Brahms echoed furiously through the open
doors as the orchestra launched itself in a rendition of Hungarian Dance. It started like a riot, a crescendo of frenetic
instruments, that made his blood swirl faster inside his veins, eager to jump
and dance in the chambers of his heart.
adjusted his formal black tailcoats and checked his red hair – tamed by several
minutes of strenuous work with brilliantine pomade. He wasn’t that used to it,
usually allowing his hair to flow loose and tousled, hidden under his homburg
hat when he went out for his daily chores. But the occasion demanded his very
best evening attire, like a proper Edwardian gentleman, and Jamie was fairly
confident he was looking dapper.
It was a birthday celebration for the daughter
of the house, a wealthy heir of lands and titles in Oxfordshire – probably
spoilt and coquettish, fishing for a suitable match since her debutante ball at the mercy of the
Jamie had been travelling home to Scotland,
coming from a season of profitable connections in Paris, when one his best
friends, Lord John Grey – a nobleman himself from the finest breed – had asked
him to spend a short amount of time at his country house, in order to help him
with some complex business arrangement. He had later insisted that Jamie must
accompany him to the function, dangling in front of his eyes the chance of
introducing his whiskey to a couple of eager – and well-lined – pockets.
After the debauchery he had witnessed in the Parisian
cabarets, he wasn’t looking too
forward to spending another night drinking, swallowing cigars and pretending to
be interested in shallow conversations conducted by batting eyelashes or men
comparing cock lengths.
What he craved was the simplicity of the moors and lochs of the home of his heart, the painting of clouds and mist
from his bedroom window – even if for a short period of time. Soon enough, he
was meant to make the voyage across the great sea to New York, where he would
make the acquaintance of some of the wealthiest railway tycoons, caskets
rolling from Fraser’s distillery into prospering America.
Shrugging to ease off some tension, Jamie managed
to summon a pleasant smile and entered the house. It was a riveting crowd – men
gathered together in corners like wolfpacks, evaluating their prey; woman
sipped from champagne flutes, tasting beverage and gossip alike; the orchestra
played along dutifully, decided to give a concert even without listeners.
Jamie greeted a couple of acquaintances,
briefly commenting on the excellent turnout of the evening and enchantments of
the Beauchamp estate, and accepted a glass of rich Portuguese port offered by a
After a laboured hour of confraternization, with
a brief passage through the baccarat
table and multiple polite – or so he hoped – rejections of languid invitations
to dance, Jamie was wondering if it would be the supreme abruptness to leave
while the party was still at its prime.
Looking around to try to locate John – perched near
the piano player, hypnotized in conversation with his friend Hector – Jamie noticed her.
She was standing by the most secluded window,
almost hidden by the heavy drapes of the red curtains, only noticeable because
of the beckoning colour of her dress – a deep teal, that reminded him of
Scottish skies in the summertime, right before the hour of falling stars. She
had her back slightly turned, so he could only see her outline.
Her rich brown hair was styled in an elegant
and simple knot, with solitary pearls scattered amongst her trapped locks, like
drops of sea commanded by Poseidon to the most beautiful mermaid. Unlike other
women – wearing flowers or jewelled pins and combs - she had used a hair accessory that looked
like a wee dagger to keep her hair in place – it reminded him so much of a sgian dhu that Jamie almost gasped. She
had a pair of simple silver earrings and no other jewellery that he could see.
Jamie moved discreetly, trying to approach her
without being noticed. She was looking outside – her hands covered by satin
black opera gloves, bracing the marble of the windowsill -, her lips pursed in
seriousness, her eyes lost in contemplation of unseen things.
“Ye look bored out of yer mind.” He said in a
conversational tone, before he could stop himself. She startled and looked
around annoyed, noticing him – her eyes were the most astonishing shade of
amber. “Sorry to disturb ye, Madam.”
“That’s alright.” She surveyed him, head to
toe, taking him in. “You’re not from around here, are you?”
“Scotland.” Jamie confirmed, smiling. “My
estate – Lallybroch - is near a village much smaller than the backyard of this
“It is an insufferably big house.” She
shrugged. “You could easily get lost inside it.”
