(1938-10-11) Everyone's Fussing Over Rhyeline
Details for Everyone's Fussing Over Rhyeline
Summary: Rhyeline receives a number of unexpected visitors, all of whom have an opinion on what is best for her.
Date: 10 October, 1938
Location: Rhyeline's Flat, London
Related: Plot: The Mouse's Curse

The rain has stopped at last, but the dark clouds of the night sky still obscure the moon. A cool autumn breeze flows through the streets, causig the lamplight reflected in the puddles to flicker. Windows closed and curtains drawn against the October night, Rhyeline's flat is warm and quiet. The fire upon the hearth crackles softly, emitting an occasional pop and hiss.

Sitting all curled up in her usual spot beside the fireplace, Rhyeline tilts her head to the side as she watches Cassius on the loveseat. The girl warms her hands against the sides of her teacup, having already served Cassius a cup of tea- exactly how he prefers it.

"Madam Ismene's treatments seem to be working," she murmurs. Indeed, there is warmth in her cheeks and her eyes shine especially bright. "But- Healer Keenan is still waiting for the results of recent tests…"

Cassius rests his teacup on his raised knee, one leg crossed over the other. "I'm delighted that you are getting additional help at last. That you are accepting help from my Great-Aunt, abrasive as she may be, is encouraging to me as well."

Rhyeline slips her delicate feet from her ballet flats and tucks them beneath herself to keep them warm. Averting her gaze, she takes a small sip. "She- she's not very… very patient with me. Or- or gentle… like Keenan is. But-" she peeks hesitantly over at Cassius, "I feel it's work. I don't feel death so close anymore…"

A smile forms on Cassius's lips. "Those words are like honey in my ears. It pains me to think that you live in fear. It is why I am, perhaps, overly insistent in my efforts to help you." He taps a fingertip on the edge of his teacup, thoughts percolating behind his eyes. "I cannot help but notice that you always refer to Healer O'Shea by his first name."

The blush that warms Rhyeline's cheeks is rather noticeable, even though she averts her gaze and tries to hide it by taking a long sip of tea. Peeking back over at him, she hesitates before nodding. "Yes. He… I started to realize that- that I really did matter to him… and so… I started to trust him…" She bites her lower lip, knowing that Cassius doesn't approve of Keenan.

Cassius doesn't bother to mask his disapproval these days, though he certainly doesn't let Rhyeline face the full brunt of it. He purses his lips and takes a sip of tea. "My concern is that you matter too much to him, either as a project, or in an unprofessional manner."

"That's… that's not what he is like, Cassius… he- he isn't as controlling as you might think. He has always been very gentle… even his prescriptions- they are always encouragements… never orders…" murmurs Rhyeline as she hides behind her teacup.

Cassius tilts his head, giving Rhyeline a slightly chiding frown. "I have never criticised his bedside manner. But when it comes to how he manages your case, he is undoubtedly controlling, and you enable him to be so. Rhyeline, do you realize that it is possible that we would have a cure by now if we had other Healers working on your case? A situation like yours is too big for one man, and Healer O'Shea should have the humility and wisdom to realize that."

Rhyeline sinks just a bit deeper in her chair as she peeks over the brim of her cup at Cassius' frown. The warmth of her cheeks continues to glow. "He consults other healers," murmurs Rhyeline. "It- it was just- that one time… he already had family that knew potions… that's all… Madam Malfoy- she is doing more than potions…"

Cassius tsks, shaking his head. "Indeed, his nepotism is further evidence of his blindness. To refuse the aid of a master potioneer like Melania Black simply because his sister runs an apothecary is the worst sort of unprofessionalism. Consult he may, but you need to see other Healers, Rhyeline. You need a second opinion. Perhaps a third and fourth."

"I have appreciated Madam Malfoy's interest in my case… I requested that the hospital send her the files on what chemicals are currently being used. And- it wasn't for me to decide which healer works on my case, Cassius… the hospital makes such choices…" murmurs Rhyeline in a soft, small voice.

Cassius's frowns turns to an endearing smile, and he leans back in his seat, relaxing. "Rhyeline, you have the power to make whatever choices you like. If the hospital is resistant, you should come to me. There are benefits to being in my employ, you know. If I cannot sway them, my father can. In truth, I would like your consent to permit him to look over your case. He may be retired, but he has considerable experience dealing with curses."

