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Of Goggles and Gowns

Chapter Text

Somehow, Edgar Allan Poe had roped Lenore into helping him plan a writers group. Was she a writer? No. Did she know anyone who was one? Not really. Did she want to do it? Heck no.

 

But she still agreed, for some odd reason. She guessed that it was pity that she felt. Her younger brother wasn't very social, and only really knew two people- his sister and Annabel, the girl he had an enormous crush on. So big, in fact, that he couldn't even really talk to her without getting nervous.

 

The office at their school had said that he'd need at least two more people to sign on before the writing group could use the library, so Lenore felt like she had no choice.

 

I only have to go to the first meeting, she thought as she printed out another poster. Then, I'm out of there.

 

Initially, she'd tried to get her boyfriend, Guy, to join in with her, but he had work after school and couldn't make it. Instead, she'd asked Annabel Lee, who agreed to join, despite her not being a writer either.

 

My name is going to be tied to this nerd thing forever. She thought, pouting. I hope nobody finds out about this.

 

So far, it's a writing group with exactly one writer. How many writers are even in this town?” She mumbled, collecting her papers. “I hope there's a few, for Edgar's sake. That kid needs to get out more often.”

 

“Lenore? Are you ready for school?” Her brother asked, dressed all in black. Just like every day.

 

“Yeah, just give me a sec. I've got all your posters printed. I'll hang them up during lunch.”

 

She looked down on her handiwork and smiled. The lettering was in a cute, curly font that really added charm in her opinion. Edgar hated it, but she thought it did better than whatever pencil scratches he'd given her at first. She figured that something brighter and happier would get people's attention better.

 

Do you write? Come join the writing club! Meetings on Wednesdays after school.


"Just one Wednesday, Lenore. You can do it," She said, sprinting to catch up with her brother as he ran to the bus.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Are you sure you hung up all of the posters?” Edgar asked. Lenore looked at him over her anatomy textbook. School had only ended a minute ago, and he was already worried because people weren’t showing up.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Why isn’t anyone here yet? Where’s Annabel?” he asked, fidgeting in his seat. Lenore snapped her book closed and shrugged.

 

“Maybe you’re the only writer in school,” Lenore said. “And Annabel said she’d be a little bit late. She had to talk to that Eddie dude.”

 

Edgar visibly wilted, grumbling some unintelligible thing under his breath.

 

“Oh, cheer up Dreadgar. She’ll realize that guy is a waste of her time before you know it.”

 

“Is this the right place?” A small voice said, directly behind lenore. She jumped and turned around, only to see three faces that she didn’t recognize. There was a girl dressed all in gray, one that was wearing the most awful pink shirt that she’d ever seen, and an uptight looking girl dressed all in dark lace.

 

“The writing club, right?” The girl in the pink shirt said, grinning. She extended a hand towards Lenore. “I’m Louisa! It’s nice to meet you!”

 

Lenore shook her hand, suddenly feeling somewhat out of place.

 

“Lenore,” she said. The girl nodded.

 

“I think I’ve seen you in the hallways. I didn’t expect someone like you to be here.”

 

Lenore almost responded, but then sat down silently again. She wouldn’t be here next week, so she didn’t see much use in answering.

 

Lenore thought she knew almost everyone in the school, but these three girls were completely new to her. Then again, she hardly paid much attention to the underclassmen; especially the nerdy ones. However, the uptight girl looked too old to be a sophomore, and Lenore couldn’t even think of anywhere she’d seen the girl before.

 

The three girls sat at the other end of the table, near Edgar, and began to chat again. Lenore watched them as they did, noticing how quiet the uptight girl was. The other two giggled and laughed at almost everything, but she seemed far more removed. She just pulled out a piece of paper and began to write.

 

Lenore barely paid attention as others began to file in, all of them chatting with one another and sitting across the table from her. She recognized a few people, but the majority of people were near strangers to her.

 

Oscar Wilde was one of the most popular students in the junior year, so she’d brushed elbows with him many times.She’d always associated him more with his participation in Drama club than in writing, but she was relieved to see his familiar face there.

