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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.

Where will you fall?

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As clocks and other timepieces were expensive, working class folk who could not afford to rise with the sun could employ a “knocker-upper” to tap on their windowpane at a scheduled time. Knocker-uppers would work through the night and into the early morning. — Kayte
But then Miss Dempsey paid her so great a compliment that she wanted to hurl herself over the edge of the theater balcony in delight.
sobing alone in front of a haunted piano

May 15th, 1891 — Zabini Residence, London
Prewett Nuptial Reception

In a fit of dramatics, she had asked her sister—the one who hadn't betrayed her—if she could wear black in mourning of her prospects. Lavinia had rolled her eyes and kindly but firmly told her she was being ridiculous, and so she was in yellow instead (marina but make it victorian), the sunny colour of her gown in sharp contrast with her actual mood.

Fortunately, any good debutante knew how to fake a smile, and Bellona Zabini was an excellent, if ageing, deb.

She made the necessary small-talk, was appropriately pleased for her sister, had greeted the new in-laws, all as was expected of her, but of the Zabini family, Bellona expected the only one less excited to be here was Domitian.

Until her eyes alighted upon Mr. Charles Macmillan.

Had the announcement not appeared beside her that of Camilla's nuptials, Bella might have been positively delighted to see that Tatiana Lestrange was to marry her cousin (handsome and an heir, but far less advantageous) instead of Mr. Macmillan in rather a startling coup. This place Mr. Macmillan squarely back upon the market, and, frankly, Bella no longer had anything left to lose.

"Mr. Macmillan," she greeted amicably, a demure smile on her lips. Demure would be the name of the game; she could not have people thinking she was anything like Camilla. "I had heard you were away to Portugal on important business. I hope your journey was a success?"
— @Charles Macmillan/@Ursula Black
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   Ursula Black

[Image: 3atPRkT.png]
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Ever since we met I've got just one regret to live through and that one regret is you

The very last thing he wanted to be doing was celebrating anyone's nuptials. He was supposed to be anticipating his own nuptials soon, he was supposed to be bursting with pride and satisfaction that he'd found the finest young lady society had to offer and claimed her for his own. Instead he was waiting for the earliest polite moment to escape so he could spend the remainder of his evening with a bottle or in a brothel, or perhaps both at the same time. If there hadn't been a certain degree of expectation that he'd show up he'd have skipped it altogether but he didn't want to give people reason to think Miss Lestrange had turned him down, he'd much rather let them assume he'd been the one to reject her.

If he'd seen what catastrophe awaited him upon pursuing her he'd have run a mile.

There was no running away from Miss Zabini however, when to his great horror she accosted him and held him hostage with etiquette. She looked all innocence but he felt like a hunted prey animal, like a deer. He didn't like it. It wasn't really her fault though, simply his present burning need to avoid women at all cost. She was the younger sister of the bride, she probably had it in her head that her time to wed had come and if she'd gone out of her way to talk to him... Maybe he was jumping to conclusions too soon but he found it incredibly hard not to. Miss Zabini. There was surely nothing she could possibly say or do to entice him, her sister was probably questionable at best, in the family way at worst. The dubious blood status was one thing, more importantly was the alarming dishonesty that must run in her veins. Charles didn't have the exact details on what had gone down but he'd didn't need them: an upstanding gentleman had married a woman in good faith and found out later that she was a lying fiend. His own experience was not far removed which meant much like his own daughter, Miss Zabini was likely to take after her mother and he wanted no part in it.

Oh but she'd asked him about Portugal, hadn't she? Sigh. Indeed it was. If only other areas of his life had been equally so... I understand yours was less so? He'd heard she was on the ship when it sank and he decided to assume he'd heard correctly for the sake of easier conversation.

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   Bellona Zabini

Her mouth drew into something that was half smile, half grimace.

"I would not wish a shipwreck upon my worst enemy," she confessed with some frankness. Except, perhaps, Calliope. "My family, though, was fortunate; I'm given to believe some had experiences so ghastly it makes our own look like a mild inconvenience!"

Cannibalism was the rumour. Bella wondered how true it was.

"I expect I shall be keeping my feet upon dry land for the foreseeable future. A lady who does not learn from her mistakes is a foolish woman indeed."
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   Ursula Black

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Ever since we met I've got just one regret to live through and that one regret is you

Charles felt as though something sharp had caught in his chest but it was just the acute pain of futilely wishing it was Miss Lestrange who was talking to him instead. How she'd condemned pointless small talk! Miss Zabini was hardly making bland conversation about the weather but seeing as she was saying a great deal more than Charles cared to listen to, it may as well have been small talk.

Quite. It took him a second to realize that he really ought to say more than that, as much as he wanted the interaction to end it wouldn't do to have Miss Zabini spreading gossip about his lackluster conversational skills. Resigning himself to further syllabic contribution was all good and well but he couldn't think of what to say, his head was now full of Tatiana Lestrange. He'd never get to refer to her as his 'lovely wife' when introducing her to an acquaintance at a dinner party, he'd never enjoy the envious look in the eyes of other men as they beheld her, he'd never kiss her graceful, swan-like neck... You look very becoming this evening, Miss Zabini. He was immediately aware of how seemingly out of the blue his remark was to someone who couldn't read his mind. He then realized how ill advised it was to be saying such things to Miss Zabini - it was possible to be polite without encouraging her - and he rather wished he'd let her think him rude instead.

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   Bellona Zabini

For a beat, it seemed as though he was done with her, but then a compliment left his lips, and Bellona felt her face foolishly brighten, like a child offered a sweet. To have a man of Charles Macmillan's stature compliment her on this, a day to celebrate her sister's idiocy might have been perceived as a sign by those who set store in fortune-telling.

To Bellona, it was an encouragement, but that was enough.

"I—thank you, Mr. Macmillan," she demurred, feeling a bit too pleased with herself, under the circumstances. "It is—" she paused for a moment. Bella had been about to comment on not wishing to upstage the bride, but that would have simply drawn increased attention to Camilla's hasty nuptials. Damn.

"It is very kind of you to say. I would reciprocate, in a more masculine manner, of course, but I do not believe a gentleman of your stature would take the same sort of pride in such a thing."

[Image: 3atPRkT.png]
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