(1938-01-10) At the End of the Day
Details for At the End of the Day
Summary: Cassius and Rhyeline finish up their first day of work together, and enjoy a little post-work conversation.
Date: January 10, 1938
Location: Berylwood

A long day of learning the ups and downs of the Wizengamot, who to suck up to, who to avoid, how Cassius organizes his ledger, how Cassius takes his tea, and just how exhausting a day in Cassius Malfoy's footsteps can be didn't end when Rhyeline returned with Cassius to his manor. Right away, they took to the second floor study to continue dealing with paperwork, meeting plans, tomorrow's schedule, and other endless minutiae. Though, most importantly, at this point in the day the primary focus is the business of the Unity Movement. At least the study is a more comfortable space than Cassius' cramped, spartan office at the Ministry. In this room, aside from Cassius' large oak desk, is a small library of law books, a few plants, and several other seats, including a lounge where someone could lean back and relax, with suitable table-space nearby to work on.

Cassius leans back in his seat, sipping from a steaming cup of tea as his eyes scan over a letter of support from a small union of merchants. "I've notified the maintenance department that I'll need the office expanded. You'll need your own desk."

Among many things that Rhyeline's mother did when educating her daughter prior to Hogwarts was train the girl's memory to be absolutely perfect. At Cassius' side, Rhyeline is able to take in vast amounts of information without difficulty. When it comes to work, she doesn't forget a single thing said to her and the endurance of her attention is far more than the average recent Hogwarts graduate of two years.

"Thank you, sir. I will follow up on that for you tomorrow, if you wish." A delicate swan feather quill makes a small note in his ledger. Having mastered transcription magic (something often used by both journalists and secretaries), the girl is able to make concise notes in small, neat handwriting continuously without seeming too obvious about it. At present the ledger rests in her lap, and his delicate assistant merely sits holding it, seeming serene and calm.

"Excellent, thank you, Miss Diderot." Cassius folds up the letter, showing off a satisfied smile. "It seems the Shippers' Guild has voted in support of Unity. That should go a long way toward assuaging international concerns. Still there are other areas here at home that need addressing. My sister took a holiday before I was able to ask her to speak with Eloise Dodderidge. See that I invite Edwarlinda to tea when she returns, to discuss the matter. Also, have a bouquet send to Melania Black. Something she can make use of when it wilts."

The swan feather pen flits across the page, making notes in a strange, scattered way that may seem like chaos to the untrained eye, but Rhyeline perceives the order of the placement of each note and it will make it easier to look up later, though it is unlikely she will need to. "Yes, sir. I will research and arrange for something suitable. Shall I pen a note to accompany it on your behalf as well?"

Cassius nods, slicing open another bit of post with a silver letter-opener. "Please do. Keep it simple. Nothing too flowery." He unfolds the letter, meeting it with a frown. "Well, Actaeon Proudmore won't be lending us his support. We'll have to do what we can to at least see that he remains undecided. That's money I don't want to see helping the Segregationists."

Rhyeline simply nods as the quill makes another tiny note. It would seem that penning such letters is not outside the girls' experience. The feather stills, poised in the air as Cassius reads his next note. The moment he speaks, the feather begins to move once more. "I see," murmurs the girl, still sitting peacefully as if lost in a trance. "I am acquainted with his nephew, Lionel Proudmore, but he has decided to spend the talents of his blood opening a pasty shop and doesn't seem particularly close with his family."

Cassius arches an eyebrow at Rhyeline. "Hm…still, see what insights you can garner. The Proudmore patriarch is a contemporary of my father's, not mine. So I really don't have much of a read on the man."

Rhyeline gives a slow, small nod, staring off into space as the open ledger continues to rest in her hands upon her lap. "I will speak with him again and try to gain what insight I can. Lionel and I have a- complex history and unfortunately, he shakes me a bit which makes him difficult for me to understand. I will ask Alis for her insight. She has observed him with me before."

Cassius arches an eyebrow as he sets the letter aside to be filed away. "Shakes you? How so?"

Rhyeline briefly meets Cassius' gaze before staring off into space once more. "Sets me off balance, I mean. I met him in my fourth year at Hogwarts, you see. I found his attention quite overwhelming. He seems to have retained his interest, though- he has also changed a great deal."

Cassius tilts his head. "He has a romantic interest in you? And it is unwelcome?"

Rhyeline lowers her gaze slightly and says rather quietly, "He has expressed that he does not intend to pursue me any longer, I suspect he might wish otherwise. However. I do not care for him in such a way."

