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First names were most often used by childhood or school friends. If the friendship was made after school age, first names would only really be used by women. Men were far more likely to refer to their friends by their surnames, a mark of familiarity. — Documentation


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Emilia Wright for Jude Wright. Casually alienating offspring since 18882.
Separating was also not a great idea, though they weren't doing great at staying together anyway. If she were to volunteer to be the human sacrifice.. well... Hogsmeade had plenty of debutantes anyway...

Barnabas Skeeter in CYOA: Group D


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Well-Traveled

Complete threads set in ten different forum locations. Threads must have at least ten posts, and three must be your own. Character accounts cannot be combined.

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Solitaire
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I see buildings and bars from the window
And I listen to the wind blow
I see people and cars covered in gold
And I'm happy to be on my own
5th June, 1888— Some Random Dinner Party
Any goodwill she had felt towards her parents in dragging her along to what had been sold, to her, as a small gathering of their poet friends and some other writers and intellectuals, had abruptly dissipated over dinner. There were interesting sorts here, to be sure, but it had been just her luck to be seated between two of the most tedious saps on the planet (one so old he had whiskers growing out of his ears and equally wizened opinions of everything, the other young but so timorous he had failed to string a single intelligent sentence together). In short, Porphyria had never been so ready to drown herself face first in her soup.

It had made the rest of the guests seem a hundred times more interesting in comparison, but try as she might to strain her ears to overhear small-talk about politics, the museum, or academia, or, god forbid, actual literature, the more hopeful conversations happening around her had, for the most part, passed her by.

The party had moved into the large drawing room after the meal, Porphyria rolling her eyes through some pleasant chatter with a group of young ladies - her supposed compatriots in society - and a severe encounter with a bachelor who had tried to provoke her into dancing (a corner of dancing had struck up at one end of the room), or at least to play the piano.

She had considered the evening a bust at some point before then, but that was the moment at which was exchanged the silent, well-worn conversation of Porphyria spelling out please can I leave now in a look and her mother assuring her just another half-hour in return. So, in anticipation of that, she picked out a promising place to while away the end of the party. Preferably as far away from the dancing as possible.

"The man from the museum!" Porphyria pronounced, nodding in greeting at the man as she flounced into the empty chair clustered beside him. She didn't know him well at all, but she was not unfamiliar with the magical museum, and her father had talked to him at the table earlier and not looked like he was extremely obnoxious, so. (Besides, he was a recent widower, and thus no threat the rest of her evening as another arrogant young bachelor might have been.) She contemplated lapsing into silence - she was not worried about being rude - but she did also wonder whether she could possibly get one half-decent conversation out of the evening. "No dancing for you?" She said, with a slight snort, hoping she hadn't misjudged his distance from the centre of the gathering being a willing one.


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While the Dempseys were the sort of eccentric intellectuals that Thaddeus enjoyed most, he could hardly say the same about a few of their dinner guests. His status as a widower (and one just out of the full year of mourning no less!) had seen him trapped between two eligible ladies: a snaggle-toothed, older woman who prattled on and on about some experimental tincture for the treatment of boils, and a younger woman who spent the entire dinner slurping her soup noisily in between questions about the museum exhibits.

It was for the best that the party had moved into the large drawing room -- Thaddeus could hear her incessant slurping even now, and his eye twitched at the thought. Frowning, he blinked and rubbed at his eye before spotting a tray of drinks. I think a few of these will be in order, he thought gloomily as he regarded the gin in his glass. Thank goodness that Lady Boils had not seen fit to follow him about the room, or else he might have had to beat a hasty retreat.

He had just located the ideal spot (comfy armchair, far corner of the room but close enough to not appear entirely antisocial) and settled in to enjoy his drink when one of his hosts' children caught him unaware. Thaddeus started a little, awkwardly making to get to his feet to properly greet her but finding that she was too fast; settling once again into his seat, he regarded the elder Miss Dempsey appraisingly.

"Hardly," Thaddeus pronounced dryly, nodding slightly at his polished shoes. "I've two left feet." His mouth quirked up in a wry smile, the only indication of his blatant lie--his tone was entirely deadpan. "What is your excuse, Miss Dempsey?"

