(1938-01-06) Trusting Alis
Details for Trusting Alis
Summary: Alis comes to Rhyeline's flat to let her know more advanced security measures will be required. However, it seems the greatest present danger comes from within the girl, rather than from without.
Date: Sunday, January 6, 1938
Location: Rhyeline's Flat
Related: Trusting Healer Keenan

It is a winter night. The weather is cold and overcast.

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.

The lamplights on the street leading to Rhyeline’s flat provide the only illumination on this starless night. All the lights in the windows have been extinguished save for one. In the parlor of the little one’s flat, the fireplace burns bright as do the lamps, filling the room with a warm, golden glow. It seems all the coffee has finally caught up to the little mouse. While waiting for Alis to arrive, she has fallen asleep in her arm chair, all curled up beneath a cozy blanket. A book lies open in her lap.

It's late enough that Alis arrives with the telltale crack of Apparation, though it's not nearly as loud as it would be for some. She doesn't waste time on the street, either, but moves unerringly to rap sharply on Rhyeline's door.

The characteristic crack of a witch’s arrival causes the girl to stir. At the knock on the door, Rhyeline opens her eyes and looks around in a bit of a lost daze, blinking sleepily. Rubbing at her eyes to clear away the lingering visions from her dreams, she slowly gets to her feet and heads for the door. When she opens it, the little one peeks up at Alis, looking obviously as if she had just woken from a nap. Her loose black curls are a bit messy and her eyes seem dreamy and distant. “Hello, Alis,” she murmurs with a soft, peaceful smile.

Alis is still dressed in the tailored suit-and-tie attire she wore while accompanying Cassius for most of the day, with a cloak thrown over it merely for the sake of appearances. "Hallo, Rhyeline." She tilts her head, studying the younger woman for a moment before stepping inside. "I'm sorry to have kept you. Were you napping?"

“A bit. Forgive me.” The girl draws close and assists Alis in removing her cloak with the utmost grace and care. “As always,” she murmurs, gazing at the woman’s attire with a soft smile. “You look dashing, Alis.” Clasping her hands behind her back, she steps towards the parlor and tilting her head to the side, she murmurs, “Care to sit? How are you?”

"There's nothing to forgive," Alis insists with a shake of her head. "This is a dreadful hour for a social call, but I've been busy keeping track of Cassius' schedule. Threat assessment, that sort of thing." At the Ministry. She moves toward the parlor, sighing. "I don't expect that to continue for much longer. A few more days ought to be enough to ensure that my presence in his company won't be questioned by anyone who ought to know better."

Rhyeline returns to the little nest she somehow made out of blankets in one of the armchairs close to the fireplace. Peering rather curiously at Alis, she murmurs, “Once your threat assessment is complete, that’s it? Not something you continuously do? And- and how are you ensuring that no one questions?”

"There's more to it than just threat assessment," Alis replies with a shake of her head. "And I ensure that there won't be any questions by maintaining a visible presence in his company. It's not as if my profession is a secret, after all. That's what most of the last few days has accomplished. He's reasonably secure at the Ministry without my presence, after all, but I'd just as soon not have to argue with someone in Law Enforcement if there's a crisis at some other venue."

Rhyeline nods with a soft smile. It still seems as if the girl hasn’t quite woken up. “Mmm. Don’t think any would challenge you. Am happy to see you again. The wards have been working perfectly. Hadn’t realized it before, but- but they make me feel safer. You are a wonderful protector.”

"Oh, you'd be surprised." Alis moves to settle, finally, in the other chair near the fireplace. "There are still some who are inclined to underestimate anyone who doesn't fit certain visual requirements. Which is useful, up to a certain point." She smiles again when Rhyeline mentions the wards. "I'm glad to hear you feel safer. Though I should probably mention that I've spoken to Cassius about you. He agrees with me that you should have more security measures than what's currently in place."

Rhyeline blinks hesitantly over at Alis. “He said that?” The little one sinks just a bit deeper into her chair. In a rather quiet voice, she murmurs, “Why do I need more? This is enough. I know when someone comes in that I don’t want.”

