(1938-01-10) Matters of Trust
Details for Matters of Trust
Summary: Alis and Rhyeline have an early breakfast, and talk about Rhyeline's decisions. Cassius joins them after the discussion turns to security arrangements.
Date: Thursday, January 10, 1938
Location: Berylwood
Related: Cassius' New Assistant

Berylwood, London

This villa estate is nestled behind a natural barrier of trees, forming a thinly forested ring around the entire property. A gated driveway winds through a sprawling garden, teeming with sterling roses and topiary trees in various serpentine and draconic shapes. The driveway ends in a large circle, at the center of which is a smaller garden, complete with a stone fountain carved in the shape of a hydra, spouting several fonts one from each of the seven heads.

The three-story manor itself is constructed of brick and stone, resembling a castle. The interior of the house is dark black marble with forest green accents. Silvery-white draperies are used liberally to reflect light and contrast the marble. Entrants through the front doors come in through a reception hall (complete with crystal chandelier), from which rises a grand staircase leading to the other floors. Also on this level is a formal dining room, kitchen, breakfast room, game room, solar, library, and indoor pool. A stairwell from the kitchen leads down to a fully stocked wine cellar. The second story contains the master suite, two secondary bedrooms, a music room, and a study. Four more bedrooms occupy the third floor.

Two other buildings rest on the property, flanking the manor house a staff house and a guest house. Both are in the same style as the main house's exterior, though not as extravagant on the inside.

Around the back of the main house is a second garden, in the form of a hedge maze (enchanted so that only those of strong Malfoy blood can easily navigate it), at the center of which is a domed structure with mirrored glass walls.

The first glimmerings of sunlight stream through the magnificent windows of the breakfast room. Just to the left of the head of the table, Rhyeline sits with a small plate of thick-cut French toast covered in cream and blueberries. The morning copy of the Daily Prophet hovers in the air, opened to the third inside page where international news is discussed. Old habits die hard.

By the time the sun has risen, Alis has already been up for several hours. She saunters into the breakfast room, already dressed and ready for the day, fluffing her hair with one hand, and drops into the chair across the table from Rhyeline. "Morning, Rhye." A cup of coffee appears before her, followed by a plate of sweet rolls. "Is that the international page?"

This morning, Rhyeline wears attire a bit more elegant than what the mouse usually wears. Though her dress is simple, there is a subtle elegance to it befitting a member of Cassius Malfoy's entourage. Her hair is done up in its usual delicate braids. At the sound of someone approaching, Rhyeline lowers the newspaper and peeks over the top at Alis. Smiling, she nods and allows the newspaper to fold magically and rest before her plate. "Yes, good to keep up with such things. Though I read about national politics first."

Alis flashes a grin at the mouse. "Good, now I don't have to do it. Anything important I should know about?" She sips coffee, makes a face, and proceeds to spoon sugar into it. Her feet swing back and forth, beneath the table, and she takes a second sip, verifying that the coffee is to taste.

Rhyeline laughs softly and shakes her head. "No, not this morning. If you'd like, I can perhaps prepare a brief report each morning on the important elements of the day's news that as his protector you should be aware of."

"Thank you, but no." Alis flaps a hand at Rhyeline, then picks up one of the rolls from the plate. "I'm perfectly capable of reading the Prophet, and Merlin knows I need something to do while I'm hanging about at the Ministry watching the pair of you work. Besides, if I was going to have you do my homework for me, I'd just make you read the report aloud after it's compiled." She flashes another grin and a wink.

Rhyeline brings her hand up to hide her smile as she gives an impish little giggle. "Alright, as you wish. But truly? You read the prophet while working?" The girl tilts her head to the side. "How else will you notice the unexpected assailant? The night Ambassador Troy was attacked, his guards weren't paying attention either. Only I stood off to one side, unnoticed and watching."

"Mostly, I skim the Prophet," Alis clarifies, once she's finished the bite of roll. She sips more coffee. "The threat risk while at the Ministry is minimal, especially when Cass is in his office. Granted, some of that has to do with the secretary or receptionist or whatever they call the woman who mans that desk."

