of various colors and a man that had reached down to pet one. It was times like these that the tracker wished his animal form had been a dog. The chaos that would ensue if that had been the cause had the tracker laughing, or would have if birds could laugh.

Figuring he had nothing better to do for the moment the sparrow settled in to an age old habit of his, and began people watching.
Hilda glanced at the young man without really seeing him. What he looked like wasn't important to her as much as what his future held. He was a thundercloud of possibilities and, as much as she hated her abilities, she was intrigued to see what such a tumultuous man's future would be. The clearest thing on him was worry. He hid that well enough in his body language. It wasn't any normal ability that alerted her to her potential client's problems, but her extra special, oh so hated, detestable gift. She'd need two bottles of scotch tonight, if he really was as destiny laden as he seemed.

"Fulcrum of destiny...."

She muttered rather than speaking clearly. He needed her help, she could see that now. She hated when they needed her help. It made her feel obligated and then there was the morality of taking payment when she KNEW that their future depended on her...this is exactly why I prefer muggles... Jim lifted his head to stare at the man. Jackie-girl, too, stood and revealed Hilda's wand in an effort to sniff at the stranger who was already backing away from her and her assortment of wizardry. Smart as kneazles, they were...could smell a wizard five paces off. Maybe that's why Johnnie took a shine to him in the first place.

Hilda threw off all pretenses as all three cats focused on the stranger. If he really was going to back away like this, there was one important piece of advice he needed to hear. He could get the rest later because she had no intentions of throwing bones at seven in the morning in a muggle park, didn't matter no how what great need he had of guidance.

"They won't be found with normal means, no sir. Dem bones may be your only chance. See me later at nine-ish?...you got a pen to take an address?"

She handed him the eight of hearts and frowned at the card. The Heart House included vulnerability, childhood, love, and emotions. The eight was a power number. Eights sought control...control was taken from him and his emotions have become vulnerable, haven't they? Nobody should use children this way...nobody. Hilda still wasn't going to let him get away without payment, but she'd feel good about helping this one...maybe.

"Flat 13B...Brenthouse Road, dear...and bring a bottle for payment. Scotch or whiskey, there's a good lad."

She turned back to her bereft deck and started pushing her cart away again. Johnnie meow'd a farewell to his new friend and kept walking with his mistress. There would be others to greet later, after all.
Trevor glanced back as he heard the woman mutter something. Perhaps he should have ignored her and kept going, but he didn't. It allowed her just enough time to get in a sentence that caught his attention. "They won't be found with normal means, no sir." Trevor's eyes furrowed. How did she know? She couldn't. He looked different. Reddish hair to his normal browns, slightly fuller face, different nose, different eyes... How? Trevor felt conflicting emotions. On the one hand, he wanted to kill her. He wanted to take out his wand and kill her with the killing curse simply for potentially having deciphered his identity. The other side wanted to let her live...for now. She knew something. Correction, she might know something. But that meant he needed to know what she knew.

So, Trevor took the card from the crazy old bat then took out the quill he kept with him and wrote down the address. Trevor stood there as she began to walk away, his attention on the card. It was a few moments later he realized something. It was seven in the morning. "Wait!" he called out, taking a few steps after the old lady. "Is that two hours from now or fourteen?"
The sparrow continued to watch as the old woman and man appeared to speak with each other, or rather the woman speak and the man not say much of anything. Though it did look like whatever she had said had grabbed the man’s attention. Interesting… He took to the air for a few short seconds to find a perch that was still out of the cat’s range in case they though he might make a good snack, yet close enough to potentially hear what was going on between the two persons of current interest.

The one way conversation however was proving to be rather dull. She was giving an address and telling the man to fetch a bottle as payment for who knew what. Perhaps they knew each other and family issues were at hand and they were going to have a meal together. Or maybe the man was simply helping her out with something and they didn’t know each other. The sparrow hopped around a bit on his perch before settling into a more comfortable position, feathers ruffled a bit in an effort to stay warm.

