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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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Complete seven threads where your character displays each of the Seven Deadly Sins — Pride, Lust, Sloth, Envy, Wrath, Gluttony, and Greed!

I Wanna Be Your End Game
June 25th, 1888 — Wyndham Gardens, London
Mr. Warrington was still a perfect gentleman. At moment, she hated him for it. He began calling months ago and, at first, Bianca assumed he would fade away the same as most Ministry men. He seemed too amiable, too dedicated to his father's good opinion to bother actually pursuing her, but he proved to be more than he appeared in short order. He was not the most attractive man that called, but he was certainly the most interesting and, to her surprise, she found herself growing attached. Oddly, the more time they spent together, the more handsome she found him and the more she craved his company. How very curious.

Mr. Warrington - Myles - asked permission to court her a full two months ago. Two. Full. Months. The man had even called on her birthday, for the love of Merlin. Was she doing something wrong? That seemed unlikely, lesser men would have married her in a moment for her connections alone, never mind her mind, looks, or affections. She'd taken care to be more reserved in her dealings with other men, saving her softest smiles and most gentle words for her Mr. Warrington alone. If he was unaware of her affections, he was deaf and blind; she could not be more direct without being positively indecent. In fact, she edged along the line this evening.

The Wyndham's London estate was alive with music and revelry tonight and, with the help of her sisters, she managed to steal some near-solitude in the labyrinth of the summer gardens. If anyone asked, Elizabeth and Margaret had never been more than a few paces away, but who would dare to ask? "My dear Mr. Warrington, please tell me you are not included in the Minister's expedition. While I wish the cursed fog dispelled, I could not bear if you were to risk yourself. Certainly there are those of less merit, less importance that could take such a risk." Bianca allowed her knuckles to brush against the back of his hand, longing for some sign from this stubbornly reserved man.
Truth be told, Myles had been courting old Mr. Wyndham with as much diligence as he had his daughter. So moments like this, when Bianca had drawn him away to the gardens so they might be a little more intimate with each other? Wasted time.

Though occasionally he would admit he found himself slightly pleased by her persistent championing of him, even if it often came on thick and honey-sweet, with that whiff of a debutante’s cloying desperation. But tonight... tonight it might even be needed; he was feeling much maligned.

And she had hit on the issue without meaning to; or perhaps she was more astute than he gave her credit for. (Probably the former. She was hardly a dullard, but all women were self-centred creatures.)

“I am not,” Myles said, carefully confining his rancour to his chest, and pretending he could brush off such a slight. “My department is still pursuing other avenues, and my superiors -” maybe his nostrils flared a moment at that word, while there was no one worthwhile here to see it; “- think I am best placed to undertake that work from outside the fog.” At the fringes. He would have fewer superiors if the assistant head title had not been thrown away on Zabini at this very moment; if the position had been his, he might have made a name for himself out of this, might have gained some glory for navigating them out of the crisis. But no, his colleagues needed someone to do the grunt work, which meant he was stuck out here, having to attend parties and make nice with Miss Wyndham in the meantime. Dear Miss Wyndham, if she had her way.

He pretended not to have felt the brush of her hand against his, but he did grant her a pointed glance, almost amused. “Why, would you worry about me were I gone?”
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   Bianca Warrington

Bianca had played at politics from the cradle, and mastered masking her annoyance behind smiles with the introduction of her father's bastard at eight. It took little skill to notice a proud man scorned. What baffled her was the shortsighted nature of his annoyance. "You should thank said superiors, not scorn them. You are too valuable to be wasted on such a blind gamble. There are strategists and there are spell fodder and you are no nameless grunt."

Perhaps it was unworthy to say such about any man, but she was not interested in the welfare of just any man. Send the precious Mr. Pryce to the front, it would solve her problems one way or another. Let him earn that promotion her father handed him.

"Think on this - if this expedition succeeds, at worst, you have had more time in the eye of Mr. Zabini and the Minister. The same cannot be said for those wandering off into Merlin knows what."  She liked the Zabinis well enough, had been in the same year with the youngest Miss Zabini and was in the company of Ross family frequently with her father's position, but she also thought them prone to overlook the good work of such a fine man as Mr. Warrington when those of a similar complexion to Pryce was in view. No, she would have to talk to papa. It was time he used his position to advance worthy men.

Position and etiquette required her to play coy, to duck her her head in vapid submission to his pointed smirk, but good sense should already have had this man begging her father for her hand. Sometimes, etiquette could go stuff itself. Stepping into his path and raising her chin, exasperation was the message, but there was a flicker of insecurity just beneath the surface.

"You are too clever a man to doubt my answer to that. But," attempting disinterest in his answer, she took a single step away from him. "perhaps I should reserve my concern for a man who knows when to seize his opportunity?" It was a gamble, but if she was any more forward, she would be forced to proposition him herself.
He would admit that she had a point when she phrased it like that. Still, Myles was not so optimistic: no amount of being in their eyeline would afford his superiors the logic of rewarding him for it, when they had always seemed so determined not to see him. If they let him achieve nothing, how was he to progress? He would have to find a way.

But  not dying off in the fog was a start, he supposed, and he had too much patience to give it anything up for lost just yet. No: a few things in life required a skill called biding one’s time.

Which was what he had been doing with Bianca Wyndham for the last few months of their courtship. Waiting until he had proof enough to act on, had compiled enough evidence that she might be a partner for him. One who cared for his own interests, one who even had her own ambitions of advancement. Perhaps even a partner he could come to love. (Well, if not love, then admire. And if not admire... relate to.)

