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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.
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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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Queen of the Hunt
#1
Private 
January 7, 1889 - Devine Estate, Ireland
@Ophelia Devine

The smell of pine trees and fresh crisp air filled Seraphina’s nose with each breathe. The cold air surrounded the small group as the horses stamped their feet with impatience, eager to be off again. Puffs of fog emitted from lips and noses as the riders as the pleasant conversation lilted through the air, effectively scaring off nearby game.

Not that it mattered, Seraphina thought, as she reached a leather gloved hand down to pat her mare’s neck. They were after bigger game than the rabbits and foxes that might be near. They were stalking stag this morning. Although with Mrs. Devine among their party Seraphina found this quite unlikely. The young woman chattered incessantly and could barely stay seated in her saddle. The sharp eyes of Miss Nott had taken in the former Miss Dippet’s behavior since they had departed from Devine stables. Seraphina could easily see this as a shortcoming of the young wife’s upbringing. Surely everyone in the party could. But it would have been rude not to invite the wife of the host on such an outing. No matter, Seraphina’s own skills would capture the attention of the day, she was quite sure.

Below her, Sorel, stamped her feet impatiently, ready to move. Seraphina had taken Sorel on enough hunts that she knew Sorel preferred to be galloping through the woods, a verifiable army on her tale, in chase of her mistress’s quarry. Soon. Seraphina promised her mare silently with a rub of her neck. Soon they would be on their way.

Not a moment later the horns sounded and they were on their way again, wands out and reins in hand. Seraphina leaned forward on Sorel, urging the mare to go faster. The wind surged around her, tugging at her carefully pinned hat and her tight riding jacket but having no success in ridding her of either object. Soon Seraphina had outstripped most of the party, Sorel thundered behind the heels of the hunting party. A smile formed on Seraphina’s face as she squinted for their quarry. She could almost make out the white tail of the doe they were chasing, almost get enough of a sight that she might be able to bring the creature down. Faster. She urged Sorel, nudging her knees into the mare’s sides in silent command.

The glimmer of a spell passed by Seraphina, chasing the doe - and landing with a loud crash in the trunk of a tree beside the deer. The deer bolted to the side and soon was lost among the trees, as the hounds grew confused by the spell and began to circle the tree. With a sigh Seraphina reigned Sorel in, turning to see who had cast the ill fated spell. The former Miss Dippet sat atop her mount wand out and a shocked look on her face. It didn’t take much to see that Miss Dippet had been the one to bring the chase to an ill fated end.

Steering Sorel toward Mrs. Devine, Seraphina gave the woman a venomous smile. “Well aimed, Mrs. Devine. Perhaps I can give you some pointers?” She asked sweetly, almost too sweetly, as the males in their party began the search for a new quarry to try and find.
#2
Hunting was not something that came naturally to Ophelia. She had been raised among all sorts of animals, both magical and mundane, but that had been entirely different. Growing up on a farm, they'd had a small range of animals that had been tended by the hired help. Their father's profession as a magizoologist had garnered a small crowd of more unusual things — a pair of nifflers that had snuck home in his suitcase from a trip abroad, an injured leucrottas that he had nursed back to health, a pond full of ramora that he was breeding with the intent to release into their native sea to bolster the surviving population, that sort of thing. Her father had never balked at getting his hands dirty, and Ophelia admired him enough that she would have done anything for their animals under his guidance. Only twice in her childhood had they ever killed any of their animals, though — once to put an injured animal out of its misery, and once when they'd accidentally hatched a basilisk that had killed two thirds of their chicken coop before they'd realized the snake egg had been slipped into one of the nesting boxes.

Killing for sport was something only the wealthy did, and Ophelia hadn't been a member of the upper crust of society long enough to have grown up around it. It hadn't been something Armando had ever indulged in, either, since he was too frail to find an afternoon riding a horse over rocky terrain desireable. She was determined to try it, because this was the sort of thing that rich wives did — and she was determined to be good at it, because Mr. Devine's parents were here, and she wanted to impress them. Determination, however, didn't seem to be enough to give her the skill set she needed. It didn't help that her horse was fighting her every step of the way. She'd ridden horses before, but not in several years — not since the death of her father had shuffled her off to Armando's house in London — and this horse, for whatever reason, didn't seem to like her.

Honey-sweet though the other woman's tone might have been, Ophelia knew immediately what she was really saying. Putting on a fake but glowing smile, she replied in the same pleasant way, "How kind of you to offer, Miss Nott. My horse stumbled at the last moment. I don't expect it to be a problem again."

Her horse hadn't stumbled at all, but that sounded like a reasonable excuse. Besides, the way this mare was acting, it might very well have stumbled just as she took aim, out of pure spite.
#3
Seraphina didn’t even bother to disguise her skepticism at Mrs. Devine’s excuse, her eyebrows rising upward in perfectly skeptical arches. “Perhaps if you had checked her hooves before we began she would not have stumbled.” Seraphina never rode on a horse who she had not first checked, she’d heard too many stories of men tossed from horses because they trusted the handlers with the tack.

