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Sadie Derwent

[1835/1836][EN] I need that fire just to know that I'm awake

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18th of May 1836

 

It had been months. More than half a year, actually. Not much had changed since then and yet everything had changed. She'd been busy, because of course she had been. There were twenty babies to take care of, there was money to be earned, there were things to be learned and oh, then there was her parents new, shiny enterprise. She just didn't have any rime left. No time to think of what was going on, no time to think of a plan, no time to do anything about it.

 

But... that had to end. Because this was getting worse. There was less food to go around and she had to fork over even more money at the end of every working day. They'd started suggesting that maybe she should stop going to school and she really couldn't afford that. It had to end. Now. She had to stop whatever they were doing and make everything all right and that was scary. Terrifying, really. She didn't know what her parents would do if they found out, but she also didn't want to find out what would happen if she did nothing.

 

So today it began. Today she would start fixing what had gone wrong. Starting with...

 

Her.

 

OOC:
Private <3

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The little bell rang and Bambi looked up from her work. She'd never seen this girl before. She was short and thin, almost familiar in her appearance. But no, she was human, definitely, and hiding her nerves behind a veneer of bravado. Bambi looked a little amused as the girl stepped up to the counter. The girl's face was determined. Her back straightened, her feet firmly on the ground. She wasn't here to buy anything. She was here for a deal. Bambi smiled. "How old are you, child?" She asked, smiling a little wider as a look of annoyance spread across the girl's face. It always did. Children so wanted to be adults. "I don't make deals with children, honey. Maybe you have parents who can help you with this?" She looked the girl up and down. Her dress was colourful, but too short and looked like it had been mended a bunch of times. With magic, with needle and thread... She wasn't a careful girl. She looked tired, but hid it well. It was always so interesting how humans were like an open book. Even the ones trying so desperately to hide something. "I don't think I can help you."

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Sadie did frown. What did she care about her age? Surely this woman would've made worse deals than Sadie was about to propose. She hadn't even listened to her. All she'd done was look at her and dismiss her like almost everyone else did, because why should people listen to her? She was only a stupid teenager. "I'm old enough." She said stubbornly. How old exactly, was the next question. "Sixteen." She said quickly. Too quickly, maybe. The woman looked her up and down and smiled as if she couldn't believe it. The same patronising look everyone else got whenever Sadie told her age to someone. She couldn't help the fact that she still looked like she was twelve. She was almost an adult and people were supposed to treat her like that. "No, I'm really sixteen." She assured the woman. "I'm only months away from turning seventeen."

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Bambi cocked an eyebrow and smiled. Sixteen? Really? She didn't know much about human babies, but she was pretty sure that this one still firmly belonged in that category. She looked like a child, in any case. All tiny and thin, with big eyes and strange, childish clothes. She looked cute, even as she stared stubbornly and tried to make herself taller and more menacing. In fact that made her look even more adorable. The girl sounded convincing, though, but... "Even if that were true, it wouldn't change a thing." Bambi said, shrugging. "Months away from adulthood means that right now you're still a child." It was sad and all but she had to put her foot down. She wasn't going to help teenagers again. Not after the last time. "Those are the rules. Come back in a few months and maybe we can talk, all right?"

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"I don't have a few months!" Sadie said immediately. She frowned and tried not to look too desperate. Salespeople could smell it if you were. "Look, this is really important." Sadie said. "I need someone to help me and I heard that you have the resources. I can pay you." How? Well, she was going to figure that out later. There was the money, but... she had to save that. It would be too dangerous to use it on something like this. But she'd also heard that this woman dealt in favours and that was dangerous, she knew that well enough. But it was all she could do. This might be the stupidest thing she had ever done, but it would bring her just that much closer to fixing what was wrong. If she had to do some...unpleasant things to get that done, she would be happy to pay the price. All for the greater good, right?

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She could sense the desperation immediately. Bambi had been in this business for years. Just a short time, maybe, for a fae, but long enough to know about a human's body knowledge. Everything this girl did screamed desperation. But it also told her so much more. This was a girl who had gone through a lot. She could see that in the harshness of her face, the protective stance she took. She was used to either fighting or having to defend herself. And there was a certain kind of honesty in the way she spoke, besides the urgency. Whatever it was, this girl thought she was doing the right thing and she had to admit, that pulled on her heart strings a little bit. Or maybe that was because of the big eyes that tried so very hard not to plead. But no. No! She couldn't go around helping minors anymore. And she couldn't go around helping anyone anyway. These were humans. She wasn't some innocent little girl. Eventually there was always the chance that she'd betray her and then Bambi would pay the price. She couldn't have that happen.

 

"Listen, sweetie." She said in a forceful tone. "Do you know what I do here? This isn't a playground. You can't just walk in here and expect to get help, because i don't help. Go back to your mother or...whoever else you live with." She waved at the girl dismissively. But she didn't leave. Damn it.

