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

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Ester Montgomery for Thomas Montgomery. The one that got away (with the pornographer...)
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 at least once with the same character every day for a month.


Be Your Shadow
7th April, 1888 — The Abandoned House
Ishmael yawned - a reflex borne more out of boredom than tiredness, having had no cause to sleep for more than a century. He'd gotten to the house hours ago after a roundabout journey down from Hogsmeade, flooing to a shop in Knockturn and taking the last stretch on foot, careful, as always, not to be followed.

It had been a while after dusk then, and now - he could see through the shutters from his position on the couch - judging by the state of the inky sky, it must be the early hours of the morning. Ishmael cocked his head, heard a bird chirp from down the street. Bloody birds, already. He'd wasted his whole night here, waiting for one - any - of the others to materialise. He was supposed to be the one who wasn't there when they needed him, not the other way around. He'd only been gone a week, and what? Suddenly they all had better things to do.  

Perhaps, Ishmael thought, they were out on business. Well, they hadn't invited him; not that he much cared if they had, since he had his own affairs to look into this time. He flicked a corner of the newspaper page back and forth between finger and thumb, but there were only so many times he could read the same article. Terrible murder in Whitechapel. They were blaming vampires - it was hardly the first time Ishmael had seen that. He'd have thought twice about slinking straight down to London if the murder had only been discovered today, but the paper said it had actually happened a few nights back.

So he'd come down to ask around, since he hadn't been able to guess who was behind the attack from up in Hogsmeade, if it was any of his kind at all. Still, he wasn't sure what the situation in town was like, and so had come to the house first, to ask the others if they'd heard anything themselves.

Ishmael scattered the paper away lazily, stretching out with cat-like indifference. He missed sleep, sometimes. What else was there to do to while away the hours? If Monty were here, they might've found a way to pass the time, but -

Eventually, he heard the click of the lock, and footsteps coming in. Speak of the devil. "And where have you been?" Ishmael drawled, though he decided to convey his absolute lack of caring by refusing to lift his head up by more than a centimetre, let alone to sit up.

Monty Morales
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   Monty Morales

There were some nights that the abandoned house that Monty and his crew called home stood empty as each found their own amusements elsewhere. There was usually no shortage of tavern wenches amiable to entertaining either of the other two for the night. Monty tended to be a little more particular. Not that being picky stopped him from accepting free drinks if they were offered.

From the tavern, he'd gone off on his own and had ended running a little bit of a con as he snuck into some well to do party. Muggles, he figured, given the absolute lack of any magical trinkets or tricks in the household. Muggles were always easy pickings so soon his pockets and bag were full of a delightful amount of jewelry as he charmed his way around the party.

Humming to himself as he made his way home, he could hear birds chirping already. Turning the lock of the house, he wasn't as startled as he probably should have been to hear Ishmaels voice. The vampire had a seemingly unbreakable habit of coming and going that sometimes made Monty wonder whether he was more lover or cat to him. He was used to it though despite the fact he didn't quite like being consistently uncertain of when to expect the other man to be around.

"Working, my dear kitty cat," Monty replied, determined to appear just as indifferent as the vampire seemed to be. Unloading his loot, he picked up one ring that he liked the look of and held it up to the faint light. "I do believe this one suits me." Monty did have such a deep fondness for shiny, pretty things. It was his daily thought that he should have been born wealthy, he was well suited to it.

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[Image: pexxce.png]
magical set by mj!
The pet name - really, a pet name - didn't much make up for Monty's pure impassiveness at seeing him again, and Ishmael offered a roll of his eyes to Monty, and an overexaggerated pout to the ceiling the moment he'd looked away.

Nonetheless, his eyes followed him as the jewellery started appearing out of his pockets and bag, amused but unsurprised. That was his style, after all, swanning around well-to-do houses and dressed up crowds. Ishmael thought the part he most enjoyed was probably the getting all dressed up.

(Ishmael had done that a time or two over the years, himself. However, you did it enough - stole enough - and wealth, the banknotes and coin and all the glittering gems became much less valuable. Too easy to get; easy to spend. Worthless, in the end. 'Course, riches had never been Ishmael's real aim, not in all the black market dealing he did now, whether it was the glamorous or grubby kind... In the end, the only useful thing was blood.)

