Henry did not see Helena the next day, or the next, or even the next. He was slowly slipping into boredom. However, the light at the end of his tunnel was the Council Meeting. It occurred every Sunday morning. He waited patiently for the day to arrive.
As with the previous week, he pushed his way through hordes of men, young and old, to get to Helena, one of the few women in the room. She was conversing with another woman. Henry almost allowed himself to stop in the middle of the crowd struggling to get out. The woman seemed distinctly familiar. He was very afraid.
The woman sighted him and narrowed her eyes. She directed Helena’s attention to him, Helena merely looked amused. Henry contemplated turning back. Then, he reminded himself of who he was. He was a dashing hero. He did not turn back in the face of danger.
He moved with less determination, still heading towards the two women. He sincerely hoped that they would take themselves away from this place before he met them.
“Hello,” he breathed out as he reached their standing point.
Lucy Felbridge’s eyes remained narrowed.
“Lucy, “he nodded, “How are you?”
“Why don’t you ask my family? You’ve disgraced us!” With that, she turned to leave, gathering the leather strap of her hand purse into her white gloves, “Good ‘morrow, Helena, dear. And while I’m sure I don’t need to remind you, I shall anyways, don’t get too mixed up with this one!”
“Until next time, Lucy,” Helena and Lucy kissed cheeks swiftly before Lucy swept off.
The amused expression had not left Helena’s face.
“That girl,” Henry muttered darkly.
“You can’t really blame her,” Helena shrugged. “If I ever loved you, I certainly would be hurt by your actions.”
“Lunch?” Henry asked, eager to get away from the topic.
“It was just blatantly stated that you have disgraced a girl. And yet, you do nothing to keep by her. You want me to go to lunch with you?” Helena did not sound incredulous, but rather, just raised her eyebrow as if he’d suggested hitting a horse with a fly swatter.
“I know you’re more sensible than that. So, yes.”
She offered him her hand daintily, giving the air a sniff.
“I carry no money with me today. I might as well get something for all the trouble I have to deal with with these stupid policies we’ve been conversing all day," she allowed him to lead her down the steps of the meeting hall and into the street.
As they walked, Henry tried not to express his surprise. “You are one of the most active Council members, you scorn it?”
Helena scoffed. “Surely you don’t think I do this because I care. I do this to make a name for myself. Personal success, Henry, it’s beautiful and so unattainable.”
Her words struck him as odd. For a moment, she seemed to be just as needy as he was, just looking for the heights no one ever thought they could reach.
“I’m surprised. I thought you were an ultra-activist,” he commented, for lack of anything better to say.
“I can be an ultra-activist. It’s all just a question of what will put me on top. I’ll write a book, if need be, or start painting a phenomenon. The method is really of no matter to me, just as long as it gets me to where I’m headed-the hall of fame.”
They reached the café and followed the same routine they had the previous week. It puzzled Henry that, despite Lucy’s presence, that still seemed to hover over their luncheon, Helena remained completely nonchalant towards he was. Though, she’d known all along who she was with. It should be of no surprise to him that she remained unchanged.
They conversed as they had last week in such an easy-going manner that it bothered Henry. At the sight of Lucy, he was afraid she’d turn Helena against him. However, now that that wasn’t happening, it was disturbing him a considerable bit more.
“Why?” he asked abruptly, interrupting her little spiel on why cauldrons should be regulated. After admitting to not really caring about Council, Helena had proceeded to talk about every topic in session.
“Why what?” she asked, annoyed he’d cut her off.
“Why did you come?”
“Same reason as last week,” she sat back. She had felt his unease all hour, but had not commented, mostly because it was of very little concern to her.
“To find out why I’m a wanted man?”
She just nodded lazily, not showing concern to how it would be interpreted.
“Come to the manor with me. You can find out,” Henry said silkily.
“You know what will happen if I do.”
“Then you admit you would succumb,” he laughed.
“Then, why don’t you not worry your head about it and accompany me home. Let yourself want it too. That’s the only way you’ll solve that mystery.”
She nodded, only slight hesitance evident in her motion.
"And I promise," he said, "I will not treat you like the rest."
She gave no response to this. They exited the café. They apparated to the Brennan estate. It was no surprise what happened.
Henry looked at a sleeping Helena in his arms. He could easily imagine being with her for years to come.
Henry smiled at his vision. "Henry and Helena." Their names went together like the tinkling of bells. She was feisty. She was oppressive. She was a tease. She was everything the opposite of easy. She was everything he'd ever wanted.