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"I know what you do here." Sadie said, looking the woman directly in the eyes. Why did everyone always assume she was naive? She wasn't. She couldn't afford to be, not where she lived. "I grew up on Knockturn Alley, I know your shop." She gestured at her surroundings. Sadie had never been inside, but she was always aware of its existence. Her parents had made some deal with her one way or another ages ago and Sadie had been curious ever since. She looked into the shop sometimes every time she was sure no one could see her. As a child she had merely been fascinated by everything that was sold there. All the trinkets and curiosities. Nowadays she was more interested in the people. Why they went there, what they asked for. And now she understood. "I'm not naive and I'm not stupid. I know what you do and...I know something else." The woman in front of her smiled an unnatural smile. "And what is that?" She asked. Sadie hesitated. This might well be the biggest mistake she would ever make. Sadie didn't quite know what she was, but she was sure that angering her would be a bad idea. And still. She was desperate. She didn't know where else to go. Trying to fix it on her own hadn't worked and she needed something new. "I know that since you've moved in here, you haven't aged a day. You don't want me to tell anyone else about that. Right?"

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Bambi blinked a couple of times in surprise, but it wasn't long before she started laughing. Oh, she could get angry. Easily. Blackmailing wasn't exactly something she liked, but come on. The girl was so tiny and she looked guilty even at the thought of attempted blackmail. Even this weak attempt seemed to go further than what she wanted to do and the look on her face was nothing short of hilarious. She thought she knew what Bambi and people like her did, but she had no idea. What she did have, however, was courage. A lot of it. Probably way too much. Again, it tugged on her heart strings. It was as if she was trying to be a story book hero, nobly sacrificing her integrity for the greater good. Bambi still hadn't heard her proposal, but now she was getting curious. "Oh sweetie, it's not like I'm hiding it." She said. "I'm sure a lot of people who are stronger and older than you are know about that." Bambi sighed and walked from behind the counter. If they were going to speak business, she'd rather do it completely face to face. As equals. She preferred it that way. Otherwise people might see her as nothing but a salesperson and she was far from that. "But I like you. Tell me what you want and I'll tell you what I can do." At the very least she could point the girl to someone who had less qualms about dealing with children.

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She could feel her cheeks get warmer as the woman laughed. This wasn't the reaction she was hoping for. Granted, she hadn't really expected her to feel threatened, but she had hoped that at the very least miss Bellerose would realise that Sadie meant business. But she didn't. She just laughed at her. Served her right, probably. Sadie shouldn't have tried it in the first place. It wasn't how she wanted to do this. If she was going to do good, she needed to do it in the right way. There was no such thing as "the wrong thing for the right reasons." If people got hurt, they got hurt and then no amount of assurances could convince them that it was somehow necessary for the greater good or whatever. That was exactly what those political people said when they put Knockturn Alley down even more, ignoring the good people living there because of the Bad People who were also present. It never worked out the way they wanted. But they didn't care, because they didn't have to live there. Sadie did. So she should have known better and now she was getting laughed at. Deservedly so.

 

At least it had seemed to charm the shopkeeper in some strange way. She asked Sadie what she wanted. Her stance changed from defensive to hopeful, which maybe wasn't a good idea, but this was the first time anyone would ever be able to help her and the fact that she at least expressed interest was new and exciting. "There's a baby." She said. The woman frowned. "Not like that." Sadie immediately clarified. "My stepparents adopted her a few months ago. Her name is Evie. She's from Finstall in Worcestershire, but I don't know anything else about her. I need to know who her parents are and it needs to stay secret."

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A baby? Wasn't she a little... Oh, not like that, apparently. An adopted baby from Finstall. Bambi had never heard of the place, but that was all right. Anyway, the request was relatively simple. She knew the name, the place she was from and presumably also the baby's age, so finding out who the parents were was easy. In theory. The question was...why did this girl want to know who the parents were? Why did it have to remain a secret? Bambi couldn't deal with secrets very well. She was a naturally curious person anyway, but in most cases having as much information as possible was all the more easy. This girl kept secrets, but maybe the baby's parents did too. Maybe they were going to be difficult and didn't want to tell Bambi who they were. Maybe the girl's stepparents had their own secrets too. She couldn't work with that. So the girl was just going to have to provide her with answers.

 

"And why is that." She said with a smirk. "Competition getting a little heated?" This girl was cute, but generally speaking babies were cuter and some children couldn't really handle that. But it didn't look like this was the case here. Her face was nothing more than concerned. "Look, I need to know what I'm stepping into, honey." She explained. "I can't just run into things headfirst without knowing if there are any risks. You understand, right?"

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Wow, that was insulting. But fine, Bellerose didn't know who she was. She knew nothing about her situation and Sadie preferred to keep it that way for now, but apparently she had other ideas. She needed to know the risk. Again. Fine. She kind of knew that was coming. Obviously she couldn't just expect someone to help her without knowing what was going on, but really she had kind of hoped she would just find the parents, tell Sadie who they were and leave things alone until...Sadie needed her again. Which was probably going to be pretty soon after that if things went well. Merlin, Bellerose was talking about needing to know the risks, but Sadie was pretty sure she was stepping into a lot more trouble than her. She was going to be in a lot of debt after this if the stories about this shop were to be believed. But it was worth it. It would always be worth it. Staying in the situation she was in now would mean she and a lot of others would end up far worse. 