Rhyeline's dark gaze widens when Cassius suggests that the renowned healer, Balaurius Malfoy, look into her case. With a small nod, she murmurs, "If- if he would have interest… but- Keenan would- Healer Keenan would still be able to continue his work, yes? He's been working so hard…"

Cassius sighs. "Goodness, Rhyeline. When have I ever insisted upon O'Shea's removal? Of course I would want him to continue. His familiarity with the case is valuable. But after so long, any man would lose perspective. He needs outside input. I am certain this case would fascinate my father. If nothing else, he could have some insights that could be of assistance."

A soft, relieved smile appears upon Rhyeline's lips. "Then… in that case, I would be truly grateful… and- perhaps he could- could consult with Madam Malfoy… that would be easier since- since they already know each other well, perhaps?"

Cassius starts to chuckle heartily. "Goodness. Balaurius and Ismene Malfoy in the same room on purpose? The heavens will tremble in fear." His pale jade eyes sparkle with amusement.

Rhyeline brings her tea to her lips, but then pauses. Blinking, she murmurs "Oh… are- do they not- not get along very well?"

Cassius smirks wryly, clearly finding great amusement in all of this. "Can you imagine anyone getting along very well with my Great-Aunt? On top of that, my father has little patience for those that question him, and I am sure that you can imagine that my Aunt Ismene has no qualms about questioning anybody."

Cassius tsks again, this time more affectionately. "Don't even give that a second thought. The man is my father. He'll do it for that reason, and because it will be interesting to him. Mark my words, he loathes his retirement, and while he stubbornly refuses to rejoin polite society, he is desperate for something to engage his intellect."

Such words renew the warmth in Rhyeline's cheeks. Watching Cassius with such profound, appreciative warmth, she gives a small nod. "Thank you… truly. I hope that- that soon, Keenan- Healer Keenan will give me permission to start working again. I- I've missed seeing you so much…"

"Your presence has been sorely missed as well," Cassius's voice comes softly, more soberly now. "You should come by Berylwood and take advantage of the luxuries there. A swim in the pool can work wonders on the body and soul."

"I'd like that… I- I've missed Berylwood… I didn't think I would, but I have. I do prefer seclusion, but- your home has such beauty… perhaps if, if I inherit such money, I could move closer…" murmurs Rhyeline with small smile as her gaze shines with such shyness.

Cassius smiles. "I have a difficult time imagining you in a larger space. This place suits you well. Though, Berylwood is large enough to offer seclusion, if you wish it. Ah, but I've made the offer before. You know that you always have a place there." He sips the last of his tea, and sets the cup and saucer down with a light clink. "As for your money, I have confidence that the matter will resolve soon. Mrs. Shacklebolt has the goblins against the wall, and as soon as she has those funds released, I have an injunction ready to be filed which will prevent her from syphoning them away for her pet projects. I expect we'll have to make a deal with her if we want to avoid a length trial. But in the end, it will be worth it, especially since it will then be you sacrificing a percentage of your legal inheritance to aid Troy's victims. Most charitable of you."

"I'd like them to have some of it," murmurs Rhyeline in a small voice, averting her gaze. It might seem she feels a little guilty for taking any at all. Not wanting to linger on that subject, she peeks back over at Cassius and murmurs, "Perhaps- when I start working full-time for you again, I could stay sometimes at your home? In a quiet, secluded part where- where I could then go swimming close by?"

Cassius's smile beams with an almost smug satisfaction. "Of course. That has always been my offer. I'll see that you have a room with easy access to the first floor."

Rhyeline smiles over at Cassius with a pure, warm glow of such trust and appreciation. "Thank you. I just- if I were to ever have guests… if my mother were to come visit… or a friend… I wouldn't want to impose…" An elegant mansion full of servants with quiet, secluded rooms all to herself is quite tempting to the little mouse, but such a place would offer little privacy.

Cassius tut-tuts, shaking his head. "You would not be imposing. If anything I would impose, insisting upon meeting your guests and lavishing attention upon them." He chuckles.

Sitting all curled up in the chair by the fireplace with an empty cup of tea in her hands, Rhyeline watches Cassius with a subtle glow of warmth in her cheeks and eyes. Not all of the little one's friends approve of the Malfoys, or Cassius himself, but she keeps this to herself. Instead, she gives a small nod and murmurs, "Yes… I- perhaps- perhaps one day, I'll realize I haven't returned here in weeks and weeks… but… for now… this is where all my books are."

Who knows what concessions such a silver-tongued snake might have extracted from his prey, had the doorbell not commenced to ring at that moment? It seems to be being jerked about a bit, by someone with no particular affection for it; and before Rhyeline has got all the way to the door to answer it, it rings again, louder still.

