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Author Topic: let me down slowly [Vagary AU]  (Read 2988 times)

* Avery Elliot

    (09/30/2020 at 15:18)
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text message
to fiona's mother
3:20 pm
do you want me to be joking?

3:21 pm
at my house, we typically don't act without intention. leads to bad energy
You carry the heavens in your eyes
(Like one of those old Greek tragedies)
and I'd call you Atlas but
he wasn't given a choice to hold the stars
(You were.)

* Vega Nettlebed

    (10/04/2020 at 21:37)
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text message
to Avery Elliott
3:26 pm
Right.

3:29 pm
What’s your address?

3:30 pm
And can I get there by Floo?

* Avery Elliot

    (10/07/2020 at 02:28)
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text message
to fiona's mother
3:30 pm
i was going to say no, but apparently we are on the floo network

3:30 pm
news to me

3:32 pm
floo address: the fool's purse
You carry the heavens in your eyes
(Like one of those old Greek tragedies)
and I'd call you Atlas but
he wasn't given a choice to hold the stars
(You were.)

* Vega Nettlebed

    (11/10/2020 at 21:48)
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7:33 p.m.
foxe farm, bristol


“What do you mean, you want to go out?”

Magda Nettlebed stared at her second-born. It wasn’t often that Vega Violet expressed any interest in going anywhere that wasn’t out into the woods or the fields behind the farm to go foraging for mushrooms or herbs or some kind of rare bark that could apparently only be harvested 3 nights a year.

The request sounded suspiciously like a lie.

“What do you mean, what do I mean?” Vega shot back at her, caustic as always and with blue eyes flashing bright. “I want to go out. My—”

Plant’s father, whilst the most accurate term, was probably also the most worrying.

Vega settled for a lie, “—friend’s invited me over. To celebrate the New Year. Nothing crazy. Just me and him and his parents.”

And anywhere from two to two hundred perfect strangers, depending on how popular and how big his family’s weird little shop was.

“Right.” Magda Nettlebed didn’t sound convinced. “Well, someone’s going to have to go with you.”

9:27 p.m.
the fool's purse, god knows where


This was a terrible mistake.

This was a terrible mistake, but she had already committed to it now, and there was no way in hell Maia Nettlebed was going to let her climb right back into the fireplace and Floo back home again, not when they hadn’t even given the place five minutes of their time and not when she was already fuming with Vega for landing her with the role of babysitter tonight of all nights.

(It was her own fault, Vega reasoned, for not being able to think of a quick enough excuse when Magda had asked her what her plans were on New Year’s Eve.)

That she had ruined Maia’s evening didn’t make the fact that she had ruined her own, too, any less bitter.

Damn her sister. And damn him, Avery Elliot, and damn everyone in this stupid—

There he was.

Vega clutched Fiona a little tighter.

When she turned towards Maia, her sister had already floated off to inspect some crystals hanging down from the top of a doorframe. Vega was alone, abandoned; she had no other choice but to look back at Avery Elliot, who was suddenly standing right in front of her.

“…Hi.” 

* Avery Elliot

    (12/14/2020 at 04:19)
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8.13 p.m.

He didn't think she would actually come. He was terrified she would. (Perhaps, some small piece of him, hoped she would prove him wrong, yet again.)

His mother asked why he needed their Floo address, having never expressed interest in the wizarding-magical aspects of their store before and Avery stood there with an expression that could only be explained as guilty. A friend? A half-foe? Well, she said you were wrong, mother, but she didn't mean it maliciously. I don't think, anyways. Actually, she did mean it maliciously, but I'm sure she wouldn't say the same upon meeting you. Avery chewed his lip and looked away, unwilling to lie but the truth too blunt to tarnish the cleansed energy of the store.

"If you're intending on someone to show up in it, you best tell me now so I can light it," Tia said evenly while Stef peeked over his mother's shoulder with a smirk. Avery stayed silent, wondering if he intended for anyone to show up at all.