"Mm." Alis nods. "Provided you come to work for him, that is." She looks around the flat and gestures. "Wards to prevent Apparation, at the very least. That would ensure that any intruders would have to come through doors or windows."

“Aah. I see. So… “ Rhyeline draws up the blankets to hide behind them just a bit. “So he told you that I offered to work for him?”

"He did," Alis confirms. "He asked how well we were acquainted, and from there we discussed your security, though not the specifics."

Rhyeline slinks down in her chair until she is all curled up with her head upon the arm rest. Gazing up at Alis, in her softest voice yet, she murmurs, “He did such? Wasn’t sure if he would accept. Seems like he might. But- but what did you tell him? How- how well are we acquainted?”

"I keep no secrets from Cassius," Alis says quietly, her expression solemn. "Nor does he keep any from me. In the interest of candor, I told him that you and I are becoming better acquainted, and that I feel protective of you."

Rhyeline gazes at Alis in silence for a time. Snuggling down under the blanket, she peeks out at Alis and murmurs, “I have wondered a bit if- if this is what it feels like to have an older sister. Except- except I can keep secrets for you.” A soft smile. “Don’t have to lock me in my room.”

Alis laughs. "Don't tempt me." She loosens her tie, shaking her head. "I told Cassius that every time I see you, I'm practically visualizing a bullseye on your forehead. Which reminds me of him, back when we were children, though he wore a target for entirely different reasons."

Rhyeline can’t help but smile at the thought of Alis going to such lengths to keep her safe. But then listening, she gazes at Alis in silence. “He- because of his name? And me. Because- because of whom I am associated with?”

"Because of his name, and because even at age twelve he was getting himself in trouble with words." Alis smiles fondly at the memory, then considers Rhyeline. "Possibly. I'm still not entirely sure. Something about the way you carry yourself, it just makes me think of you as a target."

“I seem vulnerable? Attracts ones who would harm me?” Vulnerable is the way she looks now, all curled under the blanket and gazing over at Alis rather hesitantly.

"Just so." Alis favors Rhyeline with a sympathetic look. "Then I started talking to you and realized that you really would make a good target, if someone were so inclined."

Rhyeline blinks and her brows furrow hesitantly. "From speaking to me? Why? What do you mean?"

"Because, for all of your resilience, you still startle entirely too easily." Alis' explanation isn't as good as it should be, but she's never claimed to be particularly gifted with speech-making. "There are those who will see it as a weakness and seek to take advantage. By your own admission, you have little enough in the way of defenses against such things."

"And yet Cassius wants me for his assistant. I am resilient. In Berlin, many tried to use me to their advantage. More overlooked me entirely. Disregarded me as significant. Or underestimated me. I have learned to be strong despite- despite- myself."

"That doesn't make you any less of a target." Alis' voice is matter-of fact. "Though I find the resilience encouraging. I doubt I should feel quite so protective if you didn't also have that inner strength. Trying to protect people who have no interest in their own safety is, quite frankly, a tedious undertaking."

“I am very cautious. You said yourself that I startle easily.” Rhyeline shifts her dark gaze to the fire which has burned to a low, flickering flame. “At Hogwarts, I wanted just to hide behind the curtains of my bed and to spend my days studying. I am much better now- but it was because I realized I couldn’t spend my life hiding. I know the danger, but if I succumb to my desire to hide, I wouldn’t even be living. Especially now. I have been given this chance to live and I don’t want to waste it. Not by being reckless, but not by hiding either.”

"No, hiding is not living." Alis pauses, studying Rhyeline as the younger woman's precise phrasing processes. "Wait, what do you mean by given a chance?"

Rhyeline blinks. Normally she is so careful to not make little mistakes like that. But then, she still hasn’t completely woken up and around Alis, she doesn’t feel the same need to be so careful. Biting her lower lip, the little one simply remains silent in the hopes that the woman will not pursue a topic she clearly does not wish to speak of.

