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.

With a member driven story line, monthly games and events, and a friendly and drama-free community focused on quality over quantity, the only thing you can be sure of is fun!
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    News
    11.13 This news is not at all big. Do not bother with it.
    11.10 Election update!
    11.07 We have Posting Wizards!
    11.06 A big announcement...
    11.04 Happy AC day!
    11.03 Banner time!
    11.03 Welcome to November!
    10.29 October is waning...
    10.17 Election 1887 campaign ledgers are up!
    10.16 Kayte's changed her (Charming) face!
    10.10 Congrats to September's PW winners Olive and Miri!
    10.03 An update on the Hogwarts ban...
    10.01 It's now October~
    09.30 The AC Approaches
    09.24 We have new Wenches!
    November 1887
     
        
     
    Acting Like We're Not Together
    #1
    Private Thread 
    Thom was debating the pros and cons of going home when he finally ended up talking to her. He'd danced with a few ladies, but the lion skin was difficult to move in and he was tired of wearing it. He'd had conversations with about as many different people as he had the liquor to tolerate; if he drank any more, he was in danger of being seen at the party mildly intoxicated. Thom himself didn't care, but Hannah might, particularly since she wasn't here tonight to see the situation for herself; it might be reported back to her as decidedly worse than it was. So he was, in effect, out of enjoyable things to do at this party--but it wasn't late enough that other people had started to leave en masse yet, and Thom Pettigrew was hardly the sort of man who went home early from a party.

    He'd been aware of her all night, in his peripheral vision, at the edge of large groups as he wandered by, making her exits from conversations just moments before he made his entrances. There was something of a gravitational pull to a former love, wasn't there? Even though he was actively trying not to look at her the entire night, he could not fail to be aware of her movements at every step. It was like they were dancing, the two of them, except instead of a physical dance, it was a social one. They had to move in complimentary patterns in order to keep each other as far away as possible.

    They were executing this dance so well that he was quite shocked when he eventually found himself face to face with her. Had she intentionally closed the distance, or had he gotten distracted and missed a crucial step in this avoidance tango? Either way, they were too close now for him to reasonably ignore her; people in the vicinity would have thought it strange if he didn't greet the wife of one of his good friends. Which was, at this point, all she was meant to be to him.

    "Mrs. Black," he said, with a smile that was only a bit strained. "Enjoying your evening?"

    @Ursula Black
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       Helena MacMillan

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    #2
    All things considered, Ursula had been doing fairly well since ending things with Thom. It was fortunate that she had, at the time, only just managed to put an end to her laudanum reliance for the struggle and negative impact it had had on her were still fresh enough in her mind to ward off the urge to seek comfort from it once again. For once she had actually done something beneficial with her melancholy and focused all of her energy on her social life. To an outside eye, there was nothing troubling on her mind in the slightest and likely hadn't been for a long while. Underneath it all, however, were stifled emotions she could only keep at bay by keeping busy. Any time to herself was time in which it would catch up to her and she was avoiding that at all costs.

    Just as she was avoiding Thom at all costs at any social events they both happened to be at. She'd been doing surprisingly well in avoiding him, although she figured this had much to do with avoidance of her on his part for she had failed miserably at avoiding him whenever he had tried to seek her out in the past. The closest she had come to ruminating on him since the day they had parted ways had been recently when she had discovered his communication with Sirius. Why would he do such a thing? Was it intentional or thoughtless? Why would he intentionally write to Sirius to get her attention? What benefit did that have and why would he want her attention? That had been the whole point of her last confessions, to assure that neither one of them would want to reach out to the other before they were emotionally estranged enough to be trusted. The stupid letter had brought up all sorts of unwelcome thoughts and emotions, she could feel herself slipping back on any progress she thought she had made. Part of her had wanted to write and demand he refrain from contacting her son, but she conceded that doing nothing at all was the best thing to do. To write would be to acknowledge their once involvement, to ruin any progress made, to muddy the clean break even more...

