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Welcome to Charming, the year is now 1893. It’s time to join us and immerse yourself in scandal and drama interlaced with magic both light and dark.

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The first patented espresso machine was in 1884 by Angelo Moriondo. — Fallin
They hadn't been thieves before, at least. Noble had not been a murderer before either. Now he was one. Did thieving make a difference, at this point?
but the system is done for

On a Night Like This
He didn’t know whether Daffodil would find him again later as he’d asked, but he could only hope. Miss Potts had left them now, at any rate, and the disappointment was, like falling sand, settling steadily in his chest.

As he adjusted to the shift in feeling, the upset of his imagined evening, the space where she’d been standing, Elias glanced back at Irene with a slight frown. He couldn’t be annoyed with her, however hard he tried – but her last remark, he realised now, was quite baffling. The weather? Had that made any sense at all?

“Is everything alright?” he said curiously, brow furrowed at the look on her face and her flushed state. Perfect weather, really, but perhaps she was a little too warm? Or – “We don’t have to go see your paintings, if you don’t want to?” With Daffodil gone, it was just the two of them, though, so he couldn’t see why Irene would feel any trepidation about that.

The following 1 user Likes Elias Grimstone's post:
   Daffodil Potts

lady is the light of my life! <3
The flush of embarrassment in her cheeks didn't fade as his gaze turned on her, but not before she thought she saw it hovering in the space where Daffodil had left. Something sank in her stomach, even further, and all of a sudden — for some reason — she felt as if she should have been the person that left instead of the florist. The feeling that settled like old milk, churned and clotted, and Irene struggled to shove it down. Her paintings. Right. Framed and likely made beautiful by Daffodil's lovely additions.

What she really wanted to do was leave. And yet with Elias here, that desire was severely severed in half, with one half pulling her in one direction and the other half, anchored to him and keeping her at the event. Leaving was tempting, but she knew from the way Elias had looked after Daffodil that she wouldn't be doing him any favors by suggesting that. Bless him, he would go with her, because he was Elias and she knew him, but it was exactly because she knew him that she had the nagging feeling neither of them would be happy if they left.

"Everything's fine," She smiled, shoving a stray lock of hair behind her ear and diverting her gaze to the rest of the crowd. Determined to lift her own spirits up, she shoved whatever possibilities she might have discovered to the back of her mind and forced herself to relax. The event really was quite lively, and exactly the kind of event Irene liked to find herself at on any other day that she wasn't pining over her friend.

"We could look at them, but you've seen those before, haven't you?" He knew her style, at least, and she knew the compliments he would be too kind to bestow, and she would smile and flush with pleasure and say thank you. But no, she wanted to do something else. Something that might distract the presumptions that were clawing their way towards the front of her mind. Out of the corner of her eye she caught a sign for bouquet-making classes, and Irene resisted the urge to reach out and tug his hand towards the tables. So instead she nudged his arm with her elbow and pointed at the sign. "What would you say to seeing who can make the best bouquet?" She suggested, her lips pulling up in a grin. "Winner has to buy the other their favorite sweet at Honeydukes?"

The following 2 users Like Irene Crawley's post:
   Daffodil Potts, Elias Grimstone

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Everything was fine, she said, and maybe if they both pretended, they could believe it. Something was off, but Elias could not for the life of him work out what. He was out of sorts, sure; but he wasn’t sure why Irene could be. So at first he was almost certain she was just saying that as an excuse, to hasten things along and part ways, or even to get out of here –

But then she seemed almost normal again, was nudging his arm and suggesting bouquet-making competitions, and most of Elias’ lingering dissatisfaction slid into relief. “Alright, you’re on,” he said, mirroring her grin. He could have said more – that Miss Potts had been teaching him all about the art of bouquet-making and he was more of an expert than she’d expect – but bringing the conversation back round to Daffodil now felt like all the uncomfortable atmosphere from before would only resurface. Still, there was a small, secretive curve to the corner of his mouth as he pictured this bouquet: he knew just who he would be making it for. All her letter-lessons would pay off for her very well.

(If he did get to see her later, and she hadn’t disappeared for good.)

In the meantime – at least time spent with Irene was never time wasted. “But I warn you, I’m an artist, so it might well be your Honeyduke’s run to make,” he teased, as they headed for the tables.

The following 2 users Like Elias Grimstone's post:
   Daffodil Potts, Irene Crawley

lady is the light of my life! <3
His acceptance of her challenge saw her settle into the comfort of their usual, joking banter, and her panic that everything would unravel subsided. She pointed at him, her expression determined. "A—ha!" She exclaimed gleefully as they made their way to the tables. Her very last step to their places was a triumphant one, and she placed her hands on the table, leaning forwards to him. "So you admit it? That you are and always have been an artist, yes?" How could he not realize it? His constant dedication to his craft, his drive and focus. Irene felt determined to make him understand that he was one of them, and yet she did so with the same pit in her stomach.

