In the common room, the 5th and 7th years were already calmly studying for their future exams. Of course, that calm would evaporate the closer the exams came. In the meanwhile, Alchemy flutters between chairs and tables being treated like the king he was by his loyal subjects. Although if Terry wasn't careful, Alchemy was going to get fat from all the snacks he was being fed.
Heading up the stairs to the girl's dorms, Rowan enters the elegantly furnished bedroom to find all the three girls huddled around Tiffany's bed. "What's going on? Terry said that something important was being discussed." Rowan asked as she placed her book-bag on the floor.
Seeing the red-rimmed eyes of Tiffany, Rowan frowns and says, "What's wrong?"
"Daddy says he's going to engage me to Vasco Vespucci," Tiffany sniffed as Bethanie and Silvia wrapped their arms around her.
"But we're only twelve!" Rowan protested in disbelief.
"It's not that uncommon among pureblood families," Silvia bitterly said. "The earliest age is twelve, yes, but typically when it is done the betrothal occurs around our 5th or 6th year. Otherwise, not until after we graduate."
"But why now?" Rowan stammered as she climbed onto the bed.
"Daddy says that the Vespucci's are Italian's and that they want a nice and proper pureblood British bride for their eldest son. But since they're Italian's none of the sacred 28 families will betroth their daughters to them. But mama was a Selwyn before she married daddy and a member of the sacred 28 families. And I'm a second-generation via birth, so they were worried I'd get snatched up and offered Daddy a very large marriage dowry for my hand in marriage," Tiffany sniffled as she blew rather loudly into a slightly wet hankie.
Bethanie makes soft soothing sounds as she gently rubs circles across Tiffany's back. "It'll be okay, love, you'll see," Bethanie whispered. "At least he's our age and despite being a Gryffindor, he seems to be rather well educated and handsome. And you do like them handsome."
Tiffany weakly smiles as Rowan asks, "But surely you'll at least be given a choice, won't you?"
Silvia and Bethanie share gazes, before Silvia says, "Typically, yes, but that all depends on the family. Personally, my father is rather generous and promised me that I would at least be allowed to finish my education and any mastery of my choice before any discussions of marriage came up. And should I find a pureblood to marry before then, that would fall perfectly in line with my father's wishes. But as I said, it all depends on the family."
"Well, you could always run away," Rowan winced as she spoke the sentence.
Tiffany laughs and says, "I'm twelve and in another five years, I'll be seventeen. By then they'll have made sure to have us exchange rings no later than our 5th or 6th year. No boy after that will even dare come near me. And even if I do manage to successfully run away, I know I wouldn't do very well for myself.
Let's be honest, girls. I'm too vain, a gossip, and an utter ditz. And I know for a fact I'm only passing our courses because the three of you are here to help me. I really don't have much of a talent for anything beyond my pureblood name and my looks. I doubt I really would be able to support myself beyond prostitution. Because I would have too as I would be disowned and be left utterly penniless. Not to mention that but I'd have to leave the isles and head over to the States as Europe is not an option given my family's connection and relatives found in France and Germany."
"Well, I would always offer you sanctuary," Rowan said as she gently reached over to squeeze Tiffany's knee.
"That's kind of you, Rowan, but your grandfather is a traditionalist," Tiffany sniffled. "Sir Prince would certainly offer me sanctuary himself if I was in mortal danger, but not from a betrothal without any proof of abuse."
Rowan opens her mouth and closes it suddenly feeling so very lost and so very weak. She thought she could change the future and she might very well. But there were always people who would still get the short end of the stick.
Bethanie sensing Rowan's inner turmoil reaches over and gently cups Rowan's face. "Sometimes muggleborn witches wonder why we Slytherin and other pureblood witches seem to hate them so very much. It is not that we solely dislike their muggleborn existence, but rather we envy the freedom of choices that their births have offered them. If we're born into a kind family, we already consider ourselves quite lucky. And that much more like in Silvia's case where we are given a choice to make something of ourselves.
