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Remember, Remember
5th November, 1889 — Bonfire Night Celebration at a country house
Halloween was perhaps favoured by the wizarding world at large - it had a sense of irony, didn’t it, in a society where witches and ghosts and ghouls were more than flight and fearsome fancy? - but only a few days later, the fifth of November brought with it a staple holiday of Britishness, one continually celebrated, a little nonsensically, by muggles and wizards alike. Evander suspected it was less about Guy Fawkes and gunpowder these days and more the primitive thrills of burning an effigy on a bonfire, an occasion for some hot food and drinks in the crisp autumn air, and an excuse for fireworks.

Any excuse for fireworks.

The invitation tonight had been extended by a Ministry colleague, so Evander had not had it in him to decline it, even if there had been a larger society crowd invited than he might have liked. Still, it was not too stuffy an affair (indeed, ordinarily he might have thought it not stuffy enough for him) the party set out on the patio looking across the bonfire on the lawn, cloaks clasped at people’s throats, and the stars sprinkled above, constellations clearer than they often were on a cloudy night. But he had enjoyed it, in spite of himself: the bonfire was still roaring away, and some of the more boisterous members of the party experimenting with magical fires on the lawn; in the flickering firelight and the open space, the house’s gardens open to guests’ wanderings, there was a curious lack of pressure to interact with anyone. A little more room to breathe.

Evander wrapped his hands around the mug of hot cider he was holding steady against the flourishing enchanted fireworks display, visions striking in the sky with more embellishment and animation than muggles could afford, sparks that formed outlines of magical creatures, the Hogwarts towers, even one of Merlin’s bearded face. He watched them with a degree more appreciation than usual; he had not forgotten the boggart on Diagon Alley, and the display that had defeated it. Nothing like a flashing, ear-popping, riotous scene of noise and colour to distract one quite thoroughly from one’s anxieties.

The fireworks were not the only thing that had caught Evander’s eye here tonight. Perhaps it was because the fireworks had forced the day to the forefront of his mind, or in truth because it had been there for the last few weeks anyway, but he had spotted just who had faced the boggart with him, here, just a few feet away, and had recognised her instantly.

Their introductions had been cut short, however, and their meeting not the most conventional to begin with, so he dithered over whether or not to go over, though he thought he wanted to. She had left in a hurry - having only been given his name and a glimpse of his worst fears, as one did! - and though she had seemed quite good-natured about it all at the time, he could not fathom what she had truly made of the encounter. (Had they been really introduced, or would she think it presumptuous if he approached her now? Had he properly expressed his gratitude to her already? Would it be worth thanking her again? What if she had simply been laughing about it with her friends for a fortnight? Should he really risk reminding her?)

A shower of red and gold sparks hissed out above as Evander stood there, looking sidelong and caught up in contemplation of what was most appropriate to do. Before he had quite decided, however, she looked across his way - had almost certainly seen him, if she recognised him at all - and, so as not to miss the moment, he shot her a small smile, and raised his eyebrows a fraction as if to gesture at the fireworks, and see whether she had found the funny side of this too.

The closest thing that Caroline had found the British people celebrate to the fourth of July was November fifth. While the spirit of the event was altogether different, the merriment (and fireworks) were much the same. Besides, it was quite enjoyable to have something to celebrate (even if Caroline didn’t fully understand why they were celebrating it) as fall began to fade and winter arrive.

She had been introduced to the holiday last year at a party one of Shawn’s associates had hosted, this year it was her own social ties, well established after almost two years in England, that had merrited the invitation. As a social person Caroline was grateful for the opportunity to celebrate, despite her knowledge of the event and was quite enjoying herself watching the fireworks, her new warm ermine trimmed cloak about her shoulders. The chill reminded her of home and rather than seeming cold while enjoying the event she was quite comfortable - Hope’s charm work might have helped too as the cloak seemed to be as warm as the outside of a teacup full of tea.

As awe inspiring as the fireworks were, Caroline was taking the opportunity to watch the people around her. It had only been a few weeks since she last saw fireworks. These, while fantastic, lacked the amusement of the bangs and whirls the boggart’s fireworks had done.

Across the way a gentleman caught her eye. Mr. Darrow. She had not seen him since the Diagon Alley incident, as she had taken to calling it. She supposed that was not altogether unexpected as she had not yet met him during her time in England. But now seeing him she wondered if she had simply not noticed him before. He seemed a reasonable enough fellow. From what she had gathered of the boggart papers he was someone that would be worth knowing. He had talked her through how to banish the boggart, and while perhaps lacking a sense of humor (who wouldn’t when faced with their deepest fears) Caroline’s own opinion of him was rather fond of him.

