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Julius Scrimgeour for Bella Scrimgeour.
The answer to the question "What happens when your family's reputation is a disaster?"
Her niece's humility was an admirable thing and had the added advantage of leaving Temperance feeling as though she was constantly rendering Blythe dumb with her words of wisdom and encouragement.Temperance Fairchild in Messiah
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#1
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December 31st, 1888 — Hogsmeade, High Street

It was New Year’s Eve and dining out was a family tradition. For years the ever-expanding family had gone to Mr. Baudelaire and this year was no exception. Dunstan and the girls were home from school and two governesses and Mrs. Glucklich had been invited along to watch the children and so it was a large company at the table. Luckily the children had all been trained to speak only when spoken to while adults were speaking. Only Gareth was loud now and then, but the governesses would quickly intervene.

They were all dressed in their best robes and gowns. Mr. Baudelaire’s restaurant was not a place for paupers. The man had personally come over to greet Arthur and his wife. They had long been friends, and in fact, this night, Arthur had a favour he needed for the man, but he did not want to bring the matter up in front of his family.

Now dinner was finished, and Evaine was questioning each of the children in turn about their school life. She had not addressed Alexandra yet, but Arthur gave his oldest daughter a stern look. Willful and impulsive, his oldest daughter had given him more trouble than all the other girls together. Arthur had tried what he could to control her. He had even hired new tutors, hoping that they could handle her. But her obstinacy exceeded all measures. And Alexandra made no secret of her dislike for her step-mother. The last thing he wanted was a scene in public. The girl had as little concern for her own reputation as for that of the family.

When he spotted Mr. Baudelaire, Arthur excused himself crossed the room, and approached the man, extending his hand.

“Mr. Baudelaire. That was an excellent meal, once again.”
#2
Mr. Baudelaire was by the kitchen, which was banging away as loudly as ever. A waiter flew by with a foot-tall flaming phoenix ice cream sculpture that smelled especially sweet from the caramelization. The phoenix fire flapped and shook out its fiery hackles with a life of its own.

Mr. Baudelaire screamed something in French about roasting one of them next, turned around, noticed Mr. McPaidrac, and suddenly had the most angelic smile that could grace a balding, towering, late-middle aged man.

“Merci beaucoup,”
he said in French with an overly gracious smile, stepping away from the door to shake his hand. “Pleasure to see you and yours again. I’ll send my regards to the chef.”

ShowSpoiler:
#3
The only damage done to her reputation was the damage her father did to it by bring home her cousin all those years ago, wrapping their family into a secret. What does a society love more then a secret?

Alexandra may not always get on with her ‘parents’ but she knew how to behave when they were outside of the house. So at the stern look from her father, she returned it with a innocent smile and watched where he headed, wondering what he was up to. All the while willing her step mother didn’t try to talk to her.


[Image: swbRAG4.jpg]
#4
"Please do, sir," he said with a friendly smile. "My wife said the lamb was particularly good." He cast a quick look back at the table to make sure said wife was managing on her own. He knew she felt uncomfortable around the girls, especially the older ones. He watched her take Gareth from one of the governesses and dote over him. Then he turned back to Mr. Baudelaire.

"I was wondering if you could help me with a small issue. You see, our cook has found another position." That was not entirely true. Rather, one of their maids had been sick a lot lately, and had finally - hysterically, in tears, and begging her master not to send her away - confessed to being pregnant. She had mentioned the cook as the father. Arthur had been forced to dismiss both. He was not heartless. He had made some provisions for the maid, although he considered her undeserving of them. He would not be responsible for a young woman's lapse into the shadier professions. But he would not keep either on only to pollute the house with immorality and scandal. The maid had been replaced easily. But to find a decent cook was harder. "I was wondering if you know someone who could replace him."
#5
Though he’d been in Hogsmeade for some years now, his French was still far stronger than his English would ever be. It was the lingua franca of the worldly, after all!

“Yes, yes,”
he commiserated in English, pausing to search for words. “It has...” and then with an apologetic smile, “such is an unfortunate circumstance, but you know young things.”

