(1938-10-16) Suspicions and Omissions
Details for Suspicions and Omissions
Summary: After discussing Unity Party business with Cassius, Rhyeline finally hints at the true reason for her health's improvement.
Date: Wednesday, October 16, 1938
Location: Berylwood Estate


This villa estate is nestled behind a natural barrier of trees, forming a thinly forested ring around the entire property. A gated driveway winds through a sprawling garden, teeming with sterling roses and topiary trees in various serpentine and draconic shapes. The driveway ends in a large circle, at the center of which is a smaller garden, complete with a stone fountain carved in the shape of a hydra, spouting several fonts one from each of the seven heads.

The three-story manor itself is constructed of brick and stone, resembling a castle. The interior of the house is dark black marble with forest green accents. Silvery-white draperies are used liberally to reflect light and contrast the marble. Entrants through the front doors come in through a reception hall (complete with crystal chandelier), from which rises a grand staircase leading to the other floors. Also on this level is a formal dining room, kitchen, breakfast room, training room, solar, library, and indoor pool. A stairwell from the kitchen leads down to a fully stocked wine cellar. The second story contains the master suite, a secondary bedroom, game room, music room, and a study. Four more bedrooms occupy the third floor.

Two other buildings rest on the property, flanking the manor house a staff house and a guest house. Both are in the same style as the main house's exterior, though not as extravagant on the inside.

Around the back of the main house is a second garden, in the form of a hedge maze (enchanted so that only those of strong Malfoy blood can easily navigate it), at the center of which is a domed structure with mirrored glass walls.

During the day, Berylwood manor stands silent and empty under the grey October sky. The staff and house elf tend to their tasks with their usual, unobtrusive stealth. However, on this cold and dreary day in particular, Rhyeline has at last taken Cassius up on his offer to come and go swimming in the manor's indoor, heated pool.

Despite having grown up on the coast, Rhyeline might not seem the strongest of swimmers due to her fragile health. She keeps to the edges of the pool and treads water. Perhaps the reason for coming when she thought Cassius would not be at home, she wears the latest wizarding fashion in swimsuits. In essence, it is the shortest little dress with string straps over her narrow shoulders. Emphasizing her delicate feminine charms are ruffles that cascade with tattered elegance.

Though she moves slowly in the water, it is with the sleek grace of a water nymph. Having lost track of time, she is drifting upon her back, eyes closed in the middle of the pool when the house elves inform their master that he has a familiar young visitor.

Cassius's arrival in the pool room is announced by the masculine click of his heels on the tiled floor, which echoes acoustically throughout the chamber. He strolls casually alongside the water, himself fully dressed in pressed slacks, forest-green shirt, and a brocade velvet waistcoat patterned with dragons. A light smile touches his lips as he observes the dainty Rhyeline, waiting patiently for her to acknowledge his presence.

Lost in thought, it takes a moment for the sound of Cassius' footsteps to register. When he catches her drifting there, her eyes widen and with a squeak she splashes. Blushing bright, she tries at once to cover herself while still staying afloat. It's not working well, so she finally makes her way to the side, panting softly. Avoiding Cassius' gaze out of embarrassment, she murmurs, "Good- good evening, Cassius…"

Cassius cannot help a bit of amusement at Rhyeline's shyness. "Forgive me. I didn't mean to startle you. My valet told me you were here, so I though to look in on you. I can give you privacy, if you prefer." He half-turns, gesturing back to the entrance, but pausing to await her response.

"No, it- it's alright," murmurs Rhyeline, though she hides against the side of the pool as she gazes up at him. "I- I wanted to speak with you. But- I guess I lost track of time…"

Cassius spins on his heel to face her again, clasping his hands behind his back. "I need to speak with you as well. Bu don't let me interrupt your time in the water. Tell me what is on your mind."

Rhyeline blinks, tilting her head to the side with the look of a curious kitten. But, at his request, she nods and murmurs, "I received a letter today from Mr. Brad Moody…" Thanks to Rhyeline's reports, no doubt Cassius will be well informed of the young pure-blood man's talk-show criticism of the Unity Party. "He- he asked if I would come and- and be a guest on his show." It is clear from the look in her eyes that she is very cautious, even suspicious of this request.

