(1938-01-17) The Perils of Love
Details for The Perils of Love
Summary: Ranjali and Audrey discuss the impending nuptials of Vanessa and Maudlin. But their conversation is cut short by a mysterious message.
Date: January 17, 1938
Location: Audrey and Ranjali's Flat

Ranjali arrives home late this evening. She's been out shopping again, as she has often been when not at work lately. Buying things for Audrey, things for the flat, and gifts. The sorts of gifts one buys for a wedding, in fact. She's also been spending a good deal of time with her mother of late, though tonight she cancelled the late dinner the woman was planning. She misses Audrey.

She steps into the flat and drops off the bags of purchases, taking a moment to glance around before she goes to find the blonde. She's dressed in a blue suit with pearls at her neck and ears, and as she closes the door behind her removes a jaunty little hat and starts to pull the pins from her hair. "Audrey? Are you home?"

Audrey is sitting just out of sight, on a stool on the living room side of the bar. "I'm here, darling," she announces. She is dressed down for the evening. Only a bare minimum of make-up, hair down and pulled into a haphazard bun, bare feet, and wrapped in simple — if daringly cut — dressing gown. She hardly even looks like the same woman that graces stages and magazine pages. She's sorting through today's post, organizing it into piles: bills, junk mail, and the largest pile…fan mail.

Ranjali follows the sound of Audrey's voice, until she has the blonde in her sights. She pauses, taking in the sight with a small adoring smile, then approaches to wrap her arms around Audrey from behind, and to murmur against her cheek, "Do you have any idea how beautiful you look right now?"

Audrey leans back into Ranjali, purring happily. "Oh, you flatterer. I'm an absolute mess right now." Still, the praise earns a soft, dimpled smile, and she turns her head to for a kiss.

Ranjali kisses Audrey softly, then pulls back to take a stool for herself. "You're gorgeous, mess or not. I think I love your hair this way." She reaches over to gently tousle the bun, chuckles, and looks over the post. "May I help? Do you answer the letters?"

Audrey nods and hands a stack of letters to Ranjali. "Every single one, sealed with a kiss. Well, as long as they are decent. I get my fair share of…um…proposals. Not all of them are for marriage, either." She gives a wicked little cackle.

Ranjali quirks a brow, though she grins. "Oh. Might I reply to those?" She teases, "Mother actually knows a /wonderful/ howler spell… Bastian got quite a few during our school days."

Audrey laughs aloud! "Oh, my word. I can just imagine what that must be like. Not that I've ever seen a howler, but I've heard of them." She glances past Ranjali to were her bags were deposited. "Been shopping again? Did you bring me anything?" She grins hopefully.

"Of course." Ranjali turns, pulling out her wand, and summons the bags to her side. She removes her jacket, draping it over the table, before reaching down for one of the bags. "I can send you one sometime if you like. They don't /have/ to be angry." She pulls a small bag out from a larger one, handing it over. The label on the bag is an easy one to read, and displays prominently the logo of a chocolatier in London.

Audrey shimmies excitedly in her seat. "Ohhh, you wonderful woman." She digs right into the bag to inspect her chocolate treasure. "I swear, a wizard must have invented chocolate, because it is pure magic."

Ranjali giggles, her eyes bright with happiness as she sees her gift well-received. She stands, going to the icebox to pour each of them a drink, giving Audrey time to open the box inside, which holds milk chocolates filled with raspberry and vanilla creme, each with a little star pressed into the top. "So I have news for you. And possibly a request. What can I get you to drink?"

Audrey stops before stuffing a chocolate in her mouth, "Oh…hm…milk, I think, since we're having chocolate." She gives Ranjali a guilty smile as she consumes the candy, just before her eyes roll back in her head in sensual pleasure as she tastes the filling. "Mmmmmm, oh…mmmm….what news?"

Ranjali takes a minute to chuckle at Audrey, then pulls out the milk and a glass for each of them. "Vanessa and Maudlin are engaged." As she pours, she glances back, both to enjoy the sight of Audrey and to see her reaction.

Audrey goes still and stares, blinking. "Please tell me you're joking," she says flatly.

