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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 ( Submit your own)
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Brigit Langley for Fletcher Langley.
The Matchmaking Menace
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 3+ times in three or more class threads during the course of a school year. Must all be done with the same character, be they a professor, student, or school portrait or ghost!

My Body is a Cage
September 23rd, 1888 - Kieran and Eileen's Flat
We take what we're given

The cuts and bruises from the full moon of earlier in the week were healing, and Kieran's article on Azkaban sentencing for child thieves was coming together. The flat, empty with Eileen working late tonight, was illuminated by magically-enchanted candles that dripped wax onto already wax-covered spots on the floor. He periodically poured more whiskey into his glass but was more buzzed than drunk, a thrumming feeling in his veins. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up, he had no jacket, and there were ink stains on his trousers. He had no plans to see anyone, not even Jude, and so a knock on the door startled him. Kieran left his quill in the inkpot and got up.

He opened the door and blinked, unable to hide the surprise. "Yousef," Kieran said, although really Kieran wasn't sure if his name was actually Yousef, or Ishmael, or one of the other pseudonyms he had heard over the years. Except - it had been years, since they had met. Kieran had not yet been riddled with the scars on his forearms. He'd been younger, he had looked younger, and Yousef looked the same.

"This is different," Key said. Eileen wouldn't like the vampire being here, but what Eileen didn't know couldn't hurt him. And - as always - Kieran could use the money. He took a step back. "Your invitation still stands, I think."

The nonchalant way he had been leaning against the wall at Kieran's door understated the situation somewhat. There were some upsides to be found here: he had made it through the door to the building downstairs without so much as a second glance, thanks to a stranger's unassuming 'after you' as they left the tenement; it had been fortunate enough that he vaguely recalled the place at all, without having to resort to following home that fiend of a brunette - the flatmate - whom he had seen working in the Leaky Cauldron once or twice in more recent times.

The downsides were these: Ishmael was thirsty. The bulk of his stored bloodbags were back up in Hogsmeade - he'd been handing them out like they were the fucking dole, because there were those among the caverns he could scarcely trust to do anything useful for themselves - and he'd thought, oh, London, London would be fine, he'd have no trouble finding a meal tonight. But it seemed London was not oblivious to the current state of things, the general whispers of vampire attacks on the rise (he wanted to point the finger at the werewolves of London, because they'd done more bloody damage in the city in recent months than his kind had), but he hadn't had much of a chance to persuade tonight's planned donor otherwise. A regular bloodbank, they had been to him, and when he had shown up tonight they had only gone and pelted him with garlic! Some nerve they had, and after all he'd done for them, too.

So he was thirsty, and getting desperate for a fix, and had come to see if he couldn't rustle up a snack by resurrecting an old connection. At last, another upside. The door had opened; Kieran was home.

"Call me -" Ishmael had opened his mouth to mutter, Yousef sounding alien after so long, but he broke off in a shrug because he couldn't really care less what Kieran called him tonight. Instead, he studied the man: different was the word there, too. Recognisable as the boy he had been, certainly, but less a boy now. Skinny still, and still young, but there was a touch more wear and tear there, visible even as Ishmael raked his gaze roughly over him. It was late, and Kieran looked slightly dishevelled - but, he had moved to let him in.

"Glad to hear it," Ishmael remarked, pretending that had been an invitation in itself and not just a statement, a practical supposition. It was one worth testing, at any rate, although he tried not to display any surprise when he managed to sail through the doorway with no trouble. "I was hoping you hadn't forgotten me," he said, faux-carelessly, sauntering further in to get a better look at the place. No garlic in sight, at least. "How've you been?"

"Oh, how would I forget?" Kieran said, injecting a light amount of snark into his tone for all that the words were true. There had been a period of his life where Kieran's job had basically been selling his blood to the vampire. Kieran had also, to some extent, looked forward to visits from Yousef - whether his life was in self-destructive free-fall or if he just wanted physical contact of some sort, Yousef had provided a certain something, until he hadn't anymore. But Kieran was older now, and probably wiser, and there was still that familiar adrenaline kickdrum start to his heart.

"And, well, you know," he said with a shrug, although there was no way that Yousef could possibly know anything about what Kieran had been up to. Key pushed the apartment door shut, and flicked the lock on for good measure. It wasn't likely that he'd get any visitors, but - well, if Eileen came home early, he wanted the warning of a key in the lock.

"What can I do for you?" he asked, following Yousef into the 'living room' (they did not have enough walls to really call it a separate room) and eyeing his candles, his whiskey, the half-written article. What would Yousef think of him now?