Cassius chuckles, his brow lifting. "How curious. That is precisely what I wanted to speak to you about. But you say he invited you? How very curious. Are you acquainted with the man?"

Rhyeline shakes her head, sinking a bit deeper into the water so as to hide a bit more against the edge of the pool. Peeking up at him, she murmurs, "No… and- whatever his reason… he always tries to- to trap his guests… I don't- don't think that- that I could do it… even speaking to him alone would be difficult. But- for the whole would to hear?" The little mouse's eyes shine with fear at the thought.

Cassius folds his arms over his chest and taps his chin thoughtfully. "Mmm…I'm afraid I concur. I believe he has invited you hoping to find a chink in our armour. I hope you take no offense to that. But this is simply not the work you were hired for. But it does provide the avenue for what I desire, which is for you arrange my appearance on his programme."

There is no trace of hurt in the girl's eyes. She knows well what her weaknesses are. However, when Cassius asks that she arrange for him to speak, she blinks before giving a small nod. "I could do that… in- in that case… I will go and speak with him… I will see what I can do…" Her voice seems softer, more as it was in the days when she served Magnus Troy.

Cassius nods. "Very good. If he puts up any argument about you not appearing, you may simply tell him that I have no authorized it, as you are not a spokeswoman for the party. If he refuses to have me on, we'll have Astoria Bletchley interview me, and I'll mention it to her. That should put a dent in his credibility."

Rhyeline rises a bit more in the water so that he can see her warm, appreciative smile. "…thank you, Cassius." Hesitating a moment, she tilts her head to the side and murmurs, "Would- would you care to join me? And swim? Or…" she turns a bit pinker, "We could perhaps- have some tea?" She hides once more behind the edge of the pool slightly.

"Tea sounds delightful," Cassius replies with a nod. "Why don't you get dried off, and come meet me in the solar. Chef made a delicious lemon cake last night. Shall I have a slice ready for you?"

"Yes please," murmurs Rhyeline in a soft, meek little voice. She remains hidden until Cassius has left her alone, before she slips out of the water and goes to get dressed.

Some time later, Cassius is lounging in the solar, perusing the latest edition of the Daily Prophet. On the cover, Minister for Magic Gambol is nodding sternly, speaking silently to an unseen audience. Upon a low table nearby is a fully loaded tea tray, and two small plates bearing slices of lemon cake. Well, one of them has half a slice. Cassius got peckish.

Rhyeline slips into the solar at last, wearing a warm looking silk dress with loose, flowing sleeves that gather at her wrists. The dress hugs her upper body rather close, before it flows out from her narrow waist in full, flowing layers of silk, cascading well past her knees. Her hair is still pinned up in a full, elegant bun, though quite a few wisps of hair have escaped. "I'd forgotten just how beautiful and peaceful Berylwood can be…" she murmurs as she joins him.

"I was very selective in deciding where I would live," Cassius comments as he pours her a fresh cup of tea. "I wanted someplace that evoked the grandeur of Malfoy Manor. Not easy to find in London. Of course, most of the credit must go to my gardeners." He sets the newspaper aside, folding his hands over his belly. "So, what do you make of this Brad Moody? He plays the part of a radical, but he doesn't strike me as stupid. He's after an audience, not truth. But I should like it if I could corner him into agreeing with me on air."

"He strikes me as a passionate- rather emotional individual. He believes his words are truth- which is more dangerous because he will be harder to affect." After a small sip of tea, she peeks up at Cassius through her lashes, meeting his gaze.

Cassius arches an eyebrow. "You think he honestly believes his own rhetoric? Perhaps he is stupid, after all." He shakes his head. "We may need some market research on his audience before we agree to anything, then. I want to know who his listeners are; whether they are merely those that already agree with him, or if he reaches a broader demographic that I can influence."

"The pure-blood community- many of them are quite taken with his rhetoric. They share his emotional prejudices towards muggles and any attempt to re-unite with them…" Of course his little assistant has already performed such analysis, anticipating Cassius' eventual need of it.

