Serena had been very distracted at work that day which was unusual for her, she tended to take her job at the Ministry very seriously. She was only twenty-two years old and yet her rise at the Ministry had been meteoric to say the very least. After her father's death and the surprise of finding out that he had written in his will that the family fortune was to go to her instead of her little brother Serena had decided that she no longer had to pretend that she was the submissive little pureblood girl. She had played that game for years with her father who had dominated every aspect of her live, Nicholas was an unforgiving man who ruled his household with an iron fist. He had been the absolute ruler of his household and nothing he did could be questioned and Serena had always accepted that with the obedience of a very dutiful daughter. But he was gone now and the fact that he had left the fortune to Serena made her want to live up to the confidence he had apparently had in her. Her brother had always been able to get away with being lazy and not doing the work that she did, not putting in the hours of study or putting up with Nicholas's crazy pop quiz moments. Now it all paid off and Serena could see that these exercises had not been pointless. She wanted to prove to everyone that her father had not been crazy when he had rewritten his will, she wanted to prove to all those who doubted that the fact that she was female would not hold her back. So she had gone to the Ministry intending to apply for a secretarial job in Magical Law Enforcement, she was going to rise up through the ranks that way. But she had been hired instead by the then Unspeakable Justin Pritchard as his personal assistant. His star had risen and hers had risen right along with it. Now she was on the first floor, the very top and only in a matter of months.
Many assumed that Serena had simply been hired for her looks and that she was just some vapid girl that Pritchard had hired because she looked damn good in a skirt. They were wrong. He had hired her because he had seen the spark of ambition in her eyes and he had known that she would be amazing at her job. And she was, she was organized and political, she put logic over emotion, she kept things contained at all times and spun a web of control over everything that she touched. The most powerful thing about her was the fact that she was constantly being underestimated. So many people looked at her as just the pretty secretary to the new Minister of Magic, a girl with big blue eyes but nothing going on beneath them. None of them realized that she tugged the strings of power, she had the ear of the Minister which meant she had more influence than anyone could ever realize. Sometimes Serena truly felt as if she were the one in control and that Justin was just a pretty figurehead because they couldn't accept such a young woman for their Minister. Oh he thought he was in control but he trusted her without question and deferred to her judgement on so many things. There was no one else he trusted more than her and that gave her all the power in the world.
Today had been an off day though and Serena had been very distracted by the note that she carried around in her pocket. A note with a cryptic message saying that someone would be there to meet her that evening and she should expect them by floo at eleven at night. A late hour for a meeting especially since the terms of the meeting had not been defined. The note had been signed simply with initials so Serena didn't even know how to track the person who had sent it. She hated this, she hated going into any situation where she didn't have all the details, it made her feel incompetent. Perhaps she could have written back to say that she had no desire to meet but there was no guarantee that that would work and honestly she was a bit curious. Even though curiosity killed the cat. It was that curiosity that kept her mind occupied all day so that she was scattered and unfocused and finally excused herself early for the day, something that had never been done. Justin would certainly question her about this later. He would probably also question the fact that she denied him tonight, refusing to come to his manor or allowing him to come to hers. Let him wonder.
Promptly at eleven o'clock Serena stood in her study, the place that had once been her father's study. This was a room that no one was allowed to enter. There were no enchantments on the door because her father had been intimidating enough to keep his children and his wife away. Now the study was rightfully hers and Serena had set herself up proudly in the room. She knew that her mother thought it was wrong but that just gave Serena a sense of smug satisfaction. Her mother was a pathetic excuse for a woman and now she was a burden that had to be endured until the day came that she was taken from this world as well. She remained standing even as the flames in the fire flashed green and a man strode out from the fire place, she felt as if standing was the best away to go. "Right on time." She held out her hand to him and looked him straight in the eye, she was not going to be intimated even by a stranger. They were in her home so she had the upper hand even if she didn't know the terms of this meeting. "Serena Yaxley...although I am thinking that you already know that." Her blue eyes swept over him taking him in. He was handsome, very much so, and there was something strangely familiar about him. Serena had a flash of seeing this man at some point but she couldn't quite place him. She didn't invite him to sit nor did she move to sit herself, she wanted to know what this meeting was about and she wanted to know now. "You said this was urgent." Her voice was flat and betrayed none of her impatience. She hoped he wasn't going to waste time, she wasn't in the mood for small talk tonight.
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The school day droned on, the man finding it difficult to give his full attention to his classes. This was rare for a man so dedicated to his work but there was something he held above work, the Order. It was absolutely everything to him. Tied to his love for the Order was a different sort of love, his relationship with Nicholas Yaxley (a completely not homoerotic relationship). He met Nicholas Yaxley when he was eighteen years old, a fresh graduate from Hogwarts, an Auror at the Ministry of Magic and a new member of the Order of the Phoenix. His admittance into the Order was just around the same time that Nicholas became a double-agent for the Order. Due to working in the same department and their meetings not looking suspicious or out of place couple with their likeness in character, Michael had been chosen to man's connection to the Order. Though Nicholas was a Pureblood Supremacist, he, like Michael, had a strong sense of right and wrong and while he believed himself to be superior to others due to his blood he could not condone killing others. Over the ten years the two worked with one another, they had several disagreements about Pureblood Supremacy but this did not stop their relationship from growing due to their many other similarities. At first, they had been professional, then over discussions they grew to respect one another, and with respect came a great fondness of one another. They grew close, their similarities and philosophical musings brought them together along with the alignment of their strict views on what was wrong and what was right. He became a second father-figure to the man. This was no slight to his own father who was a wonderful man. But it was a different relationship - a similar one but the foundation of which was not found on blood but rather a relationship. Michael was not the type of man to grow close to just anyone and all of his close relationships with the few chosen ones affected him immensely.
Nicholas seemed to know that he was going to die prematurely. The month before his death he began talking as though the end was near, like he'd seen it in some kind of prophetic dream. Michael refused to believe it was going to happen, tried to ignore the certainty with which Nicholas spoke of his own death. Though it didn't take over their conversations, it was always there in the background. He would drop hints, like saying he needed to go home to work on his will, or to speak of future things as though he would not be there to experience them. He knew death was coming and he did not back down. The man's respect for Nicholas only grew due to this, even after the man had died he still commanded respect from the grave. Because Michale had chosen not to believe him, his death came as a real shock. It was crippling. He had never had someone he was close to die. Being the man he was, he shoved these feelings underneath the rug, not wanting to deal with them or face them. Most of the time he was able to forget, to pretend that he was meeting Nicholas on Tuesday at eleven o'clock in his study for their regular weekly meeting. But today was not a day the fact could be ignored.
In the early hours of the morning he had received an owl. The contents he brought was a letter declaring him a recipient of something in Nicholas's will. Curiosity seared through his veins as he opened the parcel. A ring lay in the box, a golden ring with a ruby, the Yaxley family crest engraved on either side. He looked closely at it, wondering why he would have been chosen to receive a family heirloom. It just didn't make sense. Upon closer inspection, he noticed something was engraved on the inside of the wrong in a delicate script. Using his wand to help see the inscription, he read: "Serendipity: The truth is rarely pure and never simple." What the hell did that mean? His eyes then fell on the sealed parchment inside the box, perhaps it held instructions or at least some kind of explanation. The letter read:
You have done me so many favors in the past and I'm sorry to ask more of you but you're the only man I can trust to get the job done. Please, find my daughter. Find Serena and tell her the truth about me. She won't believe you. She will resist. She's my daughter after all. This ring is your evidence that you are delivering this message for me. Please, do this before she makes a grave mistake. Urge her to join the Order, to follow in my footsteps. I trust you to fulfill a dead man's wish, Mike, because I know you couldn't live with yourself if you failed me.