The thoughts of finally grasping everything he’d been searching for, everything he’d wanted to find, accompanied him as the lull of peace rocked him to sleep.
Henry woke up to Helena's back.
She had her clothes on and was rifling through her bag. “Are you…are you leaving?” Henry could not believe his senses. Her eager attitude towards leaving was unusual, even by his standards. It was unwarranted as well.
"Oh don't be a drag, Henry. Surely you knew, I only wanted it once," she said with a smirk.
She was mocking him. And he loved her all the more for it. He wanted to see her face. He attempted to bait her.
“You’ll be disgraced if this affair gets out. And it will," he brought up the topic Lucy had mentioned the day before.
Helena laughed harshly. “You think I care of such petty rumors?”
“They are more than rumors if they are truth,” Henry protested.
“Either way, I care naught for them. They are silly. They do not impede the course I plan to take.”
“And what is that?”
“I plan to seize glory,” Henry could feel it in her voice, she was smiling. He tried again. He had to see her face.
"Did you figure out why all those women wanted me?"
"Curiosity," he could hear the smile in her voice once again, but she still did not turn to face him. She only retrieved what she had been looking for in her bag; her wand.
"That's what brought you to me too, though," his voice trailed off. He was not sure what to attempt.
"Yes, curiosity killed the cat,” she turned to face him finally. “But me? I am a raven." She chuckled at the pun referring to her ancestry.
"And all those other women were cats?" Henry asked, reminded of their conversation the previous week.
She nodded. The look on her face made him feel as if it were the truth. There was no other explanation for it. Helena Ravenclaw was one of a kind. She was a Raven in a world of Cats. She knew how to play the game. He was a snake, disguised as a rat. Cats would catch him, but he’d always slither out of their paws. Cats were never meant to trap snakes. Ravens, however, well, they were meant to ensnare snakes in their claws. They grasped them tightly, allowing no room for him to slither away. Then, they'd throw them against rocks and let their heads be bashed in silly. Henry could not help but feel that Helena was doing that to him. She was twisting his mind into tight little knots, killing the synapses.
"And curosity is all that led them to me?" he tried to bait her again. Perhaps an enigma would convince her to stay, if only for a while longer.
"You’re quite dashing, I will admit,” she paused, “And your name, I suppose,” she shrugged, showing it concerned her very little. “There's a certain glamour about you that comes with your title, Baron."
He frowned, "You've never called me that."
"But that's what you are. A Baron. The Lord Henry Brennan.”
“Yes. The reincarnate of Casanova himself, capturing ladies’ hearts with pretty words and daring escapades of bravado in saving them,” Henry mused.
“And then you break their hearts, yes?”
“I would never break your heart,” Henry looked her in the eye, stating the oath solemnly.
“Ah, but that is because I would never give it to you,” Helena laughed gleefully.
“So, you are the raven. What am I?”
“You are the hapless snake who thought himself so sly.”
“Well, Miss Ravenclaw, I could call you the Grey Lady with your mysterious demeanor. I can neither see you nor right through you. You are neither tangible nor invisible. You’re like smoke.”
“And I could call you the Bloody Baron. Your trousers soiled with all the hearts you’ve stolen and broken, but you’ll never find what you want most.”
“I did find what I want most.”
“Yes. I suppose you did. And what you want the most is to never have what you think you want the most.”
“Why would I not want to have what I long for?”
“Don’t you understand yet, Henry?” His heart leaped for a moment. She was still calling him Henry. “You will always only want it once.”
Helena Ravenclaw walked out of the manor, her stride brisk and professional. Henry Brennan contemplated her. She was exactly as he’d found her; distant and all too easy to desire.
It never occurred to him that they were all too easy to desire until he’d had what he wanted.
Helena whispered to herself, still chuckling the way she did as she made her way back to the real world where she had yet to gain all the honor she herself yearned for. It occurred to her that glory wouldn’t be all that alluring once she had it. “You are human, Henry. We are human. Of course, of course, it explains everything so well. We have always only wanted it once.”
Author's Note: I hope this story isn't too rushed! I hope it's not too short! And I really hope it's not corny! I've been struggling with deadlines and have been very excited to actually complete a fic longer than 2 chapters. This was written for louiselShere's Title Challenge x0xShatteredDreamsx0x's Casanova Challenge primarily. It's been great writing this, I hope it was not a waste of your time. Please review with your feedback! It's much appreciated, thank you for reading!
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