(1937-10-16) Coercion and Coexistence
Details for Coercion and Coexistence
Summary: Edwarlinda comes to Cassius' estate for dinner, and despite their best efforts, the brother and sister end up talking politics.
Date: 16 October, 1937
Location: Berylwood
Related: Unity

Berylwood, London

This villa estate is nestled behind a natural barrier of trees, forming a thinly forested ring around the entire property. A gated driveway winds through a sprawling garden, teeming with sterling roses and topiary trees in various serpentine and draconic shapes. The driveway ends in a large circle, at the center of which is a smaller garden, complete with a stone fountain carved in the shape of a hydra, spouting several fonts — one from each of the seven heads.

The three-story manor itself is constructed of brick and stone, resembling a castle. The interior of the house is dark — black marble with forest green accents. Silvery-white draperies are used liberally to reflect light and contrast the marble. Entrants through the front doors come in through a reception hall (complete with crystal chandelier), from which rises a grand staircase leading to the other floors. Also on this level is a formal dining room, kitchen, breakfast room, game room, solar, library, and indoor pool. A stairwell from the kitchen leads down to a fully stocked wine cellar. The second story contains the master suite, two secondary bedrooms, and a study. Four more bedrooms occupy the third floor.

Two other buildings rest on the property, flanking the manor house — a staff house and a guest house. Both are in the same style as the main house's exterior, though simpler on the inside.

Around the back of the main house is a second garden, in the form of a hedge maze (enchanted such that only those of Malfoy blood can easily pass), at the center of which is a domed structure with mirrored glass walls.

They kept saying they had to do a dinner, but life is busy and time is short. Eventually, though, Eddie owled him that she was getting out of the office at a reasonable hour this evening and they should eat, but not at his office. His estate was agreed upon and, after apparating to just outside of the grounds and getting past whatever wards or protections her brother may have up, the 30-something Auror finds herself on his front steps. She's in her gray robes still from work, overtop a gray, slimming looking suit. Make up charms are doing much to hide an odd tone of exhaustion to her face, but it's not perfect.

Edwarlinda finds that the wards around Berylwood are quite welcoming to her. They are meant to keep out Muggles and undesirables, not family. The door is promptly answered, magically opened at the snap of a house-elf's fingers. The narrow little creature bows to Edwarlinda, gesturing her into the reception hall, but not daring to speak.

After being alerted to a visitor, Cassius emerges from a door near the stairs, and offers his sister a broad smile as he approaches to embraces her. "Lin, I was so glad to get your owl. It's been far too long since you've visited."

"Hullo." Lin DARES to say to the house elf, but that's pretty much it. And then she's slipping out of her robes and promptly dropping them upon his head. When near her family, Eddie falls back on sometimes the most rude of habits. But they are natural for a Malfoy. She smiles wide as she sees her brother, laughing just a bit and returning the embrace. "I'm never going to get you to call me Eddie, are I?"

Cassius wrinkles his nose in distaste, shaking his head. "Never. You are far too beautiful to saddle you with such a crude sobriquet." He offers her his arm to escort her. "As it is just the two of us, I thought we might dine in the breakfast room."

"That sounds more than lovely. I've got a touch of a bug, but I think I could eat. Just no sharing wine glasses." Eddie admits to him with a bit of a wink, not minding about the Lin issue. She's gotten over it long ago. She then smoothly follows him back through the halls, where he wishes to settle inf or the meal, "How are you doing, Cass? If it wasn't for the movement, I'm not certain if I'd ever see you! And that's sad."

Cassius leads her into the breakfast room — a large, elegant affair off of the kitchen that could easily be mistaken for a dining room — and pulls out a chair for her. House-elves are already levitating trays of freshly prepared food onto the table. "Then I'm doubly elated that you are part of it," he smiles, sitting near her, a table-corner between them. "I hope we can meet with Melania soon, as well. I worry that the others are thinking on too grand a scale at this point. We must focus on England before the world, or we'll overreach ourselves. Ah, but enough talk of Unity," there is a certain gravity when he speaks that word now. "This is family time."

