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Thanks For Nothing
January 13th, 1890 - The Finch House, Wellingtonshire

And how does it feel
To be the name that's on the page
To know that you've joined the rank
Of all of the people I hate

The taut lacings of her corset forced Melody's waist to an impossible small size. She had spent the better part of the afternoon being tugged on and beautified by Lucy, her mother's ditzy but obedient lady's maid. Her curls, normally tucked into a simple updo, had been smoothed and woven into an intricate bun. There was so much powder on her face and neck that her warm complexion was completely obscured. She could scarcely look at herself in the mirror, for this perfectly trimmed woman wasn't who she was. The woman staring back at her with dark eyes was someone Melody had been at war with for the better part of two years now.

She remained silent as the excitement around her grew. Maggie and her mother were chatting incessantly about every topic under the sun, as though the pair hadn't been together just yesterday. Was this her future, then? Giddy chatter about topics she could care less about? Would her independent will melt into the needs of her husband and children? Maggie hadn't dreamt of being a proper wife and mother, or at least Melody didn't believe so. They had spent many nights tucked in the windowsill of the Ravenclaw tower discussing their dreams of the future. Somehow, being forced into a marriage with an American of all people hadn't ever come up.

Downstairs, she heard the butler's warm greeting to her intended. Her father had requested a moment with Mister St. John-Black alone before the women were to join them. 'Likely to finalize the terms of sale,' she thought ruefully. Ben would never have allowed this to happen to her. If he truly understood what was to be - if he had even the slightest inkling as to how desolate she felt - he would've kept her away. They would have flown off on his magic carpet (Melody still didn't know where he had found a flying carpet) and be together right now. She turned from her mother and sister and subtly dabbed the corners of her eyes with her handkerchief. Life was so miserably unfair.

Before she had time to steel herself against what was to come this evening, Melody and her mother were signalled to join the men downstairs. Briefly, as the pair walked in silence down the steps, she wondered if she could faint and escape the evening altogether. She could blame the suffocating nature of her corset and beg to lie down. Surely, Mister St. John-Black would understand her being ill, right? As always, Melody arrived at the conclusion just a moment too late, for the parlor doors were opening. Damn it. There was no escaping it now.

"My wife, Marianne, and Melody.' Her father casually introduced the pair to the tall man. So, this was him then. In any other circumstances, Melody might have found him handsome. If they were introduced before any match was made, she might have even approached him herself. However, as their eyes met all Melody could see was the defeated look on Ben's face when he first discovered of her impending marriage. She could only feel the warmth of his arms around her. This man (the very same man who thought to inform her of their wedding with a bloody letter!) was a far cry from the one Melody's heart was besotted with.

After a subtle nudge from her mother, Melody remembered she was meant to be greeting him, "good evening." It was a simple and bland greeting, the soft smile on her lips wasn't reflected anywhere else on her face. Some would say she ought to thank him for willing to marry an aging debutante. Melody, however, would rather fall in a pit of venomous spiders before sharing a single word of gratitude.

@Samuel St.John-Black

Beautiful set credit goes to MJ
[Image: rVeL1F.png]
Samuel was nervous…he didn’t think it was becoming for a man of his age and station to be so nervous. For the past hour he had sat with her father, his soon to be father in law - a man he didn’t think much of he was truly honest. It was a sad state of affairs, he thought a man should perhaps respect their father in laws but he couldn’t find it in himself to respect a man who would sell a woman like Melody for so scant a cost as the one he had paid.

He could not help but think of the line from King Lear, when Cordelia is cast aside, being less valued for her words and gender than her other siblings ’ Thy dow'rless daughter, King, thrown to my chance, Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France..’ He might not have had France to offer her, but he had more than her father, it was what had caused the mean spirited older man to offer his child to an almost stranger. In exchange for some introductions, some social and business assistance for their son, Melody had been given to him – cheap at twice the price his mother would have said.

He had briefly sat with the old man, shared a glass of brandy, which he had had to force himself not to gulp down to steady his straining nerves. When the door opened and the lady and her mother entered the room, he took a moment, waiting a beat before standing to greet them. His poker face firmly in place.

There she was – Miss Melody Finch – Mrs Melody St.John-Black to be. He tried not to stare, looking at her mother when she was introduced, taking her hand dutifully, and then taking Miss Finches, placing a kiss on her hand in a way that didn’t impress half the passion he felt, that instead was stiff, overly formal and frankly cold. Dutiful rather than loving.

