(1937-12-12) Someone To Lean On
Details for Someone To Lean On
Summary: After dealing with trying times for weeks on end, Keenan lets Veruca share his burden.
Date: 12 December 1937
Related: Many

The past two weeks have been frustrating for Keenan. A couple of owls, at the very least, have been sent to Veruca, trying not to be too blunt at his disappointment at not being able to go over and see her. A couple days ago, an owl announced that Niamh was going home, and the first night that he would be cleaning the shop and getting it ready for Niamh to work in.
There was no owl after that, or word from Keenan for a day or two.
The shop downstairs is closed for the evening, and lights on in the flat above. There's also a dim light showing from the windows on the third floor, the flickering light of fireplace flames. Interrupting the fluttering glow, a shadow moves restlessly back and forth.

It's really only a short way out of the way, to get from Gringott's to this part of the Alley. Hardly even a few steps, otherwise Rue certainly wouldn't have come by. At least that's how she's justifying showing up at Keenan's place again uninvited. She pauses on the street, looking up at the windows to his upstairs flat. As far as she can tell, after waiting a minute or two, that's just one person. Oh bugger it. She closes the distance to the stairs, going up lightly, and, before she can change her mind, raps lightly on the door.

The soft sound of stockinged feet pacing stops at the sound of the knock, and then the shadows under the door grow as he comes closer and opens to reveal the tall ginger, his hair in disarray. His gaze is hopeful, and at the same time haunted, as he opens the door. The hopeful turns to something that might be happy, it if weren't for that still haunted look that lingers in the creases at the corner of his eyes. He opens the door wider to give Veruca room to step through, and reaches a hand for hers as if to pull her in, but then leaves it to her choice to enter.
He goes back to the fireplace, and braces one palm on the mantle as he looks into the flames. "I was hopin' ye'd come… like we talked about…" he says quietly, just barely audible.

Rue can't help but frown lightly as she sees Keenan in a bit of a state. She steps in immediately after him, swinging the door shut lightly. There is no hesitation as she walks over to him, dropping her purse and coat on the way, and stops to put her hand on his shoulder. "Keenan? What's wrong?" From his demeanor, she's afraid something happened to his sister, and she wishes she wasn't so stubborn and had come sooner.

Keenan takes the hand from his shoulder, bringing it to his lips, then tucks it under his chin. "I don' know what tae tell ye. Niamh's… remembered everythin'. It was… I never thought tae hear…" he pauses and swallows. "She remembers who did it tae her, an' there's nae we can do, yet… if ever," he spits out the last two words bitterly.

She's not got a very extensive knowledge of the law, but Veruca is pretty positive in her knowledge that if there is a named culprit to a crime, surely something can be done. "Isn't it good that she's remembered? What do you mean there's nothing you can do?" The questions come gently and she closes the last step keeping them apart.

Keenan groans. "It's her word, Rue. Her word tae his money an' pureblood, an' status…" he shakes his head. "We need tae find some… proof. Solid, tangible, proof, or we'll be torn apart if we take it tae tha Wizengamot." He swallows, and loosens his grip on her fingers so he can wrap an arm around her and pull her up against his side. "God, Rue, I wish… I want tae tell ye… everything. But I can't, I just… Gideon wants us tae keep a tight lid until we can get somethin' on this man…" He rests his chin on top of her head. "I hate… not bein' able tae… tae be totally honest with ye."

Veruca hugs around Keenan's waist, pulling back just enough to lift her face to look to his as she brings her hand up to lightly cup his cheek. "Keen, love, you'll tell me when you can, and I know that. It's not being less than honest, it's something you have to do." She can see how pent up this has him, and it's almost physically painful to see him like this. It's definitely emotionally painful. "Come sit with me?" she asks, gently trying to urge him toward the sofa.

