Did you know?

The Language of the Flowers was a popular method to express feelings where words might be improper, but did you know other means of doing so? Some ladies used their parasols, as well as their fans, gloves, and hankies to flirt with a gentleman (or alternatively, tell them to shove it!). — Bree

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Ester Montgomery for Thomas Montgomery. The one that got away (with the pornographer...)
This boy, then. He wasn't new. Wasn't one of the worst people in the common room, those rotten rich boys - like Mr. Jailkeeper - who could not fathom a world beyond their own farts. Was a good working class lad, so he'd heard. Had a bit of a weird looking face, and a bit of a weird thing for preaching. Still.

Aubrey Davis in The Under-Sofa

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Post at least once with the same character every day for a month.


Things That Go Bump In The Night
His look said everything; she was caught. She shifted her weight uncomfortably and glanced away from him, obviously uncomfortable. She didn't want to answer when he asked how long since she'd been turned, but there wasn't any way to avoid the question, and it wouldn't do her any good to lie. If this was just a passing conversation, perhaps she could skate through on bravado alone, but if she intended to talk to this person in the future — if she developed any sort of relationship with him, good, bad, or indifferent — he would figure her out sooner or later.

It isn't as though you have to be a hundred before you can have anything useful to say, she told herself, but she knew all the same that revealing this particular detail of her past would cut her credibility down to practically nothing. It was a familiar feeling, from her human life. For most of her life her role as little sister had defined the contributions she could make to conversations at the dinner table, the opinions she was permitted to have, the views she was allowed to express. It was so easy for her older brothers to dismiss her — particularly when Darcy was the Minister, and she was still just a haughty teenage girl.

"I was turned in 1883," she said levelly, looking at him again. She side-stepped the newborn babe comment, and hoped he wouldn't repeat it. She realized revealing her age left many of the other details of her past within easy grasp, if he had been listening in on the news in the past few years and cared to remember any of the details; her disappearance had caused quite the sensation, after all, due to her family position. Rather than shirking from the chance at being outed, however, Lyra embraced it; being recognized as the sister of the former Minister might be a way to restore some of the credibility she'd lost by revealing her age. To that end, she added as an additional clue, "Not far from here."

It occurred to her only after the words had left her mouth that it was entirely possible that the vampire who attacked her had lived here — it made far more sense, at any rate, than supposing some foreign vampire might be lurking in the woods within a few miles of the caverns, hunting humans whilst going undetected by his nearby neighbors. She didn't know anything about her attacker, since the incident had hardly been preceded by a tea party. It occurred to her, with a sudden chill, that it was possible Ishmael did. Oh, Merlin, what had she gotten herself into?

because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me — the Carriage held but just Ourselves — and Immortality.
He grinned when she suddenly avoided his eyes, the grin growing more patronising by the second and the stretch of the silence. If she had had a hundred years on her, or even fifty, it'd have been nothing to sniff at, but anything more than he'd guessed, and she would have said it without qualm.

1883, she admitted at last, no less controlled than before. Only five years then! Barely a blink of an eye. It was the second confession that interested him more - perhaps the first thing that had truly thrown him off about her - because he had been around in Britain at the time. Half here, and half in London, as was his life still, but... Lyra had been turned right under his nose. Ishmael couldn't pretend any memory of it was distinct in his mind - he was certain he would have remembered her if she had visited the caverns properly then - since he was often too embroiled in his own affairs to stop and care, but this meant that he could very well find out much more about her and about then, if he so chose. Unearthing copies of the Prophet or other such things from five years ago was hardly even digging!

"Hmm," Ishmael said, more intrigued than ever, if trying not to show it. "Do you know who did it? Who turned you?" Someone he knew? Someone still here? Whoever it had been, Ishmael was sure he'd remember if the culprit had gone public, if they'd gotten caught for it - whether that meant prosecution by the Ministry or merely outed among them here. His memory was perhaps not the sharpest, but things like that usually stuck.

Not that he could remember anything about the vampire who'd turned him, another lifetime ago in New York. Everything before the attack was smudged and muted in his mind, billowing confusion so easily shut out by the force of the bloodlust that had followed. But everyone was different, every set of circumstances different - perhaps she knew, would encounter the vampire responsible here after all.