Cassius shrugs, unconcerned. "That should present no great difficulty. Many are the purists that support us. It is simply a matter of demonstrating to them that Unity means no longer living in fear of Muggles. That is gives us an opportunity to shape our collective future."

Rhyeline's smile brightens as she watches, listening. Where she is weak at speaking up for Unity to the broader public, Cassius is quite skilled. Such strength seems to reassure her a great deal. Nodding, she murmurs, "Yes. I think that your voice could prove very infuential, especially if put in contrast with his… I will do all that I can to arrange for you to speak on his broadcast…"

Cassius leans his head back in his armchair, smiling with satisfaction. "Excellent. Now then, is there any other business at hand? Or can we speak of simpler things?"

"I- No, I don't think that there's anything else…" Despite the reassuring results of her most recent test, Healer Keenan has yet to pronounce her well enough to return to work full time. So, matters needing discussion end there. The girl tilts her head to the side, looking curious of what simpler things might be.

The diminutive woman's thoughts may have been closer to the mark than she imagined. "Perhaps not entirely simple," Cassius notes. "But it occurs to me that we still have not done our research into your condition. You must forgive me if I find Healer O'Shea's prognosis suspicious."

"What- what do you mean?" Rhyeline bites her lower lip. Keeping her head slightly bowed, she peeks up at Cassius and brings her tea to her lips for a small sip.

Cassius sighs patiently, furrowing his brow with concern. "You don't find it the least bit unusual that, after a year of very little progress, he suddenly makes a breakthrough as soon as we took power out of his hands by giving your records to my aunt? The moment he sensed that he was no longer in control, he announced a remarkable discovery, which he conveniently had no proof for at the time. Quite the thing to reinforce your faith in his miraculous abilities."

Averting her gaze, Rhyeline seems a bit self conscious as she tucks a loose wisp of hair behind her ear. "Madam Malfoy is the reason for the change… Healer Keenan made the curse be not so wide-spread… but she- she has made it start to fade…"

Cassius tut-tuts. "Something he should have given her credit for. I tell you, Rhyeline, the man is an egomaniac. Far more concerned with his own sense of superiority than with helping others. I don't trust him."

"I- I haven't told him about- about what Madam Malfoy has been doing… he'd ask questions… and- I'd rather not… not talk about… about it with him…" murmurs Rhyeline, lowering her gaze before taking another sip of tea. Her cheeks remain rather warm. Either the bruise has faded, or she has applied some water resistant, magical cosmetics.

Cassius purses his lips into a frown. "Loathe as I am to say it, he is your Healer. For the same reasons that Aunt Ismene needed to know what he had been giving you, he needs to know what you have received from her. Naturally, my preference would be that you find another Healer to inform. But if you insist upon staying with him, he needs to be kept in the know."

"She- Her methods aren't… gentle… she is- is testing your hypothesis… she's… weakening it by- by starving it… no chemicals… He- he doesn't need to know," murmurs Rhyeline so softly, it might be hard to hear her.

Cassius's furrowed brow begins to resemble a scowl. "Chemicals? You mean potions? What, exactly, is she doing?"

"She's… she's helping me. She is- teaching me to accept… to not- not be selfish… or- to desire control as- as Ambassador Troy always did… because it is that darkness that gives the curse strength…" Sensing his scowl, Rhyeline withdraws behind her cup of tea, her cheeks burning bright as she continues to avoid his gaze.

Cassius is still as a stone, save for a single index finger tapping in rhythm. For several beats, he simply stares in silence at her. "Mental reconditioning. Why am I only now hearing about this?"

Rhyeline clings tight to the teacup in her hands. "Because- at first… I wasn't sure what to do… I hesitated… and then- I had waited so long, I- I knew you'd wonder why I hadn't told you… so… I hesitated more.."

Cassius nods slowly with her explanation, his face remaining cool and unyielding. "I am deeply displeased, Rhyeline. I had you trained in Occlumency to prevent exactly this sort of thing. I cannot have your mind compromised by another. Not even a relative of mine."

