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by: Delilah Chase
Friday, 9 March, 2012
10:59 a.m.

There was nothing particularly interesting going on in the barren field just outside Teague's window at Puxley, yet Delilah Chase sat staring out it, her eyes fixated on the tree in the distance that was dancing in the wind. Absently, chewed at the hangnail on her left ring finger, which by this point had been chewed well beyond the point of comfort. The habit had been nixed years ago, Delilah too busy focusing on survival to have time to sit idly and dwell on anxieties.

It had been three days since Teague had left her that bloody awful letter that had told her everything and nothing she didn't know all at once, yet Trevor Williams had not yet contacted her. This meant one of two things: the man was dead or the man had bloody well gone off his rocker despite her singular effort to prevent it. Granted, he had derailed all her plans with his own vanishing act and the responsibilities he had practically thrown into her lap. Perhaps he had done it on purpose to keep her from being able to meddle, and if so? Well, job well done, sir! Job well done to ensure your damned demise! And MacTail? Job well done nailing the coffin shut. She sure as hell had very few hours in which to dedicate any time to the task she'd been assigned before coming back here.

Delilah stood abruptly and walked over to the window and slammed the shutters closed. She rested her forearm against the cool, rough wood and her head next to it. Her forehead rested on the wood a few moments before she leaned her head against her forearm and looked over toward the fireplace on the far end of Teague's office. The fire crackled and popped, its light casting dancing shadows on the brick walls.

Delilah's eyes closed tightly, fighting against the tears that stung her eyes and she pushed herself away from the wood, hitting it hard enough her hand stung both with pain at the impact and the splinters which found their way in. She barely registered the scream of frustration as she hit the wooden shutter. She stared at her throbbing hand, its redness obscured by the darkness of the section of the room in which she stood.

"Why!" she screamed, not caring that anyone passing by outside the office might hear her outburst. Puxley was mostly empty these days. The servants minded their own at her request for them to leave her be at her post, and the secretary downstairs and the Guards posted here did well to detour any visitors for Lord MacTail.

Delilah stormed to Teague's desk and threw herself down into the chair, pouting as she crossed her arms. It might be petty and childish, but she felt about as powerful as one so why not act it? Both men had tied her hands, leaving her void of the power she had fought so hard to gain in her life, power she had vowed no man would ever take from her again. "Damn them both," she muttered.

Delilah had spent the past four days here in this office, ensuring Hunt couldn't simply venture in without her being unaware. She had spent the first day searching Teague's office to see what he might have hidden that was sensitive, and even if she had found nothing, it was the principal itself that kept her here. She couldn't right well abandon her post now, could she? No. Even if these damned men thought they could willy nilly abandon their own all for the sake of two very little, unimportant children, she very well had to be the responsible one. Just as she always had had to be until that one damned little boy and her wayward, infatuated heart went and ruined her life with all that sweet talk and promises that she should have known were too good to be true.

Delilah tilted her head back and screwed her eyes shut again against the emotion that swelled in her heart. It killed her what she was going to have to do. Trevor had never showed at Teague's house near the first ward the past few nights nor had he shown here. And she couldn't very well abandon her own post. No, she was going to have to put all her faith in the hands of the Winslow man-boy. She was going to have to go see Julian in the safe house tonight. And she was going to have to take him to Teague's house and hope his love for Williams would be enough to bring them to success despite all these unexpected kinks in her straightforward plan. Not to mention that all his powers were tied to Runes. Runes! Winslow wasn't even a proper wizard, and that did nothing for her nerves.

Delilah's eyes returned to the fire then flicked to the window just feet away from the edge of the fireplace. She stood, taking time to slam shut every window on her way to that one taking away from the fire that burned in the hearth of the old fireplace. Delilah stopped then and walked across the large room to the table she knew held the alcohol. She didn't even remember what Teague kept here in the decanter, but it hardly mattered. She just needed something to take the edge off. She didn't want to be drunk, just buzzed, just relaxed. She needed to think, and that could hardly happen when her brain itself felt so tense inside her skull.
The first two days were maddening. Days of waiting, spent trying to get past the wards Teague had in place to no avail. By night, he had returned to his own place exhausted and steadily more defeated. Pride and determination had kept him fighting two more days, but a bad snippy reaction toward an honest question from Julian this morning had made him realize enough was enough. Despite his own troubles and issues, the kid was still a kid and the only allie he had in all this. He was not stupid enough to realize that how he treated him could very well change how the older one felt about him, and keeping him where he was was important. Not that his abhorrence at his actions this morning was solely planted in tactics. No, he genuinely cared about the kid. He had grown on him in a way Trevor had not expected, and it scared him. Needless to say, his quiet apology this morning before he slipped away had been genuine.

