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by: Kara Viridian
#719
January 30th, 2012
3:57 p.m.
The Viridian-O'Donnell Residence

True solace was found in a home on a beach in the muggle world. The weather was still frosty this time of year so it wasn’t much to enjoy outside, but the view was nice and she had plenty of warmth indoors. The place was set with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a good size kitchen and dining room, an office and a full size living room with a wonderful view. Picture frames of her, her husband and her step-father, Fierro, as well as friends like ‘Lana and Jonathan littered the walls and were scattered in the living room. This home was once inhabited by her, her father and her ex-husband, but now she stayed here alone. She was sure this place was monitored, as she still had the tracking device in her from Azkaban, but she didn't care. No more patrols had come around except Markus every now and again but she hadn't been pestered as much as she had been when she was first released.

Kara pulled a warm cup of tea to her lips and took a drink. She was calmed by the sound of the crackling of the fire set in the pit of her fireplace, giving off its warmth even from across the room. Her side wall was glass, allowing for a gorgeous view of the sun on the horizon. Kara didn’t expect any visitors today, nor did she plan to leave the house, but she was still dressed as if she was going into town. She had thought that maybe she would head down to check on the Abby today, but if she did, she would wait until the evening to head in. Henrietta was watching over the bar today, so she was sure everything would be okay. She also figured she wanted to try on the new pair of jeans and top she bought at the boutique down the street from work, so why not break it in?

The television she had in the living room set on the opposite wall from the window was on, the low buzz of the voices of newscasters just on for noise, to bring some sort of presence in her home. She took deep breath and kept her eyes towards the window. The days were still shorter since the solstice, and the sun would be setting soon. Kara liked watching the sunset, even if she was alone, it was very calming.

Kara looked down at the book sitting on her lap. It was a novel her husband had purchased for her at the bookstore that was next to that boutique, and she had eyed it every time they went in together. Liam bought it for her. Liam. Thinking his name only made her feel guilty. She was still wearing his ring, after all. They were still married, but she was trying to move on. Was he still alive? If he was, was he still thinking of her?

She set the book on the coffee table beside her, curled her knees up, and rest her arms and head atop them.

The moment's she spent with Casey were unforgettable, but the confusion was settling in. She'd been acting impulsively, going with the motions lately, and that was putting her in the arms of Casey Winslow, another married man. She sighed. What the hell, conscience...why now?
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by: Casey Winslow
#720
There was something about life now, something that seemed to give him a bit of hope where he had had none before. It was strange to feel this way, considering that he had characteristically been rather pessimistic since his days undercover as a Death Eater, yet it was refreshing all the same. He couldn't deny he enjoyed it nor could he deny it made him feel guilty.

Some might suspect for a married man it would be the fact he was technically cheating on his wife, but for Casey, it was the fact his son was missing and had yet to be found yet here he was kindling a new...well, whatever this was. He wasn't sure. All he knew was he looked forward to any moment he could steal with Kara.

Guilt couldn't exist toward his actions against his wife when she wasn't acting as his wife. And the question was: was she even truly his wife? There would be no legal records proving it aside from the marriage certificate he'd managed to grab from their safe house. It would be so easy to simply destroy it and just cut himself free. In the eyes of the law, he already was free, however, so he had no problem holding onto it as a reminder of who he'd once been.

Casey would never regret his decision to marry Evie or the fifteen years they'd been together since they started dating or the thirteen years they had been married, but it was a closed chapter in his book, and Kara was the new one.

Casey had tried to jump ahead, to read spoilers, so to speak, back when he and Kara had last given it a try, but he hadn't been ready then to let go. Now he was and he had, and it was a liberating feeling. It gave him something to look forward to. She was the bright spot in his day when he could see her, and today was no different.

Casey had stopped by the Abby after staking out for any sign of Williams and asked for Kara, but when she had not been there, he had headed here to her home. He'd chosen to walk most of the way and had even made a stop on the way but had eventually decided to apparate the rest of the way after a while. Now, he stood outside the house waiting after having knocked, a single rose held behind his back. It was all he could afford right now, and even if he didn't know exactly what this was, he figured it couldn't hurt anything to get her something to enjoy. Hopefully red was ok. The florist hadn't had any other colors in stock that he thought were suitable.
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by: Kara Viridian
#721
Round and round, she kept turning her wedding band, and her eyes began to glaze over as she watched the diamond spin around her finger. Kara was focused now, focused on the bad part of this – whatever it was she and Casey had started. Her husband was locked away, possibly dead in Azkaban, sentenced to the worst possible punishment for crimes he may not have committed. When she closed her eyes, she could see his face, and every single day since she slept with Casey, she played back the argument that escalated up until the separation before he was taken away. Up until recently, there were no clear words or sentences, but she could hear the tons and muffled voices, shouting at one another. His face, however, was vivid. She could still see how angry he was at her as he yelled.

