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Why Do Fools Fall in Love?
19th March, 1889 — Fraser Household
@Ewart Fraser

It had been a terribly dramatic afternoon and those were the sort that Ailsa not-so-secretly preferred above all others. Assuming nothing too awful happened of course - she wasn't a masochist! - but it was with a certainly spring in her step that she hurried up the path to her front door, hurriedly throwing it open and immediately calling for her husband, eager to share her delightfully exciting story with the one person in the world she knew would never look at her as though her pleasure in life was a misplaced emotion.  

"Ewart!" Ailsa practically skipped through the house, the slight throb in her ankle largely unimportant for the time being as she shed her cloak and hat, leaving them strewn in the hallway. Where on earth was he? His cloak was resting over a set of nesting tables she had purchased in Florence so he was definitely here somewhere...

She kicked off her shoes and leaned against the wall to examine her ankle, assessing whether she had a bruise already. There was definitely something there and no doubt she was black and blue all over from where she had been dragged along the floor - she needed a hot bath and witch hazel, but first she needed sympathy (and possibly somebody to help her soothe her tender body with said witch hazel).

"Darling, here you are!" She opened the door to his study with relief and flounced in, settling herself on the chaise by the fire he had brought in for when she visited him in his private sanctum and immediately pulled a pained face. "You won't believe what happened to me today."

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He had met with the committee this morning and since returned to his study after lunch, often finding his own space an easier place to work in than one of the Ministry rooms. He had made some progress over the hours, but on the whole it had been a rather dull Tuesday, and for the past half-hour the most Ewart had done was in amusing himself at devising a range of new and increasingly inefficient ways of cracking walnuts.

So his wife's entrance was by all means a welcome one, and her opening statement the sort to catch his attention at once. (It was perhaps untrue to presume he would not believe it - as Ailsa knew very well, Ewart Fraser had always been a man with an open mind.) Still, he sat up straighter to attention, cracking a walnut in his hand accidentally as he peered at her pained expression, and urged her on in a wave. "Then you must tell it, my dear," Ewart added keenly, "and I shall prepare myself to be astonished!" He might have taken leave to guess at what had occurred - but he did worry, at her expression, that her story looked like it might be more mishap than miracle. But, all the same! Mishaps, misery and misadventures still made for excellent stories, as long as one survived them.

Pulling a walnut shell out from underneath her thighs Ailsa nonchalantly let it fall to the floor as she settled herself more comfortably, propping her ankle up on the chaise in advance of using it in the tale later on. Ewart was an exceptional listener – he never looked anything less than rapt and very rarely interrupted her, and even then it was to make excellent interjections or to ask interesting questions.

Half the women she knew complained incessantly that their husbands mostly ignored them and Ailsa had always been horrified by the very thought. What was the point of getting married unless it was to somebody that loved your voice as much as they did every other part of you? How on earth did people live in the same house, share a life, make children for Merlin’s sake unless they were always on the same page?

Ailsa had always liked to think she and Ewart complimented each other particularly well; when she didn’t know something, he usually filled in the blanks and she was confident before she even asked her opening question – to set the tone – what his answer would probably be.

“Have you ever heard of a creature called a lethifold?”

He was after all, and whatever the accursed Ministry might think, a true thinker and scholar.

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Ewart’s eyebrows rose at the question, though it was an unexpected one. His mouth curved into a puzzled grin, trying to anticipate the story however it might tie in. For he did know what a Lethifold was, and had enough of a fondness for most creatures to know that the Lethifold was a rather dangerous magical beast. If one could call it a beast; its appearance was supposedly rather deceptive in that regard.

“That I have,” Ewart admitted, leaning forward in anticipation - and possibly a little in jealousy, if this mention was not a red herring to her adventures (marriage was an institution of sharing after all and, in his opinion, really ought to include near-death adventures!) - The Living Shroud, don’t they call it? But I don’t suppose you’ve been trekking around the tropics without telling me, have you?” His tone was only teasing, of course; he was sure he would have noticed if she had taken off on a spontaneous holiday. And she might’ve, if she liked - never let it be said the Frasers did not live freely.

“As if I’d go anywhere that interesting without you,” she retorted in the same tone, winking at her husband playfully. Perhaps they should go to the tropics? It would be a thrilling adventure and the house was always so quiet after the children went back to school… certainly food for thought but she had something much more pressing to consider at the moment and she leaned back against the chaise dramatically.

