(1938-03-20) Controlling
Details for Controlling
Summary: In the fallout of Audrey meeting Sam, Audrey and Ranjali hit some rough spots over differing opinions on acquaintances.
Date: March 20, 1938
Location: Audrey and Ranjali's Flat
Related: Famous Femmes

Audrey lounges on the couch of the apartment she shares with Ranjali, draped in a shimmery white robe and a glass of wine in her hand. She stares out through the sliding glass door to the starry night sky outside, eyes heavy with a mind filled with too many thoughts. For now, she waits. Her lover often works late, and while Audrey would usually be in bed by now, she couldn't sleep if she wanted to. Not tonight.

Ranjali steps through the door, one hand up to rub the muscles tightening at the back of her neck after a the long day at St. Mungo's. She pauses just after closing the door, breathing a sigh of relief for being home, then as she drops off her bag and removes her shoes calls out, "Hello? AUdrey, are you home?"

"In here," Audrey says in a lazy voice. She shifts on the couch to better look toward Ranjali, reaching out to set her wine glass on the coffee table. Despite her dour mood, the vision of Ranjali appearing from the vestibule brings a warmth to her lips.

Ranjali smiles, too, when she steps forward enough to see Audrey, her eyes drinking in the sight of the blonde. "There you are. I'm so glad you're here." Once her shoes are removed she steps in to join Audrey on the couch, "That was the longest day I've had in some time. How was yours?"

Audrey tucks her feet in to make room for Ranjali. She sighs wearily, "My day was…" She tilts her head. "I met Samantha Trask tonight."

Ranjali's eyebrows rise in surprise, "Oh! So quickly. I just recently met her myself, and she mentioned wanting to meet you." She moves closer, reaching for one of Audrey's hands, and searches the woman's eyes carefully, "How did it go?"

Audrey's eyes already tell a grim story. "That woman is trouble," she says flatly. "Ranji? Did you…tell her about us? She acted like she knew that you and I are together."

Ranjali looks down, letting out a slow defeated sigh. "She guessed. And I failed to convince her that she was wrong. I think, perhaps, I will need to take some lessons in acting."

Audrey squeezes Ranjali's hand reassuringly. "I don't like her, Ranji, and I don't trust her. She implied that she would try to take you away from me, after nearly exposing us in a crowded restaurant."

"Wh-what?" Ranjali's eyes widen, worry and even a bit of fear touching her expression. "I… suppose she's even daring enough for that, Merlin." Scooting a little closer still, she tucks her arms around Audrey's waist reassuringly, and shakes her head, "I thought, for a moment, she might have been our blackmailer. Its probably why she so easily confirmed her guess about us."

Audrey leans into Ranjali, wrapping her arms around her to complete the embrace. "The same occurred to me. I'm still not convinced that she isn't. It's just too great a coincidence. She meets you one night, me the next, and makes all of these intimations about knowing about us? What is she's trying to use the blackmail to split us up so she can have you?"

Ranjali shakes her head, trying to deny the fearful possibility. "It was a great coincidence. But could someone like that truly be so… manipulative? She seemed rather more… " With a frown, she tilts her head closer to Audrey, "More… bold. Like someone who wants to live in the open,, not like someone who would do something so… underhanded."

"Bold, yes, definitely. But that doesn't mean she couldn't be underhanded." Audrey presses her head to Ranjali's. "She strikes me as someone who thinks she can have whatever she wants. She's certainly good looking enough that it's probably true most of the time. Between beauty and money, she's probably completely spoiled."

"Possibly." Ranjali pulls one hand free to reach up and stroke Audrey's hair, "She was… rather striking." Letting out a soft sigh, she suggests, "I've been… thinking about looking for someone to research the issue. If you truly think we should, perhaps we can suggest her as a possibility to whoever I find."

Audrey shrugs, nuzzling into the crook of Ranjali's neck. "I don't know. Who would we hire? If it's a Muggle doing this, a wizard investigator might…well, you know how it is with some wizards and their understanding of the Muggle world. And we definitely can't hire a Muggle."