    They had to stay as far apart as possible, not even engage in smalltalk unless in a group of others. Once the distance had grown into a comfortable habit, once the feelings were dulled and distant, then they could afford to cross paths properly. And then, just as they had three Halloweens ago, they were thrust into each other's company for better or worse. The last time had lead to picking up where they had left off, she hoped nothing of the sort happened this time. But why would it? She'd left him with the knowledge that she'd bedded his best friend with none of the contrition and regret she had offered him the first time she had told him. If he wanted her now it was only because as far as harlots went, she was tried and tested and he knew her baser instincts made persuading her easy.

    However, he surely had plenty of preferable options, there was no rational reason to think he was even slightly interested in her for any reason besides making sure this didn't happen. But it had. It had and she wasn't entirely sure whether to trust the little voice in the back of her head that kept insisting that his eyes had been on her more than once that evening. Was it the truth or had she merely thought she'd caught glimpses of him diverting his gaze because despite her best efforts she was still pining for him?

    "Mr. Pettigrew." She felt conspicuously warm although there was no out of place color in her face, and her mouth suddenly seemed incredibly dry. She took a long sip of her champagne and focused on assuring her composure throughout this undesirable interlude. Despite furtive glances she'd stolen of him that evening justified to herself only because she thought he had looked first, she only now noticed his costume properly. What in Merlin's name was he wearing and why? Had the amnesia made him forget that their house animal was a snake and he was not, in fact, a Gryffindor alumnus? "It has been quite diverting," she replied stiffly, in a voice that in no way suggested she was in the throes of merriment. She finished off her champagne having spotted an approaching opportunity to ditch the glass which she promptly did in what was likely to be as smooth as she was going to get for the duration of their interaction, however long that was likely to be.

    "And you, Mr. Pettigrew? Your evening has been satisfactory?" Her mouth still seemed dry, as though she was trying to utter his name through a wad of cotton. She was purposely staring at his ear instead of looking him directly in the face. If she had only known this was coming she might have been able to prepare the mental fortitude to deal with him as easily as if he really were any other gentleman. Well, any other gentleman besides one of the select few of the others she had taken to bed who weren't Phineas or dead. Or forgotten to laudanum.
    OCTOBER 27TH, 1887 | OUTFIT | @'Thom Pettigrew’
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       Helena MacMillan
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    #3
    Diverting. Satisfactory. What vocabulary she was using! Didn't that just sum things up perfectly, for both of them? Looking for diversions and coming away with a night that was merely satisfactory. It certainly seemed to fit his evening remarkably well, and she certainly knew that. They both felt the same way.

    Or was he projecting that onto her? She had told him, after all, on her way out the vanishing cabinet for the last time, that he had merely been one of a string of men. There had been others before, and there had been Leon, after, and there would likely be someone else in the future. Maybe she wasn't feeling this dull ache that he felt--maybe when she said diverting, what she meant was that she had been successfully distracted by flirting with a dozen new men. Maybe she'd forgotten about him, until he'd so rudely thrust himself into her line of sight.

    "Quite," he said stiffly. "It's quite the shame I couldn't bring my wife along."

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    #4
    Ursula felt herself tense slightly at the mention of his wife and her first instinct was to think that he'd done so to communicate a secret something to her, but immediately she chastised herself and reconsidered. Even if he had been trying to communicate something to her, it would do her no good now to figure it out. No, he was surely doing what they both ought to be doing by ensuring adequate distance lay remained between them, metaphorically speaking. Physically too by default; if they were overly close physically then something had clearly gone wrong with the distance in their relationship, or lack thereof as it should be.

    Her changed relationship with Thom, however, didn't mean she felt any differently towards his horrid wife.

