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 An Arrangement

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Casey
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PostSubject: An Arrangement   Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:17 am

Colette Cartwright peered through the window, wishing she had believed her father the day before when he told her to say goodbye to the sun before she left. She had half-hoped, half-prayed he was joking, that London wasn't nearly as rainy or as dreary as all of her precious books led her to believe, but so far her first glimpse of her new home proved otherwise.

The gray clouds covered the sky with a stubborn persistence, desaturating the entire scene before her. People bustling around the station came into focus as the train approached, and Colette was disappointed to find that their colors remained just as subdued closer up. Nothing could quite compare to the beautiful countryside she had left, all green and lively. Paris itself, a place she both simultaneously loved and hated, was far brighter than what lie before her here. She had stared out the train window exactly 20 hours ago, watching as long as she possibly could as the lovely city had faded into the distance so that she would remember exactly how everything was.

The train came to a sudden, lurching stop, and several exclamations sounded throughout the car she was in. Colette didn't make a sound though, not that it mattered because she had a private sleeping compartment. She could have easily glamoured herself up for the journey, but much preferred to have her space instead, and so for almost a full day she had acted as a very rich mundane.

However, people were very confused that this apparent heiress of some sort had had come without a maid. Colette had heard the whispers as she had boarded, which had only solidified her idea of keeping to herself during this trip. She had wanted time to think and reflect, and the passengers had made it all too easy to retreat to her solitude.

If only they knew that her maid had resigned the day before so that she would not have to uproot her family and make the move as well. Colette had been hurt, but she wouldn't dare say so. Such attachments weren't proper, and yet Colette also couldn't bear to make her maid feel any worse. She had cried some when she dressed her mistress for the train ride to London, but then put on a brave face and stated confidently that a smart match had been made. Colette had gently scolded her for speaking out of turn, but both knew her heart wasn't in it.

Colette was, indeed, excited to meet her fiance. As sad as she was to leave her home, an opportunity for a new life lay before her here. She'd even refused to take off her corset to sleep, knowing that without a maid she would not be able to get it back on, and she wanted to make her very best impression. Which was funny, seeing as all the hard work had already been done for her. There was no need to impress, not really. He was promised to her, without any resemblance of courtship. As lucky as she knew she was, the young Shadowhunter mourned that deep within her heart.

Taking up the single bag she kept with her, the others stowed on the luggage car, Colette disembarked the train. Her training gear peeked out at her from her bag, and she smiled a little. If nothing else, she was going to be living at a place of her kind, among people her age, and that was a new adventure for her too.

"Miss Cartwright?" A tall young man approached her, his hair managing to be bright as a flame even without the assistance of the sun. In fact, this was probably the first vibrant hue Colette had seen in London. For the briefest of moments she wondered if this were her future husband, but it passed quickly. His clothes weren't neat, he wasn't entirely clean, and when Colette had nodded to his question, he bowed to her enough to confirm that he was a servant, sent to collect her.

Wordlessly, he handed her a letter, thick parchment folded and held closed by a seal she had seen often. Of course, it was the Ashbrook family seal, and she had viewed it on correspondence written to her father months ago as she passed him the mail, but then the mark had no significance to her. She broke the seal that would soon be her own as the servant went to go fetch the rest of her luggage.

Miss Cartwright,
I hope your trip was a pleasant one. Unfortunately, we are unable to spare anyone to come collect you from the station. Quinton is quite busy, and is most regretful that he will have to wait for you to arrive at the Institute to finally meet you. He is quite excited. James will serve you well until you arrive, please do not hesitate to ask him for anything you need.
Until we meet,
Geneva Ashbrook


Colette folded the letter neatly and slipped it into her bag. She was somewhat offended that no one had come, but would never mention it. It disappointed her that she would have to wait even longer to meet Mr. Ashbrook, or Quinton, as she should probably call him, since he was her betrothed, after all. She told herself that there must be a logical explanation for the affront, and so when James returned with a trolley filled with her things, once again the young woman looked pleasantly serene.

He opened the Institute's carriage door for her, and stepping inside, she gave him a small smile, the corners of her pink lips turning upward. Settling herself inside, Colette was surprised by the patience she still possessed as he took plenty of time loading her luggage. Any other girl would have probably been jumping out of her skin, but she simply wasn't the type.

As the carriage traversed down the road to her future home, to keep herself calm Colette reminded herself of what her tutor, and now step-mother she supposed, had told her to do when meeting someone. Sit up straight, smile cordially but not too much so as to be overbearing, delight in the new acquaintance, be polite- a mantra of sorts formed in her head until it was interrupted by the abrupt stop of the carriage.

The door was opened for her by a shy James, and this time Colette didn't smile in thanks, too overcome by the massive building that lay before her. As she stepped out, she desperately wished she had obtained time earlier to freshen up, surely the dress she had put on before dawn was already wrinkled from travels and her eyes must be tired and her cheeks needed color. The looming structure before her was intimidating enough to make Colette doubt her ability to be put together in the face of anything, if only because tradition demanded it.

Unbeknownst to Colette, she needn't worry. She was quite as pretty as the residents of the Institute had heard, both servants and Shadowhunters alike. It was only her own mind that gave her even more reason to fear when the doors to her new home opened. She reminded herself that her fiance waited for her here, and that gave her the strength to put on a calm and collected air, with just the right hint of nervousness and niceness.
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PostSubject: Re: An Arrangement   Fri Jun 17, 2016 12:52 am

Fiona Murphy sighed in relief as she was finally able to pry the time-warped, wooden frame of the window up, allowing the sharp chill of London air to breeze across her face and into the dark room. Having been stuck in the stifling kitchens all morning, the flow of fresh air was a welcome addition to her day. As fresh as the air ever gets around here, Fiona thought, her hand, and the duster attached to it, skimming across all the dust-covered surfaces. She remembered somewhat fuzzily, the day trips to the English country side that her mother and father had occasionally taken her on. They had both claimed the air in Scotland was far superior, but Fiona, having grown up in the city all her life, was more than satisfied with the impossibly green trees and crystal clear brooks.

Thinking about those trips, Fiona found herself falling into a day dream, until the muffled slap of the Shadowhunters Codex hitting the floor brought her out of it. She stooped down to pick up the volume that Geneva required each of the rooms have a copy of and returned it to its place on the bedside table. Taking a step back, Fiona observed her work, checking off on her fingers all that she had come up here to do. She had just successfully managed to close the window, when she spotted through the window theInstitute’s carriage turning up the drive. Their guest had arrived. Or, the Shadowhunter’s guest to be more precise.

Fiona had barely enough time to throw her cleaning materials in the hall closet and rush, as composedly as possible, down the great staircase. Fortunately, her brother Jamie was always somewhat slow with the luggage, not being accustomed to many visitors. Fiona reached the outside steps just in time for the visitor, Miss Cartwright, to be handed down from the Institute’s carriage. Normally, the housekeeper or butler would preform the task of bringing a visitor into the house, but the Institute could barley afford to keep the few servants it had. So, Fiona was what passed for a housekeeper.

“If you would please follow me, Miss Cartwright,” Fiona said, her eyes downcast as she made her curtsy. “I have been instructed to take you to Mrs. Ashbrook in the sitting room. James will see to your things.”

Fiona walked back into the Institute, hearing the click of the young woman’s heels on the stone steps behind her. She made her way to a door across the large entry way, knocked once, entered, and announced the visitor. Once Miss Cartwright had passed into the sitting room, Fiona closed the door gently behind her. She waited outside the door, biting her lip as she was prone to do when nervous. It wasn’t for herself that she was nervous, though. She wouldn’t have traded places with Miss Cartwright at that moment for all the pretty dresses in France.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Geneva Ashbrook contemplated her next move, finally deciding to move her pawn. Chess was a hobby of sorts of hers. She never called it a game. A game to Geneva served no serious purpose and chess was a mind strengthening exercise, to say the least. Also, a game usually implied another player, and she had yet to find someone she could stand to challenge for more than five minutes. She didn’t have time to make a countering move, as she observed the Institute’s carriage rattling into view through the window. Pushing her chair out, Geneva made her way to the chairs circling the fire place. She placed one hand on the tall back of an armchair, turned her head to the door, and waited.

“Miss Cartwright, Madam,” Fiona announced.

The young woman that entered after the maid wasn’t quite what Geneva had been expecting. She had allowed herself too much imagination when thinking about her soon-to-be daughter in law. From all the stories she had heard about her mother, Geneva had pictured a young trollop, un-corseted, rouged lips, and hair free and wild. The girl in front of her was tired looking, her dress somewhat wrinkled from having been slept in and her face pale. But, overall look was not unpleasant. Her back was straight and her expression simple. Geneva gestured to the love seat next to her, taking her place in the armchair.

“I don’t want to keep you for long, Miss Cartwright. I’m sure you are tired from your journey, so I will get right to the point,” Geneva said, her voice coming out strong and authoritative. “I am the head of the London Institute, as you well know, and the mother of your betrothed. Your father and I have made this match, as it is in the best interests of both parties. I will not go into the details of those interests, as you are surely aware of your own. So, I will say this and only this. I will not allow any acts of passion or improprieties to be committed under this roof. I expect a high level of respectability out of my family, and as you are now marrying into it, that expectation now applies to you. Act accordingly and you will find your time here most pleasant.”
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PostSubject: Re: An Arrangement   Sat Jun 18, 2016 6:35 am

The final notes of Quinn’s melody that had been flowing between himself and the bow he wielded in his slender hand ended in a screeching note as the unforgiving strings of the violin refused to pity him in his moment of frustration. With a sigh of defeat, he pulled the instrument from where it rested on his shoulder, lovingly placing it back into its velvet lined case despite his distress.

Today was the day, the day he was meant to to meet his future wife and partner as the head of the London institute with a smile and a graceful bow. Today was the day he had been bred for, conditioned for, the moment in which his life would truly matter. He was to meet his fiance, the woman he was to marry and spend each day of the rest of his life with, and he had never even been allowed to correspond with her, even in letters.

Quinn was unsure if this restriction had been a mutual agreement between their parents, the two that had set up the match in almost complete secrecy, though he knew his own mother well enough to know that this restriction had been her doing. It was likely that she felt if her son had any ability to communicate with the young woman, and by filter, her father who would surely have only conveyed what he deemed appropriate for his daughter, would ruin any chances Quinn had at making a suitable match.

The day his mother told him that he was to be married within the year, and not only that, but his betrothed had already been selected for him, Quinn had taken up his quill and ink and written what he had hoped was a polite and comforting letter to Miss. Cartwright. Despite the grace in which he had received the news from Geneva, the feeling that any control over his life that he may have had slipped away as quickly as water slips through one's fingers, was unavoidable and he could only begin to imagine how his soon to be wife had felt when she received the same news.

When no reply came, Quinn wrote two more letters a few months apart in an almost desperate attempt to not begin the rest of their lives in contempt and if nothing else, perhaps they could at least achieve a level of friendship. When no reply came for a second than a third time, he had begun to feel a deep sense of despair, that there was absolutely no possibility that he and the young Miss. Cartwright could even begin to have something of a pleasant relationship.

It had only been close to a month before the young ladys arrival that he finally managed to get out of a very ashamed Jamie that any letters Quinn attempted to send after learning the news were to go directly to Mistress Ashbrook and not to the post and as such, never made it to his betrothed at all. The deep blush and look that was almost close to tears on the young man had made it impossible for Quinn to be cross with the attendant. (He prefered to think of his friends as staff instead of servants) and as always with his mother, he had just taken a deep breath and forced himself to believe that what she had in mind was what would be best for the family.