“Ah.” Jamie grinned, standing closer to her and
peeking through the window to the obscured garden. “Do ye think that’s what
happened to the fair lady being honoured tonight? People are commenting on her
The woman snorted, her lips quivering in
“I’m sure she’ll appear when she wants to.” She
admonished. “I hear she has a wicked temper and rude manners. Not suitable to
the title of Lady Beauchamp at all.”
“Hm.” Jamie offered her an appreciative gaze.
“At least I’d be most entertained. And maybe ye wouldna look so wistful.” He
“You do realize I am Lady Claire Beauchamp, don’t you?” She asked, her eyes
suddenly downcast, her lips contorting on a wry smile.
Jamie nodded, leaning against the wall next to the window. “I was guessing that
was the reason why ye were hidden here.” And then he whispered in a
conspiratorial tone. “I’d be too, if I were ye.”
Claire gave him a significant look, raising her
brows in a display of stupefaction.
“You look more like the type that should be
spending the night next to the gaming table, plotting with the other men about
the great determinations of Britain and choosing their next young lover.” She
“I was invited to leave the baccarat table, I’m afraid.” He smiled, tilting his head in fake mourning.
“That bad of a player?” She crossed her arms in
a very unladylike position, which made the corners of his mouth almost twitch
in supressed amusement.
“Actually,” He confided with a grimace. “I
think they were tired of me emptying their pockets. I’m verra good at cards –
“So you are a gambler.” Claire gave him a
lopsided smile, looking mildly interested. “And how did you find yourself here,
“Fraser. James Fraser” He slightly bowed down
his head and kissed the back of her hand, feeling her warmth even underneath
the satiny fabric. “Enchanté,
“French.” She commented, looking away to hide
her face as a couple passed near them, giggling in search of a vacant room
where to express their burning affections. “Do you have ties to France?”
“Very ancient connections.” Jamie admitted,
noticing how the candlelight enhanced the honey inside her eyes, the fair skin
of her neck turned almost golden. “I just arrived from Paris – made a small
detour on my way to Scotland. I have to be in Southampton soon enough, though.
I have a passage booked on the RMS
Titanic, bound to New York. I hear it’s a verra bonnie ship – a wee beast
of the seas.”
“Oh.” She said, sounding strangely
disappointed. “I see.”
They stood in silence for a while, their
previous conversation interrupted by the announcement of his impending
departure. The rooms were filled with the sounds of people gathering to dance a
classic gavotte, as the orchestra
played on without signs of wavering, flooding the senses as the bodies pulsed
with the spirits of alcohol and elation.
“I think I’ll get some air.” Claire finally
said, tilting her chin. Her eyes were serious and hardened like crystalized amber.
“It was lovely to meet you, Mister Fraser. Excuse me.”
Jamie nodded in retribution, bewildered, as
Claire quickly escaped through a nearby open door. He leaned over the window,
his eyesight adapting to the surrounding darkness, as he followed her
silhouette with his eyes.
She walked with the familiar security of
someone who knew the grounds well – a dog, honey coloured like her own eyes,
ran from somewhere outside the house and barked to greet her. Claire
immediately bent down to salute him, patting his flank with a gentle and caring
hand. Her body moved with an easy grace, the promise of her flesh immediate and
taunting like a whisper against the back of his neck, disarming him most
irrevocably. She was an unusual woman, very different from the image he had
created of the lady ruling the understairs servants with an iron fist. Nothing
about her was what it should have been - and he had been enthralled with that
realization the moment their eyes met.
There was a sadness about her – a peculiarity,
like a book misplaced in the wrong shelf, and for that reason condemned not to
be discovered. He knew nothing about what pleased her and made her laugh, but
was sure it wasn’t the sycophants surrounding them or their many pompous
He watched as she opened the metallic gate,
headed to what seemed like a private garden, and without dwelling on it any
longer, decided to follow her.
The air outside smelt of lilacs and roses, with
a hint of rain to come. He rapidly approached the gate and saw her, sitting in
a granite bench amongst a myriad of herbs and flowers.
In that moment, in her teal dress, she was all
the lights in Paris gathered together; all the things the old masters had tried
to paint, demonstrating beauty – she was the earth underneath his feet and the
sky above his head, expanding away from him, limitless.
