(1937-12-22) Peas In A Pod
Details for Peas In A Pod
Summary: Melania and Cassius find that they naturally align with one another's agendas.
Date: December 22, 1937
Location: Berylwood

After receiving Cassius' letter, Melania wasted little time in doing just as it suggested. So as her assistants open the Apothecary for the morning, she takes herself to Berylwood. She arrives quite early, just after finishing her own breakfast with the Blacks, Apparating just outside the gates and then making her way to the door. She's dressed in her usual favored Victorian style, in a dress of bold black and white stripes with a corseted, low-cut bodice, carrying a black lace parasol, her hair wound into a series of braids at the back of her head. The dress is given a careful glance before she knocks, to ensure that all is still in place after the Apparition.

The door to the palatial home swings open to reveal a very serious looking house-elf in the reception hall, bowing and gesturing for Melania to enter. "Master Cassius Malfoy welcomes Madam Melania Black to his home. If she would please follow me to join him?"

Melania offers the house-elf a dismissive nod, "Of course." Folding the parasol, she steps inside and follows the elf. Her gaze travels through the home as she walks, an appraising look on her features.

The door shuts behind Melania with a snap of the elf's fingers, and the little creature pads along on the black marble floor, leading the woman toward the breakfast room — a "tiny" little place that could easily serve as a dining room for most any other home. The tall, slender Cassius Malfoy awaits within, standing to receive her. "Melania," he smiles warmly. "It is so good to have you here. Welcome to Berylwood." He takes a few steps forward on those long legs, extending a hand to her.

"Cassius." Melania takes the man's offered hand, and leans in (see:up on her tiptoes) for a kiss that doesn't quite touch his cheek. "Thank you for having me. Its beautiful, truly. But I'm hurt." She offers a playful pout, "Does it take such a letter for you to invite me to see it?"

Cassius lifts her hand for a kiss that does reach his lips, placed gently just above the knuckle. "You are welcome here any time, my dear woman. In fact, I am planning a Christmas gala of my own, and I insist that you come. We shall have to make certain our parties do not overlap. Meanwhile, won't you join me for brunch?" He gestures to the table, which is laden with various covers trays and already set for two. He takes out a chair, right next to the head of the table in a place of honour.

Melania is all smiles again instantly. "Then we shall be there. And I would love to, thank you." She slips into the offered seat, the closely arranged chairs noticed with a raised brow. But she says nothing of it, simply laying her hands in her lap as she waits for him to take his own seat. "Now. Tell me what I can do to help your dear sister. Congratulations, it seems, are not what she wishes."

Cassius takes his own seat after she is settled in. The house-elf servant reappears, and with a snap, the lids lifts from the trays, and the food begins to serve itself onto their plates. "She is having a difficult time coming to terms with things. If I may be blunt, I am not certain what I can say or offer that will not violate her trust in me. But please know that I am doing everything in my power to help her, and resolve any…issues."

"Mmm." Melania looks disappointed, if not surprised, by the answer. She nods, watching the food being served as she thinks. "I see. Yes, of course." Softly, she sighs. "She was so… frightened. And the way she spoke, it was as though she feels alone in this." Looking up, after a moment, she regards Cassius with a hard look, one few of her customers ever get to see. "If the man involved in this has hurt her in any way, I want to be part of your plans in punishing him." She's assuming, of course, that he actually /has/ such plans.

For a moment, he stares silently at her, his face completely neutral. Then, a slow, wry smile forms on his lips. "If it comes to that, then yes, I shall look to you. In the meanwhile, there is one thing that I might ask of you, seeing as Lin has come to you about this."

Melania nods as Cassius accepts her offer, then lifts her eyebrows in question. "Of course. Ask away." She lifts a hand as she waits for the question, reaching for her glass to take a sip of juice.

"My sister has not yet decided what she will do with the baby when it is born," Cassius explains. "She might give it away, a notion I find distasteful. She also might keep it, and let her current paramour claim it, a notion I find even less appealing. Not that I have any doubts that she could shower the child with love." He leaves the second part of that equation unspoken. "I have offered to adopt the child, myself. But she remains uncertain. There is time, still, to convince her, and I would like your help in doing so."

Now Melania does look surprised. She does, however, catch one thing in the request that causes her eyes to narrow for a moment. But she is quiet, for some time, as she considers Cassius' words. "This… might be possible." She finally says, nodding a bit. "Though accepting my help in convincing her would also mean accepting my help in raising the child. If it comes to that."

Cassius arches an eyebrow inquisitively. "A curious condition. The child would be raised here, at Berylwood. As a Malfoy. What is your interest in rearing my niece or nephew?"

Melania chuckles. "The interest of a mother, Cassius, with two children and the experience that comes with that. I would want no claims over the child, or over the final decisions you would make. But there are things you will be unprepared for, and I would like to be able to help."

Cassius smiles, pleased at the response. "I should certainly rely upon your expertise. As it happens, I am also keeping an eye open to marriage. I realize that I lack certain maternal instincts. A pity that you are taken. Clearly, you would have been a fine choice." He smirks playfully over a bite of food.

"Well of course I would have been." Melania winks, and takes another sip of juice before setting the glass down again. "But marriage, interesting. And have you found any possibilities yet? Miss Eibon, by chance?" She cuts into a kipper as she watches Cassius, a playful grin of her own tugging at her lips.

Cassius nods, openly admitting, "Eden is certainly one to consider. Intelligent, beautiful, passionate. Though I am uncertain where we stand now. She has been consumed with work and the movement. While I find her dedication admirable, it has also left us little time for personal matters."

"She does seem rather… dedicated, yes. A good word." Melania nods, grinning more openly now. "I thought for a while that Regulus might even pursue her, but it seems she was too focused on the movement even for him. Any others you are considering?"

