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Henri Combeferre ([personal profile] jaimemieux) wrote2014-09-21 02:54 pm
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Even as September marched steadily on, summer clung to the fields and woods outside Darrow. The last flowers of the season were still blooming, the grounds lush, and the leaves on the trees stubbornly green, though the air hinted at autumn. Soon, the days would turn cooler still, and the opportunity to collect specimens in the wild would be gone for another season. What better time for one last walk in the nearby wilderness?

“Now, what was this project you mentioned for your biology class?” Combeferre asked his twelve-year-old companion as he offered her a hand, helping Flavia up a steep incline just off the more usually trodden paths. Quick-witted and keen-eyed, she made for an excellent compatriot on Henri’s exploratory walks. In addition, he supposed it was better that someone knew which poisonous plants she was collecting for her chemical arsenal. Just in case. “Is there something we can find while we are out here?"
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[personal profile] spirit_of_vitriol 2014-11-05 05:56 pm (UTC)(link)
“Not biology, photography,” Flavia corrected, grateful for Combeferre’s help as she scrambled up the ridge, camera bag slung over one shoulder. “We’re supposed to practice taking close-up photographs of things within a particular theme; I chose plants.”

Exactly what kind of plants—poisonous ones, of course—she’d contemplated keeping a secret from her friend, though as skilled a scientist as Combeferre was, he’d have figured it out in a moment anyway. Let the rest of her classmates take snapshot after snapshot of their pets at home, or weird gargoyles along the rooflines of the library or art museum; Flavia was going to make a pictorial survey of the deadly, delightful things growing in the Darrow wilderness.
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[personal profile] spirit_of_vitriol 2014-11-08 03:26 am (UTC)(link)
"Of course I will," Flavia said, surprised he hadn't assumed she would as a matter of course. It was only fair, after all. "We're supposed to develop them ourselves and everything, which means there'll be loads of chemistry involved." Spotting a cluster of pokeweed a few yards distant, she began walking over, taking the camera out of the bag as she went. "I'd say you should come help with that, too, but the darkroom's at school so it's students only." She adjusted the focus, squinting through the viewfinder trying to frame the shot--a cluster of dark purple berries, hanging like toxic jewels--before clicking the shutter a few times.

Lowering the camera, she looked back at Combeferre with a sweet--if slightly mischievous--smile. "I'm looking for poisonous plants," she admitted. "This one's American nightshade."
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[personal profile] spirit_of_vitriol 2014-11-13 03:16 am (UTC)(link)
"In a different lab," Flavia echoes, thinking of the small darkroom tucked into the corner of Tar's laboratory back home. It was a ludicrous idea, but stranger things--if not smaller--had arrived in the city from home before. A darkroom, or even a laboratory, could hardly be much more work.

"Pictures only, Girl Guide's honor," she says with an agreeable smile, holding up one hand in the Scout's Salute. This time, she thinks, before turning her attention to the plant Combeferre had noticed.

"What've you found?"
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[personal profile] spirit_of_vitriol 2014-11-17 12:26 am (UTC)(link)
"It is," Flavia agrees, coming to Combeferre's side to examine the plant with him. Gently, she reaches out a finger, brushing the pale cream-colored flowers drooping along the stalk. "It's like someone forgot to turn the lights on when they were growing it."
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[personal profile] spirit_of_vitriol 2014-11-20 03:27 am (UTC)(link)
Almost before he finishes the question, Flavia is adjusting the focus on the camera, bringing each petal into sharp relief. "It's got a lot to it," she agrees, snapping a few photos from a handful of angles. "This way, you can draw from the photo too, if you want."
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[personal profile] spirit_of_vitriol 2014-11-26 04:57 pm (UTC)(link)
“I hope that’s a promise,” Flavia replied, standing up as well and brushing a bit of dirt off her jeans. “I wish I’d thought to do something like this back home—even though I knew what most of the plants were anyway, it would’ve been useful to make a formal record."
spirit_of_vitriol: (scientific (Hollow Art))

[personal profile] spirit_of_vitriol 2014-12-02 02:16 am (UTC)(link)
"He--or she," Flavia added, giving Combeferre an amusedly pointed glance, "couldn't. Uncle Tar kept books and books of scientific notes--they've been awfully useful."

Even as she mentioned Tar's notebooks, Flavia thought not of them, but of a different book--one perhaps even more important than anything her great-uncle could ever have written. "And it was Harriet's notes in her old textbook that introduced me to chemistry in the first place," she said after a moment's pause.
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[personal profile] spirit_of_vitriol 2014-12-05 07:51 pm (UTC)(link)
“I suppose I do,” Flavia said quietly, struck by the idea that somewhere, far in the future, other de Luces—perhaps even Feely or Daffy’s children, or grandchildren—would hear stories just like the ones she’d heard about Tar’s disgrace at Oxford, or Antony and William de Luce’s rancorous feud. The only difference being, they’d be about her instead. She hoped—and trusted—she’d be worthy of them.
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[personal profile] spirit_of_vitriol 2014-12-09 04:19 pm (UTC)(link)
Shouldering her camera bag, Flavia followed along behind him, grateful for the change of subject. They had quite a lot to do; dwelling on the questions of what was or might someday be would get them nowhere. “I was hoping for some mushrooms,” she said. “Even if they’re technically fungi, not plants; the poisonous ones are usually so hard to tell from the safe, edible ones."
spirit_of_vitriol: (challenging (glitterberries))

[personal profile] spirit_of_vitriol 2014-12-15 07:53 pm (UTC)(link)
“Not as much as I should,” Flavia says. It’s an admission she’d make to a rare number of people, Henri among them; after so diligently cultivating—even accepting—the mantle of a poisons genius, it wouldn’t do to confess any ignorance. “Mostly that you have to be endlessly careful, because so many poisonous mushrooms look just like ones you’d be just fine eating.”

To illustrate, she brushes aside a shock of grass, revealing a fist-sized mushroom, just sprouting from the dirt. “What’s your verdict? Poison, or not poison?"
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[personal profile] spirit_of_vitriol 2014-12-20 03:47 am (UTC)(link)
"Cleverly done," Flavia says, grinning as she raises her camera to snap a photo of Combeferre, triumphantly holding the mushroom half aloft. "Nobody's dying from that mushroom, today or any day."
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[personal profile] spirit_of_vitriol 2014-12-22 08:36 pm (UTC)(link)
“Miss Crawley would be a bit cross if I had to tell her you’d been poisoned,” Flavia agrees, as soberly as she’s able. “And I think Ophelia would have your head if I was the one poisoned.” Watching him wrap the mushroom and stow it away brings a small, proud smile to her face; while it’s entirely possible he’s done it merely to be kind, it’s still a scientific contribution they’ve made—together—to the day.

“Speaking of poisons,” she says, looking at a stand of trees a few yards distant, “I think there’s a yew tree over there; shall we investigate?"
spirit_of_vitriol: (amused (Hollow Art))

[personal profile] spirit_of_vitriol 2015-01-01 02:50 am (UTC)(link)
"I've wound up on the wrong side of her fury enough times to know that's true," Flavia muses as they strike out for the copse up ahead. "Did you have any siblings, growing up?"