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 May I Have This Dance?, Maxim
Miranda-Penelope Hale
 Posted: Sep 4 2012, 06:49 PM
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A ball.

Miranda-Penelope did not, as a rule, like balls. She'd been to eleven, and of those, three had involved near-death experiences, although she was the only one at any of them who had read them that way. There was a reason she was rumored to have delicate dispositions. But it her mother was absolutely, positively not declining this invitation (and had hinted that there would be some eligible young men there, and that she would be terribly disappointed if no catching happened) and so they were obliged to go. Not Alexander, lucky thing--he wasn't yet old enough, and so he was staying home with his nanny. Not that he would have any trouble with parties; he was showing no signs of any strangeness. It might just be that he'd learned to hide it, but a lady could hope.

She wore identical dresses--one in mauve, one in periwinkle. She'd worn them only once before, and they'd been significantly altered since then, mostly to accommodate the busts she pretended to have and the inches she'd added to her heights. (She did hope the padding would stay where it ought to; it was exceedingly troublesome to have to excuse herself to fix it. At least she had the advantage of two pairs of hands and eyes.) "I am utterly not looking forwards to next week's call," she muttered to herself, and rolled her other pair of eyes. Her mother huffed. But it was true. Donna Ambilshore bored her almost to sleep. The woman knew how to organize, and she was accounted charming, but to Miranda-Penelope she was about as interesting as mold on bread.

The carriage rocked to a stop; her father climbed out and helped her mother and then her selves down. There was a flurry of activity, and Miranda-Penelope got her coats off. She squeezed her hand--I have done this before, and I will do it again, she thought--and the four of them swept into the ballroom proper.
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Maxim Dashkov
 Posted: Sep 5 2012, 08:51 PM
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Max had never been the biggest fan of balls. Even in his youth, when he had danced with all and any available girl in the room, he had thought them to be over decorated affairs, filled with overdressed and dull people. As he had grown up, his attitude had gotten little better and had in fact got worse when his daughters had come of age. Normally, he would lurk at the edge, providing as much social contact as was required to keep people quiet. Max was known to be quiet and enigmatic (so he had been told, they were not words that he would choose to describe himself with) but he knew full well that there was a very thin line between socially acceptable and rude with these people. He was unable to see the reason for it, but his wife would never forgive him if he embarrassed her somehow and though there was a lot that could be said about Maxim Dashkov, he never liked to disappoint his wife. Unless, of course, it couldn't be helped. Maxim was rarely to be seen in society and so many of the other guests didn't quite realise who he was. Perfect for Max, of course, annoying for his wife who continued to be asked questions and who continually attempted to silently signal him over when the conversation arose. That was a dangerous territory into which Max had no intention of exploring.

As it was, Katherine had abandoned him to the conversations of her friends, the single son they had brought with them had declined to brood on the outskirts of society with him and, well, Max was bored. Twice now, he had taken young ladies for a turn about the floor at the request of the host and almost immediately had made his attempt to be unnoticed for the evening. There were people who he didn't recognise, a young man in the corner of the room who he was sure that he recognised from one of his files.

Something, however, distracted him before he could make his way over. The entrance of another group of guests caught Max's attention, the glee he felt at actually knowing (and caring) about somebody forcing him into a rare smile.

"Hale!" Maxim practically glowed with enthusiasm at the sight of the man. "It has been far too long, my friend. And Mrs Hale, you look as beautiful as ever."
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Miranda-Penelope Hale
 Posted: Sep 6 2012, 08:59 PM
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Maxim Dashkov. A friend of her father's--not involved with business in any way (she'd had one of the footmen pay one of his maids to explain what his job had been, and come up with exactly nothing useful). He seemed kind enough, and had two daughters who were several years older than her. And one son, who was almost exactly her age. Oh, dear. Her mother was going to try something, most likely, and there was no way to stop it that wouldn't be unthinkably, horrifically rude. The only good thing about this situation was that no one might ask her to dance, now when she was engaged in conversation. Which was not a lot of comfort.

