Welcome to Charming
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

meet me again, in another lifetime
1st of February, 1893 - Chance D'Amour

Tommy was pleased to find that the business with Barnabas was picking up. Now that they Barbs was a father and all, the pressure was on to turn a profit. It seems word got out of their good service, at any rate, because now that the cat was out of the bag they were getting cases to sniff out infidelity left and right. Just yesterday they got two new cases: one to follow Mister Bellchant’s son-in-law, the other to follow Madam Gustafson’s treacherous debutante. They had no choice but to each pick one case to handle today –

“Arrghh!” Tommy stomped his foot as he drew the short straw from Barnabas’s fist, and the other cackled with glee. Damn it all. While Barnabas goes off to follow girls at the races, here he was following around a businessman on a random Wednesday.

Mister Bellchant insisted that this man who married his daughter, a certain Shawn Delaney, was… “Up to something,” Tommy mumbled the quote from his notes. Goodness, could one be more vague?

So far Delaney was doing exactly what one would expect - he slept at home, he woke up, he went to work. Tommy would know, he’s been tailing him all day. Tom also had a good intuition for this sort of thing, and his sense was that this man didn’t have a single speck of dirt on him to keep things interesting. Though he kept at it for due diligence, going so far as to strategically place himself near the man’s open office window as he lit a cigarette and ‘read’ the morning paper. It was this way that he overheard his plans to meet a certain “Mrs Darrow” for lunch at the nearby cafe, which certainly made Tommy perk up. The break he’d been looking for! What on earth would this Delaney man have to discuss alone over lunch with a married lady? At such a scandalous sounding place?

The brunette went to that cafe some thirty minutes before the appointed time, wanting to get a sense of the seating and where he might be able to situate himself to eavesdrop before they arrived. He stomped out his cigarette and moved for the door, and distracted by his thoughts, didn’t notice he reached the exact same moment a woman reached for the door as well.

“Ah, sorry miss, allow me to get that for you,” he said inattentively, moving aside to open the door for her.
@Caroline Darrow

It was not the ideal day for lunch with Shawn, Caroline thought (not for the first time) as the carriage rolled to a stop outside Chance D'amour. Lillian was teething, Sabine was visiting, and the weather was its typical cold and windy self. But Shawn had insisted, so here she was climbing out of the carriage with its warmth charmed interior. Immediately wind gusted at her, pulling at hat. Caroline reached up to grab it as she hurried toward the door, her arm blocking her view of her surroundings. Not that she supposed she needed to see them in Irvingly.

Irvingly, when compared to London, was relatively uneventful. If you didn't count the fog curse a few years ago or the deaths this past fall, that is. Evander was nervous of her traveling on her own after those and with the murders, but it was midday and Caroline - well she had never been particularly worried about such things.

Perhaps she did need her eyes after all as she didn't see anyone by the door until their hands were almost touching and she was pitching slightly toward them. There was something about that voice that reminded her of some... Caroline's eyes glanced up and everything stopped.

"Tommy?" The thought, or rather realization was out of her mouth before Caroline could guard her expression or think of how she should act. She stopped where she was, staring up at the tanned man from her past, her mind instantly throwing her back to that summer. Thomas Harvey.

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Thank you Lady <3
Tommy dutifully stepped aside to hold the door open for the lady, a sudden severe gust of wind rattling the both of them. No doubt she was eager to head inside, he was too— until the woman stopped on the threshold, and spoke in a flinty American voice he will never forget. It did not seem she forgot him either, based on the shock that rang through her tone when she remembered his name. Oh- she remembers my name, he thought distantly, faltering on an immediate response much more coherent than—

“Caroline,” he mustered, taking in the sight of her. Cara, his preferred diminutive at the time, felt a bit too… forward. Things were certainly different now, it couldn’t just be that her hair was styled a bit different. But her doll face and those gorgeous blue-green eyes were the same. Just then another gust of wind overtook them, and a squawk from inside demanded they step in or step out. A bit sheepishly then he ushered them both in, careful to close the door behind. He quickly took off his hat and held it fretfully between two hands.