Trevor had contemplated going to seek Prynne's help, but as of yet, Prynne's assistance had not proven useful, and their arrangement was not such that he felt the need to drop in on the man. They had their understanding, and that was what Trevor had to rely on until proven otherwise. Instead, Trevor had chosen The Leaky Cauldron. Whilst sitting at the corner table, he had downed a coffee merely for something to do that seemed normal as he sat and contemplated his course of action. He had all but alienated all his allies that remained. Cora hardly seemed a wise option for what he needed to do. He needed someone topside that could help Delilah in a pinch even if his gut told him having a second person might be helpful in finding Teague, but she was too close to the situation given her and Teague's former, though brief, connection. It might be over now, but he knew enough about emotions to know it unwise. It was bad enough he, Teague's friend, was going in, but he knew how to focus his emotions. Cora did, too, he was sure, but she was a woman, and Trevor was taking no unnecessary risks. All that left was Sienna, and though he loved her, he knew her strengths. The bit he had to do underground was not her forte. Were the fight topside with allies, he could see it, but this? No, he had to keep her far from this.

That eliminated any potential help he could muster together and left only one problem: Julian. Julian was much too young and emotional to leave alone, especially when Trevor knew he might not return from this alive. So, that was a loose end that needed tying up before he left, and it was something he knew Sienna could help him with. Surely, she could and would. He hadn't exactly spent time with her since abdicating. He had abandoned her and left her as much in the dark as he had everyone else with his brief letters merely handing them the powers he needed them to have in his absence. His brief note to her had hardly been adequate, he was sure. But he'd had to eliminate all distractions, and though it was hard, it was still easier than it ought to have been to avoid seeing her. He knew he would be weak keeping her steadily in the picture, and that would distract from what he needed to do. He could be around Sienna again after. It was one of the two goals he was working toward. The girls' freedom was of utmost importance followed by a reunion with Sienna. Hopefully she didn't hate him. He had only one way to find out. So, after finishing his coffee, he left for Diagon Alley to send an owl to her and then he headed to the final meeting he had to make.

Trevor had been dreading this moment. Delilah Chase had made an impression in their few interactions since her arrival in this time. He knew her to be no nonsense and reliable, and he knew she would be cross with him, but Teague had left him no choice. His wards were solid, and Trevor saw no way in aside from what Teague had stated in his letter: Delilah. She was included in the wards, more trusted than Trevor himself apparently. Or perhaps Teague was looking out for him. Whatever the case, his hands were tied and he had no choice but to rely on another person. It was enough to be maddening.

The only way Trevor had arrived in Puxley moments later was thanks to his previous tenure there as Lord during which he had learned secret passages and other useful information on the chance he needed to make quick escape. He had also set back-up wards of his own. It had been the only way Trevor had been able to ensure lack of easy escape or entrance for potential enemies. But as soon as he had entered, Trevor had the arduous task of sneaking past guards to his old office. Sienna's old office had been just next door and surely was where Delilah had made her home in his absence. Surely.

Old training had kicked in as he snuck through the halls of the upper floor of Puxley, waiting until the last possible second to silently cast a body bind curse so he could catch the guard and gently set him down then sneak past. Of course, he had to take the time to drag the bodies into an unused office to ensure a guard coming upstairs did not find a bound guard and immediately become alerted. Certainly, the absence of guards ought to alert them, but with no lord to protect, would they be so quick to become alarmed?

He made no effort to open the door to the side office quietly. Whoever was inside would not be likely to be sitting with wand at the ready. When he entered and found no one, he headed directly to the door that connected his office to this one and entered. Though the room was dark, he saw the female silhouette across the room standing with one arm crossed and the other's elbow perched as the arm held what was likely a glass. There was only one person he could imagine it to be.

"Take me."
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by: Delilah Chase
Delilah stared into the fire as she sipped then absently continued to hold the glass up as she allowed herself to simply go blank. She needed this. However, the sound of the door opening and the subsequent male voice, made Delilah jump back to reality. The glass dropped and shattered in the process, and Delilah's right hand scrambled to pull her wand from her holster. The figure across the room, outlined only by the light from the room he stood in, held his hands up. "It's me," he said.

The voice was unmistakably impatient and unmistakably Trevor, but Delilah couldn't see. Was this a trick? A few quick flicks of her wand and the window shutters were open again just long enough for Delilah to see a face that conflicted with the signal her ears had sent her and the connection her brain had made as a result. She went from somewhat calm to hostile in a moment's time, her wand pointed and her body squared toward the man she quickly approached. He was surprisingly easy to pull and push against the wall beside the doorway. In fact, he gave no fight. "Who are you?"

