(1938-10-12) A Bit of Political Scheming
Details for A Bit of Political Scheming
Summary: Astoria makes Cassius an offer that he doesn't refuse.
Date: October 10, 1938
Location: Berylwood Estate
Related: Plot: Unity

Never let it be said that Cassius Malfoy is not an accommodating host. As soon as the house-elf informed him that the carriage he sent for Astoria had passed the gates, he hurried outside to greet her. When the footman opens the carriage door, Cassius's tall, crisply dressed, smiling form is awaiting her. "Miss Bletchley. Welcome to my home. I'm so delighted you could make the trip."

Astoria rode quietly in the carriage, legs crossed, with her attention set on the surrounding landscape. When the carriage halts, she departs from it with ease. She nods silently to the footman, providing him with a brief, practiced smile, before focusing on Cassius. "Mister Malfoy - I am delighted to have been invited," she replies. Her robes are more formal than usual, but not too formal. She curtsies, but only slight, and offers a hand.

Cassius takes her hand, pausing to bow his head over it in a show of genteel courtesy, then helps her down from the vehicle. "Would you care for a tour of the grounds? Or would you rather go directly inside? I'll understand if it's a bit chilly."

Astoria's smile broadens a little before her features relax. Her expression is focused, and somewhat darkened by her narrowed eyebrows while she regards Cassius. "Perhaps another time. It is not that I am disinterested," she answers, "but, as you say, it is a bit chilly."

Cassius nods in agreement. "Of course. Come, we'll retire to the library, if that suits you." He offers his arm before leading her into the house, the door opening and shutting seemingly of its own accord, but undoubtedly thanks to the house-elf lingering nearby. Though the house is enormous, it only takes moments to reach the library, as it is on the first level, directly off of the reception hall. "Feel free to peruse, if you like, or we can get right to it." He offers a seat on a chaise lounge, taking his own in a leather armchair. Within moments, the house-elf appears with a *pop*, a tray of tea hovering by his side.

Astoria takes Cassius' arm, gently, and follows him into the home. "It does," Astoria agrees with a nod. Her gaze wanders as they walk, and as they enter the library. After Cassius' final statement, Astoria grins and glances towards the books. "I am fond of books, but I should, as they say, cut to the chase," she remarks. A moment later she plucks a cup of tea from the tray, as well as some sugar, and finds a chair. She seats herself slowly and crosses one leg over the other. "I am here to make you an offer - thus far, the Unity Party has gained momentum at a slow, but steady pace. I believe I can increase that momentum by publishing a series of articles in the Daily Prophet that would result in a vast increase of exposure, and aid in a political paradigm shift across Britain." She blows on the surface of her tea. "The process would take time," she admits, "but my ambitions are equal to the task."

Cassius gestures to a low table, and at the elf's will, a cup of tea hovers over to settle upon it, along with a dash of sugar. "Not that I have any objection to more attention from the Daily Prophet, but exposure has never been a major issue for us." He smirks wryly, adding, "The controversial nature of our message tends to turn heads. Our slow momentum is not an accident. Pushing ideas like these onto people too quickly only causes them to resist by virtue of fearing change. Allowing them to grow accustomed to new ideas over time, letting the seeds of those ideas grow and flourish in their minds, carefully nurtured, holds a greater promise of bearing fruit. That said, the time my be ripe — if you will excuse my excessive fruit metaphors — to look to the harvest. What sort of articles did you have in mind?"

Astoria listens quietly as Cassius explains the fruits of his labor. She nods at various points. "I did not realize the slow growth was intentional, but it is a clever method," she remarks, expression narrowing. She adds, "My usual forte are articles from a historical perspective. There are two points in history that can be examined and, eventually, unraveled. The first is the passing of the International Statute of Secrecy. It would be essential to explain the differences in political climate between then, and now. By unraveling the ignorance many have for why that legislation was put in place, many will see why its removal would be so beneficial. Especially with the forming and reforming of our government, much of which did not exist when the statue was passed. The second point in history is, of course, The Great War, where much of the world suffered from what I term the, "do nothing," mentality. And, despite the noble efforts of magical law enforcement, the wizarding world was still shaken by the muggle war." She pauses. "As many historians say, history will repeat itself - a valid motivator for many, I think, especially if war were to come to British soil."

Cassius's smile broadens with every word she speaks, until he is all cat-like grins. "Splendid. Absolutely splendid. I should rather like hearing your voice on the matter. That Gilbert Sullivan with the Preservation Society likes to imagine he has some deep grasp of history and Muggle-kind that the rest of us poor, ignorant slobs cannot possibly understand. I should very much like to see his propaganda ground into dust. Tell me, Miss Bletchley, how can I help?"

"I am sure he is an intelligent man," Astoria says, taking a moment to sip her tea, "but I am a crafty opponent. I will meet him on battlefields he did not know existed." She smiles, but only briefly, and takes another sip. After a pause she answers, "I am an ambitious woman. There is no need to be coy about this fact, though, of course, there are protocols to be followed. Assuming I am successful, I expect your aid in securing some… position of prominence. A few Bletchleys have sat on the Wizengamot, or held other prominent positions. Helping me secure one of those would satisfy my ambition." She sets her tea aside. "As for more immediate help - we must arrange an interview. I will do most of the heavy lifting in terms of research and such."

Cassius dips his head in agreement. "I never forget my friends, Miss Bletchley. However, I must inquire as to what position you assume I will be in to elevate you. My goals are ideological. My present status at the Ministry is…tenuous. Needless to say, the Minister for Magic doesn't much care for me or my political aims."

Astoria shrugs. "A foot in the doorway, a whisper in the correct ear - when the notion takes me, Mister Malfoy, I will seek you out and inquire as to the possibility." She pauses. "As for the Minister - she strikes me as a politician, first and foremost. The friends of opponents of a politician can change with the slightest of breezes. And the breeze from Germany is more than slight," she says with a wink.

Cassius shakes his head. "Don't underestimate Minister Gambol. She is a politician, yes. But she is also a woman of considerable fortitude. I'm sure she isn't above compromise, but she already has powerful allies, which allows her the luxury of sticking to her convictions. Changing her course will be a long and difficult road."

Astoria listens quietly to Cassius. She gently strokes beneath her lip, nodding as he speaks. "I will defer to your assessment," she agrees with a nod. "Before we conclude, is there anything that you wish of me in relation to these articles?" she asks.

Cassius nods. "One thing, yes. Some time ago, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by one of your colleagues. Miss Philomena Rowle. I do believe that interview gave her career quite a boost, as her article did much to unravel the lies being put forth by Sullivan and his mob. As I said, I do not forget my friends. I would like you to consult with her, and possibly share the occasional by-line with her on some of these articles."

"Of course. Philomena and I get along quite well, and I enjoy the work we have done together." Astoria stands and lowers her teacup. She finds the elf and extends the china towards the little creature, offering it the smallest of smiles. A moment later her attention turns to Cassius. "I look forward to the interview. If you are not opposed, and if I may be so bold, I would enjoy some time in your library. May I?"

Cassius rises, giving Astoria a gentlemanly bow. "Be my guest. If you will excuse me, there are some matters I must attend to. But remain here as long as you like. If you get peckish, the staff will see to your needs. Good day, Miss Bletchley."

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