Michael couldn't help but laugh at the last sentence. It was just like Nick to abuse Mike's need to do what has been asked of him. He was touched though, that the man trusted him with such a task. He didn't know Serena personally, he'd only ever heard of her. But if she was anything like her father this was sure to be a difficult task. How could it not be? Her entire world would flip upside down. Quickly, he got out his quill and parchment, writing a letter to Serena requesting her presence in the study at eleven o'clock that evening. It was only fitting that it was a Tuesday, his usual day to meet Nicholas at just that time and place. He signed with only his initials, not wanting to discuss anything through owls.
The time finally came, eleven o'clock. He scattered the Floo Powder in the fireplace inside his room, the flames turning green before he stepped into them. He stepped out into the study he had been in so many times before, he almost expected to see Nicholas sitting at his desk, griping about something. But there was no Nicholas, there was only the woman in front of him who no doubt had many questions for him. The ring and parchment were stuffed inside his pocket, he was going to bring them out when the time was right and that wasn't just yet. He gave a smile and curt nod when she commented on his punctuality. His eyes met hers, as he stretched out his hand to give her a firm handshake. Normally he didn't shake a woman's hand the same way he would a man's but there was something about her that made him treat her just as he would a man. She looked like Nicholas, that same intense stare, the look that was all business. And if she was as much like her father as the man had always claimed, she would detest being treated as though she was in any way inferior due to her gender. "That I do. I'm Michael Boone," he greeted. He could understand why she was impatient, she must have been stewing all day on what this meeting could regard. "Yes, it is urgent. I worked with your father at the Ministry for quite some time. I knew him very well. So well in fact that he asked a favor of me in his will. He wants me to tell you everything and I know you won't like to hear this and probably won't believe me but there is much that you don't know about your father," he began, keeping vague so that she wouldn't immediately toss him back into the fire to go back to where he'd come from. "I used to meet with him every week in this study, at this time and even on this day. He normally sat there, behind his desk," he pointed to the chair, "And I sat here," he pointed to the one in front of it. "And I really do think this is a conversation best held while sitting down," he stated simply and took his usual seat in the study.
At least this man didn't decide to do some stupid gesture like men tended to do when they were encountered with a woman. There was nothing that Serena hated more that when a man kissed her hand or bowed over it or something else ridiculous that they for some reason thought was charming. It wasn't charming, it was degrading and she absolutely could not stand it. Her upbringing had been strict and her mother had had no part in it so sometimes Serena lacked the femininity to understand such gestures. She was relieved that this man took her hand in a firm handshake meeting her eyes as if he had nothing to hide. Serena did not break that contact although she had to look up to meet his gaze. That was one think she truly resented about her gender, even in her high heels she still stood shorter than the majority of men. She did not like having to look up at some one because it made her feel in some inferior, a notion that really was ridiculous. There was no reason for her to feel inferior, she was a successful woman with everything laid down at her feet. She had more power than anyone knew and she savored it. But sometimes she couldn't stop herself, she craved the approval of others just as she had craved the approval of her father when he was still alive.
"It is a pleasure, Michael." Her words were smooth and almost genuine although the smile on her lips never reached her eyes. Serena was eternally the politician, she knew perfectly well how to be charming and diplomatic when she was feeling anything but friendly. Right now she just wanted to shake this man and demand why he was here in her home and why he had sent her the cryptic letter. When he said that he had worked with her father she was instantly confused. If this man had worked with her father for so long then why had she never met him before? Nicholas had been a politician himself and knew the key to rising up in the work place was making the right contacts. He had always had his colleagues over to the manor for dinner parties and smoking and drinking and gambling, good old boys nights. Serena could remember many a night wandering down in her night gown for a glass of water and hearing bursts of male laughter coming from the sitting room and the smell of cigar smoke acrid in the air. But she had never seen this man at any of those gatherings. He was not a pureblood, she knew that, because if he was then she would at least know his face. The pureblood families tended to be interconnected and bonded together. Even the bloodtraitors like the Weasleys and the Prewetts were known to her. This man was completely unfamiliar.
Who the hell was this man? Serena stared at him impassively even as her brain was working a million miles per minute. "My father was a man who thought confiding in a woman was the biggest mistake a man could make." This was true enough, she had heard these words from his mouth often enough that she had started to believe them herself. "He once told me a woman's face was a work of fiction. I tell you this so you know that I am very aware there is much that I do not know about my father. And I am sure there is much that don't want to hear." Her eyes swept over this man again and she pulled her shoulders back standing even straighter than before. She had absolutely perfect posture, cultivated from a life of walking on egg shells. A smirk crossed her lips as Michael claimed that he had met with her father every Tuesday night in this study. What was this nonsense? If this man had been in her house so many times then she certainly would have seen him. Serena had always been like an observant little shadow poking into things that she shouldn't be.
"This is very amusing but I don't have time for games, Mr. Boone. If you are trying to get money from me then it is not going to work." She was starting to become certain that this man was some sort of con artist that was going to make up some sob story about her father and then find some way to get her to promise him money. As a woman people tended to assume that she was weak and she wouldn't be able to hold the family fortune together the way a man could, maybe this was even some test designed by one of the patriarchs of another family who wanted to prove that Nicholas had made a mistake. She didn't want to succumb that embarrassment. "Whoever sent you clearly doesn't know me very well. Do they really think I am stupid enough to fall for your story just because you have a pretty face? I'm not a silly girl." There, now he knew that she wasn't kidding around. She withdrew her wand from the sleeve of her robes and laid it down on the desk in plain view so he knew that she was not afraid of him. Serena wanted him to know that in this situation she was in control.
Her eyebrows shot up when he suggested that they sit, she made no movement towards her chair at all but remained standing stalk still with her eyes never leaving his face. "I prefer to stand." The words were neutral enough but she hurled each one of them at him like a dagger. Her eyes were like two chips of ice in her face. "Get to your point, sir. Otherwise I suggest you go back the way you came before I have you hauled it in a much less dignified manner."
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He smiled knowingly when she told him it was a pleasure to meet him. He was certain that was far from the truth but being brought up by a man such as Nicholas Yaxley, she had to know how to play the politics game. Confusion flickered across her features when he mentioned that he'd worked with her father. He was fully aware the Nicholas was a social man, had people over frequently and if Serena was as observant as her father had always described, she knew he had never been a part of any such functions. He looked at her, void of expression as she commented about the way her father viewed trusting a woman. "And sometimes we all eat our words. You are the heir he chose, are you not? He confided everything he had to you in the end. That has to count for something," he quipped, unable to stop himself from defending the man he had so greatly admired. It was as if he could feel Nicholas in him at that moment, the hurtful blow from hearing his own daughter speak of him that way; it was a sympathetic pain for the man who loved his daughter so much he had to distance himself to keep her safe. This was another thing the men bonded over; the need to keep their loved ones safe by distancing themselves. It was a tactic Michael employed frequently and Lee frequently deduced this was the reason he would never find love because he closed himself off to it.