"It's me," the voice replied boredly as his features began to melt into the ones she expected. It was almost off-putting to watch, but it provided the confirmation Delilah needed. It wasn't someone like Hunt simply throwing his voice. This was Trevor Williams, devoted father who had thrown away everything just for the girls that had been taken from him. It would be sweet if Delilah didn't think it so stupid a thing to do.

"Merlin, Trevor. What are you doing here?" she breathed as she let him go.

Trevor walked into the side office to a mirror, spelling the shutters shut before he did so and walked to the mirror. He lit is wand, and Delilah leaned against the door frame as he watched him change his features back to the ones he had when he had entered. "You know very well," he said as he focused on the task at hand.

"I do, but why here? It's not safe for you here."

"It's not safe for me anywhere," he replied as he turned to face her and flicked his wand to open the shutters again. Delilah assumed he wanted to see her face. The man was almost eerie in how he studied faces. For all the confidence he exuded, this was the one trait that revealed itself around those he at least somewhat trusted that revealed his oft-hidden insecurities.

"It's certainly safer at Teague's cabin," Delilah replied pointedly.

"I've been there," he replied. "And we should go there. We can finish this there."

Trevor began to reach out for her, but Delilah pulled her arm away. "Not so fast," she told him. She knew better than to simply grant him what he wanted: a quick in to Teague's cabin so he could get what he wanted and leave. "Where have you been?"


"Doing what?"

"Looking for my girls."

Delilah rose a brow.

"You don't believe me."

Delilah snorted. At least she didn't have to say it. "Why should I? Teague's been busy doubling as your little puppet yet still found a way in, and now he's likely got himself caught and for what? For you?" Trevor looked taken aback, but she still continued. "I'm beginning to think we're better off without you. Perhaps that's why everything got so fucked up, you know? All of us focusing on finding you, wasting time and resources better spent defusing the likes of Hunt and this Sullivan bloke!" Trevor opened his mouth to talk, but Delilah held up a finger. "Un-uh. You don't get to speak. If Teague had been looking for the Syndicate and not for your damned children you can't seem to keep safe, maybe he would have been smart about it."
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by: Trevor Williams
Being yelled at was something Trevor was unaccustomed to. In fact, aside from lover's spats with Morgana, Evie, or Sienna, he had had no one dare to do so much as look at him crossly in years. He had made a reputation for himself as Voldemort's assassin, and it had followed him. Until now, it seemed. Or perhaps Chase simply didn't care. It was hard to tell. The him she claimed to know, however, sounded a shell of who he was today, someone who wouldn't care or hurt at the final sentence she uttered. It hurt on more levels than Trevor cared to admit. Feelings had been foreign for so long but were now second nature. To have a family and a wife or mate had left him prone to such pesky things. Love, as Voldemort had stated, was a weakness. So was caring at all. "...damned children you can't seem to find safe..." Blaming him for not only his daughters' kidnapping but also his only friend's own potential demise or circumstance.

"You think I wanted any of this?" Trevor demanded, his features heated, narrower. He barely registered the fact he was walking toward Chase until she backed up and stepped out of his path. He stopped then, but his voice remained raised. "You think I wanted Teague to look for my girls? or for them to be kidnapped in the first place?" He scoffed. "Why do you think I put him in this position? Why do you think I put you by his side? Tell me!" Chase didn't answer. Nor did he for a few moments as they stared at each other, eyes locked and neither willing to look away or speak first.

After the moments stretched by for what he deemed far too long, Trevor broke the silence. "I wanted him busy, so busy he couldn't help me, and I wanted you there to make sure he wouldn't. I wanted to make sure things kept working in my absence, and I wanted no one to have time to care I was gone. You say everything broke down because I went crazy. I was trying to make sure they didn't no matter what happened to me."

Chase rose a brow and crossed her arms, clearly unconvinced. "And you didn't think, not even once, that someone cared about you enough to do what it took to brought you back?"

She paused, but Trevor chose not to butt in. The truth was he hadn't. And he especially hadn't when he had left. Someone had made it seem Teague had been behind it all. He'd thought Teague wouldn't care, and he'd wanted to pay him back for every little bit of pain he'd thought he'd caused him by putting him in a position he knew he'd hate, and he wanted to put someone who would ride his ass into submission to the fact he had to carry the load so he wouldn't have time to hunt him down and stop him from searching for him to stop him from getting his children back. But Chase didn't need to know that.

