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by: Anne Fernsby
29 February 2015
12:00 p.m.
Lunch Hall


Anne had sorted through a ton of it since returning from Hogwarts over a month ago. Despite how scary it had all been, Anne missed it. She had had Markus near, and as much of a mess as things had turned out for him, it had been comforting.

Anne hadn't seen Markus much since their return. She was sure the wife had kept tabs on him, and she didn't want to think about what likely was happening in their need to seek comfort. Whatever the case, she felt part wistful and part cast-off. She snuck glances when she could in the hall, noting how thin he seemed or how sad on any given day.

About the most excitement she had had was in the time immediately following the return when she had to find out and ensure none of the Ministry had been behind the werewolf "attack" as the muggles put it (Could it really be considered an attack when no one had died, though? She preferred "revelation."). Of course, no one had been indicated, and it had gone right on to another department within the week. "Look into managing your resistance groups," was the exact phrase she'd given Florence White as she'd handed the file to her. Perhaps it was true that that meant more work for Markus and his department, more headache, but perhaps work was good for him now.

It had to be a resistance group--whether known or unknown. It just had to be or some sort of werewolf alliance rallying for rights. They hadn't exactly been issuing legislation that helped werewolves, after all. They hadn't exactly shamed them, but for some, the lack of anything helpful was enough. Yet no one had stepped up on behalf of the werewolves demanding rights or else.

Anne dipped her quill in the ink well then blotted the tip once again as she signed her name one last time. It was time for lunch, and she was going to the lunch hall. She hadn't exactly had time to pack a lunch after her mother had kept her up late with an impromptu visit. Her mother had been there the instant she'd arrived home from work, much to her dismay, worrying about how her flower bed that she had planted for her just three months ago was already being choked to death and other non-interesting topics.

Perhaps she should take a nap instead....
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by: Markus von Wolfram
His return to the Ministry after the Hogwarts fiasco had been nothing but hellish. As the captain in charge of the investigation ultimately the fault for the way the guard had conducted itself fell at his feet. He'd spent weeks under internal review and had been accused of gross negligence and incompetence. Had not a few of his own guard spoke up and defended his character, Markus was sure the Ministry would have gotten away with throwing him under the bus and that would have been the end of his career. Even then he'd been eaten alive by the press and since he'd been the fall guy for the Ministry he was currently confined to he desk, at least until the higher up s could figure out what to do with him. From his last meeting with the higher ups Markus understood that his skills were to valuable to simply be sacked, thus he was to doomed to desk work until everything blew over. It was a small consolation after everything but at least it got him out of the house.

Home was the last place he'd wanted to be. The death of his boys weighed heavily on him and with all the mess the Ministry was in he hadn't had a chance to properly grieve. Kirsten was another issue in a long line of issues. She'd blamed him for their deaths and somehow she knew about Anne. They fought and when he'd called her out on her closeness to her team lead and when she didn't deny she left. Went home and said divorce papers would be sent by owl.

Markus hadn't talked to anyone after that and he threw himself into his paper work in hopes that he wouldn't have to deal with fact that he was alone. Hell he hadn't even had the courage to talk with Anne. Hell, he wasn't even sure if she'd still want to talk to him after everything that had happened. he knew he wouldn't. So he stayed at his desk and kept himself distant from anyone that didn't pertain to the work he was currently throwing himself in. When that was done he'd go home and attempt to sleep though more often than not he was not successful and it was starting to take its toll.

Today however, was shaping up to be the same as every other bar an excessive amount of people that had tried to get him to take lunch with them. Clearly his current state was starting to become more noticeable. Eventually Markus' hunger made itself known and for whatever reason he decided a trip to the lunch hall seemed in order. If anything, perhaps it would convince the rest of the team that he was fine.

The Captain was moving on auto pilot, queuing in the food line before looking for a place to sit. the sight of Anne made his stomach drop. He'd hardly talked to her since everything had gone down and he felt terrible. The feeling he'd felt for her hadn't dimmed in the slightest it seemed. Markus supposed since he was supposed to be trying to give the impression he was feeling more like his old self he figured that maybe Anne wouldn't mind his company for an hour or so. He moved toward her table and stopped just short and gave her a small half smile.

