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As the World Falls Down
September 9th, 1888 - Padmore Park docks

It wasn't unusual for her to spend part of her Sunday at the park if she could, Elsie didn't have much to occupy her time these days outside of work. Oh how she wished she worked today. Today she had to make a concentrated effort to simply be by herself and wallow. It was childish and she knew that; she'd done this to herself, but that didn't make it any easier. Nearly six months later and it still stung like it was yesterday.

She should have been up early in the kitchen helping Cook to bake something, wrapping it up and sending it off. That was how she'd spent every September ninth since graduating. Before that she just asked a house elf at school to help her out. For the first time in seven years there was no package to wrap up, nothing to bake, no reason to try and celebrate and it hurt. No amount of telling herself she'd done the right thing, that this was easier, better for him, none of it had sunk in. She still felt guilty and like she'd made a huge mistake, but that teeny tiny part of her that housed her self-preservation was like a lock that she'd hidden the key for. One turn of the key and everything would come undone. So far she'd only broken down once and written, when she'd learned about the expedition, but maybe that had been another selfish move. Elsie would have never forgiven herself if something had happened to him; he had to know she still cared, right? It had turned out fine in the end, but it had upset her more than she was willing to admit.

There was an early morning mist sitting atop the water and she couldn't even see much, but it was nothing like the fog of the summer. Elsie stood on the end of the dock that moored the boats of Padmore Park, Dora sitting very patiently beside her watching the ducks on the pond. The crisp air of the early morning had her pulling the rich blue shawl around her shoulders a little tighter though she reached down to pet her pup's head idly. On a sigh, Elsie wasn't even sure what she was doing here exactly, but she wouldn't have been able to sit at home and simmer in peace, so her only option was to get out and take a walk. It helped to soothe the restlessness in her limbs, but nowhere else. At this point she didn't know if there would ever be a way to ease the perpetual dull ache in her chest, she'd just kind of come to accept it.

Els had no real idea of how much time she'd stood on the end of the dock just staring out over the water, but by the time she even thought about heading home, the mist was evaporating and the sun well and truly shining. Dora had waited patiently the entire time, so quiet and focused, that Elsie would have forgotten the pup was there if it weren't for her gentle pressure leaning against Elsie's skirts. "Come on lovey, want to go play fetch for a few minutes?" The mutt's ears perked up at the mention of fetch and the pair meandered back down the dock. Els let Dora off her lead to let the pup find herself a stick for their game. She watched with a sad sort of bemused smile on her lips as Dora sniffed one out but didn't immediately bring it back to Elsie to be thrown. "Dora?" She called softly, finding her pup had been distracted by another guest in the park.

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With the fog gone Percy had resumed his normal walks, as he was wont to do, a fact for which Lily seemed most grateful for. His dog didn't seem to mind that Percy now walked at a slower pace or that his cane clumped along with them, she was just happy to be outside. Percy had to admit he was happy to be outside too, and in air that smelled perfectly normal.

Typically he took Lily out in the evenings, but with Quin out if the house it was almost too quiet and Percy found himself restless. He had woken much too early in the morning to head to work and as such had decided that the best thing to do was stretch his legs.

They had just neared the Padmore Park Pond when a pup came scampering out of nowhere, Lily yapped happily, her small frame wagging with her tail at the site of a new friend. She sniffed the pup as Percy leaned down, using his cane to hold him. "Why hello there, where's your owner?" He asked as he gently pet the puppy's soft fur.

Wonderful set is a work of art from Lynn!
Elsie rounded a little bend in the scenery to find Dora making friends with another dog, and presumably its owner, was petting Dora. From where sure stood tough, he was unfamiliar to her.  Even her family pet was better at making friends than she was apparently. Then again, she supposed she wasn't surprised.

