(1937-12-28) A Friendship Reaffirmed
Details for A Friendship Reaffirmed
Summary: Annie comes to visit Rhyeline, and realizes how much the girl has been keeping from her about the curse. Bonds of friendship are strengthened as Annie doesn't allow Rhyeline to push her away, to fall back into old habits as she tried to so many times at Hogwarts. Annie makes Rhyeline promise to listen to the healers and to let her come with as often as possible when she goes in for check-ups. That should make Keenan's life a lot easier.
Date: Thursday, December 27, 1937
Location: Rhyeline's Flat

It is a winter morning. The weather is cold and flurrying.

Rhyeline’s Flat – Lambeth – London

A door with stained glass window panels reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright's water lilies distinguishes this red-brick flat from the others on either side.

The mudroom opens onto a foyer with stairs leading to a second floor. A long hallway runs alongside the stairs through to the back door. The foyer opens to the right onto the parlor with an adjoining dining room. From the dining room, the kitchen hides tucked into the back of the house. Upstairs, a master bedroom and a guest bedroom allow for guests or even a flat mate. Outside behind the flat, surrounded by tall brick walls, sits a small garden.

The scent of an ever crackling fireplace intermingles with that of brewing coffee and the pure white roses in the bay window facing the street. Gentle lighting lends the flat a warm and cozy atmosphere.

In preparation for her dear friend’s visit, Rhyeline has laid out a spread of little cakes and sandwiches upon the coffee table, along with a most exquisite Turkish coffee service. The girl wears a pale rose slip dress. Standing before the hearth, her hands clasped behind her back, the little one stares with a glazed, unseeing gaze into the flames, lost in thought as she waits for her friend to arrive.

Always more prone to the muggle ways she was born into than the wizarding ways she had to learn, Annie arrives in the fashion Rhyeline would undoubtedly expect, stepping up and ringing the doorbell. She's bundled up against the night chill in coat and boots, but doesn't look the least bit put out by the cold. Her cheeks are pink, eyes are bright, and she hops around a little to keep warm as she waits for Rhye.

Turning, Rhyeline emerges out into the mudroom to draw the door open for Annie. With a soft, warm smile, the girl gazes up at her and murmurs, “Good evening, my love. Please, please come in. It has been too long.”

Stepping in at the invitation, Annie doesn't even bother to take her coat off first, drawing Rhye into a warm hug. "It has been, poppet. Alright?" Stepping back, Annie then removes her coat and steps out of her boots, comfortable with padding around in wool stockings rather than trail anything into her friend's home.

Rhyeline seems more delicate and slight than ever. The embrace catches her a bit off guard, but she soon returns it, nuzzling close. “Yes, all is well. Please. Tell me of your trip to Africa. Are- are you feeling better?” With such a keen, dark stare, she watches her friend carefully, taking in the hidden subtleties of her manner.

Talking while she's tugging her boots off, Annie doesn't quite look up. "Oh, Africa was lovely. Lots of animals." Straightening, she quickly brushes her skirt to straighten it. "I'm well, ta." She peers more closely at her friend, returning the volley, "An yeh? Lookin' a little peaky, poppet."

Rhyeline notices that something isn’t right with her friend, but she does not press her yet. Instead, she finishes helping her friend out of her winter clothes before taking her arm. Hugging it a bit, she smiles up at her and begins to lead her into the parlor. “I’m alright. A new healer has become involved in seeking a cure and he has decided soon to start- mm- more aggressive treatment.”

Annie moves easily as she's led, comfortable with Rhye as she is with few others. News of another healer draws a curious lift of her brows. "A new healer? Tell me about them? Do they seem nice? If they aren't nice, I'll have t' put 'em in their place." The words are light and affectionate, but as has been proven, not just so many words.

Rhyeline laughs softly and nods. “Yes, he seems nice. Patient. And perceptive. I wish I didn’t have to go so often now to St. Mungo’s, but- well- he made it clear how important it was. His name is Healer Keenan O’Shea, if you should ever meet him.”

Blue eyes widen as the name is given. "I've met him!" Annie says excitedly. "He was mindin' the apothecary in Diagon for his sister. Not that fancy one, the one that's more homey, got that name I can't say." Her excitement turns to concern at news of the visits and Annie gives Rhye's arm a squeeze. "Yeh know if yeh ever want company, poppet, I'll go with yeh."

Rhyeline smiles up at her friend with such warmth, but shakes her head. “Thank you, my love. It’s alright though. Please. Tell me, did you receive my Christmas gift alright? I hope- hope it will be useful.”

