No Country For Old Wizards

Calcifur Giordano

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There really wasn't much stopping an underhanded person from making underhanded deals with other underhanded people in Bleak Street. Calcifur hadn't seen an auror in this part of the alley since the post-You Know Who era. Technically he was still part of the post-You Know Who era. In fact, forever after would always remain slightly more special than usual as the shadow of the Dark Lord fell on no one but the worms. It was well starting to fade into the backs of people's minds, and Calcifur had only thought of it briefly to remark to himself about changes it had caused over the years: like the complete and gratifying absence of any form of law upholding here. Maybe the Pigs were getting lax, or maybe they couldn't be bothered with small-time crooks anymore since they'd already fried the biggest fish, but either way, it had been smooth sailing for the dark eyed wizard since early morning. Calcifur worked one of those 'behind the scenes' jobs that didn't do mentioning in polite company. He supplied the less legal substances and artifacts to the outwardly legal businesses and corporations in wizarding New Zealand, sometimes having to get rather steeped in violence to comply with the client's wishes. He was not, by nature, a violent man, but only by necessity when the going got irritating. So far things had gone rather smoothly, but one supplier was giving him hell in almost full view of the dirty, sinister public.

"I told you I'd have it by Monday!" blustered the wrinkly vendor. "It is Monday," interjected Calcifur wearily. A throbbing of intermingled pain and annoyance began beating at his left temple. The tall wizard glanced left and right to see what vagabonds were taking an interest in his endeavour, but most had deigned to keep their eyes on their own wares for fear of upsetting what they knew to be an unforgiving customer. The decrepit old man he was negotiating with was too loud and too deceptive for his liking. He could see what he required dangling 'hidden' beneath the vendor's cloak. No doubt he lied only to keep it for another offer, sold at a much higher price. "No, no, no, Monday the seventeenth-" said the vendor quickly as Calcifur took a calm step forward. Without any further provocation, the man whipped out a grubby old wand and aimed it jerkily at Calcifur's neck. He almost had to stand on tiptoes in order to lift his arm high enough. "Now just you clear off, Mudblood!" he croaked. "I'll not be selling it to you for under 15 galleons, and you can take yourself clean off to your employer and tell 'im so! Scum of the streets-". Calcifur made no response to the jibe about is blood heritage and listened almost patiently as the man squealed on. Abruptly enough was enough, and the street echoed with a crack as Calcifur punched the vendor full in the jaw. Down went the bag of bones, and the rest of the street hawkers suddenly had somewhere else to be very fast. Whimpering, the man clutched his jaw and cursed up at Calcifur, his wand forgotten. Calcifur's robes swept the sticky ground as he bent to remove the dangling package, cutting the attached string with a pocket knife. "My regards," said Calcifur, without a smile. The tall wizard stood to pocket his collectings when footsteps echoed up the winding cobblestones. Finally he glanced up to meet the intruder upon his little scene of woe, and he slipped both pocket knife and package into his robes, palming his wand into his hand in the same movement.
 

Sabrina Emmerich

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OOC First Name
Camilla!
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Willow Wand, 11 3/4", Essence of Pixie Dust
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Being a former Hufflepuff didn't necessarily make Sabrina a nice girl, and it was times like these she was determined to prove it to the world - and more importantly, herself. An eternal wanderer, Sabrina changed paths in life as frequently as one might change clothes. At the moment, she was in a darker place, a darker mood.

Sabrina was twenty-five and had no purpose in life.

Of course, no matter how dark and edgy she attempted to be, she was eternally optimistic - or at least, forced herself to be - and pushed through every day with a smile, knowing she'd get somewhere someday.

Today, Sabrina was strolling casually in to Bleak Street, curiosity driving her to see what darker artifacts she may find. There was no fear in her countenance, only a genuine interest. Sabrina was hardly fearful. She wasn't the bravest, but she was not easily fazed by criminals and objects of a criminal nature. Merely fascinated. Especially at the moment, when dark substances and items were something that she considered may be useful for...some sort of career, she hadn't really thought that through.

Although she was rather taken aback by the man punching the street vendor. She'd heard some yelling, but mostly ignored it - her eyes wandering to the source of it every now and then - but the crack of the punch caused Sabrina to stand back, hesitantly, before walking straight forward, her irritating curiosity driving her to discover what had caused the commotion.

"That certainly is one way to do business," she muttered, tilting her head to the side. "Are you alright, sir?"
 

Calcifur Giordano

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"Me or the worm?" countered Calcifur smoothly as he nudged the vendor on his dispirited way. The decrepit sack of disappointment had the gall to spit at him one last time before crawling off, and his remark was brow-beaten by the glob of spittle on his cheek. The dealer wiped it off as casually as possible with a slightly grubby yet well-tailored shirtsleeve. He was used to the manners (or lack thereof) of the people inhabiting his dark world, though he could have done without the backlash in front of the ... interesting woman. Really, she looked too young and bright-eyed to be part of the scenery. Calcifur tried to take care of himself, but with circumstances as they were, his clothes only grew older without replacement, and his eyes grew grayer to match the sky. He was worn out and he was only twenty-eight. Life wasn't supposed to be like this, but he'd stopped dreaming of things other than glowing merchandise many years ago. In comparison to the fresh-looking woman in front of him, he was practically looking at a gap in the clouds. Calcifur folded his arms and weighed up his options. It was no accident that the untidily wrapped fair that he held became secreted in the corner of his elbow as he did. He could feel it pulsing against his veins in time with his heartbeat, which was unnerving even for him. Sometimes he was required to carry mildly dangerous objects, but the package he held was toeing the line between unstable and outright lethal. What the devil had that apothecary wanted with ... whatever it was?
"It seems to be the only way to do business around here ... " said Calcifur, hesitantly adding a "-Madam," to the end of the sentence. All of a sudden he was uncomfortable with his display of casual violence, something he hadn't been for quite some time. That was the problem with women. They made one feel like everything you did was a crime. He was legitimately debating whether or not to find some way to shut her mouth about his spoiled transaction, when the package gave a particularly jolting pulse that made his heart skip a beat - and not in the good way. A bead of sweat broke out on his forehead and the corners of his mouth creased.
"Nevertheless, it is done and I'm afraid I must bring this conversation to a close," he said firmly, gripping the item closer into the crook of his arm. That brought on another pulse, and he leaned against the crumbling wall to the left. Something in him gave way to grave misgivings, and he looked the woman in the eyes as a cue to leave.
 