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Two left feet, he said: whether it was true or not, she felt it a fortunate response. Not only did that mean he would not make a halfhearted attempt to make her dance, it also meant he was at least fractionally self-aware, which was more than could be said of most men. Too many of them felt pressed to pretend they were good at everything - like life was some constant battle of accomplishments and prowess, and they had to be the best or face failure. Life was a battle, to be sure, but a battle of wills, and one that few people seemed inclined to let her play.

"I should like to have two left feet," she answered primly, but returned the quirk of his smile briefly with her own. It would make descending down the wall of ivy from her room as she'd used to do a little more difficult, but it was a grand excuse against dancing. "My excuse is that I have already suffered enough this evening, and am hardly enough of a masochist to subject myself to more." She let her head loll back dramatically in her chair, as though she had endured worlds of pain in what, ostensibly, had been supposed to be a pleasant evening. (For someone who liked to spend time mediating on the macabre and the gruesome, it was funny how often people forgot that tedium was somehow a worse torture than most.)

She straightened up, after a moment, and added: "I'm also not supposed to be offending any more guests with my bad manners tonight, so." Her mother could make instructions like that quite clear through utter silence. Porphyria wasn't entirely sure talking to Mr. Davies of the museum was fulfilling her end of that bargain - she had already aired her grievances against the evening of which he was a guest, himself - but her shrug of apology to him now was at best halfhearted: she supposed it was much too late to truly change the error of her ways.


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Miss Dempsey was apparently many things, but prim and proper she was not. Thaddeus knew enough about her family to know that she had inherited the same propensity for eccentricity, although it manifested in her poetry and her dogged pursuit of spinsterhood. But truthfully, Thaddeus found it refreshing, as he had disliked the eligible bachelorhood stage of his life the first time, and was certainly not enthused about having to be on his best behavior around unmarried ladies the second time around.

At least with Miss Dempsey, there was no doubt that she was entirely uninterested in marriage, and therefore he could be less unbearably proper around her. He hid his smile at her grandiose claims of suffering by taking a sip of his gin. "But not offending guests is decidedly less enjoyable…" Even more enjoyable if they did not know that you were offending them, as with Lady Boils.

"Far be it from me to report to your dear mama about your deportment," he said, shrugging. "I daresay that anyone who would do that has no idea about the tense relationship between mothers and daughters." His wife had often complained about her overbearing mother; she had been extremely unhappy that their engagement had been extended because of the Laughing Plague, as she had been trapped even longer under her mother's thumb.

"However, now that you have so graciously come to keep me company, I must ask you how your work is going. Do you have any new projects that you are working on?"



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"Mmhmm," she said, nodding emphatically and smirking at his first deadpan remark, pleased to have company that would at least play along, if his agreement weren't sincere. (It might be, though. One did not work at a museum - specialise in the ancient and the obsolete - for valuing tact over truth, or necessarily of any overwhelming personableness of nature: the voices of the dead, at least, were not usually as shrill as most found in society.)

Davies was certainly indulging her, not snitching on her to her mother - not that she'd have let it go if he had, of course, she didn't abide by men sticking their noses in other people's business like that - but his general amiableness meant that she didn't mind answering his next question.

Not that she ever minded talking about poetry, of course. "Oh, must you?" She asked in jest, regardless - or perhaps because she wished she had a better answer. "I have projects, of course I do," (her tone now more sincere), "but I haven't felt the spark of life in much of it, in recent weeks." She had managed a piece she liked, here and there, but nothing she was in the midst of felt like it had any real arc or theme to it, any rhyme or reason that she might amass into some stunning, radical new anthology. "I believe I am in need of some new inspiration; I only pray this summer might deliver it." (Perhaps it was an annual downturn, for her: when all her friends perked up about the oncoming season, and she mourned for winter.)

"Or even the museum," Porphyria said with a grin. "Perhaps I ought to ask you about your projects."



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It was just like an academic to jest about being reluctant to talk about their projects, Thaddeus mused. There were two sorts of people: those who understood the importance of his work and whom he did not mind speaking to, and those who only asked about his work as a mere formality. Although Miss Dempsey was young, she did not seem the sort to do anything for formality's sake -- more like, doing the exact opposite of what was formal.

