(1939-01-08) A Most Important Meeting
Details for A Most Important Meeting
Summary: Key supporters of the Unity Party meet to discuss the future course of the movement in the wake of the Sykes Gala attack.
Date: Wednesday, January 8, 1939
Location: Berylwood
Related: Holiday Horror, Weighing Options

Berylwood. The voluminous manor home of Cassius Malfoy, surrounded by snow-covered gardens filled with topiary trees in the shape of various serpents and dragons, has never been a center of Unity Party business. But today, for a most private meeting, key members of the party have been invited into Mr. Malfoy's personal abode. The council is convened in the library, where many comfortable armchairs have been arranged in a circle, each with a personal side table bearing tea and biscuits kept replenished by the Berylwood staff.

Cassius sits with his legs crossed, hands folded in his lap. A polished cane rests against the arm of his chair. "Welcome, friends. Thank you all for attending. This may very well be the most important meeting the Unity Party has ever had."

For her part, Rena Lee looks rather small in the large armchair she now occupies. The fairly petite redhead isn't exactly an overwhelming presence in the room, and she sits very quietly with her gloved hands folded primly in her lap. Large dark eyes fix on Cassius Malfoy as he speaks, but her expression stays quite passive for the moment. She never did get an opportunity to meet the man before, and she's possibly using this fleeting chance to study him from afar with caution.

The Sykes Estate was wonderful too, until not too recently. Now the hall was crumbled, the manor showing scars of the night that still burned into her memory. Jocunda is standing near the doorframe, lost in her thoughts - Wearing her flight leathers, but still absent her characteristic Oakshaft. Her arms are folded, one booted foot up against the wall, eyes down. Cassius is heard, surely, her gaze slowly wandering up to follow Malfoy.

Rhyeline sits with a large, leather-bound note book open in her lap and a black quill poised in mid-air at the top of the page. Head bowed, the little one peeks up at Cassius to her right when he speaks, addressing the gathering. The quill begins to dance across the parchment in her lap, making notes in neat, delicate handwriting.
Lowering her gaze once more, Rhyeline gives a small nod of agreement before murmuring, "We have long known that a storm was coming. We heard rumblings in the distance with the unrest in the muggle world… and the riots in Diagon Alley. But now… the storm has truly begun."

The young auror is running a bit late due to work it would seeem, but he'd not miss things no matter what he has do do (ahem) Graham moves into the library he will look about to those gathered he is in time to hear Cassius speak. He will move forward seeing Rena and tap her on the shoulder in greeting before he sits down next to her easily.

"The Storm?" Jocunda's voice is ripe with indignation. "This was a first strike. There was an /attack/." The dirty blonde-haired woman pushes off the wall lightly, her footfalls heavy. She can't rest on her laurels, this one. "They attacked /my home/. They attacked /you/." She separates a hand from her folded arms, to point at Cassius delicately. They… Un-named by her, as of yet, but with such venom from the normally moxie-licious Sykes.

Cassius lifts a hand to Jocunda, "Please, Miss Sykes…do sit. I have much to say."

Cassius takes a long, slow breath. Though dressed and groomed as crisply as ever, there is something drawn and thin about his appearance today. "As you all well know, the recent Sykes Gala was struck by horror," he gives a particular nod to Jocunda. "Murderous villains infiltrated the home, burned the family's hall, wielded Unforgivable Curses upon guests — myself included — and caused the deaths of Juliette Rousseau and Alanna Proudmore. This is the storm Miss Diderot refers to. This will undoubtedly unleash even more terror, both in retaliation, and by those who are of like mind with these assailants.
"I have no doubt that the Sykeses were targeted because of their strong support for Gellert Grindelwald. I shall speak frankly here. The Unity Party has avoided taking a stance on Grindelwald, because for so very long, Grindelwald's aims and methods were vague and uncertain. That changed when he published his manifesto. Since then, we have been struggling with how to approach the situation, as Grindelwald intends to rip away secrecy no matter what we do. These recent events, though, will force my hand. The press is demanding answers about where we stand on Grindelwald, and a decision must be made. I do not agree with his doctrine of domination. The Muggles will never accept rule by force. I have always sought a diplomatic path to unveiling our world. But that becomes less and less possible with ever act like this."