"And I'm sorry if you don't want to hear what I have to say but I have to deliver his message. It was his final request and your father meant a great deal to me. I cannot deny him this," he stated, his eyes boring into hers, his posture and body language clearly stating that he wasn't going anywhere until he'd said his piece. He almost laughed at her insistence that she hadn't the time to play games. How very much like her father she was when he was insistent on getting down to business. She was just as her father had described and he could see why he'd warned him in the letter that this could very well be a difficult task to complete. Though he didn't laugh, she would more than likely be able to read the humor in his eyes. "I have no interest in your money. Or games for that matter. So I'm glad we can agree on that," he responded. "I wouldn't even begin to say that you're a silly girl. From what you're father told me you're a force to be reckoned with. And I can see he was right about that," he retorted with a slight smile that he tried to fight back. He could assume she would find no humor in this, that she would think he was viewing her as a silly girl despite what he'd said. He needed to show her that he did take her seriously but the flicker in her eyes, the superior posture, she was so much like her father.
It almost pained him. There was a moment when he looked into her eyes that her face blurred, he could see Nicholas in her eyes. He was gone but he was everywhere. The room was filled with his presence. The faint smell of cigars and Firewhiskey still lingered in the air. He knew that if he closed his eyes, he would be able to picture the man standing there, his memories would become real for a fleeting moment. But he couldn't allow for this. There was business to attend to and as Serena had stated, she didn't have time for anything but business. "Well, if it's all the same to you I prefer to sit. Nicholas never fancied having me stand around for too long," he replied, taking his usual seat. He smiled at her when she threatened him. "As you wish," he began. "First, I'd like to go back to your previous statement that whoever sent me clearly didn't know you well. I have evidence that this isn't the case. I promise you that I was sent by your father, a man who knew you would be all too willing to disbelieve anything I had to say," he continued as he extracted the ring from his pocket. "He instructed me to give you this as evidence that I'm telling you the truth and I am his messenger. Please, take it," he insisted as he outstretched his hand, his palm facing upward with the ring in the middle. "When you're ready to hear what I have to say, I'll continue," he added, his eyes searching her face for a sign of understanding.
Serena had to give credit where credit was due and she had to admit that this man was holding his own better than she thought he would. She had gone for the all out offense hoping to uncover any falsehood, to find the crack in his act but so far it was not working at all. He was standing solidly in his place and even she had to admit that he looked comfortable where he was as if he had been in this room a hundred times. Maybe he had, for a moment Serena felt herself falter although she showed no sign of it on her face. If what he said was true then he had been in this room hundreds of times with her father discussing Merlin knew what. And if there were true then why had Nicholas found it so necessary to keep this man a secret? Against her will Serena was curious but her mouth remained set and she did not falter. "They say that the reason he left me everything was because went crazy in the end. One too many cases before the Wizengamot, that he cracked under the pressure." Serena did not believe this one bit even if it was what all of her peers were whispering about behind her back. What man in his right mind would make his daughter his heir when he had a perfectly good son? But Nicholas Yaxley had been an iron willed man who had had absolute belief in everything that he did. He was not a man who doubted himself or who made a decision on w him and Serena knew this about him. So if he had chosen her as his heir he had done it for a reason although she had yet to decipher what this reason was.
"What was he to you?" The question shot out of her mouth before she could stop it but she had been longing to ask it since this man had stepped into this study. Serena hated being in the dark and it annoyed her greatly to not fully understand something. Right now she could not make the connection between Michael Boone and her father and it was really starting to get under her skin. Michael claimed that they had been close but that seemed absolutely impossible. He had to be lying or at least embellishing their relationship into something that it wasn't. "You really expect me to believe that my father spoke of me to you? He never spoke about me to anyone." She believed that this was true and it annoyed her greatly at Michael would make it seem like her father had spoken of her in proud terms. Serena could still hear her father's words ringing in her ears. You don't know what it is. Stupid girl. He had rebuffed her on a regular basis and had constantly made her feel like she was not living up to some incredibly high standard that he had set. Most children would have given up but Serena was too much like her father and truly hated failure of any kind. His pressure and his clear shame in her had only caused her to work harder and harder at her studies to prove that she was brilliant and worthy of his praise. But the praise had never come. Except for one time just a few days before he had been killed, it had been an odd moment. Nicholas had cupped her face in his hand and lifted it up and looked into her eyes. You're a good girl, Serendipity. Serena had been too shocked to respond and he was gone before she came back to her senses. He hadn't used that nickname in years and she had never really understood where he had come up with it in the first place. The praise was random and fleeting and a just a few short days later he was gone.
Serena was too shocked to protest when Michael calmly insisted that he felt like sitting and took up the chair that he had indicated that he used to sit in all the time. For a moment she just stared at him and it was clear that she was battling with her temper. That temper was something else she had inherited from her father but she had not yet mastered the control that he had over it. Her right hand clenched and unclenched and for a moment her eyes strayed to her wand but she resisted. No need to get her hands dirty with this man. "Make yourself at home." She said through gritted teeth not able to resist the sarcasm. In a moment she was going to have this man thrown out but for now she could at least let him have his say and try to prove that his story was real. The corner of her eye twitched slightly as if she would like very much to roll them when once again he insisted that he had been sent by her father, the last request of a dead man. Serena had been certain that she had already settled all of her fathers affairs and truly laid him to rest and now here this man was to resurrect those memories.
Then the world shifted slightly as the man held out his hand and offered her a ring. This ring was very familiar to her although she hadn't seen it for months. It was the one thing that had not been accounted for in her father's will. It was an old ring with the Yaxley family crest engraved on it and a blood red ruby set into glittering gold. Serena had been furious to discover that the ring was missing and had assumed that her no good thief of a brother had stolen it for himself out of jealousy. And now here it was in this man's palm and she could not explain how it gotten there. Instead of questioning how he came to be in possession of the priceless ring she stepped forward and scooped it from his hand, her fingers brushing slightly against his palm as she did so. She studied the ring for a moment and as she turned it she realized there was a new addition that had been there before, an engraving in the band.
"Serendipity: The truth is rarely pure and never simple."
There it was again, her childhood nickname that he had used just days before he had been murdered. It was engraved in the gold as clear as day and yet Serena couldn't quite believe it. Her mouth went dry and for a a moment she looked completely vulnerable. Her eyes grew big as she stared at it and she looked younger, weaker, more like a girl than the strong and emotionless woman she tried to portray herself as. The quote struck her too, it was Oscar Wilde who was a muggle author. Serena had kept a number of muggle books secreted under a floor board in her bedroom and she read them when she didn't feel like studying. Oscar Wilde had been one of her favorites and now here was his words engraved in her family ring. How had her father known? He loathed all things muggle or so she had thought. He had always commented on the superiority of wizards to muggles and especially pureblood wizards. Serena's eyes went up to study Michael's face and then back down at the ring again, her knees felt weak.
