(1939-01-27) History Hidden in the Curio Shop
Details for History Hidden in the Curio Shop
Summary: Rhyeline encounters Berian at the curio shop that he co-owns. While they dance around the subject of politics, Berian sells Rhyeline an exquisite quill pen with a good story behind it.
Date: Monday, January 27, 1939
Location: Prometheus Emporium

Prometheus Emporium is an elegant affair as far as antique and curio shops go. It is small and narrow, but very high - with walkways on either side and a massive, winding staircase that corkscrews up the middle of the room. Just in front of the staircase is a round desk with a pair of ornate cash registers, each facing in separate directions. The first floor boasts several pieces of furniture, most ornate and odd in true wizarding style. A young witch with horribly natted hair but perfect makeup sits behind the cash register that faces front. A middle-aged man sits at the other, his head down and buried in the books.
Berian Crouch, one half owner of the shop, is holding a clipboard and frowning at a collection of eccentric teacups lined up on a shelf. He touches them each as he goes and makes a note. He is dressed impeccably, but with little flourishes of wizarding eccentricity, such as the violet and yellow kerchief in the pocket of his tailored suit, and a peek of canary yellow socks at his slightly short pants, as well as a pair of wing tip shoes in various muted shaded of red and blue.

The second sign of wealth, after her exquisite silk dress, is the pair of guardwitches that follow close after the slight creature stepping into the shop. Rhyeline pauses for a moment, her young, dark gaze widening in hushed awe as she takes in the peculiar elegance of the shop. Her clothes suit her, reflecting taste and innocence. Hands clasped tight behind her back, she ventures deeper into the shop, wandering slowly until she comes upon the eccentric teacups. The little one tilts her head to the side a bit as she gazes at them. The pair of witches following wear robes of the same, functiona cut favored by most magical law enforcement, except these are of far better quality than what most could afford. Well-paid private security.

For a time, Berian had ambitions to be a Hit Wizard. So he knows muscle when he sees it. He doesn't give attention to the young woman right away. He purposefully keeps his attention on the teacups for a few moments longer. Then he turns to her, eyebrows lifting. "May I…" he clears his throat. "May I help you?"

Rhyeline peeks up at the man standing not far from her. Hands still clasped behind her back, her eyes flicker to the teacups once more before she murmurs, "They are beautiful… unique… where are they from?"

"Oh, all over. My brother has an eye for lovely things that look different, but have something in common. He's gathered them over the years. Refuses to sell them except as a set. I imagine they'll be gathering dust for awhile." Berian grins, but it's a tad tight.

Rhyeline shifts a bit, glancing from him to the teacups. Each time she peeks up at him, the subtle warmth in her cheeks deepens. At last, she murmurs in a rather soft tone, "I'd love to know their stories…" Her dark gaze lingers on Berian with a quiet shyness.

Berian arches a brow and then chuckles. "Well, you're quite good." He clears his throat. "Is there something in particular you're looking to find? My brother would be the one to tell you the story of the teacups, and I'm afraid he's not in."

The blush deepens at his chuckle and quickly, she lowers her gaze. "I see…" The little one hesitates before she glances back up at him. "I… I just… I wanted to come and see the beautiful things. Is… is there something that… you might recommend?"
"It's not a diner, miss. Usually people come in here looking for something in particular." Berian pushes a rolling ladder over and climbs up to straighten a set of silver candlesticks. "Are you shopping for a gift? Something for a particular room?"

Rhyeline's hands tighten behind her back as she quickly lowers her gaze once more. Taking a small step back, she shakes her head. "No… But… if something struck me as- as suiting someone… I might." With a cautious glance back up at him, she murmurs, "Forgive me… I… I just wanted to look around."

"You're welcome to," says Berian. He climbs down the ladder and straightens his cuffs and his jacket. "I'm afraid I'm not a horribly good salesman. I work for the ministry, but I own this shop with my brother. I come in to oversee things on his days off." He motions towards a cabinet behind the spiral staircase. "We have a lovely collection of pocket watches."

Rhyeline pauses, watching him with a touch of cautious curiosity. Silent, she follows towards the collection of pocket watches, but her dark gaze lingers on Berian. "You work for the Ministry?"

