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This is cursed, that is cursed...
#1
Open 
December 28th, 1890— Library Reading Room
Maddy had been spending more and more of her time in the museum in recent weeks. Ana had relatives over from St. Petersburg and it was exhausting being in her home. It was so crowded and loud. she had found herself having regular headaches and dodging one of Ana's uncles - a large man with unpleasant breath who liked to slid his hand around her waist to hold her close to him, and it made her very uncomfortable.

The library had a reading room - it had antiquarian texts and research recources for general use. It was interestsing, and she did have to wonder what might be accessible to those who made this sort of thing their vocation. Having mastered Russian and French on her year in St. Petersburg she had decided to try and master some of the ancient languages - she liked the idea of ancient egpytian, sandscrit, and perhaps ancient gobbledegook. Having decided on ancient egyptain as her first topic she had decamped to the library and spent most of the day hidden amoung the stacks.

Maddie sat on the floor of the stacks, her papers spread our around her, the seating area was too far from the texts she wanted to access and so the floor seemed a better option. One particualrly dirty tome released a flourish of dry dusty air into her face triggering a sneezing fit that she tried not to direct at the delicate book.



[Image: ItXbzb.png]
<3 Nolan sets are crack!
Maddie has recently returned from the social season in Moscow, and living with a middle class Russian family. 
Her inheritance is common knowledge.
#2
After surviving another Christmas with his family (always a bit of a tense occasion, since it involved traditions Ben was usually too drunk to follow well and his brothers, who were uptight about such things), Ben was transitioning back to work. His latest brilliant idea from the world of marketing liquors was to change the shape of the bottle — a scheme that the production people told him would be prohibitively expensive but he was determined to recommend anyway. Since there was resistance to the idea from the beginning, however, Ben knew that it had to be a really compelling pitch, so he'd come to the Museum for a little inspiration.

He'd thought about renting a camera for the occasion, but a brief inquiry had told him cameras were far too complicated to be as quick and easy as he thought — and the picture didn't come back right away, which would make it difficult for him to use it in a pitch on Monday morning (no one had ever accused Ben of planning very far ahead). So he was wandering with a sketchpad and making some crude scribbles about his ideas.

Ben was really in the market for interesting artifacts, not books or literature, but he must have taken a wrong turn. Supposing it might be more convenient to cut through this space than back out and wander through the areas of the Museum he'd already visited, he pressed forward — and promptly had his leg sneezed on by a girl he hadn't even noticed sprawled on the floor.

"Oh — are you okay?" he asked, seeing the books strewn about her and assuming she'd had a fall of some sort.


Set credit to MJ! <3
#3
Maddie attempted to answer but the sneezing didnt let up, a slightly high pitched achewing that is somewhere between a squel and squek.  She held up a finger to indicate her acknoweldgment of him but her inability to answer the question posed.  She gathered herself and stood up, still sneezing, and dabbed a hankerchef to her nose in as lady like a manner as could be hoped for under the circumstances. 

'I...achew eh...achew excuse me achew this book seems to have achew started something' she waved her hands in front of her face trying to clear the dust from her sinuses, and as she entered her 9th sneeze she worried that the tome was perhaps cursed with a pathetic sneezing curse.  It wouldn't do much for her career in antiquarian research if she somehow managed to get cursed while still inside a museum. 

'No the achew the book has achew set me...' she trailed off indicating the sneeze that was still tickling the back of her nose.  'I'm sorry' she apologised and scrambled to clear the pathway between the stacks she had obstructed with her books.  'I just hope achew I'm not achew cursed with sneezing achew forever.' she laughed


@Ophelia Devine


[Image: ItXbzb.png]
<3 Nolan sets are crack!
Maddie has recently returned from the social season in Moscow, and living with a middle class Russian family. 
Her inheritance is common knowledge.
#4
Ben was rather skeptical to think that it was a curse at work, based on so little information — at least until she kept sneezing. Curses were not placed lightly, in his experience; they were typically there to prevent someone from accessing something precious, not simply to cause mild irritation. If there was anything so valuable in that book that it warranted cursing the next reader... why only some light sneezing?

