Donovan chuckled lightly, sitting back a little and creating more space between them. It was hard enough to be near Anya when he was completely sober; the amount of respect and, frankly, adoration that he had for her had been dangerous even before he’d picked up a drink, but now it was almost too hard to refrain from doing something he knew that he would regret. She was absolutely right about him, though he wasn’t surprised. Anya had always seemed like a woman who knew more than he could have guessed, especially when it came to reading people. She was sharp, and that was yet another thing that pulled him to her. As much as he didn’t want her calling him out on the personality defects he was already well aware of, there was something alluring about the fact that she wasn’t afraid to do just that. He wondered how she always kept it together so well when at times it seemed like he was one wrong step from falling completely apart. He had half a mind to ask her just that, but even he hadn’t had enough to drink for that line of conversation. Discussing sex was bad enough, ever time the word brushed past her lips in that maddening accent he nearly lost it, but even that was better than going down the “deep” road.
After a moment he caught her eye, nodding his head. “You’re absolutely right,” he said, wondering if she had expected him to argue. It was no secret that the two were very different in their opinions and personalities, but Donovan wasn’t one to fight when he knew the other person was right. “I do love too easily, and maybe I’m not doing it right at all. It wouldn’t seem so, considering where it’s got me.” He considered taking another drink but then thought better of it, knowing any more and he would be crawling back to his bed that night and incapable of doing any proper work in the morning with the headache that would plague him. “But I don’t think you completely understood,” Shifting in his seat, Donovan managed to stand up, steadying himself by placing one hand on the bar until his eyes could focus on her and the room stopped spinning. “All I meant was that I think it’s possible to fall in love with anyone if you know them well enough, if you saw the person they really were without all the walls and the excuses and the lies.” In a bold move, one he regretted almost instantly but didn’t revoke, Donovan placed his hands at her waist, guiding her off of the stool to stand in the small space with him. “I’m not saying I wouldn’t like that moment of mutual realization though, if it were the right girl.” He found himself incapable of looking away from her, and without thinking he moved one of his hands to hold hers. “You might not be able to fall in love, but I imagine that you know how to dance?” A warm smile tugged at his lips, and Donovan felt more alive than he could ever remember as he stood so closely to her with their bodies touching. As the song on the bar radio changed, he bent down a little to speak closer to her ear. “May I have the honor, miss?” He was certainly drunk, and most of the hard work he had put into distancing himself from her and any other girl was going to waste just then, but he found himself incapable of caring as his veins were filled with Firewhiskey and his eyes filled with her.
Anya was very aware of Donovan. His voice, his body, his presence. First he was just talking but then he was moving ever closer to her. She even felt herself get a little flustered. But she stuffed that feeling down, and gladly accepted his hand, and his invitation to dance. “You may.” Was simply all Anya said. She moved her body closer to his, feeling slightly tipsy as the alcohol began to take affect. She was human after all, and after 8 full glasses of firewhiskey, her legs weren’t as steady as they should be, but they were steady enough. She moved her hand from his, and instead hooked her arms around his neck. Not only did that bring her body closer, but her head as well. Her hands played with the hair that she could read, and she twirled each strand, admiring its consistency, and wondering silently if finding a mans hair attractive would be strange in the UK or not. Then she stood on her tip toes, so she could get her mouth closer to his ear, and whispered “You’re not zat bad of a dancer, Mister Bailey,” Her words were slightly slurred now, her accent ever thicker the more plastered she got. Her mouth stayed by his ear though, and then moved down until her face was buried in his neck. Her lips, on their own accord, placed a chaste kiss against the base of his throat, and she pulled herself ever closer.
Soon they were no longer dance, except for a few sways. They were simply standing in an embrace that Anya was sure to never get out of. But soon, her instinct to flee took over, and she backed away, creating a few more inches of space between them. Inches that soon felt like miles. But she wouldn’t let herself become embarrassed, and soon she looked straight up into his warm, and dare she say it, loving eyes. She knew he didn’t love her, but his eyes seemed to bore into her own, and her soul seemed to come alive. Without thinking at all this time she grabbed the back of his head with her hands and brought his lips down onto hers. Relishing in the heat and pressure, and soon needing so much more. She flicked her tongue along his lips, and then his teeth, but before he let her gain entrance, she stopped. This time backing away quickly, and leaving meters of space between them. What have I done? She asked herself. With a quick goodbye, Anya ran back to the castle. She wasn’t a coward, but she was never one for affection like that. She was used to kissing, sure, but kissing for her always lead to sex, and the kiss that she had given Donovan gave way to no intention other than perhaps actual feelings. She was confused, and he was her coworker. Sure she slept with Jack, but that was clean, as clean as sex could be, compared to this. Maybe it was just the alcohol, Anya reasoned, and maybe a bit of sleep would clear her mind.
