Closed Mending
The strange invitation given out by Lady Violetta had not given anyone much time to prepare. Less than a week, at most. But he took some delight in picking through the strange old clothes, like play-acting. The ones he and Himal had chosen (Ezra's was something like an old slashed doublet and a mask from the commedia dell'arte), he had taken into his room to hem a little. His grandmother, a great embroiderer in the days before her poor hands shook too much, had taught him to sew at an early age. So it was old hat to lend the occasional needle to darn a sock or patch a hole. He'd done it many times before, especially for Himal, which he hoped was a good enough exchange for how often he would take Ezra to his apartment to cook for them the lovely meals of his homeland.

The trousers were draped over his lap as he sat at his desk, finishing off the final stitch, biting off the needle's end with his teeth. He was to meet with Chandan before the party to properly arrange their costumes. When he heard the door open, he slid the two letters on the desk quickly into a drawer.
To be completely honest, parties had never been Himal’s favorite pastime. A subdued, quiet gathering of his colleagues at Oxford where one could immerse themselves in intellectual discussions was tolerable, at times even enjoyable. This costumed fete was another thing entirely, and Himal hoped he would at least not be drawn into conversation with any of the family members or guests over subjects which he had no interest in.

Still, it had been mildly enjoyable choosing a costume with Maksimov, though Himal could not have said why this was, exactly. The presence of a close friend made anything more pleasant, perhaps. Now he went to Maksimov’s room to fetch the costume he had chosen. Pushing open the door, Himal stepped into the room. “It's Chandan. Have you finished?”
"Yes!" He stood and handed him the mended trousers. "Now it will fit properly. Ern, hopefully." He had been sure to take, and take again, Chandan's measurements to be certain.
Himal took the mended trousers, looking them over. His untrained eyes could see nothing amiss, and Maksimov had certainly taken enough measurements. "I suppose we should prepare ourselves for this absurd affair, then, as we are now committed to attending."
Ezra laughed, "Absurd, yes, but perhaps what is needed after years of toiling upon notebooks? " adjusting the collar of Himal's outfit, which was somewhat habitual and... brotherly? Motherly? Familiar. Helpful. A thing they did for each other now and then. He wasn't sure what the motive was for Himal, but he assumed it was innocent. Possibly beleaguered, definitely tolerant of Ezra's own fits of anxious fretting and forgetfulness. It was why he could not fathom why Himal thought he was immodest, or full of himself. It seemed like some sort of personal delusion, but then again, perhaps Ezra held onto his own delusion that veiled him from the truth.
"If you say so." Himal did not wish to be a "wet blanket" as he had been labeled during his youth, and if Maksimov was truly looking forward to the event then he intended to do his best not to ruin it for his friend. Even if it did give the other man another reason to fuss over him. "No, of course you are correct, it will do us good to take a night away from our research."
Himal nodded and gave Ezra an almost imperceptible smile. "I suppose now we should put the final touches on our costumes?"
He was glad he'd conceded, at least somewhat. "Yes. I shall wait while you change." And he turned abruptly to asses himself in the small mirror by his bed. Though his focus was turned entirely to the letter in the desk. Debating, still, on whether to actually give it to Himal or not. In the end, it would at least leave no mystery behind once he left. Under his bed, his suitcase was already half packed.
If he could not merely dismiss this strange behavior as usual for Maksimov, Himal might have questioned his friend's attitude more. As it was, he closed the door and began to remove his clothes to change into the close-fitting Regency-style clothing his friend had chosen for him. "I suppose I should not feel embarrassment over making a fool of myself in these garments," Himal commented, as he pulled the trousers on. "Everyone will be wearing costumes, will they not?" He briefly considered telling Ezra that the doublet suited him, but it did not seem the right time.
Smiling gently, "If not, then at least we are foolish together." A sense of finality in his voice, one he assumed only he could detect, and he tried the mask on. It was a bit difficult to see through, the eye holes were a bit crooked and it itched horribly. The two he had found for them, both sporting long noses, a bit like a plague doctor's protective gear, were terribly old, the sculpted creases filled with yellow dust, and the insides, once plush velvet, were holed and half eaten away at by moths or time, or both.

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