The man’s outburst about not knowing if there designated meeting time would have had the tracker laughing. How did the man not know what she meant? It hadn’t even occurred to the tracker that it was still reasonably early in the day. In fact it wasn’t hard at all to lose track of time when he transformed. Even so it had peaked his curiosity. What could the woman want with the man if the man had no idea when he was supposed to meet said woman? It was an interesting question but did he really have time to seek out its answer? He should be out trying to find Trevor and at the very least sending an owl to him or Delilah… on the same coin he was rather tired after a long night and this little side event could potentially be a great way to unwind…
(OOC note, none of this was planned, but a beautiful accident)

Hilda stopped at the man's question, but she didn't turn to look at him. His face was supposed to be familiar to her, but she didn't recognize it all. She mulled over his question; Two was a small number, a weak number. Ace was either low or high...a low Ace was the one, a high Ace the fourteen...he asked for misfortune or fortune, but she drew an eight for him earlier, which meant...

Aces and eights. The dead man's hand. Gravest misfortunes will follow him. Hilda was tempted to say 'two' to give him a better chance of avoiding sorrows, but the bones sometimes lied when the sun showed upon them. Her intuition, which had not failed her for decades, said that for his question the bones needed the night. That meant fourteen. Aces and eights. Dead man's hand.

Hilda's gnarled hands gripped the cart as a fit took over her. She hated the fits. Hated the cryptic words, the not knowing what she said, the stunned expressions and hushed whispers that came about her. Drunkenness kept the fits at bay, but she was sober now, wasn't she? Oh yes.The last thing she heard as trembling overtook her was the fading yowl of one of the cats.


Her vision and hearing faded back in and she staggered a little, leaning against the shopping cart. A heavy breath drew in and blew out before the hag had regained her composure.

"There...that answer for ya, sir?" There was a bitterness in her voice. Seeing didn't hurt physically, but she hated it so much that it wasn't ever pleasant. The visuals she would have tonight would most likely slue her in to whatever it was that she had Seen. God help her. God help them all, what with Aces and eights...
Trevor's eyes widened a bit as the woman seemed to change. She looked as though she expected it with the way she suddenly gripped her cart, yet it was quite clear from her cats' behavior and her own movements that she wasn't in control. Her voice was different, she was clearly seeing. Wasn't she? What if this was a set-up like the photos? Only...he had changed his face since then. No longer was it the same as the first he had used after fleeing. No one knew, did they? No one. Only Julian aside from himself. This had to be real or a damn good fake looking for an easy way to score some alcohol one poor fool at a time. Worse ways of living.

"Y-yeah..." Trevor replied as the woman came back to herself, sounding almost spiteful to him. Perhaps it was just the aftermath of seeing, a reflection of its toll on her. In that case, he better make sure he bought a damn good bottle of whisky to see to it she had the edge taken off. "See you at nine!" He waved awkwardly as he staggered off, his eyes on her for the first couple steps before he began to walk off a bit more normally. He needed food and he needed something to occupy him until it was time to meet with the woman again.

Hilda returned to pushing her cart, completely ignoring the man with whom she'd just made an appointment. She'd see him again, so why look at him now? Her grumpy countenance didn't break even under the petulant whining of her cats. Were they geting hungry? Should she stop them to give them a bite? Fine. She could use a sit-down anyway.

With a groan, she maneuvered to a bench and eased into the seat. With great care, she laid out a pillow case and set three silver bowls down on it, placed a hand full of kibble in each, and then just relaxed. Her cats would finish in a quarter of an hour. She had that long to sit. Her next meeting would take place soon. Either he'd be bold and come while the cats ate or he'd keep watching. Either way, Hilda had time to wait. A chill breeze played through the park, so she drew her shawl more tightly around her. Gone were the days she could just sit in a tea shop in Diagon and give fortunes and enjoy life. No, the mighty have fallen. Will always fall. How many tomorrows will come before this generation's giants are felled by the axe of fickle fame? Likely, not too many if the government kept tripping over itself in an effort to be scary.