Alis, by contrast, is wide awake and not at all put off by silence. She leans forward in her chair until her elbows rest on her knees, which puts her at about eye level with the snuggled-down Rhyeline. "Rhye. Is there something we need to talk about?"

It is too late for Rhyeline to seem as if she isn’t hiding something. Biting her lower lip, she brings the blanket up just over her nose. Staring back up into Alis’ eyes with a slightly guarded look, she shakes her head in silence.

Alis studies her for another moment, and then she straightens, her own expression going neutral and equally guarded. "All right. That's fair. We don't know each other all that well, after all." She gets to her feet, then jerks her head toward the door. "Walk me out?"

Rhyeline bites her lower lip, pained by how Alis withdraws. However her own dark gaze soon mirrors Alis’ own. With a nod, the girl lowers her gaze and pushes herself up to sit. Hands upon the arm of the chair where her head had just been resting, the girl pauses, staring unseeingly at the ground. But Alis is waiting. Steeling her resolve, she pushes herself up to stand, but the moment she lets go of the arm chair, the little one sways and eyes fluttering shut, she begins to fall.

Alis has trained herself to react quickly to a wide variety of things. The way Rhyeline is staring at the floor before getting up doesn't escape her notice, and she tenses as the little one sways, poised in case… then the younger woman falls, and Alis moves, catching her with an arm around the shoulders and the other around the waist. If Rhyeline were any taller, or weighed any more than she does, Alis would probably never be able to manage it, but fortunately for both of them the younger witch is tinier than Alis.

Rhyeline weighs almost nothing. Though she seems to have fainted, she already begins to stir. Realizing she is in Alis’ arms, the little one looks as if she must be blushing, but not a hint of color touches her snow-white complexion. Closing her eyes, she places a hand on her head, but then on her heart. Finding herself rested back into her chair once more. She peeks up at Alis once more and bites her lower lip.

Physical training can only do so much when one is barely five feet tall and built like a dancer. It takes effort for Alis to keep Rhyeline off the ground, but she gets her back into the chair, which is less work than trying to lower her to the floor would have been. She brushes hair from the little one's face, then rests her hand against Rhyeline's forehead, mimicking a gesture her mother used to use to check for fever. In the process, she forgets to guard her expression, so the emotions are clearly visible on her features as they run through her thoughts: worry, concern, hurt, then back to concern. The question she finally gives voice to, however, is, "Does Cass know?"

At the sight of such emotions flickering across Alis’ features, the guarded look slowly fades from the little one’s eyes. Earlier, her attempt at causing the little one to fill with guilt seemed to only make the girl withdraw deeper behind her reserved manner, feeling she had pushed Alis away, that the woman didn’t care after all. But now the woman’s actions speak of the deepest caring. It leaves the little one seeming lost and confused. Hearing the question, Rhyeline lowers her gaze and after a moment, nods slowly. “Yes. I informed him. He knows everything. If he didn’t tell you, I didn’t need to.”

Alis frequently walks a very fine line, as professional boundaries are difficult to keep wholly separate from her feelings; she does not trust easily, but once that line is crossed there is very little in the way of reservation. It makes her quite loyal as bodyguards go, but the danger lies in caring too much. She does nothing by halves. She straightens, frowning. "Cassius has shared his secrets with me, but there are still others he keeps that are irrelevant to security and our relationship. Perhaps someday you will trust me enough to share it with me."

Rhyeline bites her lower lip, gazing up at Alis. “It isn’t- isn’t that I don’t trust you. I just- just don’t like to speak of it. Even to my dearest friend. I- I was in the hospital for four months. Didn’t tell her until I was about to be released. She thought I was still in Berlin. I didn’t- want to bring her pain. I thought I might die. I didn’t want her to watch me die slowly. Better to learn later I had fallen in Berlin once the years had grown between us.” Lowering her gaze, she folds her arms across her belly. “I don’t like people to know. Don’t want them to see me differently because of it.”