*****

”You can’t tell me you don’t feel anything for him, Kara, you’ve said his name – you’ve always gone out of your way to see him, you can’t even begin to feel how bad that hurts.”

”I told you, Liam, I’m trying. Everything I’ve been trying to remember, it’s still fuzzy but some of it is coming back to me. I…I don’t know.”

”You don’t know, what? You don’t know if you want to be with me anymore? What is it? I give you half of my business, and everything I even earn from my half of it still comes home to you. I give you a wedding, I let your father move into our home, I have put up with your lust for another man for—

”Excuse me?”

”You know what I’m saying, don’t act like it isn’t obvious.”

”Liam, please…”


*****

A knock on the door startled her somewhat. She was hoping to see Casey tonight, and furthermore hoped that he was standing on her porch now. Kara took a deep breath before sliding out from underneath the blanket she had over her lap, straightening out her blouse and heading for the door. She caught a glimpse of her image in the mirror as she walked toward the foyer and used her fingers to tousle her dark hair to settle it a little bit nicer in place. Dragging her feet toward the door, she came to a stop, took another inhale and exhale, and then turned the doorknob.

Casey was indeed standing at her doorstep. She couldn’t help but feel those sparks go off inside her when she saw him, a feeling she had felt for him since the day they met. Kara hadn’t seen him since the night they met up at the Abby, that wonderful and amazing night. The scarred one’s eyes were bright and full of content when they settled upon him. Her day would be complete, now that he was here. A smile tugged at the corner of her lips. “Hey.” She greeted him now with a bigger smile, and she gestured for him to enter her home.

Kara’s first instinct was to wrap her arms around his neck and hold him tight, so she did if he allowed it. Her eyes filled with tears, half from what she had been thinking before, half from the elation of merely seeing him. She closed her eyes and the tears fell down her cheeks. Kara breathed in deeply and smelled his scent, taking it in. It was calming.
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by: Casey Winslow
#722
"Hey," Casey replied as he stepped through Kara's door, a smile of his own on his face. Kara's was contagious. Casey was about to present the rose when Kara came closer and wrapped her arms around him, and he instinctually wrapped his arms around her. Casey had expected a hug in greeting but not quite one of such seeming vigor or duration. There was a certain need that he sensed through this, but he merely chose to hold Kara tightly (with careful mind toward the rose) in response. What else could he do until she was ready to pull away? There was nothing, and he wasn't going to break it yet. She was probably just glad to see him. He knew he was.

After a few long moments, Casey pulled away to look at Kara. The smile on his face as he opened his mouth to tell her he had something for her quickly faded and was replaced with concern as he noticed the drying streaks that were on her cheeks. "Is everything alright?" he asked, his hands now on either of her shoulders, though the fingers of his right hand were wrapped round the rose to shield her shoulder from any potential missed thorns.
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by: Kara Viridian
#723
Kara held onto him as long as he allowed, and she reluctantly pulled away when he shifted. She sniffled in as the tears continued even after a short while of their embrace. As she closed her eyes she kept seeing the angered face of her ex-husband. She tried so hard to let him go, to refrain from thinking about him as it only brought her pain, and she tried not to think about him when Casey was around. This only caused her to become more upset than she wanted to be, especially right now. It was the first time she’d seen Casey since their time spent at the Abby, she didn’t want to ruin her moments with him. She looked down and nodded, sniffling again. “Just…got a lot on my mind, I’m sorry.”

The scarred one smelled a faint aroma of a fresh flower. Instinctively, she turned to look to her left shoulder, where Casey was holding a rose tightly in his right hand. Her face went flush and she was overwhelmed with flattery and joy. She hadn’t received flowers in a great while, save the bouquet Henrietta and the girls had bought her for Christmas. More specifically, she hadn’t received flowers from a man, a suitor, or whatever Casey was to her at the moment. This must have been what he looked so excited to present, and she ruined it because of her emotional overload. “Merlin, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to ruin this moment.” She reached up with her left hand to meet his right and pressed her lips against his fingers. Her eyes were still glistening with tears but the spell of Casey’s presence had overtaken her and she was not as upset as she was just a minute before. “I’m so glad you’re here.” She said with a smile, giving him one more quick hug before gesturing for him to venture into the home further.