"I do, yes. Muggle Liaison. My father started this shop. He wanted it to be full of Muggle things, but it never caught on. Within a year, we were carrying all sorts of curios." Berian leads her to a cabinet lined with a hundred different pocketwatches, each affixed to a red velvet background, each ticking away in time.

Rhyeline draws closer, captivated by the intricate designs etched into the silver and cold of the pocketwatches. For a moment, it might seem as if she's forgotten what he said, but at last, she murmurs in a rather soft tone, "I used to work in the I.M.C… an assistant to diplomatic efforts… Muggle society… it has always fascinated me…"

"Fascinating. The way wild animals are fascinating." Berian flares his nostrils, but then regains his composure and lifts his chin. "Forgive me. Politics with customers, that's a no no." He lifts a finger. "Again, I'm not the salesman." He pulls out a key ring and opens the cabinet, then reaches in to pull out a delicate little pocketwatch. It's round and the size of a two pence coin. There are delicate floral designs etched into the surface. He pops it open to reveal a watch under a dome that magnifies the tiny silver numbers. The second hand spins smoothly around.

Rhyeline blinks, peeking up at him. The girl studies him even as he opens the cabinet for her. Not until he presents her with the delicate little pocketwatch is she distracted. Her dark gaze shines at the sight of something so lovely. Her lips part just a bit in awed appreciation. "It's lovely…" she murmurs, but then hesitates, looking back up at him. "I don't need a pocket watch though… but… as a gift… Do you have one etched with serpents?"

Berian inclines his head and hangs the tiny little pocketwatch up. Then he tugs over a footstool (he's not a particularly tall man) and reaches for the top row. He pulls down a gold pocketwatch that is burnished with age, but still in excellent condition. It has a symmetrical design of intricate art deco style serpents that coil around each other. He pushes it open, to reveal gears that can't be ivory, but they certainly look it - and a pair of hands that curve like snake fangs.

Rhyeline seems fascinated by the coiling serpents and the grandeur of its burnished quality. At the sight of the snake fang hands, she bites her lower lip, hesitating before she murmurs, "It's lovely…" Tucking a loose wisp of a curl behind her ear, he looks a touch self-conscious before she murmurs, "I- I serve as… as Cassius Malfoy's assistant." Of course, he might have seen her on his arm at a number of recent political events. "You seem a man of taste… Do… do you think it- it might suit him?"

"A watch or a piece of jewellery is a very personal purchase, miss. I don't know the history of all my watches, but it seems a fair bet that this watch was owned by many proud Slytherins over the years." Berian inclines his head. "I'd say those who know him best would know his taste best."

"I… I am also his- his consort… and… it does seem like- like something he'd appreciate… but… I… I just- wanted to know what you thought…" murmurs Rhyeline, lowering her gaze as she turns a bit pink once more.

Berian extends his hands and separates his fingers. He affects a small bow. "I defer to your judgment. I would hate to lead you astray. Then you would return here and demond your money back. And a woman such as yourself returning something to my shop would not look favourably upon me."

With a small nod, Rhyeline gazes at the pocket watch for a little longer. "I'd like to know its story… Perhaps once- once I've… I've done some research… I will return for it… Thank you though…"

"As you wish," says Berian. He takes the watch back and hangs it carefully in the cabinet. He latches it closed. "You're fond of the stories behind things, aren't you?"

Rhyeline peeks up at him for a moment before nodding. "History… the stories behind things… that's where lies the value of things. A pebble from the beach picked up by the hand of Merlin we would cherish, while all others we would simply discard…"

"Well, normally this place would be a treasure trove of stories. My brother is very fond of knowing the history behind things. As I said, I'm not here often enough to absorb them. Ah, but," Berian holds up a finger. He moves around towards a cabinet. "There is an item here that I happened to purchase for the shop myself." He opens a drawer and pulls out a wooden box. It's intricately carved with snakes curled into celtic knots. "This comes from the Highlands, from a small village called Ullapool. A wizard lived there, who made pens and shipped them all over the Wizarding world. One evening, he was feeding his chickens. He heard a rustle from the nearby bushes. There had been weasel attacks on his coop, so he drew his wand." He rocks back and extends his hand as if he was drawing his own. "And out slithered an adder. This was a very unusual adder. She has the most brilliant green scales." He tips up the side of the box to show snakeskin of a brilliant emerald green attached to the box. "He didn't kill the snake, no. He wouldn't do that to such a lovely creature. But it seemed the snake had reached the end of its life. It slithered up to the penmaker and died at his feet. Well," he claps his hands together. "The penmaker wouldn't let such a happenstance go to waste. So he made this…" He opens the box and reveals a thin and wicked looking pen, with a fang for a nib, along with two vials of ink nestled into it, one green and one black. The handle sports a dark brown feather.

