|Scene Title||An Unusual Offer|
|Synopsis||Septima runs into Madeline and surprises the young woman with an unexpected offer.|
|Date||September 17, 1994|
|Watch For||Threats of matchmaking.|
The Apothecary. What a wonderful place. It smells horrible, but it works. Today, Septima Falton is on a quest to find some ingredients for a potion that she plans on brewing. Not a difficult potion mind you, as she's not the most adept potion maker. She's read about them plenty, as she tends to do. 'Be well versed on any topic imaginable.' That's her motto, and it's served her well over many a soiree in which she has intended.
Madeline steps into the shop, coughing just a bit at the overwhelming smell of the place. She isn't used to coming here and she'd rather forgotten how bad it could get. She takes a breath in through her mouth, managing to recover fairly quickly, and then she starts making her way along the dim aisles, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the darkness in here. She doesn't immediately recognize the fellow patron as she reaches up to pull a claw down from where it hangs, giving it a curious look. It's a mean-looking thing, all talons and still slightly bloody stump, but she just turns it over in her hand, studying it thoughtfully.
Septima picks up a few feathers from another aisle before turning down the one that Madeline happens to be in as well. The blonde, older woman smiles softly as she recognizes her. "Miss Sagace…planning on brewing a potion of protection, are we?" She grins. "That looks like the talon of a baby griffon." She says to explain. "Griffon's are known for their protection of many, many different properties that wizards and witches hold."
As soon as she hears her name, Madeline's first instinct is to try to hide the claw or set it aside as if she hadn't realized what she was holding or even why she's in such a shop. It's just a fleeting thing though, until she recognizes Septima and gives a flickering, uncertain grin, jerkily stopping her motions to put the claw down atop the nearest barrel. "Mrs. Falton. Hello," she greets politely, listening to the explanation as she looks back down at the claw she holds. "I was just … wondering if it hurt. When it lost this. But I suppose it was probably already dead." Neither exactly troubles her too much - it's just curiosity, not actual concern. And then not lingering on that, she looks back up. "You're well, I hope?"
Septima continues to have a smile upon her lips as she tilts her head in curiosity. "You are quite right. Most likely dead before it lost that appendage. With certain kinds of hunters, they get the griffon just as it's born. They'll wait near the nest for days, or weeks if need be, just to get it. Other people prefer, however, that the claw be that of one that has been allowed to mature slightly. They say that whatever potion it's used in shall be much more strong. It's really a big debate in the end." She says in explanation, not that one was really asked for. A nod is given to Madeline. "Yes, I am quite well, thank you. And what of yourself? How are you? How is that book that I suggested for you?
Whether she asked or not, Madeline still listens, giving the claw another thoughtful look, carefully bringing a finger up to lightly press on one of the talons - not quite enough to break her skin, but to test it for sharpness. Yes, quite sharp. "And … which side do you fall on then? This one … doesn't seem very big. It must have been … quite young, yes?" She holds it up slightly now, looking over at Septima to see if her guess is correct. "I'm … doing very well, thank you," she goes on to reply, sounding a little surprised at how well she is doing now that she thinks about it. "The book was a, uh, an interesting read. I hadn't realized how - how advanced things were. In some ways, it's like we've … gone backwards."
With a careful eye, Septima watches Madeline with a keen observance gained from years of people watching. "I must digress that I have not actually used it in a potion, but there are experts in such fields who would be able to give you much more detail on it's strength than I." She takes a close look at the claw, however, gauging the age that the griffon was. "Yes. Quite young. Griffons, from my understanding, can grow to the same size as hippogriffs." She nods along as she listens to Madeline's view of the book and the current situation of matters. "I do not believe that…we have so much as gone backwards as we have forsaken much of what we have learned. Though…some would say that is taking a few steps back. But then the advancements still stand as is, don't they?"
