Did you know?
The Language of the Flowers was a popular method to express feelings where words might be improper, but did you know other means of doing so? Some ladies used their parasols, as well as their fans, gloves, and hankies to flirt with a gentleman (or alternatively, tell them to shove it!). — Bree ( Submit your own)
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Questionable Friend/Crush for Philip Aymslowe.
When your mum thinks you're gay for your best friend (but you probably are)
This boy, then. He wasn't new. Wasn't one of the worst people in the common room, those rotten rich boys - like Mr. Jailkeeper - who could not fathom a world beyond their own farts. Was a good working class lad, so he'd heard. Had a bit of a weird looking face, and a bit of a weird thing for preaching. Still.Aubrey Davis in The Under-Sofa
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Post 3+ times in three or more class threads during the course of a school year. Must all be done with the same character, be they a professor, student, or school portrait or ghost!

Wearing Nothing
Boy, you know the distance is just killing me
Even when I lied right beside ya
And I gotta let my body loose
Never really cared for rules
I gotta get it closer to you
I gotta get to where you are
Rip my shirt and let it fall
Baby, I just feel like wearing
Nothing at all

March 31st, 1888 — Rigel House, Cumbria

Phineas was actually coming home for Easter although not to spend time with her but presumably Ernest Mulciber was the draw for him. It was somewhat demeaning that he couldn't come home for want of spending time with her specifically but she'd take what she could get. Not that she had come close to enjoying his company for years. The last time he had enjoyed her company had been well before Belvina was born and this opportunity seemed like the closest she might come to something resembling physical affection for a long while. What better opportunity did she have than a night spent in - she hoped Rufina wouldn't be arranging for separate bedrooms - the same bed by default?

There was just one problem. She wasn't convinced mere proximity would attract her husband which meant she needed to be proactive, but too much effort would probably have the opposite effect. It was a fine line that she hadn't yet fully fathomed. How does one seduce Phineas Black? Ursula was trying to find a way of dressing suggestively while not overly so. At what point would she disgust him with her efforts?

Ursula unpinned her hair for what felt like the twentieth time that evening and flushed with frustration. She was at a loss. Grabbing a robe which she used to conceal her underthings which included a handsome green corset she'd only worn once and hadn't had the heart to don again after the misery of the first time. Stalking out into the hallway, she sought out Ella's room with a purposeful step, knocked abruptly twice and admitted herself. "Tell me," she began, fighting the sleeves of her robe angrily to free herself. "Will Phineas find this tasteful or shall I try something else?" As the only other adult in the house - servants were not people - and someone she was convinced knew how Phineas' mind worked better than she did, it seemed only natural to ask Elladora for her opinion. On reflection, she realized there was something hopelessly desperate in asking a spinster for assistance in a seduction. How the mighty had fallen.

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   Elladora Black, Hannah Pettigrew

It occurred to Elladora, as it often did in moments like this, that seclusion in France with her mother was perhaps not the worst thing that could happen to a person. It might prove to be as dull as she always imagined – she might be a confirmed spinster but she was not without some life and her mother’s friends were the finest collection of dusty dullards one could ever hope to meet – but at least she would know what to expect from one day to the next. Here her days veered between icy silences with her sister-in-law, long periods of weeks where they avoided each other and Elladora utilised the house elves to make sure the other woman was up to no good, and then…this.

She should never have left London. Grimmauld Place felt more like home with each passing year and in the countryside she had the horrible feeling that they were trapped together with no hope of relief.

Letting her book fall onto her lap with a huff Elladora glanced at Ursula’s ensemble from her spot on the chaise and raised an eyebrow. She doubted very much it was the only thing Ursula would raise in that outfit but thankfully there was no telling protrusion from her…and she dearly hoped Phineas had greater strength of morals than to fall for such an obvious attempt.

