Previous Next

Full Coverage

Posted on Mon Mar 18th, 2024 @ 11:07 by Shauna Murphy & Deidre "Dee" Fraser & Sarah Bright

Chapter: Winter's Crest Festival
Location: Front foyer, Avalon Institute
Timeline: 11:30am, Wednesday 9th December
2445 words - 4.9 OF Standard Post Measure

Shauna had known, the minute she'd allowed Cavendish to talk her into this House Elder business, that there would be a catch. There had been numerous occasions after their discussion where the young mutant had been quietly disappointed in herself for agreeing so quickly, a hasty decision that flew in the face of the due diligence she'd always been raised to favour. Not surprising given her skillset, reconnaissance was second-nature to Shauna and it went against the grain to have thrown herself into extra responsibilities without having taken some time to brush up on her understanding of what they actually were. It didn't matter that she should have known; having disqualified herself under the assumption that the head mistress would never promote a previous troublemaker to a role of leadership, she'd just stopped paying attention to what it was the house representatives actually did. Apparently, one of the things was entertaining visitors whilst certain members of staff took their sweet time keeping appointments.

"It shouldn't be too much longer," she attempted a polite reassurance, though she wasn't sure if the woman currently gawping at the main entrance's chandelier was really all that worried about the delay. Shauna couldn't help but be faintly impressed by the woman's turn-out, having never seen anyone wear a travelling suit outside of the theatre. It ought to have looked ridiculously out of place and yet Avalon maintained enough of its original charm for the student to be the one rendered slightly awkward by her far more mundane uniform. There wasn't anything practical about the woman's outfit, of course, and she certainly wouldn't have been able to move around unencumbered in it. Still...

For her part, Dee was already enjoying herself enormously. There had been a temptation, only partially resisted, to linger outside amongst the garden beds when she'd first arrived, entranced already by the number of heritage varieties she could identify in the rose bushes alone. There had been a slight moment of embarrassment when the head mistress had sprung her there, nose buried in one of the centifolias, and might have continued had the freelancer any awareness of the speck of pollen still dabbed on the end of it. Now left to wait in the foyer, Dee would have been equally as content to have been left to her own devices, though she remembered once in a while to offer the student entrusted with her safe delivery into the expectant hands of her tour guide a vague smile. Her notebook had been pulled out a long while back, and amidst the scribbled observations was the occasional sketch, which would eventually compliment whatever photographs she could arrange once she had hands free for the camera around her neck. Unlike Shauna, the delighted reporter seemed utterly unaware of just how far past her appointment time it actually was.

In official capacities, Sarah's approach was one usually heard from a ways off, due to the rhythmic clitter-clatter of her heels. At first it had been simply a necessary by-product of her developing personal taste in shoes, but she's grown to appreciate always having an entrance. As a woman who flourished under structure and ritual habits, Sarah still felt routinely out of step with the world around her, and as silly as it sounded, it only took something as simple as amplified footsteps to make her feel... more in-step.

It was an illusion, of course. Or was it? The day's break in routine surely provided some food for thought on the matter.

Rounding the corner at speed, Sarah's silent steps came to a literal screeching halt as her sneakers caught the freshly waxed floor at just the right angle to announce her otherwise stealthy approach with a squeak so loud, one could almost picture a basketball in her hands. She quickly regained her composure with an almost comical show of finesse that hinted at a level of dexterity far greater than her mannerisms and style typically let on.

"Welcome to the Avalon Institute, Miss Fraser, I apologize for making you wait." Sarah said warmly, after a moment of googly-eyed gawking at the reporter's attire. The woman looked like she was the one who owned the place, and not just visiting. "And thank you Miss Murphy, I'm sorry for keeping you as well." Sarah added, turning to Shauna. In normal circumstances she maintained a one-way first-name basis with virtually all of the students, but for a House Elder it seemed only proper to offer a bit more in the way of professional respect.

At least one of them was being professional, and it certainly wasn't Sarah. She was what, eight minutes late? She'd made one last, frantic effort to search for her missing pumps, but alas, they were lost to the ages. And even with all of our outfits essentially the same, there had still been the debate over what to wear for her crush, who'd been offered a surprise dinner invite by her folks... or so it felt. The green sweater over a white button-up blouse, or the red? No, she'd worn the red the last time she met Dee. And then of course the endless debate on what color plaid skirt, even though all of them were essentially the same three colors, if in different variations. Even though she wasn't wearing the student uniform colors, she somehow still always looked like one.

About time.

It didn't take a telepath to interpret the neutral deadpan Shauna offered the librarian. To the distracted, which definitely described the third member of the impromptu trio, it likely wouldn't register as anything other than due diligence but to those who had encountered the young mutant at all, Shauna's capacity for conveying a withering sense of disapproval without raising an eyebrow was renown. Nobody would guess that she actually quite liked Sarah, or at least found her an interesting variation on the previous occupants of the role who tended to suspect and blame without proof. She'd always known they had no proof; she took great care to make sure she left none behind.

"Miss Cavendish asked me to tell you that you can take as much time as you need and to use your best discretion in regards to what would best feature the Institute as part of this publicity stunt." The words had sounded exactly like Claire, all the way up until the last. Shauna glanced then at the wandering Dee, who was inspecting a cornice and hadn't really acknowledged Sarah's arrival yet. "Some first years expect to get away with a food fight in the cafeteria in about twenty minutes," she added casually, her choice of wording conveying her expectations of their success. Looking back to Sarah, Shauna finally quirked an eyebrow. "You might want to avoid that unless irate Frenchman sounds like a good ambassador."

