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Garden Variety Marital Troubles
#1
Private 
29th March, 1888 — Mulciber Home, Parlor

"Is that meant to look Oriental?" Ernest asked his wife in a faux-casual tone, apropos of nothing. He probably ought to have given her some indication of what he was talking about, as the conversation had not had anything to do with the garden. Ernest wasn't entirely sure what the conversation had been about, because he hadn't really been listening, but he assumed his wife had been saying something or other. The more pressing matter at the moment, however, was the view through the parlor windows. Rufina had announced her intention to have the garden redone in preparation for one of her upcoming Events, which he had, at the time, had exactly no opinion about. Now that it was actually in progress, however — he could see dirty workmen carting about plants from where he sat reclining with his tea — he was finding, quite surprisingly even to himself, that he did have opinions on it after all.

The tree (he supposed it was a tree, although it could have been a very oddly shaped bit of shrubbery or even some sort of strange magical creature which tried and largely failed to disguise itself as a tree) was in the process of being wedged into the garden area through the door to the street. It was rather too squat for that, however, which had forced two or three of the grubby workers to gather around staring at it while it sat in all its distorted ugliness on the sidewalk outside.

"Are we meant to have an Asian garden the entire year?" he asked, sparing Rufina a quick glance before shifting his attention to his cup of tea, which he sipped slowly as he shifted the book on his lap. "Or do you intend to redo the entire thing again come May?"


#2
When she had asked her husband if he would come see the work she had done—or rather, hired others to do—in the garden, she had expected some sort of excuse, a shrug, a 'I'm sure I'll see it someday'. That Ernest had come out with her made Rufina bristle slightly with pride, enough so that the witch was happy to ignore the fact that he was likely not at all interested, merely being polite. Still, small victories and all that.

"It's what's done right now, Dear," she chided good-naturedly, "though if I thought you would let me get away with it, the garden would be redone weekly. It's always a delight to have projects at home, rather than having to go out and discover some elsewhere."




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#3
"Well, then," he said dryly as he eyed the monstrosity outside the garden gate. "If it's what's done." The sarcasm in his tone was palpable, but he wasn't sure whether or not Regina would take any notice of it. Had she ever been sarcastic in her life? He wasn't sure, but she'd certainly never directed such a tone at him if she did have the potential for it.

"I don't suppose that's one of the items up for auction?" he asked, gesturing towards the squat tree thing. He supposed he could live with the rest of the garden the way that it was for the remainder of the year, if he could just dispatch with that thing rather quickly. Of course, even if it was up for auction, he wasn't sure anyone would want to pay money to take it home, which meant they might be stuck with it all the same. On the other hand, his wife had apparently thought it was worth spending money on to acquire in the first place; surely someone else's wife was equally silly, and could wheedle a suitable sum out of their husband for the sake of charity.

He would have gladly pay for the garden to be redone following the auction if he wasn't aware that he was opening his house up to the risk of yet more hideous plants in doing so. Particularly if this oriental look was in fashion at the moment.
[-] The following 1 user Likes Ernest Mulciber's post:
   Rufina Mulciber


#4
Rufina was quite happy to ignore her husband’s lack of enthusiasm. He would not even tell her what he did on a day to day basis—what place did he have judging her own pastimes?

At the question, though, she rolled her eyes. “I should no sooner auction of the décor than I would auction off you,” Rufina returned. Really! He had so little eye for…anything, really!




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#5
Ernest frowned. "Of course," he agreed rather distantly, while thinking just our luck, then; we'll be stuck with it. Assuming, of course, that the feeble-minded gardeners ever managed to get it in through the door between the garden and the street. It was really a simple question of levitation, since the garden wall was not so high as to make that impractical, but Ernest was hesitant to make the suggestion to anyone involved in the project. He may not have had the willpower to actively resist the asiatic influence taking over his garden, but he certainly didn't want to seem as though he was encouraging it, either.

He wondered idly if Rufina had ever thought of auctioning him off. Not seriously, of course, since the legally binding marriage contract they'd signed at their nuptials could not be dissolved through a simple exchange of a few galleons, but perhaps it had crossed her mind what she might do with her life if she were rid of him (particularly if she kept hold of his Gringott's vault, or, better still, simply exchanged him for a more suitable model of husband for her lifestyle). It hardly seemed likely that she was happy with the current state of affairs. Then again, this was Rufina, the woman who was delighted by having leave to redo the garden before a large party. Who knew what she needed to consider herself happy.

"Well," he said, after having given the garden another cursory glance over. "I'll leave the whole thing to your able eye, dear." More sarcasm, though he didn't think she would recognize it.
[-] The following 1 user Likes Ernest Mulciber's post:
   Rufina Mulciber


#6
As if you've ever done anything but, Rufina thought dryly, though she bit back the words before she could voice them aloud. Their marriage, after all, had only remained as...bland as it was by their general ignorance towards one another's spheres of life. She would be irked if her disinterested husband suddenly started offering opinions on the decor, just as he would be irked if she were to set up camp in his study. This unspoken agreement formed when their spoken vows united them; why mess with a good thing now?

"It should be all finished by mid-week," she offered instead. "More than enough time before the fundraiser—do you need me to write the tailor, or do you have something that will suit?"

Rufina's eyebrows arched expectantly.




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#7
Much as he disliked the idea of wasting an hour of his time at the tailor in preparation for an event he hardly even wanted to attend in the first place, he had long since come to the conclusion (first at the hands of his overbearing mother, although the sentiment had transferred over to his wife) that when it came to any sort of social event, it was far less painful to simply bend to the whims of the woman in question prior to the event rather than have to endure her quiet, seething wrath the entire evening. While he had plenty of suits in his closet, the fact that she had asked at all meant she expected something nice and new and potentially even exotic (Merlin help him).

With a brief sigh, Ernest said in resignation, "Yes, of course; lovely of you to offer."
[-] The following 1 user Likes Ernest Mulciber's post:
   Rufina Mulciber


#8
"Excellent," Rufina responded, tone very much affirming that this was the response she had been after. "I'll caution him not to try anything too fashion-forward," she conceded after a beat. "After all, I should not wish my husband to upstage my new garden!"

[-] The following 1 user Likes Rufina Mulciber's post:
   Ernest Mulciber



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#9
"I wouldn't worry yourself," Ernest said with another glance at one of the more exotic new additions to what had once been a perfectly pleasant, respectable English garden. "There hardly seems any chance of that." Unless, of course, 'fashion-forward' in this case meant a suit that was made out of writhing live snakes or was literally on fire. He doubted anything less could possibly hope to upstage these strange new additions which apparently passed for flora somewhere in the world.

Having made this comment, he felt the conversation had reached its natural conclusion, and turned to drift off towards the house, sipping his tea once more as he went.


#10
Well, he hadn’t seemed keen on the garden, but in truth, Rufina had expected nothing more than ambivalence. With her husband’s departure, the socialite moved to give further direction to the gardeners before making her own path back into the house.




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