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Title: Preservation
Author: Silyara (trivalent/silyara)
Characters/Pairings: Noire Comstock, Isolde Comstock, Azura Comstock, Perouze Comstock, Magenta Comstock, Rostislav Lestrange, Noire Comstock/Harvey Ridgebit, Rostislav Lestrange/Magenta Comstock, Isolde Comstock/Lancelot Selwynn. Mentioned: Lancelot Selwynn, Dior Comstock, Varden Comstock, Rory Comstock, Hermione Granger, Darcy O'Connell.
Rating: PG
Word Count: 2379
Warnings: So many characters, Comstocks, etc.
Summary: Harvey continues to court Noire, with excellent progress. Noire is Noire.
Notes: JKR owns Harry Potter, but Magenta came from a single line in Lexicon, and the rest of the Comstocks come from my head. Rostislav belongs to poetic_depths. Hermione, Harvey, and Lancelot belong to desire_of_nymph. She also first wrote Isaac Dolohov. Looking at the timelines has a lot of individual plotlines mentioned besides Noire's. Alas, no Noire icon. Perhaps another pairing is also implied. ~~~

The sunlight flitted through the curtains of her window and woke the lady gently with its rays. They grew more radiant in the time she sat, brushing her hair in front of the mirror at her vanity. Her eyes glanced over at the lilies of the valley in a vase on her nightstand. They were beginning to wilt. It was time to use a preservation charm, and she had not seen the man who gave her them since he had done so.

Noire frowned briefly but waved her wand and dressed in silence. She chose a striking red dress, as proper as all gowns in a Comstock’s closet, but the deep colors stood out. It had taken thought to choose shades that went with her hair. Hearing the sounds of cheerful conversation and romantic sighs, Noire knew she had been reflecting long enough. Exiting her room, she saw Isolde and Azura.

“Oh hello Noire,” Azura smiled widely and gave her a small hug, “I hope we did not disturb you.”

“We thought you had already gone down to breakfast with Perouze,” Isolde explained. She had taken more time to dress that morning that usual.

“Perouze did not stop by on her way down,” Noire commented, her thoughts going to her sister as her cousins filled her in on what their friends thought of the upcoming ball that the Dolohov’s were hosting.

“Lancelot is attending,” Isolde smiled dreamily at the mention of his name, and Noire observed her carefully. “He is such a gentleman.”

“Excellent considering the glint in Isaac Dolohov’s eye when he saw Rostislav accompanying Magenta at the Malfoys’ ball,” Noire commented calmly. “We would not want the ball to be too stimulating on the nerves.”

“He is a gentleman too,” Azura commented, her face serious in thought.

“He has a temper and will be in his own house,” Noire pointed out. She did not wonder what their thoughts were, seeing it in their faces. Isolde trusted that Lancelot Selwynn would step in should anything happen. Nothing was going to happen.

“Will Harvey be accompanying you, Noire?” Azura asked directly. The more gentlemen associated with their family the better her thought process seemed to go. It brought up a most unwelcome question at the moment however.

“Perhaps,” Noire replied calmly, her eyes glancing off at one of the windows before they stepped into the breakfast room. Where was he?

Perouze had poured tea for them all. The conversation turned elsewhere, and while Noire listened, her thoughts were on other matters – matters outside the old walls of the castle the young women were in.

“Is there a reason Saffron and Mauve have received Mr. Ridgebit and you have not, Noire?” a voice questioned from the doorway. Noire’s cousin had a slightly puzzled look on her face.

“Mr. Ridgebit is here?” Noire asked, mostly rhetorically. “Which parlor are they having tea with him?” her words were not rushed, but she had already placed her teacup back on its saucer.

“He is only down one floor, in Mauve’s parlor,” Magenta replied. “Have you seen my pet this morning? She is neither in her room nor the library.”

Noire shook her head, excusing herself from her present company, which as it happened had a horrible set of giggles. At least her suitor had not happened into the presence of Isolde and Azura. They were her favorite cousins, yes, but not exactly her first choice company to leave him in alone.

Breathing evenly, Noire entered the parlor, looking first to where the familiar man sat opposite her two sisters. “Good morning, Mr. Ridgebit,” Noire greeted him. “Magenta told me you were here.” He had called on her yes? Saffron had invited him over before, but she had received him with Magenta – neither Saffron nor Mauve had suitors.

