(1937-09-26) Stolen Secrets
Details for Stolen Secrets
Summary: Magnus visits Ranjali at Winterthorne Manor and gives her a bit more to deal with than she reckoned…
Date: September 26, 1937
Location: Winterthorn Manor
Related: None

Early this morning, an owl was sent to Magnus at the Ministry (with instructions to find the man if he was not in the office at the time). The message was an invitation from Ranjali Winterthorne, asking the man to meet her for tea this afternoon if he could find the time. The parchment was of the finest quality, the handwriting practiced and neat (thouth the signature at the bottom was almost unreadable). Everything about it was enourmously proper, the sort of invitation a grand Lady might send to another of her station.

Another owl would have been sent, in similar style, with a similarly written note affirming Magnus's intentions to attend. And, almost to the second, he arrives at the agreed-upon time (four in the afternoon, after his work at the Ministry has concluded). The fireplace briefly lights up with a jet of green flames, then Magnus steps out; he's dressed in his usual grey suit and coat, which fortunately bears the charcoal-smudges from flooing better than most garments would. Still, he brushes them off out of simple habit, then glances around in obvious appreciation of his surroundings. "Miss Winterthorne?" An umbrella is crooked under one of his arms - come to that, his clothes look just a tad bit damp, as if he had to go some distance on foot before finding access to the network.

Ranjali is waiting in the formal sitting room, and stands just a moment before Magnus arrives. "Yes, hello and welcome." Her smile is perfectly polite as she crosses the sitting room, passing the stairs and stepping into the mostly empty area where the fireplace stands. "May I take you coat? We'll be having tea upstairs, if that's alright."

"Of course. Thank you, Miss Winterthorne." Magnus, in turn, is being perfectly polite; there's only a very faint glimmer of something in his eyes that might convey amusement. He takes his coat off slowly, folds it in a neat half, and then holds it out for the woman, his lips curling into a genial smile. "You have a lovely home. Is it an early Victorian, or older than that?"

Ranjali shakes her head as she takes the coat, "The building may be older, but most of it was redone only a decade ago. My mother just has equisite enough taste to ensure that it seems like more." She grins over her shoulder and turns to lead the way upstairs. "Is it very horrible outside? I've stayed in today, and I tend to not notice the weather when I do so."

Magnus smiles and nods appreciatively at the decor once again, waving a hand in a wide circle to indicate everything around them. "Well, my compliments to your mother's sense of fashion, then." When she starts up the stairs, he pauses at the bottom briefly, his eyes following her form as she climbs with that same veiled amusement… and possibly an entirely different kind of appreciation. He grins a bit when she turns to him, as if to say 'oops!', and then begins clambering up after her. "The weather is rather dismal, yes. If my work didn't require me to at least /appear/ to conform to Muggle standards, I wouldn't be caught dead in it, but alas, it would draw a good deal of unwanted attention if I were to simply Apparate out of Whitehall."

"Indeed. It can make living in London difficult, all this hiding. Sometimes I still wonder if a nice little cottage out in the counrty wouldn't be better." There's a soft smile then, a faint sadness in her eyes that passes quickly. "Have a seat, please. Everything's ready." She gestures to the parlor on her way through to the kitchen, where she collects a tea tray that has already been set.

"In this day and age, there are a good many witches and wizards who don't think we ought to be hiding at all," Magnus says gravely - though without stating his own position on the matter. He continues to look around inquisitively as he makes way through the second story; when he gets to the parlor he takes another few seconds to inspect everything, then takes a seat as directed. "It's charming. Do you drink English tea, Miss Winterthorne, or something more exotic?" Personally, he has no preference; in France spicy asian teas were much more popular than black English tea, but coffee overshadowed them both.

Ranjali returns, setting the tray down on a small table with a somber nod. She smiles again quickly at the question, "I usually prefer English tea, though I do keep a small selection of teas from my mother's home. I was raised in England, though it can at times be useful to allow people to assume otherwise." She smiles her patented 'mystery smile' which the inmates at St. Mungo's have become so accustomed to, and begins to pour.

Magnus tilts his head quizically in response to that smile, watching the woman as she pours the tea for them. He waits until she's finished, then picks his glass up, more for the warmth on his hands than because he wants to start drinking it just now. "I can see where that would be the case. Sometimes people are more informative when they think you're not quite what you are, mm?" He smiles dangerously, and now he does take a sip of the hot liquid. "Ahh. Delicious."