Despite being known for her outlandishly outspoken ways, Rena is staying very silent. She merely watches, allowing others to make their remarks and carefully weighing every word within the confines of her own mind. Seemingly, the only sign she gives of being alive at the moment is to quietly shift a little in her chair and tuck her feet neatly like a lady should. Of everyone in the room, she's the only Muggle-born, and as such, even with the protection of being a member of the movement, she may not find wholly welcoming ears when she does finally speak.

Graham sits fairly still though he'll shift a little in his chair mostly turning to look at those who speak including miss Sykes and Rhyeline who gets a small smile as she stands to speak showing her courage. He turns to Cassius as he speaks further turning to look at Rena next to him trying to read her look but he's still silent just taking in the information as it comes so that he will not miss anything when or if he replys.

"I'll stand." Jocunda states simply. She can't sit still. She listens still, her face darkening at the recollections of the Gala. "… This is what we're fighting for. Unification. So that witches and wizards like that are accepted? So that those they inherited these behaviours from can know about our world? Violent creatures, living in fear and ignorance." Jocunda scowls. "… I can't see a way forward now. The first blow has been struck. There will be realiation." At least she agrees partially with Cassius, right?

Cassius nods. "Yes, there will be retalition, and violence will beget more violence. I am as angry as anyone, Miss Sykes. Believe me when I tell you that there is no pain like being Cruciated. But were I to give in to my base instincts, I would surely cause far more harm than good for both worlds.
"As I see it," Cassius continues, "We have two general options ahead of us. First, we denounce Grindelwald and stay the course. We push for legislation that will lift the Statute of Secrecy in Britain, and pursue our goals toward education programs and a join operation between the Ministry of Magic and the Muggle government.
"Second, we can throw our support behind the Army of Truth. Mind you, I remain committed to a diplomatic solution. Our purpose in supporting Grindelwald would be to steer his movement away from violence, toward something more lasting, that will benefit the whole world in the long run."

Rhyeline bites her lower lip and keeps her head bowed when Jocunda responds to her words with such indignation. The quill flits across the pages of her notebook even faster, taking note of what is being said. A bit of the tension eases from her shoulders when Cassius speaks up, elaborating on what she'd meant. At the mention of Cassius' disagreement with the doctrine of domination, the little one peeks over at Rena and Graham. But then she lowers her gaze once concentrating on the quill taking notes in her lap.

And so it begins. Rena stirs in her seat and then sits forward, leather-gloves hands clutching the arms of the chair in which she sits.
"I seem to be one of the only people here who can speak for more than herself." She says somewhat timidly. Her voice wavers a bit at first, and her eyes are lowered. "Unlike many of you, I walk between two worlds already. Some of my closest friends are people on /the other side/." A pause, and finally, she looks up. "Although I agree in principle that there may be only two choices… I know men in both the army and air force - experienced, learned men who have given me a great deal to think about lately with regard to this situation."

Drawing a quieting breath, Rena raises her chin: "Europe has an ugly look in its eye. Things are growing more desperate with each passing week. Britain may be facing the devastating war that Grindelwald foretold, and as such, she needs all of her citizens to stand in solidarity… which we can't, as things stand now with the statute of secrecy in place. However, there is a chance that no matter how diplomatic you try to be with Muggles, they may simply turn on you and see you as Hitler sees the Jews in his country: The other among us."

"… I can see no other course. We've been lumped in with them anyway, and it seems the only way to try and lessen the bloodshed in the coming days." Jocunda is trying not to pace. But it's not working. Slow, heavy footfalls. Rena's point is acknowledged, "Then why risk giving them a hand to bite, Miss? When they are capable of doing /so much harm/? We know what muggles can do with their weapons, with their technology - Gas, that wounds like the most evil magic."

As Cassius begins to speak — the garden door opens to admit a green silk butterfly who has lately re-swathed herself in her grey cocoon of old.

The morning after the attack on her friends and family, and the cold-blooded torture of her adored younger brother, Edwarlinda Malfoy left her baby daughter in the nanny's care and showed up to the office for the first time in eight months. She went straight into a meeting with Commissioner Ogden (it came as a second shock to the poor man) and by the end of the day it was water-cooler gossip around the MLE that she was on the job again and would be leading the Aurors' investigation into the attack on the Sykes home. Back in, at the deep end. Headfirst. That's just how a Malfoy woman does things.