He didn’t speak to her, not truly trusting his voice but stiffly, and without looking back at her he uttered two words to her father. ’twill serve’* he regretted it the moment it was out of his mouth! There were ways and means men spoke in private that was not for utterance in the presence of women. To strike this bargain Samuel had played the game, pretended to be the cold, austere person that enters into a marriage of convenience, rather than the smitten fool he actually was, a man who had pined after the fine eyes of a young woman he didn’t know for nearly 3 years. It was a sign of how little Mister Finch knew him that he had been able to carry off the ruse.

He wished he might have been able to have their first meeting be in private but that was not the right way of things, even if only without the presence of her father. He turned back to her, wishing there was more he could say than simply ’It is pleasant to meet you Miss Finch, I am Samuel St.John-Black, and Iam here to request your hand in marriage.’ It was tradition to ask her, but they both knew it was mere lip service. It was already set, the date and all confirmed, but decorum required he ask her, just as duty and tradition required she accept. It was not the grand romance he would have liked.

*(From what you’ve said her father sounds like enough of an arse to not think/care about Melodys feelings on this kind of statement – if he does I can change it)

@Melody Finch
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   Melody Finch
The calm, pleasant expression plastered across her features was nearly betrayed by her growing rage as he spoke to her father. Marianne shifted beside her, a nonverbal threat for Melody to smother any thought she had of causing a scene. Of all the eligible men her father had to choose from, he had to select a bloody American? His manners, for what gentleman would ever discuss his intended like a head of cattle, truly reflected his home country. Melody shifted her gaze to the floor, certain that if their eyes were to meet he would spontaneously combust because of her anger.

To ask for her hand now, after the negotiating and arrangements were complete, was comical. She could hardly deny him, what with the preparations already underway and the announcement drafted. Her acceptance was needed only for the stiff formality of Society, and perhaps to fuel his ego. After all, there had to be some insecurities lying beneath his icy cold exterior for him to agree to an arrangement. A man his age and stature would have no issue finding a willing woman in the pit of desperate debutantes. All he had to do was attend a single party and they would descend on him like vultures.

Melody could hardly fathom why he would bother to settle for someone like her. Hell, her bloodline wasn't even pure like his. Her mother was a halfblood, her grandmother had married some muggleborn way back when. Short of not having to put any effort into courting, there was nothing appealing she or her family could offer him. Despite this - despite her absolute certainty that there was something wrong with him for agreeing to this - Melody still had to accept his offer.

"It's a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance. I would be honored to accept your offer." She returned with a gracious smile as she lifted her eyes to meet his own. Every word spoken to him this evening was a rehearsed lie put into her mouth by her mother. The pair had drilled what Melody would say until she could repeat the words without scowling. Besides her, she could feel Marianne beaming. Elated to have another daughter successfully wed (or soon to be anyway). Penny would be excited to have her mother's attention all to herself after her debut this summer.

Everyone was happy, except for the soon-to-be smiling bride.
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   Samuel St.John-Black

Beautiful set credit goes to MJ
[Image: rVeL1F.png]
’I hope that we shall make each other very happy’, he responded, trying perhaps in vain to keep the fondness from his voice. Samuel couldn’t help the flutter of his heart when she formally accepted him, it was him or destitution. From the way her father told it she had the choice between Samuel and destitution. For even though she would not be considered a spinster for another few year, and indeed women of particular beauty and social station may never be painted with the infamy of spinsterhood her father had apparently disposed of her to the first man who asked without particular care. As far as he knew Samuel was a degenerate gambler, a drinker, someone who was cruel to his servants, and who abused the women in his life. Men like that were seldom a secret, mistresses, dalliances and even sisters would confide in maids who would happily tell all for an extra few knuts. It was just considered due diligence to at least ask those sorts about the character of ones soon to be son in law.

While Samuel was not craven or abusive he had been surprised that her father hadn’t even enquired. He may not have cared about the answer, but to have not even asked was a shocking situation altogether. If the man put so little effort into securing his daughters matrimonial happiness it was hardly a surprise that the family clung to the upper classes with broken fingers. So little care for ones own family could only be mirrored in little care for ones finances, ones business and ones social standing. If you treat important things with care, how could you be expected to care more for less important things.