"Quite right..." Sarah said, her attention somewhat detached from her response as she couldn't help but remember the last time she'd gotten caught up in a food fight... and then almost plunged head-first down a flight of stairs. Her rescuer, Cameron, had nearly mistaken the bit of projectile jello seeping down from her scalp as brain matter. And after her friendship and gratitude, this was how he repaid her? The nerve of the man! Surely this tour had been meant for him, until he'd tossed her name into the mix. Surely it had to be him. He was, after all, the only other person on Earth who knew about her developing feelings for Dee. The reporter herself probably didn't even know. So much for trying to keep things on the down low.

"Miss Fraser, can I take your coat? Your outfit is delectable, by the way. You already look right at home here. Before we get started, would you like a photograph to mark the occasion? Perhaps with one of our future ambassadors, for posterity? I've been known to frame a decent shot from time to time." Sarah asked smoothly and with an easy smile, favoring Shauna with a momentary variation of it that was only slightly impish. If she wanted to go right out and call this out for what this was, a publicity stunt, then she could do her part to make a success.

This time, the disparaging resignation in Shauna's brief eye contact was hard to miss, though she would have bet money on the ginger-haired reporter barely remembering she existed. True to expectations, Deidre turned as the second use of her name finally roused her attention and, after the obligatory moment taken to look utterly perplexed, smiled warmly at the librarian. She may have been several shades of impressive oblivious to most things when her mind was completely occupied by speculation but Dee could at least remember that she'd enjoyed the woman's company over tea and, if she recalled properly, ghost-shaped cookies.

"Sarah," she greeted, absent of any formality and yet demonstrating an impressive ability to recall detail despite appearances suggesting she couldn't even remember her own name. Blue eyes sparkled in what presented as very genuine pleasure at seeing the other woman again, so much so that Shauna was left to flit her gaze back and forth between the pair before rolling her eyes seemed a permissible frustration. Deidre remained clueless. "I think I will keep my coat, if it's all the same," she responded apologetically. "I may have misjudged how cold these old heritage buildings get during winter. But I was just thinking some shots in the main foyer here would be lovely." Reaching up, the reporter unwound the strap from her neck and held out the camera, though it wasn't pressed into Sarah's expectant hands but offered, instead, to a somewhat taken-aback Shauna. "One together first, then perhaps Miss Murphy would pose for one at the base of the stairs."

Miss Murphy, who was fast growing to detest the formality, managed a thin-lipped smile. Then, swiveling towards Sarah, the student lifted both eyebrows in mock graciousness. "Where would the pair of you like to huddle up?"

"Right here, I think." Sarah said, not missing a beat over Dee preferring to keep her coat. She often misjudged the effect temperature had on personal comfort. She hadn't even missed a beat at Dee remembering her name either, which for some reason she had not been expecting. She must've made quite an impression, but then again, that devastatingly perfect capture of her tripping over her own feet, arms cartwheeling, expression just on the verge of realizing that she was about to topple another contestant with her had made it onto the front page of the local newspaper. Of course she'd made an impression.

The spot Sarah indicated had a nice wall tapestry featuring the local tartan, which would make a good backdrop. The lighting was perfect too, with a shaft of natural light coming in through a high window close enough to where they stood. The flash might not even be necessary, though one never knew with old buildings. She'd let Dee be the judge of that, and instruct Shauna accordingly.

As she moved to stand near Dee, she tried to take cues from her on how to pose for the shot. But then again, it didn't really matter. Deidre was dressed perfectly, in the haute couture of the castle's waning heyday. And then there was Sarah, who couldn't even manage a decent pair of shoes to wear. She desperately hoped that Shauna would frame their shot from the shins up, but knew that any such hopes were forlorn, at best.

The ensuing list of instructions was enough to drag Shauna's patience all the way to its limits. In typical teenage fashion, (or perhaps a mixture of teenage attitude and just Shauna-being-Shauna), her annoyance got in the way of what would otherwise have been a degree of fascination, not only for their visitor and her strangely eccentric appearance, but in watching the librarian bumble about an attempt at a tour. The fleeting temptation of tailing the pair had already been and gone, however, squashed by a burgeoning consent to focus her talents away from idle mischief and an over-arching sense of contrariness that left her not wanting to invest more time than she'd already been forced to. She took three shots, as required, and managed to keep a smile plastered on her face for the several more she was subjected to herself before given permission to leave.

Dee, as seemed to be an emerging theme, hadn't picked up on the student's mood at all.

"This place is stunning," she breathed, walking back towards Sarah as she wound the film on. Such was her distraction that she entirely missed the way the House Elder ascended the stairs and promptly vanished before she could have conceivably moved beyond sight-range, far more entranced by the patterning on the stonework underfoot now that she'd noticed it peeking out from beneath the huge entrance rug. "I'm so glad you've kept so many of the original features." It was a statement that seemed to give Sarah direct credit, or at the very least, implicated her in decisions that probably weren't entirely part of her job description. She was gifted the admiration nonetheless, which extended to a warm sense of happiness as Dee finally focused on her again. "And I'm grateful you had time to show me around, I was worried I'd be a nuisance for asking for you instead of the head mistress."

Try as she might, Sarah was not entirely successful in fighting the urge to pose for the shots. She knew her poses were bad. She knew the more she tried, the less photogenic she was. With all of that in mind she couldn't just ignore the desire to improve upon her shortcomings; she just didn't know where to begin. Sarah was convinced her left was her good side, yet most of her exes had claimed it was in fact her right. How could they possibly be right, when she had far more experience staring at her face in the mirror every day?


By the third picture Sarah had more or less reverted to her zero f's given mentality, and shifted from a wooden, mannequin stance to one that looked far more candid. With each shot she also managed to edge herself in a little closer to Dee, to the point where in the third, she was little more than a hair's breadth away from being arm candy. She couldn't help but wonder if the photographer would even notice after developing them.

(to be continued...)


Previous Next