Rhyeline follows him to the new cabinet and watches him and the wooden box with hushed curiosity. As his story unfolds, she can't help but take a small step closer, head tilted as she listens, entranced. When at last he reveals the pen, she gives a small gasp, gazing at the pen as if she were a kitten caught in the stare of the snake itself. Though she remains silent, the effect the pen has on her is written clear as day in her young and rather expressive gaze. It frightens her, but at the same time, it captivates her.

"Even of I was a Muggle who thought magic was a mere fairytale, I'd believe there was magic in that pen," says Berian as he points to it. "It came to us from an estate of a gentleman who passed away. A pure-blood line, to be certain. Though I'd have to check my records to tell you from which family."

"I'd… like to know… I think… Cassius would appreciate this pen…" murmurs Rhyeline in a hushed tone. Her eyes remain fixed upon the exquisite writing tool.

"It has your story. If he likes stories as much as you, you could write it out for him with the pen and include it. That would be a thoughtful and personal touch." Berian reaches into the box to pull out the vial of green ink. "We went to a great deal of trouble to find an ink that matched the shade of the snake's scales. It's of the finest quality, I assure you."

A soft, shy smile touches Rhyeline's lips as she peeks back up at Berian at last. "I'd… I'd like to have it… To- to purhcase it… please."

"Certainly," says Berian. He sets the ink back in and holds out the box, bidding her to set it back in. "I'm glad I could find an item of interest to you."

"Thank you for your help… if- if it's not in a book, I- I'm not so good at finding things…" she murmurs as she draws closer to return the ink to its place. Lifting her gaze, she peeks up into Berian's eyes with quiet curiosity. "You don't care much for muggles… do you prefer the shop?"

"No, not at all. I have met individual Muggles who are fine people. I even have a few Muggleborn friends." Berian straightens his collar. "It's Muggle society that worries me. They're ruled by fear and suspicion. They sit still while dangerous men ascend to power." His features tighten. "My work is important. I like to think part of what I do is protect us from the ignorance of the outside world."

Rhyeline gives a small, solemn nod. "I see… then… recent events… they must concern you a great deal." She tucks a loose wisp of a curl behind her ear as she continues to watch him.

Berian goes behind the counter and starts the business of packing up the pen. It gets wrapped in soft tissue paper. "Ah, here we are talking politics again." There's a glimmer in his eyes. "That's a no-no in the world of retail." He rings up the purchase. It's not exactly a bargain, but it's not unfair considering the item in question.

Rhyeline can't help but smile at that subtle glimmer in his eyes, but nods when he side-steps such a conversation once more. She observes the price, but seems to find no issue with it. "Is… is it alright if I send payment? I- I don't tend to carry so much with me. My name is Rhyeline Diderot…"

"Berian Crouch," he says in return. "How about I post this to you, and the owl can collect payment upon delivery? It would save you carrying it with you. It is a bit cumbersome."

Rhyeline's soft smile brightens. "Yes… thank you, I- I'd appreciate that. It… it can be sent to 315 Lambeth… Thank you… Mr. Crouch…"

"Of course, Miss Diderot." Berian arches his brows and habitually, unconsciously, bites the lower left corner of his lip. "I hope I didn't offend you. As I said, I've met many Muggles who are fine people, if…a little narrow-minded in their world view before they're shown the truth."

"No… I agree… and… that's why… I think muggles need our help. As individuals, they are good people… just like us. But- their political systems…" Rhyeline hesitates, biting her own lower lip as she peeks up at him. "Such violence and conflict… there is beauty in their world… but also… much darkness…"

"We aren't without our own problems, but the scale of it in the Muggle world…" Berian shakes his head. He pats a hand on the package. "I will post this for you soon. Expect it this evening. I do hope your friend enjoys it."

Rhyeline gives a small nod, acknowledging the great truth of his words. "Thank you…" she murmurs with a soft smile. "It was nice to meet you, Mr. Crouch… Good day to you…"

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