A nod of agreement is given to the discussion of Melania, "It would be good to see the woman. I barely get time with her either." But then Eddie looks more than happy to drop the talk of politics and actually settle in for family time. She gives him a tired, though warm, smile and settles down into one of the more comfortable looking chairs. She glances across the food, trying to decide what actually looks good right now. Her long legs cross, shoes kicked off in determination of being comfortable and casual after work. "Did you have certain family matters on the mind, or just happy for company, Cass?"

Cassius smiles warmly, gesturing to the house-elf attending them, who snaps, and the wine bottle levitates to fill their glasses. "I'm just glad for the company. Tonight, let's leave politics at the door, be they from work or family." He sighs and sits back in his chair. "So, you never told me how your vacation went. Another whirlwind tour?"

Leaving all sorts of politics? Eddie's brows arch, a touch more concern actually crossing her pale features as she gazes over her brother's handsome face. She reaches her free hand down to unbutton her suit jacket, revealing a white silk undershirt. Now that the blazer is open, she tugs her silver cigarette case out and pulls one free, the true measure of relaxation with her. "I will happily leave such things at the door, Cass… but… are you well? I've never known you to even care to leave family politics behind. Something… on your mind?" She asks him gently. The question of the vacation makes her wave it off casually. "Nothing exciting. Down to the French Riveria. Drank a lot. Just needed to relax, you know?"

Cassius nods, taking up his wine. "Oh, I know. Relaxation is a luxury we can little afford. But you are always welcome to come here if you need to get away for a time. Berylwood is quite secure from unwanted intrusion. I tend to think of it as my own little sanctuary." Little, indeed. He leaves the question of politics unanswered for now.

"Little? Cass, you could fit four of my houses into this one." Eddie mentions with a warm laugh, shaking her head and finally getting a moment to light her cigarette. She takes a deep breath of it and closes her eyes, thoroughly relaxing into the night now. "…And you still didn't answer my question about the family, you know?"

Cassius sips his wine, eyes sparkling impishly at her. "I know. I said I didn't want to discuss politics. Can we really talk about the family without delving into that?" He chuckles, veering back to the subject of the house. "Have you ever considered fitting your house in here? You'd be more than welcome to stay, Lin. As you've pointed out, and I have more than enough space."

"I know you do, but I like my house. And it's mine. None of the family's money, no one looking over the shoulder… All mine. It's cute, and has a fireplace, and just enough room. I'd stumble home drunk to this place and get lost trying to find the loo, Cass." Eddie states with a rather pointed look through the lazily drifting smoke of her cigarette.

Cassius sighs, letting his disappointment show. "You're the only Malfoy I'd really want here. At least permanently. I know our lives are quite different…but you are the only relation I have that is willing to let her guard down. Frankly, you're the only one I completely trust. And there I go veering toward family politics." He chuckles, shaking his head.

"…Is there something going on, Cass? I know we are here to talk, relax… but if you've something on your mind, I'd very much like to know. I love you. I don't want you to have to handle any of this alone." Eddie affirms rather seriously, gray eyes wide and intent upon his handsome features. She's once more sitting up straight, leaning over a bit closer to him now, so he can see just quite how worried she is.

Cassius smiles warmly to her, abandoning his usual cool demeanor. He even reaches to place his hand on hers. "You worry too much. There is nothing going on. At least nothing you are unaware of. I simply find that I am enjoying how close we've become, and I want to be a greater part of your life."

The palm across her hand makes her smile a bit more and Eddie turns her fingertips up, not thinking about wine now, so she can hold onto her brother's palm and give a tight squeeze without having to put out her cigarette. "Well, I'm here, Cass. I'm not going anywhere. I would be happy to be a greater part of your life except that you are quite so bloody busy I would hate to intrude… But… I agree. I love you. I don't want this to go away. I want you in my life too."

