(1938-11-17) Ladies Who Lunch
Details for Ladies Who Lunch
Summary: Edwarlinda Malfoy breezes into Hogsmeade (sort of) to give her little sister Medusa lunch at the Broomsticks. (Note: This log contains an especial amount of information which isn't known widely or at all ICly, so please use your discretion, and, if in doubt, enquire of the ladies concerned.)
Date: November 17th, 1938
Location: A private room at the Three Broomsticks

In a private room at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade village, a table has been laid — rather more elegantly than it would have been before the establishment's recent changing of hands — with a crisp white linen cloth, decent china and silver, flowers charmed for freshness, and lunch for two.

But don't mistake it for a romantic occasion. Oh, far from it. This little chamber has the honour today to provide peace and privacy for a tete-a-tete between two women who, though they look now more like mother and daughter, are in fact sisters: those two pale Malfoy beauties, Edwarlinda and Medusa.

Their luncheon date was arranged ten days ago. So much has happened, since then, in both their lives; but Eddie's owl has been given a thorough workout passing messages confirming their plans, and what she's to bring with her… Though she's brought some other things, of course, too, I mean, she hasn't seen her little sister in two and a half months. Half a dozen parcels are lying scattered on the bed, next to Eddie's discarded robes and hat and gloves.

When Medusa is shown in Eddie is looking away out the window, presenting an opulent green silk silhouette: she turns, and her face lights up with the pleasure of this meeting. All at once she's across the room, inflicting another of her fragrant and enthusiastic Eddie hugs upon the littlest Malfoy. Well. No longer quite the littlest… The littlest, she's left at home today.

"It's so good to see you!" she enthuses, and means it.

Medusa looks older than she did the last time her eldest sibling saw her. More mature. The haughtiness is still there, it is an ingrained Malfoy trait, but there is something else too. Something much harder to put a finger on. Dressed in one of the few outfits she has, Medusa has made an effort to look nice for Edwarlinda. The room is given the barest of glances, Medusa expects this kind of attention to detail and after that tea incident a month ago full well knows the dedication of the new landlady. Sinking into the embrace, for by the time she came around both their parents were hard at work and so not much affection was lauded on the youngest, Medusa clings to her sister for a moment before releasing her. "I am glad you came. Everyone has been so good to me lately. Well, you and Cyril and Cassius."

How familiar a tale! Eddie nods, twice, with an expression of deep sympathy for all that it means to be a child of Balaurius and Desdemonia Malfoy (and all such children must do to stick together); and clasps her sister's arms lightly for a little longer, while she looks at her. "Of course I came," she says, finally letting go. "I wanted to make sure you were all right; and besides, I'm dying to hear the real story about you and Douglas… Shall we sit down? They'll be bringing lunch soon, I told them to be as quick as possible after you arrived."

Medusa shrugs off her fur coat and sets it over the end of the bed then moves to one of the chairs. "I need your help Eddie…I don't know what to do." She sighs. "I…I love him and I need to convince Mother and Father that he is good for me. You know what they're like, the threat of keeping it all of disowning me if I displease them again." With heretofore uncharacteristic maturity she declares, "Part of me wants to tell them to do it. Just to," she waves a hand dismissively, "keep it all to themselves and let me get on with my life, living it how I see fit. They let the three of you do what you wanted. Now I am left to suffer because they don't approve of your life choices." Her eyes widen when she realises how that sounds, "I don't just mean you. I meant the three of you."

Across the table from her Edwarlinda reaches unconsciously for the pocket in which she used to keep her cigarette case. Alas, there are no cigarettes to be had; there haven't been for quite some time. The baby. "It's fair enough," she sighs, "but thank you for…" Distributing the blame equally among all those who have come before. "You know we love you so much," she says, before anything else. In this she knows she can speak for her brothers as well. "You don't ever have to stand alone, against our parents or anyone else." And heaven knows Eddie waded into plenty of the rows which took place in the house of the London Malfoys when Medusa was home for the summer — heavily pregnant, moods swinging in every direction at once, striking out for Justice for her little sister, whose only crime was to be tolerant of the Muggleborn. Gasp!