Ishmael especially didn't care for the rings and jewellery now, because they had Monty's attention and he did not. Growing tired of his pretence of apathy - far too soon, he knew - he pulled himself up and padded over noiselessly, coming to a halt at the other man's shoulder.  

"Ever the magpie, aren't you?" he offered, with a snort. That or a peacock, Ishmael considered fondly. He tilted his head at the pale reflective glow of the ring - everything was brighter than he remembered as a human, all that time ago; perhaps because his eyesight had improved, or he so rarely saw the full force of the sunlight as he'd used to - but didn't move to touch it or any of the rest (he was always rather wary of silver). Still, he added, mostly to be annoying: "Anything for me?"

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   Monty Morales

Monty definitely enjoyed the dressing up part of some of his cons the most. Just because he was supposedly riffraff didn't mean he had to look like it. The others could look as shabby as they wanted, Monty would sooner go naked than not appear at his best. And he looked pretty good naked too, he personally felt and he was pretty confident Ishmael would agree on that.

Stubborn as a mule, Monty refused to crack first, focusing on his loot. He felt a thrill of smug victory when Ishmael got up and came over to him. I win, he thought to himself though precisely which game he was winning even he didn't know. The game of pride, probably.

The vampires closer proximity had his heart picking up pace a little, a phenomenon that had been happening more and more lately. It made Monty fairly uncomfortable whenever the fact that he had more than just a physical sort of attachment to Ishmael made itself known to him. There was definitely no way he was informing Ishmael of it either. That would mean Ishmael winning something over him according to Monty's logic.

"Of course. Shiny, pretty things are what I deserve in life," Monty said, ever the arrogant one. No one could ever accuse the con artist of being insecure. Combing through the rest, he finally turned to look at the vampire when he asked if there was anything for him.

There actually was something he had nicked for the sole purpose of finding a way to give it to Ishmael - giving it as an outright gift had too much meaning to it - but he wasn't about to outright say any of that. "Maybe. Done anything to deserve a reward lately?"

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[Image: pexxce.png]
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Ishmael merely grinned at Monty's answer. He probably did deserve them, just for the sheer amount of hubris it took to say something like that with that much certainty. Besides - shiny, pretty - Ishmael could be pretty, he decided, when he'd just fed, when he wanted. His teeth were shiny. He could absolutely pretend that Monty was sweet talking him instead of soaking in his own narcissism. He wasn't pretending that, because he wasn't sad and pathetic and needy about this... just, he could, if he wanted to.

Not that Monty deserved him, anyway. And speaking of deserving things... his fishing had hooked potential, here. See, Monty hadn't said no. Maybe sounded much more like a yes that Monty was denying - something Ishmael would call out, if he were feeling (more) petty - but he hadn't said no. And that would do, for now.

Still, he was allowed to bristle a little at the thought of getting rewards. Skulk as he may around Monty Morales and friends, as much the leader as Monty may be, Ishmael was an asset, not an apprentice, and certainly not some animal who wanted praise and petting for being a good dog and fetching sticks. And between the two of them, in this - whatever this was - there was no way Monty was as in control as he liked to think he was. He didn't always run this show.

But there was always give and take. Nothing quite without strings, not in their world. And Ishmael wanted to know what Monty had for him. (There better be something.)

So he hooked his fingers into the waist of Monty's trousers, abruptly pulling him closer towards him. Holding on still, he flicked open the trousers' top button - just the one - with his thumb, and lifted his eyes in a lingering look, to make sure he had Monty's full attention.

"Why don't you give it to me first, and we'll call it an exchange of favours," he suggested casually.

Monty liked to think that he was in control of everything. He liked everything in his world to be a certain way. He’d never admit that part of what attracted him to Ishmael in the first place was the fact that Monty decidedly did not control him. It made his life frustrating and interesting all at the same time. He’d have gotten bored of Ishmael a long time ago if the vampire was the type to just fall in line and be whatever Monty wanted him to be. Thank Merlin he didn’t do that. Not that he would ever tell Ishmael that.

Where was the trinket he had grabbed for the sole purpose of gifting it to Ishmael? He had filled his pockets so it was mixed in with everything else. Monty was immediately deterred from continuing his search for it when Ishmael hooked his fingers into the waist of his trousers. He smirked as Ishmael pulled him closer towards him. This, they usually didn't have a problem doing very well. In this, at least, they seemed perfectly well matched.