“It’s still a little cluttered here, sorry. I hadn’t had much time to clean up until recently,” she added, holding his hand as she led him towards the sitting room with the view. Books were scattered in a corner, and atop her dining room table, as well as paperwork and other miscellaneous trinkets that needed packing or organizing. Lots of things were being tucked away, things she didn’t want to have around as a reminder.

Kara took a seat where she had been perched before his arrival and welcomed him to sit beside her. The sun was starting to sit on the horizon. The orange hues of the sunset floated atop the azure waters, a gorgeous view she always enjoyed when she had the time to catch it. It was made even more perfect now that she was here with him.
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by: Casey Winslow
#724
Casey smiled as Kara kissed his fingers. A tender motion for sure, but Casey shrugged off her apology with a, "You ruined nothing." Hopefully she accepted that as an answer because it was true. He was here to spend time with her, and if that meant being there to help her through a hard time, then that was what he'd do. Given their history, it wasn't as though they had to tiptoe around emotions with each other in his opinion. Still, he didn't push the issue as she gestured him further into her home.

It was funny to hear Kara comment on how cluttered her house was. Once upon a time, Casey would have cared. He had been a neat freak when he and Evie had first married, and by the time they had Lydia and she started getting around and making her own messes in addition to Julian's messes, he had to resign himself to becoming a recovering neat freak. Now, he would give anything to trip over a child's toy or to find Evie had still left her water cup over on the end table for the fifth day in a row without any sign of picking it up. Messes meant life was being lived, messes meant family, and he missed family. He missed home. The safe house hardly qualified any more than Evie's warehouse-turned-living-quarters he stayed at when he had to report to Evie on Isis business.

Casey almost felt jealous of Kara at this moment. She had a life. Even if it was catering to the Abby, it was still a life, and she still had a home to return to at the end of the day. It was a luxury he hadn't been afforded in two years and one month since his home had been destroyed and his youngest taken from him far too soon along with his wife and any notion of family as Julian grew more and more distant. He would give anything to have a home again, a family--even if it was just him and a wife.

Casey took Kara's offer and sat beside her as she motioned him to do so, taking in the surroundings. "Nice place you've got," he told her. As he looked at her, wistfulness was evident in his blue-eyed gaze.
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by: Kara Viridian
#725
“Thanks,” she responded, still embarrassed. She hardly let anyone come into her flat looking quite a mess like this, but she would make an exception for Casey. Exhaling a sigh of slight relief, she gave him a half smile. Casey’s presence was nice considering what she was battling internally. He’d had that effect on her for years; Casey was able to make her forget about the drama in her life even if it was just for a moment. She was definitely happy to see him. Not to seem too desperate for his touch, she kept her hands to herself, allowing him to initiate any sort of caress, should he choose to do so.

She needed to snap out of it. Kara was doing fine today until she sat down and let her thoughts get the best of her. Ever since her last release from Azkaban, she had picked up the pieces of her life—managed the bar that she was in charge of, maintained her home, established some friends and started to live a new life. When she found out he was still alive in Azkaban and hadn’t killed him, as it was all a ploy to frame her as a traitor to the government, Kara was so overwhelmed. She was happy to know he wasn’t dead, especially by her hand, but her state of mind left her confused.

They were not on good terms, but they were still married. As she had thought just a moment ago, she was still wearing the ring she accepted when they married privately last year. Though they were bound by law, Kara wasn’t sure why she still had this ring on, this symbol of love, honesty and a vow to the other person wearing its matching counterpart. She was so torn, but couldn’t let it show, as she had company now, someone who meant so much to her. “What brings you by?” Not that she didn’t want to see him. Kara was just surprised to see him.
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by: Casey Winslow
#726
Casey smiled slightly at Kara's thanks then relaxed back against the seat of the couch. There, more comfortable. Didn't feel like he might be getting up anytime soon this way, made it just a little harder to decide he needed to go and get back on the search, the search that very well may start his path back to a home of sorts with his son. Then again, this could be accomplishing the same thing. He knew he never thought as clearly under too much stress. Maybe because he was taking this time out he would find a breakthrough in the Isis mission and/or also start something meaningful with Kara.

At Kara's question, Casey shrugged. "Needed a break. Today's been another dry day," he replied. It was the truth. He'd tried a new location, had even tried sitting in the shadows in case Julian had spotted him once and ducked away because he was angry or brainwashed or both. Nothing. No sign of Julian. No sign of Seren. No sign of Trevor. No sign of an end to this game of cat and mouse. No sign of a break in the case. No nothing. And it was disheartening.

