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“Got the morbs” was Victorian slang for a temporary melancholia — Dante
In a panic sort of reaction, she shut the door but neglected to make sure she was on the other side of it.
the thrill of the chase moves in mysterious ways


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the thrill of the chase moves in mysterious ways
#1
31 December, 1891 — Morgan NYE Party, Morgan House, London

The party had finally started in earnest, now that midnight was creeping closer and some of the other competing parties had started to bleed guests into theirs. Morgan had slipped outside for twenty minutes or so, smoking with a few friends and taking a break from drinking. He fully intended to be hungover by tomorrow morning, but it would be a poor show of things to be obviously drunk when there were still people arriving, so he had to time things right. There were fireworks in one corner of the sky that he could see from their back garden. Someone hadn't waited until midnight. He stopped to watch them for a minute, sitting on the edge of the garden wall. By the time they'd finished and he'd hopped down to rejoin the party, he'd smudged his crisp white suit with dirt along the backs of his thighs, which wouldn't do at all. He could have headed straight up to his room and changed, but he liked this suit, and it fit the color scheme so well with its golden accents. He'd only just stained it, so he could probably get it back to white easily enough, with soap, water, and magic at his disposal.

From the garden the closest room was one that had once served as the classroom for their pre-Hogwarts lessons, but had long since been converted into another general purpose sitting room, with a small writing desk in one corner. It wasn't the sort of room anyone ought to be looking for during a party, so he thought it was a safe place to slip in and fix the stain issue. He found a glass and filled it with magically conjured water, then held his wand between his teeth for a moment while he worked his trousers off so that he could properly see the stain he was meant to be removing. And that was exactly where he was — wand in his mouth, pants in his hands, in a dimly lit room — when the door he hadn't bothered to lock opened.

#2
The Cosgrove siblings had left to the Prewett party much to Kenneths relief and had headed to the Morgans. Kenneth had gone to school with a couple of the older Morgans including the one that was making her re-entry into society. Clarissa herself had attended school with Rhiannon Cameron and had more or less looked up to her.

Midnight was creeping closer and she had been having a grand time. Kenneth seemed to be enjoying himself as well. She had been given rather bad directions to where the ladies bathroom could be found so that she might check her appearance in a mirror. She wandered a bit, trying to remember which door she had been told to go through.

She decided to just try one at random and she did not know what she was expecting to find. But it was not the man from the market with his pants off, wand in mouth and again, pants off. In a panic sort of reaction, she shut the door but neglected to make sure she was on the other side of it. "Are you insane? What are you - robbing the Morgans sans your pants? Why do you have no pants?!" She covered her eyes, peeked through them because... well, she had never seen a man without pants before - before covering them again. "I won't say anything if you just leave."

Well, she supposed she could leave but she actually kind of liked Annie Cameron and didn't want her family robbed. If that was even what this man was doing. It was just where her mind had jumped given their first meeting. She was also too flustered to consider the fact that she could just yell for help or something. Besides, she didn't want to be found by people in a room with a pantless man - which would happen if she did that.

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#3
Morgan had not been expecting to be intruded upon, much less interrogated, and he had no idea what to do now. He opened his mouth to defend himself while forgetting his wand, which dropped. He tried to catch it with one hand, which left him momentarily even less covered as his pants swung down to one side. He didn't even manage to catch his wand, either. He started to lean down to reach for it and then realized that might lead to him being even more exposed (he wasn't sure how much his undergarments would cover if he kept moving around, having never had cause to find out before) and straightened up. Pants first, then recovering his wand.

"What do you mean say anything? I'm not doing anything wrong," he protested. Given how things had turned out it was possible that his parents might disagree, but he'd come in here in the first place to try and get a stain out — he really hadn't been doing anything wrong. He certainly wasn't trying to steal anything — he lived here! While he spoke he edged behind the nearest sofa, so there was at least some shield between him and the young woman while he put his pants back on. Unfortunately, there was also less space in this new location, which made it harder to actually put them back. "What are you doing poking around in empty rooms?" he retorted, as he struggled to get the wrong pant leg over one of his shoes — but then lost his balance and fell onto the back of the sofa instead.
The following 1 user Likes Eldritch Morgan's post:
   Clarissa Cosgrove

#4
Clarissa had now seen much more of this man than she had ever wished to see of any man. She kept her face covered with her hands, assuming he was trying to get those pants back on now. Hopefully. "What are you doing in here without your pants then?" Clarissa asked. "Even if you are not robbing our hosts, it is rather rude."