"That sounds like a very good idea," Monty said as he reached his hand up to Ishmaels face and caressed his thumb over Ishmael's cheek as he used his other hand to feel around the objects he had procured. Where was it? He didn't want to admit that he had just mixed it in with everything else and now couldn't find it. It had to be here, he didn't think he'd dropped anything on the way home. If losing it cost him his Ishmael time, he wasn't going to be happy.

[Image: pexxce.png]
magical set by mj!
A shiver ran up his spine at Monty’s hand on his face. The sensation was nothing new, but Ishmael felt, irritatingly, as though he was losing his immunity to gestures like that as time wore on. He leaned in to the touch, oblivious to anything else Monty was doing until he had worked open the second button of his trousers, and then cast a glance down to where he was still busy rummaging in his pockets.

Oh, for fuck’s sake. Ishmael didn’t really care what the stolen trinket was - it was the thought that Monty was actually thinking of him that was satisfying (an accomplishment, too, for Montgomery Morales to think of anyone but himself) - but he was also cross with himself for insisting that the trinket came first, because his part of the bargain was not, admittedly, much of a sacrifice on his part.

He’d sacrificed too much of his pride too fast already tonight, however, so he supposed he would have to steel himself to patience. “Well, cough it up then,” Ishmael said greedily, pressing his mouth to Monty’s jaw in the meantime, not sure that that move would help speed anything up, but too impatient to do nothing in the meantime, especially when his hand was still latched onto Monty’s trousers.  

“I haven’t got all night.” That was, strictly speaking, not true in the slightest - Ishmael didn’t know how much of the night was even left, but it wasn’t as though he was opposed to spending all day in the house too.

He had come to London with other things to do, technically. But.

Well, it was hard to concentrate on anything with Ishmael's lips on his jaw like that. It kind of made him want to forget about searching for the thing and seeing if he couldn't convince Ishmael to give him a favor first and then they could search through the trinkets for it. But that would mean admitting being quite powerless to Ishmael's charms and they couldn't have that, now could they?

"Oh really? Have more important places to be?" Monty asked, slightly surly. He should be The Most Important, in his opinion. He was sidetracked from being Extra Petty when he finally closed his hand around the ring that he had snagged with Ishmael in mind. Well, fuck.

"When I saw this, I wondered if you ever have moments of missing the sun and figured this was one way you could sort of have that back." Now that he was actually in the moment of presenting it, he realized it was entirely too romantic. It would give Ishmael ideas. It also betrayed that he thought of Ishmael and the struggles Ishmael probably faced. "I also figured he could maybe duplicate it and enchant them so that if we have need of one another, the other can know through the ring." Okay, that was definitely in the realm of too intimate, it sailed right into a depth that Monty just did not want to admit to, even to himself. "So.. yeah. What do you think?"

[Image: pexxce.png]
magical set by mj!
"Maybe I do," Ishmael trilled, delighted at the easy opportunity to annoy him.

That mood didn't last, though, because at that moment Monty finally produced the thing he had picked up for him. Ishmael, if he were honest, wasn't expecting much - wasn't really expecting Monty to have done anything more than told a smooth white lie and hastily dug something out of his pockets that... would do, or whatnot.  

Instead, Ishmael pulled back in wonder as Monty produced the ring, with its particular sun design and his particular reflection behind it. The smirk slipped off his face and he retracted his hand from holding onto Monty in order to offer it up to have the ring put on, leaving Monty to do the honours. Not that he needed the patent implications of that to be struck by this scene, because it was already enough that Monty had actually been thinking about him. Had not just thought of him, a quick moment in passing, but had spent actual time and effort considering a life that was not his. Ishmael was struck dumb by this, his throat suddenly dry in a way that had nothing to do with the bloodlust he knew so well.

Still, he swallowed, because it wouldn't do to get choked up about this, because this was supposed to be shallow and frivolous and fun - they were shallow and frivolous and fun, as people - and emotions had no business getting involved.

That said, Monty sounded almost nervous, asking for his opinion, and Ishmael finally mustered a small, sincere smile. "It's - perfect," he admitted, having searched in vain for another word - any other word - and finding none that fit. I love it, he might've said, if that hadn't been worse. "And - I do," he added, with a nod - meaning he missed the sun sometimes.