Certainly enough, her mother demurred modestly and said, "And you remember my daughters, don't you, Mr. Dashkov? Miranda is in the mauve--" Miranda-Penelope inclined the appropriate head "--and Penelope is in the periwinkle." And the other. "You can remember because of the first letters, you see." Her mother, thank God, did not bring up Dashkov's son straight away. It would have been extremely forward of her to do so, and so she withheld the question. For the moment, anyway.
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Maxim Dashkov
 Posted: Sep 7 2012, 01:23 PM
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"Of course, Miss Miranda, Miss Penelope" He inclined his head to each girl in turn, accompanied by a bright smile. The girls, he assumed, were less interested in his conversation than they were in the young gentlemen who were dotted about the room. His own daughters had always been the same way, making it very difficult for him to keep track of them at times. "It is a pleasure"

It had been many years since Max had last seen the girls, they can't have been any more than four or five at the time, though Katherine had often come back to him with stories of them, whether he had wanted to hear it or not. He had been much more interested in their father, but Katherine had been hinting about something to do with Hamish and one one of the girls. Maxim hadn't taken much notice, but now he was wishing he had taken more notice. Where was that boy, he could help out here. Maxim was out of his depth talking to teenage girls who weren't Wonders- then it wasn't so much talking as interrogation, but it worked out the same. He just didn't really know what to say. "I believe the last time we met, you didn't much like me. As I recall, I had neglected to bring presents for your birthday. How foolish of me, I appear to have repeated my mistake" There. That wasn't destroying any social protocols, was it?
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Miranda-Penelope Hale
 Posted: Sep 12 2012, 09:36 PM
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"The feeling is mutual, Mr. Dashkov," she said. Two smiles back, one slightly more reserved than the other. The appearance of individuality came in all the little things. (And attention to such small details allowed her leeway in larger ones, such as switching mouths in the middle of a sentence.)

At his joke, Miranda-Penelope looked down and away with one body and with the other put up a hand to cover her smiles, as was polite. She didn't even remember that (her memories of anything before her first periods were fuzzy and spotted with gaps that she had to fill in as best she could with portraits and family stories and anecdotes such as this). "I think we can find it in our hearts to forgive you," she said, and then with her other mouth, "You'll find we're much different people now than we were at four."

The music began, then, and her parents bowed and excused themselves, and that meant she was now vulnerable to invitations to dance. Which she could not, in all politeness, turn down. Unless she faked a swoon of some sort, but she had never been good at that. She'd tried, certainly, but even to her own eyes it had looked disjointed and obviously false no matter how many times she practiced. But it wasn't as though this was the first time she would have to deal with this sort of thing.

A youngish, dark-haired man came up to the pair of them (he might have been dashing, if she'd enjoyed that sort of thing) and bowed to the body in periwinkle. "If I may have the honor of this dance?" Damn and blast. She needed someone to dance with the one in mauve immediately, or this could get very nasty. (Her mother would never forgive her if she were to faint barely ten minutes after their arrival.) The only man close enough was Mr. Dashkov, and he would have to do. So while she spoke the necessary pleasantries and extended the correct hand, with her other set of eyes she sent him the best please ask me to dance look she could manage. It was a pleading sort of expression that she hoped would be given the correct meaning by the fact her "sister" was currently accepting an invitation to dance and she hadn't yet been asked. If he didn't interpret it the correct way, she would have to find some other solution.

Unfortunately, at the moment she was having a bit of a problem thinking of another resolution, due to the unpleasant stretching sensation beneath her collarbones. He'd better read her face the correct way, or this could go badly, to say the least.
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Maxim Dashkov
 Posted: Sep 17 2012, 01:48 PM
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They were charming girls, there was no doubt about that. Max could barely remember them as children, but as young adults, they were captivating. This was clearly evidenced by the fact that one girl was whisked away to dance by a young man almost as quickly as the music began. New dancers and partners were milling towards the dance floor, leaving Maxim quite happy in his sudden isolation with the remaining twin. She, however, didn't seem to enjoy the fact so much. Almost as quickly as her sister left, the remaining girl (Miranda? Possibly, Max couldn't be too sure, even with the clever method their mother had given him) had turned her gaze towards Max in what clearly must have been desperation.