Cassius arches an eyebrow toward the front of the door, a mild frown coloring his lips. "Merlin, I should hope this is some sort of emergency." He rises, smoothing down his jacket to prepare for whatever may come.

Rhyeline blinks, looking rather surprised when the bell rings. Halfway to the door, when it rings again, she pauses. A bit nervous, she peeks over her shoulder at Cassius for reassurance before she continues and opens the door just wide enough to peek out onto the street.

The flat of Ismene Malfoy's black-gloved hand connects with the door and pushes it further forward, until it encounters Rhyeline's body and can't yield any further to her impetuous progress. "Child," she snaps, bright black gaze flickering up and down what she can see of Rhyeline and the flat beyond, "what *do* you think you're doing?"

Cassius takes a few easy strides toward the entry hall on his long legs, and quite obviously clears his throat. "Everything alright, Miss Diderot?" How quickly he slips into the formality of using her surname when in the company of others.

Rhyeline gives a sharp squeak and flinches back when the door knocks against her cheek at Ismene's push. With a hand over her cheek, she draws back to allow the door to swing open wide. Fear shines in the little mouse's eyes as she gazes up at Ismene. She peeks over at Cassius, just out of the corner of her eye, but doesn't seem to dare look at him directly. In answer to his question, she gives a small nod. "Y-yes…"

The small dark figure of the scourge of the Malfoys strides the rest of the way into the flat's foyer and reaches behind her to push the door shut. Her eyes, glittering beneath the brim of the pointed hat set back upon her head, are upon Rhyeline's hand as it rises to her cheek — until she catches sight of Cassius and, quick as a whip, transfers all her attention to him. The sense of barely-suppressed urgency melts from her demeanour.

"Good evening, Cassius," she drawls. "We do seem to keep meeting here."

Cassius's smile reveals a hint of paternal reproach — a sliver of Balaurius lives on through his son. "Great-Aunt, you certainly do make an entrance." He steps to Rhyeline's side, placing an arm over her shoulder, "Come, Miss Diderot. Let us find something cool for that cheek."

Rhyeline's already warm cheeks now glow bright with warmt when Cassius draws close and places an arm around her shoulder to lead her off towards the kitchen where she keeps a bit of ice. Heart pounding in her chest, she looks up at him before peeking over her shoulder at Ismene with a lingering edge of fear in her young, dark gaze.

Watching this interplay with clinical interest, Madam Malfoy drifts after them as far as the doorway to the kitchen; she stands within it, one hand upon the frame. "One's entrance," this to Cassius, "is often constrained by the method in which one is greeted… a peculiar method, tonight. Miss Diderot, you seemed alarmed. Were you expecting someone else? Or," and her eyes wander from one to the other, "had I the poor fortune to interrupt a confidential discussion?"

Cassius releases Rhyeline to investigate her kitchen, locating some ice. Wrapping it in a light cloth, he forms a rudimentary cold poultice, and brings it over to apply gently to Rhyeline's face, with all the care of a parent tending to his child. "Auntie, your entrance was many things, but 'constrained' was not one of them." His soft smile never wavers. "I'm sure that there was simply a mix-up, and the announcement of your arrival was somehow misplaced and never came to Miss Diderot. But you seem to have some purpose here. What brings you to our dear Rhyeline's doorstep?"

Rhyeline stares rather transfixed up at Cassius as he applies the cold poultice to her burning cheek. She lifts a hand and places it over his, ready to take over holding it there.

Ah, there. He's been the first to slip. He's been the first to refer to their hostess by her given name. Madam Malfoy smiles faintly. Call it the family expression. "I've spent a night and a day with Miss Diderot's medical records, which she obtained for my perusal after you were so clever as to suggest it," she murmurs, "and there were certain points — but one hardly likes to address them in the company of a gentleman." She raises an ironic eyebrow at Cassius. "You seem to have matters well in hand here. I shall let you carry on." And with a swirl of her robes, she retires into the sitting-room. Beyond earshot? Is anyone likely to risk it?

Cassius maintains control of the ice pack for the moment, letting his great-aunt have her say and leave the kitchen. Once she's out of sight, he gives Rhyeline an amused grin. "Is it feeling better?" At last, he permits her to take over the ice, carefully transferring the cloth to her hand.

As Madam Malfoy retreats, there is a knock on the front door. It may be loud only in the fact that it's unexpected, but for the most part it's just a firm three knocks. Then silence as whoever is without waits.

