|Synopsis||Madeline takes Septima up on her offer to discuss these things that oughtn't be discussed.|
|Date||September 25, 1994|
|Watch For||Philosophizing on good and evil.|
The Faltons hold an estate that one can only describe as beauty. While not quite the size of some other like, for example, the Malfoys, it can still hold it's own, showing that there is 'old money' belonging to this family. Add to that the old money from Septima's parents, the Miltons, and you can do wonders. There are gardens that start at the front of the house with a myriad of plants and flowers that wrap themselves around the sides of the Manor and into the back. There is a path that leads from the front roadway down through the gardens and to the front door. Once there, one can either choose to knock by the menial means of their hands, or use the knocker, which takes the shape of a snake.
Madeline Apparates in, politely of course, just outside the property line. It leaves her with a bit of a walk to reach the door, but that's hardly minded, especially on such a fair day. She neither dallies nor rushes, taking the time of the walk to admire the grounds of the estate. Once she finally reaches the door, she takes a moment to compose herself, straightening her hair and cloak, before she reaches out - and after a slight hesitation, opts to use the snake knocker, smiling just faintly at that little touch in the decor.
As per usual (if a person came to the estate enough to know the usual), the family House Elf opens up the door, wearing a potato sack. She looks up at the young woman. With a curtsy, she croaks out, "How might I help the Miss this evening?"
Madeline looks down at the House Elf, her eyebrows lifting just a little. "It's, ah, Miss Sagace here to see Mrs. Falton," she explains, her gaze lifting from the Elf after a moment so that she can glance into the house beyond - though she doesn't really expect to see too very much from here. "Is Mrs. Falton in?" While certainly a far way from being rude, her tone with the House Elf isn't quite so demure and deferential as when speaking to her fellow witches and wizards.
The House Elf curtsies once more. "If the Miss would follow me, I shall take the Miss to the Mistress right away! The Mistress has been expecting you." She chirps and makes a motion for Madeline to follow into the grand entryway. There are stairs leading up to a second level, while doors on either side leading to a living room and an anteroom respectfully. The House Elf leads Madeline forward, using her own magic to close the door behind the young witch. Down a hallway of various doors, they stop near the end and turn to a door on the right. It is opened to a private chamber with a fire place with a roaring fire, a desk with a small chair wooden chair with an ornate design on it, and a table between two larger, more comfortable looking chairs that are seated beside the fire. At the desk is Septima, writing on a piece of parchment, quill scratching away. As the door groans open, however, she places the quill down and looks over her shoulder at the door. She gives the House-Elf a nod. "Thank you, Trinket. That shall be all for now." And the Elf bows out, walking backwards until she is out of sight. Septima stands from her seat in the wooden chair and walks over to the young woman, smiling. "Miss Sagace, how lovely to see you. And quite on time as well. Very good." She places a gentle hand on the other woman's shoulder and guides her to the seats by the fire. "Please, have a seat. Can I offer you anything to drink?" She asks, taking her own place in one of the seats.
Madeline follows the House Elf with a small nod, unable to keep from looking around curiously as they make their way down the hall. Certainly Madeline is impressed, but at least comes from enough money herself to not be completely overwhelmed at the opulence. By the time they reach the appropriate door, she's turned her attention back to the matter at hand, stepping just over the threshold and offering a demure smile. "Hello Mrs. Falton. Thank you for the invitation," she offers in quietly polite tones, as she lets herself be led over to the fire, taking one of the empty seats there. She settles into the chair, legs crossed at the ankle, hands gathered together in her lap. "Oh, well … anything you're having would be fine," she decides as to the offer of a drink. "Things are … well, I hope?" A hand comes up to absently tuck some hair back behind her ear before it settles in her lap again.
The room in which they are situated is, unlike the rest of the mansion, rather plain. The walls have two paintings on either side of the fireplace mantle. One of a man and the other of a woman, both of whom look rather distinguished. Septima smiles softly. "Well, we've got pumpkin juice, an assortment of wines, tea. Or if there's something else you'd prefer, just ask and it shall be yours. Perhaps you'd like something to snack on as well?"