Ishmael snorted good-naturedly. Snark or no, Kieran had never been particularly troublesome, and didn't seem any more ill-disposed to seeing him again now, after all this time. Of course, who knew what had changed in that time - but they hadn't left things on bad terms, as far as Ishmael could recall. Drifting apart had been an organic process, at least on his part, as was often preferable: whether it was out of caution, boredom, or sheer habit, it was best not to let things go on too long. He might not be on the run as he had been in prior times of his (after)life, but the self-preservation instincts hadn't dulled, and it still didn't do to rely too much or too long on the same people. Better, usually, to move on to the novelties of new places and new distractions, before things soured. (It was inevitable, Ishmael knew from experience, that they would.)

Presumably Kieran had found new distractions - and sources of finances - of his own in the meantime, however vague his answer of how he had been was, a blasé shrug that told him even less than it pretended. It didn't really matter, of course - clearly he was still kicking - and Ishmael had not planned on too much preamble either, of small-talk and pleasantries as though he were a gentleman come to tea... But he avoided Kieran's next question for a moment more, merely casting him a look, because surely what he wanted was obvious, before he followed his gaze in mild interest.

The place was a little shabby, with or without the melted candle wax mottling the place, but that was not to say it wasn't cosy and comfortable in its own way; not unlike how Kieran, who was unkempt and up late and covered in inkstains, still had a bizarre charm of his own.

Charm or no charm, Ishmael caught himself gnawing on his bottom lip impatiently. But it had been a long time since Kieran had given him blood, so it would be more prudent to ease him around to the idea again a little more gently. He'd turned up unexpectedly already: best give him a minute to let the idea sink in again, before they moved on onto fangs. "Oh, you know," he echoed idly, lifting up Kieran's glass of whiskey for a moment and inhaling a long scent of it experimentally, as if that would be enough to stop him thinking about his own thirst. Next, he exchanged it for the topmost piece of paper, raising his eyebrows as he skimmed the writing and then peered over his shoulder at Kieran. "What's this you're working on?"

The look made a familiar warm buzzing conjure itself in Kieran's chest, and he was a little frustrated with himself for it the same as he was frustrated with the upturn in his heartbeat. So, he was still into Yousef, or at least still attracted to him. That the reaction was immediate was disconcerting, that after all these years wanting Yousef's touch was still habit. He pressed his lips together, just for a second, a little baffled just because he was actively, fervently, in love with Jude. Of course, he was also very alone, at least physically, so maybe he ought not to be surprised.

Yousef was just here for blood, anyways. If anything else happened, it would be a secondary event, no matter how much Kieran suddenly wanted it to. (If he could not have Jude, and he certainly could not have Jude, then he might as well have someone, even if it was only for the evening.)

The whiskey glass clinked against the table. Kieran reached past Yousef, really stretching himself out in the awkwardness of the motion, and picked it up. He took a generous sip, savoring the burning sensation in his chest as it went down. "I write for the newspaper now," he said, and it sounded boring when he said it out loud to Yousef, sounded pedestrian and human and like something that did not matter in the slightest. He cleared his throat. "As a reporter, I mean. I work in crime and politics." See, at least that was impressive - it was not as if Kieran was a social and gossip reporter. He wrote about the important things, his name had been on the front page a few times, and never mind that Yousef was older than most of the so-called important people and, as Kieran remembered it, had said some dodgy things about revolutions once or twice. That was, then, much more impressive than write-ups on Wizengamot case round-ups - and so Kieran was remarkably self-conscious as Yousef glanced over the writing.

He finished his whiskey in a reactionary gulp; if he was more buzzed, maybe he would not care as much if Yousef ended up saying something dismissive about his job. The last time they had seen each other, as he remembered it, Kieran had been very recently employed in a shit-pay job he didn't care about at Gringotts. It hadn't mattered, then, what Yousef thought about his job, because Kieran hadn't cared. He cared about the Daily Prophet; he actually cared about things in general now. Jude, the revolutionaries, anything other than Eileen. There was something about caring, though - it was uncool, and unlike him, and Kieran did not want to get caught doing it. He used to make a home in apathy, and he did not live there anymore.

Kieran stepped around the couch to set the whiskey glass back down on the table. Hoping to get Yousef's attention away from the article draft, he reached to catch the vampire's wrist in his hand.

The sniff he'd taken of that whiskey was drowned out soon enough by Kieran leaning over, that smell of human skin, the thrumming sound of a human heartbeat so attuned to his hunger. It took effort, considerable effort, to rein himself in; to stay still, to listen, to concentrate.