Rhyeline blinks, as if coming out of a spell when Cassius grins at her and speaks. She holds the ice in place over a red mark on her rather warm cheek. Soon there will be a bruise. "Of course…" she murmurs, with a small, shy nod. "It was just an accident." Hearing yet another knock on the front door, Rhyeline blinks and glances over. Apprehension returns to the young one's dark gaze.

And Rhyeline Diderot's front door is answered for the second time in ten minutes — on this occasion by a small, very upright older witch, enshrouded in well-worn dark robes, and with a pointed hat set back from the pale, suspicious little face out of which her glittering black eyes regard the visitor.

"Well," she says, in an altogether aristocratic soprano, "and who might you be?"

Cassius leads Rhyeline from the kitchen to get her settled comfortable in the parlour. His winced gaze follows his great-aunt as she goes to answer the door. Surely, that can't be good.

The red headed wizard at the door is wearing decent casual robes of a good make, but not necessarily expensive. A bit of scruff, as usual, hugs his jawline, and the smile that was meant to greet the owner of the flat falters somewhat as he takes a step back and makes sure he is in the right spot. "I am sorry, ma'am. I was stopping by for Miss Diderot, but I was not aware she had company." Keenan's irish is /barely/ heard in his accent, and he lifts a hand to his temple in salute as he hands over a small package. "Please convey this to her, along with my apologies, as I don't wish to intrude."

Rhyeline seems a bit hesitant to let Keenan see her while she's pressing a cold poultice to her cheek. However, when Cassius leads her into the sitting room, the healer might catch a glimpse of her and Cassius before she disappears and sits in her usual chair by the fireplace.

The older witch's gaze puts an accurate price upon Keenan's robes, and an accurate time on how long it's been since last he shaved; and her eyes narrow at this disreputable person who has come calling in the evening at her young friend's abode. Her hands, encased in tight black leather gloves, remain obstinately apart from the package he has attempted to introduce to them: one holding the door, the other clasped loosely at her side. "I've asked you once already for your name," she points out.

Cassius sighs, giving Rhyeline a reassuring smile as he turns to make his way to the door. "Who's there, Aunt Ismene?" he says aloud, quite deliberately projecting his voice. As he steps up behind his great-aunt, his platinum-crowned head peers around her hat, offering a pleasant smile to the visitor.

Pulling the package back with little concern for her reticence, Keenan raises an eyebrow. "Ah, yes. That was what ye were asking, my apologies. Master Healer Keenan O'Shea, ma'am. I can return later when Miss Diderot is not entertaining. It was not a pressing matter, I was simply walking home from dinner with some colleagues." He hears Cassius's call, but doesn't raise his voice, still addressing the guardgoyle at the door.

Rhyeline listens in silence to the exchange outside and bites her lower lip. Silent, she rises from her chair and approaches to stand cautiously a little bit behind Cassius. From her safe vantage point, she peers around from behind him at Keenan.

Aware of but untroubled by her nephew's approach, Madam Malfoy keeps her eyes upon the interloper as he admits his identity — and then she draws in a sharp, aggrieved breath. "*You*," she exhales. "You're the one who so cavalierly canceled the appointment I'd made with you to discuss—" Then, and only then, hearing Rhyeline's timid footfalls, she glances back into the flat. Her eyes return to Keenan; she purses her pale lips. "You had better come in," she decides, and opens the door the rest of the way, holding it till he has passed her — not to mention the rest of the inspection committee…

"Aunt Ismene, I am sure that Healer O'Shea had a very good reason for cancelling. Master Healers are undoubtedly very busy." Cassius gives Keenan a polite bow of his head as his aunt steps aside. "Cassius Malfoy, Master Healer O'Shea. We meet at last. Please, don't let our presence here deter you. I'm sure that Miss Diderot would like to receive you. Oh! Miss Diderot," he feigns surprise at Rhyeline's appearance behind him. "Look who is here."

At the older woman's instant chill in demeanor, which was quite impressive for her to become more chilly than before, Keenan's brows draw together puzzled. "I am sorry ma'am, I don't remember meeting, or scheduling a meeting with ye." Then Cassius is advancing, and the name given brings recognition to the expression, "Ah, yes, Mrs. Malfoy, I was disappointed when ye had to postpone, but it was serendipitous because we had a patient with an acute…" he pauses, and the green eyes sharpen. The man is not dumb as he puts two and two together. "Ah, I see. Journeyman Abbot cancelled yer appointment so she could take the patient. It /was/ an interesting case, but certainly not a good enough reason to cancel an appointment that had already been made days in advance." He gives a bow of his head, accented with a slight bend from his waist. "My sincere apologies, Ma'am. If ye would be kind enough to reschedule, I would make sure such does not happen again." He straightens, giving a nod to Cassius. "Mr. Malfoy. It is a pleasure to meet at last. We seem to have been passing each other at the large functions with no chance to make a proper acquaintance."

