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Josephine Cadwgan

[1838/1839][EN]Putting the 'free' back in 'freefall'

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Friday the 5th of October

At a theatre that doesn’t belong to any of the Cadwgans, for Muggles, in Oxford

 

“Christa!” Josephine flitted over to her former friend and kissed her on the cheeks most happily. Seeing Christabella on the one hand she was taken back to when she was still at Hogwarts, when they were still interacting, when she was not yet married – because Christabella had actually dropped out of school and therefore been unsuitable to perform the bridesmaid function that Josephine had had in mind for her. She’d also been unsuitable company after that, Josephine was well aware, and thus they had rather lost touch, although Josie had sent Christmas cards. What? She sent Christmas cards to the house-elf. She sent Christmas cards to the employees of her favourite gown store. Christmas cards were below acquaintance and had no impact whatsoever on social standing.

 

Anyhoo.

 

She would probably never have seen, or at least never have acknowledged Christa in public again and that would have been no hardship because they had been close but not that close and Josie was capable of letting most things in life go. That tended to be demanded of her, because as a woman you made your life always subject to that of your husband’s. The only thing you couldn’t let go was your children and said husband. Well, look how well that had turned out.

 

But nowadays at least Christabella might not be appropriate company but neither was Josephine and thus she had reached out to her and invited her to a play, a play she had scouted for zero murder. She wanted love story and no gore or drama. It felt massive. She was a fallen woman, choosing her own fallen company. And taking it out for a night of drinking and light-hearted chatter. “How’ve you been? You look splendid. Come on in, come on in, I got us good spots…” And she had bribed a waiter to keep their glasses filled all night.

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It wasn't until Christa was supposed to dress for muggle fit company, that she realized how many of her dresses were magic. She loved magic dresses, the ones that changed colours depending on the light, or that had a pattern that would subtly change over time, like her current favourite gown, which was forest green and had sown on deers, darting through the trees. But no, she had to wear something that wouldn't change, that had no magical element whatsoever (well, one you could see) and, most of all, that was... proper. 

 

Muggle fashion and wizard fashion were already miles apart, but wizard prostitute fashion and muggle proper young lady fashion were definitely on other planets. But ah well, she had finally managed, buying a beautiful red dress that only smelled a little bit of roses each time you twirled, but if she sat as still as possible, it would surely work! 

 

And besides, meeting Josephine was worth it. Poor girl! Christa had read everything about it in the gossip columns, because of course she had, but a first-hand source was always better, of course? "Thank you, thank you!" she laughed back and excitedly kissed Josephine back on the cheeks. "Don't you love this dress? It's gorgeous, isn't it?" She lovingly smoothed the silk down. "Oh, this truly is lovely!" She glanced around the theatre, delighted that it wasn't as dark as she had worried it would be. Poor muggles and their candles, who couldn't even float.

 

"I must say, you look even better than I do," Christa awarded her friend with a compliment. "Losing an anchor does great things for your complexion." 

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Yeah, sorry, Christa, but Josephine no longer wished to spend her time in the wizarding world. She felt unsafe there, and unhappy, always with all eyes on her and none of those eyes were friendly. Some wanted to stare at her for the purposes of ordinary gossip but she was more concerned about the others, those that she felt might want to impose on her. Might have designs on her child. She was not sure where the feeling came from, could not explain it rationally, but rationality was overrated to a mother with concern. She traced it back to those days with Keane in his moods in Cadwgan castle. Him picking up her wand and pointing it. At her and at Owen. Ever since then, she had not been able to relax. She’d left Owen with the Auror today, though. It pained her but he would be safer there than he was with her, she’d never been great at duelling, and he had promised her not to let Keane in if he ever showed.

 

She’d needed a night off. A night to herself. Desperately, a night to feel human.


And she would amply compensate her friend for taking the trouble of meeting her here. “It is marvellous,” she agreed, because she suddenly recalled that complimenting Christa on her looks one must be detailed, specific and at length. “So inspired. Subtlety really is overrated, isn’t it.” They were guided to their seats and presented with their drinks. “And yes… it does wonders for your posture, too.” She grinned. “No more…” She made the bobbly head impression that befitted a wife of a Lord in her present opinion. “And, what have you been doing to look so good by now?”