He did, of course. Avery had acted and his intention was clear.

"I invited a ... project partner," Avery finally said and Tia turned with a nod. Stef's laughter made his cheeks burn as he moved the bowl of amber shards to catch the last of the sunlight.



9:27 p.m.

Oh no. The hearth in the back hallway flared green, Avery could see the glint of it in the reflection of the quartz point he held. Tia had informed him there was no one else expected to come through the Floo, so he was responsible to turn it off when his invited had left for the evening.

Avery reached for the small brown bag with wisteria and mayflower drawn by a careful pen, holding it behind his back as he eased to the side of the room. His dark gaze watched as not one, not two, but three emerged from the hall. She had brought Fiona and another female.

Avery's face paled when he realized the magical plant would be obvious, actually unsure if there were Muggles in attendance. Since starting at Hogwarts, it became less clear which of their patrons were practitioners of untraditional wizarding magic or occult muggle magic. His mother repetitively assured him there was no difference but now Avery thought the difference was quite important.

Glancing at his mother who had also turned when sensing the Floo activated, she seemed unconcerned, if drifting towards one person who stared a moment too long at the green flare off the wall.

Progress halted, his heart stuttered to know Vega had come accompanied and added a second to press their judgement to his spine until he bent. He straightened all the same, touching bronzite and carnelian as he passed.

The unknown female with Vega moved off quickly and Avery felt the pressure relieve, though it would return if he thought too much about how his mother watched from across the room.

Vega held Fiona close and Avery shifted his eyes from the paleness of Vega's fingers around the pot to her face. "Happy New Year's Eve," he said with a tilt of his head, hair flopping with the motion.

Then, because it was the only safe ground, "I have a gift for Fiona." And you.
You carry the heavens in your eyes
(Like one of those old Greek tragedies)
and I'd call you Atlas but
he wasn't given a choice to hold the stars
(You were.)

* Vega Nettlebed

    (01/31/2021 at 23:12)
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Your hair’s gotten longer, she almost said.

Your hair’s too long, she almost said.

“Happy New Year’s Eve,” echoed, hollow, between them as she returned to Avery Elliot those four words he had given her instead of her opinion on his obnoxiously gold curls.

He had a gift—for Fiona, of course, not for her.

This was lucky, Vega thought, if only because she hadn’t had the foresight to bring anything but Fiona along, and it would only have added to the painful awkwardness of it all if he had offered her a present in a gesture she couldn’t reciprocate.

She searched again for Maia; still too invested in those stupid crystals, still too far away to be of any use to her whatsoever. If she’d been smart, she would have brought Valerie along instead. As it was, she was stuck with her sister.

(Maia disappeared through the doorway.)

—or without her.

Her gaze shifted again to meet his, and found in it that unsettling shade of the storm meeting the sea. She drowned in it for one long beat.

Then, inhaling a lungful of air instead of saltwater, “What did you get her?” A frown flickered, a preemptive warning, “I already got her a new pot, remember, so it better not be another. She only needs the one.”

Until she grew again, at least.
« Last Edit: 01/31/2021 at 23:13 by Vega Nettlebed »

* Avery Elliot

    (02/19/2021 at 04:53)
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"I wouldn't dare," Avery said honestly, only an edge of sarcasm trailing behind. To challenge Vega in any regard was to welcome the ferocity of her displeasure, prickles pressed to his skin. Harmless, perhaps in the long run, but even a burr can leave a scar.

Bag swinging behind his back, Avery hesitated, suddenly nervous.

Not suddenly, since he'd been slightly on edge the entire time, but whereas before his mind held onto petrified wood, now it tumbled into the brown paper bag where gifts that would hold no meaning for Vega hid.

Left hand shoved into his pocket, brushing against a crumpled note he had removed from the bag earlier, his right presented the gift.

In the depths of that folded bag, Avery had two gifts.