Madeline somehow finds a way to grow more awkward under that watchful gaze, still not used to people noticing her, let along studying her so carefully - though it is something she's finding happens more often these days. "I was just … curious. If you had an opinion. You do seem to know an awful lot about it. That tends to … give people opinions, doesn't it?" She seems at least somewhat quietly pleased with herself to have guessed that age range right, anyway and goes back to prodding at the claw for another moment before she looks back up again. "It seems we have … given a lot up, yes. And maybe gained a lot too… But it's - it's strange, isn't it, how we can't … gain without losing? Maybe it isn't going forwards or backwards. It's … just standing still, even if - if things change." She pauses and frowns thoughtfully. "I don't know if that even made sense."
Septima smiles kindly at the girl and nods firmly. "I do know a lot about plenty of things, yes. But then, I do have some years under my belt, after all. And perhaps I shall be able to better inform you on other topics." She watches the girl as she prods the claw, thinking things over. "As much as we gain, we could never have gained without that which we lost. So in a sense, we should mind that which is slipping into mere whisp of memory and remember that it has helped us progress into what we have become, no?"
"Not that many years, Mrs. Falton," Madeline replies with a demure smile, the comment quiet but seemingly sincere. "But you are … very well informed, yes. I'd - like to be, perhaps, someday." But somehow, she makes such a simple task sound like a complicated situation. Then again, Septima might not be unaware of how under her parents' thumb the woman remains despite her own age. Mads considers the point made, still looking thoughtful. "I - I suppose it … depends on how one feels about - well, about the gain. Or the loss. But it … seems to me that it rarely helps just - just forgetting the losses. Or pretending that they never occurred."
Septima chuckles lightly at Madeline, placing a soft hand on her shoulder if she is amenable to that. "My dear Miss Sagace, you do surprise me with your flattery. But thank you all the same." She says softly. "Well, if you'd like to be well informed, I can certainly help you with that. Name a topic, general area of studies, or anything specific or of your fancy and perhaps I can suggest a book or two for you to read. And perhaps we can even discuss the subject matter once you are done with the book. Does that sound persuasible to you?"
Madeline seems a little surprised by the kind gesture, but perhaps not unpleasantly so. After a moment of simply looking surprised, she even manages a small, uncertain smile. "I - You're welcome, Mrs. Falton." The offer, as well, surprises her further. "I … would certainly appreciate that, Mrs. Falton. Though I would hate to take up too much of your time. You must be a very busy woman. Only if you were quite sure I wouldn't be an - an imposition?" The offer is certainly a tempting one - and perhaps she should be wary that so many tempting offers have been coming her way lately - but deep down, she's actually enjoying the positive attention for a change.
Septima nods firmly. "I would not worry. I can most assuredly make time for such a wonderful and curious young woman as yourself. It would be my pleasure, in fact. I would not have offered if that were not the case." She says kindly. "Are you curious of potions, or potion lore? If so, I could point you in that direction immediately. Or with any other subject which may come to mind."
As unused to kind gestures as Madeline is, she's even less used to such effusive praise. She goes a bit pink, not quite sure what to do with it, but puffing up a bit with it just the same. A hand comes up to tuck some of her hair back behind an ear as she considers the offer further. "I've been … I've been looking into potions a - a little. Just as a… Well, a side project." She seems hesitant to offer even that much. She pauses, and then starts down a different path. "Perhaps there are … more like the last one you recommended?" she asks rather uncertainly. That not-quite-acceptable magic. Not that she would ever, of course. But it's … interesting, that's all.
Septima smiles widely at Madeline. "Don't be so coy about it, dear. It is very much true. You have a rare liking that I don't see in many woman your age. You seem to have the patience to take the time that is needed to do what you enjoy and to do what you need to get done. That is an admirable trait that most I've seen do not take on." She says to her. "What sort of a side project have you taken on, if you don't mind my intrusion of interest." She says softly. She nods, then, at the question. "'Mysteries of the Dark' is a good book to read if you were interested in the last one. It deals with how magic of that sort has evolved and why, and the possible uses of which have mostly been shunned by mainstream society."