    "Indeed," she replied shortly, trying both to sound aloof and disinterested while also not bitter. Bitterness suggested other emotions and while he had to know hers hadn't just vanished, she didn't need to flaunt them. "Phineas..." she began, and then faltered. There was nothing she could think to say about Phineas that didn't give him a glimpse beneath the cool facade she was fighting to keep up. Phineas couldn't make it either, united them in being without their married other, it highlighted how alone they were, together. Of course Phineas couldn't come, was too personal, you didn't speak negatively of your spouse to just any old acquaintance. Really, just mentioning that she was without husband felt like a vague suggestion that he ought to act accordingly. And once again she circled back to wondering if he was trying to tell her that he pined for her as she did for him and scolding herself for still wanting what she couldn't have.

    She cleared her throat demurely and kept her eyes trained on his ear. It wasn't really much better than his face, the only benefit was that it couldn't look back at her. It was only too easy though to think of every time she had brushed her fingers past that ear or placed kisses upon it or nearby, of times when she had gazed at it as fixedly as she did now, only with lazy affection in the aftermath of lovemaking or with a painful longing to know that other life where she would have woken up every morning to a view of that ear, that jaw, that smile, those eyes...

    It was imperative quite suddenly that she not look at that ear of his that now tantalized her. In tearing her eyes from it, she accidentally looked him dead in the eye for a fraction of a second before wrenching them away to stare at some random detailing of his costume before she could unintentionally communicate too much with a glance. "Why a lion?" she abruptly demanded, in need of distracting herself and possibly him too. It was a slight deviation from the very basic small talk she wanted to restrict herself to with him but she had to commit to it now that it was out.
    OCTOBER 27TH, 1887 | OUTFIT | @Thom Pettigrew
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       Thom Pettigrew
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    #5
    Phineas. The name seemed strangely out of place, although it doubtless wouldn't have sounded so to a passerby. He and Headmaster Black were good friends, after all, and that was widely known amount the sorts of people who followed high society life. They were certainly on a first name basis. Why had he expected her to say my husband, then? That was what it was that seemed strange to him, he'd realized fairly quickly; it was too personal. When he'd called her Mrs. Black and she referred to him as Mr. Pettigrew, they had established a sort of false distance where first names did not exist. The sudden mention of the name Phineas was a violation of that unspoken contract.

    She didn't follow it with anything, either. Did she feel just as suddenly uncomfortable with the name as he did, or was there something else? Was whatever followed that name the sort of thing they might have exchanged only in private. How many times had she laid in his arms and told him what was on her heart, her secret feelings and intimate thoughts? Or had he only thought she was sharing her heart with him? Perhaps she knew that he craved that sort of connection from her, and merely gave him what he wanted. She had never truly been his, after all, as her last revelation had made clear--was it plausible to think that he'd ever had more of a claim to her heart than he had to her body?

    She was changing the subject, and Thom shifted a bit uncomfortably. "It seemed festive," he said with a shrug. "It's not often you get to wear a real lion's skin to a party."

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    #6
    The tension was stifling. "I should think not." Again, her natural response felt too personal. The ridiculous thing was that she wouldn't have thought anything at all of it if he had been a stranger she was conversing with for the first time, that wouldn't have seemed too impersonal, but by using I and referring to her private thoughts in his presence felt as though she was in danger of drawing his attention to her continued presence before him, mentally as well as physically.

    It seemed important now to get through a proper conversation with him without abruptly leaving or truly shattering that delicate pretense they had going. To do that would be the first step in the right direction. Next time it would be easier and before long she could hold dinner parties with family friends including Thom without even thinking about their once entanglement.