Keenan groans deep in his throat and closes his eyes when Veruca tries to console him, but he lets his arm fall and is led to the couch to the sit down. His eyes stare dully into the fire, the only light in the room. He holds onto to the woman next, his hand sliding up and down her arm. "He used an Unforgivable," the healer finally says quietly. "He was tryin' tae make her forget that he'd been there, that he'd used…" he swallows and hides his face in Rue's hair. "He almost did, tae. We would never have known…"

Veruca leans in next to Keenan, fitting up against him. She lets him speak, getting out what he can, and she waits a moment before speaking. Her voice is soft and gentle, "Keen, they'll find proof. It's not the 1800's any more, there's been so many advances." Well, she's trying to be reassuring, not accurate. "And almost doesn't count, almost didn't happen."

Keenan nods against Rue, but he doesn't lift his head. "I feel terrible that… a part of me wishes he'd succeeded, that he'd been able tae wipe her memory so we didnae know tae go diggin', so that she didnae have tae remember that… he stole her will.. even fer a moment." He draws in a breath, "my little sister… she shouldnae have had that happen tae her…" He squeezes his arms tight. "I wanted tae come straight tae ye, I wanted ye… but… I couldnae," his breath trembles along the back of her neck. "I couldnae tell ye everythin', an' I don' want ye tae be hurt…"

Veruca sits up and turns toward Keenan, bending her leg to snug in between them as she gently pulls him to lean toward her and let her hold him. "Shhhh, Keen…" Her voice is so soft as she tries to calm him. "Please, love, nothing can be done about what didn't happen. You cannot beat yourself senseless with it."

Keenan turns a little, to let Veruca hold him. "It's nae so much what I didnae do…" he says quietly. "It's that… I didnae know what tae do. Still don'," He swallows, and then nuzzles against her neck. "An' now that ye're here, I want tae keep ye here, an' keep ye safe. I don' want ye ta leave."

One hand strokes his hair as Veruca holds Keenan close, shifting to make him more comfortable. "I'm not going anywhere, love," she says tenderly. "There's nothing to keep me safe from, don't worry about that." A bare turn of her head lays a soft kiss on his forehead, and she lets her lips linger there.

Keenan begins to sag in Veruca's arms, the pent up anger and pain of the past few days that he's felt about his sister combined with issues never addressed from Mungo's are leaching the last of his strength, and his restraint. It's always easier to be strong in the face of adversity, that it is when faced with compassion. Especially when he half expected her to be mad at him for keeping secrets from her. He draws in a shaky breath, one that is transferred to the rest of his body as he begins to tremble slightly in her arms.

From somewhere deep inside, Veruca finds that well of caring to tap and her heart breaks for what this is doing to Keenan. "Shhhh, sweetheart," she murmurs softly. "It's going to be alright, love, you'll see." A tear slips down her cheek, but she pays it no mind, going on smoothing Keenan's hair and whispering softly to him.

It's that caring, that soft murmur, that breaks him finally. The man who's always in control, always with a quick grin, a flash of green-eyed mischief, closes his eyes and gives one, short, sob. He's always been on his own, and no one's truly pushed inside the invisible wall he put up without even thinking about it during all those years of hard work, of becoming 'The Man'… and he's never thought to change that. A couple days in his flat with a bottle of whiskey, and he'd come out right as rain again.
But the whiskey is gone, the bottle emptied earlier and still sitting on the coffee table from when he drank the last of it. Instead, he's in the arms of another human being, a woman who cares for him. It has an effect on him that goes far deeper than whiskey, and brings out his pain instead of masking it and burying it another layer of shell.

"My sweet love," Veruca murmurs softly, squeezing him a little bit tighter. What she lacks in experience as far as comforting others, she can only hope to make up for in how much she cares. "I wish there was something I could do, Keen, I'd do anything." There isn't another tear yet, but they are in her eyes. A lifetime of suppression and the resolve to be strong while he needs it keep them in check.

Some day, when it's needed, Keenan will be strong for Veruca when she needs him. But it's not tonight. Tonight she's broken down his strength, and he lays in her arms. At some point, he will gather himself enough to kiss her, and he will draw her further into his private domain. But unlike when she first took him to her bedroom, he does not have the energy to take her to the heights of pleasure he shared with her then. Perhaps, in the morning, when he wakes up refreshed, it will be a different story.

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