(1938-10-01) The Mouse Speaks Up for Unity
Details for The Mouse Speaks up for Unity
Summary: Rhyeline and Phil meet at Cafe Tasseo for tea and Astoria joins them. Before long, the topic turns to current events. Rhyeline surprises the two Daily Prophet reporters by speaking up with great passion about the pressing need for action to change the present course of history. Afterwards, Phil warns Rhyeline to be careful because wizarding politics can be dangerous.
Date: Tuesday, October 1st, 1938
Location: Cafe Tasseo, London

Cafe Tasseo

Named for the art of Tasseomancy (Tea Leaf Reading), the posh Cafe Tasseo offers complimentary tea leaf reading to its customers. The cafe has a sort of French elegance to it, but it is much less flagrant, which makes it pure British. The chairs are all padded dining chairs of mahogany and golden embossed fabric one would expect to find in a Louis XIV style without all the pomp of leaves and flanges, just smooth curvaceous lines of mahogany. The use of mahogany, gold and pristine white is throughout the spacious room.

The ceiling is a floral mosaic of white and gold with chandeliers and light fixtures dangling from the mosaic in appropriate places. The gold gilding continues into the walls, accenting raised relief panels on the columns between the windows. The panels share the floral motif of the ceiling, intricately crafted down to the last detail. The windows themselves are just as magnificently turned out; the top quarter is draped in gold shades, the bottom half covered by white sheers, allowing the patrons privacy yet letting ample light through the uncovered section of glass.

Even at the height of the lunch-time rush, Cafe Tasseo maintains an atmosphere of refined grace. The quiet conversations stand in sharp contrast to the roaring laughter of the Leaky Cauldron. The clear fall sunlight streams in through the sheer curtains, warming the pristine table cloths.

Rhyeline sits sipping a cup of tea, gazing out through the curtains at the hustle and bustle of North Verdic Alley. For once, no book sits open on her table. Instead, it seems she is waiting for someone.

Like a whirlwind of sensation Phil sweeps into the tea shoppe - a flash of vibrant autumnal colours and scents clinging to her. With a breathy smile she drops down onto the chair across from Rhyeline, "I am not late I hope." She isn't but she does like to check. "We had a bit of a to-do at work. A subeditor didn't do their fact checking and it is chaos. Now they have to find a new story to replace the one which was going to run under the fold on the front page."

A soft smile warms Rhyeline's reserved manner as Phil joins her table. At the mention of the incident at work, the little one's dark gaze widens. "Oh dear. Yes. So good that they caught that," she murmurs. "But- em… how are you?"

"I am well thank you. It wasn't my story and I am not the one in trouble." Phil seems rather cheerful about one of her colleagues being lambasted by the editor. She motions to catch the attention of a waitress and places an order for some tea.

Sitting across from Phil at a small table, Rhyeline hides a bit of a grin behind her teacup, taking a sip. "I see…" she murmurs. "Well, I'm relieved that the misinformation wasn't published. The Daily Prophet is important to my research…"

For all that she was a whirlwind of activity when she arrived Phil sits properly. This is a place of decorum and refinery. Smoothing the napkin over her lap as she waits for her tea and that cake - yes she ordered one of those too - to arrive, she looks at Rhyeline who sits across from her. "We do try to make a habbit of only publishing cooberated information. That is why the subeditor was put through the ringer."

Rhyeline nods with quiet approval, taking another sip of tea. The little mouse maintains a muted presence next to Phil, though her dark eyes are watchful, full of bright curiosity. "And… how are your current stories going? I've been looking forward to reading your next article."

Phil leans back as the waitress brings over her order. She watches as the witch sets out the various accoutrements one has when ordering tea in a place like the Cafe Tasseo and that lovely slice of cake. When the woman has left Phil responds to Rhyeline's question. "I wrote a few pices while away on holiday and am waiting to see if the editor decides to run them. While she does that I am getting back to work on my series of reknown missing persons."

Rhyeline's gaze widens just a bit as the curiosity brightens in her dark gaze. With a soft, hopeful little smile, she leans forward a bit and asks, "You wrote pieces while travelling? Tell me about them?"