Madeline continues going pinker until she's quite undeniably red, and stares at the claw still in her hand as if it might at any moment reveal to her the meaning of life. "I - I … don't know what to say to that, but … thank you, Mrs. Falton," she replies in a quiet voice, after a long silence. "Though I … don't know that you have me quite right." It takes a moment to recover, which is perhaps why she's freer with her response than she might be otherwise: "I've … arranged for, ah, a few lessons. Just to… Because I'm so rusty," she explains awkwardly, finally looking up from the claw with a self-conscious smile. "'Mysteries of the Dark'," she repeats, sounding intrigued. "I will … have to see if I can find that one. It sounds like a - a fascinating read. Like the last. There is so much … that they don't teach us."
Septima shakes her head. "You are quite welcome, dear." Comes her reply. "Let me see if I can take a guess at you: Quiet, you do the job you're told without question, you strive to be more but don't want to push your luck?" She isn't sure that she's got any of that right so far, but it does no harm to try. "Ah, lessons. Very good. Very good. I must say, I was never the greatest potions brewer. Enjoyed it thoroughly, but was only average at it." She says with a defeated shake of her head. "It is quite the fascinating read. If not thought provoking." She says with a nod. "At school, they only teach the basics. That which they believe you are generally most likely going to come up upon if you pursue such a career or must, in a dire circumstance, defend yourself."
Madeline frowns back down at the claw as she tries to decide if that is a fair assessment or not. "I … suppose that - that isn't too far off the mark, Mrs. Falton. Though that - makes me sound quite … sad," she notes with a faint smile, aiming for wry humour without really meaning it. "My parents…" she begins to explain, before just letting off with a sigh. But perhaps that sums it up well enough. Onward then. "I … don't think I was exceptional, but it - was interesting. Some of them were… fascinating. And I'd like to know how they work." She reaches up to tuck her hair back again. "I don't … use much more than a hover charm in my work. I suppose I could have … left after a few Charms classes." It's a joke, though her tone doesn't really change. "This is - This is more interesting, I think," she admits a bit more quickly, wanting to get it out before she can change her mind. "Though I know it shouldn't be."
With a small nod, Septima says, in a soft and understanding tone, "There is nothing wrong with that, Miss Sagace. Nothing at all. And nothing sad about it. We all have our moments that appear more…" She tries to think of a not-so-offensive word, and failing that, says, "Well, we all have times that seem better than others." She nods. "One may not have seemed exceptional in school, but can more than make up for it during their adult life." She chuckles at Madeline's little joke. "I sometimes feel that way too, my dear." She sighs softly. With a firm shake of her head, she says, "Why should this not be more interesting? It's perfectly natural to be curious and interested in a topic."
"Thank you, Mrs. Falton," Madeline replies in a quiet voice, though she does seem a little bolstered by the supportive words. "You are … very kind." There's a tight smile at that as she glances up at the woman, and then her attention is back on the claw, though her fascination for it has faded. It's simply a safer place to look with all these dangerous topics buzzing about. "I … don't think many would call me exceptional now, either. But I … don't mind that." Not that she isn't looking to change it one of these days, however. "And … what if the topics are - are those that … aren't approved of?" she asks, finding a way to somehow be even more hesitant and speak in an even quieter tone.
Septima shakes her head. "Not at all. Not at all." Her attention fades to the claw for a few moments. "Well, there's no wrong in being average, you know. I certainly would not call myself 'exceptional'." Though perhaps she's just being modest. "As for…topics that are not approved of. Well, there shall always be those. We just…" There's a pause. "Well, we just have to be care of whom we speak to of them." She smiles softly. "Rest assured, I am a safe harbour for such subject matters. You may always come to me and speak of such matters. I do not judge on that."
"I would," Madeline replies, looking up with a swoop of her eyes. "Call you exceptional. You are … not like anyone else I've met." That being one of the definitions of the term, though she also seems to mean it the other way as well, not just unusual but superior. These little kindnesses haven't gone without appreciation from the strange young woman. She pauses then, as Septima offers an open ear, before nodding just once, returning the smile with a self-conscious one of her own. "Again, ah, thank you, Mrs. Falton. I - There aren't many who would… offer that." Again, exceptional.