"Tell me everything. Now." It was a command and she didn't even look up as she issued it. This was a woman who had grown accustomed to giving commands. She ran her finger over the gold and then curled her fingers around the ring so that she was holding it tightly in her fist. Her heart was pounding in her chest and to her horror she could feel that strange pricking hotness in her eyes that always signaled tears. Serena hadn't cried in years, not even at her own father's funeral. Her feelings for the man who had raised her were so conflicted that she didn't really know how to feel about his death. She had worshiped him but at the same when he had died she had felt uncaged and free. "No more cryptic little statements, just tell me the truth." Her voice was firm as she looked up at him and tried to regain her composure but the vulnerability was still there and it was Michael who had the upper hand now.
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Joined: 15-May 12
He gave Serena a knowing look when she repeated the rumors that had been circulating about her father. "Nicholas wasn't insane. You know this as well as I do. You also know that he was his best when under pressure, he was by no means the type of person to crack under it. He spoke to me about his death. He seemed to know it was coming though I still have no idea how. He was making plans for his departure at least a month before it happened. Everything was calculated, just as every move he made was," he replied, looking at her in a way that showed he knew he was stating the obvious because she knew her own father. Him going insane and cracking under pressure was absolutely absurd and she knew it. It was just the only thing she could say to him to rebuke his comment. He couldn't blame her for not trusting him immediately, it would have been foolish for her to do so. Truth be told he was almost enjoying proving his relationship with Nicholas. It made everything seem real once more, as if he the man hadn't truly gone. He could remember, something he had consistently stopped himself from doing and it was surprisingly therapeutic. "And I know you don't need me to tell you that," he added.
What was Nicholas to him? For the first time in their conversation, he paused. How could he explain how much her father had meant to him? How could he begin to put something into words that was so intangible? Though he was uncomfortable with emotions, this familiar setting where he had spent so many evenings with the man whom had made him comfortable enough to speak earnestly about nearly every topic, he found himself at ease despite the fact that Nicholas wasn't physically present. "He is perhaps the single person I respected more than anyone. He was a very close friend, a mentor, a role model, someone I admired. These may sound like shoes that are easily filled but for me, they aren't. I'm afraid I'm having difficultly answering your question because I don't even know how to put into words what our relationship entailed," he stated sincerely. It was the most he'd ever said about the man aloud and though he normally would feel vulnerable sharing this much information he knew it was essential in getting Serena to understand, to accept what he would tell her. He smiled softly when she insisted her father never spoke of her to anyone. "On the contrary, your father spoke of you frequently. And not just to me, but to many people. He spoke highly of you, though given what I know about him I can imagine that's difficult for you to believe. He was a fan of tough love," he stated, not wanting to dive too far into the subject. If he got too sentimental here, he risked sounding unprofessional and his facts could appear questionable if he started talking about things that were not concrete.
He could tell that Serena thought him rude for taking a seat without her permission, though it didn't take a genius to figure that one out. It was all too comfortable of a setting for him, he didn't know how to act like a stranger in a room he'd visited countless times before. Everything was too familiar. He smiled up at her when she suggested sarcastically that he make himself at home. Her entire demeanor shifted from cold and aloof to shock when she saw the ring in his outstretched palm. He had almost expected her to start asking questions or insist it was a fake or even worse, accuse him of robbery. But none of those things happened, instead she scooped the ring right out of his hand, inspecting it closely. He watched as she examined the inside of the ring, the inscription that wasn't applicable to him but he saw instantly that it was to her. The statement, aside from Serendipity, was clever and he could understand the meaning behind it though he had no idea of its origin. There was a transformation taking place right in front of his eyes. The strong and poised woman transitioned into a girl, a doe-eyed girl who had been shocked, awakened by the inscription on the ring.
He nodded his head when she told him to tell her everything, that was his intention. He just needed her to know that he was truly a messenger from her father and that he wasn't after her money or trying to play any tricks on her. He chuckled at her insistence that he no longer give her any cryptic messages. "I apologize for that. I'm sure it was frustrating but I needed to gain your trust that I really am delivering a message for your father and that what I'm going to tell you is the complete and utter truth. No more cryptic messages, I promise," he replied. "I realize this is your home but I really would like if you took his seat. It's unsettling for me to see it empty," he admitted, hoping she would take the seat. Seeing him not sitting there, to see his valued chair vacant, it was difficult. He was unable to stop himself there, he felt too comfortable in the room and he lifted himself up from his chair. Walking over to one of the cabinets beside the bookshelves, he opened the bottom cupboard, extracting a bottle of Firewhiskey and grabbing two glasses from the one above it. During this he spoke, "I realize this is incredibly rude for me to fix drinks when they aren't my own. Your father always had me get them for us," he explained though he wasn't too sure how she'd take it. "You may find me presumptuous now but you'll be grateful for the drink," he continued, pouring out two generous glasses and placing one on the desk and the other he kept in his hand.
"As I told you before, your father and I did work together at the Ministry. I was an Auror. But that's not where our relationship began. As soon as I graduated from Hogwarts I joined the Order. Around this time, your father did as well," he looked at her, waiting to see her reaction. He quickly resumed his speech before she had time to respond, "He was a double agent. Your father was certainly a Supremacist. I can't even tell you how many times we spent an entire evening debating the matter. But as I'm sure you know, your father had a very strong self-defined vision of wrong and right. While he found his blood made him better than others, he did not approve of killing a man, especially for something that they couldn't help. I was his link to the Order. We could meet up at work without it looking suspicious and Dumbledore thought the likeness in our character would bring us closer together. He was right. I loved your father and because of that, I'm here telling you all of this. He wants to stop you from making a decision he deemed would be a grave mistake. His greatest desire is that you follow in his footsteps and join the Order." His eyes met hers as he took a sip out of his glass, waiting for the inevitable bomb to explode.
Her lips were drawn into a thin line as this man presumed to lecture her about her own father. This man who had she had never seen before in her life sat there was bold as could be and reprimanded her for repeating the rumors that Nicholas had been insane at the time that he had written his will. But her heart clenched painfully in her chest when he said that some how her father had known that he was going to die before it had happened. How had he known? They all lived in an uncertain world especially in these times when mysterious deaths and disappearances seemed to be the front page of the Daily Prophet every other day. But there was still no way of knowing the actual time of your death and as far as Serena knew her father was no Seer nor did he have any skill in Arithmancy. Was it just some gut feeling that he had? Or was Michael making all of this up just to tug at her heart strings and make her weak. Serena had to remember to move through this situation with her mind clear and her heart closed. Her father was still a sensitive subject, she hadn't yet come to terms with the relationship she had with him and she had to be aware of this so that she didn't lose control of herself and starting believing the lies.
