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 #34314  by Everevna
 
Location: Villiers Homestead, Surrey, England • Date: Sunday, 17 August 2003

ALICE CALVERT VILLIERS

There were times she wondered if her marriage might be different if her third child were to have never been born. Notwithstanding the near-death experience that was delivering her youngest, her third pregnancy had been the most difficult of them all. Surprising, considering how everyone and their house elves had insisted nearly the entire time her belly swelled for the first time that the first delivery would be terrifically arduous. It remained an elusive mystery why it was, then, with Oliver Henry and Tamsin, that she had been blessed with relatively quick, comfortable birthings.

Margo was a different story. From the set out, the strange, tingling sensation all over her body that had made her realise she was with child the first and second time was this time less tingling and more... literal pins and needles. For the next eight months, everything ached, as if her body was churning inside out in protest to having to carry yet another child so soon after the last. In hindsight, perhaps it had been a soundless cry of warning. Perhaps long before Alice herself saw the fissure cracks in her marriage that would eventually become an unbridgeable gulf, the most primal instincts of her biological existence had foreseen the future that would follow Margo's arrival into the family.

Then again, perhaps the fissures had started long before the Merlin-awful time in which she was juggling a young child and two babies, somehow unable to find any joy in motherhood and feeling even worser for it.

There was a name for it now, she heard—postpartum depression.

The pains she went through in carrying Margo made it small wonder that despite how unlike the sophisticated, self-assured woman she hoped Margo would be that Margo really was, and despite how Oliver and she had not quite began to drift apart until after Margo's birth no matter how early on signs had been there, Alice still loved her girl fiercely and dearly. In her mind, the mother liked to think that she loved all her children equally, but surely it cannot be done and any parent who dared claim to not have at least the slightest shade of preference must be a liar. Oliver certainly had his favourites. It took a blind, senile, and halfwit troll to miss the way her husband doted over their older daughter at his right side, the way the pair exchanged the odd look over some mention here and there in the conversation which suggested a secret or an inside joke only the two of them knew of.

At least no one had unleashed a snarky barb at another yet, or had put in the sufficient effort to keep any such barb artfully veiled, and they were already about finishing the main course in a five-course meal Alice had painstakingly devised to include all of Margo's favourite dishes. A successful birthday dinner, all in all, even if one did not wish to speak too soon.

(Though, fish and chips? What had she just been saying about Margo's anomaly? The matriarch insisted on using brill instead of cheap cod, but there was only so much one can do about fish and chips.)

"Don't stuff yourself if you're full," Alice reassured her birthday child who was given the seat of honour that Tamsin typically occupied on the left side of the family patriarch at the opposite head of the dining table. Margo's usual seat between her younger siblings was given instead to the littlest Eliza for the one special evening.

"We do have dessert, and cake, and might I say, I think the best dish for you is yet to come. Though now that I am saying it, that does rather give it away, doesn't it?" Instinctively, she glanced then to her fourth, her dearest, who sat right to her across from Oliver Henry on her left. For some reason, Arthur was the singular member of the family who despised anything overly sweet where the others had some degree of inclination toward a sweet tooth. "Don't worry, darling, we have something else for you, too, of course."

                            b. 1950 — pureblood aristocrat
 #34331  by Everevna
 
TAMSIN VILLIERS

There were times she wondered what went on in her mother's beautiful, blonde head. From Alice's agreeable demeanour and the way not one strand was out of place in her signature, infuriatingly elegant, irreplicable chignon bas tonight, it was impossible to tell that only a fortnight ago the matriarch, in the midst of inspecting a lovely lavender Bonheur cape, had blithely asked Tamsin if the eldest Villiers daughter's opinion had changed about whether she thought her father was indeed having an affair as word had it on the devil's snare vine.

What kind of opinion was a child to have on that?

(The cape, on the other hand, was easy enough. Tamsin agreed aloud that it would look very fetching and qualified silently with 'hung in the darkest, deepest abyss of Margo's predominantly black wardrobe'. Supposedly, 'any colour can be black if you go dark enough', as Margo often quoted from some band musician in the 80's or whatever.)

Not that she didn't have one. When it came to her parents' marriage, Tamsin had as many opinions as she had none at all. And not that her opinion was entirely unchanged as it was... unchanged. Both were the honest, heartfelt truths, but honest, heartfelt truths were thorny and difficult and best when put out of sight and out of mind. Instead, Alice's oldest girl had shrugged and quickly channelled her attentions to a feathered cloak in a most confused palette that would be met with dismay even by the colour-loving Eliza.

"People are always talking. I'm sure it's nothing to be concerned by."