Sabrina Emmerich

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OOC First Name
Camilla!
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Willow Wand, 11 3/4", Essence of Pixie Dust
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"Oh, I'm sure he'll be alright, though that was quite the punch you gave him!" Sabrina replied, quite brightly. Even when she was dispirited or miserable, Sabrina was still an expert at being cheerful. It could be perceived as annoying, perhaps, but Sabrina barely noticed. She just kept on doing whatever she did with a smile and a spring in her step. Perhaps it was a manner to cope with her bleak future. Whatever it was, it seemed to work. Pulling her robes around her, she eyed the man in a curious manner. Not suspicious, not fearful, but genuinely interested. The logical part of her brain told her to leave him alone, but Sabrina was always on a quest to learn as much as she could about people. "But I meant you, sir," she added, sweetly.

Sabrina looked up at the man with bright, blue eyes, and a gentle smile on her face. "You don't seem like the type of person to strike a man, even with provocation. That's just my analysis from looking at you, anyway. You look tired and worn out, like you've dealt with an awful lot. Am I right?" Sabrina was incredibly nosy, and she knew this, but it didn't stop her from looking at people and making judgements about them. Perhaps it was off putting. But she honestly couldn't help herself.

"Was it something I said, sir? You really don't look alright, is there anything I can assist you with?"

Dark and edgy didn't really suit Sabrina. She always had to try and help people when she thought they required it - good or bad. This man didn't strike Sabrina as bad, though. Perhaps he ran with the wrong crowd, but he didn't seem to be evil or anything. Not to Sabrina, anyway.
 

Calcifur Giordano

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Calcifur narrowed his eyes in bemusement. The lady didn't know when to back off, did she? Her smile was pleasant and inquisitive, which made him supremely uncomfortable, and the way she looked at him made him feel like she knew more about him than he thought, which was completely absurd. He'd called her 'Madam' out of unwilling politeness, but the way she called him 'Sir' rankled more than it should have. He didn't look like a sir of any kind, insofar as the honorific was used. He was clearly male but also beneath her station, whatever that was. Calcifur shook his head to himself and took a deep breath, feeling the pulsing down to his toes. It was a struggle to concentrate on what she was saying, but he managed well enough to reply in a clipped tone.
"It is nothing you've said, but I hardly think you're in a position to remark upon my character when you did just see me strike a man," he huffed, more out of breath than angered. He didn't even bother casting aspersions on her detailing of him. He knew well enough that he looked tired, and he didn't need her telling him so. Calcifur was battling inwardly between illness and irritation, and the former was winning out. Drawing himself up to full height, which a foot above hers, he stepped forward and spoke again.
"I am well enough, and quite aware of what I look like, too. It is you who do not seem to understand what situation who are in." Calcifur summoned his darkest look and zeroed in on her face. "You have just witnessed what you've probably have guessed is a somewhat questionable transaction between two gentleman which ended in an assault. You have every right to summon the Aurors to this place and have them escort me, and the item I hold, away to be examined and perhaps jailed." His gray eyes swirled with forced enmity. "So I hope you understand me when I say that I cannot allow to leave this place with such knowledge."
Finally, to punctuate his low statement, he removed his wand and managed to point it with a trembling hand between her eyes, an 'Obliviate' on his lips. It was at that moment that a well-timed pulse from his cradled package had him bending at the knees, and his wand hand dropped to his side. Calcifur took a slow, deep breath from where his head was nearly level with the woman's stomach. He cursed whatever god that had planned this catastrophe for the day.
 

Sabrina Emmerich

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OOC First Name
Camilla!
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Willow Wand, 11 3/4", Essence of Pixie Dust
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Sabrina looked a little worried and bemused when the man pulled a wand on her, but then she noticed how his hand trembled. It was Sabrina's 'gift' of sorts. She had always been a reasonably quiet person, and she had learnt to read others as one might read a book. Unnerving it may have been, but it helped Sabrina learn a lot. Obviously, she was wrong sometimes - she was unafraid to admit such a thing - but she had a feeling she was on the right track with this man. He seemed to be a little peeved with her, but that was drowned out by something else. Perhaps he was sick? It was times like these she wished she'd tried a little harder at school. She could've been a healer or something.

"Oh, you have me all wrong, sir," Sabrina replied, calmly, as he dropped his wand. "I wasn't intending on doing such a thing. I was merely on a stroll through here myself, I just happened to have my attention caught by you. I wouldn't dream of turning you in, as far as I know that's just how things work here in Bleak Street." Sabrina shrugged. Sometimes she was incredibly naive - a trait that could either be incredibly irritating or rather endearing. She had the feeling it was erring on the side of annoying right now. "I was thinking that perhaps you ought to have a healer take a look at you..." she said, crouching down as though to be level with him.

"Sir," Sabrina began, quietly, trying to catch his eyes. "I know this is probably rather intrusive of me, but far be it for me to sit idly by. You don't seem to be a bad man, but I think you're suffering, and you may not be willing to admit it. I am sure you probably want me to go away, but even though you are a complete stranger to me, I wish to help you."

There wasn't much a tarot reader could do, really, and he could easily knock her down. She didn't know what caused her to keep pestering the poor man, though it was probably her natural compassion. Her ability to read people occaisionally lead her to people who she thought she may be able to help. In this case, it was this man.
 