Maxim was not a good dancer, it was as simple as that. He knew the movements, yes, but be simply wasn't smooth or flexible enough to make it look impressive, or something more than going through the motions. Now that Hale had melted into the background of people and the poor girl's sister was gone, Max could only really see the option of asking her to dance. Clearly she wanted him to, from the look of pitiful pleading in the girl's face. It was desperation and it didn't take somebody like Max to see that.

He couldn't leave her without a partner, it would simply not be proper. With a smile, Max extended a hand towards the girl. "May I have this dance Miss Hale?" He took a step towards his prospective partner, closing the gap between them to a matter of inches. There was also the chance that she might decide that her prospects would be better with a different partner. Max, for one, wouldn't have blamed her in the slightest.
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Miranda-Penelope Hale
 Posted: Sep 19 2012, 10:09 AM
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The world flipped into overdrive.

It always did, when she had to push herself this way. She didn't enjoy it--her vision fuzzed at the corners, and she slept for almost twice as long when she went to bed after. It was her bodies' way of saying this is not acceptable. Unfortunately, necessary trumped acceptable in this case.

With one body, she smiled and demurred and laughed at a joke that wasn't funny, gently steering her partner around the edges of the dance. With the other, she let the desperate look fade from her face. "You may, Mr. Dashkov," she said, and took his hand. He wasn't a very good dancer, which was perfectly alright. The ones who didn't dance well were easier to lead.

Unfortunately, sometimes luck intervened where skill was supposed to keep things on an even keel. Her other partner (whose name she couldn't remember for her life, was it John?) seemed to realize he wasn't quite in charge. He was larger than her, and stronger, and she couldn't get Mr. Dashkov to turn quite in time, and then she was more than twelve feet apart from herself.

Oh, spit.

Pain stabbed through her heads and her chests and she felt her breath catch in her throats. "I need," she said, and coughed. Keep it quiet or Mother will never, never forgive you, she told herself, and managed not to have a coughing fit. "To sit down. I'm sorry, it's the heat--" Probably-John said something about an iced drink and headed for the edge of the floor--the other edge--and her pulse spiked. "Over there, please." She hoped Mr. Dashkov would be thrown enough by having a young woman almost fainting on him that he wouldn't question it, because at the moment she was in no state to do anything other than ask politely and remind her lungs how they were supposed to function.

She absolutely hated feeling helpless.
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Maxim Dashkov
 Posted: Sep 24 2012, 02:36 PM
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That was surprising. In the space of a few seconds, it seemed, the girl had gone from having the strength to attempt (and very nearly succeed) to steer him, to practically dropping in a swoon. He may have only spoken to her for a few minutes and in very little depth at that, but he felt sure that any Hale girl would not be so quick to go. Max tightened his grip, both so that he would be able to lead her and support her in the direction that she had indicated. For all of her leanness, Miranda (or was it Penelope?) was surprisingly heavy, all of her strength was apparently pouring into the attempt to get them over to her sister.

He scanned the room for Hale and his wife, but found only curious and pitying stares. Nobody moved to help, apparently deciding that Max had the situation in hand. He was a Doctor, after all, even if he was non-practising and had been so for many years. The search, however, brought up and interesting discovery. The other twin seemed to be experiencing the same difficulties as Max's partner, with the young man carefully fanning the girl and clearly on the edge of panic.

Max shook his head. This was ridiculous. He was looking for Wonders everywhere and Hale's girls were clearly not the sort. It was some sort of hysteria brought on by the separation, the girls were clearly very close and Penelope's (Miranda's?) anxiety at being left alone without her sister clearly proved that. Clearly. He was being overly suspicious...but it wouldn't hurt to experiment a little. He tightened his grip. "No no, my dear, it will be much quieter for you over here. Away from the crowds" The crowds were indeed beginning to form around the other girl, offering to fetch her a drink or find her mother. It would of course be better for her to be away from all of that. Max wasn't entirely sure what his suspicion was, but either way, the girl could do with being...talked to.
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Miranda-Penelope Hale
 Posted: Sep 24 2012, 07:00 PM
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"No," Miranda-Penelope said, feeling her breath catch in her throat. She forced both of her bodies to stay steady--if she were to faint outright, it would case a terrible scene for which her mother would never forgive her. And she might not wake up again. (Priorities, priorities. She swallowed down a completely inappropriate giddy laugh.) At least she was saying this with only one mouth. God Himself only knew what would happen if she were observed to be having conversations with the air. "I assure you I know what would be best for me--"

