(1937-12-27) Unspoken Secrets
Details for Unspoken Secrets
Summary: Rhyeline is invited to attend a private dinner at Cassius Malfoy's manor. Over dinner, the two discuss the Unity Movement, Rhyeline's curse, and employment opportunities…with a healthy dose of Legilimency to gauge Rhyeline's true reactions.
Date: Thursday, December 27, 1937
Location: Berylwood
Related: The Mouse's Choice

It is a winter night. The weather is cool and snowing.

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, a music room, 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 not as extravagant on the inside.

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

The following letter arrived by owl post the previous day.

Dear Miss Diderot,

I have found our happenstance encounters to be most delightful. You are a wonderful conversational companion, and a charming presence. I would like to invite you to attend a private dinner with me at my estate tomorrow evening. If this is agreeable to you, send an address with your reply, and I shall have transportation sent to you.

I am looking forward to hearing back from you.

Cassius Malfoy

A note penned in Rhyeline's delicate, careful handwriting arrives late in the evening of the previous day. It says that she would be honored to attend and she includes her address in the Lambeth borough of London.

Tonight she wears a classic 1930’s slip dress of white silk beneath a heavy winter cloak. For once she wears her dark hair loose, her curls reaching just to her shoulders. Emerging from the horse drawn coach, a subtle blush already warms her fair features. Hands clasped behind her back, she follows as the coachman escorts her to the door where the house-elf answers.

The door swings open, seemingly of its own accord. A house elf with angular features bows on the other side. "Master Cassius Malfoy welcomes Miss Rhyeline Diderot to Berylwood." The reception hall opens up immediately into a much larger room, suitable for balls and parties. Standing at the foot of the grand staircase is Cassius himself, sharply dressed in a dark green suit with snakeskin patterns that only appear when the light strikes the fabric just right. At Rhyeline's appearance, he steps closer, putting a hand to his breast in awe. "Miss Diderot, you take my breath away. You look absolutely beautiful."

Rhyeline nods to the house-elf with the respect she would show any of Cassius’ possessions. Catching sight of Cassius, the butterflies in her belly flutter anxiously. The girl bows her head and dips into a graceful curtsy. “Good evening, Mr. Malfoy. Thank you for inviting me to your home. It is magnificent.”

Cassius smiles warmly, bowing his head. "I'm glad you like it. I do enjoy having guests. Come, let me take that for you." He steps around her, gently laying his hands on her shoulders, if she permits it, to take her cloak.

Keeping her head bowed, Rhyeline peeks up at the man as he approaches. Though her blush deepens at his touch, she remains still beneath it. Beneath the cloak, she wears no further adornment save for her dress, silk stockings and her little white shoes. “Thank you,” she murmurs. The cut of the dress over her slight figure, and the cautious innocence of her stare make her seem younger than she is as she gazes up at him.

Cassius removes the cloak, folding it over once and setting it on a table in the entry hall. Only then does he direct his house-elf toward it, never handing it directly to the little Being. He reappears at Rhyeline's aside, and offers his arm. "Dinner is ready for us. May I escort you?"

Rhyeline slips her hand into the crook of his arm. A soft smile touches her lips as she nods. “Of course.” Keeping close as she has whenever he has escorted her in such a courtly manner, her dark gaze drifts across the grandeur of his home, taking it in with a quiet awe.

Cassius gestures as they walk to a large set of double-doors. "Through there is the dining hall. But as it is just the two of us, I thought would could take our meal in the breakfast room. It's a bit more personal." The breakfast could be the dining room of most large houses. It could easily seat twelve, though only two place settings are arranged — one at the head of the table, and one directly beside it. It is the latter seat that Cassius pulls out for Rhyeline. "I wasn't sure what you liked, so I had the chef prepare a variety." Indeed, the table is littered with far more dishes than the two of them could possibly consume, in a wide array of styles and flavours.

