Looking up from the box on my work table, I see Rhianne, the company's receptionist, smiling warily at me from the doorway. I stare for a moment before she continues.
"It's past seven so I'm leaving. Can you set the wards before you go home?"
I grunt my response and watch her twirl on her heel and quickly leave my office, the door shutting with a sharp click behind her. I return to glowering at the small wooden crate and I tap my wand against the edge of my desk, not caring that I'm not even half finished with my daily quota of shipments. The tiny black box inside of the crate has an eerie reddish glow to it which I immediately recognized as a poisonus hex designed to eat the flesh away from my hands if I were to touch it. I have made no attempts to break the curse yet as my mind has been too jumbled today. Hell, my mind had been jumbled for over a week, since Paddy informed me I couldn't have children in my so called "condition". It had been eating away at me, making me more sloppy in my work, making me distant and short tempered with Fleur and my family. I hated feeling this way, as if I had sunk into a black pit of failure and despair and there was absolutely no way to claw my way out of it.
I had destroyed my future before, when I mistakenly let Babette push me into leaving Fleur. I spent years alone and hollow, pointlessly shagging nameless women and curse breaking half heartedly across the globe. I ruined everything. I had been the f*cking golden boy of Hogwarts, the popular Prefect and then Head Boy. Twelve bleeding NEWTS and a talent the curse breaking profession hadn't seen in two thousand years. I had Fleur...a flawless, beautiful eighteen year old who kept me on my toes every second we were together. My parents were proud of me.
And then Greyback happened...and then Babette...and then everything shattered.
But I was given another chance. Patricia had helped me come to terms with who and what I was...Fleur had come back to me. I was home again, I was finally making something of myself. My brothers were all moving on without me, accomplishing everything in their personal lives that I wanted for years. A woman who loved them and children and it seemed for awhile I was headed down the same path.
Until now. Now I was a useless hybrid of some sort, unable to have children, unable to get past my animalistic tendancies and possessive nature. I couldn't stand watching Fleur model in next to nothing, signing her name on the chests of moronic blokes. She received fanmail, romantic inquiries, perverted offers...she brushed them all off with a snort or roll of her eyes but I couldn't. Before Greyback's attack, I would have been proud of her, smug and triumphant that this gorgeous, sexy woman belonged to me. Gods, now I wanted to literally lock her away so the world couldn't take her from me again. It was impossible and chauvanistic of me, but bloody hell, what else could I do? I had to do something to fix this. I wasn't going to fail again.
I close my eyes and drop my wand to my desk before standing. I pace my office for a moment, trying to clear my mind. I hear a knock at the door and I pause, wondering who would still be here as Rhianne left moments before.
"Yes?" I call out and I'm surprised when Rhianne pokes her head in once more, her dark hair fanning around her face. She appears a bit anxious, pale, but she smiles.
"Bill, Mr. Blackfoot is here to see you."
"Blackfoot?" I ask, unable to diguise the surprise in my voice. I remember Daphne telling me Blackfoot usually never stopped by unless it was to sack someone. Bloody hell, being sacked from my dream job would be the perfect ending to the sorid tale that was quickly becoming my life. "Fine, then."
She disappears and the door shuts. I hear soft voices before silence falls upon the office again. I wait anxiously, curious as to what was taking so long. The candle light in my office seems to flicker and dim but I don't have time to dwell before the door opens once more. He's shadowed, his silouhette tall and towering. I squint and suddenly feel as though I would be safer with my wand in my hands but I have no time before he steps forward into the light, his lips ferally pulled over yellowing teeth.
"Mr. Weasley," he hisses.
My heart seems to tumble into my stomach and I hear a threatening snarl follow the greeting. It only takes a moment before I realize the sound came from me.
"Mr. Blackfoot," Fenrir Greyback continues, bowing dramatically before he straightens and continues to grin at me. "You've been quite an asset to my company, Weasley. Your talents are immeasurable."
"It's you," I reply darkly, my body quivering with the desire to attack and maul the man who put me here.
"Indeed. Are you enjoying your employment?" he asks. His tone is mockingly pleasant, his eyes black and beedy and infuriating me with every second he looks at me. "You're certainly enjoying the wages."
