|Scene Title||An Unbreakable Vow|
|Synopsis||A vampire and a werewolf cross paths.|
|Location||Hyde Park, London|
|Date||October 22, 1994|
|Watch For||Peter Pan|
So soon after the full moon, Tiana almost /never/ sees a client. This month, however, she'd made an exception. A client she'd known these seven long years had come into town for a royal function and had requested her presence as his date for the evening. While it wasn't her /usual/ task, he knew that she would be the optimal partner to win him friends among the gathered dignitaries. So it is, then, that Tiana - dressed in a long, elegant dress of midnight blue - is out and about at nearly two in the morning. Exhaustion is well-hidden by her usual glamours, but there's a weariness to the set of her shoulders that no amount of magic could disguise. Full of the knowledge that she will not sleep for hours yet, she decides to walk across the park to her flat. On the way, she spies the statue of Peter Pan - the boy who never grew old - tucked away in a niche of the gardens and moves towards him without even thinking. Her feet are bare - shoes from the evening carried in one hand, despite the chill - and so she clambers up to sit on the back of one of the benches. With a sigh, she pulls her long, black hair from its pins to tumble in loose curls down her back; her eyes fixed on the statue but not really seeing it. With the events of the past ten days, there is much on her mind.
It is relatively rare that Ichabod makes trips to modern London; he dislikes the noise, the bright lights, and the throngs of Muggles moving about so freely - especially because he has reasons of his own to avoid /their/ company. But tonight he has a specific purpose for being here. A triple-lifetime of changing styles have taught him that while his odd tastes are easily tolerated within the Wizarding world, Muggles tend to be more skeptical - and so he has carefully selected his attire for the evening: a conservatively fashionable gray suit (cut in the modern proportions that he personally considers ridiculous-looking), a plain wooden cane, and a black flat-cap.
The old man paces slowly through Hyde Park, seemingly on a random course, although he is indeed searching for something - a Hag that supposedly has been causing a good deal of trouble in the area. But he suddenly stops when he nears the small clearing in which the statue is the centerpiece, his head turning slowly to one side. His pale gray eyes settle on Tiana, and his lips thin out cautiously.
Seated thus, and lost in her own soup of thought, Tiana doesn't even notice the approach of another. It is a mistake that could cost her life; unforgiveable, given that she /knows/ better. Only after several moments of inhaling the wind does something seem to occurr to her. Carried on the night breeze is a musty scent, like unto an attic or chamber that has not been opened for a very long time. It is the smell she has learned to associate with the very old; the dying. Inhaling a little deeper, she has to fight the urge to gag as, yes, the aftertaste of Death coats the back of her tongue. Turning her face into the wind, she searches for the source of the smell, only to be confronted with a very odd man in a grey suit. He doesn't /look/ to be dying, but Tiana has learned over the years that looks are most often deceiving. To the odd man, she offers a softer smile than she gives to most while in this guise; sympathy and a little envy in her china-blue eyes. A slow nod of recognition is given, and then she turns back to the statue; to her thoughts.
The 'dying' man - Ichabod - simply stands there as he's observed in turn. He gives no nod in response, although that perhaps would not be entirely out of character for many old, irritable men. But when the woman turns to look at the statue again, he begins to stride deliberately in her direction. Despite the presence of the cane, he doesn't seem to rely on it at all - his gait is very smooth and relaxed. As he comes closer to her, his expression goes blank for an instant, although his stony gray eyes narrow as if in confirmation of some unspoken realization. He stops perhaps a body's length away, sinking the cane into the soft grassy ground just in front of his feet and leaning on it with both hands. "Good evening, young lady."
This time, Tiana is more aware. She hears the steps approaching her, but doesn't turn until she is addressed. "Hello," she offers quietly. Her voice is smooth, light and soft; were she a vocalist, she would be classified as a soprano. There's an accent there to cover her words, heavy and rolling. It narrows her origins to most of Eastern Europe, and to a trained ear, to the northern Russo-Romanian border. Her smile returns; cranky old men don't bother her one whit. She scoots herself over so that one side of the bench is completely free. "Would you care to sit down?"