Ranjali shakes her head, chuckling. "You are quite smooth, aren't you, Mr Troy?" A single cube of sugar is placed in her own cup and allowed to dissolve as she takes a chair next to Magnus. "Tell me, is that a requirement of your position?"

"Of course," Magnus admits, taking another slow sip and then setting the cup down in its saucer to cool off a bit. "Well, then again, not a requirement; but a fellow like me does have a funny way of tending to lead an easy life, as a result." He grins self-deprecatingly, then leans over a bit closer to Ranjali and raises a hand to brush away his bangs from his face. "So tell me, madamoiselle; aside from wanting me to sample your lovely tea, why have I been invited to this charming little home?"

Ranjali reaches for a spoon, stirrs her tea, and lifts the cup for a sip. "I do believe," She answers while returning the cup to its saucer, "That I deserve a bit more of an explination for your actions at Ulric's." Her eyebrows lift in expectation, the polite smile never leaving her face.

Magnus smiles, raising a hand palm-up in a gesture of dissolution. "Of course. Which part?" He allows his grey eyes to settle on hers and crosses one of his legs over the other. "The part where I admitted my suspicion that you have something of a… weakness for Miss Taylor, or the one where I said I thought you were very beautiful, and that I'd love to see whether your taste for women precludes the possibility of your showing me how well you can kiss?" He raises a hand and demurely taps a finger to his chin for a moment, then leans back. "Come to think of it, I may have left out that last part."

Ranjali looks down at her tea, a tiny frown growing on her face. "Mostly," She replies slowly, "The part where you decided to be so forward with me that poor Miss Cooper felt the need to ask if she should step in and defend my honor. As for kissing." A faint blush spreads across her cheeks, "I do not think that would be possible. Also I rather suspect you are toying with me, and I fear I lack the skill to play such a game."

"Did she, now?" Magnus looks rather amused at that piece of information, and not at all surprised. And if he looks amsued at the news, he looks outright pleased when he sees her blush. His face falls a bit at her answer, though, and he reaches out for his tea again, takes another drink, and replaces it. "A pity. As for my toying with you, Miss Winterthorne, don't be offended; I only toy with people I like. It's much easier to be cordial than to be honest." He grins, extends a hand, and - unless she moves away - allows one of his fingers to trail down her cheek, although he remains firmly seated. "Besides, all skills can be learned. Tell me, what is it that you like about Miss Taylor?"

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Magnus=Persuasion Vs Ranjali=Awareness
< Magnus: Amazing Success Ranjali: Good Success
< Net Result: Magnus wins - Crushing Victory

Ranjali doesn't pull away, though she does go very still. As soon as his finger is gone she looks away, her blush now easily visible despite her darker skin. "I-its… difficult to explain. Without some history." She takes a deep breath, as though steadying herself for something diffficult. "Do you follow quidditch very closely?'

Magnus merely nods to this, as if it's all a given, though he actually appears to be listening quite closely. Again, his lips curl up again when he sees the blush creep up her neck. Idly, he sets his hand down on hers now that it's left her cheek, his pointer finger tracing a circle on her palm. "I love history. I do follow Quidditch, but not too closely; but please go on."

Ranjali nods, her eyes still on her cup, "My… my wife, Thora Ashwick, was a Keeper. For the Wimbourne Wasps. She dies a few years ago." Closing her eyes, she takes another deep breath, "I do not know if you have ever lost anyone, Mr. Troy. If you do you will most certainly understand. I had thought I would never want anyone else. And then I was taken to the Natrix."

"I believe I do remember something about it - a flying accident? I'm so sorry, Ranjali," Magnus says, using her given name almost automatically in response to her sadness. He sets the elbow of his free hand on his knee, leaning further forward, and picks up his tea to take another drink; his other hand is still occupied with holding the healer's. "Of course. For opening night?" He was there, if only briefly, after all - and didn't fail to notice where her attention was going.

Ranjali nods, not seeming to notice the familiarity with her name. And with a sigh, she nods, "Yes. I'd never been to a place like that before, it was my first time seing such a performance. Scandalous, my father would have called it. But I," She looks up finally, offering a wry smile, "I simply thought I might melt, right there on the spot. Despite that being rather impossible outside of some kind of spell."

