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Welcome to Charming, the year is now 1893. It’s time to join us and immerse yourself in scandal and drama interlaced with magic both light and dark.

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Queen Victoria was known for putting jackets and dresses on her pups, causing clothing for dogs to become so popular that fashion houses for just dog clothes started popping up all over Paris. — Fox
It would be easy to assume that Evangeline came to the Lady Morgana only to pick fights. That wasn't true at all. They also had very good biscuits.
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came out swinging like you've something to prove
Sera's good-natured, if confused, approach to this conversation disappeared with the Minister's question. She arched her eyebrow, largely in the direction of Mr. Berkwood, hoping to convey what the fuck is this about? Seraphina felt as if she were being tested; she had obviously not expected this when she was summoned over to the table. And none of the books she had gotten from Mr. Flourish concerned the Ibadan Protectorate.

She took a beat to answer. Her memories of being a teenager were more easily accessible than her memories of being an adult; she was, in this moment, specifically grateful for her memories from her Care of Magical Creatures N.E.W.T. So she was able to connect the Minister's question about genies to the African continent. She also knew the definition of the word protectorate: wherever Ibadan was, it was controlled and under the protection of the muggle Crown.

She took a sip of her wine, and began. Her words came out slowly — it was obvious that Seraphina was thinking through them, but she would rather be visibly thoughtful than not, if she was doing some silly test from the new Minister. "Our policies on genie containment should only be reconsidered if genies are assessed to pose an additional or new threat to the International Statute of Secrecy," Sera started. This, she thought, was solid: if it was not broken, why fix it? (And genies, at least, had not recently been spotted cavorting over London, setting it on fire, and eating people. As far as Sera remembered, they could not really set fires or eat people.)

The protectorate was a separate issue. Sera took a sip of her wine before continuing, in that same slow, careful tone, full of thought. "Did the muggle crown talk to you or your predecessor before negotiating the protectorate?" she said. She added, more swiftly: "I ask because I am not an expert on international policy, but the circumstances of the protectorate inform my answer."

There — she could only hope that she'd passed. Although given the first two questions, Sera supposed it was far too optimistic to think that the Minister was done with her. Her eyes flicked back to Mr. Berkwood — who, from the raise of his eyebrows, had seemed just as caught off-guard as Sera was.

Harry smiled, "A very good point, madam," he said, turning his own attention to Minister Dempsey. "None of us can claim to be an expert in everything, that's why we must trust in the knowledge of others. Wouldn't you agree, Minister?" That was rather the point of representative politics, wasn't it? It wasn't as though the people voted on every issue that came up, after all. "After all, if any one person needed to be an expert on everything, the Ministry might look very different."

That last bit might have been a little catty, but Dempsey had said he wanted people who could argue. And anyway, Harry thought putting random socialites on the spot to prove a point was rude.

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   Ozymandias Dempsey

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Watching her face fall initially, Oz had felt rather secure in his choice. He was consequently a bit disappointed that she made a decent attempt at an answer. The genie bit was at least a defensible opinion, though in his view it missed the larger point — but it was something that would be hard to fault her for, without explaining what the larger point was, and he had not set out to lecture. (And the larger point where this conversation was concerned had nothing to do with genies or the Ibadan Protectorate, after all — the larger point was whether women were informed enough to vote. Mrs. Bythesea may not have grasped all the nuances of the genie conversation, but she'd articulated her answer better than some men would have, so — the nuances were not particularly relevant).

He was prepared to give her an abrupt answer to her question about the relationship between the Muggle crown and the Minister of Magic and move on (the Queen did not consult the Minister on matters of policy, but that hardly seemed like any of her business; he wasn't actually asking her opinion on the Ibadan Protectorate or on any international relations work, after all), but before he could answer Berkwood had cut in. He may have addressed his comments to Mrs. Bythesea but his message was clearly aimed at Ozymandias. None of us can claim to be an expert in everything, indeed. Clearly Berkwood didn't frequent any gentlemen's clubs; acting an expert in everything was the number one hobby of wealthy men the country over. Oz was certainly guilty of it, though at least in his case he had an intellect to back it up, and he was better informed than most people gave him credit for. (This was one benefit of having won the election; now people would probably recognize him as the Minister rather than dismissing him as the rakish poet's son. Though being Minister might not have counted for much, if Berkwood's jibe was any indication).