Still, as it continued he did have to admit it seemed to be a bit much for anything natural. "Okay, hold on. I'm a cursebreaker," he said, putting a reassuring hand on her shoulder and pulling out his wand. "Well, retired cursebreaker."


Set credit to MJ! <3
#5
She had been joking about the sneezing curse, a cover for the excessive and embarassing reaction she had been having to the dust and dirt of the book. It was only a very dry text on the locations of egptian tombs, and how the first wizards had worked to translate the writings on the walls of tombs. Nothing old enough, or important enough to bring a curse upon it. Unless someone was hoping to save the reader from the boredom of the text. The book had slipped from her hands onto the floor, revealing the leather bound cover and the title by some forgotten academic.

When he revealed his former profession her sneezing abruptly stopped - the new information distracting her brain from the tickling in her nose. 'A curse breaker!?' she echoed, as though it was a question, her tone and wide eyed expression suitably awed by the young man in front of her. whatever her impression had been of the men in the books she had been reading it had not been anything like the gentleman with his hand on her shoulder.

Madeleines large blue eyes scanned the face of the young man in front of her as thought it were a painting, or an image in a book. And he did seem a young man, handsome in that fashionable way and given her recent interests it was like a sign from the heavens that this was perhaps what she was meant to. 'That must have been...' her tone was vaguely dreamy as everything she had read danced through her head, 'fascinating!'

@Reuben Crouch @Ophelia Devine
[-] The following 1 user Likes Madeleine Backus's post:
   Reuben Crouch


[Image: ItXbzb.png]
<3 Nolan sets are crack!
Maddie has recently returned from the social season in Moscow, and living with a middle class Russian family. 
Her inheritance is common knowledge.
#6
Ben was a bit perplexed by her response, since he hadn't picked up on the sneezing curse thing as either a joke or a deflection. She had certainly stopped quite abruptly — perhaps suspiciously so. Could this girl sneeze on command? What a weird skill to have practiced and perfected. And what a weird place and time to choose to demonstrate it. Had she been trying to attract someone's attention? It couldn't have been him — how would she even have known he was here, since she was ahead?

He was being stupid, most likely. People couldn't really sneeze on command, could they?

Anyway, it was probably all for the best, because he didn't have many ideas about what to actually do about a sneezing curse. After a half-moment where his confusion showed plain on his face, Ben put his wand away. Whether she'd planned the sneezing or not, it wouldn't be necessary here. "Yeah, it was a —" Ben began, but hesitated slightly on an appropriate adjective. What first came to mind (pretty good fun,) probably wasn't what she was expecting. "Definitely interesting. Keeps you on your toes, that's for sure."
[-] The following 1 user Likes Reuben Crouch's post:
   Madeleine Backus


Set credit to MJ! <3
#7
Maddie wasn't sure what she was expecting him to say - an understated answer of 'interesting' wasn't it. She had spent the last year floundering - ever since news of her bloody inheritance had broke. Before she had always known she would need to work for her keep. That a job was always part of her future - now...now she had enough to be independently 'wealthy', to be solidly upper-middle class the idea of being part of the idle rich was disconcerting; and was struggling to find her place in the world. For the past number of months, reading about the tombs of the ancient wizards, and the marvels of the ancient world protected and secreted behind the worst kind of curses had inspired in Maddie a reverence for curse breakers that rivaled just about anything else.

'fascinating' she echoed thoughtfully. 'Did you work for the ministry or where you freelance? Such an exciting and dashing profession' she added, trying not to make her enquiries sound like a job interview even if she was desperate for the information the young man might possess - and only a little aware that she was gushing.


Realizing she hadn't even bothered to give her name, she faltered for a moment 'oh Eh...Miss Madeleine Backus' she introduced herself extending a small gloved hand to him.


