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Happy Easter
April 21, 1889 — Easter Sunday — Darrow House, Swallowbury

Their particular branch of the Darrow family had never been particularly devout growing up, but there were certain times of year that anyone who even pretended to be a Christian had to drag themselves off to church, and Easter was one of them. Since his extended holiday abroad, Alfred was no longer sure he was even pretending to be a Christian, but it had always been a family tradition to spend Easter Sunday together, and Evander was the only immediate family that Alfred had left. When he'd gotten the invitation he'd agreed immediately, and then he'd enchanted a calendar to remind him three times so that he wouldn't forget and go about his usual Sunday routine instead — namely, sleeping in and doing very little of anything that could be considered productive.

In the wake of Monday evening's events he had forgotten about it, until the calendar reminded him with a loud and obnoxiously chipper alarm. He'd contemplated trying to excuse himself, but what could he possibly say? Nothing less than a dramatic injury would really be a good excuse for missing Easter, and if he pretended to have a dramatic injury, Evander would probably offer to come visit him instead, which wouldn't solve the problem. He'd still have to spend the day with his brother, but he'd also have to clean the flat in anticipation of his visit. Not to mention remembering to keep up his fake injury the entire day, and then staging a gradual recovery over the course of the following days or weeks. Not worth the effort, he decided; going to Evander's was definitely the lesser of two evils.

So he'd gone. He'd tried to be pleasant. He just wasn't doing a very good job of it. He'd spent most of the week wallowing in self-pity and ruminating on his mistakes, which wasn't a habit easily set aside for a day to be resumed when he returned home. He kept finding himself drifting off and thinking about other things when Evander was talking, or fidgeting nervously with the buttons on his shirt cuffs. He'd brushed his hair back into something moderately respectable before coming, but had forgotten about looking presentable and mussed it back to its usual unruly mess before long. He was noncommitally sculpting a bit of mashed potatoes into a plateau with his fork when he realized that Evander was staring at him in that way that people do when they've asked a question and are waiting for an answer. Alfred had missed the question.

"Sorry," he said, pushing some mashed potatoes onto his fork self-consciously, to keep up the appearance of eating and enjoying the food even though he wasn't feeling hungry. "What was that?"
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   Evander Darrow
Evander had always been glad to have tradition to fall back on. His brother might be back from the dead - might be the closest family he had left, at least in theory - but it often felt, with how little they saw each other, that it almost didn't count.

Evander felt appropriately guilty about this, of course (how his brother felt, he could not fathom; Johnny likely did not despair over the prospect of not seeing him regularly) but they did not have their parents or even their sister to coax them together anymore. So: tradition. Because, without their parents to gather them together on Easter Sunday, the duty had fallen to him. Not that he begrudged this, because he had been wracking his brain for a good excuse to invite Johnny - Alfred - round, but could hardly arrange something like that without an excuse. Come for dinner, he could've said, a vague open invitation, but he would've felt like a fool and his brother never would have come. I'd like to hear how you're getting on, he could have said, only then John would know he worried about him, and (if he did not mock him for it) would only be awkward about that, and no doubt Evander would feel awkward too. Nor did he want to force the matter, didn't want to make it seem that he was obligating Alfred to see him or making a habit of it, to trying to meddle in his life -

So, Easter. Easter was the safest option.

Evander was beginning to feel that he oughtn't have bothered (with any of it, but especially not jotting down a carefully-ordered list of conversation topics to work through), because he may as well have been eating Easter dinner with a brick wall. Except a brick wall had rather more solid a presence than his brother, so a... passing cloud?

"I was asking how your London flat was holding up," Evander repeated dubiously, not because he knew anything about his brother's new accommodation, but because he had begun to wonder whether, after all this time, his brother still hadn’t fully regained the ability to use cutlery in the proper fashion again. He watched the mashed potatoes sliding on and off the end of Alfred's fork, trying not to ruminate on how (or what) he had eaten in the jungle. Perhaps he needed cutlery lessons. His brows beginning to knit together, Evander decided his concerned observations warranted an unexpected change of conversational plan. "Are you - quite well?"

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   Ophelia Devine

"I'm fine," Alfred said immediately, pushing himself up so that he wasn't slouching quite so much. He wasn't, particularly, but the last thing he wanted to do was talk to Evander about it, so he'd better put on a good show of being fine. A better show than he had been putting on up until this point, apparently. He put a small bite of potatoes in his mouth and swallowed without taking the time to taste it.

"The flat's fine. Not cursed anymore. Did I mention it was cursed?" he said a bit distantly. He realized after bringing it up that he probably hadn't, since he and Evander didn't talk very frequently or in any degree of depth. He probably could have never brought it up and that would have been better, but it was too late for that now. "Not, uh, seriously cursed. Just rather inconvenient, really. A friend of mine was able to come by and fix it, though."

Friend. Zelda Fisk had been the one to stop by and fix it, but he certainly wasn't going to mention that. The best case scenario if he brought up Zelda's visit would be receiving a lecture from Evander about the impropriety of inviting unaccompanied girls over to his flat; the worst case — well, the conversation could get very unpleasant for him, to say the least.

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