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Christa was an easy laugher. Even at Hogwarts she naturally had a bright smile on her face, but Hogwarts had still seen her sour teenager moments. Hogwarts had seen her frowns of concentration of exams, her bitter tears when she was rejected, her deep sighs of boredom. Now, she showed almost none of those emotions on a daily basis. Often just her smile, from small and flirty to bright and beautiful, but she loved this life, loved everything about her, and she had learned how to laugh and how to smile, until she perfected it like a mask, a weapon and her heart. 

 

So she laughed, when Josephine made fun of Keane. A bit loud, but the right kind of loud, the exhilarated loud you got when you didn't care about the world, because the world had let you down and you were just happy despite it all. "Oh, you're so much better off," she winked at her friend. 

 

Oh, well... What Christa had been doing... "Oh, you know," she said, with an unfazed smile. "A little this and that. I made some friends." Who paid her rather handsomely to spend the night with her. Or a few hours of the night. "I was lucky." Very lucky... not a lot of girls could do what she did and make a decent living of it too. 

 

She took a sip from the champagne, decent enough, and glanced around. "So, no friends or acquaintances here?" 

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Better off. She was better off. So much better off, even. “I know, aren’t I,” Josephine laughed heartily because this was good, this was excellent. Christabella was the first person who had ever expressed a like sentiment about Josephine’s current plight. Some people whispered about her angrily, thought she over it all to herself. Some people were terrified of what to say to her. Most people pitied her most sincerely... from a safe distance. Because she was a fallen woman, after all, even if it wasn’t her fault. Christa was the first to suggest that her life might have improved as a consequence of Keane’s folly. And of course it hadn’t - she had been ousted, she could no longer see her family (and as a consequence, save for Clementine, she no longer really wanted to), the father of her son was a crazy person she never wanted near him and for someone like Josephine the shame of it all was nearly crippling. And yet, there was something intoxicating about those words, about the way Christa said them. Better off. That was what she wanted to be. 

 

For tonight, she would pretend. 

 

She laughed, curiously, looked at the other over the rim of her glass. “What, no juicy details?” she asked, more forward than she would usually have been, but now she was fallen, now she was better off and she intended to make the most of every morsel of liberty that she had involuntarily purchased at such a very steep price. “Come on - my life’s all over page six of Witches’ Weekly, share and share alike. I won’t judge.” She grinned. “And, no. Most of my friends and acquaintances have abandoned their posts by now. You’d think marital trouble was contagious.” And it had left her feeling empty and lost. “Maybe it is, maybe I can go around blackmailing brides to stay away from now on. Like a ghost.” Oh, would you look at that. Liberated Josephine had quite the fantasy going. She hadn’t even had enough wine to excuse it by far. “But I’m glad you’ve been well, Christa. If you ever need anything...”

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See, Christa was almost certain that Josephine was very aware of what Christa did for a living, you would have a difficult time finding anyone who wasn't up to date, but she also knew that Josephine could be a bit... naive, perhaps, and she didn't want to destroy their fun by dropping a social bomb, for all its intents and purposes. Josephine needed a nice night out and Christa liked her. "Well, in my business, you quickly learn to mistrust the gossip columns," Christa laughed, trying to still skirt around the topic a little. "The biggest secrets almost never really end up in the papers and the rest is just hogwash. Some people are really good at pretending to be innocent in public." Demure, she plucked off a little bit of dust from her skirts. "Besides, two weeks from now, there'll be a new scandal." And Josephine would become the 'I wonder what ever happened to her' girl, which was even sadder. Christa would rather stay in the spotlight, in a bad way or not. 

 

"Ah, only contagious in the sense that most marriages are on the verge of falling apart," Christa grinned wickedly. "Who has been meanest to you? I'm sure I can tell a thing or two about their husbands." She'd have an entire list if Josephine needed it... "Oh, you're so sweet!" Gently, she touched Josephine's arm. "I'll definitely let you know. And you too with me, of course?" They could have lovely evenings like this more often. 

