(1937-11-20) The Mouse Meets the Silver Tongued Snake
Details for The Mouse Meets the Silver Tongued Snake
Summary: A chance encounter between Rhyeline and Cassius leads to a conversation of the political controversies of the day.
Date: Tuesday, November 20, 1937
Location: Cafe Tasseo

It is a fall day. The weather is warm and drizzling.

Café Tasseo – North Verdic Alley - London

Named for the art of Tasseomancy (Tea Leaf Reading), the posh Cafe Tasseo offers complimentary tea leaf reading to its customers. The cafe has a sort of French elegance to it, but it is much less flagrant, which makes it pure British. The chairs are all padded dining chairs of mahogany and golden embossed fabric one would expect to find in a Louis XIV style without all the pomp of leaves and flanges, just smooth curvaceous lines of mahogany. The use of mahogany, gold and pristine white is throughout the spacious room.

The ceiling is a floral mosaic of white and gold with chandeliers and light fixtures dangling from the mosaic in appropriate places. The gold gilding continues into the walls, accenting raised relief panels on the columns between the windows. The panels share the floral motif of the ceiling, intricately crafted down to the last detail. The windows themselves are just as magnificently turned out; the top quarter is draped in gold shades, the bottom half covered by white sheers, allowing the patrons privacy yet letting ample light through the uncovered section of glass.

The morning of the discussion forum (a debate no longer) dawns with a steady drizzle pouring from the grey London sky. Rhyeline scurries through North Verdic Alley, her dark gaze peeking out from under the hood of her thick rain cloak to make sure she isn’t getting lost. At last she arrives at Café Tasseo and slips as unobtrusively through the doors as possible.

The host greets her with all the deference paid to patrons from well-known pure-blood families. While Rhyeline is not necessarily from one, her mother’s pure-blood French lineage, and her father’s status in the world of literature and academia affords her a certain degree of deference from the staff here. But had that not be sufficient, her place as Ambassador Troy’s assistant would have opened what doors remained closed.

Having been seated at a small table in the middle of the room, the young witch orders a cup of coffee and a single scone.

It's been a busy morning for Cassius Malfoy, so he elected to take breakfast at the cafe rather than eat at home. As he steps in from the rain, he pulls back his hood, having elected to wear a more practical cloak today, rather than his usual decorative cape. He pauses for a moment near the door to greet the hostess and share some casual banter before she shows him to a seat.

As none other than Cassius Malfoy steps through the door, Rhyeline lifts her gaze and pauses at the sight of him. Despite the deep shyness of her gaze, she peeks up at him with intense curiosity as he begins to approach. The hostess seats him at the table one over from hers, and the girl quickly looks back down into her cup of coffee. It isn’t until he begins to order that she ventures to look over at him once more.

Cassius is a man who makes it is business to read people, noting even the subtlest of reactions and affectations. Even as he finishes his order, he glances sidelong at Rhye with a subtle smile of amusement. He nods in greeting, addressing her a pleasant, casual tone. "Good day, Miss." He opens the proverbial door, watching curiously to see if she'll step through.

The door is open, but it takes a moment for the cautious kitten to step through. But at last after a moment of shy hesitation, she lowers her gaze and nods to him with the greatest respect. In a murmur as soft as one would expect from a delicate creature such as her, she says, “Miss Diderot. Good morning, Mister Malfoy.”

Cassius smiles warmly, endeared by her shy manner. "Miss Diderot, a pleasure." He gazes silently for a moment, pondering. "You seem familiar to me somehow. Have we met before?" Cassius sees so many new faces every day, it is difficult even for him to keep track of all of them.

“I am Ambassador Troy’s assistant. Perhaps you have noticed me at the Ministry in the last few weeks. Or perhaps you are familiar with my father, Dillorous Diderot.” Magical History is her father’s primary focus. In recent months, a few of his articles have appeared in the Daily Prophet, providing a bit of historical insight into the recent controversy surrounding the Statute of Secrecy.

Cassius nods, eyes roaming as he searches his memory. "That must be it, then. In fact, I met Ambassador Troy personally at a dinner recently. But your father, indeed. That is a name I recognize. His recent words in the Prophet were most informative. I particularly enjoyed the one about the years following the institution of the Statute of Secrecy. I tend to think that the aggressive use of memory charms to rewrite Muggle history had a rather unfortunate long-term effect."

Rhyeline blinks, pleasantly surprised that such a man is familiar with her father’s work. The glow of admiration in her young, dark gaze only deepens. “When the strings of truth are manipulated too much, tangles and irreparable knots are sure to arise.” The girl’s cup of coffee and a scone already sliced with clotted cream and blackberry jam is spread upon it for her. Nodding in thanks, the girl takes up her warm cup in both hands.

