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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

A Shiver of Something New
October 29th, 1892 - Wildflowers Florist & Gifts, Diagon Alley
Elias Grimstone

The streetlamps were being lit and Daffy could scarcely breathe for all of the running around she'd done today. The opening of Wildflowers had gone as well as she could have hoped for. It wasn't packed all day, but a steady stream of friends, family and Alley shoppers had made their way in and out with purchases. She was completely sold out of treats from Mr. Honeyduke, but she had taken two minutes earlier in the day to owl him to request more. The cupcakes he had made for the day were a beautiful mix of florals and All Hallows' Eve inspired treats, plus some exclusive truffle flavors he intended only to sell through Daffodil, since she provided the flowers that created the extracts. She had wanted to open on the thirty-first, but thought a Saturday opening would go over better.

September had been rough for her emotionally and so she had poured herself into getting the shop ready for a late October opening. She had insisted on doing all of the work herself, aside from a mural Zinnia had painted behind the till. Her floral picture frames hung on the brick wall and between ivies and charmed wisteria from the ceiling. She'd left the brink unpainted but the sunny yellow on the wall opposite was balanced and a little muted by the sheer amount of greenery and wood tones she'd used for shelves to showcase the plants, books, vases, and a myriad of other small knickknacks she had worked out deals with to see for other local independent entrepreneurs. She had some beautiful glass vases in stunning colors and organic shapes; Zinnia had some paintings on the wall; Mr. Honeyduke's sweets of course; she had even made some beautiful little floral arrangements herself that were meant to be dried and used for decoration. There were somewhat akin to what Elias had made for her, something uniquely lovely that could be displayed all year, like the original that sat on her desk upstairs and the replicas she had sprinkled into the décor. All in all, she was proud of herself for where she'd come in such a short amount of time and it had her looking around at her accomplishments with a fond, albeit sort-of-sad smile.

The large grandfather clock in the corner chimed a later hour than she expected and as she watched the light fade both inside and outside of the shop, she realized it was long past time to lock up and head upstairs. She was exhausted, through and through, a bone-deep sort of tired that almost ached, but she didn't mind. This was exactly what she needed to keep herself going. What she also needed was a little tea and an early bedtime. The books could wait until tomorrow to be balanced. From across the room, Daff pointed her wand at the back door to lock that, then at the curtains on the front to close those. She was about to close and lock the front door when she realized there was a familiar figure standing on the stoop. Nearly jumping out of her skin, Daff felt her heart jump into her throat and hurried over to the threshold of the shop.

"Hi," She greeted breathlessly, wholly surprised to see him there. She had, somewhat intentionally (and regrettably), let their communication slow after the flower show back in May. It wasn't something she was proud of, but it also hadn't been a situation she was prepared to, or knew how to deal with, especially after her encounters with both Noble and Irene since then. She was sure that Thistle had been covering for her at the florist in Hogsmeade, but she also knew that asking her sister to flat out lie for her was another thing entirely. "Thistle told you where to find me?" She guessed with a small, sheepish smile. "Welcome to Wildflowers." Daff held both her breath and the door open for him to come inside if he wanted.

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

[Image: Daff-Sig-New.png]
The pumpkins were out in full force in the garden again at this time of year, the vivid orange difficult to miss from his windows. It ought to be a cheering sight, but this year they had mostly made him pensive. There hadn’t been any flowers to put on the workshop windowsill in quite some time, and the letters had been few and far between since spring.

It was all very good wondering what he had done to cause it – or what he hadn’t, perhaps – but he had mulled it over often enough since May and was no less bewildered. She had seemed so keen for him to come to the flower show then – their friendship then had begun to feel to him as though it was going somewhere – and now, whether or not there had been any reality in that, it had somehow, regardless, slipped entirely through his hands. Was his burgeoning interest already too plain, and she’d decided that it was better not to keep up their friendship in case she gave him too much encouragement? Or (more likely, he suspected, knowing himself) had he not been effusive enough? Had he not shown enough interest? Perhaps he had been too slow to act – too guarded in nature – and she’d given up on him in disappointment and long since moved on.

His own work had been busy enough, and the routine of it easy enough to fall back on, retreat back into as he always did – but he had still dropped in at the Florist Potts from time to time, and Daffodil had almost always been busy. Maybe that was perfectly true. But Elias hadn’t been able to shake a small, gnawing doubt that perhaps she was deliberately avoiding him; and that would really make him a fool, because in that case he still couldn’t fathom what he had done.