Calcifur Giordano

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Calcifur simply looked at the woman from under his lowered lashes. He could not believe that she was still here, nor could he recall the last time any female had talked to him for this long. The longer he listened, the more bewildered he became. What kind of person would see what she had just seen and not be fleeing for their life? The answer came when she queried about his health for the second time. Calcifur felt his impenetrable mask breaking, till finally it shattered and he rolled his eyes openly.
"You are the most infuriating person," he muttered under his breath as he removed the brown-paper wrapped lump from under his arm. At the same time, Calcifur gave a half turn and planted his back on the wall, knees slightly bent. "Look, woman," he said, noticeably dropping the 'Madam'. "I don't know what your angle is, but I'm telling you now that you shouldn't be hanging around here. My current employer has ordered me to collect this item," said Calcifur, holding up the package that was shivering slightly on its own, even despite his trembling hand. "And it appears to be unstable." He gave her a piercing look before relenting and glaring back at his prize. "I daresay the bastard didn't care whether or not it would kill me slowly whilst handling it, so long as it was delivered."</COLOR></FONT>
<FONT font="Times New Roman"><COLOR color="#000">Even as he spoke, an oily blue smoke began seeping through the cracks in the thick paper, and he nearly dropped it in revulsion. Calcifur looked on in mixed horror and fascination as it sunk slowly into the skin of his hand, dying the pores with it and bringing new pulses of nausea. A few tendrils of the substance began meandering its way over to the brunette woman, and he drew it closer to himself instinctively to keep it away. There were a few options to choose from at this point. He could dump the package for anyone game enough to steal it, Obliviate his spectator and seek out other commissions. He could also choose to continue on the short journey to the Apothecary to deliver the item which may kill him on the way, then see the woman off if he survived. Lastly, there was the option of taking the irritating lady's advice and seek out a healer whilst attempting to contain the dark object in a more practical transportation apparatus, but that would take time and money. Calcifur was leaning towards the first option, but he had never yet abandoned an order and the idea didn't sit well with him. The dark haired wizard cursed under his breath and clenched his fist around the package. When were things ever easy for him? The decision may yet be taken out of his hands if the witch decided to attempt to resolve matters by taking him to a healer, anyway. At this point, he wasn't sure he would be able to resist as another pulse shivered beneath his skin. "You'd better get out of here," said Calcifur softly.​
 

Sabrina Emmerich

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Camilla!
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Willow Wand, 11 3/4", Essence of Pixie Dust
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Sabrina almost gave a maniacal grin as the man called her infuriating. She wasn't disheartened by this at all - in fact, she was used to it. She'd been told she was a compulsive meddler. She just couldn't help herself. Everyone had to be okay, and she was determined to make it so, no matter what. Perhaps it was because she felt so lost and hopeless in her own skin, her own life felt so hollow and meaningless, that she had to give hope to others. If she couldn't help herself, at least she could help everyone else.

She kept right on smiling, although her smile faltered and gave way to a look of confusion and intrigue as the man held up the package. "Oh my..." she murmured, seeing the smoke, the movement, what it was doing to the man. "That certainly doesn't look healthy. Maybe you should let me carry it for a bit, save you the trouble for a bit." She held up her hands, knowing what he'd be thinking. "I promise I wouldn't run off to the Aurors with it or anything. Heck, do what you want, it's not really my business to tell you what you should and shouldn't do for a job," specifically when you don't really have one "but I figure I could maybe help you with it or something. So you can get the job done and then I'll take you to a healer, and we'll make up some story about a potions incident or whatever."

Okay, Sabrina wasn't the most practical person. She often acted without thinking things through, but her intentions were good. She didn't care whether or not if this was illegal, she was more concerned with the man's wellbeing.

She supposed that there was no such thing as black and white morality.
 

Calcifur Giordano

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"Bloody hell," he swore softly, resigned to his fate. Calcifur may not have had the most exciting life in the world, but he didn't want to throw it away for some scumbag client. His last vestiges of self preservation told him to trust the mystery witch ... only as far as he could throw her, but she was so delicate that he figured it would be a substantial distance. "You'll not be carrying it for more than a minute at a time. I'll carry it for five," said Cal finally. "If you get too ill to hold it any longer, we're dumping it and you can go back home. I'm not carrying you." he said, his voice adding a 'Home, or else'. He hands belied his hesitation as he held the package out, palm-upwards. If he could have admitted it to anyone, let alone himself, he would have said that he didn't want any part of the fearsome object touching her beautiful pale skin, but needs must and he certainly had a need to be rid of it. "Bastard better pay me for this." he said to no one in particular.
Calcifur glanced at the witch opposite him then withdrew his wand from his overcoat pocket. He touched the brown paper and muttered a soft "Obscuro". It wouldn't do much for the actual effects, but it would look a little less sinister to a passer-by. After a second thought, he added a "Protego Seccundus" to contain the object's reach to just their hands. Bad enough that it would make them vomit. They didn't need it going to their heads and addling their perceptions.
"Sh*t plan, by the way," added Calcifur without mockery to the small woman. "I can't think of a single potion that makes your pores turn blue. Skin, maybe, but this is a whole other bucket of fish." It came out a little too harsh but he was more nervous than he thought about the whole situation. For all he knew, there wasn't any need to call the Aurors on him because she was one, herself. What the hell was he thinking? "We're going up past Snapneck Alley, by the way, so if you've got a thing against prostitutes and Dragon Pox, you'd better leave now." Calcifur would be injecting every hint for the witch to take off, just in case she really was as silly as she looked and would go through with this fool plan. Finally, he handed over the package into her minuscule hands and lead the way down the crooked path, heading north towards the back-alleys. This was going to be fun. Calcifur swallowed, making his Adam's apple bob and the stubble on his cheeks look darker, and glanced beside him.
"So what's your name, chit?" he asked gruffly.
 

Sabrina Emmerich

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OOC First Name
Camilla!
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Willow Wand, 11 3/4", Essence of Pixie Dust
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Sabrina scoffed at the man, so determined to blow her off, but otherwise kept on infuriatingly smiling at the man, raising an eyebrow. "I'm stronger than I look," she insisted, but she supposed he had a point. She was still a rather small woman, and physical labours weren't something she took on. Heck, most of her jobs were party tricks for kids and fortune telling. Nothing incredibly dangerous. Still, she was overcome with an urge to help the man, and she certainly seemed in better health than he did, so she was determined to share the burden.
A little nervously, she grabbed the package, and couldn't contain a wince as she did. "Wh-" she started, before stopping herself. She was about to exclaim 'what the hell is in that?', but knowing that it was less than legal, she stopped herself just in time. Steeling herself, she kept walking as though nothing was wrong, gingerly holding the package inside her robes - subtly, though. She kept her arms crossed across her chest as though she was simply walking hiding something, wishing to keep to herself.
"Just a suggestion," she said, shrugging. "I don't always come up with the smartest plans." It was true, planning and thinking was not her strong point. She wasn't stupid, but she wasn't the most intelligent person there was. She'd grown a bit of street smarts over the years, but she was still helplessly naive at times. At least she wasn't naive enough to admit that she didn't have a thing against prostitutes as it was something she'd dabbled in in the past, when she needed money desperately. That wasn't something you brought up to a new acquaintance, even in a less than desirable situation.
"You can't get rid of me that easily," she simply said, with a wink and a cheeky grin. "Sabrina Emmerich, at your service, whether you like it or not." There was no point in lying about her name. She figured he was alright to trust. After all, he was letting her tag along, even though he was obviously annoyed by her. "And you?"
 