“I do believe somebody at Gladrag’s must be a smuggler,” Ailsa began dramatically, her intonation suggesting that that all of Diagon Alley was probably complicit in a criminal enterprise that spanned the whole street. “Or else a leithifold wouldn’t have given me this-” she pulled her robe aside to reveal her ankle which, pleasingly, was beginning to turn to an interesting shade of puce. “But he didn’t get the better of me darling,” she smiled triumphantly. “I caught him!”

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He beamed at her for that, trusting it to be true enough. Ailsa had the delightful ability to make any activity twice as fun by simply being there (and perhaps to indulge him even in those she might not find as fun to begin with.)

As her story unfolded, Ewart only wished he had been there - less to have played the hero himself, and more to have simply seen it. “Galloping gargoyles, my dear!” He exclaimed, eyes wide and mouth dropped open even wider, springing up from his chair to round his desk to her side for a closer look.

The leg was sorely bruised, but to say that was one’s only lasting mark of an encounter with such a beast - and an unexpected encounter, at that - surely had to be a rare thing. “Why, of course you did,” Ewart said, with a bemused beam, trying to picture the scene in the shop. “What did it have you doing, wrestling it?”

Wrestling it would certainly have created quite the scene in the shop, and Ailsa was almost sorry that it was so relatively sedate, but she had subdued a creature without even knowing what it was and she was damned if she wasn’t going to be proud of it! Even if she had done so by jumping on it which, though it lacked elegance, had definitely been effective.

“It wrapped itself around my ankle and dragged me to the floor but far from being overcome I kicked it away from me. It tried to pounce on some of the other women in the shop but through cunning and guile I lured it back and trapped it! Eventually the Ministry turned up, but I rather think they were useless at that point!” She finished with a sly grin, having little regard for the Ministry men that weren’t her husband – she would probably find it easier to be kind about them if they were kinder about Ewart! “Aren’t you proud of me darling?”

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Ewart let his mouth hang open, goldfish-like, as the events unfolded in her tale - but of course she had bested the creature; if anyone could, it was certainly her. Not that she had had much formal experience in the field of dangerous beasts and beings, but rather that Ailsa had all manner of talents... and, as evidenced, quicker reflexes than most.

“Proud is far too frail a word,” Ewart declared, coming to kneel by the chaise to inspect her ankle more closely. In awe, my love.” His solemn expression quirked upwards into something like amusement at her dismissal of the Ministry’s efforts (too little, too late; their usual fare). “They ought to have offered you a medal of valour,” Ewart remarked, quite seriously, before frowning down at the bruise as if he were any sort of healer. Still, he did not like to see any Fraser suffering under their own roof, heroics or otherwise. “Or some ice!”

“That would have been beyond them I suspect. They were all far too befuddled to do anything useful,” Ailsa quipped with a twitch of her lips as she rolled her ankle in his hand, enjoying the sensation of being looked after. The pain was already more or less gone – though she expected it would bruise further without witch hazel – but Ewart’s response had been everything she had wanted from him. He was so wonderfully obliging like that. How on earth some women managed being married to men who were not of their temperament she would never know: certainly they weren’t having as much fun!

“I, on the other hand, am as fast as a cat,” Ailsa stretched out gracelessly to wrap her arm around Ewart’s, holding him tight as she apparated them both to their bed. “And like a cat I prefer to stretch out,” she grinned, unreasonably pleased with herself.

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“Too quick by half,” Ewart teased, as Ailsa proved herself as quick of reflex as she was in wit. “And sly as a fox,” he added delightedly, as in a flash he found themselves in the privacy of their own bedroom. Not that downstairs hadn’t had privacy enough: but here was decidedly more comfortable. He had thought of soothing her soreness, but rest, relaxation and possibly a little distraction were just as much in order.

“I haven’t any medals for you,” he said, barely having caught his breath from the apparating but with a laugh and a gleam in his eye all the same, “but it would be remiss of me, I think, not to offer to kiss it better.” Perhaps he could do better than the ankle, though.

Medals were far from the only thing Ailsa could envision attached to her chest and she felt an immediate thrill at the prospect. A house without the children did have its advantages after all – and afternoons without interruption were definitely amongst them! Not that the children being in the house had ever stopped them…

“Hmm, I think you’re right,” Ailsa mumbled, lips already brushing teasingly against her husband’s jawline, the thrill of her victory over the lethifold thrumming in her blood and propelling her up into Ewart’s lap. Her injury had been largely forgotten but even so she still wanted her husband’s caring embrace and to have her own frisky way.

“Shall we?”

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One could not say Ailsa did not bounce back swiftly from a setback. It was one of the things Ewart loved about her - though of course, in that regard, there were a very great many. (This might not be quite the time to count them.)

“We shall indeed.”

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