Rhyeline’s gaze widens in surprise as he leads her into the room with such a magnificent feast laid out upon the table. Though the little one has certainly attended her fair share of feasts as the ambassador’s shadow, she seems quite taken with the spread, looking particularly to the seafood. At the offered chair, she places her fingertips upon the table to steady herself as she lowers herself down. Smiling up at him, she says, “It looks delicious. Thank you.”

"I'll pass your compliments to the chef. He takes great pride in his work. So he rather enjoys when I have company. I was quite fortunate to acquire his services." Cassius seats himself, gesturing to the platters to direct another servant, this one human, to steps up and present the dishes, serving up whatever Rhyeline desires. "I recently discovered that we have a mutual acquaintance. Mrs. Melania Black?"

Looking to the food, Rhyeline accepts modest portions of a variety of seafood, including a few French delicacies specially prepared for her. The little one blinks at the mention of Melania Black. Lifting her gaze from the offered dishes to Cassius’ features, she watches him a moment before nodding. “Yes, sir. She is acquainted with my mother and has been very kind to me.”

Cassius nods, directing the servant to fill his own plate with a thin slice of some sort of steak, a generous helping of vegetables, and a bowl of soup. "She mentioned that the two of you were recently acquainted. You'll not find a better friend than her. She is fiercely protective of those she takes under her wing. Rather like a mother tiger. And please, there is no need for such formality. Call me Cassius."

Rhyeline’s cheeks warm, and with a small nod, she murmurs, “Cassius. Then please, call me Rhyeline.” Lowering her gaze, she starts to eat with a small bite. After this pause, she takes up the earlier thread once more, “Perhaps with my mother so far, living in Paris, that is why she has been so kind. And I see her often when she goes to visit her dear friend, the owner of Fox's Treatises and Rarities. It is one of my favorite shops.”

Cassius dips his head in recognition. "I've been to that shop once. Charming place. I shall have to properly introduce myself to the proprietress, if she is dear to Melania. So, France? I believe Melania mentioned that your family was French. We Malfoys can trace our lineage back to France as well, you know. Though more distantly, these days. I take it that Melania and your mother are acquainted, then?"

Rhyeline nods. “Mm. Yes. When my mother came to visit me here in London, she stopped by her Apothecary to request that she create a gift for me that would n- that- that would be careful because- because I am sensitive to most potions.” Lowering her gaze, she takes a small sip of wine. “But yes, my family is French for the most part. My mother was born there and lives there now, but my father was born here in England.”

Cassius tilts his head, swallowing a mouthful. "Sensitive to potions? Would I be prying to ask about that? Please forgive me. I can be insatiably curious…and you intrigue me." He smiles unapologetically, his pale jade green eyes sparkling with interest.

Rhyeline flushes just a bit as the man expresses such interest, but despite her shyness, she peeks up at him and nods. “Well, you see- I- well, I was caught be a curse during my time in Berlin. The healers use potions to keep the effects of the curst from affecting me too much. The potions are quite powerful and complex though, and- and any spells or alchemical components in cosmetics might cause problems.”

Cassius frowns sympathetically at the news. "A curse? My word…what sort of vile person would curse you?" His hand slides over the table toward her — not invading her space, but a gesture of reaching out. "I trust that the Ministry has seen to your medical needs?"

Rhyeline’s gaze flickers to his hand. The shy creature keeps her own hand in her lap while the other holds her fork. “It- it was a curse meant for Ambassador Troy. Agents in Berlin did not care for the impetus of his efforts. But yes, the ambassador made certain I was well cared for and the Ministry saw to it that my medical expenses were taken care of.”

Cassius leans back, furrowing his brow. Though he keeps his hand resting on the table between them. "Meant for the Ambassador? Was it…poorly aimed, or…?"

Rhyeline is silent for a moment. The exact circumstances of how she came to be hit by the curse aren’t something she has shared with very many people. In a rather soft tone, she says, “I hadn’t been noticed.”

Cassius arches an eyebrow, letting his puzzlement show. "Hadn't been noticed? I could take that several ways. Rhyeline," he places subtle emphasis on his use of her given name, "Did you take the curse for him on purpose?"

