Seth Marvell was fidgeting somewhat nervously by the time he arrived at Orion Nott's London club. He was more accustomed to furtive business deals in back alleys than to the bourgeois splendour he was approaching, but everyone he'd spoken to assured him that Nott would be able to give him a better deal than Borgin. The mirror he'd bought in that little Knockturn Alley shop turned out to be quite valuable, and the galleons could keep him in lacy shirts for some time. The club was more modest than many of the surrounding buildings, and when he introduced himself a manservant showed him into a back room. It was a surprising place in which to make deals in Dark items, large and bright and comfortable in shade of rich browns. Standing by the sunlit window was a tall man with broad shoulders. Silky dark hair fell over his shoulders and to the middle of his back in a sleek cascade. He was dressed in the finest attire, but it was quite sober.
"Mr Nott," Seth said, a little unnerved. "I'm Seth Marvell." He smiled, a practiced smile that never got so far as his eyes but made him look younger than he was. His dark curls were held back with a silken ribbon, and but for the strong line of his jaw he was almost girlishly pretty.
Nott turned to face him, the sun falling on pale skin and high cheekbones. He had a sharp face, unrelentingly fierce, and almost disgracefully lush lips for such a hawkish visage. His eyes were the colour of toffee. “Greetings, Master Marvell.” That voice put the rest of him to shame. It sounded like the finest silk over bare skin, smooth and rich; a seductor’s voice.
"Thank you for seeing me, sir." Seth was disgusted at how easily he fell into this deferential tone, but it was habit. "I'm sure you've a very busy man." He was shorter by a good half a foot, and beside the understated elegance of Nott's clothes he felt like a scrawny peacock. It didn’t matter if his things were of the newest style, he was still pretending, playacting at something he wasn’t, a dirty little boy dressed up in silks.
“Not at all,” Nott said. He motioned to one of the armchairs in the room. “Have a seat, my boy. Would you care for something to eat or drink?”
Seth did as he was told, crossing his silk stocking'd legs at the ankles and smoothing the brocade of his waistcoat. "No thank you, sir." He felt as though he was being tested for something, but that was ridiculous. It was just business.
Orion walked to a chair opposite Seth. He was graceful, almost as if he disdained to do something so mundane as walk so one day he decided to glide. He crossed his legs and returned his gaze to Seth, steepling his fingers in front of his face, his brown eyes growing slightly hooded and more intense. “Now…how can I help you, Mr Marvell?”
"I acquired a mirror," Seth said, on firmer footing now and leaning closer, explaining earnestly, "which reflects the...less pleasant side of things. It's of no use to me, and I was told that you were something of an authority on those items that are not, strictly speaking, legal."
“Hmm,” Nott said. “A mirror of dark reflection.” He paused for a moment. “I’ll give you twenty galleons for it.”
Seth made a show of considering it for a moment, but it was more than he'd expected to get and he nodded. He'd been about to throw it away before he thought of selling it, but he certainly didn't need a mirror that reflected the darker side of his customers. He nodded.
“Done,” Nott said. “Shall I arrange to have it moved?” he added, pursing his lips thoughtfully.
"Please," Seth said, nodding. "It's awfully bulky to carry all the way from Diagon Alley, and the Muggles would stare." His mouth was dry, but he was a good deal less anxious than he had been.
Nott smiled at him, his expression warmer than it had been. Money always made him more personable. “Would you care for that drink now?”
"Certainly, thank you," Seth said after a moment of consideration. Nott seemed a reasonable enough man, and he'd got the mirror off his hands with a minimum of fuss. The older man snapped his fingers and a footman entered quickly, like he’d been hovering outside in anticipation.
"A glass of claret, if you'd be so good," Seth said. He wasn't used to servants, but he liked them when they were around. He smiled at Nott, an unusually candid smile that seemed truly warm.
The servant hurried off to get the drink, and Orion at last turned his full attention to Seth. “So, how ever did you come into possession of such an odd artefact?”
"I found it at a pawn shop in Knockturn Alley," Seth said blithely. "I didn't realize what it was until a guest of mine saw his reflection and was quite, quite distressed." The guest in question had been unable to finish what he'd started, and had refused to pay Seth, either.
Nott arched his brow. For him, it was like a loud belly laugh. “How unfortunate. I do hope your guest did himself no permanent injury.”
"I hope not. I never saw him again!" Seth's laugh was high and sweet. "It is rather amusing, in retrospect, though it was a side of his personality that I'd never hoped to see."
“Most of us would rather not see the darker sides of ourselves, or others. It is an uncomfortable thing, seeing the poison that lies in the souls of men.”
"One may see such poison without a mirror," Seth said softly.
“Hmm,” Nott said noncommittally. “There is truth in that, but we are not usually faced with it so starkly.”
The footman returned and offered Seth his claret.
You might not be, Seth thought, and did not say. He took his glass of wine from the footman with a nod, and took a sip. "Excellent," he said to Orion, who nodded cordially.
“I prefer something a little more potent myself.”
"I don't drink spirits so early in the day." It was, after all, only noon.
Orion smiled wryly. “This is my late evening.”
"I'm a creature of the night, I suppose," Seth said lightly. He looked around, wondering what he might possibly talk about while he finished his claret.
“Oh?” said Nott. “And what profession so restricts your hours?” He arched a brow at Seth, looking interested but cold.
This was not a good topic of conversation. Seth briefly considered lying, but there seemed no point to it. Most likely he would never meet Nott again, and if he did…well, he could worry about that later. He lifted his chin, pride in his face, and told the truth. "I'm a whore."
Nott looked surprised. “Well…that’s an honest answer.”
Seth inclined his head ironically. "So glad to be of assistance."
Orion really hadn’t been in this situation before. Such things were completely out of the realm of his experience. “I’ve never had the occasion to meet someone of your profession before,” he mused.
Seth raised his eyebrows and gulped down the last of his wine. "Indeed. Knockturn Alley is full of them, and several of the more popular Muggle districts have wizarding bordellos, too."
Nott quirked his lips into a faint smile. “I’m aware of their existance. I have simply never patronized them.” There wasn't anything to do but nod, which Seth did, and then Nott stood. Seth caught the faint scent of almonds and sage. “If you’ll excuse me, I have pressing matters to attend to. Perhaps we shall have occasion to do business again.” He actually offered his hand, as if Seth were just another customer of good breeding.
Seth took Nott’s hand and bowed over it, feeling very foolish as he did so. “The agreed-upon sum will be delivered to you,” Nott added,” upon my acquisition of the mirror.”
"Certainly." Seth considered for a moment and decided that he had no more reputation that could be hurt, and he smiled impudently and winked. "And if you'd like to come see me some time..." Before Nott could reply, he had darted out the door, leaving Nott to stand there, ruminating about bad manners and boy who really were too pretty for their own good or his.
by iron_serpant and marvellous_boy