“You’re trespassing private property.” She
announced in a soft voice, declaring her knowledge of his whereabouts.
“I’m a Scot.” Jamie smiled. “We are firm
believers in the right of way.”
“I thought you had to be going somewhere to
call that.” Claire gave him a slightly smug smile, noticing his surprise.
“Who says I’m not?” He said in a hoarse voice,
their eyes locking. Thankfully, the coming clouds still left the moon untouched
– he could see her, her outline like a dream half-remembered, and sense the
light shivers of her skin, exposed to the night’s breeze and to his unnerving
presence. “Do ye want to dance? It’s yer birthday after all – seems unfair ye
dinna even dance.”
“Dance?” She raised her brows, her eyes
glowing. “We don’t have music.”
“Aye.” Jamie brushed his clean shaven chin with
his fingers, in a pretence of deep thought. “We dinna have an orchestra here in
the garden or a gramophone – amazing wee things, those – but I’d dance with ye
She gave him an undecided look, stalling by
brushing her skirt for inexistent leaves.
“In Paris I saw this dance – different from
everything, really, brought on by Argentinians – it’s called tango.” Jamie licked his lips and
offered her his hand. “I’ll show ye.”
Claire slowly took off her black gloves and
reached out to touch his hand with hers – their fingers coming together with a
disconcerting ease. Always looking into her eyes, steadying and reassuring her,
Jamie brought their bodies to full contact and guided them in a few steps of
the exotic dance, which soon would become the art of lovers, the rhythm of
passion capable of shocking every matron and hostess.
“This is interesting.”
Claire almost panted, as Jamie lightly squeezed her thin waist with his
fingers. “You must have been in someextraordinaryplaces in Paris, Jamie. Must have
partnered with lots of girls there, leaving a trail of crushed hearts in your
“No.” He replied, his voice husky. “I didn’t
understand it, then. What it takes to be able to dance like this – but now,
perhaps, I finally do.”
“Jamie, I…” She gulped. “I have more money and
lands than I can count. I have servants, jewels and dresses. But I haven’t been
happy in a long time. You’ve talked to me like a person – not a godforsaken
title – and for that alone I am grateful. But…”
“What?” He whispered, his fingers brushing her
cheek, with heartbreaking tenderness and desire.
“Don’t dance with me unless you mean it.” Claire
whispered back. “I know it’s too much to ask, but – please, don’t go to
America. Stay here…” She ended softly, her unfinished sentence spiralling
between their pressed bodies. Stay here -
“I think I couldna leave even if I wanted to,
Claire.” Jamie breathed, hugging her against him. It was still dark - and yet
he was seeing explosions of light all around him, fast stars created by two
souls meeting in the night, strangers on the verge of becoming one. “Ye have
set my soul alight, mo nighean donn.
I seem to be blind – but now I can see.”
Real quick, before I go completely MIA, I want to share something you probably would’ve have known if you haven’t seen my DA, that being my first full cosplay, of Sans. I had forgotten to post about it when I started uploading my Undertale art, so I guess now’s as good a time as any. So, if you have the time, I want to tell you about and show you the process.
First off, I live near the Phoenix area in Arizona, so I’ve been to Saboten Con (when it was still around) and twice to Phoenix ComiCon. First time was probably two or three years ago.
Back then it wasn’t nearly as expanded as it is now. Last time I went, I was barely in costume, if at all, but I had wanted to create a full cosplay. At first I wanted to be a Pokemon trainer, but it fell by the wayside. After some time, I took on the endeavor of creating a Sans cosplay.
I started this cosplay in December of last year. This was the first iteration of the foam mask, back when I hadn’t quite gotten the hang of my drawing style for Sans. Looking back, it’s pretty fugly to me, but ya know, it was very early in, before I had gotten a grasp on what I was doing.
I had actually struggled to make the base underneath the face. It took looking up a fursuit tutorial on YouTube for me to realize, “Oh! That’s how you do it!” The black cloth in the sockets here was temporary while I worked on them. The teeth also got majorly redone later on.
And here’s my cat Milo chillin’ out on the scraps. Just thought I’d throw that in too.