Cassius chuckles. "Please intrude. I cannot tell you how often I could use the distraction, or a good reason to get away from sycophants. Even I am stunned at how many people will try to ride the coat-tails of sudden fame."

"You brought it on yourself, my dear. You decided to put your name at the front of this, and though I'm glad you did… I'm proud of you, and I will happily be at your side the whole way, it is not going to be an easy ride. I worry for you too…" Eddie squeezes his fingertips before gently letting go and then finally scooping up her wine glass.

Cassius scoops his fingers under her hand, lifting it to kiss her knuckle. "Don't worry about me. I knew what I was getting into. But your support means the world to me, and makes us both stronger than we could be alone."

"Then do remember you are not doing this alone, yes? Let me help… Let me take some of the fire for you too. I'm a girl. Maybe they won't throw as hard…" Eddie jokes gently, taking another long drag of her cigarette and flashing him a warm, if worried kind of smile.

Cassius squeezes her hand endearingly before releasing it so they can eat. It's a dinner, after all. "I thought you already were. Aren't you going to try to get an interview with that Smith fellow?"

Yes. Food. Eddie should eat, barely having had all day, but she just doesn't look thrilled about any of it. She starts picking at some of the fresh bread. Maybe she's trying to watch her figure? There is no doubt Eddie has put on some weight over the last few years, softening into generous, warm curves instead of her toned Auror self of her youth. "Yes, that's the plan and I'm going to keep doing it. I'm just saying don't forget about me when you get famous." She winks teasingly.

"Never," Cassius reassures his sister. "I need you there to help me change the world, remember?" With each of these meetings, he is able to soften more and more with her — at least in private.

Another laugh, though this one a bit more on the nervous end of things, "I… I hope so, Cass. Something does need to change. I… I just hope this is it." Eddie admits, picking at a bit more food, though she's eating like a bird these days. She alternates bites with drags of her cigarette.

Cassius sobers suddenly, pausing with a bite of food still on his fork. "You're having doubts," he says softly.

That pause draws her eyes immediately, blinking to him, "No. Cass, I'm not… not about the fact that the muggles should know about us. That all the truth should get out there and we can, hopefully, co-exist." Eddie meets his eyes dead on so he can see the truth behind her words.

Cassius has her gaze. The temptation is there. He could so easily just slip into her mind and learn exactly what he wants to know. But this is his sister. The one he has chosen to trust above all others. He needs that sense of trust, and if he dives into her thoughts, he has abandoned it. "Then what is it?"

"You… you said something at the dinner… I'm sure it was nothing. But… something akin to controlling the muggles, to be sure they don't fall into war again… This… we… we can't control them, Cassius. This can't BE about subjugation. Which is all the horrid things people are trying to put into our mouths. But it's not. It never will be. It's just about honesty, right?" Eddie states flatly, setting down her fork and ignoring her cigarette for the moment.

Cassius sighs. Damn. Politics and Unity have invaded their nice dinner. He sets his own fork down, the bite uneaten. "Lin, I have been honest about this from the start. We must act to protect ourselves. The Muggles threaten everyone. This isn't about subjugating them. It's about showing them a better way to live, and about wizardkind taking responsibility at last."

Her cigarette is ashed in the tray, hopefully there is a tray, that he always provides for her. Eddie sits up straighter and looks him straight in the eye. "Protecting ourselves is fine. Showing them the way of things is fine, Cass… But controlling them is not. That is my only… Only concern." She reaches a hand out, trying to take his palm again. "You understand?"

Cassius hesitantly takes the offered hand. His features are neutral, but tight, like a frown barely restrained. "And if they continue on this path of annihilation? What would you have us do? Stand by and be destroyed because we worry that it will become subjugation?"

Her fingertips linger in his. Eddie loves him, that much is clear. She is going to stand at his side as much as she possibly can. She rubs the pad of her thumb across the back of his hand. "We stand by and do nothing. We do not give them magic, weapons… nothing to assist. With all the power we have, we show them that we cannot support this war. That is what we do… hopefully the message will be loud enough. And if it is not? We protect ourselves, not them."