Calcifur Giordano

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<FONT font="Times New Roman">Cal almost winced when she smiled at him, as if the sunniness of it hurt his eyes. He felt way too old to be fooling about with a girl her approximate age, and he wasn't even involved with her in that way. This whole situation felt like the daftest thing he'd ever done, but he supposed it was about time for something different to happen, however inconsiderately timed. Fate waited on no man, he knew. He jammed his hands into the pockets of his shabby jeans and finally answered her.
"Calcifur. If I ever have the misfortune to meet you again, you can call me Cal." Something about beautiful women made him perpetually bad-tempered, as if he had to drive them off with a pitchfork (which he obviously didn't). To be fair, children, hobos and old people made him feel similarly, so why not shun an entire sex? He liked to think that he hated everyone equally, especially himself, but only the latter was true and he didn't know that it showed. Calcifur was silently intent on protecting his sudden charge and the longer he spent with her, the more see-through he became. He felt red raw like a graze being scrubbed of gravel.
They rounded the corner together and were both immediately accosted by the scent of cheap perfume, beer and sweat. The perverted and desperate were slithering out of the wood-works as the sun went down, which meant that the women (and men) of negotiable affections were priming themselves for the evening's trade. Girls no older than fifteen or sixteen thrusts their chests out and smiled coyly as they walked past, then resumed chatting as they moved on. Occasionally one would deign to approach them until Calcifur looked at them, at which point they scuttled off to change their soiled robes. Now that he had passed on the burden of the package he was feeling lighter, but he felt the pulses of its radius moving in from his left side where the woman ... Sabrina, he corrected himself mentally ... was walking. To his irritation, a marginally less repulsive gigolo began making his way over to Sabrina's side, and Cal drifted closer in unison. Without hesitation, he slipped his hand underneath the fold in her robes and wrapped his arm around her waist. The blonde wizard attempting to gain business pouted sourly and moved off, yet Calcifur did not remove his arm either. With his steely arm still pressed against the small of her back, he transferred the package from her hand to his and slid it out again to tuck it in his pocket. Though the contact was broken he kept close to her side, eying more fiercely the threats of unpleasant diseases in the form of night-workers.
"You alright?" he murmured to Sabrina. His shoulder brushed hers and he forced himself to ignore it. "The package, I mean."
 

Sabrina Emmerich

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Camilla!
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Willow Wand, 11 3/4", Essence of Pixie Dust
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She wasn't a stranger to filth and depravity, yet Sabrina hadn't exactly been hanging around the...ghetto, if you will, of the wizarding world. Not for a long time. It was only as a nineteen year old she had been in these sort of places, and as a twenty-five year old, she was ashamed of what she had been. Determined not to let that get to her, Sabrina simply kept her head held high, her eyes looking forward. This didn't frighten her at all. Sabrina was not one to be easily scared. She'd braved a fair bit in her life - well, she braved life itself, really - so a little bit of depravity and illegality was no big deal.
"An absolute pleasure to meet you, Cal." One might have thought of her as being sarcastic, but her eyes showed nothing but earnestness. She turned to him quickly, in order to establish her honesty, and flashed him a quick smile in order to encourage him. Carrying the package was draining, but as usual for Sabrina, she forced herself to keep smiling and keep a positive outlook. By now, it was second nature. She could wait until she was home alone to cry at any pain this was causing her. It was a rule that she never cried in public. She never showed any emotion other than happiness, or at least quiet contentedness, around other people.
Even in the foul, perverted streets, with a cranky man by her side and a terrifying package in her hand, she kept smiling. The girls approaching them were so young, the men so repulsive, Sabrina had to fight the urge to shiver, but it wasn't anything entirely unexpected. What was unexpected was the sudden feel of Cal's arm around her waist - evidently to keep the man away, but also to retrieve the package.
It was an instant relief to have it out of her hand. Of course, she was worried about what it might be doing to Cal, but it was such a nice feeling to have it gone.
"Oh...um...yes, I'm fine," she said, smiling - though really having to force it as she took a quick look at her hand. It had gone numb from holding it, and was tinged a rather disturbing blue. "No worries!" she exclaimed, looking cheerfully at Cal, as she forced herself to ignore the pain in her arm and the contact the two of them had briefly had.
 

Calcifur Giordano

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As soon as Calcifur had the package back in his hand, he felt as if ten stone had been added to the general weight of his being. It even seemed to affect his mood, which hadn't been peachy to begin with, and now he was practically walking with thunderclouds dancing overhead. Sabrina may have been a good reader of people, but Cal wasn't so bad himself and he could see how hard the witch was trying to hold herself together. Far from inducing sympathy, his mood only got blacker as he knew he'd have to be carrying the thing five times as long as she. He cursed his momentary gallantry.
"You don't have to be like that," he relented as they crossed into another dirty street, this timed labeled with a faded 'Bloodhound Crescent' sign. Crescent, indeed. The street was twice as wide as the one they'd entered from, but its width was somehow more oppressive as it was lined with brothels and pubs under the wide open sky. The general shops were at least a mile to the north west, and there lay the apothecary in all its decrepit glory. Cal furrowed his brows and looked at Sabrina. "This place is sh*t, this situation is sh*t, that package is sh*t and my company's probably worse. You don't have to keep your chin up on my account." Cal jammed his hands back into his pockets, which seemed to be an unshakable habit of his, and hid the lump of evil with it. He had a feeling he knew what kind of object it was. Having handled a range of volatile substances in his soon-to-be-short life, he was getting similar feelings from this delivery as he was those cursed mushrooms from last month. Unbeknownst to Calcifur and Sabrina alike, the package was stuffed full of squashed, ugly blue lumps that were a form of hallucinogenic truffle. Far from being a drug, the effects of ingesting (or, in this case, touching) the plant were similar to the Muggle disease Rabies. Naturally, neither of them were foaming at the mouth or attempting to bite unwitting bystanders, but the fungi aggravated one's less kindly emotions intensely, as well as provided eventually crippling bouts of nausea, fatigue, head pain and numbness in the extremities closest to its range. Cal didn't even know what he was holding and he was already wondering what the hell the apothecary wanted with such a menace. As they both reached the end of the second last street, Calcifur grasped Sabrina's hand and transferred the package to hers. This time he was panting, and beads of sweat were forming at his temples and running rivulets down his hard jaw. Finally he was forced to admit defeat and he turned back to the witch at his side.
"Sabrina ... I told you I wasn't letting you hold it for more than a minute at a time, and I'm sticking to that." he ground out, the pain in his head slurring his speech. "But I'm not going to make it to where we are going." Calcifur pressed his palm to his forehead and scrunched his eyes shut. "So I'm going to ask you to trust me more than you have before this moment. I'm going to apparate us to a safe spot, then dispose of this ... " he shuddered, " ... thing, there. There's a good chance I might keel over and die after getting there, so if you could Indendio the bastard lump, I'd be obliged." He wasn't thinking straight, openly admitting that he thought he was going to die, but he was over the dramatics of the situation and it was time to cut the cr*p. "Forget about family or kids or anything, I haven't got any. Just get yourself to a healer and, if I'm still alive, activate the portkey in my pocket and dump me on the kitchen table."</COLOR>
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</i>
<FONT font="Times New Roman"><COLOR color="#000">Feel free to Godmod Cal's house later on if she decides to take him up on that portkey offer.
 