“The floo…misdirected me,” Mr. Ridgebit apologized with a smile that Noire gave a polite nod to, though her eyes went over to her sisters. From the state of the scones, he had been there nearly as long as Noire had been at breakfast.

“We were going to call on you shortly,” Saffron stated, her eyes dancing. Yes, she had been the one who had chosen to wait. Mauve sat quietly, small in her own parlor. Yes, she was not so impolite as to leave Saffron as hostess in this room, though Noire doubted her elder sister would have minded.

“Of course,” she accepted graciously, sitting in the fourth chair at the small table. It was a small parlor. “Magenta has still not been able to find her pet this morning,” Noire commented while Mauve poured her a fresh cup of tea.

“Oh?” Saffron smiled, “She has been coming into new habits lately.” Her drink and biscuit were nearly finished. She wiped her face with a napkin, hiding an even more playful smile. Yes, Isolde’s pet had been allowed an office. And Magenta’s pet had taken to spending more and more time there. “If you will excuse me, I believe I can help Magenta find Hermione,” she spoke again, staying only so long as to hear everyone’s well wishes.

Mauve looked over at Noire, and Noire looked back. “They have been excellent hostesses,” Mr. Ridgebit commented politely, and Noire looked back at him.

“My sister, Lady Mauve, is an excellent hostess,” she agreed. Four of her friends had visited her in the last week. She kept even more in touch with her school friends than most of them did – and a greater number of them.

To her credit, Mauve smiled, setting her napkin down. “Please do excuse me,” she spoke quietly, “You have been excellent company, Harvey, but I must call on one of my friends in a short while.” She gave a small smile, though Noire saw through the calm walk that her sister all but fled the room, grateful to be relieved of duties that did not truly pertain to her.

Noire drank another sip of her tea, as the room became empty of all relatives. It was an unusual – and pleasant – surprise that they were left on their own in so short a time, no doubt due both to the fact Mr. Ridgebit had been suiting her for nearly a year and a half and that her sisters present had been Saffron and Mauve. Noire found herself completely fine with the direction the floo had gone.

“You look beautiful this morning, Lady Noire,” her suitor complimented her. His eyes had only been on her a while, though her clothes had stood out against Mauve’s white dress and Saffron’s blue gown, light for the summer weather. She had not chosen it to draw attention to herself though.

“Thank you, Mr. Ridgebit,” Noire replied, “you look very well.” Handsome. Her hands dropped momentarily, catching sight of his ever-bandaged hand. Her eyes did not even look directly at it, much less stare. Every Comstock had her manners.

They spoke of other topics for a while. She never found them to run out, yet her mind returned to it, as it often had since he had explained to her what had happened to it. There was hardly a smooth way to go about it. “Do you keep your hand bandaged at all times?” Noire asked politely, pouring herself another cup of tea, which allowed her eyes to look away from him for a moment. She did not want to press him uncomfortably. That was not polite.

“I usually take it off while I am working,” Mr. Ridgebit replied calmly – with a distinct lack of discomfort, Noire noticed.

“Would it be possible I could see it?” Noire asked politely, her face level and calm. A small pause lingered in the conversation, while Mr. Ridgebit looked at her a bit curiously. She looked back.

“Yes, Lady Noire,” he finally replied. His cup returned to his saucer, as his hands were lifted so that he could unwrap the fresh bandage. It had been applied that morning Noire had been able to tell.

Her eyes watched as more of the hand revealed itself to her sight. The burn was smoother and shinier than skin usually was, and indeed it was an unusual sight. It must have hurt intensely when the accident had happened. It rested on the table, nearer to her than his far hand, and her eyes were on his hand. A silence fell between them. Her cup stayed on the table, and after a period of time, Noire reached across to pick it up with both of her hands. Her fingers ran across the top of his hand, noticing how it felt compared to most hands.

“You are a handsome man, Mr. Ridgebit,” Noire told him, and her blue eyes turned up to look at him in the face. Gently her hands released his, and the conversation returned as it once had.

The sound of her cousins walking past – on their way to spend some time outside no doubt – came through the doors to the parlor, bringing with it more gossip about the upcoming ball. Except that Noire knew better, she would have thought Isolde and Azura careless to speak so freely within earshot of a guest.