 

Similarly, Ernest Hemingway and Mary Ann Evans were known throughout the school for their quarrell last year. Mary Ann had wanted to join the football team, but Ernest was heavily against it. Now, they were teammates and good friends. Lenore never would have guessed that they were writers as well.

 

The only other person she knew anything about was Fyodor, the Russian Exchange student. Nobody knew much about him, as he only spoke a little bit of English, and tended to stay away from other people. Apparently, he wrote as well.

 

She watched as the others filed in, all filing in every seat except for the ones next to her. Even Oscar decided to sit with Mary Ann, rather than her.

 

Is it because I’m popular? She wondered, watching them all file in. I suppose they don’t know me personally, but they seem to know each other pretty well.

 

This felt… wrong to her. She’d always been a part of the group while her little brother lagged just behind, nearly forgotten. She suddenly felt a pang of guilt as she recalled all the times her brother had sat near her while she was with a huge group of friends during lunch. It was… surprisingly isolating.

 

Annabel walked in after a while, arm-in-arm with Eddie. She noticed Edgar grimacing as they walked in and sat down in the two las adjacent seats, rputting Annabel right next to Lenore. At least one thing could go well.

 

The Writing Club was, so far, a huge success. The turnout was sixteen people total

 

“Thank you all so much for being here. I believe the best course of action would be to start introducing ourselves. My name is Edgar Allan Poe, I’m a sophomore, and I write poetry and short stories.” He sat back down, and gestured towards Louisa May, who sat on his right. The line went down- Emily Dickinson, Mary Shelley, Ernest Hemingway, Mary Ann Evans, Oscar Wilde, Agatha Christie...

 

And then, it was Lenore’s turn. She stood up and dusted herself off, suddenly aware of all the eyes focused on her. She usually didn’t mind attention- she actually quite liked it- but she was now overly aware of her own ‘otherness’ to these people. “My name is Lenore. I’m Edgar’s older sister. I’m only here for today, but it’s good to see that so many of you came.”

 

The circle continued until everyone had  been introduced. Most wrote short stories or novels, but several were poets, and Oscar was hoping to get a play of his edited.

 

Just as Fyodor stood up, just on the left of Edgar, that another figure came dashing into the library. He reached the table, and sat down next to Lenore.

“I apologize for my tardiness,” he said, turning red as a beet.

 

Fyodor began to speak, but Lenore couldn’t take her eyes off of the new kid. He was probably the strangest looking person she’d ever seen. His hair was dark and short, and was pulled back by a pair of goggles. He was wearing a sweater vest and a white button up, of all things, and his clothes hung off his lanky form like drapes. She got the impression that he knew these other people about as well as she knew them, as he kept looking around at the group like a deer in the headlights.

 

Fyodor sat down, and Edgar looked pointedly at the new kid, whose head was down, fiddling with the dials on some metal object he’d pulled from his pocket.

“Hey, Goggles. You should introduce yourself,” she said, nudging him. He practically jumped up, fidgeting nervously as he began to speak.

 

“My name is HG Wells, and I write science fiction,” he said, nodding. “My current manuscript deals with altering the space-time continuum through the fourth and fifth dimensions,” he said. The others nodded, politely, and he sat back down.

 

“That sounds complex,” she whispered as soon as he sat down. He just nodded, playing with the metal device again.

 

“I believe that we should just read each other's manuscripts for the rest of the time,” Edgar said, looking up at the clock. “We have an even number, so it should split up nicely. Everyone, just pair up.”

 

“We actually have an odd number-,” the girl in gray said, standing up. Nobody seemed to notice. They were all too busy pairing off. She eventually just turned and joined Mary Shelley and Louisa May Alcott.

 

“I suppose that you and I can be partners,” the boy from before said, turning to face her. He still held the device in his hand, the fluorescent lights shining off of the metallic surface catching Lenore’s eye.

 

“What’s that thing?” She asked, gesturing towards the glinting metal. He nodded and held it out for her to se.

 

“It’s a rudimentary sensor that I’m working on. It’s… somewhat like a clock, I suppose. But it isn’t supposed to work off of reading time- It reads mass through the higgs boson field..”