After having secured his violin safely away in it’s case, Quinn turned to look at himself in the floor length mirror that stood just before the door of his dressing room. Mother had been vague on the time of arrival of his future bride, which had struck him as odd, as the woman always had every minute of everyday planned down to the second though, as always, he had just accepted his direct orders to look his best upon coming down for breakfast even though she had made it seem as if Miss Cartwright wouldn’t be arriving until just before dinner.

It wasn’t an unusual feeling to meet the eyes of the young man staring back at him in the looking glass and feeling as if he was looking at a stranger. He was everything a man of his age should be as a Nephilim. He was strong, he was fast, he was handsome, and above all, he followed orders. He couldn’t help but feel that it was his eyes that gave him away, maybe it was just his weak nature that he tried so desperately to contain that allowed him to see the sorrow of a life that could never be staring back at him in his silvery-green irises, or maybe he just let his mind wander too far into thoughts that were forbidden that led him to waste time on such foolish thoughts.

He had spent too much time staring deeply into his own eyes, looking for some kind of resolution, some kind of explanation from Raziel as to why he had the thoughts he did, why he never felt good enough despite his top marks and excellent shadowhunter abilities but an absolution had never come, and now was certainly not the time to dwell on such thoughts.

With a shaky, exhale of breath, Quinn straightened his jacket and turned his head from side to side to insure that his hair was still held in pristine condition before daring to leave his room for the first time since luncheon. He was so deeply buried in his own thoughts as he walked down the gallery towards  the grand staircase that he didn’t notice Jamie coming towards him, the redhead's arms full of an unfamiliar set of trunks and nearly ran directly into the young man.

“Jesus, Mary, And Joseph!” He heard his friend exclaim as he tried to rebalance the luggage before it tumbled down in a heap. Quinn quickly helped steady the boy, opening his mouth to apologize before noticing the monogram on the trunks that his friend held. CC.

“Jamie, whose luggage is this?” Quinn asked, not bothering to attempt to disguise his ignorance and incredulity in front of the young man.

Jamie peeked around from behind the large trunks, looking unsure.
“Miss Cartwrights… Picked her up from the rail station ‘bout an hour ago.” Despite his obvious nerves about being the one to tell Quinn his bride to be had been in the Institute without the others knowledge, there was a look of understanding in the young man's hazel eyes and even a hint of sympathy as the two of them had the realization at the same time. Another one of Genevas plots.

Seeing the look on Quinn’s face, Jamie tried to soften the blow by offering a wide grin. “She's about as bonny as they come, if I may say so, sir.” The title was said in a teasing voice and would have earned the younger man a playful punch to the shoulder if Quinn hadn’t been so distracted.
“She’s here?” Quinn said, stupidly stating the obvious as he tried to process the information racing through his brain. She was here, he hadn’t been told she was here, she had arrived without him there to greet her formally, and above all the definite knowledge that his mother had planned all of this.

Running passed his friend who still stood at the top of the stairs, looking worried, Quinn took the stairs two at a time before skidding to a halt in front of the parlor door, only slowing down enough to not run directly into the solid wood before pushing himself into the room.

“Mother, how could you possibly-” He froze when he realized the soft voice he was hearing was not that of his mother's and that he had just unceremoniously burst into the room like some kind of uncivilized heathen in front of the woman he was set to marry.

“Mrs. Ashbrook, i’m afraid you have mistaken me for someone else. I would never-” The quiet voice broke off as Quinn came flying into the room, only his years of training and shadowhunter grace stopping him from running directly into the table that held the tea arrangement his mother had obviously gone to extra lengths to make glamorous. Freezing in place, it took Quinn a moment to regain his composure, sucking in a deep breath and straightening his jacket once more, completely unaware of the stray strand of dark hair that had fallen from it’s combed back style and now threatened to fall across his silvery eyes.
“Miss. Cartwright, how wonderful it is to finally meet you. I must apologize for my absence upon your arrival, you must already think me such a fool as to be forgetful of the time in which my future wife was to step through the doors of her new home. I do hope you can forgive me.” Quinn stepped forward into the sitting room, finally in control of his movements and approached the beautiful young lady seated in front of him gracefully. Taking her hand, he graced her hand with the lightest of kisses before bowing aristocratically before her.
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PostSubject: Re: An Arrangement   Sun Jun 19, 2016 12:47 am

Quickly led in by a girl that looked strikingly like James, Colette did her best to contain her wandering eyes as she followed the servant into the massive structure that was the Institute. Propriety meant not prying, so as much as she was impressed by her new home, curious about her surroundings, or hoping to catch a glance of her fiance or any other residents, the Shadowhunter kept her eyes trained on to the bright red hair before her.

Brushing her hands on her dress as if it would make it appear less wrinkled right before she entered the sitting room, Colette kept her eyes up as the servant announced her presence, and was shocked to immediately make eye contact with her future mother-in-law. Colette hoped that Mrs. Ashbrook had been eagerly awaiting her arrival, if she had been staring at the door the young woman had just walked through.

The servant left, and Colette took what was clearly meant to be her seat. There was tea in front of them, still steaming hot. It must have been poured right before she had arrived, and Colette was grateful to take a cup. The normality of sipping the hot beverage calmed her nerves somewhat.

Colette took another sip as Mrs. Ashbrook spoke, and this did not go down as easily. As the latter skirted around the desperation in the match, the former quickly set her cup down, rattling the saucer just enough to make a noise. Colette bristled and struggled to swallow at the thinly veiled allusion to her mother, the scandal that she herself could never quite escape. The last few words spoken were lost to her, and then suddenly because respectability demanded it, Colette was as composed as ever.

She desperately wanted to ease the tension she would never have expected to find so rapidly here. Although she had not been directly accused of anything, Colette could hear the threat rumors had forced Mrs. Ashbrook to lodge in her direction, even if it wasn't explicitly said. Admiring the woman's ability to get across what she needed to say and merely toeing the line of inappropriateness, Colette knew she needed to do away with the discord she felt already.

Colette began her defense, hoping to please her company with her resolution to all that was prim and proper. "Mrs. Ashbrook, I’m afraid you have mistaken me for someone else. I would never-" she began, but was interrupted by another voice, distinctly male and rushed, and her head turned sharply away from her future mother-in-law to find its cause, her heart beat quickening against her corset.

"Mother, how could you possibly-” he started, before seeming to realize where he was. The person she presumed to be her betrothed, Quinton Ashbrook, paused and collected himself, and Colette couldn't help but offering him a small smile, despite the strand of hair that had loosened itself from its place.

She was actually a little offended that her future husband hadn't seemed to care enough to remember her arrival and be the one to meet her first, but his apology seemed genuine, and Colette supposed there were worst things to happen to someone. If this were the one wrong he ever did her, she would be a very happy person indeed.

The person before her was quite attractive, with a tall figure, dark hair, and interesting eyes. His appearance fit the description of the hero of all her stories, the unsuspecting romantic lead in every novel, and surprisingly, she felt more relaxed now. The mystery was gone, right here was her future and forever. There would be all the time in the world to get to know him, but at the moment he seemed kind and equally as willing to make this work, and that was all she needed to know.

Colette blushed and brightened as his lips pressed ever so slightly against the back of her hand. She bowed her head, nodding once in response to his bow, and hesitated only a moment to speak as she remembered her fiance's mother, still there and watching the meeting.

"You are, of course, forgiven. It would seem imprudent to start a quarrel over something so trivial so soon," Colette paused before continuing, aware that her next statement was more than a formality, as it alluded to their future as husband and wife.

"We will have a lifetime of opportunities to quarrel over trivial things, so for the present, it is an absolute pleasure to meet you finally, Mr. Ashbrook." Colette smiled again, hands pressed firmly together in her lap, looking up at her fiance. She wanted to ask him to sit, but didn't think it appropriate considering that his mother had been the one to ask her here.

Her eyes flicked to Mrs. Ashbrook, hoping she would motion for her son to join them. Her future mother-in-law was intimidating, but Colette felt that she would be easier to face with someone else, if she were not yet satisfied with Colette's gentle rebuttal of the idea that she would throw the match away in fit of passion, or that she were anything else but the picture of propriety.
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PostSubject: Re: An Arrangement   Tue Jun 21, 2016 1:35 am

As Geneva performed her practiced speech, her eyes never left the face of Colette Cartwright. Geneva prided herself on how much information she could derive from a moments expression or gesture. It was the most honest form of communication, and she wanted to see the honesty that her son’s fiancé had to offer.

Colette’s quick, somewhat messy replacement of the tea cup expressed her discomfort at the topic of her interests, which Geneva had expected. She also had expected the girl to react when her mother was hinted at, appropriately, of course. Geneva had not expected the girl to compose herself so soon afterwards. It was a skill that impressed Geneva as well as worried her. Colette was obviously quite good at putting on a face for the public.

The rest of Geneva’s words were taken elegantly, and Colette had just begun her reply, one that seemed to be trying to change Geneva’s opinion of herself, when she was brutally interrupted by the sound and then the sight of her son rapidly entering the room. There was a brief pause as Quinton adjusted to the apparent surprise of seeing Colette. Geneva’s first response was to stare quite angrily at her son. She had gone to great lengths to make this meeting as seamless as possible, and his rash entrance had most definitely not been a part of that plan.

“Miss. Cartwright, how wonderful it is to finally meet you,” said Quinton. “I must apologize for my absence upon your arrival, you must already think me such a fool as to be forgetful of the time in which my future wife was to step through the doors of her new home. I do hope you can forgive me.”

Quinton then approached his fiancé and kissed her hand. Colette smiled and replied sweetly, forgiving him and intimating her happiness at their meeting. This planned tea was fast becoming a mess, and Geneva was quite aware of it. Her fingers had become so tight around the handle of her cup that the dainty china finally gave way under her grip. Thankfully the cup was on it’s saucer in her lap, or the tea would have spilled all over her dress. However, the fact that she had ruined her best tea set was the final chink in this disaster.

“Quinton,” Geneva said, her voice now turned to ice, but at a respectable volume. “I half expected to see your sister’s face revealed as the maker of all that racket and now this entrance. And, yet, you are before me.”

The remark would have seemed harmless if a bit scolding to a stranger, but Quinton would know that a comparison to his sister was anything but good if made by his mother.

“Miss. Cartwright and I were just getting acquainted,” Geneva continued, setting her ruined cup and saucer on the table and standing up from her seat. “We are quite finished, though, and I was just about to ring for Fiona to show her to her room.”
Geneva reached for the bell next to her, her eyes still on her son.
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PostSubject: Re: An Arrangement   Wed Jun 22, 2016 9:40 pm

"We will have a lifetime of opportunities to quarrel over trivial things, so for the present, it is an absolute pleasure to meet you finally, Mr. Ashbrook."

Despite his nerves, Quinn couldn't help but smile back at the young woman seated before him. The daunting thought of lifetimes could wait, for now he was just happy that their introduction, however abrupt, filled him with a warmth he hadn’t been expecting.

“Please, call me Quinn.” Before he could say anything else, the dainty, nearly soundless noise of breaking China called him back to the reality of the moment, reminding him of the overbearing presence in the room and wiping the smile clean from his face.

“Quinton,” Geneva said, her voice now turned to ice, but at a respectable volume. “I half expected to see your sister’s face revealed as the maker of all that racket and now this entrance. And, yet, you are before me.”