With the two Malfoys now taken care of, the healer turns to Rhyeline, and a bit of the formality he gave the two drops off. "Miss Diderot, how are ye feeling tonight? I had dinner with some colleagues, and since I knew I would be in the area, I brought some tea with me. Specially made to help ye sleep a little better."

Rhyeline appears more reserved than usual. However, when Keenan mentions bringing some special tea, she can't help but give a warm smile. "Thank you very much, Ke- Healer Keenan," she murmurs. She hesitates, before adding, "Would- would you care to come in? It- it would be good if- if perhaps- you and- and Madam Malfoy- consulted?"

As she listens to these words, which would surely mollify any reasonable person, the frost which has been gathering upon Ismene Malfoy grows thicker, whiter, more freezing. "It is good of you to offer your personal attention to the matter, but I shan't require another appointment with you, Healer O'Shea," she explains distantly, "that is, if you have kept up-to-date your records of Miss Diderot's medical treatment, copies of which are now in my possession."

With that, she sails past Rhyeline and Cassius toward the sitting-room, for if they're content to dally all night in the entry-way, she certainly isn't.

Rhyeline's flat is always rather warmer than she keeps her own house, and so as she walks she sheds (and hangs over her arm, preparatory to transferring them to the back of a chair) her sensible black woolen robes: beneath is a snugly-fitted, high-necked black silk shirtwaist and floor-length skirt, known to Rhyeline as her most casual attire, known to Cassius not at all. An ornate and eldritch silver pomander hangs, as usual, from her belt.

"Actually, your arrival is most fortuitous, Master Healer," Cassius chimes in, spreading his charm and cordiality all about to mask the odor of his great-aunt's unpleasantness. "There was a bit of an accident, and Miss Diderot has suffered a bump to the face that I worry may bruise. Could she bother you to have a look at it?" He gestures toward the parlour, inviting everyone to a more social environment.

Keenan's expression remains cordially polite, even through the Malfoy woman's haughty announcement, although he dips his head. "Yes ma'am, although the latest results that came in today are still on my desk." He gives a barely perceptible wink to Rhyeline as she catches herself using the first name basis. At Cassius's invitation, he nods his head. "Of course, it would not be a bother at all. Perhaps if we moved in to where the light is better?" he suggests mildly.

Rhyeline draws closer to Cassius' side as Ismene strides past. The best light is closest to Ismene- the spot where Rhyeline usually curls up to read. A tall lamp stands next to the chair which isn't too far from the fireplace. Keenan's subtle wink seems to put the little one a bit more at ease as she peeks back at him with a small smile. She keeps the ice wrapped in cloth pressed to her cheek until asked to lower it.

Light, softness, proximity to the attractively crackling fire — by whatever criterion one judges, Rhyeline's usual chair is the best in the flat, and that's why instinct invariably draws Madam Malfoy to it. She is sitting there, erect of posture, as confident upon Rhyeline's ground as she would be upon her own, by the time the others arrive in the sitting-room; she quirks an eyebrow at Cassius, inviting him into some subtle conspiracy, then gives all her attention to healer and patient, as they come nearer to her.

His steps leading the way to the tall light, Keenan's wand accios an ottoman over so that he can sit down to be closer to Rhyeline's height, rather than leaning and looming over her. "Let's see what ye've got under the ice, Miss Diderot," he says kindly, all focus on the patient, now, rather than the attempted conniving by the Malfoys.

Rhyeline keeps close to Cassius as everyone migrates into the sitting room. When Keenan takes a seat under the light, she bites her lower lip and approaches. Ismene sits just to her right. The focus of such scrutiny, the girl's cheeks are quite warm. However, when she draws back the ice, the cold has left her left cheek rather red with cold, and there, Keenan can already see where the edge of the door hit her sharply on her cheek bone. The mark is already starting to bruise noticeably.

Inclining her head slightly closer, Madam Malfoy breathes in. "Poor child," she murmurs, the nearest thing Rhyeline is likely to get to an apology for the 'accident'. It is rather a dry statement — not wholly convincing.