"Well, you should have considered it. He's a bloody tracker, and he used it to try to find your girls so you would come back. Just so happened he found this group in the middle of it. Perhaps if you'd stayed he'd still be here, and you two would be working together to plan how to safely get down there and get back with your girls. You need numbers, but now neither of you have them or will be able to get them."

"Merlin, do you ever shut up?"

"Excuse me?"

"I've had enough of this emotional bullshit. You want the truth? The truth is I wanted Teague to suffer when I left, and I knew you'd make him suffer through this position. But you made a botch job of it. You want someone to blame? Blame yourself for not keeping a tighter leash on him. You seemed like someone who was going to crack the whip and keep him from being able to look for me and stop me because, you know what? People were manipulating me. And I figured if you didn't do the job? Hunt would. Because Hunt obviously has something to hide and would have to be stopped. But no. No, you and Hunt both failed to intrigue and control him, so damn it all, Teague is wherever Teague is. Safe? Dead? Alive but captured? Who the bloody hell knows?! And who cares?! It is what it is right now, and I've now got to worry about finding him and my girls all at once, and the only way I'm going to get down there and save him while you hopefully manage not to let Hunt botch up everything we all fought for is if you take me to his flat and let me in so I can grab the blooming map and other goods he left me. So, shut up and just get your job done."
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by: Delilah Chase
Delilah could feel her fists ball as she glared at Trevor. She felt livid, and after only a split second's thought, she walked the few steps to him and slapped him. She felt a strange sense of satisfaction as he stared at her in shock. It seemed even this lord of the land had no balls. Having children, it changed you, it seemed. The man she had heard tales of would not have simply stood there. The man she'd heard tales of would have reacted instantly. She'd have had no wits left about her, and he would have had the upper hand. "Now," she said, "I can let this," she indicated the room around her, though it was quite clear she meant more than just this room or this building, "all go to hell and spend my time rescuing Teague while Hunt topples everything you worked for or you can show me the respect I deserve, Trevor. Which will it be?"

Delilah could tell Trevor wanted to say something back, but like a good boy, he said nothing. She had to refrain from the grin that wanted to come. She hadn't felt this good in a while. It was plain and simple schadenfreude, but she didn't care. She finally had the upper hand in a situation, and while it meant the man she had been sent back to save had been knocked off whatever pedestal she'd been given the indication he deserved to be on, it mattered little. He needed to be put in his place and realize his own vulnerabilities. He wasn't a god. He wasn't invincible. And, quite frankly, he'd made some stupid mistakes. It was high time he learned this.

"Very good," she said, giving Trevor's shoulder a pat. She was pushing it, and she knew it. But he needed to be angry. He needed to be angry for reasons other than his daughters being taken from him. He had to focus on something other than that or he wasn't going to succeed, and both he and Teague would both be goners if Teague already wasn't. "Now, c'mon." Delilah grabbed Trevor's arm and with a pop, they vanished from the office and reappeared in the familiar forest.

Trevor jerked his arm away from Delilah, but she paid him no mind. He could pout and be childish if he wanted. "Man up, Trevor," she told him.

"I beg your pardon?"

"You heard me," she replied. "Man up. You need to find who you were to succeed, and you are not going anywhere near that cabin and that powder or those books until you man up." His stare made her shake her head. "You can't see it, can you? You're not focused. You're anything but strong. You think you're ready to go down and face this group, take your daughters back, take Teague back. Maybe you think Teague's hiding out down there waiting, that he'll be able to help it. But I wouldn't count on that, Trevor. He's down for the count, and that's what you have to believe. In fact, I know that's what you know deep down, but you're hoping. You're hoping he's alive and well as well as your girls, but you know what? You have to be prepared for the possibility that none of them are. You have to be prepared for the worst disaster you can imagine, and you have to be ready to handle it. And you know what?"

Delilah was sure the beat she paused felt like an eternity to Trevor. "You aren't ready for that. I can see it all over you. Your posture screams defeated. Your lack of responses? Defeated. The attitude? Defeated. You're hang hanging onto what independence and anger you can muster, but that isn't much and it certainly isn't enough. You are going to die down there, Trevor. Do you hear me? You are going to die if I let you down there like this. But lucky for you someone still gives a damn about you."
Silence reigned for far longer than Trevor had the wherewithal to grasp. Time seemed irrelevant, both entirely too slow and too fast all at once. All he knew was they stood there in a stare down like two school children afraid to make the first punch for far too long. While Cora might be on his side, trying to figure out what Teague knew, the fact of the matter was that only Delilah could get him or Cora inside this place. Teague had spelled it in such a way that it would happen that way.