Taking a steadying breath, Quinn turned to face his mother, his head partially bowed in apology as it usually was when he was facing Geneva. The mention of his sister sending a mixture of emotions through him, protectiveness and the unwanted feeling of shame that only his mother could elicit from him when comparing him to his other, and as he saw it, better half.

“Miss. Cartwright and I were just getting acquainted,” Geneva continued, setting her ruined cup and saucer on the table and standing up from her seat. “We are quite finished, though, and I was just about to ring for Fiona to show her to her room.”

Quinn’s first reaction was to apologize and quickly take his leave as he knew Geneva wanted from him, but something about the young womans warm smile and the small, uncharacteristic burst of anger at his mothers casual but blatant insult towards his sister, made him speak without fully thinking it through. That and the coldly calculated way in which he wasn't allowed to greet his fiance properly made him act out of turn, not thinking about how he’d be made to regret it later.

“No need to bother Fiona, mother. I am more than willing to show Miss. Cartwright to where she will be staying. It is the least I can do to make up for my absence upon her arrival.”

Quinn let his voice become just cold enough to express to his mother that he knew exactly why he hadn’t been there when the young lady had arrived, and that he was very unhappy about it, though not enough for Miss. Cartwright to pick up on. He may be acting on a rare burst of disobedience but he was not bold enough to publicly (or privately) reprimand his mother.

“If you would only come with me, I believe Jamie has already delivered your luggage to your room.” Knowing the familiarity in which he referred to his friend would push his mother over the edge, Quinn was quickly beginning to lose his nerve under her cold glare, but he knew it was too late to turn back now.

With a little less confidence than he had just moments before, he offered his arm to Miss. Cartwright, both hoping and dreading that the young lady would pick up on his sense of urgency to leave the room. With a, what he hoped didn't come across as panicked, nod to Geneva, Quinn led the pair from the room, possibly walking a little too quickly to be polite but desperate to get out from under the weight of his mothers icy stare.

He was silent until they reached the grand staircase, a frightening image in his head of his mother calling him back to barrade him in front of his future wife. It was only when he realized they had made their escape successfully did he let out a gust of breath, almost forgetting the young lady that was attached to the dainty hand on his elbow all together.

For the second time since laying eyes on Miss. Cartwright, Quinn found himself again having to compose himself before offering her a smile. Holding back the urge to make sure his mother hadn’t been too harsh to the poor girl, he settled on what he hoped was a mild question to ease the tension from the parlor.

“I do hope you’ll find it comfortable here, Miss. Cartwright. I would love to give you a tour of the grounds tomorrow if you were at all interested. Perhaps we can even convince my sister to accompany us. Though i’d never admit to her, she would be a far more entertaining guide than I.” Even just the mention of having Verity beside him was enough to relax him more and let a more genuine smile pull at his lips, distracting him from the fact that he was talking too quickly.

“You two will be able to get acquainted tonight at dinner.” Having made it up the staircase and to the gallery, Quinn hesitated before turning to the right and leading his fiance to the unmarried womens collection of rooms, where Colettes had already been prepared for her.

Having immediately realized his error, a deep hue of pink crept up his neck and colored his pale cheeks. His mother was going to kill him.

“It would appear that I have made an error in judgment and should have allowed for Fiona to show you to your quarters.” He spoke softly, having to look away from his fiance to hide his embarrassment and to avoid seeing the other shadowhunters reaction, anger or her own embarrassment, he didn't want to know.  

“I’m afraid i’m very unpracticed at all of this, despite my mothers best efforts… And now I find myself needing to apologize to you yet again. I’m sure you're feeling quite lucky to have me as your betrothed at this point.” Quinn tried his best to not let his shoulders sag with self pity as he watched himself destroy whatever chance he had at a pleasant relationship with his wife to be within an hour of introducing himself.

“I offer you my sincerest apologies, Miss. Cartwright and do hope I haven't offended you beyond repair.” As he began to panic somewhat, the relieving sight of Fionas red hair appeared beside them, leaving Quinn to feel that his friend had been waiting for him to mess up and come in to reverse the situation. He knew he would be giving the older woman the tightest hug she’d ever received in her life later.

“I’ll see that Miss. Cartwright is properly settled in, Mr. Ashbrook. If you would like to go prepare for dinner, Mistress Ashbrooks guests should be arriving within the hour.” Fiona gave Quinn a sympathetic smile as he nodded, hoping his friend could see in his eyes how very grateful he was.

“If you’ll just follow me, Miss.”  Fiona turned to lead his fince away and as he watched them disappear down the hall, Quinn finally let his shoulders sag. If this was how the first introduction was to go, how would he ever be able to pull this off for a lifetime? With a sigh of defeat, he turned to make his way to his own room to ready himself for dinner that promised to be as much of a disaster as their introduction.
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PostSubject: Re: An Arrangement   Sat Jun 25, 2016 4:43 pm

It had taken a moment for the newest Institute arrival to place Jaime as the servant James, the one who had brought in her luggage. Colette marveled at the intimacy this quick statement seemed to reflect between the Shadowhunters and their mundanes here. She easily recalled the fondness she had felt for her own maid back home, but couldn't make excuses for the fact that it was improper to show such closeness.

Despite this, Colette happily took her fiance's arm, standing gracefully as she looped hers through his. Quinn, as he wanted to be called, steered her out of the room, giving Colette just enough time to turn back to his mother as he nodded a farewell to her.

"Mrs. Ashbrook, it was quite wonderful to meet you," she forced the words out of her lips, despite the fact that it had actually been somewhat uncomfortable until Quinton had shown up. Colette hoped that her future mother-in-law's worries, however unfair they were, would be settled now, even though the young woman had been interrupted in her attempt to calm them.

The pair did not speak until beginning their ascent up the grand staircase. Like when she had first entered, before she had been swept into the parlor to Mrs. Ashbrook, Colette was once again trying to contain her gazing at the majesty of everything in the Institute. Things were far fancier here than in the country home she had been in for the last few years, more closely rivaling the home she had in Paris several far away years ago.

“I do hope you’ll find it comfortable here, Miss Cartwright. I would love to give you a tour of the grounds tomorrow if you were at all interested. Perhaps we can even convince my sister to accompany us. Though I’d never admit to her, she would be a far more entertaining guide than I.”

Quinn's words broke her from her thoughts, and Colette turned to him to see a smile on his face, one which immediately made her lips curve upwards as well. If she had to guess, Colette would say that he seemed more at ease now, and that in turn made her relax. She wanted nothing more than for him to be happy with her.

"A tour would be delightful," Colette began. "If the grounds are half as impressive as the Institute itself, I'm sure they could easily compete with the natural beauty of the French countryside I left." The statement mentioning her former home would have pained her a mere hour ago, but for now in all the excitement she didn't think twice of it.

They had reached the top of the stairs. "I am truly excited to meet your sister. I must confess that I hope she and I can become fast friends," Colette was planning on asking a question or two about the girl that would also become her family with this planned marriage, but the pair turned and her fiance stopped, immediately ceasing all hopes of continuing the genial conversation

“It would appear that I have made an error in judgment and should have allowed for Fiona to show you to your quarters.” Quinton spoke softly, a stark contrast to his amiability before, and Colette stared down the hallway that must have provoked his nervousness.

"But, whatever do you mean?" She questioned, thinking that surely her room must just be a meter or two away. The answer to her question quickly clicked into place as he fiance began to apologize, and Colette blushed deeply. Of course, the Institute would have separate quarters for the unmarried men and women here.

"Please, it's quite all right, Quinn." Colette stammered, hoping her flushed cheeks had calmed some. This mistake was certainly not an easy one to make, but she hated the thought of her newly acquainted fiance being uncomfortable or upset. She desperately needed the pleasantness of their previous conversation to return, and would say almost anything for that to happen.

Luckily for both Fiona, the redhead that had greeted her earlier, had appeared, solving the problem. Leading the Shadowhunter away, Colette was all of a sudden aware of how unpresentable her current state must be for dinner, but that didn't stop her from turning back once to try to meet her fiance's eyes with a forgiving glance.

He had already turned away, however, and so Colette gratefully entered her room. No words were exchanged as the maid helped her prepare for dinner. Colette was content with the silence, free to think about the meeting that had transpired as she mechanically slipped into a new, unwrinkled dress and sat to have her hair re-pinned in front of the mirror. Her reflection transformed before her as the weariness of travel was erased, and Colette genuinely thanked the maid.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Verity hurriedly undid the pins in her hair, watching with satisfaction as her brunette curls found their rightful place, one that would greatly displease her mother. She despised her hair up as it often gave her headaches, but had waited until Fiona had left to go help their new arrival, Miss Cartwright, before reversing the maid's tedious work.

The Shadowhunter had hounded her friend for information of her brother's new fiance. As much as she hated the idea of her twin brother marrying and finding a new life partner in Miss Cartwright, from what little Fiona had observed, it could be much worse than it was.

Earlier Verity had been caught by surprise when she heard a very loud crash from a bedroom near hers. An investigation led her to James, who had dropped a piece of luggage in what was to be her future sister-in-law's room. Verity had calmed James down, and to her benefit had gotten him to explain that Colette had arrived and that he had also just told Quinton this news a few minutes prior.

With this, she had retreated to her room to wait for Fiona to arrive and impatiently sat through the preparation for dinner, trying to satisfy her curiosity with Fiona's little knowledge. Verity desperately wanted to see her brother, and only when the maid left was she given her chance.

Now, finally, Verity was able to leave her room. She crept out, closing the door quietly behind her, assuming that Fiona was with Miss Cartwright in her room.

Without hesitation, Verity quickly made her way to the other end of the hallway, a place where she was strictly forbidden to be. She could not care less, however, and didn't even think twice as she knocked on her twin's door. This wasn't her asking permission to enter, merely a warning, and she turned the door knob and let herself in after only a moment.

Verity found her dear brother dressed for dinner but sitting on his bed and probably wrinkling his clothes. She plopped down next to him and smiled. Quinton's room was as familiar to her as her own, and through everything this was her safe place in the Institute.

"So, tell me about the new love of your life," Verity teased, gently bumping her twin's shoulder with her own as a greeting. Joking aside, she was actually nervous for Quinton, for this new development in his life and what exactly that meant for his happiness and their relationship, and she was frustratingly aware he would pick up on that immediately.


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PostSubject: Re: An Arrangement   Sat Jun 25, 2016 5:50 pm


Quinn knew his sister was heading towards him, even before the familiar light knock echoed through his otherwise silent room. He always knew when she was close, something seemed to warm in his chest at her presence, especially at times like these when his insides felt icy. The pretence of the knock out of the way, he only looked up as Verity slipped into his room and took her place beside him, trying to offer her a smile, despite his previous sulking.

"So, tell me about the new love of your life," She teased, bumping his shoulder and trying to keep her tone light despite the underlying stress they both could feel bouncing off of each other. Quinn let out a puff of breath, remaining silent for a long moment as he let his head fall to rest on his sisters shoulder, taking what comfort he could from the closeness.

"She's lovely." His voice was soft but morose, not the tone one would use to describe the charming young lady he was supposed to marry.

"She seems gentle, kind and most proper.... but not in the cold manor of the well bred. From what I can tell, shes perfect and I've already succeeded in making a mess of everything. I'm sure she's in her room now despairing over the fool she's been doomed to spend the rest of her life with." Dropping his face down into his hands, he let out a frustrated sigh, running his hands through his already styled hair and mussing his appearance further.