Her eyes flared up instantly with a cold fire as Michael asked her to take a seat because seeing the chair empty was making him uncomfortable. At this point she couldn't give a damn about his comfort and she wanted to say as much but she bit down on her tongue to remind herself that she needed to remain at least some what calm. No one liked a girl who got emotional. "I told you that I prefer to stand." She wanted to tack on the fact that she hoped that he wasn't losing his hearing but she kept that little comment to herself, with difficulty. To her great shock and he pushed himself out of his own chair and went to the liquor drawer that her father had kept and pulled out a bottle of firewhiskey along with two glasses. How the hell did he know where that was? And how dare he just make himself at home this way! His arrogance made her skin flush as the anger pumped through her veins. But it was more than just the arrogance, it was the fact that he was smiling and totally at ease with this situation and in her presence. This was her home! He was a very unwelcome guest as this point who was very rudely making himself perfectly at home in her study. "What is wrong with you?" The words slipped out before she could stop them and in her anger she really didn't care. Was this man socially handicapped? Serena felt helpless in this moment and that was a feeling that she absolutely loathed, she was struggling to regain control of this situation but it was spiraling further and further away from her with each passing moment. "I am starting to think that you are just some crazy homeless person who decided to play this game for a free drink and place to sit for a few moments." Even as she said the words she knew that is farfetched idea couldn't be true. He had the ring and he know where the liquor was. It was just too many coincidences.
As he started his explanation Serena began to feel as if she had been shot off into some extremely strange alternate reality. Her father, Nicholas Yaxley, a member of the Order of the Phoenix? They were nothing more than a motley group of misfits ruled over by the king of misfits, Albus Dumbledore. They were muggle lovers and mudbloods, her father would never associate with such filth. He was a huge proponent of blood purity and had always ingrained in her the importance of keep their blood lines strong and pure with wizarding blood. Muggles were beneath him, so far beneath them that he hardly deigned to acknowledge that they actually existed. "You're fucking crazy." She said bluntly, she no longer cared about being polite or disguising how she was feeling. There was anger in her expression but also that vulnerability from before as her eyes opened wide. Serena couldn't believe this. But as she squeezed her hand she could feel the ring there and she remembered the quote. The truth was rarely pure and never simple. This was a message from her father to accompany what Michael was telling her. The ring couldn't lie, no one could have gained access to this ring other than a member of the family which meant that Nicholas had had a hand in retrieving it from the vault at Gringotts and having it engraved. When this realization came rushing to her she actually gasped as if she were physically in pain. Dropping the ring she turned to the desk and grabbed the glass of firewhiskey, gulping down as if it were life saving water.
"That bastard! The cruel fucking bastard." She wasn't speaking to Michael now but to herself about her father. That two faced son of a bitch. "He had the Mark! I saw it on his arm! He was a Death Eater and that was what he believed in. I thought that was what he wanted for me. I thought that was the point of all of this, the house and the fortune. It has what I have been working for!" She was in full rant mode now as she poured herself another generous glass of firewhiskey. Then abandoning the glass completely she grabbed the bottle and brought it to her lips taking two full gulps before setting it down on the desk again. "And you!" Her lips trembled as she held out a finger, pointing straight at Michael's chest with one shaking finger. "You sitting there as if you belong here! Wipe that self satisfied smirk off your face because I don't want to see it. I crush men like you on a daily basis!" She pounded her fist on the desk to make her point. This man was pathetic! And yet he had totally stripped her of all her strength and had turned her into this weak and quivering girl. She was Serena Yaxley! She was the right hand to the Minister of Magic! She practically ran this country on her own! She was not weak!
"Join the Order? Fucking insane. Do you even know what I do for a living? My father wasn't able to share that little tidbit with you. He was dead before that." Her words were harsh but she was upset and couldn't quite control what was coming out of her mouth in that moment. "My father was a cruel man! But he raised me a certain way and I cannot believe that in death he would suddenly turn that around on me. Why would he do that?" She grabbed the full glass off the desk and took another gulp, her head was already starting to feel fuzzy but she took another drink. This was what she needed to soothe her nerves. Her whole hand shook as she raised the glass to her lips. It was clear that she was very unsettled by all of this. It was still unbelievable to her. She had thought she had known the man who had been her father but apparently she didn't know the first thing about him. This man knew him better and that infuriated her.
Group: ORDER ADMIN
Member No.: 244
Joined: 15-May 12
He shrugged his shoulders when she told him she preferred to stand. The man was no idiot, he knew he was getting under her skin but for some odd reason that he couldn't place, he was kind of enjoying it. "Fine. Your father's chair is a big place to fill," he retorted, for some reason hoping to get under her skin. He really felt as though Nicholas was in him, living vicariously through his actions. The man had a penchant for getting under peoples' skins, knowing just what buttons to push to send them over the edge. He took pleasure out of it. Michael wasn't that man, or he thought he hadn't been, perhaps he'd picked up more from Nick than he'd thought. Or maybe it was just being in that room, at that time, that made him feel the urge to act out in such a manner. The room was empty without Nicholas in it, there was a void Mike couldn't escape and this almost felt like his subconscious was trying to find a way to fill the empty spot where Nicholas should have been. He chuckled when she asked what was wrong with him. What was wrong with him? He couldn't even figure that out for himself much less tell this woman what was going on through his head. His chuckle turned into laughter at her next accusation, her brashest and wildest yet. "A homeless person with such a rampant bout of alcoholism that I can sniff out where the alcohol is without having the slightest clue of its location," he retorted sarcastically but with a playfulness that was highly uncharacteristic of him. Was this the price to pay for not dealing with the death of Nicholas? For sweeping his emotions under the rug and pretending they didn't exist? Was this some kind of lunacy? He almost felt a little unhinged, a little off. "Finding the glasses was just a stroke a pure luck."
Of course she wasn't going to take him seriously. He couldn't blame her. He'd ditched his usual professional manner and had been a sarcastic ass. That was potentially a strike against his credibility. He'd known her father, how he presented himself to everyone else. Even most Order members were unaware of his position. Michael had been in the know because he was directly involved so he knew a side of the man very few ever got to see. But he also knew the facade, the mask presented to the public. They were opposites. But he had the ring, she couldn't deny that this was coming from her father. He couldn't have made up that inscription that seemed to really hit her. He had know bloody idea what it meant so how on earth could he have concocted it? "I'm not crazy. This is the truth. Look at the bloody quote on that ring. The truth is never simple. And in this case, the word pure has a double meaning. The truth is never pure...," he quipped, leaving his sentence dangling because he didn't want to insult her further by insinuating that she wouldn't be able to connect the obvious dots he was laying out for her. "And if you want further proof," he dug in his pocket, extracting the note that had been addressed to him. "Then you can read this," he offered, his normal calm nature finally seeming to have come back into play. He held out the note for her, waiting for her to eagerly snatch it as she had done with the ring. He smiled as she grabbed the drink off the desk, "Told you my rudeness would pay off. That's something you can't hear without needing a drink to follow," he commented, probably only adding to his pompous behavior rather than deducting from it as he intended.
Boom. The bomb exploded. He cringed slightly as she insulted her father. The words seared through him as if she were saying them about himself and not a man who was no longer living. "Yes, he had the Mark and as far as the Death Eaters knew, at least for quite some time, he was a loyal member. But he'd been double-crossing them for ten years. He did want that for you, in the beginning. But he was putting his life on the line and he didn't want to put yours on it unnecessarily by telling you what he was doing. There were only a handful of people who knew what was really going on," he replied defensively, trying to make her see reason even though he realized it was futile until the information really sunk in. "Sorry for the smirk, I didn't even realize I was doing it. But have you ever heard of misplaced anger?" he asked, now fully aware of the smirk on his face. "I'm sorry, I don't know what's coming over me tonight. I..." and he faltered, unable to utter that he had some unresolved issues of his own. How could he explain something he didn't understand? Why would she give a shit?