Clarissa's hands moved away from her face as she moved slightly towards him in mild concern. She wasn't a monster, after all. She might have reddened his hands at the Market but she hardly wanted him breaking his neck. "Are you all right? I certainly didn't expect to find you here, though." She didn't bother actually answering his question. Letting a man know that she sometimes needed to find a bathroom would be unladylike. Even if all she had needed of it this time was a mirror.

[Image: gP4NAe.png]
#5
He didn't particularly want to answer her questions or respond to anything she'd said, and he certainly didn't want to do it from such an undignified position. He'd managed to catch himself on the back of the sofa before hitting the floor, but now he had one arm over the sofa and the other still tangled in his pants, which were wrapped around one ankle and one shoe but definitely on backwards. Not very suave at all, and the worst part was that he wasn't entirely sure that he wouldn't fall over the other direction when he tried to fix it.

Aside from not wanting to talk in general, he didn't have anything very good to say in response. This lady clearly didn't know who he was, since she kept referring to our hosts as though he were just another party guest, but otherwise she had some points. Taking one's pants off in a random disused room in the house might not be rude, but during the middle of a party it also wasn't exactly exemplary behavior. He didn't want to admit that he'd been trying to fix a stain on his pants. That felt sort of embarrassing, for reasons he couldn't entirely articulate to himself. He didn't want to admit that his elbow was smarting from where it had hit the wood on the back of the sofa, because he didn't want her to offer to do anything about it. He could have gotten through this whole thing just fine by himself if she hadn't come in, and the last thing he wanted was some debutante — who already didn't like him much, if her name-calling at the market was any indication — to clumsily come to his aid.

"I'm fine," he said. He was trying for brusque, but couldn't quite manage it from this angle. "Why don't you go back to the party?"

#6
Clarissa didn't quite know what to do, really. It wasn't like she made it a regularity to be in empty rooms with strange men who took their pants off during parties. Evan had certainly never done so and he had been pretty much a mannerless brute most of the time.

"You don't sound fine," she said, unable to keep an audible eyeroll out of her tone. "Very well then," she agreed, intending to do just that. Maybe she would find a Morgan that she was familiar with and let them know there was a strange man in one of their rooms.

Except when she went to open the door, the handle wouldn't budge. She tried again but could not seem to get it open and she could find no visible locks. "Um, sir? We have a bit of a situation." She pulled out her wand a muttered a low alohomora incantation but even that didn't seem to work. Which meant the door was perhaps unlocked (or else the Morgans alohomora-proofed their doors) but it was also stuck.

Either way, she was stuck in here with a pantless man whose name she did not even know.

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#7
Apparently he hadn't been very convincing — he could tell from her tone — but if she was still going to leave, he didn't much care. Whoever this girl was, she already had such a low opinion of him it was likely unsalvagable, so the most Morgan could hope for at the moment was a moment's peace to recover his dignity before he had to rejoin the party. With any luck she'd be scandalized enough by the encounter that she'd leave by the time he made it back to the ballroom, and that would be that. (Though maybe he should figure out what her name was, just to avoid her in the future — with two such negative encounters in the span of a week, he shuddered to think what might happen if he came across her in a social setting where they had to make small talk in the midst of a group).

When she turned to leave he sat down on the floor, figuring that was less likely to end in disaster than an attempt to stand with his pants twisted up the way they were. He was in the process of taking them off again so that he could put them on the right way when she spoke. A situation? He didn't know what she meant by that, but he couldn't imagine it would turn out well for him. Nothing so far in this interaction had. He leaned back, poking his head around the edge of the sofa so that he could peer in her direction, though he couldn't see much given how dim the light in the room was. "What is it?"