He had just been drawing to that conclusion when Kieran confirmed it: he worked as a reporter now. The Daily Prophet, presumably. Crime and Politics, he said. That was - unexpected. Of course, it made sense (Ishmael had figured he'd found himself something steady to occupy himself with, whether or not it was as lucrative or as up his alley as giving blood), but it had not been a direction he'd considered, from the younger Kieran he had known. Known, he said, as though Kieran's professional plans had ever been at the forefront of discussion. (No - they had never been quite that dull, together.)

"Huh," Ishmael said, letting a touch of the surprise show through, not quite impressed but certainly interested, even if he didn't offer his congratulations outright at this newfound direction in life beyond a raise of an eyebrow. He had never peered closely enough at the paper to connect this truth earlier, but he had felt as though he recalled seeing a familiar name here and there - and crime and politics. That could prove useful. "Now that's good to know," Ishmael added slowly, pensively, as he lowered the unfinished article back into its place, idly nudging it straighter. His interest was twofold, there: both the crime, for obvious reasons, and the politics - if only because magical politics these days involved vampires from time to time. (And, in that, already more often that Ishmael would have liked.) Perhaps Kieran had been involved in investigating or reporting some of those himself. Perhaps, Ishmael considered, it was fortunate to be renewing this relationship now: it couldn't hurt to have a friendly face at the Prophet, particularly one whom he might ask for a courtesy heads-up, a little discretion, maybe even a favour or two.

But those were favours for later; he had other priorities for the moment. Apparently, Kieran did too. Well, that made things simpler. Obligingly, Ishmael followed the grasp on his wrist and turned away from the table, turned to face him with a smirk. "Though I take it we can still keep this acquaintance strictly off the record?" He said - unable to resist just a bit of teasing - as he grasped Kieran by the other arm and pressed forwards, steering him back towards the couch so they might get a little more comfortable.  

Whatever had changed - and things certainly had, as evidenced by Kieran's new grown-up career (and, more furtively, a strange twinge when he thought suddenly of Monty, out of nowhere) - it looked as though they might be able to pick up just where they had left off. At any rate, it looked like Kieran might even have missed him, a little.

There was familiarity in this. It made Kieran feel younger, a little bit more like that even-more-reckless eighteen year old. Maybe that was because Yousef's face had not changed in the years since, but that couldn't be the only reason. He might be older, he might be less apathetic, he might have some semblance of financial stability in his life - but. Here he was, and there was very little in his mind that didn't want to pursue this, and never mind his surprise when he'd opened the door.

"Oh, you know it," Kieran said, mirroring Yousef's smirk. There were times that Kieran probably could have used a vampire as a source - hell, maybe he'd write Yousef the next time he needed to cover something related to vampirism. But, and although they were teasing he couldn't help but note this, most of his current friends would be horrified if he told them about this. Finn had known Kieran at the time, but would have a heart attack. And never mind Jude, who would probably be furious, either with Kieran or on Kieran's behalf, and - this was not a good time for him to be thinking about Jude. (Jude was never going to love him, and Kieran did not think that Yousef was capable of love. But Yousef was capable of touch, and that would do just as well, that was still something he was never, never going to get from Jude.)

He latched one hand onto the lapels of Yousef-Ishmael's shirt, and stumbled backwards towards the couch. Apparently he was not any more graceful than he had been years ago; this, at least, did not come as a surprise to him.

The back of the couch pressed against the back of his legs and Kieran sank into the couch, still holding onto Yousef's shirt. In the familiarity of this was that same thrill he always felt; no matter how self-destructive Kieran was, knowing he was with a vampire still projected DANGER onto his mind, and there was very little like the adrenaline of ignoring it completely.

"I know what you're here for," Kieran said, meeting Yousef's eyes, as if it had not been obvious from the very start. He remembered some of the things he used to do, the more reckless gestures, moves he had pulled when he wanted to be wanted for a minute. He tilted his head back against the back of the couch, exposing the arc of his throat, the beat of the jugular vein in his neck.

Though he had been joking, Ishmael really wasn't worried about keeping these meetings confidential. Kieran had been no trouble before, and would probably be no trouble now, would know perfectly well how to keep his mouth shut. Of course, working for the paper was not quite working for the Ministry - and between the questionable company he kept, the questionable activities he engaged in and his obvious inclinations, it was clear Kieran had plenty more to lose from something like this getting out than Ishmael ever would.

What was more, Kieran knew precisely what he was here for, and wasn't deterred in the slightest. "Quick, aren't you?" Ishmael said with a laugh, as he clambered onto Kieran's lap, pulled in by his sinking backwards. Quick, hah: in all that wit required to put two and two together to reach the plainest answer of all, what did the visiting vampire want - and quick, too, in having wasted no time in offering himself up, baring his neck like he had been made for it. Well then. Especially after the disappointment he'd already had tonight at a lost meal, Ishmael was hardly going to complain about keenness.

