(1937-10-07) Did You Ever See A Dream Walking?
Details for Did You Ever See A Dream Walking?
Summary: Magnus invites Ranjali to Watershed for tea and lunch, and perhaps something more…
Date: October 7, 1937
Location: Watershed
Related: Stolen Secrets, Making Arrangements, A Faustian Covenant, among others.

Something very strange and mystic happened to me
Something realistic and as weird as can be
Something that I feared, somehow is now endeared to me
And what a funny feeling, odd and yet so true
Did a thing like this ever happen to you?

Did you ever see a dream walking? Well, I did
Did you ever hear a dream talking? Well, I did
Did you ever have a dream thrill you with, "Will you be mine?"
Oh, it's so grand and it's too, too divine.

Bing Crosby, "Did You Ever See A Dream Walking?", 1932.

(The above is just for flavor, because I'm a dork. -Magnus)


Designed by famed architect Edwin Lutyens, this home is a newer addition to the Mayfair neighborhood. The estate is surrounded by a tall, circular iron-wrought fence. The arched gate bears an embossed title: 'WATERSHED'. Just inside the gate, past a scant few feet of grassy lawn, is a huge circular pool that takes up almost the entirety of the property. The pool is quite deep, and its rocky bottom can only be seen because of soft lights under the surface of the water. Lily-pads float here and there, flowering in the warmer months. Rising out of the center of the body of water is a stone tower, its color a pale grey that is almost (but not quite) white. It looms three stories above the surface of the pool. At its top is a glass dome with a small spire pointing accusingly up at the sky. A raised walkway connects the tower to the gate and allows entry to the structure through a set of heavy brass doors.
Inside, the decor is modern and the atmosphere surprisingly airy for a stone building. The bottom story contains a dining room, kitchen, and sitting area (as well as a small smoking parlor); the second a library with bookcases lining the circular walls; the third a bedroom and study with an open view of the sky, thanks to the glass dome. While the downstairs areas have been arranged for the entertainment of guests, the upper floors are normally kept locked, and those with any magical prowess will likely notice that the place is buzzing with security charms.

A large, grey owl bearing a simple white card arrived at the Winterthorne residence yesterday. Written on the card in embossed golden letters was the following message:
"To Miss Ranjali Winterthorne,
I want to sincerely apologize for my unbecoming conduct in your presence during the recent incident involving myself and Miss Cooper. Unless it is an inconvenience for you, I would very much like to treat you to lunch at my estate so that I can apologize in person, and thank you for your help during that traumatic event.
Ambassador Magnus Troy."
Outside of Watershed, there's a slight change since the last time Ranjali visited - there are now two large, imposing looking fellows standing at the gate. They'll confirm her name, then allow her to pass across the walkway to the tower.

Ranjali arrived promptly at lunchtime, dressed in a very simple fitted green dress. The dress is modestly cut, but hugs her curves, and is paired with large topaz earrings and a silver necklace with a single large teardrop-shaped topaz at her throat. She's looking nervous, especially when she sees the guards, and is continuously glancing back a them while she makes her way to the tower and knocks thrice on the door.

After several seconds of silence, the door swings open slowly. Magnus is inside; he's dressed casually in a loose, dark red robe with silver embroidery that's been tied at the waist with a silver sash. The thin wizard beams at Ranjali when he sees her and opens the door wider, motioning for her to come inside with a wave of his arm. "Miss Winterthorne - you look stunning, as always. Please come in. Lunch will be ready shortly, but there's tea set out already." And indeed, there's tea for two set out on the low-slung coffee table behind him between two armless couches and several chairs. Further back, from the kitchen, noises can be heard - the staff, undoubtedly, preparing the meal.

Ranjali turns from one last glance at the guards, a startled smile on her face. "Oh, hello. I… thank you." Smiling demurely, she follows Magnus inside. She looks quickly away from the robe to the more safe view of the tea set and table, and hesitates only a few beats before walking toward one of the couches. "Tea sounds lovely, thank you."

<FS3> Magnus rolls Awareness: Good Success.

