(1938-01-07) Kisses and Curses
Details for Kisses and Curses
Summary: Over breakfast, Annie and Rhyeline have a long conversation about the conflicted emotions resulting from a stolen kiss in Annie's heart and the curse dwelling within Rhyeline's own.
Date: Monday, January 07, 1938
Location: Rhyeline's Flat

It is a winter day. The weather is freezing and clear.

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 morning after their little adventure in Mungoland sees Annie busy in Rhyeline's cozy little kitchen. Being careful not to wake Rhye, she had to pop back to Hogsmeade to pick up a few things, but once she got back she immediately got busy making breakfast. The smells of bacon and fresh coffee are redolent in the air as Annie bustles around, planning to go wake Rhyeline in another few minutes. There is toast being kept warm by a handy little charm, bacon is nearly done frying in a pan, three kinds of jams are on the table, and scrambled eggs are also being kept warm in a bowl. The young witch hums a little as she works, one of the many Wolfgang Montague songs that are so prevalent on the wireless these days.

Rhyeline stumbles slowly down the stairs wearing a comfy-cozy robe over her night-slip. Following the sound of sizzling bacon and Annie’s sweet humming, the little one appears at the entrance to the kitchen, rubbing at her eyes a bit with the back of a curled hand. With her dark curls still in disarray and a warm, peaceful smile lingering upon her lips, the girl looks sleepy but well rested. “Good morning, my love,” she murmurs.

Annie is already dressed, but has sent an owl on ahead to let work know she'll be a bit late this morning. There's an apron wrapped around her to protect her flowered dress, and a scarf around her hair to keep it back as she cooks. With a spatula in one hand, she turns at the sound of the voice, a smile blooming as she sees a somewhat improved looking Rhyeline. Not out of the woods, but clearly whatever Healer O'Shea did last night seems to be helping. "Morning, poppet. Did yeh sleep well?"

Rhyeline nods, “Yes. Slept very well.” Drawing close to stand behind the woman, she wrap her arms around her waist. Nuzzling close against her neck, she says, “Thank you for staying with me. S’thanks to you I slept so well, I think. Alone, I always keep waking up, but not with you.”

There is no sign that Annie didn't sleep quite so well, and she doesn't offer the information, enjoying instead seeing Rhyeline looking a bit less peaked. Tilting her head back, Annie says softly, "I couldn't leave yeh last night, poppet, an' go back to Hogsmeade. So I'm glad yeh slept well." She turns just enough to brush a kiss to the other witch's cheek, then says softly, "Yeh go sit, an' I'll bring brekky over. The toast an' jams are already there."

The mention of returning to Hogsmede instead of to Tim’s home causes the little one to pause. But then Rhyeline rises to her tip-toes and tilts her cheek into the kiss. Nuzzling against her own cheek and brushing a gentle kiss to it, she nods and then turns, scampering off to the dining room. When Annie emerges from the kitchen, she will find the girl, seated at the table, waiting with a bright, eager smile for the absolutely delicious breakfast.

It's only another minute before Annie makes her spectacular entrance, levitating a plate for each of them. There's some bacon and eggs on each plate, and as she settles them onto the table she admonishes lightly, with a smile, "Now, no leaving the table until you've eaten everything. You need food for strength." She settles into the chair across from Rhyeline, draping her napkin across her lap despite still having the apron on. Some things are just habit. "Will you be alright today, love? I'm already going in late, I can stay if you think you'll need me."

Rhyeline smiles and giggles sheepishly at Annie’s gentle admonishment. Nodding, she murmurs, “I’ll be alright. I can still feel his spell. It’s making my heart beat strong and steady.” Taking a first bite of bacon, her eyes drift shut with such enjoyment. “Mmm… this is so, so good, Annie.” Peeking up at her she hesitates a moment. “My love? Before you go? Tell me. Why are you living in Hogsmede now?”

Annie nods to Rhyeline's encouraging words, and smiles at her reaction to the breakfast. "There's the best butcher in Camden Town. I still go shopping there whenever I make it up that way." Which is, actually, rather often. You can take the witch out of the city, and all that. As Rhyeline peeks up and asks her questions, Annie's attention focuses on her plate. "Let's not talk about that now, poppet," she says gently, and changes direction immediately, looking up with a smile. "An' didn't I tell yeh that Healer O'Shea is a kind man?"

Rhyeline’s brows furrow with concern. Ignoring the new question, she fixes her steady dark gaze on Annie’s features and says, “My love, what’s wrong? What has happened? I prefer not to speak of my curse to you, but I do, because you want to know, want to help me. I want to be there for you, my dearest friend. Tell me.”

Annie's eyes drop again, and she pushes her eggs around on her plate. For a change, Rhyeline is eating with more enthusiasm than Annie herself is. "It's…. so complicated, poppet. I care for Tim so much, but…" she falters again for words, then sighs and looks up. "Living like that, just didn't feel right. I know it's his tradition, but it's not mine, and I couldn't stop thinking what Mum and Da would have thought. They would not have understood, I'm sure of it."

