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Welcome to Charming, the year is now 1891. It’s time to join us and immerse yourself in scandal and drama interlaced with magic both light and dark.

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#1
18th May, 1891 — Cavanaugh Home, Wellingtonshire
Well, this felt like walking into a trap. This absolutely felt like walking into a trap.

So had work yesterday and today, admittedly, if only in that everyone had heard the rumours because the gossip mills were more productive than any department of the Ministry; and no doubt people had guessed the why of it too, because people were not generally stupid and only-just-courting-couples did not usually turn up married in the blink of an eye. So Mrs. Cavanaugh’s invitation (- invitation was maybe too kind a word -) was just the cherry on top of a not-very-pleasant cake, but - best get it over with, no?

You know, because last time Lucinda Cavanaugh, his new cousin, had wanted to have a conversation with him, after the events in the library at that quidditch party, that had gone so well. And Tybalt did have a little lingering gratitude for the wake-up call it had been, but he also well remembered the fallout from it, and the fallout had been... bad. He didn’t even just mean Mrs. Cavanaugh’s yelling or asking probing questions or calling them children, and not even his deciding that he had to quit quidditch after that, but more how things had slipped with Elsie afterwards. Because that incident had ended up ruining things with her for a long time, during which he had thought they were over for good, so... Maybe it was almost comforting this time, going in knowingly, that he and Elsie were already married, like it or not.

Tyb did, unfortunately, still want the extended Beauregard family to like him, though. That was why he had come, why he cleared his throat nervously as he was shown in, why he was determined to weather this storm now rather than later. (Also, he was a little worried Mrs. Cavanaugh might show up elsewhere if he ignored her, like - spontaneously at the flat, or accosting him at work, or by sending Howlers that caught him in the middle of the street somewhere.) And beyond that, the fact was Elsie had enough on her plate already - she had only just gone through with breaking the news to her mother a few days ago, had moved into his flat, was struggling with pregnancy symptoms all over the place - so the last thing Tyb wanted for her to have to do on top of all that was get into a row with her elder cousin over this.

To be clear, Tybalt also very much did not want to get into a row with Elsie’s elder cousin over this. But he was here, he had a suitably apologetic-slash-hopeful smile ready to go, his tone was much the same. “Mrs. Cavanaugh, hello, it’s -” so nice to see you again? Well, that might not sound convincing enough.
@Lucinda Cavanaugh / @Cassius Lestrange
The following 1 user Likes Tybalt Kirke's post:
   Elsie Kirke

#2
Lucinda loved a pre-planned fit.

She was very good at them, actually. She'd had enough time since first discovering the news to really plan this out — Ruth had rejected several drafts of her letter to Mr. Kirke for being 'openly hostile' or 'threatening' or 'really, Luce' — and then had finally ended up with a version of the letter that was ominous but not outwardly rude. All that was left to do now was wait for Mr. Kirke to risk showing up.

When she'd heard the pair were courting, she'd been — sort of happy for them, actually. It had showed Mr. Kirke's good character that he'd waited this long, and then started courting her, and seemed to be doing things right. Then she learned of the elopement, and people really only eloped for one reason when they were courting, and so — all of that had gone out the window.

She instructed the butler to show her new cousin into the sitting room, where Lucinda was lounging on a sofa in a relatively casual dress, reading a magazine. She folded it and put it aside when he stepped in, but did not stand up.

"Tybalt James Kirke," Lucinda said, with a smile that borderlined on smirking. She had done her research after their last conversation, and now — unfortunately — it was paying off. (Too late, maybe, but at least she could show off her skills.) She waved one hand lazily at the couch across from her. "Take a seat so we can chat."

'Chat' was perhaps a strong word for what Lucinda had in mind.

The following 2 users Like Lucinda Cavanaugh's post:
   Elias Grimstone, Elsie Kirke
#3
Oh, this might actually be okay. She looked casual enough, seemed quite relaxed, was still sitting down and hadn’t thrown anything or even yelled at him yet. And she’d said chat, hadn’t she? She had said his full name, and her smile looked a little dangerous, but - well, maybe that was just her usual greeting, and her usual smile. (Tyb didn’t know her well enough to say, but he had a little hope.)

So he sat down on the couch, supposing that if he complied promptly with everything she would go easy on him. After all, he had married Elsie, and she knew as well as they did that that had always been the goal. Tybalt relaxed his shoulders somewhat when he was sitting, but had his hands on his knees and his back straight and was much - more still than usual, as if he was sitting for a photographer and afraid to make a move.

Maybe if he circled around the obvious topic they would just... chat, and never get to it. “This is a really nice room,” Tyb remarked, pretending for a moment to be very interested in the décor or the furniture or the carpet, in case one compliment about her house could actually make her soften. And he dared one innocent question, thinking it was probably safe. “How have you been?”

#4
This is a really nice room, and Lucinda felt a flash of irritation, hot in her lungs. She managed to keep it off her face, but tapped her fingers against the arm of the couch, as if that would expel it before she could let her temper get the better of her.