“The lilies are still as gorgeous,” Noire replied to the question Mr. Ridgebit had proposed before the interruption.

“Are you all attending the Dolohov’s ball?” he inquired. It was not the largest of balls and in an unusual season. Isaac Dolohov’s mother had still not managed to procure her son a suitable wife. Everyone knew they were searching.

“We were invited, and my father accepted,” Noire replied. She knew he was not foolish enough to engage in pointless conversations while there. None of his daughters were interested – not even Mauve.

“I have not sent my reply yet,” Mr. Ridgebit informed her. The air was heavy, but she simply looked straight at him, waiting. If she had not wanted him to continue, she had any number of responses she could have given. He waited long enough to be sure none of them were going to be given to him. “Would you do me the honor of attending the Dolohovs’ ball with me, Lady Noire?” he asked – strong and confident without being haughty. And the way his breath seemed to wait for her reply.

A smile flitted across her face briefly before she replied, and it eased him slightly, though she would not have chosen the word ‘relaxed’ to describe him. “It is my pleasure to accept, Mr. Ridgebit,” Noire replied, her heart beating faster than it ought to have been. And they still had a short while before Perouze would check on them.

Two Comstock gentlemen, three husbands, and three escorts had made even Isaac Dolohov wary. For his excellent memory at being snubbed – and no chance whatsoever at a Comstock match – the man was not a fool. None of the men she looked at appeared to be particularly aware of the situation – dancing, conversing, laughing – though Noire knew that to be pure illusion in her uncle’s case. She was not certain of the rest. Her dancing partner seemed blissfully unaware, though his company had almost been enough to cause Noire to forget about it all more times than she liked to admit.

In the corner of her eye, she saw Rostislav Lestrange excuse himself from his fiance’s company. And she was not the only one. Noire looked up at Mr. Ridgebit, as they left a conversation with the Malfoys. “If you would please excuse me for a moment, Mr. Ridgebit,” Noire spoke politely, though any fool knew the answer to that question.

He nodded slightly, with a smile. “Of course, Lady Noire,” he replied and made his way over toward the refreshments, as Noire followed a different path. It was not so strange a path to anyone watching her, being in the general direction of the ladies. But she was not going to powder her face.

Her shoes were quiet for their type but not silent altogether, and their host had sharp ears. Stopping where he was, his body spun on the balls of his feet. His eyes glinted dangerously. “Lady Noire,” he greeted her, “I have not had the opportunity to speak with you without your escort this evening. Did he need to change the bandages?” His tone was sharp. Not even a fool would have mistaken it.

“Have you finished dancing and conversing with all the ladies lacking suitors, Mr. Dolohov?” Noire asked politely. Her implication still was as clear as day, and his face darkened.

“Merlin forbid I should wish to require so much of your time,” he countered, giving the smallest of bows.

Noire watched him coldly. “It is just as well you talk with myself or Dior, as any of my other sisters,” she noted neutrally. His mood grew fouler, but he kept the glare off his face.

Rostislav returned from the gentlemen’s, giving them both a friendly nod as he returned to the ballroom. “Compliment your mother for a wonderful ball,” Noire told the man, as she left, her wrist pulled up slightly, to clear a path for her wand in case Isaac Dolohov was angry enough to attempt idiocy, but he was not a fool.

Seeing Mr. Ridgebit holding a glass of white wine for her as she returned, Noire indulged in a smile and drank a small sip. He drank some of his as well, eyes mostly on her but not completely. Hmm. The smile fell away to neutrality.

“I am almost under the impression you do not like our host, Lady Noire,” her escort commented so quietly it was impossible for anyone around them to hear. Their feet led them to the outskirts, where they could see most everyone. “And that he is not fond of your cousin’s company,” he added after a second, looking down at her.

Her conversation with the man in question had not even been in Mr. Ridgebit’s view. Noire was mildly impressed, given he was not a Comstock. “You observe more than you let on,” Noire complimented him, though she did not address his statements. He already knew the answer anyway.

“Remind me to take a room with an angry Peruvian Vipertooth over one with you when you are upset,” he joked with a smile. Noire rather agreed herself.

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