Madeline's gaze does flicker over the portraits, but her attention is primarily reserved for Septima right now. "Ah… tea, perhaps?" she replies, sounding as if she's guessing at the right answer than just giving one. "It's stating to get cold out now," she adds, maybe by way of explaining the choice of hot beverage. This at least serves to remind her that she's still wearing her cloak, and her hands come up to at least unfasten it where it's being held together by a simple brooch. "I don't think a snack will be necessary, but … thank you. You're always most generous," she notes with a demure smile.
With the slightest of nods, she says, "Would you prefer cream, milk, or sugar in your tea? Or do you drink it black?" Septima smiles kindly at the young woman. She gives a small indication of the portraits. "My mother and father. Such a wonderful pair. They raised me right and proper, I would like to think." She says softly. "I am only as generous as I keep company. My husband would much rather say he's the generous one." She says with a light chuckle.
"A little cream and sugar, please, if it isn't too much trouble," Madeline replies with a small smile of her own, her attention going back to the paintings as Septima indicates them. With the explanation given, they do seem to hold her attention a little more. "They sound … like very nice people," she replies after a moment, her gaze a little slower to return to the older woman now. "Well, you've always been quite generous to me," she notes; and really, isn't that what matters? "I … don't think I've met your husband yet, have I?" Sometimes those parties of her parents' can blur together.
"Trinket." Septima says clearly, and a second later the House Elf appears in the room before them. "Bring us some tea. Miss Sagace with have a little cream and sugar. I'll have my usual with just cream." Trinket curtsies and a few moments later arrives back with the tea, placing the respective cups in front of each of them, leaving the two women to their devices once more. Septima shakes her head. "No, I do not believe you have met my husband. Or if you have, I am unaware of it. Liam is quite the wonderful husband. Loving, caring. I couldn't ask for more." Is said with a gentle airy admiration in her voice.
Madeline watches as the little House Elf goes about her business fetching them tea, her expression just slightly thoughtful, but then, when hasn't it been these days? Once the tea is delivered and Septima goes on to answer her question, Mads relaxes just a little into the chair, though her posture remains rather impeccable. A small, almost wistful smile touches her lips as she listens. "I'm glad. You … seem as though you deserve someone as good as that. How was it that you two met? …If you don't mind my asking," she tacks on, turning suddenly just a little uncertain.
Septima smiles softly once more at Madeline. "We met back in school. We were in the same year and both in Slytherin. Didn't start going out with him until…well, until our last year. I'd had my hand at a few other before him. But that isn't discussed all too often, you understand." She says with a playful little glint in her eye. "How about yourself, Miss Sagace? Do you have anyone special in your life?"
"Of course," Madeline replies with a small secretive smile, as to understanding what Septima means. She starts reaching for her tea but then stops as the question is turned back on herself. She really should have seen that coming, but ends up looking a bit like a deer in the headlights. "Me? Oh, ah, no. I- No," she replies, gone rather awkward again. It doesn't take much. "I've been…" She trails off, unable to think of the right way to finish that. 'Busy' wouldn't exactly be true. 'Oblivious' might be more accurate, but she lacks the self-awareness to think of that answer.
Septima should have seen that response as well, really. She seems to recall asking something of the like before. "Look, I know plenty of nice young men. I'll introduce you." It doesn't seem so much a request as it is her making a statement of a fact. "Now, onto other matters. I do believe, back at the potion store, you were going to ask me a question, were you not? Well, in here, any and all questions are acceptable. Do not fear asking any question on any topic you wish to ask. Especially in those matters of the Dark Arts, which we seem to have taken an interesting in discussing."
"Really, that-" Madeline begins trying to insist that such introductions won't be necessary, having gone a little pink just at the idea of it - but then she's distracted as Septima goes on to these other matters. She's momentarily at a loss, having it put to her so plainly. "Yes, the, ah - the Dark Arts," she goes on after a moment, unable to keep from glancing back over her shoulder, still feeling a little wrong at the idea of pulling these things out into the light. "How- I mean, when … did you start…? Was it - something you were always interested in?" Whether or not that's what she meant to ask in the apothecary, she goes with it for now.