Inside the cozy warmth of the cafe, they were told they could find a seat anywhere. Though this was not at all his original plan, and he wasn’t sure what to make of meeting Caroline here. Then, of course, it clicked. Fecking Shawn Delaney. Her brother then, or some other relation. Did that mean she lived hereabouts now?

“It’s been… awhile. You look just the same,” he bumbled a bit, tongue feeling clumsy and thick skull heavy.

Caroline, it was like a sigh from the past. Suddenly she was seventeen again, asking for drinks and stolen kisses, toeing a line in her boring existence. Learning to love for the first time. The smell of cigar smoke lingering on his jacket, whiskey on his lips,, his arms wrapped around her in dim corners. Her cheeks warmed at the memory and when it appeared they were causing an inconvience enough to be yelled at she was grateful she could blame the redness on the wind and the cold.

It was embarassing, really, to have the patrons notice their lingering in the door, but Caroline barely noticed the discomfort as she allowed him to usher her through the door. Instead she found herself standing by the door unwilling to move from his side.

It had been a while, close to six years since the last time she had seen him. Another lifetime ago it felt. He looked much the same. Tall, dark, and handsome. The hint of five o'clock shadow that had always rubbed against her cheeks in their stolen moments was still there. His eyes as warm and friendly as they had been all those years ago. "As do you." Caroline found herself replying, part of her feeling like that confident (cocky?) girl all over again.

The matre de cleared his throat and Caroline looked up startled at the interuption. "Would you like a table?" And just like that Caroline felt as if she had a foot in two different worlds. One where she was wild and free, throwing caution to the wind, the other where she was a respectable married woman with a child waiting for her at home. When had she become that woman? When had she settled and shakled herself to such a life?

"Oh, yes," She told the man then turned to Tommy. Or rather, she corrected herself, Mr. Harvey. "Would you care to join me? I should love to catch up and hear how you have been." She tried to use her most unaffected voice, as if this were another acqaintence she had run in to and not a man she had once daydreamed of running away with.
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Thank you Lady <3
They were lingering at the door like two little lost children, but Tommy couldn’t be bothered to move from the spot. In fact he might set some roots down right here, if that meant he could linger just a bit longer with this particular former flame. Cara. The wild whimsy that made her eyes glitter was something he often worried about – he could get in real trouble for everything they did. But by the same token, the lilt of her accent, the confidence that radiated in her smile made him think that none of it mattered. Had she asked him to jump off a bridge for her, he would have done it.

But… things were different now, weren’t they? They had to be. Much can happen in six years. Responsibilities weighed a little heavier now, too. In more ways than one, Tommy couldn’t afford to jump off a bridge for a lady now. Not even….

“Ah…” he faltered in his response to the matre de, but Caroline moved in with a response as smooth as butter. The witch then turned towards him, and asked so casually if they might catch up. As if they hadn’t at all considered some of the things they talked about, that one summer night. He couldn’t blame her at all, in the end, for prioritizing her own well-being and assured future. That didn’t make the sting any less. Still, enough time had passed that the pain dulled into something he could even joke about. That one time I almost ran away with the pretty American girl even if her father and brothers would’ve killed me.

For a thoughtful moment, Tommy turned his hat in his hands, fingers running along the brim. Then, he offered her his biggest, most winsome smile. “I would be happy to join you, if it’s no inconvenience,” he finally offered. In any case the matre de had decided to whip out two menus and show them to a table, Tommy waiting to take a seat until Caro was well situated. Once they were finally left alone, he ventured, “Fancy seeing you here, of all places.”

The following 1 user Likes Thomas Harvey's post:
   Melody Crouch
His hands drew Caroline's attention as she glanced at his hat twisting around. Her gut lurched, he was going to say no. She was certain of it. The thought made her desperate for him not too, the thought of him walking away so soon was surprising in how viserale it felt. There would be no way she could run after him either, not as the respectable woman she was known as here in town.