Turning Sorel away from the young bride, Seraphina thought to leave her for better company. Tossing over her shoulder, “With your seating you should be lucky you weren’t tossed from the saddle with a stumble like that.” Again the cat like grin returned to Seraphina, pleased to have delivered a blow to the excuse and seem as if she were offering a kindness.
#4
Perhaps if she'd checked her hooves! Ophelia felt she was boiling, just below the surface of her skin. She knew how to ride a horse! But was personally checking each horses' hooves something that the wealthy really did? What was even the point of having hired stable hands and grooms, if that was the case? Maybe this was actually a not-very-subtle barb, meant to imply that Ophelia, with her middle-class upbringing on a farm, was the sort of person who ought to be checking hooves prior to a hunt, rather than actually being involved in one.

Since she didn't know how the comment was intended, she didn't know how best to respond, and her window to do so was quickly closing. "I suppose perhaps I am a bit out of practice," she said hurriedly as the other woman turned her horse to leave. "I haven't had much need to ride anywhere since I was given my pegasi and flying carriage on my wedding day." A team of four pegasi and a flying coach was a luxury even amongst members of this social class, and while it was a bit off-topic to bring it up now and try to weasel the brag into the conversation, Ophelia was feeling insecure enough about her hunting skills to try it anyway.

"My dear Mr. Devine prefers I travel in comfort," she continued. "And one hears such stories about what befalls women who are too much engaged in masculine activities, anyway." And there, at last, she'd been able to come up with a fitting barb. She had no doubt Miss Nott had been intending to be catty, and Ophelia was practically a professional at that game — it had just taken her a second to get her bearings back.
#5
How gauche to be bringing in new wealth, Seraphina smirked at the comment. Those in their circle did not brag about their belongings - they showed them off as civilized people should do. It was polite and simply much more effective then such a verbal barb. “Then we should hope that practice shall keep you safe as we move forward.” Who knew what might come from such a hunt of the poor dear couldn’t even stay seated on her mount.

Masculine activities. If Seraphina didn’t have such control of herself she would have snorted. She steered Sorel toward the younger woman till she was close enough for them to trot next to each other as if they were having an intimate conversation between ladies - men knew better than to eavesdrop on such things, always hoping their names were what was being discussed. “My dear Mrs. Devine, I believe you will find that most men prefer just such a challenge.” Especially when it came to the bedroom. Outside the privacy of the home they would not tote such things, but men did have a habit of liking strong women not meek little things like Ophelia Devine.
#6
Ophelia had been referring to the physical harms that could befall a woman from too many masculine activities, not... whatever Miss Nott was referring to. It was clear she didn't read Witch Weekly; their pages were bombarded with stories about women who couldn't conceive a child because they'd been out on broomsticks too often, or miscarried because they rode a horse over a bumpy road when pregnant. Everyone knew that, but Ophelia wasn't going to trot out the examples at a moment like this (and thereby admit that she read the often ill-reputed magazine they had been found in). Suffice it to say that Ophelia suspected — no, rather, she knew — that men did not appreciate the challenge, as Miss Nott put it, of having difficulty conceiving.

Perversely, reflecting on her own difficulties performing as a wife gave her a sense of satisfaction in her dealings with Miss Nott. Opheila, after all, had experience in an area where the other woman had none (or at least, ought to have none). You'll understand later, she found herself thinking, with a good deal of derision. A somewhat patronizing look came over her face as she responded. "I have very little care for what most men prefer; I need only take into account the preferences of one," she pointed out. "Perhaps once you're married, Miss Nott, you'll have a different perspective."
#7
There was no denying that the comment rankled, but Seraphina kept her face pleasantly neutral. They both knew the man in question and they both knew Seraphina’s interest in the matter. Besides it was clear that Mrs. Devine wasn’t quite taking into accounts the preferences of a certain man, or else why wouldn’t she be at home taking care of herself in anticipation of a little one.

Perhaps, Mrs. Devine. Perhaps.” She agreed neutrally. “But then again, perhaps you’ll find that with your own gentleman you might as well.
#8
Ophelia had absolutely no patience for Miss Nott implying that she was not pleasing her husband correctly. That was what she was implying, wasn't it? Ophelia wasn't sure if she was still flustered from the attempted hunt or if Miss Nott was being more dense or evasive than the average woman, but she was having trouble divining what exactly her comments were intended to convey. In any case, she wasn't going to loiter around and listen to this soon-to-be-spinster had to say about her marriage.

"I think our attention has been diverted too long," she said briskly. "Our party will begin to miss our company. Excuse me," she said, urging her horse forward and away from Miss Nott's side. She wanted to find her husband and stay near him the rest of the excursion — surely Miss Nott would not dare to say such catty things in his presence.
#9
"Yes, of course." Seraphina agreed easily. "Perhaps your next attempt shall prove more successful." Although judging by her tone Seraphina found this quite unlikely. With a gentle nudge she guided her mount back to those of the hunt, quite ready to put Mrs. Devine from her mind.


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