The bell above the door chimes merrily while Astoria, who wears matte-black robes that are nearly too long, strides into the room. The door snaps shut behind her as the bell tolls a second time, though she does not stand in the doorway. While approaching a counter, Astoria notices Phil, a coworker. Astoria's expression assumes a practiced, professional air before her eyes light up in acknowledgement. Fancy seeing you, they seem to say.

At the chime of the door Phil's gaze lifts in that direction. She offers Astoria a polite nod before turning her attention back to Rhyeline. "We were in Italy when the Germans invaded the Sudentenland. It was very tense. I managed to speak with a few local members of the wizarding community and someone from the IMC in Venice while we were there."

Rhyeline's hands tighten around the teacup she rests upon the table. "Phil… could- could you send me copies of those? Early? Please? I- I would love so much to-" Upon catching sight of Astoria gazing across the restaurant at them, the girl falls silent. Drawing back a bit, she brings the cup of tea to her lips, hiding behind it a bit as she gazes over at the unfamiliar woman.

Astoria diverts her progress towards Phil and Rhyeline. She moves briskly, but not without grace. When she is close, Astoria pauses and says, in a voice full of crisp diction, "Would it be inappropriate to join you?" She looks between the two women while a smile gently curves across her lips.

"Rhyeline, this is Astoria Bletchley. She too writes for the Daily Prophet." Phil glances at her quiet companion as if silently asking permission, leaving it entirely up to Rhyeline. All of this - this glance asking is done over the rim of her tea cup.

It takes a moment for Rhyeline to recognize the silent request for permission, perhaps unaccustomed to such deference. With slight hesitation, the girl gives a small nod. Peeking back up at Astoria, the girl rests her teacup upon the table once more and murmurs, "Pleased to meet you, Ms. Bletchley… Your work- I've always found it so- so insightful…" The girl's soft, snow-white cheeks grow rather warm as she blushes, after having stumbled so much over her words.

"Misses Rowle, you needn't be so formal," Astoria says sharply in a tone without a hint of humor… despite the coy wink that follows it. She turns her attention to Rhyeline, to whom she smiles, though her teeth do not quite show. "You are quite kind, my dear. But, as they say, it pays the bill." Her smile fades before she assumes a seat, quietly, and crosses one leg over the other.

"You look well Astoria," Phil says to her colleague. "Were you in the office earlier when the sports subeditor was chews up by the editor for poor fact checking? Lowering her cup to the table Phil swaps it for the cake fork which came with her slice of spiced lemon cake. "I am sorry, forgive me…this is my friend Rhyeline Diderot."

The warmth in Rhyeline's cheeks lingers as the little one gives Astoria a small nod of greeting. "Pleased to meet you," she murmurs. At the Leaky Cauldron, her voice would never have carried over the din. Even here, it requires keen hearing to pick up.

"So…," begins Phil as she looks over at Rhyeline, "I brought you something from Greece." She sets the fork aside and reaches into her cloak to pull a small wrapped box from her pocket. "For your birthday. I know it is a bit early."

"Despite the pleasantness of the Daily Prophet offices," Astoria begins, tone wrapped in thick sarcasm, "I do not often find myself in its corridors. Alas that I missed the chewing, however," her tone is more sincere, "as our editor /does/ provide good chew." She winks towards Rhyeline. "A pleasure, Miss Diderot - what a lovely name." She pauses, hawk-like focus set on Rhyeline. A moment later she adds, "I should visit this office today, perhaps there will be residuals." She stands. "But first, I will see about some tea."

Rhyeline's shyness only deepens as Astoria bestows the small compliment. Hiding behind her teacup, she takes an implausibly long, slow sip. The little one seems to calm a bit once she and Phil are alone once more. The small wrapped box seems to catch the little one rather off guard. Or perhaps it was the mention of the birthday. Setting down her teacup, she peeks up at Phil. She parts her lips to speak, but then hesitates. At last, she just offers Phil a soft, warm smile and accepts the gift. Catching sight of the exquisite little charm bracelet with a parthenon charm, the girl gives a soft, delighted little gasp. "It's- it's beautiful," she murmurs.

Amused by Astoria a faint grin turns up the corners of Phil's mouth. "I hope to hear a bit more of it myself when I go back," she admits. Attention once more finds itself focused on the petite Frenchwoman. "I am glad you like it. You will have to try and add more charms to it with your own travels."