For he did see a flicker of something in her just now, a consciousness of all that they were and how she ought to play every interaction. Like him, she knew, then, how everything in the world was a game, and a competition. See how she had stepped away from him, demanding he move. Brazen girl. He had asked if she would worry and she would not grant him such satisfaction, preferring to needle him in turn. Fine, fine. “And I believe you can be rather more clever than anyone gives you credit for,” Myles returned, in answer of her advice; and he was almost being honest about that. “That said, if concern is all that you feel for me,” he continued slyly, “then perhaps I have been taken for a fool.”

He had to know just how loyal she was to him if he was to pursue this. To better coax out the truth of it, a proper capitulation, Myles stepped forwards to close the distance she had just created, gazing fixedly at her, and - as they were alone in the maze - placed his hands securely on her waist to hold her there.

"Clever enough to know what I want and when to act," Bianca held herself as tall as she could, channeling every ounce of pride she possessed by birth and station. "And surrounded by enough fools to know that you are not one to be taken lightly." She offered in all sincerity, wondering what tactic truly spoke to this man.

Courtship felt much like chess with Myles Warrington, but there was also a very strong sense that the rules had changed and she was not informed. The look in his eyes, the set of his shoulders, the ease of his presence showed a man in command of his surroundings; coming into his power. Playing this game was mental Amortentia - forbidden, dangerous, and wholly intoxicating. Ever the Gryffindor, Bianca saw the glint of a well-suited competitor and charged.

Chin raised, and shoulders back, her body attempting to mirror some of her companion's easy dominance, Bianca was snared and briefly silenced by Mr. Warrington's rather agile encroachment into her space. It was strange for her mind to go blank and for words to fail, but there was a first time for everything.

It took a month, Bianca's mind estimated, before she could gather her pieces and come back to finish this game. She could still play this out, even with a man so near her she could feel his warmth and his hands locked on her waist. She was still perfectly in control of the situation; she wanted his attentions and her sisters were providing her alibi, this was perfectly fine.

Determined to show her own courage (and hating to fail what felt like some sort of test), Bianca rested her hands on Warrington's - what in Merlin's name do you call a man that allows encourages such delightful rebellion? - forearms. Allowing her hands to travel higher, resting at the bicep, and attempting to keep her face from betraying the indecorous thoughts screeching through her head, Bianca held her companion's eyes. If he was to take offense at her tactics or mistake her intentions, she would know it now.

"My concern is more precious than you know. My care or friendship are liberal things I give generously, but my concern is for the future and what I hold most dear. My concern is energy I could devote to other matters, but I choose to invest and take the risk. If you think the fortunes and futures of many earn my energy, you are most mistaken."

This is business! was the incantation in her head, but it was impossible to keep her hopes and anxieties out of the litany. With an unconscious scowl, a little wrinkle in her nose that looked entirely too sweet to take seriously, Bianca considered her role in this exchange. Her pride and opinions often led her mouth, but Bianca was very aware that this was not like other encounters with suitors. She cared about this outcome and, in the pit of her being, she knew Mr. Warrington wouldn't leave her room for error.

"What is it you hope to hear, Mr. Warrington?" A moment of uncertainty, surprisingly, offered her a way forward. "That I measure my matches against your merits? That seeing you succeed would bring me true satisfaction? That, just perhaps, I've grown more than fond of your company and that I would be proud to accompany you on your climb?" The curiosity; the wanting she couldn't grasp glinted in her eyes when she looked up to hold his stare.

Her audacity already took her far beyond the limits of appropriate conduct and she gave a gentle squeeze to the arm under her small hands. "The wizard clever enough to claim me will be a most fortunate man. For the trouble of my opinions and ambitious, his sons will inherit the Wyndham estates and all its finery." It was something any man that courted her knew, but it also offered a glimpse at her own ambitions. A match and a son of her own would leave Mr. Pryce humbled and safely away from her inheritance. One could dream.
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   Myles Warrington
“You know,” Myles began, his mouth upturning into a smile, perhaps the first sincere smile he had ever given her, alight with some unexpected satisfaction - “I had heard much of the eldest Miss Wyndham’s sharp tongue, but everything I have heard has been irresistibly sweet.” In answer she had told him everything he had hoped to hear and more, even; she had advertised, here, qualities he had desired of her, and yet not been certain she truly had. The loyalty, the evident ambition, the pride she had down to her bones - and all her talk of the Wyndham estate had not hurt. He felt, as he had not felt before, that she would not be dissuaded lightly from obtaining what was due to her.

He was impressed. Truly.

She would be a good match for him. And yet - she would undoubtedly still prove malleable, too. And as for her weaknesses, Myles suspected - exemplary as she was, in so many ways - Bianca would not be so different from every other woman. Attention, adoration, affection; let her think him hopeless over her, as if he were a man who could feel the infirmities of love. And how to best test her commitment there, to be sure she could be as much a vital instrument as a partner to him?

“I have been fortunate,” Myles mused, eyes not leaving her. (More fortunate when he had married her, of course, materially so.) She had spoken passionately, decisively, but was still talking about the wizard clever enough to claim her as if she had not already been claimed. Perhaps she could not see how in thrall she was; perhaps she merely wanted the assurances.

“And I assure you that I would not dream of letting any opportunity pass me by,” he said steadily, lowering his tone as if in confidentiality. They were still alone, and her hands had already countered the physical contact with all her entitled confidence. But, for all her airs and aspirations and astuteness in speech, Bianca was still younger than him, and no doubt less experienced with the world. Deliberately, then, he leant down and pressed his mouth to hers, not as gentle as he might have been with someone less mouthy than she. Perhaps that would satisfy any doubts she had.
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   Bianca Warrington

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