 

So fine. She needed an explanation. Sadie would just give her as much as she needed, but no more than that. "I think my parents weren't supposed to adopt her." She said. "They have a few others. I don't think they were supposed to adopt them either. I need to find their parents, but Evie is..." Well, she wasn't the newest anymore and even then, saying she was would just clue Bambi into the fact that new babies were routine and not some weird little thing Sadie found out about right now. There were so many babies in the house and so many more had already been...given to other parents. "I know where she's from. And I know when she was born, so I figured it would be easier to figure out where her parents are and see if maybe...they wanted to take her back."

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Hm. This wasn't really all that clear. There were "a few" and her parents "weren't supposed to" adopt them, but what did that mean? It could mean they were abusive and this girl simply thought they shouldn't have children. Or maybe it meant that her parents were kidnappers. Maybe they bought the babies. She knew there were parents desperate enough to go down that route. In any case "my parents aren't supposed to be adopting babies" usually meant that she should really go to the aurors with this and not to a pawn shop, but here she was, which meant that... she couldn't. One way or another, this girl couldn't go to the aurors, which meant two things. Either bad things would happen if she went to the aurors or what her parents were doing wasn't actually illegal. Baby farmers? Or just simply bad, bad humans? She didn't know. Either way it was dangerous enough that Bambi was starting to have doubts about, again, dealing with minors, but... Ugh, those babies would probably be in a lot more danger. They couldn't punch anything, they were babies. 

 

Ugh! She knew she really should just tell that kid to buzz off and find someone else to fix her drama, but this was a good thing she could be doing. A good thing. Something to do with children. And she couldn't say no to that. Not really. Well, technically she could, but everything about that just felt wrong. Sometimes she wished she was born unseelie. They might have been ugly and unpleasant and mean, but at least they didn't have this stupid sense of morality to deal with. She could say no. There was nothing stopping her, but it felt wrong. Everything about this just felt wrong. The desperation in the girl's eyes, the story, the fidgeting... "So I suppose this won't be the only time you'll come to me?" She guessed. "If there are more that... shouldn't be adopted." The girl nodded. Bambi sighed. Then this was the point where they were going to make a deal, wasn't it? And Bambi was actually going to do this. This girl was actually going to do this. They'd both be at risk. The girl would be in debt to her, make no mistake, Bambi wasn't just going to help her for free. She didn't do that a whole lot and maybe here and there she'd throw the girl a bone, because she pitied her, but overall she wasn't just going to offer her services for nothing. There was risk involved. Bambi should get something back for it. Maybe not money, this girl didn't look like she had any, but surely there was some deal that could be made.

 

Bambi thought about it for a little while, weighing her options, her head swaying left to right in the process. "All right, this is the deal." She eventually said. "You can come to me three times and three times only. It doesn't matter how many names you give me, but I won't help you a fourth time." Humans liked numbers. They thought they were magical or something, especially when it was a three or a seven. Bambi didn't really understand why. Maybe there was magic to it, she didn't know, but deals were always supposed to be at least a little bit mystical. And Bambi was always ready to supply the air of mystery. "After that... I will come to you three times. And I'll ask for something. Since you're asking me for something good, so will I. But unlike you, I won't have to explain myself or tell you in advance. That's my offer." She shrugged. "Take it or leave it."

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This wasn't a good deal. Sadie knew that immediately. At the very least she should haggle a little. Make sure the woman would give her some knowledge in advance or give her some kind of choice, but on the other hand... She had nowhere else to go. Miss Bellerose would be able to do things more than others would. She was able to break the law and find information about people that she shouldn't really get in the first place. And her parents weren't breaking the law. Everything about this was legal. (In fact it wouldn't be regulated until 1872 under the Infant Life Protection Act, since in reality this started to become a problem in the mid to late Victorian era with the invention of better and faster transport. But witches already have that transport. This was your daily random history fact/headcanon) Her parents wouldn't go to jail for "adopting" children. But with Bellerose's help, Sadie could at least make sure that the babies wouldn't be hurt any more than they already had. Sadie tried her best to take care of them and so did Sophie, but there were so many of them. She couldn't always attend to them perfectly and there wasn't enough food or warmth and she tried so hard. No baby had ever died under her care. But that wasn't something she should be thinking about at her age. She needed it to stop.

 

Sadie nodded. She wasn't going to haggle. She wasn't going to ask for anything less than this, because she was too tired. All she wanted was the help this woman could provide and if this was the price, then fine. She was going to live with it. Sadie was going to trust that she would only have to do good things. It would be worth it. "It's a deal." She said with more conviction than she felt. There was an uncomfortable moment of silence as a smile appeared on Bellerose's face and Sadie felt strangely hunted. "So what happens now?"

 


The end~

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