Cassius pulls his hand away at that, and he shakes his head with a grave expression. "How is that different from the nothing we are already doing? Do you think that no wizards will be in the paths of their bombs? We live among them already. They just don't know it. If they wipe each other out, they wipe us out along with them. I will not allow that to happen."

The silence that lays between them after that could be louder than any bomb that might hit London. Eddie stares up at him, eyes wide, stomach now completely off of food. She even fully sets down her cigarette as she considers an answer. "…They… they will not wipe each other out, Cass… they are still slightly smarter than that. They still want to live as much as us." She finally murmurs, a touch softer than before.

Cassius sighs, frowning at his food. "Individually? Maybe. But mobs don't have minds of their own. It's the first rule of politics, Lin. Never try to influence the person. You influence the masses. The problem isn't the average Muggle on the street. It's the armies of Muggles, controlled by corrupt Muggle leaders who will sit back safely from the violence and reap the rewards of their warmongering."

"Cass… we… we can't. We can't go into their heads and change them. We can't hold them hostage with magic. They are people just like us." Eddie's voice is softer, not exactly pleading but it is close.

Cassius narrows his eyes suspiciously. "I've never said any such thing. There is a difference between changing power structures and holding them hostage. Who is putting these thoughts in your head? Tell me it isn't MacDubsithe."

"I do not see how you fix to change them then… How do we ensure they do not go to war when we do not control them? We are not taking over their government. We're just being honest… I am all for a peaceful, hands off solution. And no, Sloan hasn't said anything about this. I prefer not to talk politics in my bedroom." Eddie states curtly, sitting up straighter and stabbing out her cigarette. All distractions are set aside now.

Cassius pushes his plate aside, folding his hands before him. "I would like nothing more than to see the Muggles all breathe a collective sigh of understanding and enlightenment when we reveal ourselves. Then they will lay down their arms, and we can all embrace one another. That is a pretty fantasy. But it is a fantasy. Have I not said from the beginning this it is our duty to lead the Muggles to a better future? That we are the custodians of the world, and we have been lax in our duties? My message hasn't changed, Lin. What changed your mind?"

"Nothing has… has changed my mind. I just worry what… What 'lead' constitutes some days. I just want to make certain we know we can't… can't do this by force. By violence. As long as we're showing the way by… Example. Diplomacy. Negotiations? Of course I'm with you… We are better than their violence and their force." Eddie doesn't quite push her plate aside. She's still doing her best to keep this calm. In fact, she pulls out her cigarettes and moves to light another. See? Still relaxed.

"That would be splendid. I would nice nothing better than peaceful coexistence, in which we can be a guiding light." Cassius' eyes go stark and grave. "But I have studied their history, Lin. Whatever errors wizards have made, the atrocities committed by Muggles in the name of fear, greed, and blind zealotry far outstrip our worst sins. Those factors still exist, and make no mistake, once we are revealed, we will have to contend with them."

"Then tell me how you intended to contend with that if it's not through negotiations? Peaceful talks with their government. Association." Eddie doesn't seem to doubt him in the least, her own gray eyes serious and respectful, but there is still clear hope behind her gaze as well.

Cassius nods somberly. "We will begin with that, of course. We are not barbarians or conquerors. We will make every effort for a peaceful transition. You know me, Lin. Words are my weapons. I have no interest in conflict if it isn't necessary. But we cannot afford to be caught unprepared if diplomacy fails. We must have contingencies in place to protect not just ourselves, but the Muggles and this world as well. Unity isn't merely something we hope to attain. It is a recognition of a fact that already exists: that we share this planet, and what affects Muggles also affects wizards."

"Alright. I… I agree with that, Cass. What are these contingencies, though? That… that's where we have to be so careful. Ever… ever so bloody careful. And we don't have to talk about it tonight. I'm sorry. I know you didn't want to get into this." The blonde sighs, collapsing back into the chair and dragging her free hand across her face. Eddie looks so very tired for just a moment or two.

