Closed - Content Warning The Madman's Strathspey
@Felix Dietrich

His sessions at Madman's Bluff were now among his only chances of respite; he dared not engage with dalliances, not since his heart had been hewn by the bloody devil bastard Cecil Atticus. It was the discovery in and of itself that had wounded him. That he had a heart to break at all. Here, he could hide behind his fiddle and speak through the strings, things he could ne'er hope to articulate with his own tongue.

But none of that was ever in his thoughts beyond a subconscious pit in his stomach. He came to play because he was too poor not to. The coin helped keep his father from completely perishing, and his mother from perishing under the weight of keeping him upright. And Toal, he did nothing to help.

Today he played The Warlocks, his favourite. He had one man with a silly little drum and another some strange pan pipe or flute that he didn't recognize. And he wasn't very drunk yet either, so he could play on key and perhaps be tipped a little. Tipping while tipsy was rare.

They stood on a pathetic little platform at the back of the pub, and were nearly drowned out by the creaking of chairs and drunken shouting. But a standard fee from the barkeep was always ensured, so he sometimes just played for her sake and found her to be grateful about it.
Felix had been having a moderately good day, considering his mood was black again. At least the moors fit his mood and filled him with a lovely melancholic passion which ignited tiny sparks to kindle into compositions . . . of some nature. Felix was once again without either piano, organ or harp, but he could always refine his music until he found one, or work on his poetry. Definitely sketch some of the locals, the architecture – the manor house in particular.

Yes, he’d had to give his last two shillings to the wagon driver who had failed to forget to mention any recompense, but money was hardly the biggest concern on his mind. That was finding a way to forget about him, and figure out where in Hell his muse had got themselves to. Felix was encouraged by the brief flickering of interest in actually creating something again. He had been given a room in the Inn, and was about to inquire into what they had to drink that didn’t taste like it had already been inside someone’s stomach – when the Innkeeper had repeated his name, then handed him a letter on confirmation of the name.
Except it wasn’t. His. Name.
It was Dietrich, sure enough, but Felix was not now, ever had been, or ever would dream of considering becoming, a Doctor. On seeing his father’s name on a letter here, Felix ordered the cheapest strongest spirit he could and went over to an empty table and fell into a chair, staring at the letter with his drink untouched. What was the man even doing? There was no sign of him in the tavern, which was a relief at least. Felix needed time to figure out what he was to do.

In the meantime, an amateur trio of musicians were playing a lively dance tune that had a bit of wildness to it, and in another frame of mind Felix might have been compelled to search out the nearest pretty face and do his best to dance along. As it was, it was at least enough to get his mind off this blasted letter. The fiddle player wasn’t actually bad, quite good really the more Felix thought about it, and quite definitely the nearest pretty face. As the song ended, Felix stood and, though he really couldn’t spare it, he took out his final half-crown and held it to the fiddler. “Here, you’ve more than earned this, earned more but I’m afraid it’s all I can spare at the moment. And a drink, if you’d like. What was the name of that tune?” he asked. He smiled. “And your name, of course. I’m Felix.”
On some days they would receive sparse applause, even slurred shouting and spilling of drink if they were 'lucky', but it was a rare occasion indeed that he was offered coin directly out of the palm of a patron.

He tucked his fiddle in its case and hopped off the platform, pushing the hair back from his face and squinting at the coin and the man, "Ah, my thanks, sir..." Hesitating a moment before taking it, "Kel Featherston. It's 'Warlocks'. My gram taught me when we did ceilidhs." Craning his neck to survey him. Not quite a toff from the look of him. But not a down in the dirt wastrel either. The middlin' ones were hard to pin down.
“Oh no,” Felix said, mouth twisting wryly. “Sir? Am I overdressed or . . . do I really look old enough to be a sir?”  He looked down over his velvet waistcoat, which had seen better days, and ankle-high black and tan buttoned boots. Maybe he was a little overdressed but Felix had a trunk full of belongings and the majority of the contents . . . well, there was a fair amount of clothes but for the most part it was notebooks and books and sheet music. All the things really worth keeping.

“Kel, it suits you. And ‘Warlocks’ definitely suits the music, I knew there was something quite eerie and wild about it.” Felix’s smile is genuine enough, but it doesn’t light his eyes. He nods as if he has any idea what a ceilidh is. “You’ve been playing for awhile then? I can tell, you’re quite talented.” He gestured towards his table and the unsettling letter which was almost forgotten. Until he saw it again. “Please, join me. Otherwise it’s just going to be me alone and paley loitering.” He doubted the other man would catch the Keats reference but one never did know. Kel was an artist after all.
He pocketed the coin, and glanced around for workmates, as per usual, before sitting down with him. "I work up the hill, everybody's 'sir' or 'lady' there. Guess I can't shake the habit." He could see through the compliments, or perhaps he just wasn't used to sincerity, and didn't flirt or flutter his eyes like he assumed he was meant to. Unless this one was just the sort to invite men to drinks without anything further fancied than a friend. But he didn't meant to be cold either, and tilted his head with his own detached wryness. "Where you from?"
Felix was momentarily silent, in response both to Kel’s avoidance of, or at least, non-response to either the mild flirtation or any of his other remarks. And also, the blasted letter was sitting there, glaring at him. Felix swept it off the table as he sat, folding it and tucking it into a pocket. “Up the hill? At the manor, you mean?” The manor his father was a guest of, apparently.