Septima shakes her head once again. "You are much too kind, my dear." She says as she gazes at the girl. "We all need those who would give us a little nudge along the way, do we not? It is such people who show such kindness that make some of the most impact on our lives." She says calmly, thinking on her life. "I only wish you a safe haven, Miss Sagace, where you can discuss such matters at length without fear of social persecution of ideas and topics thought to be taboo." She says softly. "You've as much right to know about such things as anyone."
"I … suppose we do," Madeline agrees thoughtfully, as to needing a nudge now and then. "I admit I have felt - felt stuck at times. And now things are - there are changes," she decides, with a distant smile. "I think I like changes." It beats all of that awful sameness, day in, day out. "I guess I'm … learning that people can be - be kind, if you … give them that chance." She's still not entirely sure, but it seems a safer bet at this point. The idea of having a right to know about these taboo matters manages to again take her by surprise. "I … would like that. There are - Sometimes I've quite a few thoughts and…" And she had to learn to keep those to herself. The prospect of sharing them is both enticing and a little frightening.
Septima smiles with encouragement. "That is what there are people here for, then, aren't they? To help you become…unstuck." She chuckles softly. "Changes are good, aren't they. They can be good, and supportive, and give you a push in the right direction." She stares at the young woman for a few moments. "People are amazing at times. When given the chance to be." She agrees with the statement. She doesn't seem to be surprised herself that Madeline might be surprised that she has a right, in someone's opinion, to know about such things. Nor does she seem too surprised that Madeline has had some ideas of her own. "Well, such thoughts, though I do wish to hear them, are best suited to not be spoken here, no doubt. People are uncomfortable with such topics."
"I … didn't really know why there were people," Madeline replies thoughtfully. That they were there just to get her unstuck seems a bit of a stretch, but an interesting idea, nonetheless. "Yes. Changes are good, I think. I … suppose I will know for sure once I'm through with them." There's a faint smile to accompany that, and she doesn't seem too worried these will turn out for the worse. For one thing, it's hard to get much lower than her current position in life. She casts a sidelong glance around the shop at Septima's warning about people being uncomfortable. "I know," she replies, for once without any hesitation. Though this does remind her: "Mrs, Falton, if you would … not mention this to my parents…" she begins, back to hesitating and halting. "They … don't approve of - much." Yes, that sounds about right.
Septima shakes her head thoughtfully. "Changes are, for the most part, quite good. Sometimes we just do not see the good right away." She says softly, considering this. Once more, there's a shake of her head. "No. Of course not. I shan't mention this to your parents. As lovely as they are, I do get the impression that they would not appreciate of such matters being spoken of. This shall be our little secret, okay? None other must know of it." She says kindly to the other woman.
Madeline listens to Septima's musing on changes, giving a thoughtful nod in agreement to this philosophy. "I … guess I will see, then," she notes with a small smile. No, change doesn't seem to worry her, at least. There's some relief, though, when Septima promises to keep this from the elder Sagaces. "A secret, yes," she repeats, nodding several times. "I think that would be for the best. They are … cautious people." Her tone is carefully diplomatic on that one.
Septima chuckles lightly. "Worry not, Miss Sagace. If your parents come around enquiring as to why we have been spending so much time together, I shall merely fabricate a story. An excuse of some kind. Let me worry of that." She says with a bow of her head. "I've a life time worth of cautious people, after all. In a position such as mine, where wealth and influence may sometimes come into play, they tend to appear quite often." She says with a small smile. "But as I say, let me worry of that."
Madeline gives Septima a careful and thoughtful look, something quite a bit bolder than she'd usually dare. But then, while she might quite happily go skipping down this primrose path, she doesn't trust that easily, at least not when it comes to the extremely complicated matter of her parents. But after just a moment, she drops her gaze again and nods. "All right. Thank you. I … imagine you would have some, ah, experience at it," she agrees with a small smile, a little impressed with that.