#8
She did not dare glance back at him. She was sure he would be just as horrified by their newfound circumstances as she was. Hopefully he had at least had enough time to get his pants properly back on. That would make dealing with this a little easier.

"The door seems to be stuck," she informed him as she tried to get the door to budge once more.

[Image: gP4NAe.png]
#9
"Oh." While this was inconvenient, as it meant she was still here when she otherwise might have already left, it was hardly a proper catastrophe. "It does that sometimes. You just have to —" Morgan started to explain but realized it would probably be more efficient to just do it himself. The door had started sticking on occasion about five years ago, when a slight magical mishap in the garden had resulted in one corner of the house becoming crooked. They'd had it fixed — mostly — but sometimes in the course of normal house settling the doors or windows in this room and the one next to it would become a little difficult to open to close. He hurried to put his pants on and stood up. He didn't bother retrieving his belt from the table or smoothing out his rumpled clothing at all, because he was still planning on going right back to stain removal as soon as he'd managed to get the debutante out of the room. He didn't need to look sharp to fix a door.

"Here, move. I'll do it," he offered, and didn't wait for her to reply before he moved past her to the door. Usually it popped open if one pulled the handle up a bit while pulling, so he tried that, but to no avail. It was well and truly stuck this time. Morgan frowned at it, as though the door had done this on purpose after plotting against him. He tried the same maneuver again, but harder, and still nothing. "Okay, stand back," he told the woman, though he didn't give her much time to react and he didn't look to see if she was clear before he tried again. He braced his shoulder against the door to push it up against the door jam, then pulled back as forcefully as he could. The door swung open, and at the sudden lack of resistance Morgan lost his balance and fell backwards into the room with an oof.

#10
His wording pricked at her. He was familiar with this house. At least enough to know that this door stuck sometimes. She was still puzzling on this as he moved past her.

She waited for him to do whatever it was he planned with the door. Only it wasn't opening. At least he had his pants off. The light was too dim for her to make else much more than that about the state of his attire. She barely had time to stand back as he had instructed before he was falling back onto her.

She was petite and almost a whole foot shorter than him so when he fell backwards, she went tumbling down under his weight all too easily. "You're heavy," she said, cheeks on fire as she pushed at him to get off of her.

[Image: gP4NAe.png]
#11
Rhiannon remembered how much she disliked holiday parties of any sort. Valentine's, Christmas, New Year's — though she'd never been to one as a member of society, instead much the way Rachel was attending this evening's festivities — but they were boring and the only highlight of a New Year's party, she'd always missed in the past. The fireworks at midnight.

She'd stolen away down the corridor alone (not something she was meant to be doing, but it was her house!) for a breather when she'd heard voices behind one of the doors that liked to stick if the house settled just wrong. With a frown, she crept closer, hands extending towards the door as if to knock, to check on the occupants (maybe find some gossip) — and suddenly it flew open.

"Ritchie?!" she immediately exclaimed, seeing his familiar face flying backwards into the room — along with a somewhat familiar young woman. Wait. A young woman. What was Ritchie doing alone with a debutante?! "Do I need to call for Mother?"
The following 1 user Likes Rhiannon Cameron's post:
   Vera Morgan
#12
Morgan would have preferred not to have taken the young woman down with him when he'd lost his balance (less out of any chivalrous feelings and more because landing on the floor might have been less awkward and uncomfortable than feeling her knees and elbows below him), but when she declared him heavy he felt a little petulant about it. I told you to stand back, so it's your fault, he might have said, had his sister's voice not cut through and made him realize he had much more pressing concerns than annoying comments from trespassing witches.

Calling mother. Morgan realized how this must have looked — him in a state of disarray, partially undressed, on the floor with a young woman in a dimly lit room. He knew precisely what Annie must have thought. Still, calling for mother seemed a bit extreme. She might just as well have peered in through the door and started with oh, should I have you arrested, then? This wasn't what it looked like, but even if it had been, there was no reality in which their mother's involvement would have helped anything. And if their mother heard about this, it would only be a matter of time before their father heard about it, too.