At the question of where he was from, Felix sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “Cambridge, originally. Paris, lately.” He paused, lips pressing together at the thought of Paris and all he was trying to put behind him. “You’re from Ireland, aren’t you? I’ve always wanted to visit Dublin, see where Wilde was born.”
"Aye, I tend the gardens. We lived in Ireland 'til I were older and we moved house to be proper Yorkshire like my Da." Sinking back in his chair and trying to get the barmaid's attention. Not quite sure what 'where wild was born' meant, but figuring it might just be a real smart-like turn of phrase that he didn't understand. "Paris and Cambridge. Sounds right fancy."
“Is it a pleasant place to work?” Felix asked. He has some vague idea of surrounding oneself with beautiful growing things, but has spent enough time on the fringes of society, albeit the urban ones, to suspect he must somehow be missing something. He looked around as Kel did, but the barmaid seemed to have her attention elsewhere, and Felix still had most of the disturbingly murky liquid he’d ordered.

“Well, Paris was quite fancy, as you put it, though not terribly different than London when you get right down to it. Better for artistic expression in some ways.” Felix’s tone had turned quite dismal, and he had no intention of dragging his new acquaintance down with him. “So how long have you been in England, if you don’t mind my asking? And if it’s not too dreadfully rude, how, er, what age are you?” He hoped the other man was not so young that his flirtation crossed a line and made him look like a complete cad.
The question caught him off-guard, and he laughed. Draping one leg over the other and his arm across the back of his chair with a bit more intentioned enticement, to get his point across. "Of age. Just passed twenty this year. I been here on my Da's farm for maybe... hmm. Decade now."
It was certainly a relief to hear the other man’s age was only a few years younger than his own, and at the same time, Kel positioned himself in rather a seductive fashion draping over the chair, that made Felix wish the next words out of his mouth weren’t about his father. It really wasn’t the time to be talking about fathers, was it?

“Do you miss Ireland much? Is it much different here in England?” Felix asked. He stretched his leg out and stroked Kel's leg gently with his foot, hoping that under the table was not too forward for a place like this. “I imagine the music was far better, simply based on that song you were playing earlier. I’ve heard dance reels before, but never anything quite like that.”
Kel raised his brow vaguely and watched this Felix, of late from Paris, waste no time in confirming his intent. He knew the French were topsy-turvy, but not quite in this respect. It was to the point, he liked that. Best to not waste time. Villages like this did nothing for keeping secrets, for the small, cramped population as well as the gossiping mouths.

"I recall we was a bit better off there, more happy I guess." But he didn't really find bringing up why quite yet, or perhaps ever. Not the time nor place. "So you like Irishmen?" He then offered his proper, crooked smirk. He could never get it to reach all of his face even if he tried, so it was top tier with that in mind.
As Kel talks about being happier when he was younger in Ireland, Felix nods though he can’t help but wonder if childhood is so often a bright and pleasant memory simply because children are happier.  Felix rested his shoulders on the table and his chin in his hands, listening to Kel as he continued to stroke up the other man’s leg with his foot.

At the question and the other man’s smile, Felix returned one of his own. It was no doubt slightly more bright than Kel’s, but he still had to put a little effort into it. “I couldn’t really say, I certainly do think I like Irishmen. Or at least, one Irishman in particular. Who really deserves a drink.” He looked around the tavern again, and attempted to wave the barmaid over. “Is service in this place always so dreadfully slow?”
He managed to make some sort of sound that resembled a laugh, and hoped it didn't come out like a sneer. "Sometimes, when staff's drunk." He held his hand up over his head and waved it until the maid approached, to whom he gave his shiny new coin and asked for a pint. "Tha's stayin' here then? Them rooms are right dingy. Real risky to lay a body down on them beds without checking the posts don't break first."
It was sort of a bitter laugh, but it and Kel’s accompanying remark made Felix smile. Perhaps there would be some brightness to the evening after all, or a pleasant diversion at the very least. As the barmaid finally came over, Felix neglected to order anything. He was no longer interested in drowning his sorrows in cheap tasteless ale.

The description of the rooms here brought out a rather rueful laugh of his own. “I’m afraid I’ve been slumming for a fair bit of my life, which comes from having an artistic soul and far less money than it might look. If breaking a bed is the worst thing to look forward to, I must be doing fairly well.” Felix tilted his head and regarded the other man. “Unless you had some other suggestion?” He had no idea where gardener's slept. Some sort of shed? Bunkhouse? Or was it possible Kel had a comfortable country home all his own.
He drank his ale gratefully. It was the swill he was used to, the taste had long ago stopped bothering him. "Not much, really. Sometimes grass is better even, depends on where's best to not be found." Shrugging, sitting up properly and squinting at him. His manner of dress did lend to the idea of artsy shit. It was far out of his realm though, unless fiddling counted. And that was all from ears and listening, the learning. No notes or sheets to memorize like some proper orchestra pit fellow.

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