"Please don't mind the fellows outside - they're just here for security on a temporary basis," Magnus says, offering Ranjali a calming smile when he notices her glancing back at the guards. After the healer heads towards the seating arrangement he shuts the door and follows her at a relaxed pace. While she's seating herself, he leans over the low table and pours them both a glass of steaming tea, then takes his place across from her, one leg folding automatically over the other as he makes himself comfortable. "How have you been, Miss Winterthorne? Things are well for you, I hope?"

"Oh, I do hope everything is alright." Ranjali glances back at Magnus, her eyebrows raised in concern. They drop again, and she smiles, as he asks his question. "Yes, quite well, thank you. My work keeps me as busy as always. Thank you." Taking her cup, she adds just one cube of sugar and begins to stir while she goes on, "And speaking of which, I hoped to apologise to you as well. When… well, I can be so different during a medical emergency. Especially when the patient is a friend. I have to… to shut off my emotions, so to speak."

Magnus leans over the table again so he can pick up his own tea - he drinks his without any sugar or cream. Rather than drinking any yet, he simply holds it, allowing it to cool. "Everything is fine, Miss Winterthorne, and I thank you for your concern. It's merely a necessary precaution for someone in my line of work." After blowing lightly on the surface of the hot liquid, he takes a slow sip and then shakes his head. His cheeks actually flush slightly when she apologizes. "Please, Miss Winterthorne, I should be the one apologizing to you. I'm afraid you saw me at my worst. And I'm doubly indebted to you because your assistance could well have saved my life, if things had gone slightly differently."

Ranjali smiles gratefully. "Not at all. We were all simply in the right place at the right time. Excepting Miss Cooper, of course." She looks down at her cup, noting that it is still too hot to drink, then glances up with mild curiosity, "Speaking of which, how are the two of you getting along?"

"Of course," Magnus says, his voice carefully modulated. His smile looks regretful, but only barely. Her question is registered with a thoughtful glance of his pale eyes, and he takes another sip of tea, then smiles more naturally. "Miss Cooper and I are doing well, but — please, don't allow me to give you the misconception that we're in a serious relationship." His smile curls into a smirk at the corners, and he waves the subject aside with a gesture of one hand. "As for you, Mi— oh! Here's lunch." At that moment, several platters of food are carried in; it's far too much for two people. Sandwiches, delicate finger-foods, several steaming trays containing cooked vegetables and potatoes - all of it is set down between them by two maids, who quickly depart when they're finished.

Ranjali is chuckling when lunch arrives. The laughter fades as everything is set down, her eyes widening to take in everything. "Mr. Troy, am I mistaken in assuming I was the only person invited to this lunch? Or do you frequently attempt to feed your guests until they burst?" Her tone is light, teasing, and as time goes on more and more relaxed.

Magnus grins when the food is set down and the healer's reaction to the exorbitance is registered. "Only you, Miss Winterthorne. And I merely try to provide my guests with as much as they could possibly hope to indulge in," he says, allowing a casually mischievous smile to snake across his features. Immediately afterwards, he adds a quick: "My help will take home the rest." He removes the lids from the trays, and will offer to serve the healer whatever she wants - for his own portion, he seems to want very little. The ambassador is evidently an extremely picky eater.

Ranjali quirks up a single brow in responce to Magnus' comment about indulgence, but says nothing. She accepts, for herself, a plate that is only slightly more full than Magnus' own, and settles it on her lap once everything is ready. "I begin, I think, to make out more or your character, Mr. Troy." She comments, "Indulgence, as you say, seems to be your controlling desire." She lifts a small bite to her mouth, smiling and nodding appreciatively at the taste.

"Nonsense, Miss Winterthorne," Magnus replies coyly, nipping at a sandwich and then setting it back down on his plate. He doesn't seem to eat so much as rearrange things, taking a bite now and then just to preserve the illusion that he's ingesting something. "It's merely my most recognizable desire. Indulgence is a sin that puts people at ease; for a man who leads a public life, it's almost necessary." He smiles wickedly, then allows his expression to soften. "Despite that, I hope you don't discard my words to you the last time we met in private completely. I have an appetite for only a few things in life - the rest I make up, to accomodate others." He inserts a cucumber-and-cheese trifle into his mouth, chews it slowly, then sets his plate on his lap. "How is your lunch?"