Eddie looks as though she hasn't slept since. Crumpled robes, platinum hair in a plain knot on the back of her head, lipstick worn down by contact with too many tea-cups and coffee-cups already today — and lines deeper than usual about the crystalline blue eyes with which she regards Cassius as though there were no one else in the room with them, no colleagues of hers, no Unity party hacks, no trusted old friends. She folds her arms across her chest, studying how he looks this afternoon as well as what he has to say, and till he falls silent remains standing still where she is rather than distract any attention from him.

And then — there's an empty chair on one side of him (naturally Rhyeline sits with her quill at his other hand) — and the occasional table next to it has been provisioned with pistachio nuts as well as tea and biscuits. She slips in between the other chairs as discreetly as a tall, stunning, curvaceous, exhausted Auror in high heels can slip, and sits down. "I'm sorry," she whispers to Cassius, as Rena rises to speak.

Cassius steeples his fingers, tapping his fingertips together. Edwarlinda's entrance is met with a warm smile that brings a blush of health to his weakened visage. "Miss Lee makes a fair point. Rejection by the Muggles has always been a risk. Had the Minister seen sense and supported our cause early on, we could have long since begun the gradual integration that would have diminished that risk. But now time is short. It may be that by the time we can safely reveal ourselves, Grindelwald will have already turned all of Mugglekind against wizards. As Miss Sykes points out, the Muggles' weapons make this a terribly dangerous position to be in. I am very open to alternative paths. But let me clear. Secrecy is not an option. Remaining cowering in the shadows, dodging Muggle bombs, is not a scenario I am willing to accept."

Rhyeline peeks over at Edwarlinda as the golden lioness that is Cassius Malfoy's sister joins them at last in the library. But at once, the little one glances back down to the notebook in her lap, taking notes as Rena and others speak up.

One of the auror's present he'll continue following a moment as the exchange of words. Graham will catch the look given but continues listening. He turns as Rena begins to speak taking in all of her words and processing them through before he'll turn as another responds. "It is a risk yes, so perhaps the risk versus the reward." he will say pausing a moment "The other side of the coin though, is that there is no chance not just muggles will feel Grindelwald if he breaks the secrecy of course the war will happen riding on his shoulders." he will pause at the newest arrival gets a nod. "I do not believe that guidance of those forces are an option the followers have already made clear the intentions they have. On that same note, I as many in my office are are already trying to find those attackers from the party." he will speak some, though he's made his stance well known to those who need to know it.

Jocunda had come here to step back. Cassius seems to have removed that necessity. "I won't claim that it's not distasteful." Jocunda states simply. "But it's the best course that is left. Action must be taken. Imagine what would happen if we break secrecy, and Muggles are exposed to a society of wizards split between guiding and dominating them? This is not a pleasant front, nor is it idyllic, but we are quickly coming close to being completely beyond solutions and solely into damage control."

Even while her eyes linger on Cassius, trying to judge the progress of his recovery since last she saw him — and being heartened, somewhat, by the change which came over him when he noticed she was here after all — Eddie's fingers dive into the bowl of pistachio nuts at her elbow. Not smoking was hard enough alone with the baby. Not smoking while reviewing witness statements is more than any woman ought to be required to endure. They've already been de-shelled for her, such is the service at Berylwood. She pops three or four of them into her mouth at once and crunches them while listening to Jocunda, to Graham, to Cassius again. It's all going in, though nothing has yet come out.

"Soon we won't have to imagine it, Miss Sykes," Cassius says calmly. "Gellert Grindelwald will break it for us. He has always opposed secrecy. The question is no longer whether to reveal ourselves, but rather how we reveal ourselves. You are quite correct, we are being forced to do damage control. But early action may mitigate much of that damage.
"Mr. Cohen, the tide of violence is strong in Grindelwald's camp. But in any movement, there are those that would prefer another course of action if it were available. We may be able to provide that course. There may be more support for our way than is obvious. Of course, we'll make new enemies here at home if we declare for Grindelwald. But such is the nature of war and politics."