Rhyeline averts her gaze and simply nods. Perhaps she forgets that the Ministry does not possess as dangerous a climate as the embassies of Berlin and her caution is more than it needs to be. After taking a sip of coffee, the girl peeks over at Alis once more and murmurs, "When does he usually wake?"

Alis turns her gaze upward, regarding the ceiling briefly. "He's awake. I expect he'll be down shortly." She looks back at Rhyeline and smiles. "We'll know for certain when his breakfast appears on the table. Precisely ten seconds before he arrives in the room." Not that she's counted or anything.

Rhyeline smiles. "Ah, is that how it works. I was surprised to find this plate waiting for me, the French toast still hot and the cream still cold." Lifting her gaze, she looks around a moment before saying rather softly, "It is a truly magnificent home, isn't it."

"The household staff has magnificent timing." Alis' own breakfast appeared after she did because that is her preference. She follows Rhyeline's gaze, then looks back at the younger witch and nods. "It is. Cass has truly exquisite taste, but then he always has."

"I was a bit startled by his invitation to live here. The thought was- a bit overwhelming. Such a magnificent home, but- but such luxury as well and- and so many people." Lowering her gaze once more, she takes another bite of French toast.

"Honestly, I was surprised that you weren't expecting such an invitation," Alis confides. She's making quick work of her breakfast, drinking the coffee somewhat more slowly. "Then again, I'm used to both his habits and his work ethic. I knew that becoming his bodyguard would require a shared residence." She gestures rather expansively to indicate the house at large. "Compared to this, I grew up in a hovel."

Rhyeline hesitates, looking around. "It is more than what I grew up with as well. I understand the practicality of it, which is why I agreed to keep a room here. Might end up spending much more time here than I do at home, but even you used to find time now and then to visit me. And in my spare moments, I do enjoy the quiet and solitude of a private residence. This will take some getting used to."

"I can visit you here as well as anywhere else," Alis points out. "And you can find quiet and solitude here, if you wish it. Though I understand it can take some getting used to." She finishes the rolls, wiping her fingers on a napkin and sipping more coffee. "I haven't actually had anywhere I could properly call home since I left my parents' house, after graduation. Until now, that is."

"I had begun to feel my flat here in London as home. I knew it would not be forever, but I think I would like to stay there a bit longer. Who else lives here?" Rhyeline watches Alis curiously from behind her cup of coffee.

"No one else, in the main house," Alis replies. She waves a hand in a vague gesture. "There's a house on the grounds for the staff, but it's entirely possible to go for days without seeing any of them. I've made it a point to track all of them down so that I can recognize them on sight, but I don't otherwise have much contact with anyone but the butler and the kennel master."

Rhyeline blinks just a bit, watching Alis from over the brim of her cup. Resting it back upon the table, warming her hands against its sides, she murmurs, "Do you not sleep in the staff quarters? They are separate from this house?"

Alis shakes her head. "The staff quarters are for the house staff, which I'm not. I have quarters here, in the main house, which allows me to be readily available should Cass have need of me. He's also cleared out what used to be the game room, so that I can have a space to practice and train."

Rhyeline nods slowly. "I see. And- and I as well. I will have- have a similar arrangement? That- that is a bit different than- than living in a crowded servants quarters." Lowering her gaze, she takes another bite of breakfast.

"Unless for some reason you'd rather find a place in the staff house." Alis shakes her head. "It's my understanding that Cass wants you here, with us. If you require more than simply a place to sleep, I know that he will see to it that those needs are met."

"Well, I- I have acquired a bit too many books to fill a bedroom, I think," admits Rhyeline with a soft smile. "My father sends them to me, and when I have spare sickles, that is what I go to buy."

Alis lets out a little laugh. "If it's the books you're worried about, I can safely say that space can be found for them here. When Cass says he's willing to provide anything you need, he quite literally means anything."

Rhyeline's cheeks warm ever so slightly. With a nod she murmurs, "I am beginning to see that. Forgive me, you see when I was invited to live with Ambassador Troy here in London, I was told I would be sleeping in the servant's quarters if I did." Taking another sip of coffee, she peeks over at Alis with a soft, shy smile and says, "Looks like I need to realize just how different serving Cassius will be to serving Ambassador Troy."

