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Meet Me Under The Mistletoe
December 12th, 1890 — Some Random Christmas Party

Alfred had decided he preferred London parties to Hogsmeade parties, for this very particular season of his life, and certainly over any party that took place in the countryside. It had to do with space in the floorplan; country houses were large and had plenty of room to move about. Hogsmeade houses, with foundational exchanges, tended to be roomier as well despite their close proximity to their neighbors. In London, however, things were positively cramped, particularly during a large party. It meant he could stand much closer to Zelda without attracting attention, could sneak brief contact by touching her hand, shoulder, or back, and sometimes — particularly if her chaperone was occupied with their own conversation — he could lean in and actually talk to her, the way they used to do before they'd started courting.

Alfred wasn't sure how much he should expect from Nemo Fisk; he was younger and should, theoretically, have had his panties a little less bunched about the idea of Zelda doing anything fun, but his expression during their first few minutes of conversation didn't give Alfred the impression he was feeling charitable in terms of potentially shirking his chaperone duties. Well, time would tell, but Alfred was determined to get Zelda alone for at least a minute tonight. He had a Christmas present for her, and Nemo Fisk might be the most laid back chaperone they had between now and Christmas — particularly if her father had heard anything about their prior adventures under mistletoe.

Speaking of which, he'd spotted a fair few sprigs around the house tonight. He glanced at the nearest one and gave Zelda a meaningful look: a mischievous invitation.

"Anyone you're hoping to dance with tonight, Mr. Fisk?" he asked Nemo, more as a distraction from his unspoken question to Zelda than because he was particularly interested in the love lives of other Fisks.

@Zelda Fisk @Nemo Fisk
@Cassius Lestrange @Elsie Beauregard

Zelda missed the days when she had the actual freedoms of a middle class girl who worked - i.e., as long as someone was with her, she could have decent breathing room at parties - but this was better than being grounded until the end of time, so she supposed that she should be grateful. Really, though, Nemo should be less constipated-acting for someone who was two years older than she was. Somehow Ari had become her very best chaperon, and even he wouldn't let her flit about when she wanted to. She missed Julian, too.

But again - this was the deal she had gotten, and she ought not be too cranky about it. Zelda reminded herself of this as she tapped her fingers against her champagne flute. She was very familiar with the trappings and general story of Christmas - she was Jewish, but she lived in Victorian England, it wasn't like the Christians were very subtle or quiet - and this party had really gone all out, with the tree and the floating candles and everything. She was looking at them and trying to work out the spell the decorators had used when she caught Alfred's look.

Oh. The enchanted mistletoe, another weird classic. (Zelda's first kiss had, actually, been under mistletoe, but she had no intention of telling Alfred or anyone else about it.) She gave a tiny nod and coughed to cover it, taking another sip of her champagne.

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The only real qualification Nemo had to be present at this particular moment was that he was slightly older than his sister. That was in. No interest, no desire, just the obligation of birth order to chaperon Zelda around while she chose to pursue this ridiculous relationship with Mr. Darrow. While few things in life truly annoyed Nemo, this was one of them.

Kons had been quite candid about his thoughts on the subject and though the two brother were not often on the same page, it was nice to know that he was not alone in his thoughts on Mr. Darrow. Zelda was one of his closest siblings, both in age and in relationship and he thought he knew how her brain worked, but apparently he was sadly mistaken here.

"Not particularly, no." It wasn't a lie; Penny was not here so who else would he look for at a party like this? Not to mention Chanukah was upon them and he'd much rather be home with the family tonight. The Fisks were in the minority on holidays however and though and while he wasn't truly annoyed, he could be for the sake of his attention tonight. "Not very good at it either." He admitted in a round about way of informing Mr. Darrow he would not be shirking his chaperoning duties tonight by getting distracted dancing.

Glanding at Zelda as she coughed, Nemo furrowed his brows in her direction, but didn't say anything. He found the whole situation quite awkward, but he would not be the family's worst chaperon either.

Alfred didn't miss the subtext of Mr. Fisk's response, and he wasn't particularly thrilled by the implication that Nemo would be clinging to their side all night without even a break of a few minutes. Was he serious about not being any good at dancing or was he only saying that to be intentionally obstructionist? Given the reception that Alfred had received with the majority of the Fisk family, either seemed equally likely.

"Well, it's never too late to learn," he said with false brightness. Maybe they could find some other way to distract him if he insisted on staying off the dance floor — or maybe Alfred and Zelda could dance and then come right off the floor and into the mistletoe. Whatever the case, he was going to kiss Zelda tonight. He was determined, and she seemed ready to play along. Between the two of them, Alfred was sure they could outwit any of her siblings (at least for a minute or two, which was all they needed).

Or maybe they could get Nemo under the mistletoe for a minute and steal away that way... It would certainly be a refreshing change if the Fisk family had something else to talk about for a minute besides the two of them.

Lovingly, Zelda was going to murder Nemo. She was trying to look as not-annoyed as possible but her expression had settled on something in the vicinity of a resting bitch face, and she tapped her fingers against her champagne flute in her irritation. "No muggle liaising at balls?" she asked, because remaining silent for too long was also likely to draw attention. Unfortunate.

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Leaning toward more amused at his current position, Nemo could tell he wasn't making any friends at he moment, but he also didn't particularly care. Judging by the look on Zelda's face, which he had endured for most of his life and been on the receiving end more than once, he was probably going to get an earful later. Again, he didn't particularly care.