My fists clenching at my side, I watch the man who tried to kill me years ago. I can practically feel the ripped flesh on my face, the blood pooling in my mouth...flashes of that night overwhelm and I find my throat seems to be closing up from the rage and slight fear. "You planned this."
"Nonsense." Greyback waves his hands in dismissal as he walks about my office, casually observing. "I needed a curse breaker for my imports. You're the best, Weasley. I offered you a change from your mundane job at that goblin bank, a chance to challenge you, and compensate you adequately. I daresay you have done both."
"If I had known you were behind all of this I would have spit on the offer. I'm finished."
"Are you?" Greyback asks, drawing my gaze to his before I can turn to grab my things. "Where are you going to find employment that pays you what I pay you? How are you going to explain to your fiancee that you can no longer buy her extravagant things, that the lifestyle you promised her fell through? No, I'm sorry, I forgot who Fleur Delacour was." That feral grin is back and he picks up the framed photo of Fleur from my desk, his eyes raking over her image. "Wicked witch indeed. Soon enough she'll be selling her body to the highest bidder to keep a roof over your heads."
I lunge without thought, stumbling against him and shoving him hard against the wall. The paintings rattle next to his head and he laughs as I grip his robes and slam back him again and again.
"Don't you ever talk about her, don't even think about her," I spit, crazed with fury. Fenrir pushes me back, his long fingers gripping the base of my throat, his equally long fingernails digging into my flesh, into the scars he placed there years before.
"You want to keep her," he hisses, all pretense of pleasantries gone now as he shoves me back until the desk digs into my hips. "You want to be the man of the house, Weasley? Do you think you can do that anywhere else? Sure, leave the country like you did before...she won't stick around and wait for you. Not with handsome, wealthy wizards knocking on her door. You'll be a distant memory."
My fingers wrap around his wrist but he's too strong and I wheeze for breath as he tightens his hold on my throat. "What do you I want?" I manage through my clenched teeth.
"Nothing but your continued employment in my company," Greyback states, more calmly now than before. "You break the spells and curses on my artifacts and you continue to get paid."
My fingers dig into his flesh, drawing blood as my vision begins to blur from the lack of oxygen. "I'm...not... a criminal."
"You've never once asked where these artifacts are going...what they're for." Greyback chuckles, a hoarse, horrid sound that grates along my skin. "I can think of at least five shipments you worked on that would warrant at least five years in Azkaban."
Panic seizes me, but the mere thought that I was manipulated and duped into possibly commiting crimes that could put me away away completely enrages me and I knock Greyback's hand from my throat, ignoring the stinging of the scratches left behind. I wrestle him to the ground, my fist pummeling into his abdomen. He rakes his nails into my flesh as we struggle for dominance and I taste the pool spilling into my mouth from my nose where his fist slams into me.
Greyback flings me off of him and I fly back until I hit the front of my desk. I can feel my ribs crack and I fall forward, panting as I snap my head up and glare at my nemesis while pain wracks through my body. I scramble to my feet as best I can, but he is on me again, choking me until he bends me back, my body slamming against my desk top. Parchment and quills go flying and I grip his wrists again to keep him from tightening his hold. He leans over me, his eyes seemingly blacker now, his sharp teeth bared in a repulsive sneer.
"Now listen to me, Weasley. You don't have many options here. You can continue to help me and become my go to man. You will be compensated beyond your wildest dreams, beyond any paycheck your pathetic brothers could give Ms. Delacour."
I struggle to tell him to kiss my arse, but I can barely breathe, let alone push a word past my lips. I can feel my eye swelling and once more my vision is compromised as his face becomes a watered blur.
"Are you listening?" he yells, choking me violently for a moment until I grimace and jerk beneath his hand. "You'll have everything you ever wanted. Everything. I ask nothing in return but your skills, understand?" He pants, his fingers finally loosening, though he remains strong enough to keep me still. "I also understand your plight in regards to conceiving an heir. A pity, isn't it, that a man your age is unable to spread his seed the way the Gods intended him too? The Weasley family is bound to grow and none of the grandchildren that will fill your dear mum's house will come from your loins."
I stop struggling, my chest heaving as my lungs burn for oxygen. I don't know how Greyback knew, or perhaps being a full werewolf, the knowledge was already instilled in him about his race. But my stomach clenches, more painfully due to the fact that I was sure more than one of my ribs was broken and I wince at the pain.