"Indeed," Alis agrees. "Cass has put his trust in you, as he has in me. He has few enough people in his life that he can trust so freely, and he's inclined to be exceedingly generous to those few. It can take some getting used to, I know." She lifts a shoulder in half a shrug. "I'd still be adjusting, myself, if I hadn't already been used to this behavior from our time at school."

"I wonder at how he has been able to put his trust in me. Such trust, having only spoken with me a few times. I cannot imagine it." But then again she does not have the use of legimillancy to bring truth to the fore. "But I believe it now. I feel-" she hesitates, glancing down into her cup of coffee, "-much shame for causing him such pain last night."

Finishing her coffee, Alis sets the cup down, making a gesture for the house-elf to fill it, and rises from her place, moving around the table to be closer to Rhyeline, though instead of sitting in another chair, she merely leans against the table. "I don't begin to understand his methods, either, and I've known him for better than half of my life."

"Usually I can read what others are thinking from their eyes, but he- I can't seem to understand him. Can't tell what it hidden behind his eyes. Trusting doesn't come easily to me even when I know them well." Rhyeline bites her lower lip, watching Alis. "As one who knows him far better than I, as one who wants to keep me safe, is it- is it wise that I trust him? Let my guard down and accept what he says as truth?"

Alis considers the question carefully, but it doesn't take long before she nods. "What he says is truth, Rhye. However he came to trust you, that trust is real. Your safety is every bit as important to me as his is, and you are safe here. With me, and with him."

Rhyeline watches Alis with a dark, steady stare. But then at last, she nods and says, "Thank you, Alis. I will do all I can to be worthy of such trust." The sound of footsteps announces someone approaches. Rhyeline glances towards the entrance to the breakfast room.

"I have faith that you will." Alis leans forward, touching Rhyeline's shoulder briefly, then glances at the table at the sound of footsteps. Since Cassius' breakfast still isn't on it, she's unsurprised when it's the butler who walks by the open doorway.

Rhyeline blinks at the touch and peeks up at Alis. Noticing the butler out of the corner of her eye, she calms a bit and smiles once more up at the woman. "Thank you." Pausing, she tilts her head to the side just a bit as she gazes up at her. "Thank you, Alis. I- I never quite got a chance to thank you for how kind you were to me. I- I know it is silly how- how scared I am of the nurses and healers, but- but thank you for making me feel safe." The young one bites her lower lip.

"You're welcome." Alis regards the younger woman seriously. "I don't think it's silly that the healers and nurses frighten you. I've never been comfortable around them, either. Frankly, a hospital is an incredibly insecure environment, which was among the reasons I was trying to get Healer O'Shea to see you elsewhere."

Rhyeline nods slowly before lowering her gaze to the cup of coffee in her hands. "I don't like it at all there. I was alright at first, but- but this terrible dread has just been getting worse and worse every time I step foot in there."

"In the event that you have to return, we'll see to it that you aren't alone," Alis says, with a firm nod. "If for some reason I'm unable to accompany you myself, we'll see if we can arrange for Annie to be along. Hopefully, Cass will be able to secure Healer O'Shea's cooperation in working with Mrs. Black, as well."

"Annie will come with me," murmurs Rhyeline with a soft smile, despite her apprehension. "Her presence is most reassuring and I wouldn't want to take you away from your duties to Cassius. Thank you though."

"Speaking of my duties." Alis holds out a hand. "May I have your key? I'll work on the wards today, after I've escorted you and Cass to the Ministry."

Rhyeline blinks, but looking to the woman's hand, she nods and pulls the key from her pocket. Handing it over, she murmurs, "You aren't going to stay with us at the Ministry?"

"Not for the duration," Alis replies, shaking her head. "I'll be there for a little bit this morning, and back in time for lunch, then out again during part of the afternoon. You'll be safe enough at the Ministry, and particularly in his office. I don't want to put off setting up the wards, though, and I also need to make the adjustments to the security here."

"Ah, I see. Thank you," says Rhyeline with a nod. Peeking back up at Alis, she tilts her head to the side just a bit. "What- what will you be doing in my flat? What sort of wards?"