"I don't think I can do this." He spoke so quietly that he wasn't even sure he had spoken aloud, though he knew his sister would be able to hear him either way.
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PostSubject: Re: An Arrangement   Thu Jun 30, 2016 12:17 am

“No need to bother Fiona, mother. I am more than willing to show Miss. Cartwright to where she will be staying. It is the least I can do to make up for my absence upon her arrival.”

Geneva’s outstretched hand clenched into a fist upon hearing her son’s unexpected reply. In her eyes, this was a blatant denial of her will, an action she usually associated with her daughter. Quinton was always so sweet and obedient, a quality that she had cultivated in him over the years. This new streak of insolence could only have come from the Cartwright girl’s arrival. Geneva was just starting to rethink her decision to pair the two, when they were suddenly walking out of the sitting room. Quinton’s usage of one of the servant’s first names was his parting gift to her.

Her skin itching from her loss of control, Geneva rose sharply from her chair and exited the room at a barely contained walk. She spotted the Murphy boy almost immediately, his mop of red hair about to disappear out the door to see to the horses or some other menial task.

“BOY,” she called out, all her anger spearing out at the servant in that one utterance. “The carriage should have been put up long ago. I do not have the time nor the patience to deal with your perpetual incompetence, as I am expecting a very important party of people within the hour. You and your sister’s vocations here at the Institute rely on this night being absolute perfection. Remember that the next time you even contemplate slipping up. Now, get back to work.”

Geneva turned away just as viciously as her tone, having finally decided to have words with her children.

She was not surprised to hear both twin’s voices, upon approaching Quinton’s door. Verity’s sense of propriety was always found to be lacking. But, for once, Geneva was not angry at this. Speaking to both of them at once would be most efficient and tonight desperately needed an infusion of efficiency.

Geneva wrapped sharply on the door, before allowing herself in. Upon seeing both of her children, her fury at Verity’s loose hair was stalled by the obvious anguish of her son. The tenderness from her early days of motherhood keened to be allowed to comfort him and seek out the source of his discomfort. Geneva quickly squashed the feeling, knowing that the time for that tenderness was long gone. The time that her guests from the Clave would arrive, however, was quickly approaching and she needed to express the weight of the night upon her children, lest more surprises worm their way into her plans.

“I will not fully express to you the embarrassment your behavior caused me to experience earlier, Quinton,” Geneva said, closing the door and fully entering the room. “I do not have the time and I sincerely hope that your ruminations on your actions have caused you to see how childish you appeared to be in front of your fiancé. Such behavior will not be allowed at tonight’s dinner.
Our guests have the power to start the lengthy mending that will be needed in order to make our family seem at the very least adequate in the eyes of the Clave. Though it may appear differently, I do not cherish the role of beaming hostess. What I do cherish is our life here, and I will not have that life further ruined by petulant antics from either of you.
As I said, our guests will be arriving soon. Verity, go find Fiona immediately and have her make you fit to be seen. Quinton, that jacket is now far too wrinkled. Change it. I will see you both downstairs in fifteen minutes.”

Geneva gave each of her children one last measured look, before leaving the room. She made her way swiftly to her room in order to check her own appearance. As usual, her hair and dress were immaculate, with not a seam or hair out of place. Geneva seldom looked at herself in a mirror for too long, telling herself that the aversion was due to her belief that vanity was inefficient. However, as she found herself moving her gaze from her dress to her face, Geneva realized that her aversion to mirrors had everything to do with what she saw in her face. The tightness of the mouth. The narrowness of the eyes. The wrinkles in the skin. This was the face of an old, bitter woman. This was the face of someone she did not like.

The clock chimed out the seventh hour, breaking Geneva away from the honesty of her mirror. She had already dressed much earlier, so all that was left to do was to go downstairs and wait to greet the Clave members. The importance of the night suddenly impacted her, as she made her way to the entrance hall, feeling a nervousness that she had not felt in a very long time.
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PostSubject: Re: An Arrangement   Sun Jul 03, 2016 1:02 am

Verity closed her eyes and leaned her head against Quinn's as his fell to her shoulder. The familiarity of their closeness was comforting, but listening to him describe his future wife left her uneasy. Alone, the words he used would have been promising, but when paired with his frustrated tone Verity wanted nothing more than to send their sweet new guest packing, if only to rid her brother of this new role he was going to be forced to play.

"I don't think I can do this," he said quietly, seemingly to himself, but of course she heard. Verity prided herself in knowing her twin as well as he knew himself, and never failed to hear his hidden meanings or catch his knowing looks.

Had she been more tactful, Verity would have spoken reassuring words praising his capabilities to handle the situation, but the thought of what might be best for her twin to hear didn't cross her mind quick enough. True tenderness was rarely something she showed, and it was usually Quinn himself that brought any resemblance to it out of her.

"Quinn, you have to," she said, and although her words were not kind, her voice was, and that was as gentle as she could be. Surely he would know that she was trying.

A loud rap broke her attention, and Verity's head turned quickly to the door to find their mother walking in. As always, Geneva appeared as the picture of perfection, not a single hair out of place and a stern look on her face.

"Mother," Verity greeted, eyes matching the older woman's gaze, ready to hear yet again about how she was shaming the family. For once, however, Quinton was the target of her scolding, and Verity inched even closer to him out of protectiveness. As often as she was at the receiving end of her mother's reprimands, she still despised seeing her brother in her normal place.

Quinton seemed to be bracing himself against her, for surely he could feel Verity's seething dislike blossoming up once again. Although she had one or two distant, blurry memories of toddling around with a somewhat caring mother calling after her, they were too indistinct to mean anything now. For too long Geneva's coldness had been her only parenting style, and Verity greatly resented her for it.

"Further ruined?" Verity questioned when her mother's speech was finished, unable to contain herself. "Whose fault is it that we're in such jeopardy in the first place?" She spat, but Geneva had already left the room. In a huff, blinking back frustrated tears, Verity stood and slammed the door her mother had left open upon her exit.

Only when she turned and saw her brother, still sitting on the bed, did she calm any. Without pause or words she went to Quinn's closet, took out a new jacket, and laid it next to him.

"Here," she said, "I imagine mother will want you to bring Colette down to dinner." Verity swallowed, hard, as normally she and her twin went downstairs together for formalities, as the only two Shadowhunter residents here besides her mother. Quinton looked at her with mild terror in his eyes.

"You may think you've already made a mess of everything, but it will be okay. You are by far the most compassionate soul I know, and Colette will see this if you let her. She's lucky to have you," Verity said this all without hesitation, fiercely believing every word she said to be the complete truth.

"I'll get Fiona to tell her that you will meet her at the staircase in a few minutes," Verity said, hating to leave but well aware that she needed to. She shut Quinton's door quietly behind her.

In the hallway once more, Verity had hoped that Fiona would be in her plain sight, but realized that the maid must still be tending to their newest arrival. Walking to Colette's door, the brunette heard what must be Quinn's fiance's soft voice, and knocked.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Yes?" Colette questioned the knock at her door, happy to at least be presentable now but completely confused as to who could want to enter her room, if she already had a maid helping her get ready.

Fiona opened the door slightly, and a brunette head poked around the wooden edge. Striking blue eyes found Colette's, and she realized with a start that this must be the twin sister of her fiance. The resemblance was definitely there, and there was even an intensity about her that Colette had seen in Geneva.

"Miss Verity, your hair," Fiona bemoaned, but the Shadowhunter shook off her complaint.

"Never mind that, Fee, I'll fix it myself. It is my own fault, after all," Verity began, sounding almost exasperated, but Colette couldn't tell if it was with herself or something else, and she didn't have enough time to ponder it before she was directly addressed.

"Miss Cartwright, it's nice to meet you, and I hope we get the chance to talk at dinner. My brother will meet you at the staircase to take you down in a minute or two."

Colette smiled politely, surprised by the suddenness of this interruption and their meeting, but desperately wanting Verity to like her. "Please, call me Colette," she said. "Thank you for telling me."

"See you downstairs, Colette," Verity returned, smiling also, but it seemed much more forced. She retreated immediately as well, and Colette wanted to ask Fiona about the interaction but knew very well that not only was it highly improper, but also that the maid's loyalty was most likely with Verity. Odds were that she would not be forthcoming about any of the Shadowhunters she worked for to a newcomer.

Colette settled for expressing her genuine gratitude once more. "Thank you again for helping me," she said, and Fiona nodded and left at her dismissal. With the maid gone, Colette allowed herself a few more moments to stare at her reflection, carefully smoothing back a strand of hair that wasn't out of place to begin with, before rising and leaving the safety of her room.

Sure enough, as Verity had said, Quinton was waiting for her at the staircase, adjusting one of his sleeves. Colette's eyes brightened, and she walked quickly toward him.

"Quinton," she smiled. She felt much better meeting him now, knowing that she was well-dressed for the part. Although still travel-weary, Colette was satisfied that she no longer looked it.

Similarly, her fiance before her was dressed much fancier now, and the informality of their meeting before seemed to be erased. "Who is dining with us tonight?" Colette asked, hoping to start an easy conversation as she took Quinton's arm and they began their descent down the stairs.
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PostSubject: Re: An Arrangement   Sun Jul 03, 2016 9:21 pm

"Quinn, you have to," Veritys words would have sounded like a command to anyone else, but Quinn could feel his sisters earnest sincerity and offered her the smallest of smiles in return.

"I know, Birdie," He spoke the childhood nickname as almost a sigh, opening his mouth to say more but his thoughts were cut off when the sharp knock all but shook the room. Any warmth he had from having his sister beside him, despite the unpleasant topic of conversation, turned to ice as his mother entered the room, instantly taking control of the situation with her commanding presence. Quinn knew he should stand, to bow in greeting, compliment his mother on her graceful beauty but his fear stuck him to the spot on the bed, lips pulled into a tight line and unconsciously leaning into his sister for support.

Genevas reprimanding made his stomach do an uncomfortable flip as he felt what little color there was naturally, drain from his face. Being the subject of their mothers disapproval was usually held for his sister, but Quinn was no stranger to their mothers righteous fury. Though, this was far more than the typical scolding he received for not sitting up straight enough, not bowing deeply enough, not being proper enough, in other words... just being himself. This was what his entire existence revolved around and he had done everything wrong, he had completely disregarded everything his mother had taught him.

The blossom of shame stung his chest, and his head hung in remorse as his mothers words cut him deeper than her chakrams ever could. He wanted to apologize, to promise he would do better but he knew Geneva well enough to know that apologies and begging for forgiveness would only displease her further, only action would show his mother he wasn't a failure. He remained silent as the older woman swept from the room, her skirts seeming to pull the air from the room with her as she left.

Numbly, he watched as Verity went to his wardrobe to fetch him an uncompromised jacket, he tried to let her gentle words comfort him, but all he could do was keep his gaze locked on the floor in front of him, willing the tears that stung the back of his eyes not to come. Men did not cry, that was a harsh lesson he had to learn from his mother very early on and was something he wasn't soon to forget.

"I'll get Fiona to tell her that you will meet her at the staircase in a few minutes," Finally looking up, Quinn caught his sisters gaze and they exchanged a silent, knowing look as he nodded slowly in compliance. If his mother had left any warmth in the room at her departure, what little there was disappeared with the comfort of his sister as she quietly shut the door behind her.

Almost robotically, Quinn stood and brushed off his trousers before replacing his wrinkled jacket with the fresh one. Taking a few stiff steps to his floor length mirror that was set beside his bedroom door, Quinn allowed himself a moment to stare forlornly at his reflection.