Sabrina Emmerich

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Camilla!
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Willow Wand, 11 3/4", Essence of Pixie Dust
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Sabrina was caught off guard. Cal, telling her to stop trying to keep her head up. Nobody ever did that. Well, nobody ever noticed how hard she was trying, really. Nobody really bothered to pry in to Sabrina's headspace and she liked it like that. She meddled in the lives of others, but kept her own at a distance. Nobody but her own mother seemed to care enough to try to look at her own, and sure, maybe it was just noticing that she was trying so hard to keep herself together, but still, for Sabrina, that was a big deal. She wanted to protest that she could hold the package longer, but she had a feeling that he wouldn't let her, and she wasn't sure she had the energy to argue with him. Taking the package back was like adding a huge weight to her, and although she had absolutely know idea what could be in there, it wasn't doing her any favours. Even holding it for a minute was making her feel tired, giving her a headache, and making her feel a little sick.
Gotta keep yourself together, Sabrina, you've been keeping yourself together every day of your life, now this is a little test of your strength of character. You can do it. Worry about Cal, don't worry about yourself, like you're worth worrying about, anyway...
She gasped as Cal said he felt like he was going to die. He wasn't able to get the delivery there, and she felt like it was all her fault, simply for holding him up - even if she had taken the load for him for a little while. She was going to go to St. Mungo's later anyway - her potion was running out, she needed to get more of it - so she was going to grin and bear the pain until then, and going to make sure Cal was alright first. She grabbed his arm as they apparated. Where they went, Sabrina wasn't entirely sure. But there was no time to get her bearings. She had a job to do, and as Cal dropped to the ground in a stupor, Sabrina quickly incendioed the package, before rushing over to check Cal. He was still alive, as it happened, but not well at all. Reaching in to his pocket, and grabbing his hand, Sabrina activated the portkey, transferring them away in a blur to the living room of a house.
The house, she noted, was nicer than hers (not that that was hard or anything), but she put that out of her mind. Trying to ignore the throbbing pain in her temple, Sabrina moved Cal's body to a chair - ignoring his wish for her to simply dump him on the kitchen table. Intruding on him a little longer, she found a cloth, which she dampened, and a glass, which she filled with water. Taking them both over to him, she held the cloth up to his forehead and the glass to his mouth.
"See, you're still alive," she said, quietly, not even sure exactly how conscious he was, or what exactly to do in this scenario. She really thought that she should've paid more attention at school, then she could've become a healer or something. But the only classes she'd ever paid that much attention in were Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Astronomy and Divination...and there wasn't much you could do with those. Ignoring those thoughts, she focused on Cal, wondering what to do to help him now.

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Calcifur Giordano

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Cal felt proud of Sabrina in a bemused way as she followed his instructions to the T. She made no argument and simply hooked her arm into his as he started the apparation. The horrible sucking sensation accompanying their transition made his nausea all the worse so that when they arrived, he fell to the ground and retched. The abandoned quarry that Cal had taken them too was living up to its description. A more cold and empty place he could not imagine, and it was perfect for disposing of a fungus that deserved nothing less. Without ceremony, Calcifur tossed the package at their feet and wished he could be throwing it harder, but there was no room to doubt the need for its destruction. From a far away place in his head, he registered the noxious ash that bloomed up from the ruined corpse of the package. Calcifur swayed on his knees and gripped Sabrina's arm tightly, closing his eyes against the pain. He couldn't even muster the strength to get the portkey, but hadn't he expected this? He was surprised to even be aware of himself up to this point. If he made it through the week, he was going to find and kill his last employer.
Everything from there to the kitchen was a blur. Something chilly and deliciously wet pressed itself to his forehead and he sighed gratefully, only to find a cup at his lips. Calcifur sipped obediently but did not reply to Sabrina. Nothing would penetrate the numbness ... except a whine at the kitchen door.
"Wuff?" said a familiar voice. "Howard?" replied Cal, his mouth feeling like a dead cat in a dustbin. There was a skitter of paws on cork flooring as the raggedy scottish terrier came in to assess the situation. Calcifur's dog planted itself on Sabrina's feet with his tail thumping the ground and whined to be placed on his master's stomach where he usually resided. Even the dog could tell that something was wrong when Cal didn't respond. His lips were as blue as his hands, and they cracked open in time with his eyes to look at Sabrina. No words were spoken until he took the witch's hand in both of his, enveloping them in their softness, and whispered "Episkey." Gentle healing spread between them both and he finally opened his hazel eyes all the way.
"Well, sh*t." said Cal. "You're still here." Then he cracked a smile for the first time since meeting Sabrina. "Wuff!" added Howard.
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Sabrina Emmerich

