(1938-10-07) Questions and Blushes
Details for Questions and Blushes
Summary: Astoria invites Rhyeline to meet her at Cafe Tasseo. The conversation soon turns to Rhyeline's involvement with the Unity Party and before long, it turns into an impromptu interview. Brei joins them and begins to speak of matters of the heart. Just as Astoria excuses them to give privarcy, Ismene drops in.
Date: Wednesday, October 07, 2013
Location: Cafe Tasseo, Diagon Alley

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.

A steady drizzle is coming down over Verdic Alley, causing the lamplight reflecting on the puddles to shimmer. Still a bit damp from having been caught outside for a few moments, Rhyeline shivers a bit and hugs herself as she sits waiting at a small, secluded table.

The front door snaps open, revealing the drizzle outside as well as a woman clothed in black, damp robes. She tugs a hood from her head and shakes free a mass of long, brown hair. Sighing with narrow eyes and a frown, she turns and closes the door with a gentle pull. After stepping into the lighted room properly, Astoria searches the room's inhabitants. She finds Rhyeline, and a moment strides in her direction.

This is the sort of cafe where Astoria is greeted with a bow and escorted to join Rhyeline at her table. A chair pulled out, then pushed in as Astoria takes a seat. Catching sight of Astoria's approach, a soft, shy smile touches Rhyeline's lips. "Hello…" she murmurs with a small nod of greeting.

Astoria thanks the attendant with a smile and not, and most assuredly a tip before she departs, and then focuses on Rhyeline. She returns the woman's smile with a mild grin, though the expression, regardless of its size, seems to reach her eyes. She replies, "Good evening, Rhyeline. I should thank you for meeting me on such short notice," in her customary tone.

A waiter arrives with Rhyeline's tea and a little piece of chocolate cake. He then takes Astoria's order before withdrawing once more. Taking up her tea and warming her hands against its sides, Rhyeline gives a small nod and murmurs, "Of course… It is- is good to see you again… Astoria."

Astoria orders black tea, and one cube of sugar, before looking back to Rhyeline. She crosses one leg over the other before saying, "And you, too. I should have mentioned: you flat is very charming, and I enjoyed your private collection. Did you enjoy your birthday? Oh, I hope you did…" she pauses for a moment, eyes widening a little.

Rhyeline sets down her cup of tea and offers Astoria a soft, warm smile. "Yes… your visit- with Graham and Phil… it was wonderful. So nice. I felt- I felt warm inside and out… Thank you. And- your painting… well, it- it makes me a bit shy to- to watch myself… but- you have- have very perceptive eyes…" Lowering her gaze as she takes another sip of tea, the little one's cheeks grow a bit warm.

Astoria allows a smile to spread along her lips while she listens to Rhyeline. Her eyes, once wide, relax when Rhyeline explains her enjoyment. "Well, if I am to be honest, you are an inspiring, splendid subject," her smile widens a little, and her eyes brighten. "I found the task not too difficult." She tugs briefly on her collar, and beneath it her skin has grown red, as if blushing.

Rhyeline blushes brighter still as Astoria offers such compliments. After a moment, she peeks up from her cup of tea, but it takes longer for her to find her voice. It might seem like she might not speak at all, before at last she murmurs ever so softly, "Th-thank you… I- I thought that- that I might send the painting to my mother… she- she often misses me, living in Paris… I think that- that the painting would mean a lot to her…" And keeping it at home, reminding her of how close Astoria has been studying her, makes the little one feel quite shy.

Astoria clears her throat quietly, and rubs her finger along her collar once more with a small smile. "That may be an excellent idea," she says, though her voice is slightly strained. She quietly clears her throat again, and when she next speaks she sounds more like herself, "I understand - I was away from my family for many years, too." A pause. "I wondered if I might speak with you about the Unity party. When we first met, you mentioned that you were a supporter of the idea of unity, I believe," the sudden change in subject leaves Astoria much more settled, and her expression resumes its focused, narrowed, determined appearance.

