(1938-09-13) The Dome in the Hedge Maze
Details for The Dome in the Hedge Maze
Summary: Cassius invites Rhyeline, his convalescing assistant, for a stroll through the hedge maze behind his manor. He leads her into his Tranquility Chamber to speak of secrets and trust.
Date: Friday, September 13, 1938
Location: Berylwood


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, training 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, a secondary bedroom, game room, 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 warm summer night air breezes lazily around the manor house at Berylwood, finding its way to the back garden where it teases through the loose, platinum locks of Cassius Malfoy. He stands facing the entrance to the hedge maze, hands clasped behind his back, his eyes closed in silent meditation as he awaits his guest's arrival.

Rhyeline knows her way to the back garden, having slept at Berylwood on more than a few occasions for work before her health took a turn for the worse. The breeze tugs at strands of her dark hair which reaches to the small of her back. This evening, she wears a light summer dress with delicate floral print. It has rather short sleeves, exposing a fair amount of her snow-white skin. She approaches with a soft smile. "Good evening, Cassius," she murmurs.

Cassius opens his eyes, smiling before he turns around to greet his assistant. "Rhyeline, you always seem to brighten Berylwood with your presence. Thank you for coming. I hope I haven't imposed upon your recovery." He steps up to her side, offering his arm.

Rhyeline draws close to his side as she slips her arm into his. It is a bit cooler than she'd anticipated and Cassius is warm. Shaking her head, she peeks up at him with a smile and murmurs, "I feel much stronger these days. I think Healer Keenan just doesn't want to take any chances and so he's making sure before allowing me to come back to work full-time."

Cassius sighs, nodding slowly. "Ah yes. Healer Keenan O'Shea. Still insistent upon seeing him, are you? I tell you, Rhyeline, the man is obsessed with control…and I should know the type." He pats her hand, leading her toward the entrance of the verdant labyrinth before them.

Despite her best efforts, a subtle blush emerges in Rhyeline's cheeks as she averts her gaze. "He has been patient with me and kept his promises." Keeping close, she allows him to lead her to the hedge maze. After so many warnings against entering, she bites her lower lip and clings just a bit tighter to Cassius' arm. Gazing into the labyrinth, she murmurs, "Your aunt, Madam Ismene Malfoy, has taken an interest in my case."

"Let me guess. Healer O'Shea opposes her involvement." Cassius sighs as he leads her into the maze. Mere moments after they have entered, a rustling of leaves announces the closure of the passage behind them. "We've been down this road before, if you recall, when Melania Black wanted to help you. It isn't his ability to keep promises that concerns me, Rhyeline. It's the jealous ownership he enforces over your case. He shuts out people that can help you, possibly better than he can."

Rhyeline's clings tight to Cassius at the rustling sound, but then blushes and loosens her grip. Still keeping close, she lowers her gaze. Biting her lower lip, she murmurs, "I remember. But- the other healers frighten me. When I see one, it's as if an angel of death has come to try to take me. Besides, the hospital decided who would be my healer."

Cassius gives her arm a reassuring squeeze. "Don't worry. The maze will not harm you. It won't even mind your presence, so long as you're with me. Now, Rhyeline, you know that I'm not talking about other Healers…as much as I wish you'd choose another. Both Melania and my great-aunt are masterful potioneers. They would have a different approach to your case. Hopefully a better one, given that you relapsed while under O'Shea's care."

Rhyeline peeks up at Cassius and murmurs, "It wasn't his fault I got worse. Other things happened. And- he understands how it works. He's kept me alive so far."

Cassius tightens his lips. "Healers have us entirely at their mercy. We must assume they know what they are doing, because we don't know any better ourselves. It is for this reason that I always insist upon multiple opinions when it comes to matters of health. A habit instilled in me by my father. He was a Healer before he retired. Did you know?"

