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 Fighting Fate, Nick (Hailey) <3
Desdemona Karas
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Mar 16 2018, 11:51 AM   Link Quote
“They’ve been here before ma-ma, why do we have to bake a cake?’ Desdemona asked as her fingers gently placed the sliced strawberries over the delicately frosted cake. This one was one of her mother’s best cakes, the white bread was moist and savory in all its vanilla flavor. At the center were glazed strawberries left in the freezer overnight, layered with sugar and then thawed out, turning the melting ice into a sweet and tangy citrus flavored syrup. They had put that between the two layers of bread after adding a small layer of her mother’s homemade whipped cream frosting. In all the years of seeing her mother bake, spending hours in the kitchen back in Mykonos making fruit slices to decorate with; Desdemona had never found the secret to making the whipped topping as light as air and fluffy as a rain cloud.

In her younger years baking had been a thing of magic, the many measuring cups and utensils making it seem like they were brewing some ominous potion. Sometimes Narcissa had liltingly declared they would give her father a stomach ache to make him stay put! What her mother had meant back then was that they would make her father fall so deeply in love with the cake he would eat himself sick. “Because my love, that is what we Karas women do to make our guests feel at home.” her mother responded, placing a soft kiss to Desdemona’s brow before adding a little touch of green leaves to the top center of their finished cake. At the very center, ringed by those leaves was a small strawberry tower, lightly glazed with the same syrup.

“Set out the tea set in the drawing room please.” Des wrinkled her nose but after swiping a bit of frosting and getting a dirty look from her mother, she danced away with a laugh and grabbed the tray. The Westphalls were coming for a luncheon, the sandwiches had been made by the house elves but her mother had insisted on baking the cake herself and having her daughters help decorate. Melora, Desdemona’s younger sister, was out with some of her friends, she had adjusted to Cantebury much easier than the elder witch and Xander was running around in the gardens, enjoying the warm weather and perhaps playing hide and seek with their father before the Westphalls arrived. Her younger brother came running through the halls, screeching and giggling at the tops of his lungs. His small hand fisted around her skirts and she raised the platter over her head. “Watch it you little brat,” Des said with a laugh, her father’s thundering footsteps sounding loudly in the high ceilinged hallway. “Better hide, papa’s coming! Quick!” she encouraged, grinning as Xander shrieked and darted off.

Desdemona ducked into the drawing room before her father could spot her, she set the platter down and looked out the window with a sigh. The nagging feeling wouldn’t go away, something about the Westphalls coming again set Desdemona on edge, made her think there might have been more to this than her parents were letting on. Considering she felt like this every time her parents invited someone over she tried not to let it get to her, tried not to dwell on the way it made her angry to be left in the dark even though nothing ever really happened in the end. Everyone who had come had eventually left without there being any actual consequences of their visit. It’s just another social call. You’re overthinking it. Desdemona tried to calm her mind, tried to stamp out that nagging feeling of something and was failing when the front door sounded. She forced the stiffness of her hands to evaporate like steam and let her hands fall to her side, forgetting for a moment what she was supposed to do with them.

Footsteps sounded in the hall and drew closer to the drawing room door. One hand smoothed her dress out absently and then touched at the crown of hair atop her head, checking for flyaways. The drawing room doors opened and she smiled politely, feeling the corners of her mouth stiffen a moment when a dark head of hair and a bulking boy stood abreast Mr. and Mrs. Westphall. Desdemona was expecting the married couple but not the boy with them, and she tried to wrack her brain for a mention of a son but couldn’t recall a single conversation where he might have been mentioned. Her mother was saying “you remember my daughter Desdemona…” but her chocolate brown eyes were glued to the boy’s face. Her chin lifted slightly in quiet defiance in the face of whatever this might be. “I was just telling Mrs. Westphall about the new additions to the gardens, why don’t you two get acquainted. We’ll be back shortly.” Her mother continued without a break in her propriety, she was leading the couple away; chatting quietly and pleasantly.