And, "They love you too," Eddie feels bound to add, now that she's a mother herself and has some inkling of what it is to be on the other side of the fence, "they're just… going about it all wrong. They always did. It must seem as though we had an easy time by comparison, but really, they've just worked through so many other ways of screwing up their children's lives that they had to invent a new one just for you." She checks her other pocket, just in case there's a packet of… pistachio nuts! Yes. She opens one and pops it into her mouth. Maybe that'll help. "You have to live your own life," she agrees, "whatever that means to you. And soon you'll be free to do it. You just have to hang on through this year and then," she smiles drily, and eats another pistachio, "you can run away in the traditional manner… With Douglas?"

Out of solidarity Medusa doesn't take out her own cigarettes but reaches over to snag a nut from her sister's stash. "It was very creative. Douglas has been looking after me you know. He and I concocted this devious little scheme to win some money using the betting pool at school. We didn't really breakup, though everyone thinks we did. We just staged a couple of rows and then spent a few days apart." Her nose wrinkles as she sucks on salty shell before taking it from her mouth and prying it open with her fingertips. "I didn't much like not being around him. It was hard. You get used to a person being there." She blushes hotly as she clarifies, "I don't mean physically, though that too, but just…being able to tell him about something that struck me as funny or a sarcastic comment about someone that walked past."

The empty pistachio shells are rolling round in Edwarlinda's hand; no substitute at all for the feel of a cigarette clutched between her fingers, but she still takes a while to relinquish them. She nods along with her sister's words. She's been single for months, since the end of her engagement to Sloan MacDubsithe, and with the caution she's finally learned and baby to think of she has every expectation of being single a lot longer… But she knows, how she knows. "It's rare to find someone who can always be wonderful, just by being there," she says softly. "So rare, you can't let anyone take it away from you. I suppose people," we all know which people, "have been telling you you're too young to have found The One, but sometimes it happens — maybe it is him. You have to find out for yourself… You're the only one who can know it."

Just then, a knock at the door; Eddie puts down her pistachio shells on the edge of the table and turns to call out, "Come in." Luncheon is served, rather extensively; Eddie ordered a couple of things that were on the menu and rather more things that weren't, and paid handsomely to have just what she wished.

When they're alone again, napkins spread across laps, Eddie adds, "I did bring the potions you asked for. And," she glances at the parcels on the bed, with a touch of smugness, "a few other things I thought you might like…"

"He invited me to spend Hogmanay with his family and I intend to go. I am rather hoping to spend as little time as possible at home, none if I can manage it." Medusa takes up her cutlery and begins with the soup course. "Cassius invited me to stay with him for the holidays. I also am helping a friend plan a party, a tasteful affair as it will be at the Black residence." Another delicate spoonful of soup. "Then it is off to the Isle of Wight to meet my best friend's grandparents." Her blue gaze, so similar to Eddie's own, lifts to her sister's more mature face. "Do you know she had the audacity to write to me and tell me I earned back my bedroom as if that made up for treating me like a servant?"

"When she thought you'd broken up with Douglas?" Eddie guesses, shaking her head. What is there to say about the Malfoys' carrot-and-stick approach to parenting? What, that is, that its victims haven't said before, in such detail… Like Medusa, she begins with the soup. "I'm glad and not at all surprised that you have so many doors open to you," she says fondly, between spoonfuls. "But when you're not with your friends you should certainly give the family mausoleum a miss and come to Berylwood instead… I'll be there. In fact," she sighs, and what a way to bury the lead, or is it just that she's genuinely much more interested in her sister's life than her own? "I moved into Cassius's guest house a few days ago. It's only temporary, but I promised to stay till after the holidays. Perhaps we can get Cyril to spend a few nights with us too?" she speculates wistfully. All the family together, minus the parents. Hardly could she conjure a more appealing vision.

"No. Weeks before that." Medusa butters her bread roll and takes a little bite of it. "Cyril came to see me. He's agreed to invest in a business that Douglas and I plan to open. We both decided Ministry work isn't likely for us so we are opening an exclusive getaway business that targets men who want to feel more manly. Those weekend warrior types. He's very outdoorsy and I am excellent with convincing people that they need things." A little more soup and Medusa is reaching for the wine that came with the meal. "Cassius met Douglas. I think he liked him. Sometimes it is hard to tell with Cassius."