Magnus listens intently, adding a nod here and there; he grins a little at the description of the performance as 'scandalous', having seen things (mostly in France) that would have made that particular show look as innocent as a choir of church boys, but does not add any such comment to the discussion. "Miss Taylor has a beautiful voice, and an amazing stage presence," Magnus agrees, allowing his hand to trail up the healer's arm slowly. "It's only natural you would be struck by her in such a way."

Ranjali chuckles. "Yes. I suspect that getting to know her more closely may have made things worse for a time, too many opportunities to see how surprisingly kind she also is. Though she knows now." She gives Magnus a somewhat helpless look now, "And I suppose that's all there is to it. No doubt its a common enough tale, aside from my being female of course." She chuckles once more, faintly.

"I see… I don't think it's as uncommon as you think, Miss Winterthorne." And that, also, is something he's seen a good deal of abroad… Magnus smiles and retrieves his cup of tea one last time, taking the last few sips, and then sets the empty glass down with a clink. "Miss Taylor returns the affections of such a beautiful woman, I trust?" His hand moves to her cheek again, although he maintains the same distance between the rest of his body and hers - except for his eyes, which remains locked on hers intently.

Ranjali grins, disbelieving eyebrows raised. In response to the question she shakes her head, her smile resigned. "I do not expect her to. Though she claims to enjoy the attention, I don't plan to sit around pining for a woman who is far likely, though I admit this is an assumption, to prefer male companions." Her eyes fall to her lap again as soon as her cheek is touched, her eyes undertain though her smile seems to imply that she finds the gesture… comforting.

This answer seems to please Magnus, although he doesn't really outwardly show it; again, it's something about the way his pale grey eyes widen just a bit and glint with concealed thought. "That seems logical enough. It is cruel that a lady as lovely as yourself should be so unrequited, Ranjali…" The diplomat allows his hands to go from her cheek to behind her neck, and he leans forward, this time actually coming /much/ closer to her. His eyes remain locked on Ranjali's, even if she's looking down and away from him. "Unfair, even."

Ranjali's eyes widen suddenly, filling with worry. "M-Mr. Troy." She whispers, tripping over her words in her rushed apology, "I do believe, rather, I think I may have given the wrong impression somehow. P-please, I don't think, I don't in any way wish to mislead you. But I do not… well I don't really kiss men… "

Magnus's fingers remain on the back of Ranjali's neck. He watches her almost consolingly, his bangs draping into his face and almost obscuring his grey eyes - but not quite. "Don't you, Miss Winterthorne? Kissing is rather harmless, isn't it?" The tall, thin diplomat smiles and moves just a bit closer, his lips coming near enough to hears for her to feel his breath. He seems oblivious to the fact that his statement is about as loaded as you can possibly get.

Ranjali very firmly places a hand on Magnu's chest and pushes herself back as far as his grip allows. "No." She replies firmly, her eyes suddenly hard. "Kissing is not harmless. It is quite the opposite. And if you think it is, then I am exactly the wrong kind of woman for you, no matter /what/ my preferences may be. Now release me this instant or I will be forced to defend myself. And I can promise you that, no matter what my focus is, in my own home I am quite capable of doing just that."

"Miss Winterthorne," Magnus says, his expression remaining the same as she moves away - earnestly desirous - although he does as she asks. In fact, he slowly lifts himself out of his chair, his expression suddenly somewhat pained. Then, unexpectedly, he goes to one knee, his forehead tilted down, eyes cast at the floor. "I can assure you there is no need. Forgive me; I hope you would understand how a man in my position, so enamored, would… simply desire you touch, above all, madamoiselle." The grey eyes lift a bit, just barely catching hers, and he looks back down.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Magnus=Persuasion Vs Ranjali=Awareness
< Magnus: Great Success Ranjali: Success
< Net Result: Magnus wins - Crushing Victory

Ranjali's blush darkens another shade. Closing her eyes, she nods quickly, and gives herself a minute before speaking. "I… am sorry. It was not my wish to inspire such feeling. Or to make you uncomfortable. As I said, I am not accustomed to dealing with such matters anymore. And I was raised to be a proper English girl, no matter how I may appear." She reaches a hand up to her chest, as though the motion could help steady her frantic heartbeat.