As Anya drifted off to sleep that night though, a man flitted in and out of her dreams, and he certainly liked to say miss and ma’am more than a person ever should. But for some reason, even in her sleeping form, it made her smile.
Despite his usual ability to hang on to every accented word that slipped from between Anya’s lips, Donovan could feel himself struggling to make sense of them as they came, finding that it took him longer than it should have to put her words together in a way that made sense. This was yet another reason why he didn’t often like to give over to drinking; Donovan liked to have a good grasp on every situation, he found that it was less easy to get hurt that way and over the years it had become the only way he could be sure that he was the one in control of what happened to him. But the loosening of his inhibitions and the slow decline of his mind and with it the barriers that he kept up constantly, Donovan could feel himself giving into her without her even knowing. “You’re wrong,” he slurred simply, an almost undetectable shake of his head accompanying the words. It was perhaps the least polite he could ever remember being since starting the case, but there was something about her and what she said that made him want her to hear his side out. He didn’t know what, he just knew that he thought there was more to sex than Anya knew. And surprisingly enough, he thought he was the one to tell her about it. “You think there’s nothing but the physical parts?” Donovan arched an eyebrow, letting go of his drink to rest his elbow on the bar and slide himself towards her. He’d never been so forward and frankly it frightened him, but the Firewhiskey had apparently done its job. “Have you ever been with someone that loved you so much they’d do anything for you?” Donovan slid closer still until he could nearly feel the heat of her body mingling with his. “Have you ever felt the touch of someone who you knew wanted just you, no one else?” His hand moved from his leg to hover over her thigh, but before he could brush her skin he realized just how close to her he had put himself and suddenly sat back up, pushing his drink away from him.
Clearing his throat awkwardly, Donovan could feel a red head creeping back up his neck and this time across his face. How could he be stupid enough to put himself so close to her? To even suggest thing things that he had must have been overstepping hundreds of boundaries. And yet, he couldn’t bring himself to completely regret his words. “It’s much more than just physical, Anya. At least it can be.” He let his words trail off, his eyes fixed on his drink instead of on her. Letting it sit there he answered her question, knowing that even discovering her darkest secret wasn’t worth allowing himself to lose control like that again. His heart was still healing from a relationship that had ended years ago, if he thought he was strong enough to take on her, he truly had consumed too much drink. “I suppose I don’t look for certain qualities,” he said at length, still not looking up at her. Donovan feared that if he caught her eye, the only answer he would come up with would be to tell her the truth; he looked for her. “I think I could fall in love with any woman if I knew enough about her. If I could hear her thoughts, even the bad ones, and know that she was a genuine girl, someone who was dynamic and real, someone who had interests and likes and things that she hated, but good reasons for all of those things. Maybe she can have fun just laying around, maybe she’s only satisfied when she’s always busy. Maybe she can cook like a God or perhaps she’s never cooked anything at all.” He shook his head again, looking back up at Anya and setting his eyes on hers. “I could fall in love with anyone if I knew enough about them.” And he could certainly fall in love with her. She wouldn’t even have to try.
The air seemed to thicken around the two of them, and although Anya on the outside looked unaffected, she felt a sudden heat rush through her entire body as she listened to Donovan speak, and as she felt him creep closer. He was definitely a man who believed in love, even if it had seemed to cause him so much pain. But for Anya, she had never experienced it in a way that made sex intertwine with emotions. Perhaps she was just fantastic at keeping things separate, or maybe she just hadn’t been looking hard enough for a person who might give her that. If she had known Donovan better she might have suggested to herself that he seemed to be a willing volunteer, but then again, she wasn’t quite sure she wanted a serious relationship like that. With sex she could control things, well, as well as anyone could. She was able to enjoy it, and not get attached to the person, just the feeling. If she ever opened herself up enough, she knew she would be a goner to most men that she slept with, but her work was always the most important aspect of her life, and she didn’t want to risk it for something as silly as love. “Zee only sing I have felt ven having sex, Bailey, eez the complete bliss zat eez experienced during an orgasm.” She said the words calmly, and in almost a detached sort of way. Her and Donovan might be similar in some aspects, but in this one they couldn’t be further apart.