He'd kept his gaze trained on the ring for the last while, admiring it until he could clear his head, but at last he looked up at Monty again. "Can you do that?" He asked, almost shyly, wondering about the idea of enchanting the ring - rings - and being able to signal through them. Though he was rather fond of pretending he had, Ishmael had never learned much magic at all before he'd lost the ability altogether. So that was up to Monty. But it would be... useful.

And nice, too. A comfort.

Monty bristled a little. What could be more important than him? Nothing was, that was what.

That left his mind though as he watched Monty's reaction. He was slightly surprised when Ishmael didn't just snatch it but offered his hand for it to be put on. It reminded him somewhat of a wedding he had snuck into once. Which was an odd thing to associate with this, Monty rather thought. The intimate atmosphere that had started to surround them made him decidedly uncomfortable.

He hated the relief that flooded him when Ishmael said that it was perfect. He could feel the need to deflate this by saying something rather Monty-ish. Monty couldn't imagine being a vampire. He wasn't exactly the sort that relished the sun but he did enjoy his beautiful tan that came about simply from his genetics. Would he be as beautiful as a vampire?

"I can. At the very least, I know where to find someone that can for me," Monty said. He knew people and he more or less knew how to trick people into doing things for him without them needing to know what he needed them for.

[Image: pexxce.png]
magical set by mj!
There was tension in the air, a stinging lightness to the atmosphere that felt as good as it did dangerous. He shouldn't have felt like this, shouldn't be so easily swayed by unexpected things Monty did, should not have let him slip the ring onto his finger like it meant something it didn't.

And it didn't mean anything, and Ishmael didn't want it to. He'd lived a hundred years and more, knew by now that the only way to survive was with light feet and a light heart, drifting from place to place and person to person like a leaf on the wind, a shadow in the sun. There was nothing to be gained from attachment, only lost. And too much losing - it wasn't worth the living.

Still. He wanted to kiss Monty now, not like usual, but careful and subdued and soft and grateful; he wanted to live in this quiet feeling forever; did not want to break the spell. And that? Was fucking terrifying. So Ishmael tore his hand away from Monty, and returned his gaze to the ring again, pretending to be critical. Better to break the spell himself. "I'll bet you can," he said, with an impish quirk of his mouth. He knew what he'd promised, but he pulled back and sauntered a few paces away, half as though he were going to flop back on the couch again, as though he'd gotten all he wanted -

Before he did, though, he tossed Monty another glance over his shoulder. "Careful, though," Ishmael added slyly, "if I see the ring going off every other night, I'll start thinking it's less about need and more about you just feeling deprived of my company."

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   Monty Morales

The current atmosphere surrounding them felt addictive, giving him the same sort of high he might get from an opiate. He shouldn't want more of this but Merlin, he did. Wanted it so badly but no. He made it a point to avoid such things.

He licked his lips as Ishmael tore his hand away and watched as the vampire studied the ring. If he was the sort to resort to sulking, he just might have when Ishmael walked away from him. Toying with him and then walking off. Such feline antics.

He rolled his eyes at Ishmael's comment. There was an inkling in his mind that the two might be one of the same. That brought him up short, internally. Since when did he need anyone? "Same to you," he said, for lack of anything better coming to mind. Now, it kind of felt like a challenge though. Who would feel a need for the others company, first?

[Image: pexxce.png]
magical set by mj!
What, no snark? Ishmael almost interjected, at the rolled eyes and Monty's three-word response. But Monty's counter, he realised swiftly, was as good an answer as any; it was like he could hear Ishmael's fears, in all that he said, that in fact he was the one to -

So, sure, Ishmael ought to be more careful. He ought to stop bloody projecting, because the thought that Monty cared half as much as he did was so ludicrous it was laughable, even with his finger now dressed with proof that the man was perhaps slightly more sentimental than previously supposed.

He couldn't be the one to cave - cave first to the ring, to the notion that things never were the same without him, to those implacable desires for mawkish tenderness that had begun to carve themselves a home in his chest. So, he wouldn't kiss him the way he wanted to. Wouldn't dwell. Would return to repaying him for the thought with another feelingless favour.

Rather than making it back to the couch, Ishmael stopped, and turned to face Monty again with a raised eyebrow. "Come on, then," he intoned with a smirk, dropping deliberately to his knees and beckoning him over in order to finish the undressing he'd started earlier. No different to usual, though perhaps it would be a test, all the same. "I suppose we'll just have to wait and see how long you last."

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