“I wouldn’t waste my time worrying about it if I were you,” Elladora drawled back, eyes taking in the lurid colour that suited Ursula more than was probably reasonable given quite how garish it really was. “My brother hardly married you for your taste and refinement.”
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   Ursula Black

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"That's hardly helpful!" she snapped irritably. Why on earth had she ever expected a helpful contribution from Elladora? "Your brother is so fussy; if I can't make him want me on merit alone then I must tempt him in other ways but I'm afraid this may be too much." She could just imagine him sneering at her and hurling some offensive synonym or other for prostitute in her direction. On the other hand, he might drink enough wine to lose his capacity for prudishness and find her irresistible.

In many ways, Elladora seemed to be Phineas' duplicate only in the body of a woman and slightly more amenable. "This is very serious and I need your assistance. Our marriage depends upon it." Ursula gave a half turn so she could give her sister-in-law a more complete tour of her minimalist attire. "What would you do if you were in my place?"

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   Elladora Black

The staggering inappropriateness of the question aside Elladora was struck by how desperate Ursula must be if she was coming to her for advice on the matter. There had been hints before, Elladora was not blind even if she tried very hard to be when it came to her brother’s sexual activities – or lack thereof – but Ursula was yet to ask her so directly.

Desperation was not unpleasant on Ursula, even if it did make her more persistent in her desire to please Phineas: a task that, if she were being honest, even Elladora thought was impossible.

“I would stop trying quite so hard,” she replied, mildly surprised with herself for offering actual help so readily. Putting her book aside with a sigh she got to her feet and observed Ursula closer as she approached, circling her as though she were an exhibit in a museum. “Ursula, has this ever worked?” She asked with genuine morbid interest. Surely her brother was above such things? “With Phineas I mean,” she added snippily, all too aware that he was not the only man Ursula had ever known.
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   Ursula Black

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What sort of advice was that? It exasperated her knowing that doing the opposite of trying too hard had no effect either. Elladora was circling her like a vulture and Ursula felt uncomfortable for the first time since she'd walked in scantily clad and asked her husband's sister for assistance in his seduction. But then Ella had to take a dig at her integrity. "I've never tried it!" she snapped back. She didn't clarify whether she meant in general or with Phineas, deciding not to validate the unnecessary jibe.

Still frowning, Ursula tried to nudge her sister-in-law back in a more productive direction. "He'll like what he sees though, won't he? Do you think? I don't know how I can appeal to him with words or actions, maybe this way it's subtle enough that he won't feel as though I'm prompting him to anything..." She looked to the older woman for reassurance that she suddenly doubted she was going to get.


Amusement rising marginally at the rise of emotion in her sister-in-law Elladora considered simply taking the small victory and sending Ursula away from her room with a sharp word. She didn’t especially want to consider Phineas’ sexual proclivities, or Ursula’s underwear, but for the sake of their marriage it seemed that she needed to discern the former and choose the latter as, between the two of them, they seemed incapable of discovering anything about one another.

The fact that this year would mark their twelfth year of marriage was not worth thinking about less she fall into a pit of despair. Must she do everything? Sighing she reached out to fiddle with the corset ties, noting quite how tight they were and how Ursula’s skin strained against the confines, pearly white against the vivid green, and how easy it would be to tug on the end and release her no doubt pained flesh from the constraints.

But that was a maid’s job. Or Phineas’, as the case may be.

“I am sure he will be pleased with you,” she offered grudgingly in an attempt to avoid an argument, turning Ursula around gently. “But perhaps you could try wearing something else? This is not exactly what I would call subtle.” Her lips twitched and, for once, it was not entirely at Ursula’s expense. “Although I am far from the expert.”

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With Elladora's hands on the strings of her corset, it finally occurred to Ursula that she maybe ought to be embarrassed to be stood before the woman in such a mode of dress. She had been so caught up in trying to second guess her husband's inclinations that she'd been utterly unabashed about strolling in and exposing herself. The direction her thoughts turned at the feeling of someone touching her underthings assured her that despite over a year of chastity, she was still as depraved as she ever had been.