In appearance, he was all he was supposed to be as a shadowhunter, as the heir to the London Institute. He looked just like any other respectable young man born with Nephilim blood... So what was wrong with him? It wasn't that he didn't care or didn't throw himself into training, both etiquette and fighting... but there had always been something missing... Something he could never place his finger on. Something he knew his mother noticed and pushed him harder to try to escape.

Casting his eyes to the ground once more, Quinn took a deep breath in a failed attempt to steady himself. He was to escort Miss. Cartwright down to dinner, to be the man his mother had trained him to be. He would impress the upstanding members of the Claive and prove he was a capable leader and the best candidate to take over the running of the London Institute, the only home he had ever known. In short, he was to efficiently lie to everyone.

Letting out the breath, he hadn't realized he'd been holding, Quinn cast his reflection one last glance, ensuring everything was in place the way his mother would approve of and fled from his room, feeling cold in the empty halls.

"Quinton." Collets voice made him freeze, stilling his reproachful efforts to make his jacket sleeve sit properly. Despite all else, the young ladys voice was a comfort in the cold and quiet gallery, and he felt a genuine, if not slightly strained smile tug at his lips.

"Miss. Cartwright. Do forgive me, but you look lovely this evening. I do apologize if that is too bold but one would never have thought you had traveled all that way just this morning. The grandeur of these ancient halls suits you well." He bowed politely in greeting before offering his arm.

"Who is dining with us tonight?" His fiance asked as they started down the grand staircase and a slightly more genuine smile found its way to his lips as a soft touch of pink colored his cheeks.

"Would you think me most irresponsible if I told you I had absolutely no idea?" He answered truthfully, unable to keep the pink hue from staining his cheeks as he admitted his ignorance to his future bride.

“Mother doesn't exactly share the guest list with me.” He shot her a humorous, conspiratorial glance as the color that danced across his cheeks deepened. Feeling this was more interaction than his mother would deem proper, he cast his gaze low once more as they reached the bottom of the staircase. Blessedly, no one happened to be walking in at that moment, sparing the pair from being alone to welcome guests, though as they moved towards the parlor, unfamiliar voices trickled out through the heavy oak door.

He wanted to warn Colette, to offer her some amount of comfort before the storm that was about to break over their heads, but all he could do was concentrate on the floorboards as he pushed his way inside, holding the door for his bride to be. Quinn truly hadn’t known who was going to be attending dinner that night, but the many bodies that filled the parlor made him start. Surely this gathering wasn’t the dinner party. He didn’t even think his mother knew this many people, though as someone who grew up in the institute with the occupancy remaining five persons or under, he guessed that anything over that number would seem like a crowd.

Spotting his mother, standing out proudly against the fireplace, he steeled himself for the interaction and steered his future wife in the womans direction. Bowing deeply once in front of Geneva, he forced a charming smile to clear away the stress that he was sure tugged at his features.

“Good evening, Mother.” Quinn spoke with a pleasantness that said nothing of the previous interactions of the day, as he knew his mother would want.

“How marvelous it is to see so many prominent faces of the Claive here tonight.” He offered another bow towards the couple that had been standing beside his mother. If he were to be honest, he possibly recognized a few of the faces in the crowd, but the rest were strangers. Though he didn’t doubt for a minute that they were prominent faces indeed.

“Dinner is ready, Madam.” The nervous voice of his friend made Quinn pause as his gaze found the burst of red hair that was holding open the door to the dining room with a trembling hand. Everything else seemed to vacate his brain for the moment as he made eye contact with Jamie, scared hazel eyes catching his with a look he could not read.

Reality hit him hard, like a blow to the chest. This was his fault. Jamie was never expected to tend to the guests face to face. This was his punishment, he knew without a word being spoken. Jamies future hung in the void because of his insubordination. The queasy feeling he had in his stomach grew worse as everyone took their place to file into the dining room, the floor seeming to spin underneath him as he tried to steady himself, possibly leaning unconsciously too close to the young lady at his elbow as he would if it had been his sister standing beside him.

Before Geneva could notice, Quinn sucked in a deep breath, sharing a meaningful glance with his friend as he passed the boy on his way into the dining room. He hoped the redhead could read everything he meant to convey in the glance. ‘I’m sorry. I will fix this.’ And found his and his fiances place at the table, pulling the chair out for the young woman. His gaze scanned the table almost frantically looking to meet his sisters gaze amongst the strangers.
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PostSubject: Re: An Arrangement   Mon Jul 04, 2016 12:43 pm

Standing just a few feet inside of the Institute, Geneva greeted each Enclave and Council member as they passed through, into the parlor. Some guests maintained their somber expressions throughout the evening, some were more visibly excited. It could be confidently stated, though, that everyone present was quite interested.

This wasn’t her first attempt at retribution for the family name. But, all previous invitations to see what the Institute had to offer had been poorly attended or completely ignored by all. The sting had been felt, more frustration than actual disappointment, and a different strategy had been applied. If there was one thing that both Shadowhunters and mundanes shared, it was their attraction to a controversial unknown. Colette’s arrival had been included in the invitations. Now, some might have thought it cold to use the rumors surrounding one’s son as a ploy to attract more guests. But, Geneva knew that a larger crowd would carry the news of a transformed family and Institute far more efficiently than a small crowd. The ploy was just a means to an end, a very beneficial end for all members of her family.

Geneva followed her last guest into the parlor, silently surprised that her plan had worked so well and all the people she had invited had come. She placed herself, strategically as always, next to the fireplace, knowing that the position was a place of power and taking it as her own. A short, stocky woman and a weathered looking man proceeded to strike up a conversation with Geneva. She was aware of their names and everyone else’s in the room, but the level of prominence that each person held was more important to her. This couple had been important enough to invite, being members of the Enclave, but not too well placed to merit Geneva’s full attention, as a Council member would. The conversation was simple, observations on the weather were made. Geneva felt the beginnings of a yawn, and knew that, if this night were going to be a triumph, she needed to be more particular about who she talked to. However, her seeking out of a more suitable conversation partner was halted by the entrance of the rest of her household.

“Good evening, Mother,” Quinton spoke, his voice all pleasantness. “How marvelous it is to see so many prominent faces of the Enclave here tonight.”

Geneva gave a brief nod, acknowledging his bow, and smiled even more briefly, acknowledging his return to order and propriety. Colette was radiantly beautiful, her time upstairs having ironed out all the things Geneva had found wanting in the girl. Geneva could already feel the subtle weight of multiple pairs of eyes focusing all at once on the newly arrived pair.

“Dinner is ready, Madam.”

For once, Geneva was pleased with Jamie’s timing. The interest over Colette and Quinton would simmer, coming to a boil just as dinner would be effortlessly flowing into coffee and cigars.

She passed through into the dining room, on the arm of an elderly Breekhall, her rightful partner as a widower and brother to the Consul. Chairs were pulled out for every guest by the footmen that Geneva had hired for the occasion. The handling of the new footmen, though, Geneva had given to Jamie, not because of any show of leadership on his part, but as a punishment for earlier. She trusted that the threat of letting go both him and his sister would cause the boy to perform on a level he had never reached before, but that it would also give him great strife, knowing that everything relied on his performance.

“Mr. Breekhall, I’ve been meaning to ask if you noticed the silver dagger that was above the fireplace in the parlor,” Geneva prompted. “I do believe your great-grandfather was its owner and bestowed it as a gesture of friendship to the leading Ashbrook at that time.”

Her eyes were on the Consul’s brother and her periphery gaze on the servants, as the first course was passed out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The kitchen was a fiery inferno of work, as Fiona, the other servants, and the cook fought to support the image of effortlessness that the guests would see, dishes appearing as if out of thin air. She wiped the sweat from her forehead, stirring the pot of soup in front of her. What she wouldn’t give to be in the room above, watching over her brother.

At first, she had been furious, upon hearing about Mrs. Ashbrook’s orders for her brother. He was only a boy! But, Geneva Ashbrook’s anger spared none, as Fiona had learned being a bystander of Quinton’s and Verity’s troubled childhood. It was no use becoming angry or trying to fight against the head of the Institute’s will; it only served to bring about a stricter punishment. Fiona had taken her brother’s callused hands in her own, as he was preparing to go up into the dining room. She thought he looked dashing in his footman’s livery and she had told him so.

“I know you have this in you, mo dheartháir,” Fiona had said, her eyes shining bright up at him, as she used the Gaelic that reminded them both of their parents. “Show her that you are worthy of such a position and you’ll have turned the punishment back on her.”

Fiona had then ruffled his hair and watched as he vanished upstairs. Having been stuck in the kitchen for hours, now, she was starting to feel the anxiety that prolonged absence from her brother’s side always brought about. A quick look to her right showed the cook lost in her work and a young, housemaid absentmindedly picking at her nails. With a low hiss, Fiona summoned the girl to take her place stirring the pot. And, with a last look at the distracted cook, she stole away up the servant’s staircase.

A quick peak wouldn’t hurt anything. Fiona prided herself in her ability to be unseen when she needed it most. Since everyone was either working in the kitchen or serving in the dining room, she found herself in front of the dining room’s entrance hall door without anyone noticing. Her hand was somewhat slick upon the door knob, as she gripped its metal, readying herself to turn it ever so slightly. However, a dull thud from the front door of the Institute caused her to jump back from the door knob, as if scalded. Turning slowly around, Fiona hesitantly made her way across the hall and to the front door.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Ramming the door seemed a lot more valiant an effort in my head than in actual practice,” Hale grumbled, trying to rub the sudden soreness out of his shoulder. Edward was still preoccupied with unloading the many suitcases that his lord had brought along out of the carriage.

Both were somewhat worse for wear than they had been earlier that afternoon. True to his word, Hale had used the last of his money to get himself and his valet ‘stinking’ drunk at a pub of questionable character. Hale thought himself much improved, having successfully drowned his defeated soul in cup after cup of the best spirit that the shady establishment had to offer. Which was ultimately little more refined than an industrial paint thinner, but beggars couldn’t be choosers. And, when the two had eventually been thrown out, owing to a misunderstanding of the occupation of a very scandalously dressed woman, Hale had felt his situation coming back to him most unpleasantly. Edward had then suggested that they retrieve the carriage from his town house and make their way to the Institute. He had been noticing the steadily deteriorating consciousness of his master and thought a shelter more suitable than a tavern would be needed in the near future.

“I guess asking a stranger of the female persuasion how much a night with her would cost isn’t the best way to go about conversation, but you can’t judge a man for trying,” Hale continued, suddenly remembering the correct way to open a door.

His hand slid off his hold on the door as it slowly opened, leaving him nothing to brace himself against and resulting in his less than graceful tumble into the London Institute. The coldness of the stone floor underneath him was enough to sober Hale to the point of being able to focus on his surroundings. He was somewhat startled, but most definitely not put off, to find a small, pale face staring down at him in unrestrained astonishment.

“I promise that I have learned my lesson, miss, and in no way will seek to know your hourly wages for a night spent with you in bodily pleasure,” Hale exclaimed, smiling up at the woman. “Unless, of course, you’re of a mind to carry out a business transaction of that kind.”

Hale followed up this last bit with a slow wink that he was sure appeared most suave, but made Fiona wonder quite seriously if the man on the floor was having a fit. Hearing the light clink of silverware and the low rumble of voices, Hale immediately propped himself up.