Des stared at the boy a moment longer, forgetting her manners entirely. All of that fluid motion in her body had turned to ice in her veins and she imagined that unfreezing would send shards ripping painfully through her arteries, but she had to do something. “Would you like to sit? Some tea?” To get out of my house before I kick you out? I'm not interested. Even the prospect of that perfectly frosted and lovely cake had dried her mouth, she imagined she’d be tasting ashes rather than strawberries and cream.

Then the dreaded question niggled its way through the murky sound of her voice in her ears. What if her suspicions had been right?


Hailey · 17 · 7th · Undecided · Half-Blood · 6'0"
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Mar 16 2018, 02:21 PM   Link Quote
Nick hated Pureblood life. Everything was so pompous and over exaggerated: you couldn’t visit someone without it being this big social ordeal. For this reason, the Slytherin hated visiting his great aunt and uncle. Yet John and Evelyn Westphall either didn’t notice or relished in his discomfort, dragging him to every social event they possibly could. “Now, Nikolai,” his great aunt badgered, straightening the collar of his green button up, “Please don’t forget to be nice, we really can’t have you insulting the Karas family just because you, and I quote: ‘don’t like people.’” Plastering on a strained smile, the snake glanced down at his great aunt, “No need to worry about me,” he gritted his teeth as his Uncle John rang the bell, “I’ll try not to be an embarrassment.”

Moments later, the door to the large manor swung open and Evelyn grinned, greeting the woman with a warm hug, one Nick had hardly found himself on the receiving end of – not that he minded. His aunt returned her attention to the Russian boy, causing him to shift uncomfortably from foot to foot, “Narcissa,” she said with her classic sickly-sweet smile, “May I introduce my great nephew, Nikolai Volkov.” Nick extended a reluctant hand, wanting nothing more than to sprint back to the car in the drive and make his way back to Hogwarts, “Hi,” he grimaced before glancing in through the doorway, “You have a lovely home,” he attempted a compliment, though posed it more as a question. The boy had only seen the outdoors and to him – if the home had a roof and a heating system, it was quite lovely indeed. Much like his fashion sense, Nick’s interior decorating skills were subpar, so whether or not the home was lovely in the sense that Mrs. Karas might take it…that was up to his Aunt Evelyn.

The snake stood stiff and still as his aunt and uncle exchanged pleasantries with Narcissa Karas, blind to the reasoning behind the visit. Twisting the ring around his finger as he often did, Nick tried to distract himself from the sudden burning need to run and hide, to climb into some damp crevice, to feel the gel worked into his father’s glossy hair one last time. Yet the snow had begun to melt, taking with it the sense of longing, despair, and even comfort of the familiarity to Russia. Perhaps he hated the winter – hated how it forced him to remember the sound of the trigger, or the ache in his stomach and the chill in his limbs. But the winter also brought with it the memories of years before. When Nikolai and Marat would curl up by the fire, his father’s oversized jackets piled on top of them, and stare out the window as the older Volkov hummed a tune in his son’s ear. The spring, however, washed that all away, returning him to the harsh reality of work and survival and that he’d never hear his father hum some incomprehensible tune to him again. Sure, he had the tape: old and overplayed, consisting of a measly three songs, but sometimes, somehow, it was enough.

Nick didn’t even realize that the adults had begun to migrate out of the doorway until his mother’s uncle placed a hand on his shoulder to lead him along. Lips still frozen shut, he said nothing, nodding along to anything the others said, and hoping he wasn’t nodding at the wrong things. The doors to the drawing room swung open and Nick frowned, taking no notice of a place where one could draw. He tried to think back to Petra’s “lessons” on Pureblood life, yet his mind drew a blank. When Mrs. Karas introduced her daughter, the Russian snake turned his head back to the cluster of people. He blinked, recognizing the girl as one of his classmates but also one he’d never spoken to. She was certainly pretty, he couldn’t deny that, but she was not his type. Desdemona Karas, he thought with a frown, what did his great aunt and uncle want? Frown deepening, he watched as his relatives abandoned him with the girl to admire the garden, wondering what they’d be looking at when half the garden most likely withered away during the winter months. He interlocked his fingers in front of his trousers and met the girl’s eyes: hickory against chocolate. As she raised her chin, Nick chuckled quietly, pleased to find her as unhappy with this meeting as he was, but he still said nothing, far too uncomfortable with the whole prospect to even want to strike up a conversation.