Posturing, all of it. It didn't take a Seer to see that the ministry was ass over teapot into things they barely had control over. Werewolves, vampires (she shuddered at the thought of them), goblins, muggles...all were snapping and trying to take a bite out of the upstanding and decent wizarding folk who were caught between doing what was right and doing what the government said they could do. The fools...banishing muggleborns and mudbloods was only going to reduce the amount of resources they could draw on when the war comes.

Hilda muttered all these thoughts to herself, unaware that she was subvocalizing her thoughts. To any passersby who didn't know better, she was just a crazy cat lady. To any wizards, she was a political dissenter and perhaps even dangerous. Who knew?
Last edited by Hilda Prewett on Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
At first the tracker was worried when the older woman looked like she was going to keel over and die; or at least that’s what it had looked like right up until she spoke. He mannerisms, her tone of voice… it was very similar to the way Julia had looked when she spat out her prophecy? Well now wasn’t that interesting… and perhaps even more interesting was the man’s reaction, though Teague wasn’t certain if the surprise was because of the way the woman acted or if it was because the words she spoke meant something. Either or the man was clearly unsettled.

The sparrow hopped back and forth on its branch and ruffled its feathers as the tracker did everything he could to commit the old woman’s words to memory. Instinct was telling him that it was important, and the tracker had been in the business long enough to know never ignore a gut feeling. But the words themselves were nothing unless he could puzzle out what they meant… but how to do that without scaring the old woman off? It wasn’t like he was going to arrest her or haul her in for interrogation. He wasn’t going to beat it out of her either… that never brought about good results…. Conversation then? That was definitely something he could do without much thought.

He waited for the man to clear out before checking to be sure there was no one else in the area. A small hop and the small sparrow was in the air, slowly drifting toward the ground where a tall, lanky man took its place. Teague shoved his hands in his pockets and headed toward the woman though he kept his pace slow and his posture about as relaxed and non-threatening as he could get.

”Little cool for just sittin’ outside don’t ain’t it?”
”Little cool for just sittin’ outside don’t ain’t it?”

The sudden words, masculine in timbre and tone, startled the hag out of her trance-like state.

"Oh, arr..."

Hilda growled an agreement out at the man who engaged her in conversation. He decided to come while the cats were eating then, did he? She glanced at him. Here was the Lord of the land, hale and hearty for now. That was the key word, now wasn't it? He had some misadventures ahead of him if he were to keep going on this course. Damn him for making her feel obligated to help. Damn this fine mood and damn his eyes! Her uncharitable thoughts made a sour expression that conflicted with her tired body language. She rapped her knuckles on the bench beside her and gave the Lord of Britain a stern command.

"Sit. Yer too damn tall to look up like that. If I'm gonna talk to you I'm gonna do it comfortably, and lord or not, age and wisdom trump."

Yes., she could be thrown into Azkaban for mouthing off. Would he? She didn't see him doing such a thing. She was firm in her meeting later tonight, so whatever happened between now and then wouldn't lead to her staying overnight in that hell hole.
At her insistence to sit he did just that, almost without any thought at all, which if he’d had time to think about it, was really odd considering he was supposed to be the freaking Lord of the land. Maybe it was just because she was several years his senior and if there had been one thing his mum had been good at it was instilling manners into her three boys. Maybe it was the quip she tacked onto the command that brought a smirk to his face and a genuine sparkle of amusement to his eye. Maybe it was because no one had dared talk to him like that for a very long time. Respect for elders. Funny that.

