(1938-01-13) What the Heart Wants
Details for What the Heart Wants
Summary: Audrey's argument with her manager leads to meeting Mikhale and Endira.
Date: January 13, 1938
Location: Leaky Cauldron

Leaky Cauldron, London

This cramped, angular room is the taproom of the Leaky Cauldron. A long bar runs along one side of the room, plain wooden stools set out before it. Smoke from pipes and candles fills the air. The patrons of this curious little bar, many of them elderly, sit hunched over their mugs at the tables. Waitresses sometimes coined 'Wenches' bustle back and forth bearing trays of food and mugs of ale. Many of the people seem strangely out of place, dressed in cloaks and floppy hats, as if they stumbled out of another century. Notably absent is any modern muggle devices or electric lighting, or any sign of electricity at all. Still, the occasional muggle does find their way in here, usually declaring it to be 'quaint' and 'atmospheric'.

Seated at a table near the fireplace, Endira is paying more attention to the conversation of a pair of wizards at the next table than on the book in front of her. There's a cooling cup of tea on the table next to the book, and her cloak is draped over the back of a vacant chair nearby; as has been her wont since her return from the Orient, she's dressed impeccably in Chinese fashion, right down to the way her hair is styled.

Stepping into the Cauldron with a long jacket and tophat, which he removes after coming inside is Mikhale, the handsome wizard winces as he reaches up to slowly unwind the scarf from around his neck, his movements stiff. He'll make his way to Endira's table, leaning over to kiss her on the cheek when he arrives, slumping into the seat without his usual grace.

Audrey blows into the Leaky Cauldron like a feather in a windstorm. She gathers up the long, draping sleeves of a rather dramatic dress set with an ocean of sequins, and makes her way to a table where a pudgy, blond-haired man sits alone with a pint. Plopping down across from him, she gives him an expectant look.

The pudgy man sighs, giving Audry an irritated look. "You were supposed to be here ten minutes ago. No, don't give me that look, or excuses. The gig was over two hours ago. We need to discuss this."

Endira's attention shifts to the door when Mikhale enters, and she tilts her cheek toward the kiss before arching a brow at him. "You're looking a little more worse for the wear since I saw you last. Something happen?" Before she's finished speaking, her attention is caught by Audrey's rather dramatic entrance, and the other eyebrow goes up, her expression one of fairly evident curiosity.

"Just a run-in with a rather angry manticore." Mikhale gets out before Audrey's entrance, he looks the girl up and down for a moment and then blinks turning back to his table mate, "The dumb thing was too stupid to know it was dead and I." Pausing for a moment with a held up finger his face a little green, "Well, I'm sure it'll make for a grand story someday."

Audrey sighs melodramatically. "Sharkey, there's nothing to discuss. We're perfectly discreet in front of Muggles. You worry far too much."

Sharkey huffs, "It's you that should be worried, doll. One whiff of this in the Muggle press, and your career is finished. You hear me? Done. Kaput. Over. You'll be blacklisted from every major venue. You'll end up working basement gin joints if you're lucky. This isn't just your career on the line, sweetheart. I've got a reputation to look after."

"Where was this?" Endira's attention shifts back to Mikhale, but still flickers over to Audrey occasionally. "You don't look well at all, though, love, are you sure you ought to be up and about like this?" At least her concern is genuine, even if she's a little distracted.

"Oh… in a canyon not far from Petra." Mikhale says leaning back gingerly. He too will glance over at the actress/singer. A silent, "Do you know her?" is aimed at Lucy.

Audrey sneers at Sharkey. "Oh, your fine reputation. Yes, I forgot you're a man of such standing. Drop it, Sharkey. I'm not ending things. If you don't like it, tough."

Sharkey rises, shaking his head ruefully. "Audrey, you have no idea how thin the ice is that you're skating on." With that cryptic comment, the man drops a coin on the table for his drink, and marches for the door, leaving Audrey alone and quietly fuming. She catches a glimpse from Endira and Mikhale, and instantaneously, her angry scowl vanishes under a broad smile. "I am so sorry about that. Just business matters. You know how people get when money is involved."