"Yes, I know what you do for a living. That's why your information would be indispensable. I realize your hesitation. This is all fresh and it hasn't sunk in yet. I'm patient though, I can wait for that to happen," he replied, his eyes not leaving her. "He did it to protect you. He loved you and didn't want to bring you harm because of his decisions. And maybe it wasn't until the end that he realized how important it was for you to follow in his footsteps. He chose you to be his heir, he chose you to be the one to carry on his legacy. It may have taken knowing that death was on his doorstep to realize he wanted you to do exactly as he did," he replied, his tone void of any former sarcasm or venom. He was defending Nicholas and secretly cursing him for not telling him some more specifics about the situation. Couldn't he have thrown him a couple of bones? But that was his way...and Mike could picture him laughing from the grave.
"Fine. Your father's chair is a big place to fill,"
Her face paled and she dug her fingernails into her palm. How dare he! Insult her in her own home when they were in her study and he was drinking her liquor. This man's rudeness knew no bounds. He sat there so pleased with himself making Serena feel once again like the little girl that her father used to criticize because she couldn't name an obscure rune. Serena was not used to being made to feel this away by anyone, not since her father died and even before that he had been the only one who could bring out that insecurity. But now Mike resurrected it like some necromancer calling up the ghosts of old memories and she loathed him for it. He made her feel weak in this moment and set himself up with all the power, sitting there with his drink in his hand and gazing at her with that smirk. Serena realized that remaining on her feet had been a mistake. He was sitting there perfectly comfortable as if he were in control of this entire situation and she was the one standing like a chastised child. His sarcasm bit at her and gave her that feeling of stupidity that made her cheeks flush as they always did when she was under this kind of pressure. Damn him! Damn him for sitting there was that smug look on his face as if he hadn't a fucking care in the world. Damn him for the fact that her knees were trembling now so badly that she felt like she had to sit. "You certainly look the part." She snapped at him, retorting his comment about being a homeless person with a rampant bout of alcoholism. Honestly, he didn't look the part at all, she didn't think homeless people were as handsome as he was. They also were probably missing teeth and he seemed to have a full set.
Serena stooped to pick up the ring and then crossed the few paces until she was standing right in front of his chair and thrust the ring to his face, her eyes blazing. "Do you know where this quote is from? It is from a play called the Importance of Being Ernest. It was written in nearly a century ago by Oscar Wilde. Do you know who that is?" Her voice was fierce and trembling at the same time. Serena had a point to make with this all, a point that maybe neither of them knew Nicholas Yaxley as well as they thought they had. "The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Oscar Wilde was a muggle. I kept his books under the floor of my bedroom because I was ashamed of them." She lowered her hand and dropped the wrong to the floor once more. Reaching up she raked one hand through her dark hair trying to calm herself and find her focus once more. Her thoughts were darting all over the place. Suddenly she laughed. "It is never simple. Because then he would have made my life too easy. He is still torturing me with these lessons from the grave!" Serena wished she could stomp over to his grave and tug her father out and demand answers from him, no more cryptic quotes engraved on the family ring, now more insufferable messenger. She wanted the truth and she wanted to hear it from his mouth. With a pang of emptiness Serena realized that this was the first time she really missed her father. When Michael offered her the note she snatched it from his hand and scanned it quickly. "That's right, I am your daughter you stubborn asshole!" She shouted at the note as if it were actually her father. "I'm your daughter and I thought I was following the right path! We both made grave mistakes and I'll meet you in hell." She crumpled the note in her hand and tossed it back at Michael.
Suddenly and without warning the fight went out of her. The anger disappeared and was filled with something heavy. So heavy that it weighed her down so that she sank to the floor as if all the strength had completely gone out of her legs. She sat there staring at her eyes with a blank look in her eyes trying to understand what this heavy feeling was. It tore away at her, burrowed deep in her chest and she gasped slightly from the pain of it. The pain was physical and she clutched a moment at her chest wondering if her heart was going to give out from the shock. "I didn't even know him. And now I find out he was a good man." This feeling, she finally recognized it even though she had never felt it before. Grief. And it weighed so heavily on her that Serena thought she might sink down into the earth straight into the fiery pits below. She turned her face up to Mike were he still sat in that chair with that stupid smirk on his face. "What's wrong with you?" The question didn't have the venom that it held before although her eyes were still cold as she looked at him. Right now she hated him beyond words but he was now the only connection she had to the man that her father had really been. If this was the truth than she needed to know it.
"So you loved him then? Like a father?" She smirked slightly at him as she said the words but there was the pang of jealous in there too. Her father had been closer to this man than he had ever been to her. She had gotten all of the harshness while this man had gotten all of the good. It was unfair. Serena could think of nothing more unfair than that. "I loved him too, you know. He was dominating and harsh to the point of cruelty sometimes. But I still loved him." She didn't care that she was confessing this to a stranger, he already had all the power over her so what was a little more information going to hurt? He could take it all from for all she cared right now. "I need another drink. Since you seem to be so good at fetching them why don't you do that now?" Her tone was sullen and thick as if she had been crying but there were no tears. They were still locked in place. The feeling was there but the tears wouldn't come. None of this was enough, she couldn't cry for that man. "Then you can tell me about the Order if you wish." She didn't sound the least bit enthusiastic about it but she remembered the words that had been in the note, this was what he had really wanted. Did she owe it to him to hear Michael out? No. She didn't. But she still couldn't stop this compulsive need to please her father even though he was long gone.
Group: ORDER ADMIN
Member No.: 244
Joined: 15-May 12
His comment seemed to do the trick because for once there was no retort; no comment from the peanut gallery. Even her rebuke to his sarcastic comment was weaker than before. But where was this need to be the alpha male coming from? Was this a natural part of him that he was only now realizing because he was in a situation with another dominant personality? Or was this just some kind of madness taking over him? He almost felt guilty but made no sign of showing such emotion and rather continued his act of playing the rude house guest with all the secrets.
Before he knew what was happening, she was shrieking like a banshee in front of his face, waving the ring around and going on about Oscar Wilde. He didn't know the author but obviously he was of some importance to her. He stood still as she continued on, letting her get it all out. The urge to defend Nicholas stirred in him, the need to correct her and make her understand. There had been times Nicholas had explained his actions but never fully. Michael had filled in the missing pieces himself but he couldn't say them with her in this sort of temper. Or could he? "CAN YOU GIVE YOUR FATHER A BLOODY CHANCE?!" he barked back. "He's reaching out to you! Are you that blind?! He's quoting your favorite author, even if its someone he detests, because he's trying to connect with you. To make you understand! He obviously found your books and took the bloody time to read them if he was able to find a quote that perfectly fit the situation," he continued heatedly, trying to make her see what was in between the lines but his own brashness combined with hers would make this a difficult task. She snatched the note as expected but her yelling was a unexpected turn of events. Just as he was about to stand and correct her, insist he wasn't in Hell something happened,yet another thing he had not expected from Serena.