But then he smiled. It twas the same smile she remembered. How many girls had fallen in love with that smile, just as she had? How many girls had been drawn in by the sound of his easy laugh? She could only imagine it was a large number, her mind instantly hating each of those lovely girls with their dimples and sparkling eyes. The girls like who she had once been, carefree and determined.

Feeling lighter Caroline cheerfully assured him, "No inconvience at all." Waving his words away with his hand and turning back to be led to a table.

The matre de pushed Caroline in and she carefully set her reticule down on the edge of the table. She felt nervous again, in a way she had not been since her first days in London. The days when she had hoped, in vain, for a glimpse of Tommy. Something to make up for the pain she felt. It had been part of the reason she had convinced her family she ought to have a London season. Tommy had been from Britain and some part of her had hoped that perhaps.... perhaps she could remake the choice that had sent them away from each other. But each new day, each new week had left her without a glimpse until it had faded to a wishful memory of a fanciful girl.... until now. When she had stopped expecting him altogether.

"Indeed." Caroline agreed with a smile. But she was curious and a curious Caroline never did leave a conversation alone. "Are you visiting Irvingly then?" She tried to keep her tone light, just interested enough, everything entirely above board, even as her mind wished in equal parts that he might say he was only visiting and that he was here to stay.

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Thank you Lady <3
Tommy thought, but didn’t dare accept, that he heard a note of relief in her tone when she chirruped about no inconvenience. He must be crazy, he must be imagining what he wanted to hear. (An idle part of his mind considered why he wanted to hear this – but didn’t dare venture down that thought for long.) In any case they were sitting together now, and sitting across the table from her felt… surreal.

Like a long lost dream that sprang up from nothing.

The man was reminded of why they got to talking in the first place - besides being beautiful she was easy to speak with, and he liked her smile. He tried to keep his grin to himself, as he threw an aloof gaze down at the menu and saw a bunch of French words he couldn’t recognize. There were too many butterflies in his stomach to eat or drink anything anyway, he thought.

“Ah, visiting Irvingly for the day,” As soon as she spoke brown eyes darted back up to meet hers. He did not feel particularly inclined to explain that he was here for a job, or what that job entailed – definitely not following your brother, he thought grimly. “But I live in Hogsmeade nowadays. For about a year, actually.” He carefully cleared his throat. “What brings you to Irvingly?” To this side of the pond at all, even?

One could lose themselves in his eyes. It was all to easy to do even six years later. Even knowing how life had panned itself out - or perhaps because of how life had panned itself out. She didn't look away from his gaze, even as she felt the disappointment sinking in to her. Just for the day. But then...

So it was not that he was taking a trip back to see his family. No, it seemed as if he might have moved back to the country to stay. The thought warmed her in a way which confused Caroline, in a way which she would acknowledge later when she recollected the conversation she most certainly should not have felt. It was a warmth of memories that could not be, should not have been. But that was imprinted on her soul, on her history.

"With your family?" She ventured, already envisioning a happy beautiful wife for him, children by the fire with their mother's dimples and their father's beautiful brown eyes. Whoever had married him was a lucky woman indeed.

"I live here." Caroline said simply, he likely wanted to know more than that, but Caroline would rather speak of him than herself. Her life was what was expected. Married and settled down. Nothing like the lavish life she had once envisioned for herself, full of adventure and wild romance. The kind of life that had sent trickles of fear down her spine one fateful October afternoon in a small London alley. That thought threw it all in to sharp relief. A relief she didn't want to look at right now, so instead she pushed it aside, focused on Tommy, avoided the what ifs and the had beens and tried to think of a life so perfectly suited to him that he'd never know sorrow again. He deserved that. He deserved that and so very much more.
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   Melody Crouch

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Tommy noticed that she evaded answering his question about what brought her here, and tried to bite back his smile because of it. This was just like her, after all these years. And ever the polite gentleman, he wouldn’t pry. Her full story would come in time, her time, and he had all the time in the world to oblige back then.

