“Again!” Elouise raised her cane, steadying her breathing. Hugh wrung his arms out and held up his cane in preparation again. As usual habit prior to a round of sparring, she walked over and checked his stance. Loosening of the sword wrist, tapping of the dominant foot into a position deal for advancing and straightening of the shoulders. Once she was satisfied, she returned to her spot and back into stance. “Ready?” she smirked. Four rounds, and she still hadn’t broken a sweat. He on the other hand, already felt strain on his heels and arms. In accordance to a gentleman’s habit, he automatically stuck his free hand behind his back. Elouise sighed and relaxed her stance. “Can you not do tha’?” she  commented. “We’re fightin’ dirty. No one’s gunna care ‘bot manners in a fight,” she explained, her East End accent becoming stronger with her annoyance. “Well, I’m not from East End so I digress,” Hugh replied. “Alright, alright,” she gave up. “Allez,” she commanded.

Hugh advanced, landing on his heel as she taught and lunged. Elouise knocked his cane aside with a downward parry. He tried to follow up with an upward reprise but she flicked him aside again. He swung and thrust a few more times, but she deftly blocked all his attacks, barely moving from her spot. Hugh’s frown deepened with every miss, but Elouise surprisingly kept a professional front. If he wasn’t so focused on landing a point, he would have commended her for holding back all the probable insults and taunts she had ever-ready at the tip of her tongue.

Frustrated, he tried a charging lunge, but she side-stepped his attack completely, causing him to stumble forward. She rapped her cane sharply across his behind. “Et la!” she exclaimed with a grin. Hugh yelped and practically crashed into his desk. “Miss Montoya!” he cried, looking back at her. Her face was an annoying facade of innocence. “Was that really necessary?” he grumbled, putting a hand to his poor behind. Elouise became composed again, much to his surprise. “If this were a real fight, your knees would have been slashed out, or a dagger in your back. You were completely unguarded,” she remarked. Hugh pursed his lips together. “Didn’t anyone in big wig school tell you you needed to be in a fight to learn how to fight?” she asked. Hugh stood up and straightened his clothes. “I fought in different ways,” he mumbled.

Elouise smiled. It was a funny relationship, this one. He taught her literacy, she taught him combat, or at least defense. “Your lunges were more accurate this time. Just… don’t lose your temper so fast,” she commented, smiling softly. Hugh sank into a chair and looked at Elouise. She propped their canes against the table and sat on its edge, smoothing her skirt down.

“Where did you learn how to fight?” Hugh asked. East End was rife with brawlers, and one definitely would need to pick up some defensive skills, but fencing was an art uncommon among those groups. She chuckled. “There’s this crazy old Frenchman. Claims he’s a…musketeer? Whatever that is. Anyway, I drop him some food, he teaches me this,” she explains, twiddling a pen in her hands if it were the sword she wields.

A military rapier, modified with the attachment of a small dynamo and a crank handle that enhanced it to become an electrified rod; the envy of practical scientists in the Metropolitan Police Department. Being cut with a sword was one thing, having a live charge shock the daylight out of you in addition was another. He chuckled at the memory of her using such an amazing weapon on him so many months ago. “What?” she inquired at his sudden amusement.

“And the science?” he pressed on. She stopped twiddling the pen and cocked her head at him. “You’re very curious today, Lord Roxton,” she smiled cryptically. An indication that she was done sharing bits of her life for today. “Ah pardon me,” he leaned back in his chair. “You are a very fascinating woman,” he complimented. Elouise laughed. “And now flattery! Have I knocked the sense out of you, Hubert?” she teased. He gawked at the full proper pronunciation of his name, making her laugh even more.