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.


Take Your Time
We've been so tired, asleep on our feet
Chasing things we'll never keep

June 17th, 1888 — Browne Home, Bartonburg

Her nerves had been a bundle of knots that entire day, and nothing that she'd tried to do had made things any better. Really, she had been visibly nervous (to anyone who was paying attention, at least) since the fog had first arrived in Hogsmeade earlier that week, and things had just done steadily downhill from there. The visit she'd had with Clara this morning over tea at the Painted Lady hadn't done a thing to calm her, either; if anything, she was even more anxious now than she had been after first reading Witch Weekly that morning.

Esther had worked hard throughout her entire marriage to preserve the peace and bliss of marital life, which meant she never brought her problems to her husband, when she could avoid it. She would have rather fretted over something internally for a week than mentioned it, even in passing, to Sampson and risk alarming him over nothing, or thinking her foolish or silly. At this point, however, she really did feel quite desperate, and no matter how many ways she turned the problem over in her mind, she could find no solution to it that did not involve him. She was really strapped for any solution to it at all, really; travel in and out of the fog was restricted, and while they theoretically could have walked out into the shadier parts of town until they were able to apparate, it wasn't as though they had anywhere to go. If Chastity had still been alive, Es would have suggested relocating the family to her estate long ago, but it wasn't as though they could invite themselves over to Mr. Pettigrew's house when their only real connection to him was a tie to his still quite young children. All of her other relatives lived in Hogsmeade or Irvingly. Why couldn't Mr. Ross have been a little wealthier, and had a country house somewhere? Even living with Clara and her husband — undoubtedly uncomfortable for Sampson, even given the years that had passed since his teenage infatuation with her — would have been preferable to staying here.

The lunch dishes had just been cleared away, and the children were off with the nanny, which left Esther alone with her husband for a moment. "I'm worried," she announced, though if he had glanced at her even once throughout the course of the meal this would have been merely a statement of the obvious.

Esther was worried; it was obvious in everything she did through lunch, even in the way she held her fork. Sam waited; if she didn't want to talk about it then she didn't want to talk about it, and in his experience if his wife was upset she would usually wait until things resolved.

This was the exception.

Sam wasn't worried; Sam was annoyed. A lack of magic was bad for business when business was magically enchanted maps, and so there really wasn't much to do except delay orders and hope that things resolved. But he wasn't worried. This was the sort of thing that the Ministry had to concern itself with; not the sort of thing that Sam had to deal with. He just hoped they'd hurry up about it.

"I'm sorry, love," Sam said, his expression all concern. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Did she want to talk about it? Of course she did, or else she wouldn't have brought it up, but she wasn't sure what she was hoping to accomplish by talking about it. It wasn't as though there was anything that Sampson, wonderful as he was, could do to fix it, particularly not now that it was already here, all around them.

"There was an article this morning that said this fog eats magic," she said, voice tense. She wasn't sure whether she really believed that or not, but it was alarming all the same — and no one had offered a different explanation. "And we don't— I mean, no one really knows what it does, do they? The whole world is built on magic. This will change everything," she said, speaking more quickly as her worries increased. "Do you think this will affect the magic that's already been done? What's to happen to — to —" Of course, there were a million things in her life that would have been affected by preexisting charms going wrong, but at the moment she could think of none of them — nothing she could articulate to Sampson, anyway, without sounding silly or absurd. "To the house," she finally seized upon. "If the expansion charm on the upstairs bedroom goes wrong?"

Sam frowned. "I'm worried about that, too," he admitted, because in this confession, being worried made more sense than being annoyed. Except for after the Clara incident, Sam had never confessed to Esther like he was now - he had never had really deep-seated worries after their marriage.

"I think it won't last for very long," Sam said, "And if it does, well - we'll figure it out, right, Es?"

He was very particularly aware that he did not know how to comfort her - he so rarely had to. But she was tense and she was nervous and hearing her outline her worries had produced knots in Sam's stomach. He scooted his chair closer to the floor, ignored the horrible scraping sound, and reached out to squeeze her hand.

Esther was very aware that her husband's answer was, in fact, a non-answer, but there was something comforting about it all the same. Although Sampson couldn't possibly know that the fog would go away, or that it wouldn't become something disastrous before it did, it was nice to hear him say we'll figure it out. Even though they had been married for years now, they had never in her memory faced any sort of Dramatic Crisis as a couple, and it was comforting to remember that she wasn't facing this alone. Sampson was hers just as she was his, and whatever became of the situation with the fog, they were in the middle of it together.