 

“Why would you want it to do  that?” She asked, flipping her hair behind her shoulder. This was completely boring to her, but it seemed to amuse… HG, was it?

 

“Well, the higgs boson field has been eluding science for years now, and I believe that if we can read it, we can use it without being able to see it” he said, his dark eyes shining. “It’s nothing that science hasn’t tried before, but I’ve been working on refining my design, and I hope to make it more accurate than previous models. It still needs work, of course, but it so far can pick up signals.”

 

Lenore just blinked a couple of times. She hadn’t understood a word he said. “So, what does HG stand for?”

 

“I couldn’t tell you that. It’s terribly embarrassing,” he said.

 

“Is that why you got into this… inventing business?” she asked, gesturing at his device again. “You’re used to being embarrassed?” She smiled, and he shrugged, putting the device away.

 

“Do you have something you’d like me to read?” he asked. “That is what we’re supposed to be doing, right?”

 

“I’m not a writer. I just came for today since Edgar needed another person to join his club before it became official,” she said. “I can read whatever you have though.”

 

“Oh, that’s unfortunate,” he said, pulling a large stack of papers out of his backpack. “Here’s my manuscript though.”

 

“What’s it about?” She asked, flipping through the pages, which were held together in some sort of book-ish form by copious amounts of wire and electrical tape.

 

“It’s nothing too special… just a theoretical look into travel through space and time told in a narrative about alternate dimensions.”

 

“That’s… interesting,” Lenore said, furrowing her brow. She barely understood the words coming out of his mouth. She really should have paid more attention in physics, but the guy in front of her had been so gosh darn cute. He was simply more interesting than drab ol’ Mr. Marshall.

 

She opened the book and began reading. From the corner of her eye, she could see HG begin to fiddle with his device again, his fingers twitching about the dials nervously.

 

Lenore like to read a lot more than she wanted to admit. It wasn’t considered that cool to read books in her circle. They didn’t mind it, per se, but being able to put a killer outfit together always seemed more on their minds. She could do both with breakneck speed, but that didn’t win her any extra popularity points.

The story wasn’t bad, in her opinion. Not at all. She found herself wanting to read the next chapter more than she would have expected at first.

 

“Alight, i just finished the first chapter,” she said. HG’s head shot up, nodding with a forced smile plastered on his face. Lenore almost laughed at the strained nervousness plastered all over his face. “Relax, Goggles, I liked it. I do have a few pointers though.”

 

HG sat up straighter and smiled, a genuine one this time. “I’m glad you found it somewhat enjoyable.”

 

“Alright, first pointer,” Lenore said, matching his posture. “Dress your characters more practically. There is no way that John would be able to move so freely in a suit, as his actions would suggest. There needs to be a balance between fashion and function, or his suit needs to hinder him.”

 

HG nodded, jotting a note down in a little notebook that he’d pulled from his shirt pocket.

 

“Second, make your scientific explanations a little more conversational. It reads like a textbook right now, and you want it to read like science fiction. The way it’s described right now is cramping your style a bit.”

 

HG nodded, jotted down another note, and then looked back expectantly. After a second, he furrowed his brow. “Is… that all?”

 

“I can’t think of anything else. Do you think there are any issues that i missed?”

 

“I wouldn’t know, I’m afraid. That’s why I wanted someone else to read it. I’m simply terrible at editing,” he said, smiling. “I didn’t take you for the type to like to read,” he said.

 

“What can I say, I grew up in a house of nerds, and Edgar is my brother. I don’t think I would have survived my childhood if I didn’t like to read at least a little.

 

“Ah. That does make sense.” HG nodded, and pulled out his device and a screwdriver. “Your brother … does he seem to dislike me?”

 

“Where would you get that notion? Have you run into Dreadgar before?”

 

“We have the same art class. I tried to talk to him, but he didn’t seem to want to have anything to do with me.” HG was starting to fiddle with his device again.

 

“Edgar just hates that class. He was forced into it because of scheduling conflicts. He is anti-social, but I think the class makes him more irritable than ever.” Lenore giggled. “So, you’re an artist too? What don’t you do, Goggles?”

HG looked down, blushing and fiddling with his device even more.

