Near Wiltshire, down a wide cleared driveway, there is a line of imposing pine trees blocking the view of the manor that lays behind it. In addition, there is an outer brick wall with an iron gate to deter any unwelcome visitors. Beyond the tree line and past the well-tended flower beds is a small, but lavish manor. The inside of the manor is ostentatiously decorated with the latest ornamentation that is fashionable among the upper crust of the wizarding society.
The lavish decorations almost border on gaudy but are still within the realm of acceptable, just barely though. More often than not snide marks will be made by the guests carefully out of earshot from the ears of the Lord and Lady of Fawley manor. However, despite the dreadful social faux pas, the Fawley's were a pureblood family with a marriageable daughter and two young sons. And the daughter in question, a young lady of fourteen years of age is a blossoming beauty with a large dowry, and no marriage contract yet in play.
As a direct result, more than one family matron during that summer had dropped by for tea with Mrs. Fawley concerning the state of her daughter's hand. But Mrs. Fawley played coy and ignored the subtle inquiries into her only daughter's hand in marriage. The more contenders there were for her daughter's hand, the better the chances were for her daughter to marry into an opulent and far more powerful pureblood family than she herself had.
A popping sound caused Lysithea Fawley to awaken out of her thoughts. The voluptuous woman with an hourglass-shaped body did not look a day over twenty nor much less seemed to be the mother of three children. Tempting ruby lips purse in irritation as she turns her attention to her house elf.
The house elf in question is a diminutive female with bruises on her arms, Vimla. Vimla does not tremble nor shiver for it displeases her mistress. Instead, Vimla ducks her head down causing her thin hair to fall to cover her face, effectively hiding her fearful gaze from sight. "Mistress called for Vimla?" The house elf squeaked.
Lysithea leans back in her make-up chair and glanced at her own reflection before her in admiration. The curved beauty in the mirror has flawless, glowing skin. Large, bright eyes, pouting kissable lips, and long cascading auburn hair that fell to her waist. Preening with pride at her still perfect beauty, she says, "Bring my daughter to me, I wish to speak to her before we depart for the soiree."
"Yes, Milady," Vimla squeaked, before popping away.
Lysithea lips curl up in annoyance of the stupid creature. If the damn thing were not so useful at making her beauty creams and such, she'd have its neck broken much like the thing's mother. But a daily pinch to the arm or the leg served to remind the hideous beast, its proper place in the Fawley household.
Lysithea turns her mind to more delightful things as she faces her vanity mirror and uses her wand to perfectly style her hair up in an elegant coil decorated with tasteful gems and pearls. Unlike her husband, Lysithea had a taste for beauty and delicate things. And she knew exactly how the ton of society snickered at their overly decorated home, but despite being in complete agreement with them, her husband, Bogdan Fawley enjoyed showcasing his wealth. Beyond tempering down her husband's most troublesome tastes, she could only stand by in annoyance and allow the hideous fashion transgressions to continue to occur.
Lysithea had just put the finishing touches when a polite at the door is heard at the door. "Come in," Lysithea called out as she rose to her feet and walked to her bed, where a perfectly pressed burgundy silk gown lay on top of the bed.
The door opens and quickly closes shut as a sweet, melodious voice asked, "You sent for me, mother?"
Lysithea turns to eye her fourteen-year-old daughter, her eldest child, Bethanie Fawley. The chit had her long auburn hair with a slight wave to it inherited from her father. Pale skin, delicate features, but to be a tad taller than Lysithea herself. Another unfortunate characteristic inherited from her father. Fortunately, the ridiculous freckles at least were removable with a dreadfully expensive potion. Luckily, both she and her husband agreed for once and had the grotesque freckles removed.
Lysithea lips flicker with mirth at noticing the cool gaze of her daughter upon her. However, Lysithea ignores the judgemental gaze of her daughter. Yes, her daughter had begun to nicely fill out and had a proper hourglass shape. Provided everything went well, her daughter would easily capture the l.u.s.tful gaze of any man. Naturally, steps had to be taken to maintain her daughter's v.i.r.g.i.nity, but it was nothing that other mothers wouldn't do.
Turning her back on her daughter, Lysithea hears an exasperated sigh. "Mother, what do you want? I do not have time to play these childish games with you. I was making sure that Spurgeon and Esmond are properly dressed for tonight's event," Bethanie stiffly said.
