(1937-11-13) Knives to the Heart
Details for Knives to the Heart
Summary: Cassius and Edwarlinda's bonds are strained.
Date: November 13, 1937
Related: Secrets

Cassius and Edwarlinda sit at the entirely-too-large breakfast table, enjoying a light dinner filled with quiet small talk. Cassius avoided speaking of anything related to family, politics, or Sloan. They can at least enjoy a meal before things get strained. "In any event," he continues his anecdote, "The man wasn't a Muggle at all. He was a boggart! It turns out that Kensington is terrified of them!" He chuckles, shaking his head.

A light, more relaxed laugh escapes Eddie's lips as he finishes the end of that story, shaking her head with an amused smirk. "Well, Kensington is barmy on the best of days, so that doesn't surprise me. Amusing, though… I'm glad to see you stiff collars can have SOME amusement in your lives." Eddie winks and finally sinks back in her seat, fork set down and she allows the house elf to take her plate away. She's so full she can barely move, but the food was good and needed.

Cassius's hand goes to his very stiff collar with the faux scales adorning it. "I have no idea what you mean," he says with a smirk. "Believe me, I have plenty of amusement. I'm not as starchy as you might think."

The collar is eyed up with a good bit of amusement and a smile. "No, no… not stiff at all." She winks at him teasingly and then slowly begins to sit up straight. Eddie rubs one hand across her fully belly and stifles just a bit of a yawn, exhaustion touching on the edges of her mind now that she's sated. "I'm glad you're not as starchy. And I'm glad we're getting closer… but it is getting a bit late."

Cassius nods, his expression turning more serious. "It is, and we have things to do and discuss." He rises from his chair, offering a hand to her. "Walk with me."

"We… we do? I thought we were just doing dinner this evening, dear brother…" Eddie admits softly, a sudden touch of nerves coming into her husky voice. She does, however, accept his hand and smoothly unfold her tan-suit clad form up from the chair. She looks elegant as ever, if not quite so flashy as some nights. Her free hand slips into her pocket to draw out her cigarette case.

Cassius nods solemnly. "Lin, I haven't seen you since that evening at your home. Surely, you don't expect that I've simply set all of that aside." He places her hand into the crook of his elbow and leads her out through the back entrance. The chill of the evening air strikes suddenly, but he moves forward, undeterred, toward the hedge maze.

Edwarlinda follows after him quietly, brows lofting a bit more as she sees the hedge maze. She's rarely, if ever, come out here. The blonde draws in a slow, calming breath even as she pops the cigarette holder open and draws out one of the smokes with her lips. It's replaced into her pocket and the cigarette is lit a moment later before she fully settles onto her brother's arm. "No… I did not expect it all to be set aside. I just didn't realize we would be handling it tonight."

As they enter the maze, he draws his hand down the wall of vegetation, and the hedges shift and close the entrance behind them. "For privacy," he reassures her. "I suppose you are still seeing MacDubsithe." He doesn't bother to hide the disdain in his voice. She knows his feelings on the man.

Gray eyes turn back, studying the closing vegetation, but she trusts her brother. Eddie gives a warmer, gentle smile and settles close on his arm as they begin the slow stroll through the maze. She still remembers the way they are going, mind keeping carefully aware of the turns they take, but the rest of her looks relaxed. "Yes, I am. I quite love him, Cassius, and I know you do not approve but, dammit, he is my decision. He keeps me safe and this child safe. He's a good man."

"He is a dangerous man," Cassius counters. "Merlin's beard, Lin. The man threatened me…no, he was preparing to inflict violence upon me in your living room, right in front of you. Yet you defended him. I warned you this would happen. I told you that love is blinding, and is not a sole basis for a relationship. You are choosing him over your own family, and you are alienating me." There. He's said it.