Head bowed, Rhyeline lifts her gaze at the deliberate use of her name. Her silence betrays her answer before she can speak, though when she does, she nods and murmurs, “Had he died, the negotiations would have died with him. Too many lives depended on his success. Though-“ she lowers her eyes to the glass of wine in her hand “-after that they broke down anyway. The Ministry took him out of Berlin.”

Cassius lifts his own glass of wine, sipping to give pause to think. "So, you were protecting his mission more than you were protecting the man himself." It is more a statement than a question. "Your devotion to the cause is admirable. What of Ambassador Troy? Would you have thrown yourself in the curse's path to defend him otherwise?"

“Had he not been tasked with preventing the coming storm? Keeping the death and destruction of the Great War from happening a second time?” Rhyeline hesitates, unsure of how he might think of her after this, but her answer comes with a cautious honesty. “No. In the moment when I saw the assailant approaching from the shadows, when my voice failed, all I could think of what protecting the negotiations. I did not consider my own life or his.”

Cassius nods solemnly. "You are a brave woman. You have my utmost respect. The safety and future of this world is more important than any one man or woman." What might he think of her? Apparently she has only risen in his esteem. "I pray that those in the Unity Movement will come to see it the same way. The cause is everything." He gazes at her with a kind of quiet awe. "Every time we meet, I find myself more impressed with you, Rhyeline."

Rhyeline lowers her gaze at the sight of such awe. Her normally pale complexion, a result of her curse, leaves the warm blush in her cheeks all the more noticeable. “You honor me, sir. But please. It is not necessary to say such things. With such an impending storm, what else was I to do?”

Cassius digs into his meal with renewed vigor, a broad smile clinging to his lips. "I agree completely. I cannot look at the state of the world and simply accept that it must be this way. I have the power to effect change, therefore I have the responsibility to do something with it."

Rhyeline nods before peeking back up at him. “I knew I would never do as you do, raise my voice to call the attention of the masses, wandering lost and distracted by their own lives. I cannot stand tall as guiding light. But. I felt my responsibility still remained. I found other ways to serve.”

"We all have our callings, and yours is in no way lesser than my own," Cassius assures her. "I pray you'll forgive me if I selfishly hope that you might lend that passion of yours to the cause I hold dear. After all, one of my chief aims is the same as your Ambassador's was: to avert war."

Rhyeline nods. “The unity between muggles and wizards is a noble cause, as long as it is brought about with great care. A sudden revelation would only exacerbate the problems broiling within muggle society. Both muggles and wizarding folk hold a great many prejudices that will bring about greater conflict. But as you have said, it is your intent to educate and to bring about a peaceful re-unification of our broken world.”

Taking a small sip of wine, Rhyeline gazes at him with a dark, steady stare before adding, “For the last hundred years the world has been in such a state of upheaval, of growth and interconnectedness that would never have been imaginable before. Already the old forms in the muggle world are breaking down. As new social institutions are built, we should take the opportunity to join them. The time seems ripe for a change of such magnitude. ”

Cassius nods vehemently. "Exactly. The moment is there for the seizing. The opposition has no faith in the Muggles. But I am confident that when their leadership reveals that we had a hand in preventing disaster, they will learn to accept us." He lets out a long, steady breath, gazing at her. "Does this mean that you support Unity? Forgive me, I had not meant for this dinner to be a political discussion. But we are both passionate when it comes to these matters."

“Political discussions, conversations of ideals and great doings- this to me is much preferable to the mindless chatter and gossip most conversations consist of,” murmurs Rhyeline with a soft, shy smile. Such a little mouse, surely if another had been present, she would have been much quieter, and had all the empty places at the table been filled, she would have been entirely silent. But in this moment, her mind and her hidden strength has been able to shine through. “Though I cannot stand as a flag bearer, I believe that this particular cause could bring about great positive change. It is a risk, of course, but all great endeavors include risk.” And this little mouse has demonstrated in her desire to serve in Berlin that she does not shy away from danger or risk.