“Now, that sounds very much like the beginnings of a party,” Hale said, struggling to a standing position and clasping Fiona’s shoulder for temporary balance, an action that did nothing to dispel the paleness from her face. “Would you be a dear and communicate to my valet as to my whereabouts? I have a most urgent business to attend to.”

And, with that parting remark, Hale rammed into the dining room door, this second attempt being much more successful, and inspected the state of the party. All eyes were on him, their owner’s expressions similar to the one that the maid in the entrance hall had borne. One woman in particular seemed less astonished and more furious, the sharpness in her expression sending a shiver down his spine. Deciding to ignore her for the moment, his gaze surveyed the rest of the room. There was an extreme lack of color and exotic animals, which Hale found vastly disappointing. He sidled up to the table, picking up a crystalline glass filled with champagne. How boring, he thought, chugging the contents, nonetheless.

“I don’t want to alarm any of your esteemed personages, but it is my duty to inform you all that this party is as dry as my Aunt Matilda’s nether regions,” Hale said, his voice seeming to echo in the silence that proceeded his dramatic entrance. “Thankfully, I, Lord Hale Brantley, have arrived just in time to save this dull group. I will need one, open-minded nymph and multiple birds of exotic colors, but I think this party can be saved.”

Hale watched as his name bounced around in the head’s of the old codgers present, a smile forming on his face when multiple grimaces of recognition replaced the surprise of before. The cold woman from before was rising from her seat, making Hale feel like he needed more bubbly to bolster himself against the she-witch. Reaching down for another glass, he caught sight of its owner’s soft, green-grey eyes.

“Well, I might have been hasty in my diagnosis,” Hale said, his words loosing their haughty bravado as he stared at the Shadowhunter’s masculine face, softened by his beautiful eyes. “Because you are most certainly not dull, not in the least.”

He gaged the Shadowhunter’s expression, found encouragement in something there that he couldn’t name, and bent down to press his lips lightly to the lips of a fellow fallen angel.
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PostSubject: Re: An Arrangement   Fri Jul 08, 2016 1:03 am

The night was progressing at a painfully slow pace, each course seeming to take an eternity as the dinner party chatted politely as gazes peeked across the table to spy, rather unabashed at where Quinn sat beside Colette. He supposed he couldn't blame them for staring, it had been a long while since anyone had come to visit the Institute on anything other than official Claive business, and now here they all were at what he could only assume was an unexpected engagement party, with the bride to be the picture of perfection and he was just… him.

According to Geneva, Colette was ‘lucky to have such an opportunity given her family's scandalous past’ though Quinn admittedly had no idea what that meant but he had no doubt that the lingering looks and occasional muffled laughter had everything to do with himself and the misfortune that had befallen the lovely girl beside him by being forced into such an arrangement.

Though, despite his desire to dive head first off of the astronomy tower, Quinn somehow managed to keep a polite smile painted across his lips as he made small talk with the couple seated to his left while offering Colette what he hoped resembled reassuring glances when she wasn’t being questioned by the old bat of a woman seated to her other side.

His attention was truly divided though, between watching for any sign of distress from his mother and keeping an eye on Jamie. His friend was doing remarkably well, better than James had probably thought himself capable of and the swell of pride Quinn felt while watching him succeed, a few narrow misses aside, made his smile widen.

It wasn’t until the heavy door to the dining room burst open with a resounding smash did the night start its inevitable descent into chaos. Having never been intoxicated before, Quinn by no means considered himself knowing on the matter of inebriation but it did not take an expert to determine at first glance that the stranger that was now sauntering towards the table had had more than his share to drink. Finding it difficult to pull his attention away from the man that was now standing uncomfortably close to him, Quinn could only gauge the reactions of the rest of the company by the disapproving muttering that had begun to buzz around the table as the vulgar tongued shadowhunter introduced himself. His name was obviously known to the Enclaive members, and obviously not in a favorable light.

Finally turning to attempt to make eye contact with his mother, who was looking as if she wanted to snap the newcomers neck as effectively as she had smashed her favorite china that morning, his attention was pulled away from Lord Brantley as the older man grabbed his glass of champagne that had sat untouched, waiting for the toast that was to come for the engagement. It wasn’t until the silky, if not slightly slurred voice spoke nearly purring in his ear did he look away from Geneva.

Pulling his attention back to the stranger beside him, he looked up and caught the mans intense gaze for just a moment before soft lips were on his own, earning a shocked and unfortunately feminine sounding gasp that escaped his mouth without his consent. He found himself frozen for what seemed like an eternity, unable to move or react to the unexpected invasion of space.

There was a pause of shocked silence before the sound of a tray of glasses smashing to the floor and Jamies familiar voice exclaiming, “As ucht Dé!” before the room exploded into an uproar.

“What is this impropriety! Is this how dinner parties are conducted in these noble halls, Madam Ashbrook?!” A voice boomed, many guests getting to their feet and adding their own protests of disgust to the chorus. Quinn was still frozen to the spot, his gaze locked on the furious face of his mother who looked as if she was about to charge into battle. He didn’t know what was painted across his own face, hopefully something that matched the outrage of the others though he knew he probably looked more like a doe that had finally been cornered by a hunting party. The color had drained from his face, despite the remaining warmth that still danced on his lips from the memory of the touch that was now gone.

When Geneva finally looked at him, he pushed his chair back, getting to his feet as well and trying his best to mirror the righteous fury that blazed in his mothers eyes.

“By the Angle, sir. I don’t know w-who you are but you have absolutely-no right to… to…” His attempt to sound masculine failed miserably as his gaze connected with Lord Brantleys once more and the treacherous hue of pink that was far from welcome began to color his cheeks, forcing him to look down to the floor as he heard others moving towards them.
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PostSubject: Re: An Arrangement   Fri Jul 15, 2016 6:13 pm

Colette pushed the food on her plate around, occasionally taking a dainty bite but mostly avoiding the meal. Before she had been famished, but at the realization of just how many people were attending dinner, her appetite had vanished. She hadn't known what she expected, perhaps close family friends or a few important Enclave members, but in reality it seemed that every single person who ever even dabbled in Shadowhunter politics was at the Institute tonight.

Quinton hadn't known of the extremely large party amount either, but the compliments he paid her were enough to make her blush and she found that she didn't mind he hadn't been able to warn her. As uncomfortable as she felt in this group, he felt like an ally of sorts in all this, and all before dinner she had gripped his arm tightly as they mingled with various groups.

It hadn't taken Colette long to notice that people were staring, but she made a distinct effort to smile at everyone she happened to make eye contact with, both previously and at the table now. A sharp pain had blossomed in her chest as more furtive glances were thrown her way. Colette just knew that even in London her past had followed her, and once again desperately felt the need to prove that she wasn't her mother.

At the very least, earlier Mrs. Ashbrook had seemed pleased. When Colette and her fiance had greeted her, the blonde gracefully curtsying beside Quinton, she felt his mother's eyes scan and pass over her. When she looked up again, Colette thought she had seen a brief flash of approval, and hoped that she hadn't merely imagined it out of desire to be validated.

Now, the woman carried the party well, easily talking to many throughout the dinner. Colette admired her poise, trying to echo Mrs. Ashbrook's seemingly effortless conversations. She and Quinton kept up small talk, but while their attention was elsewhere, she found herself politely speaking with members of the Enclave who only tried a little to hide their distinct curiosity toward the Cartwright daughter.

Part of her wanted to lean into Quinn and quietly ask when everyone would stop looking at her, musing that surely the novelty will have worn off by now, wondering how much longer they would think of her as her mother, but Colette knew quite well that others might hear, and didn't quite feel comfortable being so personal with her fiance yet.

In between conversations Quinton would catch her eyes, and with a steady gaze offer her some reassurance. Colette was grateful, but also aware that his attention was not fully on her, or even the others he was talking to. Every once in a while his eyes would flick to either his mother or to the servant, James. His fiance wanted to do more than return his small smiles, but did not know what she could do for him.

Similarly, Colette could feel that his sister's attention was split as well. Verity often looked to Quinton and his fiance, but was also watching James and Mrs. Ashbrook, whenever she wasn't talking to the attractive gentleman next to her. Unlike Quinn, however, politeness was not as easily seen on her face, and Colette marveled at the emotions that the sister expressed. One moment she was nervously glancing toward the doors the servant came through, another she was laughing loudly at something her male conversation partner had said.

"Forgive me, Mrs. Penwood, what were you saying?" Colette asked, breaking her attention from her surroundings to take a sip of water and reestablish herself with the older woman, who had apparently continued speaking while her audience of one had thought she was finished. The woman tutted her tongue disapprovingly, but launched again into her story.

A loud crash stopped all voices everywhere at the table, Mrs. Penwood included, and Colette was one of many when her head turned to find its cause. Colette shrinked away as the intoxicated man made his way towards them. His name was whispered across the table, and was one she recognized but could not remember for what exactly. Evidently, it wasn't good though.

The new guest reached for her fiance's glass, and she watched as their eyes caught for a moment, before he pressed his lips to Quinton's. It was only moment, a breath or two, but a dull roar rose in her ears and horror clouded her thoughts as cries of outrage echoed throughout the room. Her breath left her as her hand rose to her mouth, and unlike everyone else, not a sound escaped her as her eyes widened.

The one distinct thought she had in all the chaos was the sudden recollection of Lord Hale Brantley's reputation, the rumors that surrounded him and the gossip she heard. Impulsively, Colette reached for her fiance's hand, wanting to reclaim him as her own, but he had already stood to protest. At the same moment, she realized the impropriety of the motion, withdrew the hand that had paused briefly in midair, and placed it in her lap. Hands pressed firmly together, her nails dug into her skin with a dull sting.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The glass Verity had been holding, paused halfway in its path to her mouth, shattered in her hand as Lord Brantley kissed her brother. Luckily there hadn't been much champagne remaining in it, but the broken shards proved to be an issue as small cuts formed on palm.

"Oh, Miss Verity, are you all right?" the young man next to her exclaimed, but no one else heard or noticed. Verity herself was paying less attention than he was, while he tried to press a napkin to her hand to stop the bleeding, Verity could not break her gaze from Quinton. Her parabatai rune, right next to her heart, burned slightly against her fast heartbeat.

Finally, as Quinton rose to speak, Verity looked down. Lawrence Greymark, or Laurie as he had kindly told her to call him when they had met this evening had managed to completely stop the spread of scarlet across the napkin.

A year or two older than her, the son of an important Council member, he was intelligent and thoughtful and a pleasant person to chat with, and not bad looking either. Verity had greatly enjoyed talking to him throughout the evening. More so, he proved his worth now as his attention on her injured self sparked an idea in her mind as her brother trailed from what had started as an indignant protest and panic rose in her chest.

"Laurie, in fact, I don't feel well at all," Verity began, her voice carefully wavering as she reached out to briefly grip his arm before slowly standing from her chair. "Miss Verity?" He questioned, rising a second after her, concerned eyes following her every move. With two people standing now, surely someone would notice.

"Perhaps I should-" she stopped, feeling a few eyes glance her way in confusion. In this moment, every range of emotion she had ever felt played off as she summoned her tendency for the dramatic.

"So sorry, please excuse me, I-" she said softly, trying to move past before throwing herself down. Thankfully, Lawrence caught her just as she found the floor, saving her from the worst of the impact. She kept her eyes shut as she heard her new favorite person summon help from others, and hoped desperately that she had bought Quinton some time to collect himself, that maybe the distraction would divert attention.