It happened so quickly that there had been no time to predict, to react before she crumbled to the grown. He saw the fight leave her eyes, the anger evaporated into thin air as she sank into the floor. The man rose from his chair as she began clutching her heart; due to her age a heart attack was nearly impossible but she had just received startling news and obviously was having some kind of emotional fit. He nodded at her words, "He was a good man," he stated simply, not knowing what else could, or rather should, be said. Her question startled him, the venom was now gone from her voice. What was wrong with him? He'd been acting out for some unknown reason and the smirk had vanished as soon as she'd hit the floor. "I'm sorry for how I've been acting. I would explain why I was but I'm not even sure what took over me," he replied, unknowingly. Was she asking about his actions before or why he wasn't helping her now? He wanted to leave, he didn't want to deal with this. But he had to. Nicholas gave him a job to do and he'd be damned if he didn't do it.
Her question caught him off guard. He hadn't been prepared to dive into his own feelings, to confront what had happened. How could he heave been foolish enough to believe that would be the case? Coming back here, facing her daughter...he should have known. "Yes," he stated, not knowing if he was capable of expanding on it. He certainly wouldn't do so freely. "I know you did. I know you're just angry with him right now. But he loved you too. You seem to be unaware of that. He spoke of you frequently and always, always, with pride," he assured her, speaking honestly though he expected some kind of retaliation from Serena. She seemed unaware of the love her father had for her. He chuckled silently at her request. Despite the vulnerability she was surely feeling, as he was as well, she was still capable of giving demands. How very much like her father she was. He went to go get the drinks, his own glass was empty though he had no recollection of even drinking it. Her lack of enthusiasm when she asked to hear about the Order was ignored. She was asking about it and that in itself was a step in the right direction. He handed her the drink as he began explaining, "Well, I imagine you know quite a bit about the Order. It seems that way, anyways. We would greatly benefit from your knowledge of the Ministry. It seems as though Nicholas wished for you to resume his responsibilities. We aren't asking that you become a full double-agent, you would not need to join the Death Eaters because that would put you in the danger that Nicholas tried to avoid putting you in for so long." He paused, "But obviously we wouldn't want your alliance with the Order to be known. That would defeat the entire purpose. What is it that you want to know?" he asked, unsure of what she wanted him to explain when she undoubtedly knew the basics.
Serena kept willing herself to wake up, to just open her eyes and find that she was lying in the dark in her bed and that this was all some really bizarre dream brought on by stress. Or even better, she willed herself to wake up in Justin's bed so that she roll over and drown the memories of this dream in him. None of this could be real because it was just so completely absurd. Her father was a member of the Order of the Phoenix was just one hundred percent so illogical that it could not be accepted. Serena had built her life around assuming that rational people did rational things and her father was the model of the rational man. But joining the Order? That was most completely irrational thing she had ever heard of. Where was the reason for it? His simple moral code was not enough for her, her mind rejected that possibility. Her father had no moral code. His prized virtues included intelligence and ambition and ruthlessness and those virtues had no place in something as disgustingly noble was the Order. But those words kept ringing in her ears, the ones that Michael had so rudely shouted at her. Could she give her father a chance? Maybe she was too far gone at this point and still too rooted in her own ways. Change was a hard thing to do and it couldn't be forced, a person had to be willing to change or the change would never stick. This was asking her to overhaul twenty-two years of a practically religious belief in the legitimacy of the Death Eaters and their goals. Serena wasn't sure if this was even possible.
"Don't apologize." This was not an excuse of his behavior, she was not telling him to apologize because there was nothing to be sorry for or whatever bullshit people spouted out when they used that sentence. She was telling him not to apologize because she just really didn't want to hear it. Apologizing was just something people did when they wanted to feel better about themselves but they rarely meant it. "You aren't really sorry. You just don't want to feel a jerk for being such an ass. But apologizing doesn't absolve you of the fact you really are a complete ass." Serena had no qualms in accusing him of this because that was how she really felt. Since the moment he had stepped into her study he'd been playing some game with her although she wasn't sure that he even realized he was doing it. There was a subtle power struggle between them but apparently he didn't realize yet that he had won. He had all the power right now because he had all the information and Serena had nothing so she was at his mercy. She loathed him right now because of that. He'd reverted her from the strong woman that she had become to the helpless child she had once been. There was nothing that could be done about it.
Serena rose to her feet once more as he went to get her drink. The strength came back to her legs and she was able to regain her balance once more. Her calm demeanor was back and her face smoothed out once more. It was a tenuous calm though and one that could be easily broke as she struggle to keep the facade up. "Yes, I am unaware of that." She snapped at him when he mentioned that she seemed to have no clue that her father had loved her. "Apparently I am unaware of a lot of things when it comes to that man." There was a lot of sarcasm in her tone and she was starting to think of giving Michael the nickname Sir States-the-Obvious-A-Lot because he seemed to have a penchant for putting into words things that Serena was already very much aware of. She accepted the drink with no word of thanks and lifted it to her lips letting the liquid burn its way down her throat and relishing the feeling. "I really hate your face." She had meant to say the smirk on his face but she it had come out like she hated just everything about it and she didn't bother correcting herself. It was accurate enough. Serena took another drink as she moved around the desk to finally take her place in her father's chair. If she was going to deal with all of this then she was going to need to be sitting down.
"What I know about the Order is that if is a group of loosely organized rebels without a defining cause. A recipe for disaster." She paused for a moment to see how her words affected him. Right now she was overwhelmed with the desire to coax that anger from him again. If she was angry then she damned well wanted him to be angry as well. She didn't want to be the only person losing her control in this moment. "I also know that members are being picked off systematically one by one. Like my father." She was cold when she said these words but there was a tremor that indicated she wasn't entirely unaffected. Serena wasn't made of ice. "Ah and here is the crux of the matter. Double agent is dangerous and unpredictable and frankly, I like to be alive." She set her glass down and steepled her fingers together in front of her, a habit that she had picked up from her father. He also did it when he was deep in thought. "I want to know what makes it worth it. What is about the Order and that cause that makes it worth risking ones life. What called to my father and made him okay with giving up everything for a cause that seems doomed to fail." Her eyes burned into the eyes of the man across from her, she made direct eye contact. She wasn't an expert Leglimens but she'd picked up enough to identify any obvious lying. Serena didn't want a sob story from him, she wanted a good reason.
Group: ORDER ADMIN
Member No.: 244
Joined: 15-May 12
Okay, yeah, maybe it hadn't been his place to shout at her. Alright, he knew it hadn't been. She was dealing with a lot, a hell of a lot but Mike couldn't flip off the switch. Something about her just got under his skin, made him feel an unfamiliar itch for dominance (though he was still wondering if this really was all that unfamiliar). Perhaps, if he'd really tried, he could have stopped himself. But the fact of that matter was that he simply couldn't turn off his need to defend Nicholas. The man wasn't here to do it for himself and Mike couldn't just sit there and do nothing. It wasn't in his nature to do nothing; he couldn't just sit idly by and let things unfold. Perhaps he was more like Lee than he thought. She couldn't let things happen naturally, she had to meddle. Though her meddling was normally trying to set people up with one another his was more focused on fulfilling some kind of duty or another whether it had been asked of him or not. But shit, even if it would have been better for him to not say anything at all, it had the desired effect. She'd finally stopped yelling at him and gotten that ring out of his bloody face. She had been uncomfortably close. Michael very much valued personal space, to the point of Lee making a game out of how close she could get to him and for how long until he finally had to move. And Serena had been too close for comfort but it wasn't as if he could just swat her away.
