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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.
dining is pageantry

smile, as if those words should burn me
He could have protested that nothing she did could possibly embarrass him, and at least for the moment it would have been true. Before he'd had a chance to say anything, though, they were interrupted by one of the decorations, apparently newly strayed from the confines of the ballroom. She was annoyed, but Ford couldn't help but be amused now that it wasn't him in the path of the powdered sugar. The dusting of white over her clothes and her hair served to put each of her contours in starker relief, like an etching compared to a sketch. The way she shook her head to try and clear it had him biting back a smile. She was just — so effortlessly charming.

"Here, let me," he offered, reaching out to dust off a prominent lock of hair and smooth it back into place behind her ear.

♡ Set by Bee ♡
Ida felt so unmoored by these confusing feelings, so overwhelmed by her inability to shut down distractions, and so harassed by the sugar that she didn’t even clock the way Mister Greengrass looked at her until it was too late. Only the flutter of fingertips on her hair clued her in. The witch glanced up in shock as he arranged one of her dark curls that came loose behind her ear. Though his motion generated more than shock - it started a fire. So dangerous and unpredictable that it would be negligent of her to let it carry on, and so Ida panicked, and did the very first thing she could think to do to suffocate it– which was to be entirely too honest with the facts.

“I’m in love with a woman,” she blurted out. And before the torrential downpour could be checked against her brain’s screaming terror, “Usually I ignore impulses like this, but I’ve never been in love before, and now I can’t shake this feeling off. In fact, I can hardly think of anything else. And it feels like I might die if I don’t talk to her, and isn’t that–” she huffed an incredulous laugh, “-Isn’t that crazy? Because how is love like that even possible? It’s not,” she answered her rhetorical question, muffling her next words behind two hands that covered her face. “But it feels true, and even though I never do things because of just feelings, I have to do something about this, even though the circumstances are hopeless, because I’m certain I cannot survive if she dislikes me, and this whole thing– I don’t want to be in love with anybody! This is madness!” The young woman punctuated her deluge by throwing her hands up in the air. It was obvious then, from her red-rimmed eyes and pink nose, that she was trying hard to not cry.

But, the cat was out of the bag now. Yes it was terrible, and yes Mister Greengrass likely thought badly of her now, but at least he knew that she would only waste his time. And most shocking of all, her confession came with a sense of relief, like an anvil lifted off her chest.

The following 1 user Likes Ida Chang's post:
   Fortitude Greengrass

[Image: hmTz0M.png]
stefanie made this beautiful set <3
It took the entirety of her speech for Ford to work up the wherewithal to shut his mouth, after it had fallen open in surprise at her first sentence. He'd been distracted from her present restlessness by the interruption of the powdered sugar, and left to his own devices he might have gotten lost staring at her again and forgotten about it completely, but once she said that she commanded his full attention. He didn't know what to think; his mind flit in one direction after another, not making much progress in any particular train of thought. It's that ironic? Because I'm in love with a man, he thought, but of course he would never say that. Even if he was willing to throw caution to the wind when it came to his own reputation, he wouldn't risk dragging Tycho down by talking to someone he barely knew about it. And that gave rise to the second frantic thought: You can't say that — not here where someone could hear — not to me. They didn't actually know each other very well, did they? Ford may have been hanging on her words all night, but prior to this they'd only had one substantial conversation; they were practically strangers, and an admission like that was dangerous.

And it might not even be real. That next thought came on the heels of the sharp sting of disappointment he couldn't help but feel at the revelation (even though he had already suspected she was harboring some sort of feelings for someone else, he had not imagined the object of her affections could have so little in common with him): You're not really, though; you only think you are. But what good would it be to say? He'd been telling himself the same thing about Miss Chang for half the night, and here he was smoking a cigarette for her sake and feeling jealous.

The last thought, and the one that stuck: Miss Chang looked like she was on the verge of breaking down in tears, and at that moment he wanted more than anything else in the world to be able to comfort her. He wanted to touch her — not for his own sake, but because physical contact could be grounding — but thought she might react poorly to something so bold as an embrace, so instead he reached for both of her hands to hold them lightly in his own. "You're not crazy," he said. "That's the sort of love poets write about. Yourself—your soul—in pity give me all, withhold no atom's atom or I die." He swallowed down a lump that had risen to his throat. "You need to be careful. People won't understand," he pointed out. Then, looking at her red-rimmed eyes, Ford made a decision: "I'll help you."

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   Ida Chang

♡ Set by Bee ♡
Ida fully anticipated his shock. Perhaps confusion, dismay, disgust? She expected him to make a swift departure, leaving her rattled but at least alone with her thoughts. In the light of the next day’s nausea and debilitating remorse over everything she said, she would grimace and lay in bed all day, and worry for weeks that he’d tell her brother and she’d be picked up by men in white jackets from St Mungo’s or tricked into a boat headed to Shanghai to be married. That’s what she expected, truly, and she was already halfway to working through justifications for why what she said was still the right thing to do tonight.