Septima doesn't break the gaze from Madeline, almost as if to encourage her to speak what is currently on her mind. But then again…looks like she might actually have to work on that a little bit. A gentle finger is placed under Madeline's chin to lightly bring her gaze up. "Dear, please don't lower your gaze. You have such beautiful eyes. How do you expect all the boys to notice them if you're gazing downward?" She says with a soft smile. "I have some experience, yes." She says with a small twinkle in her eye.
Madeline seems a little surprised to find her gaze being lifted, but she doesn't fight it. Her cheeks again tinge a little pink at the compliment, though it barely computes. "I - don't," she replies, as to expecting to the boys to notice her eyes. She doesn't expect much anyone to notice anything about her, but certainly not members of the opposite sex noticing her as a woman. Not that it hasn't happened, but much to their dismay, she's only ever remained oblivious. "You move so easily with - with all of this," is noted, either towards being noticed or having experience with these cautious sorts and playing them as need be. Mads isn't envious so much as in awe of that skill.
Septima looks upon Madeline with a soft gaze. "Dear…men are an interesting thing. But this I know…they have attempted to win the graces of those less stunning as you." And that's what she has to say about that. "I move easily as is the way, my dear. I had many lessons as a child in 'how to be a lady'. And those taught me some important lessons. For one thing: Always notice those who seem to go unnoticed. Why? Because they usually are the most interesting of the group. As I have come to see with you. I am glad that I have gotten the chance to meet with and talk more in depth with you."
It may not make a lot of sense to Madeline, but she doesn't dismiss this advice about men - or any of the advice that Septima offers. Clearly the older woman understands these things in a way that Madeline never will. But at least she can hope to learn from this. "My parents tried to teach me," she speaks quietly of those unpleasant lessons in etiquette. But she doesn't seem inclined to linger on that any longer that to speak that simple sentence. No, Septima's own story is much more interesting. "I … don't know that I'm very interesting. Yet. But … I am glad we've spoken more as well." Her tone doesn't change much, but there is a sincere smile to accompany the last sentence. She's quite a bit glad, really.
Septima looks at the young woman over a few times, seeming to take the woman in for her worth. "You know, Miss Sagace…I may know a few gentleman to your liking, if you'd be amenable." She says cautiously. She does not stay long on the topic of etiquette, however. "It certainly hasn't done any harm, our talking. In fact, I think it can lead to more interesting topics and better mutual understanding." She says.
Madeline's cheeks go a bit pink at that offer, or perhaps at being so carefully studied. She finally drops her gaze again, looking a little uncertain. "I … don't know. I haven't- I don't have a … lot of experience with - with that sort of … thing," it comes out in an awkward, rambling, rolling thing as she tries to figure a way to say it without actually saying it. There's a pause before she brightens somewhat again at Septima's optimistic outlook on their conversing. "Do you really think so? I - would like that," she agrees with another of those inward smiles.
Septima shakes her head and tsks lightly, but not in a chastising way. "My dear, I will gladly help you in any way that you require in such a happenstance. I would be happy to impart my experiences to you." Though she has always been confident with boys. With a looks outside, she blinks. "Oh my…well, it is getting late. As much as I'd love to chat ever so much more, I must pay for my items and be off. But it was such a pleasure, Miss Sagace. Send me an owl and we shall arrange a time to meet once more. In fact, I offer you an open invitation to my home whenever you may like, and we shall get the chance to speak some more."
Madeline still seems a little unsure what to do with this particular offer, but she nods in agreement, at least seeming to take it under consideration. At least if she could understand men, that'd be half the species down, right? She follows the older woman's gaze to the window and seems a little surprised at the time herself. "Yes, I - I'm sorry to have kept you so long, but … thank you. For everything. I - won't forget this kindness, Mrs. Falton," she promises quite solemnly. "I will … see you soon, I hope." There's another sincere smile to that before she sets the claw aside and starts heading to the door, giving her head a little bob in farewell.