A lie, but what did they call some lies that were necessary for the greater good and peace? White lies? "Did he tell you why he was going to Dubai? Whether he has company?"

"I don't think so. He just said he needs to secure a contract with a hotel group."

A half-truth was also a lie, but perhaps a half lie, since it was half truth?

"That's all? He hasn't spoken to you about anything more? Nothing about the rumours?" Ah, yes, the rumours. The ones which started in low whispers as early on as late last winter shortly before Tamsin and Ciceron unceremoniously called off a near-two-year relationship—the longest she'd ever had. The ones her father effectively confirmed to her which, alongside a failed relationship that saw a marriage proposal yet remained till today unbeknownst by five of her six family members, had resulted in the Healer up and departing—escaping?—the continent altogether only to return to louder rumours she now knew were more than rumours and an ex who'd married into the family he probably should've dated in from the start. Delightful.

"No."

This one, she couldn't spin. This one was going to send her to Hell with no questions asked.

She envied her siblings at times, as much as she was relieved for their sakes. Ollie's experience might at least in some small way be closer to her own, but Margo, Arthur, and Eliza weren't being peppered every now and then with questions like these; and certainly not one of any of her four siblings were being involuntarily inundated throughout their lives with unwanted details of their parents' marriage. Should she have said no more to their father? But then who would share his burdens; whose favourite child would the daughter be? Not Alice's. No, Alice's favourite was made so abundantly clear and took up so much space that there was barely breathing room for any of the rest except maybe Margo.

From her seat at their father's right hand side, Tamsin briefly failed to resist the compelling urge to roll her eyes at their mother's remark to Arthur, though hopefully no one noticed or if they did, no one would pick on it. She pushed around at her steamed puffapod peas with the edge of her fork and tilted her head with some genuine curiosity, notwithstanding the slight hint of what would probably be perceived as obnoxious by Arthur with some degree of objectivity to it.

"How do you cope working there everyday anyway? Do you just gag every time someone asks for the Unprecedented Ultimatum for Unicorn Lovers?"

Tamsin had too much attachment to overly sweet flavourings in her coffees than she'd like, but the 20-inch-tall sickeningly purple monstrosity complete with a glittery upside-down waffle cone that Florean Fortescue's called a sundae still made her stomach churn slightly.

                     b. 1979 — halfblooded witch — st. mungo's healer
 #34379  by Nik
 
ELIZA AMELIA LUCY VILLIERS

Of course, she heard the rumours over the years. The question really was, who hadn’t? Eliza would often overhear girls she didn’t know, whispering about her father, giggling and throwing her strange looks. But it was teenage gossip, handed down to them by their parents who clearly had never grown up. Eliza would put on a brave face, act as though it didn’t bother her but as much as she ever hated to admit it, it bothered her more than anything else.

For the youngest of the Villiers clan, family and reputation meant everything. In all honesty she probably cared most about the family’s reputation than everyone else in her family, apart from maybe her mother. She would laugh off the rumours or threaten to start equally as horrific ones about other students’ parents. She knew how social status and social ladders worked and Eliza worked hard to make sure herself and her family stayed on top. What was the point if one didn’t have a reputation to uphold?

But it was easy to laugh it off when you knew so well that all the rumours were lies. Her father, the good, honourable man that he was, would never do such nasty things behind her mother’s back. No. These were rumours started by petty, jealous individuals who wanted to see the collapse of the Villiers-Calvert clan. And Eliza would make sure nothing would come about for that to happen.

However, it was moments like this that made Eliza happiest. When her family were together without any bickering or fighting that so often occurred when the whole family were together. Of course, get any seven people with very different personalities into the same home for any amount time and some sort of argument is bound to take place. Luckily, this time, there was yet to be any hint of arguing. It was probably best. These days, the family so rarely got together now that most of the Villiers children had moved out of the familial Surrey home. The large house often got very lonely without her four siblings and Eliza was glad to have them back, even if it was only for a day or two.

She glanced across the table at her two eldest siblings, and to nobody’s surprise, her clear favourites. It wasn’t that she disliked Margo or Arthur, far from it, but Tamsin and Oliver Junior were idols to youngest Eliza. They were what she wanted to be. Tamsin’s honour, Oliver’s success. She wanted to be the perfect mix of both of them but also, she just wanted to be herself.

She perked up at Tamsin’s comment to Arthur. It did always upset her that Tamsin didn’t always get along as well with other members of the family as Eliza tried to. Oftentimes, Eliza felt like she was the only thread holding together the family. The glue that made sure they all communicated. And it was easier to hold a family together when they at least tried to get along. Yes, it was tough work, but Eliza took it in her stride. It was what she done best.