When he stepped out from the workshop at the end of the day, he’d gone on a whim to see her – and, unexpectedly, had been directed to Diagon Alley instead. He gazed at the little shop. Wildflowers. Reason enough that he hadn’t seen her in the last few months, he supposed. (Why she had not mentioned this project of hers at all, he couldn’t say. Surely she must have guessed that he would have been interested, and enthusiastic, and glad for her?)

Well, never mind: he was pleased for her now, standing outside the closed shop door, and if there was a distant pang of disappointment that came with it, Elias let it be. It was obviously closed and – he hadn’t knocked; he’d only meant to linger on the doorstep for a moment more – he hadn’t expected the door to open.

“Oh,” he exclaimed as he came face to face with Daffodil, surprised to see her after all. “Yes.” The flash of feeling when he saw her hadn’t changed – but now as he smiled there was a little perfunctory awkwardness in it, because although she had just said welcome, he couldn’t pretend he felt it. “It looks lovely. I think I’ve missed opening hours, though,” Elias pointed out carefully. Clearly he had, so he was not about to put Daffodil out by barging in now. “Sorry. I’ll come back another day.”

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   Daffodil Potts

lady is the light of my life! <3
Daffy nearly winced, the guilt starting to consume her as she watched his reaction. It wasn't as if she could blame him; she had practically left him in the wind and without any explanation. He deserved that much. He deserved more. He deserved somebody who could give him all of them, every ounce, every fiber of their being and though Daffy wanted to be that for him, that much she knew, she just wasn't sure if she could. It had taken her longer than she would have cared to admit, after Noble had left the shop the last time she'd seen him. It had been enough, even if she knew it would never actually be enough for her without him, he seemed particularly determined to move on, to dig his heels in and deal with his problems on his own and no amount of begging and pleading on her end was going to change his mind.

And so she had to move on.

The question was, could she? She had tried once, had almost succeeded and then she had messed that up too. What the hell was wrong with her? She couldn't let go of Noble, even though he was forcing her to. It was hard to give up on that kind of love, a friendship-turned-affection. A first kiss. Stolen moments and secret looks. Working through hardships together, like the loss of his father. But it hadn't been enough and now Elias, perfect, gentlemanly, easy-to-get-along-with Elias was standing right in front of her. Even though she had practically given up on him, he had still shown up, he'd put in the effort she was looking for; was in a position where something between them could happen, a rare opportunity in this world to fall in love with somebody who fit exactly what she needed if she could.

The opportunity to was standing right in front of her now. Or at least it had bean an opportunity once. She had to explain herself, she knew that, he did deserve it after all. Would he hear her out? Her heartbeat quickened with it now, as he made an excuse to leave and it left Daff scrambling with what to say. "Please stay, I owe you an explanation." She hovered there in the doorway, hoping he would at least let her try to explain. Even if he decided she was as crazy as she felt, at least she had put it all out there to let him decide. There was no need to dance around the subject. Daffy had learned that she needed to be more direct with what she said. Though she had always been one to say what was on her mind, she needed to start thinking about things before she spoke and she had done a lot of thinking about this over the last couple of weeks.

[Image: Daff-Sig-New.png]
Elias hesitated. She had said please stay, and he was sure it had to be sincere – Daffodil had never seemed the sort of person not to honestly mean what she said. Her letters – her kindnesses – had never felt halfhearted. And maybe something had changed or waned since, but even if this was only to be a cordial acquaintance, there was no sense in accepting the loss of that sliver of friendship too.

“You don’t,” Elias contested lightly, with a little old fondness creeping back in. (It was hard to properly nurse the disappointment and dismay with Daffodil when she was right here, looking up with her wide, expectant gaze.) “You don’t owe me anything.” He shook his head to say that she was forgiven, whatever it was – there had been nothing between them, and no right therefore to demand any explanation – and offered her a sincerer smile to assure her of it.