Hide it, hide it, hide it.

"At the very least you are an artisan." The last word, she took on an affected tone, haughty and thick with obvious fake pretentiousness.

The following 1 user Likes Irene Crawley's post:
   Elias Grimstone

[Image: VRT55Q.jpeg]
He gave her a guilty grin as she went and triumphantly rubbed it in. In truth, yes – he supposed he saw it a little. Between Daffodil Potts’ insistence that the little silly things he crafted were worthy of being placed alongside the rest of this and that broommaking was an art, and Irene’s continued argument of the same, he felt obliged to disagree; but he didn’t mind the thought at all. He was, at least, proud of what he did, and of the worth of it.

And maybe that was what made Irene such an easy friend to have; her dedication to her work, same as his. She had never once been pretentious – which was what, of course, made her sudden air of haughtiness the funnier. Elias couldn’t help but crack up opposite her at the bouquet-making tables, face creased and shoulders shaking with the joy of it.

“Stop distracting me,” he chided, quirking an eyebrow at her in jest, as he buckled down to the task at hand. “Or is that a tactic? Because it’s not just trees I know,” he mock-boasted, though as he plucked up some cuttings from what was laid out and twirled some around in his hands. “Goldenrod,” he pointed out, of the yellow flowers and added greenery, and then brandished a particular bloom in his hand towards her as he chose it for his bouquet. “Carnations.” (Were there orange ones here? Daffodil had said –) “What’s your favourite flower?” Elias asked, letting the joking tone drop for a moment in absent-minded curiosity.

The following 1 user Likes Elias Grimstone's post:
   Daffodil Potts

lady is the light of my life! <3
She quirked another eyebrow at him as he deftly made his way through the flowers laid out on the table in front of them. It was with some surprise that she observed how quickly he made his decisions on what flowers he wanted with the bouquet. And despite her surprise she quickly realized who must have been supplying him with such knowledge; the Elias she knew a few years ago wouldn’t have known the first thing about arranging bouquets.

“A tactic!” She exclaimed, grievously offended he would suggest such an underhanded motivation. A twitch at the corner of her mouth betrayed any sense of seriousness in her response. Leaning forward again she opened her mouth to retort but instead received a nose full of something - red? - that he had shoved in her face…

And immediately sneezed.

Her favorite flower? “It certainly isn’t carnations, is it?” She quipped thickly, laughing through another sneeze. They were a lovely flower and Irene loved to include their vibrant hues in her paintings, but they were much better suited to being observed from afar. As she was recovering from her brief onslaught of allergies, it occurred to her that she had never told Elias the story behind her favorite flower.  As she drew her handkerchief from her pocket, she laughed. “I certainly hope carnations aren’t your favorite flower. That’d be such a pity.” No, a voice in the back of her mind told her, his favorite flowers are daffodils.

Shove it down, shove it down.

Brown eyes surveying the table, Irene searched for the white-petaled pearls of the particular flower she was looking for. Her expression softened as she located it and she reached for it, memories flooding back to her. Any anxious, heart-wrenching thoughts that had plagued her in the moments previously melted away as she focused on the Lily of the Valley buried amongst the more vibrant pastels of the flowers surrounding them. Wordlessly, she held it up in front of him with a wan smile.

The following 1 user Likes Irene Crawley's post:
   Daffodil Potts

[Image: VRT55Q.jpeg]
The sneeze had been unexpected – so apparently brandishing carnations in her face might as well have been a tactic of his own. Still, he tossed the carnation well away with a contrite look; he was trying not to grin too indiscreetly at the way she was laughing through her sneeze.

“No, I haven’t decided yet,” Elias admitted easily, of his potential favourite flower. There were some he liked – some he had found a recent fondness for – but he wouldn’t call himself an expert yet. There were countless kinds. Hopefully, he thought, Daffodil would keep encouraging him to learn them all.

“Oh,” he said instead, tilting his head at Irene’s nominated favourite. Elias didn’t know what it was called, but – amongst all the vivid colours – there was a quiet, unassuming beauty in those curling bell-shaped petals, even with all their drooping, delicate sadness. “I might’ve guessed lavender,” he said, with a half-teasing smile – the scent clung to her most days, particularly when she’d been painting – but he considered the small white flowers anew. “But those suit you, somehow.” Maybe because there suddenly seemed to be a quiet sadness in her too?

lady is the light of my life! <3
Despite how much they knew about each other, Irene felt a jolt of pleasure at the somewhat surprised look on Elias' face, and the corner of her mouth ticked up in a grin as she saw him process her non-verbal answer. That grin easily burst into laughter. He wasn't wrong, and she wasn't offended that had been his first guess. After all, it was the herb she kept around her house to ward away the smell of paint, especially on days she endeavored to make her own pigments. "Close," She said, narrowing her eyes mischievously. "Had I asked you to guess my favorite color, I might have been inclined to let you win the wager." But as it stood, they were still in a tie, and Irene intended to change that and lowered her hand as she focused back on the competition.

