(1938-01-05) Afternoon at 12 Grimmauld Place
Details for Afternoon at 12 Grimmauld Place
Summary: Cassius pays Melania a visit to continue discussion about his professional and matrimonial needs.
Date: January 5, 1938
Location: 12 Grimmauld Place
Related: Peas In A Pod

12 Grimmauld Place, East End London

The interior of 12 Grimmauld place is in an interesting state of… repair. While there are signs here and there of neglect the house has largely been left in, much of the house, especially in the more often used sitting rooms and parlors of the lower two floors, has quite obviously been recently renovated, cleaned, and redecorated. The walls have been covered in rich new fabrics of deep green and silver silk damasks, the floors refinished in brightly polished ebony and patterned marble tiles. Though the often low lighting can easily make the tiles to be black and white, closer inspection will reveal that they are in fact white and a very deep green in color.

Black marble sconces shaped like human hands hold candles along the walls of the foyer, stairways, and halls to provide light. In each of the larger rooms, such as the formal sitting rooms, a black crystal chandelier provides light. Sofas and chairs upholstered in satins and silks furnish each room, most of these black with silver accents. Heavy drapes hang over the high windows, their thick silks and velvets nearly completely blocking sunlight when closed. The halls and stairways hold portraits of Black family ancestors, most of them looking on with stern and disapproving expressions or venturing to offer an opinionated comment on what they see. Gilded silver and black mirrors.

The upper floors, which primarily hold the bedrooms and private sitting rooms of the family members, have had less work done to them. The halls are much as they are on the lower floors, while the bedrooms themselves are in varying states of repair. However, though work not yet begun in every room, one thing is consistent throughout the house. Each room is impeccably clean, no matter how old the furnishings or wallpaper.

After recieving an owl from Cassius with a letter announcing his arrival at 21 Grimmauld place Saturday afternoon, Melania left the Apothecary a little early to prepare. She's been at the house now for nearly an hour, the shop having been left to the twins, making sure everything is in order. A tea service now rests in the formal parlour, every inch of the public rooms made perfect, and even Orion cleaned up and dressed in his best clothes, then sent up to his room.

As the time of Mr. Malfoy's visit arrives Melania stands in the foryer, glaring those family portraits that are visible into a more quiet submission. Mrs. Black doesn't often have visitors to her house, but when she does, she expects everything to go smoothly. She's even dressed for the occasion, in a gown of red velvet that fits her form snugly down to the knee where the skirt sweeps out dramatically, the black lace trim being all that keeps it from being indecently low-cut.

Cassius arrives in style in his black, horse-drawn coach. He is wearing his predicable style of a tailored, priest-like suit that accentuates his height and slender build. Today it is in black, in honour of his hostess, with silver piping and buttons. Ascending the steps to the door of Number 12, he raps on the knocker and waits, clasping his hands before him.

Sending the house elf back to the kitchen, Melania goes to the door herself. She opens it with a polite smile which stretches into a grin as she sees Cassius' chosen color scheme. "Welcome to 12 Grimmauld place, Mr. Malfoy. Do come in." Stepping back, she sweeps out a hand in welcome.

Cassius smiles broadly at the sight of her. "Melania, you know better. Call me Cassius." He steps inside and reaches for her hand. He curls his fingers around hers, lifting her hand as he bows to leave a lingering kiss just above her knuckle. "You look stunning, my dear. Absolutely stunning."

Chuckling, Melania accepts the kiss with a nod. "You'll have to forgive me, Cassius. I don't often have visitors here, I tend to be more formal." She turns to lead him into the parlour, closing the door once they are inside to keep the portraits from eavesdropping. Then, with a teasing tone entering her voice, she turns back to him, "But do let me say that you look completely wonderful in black."

"Don't I, though?" Cassius smirks playfully, spreading his arms to show off the dapper suit. "I'm quite fond of this outfit, actually. I rarely have an opportunity to wear it." As he moves toward a seat, he pauses, taking another moment to drink in the sight of her. "Stunning," he murmurs again.

Ahh, flattery. It really is true what they say about it. Melania smiles wider still as she taes a seat and gestures for Cassius to do the same. "Well of course I am. And I do so love being told so. But if you keep it up I shall begin to suspect you are trying to hide something from me with your flattery… "

Cassius scoffs. "Hide something? Nonsense. It is merely my thinly veiled effort to seduce you. But first, I had hoped we might continue our previous conversation about Miss Rhyeline Diderot."

Laughing softly, Melania begins to pour tea for each of them. "Well if that is the case, then pray don't stop on my account. As for Miss Diderot, she actually came to see me just last night with some interesting news. Seems she's had a change of heart."

Cassius nods knowingly. "Indeed she has. I assume she told you about our meeting, then?

"She told me that she asked to be your assistant. And that you were, understandably I think, hesitant." She offers him a teacup, watching him with an amused light in her eye. "She still seems oblivious to your ever having had any other interests in her."

Cassius sighs, taking the tea and warming his hands on the cup. "Our conversations always seem to turn to work and politics. In truth, I'm still torn about her suitability as a wife. She has shown spirit now, with her determination to chart her own professional course. I do like that. But I doubt she will ever see me as an equal. She wants a master. I can be that to her…but not as a husband as well."