"But they sure as hell don't trust me," Trevor said, his voice raw with realization. How was he supposed to succeed if he didn't even have that? Trust--such a hard thing to gain yet so easy to lose. Trevor exhaled slowly and shook his head. "I don't know what to do, Chase. I don't know where to begin or who to use. I have an allie, but...." He sighed again and his eyes found the brunette's face once more. "Is it really that bad? Do I really need an army?"

Delilah was silent a few moments, and Trevor watched her, aware she was trying to find words. "Don't sugar coat it."

"The Trevor I heard tell of, the one who led a coup, who took control of the Death Eaters from another man and a country? That Trevor Williams could do this. Regardless of how bad Teague made it sound, that man could have done it. But if Teague is captured... Teague, the capable tracker. Teague, the self-confident, resourceful, cheeky bastard got himself captured? There's more than we expect waiting down there, and we need to feel it out, to be able to swoop in and take control. But can we? You and Teague aren't the only bastards paranoid enough to ward premises, and your regime doing what it did? It multiplied that number exponentially. The Order put in mazes, a moving safe house. For all we know, these people have disabling wards about them in case anyone discovered them."

"He mentioned a powder."

Delilah nodded. "He did. That he did, but we have to assume he used some, too, and he still was caught despite it. They'd be stupid to have something like a Floo system set up down there without any safe guards."

Trevor groaned a quiet, guttural groan and shook his head. "You're right, of course. And we'd have to assume he left just enough. I doubt they would simply carry a gallon on them at any given time."

"Yep," Delilah replied and crossed her arms, her right foot slightly in front pushing around a little dirt. "Listen," she said after a short pause and Trevor looked at her. "I need to know your head's in the game before we go in there. I need to know I can trust you not to fuck this up, and as much as I don't like it because it will keep Teague waiting, this means time."

"So, you brought me here to taunt me?"

Rage flashed in Trevor's eyes as Delilah lowered herself to a squatting position to pick up a twig. She rose to her full height and began to pull at the bark. "You could say that or you could realize I brought you here to help you."

"How is telling me you're going to wait to take me inside helping me?" He took a step toward her.

Delilah finished peeling a strip of bark and tossed it then the stick aside before looking at Trevor and squaring her shoulders. "If you go down there right now, Trevor, and one of them grabs one of your daughters for protection, you're just as likely to not have enough wherewithal to stop yourself as you would to put your wand down on demand and end up captured yourself."

"And if I wait a few days, they could be dead when I get there."

"It's been nearly three months, Trevor. If they're going to be dead, they're already dead and gone and their bodies burned or buried. Even if they were barbarians awaiting some rash arrival, their skulls would be all that remained on the pikes. But let's face it, they're revolutionaries and they're not desperate. If things are as I suspect, they're exploring other avenues since you disappeared rather than responded to their initial outreaches, whatever those may have been. You didn't give in to demands, and therefore, the girls are now useless, but that doesn't mean they were stupid and rash enough to dispose of them." She took a breath. "No, Trevor, I anticipate they're alive and well just in case. Because you're still alive and they know it even if they have no idea where you are or where you've been--assuming you've been careful enough to avoid being found."
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by: Delilah Chase
Delilah could tell she was pissing Trevor off. His fists were balled, his nostrils were flared, and his brows were raised to the point even the one that was lower than the other seemed almost even with the other. From what she knew of Trevor's glory days, Delilah realized she should be scared, but the fact was, if he could best her right now, her confidence in him would increase one hundred fold. He seemed to be keeping himself in check or holding himself back for the time being. He made no move toward her nor any effort to speak. Perhaps he realized the truth sometimes hurt and he would simply have to take this to get to the ends he wanted. Perhaps she'd need to fear for her life later, but then, that would be ideal. It would mean in some twisted way that she had succeeded at the mission she and Julian had been sent back to do. If Trevor became stronger rather than weaker, that was a good thing. If Trevor came out of this on top, then there was a chance for their society and their future. There was a chance the world would not go to hell, that the world would not be set on a path to the next ice age and eventual human extinction.

"Teague's the closest I've had to a friend in years, Trevor. He seems to be the closest thing you've got, too. He cares about you and, by proxy, your children. He wants you back in the game, and he knows you need them back to get there. We need to expose this group just as much as we need Teague and your girls back. But from what I see, you're not the man to do it. You're not a one-man army, and you have obvious weaknesses, all of which this Syndicate controls right now. I can't let you go alone, but we cannot afford for me to go down with you. All I know is that you have to come out on top or dead if we're to have any affect on the future, and I'd rather it be the prior--not the latter. We need a good leader, someone with a good eye for detail, and as I understand it, when you were driven for the cause, you were sharp. You were formidable. I need that. We need that. And we need someone smooth-talking who will prevent what happens."