“Still care for him. And he for you? It is only sharing his home before you are married that has changed?” Rhyeline keeps her gaze fixed steadily upon Annie’s own eyes, searching for the slightest sign of pain in her beloved friend’s heart. Woe be unto Tim should she find any.

The line of questioning drops Annie's eyes again, bringing another soft sigh. "I know he still cares. It was so hard, Rhye. But… I had to." She looks up and there is clearly pain in her eyes, but it's apparently not been caused by Tim. "I'm so confused." Her voice is soft and plaintive. "I don't know where my heart truly lies. And I can't be with him and have doubts, it's not fair to him."

Setting down her fork, Rhyeline rises from her place and moves to Annie’s side. The little one kneels and closes her eyes to wrap her arms around her dear friend’s waist. “Did the right thing. You need some time, some distance to make sense of things, to let the waters of your heart grow still. Can come and stay with me whenever you wish, for as long as you want if you are ever lonely, my love. Am always, always here for you.”

Annie's hand drops, gently petting Rhyeline's hair, seeking comfort as much as she knows it gives comfort to her friend. "Thank yeh, poppet," she says quietly. "That's just what I need t' do. Let the waters of my heart still. So I can see clearly." Indeed, there have been many ripples in those waters of late. "But I'll be fine. Yeh know I always am." There is a bit more strength in her voice, although she may not be quite convinced of her own words. "C'mon then, love, back at yer brekkie." A lean drops a kiss onto Rhye's hair before she encourages the woman back to her chair and her food.

Rhyeline’s embrace tightens just a bit, but after a moment, the little one acquiesces and returns to her seat. Nibbling slowly on her food, she watches Annie for a time. A soft smile comes to her lips and lowering her gaze to her food, she murmurs, “My parents never expressed much in the way of opinions regarding such things. Though, I suspect my father shared many other beds whenever he was away and my mother- well, she is French. Though she never spoke to me of such things, I don’t think living with someone before being married would have mattered much to her.”

Annie's eyes stay on her plate as she continues to push her food around, actually eating little. "I tried to rationalize it. Make it make sense. But in my heart I know they'd be disappointed in me." Her eyes lift quickly, mouth opening as if to say something, but Annie stops herself, snapping her jaw shut against whatever words were going to spill out. She clears her throat instead. When she speaks, it's clearly not whatever she stopped herself saying. "Have some more toast. Try the red currant jam."

Rhyeline shakes her head. “Tell me first. What were you going to say? Won’t eat another bite till you do.” Though a gentle smile touches her lips, her gaze is steady, fixed with quiet determination upon Annie’s own eyes as she simply waits.

Annie can't look into Rhyeline's eyes as she says softly, "Someone kissed me. An' I didn't stop him." The pain that saying this aloud causes her is clear, especially to Rhyeline. "I liked it, an' I feel like a terrible person." She stands suddenly, taking up her plate, her appetite entirely gone with this admission.

Rhyeline takes another bite of bacon, simply listening. Taking the crispy strip of deliciousness with her, the little one rises. “Never will be you be a terrible person. Can’t help when your heart gets thrown into chaos. It simply happens. And now, you do the right thing by taking time to get some distance, to make sense of things.” Not the slightest hint of judgment even occurs to the little one, only steadfast acceptance and support.

Annie moves into the kitchen, scraping her eggs back into one pan and putting her uneaten bacon back into the other. Plate goes into the sink for now, and she turns to face Rhyeline. "I suppose," she says reluctantly. "At least being in Hogsmeade gives me distance from everything so I can sort this out." There is a pause, before she says, "I was thinking of taking a little trip. A wizard I met was talking about a beach and offered to take me there sometime. I've always loved being around the water." And, of course, she suspects absolutely no ulterior motives for the offer, putting it down as just the kindness of someone's heart.

Rhyeline tilts her head to the side a bit. “Are you speaking of Mr. Steele and his tour business? Could be good. Distance and some time to regain your peace should be helpful.” The little one draws closer with her intent stare fixed upon Annie’s eyes. “My love, don’t allow guilt to consume you. You feel you have made mistakes. But mistakes are to be learned from, not to destroy us. A child falls many times before learning to walk. S’the only way and to be expected.”

The mention of a tour business brings a faint smile to Annie's lips. "He's starting a business then?" She hadn't realized that he had taken her casual suggestion to heart, and it somewhat lightens her spirit to think she did something good. She holds Rhyeline's gaze, not shifting her eyes despite it's intensity, but she shakes her head gently. "Mistakes that hurt others… those are very different."

Rhyeline slips her hands into her pockets. Lowering her gaze, she nods a bit and murmurs, “Different, yes. Gave someone a wrong book, there is no need for guilt. But to be lost and confused and accidently hurt someone, it is still a mistake. Didn’t do it on purpose, Annie. Didn’t sit down and carefully decide to do it. Simply happened.” Her gaze lifts once more. “Guilt comes unbidden. But you are doing the right thing, taking some time, getting some distance. You are learning from your mistake. Will not make it again. There is no need to punish yourself further once the lesson is learned, my love.”