"Oh, I've been better," Lucinda said lightly, with an arch of her eyebrows, "You see, it appears that my extended family has been mired in scandal." Her tone was just a little sharp, nothing too much yet — she would be interrogating Mr. Kirke, to some extent, and it would not do to frighten him off so quickly.

#5
And there it was. They weren’t going to dance around it for much longer, the lecture or the lashing was coming, Tybalt could feel it in his bones. Maybe he could say sorry – just to have apologised in person – and then make an urgent excuse and a very swift exit?

It wouldn’t be very Gryffindor of him, though, fleeing from the fight. (And, admittedly, the nature of the scandal could be worse, so Tyb wasn’t quite as ashamed as he might have been. They were married now, at least. He and Elsie would get things together soon enough, certainly by the time the baby came. And the scandalous start would fade from people’s minds. Eventually.)

He ought to have brought flowers, he suddenly considered, or half of Honeydukes in case the rest of the Beauregards liked chocolates, or a fancy bottle of liquor he absolutely couldn’t afford... But too late, he was here already; words and a sheepish expression were his only defence now. “I’m –” he cleared his throat, “sorry about that. Truly. It’s not how – how we meant it to happen.”
The following 1 user Likes Tybalt Kirke's post:
   Elsie Kirke

#6
"Well I should bloody well hope not," Lucinda retorted; she resisted the desire to roll her eyes, but only just. "And I'm more or less impervious to scandals, at this point in my life. An infant is another story." Oh, people might shut up eventually — maybe — and Tybalt Kirke had done the right thing, but Lucinda was not convinced he was ready to be a father. The pregnancy itself suggested a level of impulsivity on his and Elsie's parts — and he was only three years younger than Lucinda but somehow felt very young to her — and he had told her her sitting room was nice.

#7
More or less impervious to scandal; well, good for her. Tyb supposed he was, mostly, too – as long as he wasn’t out of a job, he could weather whatever came – but he was a little worried that Elsie might suffer worse from it. And he was actually more worried that if anything did upset her, she was not the kind of person to say.

“Oh, you’ve already heard?” he blurted out at the word infant, a little deflated at how fast that had come around. He assumed that meant Mrs. Beauregard had found the time to warn the whole extended family of all the messy detail surrounding the elopement (which didn’t bode well for him – Tyb wondered if this meant he would see a whole barrage of suspicious invitations owled to him in the coming days, or maybe just outright hate mail?); else Elsie had already confided in Sebastian, and he had blabbed.

...Or Lucinda Cavanaugh had only been throwing the word around in vague assumption or a shrewd guess, and he’d just gone and put his foot in it. Whatever the truth of it, Tybalt was already sinking further onto the couch in apprehension, because good posture clearly wasn’t going to be enough to save him.

#8
"It's less that I heard and more that I'm not an idiot," Lucinda snapped. As he was sinking into her couch, she was sharpening in her seat opposite him — all upright posture and sharp angles, and her next words were punctuated by her pointing at him.

"I'm not the only person who's going to guess, either," she added, because she wasn't. She was the only person to catch them in a library — Merlin, she hoped she was the only person who had caught them in a library — but these things were difficult to cover up, and courting couples didn't elope without warning. "Have you decided what you're going to do about that?"

Elsie was no doubt the brains of this operation — Lucinda was not naive, and did not assume her cousin had minimal involvement in the creation of said infant — but Tybalt Kirke was, for better or worse, the head of this family.

#9
Good for you, Tybalt thought again, trying not to groan at the way she had just snapped at him. She’s family now she’s family now she’s family, he reminded himself, determined to be civil until he had made it out the door again.

Yeah, and eventually even the idiots would figure it out, when Elsie started showing or had to stop working or when the baby was actually here, but Tyb – Tyb had no idea what Mrs. Cavanaugh was asking him. “What I’m going to do?” he echoed dumbly, tilting his head quizzically. Was he supposed to have a plan for this? Was he supposed to have a time-turner to take him back and undo this, or a get-out-of-scandal-free card stuffed in a pocket somewhere? What did she want to hear him say?

(What had he decided to do, except maybe muddle through?)

#10
Lucinda tilted her head at him, although it was less a hostile gesture than it was a curious one. "You're going to be a father," she pointed out, "You are a husband now." Tybalt Kirke struck her less as someone who was ready to be the head of his family and more as someone who had simply stumbled into it, and this did not instill her with an abundance of faith. But he was family now, and that meant that she ought to try to help him, rather than just poke at his somewhat obvious failings.

#11
“I know,” Tybalt said, half in protest and half-exasperated. He was very, very aware, and neither being told it nor suddenly having – people expecting things of him was much help in somehow magically knowing what to do and who to be. “I know.”

He let his head fall into his hands for a moment so Mrs. Cavanaugh couldn’t see the scrunched-up face he was making, though he supposed that disheartened gesture looked just as pathetic anyway. But, see, Tyb at least had an idea of who he didn’t want to be. He didn’t want to end up like his father, who had always seemed to consider his family an extraneous duty in his life, and not the centre of it; who had washed his hands of his magical children as far as it was possible to do so; who seemed to think sending on a financial allowance once in a while was his end of the familial bargain appropriately upheld.