Rhyeline at last sneaks a bite of chocolate cake, keeping her gaze downcast to hide the look of vulnerable shyness in her dark eyes. However, at the mention of the Unity party, the little one blinks and glances up at Astoria, looking curious. "Yes, I- I serve as Cassius Malfoy's assistant… though-" she hesitates, biting her lower lip. "Right now, I'm- I'm just doing research…"

Astoria nods her head, letting her eyes study Rhyeline. She quickly answers, "Truly? I had no inclination that you were his assistant," while leaning back a little. Her tea arrives, complete with a single cube of sugar. Astoria plops the cube into the cup and stirs the drink several times. "Well, I think I have settled upon the idea that I will write an article that will promote the idea of unification. Would it be too much trouble to speak with you, and then later with Mr. Malfoy, about its beliefs and concepts?"

A subtle change comes over the girl as Astoria shifts the topic further towards the Unity movement. Her smile is sincere, but seems more reserved than before. Nodding, she murmurs, "I can arrange for you to meet with Cassius if you wish. And- I can answer whatever questions you might have, although- I don't think that I am so prominent that- that your readers would be too interested in what I have to say…" And perhaps, the little one prefers to avoid the attention of any sort of spotlight which an article including her might create.

"If it suits you, Rhyeline, I will keep your name out of the article. I am a clever writer - words can be easily twisted," Astoria answers, offering the other woman a wink. She raises her glass and sips her tea, but swiftly sets it down. "I would appreciate a meeting with Mr. Malfoy," she adds with a nod. Smiling a little, Astoria rubs her hands together. "Hm… where to start? Why don't you tell me what attracts you to the Unity party?"

Rhyeline blinks as the questions begin. It would seem that Astoria was more prepared for an interview than her claimed ignorance of Rhyeline's role would suggest. However, the little one nods and answers with quiet grace, "I was in Berlin and witnessed first hand how our secret diplomatic efforts failed to ease the growing storm over Europe. I came to realize that- that the only way to avert the growing threat of great destruction, we must emerge from the shadows and- and participate in a more direct way in the world. There is only one world and we are a part of it- wizards and muggles, we are all a part of mankind…"

Astoria listens quietly, eyes keen. She does not produce a pen for note taking while Rhyeline answers. After the younger woman trails off, Astoria sits quietly for a moment. One hand rises to her chin, and a finger extends over her lips. The pause ends with a question, "It is true that the world may be descending into war again. But is unity truly the best way? Why don't we, for instance, capture key muggles and replace them with leaders who will encourage peace? Were we to do this, we might remain in the shadows." She leans back slightly and awaits Rhyeline's response.

"The current crisis is more complicated than what could be solved simply by replacing a few key actors… it is about a balance of power, the suffering of nations… With our magic, with our good systems of governance, we could influence matters and create lasting positive change. From the shadows, we might attempt to be puppet masters, but what happens when our strings get tangled, when our puppets find themselves constrained by forces beyond their control?"

Astoria listens to Rhyeline's answer. She nods quietly, several times, in fact, and removes her finger from her lips. "And when we step out of the shadows, do you not think there will be a muggle panic? Centuries ago we hid for /good/ reason - to protect our way of life, and theirs. If we reveal ourselves, they may unite against us, or turn on themselves. How would we manage the new crisis?"

"Emerging from the shadows will require care… And there are some who argue for extreme measures to suppress such violence. However- Cassius Malfoy is a moderate voice in such debates and argues for a gradual emergence accompanied by efforts mitigate violent reactions through education… He- he explains this much better than I can… the particulars of what policies we might impliment… but- I have faith in muggles, as I have faith in the witches and wizards of our own society… it is possible. We must not allow fear of frightening possibilities to rule us… If we allow things to remain as they are, the violence and chaos will be far greater than what might happen if we should unite and make the world one once more."

Astoria listens to Rhyeline quietly, her focus rapt. Her expression turns dark for a moment while her eyes narrow and lips thin, but, as before, she does not speak immediately. When she does, it is with a gentle smile, "Your explanations will hold up to most arguments. They have merit - although, there is good case for the Ministry's current methods working, as they /eventually/ brought the end of the first world war." Astoria inhales softly. "The methods proposed by the Unity party will be untested - any message I use will have to encourage change and urgency." She exhales. "There is another important question - how might you summarize the Unity Party's beliefs?"