 

“Umm… social situations, sporting events, knitting…” He muttered quietly, interrupted by Edgar standing up at the front of the table again and clearing his throat. Lenore hadn’t realized how noisy the library had gotten until the groups all quieted down.

 

“Thank you all for coming,” Edgar said, his hand hidden behind his back again. “I hope to see you again next week.” He sat down, hurriedly, and nodded his goodbyes to Annabel, who had been his partner.

 

Lenore turned back to HG and handed him his Manuscript. “Thank you for reading for me Miss…”

 

“Lenore.”

 

“Well, Miss Lenore, it was a pleasure to meet you. I hope I shall see you in the halls.”

 

Lenore smiled a little. “You’re an odd one Goggles. It was nice meeting you.”

 

HG nodded, and gathered his things, scampering out the door about as quickly as he’d come in. As HG ran off, Edgar walked over to Lenore, still looking somewhat dazed from his recent Annabel exposure.

 

“Thank you for helping me get this together,” he said, nodding. “I had a lot of fun.”

 

“You know, Dreadgar, I did too. I think I’ll come back next week.”

Chapter Text

Lunch had become a little bit stranger to Lenore now that she had begun to notice her own ‘otherness’ to Edgar’s group of new friends. They had begun to congregate in the back corner on the lunchroom, just in her field of vision, almost taunting her.

 

She felt weird seeing them. Her brother had always just hung around where she sat, quietly writing. She didn’t think that she’d miss something so innocuous, but she really did.

 

The only members of the writing group that didn’t sit with them were the Bronte Sisters, who had only joined last week. They remained sitting among Lenore, just as happy to

 

“Is something on your mind, Doll?” Guy asked, his forehead drawn together in the cutest way. “You look a little sad.”

 

“It’s nothing. I was just thinking about the Writing group.” She smiled and shook her head. “I wish you could come- I only really know Dreadgar.”

 

“You didn’t meet anyone new? You’ve been going for a few weeks now.”

 

“I did, but I don’t know, them. It’s not the same.”

 

Guy laughed. “I suppose that’s fair enough. Who did you meet?”

 

“Well, I’ve read Oscar’s play.”

 

“You told me about that- he’s working on getting it through to be performed this spring, right?”

 

Lenore nodded. “He said it’ being reviewed by the drama teacher right now.”

 

“I read the first few chapters from this guy named HG Wells. He’s a little… odd, to put it one way. Nonetheless, he’s the person i’ve worked with the most. If I can call any of them friends, I guess it’s him.”

 

“I have math with that kid. He’s crazy smart, but I don’t understand half the words that come out of his mouth.”

 

“Same,” Lenore giggled. Guy put his arm around her waist and smiled.

 

“Is his writing good?”

 

“Yeah. It needs work, but he’s young, and it’s a first draft.” Guy just nodded and laid his head on her shoulder. Lunch would be ending soon,

 

“I really do wish I could go,” Guy said.

 

“How has your work been going?”

 

Guy shook his head and laughed. “Not a lot to report. It’s just cashier work.”

 

“I know, but are you enjoying it?”

 

“It’s a job. I’d rather be spending time with you.

 

Lenore laughed and blushed, smiling.

 

“Do you think you could take a day off some wednesday and join us next week?”

 

The bell rang, and all of the students began to file out of the lunchroom. Guy stood up, taking Lenore’s hand and helping her up as well.

 

“I’ll see what I can do. Have fun, Dollface.” He kissed her hand goodbye, and then walked into the crowds.

 

Lenore waved him goodbye and moved towards her next class with a faint smile. Two more classes, and then the writing group would meet.

 


 

Later that day, the writing group met with an air of excitement. Oscar, in particularm was buzzing with excitement.

 

“My play, The Nihilists, was approved!” He announced, the rest of the table applauding. “And auditions start next week.”

 

“That’s wonderful, Oscar” Annabel said, grinning. “Do you hope to play the lead?”

 

“Me? Playing Vera? Don’t be preposterous,” he said, laughing. “I will be directing. I’ll leave the lead where it belongs- in a lady’s hands.”

 

Lenore smiled. Annabel hadn’t read Oscar’s play, so she can’t have known the lead to be female.