Eddie's the hostess; as soon as Medusa has put down her glass again she reaches for the bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (left uncorked upon the table by the pub girl after she'd poured a little into each of their glasses) and pours out rather more. It's thirsty work, all this family gossip, and, bless her, Medusa's old enough to drink these days. Eddie used to feel so sorry for her, the only remaining Malfoy sibling who was obliged to deal with Balaurius and Desdemonia while sober… "Yes," she agrees, "Cassius can be…" What can Cassius be, when confronted with potentially dubious suitors for his sisters' hands? Let's not go into that, shall we? "You and Douglas…" She tests the phrase. "How long has it been, now? Counting or not counting when you were pretending you'd broken up!"

"Sanctimonious?" offers Medusa with a grin behind the rim of her wine glass. She takes a sip, just one however, and eats a little more bread and soup. "Two months, although we've known each other for years. He's been my potions partner since last year. Mainly because we are the worst two in the class and it was deemed safer to pair us. I will never be Great Aunt Ismene, but I can brew a few decent potions or lie well enough to convince fat girls I've sold them a weight loss potion."

Enough soup. Eddie starts on the chicken. (What do Muggles do without charms to keep their next courses warm till they're quite ready to move on? Eddie would pity them, if ever it occurred to her that this could be a problem.) "Then you've had plenty of time to get to know him…" she says, nodding. And then she adds, because she was, after all, invited here for more than just a bite to eat and to drop off a parcel or two. "I knew Sloan for a long time, too. We worked together for many years; and then we didn't sleep together for a while after we started seeing each other seriously. I think if someone truly matters to you it's best to go slowly. … Or maybe, given how it all ended up, maybe I'm wrong. Hell, I don't know." She picks moodily at the chicken. "I'm not completely sure," she admits, "that I'm in a position to give advice."

"I don't, that is to say he hasn't pressured me. It is my choice." Medusa sips more of her wine as she shifts a little on the chair, looking embarrassed. "Neither of us have ever…done that. But I don't want to have a child just because we do. No offense, Eddie. I like being an aunt, but I am too young to be a mother. So I am trying to be responsible." The chicken, like the soup, goes nicely with the wine. "Please don't say anything to anyone else. I'd be mortified." She looks it too. Changing the subject to something safer she asks, "What did you bring me?"

The parcels on the bed, when plundered, prove to contain all an elder sister's bounty. Half a dozen pairs of the best silk stockings, in the right size. Bath oils redolent of exotic flowers. Recent back issues of magazines she remembers Medusa reading over the summer. Two new dresses, one for afternoon and one for evening — and a matching set of very grown-up, very elegant lingerie.

The last parcel, Eddie leaves wrapped: "The potions," she explains, "and I wrote out everything you should know about them. Please, please be careful… follow the instructions exactly. Because you are too young to be a mother. Hell, I'm too young to be a mother," and Eddie rolls her eyes toward the low ceiling of the inn bedroom. Too late to do anything about that, and she's not sure anymore she would if she could; but the fact remains Eddie has become quite the advocate for planned parenthood. "Of course I won't tell anyone. I'm just so glad you came to me, when you needed… I hope you know you always, always can."

After looking through the gifts Medusa slips back into her chair. "I…thank you. I'm not used to being given such generous things anymore." Her fingers toy with the stem of her wineglass. "I want you to know I am not thinking about rushing into anything. Not the sex," her cheeks pinken again, "or marriage or anything. I just want to be prepared. I like having plans if possible." Taking a sip of her wine Medusa is slow to look back at her older sister. "Are you sure you would be able to stand with me? It may well mean upsetting them and I know how much you have had to rely on them since the baby."

The legitimacy of Medusa's concern — when did her baby sister develop this foresight, this penchant for analysis, this deeper consideration for the complexities of other people's lives? — Edwarlinda acknowledges with a slow nod, as she swallows a little more of her wine. "I've been relying on them, yes, and when it came to it they didn't desert me, but — there was always going to be a time when I'd have to leave." She shrugs slightly. "As long as I was under their roof I'd always be a daughter before I was a mother, and… it's not fair to Circe, to sidestep my responsibilities to that extent. I'm her mother; I have to be her mother." And there's that stubborn willfulness, always a foundation of Eddie's character, flowing now into this least expected of channels. "I don't want to upset Mother and Father any more than necessary, but her future, and your future, are too important to be left to their direction. I'll stand with you. Of course I'll stand with you."