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Weakly, Sabrina cracked another smile. Her head ached, she felt sick, her hand was numb, but she was going to be okay. She always was. She was a survivor, and she was far more worried about Cal at this point. Looking around, Sabrina saw the terrier run in and beamed at the dog as it planted itself on her feet (she had dilligently slipped her sandals off at the door). She liked animals. Never had pets of her own (likely she'd forget to feed them or look after them very well, considering half the time she barely remembered to feed herself), but she enjoyed playing with other people's pets, at least.
Thankfully, Cal was a much better healer than she was. Sabrina's idea of healing was to drink water and stay in bed, and to get a tub of chocolate icecream if she was having a bad day and curl up with a good book. Chocolate could heal almost anything. Of course, her ailments were that of the mind, not of the body, but still. She'd be getting a deluxe tub of cookies and cream icecream when she got home, after a day like today. At least she felt a lot better after Cal used a healing charm. Her head felt clearer, and she felt far less nautious.
"Sorry," she muttered, a little embarassed. She looked away, backing down for one of the first times since she'd met him. "I just wanted to make sure you were alright," she added - though there seemed to be more to his ailments than just what was caused by the strange package, and she was determined to try and help him however she could. Even if it was far beyond her simple comprehension.
 

Calcifur Giordano

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Cal softened a little at the look on Sabrina's face. "I know," he said calmly. "And you did help." Howard whined at him to be picked up and Calcifur finally relented despite the pain in his hands. The scruffy terrier began covering his stubbled jaw with kisses and he seemed to allow this for a moment before placing the dog unconcernedly into Sabrina's hands. "Hold the moron for me, would you?" said Cal as he stood up to remove his coat. His head pounded in protest, but whatever pain he felt now would be worth going to the cupboard for the Pepper-Up potion. He stripped off the grubby coat to reveal a gray tank over black jeans and boots. Now it was easier to see how he'd managed to survive the contact with the package. Calcifur was extremely fit and, although not Apollo in the facial department, was a mass of wiry muscle stretched over a thin hips and broad shoulders. He looked like the sort to be covered in scars but his arms were remarkably bare, although there were hints of lashings down the middle of his back. He looked a lot younger after removing the coat, but still hard-faced and ready for anything. At that moment he was looking calmer than Sabrina may ever have seen him. Coasting across the slightly broken-down kitchen, he flicked his wand at the kettle to start it boiling and fetched two bottles of Pepper-Up from the cabinet over the stink. One he tossed to Sabrina, and the other he downed without a wince despite the smoke coiling from his ears.
There was silence while he set a pot on the table in front of the witch, except for Howard who lolled lovingly on her lap making snuffles of happiness. Calcifur sat down heavily and leaned both elbows on the table. He seemed to be struggling to say something.
"You did good," said Cal finally. "Thanks. I ... did need you there for a bit." He sniffed nonchalantly and passed her a cup of steaming hot tea and gestured for her to sit down. "I didn't mean what I said about throwing you out, though. The least I can do is feed you for having to follow me through that sh*thole." Calcifur stared down into his mug and sighed heavily. "I'm Calcifur Giordano, by the way. That sycophant is Howard. We're on the south island, not far from Brightstone." Suddenly something seemed to occur to him, and he looked up and asked abruptly "How old are you?".
 

Sabrina Emmerich

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Camilla!
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Willow Wand, 11 3/4", Essence of Pixie Dust
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It was like Cal was a different person now, more calm and relaxed. Evidently, it was his job that was distressing him. It wasn't like Sabrina could comment on employment, though. She'd done the worst - she'd been a bar wench, a lady of the night at her worst, and now was a children's entertainer and a tarot reader, a fortune teller for muggles and wizards alike. Hardly stable, hardly respectable, but it kept a roof over her head (albeit a leaky one) and it kept her alive. Smiling nonchalantly, Sabrina petted the excitable dog, who was obviously glad to have his master home, and perhaps also glad for the extra company. She got the feeling that Cal didn't have friendly company much - then again, neither did she. She gratefully accepted the potion and took a long sip, before drawing away with a small shudder. Her potion was distasteful enough, but it didn't have the side-effects of smoke coming out of one's ears. It was simply a clear, slightly noxious potion only to be taken in small doses.
"Thank you," she said, quietly, taking the tea and taking a long sip. She gave a slight chuckle as he introduced Howard, the dog, as a sycophant. "I'm glad I should've happened to be as nosy as I was. You're not obliged to do anything for me, though," she added, though a meal would be nice. "I'm twenty-five," she added, a little surprised by his question, but paying no real mind to it. "And yourself?"
 

Calcifur Giordano

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"Twenty-eight," replied Calcifur distractedly. "You seem younger than twenty-five ..." She really did, in hindsight. Sabrina wasn't overly short or small-framed, but her persistent energy and good temper gave off an air of youth that he hadn't expected to see in Bleak Street. Cal pushed Howard away from his tea from where the terrier had dipped his furry face in delicately to sip from the cup. "Grownlph," said the dog sadly, thwarted. "I'm not exactly known for nosiness, myself, but I have to ask what you were doing in that part of Bleak Street in the first place. Even I don't go there unless business warrants it, and then I get the hell out as fast as possible till I can see sunlight again." said Calcifur. The tradesman drew himself to his feet again to put his cup in the sink, gesturing to show he was listening, and refilled Sabrina's before opening the cold box to see what was left. "Sh*t," said Cal to himself, using his favourite swear word. All that was left was two tins of dog food, a bottle of half-drunk red wine and an unopened packet of water crackers. He didn't even know he'd had those. He retrieved three out of four items and set them on the table. Howard began pounding Sabrina's leg with his tail at the sight of Puppy-Yum. He particularly liked the chewy biscuits shaped like witch's hats.
Calcifur help up the bottle enquiringly since his stomach had managed to settle, which meant that Sabrina was probably recovered as well. "There's not much," he said awkwardly, tearing open the flat tin for the Scotty and letting the dog tear into it with appreciative 'grunph, grunph' sounds. "Should have been paid, but you know what happened there." Cal fell silent and tilted his head on his hand, watching Sabrina. Once again he asked another abrupt question, seemingly unconcerned about the apparent rudeness of it. "Isn't anyone waiting for you?"
 