Ranjali shakes her head. "No. I saw the ring and spoke with them both about it." She returns the milk to the ice box before bringing the glasses to the counter, "I mentioned it to mother last week, and she wants to help them plan."

Audrey lifts her brow, a little shocked by the look of it. "How long have they even known each other? A month ago, Maudlin was still calling Vanessa 'Miss Mills.' Are they completely mad?"

Ranjali nods, in obvious agreement. "Two months, perhaps. But yes, I agree. Its likely far too fast. Though I do admit, I was beginning to expect it. They've done everything else just as quickly."

Audrey sighs sadly. "This is going to be a complete disaster." Her mood souring, she goes back to her piles of post, opening up some fan mail to cheer herself up.

"Why?" Ranjali slides back onto her stool, and brings it as close as she can to Audrey's. "I know its likely to be a mistake, but people make the same sort of mistake every day. Why are you so worried?"

"These are your friends, Ranji. Of course I'm worried that they're making a mistake." Audrey frowns, shaking her head. "Just because people make it every day doesn't mean we should wish them well when they do it. Marriage is…it's sacred. It should never be treated so casually."

Ranjali considers Audrey's words carefully. She pulls back to think, her expression grave now, any traces of a smile gone. "I don't know. Just because I think its a mistake doesn't mean it is."

Audrey sighs, giving Ranjali a Very Serious Look. "Ranji. I first met them both in the St. Mungo's tea room, and they were most definitely not dating then. That was a few days before Gilly's play opened, which was the 18th of December. It's now the 16th of January. Not even a month has passed, and you think rushing into marriage could be anything but a mistake?"

With a sigh that nearly matches Audrey's, Ranjali pushes away from the table. "No I just… want to hope that it can go well with them. That this won't ruin anything. That… that it's possible to meet a person and just… know."

Audrey sighs again, this time more softly. She slides a hand over to take Ranjali's. "You've been married," she says solemnly. "You know how powerful that commitment is…and all that you went through to get there. I do believe it's possible to simply know. I believe someone can fall in love with just a glance, or a touch. I truly do. But marriage…that's more than love. That's a life together. That's becoming responsible for someone else, and allowing them to take responsibility for you. That's…huge."

Ranjali relaxes as soon as she feels Audrey's hand, and settles back into her seat. "Yes." She murmurs. "And we did have to wait for a couple of years. But it… it was only a year, only one after we married that she was gone. I can't bring myself to fault them, not completely, for taking what time they have."

"But what about time wasted, if they find that they're not right for each other?" Audrey persists. "What about ruining what they have because they rushed ahead, heedless of the obstacles that any couple faces?"

Staring at the counter, Ranjali slowly nods. "You're right. I know you are. I just… wanted to be happy for them."

Audrey rubs Ranjali's hand. "I want to be happy for them, too. I would like nothing more than to be completely wrong. But…I've seen it too often. Artists are known for making decisions with their hearts, not their heads. I've known all too many colleagues who have rushed through whirlwind romances, and ended up in loveless, miserable marriages."

Ranjali looks up, watching Audrey with a worried curiosity. "I've… not seen such things. The people I know who are unhappy in their marriages… they were arranged, or made because of family interests rather than love."

Audrey nods. "I can imagine so. But trust me, it happens. It probably would have happened to me, but…well…I was hanging onto Toby for so long. It wasn't until I met you that I really considered…that I thought I could really love again." A faint blush touches Audrey's cheeks.

Ranjali grasps Audrey's hand more tightly, and offers a soft smile. "Only my family knows this. But Thora and I… we eloped. Her family wasn't as supportive, and we were afraid of a large wedding. Its… why mother is so happy to help them. And I thought… if I let her, she might not start pressuring us for a little longer. Because I… I want to take my time to know you, to learn everything I can. Even… things like this."

Audrey lets out a long breath of relief, and leans in to embrace Ranjali. "I just worried…if you approved of this hurried wedding…what must you expect of me?"

"Oh, no." Ranjali pulls Audrey in tightly, closing her eyes so she can concentrate on just feeling her love, the relief in her voice quite plain. "No, I don't expect that from you, for us. Their life is theirs. What we have… right now, its perfect, and I would not change one single part of it."