It was then that a familiar voice reached her ears and Elsie at least had to smile slightly at her luck. At least if she was going to run into somebody, it was nice that she knew them. Though now Elsie was starting to wonder just how often she was going to run into Mr. Adlard when she was feeling lousy in some way or another.

Dora finally noticed her, whole body wagging in delight at the extra attention. She gave one gleeful bark before bounding back toward Elsie. Chuckling, Elsie bent to scratch her dog behind the ears. "Hello, She managed softly, trying not to let her emotions into her voice.

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The dog stood for a moment later before returning into the trees where its owner was, a familiar voice greeting him as he noticed just who the owner was. “Good morning Miss Beauregard.” Percy smiled warmly at her as he doffed his hat in greeting. “Nice dog you have there.” He nodded at the dog, Lily whined at the distance between the dog she had been smelling and them. Percy strolled forward.

Set against the verdant backdrop of the park, Miss Beauregard didn’t seem as pallid as their first meeting, but more wan than she had only a few weeks ago. It almost looked as if she hadn’t been sleeping. Not that it was truly Percy’s business, but somewhere since they’re first meeting he had begun to worry for her - likely because of the illness he had originally witnessed. “It’s a bit early for a walk, isn’t it?” He asked gently, really not worried about the walk but rather hoping she might answer in such a way that he could frame his concerns as unfounded.

Wonderful set is a work of art from Lynn!
"Mr. Adlard, lovely to see you again." Elsie passed him a small smile. "Thank you. This is Dora, she's really very sweet, we're lucky to have her." Dora had been a stray Elsie had picked up one Hogsmeade weekend... for her birthday. Thinking about it left her breathless, but she tried to push on and take it in stride. In truth they had gotten lucky, she was a very docile, gentle dog and put up with quite a bit from Owen when he was younger.

She hadn't missed his comment about the time of day, but Els had always been an early riser, so this wasn't out of the ordinary for her, though she "Oh, this is nothing new for me. Always up early myself." Normally she would have just stayed in bed and read a book, but today she'd just been far too restless to just sit there. She would have just spiraled downward sitting there by herself. Elsie wasn't so sure her walk had done her much good, but at least she'd found a welcome distraction.

"And who's this?" She smiled at his pup, bending down to offer and hand in greeting.

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She seems a delight.” Percy agreed with a nod toward Dora. Lily strained forward again to smell Dora, whining as if annoyed she’d been left out of the conversation. “This is Lily.” He explained as the king charles spaniel brushed up against Miss Beauregard’s skirts in an attempt for attention. Pitching is voice a bit lower as if Lily might hear and understand he admitted, “She’s a bit spoiled.” Then he echoed Miss Beauregard's sentiments, “But really I’m quite lucky for her company.” After all it had been just the two of them for quite a while.

He nodded as she brushed off his concern, but it did little to comfort him. Odd wasn’t it, to need to be comforted about someone he’d only met a handful of times. But he supposed he would feel that way for any of his friends or his sisters. “I’m an early riser myself.” Percy admitted, “Although I never seem to find time for walks in the morning.” He shrugged as if he weren’t trying to hint that she was out alone and her was concerned for her situation. “If I knew I’d run into such excellent company, I might just change my ways.” He added, a bit boldly for Percy, but he felt that the friendship that had formed might keep Miss Beauregard from thinking him too bold.

Wonderful set is a work of art from Lynn!
Elsie brushed her fingers gently over Lily's head, smiling down at the spaniel warmly. Dora looked on, unperturbed, but likely wondering why they hadn't gone back to fetch now that the meet and greet was mostly over. "I must admit, I'm not usually out this early, we were just a bit... restless this morning." That was an understatement if she'd ever made one, but it wasn't something she could readily admit the cause to. Though she was usually awake at this hour, it wasn't as if she had to be anywhere very early, so she usually took her time puttering around her room or reading until she was summoned for breakfast.