"I can help you," he whispers, finally capturing my attention as my gaze snaps to his. "I know a Healer who can make you more fertile than any of your pasty red-headed brothers. Your Fleur will be carrying your heir within weeks if you only do as I say. If you don't, well...how long before she meets a respectable wizard, one whose body is not marred with hideous scars...one who can provide her with the baby she so desperately desires."
He slices right into my fears, thrusting them to the surface of my mind until I want to scream. I move my lips but cannot speak. Greyback blinks, as if contemplating, before he releases me.
"How?" I croak, water filling my eyes against the sting.
"You'll find that out soon enough, if you shake my hand and agree to my terms," Greyback explains, straightening and reaching up to wipe the blood from the deep scratch on his cheek. He licks the crimson stain from his fingers and grins at me. "I can offer you much more than Galleons, Weasley. I can offer you everything. Fame, wealth...respect."
I struggle to sit up, my hand reaching for my throat. I rub it deeply, coughing as spitting my own blood onto the carpet.
"How...do I know you're not...lying?" I question, repulsed with myself for even considering his offer.
"I suppose I could give you my word." Greyback chuckles. He lifts out his hand to me. "I would like to think I have already proven to you that I am willing to do what it takes. I have paid you generously, haven't I? You have not been harmed, more or less," he continues, his eyes flickering over my now bloodied state. "I ask nothing more from you than the excellent work you have been doing these last few weeks. If I renege on my promises, well, feel free to leave and never look back. All the money you have made since then will stay yours. And your lovely, soon to be wife, will never know the difference."
I stare at his hand, dark and hairy, his nails yellowed and spotted with blood. A part of me screams as I reach out to take his hand. I should snap his neck and leave him here to rot but I find my palm pressed against his as we shake hands. My teeth clench together, hatred pouring into my body for this man who nearly took my life...and who was now offering me all of the riches I always dreamed of having for practically nothing.
It's too good to be true...you're a daft pr*ck for even thinking he might be trustworthy. Gods, but what else can I do? I have nothing else if I don't have Fleur...I could lose her...lose everything all over again.
"This Healer," I say finally, my throat bruising and sore. "My loyalty is not yours until I know you're not lying about him."
Greyback grins and reaches into his robes before pulling out a small piece of parchment and hands it to me. "You can find him at this address. He's waiting for you." When I look up from the hastily scrawled name and address, Greyback cocks a hairy eyebrow. "Don't get any smart ideas, boy. You help me, I help you. If you take his help and run, well...there will be extremely dire consequences. Not only for you, but for your precious flower as well."
"I wouldn't do anything...to put Fleur in danger," I reply darkly.
Greyback tilts his head thoughtfully at me before he sneers. "No, I don't think you would." He turns and stalks to the door, his long nails tapping against the wood when he pulls it open. "It's a pleasure to have you aboard, Mr. Weasley."
He disappears from the room and leaves me. I crouch over, hissing at the pain in my sides and I crumple the parchment inadvertantly before gingerly placing it in my pocket. I can't move too quickly, but I manage to pull on my cloak and I walk slowly to the Apparition point at the edge of Knockturn Alley. I inhale sharply, struggling to stay calm against the pain. It takes me nearly an hour to get home and when I do, I am grateful that Fleur is in the kitchen, her lovely voice singing a French tune as the scent of beef wafts out into the sitting room. I know I can't let her see me this way so I quietly move into the bathroom and place a strong locking charm on the door. I pull off my shirt and gingerly touch the purpling bruises on my ribs. I take my wand and begin to heal what I can, including the blackening eye and swollen lip.
Fleur's voice jarrs me and I jump, hissing through my teeth before I curse. "I'll be out in a minute," I call.
"Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, I'll be out in a minute."
There is a moment of silence before I hear her soft footsteps fade away on the carpet. I return to trying to repair my ribs but my exhaustion overwhelms and I place my palms on the basin and close my eyes. I know I just made a deal with the devil. Opening my eyes, I stare bleary eyed at myself in the mirror. I didn't know if things were going to get better, or worse for me...all I knew was looking at myself now, I've never felt more ashamed or repulsed in my life.