As he started speaking again, she took another swig of firewhiskey, and listened intently. Noticing very quickly that this time he seemed determined not to meet her eyes. He was embarrassed, she realized, and his cheeks and neck were more red than usual. It was cute, a bit of a turn on as well. He was confident, but he had many boundaries as well that he seemed intent on not crossing. “Bailey, I sink you have a problem, and don’t take zis zee vrong vay, but you love too easily and too strongly. If just zose sings could make you love someone, zen vhy eez love considered special at all? Een theory a person could love every seengle person at once, or maybe every ozer day. I sought love vas supposed to be an instant click of realization. Vat eez zee point of somesing zat can so easily happen, and can so easily be changed?” She looked into his eyes as he continued to speak, and her heart rate picked up. She had a gut feeling that those words were direct towards her, not not just women in general this time. “I don’t sink I could fall een love vith anyone even if I vanted to.” Her words were confident, and honest, and although she might not have sounded upset over the realization, she could feel her heart aching a bit. The truth was, Anya wasn’t sure that she was capable of loving another person.
Donovan nodded as she spoke, listening closely and thoughtfully, and not just because she could be pretty hard to understand on most occasions, but because he actually cared what she had to say. He liked that she was so passionate about what it was she liked in a person, if anything her strong views made him admire her even more, though he wondered if he were the type of bloke that was confident, or the type that wasn’t. He could say that he was confident in his skills, Donovan knew that he had worked hard through school and training to be the best that he could at the job that he did. But he also knew that he could never have the easy social confidence that some of his colleagues, men like Cal and Jack, had. He couldn’t walk up to a girl and tell her that she was fit, he couldn’t flash her a smile and have her pinned up against the wall in a feverish snog five minutes later. But was that confidence, or was that simply being smooth? Or, rather, being an arse. It worried him to think too much about, and instead Donovan nodded at Anya and took a large swig of his drink, a drink that seemed to be playing into what confidence he did have. Maybe that was why Cal and Jack were always so confident.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with reassuring a person they’re doing well,” Donovan said after taking another swig. “I wouldn’t expect anyone to pat me on the head every time I did something well, I’d rather do my job well because I can, not because I’m going to be praised for it, but I don’t think there’s anything terribly wrong with a compliment here or there.” Lifting the mug up to his lips, Donovan nearly spat his drink out all over the bar when Anya spoke her next question, choking on the burning liquid until his eyes were close to watering. Donovan cleared his throat and he could feel a heat rising up the back of his neck and to to tips of his ears. He seemed to be hyper aware of every place her eyes landed on him, and with a slightly discomfort he shifted in his seat. It had been, well, it had been a long time since he and his last girlfriend had split up. And since her, Donovan had only slept with two other girls. “Er,” he began awkwardly. Would she think less of him for his lack of recent sexual encounters, or would she not care? He let his eyes settle on her, and suddenly he was sure that whether she cared or not, he wanted to be honest with her. What was the use in saying anything at all if it wasn’t honest? “Probably a year,” he admitted, downing the rest of his drink. “I don’t really believe in sleeping with people I don’t care deeply about, not that I don’t think other people shouldn’t do that, it’s just… it’s not for me.” Looking back to his empty drink, Donovan slurred out his next question with a smile. “And when was the last time you had sex with…no, when was the last time you had meaningful sex?”
She all but blocked out his first few sentences, as he responded to her confession of hating those who lacked confidence. Anya didn’t want to get into a verbal argument over her high standards for other people, and she figured that Donovan didn’t seem exactly like the type to want to get into a disagreement over something so silly either. The next few sentences though had her entire attention. She could tell that he was uncomfortable, and let slip a quick laugh as he spit his drink. The reaction was exactly what she wanted, the answer however, surprised her a little. From the sounds of the first question he answered, he hadn’t been in love with a person for a while, so she figured he probably hadn’t had sex for a while. The thought almost annoyed her for some reason. Although she couldn’t exactly pinpoint as to why. Anya didn’t say anything back in response, not wanting to embarrass him further. The question he then asked her was something she had been expecting, and something she didn’t really know how to answer. Sex itself was a meaningless physical thing for Anya, so she figured she better start explaining.