One was obviously for Fiona. A small watering can with a moonstone embedded at the bottom, in case she ran out of moonwater while with Vega. It wouldn't be as potent, but it could do in a pinch.

The second, petals Fiona had shed carefully pressed and preserved in clear resin, could have been for Fiona as well. To keep her lost pieces close.

Except, wrapped in copper twine, the pendant only lacked a string. Like the mayflower and wisteria he drew on the bag, wordlessly, this was for Vega too.

"Do you think she'll like them?"
You carry the heavens in your eyes
(Like one of those old Greek tragedies)
and I'd call you Atlas but
he wasn't given a choice to hold the stars
(You were.)

* Vega Nettlebed

    (03/12/2021 at 07:53)
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She took the bag from him, full of Fiona’s gifts.

And if she noticed the hand-drawn mayflower, the inked wisteria (she did), then she didn’t ask why he had bothered with it. Avery Elliott, she had learnt over the past few months, did everything for a reason and nothing in vain. Whatever strange ritual, whatever ancient casting, whatever sheer symbolism he had pressed in black ink with the tip of an Augurey’s feather or some other such nonsense, Vega didn’t know or care. Let him be strange and keep his whispered secrets to the stars, his silent offerings to gods she’d never heard of. It made no difference to her whether the bag was decorated or not.

“Hold her,” was a command as she thrust Fiona out towards him, her focus slipping temporarily from their leafy child to the gifts he had brought.

Her fingers met cold metal, moulded into a familiar shape. The stone, glinting through the darkness in an eager attempt to catch her eye, did not go unnoticed as she drew the watering can into view.

It rested there, the watering can, in the crook of her arm as she unravelled copper threads to find remnants of her, this plant that was theirs, trapped and frozen in time.

I have a gift for Fiona, Avery had said, but he had not mentioned that there were two gifts, actually; and he had not mentioned that one of these presents was not for Fiona at all—for what good were dried petals to her when she could will herself into growing new ones?

Silence.

Vega carefully slipped the copper twine and the resin back into the bag. She set the watering can on top of them, she refolded the top. She hid wisteria and mayflowers beneath a flat palm.

“She likes them.”

She liked them, and Vega did, too.

“I—” She winced, she tried again. “We didn’t get you anything.” No smile flickered, but there was a hint of laughter in her eyes, “Fiona thinks you’re too difficult to shop for.”

* Avery Elliot

    (03/25/2021 at 16:33)
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Commanded, Avery kept Fiona close. He held their leafy charge over his pounding heart, wondering if Fiona felt the bristle of his nerves against her pot or if the malachite guarded her well. Hiding his nervousnesses behind Fiona's gnashing teeth, he watched Vega assess the gifts between her waving leaves, and pretended to be checking the moisture level of her soil with an absent finger.

(He wished he could touch Fiona's malachite deep beneath her roots, settling to brush against Fiona's rough stem and avoiding the sway of her open mouth.)

The watering can passed her judgement easily. Vega rarely had complaints when it came to Avery's care of Fiona, accepting of it if only so they didn't argue in front of Fiona. The resin passed between her fingers and Avery held his breath, not disturbing the stillness, eyes flicking between the petals protected from her sharp nails, and her equally cutting gaze.

“She likes them,” and Avery might have smiled if he was a different boy and she was a different girl. Though, if they were different, perhaps she wouldn't have liked his gifts at all.

Instead, Avery looked away from Vega to the shop with its raw crystals and singing bowls, because he wasn't hard to shop for at all if you knew the right store. Patchouli drifted through the air, burning on the counter where Stef wrapped a purchase in brown paper, sealed with wax. His voice was made of the same soft nothingness. "And if you had to choose something?"
You carry the heavens in your eyes
(Like one of those old Greek tragedies)
and I'd call you Atlas but
he wasn't given a choice to hold the stars
(You were.)