However, when he finally spoke, Nikolai was all too aware of how different his voice sounded, thick with the accent of his homeland and nothing like the soft flowery language of his great aunt, “Tea sounds great,” he winced, trying not to dread the taste of the herbal drink sinking in the back of his throat, “Absolutely great.” He stepped towards the seat, biting the inside of his cheek, before pausing to stretch out a hand like he did with her mother, “I’m Nikolai Volkov, by the way,” he shrugged with a roll of his eyes, “But based on that expression of yours, I don’t believe you care or had any desire to know that.”He watched her carefully, content with knowing that at least they were in the same boat.


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Desdemona Karas
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Mar 19 2018, 11:00 AM   Link Quote
“The garden is protected by magic charms, its ma-ma’s pride and joy,” she clarified for Nikolai who seemed to be a little slow on the uptake. The boy’s chuckle made her skin crawl similar to the way a cat’s hackles would raise, her fur standing on end. She imagined herself bristling and baring her teeth at him in a hiss like Athena, but knew that most of what she was feeling as not because of him but rather because of the situation. Desdemona could practically hear her mother’s voice, grave but soothing all at once, trying to placate that rare anger that usually made itself known through the daggers shooting from the young witch’s eyes. Very few things annoyed her, but Desdemona was quickly starting to find out that Nikolai’s little chuckle rubbed her the wrong way. Seeing him wince at the idea of tea helped to lighten some of that annoyance and she turned away from him, pouring him a healthy dose or unsweetened tea. The witch paused in her pouring, tipping the tea pot so that the liquid turned into a thing trickle from its spout.

For a moment it seemed as if she was going to let his hand hang in the air and it wasn’t like she hadn’t contemplated but whether she liked Nikolai or not, or was upset with what she knew would be the outcome of this meeting, her mother and father had brought her up to be at the very least respectful. She set the teapot back down and reached over, giving his hand a firm shake and feeling a bit odd about it. This was not a custom she was used to. “You don’t deal with many Purebloods do you?” she said assessing, her deep brown eyes growing curious despite the situation. “Usually you bow, or greet with a kiss to the cheek. If you’re French it’s a two kiss greeting.” It wasn’t clear whether Desdemona was teasing or testing him, her tone simply implied she was unquestioningly correct. The witch motioned to one of the seats, single seats, and one for each of them.

They’d be facing one another but to the center and off towards the back the table would be between them. Once he was seated she offered him the tea then circled around the right of her seat, tucked the dress under herself and flowed into it like a petal caught in a spring breeze. Her right leg crossed over her left knee, arms resting on the arm rests, before they slid into her lap where her fingers laced together. “You’re also not supposed to call a lady out on any faults you find in her face.” She reprimanded, feeling the annoyance creeping back up into her words. Why had her parents agreed to someone so unrefined? Desdemona resisted the urge to pinch the bridge of her nose, knew that she was being judgmental without cause and should at least give the boy a chance. But she didn’t want to give him a chance, she didn’t want to expose herself to someone new. Not when there was someone who already understood her.