He had worried – somewhat that perhaps spending 2 years looking at her from a distance had blurred her in his mind, made her this ethereal creature, set an impossible standard that she could never have met in reality, but he had bee wrong. She was just as beautiful, and graceful in person as she was in the picture in his mind. More so, up close he could appreciate the sparkle of her eyes, the slightly defiant look that was hidden behind a mask of civility and cordial coldness. She was like the ocean – when you stand on the short looking out at it, it looked calm and serene, distance giving a false impression of control. But up close, when lost in the middle of those waters, those eyes, you could tell that there was danger there. Just as sailors of old knew that when out at sea they were in danger from the unknown. So Samuel knew – here there be dragons.
Despite Marianne's warnings and Melody's own sensibilities, she scoffed and rolled her eyes at him. There wasn't a person present in the household that cared for her happiness. Not her father, who found it acceptable to sell his children like cattle to the first bidder, nor her mother, who readily agreed to this charade of a joyous marriage. And certainly not her husband-to-be! If Mr. St.John-Black had truly envisioned a happy marriage, he would have had better luck following the proper channels of courtship. He might have even found something greater than happiness mdash; he might have found love.

Much like anytime Melody thought of the dangerous four letter word, Ben's charming grin flashed through her mind. He too wished for her happiness, only his was drawn in concern for the sort of life she deserved. The sharp points of her nails dug into her palms as her thoughts drifted dangerously towards the rooftop. Were that night not surrounded by the intense sadness of goodbye, she might have cherished it as one of the greatest in her life.

"It will be a joyous marriage indeed." Marianne interjected before Melody could further anger the men in the room. She needn't turn towards her mother to see the anger brewing from Melody's thoughtless reaction. Mr. St.John-Black's tone had lightened considerably when he spoke...was he sincerely hopeful for a happy marriage? Her perfected polite smile dipped momentarily into a confused frown. How could he desire a pleasant wife when he spoke of her as an object? Before Melody could further ruin the evening with a bitter response, Marianne stepped forward once more and gestured towards the dining room. "Should we sit? I believe supper will be ready momentarily."

Once seated (and after a discreet and painful pinch from her mother) Melody looked to the man who would be her husband and asked, "how long have you been stationed with our ministry for?" Under no circumstance would Melody allow him to force her away to his country. She still had qualms against using the potion Ben had procured for her, but it would be put to use to prevent a transatlantic trip. Melody was an English woman and would sooner die than waste away aboard a ship to America.
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   Ophelia Devine

Beautiful set credit goes to MJ
[Image: rVeL1F.png]
He had dearly wished that he had been able to either have some time alone with her after the deed was done. On one hand he wished to explain all that had occurred in the build up to this day, but he didn’t think it would be well received, or indeed that she might not wish to hear it. On the other hand he always wanted to simply go – to be done with this charade and pretending he cared at all for the man who had seated him at his right hand side. A slight to both his wife and his son. The wedding couldn’t come soon enough, the faster that it was all done with, that she could leave her fathers house and he could stop playing nice with him the better.

He accepted the drink he was served by the footman, a medicore red wine. ’About 2 years, indeed I believe I arrived just as you debuted’ he said, fudging the details and trying to make the comment seem casual, as though it wasn’t burned into his memory as indelible as his own date of birth. ’I think I will be here for the foreseeable future.’ he added, perhaps a little too vehemently, his friend who ran his ventures in New York was very good at it – better perhaps than Samuel himself might be. Samuel was a not suited to ‘business’ nor was he suited to idleness. Working with the ministry provided him an opportunity to ‘serve’ in a manner that was acceptable for a man of his station. ’I don’t expect I’ll be back in the states for a long time, my little sister is here and rather taken with English culture, she has set her heart on an English debut’ he said with a jovial laugh. Samuel loved his sister, of all of his siblings, even Roscoe, with whom he was as close as twins, Evelyn had a special place in his affections, her elder brothers doted on her, if she demanded the moon on a string her brothers would spare neither expense nor magic to see it through. Melody’s ather nodded along knowingly and he fought the urge to role his eyes at the mans sycophanty
It was the best answer she dared hope for given the circumstances. His work would keep him tethered in Scotland until she garnered enough influence to keep him here otherwise. And should she not be successful...well, the potion was a decent backup plan. She was still just as unsettled by the prospect of forcing someone to do her bidding, but she would if she must. The consequences be damned.

One piece of what he said stuck out uncomfortably in her mind though. "When is she to debut?" He made no mention of his mother residing here with them, who would manage her Season? Certainly not Melody! She was forced to partake in her own most of the time. To shoulder the burden of a young debutante's future was a scene straight out of Melody's nightmares. Such responsibility was one reason of many why she feared having children. "Do you have relatives here to sponsor her?"

Marianne was furiously glaring at her. Fuck. Was she meant to manage his sister? Melody anxiously fiddled with her fingers in her lap. Perhaps his sister would be dedicated enough to arrange her own calendar? Somehow, she didn't believe she would be so lucky...

Beautiful set credit goes to MJ
[Image: rVeL1F.png]

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