Septima waves a hand to Madeline before going on to these other topics. "I've always been interested, I must say. Intrigued. Defence Against the Dark Arts was always my best subject in school, got an Outstanding on those subjects for both my OWL and my NEWT electives in the area of Defence Against the Dark Arts and Advanced Defensive Theory. My interests sprung from there and I began reading more and more about them." Not to mention other ways of discovering them.
"And people… were all right with that?" Madeline asks with just the slightest hint of surprise. Though from the way her gaze flickers over to those portraits, she might be wondering more specifically about Septima's parents - though society at large certain is a concern as well, no doubt. "But - Defense Against the Dark Arts, that's … all right, isn't it? I suppose I don't quite, ah, understand where … it is that it stops being all right," she admits, glancing down into the fire with a slight frown.
Septima takes a slow, deliberate sip of her tea as she listens to Madeline. "Society has a misconception, at times, in regards to the Dark Arts. To properly be able to defend against it, you must know that which you are defending against. People perceive, however, reading it as otherwise. Now, I will not deny a certain intrigue, a certain allure I feel towards such matters. To do so would be doltish. But I dare not say so to most as they would most assuredly tell me that I am foolish to feel so. But there is nothing wrong with being curious."
Madeline nods her head a few times, the gesture almost emphatic compared to her usual contained, subdued movements. There's some relief there as well, as Septima assures her there's nothing wrong with being curious. "It's just - I've always… All that power," she mentions in a hushed, almost reverential tone. "E-evil power, of course," she adds quickly, reigning it in. "But still, it's … hard not to be impressed with some of the - things you hear. Have you-" she begins to ask, before thinking better of it. Instead, she picks up her tea to have a sip of it.
Septima chuckles softly. "Madeline…may I call you Madeline?" It's only polite to make sure. "When it comes to the Dark Arts and that which defends against it, there is not really a…a 'good' or 'evil'. Not in the true senses of the words. There is more of a…a power struggle. It is all about which is more powerful and which can defeat the other. Not really good nor evil." She tries to explain to the girl. "Have I ever what, dear?"
Madeline gives a quick little nod. "Of course, Mrs. Falton," she grants easily, seeming more pleased than anything at the idea; though clearly she isn't going to take the same liberty until she's invited to. Her gaze returns from the fire as she listens to Septima explain this delicate matter. "So it's … a power struggle, yes, I - I can understand that," she decides, nodding more slowly now as she turns over this information in her mind. "And whichever side is … winning, they call themselves good, is that it?" she hazards a guess. As she's prodded on her unfinished question, there's a long pause before Mads finishes in a tone scarcely loud enough to be heard over the fire into which she's gone back to staring: "…been tempted?"
Septima nods firmly. "Please, call me Septima. I am called 'Mrs. Falton' all day by near everyone but my husband and children anymore." She says softly. "And yes, that is correct. The winning side always considers itself to be 'good' while the other side is 'bad' or 'evil'." She seems please that the other woman is catching on. And the last question…the more personal one. Well, she did say that this would be a safe haven for talking. "Have I been tempted by the Dark Arts?" She takes a deep breath in and lets it out slowly. "In all honesty, Madeline? Yes, I have." She says, nodding slightly. "I will not pretend otherwise."
"All right … Septima," Madeline replies, finding it a little strange to be so familiar with someone so poised as Septima - but not altogether unpleasant, to judge by the small smile that accompanies it. Another slow thoughtful nod is given then as the woman goes on to confirm her interpretation. Somehow, it seems much easier to catch onto things that are already going in a direction you like. And then as the conversation moves into this even riskier territory, Madeline finds herself almost holding her breath without meaning to. She's surprised by the answer - either by the answer itself or simply by Septima's plain honesty. She opens her mouth to reply with something, but can't quite wrap her mind around what.