Rhyeline grows quite still and her eyes glisten slightly upon hearing Cassius' words. It takes her a moment before she parts her lips to speak, and another moment before she finds her voice. Soft, and wavering, she murmurs, "She isn't delving into my mind… nor is- is she changing me… she is- is simply weakening what is already weak in me…"

Cassius rises from his seat, turning to face the window. His jaw tightens with a suppressed anger rarely seen on his face. "Why in the name of Merlin would you not consider that to be changing you? By the stars, Rhyeline. She's a Malfoy and a Lestrange both. If you think I consider O'Shea troublesome, he is nothing compared to the danger of exposing weakness to my great-aunt."

Setting aside her cup of tea, Rhyeline folds her arms across her slender waist. "It was at my mother's request that she is helping me… She and my mother were friends… She is kind to me, even if she isn't gentle as Healer Keenan is… my mother wasn't either. And- I keep your secrets safe, Cassius… I don't- don't understand… she has- has proven you right… that- that starving the curse will- will weaken it…"

Cassius turns his head her direction, but not quite looking at her. "By weakening you, in your own words. Weakening, Rhyeline. A chink in your armour that Ismene is now fully aware of, and that you have kept hidden from me."

Rhyeline averts her gaze, her cheeks burning with shame. "I- I should have mentioned it sooner. Please- please forgive me, Cassius… She- she isn't weakening me… What aspect of my nature she weakens, I feel it- it makes me stronger… the qualities in me you appreciate, they are stronger…"

Cassius's chilly demeanour is unrelenting. "You reveal how much you still have to learn about the human mind. Whatever you feel, a part of you has been made small, vulnerable. It doesn't matter if that part is some darkness inside you. We all need darkness. But what makes this a problem is not that this has happened. It is that she knows. She knows precisely where you are vulnerable. This is so much worse than O'Shea's obsession with control. That, I can predict and counter. But this? I have no idea what my aunt's intentions might be. I'll soon have no choice but to open her mind. That is a risk I had very much wanted to avoid taking."

Peeking up at Cassius, Rhyeline's dark eyes continue to shine with frightened tears. "Her intentions- she is acting at my mother's request… as a favor… and- intellectual curiosity… and- I think… she has developed some- some sort of affection for me… It's… it's not dangerous… she sees only what is easy to see…"

Cassius turns slowly toward Rhyeline, pinching the bridge of his nose in a show of exasperation. "To believe that is naive. The woman thrives on controversy. She has a desperate need to undermine and crush those around her to compensate for her own sense of inadequacy. She is an unreasoning bigot, and you are a half-blood. But you don't think she's dangerous?"

Rhyeline blinks, trying to keep tears from spilling. "I know she could be dangerous… I haven't forgotten what might happen if she finds out what I am… But- I know her secrets as well, Cassius… When she finds out- at the worst, she will withdraw her interest in me… That's all…"

"Is it in your nature to underestimate people that you choose to care about?" Cassius says sharply. "Do you imagine us all to be saints and angels? Ismene, Healer O'Shea, Ambassador Troy? Even myself? This idealisation of us is a vulnerability, Rhyeline. It can and will be used to control you."

Those sharp words strike Rhyeline like a slap across her cheek. Hugging herself tight, she parts her lips to speak, but at last, her voice fails her. Now she simply watches him, waiting to see what will come next. Her eyes brim with tears, but she refuses now to blink and allow a tear to slip down her burning cheeks.

Cassius's nostrils flare for a moment, marking the peak of his anger. But he soon finds the other side of the mountain, and begins to descend back into his calm, collected demeanour. "You will prepare for me a report detailing, with exacting precision, what your treatments from Ismene Malfoy have entailed. You will not engage in any further such treatments until I have had the opportunity to evaluate them. You know that I wish to see you free of this curse. But this situation has created a potential breach of security in the Unity Party, and that is much bigger than either of us."

Tears slip down her warm cheeks at last. Turning away, she brings up a hand to wipe away the tears with her sleeve. She sniffs thickly. "There's no breech… I could harm her as much as she would harm me if she revealed my secrets…" she murmurs faintly.
Cassius sighs in an obvious effort at patience. "Except that she knows very well that any harm to her could reflect upon me, as she is my family. You have underestimated her, Rhyeline, and you have been outmanoeuvred."