But instead, he reached for her hands. Survival instinct had her grab hold, and to the desired outcome— her spiraling thoughts ground to a halt, and she was so bewildered at the response she nearly forgot how hard her heart pounded or how warm her face felt. She even forgot to cry, and looked confused as she tipped her head to the side.

Ida thought to ask him if he heard what she said, but once he quoted a poem to her, she knew he did. Then he carried on quite as amicably as if he’d just found out they prefer the same flavor pie, and this attitude was most astounding of all. He said be careful— people won’t understand.

“What is there to understand,” she half-asked in a meek voice that trailed off without expectation of answer. Because it’s a mental sickness, isn’t it? To fall in love with people one can’t really be in love with. It pointed to something broken in her brain. Perhaps he didn’t take what she said seriously— the thought so outlandish he must suppose she meant this in a platonic sense, and chalked it up to her being tipsy and confused. If that was what he thought, perhaps Ida would have been offended.

But it wasn’t, was it? Because he told her to be careful, and now he told her— “You’ll help me!” She parroted back, incredulous. Instinctively, her hands clutched their anchor at his fingertips. “No. Why would you?”

[Image: hmTz0M.png]
stefanie made this beautiful set <3
Ford hesitated, unsure how to answer. He didn't know that there was an answer. It just seemed like the only thing he could do, given the circumstances. She was distraught. What was his alternative, just leaving her to spiral in anxieties? Watch her cry? It was inconceivable. He cared about her. Maybe what he was feeling was all fake, but — but fake wasn't the right word for it, because he was feeling these things, and they'd been driving his behavior all night. Maybe these feelings were baseless, but they were as real in this moment as though he'd loved her for months. He could not wash his hands of the situation if it meant someone he cared about was going to get hurt. And this... was the sort of situation in which someone could certainly get hurt.

"Nevermind why," he mumbled, and squeezed her hands back (the way his heart had skipped a beat when she'd increased the pressure — smitten, he was done for). Periodically throughout the conversation tonight he had considered leaning towards some revelation of how he was feeling about her, either subtly or explicitly, but he had no intention of saying anything now. There was no chance of her returning his feelings, so it would only complicate things to tell her. She'd pull back, maybe disconnect from him entirely and run off, and then he wouldn't be able to take care of her through whatever came next.

"Did this just come on you tonight?" he asked. "All suddenly? Or have you been thinking about it a long time?"

♡ Set by Bee ♡
“I’m a scholar, I specifically mind the whys,” she countered, adamantly, but his wiles already did the trick. The glossiness of prospective tears already faded from her eyes, replaced by the expression that looked much more natural on her: a mix between skeptical and determined. “Wouldn’t you wish to spend your time during this gala speaking with someone a bit more–” Appropriate? Marriageable? Amicable? Though before Ida could settle on the word, she heard the couple from earlier making their way down the path.

With a start she withdrew her hands from Mister Greengrass’s, wrapping them around herself and tipping her body away from him to face the path. You have to be careful, his sentiment bounced around in her brain. Both about what she told him, of course, but then there’s the issue of how how they could be seen– Ida suddenly felt lucky the couple was no one she recognized. They ambled past, seemingly too enamored with each other based on their lovey-dovey eyes and hands and giggles to notice the two of them standing there. Ida waited until their footsteps faded anyway, because Mister Greengrass asked… an interesting question.

“Well yes, I only just met her tonight,” she observed. Technically they haven’t even met, but that was neither here nor there for Mister Greengrass. “I suppose you could say it was sudden. I thought that’s how love happens, though? Like you look at someone, and–” she snapped her fingers, “--you know. Anyway, I’ve had… interests,” she blushed faintly to even be talking about this so frankly, but he asked, which meant she put her thorough investigative lens over it, “But nothing is strong as this. Why?” She looked at him, even more curious now. Because the way he asked it, seemed to suggest he thought something more about this phenomenon that he hadn’t shared. “Does duration matter?”

[Image: hmTz0M.png]
stefanie made this beautiful set <3
It was a good thing she hadn't finished the sentence, because Ford suspected that she'd been about to use some self-deprecating adjective, and he would have felt obligated to jump in to defend her from her own insecurities. But then she'd pulled her hands back, and he had to take a moment to (emotionally) process that, anyway. He felt the absence of her touch immediately, followed by a confused tangle of conflicting thoughts: it was good that she'd done it, because someone was wandering nearer and he didn't actually have any business holding her hands during a close conversation in the garden; there was a sense of chagrin that she had considered appearances enough to pull her hands back from him but hadn't stopped herself from admitting to something that most people would have balked at; did that maybe mean that she considered him a confidant? — a dash of hope at that, even if an actual return of his feelings was at this point rather hopeless. Particularly since she'd continued on to say that she'd had interests; he didn't know exactly what she meant by that, but he could guess. Even if her feelings in this particular instance didn't prove lasting, the chances that she would be interested in him at any point seemed vanishingly small. But that was alright — he could manage if she was happy, so he'd do whatever he could to ensure that happened.