At the sound of her name being called from several voices circling above her, Verity blinked her eyes open slowly. "Mother?" she questioned quietly, hoping the sound of an ill girl wishing for her mama would spark enough sympathy in their hearts to forget what had transpired, or better yet summon Mrs. Ashbrook to her as the Head of the Institute sent everyone away on account of her poor daughter.
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PostSubject: Re: An Arrangement   Mon Jul 25, 2016 12:06 am

Hale took another sip of champagne, the sparkling taste of the liquid mixing with the heady taste of the Shadowhunter’s kiss. That same Shadowhunter was currently going through a mix of emotions, from the appearance of his face, pale alabaster slowly blossoming with a light rose color. It was quite becoming.

Others in the company were experiencing some of the same emotions, specifically shock. They had politely added disgust to the list, something that slightly perturbed Hale. He had always assumed this bunch would be the least fun, most close-minded people in existence, and a majority of them seemed bent on proving his assumptions.

“What is this impropriety! Is this how dinner parties are conducted in these noble halls, Madam Ashbrook?!”
Hale looked to the speaker and bowed as elegantly as was possible in his condition, the reaction from it’s intended telling him that it was far from acceptable.

“By the Angel, sir. I don’t know w-who you are but you have absolutely-no right to… to…”
The soft, frazzled voice of the Shadowhunter he had kissed brought Hale back around to that particular person. The eyes that had so attracted him from the beginning were alive with excitement, as well as a fear that had Hale take a mental step back. Never one to seek to cause someone a negative emotion, unless they thoroughly deserved it, Hale would desist from following his desire in that corner, for the moment. However, his generally friendly manner would not be stamped out, even if Hale had wanted to.

“As I indicated earlier, the name’s Hale,” said Hale, bowing once again. “There’s usually something that preceeds and follows it, but, now that we have become familiar, just ‘Hale’ will suffice. Besides, if I say my full name again, the old bats here might all keel over collectively with the shock.”

As he spoke, a collective gasp flowed through the crowd and all eyes were momentarily diverted to a wildly beautiful young woman, collapsed most elegantly upon the floor. Hale shrugged as if to say I tried. He reached into his battered pockets and brought out a lone cigarette. Leaning over the elaborately laid table, he stuck the end of the cigarette into the flame from a candelabra and drew deeply from the other end. He then collapsed in the recently vacated chair next to the Shadowhunter and raised his feet to plant abruptly on the tablecloth.

“Now that you know my name, sir, propriety obliges you to give yours, if I’m remembering the rules properly,” Hale said, chuckling and indicated his current position. “Obviously, I’m not an avid follower.”


Geneva felt her fingers immediately twitch to the place where she would have usually kept a dagger or stele blade, had she been wearing gear. However, she was not currently facing a demon, but a quite intoxicated Shadowhunter, who had just interrupted a very important dinner party. The two situations seemed very similar to her at the moment. Clenching her fists instead, she tried to do as much damage control as she deemed possible, seeking to gather everyone away from the scene of the crime. Unfortunately, the ‘crime’ was still fresh in the minds of her guests, who were reluctant to be moved from such a spectacle. The image of Lord Brantley kissing her son was one that Geneva herself was having a hard time getting out of her head.

At that very moment, her daughter’s voice drifted to her, and Geneva was just in time to see her collapse onto the floor, followed quickly by the attentions of young Mr. Greymark. Geneva allowed a small sigh of relief to escape her mouth, seeing the crowd’s diverted attentions. She knew that the charade had not been performed for her benefit, but, at this moment, she was happy for it nonetheless. She had realized a few moments before that there was no way of repairing the night, that there was only to dismiss the guests and hope the scandal would fade away quickly. Now, at least, she had a somewhat veritable reason to dismiss her guests. They would know it for the farce it was, but it would be noted as a valiant effort. Rushing as elegantly as possible to kneel by her daughter’s side, Geneva touched her hand to Verity’s cheek, choosing to disregard the slight flinch that her touch had initiated in her daughter, as she acted the tender mother.

“Oh, my dear, the excitement must have been too much for you,” Geneva said, allowing the strain of the night to come through her voice, masquerading as motherly concern. She turned to the crowd surrounding them. “Please, forgive me, but I think I need to lend all my attentions to my daughter. I apologize most profusely if this has caused any of you any strife, but I will have my man call your carriages immediately.”

Geneva gestured to James to do as she had said and again to two footmen, who carefully guided Verity into a sitting position in an empty chair. A fan was summoned and a footman given the job of fanning Miss Ashbrook.

The guests mumbled and whispered quietly to themselves, shooting quick glances at Lord Brantley and her son, but eventually allowed themselves to be shepherded into the entrance hall and out into their waiting carriages.

James, Fiona right beside him, silently closed the door after the last guest, both servants looking at Geneva with caution. They thought her likely to strike out, and they would be right. But, her target was not presently either of them. Turning around, she stalked back into the dining room, the table a mess of interrupted dinner. Her eyes quickly found the target of her anger and hatred.

“Who in the hell are you, who dares to come into my home and destroy everything in your wake? And, I don’t mean your name, for you bestowed that worm of information on us already. I am referring to your purpose, other than ruining all that I have worked so hard for. Be swift in your response, sir, or I will find myself quite at a loss to restrain any thought of leaving you in the deepest, darkest hell that I can summon up.”
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PostSubject: Re: An Arrangement   Mon Jul 25, 2016 9:29 pm

“As I indicated earlier, the name’s Hale,” The man said, giving a graceful if not slightly wobbly bow due to his current state of intoxication. “There’s usually something that precedes and follows it, but, now that we have become familiar, just ‘Hale’ will suffice. Besides, if I say my full name again, the old bats here might all keel over collectively with the shock.”

Quinn opened his mouth once or twice before snapping it shut again as he tried to form a coherent thought amongst the madness, unable to pull his gaze away from the light brown eyes that shone almost like amber in the candlelight.

“I heard what you said, Lord Brantley,” Quinn finally said, his voice low and as steady as he figured he was capable of keeping it at the moment as he used the mans title as a shield from the impropriety of the situation.

“But your name doesn’t give you the right to-” His sisters voice from across the table finally allowed him to look away from Lord Brantley just in time to catch Verity throw herself towards the floor. In that particular moment, he couldn't remember a time he had appreciated his twin more.

Almost everyone reacted as expected, rushing to the young ladys side, including, to his shock, their mother. Genevas performance was almost as convincing as Veritys and under any other circumstances, Quinn would have found himself impressed but watching his mother fain concern over her daughters well being only served to send an icy chill down his spine. Genevas participation in drawing the crowds eyes away from him could only mean that this situation was far worse than his brain had previously been able to process.

“Now that you know my name, sir, propriety obliges you to give yours, if I’m remembering the rules properly, obviously, I’m not an avid follower.”
Once again, Quinn found his gaze settled upon the other man, whos feet were now comfortably propped up on his mothers hundred year old silk linen.

“Quinn.” He heard himself speak before straightening himself and doing his best to harden his voice.
“I mean… Quinton. Ashbrook. Mr. Ashbrook to you, I think.” The unwanted tickle of embarrassment began to color his cheeks once more, causing him to tear his gaze away again in an attempt to maintain any amount of propriety he had left at the moment.

This time, it was his mothers voice that allowed him to detach his attention from the alarmingly uncouth Lord as the woman used her most convincing apologetic tone to all but demand the guests get as far away from the Institute as possible. Jamie, blessedly regained his composure at Genevas words, jumping into action as he rushed to open the dining room door, bowing his head politely as he showed the other Nephilim the way out.

It was the clips of conversation Quinn could hear being whispered as they all filed out of the room that reminded him of the young lady seated beside him. His fiance’ whom he hadn’t acknowledged once during the chaos. Making sure their were still eyes glancing their way, he quickly turned his back to Lord Brantley to focus his attention to Colette as fully as his scattered brain could manage.

“My dear, I don’t even know how to begin to apologize for this… this...” He couldn’t seem to find the right word to describe what had just happened so he let the sentence trail off, kneeling beside her chair and daring to take the young ladies small, cold hands into his own.

“Miss. Cartwright, I swear I will make this up to you if you can find it in yourself to not flee from the Institute and from me in the dark of night. I swear it.” Catching her gaze and seeing the confusion dance behind her silvery eyes, he offered her the most genuine smile he could manage, trying to convey all the emotions he couldn’t find words for. He knew the closeness wasn’t exactly proper, but in the aftermath of what had just occurred, he assumed that attempting to reassure his future wife could be looked at as an innocent gesture.


“Who in the hell are you, who dares to come into my home and destroy everything in your wake? And, I don’t mean your name, for you bestowed that worm of information on us already. I am referring to your purpose, other than ruining all that I have worked so hard for. Be swift in your response, sir, or I will find myself quite at a loss to restrain any thought of leaving you in the deepest, darkest hell that I can summon up.”

The ferocity in his mothers voice made Quinn jump back to his feet, his brain making the assumption that she had to be speaking to him, until his gaze followed her line of fire to the unconcerned Lord who still sat with his feet on the table, smoking his cigarette as if enjoying a quiet afternoon in his own parlor instead of sitting in the middle of a cataclysmic event that he had caused.

Quinn had expected that the other man would have left with the dinner party, hopefully satisfied with the possibly life ruining scandal he had created in all of five minutes but there he sat, in all of his confident, intoxicated glory, completely unphased by the wrath he had brought upon himself. Quinn refused to admit that a part of him felt a spark of excitement at knowing Lord Brantley hadn’t gone.

Though the mans remaining presence had put him in the most awkward of positions, standing directly between him and the woman who at this moment wanted nothing more than to end the lord's life, slowly and painfully. Quinn knew that despite her blood lust, the most Geneva could do was remove the unwanted shadowhunter from the institute, with force if need be and again, for reasons he refused to look too closely at, the thought of never seeing Lord Brantley again left him with a tightness in his chest that he couldn’t explain.

“Mother, it is most regrettable that your lovely evening had to end early but we are in fact still Shadowhunters and live with the promise that things cannot always go according to plan.” Quinn spoke with a firmness he didn’t know he had the ability to conjure, cutting off whatever reply the Lord was ready to give, not wanting to give the man a chance to make his situation worse.

“As the family that maintains the Institute, it is our duty to help or house any Nephilim that is in peril or otherwise… Impaired…” He said the last word with a side glance at the intoxicated man seated behind him, watching the exchange with amusement.