"Anti-Apparation and Anti-Disapparation," Alis replies. "I'd also like to alter the monitoring wards, with your permission, so that Cassius and myself, and your friend Annie can enter without setting them off."

Rhyeline nods with a soft smile. "I'd like that. And- and I can I add later to the list perhaps? If I choose? Oh, and the garden- might I be able to apparate there and the step into the house? I'd rather not apparate onto the street."

"You'll be able to Apparate anywhere on the property, as will those who've been keyed to the wards." Alis smiles a little. "No one else will be able to manage it, though, or at least not without a significant amount of work. All wards can eventually be cracked, but it's almost impossible to do it without drawing attention to the process."

Rhyeline is sitting to the left of the head of the table, just finishing a plate of thick-cut French toast with cream and blue berries. Her cup of coffee has been refilled by the house elf twice. Peeking up at Alis who stands next to her, leaning back against the edge of the table, she says, "But- but I can open the door for whoever I want, yes? And then the wards will not be broken. What- what about a physical key? If- if a friend that- that I haven't had a chance to ask you to key to the wards to would need to use my flat when I am away, would it be possible to give them a special key so that they could enter without breaking the wards?"

"I can set something like that up, but I don't recommend it. Such tokens can be lost or stolen, which means there's a potential for a security breach." Alis' empty plate was taken by the house-elves already, and her coffee cup sits across the table, still untouched from when it was refilled. "The monitoring wards don't stop anyone from coming in, though, they just let you know that it's happened. The protections I'm adding today won't stop a conventional entry, either, so doors and windows will still allow people to enter the flat, they just can't use magic to pop in unannounced."

"Then I don't suppose it matters, because I could just reset the wards if it was someone I knew that had accidentally broken them, yes?" asks Rhyeline softly as she peers curiously up at Alis.

Cassius is dressed up crisp and fresh for another day at the Ministry when he strides into the breakfast room. "Good morning, ladies. Are we back on the subject of Rhyeline's security?" He glances over the table as he takes a seat, and his breakfast levitates to him courtesy of the house-elf. "Has the Prophet been brought out yet?"

"That's the general idea, yes." Alis nods. She turns at Cassius' entrance, pushing away from the table and moving back around it to re-settle in her seat. "Good morning, Cass. Yes, we're back on the subject of her security. I was saying I'd handle that today, as well as the adjustment to the wards here at Berylwood."

Rhyeline blinks and peeks up as Cassius steps into the room. A folded copy of the Daily Prophet which the girl had been perusing earlier rests folded before her plate. Taking it up she hands it to him, with a soft, shy smile. "I offered to prepare summary reports for Alis so that she didn't need to worry about reading it all in the mornings," she murmurs. As befitting a new member of Cassius Mafloy's entourage, the girl wears a dress of subtle elegance.

Cassius smiles warmly to each of them, gratefully taking the paper from Rhyeline. "Thank you, Rhyeline. Yes, excellent Alis, thank you." He peruses the front page of the Prophet as he sips his morning tea. "Rhyeline, if you do mean to keep your flat, security is my primary concern. I'll release you both to handle that today. After Alis safely delivers me to the Ministry, of course." He smirks over at the redhead, expecting she'll insist upon it anyhow.

Picking up her coffee cup, Alis is gratified to find the coffee still hot. "Actually, I can handle the necessary arrangements without Rhyeline being present for it. We were discussing the schedule before you came down, as a matter of fact. I'll accompany you in, and make sure things are to my satisfaction before leaving to handle the wards at her flat, and I can make the adjustments to Berylwood's security this afternoon, after lunch."

Rhyeline looks to Alis, listening at the woman explains that there is no need for Rhyeline to leave his side that morning. Nodding, she offers him a soft, shy smile and murmurs, "Yes, today I would like to start learning how I can be of service to you at the Ministry."

Cassius smiles with obvious satisfaction at the efficiency of the two women. "It seems that pairing the two of you up was my best decision yet. Cheers. Very well, I have no objection to your plans. Rhyeline and I will devote the day to learning the ropes. Though I expect you'll find much that is familiar to you, Rhyeline. It will be more a matter of learning to navigate the Wizengamot, which is mostly just knowing the right people to get things done."

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