“Vell it all depends on vat your view of sex are to being vith. You sink sex eez just vith people you care about, I sink it’s somesing entirely different. For me, sex eez purely physical, I don’t like feelings to become tvisted into eet all. Then sings just get messy. But I suppose if you vant meaning, I’ll say last time vas vith a friend, a good friend. Ve had a bit too much to dreenk, had sex, and continued on vith our friendship. Zat eez as close to meaningful as I have gotten lately.” She reflected back on that night in Australia. Her and Jack had both been plastered, her less so, and neither of them could help but jump the other. They had been on a steak out for what seemed like years, and neither of them had been with anyone during that time. Anya was sure that neither of them developed feelings for the other, but she supposed that it had meaning because they were friends. And friendships carried a special meaning all their own. By now, the glasses were starting to pile up, but Anya still felt clear headed, compared to the slurring Donovan across from her. She drank her next glass, and after a moment of deliberation, asked her question. “Vat qualities do you look for in a voman?” She gazed at him, waiting for a response, and smiling at how adorable he looked when he was tipsy. This bloke wasn’t going to last much longer.
Donovan decided right then and there that he could listen to Anya speak for days and never tire of hearing her voice or being pulled into her stories. He was certain that even the smallest and most boring of stories would come alive as colorful tales when spoken by her, and he felt himself become ensnared in her story as if she were telling him some great secret. For all the knew, she might have been. He had never imagined that Anya was a particularly open person, he was even certain that she might have admitted to as much on one or two occasions, and so regardless of this was all because she didn’t want to go back on the terms of her game or not, Donovan was going to savor the moment and every detail that she let slip to him that night. More than anything just then —more than he wanted to kiss her, more than he wanted to reach over the small distance and hold her hand, and more than he wanted to walk out of the bar and stop these dangerous thoughts from veering him off of the path he had set himself on after his last heartbreak— Donovan wanted to know everything about her that she was willing to share.
While listening to her story he found several similarities between herself and him that he never would have imagined. He too had trained himself to only love his job, he also had grown to appreciate people being forward about their intentions, especially after his last girlfriend had hidden for months that she no longer loved him while his feelings only grew deeper and deeper. Perhaps it was just the firewhiskey talking or the excitement of finally loosening up after the few weeks of stress of the case and the final disappointment in the Ministry itself once it had closed, but he was finding that this was quickly turning into a great night. Watching her finish off her drink, Donovan prepared for the question that he knew was coming. With a deep breath he prepared to give the standard answer he’d perfected over the months, but then thought better of it. Falling for someone had that effect on a person. “I never thought I’d be an Auror,” he began, picking up the newest drink set before him to get a head start. “They always seemed too violent for my liking, but then I had my heart broken three times and suddenly throwing myself into something as demanding as Auror training, fighting every day to save my life and to save others, training in combat and wand work on my days off, it seemed a lot more appealing than sitting around a bar and drinking away my feelings did after the girl I proposed to turned me down. Like you said, it’s a job you can fall in love with. I decided that I was going to be done loving women that hurt me in the end and instead love a job that I could expect every day to wake up and be hurt by instead of being surprised when one day you do.” Finishing off his drink, Donovan returned his look to Anya, the far off look in his eye disappearing. “What’s the one trait in a person that you can’t stand,” he rattled off, eyes locked on hers as he gained the slightest bit of liquid confidence.
Not to sound too confident, Anya figured that Donovan’s story would be something like that. He was always very respectful of women, and knew how to treat them, but he also always seemed very wary of them. It was almost as if he was figuring them out, trying to see if they were about to do something wrong. But he also looked at women like they were dangerous threats, and not just mysterious creatures. Now she knew the reason why. Women in his past had done what many more women would in the future, they broke a good mans heart. “Vell, you do have a point. At least vith zis job ve know ve are going to get hurt or even die. I sink eet just makes eet even more interesting.” She sent him a gentle smile, happy that he had shared that with her, and happy that they were getting along so well. He really was a nice bloke when he wasn’t be all formal with the ma’am stuff. Another drink appeared in front of both of them, and of course Anya was quick to take a ship out of hers, but not before hearing a question voiced by Donovan. That wasn’t very tricky to answer either.