His eyebrows shot up when she told him not to apologize. That was, to say the least, surprising. He would have figured her to be the type that would have liked him to do so. Not because she found the experience to emotionally gratifying but because it would be putting himself in a somewhat inferior position which was the first time he would have done so throughout the course of the entire evening. He couldn't help but chuckled when she explained why. "There's a lot of truth in that. I'm not a hundred percent sorry, maybe like, sixty percent. And am a complete ass or at least I have been this evening," he replied, though he really hated that he had been such an ass. But she was right. An apology would have been made so that he felt better about how he'd acted and not because he wouldn't have done the same thing over again if they had a Time Turner present. So he was just going to leave it at that and give her what she wanted: no apologies.
It was nice to see her get off the floor, he'd been wondering what the best thing to do was since it'd happened. If it had been someone else and under different circumstances, he would have immediately rushed to their side to help. But it had been Serena, a woman who surely wanted no help from him and assisting her would have more than likely been even more insulting than just letting her sit there on the floor basking in her own misery. She returned to that serene sort of demeanor she'd held in the beginning but there was something different; there was the addition of instability in the mix. Her mask could be cracked, releasing the beast within at the drop of a hat. He couldn't decide if he wanted to see what happened if it cracked or not. For the time being, he decided against it feeling as though he'd pushed enough of her buttons during such a traumatic time for her. "Well, I'm here to enlighten you about your father. And I'm sure you can tell me things about him I didn't know as well," he replied, trying his best not to break through her facade and unleash the crazy. He shrugged his shoulders when she commented on her disdain for his face. "I'm fairly certain, and by that I mean completely, that when we first met you told me I had a pretty face," he retorted this time however he didn't smirk when making a smartass comment. He was going to try to place nice for as long as he could.
"A common misconception but for someone of your standing and frequently associating with Death Eaters I'm sure that's the word going around. While I can't argue with calling us rebels, I do have to disagree with your other accusations. We are not loosely organized, quite the opposite. We also have a defining cause which is to stop the Death Eaters and bring back peace to our society," he explained, his professionalism finally returning. He could have gone into more detail but that was about as simplistic as he could respond without rambling for thirty minutes. She didn't seem like the type who could pay attention for that long. "Of course members are being picked off. Systematically, I'm not sure if I'd go that far. But it's a war and sides aren't just going to leave one another alive," he stated though that should have been obvious. They'd picked off Death Eaters as well, though not as numerous, but he believed theirs were far more systematic than their counterparts. "As I stated, becoming a double agent is not a requirement if that's your biggest concern," he began, taking a sip of his drink and stewing over how best to answer her. "Your father found it to be a cause worth dying for. What makes something worth dying for, for anyone? Before this night you believed him to be a Death Eater that was killed by the Order. You had no difficulty believing that he would die for them so why is it so difficult to believe he would die for the Order? What makes it different aside from their beliefs? Even when you believed he was a Death Eater, you still saw a man who was putting his life on the line for something he believed in. That fact is still the truth. Nicholas was against the irrational killing of others and you know your father well enough to know he had a detailed and stringent view upon what was right and wrong," he explained, passion evident in his voice. "Your father knew death was coming for him and if anything, that strengthened his resolve. He knew he would die for this cause and did absolutely nothing to change it," he added with fondness.
A small derisive laugh escaped her lips when he admitted that he was an ass and added the caveat that it had just been for this evening. "Maybe this is just the first time you are seeing what a complete ass you really are." Right now she kind of just wanted to knock him down a peg or two. He sat there in his self righteousness lecturing her about her father, making himself at home in her house, acting as if he were the master of this whole damn manor. Serena would not have accepted that behavior from Justin Pritchard himself and she would not accept it from some nobody Hogwarts professor who had just so happened to be acquainted with her father. She had grown up under the thumb of a man who was far more dominating and intimidating than Michael Boone could ever hope to be. She was a pureblood and a woman which also meant that she was used to men trying to establish themselves above her and try to make her understand her place in the world. But she knew her place and it was as an equal to any man who stepped into this room. She was Serena Yaxley and she was the commander of her own fortune and her own fate. There was no way that she was going to allow this insignificant man to let her doubt that part of herself. It would never change no matter who her father had really been.
"You don't want to know the things that I have to say about him. I knew the Death Eater Nicholas Yaxley and you don't seem to be very fond of that man." It was almost like Michael had this idealized image of Nicholas as being this great and noble man, this man who was unafraid to sacrifice himself and who faced death without any sort of protest about the fact that it was unfair. Loyal and brave until the very end when he was staring the Dark Mark straight in eyes. Serena had a hard time picturing this man as being the man that she had known, the man who had dominated this house with an iron fist. She had seen the Dark Mark on his arm and she had heard the congratulations bestowed on him for his torturing of mudbloods. "Very pretty. You'd be even prettier if you weren't so fucking annoying. Such a shame." She wasn't going to deny the fact that she had said that he was handsome, he was very much so. If he wasn't in here turning her world upside down she might be more attracted to him. But as it was she just found him irritating.
As he began to explain to her the Order, to answer the question that she had posed to him, Serena sat back in the chair and closed her eyes. She was still listening and that was apparent from the set of her jaw and the alertness of her posture. Her eyes might be closed but she wasn't dozing off, sometimes it was just easier for her to see the big picture when she couldn't see anything at all. "It is systematic," She interjected quickly without opening her eyes. "The Minister has a deep hatred for the Order and Winston's death made it personal for him. Trust me, it is systematic." Serena knew Justin too well, she knew how completely ruthless he could be especially when he had a cause. He loathed the Order, they brought out a fire in him that she had never seen before. Just the mere mention of them could put a crack in his carefully honed calm. "Right now the double-agent question is the last thing on my mind. Right now I have no desire to be a member of the Order of all." That was as honest a statement as she could have made. Usually she would have tried to be a little more coy but right now she had no patience for the games that she played on a daily basis at work. Saying one thing, meaning another and lying without ever really uttering a lie. Right now she didn't care, she would lay all her cards out on the table.
Serena's eyes opened again and she rose to her feet, his speech had sparked something in her. The part where he had said that she had had no trouble believing that the Death Eaters were a cause that her father had thought worth dying for. She was tired of his assumptions about her, they were grating on her nerves and cracking her recently recompiled calm demeanor. "No! I didn't think there was anything in my father's life that he considered worth dying for. I thought he was a selfish man and that if the Death Eaters had fallen that he would have turned his coat so fast that no one would even know he had ever been associated with them." Her nerves were frayed, this conversation was really going nowhere. What she needed was time to process, time to reconcile this, time to figure out what she was going to do. Serena wanted to just kick him out and never see him again but unfortunately his story had sparked an interested in her. She wanted to know more about the picture that he painted of her father, she didn't want to shut the door on that completely. But right now she was too angry and her mind was too scattered to come to any good conclusion. "Can you just go now? Go. It'll be better." For once she wasn't trying to annoy him, she just really needed some time to process this on her own. "Next week at this time you can come back and we'll talk then. This meeting is too one sided, you know too much and I don't know enough. I can't have this conversation seriously." Her voice was flat and she was fully back into her normal professional mode. Now at least she felt as if she had some semblance of control over the conversation.