Rhyeline gives a little nod. "I knew. And- I don't mind asking for another opinion. There is no harm in that. Although- I am a bit worried. I’ve realized that your aunt may not know that my father was a half-blood. Such things seem to matter to her a great deal. So- it may be a moot point."

Cassius nods deeply. "She is a firm believer in the importance of blood purity, in a rather old-fashioned sense. But if it ever becomes an issue, tell me and I will handle things." He lets the Healer matter drop, having seemingly planted the seed successfully in her mind.

Rhyeline nods, keeping close as she soaks up his warmth as the two walk through the green maze. At last she murmurs in a soft, thoughtful tone, "Not long ago, a young man I'd seen before near your offices was- mmm- 'interested' in me. There were more than a few in Berlin that tried to seduce me in order to get close to the Ambassador. So I thought he might be trying to get closer to you. But- I was surprised because he must not have known who I was at all. Instead- when he didn't recognize my name, he said I must be a mudblood or a half-blood at best. There seems to be more of that these days. In the past, people seemed more forgiving."

A scowl forms openly on Cassius' face, expressing his displeasure in a way that is usually much more reserved. "You say that you've seen this young man near my office? Did you get his name?"

Catching sight of Cassius' scowl, Rhyeline blinks in surprise at how strong his reaction is. The warmth in her cheeks deepens as she watches him. "Balthazar Lestrange," she murmurs. "But- it wasn't of much consequence. I was just surprised."

Cassius's scowl only hardens at the name. "Lestrange, hm? He's an apprentice barrister in the W.A.S. A distant cousin of mine, as well. It seems he's in need of a lesson in diplomacy." He takes a deep breath, finally managing to soften his expression, if only slightly. "Don't you worry. He won't be bothering you again."

Rhyeline rests her cheek against Cassius' shoulder as she peeks up at him. The little one doesn't say anything, but rather just gazes up at him, soaking in the moment.

"I hope you realize how implicitly I trust you, Rhyeline." Cassius takes on a sudden, somber tone. "I know that you hold the cause to be of utmost importance; above all else, I hope. For this reason, so that you can act in your fullest capacity, I wish for you to fully understand me." He stops suddenly. After many twists and turns through the perplexing maze, suddenly they are at what looks like a dead end. The hedges stop, giving way to a mirrored wall. But it's plain to see that the wall is merely the base of the great, glass dome structure that sits at the center of the garden.

The warmth in her cheeks is a sure sign of her improved health. Rhyeline blushes bright as she gazes up at him. "I'd like that. To know the good- and the darkness. There is a balance of both in all of us. I know that now. And- even though I wouldn't say I fully understand you yet- I do trust you. Because- I know I matter to you and you matter to me just as much."

Cassius nods sagely, staring intensely into her eyes. "It is for this reason I want you and Alis to be trained in Occlumency. I cannot risk my secrets being exposed, even unintentionally. As you have surmised, I have my darker side. I am fully aware of it, and I accept it as a part of who I am. You will learn more, in time. For now, I won't expose you to the most terrible parts of me just yet. But what I am about to share with you, you must protect fiercely." He turns toward the curved, mirrored wall, and reaches toward it. His hand passes through the mirror as if it were air, causing only a slight warbling in its surface. "Come," he commands, and steps forward, arm still linked with hers.

Despite how fragile Rhyeline may seem, a secret hidden strength emerges in her dark, unwavering gaze. Magnus Troy was no saint and the girl has borne a curse keeping death an ever present threat. She is a more resilient creature than she may seem and loyal to a fault. At the command, she follows, clinging to his arm.

The chamber within is almost otherworldy. While the walls are still glass, they are transparent. But through them, the world outside is seen as if in a dream state. Colours are muted, but contrasts are more distinct, shadows deeper. Everything has a twilight veil over it, and the sky…the sky is endless stars — more than could ever be seen by the human eye — as well as moons and planets, impossibly large, as if they were stage props hung on a backdrop. The floor of the circular chamber is marble, and set into it is a mural of sorts, depicting two ravens with wings outstretched, surrounding a pattern of a traditional labyrinth — such as those found in cathedrals — but comprised of several serpents forming the path. "Welcome to my Tranquility Chamber."

