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EASY AS MUTTON?
#1
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28th April, 1890 — The James Residence

Tonight was a very important night. Tonight was the night where Harper would prove to Philip that he could also cook. Of course, he was sure that Philip was not expecting fine dining, and Harper was not expecting to produce that, but Philip had cooked so often for Harper he had to make it perfect. So, he had made sure he wasn't on call at the Hospital that day, sent his two maids and footman out on a day off, purchased 2 lbs of mutton and all the necessary ingredients to make a simple mutton curry, and then used one of those pounds to make three practice batches. By the end of the afternoon, he was fairly confident it wouldn't be terrible.

So, as the appointed hour drew near, Harper retreated to the kitchen, a room he still felt incredibly uncomfortable in, and started on the meal. As he chopped the onions and mutton and began frying them in the curry powder, he could appreciate the mechanical nature of the task. It was calming and structured. But as it came time to add the water and wait for it to stew, he felt more and more pressure. He was nervous. No, he was incredibly nervous. He wasn't sure exactly why. Probably just a lot of imagined pressure on this meal. It was just a polite thank you that was all. Right? Why was this pot just not stewing fast enough!

A loud rapping on the front door jolted him from his thoughts and he realised that it had been more than enough time. Frantically he added a teacupful of milk, replaced the lid and rushed to the door, removing his apron along the way and throwing on his tuxedo jacket instead. Taking a second to breathe and smooth down his jacket, he threw open the door with a beaming smile. "Philip! Just on time! Please do come in."

@Philip Aymslowe
#2
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The night that he would be eating over at Harper's had come and Philip wasn't sure what to expect. He was used to eating other peoples food - he employed a cook after all. But Harper had learned to cook to do this. He had finished up at work and was momentarily a little off kilter at the change in routine. Usually Harper came to him for dinner but this time, it would be the other way around.

He bid good bye to his mother who looked at him suspiciously for reasons that Philip couldn't get out of her. Giving up on that, he made his way to Harper's.

He knocked on the door and smiled as his friend threw open the door. "Am I under-dressed?" He asked teasingly for he was wearing a typical day-suit of a middle class man but Harper was looking a lot more dapper. Then again, he always was in Philip's opinion.


#3
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Of course Philip would still be wearing a day suit to a dinner. Harper had deliberately avoided putting on full evening dress, but even with the more informal tuxedo jacket he was still overly dressed. Should he have dressed down even more to match? Was that a big mistake on his part? And why did he care so much! "No of course not, but I do recall the invitation being for a dinner not an afternoon luncheon." Harper laughed as he waved Philip inside and shut the door behind him.

"Please do come through to the dining room. Dinner is almost ready and I just need to go fetch it shortly. Until then we can converse through here." He said, holding his arm out to a door at the end of the hallway, behind which was the dining room. As he turned to walk towards it, he grimaced when he was sure that his face was properly turned away from Philip. Now why was he being so overly formal? What was wrong with him tonight? For goodness sake Harper this was just a friend coming over for dinner!
#4
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"I'm sorry, I ran a little late with work or I would have dressed a little nicer. But you look great," Philip assured with a smile. He stepped into Harpers home and thought he could smell a bit of curry in the air.

Philip eyed Harper curiously, wondering why his friend was being so oddly formal with him. "All right," he said with a smile as he followed Harper to the door that Harper had indicated. "Your home looks quite nice - interesting wall color." Harper was being overly formal which had Philip feeling awkward. Surely he could think of a better conversation topic than the decor.


#5
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"I'm sorry, I ran a little late with work or I would have dressed a little nicer. But you look great," Philip assured with a smile. He stepped into Harpers home and thought he could smell a bit of curry in the air.

Philip eyed Harper curiously, wondering why his friend was being so oddly formal with him. "All right," he said with a smile as he followed Harper to the door that Harper had indicated. "Your home looks quite nice - interesting wall color." Harper was being overly formal which had Philip feeling awkward. Surely he could think of a better conversation topic than the decor.

[/quote]
The compliment from Philip was lovely, and definitely went a way to helping Harper feel more comfortable and less anxiously formal. But there was that lingering sense of quiet panic bubbling away underneath him, much like the curry was bubbling away in the other room. He needed to get away and collect his thoughts before he got more weird. So, Harper opened the door and stepped aside, allowing Philip to enter first.

