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Fern-hunting parties became popular, allowing young women to get outside in a seemingly innocuous pursuit with less rigid oversight and chaperoning than they saw in parlors and drawing rooms. They may have even had the occasional romantic meetup with a similarly fern-impassioned beau. — Bree


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Now that he had walked up to them, he couldn't exactly whirl around and get going. That would be rude. And was not, presumably, how straight men seduced their future wives.

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want to touch the other side
#1
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May 8, 1888 — Edge of Bartonburg South

He was getting rather old to do this at 30, Gregory reflected as began to gather the remaining art supplies on the bench where he had been sketching for the past half-hour, especially when he could very much pay others to do the gruntwork for him. Even so, however, every single tedious step of the mapmaking process–note-taking, initial sketches, figuring measurements and the scale used, countless failed drafts–held at least some charm for him. Perhaps some would raise their eyebrows at the amount of effort a gentleman of leisure threw into his hobby; his first instinct was to reply that the work, and especially the reward at the end, was leisure.

Regardless of his passion, though, the man was not particularly bold in his choice of locations to map; there was a reason that he had taken so long to get to this part of Hogsmeade, where the semi-acceptable south of Bartonburg ended and Pennyworth began. Who knew what sort of things lay beyond the turn of Penny Lane–and, more importantly, who was watching him?

Nevertheless, the man was here now, spurred on mostly by a particularly fervent desire to get away from Phoebe today. He wasn’t daft enough to think of himself as the next Mercator–his practical knowledge was but amateur–and he honestly liked it that way; from the rare times he bothered to notice those who worked for a living, he had seen that the foundation of their situation on receiving a wage sapped a significant amount of enjoyment from whatever they did. He wasn't obligated to stay.

So why was he still here?
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The proceeds of May Day were to be fed, as usual, back into the community, but today Jude had ventured further afield from London. He'd been visiting a family in Pennyworth - had met the mother and children at the Diagon Alley festivities last week - but the woman's husband was in poor health. The man had been indisposed for long enough that not only were the hospital bills stacking up, but he'd been dismissed from his job and, without those wages, the family were now on the verge of being thrown out by their landlord.

Pennyworth was progress, Jude had once hoped, and not just a superficial manifesto for the Ministry's commitment to the working classes. The streets were somewhat safer than the rest of the slums (of course, they would be, the ones within view of Bartonburg and the Hogsmeade shops), but only a pitiful proportion of the slums' residency had been able to afford to move here in the first place - this family would soon be forced out - and next to nothing had been done to improve the lot of the rest of the slums. It was a disgrace.

Jude wished he might have been more help, but he quitted the house a while later and paused on the front step again to re-tie his shoelaces. Brushing a strand of hair out of his face, his gaze alighted on a bench just across the street, and soon turned to an outright stare as he straightened up. The man had been sat at that bench earlier, when the man's wife had spoken to Jude on the front step, out of her husband's earshot; he was still there, sketching. This would have been, on the whole, much less remarkable if the man hadn't been evidently well-dressed and well-off, his face only vaguely familiar at best but one that gave Jude the knee-jerk reaction that he was the sort Jude's family might have known, once upon a time.

Jude frowned at him, wondering if he'd ever look up from his idle drawing. He ought to have stuck to Padmore Park, if he had nothing of more importance to do with his days than - art, or whatever he was doing; Pennyworth was not some kind of public gardens for the upper classes to stroll around in. Imagine the children of the house he'd just left, having to look across and see some rich stranger peering across their street like they were aliens, or lived in a zoo.

Perhaps his assumptions were wrong, Jude considered briefly, but the man's presence still felt off, unpleasant in his mouth. He'd have to pass by the bench to leave - perhaps he should say something, then - but as he finally broke into step that way, it was with gritted teeth.    



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If this was the modern day, and if Gregory was one for dramatic gestures no matter the time period, the sight of Jude walking towards him would have elicited a muttered ‘oh crap’ and a frenzy of panicked movement similar to Key and Peele’s at the beginning of the music video for the song White and Nerdy. As it stood, though, he simply did all of that in his head instead of outwardly. Unlike Key and Peele, however, he was not going to make a successful escape that easily, for at that moment a summer breeze chose to pass by and roll his favorite hard pencil off the bench and down the street.

He hesitated for a few moments before, with short, quick steps, he followed, hoping he wouldn’t look like a fool and that the other man would turn, or apparate, or go literally anywhere other than straight towards him.

(One of those things, at least, did not become the case.)

“Well, excuse–excuse me,” he murmured in apology as he bent down to pick up the object that had gotten him into this sudden mess–why did he even decide to chase it down when he could have just bought a new one? Regardless, he was here now, and there was something familiar about the slightly younger man he had been forced to approach. The shabbiness of his clothes, and the direction from whence he had come, made it obvious he wasn’t part of his current peerage, but perhaps in the past…?
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Jude spotted the pencil rolling away from the bench, surveyed the man as he hurried after it, heading his way. He still couldn’t place the man by his face - he was not one of the Slytherins Jude had been forced into knowing at school - but he could not be that much older, if he was older at all.

But there was little to contradict his assumptions teeming in his brain about the man and his possible presence here, lurking on the streets of Pennyworth. (It would only have looked worse for him if he had been in the worse-off areas of the Slums at night.) He could not merely be lost, either, since Hogsmeade was not that big, and he had been sitting on that bench for far too long.

The only hesitation Jude had about this situation being somehow off was the man’s mumbled apology and fumbling fingers. But his nervousness must be shiftiness at having been seen here, Jude considered, and in one fluid motion he leant down and plucked up the pencil before the man could grasp it.

He straightened up and moved to hold it out and hand it back - but halted before he did, his expression serious. “You don’t live around here, do you?” Jude questioned, his brow creased.




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