* Vega Nettlebed

    (04/02/2021 at 14:55)
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If she had to choose something for the boy with too much hair and eyes the colour of a stormy sea—

Fiona shook herself free of any responsibility, her leaves shifting, restless and anxious, beneath the weight of Avery’s ask. Vega wished then that she could do the same: that she could shrug him off with a twitch of her shoulders, because she didn’t know the answer to his question, she only knew that she didn’t know it and that anything she said would be wrong.

They were of different worlds, Vega Nettlebed and Avery Elliot. He belonged here in the shrouded smoke and the heavy scent of fate calling, trapped in hanging crystals and dried sage. She belonged outside, in the brown dirt and the green grass and the violent orange of petals set alight by the sun.

“Well, there’s hardly any point in getting you something you’d like.” There was a reason he was the way he was—and that reason was the shop he had grown up in. He had all the crystals and cards and incense he might ever need, here at The Fool’s Purse. “You’ve got it all here already, haven’t you.”

She gestured with a wide, sweeping arm, drawing everything around them into their conversation.

No, there was hardly any point in getting him something he would like—but that was what gifts were, weren’t they? Something that the person receiving them would like, regardless of what the person giving it thought of such nonsense.

“But if we had to—” If she had to, she meant, “—then maybe we would get you a crystal.” Like the ones he liked to press deep into Fiona’s soil, until they met her roots and worked whatever magic he believed in; like the one in her pocket, blue trapped in green trapped in blue.

“Something to make you less confusing.”

For her sake, for Fiona’s, for his own.

A challenge broke between them, “What crystal provides simplicity and clarity, Avery?”

Perhaps they didn’t work that way; perhaps there was no crystal in the world that could save him from himself.

* Avery Elliot

    (05/03/2021 at 13:42)
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“You’ve got it all here already, haven’t you,” she said with a sweep of her arm. It covered perhaps the smallest part of his life, the store nestled between a restaurant and a used furniture store, minuscule when compared to the Hogwarts grounds and the rest of the Magical world. He'd only spend summers and winter holiday here now, fractions of time to listen to the windchimes and refold tarot cloths.

Yet, it was the largest part of his life and the most important. The only magic he'd ever known, folded around him like a shroud. Part of him settled, content, to know she recognized he had 'it all here already', though she didn't really mean that at all.

Amused, Avery's nose wrinkled in a huffed laugh. "If I want to pay for it," he replied. "And we have some," a small half-shrug, "but not all."

“Something to make you less confusing.”

She was already on the right track if she thought in crystalline point to speak of him.

As she spoke of clarity, Avery drifted to the shelves lined with bowls. The crystals sparkled underneath the lights, some of them rough-cut and others polished and gleaming.

"Of thought? Of action? Of intent?" he asked, though expected her to answer nor care for none.

"Petrified wood for grounding, knowledge, truth, connection with the earth. Clarity during dawn and dusk, when we are on the verge of shifting." He touched one with the tip of his finger, striations like tree bark.

"Flint," he continued, past the grey chips. "Decisiveness, growth, wholeness, transformation, insight."

"Miriam Stone." Looked a bit like a plain brown stone with splatters of orange-yellow paint, perfect orbs on display on a plush pillow to keep them from rolling. "Gentle self-expression, expansion, sense of purpose, mastering fear, living in the present."

He stopped at the end of the shelf, nodding to a small pile of rough-cut stones of a dark purple and grey. "Axinite, bridging between the spiritual and physical, balancing polarities, focus, expanded wholeness and awareness."

Turning to face her, Avery tried to gauge if she'd listened at all. To an outsider, he could see how crystals didn't seem simple or clear, but things in life were rarely so straightforward. Hogwarts Magic, Witch and Wizard Magic - confusing, unrealistic. Grounded in fantasy.

But, perhaps that was the answer all along: magic only meant that which could not be easily explained.
« Last Edit: 05/03/2021 at 13:42 by Avery Elliot »
You carry the heavens in your eyes
(Like one of those old Greek tragedies)
and I'd call you Atlas but
he wasn't given a choice to hold the stars
(You were.)