Lysithea without any hesitation or shame pulls the tie to her silk robes open. The silk robes fall to the ground in a silk-like flutter. Lysithea hears the rustling sound of her daughter averting her body and no doubt, her gaze from her mother's body. Lysithea chuckles to herself and purrs, "No need to avert your eyes, child. I am hardly n.a.k.e.d given that I am wearing underclothing, a corset, garters, and silk stockings."
"Hardly, mother," Bethanie vehemently replied. "I just don't want to see the traces of your latest lover on your body, mother. It's most unseemly."
Lysithea's eyes flash with anger, but a lazy smile appears on her lips. "Are you referring to the marks on my inner thighs or to the ones on my chest left by my latest paramour?"
Bethanie raises her gaze from the floor to meet with the smug, cold gaze her mother. "I am aware of the kind of marriage that father and you have mother, but Spurgeon and Edmund should not be subjected to the whispers of father's antics in the houses of sin or his latest kept mistresses nor to your string of lovers!"
A cold, arrogant smile appears on Lysithea's face. "How is it my fault for being born with this body or the fact that males can't seem to be able to keep within the confines of their trousers?" Lysithea loftily declared but doesn't wait for a reply as she steps into her gown and with a flick of her wand the gown's buttons snap shut.
Bethanie bites her inner cheek in anger but keeps her face and eyes devoid of any emotion. "Is that all, mother?" Bethanie asked. "If not mother, I shall take my leave."
"One more thing, darling," Lysithea said looking the like the elegant Fawley spouse she was in public. "I know that the youngest Black son is interested in you. And I don't need to remind you that though he is an excellent catch, his elder brother is the Black family heir."
Bethanie's eyes light up with anger as she draws herself up to her full height. Despite only being fourteen years old, she was now as tall as her mother and could stare her right in the eye. "Regulus Black is whom, I have chosen, mother. And as for the heir in question, Sirius Black, he is a womanizer and unruly. He is absolutely out of the question."
Lysithea eyes her daughter for a moment, before dismissively saying, "Well, he is still a Black, I suppose and a far better cry than most of the contenders for your hand. But he is a year younger than you, darling, and your father does not believe that the Black's will allow such a match to occur. And most especially when Villem Selwyn is already interested in you and has made a preliminary Bride Price offer. A most excellent offer, which has your father salivating to accept."
Bethanie trembles, unable to hide the shiver of fear. Villem Selwyn was a widower nearly as old as her father with two wives already dead. More than one rumor indicated that the previous wives of Villem Selwyn had died by violent means at his own hand. But he was a wealthy pureblood and member of the sacred twenty-eight families which caused more than one family to still eagerly try to tie their daughters in marriage to him.
Bethanie's lips press into a thin line at seeing the gleam of satisfaction in her mother's eyes. A sense of tranquility arises within her as Bethanie says, "Should father attempt such a thing, I will request sanctuary from Reginald Prince, and he will not deny my request."
Lysithea's eye's slowly narrowed in thought. "And why in Merlin's name would such ill.u.s.trious figure agree to such a request of an unknown girl?"
"Because of Rowan and Severus Prince," Bethanie countered. "We are friends of sorts, and they will side me if the request is ever made."
Lysithea is silent for a moment before a thin approving smile appears on her face. "Very well, I will whisper to your father regarding your friendship with the Prince children. He was quite peeved at not having been invited to the old Prince's summoning. However, a friendship with you and the next Prince generation will do us no wrong and further increase our value."
"Thank you, mother," Bethanie steadily said, before turning to leave.
"I am fond of you, child," Lysithea stiffly declared with an arrogant tilt of her chin. "You are not weak like my mother and sisters, but strong like I am. Do not let your beauty go to waste for it will fade away one day."
Seeing Bethanie's blank face, Lysithea lips press together in a warning. "And you do your brothers no good by being so gentle and kind with them."
Bethanie looks mutinous for a moment as Lysithea adds, "Kindness is a weakness for us much akin to a single drop of blood spilled in an ocean that will surely draw the hungry sharks."
"Understood, mother," Bethanie said as she waited for her mother's dismissal.
Weary of the subject or perhaps satisfied by Bethanie's obedience, Lysithea waves her daughter away. She still needed to finish dressing for the soiree. And Lysithea was never one to be called ugly nor much less plain.