Chuckling, Ranjali tastes a few more dishes, then selects a couple to begin eating in earnest. Her manners are those of well-bred young ladies all over England, careful and practiced, involving tiny bites that allow her to quickly reply to his question, after a napkin is raised to the corners or her lips, "Quite delicious, thank you. Were my mother here she'd already be begging to meet your cook and try to steal the person for her next party."

Magnus smiles at that. "Should your mother ever require their services, you need only ask." He eyes the plate on his lap briefly, takes a few more tentative bites, then sets it on the table. Apparently he's done - he's eaten about a quarter of his meal. "By the way, Miss Winterthorne, I wanted to ask you about something pertaining to your profession as a healer. I have a French friend who's currently studying communicable diseases known only to wizards - Scrofungulus, Vanishing Sickness, Spattergroit - as well as the more exotic illnesses which haven't been well-documented."

Ranjali is smiling warmly when the question is brought up, caugint her to blink in surprise. For the barest of seconds, a flash of something that just might be suspicion crosses her features. But then its gone, replaced by curiosity and an apologetic smile. "I would be glad to help, if I can. Though communicable diseases are not my specialty. If you have a specific question, I might be able to ask a colleague?"

After a few moments, one of the house-servants comes along and removes Magnus's plate. Apparently he doesn't employ any house elves, common as they might be among pure-blooded wizards and witches. "That would be helpful, Miss Winterthorne. Though I have to ask - would it be possible for you to gain access to samples, or is that something better left to a senior healer? My friend - a healer recently graduated from Beauxbatons - is determined to write a medical text which will be considered authoritative for decades, if not centuries. I can put you in contact, of course - but he has asked me to seek the proper channels. The medical community in France regards St. Mungo's with some degree of jealousy, as you well know."

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

"Samples?" Ranjali asks, frowning. "I… well I would be happy to speak with him. But samples are not something that can be taken from the Hospital without enormous preparation and paperwork, none of which I am likely to get authorization for." She sets her plate down, taking a sip of tea, and shakes her head, "I may be able to introduce him to someone who can speak with him from a more knowledgeable standpoint. But I doubt I can get him any samples."

"I see." Magnus picks up his cup of tea again and takes a few sips, his pale eyes skimming across the healer's face. After a short while he sets it back down on the table, then leans back on the couch; his normally placid expression has given way to a troubled frown. "I thought you might have higher levels of access, Miss Winterthorne. I was mistaken. Nevertheless…" The diplomat reaches casually into his robe. "I do apologize, Ranjali. Eventually, all will become clear to you." He sits up, his body suddenly going rigid, and moves his hand into view - he holds his wand straight at the healer, his face set in a purposeful grimace. "Imperio."

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Magnus=OM Vs Ranjali=DM
< Magnus: Good Success Ranjali: Good Success
< Net Result: Magnus wins - Marginal Victory

Ranjali's frown grows as Magnus goes on. "Higher access? What?" She is still looking confused when the wand is brought out, and is leaning forward to return her cup to the table, shaking her head and trying to make sense of all of this. And then he's waving his wand at her! Her eyes go wide with fear and she pulls back, fumbling for the pocket that holds her own wand. But in her shock at this completely unexpected turn, she moves to slow, and the spell hits as she's still trying to pull her wand free, causing her eyes to cloud over and her movements to still instantly.

There's a kind of deadly quiet in the sitting room for a few seconds after Magnus casts the spell. The house staff seems to have disappeared, or perhaps they're busy clearing off dishes in the back. For his own part, the ambassador remains quite still, his breath catching… until he suddenly relaxes. An intense look of guilt crosses his thin face, and he stands, slowly navigates the circumference of the table, and leans down to kiss the healer chastely on the cheek. "My apologies, Miss Winterthorne. These are your instructions: you will proceed to go about your life, as usual, free of interference; but once you are at the hospital, you will acquire samples of the diseases I have named, and /more/, by whatever powers you are able to muster. I don't care if you use stealth, persuasion, or simple opportunity." He looks down at her for a little longer, then slips his wand back into his robe. "Do this knowing that should you be caught, I will readily confess, for your sake - but don't be caught."