It was a good thing she did. His validation of her favorite flower sent a splash of pink across her cheeks and butterflies fluttering in her stomach. For once in her life Irene was glad the golden tones of her skin hid blush a bit better than had she been possessed with a creamy complexion that ladies in higher stations coveted. To avoid her thoughts tripping her up once more, Irene took  a deep breath as she gazed at the white pearl-shaped flowers. "Lily of the Valley, or Apollinaris as my mother liked to call it." She began, her thoughts easily shifting to the early mornings when she would join her mother in their small herb garden. "The small shoots that come up before the flower blooms are called 'pips'." Lost in the memories of her family, Irene let her mind wander and could feel a spark of inspiration hit her. Tapping her wand to the flower, she duplicated it multiple times until she had a small pile in front of her. "I found that name so funny, Mama ended up calling me that for a while. Little Pip." Even when she grew too tall to be considered 'little', her father still called her that until the day he died.

She hadn't meant to make herself sad over the memories, but she couldn't help the brief flash of sorrow that crossed her expression as she arranged the flowers in a flat circle in front of her, each of the stems facing the same way. Sniffing, she brought a hand up to wipe at her eyes quickly, thankful for the amount of practice she seemed to have at masking her feelings. Brushing off her nostalgia and self-pity, she reached for the leaves of greenery they would use to accent the colors of the supposed bouquet. "Personally if you ask me I prefer Apollinaris or Lily of the Valley as opposed to muguet or glovewort." She quipped as she grinned at Elias again. The haughty accent was back once she'd said the French word. "Papa used to drive mama crazy calling it those names. Less room for elegance, she would say before chasing after him with a dish towel!" For good measure, she tossed a sprig of lavender at him that had been concealed in her left hand.

Her "bouquet" was nearly complete, and she reached across to pluck some baby's breath in a pile near Elias' workstation.

The following 1 user Likes Irene Crawley's post:
   Elias Grimstone

[Image: VRT55Q.jpeg]
Speaking of letting people win wagers; Elias’ progress slowed as he fell into the conversation more fully, because he couldn’t pay enough attention to putting flowers together when he was so interested in what she was saying. And captivated in watching Irene, the lily pips multiplying at her fingertips – and in imagining her as her younger self as she’d described.

He could see her sorrow as she talked about her parents, but Elias was glad to hear her talk about them anyway, because at least it meant she could. They’d been friends long enough that there was no reason she couldn’t, of course, but it was still nice to know that she was able to confide anything in him, and freely speak her mind.

And he knew it hadn’t been a tactic, but he still had been paying absolutely no attention to what he was picking up; he found himself trying to tuck a bloom into his bouquet upside-down and all but gave up the endeavour. “Yes, those names are much less elegant,” Elias agreed emphatically, grinning at the thrown sprig of lavender. “But I think you’re winning, Little Pip. Or – not that little,” he added, with a flash of mischief in his eyes. “I suppose I may just have to call you glovewort from now on.”

(All this talk of flower names, and somehow Elias had entirely forgotten the person who had been on his mind all day. Irene had been more of a distraction than he’d expected – and by now any displeasure he’d felt at her earlier interruption had evaporated. This had actually been fun.)

The following 1 user Likes Elias Grimstone's post:
   Irene Crawley

lady is the light of my life! <3
Watching him try and stuff a poor unassuming flower upside down into his bouquet would have had her in stitches if he hadn’t quickly picked up her parents’ nickname for her. Irene hadn’t expected to hear it from anyone else’s lips ever again and when she did, nearly all the air was seized from her lungs. Her heart fluttered a rapid, frantic beat in her chest and she was left baffled at how easily Elias could catch her off guard; reminded of how well he knew her. It wouldn’t do any good to point out that the only people who had uttered that nickname to her were those she loved most. Because that would be revealing too much, and she couldn’t risk giving her heart over, even to Elias because he couldn’t possibly think of her in such a way. No, it was best to move on; even if she knew that one day he might very well steal her heart away without realizing it.

To keep her mind at the present - not on her family and not off in the clouds of some unrealistic daydream - Irene made herself busy again by putting the finishing touches on her project.