Cassius doesn't look tired, so much as sad. He can feel the bond they were strengthening starting to weaken. "I know these things are hard to hear. Harder still to accept. It isn't fair that I'm heaping them upon you so suddenly, when I've had years to come to the necessary conclusions." Indeed, the repealment movement didn't start overnight. It was in the works long before he ever mentioned it to the press, let alone held a rally for it. "There will be layers of contingencies. When one method fails, we move to another more drastic step, and hope we need not move on to the next. But let me ask you something. If it did come to it, and the Muggles turned their weapons on us, the bombs ready to drop — would you not do everything in your power to stop it? If seizing power were the only way to safeguard the world, would you not take it?"

Edwarlinda has thought things through, but with a happier heart than he, clearly. Eddie exhales a long breath of her cigarette as she crosses her slender legs, leaning deeply back in the chair. Doing her best to let her body say she's relaxed and all is fine. "…It…it won't come to that… But… of course, we… We have to ensure… ensure that the world survives. That the smallest… loss of life… happens… But we… there has to be a line, Cass. We can't become as evil and foolish as them."

Cassius reaches again for her hand, trying to find that connection again. "Of course, Lin. Of course. But that line must permit us to survive, no matter the cost. That is the birthright of every living creature: to defend one's own life by any means necessary. But /only// what is necessary. Have faith in me, Lin. I want the same thing you do."

Of course, Eddie reaches over to grab his hand in turn. She's not going to pull away. Even as he felt the connection between them slackening, she didn't. She trusts him. More so, she loves him. She squeezes his hand tightly and lets go of a small breath she was holding. "As… as long as we agree there will be a line… then it will be fine. I do have faith in you, Cass. I just don't want you caught up in all this…"

Cassius smiles softly, slowly regaining his confidence. "Caught up in all of this? Lin, I'm am all of this. There is no turning back now." He leans forward, again lifting her hand for a kiss. "But as long as I have you by my side, I know that you'll be certain my vision remains clear. This is why I need you. Your heart is my compass. Promise me I'll always have that."

"If you promise me you'll listen. If I tell you you are going too far, Cass… listen to me. Please. Still your hand and let us figure it out together, yes?" Eddie insists strongly, leaning a bit closer, her fingertips so tightly around his hand that they are slightly white knuckled now.

Cassius stares at her in silence, and for a moment it's almost as if she's the Legilimens, as he willfully pours his thoughts and feels into his expression. It speaks of a touch of sadness, which turns to hope, and then his overwhelming love for her. He nods, almost imperceptibly. "Yes. Together."

Setting her cigarette down, Eddie reaches her other hand over to clutch across his palm in her's, giving it another squeeze. Eddie says nothing for a few moments, searching his eyes to be sure of the truth. "Then…I will be here. As long as we're both alive. I won't let you stray. And you might hate me for it some day, but I won't. I'm keeping you to that promise." It's her turn to pull his hand to her lips for a gentle kiss.

Cassius smiles adoringly at her, and cups her cheek affectionately. "I could never hate you, sister. Disagree with you, maybe. But I have nothing in my heart but love for you." He nods, sighing heavily. "Thank you. I am…comforted. I suppose there was more weighing upon me than I realized."

"There was. And I know you. You wanted to talk of these things — needed to — even if you protested that you did not." Eddie leans into the touch against her cool, just slightly clammy cheek. The exhaustion is lingering clearly, but it's been a long week or two. "And we shall be fine. We'll all get through this just fine."

"Clearly, this is why I need you. Sometimes you know me better than I know myself." Cassius slowly draws his hand from her face. "It's going to be a hard road. I think we all realize that. But I'm more confident with you at my side. Now, let's eat, and I'd like you to consider staying here tonight. You need your rest, and Apparating around town will only exhaust you more."

And with that, Eddie releases his hand, nodding. "Yes. Eat and actually relax… This needs to be done. I love you, and we will get through this." She promises him before sitting up again and actually tackling her food this time. She'll eat at least half of it before the night is done.

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