"Hey... got room for one more?"
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by: Anne Fernsby
Anne couldn't help but return Markus' half smile, but it was tamed by the nervousness the sight of him made her feel. She couldn't remember butterflies since she started noticing boys so many years ago, but she couldn't complain too badly of the feeling. These nerves, however, were hardly because of butterflies. These were because she had no idea what she and Markus were exactly. Maybe he hated her now. Maybe Elena had made him pay in such a way he had woken up that this was all some stupid mid-life crisis or some byproduct of their fear and being in close proximity.

Anne brushed a piece of her blonde hair behind her ear and nodded. "I guess so," she said then added, "Promise you won't bite?" Yes, it was more than lame. This was fifteen-year-old humor--not that of a full-grown woman. But it seemed this was what she was reduced to at present. Anything to bring laughter, anything to keep away an awkward silence. She took a small bite then to avoid the awkward, nervous bout of laughter that wanted to escape. No, she couldn't do more than grin without looking pathetic or being obvious.

Once she swallowed, Anne asked, "How've you been?" Because that would be the best question ever to a man whose family life you had messed up on top of the fact a killer he had trusted you to be able to figure out the nature of despite your complete and utter lack of qualifications for the job had killed his sons. Yeah, peachy. He'd been just peachy.
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by: Markus von Wolfram
"Promise you won't bite?"

The way the line was delivered brought a soft chuckle and more genuine smile to the man. Two things he hadn't done since being back from Hogwarts. "No promises, but I'll make every attempt to restrain myself." Markus placed his tray down on the table and took a seat and the captain felt more at ease than he had in a long time.

Markus poked at his food a bit when Anne asked how he had been. It was a fair question but Markus wasn't sure Anne wanted to know the answer. Hell he wasn't even sure he wanted to tell her either. That would mean he would have to admit things were not good, not even great, but out right terrible. But could he lie to her and be convincing enough to have her believe he was ok? No he couldn't. Most of the guard knew he was anything but ok and Anne was IA. She'd see through any tale he'd try to spin in a heart beat. Plus he respected for and cared to much for her to do that.

He offered her a shrug and a sigh. "I'd like to tell you I've been fine, but in truth I've been anything but. Just taking one day at a time and hoping for the best. Still have a job for now at any rate. How have you been?"

The captain took a bite of his food before setting his fork down and pushing the tray away suddenly finding himself not hungry at all. Hopefully Anne wouldn't push the point, or at the very least not here where everyone and their dog could see. He was almost certain that he would loose it if she brought up Kir or his kids. Markus knew he would eventually have to deal with it someday, but that day could be far away as far as he was concerned.
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by: Anne Fernsby
Anne's eyes closed at the sound of the chuckle. It was terse compared to usual, but it was still a chuckle--his chuckle. Markus' chuckle. And it sounded melodic. She had heard laughs and chuckles since coming back, but she had felt anything but mirth at the sound. Even now, with Markus', it was a wistful feeling that came. She knew things would be different now. He had lost so much, been through so much. They both had been through so much even though her losses were hardly anything. Having to sleep with the light on and adding a few protective spells to the house at night to feel safe.... That loss of security was a much lighter price to pay than the loss of children.

Anne's eyes opened only a moment later and studied his face. He almost looked older to her. It was the eyes. He was trying to be playful, and perhaps he might be feeling playful, but there was a light that was lacking in them. She had seen that look before in people, but now, for the first time, she understood the cause. Oh, Markus, she thought as she listened.

"Surviving," Anne replied, fighting the urge to reach out and touch Markus' face or grab his hand over the table. She was quiet a moment as she turned her cup so that the line faced to the side out of sight. "I never thought something I'd loved growing up could now bring nightmares." She offered an awkward smile that wasn't at all there. Her lips went tersely upward, but her eyes didn't hold any joy. "It's good to see you."
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by: Markus von Wolfram
Surviving. That seemed to be the common thread between everyone who had been stationed at the school and unlucky enough to have been caught in that vampire's killing spree. All the innocent people of Hogsmead, the students and professors of Hogwarts, his boys... his breath hitched slightly as he forced those thoughts away. Instead he tried to keep himself focused on the here and now, and on Anne. He wanted so badly to wrap her in his arms and never let her go.

"Can't say I'd ever thought childhood dreams of gloriously fighting all the magical creatures that were the bane of wizarding kind was top of my list either. Don't know what the Ministry was thinking when the taught us about them. The books are nothing like the real thing. No amount of study would have prepared us for that... good thing we had that wolf."