She still sat for a moment, choosing her words carefully, not because she was worried that they would come out wrong, just so she could explain her feelings, and justify them. “I cannot stand a person vith no confidence. I sink confidence eez often times vat makes a person attractive and successful. I’m not sure I could ever fully like someone who vas alvays needing reassurance, I’m not much of a coddler, and zey shouldn’t need to rely on ozers so much. A person should be able to stand on zeir own two feet, not lean on anozer for support zey should readily be giving zemselves.” She shrugged. Anya liked strong people, fighters, those who would never give up in all aspects of their life. If a person couldn’t even look in the mirror without trying to see the good, how could they succeed in anything else? She finished her drink, and thought for a moment before asking another question. “Ven vas ze last time you had sex?” Now Anya was really fighting to keep her grin hidden. She was curious just to what his reaction to the question would be.
Donovan was certain that it was more Anya than the Firewhiskey that had him feeling so strange and almost lightheaded as he sat at the bar and looked in equal parts towards his drink and then back at Anya. He had always been a rather private man around those that he didn’t know very well, and that often meant that he took a greater pleasure in asking the questions that would allow him to get to know someone on a deeper level than in did in answer the ones that would provide the same opportunity for another. Still, Donovan found it nearly impossible to refuse Anya anything, and so it was with a small nod of his head that he agreed to participate in her game, no matter how dangerous it could be for him. He knew very well that she could out drink him with her hands tied behind her back and still walk out of the bar with as much poise as she had possessed when walking in, there was no doubt in his mind that she would be hounding him with questions, probably some that he didn’t want to reveal even when in his right mind, let alone remember while intoxicated. But Donovan was curious as well, curious to know the story of the girl he had been enamored of since his first day of training with the complete knowledge that she was bad for him and that nothing good could ever come of falling for a girl like Anya; a girl who could crush his heart like all the others before.
With a determined smile, Donovan took his second glass in hand as downed a half of it before taking a breath. He was no where near as practiced in the art of drinking as his colleagues were, but he had certainly been drunk his fair share of times after his third heartbreak. The taste and burn was familiar, but this time it felt more exciting than depressing because at the bottom of the glass was not the memory of the love of his life falling out of love with him, but the prospect of getting to know the Russian beauty that sat before him. Another few second had him slamming the empty glass down on the bar victoriously, taking a few breaths to steady his head before he could think of his first question. “If anything is too personal you can always pass,” he promised her, not wanting to upset her in any way or push his boundaries. He wondered what one asked a woman who had seem much, much more of the world and experiences more life than he could even imagine. “I suppose my first question will be have you ever been in love, really in love.” Donovan thought for a moment, his eyes dancing over her face as his hand itched to reach out and touch the skin that looked so soft. “And I want a story if you have. That is, if you want to tell it.”
She watched with a bit of fascination as Donovan mulled over whether to take her up on her challenge, or not. His face was very expressive in those moments, probably more then she had ever seen. He usually seemed so guarded, and a bit uptight if she was being honest, which she always was. But of course he wasn’t so guarded then, Anya amended in her head, his head was probably feeling a bit fuzzy from the firewhiskey. That could make anyone a bit more talkative and open about who they are, and what they want. Anya called for another drink, and watched as Donovan finished his second. It seemed that he accepted the challenge, and a slight feeling of victory settled over her. “I suggested zee game, and I vont back down. I sink zat eez zee covardly vay out of sings.” She held her chin up, and awaited a question. The one that fell from his lips, however, was not what she had been expecting. He caught her off guard, and suddenly she wished she wasn’t so prideful. So, Anya accepted the challenge, and took a deep breath, hoping that the answer wouldn’t completely scare him off. She liked the bloke.