Annie isn't ready to see this and forgive herself yet, but she may over time. Again, she attempts to change the subject, more firmly this time, as she takes Rhyeline gently by the arm and leads her back to the table. "An' tell me now, poppet, are yeh feelin' any better about Healer O'Shea?" She sees that Rhyeline sits to finish her meal, returning to her own seat to look across the table at her best friend.

This time, Rhyeline allows her friend to steer her and the conversation back to the table and on to different topics. Taking another bite of bacon, the little one nods and says, “A bit. It isn’t of him that I am scared of. It is what he might tell me or do. And St. Mungo’s-“ The little one pauses and averts her eyes. “I feel such cold dread there. Can’t help it.”

Annie rests her elbows on the table, propping her chin on her hands. "I'm happy it's not him directly, then. He's grand." There's a certain tone to her voice; clearly Annie has something of an affinity toward older gingers. This time it sounds something akin to a hero worship. He's going to make her friend well, after all, she has no doubt. But her frown is close in coming, and she nods, understanding. "Lightening doesn't strike twice in the same place, poppet. I suppose there's been so much bad at Mungo's that we're due for some good, don't yeh think?"

“Lightning doesn’t strike twice, but then again, third time’s a charm. Twice terrible things have happened there, but I’ve survived them. The third time-“ Rhyeline stops and bites her lower lip. Peeking up at Annie, her gaze seems scared and haunted.

Annie reaches across the table for Rhyeline's hand, her voice soft and reassuring. "Poppet, if yer strong enough t' keep fightin' this curse, there isn't a thing in Mungo's that'll do yeh in. Yeh may be havin' yer ups and downs, but yer still here an' that is as much up to you as the magic."

Rhyeline bites her lower lip and lowers her gaze. “I am still here. But I heard the nurses talking when they thought I was asleep. I’m not expected to last long, even though they have managed to stabilize me for now. Healer O’Shea himself said that more tests are needed because unless they figure out a way to cure this, the treatments won’t work forever.”

Annie's frown deepens. "And what do nurses know? Not as much as the healers do, and I'm sure not one tiny little bit as much as Healer O'Shea does. He will figure it out." If she knew what nurses said that, they would surely get a bit of Annie in their face. She'll be watching the nurses on their visits, oh yes she will. "He's going t' do tests an' figure this out, an' yeh'll be right as rain. Yeh'll see." Still, she sounds supremely confident in Healer Dreamy McGinger.

Rhyeline peeks up at her friend and can’t help but smile softly at her friend’s confidence. “Thank you Annie. I won’t give up fighting this as long as he does. Ambassador Troy told me that the healers said he wouldn’t have survived as I have. The curse hit me by mistake, perhaps I have a chance that he didn’t.”

Mention of Ambassador Troy brings to mind some questions that Annie has about Rhyeline's work, but thought of work makes her remember that she has work to get to herself. There's disappointment in her tone as she sighs softly. "I suppose I ought t' get t' work before the day is done. I'm goin' t' Camden after, t' spend some time with Digger. Would yeh like me t' check by after?"

Rhyeline smiles with such warmth. “I always love to see you, Annie. But I’m not sure how late work will keep me tonight. You are welcome to pop by and stay with me again though. Mm, but if you do, you should apparate inside. There are wards on the entrances, but they haven’t had a chance to set up apparition wards yet.”

Annie nods, "I'll do then and come straight t' the foyer." Another soft sigh comes. "Digger's girlfriend broke his heart, did I tell yeh that? I've been t' see him a few times, tryin' t' help him bring himself back t'gether." Perhaps that's who gave her the kiss she didn't resist? She doesn't mention, but goes on, "It's been nice, bein' back in Camden Town, visitin' with his family. Sort of like comin' home again."

Rhyeline nods a bit with a soft smile. “Should go where you feel so at home. Am sorry to hear his heart is hurting so much, but I am sure you will be able to soothe it as you do mine. I hope that you have a wonderful day, my love. I look forward to seeing you tonight. You will stay again with me? Yes?” The little one peeks up at her hopefully with such pleading kitten eyes.

Standing with a smile, Annie nods, her hands moving to untie the apron and pull it off. "Aye, I will, poppet, so I can see yeh get another good night's sleep." She folds the apron over the back of her chair, smoothing her dress out briskly. "Shall I bring by something from the chippy?" Her favorite one is just up in Camden Town, as Rhyeline knows.

Rhyeline giggles but shakes her head. “No thank you, my love. I’ll probably eat before coming home. But I look forward to seeing you. I feel much better when you’re close. Please have a wonderful day and send my greetings to Digger. I hope things improve for him soon.”

Annie steps over to brush a soft kiss to Rhyeline's hair. "I'll just take care of the mess in the kitchen, and then pop off to work. You," she says, mock sternly, "finish your breakfast, young lady." She even enunciates the 'you' instead of lazily saying it as she normally does. With that, Annie heads into the kitchen to put away what she herself didn't eat (she's not being hypocritical!), charm the dishes clean, and then apparate away nearer the library to start her day.

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