Wish that was all I had nightmares about, the captain thought bitterly to himself.

And again his thoughts drifted down darker pathways. Bloody hell. He felt tired. So very tired and old. He let his eyes take in the woman across from him and he didn't miss the way her smile lacked they joy it previously had shown. Suddenly the mess hall was the last place he wanted to be. It was far to loud and far to crowded.

"It's good to see you too Anne. Want to get out of here for a bit? Don't know about you but I could use some air."
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by: Anne Fernsby
Anne shuddered at the thought of the wolf. But that thought had not been as scary as the reality of living day-to-day life in the castle you grew up in not knowing if you would get to take your next breath or if you would wake up the next morning. No, that vampiric creature that hardly fit the textbooks by any means from all she had gathered while sneaking peeks at paperwork as they were briefed to cover up that there could be anything worse than a Vampire out there had been much scarier.

Anne drew in a deep breath and held it a moment before releasing it. She nodded at Markus' question. Getting out of here sounded far better. No eyes, the freedom to ask the questions she wanted answers to or to simply hold and be held should she so choose.... It sounded like a dream. Perhaps that's all it ever would be.

"Let's," she said as she stood and picked up her food tray. She contemplated taking it with her, but honestly, food had been low on the priority list lately. She tossed the leftover food and set the tray on the top of the garbage can. "Where to?" she asked, bouncing onto the balls of her feet.
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by: Markus von Wolfram
He followed when she stood, silently thankful that Anne seemed alright with going somewhere else. Absently he cleared off his tray and placed the tray on the garbage can as well.

"I was thinking the muggle world maybe, unless there is somewhere else you'd like to go. Any place but here really," he answered in reply to Anne's question. Markus supposed Diagon Alley would be an alright second choice. It had been a while since he'd last visited and wondered if it was finally back together. The past few years had been anything but kind to it.

But first they would have to make there way to the Foyer and the Fireplaces so they could get to their desired destination. He nudged her in the general direction they needed to go and offered a small smile. As the walked and without meaning to, his hand sought out hers. Fact of the matter was, he honestly didn't care if someone saw. Markus missed having Anne around. He missed her closeness, their snogging sessions, he missed her smile, the way she chewed her lip when she was nervous or unsure. Her playful nature. He missed everything about her.
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by: Anne Fernsby
Normally, Anne would have hesitated and pulled her hand away from Markus', but if he didn't care right now then she wouldn't. Her hand closed firmly around Markus' as he led the way to the fireplaces. Or perhaps the toilets. Merlin, she hoped not the toilets, but if they were going to the muggle world....

Thankfully, there wasn't much of a line when they got there, and Anne looked at Markus with a smile before she allowed herself to be sucked in. The thought of it was so gross, but at least they had had enough sense to charm it so you weren't affected or dirtied by what you were essentially passing through.

Once safely in the bathroom stall, Anne smoothed out her skirt then walked out so that when Markus materialized they wouldn't crash. Besides, after that, she was going to freshen up in front of the mirror a bit. She hadn't bothered to do much at all this morning besides get dressed and pull her hair back in a ponytail. The bit of mascara she already had on and a fresh application of lipstick would have to do.
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by: Markus von Wolfram
HIs heart fluttered when Anne's hand closed around his rather than pull away. They traveled in silence until they reached their destination. Unfortunately the easiest way up to the muggle world was through the toilets and was not something the captain was looking forward to. It was odd that they couldn't come up with an easier and less disgusting way to travel. Markus opened the door with a small grin and motioned for Anne to go ahead. "Ladies first."

He followed behind her and watched as she was transported to their above ground location. As soon as she was through, he stepped in and was soon above ground as well and stepping out of the stall and into the washroom. Markus scanned the area for Anne a saw her over by the mirrors and he assumed she wanted a minute to freshen up. Catching his own reflection in said mirror had Markus reaching for his wand. He needed to do something about his uniform jacket. It was far to Military for walking about in muggle London and would draw attention, something the captain did not want. A quick transfiguration spell had it changed into a decent looking coat. There, that was a bit more acceptable. He then leaned up against the wall and let his eyes rest on the stunning woman that had chose to come with him as he waited patiently for her to finish whatever she needed to do.
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by: Anne Fernsby
As Anne finished putting on some mascara and tucked the container into her jacket pocket, she caught Markus' gaze in the mirror and smiled. She took her ponytail down then and fluffed her hair so it didn't hold so much of that oddly waved look a ponytail holder caused and looked fuller. She gave herself one last look in the mirror, turning her head once to get a look from the side then turned away from he mirror. "Shall we?" she asked, holding out her hand. It felt good to be able to do that without fear of what someone saw. It wasn't likely they would run into someone they knew around here. Their passes were checked with each exit and they were flagged if they went topside too often.