She let him take her hand and moved her own chair closer to his, so that she could lean forward and rest her head against his shoulder. He had always been just the perfect height for that, so that the top of her head fit perfectly below his chin, and it made her feel safe and secure to be tucked up against him so neatly.

"Of course," she agreed. "Of course, you're right. Perhaps I'm just being foolish — maybe nothing will come of it at all."

One could hope, anyway, though her conversation with Clara that morning had planted a seed of doubt in her mind that no amount of marital cuddling was likely to dislodge.
[-] The following 1 user Likes Esther Browne's post:
   August Echelon-Arnost

Reassuring words for Esther never came naturally to Sampson, but the physical did, and always had. (This had, once upon a time, gotten them in trouble.) He tilted her head towards hers, so that his cheek rested against her hair, and tucked his other arm around her shoulder. Esther's body was warm against his, and while Sam had not been the one who needed comforting, he was comforted nonetheless.

"Love you," he said, because he did. Sam closed his eyes, very comfortable. Eyes still closed, he asked, "How were things with your sister this morning?" Out loud she was always your sister, ever since her marriage - never Clara.

It was possible that Mr. Ross had more information on this - maybe Clara had told Esther something?

[-] The following 1 user Likes Sampson Browne's post:
   Esther Browne
Esther remained where she was, pressed against Sam's chest, but stiffened just slightly at his inquiry before she was able to catch herself and check the reaction. It wasn't as though Sampson had asked about Clara for any reason, of course, and it was stupid of her even for a fraction of a second to assume otherwise; certainly it was unreasonable to feel the rush of defensiveness about something as mundane as tea with her sister.

It was hardly as though this was the first time they had talked, between the two of them, about Clara, and inquiries in that direction had never occasioned such a response from her before. The discussion over tea had made her uneasy, she reasoned, and that must be why she was feeling uneasy about renewing the subject now. It wasn't an unreasonable explanation, and if called upon to explain herself to her husband she thought he would agree with it, particularly with how agitated the fog had made her in general.

"She seemed out of sorts," she said, moving her hand to her husband's thigh and letting her fingers move slowly over the seam of his trousers. It was the sort of thing one might do just to have something to do with their hands, while distracted by something else, though no one but a married woman could safely do something like that quite so high up. "I fear the fog may be affecting her more than she's let on."

Sam's interest shifted away from the conversation at hand in time with the slide of his wife's fingers over the seam of his trousers. He shifted in his seat. There was an immediate, if slight, response from his body, and if they were still newlyweds or still just cousins Sam might have been embarrassed by the power she had over him with just a movement of her hand. As it was, well, they were long past that. His arm still hung around his shoulders, but he moved his hand - rather than dangling loosely at her side, he pressed his fingertips gently against Esther's side, so that they were just adjacent to her breast.

Who cared about Clara? Esther clearly couldn't be too concerned if she was doing this, so perhaps he had actually managed to bolster her spirits.

"Oh?" Sam asked, because ostensibly he had brought it up, and thus cared about Clara, "How so?"

Esther didn't really want to talk about Clara, and she did not get the impression from his halfhearted question that Sam did, either (not that this was news; Sampson hadn't really been going out to his way to talk about Clara since the two of them had tied the knot and collectively Moved On). She continued to trail her fingers along the seam of his trousers, and flexed her shoulders out a bit beneath his arm. The rolling motion of her muscles caused his fingers to brush up against the curve of her chest, and she let out the subtlest of little sighs — just to let him know that she had noticed and appreciated the contact.

"I don't know. Just distracted," she said casually. "I don't think we'll meet for tea again until after the fog clears. I'm sure she would prefer to stay in."

Sam nodded, happy to let this conversation - and Clara, in metaphorical or physical presence - drift away. He shifted his hips to press himself further against his fingers. Sam brushed his lips against Esther's temple, and shifted his hips so that  "Do you want to go upstairs?" he asked, just above a whisper, having officially Moved On.  

[-] The following 1 user Likes Sampson Browne's post:
   Esther Browne
Esther smiled into his shoulder at the whispered question. Heading upstairs seemed like the perfect alternative to their current conversation, which was going nowhere, anyway. She had been looking for a distraction from the fog situation, after all, and this seemed to be the ideal one. "Mmm," she mumbled in agreement, inclining her head up to kiss him softly on the lips before rising to lead the way up to the bedroom.

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