Ranjali slides her wand back into her pocket, nodding. She continues to stare at the far wall, nodding slowly when the instructions are given. "Yes, of course." She replies dreamily, placing her hands in her lap and awaiting patiently the names of the samples that will be required.

"Five diseases, Miss Winterthorne. You will obtain samples of five diseases." Magnus's lips curl into a frown; his long fingers slip under the healer's chin to trail the lines of her jaw slowly, though he maintains a considerable distance from her, otherwise. "The first is Vanishing Sickness; the second Spattergroit; the third is called Ludicrosis. All are relatively harmless, but extremely troublesome." His hand caresses her cheek, and he sighs. "The fourth is Scrofungulus, quite often serious but generally treatable. I'm sure you've dealt with it before. And the last, the most important - Dragon Pox, almost always fatal. This you will seek above all others, Miss Winterthorne." The tips of his fingers gently traverse the healer's lips, and then suddenly he's moving around the table again and sitting down. Casually, he takes a sip of tea. "Back to normal, Miss Winterthorne. You won't ever speak of this conversation, will refuse to acknowledge that it happened to anyone but myself."

Ranjali remains quiet, her chin lifting easily at Magnus' touch, a slight nod following each disease that is listed. "Yes." She murmurs, when the last is given. She waits quietly while he returns to his seat, staring at the spot on the wall, and then his face when he is seated again, with that same peaceful expression.

And then she's blinking, lifting a hand to her temple, and frowning mildly, "W-where was I? Oh, yes, Miss Cooper, sorry." She reaches down for her teacup, her hand only a little unsteady.

"Yes, Miss Cooper…" Magnus picks up another tiny morsel from his plate, even though he's /far/ past being hungry, and nibbles on it. "Are you two simply friends, Miss Winterthorne? I'm actually a bit curious about your relationship, to be frank." After pouring both of them another glass of tea, the man takes a slow sip and exhales.

"Myself and Miss Cooper?" Ranjali looks confused again, thought she does blush faintly. "Really, we are only friends. Especially considering… well, that you two are involved. Oh, I know it isn't an emotional attachment." She quickly explains, grinning a little crookedly, "But, well, perhaps you have seen that my own beliefs are rather… traditional, when it comes to relationships. I could never be involved with a woman who… spent her nights with someone else."

"I see. I understand completely, Miss Winterthorne…" Magnus looks vaguely amused, but manages to keep the majority of his impishness out of his expression; he sips his tea again, then puts his cup down on the table and slides it a few inches away. "At any rate, please accept my apology for my untowards behavior - and for the inconvenience of coming all the way out here to visit me." The ambassador sits up, then gradually removes himself from his seat, standing up to his full height and offering a hand to Ranjali. "I'll take you to the gate, Ranjali."

"Oh, not at all." Taking the offered hand, Ranjali sets down her cup and rises. "Its a pleasure to come here, You /do/ have a lovely house." She smiles warmly and walks with him to the door, "As well as a lovely cook. I will most definitely pass my compliments on to my mother, and if she is looking for a cook I will let you know. Possibly the same day, considering her impatience in such matters."

In spite of the circumstances, Magnus flushes again at Ranjali's compliment. "Thank you." After she gives him her hand, he leads her to the door and pushes it open. As they pace along the walkway towards the gate, he continues to hold her hand lightly, his pale grey eyes skimming the roadway ahead. The guards stand impassively nearby once they reach the gate and he stops. "Be careful with yourself. Do you have a way home, or would you like me to escort you?"

"I'm fine, Mr. Troy." Ranjali amusedly assures the man. "I am an independent woman, you know. I tie my own bootlaces and everything." Chuckling, she removes her hand, gently, and pats him on the arm before stepping past the guards and to the street, "Take care of yourself as well, Mr. Troy. And I am certain I will see you again someday soon."

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