"You know, you keep alluding to something bad happens. You keep alluding and I keep asking only to get vague answers. What exactly happens?"

"You know I can't tell you."

"If you want to change something, then we have to know what we're up against and where to strike."

"I'm working on that angle. Of course, the one person I need to help with matters is taken."

"Can't you at least hint? I know I'm good for nothing then, but what happens? Do my girls die?"

Delilah sighed. "I have no idea on that front, Trevor. You weren't really a huge player in the future. You were too far gone. Doesn't exactly tell me if they're dead or if they're alive, if they're on our side or not, or what happened."

Trevor looked away. It was obvious he didn't like that answer, and the look in his eyes was now one of fear as he looked back to Delilah. "Fair enough," he said tersely. "But what happened in the bigger picture?"

Delilah never realized how much noise a forest made until that moment. She could hear the wind through the leaves of the trees, the sound of birds whistling, small cracks of twigs as animals walked over them. It was peaceful noise, yet it was noise all the same. Noise enough to keep the silence of her hesitation from being dead silence. "The muggles found out about us, and they were afraid. We're dying, Trevor. We're dying, and it started here. Something changed, something went different with how we handled muggles versus the rest of the world. Perhaps that werewolf attack in London was enough to get people curious enough to do something and accidentally stumble upon us all, but somehow I doubt that was it. That couldn't be the single straw that broke the camel's back. There has to be something deeper."

Trevor nodded. "We used to speak with the Minister. Masters--Masters, he mentioned how dull the check-ins had been with the Prime Minister the few times he'd had to do so as Crane. But we stopped contact when things changed. We didn't want to cause a panic, and why would we want anything to do with muggles? We erased memory from the Prime Minister at the time, but something must have gone wrong. Someone must have...." The man sighed.

Delilah reached out to put a hand on Trevor's shoulder. "I'll figure it out, Trevor. That might give me an idea, but for now, we need to focus on your task. How do I know I can trust you not to buckle under pressure?"

"I have someone on my side, someone waiting for orders."

"Get that person here."

Trevor seemed to hesitate before nodding, and off he sent his Patronus with a message to his contact. Meet me. ASAP. Forest by the cabin.
With a frustrated sigh, Cora pushed the cauldron away from herself and lifted the lamp above her worktable so she could get up without hitting her head. She had been working on a new form of her favorite poison for about a week now, but had yet to come out with a successful batch. If she could find the correct mixture the improved formula would be a quicker-acting version of the same poison she favored, bringing death within 3 seconds of being ingested or being introduced through a wound. As it were, the original formula was quite potent but was slower, taking nearly 20 seconds or sometimes more to cause death and the Dark Lady was all about efficiency. With a mildly disgusted sigh the hit-witch began coating her throwing knives with the poison, her hands moving with an efficiency that showed a long familiarity with poisons and the like. She had just coated the last of her knives and sheathed them in their respective holsters when the wards surrounding her sanctuary alerted her to an odd presence. Turning around to see a familiar patronus Cora quickly went to it and received its message. "It's about damn time..." she whispered, beginning a disciplined routine immediately. Sending her own Raven patronus back to Trevor with a curt message of simply 'Ten minutes. Equipping myself,' she began her preparations.

Turning to the extensive shelves full of poisons, herbal salves, potions, and various devices of her own design Cora quickly gathered supplies for this unknown mission. A clever pouch designed to hold vials was quickly filled with healing potions and strapped onto a worn-but-functional leather belt, quickly followed by another designed to hold what appeared to be glass spheres filled with several colors of swirling gasses, and topped off with two long leather sheaths holding long daggers. Placing her now-filled belt down on the worktable Cora turned and dashed up the glass and steel staircase to what she fondly called her "war-room". Quickly shedding the clothes she had been wearing, the mercenary swiftly pulled on a pair of well-broken-in black soft leather pants, a close-fitting black shirt, and a pair of matte-black leather knee boots. Pulling on a set of black leather bracers she flipped the secret catch to reveal the thieves tools hidden there and ensured that none were broken or missing before closing the latch and concealing them once more. Selecting two slender stiletto daggers from her extensive weapon racks, she slid the matte-black blades into her boot sheaths and grabbed her butter-soft black leather jacket, ensuring her spare wand was concealed in the inner holster. Going back down to her workspace, Cora expertly slid her bandolier of six now poison-coated throwing knives across her chest and strapped the remaining four to the inside of her jacket and finally put on the jacket. Moving quickly she strapped on her belt, ensuring that everything was where it should be and would be easy to reach. Picking up her wand from the table she slid it into the holster on her right thigh and quickly bound up her long raven-black hair in a simple bun to keep it out of her way. Satisfied that she was as prepared as she possibly could be for whatever it was Trevor needed her for, Cora disapparated and reappeared in the forest outside Teague's cabin, exactly ten minutes after her patronus was dispatched.