“It vas a long time ago, at least eet feels like it vas. I vas about 19, and I vasnt really serious about relationships, just my vork, sort of like ze vay I am now. Vell, conveniently enough, I met him in a bar, more shadier zan zis one zough. I didn’t notice him, but he noticed me. He valked right up to vhere I vas sitting, took my hand, kissed it, and asked vat my name vas. You see, I like ven people are forvard about zeir intentions. And he, he vas very forvard. Ve vent back to his place, and after zat ve vould meet almost daily. I am usually able to break off relationships zat I feel are getting too serious, but vith him, I couldn’t do it. I vas already in too deep. But he vasn’t. It lasted just about a month, and zen, he just disappeared. Maybe I vas never really in love vith him, but I suppose zat eez zee closest to love I have ever gotten. I usually try to keep my distance, my vork has, and alvays vill be, my one and only love.” She stopped, took a much needed breath, and drank the glass of firewhiskey that was delivered during her story. “So Bailey, vat made you decide to become an Auror? Zere eez alvays some interesting story behind zee reason to do vork that gets leetle pay.” She smiled, and waited.
A smile slide easily across Donovan’s face as Anya spoke, the now familiar thickness of her accent as she spoke of now waiting for him to keep up reminding him that the two were different in more ways than just their drinking habits. Playing with the sweating glass of his own tumbler, idly wiping off a tear of condensation as it raced down the side of the drink, Donovan eventually took the glass in hand and raise it to her wordlessly. He watched in amazement as she seemed to down the whole drink in just one breath, and while he didn’t doubt with a great deal of determination he could do the same, he wondered what the consequences, namely when it came to matters of his heart, would be for such a rush. “My apologies,” he said with a grin, again tilting both his head an his drink to her. ”I’ll do my best to retire the formalities for just one night.” He hoped that dropping the ‘miss’ and ‘ma’am’ of his normal conversation would appease her, by the thought of this encounter being more than just formal business brought another wave of anxiety over him. Becoming close with Anya, no matter how greatly he desired just that, was more dangerous to him than his job could ever be.Now that he was in the spotlight with her eyes on him looking expectantly, or was that challengingly, as she made she he knew she wouldn’t go easy on him, Donovan had no choice but to bring the glass up to his lips. “I wouldn’t expect anything less than your hardest lesson, Anya. I came prepared as I could ever be. I only hope you won’t be too terribly disappointed that I was your only choice for a drinking partner tonight.” With that he took his first burning gulp of the Firewhiskey, closing his eyes and concentrating until a few more mouthfuls had the glass emptied. With his head spinning slightly from the lack of oxygen and quick intake, Bailey set the glass down on the bar with a thud, looking to Anya for what, approval? Instruction? He wasnt sure, only that she was the most beautiful woman he was certain he’d ever laid eyes on. “Does that call for round two then?” He had no idea what he was getting himself into, only that he was already in over his head, and more importantly, over his heart that grew far too fond far too easily.
Anya watched with interest as Donovan began drinking his firewhiskey. She had to admit, she was thoroughly impressed. Actually, she wasn’t even sure that he would be able to finish the first drink at all. “Vell, Bailey, I didn’t know you had zat een you.” She gave him a quick wink and then called for the second round of drinks. While waiting, Anya quickly appreciated what being an Auror did for Donovan. He was certainly a fit bloke, and with a bit of confidence he would be someone to look out for. Anya imagined that he must have been quite the heart breaker at one point in his life, but with another glance she figured he might have gotten his heart broken one too many times as well. Especially with the way that he would look at her, but then seem to glance quickly away. She wasn’t quite sure if she should feel flattered, or more on edge with his expressions. Usually she was able to read people fairly easily, but he had always proven to be difficult.
At last the drinks arrived, and Anya quickly gulped hers down again. She could feel no real affect on her body with two full glasses of firewhiskey in her stomach. There was a slight tingling sensation in her throat, but it was nothing compared to what a first timer might feel. Firewhiskey had long ago lost its burn, and the only thing it really offered was comfort. It was the closest Anya was able to find to her strong Russian drinks. It felt like home to her, especially after she had around 6 glasses. “So, Bailey, vhy don’t ve make zis more interesting. You drink a glass, and zen you are able to ask zee ozer person a question. I figure some motivation eez needed if you vant to keep up.” In reality, Anya was banking on the fact that Donovan didn’t seem to be that much of a heavy weight, and she was fairly curious about his life before being an Auror. She just prayed to Merlin that he wouldn’t down too many glasses. She saw him in interrogations, and she knew that he was capable of some fairly loaded questions that could catch anyone, even her, off guard.