"Trust offered blindly is the confidence of fools," Oz returned, leaning back in his chair — and if that had the ring of poetry, it was because he was quoting something his father had written, decades ago. (Oz had learned more about how his parents viewed the world from reading their poetry than he ever had by talking to either of them; they put things down to paper that they didn't say out loud. Rather backwards, but they were poets; there was nothing to be done about it). Anyway, he hoped his message to Berkwood was clear: regardless of whether Mrs. Bythesea conjured up appropriate responses to his questions or not, trusting in the knowledge of others was hardly a convincing argument for offering the vote to a massive population which had never previously had it. At least, it wouldn't be a convincing argument for the conservative members of the Wizengamot — and it was not Oz that the reform committee members would have to convince, in the end.

"But your point taken, Mrs. Bythesea; we had no expectation that you would be an expert on international policy," Oz offered, with a tight smile that was at least a little patronizing. "Do you have any firm opinion on the relocation of the giant community? The right of hags to marry and procreate? The state of import tariffs on charmed stonework? Expansion of magical neighborhoods into Muggle areas of London? The division of authority between the Hogwarts Board of Governors and the Ministry's Department of Education?" In short: do you have firm opinions on anything? Berkwood said no one could be an expert in everything, fine, but both of the answers she had given so far were deflections; I think this if and a question rather than a response. And maybe Oz had picked an articulate socialite by random chance, but Mrs. Bythesea had done little so far to address one of the chief concerns men raised against women's suffrage: that a woman's opinion was typically indistinct from her husband's, and giving married women the vote would be redundant. Oz didn't know Mr. Bythesea at all, he didn't think, so he wouldn't really be able to tell whether she had opinions that differed from her husband's — but if she froze up in the face of this line of questioning and was unable to say anything distinct it might make his point to Berkwood.

(He was a little worried Berkwood would interpret this display incorrectly — Oz agreed with him on whether women ought to have the vote. But the word ought was not going to hold up in the face of scrutiny, in the face of challenges from conservative members of the reform committee or the Wizengamot, and he wanted to see that Berkwood could defend the position with something more than trust — or, if he couldn't yet, at least to understand what he was up against. And if he ended up thinking Ozymandias an inconsiderate ass in the process, or a misogynist, or both — well, fine. The future of the country rested in the hands of the voting reform committee, in Oz's view; it was bigger and more important than his ego).

MJ is the light of my life <3
Mr. Berkwood's comment also had Sera confused, although he seemed less involved in this exercise than the Minister — she flashed a small smile at him. And then the Minister was quoting something, and offering more questions, and Sera's brow furrowed. There had to be some point here, although she did not have the context on it yet — and in the absence of additional ways to figure it out, she would have to continue to play along. (After all — talking to the Minister of Magic and his lanky friend was more interesting than going to her husband's house or the club.)

Besides — it had been so many years of Sera not expressing firm opinions to men that this felt like an opportunity to stretch muscles of her brain which had gone to waste during the time she was Under. And really, how often did she have the opportunity to talk to the Minister of Magic about hag marriage?

"No firm opinions on giant relocation or stone tariffs," she offered; it would be too much trouble to come up with something on those, and frankly stone tariffs were too boring. "I think that magical neighborhoods expanding is good as long as we follow the Statute, Sera said. She remembered the 1877 riots, of course — but as wizards were ultimately superior and as she liked living in London, she saw no problems with magical neighborhoods expanding. Her own street was half wizard houses; she expected that if any of the muggle owners relinquished their homes wizards would be happy to buy them up.

"I would rather the Department of Education have more authority than the Board of Governors," she added. She felt no need to expand on her logic there; but the Board of Governors seemed like something her father would trust, so Seraphina did not care for it. The Ministry was at least slightly more responsive to the public — at least when the men in it had not been taken over by the Imperius curse. Hm. Perhaps she ought to reconsider that answer later, but no matter now — it would just make her look silly.

"And," Sera said finally, plucking up her wine glass. She sounded pleased with herself; she sat back in her chair and took a sip of her wine, because this was where her opinions were firmest. "I don't think that hags should be able to marry humans. But I don't see how anyone would stop them from procreating, so that seems like a lost cause." She took a sip of her wine and quirked an eyebrow at the men, wondering if either of them would be so bold as to weigh in on the topic of procreation.

