(1938-09-23) Trust and Trepidation
Details for Trust and Trepidation
Summary: Rhyeline updates Cassius on the progress of her health.
Date: September 23, 1938
Location: Rhyeline's Flat, London

Rhyeline's Flat, 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 night air at last carries a subtle nip of cold now that summer has faded into fall. A crackling fire brings a warm illumination to Rhyeline's sitting room. When a man is as busy as Cassius Malfoy, afternoon tea must instead be a late night cup of coffee. Flicking her supple, cypress wand the tea set on her coffee table comes to life and soon a cup of something warm and reassuring settles into each of their hands.

Instead of taking up her usual spot in the armchair closest to the fire, Rhyeline curls up close next to Cassius on the small loveseat. This is new for her, and though she tries to be nonchalant about it, she sneaks a hesitant peek up at him as she takes a long, slow sip of her tea.

Even when relaxing, Cassius maintains the posture of gentlemanly civility. He isn't stiff, but his every movement and position is carefully controlled, from his slightly lifted chin, to his elegantly crossed leg. He lifts his tea for a light sip, testing the heat. "Mmm. Delicious, of course. Do I detect a hint of lemon?"

Rhyeline slips her feet out of her ballet flats and tucks them beneath herself. "Yes," she murmurs. "And- it's a new blend as well. I hoped you would like it…" The girl's usual reserve has been fading over the last few months. Each time they are alone, that rare warmth shines with greater strength than before.

Cassius demonstrates his preference with another sip. "Very much so. But you didn't invite me here just to share a new blend of tea. What is on your keen little mind?"

Rhyeline nods before taking a small sip of tea, hoping to hide the subtle blush warming her cheeks. It isn't difficult to embaress her, even with the most gentle of compliments. "Well, Healer Keenan showed me the results of the most recent set of tests…" She keeps her gaze lowered, taking another sip.

Cassius nods slowly, allowing a coy smirk to form on his lips. "Mmmmhmm; and what is the obsessively controlling Healer's diagnosis now?"

Rhyeline peeks up at Cassius. "He scared me so bad at first- showed me two pictures. The first showed the curse within me from a few months ago. The other, from the recent test. Before, its threads had found their way throughout my entire system. But now, it's… more concentrated. He said this was a good thing."

Cassius nods, giving her a reassuring smile. "That's excellent news. We'll have this thing beaten yet. How are you feeling?"

Rhyeline seems much warmed by Cassius' smile. Nodding, she murmurs, "Much better… Though-" she hesitates, averting her gaze briefly. "Mmm… Keenan said that- that I shouldn't return to work just yet…"

Cassius chuckles, shaking his head and sighing softly. "I expected as much. Did he deign to explain why? Or is he simply terrified of the shadows of uncertainty that cause him to warn you away from apothecaries that could help you?"

"He mentioned wanting to speak with you about it… about my condition and- and under what circumstances I could return soon to work. But-" The warmth of Rhyeline's blush deepens. Not looking up at him, she continues, "-but it would involve a great deal of trouble on your part, and- and I explained that you would be too busy to look after me like that." She is clinging rather tight to the cup in her hands.

Cassius huffs, frowning slightly. "Nonsense. We'll make whatever accommodations are necessary. But before we go to any lengths, I insist upon a second opinion. This is a lesson you should apply to every aspect of your life, Rhyeline. Never allow a single person to have total authority over any aspect of your life. To do so invite that person to unleash their biases unchecked."

Rhyeline's gaze flickers up at the huff. The shyness of her dark gaze only deepens, however, and hiding a bit behind her cup of tea, after a small sip, she nods. "I have been speaking with- with your aunt… Madam Ismene Malfoy… she… she has taken an interest and intends to speak with Keenan. Although- I am more and- and more worried what might happen if she learns that my father is not a pure-blood."

"Don't mention it to her," Cassius warns softly. "If it comes up, I will deal with her. Though you can be certain she has noted that Diderot is not a pure-blood name she recognizes. If she hasn't yet poured venom in your ear over that, she likely will not. However, I would be cautious about putting her and Healer O'Shea in the same room. His pedigree is far less impressive, and a healer's ego isn't likely to suffer her barbs gracefully."