"That's what trust is, Rhye," Alis points out. She's blunt about it, but not unsympathetic. "Having faith that the people you've extended your trust to won't see you any differently. It has to work both ways, or it just doesn't work."

Rhyeline gazes up at Alis, searching her features. As the silence grows, the fireplace continues to crackle. At last, the young one slowly reaches out a hand for her and in the softest voice, she murmurs, “Will trust you. Will tell you.”

Not having put her guard back up, Alis is easy enough to read, the sympathy and concern and genuine caring in her eyes. She accepts the offered hand, but shakes her head. "Not now. Let's see about getting you to bed for some proper rest before you end up on the floor, hm?"

Rhyeline’s brows furrow just a bit, watching Alis cautiously. But the exhaustion she feels is palpable. Lowering her gaze, she clings a bit to the woman and placing her other hand on the arm rest of the chair, she tries to push herself up to stand. She barely gets more than an inch off the chair before she collapses back, panting weakly. For the first time, the little one looks scared. “Alis. I think- I think I need to go to St. Mungo’s.”

St. Mungo's Hospital – London

What appears to Muggles as an old abandoned store, to the Wizarding Eye it is actually St. Mungo's Hospital. In the middle of the room, behind a busy and paperwork filled desk sits the receptionist. Next to her is a little sign, painted on a cheerful little yellow board, that says, "Questions? Can't Talk? Can't remember why you're here? Never fear, the Welcome Witch is here." Behind her is a large sign that lists the various departments of the hospital with little arrows pointing people in the correct directions. The rest of the room is filled with comfortable looking waiting room chairs and little tables with magazines and newspapers both Muggle and Wizardly.

There is no question on Alis' part; she's been trained to act, in an emergency, and she does so now. Her wand is drawn, and she winds an arm around Rhyeline's waist again. "Brace yourself," she warns in a murmur, taking a moment to ensure she has the location fixed in her mind before Apparating them both to St. Mungo's… where she wastes no time whatsoever before calling for help.

Rhyeline’s eyes shine with fear as she clings to the fabric of Alis’ suit. The moment they arrive at St. Mungo’s though, the young one’s grip tightens like a cat being carried off to a bath. “Don’t like it here,” she whispers, almost squeaking just as Alis is calling for help. Closing her eyes, she hides against Alis, hiding from the approaching healers. Her claws- uh- nails, dig into the woman’s shoulder, clinging so very tight.

A couple of healers arrive immediately to try to help Alis, but the girl only holds on tighter, flinching away from them instinctively. “Miss Diderot,” says a motherly looking nurse in a gentle, patient tone. “We are here to help you.” She glances to her companion. “Fetch Healer O’Shea. He’s already gone home so find him there.”

At least Alis has the decency to turn her head so that her shout for help doesn't deafen the poor mouse. For a small person, Ali scan get quite a bit of volume when she wants to, and this situation certainly warrants it. Turning her attention back to Rhyeline, she murmurs, "Can't say as I blame you. I've no good memories of hospitals, to be sure." She refrains from pointing out that it was Rhyeline's idea to come here in the first place. Instead, she keeps her tone mild and soothing. "Rhye. They're here to help, and so am I, but you have to let them."

Rhyeline remains hiding against Alis, but finally allows the nurse to move to assist Alis in holding her up. The nurse tries to take her off Alis’ hands, but the young one continues to cling tight to the woman. Stubborn and silent, the girl also does her best to walk, but all her strength seems to have given out. Though her legs move, they cannot take any weight at all. As they walk, she whispers to Alis, “Please don’t tell Cassius.”

The extra pair of hands is helpful, because Alis' grip on Rhyeline wasn't really conducive to doing much in the way of moving. Alis still has her wand in hand when the nurse tries to pull Rhyeline from her, and fortunately the mouse misses the utterly dangerous expression that passes across the redhead's face. "I've got her, just lend a hand." Her voice is hard and cool as steel, and then she tucks the wand away so that she can better help get the younger woman settled. "I can't make that promise," she murmurs. "If he inquires as to where I've been, I won't keep it from him.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License