A frown flickers across Annie's face at the rebuff, but mention of the gift reminds her, "Cor! I forgot yer gift, one sec." With that she's back out to the front hall to retrieve a mid-size package from the charmed pocket of her coat. She returns almost before she went, offering the box out to Rhyeline. Instead of Christmas wrapping, it's wrapped in simple paper with tribal designs drawn onto it. "Happy Christmas, poppet! I didn't want t' just send it, I wanted t' bring it by myself."

Rhyeline blinks in surprise when Annie suddenly remembers her own gift. But then as her friend heads off to find it, she rests back in the armchair she has seated herself in, relieved to have distracted her attention. Having been warned in her last encounter with healers that if she does not receive further treatments, she will die- these are not things she wishes for Annie to be present for.
The tribal designs upon the paper draw Rhyeline’s curiosity. Sitting forward, she accepts the gift with such bright curiosity in her dark gaze and with great care, she pulls back the wrapping.

The box beneath the paper is wooden, held closed with a hook and eye catch. When Rhyeline opens the lid on it's hinges, she will see a tribal mask nestled on a bed of butterfly shaped leaves from the indigenous Mopane tree. Instead of green, the leaves bear the bright colors of autumn. The mask itself is about a foot from top to bottom. The wood is carved into the shape of a crocodile, head downward, jaws open. On the crock's back is a face, and the animal's tail forms a loop at the 'top' of the sculpture.

"I know it's not very pretty," Annie hastens to say, "But it's a mask of protection. They believe the crocodile represents evil spirits, but it's to scare them away because it's a badder spirit than most. See how it's jaws are open?" She demonstrates it's fierceness, "Grrrr." Ahem. "The face on it's back it just t' scare other spirits more. An' the loop of the tail, how it's closed? That means 'complete protection'."


Rhyeline’s eyes widen with such fascination at the strange, exotic artifact. Looking to Annie, a smile illumines her snow-white features. At the demonstration, she brings a hand up to hide her smile as an impish giggle escapes her. Setting the gift down with great care, she pushes herself up to stand and draws close. The little one’s embrace is rather tight. “Oh Annie. You are so wonderful. Thank you. The fiercest spirit of all to protect me. I hope very much that it does. Thank you so much.”

Annie brushes a kiss to Rhyeline's cheek. "Well, I can't be around all the time, poppet." Especially if she's not allowed to be. She moves to sit again, smoothing her skirt. "An' how was yer Christmas?"

“Pleasant. My father invited me to visit him,” murmurs Rhyeline with a soft smile. “It was nice.” The girl moves to serve Annie cakes and coffee. Once she has sat back down, she rests back in the comfortable armchair and takes a slow sip of her own little cup of Turkish coffee. Quite strong, but she seems to enjoy it. “He gave me the most wonderful set of books. And my mother sent me a pearl necklace.”

Annie watches Rhye as she pours coffee and she takes a little cake and puts it on her little plate. "This reminds me of when I used t' have tea parties with Molly," she says with a fond smile, recalling one of her childhood muggle friends. She lifts her cup to take a sip and is reminded instantly that this is no tea party by the strong Turkish blend. Although she strives always to be polite, she cannot help the expression on her face as it turns from placid to a pinched grimace. She laughs as she puts the cup back down, the fondness back and directed at Rhye. "I never will understand how yeh can drink that."

Rhyeline giggles with a bright impishness at her friend’s reaction to the coffee. “Keeps my heart beating strong. And I like the taste. Bitterness can be good once you get used to it. Put more sugar though, that should help.” After a slow, silent sip of her own coffee, gazing over at Annie carefully, the little one murmurs at last, “How are you, my love?”

Following the instruction, Annie puts more sugar in the coffee. A lot more sugar. And cream. And finally it's sweet enough that she can drink it. Her eyes lift to Rhyeline before her head comes up. "I'm fine. What books did yer da give yeh? Something fun t' read, or something stodgy?"

“Annie…” murmurs the little one, not allowing herself to be distracted this time. Her dark gaze remains steady as she watches her friend.

With her attention back on the little cake on her plate, Annie brings it up for a delicate bite. She could likely pop the whole thing into her mouth, but she does prefer to have more than one taste of it. She settles back into her chair, looking to Rhyeline questioningly.

“Haven’t heard from you in so long. And you seemed so troubled when I last saw you,” Rhyeline says rather quietly as she gazes at Annie. “There is no need to hide things from me, my love.”

Wiggling her toes in her wooly socks, Annie shakes her head slightly, eyes steady on Rhyeline. "Everything is fine, poppet. The trip helped a lot. It was nice to be out of town. Helped with forgettin' about some things." Not everything, but hey, even a vacation isn't perfect.

“What things, my love?” murmurs the girl, her stare unwavering. It doesn’t seem as if the girl is going to let the matter rest.

