Charming is a Victorian Era Harry Potter roleplay set primarily in the village of Hogsmeade, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and the non-canon village of Irvingly. Characters of all classes, both magical and muggle — and even non-human! — are welcome.

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    Heart To Heart
    #1
    Private Thread 
    5 July 1883

    When he'd joined Captain Peppersmith's small navy, J. Alfred Darrow hadn't had many career aspirations, but he had learned to acquire them since. Promotions in the navy were regular affairs, unless he did something to screw up and find himself unemployed in the meantime. If he stuck it out and kept learning, bit by bit, someday he would be a Captain, with a ship of his own and men that relied on him, under the direction of the illustrious Captain Peppersmith. That had been what he'd been working towards since he'd been eighteen; the eventual goal of command. He had never expected it to happen like this.

    He didn't have a ship, and although he'd done a passably good job of keeping what men remained to him alive, they were a sorry bunch. Even though they had been scavenging the less worn clothing items off of the bodies of the dead for several months, they were all dressed in rags. Their eyes were thin and there was nothing behind them; he was leading a bedraggled group of hollow men.

    And then there were the mountains. They should have gotten out of them months ago, if Captain Peppersmith had been correct, but there still wasn't an end in sight. His last confidant had gone crazy and then died, and Alfred hadn't spoken to someone frankly since January. It was only a matter of time before he cracked and had to talk to someone, and it was rather inevitable, as consistent as Pince's presence was, that it would be to Pince when he finally did.

    "Pince," he said, interrupting something the other man had been saying that he hadn't been listening to. "Do you think--are the sailors very disheartened, do you think? All things considered?"

    All things considered; as if there was any other way to feel in this situation!

    @Paul Pince
    #2
    Even the naturally optimistic Paul was having a hard time being so these days. Uzeria, one of his closest 'friends' from their group had been injured. The naturalists of the crew that stuck together since the Sycorax had set sail, seeing that they were all similarly 'outsiders' on the ship. Fenway had been Paul's closest friend and now he was gone. He didn't want to think that Uzeria would soon follow him...

    His best way to cope was to talk. And talk and talk and talk. He'd talk to anyone who'd listen. Usually, that was Ringo. Such a good boy, that one! He was obviously not very interested in Paul's history tales, but he patiently listened to them anyway.

    It was Captain Darrow's turn to listen to those tales. Paul had been telling him about Heinrich Schliemann (for the fourth or fifth time) when the other man interrupted him. Paul would have once hated that, a year ago. Now, he was simply glad that his companion was also speaking, for a change!

    "I-uhhhh-" Paul said. "Of course not! They wake up and keep going every morning, do they not?"
    [Image: m26IMP.png]
    worship this set by lynn
    #3
    This was not exactly the helpful talk that Alfred had been expecting. Well, what had he been expecting, honestly? It wasn't as though Pince knew much about the situation, not really. He wasn't a sailor and he wasn't an explorer, and he wasn't in charge of leading these men. Of course he didn't understand what Alfred was really asking.

    "I know that," he said, still obviously troubled. "But they have to. It's not--there's more to it than that," he said, struggling to articulate what he meant. He knew the difference between someone with a will to survive and someone who was just going through the motions, but how could he convey this? "When people are disheartened, though, they... things that they should survive are harder," he explained. "I'm worried about them."
    #4
    Paul could understand what John Darrow was saying. Sort of. Even he had sensed the diminishing spirit of their group. People were getting weaker and more depressed with every passing day. Even Paul's high spirits were crushed. He lacked the enthusiasm he'd had when they'd first set sail. He was trying to be optimistic, but there were days when he was an optimist out of habit, rather than because he truly felt that way.

    "It's nice of you, John," Paul told the other man. "I mean. You're a good captain. And they can sense that. I am assuming that you feel as though you're not doing enough for them?"
    [Image: m26IMP.png]
    worship this set by lynn
    #5
    Alfred was only barely holding his concerns down as it was; the proclamation that he was a good Captain was too much to bear. His face took on a look of anguish for a moment before he moved to cover his mouth with his hand while attempting to regain his composure.

    "I'm not doing enough," he said after a moment. "But there's nothing else to do. I don't--I don't know what else to do."
    #6
    Paul had never been in charge of anything or anyone, so he couldn't possibly understand how John Darrow felt. That being said, he felt bad seeing him like that. He'd never seen Darrow so weak and hopeless before.

    He placed a hand on John's shoulder and gave him a comforting smile. "You're doing the best that you can, John." Paul, of course, could be wrong. He was only a follower on this expedition. He was surviving thanks to other men's superior knowledge and skill.
    [Image: m26IMP.png]
    worship this set by lynn
    #7
    Alfred was, by this point, rather used to Pince reaching out to touch him without warning or invitation. He wasn't used to displays of brotherly affection between grown men like that (perhaps because sailors had a bit of a masculinity complex and were more apt to show affection through brawls than embraces, or perhaps due to some deep-seated unresolved issues with his own older brother), but after being exposed to it for so long he now didn't even flinch when the other man reached out for his shoulder.

    "It's not enough," he heard himself say, and knew immediately it was true. His best was all he had, but it wasn't enough to see them through the wilderness. Why had he decided to leave the surveying materials behind? His confidence in their direction was all but shattered after so many days without encouragement, and he desperately wanted to take the opportunity to try and ascertain their position, for all that it had never helped before.

