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"Angelica" Warrington for Myles Warrington.
I hold my peace, sir? no; No, I will speak as liberal as the north; Let heaven and men and devils, let them all, All, all, cry shame against me, yet I’ll speak.
He has touched my ankle and seen me with my hair down (not intentionally, of course!), so I'm pretty sure I already know what it feels like to be married.Helga Scamander in Helga's Boy Book
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In the Midnight Hour
5th April, 1890 — Fenny's Flat
@Ester Montgomery

The insistent knocking at her door in the dead of night was an unfortunate necessity in her line of work and Fenny had resigned herself to it long ago. It helped that she was rarely asleep on these occasions of course – the tranquillity of twilight was far more conducive to letting one’s mind wander, even if tranquillity was a questionable way to describe this particular nook of London.

Using the blunt of her knife she carefully sectioned off the bat spleens she had been meticulously chopping and wiped her hands on an apron that had seen better days. Underneath her fingers the material was rough, far from the relative luxury of the soft cotton she had learned her trade wearing but it hardly mattered. She had discovered that potions worked just as well brewed in squalor as they did in bourgeois comfort.

“Hang on!”

The knocking continued – she rolled her eyes, guessing who it was likely to be – and ran a hand though her hair as she opened the door, resigning herself to the fact there was no taming it now.

“Shit, you look like you need a drink.”

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Ester knocked again. She hadn’t been able to sit still, let alone sleep. And there was absolutely no way Fenella was tucked up in bed either, so why should she be taking so bloody long to let her in?

“Charming,” Ester pretended to sniff at the greeting, tossing her hair over her shoulder to pointedly make herself look a little neater; although Fenny had clearly been in the middle of something, because she had an apron on, and it looked like there was tiny little bit of spleen in her hair. Too tired to point this out, and too impatient to wait for a proper invitation, Ester breezed into the flat, casting a cursory look at the potion counter without having the faintest idea what she was brewing and not curious enough to ask.

“I’d rather something else,” she answered next, not sure even the strongest liquor Fenny had would give her quite as fitful a rest as she wanted. She’d take a drink if nothing else, naturally, but that probably all depended on how generous the potioneer was feeling. She added a little honey to her tone in hopefulness. “But anything you have will do.”

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Closing the door with some deference to the fact that she had neighbours who were likely already gearing up to complain to the landlord in the moment Fenny sighed and poured out a generous measure of gin into a clean-ish glass. Her own was nestled next to the spleens, far enough away that she was confident none had flown in, and she handed over Ester’s as she crossed the room back to her workbench.

“I have something stronger if you want it,” she offered, as though offering coffee rather than tea, a garibaldi instead of a tea biscuit. From what she knew of Ester’s life before all of this those probably were the things nice, well brought up ladies such as themselves would have blandly spoke about – not whether she wanted the neat gin Fenny bought cheap from the same supplier that came to the Leaky Cauldron or the opiates she sourced from muggle chemists who didn’t even see her confundus charms coming.

The latter fact was a closely guarded secret. It wouldn’t do for her customers to know how fucking easy it actually was to forget reality for a few hours. Or that some customers – special ones she had a soft spot for – paid next to nothing.

“On the house as you asked so nicely.”

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Ester took the proferred gin regardless, thankful for anything that might take the edge off. She spent the next moment or two searching for a chair to perch in - somewhere comfortable, but still in view of whatever it was Fenella was brewing up - but even as she chose, she decided she couldn’t bear to sit, anyway, and just padded around the room back and forth and then to the darkened window.

Not without tossing her friend a pleased look that she hadn’t had to do much badgering tonight. (Unless Fenella was making fun.) “Oh Fenny, you are my favourite,” Ester exclaimed, drawing out her vowels in emphasis and leaning back against the windowsill as she tipped another mouthful of gin down her throat. Medicinal just like the rest, she told herself, and sighed aloud. “I’m terribly glad I’m not the only one awake.”

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Addicts were significantly easier to placate then any subgroup of humans that Fenny had ever met before and she watched, slightly bemused, as Ester paced the floor, practically twitching with expectation. She would hand it to the other woman – compared to some of the others she at least managed some dignity and the smile that grew on her face was either attractive or Fenella’s eyes were beginning to grow fuzzy in the dark and everything looked that much better.

“ You’d be beating the odds to find me asleep,” Fenny offered in the spirit of companionship, her lip twisting grimly, as she wiped her hands on her apron and took a mouthful of her own drink. “You’ll have to give me a minute to mix it up,” she lied, knowing full well that at least three bottles of opiates sat in her drawer though she was diluting the liquid so it was a sort of mixing.

Fortunately Ester was probably too far gone to notice.

“How have you been lately? Any new adventures to report?”

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A minute. She couldn’t fathom whether that minute was more likely to feel like the blink of an eye or a whole ten years, but Ester was not in a position to disagree. Fenny’s friendship was just too convenient to disagree with any part of it.

How had she been? New adventures? Well, that was a question that probably didn’t deserve the truth. Getting plastered and then writing letters to my teenage son, Ester decided not to say. She wasn’t sure when she’d last slept, either. So she wracked her brain for something else. Her head felt a bit... marshmallowy.

“Dear, it’s Easter, didn’t you know?” Ester declared instead, with more authority than she ought to have, since she wasn’t convinced of which day it was but vaguely felt like it might have been yesterday or today or tomorrow. “I’ve been at church all day.” She had done her best to keep a straight face, but suppressing the laugh was enough to see her swaying on the spot, so eventually she let out a little of it. “Repenting of my sins!”

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Barking out at laugh Fenny had a sudden vision of the other woman disguised in a church, repenting with dubious sincerity until such time as the priest’s back was turned and she could steal the communion wine. It seemed a great deal more Ester’s speed.

“Sins? You?” Fenny replied, finishing her gin in one swift mouthful and grimacing at the burn. “I never would have thought.”

Picking the right vial from her drawer Fenny frowned as she quickly counted its companions – she was running low, best to do another run soon and stock up. The rent wasn’t due for a week but she had grown very accustomed to having a stash of drugs and cash available just in case.

“I don’t suppose you’ve tried this? The Germans are saying it’s non-addictive.”

Which would be terrible for business so she only hoped their claims were utter bull.

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She smirked serenely at the laughter. “And what blasphemy have you been cooking up?” She countered, glancing towards the potions bench.

The rummaging in the drawer distracted her somewhat, her curiosity piqued by anything remotely new. “Well, god bless Mr. -” she squinted at the label, laughing again - “Bayer!” She turned her attentions back to Fenny. “No, I haven’t. Is it any good?”

Not that Fenny seemed to take many of the things she supplied herself, but Ester - perhaps out of laziness more than anything - trusted her expertise implicitly. (And not that Ester was worried about addictions. She was perfectly in control of her desires, thank you very much. She was only here for fun.)

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