Rhyeline gazes at Cassius for a time and when at last she looks back down into her cup of tea, she shifts just a bit so that her shoulder brushes against his arm. "I am sure she assumes my mother married into a lesser known pure-blood family in France. I hope very much that- that she never finds out…" Keeping her gaze lowered, she continues, "But- as for Keenan… she knows of him and asked that I provide her with a letter of introduction so that she might approach him and discuss matters directly."

Cassius's features tighten in worry. "It's your decision, of course. But you have my advice. From what I know of each of them, I wouldn't expect such a meeting to go smoothly."

Rhyeline gives a small nod, but then murmurs, "I… she didn't give me much choice. She grew quite irritated with me when I delayed writing the letter. Perhaps-" biting her lower lip, she peeks up at him "-perhaps you might explain to her a bit about Keenan?"

Cassius arches an eyebrow at her as he leans forward to set his teacup down. "Explain what? That he's an Irish half-blood that refuses to allow anyone else to help you? You do understand how that will sound to her, don't you? I'm afraid this is the situation at hand. I cannot change it."

Rhyeline shifts when Cassius leans forward, but then settles back against him. "Well… I'm not sure if there's anything I can do either. She-" Rhyeline bites her lower lip, and seems to decide not to finish what she'd been about to say. Instead, she peeks up at Cassius once more. "Cassius… I… I've been wondering…"

Cassius rests his hands, fingers clasped, over his knee and tilts his his to look at her. "By all means, speak your mind. What have you wondered?"

Rhyeline's cheeks are quite warm as her gaze darts back down into her empty tea cup. She is quiet for a few moments before shaking her head a bit. "N-never mind. It's nothing… I- Thank you Cassius… for- for all you have done for me…"

Cassius grins wide, showing off his well-formed teeth. Behind his amusement, there is a hint of something predatory there — the dragon has caught a scent. "Now, now. I didn't have you train in Occlumency to keep things from me. Don't make me dig. You must always speak freely with me when we are in private."

With an empty teacup, she has no excuse in hiding behind it. Biting her lower lip, she hesitates a moment more before murmuring, "The things you said… about- about keeping balance… between the light and- and the dark… I've- I've been pondering them."

"Very good. Where have your ponderings taken you?" His grin remains broad, and even excited. Little compares to the thrill of exploring another's thoughts, whether via Legilimency or simple conversation.

Rhyeline tucks a loose strand of her long, dark hair behind her ear. "I was told that- that the curse was meant to- to take root and draw strength from darkness- the darkness that exists in each of us. Ambassador Troy's darkness was strong… mine- mine is weak… and that's why the healers have been able to keep me alive." She almost forgets and tries to take a sip of tea. Remembering her cup is empty, she sets it aside. Blushing bright, she still hasn't lifted her gaze.

"I have thoughts on that. But please, go on." Cassius gives a rolling gesture to urge her to continue. "What conclusions have you reached?"

"I haven't- I mean… I- I've been… been frightened to- to allow myself to seek balance. Instead I've… tried to hide from the darkness…" Biting her lower lip she peeks up at him at last. "I've wondered- what would happen if I stopped hiding… would- would the curse grow stronger?"

Cassius gently rests a hand atop Rhyeline's. "Well, that leads me to my thoughts on the nature of your curse. Your Healer O'Shea may be skilled at managing the spread of the curse's effects. But I don't believe he had truly ascertained its cause. You say it feeds on one's inner 'darkness'. But 'darkness' is a very broad and subjective term. I doubt that whomever created this nasty little curse could have attuned it to every emotion and impulse one might consider 'dark'. A wizard of that skill could have easily created something much more specific to Ambassador Troy. I posit that this curse feeds upon something much more specific, and the key to destroying or controlling it is in identifying what that specific thing is."

Beneath his hand, hers remains perfectly still, like a field mouse caught in the shadow of a hawk. Rhyeline's dark gaze shines with the innocence of her nature. "It was created for him. It was meant to succeed- slow, but definite. But- how would- how might we discover what specific aspect of darkness gives it strength?"