"I'll be sure to make it worth your while," he purred, running a hand approvingly up and down Kieran's arm, his fingers gliding over the scars on his forearm and scarcely noticing them, his attention all directed elsewhere. He grinned wide, savouring the scene for just a moment more, and then arched forwards as well, meeting his neck with lips and then teeth. He almost sighed as he sank his fangs in, taking a long, slow first draught of fresh blood in relief.

His heart thumped faster with anticipation, the adrenaline kicking in early because Kieran knew what was coming.

Yousef's teeth punctured his neck and stung. The pain was almost shocking - but Kieran remembered it always coming as a shock. He gasped and grabbed for the back of Yousef's shirt, pressing his fingers down tight. His muscles tensed. The first moment, Kieran knew, was always the worst - after a few seconds the dizziness would start to hit, and that was a feeling he could chase.

Once the blood had started flowing freely, Ishmael began to drink more hungrily, blinded instantly to everything else -

Until the first few gulps of blood hit his stomach and, without warning, congealed like curdled milk. The blood he had in his mouth had seemed fine for a moment, but it hit the back of his throat and abruptly tasted as bad as bile. Usually loath to do such a thing without warning, Ishmael pulled back out of Kieran's neck and gagged, trying to be rid of the rottenness.

His blood had never tasted like this before. No human blood tasted this bad.

"What the - fuck -" Ishmael spluttered through his sudden grimace, his eyes bulging as he leant over Kieran's shoulder and retched again, spitting a thick spattering of blood over the back of the couch.

Kieran's eyes snapped open. Something was wrong. This wasn't something that Yousef did, and he clapped his left hand over the wound in his neck, expecting to discover whatever was wrong. Was he - dying? He felt fine, he didn't even feel dizzy yet, the wound still stung. "What - happened?" Kieran asked, too confused to even snap at Yousef for spitting up blood on the couch. (Although he made a mental note to clean that up before Eileen got home, or she would be wildly unhappy, to say the least.)

Still perched on Kieran, Ishmael leaned back a little and wiped the blood off from around his mouth, wishing he could actually get the lingering taste off his tongue. Kieran sounded as confused as he was; in an attempt to distract himself from thinking about the sour taste, Ishmael turned his attentions to the man. "I could ask you the same question," he countered pointedly, because it had been nothing to do with him. And it couldn't have been the whiskey, Ishmael had already smelled that - it felt revolting, that flavour of his blood, sickening, like Kieran was ridden with disease.  

Had this happened before, to him? Ishmael's memories often blurred, but he'd learned a thing or two in his time, had heard stories about bad blood. And if he'd tasted it now, what could it mean? His stare had been faraway for a minute as he wracked his brain, but then all his focus snapped back to Kieran, Ishmael's eyes narrowing at him dangerously. "What -" Kieran was still pinned to the couch, had just been bitten in the neck, but Ishmael pitched into movement, grasped at Kieran's forearms at the scars and scrapes he had barely noticed before, pushing up his sleeves further, looking intently for a bite of a very different kind - "exactly - happened to - you?"

It was the urgency, the way that Ishmael rolled Kieran's sleeves up, that tipped him off. Oh he thought. Stupid, and reckless, and stupid, he had forgotten.

Lycanthropy was a disease of the blood.

It did not matter that he was normal for most of the month - it was in his blood, and of course, of course Ishmael would be able to taste the difference. Lying was not really an option - if Ishmael did not already know for certain, it didn't matter, because Kieran could not overpower or outwit him even if he really wanted to, never mind that he was already pinned down. The burn scar on his side throbbed.

"It's on my right shoulder," Kieran said dully, "Picking something up from Forbidden Forest. Wrong night of the month."

He was looking and looking, raking his eyes over skin and making some sense of the scrapes and bruises now, even if they were not the proof he was searching for.

But Kieran answered him, with a tone so removed from his usual lilt, so leaden and lifeless, that Ishmael took it for evidence enough. He didn't bother to check his right shoulder now, less interested in the scars than in absorbing the explanation. Ishmael released Kieran and manoeuvred off him, flopping on the couch next to him instead, his insides still contracting uncomfortably. As he considered this, he lolled his tongue out of his mouth, almost panting like a dog himself, wishing he could scrape off the lingering taste. He closed his mouth again and tried to swallow it, making another face of disgust. Kieran Abernathy was a fucking werewolf.


"Well, you could have warned me," Ishmael said petulantly.

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