Gazing wide-eyed up at the moons and planets, at the deep shadows through the glass, something about this place seems to overwhelm the girl, making her seem like a little mouse once more. Though she clings to Cassius' arm, she remains steadfast at his side. Watchful of what may come next, but unwavering. At her core, the strength is true.

"I'm sorry, I know it can be disorienting. But you have nothing to fear," Cassius says, his liquid calm voice echoing strangely inside the dome. "This is a place of peace and introspection. I find it necessary to come here to settle my mind and control…outside influences." He gestures to the raven mural on the floor. "Huginn and Muniin. 'Thought and Memory.' I take the ravens of Odin as inspiration, to remind me of what Odin sacrificed to achieve wisdom and insight."

Ever soft spoken, Rhyeline's voice seems melodic in this chamber of echoes. "Which reminds of the sacrifices you yourself must make?" The mouse has become a nightingale warbling a sweet, wistful song. The sound of it seems to surprise the girl, keeping her from saying more just yet.

"Those I have made, and those I have yet to make," Cassius says with a hint of sadness. "But that is only part of the function of this place. You see, Rhyeline, I am a trained Legilimens. I'm quite talented at it, in fact. So I become rather accustomed to being exposed to the thoughts of others. It is in this chamber that I can find myself once again."

Rhyeline hadn't known Cassius was a Legilimens, but she nods without so much as blinking. Perhaps it makes perfect sense to her. "With so much introspection, you must know yourself better than most."

Cassius smiles warmly at her as he wanders the labyrinth carved into the floor. "I would like to think I do. I tried to express as much to you some months ago. It is only my own self-awareness that gives me the balance I need to achieve my aims. Much of that self-awareness is made possible by knowing the minds of others. Of course, the only way to assure that I can view another's mind without bias or prejudice is if they are unaware that I am doing so. For this reason, I am not registered with the Improper Use of Magic Office. This is the secret I impart upon you today. If it became known that I am an unregistered Legilimens, it could jeopardize the entire party."

Rhyeline knew he was not registered and the implications are not lost on her. However, she doesn't seem troubled in the slightest. In fact, a small smile touches her lips and tilting her head to the side, she murmurs, "Might this be how you came to trust me so much easier than I was able to trust you?"

Cassius chuckles, giving her a boyish smile, like a lad just caught with his hand in the cookie jar. "Yes and no. Yes, I have explored your mind once, when I felt the need to understand your motivations. But my trust in you was built on your actions, not your thoughts."

Rhyeline's laughter is sweet and impish, almost like that of a child. Her eyes shine with mirth, as if having caught said boy stealing the cookies. Leaning close as she hugs his arm, she says, "I see. So you did look inside me." Pausing, she ponders a moment before asking a bit more softly, "And- what did you see? Besides my motives… what would you need to center yourself after witnessing?" Pandora was a curious a creature as this one is.

Cassius stops walking, and turns her face her, loosing his arm from hers. "Please understand that I don't get to control what I see, Rhyeline. I can follow certain threads, but sometimes I find something unexpected. Are you certain you want to know what I experienced?"

Rhyeline releases his arm but keeps close as she gazes up at him. Despite the subtle apprehension in her gaze, she nods.

Cassius clasps his hands before him, assuming a neutral, formal stance. "I needed to understand your relationship with Ambassador Troy. You might recall that I coaxed your thoughts by speaking about him. That led me to memories of a somewhat intimate nature. There was a sense of being his."