As if realizing she were looking Mr. Darrow looked her way with a small smile, his eyebrows raising at the display they were watching. If a fan had been appropriate in such a situation Caroline might had brought it out to indicate she too found the scene before them amusing given their last meeting. Instead she let a small almost mischievous smile tickle her lips as she bowed her head toward him in acknowledgement. While she did wish to speak with him again, she knew that any good woman acted coquettish in such a situation and as such he would need to approach her. She glanced up at him through her eyelashes as if she were somewhat shy, playing the part well.

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Amazing MJ set!
He might’ve waved, if he hadn’t been holding the cider. He might’ve waved, if it wouldn’t have looked foolish. He had half-hoped she would save him the uncertainty and approach him, but she hadn’t moved an inch.

She had smiled, though. He was sure she had understood what he was thinking about the scene before them, had maybe been thinking it already. As for the smile: it felt conspiratorial but not the least bit cruel, a little amused, brief and restrained and elegant but encouraging. The incline of her head was encouraging, too - she might not have come over, but at least she had acknowledged him.

What was he supposed to do now? Not ignore her, obviously. He had been in society long enough to be well aware of the rules... Though not yet long enough, apparently, to actually be comfortable talking to women. Even the young ones.

(Especially the young ones.)

And she was not otherwise engaged at the moment, which Evander considered presented a sliver of a chance amidst an evening in which she had likely been immersed in other conversations, and although they had a footing of familiarity, he certainly didn’t know her well enough to interrupt anyone else. So, well, better say hello now. It needn’t be so difficult as he was making it. He swallowed (despite not having taken a sip of his cider in the last five minutes), glanced away from her and back again. There was something in her coy look, though, that eased his own reticence, and so he found himself carefully weaving past the other partygoers to her side before he had quite gathered the appropriate courage to.

Because he hadn’t figured out what to say to her, yet. He murmured a good evening and bowed his head to give himself the time to figure that out, privately quite pleased when another ear-splitting rocket went off in the sky and gave him a beat longer to come up with something. “You haven’t gotten too bored of fireworks yet, then?”

For a moment Caroline worried that it hadn’t worked, worried that perhaps he found her charm lacking or might dislike her for having been the one to successfully cast the spell against the boggart (had that been less lady like than he would have liked?). But her worries were quelled when he arrived at her shoulder. Apparently she had not yet lost her charms.

Good evening.” She murmured taking care to widen her eyes and smile charmingly at him as a perfect docile young lady might. It was important to test out the waters before making too great of an impression of anything other than perfect , or rather perfectly polite.

Above them another firework momentarily captured Caroline’s attention as it scattered red sparks into the sky with a loud crack. Half the ladies in attendance flinched but Caroline smiled at it instead. Mr. Darrow too, seemed not to miss a beat.

I doubt I could.” Caroline admitted with an indulgent smile, leaning slightly forward as if about to admit a secret, “I’ve loved fireworks since I was a little girl. They are just so...captivating.” Her face was almost wistful as she recalled the days she use to watch the fireworks over the Boston harbor pretending that she was a ship captain in a battle. “And yourself, Mr. Darrow? How do you find them?

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Amazing MJ set!
She might have seemed shy from a distance, but she seemed to have no difficulties in conversation. She was not put off in the least by the firework, nor his question - indeed, she looked quite at ease. He supposed there was no reason to be surprised; even stumbling upon a scene that she had not created, the young woman had acted more convincingly than he had, and faster too. He might’ve made a right pig’s ear out of banishing the boggart without her help.

He didn’t suppose he would have thought of fireworks, either. She might have loved them since she was a girl (how long was that, really, to anyone else, even if she had enjoyed them her whole life? A decade or two? Peanuts, really), but Evander could not remember ever liking them as a boy, or a young man. They were loud and uncomfortable things, flashy grandeur, pointless pollution. One could find any old reason for celebrating with them, be it a new year, a plot on parliament, merely someone shouting out to the world about their successes.

And banishing boggarts, too. It had felt satisfying, he had to admit it after all. Maybe that was in the doing, instead of always spectating.

He had to smile at her answer as she confessed it. “Very captivating, indeed,” he echoed, hardly about to say anything lacklustre about fireworks now that she had called them captivating! “Oh, I am glad for the opportunity to see them again so soon,” he said quite sincerely, his eyes lingering a little longer on her than the debris from the last explosion as the sparks arced downwards. “I have quite the newfound... appreciation. But, I must admit -” and his smile quirked a little further at the corner, confidentially, “it is a little easier to enjoy their full effects tonight.” (Not on the back of being threatened with public failure, that was.)

