(1937-12-23) A Meeting of Minds
Details for A Meeting of Minds
Summary: A new customer in the store surprises Michais into forgetting his usual stoic demeanor.
Date: 23 December 1937
Location:
Related: None
Characters
EndiraMichais

With the day clear, the interior of the shop is quite bright from the light streaming in the large front windows. Only the deeper reaches need the light of the floating candles to illuminate the merchandise. There isn't much of an 'order' here, although the pathways that wind among the different items of furniture and statuary, as well as the shelves filled with smaller curios, are amply wide enough for one to walk without worry of accidentally brushing against something and knocking it over. Everything is sparkling clean, with very little dust to be found anywhere.
A somewhat tallish, non-descript man is cleaning a large standing clock, his neutral colored robes neat and clean.

Into the shop steps one Endira Max, dressed in a form-fitting gown of pale peach-colored watered silk; it hugs her shape, but the Mandarin collar is fairly demure, as are the pumps on her feet, adding just a single inch to her height. The cloak is in a darker, muted shade of peach, the hem swirling about her ankles with each step. Golden hair is drawn back into an elaborate braid, and the only adornment she's sporting aside from the opal ring on her finger is a pair of earrings also set with opals. Pausing just inside the doorway, Endira takes a look around at the space before turning to examine a shelf of curios nearby.

Not one to pounce a customer as soon as they arrive, Michais finishes polishing the clock and opens the face to wind it up. "Ah, now. Behave," he says quietly as one of the dragon shaped hands as it tries to snap at him. Once it's been wound, he closes it with a quiet snap and then turns to approach the fair haired customer. "Good afternoon, ma'am," he greets quietly, bending at the waist with his hands behind his hands behinds his back. "If I may be of assistance, please let me know."

Endira's scrutiny of the curios is a cursory one, and she's quick to shift her attention once she's addressed, offering a smile. "Good afternoon. Though, I should hope I don't look matronly enough to have earned the address of 'ma'am'. Are you the owner of this establishment?"

Michais returns the smile. "One needs to be careful, sometimes. You might have been offended if I thought you looked young enough to be called a 'miss'," he explains with quiet humor. One hand unclasps and he raises it slightly to indicate the business cards on the table. "I am the 'H' part of this establishment, though Miss Prewett does actually own the place." He pauses, then adds, "Michais Holmes," in explanation of the 'H' part.

"I have yet to meet another woman who would be offended at being mistaken for younger than she might be, particularly in such charming company." Endira glances at the indicated cards, but her attention quickly returns to Michais, and she offers a hand. "Endira Max. It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Holmes. Would you care to walk me through some of the items that you have available? I'm not entirely certain what it is I'm looking for, but I suspect I'll know what it is when I see it."

Michais offers support for the woman's hand on his own for a moment, with another short bow from his waist. "It must be my pleasure, Miss Max," he assures with another quiet smile before nodding and turning to lead her deeper into the store. "Are you looking for something small? Perhaps? Or something to make more of an impression?"

"Something to go with the gifts I've brought back from my most recent adventure," Endira replies, though it's not much of a reply. "Some of the family are more difficult to shop for than others. Though I daresay whatever I choose will have to make an impression. Isn't that the point of giving gifts in the first place?"

Michais gives on slow nod of his head. "And where was your adventure, if I may ask?" The blonde head comes up and he begins to scan the store in preparation of leading her to a display that could have what she's looking for. Again, the quiet smile answers his question. "It is one of the professed reasons of giving gifts, yes," he answers.

"You may, but I'm afraid I can't really go into much detail other than saying it was in the Orient." Though Endira's style of dress might be more indicative of where she's been. "Mm. One of them, yes. There are, of course, other reasons, but making an impression is usually the one that people tend to think of first."

Michais's eyebrows raise, and he turns his steps down another aisle. "Well, that actually happens to be a specialty of mine. I was raised in Japan," he explains as they approach an area where the vases and statuary have a more distinctly oriental flavor to them. A couple mannequins display armor or kimonos, and some painted screens hang from the wall nearby.

"Were you?" Endira looks the man over again, one delicate brow arched with what might be taken as interest. "I have been to Japan on several occasions, though not recently. What with the tensions there presently." Though said tensions are more of an issue on the Muggle side of things than the wizarding side, to be sure.