The Healer's eyes show little emotion as the ice is lowered, just tilting his head to the side to have a better look. He lifts his wand, and murmurs a spell, eyes focused on the cheek and the bruise, then gives a nod. He takes guides Ryheline's hand holding the ice pack to the cheek back into place, "I didn't think it was broken, but I scanned it just to be sure. Just a bruise to the bone, to be sure, ye'll feel tender there for a few days if ye touch it, so… I suggest ye not touch it. Keep the ice on as long as yer awake tonight, twenty minutes on, twenty minutes off. Ye're going to be just fine." If he's noted that Madam Malfoy has taken over the hostess's favorite chair, he says nothing, but stands again, a hand going to her elbow. "For now, I suggest ye have a seat. If ye'd like, I can take care of brewing the tea fer ye." He leads over to the love seat across from the seat and sees her settled. His wand puts the ottoman back into place.

Rhyeline blinks and peeks over at Ismene out of the corner of her eye when the woman voices even the slightest sympathy- however unconvincing it might be. Once Keenan completes his examination, she returns the ice to her cheek and gives a small obedient nod. The offer of tea draws a soft, shy smile from the girl and nodding, she murmurs, "Yes, please… I'd like that…" It's because of him that she doesn't drink coffee anymore. But at least she does like tea.

Cassius stands near Rhyeline, perhaps sensing her desire for his proximity. But as he watches, his attention is firmly on Keenan, furtively observing his manner and demeanor as he works. "Is there anything you can do to remove the damage now? I would hate for poor Miss Diderot to have to look at a bruise in the mirror for the next few days."

"Yes," Ismene Malfoy begins to echo her nephew, her sharp little black eyes boring into the half-blood healer, from whom she hasn't looked away, "is there any more you might do for her now? Or — is your approach to be as tentative in this as in all else? Her condition has hardly improved, these past months…"

Keenan nods slowly as he rises, having given a reassuring grin to Rhyeline on the tea fixing request. "But Miss Diderot's condition is no like normal people. As you well know, we are doing our best to keep a powerfully lethal curse dormant inside her. She already has many spells and potions at work in her body, that it is best to not disturb her system with even the slightest extra one if we can help it." He turns to Cassius once he is at full height, not a conscious use of his height, but just that he is now standing. "I'm sure you're aware that magic is energy, and sometimes that energy is in a very delicate balance. And none more so than in Miss Diderot." He gives both of the Malfoys, even the more contentious one, a respectful bow and turns his way to the kitchen for some water to boil.

Rhyeline peeks up at Cassius with a small, appreciative smile when he speaks up on her behalf. However, when Ismene criticises the hard work Keenan has put into keeping her from slipping away, Rhyeline's gaze widens in alarm and dart to Keenan. When he doesn't seem to take Ismene's comment as a result of something she might have said, and when he is rather gracious in the face of such a comment, the little one calms and peeks cautiously over at Ismene.

"Some magic," Cassius concedes to Keenan's explanation of magic as energy. "I wasn't aware a Patch-Up Spell carried such risk," he adds with clear skepticism. "But we must be fair, Aunt Ismene. Miss Diderot has, indeed, made progress — and with all of the care that her case will be getting, that progress will undoubtedly multiply fruitfully."

His aunt makes a sound in her throat, which might be the precursor to laughter, or then again the precursor to strangulation. Someone else's strangulation. "A great deal of care, indeed," she agrees, her eyes having fixed upon Rhyeline since the halfblooded Irish healer's departure to the kitchen, where he and his sort belong. Rhyeline is looking at her, too — though perhaps her gaze lowers beneath the weight of Madam Malfoy's. "Ask him," she says softly, "for your latest test results, which mentioned having received today."

Having been over a few times, and paid attention the Rhyeline's movements, Keenan has little trouble locating and putting together a tea tray. He boils two pots, though. "Mr. Malfoy, Miss Diderot has shown herself to be most resilient over the past months that I've been treating her, and also appears to have an aversion to receiving medical treatment beyond what she absolutely needs. If she keeps ice on it tonight, it will be barely noticeable in the morning." He sets the tray down, and serves the lady of the house first from the smallest pot, and offers to serve first Madame Malfoy, and then Cassius from a larger teapot of non-sleep inducing tea. He takes his own tea and sits in a chair, leaving the rest of the loveseat should he wish to sit next to her to further protect her. As for the test results, they are only going to be divulged if the patient wishes, it seems.