    That shrug though, that casual gesture, could he really be so at ease when she was anything but? She allowed herself a fleeting moment of eye contact with the subconscious hope that she'd find proof that he wasn't, but she was too hasty and by the time she was looking instead at his shoulder she was none the wiser for it. "There's quite the variety of costumes this evening." A passing servant with fresh glasses of a strange blue something hopefully alcoholic seemed conveniently timed and she helped herself to a glass, despite not knowing what it was. Ordinarily, she would've asked to find out but she was too distracted to care as much as she ought to. It was probably just coloring for special effect anyway. "And drinks," she added with a glass now in her hand.
    OCTOBER 27TH, 1887 | OUTFIT | @Thom Pettigrew
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    #7
    "Yes," Thom agreed, a bit tensely. He was normally good at small talk, and he could have banter back and forth this way in his sleep. He often did so with about as much brainpower devoted to it as though he'd been asleep, with his mind wandering to more important or simply more interesting matters. This, however, with her, seemed so wrong, so painfully false, that he was finding himself rather at a loss for how to continue. "Your costume looks--er, lovely," he said awkwardly. He'd started the compliment as the sort of empty gesture he handed out at least two dozen times a night, at any social function, but then he'd thought better of it midway through and wondered whether a compliment--even a superficial one--would be too personal for the two of them. It was too late to back out of it, though, so he had to finish, and then that left him with the conundrum of what to say next.

    Why hadn't he grabbed a drink? He was rather wishing that he had one, now, but the waiter was already gone and it would probably be a few more awkward minutes before the next one wandered by. He couldn't afford to go looking for a drink--even though it had been half a year since that Witch Weekly article, he was still trying not to give anyone reason to think he was too keen to get his hands on a drink, even when he was.

    "That's, er, quite thematic," he said, tilting his head at the strangely colored glass. As far as small talk went it was rather limp, but it was apparently the best he was capable of at the moment.

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    #8
    If things weren't already uncomfortable enough, he had to go and make it worse by complimenting her and remarking on her drink and it was all too much, it was too much! But what could she do? She was torn between two desires, one of extracting herself from his presence that very moment without another word, and the other of throwing her arms around his neck and desperately trying to undo their last conversation. Neither of these could she reasonably indulge. So instead she took a generous sip of her drink, wincing a little as the strength of it took her by slight surprise.

    "It's supposed to be the sky. At night," she reluctantly murmured in response, glancing down at bodice and feeling rather self-conscious. This self-consciousness only added to her pre-existing discomfort which grew when her own words reminded her of that blissful moment they'd shared beneath the stars on her birthday. It had been the naming tradition of her husband's family that had been on her mind when she'd chosen the theme of her costume; a subtle attempt to declare her loyalty to him if only for her own sake seeing as he'd probably have missed it even if he had bothered to attend. Now she couldn't help but wonder if she was alone in thinking of that night.

    The need to distract from it was paramount. "Sirius..." she faltered again as she had with Phineas and her unease started to show more clearly on her face. Sirius the constellation, back to the night sky, back to... that. Sirius, her son, that letter. Too familiar. What could she talk about with him? Was there anything? "Seriously cold of late, don't you find? The weather..." A poor cover up and a painfully dull turn of conversation but she was now desperate in her clutching for straws. Ursula force her expression back to cold neutrality but it didn't fully reach her eyes. "Seems as though it was only last week that it was summer." Now she was just anxiously rambling.
    OCTOBER 27TH, 1887 | OUTFIT | @Thom Pettigrew
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    #9
    "Yes," he agreed, the discomfort he felt in answering evident in his tone. "I assumed as much." It was a good costume, but the more he looked at it--or rather, the more he tried to avoid looking at it too closely--the more he questioned her choice to wear it. The way that the constellations were drawn out, he couldn't help but try and identify them each time he saw one of the faint connecting lines. Of course, that lead his memories back to their shared night on the balcony. Oh, and there's Regulus, which is a part of Leo.

    Had she picked out that dress specifically to attract that sort of attention? Thom was realizing as he tried not to look that tracing out constellations was a very fine excuse to have spectators looking at her body, in a way that casual partygoers would never dare. The very idea of it gave him a pang of longing for what he was no longer able to have, but also a hint of distaste. Had she anticipated having men eying up her curves under the pretense of star-gazing? Had she picked out this dress with the specific goal to entice some new lover to replace him? She had had others before him, and a few during their affair, and it was ridiculous to think there wouldn't be others after him.

    Show me Regulus again. I've never been any good with astronomy, but I want to remember this. When he'd held her on that balcony and they'd named their unborn child, was she even certain that the baby was his, or had she only told him that because she knew it was what he wanted to hear?