Michais bows slightly in assent. "My father, Mercution Holmes, is Britain's Wizard Ambassador to the Imperial Palace of Japanese Wizards. I was born in Japan." He pulls his wand from a chest pocket, and a standing screen unfolds, six panels with a neutral ground and white cranes and flowers. "This is one of the pieces Miss Prewett acquired on her last trip to Japan."

"I find the culture there to be quite fascinating." Endira turns her attention to the screen, head tilting slightly as she looks over the piece. "Cranes. Representative of longevity and good fortune. This is quite exquisite. Did she happen to learn anything of its provenance?"

Michais can't help a bit of twinkle in his eyes. "That is what I do," he tells Endira. "She collects and sends it back to me, I research… and this particular screen was painted by the master Bunsho…" he looks to it again, his hands once more clasped behind his back. "Early Meiji period, perhaps around 1875."

"Meiji," Endira murmurs, looking over the piece thoughtfully. "The era of enlightened rule." She gives herself a little shake, and turns her smile on Michais once more. "I'm afraid I wouldn't have anywhere to put it, nor would it suit one of the family, for all that I have tried to give some of them a bit of culture beyond what they already have."

Michais smiles slowly as she recognizes the era. "I was sharing it with more because I thought you might appreciate it, than for a sale," he confides as he takes out his wand once more to fold it back closer together. This time, his wand stays in his hand, as he clasps it in his other hand behind his back once more. "We do have a collection of origami cranes of differing colors." As he speaks, one such crane slowly flaps down for a landing on a table next to him.

"I thought that might be the case, and it's truly a beautiful piece." Endira's attention is caught by the flapping crane, and she seems quite charmed by it. "I've seen some of these before, when I was in Japan." She returns her attention to Michais. "Would they be suitable for children, do you think? Hogwarts age, or close to it."

Michais holds his wand up, and gives a little beckoning motion to the crane, and it rises and glides over to land. "I would say it depends on the student," he replies quietly. "It is still paper, and quite fragile. It can still be burned or ripped, although…" he gives a smile as the crane seems to shiver when the words 'burn' and 'rip' are heard, and reaches out to gently touch the crane head. "They do have a certain amount of survival instinct in the charm, to try and avoid such a fate." He lets the crane fly away and clasps his hands once more. "If the student is a responsible sort, perhaps they would enjoy one. They are almost like having a pet."

"Mm. I don't know that any of the children are quite that responsible. They are darling, adorable things, but they are still children." Endira sighs, shaking her head and watching the crane fly off. "Except for those members of the family who have grown out of childhood, though I daresay such a gift would not be appreciated in the spirit with which it was meant."

Michais chuckles at the assessment of children. "This may be true." He raises his eyebrows slightly. "I am sorry that you do not have family that appreciate the spirit of giving, rather than the show." Turning, his eyes direct her towards a table with shiny lacquered boxes. He lifts one of the jewelry boxes for her. "It's a fairly new piece, therefore not as expensive… but the technique is ancient. Tuiguang lacquer is one of the four renowned Chinese lacquers." The box is black, with a landsape of a bridge, and a single woman walking across.

Endira smiles winsomely back at Michais. "The Maxes are a rather large, fairly old and very pure-blooded lineage. Appreciation only gets one so far in that sort of environment." She turns toward the piece he lifts up for her to see. "Oh, this is quite lovely. It never ceases to amaze how such ancient practices can still result in such beautiful work."

Michais lets her take the box if she will, returning her smile with a quiet one of his own. "It amazes me when artists keep to practices that have been used for thousands of years, continueing to work by hand when so much of the world is moving forward with factories that make more things at once, and everything alike." Apparently the man has a grasp on the way the muggle world is moving.

Handling the box carefully, Endira brushes delicate fingers across the lacquered surface, then blinks up at the man in evident surprise. "You're familiar with Muggles?" she asks, with somewhat more than a hint of approval and almost glee in her tone.

Michais blinks and for a moment he is unable to control the surprise at her response to his knowledge of muggles. He finally gives another bow of assent, dipping his head as well before he speaks. "I find all knowledge to be interesting. I live near the Universities in London so that I can avail myself of their libraries." He pauses. "If you'll pardon me, I find it surprising that you seem so interested in them as well."

"Oh, yes." Endira's smile sharpens somewhat. "Old, proud family. Slytherin, too, back in school. However, I'm something of a scholar myself. A student of history, you might say." Not that she does, in so many words. "As you can imagine, it's not something I can discuss with the family."