Cassius gives her hand one light squeeze before retracting it. "By examining what we know of his mental proclivities, and yours. We find what you have in common, and what you do not. What facet of his makeup is strong, that is also weak within you. For instance, we now know that he was a Dark wizard, willing to dominate others through the Imperius Curse. While you prefer to serve. This shows us that he believes himself superior to his victims, or that his goals are more important than the independence of any one individual. This hubris could be what the curse was meant to latch onto. You, however, lack such ambition and arrogance. I would go so far as to say it is almost nonexistent in you. You are driven by a need to be needed, to serve, to strive toward a higher ideal, whether or not you receive any credit. I daresay, I suspect you would prefer not to receive any public praise for your work, should it come with much attention."

Rhyeline is left dazed by what he has said. She parts her lips to speak, but her voice fails her. Hesitating, she averts her gaze and answers instead by drawing closer, slipping an arm beneath his and holding to him gently. At last, she murmurs ever so softly, "Your eyes are so clear." Biting her lower lip, she pauses a moment. "It seems that… that the true dark shades of my nature- they aren't what gives my curse strength… instead- it's the impulse to control others… to be the one to dominate that- that gives it strength." Her arm tightens around his ever so slightly as her thoughts linger in frightening places. Almost whispering, she says, "Do you suppose… what if- what if in- hiding from my nature I've- I've been allowing the curse to take hold as much as it has?" She clings to him tight, her heart quickening at the frightening thought.

Cassius again lays a hand over hers, patting it reassuringly. "It is worth examining. Rhyeline…given that this curse seems to be tied to some deeper part of your essence — be it the drive to dominate, or some other facet of your being — it is possible that I might be able to help you, using my own gifts. If you were to allow me into your mind, I could attempt to explore it, and I might even find some trace of the curse and see what gives it strength."

Rhyeline doesn't quite seem to know how to respond. The weight of such an offer is not lost on her. At last, she gives a small nod. "Even though- I served at your side for so long- I've never learned to read you- or to see anything other than what you've shown me. But still- I trust you. What matters is that- you will keep me safe. Yes?" A subtle edge of apprehension glimmers in her dark gaze even as she clings to him.

Cassius uncrosses his legs, shifting to face her. He meets her gaze with his own intensity, speaking in a quiet, firm voice. "No harm will come to you in this, I promise. All I can do is observe. I cannot affect anything in your mind. If there is any risk, it will be to me, should it become necessary to go that deep…and assuming it is even possible to do so."

"I've never let anyone as close as you, Cassius. And now, with this, I- I'm letting you even closer. I see your mask and nothing more. I want to see a bit of what is hidden. I know it's not in your nature to let others close, but… it isn't in mine either." Rhyeline hesitates, ensnared as she gazes up into his eyes. "I want to know you, Cassius."

"Patience, little mouse." Cassius grins, catlike. "I wouldn't want to frighten you off by showing you too much, too quickly. But you know that I've already shown you more than most anyone else has ever seen."

The lingering warmth in Rhyeline's cheeks deepens, but his words seem to reassure her. Nodding, she bites her lower lip before drawing closer than she ever has, slipping her arms tight around his chest. She hides against him a moment before drawing back. Tucking another stray strand of hair behind her ear, she doesn't look up at him just yet. "Is- will there be anything that- that you won't be able to find? Won't be able to see?"

Cassius permits the closeness without complaint, laying a hand on her shoulder as she hugs him so. "That I cannot know. Legilimency is an art, not a science. Every mind is a unique labyrinth, and from what I've already seen of yours, it has some special twists and turns. I don't even know for certain if I'll be able to go deep…to the core of you. That requires unquestioning trust, and I rather hope it won't be necessary.

Rhyeline dwells on this choice of hers for a bit longer than she might have had she nothing to hide. Or perhaps, her nature is more cautious than one might have suspected. Standing on the edge, the risk is great, but so might be the benefits. Lifting her eyes at last to meet his, she nods. "If it will help discover from what my curse draws strength, then- then please… please look."

Cassius watches her curiously, pinching his lips. "You hesitate. That will make it difficult if it becomes necessary to delve deep. Impossible, I suspect. But…perhaps it will not require that. In either case, I'd rather not do it here. We will have greater success in my sanctum, and it will give us both time to prepare ourselves mentally."

Rhyeline's dark gaze has always been bright and expressive. When keeping secrets, she has never lied, but instead relied on half-truths and deflection. Though she averts her gaze and nods, Cassius may catch the subtle relief in the little mouse's eyes. "Yes- that might be best. Give me time to- to prepare." She peeks back up at him. "When the time comes, I won't hesitate. I promise."

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