At the same moment, she was attempting to deflect the crowd forming around her other body. Multitasking--always a strength of hers by necessity, but never something she enjoyed, and especially at a time like this. She was trying to move so as to stay in the range that was required for her hearts to keep beating, and it was exceedingly hard to do so subtly. "I am positive," she told them, trying not to mangle the sound, "That I shall be perfectly alright once I've had something cold to drink and a bit of a sit-down. If someone could fetch one for my sister as well, that would be lovely, I'm sure she's having the same trouble. Thank you, Mr. Murphy." She smiled at James Murphy, and hoped he didn't take it the wrong way. "I"m sure you've heard of this happening before, it's very unfortunate. I do love balls so, you see, but I don't get to dance very long. Mr. Dashkov, if you would be so kind as to escort me to my sister--"

These things happened at the same time: she stumbled in the midst of taking Hamish Dashkov's arm (and he caught her, lovely boy), she stepped rather hard on the elder Mr. Dashkov's foot, and her pulse rocketed alarmingly high. Her vision began to gray out at the edges, and she kept glimpsing little flashes of light. Damn and double damn. "Mr. Dashkov," she said with both mouths, "If you could hurry, I would be much obliged." It sounded as though she were whispering, although she knew her voice was at a perfectly normal level. It was just that her pulse was pounding so loudly in her head that she could barely hear a thing.
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Maxim Dashkov
 Posted: Oct 4 2012, 05:27 PM
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Clearly, Max was outnumbered by his opponents in what to do with the girl. Whatever was actually happening, Max was certain that it would be better to get the girl on her own for a few minutes, rather than pandering to her panic. Worse, Max's own son had been wrangled to help guide Max and his partner over to her sister. He relented, mainly for ease. He retained his grip on the girl's arm and allowed himself to be lead to the other side of the room, with Hamish's eager face hovering only a few steps ahead in a state of near panic. Stupid boy, caught in the drama of the situation, as was his way (Max's, too, though he would never admit to it) and ever ready to catch favour with a pretty girl.

The moment Max could see the other twin, he relaxed. Though the girl was surrounded, no damage seemed to have been caused, though she, too, seemed to be in the midst of hysterics. He had never known such a thing to occur before, though he would be the first to admit that his experience with teenage female twins was severely limited. He was, however, convinced that having a crowd was the least helpful thing, with or without his suspicions.

"I suggest" Max began, drawing himself to his full height, "That we leave these girls in peace to catch their breath again" He looked to each girl, for support "Ladies?"

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Miranda-Penelope Hale
 Posted: Oct 8 2012, 09:52 PM
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Oh, thank God, she thought. Her vision cleared and her heart rates slowed and she could breathe again. (Breathing was, in Miranda-Penelope's opinion, quite under-appreciated.) She couldn't waste too much time on her own relief, however. She had a show to put on. "Penelope, darling," she said, holding out the arms of the periwinkle-clad body. Too late, she remembered that this body was supposed to be Penelope--but what was done was done. It was even worse of a mistake this time, however, what with her mother's clever little trick of remembering which one of "them" was which.

Perhaps no one would notice. She certainly hoped so.

"Miranda," she said, and kissed her other body on the cheek. "Are you alright?"

"I'm quite fine, dear, but about what you? Ah, Mr. Murphy, thank you." She took both drinks from him, still with the periwinkle-clad body, and passed one off to the mauve-clad one.

"I'm well, Pen. How kind of you, Mr. Murphy," she went on, and smiled with both mouths. "And I believe the elder Mr. Dashkov is right, it would be best if my sister and I were to have a bit of a rest, away from the crowd."
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