Lyra was tense even before he asked the question. She had been expecting it, after all, or something like it, so there was nothing changed when the actual words were spoken. It seemed to her that her answer hardly mattered, either. Ishmael either knew the vampire who had attacked her, or he didn't; he would probably figure out which regardless of what she said. How many vampires had suddenly disappeared from the caverns in 1883? Not, she would assume, a great number. She couldn't even guess what her murderer's relationship to Ishmael had been, though, so it was impossible to gauge what his reaction would be. Would he be angry at her? And if he was, what would he do?

There was no avoiding it, though. He'd figure it out whether she answered or not, so there was nothing to lose by telling him what she knew. "I don't," she admitted. "But I don't think he meant to. Turn me. He's... dead now."

Dead now, had been dead before, had been dead for who knew how long. It was a tricky thing to find vocabulary for, when a vampire reached the end of their existence.

because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me — the Carriage held but just Ourselves — and Immortality.
So she didn't know.

Not that it should matter. He wasn't sure whether it was better or not, to know. It didn't change anything, after all, couldn't change what they had become. Was it easier to accept, not knowing the identity of who had turned you? Ishmael didn't know the identity of the vampire back in New York - couldn't even be sure of what they looked like, or even their gender - but he was quite sure they hadn't lingered long after the attack, hadn't decided to introduce themselves or ease him in with a bit of guidance or a hand. In all honesty, they might well be dead by now. They might have been dead by the next day, for all he knew.

(He had loitered a little longer than that, when he had turned the pretty Portuguese girl a few years later. Maybe because he'd been fond of her, maybe because it had been his first conscious experience of the process of transformation at all, and he'd been keen to unpick how it worked, to work out what precisely he had gone through. What had he learnt? Well. Either Ishmael had underestimated the power of that first bloodthirst, or he had overestimated Azazel's sanity - whichever it had been, he had soon realised his mistake, and, since he had not been prepared to assume responsibility for that, Ishmael had done what the vampire in New York had done at his side, and scarpered.)

Perhaps he would have cared more about knowing, if he had come to terms with this existence any less. If there had been someone to whom he might have directed the anger, the bitterness, the fear - well, perhaps he would have felt more of those at his fate. Maybe having no one had helped in letting him let it go.

Maybe that was just something he had been able to do, regardless. Because his life had been little enough, before. Because he was a practical person, had a healthy instinct for self-preservation and enough of an aspiration to imperviousness to see him through. Because this life, though not ideal, wasn't the worst thing in the world. Because, perhaps, he had feared death that little bit more.

Lyra's attacker was dead though, she said. So if she were harbouring any bitterness about her fate (and, although all the details of her prior existence hadn't yet sharpened into perfect perception in his head, Ishmael had the instinct that she had inevitably been someone with more to lose), it was wasted feeling, would lead to no confrontations here. It would be more awkward, he suspected - after five years or a hundred and fifty - to have to reunite with one's maker on such altered ground.

He could work it out well enough, from what she said, now. Congregate as they might on the margins of magical society as they did, there had never been many vampires here. (They were more in number than merely those here, of course, but Ishmael never would deign to pretend vampires were the sort who could settle, not really. They were solitary wanderers if they were anything; he might not be wandering much for the moment himself, but he was certain it was the life that suited them best.)

He considered telling her something, doling out some scrap of information about her "killer" (as it were) to satisfy any curiosity that she might have. But, again, the potential bitterness attached to the whole affair: it was a feeling better not risked being awakened. Besides, Ishmael had no intention of making excuses for people who were dead. He didn't make a habit of taking responsibility for his own mistakes, let alone anyone else's. So: "Ah," was all he said, a thoughtful hum.

"Well, never mind that," he said in the next moment, mildly regretting leading her down that line of conversation - how gloomy, indeed! and he the self-appointed welcome party to this life! - "not much sense in looking back." He grinned at her again, with a quirk of his eyebrows. Looking forward was the best way to be, and dwelling would help no one. This was to be Lyra's new life, after all, and, thus far at least, Ishmael was inclined towards seeing himself in it. New company was not to be thrown away so fast - and, at any rate, the Forest did not much allow for them to be picky about their closest neighbours. Speaking of neighbours -

Ishmael straightened up from his position by the fire. "What we should do, you know, is find you somewhere to stay." To live - or close enough - if Lyra hadn't been scared off, if she did become more than an ephemeral visitor. "I can show you an empty cavern or two, if you like."

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