Still, if that alone was not enough to repair their easy friendship, maybe he should stay? She was holding the door open. He cast a sidelong glance down the street, supposing that it might be worse to linger on the doorstep in full view of any curious passers-by, letting conclusions to be drawn. Best not to spark any public chatter, not when he couldn’t even begin to understand where they stood now, himself. Not that stepping inside was any better, in terms of what was proper – but oh, it was just the shop floor. And... “Well, just for a moment, if you really don’t mind,” Elias conceded, smiling despite himself; he edged past her across the threshold of the shop, stooping a little through the door. “Just to see.” If this was all her own hard work, he really was interested to see just what she had been pouring all her efforts into.

lady is the light of my life! <3
Relieved he at least came inside, Daffy closed the door softly and locked it, flipping the "open" sign to "closed" before she did. Even if he felt that she didn't owe him an explanation, Daffy was determined to put to words her jumbled thoughts and feelings. Sooner or later she was going to combust if she didn't get it all out.

"I want to show you something." Daffy couldn't have this conversation on the shop floor, not so close to where everything had shattered again. Even if the room was completely different now than it had been when Noble was here last, she needed the physical separation. Motioning with one hand to follow her, Daff made her way over to the back stairs. They led up one floor to her flat where Winston was snoozing on his bed in the sitting room, snoring softly and oblivious to anything else going on. But Daff continued upward to the rooftop garden where she spent most of her free time these days.

As she pushed through the door, she flicked her wand to light the lanterns she had dotted throughout what had wound up being a recreation of the display at the flower show. Small frames hung from the cherry tree growing in the corner near her beloved pumpkin plants. Daffy hadn't intended for it to look like the corner of her garden at home, but as she worked it had subconsciously started turning into this and she hadn't noticed until it was all done. Maybe she had wanted to recreate the last moment she remembered being honestly happy, she didn't know, but even now, as it did every time, a small smile tugged at her lips.

"I haven't showed this to anyone else," Daffy admitted, realizing that was true for the first time. Maybe it was because it wasn't just hers, maybe because he was the only other one who would understand, but she hoped it explained a little, better than anything she could say before she actually tried.

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

[Image: Daff-Sig-New.png]
Just the shop floor, he’d told himself. But he barely had a moment to survey the place before Daffodil was leading him somewhere else. Brow creased, Elias followed her up the stairs, expecting more of the shop if anything, but no, they had left the new florist’s behind. This, rather, was a set of rooms – her flat, he supposed, and if that was so he really shouldn’t be here – and he had only caught a quick glimpse again before she was starting on another flight of stairs –

He suppressed a noise of consternation in his throat, now entirely bewildered, and half-convinced he ought to make a hasty protest. But he probably ought to trust that Daffodil knew what she was doing here, so... (And after so long since they had spent any real time together, Elias had to admit he was curious about what it could be, and the idea that she had spared any thought for him at all.)

There was a flicker of anticipation in his chest as they ascended into the fresh air again. Fresher than most city air, in fact, what with all the greenery and the pumpkins and the... The pumpkins! Elias let out a delighted breath of laughter the more he looked, because this was the flower show all over again; this was better; and once was a lovely gesture, but this was... Daffodil hadn’t shown it to anyone else, she’d said. But no one could possibly have felt the same wave of pleasure as he did at seeing the pumpkin plants and the hanging frames and even the branches of the cherry tree. And it was completely hers.

Elias shot her a disbelieving smile, and bit down on his tongue to better restrain himself. He didn’t know what to say. Maybe it didn’t matter, anyway: the smile edged into a broad grin before he could help himself, and he was sure that said enough. “It’s –” he shook his head helplessly at her and just met her gaze instead.

“You know, I couldn’t really picture you living in London,” he admitted eventually, now that her figure was naturally framed by the plants around her and the lantern light bleeding out into the dusky haze. “But now –” he gestured at this little haven she had made for herself – “now it makes sense.”

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

lady is the light of my life! <3
Much in the same way she had held her breath at the flower show, she watched him now, breathing out a sigh of relief as the smile on his face was more like what she was used to seeing. Her whole body relaxed a little bit, thankfully, though she still felt the need to explain herself, she hadn't the slightest clue where to start.

"I wasn't sure either," She replied honestly. The Alley was an interesting place to call home, busy always, brighter than she was used to, but she thought she could make it home with the right things and the right... People. "So I brought a little piece of home and some things that make me happy with me." She looked around, smiling to herself as she ran her fingers over the leaves of the nearest branch. When she started putting the rooftop together, it was without a plan, building and planting as she went, and slowly this had been what had come together; it felt right in the end. Maybe it was what she'd been missing after all.