"I'm not certain yet." Ranjali closes her eyes, the hand stil around Audrey's waist shifting to gently massage her back, "But I'd like to ask mother… and Cooper, perhaps, for advice." She braces herself for the reaction to her second suggestion, though being in Audrey's arms is making it somewhat difficult to focus on such concerns now.

Audrey sits up, her frown deepening. "After everything that's happened, you still want to associate with that heartless bitch?" Audrey withdraws her arms, crossing them sternly. "I don't understand you sometimes, Ranji."

Ranjali blinks. Ok, well, she wasn't prepared enough. "Audrey… she might be able to help." Sitting up, she watches the blonde pleadingly, "If I thought it would protect you I'd go to… to Azkaban itself, even."

Audrey tries to stay resolute…but damn it all if Ranjali's espousal of dedication doesn't melt her a little. She sighs, reaching to link their hands again. "And I'd never forgive you for doing so. No…we don't fix one problem by creating another. Genevieve and Samantha are two of a kind — cold, self-centered…you-know-whats."

Ranjali frowns, unable to agree. "I don't know about that. But if you don't want me to ask her, then I won't. I'm still going to ask mother, though. She might have a few ideas."

"It isn't just that I don't want you to ask her. I don't want her in our lives at all. We don't need cruel people. The world is full of them. We needn't invite them in."

Ranjali breathes slowly, "I… I'll think about that. That's a harder decision to make. But I understand your feelings." She looks up at Audrey, searching her eyes again. "Will that work?"

Audrey's face drops, her eyes shutting in frustration. "We've had this conversation before. Why is this so hard? Why would you want to hold on to a person that treated you with such casual callousness?"

"I'm not /holding on/ to her." Ranjali insists, shoulders drooping as she takes in Audrey's reaction. "Its… its difficult for me to stop associating with people I have known for so long. I'm going to try, Audrey, for your sake. All I'm asking for is time."

Audrey makes an incredulous sound of exasperation. "So long? You met her shortly before I did. That was less than a year ago."

Ranjali frowns. "I ran into her again just shortly before we met. But we were at school together. We'd lost touch, but we knew each other for years."

Audrey sighs, lowering her gaze. "Right. Hogwarts. Yet another thing I can never share with you." A sudden coldness overcomes Audrey and she pulls into herself, reaching for her wine for a heavy swig.

"Audrey… no…" Ranjali shakes her head, reaching for Audrey's hands, "Its not like that. Please, I don't… I've /never/ felt that way about her. She's… she was my friend. And you know I don't… I don't think like that."

Audrey stares harshly at her wine glass, keeping her free hand firmly tucked under her other arm. "That makes it worse. She was supposed to be your friend. There was history there, and she still treated you like garbage. Yet you're ready to welcome her back with open arms because you have history with her that I could never have. It stings, alright? I'm a Squib. I live between worlds, but I can never fully be a part of either."

"What?" Ranjali frowns, sitting up straighter now. "Not open arms, Audrey. I've not even spoken to her in… in months. I just thought she would be a good person to find out about this. And it would be difficult for me, if she wanted to see me again, to say no. There's only one person I've ever cut out of my life completely. Its simply not easy for me." She turns away, giving the floor a hard stare of her own. "No matter what world you are in, or not in, its you I want to be with, Audrey. Your world I want to be a part of."

Audrey clenches her jaw, silently promising herself that she won't cry. "My world doesn't include hurtful, evil people. I ran away from that world, and I don't let them near me now. I…I can't sit by and watch someone I love allow herself to be victimized by another one."

Ranjali closes her eyes tightly, and for a few minutes is still, considering as carefully as her emotions will allow what Audrey has said. When she feels ready she looks up, licks her lips, and offers, "Than I won't see her again."

Audrey should be joyous. She should be thrilled that Ranjali finally sees Genevieve the way she does. But…there is an emptiness, and it shows. Her voice is meek when she finally responds. "R-really?"

Ranjali nods slowly, "If it means so much to you, yes." She searches Audrey's eyes again, "I wouldn't put you through pain for anything in the world. If her presence in my life truly gives you so much pain, then yes. I will not see her again."

Audrey looks down at her hands, almost shamefully. "No. That's…that's not what I want. You're doing it for me. But I'm trying to protect you. Oh God…I've turned into my father." She drains the wine in her glass, setting it down heavily on the coffee table and burying her face in her hands.