Michais can't help the bit of warmth that creeps into his smile. "No, I do not suppose you can," he replies. "I can understand your interest in the Orient. Their history is definitely much different from ours, and the stories that have come out of their history are quite colorful."

"I'm particularly interested in those aspects of Muggle culture that are less easily translated into wizarding terms," Endira explains, her fingers brushing the lid of the box again. "Issues of faith, for example. I know that there are other wizards who dismiss such things as trivial notions, or attempt to explain it by saying that it's merely an attempt to rationalize earlier contact with witches or wizards, but I'm not entirely sure that such opinions are accurate ones."

Michais's eyes glow as Endira brings up faith. "If I confined my studies to Britain, and the idea of the Christian God, then perhaps I could use that argument to explain their accounts of the miracles in the Old Testament. But faith changes depending region around the world, and most of what they believe is actually beneficial to their survival, or was in very early times." There's a brilliance to his eyes as he looks to her. "If you look at the basic tenets of any religion, some of which seem extremely odd to us as wizards, or even some modern day muggles, you will find that they are almost like a survival guide for that region."

"A survival guide, yes," Endira agrees, absently setting the box aside and nodding enthusiastically at Michais. "It's clear that there was some contact with magical creatures, and perhaps those early wizards, but all of that lore comes later. Even in the very early Christian texts, the focus is on survival in a harsh environment, rather than attempting to understand the world. Of course, such topics tend to be off-putting to wizards, particularly the crowd that I grew up associating with."

Michais chuckles, "it tends to be off-putting to many muggles as well, especially the very faithful ones. They don't like the idea that there may be a more mundane explanation to this mysticism that they've followed without question for generations. Some of them can get downright … murderous about it."

"True, but I generally try not to bring the subject up to Muggles." Andira winks at him. "Particularly those who might have murderous tendencies. I do try to keep civil relations with the Muggles I interact with. They're less likely to stop talking, for one thing, if they don't see me as a threat."

Michais raises his eyebrows in surprise when she winks at him, moving slightly around the table to face her. "Do you actually talk to muggles about magic?" he asks quietly. "What kind of muggles do you interact with? What sorts of things do you find out about them?" His curiosity is all the more palpable for his lack of volume as he asks his questions. "How did you even start?"

"I talk to Muggles about a variety of topics, but magic is one of them, yes," Endira confirms, nodding. "Not magic as we understand it, of course, but their own personal views and theories on such things. I didn't actually take Muggle Studies while at school, this developed as more of a personal interest. It wasn't until I was studying in Greece that I had the opportunity to even spend time in close proximity to Muggles, but I find them quite fascinating."

Michais chuckles. "That's a good thing. Muggle studies at Hogwarts has a very interesting view on Muggles. You studied in Greecce? So many things that are a part of modern Muggles society started in Greece. At least, in the European part of the world. That is fascinating. I would love to hear about some of the discussions you've had with Muggles." At that point, Michais realizes how far his enthusiasm has carried him, and he clears his throat, drawing himself back, both metaphorically and a little physically.

"Muggle Studies at school, from what I heard about it, was mostly the wizarding perspective on Muggles. If one wants to learn about something, it's best to learn directly from the source, don't you think?" Which explains at least some of Endira's reasons for chatting with them. She smiles again when he clears his throat, her expression very briefly a knowing sort of look, as if she'd been precisely aware that he'd been getting carried away. "I've studied in a lot of places. Looking for answers, and looking for more questions to be answered. I prefer to come by my knowledge as close to firsthand as possible, and that requires travel."

Michais nods in agreement. "It is, yes. And you are absolutely right… I just happen to have a better affinity with the written word than the spoken word," he admits ruefilly. "Well, since Muggles are so plentiful, I imagine it does require a lot of travel. Perhaps, we should return to the original subject of discussion," he suggests, subsiding once more into his quiet smile.

"Oh, I've always been better at the spoken, and relating to people." This is unlikely to come as much of a surprise, given the way Endira handles herself. "But yes, we really ought to return to the original subject. I do believe that this box will be just the thing to round out the gifts I've already selected." She proves to have quite a gift for negotiation, possibly picked up from foreign open-air marketplaces where one is expected to haggle, but she does in fact leave with the box in hand, albeit wrapped against the weather.

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