“It is late and the evening's events have taken their toll on the young women, surely we don’t want to upset Verity or Miss. Cartwright further. Perhaps this conversation would be best left for the morning after we’ve all had time to rest.” Quinn knew he was playing with fire by standing in the path of his mothers rage, though he resolved that when reprimanded about it later, he would say he was only doing what he thought was suitable as future head of the Institute, possibly adding that it is what he felt Father would have done to help extinguish at least the smallest part of Genevas flame.

~~~~

Having finally dragged the last of his Lords excessive number of trunks into the entryway, Edward had felt as if he had done quite enough work for the day. Wiping the beads of sweat that had begun to form at his hairline away with the back of his hand, he couldn’t help but silently curse the Nephilim for their ability to do anything without so much as losing their breath. At this point in Hales service, he had personally witnessed the mans unreasonable stamina in… many ways.

At the forefront of his thoughts at the moment though was the older mans lack of a limit in which he ceased his intake of alcohol. It had only taken the young valet twice to accept that he would never be able to pace his lord cup for cup when drinking as he had valiantly tried to at first. After the unfortunate consequences after each incident he was able to rationalise that one per every five Hale would consume would leave him at the appropriate level of inebriation to enjoy everything that came from being at the side of a drunken Lord Brantley.

Crossing the threshold into the massive building, without bothering to shut the door behind him, failed to leave him impressed. It was huge, yes and obviously ancient but something about the place made Edwards skin crawl, it was cold and distant compared to Hale’s household that he had grown to think of as home.

Walking passed the luggage, the valet hardly spared the tiny redheaded maid a glance as he spoke.

“I’ll leave it to you to see that Lord Brantley's things are placed in the most suitable room available.” His voice was cold with the special, uninterested tone he reserved for ‘the help’ as he moved passed her, not waiting for the maid to say anything in return.

As he walked closer to the door he had seen Hale disappear into a few moments before, the familiar sound of chaos that generally followed upon his lord's arrival echoed from under the heavy wooden doors that he could only assume entered into the dining room, but before he could welcome himself in, the doors burst open as a flood of people washed out.

The group were obviously Nephilim, but what was interesting was the array of emotions that spread across the group, everything from outright fury to absolute disgust to amused smirks. There were whispers and snickering and Edward caught bits of conversation as they passed, some of them talking about ‘that Brantley boy’.

“I believe the name you are looking for is LORD Brantley.” He spat at the couple nearest him. Leave it to shadowhunters to refuse to use an earned title just to make themselves feel better.

The whispers were nothing new to the young valet, his Lord made a scene everywhere they went and Edward quite enjoyed it, but it was the other snippets of conspiratorial conversation that tugged the corners of his lips into a frown.
‘Kiss’, ‘Of course the engagement was a farce’, ‘Can’t believe the impropriety’.’Ashbrook and Brantley, it’s not surprising.’

Edward knew of his Lords… promiscuity but he surely wouldn’t have brought them to a place where he had a current lover without even a word… The fact that he couldn’t even tell himself that without his chest tightening with insecurity told him all he needed to know.

When the pack of gossiping vultures made their way to the door, flanked by the maid and a redheaded footman, Edward pushed his way into the dining room with a new purpose. He wasn’t exactly sure what he had been expecting to walk in on, having witnessed many things he would have never imagined during his short time in Hale’s service but the scene seemed relatively normal despite the flurry of excitement and rage that had passed by him in the crowd.

With a quick count, he noted there were five in the room, including Hale, not including the footmen who were fawning over an attractive young woman propped up in a chair. There was an older woman standing just inside the doors whose anger pulsed off of her in tangible waves, obviously affecting the other strangers in the room, a dainty blonde still seated politely at the mostly abandoned dining table, a disgustingly handsome shadowhunter standing up and then there was Hale.

He was seated comfortably at a spot that obviously hadn't been meant for him, with his feet up and smoking what Edward knew to be the last cigarette the pair had saved from their productive day of indulgence. He was as beautiful as ever, watching the interaction between these strangers, or at least who Edward considered to be strangers, with an excited amusement, obviously pleased with whatever it was he had done.

“I was expecting to walk into a most thrilling scene and yet, nothing is on fire and no one has been unclothed. I’m quite disappointed in you, Lord Brantley.” His voice was teasing as he made sure his Lords eyes locked onto his, if only for a moment. He needed to know that Hale acknowledged him, that the stares he was getting from the strangers meant nothing as long as he could feel the approving gaze of those familiar brown eyes.
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PostSubject: Re: An Arrangement   Mon Jul 25, 2016 11:12 pm

Verity gazed at her mother through her eyelashes, casting a blur onto the entire scene. Geneva's voice was as clear as day though as she sent the guests away, and her daughter marveled at well her acting had actually worked.

The result was exactly what she wanted, but having her mother so close was proving to be difficult. Inches away, to anyone else the response would have seemed concerned and caring, but Verity could imagine her mother's calculating thoughts, and then with mild surprise realized that she herself had been the one to start this manipulation. She always told herself she was nothing like her mother, but in light of what had just happened, some doubt crept into her thoughts. With this, as Geneva's hand brushed her cheek, Verity flinched.

Suddenly, she was being lifted and guided to a chair, and happy to be able to observe what was happening again, she sat without a word. Her lips formed a thin line as Verity desperately tried to make eye contact with her twin. Her heart cried for this mess of a night to disappear from his life, and she wanted to ask without words if he were okay, if only he would look at her.

Unfortunately, his attention was rightfully tuned to his fiance, the poor girl who had asked for none of this and whose eyes had taken on a glazed appearance.

A chill entered the room as Geneva began to speak, having everything to do with the hard, ferocious ice in her voice. In that moment Verity waved the footman who was fanning her away, if only to save whatever warmth was left for her. With the guests gone she felt no need to keep up her act, and sat up straight in her chair with an "I'm fine now, thank you," to once again dismiss the servant who remained hovering near her out of fear of disobeying her mother. He remained still, and Verity was left with no choice but to ignore him and his shock at her sudden recovery.

Although Verity despised their new guest for the strife he caused her twin, with conflict she admired his complete unabashed disregard for the rules. It was a way she often wished she could act, but love for Quinton and fear of making anything worse kept her from completely derailing.

Verity was quite unsure of what she wanted to happen, still confused by Lord Brantley's actions, still violently opposed to her mother, and yet entirely torn. However, once Quinton spoke, she was able to take her rightful role in supporting him, and practically breathed a sigh of relief as her side was chosen for her.

The direct disagreement her brother showed shocked Verity, as it was usually her position, not his, but she was happy to be second in this as it still involved a difference of opinion to Geneva's in general. Directly across the table from Quinton now, their mother remaining at the head, Verity looked away from her twin to her mother.

Her mother's mouth ready with a retort, Verity quickly interjected. "Mother, I must agree with Quinton. Father would surely say that this man is in no state to turn away."

Improper as the words were, Verity always relished in being able to bring up her dearly missed father in defense against her mother. Rarely did it fair well for her alone, but maybe in agreement with her brother, who Geneva clearly favored, it would be overlooked, even if the defense wasn't done behind closed doors.

“I was expecting to walk into a most thrilling scene and yet, nothing is on fire and no one has been unclothed. I’m quite disappointed in you, Lord Brantley.” a new voice sounded, and Verity whipped her head to find its source. The arrival's gaze had already passed over her and the others, and now firmly settled on Lord Brantley.

"By the Angel," Verity exclaimed, exasperated and unable to control herself. Just when it seemed they might be able to leave the night with nothing more done, given if their mother would openly concede to the twins even if she privately scolded them later, this happened.

"The thrill actually happened several minutes ago, it's a damn shame you missed it," Verity continued, before folding her arms across her chest. She couldn't even bring herself to regret her words, silently huffing at all the newness that surrounded them. Too many things had happened, too much excitement, and although Verity was rarely one to actually faint, she hated the beginnings feelings of being overwhelmed and more importantly, could not stand to not be in control of a situation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The guests gone, Verity returned from the floor, Colette could only blink at everything happening around her. In one sharp moment she realized she did not belong here at all, and desperately ached for her quiet, country home in France, where there was no excitement and nothing to alarm her other than demon fighting, that which she could handle, having done so all her life.

Of course, Colette heard the whispers as the important Shadowhunters left, and was amazed that even now, having no involvement whatsoever other than being an unfortunate witness, her mother's name was tied to her own. However, in an unlikely turn of events for her, it was not the focus. Instead, most were tied to either the scandal that was Lord Brantley, or the sham of an engagement she had entered.

Worry trickled into her heart at the idea of this all being an act. She had been concerned earlier that she might not be enough, not that there wasn't a reason to try. The two may not know each other well yet, but Quinton seemed to be willing to make an effort. Colette had heard horror stories of course of arranged marriages, but this had not seemed like the beginning of a sad tale, until now.

As if he could hear her thoughts, Quinn ceased conversation with their new arrival and turned to her, taking her hands into his own. This was a small comfort, and his words were reassuring, but the smile felt out of place and her heart was still fearful.

Still, in all the impropriety of the evening a broken engagement was more improper still, and not something her family name could withstand. She told herself that despite everything, Quinton had technically done no wrong here, and swallowed hard to remove the lump from her throat.

"I'm not going anywhere," Colette said softly, squeezing his hands in return and trying to block out everything around but her attentive fiance kneeling before her.

The moment was broken with the harsh voice of Mrs. Ashbrook, demanding the properness that Colette herself also craved, but invoking so much conflict into the air that the blonde withdrew into herself as Quinton left her, and a much calmer hell broke loose.
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PostSubject: Re: An Arrangement   Wed Jul 27, 2016 1:52 am

“Mother, it is most regrettable that your lovely evening had to end early, but we are in fact still Shadowhunters and live with the promise that things cannot always go according to plan. As the family that maintains the Institute, it is our duty to help or house any Nephilim that is in peril or otherwise…impaired… It is late and the evening's events have taken their toll on the young women, surely we don’t want to upset Verity or Miss. Cartwright further. Perhaps this conversation would be best left for the morning after we’ve all had time to rest.”

Geneva’s temper had been at it’s very peak at the beginning of her son’s speech. However, the spark had gone out of the fire behind her eyes by its end. The night was ruined. Scandal had been allowed to further blacken the family name. And, it seemed that the very scandal would now be forced upon her as a charge of the Institute. Strong as she was, Geneva no longer saw purpose in maintaining an air of authority. The sigh of the last few hours of stress escaping her soul came out in a soft breath.

“As you seem so keen on standing up for the man, Quinton, I will trust you to show him his place,” Geneva said, her voice completely even, devoid of any emotion. “I wash my hands of this evening.”

Without another glance to either of her children, Colette, or Lord Brantley, Geneva turned out into the entranceway, up the stairs, and closed herself into her bedchamber. A good player knows when to admit defeat, she thought, as she took the pins from her hair, closing her eyes in momentary relief. Thankfully, this was just a preliminary game. The Institute was still hers. Playing the long-game was tiring and dispiriting, but the victory was one that she could not afford to miss out on.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The woman’s anger was as annoying as a persistent, buzzing fly and just as inconsequential. He watched her with amused deference, drawing on the slowly shrinking length of his cigarette. His confidence was not backed this time by his general belief in his permanent rightness in all things. Every true deviant knew that the key to ultimate dominion of authority was to know the rules better than they did. Hale knew that the woman, as the Head of the Institute, was bound by the Angel to given him shelter and nourishment, being the poor Shadowhunter that he was. Still, he liked seeing young, Quinton Ashbrook standing up for him. People rarely felt the need to. He found it sweet. His mother, however, didn’t seem as touched, as she made her exit.

“That was a very heroic defense, my dear Mr. Ashbrook,” Hale said, putting out his cigarette on a conveniently placed dinner role. “I find my spirits much improved to know that you will be my guide instead of your lovely mother. I fear I would not last long under such a stare and such eloquently spoken threats.”

Hale raised himself from his previous lounging position, feeling the effects of the evenings alcohol leaving him and, with it, his spritely energy. He was just about to suggest a tour to his new, and probably much blander, bedchamber, when Edward found his way to the dining room.

“I promise, the fault lies not with the artist, darling Edward, but with the canvas,” Hale said, eyeing the drab dining room, and then focusing back on Quinton with a quiet intensity. “However, the paints are quite full of promise. Let’s call it a work in progress.”

As quickly as it had come on, the intensity was off again, leaving a yawning and stretching Lord, in the midst of a very befuddled audience.

“My valet and I would benefit greatly upon being shown a room, if you would be so kind, Mr. Ashbrook.”
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