"It's slightly more complicated than that, I'm afraid, but the broad gist is quite correct. Our past selves did things - you saw yourself, so you must go to where you saw yourself so you, well, can have seen yourself seeing yourself. It is frightfully confusing, I'm afraid, but that is the rub of it. You know the points where you saw yourself and therefore where you must be."
He paused. "I promise that whatever you have to do will be quite alright in the end - we are in a place now where things are in motion and as long as we get out of that intact, everything will be perfectly fine." He wasn't quite sure what she could possibly need his forgiveness for, but as far as he was concerned, that was a problem for later. Right now was getting through the evening.
He looked hurriedly in the direction of the ball; through the window he could vaguely see himself smiling a little too politely in the direction of Miss Mordaunt. He frowned, wondering where the blazes he must be at this point in time - his past self, not his... past self. His past self he could see, but his other past self?
He hadn't remembered seeing himself at any point, not even anyone who looked like him, but that conversation with Gayle had been most interminable and he shouldn't have been surprised if he'd seen anyone, such was his desire to remain standing upright and giving the appearance of listening to the eloquent effluent that was less projected and more sort of ... enthusiastically launched at him in a stream. A neverending, dreary stream of nonsense details events he hadn't been to, about things which he cared even less, relating to people that he couldn't care less about.
Sometimes some people just rubbed him up the wrong way. Had he packed his other glasses in his pocket? He could claim to be his brother - surely no-one here would know his brother, who was even less about in society than he, Harold, had been? Ah, yes, in his other pocket was his spare glasses, a quick change to the thicker-framed pair and he could claim to be his own twin brother, should anyone ask too closely.
He wondered, as he headed back to the ball, if he should try to put some kind of affectation in his voice, or try to alter his habitual speech patterns, but he decided against it. Identical twins that finished each other's sentences weren't unheard of, even in middle age.
Swinging by the drinks once again, he took a small glass of punch - he needed his wits about him at this point - and looked for someone to talk to who might have seen something a bit suspicious, or who might have known about his wife, which was after all the only reason he was actually here.
He saw someone from the Ministry, some mid-tier bureaucrat he half remembered, arriving at the punch bowl as well, and thought it might be an opportunity. "Well, hello, goodness, it's been how long?"
There was a rather startled and confused reaction from the gentleman, a vague flutter of recognition. "Don't you remember, that party we were at in the spring? It's me, Prendergast." Harold shook his hand quite profusely while desperately trying to remember the name.
The name brought a slightly more, or perhaps less, reaction of familiarity - it wasn't clear to Harold which - but it yielded a positive response, a 'how the devil are you' type response, the usual societal niceties the English do to avoid actually talking to each other.
After a few moments, Harold frowned and held his punch glass up a moment. "I say, either this punch is more of a knockout than I expected, or something rather peculiar is going on here. I feel like I've seen ghosts of myself, or reflections or that, what is it the French call it, déjà vu? I feel like I've seen someone coming or going. Does that sound like anything you've seen here this evening?"
Harold was careful to glance over at the other end of the room occasionally and check that his double hadn't turned in his direction - but for the moment his earlier iteration was waiting for an interlude in the conversation.