That makes Eddie pause immediately, her expression growing a bit darker as she turns on the ball of her foot and brings herself to stand directly in front of him instead of off to the side of the path. She looks up to his eyes, letting him see the seriousness in her features, her free hand coming up to rest on his chest. "Yes. He is a dangerous man. Yes. He was *not* preparing to inflict violence on you. If he intended to be violent, you would have felt it. It was ready to defend himself if you attacked. But you did not. He would never hurt you unless it was in self defense. I promise my life on this. And love, at my age, is a damned good basis for a relationship. I am choosing a future for myself. No one else. I do not wish to alienate you. I love you. But I am not going to stand alone in these days either. I love him too,"

Cassius glowers at her. There is anger there. "How can you so willingly blind and deafen yourself? Shall I recite his words? They are burned into my mind. As he removed his various implements of thuggery from his pockets, he said, 'I'm afraid, Master Malfoy, you've overstepped your bounds. To make things fair, you can keep your wand to defend yourself.' To defend myself. That is a threat, and he was prepared to carry it out. The only reason he didn't lay me out was because you interposed yourself between us. Don't deny it, Lin."

"He was baiting you. You didn't rise to the bait and neither did he. Yes… it was a poor choice of words, and I've already yelled at him over it all too. He knows how important you are to me, how much I love my family, and he knows to conduct himself better. But you have to be… at least a bit more civil to him also. Or, fuck… perhaps i'll just never have you both in the same room. That's fine. But… I'm not ending this because he's rougher than our normal sort. I'm sorry." Eddie then turns back away from him, continuing her way deeper into the hedge, hoping she remembers the way though she's only been through once or twice. He might change it.

The hedge maze changes regularly, but Edwarlinda is a Malfoy, and the maze knows the blood. One way or another, it will eventually guide her where she wishes to go.

"I don't believe for a moment that he was merely baiting. He carries a garrote and brass knuckles in his pockets, Lin. Those are not necessary for Auror work. You invite disaster, and for what? Love for one man is more important to you than the love and safety of your family? I'm offended, Lin. He meant me harm, and you bloody well know it. Yet you grasp at any excuse to make him seem the innocent victim. Open your eyes."

"NEITHER of you are the innocent victim! You are both fucking bound and determined to dislike each other and so picking at each other's tempers and weaknesses. And I know what work he does as an Auror and what streets he travels through. The things he uses are part of the culture and the low class where he does much of his research. Yes. He is a thug and a brute, I will admit this. It doesn't mean I love him any less. Now, bloody hell, can we drop this? Please? My mind is not changing. I shall just keep you two separate." Eddie is walking straight and starkly forward now, letting the maze part for her, as she stalks towards its center.

"There is no direct route," Cassius advises her. "There is no battering your way through the obstacles before you. You are a Malfoy. You should know better." Indeed, the maze doesn't necessarily make it easy. Not even for a Malfoy. He strolls after her, occasionally gesturing to invite her along a different path. "You cannot ignore the facts, Lin. You are heading off of a cliff, and I am trying to save you from it. You are being selfish, and you know where this path will lead. The family will disown you, and your child will be without grandparents, aunts, and uncles. It will grow up believing a brute to be its father. Eventually, the excitement of your love for Sloan will fade, and you will see him for the wretch he is, and you will be alone. But you cannot see the path before you. You are lost, and it is my duty to help you find your way."

Now she's feeling trapped. Heart in her throat, Eddie's breath comes a bit faster as she realizes she can't just stalk through the path and get to the end. She tries to keep herself calm, but the anger of his words and the frustration of the whole situation is nearly overwhelming. "You may not care, but Sloan has been at my side for 20 years. As has Keenan, Niamh, and the entire group of those friends from school. He is not going anywhere. I fully expect half the family to disown me for getting knocked up accidentally anyway. So fucking drop it, Cassius, and let me make my own adult decisions. I am not the stupid child which you are portraying me to be. I have thought this through."

Cassius scowls, but continues on through the maze at a steady pace. "Indeed. He has been there while you abandoned us. You abandoned me, Lin. I didn't walk away from you. You chose to go play with your 'Lions' while I looked after myself. This was always your choice, and look where it has led you. I've tried to be here for you. But you are choosing him over me. You are choosing the man that would threaten harm to your own blood over that very blood. So, no, I will most certainly not drop it. Not so long as you continue to call yourself my sister."