"No thank you," Ichabod replies slowly, remaining in place with the cane planted between his feet. His voice, unlike hers, is a low rasp - but it somehow retains a smooth quality that is oddly pleasant to hear. He leans forward to get a closer look at the woman, and briefly his own nostrils flare a bit - although this is quite possibly more in reaction to a perfume or similar substance she could be wearing than something he senses about her actual person. At this proximity the scent of decay she'd be sensing from his person would probably be multiplied several-fold; his eyes flit over to the statue, and while he avoids looking at her for the moment, his words to her are spoken quite clearly. "Do you know what I am?" The 'what' is emphasized lightly, to make it clear that he does not mean 'who'.
So close, the scent of ancient things and decay seems to fall over Tiana like a wool blanket. This is far, far too much to come from something living. Perhaps a victim of leprosy then? But she had thought the Muggle scientists had cured that. Shifting her weight to a slightly more advantageous center - should she need to move quickly - a slender hand rises up to push hair behind her ear. For a woman alone in a secluded park alcove with a man she doesn't know and dressed to impress, she seems eerily at ease. "A leper?" she asks, with just a /hint/ of dry humor. No need to offend the man or blow her cover if it turns out she is only being paranoid.
Her guess is enough to make Ichabod chuckle to himself in surprise. Instinctively, he takes a step back, seeming to realize that his presence may be mildly offensive to her. "Not quite. But I am, I think, the first of my kind you have encountered.." He doesn't seem to be ill-at-ease with the prospect of 'outing' himself to her, perhaps because he's already guessed what she is - within reason, at any rate. "..or perhaps I should be more specific: I am probably the first of my kind you have encountered since /your/ change, if you are what I believe you are." To dispel any notions that he is threatening her, he smiles amicably - just enough for her to see the points of two very elongated teeth. He'll let her make of that what she will.
Pale already, Tiana's skin seems to become almost blue-ish in tinge as all of the red blood rushes away from her extremities. It is the first step in the fight-or-flight reaction. Eyes widening almost comically, she /leaps/ sideways, clearing the bench and landing in a half-crouch. See? There's a reason all of her dresses have slits the push the borders of propriety. It's practical, for several reasons. These are the times she wishes most for the once-familiar weight of a wand in her hand. "What is it you want, vampire?" Her accent thickens, but her tone is no longer pleasant. An amicable smile - given from a fanged nightmare where she comes from - is a precursor for death. "Do you not think it a little foolish to hunt so close to the wizards?"
Ichabod barely flinches as she dives aside, although his stance shifts just enough for someone with a trained eye to notice he's no longer merely resting idly - no, he's definitely posed to defend against any incoming attacks, the grip of his gloved hands around the cane loosening so that he can drop it easily to the side. There's also a barely-concealed attitude of amusement on his face, although he does politely thin out his lips once more to conceal his fangs from view. "Young lady, I /am/ a Wizard, and when I do hunt, I prefer hart or fox. Ichabod P. Noble, Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Vampire Liaison." As if to prove his point, he slowly reaches down to his side and withdraws something that will look familiar - a wand, which he is careful not to point in her direction, yet.
She has nothing but fangs and fists to attack him with - not that he knows that for sure - and against a vampire born of Wizard, rather than of Muggle, there's no way she'd risk an unprovoked attack that way. Unconsciously, she shifts to a defensive stance that - while it makes no sense for muggle combat - would be effective in a wand-to-wand duel. "Ah," she replies succinctly. Her pretty face closes down and her ice-blue eyes go cold. "How did you find me?" Living as a Muggle always worked in the past… Damn these British wizards and their trips to muggle London!
"Find you?" Ichabod looks mildly confused, the bony features of his face suddenly forming into a suspicious glare. "I wasn't here looking for you - I merely sensed your presence, as you did mine, and decided to investigate." Now the wand /does/ come up slowly, centering on the werewolf as his pale gray eyes glint with something akin to triumph. "But your words seem to indicate that you are unregistered. Are you aware that failing to register your status is a serious crime according to standard Ministry regulations?" The old man seems to relish this slight turn of events, his lips crooking up into a bit of a smirk. "This does create an interesting predicament, does it not?"