But then – whose example was he supposed to follow? Where was the rulebook for this? Elsie’s father seemed like a good man, but he was off doing business often enough that Tybalt barely knew what he was like with his children, nevermind when they’d been young – but devoted and kind, he assumed. The Beauregards seemed happy, balanced, loving. Meanwhile, Tyb’s brother Atticus could do affection, but he was no role model in most everything else; his former quidditch captain Art Pettigrew had a wife and child, sure, but if Witch Weekly knew anything at all, it didn’t seem like the happiest marriage; some of Elsie’s friends were married and settled and seemingly happy, but Tybalt felt as far from Mr. Keene, comfortable hospital director in his forties, as it was possible to be.

And that was before there was a baby, too.

Obviously Lucinda Cavanaugh knew this – could see right through him – and if it was so clear that he was going to be terrible at this before he’d even tried, maybe it would be smarter to give up now. There was a profound urge to break down again, to let the panic flood back in like when Elsie had first broken the news.

Except – he couldn’t do that anymore. He and Elsie were in this together: and as little use as he was, he had to count for something. “I’m – we’re – saving up, looking for a proper place to move to when we can –” Tyb said finally (obviously replacing Hatchitt in the flat with a wife and child hadn’t been the ideal plan) “– and I don’t know how to be a husband or a father but I swear I’m going to try. I do want to be – a good one.”
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#12
To her dismay, the pathetic look of Mr. Kirke with his head in his hands had Lucinda feeling bad for him. Perhaps she was becoming somewhat soft with age — or perhaps it was because Tybalt and Elsie were now married, and there was nothing else to be done for it. Or maybe it was something else — maybe Lucinda just wanted a project, and Tybalt Kirke was a very good option.

"Trying is the first step," Lucinda said; arguably, this was the first kind thing she had said to him today. She swallowed before making her next statement, "I have the resources to be helpful. Moderately." She was not going to bankroll them, and this would cost him — not money, but perhaps pride and time — but she could offer.

The following 1 user Likes Lucinda Cavanaugh's post:
   Elias Grimstone
#13
Oh good: so trying counted. Points for effort. (He’d never actually gotten points for effort for anything before.) He might have perked up at that alone, but her next remark was more intriguing – Tyb actually lifted his head out of his hands for that.

“I... I won’t say no to help,” Tybalt said slowly, a little uneasy. He couldn’t say no to help. He’d be an idiot to refuse it, when he very obviously did not have the resources to be proud about anything, but he hoped Elsie’s family would not think less of him if he accepted (accepted for Elsie’s sake, not his own). Never mind that he didn’t know what she was offering, exactly; Tyb figured it was best not to underestimate her. And she had been helpful before, in a way – if not for her, he might not have had his Ministry job to hand now.

That said... Lucinda Cavanaugh, more than anyone, could also make ‘being helpful’ seem a lot like ‘ruining his life’.

#14
He wasn't too foolish or too proud to turn her down, then; this meant that Kirke was smarter than Lucinda gave him credit for. (Or, maybe he was simply desperate — either way, he knew enough not to look a gift horse in its metaphorical mouth.)

Of course, now that she had offered and he had accepted, she needed to decide what to offer.

It was easier than she'd thought to pick.

"I'll fully fund the salary for the nanny when the child is born, and for any — subsequent children," Lucinda said; that would give Elsie more freedom, and she would feel better knowing that the two had help, because they both seemed impossibly young to her. (That she had been younger when Tulip was born was lost on Lucinda.) "And in exchange you and I will have lunch monthly. Is that acceptable to you?"

#15
Tybalt started visibly in his seat at the first sentence. Whether that was from imagining having that security of being able to pay the nanny, or at imagining subsequent children – was it delight or terror? – Tyb couldn’t say. But he exhaled, even at the cost of it, even at the thought of having to have lunch with Lucinda.

“Us? Lunch?” He echoed, eyebrows high. (What good could come of that, exactly? What could she possibly gain of that arrangement... except maybe a regular occasion at which to glare daggers at him if he ever screwed up? Although maybe that would work, Tyb thought fervently; he didn’t need a repeat of today or the quidditch party, not if he could help it.)

And if it meant Elsie could go back to the library eventually, it was worth agreeing to anything, wasn’t it? He felt bad enough at the thought of abandoning her to parenthood without him while he went to the Ministry every day. But even beyond that... she liked working at the library a great deal more than he cared about working at the Ministry – she loved it, he was sure she did – so if she could have that, it was worth any amount of uncomfortable lunches.

“Yeah. Yeah, that’s good. Thank you,” Tybalt said, and some knot of tension in his shoulders dissipated slightly. “Really, thank you.”

(And if Lucinda didn’t actually like him, then at least she would be suffering too. Or Tyb would make her like him, eventually. One of the two.)
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