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Wallace Bixby for Sloane Bixby.
...tfw your little sister makes the house team before you do.
He has touched my ankle and seen me with my hair down (not intentionally, of course!), so I'm pretty sure I already know what it feels like to be married.Helga Scamander in Helga's Boy Book
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#1
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9th June, 1890 — Abercrombie Estate, Southampton
@Eldin Bones
In the eyes of her cousins Gretchen could see her future mapped out before her. She would be married off - probably nowhere near as grandly as one of uncle Lucius or aunt Olivia's children - but like them she doubted she would have much choice in the matter. Ellory and Claudius were putting on a good show of things, just as she was sure Will and Cornelia would in a few weeks, but Gretchen couldn't shake the sense of unease that permeated through her entire being.

She thanked her lucky stars she was still allowed to attend school at least and left for the terrace. Outside there was at least some relief from the oppression of her family and their expectations: or lack thereof, which she suspected would be a great deal worse. Who would be next? Tatiana probably. She had no doubt that her older cousin had plans of her own and uncle Lucius had not married her to his own son, so perhaps there was something she didn't know?

What she did know was that the next eligible bachelor that came along would likely go to Seneca, if he was a catch, or Rosalind, if he was desperate. Then Frida and then her. Would anyone even care to see them married?

Annoyed at her own conflicted feelings Gretchen was grateful to breath the cool out outside the ballroom, slightly less to find herself in company.

"Mr Bones," she said, surprise heavy in her tone, but recovering herself quickly. "How are you enjoying the festivities?"


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#2
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Marriage was the last thing on Eldin's mind, but it was a difficult thought to avoid when at a wedding reception. He wasn't concerned about his own future (he had plenty of years before that subject would come up), but rather his sisters'. Rommy was nearly twenty-two and still unmarried, and Vesta would soon debut. How long would it be until his own sisters joined the socialites of Hogsmeade, with their own houses and families to fill them?

It was scary to think about. If he'd been born a girl, he'd be worried about just that right now. Luckily he wasn't, and instead everyone around him was pushing him to make a name for himself in one way or another. No one expected him to do anything immediately; NEWT results had yet to come in, and most of his friends weren't doing much anyways. He was free to enjoy himself.... by watching other people celebrate a loveless marriage. At least he could take comfort in the fact that his own marriage would be by his own choice. (He'd never gotten the impression that his mother was one to pick and choose spouses for her children. That practice seemed to have ended with the previous generation, as neither he nor cousin Flora or Merriweather or little Rex were promised to anyone.)

Receptions seemed even more ridiculous than weddings themselves. Everyone put on an air of glee, offering their congratulations and pretending to be the happiest people on the planet. Eldin, although cheerful by nature, was not one to take enjoyment a celebration for two people he didn't really know.

He wandered out of the ballroom in favor of the sweeping, portrait-decorated hallways, knowing fully well that he wouldn't be missed. Servants passed here and there, but the unsettling echo of the music from the nearby ballroom reminded him just how big the estate was.

Or how big it seemed, because it seemed that he couldn't avoid running into a familiar face even on an estate far from home and Hogwarts. An amused smile found its way to his lips before he could open his mouth.

"Miss Lestrange," he greeted warmly. "As well as I can, considering I've hardly ever spoken to both bride and groom before tonight. I do enjoy a nice party, though."




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#3
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“It could be worse, you could be related to them and have hardly spoken to them,” Gretchen replied with a wry look, pleased to have found somebody, anybody that looked to be having as miserable a time as she was. Frankly she thought aunt Belphoebe was doing her a favour by not subjecting her to the whole thing when they all convened to go through the motions again in a few weeks time.

“Don’t tell anybody I said that,” she added, with an entreating look. Mr Bones didn’t seem like a loose canon with secrets but one never did know. “There are so many of us it would be odd if we were all bosom friends.”


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#4
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Eldin struggled to hold back a smile, feeling as though he'd just unlocked a piece of the Lestrange family drama. Their families, similar as they seemed to outsiders, were very, very different. The Lestranges were much older, more mysterious; they seemed to keep to themselves, often marrying between the few families that made up their little clan. The Bones—and the Longbottom line as a whole—were more forward-thinking, more active in society. Comparatively, at least.

"I can't relate," he said, thinking of Merriweather and Abraxas and even little Louisa Weasley. He knew all of his cousins, even the ones who were a whole decade younger than him. None of them were his best friends, but he was still fond of and protective of every single one of them. "But your secret is safe with me. Wouldn't want anyone to believe there's tension in the Lestrange family," he agreed, his smile widening.

He motioned for her to walk with him, his gaze moving behind her to the long hallway that he'd yet to explore. "Have you ever been here before? Or is your family one of those who has Christmas dinner at the same house every year?" he asked.



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#5
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“Uncle Lucius’ estate is usually the destination of choice,” Gretchen replied, feeling a degree of tension leave her body. Eldin Bones was a strangely likeable person and she didn’t really know what to do with that. The knowledge that some boys weren’t like Kris was not new, but to talk with one who was so markedly different left Gretchen feeling quite loose from her usual moorings.

“I like cousin Evelyn’s house more though,” she admitted, glancing over she shoulder to ensure they were alone before she followed his lead and shot him a teasing smile. “She doesn’t have a single oubliette and her décor is much more feminine.” Would he know she was joking? Rumours of the Lestrange family were abundant in their society and even Gretchen sometimes thought there might be some truth to them – after all, she was hardly told anything so what would she know?

“It must be very different for you. I met your grandmother and great aunt earlier and I think I might be engaged to your cousin Freddie now,” she said. “Do you think we’ll be very happy?” She asked with deadpan seriousness.
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#6
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Eldin had never had the pleasure of meeting Lucius Lestrange, but the man had always given off an air of mystery. Maybe it was because of his past in the Department of Mysteries or his position as Chief Warlock. He could only imagine the power that kind of man held (it had been enough to ensnare the attention of Mrs. Lestrange, a former Department of Mysteries official herself). They were far removed from the hospital-dwelling Bones family, although occasions like this made Eldin wonder what life would be like if he took a political path. Dreary, probably.

"I don't know, an oubliette might be enough to tempt me," he teased. He hoped she was joking, really, but he wouldn't be surprised if she wasn't. What secrets did the notoriously family hide beneath their home? In their Gringotts vault? (It was probably nothing and he was probably being silly, but it would make for a good beginning of a mystery novel.)

"It's not very different, at least I wouldn't think," he commented. "Family occasions are either held in my grandfather's or Aunt Harriet's home usually. Crowded, yes, but usually no sprawling estates with hidden dungeons. I wouldn't be surprised if Aunt Harriet had one for amusement, though." He smiled, imagining the woman dragging Gretchen Lestrange to her society events. For some reason he thought Miss Lestrange might feel out-of-place, especially as a Mrs. Prewett.

Chuckling, he shook his head. "I'm sure there's worse things than being paired off with Freddie." Like Felix, or even his Uncle Beckett (but only because the thought of having Miss Lestrange as an aunt seemed almost unnatural). "Like speculation about which infant cousin you'll be marrying one day. It's terribly awkward."



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#7
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“It’s not so much fun being the infant cousin either,” Gretchen replied wryly. Admittedly she and her sisters had not been betrothed from youth which was just as well – with the death of their parents she was very aware that their value had decreased and the insult of having a broken engagement would have been worse than having none at all.

“I would not have thought your mother inclined towards arranging marriages. She seems so very…” Gretchen searched for the word, thinking of the woman inside looking quite as elegant as any of the society women but with an air of purpose that distinguished her from the likes of Nephele*. Modern,” she settled on at last.


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