Left to her own company for those first eleven years of her life, Medusa developed a quiet way of living even within her family; possibly making her the most private of all the four children their parents brought into the world. Slowly as she has found them willing to support her she is sharing more of herself and her nature with each of her siblings in turn. "I worry sometimes that they have plans to do to me what was done to our aunt." Medusa sips more of her wine. "Cassius hinted there is more to her story, but the idea of being married off to a man nearly three times my age when just nineteen terrifies me. There isn't enough wealth or power in the world for that to be made palatable."

"… I haven't heard anything about any plan like that, but they might try it," Edwarlinda says honestly; and a shadow passes over her rather tired face. With the smaller of her forks she picks at her salad, drawing out slices of radish and eating them one by one while she's speaking. "They'll use money to bring pressure to bear, the way they always do. But you know now — what they've put you through this year has brought you this much, at least — you know that if you have to get by without their money, you can. You have other family, too, me and Cassius and Cyril, and you have friends. It seems," a small smile, "you have Douglas too. If Mother and Father try to trick you or trap you into a marriage, to serve their purposes rather than your own heart, you could and should resist, and you won't be alone in it. I promise you." She puts down her fork and reaches over the table, taking Medusa's hand firmly in hers and squeezing it. She looks all the way down into her sister's eyes — her arctic blue eyes, one of the undeniable beauties of a Malfoy woman, seem to shade into the grey of cool steel.

"I can't let them dictate my future anymore," states Medusa firmly. "I already know I am a disapointment to them. I'm not clever enough; not like you three. I never will be, but I am good with that. I know who I am. What I am." Given courage to speak of it thanks to the support she is receiving, Medusa squeezes Edwarlinda's hand in return. "What's the worst that will happen? They disown, me right?" This seems to be something she has said before recently, possibly even during this meal, because the more Medusa says it the more it builds her confidence around believing she can live without parental approval and without the opulent lifestyle of the Malfoys.

Eddie keeps Medusa's hand for another good long moment, to underscore the strength of the feeling behind her words. "Exactly. It's the only real threat Mother and Father have against us, and they've already been beating you with it this year — you already know how to bear up under it, and how to fight back." Then she lets go; and pours out a touch more wine. "I love hearing you talk like this," she says quietly. "I don't think I'm any cleverer than you are, darling, but I'm not sure I was as brave as you, as young as you."

"They could try and put pressure on Douglas' parents or the Headmaster…they could do other things. Frankly, considering their desire to control me I wouldn't put much past them. They are Malfoys after all." Medusa sets her wine down again and looks over at Eddie. "Do you ever think about not being a Malfoy? About doing what so many women do and just marrying out of it? Leaving all this madness to Cassius and Cyril's wives, to whatever foolish woman ends up forced into marriage to our cousin."

Edwarlinda has recourse to her wine, rolling it about in the glass before she drinks. "The Headmaster's writ will expire at the end of the school year; if you can get through to your graduation without any major disasters he won't be able to influence or harm you after that. Trouble for Douglas's parents, that's more of a concern… If you think it's happening," she says seriously, the tired elder sister suddenly the tired elder sister who's a famous Auror, "tell me." She empties her wine glass and sets it down next to the bottle, and taps the table with her fingertips as though weighing up what more to say and how to say it. Her eyes tighten. "Of course I've thought about it. I was supposed to have been married to Sloan by now… It takes more than a change of name, though, to make or unmake a Malfoy. We are what we are; our task is to make it work in our favour, rather than against us, and find our own power in it."

She toys with her food, using her fork to push a mushroom around in the cream sauce. "Do you think if I wrote to Cassius he could maybe look into the legality of my money? If I am eighteen, which I will be in a few months, I am two years past maturity according to the law. Surely if I was left funds or there was a trust fund I should be able to have access to it?" Medusa looks over at her sister, "Or at least know the terms and conditions for it? I don't want to buy my friends." Which while not a dig at Eddie, may well be unexpectedly taken as one given Edwarlinda's past predilection for paying for everyone to have a good time, "nor do I want to be a financial burden upon them."

There have been occasions enough when Eddie has paid people to have a good time, not just paid for the good time being had; but she's oblivious even to the faint possibility of a dig at her habits, for she doesn't truly realise what it is she does, let alone that there might be something the matter with it… "I don't know," she admits, "whether the same arrangements were made for you as for me. But Cassius would know how to find out; you should certainly write to him with your questions, and I can speak with him about it as well if you like. Merlin knows, we're neighbours now. I see him almost every day. But I think," she smiles faintly, "Circe almost sees him more."