Septima smiles kindly at Madeline. "I understand that these are topics not usually discussed. It must feel…strange, to talk about them. But we all need to indulge every now and again. We all need to explore our darker tendencies. If we do not, then we come to fear them out of misunderstanding." She furthers on. Taking a sip of her tea, she examines the young woman. "I believe, however, that if we are to have greater understanding of the world that surrounds us, we must understand all aspects of it. The light and the dark."
Under closer scrutiny, it's clear that Madeline isn't upset or displeased about Septima's own temptation, but just genuinely surprised. She does struggle with it though, since it is a hard thing to bring into the light that which has been kept so deeply buried for so long. "I'm not afraid of them," she finally comes up with, speaking quietly but steadily for the moment, as she keeps her gaze on the fire, where it seems a little safer. "I just always thought there was something a bit … wrong with me." Which might be neither here nor there, really. "I'd like to understand the world more. I'd like to … understand people. Myself. Anything, really."
Septima watches Madeline as she sips her own tea. "My dear Madeline, there is nothing wrong with you at all. A strong curiosity is healthy." She says, placing the tea cup gently on her lap. "Am I to understand…have you been tempted as well, by such forces, Madeline? It is alright if you have. And you may tell me. It is safe here. You shall receive no judgement from myself." She seems genuine in her statement, smiling at the young woman. "This is a space for understanding. You may ask me anything you wish about it and I shall do my best to answer."
"My parents would disagree," Madeline replies in a tone perhaps a little too devoid of any inflection at all - and no clarification whether the disagreement would be about the healthiness of curiosity or something being wrong with their only child. There isn't too long to dwell on it though, as Septima turns the question back on her. Her gaze finally leaves the fire to look over at the other woman, her expression almost stricken. "I-" she begins, before taking a long pause; finally drawing a breath before trying again. "May-maybe once or … or twice," she admits quietly, though it takes some effort to fight her instincts and be honest on that front, whatever reassurances she's received.
"Your parents needn't know, however." Is Septima's quick reply. They can cross that bridge if they need to, regardless. There's a nod in understanding. "Of course you have." She says. "It's only natural, you know. Some may say otherwise, but they just don't know what it's like…being so close and what it's like to be really tempted. That is why I am here, though. To help. To lend an ear of understanding and a voice of reason and assurance. I am here to help you understand your own curiosity towards the Dark Arts, to indulge your fascination. What other questions might you have, Madeline?"
"No, I'm coming to find there's … quite a bit they don't need to know," Madeline agrees quietly, though there is some relief that Septima is in no rush to go telling them. It would somewhat defeat the point of the exercise. Her gaze slowly returns to the other woman as she takes that confession so easily in stride. She remains quiet for a moment, letting the question hang as she considers it. "How … do you indulge it without getting caught?" she finally goes on, her voice still kept low, not so much borne of paranoia but just because it seems somehow easier to talk of these things in half-whispers.
Septima takes a deep, slow and deliberate breath in and out. "Very good question." She starts slowly. "Well…in these days of suspicion, you do it discreetly. Buy a book, put it in your bag right away. Buy a dark object, hide it away quickly until you get home to examine it in private. In Knockturn Alley, it is a bit more easy. No one there shall judge you, for they are all into the Dark Arts there. But anything from there is best be put away before entering Diagon Alley."
Madeline listens to the advice, slightly wide-eyed and paying rapt attention. Perhaps if she had a quill and parchment, she'd be jotting down notes for future reference. "Home … isn't always so private," she notes, glancing askance at the portraits and then down into her tea. Still living with those aforementioned parents, poor dear. "But I've … a hiding place or two. For things." She takes another sip of her tea. "I've been down Knockturn Alley," she goes on in a different tone, not quite sure if that's a confession or a bit of a point of pride. "I think I rather like it."
Septima nods ever so slightly, lifting her cup up to take a sip of tea. "I can understand. Parents can be a tad bit prying." She says softly. "Knockturn can be quite useful in matters of the Dark Arts." She says, nodding. "It's one of those places that allow you to indulge without feeling guilty about doing so."