Here, I had realized that he needed a bit of a subtle brow ridge that most skeletons have. Plus, while the temporary cloth was out, seeing it placed perfectly over my tablet’s blue light, I had to take a picture.
I was also figuring out the temples and realized they were a bit anatomically incorrect. The mouth was going through a redesign as well. Meaning I had to cut out the teeth that were already there and start over.
Then, the new semester started and I was feeling pretty demotivated to work on it. I did work a bit on it here and there, but it mostly sat in one corner of my desk, unfinished. After the passing of my grandma, I almost couldn’t bring myself to work on it. It sat unfinished even longer. But once the semester started coming to a close and I heard Phoenix ComiCon was coming up, I had the urge to pick it up again. After a metric ton of cutting, trimming, gluing, and trimming again, this was the result:
At this point, I was getting more and more excited about actually seeing it finished. I constantly reminded myself of how proud my grandma would be of me, since I was able to show her the earlier stages before her passing. I’m still sad I’ll never get to show her the completed piece, but I hammer it into myself that she would be immensely happy for me. Anyway, the jacket shown here, turned out to be a darker shade of blue than what I was going for. When I searched up Sans’s in-game sprite, it turned out I needed a lighter shade of blue, so I ordered one off of Amazon after seeing a blog page linking to ideal pieces for a Sans cosplay. I kept the original jacket, since it does get cold in Arizona during the brief winter season.
After this stage, I did a bunch of running around, much to my parents’ expense since I can’t drive, finding a bunch of other materials, such as polyester padding, a white medium shirt to put over the padding, black and white fabric for the pants, tights and polyester cloth for the leggings, black opera-length gloves, white and black fabric paint, polyester clay, grey fleece for the jacket hoodie, a pair of fresh socks that stretch above the ankles, a pair of perfectly pink fuzzy slippers from Sears, wood filler, sandpaper, LED lights, batteries for said lights… Whoo! Okay, yeah. Bottom line, I got a crap ton of stuff.
For the padding, I sewed a pair of old shirts together, one inside the other, and stuffed the padding in between, around my whole middle, and in the shoulders, to give Sans his shallow, stout look. That all took me under a few hours to figure out and put together. After that, I believe, I made the shorts using a pair of existing shorts as a template. They were a bit saggy in the crotch area, but they worked nicely, especially when fitting them over the padding. I also did the hand bones, using the gloves, fabric paint, and polymer clay bones, which I hot glued onto the top of the gloves. Wearing them was also a bit weird. I couldn’t close my fist all the way, but they worked all right.
Not pictured here was the fabric paint on the palm side. Unfortunately, I had to constantly reinforce the glue to keep the bones from popping off. Polymer, as I realized too late, doesn’t like sticking to glue very much, especially with hands that need to be used. Very unfortunately, my fears came true and two of the finger bones popped off during a panel I went to. Lesson learned. This is one baby I have to kill. I’ll go back and completely redo the hands in a different way. They may not be entirely anatomically accurate, but they’ll function. At least the old ones, which I’ve thrown into the garbage, looked cool. They had a nice dimension and were fun to look at.
So, after that, I covered the mask in paper mache (which I forgot to take a picture of. Sorry.) and started laying on the wood filler for the mask.
The wood filler was pretty nice to work with, as it allowed for additional sculpting I couldn’t do with the foam. At this point, Con was coming up fast and I was running out of time. I needed to start sanding. Much to my frustration, it was taking forever. I had left many spots unsanded where the filler didn’t quite stick. It was especially noticeable when I started laying on the gesso. Mom was trying to help me realize that the cosplay may not be complete in time and that I should take more time to work on it and just not go in costume. I hated admitting even to myself that she had a point. I refused to believe I couldn’t do it. I wanted to feel like I had accomplished something by finishing this sucker in time for Con. I was already frustrated at the shoddy work and I stormed into my room (I had been working for hours on end in hot weather just outside the house, doing nothing but sanding and laying on gesso).
I had the biggest fit of my life. Tears streamed down my face. I cried and moaned and even screamed. I pounded my bed like an enraged monkey. All these revelations were going through my head during my fit. Then I thought, why not fill the patchy spots with more wood filler, even over the gesso? I had clearly skimped on it anyway. Once my fit was over, I went right back to work with my idea. It worked. After all the patches were filled, I went back to sanding. I filled where I needed to and sanded again until it was all smooth. I accepted that I wouldn’t get it done before Con started and that I’d miss the Undertale meetup, which, yeah, I did miss it.
