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Welcome to Charming, the year is now 1892. It’s time to join us and immerse yourself in scandal and drama interlaced with magic both light and dark.

Where will you fall?

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“Cheese and Crust” - an exclamation common among the lower classes. A perversion of the invocation of the name of Jesus Christ, though considered somewhat respectful for its veiling of the oath. — Bounce
Maybe a choice shade of grey - the closest thing she had to mourning clothes - as a symbolic marker that her relationship with Victor was dead.
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#1
July 23, 1892 - Theo's Office
They'd won the game, not that Cash had been much help. It was one of those rare the chasers outperform the seekers situations, and the victory was like ash in his mouth. He was distracted. He'd been distracted. Obviously. The eventual announcement loomed, and if he didn't talk to Theo soon, well — if he didn't talk to Theo soon he was a terrible person.

The rest of the team had left or was leaving, and Cash was redressed and damp when he appeared in the doorway of Theo's office. He knocked one knuckle against the door frame and closed and locked the door behind him. "I really fucked that one up, huh?" he said, still distractible.

@Theodore Gallivan @Elias Grimstone



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#2
He’d done the press rounds, given the chasers their due, then made his excuses and at last returned alone to his office.

When Cash came knocking, Theo was perched on the desk waiting for him, and had just poured himself a drink from a secret stash of firewhiskey. “Mm,” Theo agreed, with a grin and no bite at all. “Don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you.”

It sounded more playful than it probably should – and by the next morning of training, meeting with their coach, or in front of anyone else, it would be back to business, appropriately stern about his seeking – but Cash hadn’t come here for a lecture.

And he could forgive it: everyone had their off days, even in professional quidditch. If this really was just a bad day, and not a symptom of anything worse – there had been something faraway about Cash’s mood recently, but Theo was hoping it was just the general tensions of quidditch.

So: “Drink?” he asked, waving the bottle hopefully. In victory or as consolation, whichever would better weather the comedown from the match. If not, he was happy to try – other tactics.


#3
Firewhiskey seemed like a nice little escape, one Cash shouldn't take for this conversation — but if he was going to do the hard thing anyways, maybe he should let himself have a little bit of an out for it. "A drink sounds great," he agreed, trying for a grin at Theo and coming up with some approximation of one.

He sat on the edge of Theo's desk, a familiar little gesture of disrespect-turned-intimacy. There was something warm in his chest alongside the dread. He didn't know where to start. So what he ended up saying was, "Have we ever talked about my father?"


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   Theodore Gallivan



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#4
Cash was grinning, just about – so maybe he wasn’t too cut up about the match. Either way, Theo poured him a measure and slid the glass along the desk to him. He hadn’t lifted his own drink before he’d heard the question; which was good, or he might have choked on it out of sheer surprise at the topic of the question.

“Yours?” Theo echoed with a creased brow and slight confusion – his father had come up from time to time, mostly because of the quidditch connection or else because he was ‘dead’ – but Cash’s father? Not really. Not that they didn’t have better things to do nowadays, but nonetheless, Theo hadn’t ever made it much of a habit to ask after Cash’s family, because... well, what had he said once about the Lestranges? They weren’t close. (Excluding the aftermath of the hurricane, for the most part that had seemed almost like an understatement.)

“Um, not really, I don’t think.” Theo raised his eyebrows rather than voicing the next question on his mind, because he thought it was fairly obvious. Why?


#5
Cash frowned and looked at the amber liquid in his glass. He took a sip before replying, and before he looked back at Theo. "He doesn't love us," Cash said, "He doesn't — like me, really. We're part of a legacy." Cash and his siblings were not means to an end — the Lestrange family would never end — but they were means to that legacy. He tapped his finger against the glass.

"He wants me to change my life," he admitted.





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#6
The things Cash was saying were not surprising, exactly, because Theo could have guessed as much, that was how those old moneyed purist families sometimes were – or at least looked from the outside, foreign and cold and formal, all duty and no affection – but it was one thing to have that idea on the fringes of his mind, and another to hear it said aloud, starkly damning, a son about his own father.

Theo’s chest was tight with anger for Cash’s sake, at that unfairness. He had hated his father for many things, but in spite of everything, he had always known his father loved him. How hard would it have been for a man like Cash’s father to – care even a little about his son?