Rhyeline parts her lips to speak once Ismene has quietly instructed her to ask for the test results. But then, gazing at the woman, the little one hesitates and remains silent. Instead, she simply gives a small nod. With a hesitant peek up at Cassius, she glances towards the kitchen where Keenan is making tea. It isn't until the tea is served and Keenan is seated that Rhyeline speaks up at last. "I… I was wondering if… if I could know what the results of- of the recent tests were? Do- do you suppose that- that I could return to work?"

Cassius takes the offered tea from Keenan with a polite nod. "As you say, Healer O'Shea." At Rhyeline's question, his eyebrows lift curiously over the rim of the cup. Obviously, he is all ears.

By what right does the man take on the role of a host in Rhyeline Diderot's flat? Madam Malfoy gives Keenan O'Shea a downright glacial look as he sets a cup and saucer before her; but, seeing her nephew drink the tea, she commences, with a faint pursing of her lips, to remove her tight black leather gloves, drawing them inch by inch away from her bony white fingers, revealing her curious hanged-man signet ring, neither Malfoy nor Lestrange but peculiar to herself, and, of all things, an enormous emerald on her other hand. She — listens.

Not that he is settled with his own tea, Keenan takes a sip, and then glances to Rhyeline. "Ah, yes. Yer test results. I was going to bring them over for our meeting tomorrow, so I don't have them with me at present. So ye'll have to take my word." He crosses his legs comfortably so that he can balance his tea on his leg with one hand. "Ye remember how last time we'd been able to draw it from yer extremities and bring it together, rather than it being all spread out?" he waits only a brief moment for the young woman to give a sign, then he continues. "Well, it's appearing that the contained curse is beginning to…" he pauses and draws his brows together, "whither, I think is the best word for it."

Rhyeline brightens, positively beams when Keenan tells her that her curse is in fact fading. Never has such sudden, unfiltered delight touched the girl's features. She looks as if she might hug each and every single one of them, even Ismene. Somehow, she maintains her composure. "Does that mean- I can return to work?" Her first thought. That was it.

Her second glove lands in her black silk lap, atop the first; and Madam Malfoy lifts the saucer in her left hand, bringing it smoothly to a point halfway between gloves and lips. Then her right hand takes over, transporting her cup the rest of the way up — only to pause, at something she's heard. She doesn't drink. The cup rattles back into the saucer, the saucer onto the table at her elbow. Her eyes bore into the inadequately-shaven healer. "'Wither', you say."

Eyebrows raise over curious green eyes as Keenan turns his gaze to the older woman. "Aye, ma'am. It appears so." The curiosity may be a little more than idle, but he returns his attention to Rhyeline. "I seem to hear that question every time I come over here," he muses, but the gleam in his eyes has turned to a warmer tease, and he pauses, considering. "I was going to spend the morning going over past history of your condition, and compare notes with what brought you back to Mungo's this last time, just to be sure I'm not pushing ye out to early. In fact, I still am." He gives a mock stern look to the young woman. "But it's looking very favorable."

Rhyeline fixes her gaze with such bright eagerness on Keenan, leaning forward with her hands planted together, flat on the loveseat. She ducks her head a bit under his mock-stern gaze, but when he tells her it's looking favorable, she smiles, glowing with happiness. "Thank you! Thank you so much." Looking to Ismene, forgetting herself for just a moment, she adds another heartfelt, "Thank you."

Cassius smiles warmly down at Rhyeline, lifting his teacup as if in a toast. "That is wonderful news. You've been so eager to get back on that old broomstick."

For an instant Madam Malfoy relents in her observation of Keenan; her gaze brushes, feather-light, over Rhyeline's face, then lifts to the healer again. "Well," she states. "Now that you've delivered your news, Healer O'Shea, you mustn't let us keep you. After all," her eyebrow goes up again, "you're only calling on your way home from another engagement, to ensure that Miss Diderot shall sleep well tonight — and I see she just swallowed a yawn…"

"Well, then, my tea must be working, aye?" Keenan shoots a grin to Rhyeline. "I am quite familiar with the placement of the door to this place, having been through it many times." He returns his half drunk tea to the tray. "Madame Malfoy, Mr. Malfoy, a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I have some charts to review early in the morning, so, if ye would be so kind as to excuse me," he gives them a bow, and again gives Rhyeline a surreptitious wink. "Be sure to see me before ye return to work, though. Good night, Miss Diderot." With that, he turns, and walks towards the door.

Rhyeline looks far too excited to be sleepy, but the little one knows better than to ever contradict Madam Malfoy. Watching Keenan go, his subtle wink renews her smile and with a nod she says, "Good night… I- Thank you again… Soon? We can-" She peeks at Cassius before looking back over at Keenan. "Soon we can speak of- of certainties?"