The outside air was cold, cold enough to make Donovan hold his coat tighter around his body as he fought his way against the wind on his way to the Three Broomsticks. Despite the freezing late November air his palms still managed to sweat as each step brought him closer and closer to his arranged meeting place with none other than Anya Zolnerowich. Just thinking her name sent a jolt of renewed fear through his body, and for a brief moment he wondered if he had made a mistake in agreeing to accompany her for drinks. It wasn’t often that Donovan let his guard down anymore, especially not around women as enticing as Anya was to him, but with the sudden doubts that were growing in his chest over the Ministry and what they seemed to be doing and lying about, Donovan thought that perhaps an exception to his normally strict routine was deserved and perhaps even necessary. He couldn’t help it that Anya just happened to be the first to offer to accompany him, though a small part of him wondered if he wouldn’t have been nearly as eager to bend his own rules if someone else had asked. He knew that entering the pub was stepping into dangerious territory that he wasn’t sure he was ready for, but the clink of the bell above the pub door that alerted the patrons of his admittance sealed his fate.
It took him no time at all to spot Anya sitting at the bar, and for some reason Donovan thought that he could have walked into the bar with his eyes closed and still have managed to find himself sitting right beside her once he opened them. There was something about her, something that drew him to her in a way that was so powerful it frightened him, that was unavoidable no matter how hard he tried to remember that he couldn’t trust himself around women, they simply broke him too easily and he knew that if he let her, Anya would be the worst of all. Sliding into the stool next to hers, palms still sweaty as he peeled his jacket off and slung it over the seat next to him, Donovan gave her a warm smile and nodded for the bartender to give him whatever she was having. “Evening, miss,” he nodded towards her, taking the chance to really study her face. She was as beautiful as he could ever remember seeing her, and it almost made his chest ache to know she would never be his. “I take it you’re used to the cold?” He was still shivering slightly from the freezing air outside, but with her Russian background he would have bet she hadn’t even worn a jacket at all. As the bar maid set down his drink before he, Donovan raised it to her with a smile. “I’m all yours for the teaching tonight, miss. Time to let my guard down.” The thought scared him more than he would have liked to admit, but he put on a brave face, waiting for her beautiful accent to meet his ears.
Anya had been rather quick when Donovan agreed to meet her at the Three Broomsticks. She was desperate, in a way that she hadn’t been for a while, to let loose. There was something about seeing a young girl, laying on the floor in her own blood that struck a cord with Anya. Maybe it was simply the setting. In a school that most had previously thought to be safe, so many attacks seemed to have been happening. Even these children were now being exposed to the dark realities of the world, and although Anya loved her job, it was seeing the child turn into an adult too soon that crushed her. She knew that feeling, and she knew what it felt to drift away from the stunning light that childhood had brought. Growing up too fast was perhaps the most tragic of all things, and these students were experiencing it much too early. With these thoughts running through her mind, the walk was quick. She hadn’t brought a coat, not even thinking about the potential weather conditions. Her normally sharp mind was drifting lately, and the need for a drink increased exponentially.
She walked into the pub and grabbed the empty table on the far side. Then, quickly glancing around to see if Donovan had shown up yet, she ordered herself a firewhiskey, and walked back to her seat. She felt comfortable in this sort of setting. Even with the gazes that she knew were settled on her. She was used to getting gazes that had more than friendship in mind. But, she had years of practice with dealing with someone who might have been brave enough to ask. She had just been about to tell a bloke off when she looked up and saw that it was Bailey. He of course had worn a coat, and he quickly removed it and ordered a drink himself. “Ve are dreenking togezer, Bailey, I sink you can drop zee formalities.” She paused, and began again, “Zis veazer does not even compare to Russian vinters.” She smiled in response to his willingness to let her teach him her drinking techniques, and also because she knew he probably wasn’t used to keeping up with her. “Alright, Bailey, but I varn you, I vont go easy, even if you are a beginner” She picked up her glass of firewhiskey, and downed it in an extraordinary amount of time. She picked up a napkin, and quickly cleaned in face. She might have loved to drink, but she wasn’t a slob.