Morgan scrambled to his feet, then pulled the young woman to hers. It was not a particularly graceful or gentle motion but they didn't have time for that. If Annie had seen them, someone else could see them at any moment, so it was imperative that they restore some semblance of decorum as soon as possible, even if that meant he had to nearly pull the girl's arm out of her socket to do so. "Only if you want me to never speak to you again," he snapped at his sister. He put a hand on the debutante's back and nudged her in Annie's direction. "Get her back to the party and I'll explain later."

He did feel a little bad about throwing this woman to the wolves by shoving her out of the room and leaving her alone in the hallway with his sister (which was what he intended to do), but only a little. He didn't see much alternative — having a conversation about what had just happened here would only increase the likelihood that someone else would hear about it, particularly if Annie was interesting in making a scene by threatening to call their mother. And it wasn't as though he could leave; he was still missing his belt, and his wand.

#13
Oh Merlin. Mrs Cameron herself came along and found them and seemed familiar with the man enough to give him what she supposed must be a nickname. The man scrambled to his feet and she gasped in mild pain when the man pulled her up as well. She rubbed her arm as he spoke to the woman.

They were brother and sister. Oh, she was glad he was urging his sister to not call for their mother. That was a mortification that she could do without. She was already feeling out of sorts that his sister - a woman she rather liked - had found them. She hoped this would not tarnish her reputation in the womans eyes.

"This has been a series of mishaps but none of it his fault. Nor mine," she assured the older woman as the other man pushed her towards Mrs. Cameron.

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#14
Somehow, the debutante's reassurances — what was her name again? Clarabelle? Something with a C — were more comforting than her brother's immediate shutdown. Annie couldn't help but give a soft smile at the younger woman as she pulled her towards her side, far more gently than her brother had hauled her to her feet. She turned back to her brother with ice in her eyes. "You adore me, brother," she sighed. "I hope this is all just mishaps. And you're lucky I was taking a moment away, that I'm the one that found you. Merlin knows what Father would say if he'd stumbled on this scene."

Was she trying to scare the poor debutante? Heavens no. But it was a very real possibility, that if it hadn't been her, it could have been someone else. Someone with the power to ruin their reputations, and the enterprise to do it. Instead it was the eligible widow, and Eldritch's sister. Someone whose word was worth about as much as a raindrop in the ocean.

"I won't tell Mother," she reassured, before turning to the debutante once more. "Fancy a trip to the garden?"
#15
Annie had brought up their father on purpose to irritate him, Morgan was sure. She could not have had any actual inclination to go and rat him out to their father. Mother was one thing — still a very bad thing, in the grand scheme of things, because of how this looked — but their mother at least was generally forgiving once she knew there was no way she could change matters. Their father, on the other hand, held grudges. Or — maybe grudge was the wrong word, but he certainly didn't forget anything.

"I adore you," he echoed back dryly; his tone didn't imply this was the truth, though he was generally fond of Annie in any situation where she wasn't casually threatening to derail his life. (No wonder her husband had died in a duel, if she made such a stink about scandal without anything having even happened). "And undoubtedly my favorite of all your many wonderful qualities is your discretion." Annie could shoot him icy looks all she wanted, but his message was clear: if she mentioned this to their parents, there was going to be bad blood between them. Or there would be whenever his parents finished raking him over the coals about it.

He was going to leave it at that — he had even started to close the door behind the young woman — but glancing at the debutante at the last minute he felt obligated to add, "Be nice to her. It wasn't her fault."
The following 2 users Like Eldritch Morgan's post:
   Clarissa Cosgrove, Rhiannon Cameron

#16
Clarissa's cheeks coloured faintly. She was also glad that it had not been Kenneth that had found them. She didn't want to know what he might have done. He definitely would have caused more of a commotion than Mrs. Cameron had done.

"That would be delightful," she breathed in relief when the older woman offered to show her the garden. She was more than ready to forget that this had ever happened - though she also would never be able to get the sight of a mans legs out of her head. She was a little surprised by his words. She actually genuinely smiled at him which was probably a first in their entire time of being acquainted. Maybe he wasn't so bad after all though she did still think he was a little weird. He was still not her idea of what a gentleman should be but at least he seemed to have his merits.

[Image: gP4NAe.png]

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