    "I don't know where we are." To Pince that may have seemed like a fairly obvious statement, because they were in the wilderness and no one knew who they were, but the words had significance to the men, and Alfred glanced around him briefly to ensure none of them were close enough to have overheard. "Not even generally. The men mustn't know, it would crush them," he said, speaking quickly as he realized the gravity of his own admission. "But I don't know where we are, and I'm meant to be leading these men to rescue."
    #8
    Paul wasn't used to John Darrow confiding in him. This had to be the first time when his companion had told Paul anything without being explicitly asked. And he'd certainly never told Paul anything of that gravity!

    Paul wasn't a seaman. He didn't know a think about survival and navigation and all those things the crewmen knew about. He'd let his ignorance literally be a bliss in this unfortunate expedition. It was easy to hope for a rescue when you weren't the one calling the shots.

    In the past, had John Darrow told him those same things, Paul might have given him some kind of 'Not all those who wander are lost' speech. He was good at giving inspirational speeches because they were hollow and it was easy to give empty, hopeful words when you didn't grasp the gravity of a situation.

    John Darrow wouldn't share those things with him if things weren't truly severe.

    "John," Paul made, then paused to think of the right words. "All those men are alive because of you, John. A good leader isn't only someone who walks at the front, blind to those who follow him. You care about our well-being. You take care of us. The men appreciate that. I appreciate that."
    [Image: m26IMP.png]
    worship this set by lynn
    #9
    Alfred wasn't inclined to think that any of the men's continued survival had a thing to do with his leadership skills, or lack thereof. Merlin knew that the opposite wasn't true. Every man who had died since he assumed the role of leading their little gang wore very heavily on his conscious (though so far the count was only two, assuming one did not include Coarse who had, in a way, lead himself to death). The deaths, he felt, were at least in portion his fault; the survivals he attributed to luck alone, or else to some intrinsic quality of the men themselves, some desire to survive that outweighed the odds.

    He was stopped from responding by Pince's words about caring about the men. He did care, but was that enough? Was it really worth anything, in the end? Would caring a bit more have stopped Slug or Uzeria from dying? Would it prevent any future deaths? Would it lead them to England again?

    If Pince was right in saying that the men noticed and appreciated his attention to them, however, maybe it wasn't a worthless quality to possess, in a Captain. Had that been part of why he had been so devoted to Captain Peppersmith, perhaps? That, and his energy. He had lived the expedition, and before that he had lived the Navy, and there was something to be admired and followed in a man so single-mindedly devoted to a task. If only Alfred could have become that sort of Captain! Captain Peppersmith had inspired the sailors beneath him to do things another man might not have thought were possible; Alfred was worried he would someday lose the ability to inspire them to even continue walking.

    "Do you think that's so?" he asked, looking pensively at the ground. "Do you think that means a great deal to them?"

    Merlin; he was asking for advice on how to interact with sailors from Pince, who had only been underway for a handful of months and had spent a fair bit of that time looking green and feeling seasick. Things really were dire.
    #10
    "I believe it, John!" Paul replied to his friend and gave his shoulder a squeeze. He hated seeing his companion like that. John Darrow had managed to appear strong and resilient during all of the hardships they'd been through. In all honesty, a more selfish part of Paul didn't want to see him crumble. What would happen to him if John Darrow was lost? He'd already lost most of his naturalist friends and they'd all lost too many leaders. There was a part of Paul that dreaded the possibility of him being left all alone in the wilderness after everyone else had died.

    "It's alright to feel lost sometimes," Paul continued. "You know, my profession may not have given me many useful skills regarding how to survive this, but it has taught me to have hope. We never know what we'll find when we do an excavation. If we will find anything. We have to have faith that when we drop a pebble, we'll hear a splash."
    [Image: m26IMP.png]
    worship this set by lynn
    #11
    Alfred reached his hands up and ran his fingers through his hair. Once upon a time, he wouldn't have had much of a cause to do something like that, but with his hair so long now it was the sort of nervous tick that could keep his hands occupied for several seconds, working through the mats and twists of his curs.

    "Sailors don't hope," he pronounced, glancing up at Paul. He wasn't trying to tear down the other man's encouragement--he did appreciate it--but sitting down in the dirt to dig around and maybe find something fun and risking your life in order to go out and accomplish a task were very different things. For something like archaeology, maybe hope was fine. Maybe that was all you needed, to get yourself through the day. Hope, though, to him, implied that there was no real basis in fact, and that couldn't work for someone who spent months away from family and friends in pursuit of someone else's goals. If the men were expected to put their sweat and their backs and maybe even their necks in to this job, they needed more than blind faith. "They trust. They trust me. I just don't know whether they should."
    #12
    "John!" Paul chastised the other man kindly. He squeezed his shoulder again. "You're doing the best that you can. You're not helping them by pitying yourself."
    [Image: m26IMP.png]
    worship this set by lynn
    #13
    Two shoulder squeezes; Pince must have been feeling especially sentimental today. That, or else Alfred was showing his hand more than he'd even realized.

    "I suppose you're right," he agreed. He certainly wasn't doing anyone any good by coming to Pince for advice on how to be a Captain, but he'd just had to say something to somebody. Swallowing, he shook Pince's hand off of his shoulder, then, worried that the gesture might make him seem ungrateful for his listening ear in their little discussion, added awkwardly, "Er, thanks. That--ah, you helped."


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