However, most of us are not as lucky, we are born into cold homes and then are given into marriage to wizards who generally are just as terrible as our own fathers. And so, rather than love or even warmth every time that we see our cold, unaffectionate mothers, we are filled with absolute terror. For we know and see our own futures selves that will one day numb our own hearts in order to survive."
Rowan opens and closes her mouth as she realizes she'd never actually heard Bethanie speak of her own family. Like everyone else, she'd assumed Bethanie belonged to a somewhat warm family given her kind, motherly nature. But from the sound of that last statement. They'd been so very wrong.
Suddenly, the face of her own mother appears in Rowan's mind. At times, it was so easy to judge, but she still couldn't entirely dismiss Eileen's choices. Eileen Prince had been somewhat brave to run away from a potential match risking her family and being left utterly penniless. At least Eileen had made her own choice, no matter, how terrible it was in the end. And that should at least count for something.
Rather gloomy at this point, Rowan asks, "But why inform you now? I mean if the official betrothal ceremony isn't until your 6th or 7th year, why not wait until then?"
"It's fairly obvious," Silvia huffed. "Since, Vespucci is in the same year as us if Tiffany is seen acting inappropriately before the official betrothal the Topsy family will be held responsible for the breach of promise and will have to pay compensation to the Vespucci's for the betrayal of the marriage contract. But the same can be said for the Vespucci's."
Bethanie flashes Silvia a warning look as Tiffany shivers at the reply. "It's to prevent a potential heartache so that Tiffany does not begin seeing anyone else. And for Tiffany and Vasco to have enough time to become accustomed to the idea of their marriage," Bethanie sincerely explained.
"In the following years to come, they'll have ample opportunities to interact and slowly get to know each other. And even if they don't come to love each other as long as they grow to like and trust each other, they may very well establish a good family home in the future."
"You think so?" Tiffany sniffed as she wiped her face.
"I know so," Bethanie lied with a straight face.
"Well, I have him in my Ghoul class," Rowan interjected as six eyes become glued to her every word. "And he's in our Potions class as well. I just think we've never really paid attention to him before that's all."
"What's he like?" Tiffany warily asked as she tried to recall his face from potions but failed to recall anything beyond a blur.
"Well, he's Italian," Rowan said causing the girls to wryly chuckle. "He's handsome enough, dark-eyed, but fair-skinned with light-colored hair. And though he's a bit olive like the Italian's, he's not as dark."
"Well, that's something at least," Silvia muttered under her breath.
Bethanie flashes Silvia another warning look, before encouragingly saying, "See Tiffany, all is not lost. Vespucci is at least is intelligent and cute to boot! I mean think about it, you could have gotten stuck with Avery or worse Rosier!" All four girls shudder as they imagine the thug-like mind and body of Rosier.
"I suppose," Tiffany sighed as she wiped her red nose. "Thank you-," Tiffany is squeezed by Silvia and Bethanie, who says, "Anytime."
"Now go wash up your face or you're going to be all puffy-faced tomorrow," Bethanie cleverly instructed as Tiffany gaped and scrambled to get out of bed.
With Tiffany safely out of earshot, Silvia drily says, "I notice you didn't mention how the head of the Vespucci family has a mistress with children might I add."
"She's only twelve!" Bethanie snapped for causing Silvia and Rowan to gape at her as she ever so rarely lost her temper. "There's no use in arguing about the betrothal, we all know that Tiffany doesn't have a choice. We might as well make the best of the situation and hope for the best."
"You mean here's to hoping that lightning strikes him dead," Rowan deadpanned causing Silvia and Bethanie to burst out in laughter.
Tiffany returned while drying her face with a towel to only find all three girls howling with laughter. Trying to speak above their howls was impossible as all the three girls could do was hold their sides. Tiffany finally gave up and settled on another bed all the while muttering about insanity being contagious.