Rhyeline's brows furrow when Astoria defends the Ministry as having 'eventually' brought an end to that war. With family still living in Paris, she knows well the full extent of what suffering those years of war brought- years of violence and death that could have been averted. But when Astoria poses a new question, the girl lowers her gaze and nods. Taking a slow sip of tea, she considers her answer before peeking up at Astoria once more. "I think that if you wish for a succinct summary of what the Unity Party here in the United Kingdom believes, you should ask Cassius Malfoy. He is- is far more eloquent than I…"

Astoria watches Rhyeline quietly, and after her reply she grins. "Perhaps," she replies. "Thank you for answering my questions. I won't mention your name, unless you change your mind." She sips her tea, letting her attention shift to the cup. A moment later, she adds, "Have I exhausted you? Should we switch topics?"

Rhyeline takes a little bite of cake before offering Astoria a soft smile. "No- I'm alright… The- the work of the unity party- it means a great deal to me. My family in Paris- you see, they suffered a great deal during the Great War. It did not affect us quite so much here, so- I think many wizards and witches forget that- that we still live in the same world as muggles… we live apart- but not in a different world…"

"I think that is a powerful sentiment - that we share the planet, and we cannot ignore them or their troubles," Astoria answers. She uncrosses her legs and smiles. "I think most people could be pulled in by that argument, in fact." A moment later, Astoria finishes her tea and sets it aside.

The door opens and Brei slips inside with her customary scowl in place. The dark haired woman scans the room and upon spotting Rhyeline and Astoria looks thoughtful as if considering joining them she steps forward as if to approach but pauses biting her lower lip. Finnaly after a moment of gathering her wits she stalks over to them and gives Rhyeline a small smile and a nod to the other woman. "Sorry if I am interrupting but I have not seen you in quite a while Rhyeline….I would like to talk with you if you and your companion don't mind and I also have a late birthday present to give you at some point." She looks intently at Rhyeline and that faint smile grows just a fraction.

Rhyeline takes up her tea once more, warming her delicate hands against the exquisite China. She parts her lips to speak, but is distracted when she catches Brei's approach out of the corner of her eye. It has been some time since Rhyeline last saw the other girl. The mouse peeks over at Brei, looking pleased to see her, but rather timid and hesitant. The mention of a birthday present lures the mouse out from behind her tea cup. Silent, she tilts her head to the side, hopeful and curious.

Astoria looks up when Brei speaks, having missed the woman's entrance. She studies the woman carefully, allowing a brief grin to spread across her expression. A moment later, she says, "Hello again," at a time that will not interrupt her. She reclines a little, and moves her chair slightly to the side so that Brei may join them easily.

Taking a seat at thier table Brei gives Astoria a nod and smiles faintly at Rhyeline. "Yes I got you a present. Its at my house and you are welcome to stop by later and recieve it or I can bring it by your flat later…actually its more like a two presents or a present and an offer which you are welcome to refuse. Anyway the prsent will remain a secret but I can tell you about the offer now if you wish?" Brei looks the small woman over carefully. "You look well…I hope you are feeling well. Forgive me for storming off when you last saw me….Thomas is a bit…annoying at best and down right infuriating at worst." Judging by the way her blue eyes blaze with anger and jealosy there is much more to it than that.

Rhyeline's dark gaze flickers with a touch of nervousness from Brei to Astoria and then back again. Resting the cup of tea on the table, she murmurs, "I… I understand… And- I am well… thank you…" Falling silent, Rhyeline's eyes linger upon Brei's crystal blue gaze with a cautious, yet curious look.

Astoria listens to Brei quietly, one leg crossed over the other, as she explains the mystery of her presents. When she remarks on Thomas, Astoria grins - but only a little. She looks towards Rhyeline, her eyes alight, and then turns back to Brei. She doesn't interrupt.

Brei sighs softly and her eyes lock with Rhyeline's for a long moment. "The offer part of the present is that I would like to offer to teach you Italian…or Spanish if you prefer. I still have an actual gift for you but this is a little extra if you want it. It would give us a chance to spend more time together and I think I would like that….provided you agree of course and there is always the chance that this will blow up in my face but still I feel compelled to ask anyway…" Brei sighs again and waits for the reaction but it seems she already expects refusal as its written in her posture.

A soft smile warms Rhyeline's features as she seems to calm. Nodding, she murmurs, "I would like that very much. I- Spanish is a language I have been wanting to learn. It- it seems similar to French… I am hoping that- that it won't take long to learn…"

"It would seem the two of you need some time," Astoria says. She stands up, scooting her chair backward. "Thank you, Rhyeline - and it was a pleasure to see you again," Astoria says, nodding briefly Rhyeline first, and then Brei. She pushes her chair forward and turns to walk for the exit.