[Image: ItXbzb.png]
<3 Nolan sets are crack!
Maddie has recently returned from the social season in Moscow, and living with a middle class Russian family. 
Her inheritance is common knowledge.
#8
Her enthusiasm was refreshing, and Ben found himself grinning for no particular reason as she introduced herself. "Ben Crouch," he responded easily. "Freelance. Had jobs on every continent, I think," he continued, bragging now. The expression on her face said that she would lap this stuff up, so why not have a little fun? He could always stand to bask in some admiration. "Russia, Egypt, Hungary, Mexico — to name a few. Learned how to say thirty things in thirty languages and then forgot nearly all of it," he joked. Flirting, as always, came as naturally to him as breathing; he hardly even realized he was doing it.
[-] The following 1 user Likes Reuben Crouch's post:
   Madeleine Backus


Set credit to MJ! <3
#9
In the moment that he confirmed that he had been a cursebreaker, it was almost as though he became more attractive, taking on a swash buckling debonair vibe that very much complimented the cocky smile and dark eyes. A most becoming aspect to be sure! And very different to the stuffy, stiff young men that Ana had been pushing her towards. They were all 'nice' - too much like Handsome and without that first flutter of young love, they border on boring, and different to the philosophical and brooding young Russian men that she had known in St. Petersburg, artistic, sensitive, firebrands that wanted to change the world if only they could muster the energy to shake off their perpetual torpor, that forbid any action more taxing than waxing lyrical about all the ways that society was flawed. This young man was energetic, intriguing and...frankly dashing.


'That must have been so exciting' she enthused again, 'I'd love to do something like that. she added, but faded to mumbling, aware that, not for the first time in the last year, that her options were different now that she was expected to attract in a ridiculous coquettish fashion to find herself a husband. Paradoxically, the constant attention of witch weekly, which seemed to take delight in maligning her character. She had always been an engergetic person, constantly doing, constantly moving - it had taken a lot for Maddie to admit that the life of a debutante did not suit her, and that she might have been better off declining her inheritance and making her way in the world with a job or by the skill of her hands.

Realising her answer had been lame and warranted some sort of explanation for the diffidence with which she had responded, 'I'd imagine its much more fun than tea parties at any rate?', she asked, trying not to blush from head to toe at suddenly realising she was speaking to an exceptionally handsome, dashing adventurer.


[Image: ItXbzb.png]
<3 Nolan sets are crack!
Maddie has recently returned from the social season in Moscow, and living with a middle class Russian family. 
Her inheritance is common knowledge.
#10
"Much more fun than tea parties," Ben agreed easily. He was an extrovert by nature and tended to think any situation was only as fun as the people it allowed him to interact with, whether they were pretty girls, interesting young people, or even the occasional old grizzled man with scars and stories aplenty. Certain tea parties, then, could have been more enjoyable than certain outings — but in general, there was much more to be offered in the cursebreaking life. Travel, exciting new places and sights, interesting people, an element of danger...

"It's certainly not for the faint of heart, though," he teased lightly with a grin, since she had said a moment ago that she would have enjoyed such a career. She was almost certainly kidding (because, really, look at that dress — she hardly looked like an Angie Swan, running about in loose trousers and sleeping in tents for months on end without a qualm), but just on the off-chance.
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   Madeleine Backus


Set credit to MJ! <3
#11
no of course not' Maddie breathed in response. She looked down at the books in her hands, almost as though they were proof positive that by accepting her grandfathers money, by taking a life of security she was sacrificing everything else that might make that life worth living. She could have made her own way in the world, couldn't she?

'Was it worth it?' she asked, not sure how far to trust this man with the dark honest eyes but having the opportunity drop into her lap to interrogate someone like him was too much to pass up. Leaving home? Roughing it?' she asked, was the adventure worth it?] it was perhaps a pathetic question. Standing there in her white blouse and the powder blue skirt that set off her pale skin and blonde hair, looking every bit the proper debutante she wouldn't mind giving up the comforts that money brought. She had been prepared to when she thought it might lose her her family, but forgoing propriety and running off to adventure as a woman of a certain age meant forgoing more than just dresses, it would mean no family, no children, no partner with whom to weather the storm of life. That...well that gave her pause. As much as she wanted her freedom from the demands this inheritance placed on her life, she wanted, no needed to know it would be worth it.