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Josephine blushed to the very depths of her being as she pictured Timothy Belfrey in stockings, but it was a feeling of immense relief at the same time, she wanted to laugh and she wanted to giggle and she didn’t have to refrain from that because a scandalous aside of humoristic knowledge wasn’t going to do her any damage anymore. She didn’t have to stay clean and cautious. She was the mother of a potential bastard, the discarded bit of good breeding by an aristocratic playboy and she was ruined. In her ruination, she found at least her release. “Oh gosh… No, well I can’t blame him. Anne only married him because she wanted to be married before her younger sister and he was easy.” She smiled viciously. “The younger sister is prettier and cuter in every way, so you know, she had to resort to quite drastic measures.” And she still hadn’t done as well, she’d married up but not that up and she was aware of it every day. And Josephine had been nice about it, but that was over now. She never had to be nice about anything again.

 

Of course, she proceeded to immediately be nice, but that was by choice. “That would be lovely!” she agreed happily. “I didn’t know you had a little brother. What’s he like? What’s his name?” She liked kids, okay.


She thought she liked kids.

 

She’d always had to like kids.


Oh, God.

 

“Mm…” She hadn’t thought about blackmail, actually. “Just publish snippets at a time. Cause a bit of a stir.” She smiled, looked at the actors for a second and took a new glass of wine for both of them, touching Christa’s hand as she passed her hers. “Make them feel less high and mighty. I mean, that must annoy you, too, right?” The whole ‘you’re just here for my convenience’ attitude, the ridiculous notion that they enjoyed it all…

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Yes, Christa imagined he would be easy, if he was that desperate to find a wife before anyone had a closer look at his bedroom closet. "Perhaps he said yes to her so he could always take her stockings," Christa giggled. "They do have the same size." She never wanted a partner that would share clothes with her, in all honesty. They were her clothes, thank you very much, and she took lovely care for them. Whenever she had someone in her bed that liked to wear whatever she had, she had a specific little wardrobe set aside with some uglier things she would never be seen in. Not that she had a lot of use for it... But still, one must be sure. 

 

"Adrian," she beamed at Josephine. "Oh, he's so adorable... Wait, I have a picture!" She quickly dug through her purse, until she found the picture in a wallet she almost never used. "Look, isn't he lovely?" she said, showing Josephine the moving photo. "He has my eyes! Well, my mother's eyes, of course." Blah, blah. Sometimes it was a tough charade to keep up, but she wasn't just going to give up. She didn't want anyone to know she had once been massive and fat and abandoned, no, she had to be charming and lovely and unburdened. She wanted to be that, at least. 

 

No blackmail, fine, whatever. Blackmail seemed like an awful lot of work too, having to keep up with what you told who... No, causing a stir was much better. "That is a wonderful idea," she grinned, happily taking her new wine. "Oh yes." There had been a few people who had looked down on her, and still did, and oh, she couldn't wait to stomp them into the ground. "To wonderful ideas," she toasted Josephine, clinking her glass against hers. "And gossip." 

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“Oh, he’s the cutest little thing.” She admired the picture, yet caught on to Christa’s little mistake in any case. It was surprising, she was not usually quick to spot those kinds of things. Most everything with Keane had always gone over her head. Such as the other wife, you know. The other baby. Would this be Christa’s child? He seemed about the age that would fit with her friend having dropped out of school… yes, he was close to Owens age, a bit older. But Christa wasn’t saying it and she didn’t want to make her feel uncomfortable. Tonight, they both got to enjoy being what they wanted to be. Reality didn’t need to bother either of them right now. “I have a recent picture of Owen, too, here…” She showed her friend her necklace, a locket which kept updating her favorite pictures of her son. “Would you like one of these for your Adrian pictures as well? I can have one made…” She had the money anyway. She’d like to spend it on a friend.

 

She laughed, clinked her glass. “Cheers. To blonde disasters.” She’d had a bit already and her tolerance had been lower since Owen, but she didn’t care, that was another part of reality she didn’t need right now. “Who do you want to start with? Who’s pissed you off the most?”