Brei's eyebrows raise and she smiles faintly but warmly looking both surprised and extremely pleased. "Really? Very well I recently learned Spanish it should not be that hard to teach you. We will have to set a time to meet and practice. I still have the books I learned from and once you work with those a bit we can start working on the speaking part. Did you want to learn the reading and writing as well or did you just wish to learn how to speak it? I found it very similar to Italian myself but there are similarites to French as well." Brei actually looks excited by this project and looks up nodding to Astoria as she leaves. Turning back to Rhyeline. "If you like when you are done here I will walk you home? We could pass by my house and I could get your present as well if you like?"

Rhyeline parts her lips to speak, to persuade Astoria to stay. However, the woman is already on her way out, leaving her sitting alone at the secluded corner table with Brei. Looking rather shy indeed, the little mouse peeks over at Brei and listens. Taking up her cup of tea, she gives a small nod. "Yes… that- that would be nice…" she murmurs before taking a sip.

Droplets of rainwater evaporate from Madam Malfoy's high hat and warm, well-worn woolen robes as she steps across the threshold of the elegant Cafe Tasseo. Not one of her usual haunts; but she's in just this sort of mood… A discreet smile plays about her thin, pale lips, rather than the sour sort of expression more habitual to her, and she has a large, thin, rectangular parcel beneath one arm. Papers, perhaps, quite large papers. She eyes the scattering of patrons present at this hour, when the cafe isn't far from closing; and, narrowing her gaze, indicates to the gentleman who has greeted her that she would prefer to be seated at *that* table. Next to Rhyeline Diderot and Brei Montague.

Brei raises a brow at Rhyeline as the two are left alone after Astoria's departure. Brei orders tea from a server and looks back over to the shy girl. "Rhyeline….I…" She pauses and looks a bit lost for words. "I don't do feelings well….and I don't like getting attached to people they normally end up either leaving me or throwing my affection back in my face….but for some reason I -want- to get attached to you….it scares me to death but for some reason I want it still." Her gaze is intense and she finally looks away and notices Ismene Malfoy's arrival. Just what she needed! She looks almost relieved to see the older woman being led over to save her from talking about her…feelings.

Rhyeline bites her lower lip as Brei broaches the subject of emotions now that they are alone. Her pulse quickens as her hands tighten around her teacup. Though the girl looks nervous, when she follows Brei's relieved glance and catches sight of Madam Ismene, the mouse grows perfectly still- as if having caught sight of an approaching snake.

As she walks toward the two young women who have caught her eye, Madam Malfoy is already slowly stripping her well-fitted black leather gloves from her hands. One of them slips off, revealing a pale and bony hand weighted by her hanged-man signet ring, neither Lestrange nor Malfoy, but something peculiar to herself.

She raises her eyebrows at them in a silent and very dry greeting, as she perches upon the very edge of the chair which is drawn out for her at the adjacent table, and allows her parcel to be placed safely in the chair next to hers. The first glove lands upon the crisp white tablecloth, then the second.

Brei inclines her head to Ismene. "Madam Malfoy. I hope you are well?" She glances to Rhyeline's reaction and though she raises a brow she also looks concerned for the other woman as well. Glancing back to the older witch she picks up her newly arrived cup of tea and takes a slow sip looking between the two of them with just the smallest hint of curiousity.

Rhyeline brings her teacup to her lips for an implausibly long sip. Her gaze flickers from Ismene to Brei, as cautious as a gazelle on the savannah. It would seem that the unexpected presence of the older witch has quite an effect on the girl.

Madam Malfoy's first words are to the waiter hovering at her elbow, an order for black China tea, honey for it, and plenty of bread-and-butter; her eyes, however, never leave Rhyeline and Brei, and after a moment's contemplation of their arrangement vis a vis one another she answers, in glacial tone, "Quite well, thank you, Miss Montague; and yourself, and Miss Diderot?"

Brei opens her mouth to reply but then a well-dressed man slips inside the establishment and gestures to her to come over. She scowls and looks to her companions. "It seems I need to leave. I will bring your present by tomorrow Rhyeline you have my word." She smiles faintly at the woman and then glances back to the man standing in the door watching her expectantly. "Excuse me." She rises and stalks over to the man. The two talk for a few minutes and then Brei is stalking out with the man hot on her heels.

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