"You didn't answer my other question," Endira murmurs at Mikhale, before catching Audrey's attention and smiling warmly at the actress. "I do. No apologies are necessary, Miss Taylor. May I call you Audrey?" She nods at her companion. "Mikhale, this is Audrey Taylor. I've had the privilege of seeing her perform on the stage."

With a wave that causes him to being coughing, a rag goes to his mouth as he does so. "My… appologies Audrey." He takes the first name familiar for granted. "Probably, I'm pretty sure I took the antidote plenty soon enough." He'll answer Endira's second question. "You're… a singer then?" Folding the cloth that he held to his hand away surreptitiously, making sure the blood he just coughed up faces away from Endira the whole time.

Audrey rises, suddenly glowing all over Endira. Her sparkling gown — which looks much better suited to the stage or a very fancy party than a pub — only adds to the effect. "You may absolutely call me Audrey." She drifts over, offering her hand toward the gentleman…but at the coughing, the offer becomes more of an awkward wave. "Ah…yes, I am. Singer, actress, model. Whatever pays the bills, you know." She strikes a little pose, lifting her bare shoulder as if expecting a photographer to burst into the room at any moment.

Endira's smile brightens at Audrey's enthusiasm, though she checks it to turn a concerned frown on Mikhale, and she sighs. "Antidote. Is there someone you'd like me to call to escort you to hospital, Mik?" She shakes her head, returning her attention to Audrey and offering her hand. "Endira Max. I'm terribly sorry that my companion doesn't have the sense to take better care of himself, but you know how men can be, surely?"

"Nonsense… I know the way there, it's really not that bad." Mikhale grumbles, before turning his attention to Audrey and gesturing to take a seat, "Please, join us. Name is Mik. Besides, I didn't want to just… leave you here all alone, now that I see you're in good company…" Forcing a smile at the pair of blondes. "I think I'll make my way there now actually."

Audrey chuckles at Endira. "Don't I ever." But she gives Mikhale a pouting smile, placing a hand on his arm as if they were dear friends. "Oh, must you be off so soon? Well, do take care of yourself." She accepts the invitation, taking a seat at the table and wiggling her fingers at a server to order a drink. "Half a glass of whiskey, single-malt. Thank you, love."

"I'll be by to speak to you later," Endira assures Mikhale, before turning her attention back to Audrey, closing the book and picking up her cup of tea and sipping from it. "I must say, Audrey, that I'm quite delighted to meet you."

A sharp intake of breath as Audrey puts her hand on Mikhale's arm is a credible sign she managed to find where the stinger went in. The bandage under the shirt is already bled through and her contact causes the dark fabric to get a bit darker by contact. Standing up with a half stagger and pulling out his wand with his good arm. "Yes… a pleasure." And then he'll disapparate with a much louder crack than normal.

"Oh dear…I do hope he'll be alright. He seems such a dear man." But Audrey's worry is quickly pushed aside in favour of an adoring smile at Endira. "You are so sweet to say so. Forgive me, I haven't caught you name yet."

"Hopefully he doesn't splinch himself," Endira murmurs, shaking her head and sighing at Mikhale's abrupt departure. She smiles again, though, and offers a hand. "That's because Mik was busy stealing my introductory thunder when I said it earlier. Endira Max."

Audrey blushes, "I'm so sorry, Endira. Lovely to meet you. So, are you and Mikhale involved?" She asks the bold question as plainly as if she were asking her to pass the salt.

"Not nearly as involved as he'd like us to be," Endira replies, her expression turning catty for a handful of seconds. "We've been dancing around a relationship for quite a while, and I'm not inclined to give him what he wants so easily."

Audrey giggles, clapping her hands softly. "Oh, that old game. Well, if a man doesn't want to be left dangling, he has to learn to climb, doesn't he?" She gives a bright smile to the wench that brings her whiskey. "Does he at least have a job? He seemed a little…" She lifts her drink indicatively. Apparently she completely missed the bit about being poisoned.

"Mm. He's got a long way to go." Endira glances toward the spot that Mikhale Apparated from, then nods at the question. "Owns his own business, as it happens. Arranging trips or some such. Prior to that, he was in acquisitions, and we've crossed paths a few times on our independent travels. The, ah, behavior you just witnessed was due to an encounter with a manticore."

Audrey blinks. "He was stung by a manticore? And he comes to a pub. Good grief. You had best consider him carefully. If he hasn't got the sense to take care of his own health, how can he properly take care of a woman?"