His eyes lit up at the prospect, though he kept a pleasant, airy smile even as all the gears turned. A man of Mr. McPadraic’s lineage and outstanding public service, asking him to make a connection for a dependable member of his staff. He knew an opportunity when he saw one.

“As you know, I work with chefs and chefs-in-training. Men from Paris. Men who have attended the Zauberakademie.”


Two men total that vaguely fit that description: one of them wasn’t even French, and the other got sent home piss drunk again. Damn it. Fornier was far too temperamental to lend out. Brunswick from Liverpool was a family friend, knew some French, and was more personable than the rest of the lot, but his cutting skills were currently atrocious.

“Only the best thrive in my kitchens. Are you seeking a fully staffed kitchen, or an individual chef?”

Merlin. Only Shacklestone had the lungs to get through the DuPonte brats' skulls he was stuck with. Koch had not offending his Manchester clients down to an artform, but the prestige of a chef with McPadraic's approval would far outweigh that...
#6
Arthur had learned French from the moment he was young and so he had no trouble understanding Mr. Baudelaire's words. But perhaps the change of language made the lie harder to spot. Or perhaps he was just a good deal more naive when it came to matters not related to his work. Whatever it was, he fully believed that the owner of the restaurant was going to find him an excellent chef.

"Just the chef." he replied. "There are maids to help him in the kitchen if he needs it." With cooking, that was. He trusted that after making an example out of the unfortunate girl, his other members of staff would be more sensible.
#7
Ugh, there went his chance at foisting off the DuPonte menaces. Nonetheless, the sunny smile remained.

“Just the chef,”
he repeated. “It takes a full kitchen for the experience you receive here – but I have many chefs in my employ who will have you eating well nonetheless. How soon do you need someone?”

Armel was pushing for him to hire his sister, and it was getting annoying. He supposed passing him off would solve that once and for all.
#8
Arthur would not hire more staff than needed. The truth was, they had to be careful in their spending - making it look to others as if they could live the same way as other wealthy families, while being more modest in their private lives. He had inherited a good sum of money, and his job paid well, but not as well as the positions of some in the circles he moved in. He needed to keep what they had for the next generation, without making it look like they were actually concerned about money. It was a difficult balance to maintain. And so he just smiled at Mr. Baudelaire's suggestion of a full kitchen, but did not reply.

"As soon as possible," he stated. The maids were able to prepare food, but it wasn't the same. He wouldn't dare to invite anyone to his home at the moment.
#9
A chef rather than a cook certainly didn't scream 'tight budget'. Though he was tempted to try again, an elite household with a Baudelaire-trained personal chef was certainly nothing to turn his nose up at. Word got around with those sorts of events.

“A personal chef, just in time for New Year’s. Excellent decision, Mr. McPadraic – does tomorrow morning work for you?”
#10
Well, that was good news. No more mediocre meals. "That would be perfect, sir, if he is able to start as soon as that. I take it his character is as good as his cooking." He didn't need another cook fooling around with the maids.
#11
He’d never caught Armel specifically fucking someone’s wife out back while the rest of the staff watched.

Yet.

As long as you moved a chef around enough, he didn’t get caught.

“My friend, I would trust each and every one of my men with my life, my family, and my honor,”
he said without blinking. “I’d rather die than associate with dishonorable men.”

Translation: “Not my problem when they fuck it all up.”
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#12
Well this was a very good restaurant after all. Surely Mr. Baudelaire would not hire anyone substandard, much less refer them on to someone else. Or so Arthur thought. "Excellent!" he commented. "Is this one from Paris?" A French chef. He liked that idea.
#13
Mr. Baudelaire smiled an ingratiating smile.

“Alsatian, even,”
he said without missing a beat. “Not far, not far at all.”

By Floo, anyway. A full day trip by carriage otherwise. The border-saddled city was an easy enough cover for Armel’s German-accented English, especially after Germany had annexed it in recent history.
#14
He would have preferred a Parisian cook, but he smiled anyway. "That will do. You may send him over tomorrow, Mr. Baudelaire." He would tip generously tonight. Mr. Baudelaire was always there to help.

Or so he thought.


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