And that, children, is why we never jump to conclusions. It /will/ come back and bite you in the arse. Like just now, for instance. As that wand slowly rises to aim at her chest, Tiana tenses, her pale eyes darting between it and his lips, waiting for some cue that would signal an attempt to duck would be in order. "I am aware that in my home, revealing my existence to the community at large would result in my imminent extinction." Her voice is flat here, the tension in her frail-looking body carrying through to her tone and pitch. "And I do not desire to live in a camp or wear a badge as your Minister's whore would subject me to." An interesting way to refer to the Pink Monstrosity, but Tiana is not inclined to be kind when her very life is in question. "I live as a Muggle and have not hurt another soul in seven years. I believe there is no predicament to solve, vampire."
It could be that just the faintest hint of a smirk appears on Ichabod's face at that reference to the Minister's secretary. "You seem to be awfully certain that the Ministry would condemn you. And by your own admission the authorities within your homeland consider you dangerous." The wand remains raised for a few seconds longer, then slowly comes down, although the gaunt old Wizard does not relinquish it to his pocket just yet. "But I do not know the full extent of your situation, and if you have no intention to bring any harm to the community here, I do not believe subjecting you to a Ministry investigation would do either of us any good. However," He continues, his stance relaxing slightly, although his gaze remains pinned on the woman. "I have a condition."
Tiana smiles at that, the expression anything but pleasant. "I am afraid, sir, that my Ministry would consider you dangerous as well." It's a subtle hint, but the man seems to be the type that might just catch on. As the wand is lowered, Tiana's stance relaxes and she stands straight. She may yet need to run, but the time for battle seems to have passed. "I have been here for two lunar cycles, Mister Noble. Neither of them have resulted in any fatalities." These words are quiet, but sincere. "I wish only to live my life in peace." Her own eyes narrow at his final sentence. "What is your condition?"
The subtle threat - or plea for understanding, whichever it is - is met only with a disdainful wave of Ichabod's cane. "Your Ministry - presuming I am correct about your accent - is a joke, no offense to you. As rotten from the inside-out as a poison apple." Nevertheless, he nods in response to her claim of peaceful intentions. "An Unbreakable Vow," He states succinctly, obviously not wanting to mince words at this point, since they seem to share a mutual distrust of one another to some degree. "That you shall meet me at this location, once per month, so that I may ensure you continue to lead the.. benign lifestyle that you claim to." Hooking the crook of his cane over his arm, he lifts his hand and sets a digit on the center of his chest. "In return, I shall promise not to reveal your condition. Naturally, the arrangement shall persist until /both/ parties agree otherwise."
"Not completely," Tiana snaps back at him. "There are a few left with honor." This is said softer, with an /almost/ affectionate edge. There is a sharp intake of breath as he suggests the Vow. Someone such as she understands greatly the weight assigned such an undertaking. Still… "That is…acceptable. Although I would ask the location be flexible. My work… does not leave me much notice of where I will be traveling."
That reply causes Ichabod to arch one thin brow a bit, though he does not refute her words. "Very well. You may meet me at a location of your choosing. Leave me a message first, or simply present yourself at the location on this card." Leaning his cane up against his thigh, he reaches into the side-pocket of the suit and pulls out a small off-white card, which he flicks in her direction; it flutters down unerringly in front of her. "My house is in Hogsmeade. I should warn you that it would be unwise to come on the fifteenth of the month, as you will likely find yourself in the presence of additional Ministry officials."
Heaving a heavy sigh, Tiana swallows thickly and clenches her fists. "I am afraid the location will have to be somewhere accessible to Muggles." She doesn't clarify this statement, but he might notice that she has yet to pull a wand.
"And how am I to know the location in advance, then?" Ichabod smiles very thinly, letting his fangs show just a bit once more. "You are not, I hope, attempting to cause me to be unable to fulfil my end of the bargain, since that would result in my imminent demise." He takes a step closer to her, though the wand remains kept at his side. "Propose an alternative method of finding one another, and we shall seal the deal."
"I am not," Tiana objects. "But you must understand that I have cut myself off from the wizarding world." And for a moment, she regards him thoughtfully. His step forward, while startling, seems to spark an idea within her. "Your Ministry… Do you use the mirrors as a means of communication?"