Cassius nods pensively, and rises from his seat, moving out from behind his desk to sat a seat opposite Rhyeline. "Close the ledger. We're done for today. So, is he simply not your type? Those Proudmore boys are usually strapping lads, after all." He smirks playfully.

Rhyeline allows the quill to vanish and then slowly closes the ledger. It is a moment before she lifts her gaze, focusing a calm, enigmatic stare upon his eyes. Parting her lips to speak, she hesitates a moment more before she says, "I found his attention quite thrilling when I was younger, but overwhelmingly so. Scared me. And he was about to graduate anyway so I avoided him the rest of the year. Met him again not long ago. He still holds desire for me, I know. Powerful one. But-" Rhyeline hesitates, averting her gaze.

"But…?" Cassius probes curiously, but retracts a moment later. "You needn't tell me if you're not comfortable. I'm not here to pry into your personal affairs, unless he is a continuing problem for you. But I don't get the impression that he is."

Rhyeline peeks up at him and offers him a subtle smile of appreciation. Lowering her gaze once more, she murmurs, "Not a problem. I- I made it clear that- that I did not wish for him to take me. He withdrew." Slowly the girl sets the ledger aside and crosses one leg over the other beneath her dress. Looking thoughtful a moment, she goes on, "I wanted to see what there was though. I have been taking chances this year, you see. Making choices. I decided to- to try to know someone. To invite him to coffee, to see what happened. It- it didn't go so well though. I can't even- even begin to make sense of things."

Cassius's brow lofts at her choice of the words; "take me." But he'll keep silent on that point, just letting her see the reaction and respond as she may wish. "Don't let it discourage you. Taking chances is good. After all, we wouldn't be where we are if you hadn't taken a chance on me." He gives her that warm, encouraging smile.

Rhyeline's cheeks warm as she realizes what her choice of words implies so clearly, however she does not attempt to correct his possible assumption. Instead, she fixes her steady stare upon his eyes and murmurs, "Yes, but- you are more worth taking the risk for. You devote yourself to great things whereas- he has allowed life's pain to make him bitter." Averting her gaze she is quiet a moment, pondering. "Perhaps that is what he meant when he told me I must think I could save him." Closing her eyes, she shakes her head a bit before looking back up at Cassius once more.

Cassius nods, showing obligatory concern for whatever pain the man has suffered. "A pity that a Proudmore should be brought low. One hopes he will find the strength to rise up again." He leans back, his stiff posture giving in to the softness of the chair, at last relaxing after the long day. "May I ask if there is a man in your life? Some other romantic interest that makes Mr. Proudmore's advances hopeless?"

Rhyeline lowers her gaze and shakes her head. "No, sir, there is no man in my life. Not like that. I have- have no interest in such things. Do not wish to ever be one of those women, so easily taken, easily forgotten."

Cassius furrows his brow, tut-tutting. "I didn't ask if you were having casual intimacy. I said romance. You cannot hope to have love if you do not allow yourself the chance. That doesn't require being 'taken' and 'forgotten'."

"In books, I have seen that acts of intimacy are expressions of love," murmurs Rhyeline, not looking up at him. "But- but I do not wish to love until- until I am certain of the sort of man he will be. Certain that I will matter."

Cassius nods, "That is admirable, so long as your restraint comes from strength and not fear. But do not mistake intimacy as the only expression of love. You can love without intercourse."

"And intercourse can be a mere game, meaningless and empty," she says, lifting her gaze to meet his for but a moment. Averting it once more, she murmurs, "It is strength born of fear. Most strength is. A fear of what will come to pass due to rash actions. I will not allow myself to be broken, not by life, not by death ever close, nor by any man. So I make my choices with care." At last she meets his gaze once again, steady and calm.

Cassius shakes his head. "Now there I disagree with you. I posit that fear can never beget strength. It might catalyze the need for strength, but strength is born out of a rejection of fear. Out of courage in spite of fear. In fact, my entire political platform is built on the rejection of fear to embrace a better way of life."

Rhyeline watches him for a time. Though the girl betrays little emotion in her smooth, snow-white features, in this moment, a subtle vulnerability is allowed to emerge in her eyes. When she speaks, it is in a rather soft tone. The girl confides in him, "I know no other way to protect myself."

"I'm not saying you've done wrong," he assures her. "I simply believe that you give fear too much credit, and in so doing, you give it power over you."

