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New Blood
#1
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June 30th, 1889 — Church of St Fergus

...a new member of our flock...

Blythe's attention picked up at the words as she looked to where Mr. Dursley had gestured to find a woman not much older than she herself, and certainly an unfamiliar face. Newcomers to the church were always welcome for myriad reasons, not least of which because they would expand Blythe's social circle which was, she knew, rather restricted by her aunt's influence. But it was the next words that truly send a spark of surprise and interest through her: ..these past years as a missionary.

She, her aunt, and many other members of their church were set to depart for Africa the next day, a fact that had the witch feeling decidedly nauseous all week. But this Miss...Miss Burbage looked at least to be much like Blythe. True, one should not judge by outward appearances but by inward godliness, she knew, but it was an encouraging observation nonetheless, and she found herself shifting to appraise the newcomer frequently during the service—enough so that she earned a few harsh looks from Aunt Temperance.

When the service was over, Blythe found herself on the periphery of a crowd that had formed around the newcomer, a fact that she did not envy: to be the center of such attention would cause her to simply drop dead from her nerves! At last, though, it dissipated enough that Blythe herself could sneak in, could address the newcomer herself. For a moment, she thought she would not know what to say, until...

"Excuse me, Miss Burbage? Blythe Fairchild. Please, be welcome," she offered graciously.
@Ebba Burbage; invitational once she posts @Adam Ragge, @Wendell Banges and @Akash Patil


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#2
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Familiar though she was with the experience of being in an entirely new place, and subsequently being looked at in those new places, it did not stop the immediate blush that had come upon Ebba’s face when she was all-but pointed out to the congregation. She had her aunt by her side to guard her but after the service she had been swept up by acquaintances and left Ebba to fend for herself for the time being.

Which might have been fine but the people of Irvingly were not put off by her otherness and instead crowded towards her, practically smothering her with the sort of greetings she could well do without. They meant well, she knew they did deep down, but they couldn’t begin to imagine how little she wished to recount her tales of foreign lands before she even had a handle on where to get a cup of tea after the service.

Smiling benignly she turned from the latest person to introduce themselves – a mottled, middle-aged man who spoke highly of her uncle, a man she had barely seen awake yet – and found herself nearly colliding with a much younger face.

“Thank you,” she replied automatically, managing a smile for Miss Fairchild. “It’s all a little overwhelming,” she added, not for the first time that evening and quite without being asked. “Though I suppose one congregation is much like another.”

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#3
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"Oh, but we must be so ordinary compared to what you're used to!" Blythe exclaimed in protest before she could think better of it, though her expression as she heard the words leave her tongue suggested she was more surprised than most people would be in a conversation.


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#4
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Ordinary was not, in Ebba’s experience, the worst thing in the world to be but she chuckled gamely all the same, as though it were not the deepest secret of her heart that she yearned for something a little more ordinary sometimes. She didn’t want to be a novelty. She wanted to tend the needy and serve the Lord and have a friend!

“Far from it I can assure you,” she glanced towards the window. “Everything seems remarkable to my eyes at the moment.”
#5
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Adam had listened to the introduction during the service and felt a little bad for the newest member of the church. With their own mission trip looming so near, he was sure that she would be nearly mobbed after the sermon. Everyone was anxious to know what to expect — both those who were going and those who couldn't, for whatever reason, and he imagined she would be recanting tales of her own missionary exploits until the sun went down, or until she found a way to flee the church, whichever came first. He might have wanted to talk to her himself if it didn't seem like such an awful imposition, for a girl he hadn't even properly met yet. She would want some time to settle in, of course, and Adam was inclined to let her have it.

Although he'd expected someone to latch on to her immediately following the service, he was a bit surprised to find that it was Blythe. Maybe she was more anxious about Africa than she was letting on, and was trying to assuage her nerves with a little last-minute pep talk. Making his way over towards the pair, he asked his friend lightly, "Is she telling you all the secrets of the trade?"

Not that saving souls could be called a trade, necessarily, but he wasn't sure there was a more succinct phrase for it.
#6
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"I had thought to ease into that," Blythe answered with a genuine, if slightly faltering, smile. She did not wish to burden Miss Burbage with questions (though she DID hope the missionary would have the answers she sought!), nor to burden Mr. Ragge with her worries.

But burdensome, it seemed, was one of Blythe Fairchild's defining characteristics.


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#7
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Quite what secrets she had to impart - or indeed what her trade was - Ebba was far from sure. All her life she had simply done as she was told and it had never occurred to her that the skills and experiences she had might be of interest to others, much less this pair of friends who, she assumed, had places in the world or possibly even professions. Ebba herself had never longed to do anything but help others but to be useful to society at large was just as good and she had no notion of how to go about doing that.

“Do you intend to undertake missionary work Miss Fairchild?” She asked, eyes alight with awkward joy. She so longed for a friend of similar passions as her own but she had never yet found such a person and certainly didn’t wish to impose herself upon another. “It truly is the most rewarding thing to help others as the Lord instructed.”
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#8
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It hadn't occurred to Adam that the newcomer wouldn't have heard about the Africa trip, particularly since it had been the only thing on his mind for the past week at least, but of course it made sense. She had only arrived an hour ago, after all — at least to their church, which was the only place she could reasonably be expected to hear about mission trips to Africa. Although it had made the paper a few times, with headlines of various sizes, it was hardly the buzz on the streets. Only two dozen of them were involved, or something along those lines, which was a rather small portion of wizarding England, all things considered.

"Oh, we're going to Africa," he informed her. "The church sponsored a mission trip — the first one we've put together, I think," he added. He certainly didn't remember hearing about one during the time that he'd been attending the church. Although it might not have been as relevant to him while he was still a student, he thought it would have been too big a piece of news to go unnoticed. "It leaves this week."


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