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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    Truth Is What We Make It To Be
    #1
    Private Thread 
    22nd September, 1887

    It had taken him more than two weeks to build up the courage to write to Xena, so it was perhaps unsurprising that during all that time he hadn't managed to find the strength to leave the house. He hadn't had any desire to see anyone (anyone, that is, except Xena), and so it hadn't seemed worth the risk--and besides, although he didn't imagine his father would want to be any more involved in his life going forward than he had been prior to the events of September first, getting himself into any sort of trouble or public situation would only be kicking the metaphorical hornet's nest. That being said, the sudden announcement that Xena would be coming here made him rather self-conscious about how he'd spent the month so far. He'd mostly been sulking and lying around feeling miserable about his life and himself (not altogether dissimilar from how he'd spent his first months at the cabin, after Xena had broken things off with him). The cabin was, in consequence, rather a disaster, and Lou himself was not much better.

    He'd spent Saturday night frantically cleaning the cottage, so as not to give her too poor an impression (though if she asked what he'd been up to he would have no very good answer and might have to confess to how utterly pathetic he was at the moment). Sunday morning was devoted to cleaning up himself, but there was only so much to be done. He had bags under his eyes that wouldn't go away, and the wounds on his throat and forehead were still visibly halfway through the healing process. He looked haggard, worn, and maybe even older, but he couldn't do anything about that. The best he could do was wash up and ensure that he'd shaved and was wearing clean clothes, and the rest of it would hopefully not be too damning.

    Given all the physical preparations he'd had to do for her arrival, Lou hadn't had time to do many mental preparations. In light of the fallout that certain letters he'd sent off on the first had had, it was easy to forget the response he'd sent off to Zelda Fisk on the second. He had a lot to think about, mentally--his father and brother had just betrayed him in a way he found unforgivable, and he didn't know what his future held--and in the grand scheme of things, the feelings of a girl he'd only really known a few months were not at the top of his priority list.

    He was nervous when she finally arrived, but not for any of the reasons he probably ought to have been; rather, he was suddenly consumed with wondering how much he ought to tell her about what had happened. Could he tell her about the Unbreakable Vow? He hardly wanted to drop dead in her arms after testing the boundaries of his father's curse, but there hadn't been anything in the terms that explicitly forbid him from speaking about it.

    He heard the crack of apparition and knew that it must be her, but as he headed outside the cabin to look for her it was Gabriel who found her first. Following his dog around the corner, his eyes finally lighted on the love of his life. For a moment he forgot his worry, and he closed the distance between them quickly and easily. "Xena," he greeted warmly, reaching out for her hands.

    @Xena Fisk
    Do You Know Lou, or Charlie?
    [Image: I7y9kJ.png]
    Beautiful set by Tiff!
    #2
    Xena had slipped out of church early. The rest of her family rarely attended and it was a common enough occurrence for her to stay to a friend’s after the service that she wouldn’t be missed for a few hours, if they even noticed. She hadn’t been able to concentrate on the hymns or readings that morning, and the whole sermon had passed in a blur as she had issued the same prayer over and over- how did she confront the man she loved with what she knew?

    She had briskly crossed to the edge of a thicket where she could disapparate unseen, but had paused before doing so. Xena knew she ought to have been relieved Lou hadn’t ended up in Azkaban, but at least she knew that she could deal with pining for him for years. She wasn’t sure, however, how she was meant to deal with what had happened with Zelda. Even if Lou hadn’t betrayed her and deliberately made her sister love him, like she hoped, the fact still was he had endangered her, and hadn’t thought to mention it once.Eventually she had given up waiting for her mind to clear before attempting to apparate and just did so, praying she wouldn’t splinch herself in the process.

    Xena had stepped out of the trees, a sombre figure in her plain grey wool, and was greeted first by Gabriel- oh lovely Gabriel, she had missed him- and then by Lou. Her carefully planned speech vanished when she saw the state of him, and Zelda didn’t even feature in her mind as she took in the scars.

    “Lou!” She exclaimed, rushing to him. “What happened? Are you alright?” Xena clasped a gloved hand to his cheek, searching the wounds for a promise that they weren’t as bad as they appeared.
    [Image: IKNXus.png]
    Stunning set by Soph <3
    [Image: kZuCust.jpg]

    #3
    The questions she asked were easy, or should have been, but the moment that Lou opened his mouth to answer them he realized how utterly unprepared he was for this meeting. He'd written to Xena because he'd been desperate to see her, not because he'd thought it through and knew what he needed to say. He had a sort of aching need in him for her presence, but he had no idea how to talk to her about everything that had happened. What should he tell her? What could he tell her, without putting his life in danger from that blasted Vow? There hadn't been anything in it specifically about not revealing its own existence, but he couldn't tell her it had happened without opening to door for questions about why it had happened, and then he'd be walking a fine line.