"It's not that duration matters," he began hesitantly. "Not like there's some magic date line you have to cross before it's real enough. It's more... I'm not exactly an expert," he allowed, "But I think usually it — sort of builds up. Or — I don't know. I think you can feel it right away but it's... longer until you know it. Like — before you could say why. Am I making any sense?" He had no idea. There was a tangible difference in the way he felt about Tycho and the way he felt about her, and he wasn't sure how to explain it. "I told you I'm not a poet," he said. He didn't know what to do with his hands now that she wasn't holding them any more, and found himself stubbing the cigarette out on the nearest garden wall, just to keep them busy. "But listen — you can't just tell someone how you feel. I mean, you can, but you can't make them feel it. It doesn't translate. You've got to sort of — build up a case for it. Because you remember their favorite food and you can guess how they'd react to a story and you do things together and you tell them things you wouldn't tell other people and you smile when they're doing stupid little things no one else would think are funny," (he was entirely talking about Tycho now, and he felt — guilty? embarrassed? something — so his cheeks had started to color a bit). "And then when you say I'm in love with you, they believe you, because they already knew. Does that — does any of this make sense?"

The following 1 user Likes Fortitude Greengrass's post:
   Ida Chang

♡ Set by Bee ♡
So her instinct was right. Mister Greengrass did have good advice on how to deal with these feelings. For the first time since the performance she could channel all of her attention into the moment, and Ida listened to him as aptly as she did lecture. She waved off his disclaimer that he was no expert– he was talking about the difference between feeling and knowing. She understood this, in the way one’s wand warms with feeling and executes in what you know and intend. So basically, love was like magic.

That makes sense.

Though he said he was not poetic he was one of the more poetic people she knew, in the sense that he helped make things transparent. She stitched her brows at the thought of building up a case, but it wasn’t all that different from what she did every day. The language of love isn’t foreign either – it explained a lot, about the love she knew she had for others in the past. (Maybe those weren’t just interests at all. Some were more fleeting than others. Duration had something to do with it.)

“It makes me think that love feels better the more you know someone,” she said in response to his question if it made sense. This didn’t seem like the sort of discussion where there was a right or wrong way to look at it. “Perhaps the more you understand someone you love, the more reasons you are given to love them.” Ida had her rumination face on, which looked a bit stern but pleased. It helped her put some of her adoration of the dancer into perspective, in the grand scheme of life, as intolerable as the idea of her dislike felt right now. Ida didn’t even know why she felt this way yet, after all.

And Mister Greengrass seemed like a good authority on this, because he looked a bit like he knew something about love firsthand. Had his confession of love gone well but he had some reasons to hide it? Perhaps her family denied it? Or had she rejected him in some unfortunate way? Ida hated the thought, and how she might have added more rejection.

“The person you love,” she spoke a little quieter now. “Have you ever told them?”

[Image: hmTz0M.png]
stefanie made this beautiful set <3
Ford startled at the question. He had not realized he was being as transparent as that, though perhaps he ought to have expected she would see through him. She was perceptive, after all. That, and he had a history of not being careful enough about how he chose his words when there were feelings involved. He had a tendency to wear most of his other feelings on his sleeves; why should love be any different?

But he didn't want to talk to her about Tycho. Even if there was never any chance that anything might happen between the two of them, even if there had never and would never be any chance, it still felt like shutting a door he didn't want to close. Even if he'd been able to put his sudden fondness for her aside, it wasn't the sort of thing that he could safely confide in someone, whatever she'd just admitted to him. It wasn't his secret alone to choose to share or keep; Ty was involved. Ford had promised him that he was going to do whatever it took to keep their attachment invisible to anyone who might disapprove, and he didn't intend to throw away a promise like that so quickly and easily. So he couldn't admit to anything... but he also didn't think he could lie to her. She wouldn't have believed him if he'd tried, so probably best to avoid it entirely.

"Yeah," he admitted quietly. He regretted the emptiness of his hands and almost wished for his cigarette back before he recalled that he'd had a drink in hand when they'd come out here. He must have put it down somewhere or other. Ford took this opportunity to look around for it, conveniently not having to look at her while she considered his answer. "But this isn't about me," he said, slightly louder as though an increase in volume would ease their transition away from the topic. He'd found his drink on the edge of a temporarily dry foundation, probably abandoned there when he'd taken out his wand to light the cigarette, and wielded it like a shield in front of him. "The woman you — your person. You said you only met her tonight. Are you going to be able to see her again after this party?"

♡ Set by Bee ♡

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