Audrey squeezes Ranjali tightly. "Thank you. I feel so lost sometimes…like I'm just blundering through this. But you always show me the way. Mmm…my night goddess." She sits up, slowly releasing Ranji from the embrace, and blinking back moisture in her eyes with a smile. "I'm sorry. Things have been…strained. With Sharkey, mostly."

Ranjali runs a hand over Audrey'a hair when they part, and at first is smiling. But the smile fades quickly when she sees the look, and hears her love's own news. "Audrey… " She runs a hand over the starlet's cheek, "What is it? Tell me."

Audrey busies her hands opening fan mail. "He's putting pressure on me to…um…to end things with you. He's concerned that if it gets out among Muggles that I'm in a lesbian affair, it will ruin my career." She looks up at Ranji, shaking her head. "I'm not ending anything. So don't you even think I'm considering it. Sharkey can suck eggs."

Ranjali cannot help her reaction, she goes pale, and still. She manages a jerking nod after a bit, and gets in a deep breath. "I… I see, of course. I… is there… something I can do to help?"

Audrey gives her a weak smile. "Just keep being wonderful. I knew what I was getting into, Ranji. It's a risk, but I chose to take it, and I don't regret it." Her words are firm, but, there is perhaps a faint glimmer of worry behind her eyes before she tears them away to read over the latest fan letter.

Now Ranjali blushes. "I'll never regret you." She murmurs, moving in close so she can read the letter too, if allowed. "If there ever is, though, please tell me. Anything I can do, I want to help you become the star you are meant to be."

Audrey smiles over at Ranji as she sends the letter aside. It was a brief note of appreciation from a gentleman that saw her perform on Christmas Eve. She leans in to steal another kiss, "You are helping me. You're my muse." She beams adoringly as she tears into another letter. "Now, what was the request you had of me?"

Blushing more brightly, Ranjali bashfully looks to the countertop again. "Oh." She waves a hand, dismissively, "Its… we can talk about it later, if you want. They just… they wanted to know if you would sing. At the wedding."

Audrey blinks, her discomfort showing a little. "Oh…well…um…" She glances down as a number of items spill out of the thick envelope, and a gasp escapes her lips as her hands go to her mouth. Upon the countertop are several photographs of Audrey and Ranjali, holding hands, embracing, and even kissing during what were seemingly private moments.

"Yes, like I said we can- " Ranjali breaks off when Audrey gasps, and looks down to gasp as well, seing the photographs. "What… what is this?" She reaches for one, shakily, "How… this is impossible. How could they have even… "

Audrey picks up the envelope again, slowly pulling a folded letter out. As she unfolds it, both women can see a short message, typed on the page: I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE. Audrey drops the letter as if it were on fire, recoiling away from the horrible thing.

Ranjali doesn't touch the note, and she drops the photograph on the counter with the rest. She turns to Audrey, gathering the woman tightly into her arms. "Audrey, its alright. We will find this person. We will find out how they did this."

Audrey clings to Ranjali, her jaw agape in terror. "Ranji…it doesn't even say what they want! Not a ransom…nothing! Oh god…what if they mean to expose us?" She's shaking now. Her worst nightmare is coming true, as her entire career, everything she has struggled for, flashes before her eyes.

Ranjali shakes her head, keeping her hold on Audrey. "No. If that was the case they'd have already done so, this is… something else. To scare us, or… or to blackmail us. And if its blackmail… " Her eyes harden, "Then they'll contact you again. And we'll have another clue to finding them."

Audrey buries her face into Ranjali's shoulder as the sobs of growing panic come. Anything to hide from those awful pictures, and that hateful letter.

For a while Ranjali just holds Audrey, stroking her back, her hair, waiting until her anger has faded. When it does, she pulls out her wand again, moving the photographs and letter back into their envelope, and the envelope into a rarely-used drawer. "Come." She says, then, her voice now gentle, "We can worry about the post later." She stands, lifting Audrey with her, and gently leads her to the stairs.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License