Rhyeline holds the charm bracelet in her hands and presses them to her chest. At the thought of travelling the world and adding charms one by one to it, her dark gaze seems to shine. With a small nod and a soft smile, she murmurs, "I will… when I am- am able to return to work… I will try to- to travel more as well… Thank you so much, Phil. This is a wonderful gift." Biting her lower lip, she hesitates for just a moment before rising and approaching to thank Phil with a little hug.

Astoria orders her cup of tea and waits for it. Quietly. When it arrives she pays, offering the attendant a brief smile, and turns to resume her company. She steps carefully, moving with the same amount of grace as before, and resumes her seat with a rumpling of robes.

Phil graciously accepts the small hug and smiles at Rhyeline then picks up her cake fork again. "Working on anything interesting at the moment, Astoria?" The question is posed conversationally to keep things moving rather in the sense of one who is looking to steal a scoop.

Rhyeline returns to her seat, blushing, before Astoria reaches the table once more. The little one tucks away the early birthday gift before taking up her cup of tea once more. A waiter had refilled it when Rhyeline was hugging Phil.

Astoria sips her tea, ignoring any burns it may cause, and looks up towards Phil. "Oh, yes. An important piece, I believe, but with a greater interest for older students and young adults." She clears her throat and sets her cup down. "It is titled, 'The Most Powerful Magic,' and is framed around a bit of advice I received while taking my OWLs. It has been, and most assuredly always will be, an interest of mine." She smiles towards both women, gaze lingering briefly on Rhyeline. "And yourself?" she asks Phil.

"I have been doing a series on missing witches and wizards of reknown. The first one was that piece about David Hewson, the oblivator who disappeared two days after his first court hearing." Phil breaks a bit more of her cake off with her fork. "I'm now putting together one on a member of a purist family who went abroad for a business meeting and failed to turn up. She has been gone for about ten years."

Rhyeline seems content to listen for the moment. In truth, the conversation surrounding the work the two reporters are doing seems to intrigue the little mouse, even fascinate. Taking small, occasional sips of tea, she listens with quiet curiosity.

Astoria's eyebrow raises while Phil speaks, but it doesn't last long. Her eyes resume their focused state before she answers, in precise, clipped tones, "How intriguing. As depressing as it may seem, members of our community are lost far too often. I wonder - have you discovered any connections amongst the missing persons?"

With a faint shake of her head Phil indicates she has not. "No, the first…Hewson. I am certain he was attacked by werewolves. Such a shame as that, I can understand if he decided never to return to polite society. He may be dead, that is what his family believe since it has been nearly twenty years since he disapeared."

Rhyeline's dark gaze flickers between Astoria and Phil, listening to their conversation with great interest. Perhaps she should consider a career working for the Daily Prophet as well, able to listen and absorb information as well as she does. It's when it comes to asking questions, poking and prodding for more, that she might fall short.

"A tale that is too often sung," Astoria replies with a brief sigh. She begins to say more, but pauses in favor of forcing herself to smile. A moment later, she adds, "I wish you the best on your research, and do /hope/ that you are careful. Such topics often illicit the very worst superstitions." Her attention turns briefly to Rhyeline, who she focuses on, again, for several moments. A question forms on her expression, but it never reaches her lips.

Phil nods noncomittally, her gaze flicking to note Rhyeline's rapt attention. Deciding to shift into safer waters she says, "I was speaking to a contact at the Ministry this morning when the news of the Appeasement broke. There is a real concern that it will not last and war may happen regardless."

Rhyeline hesitates as Astoria fixes such attention upon her. The subtle warmth in her cheeks deepens once more. Biting her lower lip, the little mouse glances over at Phil before looking down into her cup of tea. She watches Astoria sitting next to her out of the corner of her eye. The new topic of conversation lifts girl's gaze. The news hasn't surprised her, it seems. With a small nod, she murmurs, "Diplomatic efforts will continue to fail… that is why the work of the Unity Party grows increasingly urgent…"

Astoria listens quietly as the conversation shifts. After taking note of Rhyeline's blush, however, she turns her attention to other attractions - her tea, for instance, which she also sips. After both women speak, Astoria says, "We should not have been so cruel to the Germans. The muggle treaty was, and remains, too harsh. I dare say, Germany has suffered enough, and now they may seek further recompense." She smoothes her hair a little. "During the final year of my stay there I grew… quite worried. Quite worried, indeed."