    She was talking about the weather. Thom cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Yes," he said stiffly. "Though it's still far too wet for any chance of snow."
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       Ursula Black

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    #10
    From the way he was talking, she dared to entertain the idea that he might also be thinking as she was. All that time ago... She couldn't remember a time since when she'd felt so completely happy. Ursula was certain she'd never know such happiness ever again, with or without him.

    Was it too soon to detach herself without it looking suspiciously abrupt? Probably not, and had he been anyone else she wouldn't have even thought about it, but she couldn't seem to bring herself to conclude things. She told herself this difficulty had nothing to do with feelings or any subconscious hope of conveying some sort of longing for him that he might say or do something to prompt a reunion. It was futile and foolish, among other things, to wish herself back in his arms. The happiness was always so fleeting. Her hesitation obviously stemmed entirely from the fear that he would take her sudden departure as a sign that she was too overcome with emotion to conduct a conversation with him and whether he had any sentiment left for her or not, she didn't want him to realize think as much.

    "I look forward to the first snow. This time of year is awfully miserable; it's like watching the whole year slowly die before your eyes." She wasn't talking about the weather anymore, she realized with a pang of regret. That didn't mean he'd notice and if he didn't notice then it was only her own embarrassment that she had to contend with. He'd be less likely to notice if she said something else to divert his attention, not that that was likely to end much better. "Although, it must better for quidditch than snow, I would have thought?" A few minutes ago it would've sounded too personal but it was preferable to letting him dwell on her abnormally strong opinions on climate.
    OCTOBER 27TH, 1887 | OUTFIT | @Thom Pettigrew
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    #11
    Thom was a little uncomfortable with her metaphor, but he wasn't sure what to say or do about it. Was that a normal thing to say, and he was just projecting his own rather miserable feelings onto it, or was she trying to be dark? Before he had to comment on the everything dies bit, though, she had moved on to talking about Quidditch, and although it was strange to be talking about Quidditch with Ursula (as though she were pandering to his interests, though why she would want to indulge him during his conversation he had no idea), it was at least ground that he was a bit more comfortable on.

    "Snow doesn't hurt anything on the ground," he remarked with a casual shrug. "And when it's falling it's not too much of a nuisance, unless it's so heavy that the players can't see properly. That tends to make for poor ticket sales," he said, half a joke through he didn't really expect her to laugh. She had never been particularly interested in the specific details of managing a professional Quidditch team before, and he was under no illusions that she had spontaneously developed a fascination with it. "In terms of actual danger, ice is much worse. Freezing rain is just about the worst weather you can have at this time of year, outside of an all-out blizzard."

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    #12
    No, no it wasn't preferable. Her interest in quidditch was and had always been casual at best, although she had in times past affected an interest purely for him. Initially, in their early days, she had done so in order to feel closer to him, but she had quickly discovered how the topic could make his eyes light up and bring delightful animation to his features. It was a change in him that she now glimpsed and consequently felt a terrible pang of longing.

    Another consequence was that she'd completely missed what he'd been saying in favor of staring at him with unbridled adoration. It was mostly in the eyes that the change had come about, although the slight change in the rest of her face was enough to give her a softness of expression that she had thus far lacked. Recovering herself, she could only hope her cheeks didn't betray her further.

    "Very cold, blizzards. Who'd be outside in one if they had the choice?" She had at least caught his last few words, hopefully her response was vague and noncommittal enough that her inattention wasn't apparent. "Even for quidditch."
    OCTOBER 27TH, 1887 | OUTFIT | @Thom Pettigrew
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    #13
    Very cold, blizzards. Well, that was it. They had reached the limits of polite conversation they were able to make and had devolved into inanity. They were not only talking about the weather now, which was always the mark of people who had nothing at all to say, but she had just made a conversation piece out of the fact that blizzards were cold. Thom had thought he'd found his footing a bit more surely with the turn to Quidditch, but this comment from Ursula had derailed them both once again.

