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Her niece's humility was an admirable thing and had the added advantage of leaving Temperance feeling as though she was constantly rendering Blythe dumb with her words of wisdom and encouragement.Temperance Fairchild in Messiah
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Messiah
#1
Private 
13th December, 1888 — Fairchild Household
@Blythe Fairchild
The time of year was no excuse for shirking one's duties and yet Temperance had spent the vast majority of her day scowling at the early festivities that were beginning to pop up as she went about her daily rounds. Cards bearing images of red-breasted robins appeared on patient’s bedsides and she had to force herself not to remove them to the nearest wastepaper basket. She had seen healers she otherwise considered sensible wizards speaking to each other in panicked whispers about what they were getting their respective wives. Inevitably there was an excessively ostentatious spruce in the Infirmary foyer that she did not object to as much on principle but did think was a terrible fire risk given the abundance of candles some fool had seen fit to bedeck the branches with. She could only hope they were properly enchanted.

The whole experience turned shifts that one month ago she would have been able to run like a Swiss clock into days that drained her body and soul.

It wasn’t even that she disliked the season. Quite the contrary. But it was a time for solemn reflection, for dignified celebration but not for this utter...display. Unfortunately it seemed that this was the way of the world, the way of their thoughtless, blasphemous world and she was forced to live with it. At least she was in her professional life where she was obliged to hold her tongue and keep her peace - in her own home, where she was matriarch rather than matron, she permitted herself to be far freer with her speech and thanked the Lord for the opportunity to be rid of the bile that rose within her.

Her family would likely not be so thankful. Indeed the boy had already excused himself to bed, leaving her alone with Blythe, seething over her knitting.

“It’s sickening the way these people carry on," she repeated, for approximately the fourth time that evening. "No true believer would celebrate the birth of our lord and saviour with foolish parlour games."


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#2
Aunt Temperance had been in a mood if ever there was one—Blythe had spent enough time with her guardian to recognize them when they came. Her typical response was to remain quiet and simply wait it out. It had, time and time again, proven to be the safest option, after all. This plan, though, tended to fail when her aunt insisted on engaging her, for to not speak when spoken to would only vex the woman further. It was a dangerous game with, admittedly, rather low stakes.

“They are not true believers,” she remarked quietly, keeping her eyes trained on her needlepoint so that she would not have to meet the older woman’s steely gaze. “Merely the ignorant doing what they believe is expected of them.” Had her aunt not taught her that same lesson time and time again, that people, en masse, were simply ignorant to the truth?


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#3
“As they have always done I suppose,” she muttered, easily mollified by being agreed with and pulling at a knot that had formed in her wool with all the patience of a toddler which certainly alleviated some of her irritation.

Her niece, at least, she could rely upon to be sensible. Blythe had never exactly been a frivolous child but since she had found herself an occupation – admittedly one that Temperance had some reservations about given the potential exposure to the dregs of society – she had become eminently more thoughtful and Temperance wholeheartedly approved. She had also become significantly more withdrawn, if such a feat was possible, but Temperance deliberately ignored that fact.

“I hope you’re looking forward to playing our Lord’s mother? It is quite the honour,” and one that Temperance had taken pleasure in all-but bullying Mrs Gemmell into acquiescing to.


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#4
Blythe let out a soft yelp as the needle missed its mark, pricking instead her finger and sending a small bead of blood to its surface. In fact, her turn as Mary was something Blythe was altogether dreading, but not something she'd given much of a choice in. To buy herself some time, the witch moved her finger to her mouth, using suction to stem the (modest) tide (or rather, trickle) of blood.
@Temperance Fairchild


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#5
Temperance glanced up sharply at the squeak from her taciturn niece, momentarily convinced that the spirit had taken her and Blythe was being moved to greater heights of rapture at the mere thought of the honour she was about to receive. Instead she was met with the sight of her young charge inadvertently leaving a print of blood on her chin, as though she were anointing herself like a deranged druid.

“If memory serves me well then our holy mother was not a vampire,” she said sardonically, pulling a handkerchief from her sleeve as if by...well...magic. “What’s wrong Blythe?” She asked in the kind of voice that did not allow for evasion.


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#6
Blushing, Blythe moved to accept the proffered handkerchief, sheepishly having removed her finger from her lips and pressing the digit into the fabric instead.

"It's such an honour," the young witch began carefully. "I worry that I won't be able to do it justice." Especially not with a hundred eyes upon her. Especially not when she yearned so entirely to be anywhere but there.
@Temperance Fairchild


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#7
“My dear girl, console yourself with the fact that there isn’t a single soul in the village that could do justice to the bearer of our lord,” Temperance replied certainty, her tone of voice falling several rungs short of being sympathetic. She meant well, she usually did, but the moment the words had left her lips she recognised that Blythe’s spirits had not been entirely lifted as was her intent.

“I doubt there is anyone else who would be as dignified though,” she added with solemn surety, reaching to take the handkerchief from Blythe’s hands and delicately dabbing at her chin where the blood had begun to dry.


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#8
It was, Blythe thought but did not say, little to no consolation at all. Surely even if her aunt's words were true, there was someone who at least wished to try, who was more deserving (and better-suited) to the role than Blythe herself?

She could tell, though, by the look upon her aunt's face that there was little reasoning with the woman. Instead, she cast her own gaze once more to her hands, an excuse brewing in the back of her mind but failing to come to fruition.


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#9
Her niece's humility was an admirable thing and had the added advantage of leaving Temperance feeling as though she was constantly rendering Blythe dumb with her words of wisdom and encouragement.

“You should get to bed, you’ll have a great deal to do in the upcoming weeks.”

And if Temperance had anything to do with it then their fortunes in the church would only rise. Blythe would rise to the challenge, she was sure of it, even if she did have to shed the odd spec of blood for it.
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#10
She knew a dismissal when she heard one. A good thing, too, for Blythe did not know that she could, in her present state, continue carrying on any sort of conversation. How she yearned to have the confidence to truly speak her mind! But alas, that was not a gift that God had seen fit to bless her with.

"Of course, Aunt," she demurred, doing her best to appear grateful—and failing entirely— as she rose to her feet to go. The war, she suspected, was already lost: there would not be another battle, not on this matter.


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