Cassius offers a polite half-bow to Keenan as he goes. "So good to properly meet you at last, Master Healer. Have a pleasant evening."

Madam Malfoy doesn't rise. She lets her nephew speak for the family (as, once upon a time, she was wont to let her husband speak) and only looks after Keenan, twisting her lips, in an attitude of pureblooded superiority and distrust.

Keenan turns back at the entryway and nods. "Soon, Miss Diderot," he promises. He looks across the room to Cassius, green eyes meeting the Malfoys for a moment as he accepts the good bye. "Thank ye for allowing the intrusion on yer evening. Please enjoy the rest of yer evening." He bows once more, and is gone.

The ice wrapped in the cloth is starting to drip, but Rhyeline dutifully continues to press it to her cheek. Once Keenan has gone, Rhyeline peeks up at Cassius with the brightest, unguarded little smile. "It's working… and- and soon… soon I can come and work again. Cassius, it's fading…"

"That may be so," Ismene Malfoy sniffs, "but you look very tired, child. I shall examine the dregs of that tea to see just what he's given you… In the meantime, run up to bed, before you fall down. Cassius and I will let ourselves out."

Cassius's eyes linger on the space so recently occupied by Keenan. He nods slowly to Rhyeline's words, his features a stoic mask. When he finally looks to Rhyeline, he offers a reserved smile. "Soon," he echoes.

Rhyeline's smile doesn't waver as she gazes up at Cassius' reserved smile. Perhaps she fancies that she can see beyond his mask. However then, when Ismene instructs her to run up to bed, the girl hesitates, looking to her, and then peeking up at Cassius. She knows better than to argue or contradict Ismene, so with a small, obedient nod, she rises. "Thank you so much… It- it was good to see you both… I- Good night." And hands clasped behind her back, she heads off.

Having watched Rhyeline's receding figure until it's out of sight, Madam Malfoy turns to her nephew. The cup of tea poured for her by Keenan O'Shea cools on a table between them. "I don't care for that man," she comments coldly.

Cassius doesn't respond right away, and listens for a moment to the sounds of Rhyeline retiring. Satisfied that she is tucked away and out of earshot, he speaks a low, uncharacteristically icy tone. "He is an obstacle."

His aunt's face remains perfectly static; but the tone of her voice lowers another two or three degrees, a feat one would hardly have thought possible. "I don't imagine you've much affection for those, have you, Cassius."

Cassius offers Ismene a thin-lipped smile. "I do not. I find them especially distasteful when they threaten the security of what is mine." His eyes shift indicatively toward Rhyeline's bedroom.

"Yours, then?" his aunt breathes, with an expression of detached curiosity. Her hands are clasped in her lap, her back absolutely straight. "I wonder…"

Cassius nods without hesitation as he seats himself, throne-like, in an armchair. "Was there any question? You'll find that I am very selective about whom and what I acquire, and I keep them quite jealously."

Madam Malfoy's pointed hat shifts slightly as she follows his movement with her eyes: "My knowledge of you, in more than the public sphere, is slight," she admits, "though this past week I grant you I have felt the lack."

"Consider this a window into my being, Aunt Ismene." There is a regality in Cassius posture and tone that he typically keeps quite subdued, despite his natural charisma and assumption of leadership. "Do I detect a question on your tongue?"

"*A* question?" she echoes, making once again that drily amused sound in her throat. Questions, she answers with other questions; she gives little.

Cassius chuckles, amused at his aunt's oh-so-Malfoyish ways. "In any case, this isn't the venue for it. My invitation to Berylwood remains open. Come for an extended stay, if you like. I should like the company. The house can feel so empty at times."

And then she does laugh; a surprisingly rich soprano sound, emanating from deep within her curved, silk-encased figure. "I like an empty house," she remarks at last, "and with the potions I have in mind for Miss Diderot I should not like to be long away from my work-room; but if you're so very hard-up for company… Dinner, one evening this coming week?"

Cassius nods firmly, rising to his feet once again. "I'll look forward to your owl. Chef will prepare something special. Now I think we should leave Miss Diderot's home in peace. May I walk you out?"

An interesting compromise… Madam Malfoy seems for an instant almost on the point of laughing again; but whatever impulse there is in her toward mirth, she stifles ruthlessly. She glances once more towards the foyer and the stairs which lead up to Rhyeline's chamber; then sniffs, and begins putting on her gloves, a protracted procedure given their tight fit. "Yes, you may."

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