Well, didn't she look pleased with herself. Sitting back, raising her eyebrow, sipping wine, smirking. Goodness gracious, she really thought she'd passed that test with flying colors. Mrs. Bythesea was probably the sort of person who was called clever at ballrooms, and then spent the rest of the evening swanning about the compliment. And in fairness to her, this was the sort of depth of opinion that was bandied about in a ballroom setting, and presumably it would have done just as well at the ladies' club or a garden party or an afternoon tea. It was not the nuance that Oz expected of someone who would be making political decisions — and granted, not all men had that degree of nuance either, but that was immaterial at the moment. The men's right to vote was not being contested, and the women's was. They didn't just have to perform at an equivalent level; they had to be demonstrably and defensibly better than their male counterparts, if the conservatives were to be convinced. It was fine to point towards ah, yes, so long as the Statute is observed in a casual conversation, but in practical terms it sidestepped the issue entirely — expansion of neighborhoods meant changing existing charms, layering on new ones, overall intruding more on the Muggle world — was it worth the risk or not? Yes, yes, one could say ah, I'm for it so long as it all goes right, but had she ever actually considered what that meant?

If given the chance, he guessed, Mrs. Bythesea would vote for all of those convenient little motions that undermined long term policy, and then when things began to collapse she would be part of the crowd standing there pointing fingers at the Ministry and saying but how could you have let this happen? (This was something he had told Christabel, in another form; part of the purpose of government was to protect the people from themselves. Not everyone ought to vote; some people were idiots, and others were uninformed, and neither of those two groups tended to be self-aware enough to absent themselves from the decision-making process voluntarily).

But he hadn't called her over to educate her on obscure political issues, or to give her the context she needed to vote, or even to point out her own inadequacies in that department to her. He'd called her over to illustrate to Berkwood what his opponents on the voting reform committee were likely to see as the primary problem with giving women the vote, and he thought this had gone on long enough to accomplish that.

"Last question, Mrs. Bythesea," he said, with a quick smirk to Berkwood as though the pair of them were sharing an inside joke. "If you'd had the ability, who would you have voted for in the last election, and why?"

MJ is the light of my life <3
She was disappointed; it appeared that they were not interested in further talking about hag procreation. The Ministerial question was comparably more boring, but it also wasn't one she had been asked before. Sera had thought about it. She had gone to the debate in September, although that had eventually been overshadowed by the dragons; she had not gone to the debate about the dragons, because the dragons rather overshadowed that one as well. Still. There was so much news that was available to her now, so many things that she could think about when she wanted to — of course Sera had thought about who she would have voted for, had she been able to.

"Oh, Mr. Crouch," Sera said easily, without having to pause. "He was open to voting reform, and he is a Ministry man. No offense, Minister Dempsey." Given that his expressions seemed devoted to mildly offending her, Sera was largely apologizing for the sake of it.

And Seraphina still liked Ministry men, despite her father's actions — all of her brothers were Ministry men. Sera respected healers, although she did not know any of them particularly well after Waking Up — she respected businessmen when their business seemed tangible to her. (Like Mr. Flourish.) She did not have an abundance of respect for her husband, who worked in a business that she could not understand, or had never been given much of a window into. And then there were Gentlemen of Leisure. While Seraphina understood it as a perfectly acceptable choice for first sons, there was something about it that just seemed off to her — probably because all of her brothers had worked after returning from their tours. And so she would not have voted for Mr. Dempsey.

(Mr. Wright and Miss Whitledge had never warranted much consideration from Sera. Mr. Wright was too much of a damn radical — an attractive little revolutionary, for sure, but Sera did not actually want to spend much time with the masses that he seemed devoted to, and she largely thought the marriage ban was good. And Miss Whitledge — sometimes Sera half-wished she had been allowed to work, or more accurately wished that she had been allowed to have a more interesting hobby while not being cursed, but that did not mean she wanted young ladies running rampant with the government; it spoke to a lack of parental guidance.)

She waited to understand the point of this exercise.

Harry nodded--more as a sign that he was paying close attention, not really in agreement. Crouch wasn't really to his tastes, politically-speaking, though he wasn't terribly surprised by Mrs. Bythesea's answer. He rather thought a candidate like Aldous Crouch appealed to the sort of voter he'd expect a well-establish socialite to be. "Fair points," he said. Then, because he might as well a question of his own while he had the opportunity, he asked, "Would you say, madam, that, were you in a position to vote yourself, you would have more interest in Ministry policies, or the same?"

Because, really, just because someone wasn't a political activist didn't mean they wouldn't educate themselves on the issues if they had the opportunity to apply it.

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