Her arms shifted, settling back on the armrest and her fingers strummed restlessly against the material. This was awkward and uncomfortable, rigid and strict. “I don’t want to marry you,” she said bluntly, almost blurted it out. The panic was slow in coming because Desdemona knew that this day would come, but it was quickly starting to mount its attack and she could feel it at the back of her throat. “No offense, it’s nothing personal. You’re just not my type.” Perhaps she had jumped the gun because she backtracked a bit, licked at her suddenly dry lips. “I mean, that’s why you’re here isn’t it? Ma-ma said it was a luncheon with your aunt and uncle…” then it clicked, her annoyance having glossed over what she’d heard him say. Nikolai Volkov.

“You’re not a Westphall?” she queried, trying to keep up with the rushing of her thoughts.

Hailey · 17 · 7th · Undecided · Half-Blood · 6'0"
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Mar 19 2018, 04:46 PM   Link Quote
Nick raised an eyebrow. Garden protected by magical charms? He should’ve figured, this was a pureblood family after all, “Of course it is,” he mumbled, barely raising his voice loud enough for Desdemona to hear him. Honestly, the boy still had no idea what he was doing there. His great aunt and uncle cared little for his behavior or presence at social events so long as he didn’t make a scene. Not that the Russian had ever really “made a scene” in his life, preferring the simplicity of living in the shadows, traveling undetected, asking few questions. That’s how one could survive the bitter winters in the slums of St. Petersburg; however, with the brunette across from him and the absence of his guardians, Nikolai pushed away all the signs that hinted towards the Pureblooded tradition that ruined his family. His lips twisted into a frown as the girl poured him a cup of tea, contemplating if it would be bad manners to dump it into one of the planters when she wasn’t paying attention. Tea was a bunch of herbs, so wouldn’t he be doing it a favor returning it into the ground? His eyes skirted around the room to mark the plant with the easiest access – the quickest one he could get to undetected, but Petra’s voice swirled in his mind, reminding him that manners were, in fact, important.

Arm outstretched, waiting for her own, a string of curses rushed through the Russian’s mind. Curses mainly about how idiotic he looked expecting her to do something so simple as shake his hand. Just as he planned on retracting the hand, Desdemona’s fingers wrapped around his own. Awkward was the best word to describe it. His father had always taught him the importance of a firm handshake, how often times that was one of the deciding factors in a first impression. It embarrassed Nick to say it, but he and Marat would sit at their small wooden table on their small wooden stools and practice the shake. So, at the Grecian’s comment, the snake furrowed his brows, tilting his head to the side with a slight expression of aversion, “First off, why would I ever bow to someone? That would give them the impression that I’m less human?” With a shudder, Nick scrunched up his nose, “And second of all, I will not be kissing strangers, the French way nor the regular way. Sorry to disappoint.” With Damara, the Russian could’ve easily teased her, pecking her cheeks as he did at the Winter Festival. But he and Desdemona were no friends, barely even acquaintances, so the mere thought left him flustered.

Nick suddenly felt very conscious of his movements, sitting down became a task that required a lot of thought. Never one for crossing his legs or lifting his pinky on the horrible occasions someone force fed him tea, the Slytherin kept his eyes trained on the liquid as she wandered over to the opposite side of the table. He gritted his teeth, finding that for some odd reason, everything she said irked him. Lifting the teacup, Nick flashed her a strained smile, leaning forward a bit on his elbows, “Thank you for the tip, I’ll let you know when I see one.” Perhaps it was harsh, the biting edge of his tone maybe a little uncalled for, but Nikolai had no regrets. He’d been dragged out of bed, across the city, and into a stranger’s home with no context only to find that the girl his great aunt and uncle seemed keen on him spending time with carried herself in a pompous air and he knew she thought herself so much better than him. Desdemona, he mused, more like Demona.