"Besides," Casey decided to add, reaching out to squeeze Kara's knee, "missed the likes of you the past few days." It was true. Even if he felt a little guilty to admit it, he had been thinking of Kara quite often. On a base level, she was someone from his past with whom things had gone wrong that he could right much more easily than any problems he'd had with others or with the Julian kidnapping situation. On a deeper level, he really did care about her. There was just something about her that drew him to her. There always had been from the moment they had met. He had just been married then, never mind how miserably so. She had been the one person to treat him like a human being rather than something to be pitied or watched like a hawk.
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by: Kara Viridian
#727
She gave him a look of sympathy as he explained his “dry” day. Lots of leads to follow, but all dead ends or just nothing relevant to help with a search. She remembered those investigations, all of the runs and searches she would go on for Damien when sent out. Kara wanted to help, but because she was being tracked, she didn’t want to cause Casey or the organization he was working for any trouble. “I’m sorry, luv.” Casually, she meant. Right? A term of endearment, a term they frequently used in England. Though she was embarrassed as soon as she said it. Why? She wasn’t sure. They were both adults, not school children with crushes on each other. Kara and Casey had finally slept together, given into their longing and that night was amazing. She just hoped he didn’t think she was getting ahead of herself when she said it. Bollocks, she thought.

“I missed you too.” She smiled, as she blushed. Kara felt him squeeze her knee and it made her feel all sorts of silly. It was amazing to her how things felt just having him around. The air wasn’t tense, it was calm as it should be, and just carefree and comfortable. She liked that.

Leaning in towards him, she planted a kiss on his lips, a soft one, and curled into his arms to cuddle. Kara inhaled deeply and exhaled, reaching over to entwine his fingers with hers. “Wish I could help with all the investigation work you have to do. To be honest, I sort of miss getting out and about…but with this—“ she tapped her arm, still holding his hand as she did, “it’s rather difficult.” It was a disappointing thought, as she hated seeing him so upset and frustrated with the fact that he had no real progress to show for all of the work he was doing. She wished to make him happy in that sense, too.
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by: Casey Winslow
#728
"We could always cut it off," Casey teased, a silly smile on his face to make it obvious he wasn't serious, though he hoped she would have known otherwise. "In all seriousness, though, it's fine," he said. "I know you would if you could, and you've been there like no one else from the start." He leaned in and his lips gently brushed hers before he pulled away."Don't think I haven't noticed or appreciated everything...from the moment we met, really."

It was the truth, and while he should be ashamed to admit he'd noticed her from the start and had viewed her support then to be like no one else's at the time when his wife was still the woman he had married, he wasn't. Evie wasn't Evie anymore, and he had remained faithful to her to a fault even beyond the time she had stopped being herself at the hands of the monster, so he had nothing to be ashamed of. He had viewed Kara as a good friend from the start, and she deserved to know that. Whether she interpreted it to its true meaning that he had more or less developed some feelings for her fairly early on in their friendship due to his life circumstances at the time was up to her.

"You've always known how to make me feel like I mattered. I've always liked that about you." He smiled and leaned in for another kiss, this one lingering for a moment before he pulled away.
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by: Kara Viridian
#729
His teasing made her grin and shake her head. The thought of taking a blade to her flesh to remove the damned tracker embedded in her body had crossed her mind on multiple occasions but she could never bring herself to do it. Kara’s body was scarred enough as it was, she didn’t need to inflict any more damage to her body that could easily be prevented. Still, she was smiling and that was nice. Casey had that way about making it a less-tense atmosphere just by being near. She looked up and welcomed his kisses, returning them as well. “I understand,” she replied. “It’s just…frustrating.”

And discouraging. Kara was the type to get out and physically help out to the best of her abilities…now that she was on a slight house arrest, it made the exploration portion very difficult. She hated it. Kara was glad to hear him say he had appreciated everything, even from the beginning; she was surprised to hear it. The two had flat start, when she met him at the school and a rocky yet very tense friendship as they were toying with the idea of being with one another even though the timing was incredibly wrong.