"Yes," Madeline replies simply and without hesitation to the matter of prying parents, though there's something in her tone to suggest that might not even be the half of it. But she's rather talk about Knockturn, which helps her awkward smile to return. "Yes, it's quite … liberating. Though it was a little distressing when that book tried to eat my shoe, I've otherwise … very much enjoyed my time there. I don't - understand why some people think it's so very wrong."
Septima shakes her head. "Always, with the books that try to eat you or something of yours, try a stunning spell. Otherwise, there may be a weak spot that you might find that will immobilize them." She says, seemingly knowledgeable about that as well. "People believe that Knockturn Alley is wrong for the same reason they believe the Dark Arts are inherently wrong. Because it's different and is perceived to cause nothing but harm to those who enter the premises of such a place."
"A stunning spell. All right," Madeline agrees, filing this away with another small nod. "I should have thought of that. But at the time, I was … just trying to get free," she admits, her smile turning a little sheepish. It fades into a more thoughtful expression as the conversation goes on. "I don't see how a place can do harm. Or - or knowledge. It is … only what we do with it, isn't it? Though I suppose there is the temptation…" she has to admit. "But there's nothing wrong with just - walking there." The sentence ends up somewhere between a question and a statement.
Septima smiles a little. "We do not always think of what might seem apparent. It is the curse of being human, after all." She says kindly. "A place cannot do harm, of course, unless it has a curse or jinx set upon it. It is people who do the harm in question." She states. "And people will always be tempted. As we both know all too well, don't we?" She takes a deep breath in. "But no, nothing wrong with just walking somewhere."
"To err is human. But I'm … working on it," Madeline says just a little wryly, though she might not actually be joking. She takes another sip of her tea, offering a small but sincere smile as Septima points out how well they both know temptation - it's a new sort of thrill to have someone in on this with her, that's for certain. "Why … do you think some people are more tempted than others? You said yourself that you - you were always interested. And I … was the same. Even before school, I had - I'd found these books…"
Septima shakes her head. "I do not know why some are more tempted than others. I do not know why some have a predisposition to interest. It is just the way we are, I think. It is our nature, what makes us who we are." She sighs softly. "There is nothing inherently wrong with it, though it is what some say makes people predisposed to become dark wizards and witches. Some say that is why many people from Slytherin turn out 'bad'."
"But if there is no good or evil, can there be bad and good?" Madeline muses quietly - and perhaps a little hopefully, though it's hard to tell for certain. "Or - or is it all just a part of this struggle. I've seen people from all houses do cruel things. Perhaps it is just that … some of us are willing to follow through? That would … frighten others. Not that- I'm not," she adds, starting to get flustered again after doing okay there for awhile.
Septima shakes her head. "I believe that it is all just a part of the struggle. No good or evil, bad or good. Just…the struggle between those with power and those without. It's a difficult struggle. You see it all the time. Why do you think the War happened? Because those without power wanted it for themselves."
"I can … certainly understand that," Madeline replies, giving another inward smile, though this one seems more distracted, less sincere. Who has less power than she does, after all. She takes another sip of her tea, all but finishing it, which does serve to remind her of the time. "I should perhaps be going. I wouldn't want to be … missed. It might raise questions." And it's just so much easier to avoid the questions than lie about their answers.
Septima bows her head ever so slightly. "Of course. Do come again. I am here to be of assistance to you, Madeline. We are two of a kind, we are." She says softly. "And remember, any questions you have, no matter what, feel free to ask of me." She says kindly. "I'll show you to the door."
"Thank you, Miz- Septima," Madeline replies, catching herself before she can revert back to the more formal title. "I'd … very much like to talk to you again. I've never had anyone who … understood before." She gives a small but sincere smile to that as she sets down her cup and then rises.
Septima bows her head once more. "Well, luckily we have each other now, don't we." She says softly, guiding Madeline back to the front door. "Always know, that you are normal. What you feel is normal." She says kindly. "Be well, Madeline."