Ursula let her sister-in-law rotate her while she lamented her wretchedness and the overall hopelessness of both an attempted seduction and her marriage in general. She was convinced that were Phineas to pay her proper attention she wouldn't be so easily led to adultery but there seemed to be no way of winning him over. "Phineas is never pleased!" she snapped, frustrated by the answer she felt was Ella pandering to her just to shut her up. "What do you suggest, that I wear black crepe from head to toe? Your brother despises me. If I can't appeal to him this way then he is unreachable!" Saying it out loud brought home the hopelessness of the situation and her marriage in general. If she never touched another man again, what good would it be if she was miserable all the same?

She whined pitifully and let her knees buckle beneath her. "He hasn't touched me since before Belvina. He's done with me, isn't he?"


Elladora had long-assumed it to be the case but hearing the confirmation was not quite as satisfying as she would have hoped. Being proven right was always welcome but she didn't have it in her to gloat over the fact with Ursula looking quite so despondent. Instead she felt a modicum of sympathy, a rare emotion in Elladora's breast and not one she found sat we'll with her.

She did have her...suspicions about Phineas of course, but she had never given voice to them and did not intend to now. She doubted Ursula could even begin to understand anyway. Perhaps it was borne of their ancient blood? This lacking within them both that had led her to gladly welcome spinsterhood and him to neglect a wife that was the envy of other women.

"If he was I expect he would not visit at all, and yet he returns all the same," she said, hoping logic and reason would calm Ursula but doubting it when she found herself obliged to reach out and prop her sister-in-law up before her knees gave way. Sighing she led Ursula to the edge of her bed and sat her down gently, sitting next to her with the awkwardness that always seemed to accompany her when she made her mind up to say something nice.

"Ursula, you are not an unattractive woman. You do not need that," she gestured to the corset, suddenly unable to think of anything other than the fact she had seen Ursula's naked bosom more recently than her brother had. "To be appealing."

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It was a relief to be sat down rather than allowed to wallow in an ungainly heap on the floor and if there was awkwardness, she didn't notice it.

Ursula didn't truly believe that Phineas' coming home had anything to do with her, she would be hurt but unsurprised to learn that he would come home more often were she not there. Ella's uncharacteristically flattering remarks did far more towards improving her spirits. "Then why does he not desire me? You must show me how to appeal to him or else instruct me in how to exist without longing." She clutched at her sister-in-law's closest arm and hugged it to her. "Please, Ella, I shall go mad if you do not help me!" She was almost suffocating in her own desperation but she couldn't relax for thinking of how he would inevitably refuse to have anything more to do with her that weekend than he already had to. She didn't think she could take any more rejection and humiliation from him than she she had already. "What is the point of beauty if it goes unappreciated?"


What indeed.

Elladora, for her part, felt most discombobulated and not entirely in a manner that was unpleasant and though she supposed she really ought to remove Ursula from her person and her bedroom and give her some more sensible wisdom over tea tomorrow she did not move to do so. Against her arm she could feel the press of silk and ribbons and flesh and, unless her eyes were deceiving her, there was a flash of metal peeking out the top of the corset.

She lifted her gaze to Ursula’s face with intent.

“I…,” she began sagely. “I don’t know Ursula,” she said, almost sadly. “I don’t claim to understand Phineas’ mind any more than he understands mine.” And her brother had certainly never done that, though they had done each other the favour of never prying one way or the other. In truth he was more of a mystery to her than Ursula was because, for better or for worse, she had ended up being the one to spend her days with the other woman, a stand-in Black for the one Ursula was actually married to and almost by osmosis rather than effort she had learnt about her sister-in-law’s habits.

“Surely you can,” oh Merlin help her, why was she even giving voice to such things?! Take care of yourself?

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It was disheartening to hear that apparently Phineas was an enigma to them both. Ursula had fervently believed that somewhere in Ella's head lay the key to her husband but it seemed she was woefully mistaken.