Rena's glance flicks between Graham, Edwarlinda and the others nearby. A certain watchful sharpness shows in those eyes now. "I've already made my own stance clear on all of this in the past. I cried out against violence and retaliation - but it fell on deaf ears, apparently. Now, I'm forced to hunt down whoever is responsible for this mess." A beat, and then Rena's gaze goes directly into Cassius: "Rhyeline and Graham are well aware, though the rest of you may not be, that I will no longer be able to support the movement if you choose to side with Grindelwald. Aside from being opposed to everything he stands for, my blood status will instantly remove me from your ranks. These people won't stand for anything but pure-bloods, and you know it."

Jocunda shakes her head. "Then let's be done with it." The Celebrity states simply. "Declare our side. Steer motives where we can, but present a Unified front towards the statute of Secrecy - So that when muggles are brought face to face with us, it's as one." She turns towards Rena, next. "… I don't know what it is we are to do with you. Muggle-born, perhaps, but with you the damage is already done." Not the most subtle way of saying it. "You are educated, trained, one of us. What could Grindelwald propose for your future, when it is so clear that you are as Witch as I am?"
It's the first time she's even directly compared herself to a muggle-born. A significant moment for any who know her well; sadly they're few and far between.

Rhyeline's brows furrow a touch at Jocunda's words. Glancing to Rena, the little one murmurs, "You are not the only one present who is not a pureblood…" Her dark gaze flits briefly to Graham before she looks to Rena once more. "And you yourself have said that we must not stand divided if we are to survive the conflict growing on the continent… but… also, that muggles might not accept us… What course of action /would/ you suggest?"

Cassius nods to Rena. "I understand your concern, Miss Lee, and I share it. But that is one of those things we may be able to influence." He keeps his silence after that, looking to Rhyeline and awaiting Rena's response.

Nicolas has been here the whole time quietly observing and taking notes on what was said. He hasn't said a word and many might have overlooked the shy young man who has practially become one with the background but his cool blue gaze looks over each person carefully and those eye are currently focused on Rhyeline and Rena witha his falcon feather quill at the ready to note down what might be said next. He is focused completely on what is going on and and bites his lower lip with a thoughtful expression while he waits.

Suddenly Edwarlinda stops eating pistachio nuts. "Rena Lee isn't just a witch — she's an Auror," she states, her voice rising easily to be heard throughout the library. "Our department would be much the poorer without her talents and her hard work — our whole world, our world within a world, would be poorer without the Half-bloods and, yes, the Muggleborns amongst us. Gellert Grindelwald's way — it's impossible. It's a fantasy from a time which never really existed. And even if it weren't, we, as witches and wizards of good conscience — we couldn't live with it. The Unity Party's strength is, has always been, in providing an alternative to such policies of violence, domination, exclusion, and judging people by their parents rather than by their own achievements. This decision — it's no decision. Cassius," and her gaze, which sought before to encompass every face before her, turns now just to his, "you know how I feel. You've heard everything I have to say to you. I know that once you've taken counsel with your friends in this room, who believe in you as I do, who believe that you rather than Grindelwald are the man whose vision will unite our two worlds — you'll do what's right."

Graham listens though is no longer turning his head in full to each he's still at least looking to them as they do speak being respectful "You may be correct, but those who do follow the letter of what was said will try to use violence and what then?" he is saying though he pauses when the other auror speaks and he smirks as she basically speaks what he was going to say glad some do understand. "Well said indeed." he says before continuing. "I am afraid that as I stated when I agreed to join. If the movement supports Grindelwald I too will have to excuse myself from it as well. I could not lower my wand and not act against those who would use violence."

Jocunda shakes her head slowly. "It's too late for this kind of division. Too much has happened for a schism to do anything more than provoke more bloodshed, and leave us on the verge of our own civil war. Wizards and Witches of good conscience sometimes need to see that we can't have everything that we want. We /cannot/ trust that Muggles will do what we believe is best. And much as I would rather put my faith in Cassius Malfoy, and try and steer them away from the violence that they would use should we oppose them." The woman's voice is lifting a little. Impatient? Agitated? Who knows.

Slowly, Rena's dark gaze passes between Edwarlinda, Cassius and Rhyeline only. She deeply appreciates Edwarlinda's support, but the fact remains that the likes of the Army of Truth will never accept her kind as things stand now.