Medusa nods slowly as she takes in the good advice. "Do you want to talk about Sloan? I know Cassius wasn't fond of him, but I never met him so have no opinion either way." She picks up her knife and cuts into her food, eating a few small mouthfuls. "Will Cassius have any women there? I know how he likes his assistants. There was that ginger one the last time I saw him with a woman."

What, rip the bandage off that wound again, when it still hasn't quite healed? "Not living there, no," Edwarlinda replies, in a light and none too revealing tone, whilst pouring out the last of the bottle of wine, more for herself than for her sister, "but visiting so often she may as well be… Rhyeline Diderot. Did you ever meet her? She worked for the I.M.C. before she became Cassius's assistant, and now… well, it seems to be serious. He's courting her." The operative word is accompanied by a quick lift of her eyebrows.

"Ah," says Medusa with understanding. "Courting?" She smirks a little, "Is that what old people call it?" Joking aside she asks, "What is this woman like? Is she worthy of him? Is she good enough to be a Malfoy?" From her questions it is obvious that the youngest of the siblings has never laid eyes on Cassius' intended. "Do you think he loves her or did he just wake up one day and think, 'I will be twenty-nine on my next birthday, I had best get serious about finding a wife'?"

Ah, well, Eddie laughs a little at that. And sips her wine. She seems to be enjoying her wine even more than the luncheon to which she has, with elegance and efficiency, laid waste. She's been off the hard stuff, more or less, because of the baby, but do old habits really die? "He didn't just wake up one day and—" she says, shaking her head. "He's been wanting to marry for two or three years now. I've introduced him to several lovely girls, as well as the ones he's found on his own, but none of them held his interest for long until Rhyeline. I don't think he's in love with her — it's in part a political calculation, of course, it always is with him — but he's very fond of her… He respects her. I hope it's going to work out. He needs someone else in his life he can trust." Absent from her remarks, any personal assessment of Rhyeline Diderot, or whether she has what it takes to survive the contact sport which is family life with the Malfoys.

Eddie's little sister would make a good spy, such is Medusa's ability to pick up on the most infinitesimal of details, when only half of her questions are answered the younger sister gives the elder one a pointed look. "Do I need to work to oust this woman while I am there? If she is not up to snuff he needs to set aside his fondness and be clever. I am fond of many things and people, but that does not mean I would let them into my life or expect them to be able to thrive amongst the den of snakes that is our extended family."

Medusa's big sister wants a cigarette. All she can have is another pistachio nut. She lines up the empty shell next to the rest of her collection and pops the nut into her mouth. "I haven't… made up my mind about her," she admits, and crunches it between her excellent pearly teeth. "She's intelligent, she seems devoted to him. She's… timid. I don't know her well enough to judge if she's too timid. It may be that Cassius intends simply to protect her from," an ironic twist to her smile, "the rest of us. I'll let you know what I think of her, when… I know what I think."

"Fair enough. I will reserve judgement until I meet her and we can speak again. I am certain that like all his women she will be on her best behaviour around me." Medusa sits back as the main course is whisked away, requesting a coffee with her dessert. When they are alone again she brings up a past event, "Do you remember that blonde woman he dated? What was her name? The one who patted me on the head like a dog when he brought her home for dinner during the summer holidays?"

"Which blonde?" Eddie smirks slightly. She recalls him expressing interest in several, now and again, though this past year he seems to have discovered the beauties of brunettes. Eden Eibon, Rhyeline Diderot… "I'm really not sure. This one he's courting is a brunette, though, and I think she's more used to people patting her on the head."

As they set into their final course Medusa offers, "If you like I will invite Douglas down for a day or so with Cass' permission and you can meet him then. See what all this fuss is about."

"I'd love to meet your boy — and make sure he's up to snuff." Edwarlinda turns Medusa's earlier words about Rhyeline back upon her, teasingly, in accordance with the prerogatives of an elder sister. "He'd better be taking care of you. On which note…" She leans in slightly across her dessert. "I ought to go soon, the Wizarding Wireless Network is hosting a forum in Diagon Alley to discuss the riots, the Grindelwald book — I've promised Rhyeline I'll go with her. But before I go. Is there anything…" How delicately she approaches both the sweet treat before her, and the other topic in Medusa's letter. "Else you wanted to ask me about?"

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