It was because of this sense of shared academic kinship that Thaddeus rolled his eyes at her, grinning back. Typically he was more reserved with those he hardly knew, but Miss Dempsey was so delightfully frank and informal that it was an inspiration, and Thaddeus figured that she knew what it was like to be frustrated with one's work. "I think you are not the only one in need of inspiration, Miss Dempsey. Suffice it to say that I have been doing much reading on Ancient Egyptian burial rites and the magic associated with it, but nothing truly inspirational has come of it."

"Truly, I have a notebook that is crammed full of notes, but no true vision to tie it all together -- I lack the focal theme to tie it all together, and am struggling to develop a theme that would attract visitors to the museum." He lifted a shoulder in a shrug. "One must appeal to the general public; what would interest you or myself is perhaps a little too niche for everyone else, unfortunately."


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Porphyria's features pulled into a thoughtful expression when Mr. Davies explained his own predicament. Apparently she was not the only one lacking inspiration, then! Nor, however, was she a particular expert on the ancient world - she took what she liked of it, certainly, for her poetry; anything but the forms, or neoclassical pedantries! - so she wasn't entirely convinced she had any useful counsel for him.

(Burials sounded rather enticing a topic to her, though. It was what the ancient world seemed best at, from all her visits to the museum and adventures down the wormholes of any Weird Books she came across: death. And gore. Curses, and mysticism, cults and religion. And weapons. There were some bloody good weapons about.)

"More's the pity!" Porphyria remarked at his predicament, shaking her head vigorously. Too niche! That was a nice way of saying the general public lacked the patience, or the intellect, or simply the taste - whatever it was, it was a right shame. Because, "But why must the Common Interests always be so distressingly dull?" The mainstream always had to be so - so safe. So conservative. "I shudder to think! The whole museum might be filled to the brim with geometric pottery so that the young ladies can stroll about sketching their pretty designs, as though they can understand no else," she exclaimed, affecting a sarcastic simpering tone. Not that the museum didn't have pottery - not that even pottery could make a half-decent poem, Keats had proven that - but you know. They probably had to hide away most of the vulgar scenes; Phyri was surprised society could stand to see some of the statues at all.

But Ancient Egypt had such possibilities. "I suppose it would be too much," she said, innocently, "to offer the general public their very own chance to experience such circumstances of burial." Because of course that was what people went to museums for, to be propelled into harrowing, claustrophobic experiences of being buried alive in a granite sarcophagus, built up in a mound of bricks?


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The question of dullness was something that had crossed Thaddeus's mind before. What made something like Arithmancy or Ancient Runes dull? Didn't people see the beauty in decoding ancient texts, the fun in solving a complex puzzle? He laughed, full-throated and genuinely, at her simpering tone. "It is more than a little inaccurate, I think. Why, some of the most inventive and formidable people I know are women!" His late wife had been just that type of intellectually intimidating that made her unattractive to most men, after all. He sensed that Miss Dempsey was the same, but perhaps a bit more likely to flout Society's rules than Josephine had ever been.

Thaddeus cocked his head slightly to the right and watched Miss Dempsey appraisingly over the rim of his glass. "You mean, an exhibit that is truly interactive?" It was like a dam bursting--ideas began to come forth, and Thaddeus's hands itched for a quill to write them down. "Miss Dempsey, you are the most intelligent of all. What an idea!" He finished off his gin and handed the glass off to one of the staff, before digging through his pockets for a small memo book and a pencil.

He began to sketch a rough outline of a burial scene, a mummified body taking shape on a table with a high-priest of Anubis presiding. He was not the worst artist, having spent much time practicing the sketching of various artifacts, but no prize-winning artist either. "It might be possible to stage the burial process and Charm the models to move, like Muggle automata." He turned the notepad to her, leaning close to point at the page with his pencil. "The priest would officiate, and perhaps it would be possible to Charm bandages to wrap around the body automatically." Thaddeus smiled at Miss Dempsey, tacking on, "It would certainly be a unique experience, if it could be carried out."


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