Slowly, he found himself relaxing back into the chair. “Ah, well. Mostly came back for my mother, she is getting on in age now,” It wasn’t exactly a lie, just a convenient omission of half the reason. He might’ve gladly stayed in America, and convinced his mum and sister to join him after saving enough money. Planned to do just that, until he met someone else who turned his entire world upside down and around. It’s not that Tommy ran away… there was simply nothing left in New York for him but heartbreak. “Decided it isn’t fair to leave her alone with my sister,” he finished explaining. Didn’t elaborate on the fact that the lot of them lived together in Pennyworth in a home with paper thin walls, or how he spent half his days sleeping in his office shared with Barnabas or Barb’s couch.

The mention of family drew his eye down to where a wedding band would be, though she had it obscured from view. “Ah, is this cafe your regular haunt then?” he asked in an even tone. “I wonder if they serve your Irish Old Fashioned here,” he mused, unable to resist the cheek. Cara didn’t know the first thing about cocktails when they first met, but by the end he knew she loved a nice old fashioned. Irish, like her family, and the fire in her heart.

That Miss Caroline Delaney lived only a couple dozen miles away from him right here in Irvingly this entire time… he still could not entirely wrap his head around. But honestly, what would he do differently if he knew this right away? What would he do differently now? The answer was nothing– their circumstances certainly hadn’t changed. And after everything that happened in America… Tommy, for better or worse, was a bit wiser about who he decided to fall head over heels for nowadays. (Usually.)

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   Melody Crouch

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A knot that Caroline knew she had no right to loosened. It was selfish of her to think she was the only one he may have been involved with, especially when she was the one who ended things between them. But she had never pretended that she wasn't selfish. No matter what she presented to the world, she knew herself well enough to know she wasn't perfect.

"How are your mother and sister?" She asked politely. If she recalled his sister was about her age. Surprising that she was not yet married, but while Caroline acknowledged she was far from perfect, she was scrupiously polite. It would be a huge breach of etiquette to comment upon such a thing.

Caroline much preferred some of the tea rooms in London, but it was simpler to meet at Chance D'amour now a days, that is when she did not take tea at home. It was easy to nod to his comment, to open her mouth to answer him but then... there was that cocky smile and a laugh bubbled over her lips instead. "I doubt they would make one as well as you did."

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Thank you Lady <3
Tommy was trying his best not to stare at her, and make it too obvious that he was tracing the lines of her face to reconnect old memories into what could have beens. This was his weakness, he knew that about himself now. Always too quick to jump too far ahead, ever the romantic idealist. Proper ladies don't need any of that. They need respectable and well-inherited husbands, ones who could promise her all the safety and stability someone like Caroline ought to have.

The reality of it all bit at him, and made his smile falter into a something a bit more polite than genuine as she asked after his family. Finally, he noticed that Cara did have a wedding band. The girl made a bad habit of running around without a chaperone back then; now she didn't need to worry about it at all. Tommy tried to ignore the surge of emotions he felt swirling in his belly.

"Mum is fine, dour old lady with no inclination to visit the Americas as always,"
he shrugged, this was an age-old complaint he had even when they were talking at the hotel. "Sister is fine too. She works as a maid for a nice family in London. Just connected our house up to the Floo, so it's a bit easier on her now to get there." Tom didn't know why he was babbling. Maybe because it was easier to keep their conversation surface level, than dig much deeper.

Though her little quip about his cocktails drew out a short laugh. The short outburst boomed, coming straight from his gut; its how he always laughed when someone surprised him. "I doubted you even remembered my cocktails. I'm sorry I spoiled you," he added. He meant the cocktails, honest.

Tommy couldn't think of anything more to say, his mouth ran dry. So they lapsed into a thoughtful silence, heavy with unspoken questions, just... looking at each other. At least until a server came to interrupt. He asked if they would like to order anything, and Tommy gave a single nod to him, before he gestured over to Caroline in an indication that she should order first. He lost his appetite for everything but a cigarette, himself. But he would follow her lead.