 

“So you’re in charge of it all?” Louisa asked. Lenore noted that her shirts were getting less hideous every week, but that she’d still never be caught dead in them.

 

“With assistance, of course. However, I do hope to be able to… enlist some help from you guys,” he said, crossing his arms. “You see, I need some people to work behind the scenes. People who understand my work.”

 

“What sort of things do you need?” Ernest asked.

 

“I’m hoping to get a few actors, even if none of you are very experienced, and I’d appreciate some help with the props, promotions, and costumes.”

 

“Dibs,” Lenore said, quickly raising her hand. “If there’s one thing I know about, it’s fashion.”

 

Oscar grinned and nodded. “Excellent! I can’t think of anyone more qualified.”

 

Lenore took out her planner and made a note to check on 1880’s Russian fashion.

 

Several others spoke up- Ernest and Mary Ann offering to try out for roles, Louisa, Emily, and Mary offering to help with props, and Fyodor offering to help train actors with their accents. Annable offered to help make promotional posters, and Edgar quickly volunteered to help.

 

Lenore turned to HG, who was sitting next to her as he normally did. “You should help with props. If they need any sort of machinery, you’d be the best for the job.”

 

“I don’t know those three very well,” he said, gesturing towards Louisa, Mary, and Emily. “I don’t know if I’d be very-”

 

“Don’t be silly, HG. Their your friends. Oscar would really appreciate it if you did.”

 

HG sighed, and nodded. “I can help with props, I suppose,” HG said timidly.

 

“Wonderful! Absolutely marvelous!” Oscar said, standing up. “I will let you all know when practices begin. Thank you all so very much.” Oscar bowed to them all, and then took a seat. Everyone broke into excited conversation, the room buzzing with excitement.

 

Eventually, Edgar cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention.

 

“I believe that we should start reading, if we want to get anything done,” he said. “Everyone, please pick a partner.”

 

Lenore turned to HG. “Alright, hand it over. I’ve been waiting all week to read the next chapter.”

 

“You know, I could just lend you the book if you are so eager to read it,” HG said, fiddling with his goggles and pulling out the same metal device he’d been working on for nearly a month now. The Higgs-Boson-whatever device.

 

“I accept,” Lenore said, quickly flipping through the pages, reaching chapter four as fast as she could. “Do you mind if I take it today?”

 

“Not at all-”

 

“Excuse me, I don’t mean to interrupt, but I have a quick question for you two,” Oscar suddenly said, tapping Lenore’s chair decisively. “It’s about the play.”

 

“What do you need?” HG asked.

 

“It’s nothing much, really. Just a… certain costume that I want to be extra special.”

 

HH furrowed his eyebrows, and Lenore leaned in. “Go on.”

 

“I need Vera’s costume in the last scene to bleed when she kills herself. I don’t want the effect to merely be that of a plastic knife going in between someone’s arm and their chest- I want there to be some sort of… device that can turn the fabric itself red. I figure that you two can come up with something like that, with your minds put together, correct?”

 

Hg nodded, still looking somewhat focused. “I’ve never worked with textiles before, but I’m willing to try.”


“I’m picturing red silk behind white lace,” Lenore said, with a smile. “All that we need now is a little touch of Goggles.”

Chapter Text

The auditions ran, the cast was chosen, and Lenore found herself spending more and more time in the school’s messy costume closet, digging through old dresses and suits and reorganizing the disaster area that the last costumer had left behind. Sometimes, Guy would accompany her, other times, she’d drag Edgar along. But as the semester dragged on and her friends started to employ themselves elsewhere, she found herself alone in the closet more and more often. She’d put on music to hide the silence and loneliness, but it was a temporary solution.

 

“This really isn’t fun anymore,” she sighed, draping a gaudy green gown over a chair she’d set up. It was far too frilly for Vera to wear, but it was period accurate in many ways. Not all, but it was close enough.

 

There was a knocking on the door next to her, the noise barely hearable over her blasting music.

 

“Lenore? Are you in there? Louisa May sent me. We need to work on the costume together.”

 

“Goggles!” Lenore said, throwing the door open with a grin. “Are you done helping them organize the prop closet already?”