Sabrina Emmerich

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Camilla!
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Willow Wand, 11 3/4", Essence of Pixie Dust
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"You seem older than twenty-eight," Sabrina replied, cheekily - he didn't really look that much older than that age, in all honesty, but there was a weariness about him that gave him the air of someone older. She wasn't going to enquire, though. She may have been nosy, but she wasn't rude. She'd already imposed on him enough as it was, she supposed she ought to give the poor man a break.
"Boredom. Boredom and sheer curiosity." Sabrina shrugged, leaning back in her chair. "I was popping in to Obsidian Harbour when I decided to go take a peek for the hell of it. I guess I wasn't paying that much attention to what I was doing and where I was going." Sabrina wasn't stupid, but she sure looked like she was a permanent resident of cloud cuckoo land. She wasn't nearly as naive as she appeared, but she certainly was pretty naive. "I wanted to see if they had anything I'd be interested in. I don't think they did, though." Innocently, she took another long sip of her tea, feeling rather calm and relaxed. Seeing Howard's reaction to the dog food, Sabrina let out a lighthearted giggle, before stifling it with the palm of her hand. It was bad enough Cal already thought she was younger than twenty-five, she didn't need to prove it any further.
"Yeah...I'm really sorry about that," Sabrina muttered, looking away again. "I guess it was probably better for you not to finish that..." she looked down, with the awful feeling that she'd screwed up her new friend (at least, she hoped he would consider her a friend, as she was beginning to consider him to be one)'s employment. Shrugging to Cal's next question, Sabrina nonchalantly took a water cracker and bit it daintily, not sure whether to trust her stomach.
"Nope. I don't have any friends or family or even pets here. There's only me."
 

Calcifur Giordano

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Calcifur gave Sabrina a wry grin: the first of its kind in months. He didn't necessarily think that he looked older than he was, but he felt it. Everything that he'd seen in his life had bent his back that little bit more, if only figuratively. Somehow, being around Sabrina was lifting that burden just a little, although he didn't care to examine that feeling. He already felt some sort of misplaced protectiveness over the dotty witch. Cal resolved to watch her back if she ever ended up on Bleak Street again, which he fervently hoped she wouldn't. He swept up the dwindling bottle of red and nodded at the cupboard behind him, which it responded to by swinging open of its own accord and passing him two self-wrought wine glasses with an invisible hand. Calcifur was accustomed to his little displays of wandless magic, but he didn't think that Sabrina may not have been. It was not a very common talent.
"So you figured Bleak Street might kill the monotony, right?" said Cal sarcastically, but not unkindly. "You'll serve me a better apology by not stumbling down that street again. Next time you could meet worse than a dirty prostitute or an assaulter of old men." This time he didn't smile. "You're going to have to look after yourself better ... or I will." Wait, what the hell? Where did that come from? Calcifur's cheeks burned inwardly, but outwardly he managed to keep his embarrassment to a small tightening of the lips. Next, he'd be freaking admitting to her that he found her attractive. Hell no. When pork sails. Cal ducked his head a little and poured Sabrina a glass of the wine before lifting his. "To us, then. For having managed to survive our meeting relatively intact." His chagrin waned enough to allowed him lift the corner of his mouth. The moment was spoilt, however, when Howard gave a great snuff and sprayed the table in front of him with dog food. Calcifur rolled his eyes and uttered an "Out," which the terrier obeyed (but not before saluting Sabrina with a smelly lick on the foot).
The trader replaced his head onto his hand and went back to his new second-favourite pastime - Sabrina-watching. Once again, he was struck how much he liked the witch. This feeling was accompanied by a pang of not-quite-pleasantness, and the realisation that he was in a hell of a lot of trouble. The last thing he thought he needed was an adorable, delicate disruption to his perfectly ordered world. Calcifur frowned to himself, and finally asked her what he'd been wondering for some time.
"Why did you do it? All this ... " he said, gesturing to mean their general situation. "And don't give me some cr*p like 'Oh, I'dve helped anyone in need', because the first thing I did when you saw me was smack an old guy in the face." He looked at her hard. "I'm trying not to be completely retarded by asking you a question you can't answer, but ... why? I don't understand."
 

Sabrina Emmerich

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Camilla!
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Willow Wand, 11 3/4", Essence of Pixie Dust
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She liked the look of Cal when he smiled - not that she'd admit that, of course, but it was a nice smile, it made him look more relaxed and at ease. He was alright when he wasn't smiling, too, but the smile just added something extra. Mentally, she slapped herself for these thoughts, and just kept a blank yet friendly expression on her face. It was the mask she wore, basically. Sabrina hated the idea of anyone seeing past that mask, and unfortunately for her, Cal seemed to be getting dangerously close. It wasn't the strongest of masks, she supposed (then again, she wasn't the strongest of people). It was just there, strong enough to stop people from seeing her inner thoughts and feelings. Nobody seemed to bother prying.
Ignoring her wallowing, Sabrina focused on Cal again, quietly impressed by his display of wandless magic. She widened her eyes a little - she had seen it before, but not very often. Certainly, she was impressed by it.
Or he will? Sabrina cocked an eyebrow, giving Cal a quizzical look - but she decided not to press it. Indeed, she was hardly fazed by it. Likely, she wouldn't see him again - a thought which depressed Sabrina, for she rather liked the man and she did rather hope to meet him again. A smile lit up her face once more as she raised her glass to him before taking a drink. She didn't drink very often - and when she did, it was small amounts - but she appreciated a glass of wine every now and then. It was just lucky that she placed it down when she did, for she was a little surprised by Howard giving her a lick on the foot (although it caused her to give a small chuckle in bemusement. Sabrina wasn't at all used to pets).
The next question caused her to freeze, her brain seeming to go in to panic mode. He seemed to be getting far too close to the 'Sabrina behind the mask', and she honestly wasn't sure what to say to respond. "But I would've helped anyone in need," she replied indignantly, almost pouting as she looked at Calcifur with wide, honest eyes. "I've always been good at reading people, even from a distance. I guess I just saw a lot of negative energy from you - and not a bad negative. Just...a sad one I guess." She took a long sip of her wine, and sighed. "But you probably don't believe that. I'm not sure if I do either. I guess it's more like you just..." she paused again, taking another sip "...interested me. I was curious as to why you had done that and I guess I just wanted to understand more about you. I'm awfully nosy like that."
Sabrina looked down at the table, feeling rather embarassed by her answer. "You probably think I'm a total creep or something now, don't you. I...just...want to make people happy, I guess."
 

