A/N: Happy Easter Everyone! Sorry this is going up so late tonight. It was a beautiful day and I just wanted to be outside. Now I'm paying for it but I am determined to get these posted as per my schedule.
Chapter 92: The Willow House Reputation
As if a light were switched on, the end of the week heralded spring, as the weather all at once grew warm and the snow disappeared almost overnight. Another week brought Charlotte Chamberlin and her sister Jane into the company at Willow House. The day of Severus' Tenants Luncheon also snuck up on them as the trees began to bud out and the birds sang sweetly their songs of spring.
"How did I let this sneak up on me?" Severus ask Lilina and Rocco as he paced the formal dining room. "I've been an absolute mess and now look, I've forgotten my tenants all together."
"But we have not," Lilina said brightly and cheerfully. "We are well prepared for this new tradition and hope that it will be prosperous.
"But I've forgotten the importance of it and I'm not prepared, not to mention I have other guests in the house," Severus continued in his near panic. "Am I to neglect them as well, and Harry?"
"Come now, you and I will prepared for the tenants luncheon. Willowmina will watch Harry. Carmen and Cassandry will take the artist and his family into town to seek out inspiration. Arthur is already in the office with Clayton and Amelia, but he will be joining you with Sirius Black for the luncheon. Gloria has five very capable house elves to assist her and you have George and Peter to wait at the table of this grand affair," Rocco reasoned and took care of each member of the party. "Both Sirius and Arthur will be joining the tenants luncheon to observe for their own tenants as they become established here," he added as Severus began to pace.
"And if I may sir, Seymour and I will assist with the luncheon," Milo stated as he and his brother appeared to join the group in the dining hall.
"As you see, they will fill in any voids and your non-magical guest will be none the wiser for it," Lilina added as the two ghosts became solid forms and stood at attention in full livery before the master of Willow House.
"I suppose we should dress the part as well," Gloria giggled as she walked in. "Black frocks and the whitest aprons and caps that we can find momma," she added as five little elves rushed in with bouquets of flowers and silver candle sticks.
"Your brothers will not be too excited to wear the full uniform," Lilian added with a laugh.
"Please don't put yourselves out on my account," Severus said. "What you are wearing is fine."
"This is a very big day, with very big plans and an image to solidify in the hearts and minds of your tenants. Willow House will look its best and act its best and we will see it in all its glory," Seymour said. "I believe we kept all the uniforms of the Edwardian days, even for the elves," he added.
"But if they dress does that not free them?" Severus asked.
"Not in uniforms meant to bind them to the house and their service," Seymour answered.
"And for us?" Gloria asked and motioned to herself and her mother.
"We have all that we need," Seymour bowed and he and his brother left again.
"There you see, we are well prepared. Now shall we retire to the study to discuss the topics you will present to the tenants over lunch?" Rocco asked as Severus stood back and watched the dining room fill with opulence.
"I suppose I have no say in the matter when the reputation of the house is in question. Am I to wear black tie for this affair?" He asked in defeat.
"No sir, but your best day suit should do very well," Rocco answered and steered Severus away.
As the appointed hour drew near, Severus and Rocco returned to the dining room with Sirius and Arthur, dressed to receive the guests that would soon be arriving and found not only Peter and George ready and in uniform but also the elves and the ladies, and even young master Harry was dressed in his best outfit. The dining room had been transformed into a work of perfection and already the smells from the kitchen, the soups in warming trays in the butlers pantry, filled the space.
"Am I entertaining the Queen herself?" Severus asked as his people and the ghosts stood at attention.
"Everything will be perfect," Lilina answered.
"Yes, I would say it looks that way," Severus said in awe. "So what is my part in this show?"
"To get down to the business of the estate and the greater area," Rocco answered. "You are the figurehead for these people. It's your job to be optimistic, helpful, and moderator if issues should arise."
"Exactly that, you will leave the rest to us," Lilina continued for her husband. "The elves will move between the kitchen and the butlers pantry and will not be seen by the guests. Peter and George will lead form there with Milo and Seymour to assist them in serving. Harry will be presented to your guests and then his lunch will be taken up to the nursery. He will nap once he's finished and Willowmina will join Gloria and I in the kitchen. We will come up with deserts and you may introduce us to your guests then."
"Though you don't have to," Gloria jumped in.
"I'll not take any of the credit for your hard work," Severus said with a slight bow. "Well it looks like all is in order."
"And the guests are arriving," Peter said as he came away from the window.
"Quickly, we will receive them all," Lilina said as she clapped her hands and the elves scurried away.
Milo and Seymour lead the way to the main doors and together, one on either side of the doors, they swung them open in a display of grandeur to the arriving cars. Severus stepped out followed by Rocco, Sirius and Arthur, and then the rest of his staff followed as they formed a line to the left of the entrance.
"There now, that is how you put on a show," Rocco whispered as the men and women exited their vehicles and gasped in awe at the house, the staff, little Harry who waved at them cheerfully, and the grand Master of Willow House.