"I didn't abandon you, Cassius! You've always had friends and family. We were never in school together! I had to go to school while you were at home, growing up, you know that. I always came home every summer. I loved you. I did NOT abandon you and don't you DARE accuse me of doing that in your little attempts to manipulate me away from my friends and my lover. Love is not… finite. Just because you love one person doesn't take away how much you care for another. I can care for all of them and you as well. I always have. So don't, just DON'T try to turn this into my fault. I have always been here for you as much as I can. As much as YOUR life permits, as much as mine."

Edwarlinda is walking fast, the panic in her still rising, though anger is mixing with anxiety, all to send her face flushed and head spinning.

Cassius frowns, but doesn't rise to an angry tone. "Don't rush ahead. It's better to stay together, as we should be. We can always find the better path when we stand together." He doesn't hurry after her, letting her push ahead through the twists and turns if she so desires. "My point, Lin, is that you always chose your other life over ours. You've always preferred your friends over your family. I can hardly blame you for wanting to be away from mother and father. But me? It was never just your presence I wanted, Lin. It was your consideration. But once again, I come second. This time after a man that would do me harm. Try putting yourself in my position. It hurts, Lin. I know I don't show it well. I could, if that would make it easier for you. But I fear you might think me insincere if I cried."

She stops and turns on him again. Possibly pausing and catching her breath for a few moments is a wiser idea, but it's hard. Eddie looks flushed, angered, eyes just a bit glassy as she stares at him, still livid. "I have chosen love and friendship over hate and racisim. Over… turning my back on anyone who is not pure and pretending like I am too good for everyone. Yes. You are right in that. I would rather not sit in a room pretending to hate the world. I'd rather be with friends who are working to make it better. And I love you. I will always come when called. Always be there when you need me, you just have to ask. I come to your dinners, I visit you at the ministry, I give you more time than anyone else in the family right now because you care, and I love you.. and I don't really think the rest of them care one jot. So I'm here. I am not doing this to hurt you. I will not disappear from you life just because I am in love with a man. Do not accuse me of such." Eddie states flatly, still breathlessly, one hand reaching out to rest against one of the more solid parts of the hedge to keep herself steady in her anger and hurt.

Cassius steps up to her, reaching to take her hands and offer himself to steady her. "You would marry this man, and you don't think it will take you from me? I don't know how many times I can say this. He tried to inflict violence upon me. Stop ignoring this fact. Stop pretending it was a ruse. Only your physical presence stopped him. He. Meant. To hurt me. And you have chosen him over me. That is what I am accusing you of. That is the knife to my heart."

While the offer of his hands is nice, her body stiffens just a bit and there is no part of her that wants to touch him in the least. Still too angry and frustrated, Eddie keeps herself pulled away and steady on her own, hands resting on her hips instead and feet remaining planted. "And you won't listen to me when I tell you I am utterly certain in every part of my heart he would not have actually taken violent action. If Sloan intends to hit someone, he does. He did not hit you. I have already yelled at him about the baiting… but he did not try to inflict violence. You would be hurt if he did. I swear that to you. And YOU do not trust me to know a man I'v known for twenty years better than a man you've met a handful of times. And that is the knife to My heart."

"You're right," he says softly. "I don't trust you to cast an unbiased judgement of his intentions. You choose to see only the best in that man, and repeatedly cover your eyes when the worst in him comes out. You make excuses for his low behaviour, and forgive any sleight by him. But let us assume for a moment that you are correct, and that he only meant to bait me into defending myself. You would prefer the man who would try to force me to hex him? The man that threatens your blood is so much better than the one that gives your blood a square punch to the jaw? This is not a game of inches, Lin. He is miles beneath you, and it has nothing to do with his lineage. He chooses to be a caveman."