Rhyeline pauses, glistening eyes widening. This had not occurred to her. Her gaze shines with fear as she lifts it towards Cassius. She parts her lips to speak, but no words come. She looks lost- defeated.

Cassius retakes his seat, perching on the edge of his chair. With a heavy sigh, he relents. "I am as much to blame as you are. I urged you to seek her aid. I should have seen this coming. But blast it all, I was so desperate to get you out from under O'Shea's thumb that I blinded myself to the risks."

Hugging herself tight, Rhyeline doesn't try to stop the tear that drops from her delicate jawline and onto her arm. "It's her intentions that matter… not what she's done…" she murmurs faintly.

"Best we assume her intentions are to serve her own needs, not ours," Cassius says evenly. "She does not support Unity. She regards everyone around her with disdain, particularly Muggles. She, like so many hard-noses purists, sees Unity as a threat to her beliefs. I absolutely believe that she would seize an opportunity to hamper us if she saw one, regardless of her initial intentions."

Hugging herself tight with fear, Rhyeline lowers her gaze. Gazing through blurred vision at her knees, she murmurs in a faint, quiet tone, "I trusted her… it was necessary to- to make the curse fade… I thought- it was what you wanted… but I should have told you. I should have. I'll… I'll understand if-" But her voice vanishes with a faint squeak. Trembling, she closes her eyes.

Cassius lifts his gaze to look into her face. "Don't finish that sentence," he commands, but softly. "Look at me, Rhyeline. You are one of mine, and I look after what is mine. Surely you have come to know this about me by now."

Still trembling, Rhyeline lifts her gaze to meet his. His words fill her eyes with more tears still. Now her eyes shine with emotion far more powerful than fear. Without a word, she rises and with only the slightest hesitation to make sure of her balance, she approaches him. If he allows it, she will draw close, wrapping her arms around his chest as tight as she can and hide against his shoulder.

As she moves into him, Cassius straightens and puts his arms around her. He holds her firmly…possessively. Had another entered the room at that moment, they would find a dark look in his eyes, warning away all intruders. Like a prince guarding a favoured treasure, he radiates authority and absolute dominion.

Sitting in his lap, her arms tighten even more around him. "Please… please, please… don't ever let me go…Not ever…" Rhyeline whispers, clinging desperately tight to the fabric of his robes. "Please forgive my weaknesses… my mistakes… Please…"

Cassius strokes her hair gently. "Hush now, pet. I do not discard those that have shown such loyalty to me. There is nothing we cannot overcome. Disappointment is merely an obstacle, not a terminus."

Rhyeline shivers, savoring the gentle touch of his hand stroking across her pinned hair. Melting against him, she rests her warm, tear-stained cheek against his shoulder and whispers against his neck, "If what she knows is dangerous… she could be made to forget… but- the things she has done… they've helped… you were right… because of them- I don't feel death so close…"

Cassius nods serenely. "We'll deal with it, one way or another. Having her Obliviated is an extreme step…but not entirely off the table. I do want that report from you. I need to know everything. And, if you'll permit it, when we are in a calmer state, I now believe more than ever that I should use Legilimency to examine your mind."

As slender and fragile as she is, Rhyeline is quite light in Cassius' lap. Reminded to make a full report, Rhyeline bites her lower lip and her hands tighten once more on the fabric of his robes. In a soft, small voice, she murmurs, "…if you're going to see… do I need to write it?"

"Yes," he confirms. "It will focus your thoughts on the details, and give me a map to know better what to look for. Legilimency always works best in tandem with such mnemonic devices."

Though her reluctance to share such things is more than clear, writing will be the easiest way for her. And so, biting her lower lip, she falls silent and just gives a small nod. Then, closing her eyes, she nuzzles closer and tucks her head beneath his jawline, seeking his reassuring warmth.

For once, the emptiness of Berylwood is a good thing, as there are none but the staff to possibly catch a glimpse of Cassius and his assistant in a someone compromising pose. For some time, he simply holds her, offering the comfort of a master tending to a beloved pet.

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