“Aye lass, ya got me on both counts,” he replied with a soft chuckle. How long had it been since he’d just sat and talked with anyone that wasn’t a death eater or a political idiot or someone constantly nipping at his heels to fix a world he wasn’t sure could be fixed? Well, she could be either he supposed, and he really started this whole thing because he was seeking information… but still…

“Who was that?” Teague asked rather bluntly, his curiosity overriding common sense at that moment. He had no plans on pushing for answers since even if see was a seer (which he was 100% sure she was) he wasn’t stupid enough to think she’d have all the answers. That and he’d never been one to put much faith in the art. There were always too many unknowns for the trackers liking.
Humph. A nosey one, was he? Hilda kept a grumpy eye on her cats as they plowed through their morning meal. Jackie looked up and her human while she crunched her kibble; the woman used the cat as a foil for her thoughts while she considered her response. Should she refuse to answer the most powerful wizard in Britain or should she reveal the secret of the most desperate and therefore dangerous man in London? Hilda decided to be rude. It was the safest choice, really.

"And how a lady makes her money is your business, now is it? He's a man who lost something, but not his right to privacy, nosey. Besides, you've got problems enough of your own to worry about, much less other people's."

And then he's going to ask what I mean, and then I the usual blah blah blah, and then he'll ask for a Seeing and I'll do...what'll I do? I'll do a flower reading. That'll be rankling enough, wouldn't it? Hah...I won't even charge him.

Jim finished his bowl of kibble and began rubbing against Hilda's legs. She pet him distractedly, then patted her lap. The cat jumped up and began head butting her chin. Annoying beastie, he was...
The tracker grinned at her rudeness. The woman wore it like armor and It had been a long time since anyone saw fit to tell him where he could go stick his nose. It was more than a little bit refreshing.

”Eh, meant nothing by it but if yer half as good as I think ya might be you’d know I can’t help but be nosey. Kinda fits the job description… well, fit the tracker description anyway.” Teague let out a sigh. ” And I know I got problems. Hell pretty sure I got more than my fair share and I’ll be damned if I can figure out what the hell I can do to solve em, unless you got some ideas. ”

Teague went silent after that figuring it was best not to elaborate unless something she said gave him reason to. Besides, it wasn’t like he knew if she was talking about his current problems or ones he hadn’t even crossed yet. Ah the joys of seers. He leaned back against the bench and settled in as if he was staying for the long haul before letting his eyes rest on the cat closest to him.
The white tom looked back at the tracker and gave a long wink. What the cat meant by it was unknown because he went right back to his food before he could be queried. Hilda stroked her current lap warmer, slightly surprised at the different response. She'd expected the man to have a tight grip on his life, to not see the blindsides all about him. Instead, she got humility and manners, even a joke, from the known supposed death eater. Supposed...hell, he was the Lord, wasn't he? And that was a position handed down among the remnant of Voldemort's followers.

Voldemort...he was a piece of work, wasn't he? So scared of death that he became synonymous with it... And this boy? Trapped up with promises of what could have been and what might still be. Now...what problems could he want solving, this one? Hilda shifted her gaze to the grassy square ahead of them and let her mind drift. Monsters, he had to deal with. Muggles, too. Then the kidnapping, his friend's disappearance, the closeness of his worst enemy, the resurgence of the resistance groups...she decided to settle for a grandmother's advice rather than a Seer's supernatural hokum.

"...go back to what you know. Don't play this game by other people's rules....you wouldn't track a deer by only following the deer's rules, right? You're skilled, but not in politics or the shenanigans you've been caught up in. You have enemies...what's the best way to slip them? By giving them something they don't expect. They see where you are and can only plan for that...if you aren't there...well..."

She left that unspoken. He was a smart enough boy that he could figure it out. He wasn't meant to be Lord...a place holder, honestly, between two baddies. Hilda began to feel a mote of sympathy blossom in her heart for Teague. For her own sake, she squashed it and let it wither. MacTail was a puppet by his own choice, and didn't need her to go lily handed on him. He could step up, step down, or step aside...the future could take care of itself well enough and she knew, she Saw that he wouldn't be Lord long one way or another.
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