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Baby Don't Dance
24th July, 1890 — Galleon Gala for GLEE, Devine Estate
@Emrys Selwyn / @Ophelia Devine
Now that she was at the gala, Porphyria was having a second bout of disappointment that Ophelia had not, as it turned out, taken her suggestion for that second presentation line seriously. No, no scum of society here: all the young ladies coming down the stairs in their Lytton best had been stupefyingly pleasant.

It was almost a relief when the fundraising dances began in earnest, and Phyri could resume her plan of letting the evening pass by in staring at the walls. Albeit not out of boredom, not yet; the moving landscapes on the walls were easily more entrancing than anything else.

Since, to avoid having to dance all evening, she had hiked up the price of hers to a frankly ridiculous sum, Porphyria had happily forgotten about her dance card and was presently almost too busy hunting down a passing canapé to notice the man approaching. At least until he was right in front of her and had - accidentally? she wasn’t convinced - blocked her way.

Whatever could he want? “Something the matter?” (With you, she did not add, but she did arch an eyebrow at this untimely obstruction.)
[-] The following 1 user Likes Porphyria Dempsey's post:
   Ophelia Devine

No one could have accused Emrys Selwyn of being a romantic, and those who knew him well might have even called him an anti-romantic, if such a thing existed. He had never been particularly interested in any form of socially acceptable relationship, romantic or otherwise, which meant there was little point in playing along with the flirtatious games young women played. He knew how to play the games well enough himself, because one did not get to their mid-thirties amongst the rich and powerful without having picked up those things, but he much preferred to be an observer. He picked up Lonely Hearts and fired off ridiculous replies as, essentially, a joke that only he would ever hear the punchline of, and he attended these otherwise dull social events with the same approach. Between that and keeping an eye out for potential affair partners, he kept himself entertained long enough that it wasn't impolite to leave when he was tired of it all.

He'd arranged a few dances earlier in the evening with a few women he enjoyed the company of (his sister and sister-in-law) and a few he was attracted to, but so far had come across no one who fit both categories, regrettably enough. Then he overheard someone mentioning the rather absurd price that one young woman had placed on her dances and was too intrigued not to pursue it. There were three possibilities: one, that she was exceptionally proud and thought she was worth that sum, in which case Emrys would enjoy making little snipes at her throughout the dance while she pretended not to notice; two, that she had her sights set on one particular man and wanted to make herself inaccessible to all others, in which case the dismay she would experience at seeing Emrys on her dance card would be its own reward; or, three, that she didn't want to dance with anyone, which was intriguing of its own accord. She had, after all, attended a dance, and presumably no one had forced her to come. Why be here at all if she didn't want to dance?

Well, he was determined to find out. Why did he bother making money at all, if not to throw it away on entirely pointless little whims like this? After making the arrangements for the purchase of the dance, he went to track down the lady in question, who seemed to be upset with him already. This was off to a marvelous start.

"I've got your next dance," he informed her brightly, without bothering to introduce himself.
Though she would have been a little disgruntled by any interruption, this one was particularly egregious. “No, you -” Phyri began; plainly he had mixed her up with someone else, because that could not be right, but as she twisted around her dance card to find proof of this, she was proven - wrong. “Mr. Selwyn,” she finished flatly, glancing up to size him up anew.

She half-hoped he wasn’t Mr. Selwyn at all and had gotten the wrong dance partner - but as the whole point of this tactic was to be entirely inaccessible, Porphyria was not much in the habit of being approached by dance partners, even accidental ones. And she knew very little of Emrys Selwyn, beyond the surname. But these were the theories that presented themselves at finding him here, his name suddenly inscribed upon her card: one, that he was genuinely an eager sponsor of charities such as these, determined to be the most generous attendee even if it meant dancing with the relative dregs of the ballroom (she didn’t mind being one, obviously); two, that he was determined to dance with everyone and donate the most out of sheer masculine arrogance; three, that he was the sort to heroically take pity on the wilting, partnerless wallflowers, or four, that he was any of the above and also an oblivious fool.

Though surely even a fool could read her face. “Well, you still have a moment left to reconsider,” she offered with a light carelessness, hoping he would take that as the hint it was to retract his claim and save his money before the next dance started. In case he did not, she lurched over to snatch up a canapé, as if it would grant her the willpower to suffer through it.

Emrys smiled at her reaction, but he had no intention of backing down. She had clearly not been pleased to see him or to discover his name on her dance card, which ruled out his first theory. If she'd set the price so high as something of a challenge to the gentlemen, she would have been gratified to see someone rise to meet it. She hadn't cast about for someone else, either, which led Emrys to think she wasn't holding out for a particular partner. Antisocial, then, but why?

"And miss the opportunity to dance with the most graceful woman at the party?" he ribbed as he waited for her to finish her canape. "I assume the price on your dance card must be an indication of quality, anyway. This dance will change my life, won't it? And I'll forever measure other women up against you, and find them wanting?"
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   Porphyria Dempsey
Oh. So he was just the sort of person who liked to be difficult. Not that Porphyria was greatly different in this regard - if it had been someone else, she might even have tried the same thing - but in this case, she would prefer this gentleman to get lost and try to purposely perturb people somewhere very far away from her.

But she could certainly give him his money’s worth, if he had been stupid enough to shell out over the challenge he evidently thought it was. “Oh yes, I’m sure you will,” Phyri answered, matter-of-fact. “I charge a premium for stepping on people’s toes.” To prove her grace and good manners, she tilted her head back to dump the rest of her canapé into her mouth in the most unladylike way, and looked squarely back at him as she chewed, vigorously.

If he was doing this to amuse himself, she might as well entertain herself just the same. She wiped a crumb of cheese from her hand off on his jacket sleeve, supposing at least the girls dependent on this charity would be winners here. After that, she offered him that hand. “Shall we?”

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