With some deliberation, she says: "You'll do whatever you must to survive. And I'll be doing the same." A slight pause as she gathers herself and sets her jaw against Jocunda's hurtful words, "If you believe that you can join Grindelwald and influence him from within his own ranks, I think you're on a fool's errand - but you'd know better than me. In the meantime, while you're building foundations for him to stand on, people like me - the inevitable outcasts of Grindelwald's tyranny - may begin picking away at the rocks from the shadows. I will not simply roll over and play dead For the Greater Good." It's not an empty threat. There is a dark and very serious glint in her eyes, and the young woman seems more than ready to leave now.

Head bowed, Rhyeline lifts her gaze and murmurs, "Attempting to join and thereby influence Grindelwald's movement is uncertain… it is a gamble. But… no less of a gamble than trying to stand in defiance of the violence he advocates… In an ideal world, there would still be time enough to debate and consult… but now we must choose the best of dangerous choices…"

Cassius presses his hands together, fingertips to his lips in a deeply pensive posture. With so many strong opinions on all sides, there is much for him to absorb and process. His pale green eyes shift to each face in turn, mentally cataloguing them and their stances. "Grindelwald is correct about one thing. There is such a thing as a greater good. His notion of how to achieve it may be flawed, but his idealism is something I can appreciate." He sighs wearily, leaning his head back against his chair. "I have a great deal to consider. Let us hear any further closing statements before we retire."

"I've made my views on the subject clear." Jocunda states simply. "I pick the course with the least bloodshed. With the best possible future. I'm sorry, Miss," To Rena, "But non-violence… Blood purity. These are things we can work on from within. But in a civil war, you're the catalyst and the casualty. And that's what staying our current course will lead to. I will not stand for dividing wizardkind, and raising wands against eachother."

Cassius may admire such ideals in principle — but they don't meet Eddie's standards for idealism. However many crooks she's chased and caught in her life, whatever turbulence in her personal life this past year or so, the heart beating beneath her Auror's robes retains a faint quality of fuzziness… She ferries another consignment of pistachios between her faded red lips as she looks at her little brother, noticing in his face even more than in his words his desire to draw this tense meeting to a close. She leans over to pour him a cup of tea, and says nothing more for the moment. He really has had it all before, from her.

"I've said all I'm going to say," Rena says after a moment of staring at Jocunda darkly. There is genuine anger behind her gaze, and she's struggling fiercely within herself to control it. "And I've had a belly-full."
Moving away from the group, she doesn't even do the gracious thing and say her polite goodbyes. She simply walks out of the room and heads to the front of the house at a brisk, determined pace to retrieve her coat and hat. Even from that distance, one can hear the door shut rather audibly behind her in her wake.

Rhyeline has no closing remarks of her own. Instead, her gaze is fixed on the others, taking the myriad of opinions. Her expression of calm reserve does not waver when Rena storms off. Instead, her dark gaze simply flits to the next person to speak.

Cassius looks up after Rena. "Be well, Miss Lee. I shall be in touch. Mr. Cohen, perhaps you could see that Miss Lee has a friend by her side? I believe she'll need one just now." Taking his can in hand, he rises, wincing only slightly against the protest of his sore muscles. "Thank you all for coming. This has been most illuminating. I shall be in contact with all of you very soon."

Graham watches the room at large. He has made up his mind and he'll need to speak to the malfoy auror sometime properly soon given they seem to have the same aims and more heads on a case is all the better. He looks to Rena beside him as she speaks and then gets up to leave. He frowns as she does but looks around "She has the most to lose of all who spoke." he says flatly a truth at least in his eyes. "It's not an easy choice of course none of this is but a choice does have to be made i've said my side." he does look to Cassius nodding "Of course she knows it already i'd home." he says in agreement.

The gathered witches and wizards begin to filter out, making their polite farewells amidst much quiet chatter about the intense decision before them.

Then so be it. Jocunda doesn't flinch from Rena's gaze. If the muggle-born wants to be dramatic, that's her decision. "So be it. These attitudes are what dictates the blood that will be shed over the coming days." The woman turns towards the door as well, allowing Rena a small lead. Her final words are a touch more revealing. "… I'm spend them with my family. Goodbye." Jocunda excuses herself.

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