Nodding sympathetically, Melania lifts her own cup and sets it in her lap. "What she wants is odd, I'm finding. Though my suspicions that she wished to be someone's toy have been confirmed to my satisfaction. But. I've thought recently of a way she might prove most useful."

Cassius lifts his brow over the rim of his cup. "You have my attention. Do tell."

"Well. Let us imagine, for one, that you do take her on. But that… you do not make this fact known." Melania watches Cassius carefully to see his reactions. "There are those, I am thinking, who would not take long to start spilling their secrets to the little ingenue they just happened to meet at some function or another. Or who might take her on as their own secretary, a position from which she might learn many things you or possibly I might find useful."

Cassius purses his lips thoughtfully, letting the idea roll around in his head for a few moments. "It would mean I would need another to serve as my personal assistant. That isn't something she could do from the shadows. Do you think she would want to? I do believe she is putting her full dedication behind Unity, but will she want to play the spy, I wonder."

"Oh, of that I have litle doubt. Sophia already set her to a few small jobs, attending meetings and such." Melania lifts her teacup, takes a tiny sip, and carefully places it back againt the saucer. "Her only concern seemed to be for you, actually. She was worried about tarnishing your good name."

"She really can be a darling, can't she?" Cassius crosses one leg over the other, relaxing a bit. "I'm of two minds on the matter. She's certainly got the experience, and very little gets past her. She reads people almost as well as I do. But it is those same qualities that make her desirable as an assistant."

Melania nods. "Indeed. She could be useful in many ways. I'll leave it to you, of course, as she wished me to. It is what I would have done with her. But then, I've no need of an assistant."

Cassius nods. "I'll speak with her about it. But I get the feeling she wants to be close to me. Well, I think you've already answered my question for you, or half of it at least. I wanted your impression of her suitability, both as an assistant and a wife, now that she has shown some backbone."

Melania chuckles once more. "Ah. Well I've still reservations of her suitability as a mother, though she could be trained to be an excellent wife, at least as far as the public is concerned. As an asisstant I suspect she'll serve you well."

Cassius sighs, "I share your reservations. A pity, given the political benefit. Still, I'll consider her. But I've recently had another date with Miss Eibon, and she has accepted my formal courtship."

Melania's eyebrows rise in interest. "Oh, now. That is interesting, indeed. So she /does/ find interests in topics aside from your cause."

"She does," he nods in agreement. "We might even grow to love one another one day. She and I had a rather frank discussion about the future, which is striking given how we love to mince words. But, she understands the sacrifices I must make for this cause, and that I require a wife that can be there for the family when I cannot."

Though the topic of love brings a look of disbelief to Melania's face, she nods and listens politely. "I'm certain she will make a most rational wife. And I'll certainly look forward to getting to know her better. Though I do wonder." She grins again, once more teasing, "If she will have to spell her hair blonde before the wedding."

Cassius smiles broadly, "Wouldn't that be lovely? I think she'd make a beautiful blonde." He sighs, sipping his tea. "I fear the one thing she may not understand is that I have needs she cannot fulfil. Rhyeline, I think, could accept my dalliances. I don't know that Eden would. Discretion will become even more important."

"Melania nods, looking only a little sad. "Well, that is too bad. But I suppose one can't have everything. Not when it comes to marriage." She looks at the door to the hall, thoughtful for a moment.

Cassius nods in resignation. "I suppose not. Still, I can hope. As you said, she is a rational woman. Perhaps she'll be realistic about this. But I suspect the romantic in her will win out in this case."

"She has a romantic side?" Melania is still disbelieving. Sipping her tea again, she attempts to picture it. "I should like very much to see that. Perhaps you should have her to dinner, if things go well enough for a time."

Cassius smirks in amusement at Melania's disbelief. "Oh, she definitely does. As do I, Melania. I'm quite enchanted with her. Or hadn't you noticed?"

"That you're a romantic?" Melania grins, glancing sideways at Cassius. "I suppose, in a sense. Though I'm not certain I'd have called it romantic, necessarily. Charming, possibly."

Cassius chuckles. "That I'm enchanted with her. But yes, I have a sense of romance. Don't worry. I won't let it interfere with what must be done…nor with our interludes."

Melania's eyes light up in understanding. Of a sort. "Ah, I see. Well, yes, you'd not be so interested in pursuing her otherwise. And Regulus also seemed enchanted with her, for a time. Though I confess that, besides her beauty — which is captivating — I found little in her for myself." Chuckling, she then grins, "Of course you won't. No matter how lovely she is, I would find it even harder to believe that she could satisfy your interests as well as I can."

Cassius nods, setting down his teacup on a side table. "Indeed, my lovely Melania. I believe she could make a fine wife and mother. But I would rather spare her my…darker desires." He pats the space on the seat beside him, lifting an inviting eyebrow, then adding, "Or would you rather we adjourn to your quarters?"

Melania sets her cup on the tea tray, considering the door for a moment. "Hmmm. We should, probably. I ought to check on Orion, I'd half expected him to stumble in by now, he wanted so to see you. But hopefully Regulus' newest toy has kept him engaged." Rising, she leads the way out, up the stairs, and after a quick glance to see that her son is safely asleep moves on to her bedroom. Which, unlike the parlor, is already spelled to keep out unwanted guests.

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