He squeezed Cash’s arm in sympathy – and he had meant the gesture to be brief, but just then Theo heard the last remark and forgot to retract his hand, too distracted. He bit the inside of his cheek, wary of the possibilities. “Change your life how?”


#7
Theo's hand was on Cash's arm, and Cash felt a wave of guilt. He was marrying Miss Selwyn, and he couldn't give her a partner, and he was going to disappoint Theo. And he was going to fail the Cannons, because he still had a few seasons left in him, but his father was taking those away from him.

It took him a moment to decide which was more important: the Quidditch or the marriage.

"He wants me to marry," Cash said. "He's arranging a wedding, I — Theo, I never wanted this."


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#8
No. The bottom of his stomach dropped out too far, too fast.

No. Theo tried to stay still and calm in spite of it, but every next second made the situation sound worse and worse. He wants me to marry was not the same, not nearly as bad as he’s arranging a wedding. (Not a meeting with some girl, not a courtship, not an engagement, somehow he had leapt straight to wedding?) And arranging a wedding still wasn’t as damning as Cash’s last appeal, like the news had worn stale in a breath – like his words already spelled desperation.

His hand fell away from Cash slowly, his throat too tight to answer. He didn’t know what to say, anyway. This had not occurred to him as something of which to be afraid: marriage as an entire concept felt distant to him, some other stage of life, too faint on the horizon to even feel inevitable. Cash wasn’t that much older than him, and he was a second son, and besides, he was still playing quidditch for a career – it would have been years before Theo was scared of this.

And he’d been grasping at days, had been grateful for weeks and months of having him; he had never dared to let himself think about years. So the shock of it was hard and dizzying – he felt dazed like he’d taken a bludger to the back of his skull, felt caught here, staring numbly at Cash and trying to swallow the thought. Cash didn’t want to get married – of course he didn’t – so it was his father’s fault, and his father didn’t care, but still, surely –

“But can’t you say no?” Theo tried, face still creased. “Can’t you say – something?” (He didn’t know what excuse there might be to make, but Cash would know how to appeal to his father better than he did. There had to be some way out.)

The following 2 users Like Theodore Gallivan's post:
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#9
It was worse than he thought. Theo's hand fell away and Cash pressed his own fingers into the sponsor's desk, hard, trying to get some feeling into them. It was worse than he thought. These middle class men, with their — fathers who loved them, and the sense that this was wrong. Why couldn't everyone just be like the Lestranges, and accept that this was inevitable?

"My father," Cash started. He swallowed. "There are — consequences for disobeying my father."

He dug his nails into the top of the desk. Not enough to gouge it, but enough to whiten the skin of his fingertips from the pressure. He had to stay here, in this conversation, grounded. How was he ever going to marry her if he couldn't do this?

There was a conversation he didn't remember. He'd only really explained this once before, and he'd been half-drunk and his palms were sweating, and it hadn't felt nearly as close. Seven years ago, maybe, when he was nineteen and he wasn't broken yet and Quidditch had felt forever.

"I swore a Vow when I was seventeen," Cash said, haltingly. But after that the words spilled out all at once, a sad panicked rush.

"And it felt like my only option, because — you don't leave the Lestrange family. I'll be under my father's thumb —" he'd said this before, it echoed in his mouth "— for the rest of my life. And — he knows, Theo, he knows that I'm attracted to men because he caught me once and he can never catch me again."

The following 3 users Like Cassius Lestrange's post:
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#10
Consequences. That wasn’t a real answer, so Theo waited impatiently for more.

Once he had, he wished he hadn’t heard it at all. There was white noise in his brain, because this was so much worse than he’d expected, it was insane, and he – he couldn’t just sit anymore.

Theo slid off the edge of the desk and paced a step or two away, as if the movement would dislodge the information from his head. It didn’t. He turned back to face Cash again, ashen-faced and horrified. “An unbreakable vow,” he said in disbelief, so flatly it wasn’t even a question, his chest tightening into knots the more he thought about it. What other kind of stupid Vow was there?