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beauteous set by bee <3
"Much safer than apperation." Caroline agreed with a short nod. She did not much mind appareation but a large number of those who had not completed schooling did not have access to apperation and floo was more often considered the safeer option. Used to hiring staff after running her own household since she had arrived on the British Isles, Caroline's mind was whirling. His sister could go far in service. Being a day maid was the first step, but then becoming a housemaid who lived with the family.... an idea occured to Caroline. "If she, or your mother, need help. Please don't hesitate to let me know." Help or a job, Caroline was there to help. Her family had always been close with their employees, she did not see why it couldn't be the same with the Harveys.

She had forgotten that laugh. The deep boom of it had always warmed her cheeks and made her want to reach for his hand. It still did. Instead a smile full of secrets and memories slid over her lips as her eyes sparkled with surprise that she could make him laugh like that still. "I remember everything." She murmured. He could have spoilt her in every sense of the word and Caroline was quite certain she would not have been sorry about it.

Caroline glanced at the table next to them, Mrs. Gabriels from her street was sipping on tea and saying something to her daughter. Across the room Miss Peters was serving tea to the Duncan sisters. Across the road Caroline could see Mr. Adlard running his hat through his fingers and speaking with his sister Mrs. Smith. Everywhere she looked was someone she knew, the result of living in a small town. She had once dreamed of traveling, of exotic strangers and a life of glamor. Instead she had settled down in a small town, her life predictable, married a man below her expectations with no sense or desire for adventure. She had chained herself to the very draawing room chair she had been scared of. The realization sunk in as they sat there in silence. The vision of what she had once wildly dreamed of and the one seated before her.

Caroline almost missed when Mr. Higgins arrived for their order until she noticed Tommy nod at her, "Oh, just a cup of tea for now." She chimed faintly, realizing she was being rude by not speaking to Tommy.

As the waiter left Caroline tried to push herself back into the socialite she had always tried to be. "So, did you end up traveling beyond New York City?" If she couldn't travel, perhaps Tommy's stories might hem together some of her frayed edges.

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Thank you Lady <3
Tommy knew Caro to be kindhearted, but she hadn’t been in a position to be generous before. The offer of help - perhaps even a job - for his family surprised him, and maybe the shock registered on his expression for a brief moment. The sentiment was easy enough to transition into a smile, however, and he nodded appreciatively to her. “I… I will,” he agreed. “Thank you.”

Though he’d have an honest think on this suggestion with his sister, if anything really came of it. She ought to know the way they’d been embroiled. Though Tommy knew it was ancient history, and had no bearing on opportunities for their family now. Even if she looked at him like that, offering a winsome smile with a sparkle in her eyes that promised more on her mind. The man sensed a double meaning in what she said about what she remembered, and truth or not, just the thought of it sent a shiver through him. Tommy tried to play it off, hooked his index finger which he used to cover his impulse to smile. The hand raised to his face conspicuously lacked a wedding ring, a fact he lamented more than he wanted to admit.

He was perceptive enough to follow her glance, subtle as it was, to the ladies having tea around them. Tom supposed she might know some of them, which only made him more self-conscious of his conduct. Furtively he uncrossed his legs, and tried to sit straighter in his seat. He was with a proper lady, obviously, and here at her invitation.

“Tea as well,” he added for the server. He tried hard to not read into the words, for now. Instead he focused on the woman before him, trying to keep subtle the way he still marveled over all the parts of her that remained unchanged. He nodded readily at her question– ah, another thing she remembered.

“Yes! Boston, and Chicago, and I had a chance to head far west, to California, one of the newer states…”
he maundered on, assuming she might know some of these places better than he. He had no idea, really. “Ah, but I loved that old man in Montauk.” His backer, employer, and reason he ended up in the Americas with all this training at all. The man turned into something like a father for him, and offered his connections in California as a reprieve from one of Tommy’s worse broken-hearted occasions. Tom was stubborn about keeping his ground. “Kept working with him in some way or another until I left last year,” he explained. “Ah…” he waved, half-hazard like, realizing how uninteresting this might be for her.

“And you,”
he asked, genuinely curious, “When did you leave New England? Did you get to travel a bit?” He envisioned a grand honeymoon and plenty of leisurely holidays on sunny beaches for Caroline and her faceless husband of better means, he knew for all her poise and demureness she had a wild spirit for adventure.

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