She was grateful that Elias continued to nettle her. If he realized the effect he’d had on her, he certainly didn’t show it. "'Not that little —!’ you’re one to talk, you great tree!" It was the only word that came to her fast enough but it made her giggle again and she reached out to throw another sprig of lavender at his six foot three figure. Even on her tip-toes she was entirely useless at providing any sort of shade for him unless he was doubled over (and the only time she saw him in such a position was in his shop which was shaded anyways).

Before he could retaliate and call her glovewort again (if only she’d had a dish towel to snap at him with), she held out her creation in front of her with a triumphant cry: "A-ha! Behold!"

A bouquet, it was not. Instead, a circlet of lily of the valley intertwined with baby’s breath, twigs and some other sprigs of greenery that she couldn’t possibly name sat in her open palms. She only gave him a few seconds to look before she withdrew it and gleefully placed it on her head. "Who’s won now? I think shall enjoy our trip to Honeydukes you know, because I —" Her jubilation was swiftly interrupted by another sneeze while the flower crown flopped unceremoniously over her eyes.

The following 1 user Likes Irene Crawley's post:
   Elias Grimstone

[Image: VRT55Q.jpeg]
Elias almost doubled over from the laughter brought on at her spluttered you great tree! He didn’t, quite, but he clutched the edge of the table, feeling the stitch ripping up his side and still grinning as she warded off his teasing with another piece of lavender, like it might have possibly some magical effect.

There almost felt like some magical effect to her reveal, as Irene lifted her labour and all the sprigs she’d gathered became a singular thing. His attempt at bouquet-arranging did look a little haphazard beside it.

“Because you’ve gone ahead and crowned yourself, yes, I can see that,” Elias finished for her good-naturedly, biting back yet more laughter at her constant little sneezes and the way her crown had slid down her forehead like that. With all the benefit of his tree-like height, then, he stepped over and tipped it up again for her, settling it better in place on her hair.

(Daffodil hadn’t been wearing a wreath of flowers tonight, but she had had little pink flowers in her hair to match her dress.)

“Anyway, it’s lovely. Your royal tour of Honeydukes later this week, then?” Elias said, his mind somewhere else again. The bouquet-making stand had cleared around them, and dusk well and truly had fallen; the flower show was winding down, and the evening portion of the Potts’ party gearing up. A pang: he had been supposed to be spending the evening with Miss Potts. “Are you staying for the dancing?”

The following 2 users Like Elias Grimstone's post:
   Daffodil Potts, Irene Crawley

lady is the light of my life! <3
It hadn’t been Irene’s intention to crown herself, but she grinned widely at his suggestion all the same, electing to not correct his assumption. She resisted the urge to continue to preen in a ridiculous manner and take the joke further; again, her reaction to the excess pollen strewn about the tables might have something to do with that. Instead, she leaned forward almost at the same time he reached out to adjust the crown, slightly tilting her head back to help counter the surprising weight of it.

“I have a few clients to visit earlier in the week, but later you can depend upon me taking you up on that.” She warned humorously, stepping back as her eyes went skyward as if they might be able to see how the crown fit across her forehead. In a brief moment of distraction, she thought she actually did rather well at constructing the circlet. If she was being honest, she was rather relieved he hadn’t asked her more about flowers; she couldn’t go on and on as much about them as she could about paintings or artistic movements.

But as she turned her attention back to Elias, her smile dropped a fraction; something had shifted. Had she gone too far with her joking? He had seemed to take it in stride, but she was plagued with the thought that she had cheated at their game. A chill that had nothing to do with the sunset skittered across her flesh. Rubbing her opposite arm with her hand to get rid of the gooseflesh that had appeared, Irene forced her to focus on his next question: dancing.

Another flutter in her chest as her heart betrayed her again, and she was overcome with the wild notion that he might ask her for a dance. She hadn’t planned on staying…but perhaps this might be a sign he didn’t want her to leave quite yet. So she nodded, “Of course I’ll stay. It’ll be fun!”

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It was unkind of him, Elias realised, to have been quietly hoping she would say no, and make some other excuse about getting an early night or having too much work to do. Unkind, and selfish, and entirely merciless and –

It’ll be fun, she said, and he forced himself to grin at her. “Alright, then,” he agreed, forced-cheerfully, as he watched Daffodil Potts cross the garden towards them again. (She had kept her promise then, and not abandoned him entirely, and if his smile softened at seeing her, he did his best to conceal it, but...)

He stifled a sigh, and loosened the set of his shoulders in a stretch, abandoning his bouquet where it lay. He didn’t know about fun, but if their earlier exchange had been anything to go by, the rest of the evening would certainly be awkward.

The following 1 user Likes Elias Grimstone's post:
   Daffodil Potts

lady is the light of my life! <3

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