"How can I think of other women while in your company?" Cassius teases. "There is one woman that has caught my notice. But, like Eden, she is a dedicated worker, and I fear her loyalty lies elsewhere. I think, perhaps, I am searching the wrong pool of women. Not that I am actively searching, to be quite honest."

Melania's grin widens, her eyes shining with more than amusement at the compliment. "Well, I for one will look forward eagerly to your choice, whenever you make it. Whoever you do end up choosing, she'll have to be spectacular indeed to deserve you."

Cassius sips his juice, his pale jade eyes shining over the glass at her. "You flatter me, my dear. Perhaps you know some eligible young ladies that would make good wives and mothers? Again, you expertise may be of some use to me, in this."

Melania leans back slightly in her chair to consider Cassius, her eyes sweeping over what is visible of the man above the table. "I could name a few, I think. My most recent little friend might have done nicely for you, but she lacks the proper breeding." She taps her lips for a moment as she thinks, "But I'm sure I can come up with someone more suitable, given time."

Cassius arches an eyebrow. "What sort of breeding does she have? Taking a half-blood wife could be very good press for the Unity Movement, after all." Trust a politician to consider marriage based on the impact to public opinion.

"She is a half-blood, actually." Melania replies, once again surprised. "And her temperament might suit you nicely. Her mother's family is Pureblood, French. Lovely mother, she came to visit me some months ago. Name of Diderot. But Cassius, would you truly go so far against the traditions of your family?" She's concerned by this, but only slightly. Mostly, she's just having trouble believing it.

Cassius actually laughs aloud, eyes glittering with amusement. "Miss Rhyeline Diderot? Dedicated worker, loyal to Ambassador Magnus Troy? The woman I mentioned that caught me eye…I spoke of none other. Ah, what a delightful coincidence." He lets a few more chuckles subside. "I wouldn't be the first Malfoy to take a half-blood wife. Indeed, I've looked into Miss Diderot's ancestry. Intriguingly enough, her line has been infused with pure blood for three generations. Any child she gave me would, indeed, be a pure-blood in the traditional sense."

Melania joins Cassius in laughter after a pause, though her own is softer. "I see. You make a good point. And in that case, I shall share a secret with you, Cassius." She returns to cutting her kipper, taking a small bite as she watches him for his responce.

Cassius sits back in his chair, readying himself for secret-sharing. Clearly, he takes such matters quite seriously. "I await your secret with bated breath, dear woman."

Melania smiles widely, finishes her bite, and carefully lifts a napkin to her lips. Only when the napkin is back in her lap again does she speak. "Miss Diderot's loyalty is far more malleable than it seems. It is my opinion that it needs only the proper guidance to find a true home. And Magnus has not the hold over her that he thinks he does."

Cassius tilts his head curiously. "Indeed? This bears further investigation. She certainly seems to be favouring our political viewpoint. Though I have little doubt that my encounters with her were orchestrated by Troy. I need to learn more about his interest in me, when he has purportedly distanced himself from taking a side in the matter of Unity."

"That shouldn't be too difficult." Melania replies. "She's quite attached to a friend of mine, she's already given her some secrets. And as it turns out, the Ambassador and I were at school together. He seemed interested in coming to see me again. And I would like very much to see what secrets he holds, myself… "

Cassius gives Melania a conspiratorial grin. "Still, while Miss Diderot may yet be a part of our plans, I am uncertain that she has the temperament for motherhood. As for Troy, I am frightfully curious to know what you will learn…and how."

"As for the how… " Melania quirks a brow, "The same way I gain many of my secrets. As for what I will learn, well, I'm certain we could arrange something that would work for us both." She sits back with a grin, but sobers a little as she thinks. "But you're right. She might not be well-suited for motherhood. She is rather weak, physically."

"Now you're just making me jealous." Cassius pushes his plate, apparently sated. "Miss Diderot is frail? She's a slight little thing, to be certain. Though I was referring more to her focus on work."

"Ahh. You did not know?" Melania shakes her head, looking sad and a bit bewildered. "Took on a curse. Rumor has it she did it for the Ambassador, though I personally think that unlikely. Its how I met her, actually, her mother came in for a potion to help. I'm planning to start working with her Healers to see if we cannot concoct a cure." She grins again, then, "But please, there's no need for jealousy. Not with me. I've always been rather curious to know what secrets you hold, as well."

Cassius frowns with apparently concern over the news of the curse. But she does elicit a chuckle from him. "Secrets are secrets for a reason, my sweet. Few of mine are for sale." He laces his fingers together on his lap, watching her intently.

Melania watches Cassius with continued amusement, undeterred. "And therein lies the challenge, dear Cassius. Though I might also point out that I wouldn't call myself greedy. I would never press you for all of your secrets."

"I should hope not. I enjoy my privacy. Though one can hardly deny the allure of the game itself." Cassius meets her gaze with equal amusement. "But I should warn you. I am something of a collector of secrets, myself, and at the risk of sounding overconfident, I am quite skilled at unearthing them."

Slowly, Melania leans forward, until she is as close as she can get to Cassius without being in danger of falling from her chair. This quite prominently displays, perhaps by design, just how low the cut of her dress truly is. "I would have been disappointed by any other answer."

Cassius makes no effort to disguise his gaze upon her assets. "Beautiful," he comments, and rises from his seat, offering her a hand. "Then may I suggest we go upstairs, and see what we can learn about each other?"

And this is why Melania keeps her little assistants trained to run her shop in her absence. "You may, indeed." Melania rises, with the assistance of Cassius' hand, and without another thought for the barely touched meal follows him up the stairs to begin the game of secrets in earnest.

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