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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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"The Prodigal Sister" for Ophelia Devine. Faked deaths, scandal, and schemes!
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.

Cassius Lestrange in Eyes on the Screen

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The Dozen

Complete a twelve-post thread in which each post has exactly twelve words. At least three posts must be your own.


Body Double
May 23rd, 1888 - St. Bart's Hospital, Psychiatric Wing
Three days. Dev had been in the hospital for three days. His mother came to visit him twice, burst into tears both times. His father came with her, and didn't burst into tears, but was very enthusiastic about Dev's return. Neither believed that he never tried to kill himself. Jane came with her children, they discussed nothing serious, and Dev made a puzzle with her sons, none of whom had been born when Dev "died." (Unsurprising. Jane got married in 1880.) With Jane gone, he was back to plotting his jail break - a difficult feat with no wand, no owl, no support, and no one in the country who knew he was alive.

His mother had also brought him a copy of Moby Dick in the hopes that - and this was implied - reading would bring Dev back to himself. Mostly, reading Moby Dick was making Dev want to jump off of a boat to his death. He was strongly considering throwing it out the nearest window - unfortunately, the windows were barred - or at one of the nurses when he saw her.

Miss Porphyria Dempsey, in the flesh, looking a little bit too resplendent for a psychiatric hospital. Dev eyed her through the glass window of his door. It was really, definitely her - and while Miss Dempsey had no reason to be in St. Bart's, this also seemed like something she would do.

Dev cracked open the door and waved at her.

To Say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all” --

deep quote code by Soph ♥
Well, if this wasn't the most The Woman in White shit she had ever bloody seen! She hadn't even gotten to the corridors of "high-risk" patients yet (otherwise known as the actually interesting people), and she had already frozen outside a door, staring into the room (cell?) with a furrowed brow.

Porphyria, despite the reputation for oddity that she enthusiastically cultivated, had never yet considered herself lacking in sanity. She knew ghosts existed - everyone did - but still. She wasn't accustomed to seeing men come back from the dead.

This was the first time a dead person had waved at her. Hmm.

He couldn't be that dead if he'd just opened his door, though. But he also couldn't be who she thought he was if he was sitting in a London hospital. But, also, an eerily coincidental lunatic lookalike of Nathalie's dead fiancé was much less likely to recognise Porphyria than Nathalie's dead fiancé was. She assumed. Supposed lunatics were sometimes very perceptive.

So she waved back, bemused.

Quite sick of bouncing back and forth between equally strange theories already, Porphyria next glanced down the hallway, ignored the slowly-diminishing figure of the nurse who had been supervising her visit to the psychiatric ward, and ducked into the room.  

"...Watson Devereux," she declared with no preamble, waiting to see how he'd react to the name before she decided which one of them was truly the delusional one here.

She came in and she recognized him, which was - well, it was something. Dev nodded fervently. "Yes," he said, "Miss Porphyria Dempsey." Miss Dempsey had always been Nathalie's most eccentric friend, with her morbid poetry and vaguely murderous way of looking at any man who expressed interest in her. But, well, he'd take it.

If he was her, what questions would he have for him?

"I'm not dead," he added, "Or crazy."

He wondered if she was still friends with Nathalie. Probably; they had always been so close. Was he about to find out what Nathalie had been doing, for the past seven years, if he played his cards right? She was probably married now, hopefully to someone who loved her deeply; the thought hurt, but he'd rather that than imagine her unhappy.

To Say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all” --

deep quote code by Soph ♥
He definitely recognised her. The lookalike option was rapidly diminishing in possibility. Pretending to recognise her was not quite the same as knowing her name, now was it?

There was clearly a conspiracy at work here, of some sort. She flopped onto the end of the bed without asking - if she were going to untangle the truth about this, she may as well be comfortable.

Watson Devereaux had anticipated her first couple of questions. Fair enough; they weren't going to have won any awards for creativity. Of course, the latter was something most patients in these places asserted (sometimes Porphyria was even moved to agree with them, though the nurses never did). Still - she would give him the benefit of the doubt for the moment, she supposed.

"See," Porphyria offered eventually, tapping a finger to her cheek thoughtfully, "last I checked, I wasn't either. So this is a little bit unexpected." She didn't bother gesturing around the room; if he was as alert as he seemed, he would understand where she was coming from.

Given her acquaintance with this man lay only through Nathalie, it did not take long for her mind to weave its way to her friend. Namely, did Nathalie know? Either she didn't, and it would come as just as (or more, presumably, since she had been in love with this man or whatever) earth-shattering a revelation to find out he was alive... or Nathalie had privately known what had become of him all this time but hadn't said, and in that case Porphyria would be profoundly offended.

For Nathalie's sake, it better be the former, Porphyria thought darkly. If it was, then her darkness would better be directed at Devereaux. "What are you doing here, then?" She declared. "Have you been here the whole time?"

Porphyria did not look as if she'd be leaving anytime soon; she also seemed to believe him, or at least to put enough stock in not crazy that she had not left yet. Or she thought that he was crazy, that his being crazy was entertaining, and was taking notes.

Dev shook his head. "I was in Canada," he said. "My cousin tried to kill me in the mountains. It didn't take -" he gestured to himself, alive and well "- but I stayed there."

He wanted to ask her about Nathalie. He wanted so badly to know how she was - she'd probably had several of her husband's children, and was running a department at her hospital - but after this many years, he did not think that he even had the right to ask. She wasn't his anymore.

Porphyria would know, though, how she was. He could ask before she left.

To Say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all” --

deep quote code by Soph ♥
The conspiracy was growing and growing.

Porphyria's mouth edged open, jaw dropping with more and more exclamations that she did not bother to make, a flood of questions she couldn't quite formulate aloud against the sheer surprise.

His cousin had tried to kill him! He had survived, somehow! He had... stayed. There. In Canada. For - what had it been? She and Nathalie had only just been finishing school. Years - years and years. Precisely none of that explained how Watson Devereaux had come to be here.  

"Canada?" Porphyria said with a wrinkle of her nose, which may be the least unbelievable - certainly least interesting - aspect of his whole story, but it was what had come out first anyway as she untangled the rest of it mentally. Of course, if he were making up this story, if he were addled in the head, one might still have expected him to have imagined himself somewhere better than Canada.

"Why would you stay?" She amended, eventually, bewildered and intrigued by all of this. "Why are you back now?" (Had he murdered his cousin in bloodthirsty revenge and gotten himself charged with insanity instead? Merlin, she rather hoped so! She'd not met a murderer in these hospitals before, and Watson Devereaux had never used to be this interesting.) "Does Nathalie know all this?" She added swiftly, her tone suddenly hushed, envisioning Nathalie receiving years of secret letters from Canada and wondering why she had never bothered to share them. It'd be Dev murdering his cousin, wouldn't it? That might've been a step too far for Nathalie. Vengeance was not her colour.

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