I spent the next day at Con, taking pictures, marveling at the more impressive costumes and squeed anytime I saw a fellow Undertale cosplayer. I even came across two young ladies dressed as gender-bent Sans and Papyrus. The Papyrus cosplayer was awesome enough to do the voice when I asked if I could take their picture. That, by the way, is something I appreciate with cosplayers, when they not only dress up as a fun character but play the role as well. It really enriches the experience for me.
Later I went to the exhibition hall and stood in line to see renonwed comic artist George Perez. Needless to say, standing in line wasn’t very fun, but I had brought a few prints of my work with me and was determined to have him evaluate it. Seeing him draw and interacting with the fans was definitely a treat. He had such an energy about him that was very infectious. He had a clear love for his work and his fans that he is capable of staying at his booth for hours on end and very rarely take a break. Eventually, I and my sister, who was also there to get her portfolio evaluated, approached him. Sadly, because of how many people were in line to see him, he couldn’t evaluate our portfolios, but he was very nice about it and directed us to another great comic artist named Tony Parker, who I hadn’t heard of until then. He gave me some very good pointers about pushing a character’s pose and about visual flow when it came to comics. Some of what he had to say I had already sort of known, but it was more than valuable hearing his professional opinion. By that time, my feet were screaming at me and we went home.
Over the next couple days, I went back to finishing my cosplay. I worked on the leggings by cutting out some leg bone shapes out of polyester fabric and hand sewed them straight onto the tights as I wore them. Yes, I did poke myself a number of times. I also had to bend over pretty far to reach around my shins and down to my ankles. On top of that, I had gotten back to sanding the mask and spent the rest of the day laying on several coats of gesso. While waiting for the gesso to dry, I went out and bought the slippers I needed. Once the leggings were done, I finished the gesso and painted the inside of the eyesockets black to minimize light reflection. I then painted the little wrinkles under the eyes and the teeth details. After that, I hot glued the once temporary black fabric into the inner edges of the eyesockets and the nose hole. The LEDs I left for absolute last. These were crucial to the entire look. I mean, obviously. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time or the technical know-how for a complex wiring hook-up, so I stuck the LEDs onto two button batteries with black electric tape and then placed them behind the eyesocket fabric using more tape. I also taped tissue paper around the lights to cut down the ultra brightness. And because I have no switch to turn the lights off, the LEDs had to stay lit up. But they functioned and they actually looked pretty frightening, especially in the dark.
Once I’m able to, I’ll go out and get the parts I need to create a proper and better hook-up. I stayed up until after 2am just to see the eyes finished and I still was able to get up early the next day.
And this is what came from it all:
That’s me on the far left along with a bunch of lovely Charas and Frisks. This was the only picture I was able to get of my full costume that day, so I apologize for the cut at the bottom. I assure you I am wearing the slippers here, and they are comfy as hell. The mouth made it a bit hard for people to hear me and some cracks did appear around the edges, but the mask held up very nicely overall. I could not tell you how many people stopped me for a picture. Seeing their faces light up when they saw me made it all worth it. I want to do this again sometime soon, once I’ve made some improvements, and hopefully make it to the next meetup at whatever con may be coming up next in the future. What a journey this was. What an amazing experience! 10/10 Would cosplay again.
Now think about it again. I think Graves has had enough fun times with Newt already. Poor hik
… see, there’s that. It took them five hours of chasing through snow (which Graves hates) and being cold (which Graves hates) and sitting in an elf costume while children smile at him (which Graves really hates) and then there’s an actual mountain of paperwork afterwards to explain not only the reindeer but the impromptu Santa’s grotto going on (and I cannot begin to make you understand how much Graves hates paperwork), but.
Enough fun times?
Newt goes away for a bit. His book is written, the little writing studio he’d concocted in the corner of his suitcase is repurposed into a jarvey nest, and he’s boarded his boat for England. He doesn’t say when he’ll be back, only that he will be back, and when Graves offers to quit his job and come with Newt just waves it off and laughs. It won’t be that long, he says. What would the aurors do without Graves to keep them in line?