"A risk worth taking, if for no other reason than the risks of doing nothing are far greater." Cassius sighs softly. "More and more I lament that you are bound to Ambassador Troy. I could use someone like you aiding me."

Rhyeline blinks, looking a bit surprised. Hesitating, she takes a small sip of wine. Then at last she murmurs, “I don’t understand. You wish I would serve you in your work as a Barrister for the Wizard High Court?”

Cassius shrugs, "I'm in need of a personal assistant. Someone to help manage my day-to-day affair, both in the Wizengamot and in my capacity as head of the Unity Movement. You seem to me to be particularly well-suited to the job. But I understand that you are devoted to your role as the Ambassador's aide."

Rhyeline nods slowly. “Yes, sir. The Ambassador was most kind to take me on when I had only just left Hogwarts. He even went without an assistant for four months, not replacing me, until I had recovered enough to leave St. Mungo’s.”

Cassius levels an even gaze at her, trying to catch her eyes. "And are you satisfied with your current arrangement?" He asks her in a soft, patient tone.

Rhyeline’s gaze is held by his, despite how it causes her shyness to deepen. With a subtle nod, she murmurs, “Yes, sir. I am quite content.”

Though Rhyeline’s features are smooth and clear, hidden beneath her calm exterior is a tangled mess of conflicting emotions. As she gazes up into Cassius’ piercing jade green stare, memories flicker in her mind, memories which cause her to answer as she does.

Well, isn't that interesting. As Cassius dives into her mind, he seems to pick up on a more personal connection with Magnus Troy. A thread of thought worth pursuing more deeply. But it's so much easier when the mind being explored can be provoked into following the thread itself. "Are you entirely certain? I want you to feel comfortable speaking openly with me, Rhyeline. I am not the sort of man to share the secrets of others. Before, you risked your life for Troy's mission. But that mission is over. So where, I wonder, does this loyalty stem from now?"

Rhyeline maintains perfect composure and once the fleeting memories have reminded her of what instills such loyalty, she composes her answer. "There is still much to do. Much that is needed. And I am needed. And the Ambassador has been very kind to me since I have recovered.”

Cassius watches her in silence for a moment, sorting through his thoughts (and hers). Finally, he nods in apparent assent. "You are needed. But are you sure you are serving where you are needed most? I do not know the details of the ambassador's work. But I know that you would be a great asset to what I consider the most important work there is. Though…I must admit that I am likely biased, as I personally enjoy your company. Still, that in no way invalidates your qualifications."

The girl takes in his words with keen attention. When he mentions, however, that he personally enjoys her company, a flock of butterflies takes flight in her belly. Overwhelmed by a sudden, intense shyness, the girl's blush deepens and she lowers her gaze. Biting her lower lip, she peeks back up at him. "The ambassador gave me a place, a way to serve. I owe him a great deal. You should speak with him if you wish me to be transferred."

Cassius shakes his head. "I respect your faithfulness. It isn't something I would want to damage, as it is a quality I would desire in an assistant. That said, I want someone that believes strongly in the cause. Someone that understands that it is more important than I am, personally. So, this would need to be your choice." His gaze grows more intense than ever, staring deeply into her dark orbs. "What do you want from me, Rhyeline? What do you want for yourself?"

Rhyeline's hands tighten in her lap as Cassius' gaze grows more intense. Her breath and pulse quickens. "What do I want? To be useful. To do meaningful things. There are many ways I can do such, I know and all is not yet lost in Europe. If the Ministry decides I am more needed at your side, I will accept, but until then I will remain where I am placed."

Cassius sighs with obvious disappointment. "The Ministry will never act on my behalf. I have called for the repealment of the Statute of Secrecy. I threaten the power of the Minister and her cronies. They will do nothing that helps my cause. I'm afraid that if you are waiting for the Ministry to decide for you, you and I are simply not destined to work together. A pity, that."