Still— "I'm sorry I stopped writing." That had been missing as well and she hadn't realized how much she missed looking forward to the post each day until it was only shop business going in and out. "I'm kind of a huge mess these days," Which was an understatement, but it was all she could really tell him. "I didn't want to drag you into it." That was half the truth. She truly hadn't wanted to pull him under while she was struggling to stay afloat. Daffy had known well enough that she'd needed to do a lot of introspection to sort out all of her feelings on where she stood in regards to her heart before figuring it what to do next.

[Image: Daff-Sig-New.png]
Elias could have looked at the little garden for hours, with the way it kindled a warm feeling in his chest; but she had brought their conversation back to the reality of the situation too soon, so instead he picked loosely at the cuff of one of his sleeves and listened.

It was a moment before he gathered his thoughts well enough to answer, grateful for the apology but still uncertain of what had been going on in the first place to cause that quiet fracturing. “From here, at least, you don’t seem to be doing too badly,” he pointed out, mildly enough – and gestured lightly at the garden, thinking of the flat and the newly opened flower shop, all her burgeoning successes. He might have believed she had been busy, because she obviously had; but if something else had been going on, she hadn’t let him see anything of it, so how could he begin to imagine what she’d been going through?

He wouldn’t demand any more than she was willing to tell him, of course – if that was all Daffodil decided to say, what else was there to do but nod and accept it? – but neither his curiosity or his confusion had died away. And if this was all some attempt to make some gentler excuses, to blame herself to make him feel better or something – well, he wished she wouldn’t. He fancied he could suffer a little unvarnished truth.

“And I – that was thoughtful of you –” Elias admitted, but his smile had faded into a more sober look, with the lingering dissatisfaction in his gut for how the past few months had worn on without any word from her, and with the trouble of how best to express that to her now – “but I don’t mind a bit of mess.”

The following 2 users Like Elias Grimstone's post:
   Daffodil Potts, Melody Crouch

lady is the light of my life! <3
Though it took a moment, Elias seemed to take her explanation at face value, which was a relief. Daff had sort of expected that, being the kind soul that he was, but it didn't alleviate any of her guilt. His last admission gave her what she needed to press on though. She didn't want to burden him with her messiness unless he was willing to let her, which it seemed like he was.

Tears prickled at the corners of her eyes as she fought for the right words. "This," She gestured vaguely at their surroundings. "Was just a distraction from heartbreak," And it had served its purpose well. She was far too busy and therefore too tired to think about what had gone wrong in her life leading up to this. "One I was already healing from when we met," He too had been a balm for the hurt she had been feeling and she had wanted to let it cure her completely, but still wasn't sure she could let it. Or if he was even interested.

"You have been nothing short of extraordinary, a life boat in an emotional storm of my own making," She sniffled, swiping away a few leaked tears. And she meant that too. He showed up, he put in effort, he reciprocated and he appreciated the effort she had also put in. "But at the flower show, with Irene, I thought maybe I had gotten ahead of myself, you two seemed awfully familiar with each other," Not entirely unlike whatever it was that had been blossoming between them. "And it seemed sort of awkward and I didn't want to set myself up for another heartache." Not to mention Noble, but he had finally and completely removed himself from the situation. "So I plunged head first into this shop and my own space, distancing myself to preserve what little solace I had left " For the most part, it had worked too.

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   Elias Grimstone

[Image: Daff-Sig-New.png]
Oh. There was a lot to digest in this – the question of some other heartbreak, her emotional state, Irene – but most of all was the awful sight of tears welling in her eyes, which wrung out his insides at once. Maybe she was more of a mess than he’d thought.

Elias let out a slow breath at her calling him a life boat, because there had been a sudden spark of fear that perhaps he had been just a distraction from heartbreak too, that he had gotten ahead of himself, but –

“I’m sorry you’ve been hurting,” he said quietly, seeing all that emotional stress and suffering on her face and feeling guilty he’d noticed none of it before. Elias was no stranger to throwing himself into his work to avoid everything else; he was no stranger to heartbreak, either, and knew how it felt to have built up walls to prevent it happening again. When or how those walls had fallen, he didn’t know, but distance was the last thing on his mind now – taking a step closer, he reached for one of her hands, clasped it between his own. “I’d have tried harder to be here if I’d known.”