Scanning the area and satisfied she was in no immediate danger, the Dark Lady met Trevor's gaze with her own steely grey one and raised one delicate brow in a question. "Well?"
"Well," the dark-haired woman said, her arms crossed as she inspected the other woman from head to toe. She wasn't bothering to hide the fact she was sizing the newcomer up, making it clear to Trevor that Delilah had no idea who she had before her. "I can see you have a pretty face, Trevor. She looks capable, but who is she?"

"You might have heard tale of the Dark Lady?" Trevor said, though he wasn't convinced it was even a remote possibility.

Delilah snorted. "I forgot you lot bothered with nicknames," she replied. "But tell me. Why should I believe she's any better than the wannabe hunters I've fought off?" she went on to ask, quirking a brow.

Trevor said nothing to this, trusting Cora would prove her point. It was pretty clear in Trevor's mind that he found the woman worthy of keeping alive. There was no hostility unless Cora chose to perceive Delilah's doubt as such. Trevor couldn't blame her for said doubt. After all, his own mental state was questionable enough as it was. She'd proven to be of readier mind than he and stronger attitude. She'd had spark and fight where he hadn't. Who could blame her for not immediately trusting his judgment in companions he chose?
Cora rolled her eyes at Trevor's introduction. "Not the time for dramatic flair, Trevor," she sighed with some slight annoyance. Fixing the other woman with her cold grey-green stare the hit-witch gave her a cursory inspection and continued. "I am Coraline Larson. I was trained as an assassin for the Dark Lord much the same as Trevor, and I still practice my trade regularly as a mercenary. The potions, gasses, and tools on my belt are all of my own creation, along with several I see no reason to acquaint you with presently." The raven-haired witch's eyes glinted like a predator sizing up her prey as she spoke, though her voice remained level and almost bored. "I assume you must be Delilah Chase, since there are precious few people Trevor here would allow to speak to him in that tone and since you are here you obviously have our way into MacTail's place."

Cora took a moment for her introduction to process, carefully watching the woman's features for her reaction. "As for my qualifications... If you are indeed Chase, I'm certain you are aware of the sudden frenzied movements of several minor resistance groups over the last few months, almost like a hornet's nest was kicked? If you read the papers I'm sure you've also seen the reports and speculation about 4 recent massacres of suspected rebel groups with no leads on any suspects. One in Germany, one in Russia, one in Thailand, and one in South Africa? Those were my doing," she added, her demeanor showing no signs of bragging but remaining calm and cool as though simply reciting facts.

"So if you're satisfied, shall we get down to business, Chase?" Cora's eyes glinted again, the barest hint of annoyance creeping into her steely voice.
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by: Delilah Chase
Delilah eyed the utility belt with as much regard as she would give a dead rat. She thought those were necessary to kill? How...cute. There wasn't time to mess with potions in the future. Many potions taking the time to scout out someone to kill and take the ingredients from worth brewing took too long to brew, and scouting people out in a dark world was difficult enough. Without light, sight was difficult. Scouting was difficult. She was still struggling to get used to the amount of light these times had, but she would admit it was nice--most of the time.

The other woman prattled on, revealing she was aware of who she was. Trevor must have talked about her to this Coraline. Interesting, she supposed. She wondered what he had said to make this other woman feel like she needed to share her side of what could turn into a measuring contest if Delilah obliged. She wouldn't, of course. Either way, it sounded like this woman was capable. The only question that remained was a simple one. "Do you have any personal stake in any of this?"

Delilah couldn't force the other woman to answer honestly. She hadn't brought any Veritaserum today nor would she trust its results if she had. It was far too unreliable. Delilah had had no time in her life to learn certain skills which might have aided in her ability to tell if someone was lying, so she had no choice but to simply accept the answer and go with it, whatever it might be and whatever her gut might tell her.