    It wasn't that he had nothing to say to her, of course. If they really had nothing to say, this wouldn't be so painful. There was a whole litany of things he wanted to say to her, though--things that didn't have words attached to them but were no less sitting heavily on his heart and drawing every moment of this conversation out into a painful pantomime. If she was someone else, it would have just been dull; by comparison to what this conversation could have been, the ache was so much more acute than that.

    "Indeed," he agreed hollowly. "Hopefully we avoid any of the snowstorms we've been cursed with in the past."

    How could he get out of this conversation quickly? An escape route didn't present itself to him just at the moment, but he was determined to steer for the first one he could find within the confines of this abysmal parody of small talk.

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    #14
    She didn't know what to say. Had she ever partaken in a conversation where she couldn't think of a single thing to say? Not recently enough for her to recall at least. The dreaded silence that would surely take root now if she didn't think of something to say would probably draw their conversation to a close. This was precisely what she had wanted since the interaction had begun, and yet she was still dreading the silence.

    All she needed to do was keep her mouth shut and the excruciating exchange would almost certainly draw to a close. There'd be a clumsy excuse or two and some parting words and she could walk away knowing she had made progress, that she'd done the right thing for once. This was what she wanted. There would only be one awkward first encounter after ending things, any after that would almost certainly be more practiced, more akin to the relationship they were supposed to have had all along.

    "Unless..." Her heart began to pound violently as she considered what she'd nearly said, what she thought she was about to go on to say regardless. "Unless one finds that their fondness for snow is such that it outweighs the flaws of the blizzard that accompanied it." No more! she thought desperately to herself but to little effect. "Alone, the snow is cold and oftentimes treacherous but it is also soft and melts at a warm touch." The right warm touch she mentally added as she happened to feel warmth seeping into her face. "You shall have to forgive me, Mr. Pettigrew, for I must take my leave of you now." Ursula was starting to walk away before she'd even finished her last, and suddenly very direct and crisp few words. She'd really gone too far and if he didn't catch her awful and embarrassingly obvious metaphor then he'd at least catch her blush and now that she'd succumbed a little to her heart, her head could bully it back into submission.
    OCTOBER 27TH, 1887 | OUTFIT | @Thom Pettigrew
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    #15
    Thom didn't realize she was speaking metaphorically until about halfway through her first sentence, and by that point he felt as though he was already behind and struggling to catch up. Even after he'd realized that she wasn't talking about snow, it was difficult for him to make the leap that she was talking about them. That was the obvious answer, of course, and the only one that really made sense, but after how they'd parted last time, he just couldn't reconcile her words to what he believed about their relationship in retrospect.

    Why was she saying this? It may or may not have been true, but even if it was, what was the point in bringing it up now? She couldn't possibly be asking him to reconsider the end of their affair, when she had been the one to break things off in the first place. It had been her ultimatum that had driven the final steak between them. Besides, she'd made him believe he was merely one of a string of lovers she had enjoyed. Why bother trying to rekindle something so soon after she had herself doused the flame?

    "Goodbye," he managed as she left, but his tone seemed a little hoarse to his ears. Thom blinked, then turned away. He needed a drink.

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    #16
    Even though she was already in motion, Ursula caught his response and had she not, the lack of pursuit would have told her the same thing. The spell was really broken then. He was well and truly done with her and absolved of any feelings. If he'd missed the subtext she'd tried to throw his way then it was no different - if he was missing her, if any part of him still wanted her, then he'd surely have read into her words.

    It was truly over. Of course she'd thought so before - at least in her head - but now it felt like a closed book. What an idiot she had been to allow her feelings to resurface so obviously. He'd almost certainly caught on to them and now likely thought her pathetic. Would he be wrong to think so?

    She didn't know where she was walking so briskly to but as long as it was away from him it didn't really matter to her. How mortifying!
    OCTOBER 27TH, 1887 | OUTFIT | @Thom Pettigrew
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