Phil reaches for her cup of tea and brings it to her mouth, taking a sip. "You were in Germany, Astoria? I have never been but have heard things are dire. I saw poverty in Italy, Greece and Turkey while on my recent trip. Repercussions from the global depression."

Rhyeline listens to Astoria in watchful silence. Perhaps the little one recognizes her from their brief encounter in Berlin at a diplomatic function, not long before wizarding diplomatic efforts collapsed after a fifth attempt on Ambassador Troy's life. Rhyeline's gaze flickers to Phil. Nodding, she murmurs, "Quite dire. And yet- so many wizards feel that muggle affairs are none of their concern. They don't realize that- that muggle and wizard- we are all human… Even though we live in seclusion- we still share one world…" Each time the girl emerges from her silence, she speaks with a quiet fervor.

Astoria nods in agreement with Rhyeline. "In a sense, Germany is a powerful, wonderful place to live. The people there are thrilled, enthralled even, with the new government. Yet, I do not think they realize what their government /is doing/." She reclines a little. "It is my hope that we do not remain aloof for long. As Rhyeline states, it may not be our place to interfere with day-to-day affairs, but the prevention of a second war is an entirely different matter."

As the other two speak Phil drinks more of her tea, even going so far as to top it up from the small pot she had been given. "I suppose the appeasement might offer some breathing room for a while." Her brows draw together as she frowns. "The fascists in Italy are already making their pressures known. They are not fond of our kind there. We pose too much of a threat. I expect there will be an exodus or everyone will use charms and go into hiding."

"Our secret diplomatic efforts have failed… Appeasement gives us time, but not much. The only way we can avert the danger of history's present course will be to step out of the shadows," murmurs Rhyeline. Those who know the girl will perhaps be struck by the irony of the mouse advocating an emergence from seclusion. "Both of you have strong voices through the Daily Prophet… I hope that- that your articles- they will lead us to action. There is not much time."

Astoria raises an eyebrow after Rhyeline's words. She sips her tea silently, allowing a moment to pass before setting it aside and locking her hands together. "I admit, I am a touch surprised by your words - the Statute of Secrecy has been a topic of controversy since its implementation. Though I daresay it has had its benefits. To undue them could create great harm." She uncrosses one leg and her gaze dulls, but only slightly, while her brow wrinkles in anticipation.

"The Daily Prophet is not a voice…it is not known for being proactive. More reactive. If anything we will do what we always do, being British, we will wait and see what happens and then react accordingly with the intention of telling others that what we did was most oportune when we likely could have stepped in earlier." Phil grins a little and looks at Astoria as if expecting the older woman to contradict her.

Rhyeline shakes her head. "There is always fear of change. But the consequences of doing nothing in this moment of history will be far greater. And- if we are able to unite behind this effort- we could implement changes in the most peaceful way possible, instead of letting more radical forces in Europe control things. And- and just because- because the Prophet isn't known for being proactive- we are at a time of great changes… can this not change as well?" Rhyeline's cheeks are flushed and her eyes shine as she falls silent, watching the two reporters earnestly.

Astoria chuckles. "The nature of journalism is, indeed, to report - the news should never be in the business of instruction, but rather presentation. That is the work of correspondents like myself, though we walk a thin line." She narrows her focus on Rhyeline. "I could, perhaps, make an effort my dear. The Prophet itself, however, should remain a source of news, in my opinion. Separate publications should take to the sea of opinion." She reclines slightly, glancing between the two other women. "How did you come by these convictions, Rhyeline?" she wonders, shooting Phil a small smile afterward.

The passionate explosion of words that come gushing from Rhyeline make Phil blink with surprise. She leans back in her chair, crossing her legs beneath the table as she regards her friend with curiousity. Her dark head bobs in agreement with Astoria. Of the two of them the older witch has far more status at the newspaper than Phil does, even if her name carries a lot of weight in many circles.