Anne truthfully had no idea how to find her way around muggle London. She hadn't made too many trips this way even before the regime had taken over except for those involved with hazings of muggles. She could only hope Markus knew where else to go and that he wouldn't suggest The Abby. Honestly, if she ever went back there, it would be too soon. The service wasn't that terrible, and they had tried to make up for the spill, but honestly, it had ruined it for Anne.
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by: Markus von Wolfram
Luckily he didn't have to wait long, not that Markus would have minded in the least. At her offered hand he pushed himself away from the wall he had been leaning against and took it with a smile and lead her outside. Maybe it was because they were away from the Ministry, or maybe it was because he was in the company of someone he genuinely cared for and wanted to be around but he was currently feeling more like his old self than he ever had this past month. It was as if her touch was grounding him to the present, making it easier to forget the past.

It had been a couple of weeks since he'd been topside, at least not since he'd dropped in unexpectedly on Kara, but he'd been through Muggle London enough that he had a decent idea of places they could go. Markus doubted Anne would appreciate another trip to the Abby after their last visit. Merlin, what a fiasco of a date attempt that had been, even thought the rest of the night had gone well. So where to go? They couldn't just wander aimlessly. Markus doubted that would go over well. There was a small little cafe a couple blocks from where they currently were that he used to frequent before all hell broke loose with the change in government. Someplace they could talk without having to worry about what was being said... maybe it was still around?

"I know a place, small cafe nearby we can head to if you're interested?"
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by: Anne Fernsby
Anne nodded. "Lead the way, then," she told him, offering him a smile. Smiles. They were somehow more precious these days after so long under the stress they had been placed. Honestly, she didn't care if they found a park and played like children or went to this cafe. So long as it wasn't the Abby and she was with Markus, Anne would be happy. Never mind that they would have to get back to work, so doing more than going to a cafe was probably out of the question--at least for this afternoon. Night was another story.

Anne tugged at Markus' hand to stop him from walking further after a moment's silence. "Com'ere," she said as she stepped toward him and leaned up to give him a kiss. She'd missed that feeling, that intimacy that even so small of a contact could bring. She broke away much sooner than she wanted to, however. They were in public, and people frowned on such things. She smiled at him again and remained where she was, though. Continuing to walk at the moment seemed a strange idea.
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by: Markus von Wolfram
Markus nodded and began to walk but was stopped only a few moments later when Anne's hand entwined his and she stepped forward as he turned toward her, their lips meeting. It only made him realize how much he missed their closeness. The intimacy of something so small wasn't lost on the captain either and it sent his heart fluttering as if he were a teen all over again. He didn't want the moment to end.

When she pulled back, thoughts of the cafe flew from his mind and he had eyes only for her. Markus reached forward to brush a stray strand of hair back behind her ear as he leaned in to kiss her again. Hell he didn't care what the public thought. Right now she was the one bright light he had left and like hell he was going to let anyone ruin their moment. Whatever they had Markus enjoyed it, and he wanted to nurture it so it could perhaps grow into more.

"I've missed you Anne. This, us, all of it."
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by: Anne Fernsby
Anne's eyes fluttered shut at Markus' touch, and she leaned into the kiss he offered. It had been too long since they had been near each other, and suddenly, she wanted nothing more than to not return to work this afternoon at all. Especially with his words, which caused every last lonely moment of the past few weeks to come to the forefront of her mind.

"I missed it...you, too," Anne replied, worrying her lip at the emotions that were coming to the surface. She had felt so lonely these past weeks, but she'd buried herself in enough work she couldn't be anything but stressed except in moments like these were the feelings welled up more than she wanted. She had to push them down. She didn't want to be a blubbering, sobbing mess in front of Markus. He had far more reason to feel pain and loss and to cry than she.

"Do we have to go back?" she asked as she pulled Markus into a hug if only to hide her face.
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