…Really, the timing was still wrong, but at this point, having slept together now – and thinking about each other regularly, as well as the nice visits like these…

The timing seemed perfect. She needed this stability, this shoulder to cry on, this support to help her through this time, and she was sure he needed her as well. Then she heard his last remark, his compliment, and she couldn’t help but blush. He was pouring on the flattery and sweetness today. “You’re wonderful…” Was all she could think to say, breathing out a sigh of sheer bliss.
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by: Casey Winslow
#730
Casey smiled, kissed Kara's forehead, then rested his own forehead against hers. He stayed like that for a while before he decided to rest back against the couch with a sigh. It wasn't one borne of fatigue or boredness but, rather, contentment. He closed his eyes and rested his hands over his belly. Right now, he wasn't certain what to say or do. He'd come over, and yes, he had certain hopes for where he'd like the day to eventually end up, but he meant it when he said that he missed her. Kara was first and foremost a good friend. Lover was new and exciting but secondary to that, and he wanted that to be clear.

"How have things been?" Casey asked as he opened his eyes a few moments later, giving her his full attention. "Any interesting happenings at the Abby?" Knowing that Kara had the tracker, which was preventing her from being able to help much beyond being good moral support in his search for his son, meant that her main form of entertainment was likely to be her little bar in muggle London. Not that work was really much of an entertainment in most circumstances, but he figured colorful characters had to come around from time to time.
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by: Kara Viridian
#731
“Busy. The Bar has its moments—weekends and holiday being busy, preparation for Valentine’s Day and all of that.” She didn’t mean to stop on those words, no. She didn’t want to leave any awkward, subliminal message she may want to see him on Valentine’s Day, so Kara awkwardly stuttered before continuing on, “D-decorations need hanging, special orders and reservations need making, It’s been so much work keeping the place together. I’m just glad to have Henrietta there, and the staff has been so helpful since Liam—“

The scarred one stopped. She gulped. It was no secret what had happened between them, nor was it a secret that this house once belonged to her and her husband. However, Kara did not want to ruin the moment by bringing his name up in the middle of their much needed, much cherished time together. Closing her eyes, she sighed. She couldn’t bring her eyes up to meet his, as she was just too flustered and embarrassed to do so. Would he be mad? Probably not, he was an understanding man, but she still didn’t like the fact that she made such a mistake, a very novice mistake actually. “Since everything happened, and I had to take over. It’s been a relief to have any help around to keep my mind off of it.”

There she went again, digging. Kara held him comfortably and did not move. She didn’t cling too tight, and she had no intentions of letting him go unless he requested her to do so. She just wanted him to know that she loved every moment she had spent and would spend with Casey. She wanted him to know how much he meant to her, and that she hadn’t been this happy in a long time, but she couldn’t find the right combination of words…she was just too scatterbrained at the moment, none of what she was saying was making any sense. Kara did cling to the hope that he would not push her away. She hoped with all of her might that he would understand that she didn’t spend time with him because he was simply a distraction. He meant the world to her.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. The last thing she wanted was to make it tense and awkward and embarrassing, yet she felt all of those things. Kara kicked herself for letting her mind wander and her mouth run off so easily.
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by: Casey Winslow
#732
Liam.

It would have been much less awkward if Kara hadn't paused but instead continued her sentence. His mind would have barely registered the word as more than just a casual reference to someone they both knew rather than an obvious discomfort. 

Casey had never liked Liam much. That was no secret. Casey had especially disliked him since he'd taken advantage of Kara's memoryless state to woo her, wed her, and bed her. He felt little guilt for his alleged transgression against the woman's so-called husband--not when he had done that to Kara. But still, to see her like that? To watch her gulp, to hesitate before reconstructing her sentence? It made Casey feel guilty for even coming over and putting her in a situation where her own transgressions (so-called) could continue. That was the only thing he felt bad about in all this. Casey shifted his weight but smiled. "I'm glad. They seem like a good bunch."

Casey waved Kara's apology away. 'Don't be. He's a part of your life. If anything, I should be the one sorry. I could leave if you like." There. If she wanted him to stay, maybe there'd be less guilt for the position he was putting Kara in.
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by: Kara Viridian
#733
She had already felt terrible for bringing up Liam, her could be alive, could be dead husband—but there was no use letting him go because she was the one who screwed up. “No,” she squeezed his hand. “Please stay.”

She bit her lip and wondered how she could turn this all around. “I’d rather not be alone right now,” she confessed. For a great while she’d been alone, over thinking things all because she had no one around to talk to. Once, this place was filled with voices, with her step-father, her husband, and a few other visitors like Henrietta, but visitors and inhabitants were rare in these parts now.

“Let’s find something else to discuss, shall we?” Kara shifted her weight and found a comfortable position to face him, and she made a weak attempt to change the subject. The scarred one offered him a weak smile. “How was your day?”

Holding tight to his hand, she squeezed again and stroked the back of his palm with her thumb. She missed him so much it had almost hurt, and it was so relieving to just have him there with her.
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