Endira inclines her head to Audrey. "Just so. There are lessons he has yet to learn, and I am a very patient woman. I can't begin to fathom what he thought it would accomplish to come here in such a state, but that is a matter for later. It's been ages since I've been to a production of anything on the stage here in London. Are you in something at the moment?"

Audrey beams happily at the interest in her work. "I am. It's this gripping play about a woman who builds herself up from nothing, only to have it all stripped away again. 'The Rise Before the Fall.' The show has received several excellent reviews. I'm named in them, of course." She shrugs, feigning embarrassment.

"Well, of course, why shouldn't you be?" Endira's praise is genuine, as is the continued warmth in her expression. "It sounds quite riveting, I shall have to make it a point to attend a performance. You are, I have no doubt, the star of the play, yes?"

Audrey gives that "embarassed" shrug again, but nods with a gleam in her eye. Then, adopting a cockney accent, she juts a hand forward for a manly handshake. "Rose Wendell. Pleased ter meet yer." She giggles, then continues the little performance, shifting her accent to a much more refined English clip, "Rose Darling, and nevermind Rose Wendell. She never existed. Do you hear me, Charles? She never…existed. She's a wraith…a shadow in your memory best forgotten to the night."

"My." Endira's eyes positively sparkle with delight. "You're an even better performer in person than you are on the stage. And, if I may, certainly more personable than some other performers of lesser talent that I've met."

Audrey puts a hand to her bosom, demonstrating how touched she is. "You are such a doll. Thank you. I fear I do know what you mean. Many actors and actresses seem to forget that we are nothing without our audience. We owe it to the people to be gracious."

"It's quite heartening to see." Endira sips from her teacup, then sets it down, her fingers resting on the cover of her book. "Do you ever find you have difficulty, connecting with an audience?"

Audrey tilts her head, pondering the question. "Well…between you and me? It's terrifying thinking that the audience won't like my work. So…I suppose I have trouble connecting every night. But…" and she gets a distant smile, "…when the applause comes…or when that collective sigh or gasp can be heard…there's something that just swells inside me, and I know I've touched them, and they've touched me."

"The risk of an artist." Endira nods. "Though I should think it's been rather less risky for you these last few years. You have an exceptional gift, after all. For touching people. It's been several years since I saw you perform, yet the impression has stayed with me."

Audrey reaches over to lay a hand on Endira's. "Thank you. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to know I've changed your life." Because obviously, an impression by Audrey Taylor is enough to improve anyone's lot in life. "It fills my heart. Now you absolutely must come to the show. Endira Max, correct? I'll put your name on the list. You must come, and you must visit me backstage and tell me how you liked it."

"I absolutely will, though you must be sure to include a plus-one, because one should never attend the theater unaccompanied." Endira rests her free hand over Audrey's briefly, acknowledging the gesture. "Would it be too much trouble for you to post me the details? I've recently given over management of my schedule to an assistant, and we're still on something of a trial basis."

"Oh, it's easy. It's showing at Prince Albert Hall. You can come any night. They won't take you off the list. And yes, of course I'll includ ea plus-one. Though if you bring Mikhale, do make sure he isn't poisoned?" Audrey giggles, covering her mouth. "I'm sorry, that was unkind."

Endira gives voice to a silvery laugh. "It was, but that doesn't make it any less relevant, given the circumstances of how you met him. Though, I very much doubt Mik will enjoy the theater, however much he could use some culture. In point of fact, I was thinking I might bring my assistant."

Audrey nods firmly, making a mental note to contact the theatre about putting her name and her plus-one on the list. "Then I look forward to meeting her…him? Is it a her or a him?"

"Him," Endira replies. "Colin Godwin. I'm sorry to say that he's probably not familiar with your work, but he's spent most of the last decade hidden away in a museum in Sweden. I have every expectation that he will find you as charming as I do, however."

If she could blush on command, she would. But Audrey shows every other sign of polite embarrassment at the praise. "You are a dream, Endira. Oh, but don't tell me when you're coming, alright? If I know you're out there, I'll be an absolute wreck. Just come see me backstage after the show. Surprise me."