(start accidentally following a dark lord is what history suggests, but graves is not being bitter about that oh no)
The first week, Graves manages to work through his backlog of Newt-related paperwork and it’s glorious. He can have coffee without having to make tea (did you know that different teas need to brew for different amounts of time? Who the fuck has time to learn all this shit? Not Graves, that’s who) and he can eat his lunch without fending off the creature of the day from trying to steal bits from his plate. He goes home from work at a reasonable time and he spends his evenings with a brandy and an old book and not gallivanting around the country after Newt and his menagerie. Glorious.
His book throws a twist at him that he didn’t see coming, and at first he’s shocked. Then he rereads the bits so far searching for clues, except there are none. The author has literally pulled this new information out of their ass, how sloppy is that, Graves as a reader is offended by the poor excuse of a deus ex machina.
Newt isn’t there to listen to his complaints.
Graves makes a successful arrest a few days down the line, nice and easy, waltzed in and saved the day. The way a case ought to go.
He’s half way to Jacob’s bakery for celebratory custard tarts before he remembers that Newt isn’t there to share them with him.
The second week happens, and Graves is now blissfully on top of his paperwork and nothing out of the ordinary is going on. He finds a stray cat on his way home from work and pets it, he’s in that good a mood. The cat ends up following him home - it’s probably a kitten, actually, just one with long fur that makes it look bigger than it is. It’s a mottled mess of browns and blacks with long dark opera gloves on its front feet and little white slippers on its back. The colouring probably has a name, but Graves doesn’t know it and Newt isn’t there to ask.
The cat sits on his feet and meows demandingly until he feeds it. He gives it mince and hopes that’s the right food for it, and he spends that evening following it around the house and unhooking its claws from the curtains, the carpets, the cushions on the sofa…
The third week, and still no Newt. Graves has started filing forms in triplicate he’s that efficient about his work and he makes three arrests. One of them was for a murder case. The victim was a little boy, taken for his magic and bled dry of it.
Graves numbly files each copy of his report. No one makes him coffee or gives him a hug or reminds him of the two little girls he rescued from the same fate, so Graves sits in his office and files his reports and gets lost in the boy he couldn’t save.
The cat stays. She’s called Tawny, after the owl, because she looks a bit like an owl. She’s growing fast - almost an inch in just a couple of weeks, and that can’t be normal, but Graves doesn’t have anyone to ask who would know about cats so. He doesn’t ask.
It won’t be that long, Newt said, but Graves drinks his brandy and reads his books and pets his cat and thinks, it’s still too long.
… not that he’ll ever admit he misses the fun times. Not out loud, at least.
Do you have any ideas for a prom dress themed winter in Paris?
I would say it’s all about details! I posted a inspiration moodboard for some ideas, and I’ll make another with some items I found. Might want to keep the colors black and white with clean lines. Since the theme is “ Paris in Winter” if it is cold enough you could do a white stole with a black bow (or vise versa) and long black or white opera gloves. I also found a lot of cool stuff on etsy, sometimes less is more and you could do a pair of Eiffel Tower earrings or Parisian themed clutch. Really whatever works best for you and what makes you feel great 😃
It was around one in the morning, the overcast sky not quite sure if it wanted to rain or not, so instead it resulted in spitting down raindrops on and off all night. The bar was well known for selling illegal alcohol out of its back door, but they covered their tracks well enough that the police couldn’t technically book them for anything. So they remained open, and it was a popular night.
Out back, Nate was enjoying his break between sets by having a smoke in the back alley. But he was quickly approached by a young woman. She wore a boxy flapper dress like most ladies did these days, but her head and shoulders were wrapped with a shawl. She wore long, black opera gloves too.
“Oh my!” She cooed with a smile, “you’re the singer, aren’t you? From inside?” Her eyes twinkled as her lashes batted. She was already starting to blush.
Ripper Street S03E03 (Ashes and Diamonds) - Sophia La Porta as Juniper Kohl wearing a music hall dancer costume - an antique rose lace-trimmed corset with striped satin and embroidered floral inserts, black opera gloves and a matching hat with white ribbon, a full skirt made of black and white tulle.