Calcifur Giordano

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Sabrina was right in that he didn't believe her for a second. 'Negative energy', indeed. Calcifur rubbed his forehead and tried to see this from her perspective, and it was quite difficult. When he was twenty-five (as well as up to and including his current age), he would have given anyone he saw in Bleak Street wide birth if they so much as blinked at him, let alone let him see such a casual act of violence. He was trying to understand her, he really was, but something told him that he'd have to settle with his fascinated horror. So ... She was beautiful, kind and an enigma. Sabrina literally couldn't be a worse candidate for friendship in Cal's mind. She was distracting, and distraction was dangerous. It disrupted the order of things.
"I don't think you're a creep," said Calcifur finally. "I just don't understand how you manage to be this ... " Swallowing, he searched for the most appropriate word. "This open. Frankly, it worries me." He didn't particularly like admitting that he worried about her, but he was too far gone already. Any more admissions couldn't hurt. "I know there's just you, and you've already proven that you can stand under pressure." Calcifur gave her a small smile. "I don't know. Maybe if I had any family or fr-" he coughed "- you know, people to watch out for, I'd protect them. I wouldn't want them to be alone like you."
Cal pushed back a dangling brown lock from his brow. "But sh*t, I don't know anything about that stuff. It's only been me and Howard for as long as I can remember. You're ... different." Bloody hell. Why don't you just start singing Celestina Warbeck? The violins will start any time now. Sh*t, she's gorgeous. Doesn't even know it, I'll bet. "I was out at Bleak on business, of course. Should probably reassure you that my occupation doesn't generally include brawling with other traders, but they get lippy, and well ..." Cal shrugged non-apologetically. "Can't say I totally buy the whole 'Oh, I was bored and just going for a walk down cut throat lane' story, though. You got a job, right?" he asked. It was a pathetic tactic to distract from his apalling slips of the tongue, but it was all he had. Sabrina was disarming him, piece by piece.
 

Sabrina Emmerich

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Camilla!
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Willow Wand, 11 3/4", Essence of Pixie Dust
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His questions cut right to the heart of the matter, and that terrified Sabrina more than anything. The horrors of Bleak Street didn't scare her at all, really. It wasn't a place she went on a regular basis, but when she'd hit rock bottom, when she'd been on the verge of death, when she'd been no better than she scoundrels they saw in Bleak Street...nothing scared her. Not anymore. She wanted to understand Cal better, but it was hard when he was turning the interrogation on to her. She could see his tough veneer was fading a little, but she was caught up in wanting to keep her impenetrable mask up. The only way she could get hurt was emotionally and mentally. That's how she saw it.
"I'm not...really," she offered. "I keep myself to myself, I worry about other people and that's enough for me." It kept her mind occupied, at any rate, to wonder about the lives of others, and to meddle every now and then. Though she'd never been as caught up as she was now with Calcifur. It seemed to be backfiring on her, as his questions caused her mind to go in to overdrive. You're insane. Stupid, ugly and insane, her mind reminded her, as her right hand unconsciously moved to her left wrist, unthinkingly fingering the scars underneath her sleeve. A badge of survival.
"I...I..." she began, feeling exposed in front of the man she'd only met recently. "Not really. I'm...I'm a fortune teller. I go to muggle fairs and read tarot cards for paying customers. Works for wizards, too. I...do odd jobs here and there, like babysitting. It's not much, but I'm surviving." She felt dreadfully embarassed at this revelation, and looked away in shame. Sabrina wasn't at all proud of herself, and if she had the motivation and the skills to work a decent job, she possibly would have, so she would be doing better than surviving. "I'd ask you about yours, but I have the sneaking suspicion you'd rather not talk about it."
 

Calcifur Giordano

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Somehow he wasn't surprised that his strange new friend didn't have a regular nine-to-five. Cal was just pleased she'd taken his 'different' comment in the complete opposite to his intention. He almost laughed when Sabrina told him she told fortunes. It was just so her. He smiled despite himself and held out his hand to her. "Palm reading? Scrying, tea-leaves, crystal ball gazing, that kind of thing? Yes, I suppose you'd be good at that, Miss 'You're Giving Off Negative Energy' Emmerich." Calcifur was having too much fun to notice how utterly she'd smashed his perfectly constructed visad. He was joking, laughing, even inviting touch, though he drew his hand away in case she did decide to start scoping his life line. She, with her uncanny ability to strip him bare, was again entirely correct about him not wanting to talk about his job, but once again Calcifur was struck with the futility of concealing things he'd already revealed.
"It's not particularly glamorous ... or legal, for that matter," he admitted, and he tossed the witch opposite him a shrewd look. "Although I have a sneaking suspicion that you're not unfamiliar with illegal activity, either." He sighed and sobered a little, thinking about that foul, poisonous fungi. "I'll admit that I don't usually deal in items like the one we ended up incinerating. Mostly I just accept commissions to purchase rare, illegal or tricky substances for various business folk who don't want to go through the proper channels. I meant what I said about you calling the Aurors, though. There's a reason it's a valid option." Calcifur grinned, his face decidedly wicked. "I am pretty dangerous. And I do always manage to get what I need." He'd meant it as a joke, but it slowly dawned on Cal that he could use his uncomfortable feelings to his advantage. He didn't want Sabrina thinking he was a good man and ultimately attempt to be his friend (Merlin forbid), and neither did he want her hanging around because he wasn't lying when he said he was dangerous. All questionable jobs aside, there was true darkness in his heart that was cultivated slowly and menacingly through a life on the streets. Cal could rightfully scare her ... so maybe he should. Proceed with caution. Don't just suddenly do a one-eighty. Just let her see ... who you could be. Cal looked into Sabrina's wide, innocent eyes and knew that sending her away and letting her go at the same time would be harder than he'd thought. The heavy weight that had lifted when Sabrina had pressed the cold flannel to his head returned with company. Calcifur felt sick: he steeled himself.
He trapped her returning hand delicately between his, feeling another pang as he noticed how small they were. "I'm not much of a fortune-teller, myself," he said, his voice rumbling nicely at the end. Calcifur turned her palm over and placed a single finger in the middle of it. "But it would be highly coincidental for you to have two near-death experiences in one day ... " Calcifur turned the menace up to mach 5. This was the first time in years that he'd had to pretend to be terrifying. Better that he used what he could to get rid of her before she could do any more damage to his persona. His nerves against her perception. Cal just hoped she wouldn't recognise that she was in a boss fight.​
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