"Articles are never a simple list of facts," murmurs Rhyeline, withdrawing behind her teacup once more. Peeking over at the two reporters, she adds, "You sift through the confusion of reality and tell the stories… and- if you tell the right stories- that will help spark action." Peeking over at Astoria specifically, the little one hesitates before murmuring, "Having witnessed the failure of our diplomatic efforts, I realized that unless we step out of the shadows, we cannot influence. And- the need to intervene- I came by this conviction through the stories my family in France told me about what they experienced- despite their seclusion- during the Great War."

Astoria listens to Rhyeline quietly, nodding after her mention of sparking action. "The right story, the right words, and the right time, I believe is the saying," Astoria affirms. "I can see that you have a stubborn resolve," she continues, smiling all the while, "I will think on your request. But do not be disappointed if it is not publishes tomorrow morning, or even a week from now." She winks and pushes herself to stand. "Please excuse me, I have a small matter to attend to."

Phil nods her goodbyes to Astoria as the other woman makes to slip away and then turns her attention back to Rhyeline. "Things are not easy. There are reprocussions for people who speak up sometimes." She pushes her plate aside. "Whatever I do or say is looked at through the lense of my family. My lineage."

Rhyeline rests her cup of tea back down and nods at what Phil says. "Yes… I understand. Cassius, he- he encountered the same trouble. But- to allow the fear of consequences to keep us from doing what we can… that is the worst failure of all…" She bites her lower lip, hesitating now that she has said so much.

"Cassius has wonderful convictions and a great passion. He is an intriguing man, but if he falls from grace he will be forgiven. He will be picked up and dusted off and allowed to return to the fold because he was born into the Malfoy family," says Phil gently, a hint of a warning there for her friend. "Not everyone who follows him has the same…clout behind them or the same opportunity if things do not pan out as they hope."

Rhyeline lowers her gaze for a moment, taking a small sip of tea. "Yes… that is true. Perhaps- perhaps I am not as concerned for the future as- as one should be…" Peeking back up at Phil, she murmurs, "I understand your hesitation…"

"Goodness knows there are ways in which I do not toe the line, but I have the advantage Cassius does. I am from an equally powerful and well known family." Just one a bit less scary. "Be careful, Rhyeline. You are a dear friend and I would not wish to see you hurt. Wizarding politics can turn ugly sometimes."

A soft smile warms Rhyeline's lips. The little one knows all too well how dangerous wzarding politics can turn. "I decided long ago not to allow fear to influence my choices… and perhaps if I had- I would live longer. But- would my life have mattered as much?"

Phil opens her mouth only to close it and then open it again, "Just promise me you will be a bit careful, Rhyeline. What happened before was awful but Cassius is getting himself some serious enemies or has the potential to." She reaches over and squeezes Rhye's hand. "Just look before you leap."

Rhyeline's cheeks grow warm as Phil shows such concerned affection. "…I am careful. And- I your concern, it- it means a lot to me. But- I hope that you will not worry so much. You see… even though- Healer Keenan has- has done so much for me. But- I feel death ever present… It's never far. At the end of the day, I might slip away at last… so- what matters most is- is living well /now/. And if something ever does happen, please know, I- I don't have regrets…" The little one bites her lower lip as she watches Phil, her cheeks growing rather warm.

"There is feeling it and knowing it might come - hell we all know it is going to come at some point - and then there is running headlong into it daring it to take you now," says Phil with a faint grin. "Besides I always am concerned for my close friends." She reaches into her pocket for a few coins and drops them onto the table.

"Well… I have been trying to take care. That is why I- I have yet to return to work full-time for Cassius. And… I am listening to Healer Keenan's instructions. No more coffee. And other things… so- I am taking care. I don't want to be slip away yet… And- truly… I appreciate your- your friendship." Rhyeline offers Phil a soft, warm smile.

"That is what friends do." Phil smiles over at Rhyeline. "I should be getting back to work, however. Wouldn't want to miss all the good gossip." She winks and starts to rise from the table. "Offer my regards to Cassius when you next see him."

"I will. It was wonderful to see you, Phil. Good luck on getting your recent articles published," murmurs Rhyeline. Holding her cup of tea, it seems the girl intends to remain for a while longer, enjoying the peaceful atmosphere of the elegant cafe.

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