Ursula released Elladora's arm. "Take care of myself?" she repeated incredulously. What sort of helpful advice was that?! She'd been taking care of herself her entire marriage, it wasn't as though Phineas had ever coddled her, he'd just gone off to Hogwarts and left her to fend for herself. She didn't need to be constantly coddled and fussed over but she wouldn't have minded Phineas occasionally acting like a husband. "That's hardly helpful, Ella! I've been taking care of myself these past ten years and it's not enough. It'll never be enough." Needless to say, Ella's innuendo had gone over her head completely.


Oblivious to the fact she had been misunderstood Elladora felt a flush of surprise rise up her neck at the brazenness with which Ursula admitted to the practice. And her apparent dissatisfaction with it, which was even more surprising and conjured up images she most certainly did not want to dwell upon. Merlin, what did Ursula want from her?!

“Well, what would you like me to do about it? I can hardly stand in for Phineas can I?” She snapped, before immediately feeling regretting opening her mouth, opening her bedroom door, not being in London where she was safe from Ursula in her underwear and the increasingly treacherous flush that crept up her throat.
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   Ursula Black

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Ella seemed oddly agitated which mystified Ursula. "I daresay you'd be an improvement on your brother in every way besides fathering children!" she replied bitterly. "Although it seems likely he shall never touch me again, so what difference does it make?" If only her sister-in-law was instead a brother-in-law... It wouldn't even really be adultery with Phineas' brother, it wasn't as though she would be straying outside the family and any children would share the same blood. Sadly Phineas had no perishingly attractive brother who found her appealing in every way Phineas did not and happily deceived him about the long term passionate love affair they were conducting beneath his own roof while he was at school. All she had was a spinster who occasionally lent an ear to her troubles and judged her.


Edging away from Ursula on the bed Elladora was quite perturbed to realise quite how close they were in fact sitting to one another. She could feel the other woman’s warm skin and the unmistakable rise and fall of her bosom, neither of which she had any great desire to dwell upon and so she moved away, putting enough distance between them that she could turn to face Ursula more fully on the bed.

“You mustn’t say such things Ursula,” she said, refusing both the notion that Phineas would not, at some point, do his duty or that she herself could do it better than he. True, she spent more time with Ursula and, by extension, with the children and she also oversaw the house while he was away but it did not follow that she should also keep his wife occupied.

“I am reliably informed that there is quite the difference,” she quipped, an attempt at dry humour her last defence against this awkwardness.

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It finally began to dawn on Ursula that they might not be on the same page after all. "What do you-" she began to ask, stopping only when she suddenly arrived at the answer herself, or so she thought. She colored a little even as she began to doubt herself. Elladora couldn't possibly be so knowledgeable on that subject, nor could she imagine context that made her use of the word 'reliably' not seem shockingly indecent. No, she must be projecting her own indecency upon the spinster's words, that could be the only explanation, and yet what else could she mean? That it might be an attempt at humor never even occurred to her.

"How would- But- You- It's not-" The more incomplete sentences she made, the more embarrassed she felt. As she once again questioned whether she'd drawn the correct conclusion, she thought back to what she'd said to prompt Ella's response and what she could remember of her words only made it worse. "You can't think I was imply-" The moment she was composed enough to get a full sentence out, she did. "What do you even know of such things?!" she interrogated somewhat shrilly as she fixed the older woman with a look of trepidation.


Ursula’s reaction was far from surprisingly: she was quite aware that her sister-in-law thought her entirely ignorant of matters of the flesh but in some respects she suspected she knew a little more than Ursula did. For her sister’s impulses, and Merlin she had seen the results of them more than enough times, tended towards an excessive need for the appreciation of men – Elladora doubted she would spot the merits of taking another woman for a lover if they were shoved right into her face. Metaphorically speaking of course.

“More than you might imagine” she said with a roll of her eyes, hovering in the middle of her own bedroom and wrapping her dressing gown tighter around her body, wishing she possessed a robe that was thicker so she didn’t have to keep her arms in front of her chest. Her body truly did not know what was good for it sometimes and all this talk had made her feel distinctly uncomfortable.

“How to keep my secrets to myself for one thing.”

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