Ranjali freezes for barely two seconds before leaning forward and reaching for Audrey, wrapping her arms around the woman tightly, "No, no Audrey. You haven't. There's nothing wrong with what you say, truly. Its my own fault, I'm… I'm too nice. Its how people are able to take advantage of me. You're right, she's probably not any good for me. I'm sorry, please… don't blame yourself."

Audrey quickly stands up…too quickly, as she's a bit wobbly. That wine was probably not the first glass she had tonight. "You're me. You're me before I left Bottledown. God…you're me and I'm my father. I'm trying to control you…tell you who you can associate with…" She walks to the glass door leading to the balcony, staring out at London below.

Ranjali's eyes widen a little, then narrow, at the wobbling. She takes a slow breath, letting it out in a sigh, before rising to follow. "You never once said that I /couldn't/ associate with her." She insists. "And as I said, you have good reasons why I shouldn't. Yes, I'd rather you give me time to come to terms with everything, and to make the decision my own. But /you/ are more important to me than she is."

Audrey hugs herself, still keeping her back turned as she tries to maintain some modicum of composure. "So how am I any better than anyone else trying to take advantage of you? I know you'll do as I ask. So here I am, using your feelings for me to manipulate who you can be friends with. Genevieve, Sam…anyone I don't like. You know, my father used to say he was just protecting me. I used his own words."

Ranjali moves to stand beside Audrey, turning her own gaze to the city as well. "I never knew your father." She murmurs, "But I can only assume that what he did to you was far, far worse than asking you to stop speaking with a few of your friends."

Audrey shrugs, dropping her eyes to the floor. "Ranji, I don't want to control you. It doesn't matter if he was worse. I don't want to be that person." Finally, she turns to face Ranjali, slowly daring to look her in the eye. "I love you. You are so wonderful to me. Sometimes…it scares me. Nobody but Toby has ever cared about me as much as you do. I…I don't let people get that close. But you…you danced right into my heart, and sometimes it frightens me that I let you do that…and maybe that makes me say stupid things. But it frightens me even more that I might ruin this."

Ranjali turns to face Audrey as well, and starts to step forward. But she stops herself, pulling her arms back to give Audrey her space and wrapping them around her middle. "Oh, Audrey. Just talk to me. Just like this. that's all I need. We all want things that might seem unreasonable sometimes. You've already seen my jealousy." She offers a tiny, self-deprecating smile, "You aren't ruining this. I love, you, far too much to let something like this ruin anything."

Audrey doesn't demand the space, and in fact closes the distance, awkwardly trying to put her arms around Ranjali. "You take the time you need. You decide for yourself what you want. But…no matter what you decide, if she ever hurts you…I'll show her what vengeance means to an Irishwoman." A truth one Magnus Troy can attest to.

Ranjali pulls Audrey in tightly, a tiny whimper of relief escaping her when Audrey reaches for her. She presses her face to the side of the blodne's neck, nodding against her at the words spoken and giving a reply that, though muffled, is nonetheless amused, "And I will love you all the more for it. Thank you."

Audrey clings tightly, burying her face in Ranjali's thick, dark hair. "I'm sorry. I know I'm terribly bossy. Don't bother denying it." She sighs heavily. "You make me a better person."

Ranjali chuckles, "You make me a braver one. And I like it when you're bossy, sometimes."

Audrey giggles weakly. "Okay…then the boss says don't let go. I think I'll fall down if you do. I…um…probably shouldn't have had that third glass of wine."

"Probably not, no." Ranjali replies with mock censure, pulling her head back just enough to shake it. "Have you eaten? There was a birthday today, I've brought a bit of cake home. Or shall I take you upstairs?"

Audrey puts a hand to her mouth, shaking her head. "No food." She puts on her best pouty lips, her eyes suddenly wide and doll-like as she pleads, "Take me upstairs?"

If Ranjali had the strength, she'd certainly have gathered Audrey into her arms to carry her up the stairs the moment she saw that face. As it is she stares for a moment before gathering enough wits to nod and slip an arm around Audrey's waist and guide her up the stairs and to bed.

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