Cassius smiles and nods his approval. "Well said, and all too true. May I use that in a speech?" He glances toward the door, then back to Rhye. "Are you expecting company, Miss Diderot? If not, I'd like to offer my own."

Rhyeline’s eyes widen as such a skilled orator asks to use something she said in a speech. A subtle pink hue warms her pale features. Then as he offers to join her, she dips her head into a nod, “Yes. Please do. I was not expecting anyone. I-“ she hesitates. “This place is often much quieter than the Leaky Tavern. And-“ she offers a shy smile, “- the coffee is much better.”

Cassius rises, and moves to take a seat at Rhye's table, beckoning the server carrying his tea to take note of the new seating arrangement. "Indeed. Well, one can hardly expect a common pub to serve refinements of quality. Of course, should one desire a stiff drink or rustic fare, the Cauldron is the place to attend."

“Their mulled wine is tasty,” murmurs Rhyeline with that shy smile of hers. Bringing the cup to her lips, she takes a small sip. “I believe I met your brother there recently. Cyril Malfoy? He had recently returned from his travels in the Near East.” The girl seems tentative as she broaches this subject, as if not quite sure if it is appropriate to mention, or if he and his brother are close.

Cassius chuckles softly, and takes a sip of his tea. "Mmm, yes. Cyril is staying with me, actually. At least until he decides whether he is staying for the long term. He has quite the wanderlust." He arches an eyebrow, "And how was my brother? Polite, I hope." There is a hint of what may be sarcasm in his tone.

“Yes, sir,” Rhyeline nods. “He was most polite. He told me of his adventures serving the kings and rulers of the Arab nations. I found his role in matters quite fascinating. It seems he took a middle ground, neither hiding nor revealing. Simply acting and guiding things as he saw fit. Of course…the squabbles of such desert tribes are far more simplistic than the storm brewing over Europe.”

"Indeed," Cassius agrees. "Though it's all interconnected, and my brother has a unique perspective on matters of war. He can see more clearly than most what is coming. But enough of that rather depressing talk. Tell me about your work. What is it that you do for Ambassador Troy?"

“I am his assistant.” Rhyeline’s smile brightens as the man takes an interest in her work and switches topics easily. “I served him in Germany and now that circumstances no longer permit him to work there, I serve him here in London.”

Cassius lifts his brow curiously. "I may be looking for an assistant myself, soon. In what capacity do you assist him? You seem to have a bright mind, so I can only imagine that I should be looking for someone to do what you can do."

“In Germany, I was present for his negotiations. I took notes and provided summaries. It was for me to be his second set of eyes. I shared with him details from those conversations that from his angle he couldn’t have seen. Or that perhaps his eyes couldn’t perceive. But these days, my work mainly involves providing summary translations or taking care of menial research.” Lowering her gaze, she takes a bite of the scone.

Cassius nods, barely taking note when his breakfast danish arrives. "Yes…I imagine that second perspective would be invaluable. I shall have to find someone with keen insight. Does he require you to perform menial tasks? Anything unrelated directly to his ambassadorial duties?"

Rhyeline blinks, looking up at him, and shakes her head slowly. “No sir. I am his assistant, but I belong to the Ministry. To the Department of International Magical Cooperation. My duties relate only to his work as Ambassador. And he understands this. He is a man of great courtesy, even to those who serve under him.”

Cassius nods approvingly, "Highly professional. I like that. So, what about the I.M.C. interested you? I admit, I do not know many that aspire to the office, though it is an impressive and important post, to be sure."

Rhyeline is quiet for a moment as she slowly sips from the exquisite china containing her French-pressed coffee. "My mother is living just outside of Paris at the moment and I have many other relatives there. She is a daughter of the Moreau family." Setting down her coffee, she peeks up at him. "The great war ended the year I was born, and though they tried to protect me from what happened during those dark days, I am certain that they will not be untouched by what is to come if we simply let it take its course." Lowering her gaze once more, she murmurs, "I wanted to do something that mattered with my life. Working to assist in the creation of a lasting peace felt like the only thing that would.” Rhyeline's cheeks seem a bit flushed after having spoken so much and revealed things she rarely shares.

Cassius nods in obvious agreement and understanding. "That is admirable. So, I feel compelled to once again return to politics. What are your own feelings on Unity? How do you feel about the repealment of the Statute of Secrecy? I should very much like to hear the opinions of someone with an international perspective."

Rhyeline hesitates. “Well… um…” Her gaze flickers back and forth from his face to her coffee. At last, looking up at him, she murmurs, “I suppose I haven’t decided yet. I don’t like to make judgments or decisions without knowing everything I can first. I wanted to hear more first.”

"A very wise position to take." Cassius doesn't display the least bit of concern or offense that she doesn't immediately take his side. "I assume, then, that you will be attending Mr. Sullivan's forum in Hogsmeade, today?"