The – fucking Lestranges. This wasn’t normal, this wasn’t even explicable. Theo’s father had turned into a werewolf and tried to kill him once, and maybe, just maybe, that would have been an understandable reason for making an unbreakable vow... and still, even then, his father had never forced him or Cecily to swear anything to inviolable secrecy, because they were his children and that was not what people did.

But here was the proof that sometimes they did. Cash’s father knew about him. (Could never catch him again – and Theo’s questions about that were too much, too difficult to verbalise just yet; then why were we doing this?) Regardless, it was clear that Lucius Lestrange had complete control over his son, which meant Cash would have to get married and do whatever his father wanted forever, for the rest of his life. Or the rest of his father’s life, Theo amended darkly – as if just hoping Cash’s father died (or murdering the head of the fucking Wizengamot) was some kind of reasonable solution.

It crossed his mind fleetingly, but he didn’t ask out loud why Cash had never told him any of this before, because – Jesus Christ, he could guess the answer already, he knew he wasn’t taking it well. But even if he calmed down about it, he would still be stuck in it, caught in the reality and the horror of Cash’s situation...  There was no escape from this conversation even if he wanted one, no escape from Cash’s life. (How had Cash lived with this since he was seventeen?)

Theo pressed the heel of his hand into his forehead for a moment, letting it fall to look at him again. “What the fuck did you swear?”

The following 4 users Like Theodore Gallivan's post:
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#11
Cash didn't understand why people always seemed so surprised by the Unbreakable Vow; of all the things Lucius did, the Vow seemed to be one of the less shocking. But all of these people who ought to know already — Theo, Ford, (Eli) — were so astonished whenever the Vow came up.

"I wanted —" Cash sighed. "I was never supposed to be able to play professional Quidditch. He was never going to let me. But — your father offered me first-string. So I had to ask. And we made a deal." He'd been so young. Cash could never think about it straight-on, but: if he was given the choice again, he wasn't sure he would make the Vow.

The tenets of the Unbreakable Vow lived in his bones whether or not he wanted to think about it. He wasn't looking directly at Theo, now — he was looking somewhere past him, at the blank wooden panels of the stadium wall. "I cannot publicly disgrace the family," he said, "I cannot move out of Lucius' house until I marry. Seneca was not allowed to go to my Quidditch games. We're required to get lunch once a week."

He sighed. "And — he picks what I do, after Quidditch."





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#12
Theo looked indignantly at him at the mention of his father, as if some of the fault was Nathaniel Gallivan’s for having scouted him – although if there was any merit in that, then from this vantage point that was some messed-up irony. And he had always known how important quidditch was to Cash – he’d witnessed the way Cash was when quidditch wasn’t the easy cure to everything – but now he saw it so much better, how quidditch had been Cash’s one real freedom in life. Something he’d chosen. Something he, for all intents and purposes, had gone and sold his soul for.

“You did it for quidditch,” he echoed hoarsely, scoffing simply because he didn’t know how else to face the incomprehensible madness of the thought. So, fine, he had gotten to be a seeker, and in exchange he would just – drop dead if he happened to publicly disgrace the family? (That was so vague, so dangerously broad: how many risks must he have taken in the last nine years? How many times had Cash casually weighed up his life, or seriously considered that he might be caught again?) Theo almost wanted to shake him by the shoulders for ever having agreed to something like that – but if agreeing was mental, then Cash’s father was utterly deranged for demanding it. And this was not the point of anything, but he was resoundingly furious about it anyway: “And he made you swear to – fucking lunch?

Nevermind. He gave up and opened his hands in a despairing gesture, aware it was wasted breath – not only was it years too late to undo anything, Cash was clearly too accustomed to the terms of his confinement to find any outrage with them. Theo exhaled heavily. But now Cash wasn’t even looking at him any more, which sent a new spiral of frustration through him where he stood. “Well at least you can move out, then, now you’re getting married,” Theo said bitterly, as if there was a bright side in it, and no bile rising in his throat.

(If there had been a more pointed hint about anything in the last condition Cash had mentioned, he had missed it. Future career changes didn’t yet seem so dire, compared to the sudden, nauseating possibility of having to share the sponsor’s box at matches with Cash’s fiancée, whoever she was.)