"And you only see him as a caveman. You do not want to get to know him, or dare give him the benefit of the doubt, or listen to my sense about him. And no. I did not blindly forgive any sleight of his. Trust me, I was viciously angry with him. He knows to treat you with respect and as my brother in the future and should be do that again there will be even worse consequences. I have debated this with him as long as I am debating it with you, but I am done. You are not bothering to listen to a word I say… Much like the rest of the family. I thought maybe you'd care. You'd try to understand. But clearly not. Let me fucking out of her, Cassius, I'm done." Eddie abruptly turns away as she says that, so he cannot see the sudden tears in her eyes even as her heart catches into her throat, anger and quiet panic at a complete high now. She is not used to this exhaustion emotionality she's been feeling lately, and this fight as simply made it worse.

Cassius stays where he is, letting her go. "Finding your way out isn't a problem, Lin. Fleeing is always easier, as you well know. It's navigating obstacles and searching out the core of your troubles that is difficult, but ultimately more rewarding."

Edwarlinda draws in a shallow, slightly shaking breath, brushing one hand across her face to push away tears before he ever sees them. She tries to swallow her heart back down her throat, but it's hard. "And when you will not trust or listen to me one inch… when you just keep making the same damn argument, I do not think we are navigating obstacles. You want me to agree with you, or I am being a horrid person. I will not agree to leave Sloan, so there is nothing to be done here but have me leave."

Cassius stares at her for a long moment of silence, his brow slowly creasing into sadness. "Then you have chosen the attacker over the victim. Infatuation over true kinship. That saddens me deeply." He looks the other direction, deeper into the maze. "I can still do one thing for you, before you leap off of this cliff. Your memory. I can try to search it out. Consider it my parting gift."

Edwarlinda spins on him suddenly, true anger lighting up her pale eyes, glimmering with the lingering tears which she didn't want to show him. "Fuck, Cassius, when YOU are the one who is saying 'I will discharge you from my life unless you leave this man' when the other side has never dared give me a single ultimatum about my actions, my family, or my time, who is the one being too harsh here? I have given on every avenue. Said I will not see you both together, I will happily spend time with each of you apart. I will continue to work with you, for the movement, be with the family… I simply will not involve him. You are the one who wants my whole world. He does not. What do you expect me to do? Give into this demand? And no, Cassius… I… I will not take the pity help from a man who wants to control my life."

Cassius's eyes darken, finally giving to anger. Though his voice never rises, there is a coldness to it. "You have made this choice, Edwarlinda. You have chosen to be with a disgusting pig of a man instead of standing by your brother's love. Your decision validates his insults and threats. I have not sent you away. You are running away. What I want is your love, but you have made it clear which love you value more. So go. Be with him. Throw away everything that should matter to you and that child. And when his gross violence and brutish nature become too much to bear, I will be here. Always." His voice softens at the last word, but only for a moment. "But until you can give a damn about me when it truly matters, I'll not subject myself to further insult and danger, nor the callous disregard of my own sister."

"I DO give a damn about you. I love you. What I do with Sloan is simply none of your damn business. I am not asking you to be with him or near him. Are you LISTENING to me at ALL? I am not asking you to subject yourself to insult or danger! I want our relationship to remain just as it has been, getting closer and closer, working together over the Unity movement, loving each other. You are the one trying to force me to make a choice. If you tell me that we can stay as we are, and simply pretend Sloan isn't in my life, then fine. We shall do that and move on. If not… well… then that is your choice. Not mine. I do not wish to go. I love you and I want to compromise on this. Work it through. You are the one who will not budge." Eddie stares up at him, waiting for his final decision in quietly devestated sadness.

Cassius curls a lip. "The insult, the callousness, is that you ignore and forgive what he has done. Had any friend or lover of mine ever dared to threaten you, that person would be fortunate if my wrath lasted less than a lifetime. But you give him a tongue lashing, and I am supposed to find this an acceptable punishment? I do not wish to pretend he does not exist. His very presence in your life is an affront."

