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Lord Henry Grey Can't Hang

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HGrey ((This is a collaboration between the players of Lord Henry Grey, Lady Kendra Fortune,and Mr. Jamie MacTavish))

The sound of laughter pouring out of Mrs. Hatch’s parlor stills Lord Henry Grey’s hand on the front door. In the hope of seeing a certain young lady, he had intended to spend a quiet hour reading his newspaper in that parlor.

Shifting to look through the front window reveals the laughter’s source. Lady Fortune sits on the bright red sofa in her deeper toned walking coat. In front of her stands a man in a kilt with hair closer to copper than blonde. “She certainly has a type,” mutters Lord Grey.

He can just barely hear the man tell her in a heavy Scottish accent that he would be sleeping in a new home tonight before they both break out into another round of rowdy laughter. With a fortifying breath, Lord Grey pulls the door open and walks, as slowly as possible, the few steps to the parlor. Even in the hall, the air is thick with the smell of brandy and it reminds him of a night years ago with his older brother. His stomach lurches in preemptive protest.

He hesitates in the doorway, unnoticed, as Lady Fortune uses a chair to step on to the tea table. “Did I ever tell you that I am skilled at dancing atop tables?” She shuffles her feet between tea cups until the sound of Lord Grey clearing his throat brings the table, it’s contents, and Lady Fortune crashing down. Startled awake, Mrs Hatch gives a small shriek at the state of her tea service. She rights the table, returns what is unbroken, and admonishes Lady Fortune to have a care as she gathers porcelain shards into a napkin.

“Oh! Lord Grey, you surprised me! Would you care to join us in a brandy?” asks Lady Fortune as she is helped from the floor by the other gentleman and gives a very wobbly curtsy. Then, seemingly unsure if she had already completed the task or simply intended to, curtsies again. “Have you met my Jam… Um, my /friend/ Mr. MacTavish?” Mr. MacTavish bows and behind him, Lady Fortune dips into a third and then fourth curtsy.

“Erm...I have not. How do you do, Mr. MacTavish? I believe I have already had the opportunity to be introduced to your sister.” Lord Grey offers a nod of his head, but his jaw clenches at the thought of the impertinent Miss MacTavish.

This brings on another burst of giggles from Lady Fortune. “Oh, you’ve met Clara alright!” She pitches closer to Lord Grey before pivoting back to Mr. MacTavish and in a whisper far too loud to be discreet, “/He/ is the one Euston said uses /mercury/!” They dissolve into giggles.

Lord Grey inhales sharply and rolls his eyes to the ceiling. He had promised himself that he would make an effort to be friendly with these two specifically. Mr. MacTavish pulls himself up slightly, bitting his lip hard in order to hold back his grin and failing. “A lovely lass! We have another sister as well! Her twin no less! Identical if ye must ken!”

Lord Grey, unsure of how to respond as he had not asked and definitely did not need to ken, nodded, “I see... and does this twin also reside in Oakston?”

But Mr. MacTavish has not waited for a reply and instead leaned close to Lady Fortune. “But did Euston say to ye /why/ he uses the mercury?”

Lady Fortune leaning heavily on the arm of Mr. MacTavish, “No, but we can guess at the implication...” Catching Lord Grey’s eye, “not that it is true.”

Already half laughing, Mr. MacTavish grins at Lord Grey, “She does not live here, but she is in town at the moment. I doubt Eliza would ever ask ye about ye mercury use, Lord Grey.”

Lord Grey exhales loudly and mentally counts to ten. He had met Hamilcar Euston for only a few seconds in passing before the man began slandering him to anyone who would hear, inventing an illness and supporting the claim with an equally false connection to his own son. Then, a few days later, Miss Clara MacTavish, having heard the rumor, had mortified herself and Lord Grey by bluntly confronting him about his supposed syphilis. The two had not been comfortable in a room together since.

Lady Fortune smiles coyly, “Are you sure you would not like a brandy, my lord?”

He retorts sharply, “No, thank you.”

“Well, I think I shall have another.” Nonplussed, she swivels to return to the table, but instead collides with Mr. MacTavish. Laughing, Lady Fortune attempts to pour a glass for each of them, spilling nearly an equal amount on the table. She dabs at the mess ineffectively with Mrs. Hatch’s handkerchief and then notices that Mr. MacTavish has already refilled his own cup. Downing the extra drink she shrugs, “Waste not!” They salute each other, “Slainte!”

Lord Grey sighs again and moves away to the far window to watch the lane. He wonders what Miss Miriam Hampton sees in these people or even this place. Turning back to the room, he grips his hands behind his back and renews his resolve to wait for her here and tolerate her inebriated friends.

Mr. MacTavish pours two more drinks and smirks as he holds one out to Lord Grey, “Aye ye sure we canna tempt ye, Lord Grey?”

Lady Fortune snatches the offered drink for herself. She has lost count of which this one is. Her fifth? Sixth? “It is good! My brother imports it!” She frowns slightly, was she supposed to say that publicly? Mr. MacTavish hiccups and covers his mouth in surprise. He blinks at his glass a few times before shrugging and filling it again.

Muttering, “Christ!” Lord Grey turns back to the window. He does not notice when Lady Fortune maneuvers herself to fit snuggly at his elbow.

“Are you waiting for someone, my lord?” she asks with a knowing smile, her breath laden with alcohol.

He jumps and grimaces at the scent. His eyes dart around for the best path around her to provide an appropriate distance and he settles for a half step closer to the sofa before answering, “Y..erm, no.”

Stepping closer yet, she asks, “Well which is it? Yes or no?” Mr. MacTavish snickers. Lady Fortune peers out the window, “Is it Miriam?”

Mr. MacTavish perks up again, “Miss Hampton? Lord Grey, ye sly dog!”

Lord Grey stiffens his back. “Are you... expecting Miss Hampton to join you in the parlor today?”

Mr. MacTavish gives a knowing grin, “No, but it seems /ye/ are, ye ken.”

Lady Fortune giggles and wobbles even closer to Lord Grey, stumbling on the toe of his boot and pressing towards him. Mr. MacTavish’s grin falls from his face as he goes first pale and then red with anger imagining Lady Fortune to be interested in Lord Grey. Lord Grey shuffles again to the left, but is pinned between the arm of the sofa and the flushed Lady Fortune. He hops over the arm and Lady Fortune giggles. “Are you dancing an Irish jig, my lord?”

Mr. MacTavish lunges towards them, but stumbles against the sofa and lands heavily on the cushions.

“Well! That was very rude! I was just being /friendly/!” huffs Lady Fortune.

Lord Grey looks between the two awkwardly. He cannot tell if she thinks he was rude for not standing still to be pressed against like a cat on a pant leg or if MacTavish is the rude one for trying to interrupt. “I apologize if I have offended you, madam.”

“Aye! It is verra impolite to be rude tae a lady!” mumbles Mr. MacTavish into his chest.

“Not at all, not at all,” demurs Lady Fortune as she focuses all her energy on strutting back to the table. Mr. MacTavish smirks while appreciating her efforts. She smiles over her shoulder. “Miriam was here earlier. You must have missed her, my lord. She did say she should be back, I think.” She pours out the last of the brandy and attempts to sit next to Mr. MacTavish on the sofa. She misjudges and sit half on his lap, half off.

Lord Grey decides he cannot stand to remain in the room another minute. With an abrupt bow he turns on his heel and strides from the room as Mr. MacTavish howls with laughter.
Posted 2 weeks ago

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