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Wasn't he just? Christa beamed with pride, she loved getting compliments about her beautiful boy, even if she didn't publicly announce him as hers. Did she have to? She wasn't married or anything, and well, she wasn't going to let Caspian have him, so it seemed like publicly announcing she had a son, would make the situation more complicated. Ugh, she hated this. Why couldn't Caspian just leave her alone? He hadn't cared about the child yet, so why start now that he had finally discovered Adrian existed? No, wait. she wasn't going to say these things now. She was going to be lovely. "Oh, that is beautiful!" she said, admiring the locket. "He is so adorable," she giggled to Josephine. "What a sweet boy!" He and Adrian would have the best of times. Perhaps even become really good friends, like she and Josephine had become good friends! "I would love to have a locket like this! Where did you have it made?" Perhaps they could do some customizations... She always liked the rose theme.

 

She giggled happily. "Cheers!" Blonde disasters... Yes, that's what they were, weren't they? In the eyes of the boring public at least. Well, they were having fun. "Hmmm..." She hummed a little. What she wanted was dirt on Caspian Thwaite, but she was certain that she knew more about him that Josephine did, what a shame... "Well, there has been this man..." She chewed her lip a little. "Michael Dawson? He's the curator to this museum... The insults he has," she rolled her eyes, "I don't even understand half of them!" 

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“Oh, at this little place on Rowanoake Street,” Josephine said with a smile. “There’s this old man there and his son, and they make the most beautiful things. Quite a family business and they have an eye for detail.” She liked the place because they always had tea, and time for a chat, and she had sometimes thought the son fancied her a little. Not in any remarkable way, she’d never been that kind of girl, but she’d enjoyed the flattery. Even if, these days, she’d realised, half and half realised in any case, that the flattery was the only thing she’d really liked about it. Probably not the guy. “I’d be happy to show you there sometime, whenever you’d like? And we could get the kids together after?” She didn’t mind taking Christa to Rowanoake. In another time perhaps she would have, but the guys had never reacted oddly to her being there yet in any case.

 

She frowned. “Dawson! Oh, I think I remember him from some charity cause for the museum renovation… Leaky roof or something like that…” She ran a hand through her hair. “Wasn’t he the one whom his classmates at university used to always make fun of for something… gosh, what was it. There was this story about a mummy… I think he wrote his thesis on a possible new discovery of a magic mummy? Then after a couple years, they found out the whole thing had been a hoax, some students on a drunken night… now, every time they want to get to him, they put this little mummy doll out.” She rolled her eyes. “Museum curator humor, I’m afraid that wouldn’t get you far. An affair would be better, but I’m not sure he has the mettle for that.” She laughed at Christa.

 

“Couldn’t imagine you need to take his insults into account, though. He’s dreary enough. Mm, how’d you meet the fellow? Through work?” Oh, god, how was she going to ask the question that was increasingly more on her mind?

 

She was going to drink more and wait until it popped out by accident.

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"Oh, how lovely!" Christa cheered, a little too loudly for the rest of the crowd to enjoy, but who cared, they were having a lovely evening and if people disagreed with that... Well, that wasn't Christa's problem. "It's a date!" Happily she pressed her hand on Josephine and took a big sip from her wine. "When shall we do this? Next week?" Josephine wasn't a morning person, right... Christa needed her beauty sleep.

 

Well, that wasn't the most impressive story. Christa sighed. Oh, it wasn't Josephine's fault, absolutely not, but heavens, who even cared about a mummy like that? If it couldn't ruin his career, it didn't matter. "Oh, not really," she said, shrugging lazily. "He saw me at a party once and tried to ask me out. I said yes, of course, but then later on his friend told him what I am." She rolled her eyes. "Apparently he couldn't handle that, so he started spewing an awful lot of hateful comments." Her face turned sour, remembering how humiliated she had felt at that moment. What on earth had she even done to him? Sure, she had assumed he knew and was planning on charging him for the date, but... still.

 

"Men," she sighed, shaking her head to clear her memories. "I don't think they've been raised properly." 

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