Raising the tea to his lips, the Russian prayed that the drink was scalding hot. Maybe it would melt his throat and a trip to the hospital would be on the agenda. With a frown, he found it cooler than he would’ve liked and displeased that had not magically transformed into coffee. The tea brushed the back of his throat when Desdemona spoke. He coughed, choking slightly, and grimaced as he swallowed painfully, “What the fuck?” his eyes narrowed and his mouth parted, “When was marriage ever even on the table?” His mind wandered to the customs of Purebloods, the situation behind his great aunt and uncle’s marriage, and the beginning of the end for his parents. Pureblood engagements. Annemarie Westphall rejected the tradition, running off instead with a Russian muggle, and so the remaining Westphall’s cut of ties, leaving their niece in poverty. But Nikolai Volkov was no Pureblooded wizard, a fact Demona seemed to be catching up on, and subjugating him to a mere pawn in a power play left the Russian’s blood boiling, “Great aunt and uncle,” he corrected, fists clenched white on the table, “My mother was their niece. But I don’t carry the Westphall name, nor do I ever intend to,” he brushed back his dark hair with a single hand, "But no offense taken, the feeling is mutual: you're not my type either."


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Desdemona Karas
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Mar 19 2018, 05:08 PM   Link Quote
Desdemona couldn’t have asked for a more amusing subject than Nikolai Volkov. She found that he was trying her patience without really trying to in the least. He was crude and brash and she might have liked him under different circumstances, but right now she found him annoying. Hated the way his hair rested and how his elbows wrinkled his pants. Not that it mattered much but if she could dislike it, then she would. Reason be damned. Her fingers strummed against the armrest again. By now that Volkov boy probably had it in his head that Desdemona thought she was better than him, well her blood and upbringing spoke volumes of her breeding and she didn’t think she should feel less just because he did.

“When you meet a great queen, not one who believes herself descended from Royalty, but surely, an actual queen and she asks you to bow out of respect you’ll decline because…” she paused, lifted her wrists from the armrests and did air quotes with the index and middle fingers of each hand, “and I quote, it’d make you lesser than her? You bow to your opponent in dueling,” Des continued, getting comfortable in her seat. “It shows that you’re equals, or that you at least acknowledge them. It’s also respectful to honor someone’s customs.” This time her words were bit off because she really was annoyed that he couldn’t get over himself and some stupid inbred pride long enough to be respectful to other’s customs. The jab about her not being a lady she ignored, he had no idea how little that insult really struck home. If anyone knew Desdemona, truly knew her as her little sister Melora knew her, as Apollo had known her; they would know this shell presented before them was only a form of camouflage.

Both brows shot up when he started choking on his tea and she bit at her lower lip to try and stop from laughing, but it was obvious by the crinkling of her eyes and the upturned corners of her lips that the Grecian witch was at least having some fun at his dilemma. “Marriage, my dear fiancé… was on the table the moment you walked through that Hades forsaken door.” She pointed towards the drawing room doors, leaning back and pinching the bridge of her nose. How was she going to explain this to someone who was too stupid to have realized it sooner. “What do you think you’re doing here, Nikolai? Did you really think your great aunt and uncle invited you over so you could make a fool of yourself in front of them, in front of my family?”

Desdemona rose from her seat, feeling the need to pace. She pushed hair out of her face and toyed absently with the strands as she moved towards one of the cabinets along the walls and pulled out a decanter of brandy. Two, glossy and extremely clear glasses followed where she poured them each a knuckle’s length. It wouldn’t do to get into the talk without something to drink and she felt like she was going to need something stronger than tea to get through the conversation without wanting to wring Nikolai’s perfectly thick neck. “Here,” she said once she’d walked back over to him. “Just leave the tea there… This will help.” He must have been reeling as much as she was, but the witch didn’t take to her seat again.

Instead Desdemona swirled the contents of her glass and with an arm crossed under her chest, she stood at the window, glancing out towards Karas’ manor grounds. The Crups could be hear baying from the menagerie and she guessed the groundskeeper had probably let them out by now. “This has happened before, only I was blindsided by the fact that your great aunt and uncle, the Westphalls have been coming here for a while now. It’s an arranged marriage, that’s why you’re here. If all goes according to our family’s plans, you won’t have to worry about being a Westphall ever again.” Desdemona took a sip of her brandy and glanced over her shoulder at Nikolai. “You’ll be a Karas.”

