Closed Needles & Glass
Delia took to the sitting room with Julienne and Yakova after dinner. The both of them requested an extra sewing session so they might make gifts for their fathers. Very hush-hush, she told Lady Colette to steer the two away from this wing of the house just to be safe.

They were doing a simple flower pattern, one she had made dozens of times. It brought back memories of the room she shared with the spinster, Mrs. Abernathy. The loathsome woman would bang on the wall for her tea while Delia tried to spend some peaceful time in her room with her needle. She would have to clean up after the daily result of the poor aim she had with her tobacco globs into the spittoon by her bed... a vivid memory forever ingrained. But the very worst was how her father had pointedly said spinsters beget spinsters. She was glad to be far from Glasgow.

The girls chatted to each other, and seemed to be getting on. She was glad, Julienne was such a standoffish little girl, poor thing.
He had three children from before his divorce – two full grown, and a three year old daughter that his ex-wife had reportedly refused to even look at after her birth. He supposed Marietta did have a way of glaring. No matter. His father had hacked up a lung and then declared it would be good for Marietta for her to travel, and so Angel had brought her with him.

Where she was? Well. He would find her eventually. These things had a way of working themselves out, and she was a Cortes. Most of his family even came back from sea!

Trying to not look too much like a man who had indeed lost track of his daughter a day ago, Angel tweaked his mustache and leaned into the doorway of – oh, the talking was coming from there.

He disappeared behind the frame, then after a moment of hesitation stepped in with a stretched smile. “Good evening! Yes, good evening.”

His eyes skimmed the room. No three year olds. Agh.

“How are you?”
She started slightly, but stood bolt upright and bowed her head. "Your Lordship." She forgot his name, only that he was another marquess. "May I be of service?"

Yakova stood briefly to curtsy and Julienne ignored them all.
Angel smiled warmly to Julienne and ignored Yakova entirely. A little old, but maybe she would get along with his daughter!

“Miss,” he answered. “Have you perchance seen a small girl with black, braided hair and a penchant for sharp things running around?”
“Another girl? Begging your pardon, M’lord. I was not informed of her arrival. Does she have a nurse I might consult?”
Content Warning: Misogyny.

“I believe so,” he said. “The woman that greeted me seemed to have it handled.”

A mirror behind the governess caught his eye, small chandelier glimmering in its reflection. As soon as he made eye contact with himself –

“Beautiful mirror,” he said, stepping past her and passing a hand over it. “Immaculate face, perfectly blown...” he squinted, “silver backing. France?”
[warning: child abuse mention]

Delia had scarcely noticed the mirror, and took his Lordship's initial enamoured look as a leer at one of the girls. As he went past, she clutched a hand to her heart in relief.

"I'm afraid I don't know, m'lord..." Paranoid. Why was she? A man cannot help if he looks a bit queer - a bit off - a bit like an arch villain.
“You know what would make this even better?” he said, eyes gleaming and not exactly waiting for an inquiry. “A one-way mirror. Who does the decorating here?”
“A... one-way... my Lord?” A one way to what? Seeing your face?
“A one-way mirror!” Angel repeatedly excitedly, eyes a little too wide. “Delightful for parties, perhaps even a mask! When you look through,” he gestured to the mirror’s face, “this side, you see what you expect to see! But when you look through...” he paused to take the mirror off its hook and hold the back in front of himself, “this side...” he popped his head from behind it out to grin at her wildly, “you see everything else!”
And who would be to blame if this mirror were to crack? She, who would then be sacked.

Delia's reflection gave herself a look crossed with bewilderment and revulsion.

"But... why would anyone want to do such a thing? .. m'Lord."

The girls were staring too, but with fascination.
He'd heard tell that Miss Harris would be late from extra tutelage. But it was terrible late now, and he'd meant to give back the new book she had lent him; The Turn of the Screw. He was keen to discuss the plot.

So he wound quietly though the servant halls with a tea tray, opening a door with a panel in the plasterwork of the wall in a first floor corridor. He heard her voice, scolding? The girls were up to something. Surely no one would mind he visit with tea to offer.

He opened the second panel exit, now in the hall where the sitting room was but doors away. It was then that he heard a man speak, and balked. Sweating. Was it the Marquess? The other one? There were two now, bother.

Florian gently set the tray on a side table, and peeked in the room. He saw Delia with the girls, and a man with a mirror for a face. He gave Delia a questioning look in the reflection behind her.
The frame slipped in his grip as he lowered it to peer at her. He managed to keep hold of it, but had to precariously nudge it back up into his full grip with his knee.

“Why would they not?” he asked, befuddled by the idea that someone would not want to spy on a party!
"Because... it is... dishonest!" Her indignation rose above propriety for a moment. She even made fists and held them stiff at her sides. "It is... unmannerly. Are you intending to install this mirror in the castle? ... sir?" To spy... and so openly he admitted it! Perhaps she was correct about protecting the girls after all. From a charlatan.
He wanted to flee instantly, but his heart instead propelled him through the door. "Beg your pardon, Lordship. L-ladies. Miss Harris..." Surely the Marquess would slay him with hidden swords or mirrors. Mirror swords. "Tea?" But he'd forgotten his tray was still in the hall. He was frozen.

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