He shook his head at himself, because that apparently wasn’t all that needed saying. “And – about the flower show – Irene and I have been friends for a long time,” Elias said firmly. “And that’s it. That’s all there is between us.” He squeezed Daffodil’s hand, meeting her eyes and hoping she would understand him. “But that’s not how I feel about you.”

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

lady is the light of my life! <3
Tears leaked out in a slow steady stream, leaving Daffy feeling a little exposed. She hadn't told anyone anything about the situation with Noble and while she hadn't even given any details, only that there had been heartbreak, Daff felt lighter for it, even if it left her feeling a little raw as well. She'd been too caught up in trying to hold herself together, because she really didn't want to open the floodgates to this if she could help it. Even a slow leak was dangerous, but as he approached and took her hand in his, she nearly lost it.

She let out a breathless little laugh, he would have tried harder to be there for her. How could he even reach another gear of kindness? Daff had left him completely in the wind and he was here telling her that he's sorry and he would have tried to do more. It felt a little surreal, to say the least. Was he actually real and not some figment of her imagination created to get her through this rough patch in life?

Smiling slowly, despite the trickling of tears, Daff felt something swell in her chest and it was both a mixture of elation and apprehension. If asked, would Irene say the same? Could Daff ignore that fact along with the fact that she still wasn't completely over Noble? It was hard to tell when Elias was so close, so earnest and expressing exactly what she wanted to hear, which was all well and good in the moment, but would she let those thoughts needle at her to the point of driving her crazy? Hadn't she earned a little happiness when it was all said and done? The contradiction of what she thought she deserved and what others wanted was going to eat her alive if she let it.

In the end, at least for this moment, Daff needed to do what she needed to do to start filling in the cracks of her broken heart and that meant pushing what anyone else thought aside. She wanted to focus on the wonderful man in front of her who had proven again and again that he also thought she was worth it. "Well good, because that is how I feel about you, too." She squeezed his hand and blew out a shaky breath, managing a better smile. "I'm sorry it took me so long to figure it out." Or allowed herself to feel it.

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

[Image: Daff-Sig-New.png]
He couldn’t bear to see her upset like this; couldn’t fathom how anyone could have hurt her that way. But she didn’t seem completely distraught – there was a breath of a laugh, the beginnings of a smile breaking through like sunlight after rain.

And she felt the same – almost without realising, Elias let out the breath he’d been holding and let go of any residual doubt or injury he’d had at her sudden distance. (It was startlingly easy to forgive her; it took no effort at all.) And maybe he was almost thankful for the distance – he’d already known how he felt about her, at least to some degree, but there had been a caution there too, some reluctance to act on it, until he had had occasion to realise just how much he missed her presence in his life when she was gone.

So – “Don’t be sorry,” he countered softly, smiling back to assure her he was only teasing. Stepping forwards, he lifted his other hand up to cup her face; he was half-tempted to do more, but he settled for carefully wiping the tearstains from her cheek with his thumb. “And you can take all the time you want,” he added, with another, broader smile, a flash of teeth; “I’m not going anywhere.” There was a pleasant knot of feeling in his stomach at the idea – and he was certainly not about to give up on this that easily, not now he knew that she felt the same.

lady is the light of my life! <3
It was hard to even put into words what she wanted to articulate, the feeling was just there and she hadn't been sure she would ever feel this way about someone ever again. It was different too, the affection she felt for Elias already blossoming and changing from what it once had been. This had potential, real potential, to last and Daff rather thought she was ready for that, no matter how recent and ongoing her previous heartbreak seemed to be.

Daff sighed softly, leaning into his touch, eyes closed briefly as she sniffled back the last of the tears. This was good. This was exactly what she needed. He was exactly what she needed. He was everything she could ask for and more; it was almost unreal. He was earnest and true, patient and kind, and showed in everything he did, everything he said and she couldn't even begin to explain how it made her feel. There was something about being chosen, that fact that he was willing to wait for her to sort herself out, to deal with her mess willingly, that started to sew up the cracks of her broken heart.

To think that they had once been strangers was almost unfathomable right now. To think she had gone so long without him was unthinkable.

Smiling, she finally looked up at him, "I think I might be dreaming, are you sure you're real?" The breathless laugh that escaped was light, her free hand coming to rest atop his as she realized just how lucky she was; Daff was determined not to mess things up again, of that she was certain, as certain as she was about how she was falling head over heels for him without even trying.