“I’m sure it would be great working there, right Arthur?” Eliza replied to her sisters comment before turning to her older brother, flashing a bright smile at him. “Imagine all the brilliant flavours you’d get to try. It would really be a dream!”


                            b. 1986 — halfblood witch — slytherin
 #34645  by Kai
 
ARTHUR THEODORE LEO VILLIERS

This was his least favorite. Family dinners, entertaining the notion of a normal family life. There was never such a thing, but the Villiers loved to play at it. It was the one thing they all excelled at, especially the ones that always saw something wrong. His family was one of many who did this sort of thing but the oddity in their dynamic was not the playing at a happy family, but rather that there were so many of them that at times the cracks in their armors would show.

Unfortunately, for Arthur Villiers this was undeniably true. He always felt burdened by the knowledge that his mother was always ever so delighted by his existence, wishing her to forget him. He did not want to delight her, he only wanted to act the way he desired. Without any dignity or nobility that his older brother often would show to the world. It was without a doubt a mystery how Oliver Jr. was able to act the way he did at any given moment; and it almost always put Arthur in a horribly sour mood.

Yet, he delighted his mother with his existence nonetheless. Played the part of a faithful son even when he felt the most pressure to lash out. Although admittedly at times, he did. Alice seemed to ignore this when it happened though, perhaps she chalked it up to stress? Arthur couldn't quite tell and he didn't care enough to ask her. It didn't seem of great importance that he know what his mother, what their mother felt when he betrayed her trust, or broke her fairy tale fantasies of who he truly was. Arthur Villiers was not quite the charming boy that so many might have thought him to be.

He and Tamsin? Well, they had always been at some kind of odds. Whether as children arguing about one thing or another - mostly the fact that Tamsin was older and therefore went to Hogwarts before him, got a wand before him, and had older interests which made Arthur even more prone to disliking his sister - or now where she jabbed at him verbally regarding his mediocre profession that bordered on less than mediocre.

Then there was sweet innocent little Eliza that was always idolizing the older siblings as if they were some kind of religious figures. That prickled at Arthur too, not because she idolized them. But because she was seemingly naive enough to do so.

Either way, Arthur was easily irked by the things that went on in his family and more recently it seemed that he had more than enough reason to be irritated. It took someone truly deaf and blind to not see the dynamic shit, become stiff and awkward as if the cogs had stopped turning or were on their ways to being gunked up and rusted.

This dinner was just an attempt at normalcy, as per usual. Except, a far more desperate attempt. So there he sat eyeing everyone until Tamsin regarded him.

"I cope by keeping my mouth shut," He responded putting a bite of food in his mouth before his gaze moved to Eliza, at first sharp he regarded her more softly.

"I wouldn't say so. It's how you gain weight... A lot of weight."
                            b. 1985 — halfblood wizard — stock clerk
 #35518  by Nik
 
OLIVER THEODORE JAMES VILLIERS

Oliver loved his family. How could he not? They were his own flesh and blood and he did treasure them all dearly. Some, however, more than others. To his right was his favourite child (although he never outrightly admitted it.) The father-daughter bond they shared was certainly stronger than the bond he had with his wife. He told Tamsin everything. And oftentimes he probably told her too much.

He had never meant to tell his daughter about the affair. It just…happened. After months of lying to everyone, he felt he had to have an out. Someone to vent to. And Tamsin just happened to be in the right place at the right time. And once he started..well he just didn’t stop.

Was Oliver Senior completely to blame for his multiple and currently ongoing affairs? In his mind, not completely. The marriage between two former lovebirds had begun to breakdown a long time ago. But at one point, Oliver did love Alice Calvert deeply and truly. The two had fallen in love at a young age but with time came lies, bitterness and resentment.

Oliver Senior sat at the head of the family table. He ate slowly, mainly keeping his head down as his wife spoke to her favourite child. This was the first time the family had been together in quite some time so Oliver was making a particular effort to not set his wife off into some rage that she had been experiencing as of late. He glanced at Tamsin, noting her eye-roll at his mother's comment. He continued eating as his offspring conversed around the table.

Eventually, as a slight lull descended the table, Oliver decided this was his time to speak and get some sort of conversation flowing from his family instead of the awkwardness that had been present until now.

“Eliza,” the accountant began, “How are you feeling about your final year at Hogwarts?” he asked, taking a sip of wine before continuing. “Have you been thinking about what you’re going to do after you graduate?”



                            b. 1949 — halfblood wizard— accountancy owner