Hailey · 17 · 7th · Undecided · Half-Blood · 6'0"
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Mar 19 2018, 09:49 PM   Link Quote
Sometimes Nikolai wished he’d never moved in with the Westphall’s. He tried to convince himself he’d be happy living with his neighbor back in Piter, even without knowing whether or not she’d actually taken him in. But the young Kolya had never seen an end to the elderly woman’s kindness – she’d been the closest thing to a mother the Russian had ever had, even whispering to him stories his father never told him about his mother. But instead, he found himself flown out of the country into the arms of a couple who had abandoned his family, rather than a woman who had knitted him several items of clothing for the winter free of charge. So, he blinked as Desdemona’s back rested straight against the chair, her dark curls draping around her shoulders. Though her fashion style was a bit too bright and cheery for him – his mind couldn’t help but wander off to a certain housemate of his – Nikolai couldn’t deny that the Gryffindor would be defined as beautiful by many. And he hated it.

With a scoff, Nick rubbed his fingers along his jaw, the cool metal of his ring chilling the surface of his skin, “See this is where our opinions seem to differ,” he leaned forward slightly in the seat, “If a man or woman asks you to bow in respect, they are asking you to submit yourself. I am a strong believer that while trust can be given, things like loyalty and respect are earned. A man or woman who has to ask me to show respect hasn’t earned it,” licking his lips, the Russian shifted in his chair, “Now forgive me, my skills aren’t the grandest, so correct me if I’m wrong, but in history, a king demanded peasants to bow to him. Did the king see the peasant as his equal?” He raised his brow in question and then continued, “You also speak of it as honoring one’s custom. Does this mean I am only to respect your customs? I have been shaking people’s hands as a greeting all my life, just as my father and my grandfather before him. Surely that is a tradition that must be respected as well, wouldn’t you say?” Nick suppressed the urge to roll his eyes, the harsh edge of his voice was certainly enough hostility for the time being. Perhaps in different circumstances, ones where he was more of a willing participant, he would’ve found spending time with Desdemona…enjoyable. Yet the sudden need to slam their two worlds together left cracks, places where the pieces didn’t quite fit together.

The snake rubbed his throat, hoping that maybe the coolness of his hands would soothe the painful swallow. His hickory eyes hardened as he noted the mirth in her expression, and he cleared his throat, following her hands with his own gaze. Hades’ forsaken door seemed normal to the Slytherin, but he certainly did not have the same knowledge of mythology as Desdemona. The myths he grew up with Marat had made up on the spot. His frustration only grew when she pinched the bridge of her nose and he couldn’t keep himself still anymore. Nikolai shot up from the chair, not caring at the noise the wooden legs made, and ran his fingers through his thick hair once more, “You see, Desdemona,” he groused, “You grew up expecting this because that’s what you Purebloods do,” his hands moved up to massage his temples, “You’re so stuck in the past that you marry each other to keep lines pure and to grasp at more power.” The boy could almost laugh at himself as he chastised the families for their outdated customs while even Nikolai wanted nothing more than for the clock to turn back.

He made no comment on her insult to him, but tensed his shoulders. That’s all he’d ever been to John and Evelyn, a simple burden. They warned him to watch his tongue despite the fact that Nick hated talking to strangers for the most part. They’d point their fingers as though he were still a child and tell him to stay away from breakable objects. The Westphall’s had no faith in the Nikolai Volkov, they never had and most likely never will. With one hand, he gripped the corner of the table until his fingers went white and accepted the glass with his other. Bringing the drink to his mouth, he welcomed the burn down his throat so long as it calmed his nerves, “Me? A Karas?” he chuckled as he set the glass down and leaned against the table, head lowered between his shoulders, “I’m not a Westphall, I don’t need to worry about that. John and Evelyn barely consider me one,” Nick raised his eyes to meet her own before picking up the liquor once more, raising it as though he were giving a toast, “Волко́в боя́ться - в лес не ходи́ть, my father used to say: If you're afraid of wolves, don't go to the woods,” A soft smile formed at the corners of his lips at the memory, “I think he tried to use it as some motto for our family – Volkov means wolf in Russian – but it seemed so ridiculously fancy for us, yet he insisted. He even wrote it on a napkin and pinned it up on our wall.” Nick looked down, slightly embarrassed, “I guess what I’m trying to say, in a really awful way, is that I will not, nor will ever be a Karas. My name means everything to me, it’s who I am.”