Rhyeline clasps her hands behind her back as Cassius assumes such a stance, but she doesn't draw back. What he says next makes her blush deeper than he's ever seen. Though she lowers her gaze, she still keeps close. "Dark memories haunted me in the months I was alone. But- I do not have your gift for introspection. There's a reason I asked for work. I wanted to distract myself." Peeking back up at him, she adds, "And- despite this weakness of my nature…" She trails off with a question in her eyes and the gentle biting of her lower lip.

Cassius arches an eyebrow sharply. "Weakness? Your desire to be needed? Perhaps even owned? It is as much a strength as a weakness. It is part of who and what you are. Light and dark. Kept in balance, and fully self-realized, it can make you powerful."

Rhyeline hesitates, biting her lower lip before she murmurs, "I don't desire to be owned. It's not that. But- for someone to care- to want me so badly? To want me to be theirs? I think that is different. To be a possession, I might be one of many in a collection. I never wanted to be one of his women. Never." That strength has flared bright in dark gaze as she gazes up at Cassius with intense emotion.

Cassius smiles softly. "Forgive me. I didn't necessarily mean to imply anything sexual. I meant more in the realm of being coveted, if that makes sense. In any event, I believe I understand your meaning now. I hope I have not embarrassed you too deeply. I realize how legilimency can feel like a violation. One of many reasons I keep my ability a secret."

Rhyeline nods a bit. "I understand. And- I appreciate that you understand me so well, although- now I feel more ashamed for how I reacted when I came to learn more of you. I appreciate so much that you allow me close once more."

Cassius allows himself a light chuckle. "You needn't be ashamed. I fear that my somewhat unique situation leads me to be unintentionally mysterious at times. I forget that others do not have the kind of perception that I do."

"I should have been as accepting as I swore I would be. I want very much to understand you, to learn the things you still shelter me from. But- as time goes on- I hope you knowing me as well as you do, will help make sure that-" Rhyeline hesitates, biting her lower lip. "That I won't misunderstand my own place and what I may mean to you. You are difficult for me to read."

Cassius nods, furrowing his brow in apology. "I know. It's an old habit. I've never been particularly forthcoming about anything I didn't need to. I learned even as a child not to tell people the whole truth if showing them what they wanted to see would suffice. I suppose it's what makes me a successful politician. I fear that, as a result, I haven't had many close friendships. I hope you'll be patient with me as I grow more accustomed to this closeness."

"I'll do my best," she murmurs, drawing close enough to take grasp of the fabric of his wizard robe (or whatever he's wearing at the moment). Tilting her head to the side, with a bit of a grin, she says, "I know I must matter to you. Your actions have shown me enough. But- for example- have you ever brought any one else here before?"

Cassius stares evenly at her when she draws so near, observant and utterly calm. "One other. A person who means more to me than the world itself. My sister, Edwarlinda. She was deeply in need of my help. I had to delve into the very depths of her essence, and this is the only place that I feel safe risking such a thing."

Rhyeline's gaze widens, filling with a subtle look of awe. She knows well how close Cassius is with his sister, and respects the woman enough to value most highly being counted as trusted. In a soft, hushed tone, she murmurs, "No one else? Not even Alis?" Out of respect, it's as if she didn't hear his hint regarding what took place between him and his sister.

Cassius shakes his head solemnly. "I imagine I would have, one day, had she remained. It was part of the reason I had her trained in Occlumency as well. But there was never a call for it. My relationship with Alis has always been…practical. This isn't to say we are not close. I trust her implicitly. With my life, in fact. But that isn't the same thing as trusting somebody with one's secrets."

"I am your secret keeper?" murmurs Rhyeline, clinging just a bit tighter to his robe. There has always been a slight touch of detachment in Rhyeline's manner when it comes to Alis. Her desire to be unique, to not be one of many and easily forgotten, is a powerful one.

Cassius nods, gently placing his hands over hers. With a light touch, he pulls them free of his garment, and holds them between their bodies, clasping his larger hands around hers. "You are. Guard my secrets well, for they can be weapons in our hands…or our enemies'."

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