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#13
Cash felt like a void for absorbing other people's anger; Ford and Theo had both been upset by this in a way he couldn't understand. Of course he was getting married, of course he'd sworn a Vow — because at least with the Vow he'd gotten a few years of Quidditch, and that had always been more than he'd dared to ask for. And maybe Quidditch hadn't saved him, wasn't the same lifeline as it had been when he was younger — but it was still something.

He looked back at Theo, a little baffled. "It was always going to be like this eventually," he said. They didn't get it. He didn't understand why they didn't get it. This would have made sense to everyone in the family, but no one outside of it understood. And Cash knew that the Lestranges were the Lestranges, he knew — but sometimes he relearned it anyways.


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#14
Oh. It was no better when Cash was looking at him, because the blank confusion on his face only made the rift between them wider. And Theo – Theo hadn’t thought there was one until now, some fault line he couldn’t cross or place he couldn’t reach. Cash had always seemed so... so different from his family, so separate from that kind of life. All of this had felt – good, easy, weirdly natural. For some reason, Theo had thought they understood each other.

But they didn’t ever talk, did they? Not really, not honestly. Maybe it was his own fault: it had always been too tempting not to push a conversation beyond the comfortable, simpler not to ask, better just to let things slide. And Theo knew he’d struggled to say what he meant sometimes too, important things, but... it was always going to be like this eventually, came Cash’s calm protest now. That could have been true. But how was Theo supposed to have guessed that, when he’d never said?

“Right,” he said faintly, shortly, moving back towards the desk to reach for his glass. Avoiding Cash’s gaze, he took a long, determined draught. The firewhiskey didn’t help the way he’d wanted it to: his throat was still dry and his face drained of colour, the frustration simmering, the weight of the problem pressing in on all sides. “So,” Theo said finally, trying desperately to keep his emotions in check, mostly so Cash would stop looking at him like that. He lifted his chin but couldn’t quite meet Cash’s eyes any more. “How long do you have?” Do we have, he might as well have said. He meant how long until the wedding. How long do we have until things change? But the worst part of wondering it aloud was the sinking feeling in Theo’s chest telling him that there was no time left – like it was too late, they already had.

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#15
Theo wasn't looking at him. Cash's breath caught in his chest. I'm going to lose him. For some reason, he'd been convinced that if he explained things to Theo carefully enough, that wouldn't happen. He was going to lose him, and he was going to lose Ford, and he was going to be married. And there was no exit available to him.

(He would have lost Eli, too — the thought came to him in a flash.)

"Autumn," he answered. Desperately, he reached out to try and grab onto Theo's wrist. "He won't tell me exactly when. Theo, I —" Cash cut himself off, shook his head. He didn't know what to say. There was nothing he could say; nothing would ever be enough.





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#16
Autumn. So soon.

Theo should have avoided the contact – Cash’s fingers curling around his wrist – on principle; or because he was angry; or something. But he didn’t resist, just stood there and let it happen, like he could test his theory by that touch alone. Whether everything had altered between them in the space of minutes, or there was still any comfort in it.

It wasn’t fair, he decided, that it could be both at once: somehow the lifeline he’d needed and the thing that was going to pull him under if he let it.

But just for a moment, it would be fine. Theo let himself be tethered there – even shifted nearer until he was in front of Cash where he was perched, standing there a little too close, like that first time they’d kissed. He still didn’t want to make eye contact – he felt like his face would betray everything he was attempting to suppress – but he was just about clinging to composure, and, before everything fell apart for good, he was trying to understand. “I know,” he repeated for him, when Cash didn’t finish his sentence. “You never wanted this.”

He believed that much, at least. But now all Theo could think about was how he was going to face the next days and weeks and months of knowing Cash was engaged to be married, and of having to carry on spending time with him until he was. Were they supposed to drag things out in denial, or did he want to end it right now? Or did Cash suppose his being married didn’t matter, and Theo would still be able to work with him and keep seeing him in secret and just be able to pretend not to care? Had Cash been expecting him not to care?

Well, clearly Cash had had time to think things through that he hadn’t. Heart hammering, hoping there was some facet of this he had missed (something that meant what either of them wanted might actually matter), Theo found the courage to lift his gaze again, and asked, earnest and a little helpless: “So... if it was always going to be this, what – what are we supposed to do now?”

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