Annie holds her friend's eyes for a moment longer before looking away, leaning forward for her little plate with half a little cake. "Mungo's things," she says simply. Again she settles back, eyes lifting. "Why won't yeh let me go with yeh, poppet?"

Rhyeline remains silent at the mention of St. Mungo’s. The little one herself hasn’t quite gotten over what happened either, though she doesn’t let her affect it much in her day to day life. After taking a small sip of Turkish coffee, she murmurs, “It would be very dull for you, I’m sure. He said I’d need to make more frequent visits, staying for at least a few hours.”

"An' how dull would it be for yeh t' be there alone?" Annie wonders aloud. "An' with no one t' keep yeh company." Her tone takes on a certain quality that she only uses at special times. Times like these when Rhyeline is pushing her away.

Rhyeline is silent for a time. “Annie. I don’t like it there. And as pained as you have been by what happened, I know you must not like it any more than I. And. I don’t wish to subject you to such things.”

Annie waits Rhyeline out patiently until she speaks. Her frown doesn't deepen, but it doesn't go away. "An' what kinda friend am I," she asks quietly, "That can't be there when yeh need me?"

Rhyeline lifts her gaze. A subtle, hidden pain flickers within her eyes. “I don’t- don’t want you to have to witness such things Annie. I’d rather- rather our time together be full of happier things.”

"Friends aren't just about the happier things, poppet. Yeh know that." Annie's eyes hold Rhye's for a moment, then drop to the cup of coffee she's not touched again. "So, tell me yeh don't need yer Annie no more, an' I'll leave it off.”

Rhyeline’s brows furrow. “I didn’t mean that, my love. I will always need you. I just…” Her voice trails off. Averting her gaze, she rests a bit deeper into her chair. “I know you would not hesitate to be there for me. But I don’t want you to get hurt.”

Hurt and a touch of anger mix on Annie's face. "An' not tellin' me yeh almost died didn't hurt? Yer still goin' for treatments, so yer clearly not over it. Are yeh still gonna die, poppet, an' yer not tellin' me. For my own good?"

Rhyeline slides a bit lower in her chair, looking like a scolded child. Peeking over at Annie, she bites her lower lip. “Annie, I- I didn’t- I don’t want to cause you pain. With you- I wanted to share happiness. I want only good things for you, my love.”

Slipping from her chair, Annie crosses to fold down in front of Rhyeline, sitting on the floor at the smaller woman's feet. "Life isn't only good things, poppet, yeh well know that." There are tears in her eyes, but they don't fall. "If yer gonna shut me out, then shut me out an' be done with it. But if I'm yer Annie, then I'm yer Annie always."

Rhyeline reaches and gently strokes Annie’s cheek. The tears in her beloved friend’s eyes cause the girl the deepest pain. “Oh my love. I didn’t mean to shut you out. I just- wanted to protect you. He said- he said it’s getting worse. That- that if I didn’t come more frequently, for more intense treatments-“ She doesn’t finish that statement.

As a friend for so long, Annie would feel well within her rights to be angry at having something so dire kept from her, especially in light of not being told Rhyeline was in hospital in the first place. But, if any of that anger bubbles, it's not shown. A tear spills from each eye, but there's no dramatics. "I may have only met him once, but I could tell Healer O'Shea is a good man. An' if he says that, then yeh do what he says Idelle Rhyeline Diderot." Uh oh. Full name. "An' yeh'll bloody well have me there with yeh whenever I can be."

Rhyeline bows her head and peeks up into her friend’s eyes with meek acceptance. Resting her hands in her lap as she slides down a bit more in her chair, she murmurs, “Alright Annie. I- I would be very much reassured if you were with me. I don’t- don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t been there that night when- when- you remember. And I didn’t mean to hurt you. Wanted to protect you. And- and once he told me what would happen if I didn’t agree to more treatments, I accepted. I did.”

Annie nods, not needing Rhyeline to go any more into 'that night'. "Aye, I remember, Rhye." Only too well. Despite the twin tracks down her cheeks, she gives a crooked smile. "Bloody right yeh accepted. An' if yer not good, an' listenin' t' him, I'll be doin' something about it. I know where t' find him." It's a threat, yes, and one she'll follow up on, but it comes from her heart.

Such words causes Rhyeline’s heart to swell with love for her friend. Setting her coffee aside, she slides down from her own chair and upon the soft, silk carpet, she hugs the woman tight, hiding against her. “I promise Annie. I promise to listen to him. And I won’t keep such things from you. I have to return in a few days. When I do, you will come with me.”

Annie holds Rhyeline close, gathered into the warmth and safety of her arms. "I'll be there for yeh, poppet, an' he'll make yeh well again. I know he will."

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