"Do you have any relation whatsoever with the girls...with Katya, with Layla, with...Teague?" Sometimes saying names brought forth reactions that otherwise might have been hidden, so rephrasing seemed a legitimate need.
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by: Coraline Larson
If the other woman was expecting a reaction she would be sorely disappointed, the raven-haired mercenary silently remarked. Cora's face was mask of professionalism and utter detachment as she mulled over her answer to Delilah's lone question. Of course she had no ties to the children, not directly anyway, but she had more than a little personal stake in retrieving the tracker. Obviously this Chase woman was at least somewhat competent and Trevor had to trust in her at least a little to allow her to speak to him the way she had letalone leave her to handle Lord MacTail in his own absence, however Cora herself had little to no reason to trust the woman and so hesitated a moment with her answer. The question was, how much more than she already had would be wise to reveal to this woman?

Maintaining her professional demeanor Cora simply replied, "Yes." After a brief hesitation, she added, "My only tie to the children is with Trevor himself, as my leader and my friend, however I have reasons to want MacTail retrieved as well." And that was all she was willing to share, Cora thought, silently daring the woman to contradict her. As far as the hit-witch was concerned, her answer was more than adequate. Besides, she still wasn't quite sure how she really felt about the damn bloodhound anymore anyway, she thought dubiously.
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by: Delilah Chase
She was good--well-trained--and she was at the very least being semi-honest, yet it did nothing for Delilah's nerves. Death Eater circles were filled with lies and half-truths. Sometimes the half-truths were worse because they were easier to fall for. And Delilah wanted to fall for this statement, which she deemed closest in definition to a half-truth. Cora was admitting to having reasons for wanting to retrieve Teague, yet she wasn't disclosing those reasons. Were they personal? A vendetta against him? Something deeper? Was it simply because he had double crossed Trevor, to whom she claimed to be loyal?

Delilah's eyes narrowed ever so slightly as she studied Cora for a moment. She was too good. There was nothing, nothing for Delilah to use to draw assumptions or deductions from. She had no choice but to continue with at least one more question. Hopefully it would be the last. She hated questions, and she wanted to believe Coraline would be able to take care of Trevor should he falter because it meant they could sooner get a move on getting people down to save Teague. Yet how could she simply do that when it did potentially determine whether Teague lived or died in this exchange? "Fair enough, but you'll understand why I ask for somewhat more detail, if you consider yourself Trevor's friend. How personal are these reasons with Teague?"
"Very," Cora replied levelly, her voice betraying none of the conflicting emotions the hit-witch felt, though that one little word was more loaded than the other woman could possibly understand in Cora's opinion. She was still reluctant to admit to herself that she still loved the man, and how deeply it had hurt her to think that he had betrayed Trevor and kidnapped the girls. Even when Trevor had told her there was a possibility that Teague was innocent it hadn't helped her much. She wanted to believe that the man she knew, the man she still loved, was not a kidnapper or a traitor... but there was still a shadow of doubt, and that hurt her almost more than anything. The fact that there was evidence that made her have to doubt him was agonizing. Cora could only hope that when they retrieved the tracker she would have a chance to speak to him. Maybe there was hope yet...

Realizing she was staring at Chase while she was lost in her own thoughts, Cora silently cursed herself. Obviously she had given away that there was more to her relationship with the tracker-turned-Lord than she had revealed, so the hit-witch coolly added, "I have no intention of harming him until I am able to have a long conversation with him myself, if that is what you're afraid of. I have more reason to bring him back than to leave him to whatever he's gotten himself into. My reasons are my own," she finished, her expression hardening to an icy steel. Clearly, the mercenary was giving no quarter on this matter. Chase would have to be satisfied with that.
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by: Delilah Chase
The first word was all Delilah's nerves needed to break into panic, yet the woman maintained control. Her eyes moved to glance at Trevor who met her eyes for only a split second before looking away. He knew. He knew what these "very" personal reasons were. He knew, and he knew Delilah wouldn't like them. He looked far too solemn, not so hopeful and overeager as she would have expected for someone in his mindset with someone here he trusted enough to take with him. Trusted more than Teague, more than Delilah herself. Yet why had he lost trust in Teague? That was what Delilah didn't know. It didn't matter, and yet it did all at once.

Delilah looked to Cora again as she said she wouldn't hurt Teague until she had a long conversation with him. So, she was planning to harm him, then? Delilah regarded the woman. She didn't want her to go down there now, didn't want her near Teague. But at the same time, she didn't want Teague down there where she knew he was being harmed. "Fair enough, though I require a good thorough conversation myself before anyone lays hands on him." Her tone was matter-of-fact, void of any hint of what she felt.

"But I do want to know what you two are so convinced he did. Trevor admitted he wanted Teague to suffer when he left office. You say you won't harm him until you have spoken with him. So, if you two want in, come clean. Because Teague has been nothing but loyal to the cause. So, how did he personally affront you both?"
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