* Vega Nettlebed

    (06/06/2021 at 16:40)
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Clarity of thought, of action, of intent. Clarity of feeling, of words, of everything and anything, because none of it made sense when it was framed in the silhouette of Avery Elliot.

She did not understand him. She would not pretend to understand him. And for all the promises he made on behalf of his crystals, she wasn’t sure that they would do the job at all.

Petrified wood—to illuminate that in-between space that they inhabited in so many different forms. She almost asked him then what he looked like in the twilight, caught off guard by her own intrigue. But she brushed the question aside with a twitch of her head; she knew what she looked like in the twilight and at daybreak, too—the same as she always did, because if anything was constant for her, it was the reality of herself.

Flint—she missed the point of this one, with its accumulation of meanings, each less tangible than the last.

Miriam stone—she’d never heard of it, though her fingers suddenly itched to curl themselves around their earthy orbs, to feel them pressed cold against the lines of her palm.

Axinite—the bridge between the physical and the spiritual; Vega suspected that he had a little too much of this one, and that his bridge was severely unbalanced; at risk, even, of shattering completely and leaving him stranded in the skies.

She counted them out with him: petrified wood, flint, miriam stone, axinite. She didn’t believe in them, because it wasn’t in her nature to believe that which could not be proven—and his crystals, for all the weight of them in those bowls, could prove nothing.

But a gift wasn’t meant for the giver; it was meant for the receiver, and the crystals meant something to him, if not to her.

The dioptase in her pocket protested its purpose, its meaning. She silenced it with warning fingers.

“How much?”

Vega tilted her head towards the bowls on the shelves.

“How much for all four?”
« Last Edit: 09/04/2021 at 21:16 by Vega Nettlebed »

* Avery Elliot

    (07/05/2021 at 01:03)
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"How much for all four?" she asked and Avery smiled lightly. He had no idea. Payment in personalized sigils, extra chores, cleansing the crystals. Avery paid in time what Vega weighed in coin.

Would one ever truly be more than the other? Perhaps not, but there was something that Avery definitely valued more. He knew his mother was the same, when she met his gaze across the way and raised an eyebrow.

(He could always pay the difference.)

"How much are they worth?" he wondered in return. "Mother would accept that as payment."
You carry the heavens in your eyes
(Like one of those old Greek tragedies)
and I'd call you Atlas but
he wasn't given a choice to hold the stars
(You were.)

* Vega Nettlebed

    (07/10/2021 at 21:13)
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Trust Avery Elliot to take a simple question and make it complicated.

Could he do anything without having an existential crisis? Or did he sit there with his cereal each morning, contemplating whether the world was just a bowl of milk and he was nothing more than a single, soggy cornflake in a sea of other soggy cornflakes? The answer to that, Vega suspected, was probably—unless, of course, he didn’t eat cereal.

She almost asked him, then—not about the existential crises he was probably having on a daily basis but whether he ate cereal for breakfast—but she caught herself just in time.

“A Sickle,” she decided for both of them, because she wasn’t in the mood to play this game with him. “Each one’s worth a Sickle.”

Her gaze narrowed, “Or is this the part where you tell me you only accept Celtic coins and hippy-dippy hugs?”
« Last Edit: 09/13/2021 at 05:43 by Vega Nettlebed »

* Avery Elliot

    (08/31/2021 at 03:24)
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Avery had long since stopped questioning the worth of coin for others, but he couldn't help but wonder if Vega thought the stones, in general, were worth a sickle, or if it was specifically because it was supposed to be a gift for him.

Probably both.

At least she thought they were a sickle each.

"I doubt our grocer would accept hugs as payment for bread," Avery snorted. "And unless Gringotts has an exceptional currency exchange rate for Celtic coin, I doubt Mother would want that either."