Rhyeline hesitates a moment, turning her head slightly to the side as she peeks up at him. "What do you mean?"

Cassius folds his hands in his lap, dipping his head as he starts to explain. "Fear is poison. It strips us of our senses. It weakens our resolve. From the earliest days of humankind, it has driven us back into our caves and huts and castles, where we can be protected, warm…and isolated. Alone. Cut off from human contact, from learning, from the experiences that shape us and test our mettle and makes us strong. To even pay lip service to fear as the source of one's strength is to give it strength. You are saying that it is more powerful than you, because it bestowed a power upon you. But I say you're wrong. I say that you refused to give in to fear, and mustered your own strength to stand against it. It still has a hold on you, but you struggle against it, and that is good."

A subtle touch of pink slowly emerges in the girl's cheeks, warming them as he speaks. Overcome by a sudden shyness, the she looks down at her hands folded neatly in her lap before she peeks back up at him. Biting her lower lip, she hesitates a moment before she offers him the rarest of smiles, one that shines with a nascent glimmer of affection and trust. "It isn't every day that I am told that I am strong. Even less often that- that I believe the one who speaks. Thank you, Cassius."

Cassius returns the warmth, lowering his head respectfully. "You are very welcome. I find you a fascinating creature, Rhyeline. I see strength, but also meekness. I see powerful self-motivation and drive, yet also a desire to be guided…even possessed in some ways. You are an intriguing blend of contradictions."

Rhyeline's blush deepens rather noticeably and her hands tighten a bit in her lap. Watching him in silence for a moment, a small smile finds its way to her lips once more. "If such is what intrigues you of me, I hope you never quite make sense of my contradictions."

Cassius chuckles, his eyes sparkling with fascination. "That isn't all that intrigues me. But I fully admit that it draws me in. You are a puzzle, and I do enjoy solving puzzles. You will find that I am a student of the mind and its function. Emotion, personality, social dynamic…I actively study them all to better understand people. Not entirely unlike your own observations, I imagine."

Rhyeline's soft smile remains as she looks to her hands once more. The warmth in her cheeks lingers, betraying the effect he has on her. "Yes. The silent ones hear most, those who go unnoticed see what was not intended for the eyes of others. But sometimes I am still left in the dark. Usually when the waters of my heart disturbed- shaken. I think that is why I can't read you at all. I have chosen to trust you. I let you close. And this shakes me."

Cassius's features immediately soften. "Rhyeline, I have chosen to trust you as well. I know I can be difficult to read. But if there is anything you would know of me, you have but to ask. You have that privilege."

"I have the privilege to ask. But. Do you reserve the right to silence?" asks Rhyeline with a grin, tilting her head to the side. Laughing softly, she murmurs, "I do have a question, but if you cannot answer, I understand. Might not even have an answer. But- I have been wondering. How did you know you could trust me? You do not seem a man who places trust lightly and yet- I feel you scarcely know me. We have spoken but a few times." The girl seeks his wisdom, his insight into human nature, remaining unaware of his use of legilimency.

Cassius chuckles. "I thought you might ask that, actually. It is as I said. I am a student of the mind. While you may be a mystery to me in some ways, I still feel that I have read the truth of your intentions. But you saw for yourself that I am not infallible, after our difficulty last night. Still, often all it takes is a bit of conversation to root out the reality of another's thoughts." He smirks almost boyishly at her. "But I'll let you on a little secret. I don't know that I can trust you. I feel strongly that I can. I think it highly unlikely that you would ever betray my trust. But I don't know." He lets that sink in for a moment before adding, "I chose to take a leap of faith. I trusted my heart, and I shall continue to do so."

Rhyeline's eyes shine softly in the gentle light of his study as she listens. "I see. I am relieved to know that I am not the only one then taking a leap of faith. I apologize for the other night and- I appreciate your patience and forgiveness. I am- am trying to be strong despite my fear. I know I will be. I do trust you, which- which is very new to me. In the past, trust has simply grown. Now. I have given it. Placed it in you. I will keep your trust safe as long as you keep mine."

Cassius rises and crosses over to Rhyeline, offering his hand to help her stand. "I foresee a long and fruitful journey for all of us. Myself, you, and Alis. I also hope that the two of you will learn to keep such trust in my sister, Edwarlinda. She is quite dear to me. Come, you are staying here tonight, yes? I'll show you to your room." Offering his arm, he leads Rhyeline to the third floor, bidding her sweet dreams.

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