[Image: ItXbzb.png]
<3 Nolan sets are crack!
Maddie has recently returned from the social season in Moscow, and living with a middle class Russian family. 
Her inheritance is common knowledge.
#12
This line of questioning seemed more serious than he had been prepared for. This was less mild flirtation where he could just play up the heroism and bravery needed to be a cursebreaker, and more of an actual inquiry. She definitely still had stars in her eyes, that much was clear, but Ben was getting the impression they weren't on his account, but from something else. Wanderlust, maybe, or a thirst for adrenaline. Two things that didn't qualify as particularly ladylike.

"Depends on what you're leaving behind at home," he said, trying to be a bit more careful with his answers now. He didn't want to inadvertently encourage some pretty little teenager to run away from home with his grand stories, only for her to discover nearly immediately that the real life of a cursebreaker had little to do with the highlights he tended to share with people while flirting. "For me it was. But not everyone's built for 'roughing it,' as you put it."


Set credit to MJ! <3
#13
He was being evasive but she wasn't sure what she expected from a stranger she had just met. Even one who seemed like he might have all of the secrets to the world that she was interested in. How she would have loved to pour veritasarum down his throat and unpick every facet of that life - even if only to work out how one went about becoming a curse breaker. 'This might be very presumptuous sir but might I prevail upon you in the future?' she asked clutching the book in front of her. 'That is...if you wouldn't mind?' she added hurriedly. She had so few people of interest in her life, a handsome young curse breaker sounded like a brain she wanted to pick.


[Image: ItXbzb.png]
<3 Nolan sets are crack!
Maddie has recently returned from the social season in Moscow, and living with a middle class Russian family. 
Her inheritance is common knowledge.
#14
Well, she did work quickly, Ben thought a little wryly. He would never turn down an invitation like that from a young lady — it just wasn't in him to disappoint pretty girls — but he couldn't imagine the budding acquaintance would lead anywhere significant. Her in the powder-blue dress, with the big blue eyes — she just looked a touch too innocent to due anything fun. But maybe he was misjudging her, to jumping to conclusions. Only time would tell.

"You certainly may," he agreed with a flashy smile. "And nevermind about having asked — presumptuous girls are the ones who get things done," he added flirtatiously.


Set credit to MJ! <3
#15
In spite of herself Madeleine Backus blushed - from the base of her throat to the roots of her blonde hair. Never before had a gentleman smiled at her with that warm flirtatious grin. Other than a few stolen kisses with Handsome whitledge and some chaste hand holding, she was a total innocent. She fidgeted with a stray strand of hair that curled around her neck. This was a gentleman unlike any of the others she had encountered in the debutante circle. This was a gentleman who had experienced the world I a way she dreamed of.

She blushed and stumbled over her words, 'thank you!' she said in a breathlessly gushing tone. 'I would be so obliged, and I promise, for any letter or imposition I will return the favour with baked goods' she thrilled, and without thinking through the action clutched at the sleeve of his shirt. 'i promise you will find me most eager to learn.'


[Image: ItXbzb.png]
<3 Nolan sets are crack!
Maddie has recently returned from the social season in Moscow, and living with a middle class Russian family. 
Her inheritance is common knowledge.
#16
Baked goods? Well, that was interesting. Ben didn't personally think that his experience was worth much of anything except maybe half a pint at a pub while he regaled someone with stories. He'd certainly never been offered baked goods in exchange for one of his adventure tales. He supposed he wouldn't turn them down, though, if she was offering. If they weren't good, he could always hand them off to the house elves at Excalibur as a bonus for having to tidy his messy room so often, or something.

"I'm sure you won't disappoint me," Ben said with a flirtatious grin.


Set credit to MJ! <3


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