"I am able to use mirrors as a means of communication, yes," Ichabod replies, staying in place for now. He coughs, as if remembering something, and taps the heel of the cane lightly on the soft earth. "Although you would not be able to see me in your mirror, of course." For a fairly obvious reason, if she is at least passingly familiar with vampiric lore.
Tiana chuckles softly at this, seemingly amused by his manner. "I do not need to see you to communicate, Mister Noble. Muggles do so all the time." From her cleavage - handy storage space, that - she pulls both a small black rectangle and a smaller compact. Holding up the black rectangle, she smirks ever-so-slightly. "They call them cellular phones. Very useful things." Holding up the compact, she opens it and offers it out to him. "You will need to touch the surface with your wand and clearly state your name." It is, apparently, an Unlisted Mirror. Paranoid, meet thyself personified.
The Muggle device gets a brief inspection from afar before Ichabod steps forward, reaching out slowly to take it - he's obviously unaware that she wanted him to take the /compact/. Without really taking his eyes off of her, he turns it over a few times and flips it open, then slides it into his pocket, apparently satisfied. "Very well. Let's get on with it, then," He drawls, letting the cane drop to the ground. The wand is temporarily tucked away - if she were to attack him, his would be the opportune moment - and he pulls the glove on his left hand off in one smooth motion, then extends it to her.
Watching his inspection and then pocketing of her rather personal object, Tiana is momentarily at a loss for words. "Perhaps I was not clear, sir. You must touch your wand to the surface and say your name clearly." And here's the part she left out, assuming he would understand. "And that will allow your mirror to connect with mine." She nods towards the pocket where said mirror now rests. "I would offer it as a gift, but it really is not your color." Slightly teasing, then. Reaching out with her left hand as well, she holds very still, letting him manipulate her hand as necessary.
The vampire blinks, then retrieves the cellphone from his pocket. "Er - I see." He offers the strange piece of Muggle equipment back to her, trading it for the personal mirror instead. His other hand is used to reach out and take hers - she'll find his grip to be bony, ice-cold, and quite strong. "Zirky," He says quite inexplicably, with a sort of commanding tone. Immediately there's a pop, and a house-elf appears.
"Take my wand and Bind us."
The elf does so without question, setting the tip of the wand on their linked hands. Ichabod, meanwhile, begins to speak quite slowly and carefully. "Will you agree you to contact me once a month using two-way mirrors, or, if necessary, find another method of communication should those completely fail?"
Receiving her mirror back with a smile, Tiana clasps his hand firmly - seemingly not bothered by the chill or firmness of grip. "I will," she too speaks slowly, though more so that her English is correct and understandable. "Will you agree to keep information of my condition, location, appearance and existence to yourself and never indulge it to person or record by word, deed or thought?" A shrewd witch indeed, to phrase it in such a way.
"I will," Ichabod says firmly, watching as the two bands of fiery magical substance encircle them. Before the House-Elf has time to move the wand, he continues. "And do you agree to meet me at a location of mutual consent once a month, until such a time that we both consider our parts in the Vow fulfilled, and are ready to end its existence?"
"Unless circumstances arise that we both believe preclude our meeting, I will." Life happens. Tiana, as an Auror, learned this lesson very well. The fiery bands do not seem to surprise her at all. Neither, to be fair, does the House Elf. She is, for the moment, focused completely on the task at hand.
Once the third tongue of flame encircles their joined hands, the House Elf removes the wand. Shortly the flames dissipate, although they're bright enough to leave a vaguely burned feeling on the retinas; Ichabod doesn't seem especially bothered with this, however, and after taking his wand back from the elf, nods to it. "You may go, Zirky." Quickly thereafter, the elf disappears with another pop. That finished, he takes a few steps back and smiles thinly. "Well - we shall meet again soon, then." He still hasn't asked her name, and apparently doesn't intend to - perhaps it's to ensure that she feels less threatened, since he has far less information to give away this way.
With a nod and a few blinks to clear the afterimage, Tiana steps back as well, releasing his hand. "Until then." If her words are not equal to the enormity of the situation, one may be inclined to forgive her. This is a most trying situation, indeed. At least she summons a smile as she turns to depart. Whether or not it is genuine is, of course, up for debate. Bending to pick her shoes from the bench, the she-wolf ambles out into the night - though with considerably more caution than earlier displayed.