 

HG looked around the room, nodding. “It wasn’t as much of a mess as this place is. Did a tornado come through here?”

 

“You should have seen it when I started,” Lenore said with a tired sigh. “Some people just don’t care for clothes, I guess. This fine specimen was laid in a heap on the floor, and I had to take it home and iron the wrinkles out,” she said, holding up a white lace dress. It looked more like a wedding dress than anything, but it was going to work perfectly for the last scene with a few alterations.

 

“Speaking of, how exactly do you plan on turning that red?” He asked, eyeing the thick material.

 

“I’m going to line it with some red cloth. It’ll take a lot of modification, but if I can put the red underneath and then move the white out of the way…” Lenore trailed off, biting her lip and holding up the dress by the shoulders. “Do you know how we might do that?

 

“Layering, I’d suppose.” HG pulled out a sketchbook from his pocket and began to draw up some ideas. “If we can put a layer of white cloth in between the red one and the lace, we could make it look like it is bleeding through by moving that layer of cloth.”

 

“How do we move it?” Lenore asked, leaning on a table to get a better look at the sketch.

 

“There are several methods we could use. The easiest would be a trigger pulled by the actress at that moment. Likely through the use of her knife.”

 

“What sort of trigger? Would it be something like a string attached to it that is pulled by the knife?”

 

“That would be the easiest one to use.”

 

Lenore thought for a second, weighing the possibilities, before shaking her head. “That won’t work,” Lenore said, shaking her head. “There will be too much motion, and the red can’t slip before the final moment.”

 

HG nodded, starting to revise his sketch. “What if we were to include some sort belt in the front that was attached to the white cloth? If the belt were to be removed,  then it’s weight would pull the white overlay with it.”

 

“Where is the actress going to find time to undo a belt? I do like the idea of a sash though- it’ll add some much needed flair to this dress.”

 

“Perhaps the knife stab releases a clasp of some sort through the push of a button, then.” HG drew a little spot on a sash, marking it with an X. “It’d be a simple mechanical design. The only challenge will be to make it without bulking that area of the dress up.”

 

Lenore nodded, turning back to the dress. “That… just might work.” She began to finger through the cloth, separating the lace detailing from the white overlay. “What alterations do I need to make for this to work, then?”

 

“A blood red lining over the chest with the white lining detached, but still sized correctly so that it is easy hide any seams. And a removable sash.” HG looked back at her, smiling slightly. “As well as any other alterations you see fit. I believe you are the expert on this topic.

 

“So, what is your plan?” She asked, smiling at him. HG glanced back down at his picture, fiddling with the pages.

 

“Get a working release mechanism, I suppose. At the very least, a prototype.”

 

Lenore set back to the closet, digging through piles and piles of more clothes. She expected HG to leave as she set back to her task but she looked back several minutes later, seeing him sitting down, sketching furiously in his book.

 

“Goggles?” She asked, leaning against the wall, smiling lopsidedly. He glanced up as if he hadn’t expected her to speak.

 

“Yes?”

 

“You’re an odd one.”

 

“So I’ve been told,” He said, shrugging somewhat.

 

“It’s a good thing,” she said. “You’re interesting.”

 

HG raised an eyebrow at her with a tihgt smile. “I would hardly think my rambling interesting to others, but thank you.”

 

“They are confusing as well,” Lenore said, “But that’s never stopped me. Dreadgar is just as confusing as you yourself are.”

 

HG smiled and turned back to his drawing, making detailed plans about the mechanism he’d be building.

 

Lenore laughed. “I guess just… thanks for sitting by me that first day of the writing club. I don’t think I would have returned without you.”

 

HG looked up, cautiously. “You really mean that? I had figured…” he trailed off, shaking his head. “I had simply assumed that it was your brother who you kept going for.”

 

“I go for Dreadgar too, I suppose,” she said, starting to pull different costumes out again, sorting them into piles. “Same for Oscar, Earnest, and Mary-Ann. I’ve found friends there. But the first day, I was determined to go and then leave immediately after.”

 

“I’m really glad you stayed,” he said, smiling up at her. A cautious, tight smile. “You are my favorite part of the writing group.”