"If you insist." Endira smiles, then glances to the table where Audrey had been seated with the little man earlier and looks back to the actress. "May I ask… about the conversation you were having earlier? Was that your agent or manager or whatever title is in fashion these days?"

Audrey sighs and nods, fishing a cigarette out of her little purse. "Ah, yes. Sharkey. He's good at it. Ruthlessly good." She rolls her eyes as she puts the cigarette between her lips and looks for a matchbook. "He's about as warm as a dead frog on a rainy night."

"May I?" Endira reaches for her cloak, fishing a matchbook out of an inner pocket, which she then holds up for a moment before removing a match from the pack and striking it alight. "One might say that such a thing would be an asset, given the sorts of things he would need to handle, yes?"

Audrey leans in gratefully to let Endira light her cigarette. Blowing out a stream of smoke, she nods, "Thank you. Yes, it often works in his favour. But I'll be damned if I let him make me become like him."

Endira blows out the flame once the cigarette has been lit, dropping the match on the saucer where her teacup rests. Her opposite hand flutters at her bosom, an echo of Audrey's earlier gesture. "Gracious, I should certainly hope not. It is much more difficult for a cold heart to engender warmth in others than for a warm heart to play a colder part. Surely, such a change would diminish your talent, and therefore your value to someone like Sharkey."

Audrey rolls her eyes. "Sharkey doesn't understand matters of the heart. He just thinks of artistic talent as a skill like any other. You have it or you don't. I swear, the man is a goblin in disguise. The idea that things like compassion or love might actually matter when it comes to using my gifts are just lost on him."

"Mm." Endira's expression turns shrewd for a moment. "It sounds as though he needs someone who isn't an artist to tell him these things. I've found that such things are better received if the person delivering the news isn't quite as personally involved."

Audrey chuckles ruefully. "Well, good luck with that. The only way it will matter to him is if you can convince him it makes him more money. But I really doubt he'll get it. He's just not that kind of person. I mean…it's like you said, his outlook is good for some things. I just put up with his coldness because…well, I wouldn't be where I am without him. He's the architect of my career."

Endira's smile shows her teeth. "My elder sister is a businesswoman. I have very little doubt that I could put it in language he'd be capable of understanding."

Audrey smile endearingly at her, again reaching to touch her hand. "You're very kind. But I should decline. He'll just think I sent you to try to tell him how to manage me. Besides, he's the only Squib agent I know of. I don't know of anyone else that could manage my career in both worlds."

"Duly noted." Endira's expression softens again. "I do hope that you have plenty of additional support, to lend encouragement against his wishes. I'm aware of the difficulty in maintaining a presence in both worlds."

Audrey sighs sadly, nodding. "It's that additional support that he wants me to leave behind. That's…what we were fighting about." She nods over to the empty table where she and Sharkey had been arguing.

"Ah. Something unacceptable to one world or another, I take it?" Endira offers an apologetic look. "It was rather difficult not to hear parts of the conversation."

Audrey waves it off, obviously unconcerned about being overheard. All attention is good attention. "The person I love is a woman. Rather a surprise to me, as well. But there it is. Sharkey is worried that it will get out among the Muggles and ruin my career. He's right, of course…if it got out. But…I can't leave her just because it might hurt my chances at stardom…can I?" She frowns, taking a heavy drag from the cigarette.

"The heart wants what the heart wants." Endira smiles. "I can understand some of his concern, but that's certainly no reason to leave her behind. There is little enough happiness in the world these days, he shouldn't begrudge you any or yours."

Audrey beams warmly at Endira, and suddenly she's up and trying to hug the woman like they were the best of friends. "Thank you," she says, voice cracking slightly.

Fortunately, Endira is well-versed in reading such cues, so she's not only prepared for the hug, she accepts and returns it. "You're quite welcome, Audrey. I know how very difficult the search for love can be, and it is to be treasured whenever it is found."

Audrey stands up after the hug, sighing contentedly, and blinking back a few happy tears. "My, my. You do know how to get a girl talking." She laughs softly. "I should be going. But thank you for speaking with me, Endira. I should hope we'll meet again soon. I think we'll be the best of friends."

"I have something of a gift for conversation, it's true." Endira is perfectly willing to admit this fact. "And I do hope that we will be. I'll surprise you at the theater soon, make no mistake. Do take care, Audrey."

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