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Desdemona Karas
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Mar 26 2018, 09:42 AM   Link Quote
Desdemona could see that arguing the point of respect was pointless. He honestly did not get that it was a two way street. Instead of giving him a lengthy reply the witch looked over her shoulder and said “I shook your hand didn’t I?” then she turned away again and continued to look out of the window. Her side rested against the wall, hip bone pressing against the décor while her hand holding the glass of brandy rested the bottom against her collarbone. The hand under her chest was stroking absently at her ribcage as she tried to discern when and where everything had gone wrong. So far, she was having no luck. Desdemona had been down this path before and she was feeling particularly worn out by her own circumstances that at first she didn’t detect the change in the air.

Slowly her contemplative chocolate colored eyes shifted away from whatever was happening near the menagerie and towards Nikolai. Never had her mood become as sour with anyone as it did with him. Her jaw locked into place, ever offense he expected her to take was taken, but not because he was correct and she was bristling over being scrutinized. She knew what others who did not live pureblood lives thought of them, they were just as judgmental as the next. “Shut up before I shut you up,” she said venomously, all cordiality lost under the weight of the implications and accusations he was making towards her family. Desdemona did not care if he thought her a hungry power seeker, but she was not going to slander her family’s name without knowing the details first. “First of all, if my family or I wanted power we probably wouldn’t be accepting proposals from half-bloods. It seems to me your great aunt and uncle are the ones seeking to social standing. And second of all,” she said, taking a step away from the window towards him. “I grew up expecting to marry the boy I love and have loved for the past six years.” Granted, her family had accepted the arrangement, but her mother had been prodding at her enough lately that Desdemona knew why. They were hoping she’d get along with Nikolai. Hoping she’d come to accept him slowly. Hoping she’d forget all about Apollo. They were wrong. At least for now, they were wrong.

She did not say she expected to marry the ghost of a boy she loved or eventually end up giving up the search because he already thought so little of her that it wouldn’t surprise Desdemona if he added crazy on top of stuck up; but she was sick and done with his judgment and her anger might have been the thing the blinded her to his plight. After taking a sip of her brandy Desdemona rolled her eyes at Nikolai’s little quote, she refused to acknowledge the sight of that sad smile because empathizing made it that much harder to hate him and she was sick of all of this already. Her fingers gripped the glass tighter, she was going to need more than a knuckle’s length of brandy to get through this. The witch pinched at her nose, irritated at the turn of events and at the fact that she felt bad for treating Nikolai the way she had. It was clear that he loved his father and missed him, and she could relate to missing someone.

“Look… I’m sorry about your father, honestly.” Her feet closed the distance between them but still kept them fairly out of each other’s reach. Even if she was being sympathetic and willing Desdemona still wanted to throttle him and if he said something that irked her, she wasn’t sure how safe he’d be if he were in arm’s length. Nikolai Volkov had been sent to test the limits of her patience and temper. “You said it, you don’t want to marry me and I don’t want to marry you. So we’re going to have compromise or come up with a way to get out of it.” She sighed and dropped into her seat a bit unceremoniously. She wished she’d worn some jeans instead of the dress, but even as she slumped in her seat, swirling the remnants of her drink, Desdemona still looked very proper. Her dark eyes turned towards him and she forced her jaw to open and give into the curiosity he had peaked. “What happened to your father?”

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