    "I'm alright," he said, his hand moving up to rest atop her gloved fingers. He wasn't actively in the middle of dying (something that he might not have been able to claim for the first few days of September, when every full moon had seen the wounds torn open once again), but was he really alright? Was he ever going to be alright, after this?

    He didn't know. He didn't know what he was meant to be doing with his life, after September. Lou no longer had a family, as far as he was concerned, but he was bound by magic to protect that family all the same. What happened next?

    "Merlin," he breathed, moved closer to her as he struggled to tamp down the surge of hopelessness that had risen in his chest like a tidal wave. His eyes were starting to sting, and she'd barely been here a few seconds. "I didn't know whether I'd see you again."
    Do You Know Lou, or Charlie?
    [Image: I7y9kJ.png]
    Beautiful set by Tiff!
    #4
    I didn't know whether I'd see you again. It had all been Lou’s idea to hand himself in, Xena couldn’t help but think rather bitterly. She hadn’t wanted him to- and if he hadn’t he wouldn’t have worried about never seeing Zelda again either, and then he wouldn’t have written those letters, and their Papa wouldn’t have found out, and perhaps it all would have been okay. He had been the root of all of this heartbreak for all of them, whether he knew it or not.

    But Lou had caused all of this and now was back and not in Azkaban where he could avoid knowing what he had done, and Xena couldn’t just ignore the consequences as much as she wished she could, as much as she wished to just bury herself in his arms again and kiss him till she forgot it all.

    It was almost a painful effort not to move closer to him but keep looking him in the eye. Lou couldn’t lie to her. The werewolf thing, Zelda- it had all been omission rather than falsehoods. If she asked him outright, then he would tell her the truth, he always would. “What-” She began. “Did you change your mind?” Xena asked. Maybe, just maybe, if he said it was all because of her, she thought rather selfishly, it would all be okay. She’d convince herself that Zelda had been some mix up, the scars were just from a bad full moon, it was all okay again. Her begging hadn’t worked before, her mind said, it couldn’t have just then, not really.
    [Image: IKNXus.png]
    Stunning set by Soph <3
    [Image: kZuCust.jpg]

    #5
    Had he changed his mind? The words stung like they were an accusation, though he knew Xena probably hadn't intended them that way. The implication that he had decided to end any semblance of a life he'd still had on a whim, that it was the sort of thing he might decide and then later simply change his mind about, was a bit too close to the sorts of things his father had been saying, when he'd discovered Lou's plan. His cheeks flushed almost defensively, the same way they had as he'd sat, bandaged and sleep-deprived, in his father's study, having his actions pulled apart, dissected, and berated by the older man. Foolish boy.

    Or maybe it was the answer to her question that he didn't like. He'd have to tell her, because he couldn't lie to her, and there wasn't any way to leave it out. He'd have to admit to those moments of absolute powerlessness in the face of Charles Jameshill. After all this time, and after all he'd done, he was still nothing more than a child when his father was on the scene. Lou didn't want to tell her about the Vow, but how could he avoid it? How could he explain how thoroughly and completely his father had dashed his plans without it? There was no other reason that possibility could have been entirely removed from the table.

    He'd taken it for her, but even that wouldn't make it much better in the telling. Lou had opted to agree to the Vow while his father didn't know about Xena, so that he wouldn't later be forced to make one that prevented him from seeing her. There was no way to frame that scenario that made it seem brave. He was running, either way. He was defenseless and impotent either way. He had a sudden but overwhelming sensation of self-dissonance, as though he could see himself from the outside and the inside, both, with all of his feelings laid out like tangible things. He was embarrassed by himself. He was no longer the man Xena had fallen in love with: he was pitiful.

    She could see it, too. He was quite suddenly certain. It had been there in the way she'd asked the question, the way she'd prefaced it with what. That was a challenge, and she was expecting a defense he didn't have, an explanation he couldn't voice. She hadn't closed the distance between them, and she hadn't kissed him. Xena recognized him for a fraud. She could see how far he'd fallen.

    She'd only been here a moment, but already he had the unshakable feeling that he was losing her, or maybe that he'd already lost her. Did it matter whether she was gone or only going, when he couldn't find the strength to reach out and stop her?

    He needed to say something. She was waiting for him to answer, but all he could think was I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. A repetitive chorus that he couldn't move past, and from which nothing productive was liable to emerge. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so so sorry...

    "Xena, I--" he started, his voice rough as though he hadn't used it in days.

    I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I love you, don't leave me...

    Merlin, he was pathetic.
    Do You Know Lou, or Charlie?
    [Image: I7y9kJ.png]
    Beautiful set by Tiff!