Glancing sidelong at his mother, he noticed she was busy with someone else that seemed to be asking about the charmed stones they had painted sigils on the last full moon of the year. He'd have to decide whether it was worthy payment himself, though unless he wished to question Vega's reasoning (tempting, for sure, but they only had one evening to bicker this Winter break) he'd have to accept what she offered.

"Four sickles then," Avery said with a grin, extending his hand.

His voice pitched a bit higher as he spoke in the tone he used for customers, "Would you like them wrapped, Miss? We also offer cleansing for two sickles."
You carry the heavens in your eyes
(Like one of those old Greek tragedies)
and I'd call you Atlas but
he wasn't given a choice to hold the stars
(You were.)

* Vega Nettlebed

    (09/04/2021 at 21:26)
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She almost laughed at his comment on the exchange rate, because it was almost funny—almost, but not quite. She caught herself just in time, she pressed her hands into her pockets.

Her fingertips brushed smooth stone; she swept past it in favour of cold silver.

One. For petrified wood. For Avery Elliot in the dusk and the dawn.

Two. For cold, hard flint. For a rigidness that she bore and his golden curls didn’t.

Three. For miriam stone. For him, for her, for Fiona, perhaps; for all of them together and apart.

Four. For Axinite. For all his ghosts, past and present and future. Perhaps she would be one of them one day.

She counted them out, just like that: one, two, three, four, a stack of silver shifting from her palm to his. And though she was tempted to lift her voice to match his, to mock him in the same way she had been mocking him since their first encounter back in September, she didn’t.

“I haven’t got another two Sickles,” Vega shook her head, “but you can run them under the tap later for free.”

And as for the wrapping paper, “Do you want them wrapped?”

It was his gift, after all.

* Avery Elliot

    (09/12/2021 at 22:47)
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I haven’t got another two Sickles.

Avery's head tilted slightly in response. Though his nose wrinkled at the mention of the tap (the tap, honestly, what kind of witch did she think he was -) his dark gaze trailed across hers, wondering what she meant. Did she only have knuts and galleons?

Or was his gift really worth the rest of her pocket change?

He'd probably never know. The better option, for both of them.

"I would offer a better cleansing service than that for free," Avery sniffed instead, taking each of the stones over to the counter where he dropped the four sickles into their till. In response to her question, he wrapped the stones himself. Paper speckled with playful designs, pale fingers deftly tying it up with a gold ribbon.

When he was satisfied (it was his gift, after all) after curling the ribbons, Avery smiled proudly at it. He automatically offered it to Vega before pausing. Was he supposed to just unwrap it? Or did she want to give it to him?

"Here," he said. "Give it back some other time, it would feel weird to get it right away."

Give me a gift.
You carry the heavens in your eyes
(Like one of those old Greek tragedies)
and I'd call you Atlas but
he wasn't given a choice to hold the stars
(You were.)

* Vega Nettlebed

    (10/10/2021 at 12:07)
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She watched him wrap his gift with the same lithe ease he did everything else.

It irked her, the way he seemed to somehow simultaneously languish and hurry all at once, the way things he moved so quickly but with such a laziness—grace, she might have called it if she had been inclined towards kindness, but she wasn’t inclined towards any such thing and so laziness would have to do.

There, his smile seemed to say, curving like a crescent moon; she wanted to crush it—his smile, the moon—between her fingers.

Here, his mouth said, and she reached to take the beautifully-wrapped stones from him.

“Some other time,” she echoed. “When you’re least expecting it.”

Let me surprise you, for once.

Avery Elliot was not the type of boy who was easily fazed.

With a brusqueness he ought to have been used to by now, Vega unfolded the bag which held Fiona’s gifts and tucked the present which would one day by Avery’s in with the watering can and the preserved petals.

“What’s next.” The question cut bluntly towards a statement. “Magic candles or your rare twine collection or—” Vega glanced about for something equally as ridiculous, “—embalmed animal organs?”