A slow, disbelieving shake of her head comes that she has to rehash this. Eddie believes shakily, trying to ignore the stir of her stomach. It'd not due to get ill on all the lovely food she just ate, even if her body is simply rebelling against all this stress. "I did not ignore it. I did not forgive it. He knows he is on shaky ground for such actions alone. But I do not lash out at people for making one simple mistake. Fuck, Cassius, I'd have killed a dozen people by now if that were true." She grits her teeth and shakes her head again, breathing through her nose. "What would you have me do other than leave him? Give me one other option to appease you… I have given on so much."

Cassius stares, stone-faced and unwavering. "Your words betray you. What he did was not 'one simple mistake.' It was a calculated act that only your interference prevented. He was calm as a cat as he prepared to throttle me. But even such blatant cruelty isn't enough to show you the monster that he is. Even after you admit that you are aware of this thuggish tendencies. So how could I possibly want anything less than to see you safely as far from him as possible? There is no compromise in this. There is no choice you can make that includes him that will not be a betrayal of me. No, Lin. If you choose him, you are telling me that you approve of what he has done, and that is a heartbreak I cannot bear from you."

"No. No I am not. Those are words you are shoving into my mouth, Cassius. I have told you multiple times I do not approve of what he did. That I am working on his act, and he is learning to be a better person for being with me. We are both growing. But you disregard my words. You put more into my mouth that I have never said. And you will not budge. Not even one little inch for your sister, when she would change the world save ending it with a man she loves. You are the one who ends this between us. Do not make me the villain here." Eddie then turns, making her way back towards the shrubbery, leaving now before she becomes sick at his feet. She won't break into nausea or tears here, not yet. Not in his sight.

"No," he says softly, perhaps too softly. "I will not budge to permit that wretch to sully what I love." True to Cassius' words, the maze proves much easier to navigate on the way out, rather than in. Soon enough, it is opening up a passage for her to depart. Meanwhile, Cassius continues his slow path into the center, toward the mirrored dome structure. Safely out of the sight of any who could see, he wipes the silent tears from his cheeks as they fall from cold, hardening eyes.

It's briefly outside of the maze that Eddie goes to her knees against a set of bushes, getting ill in his lovely flowers, gulping for breath against the cool night air, especially as she dissolves into tears herself. At least she held out this long, he didn't see such weakness in her. Even if his lovely dinner has now gone completely to waste. "Fuck… Cassius… fuck…" She rasps out.

It isn't long after Edwarlinda noisily loses dinner that the hedge wall parts again, and Cassius is striding out. Cheeks stained with tears, but a determined and worried scowl on his face, he comes to his sister's side, placing his hands on her arms to help steady and lift her. "Come," is all he says, looking briefly toward the house.

Edwarlinda is not accustomed to being like this. Being weak. Eddie has stood strong and stable through the worst of things, but the hormones of her body raging against her are, apparently, too much. At least with rich food. She'll get accustomed to it, but in these first few weeks it's taking miserable time, especially when stress is at a high. She doesn't even realize he's behind her until his fingertips rest on her arms. She instinctively jerks towards her wand before her mind catches up to who is touching her. She's clammy against his touch, as he pulls her up to her feet, but she shakes her head. "I…I'll…be fine in a minute…"

"Come," he says more insistently. His hands remain on her arms, to guide and support. "No argument. You need rest." Despite his commanding tone, there is something else…a falter. It is barely evident, and perhaps only one who knows him as well as Eddie would notice. But after he allowed himself tears, bottling them back up is not as easy.

While she'd prefer to pull away and stand on her own two feet she genuinely doesn't have the strength right now. As he guides her, supports her like that, she'll follow where ever he walks. No matter how angry she is, how hurt over the whole matter, she trusts him. She loves him. She'll go where he walks. Eddie remains unsteadily there, beneath his touch, breath still shallow. "I… I'm sorry, Cass… I do love you." She whispers against his cheek, her own damp with clammy sweat and tears.

"I know you do," Cassius whispers back. "That has never been in question." He takes her into the house, and once inside, orders a house-elf to Apparate them upstairs, rather than make her climb to a guest room.

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