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

[Image: Daff-Sig-New.png]
“Mm, I don’t know,” Elias said, with a light laugh in return, and a little disapproving shake of his head, though he couldn’t stop himself from grinning. “Could be that the London fumes are already getting to your head,” he teased, although the smog didn’t seem so bad up here, surrounded by all her greenery – and she was being daft, of course. “Or to mine,” he considered. If anyone was dreaming, it ought to be him. An impromptu concussion didn’t seem out of the realm of possibility; some unlikely daze that had led him here, to someone he hadn’t ever expected to find.

Because Elias had long since come to terms with the prospect of being alone: he could have been perfectly contented with it. He liked his life; he was happy in it. This burst of feeling was something rare, and rather new – her hand covered his and he felt a shiver run through him, because he had always kept some slight measure of distance from her before. He had been determined to do things properly, so this – this was as close as they had ever been.

He wasn’t sure it was close enough – and he meant what he said about waiting, that she should take as long as she needed to let him in – but what with that last remark, Elias supposed that she might need a little assurance. Rather than pinch himself, he let go of her and put his arms around her instead, folding Daffodil into an embrace to prove the reality of this, or just because he wanted to hold onto her and this moment for a while yet. Besides, it had to be real, because there were certain things here he never would have dreamt up himself – her own shop, the rooftop garden with the pumpkins, the smell of her hair.

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   Daffodil Potts

lady is the light of my life! <3
Daff laughed more earnestly this time, his reply entirely not what she was expecting. The relief that the tension had passed, that he had not only heard her out, but decided she wasn't crazy and was willing to wait for her to get herself together, (not that she thought that was going to take very long at all) was almost as overwhelming as having him so close.

Close wasn't close enough though and Daffy finally felt all of the anxiety that had built up melt away as he wrapped his arms around her. Funny how a simple embrace from the right person could magically fix anything. Daffy exhaled slowly as she snuggled in, pressing her cheek to his chest and just absorbing as much of him as she could. Everything from the steady beat of his heart to the woodsy smell of his jacket felt real, so no, she mustn't be dreaming after all. Thank Merlin for that.

Closing her eyes, Daff wished she could freeze this moment in its entirety, wondering if it could be any more perfect. Part of her still worried that the bottom could drop out at any moment, but she shoved the notion away without another thought, knowing she could only look forward from here. "Perhaps," She mumbled after a few minutes of just breathing him in, still unsure she wanted to pop this happy bubble, "If the smog is to blame, I could show you the rest of the space." Daff wanted to share with him every inch of the building (skipping her personal rooms for now, obviously) from here, to the shop, to the workshop in the basement, to the greenhouse in the back, but it also didn't have to be tonight. She didn't want him to go just yet, but if she stood here too much longer all wrapped up and warm against him, she might actually fall asleep.

[Image: Daff-Sig-New.png]
This hadn’t been how he had expected his little jaunt to Diagon Alley to go – none of this had been. Seeing her and her new shop had been one thing, and clearing the air between them another – and that would have been enough, in itself – but if Elias had foreseen everything and told himself all this half an hour ago, he wouldn’t have believed a word of it.

But now he had proof she felt the same, and at least she was laughing instead of crying, and it felt entirely natural to have her pressed against him. He was in no real rush to move, either, but he smiled quietly into the top of her head at her suggestion. “I can tell you already, the pumpkins are my favourite part,” he murmured, only half-joking. But he loosened his arms around her, shifted one small pace back to look at her better. “I would still like to see the rest of it,” he admitted. But it was clearer than ever that dusk had long since fallen, and – whether there were feelings here or not – clearer than ever that they probably shouldn’t be so alone together, if he did still want to do things properly.

(And the last thing Daffodil needed the week her new place opened were the rumour mills turning out nonsense. Or not-nonsense, as the case may be.) “But – aren’t you tired?” he asked, peering at her again. Nevermind the emotional upheaval he’d just witnessed, she must have had a busy day – a busy few weeks and months of preparation to recover from. He really should go; he should come back another day, in opening hours next time. Elias knew this, but he was still standing there. He rested a hand on her arm, toying gently with the fabric of her dress and not quite able to let go because – well, since this was the first time he had consciously given himself permission for any physical contact, he was loath to surrender it quite so quickly.

lady is the light of my life! <3

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