“Yes, sir,” murmurs Rhyeline with a nod. “He… he is a colleague and friend of my father. He recognized me when we met at the Leaky Cauldron and he invited me to attend. He had mentioned it was to be a debate but… I read in the Daily Prophet today that you had declined to participate?” The girl bites her lower lip, curious, but not wishing to be rude.

Cassius chuckles. "Indeed, I did. Mr. Sullivan has not demonstrated much in the way of civility or fair play when it comes to his efforts to challenge me. There will be a debate, in good time. But I have openly stated my position, let him state his. Then perhaps, if he can behave with decorum, we shall discuss the matter together in a public forum. Though, the thought of a goblin moderating such an event, well…that hardly seems wise at all." He chuckles softly, shaking his head at the notion.

Rhyeline has spent too much time around diplomats. Rather softly she says, "A goblin moderator is…unusual. But so is one that writes for the Daily Prophet with a basic command of rhetoric." Having taken another sip of coffee, she peeks up at Cassius curiously. "He clings to practices of the past and you wish to stride forward. But what of a middle way? Your brother was able to guide the wars of muggles without revealing his true identity, and yet he made lasting effects, did he not? What would you say to the possibility of taking a stronger role in the affairs of muggles while not revealing to them the secrets of our world?"

Cassius frowns slightly at the notion. "Strings of truth, knots and tangles," he says, harkening back to her earlier words. "Further secret manipulation will only create a more complex web, and when the threads start breaking, all will unravel quite catastrophically. No, I daresay that is precisely the opposite of what I desire, not a middle ground. Don't misunderstand. Nobody is expecting us to simply step out of the shadows and be openly embraced by the Muggles. This will take time and careful planning. But we must start now, so that we can have influence on world affairs before the Muggles plunge is into another Dark Age."

Rhyeline listens with her full attention fixed upon Cassius’ features, taking in his every word. Though she offered him a suggestion of her own, it does not seem she is tied to it. She is, as she said, still making her own judgments and is eager to hear what Cassius has to say. “It seems you have given a great deal of thought to its complexities,” she murmurs softly after a moment. Lowering her gaze, she takes a moment to consider his words further by taking a final sip of coffee. Setting it back down, she says, “I hope that your opposition gives equal thought to matters rather than relying on impulses of emotion and tradition.”

Cassius sighs and nods. "As do I. I look forward to hearing what they have to say. But so far, I admit, I have no been impressed. The Segregationists seem to be motivated by fear. I contend that fear is the most dangerous motivation of all. Ironically, it is the very motivation that many of them say the Muggles had for turning against us when the Statute was first instituted. Fortunately, there is an easy cure for fear. Knowledge."

Rhyeline smiles up at him. Throughout their conversation, the admiration in the shy creature’s gaze has only deepened. “Truly.” Setting down her cup of coffee at last she offers a deep nod of respect once more to him. “Thank you so much. It has been such an honor to speak with you. I should go though. There is some work I wanted to do before taking the time to go to the forum tonight.”

Cassius nods and rises, offering a hand to her. "Are you headed to the Ministry, then? I should be off, myself. I wouldn't mind escorting you, if you don't mind being seen in my presence."

Once again, the young witch’s cheeks grow warm under such courteous attention. “Yes sir, to the Ministry.” There is subtle hesitation of what sort of impression it might give for the Ambassador’s assistant to be seen walking with him. “I would very much appreciate for you to accompany me, but do you suppose it would be appropriate? It wouldn’t do for others to confuse my personal interests with Ambassador Troy’s endeavors as a diplomat. He has chosen to maintain strict neutrality, you see.”

Cassius arches an eyebrow at the mention of personal interests, but he leaves it unexplained for the time being. "My goal is Unity, Miss Diderot. I have no desire to limit whom I keep company with, no matter their political leanings…or those of their associates. Surely there is no harm in two Ministry employees walking together."

Rhyeline nods, accepting his judgment on the matter with a soft smile. “Of course. As ever, your words contain much wisdom.” Placing her hands upon the table, the delicate creature rises with great care. Upon standing, the girl pauses and closes her eyes for just a moment before looking to him once again.

Cassius leaves several coins on the table — more than enough to cover both of their meals and a generous tip. He offers his arm to her in a gentlemanly gesture to lead her out. "If I am wise, it is only because I have the sense to listen to those wiser than I."

Rhyeline notices as he pays for her meal and then as he offers out his arm to her, the gentle blush returns to her fair complexion. Biting her lower lip just a bit, she draws close and slips her hand into the crook of his arm. After letting it rest there a moment, she peeks up at him, cheeks still rather warm. “May I tell my father, perhaps, that you enjoyed his article? I am sure it would please him to know.” At the door, the host helps her on with her warm rain cloak once again and as she and the Barrister step out into the rain, the girl keeps rather close. Though gaze remains lowered for the most part, as their conversation continues she keeps peeking up at him, drinking in his every word.

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