"Don't apologize, please." Magnus frowns, and sits back up, slowly placing himself back in his seat. He leans forward and takes one of Ranjali's hands (the one not on her chest), although this time he does it slowly, giving her ample opportunity to stop him. "You are doing quite well, I think." He smiles - she's actually doing /far/ better than she could possibly know. "I understand your worries. Yet, as an English girl, I'm sure you read the same stories as the rest of us - Arthur, Merlin…" He grins boyishly, almost michievously, although his eyes remain sad. "I would ask only for a favor, madamoiselle. Maidens once gave chaste kisses, did they not…? But if you cannot, then you cannot. I'm sure Miss Taylor would be as true to you; I don't believe such love goes unanswered."

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Ranjali=awareness Vs Magnus=persuasion
< Ranjali: Success Magnus: Success
< Net Result: DRAW

Ranjali very slowly removes her hand from her chest, and gives the hand covering her other one a few pats as she smiles crookedly. "Your fantasies seem sweet. Lysander riddles very prettily, I might add. But I do hope you'll understand that I cannot. Not at this moment." Slowly again, she pulls both hands back and reaches for the security and reassurance of her teacup.

"Of course…" Magnus leans back and sighs. He looks down at his empty teacup for a moment or two, his expression nearly blank, and then peeks back up at Ranjali with a painfully hopeless cheerfulness. "Of course, Miss Winterthorne." And, perhaps almost symbolically, he reaches over, picks up the teapot, and pours the healer another glass. Serving her. "I do hope you can forgive me, but I wouldn't have been able to live with my conscience if I hadn't at least /tried/."

Ranjali manages a weak chuckle. "Thank you." She murmurs, "Again I must confess to ignorance in such things. Especially when it comes to men. I rarely spoke to my brother about such matters, and have little other means of finding out."

Magnus merely nods, then leans back in his seat. His face is still doleful, but he's struggling not to allow a very wide grin to pull his lips up at the corners, or to break into a laugh; luckily, he succeeds. "I understand. I suppose it's fate," he says, sighing and, after a moment of consideration, pouring himself another cup of tea as well.

Ranjali offers a small, sympathetic smile. "If its Indian women you're so drawn to, I might be able to introduce you to a few, you know." She offers, eyebrows rising in question. "I have a number of cousins on my mother's side?"

"Nationality is not a great concern of mine, madamoiselle," Magnus says, chuckling softly. "I think perhaps it's your caring personality I'm drawn to, not simply your physical beauty." The diplomat sighs, venturing so far as to place a hand on hers again, though this time in a more friendly manner.

Ranjali is still a little rattled, she she looks up with a startled expression that almost instantly fades again, to be replaced by a small smile. "T-then perhaps one of my fellow healers would suit you." Ah, flattery. It really is true what they say about it.

"Perhaps." Magnus lets his hand linger on hers for a little longer, then stands. He reaches down for his glass of tea and finishes it in a long gulp and smiles bravely. "Madamoiselle, I think it would be best if I left. Will you see me to your fireplace?" He smiles wanly at her and holds out a long-fingered hand rather tentatively, his expression hopeful.

"Of course." Ranjali barely hesitates this time before setting down her cup and taking the offered hand. "Do forgive me, this is most certainly not how I intended for this to go. If there was ever a time I wished for my mother's hostessing skills." She smiles, sheepish, then turns to lead the way back down the stairs.

For just a moment, there might be a hint of a sardonic grin, but Magnus quickly dispossesses it and smiles at Ranjali. "No worries, madamoiselle. I couldn't have asked for a better hostess." He waits for her to stand, and then turns towards the room's entrance so that they can make their way back downstairs. His hand remains in hers all the while; he frowns slightly, his expression thoughtful. "At any rate, I do hope you'll allow us to remain friends."

Ranjali pauses at the bottom of the stairs to reach out, hesitate, then pat Magnus on the shoulder. "I'd like that. Just, ah, watch you hands, yes? And perhaps next time we shall meet somewhere else. Private homes are probably not the best for this… situation."

Magnus grins at Ranjali, taking a second to regain his composure, then walks over to stand beside the fireplace. "Certainly." And, that is really all he says about the situation for now; whatever other thought he has on the matter are silenced as he steps in to the enclosure, murmurs, and is engulfed in the same green jet of flames from whence he came.

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