There was a certain … language to flirting, a give and take full of innuendos and hidden meanings if only one knew what to listen for. Mr. Darrow, certainly seemed to understand this, she was quite certain his topic ‘fireworks’ was indeed not fireworks, but rather herself. She took the compliment with a beguiling smile, looking at him from beneath her eyelashes as she agreed that she took was glad to see fireworks again so soon. What gentleman didn’t like to think a lady was glad to see him again so soon after their last meeting? “I am as well.” She admitted.

Truly?” Caroline continued their conversation as if it were simply about fireworks. “I admit, I always find them more enjoyable in the right company.” She looked at his smile finding that she rather enjoyed the feeling it gave her of being in on a private joke. “And without any boggarts about.” She teased gently, a look of merriment on her face.

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Amazing MJ set!
Evander had, in fact, been talking about fireworks. Nor could he fathom that they might be talking about anything else, given the structure of their conversation.

She seemed to wholeheartedly like fireworks; it would have been more awkward to disagree with her inclination, after hearing it. He nodded at her truly?, just to make it plain. He might be emphasising his enjoyment of them slightly, yes, but he was still grateful for the boggart, and he hadn’t thought it would hurt.

That he was rather glad to see her again had not been intended to factor into anything he’d said.

If he were honest, she was a little distracting, though. Whether the conversation had been on fireworks or the International Statute of Secrecy, Evander supposed he would be having some trouble paying the utmost attention to what was being said, what with the engaging way she was smiling, and the peculiar way she was looking up at him from under her eyelashes. He could not think what he could have done to cause it - had to assume it had nothing to do with him at all - because, usually, the women he conversed with did no such thing. He might be slow to notice these matters, but he had seen enough smiles, which though cordial, did not always meet the eyes; had witnessed ladies, even having been lively at first, glaze over from boredom if their conversations lasted long enough. (Which they did not, very often. When he did come to notice such things, even belatedly, Evander usually had the sense of self-preservation to surrender, to make a swift retreat.)

So, if he had had any inkling what her fluttering eyelashes were about, he would have been quite taken aback. As it was, her comment about the right company was the only clue he had that she might be genuinely pleased to see him, a thought that might have made his stomach flip if he had been ten years younger and had any hope left. “We must count our good luck, then.” He supposed there was a faint flush on his face, but one that might hopefully only be ascribed to the cold air. As it was, all he could consciously do was smile back at her and her good-natured teasing, taking her direct mention of the boggart to solemnly readdress what he felt he hadn’t had a proper chance to say before. “And I must thank you again for your help that day in Diagon Alley,” he confessed, thinking of her creativity and quick-thinking combined. “You caught me at rather a - moment,” he explained wryly, with a quick sheepish grimace, “but I hope you will not think me always so incapable as that?” That was, if she were likely to give him any more thought at all.

Personally Caroline did not feel that it was luck that created such circumstances as decent company, but she was willing to accept what she felt was a compliment, “Indeed.” Caroline agreed with a good natured smile.

The boggart. Ah, yes. Likely wounded male pride as well. But Caroline smiled at him and waved his gratitude off. “I shall certainly think nothing else of you, sir. I think we all would have reacted the same when faced with a boggart. I simply had the good fortune of only having had to face a confused one - and,” She turned to face him with another smile on her face, “An excellent teacher in the moment.” For once there was hardly any motives in her conversation other than wishing the gentleman would not think ill of the situation.

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Amazing MJ set!
He had very well asked for her reassurances, but they still did the trick all the same to make him feel better about himself. She had left in such haste that day that he had worried, whatever she had said, and Evander, being an anxious person, was liable to lose sleep over things if he had not deemed them neatly tied up, resolved and put away.

And she had called him an excellent teacher, which he was thrilled about though he tried to show nothing of it. Polite words for politeness’ sake, and nothing more. There was nothing to be gained from hanging on a stranger’s words and savouring them as though they must be true. (Especially as agreeable a stranger as this.) “That’s very kind of you,” he murmured, his hands shifting around his warm cider, glad to have something to occupy them with and keep himself at ease. “I don’t think I’ve had cause to face one since my schooldays,” he admitted, a little more casually and a little more comfortably now.

(He wanted to remark on the form the boggart had attempted to take when it registered her being there, but the question was hardly appropriate - prying, really - bordered on insensitive. One ought to be able to keep one’s worst fears to oneself. So, whether her sitting room horrorshow had been a physical remnant of her past or symbolising something more metaphorical, Evander filed his curiosity away in the back of his mind.) Instead, he suffered to ask a curious question that would not feel too demanding, he hoped, given how little he knew about the young lady. He had a hunch otherwise, but it would be nice to have it confirmed. “I don’t suppose you attended Hogwarts yourself, did you? If you mind me asking - only your accent is most unusual.” (Well, uncommon to hear here, if not entirely unusual, but it did have a rather colonial ring to it.)

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