The knot of conflicted emotions tightens in her chest. But all this registers only in a subtle furrow of the girl's brow. Lowering her gaze, she takes a slow sip of wine, calming herself. "If a time comes when I am no longer needed at Ambassador Troy's side, then I would be honored to work with you. But until then, I made a commitment when I asked him to take me on as his assistant. However, this should not prevent me from assisting you as I can when I am not otherwise occupied with my duties."

Cassius nods slowly in deep consideration. "Of course. As I said, I find your dedication admirable. Were you to so easily leave the ambassador's service, you would clearly not be the loyal assistant I perceive you to be. Loyalty is something to take pride in, so long as the subject of that loyalty is worthy of it. But I have no cause to believe that Troy isn't worthy." Though he now has a great deal of cause to believe just that, and makes no effort to disguise his lie from her, knowing full well how observant she is.

Bowing her head, she murmurs, “Thank you. Until I find I am no longer needed at Ambassador Troy’s side, I must decline, but I am truly honored by your offer.”

Cassius latches right onto that. Time to see just where her thoughts will go when given license. "It would be tragic if things went poorly for Ambassador Troy at the trial. I mean, for your work. Without him, I imagine whatever it is he is doing could fall apart."

The little one bites her lower lip as she gazes up at Cassius. "He was acting in my defense. Unless there is a severe miscarriage of justice, it should not go wrong," she murmurs in a soft, small voice.

Cassius sighs, letting his concern show — though the concern is for her, not Magnus, but that much isn't readable on the man's face. "I've had some opportunity to review the case, Rhyeline. There is no question about his motives. It is the degree of his response that the prosecution will use against him. A Blasting Curse at close proximity is almost certainly lethal…and to use it in such confined quarters endangered all of you." He sighs, frowning. "Do not be so certain that the court will acquit him. At the very least, I would count on this going to trial. Given that Ursula Shacklebolt was brought in at the last minute, I would not be surprised if Troy had a highly-placed enemy in the Ministry that is trying to stack the deck against him." He shrugs, "That is merely speculation on my part. But I have long perceived the corruption within the Ministry, so it would not surprise me in the least."

Such words leave her looking scared, which only just reflects the terror keeping her frozen in her seat. Her voice is silenced and her thoughts are scattered. She parts her lips to speak, but she has not yet gathered her thoughts and her voice fails her. The little one looks so lost, so vulnerable in this moment.

Cassius sighs, picking up a napkin to wipe his mouth. "Do not be so disheartened. I am sure you will pass my words along to your master, and he will know what to do with them." He sits back in his seat, regarding her curiously. "I've made you uncomfortable. I apologize. This is the risk of veering away from small talk into such realms as politics. Pleasantries do serve a purpose."

“I have not seen much of him of late,” she murmurs finding her voice at last as her emotions calm. “Forgive me. I have been-rather worried over this. He was compelled to act with such violence on my account.” Biting her lower lip, she bows her head. “Your offer has been most kind. I am honored. But- you understand though why I cannot accept it right now.”

Cassius nods solemnly. "I understand completely. As I have said, I admire loyalty. I value it. It is little wonder to me that he values it as well. I just hope that he appreciates it…and earns it." Again, he is speaking to her with his tone, suggesting that he does not believe Troy has earned her loyalty. "A good master must honour loyal service."

Rhyeline nods and murmurs, “Ambassador Troy has been very kind to me. I am certain that my devotion to his work does not go overlooked.”

"Indeed," Cassius agrees. "Very kind, and I am grateful for what he has done for you. You certainly deserve it. I do hope I get the chance to meet him again soon. Unfortunately, right now it would be inappropriate, given the current legal situation. But please extend him my kindest regards." There is a growing distance in the way Cassius comports himself now, as he slips back into cool-yet-cordial habits. It would be hardly noticeable if not for the much friendlier manner he adopted earlier in the evening.

“I will when I see him next.” Lowering her gaze Rhyeline takes a slow sip of wine.

Cassius nods gratefully, "Thank you." The night continues on with the sort of pleasantries that Rhyeline expressed her disdain for. There is no more talk of politics, trials, or employment opportunities. Just a nice dinner between two conversation companions.

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