"Off duty," He said to his sister as he shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He was on another duty entirely at the moment. "And it's not a matter of learning, I've been taught. I'm just not very good at it." He shrugged. It didn't matter, he didn't enjoy it overmuch either, what was the point? "Don't let me stop you from taking a turn though." Nemo had a perfectly good view of the dance floor from right where he stood and could keep an eye on them from there.

Nemo took a contemplative sip of his champagne and eyed his sister again. He felt the slightest bit guilty for being a stick in the mud, but something about the pair said to him he best be a good chaperon and leave it at that.

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   Zelda Fisk

The comment was all the encouragement Alfred needed, and he quickly turned his attention to Zelda instead of her brother. "Shall we, then?" he asked with a wide smile, taking her hand and leading her to the dance floor at the beginning of the next song.

Once they had started, he asked quietly, "How many dances do you think he'll let us have tonight?" Going straight from the dance floor to the mistletoe seemed to be the best way of getting there, but he wasn't particularly interested in getting the both of them into too much trouble so early in the night. They'd only just arrived, after all, and he didn't want to give Nemo Fisk any reason to take her home early. At the very least, he had to find a moment to give her the Christmas present.

"I've got a Christmas present to give you tonight, but you don't have to open it until you're home," he told her. "Just make sure you don't leave without it."

Zelda was startled into a grin at her brother's concession. Under other circumstances, she would have told him he was never going to get a girl if he didn't dance - but tonight, she thought that it was probably for the best not to poke too much fun at Nemo. "See you soon," she chirped, following Alfred to the dance floor for the waltz.

"Three if we're very good, I think," Zelda answered. Nemo used to be fun. All of her brothers used to be fun. Couldn't Xena get engaged under insane circumstances again so that Zelda could go ahead and be boring again?

Her train of thought was derailed by the question of Christmas presents. "Thank you! I don't have your present with me - can I give it to you later?"

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Nemo scowled slightly at their eagerness to dance; he wasn't so sure that Zelda had ever been the type, but then again apparently she didn't care much about societal norms anymore.

And so he hovered and waited, sipping on his champagne with a disapproving look.

It was going to be a long night.

You can skip over me, I'll pop in and out!
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   Reuben Crouch

Alfred had not really been expecting a Christmas gift from Zelda, knowing that she hadn't grown up celebrating it, and so was quite delighted to hear that he ought to be expecting one at all. "Of course. There will probably be a better time to exchange presents a little closer to Christmas," he said a little cryptically. Assuming that she was able to take his gift with her and figure out what it was, of course, but he was feeling optimistic about it (at least for the moment; he would likely fret significantly between when he gave it to her and when the portkey was supposed to deliver her).

Three dances was better than nothing, but Alfred wrinkled his nose slightly at her choice of phrasing. "I don't know that I plan to be very good tonight, do you?" he asked as they danced. "Isn't there anyone we could get him talking to? Surely he must have some friends," he said, mostly teasing — though if he was typically this much of a stick-in-the-mud it was possible he didn't. He didn't dance, apparently, which wasn't a mark in his favor as far as Alfred was concerned. Even Alfred could dance, and he was hardly the person one would point to as being the best at parties.

"He has friends," Zelda said, "He used to be fun."

Zelda had been one of Nemo's friends, before this whole incident. She did not understand how her brother had switched sides; they used to be friends; she used to tell him everything, and now she felt like he was breathing down her neck. They had been allies and now he only cared about what their elder brothers thought. Zelda did not understand what had happened to her family in the past few years; it was as if she had become an adult and then all the rules had changed.

She didn't want to think about that. "I think that some of the decor offers us the ability to be a little bad," Zelda said instead, turning through the dance move. "Which could certainly be enjoyable."

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Well, too bad he only used to be fun, Alfred thought with an inward grimace. Zelda seemed to hold that opinion about a lot of her family; that they were actually quite nice and fun to be around until it came to anything involving him. Alfred may not have jumped at a chance to spend an afternoon with Evander, but at least he hadn't done anything overtly hostile to Zelda — he was just generally awful (or — a thought — maybe he was only awful when Alfred was concerned, too — how would Alfred ever know? It might explain the existence of Miss Delaney, because if he was the same all over Alfred had no idea how anyone could be courting him, much less anyone genuinely pleasant).

He was distracted from this thought by Zelda's mention of the decor, which brought a wicked smile to his face. "My thoughts exactly. Straight from dance number two?" he suggested.

"Sounds like a plan," Zelda said. Her mischievous grin mirrored Alfred's. Nemo wasn't going to take this very well, but - ostensibly, it wasn't as if they could help it if they got stuck under mistletoe, right?

The music from the first dance came to a stop; Zelda didn't move from the dance floor, as in a few moments the second dance would start and their mischief could begin.

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Zelda didn't seem as though she planned to move, which was probably a good idea; Nemo may or may not have been inclined to let them dance two dances in a row, but he was unlikely to storm onto the dance floor and drag her away. That would cause a scene, and this entire arrangement was based on the premise that Zelda's family did not, particularly, like causing scenes.

"Oh, while we've got a minute," he said, before the next dance started. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small case, wrapped in plain brown paper and tied with thin twine. "Have you got a pocket?" he asked — hopefully she did, at least big enough to hold a necklace case, because if she had to hand the gift off to Nemo to hold on to for the rest of the night that was going to be rather awkward. "Don't open it until you're home, remember."

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