”Thank you Philip - you’re too kind. Yes I think this lighter sage green is a bit unusual but certainly makes a statement.” The dining room was done up in much more traditional darker reds and greens, and Harper had already set two seats at the table. Not at each of the far ends of the table but directly across from each other at one end. Some floating candles scattered around the room providing a warm and consistent light. ”I’ve given the staff the day off so I don’t embarrass myself learning to cook in front of them, so I will just run and get dinner. Please make yourself comfortable I shan’t be a moment.” With that he quickly walked off around the corner to the kitchen, heaving a sigh of relief when he got there.
#6
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Philip entered the room and smiled at his friend as Harper spoke about his walls colors. "It suits you," he said genuinely. Though how it actually suited Harper James, Philip probably wouldn't have been able to really say - it just did.

Philip felt like the room had a rather intimate feel but he didn't know if that was all in his head or not. "All right, I'll be waiting right here," Philip said, not going to a seat but instead taking the time to admire the dining room. Between the dining room and the kitchen, Philip tended to take great interest in these rooms in any house.


#7
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The pot of curry had been simmering away for a little while now. For precisely how long Harper wasn't entirely sure. He may have lost track of time since Philip arrived. Which had thrown him for a total loop, and he still wasn't sure why. Maybe he should whip up a draught of peace later. But for now all he needed to do was add a splash of tamarind water and vinegar and the curry was ready. Transferring it into a silver serving bowl, he carried it back around into the dining room.

Rounding the corner, he found Philip standing near the table. "Here we are then - mutton curry. And I don't know what came over me earlier, I think I must be stressed about you judging my cooking skills today. I hope it turns out alright." Laying down the serving platter on the table between the two table settings, he turned to the buffet table and retrieved a matching silver serving spoon. "I would love to give you a tour of the house once dinner is finished if you would like?" he said as he pulled out his chair and sat down.
#8
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Philip turned and smiled as Harper returned with a silver serving bowl. His curiosity about what was in the dish was soon satisfied when Harper told him that it was mutton curry. "I thought I had smelled curry - and it's fine," Philip assured.

"And I will not be judging you but simply indulging and enjoying." Philip settled himself down into one of the place settings and looked at Harper as the other man offered a tour of his house. "Oh that would be splendid! He was rather curious about what the rest of his friends house looked like.


#9
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"Well then at least it smells as it is supposed to." Harper laughed, as he reached across to ladle some of the curry into Philip's bowl. And thankfully, Philip didn't seem perturbed by any potentially odd behaviour, or Harper's tendency to be a little to blunt and honest about things. Perhaps this night would not be disaster.

Turning the spoon towards his own bowl, he began to fill it up as well. "It is a rather lovely house, if I do say so myself. Though perhaps a little large for one man. I bought it only a few years ago and I have grown rather attached to the odd layout of the building." Now that dinner was served and ready, much of Harper's nerves seemed to dissipate. There was nothing now left but to eat, and if it wasn't cooked right, there was nothing he could do about that now. A lingering anxiousness however did mean his breath paused ever so slightly waiting for Philip to take his first bite.
#10
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Philip chuckled in response to Harpers comment. It smelled pretty good which was a major component to Philips enjoyment of food. So that was a good job so far. He was looking forward to seeing what his friends creation tasted like.

"I can't imagine what it must be like to live on your own," Philip mused. His mother had been living with him since being widowed so many years ago. He took up his spoon and brought a spoonful into his mouth. He smiled and nodded in approval before going in for a second bite. "Very well done, Harper." He probably would have said the same even if it had tasted like a turd but luckily, it truly did not.


#11
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A wave of relief washed over Harper. Philip's opinion meant a lot to him, and as Philip cooked him food almost every day, it felt good to return the favour. Especially as he had never cooked anything more than a piece of toast before in his life. "Thank you - I'm just glad it is edible." He finally felt comfortable enough to take a bite, and for someone who had learned to cook only hours ago it wasn't half bad.

"I must admit it take some getting used to." Harper gestured generally around the room with his empty hand "The space is comfortable, and it was refreshing to move out of my father's house, but it was quite a shift to begin with." Harper took another bite, then continued covering his mouth with his hand "Of course, sometimes I feel I spend more time at your shop than I do here at home."


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