Not to mention the weather likely wouldn't favor them much longer. Elsie had never done well with the cold. Another month or so and her outside time would become increasingly limited. She did still like the crispness of autumn, the renewal it brought. Perhaps it would be alright this year. "We were just about to go play some fetch, if you'd like to join us?" She offered, thinking selfishly, that she could use the distraction of some company, a way to keep her mind off what she would normally be doing on this day on any other year, though likely wouldn't be doing ever again... Yes, she could use the company.

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Fair enough, Percy knew not to pry into a young lady's intentions or thoughts. Lissy would skin him if he did. But it didn't stop his worry over Elsie. Instead he gave her a sympathetic smile and allowed the conversation to move on with a smile nod and 'ah'.

"Certainly. I'd be enjoy that." Percy gave her a kind smile and then looked down at Lily, "And Lily will be thrilled." Lily wagged her tail again and yapped as if she knew what they were talking about. Noting the stick near by Percy picked it up and handed it to Elsie. "If you'd like to do the honors?" He let go of Lily's leash so she might be able to better run and play with her new friend.

Wonderful set is a work of art from Lynn!
Elsie felt a little inkling of guilt that she couldn't quite dispel at monopolizing Mr. Adlard's time this morning, but she needed the distraction. Plus she did enjoy his company. At the offer to toss the stick, Elsie pulled her wand from her pocket and with a quick spell, levitated the stick up and away from them for a decent distance.

Watching the dogs take off in chase, Elsie started following in the same direction, just a little ways, to get into a clearer space. "I can't throw it far enough for it to be fun for Dora." Elsie admitted with a sheepish shrug. "She's really enjoys the run though. I think she has some kind of herding dog in her, we're not really sure, she was a rescue." Dora's breed was entirely unknown to them, a street mutt she'd brought home on a whim and begged her mother to let her keep as a birthday present. Boy did she like to run when given the chance though. And she was smart as a whip.

Using her legs to her advantage, Dora had gotten there first, carrying the stick back with a merry little jaunt and sat for it to be thrown again. "Your turn to do the honors." Elsie passed Mr. Adlard a warm smile and bid Dora to hand the stick over nicely.

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Miss Beauregard flew the stick with magic and at her admission a warm chuckle left Percy’s lips. “Lily thinks she likes long runs, but to be honest she usually gets bored if its thrown to far.” Although right now Lily’s short legs were definitely keeping up with Dora. Lily wound around her new friend’s legs as the two of them returned to their owners, happy despite not having caught her quarry.

Taking the stick Percy tossed it a decent distance away and the dogs were off again. He’d been playing such games since his boyhood and knew that he could throw quite some distance. This time he kept his eyes on Dora. “You know, I think you might be right.” He admitted as Dora again made it to the stick first. “There may be some herder in her.” Lily yapped as the two of them raced back and he chuckled. “It appears they are becoming friends.” He told Miss Beauregard as he handed her the stick.

Wonderful set is a work of art from Lynn!
"Looks like it," She agreed with a soft hum of agreement, smiling fondly at the pups, watching them race back and forth as Mr. Adlard threw the stick. Sighing softly, she was incredibly thankful for the company and the distraction, this was certainly more than she could have hoped for when she'd left the house this morning. Mr. Adlard had a distinct knack for showing up at the best times for her.

As Elsie took the offered stick, her fingers accidentally brushed against his and she nearly dropped it. Blushing furiously, Elsie busied herself with tossing the stick again, with magic of course, but not before asking Dora to sit and wait, holding out one hand as indication she needed to stay. "It's not fair if you get it every time, now is it?" She chuckled, looking down at the anxious pup who still had yet to move, but was clearly itching to go chase the stick and her new friend. When it appeared that Lily had a good head start, Elsie gave Dora the go ahead and the larger dog took off like a shot to play.

"I think Dora would play all day if I let her." Elsie mused, trying to keep the carefree tone to the conversation. It would be a nice way to spend a fair bit of the morning, if she could stretch it out.

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